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-   -   What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair) (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=5912)

Whatfur 09-02-2010 08:13 AM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ken Davis (Post 177518)
The significance of the risk is up to the woman to decide, not a statistician or an interpreter of statistics. You've got your priorities skewed, sorry. Foetuses are a dime a dozen. Individual women are priceless.

I love babies, Whatfur, everything about them. My daughter in law announced her first pregnancy a couple months ago. But her foetus isn't a person, and she is. If she decided something was not right and she wanted to abort the foetus, who is anyone else to say no honey you can't.

And what if everything was perfect, and she did?

Whatever Ken...you continue in your disingenuousness. Although, I think you may be over overstating the price of those begat with your lineage. But, maybe we can bring this little sidebar to a full circle if you post the ultrasound of your beautiful, little, grandfoetuse.

badhatharry 09-02-2010 11:39 AM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 177500)
Also, given the diversity of interests and views that women have, I again simply don't see a rational way to define the word other than to focus on the broad shared interest in equality under the law and encouraging opportunity. I can't see a particular view on abortion as being a required element of this.

My original post had to do with what I saw as a sort of celebratory tone Rebecca took to abortion rights coupled with the statement that this was the most revolutionary thing that had happened for women in some time. I said in response to that that birth control is just as, if not more revolutionary. I have thought about this and come up with one more to add...the vacuum cleaner.

Suffice it to say women have been enjoying, for quite some time, the freedom from their former, rather rigid roles. The right to have an abortion comes somewhere in the middle of these changes but has somehow become the most important and something so many people see in danger of being taken away. I think this is a false rallying point. I agree with you that one's stand on abortion has nothing to do with wanting women to have a fair shake in this crazy world of ours.

badhatharry 09-02-2010 11:44 AM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 177454)
Well, of course. The interesting questions are in regard to untangling that. Why should a sixty-four cell blastocist be treated with the same regard as an adult human? Why shouldn't a full term fetus be accorded that regard? Where are the margins?

My comment had to do with your disingenuous characterization of abortion being about decisions about uteruses. This is the kind of hyperbole that makes it seem like a slam dunk when it isn't.

I am at a disadvantage in all of this because I am not religious so I cannot say that am informed by my belief in the sanctity of life. However, as a culture and as a species we do seek to make things important. Therefore, the question of which lives are important and should not be violated may be somewhat the same as those who argue that we are made in God's image. I realize this question goes to more than abortion rights but goes also to things like war. I just don't think the issue has been settled and is certainly no cause for a feeling of any kind of triumph. Rather we should stand humble in the face of the choices our modern society has put in front of us.

AemJeff 09-02-2010 12:17 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 177546)
My comment had to do with your disingenuous characterization of abortion being about decisions about uteruses. This is the kind of hyperbole that makes it seem like a slam dunk when it isn't.

Harry, "disingenuous?" I don't think you understand what the word means. Please explain in detail how regulations regarding abortion don't entail state interference in issues directly related to "uteruses." I think what you're objecting to is how starkly that way of framing the issue highlights certain aspects of this that you don't care to think about. But I can't help that, and I stand by how I put it. Also, I think I'm a relative moderate on this issue.

badhatharry 09-02-2010 12:30 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 177548)
Harry, "disingenuous?" I don't think you understand what the word means. Please explain in detail how regulations regarding abortion don't entail state interference in issues directly related to "uteruses." I think what you're objecting to is how starkly that way of framing the issue highlights certain aspects of this that you don't care to think about. But I can't help that, and I stand by how I put it. Also, I think I'm a relative moderate on this issue.

Read my edit...not that that will significantly change anything you wrote. And I do know what disingenuous means.

Whatfur 09-02-2010 12:33 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 177549)
Read my edit...not that that will significantly change anything you wrote. And I do know what disingenuous means.

I too then withdraw. (I was kidding about the picture anyway)

AemJeff 09-02-2010 12:49 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 177549)
Read my edit...not that that will significantly change anything you wrote. And I do know what disingenuous means.

I withdraw the charge. I think, if you read what I've written about this, you might see that I'm open to a degree of flexibility. I'm damn sure about about what I believe at the endpoints of a pregnancy. I'm not sure how to draw the line between those points, although I'm relatively comfortable with the "trimester" framework. I don't care if somebody's religion tells them that a fertilized ovum is a "person." That's a private judgment that an individual is free to make in regard to their own behavior. Whereas everybody has an interest in the integrity of their own corpus, and I think the state requires extraordinary (and far less specific than anybody's personal religious beliefs) reasons to interfere with that. At nine months minus one day I think a viable fetus deserves the same, or nearly the same consideration of "personhood" as any of us. So, I'm open to the argument that that constitutes such an extraordinary reason. Between those points, as I've said, things become murkier for me; but I'd say the trend backward in time is less consideration for the unborn trending to no such consideration at all before some point in time after conception.

Ken Davis 09-02-2010 12:59 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Whatfur (Post 177535)
And what if everything was perfect, and she did?

Whatever Ken...you continue in your disingenuousness. Although, I think you may be over overstating the price of those begat with your lineage. But, maybe we can bring this little sidebar to a full circle if you post the ultrasound of your beautiful, little, grandfoetuse.

You insist that I'm being disingenuous. I insist that to apply a prohibition on what a woman may do with her own body, based on statistics which to you show that there is virtually no danger, is absurd. You have no right to make that judgment for her. I have a feeling that it wouldn't really matter to you what degree of risk the statistics showed, and that you are the disingenous one.

http://www.apolkalypso.com/downloads/ultrsnd.jpg

Whatfur 09-02-2010 02:19 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ken Davis (Post 177552)
You insist that I'm being disingenuous. I insist that to apply a prohibition on what a woman may do with her own body, based on statistics which to you show that there is virtually no danger, is absurd. You have no right to make that judgment for her. I have a feeling that it wouldn't really matter to you what degree of risk the statistics showed, and that you are the disingenous one.

http://www.apolkalypso.com/downloads/ultrsnd.jpg

First, thanks for the image.

Second, you attempt now to put words in my mouth. That too is disingenuous.

stephanie 09-02-2010 02:23 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 177551)
I withdraw the charge. I think, if you read what I've written about this, you might see that I'm open to a degree of flexibility.

I would have to go back and reread to be positive, but my sense is that your general position and reasoning and mine are a lot alike, at least with regard to the broad strokes. However, my sense is also that I'm less comfortable with the answer I've come to (or any answer) than your post here suggests you are. I mention this so it's clear that my disagreement, such as it is, relates to either the ultimate conclusion or any demand that others see things the way I do.

Quote:

I'm sure how to draw the line between those points, although I'm relatively comfortable with the "trimester" framework.
You mean "not sure," if I'm following you.

Quote:

I don't care if somebody's religion tell them that a fertilized ovum is a "person." That's a private judgment that an individual is free to make in regard to their own behavior.
I don't disagree that people's personal religious and philosophical views play a huge role in how they come out on this (I struggle with that myself), but I think jumping to the "I don't care what people's religions say" in response to BHH's "it need not be about controlling women" point is a bit of a sidestep.

I said this upthread, so apologies for repeating myself, but I think it's important to note that support for legal abortion can be based on multiple arguments or only one of those arguments. The main ones being: (1) that bodily integrity is such that it does not matter whether the fetus or embryo is a "person," it's still wrong to demand that a woman continue a pregnancy; and (2) the fetus or at least embryo is, at least at some point, not a "person" or not sufficiently certain a "person" to justify a law requiring that pregnancy be continued. (Obviously there is some relationship between these two arguments.)

Argument (1) gets examined in various ways in an attempt to find an analogy and take it out of the sex-specific context, but the problem is there are no good analogies. (Again, this is where Tribe's violin player thing comes in, with the attempt to argue that the debate over the nature of the embryo or fetus doesn't matter legally.) Like I said above, Roe basically rejected this basis as a sole grounds for a right to abortion, and while I don't particularly like Roe I do share that view. I think if we as a society agreed it was a person abortion would and should be illegal (but for life-of-the mother type exceptions), and that there's nothing at all sexist about saying that.

So we get to argument (2), which is I think where you and I are getting our support for legal abortion under some circumstances. Personally, I don't think it's as clear at the earliest edge as you express above -- I think "personhood," as a philosophical question, isn't really one that is easy to resolve. I would agree that as a society we don't really act as if we considered fertilized eggs, say, as persons, but I don't think that's definitive. Among our society some say they do believe in personhood at an early stage and some don't. Moreover, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of leaving "personhood," up to majority vote and somewhat aware of the possibility of being underinclusive.

Given all this, how can one decide? One answer (and one I think can be defended) would be that societies determine by law who they consider persons in questions like this -- that's basically the leave it up to the states answer. It's obviously problematic. Another (what we basically have) is that there's no clear answer, no consensus as a society, no consensus through our customs and traditions, and given the absence of these it has to be left to the individual. That's where I basically am. But it's not because what someone thinks about "personhood" is inherently a religious or inherently a private judgment. There is a really strong argument -- why I'm uncomfortable here -- that if one believes in "personhood" one can't think of it as a private question.

AemJeff 09-02-2010 02:54 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 177556)
...



You mean "not sure," if I'm following you.


...

Quite so, and now fixed in the original. I'll have to wait until later to fully consider what you're saying here.

Don Zeko 09-02-2010 03:14 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 177560)
Quite so, and now fixed in the original. I'll have to wait until later to fully consider what you're saying here.

I think that "what [she's] saying here" is essentially a clearer and more persuasive version of what I've been trying to say upthread to Ocean.

cragger 09-02-2010 03:32 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
I'm unfamiliar with the violin player analogy, perhaps discussed in a portion of the diavlog unlistened to by me, but it doesn't seem that hard to come up with good analogies for proposition 1 as you give it above. That is, should one decide that from the moment of fertilization the cell(s) are a human with whatever rights that entails, one could still consider that the host mother was not required to grow that individual through her bodily processes.

We have many examples of adult individuals in this world of medical wonders who are dying, but whose lives could be saved if the state would require bodily sacrifice on the part of others. People live healthy lives with a single kidney, yet we don't demand that they donate one to a needy recipient. An example needn't even be so "extreme", we could perhaps harvest insulin to help diabetics, or even demand donation of blood. We don't require these, or any of the other similiar things one could easily come up with. This despite the fact that in any of these cases, the impact of the state requirement would be less than through banning abortion since we demand things of parents long after the birth of a child.

I don't think one can entirely separate attitudes about abortion and what the state should demand of women from attitudes about sex, which is the factor differentiating abortion from the other scenarios.

Don Zeko 09-02-2010 04:05 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cragger (Post 177566)
I'm unfamiliar with the violin player analogy, perhaps discussed in a portion of the diavlog unlistened to by me, but it doesn't seem that hard to come up with good analogies for proposition 1 as you give it above.

The violinist isn't in the diavlog, he's the titular character of a thought experiment in Judith Thompson's philosophical defense of abortion. Thompson's argument is, as far as I am aware, the first to argue that abortion is morally permissible even if you accept as a given the fetus's personhood. As you can see from this thread, I don't find Thompson's argument particularly convincing, but most of the pro-choice posters here do.

Ocean 09-02-2010 04:10 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 177562)
I think that "what [she's] saying here" is essentially a clearer and more persuasive version of what I've been trying to say upthread to Ocean.

And Ocean must be very hard headed because I don't really understand what you or Stephanie are arguing. I found some statements in Stephanie's post that truly lost me.

Here, Stephanie says:

Quote:

I think if we as a society agreed it was a person abortion would and should be illegal (but for life-of-the mother type exceptions), and that there's nothing at all sexist about saying that.
Indeed the issue of personhood is quite dubious, but even if the fetus was granted some status as a person, it doesn't automatically follow that abortion should be illegal. Even if the fetus' life is in question, it may still be considered that it's too onerous to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term with all the physical, emotional and material consequences that it would imply. The sexism part comes from relegating the woman's wellbeing and right to decide about her own body to her function as the bearer of fetus.

From my perspective, the only reasonable negotiation would be that there be mandatory limits to the gestational age during which a woman can have an abortion. Beyond a certain number of weeks, perhaps women should be asked to wait to term, or until the fetus is viable, at her choice.

I don't see much of a difference between what Jeff has said and what I've been saying. I do understand that there is disagreement on this. I acknowledge that other people may have a different order of priorities, due to religious or philosophical reasons. But I also think it's important for those who are not pro-choice to keep in mind the implications of forcing a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy. That's why pro-choice allows women who object to abortion to opt out of the procedure in case of their own pregnancy, while it allows women who want the abortion to pursue it in a legal and medically safe fashion.

Ocean 09-02-2010 04:18 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Heh, funny that you gave that example. I was about to give just about the same example in my post but decided not to because I could foresee all the differences that others would find regarding those two situations. However, the example does capture an aspect of pro-choice, that it seems that others don't share or don't agree with.

You expressed in your post exactly the same position that I did in mine. I didn't know either about the violin player analogy, or about Thomson's defense of abortion which is exactly the same that we are talking about here.

PreppyMcPrepperson 09-02-2010 04:20 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 177570)
The violinist isn't in the diavlog, he's the titular character of a thought experiment in Judith Thompson's philosophical defense of abortion. Thompson's argument is, as far as I am aware, the first to argue that abortion is morally permissible even if you accept as a given the fetus's personhood. As you can see from this thread, I don't find Thompson's argument particularly convincing, but most of the pro-choice posters here do.

I generally avoid threads on abortion politics, because it's really pretty low on the list of political issues that I care about. But I am sympathetic to Zeko and Stephanie and since you two seem outnumbered here, I'll step in and say, I agree, and that makes three of us.

Don Zeko 09-02-2010 04:33 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 177572)
And Ocean must be very hard headed because I don't really understand what you or Stephanie are arguing. I found some statements in Stephanie's post that truly lost me.

I think I'm more at fault for failing to be clear. Anyway, let's delve in for another round.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 177572)
Indeed the issue of personhood is quite dubious, but even if the fetus was granted some status as a person, it doesn't automatically follow that abortion should be illegal. Even if the fetus' life is in question, it may still be considered that it's too onerous to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term with all the physical, emotional and material consequences that it would imply. The sexism part comes from relegating the woman's wellbeing and right to decide about her own body to her function as the bearer of fetus.

Yet a woman's right to bodily autonomy, just like any other right, has some limits and addendums, particularly when it starts to interact with the rights of others.

I don't see how it's fair to throw a sexism charge into this. Certainly there are a lot of people on the pro-life side that make this all about retrograde attitudes towards female sexuality and autonomy, but not one doesn't need these (horrible) views in order to reach conclusions different from yours. The relationship between a pregnant woman and her fetus is sui generis, and it raises some difficult moral questions. there just is a biological reason for women to, unfortunately, bear the burdens imposed by this question. It's not sexism.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 177572)
From my perspective, the only reasonable negotiation would be that there be mandatory limits to the gestational age during which a woman can have an abortion. Beyond a certain number of weeks, perhaps women should be asked to wait to term, or until the fetus is viable, at her choice.

This is the odd part of our debate. I'm reasonably sure that I don't have a problem with first-trimester abortions, I definitely have no problem with the Morning-After Pill, and I think the idea of an abortion ban without a life of the mother exception is insane. There's not actually a huge policy difference underlying our conversation.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 177572)
I don't see much of a difference between what Jeff has said and what I've been saying. I do understand that there is disagreement on this. I acknowledge that other people may have a different order of priorities, due to religious or philosophical reasons. But I also think it's important for those who are not pro-choice to keep in mind the implications of forcing a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy. That's why pro-choice allows women who object to abortion to opt out of the procedure in case of their own pregnancy, while it allows women who want the abortion to pursue it in a legal and medically safe fashion.

That's fair, but I wish that pro-choicers would back off of the idea that allowing pro-life people to choose not to have abortions themselves is a satisfactory compromise. Pro-lifers believe that abortion is a serious violation of the fetus's rights, so those rights require just as much of a universal safeguard as freedom of speech, the rights of the accused, etc.

P.S. One of the many things about this debate that I find irritating is that there just aren't any satisfactory metaphors or comparisons one can draw that aren't extremely problematic. I used to (sparingly) make comparisons to slavery, but TNC set me straight there.

Ocean 09-02-2010 04:37 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by PreppyMcPrepperson (Post 177574)
I generally avoid threads on abortion politics, because it's really pretty low on the list of political issues that I care about. But I am sympathetic to Zeko and Stephanie and since you two seem outnumbered here, I'll step in and say, I agree, and that makes three of us.

We are trying to understand each others' point of view, not build teams.

Ocean 09-02-2010 05:05 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 177576)
I think I'm more at fault for failing to be clear. Anyway, let's delve in for another round.

Reluctantly.

Quote:

Yet a woman's right to bodily autonomy, just like any other right, has some limits and addendums, particularly when it starts to interact with the rights of others.
This is the key disagreement. Some of us place the woman's right to bodily autonomy higher than any other alleged right of the fetus.

Quote:

I don't see how it's fair to throw a sexism charge into this. Certainly there are a lot of people on the pro-life side that make this all about retrograde attitudes towards female sexuality and autonomy, but not one doesn't need these (horrible) views in order to reach conclusions different from yours. The relationship between a pregnant woman and her fetus is sui generis, and it raises some difficult moral questions. there just is a biological reason for women to, unfortunately, bear the burdens imposed by this question. It's not sexism.
You are conflating moral, legal, biological/instinctual and emotional aspects of this topic. You need to address each one somewhat separately in order to get out of the knot.

Quote:

This is the odd part of our debate. I'm reasonably sure that I don't have a problem with first-trimester abortions, I definitely have no problem with the Morning-After Pill, and I think the idea of an abortion ban without a life of the mother exception is insane. There's not actually a huge policy difference underlying our conversation.
I only added that paragraph to point out that we are talking about a balance of rights, and in the context of such discussions, in a civilized society with differing opinions, there can be some room for reasonable negotiation. Do I think that it's reasonable that a woman in the last week of her pregnancy decides to abort and she should be allowed to do so "just because"? Well, no, I don't think so. But the limits of what's reasonable is always going to be dependent on many factors. In other areas, for example in termination of one's life by refusing medical treatment there are circumstances when there has to be an intervention from a medical counsel, ethicists or a court of law. The grey areas are always more complex and it isn't as simple as the two extremes. We all understand that's the case and make provisions for those difficult instances.

Quote:

That's fair, but I wish that pro-choicers would back off of the idea that allowing pro-life people to choose not to have abortions themselves is a satisfactory compromise.
Sure, but we are not talking about symmetrical positions, one position (pro-life) says "do as I think is right", the other side (pro-choice) says " do what you think is right while I'll do what I think is right". I really don't know what else could be a satisfactory compromise but the one option that provides the most autonomy for both positions.

Quote:

Pro-lifers believe that abortion is a serious violation of the fetus's rights, so those rights require just as much of a universal safeguard as freedom of speech, the rights of the accused, etc.
Yes, and I understand that's why they want to impose their opinion on everybody. Unfortunately, there has to be concensus in order to do that, and until now the prevailing position in most civilized societies, where all factors are taken in consideration, has been to adopt pro-choice.

Quote:

P.S. One of the many things about this debate that I find irritating is that there just aren't any satisfactory metaphors or comparisons one can draw that aren't extremely problematic. I used to (sparingly) make comparisons to slavery, but TNC set me straight there.
I agree. There are no appropriate analogies. I just read Thomson's defense of the pro-choice position and she came up with some smart ways of figuring out a comparison. But I still can see that some pro-life people would find objections to it.

Ken Davis 09-02-2010 05:06 PM

Re: Pro-choice vs Pro-life
 
Would that I had not plunged into this debate, but rather had left the defense of choice all to Ocean, who has made a far more articulate and persuasive case than I have done.

Don Zeko 09-02-2010 05:21 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 177579)
Reluctantly.

Agreed, so I'll make this my last post on the subject.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 177579)
This is the key disagreement. Some of us place the woman's right to bodily autonomy higher than any other alleged right of the fetus.

I think we've clarified the issue as much as I can, and nobody's mind is changing today, so let's leave it here.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 177579)
Sure, but we are not talking about symmetrical positions, one position (pro-life) says "do as I think is right", the other side (pro-choice) says " do what you think is right while I'll do what I think is right". I really don't know what else could be a satisfactory compromise but the one option that provides the most autonomy for both positions.

Thank god we've wandered into a side issue where it's somewhat possible to make analogies. I don't think that you would accept this sort of reasoning were you on the other side of the issue. Couldn't one say the same thing about people that want to prohibit torture? After all, the Geneva Convention is a document saying "do as I think is right," but George Bush has a different view. It's not like you are being ordered to waterboard anybody, right?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 177579)
Yes, and I understand that's why they want to impose their opinion on everybody. Unfortunately, there has to be concensus in order to do that, and until now the prevailing position in most civilized societies, where all factors are taken in consideration, has been to adopt pro-choice.

Does there? There isn't a consensus in this country on the Death Penalty, but the state is happy to execute people even though people like me disagree strongly with that moral judgment. Was there a consensus on the morality of Slavery in 1863?

Ocean 09-02-2010 05:37 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 177583)
Thank god we've wandered into a side issue where it's somewhat possible to make analogies. I don't think that you would accept this sort of reasoning were you on the other side of the issue.

I know that. We already discussed the lack of symmetry and my position on this one issue we are talking about.

Quote:

Couldn't one say the same thing about people that want to prohibit torture? After all, the Geneva Convention is a document saying "do as I think is right," but George Bush has a different view. It's not like you are being ordered to waterboard anybody, right?
Of course there are many issues for which the same criteria wouldn't apply. Please save me the agony of having to go through the thousands (some arbitrarily large number) of possibilities.

Quote:

Does there? There isn't a consensus in this country on the Death Penalty, but the state is happy to execute people even though people like me disagree strongly with that moral judgment. Was there a consensus on the morality of Slavery in 1863?
There is a death penalty in states where their voters have favored it. And yes, there was a time, well before 1863 when slavery was widely accepted.

But coming back to abortion, perhaps concensus wasn't the right term, but ultimately voters may be able to decide one way or the other. Currently, we have the least restrictive possibility on an issue that is highly debatable and where there is no simple answer, as you can see, to where the correct balance of rights lies. Pro-life positions would add restrictions to personal freedom. Your examples are not correct analogies for a multitude of reasons. But, I'm done with this topic. We'll have to agree to disagree.

stephanie 09-02-2010 07:30 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 177572)
Indeed the issue of personhood is quite dubious, but even if the fetus was granted some status as a person, it doesn't automatically follow that abortion should be illegal.

I understand that position. I specifically acknowledged it in basically all of my posts on the topic, and so did Don Zeko. However, I disagree with it. Whether the person in question were male or female (and including the violin player thing, which Zeko is right is Thomson, although I first read it from Tribe and incorrectly attributed it to him), I don't accept that argument.

Quote:

The sexism part comes from relegating the woman's wellbeing and right to decide about her own body to her function as the bearer of fetus.
That's the deal about trying to find an analogy and recognizing that none work. My view here has nothing to do with sex; it has to do with how human rights and, particularly, conflicting rights are dealt with. To insist that this makes a particular view on this particular argument for legal abortion intrinsic to "feminisim" is, IMO, simply wrong. It's rather like insisting that some other facially neutral political view is inconsistent with feminism merely because more women are affected by the view than men. (For example, demanding that feminists must support increasing the minimum wage.)

Obviously, it's not exactly the same, because in this case there are no good analogies and the particular burden is one experienced squarely and solely by women, which is why I am fine with some kind of heightened skepticism or some such when dealing with such a use of the name. Or, I would be, if I thought it hurt feminism in some way for the name to be so claimed, which I don't.

Personally, I don't care much about labels anyway, so if you want to say I'm not a feminist because I don't accept argument (1) as a basis for legal abortion, etc., I'd be cool with it. Just don't then complain that too few women are willing to claim the term. (And I'm really making the latter part of this to Traister, of course, because I think from stuff I've read from her that she would think too few women do, whereas I don't want to assume what your thoughts are.)

Quote:

I don't see much of a difference between what Jeff has said and what I've been saying.
I don't think Jeff has indicated whether he thinks argument (1) is a basis for abortion independent of the personhood argument. He's discussed the personhood thing as a basis for why he thinks legality at the early stage is correct, and said he's okay with restrictions where it's less clear cut. (This is way too simplified, of course.) Usually the "personhood doesn't matter" argument will be less willing to accept restrictions.

I don't think the lack of personhood, even at the early stage, is clear cut, but given the nature of the question I think the result is the same under my thinking as under Jeff's (I think).

stephanie 09-02-2010 07:44 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 177585)
But coming back to abortion, perhaps concensus wasn't the right term, but ultimately voters may be able to decide one way or the other.

This is to me the real and most difficult question. I think a few things are clear:

(1) That I'm not satisfied by the argument that personhood doesn't matter. (Okay, this isn't really something clear, it's just my own position, but it's a starting point.)

(2) The personhood of the early-term fetus or embryo is not something on which there is a consensus (unless you want to say that their actual actions and our traditions as a society show that people who claim to believe in personhood really don't, but I'm not comfortable with this).

(3) "Personhood" wrt the early-term fetus/embryo is not something that can be objectively determined. It's a philosophical question.

(4) Although there is not consensus, if asked to vote, majorities in at least some states would say it is a person. (Although whether they would follow through on what that would have to entail sufficiently to say that's really what the voters had decided seems unclear -- for example, I don't see how you claim that anti abortion laws are based on "personhood" and allow the rape/incest exception. Note: I'm not saying that I want such laws passed.)

Given all of these, I think the key question becomes who decides in the absence of consensus? Is it up to the political process or do you need a consensus given the rights of the woman implicated? Like I said, I find neither of these particularly satisfying, but come down on the side of consensus. Even that doesn't take the issue off the table, though, since one who thinks there's a moral basis to consider the early term fetus or embryo a person still will be trying to create that consensus through argument, etc., and use of the law where possible within the limits we've determined.

And I don't accept (again) that doing so is inherently sexist or that it is argument about a private question, for reasons that Don Zeko has explained.

Wonderment 09-02-2010 07:46 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Good points.

Someone has probably said this already, but the definition of a person is still being confused in this conversation. The definition of a person is not disputed in our law: a person is a living human who has been born. Fetuses are not persons at any stage of development.

There are many problems if anti-abortion forces get to change the definition of a person because persons have inalienable rights, starting with the right to life.

Birth is a really sound and just place to draw the personhood line, but it is not the only possible one. A society could say that no human is a person until age 2, for example. Currently, if a baby is killed at the age of 10 seconds murder can be charged.

When drawing the line on when it's legal to perform an abortion you do not have to wade into what-is-a-person waters.

Roe V. Wade tried to decide abortion with the "viable outside the womb" criterion. That didn't make an 8-month-old fetus a person, however, nor should it.

"Viable outside the womb" is a reasonable idea. The big problem with it is that science can keep pushing the viability number back towards conception, making the legality of late-term abortions murky. Better to grant the right to an abortion right up to birth.

The real way out of the moral dilemma, of course, is to avoid unwanted pregnancies. With excellent sex ed in our schools and really widely available and very affordable contraception including free condoms and morning after and week or so after remedies, abortions can be greatly reduced.

That doesn't erase the moral problem (the death penalty, per the discussion above, is still a huge problem even if we execute only a few people per year), but there are certainly ways for pro-life and pro-choice citizens to work together to bring the # of abortions as close to zero as possible.

Ocean 09-02-2010 08:03 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 177592)
I understand that position. I specifically acknowledged it in basically all of my posts on the topic, and so did Don Zeko. However, I disagree with it. Whether the person in question were male or female (and including the violin player thing, which Zeko is right is Thomson, although I first read it from Tribe and incorrectly attributed it to him), I don't accept that argument.

Yes, we've figured that this argument is central to our disagreement.


Quote:

That's the deal about trying to find an analogy and recognizing that none work. My view here has nothing to do with sex; it has to do with how human rights and, particularly, conflicting rights are dealt with. To insist that this makes a particular view on this particular argument for legal abortion intrinsic to "feminisim" is, IMO, simply wrong. It's rather like insisting that some other facially neutral political view is inconsistent with feminism merely because more women are affected by the view than men. (For example, demanding that feminists must support increasing the minimum wage.)

Obviously, it's not exactly the same, because in this case there are no good analogies and the particular burden is one experienced squarely by women, which is why I am fine with some kind of heightened skepticism or some such when dealing with such a use of the name. Or, I would, if I thought it hurt feminism in some way for the name to be so claimed, which I don't.
I don't have a strong opinion on the sexism part of the argument. I think there could be some underlying sexism, but I acknowledge that sexism is not necessary in order to support any of the arguments presented here.

Quote:

Personally, I don't care much about labels anyway, so if you want to say I'm not a feminist because I don't accept argument (1) as a basis for legal abortion, etc., I'd be cool with it. Just don't then complaint that too few women are willing to claim the term. (And I'm really making the latter part of this to Traister, of course, because I think from stuff I've read from her that she would think too few women do, whereas I don't want to assume what your thoughts are.)
I don't think that you would need to make that argument to me. As I said before, I don't think that there's a rigid list of criteria to be met to be considered feminist. There may be different brands of feminism, of different aspects that are more important to one group or the other.


Quote:

I don't think Jeff has indicated whether he thinks argument (1) is a basis for abortion independent of the personhood argument.
You may be right about that. I just quickly reviewed his posts and I only found references to personhood at different levels of development.

Quote:

He's discussed the personhood thing as a basis for why he thinks legality at the early stage is correct, and said he's okay with restrictions where it's less clear cut. (This is way too simplified, of course.) Usually the "personhood doesn't matter" argument will be less willing to accept restrictions.
Well, as I indicated in a previous post, although I personally favor argument (1), I'm still willing to concede that beyond a certain point in pregnancy, there be certain restrictions or conditions to the right to terminate pregnancy. One of the factors that has to be taken in consideration is that these discussions are highly hypothetical since the numbers of terminations later in pregnancy are extremely low. They may be so low that there could be requirements to make decisions case by case.


Quote:

I don't think the lack of personhood, even at the early stage, is clear cut, but given the nature of the question I think the result is the same under my thinking as under Jeff's (I think).
You are trying to extract a general shared principle to go by. However, in many situations there is no single principle that can be applied across the board. When we discuss complex issues like this one, it is sometimes impossible to come up with one legal decision that covers all the angles. Ultimately, the law will have to come up with some compromise, which I bet will end up being about different possibilities and medical procedures depending on the stage of pregnancy. It's quite acceptable to both sides if not excessively stringent. It will never satisfy absolutists that claim wanting to protect the sacredness of life on one end of the discussion, or those who will not budge on women's right to bodily autonomy on the other.

Ocean 09-02-2010 08:07 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Yes, we disagree.

stephanie 09-02-2010 08:16 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 177598)
You are trying to extract a general shared principle to go by.

What I'm actually trying to do is find a way to discuss the issue in a way that is enlightening to people or simply allows us to understand the arguments, why we end up with different positions (or in this case, why we disagree yet end up with the same position), and so on. Basically, to make some kind of rational discussion possible. There's, of course, a whole history of why I'm interested in this. (Part of it is that I find the arguments unanswerable, so think it's possible to be a reasonable person with numerous different positions and reasons for them. Yet just in my own experience, I know a lot of people of various views who have assumptions about what those on the "other side" must think that strike me as wrong and frustratingly inconsistent with any ability for us to discuss this as a society.)

I also think, of course, that a lot more people are acting more out of a general moral feeling/reaction than have totally thought through where their position comes from (not saying that applies to anyone in this discussion), which is why the actual arguments made are often somewhat inconsistent.

I have a probably foolish and idealistic sense that examining the question in a more analytical kind of way and talking about the arguments in an effort to understand rather than convince can be useful in at least getting rid of some of the worst ones (i.e., the sexist ones) and identifying why differences still remain and at least get people thinking about their positions.

So, anyway, that's why I'm focusing on general principles and all that. That I agree it can't be so clearly separated out and applied to the law is part of why I ultimately support a legal framework pretty similar to what we have now.

stephanie 09-02-2010 08:21 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Argh, I don't use threaded so had to check if this was even to me.

Anyway, okay. I actually don't understand what the disagreement is re the main thrust of the post (my point was that in the absence of consensus I think we can't legally define the unborn* as a "person"), but am cool with not continuing the discussion.

*Intended to be neutral and not require as much typing as identifying the various stages.

stephanie 09-02-2010 08:44 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 177595)
Someone has probably said this already, but the definition of a person is still being confused in this conversation.

The discussion is about (in part) the implications for someone who believes the fetus fits the philosophical category referred to as a "person." No one has attempted to define it, since I don't think any of us (well, other than the Whatfur stuff I've been ignoring) has been really arguing about that question.

Quote:

The definition of a person is not disputed in our law: a person is a living human who has been born.
Yes, but law can change, so this is not particularly definitive and certainly does not resolve the question.

As I said before, in Roe, the SC rejected the "personhood doesn't matter" argument, basically saying if it's a person the law in question is constitutional. It then went on to consider a variety of things including the personhood question (explicitly under the definition of "citizen"), and held -- based on the lack of consensus and the fact that the laws themselves that were being defended didn't fit the "personhood" argument being offered in their defense in finding that what was meant by "citizen" in the Constitution was only a born human, etc. But that's not been satisfying for many, and the reasons why not seem somewhat obvious.

Since then, anti-abortion activists have attempted to directly address this issue and argued that the states should be able to define "person" in their law as including the unborn. And legally they can, so long as it doesn't affect the rights of others, specifically including abortion.

Quote:

There are many problems if anti-abortion forces get to change the definition of a person because persons have inalienable rights, starting with the right to life.
Right. That's the point.

Quote:

Roe V. Wade tried to decide abortion with the "viable outside the womb" criterion. That didn't make an 8-month-old fetus a person, however, nor should it.
Technically, Casey added the viability standard. Roe was trimesters. (People always talk about Roe, but the law as it currently exists is really defined by Casey, although Casey just modified Roe.) Sorry, random pet peeve. Anyway, yes, in neither case did it mean that one was a legal person prior to birth.

Quote:

That doesn't erase the moral problem (the death penalty, per the discussion above, is still a huge problem even if we execute only a few people per year), but there are certainly ways for pro-life and pro-choice citizens to work together to bring the # of abortions as close to zero as possible.
Agree with this, and I think an important way to get to where it's possible is to be able to be honest and open about what we think on the issue and why and to be able to talk about the arguments without demonizing people on the other side (again, which I think is really common on both sides, defined broadly). I think the abortion issue as it currently stands and is used is basically a scare tactic on both sides, but nothing much is actually going to change re the law. The focus on the issue politically, however, and the divisiveness it leads to results in a huge diversion of energy and distrust and unwillingness to compromise or work together.

AemJeff 09-02-2010 08:48 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 177556)
I would have to go back and reread to be positive, but my sense is that your general position and reasoning and mine are a lot alike, at least with regard to the broad strokes. However, my sense is also that I'm less comfortable with the answer I've come to (or any answer) than your post here suggests you are. I mention this so it's clear that my disagreement, such as it is, relates to either the ultimate conclusion or any demand that others see things the way I do.



You mean "not sure," if I'm following you.



I don't disagree that people's personal religious and philosophical views play a huge role in how they come out on this (I struggle with that myself), but I think jumping to the "I don't care what people's religions say" in response to BHH's "it need not be about controlling women" point is a bit of a sidestep.

I said this upthread, so apologies for repeating myself, but I think it's important to note that support for legal abortion can be based on multiple arguments or only one of those arguments. The main ones being: (1) that bodily integrity is such that it does not matter whether the fetus or embryo is a "person," it's still wrong to demand that a woman continue a pregnancy; and (2) the fetus or at least embryo is, at least at some point, not a "person" or not sufficiently certain a "person" to justify a law requiring that pregnancy be continued. (Obviously there is some relationship between these two arguments.)

Argument (1) gets examined in various ways in an attempt to find an analogy and take it out of the sex-specific context, but the problem is there are no good analogies. (Again, this is where Tribe's violin player thing comes in, with the attempt to argue that the debate over the nature of the embryo or fetus doesn't matter legally.) Like I said above, Roe basically rejected this basis as a sole grounds for a right to abortion, and while I don't particularly like Roe I do share that view. I think if we as a society agreed it was a person abortion would and should be illegal (but for life-of-the mother type exceptions), and that there's nothing at all sexist about saying that.

So we get to argument (2), which is I think where you and I are getting our support for legal abortion under some circumstances. Personally, I don't think it's as clear at the earliest edge as you express above -- I think "personhood," as a philosophical question, isn't really one that is easy to resolve. I would agree that as a society we don't really act as if we considered fertilized eggs, say, as persons, but I don't think that's definitive. Among our society some say they do believe in personhood at an early stage and some don't. Moreover, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of leaving "personhood," up to majority vote and somewhat aware of the possibility of being underinclusive.

Given all this, how can one decide? One answer (and one I think can be defended) would be that societies determine by law who they consider persons in questions like this -- that's basically the leave it up to the states answer. It's obviously problematic. Another (what we basically have) is that there's no clear answer, no consensus as a society, no consensus through our customs and traditions, and given the absence of these it has to be left to the individual. That's where I basically am. But it's not because what someone thinks about "personhood" is inherently a religious or inherently a private judgment. There is a really strong argument -- why I'm uncomfortable here -- that if one believes in "personhood" one can't think of it as a private question.

As a side issue, when I referred to religious beliefs, I was generally responding to the following:

Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 177546)
...the question of which lives are important and should not be violated may be somewhat the same as those who argue that we are made in God's image. ...

(and it was a bit of sidestep, I admit) but, the point (that the specific religious beliefs of particular people ought not be a strong factor in the general conversation) is something I think is very important in this debate. Other surely see it differently, but from my perspective there don't seem to be many constraints on the possible content of religious belief, that is, it's an awfully arbitrary standard, and, by definition, has no rational basis. (I'm really not trying to join the theist/atheist debate here, but I do want to be clear about my view.)

I do subscribe to a version of your argument (2): the fetus' "personhood" (let's just take that as a defacto coinage) is a factor, the mother's bodily integrity is a factor, and they're nearly equally weighted just before the moment of birth, in my mind. But I think the personhood of the fetus is also weighted with respect to age and viability.

My belief is that personhood requires some degree of sensibility on the part of its subject. So I'm comfortable with the notion that an undifferentiated mass of cells has no such status, and I think this is consistent with view that personhood is a an attribute that a growing fetus accrues over its term. Reiterating my earlier objection, I don't credit religious notions that attribute that status based on concerns that can't be demonstrated, except through an act of faith.

AemJeff 09-02-2010 08:51 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 177615)
...No one has attempted to define it, since I don't think any of us ... has been really arguing about that question.


...

I think I just did try to define a standard for that (and a rejection of another), but you posted first!

Ocean 09-02-2010 08:54 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 177603)
Argh, I don't use threaded so had to check if this was even to me.

Anyway, okay. I actually don't understand what the disagreement is re the main thrust of the post (my point was that in the absence of consensus I think we can't legally define the unborn* as a "person"), but am cool with not continuing the discussion.

*Intended to be neutral and not require as much typing as identifying the various stages.

Yes, I'm just too tired to continue, especially considering that I've said as much as I can say about this as a lay person. That Zeke gave me a headache... ;)

stephanie 09-02-2010 09:02 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 177619)
I think I just did try to define a standard for that (and a rejection of another), but you posted first!

Yup, and I'm running off now, so maybe more later.

My quick answer is that I think it's a philosophical question and one's theological beliefs are going to be a subset of one's philosophical views. I'm not talking about simply saying "God says so, that ends it!" But I also accept your "must have sentience" as one argument, but not a definitive one, and if we push back far enough -- based on what? based on what? -- to the source, I think the ultimate source is probably not much different in kind or less subjective or superior to the basis for my particular belief on this question or that of some people who think we must consider it a person. So I really don't think we need to get into the oft-discussed debate about whether religion is a valid basis for political beliefs, etc.

Ocean 09-02-2010 09:13 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 177602)
Part of it is that I find the arguments unanswerable, so think it's possible to be a reasonable person with numerous different positions and reasons for them.

Thank you for following up.

I left the above segment of your post because it is in my opinion the most interesting part. That description applies to almost every argument, especially when it's in reference to complex issues. There are many different angles to look at the problem. Each of us may see one or more of the angles, perhaps if particularly knowledgeable, we may see many of the possible aspects. Each also attaches a certain value to each of those perspectives, and we establish the priorities. We also may handle some aspects depending on the task at hand. For example, the conversation may be slightly different if we were in a task force to figure out the cost of the medical procedures involved, or if we are part of an ethics committee, or if we are in a religious discussion group or for a political platform, or trying to establish law. When you combine all those variations, what you get is a wide range of possible argumentations that overlap somewhat but they are not identical. We are capturing one of many possibles ways of dealing with the topic. Many disagreements lie on that lack of overlap. Sometimes there is a fundamental principle that isn't shared.

I was raised in a country where abortion was (is) illegal. As a medical student I saw so many women coming to the ER with the consequences of unsafe abortion procedures that I would not want that to be part of any civilized society. I also saw many young women whose plans for the future died due to an unwanted pregnancy, often due to plain ignorance about contraception. The amount of suffering is great when that last resort to avoid continuing a pregnancy is not safely available.

That kind of experience is going to color my views. It is the right of those women that I defend when I talk about choice.

badhatharry 09-02-2010 09:26 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Whatfur (Post 177550)
I too then withdraw. (I was kidding about the picture anyway)

The pictures are very important in any discussion of abortion.

AemJeff 09-02-2010 09:28 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 177622)
Yup, and I'm running off now, so maybe more later.

My quick answer is that I think it's a philosophical question and one's theological beliefs are going to be a subset of one's philosophical views. I'm not talking about simply saying "God says so, that ends it!" But I also accept your "must have sentience" as one argument, but not a definitive one, and if we push back far enough -- based on what? based on what? -- to the source, I think the ultimate source is probably not much different in kind or less subjective or superior to the basis for my particular belief on this question or that of some people who think we must consider it a person. So I really don't think we need to get into the oft-discussed debate about whether religion is a valid basis for political beliefs, etc.

I get your point here. I think, though, that if I'm making an argument in which personhood is at least theoretically measurable by degree, then I'd better have a theory about what that means. I think I'm safe from a Zeno-like regression in regard to my definition, if I restrict myself to references to absolute quantities (no personhood at all, complete personhood) and to concretely definitive moments (conception and birth) and leave everything else to sort of vague interpolation.

badhatharry 09-02-2010 09:34 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 177551)
I withdraw the charge. I think, if you read what I've written about this, you might see that I'm open to a degree of flexibility....
That's a private judgment that an individual is free to make in regard to their own behavior. Whereas everybody has an interest in the integrity of their own corpus, and I think the state requires extraordinary (and far less specific than anybody's personal religious beliefs) reasons to interfere with that.

I apologize for excerpting what you thoughtfully wrote but I want to respond that the issue of abortion is not only an individual and/or private judgment because it goes to the heart of the value we, as a society, place on the life of a human being. Abortion interferes with that life and the mother is not the only person who should be considered.

Wonderment 09-02-2010 09:42 PM

Re: What We Talk About When We Talk About Palin (Rebecca Traister & Liz Mair)
 
Personhood gets even more complicated when applied to nonhumans. Peter Singer discusses animal rights, abortion and infanticide in the context of personhood, i.e., when it's ethical to terminate any life form.

Complete tangent, but if you start talking about sentience, experiencing pain and suffering, self-awareness, etc., there are other nonhuman beings to consider.


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