This post is brought to you by some schmuck who took it upon himself during an abortion debate, in which he was distressed that I would legalize late-term abortions, to inform me that there is no such thing as inalienable rights, and that rights are “whatever humans decide they are” and therefore I cannot assert that a mother has rights to a fetus over the fetus itself and over the would-be father. Resisting the urge to tell him to get the hell out of the country, I instead redirected my horror to suggesting that he read the Declaration of Independence.
Let’s get some things straightened out first:
- Fetuses are not aborted. Pregnancies are aborted. [will be explained]
- Giving birth is a method of abortion. The pregnancy is aborted.
- When a woman who is 8 to 9 months pregnant arrives at a doctor’s office and says, “I don’t want to be pregnant anymore. Make me not pregnant anymore,” the doctor who agrees to abort the pregnancy, whether by triggering an early birth or by surgically removing the baby from the mother, is obligated to abort the pregnancy in such a way that does not interfere with the inalienable right to life of this (newly) independent life-form. The baby can be placed in an incubator and may survive. If it does not, the woman is even less responsible for its death than the doctor. She merely separated the fetus from her body, the same way a doctor can decide not to provide resources to sustain the child’s life if, for example, finances are inadequate.
- That is why it matters whether a life-form is independent: the method of abortion comes into question. When the life cannot survive outside the womb, the doctor may abort the pregnancy in any fashion. When the life can survive outside the womb, the doctor is obligated to abort the pregnancy by removing the life without harming it. As medical advancements are introduced, this window will become smaller and smaller. The question of whether the life can survive outside the mother does not interfere with a woman’s right to separate a fetus from herself.
- If you can’t identify the difference between a woman arrested for not feeding her child and a woman not providing for her child by aborting her pregnancy, you’re an idiot. In the former scenario the enforcement of the law does not result in forcing the woman to feed her child—it results in taking the child away and providing it with a guardian who consents to sustaining its life. Likewise in the latter, the child is separated from the woman and cared for by someone—or something—else, like an incubator.
Speaking of consent, its involvement is the definition of an inalienable right. There are two types of rights: inalienable rights and civil rights. Inalienable rights include but are not limited to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. (Sound familiar?) You are screwing over your own argument by denying the existence of inalienable rights, like the right of the fetus to live independently. Inalienable rights do not come from government. Civil rights are protected by government.
The right to life is inalienable, but the definition of an inalienable right is one that does not require the consent of another. If it requires consent, it’s not a right. You have the right to live–you do not have the right to survive at the expenses of someone else. Once you are enforcing a right by encroaching on another person, you are no longer practicing an inalienable right but infringing on the rights of that other individual. A civil right may require consent on the most fundamental level, but does not remove the right of the person from whom it requires consent to deny that consent without consequence. (You don’t want to count someone’s vote [civil right] on the basis of sex, race, class, or religion, then [consequently] find another job.)
When the fetus is living off the body of a woman, it is not protected by its inalienable right to life because it is DEPENDING on the woman and on her consent. *Removing* it from her is not *killing* it; it dies on its own because it cannot live. That is why pregnancies are aborted, not fetuses.
And no, having sex is not consenting to being pregnant for nine months. That is not a contract. (You asshat.)
The rights of the father begin at delivery, not conception.
Who’s to say that woman is any more responsible of a fetus dying once she separates it from herself than the person who neglected to invent an incubator that can sustain it? Or refuses to provide it?
Anti-choicers are, because as far as they are concerned, women ARE incubators. Anti-choicers are so sexist that they have INFUSED a woman’s ability sustain life to her person and reduced her to that ability. It is an essentialization of feminine capabilities. Men on the other hand are not reduced to their ability to sustain life—whether monetarily or through organ donations or by providing medical expertise—because anti-choicers are bigots who can only distinguish between a man and his “functions.”
The right to life does not mean someone else sustaining that life. The distinction is only made when the human in question is of the male variety. No one is ever like, “That guy refused his ability to give his organs and totally aborted that patient!” No one ever collapses a man’s abilities with his person.
Just because someone has the ability do so something does NOT mean you can FORCE her to do it and USE that ability for your own purposes. This is true regardless of sex.
Do American women understand the *fundamental level* at which their rights are being violated when the right to an abortion is attacked? If the bodily resources of men were redistributed for the sustenance of others it would be recognized at once as communism.
Anti-choicers are communists, traitors, and a threat to this nation at the most fundamental level–but none of it is viewed truthfully because they only enslave women to the government.
At any stage of a pregnancy it is okay to remove the fetus (or baby) from the womb. That means at nine months, that is *still* okay. The child is likely to survive outside, or it may die, but either outcome is irrelevant: at no stage of a pregnancy is the child *entitled* to the bodily provisions of the mother. You need a person’s consent to live off of them, and when you need consent that means it’s not an inalienable right.
Whether or not you believe it is moral or immoral for a woman to abort a pregnancy at nine months is irrelevant to the foundational principle that she has that right. But I guess no woman ever had her rights recognized without some schmuck crying about how it was right or wrong as if the entire sex with the ability to give birth were long overdue that lecture and it’s his good grace to present it to them. (“Don’t get me wrong he shouldn’t have raped you but it was totally immoral to lead him on like that…”)
The fact that I believe it’s immoral to abort a pregnancy after 120 days when the life of the mother is not in danger (and if the mother is not providing an incubator for the life to continue) is IRRELEVANT to her right to abort the pregnancy or *separate the child from herself* and to whether the government can interfere with that inalienable right.
The next time you are giving birth announce to the medical staff, “I am aborting the pregnancy now.” Because you are.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
^Look at that; I guess they have an excuse.
36 thoughts on “Abortion is a right. At any and all times. (or, American Principles 101)”
Excellent points! Thank you for this.
Here via Feministe.
Great points! The problem is, your arguments are logical, which are not understandable to people who don’t operate by reasonings.
Curious to know your thoughts on how this particular article is logical in everyday life regardless if someone is pregnant or not? “You have the right to live–you do not have the right to survive at the expenses of someone else. Once you are enforcing a right by encroaching on another person, you are no longer practicing an inalienable right but infringing on the rights of that other individual. A civil right may require consent on the most fundamental level, but does not remove the right of the person from whom it requires consent to deny that consent without consequence. (You don’t want to count someone’s vote [civil right] on the basis of sex, race, class, or religion, then [consequently] find another job.)”
What exactly is your question?
Firstly, I want to start by saying that since I do not know the author at all, my understanding as well as interpretation of this article is solely my own idea. I may/may not agree with the author’s opinions about its relevance in other areas of life along with her opinion on other subjects. Having said so, I do find this article very logically articulated since her arguments are consistent, and are not based on any groundless presupposition.
I may not be able to provide you with an analogy that’s completely relevant and yet not related to pregnancy since this issue is quite unique and so are other parameters associated with it. If, however, I had to give an example anyway, let’s suppose there is a person trapped inside a burning house, and you happen to pass by the house. There are couple of things you may choose to do in this situation. To name the few, you may choose to completely neglect the situation for whatever reason it is and go your own way, another choice you have is to call 911, and another option is for you to risk your life to go save the person trapped inside.
Among the choices that you make depending on how physically and mentally fit you are and several other parameters, for different people this poses different degree of risk taking. In this scenario, no one including law can force an individual to risk one’s life to save the life of the dying person. Not helping to save the life of the dying person is not equivalent to taking away their lives or right to live. You may ask what about the laws like good samaritan law that oblige a person to help others in need? My response will be that good samaritan law are not in place everywhere, and also they don’t obligate “all” individuals to “risk” their lives. Doing the best you can for example calling 911 or calling for other kind of help may be an option, but again, that’s not entirely similar to single-handedly taking a responsibility to bear and possibly raise a child. It can be argued that it is in fact akin to what the author is arguing when she questions the responsibilities of other human beings and government (not only the mother) to build an incubator, or perhaps find ways to abort the pregnancy without risking the life of the fetus. If there is a viable option for aborting pregnancy without infringing on the right of both the fetus as well as the woman (or giving birth) analogous to calling 911, then sure that can be a solution.
My stand on the abortion issue is that instead of painting a picture of the pro-choice people as pro-abortion people, and uberly sensationalizing the issue by talking about the unnecessarily brutal obsolete late abortion practices, everyone should focus on what actually ensures greater good of the population. Like the author argues, the morality as well as emotional aspect of the abortion issue is heavily biased against women, and to the people, who think like I do, it comes of as a means to manipulate the mass.
Just by the virtue of being born as a human, and also particularly due to the moral construct of our society, if we were to scrutinize each and every little detail, each of us participate in the “killing” of others if lack of care is equivalent to killing. As for an example, imagine a poor country that is basically a desert. Do the people, who are born there have equal right to live anywhere in the the world as a whole or not? Just because they are born within a particular political boundary why do they have to rely on the resources that are available within that country? By constructing a society where we limit a free movement of people within a world, aren’t we really “killing” all the people in other parts of the world because we are really not doing anything significant to help all of them enjoy the resources of the world they are born in? As a result of this, a large number of people die each day because of starvation. Morality is a too big and also quite vague human construct, and hence, it doesn’t make sense to only victimize women by morally obliging them to give up their choices in order to “help save the lives” of fetuses that cannot survive without them. Arguing that women bear a moral obligation to save the lives of unborn fetuses implies that all of us in the world have to agree to live in a perfectly communist world otherwise morality cannot be an obligation, it should be a choice.
I’ve also often heard people arguing that women have sex by choice, hence they give up their right to make choices against getting pregnant in doing so. 1) All women at all the times don’t make choice to have sex, 2)Some women may have been using contraceptives, and the contraceptives might have failed. 3)Even if they were careless and really didn’t think about it, or after certain period of time had their own reason to abort pregnancy, why are only women penalized in the name of morality? If a man and a woman aren’t married and the woman becomes pregnant, is there a similar moral obligation for the man to be by the side of the woman he hasn’t married and also similar moral obligation for him to take care of his child? Why are there some obligations but only for married men? It is hypocritical that for most men there is not even a moral obligation, whereas in regards to women, some are even trying to make it a legal obligation to continue with the pregnancy.
Also, I believe that if one were to really argue for discouraging late abortions, they should rather support the idea of proper reproductive healthcare for women so that they have easily accessible contraceptives, and an option to early and safely terminate pregnancies. Also, the easy availability of other options like adoption possibilities etc. might encourage some people to choose that route over late and gruesome abortions (that is often the only picture of abortion that is painted by the pro-life people). Not only that, I find the idea of making abortion illegal very ironic in a sense that someone, who already is willing to abort a pregnancy, how good of a parent will they make if they are forced to go through a pregnancy? This makes me wonder if they are arguing for anti-abortion because they really care for the life of the unborn fetus or if there is some hidden agenda behind all this.
Thanks, but a lot of the problems in my country (the UK) is caused by men who don’t accept that a woman is even worth the same as a man (testimony of 2 women=testimony of 1 man), let alone has inalienable rights.
Um. That’s pretty random and irrelevant.
Cool story, bro.
It’s not random or irrelevant, it’s calling to the attention another way that women are treated with subpar rights than men just like the above article. You’ve got no business putting down someone who wants to share a relevant fact about his/her sexist country.
I’ve got business doing whatever the hell I want when someone else posts in my comment section about my religion (in a country in which its members are a minority with relatively little systematic power.) You think this was a coincidence? If the gentleman or lady wishes to discuss it he or she may locate an appropriate post. I have graciously provided several.
Nahida, this was posted on Reddit, and someone had this comment:
From the article: “If it requires consent, it’s not a right. You have the right to live–you do not have the right to survive at the expenses of someone else. Once you are enforcing a right by encroaching on another person, you are no longer practicing an inalienable right but infringing on the rights of that other individual.”
So in other words, the author is saying that the baby has the right to live, but that right does not mean the baby has an absolute claim on his/her mother’s womb as a residence/food-source for living.
While that does make sense, I wonder if this same author dares to apply this thinking to the welfare state, which “protects the rights of the needy” specifically by “encroaching” on others by taxing them. We can picture a single working mother receiving governmental support, which was provided by confiscating taxes from others, “encroaching” on their property — and yet she might say her unborn child cannot “encroach” on her body even under the claim of a right to life.
I’m not advocating one side or the other, here. But it’s inconsistent to require the wealthy to support those in poverty via taxes/gov’t-aid, but not require women to keep their baby alive.
It seems more consistent to either require both, or to require neither.
So from the Reddit feminist community’s perspective, how do we reconcile the contradiction? Do we treat property rights as absolute (“Keep your hands off my body and my money”)? Or do we treat people’s need to live as absolute (“Require the rich to support the needy, and require moms to not abort their child”)?
Everybody weigh in. I’m intending to get us talking, not to slam-dunk the issue.
How would you respond?
Didn’t Nahida write this because of flaws in conservative arguments?
This argument was not primarily intended for those ascribing to the liberal ideology.
Okay, but as you’re someone who ascribes to the liberal ideology, how DO you reconcile the difference?
Can’t I be a liberal when it’s convenient and a conservative when it’s convenient? =P
Kidding. The mother individually sustains the life of her unborn child; we do not mandate collectively sustaining that life. No one else is held responsible for sustaining it but her (and so while it is unborn no one else decides). Anti-abortionists are against abortion because they don’t have to contribute anything themselves to sustain an unborn child. When they do, they are miraculously starkly against sustaining it and life doesn’t matter so much anymore. (Ask them to pay for incubators! Or, hell, food stamps.)
The Constitution permits collective sustenance for the general welfare under Section 8.
That makes sense. Someone else going by textrovert had this reply too:
You’re assuming that money and bodies are both “property” to be treated equivalently. Most people don’t accept that, and do not think there is an absolute right to not be taxed for being part of a society. Money is a manifestation of social interactions, and so the community can and does have a claim to it and can decide collectively fair ways to use it to sustain the community. The same cannot be said for people’s bodies, which belong to individuals absolutely.
Yes, thank you.
‘Textrovert’! How clever!
This argument was not primarily intended for those ascribing to the liberal ideology.
Okay, yeah, see that explains the weird communist accusations in the article that don’t make sense as insults. I was like wtf.
Yeah no I wasn’t really serious. Well, you know, as long as they aren’t…
But I was entirely serious about the part regarding enslaving women to the government. And that makes them traitors.
Haha. …But you know how that communism stuff comes across to your more rational readers right?
Listen up, everyone. (I did not engage in this apologism bullshit in the post and I am not content about doing it in the comments.) If you find the communism accusation absurd–good. If you find the post itself extreme–see your way out.
When anti-abortionists have stopped waving graphic photos of “dying fetuses” at passing pedestrians and making ridiculous billboards alluding to the Holocaust and harassing rape victims walking into Planned Parenthood, you can tell me my approach is extreme. But in either circumstance I will not implore the morality of women by insisting that waiting until the seventh, eighth, or ninth month to abort a pregnancy is not very responsible or moral. Women are not children to be lectured. Women do not wait until the last few months to abort a pregnancy when their lives are not in danger or without good reason. Women do not decide to have an abortion by flipping a coin. (And if they did? No one’s business.) Women do not have sex without condoms or birth control pills or IUDs just because they can always abort the pregnancy. That means pain, time, and money. All of the apologism that arises around abortion is a result of the same mistrust of women and the same injustice exerted on them by those who cannot defend the welfare system without discouraging its exploitation; the underlying implication is that women–and only women–are selfish agents executing thoughtless actions. No one lectures men about how immoral they are and what a strain on society when they can’t keep their damn pants on.
If anything, anti-choicers should be *thrilled* when a woman aborts a pregnancy at nine months; if they truly believe conception marks the beginning of life, the child is more likely to survive having developed for a longer period. If it is necessary (I believe it is) the woman aborting the pregnancy early can be charged for the incubator and other medical procedures necessary to complete the child’s development. So that whether from the womb or from an incubator, the child develops fully.
If you cannot follow the logic of the post without indulging yourself in apologism or believing it to be an advocacy of late-term abortion rather than a recognition of the fundamental *choice* inherent in these principles, and of the disparity in societal approach to responsibility between the sexes, the problem is *your* understanding of the issue.
If you are up in arms about the disregard for the secondary moral perspective in this post (that of generosity to the fetus), but will simultaneously insist that the fact that I believe an abortion is immoral after 120 days is irrelevant to the lives of others because it is a moral construction of my religion, while also asserting that morality itself is always a construct (bad idea)–yet you are still considering late(r)-term abortions immoral in your formula of permissibility, you are arbitrarily privileging your own constructed morality over mine. That is unacceptable, and you have some hypocrisy to reconcile. Your constructed morality is no more relevant to the permissibility of late-term abortions in light of the Constitution than is the “constructed” morality of my religion. It was not, therefore, included in this post.
while asserting that morality itself is always a construct (bad idea)
Why is it a bad idea?
I’m usually not interested anything not post-modern, I believe morals are a social construct, but you’ve been making a lot of sense so I’m curious…
Why is it a bad idea?
Well at this point that’s kind of derailing, but I’ll answer it.
(I’m highly influenced by post-modernism, but I suppose the concept of morality not being universal isn’t remotely post-modern. I believe there are about two tiers of morality, or from a different angle that morality can be universal exactly because it can be relative.) Every layout of logic, down to even the most basic component–the syllogism–is comprised of a set of premises. For the conclusion that follows to be logically sound, these premises must be universal or at least [if preceded by qualifiers] universally applicable or true. The Declaration of Independence provides us these premises: that we have rights inalienable, inseparable, from birth. When you dismiss these premises as socially constructed or disregard them as universal, the foundation on which you have built your morality has dissipated and morality itself is compromised. You can call anything moral that you like! You can defend slavery–hey that’s just generosity right? You can say that a person is morally obligated to donate organs to another who is dying. Maybe they are, but that is a second tier of morality that I mentioned, secondary to your right to your own body, which *must* be recognized as an observation of the primary tier. The moral obligation, the duty to save that person’s life, is therefore a duty of your generosity, not of any inalienable right (to life or otherwise.) The separation of these, of the primary morals of rights and the secondary morals of generosity, have begun to merge into one another with no distinction, and I find that absurd–and dangerous. It disregards the autonomy of the individual. It can force anyone against their own will to give for any reason if another is viewed as more important. It creates unjust hierarchies between individuals.
In Islam (now to become religious) there are two basic sets of morals. Muslims must observe both, but non-Muslims are only bound to the primary. For example, I am obligated to give at least a fixed percentage of charity, because I am Muslim. Non-Muslims are not required to give charity. They pay a different tax because (in an Islamic state) they are not obligated to defend through the military but are still protected by it by the Muslims who are religiously required to defend them. Instead they must observe only the primary set–don’t kill, don’t steal, etc. Because these moral principles are concerned with not encroaching on the rights of others, rather than initiating an active generosity. In other words it’s the question of whether not engaging in evil is “being good” or if you have to have the presence of good to actually “be good” (not just the absence of evil.)
These principles (and the principle of inalienable rights) are derived from religion. I have heard many claim they don’t need religion to be moral–and they may very well believe it to be true and they of course are capable of making moral decisions without religion. But as a religious woman I would say that they can make these moral decisions because human beings are on some level intrinsically religious. And when you’re not *aware* of it, you do things like ignore the inalienable rights of human beings by failing to identify them and entitle yourself to the generosity of others.
What this post emphasizes, in short, is the primary realm of morality, not the secondary one that mandates generosity and active goodness–because the primary has been so overlooked and encroached upon (and therefore the secondary is no longer virtuous because rather than allow one to give freely it now infringes on the rights of the individual). By both those religious and non-religious. That is not to say the secondary does not exist or that it is not important; it is to say that the secondary cannot be enforced, because–everyone together!– “There is no obligation in religion.”
When you lecture me about how this post is immoral, you are subjecting me to your “religious” beliefs–regardless of whether you are religious!
how is it that you are THIS smart and articulate?! crap, you make everybody else feel bad.
Khadeeja <3 <3
Nahida, thought you might want to comment at the web page below.
How can it be a “right” when you need to ask someone (a Doctor) to exercise it?
Yes, you *can* abort a pregnancy by yourself. Women have done this.
When you hire a doctor to do it, you are paying someone else to do it for you (because, I presume, you don’t trust your own skill). That is between you and your doctor. The government cannot become involved–or else they are in fact interfering with a right.
You are not entitled to the skill of the doctor, but you are entitled to an abortion. If the doctor consents, the government has no business.
Really, really good points Nahida – and I am glad you did derail a bit because I think your points need to be read and understood by so many.
I can’t believe people still need to be coddled and have their hands held about this shit. Then again, maybe I should be chiding myself for NOT expecting it – considering the political climate that STILL surrounds a woman’s right to choose. Keep fighting the good fight!
Pingback: Forced sterilization is wrong. At any and all times. (or, Why Men Don’t Talk About Abortion 101) | the fatal feminist
I’m a bit late on the comments but Nahida… You are amazing and I am in AWE of you!!! :-D.
Pingback: Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion « Clarissa's Blog
Great post. I really enjoy your writing.
Previously I asked about Allah’s right over human rights. I would like to share this link with you Nahida and have your response in terms of an unborn child’s( called janin in the Quran) rights as stated by Allah. http://www.radianceweekly.com/184/4651/female-foeticide-a-curse-of-society/2009-12-27/cover-story/story-detail/the-superior-rights-of-the-unborn-child-in-islam.html
Yes I can compose a list of statements with no citations and declare they are from God as well.
This is ridiculous (and religion is not relevant to the post.) I’m a busy woman and don’t have time to entertain nonsense. If you want to make the argument please return with logically sound material that at the very least cites verses from the Qur’an and ahadith regarding abortion and isn’t so desperate to make a case that it needs to pretend drinking is forbidden only to pregnant women and that doesn’t
The Right to be Considered a Human Being / a Person: especially after the soul is breathed in and from 6-7 weeks pregnancy.
Pingback: March for Choice Rally in Dublin, Ireland « Becky's Kaleidoscope