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Serpent
hmm thanks for helping me clarify my position. i'm pro-choice and much like in your example, i value bodily autonomy highly. i'm also a former christian (though i've never considered myself a prolifer). i'm not sure i've completely let go the idea that the fetus is a human, i just think it doesn't matter.
i guess you're simplifying the pro-choice position a bit. the whole point is that if you view abortion as a choice, then not having abortion is also a choice, so from this point of view arbitrary cutoff dates are logically and morally consistent.
but being a specialist in computational linguistics, i value information highly. i think any new information should be able to affect the choice. in the rare example where a woman (or especially a young girl) finds out pretty late that she's pregnant, for example due to irregular periods and gynecological problems - in this case i think she should have the option to be relieved of her burden within 1-2 weeks - by means of abortion or c-section depending on the term and development. (if the fetus is barely viable, she should not have to pay for its treatment) most of all i believe that abortion should be an informed decision. i also consider it morally wrong to wait deliberately if you're hesitant, especially to wait until you know the sex of the fetus/baby, but i don't believe this should be illegal.
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Sj
From what Im gathering...Your a man...and shouldn't be making decisions about womens reproductive health issues. You've never experienced pregnancy, and can never understand what women go through
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Elahatterol
I would like the readers opinion on whether this 'bodily autonomy' argument would make a good example for pro-lifers to use.
http://ms-jd.org/blog/article/natural-rights-objection-reply-judith-jarvis-thomson039s-quota-defense-abortionquot
Below is a quote from the article:
'Suppose a woman gave birth to a baby in an environment in which there was no replacement available for her breast milk; the baby either breastfed, or starved to death. After all, people do not have the right to artificially obtain bodily fluids from others for their own survival. Would the baby have a right to breastfeed?
If the mother were to refuse to allow the baby to breastfeed, she would be committing infanticide – maternal infanticide. The situation of pregnancy is similar to this. Therefore, abortion is no different from maternal infanticide. The bottom line is, people do have a right to use each others bodies as a means of their own survival if it’s a part of the natural mother/child relationship (and no replacements are available, e.g. artificial wombs, wet nurses, or formula)'.
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Athena1077
Val,
breastfeeding is not the same as gestation. Gestation is a gross violation of bodily autonomy for a woman is forced to endure childbirth possible surgery, incontinence, and other complications due to gestation, some that can be permanent. Breastfeeding is a minor/trivial, though I don't really know if the baby has a RIGHT to breastfeed, that is a good question? I mean a NEED does not create a right, not even to breastmilk in my opinion. Maternal infanticide is killing of an infant, an abortion is aborting an embryo/fetus NOT in infant. An infant lives outside the body and is not inside the uterus, does not require gestation or an umbilical cord. Stop equating infants to non-viable, non-sentient, embryos.
Being compelled to breastfeed and developing sore breasts does not compare to childbirth and gestation type of bodily autonomy violation.
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Elahatterol
I have both been pregnant AND have lactated for long periods, and I totally think the two ARE comparable.
But I really would like a fellow pro-lifer's opinion.
Thanks.
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Ann Morgan
Gladys, nobody has a right to anything (object or service), against the will of whoever is to provide it. However, if a particular 'need' is something that can be provided by numerous different people, odds are that someone, somewhere, will be willing to provide is. VS the case on only ONE person being able to provide it. The odds of not being able to get it are far greater. This is basic math. Let's say that the odds of any given person not wanting to provide a particular 'need' of a baby is 10%. If only one person in the world can provide said 'need', then the odds are 10% that any possible provider (being only that one person) won't want to provide it. On the other hand, if there are 10 people who could provide what was needed, then the odds that all 10 of them would not want to provide it, would be only 1%.
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lawwad
"You may not like sex-selective abortions, but you can’t oppose them while simultaneously supporting early abortions with bodily rights arguments."
"The violinist argument falls into the same problem. If I want to unplug from the violinist because the violinist is African-American and I’m a racist, I still have the right to unplug."
No. Someone's answer to The Violinist may very well deny the right to unplug an African-American if that decision is made purely on racist grounds.
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Crystal
@Ameribear,
“That's true. Sex has both unitive and procreative purposes and they cannot be
separated.”
If sex has unitive purposes as well as procreative, why did you focus primarily on
the procreative purposes?
“I agree and one of the most effective ways to help women is to tell them the truth
about contraception.”
What do you recommend contraception be replaced with? Also, what truth are you
referring to?
“Unexpected pregnancies result from women who have fallen for the lie that because of
contraception you can be sexually active and never have to face the consequences of it.”
Why do you refer to pregnancy as a consequence*? Also, what about couples who are
married? Is it a consequence for them? Please let me ask a clarification question – are you saying that women don’t fear an unwanted pregnancy as much with prolific contraception as without? If not, what are you saying?
“Couples who engage in the act with that mindset don't plan for pregnancies because they believe they're not at any appreciable risk for getting pregnant when in fact
they are.”
What do you mean, plan for pregnancies? Are you referring to a backup plan as to
what should happen if the woman becomes pregnant? Or are you referring to automatically preparing for motherhood and marriage because of it?
“That's all well and good but it's supposed the be the job of the parents not
communities to educate and raise their own kids.”
That might be so, but many women who reject abortion are solo mothers. If it’s their
job, where’s the father? Also why shouldn’t the community step in in these cases and assist the mother through day-care and other such facilities?
“Changing attitudes certainly needs to be done but it is going to be a staggering uphill fight because our sex-soaked culture has the deck stacked overwhelmingly against it.”
While I agree that we need to change attitudes, what sort of attitude changes are
*you personally referring to? Because I think they are quite different from the ones I had in mind. I agree that our culture is sexually saturated in a vulgar, pornographic way, and I believe in strong reform in this area. At the same time, such reform won’t come if we’re afraid to admit that women bleed (menstruate) and enjoy sex. These things need to be discussed. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
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Ameribear
If sex has unitive purposes as well as procreative, why did you focus primarily on the procreative purposes?
Since there are two coequal purposes of sex then neither one can be emphasized over the other. The procreative purpose brings a new, unique, distinct whole human organism into existence and the unitive purpose helps ensure the most stable and favorable environment is in place for that new human to grow and thrive. Both purposes must be ordered to the greater good of the human race and they can't if we keep separating them. What do you recommend contraception be replaced with?
Contraception first must be replaced with a reestablishing of a firm understanding of the meaning and purpose of the sex act. What it's ends are. The actual means by which couples can legitimately avoid conceiving children or spacing children can be achieved thru natural family planning. Also, what truth are you referring to?
Hormonal contraception poses serious health threats and it isn't as effective as it's we're being led to believe. It also facilitates the objectification of women. Men only see women as a means to an end. Why do you refer to pregnancy as a consequence?
It's the natural ends or consequences of the sex act., it still happens. Sperm and egg have a habit of doing exactly what they are intended to do in spite of all the available means to prevent it. Also, what about couples who are married? Is it a consequence for
them?
It is a consequence that any fertile heterosexual couple who engages in the sex act assumes the risk of occuring. Please let me ask a clarification question – are you saying that women don’t fear an unwanted pregnancy as much with prolific contraception as without? If not, what are you saying?
I am saying that couples believe the risk of conception is far lower than it really is with the wide spread use of contraception. If they don't think the risk is that high they will engage in the act without believing they need to be prepared if the contraception fails. What do you mean, plan for pregnancies?
They will not see the need to ensure the most favorable environment is already in place for the well being of a child that they are risking bringing into existence. Are you referring to a backup plan as to what should happen if the woman becomes pregnant? Or are you referring to automatically preparing for motherhood and marriage because of it?
I am referring to ensuring that any child they are risking bringing into existence will have the best possible environment in place to grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults. If the couple isn't ready or committed to providing that, then they shouldn't be having sex until they are. That might be so, but many women who reject abortion are solo mothers. If it’s their job, where’s the father?
That is an excellent question that almost never gets asked. The men who are fathering these kids and abandoning them to be raised by their mothers share the blame and should be held accountable. I think once paternity is proven, there should be mandatory child support payments garnished from their wages or they should be forced to sign away their parental rights so the child can be adopted. Also why shouldn’t the community step in in these cases and assist the mother through day-care and other such facilities?
This is not the most favorable environment but it is better than nothing. The main danger of it is the entitlement mentality it tends to foster. If no sense of responsibility is instilled in potential parents up front, they'll see it as a way of abdicating it to someone else. While I agree that we need to change attitudes, what sort of attitude changes are you personally referring to?
The attitude that frequent, instant sexual gratification is the greatest good and that it's permissible to use anyone or any means to achieve it for ones self. Because I think they are quite different from the ones I had in mind. I agree that our culture is sexually saturated in a vulgar, pornographic way, and I believe in strong reform in this area. At the same time, such reform won’t come if we’re afraid to admit that women bleed (menstruate) and enjoy sex. These things need to be discussed. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
Women should enjoy sex, there's nothing wrong with that unless they aren't willing to assume everything else that's supposed to go along with that. Sexual intimacy enhances and strengthens couples only if they are willing to enjoy it in it's proper context of a lifelong, married, committed, union that is open to the transmission of new life. Women should be seen as living, breathing works of art whose worth goes way beyond being a means to the ends of male sexual gratification.
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Crystal
Before anything else – please excuse my plain question, but are you a Roman Catholic? I’m asking so I can better understand where you are coming from here. Also, what’s your avatar about? It looks a little like something from the Byzantine era.
“Since there are two coequal purposes of sex then neither one can be emphasized over the other. The procreative purpose brings a new, unique, distinct whole human organism into existence and the unitive purpose helps ensure the most stable and favorable environment is in place for that new human to grow and thrive. Both purposes must be ordered to the greater good of the human race and they can't if we keep separating them.”
While I agree with this paragraph, I notice (no offence intended) that the Catholic Church tends to do just this – emphasise one purpose of sexual intimacy over the other. I also observed that you seemed to be doing it as well, hence my initial reply to your original comment back on LJF.
“Contraception first must be replaced with a reestablishing of a firm understanding of the meaning and purpose of the sex act. What it's ends are. The actual means by which couples can legitimately avoid conceiving children or spacing children can be achieved thru natural family planning.”
Do you think it’s possible that people can do both? I mean, have contraception while preparing people for the very real possibility that it might fail? That being said, while I don’t doubt that some forms of NFP are excellent, I don’t think they are, or should be, the only method out there for sexually active women to use.
Also, if contraception is so wrong, isn’t NFP a form of contraception (albeit a natural one)? If it is a form of birth control what is the difference between using it and using some other form of contraception? In short, why do you believe this way about the NFP/other BC topic?
“Hormonal contraception poses serious health threats and it isn't as effective as it's we're being led to believe.”
While I disagree on the effectiveness (and require proof for this assertion) of the contraceptive properties, I agree that hormonal contraception can cause health problems for the women taking this and this is an issue of great concern to me. I simply believe in improving the drugs and devices so that the women taking them can use them to greater effect without feeling nauseated all the time.
I also know some of these more controversial drugs and devices contain progestin, which is artificial progesterone and overall not the best thing you want for your menstrual health due to its mimicking genuine progesterone, thus allowing menstrual cramps and other menstrual illnesses to continue (even while having the effect of decreasing them in some cases) rather than eliminating the
problems as they should. One major improvement I would make is replace the progestin with a different type of progesterone which would really deal with the cramps and other illnesses so that women could truly live productive lives while going through their cycles.
I am also curious as to what health threats you say it poses?
“It also facilitates the objectification of women. Men only see women as a means to an end.”
In a sense, I agree with this because women shouldn’t be ill all the time so that men can be gratified by their temporary loss of their ability to conceive. I do perceive this as a form of mastery by the man, to subjugate the woman and punish her for daring to delight in sex, plus what you said. However, some women are hardly ill on the drugs but that doesn’t mean we should overlook the plight of those who are. At the same time, women can use them for other purposes besides contraception – like, for their periods – and on that level their lives have improved substantially (that sounds like a contradiction to what I said earlier, but my current position is that if it works for someone they should take it. Also, I do express concerns to make these drugs and
devices better rather than to drive them out of existence). Furthermore, it’s not wrong for a woman not to want a child at that time, so using contraception makes her feel more secure (but you seem to think this is a false sense of security – not being rude, just making an observation) and less fearful of pregnancy. Therefore, I agree and disagree with this point you raised on contraception, because I perceive a society that cares little for women’s health for the sake of men’s sexual gratification to be as dangerous as a society that refuses to provide women an alternative if they don’t wish to be, and I quote, “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen,” or bent double with crippling pain whilst on their periods. My fellow commenter, Cynthia, who I deeply respect because she has always treated me well even when we've disagreed, has also made excellent points on the pros of contraception, below.
“It's the natural ends or consequences of the sex act., it still happens. Sperm and egg have a habit of doing exactly what they are intended to do in spite of all the available means to prevent it.”
I’m not arguing with that. At the same time, God also gave us the ability to decide – it’s called free will. If we’re not trusting God for the outcome by refusing to have children, then we’re not trusting God for the outcome every time we lock our doors to prevent theft (not on the same level I know, but I’m trying to use it as an example). The idea that the womb needs to be continually open to life is not only fatalistic but also can lead to serious health risks for the mother, which is not prolife at all. Contraception is not naughty, nor is it a sign of disobedience to God. It’s simply an assertion of my free will and either choice is morally neutral, in and of itself.
“It is a consequence that any fertile heterosexual couple who engages in the sex act assumes the risk of occuring.”
I agree, but isn’t this what family planning is for, to prevent this from
happening? Shouldn’t people plan out what will happen if they get pregnant so they know and they can rest secure in the knowledge that this pregnancy doesn’t necessarily have to change their lives? I think part of the reason abortion is so prevalent in our society is that women tend to be taken by surprise when they get pregnant, ironically enough even when they haven’t used contraceptives. If it is a consequence we should be reducing said consequence as much as possible through contraceptives and sex education; after all, married people have sex too!
I find it interesting that you refer to pregnancy as a “consequence” for another reason. If you are Catholic – and I don’t know that – I will say that Catholics have a negative view of sex (or at least it seems so to me) referring to it as “dirty” and such like. I really recommend (with caution on the abortion topic) that any serious Catholic-minded person start reading the Our Bodies, Ourselves website to see sex is not dirty. Also sex is a natural creation of God and as God created sex (not just for procreation but for us to enjoy), how can it be right for us to call it unclean? What about the children that result from it; I thought children were a gift from God not a consequence! Sadly, people can abuse it
through acts like rape and incest, but sex itself, when done between consenting adults, is not dirty and wrong at all. You might like to read Samantha Field’s blog to learn more about healthy sex too; it certainly informed my understanding in a few areas.
“I am saying that couples believe the risk of contraception is far lower than it really is with the wide spread use of contraception. If they don't think the risk is that high they will engage in the act without believing they need to be prepared if the contraception fails.”
While I disagree with your first sentence (again, I would like some evidence to substantiate this claim) I think your second one is very sound. No more needs to be said.
“They will not see the need to ensure the most favorable environment is already in place for the well being of a child that they are risking bringing into existence.”
While I agree with the principle of preparing for pregnancy when you engage in sex, it’s a shame that women can’t just enjoy intimacy without having to think of this all the time. They shouldn’t be bound to this, every hour of every day, especially when they have careers and lives ahead of them; and they shouldn't feel like they should have to abstain either because of it.
“I am referring to ensuring that any child they are risking bringing into existence will have the best possible environment in place to grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults. If the couple isn't ready or committed to providing that, then they shouldn't be having sex until they are.”
I agree with your first sentence, entirely. Couples should plan ahead so any potential children they conceive will be looked after even if they adopt out. That being said I agree and disagree with your second sentence. I agree in the sense that couples should look out for the well being of the future generations, but I disagree in the sense that couples don’t have to become a traditional unit and raise the child together. Sometimes this is NOT a good idea! Did you know that psychopathic men exist?
“That is an excellent question that almost never gets asked. The men who are fathering these kids and abandoning them to be raised by their mothers share the blame and should be held accountable. I think once paternity is proven, there should be mandatory child support payments garnished from their wages or they should be forced to sign away their parental rights so the child can be adopted.”
I do agree with your philosophy at this juncture. Many early feminists thought the same way, Mary Wollstonecraft, the Mother of Modern Feminism who all second-wave feminists adored and worshiped, among them.
Here are a couple of quotes from Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women, discussing men and financial support:
p. 176
"I mean, therefore, to infer that the society is not properly organized
which does not compel men and women to discharge their respective duties, by making it the only way to acquire that countenance from their fellow-creatures, which every human being wishes some way to attain." (This isn't exactly talking about child support but if someone wanted to apply it they could)
p. 91
"The necessity of polygamy, therefore, does not appear; yet when a man seduces a woman, it should, I think, be termed a left-handed marriage, and the man should be legally obligated to maintain the woman and her children, unless adultery, a natural divorcement, abrogated the law. And this law should remain in force as long as the weakness of women caused the word seduction to be used
as an excuse for their frailty and want of principle; nay, while they depend on man for a subsistence, instead of earning it by the exertion of their own hands or heads. But these women should not, in the full meaning of the relationship, be termed wives, or the very purpose of marriage would be subverted, and all those endearing charities that flow from personal fidelity, and give a sanctity to the tie, where neither love nor friendship unites the hearts, would melt into selfishness. The woman who is faithful to the father of her children demands respect, and should not be treated like a prostitute; though I readily grant that if it be necessary for a man and woman to live together in order to
bring up their offspring, nature never intended that a man should have more than one wife." (In a sense, her words might not apply on the level of careers and breadwinning because women can do that, but they STILL apply a lot on the "she asked to be raped" business plus other areas) (also note I use asterisks* in place of italics)
Even Andrea Dworkin, pro-legal abortion second-wave feminist, points out that men love abortion because it stops them from having to be responsible fathers. So many feminists have picked up on this as well so you are in good company there.
Those are good suggestions you raise but the culture you are suggesting encourages fathers to hide, which is counterproductive to your intentions. Abortion became legal in part because women were tired of being blamed for their biology; we must attempt to change the culture to accommodate women and their biology, rather than change the biology, which is impossible.
“This is not the most favorable environment but it is better than nothing. The main danger of it is the entitlement mentality it tends to foster. If no sense of responsibility is instilled in potential parents up front, they'll see it as a way of abdicating it to someone else.”
Why do you say, entitlement; I really am curious now? That’s a puzzling comment coming from a prolifer, I have to admit. We need to get rid of the old philosophy that says that raising children is only a woman’s job; that’s – again – part of the reason abortion is so rife in this country because women feel they get to decide to kill, but the moment they choose not to they suffer a serious disadvantage – that of having the child palmed off into her hands. One leaf I will take from the Cuban government’s book – they shouldn’t have made it law but it was a good idea – was that fathers spend part of the day with their children, and mothers spend the other part of the day with their children. That way it gets all shared out, without complaints from anyone!!
I can see the danger of people abusing it, especially if it is a government handout; I know of women who have gotten pregnant on purpose to receive benefits from the government and this is a serious abuse of a benefit for solo mothers we have in my country.
Are you against adoption? I am against handing children off willy-nilly myself, but not the principle of adoption per se!
“The attitude that frequent, instant sexual gratification is the greatest good and that it's permissible to use anyone or any means to achieve it for ones self.”
Well, I agree and disagree. Josh Brahm covered this in his article:
http://blog.equalrightsinstitute.com/is-abortion-justified-by-an-inalienable-right-to-sex/
It really is worth the read. I am not for an inalienable right to sex, but I do think we have a right to have sex if that’s what we want – within reason of course. Why some people view sex as so important that they will kill their children for it is emotionally beyond me; at the same time I share their concern when they say that women need equality. I simply disagree that we need abortion to be equal, and I feel that we could do better than this as a society. We need to accommodate both the sexual liberation of women and any children that arise from that liberation because both are equally important, and to downplay the rights of one party is to treat said party as property.
I would have thought that we needed to change the attitude that childbearing and childrearing was the woman’s work alone, and started to become a less selfish, more empathetic society that looked out for one another a lot more than we do. The city is generally cold and impersonal and people tend to be so caught up with their own concerns they never look out for others, and I find that really sad. If prolifism is taken to its logical conclusions it could shake the world into looking out for the needy and desperate ones within its midst so people will feel more inclined to look after one another than they do now. People tend
to think “Your problems are your responsibility” rather than realising we’re all tied together on the great wheel of life so it is our duty to help those less fortunate than ourselves. As Jesus said, “As you did it for one of the least of these, so you have done it for me.”
Sex is healthy, and I would love to have it. I simply plan to be careful in case I get pregnant, that’s all. And I’m against the idea that women must live with the fear of pregnancy hanging over their heads at all times. I agree completely with your sentence but I don’t agree with the excesses some prolifers might take this sentiment to – to basically force women never, never to have sex unless they are willing to become mothers and this is not okay; we are not living in the 1950s and we never will again. What we need to do instead is to alter our attitudes toward sex and pregnancy so that women won’t feel trapped by it but will know that they don’t have to be alone whether they adopt out or keep the baby. You see, legal abortion advocates and conservative prolifers have one thing in common – they believe that raising children is “women’s work”
and that the world will never change to accommodate the ideal of “it takes a village to raise a child”; women are left out in the cold, alone and struggling. I agree, fathers need to pay their bills but all women got when abortion got legalised was a nice little out to kill their children. Nothing important got changed – nothing! I want to see the world’s attitude change on this so we start loving and caring for the least of these rather than say “oh that’s your problem”; it’s uncaring and out of character for who we are as prolifers. Now I am not accusing you of anything; please clarify if I’ve misrepresented your views.
“Women should enjoy sex, there's nothing wrong with that unless they aren't willing to assume everything else that's supposed to go along with that.”
You could have stopped after saying “Women should enjoy sex, there’s nothing wrong with that.” What about changing the attitudes towards sex and pregnancy so that women can more willingly assume everything else that’s supposed to go along with intimacy?According to what you seem to be suggesting, women must give up their careers and dreams and desires if they want sex. I disagree completely with this belief
and I think it’s part of what’s holding us back rather than propelling us
forward:
http://blog.secularprolife.org/2016/11/kill-your-baby-or-kill-your-career-is.html
Mothers deserve self-care, and all the help they can get (hence my suggestions favouring maternity leave and daycare centers). Raising children is no picnic, and it’s easy for people to say that it is when they will never be faced with doing what a woman does, because a woman’s tasks are never done. I’ve watched my mother for years; she is one of the most hardworking people I know, working from sunup to sundown, without a break. I mean this seriously, should every woman’s life be one of constant hard, unpaid toil? Sure, they say there are rewards for it, but I would find motherhood to be an imprisonment (and I really mean that).
Personal motivation for my disagreement: I’m single, and a virgin, but I know I’d like sex if I had it. I don’t want children; I struggle with tokophobia and valid fears of losing my own personhood, and don’t feel ready for marriage. Does that mean I shouldn’t enjoy intimacy? I disagree; what about the men who relish sexual encounters with the fair sex? Hardly any consequences for them I see. I realise that you personally don’t mean it this way, but more often than not, that is the way it works out if women don’t have the tools to sexually empower themselves. I don’t think it’s wrong to like being intimate with a man and not want children; that’s what the principle of birth control is all about.
“Sexual intimacy enhances and strengthens couples only if they are willing to enjoy it in it's proper context of a lifelong, married, committed, union that is open to the transmission of new life.”
What about “child-free” couples (don’t really like that word but can’t find anything else to accurately describe couples who choose not to have children)? Or couples who wanted children but couldn’t have them? I want to ask, are their lifelong, married, committed unions of any less value because they don’t have children, or are all marriages equal before God?
“Women should be seen as living, breathing works of art whose worth goes way beyond being a means to the ends of male sexual gratification.”
That is a beautiful explanation of why I believe in menstrual rights – because menstruation shows that women are exactly as you described them, and they didn’t need children to be that. By this I am referring to one of the spiritual purposes of menstruation = independence. This independence signifies a release or a temporary freeing from society’s rules for her, and it ties into intuition and creativity, allowing her to create or write things she might not have been able to do otherwise. That being said – women can still create and write and do amazing things, without menstruation and without being wives and mothers. I
believe you mean well by your sentence, but women need to be seen as people before anything else, just like men are, with unique purposes to their lives, just as men are. I’m single, young, and feel as if I have a different purpose from being a wife and mother, and my life and contributions count for no less than the homemaker’s.
I want to make it clear I have really enjoyed this conversation and I hope you have too; you have forced me to think a few times and I will probably continue to think about the things you’ve written after I’ve posted this up. That being said, I realise I came across as passionate, but I hope I haven’t come across as hostile or accusatory and scared you away from talking to me due to my earnestness on these topics, and yes, I find you fun to converse with, in part because we disagree so much. I will be taking a vacation from online life for a while but
I do hope that you will stick around, because I would love to chat with you more if we see each other again.
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CynthiaJD
I realize that your views are likely based on religious teachings, and if you aren't willing to think about them critically for that reason, I understand.
That said, since this blog is about engaging in discussion with others, I have to say that as someone who doesn't share those particular religious beliefs, your argument doesn't sound remotely logical.
I'm married with children. After my third child was born, it was pretty clear that there was a great deal of scar tissue and my uterus would not have been able to tolerate another pregnancy that quickly. I was 32, and not at a point where hysterectomy (a major surgery) would have been appropriate, nor was I 100% sure that my childbearing was done. According to you, should my husband and I have remained celibate for the past 12 years? If so, why on earth would we choose to do that?
While I agree that sex has both a unitive and procreative function, I see both functions as potentially positive. You've stated that both need to be present any time that a couple has sex, but you haven't explained or defended that assertion. You argue that the unitive function helps to create the most stable environment for the new life created by the procreative function to thrive. Well, if my husband and I had been forced to remain celibate for the past 12 years, how exactly would that have worked? We have 3 children. Those children need and deserve parents who have a strong relationship. Having a physically intimate relationship (with sexual gratification for both of us) is one of the things that helps us to be the best spouses, and by extension the best parents, that we can be.
We are already married, committed, and providing an ideal environment for children. I simply have a uterus that is quite scarred from 3 c-sections, and a condition called adenomyosis. Hormonal birth control has a number of effects. For me, my Mirena IUD was actually the best treatment for excessive bleeding due to the adenomyosis that was causing serious anemia. My only other options were burning off the uterine lining - painful and prone for failure for patients with adenomyosis - or a hysterectomy (major abdominal surgery with all the associated risks, long recovery period and risk of vaginal vault prolapse). Do you oppose the use of Mirena IUD to control excess bleeding for someone like me? If so, why? What alternative would you propose? More importantly - would you take any steps to prevent women like me from being able to access treatment like this?
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Ameribear
According to you, should my husband and I have remained celibate for the past 12 years? If so, why on earth would we choose to do that?
That's entirely up to you. No one should know the risks involved better than you, your spouse and your doctor. Get the best advice possible in order to make the most informed decision you can. You've stated that both need to be present any time that a couple has sex, but you haven't explained or defended that assertion.
I want to make certain that you understand that I'm saying the sex act must be open to the transmission of new life but that every sex act does not have to result in conception. The reason for it is because willfully and artificially blocking the transmission of new life for no valid reason is objectifying another person and using them for nothing more than a means to and end. Your saying in essence that I accept everything about you except your fertility. Well, if my husband and I had been forced to remain celibate for the past 12 years, how exactly would that have worked? We have 3 children. Those children need and deserve parents who have a strong relationship. Having a physically intimate relationship (with sexual gratification for both of us) is one of the things that helps us to be the best spouses, and by extension the best parents, that we can be.
Marriage and the sexual intimacy that goes along with it are supposed to be ordered to the good of the couple but in order for them to achieve those ends they have to be accepted as a package deal. The entire process of having children from beginning to end is supposed to change both parents over time by increasing their capacity to love. It's supposed to teach the couple the meaning of authentic love which is sacrificial, that is desiring the best for someone else without expecting anything in return. You're right about the importance of the role that physical intimacy plays in a marriage but it's not the only means available to us to become the best spouses and parents. Ultimately it's going to be the cumulative effect of everything you do as parents and spouses over the time you spend raising your kids that's going to bring out your best selves and your children's best selves. Do you oppose the use of Mirena IUD to control excess bleeding for someone like me? If so, why? What alternative would you propose? More importantly - would you take any steps to prevent women like me from being able to access treatment like this?
I favor everyone having access to the best possible treatment for helping the human body function as it's intended to. If you have done your research and you and your doctor have decided that this is indeed the best possible treatment for you, then I sincerely hope and pray that you are quickly restored to the best possible health.
What I object to is the intentional use of artificial contraception between couples who willfully refuse to accept the responsibilities of having and raising children. That mindset reflects a deeply rooted selfishness and feeds a me first attitude in the relationship which is the antithesis of what an authentic marital relationship is supposed to be.
Congratulations and the very best to you and your husband for your generosity in having and raising fantastic children. Having raised five of our own with my wife I can certainly identify with your circumstances.
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CynthiaJD
You are correct that the decision is entirely up to me.
Do you agree that the government has no business limiting access to birth control?
You are still repeating the part about how sex needs to be a "package deal", without explaining in any persuasive way why this would be the case. Again, it's possible that the answer for you might be "because the Church says so", but that's not the case for us. It's also not remotely persuasive to somehow suggest that my marriage isn't about authentic, sacrificial love. There was plenty of that during the years that I had my 3 children and 3 miscarriages, and there was also lots of that when he accepted that I would not be having more children. Also, we haven't refused the responsibilities of children. Our kids are all under 18, and we haven't tossed them out. We are actively being their parents every day.
I fail to see how contraception would be objectifying me, when I'm the one who is saying that my body cannot handle another pregnancy. Sex isn't just for his benefit.
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Ameribear
Do you agree that the government has no business
limiting access to birth control?
What the government should be doing with birth control is the same thing it does with substances like alcohol and tobacco. It should be warning the public more clearly about the health risks associated with it's use and about the fact that it isn't as effective as it's being marketed. I think this would be a better approach. You are still repeating the part about how sex needs to be a "package deal", without explaining in any persuasive way why this would be the case. Again, it's possible that the answer for you might be "because the Church says so", but that's not the case for us.
I just stated quite clearly that the institution of marriage and of the sexual intimacy that goes along with it are supposed to be ordered to the proper formation and bonding of the couple and the children they're going to have. Nowhere in my reasoning did I mention anything about religion. It's also not remotely persuasive to somehow suggest that my marriage isn't about authentic, sacrificial love. There was plenty of that during the years that I had my 3 children and 3 miscarriages, and there was also lots of that when he accepted that I would not be having more children. Also, we haven't refused the responsibilities of children. Our kids are all under 18, and we haven't tossed them out. We are actively being their parents every day.
My answers were intended to contrast two different understandings of what love is. In making them I was in no way suggesting that you and your husband were somehow inferior parents and I'm very sorry that you took them the wrong way. You sound to me like wonderfully devoted spouses and parents who understand what authentic love is. I fail to see how contraception would be objectifying me, when I'm the one who is saying that my body cannot handle another pregnancy. Sex isn't just for his benefit.
You seem to have a very good reason to for needing to use contraception. If you are seeking to avoid getting pregnant again for very legitimate reasons and you and your doctor have decided that this is the best means available to you then you aren't being objectified. It's not the use of birth control that's the problem, it's the reasons for using it.
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Anonymous
Can't critics of the pro-life position turn around and make the same charge? Pro-life arguments necessitate banning abortion in the case of rape, placing more restrictions on IVF, punishing women that have abortions in at least some cases, and banning some forms of birth control (which ones are problematic is still an open debate). The vast majority of people oppose these positions. A more honest graphic than the one above would have "allow abortion in the case of rape" on the left. I think most people could still be persuaded to push the button on the right (and reject the one on the left), but we should at least acknowledge that bodily rights arguments are not the only ones that lead to an "extremist position".
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joshbrahm
We admitted as much in the paragraph towards the beginning that starts with "Pro-life people can make extremist arguments too."
The question would be are the statements you listed all necessary to be consistent with the pro-life view. I would argue that at least several of them are not. But it's certainly the kind of point a pro-choice person should bring up if they want to better understand the pro-life position and whether or not it actually holds water.
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Anonymous
There are a few examples in the first paragraph, but all of them (conveniently) appear to be views you don't actually hold. This seems a bit disingenuous to me.
Regarding my examples, are there any you don't agree with? They all seem to be positions you have endorsed in other articles on this blog, and other mainstream pro-life organizations support them as well. Please clarify if I've misrepresented your views.
Pro-choice people already do bring up these points. This is most evident when you look at the way the mass media (which is clearly partial to the pro-choice side, to put it mildly) covers the political aspect of the issue. As Marco Rubio noted, pro-life candidates are constantly asked the hard questions while pro-choice candidates essentially get a free ride. Nobody ever questions Hillary Clinton's presence at the March for Partial-birth Abortion or points out that support for Roe v. Wade is code for abortion on demand through all nine months. I definitely agree that we need to do a better job demonstrating that the most common pro-choice arguments and statements lead to extreme conclusions.
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Crystal
"As Marco Rubio noted, pro-life candidates are constantly
asked the hard questions while pro-choice candidates essentially get a free ride."
Sadly, this is true. Although I've always said that we should never be afraid to answer the tough questions, I think sometimes those tough questions are thrown at us to show problems with the prolife position while seeking to clear the opposing side of all moral blame, and to make them look good and us bad. It's time we doubled down and asked a few tough questions ourselves. As for THAT WOMAN she and all others like her ought to be challenged severely on their roles in the pro-legal abortion sphere.
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acyutananda
It is worth noting. But if pro-choicers would reply that the US Constitution doesn't necessarily represent the last word in moral sensitivity, I would say they have a point.
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acyutananda
. . . other times they double down and say, “Fine! Then it’s okay to kill newborns,” or “Fine! Then squirrels are people too.”. . . I’m cautiously optimistic that many of
the college students I have seen agree to awful conclusions will grow up
eventually and recognize that squirrels aren’t people, rape is actually
wrong (not just distasteful), and that a newborn child has the right to
live.
It seems that at some points in some discussions, you expect a student's moral intuitions to tell them the right thing, and if their moral intuitions don't tell them the right thing, there's not much you can do about it. Presumably if you had rational arguments on certain points that you found irrefutable, you would try them on the students as well, so (I hope I'm not being too presumptuous here) it appears that you have moral convictions that you have arrived at for yourself without any logic or rational method that even you consider irrefutable. In that case you would have to say, "It was PROBABLY such-and-such logic or rational method that brought me to the correct moral intuition, but ultimately that moral intuition came out of my unconscious in some way I cannot understand." Would you say that?
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acyutananda
Thanks.
As you say, an extremist argument isn't necessarily invalid, and in fact [Edit: if we take the Merriam-Webster's first def. of "extremism," "the quality or state of being extreme," where "extreme" means "very great in degree" or "very serious or severe," then] pro-lifers would be in a weak position if they complained about bodily-rights extremism, because (as pro-choicers like to point out -- in fact this is their main argument for bodily-rights extremism) pro-lifers are as extremist as pro-choicers about bodily rights except for pro-lifers' one, seemingly-inconsistent, departure in the case of abortion. Many pro-lifers will join many pro-choicers in saying that no one should be compelled to donate blood for any reason (though it is a harmless procedure), and that no one's body parts should be used even after they are dead (though that would also be a harmless procedure) if they have not given advance permission.
So your strong argument is not, per se, that the bodily-rights position leads to extremism [Edit: in the above sense or in the sense in which you mainly use the word, referring to the political spectrum], but the fact that in the case of abortion, such extremism leads pro-choicers -- leads all of us, rather, because we all believe in bodily rights -- to conflicts with our moral intuitions.*
I think that if we could identify exactly the valid reason that people should have bodily rights in the first place, it would become clear why that reason is not a justification for abortion. I have thought about this here: http://www.NoTerminationWithoutRepresentation.org/bodily-rights-and-a-better-idea/
  • I don't think you would reply here that extremism is the same as conflicting with our moral intuitions, because you said "Describing an argument as extremist doesn’t mean it’s false." If an extremist argument were defined as an argument that conflicts with correct moral intuitions, then an extremist argument would necessarily be false/invalid. You seem to have used "extremist", at least in your "doesn't mean" sentence, to denote "sweeping," "categorical," or "politically extreme," and that is the way I have used it. [Correction: I have used the word in its root sense. The Merriam-Webster's first def. of "extremism" is "the quality or state of being extreme," where "extreme" means "very great in degree" or "very serious or severe" -- i.e., "sweeping," "categorical". The M-W's third def. of "extremism" is "very far from agreeing with the opinions of most people : not moderate."]
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uninvolved_1
Many pro-lifers will join many pro-choicers in saying that no one should be compelled to donate blood for any reason (though it is a harmless procedure), and that no one's body parts should be used even after they are dead (though that would also be a harmless procedure) if they have not given advance permission.
That wouldn't be extreme positions. Pro-lifers share these beliefs with pro-choicers but the difference is that pro-choicers think these thing are morally parallel to abortion. If an extremist argument were defined as an argument that conflicts with correct moral intuitions, then an extremist argument would necessarily be false/invalid.
No. That doesn't follow at all. You're conflating the truth of the matter with how we come to know the truth of the matter. You're conflating truth and knowledge.
If an argument appeals to an extreme intuition (an intuition most people do not hold), then it doesn't follow that it's false and it certain doesn't follow that it's invalid. It's just not a very useful argument to make. If you and a small group of people are the only people that have the intuition which the argument appeals to then it's a useless argument. However, you may be right. You and that small group of people may be the only people constituted such that you can see the truth of this moral fact.
It's like if someone were born with some sixth sense and can see a fact about the world we cannot see. It would be useless for them to appeal to their observations using that sixth sense to justify the existence of whatever it is they perceive with that sixth sense. It would only serve as a justification for their own belief because only they are directly acquainted. However, the fact they are the only people that can see this fact about nature may serve as reason to doubt if that thing they perceive is actually a fact about the world.
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acyutananda
Thanks for bringing to light a problem in my comment. I have now edited the comment. Please see the edits and see if the comment is now coherent, and whether you agree with it.
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uninvolved_1
Yes. I'm pretty sure "extreme" meant by Tim is that it's a position not very many people would hold, i.e. out of the norm.
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acyutananda
Thanks.
I wrote --
"If an extremist argument were defined as an argument that
conflicts with correct moral intuitions, then an extremist argument
would necessarily be false/invalid"
-- and you replied in part --
"If an argument appeals to an extreme intuition (an
intuition most people do not hold), then it doesn't follow that it's
false and it certain doesn't follow that it's invalid."
I agree. My above sentence did not say otherwise, and in fact the first sentence of my whole post had been ". . . an extremist argument isn't necessarily invalid . . ." (And by the way, the only point of my above sentence was to eliminate one possible meaning of "extremist" from among the possible meanings Timothy Brahm might have intended.)
It's very late where I am, and I will try to understand your other points in the morning. But if the above clarification changes how you would have written anything else in your post, of course it would help if you would make your changes in the meantime.
And I still sincerely intend to get back to our previous discussion, but recently it's been just one thing after another for me.
Did you check out "Bodily Rights and a Better Idea" (the link)?
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uninvolved_1
I misread you then. I didn't see the "correct intuition" part.
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Crystal
I'd like to start this by saying I agree with the premise of this article (that if you hold an extremist view but don't take it to its logical conclusion then we're being inconsistent); well done, as usual! I wonder, did any of you read The Everlasting Man by G.K.Chesterton? Because he talks about inconsistent thinking in that book too.
"If thousands of comfortable pro-choice people have to choose between the extremism that their arguments demand and the voices of their consciences, then many of them will become pro-life."
I am curious as to how you know this? This strategy IS risky!
Furthermore, I think the bodily autonomy argument is indeed designed NOT to leave exceptions. The woman has the right to take life - PERIOD.
Personally, I need to think more about this. Do you think the approach of not touching this due to its being too dicey is wrong? I know something needs to be done but I don't want to drive people further into extremist viewpoints on this matter (and by extremist I mean pro the practice). Furthermore I appreciate the morality that would lead them to question the practice being done in second-third trimester, that is good that they feel that way but as the old saying goes "the good is the enemy of the best". Not that their view is good, and you get the point I hope. While it is inconsistent I would rather they believed that than accepted all abortions as morally valid. I am curious as to their standard of judgement though, that dictates that abortion is unacceptable in these standards. They say "it looks like a person" but - sentience and sapience. It's still in the woman's body!!!!
Furthermore, I would like to point out as well that they accuse us of imposing our will on women, but aren't they doing the same by holding this position, by saying "Not okay after such-and-such a point"? What about these people, are they somehow permitted to do this now? Although I will say, they have a point - vast majority of abortions done in the first trimester.
The arguments I have seen tend to say, abortion exceptions are acceptable when the unborn person can feel pain and has reasonable brainwaves to determine sentience and sapience; therefore its rights need to be acknowledged at that point, as well as the woman's. How is this to be answered, if the pro-legal abortion person believes in sentience and sapience as the defining rule for ALL humanity? Also take into account that the woman still is carrying it inside her, and her bodily autonomy is being violated by such a restriction - a restriction, I might add, held as a viewpoint by the vast majority of pro-legal abortion people. In other words, they are pro the "choice" when the child feels nothing, is aware of nothing, and looks like nothing at all.
"The only reasonable way to justify a pro-choice position with exceptions is to argue that the unborn is not a human person early in pregnancy but becomes a person later in pregnancy. I’m not saying that’s a good position, but it can at least be logically consistent."
Indeed, that is correct.
"Pro-life people can make extremist arguments too. For instance, if a pacifist pro-life person said, “Abortion is wrong because it is always wrong to take any human life,” then that person would be forced to oppose even killing in self-defense or defense of others. That would be an extremist argument because it necessitates an extremist view."
Oops, you got me there. I've said that myself. Would it be consistent to say, "Abortion is wrong because it is always wrong to take any INNOCENT human life"? Then I might get - but the woman is innocent, let's define innocence, and the unborn person is an intruder in the woman's body which needs to be destroyed so hardly innocent (I find this argument as morally problematic as the responsibility argument though I hold more sympathy with certain elements of the responsibility argument than this one!). What is a reasonable alternative to stating the idea that it is wrong to take unborn persons lives without giving ground on self-defence, war, and capital punishment for serial killers including Hitler?
"Similarly, saying that unborn babies have a right to live does not necessarily lead to a conclusion like, “Women should be second-class citizens.” It can be logically consistent to believe one without believing the other."
Unfortunately, it can tend to. Although this is a correct statement I've seen quite a bit of "women are objects" thinking floating around the place, in some cases because they're using PL for the wrong reason (although sometimes it can be an unintentional result of being traditional PL but at the same time I also think you can be traditional PL and not believe this in your heart). They're not using PL to save the babies but oppress the women and if abortion suited them they would use it too.
I agree that abortion = bodily autonomy is a serious issue, though not the only one. Recommendation to answer = technology and science. It's the best way, bodily autonomy shown respect while babies live. Two downsides to that - that alone won't answer abortion crisis, as we also need a more supportive society of women in general and pregnant women in particular too, to make this work. Also it doesn't answer the question, if our machines break down and we're back where we are then what will people believe about abortion?
Respectful disagreement - I believe squirrels are persons - in a way - BECAUSE I'm prolife. I'll explain.
I hold two potential views that I'm tossing around in my mind at the moment on the question, not dogmatic on either one or the other. View One - In this opinion I think that you can't really separate the persons = humans when it comes to humanity because the unborn are persons. Our personhood is not defined by our ability simply to feel pain and be wise but by our belonging to the races of feeling pain and being wise, as scientifically defined by the Homo sapiens and such like. However when it comes to animals I think that personhood as defining humanity does not apply to them. Personhood as defining the ability to feel pain and be wise does. So I believe there are two types of personhood. (However I can see this view is potentially problematic and I might reject it).
View Two - But even if I didn't believe they are persons, I would believe they have rights as living species. Since we are all tied together in the great thread of life and express ourselves as living creatures we do have a right to live. Also take into account that we tend to use animals as a benchmark to treat people, in this sense - if it's okay to do that to the animals then it's okay to do that to people (I'm talking of a less advanced understanding here, that permitted people to do horrible things to others because they believed them to be animals). We shouldn't have that attitude. Although I tend to have issues with view one, including the idea that you have to be perceived as a "person" to be treated with any dignity whatsoever (I don't think that; I think that the fact you are alive and walking on the earth affords you dignity whether you are a human being or a giant cockroach; it is for this reason I generally reject insecticides except for self-defence, etc).
I hope you don't mind the rough sketch here, I'm still developing my opinion on this and I might add more as I shape it. I'm pantheistically inclined, as I believe that God is a person (Christianity) and a life force (alternative spirituality); as Emerson said, we are all part of the universal eye and our lives weave together in an intricate path of unity with nature and animals and plants. The earth is mother, and church; I am her child. So - with that in mind, as a PL person I don't see how it can be possibly consistent to call yourself prolife and eat meat. If we're really willing to live up to what we believe then no more steaks, I'm serious.
Am I less grown-up somehow because I believe this? Most of my life I grew up on a farm, with a lot of animals, death and life in a perpetual cycle. So I know whereof I speak.
Last but not least, if we call ourselves PROLIFE but we mean it to be anti-abortion aren't we being inconsistent logically? I mean prolife means FOR ALL LIFE if you examine the suffixes and prefixes carefully. Pro = for, life = life. So, by that simple definition, in order to be logically consistent and intellectually honest about our position, would it not be more truthful to call ourselves anti-abortion?
Please forgive the meanderings, I have not been on the Internet for a while and am taking a break from it. Also if I think of anything else I'll be happy to write it up. Thanks for all you do, Josh and Tim.
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CynthiaJD
Sorry, forgot my point on how focusing on law and aggressive "counseling" can actually prevent work that would reduce abortions.
There are two ways of reducing the abortion rates that have actually been shown to be effective. You can reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancies, and research had shown that offering free access to long-term reversible methods (like Mirena IUD or birth control implants) helps, as does comprehensive sex education. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/06/science/colorados-push-against-teenage-pregnancies-is-a-startling-success.html and http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/spring-fever/
You can also offer support to those who are pregnant, so that they will be more willing to continue the pregnancy. I know of two Israeli organizations that do this, and they have thousands of success stories. These organizations don't lobby for changes to laws, and they don't picket or "counsel" women in front of clinics. They simply get referrals from social workers who deal with women seeking abortions. If a woman's reasons for seeking an abortion are largely practical (financial, physical difficulties), they will arrange for baby gear, financial support, vocational training, and I even saw a case where they had volunteers provide care for a woman and her toddler when she was put on bedrest. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/151950 and http://www.jta.org/2014/02/25/news-opinion/politics/in-israels-abortion-debate-pro-choice-seems-to-be-the-only-choice
Those programs work because there is trust and cooperation with social workers who help women seeking abortions. In the United States, I know of women who volunteered in abortion clinics who felt horrible when patients said that they felt financial pressure to abort, but there is no trust that a Crisis Pregnancy Centre won't use extreme tactics or that they will actually deliver promised help.
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Crystal
Hi Cynthia, I appreciate that you came here to discuss this with me. I'm going to try to respond to at least some of your comments, as time allows.
You said, "Crystal - the problem is that activists who loudly claim to defend
fertilized eggs tend to believe that IUDs "kill" fertilized eggs. Mirena IUDs work fine, and are highly effective. They likely prevent conception, by thickening cervical mucus and inhibiting sperm, but they also thin the lining of the uterus. To some people, thinning the lining of a uterus so that any potential fertilized egg doesn't have a place to implant = murdering a child. Of course, thinning lining of uterus also = no more heavy periods leading to anemia without the need for surgery."
My response:
Yes, I can see the dilemma there. But if they do prevent implantation as prolifers claim (and are intentionally designed to do such) then I'd like to see Christian Religious Right prolifers put their money where their mouths are and see if they can do a better job. I've mentioned this issue of replacement (meaning if you take something away from someone you replace it with something better - it is a philosophy I strongly hold to) many times and I can't understand why the PL movement hasn't adopted it as a strategy wholesale especially if they believe what they claim about the newly conceived lives.
You mentioned the IUDs also decrease heavy periods that lead to anemia, which is a good thing. People really need to weigh the pros and cons of these issues, separate the truth from the lies, and campaign for improvements if they are needed (I tend to think they are).
While I believe in not taking things that prevent implantation (yes I believe life begins at conception), I'm also willing to consider the intentions behind anything preventing implantation (like decreasing menstrual problems) and have a discussion on it, because I think it's important to think through these issues.
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CynthiaJD
Thinning the lining of the uterus is a feature, not a bug, with the Mirena. Any attempt to legally ban Mirena or pills that contain progesterone will mean that the best and safest treatments for some significant medical conditions are no longer available. Other treatments also frequently make someone permanently infertile.
If someone has issues with fertilized eggs not having a place to implant - well, the answer would be for that person to take additional steps to ensure that there are no fertilized eggs. The Mirena itself works in several ways, and some of those ways prevent fertilization. If sperm can't get through thicker cervical mucous, then it doesn't matter if the uterine lining is too thin to permit implantation. If someone is still concerned, they could use condoms and/or spermicide during sex.
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Crystal
When I say "I mean ones that don't prevent implantation" I'm talking about the beliefs of those who wish to ban contraception, not necessarily my own.
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