Monday, August 10, 2009

Question: Are Women "Animals" Without Rights?

In response to the vicious and insulting lyrics of the Sex Pistols song quoted earlier, I am re-posting the following September 18, 2008 commentary by Nick Provenzano from Rule of Reason. This is not in reference to the issue of funding under the Obama health care proposal, to which I remain opposed. It is a response to the songwriter to whom a woman was just "a no one", a "body", and an "animal", while a fetus was portrayed as a fully conscious being singing "mummy, I'm not an animal".

From The Rule of Reason

The Fundamental Right to Abortion

Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 12:28 PM

[A] woman has the unqualified moral right to abort a fetus she carries inside her in accordance with her own judgment.

What is the basis for this claim? What facts of reality demand that a woman enjoy the freedom to exercise her discretion in such a manner? At root, it is the simple fact that until the fetus is born and exists as a separate, physically independent human entity, the fetus is potential life and the actual life of the woman grants her interests and wishes primacy. As an acorn is not the same thing as an oak tree, a fetus is not the same thing as an independent human being. In the case of the fetus, its location matters: inside the woman and attached to her via the umbilical cord, its position in relation to the woman subordinates its status to her wishes; outside the woman, welcome to life in the human race.

But why is biological independence the defining factor of personhood in both morality and under the law? Why isn't it the moment of conception, or the first instance of fetal heartbeat, or the first instance of fetal brain wave activity (just to name a few of the benchmarks often put forward by anti-abortion activists)? Again, it is the nature of the direct physical connection between the fetus and the mother. Physically attached to a woman in the manner a fetus is, the woman's right to regulate the processes of her own body is controlling. Unattached and physically independent, the fetus is thus transformed; it is a person no different from anyone else and enjoys all the individual rights of personhood.

Needless, to say, this truth offends the sensibilities of some. They cannot fathom that something like the physical presence of the fetus inside a woman grants a woman power to control it as she controls the affairs of her own body. In a more just world, such people would simply choose not to have abortions, which is their every right. And leave it at that. Yet justice is not the aim of the anti-abortion mob. They simply seek to sacrifice unwilling women upon their altar of the unborn, reducing a woman to a mere birthing vessel the second a fetus exists in her body.

Let us not forget that raising a child is a tremendous commitment. As a life created by its parents, parents owe the children they bring into the world what they need in order to be independent and self-sufficient human beings, to include food, shelter, clothing, and an education. Not every person can measure up to this commitment and not every person wants to. While her fetus in her womb, a woman has every right to reject this obligation. Contrary to the claims of the anti-abortionists, a child should be a choice.


I also see that the many of the objections to my position center upon my framing the issue in the terms of a cost-benefit analysis, as if some choices are somehow exempt from this kind of review. The absurdity of such a claim should be manifest; a nervous groom on his weeding day is performing a cost-benefit analysis, a person standing before the fridge contemplating a midnight snack as they look at their waistline is performing a cost-benefit analysis, and like it or not, a woman confronted with the terrible choice between giving birth to a child with Down's syndrome and having an abortion is performing a cost-benefit analysis. As an advocate for individual liberty, I defend the freedom of each to perform their own analysis and act upon their own good judgment.

So yes, a woman has the absolute right to choose to have an abortion, including the right to abort a fetus diagnosed with physical handicap. It is not "eugenics" for a woman to choose as much; the choice to abort is the woman's alone and there is no element of coercion or a racial master plan. Nor is it some form of "euthanasia" to have an abortion, the fetus not being the same as a physically independent human being. The claims that I or any other Objectivists support eugenics or involuntary euthanasia are utterly dishonest; they are lies told to advance the vicious agenda of those who seek to deny half of our species their legitimate and fundamental freedom.

Freedom is a peculiar thing. It is the recognition that each person is sovereign over their own lives. It is the recognition that a person has the liberty to make choices that you might not make because their choices concern their own life and not yours. It is the recognition that you do not have the right to coerce another against their will. That a person does not have the right coerce the process of a woman's womb against her will ought to be academic. That it is not is testament to the irrationality and ignorance of our times.


Pastorius said...

Yes, woman are human beings with rights.

I am not an anti-abortion absolutist.

However, I know women who have had 3 and 4 abortions.

The chances of a woman's birth control failing 3-4 times is beyond conceivability. Therefore, I conclude those women use abortion as a means of birth control. I'm guessing they are conflicted over whether they want to have children or not. They're hormones tell them yes, but their practicality tells them no.

What do you think?

Pastorius said...

By the way, while I am not an anti-abortion absolutist, I also believe a "fetus" is not just tissue. A fetus is a human life. Whether it has the same ability to think, or not.

Women who want to have babies call the products of their conception "a baby growing in my womb." Women who do not want to have babies call the products of their conception "fetus" or "tissue".

I don't buy it.

revereridesagain said...

My answer is in the article I posted. I'm not about to start parsing "fetus" or "tissue" with you. Either you believe a woman has the right to control her own body or you don't. And either you agree with that filth spouted by Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols or you don't. Are you absolutist about a woman being "human life" or does that change if you get her pregnant?

Pastorius said...

No, it changes if she has a habit of getting pregnant, which I believe comes out of a conflict between the natural impulses of a human being, and the practical reality of living in our modern world.

I do not call such a woman a murderer, but I do call her a liar, if she says that what is growing in her is merely a piece of tissue, rather than a human life.

You are so used to arguing in the traditional paradigm that I believe you are not hearing what I'm saying.

Pastorius said...

By the way, speaking of not communicating from the same paradigms, I looked up an interview in which Lydon (Johnny Rotten) discusses his song Bodies:

Interviewer: When I hear the Sex Pistols' Bodies ["Bodies! ...Screaming fucking bloody mess! It's not an animal! It's an abortion!"] it sounds like you have a horror, a fear of female bodies.

Lydon: No. Quite the opposite. No, no. Early on I had an acceptance of what life really is. We lived in two rooms and we had an outdoor toilet. My mum had a miscarriage. And this isn't against my mum, but - this could have been a brother or a sister for me to play with and I had to flush it down the toilet. I mean, that strikes you. And that's like an abortion. I'm not anti- or pro-abortion. Every woman should have the choice when they face it. But that was a grim Steptoe & Son world. My mum was heartbroken. And if you construe that as being anti-abortion, then you're a silly cu... sausage.

So, there you go, Lydon didn't mean it as an anti-abortion song.

However, he did mean it as a song which implied, as it did, that that "body" is more than tissue.

Once again, I do not throw the word murderer around. In fact, the only thing the Bible has to say on the subject, specifically (to my knowledge), is that if a woman loses her child through an accidental blow to the stomach from another man, then he is to pay a certain amount of money (or other transaction) as a way of making it up to the husband and wife.

RRA, you and I and others here have been having this same argument for several years now. I think you have to understand that we are not quite what you think. We are not rabid, fundamentalist anti-abortionists. If we were such, we probably would not have invited you to contribute. (And, you are free to contribute as much pro-abortion material as you want.)

I see us as allies.

And, in this case, I am bringing the subject up in the context of Obamacare, which I believe is an abortion of the sanctity of human life on the altar of bureaucracy.

Pastorius said...

It is duly noted that RRA has never responded to my comments.

Anonymous said...

That a person does not have the right coerce the process of a woman's womb against her will ought to be academic.

This sounds like Judith Jarvis Thomson's A Defense of Abortion. If a baby was born into an environment in which there was no replacement available for its mothers' breastmilk, and it would either breastfeed, or starve to death, would the baby have a right to the use of her breasts, against her will? Would requiring her to breastfeed amount to reducing her to a mere milking vessel?

Oh, and Pastorious - I wouldn't hold your breath. I'm not.

Pastorius said...

If I would have held my breath, I'd be dead by now, you know, like an aborted "piece of tissue."