June 18, 2013

I propose a new abortion regulation.

At the end of this post.

61 comments:

KLDAVIS said...

"I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not kill a human being."

I'm pretty sure that was the click-through agreement required to enter one of the suicide booths on Futurama.

Jay said...

Timely thought Ann, per this by Penelope Trunk

I scheduled the abortion like I was on autopilot. I told my boyfriend at the last minute and told him not to come with me.

He said forget it. He's coming with me.

I remember staring at the wall. Telling myself to stop thinking of anything.

The doctor asked me, “Do you understand what's going to happen?”

I said yes. That's all I remember.


Penelope got ot two abortions to preserve her career. To keep her options open. To keep heraspirations within reach.

Isn't that nice?

Ann Althouse said...

It is like the questions asked in medical ethics before withdrawing life support or harvesting organs.

m stone said...

add: "We are all gods."

Carl said...

Precisely backward. Your statement should read:

I understand the procedure to which I am about to submit not only myself, but the developing creature inside me. I understand I am terminating a life.

Because you are. We do not yet live in the utopia where it is possible to never weigh the relative values of lives, and never choose that some must die in order that others can live, or prosper, or not be crippled. That's why we still have war, and capital punishment, and the Second Amendment, and armed police, and "living wills" and organ donation networks and more besides.

But the unique feature of every other case in which we make this profoundly difficult moral choice is that we acknowledge up front that we are making that choice: that someone is going to die. We are pulling the plug on Grandma, who is in a PVS, we are donating the organ of dear Julian, who is brain damaged beyond the hope of recovery, we are going to disconnect the respirator from the baby, who will never be able to breathe on her own, I am going to shoot this guy breaking into my home high on meth, and aim right at his heart, and so forth.

Abortion is almost unique in the cult of denying the obvious, of pretending you are doing something other than what you're doing. It's moral cowardice of the first rank. We frown on soldiers dehumanizing those they shoot -- Hey! Just potted another gook/Jap/towelhead, man! See him jump, ha ha? We would be appalled by cops who boasted of how many gangbangers they'd plugged, carving a notch on the gun handle for each. We expect people when they must exercise a power of life and death to acknowledge the seriousness of the decision, and fully feel its weight of responsibility. We believe that the very language in which they frame the decision indicates how serious they take it. The same moral calculus should cover abortion.

I mean, unless of course the girls just can't handle it, the little darlings, who think with their uteruses and need to get a man to kill a spider in the tub.

But then they sure ought not to be serving in combat (or Congress), either.

You're ending a life. Don't bullshit around that responsibility. Accept it. And make your case that it is a necessary death, if you can. That isn't impossible. It's a recognized aspect of life in this vale o' tears. But there is no reason pregnant women should be exempted from it just because we pity them, or they pity themselves.

Ann Althouse said...

@Jay Right, I think we mostly hear of women basing the decision on their own needs and life plan. There's an ideal of the woman controlling her reproductive life, planning and choosing each pregnancy, that it's her time line that is the topic of reflection.

But that's not what Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey talk about.

And it's also what Obama probably meant when he said that's "above my pay grade." When is the fetus a person? That's a question to be answered by the right person: the woman within whose body the pregnancy is occurring.

She's presumed to be evaluating the question is scientific/philosophic/religious terms. That is why the state can't impose its answer to the question of when the fetus is a person: It's her judgment that rules.

But we've lost track of whether she is making that decision and we've come to think of the decision as simply the decision whether she wants to continue with this pregnancy.

bagoh20 said...

It's not wise to break up a single topic into 3 different threads. It's like trying to have a conversation while your cell phone is cutting out.

Ann Althouse said...

"It's not wise to break up a single topic into 3 different threads."

True. I should have blocked comments on this thread.

Really the discussion of the proposal and the case law and so forth belongs in the thread this post links to.

I did this post to ensure that something got noticed.

Ann Althouse said...

The original post on the mockery has some different content and the comments are up over 200, which means they are on a page that some people find hard to get to.

Jay said...

Ann,

I'd suggest Obama punted on that question because abortion is too complex for someone in his situation.

First, he's a man, and he isn't supposed to limit the woman's "choices"

Secondly, abortion for the college educated white, single, good liberal woman is for a "career" and "options" Not so for the young black woman who has to worry about important stuff like food and shelter.

Finally, as you say, the feminist narrative sounds nice, but mainly isn't true so Barry took the easiest way out.

edutcher said...

"I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not kill a human being."

The only good Indian is a dead Indian.

Nits make lice.

History has a million of them.

And, no, I'm not being sarcastic.

Rabel said...

You're adding an abortion restriction that is outside of current law. A pregnant woman can fully believe that the fetus is a human being and still legally have the abortion.

Is this really so different from posting pictures of aborted fetuses on the path to the clinic. How could a woman accurately reflect on the nature of the procedure if she does not know the physical nature of the fetus?

But I have to give credit, it is an intereting enough proposal to draw me into an abortion thread - which I usually avoid like an unborn baby avoids a vacuum hose.

Salamandyr said...

Carl's response needs to be frontpaged.

Jane said...

You know, too often the pro-life side gets accused by the abortion-rights crowd of really, deep down, being motivated by the desire to keep women pregnant and subservient. In other words, attitudes about sex drive attitudes about abortion.

The reality is that, for many on the abortion-rights side, this is exactly true. "It is my right to have sex without any undesired consequences" drives the right to abortion.

Ultimately this means that the bottom line becomes "I don't care whether the unborn child inside of me is a human being, is living, has moral worth, etc." By definition, the unborn child cannot have moral worth because to acknowledge that would take away the right (legal and moral) to have sex without unwanted consequences.

Paul Zrimsek said...

"The state can't impose its answer to the question of when the fetus is a person" and "It's her judgment that rules" are two ways of saying the same thing. The second can't be the "why" for the first.

Bob Ellison said...

It's a challenging concept. "I have reflected...and I attest..."

Rather like the difference between types of murder, and the idea that a criminal who repents is better than one who has not. A deposition proves innocence of conscience?

I don't think women, in the aggregate, are nearly as empathetic as we want them to be. In the aggregate, women are as selfish as feminists imagine men to be.

Methadras said...

Here's an idea for an abortion regulation that I've never heard anyone else discuss, but which occurred to me as I've read and reread the Supreme Court cases. A woman seeking an abortion must sign a statement: I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not kill a human being.

Isn't that convenient in breaking the moral code of murder? A persons reflection on what they deem as killing a human being as opposed to murdering a human being are two separate things. Not to mention that one cannot simply sign to a contract that infringes on the rights of another being, much less without their knowledge, consent, or understanding.

Methadras said...

KLDAVIS said...

"I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not kill a human being."

I'm pretty sure that was the click-through agreement required to enter one of the suicide booths on Futurama.


I thought the same thing, except in the South Park motif.

Ann Althouse said...

"You're adding an abortion restriction that is outside of current law. A pregnant woman can fully believe that the fetus is a human being and still legally have the abortion."

We've come to assume that is true. But I read the cases over and over, year after year, and I do not see how we got from them to that assumption.

I don't think this point has been focused on, and I've never seen a regulation that forces it to be looked at the way I am proposing that it could

I don't know if I would support this law. It is simply a thought experiment. Please push past the assumption that we know this law would be unconstitutional. Let's get back to basics and try to understand why or why not.

Baron Zemo said...

How about before every abortion you have them hold a baby in their arms.

And have them sign a form that says they are fine with killing their baby.

If they sign on you can give them a T-shirt.

Methadras said...

Again, I will go back and say that the fact that we have discussions like this as a function of law means that we as a society have lost our moral compass. We all know what the right thing is, yet we deliberate its intrinsic legal footing. Abhorrence in the face of legality. It's disgusting, repugnant, and rapacious.

Jay said...

Maybe we can get George Zimmerman, he acted in self defense after all, to sign a similar statement, back date it, and then call off his trial then?

Ann Althouse said...

"Rather like the difference between types of murder, and the idea that a criminal who repents is better than one who has not. A deposition proves innocence of conscience?"

No, it's more like a killing where the person who did the act lacks the mental state, such as where he shot at an what looked like a dangerous attacker and made a mistake.

Meade said...

"If they sign on you can give them a T-shirt."

I had an abortion and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.

Meade said...

with undifferentiated cells on it.

Revenant said...

Restricting a medical procedure to only those people who have a certain set of moral beliefs strikes me as both silly and constitutionally questionable.

Also, of all the women who could be forbidden from having abortions, why pick "women who openly admit they're fine with infanticide"? I don't see a lot of good coming from THAT pool of children...

Lem said...

Good proposal Althouse, but my immediate impression is that the opposition would turn it down and would fight it in court.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

Ann Althouse said...

"Good proposal Althouse, but my immediate impression is that the opposition would turn it down and would fight it in court."

I think the fight would be enlightening.

Lem said...

In Miranda you are informed of your rights because you are being detained. That would Not be the case with an abortion.

I got nothing.

Bob Ellison said...

Ann Althouse said "No, it's more like a killing where the person who did the act lacks the mental state, such as where he shot at an what looked like a dangerous attacker and made a mistake."

The obvious pro-life retort is "so the fetus is a dangerous attacker?" But even "the person who did the act" is not an obvious criminal here. Who did the act? Who made the mistake? Was a mistake made?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I like it. The woman who is about to undergo abortion should have reflected on what is actually going to happen. By signing your statement "I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not kill a human being." the woman will have had to at least reflect a small bit. Whether she lies or not is another issue. But. The concept that the baby growing inside her body IS another human being must be considered. She is allowed to dismiss the concept. But in your scenario, she must at least think about it.

Lem said...

I think the fight would be enlightening.

Not that there is anything wrong with that?

Rabel said...

"Let's get back to basics and try to understand why or why not."

OK. There is no why or why not because the question "Is a fetus a living human being?" does not have an absolute answer. Rather like the hypothetical cat, it both is and isn't. The government has given us a compromise based around an arbitrary decision point. The split in the electorate makes changing the essentials of that compromise unlikely. So we suffer with it even if our faith or sense of morality or individual freedom tells us it's wrong.

heyboom said...

If they believe it is not a human being, then what? A turnip?

Methadras said...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I like it. The woman who is about to undergo abortion should have reflected on what is actually going to happen. By signing your statement "I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not kill a human being." the woman will have had to at least reflect a small bit. Whether she lies or not is another issue. But. The concept that the baby growing inside her body IS another human being must be considered. She is allowed to dismiss the concept. But in your scenario, she must at least think about it.


So it requires this statement to come to the conclusion that you aren't killing a human being? As if at any other time before that, this thought never occurred?

Cody Family said...

Ann said:
"She's presumed to be evaluating the question is scientific/philosophic/religious terms. That is why the state can't impose its answer to the question of when the fetus is a person: It's her judgment that rules. "

Are there other places in law where the value of a life is determined by the one who gets to make the decision as to whether it should live?

My response to the age old argument that an abortion is between a woman and her doctor is: Well then, why is a killing not simply a matter between the person wanting to kill and the hit man they hire to do it. Whether the target is a person is up to the killer who has a rather vested and selfish interest is the determination of personhood. The state cannot impose its own answer to that question.

Are we really that insane? Aren't all moral questions of this importance determined by society and not the one person who most benefits from the determination?

ken in sc said...

If you like flys, you'll love maggots. Let them kill their spawn.
They know better than we do what they would become.

Saint Croix said...

When is the fetus a person?

I see you're retreating to the Latin again, Althouse. Fetus is the Latin word for baby. You know that, right?

If you're going to play god, you might as well go whole hog.

When is a baby a person?

A lot of people might say "birth," but at least the use of the baby word upsets the mind and opens the door to the possibility that the person asking the question is willing to dehumanize (and kill) babies.

I suppose there are some doctors who can get away with saying "fetus." (The same sort of doctors who say "gravida" when talking about a pregnant woman). But it's jarring for anybody else to do it. It's like reading "Negro" in Brown v. Board. You realize the person using the weird language has issues. Fetus is like that, a pseudo-scientific word that's both a mechanism for bigotry and an attempt to hide it.

Saint Croix said...

The Supreme Court, of course, only uses the word "fetus," because they are committed to dehumanizing babies.

In the Carhart cases, which involve a baby halfway outside the birth canal, this should have led to the farcical use of the baby/fetus term.

She's half-fetus, half-baby!

n.n said...

So, when does a human life acquire value, and under what criteria does that value persist?

Saint Croix said...

So, when does a human life acquire value, and under what criteria does that value persist?

I hate, hate, hate putting it in these terms.

I prefer to ask this question:

when do people die?

And I think we should apply that answer to the abortion question to help resolve it.

Saint Croix said...

"value" suggests that a baby is property.

The idea that some people are more valuable than others is particularly reprehensible in the life/death context.

One of the objections to Obamacare is that the socialists will start doing this same sort of analysis at the end of life as they are doing at the beginning of life. That is to say, you have no right to life. The state will determine your value. And maybe you get to live and maybe you don't.

jr565 said...

Ann Althouse wrote:
And it's also what Obama probably meant when he said that's "above my pay grade." When is the fetus a person? That's a question to be answered by the right person: the woman within whose body the pregnancy is occurring.

Yet what about late term abortions and third trimester abortions? Even Roe v. Wade makes distintions about killing viable babies.
Should a woman be able to say a fetus is not a person even if it's viable?

n.n said...

Saint Croix:

It is confining, isn't it? It forces a comprehensive assessment of human life, which can then be reconciled and distinguished from legitimate and pretentious arguments and actions. It exposes the motivations and intent of its participants, which is sometimes practical, but often nearsighted.

The establishment of strict criteria for death is useful to establish criteria for its dual, life. However, this is a legal utility, and evolution from conception does not have a corresponding process following death. At least none that we are aware of.

Anyway, as individual dignity is a philosophical concept, so too is the value of an individual human life, and the legitimacy of each is defined by the other. Any discussion of this issue (as with Althouse's statement) must consider and present the facts as we know them. Any compromise must recognize and acknowledge the facts as we know them.

That said, the normalization of abortion as a choice reflects a cultural corruption, which cannot be resolved through coercion. People must know the consequences of their actions and accept responsibility accordingly. This is not only necessary to preserve the value of an individual human life, but it is also a prerequisite for the survivors to enjoy optimal liberty.

n.n said...

Saint Croix:

An objective assessment and a consistent statement would declare that a human life acquires value at conception and maintains it throughout its evolution until death. A reasonable compromise would terminate its development before it acquire consciousness, which may be reasonably correlated with emergence of its "brain".

As for the correlation between "value" and "property", that is a materialistic perspective which exists apart from individual dignity and is context-oriented. In absolute terms, a human life has value independent of its context and is exclusively granted by virtue of its dignity.

Bob_R said...

This is why lawyers should be forced to go back to speaking latin. If you are going to screw with a language it might as well be dead. "Human being" has a perfectly good scientific meaning and any living organism with 23 pairs of the right kind of chromosomes fits. Of course, a fetus (all stages) and a brain dead human fit. That doesn't end the discussion, but you can't start the discussion without acknowledging the facts. The purpose of your statement is to hide a complex moral decision in a soft, sloppy, imprecise (in fact, incorrect) sentence. Of course, that's waht lawyers get paid for.

Revenant said...

"value" suggests that a baby is property.

English speakers use the term "value" to refer to both monetary and subjective or metaphysical worth.

Ronald Reagan, for example, was fond of describing the abortion debate as being about "the value of human life".

Revenant said...

"Human being" has a perfectly good scientific meaning and any living organism with 23 pairs of the right kind of chromosomes fits.

By that definition you aren't a human being; you're a colony of lots of human beings.

jr565 said...

SHould a man who kills kicks his wife in the stomach until she miscarries be able to make the statement "I have reflected on the nature of the actions I commited and I attest to my sincere belief that I did not kill a human being" and only be charged with assault?
What if she was going to abort anyway?
Should we charge people differently depending on whether they force a woman (by kicking her in the stomach) to miscarry who was going to have the baby versus a woman who was going to have an abortion next week?

If she was going to have an abortion then the baby wasn't alive therefore, assault. IF she was going to have the baby then the baby was alive and therefore it's murder? That seems to be an awfully problematic standard. Not only when it comes to the equal treatment of people before law.
But more importantly, why is the mothers subjective interpretation something that overrides objective fact?

Quaestor said...

KLDAVIS wrote:
I'm pretty sure that was the click-through agreement required to enter one of the suicide booths on Futurama.

I had to re-visit that Futurama meme on YouTube. "Stop-n-Drop, America's favorite suicide booth since 2008" The date is significant, no?

The Godfather said...

Hitler could sincerely have signed a statement that his Final Solution to the Jewish Question did not kill any human beings. So what?

Quaestor said...

It is like the questions asked in medical ethics before withdrawing life support or harvesting organs.

Yes, it is. Boilerplate.

jr565 said...

Or, what if the guy beats the woman and kicks her in the stomach and in addition to forcing a miscarriage he knocks her into a coma.
And what if she hasnt' yet stated where she stands on whether her baby is either alive or not alive. How does society judge the man for the forced miscarriage absent her opinion about whether the baby is actually alive or not?

Quaestor said...

jr565 wrote
[Why] is the mother's subjective interpretation something that overrides objective fact?

The forbidden question, an honest answer to which would expose Roe v. Wade as a cruel and savage farce -- the worst jurisprudence since the Dred Scott decision.

jr565 said...

Ann Althouse said "No, it's more like a killing where the person who did the act lacks the mental state, such as where he shot at an what looked like a dangerous attacker and made a mistake."

So wait, the default position is that abortion is killing or murder, but the person making the decision is stupid or in insane or lacks the capacity to make a moral decision.
Why then are we leaving it to the woman if she can't actually make the decision based on reason?
And how many pro choicers are going to go along with the fact that they are choosing badly? That yes they are murderers, they are just too stupid to think otherwise? What about pro choicers who don't think they are making a mistake when they abort their kid?

Quayle said...

Another possible variation, "I have reflected on the nature of the act I am about to perform, and I attest to my sincere belief that the baby I will leave in the women's room trash bin is not a human being."

jr565 said...

"No, it's more like a killing where the person who did the act lacks the mental state, such as where he shot at an what looked like a dangerous attacker and made a mistake."

Objective reality would say that, but subjective reality would say that the person she shot at was dangerous and that there was no mistake. How convenient if we could all make reality subjective when it comes to killing someone.

It's like the last scene in Last Tango in Paris where the woman shoots Marlon Brando after he professes his love for her and then practices her "he was a sranger who raped me" speech for the police.
Her subjective reality doesn't negate the fact that we all know she killed Paul in cold blood, objectively.
If she signed a paper that said it was her sincere belief that she killed a rapist stranger, would we, the audience somehow not know that in fact she is a liar?
Why do women think that having a uterus entitles them to lie about nature and reality and that we should simply adopt her subjective reality because she says so.


Quayle said...

On what rational basis are we required to bar society from deciding the question of when a human life starts, and give that determination to the subjective beliefs of a woman?

And is that basis any more rational than granting a woman the right to subjectively state that she doesn't agree with societies determinations on the wrongfulness of homicide or of the criminal penalties for such.

Bob Ellison said...

The default position is that abortion is A-OK at any point, OK? It's up to the pregnant woman to decide what to do with the fetus.

Mr. D said...

What am I signing, Radar?

C Stanley said...

No, it's more like a killing where the person who did the act lacks the mental state, such as where he shot at an what looked like a dangerous attacker and made a mistake.

Wait, so the analogy here is that women facing unplanned and unwanted pregnancies lack the mental state but we have determined that they are the best and only ones who can make the decision? Sounds to me like an argument why the opposite should be true.