Well at least this is a clear statement on abortion

No doubt it\’s a serious matter that some abortion clinics are said to be flouting the law and getting consent forms pre-signed by doctors. Well, technically anyway. It\’s the law that\’s wrong, of course. It pretends there has to be some sort of medical reason why a woman would want an abortion, a medical reason that not one but two doctors have to recognise as causing a threat to the woman seeking to end her pregnancy. In reality, in the vast majority of cases, the procedure is medical but the decision is personal – social or economic. Often, a woman\’s bank manager is in a better position to confirm she would benefit from a termination than is a doctor she\’s never met. Often, the father of the child is. Yet, it\’s perfectly clear that a demand for such clearance would be a sinister attack on an adult woman\’s right to make her own choices about her life. Everyone knows that the whole two-doctors deal is an absurd formality – a giant, insulting nod to those who don\’t \”believe in\” abortion at all. This is a procedural sop that panders only to them. Their determination to use it as a stick to beat abortion providers with is simply one more reason why this paternalistic and meaningless little bureaucratic hoop needs to be terminated forthwith.

There\’s a problem with it though.

The usual revelation: yes, I know that my views on abortion are very much out of the mainstream.

However, I really do not believe that everyone but me (for liberal reasons) and a few others (for religious reasons) really does believe that abortion on demand for economic or social reasons is in fact the clear and obviously correct position to take.

I agree that there\’s at least a substantial minority who do: but I\’m unconvinced that it\’s even a majority who do.

Indeed, that\’s exactly why the various Abortion Acts over the years have been written in the way they have. Because even those politicos who do believe in the entirely unfettered right to scoop out and dump don\’t believe that everyone else believes this. Which is why they\’ve clouded it with medical reasons so as to gain that majority support.

I cannot prove this but I do have a feeling that if the law really reflected \”what everyone believes\” (or perhaps the average of what all believe) then we\’d have a system that, roughly, allowed on demand abortion up to 8 or 10 weeks, something like that, much much stricter controls than we currently have on 10-22 weeks.

But as I say, the very fact that the law is currently bound up in these \”medical\” reasons seems to me proof that even ardent advocates don\’t think that the rest of the country entirely agrees with their position.

21 comments on “Well at least this is a clear statement on abortion

  1. It would be interesting to see a national survey with the question “At what week of gestation should abortion on demand be available until” (or something like that, I’ve been in the sun most of today so not braining very well). I’d love to see a population distribution chart of that.

  2. Why the scare quotes on ‘medical’?

    It is an objective fact that carrying to term is at least an order of magnitude more dangerous than an early term abortion (that’s true up until around 15 weeks). And that is considering only risk of death.

    In light of that, what possible justification could there be to force a woman to carry to term if at 10 weeks she says she is not willing to do so?

    Libertarians are supposed to be opposed to involuntary servitude, aren’t they?

    Indeed, even if it were safer for her, the justification for force would be far from obvious. We do not, for example, mandate blood or bone marrow donations, and as far as I know not even the ‘pro life’ suggest we should. Yet such donations demonstrably save the lives of walking talking children, whose legal personhood is an objective fact and in no way controversial.

    Tim adds: “In light of that, what possible justification could there be to force a woman to carry to term if at 10 weeks she says she is not willing to do so?

    Libertarians are supposed to be opposed to involuntary servitude, aren’t they?”

    We’ve had this argument many a time around here and you can trawl through the archives if you want to.

    The basic libertarian/classical liberal argument is that people have rights just because they’re people. My argument (and one which I consistently point out I realise that very few share) is that a foetus is a person with rights. We are therefore in the area where rights of individuals conflict and we face the usual tricky problem of whose rights prevail in what circumstances.

    My basic view is that you’re allowed to kill another person in immediate self defence or in the course of a Just War. Ectopic pregnancy? Immediate self defence, hoick it out. I don’t want one allied with that 4.67 in 100,000 risk of maternity to term? As against the certain death of another person? Sorry, suck it up.

  3. Tim,

    “4.67 in 100,000 risk of maternity to term? As against the certain death of another person? Sorry, suck it up.”

    Can I impose similar impositions on you to prevent otherwise certain deaths of (walking talking) children?

    If so please cancel your appointments for the next 9 months and report for duty tomorrow.

    Don’t worry – there is only a small chance you will die, though other complications are pretty likely. It will probably hurt like buggery too. Oh, and bring your cheque book.

  4. “It would be interesting to see a national survey with the question “At what week of gestation should abortion on demand be available until” …”

    Well, no. First ask if abortion on demand is what we should allow. Quibble over the dates after you’ve got that answer.

  5. JuliaM: If you agree that anyone should be able to get the oral contraception pill, you already support abortion on demand within the first 24 hours.

  6. Matthew L:

    “Frank O’Dwyer: Parental liver transplants fit into that category even better.”

    Thanks – I must admit I was unaware there was even such a thing. What an astonishing procedure. You’re right, it’s analogous in many respects.

    “If you agree that anyone should be able to get the oral contraception pill, you already support abortion on demand within the first 24 hours.”

    Indeed (though the phrase ‘abortion on demand’ is rather silly, suggesting that the women involved are children themselves, petulantly stamping their feet).

    Women don’t need to explain why they want an early term abortion ‘on demand’, any more than the ‘pro life’ need to explain why they are allowed to ‘demand’ a bag of sweets or a DVD rental when the opportunity cost of THEIR liberty is the deaths of hundreds of thousands (mostly children). And they cannot even offer a medical excuse for it.

  7. Frank O’Dwyer – “In light of that, what possible justification could there be to force a woman to carry to term if at 10 weeks she says she is not willing to do so?”

    No one is forcing anyone to do anything. The suggestion is simply to prevent someone doing something. Women are not forced to carry to term. They might be prohibited from having a doctor remove their foetus. There is a rather large difference.

    “Libertarians are supposed to be opposed to involuntary servitude, aren’t they?”

    Hardly involuntary servitude.

    “We do not, for example, mandate blood or bone marrow donations, and as far as I know not even the ‘pro life’ suggest we should.”

    Yet. But that is different. A donation requires a positive action by someone to do something. As does an abortion. Denying someone either is simply preventing an action. Different.

  8. Safe abortion requires a positive action, but you can get rid of a baby by (for example) not giving up your pint of gin a night habit. Your argument is pure sophistry.

  9. SMFS:

    “Women are not forced to carry to term. They might be prohibited from having a doctor remove their foetus. There is a rather large difference.”

    It seems about as large as the difference between false imprisonment and being prevented from leaving the building.

    If you’re not forcing her to carry to term tell me one or two other things you’d allow her to choose to do instead.

  10. So pregnancy now is voluntary servitude, nice labelling Frank.

    And your arguments are sophistry, at what point does a foetus become a person with rights ? Surely that is a question that needs answering. At birth, assisted birth, when it becomes potentially viable externally ? I personally doubt that you can enforce a test of “independently viable” as that would make it quite legitimate to kill newborns, and even the most extreme abortion fanatics rarely support that. Which is odd because morally there is no real difference. So, tell us, do you support infanticide? After all, looking after a child is just another form of enforced servitude, to use your expression, is it not ?

  11. Frank O’Dwyer – “It seems about as large as the difference between false imprisonment and being prevented from leaving the building.”

    No it isn’t. I can’t honestly claim you are in some way preventing me from having a holiday in Barbados because you won’t let me take all the money out of your wallet. If you decline to buy my a ticket, you are not forcing me to stay where I am. That is not involuntary servitude either. By definition refusing to allow someone to leave the building is false imprisonment. What you mean is that refusing to allow someone to stay at the Ritz for free is the same as banning them from staying at the Ritz.

    “If you’re not forcing her to carry to term tell me one or two other things you’d allow her to choose to do instead.”

    Let mature take its course. If a miscarriage takes place, it takes place. She won’t carry to term.

  12. I tend to take what I think is Tim’s position – it’s a person with rights, from conception. However, I would add one further thought to the question of the resultant conflict of rights.

    The “pro choice” side of this argument seems to forget exactly how women end up pregnant.
    Let’s leave the popular red herring of rape out of it for the second – 99.9% of abortions are of children conceived during consequential activity.

    Now, as I see it, if you voluntarily indulge in an activity that leaves someone dependent on you for life support for the next 9 months, then I’d treat that as a entering a contractual obligation to provide that support.
    If you don’t want to risk entering into that sort of contract, then perhaps one should think a bit more before jumping into bed.

  13. Bally spell chuckers… that should have read “consensual” not “consequential” halfway through that last post if fat fingers here hadn’t clicked the wrong button.

  14. Ed Snack:

    “So pregnancy now is [in]voluntary servitude, nice labelling Frank.”

    I didn’t say that pregnancy was involuntary servitude. Picking cotton isn’t involuntary servitude either.

    The clue is in the word ‘involuntary’. We know that a woman seeking an abortion doesn’t want to be pregnant because she can and does say so, so the involuntary aspect is clear enough in that case.

    And I am certain that if somebody required you to do everything that pregnancy and childbirth entails, you’d consider it servitude.

    “And your arguments are sophistry, at what point does a foetus become a person with rights ? Surely that is a question that needs answering.”

    That question has had an answer for hundreds of years if not millenia: birth.

    Not that a different answer would make a blind bit of difference. If the fetus were a stockbroker with three children and a mortgage it still would not have the right to commandeer someone else’s body and cause them harm.

    “I personally doubt that you can enforce a test of “independently viable” as that would make it quite legitimate to kill newborns, and even the most extreme abortion fanatics rarely support that. Which is odd because morally there is no real difference. ”

    Of course there is a moral difference. Abortion is about the right to end a pregnancy, not a right to kill. You cannot end a pregnancy which is already over, and if a pregnancy can be immediately ended with a live birth without any significant risk to the mother, there is no justification for doing anything else. A fetus already has this legal protection, too – you don’t have to be a person to have legal protections.

    SMFS:

    “By definition refusing to allow someone to leave the building is false imprisonment.”

    And by definition refusing to allow someone to end their pregnancy is forcing them to continue it.

    At least have some honesty about what you demand.

  15. I think that libertarians looking at abortion regularly adopt the wrong rights paradigm.

    The woman’s uterus is, undeniably, her property. Self-ownership is a basic precept of libertarianism.

    For the sake of the argument, let’s accept that the foetus is a person from at least implantation. That’s not actually my position, but I think there’s a strong libertarian argument that you’re missing.

    Given that the foetus is a person, then, if unwanted, it’s trespassing. The woman has a right to evict it.

    Note that the woman has an consequent obligation to try not to kill the foetus in the process; I would certainly accept a view that late-term abortions should be performed by c-section or induced labour with an attempt to preserve the foetal life, rather than intact dilation and extraction.

    Early abortions – when you’re talking about mifepristone (RU-486) – then there’s no current medical technique that gives such an early embryo a chance. If an artificial uterine substitute were ever developed, then obviously that would be preferable.

  16. “Given that the foetus is a person, then, if unwanted, it’s trespassing. The woman has a right to evict it.”

    Right. So if I invite someone onto my boat and then turn against them, I have the right to throw them into the sea. They are trespassing after all.

    Or is it your argument that the foetus stole into the woman’s womb in the dead of night?

  17. Frank O’Dwyer,

    “So pregnancy now is [in]voluntary servitude, nice labelling Frank.”

    You’ve taken Ed’s deliberate use of voluntary, changed it to involuntary and then railed against what he didn’t say. Read his message again without assuming any typos.

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