Well, yes Jessica

If you had any doubt that that Republicans were taking their cues on women’s health from The Handmaid’s Tale, consider Oklahoma representative Justin Humphrey, who said this week that women are not individual people once they get pregnant, just “hosts”.

Humphrey, who just proposed a bill requiring women seeking abortions to get written permission from their sexual partner, told a reporter at the Intercept that while he understands that women “feel like that is their body”, they are mistaken to think of themselves as autonomous human beings.

“What I call them is, you’re a ‘host’ … I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.”

The upside is at least they’ve dispensed with any subtext.

The subtext being that this is a Sorites Problem.

For in a mammalian species the female is indeed the host. Sure, 20 minutes after fertilisation it would be very extreme indeed to say “host!” and host only. 270 days later it would be equally extreme to claim that there wasn’t something very hostlike about this situation. Just as with the development of the child itself, it’s a process with no clear dividing lines other than conception and birth (or termination, of course).

No, this isn’t to say that I support this specific law (although I’ve always had a very soft spot for the argument that as the male will be forced to pay for 21 years for a live birth then said male should indeed have some say in whether there is a live birth or not) but the basic concept of “host”, the thing you’re complaining about, isn’t an outrageous one at all.

Anti-choice legislation – from clinic restrictions to waiting periods – all come from the same ideology that trumps the potential life of a fetus over a woman’s right to autonomy, health and sometimes life.

And isn’t that an interesting argument? Because pretty much everyone agrees that at some point in our Sorites progression that it does. But when?

55 comments on “Well, yes Jessica

  1. The male made his choice the moment he stuck it in her without protection, from that moment on all the womans bodily choices are hers.

  2. Humphrey, who just proposed a bill requiring women seeking abortions to get written permission from their sexual partner

    I think this is fair enough if said partner is going to have to foot the bill if she keeps the kid. Either the partner is involved or he is not; the current situation where a partner has no say in a termination but is legally obliged to cough up should she keep it is absurd.

  3. “The male made his choice the moment he stuck it in her without protection”

    Such a unilateral choice, as you describe it, I’m afraid, is called Rape; not sex. For the rest of us this description meaningless.

    “from that moment on all the womans bodily choices are hers.”

    Great, let’s crowd-source an offer to any woman -and only a woman- who is prepared to have her hand surgically removed. And let’s ask BobRocket and Jessica Valenti for an article in the Guardian approving the transaction.

  4. The Overton Window on abortion is more inelastic than on other issues, mainly due to men not really wanting to touch it with a ten foot bargepole, but even that may start to move.

    The Left are stumbling around like a dazed person who has woken up in the middle of an air raid.

  5. “I think this is fair enough if said partner is going to have to foot the bill if she keeps the kid.”

    The moment that the man can take over the physical responsibilities of pregnancy and childbirth I’ll agree with you on that.

  6. “The moment that the man can take over the physical responsibilities of pregnancy and childbirth I’ll agree with you on that.”

    Why is that relevant? No-one is saying that the man should be able to force the woman to have the child against her wish to have an abortion, rather that if she chooses to have the child, and the man disagrees with that decision, then he’s free from paying for it. So her choice is still entirely hers, it just comes with more financial implications if she can’t get the father to agree to keep the child and pay for it. Still entirely her choice though, not his.

    Women would be considerably more careful who they procreated with, and what precautions they took, if getting pregnant was no longer a meal ticket for 18 years.

  7. Ironman,

    if he didn’t want the risk of her getting pregnant then he could have kept it in his trousers, that he made a free decision not to do so makes him liable for supporting any subsequent progeny.
    Just because she said she was horny and wanted him didn’t mean he had to do it any more than if she had asked him to put his hand in a meat grinder.

  8. Sorry, a few formal hoops and sanity checks before terminating a life has nothing to do with the zero-consent, breed-em-or-dump-em dystopia of the Handmaid’s Tale.

    I raise you a 1984 and Brave New World, Jessica. If we can lambast government for being vaguely on the spectrum of some extreme pathology described in a novel, it’s easy to denounce all govt actions as being on the slippery slope to totalitarianism. So let’s not have any govt, because logic.

  9. As far as I’m concerned a woman has the right to do whatever she wants with her own body. Until a viable child is born it is a part of her body and if she wants to chop bits off she can.

    Once a viable child is born then all the parties responsible for its creation share responsibility for its upkeep.

    Rather than being a Republican, Humphrey sounds like one of those Leftist control freaks that wants to legislate every part of a private individuals life.

  10. Ironman – “Such a unilateral choice, as you describe it, I’m afraid, is called Rape; not sex. For the rest of us this description meaningless.”

    Really? So what if the woman reassured him that she was on the Pill. And she wasn’t. Did she rape him? That was a unilateral choice too. What if he was 12 years old and so unable to make an adult decision?

    BobRocket – “if he didn’t want the risk of her getting pregnant then he could have kept it in his trousers, that he made a free decision not to do so makes him liable for supporting any subsequent progeny.”

    Even if he was 12? Even if they engaged in oral sex and she saved it for later? Boris Becker is still paying for that. Even if the crazed ex-wife stole his sperm from a sperm bank and fraudulently inseminated herself years after the divorce? Men have been made to pay in all those circumstances.

    “Just because she said she was horny and wanted him didn’t mean he had to do it any more than if she had asked him to put his hand in a meat grinder.”

    I like how the Left is so far out there they have joined hands with the Catholic Right. So every sexual act is an act of procreation is it? No one is allowed to have sex for any other purpose? Every man should not have sex without the possibility of conception? In the real world, people have sex for fun. Usually they do not intend to have children. Why should men be unilaterally held to have an obligation from this?

    BobRocket – “Once a viable child is born then all the parties responsible for its creation share responsibility for its upkeep.”

    Why? If a man has not made a conscious choice to be a parent, why should he be forced to be a parent?

  11. “Host” is correct; but I would take issue with “women are not individual people”.

    Checking the original source though, he didn’t actually say that.

  12. I’ve never been able to make my mind up on the abortion issue.

    I agree that there are only two clear lines – conception and birth. Then there is a grey one about viability (and I would not necessarily say that grey lines are somehow philosophically inferior to clear ones)

    It really is a rare area where the basic assumptions of moral philosophies get tested, and I find it fascinating that we clearly don’t all share the same ones.

  13. SMFS,

    if it was rape then the perpetrator takes responsibility.

    for all your other scenarios the ‘victim’ was negligent to a degree and his responsibility should be proportionate.
    If you don’t want to breed, keep a hold of your seed (or at least make sure it is non-viable, spermicidal condoms are available).

    If people want to do things for fun that is up to them, they should be responsible for their actions.

  14. ‘Because pretty much everyone agrees that at some point in our Sorites progression that it does. But when?’

    Indeed. Even the Great Gamecock can’t solve it.

    Liberty is freedom from arbitrary or despotic government. Setting abortion limits, like it’s okay in the first trimester, is arbitrary. There is nothing about day 85 that is any different than day 95, though there clearly are differences between day 5 and day 265.

    It is right that government establish limits, but those limits will be arbitrary. Government forced to be arbitrary.

  15. ‘Anti-choice legislation – from clinic restrictions to waiting periods – all come from the same ideology that trumps the potential life of a fetus over a woman’s right to autonomy, health and sometimes life.’

    False dichotomy.

  16. I draw the line at birth. Nobody but the woman, call her a host or not, has the right to decide what is done or not done to her body (bar clear mental impairment rendering her incapable of deciding). Re: male responsibility, then he probably has a right to be consulted (barring rapists, and even they might have the right to be told), but unless he can prove he was somehow deliberately tricked (and I’d set the bar pretty high here), then he shares financial responsibility. It is his choice where and when and with whom he releases his genetic material. Clearly I don’t believe in souls, or the concept of unborn foetuses having any human rights at all. If it needs a host then it isn’t a human, it is a part of the host with human potential. Yet. If I did believe in those things, then I’d clearly think differently (get “quite irate”, even… ;-)). Pretty soon we’ll be able to create babies from cheek swabs – I’m not going to call spitting or swallowing murder just because the bundles of cells killed COULD become human.

  17. “Re: male responsibility, then he probably has a right to be consulted (barring rapists, and even they might have the right to be told), but unless he can prove he was somehow deliberately tricked (and I’d set the bar pretty high here), then he shares financial responsibility. It is his choice where and when and with whom he releases his genetic material.”

    Hang on where the sexual equality in all this? Man and woman decide to get it on. Both parties can consent to that, if either doesn’t it doesn’t happen. Both consent to allowing their genetic material to potentially create life. Pregnancy results. Woman can decide whether to abort or keep, man can’t. Total inequality based purely on gender. And its no good saying ‘But biology!’ because that doesn’t fly elsewhere in the equality argument – one can’t specify employment for male only hod carriers for example, thats gender bias. Despite biology specifying that hod carrying is going to be a male pursuit.

    So we have an inequality. Women can decide what happens to the foetus, men have no say. We can’t do much about this, other than to legislate to force women to have children they don’t want, which seems a step too far. However we can level the playing field a bit by saying that men are only responsible for children they agree to pay for. Then a woman still has the choice to abort or not, her body her choice. But there are consequences to her, for her actions, as she chose the man with whom she procreated. If she chose badly, he may say Sayonara! and leave her facing either paying for the child herself, or aborting.

  18. Yes, all of this is couched in terms of what the woman wants. But what if a couple decide to have a child, she gets pregnant and then changes her mind, while the man still wants it? Should she be allowed to abort the pregnancy without any input from the man? That’s as inequitable as being forced to have an abortion because he doesn’t want it.

  19. Child support is about the child, not the mother. That’s why “financial abortion” is a non starter.

  20. ‘Child support is about the child, not the mother.’

    Spoken by a man who has never paid child support.

  21. Bob Grahame
    February 15, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    I draw the line at birth.

    ===============================

    Hells bells, why not 16 years old?

  22. How do the Left object vociferously to the idea that a woman might have some responsibility for her child before it’s born, but then once it is born they claim that all taxpayers are responsible for it?

    (I know this isn’t a purely left-right issue, but the dichotomy seems more extreme on the left)

  23. Jim,

    it’s got sod all to do with equality and everything to do with personal freedom and the responsibility to deal with the outcomes of those freedoms.

    If a man decides to have unprotected sex with a woman, the possible outcomes are

    1. no fertilisation
    2. fertilisation and miscarry
    3. fertilisation and abortion
    4. fertilisation and live birth

    He knows this before they have sex.

    Unless he has a signed contract prior to coitus that sets out what will happen in any eventuality then he has given the authority to decide on 3 and 4 (because she has to carry it) to his partner and must abide by that decision.

  24. BobRocket

    “If a man decides to have unprotected sex with a woman”

    “Unless he has a signed contract”

    Back in the real world of an alcohol induced Saturday night encounter (or various other scenarios)?

  25. Unless he has a signed contract prior to coitus that sets out what will happen in any eventuality then he has given the authority to decide on 3 and 4 (because she has to carry it) to his partner and must abide by that decision.

    But Jim isn’t arguing against this. If I understand his point correctly, it’s that the outcomes include:

    3. fertilisation and abortion
    4a. fertilisation and live birth – and child maintenance
    4b. fertilisation and live birth – and no child maintenance, and no rights over the child either

    The man decides ‘a’ or ‘b’; the woman decides ‘3’ or ‘4’, taking the man’s choice into account if she wishes.

  26. BiW,

    if they agree beforehand then they can choose any conditions they like however he cannot arbitrarily decide on b after sex has taken place.

    The sexual act is confirmation of a standard contractual obligation that both parties freely enter into, if either party wants to vary that contract then that variation must be agreed to by both parties prior to confirmation.

  27. The sexual act is confirmation of a standard contractual obligation that both parties freely enter into, if either party wants to vary that contract then that variation must be agreed to by both parties prior to confirmation.

    That’s certainly the way the SJWs want it to happen. In the real world, making sex contractual is prostitution.

    In the old days, of course, the marriage contract held a presumption of sex, and both men and women gained divorces because it was withheld. Obviously, that went in 1991.

  28. Forget all that contract talk:

    A (future) mother cannot contract away her child’s rights vis a vis the father’s future responsibility to said child.

  29. “it’s got sod all to do with equality and everything to do with personal freedom and the responsibility to deal with the outcomes of those freedoms.”

    Quite. And a man has the personal freedom to sod off and not pay a penny towards the upkeep of his child. Thats the biological reality. Only the law (which is a social construct) makes him pay. Similarly the women has the biological reality of having the foetus inside her. Only the law could make her keep it if she chose to abort it, or indeed only the law could make her abort it despite her wanting to keep it.

    Thus we have two biological realities – the man can fuck off if he chooses, and the woman carries the baby. We can’t make the man carry the baby, and the woman can’t fuck off and have the baby. Thus they are on entirely different biological tracks with different decisions to make. If the woman is free to choose on her biological track (abort or keep), the man should be free to do the same on his (fuck off or pay).

    Simple.

  30. Also if men are required step up to provide for the children they have fathered, then so should women be likewise required – ie abortion shouldn’t be available. Then everyone is on the same page: having sex = potential consequences for man and woman, different ones of course, but both parties get them if pregnancy ensues. Abortion gives women an out from the consequences of their procreation that is not available to men.

  31. “The male made his choice the moment he stuck it in her without protection, from that moment on all the womans bodily choices are hers.”

    Nope. All the woman’s bodily choices are hers including whether or not she permits a male to have unprotected sex with her.

    The male made his choice to ejaculate inside her without protection…and that’s the extent of his responsibility. If a pregnancy comes about it’s entirely, and solely, the responsibility of the woman who (as you say) is completely in control of her bodily choices at every stage (barring some ridiculous Fritzl situation).

    Compared to the male, the woman makes several distinct choices:

    A) Choosing to have sex in the first place
    B) Choosing to have sex without protection
    C) Choosing NOT to take the morning after pill “oops I ‘forgot’ – now you’re my slave regardless of whether you want a child or not teehee!”
    D) Choosing NOT to take any later term abortifacient
    E) Choosing NOT to have an abortion which (Despite the law) is available on demand in almost all Western countries
    F) Choosing NOT to give the child up for adoption

    Women want to get pregnant and keep the baby against the will of the father? Fine, but they should have absolutely no right to get their hooks into an unwilling father legally or financially. It’s time for women to start accepting some personal responsibility for their actions.

    Single mothers in the UK – unless they’re widows – deserve absolutely no pity or respect as their situation is entirely self inflicted.

  32. Single mothers in the UK – unless they’re widows – deserve absolutely no pity or respect as their situation is entirely self inflicted.

    While I agree with much of what you said, this is simplifying too much.

    There are many young women whose supposedly loving partner disappeared, not the moment she became pregnant, in which case there are (unattractive to many) options, but when either the sex dried up or the screaming, shitting, vomiting monster from heck arrived.

    Personally, I went on a three month work trip to Chile …

  33. Elkanahaon, as SE a rather over-simplification of the matter. My friend and her partner were having a baby, attended all the classes, bought all the gear, went to the 20 week scan, all fine and dandy until he walked out at 30 weeks.

    What’s she meant to do, abort a viable foetus she is fully emotionally invested in? That’s beyond brutal.

    I do think though there should be some method of obligatory DNA testing to even things up just a fraction.

    “This is Louisiana, chief! I mean, how do you know who your daddy is? Because your mama told you so?”

  34. One day the anti abortion side in America will find it’s John Brown and the fight will be on.

    It will be very nasty.

  35. Elkanahon again, Another girl I know, fat bird, went to bed one night with stomach ache, woke up a couple of hours later in agony and within five minutes there was a healthy newborn lying at the bottom of the bed.

    How do you legislate for that? If both parties willingly engaged in sex and neither of them made an active choice to keep the baby then they must both be responsible for it.

  36. Surreptitious Evil – “There are many young women whose supposedly loving partner disappeared, not the moment she became pregnant, in which case there are (unattractive to many) options, but when either the sex dried up or the screaming, shitting, vomiting monster from heck arrived.”

    I disagree. They had a choice of men. They chose poorly. Supposedly loving partners do not disappear. Bad boys do. If she is looking for commitment, she ought to think about what sort of boys she should be sleeping with. If she gets knocked up by some low-life, I don’t see how it is my problem or why I should pay.

    magnusw – “What’s she meant to do, abort a viable foetus she is fully emotionally invested in? That’s beyond brutal.”

    Indeed. A poor situation to be in. But we need to know more about why the partner walked out.

    “I do think though there should be some method of obligatory DNA testing to even things up just a fraction.”

    Why? I think there is an easier method. Get the boy to make some sort of public commitment that he will raise a particular woman’s children. If he has not made such a commitment, he is not obligated to do so. If he has, he is. Simple. We could even call that a marriage ceremony.

    magnusw – “If both parties willingly engaged in sex and neither of them made an active choice to keep the baby then they must both be responsible for it.”

    Why? How about neither? The responsibility starts from the birth. She can keep it in which case it is hers. He can agree to be the father in which case it is theirs. Or she can give it up in which case it is neithers.

  37. BobRocket – “if it was rape then the perpetrator takes responsibility.”

    Except if a child of 12 is raped by a woman, he can expect to pay child support for 18 years. Well, for whichever of those years he has an income. The law does not make the perpetrator take responsibility. As long as the victim is a boy, the boy does.

    “for all your other scenarios the ‘victim’ was negligent to a degree and his responsibility should be proportionate.
    If you don’t want to breed, keep a hold of your seed (or at least make sure it is non-viable, spermicidal condoms are available).”

    How precisely is someone responsible for their ex-wife fraudulently obtaining his sperm from a sperm bank and using it to inseminate herself without his knowledge?

    “If people want to do things for fun that is up to them, they should be responsible for their actions.”

    Again, I love the way that SJWs have met the Catholics – every sexual act must be procreative. Agreeing to oral sex is not agreeing to be a father. If someone uses a condom and the girl fishes it out of the trash, they have not agreed to be a father.

    And there is no reason to punish them as if they have.

    Gamecock – “It is right that government establish limits, but those limits will be arbitrary. Government forced to be arbitrary.”

    Alive and human from the moment of conception is not arbitrary. Nor is abortion up to the moment of birth. The government is gutless in that it does not want to bite the bullet and choose one. Instead it pretends to modify the former in favour of a woman’s life but secretly allows the latter.

    BobRocket – “if they agree beforehand then they can choose any conditions they like however he cannot arbitrarily decide on b after sex has taken place.”

    Why not? She can change her mind at any time. Why not him?

    “The sexual act is confirmation of a standard contractual obligation that both parties freely enter into, if either party wants to vary that contract then that variation must be agreed to by both parties prior to confirmation.”

    Except you have justified punishing a man even when no sexual act took place. Suppose someone’s room mate went dumpster diving for the condom. The law says the man must pay. We will get to the point – as someone else has said – when a skin scrape will enable a woman to have Leonardo Di Caprio’s child. As the law stands he must pay.

    People like sex. People do it all the time. The Catholics say that there ought to be a possibility of conception. It is odd to hear the Left insist that every man needs to accept that before ever having sex.

  38. I disagree.

    This is hardly a surprise.

    They had a choice of men. They chose poorly.

    Indeed. With 20/20 hindsight. But we, male or female, don’t necessarily get a lot of training and experience in those sort of choices. In fact, I seem to recall you fulminously denigrating the methodology of those women who try to get a degree of experience in partner choice.

    Supposedly loving partners do not disappear.

    You do know what “supposedly” means in that context? You certainly haven’t reacted as if you do. Some (most?) blokes are really quite charming, even persuasive, when they see the chance of a ready supply of bonking.

    But, anyway, reality disagrees with you. I’m aware of a number of perfectly nice ladies and girls (as well as a smaller number of utter bitches) who have been left holding one or more kids.

    Exactly what that means in terms of the moral responsibility of the sperm donor to fork out for the kids for the next xx years is a different calculation – and is much more dependent on the specific individual context (unlike the legal responsibility – rightly or wrongly – and, imho, often wrongly) from within the amorphous mass of dire ickiness that is human relationships.

  39. “The male made his choice the moment he stuck it in her without protection”

    It’s clearly a lie that a man makes a choice in becoming a legal parent, or that the courts currently give a toss about his choices. Using protection doesn’t always work (and is no defence anyway), having sex is not required, even consent is not required.

    In fact there is little short of suicide that will allow a man to opt out of being a legal parent, and it seems that even that is not effective against a financial claim.

  40. If I have a big bag of smack and I give some to someone and they die it is my responsibility.

    If someone finds it and ODs, it is my responsibility.

    If someone steals it and ODs it is my responsibility.

    It’s my big bag of smack and I am responsible for all the consequences of my possession of it.

    It is exactly the same with my spunk and impregnation.

  41. “If I have a big bag of smack and I give some to someone and they die it is my responsibility.”

    A perfect analogy if you think that being in possession of male genitals is illegal, that being born is not only an injury but also demands punishment of an individual that had zero involvement with it (note: having sex is not giving birth), that having sex(*) is a crime in need of a deterrent, and that women are infants with no agency of their own.

    (*) again, having sex not a requirement.

    “If someone steals it and ODs it is my responsibility.”

    And not even true. Stuff like that is stolen from pharmacies and hospitals all the time.

  42. ‘And not even true. Stuff like that is stolen from pharmacies and hospitals all the time.’

    references to an accidental OD from stolen pharmacueticals required.

    She is responsible for her eggs, she could have removed the risks by keeping her legs closed or reduced them by other actions.

    They both knew the risks before they acted and are jointly and severally liable for any conceptions.

  43. “She is responsible for her eggs, she could have removed the risks by keeping her legs closed or reduced them by other actions.

    They both knew the risks before they acted and are jointly and severally liable for any conceptions.”

    Absolutely correct IF there is no abortion or adoption is allowed. Both people are equally and jointly responsible for their genetic material and what they have jointly created.

    But currently the woman has an out, or rather several outs AFTER conception. She can take a morning after pill, she can abort up to the legal time limit, she can put the child up for adoption once born. All of which absolve her entirely of any financial (or otherwise) responsibility for the child. Why should men not have a similar ability to absolve themselves of their genetic responsibilities? Or is this just another case of ‘Men are always responsible, come what may, but women can do as they please without any comebacks whatsoever’?

  44. “They both knew the risks before they acted and are jointly and severally liable for any conceptions”

    Then you owe me £500,000, payable to me in monthly installments over the next 18 years. After all, the Internet is full of financial scams, and you knew the risks when you connected.

    Shall you make the arrangements to have it docked from your wages, or shall I?

  45. ‘But currently the woman has an out, or rather several outs AFTER conception. She can take a morning after pill, she can abort up to the legal time limit, she can put the child up for adoption once born. All of which absolve her entirely of any financial (or otherwise) responsibility for the child.’

    She took all of those things into account when she decided to open her legs.

    He should have taken those same things into account before he opened his flies.

    Whether the balance is correct is a different issue, as things stand all parties know what they are getting into when they decide to do the deed and should act accordingly.

  46. I hope you haven’t started to spend the money yet Frank, you are aware of the risks of not being paid aren’t you ?

  47. “Whether the balance is correct is a different issue, as things stand all parties know what they are getting into when they decide to do the deed and should act accordingly.”

    We are not discussing what a man should do given the current situation, we are discussing whether the current situation is fair to both parties or not. Of course given the current legal situation any man having sex needs to take extreme caution as to the potential outcomes. What is at issue is whether a man should have to take all those precautions when a woman doesn’t have to do similarly prior to sex.

  48. “Alive and human from the moment of conception is not arbitrary. Nor is abortion up to the moment of birth. The government is gutless in that it does not want to bite the bullet and choose one. Instead it pretends to modify the former in favour of a woman’s life but secretly allows the latter.”

    You describe a government position of no abortion or unrestricted abortion. That would certainly remove the arbitrariness. Good luck selling either.

  49. BobRocket,

    ‘you are aware of the risks of not being paid aren’t you ?’

    Certainly, hence the precaution of docking your income before you spend it.

    Otherwise you may be tempted to avoid your responsibilities. After all here you are, leaving yourself open to invoices from all and sundry when you could have avoided it all by keeping your computers legs closed, as it were.

    Pay up.

  50. ‘…just “hosts”.

    The problem is the word ‘just’…. implication being, sole role to fulfil a function then expendable.

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