It is an interesting point, isn’t it?

Alot of people with a lot of power don’t see why women should have jurisdiction over their own bodies. That’s the anti-abortion argument in a nutshell, in that they claim a foetus, or even an embryo, or in some cases even a fertilised egg too small for the human eye to see, has rights that supersede those of the person inside whose body that egg, embryo or foetus might be.

And the thing is, it’s the argument in a nutshell. Even, everyone has already agreed that this is the point. At some point in that Sorites Problem the rights of the foetus do trump those of the host. That’s why full term abortion is not allowed. Or, in extreme jursidictions, why full term abortion of a non-disabled foetus is not allowed.

Good, so we all agree on the basic framework then. At some point between conception and birth – unless you’re Peter Singer – the rights of the foetus do trump those of the host. At some other point, well, maybe they do and maybe they don’t.

Cool so the whole abortion debate boils down to the one simple question to ask: When?

12 thoughts on “It is an interesting point, isn’t it?”

  1. Since setting an arbitrary point in time between conception and birth doesn’t stop the Sorites Problem being a problem, the point needs to be set using other aspects. It could be society decides what it’s comfortable with, it could be a set of medical conditions that need to be satisfied, it could be the state of the existing family, the mental state of the parents, whether the state can bring up the child, adoption for the unwanted child, compensation for the mother, or a combination of these and any other aspects. We also have to consider that it’s natural for abortions to occur, we just call them miscarriages to try and differentiate them and to split people into pro and anti groups.

    Basically there is no easy answer.

  2. Doesn’t the law still say with a doctor’s signoff (or is it two doctors) and in the interest of the health of the mother/person of pregnancy? And is not that law so widely disregarded as to be forgotten? Well, that’s what difference tweaking the law would make.

  3. I’d make one small tweak to Tim’s point – at some point the right of the fetus/baby not to be killed trump the right of the woman not to be inconvenienced. In fairness I’d use a stronger word than inconvenienced, just haven’t thought of the right one.

    But there comes a point in a pregnancy – very close to full term for example – where it seems especially reasonable to say “no, you can’t kill the baby to avoid one more week of pregnancy”.

  4. The vaccine point is the big one: there’s no need to weigh two interests as there is with abortion.

    It’s an activity that does nothing measurable to protect anyone but the vaccinee. Therefore it is simply wrong to make it compulsory, at least for people fit to judge their own interests.

    As for children, I do wonder that the state doesn’t feel that it should protect the mites from the pig-headed stupidity of parents who want to force vaccination on them. Like other matters of children’s interests there’s plenty of room for debate.

  5. My personal solution to the sorites problem would be the point at which there’s a better than 50% chance that the foetus would (absent intervention) develop into a normal human baby. So sometime between implantation and the end of the first trimester (95%+ of all miscarriages will have taken place by then).

  6. Even, everyone has already agreed that this is the point.

    Actually no. Not everyone agrees on this. I mean, sane, rational, people do agree that the sticking point is where that line is drawn. Unfortunately people aren’t sane any more and you really do have a significant number of people upset that a court would get involved because a mother let her child starve to death – its a woman’s right, after all.

    Sadly, even the obviously insane get a seat at the table and a vote.

  7. Keep in mind that in the US, all states have a “Safe Haven” law where a mom can drop off her unwanted baby without having him murdered before hand & no consequences to her.

  8. I see it as property rights. If you can evict someone from your home, you can evict them from your body. If there’s a way to do it without killing them, use that. If there isn’t, well, tough biscuits.

  9. @tex
    That would assume the ladies in question don’t consider the nine months of pregnacy + the vagaries of giving birth, of which a fair part equates to practical invalidity and dependency on others, a massive economic burden. For which they can’t compensate, because the male cause in the matter that could provide and compensate has generally already pissed off somewhere..
    And that’s even before the social aspects and the fact that you generally can’t hide a pregnancy, and certainly can’t hide the lack of successful result…

  10. “…..don’t see why women should have jurisdiction over their own bodies.”

    They do.

    To get pregnant, you actually have to ‘choose’ to do something. It doesn’t just happen to you.

    They don’t want jurisdiction over their own bodies: they want to avoid the known potential consequences of having chosen to have sex. All the fun and no bill.

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