Of course it’s a fucking feminist issue

October 4, 2012

Timmy has put up something very silly about abortion this morning. Here’s my response from the comments:

Of course it’s a fucking feminist issue, Tim. If the Government forced you to have someone clamped to your todger for nine months in order to save their life, you’d be screaming about civil liberties and demanding that someone be strung up. But somehow because it’s about wombs and biology, it’s ‘different’. It’s not. Governments are notoriously not to be trusted when it comes to deciding whether something should be allowed on the basis of ‘biology’. And as long as people like yourself who are otherwise bang-on when it comes to liberty think otherwise, it will remain a feminist issue.

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6 Responses to “Of course it’s a fucking feminist issue”

  1. It’s a civil liberties issue.

    Whose rights prevail? No more and no less than that.

    • Adam Bell said

      Forcing someone else to keep you alive – not a collective, a particular person – has nothing to do with liberty.

      • Being killed is also a civil rights issue.

        Ergo, killing or not killing is a civil rights issue. Whose civil rights prevail?

        That is the question and the whole of the question.

        Entirely agreed that even well meaning and logical people can differ on what the answer is. But that is still the question that needs to be answered.

  2. Adam Bell said

    Let me see if I can follow your logic.

    a) Both parties, the mother and foetus, are equally deserving of civil rights (this may not be precisely your position, but it’s one that seems in line with what you’ve said so far).
    b) Civil rights include the right not to be killed.
    c) The foetus will die if it is removed from the womb.
    d) Therefore, the foetus has a right to its mothers’ womb for the period of gestation.

    Now, abortion typically involves killing the foetus before it exits the womb, so you could take issue with point (c). But this is because while it’s technically possible to remove a foetus without killing it, it will immediately die afterwards regardless, and so while the order of events has moral importance it has no practical importance. As a result, (d) does not follow from (c). As a moral agent – which I assume you interpret the foetus to be inasmuch as it deserves civil rights – the foetus is guilty of an imposition upon the mother which goes against the core liberal principle that you are allowed to do anything you want as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. Therefore, the State should not be used to mandate that it is allowed to do so; civil rights are only meaningful inasmuch as they derive from liberalism. The fact that you’re arguing a biological fact about women should be enforced by the State as though it were a moral fact makes this a feminist issue; the State does not mandate that blokes shouldn’t wank and waste all those potential lives.

    I don’t believe foetuses have moral agency; to me the criteria for an individual is that it has unique memories, otherwise they’re just bundles of cells that could be duplicated. However, I don’t think your position holds together on its own grounds.

  3. “Both parties, the mother and foetus, are equally deserving of civil rights ”

    No. The question is, are both mother and foetus equally deserving of the same civil rights?

    What rights accrue to an adult human being by virtue of being such? What rights accrue to a foetus/potential human being/ baby by virtue of being such?

    The current legal position is exactly about this. At 25 weeks the rights of the foetus to not be killed trump those of the mother to be free of the foetus. At 23 weeks the reverse.

    Whether 24 weeks is the right dividing line is a different matter entirely. But this is still what the centre of the matter is. Whose civil rights trump the other’s at what point?

    • Adam Bell said

      The point is that it’s not murder, just the withdrawal of support. Painting it as murder makes it necessarily a feminist issue, as it implies that the foetus has a right to the womb for a period. Its rights never trump those of the mother in this sense, regardless of when it accrues them; there isn’t a civil right such that you can require someone to maintain your survival regardless of your age. The current legal position is better seen as an extension of the legal duty upon parents to look after their children, rather than a right that those children happen to have. As such, it is a legal duty imposed by dint of biology, and so a feminist issue.

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