Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Politics of Abortion

Two news notes for today.

First, a New Mexico lawmaker (a woman, no less) proposes that women who conceive from rape cannot have an abortion because the conception is evidence.
House Bill 206, introduced by state Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R), would charge a rape victim who ended her pregnancy with a third-degree felony for "tampering with evidence."

“Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime," the bill says....

“The bill turns victims of rape and incest into felons and forces them to become incubators of evidence for the state,” [Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexico] said. “According to Republican philosophy, victims who are ‘legitimately raped’ will now have to carry the fetus to term in order to prove their case.“

Then, in Annals of Hypocrisy, the lawyers for a Catholic hospital have declared that 7-month fetuses are not persons...not if the hospital is being sued for their wrongful death, that is.

Toward those ends, Catholic Health facilities seek to follow the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church authored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Those rules have stirred controversy for decades, mainly for forbidding non-natural birth control and abortions. ...

But when it came to mounting a defense in the Stodghill case, Catholic Health’s lawyers effectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect “unborn persons,” and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.
So, if you don't want the baby it's a person, and if you do want it, it's least, not if it costs the Church money.

Head spinning?


JCF said...

Not having read your commentary, IT, I said almost the exact same thing at Episcopal Cafe/The Lead!

[Re Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R): if the GOP can have "RINOs" ("Republicans In Name Only"), maybe we ought to suggest that Rep. Brown is a "WINO" (Woman In Name Only)?]

Grandmère Mimi said...

Life in the Bizarro world of far-right conservatism and the hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic Church. These are but two examples of the madness afflicting segments of the citizenry of this country.

Kevin K said...

In all fairness, progressives/liberals often speak of the need to protect the weak and powerless. However, they generally draw the line at a human fetus.

JCF said...

And I had a chicken fetus for breakfast, too!

I do a less-than-righteous job (Kyrie eleison!) at standing for/with "weak and powerless" human beings. In all fairness, I "draw the line"---based upon both civil law AND my Episcopal religious faith---at believing embryos w/ Homo sapiens DNA to be the former, Kevin K.

Human beings are sentient. Do you respect the sentient will of a woman who is pregnant, but doesn't want to be? Who chooses not to be? I'm afraid I cannot take seriously anyone who purports to be Pro {Human} -Life, who doesn't.

Kevin K said...


It seems you are changing my terms in mid paragraph. An excellent way to avoid some of the difficulties with your position.

You may be aware that a fetus is generally defined as more than eight weeks and an embryo is generally used for for less than eight weeks. I am not arguing that a human fetus is necessarily entitled to the full legal rights afforded a human being. I do believe that a fetus is part of the human community and as such it has some claims to the protections that community affords its members. As such it can properly be afforded some protection.

I suppose if you actually believe what you represent here that you would not criminalize infanticide as infants are not sentient. You would probably also object to a burial ceremony for a still birth as the fetus was never a sentient being.

I am a respecter of "sentient will" but I confess that I do not make the fetish of that respect that you do JCF. I suspect we can all find times when we have no problem with civil and criminal law prohibiting expressions of sentient will.

Kevin K

Kevin K

JCF said...

The overwhelming majority of abortions are performed in the first trimester, KevinK. Of those that occur later, the vast majority are performed because there is something SERIOUSLY wrong w/ the fetus (and I don't mean survivable conditions like Downs Syndrome), the pregnant woman, or both.

I'm not going to debate humanity after live birth: it's a stipulated given. [See re Declaration of Independence, or U.S. Constitution, or U.N. Rights of {Humanity}]

I suspect we can all find times when we have no problem with civil and criminal law prohibiting expressions of sentient will.

Yes, "at the end of my nose" . . . or uterus. Try to interfere within those autonomous boundaries, and We Have A Problem!!!

Kevin K said...

of course we have a problem. The question is does a human fetus have any rights? In your universe, obviously not.

IT said...

In my opinion, the rights of a fully formed sentient person (the mother) supersede the rights of a fetus. I also believe the rights of a born child are greater as well. Alas, too many pro-lifers lose all interest in children after they are born, and too many view a woman as merely a container for their fetus-fetish.

Based on experience in other countries, demand for abortion will be reduced here when women are educated meaningfully about their bodies, when they can access contraception to choose the best time to have a wanted baby, and when women have economic and educational opportunities that enable them to raise their child.

but in the current climate where there is little help for child-rearing, where there is no meaningful parental leave , and where conservative lawmakers think that if a poor child doesn't do well in school, his family should lose assistance (Yup sounds like Jesus to me....Not!) it is little wonder that women choose abortion. And it's little wonder that abortion will continue to be accessible to the rich, and out of reach for the poor. Capitalism in action.

Kevin K said...

Everyone has to make their own moral judgments.

I am on board with contraception and education. However, during my lifetime, sexual education has been part of public education. Even in the small towns that I grew up in birth control was accessible and readily available.

As for the last paragraph, that would not reflect the views of this conservative.

JCF said...

Even in the small towns that I grew up in birth control was accessible and readily available.

Hello, Privilege!

Kevin K said...


Really, you are saying that there were no condoms in the drug stores where you grew up? Maybe if you grew up pre Griswold.

IT said...

Apparently blogger ate my previous comment.

IF women could trust men to use condoms, that would be great. They can't. Women have to be responsible for contraception if they want to avoid pregnancy.

If you look at the region with the lowest number of abortions, it's western Europe, which has easily available contraception and access to medical care, and does not have hang ups about discussing sex . Europeans do not promote "abstinence" as the only form of sex education.

Further, abortion rates in countries where it is illegal are actually higher , and of course, unsafe for the women. Probably because of a link to contraception.


If we want abortion to be rare, we need to provide education, healthcare (including contraception) and economic and educational possibilities. Some decent family leave and family-oriented employment policieis would be nice, too. Something else much of EUrope has over us.

Kevin K said...


My point to JCF was responding to his statement regarding the lack of available birth control.

Women would seem to be able to say sex will not occur without a condom. This would also seem prudent particularly if you are not confident about your partners sexual history. Not only to avoid unwanted pregnancy but to avoid sexually transmitted disease.

That being said, I have no problem with sexual education and birth control. We do provide education although in many cases and places the results are very poor. A decline in economic prospects particularly for the young, is a world wide issue.

As for abstinence only, my recollection is that is no longer the policy in the United States. Were there any studies on how this compared with other sexual education curriculum and 1) age sexual activity started or 2) increase or decrease in the rate of abortion.