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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » "After-Birth Abortion" Article Sparks Controversy

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Author Topic: "After-Birth Abortion" Article Sparks Controversy
moonlight bouncing off water
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Not really sure what to think of this. What do y'all think?

After-Birth Abortion: Can they Be Serious? (Washington Post)

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~moonlight

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kitkatbits
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quote:

We claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk,” the article reads. “We propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion,’ rather than ‘infanticide,’ to emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child.

I don't view this as ethically permissible.

[ 04-06-2012, 12:27 PM: Message edited by: kitkatbits ]

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Redskies
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I have no idea what the authors' deal is, and what kind of discussion they can possibly have hoped to spark. Ordinarily, I would suspect giant anti-abortion motives to something like this, trying to scandalise people about abortion and <just how far those immoral and scary pro-choicers would go and where it would all lead>.

The anti-abortion response, is surprise surprise, yet again with a massive dose of ableism, in the name of protecting disabled people from abortion and co-opting disability justice issues into the anti-abortion argument in a gross way.

Trigger warning for ableism. Anti-abortion writer is quoted as writing, "If personhood requires a measure of consciousness, an aim or a function, then what do we do with those who are mentally challenged? What about the physically handicapped? How about those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease?"

Some news for you, response-writer. "Mentally challenged", "physically handicapped" people, as you so charmingly call them, and folk with Alzheimer's, have complete consciousness, thank you very much, so your argument is dead in the water. Take your foul ableist fake-what-about-the-poor-disabled concern and go and get an actual clue. From me, as self, friend, family or lover of all of the above, you do not advocate for me. Do not dare to mix up your broken ableism as pretend-protection into the abortion discussion where it has no place. Disabled people are not your handy tools to use in your arguments when it suits you, while you continue being objectionably ableist.

Gah. That kind of thing really gets on my goat. Actually, re-reading it, that sentence from the anti-abortion writer is just vile. "An aim or a function"???? Let me introduce you to hoards of disabled people with pretty massive "aims and functions". £$%^&*. Plus, they seem perhaps ignorant of what various regimes in history Have done with disabled peopled: gassed them, tortured them, locked them up... What happens when people consider disabled people to be without "a measure of consciousness, an aim or a function" is not an unknown - it's something we've seen repeatedly. How dare they pose such a question as if that context did not exist.

I also don't like the way they structure it. They're saying, "so maybe you'd get rid of "mentally challenged" folk, right? What about "physically handicapped" - harder to say now, isn't it? So, now what about people with Alzheimer's - you wouldn't get rid of those, would you." They're repeating and contributing to a hierarchy of disability. Vile.

(Edited to correct that I suspect I mis-gendered the anti-abortion response writer. And also, I just wrote "pro-life" - apparently I took leave of my senses; imo, someone is only pro-life if they are pro-life in all stages of life, not just pre-birth.)

[ 04-06-2012, 03:47 PM: Message edited by: Redskies ]

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Heather
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Redskies: I really appreciate all the thought you put into this, because reading it, I was so dumbstruck on so many levels - including what the hell anyone was thinking about even starting a bizarre discussion like this with the precarious state of reproductive rights right now -- all I could do was stutter.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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kitkatbits
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Heather, the article the two philosophers/bioethicists wrote was then succeded by an article explaining the motivation behind writing it.

To summarize, or attempt to...

* the article was not written for the general public, but as a bioethicist-bioethicist article on this issue.
* the article did not mean to suggest that this was ethical or not ethical.
* the general public is misunderstanding the abstract philosophical terminology used.
* in no way did the article mean to suggest policy changes for or against this issue.

However, I do not at all think that their explanation of the article's motivation was sufficient because it skirted over the greater cultural context and did not take into account the views of people in this culture who may disagree.

The full thing is at http://blogs.bmj.com/medical-ethics/2012/03/02/an-open-letter-from-giubilini-and-minerva/

[ 04-06-2012, 05:44 PM: Message edited by: kitkatbits ]

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Heather
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quote:
However, I do not at all think that their explanation of the article's motivation was sufficient because it skirted over the greater cultural context and did not take into account the views of people in this culture who may disagree.
That'd be the more reasonable, less growly version of what I was trying to say. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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kitkatbits
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I agree . Have a good weekend, by the way, even though I know you don't celebrate Easter.
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bump on a log
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"After all, what is the moral difference between killing a full-term baby minutes before delivery — allowed under Roe v. Wade and subsequent decisions — and killing it after delivery?"

No difference. They're perfectly right about that. It's like saying "What is it that makes you unable to consent to sex at fifteen years three hundred and sixty-four days, and able a couple of days later?" Nothing. Same deal. But you have to draw the line somewhere. You can negotiate about where -- I think the arguments for lowering the age of consent to fourteen, which I believe it already is in several European countries, are pretty good -- but in the end there will always be that arbitrary line.

It was, yes, dumb of them to publish this article and especially to publish it right now, but more than annoyed at them I feel existentially annoyed with human nature, that you can't have a reasoned and utterly theoretical discussion about a risky topic without some members of the general public seizing on it and making a meal out of it. I would guess the press has a fair bit to answer for in this as well -- the article was published in the British Medical Journal, after all, not the Times or the Mail, so some of the hype must come secondhand from the broadsheets. But what can you do.

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Jill2000Plus
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But there is a difference, that being that before delivery that fetus may well be killing the woman who is (about to be) giving birth to it, but afterwards that is not so. How is that not a huge difference?

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Heather
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If we are going to have this discussion about this, then what Jill said.

In other words, elective abortion is NOT available to anyone minutes before birth. It is only something that occurs, anytime in the third trimester, for that matter, if and when the fetus is already stillborn, or the life (not quality of life, actual life, as in, a person being able to physically live through it) or health of the person pregnant is at serious risk by continuing the pregnancy or delivery. Our lines with these things actually aren't arbitrary: they're pretty darn specific.

So, that question itself is seriously flawed, I'd say, because those scenarios -- which require still being pregnant -- can't be issues post-delivery when a person is no longer pregnant.

And bump on a log, I feel you, too, per that third para.

[ 04-08-2012, 12:00 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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bump on a log
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quote:
Originally posted by Jill2000Plus:
But there is a difference, that being that before delivery that fetus may well be killing the woman who is (about to be) giving birth to it, but afterwards that is not so. How is that not a huge difference?

Alright, very good point. I meant there is no difference between a foetus just about to be born and a baby who has just been born, if you count the woman carrying the foetus out of the equation. But you are right, in practical terms one can never do that.

I would be willing to bet that the authors at least mentioned this in their original paper, but you have to pay to see it, so...

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Atonement
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On a somewhat separate note, I don't see why anyone would want to do this.

The purpose of an abortion is to stop a pregnancy.

However, I think that not wanting to be a parent is only part of most people's choice to have an abortion. Other reasons include:

1) Issues that make pregnancy dangerous to the woman's health

2) Not wanting friends/family ect. to know about the pregnancy

3) or, quite simple, just not wanting to go through the whole complicated process only to give the resulting child up.

After birth has taken place, there is no point. The pregnancy has already been completed, and it's far past the point of keeping any secrets. If you're going to take it that far, why not just do an adoption?

(please don't misunderstand: I am totally in favor of abortions, and would get one myself if the need arose. It's just, ethical issues aside, I don't even see the point of it if you're going to go through with the whole pregnancy anyway.)

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Heather
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I'd also add that in the states we have Safe Haven laws, which allow a person to abandon a newborn in safe places *no questions asked* and have that infant be cared for and placed in care. In other words, arranging an adoption isn't even needed for that to happen with an infant here.

While this original piece didn't come from the US, and not all countries have those laws, they're well-known laws and set a clear precedent.

But now I think we're getting to the crux of what I'd say makes this a truly half-baked ethical argument. I haven't read the original paper, but I'm not sure we have to to see that as an argument itself, it dismisses how these things play out in real life. And for me, setting aside the thoughtlessness of the timing with all of this, that makes this whole exercise without any use at all, since there's really no application for it in the first place.

[ 04-09-2012, 10:14 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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