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Zoe’s law and abortion

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As long term readers should be aware I have argued many times that when it comes to the issue of abortion what we have is a matter of competing imperatives which change in their primacy over the duration the gestation. Further I argue that denying the humanity or the person-hood of the unborn is a shallow conceit that is created purely to sidestep the social strictures that we quite rightly have about killing other human beings. Simply put the denial of the humanity of the unborn makes it easier to kill them.

Personally I have always argued that there are times when abortion can be justified but you need ever more pressing reasons to kill the unborn the further that gestation progresses. Thus at the earliest stages of gestation abortion because of the lifestyle implications of a continuing pregnancy are both understandable and justifiable but once you get closer to term there just has to be a much more substantive reason to kill the unborn. That is the ethical territory that is in play here and Julie Hamblin is right to acknowledge that this law may  have implications beyond its intended remit. However is that really such a bad thing for our society?  It may make it tough for the “kill for convenience” pro-abortionists because they will have to honestly argue their case for once, that abortion is about killing real human beings rather than just “removing a bunch of cells” but if we as a society are not honest about this issue can we really claim to be a moral society?

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Abortion should be safe affordable, but most importantly rare

Abortion should be safe affordable, but most importantly rare

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9 Comments

  1. deknarf says:

    This law is quite simply the thin edge of the wedge for the anti-abortionists and religious fundamentalist right. There is no moral argument here, it is about the right of women to have control of their own bodies, and own decisions. Not that of some self-aggrandising, self-important bunch of extremists that consider a book (loosely interpreted to prove their own particular views) as the sole arbiter of what is right and wrong!

  2. GD says:

    Wow, deknarf, you really considered both sides of the debate with that comment /sarc.

    So you’re ok with late term, ie third trimester abortions?

    btw excellent, well-reasoned post Iain.

  3. deknarf says:

    No! Unless there is a good medical reason for them. And I have, very carefully considered both sides of the argument/not sarc.
    By the way a reasoned argument based around religion/religiosity is a contradiction in terms! ;-]

  4. Iain Hall says:

    Deknarf

    As an atheist I have been very careful to frame my argument in a totally secular manner. Precisely to avoid the accusation of religiosity that you now make.

  5. deknarf says:

    I think that the point I was making was that:
    1. This law, if passed, will be the thin edge of the wedge for the anti-abortionists and
    2. That a ‘reasoned argument’ based around religion/religiosity is a contradiction in terms, and
    3. By implication this whole argument has been captured by the anti-abortionist, religious fundamentalists often couched in ‘humanistic/moral/ethical’ terminology to add weight to their argument, and
    4. I don’t think that I ‘cast any nasturtiums’ your way.
    The whole issue boils down to when ‘a bunch of cells’ can be considered an organism that carries human traits and when do we consider it inappropriate to destroy said organism. Humanity, morality and ethics come into the issue somewhere on that bunch of cells to organism timeline, the issue is where. And from my perspective it is not where the moralising, religious, control freak zealots which to draw the line.
    So do a whole lot of other issues related to science, medicine and the advancement of technologies for maintaining life, and the contraindications that can be caused by such interventions. Perhaps the basis of a post some day.

  6. Iain Hall says:

    Deknarf

    1. This law, if passed, will be the thin edge of the wedge for the anti-abortionists

    Maybe, but as the law has specific exclusions for any medical procedures including abortion

    2. That a ‘reasoned argument’ based around religion/religiosity is a contradiction in terms,

    Oh I tend to agree with that in principle and in the past I have had great sport exploring such issues with the religious many times both in blogs and person.

    3. By implication this whole argument has been captured by the anti-abortionist, religious fundamentalists often couched in ‘humanistic/moral/ethical’ terminology to add weight to their argument,

    Well even as an atheist I don’t think that there is an easy way to get around the reality that abortion involves the killing of a human being. My point in this and other pieces on the subject is really about intellectual honesty, If unborn children have to be killed for whatever reason then own the decision and the consequences of that killing. Just don’t pretend that what you are doing or having done is something other than what it is.

    4. I don’t think that I ‘cast any nasturtiums’ your way.
    The whole issue boils down to when ‘a bunch of cells’ can be considered an organism that carries human traits and when do we consider it inappropriate to destroy said organism. Humanity, morality and ethics come into the issue somewhere on that bunch of cells to organism timeline, the issue is where. And from my perspective it is not where the moralising, religious, control freak zealots which to draw the line.

    I suspect that we are probably more in agreement than we are at odds on this issue. As I said we have competing imperatives between the desires of a woman to bodily autonomy and we have the rights of an unborn human being not to be arbitrarily killed. I see it rather like a see-saw at the beginning of gestation I see that the balance is all towards the desires of a woman for her bodily autonomy but as the gestation progresses the balance shifts with ever greater certainty towards the right of the unborn to live. The difficulty is of course picking the tipping point.

    So do a whole lot of other issues related to science, medicine and the advancement of technologies for maintaining life, and the contraindications that can be caused by such interventions. Perhaps the basis of a post some day.

    Well I would look forward to such a post 😉

  7. Erin says:

    Men like you who talk about the “convenience” of not going through pregnancy and childbirth just embarrass yourselves (wow someone without a uterus thinks pregnancy is a walk in the park, now there’s a surprise). Like pushing a small person through your vagina is akin to popping down the shops to pick up some milk. It would be funny to watch you idiots convince yourselves of your moral superiority except that it’s people like you, not women themselves, who will ultimately decide whether women qualify as people or are relegated to the status of incubators.

  8. Iain Hall says:

    Erin
    Firstly let me welcome you to the Sandpit and thank you for your feisty comment. I have two children of may own and having watched both their gestation and entry into the world I would never characterise any of the process as a “walk in the park” Or think that the birth process is akin to “popping down the shops to pick up some milk” I know absolutely that its a big deal. Nor am I even suggesting that anyone should be coerced in to doing anything that they do not want to do.
    In the age of readily available and easily affordable contraception I see little reason to be sympathetic to any one who becomes pregnant when they don’t want to be, however if contraception fails or is not used at all I think that being decisive as soon as possible is more ethically acceptable than procrastinating until ending the pregnancy is entirely morally reprehensible.
    When you have had children of your own, or even deliberately tried to make one, you will realise that they are NEVER just “a bunch of cells” Sometimes there are very good reasons not to proceed with a pregnancy, I accept that, I don’t even advocate any change or restriction in the availability of abortion I just want to see more intelectauil honesty about preciesly what abortion is.

  9. Simon says:

    The right to recognition of being identified as a person, or trying to decided on when personhood should be achieved by an individual as a right, and how legislation should be applied with regards at the earliest stages of life is one of the great modern questions. It comes after millenniums of human communities being more than happy to label others as sub-human (and treat them as such) and it’s a difficult argument to make against those who we’d call ‘Pro-Life’ calling this a civil rights issue of the unborn. That these are often the same people who are against particular civil rights to certain consenting adults is something we might find ironic.

    If you look at Life from that of the individual it begins within a few hours of insemination of a sperm into an egg – fertilisation. Hopefully. (You can also look at Life as an interconnected tree. Some branches are fruitful and multiply. Some don’t.) That it’s only been in the past 35 years we’ve been able to observe creation at it’s earliest moment with the bonny wee lasses and lads that result is often overlooked. And again it’s an irony the same vocal minority would like to put an end to this Life-giving intervention as well.

    Perhaps I’m naive but I can’t see the passing of such a law as being a bad thing. If it is then attempted to be used for purposes the community doesn’t support then the law can be tweaked. I’ve watched with interest the series of personhood initiatives that have been attempted, and failed, in the United States, and all I can say is that once artificial wombs become a reality in the not to distant future I hope we have a better consensus than we do now.

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