Posted by: Ophelia | July 21, 2008

…What?

In a victory for antiabortion forces, doctors in South Dakota are now required to tell a woman seeking an abortion that the procedure “will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being.”

Under the law, doctors must say that the woman has “an existing relationship” with the fetus that is protected by the U.S. Constitution and that “her existing constitutional rights with regards to that relationship will be terminated.” Also, the doctor is required to say that “abortion increases the risk of suicide ideation and suicide.”

The message must be delivered no earlier than two hours before the procedure. The woman must say in writing that she understands.

Mailee Smith, staff counsel at Chicago-based Americans United for Life, praised the regulations. “We do think it’s a good law, because it does provide a woman with the broadest spectrum of information,” she said.

(Washington Post)

Wait, so doctors are required to tell women seeking abortions a statement based not in facts, or even legal understanding, but religious rhetoric? I just don’t get how in the United States, a law like this could pass. I mean I get it, but I just can’t fathom how this is okay.

Fetuses aren’t legally human beings–which is why abortion is legal. How can you force doctor’s to tell women that their fetus is a) alive and b) a human being? How can you legally mandate the presentation of a viewpoint that isn’t actually supported by the law? Those are opinions not facts and in no way add to a “broad spectrum of information” but rather a broad spectrum of fear and guilt mongering.

Medical interference: it’s for the ladies.

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Responses

  1. This is a step away from forcing the doctors to threaten the women if they go through with the abortion.

  2. “How can you force doctor’s to tell women that their fetus is a) alive and b) a human being?”

    I’m fully pro-choice, but what is it you’re trying to say here?

    That a fetus ISN’T alive? It most certainly is. The entire purpose of an abortion is to make said fetus NOT alive. If it continues being alive, so does a pregnancy.

    It’s not as though you’re expelling something that was dead. If it was dead, you’d have no need of an abortion.

    I’m pretty certain every doctor of every stripe, religion and otherwise, will clearly tell you a fetus is alive.

    For you to argue otherwise is more than a little silly.

    Also, the law prevents the unlawful killing of a PERSON.

    A fetus is, in fact, a human. What it is NOT, however, is a person. Therein lies the fundamental difference.

    So, yes, it is quite alive, and a human. It’s simply not a person.

    I’m not really sure why so many recent feminists have started in on the “fetuses are not alive” argument. It doesn’t make sense, and it’s not helpful, at all.

    It makes all of us that support choice look like fools by association.

  3. What I’m trying to say is how is it correct to have doctor’s make statements that aren’t readily supported in either law or medical doctrine. Alive is a term that is in dispute which may well be why you’ll keep seeing it come up in discussions of abortion. What makes someone alive? Is it merely the mechanical workings of the body that allow it to take in air and food–is that all that’s required? Is it something more? If this had an easy answer, there never would have been a controversy over patients with persistant vegetative state diagnoses.

    Further I fully agree that a fetus is human. However, I feel that the instruction that an abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being uses human being in place of person. The choice of words goes beyond simply asserting that the fetus is human–well no shit. Obviously women aren’t carrying aliens. Ascribing unique humanity to the unborn to me–feels no different than ascribing personhood. A change in wording doesn’t really eliminate the sentiment and I find it to be problematic that this could be legislated.

    However, if my thoughts have somehow made the entirety of feminism (as we all know its a monolith) look foolish–feel free not to read any further.

  4. “What I’m trying to say is how is it correct to have doctor’s make statements that aren’t readily supported in either law or medical doctrine. Alive is a term that is in dispute which may well be why you’ll keep seeing it come up in discussions of abortion. What makes someone alive? Is it merely the mechanical workings of the body that allow it to take in air and food–is that all that’s required? Is it something more? If this had an easy answer, there never would have been a controversy over patients with persistant vegetative state diagnoses.”

    There is nothing in question about what “alive” means. The fact that a fetus is alive IS readily supported by medical fact. How could you argue that it’s NOT alive?

    Something is alive by being not-dead. That’s the most basic definition. You are alive if you are not dead.

    That’s all there is to it. A fetus is a living thing, because an abortion is designed to kill it.

    An adult human in a vegetative state is an entirely different situation, as that falls under “quality of life”.

    “Ascribing unique humanity to the unborn to me–feels no different than ascribing personhood. A change in wording doesn’t really eliminate the sentiment and I find it to be problematic that this could be legislated.”

    It’s more that there are many feminists who do everything they can to alienate women from the things they carry inside them. With such arguments as “it’s not really alive!” or “it’s a parasite!”, in an attempt to de-humanize it, and make it seem a disease or an intruder or something terrible.

    If BOTH sides would use more honest language, we wouldn’t have these problems. Neither side is innocent of using charged language to sway people.

    “However, if my thoughts have somehow made the entirety of feminism (as we all know its a monolith) look foolish–feel free not to read any further.”

    I said those of us that support choice. Besides, it’s much like Peta makes animal-rights activists look like foolish morons, people who try to claim a fetus is not alive, or is some form of “parasite” (it’s not, not by any definition of the term), just make everyone else who believes in the necessity of choice look like we could be the same way.

  5. Again, I’m going to warn you about straw men arguments. Nowhere did I say that fetuses are parasites.

    “A fetus is a living thing, because an abortion is designed to kill it.” This sentiment is an opinion, one that sounds very close to the instructions South Dakota doctors will have to give their patients who seek to end their pregnancies. For some, an unwanted pregnancy is intrusive and they don’t feel that the fetus is a unique independent human being–that’s their right. Somehow I doubt that feminists have convinced women, who would otherwise be perfectly fine with having children, to have unwanted abortions.

    These instructions aren’t meant to present facts. They’re meant to provide appeals to emotion and the supposed inherent maternal feelings all women are supposed to have. They’re not meant to make women consider their decisions carefully and further it’s awfully paternalistic to think that arriving at the decision to have an abortion is a light decision and one that women don’t take seriously. It’s not about the feminist agenda to alienate women from the “things” that grow inside of them (that sounds really humanizing), it’s about the pro life agenda infiltrating the doctor’s office for no reason other than to get that final jab in in the hopes of stopping the procedure. Justify it all you like, but if one supports this measure–they don’t support choice.

  6. “Again, I’m going to warn you about straw men arguments. Nowhere did I say that fetuses are parasites.”

    I never said you did. So don’t “warn” me about anything.

    “This sentiment is an opinion, one that sounds very close to the instructions South Dakota doctors will have to give their patients who seek to end their pregnancies.”

    No, it is not an opinion. Fact: A fetus is alive. Fact: An abortion will kill it. Fact: The intent OF an abortion IS to kill it.

    Explain to me what part of that is an “opinion”?

    An opinion would be “A fetus was placed there by god and has a soul and you’re destroying god’s plan with an abortion!”.

    That would be an opinion, if someone used it.

    Saying that something is alive, when it IS alive, and that killing it IS the goal of an abortion is simply fact. That’s the entire purpose of it. If it was dead, you wouldn’t need to abort it, now would you?

    “For some, an unwanted pregnancy is intrusive and they don’t feel that the fetus is a unique independent human being–that’s their right. Somehow I doubt that feminists have convinced women, who would otherwise be perfectly fine with having children, to have unwanted abortions.”

    What part of that disagrees with the fact that it’s alive? So what if it’s an “unwanted intruder”? It’s not as if people having sex didn’t know what they were getting into, and it still doesn’t change that the thing itself is alive.

    “It’s not about the feminist agenda to alienate women from the “things” that grow inside of them (that sounds really humanizing)”

    I don’t like children, my language surrounding things related to them won’t be exactly pleasant. Point is, there is a strong movement within feminism to alienate women from what they may carry inside them, and to make them view it as this “other” or parasite, or not alive. As I said, BOTH sides of the line aren’t being entirely honest with the people in question.

    Both sides are guilty of using language that attempts to twist what’s happening.

  7. If the question of whether or not fetuses are alive and can be killed was already settled, so too would the issue of abortion be settled.

    The fact that some states still require a fetus to be “born alive” indicates that in the eyes of the law, fetuses are not alive until they are born and draw breath. On the other hand, some states recognize life within the womb and have produced laws designed to punish fetal injury and death in utero. “Alive” isn’t a legal fact for fetuses and it isn’t something to be taken for granted and asserted as absolute truth.

    You insist that abortions kill fetuses, so why then isn’t abortion murder? Does the act of fertilization of an egg mean that the resultant fetus has all of the rights of a citizen, including the right to life?

    Alive isn’t a simple designation to grant. Especially not if you are pro-choice.

  8. “If the question of whether or not fetuses are alive and can be killed was already settled, so too would the issue of abortion be settled.”

    No, it wouldn’t. That wouldn’t change the issue with religious people, who believe that the thing in the womb was placed there by god, and has a “soul”.

    If the fetus isn’t alive, what is it? The only thing you can be if you aren’t alive, is dead. Again, if it were dead, no abortion would be necessary. You are taking something that IS alive, and rendering it not-alive.

    No, the “born alive” means they aren’t stillborn.

    Personhood is something a fetus doesn’t have. The fact that that thing IS biologically and medically alive is not in question. I’d worry for the intelligence of someone who says otherwise.

    “You insist that abortions kill fetuses, so why then isn’t abortion murder?”

    I already covered that. Because a fetus is not a legal PERSON. Murder is the illegal killing of a person.

    I never somehow said that a fetus has the rights of a citizen. Reign in your rhetoric.

    You’re creating a straw man, and it’s not even a good one.

    Yes, alive IS a simple designation to grant.

    My tomato plants are alive. Does that mean they have “citizen rights”? No. But they are still biologically alive.

    The cells of a fetus are alive, they are dividing, functioning, and growing. They have life. To claim somehow, that it’s “not alive”…is simply ridiculous.

    If the entire basis of your pro-choice stance is “fetuses aren’t really alive”, you really need to rethink things.

  9. The cells of a woman’s body are alive too, independently and dependently, just like a fetus is. The baby is ‘alive’ in that it’s a part of the woman’s body. Remove the woman, and the fetus is no longer alive. Just as if you remove a heart or brain from a woman.

    An appendix is as ‘alive’ as a fetus is. Should appendectomies be outlawed?

  10. That’s a false analogy.

    The fetus isn’t part of the woman’s body.

    It’s something other than her, that happens to live in her body.

    If it were part of her body, like her appendix, organs, or cells, it would be 100% her DNA. It is not. It has it’s own unique DNA code and chromosomes.

  11. “If the entire basis of your pro-choice stance is “fetuses aren’t really alive”, you really need to rethink things.”

    Yes, because that’s exactly what I said. I really could drag out etymology and legal definitions of alive but I won’t because you are absolutely sure that your opinion is fact and there’s really no point wasting more effort trying to get you to actually articulate a reasoned argument. Nice try at questioning my intelligence however. Clearly–I’m the only person who has ever heard of or suggested that fetuses are not always taken to be alive in the way it is generally defined.

    You seem to be personally affronted that I posed the citizenship and rights questions. I assure you it isn’t “rhetoric” but rather an attempt to see if you could answer the questions without your own–you couldn’t. You went straight back to your assertions of your opinion as fact and very thinly veiled, poorly executed, insults.

    Since you seem unable to engage in good faith discussions without the chip on your shoulder re: feminism, I won’t bother dealing with you further.

  12. It IS a part of the woman’s body. The woman’s body shares blood and fluids with the baby, circulates oxygen and food and water with the fetus as any other part of her body. DNA is not involved in any definition of ‘alive’ or the fetus being another being, not to mention that the fetus still shares 50% DNA with the mother.

  13. Well, basically, you ARE arguing that a fetus isn’t alive.

    If something isn’t alive, it is not-alive, or in the case of biological things, dead.

    Is the fetus dead? No, it is not. You’re muddying the language, and trying to separate the fetus from anything remotely human, in order to make it sound like it’s as simple as cutting your hair, and you aren’t REALLY killing something, because, hey, it wasn’t alive anyway!

    No, the citizenship parts were ignored and teased at, because they were a bad argument. They weren’t valid. No, a fetus doesn’t have the rights of a citizen, or the “right to life”, because it is not a person.

    Does that mean it’s not alive? Of course not. The cells within it divide. It grows. It eats (in it’s way), it has function, it is not dead. To argue that it’s “only kind of alive” or “not alive” is silly. It’s not opinion.

    You seem to be confusing personhood with the state of being alive. My point is, my plants are alive, but they are not a legal person, ergo, I could uproot them if I so chose.

    You seem unable to engage in good faith discussions, as you are arguing a nonsensical point. You are arguing that a fetus somehow isn’t alive.

    The way alive is generally defined is this:

    “1. having life; living; existing; not dead or lifeless.”

    It fits these. It’s cells have life, it is living, it exists, and it is not dead or lifeless.

    You are apparently, as I said, confusing “alive” with “person”.

    “It IS a part of the woman’s body. The woman’s body shares blood and fluids with the baby, circulates oxygen and food and water with the fetus as any other part of her body. DNA is not involved in any definition of ‘alive’ or the fetus being another being, not to mention that the fetus still shares 50% DNA with the mother.”

    I never said DNA was involved in the definition of being alive.

    It is certainly involved in the definition of “other”.

    Is that cold you caught “part of your body”? Or is it an other, that happens to be currently living inside of your body?

    It is IN you, but it is not part of you.

    It has a different function, genetic structure, and is not composed entirely of your own genetic code, unlike things that are already there.

    A fetus is inside of a woman’s body, but it is not part of her. It is itself, and happens to currently require her body for it’s sustenance, but it is not in any way a part of her.

    Yes, it shares 50% DNA, and we share a lot more DNA with apes. Point is, the fact that it is not entirely her DNA is essentially saying it is not part of her.

    Her intestines will have the same DNA code as every other part of her. The fetus will not.

  14. We posted about this on the California NOW blog too! http://www.canow.org/canoworg/2008/07/do-they-think-w.html

  15. Please forgive my interjection into this debate, I’m not generally a militant baby hater but this was too precious to not comment about.

    My favorite part of this debate is where Black Thirteen chastises feminism for apparently calling fetuses parasites. Then goes on to make the best arguments that they are indeed parasites.

    Parasite (Webster) -an organism living in, with, or on another organism in parasitism : something that resembles a biological parasite in dependence on something else for existence or support without making a useful or adequate return

    Black Thirteen – “The fetus isn’t part of the woman’s body.

    It’s something other than her, that happens to live in her body.”

    “A fetus is inside of a woman’s body, but it is not part of her. It is itself, and happens to currently require her body for it’s sustenance, but it is not in any way a part of her.”

    Oh, and by the way, it is rare but there have been plenty of documented cases of ectopic pregnancies where the fetus having burst out of the Fallopian tubes attaches itself to another non fertility related organ, where it proceeds to kill that organ and usually the female as well because the placenta is the fetuses not the mothers organ, it will take nutrition from whatever it can attach to. That makes it a parasite.

    Maybe Black Thirteen should take his/her own advice and rework the argument before making the others argument for them.


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