You don’t get to talk about abortion unless…

Okay, new rule.  All the dudes who want to enforce pregnancy on anyone who can’t prove to their satisfaction that they were raped or that the pregnancy will kill them need to meet the following qualifications:

  1. Blood and Organ Donor: You must donate blood every time you are eligible. Not once or twice a year or when it’s convenient. Every single time you’re eligible. You’re off the hook if the Red Cross won’t actually take your blood, but fear of needles, passing out, or throwing up aren’t an excuse. Likewise, you must be registered as a bone marrow donor and donate marrow whenever needed. You must also give a kidney to anybody who needs one if you’re a match. If an embryo has the right to use someone else’s body for nine months to sustain its life, then sick people in hospitals absolutely have the right to your blood, your bone marrow, and any organs you have multiples of.
  2. Sex: You must never in your life have had sex that could get another person pregnant without confirming with that person that they actually wish to become pregnant. Since all birth control has a failure rate, that includes protected sex, unless one or both of you has been permanently sterilized.
  3. Charitable Giving: You must actually contribute 5-10% of your income to help people in poverty. If you’re a member of a religious organization, only the portion of your contributions that actually serve that purpose count.  If you tithe 10% and your church spends 30% of its budget on benevolence, then you’re at 3% and still have at least 2 to go.
  4. Social Safety Net: You must actually support a society in which everyone has food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. If you vote Republican, that’s pretty much an auto-disqualifier.
  5. Dependable Friend: If a friend or family member who is pregnant or has an infant needs anything from you at any time, no matter how expensive, annoying, or inconvenient, you have to help. Sister wants you to skip the football game and babysit for free?  You’re on the hook.

You might argue that this is all terribly unfair, and who am I to dictate how you live your life. What right do I, a total stranger who knows nothing about you, have to decide how much you can tolerate, the nature of your intimate relationships, and what parts of your life and your very body you have to give up?  You’re right.  I don’t have any.  You’re an autonomous human who gets to decide what you can handle, how you want to live, and what obligations you’ll submit to.  But, and this is the key point—So. Is. Every. Pregnant. Person.

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23 thoughts on “You don’t get to talk about abortion unless…

  1. megpie71 says:

    I agree with most of this – but I’d also extend it to all those women who want to declare everyone else isn’t allowed to get an abortion as well – with a rider that if they’re still of reproductive age, they need to be willing to offer surrogacy services.

    • KellyK says:

      Oh, definitely. It’s mostly men who’ve made those statements to me, and it seems to be easier for cis guys to be totally clueless about what pregnancy entails. But women are certainly not immune.

  2. […] You don’t get to talk about abortion unless… | Kelly Thinks Too Much […]

  3. Alex says:

    I don’t agree with this. The author is pretending that pregnant people bear no responsibility for their pregnancy.

    “If an embryo has the right to use someone else’s body for nine months to sustain its life, then sick people in hospitals absolutely have the right to your blood, your bone marrow, and any organs you have multiples of.”

    A sick person in a hospital would only have the right to my “blood, bone marrow, and any organs I have multiples of” if I were responsible for them being in the hospital in the first place. Likewise, a fetus has the right to use my body to sustain its life for 9 months if I am responsible for it needing to do so (even if by accident).

    I’m pro choice only because I’m an atheist who doesn’t put much value on the life, or rights, of a fetus. If I were a christian who believed that life began at conception, I would surly find abortion to be horrific.

    • KellyK says:

      First off, I’m not “pretending” anything, and this will be a much more productive discussion if you don’t randomly attribute bad faith from the get-go.

      Some pregnant people are 100% responsible for having become pregnant. Some are rape victims. Some experience contraception failures that are extraordinarily unlikely (even sterilization has a failure rate).

      Most fall somewhere in the middle. They took the precautions they felt were sufficient, and they turned out not to be.

      None of those people has made any promise or commitment to allow a fetus the use of their body.

      In non-pregnancy situations, not even causing someone to need your blood or your organs legally obligates you to provide them.

      If you cause a car accident in which I’m injured, you are not legally obligated to give me blood. Not even if there’s a shortage and we’re both O negative and I’ll die otherwise.

      Likewise, even if it’s your kid who requires a kidney, you aren’t legally required to give them one. Even if you have children knowing that you and your spouse carry a gene that can cause kidney failure, and it does, you will not be thrown in jail if you don’t give your child a kidney.

      That doesn’t mean that letting your kid die is a good or moral thing to do, only that body autonomy is your right as a human being and that no one should be able to force you to give up that kidney against your will.

      • Alex says:

        Apologies for accusing you of “pretending.” Thanks for taking the time to respond to me.

        “In non-pregnancy situations, not even causing someone to need your blood or your organs legally obligates you to provide them.”

        This is a fair point – I should have distinguished between moral obligation and legal obligation.

        “If you cause a car accident in which I’m injured, you are not legally obligated to give me blood. Not even if there’s a shortage and we’re both O negative and I’ll die otherwise.”

        If I don’t provide you with blood and you die, I will be guilty of manslaughter, rather than a lesser crime. So the law does hold me responsible for not giving your blood and letting you die, it just doesn’t compel me to save you in advance. Imagine if a pro life person said: “I don’t want the law to compel pregnant women to not get abortions, but I do want the law to punish them if they choose to let their fetus die.”

        I think the main reason the government doesn’t have laws compelling people to give blood in the way you describe is that it’s extremely rare for it to actually be useful, whereas it’s very common for a fetus to need life support from its mother. So let’s imagine a hypothetical world in which something like this is more common:

        Imagine that a plague has spread over the country, which causes all newborn babies to die. The only cure for this plague is for the babies father to provide life support to the child for 9 months. This life support procedure happens to be exactly as costly, painful, and difficult as pregnancy. Let’s imagine that every year, 820,151 fathers refuse to provide this life support, choosing to allow their babies to die. I’m fairly certain that the public would be outraged at these fathers, and would try to pass laws forcing them to undergo the procedure.

        Maybe these men would argue that they shouldn’t be forced to provide the life support, because they didn’t intend to impregnate anyone, and that “they took the precautions they felt were sufficient, and they turned out not to be.” And that they had not “made any promise or commitment to allow a (baby) the use of their body.”

        I doubt that there is a politician in this country that would not vote to force these fathers to undergo this life support procedure. They would probably think of it as an extension of the child support laws we already have. Bodily autonomy is worth very little compared to the life of a baby. And if I were religious, and believed that the life of a fetus was worth almost as much as that of a babies, I would be pro-life.

      • KellyK says:

        I’m apparently out of nesting here.

        In the car wreck scenario, your being charged with manslaughter if I die isn’t directly tied to giving blood or not. It’s the fact that you hit me with your car. It would still be manslaughter if you give me blood but I die anyway, or if we don’t have matching blood types and you can’t give me blood.

        Generally, you also have to have hit me due to your negligence, not someone else’s or a freak accident. You’re more likely to be convicted of manslaughter if you were inattentive, or impaired, or speeding. If I run out into the road, and you don’t have time to stop, you probably won’t be convicted of manslaughter. If I’m thrown from my vehicle during another accident and hit your car, you probably won’t be charged, even if I would have survived had your car not been there.

        To bring that back to pregnancy, having voluntary, unprotected sex might be negligent (if you view a zygote as a person, which it sounds like neither of us do). But is it negligent if the condom breaks? Or if you use multiple methods, but you happened to get a bad pack of pills *and* the condom breaks? Or if you weren’t successful in begging your rapist to use a condom?

        If a pregnant person is always required to carry the pregnancy to term (or is required unless they can prove they were raped), we’re holding them to a much higher standard of responsibility than we do people in other situations.

        We don’t, for example, hold drivers responsible for accidents they had no way of preventing, because they could have chosen not to drive at all. But that’s the standard of responsibility that’s applied with abortion–just don’t have sex.

      • KellyK says:

        In your hypothetical example, I think it would be morally abhorrent to force people to act as life-support machines. It also goes against your previous argument about responsibility, unless those fathers caused the plague.

        Do you think it would be appropriate to require parents to be organ donors for their children or grandchildren? Close relatives are the most likely to be a good match, so I’m sure there are cases where it would save lives.

    • Rosa says:

      Whatever. If I’m pregnant and choose to stay pregnant (which I actually did) then I’m responsible for the fetus being there and damaging my kidneys (which is what happened.) It’s a choice I made.

      If I am pregnant and choose to have an abortion, there’s no fetus there to do the damage. So, boom, I’ve taken responsibility!

      Any Christian who thinks an actual person begins at conception is horrified ALL THE TIME because there are tiny dying babies falling out of uteruses all around us and every time they have unprotected het sex they have close to a 50/50 chance of “parenting” one of them. If that person actually exists they are probably too paralyzed with horror all the time to vote or argue on the internet.

      • KellyK says:

        All good points. I do find it weird that the people who are so upset by abortion never give miscarriages a second thought. God did it and that makes it okay, I guess.

  4. Alex says:

    “In the car wreck scenario, your being charged with manslaughter if I die isn’t directly tied to giving blood or not. It’s the fact that you hit me with your car. It would still be manslaughter if you give me blood but I die anyway, or if we don’t have matching blood types and you can’t give me blood.”

    I’m not sure why these distinctions you’re making should matter. But honestly, I’m not experienced in this kind of legal philosophy, and am having a hard time thinking it through. So you could be right.

    “To bring that back to pregnancy, having voluntary, unprotected sex might be negligent (if you view a zygote as a person, which it sounds like neither of us do). But is it negligent if the condom breaks? Or if you use multiple methods, but you happened to get a bad pack of pills *and* the condom breaks? ”

    It’s very hard to draw a line and say what is and isn’t negligent, but that doesn’t mean we should give up and just say anything goes. The law makes difficult choices about where to draw lines all the time. How much alcohol do you have to have in your blood to be considered impaired?

    “In your hypothetical example, I think it would be morally abhorrent to force people to act as life-support machines. It also goes against your previous argument about responsibility, unless those fathers caused the plague.”

    My plague example was flawed, in that I should have mentioned that the plague has been around for a long time, and any father who brings a baby into the world does so knowing that the baby will be exposed to the plague, just as any mother knows that a fetus will need her body to survive. In this case, I do think that a father has some responsibility for the child contracting the plague, even though he did not cause the plague. I don’t find it abhorrent at all to force him to fix the problem he helped cause.

    It’s strange to me the way you treat a bodily sacrifice as so different than a financial sacrifice. I assume you agree that the government should force people to make financial sacrifices for their children, yet you’re not okay with the government forcing people to make bodily sacrifices. I can’t see a meaningful difference between the two. Maybe this is not something we’ll be able to agree on.

    “Do you think it would be appropriate to require parents to be organ donors for their children or grandchildren?”

    The only case in which I would support such a requirement is if the parents somehow, magically, knew that the child would need them to be organ donors before conception occurred. In that case, the parents would be responsible for the child’s need of organs.

    “We don’t, for example, hold drivers responsible for accidents they had no way of preventing, because they could have chosen not to drive at all. But that’s the standard of responsibility that’s applied with abortion–just don’t have sex.”

    I think that if you layer on many different types of birth control, you can make pregnancy practically impossible. The problem is most of use aren’t willing to put that much effort into it because we’re okay with abortion. If I believed a zygote was equivalent to a person, I would fear pregnancy far more, and would use far more birth control methods.

    Thanks again for responding to my walls of text – it’s always cool when a blogger responds to comments. I’ve learned some things, even though I still disagree.

    • KellyK says:

      The only case in which I would support such a requirement is if the parents somehow, magically, knew that the child would need them to be organ donors before conception occurred. In that case, the parents would be responsible for the child’s need of organs.

      But there again, you’re applying a different standard to organ donation than to pregnancy. A person whose contraception fails did not magically know that they would become pregnant. Depending on the efficacy of the contraception, it may have been an extremely safe bet that they would not. Some contraception methods are over 99% effective, but there will always be some people in that fraction of a percent who are unlucky.

      Any person who has children knows that illnesses exist and that people sometimes need organs to survive. Most people also know that close family members are generally the best match.

      So, in both cases, there’s a potential negative future event and some fraction of a percent chance it’ll happen. Why is the pregnant person required to provide the use of their body and risk their life, while the person whose relative needs an organ is not?

      • Rosa says:

        not only did they not know not using contraception that specific time would make them pregnant, there’s no knowing going into a pregnancy what the negative effects will be. Some people have minimally dangerous pregnancies (though statistically, none is as safe as a legal abortion in this country). Some people have pregnancies that are life-threatening early on. Some people have risky pregnancies that turn out not to cause permanent damage. Some people have easy pregnancies and then suffer terrible injury giving birth. The risks change dramatically for many people over the course of a pregnancy. Many abortions are for wanted (or at least not feared) pregnancies, because situations change.

      • Alex says:

        “So, in both cases, there’s a potential negative future event and some fraction of a percent chance it’ll happen.”

        Yes, but in one case, the potential negative event is the only outcome for the fetus (abortion), while in the other case the fetus will most likely experience a very positive outcome (getting to live a normal life), with only a small chance of death (being denied organs). If you believe that fetuses have souls, then the first case will be unethical and the second will be ethical.

        Put another way, it’s ethical to give birth while planning to never sacrificing your organs for the child in the future. The child is getting a great deal out of that, because it most likely gets the gift of life, with just a small chance of death. It’s not, on the other hand, ethical to have sex while planning to abort any fetuses you accidentally create. The fetus is getting a terrible deal out of that, because it’s only outcome is abortion.

      • KellyK says:

        Abortion isn’t actually the only outcome for the fetus. Never existing at all is much more likely. Miscarriage is also a possibility.

        There’s also a small possibility that the pregnant person will decide to have the baby, and the larger possibility that they won’t be able to access an abortion.

        That doesn’t necessarily translate to a good outcome for the fetus, since people who are forced into parenthood aren’t necessarily good parents, and adoption can have its own trauma. (Adoptive parents can also be abusive.)

        So, if sex that you know can lead to a dead fetus or embryo is negligent, are women who have had miscarriages obligated to get their tubes tied so they don’t inadvertently kill off any embryos?

        I mean, I underwent fertility treatment that resulted in my *second* miscarriage. Should I go to jail for that? Or be forcibly sterilized?

      • KellyK says:

        I see also that you’ve shifted from “using multiple methods of conception is okay” to “no one who would have an abortion is allowed to ever have sex,” which is impressively draconian.

    • KellyK says:

      I think that if you layer on many different types of birth control, you can make pregnancy practically impossible. The problem is most of use aren’t willing to put that much effort into it because we’re okay with abortion. If I believed a zygote was equivalent to a person, I would fear pregnancy far more, and would use far more birth control methods.

      I don’t think that most people are lackadaisical about their birth control because they think abortion is okay.

      Actually, no, scratch that. *People who can get pregnant* are generally not lackadaisical about their birth control because they think abortion is okay. They’d still have to spend hundreds of dollars on it, even in states where it’s easily accessible. In a lot of places, getting an abortion requires taking multiple days off work, driving for hours, and staying overnight.

      People who can get *other people* pregnant, who generally believe that pregnancy is the woman’s responsibility and the woman’s problem can certainly be lackadaisical about birth control. But, because a lot of those people are, by definition, selfish jerks, banning or limiting abortion isn’t going to make them less selfish.

      From personal experience, as someone who used to be morally opposed to abortion and now is not, how careful I am about birth control has always been about whether I’d be okay with having a baby and how effective I think my choice of contraception is likely to be. That didn’t change when I became pro-choice. “Oh, well, I can just have an abortion,” has never entered into it.

    • KellyK says:

      It’s very hard to draw a line and say what is and isn’t negligent, but that doesn’t mean we should give up and just say anything goes. The law makes difficult choices about where to draw lines all the time. How much alcohol do you have to have in your blood to be considered impaired?

      A couple problems with this. It’s not “anything goes” to say that women are people with rights and not walking incubators whose health and lives can be thrown away for a fetus’s sake.

      Secondly, it’s actually relatively easy to determine how much alcohol makes someone a bad driver. You have people drive a controlled course and see how they do. Then you start giving them drinks and see when they start to have problems. (It’s been done on Mythbusters, but it could easily be done as a controlled experiment.)

      It’s a lot less easy to decide at what point a person with a uterus has been “careful enough” about sex. Contraception methods have different side effects and even different efficacy based on health conditions, other medications, and plenty of other factors. Not only that, but it’s really easy to prove someone’s blood alcohol level. There’s no blood test for wearing a condom. (Levels for hormonal contraception could probably be measured, but since people’s bodies vary, I’m not sure that those levels would correlate perfectly with a missed pill.)

      The other problem with comparing getting pregnant to drunk driving is that if someone carjacks you while you’re drunk, holding a gun to your head and forcing you to drive, you’re probably not going to be charged with drunk driving. But any laws restricting who can get an abortion based on how responsible they were are going to negatively impact rape victims.

    • KellyK says:

      Thanks again for responding to my walls of text – it’s always cool when a blogger responds to comments. I’ve learned some things, even though I still disagree.

      You’re welcome. It’s always good to be able to have a polite, friendly discussion even across disagreement. (It helps that we appear to be on the same side legally and just have different ideas about the moral underpinnings.)

  5. KellyK says:

    It’s strange to me the way you treat a bodily sacrifice as so different than a financial sacrifice. I assume you agree that the government should force people to make financial sacrifices for their children, yet you’re not okay with the government forcing people to make bodily sacrifices. I can’t see a meaningful difference between the two. Maybe this is not something we’ll be able to agree on.

    Your body is your body. It’s the most personal thing you have. I’m not sure how to explain how radically different that is from money.

    Pregnancy can kill you. It would be reprehensible (and counterproductive) for a government to require you to pay so much child support that you starve to death.

    • Rosa says:

      Amen, and thank you for this post in general. I am sick and tired of prolifers callously disregarding the trail of bodies they are creating, and insisting that a fetus has more rights than a born human being.

      I am still looking for an easier way to call out the people – like your other commenter – who want to talk about “what’s morally right” instead of what’s legal, as if the debate were not about legal limits on our lives and rights. If there were no move to legislate around abortion they could have their abstract moral arguments all day and no one would care. But every single one of these “moral” issues ends up on the legislative floor, at the expense of actual living breathing (or formerly living and breathing) people.

  6. […] You don’t get to talk about abortion unless […]

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