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bitflipper



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:16 pm    Post subject: Who decides? Reply with quote

in another subforum, Xanthë wrote:
the only specific gender role that really should have any differentiation is the one determined by biology, i.e. only people with uteruses can bear children, and they should have complete bodily autonomy over that issue.

I'm afraid I'm about to set off a shitstorm, here, and I really don't intend to. If I do so, then, I apologize now to the forums as a whole, and to Xanthë, in particular.

Xanthë, let me prelude my question by first stating that I have been impressed with both your reasoning and your ability to express yourself clearly since you've joined the Sinfest forums. I hope not to offer offense with what I am about to say.

I understand your statement to encompass the fact that a woman should have the final say in who has access to her body, when, and in what manner, and I agree with that, completely. My question is more to deal with the consequences of that choice, and whether autonomy is really appropriate, then.

Yes, I'm about to bring up abortion, and I hope I can do so in a manner that is thought-provoking instead of inflammatory.

Is a woman's autonomy as sacrosanct while she is pregnant and carrying a child to term, or, should not the father of the child-to-be also have a say in the matter?

For the purposes of this discussion, I wish to assume that said pregnancy is the result of consensual relations between adults. Whether or not it was the intended result of such, I do not consider germane; as adults able to consent to having sexual relations, both people would have been aware that pregnancy is a possible--even likely--outcome of having sex, and would have made their decision with that knowledge fully available to them as a factor in making such a choice, and with that knowledge having been taught to each of them plainly and clearly at some point in their lives prior to their consenting to have sex with each other.
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Sam



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The biological workload, risk, and toll of pregnancy is 100% borne by the female body — it is not shared equitably between the mother and the father.

Ultimately, that is the open-and-shut reason why it is a pregnant woman's decision, and her decision alone. Her body is the host for the pregnancy, and with it come the entirety of the associated health risks and biological hardship. Not fifty percent of it, not seventy percent, not anything short of one. hundred. percent. It is her body. It is her decision.
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Black Kitty



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sam wrote:
The biological workload, risk, and toll of pregnancy is 100% borne by the female body — it is not shared equitably between the mother and the father.

Ultimately, that is the open-and-shut reason why it is a pregnant woman's decision, and her decision alone. Her body is the host for the pregnancy, and with it come the entirety of the associated health risks and biological hardship. Not fifty percent of it, not seventy percent, not anything short of one. hundred. percent. It is her body. It is her decision.


This. Exactly. In better words than I could have even attempted.
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bitflipper



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is also his child.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But not his body that runs the risks of bearing a child. This is not an equitable situation, and as such someone's wishes will get shorted. You either give the father rights over a woman's body, and force upon her the risks associated with pregnancy, or he loses the right to input. Someone loses either way. Personally, I think a person's right to personal autonomy trumps my right to force her to have a child.
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Last edited by Dogen on Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Xanthë



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By way of initial reply, I’d like to point out that bitflipper has excerpted one phrase out of a longer argument which I’d like to quote at fuller length, and then I’ll say a few more things. I’m personally uncomfortable at wanting to discuss this issue at all, but I suppose as I did bring it up I only have myself to blame. However my views on the topic are firmly in the feminist mainstream.

Elsewhere, I wrote:
As you said, ‘the general idea if you are a feminist is that, in an ideal world, gender differences are not a thing’. The underlying biological differences between the group of male-bodied people and female-bodied people are small; there is more diversity within each group, than there are differences between the average of each group. So the usual social construction of genders that is built on top of that usually distributes gender rôles inequitably (for one egregious example, take the ‘men are good at math’ meme; my many women mathematics teachers would like to disagree with that): the only specific gender role that really should have any differentiation is the one determined by biology, i.e. only people with uteruses can bear children, and they should have complete bodily autonomy over that issue. All other gender roles are largely impositions thanks to culture, and while there might be good or inevitable cultural reasons why certain roles end up having gender imbalances, feminists think any person of any gender should be capable of and allowed to perform whatever societal role they wish to play. At the moment though, there are still barriers thrown up in the way of people of various genders to perform certain societal roles, and feminism would generally like all of these barriers to come down: one’s gender shouldn’t be a concern.


So, I am advancing the idea of bodily autonomy. People of all genders have a right to the integrity of their own body, and should be free from unwanted and undesirable impositions on their bodily autonomy. The mainstream feminist view on this is fairly consistent: adult people are normally judged as being emancipated and in charge of their own affairs, and medical decisions affecting their person are their own business, in consultation with their medical practitioners. This model is called informed consent, only a few adults have specific medical powers of attorney delegated away from themselves and to a relative, or spouse, or the state.

Politicians, religious clergy, and other professional busy bodies would very much like to have a say in how those consultations go, because of ideological or religious arguments, and many of the views that are currently in the media seem to suggest that they purport to a better understanding of what women* go through bearing children than the women do themselves. That’s all I wish to say about politics and religion unless it is wished for more attention to be drawn on those matter.

Pregnancy is a biological state, and therefore a medical issue. It has a non-zero morbidity, and has both life-altering and life-threatening potential for the woman concerned. It is never without some level of risk to the woman’s life. The person in the best position to judge those risks is the woman herself, in consultation with doctors giving advice on outcomes who are themselves under no outside pressures (see previous paragraph).

Given that pregnancy normally involves sexual activity that may not have had procreation as the intention, then I wouldn’t pretend for a minute that there aren’t considerations and consequences that have effects on other people, obviously so in the case of the person whose sperm was responsible for fertilisation. While I consider your point that the consequence of carrying a pregnancy successfully to full-term is a child who has to be parented by someone, I cannot really accept the gambit that this gives the father-to-be a say in the woman’s decision.

Sure if they’re consenting partners, then the woman will have plenty of time to hear about the father-to-be’s views on the subject, should the pregnancy progress. So we’re not talking about whether the father-to-be has has a right to be heard or not, and by the way, haven’t you noticed that pregnant women are heavily body policed: don’t drink alcohol, don’t smoke, don’t do this or that while you’re pregnant… do people think women are completely ignorant about this that they have to be told? (Sadly with the state of sex education in some parts of the world the answer may be yes, but it’s still not their business to point that out.) — That has nothing to do with whether he has an actual final say over someone else’s body — what you mentioned in the thread title as ‘who decides’. The short answer to that: he doesn’t.

The problem I have with the notion that the father-to-be can have a say and potentially override the woman’s own interests is that similar arguments are always being made to try and find exceptions when a woman’s autonomy should be undermined and her rights taken from her, because of such-and-such a contingency. The hypothetical examples that come out are numerous and often bizarre, but they all rely on the basic idea that if we find some really special exceptional circumstance then it makes it allowable to take the woman’s rights to her bodily autonomy away from her. And that opens the gate to slippery slope arguments, so that if that one exception is allowed, can we sneak in another… and another… and so on. So a lot of feminists naturally take issue with that gambit, and so the strong feminist position is that there are no grounds for undermining bodily autonomy.


Footnote:
* From this point onward, I will use the word women as a placeholder for the category of people under discussion, which is people with uteruses; not all women can become pregnant; not all people with uteruses self-identify gender-wise as women.

Postscript:

bitflipper wrote:
It is also his child.


No. Not until it’s viable outside her body, it isn’t. That point of viability is usually sometime in the third trimester. It’s a foetus, not a child.

If you want the father-to-be to have rights over a foetus, then gestate it in a box. Otherwise he doesn’t get a say over the woman’s body.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You bring up a good point which harkens back to the question of children seeking abortions without parental consent (which we don't need to get into here). If you have a good relationship with your partner, chances are that you will discuss it and try to take one another's wishes into account. But you can't force her to do what you want with her body. That's just wrong.
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Feiticeira



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bitflipper wrote:
It is also his child.


You forgot to bring the thought-provoking.

You're going to need a much better argument for allowing a man to overrule a woman's decision in this way than 'but it's his too!'
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Xanthë



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also by way of tangentially bringing Tatsuya’s comic on-topic: check out panel 10.

Women are not incubators, please don’t treat us like we are and say we don’t have the final say on what happens to our bodies.
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Adyon



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Xanthë wrote:
Sure if they’re consenting partners, then the woman will have plenty of time to hear about the father-to-be’s views on the subject, should the pregnancy progress. So we’re not talking about whether the father-to-be has has a right to be heard or not

Dogen wrote:
You bring up a good point which harkens back to the question of children seeking abortions without parental consent (which we don't need to get into here). If you have a good relationship with your partner, chances are that you will discuss it and try to take one another's wishes into account. But you can't force her to do what you want with her body. That's just wrong.

This...100%

I was going to post something along these lines, but it's pretty much covered above between Xanthe and Dogen.

I think Dogen addresses the concerns best though simply saying:
Dogen wrote:
Someone loses either way. Personally, I think a person's right to personal autonomy trumps my right to force her to have a child.

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Adyon



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Besides, you have to think of the domino affect if we started allowing control of the woman's body that then rapists and others will have a loophole they can exploit...and the woman would have to go through horrible situations like they have to to actually get a rapist put away only in this case simply to even have the right to their own body. The speculation and fear and blame people put on them of whether something is true or not.

*edit*
I guess Xanthe pretty much said this already in her last paragraph. I kind of missed it.
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Xanthë



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’d also like to add, as it is often left out of these discussions, that bearing children is a huge responsibility for people to take on in their lives, and in terms of consequences it is much more in the child’s interests that they have a parent or parents who will care for them and bring them up properly; that children are wanted. There are numerous reasons why the first word in Planned Parenthood is there — planned being better than unplanned! — which mainly derives from evidence-based study that society as a whole and people in general benefit most from women being in control of their fertility and not being slaves to their biology.

The fact there are adoptions, but seemingly there are always more children in want of adoption rather than there being a superfluity of parents willing to adopt them strongly suggests there is an actual societal problem with the unwanted consequences of pregnancy, and too often there is an insistence that pregnancies must be carried to term, with little emphasis on how the child is to be cared for until they reach adulthood. I have admiration for people who are parents, whether they are nurturing children who are biologically their own, or had a surrogate parent, or are adoptive parents, but that does not mean that everyone is willingly or suitable to be a parent, and I certainly don’t believe someone should be conscripted or coerced to be a parent against their will.

The main cases where a parent is unwillingly coerced in that way are where women have limited ability to seek out and obtain an abortion, and where men have contributed paternity but don’t wish to take responsibility (the MRA fantasies of sperm-jacking, or women deliberately causing contraceptive failure, are almost entirely mythical events). Both situations are far from ideal, and removing women’s rights to choose help neither.

PS Oh, and Adyon, don’t worry about having missed the same point I made — it was a long comment and there was quite a bit in it. Smile


Last edited by Xanthë on Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:17 am; edited 1 time in total
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mouse



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

well, geez, dogen, just come in and make the perfect argument, why don't you? that's what _i_ was going to say.

i could add that there is a whole range of consensual sexual activity - anything from a one-night stand to a firmly committed marriage where both partners strongly want a child....the consequences, and burdens, of pregnancy are very different for both the man and the woman in all those different cases. so there's no way you can make a hard-and-fast rule - other than, the one whose body will be taken over for 9 months gets to make the final call.
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mouse



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Xanthë wrote:
too often there is an insistence that pregnancies must be carried to term, with little emphasis on how the child is to be cared for until they reach adulthood.


yes - there are certain people who will fight to the death for a child's right to life, right up until the moment of birth...after that, the kids are on their own. pro-life should mean caring about a person's entire life - including giving them the resources to determine whether or not they bring other lives into existence.
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bitflipper



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Xanthë wrote:
Politicians, religious clergy, and other professional busy bodies would very much like to have a say in how those consultations go, because of ideological or religious arguments, and many of the views that are currently in the media seem to suggest that they purport to a better understanding of what women* go through bearing children than the women do themselves. That’s all I wish to say about politics and religion unless it is wished for more attention to be drawn on those matter.

I'm in agreement with you, there. I'll listen to the alleged words of a god when that god is willing to show up in court and testify on its own behalf. And as for politicians, they all too often seem to forget that their job is to listen to their constituency instead of the other way around.

Xanthë wrote:
Pregnancy is a biological state, and therefore a medical issue. ... While I consider your point that the consequence of carrying a pregnancy successfully to full-term is a child who has to be parented by someone, I cannot really accept the gambit that this gives the father-to-be a say in the woman’s decision.

and
Dogen wrote:
This is not an equitable situation, and as such someone's wishes will get shorted.

Good points, with which I cannot entirely disagree.
Dogen wrote:
You either give the father rights over a woman's body, and force upon her the risks associated with pregnancy, or he loses the right to input.
It is this with which I disagree; there is a point between the extremes of "it's solely her choice" and "it's solely his choice" that needs to be sought and considered.

Yes, indeed, the woman is who is facing the risks of pregnancy. But hers is the body that is at all equipped to do so, also.

She bears, iniquitously, more risk, but there is more to be considered, here, than simply risk. There is also the outcome. Is anyone willing to claim that there are no men who would look forward to the prospect of raising their children? (Probably so; this is the internet, after all. But, such a person can expect not to be taken at all seriously, if not outright rudely dismissed.)

But, just because a situation is iniquitous does not make it unilateral. A 10% stockholder in a company bears iniquitous risk compared to a 40% stockholder, which is why the 10% holder has less voice in the running of that company. But, he still has some voice. He also has less potential for return, too, compared to the 40% holder (which may be where the analogy fails; I maintain that there is no percentage of return on raising a child to be split between the parents.)

Xanthë wrote:
The problem I have with the notion that the father-to-be can have a say and potentially override the woman’s own interests is that similar arguments are always being made to try and find exceptions when a woman’s autonomy should be undermined and her rights taken from her, because of such-and-such a contingency. The hypothetical examples that come out are numerous and often bizarre, but they all rely on the basic idea that if we find some really special exceptional circumstance then it makes it allowable to take the woman’s rights to her bodily autonomy away from her. And that opens the gate to slippery slope arguments, so that if that one exception is allowed, can we sneak in another… and another… and so on. So a lot of feminists naturally take issue with that gambit, and so the strong feminist position is that there are no grounds for undermining bodily autonomy.
While I agree that such strawmanning and cherry-picking does happen, far too often, I do not believe that's what we are doing, here. We're not discussing an uncommon, unusual, criminal, or otherwise exceptional scenario, here; we're discussing a pregnancy resulting from consensual sex, and whether or not the father-to-be has any further input into that pregnancy than his sperm. And, if so, to what degree he has such input.

This, also, to my mind, addresses the false objection of a man trying to impose a child upon a woman; I specifically stated that the pregnancy resulted from consensual sex between adults who had been plainly and clearly taught that pregnancy is a likely consequence of sex. We're not talking about--nor in any way advocating--rape in this discussion.

Xanthë wrote:
Postscript:

bitflipper wrote:
It is also his child.


No. Not until it’s viable outside her body, it isn’t. That point of viability is usually sometime in the third trimester. It’s a foetus, not a child.

If you want the father-to-be to have rights over a foetus, then gestate it in a box. Otherwise he doesn’t get a say over the woman’s body.
But a foetus is, at the very least, a future child. As such, it represents a great potential for both the mother-to-be and the father-to-be. These people could expect to be compensated if, by some third party's decision, they are deprived of other real and substantial potential for gain (take a look at copyright law or tort law, for a couple examples.) Why, then, should a father-to-be be powerless when deciding the fate of a potential as great as a child?

There is also, I believe, a very undesirable consequence of removing the father-to-be's responsibility in this choice. It also absolves him of considering anything in deciding whether or not to have sex with a woman other than his own pleasure and his own health. After all, until he's actually presented with a child, he has no say in the consequences, right? This, I believe, is not an implication many of us would prefer to endorse.

Pregnancy is not a self-induced state. Even the woman who opts to be fertilized by an anonymous sperm donor cannot provide the sperm herself. As such, there is already a requirement that a father-to-be be involved somewhere. If the decision was shared to impregnate her, why shouldn't the decision also be shared when it comes to handling the consequences of that first choice?

In practicality, I can see that it never actually will be. No man will ever be able to stop a woman from choosing entirely of her own to seek an abortion without considering what loss it may be causing him. He will only be able to say, after the fact, "But, it was my child, too." And that is no more fair than the fact that it is the woman who can bear the child nor that it is the woman who faces the risks attendant upon pregnancy. But we all know the one thing that life notoriously isn't, don't we?
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