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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

watch it: “Sean James and Al Joyner respond to the Tebow Super Bowl ad”

A special bonus Super Bowl Sunday Web Video of the Day — a Planned Parenthood response to the Tim Tebow anti-abortion ad that will be airing during the game:


Trusting women? Radicals! Socialists! Terrorists! Everyone knows we can’t trust women. As soon as we start letting women have autonomy over their own bodies, it’ll be mass chaos! Rioting in the streets! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!

(via Jezebel)



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  • Patrick

    So, be good for goodness sakes! Woooooah, Jesus is coming!

  • Chris

    I agree, we should just trust matters of life and death up to the individuals who make such decicions, lest we become entangled in pesky moral and legal issues like “murder” and “human rights”. Or rather, just some of the individuals. We don’t need to go down that compicated road where fathers have any rights, or, god-forbid, the children themselves! Seriously, next we’ll be holding people accountable for their own actions and taking individual and social responsibility for ourselves! That’s just absurd! I also completely agree that this issue really just boils down to a simple women’s rights problem, and anyone who denies a woman the right to murder her own baby is obviously sexist!

  • CB

    You’re right. It’s really all about accountability and individual responsibility. And accountability apparently means losing control of one’s reproductive rights.

    At least, if you’re a woman.

    If you’re a man, irresponsibly fathering an unwanted child means you should have the right to force the mother to bear it against her wishes. That’s accountability.

    The sexism inherent in your stance is obvious. Simplifying the entire spectrum of pregnancy termination from destruction of a zygote on up using the emotionally charged word “murder” doesn’t really cover it up. Sorry.

  • Chris

    If you’re a man, irresponsibly fathering an unwanted child means you should have the right to force the mother to bear it against her wishes. That’s accountability.

    Simplifying the entire spectrum of pregnancy termination from destruction of a zygote on up using the emotionally charged word “murder” doesn’t really cover it up. Sorry.

    You raise the usual arguments, including the straw-man of how men are irresponsible sex machines who essentially rape any woman they encounter then force them to bear children. Your argument doesn’t allow for responsible men who take parenthood seriously and want to do the right thing for their children. Of course men are more able to act irresponsibly without the physical burden of pregancy, but that doesnt mean we can use this false generalisation in public debate and law-making.

    Bur really, this debate is complex and involves a number of sensative issues. For me, it really hinges on one real issue: the definition of humanity. Here we have a “woman’s right to reproduce” vs. “a foetus’ right to life”. If we equate “foetus” with “person” we have a problem, because “rights to life” almost always trump everything else.

    So we decide a foetus isn’t a person. There are many arguments for where this arbitary distinction occurs and the reasoning behind making it. These could inlcude an inability to feel pain, surivive outside the womb etc. etc. Unfortunately this puts proponents of this view into a “human-rights-relitavist” camp, declairing the distinction between human and not to be based on our faculties or abillities. Should the mentally or physically disabled be denied the right to life? Or a 7-month old infant? Or the elderly? Of course not. Our definition of humanity itself is on the line here, which is what makes this debate so important.

    Of course we could debate the abortion issue here all we want, but it’s a bit off topic. My problem with this and the original ad, heck the entire debate in general, is how black-and-white it is, with both sides sacrificing their principles to support their stance. Neither advert has any place in the middle of a football game, because although they may spark important debate on the subject, they provide a shoddy framework within which to do so.

    This particular ad seems to be directed at a male audience, with the message that we should “trust women” on this topic. It brandies about the word “women” as if all women agree and form this one little group. The problem here is “women” are just “people”. This is not just a “woman’s” issue, it is a human issue and the bussiness of every member of our global adult community.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Ultimately, I found the Tebow ad to be rather weak, reaffirming to the devoutly pro-life, unlikely to change many minds. They tell a cute story, an anecdote that has fuck all to do with whether non-medically indicated abortion should be legal. So she went against medical advice, given because women in her situation have a nasty habit of dying, and was fortunate. So what? Meanwhile, regardless of public opinion or policy, other women may be given false hope and die needlessly, while women who chose differently are being made to feel guilty. I sincerely hope we get to hear a few of them loudly declare, “Fuck you, Mrs. Tebow!”

    And while I’m on a rant, Chris, don’t toss out logical inconsistencies (we need laws restricting human behavior so that people will take responsibility for their behavior?) and emotional firebombs (like “…anyone who denies a woman the right to murder her own baby is obviously sexist!”), and then turn around and claim some kind of rational impartiality, or that the discussion is suddenly “off-topic”. If that’s what you think, that abortion equals murder, then defend that position, don’t be a fucking coward about it.

  • CB

    You raise the usual arguments, including the straw-man of how men are irresponsible sex machines who essentially rape any woman they encounter then force them to bear children. Your argument doesn’t allow for responsible men who take parenthood seriously and want to do the right thing for their children.

    Lol, no, I’m just taking your line about the rights of fathers at face value. I’m assuming the common case, that an unwanted pregnancy is an act of irresponsibility on both parties. “Responsibility” for the woman, and “rights” for the man, both clearly mean that the woman has the baby even if she doesn’t want to.

    What about the responsible man who wants to do the right thing for their children… by having them only when the time is right, even if an accident occurs?

    Of course men are more able to act irresponsibly without the physical burden of pregancy

    We’re not talking about a physical burden, we’re talking about control over one’s own organs.

    Bur really, this debate is complex and involves a number of sensative issues. For me, it really hinges on one real issue: the definition of humanity.

    Oh so now nuance is important.

    Look, the definition of “human” and “not-human” is never going to be pinned down. It’s a fools errand, and the desire for such binary classification is a human desire that nature has very little interest in satisfying. So making that the ultimate determiner for when abortion is acceptable is never going to work.

    However just like many things where boundaries are imprecise, you can say when things clearly fall well to one side or the other. In one direction, a zygote is definitely not a person, and if you think the “day-after pill” is murder then fine but I don’t think that’s rational. On the other hand, a born baby is clearly a person, and for at least a couple months before then it strikes me as very dangerous ground. But those abortions are illegal, so there you go.

    Besides, this legality-by-definition approach avoids all the other factors that reasonably should be considered. “Right to life” is usually but by no means always the trump card even for a fully developed baby. Many decisions are made in natal care that end up making sacrifices. These decisions are tough. They also do not need to be regulated by people who use definitions as the sole determining factor.

    This particular ad seems to be directed at a male audience, with the message that we should “trust women” on this topic. It brandies about the word “women” as if all women agree and form this one little group.

    Who cares if all women agree? What matters is what the specific woman involved thinks, not what women think in general. The problem, though, is that many men don’t trust women in general to make choices about their own bodies, and ergo want to regulate what choices they can make. “Trust women” is simply trying to counter that. You have to think women are as worthy of trust, in general, as men before you can respect an individual woman’s choice.

  • misterb

    As it turns out, much ado about nothing .. The Tebow ad that actually aired was completely inconsequential; if I hadn’t read the tag at the end, I wouldn’t have had any idea it was pro-life.

    I don’t mean to dismiss the very emotional issues involved – just to return them to their rightful venues.

  • Chris

    CB:

    “Responsibility” for the woman, and “rights” for the man, both clearly mean that the woman has the baby even if she doesn’t want to.

    We’re not talking about a physical burden, we’re talking about control over one’s own organs.

    You have to think women are as worthy of trust, in general, as men before you can respect an individual woman’s choice.

    I believe in both equal rights and responsibilities for both genders. A man is as responsible for an unwanted pregnancy as a woman. I also believe in an individual’s rights over their own body and a responsibility of parents for their children. This responsibility for a child is equal between parents, as it is under law. This is where a definition of a person becomes important, because if a zygote, foetus or child is it’s own person it has it’s own rights to it’s own body. While a mother has rights to her body, this does not encompass her child’s. If however it is not a person, it falls under the definition of the mother’s body and into her sphere of rights. In law and in social issues, definitions like these are very significant.

    Look, the definition of “human” and “not-human” is never going to be pinned down. […]a born baby is clearly a person, and for at least a couple months before then it strikes me as very dangerous ground. But those abortions are illegal, so there you go.

    Besides, this legality-by-definition approach avoids all the other factors that reasonably should be considered.

    Without using definitions, I’m very curious to hear your case for how a born baby is “clearly” a person.

    Dr. Rocketscience:

    And while I’m on a rant, Chris, don’t toss out logical inconsistencies (we need laws restricting human behavior so that people will take responsibility for their behavior?)

    I never actually put it that way, but are you saying you find individual and social rights and responsibilities a logical inconsistency? I don’t believe we need laws to make people take responsibility for their actions. Laws are just widely enforced social agreements we make with each other. What’s important is the content and reasons for those agreements. In areas of broad disagreement such as this, society breaks down.

    […]and emotional firebombs (like “…anyone who denies a woman the right to murder her own baby is obviously sexist!”), and then turn around and claim some kind of rational impartiality, or that the discussion is suddenly “off-topic”.

    OK, I agree that entire post was needlessly sarcastic and emotionally charged, but it was my immediate response to MAJ’s sarcastic, emotionally charged commentary to this advert in the first place. (Although I did fail to quote Ghostbusters. Despite a difference of opinion on this topic, this is why I do enjoy reading MA’s blog!) Now, I never said this discussion was “off-topic” but rather “a bit off-topic”. To clarify: The subject of MA’s post and this comments section is this super-bowl ad, but as their subject is the abortion debate, it is not entirely off-topic to raise and discuss these issues, but the real topic is the ad. I can’t see how you took “impartiality” from my comments, I clearly have a pov, but I am open to polite discussion. My concern here would be that an epic abortion discussion is not best suited to the comments section on a film blog.

    If that’s what you think, that abortion equals murder, then defend that position, don’t be a fucking coward about it.

    I really don’t think it’s necessary to swear or make personal attacks, nor is it really appropriate in this context. I am happy to “defend my position”, but the aim of good debate is not victory as in a war, it’s agreement. Usually in a well spoken, intelligent debate both sides will concede something before such agreement is reached, while almost never will you find one where one side destroys the other utterly.

  • Bluejay

    If anyone’s interested in reading the human stories on both sides of this debate, I highly recommend the “It’s So Personal” discussions that have taken place on Andrew Sullivan’s blog, The Daily Dish. This article, and this one, provide links to several of those posts.

  • CB

    I believe in both equal rights and responsibilities for both genders. A man is as responsible for an unwanted pregnancy as a woman.

    But what does “equal rights” mean in the context of a pregnancy? I can’t see what rights and responsibilities for the man mean in the context of your position other than the man has the right/responsibility to prevent termination of a pregnancy.

    I believe in equal rights too, but it’s just an unavoidable fact of biology that the woman has the womb. So the only way to give “equal rights” in a pregnancy is to give the man some degree of rights over someone else’s body, a right that is in no way reciprocated. So that’s inherently unequal.

    Without using definitions, I’m very curious to hear your case for how a born baby is “clearly” a person.

    It’s like I said. You can’t have a precise, binary definition where you draw a precise line, because that line doesn’t exist and “humanity” isn’t binary. Once you accept that there will always be a significant grey area, you can have cases that clearly fall on one side or the other. Bundle of undifferentiated cells: Not a human. Baby breathing air and pooping: human. The precise moment between these two places where the bundle of cells becomes a person: non-existent.

    But it’s in that area between where all the controversy lies, so by saying you think it’s all about definition, this necessarily means the definition must define where in the gray area the line exists. But it doesn’t exist. So it’s a fool’s errand.

    While a mother has rights to her body, this does not encompass her child’s.

    Explain how you can assert the rights of an unborn child on their behalf without taking away a mother’s rights to her body.

    OK, I agree that entire post was needlessly sarcastic and emotionally charged, but it was my immediate response to MAJ’s sarcastic, emotionally charged commentary to this advert in the first place.

    Yeah well you cranked up the emotional garbage to 11 I’ll tell you that. Plus it’s funny that the thing MAJ sarcastically suggested was outrageous is something you actually took issue with in the ad.

    If anyone’s interested in reading the human stories on both sides of this debate, I highly recommend the “It’s So Personal” discussions that have taken place on Andrew Sullivan’s blog, The Daily Dish.

    Thanks Bluejay. And it’s because of the personal nature of the issue that I also find the concept of legality-by-a-priori-definition to be inadequate.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Sorry, Chris, I’m having trouble hearing all of your carefully worded arguments over the echoing sound of you screaming “murder”.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Yes, thank you, Bluejay. On of the most pernicious myths on the “pro-life” side is that, left their own devices, women will abort at 8 months all the time and use it as “convenient” birth control. Read Bluejay’s link, and you’ll find that late-term abortions are incredibly rare AND they are almost always people who want the child, but are forced to abort due to illness, etc. It is a deeply personal issue I’ve never seen anyone treat in a cavalier manner.
    And “abortion-as-birth-control” just makes no sense. Abortion is invasive and, most of all, EXPENSIVE! Most women I know would leave it as a last resort. There are many cheaper, less painful contreceptives out there.
    Just goes to show how truly stupid people like Chris think we women are. It’s insulting.

    I would be more sympathetic to the “pro-life” side if they weren’t also against sex ed and contraception. Plus, they are part of the camp that votes down socially progressive measures like affordable state child care, paid maternity/paternity leave, and public health care. So, have that baby, lady, but you’re on your own!

    So, then the real ugly “pro-life” agenda becomes clear: punishing women for being filthy sluts. Think about it. They are against measures to PREVENT pregnancy. But they are against measures to perhaps make it easier for poor women to want to carry a baby to term and raise it.

    “Well, if you were a proper married lady with a proper husband, you wouldn’t have this problem, would you? And all you unmarried poor women/teenagers/etc, you filthy sluts must be punished for daring to have sex!”

    That being said, I think there are some pro-lifers with good intentions. But that seedy, misogynistic underbelly will always be a part of the pro-life movement. That’s why, although abortion is personally something I would hesitate to ever do, I am pro-choice.

  • JoshB

    This is a strange experience for me. 99% of the time I don’t give the slightest damn what people think of me, and that certainly holds true on the internet. I’ve even expressed my thoughts on this very subject several times, getting kicked out of the social liberal club in the process, without being bothered. But here there’s enough people whose opinions I respect and who I know disagree with me vehemently that this is actually nerve-wracking to post. I guess I’d feel like a giant chickenshit if I didn’t fess up.

    It’s uncomfortable partly because the pro-choice side makes a lot of very valid points. It’s true that the burden of unwanted pregnancy is huge and rests disproportionally and unfairly on women’s shoulders. It’s also true that people should be able to make choices about their own body.

    There’s a part of me that wishes I could just leave it at that, but I can’t bend my logic to accommodate abortion. It requires as Chris said that you draw an arbitrary line where on one side a person isn’t really a person. It’s circle logic: abortion is ok, therefore a fetus isn’t a human life, and if a fetus isn’t human then abortion is ok.

    Explain how you can assert the rights of an unborn child on their behalf without taking away a mother’s rights to her body.

    You can’t. The core supposition of the pro-life position is that the right to life is the foundational right that outweighs all others.

  • CB

    There’s a part of me that wishes I could just leave it at that, but I can’t bend my logic to accommodate abortion. It requires as Chris said that you draw an arbitrary line where on one side a person isn’t really a person.

    No it doesn’t. That’s only required when you want to base the entire issue around the developmental status of the fetus in order to make a clear line beyond which abortion can be cleanly labeled “murder” and thus unacceptable.

    It is also possible to acknowledge that the entire issue of “personhood” is impossible to define and involves huge gray area, and to feel that the decision of whether or not abortion is acceptable involves more issues than the developmental status of the baby.

    It’s circle logic: abortion is ok, therefore a fetus isn’t a human life, and if a fetus isn’t human then abortion is ok.

    So you’re implying that pro-choice people only think aborting a fetus isn’t murder because it’s convenient logic? Like, if they didn’t want to abort babies they’d see it the same as you? Please.

    A zygote isn’t a human life, ergo abortion is okay. There’s no circular logic outside of your imagination. And the transition from okay to not okay is not binary.

    You can’t. The core supposition of the pro-life position is that the right to life is the foundational right that outweighs all others.

    Exactly! Which is why pro-life require the arbitrary line, so they can say “At this point, the mother’s rights no longer matter at all as they are outweighed by the child’s”.

    This binary thinking is a problem with your logic, not with the pro-choice worldview. The world is not binary. “Personhood” most surely is not.

  • JoshB

    It is also possible to acknowledge that the entire issue of “personhood” is impossible to define and involves huge gray area…The world is not binary. “Personhood” most surely is not.

    Nonsense, you yourself have defined it in this very thread. You say that a born baby is definitely a person, so you must have drawn a line somewhere. If you allow for abortion then that line must be binary, unless you’ve found a way to perform a “gray area” sort-of-abortion.

    Like, if they didn’t want to abort babies they’d see it the same as you?

    If they didn’t want to justify abortion then they wouldn’t think about it at all. How many times have you pondered the personhood of a fetus outside the context of abortion?

  • Bluejay

    It’s a very difficult issue, JoshB. If you haven’t yet, I wonder if reading the very personal stories on Andrew Sullivan’s blog might do anything to alter (or reaffirm) your perspective. Sullivan himself is Catholic and pro-life (and remains so, I think), but after reading stories like this and many others he admits:

    I have to say I am beginning to believe that these abortions, given their excruciating moral and personal choices, may be the most defensible in context of all abortions. And yet they seem to be taking life in a more viscerally distressing way. I need time to think and rethink these things. I would not have without reading these extraordinary accounts.

    Thanks for speaking up. I’m pro-choice, and I for one don’t think any less of you. Like Accounting Ninja, I have objections to the tactics and inconsistencies of the pro-life movement, but that doesn’t mean people can’t have genuinely strong feelings about the fact of abortion itself. It’s hard for a lot of people to think clearly about, or to analyze as logically and dispassionately as you and CB are doing. I suspect that even if people recognize valid points from the opposing side, they’d find it hard to change their emotional responses. I think the debate could benefit from both sides refraining from demonizing each other.

  • JoshB

    Thanks Bluejay. I don’t think any less of pro-choicers either, because I recognize that your position comes not from baby-killing frenzy but from a desire to solve very real problems.

    I wonder if reading the very personal stories on Andrew Sullivan’s blog might do anything to alter (or reaffirm) your perspective

    I looked over it briefly. My own thinking has always been that an exception for the mother’s safety is a requirement for being genuinely pro-life as opposed to, in the words of George Carlin, anti-woman.

  • CB

    Nonsense, you yourself have defined it in this very thread. You say that a born baby is definitely a person, so you must have drawn a line somewhere.

    As I keep trying to explain, no.

    I have simply stated cases that I feel clearly fall into one category or the other. That doesn’t mean I have defined exactly where the boundary line between categories occurs, nor is it necessary that I’ve done so. Also, it’s impossible because the line doesn’t exist. So all I’m saying is that the transition occurs between zygote and newborn.

    For another example, take life and death. Defining the exact boundary between life and death is similarly a fool’s errand, as is shown each time someone goes farther into what we think of as “death” but then is brought back. Yet, I am quite certain that you are alive as of the time of your last posting, and I’m quite certain that Abraham Lincoln is dead. I can be certain of this without knowing precisely where the boundary between life and death lies. Do you see?

    This happens all the time in biology. Every time we try to create rigid categories, we find something that happily straddles the imaginary boundary we created in our heads.

    This is because nature is not binary. Trying to think of it as such is to limit your thinking and fail to understand the world. To insist that binary is the only valid way to think is to do this to yourself deliberately.

    If you allow for abortion then that line must be binary, unless you’ve found a way to perform a “gray area” sort-of-abortion.

    Again only for those who think binary human/non-human classification is the only thing that matters. Meaning you, the binary thinker.

    For me, it’s just not that simple. Sure, a zygote is clearly not a person to me, and neither is an embryo. As the embryo becomes a fetus it starts to become gray, but at every step there are also the health and desires of the mother to consider. By the time we get into what feels like dangerous ground later in the pregnancy, it becomes an even more difficult decision. But at this point the only people who are getting abortions are ones who wanted the baby but who are having serious complications.

    Seriously, read the article Bluejay linked and tell me it’s a black and white “is the fetus human/not-human” issue.

    If they didn’t want to justify abortion then they wouldn’t think about it at all. How many times have you pondered the personhood of a fetus outside the context of abortion?

    Oh several times after I learned about the process of pregnancy and before I cared about politics.

    But that’s besides the point. The point is, what I just quoted, even taken as completely true, in no way implies that the only reason anyone thinks abortion isn’t murder is that they’ve a-priori decided it can’t be.

    Again, look at the people who are actually getting abortions late in the pregnancy when the issues of the fetus’ status get hairier. They aren’t women who wanted to get abortions, and therefore decided their baby can’t be a person. It was an agonizing decision for them with serious consequences to consider on both sides.

    Your simplistic binary thinking does them a disservice, just as it does to every woman who thought long and hard about aborting a two week old bundle of cells.

  • JoshB

    Sure, a zygote is clearly not a person to me, and neither is an embryo. As the embryo becomes a fetus it starts to become gray

    Here you’re dealing in abstractions. It’s binary because abortion itself is binary.

    If you get to use an unrelated example (alive or dead) to illuminate your point then so do I. In transistor logic voltages exist in a continuous gray area, but if the voltage is somewhat above 0 or below 1 then the transistor will round down or up accordingly. Abortion is like this because there is no partway on abortion.

    If according to your thinking a fetus is .85 on the personhood scale then it should be .15 on the OKness of abortion scale, but since we’re dealing with physical reality and not abstractions that .15 has to get rounded to full abortion or no abortion.

  • Let’s also remember that a born baby can survive independently of the mother, therefore, it is no longer just a part of her internal organs. I think that’s how most people come to assign the baby its humanity. The issue gets hairier when we talk about fetuses in the third trimester, because for much of that time, the fetuses could very well survive outside the womb.
    JoshB, believe me, the very thought of a late term abortion makes my insides hurt. BUT, I trust women. This is huge. Either I believe they will do the best they can do and make the best choices they can, or I don’t. I had to wade through a lot of cultural garbage to arrive here, and I realized that so many of my misgivings about abortion rights came from my learned distrust of “those” women who would get them.
    I no longer get stuck on the “viability line”, where it’s Abortion=OKAY here, but Abortion=EVIL there. Like CB says, it’s a grey area that will never be solved, like “what is consciousness”?
    It is just as simple as giving women the tools to take care of themselves and trusting them to do that.
    I just can’t stand all the woman-hating lies on the “pro-life” side. Even the name “pro-life” irks me, because of the unspoken assumption that we on the other side are “pro-death”.

  • JoshB

    This really should have been part of my last post, but oh well…

    If according to your thinking a fetus is .85 on the personhood scale then it should be .15 on the OKness of abortion scale, but since we’re dealing with physical reality and not abstractions that .15 has to get rounded to full abortion or no abortion.

    So then what CB? Is .5 personhood ok or not? Let me guess, it’s a gray area. That means, in effect it’s ok. .5 rounds up to 1.

    What about .75? Gray area? Rounds up to 1.

    .99?

    At some point there is a line. If you say that .99 is a gray area, then that line exists at 1.

    JoshB, believe me, the very thought of a late term abortion makes my insides hurt. BUT, I trust women.

    I guess then you force me to say that I don’t. But women are in good company. I don’t trust men either. I don’t trust the state to execute criminals. I don’t even trust myself. I can’t wrap my head around voluntarily ending a life.

    I know you see it differently Ninja. That’s why I would never call you a murderer or babykiller. I just…I don’t really know how to say it. And I’m late for real life stuff.

  • CB

    Here you’re dealing in abstractions. It’s binary because abortion itself is binary.

    Abortion is binary, the issues that go into whether or not it is “okay” are not, and never will be no matter how much it simplifies things for you.

    If according to your thinking a fetus is .85 on the personhood scale then it should be .15 on the OKness of abortion scale, but since we’re dealing with physical reality and not abstractions that .15 has to get rounded to full abortion or no abortion.

    Except I continue to reject the notion that “fetus personhood ratio” is the only thing that matters — as do you, because you make an exception for the mother’s health and thus are commendably “pro-life” instead of “anti-woman”.

    Already black-and-white thinking is shown to be inadequate!

    So when you combine all the issues that go into the decision, it is clear that the answer is more complicated than Round(1 – PersonhoodRatio).

    Frankly I dislike even discussing these issues in mathematical terms. As if you could ever actually quantify any of these factors so you could then “round”. Seriously. You appear to accept that “personhood” is not a binary quantity. Can you now accept that it is as best qualitative, not quantitative?

    And yet you want to codify these factors into law?

    But okay, fine, I accept that desire. But I am curious. In addition to “health of mother”, is there an “‘baby’ is a blastocyte, the kind that frequently dies before the mother ever knows they are pregnant” exception as well? Do you ever “round up” on the Okay-ness scale?

  • Bluejay

    This happens all the time in biology. Every time we try to create rigid categories, we find something that happily straddles the imaginary boundary we created in our heads.

    Not sure if this is relevant to the discussion, but this comment reminds me of something I read about the “fluidity” of species transitions that isn’t reflected in the scientific classifications. At what point does the last direct female ancestor of Homo sapiens give birth to the first baby Homo sapiens? That boundary just isn’t clear-cut, and probably doesn’t exist at all.

    Wish I could remember where I read that. Probably Richard Dawkins.

  • CB

    Let me guess, it’s a gray area. That means, in effect it’s ok.

    No it doesn’t! It means the issues is more complicated than an automatic mathematical “yes/no” choice. It doesn’t mean I think the result is never “unacceptable”. Because I certainly do. 3rd trimester when there’s no health issue for baby or mother would be a general example.

    At some point there is a line. If you say that .99 is a gray area, then that line exists at 1.

    You’re still stuck on defining the undefinable and quantifying the unquantifiable!

    No, there is no mathematical point at which the decision transitions. Because there’s no way to treat every situation as though it exists on a linear scale.

    Even if for the sake of argument I accepted “Abortion Okayness = 1 – Fetus Personhood Ratio” as a valid way of judging, it would still be useless because science can’t define “FetusPersonhood” in a way that can be measured, so certainly neither can you!

    There’s no hard line on when a fetus becomes a person, so there’s no hard line on when abortion becomes “not okay”. Certainly not one reliable enough such that you can decide for other people what the result is in all cases.

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