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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Valuing fetuses?

Ugh. I didn't want to get involved in this discussion over Frances Kissling's exhortion to assign a value to a fetus, a dubious proposition that will get us into nit-picking over which woman counts more than her fetus and which does not. Ampersand deals with it, as does Jessica at Feministing.

To make my position extremely clear--if I thought a fetus was a baby, I would balk at abortion. That's why I have problems with late-term abortion, though I don't think it should be made illegal because women tend to get them only if it's a matter of absolute necessity. It's not a baby. I am well-acquainted with babies, and they are not the size of fingernail clippings.

People who believe that fetuses are babies have their own reasons which range from religious exhortations to believe that something that doesn't look anything like a baby is a baby to deciding that the male contribution to baby-making is the one that makes it a baby because of religion. While I make no bones about my belief that these views are pushed forward by a male-dominated religious establishment for self-serving reasons, you are free to believe what you'd like.

But when I hear people like Kissling tell us to assign "value" to a fetus, I get all bent out of shape. It reminds me of all those exhortions to Democrats to learn the meaning of "morality", even though it's been predominantly Democrats who argue that discrimination and military adventures that kill living, breathing, feeling people for the benefit of the very wealthy are immoral. No, we have to give in a little, pay some fake tribute to the bullshit belief that they height of morality is peeking in your neighbors' windows to make sure that the pee-pee is being put in the right hole. I'm sick of it.

There's nothing moral about lying about what you believe in terms of baby-making. It's not a freaking baby. Forcing me to say it's half a baby for political expedience is just a step to getting me to admit that a pinpoint cluster of cells has more fucking rights than a woman with memories and future if the wingnuts will let her have it. It's not a baby. God doesn't exist as far as I'm concerned. Jesus probably did and if he saw people killing in his name while weeping over some man-on-man anal sex, he would probably go bananas. Get...a...grip.

I am particularly weirded out over the notion that if we could take a fetus out of its mother and stick it in an incubator, that would change things. Not really. Once we have that technology, we'll also be able to harvest sperm and eggs from men and women, make test tube babies, and grown them in incubators. Should we do that because we can? Because more potential lives can be lived? No more than you should fuck every night without birth control to make sure no potential life is missing its chance.

The death knell to the pro-choice movement was giving into the idea that abortion shouldn't be "birth control". What the hell is it, then? It's not the preferred form of birth control, but that's what it is. Throwing yourself off a bridge if pregnant is a form of birth control, for god's sake. We are allowing the connotation that "birth control" means "convienent" overrule the actual meaning of the word. Birth control means controlling birth. Remember that when you hear the phrase that abortion shouldn't be used as birth control. That's one of those brillant oxymoronic phrases that marketers are so good at crafting that override your sense of reason. When people say that abortion shouldn't be used as birth control, remind them that they meant that abortion shouldn't be a primary method of birth control. Which is almost never is.

Contraception means preventing conception. That's different. These distinctions are also deliberately blurred so that contraceptive methods can be passed off they the anti-choice movement as post-conception birth control, i.e., abortion. Now we have contraceptive methods like emergency CONTRACEPTION and the birth control pill being passed off as abortion methods.

And most importantly, abortion doesn't mean killing anything. It means terminating a pregnancy. Many women have aborted without knowing--they were pregnant for a day and then got a period. Miscarriages are a euphemism for natural abortions. You can say a fetus is dead, and that's true enough. But that doesn't mean that abortion means going Dirty Harry on some fetuses. The anti-choice side has managed to redefine abortion, which is a woman-centered term regarding terminating her state of pregnancy, into a fetus-centered term that means some kind of killing.

Sorry to go off on a rant, but as a language person, I see how small choice like who is the object of the abortion procedure (woman or fetus?) makes a huge difference in how we perceive these things. The fetus-centered view has been a clever distraction from the anti-woman policies of anti-choicers. Giving into the insistence that women's role in their own pregnancies be devalued further on our side will only bolster their argument that this is about preserving the fetus, woman be damned.

63 Comments:

Blogger Mary Garth said...

What's the secular equivalent of "Amen"?

Word.

12/08/2004

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Katha Pollitt made your point (that abortion is birth control) in some book or other. I've never quite been able to figure out what "abortion shouldn't be birth control" means in the first place. I guess it raises the spectre of women just casually screwing around ("I tripped and fell on to his penis!") and thinking "hey, no problem, I can just have an abortion." (Curses on the Onion for locking its archives - I'd link to that column called "I'm Totally Psyched For This Abortion!")

I've actually encountered anti-choicers who said women treat abortion like a "tummy tuck" because they are worried about their appearance. Said anti-choicers were young and female, which made it even more depressing.

12/09/2004

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. Didn't mean to sound snotty about Katha Pollitt - I meant it in the sense of "great minds think alike." Wish I could remember the name of the book. :)

12/09/2004

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Framing concerns ("a woman's pregnancy"/"a fetus's life") are legitimate, but these concerns are basically ones of symbolism. Being afraid that any concession that a fetus has value will pull us down a slippery slope to abortion bans is placing symbolism over reality. Aren't you against that sort of thing?

Potential lives (in the sense of "we are obliged to have unprotected sex as frequently as possible") have no value, but embryos and fetuses are not potential lives. They are lives, though they are not people. A blastocyst probably has no moral value distinguishable from a carrot, which is also a life, albeit one almost no one has trouble extinguishing (guilty as charged: I eat carrot corpses too!). A 8.9-month fetus has a moral value almost equivalent of newborn baby. Is there some line, say at 5 months, at which this value is crossed? No. That is why we can't dismiss fetal value out of hand, though concerns just after implantation can understandably be taken less seriously than concerns at, say, 16 weeks. The value of a fetus is not a binary on/off switch, switching "on" sometime in later pregnancy. It is incremental.

Or, at least, that's my opinion.

The science-fiction artificial gestation scenario is unrealistic and won't happen any time soon, but it is useful as an intellectual tool, because it allows us to think about the value of a fetus without thinking about its usual counterweight -- the bodily integrity of a woman.

To claim that a woman's right to terminate or continue her pregnancy outweighs the value of a fetus's life does not mean claiming that a fetus's life has no value. You may be worried that conceeding anything to pro-lifers is a danger, but c'mon, we're on an obscure blog here: I'm pretty sure Carol Tobias isn't lurking around trying to snatch the latest NRLC talking points from us.

Julian Elson

12/09/2004

 
Blogger Amanda said...

You have a point, Julien, but it will matter to only about half of 1% of people who think in super-analytic terms. There is no thought without symbolism, and there is no understanding without frames. That's why "abortion isn't birth control" is such a powerful statement, while having exactly zero logical meaning to it. They are playing with the symbolism, the connotation, the vast amounts of meaning that are culturally attached to a word.

That's why assigning "value" to a fetus isn't a slipperly slope problem so much as a symbolic problem. And using the intellectual exercise of wombs-without-women might be useful to the 1/2 of 1% of people who are able to think without symbolism weighing them down, but to most people it just works symbolically to reinforce the notion that what is inside a womb is more relevant than the person that the womb is just another organ in.

If I saw a sci-fi story about incubators without women, the symbolic dehumanization of women would be quite obvious to me. That is such an obvious symbol that I would be irritated at the writer for stooping so low. But that doesn't mean it's not powerful.

BTW, Anon, no offense taken. I probably subconsciously did lift that point from her. That, or because she's an English prof and I was an English major, we're both used to thinking in terms of language and symbolism.

12/09/2004

 
Blogger Anne said...

I am annoyed that there's someone else on that thread at Amp named Anne. Now I'll have to have another screen name.

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Blogger Q Grrl said...

I think the issue of value in regards to the fetus is a complete red herring. I think the deeper issue surrounding abortion is that socially we are uncomfortable with women making weighty moral decisions. Men routinely make the decision to kill and men routinely place value on human lives. In fact, the State routinely makes value judgements on human lives *and* routinely decides to end those lives. What society balks at (and what is backed by thousands of years of theology... grrrrr) is women making difficult moral decisions about not only another life, or potential life, but their own lives. I mean, how can something that has historically been considered a man's property have the rationality, intelligence, and ethics to make hard, life altering moral decisions!!! argh.

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Then a friend of mine recommended a site called www.bargainplace.co.uk. We were able to get cheaper electricity, gas, mobile phone, broadband and loan deals at bargainplace. Thanks to my friend (and the site) I am saving something like £100 a month and can afford an extra holiday abroard each year. Booked of course on www.bargainplace.co.uk. Thanks bargainplace ;-) !!

2/14/2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog on pay per click search engine. I've stumbled on a superb money making website. Linkreferral is free to join and drives traffic to your website in an inivitive way (the more sites you visit, the more links you get back to your website.)

I've only been a member of Linkreferral for aproximately 2 weeks but I have already seen the volume of people coming to my site double - if not treble.

Linkreferral is not only driving visitors to my website but as a result my affiliate sales income has doubled also.

I really cannot push this website enough. It is free and it is fantastic!! www.linkreferral.com is a must for money making opportunities online.

2/16/2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Good blog - very interesting!! I liked it so much I'm going to share this hush hush advice with you. Ever wondered how your neighbours are driving around in their brand new BMW or Mercedes cars - with their kids dressed in all the latest named gear and foreign holidays aplenty?? Well they discovered the secret to the extra online income.

If you are looking for a free tool to attract loads of free links to your blog or website then congratulations I've got the solution for you - and it is FREE!!

My website specialises in greeting card and to drive traffic to my website I was searching around the internet for absolutely ages looking for SEO tools and ffa submission sites to fire my site up the Google search engine - unfortunately these doing work and in fact had the opposite affect plunging my site down the rankings like it had a heavy weight attached!!, then I signed up for this free superb traffic generating tool - I now have loads of hits to my websites/blogs and my site is shooting back up the Google rankings quicker than ever before.

Consequently this saw my affiliate commissions shoot through the roof - meaning lots of extra money coming in for my family - I bought my first Mercedes car on the proceeds of my online campaign.
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I hope the tool will serve you equally as well as it has me - it's free!!

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2/19/2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good blog - very interesting!! Thought you might like some excellent advice on driving extra traffic to your website/blog - I'm into neuro linguistic programming nlp and to drive traffic to my website I was searching around the internet for absolutely ages looking for SEO tools to fire my site up the Google search engine, then I signed up free for this superb traffic gereating tool - I now have loads of hits to my websites/blogs and my site is shooting up the Google rankings quicker than ever before.

Consequently this can see your affiliate commissions shoot through the roof - meaning lots of extra money coming in for you and your family. Sign up now - it's free.
. Sorry if this information is of no use to you but seeing as you have the anonymous feature enabled I thought I should share this free bit of essential promotional advice with you and would hope you would do the same for me.

I hope the tool will serve you equally as well as it has me!!

Best of luck, cheers for now, dave.

2/21/2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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2/26/2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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3/02/2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips and insights. I run site and blog for internet home business opportunity feel free to drop by and comment or swap links.

3/03/2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Hi matey

I'm sure it was this blog I was reading a while back where someone was looking for an SEO tool for driving more traffic and get more hits for their website.

Anyway, I was speaking to a techi guy at work who gets to know all the latest stuff and he uses the free Link Referral Program.

His website on top multi level marketing company amongst other stuff has seen traffic explode since he started using the Link Referral Program - consequently his affiliate sales commissions and business sales went through the roof PLUS his website increased in google ranking which was an added bonus!!

If anyone else has any good ideas for driving more traffic to blogs/websites then please share with your online business blog buddies. Ta ;-)










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3/05/2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips and insights. I run site and blog for home based business opportunity feel free to drop by and comment or swap links.

3/31/2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Risk Free Program. No Selling Or Inventory. Call 1-800-719-8268 Ext.B0116

3/31/2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

or visit http://mywebcashstore.com/branco0116

4/03/2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

.





Hi matey

I'm sure it was this blog I was reading a while back where someone was looking for an SEO tool for driving more traffic and get more hits for their website.

Anyway, I was speaking to a techi guy at work who gets to know all the latest stuff and he uses the free Link Referral Program at http://marketingexperts.wordpress.com.

His website on seo expert amongst other stuff has seen traffic explode since he started using the Link Referral Program - consequently his affiliate sales commissions and business sales went through the roof PLUS his website increased in google ranking which was an added bonus!!

If anyone else has any good ideas for driving more traffic to blogs/websites then please share with your online business blog buddies. Ta ;-)


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4/15/2007

 

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