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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Morality and Euthanasia (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Morality and Euthanasia
Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
I disagree with the pro-life people. The point is, if you *actually* think murder is happening, dismissing it as "choice" is hardly persuasive.

Well, pro-choice people who think it's tantamount to murder could still have a leg to stand on in cases of rape, I think. Where they didn't invite the human being into a state of being reliant upon them for life, but instead had it forced upon them.

But yeah, outside of that, I think you're right. If you believe that fetuses are humans and should have the rights of humans, and are also pro-choice, those are pretty fundamentally contradictory.

On topic, my probably-predictable thoughts are: If the person's preference is to die, euthanasia is okay. I don't have any moral objection to suicide, assisted or not. But if that's not their preference (or they can't communicate what their preference is)... probably better not to murder them.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
My comparison is not saying it is going to follow the same course, except in the most general sense.

As in, I think there will eventually be a roe v. wade moment that brings forth in this country the legal right of patients to request drug-enduced euthanasia, rather than the much more arduous ways we already permit patients to voluntarily end their lives.

If you are talking strictly about terminally ill but mentally competent patients who choose to be euthanized, then I agree that it is likely that our society will most likely legalize euthanasia at some point in the not too distant future.

If you are including cases like the one in the OP, where a parent or guardian wants to euthanize a disabled but not terminally ill person who is unable to communicate their own desires, then I disagree.

The legal right of patients to request euthanasia is what I'm talking about here exclusively. While not impossible, a future of medical euthanasia forced on others would be far different to talk about hypothetical development patterns (and would probably come about only following crisis conditions).
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
I disagree with the pro-life people. The point is, if you *actually* think murder is happening, dismissing it as "choice" is hardly persuasive.

Well, pro-choice people who think it's tantamount to murder could still have a leg to stand on in cases of rape, I think. Where they didn't invite the human being into a state of being reliant upon them for life, but instead had it forced upon them.

But yeah, outside of that, I think you're right. If you believe that fetuses are humans and should have the rights of humans, and are also pro-choice, those are pretty fundamentally contradictory.

No they aren't . What other humans have a legally enforced right to use your organs, even if they need it to live?
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Dan_Frank
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Of course there's no directly analogous situation, Kate. But it's not terribly hard to imagine one.

Let's say you captured someone and had complex sci-fi surgery performed on the two of you, without his consent. Now he only gets nutrients through you, and he can't move on his own, you have to drag him around. He's completely beholden to you. And at any time you can cut a cord that will kill him and leave you alive.

Do you think that cutting that cord would be murder? You just created a situation in which his life depends upon you, and then cut him off. Sounds like murder to me! Maybe you disagree.

Now, if someone else had captured the two of you and performed this surgery against your consent, I can see a case being argued that you should have the right to cut the man off, even though it means he will die, because not doing so forces you to drag him around and absorb your nutrients, cause all kinds of potential health problems, and generally harm your quality of life.

Is it still murder? This one is more debatable, I think.

If a fetus is a person, then these analogies hold. If a fetus isn't a person, they're totally irrelevant. That's why this question is so important.

They'll correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is why Destineer, Raymond, and I generally agree on this: The "pro-choice" side is using the wrong argument, approaching the issue from the wrong perspective. The "pro-life" side is asking the right question, but comes to the wrong conclusion.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
No they aren't . What other humans have a legally enforced right to use your organs, even if they need it to live?
There aren't really any comparisons that can be made, except possibly conjoined twins who share organ use? Insofar as that comparison is useful, suppose one twin wishes to committ suicide, which would necessarily destroy some of the organs the other needs to live in some cases. Because the suicidal twin can truthfully say it is HIS body, and he should have absolute control over all aspects of it, shall he also have the right to seriously endanger or even certainly cause the other's death?

But let's set that aside, because conjoined twins are never going to be anything other than rare, making it an extreme example. Suppose one human invites another to sustain their live from their body for a period of about nine months. This other human (if the fetus is a human) doesn't actually have a say in it, but he WAS invited.

Do you really imagine many people would endorse the right of the first human to just change their minds at a whim, causing the death of the human they invited? Now I know you've got a lot of reasons, some of them frankly really convoluted, why body sovereignty must be the absolute only factor in this decision, but why should one human be able to cause the death of another for no other reason than they decide to revoke their invitation? Seriously. We don't actually believe any right is utterly, absolutely inalienable, so why is this one to be held inviolate in all cases, even in cases of a whim decision based on unprotected sex by an educated pair of adults?

I'm not asking for the many, many, many practical reasons why this is problematic. There are lots of good such reasons. I'm asking why your asserted right to body sovereignty should be held so totally, unassailably sacrosanct.

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kmbboots
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You invite a friend to go on a trip. You get into a car accident. You didn't do anything illegal but sometimes accidents happen. Should you be required to donate blood to save your friend? How about donating a kidney?

I think that there is a moral obligation, but should this be legally enforced?

Body sovereignty is sacrosanct because otherwise we are property - again.

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Samprimary
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quote:
The "pro-choice" side is using the wrong argument, approaching the issue from the wrong perspective. The "pro-life" side is asking the right question, but comes to the wrong conclusion.
This may be true, but it depends on what the pro choice side's argument is, if it can be cut down to a single position or set of positions.
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Dan_Frank
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Sam: Sure. In context, I'm talking about a common group (and the dominant one, I think) within the pro-choice movement that shies away from taking a stand in the person/not person debate and tries to make it solely an issue of body sovereignty.

Obviously any group of people can have wildly varied reasons for their opinions, so my generalization is just that.

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Hobbes
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quote:
You invite a friend to go on a trip. You get into a car accident. You didn't do anything illegal but sometimes accidents happen. Should you be required to donate blood to save your friend? How about donating a kidney?

I think that there is a moral obligation, but should this be legally enforced?

Body sovereignty is sacrosanct because otherwise we are property - again.

And life is sacrosanct because otherwise we are dead.

The issue, Kate, is you're missing the key to the whole argument: one person has no choice, the other has both choice and knowledge. Your story would only work if you knew ahead of time that you would get in an accident and they would need your blood to survive and you still invited them.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Rakeesh
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quote:
You invite a friend to go on a trip. You get into a car accident. You didn't do anything illegal but sometimes accidents happen. Should you be required to donate blood to save your friend? How about donating a kidney?

I think that there is a moral obligation, but should this be legally enforced?

Body sovereignty is sacrosanct because otherwise we are property - again.

This is a very poor comparison, kmbboots. I have a hard time imagining you don't see why. In this scenario, the first person did something nobody would imagine, except in the unlikeliest of contrived circumstances such as the ones you put forward, would result in the second person, the invited person, would need to use the first's bodily resources to survive.

And would you really say that the first person, especially if the accident was in no way his fault and both people were buckled up and he has his car regularly serviced to make it as safe as he could, actually has as moral obligation to donate a kidney? That's far from a given.

No. These are bad arguments. The situations aren't comparable. Instead, it would be as if I decided to invite my friend to come stay with me in my remote mountain woodlands cabin. He's got an unpleasant medical condition, though, that requires, I don't know, regular blood transfusions from someone with his blood type to survive (yes, I know, not actually possible I expect). I am a suitable donor. Not being suicidal, my friend checks carefully with me first, "Hey Jeff, listen, if I'm gonna leave the city with its clinics and doctors, I really need to be sure I can get my regular transfusions or I'll die," and I toss off, negligently, that of course he'll get what he needs, I've got plenty of blood.

He gets there, though, and we have a fight, perhaps. Or I discover I have a dreadful fear of needles. Or perhaps even giving blood regularly is quite a lot more draining on me-no pun intended-than I expected. It's not going to kill me or even harm me in the long term, but it really, really, really stinks. So I decide, "Listen, buddy, it's my blood and I'm not giving you anymore. It's too much of a burden."

He doesn't make it back to civilization, and he dies, and I go on my way, perhaps upset that my friend is dead, but perhaps not-he had absolutely zero rights to utilize anything of my body that I wasn't willing to give him, without revoking that access on a moment's notice.

This is the kind of situation I'm asking you about-the scenario in which two people have sex (really, there needs to be a third person in that scenario). They're adults, they know the risks, but man sex without condums feels better and birth control pills are so easy to forget sometimes. They've both got stable careers, but man being parents would be a serious speed bump in their lives. So either together or on their own, one of them decides that it's time to just fix the situation.

Obviously, this happens a lot. I'm not suggesting it's a majority or even a sizable minority of abortions-I really have no way of knowing. And I'm not suggesting it's a good idea to legislate for all abortions based on this case-there are all sorts of pitfalls about enforcement and finding out what led to a pregnancy that make that impossible without some pretty dangerous power in the hands of government, one such power being the ability to deny sovereignty to women who, for example, carefully and correctly took birth control and even used a redundant form of contraception, but through no fault of their own got pregnant.

What I am asking, though, is why in this kind of scenario-which you cannot avoid admitting does happen-the idea of body sovereignty must, in moral terms, be utterly impervious to any challenge. If your argument is founded entirely on the practicalities of abortion, well then, that's a whole different kettle of fish. But unless I'm mistaken, it's not. Unless I'm mistaken, you would also say that I ought to be held to have a moral right to just tell my buddy I invited that I didn't feel like giving blood anymore, so I wouldn't.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Hobbes:
quote:
You invite a friend to go on a trip. You get into a car accident. You didn't do anything illegal but sometimes accidents happen. Should you be required to donate blood to save your friend? How about donating a kidney?

I think that there is a moral obligation, but should this be legally enforced?

Body sovereignty is sacrosanct because otherwise we are property - again.

And life is sacrosanct because otherwise we are dead.

The issue, Kate, is you're missing the key to the whole argument: one person has no choice, the other has both choice and knowledge. Your story would only work if you knew ahead of time that you would get in an accident and they would need your blood to survive and you still invited them.

Hobbes [Smile]

Every time you get into a car you know that you could get into an accident.
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Rakeesh
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Yes, which is why we have laws concerning insurance, seat belts, air bags, car inspections, methods of driving, substance abuse while driving, so on and so forth.

Are you seriously putting forward the suggestion that everyone ought to know that everytime they drive a car, they might be in an accident in which their friend was injured in such a way as to require organ donation, but not in such a way that either killed themselves or injured them preventing organ donation, and that the only possible donor in all the world was the driver themself?

C'mon. I 'know' when I walk out of my door in a thunderstorm, I might be struck and killed by an errant bolt of lightning. That knowledge shouldn't, and doesn't to any rational person, stop me from doing so. What it does stop me from doing, though, is say flying a kite in a thunderstorm or going out and playing golf in a thunderstorm or practicing my trombone playing in a thunderstorm.

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kmbboots
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Rakeesh, of course it is contrived. As you pointed out, there are no analogous situations. Every other scenario is going to be imperfect. My point is that the idea of forcing people - whatever the moral obligation might be - to give up sovereignty over their own internal organs, forcing them to do this, is abhorrent to most of us. Except for women. Because we are somehow less full human beings than embryos are.

Artificial wombs, guys. It isn't impossible. Get on it.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Artificial wombs, guys. It isn't impossible. Get on it.
Wait what? Where did that come from?
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kmbboots
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It would solve the issue as far as I am concerned. Let the little bugger be a parasite on something that isn't a human being.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
But yeah, outside of that, I think you're right. If you believe that fetuses are humans and should have the rights of humans, and are also pro-choice, those are pretty fundamentally contradictory.
I disagree. Even if you believe that the fetus is human and killing it is a bad thing, there are logical reasons to be pro-choice as long as you consider both sides of the equation. The mother is also, unquestionably, a human being deserving of human rights.

We do not generally consider every instance of "killing a person" morally equivalent to murder. An overwhelming majority of people in our society (including the Catholic church) consider it morally acceptable, or even morally requisite, to kill in self defense or in the defense of others. The majority of Americans consider it morally acceptable to drop bombs on Afghan villagers and execute criminals. If you kill a pedestrian or a bicyclist with your car, we call it a negligence, not murder.

Certainly, "killing a person" is always a bad thing, but it's not always "tantamount to murder" and sometimes it is even the best option available.

With the exception of a few extremists, most everyone would agree that a woman should be able to have an abortion if it will save her life. I find myself morally outraged by those who think its preferable for both the mother and baby to die than to do what is necessary to save the mother. That can not be reasonably considered a "pro-life" position.

The problem is that once you admit that abortion is ever a morally permissible option, you've opened a whole hornets nest of moral complexity that most people don't want think about. It's never 100% certain that a mother will die without an abortion. Do you draw the line at 90% chance of death, 80%, 50%? And if you put that in a law, then you have to legislate how you will determine what the percent chance of death is and you need to be confident that women aren't going to die waiting for those legal tests. Is it only the woman's life that matters or should we also consider her health. What if there is 99 % that the mother will live, but in a permanent vegetative state?

No pregnancy is risk free. How much risk should we legally require a woman take to preserve the life of her fetus? Should it matter how close the fetus is to being viable outside the womb? Should a mother be required to take the same amount of risk for a fetus that is healthy as for one that has a serious life threatening defects?

Once you admit that abortion is ever an acceptable option, you have to ask yourself how we will decide when it is and isn't acceptable and who should have the right/responsibility to make that decision? There is no bright line or simple rule that can be applied. Who should have the right to decide the needs of the mother outweigh the needs of the unborn child?

After years of consideration, I've decide I believe that right and responsibility to decide belongs to the mother. Hence I am pro-choice. It is her body and every adult human being deserves the right to make critical decisions about their own body. I believe that women are capable of being responsible moral agents and should be empowered to do so. I believe that stewardship for the child in her womb, belongs to the mother. Because it is the mother's stewardship, I believe she is the person most able to discern the proper moral choice.

I know that given that choice, at least some women will not choose well. I think most women who seek abortions do so for reasons I would consider unacceptable, but I can't see any practical way to make it illegal for women to have an abortion for bad reasons without also making it illegal and dangerous for women who seek an abortion for acceptable reasons.

I'm consider myself to be both pro-life and pro-choice. If women are seeking abortions because they are poor or overwhelmed by the burden of motherhood, we will accomplish more by working to fight poverty and provide more support to parents than by punishing people who have or provide abortions. If women are seeking abortions to avoid the shame of being an unwed mother, then we are at fault for being judgmental and unforgiving.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Rakeesh, of course it is contrived. As you pointed out, there are no analogous situations. Every other scenario is going to be imperfect. My point is that the idea of forcing people - whatever the moral obligation might be - to give up sovereignty over their own internal organs, forcing them to do this, is abhorrent to most of us. Except for women. Because we are somehow less full human beings than embryos are.

Artificial wombs, guys. It isn't impossible. Get on it.

*snort* Alright, so your answer is to deny any questions the comparison might raise ought to be asked, much less answered. I suppose that's probably necessary.

Anyway, a couple of things. In at least some pregancies, the 'force' you're describing is a very hazy thing, and something quite a few people would object to calling 'force'. In another, it's not just about women, or even women capable of pregancy-unless you imagine that the real reason men question the absolute sanctity in all circumstances of body sovereignty is because they know they won't ever have to face it?

I'm sure you're right, though. The real reason many have questions about the morality of abortion and its intersections with body sovereignty is because, hey, screw women, they just don't get to have as much body sovereignty as us dudes! Raaaa! Now get back in the kitchen!

Please. Though I suppose I ought to be grateful that at least you've sort of answered my question, with an accusation of poorly masked, oblivious sexism.

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Hobbes
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Don't parents give up certain rights when they become parents? If a mother or a father left an infant in a crib and declared "I am no longer interested in sacrificing my body or my labor for this, I'm going to go to Maine and do my own thing" wouldn't you decry it as both evil and illegal? If you're saying life starts inside the womb where does the difference lay?

Hobbes [Smile]

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kmbboots
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Rabbit, that was very well put.

Rakeesh, must you drip with contempt all the time? Is that sneering and snorting really more important to you than understanding what I am saying? It gets tiresome. Of course it is complex, but, yes, I do think that the fact that men aren't subject to this intrusion plays a part in how we deal with it.

Hobbes, of course parents give up rights when they become parents. Of course, before the child is born, they could legally run off to Maine if they wanted to give the child up for adoption. One right that we, as a society, never demand of fully human competent adults, except in the case of pregnancy is to give up making decisions about their own bodies and health. We cannot force people to diet, donate blood, take medications. We need their consent for surgery. Even if they are horrible criminals all we can do is demand the right to kill them (and I don't think we should be able to do that).

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Hobbes:
Don't parents give up certain rights when they become parents? If a mother or a father left an infant in a crib and declared "I am no longer interested in sacrificing my body or my labor for this, I'm going to go to Maine and do my own thing" wouldn't you decry it as both evil and illegal? If you're saying life starts inside the womb where does the difference lay?

Hobbes [Smile]

The difference lies in the fact that after the child is born, it possible both technologically and legally for someone else to take over. Parents can and frequently do absolve themselves of responsibility for caring for a child via adoption or foster placement. Parents have the legal right to walk away from a child.

If you can't find someone willing to adopt your child, the government can legally force you to provide financial support for the child but they can't force you to spend time with them or nurture them.

There is a fundamental difference between a person's property and their body. Unlike your physical body, which is yours by nature, property ownership is a social convention which is defined and regulated by law. Society should not have the same right to dictate what we do with our bodies that it has to dictate what we do with our property.

I assume you pay money in taxes. Would you consider it equally acceptable for the government to tax you 6 units of blood a year. If you didn't pay on time, should they have the right to take the blood by force, with an interest penalty?

There is not an equivalence between requiring someone to use their money to support a child and using their body as a life support system for a child.

Consider the flip side of the coin, the government can legal take a child away from an abusive or negligent parent. Would you consider it be equally acceptable for the government to force an abusive mother (say a drug abuser) to have an abortion?

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Hobbes
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quote:
Of course, before the child is born, they could legally run off to Maine if they wanted to give the child up for adoption.
I'm really struggling to follow your argument here, how is that relevant? I feel like I'm missing a big piece of what you're trying to say.

quote:
One right that we, as a society, never demand of fully human competent adults, except in the case of pregnancy is to give up making decisions about their own bodies and health.
I don't think this is true at all. Perhaps if you use the superlative ("all desicions about...") but that wouldn't apply to this case anyway. What is the issue you see that makes my case defenitvely wrong and your case entirely about personal sovergienty?

Hobbes [Smile]

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kmbboots
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Hobbes,

Rabbit put it very well here:

quote:
There is a fundamental difference between a person's property and their body. Unlike your physical body, which is yours by nature, property ownership is a social convention which is defined and regulated by law. Society should not have the same right to dictate what we do with our bodies that it has to dictate what we do with our property.
The "all" may be superlative but what exceptions to this are you finding? We even find force-feeding of prisoners rather horrible and controversial.
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Hobbes
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quote:
The difference lies in the fact that after the child is born, it possible both technologically and legally for someone else to take over. Parents can and frequently do absolve themselves of responsibility for caring for a child via adoption or foster placement. Parents have the legal right to walk away from a child.

And I'm sure few would have an issue if instead of aborting the child, the hypothetical mother found a way to transfer them safely to a different mother or substitue. Within the story there's no provision made for the child, they can give them up for adoption, or create some other care for them, but they don't. In the case of abortion, there is no other option currently, but that doesn't change the fact that it results in the death of the child. You explained to me why personal control of your own body is improtant, but that's not the issue. The issue is why it trumps full-fledged human life. The scenario isn't: we all need to pay taxes or society will eventually shut down. The scenario is: you've choosen, without consent, to have another life linked to yours. You specifically and that life specifically. Now you've changed your mind and the consequences for that life are termination.

Hobbes [Smile]

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Hobbes:

quote:
One right that we, as a society, never demand of fully human competent adults, except in the case of pregnancy is to give up making decisions about their own bodies and health.
I don't think this is true at all. Perhaps if you use the superlative ("all desicions about...") but that wouldn't apply to this case anyway. What is the issue you see that makes my case defenitvely wrong and your case entirely about personal sovergienty?

Hobbes [Smile]

Hobbes, I think the superlative here is justified. If you know of counter examples, please share. I can't think of any example of a cases where a mentally competent adults are not allow to decide what is put into or taken out of their bodies? Mentally competent adults are allowed to choose wether they will accept or reject any medical procedure. You can't even legally force feed some one. Even touching someone without their consent is illegal in almost all situations.

The only exceptions I can think involve arrest situations where you a cavity search could be permitted against your will -- but even then there are rather strict limitations that serve a specific purpose.

There are cases where people commonly submit to certain potentially invasive tests in order to obtain some privilege (like obtaining a drivers license, holding a particular job or flying on an airplane), but they always have the option of foregoing the privilege. You can be legally required to take a paternity test under some circumstances, but I think you could likely avoid that by agreeing that you are the father.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Rakeesh, must you drip with contempt all the time? Is that sneering and snorting really more important to you than understanding what I am saying? It gets tiresome. Of course it is complex, but, yes, I do think that the fact that men aren't subject to this intrusion plays a part in how we deal with it.

What's even more tiresome is what really looks like a deliberate poor comparison (I mean dreadfully poor, car accident, really?), and then the concluding assertion that concerns about abortion are rooted in the inferior humanity of women, in some people's eyes.

So yeah, when I'm treated with that sort of contempt, I have a tendancy to react contemptfully. Failing of mine.

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Hobbes
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Rabbit, I'm pretty sure you and I are not talking about the same thing. You seem to be arguing that there exists a case in which abortion is morally viable even when you take as given that the child is alive. I'm trying to understand the question Rakeesh (I think) put forward: why does personal control of your own body always trump human life? If you're trying to wedge in the idea that sometimes it's appliciable (as in, when both the Mother and child would die as a garuntee if no abortion is performed) then I'm already in agreement. But that's not what I've been talking about.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:

One right that we, as a society, never demand of fully human competent adults, except in the case of pregnancy is to give up making decisions about their own bodies and health. We cannot force people to diet, donate blood, take medications. We need their consent for surgery. Even if they are horrible criminals all we can do is demand the right to kill them (and I don't think we should be able to do that).

This is simply false. You may wish it were true... which would make you sound like a libertarian(!)... but it's not.

We demand fully human, competent adults not ingest certain toxins deemed illegal drugs. And certain medications for that matter, deemed restricted prescription drugs.

For a long time we demanded that they not commit suicide (though mercifully had little way of enforcing this)... and only in the last couple decades have changed position as a society on that issue.

We demand that they give up some body sovereignty in order to board an airplane, in the form of invasive searches.

And in order to work in government or financial sectors, or (in CA, anyway) to drive a car, by submitting their fingerprints.

These are all varying levels of trivial compared to housing a human being inside your body for 9 months, to be sure. But they unequivocally obliterate any claim that abortion is the only area we infringe on your sovereignty to do what you will with your own body. It is one of many. One of the biggest, but even so.


quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
But yeah, outside of that, I think you're right. If you believe that fetuses are humans and should have the rights of humans, and are also pro-choice, those are pretty fundamentally contradictory.
I disagree. Even if you believe that the fetus is human and killing it is a bad thing, there are logical reasons to be pro-choice as long as you consider both sides of the equation. The mother is also, unquestionably, a human being deserving of human rights.

We do not generally consider every instance of "killing a person" morally equivalent to murder. An overwhelming majority of people in our society (including the Catholic church) consider it morally acceptable, or even morally requisite, to kill in self defense or in the defense of others. The majority of Americans consider it morally acceptable to drop bombs on Afghan villagers and execute criminals. If you kill a pedestrian or a bicyclist with your car, we call it a negligence, not murder.

Certainly, "killing a person" is always a bad thing, but it's not always "tantamount to murder" and sometimes it is even the best option available.

No.

"Killing a person" isn't always a bad thing.

"Murdering a person" is always a bad thing.

If a fetus is a person, then what action has it taken to justify it being killed? It's invaded someone's body... by invitation. It had no choice in the matter. In point of fact it can't have taken some action to justify it's death, as it has taken no actions at all. Thus, killing such a person would be murder.

And bad.


quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:

With the exception of a few extremists, most everyone would agree that a woman should be able to have an abortion if it will save her life. I find myself morally outraged by those who think its preferable for both the mother and baby to die than to do what is necessary to save the mother. That can not be reasonably considered a "pro-life" position.

Certainly, the majority of abortion debate centers around abortions of children that are not the product of rape and are not endangering their mother's life. Because in both of those cases the pro-life side frequently concedes the viability of abortion.

Why?

Because there is a clearer case to be made that body sovereignty in these cases would justify killing a person. That person, whether by intent or not, is going to kill you unless you kill them. Or, that person, against your consent, was forced to be reliant upon you. Pro-Lifers will often say that trying to keep such babies is the moral thing to do, much the same way they might say donating your kidney to someone is the right thing to do, but they don't want to legislate it as a requirement.

But all of this is wholly based on the premise that the fetus is a person. That's where their argument stems from. An argument to their premise would be "No, the fetus is not a person."

An assertion that fetus personhood is irrelevant because body sovereignty trumps everything is basically a non sequitur. It ignores their argument. Moreover, it in itself is not a good argument. Body sovereignty doesn't trump everything in our society. Not by a long shot.

quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
The problem is that once you admit that abortion is ever a morally permissible option, you've opened a whole hornets nest of moral complexity that most people don't want think about. It's never 100% certain that a mother will die without an abortion. Do you draw the line at 90% chance of death, 80%, 50%? And if you put that in a law, then you have to legislate how you will determine what the percent chance of death is and you need to be confident that women aren't going to die waiting for those legal tests. Is it only the woman's life that matters or should we also consider her health. What if there is 99 % that the mother will live, but in a permanent vegetative state?

No pregnancy is risk free. How much risk should we legally require a woman take to preserve the life of her fetus? Should it matter how close the fetus is to being viable outside the womb? Should a mother be required to take the same amount of risk for a fetus that is healthy as for one that has a serious life threatening defects?

Once you admit that abortion is ever an acceptable option, you have to ask yourself how we will decide when it is and isn't acceptable and who should have the right/responsibility to make that decision? There is no bright line or simple rule that can be applied. Who should have the right to decide the needs of the mother outweigh the needs of the unborn child?

Yeah, that's quite the moral quandary you end up in, if you take the position that a fetus is a person and abortion is immoral, except in X cases where it's moral.

That's why some people reject that postion, by the way.

quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
After years of consideration, I've decide I believe that right and responsibility to decide belongs to the mother. Hence I am pro-choice. It is her body and every adult human being deserves the right to make critical decisions about their own body. I believe that women are capable of being responsible moral agents and should be empowered to do so. I believe that stewardship for the child in her womb, belongs to the mother. Because it is the mother's stewardship, I believe she is the person most able to discern the proper moral choice.

This moral argument also applies to children outside the womb. If a parent chooses to beat their child to discipline him, well, they're the steward of that child, right? So it's their decision. And if a parent chooses to sexually abuse their child, well, they're the steward, right? Can't gainsay them. They're the person most able to discern the proper moral choice.

Obviously, I don't find this persuasive. The simple act of becoming pregnant doesn't grant one any special lens into the morality of the issue.

quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
I know that given that choice, at least some women will not choose well. I think most women who seek abortions do so for reasons I would consider unacceptable, but I can't see any practical way to make it illegal for women to have an abortion for bad reasons without also making it illegal and dangerous for women who seek an abortion for acceptable reasons.

Of course you could try to do this, if you chose to. We differentiate all kinds of killing people as it is, with reasonable consistency.

It's true that if we made some kinds of abortion illegal, then there would be more back-alley illegal abortions. The same holds true for every single instance of making something illegal ever, in the history of everything. Making something illegal doesn't reduce it's incident rate to 0, and it does ensure that all incidents will, necessarily, be illegal, back-alley affairs.

I don't think we should do this in any event. I'm perfectly fine with abortion.

Because a fetus isn't a person.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
So yeah, when I'm treated with that sort of contempt, I have a tendancy to react contemptfully. Failing of mine.

I think that was sarcasm.

But, it really is, man. You don't need to react with contempt. You can react positively even to someone else's contempt. And doing so provides two distinct goods:

1: If they intended the contempt, and meant to rattle you, your dismissal of it will serve to infuriate them as effectively as a contemptuous response would.

2: If they didn't intend the contempt, by ignoring what you perceived as contempt you completely bypass a potential misunderstanding and ensuing fight. You can focus on the discussion at hand, and both of you win.

I don't really expect you to change your behavior based on a single post of mine, but perhaps it will give you food for thought.

Or maybe you already knew all that, and you just dig the response you get when you react to contempt with contempt. If so, that's your prerogative.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:

There are cases where people commonly submit to certain potentially invasive tests in order to obtain some privilege (like obtaining a drivers license, holding a particular job or flying on an airplane), but they always have the option of foregoing the privilege. You can be legally required to take a paternity test under some circumstances, but I think you could likely avoid that by agreeing that you are the father.

By this logic, pregnancy is the invasive process required to obtain the privilege of having sex.

Except, unlike getting a driver's license, flying an airplane, etc. in the case of sex, we've developed fairly reliable workarounds for the invasive process.

Contraception would be the equivalent of the TSA deciding that only 1 in 100 (or whatever the fail rate of the contraceptive being used is) people will be subjected to body scanners, patdowns, etc.

The fact that it can be avoided most of the time doesn't change the fact that it's still a potential consequence of the activity. Every time someone with a working reproductive system has sex, they may accidentally engage in reproduction.

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The Rabbit
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Hobbes, I have not been arguing that personal control of ones own body should always trump human life. From a moral point of view, it can't. But we aren't arguing about what is moral, we are arguing about what should be legal. We are arguing about whether the choice of having an abortion should be made by society as a whole (i.e legislatures and voters) or whether that choice should be left to the woman.

My point is that unless you are arguing that abortion should be illegal under all circumstances, even to save the life of the mother, then you have to start thinking about whether its possible to make abortion illegal whenever the rights of the fetus should morally outweigh the rights of the mother and legal whenever the opposite is true. And those laws would have to be simple enough to be fairly and justly enforced.

I don't think that can be done. Laws must clearly define what is and is not allowed in measurable terms. There simply is not a clear division between what constitutes acceptable risk to the mother and what constitutes unacceptable risk and there is no objective way to measure the risk. Unless you go with the stance that abortion is never ever acceptable, it's just not a black and white decision. There is a full spectrum of grays.

There is never a guarantee that both mother and child would die if no abortion is performed. That situation does not exist in the real world. In the real world we only that there is a risk of dying, that is sometimes higher than others. In real life there are only probabilities that can't even be accurately known. In the real world, the question is complex.

Imagine at some point in your future you have a wife who is pregnant and she has a medical emergency and doctors tell you she has x% of dying unless she has an abortion. The question we are discussing is not whether or not it would be right for her to choose the abortion - - It is whether or not she should have the legal option. Should the decision be made by a legislature or a judge, or should the woman be allowed to choose? I believe the right and responsibility for the choice belongs to the woman.

I don't think we can know what the right decisions would be for any value of x, without knowing all the individual personal details. I don't think any law could possibly be detailed enough to deal with the real moral complexity of the choice. Even if I knew every personal detail, I think I would need revelation from God to judge correctly.

As a Latter Say Saint, it is my understanding that we are entitled to personal revelation for those things under our stewardship, but not for things outside our stewardship. The woman has stewardship for the child in her womb. She is the only person who has all that is required to make the morally correct choice so she is the one who should make the choice.

I know many women will not make that choice righteously, but it is still their stewardship to make -- not mine.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
By this logic, pregnancy is the invasive process required to obtain the privilege of having sex.

Except, unlike getting a driver's license, flying an airplane, etc. in the case of sex, we've developed fairly reliable workarounds for the invasive process.

I find it rather odd to hear a libertarian like yourself suggest that having sex is a privilege the government should be allowed to regulate in any way. I find the very idea that women should have to surrender the right of personal sovereignty to engage in a natural biological function to be abhorrent.

Public roads are built and maintained by the community. Operating a car on those roads creates a risk to all other users of the road. There is a compelling social need to test peoples vision before they are allowed to drive on the road that outweighs peoples right to keep their visual acuity secret.

Caring a weapon onto an airplane creates a risk to all other occupants of the plane. A hijacked plane can be used weapon against the anyone in the community. That creates a compelling social need to search airplane passengers for weapons.

I can think of no compelling social need that would justify the government in requiring women to choose between their right to bodily sovereignty and having sex.

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Hobbes
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Rabbit, that's a fine argument to be having, but it wasn't the one that was happening here.

quote:
I can think of no compelling social need that would justify the government in requiring women to choose between their right to bodily sovereignty and having sex.
Whatever my position on it in actual reality, within the reality of Dan's comments (we're assuming a human life at conception or there 'bouts) how about the social need of not killing someone?

Hobbes [Smile]

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kmbboots
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Hobbes, this is going to sound awful but it might help the shift in perspective required for understanding if you thought of "removing" rather than killing. Certainly, this removal can't currently be done without killing the embryo or fetus but killing is not the purpose. In balancing the possible rights of an embryo or fetus against the rights of a woman we run into the practical fact that her right not to have something using her body as a host* necessitates killing that entity.

Hence my not entirely tongue-in-cheek encouragement of artificial wombs.

*I realize that most people don't regard the embryo/fetus as a parasite but as a blessed guest. I would have gratefully welcomed such a parasite. Again, I am trying to jar a shift in understanding.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
By this logic, pregnancy is the invasive process required to obtain the privilege of having sex.

Except, unlike getting a driver's license, flying an airplane, etc. in the case of sex, we've developed fairly reliable workarounds for the invasive process.

I find it rather odd to hear a libertarian like yourself suggest that having sex is a privilege the government should be allowed to regulate in any way. I find the very idea that women should have to surrender the right of personal sovereignty to engage in a natural biological function to be abhorrent.
Oh, yeah, I do too! No question.

I'm not talking about regulating sex, I'm talking about regulating the result of sex. That is, pregnancy.

As it happens, I'm also against regulating pregnancy. But that's because I don't think a fetus is a human being with preferences, rights, etc.

If it was human, then we would probably need some regulations to protect it from being murdered, the same way we have regulations to protect you and I from being murdered.

quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Public roads are built and maintained by the community. Operating a car on those roads creates a risk to all other users of the road. There is a compelling social need to test peoples vision before they are allowed to drive on the road that outweighs peoples right to keep their visual acuity secret.

Caring a weapon onto an airplane creates a risk to all other occupants of the plane. A hijacked plane can be used weapon against the anyone in the community. That creates a compelling social need to search airplane passengers for weapons.

I can think of no compelling social need that would justify the government in requiring women to choose between their right to bodily sovereignty and having sex.

Prematurely removing a fetus from a womb creates a risk to that fetus (the "risk" being a 100% chance of death). That's an external risk, that is, a risk not just to the person having the abortion, so there would be a social need.

So, if the fetus is a person, this is really important. If it's not a person, then this is irrelevant.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Hobbes:
Rabbit, that's a fine argument to be having, but it wasn't the one that was happening here.

]What part of what I said wan't relevant to the argument we are having here? I'm pretty sure we were discussing whether or not abortion should be legal. What did you think we were discussing?


quote:
quote:
I can think of no compelling social need that would justify the government in requiring women to choose between their right to bodily sovereignty and having sex.
Whatever my position on it in actual reality, within the reality of Dan's comments (we're assuming a human life at conception or there 'bouts) how about the social need of not killing someone?

Hobbes [Smile] [/qb]

I think that's begging the question. Does killing people cause social harm? Is the social harm caused by killing people the reason we have laws against killing people?

It's a lot easier to come up with clear examples where killing people benefits society than examples where killing people causes a clear direct social harm. Most people believe that some kinds of killing people can actually benefit society. Most people believe that killing people in defense of oneself, others or ones country's interests benefits society. An awful lot of people think killing people convicted of certain crimes benefits society.

The best argument I can come up with for a social benefit to laws against killing is very indirect. People's willingness to cooperate and follow rules increases when they believe they live in a just society. Punishing people for committing serious moral offenses like murder increases peoples confidence in the justice system and their willingness to voluntarily obey laws. Removing offenders from society improves safety and security, which benefits society at large.

But I can't really see that those social benefits are relevant to the abortion question at all. Abortion has been legal in this country for decades and has not lead to any evident social harm. People aren't unsafe walking the streets because of the high abortion rate. There hasn't been a increase in crime and anti-social behavior because abortion is legal.

[ May 10, 2012, 08:58 AM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Hobbes, this is going to sound awful but it might help the shift in perspective required for understanding if you thought of "removing" rather than killing. Certainly, this removal can't currently be done without killing the embryo or fetus but killing is not the purpose. In balancing the possible rights of an embryo or fetus against the rights of a woman we run into the practical fact that her right not to have something using her body as a host* necessitates killing that entity.

Hence my not entirely tongue-in-cheek encouragement of artificial wombs.

*I realize that most people don't regard the embryo/fetus as a parasite but as a blessed guest. I would have gratefully welcomed such a parasite. Again, I am trying to jar a shift in understanding.

Yeah Kate I agree with all of this, really. And I don't think your encouragement of artificial wombs should be tongue-in-cheek at all!

But, parasite or not, if that parasite is actually a person, then the fact that the host literally invited that person in becomes really, really relevant to the morality of the situation. That can't simply be waved away. It's crucial. Well, it would be crucial. If the fetus were a person.

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kmbboots
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Dan, I think it is morally relevant, too. I even think that it is morally relevant if the parasite is only a cluster of cells with the potential to become a human being.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
*I realize that most people don't regard the embryo/fetus as a parasite but as a blessed guest.

No matter how wanted the pregnancy, many women start to think of it as a parasite at some point during the pregnancy. Round about the "I'm going to be pregnant FOREVER!!!" stage of the third trimester, most often. [Wink]
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Dan, I think it is morally relevant, too. I even think that it is morally relevant if the parasite is only a cluster of cells with the potential to become a human being.

But you think that body sovereignty trumps it, right?

I guess I'm just confused at how that can be a consistent position.

How do you justify any violation of body sovereignty, then?

To pick a nice extreme example: How do you justify prisons? They violate the right of the imprisoned to do with their body what they will. Isn't that more important than other moral considerations like murder?

What am I missing?

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
*I realize that most people don't regard the embryo/fetus as a parasite but as a blessed guest.

No matter how wanted the pregnancy, many women start to think of it as a parasite at some point during the pregnancy. Round about the "I'm going to be pregnant FOREVER!!!" stage of the third trimester, most often. [Wink]
Heh!

I've also known women who wanted the baby a lot, but still likened pregnancy to a parasite pretty much throughout the entire nine months.

I suspect I sure would.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Dan, I think it is morally relevant, too. I even think that it is morally relevant if the parasite is only a cluster of cells with the potential to become a human being.

But you think that body sovereignty trumps it, right?


Right.

quote:

I guess I'm just confused at how that can be a consistent position.

How do you justify any violation of body sovereignty, then?

To pick a nice extreme example: How do you justify prisons? They violate the right of the imprisoned to do with their body what they will. Isn't that more important than other moral considerations like murder?

What am I missing?

Do you see the difference between confining someone and, for example, using prisoners to test experimental drugs or forcing them to become blood or organ donors?

And in the case of pregnancy, we are talking about women who have committed no crime.

For the record, I think that mentally competent people should be legally allowed to commit suicide though I would propose that the desire to commit suicide may be an argument against competence in most cases. As well as being, in most cases, immoral.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
I've also known women who wanted the baby a lot, but still likened pregnancy to a parasite pretty much throughout the entire nine months.

Sure, but we are a smaller percentage.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Dan, I think it is morally relevant, too. I even think that it is morally relevant if the parasite is only a cluster of cells with the potential to become a human being.

But you think that body sovereignty trumps it, right?


Right.

quote:

I guess I'm just confused at how that can be a consistent position.

How do you justify any violation of body sovereignty, then?

To pick a nice extreme example: How do you justify prisons? They violate the right of the imprisoned to do with their body what they will. Isn't that more important than other moral considerations like murder?

What am I missing?

Do you see the difference between confining someone and, for example, using prisoners to test experimental drugs or forcing them to become blood or organ donors?

And in the case of pregnancy, we are talking about women who have committed no crime.

Right, sorry, I wasn't actually trying to liken pregnant women to criminals! I was just clarifying that you do agree there are limits to the "body sovereignty over all other considerations" position. And you seem to have agreed that there are. Right?
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kmbboots
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Not really.
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Dan_Frank
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Wait, so there are no limits to "body sovereignty over all other considerations" in your opinion?

But then we're back to prisoners. Forget forcing prisoners to test experimental drugs. Simply forcing them to stay in a cell and eat the food you give them and go where you tell them to go and sleep when you tell them to sleep completely violates the sovereignty of their body. Doesn't it?

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kmbboots
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No. Confining a body is very different from invading a body. It is the difference between locking someone up and what we won't do.
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The Rabbit
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I'm with Kate. There is a very fundamental bright line difference between restricting what a person can do WITH their body and legislating what can be done TO their body.

And by the way, AFAIK prisoners can not be forced to eat the food the are given. Force feeding is consider a bodily violation and is no longer allowed.

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Dan_Frank
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Okay, but we don't let prisoners do heroin, right? Or is there equally a bright line difference between letting someone add something to their body vs. letting them remove something from their body?

What if a prisoner has a bag of heroin in his colon? They'll forcibly remove it, right? Is that okay, or is that a violation of body sovereignty?

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CT
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
What if a prisoner has a bag of heroin in his colon? They'll forcibly remove it, right?

I doubt it. Allowing it to pass through on its own in due time (with monitoring) is likely safest and least likely to spill contents internally, anyway. All official policy I've seen on this is to watch and wait with careful monitoring.

Or are you using the term "colon" to include "rectum"? Medically they are distinct areas, with the anal canal and distal portion of the rectal cavity being the parts accessed during a body cavity search.

(Johns Hopkins GI on colorectal cancer anatomy)

[ May 10, 2012, 08:13 AM: Message edited by: CT ]

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Okay, but we don't let prisoners do heroin, right?
Technically, I believe the laws prohibit a person (prisoner or not) from possessing heroin. Not taking it.

And for the record, I do consider a cavity search to be a breach of a persons body sovereignty. I find it very disturbing that the threshold for doing these searches is being lowered.

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