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Austin Cline

Abortion: Bad Because It Means Sex Without Consequences

By March 27, 2006

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The rhetoric of anti-choice activists usually focuses on the fetus and the premise that a fetus has the same moral status as a child or adult - therefore, abortion is murder. Are the policies advocated by these activists consistent with this premise, though? If this is what they really believe, shouldn't we expect their actions and agenda to be consistent with their beliefs?

Alas has a nice chart showing which of the policies of the anti-choice activists are consistent with “abortion is wrong because it is murder” and which are consistent with “abortion is wrong because women shouldn’t be allowed to have sex without consequences.” Guess what? Almost all the policy positions in question are more consistent with the latter than with the former, including:

Abortion bans which provide exceptions for rape and incest.
Advocating less generous welfare for poor single mothers.
Opposing a vaccine for the human papilloma virus (HPV).
Morally condemning extremists who bomb abortion clinics.

Alas was inspired by Molly, who has “Twenty Questions” for people who want to make abortion illegal:

1) Should women who abort get life sentences in prison and/or the death penalty?
2) If a woman’s husband knows she is aborting, should he be charged as an accessory to murder?
3) How about her friends who know?
4) Should abortion doctors receive life sentences in prison and/or the death penalty?
12) If an electric company has a power failure which cuts power to a fertility clinic, thawing embryos and rendering them unusable, should they be liable for mass murder?
17) Should a person with 15 frozen embryos in storage be required to carry each embryo as soon as possible?
18) If I had 15 embryos in storage, should I be able to claim them as dependents on my tax paperwork?
20) Should one in three American women be imprisoned or sentenced to death?

In the responses to this and another post, she received evidence of something she had long suspected to be true: criminalization of abortion is advocated not for the sake of the life of the fetus, but for the sake of forcing women to “take responsibility” for having sex by not allowing her to avoid the negative consequences that might result from sex.

If it was really about life, forced organ donation would be mandatory for living people who had organ matches with other living people. If it was really about life, every single anti-abortion person would have said that 1/3 of American women (that’s the number who’ve had abortions, folks -- and it’s worth noting that in the early 20th century this proportion was higher, not lower) are murderers who should be given the penalty for premeditated murder.

But what I did see, over and over, were people saying that there should be “responsibility.” That when you have sex, you know there is a finite chance it will result in pregnancy. That was the difference most people complained about in the forced organ donation questions -- that in one case, you are responsible for a life.

Guess what that means? It means it’s NOT ABOUT LIFE. If abortions should be illegal but there should not be forced marrow donations from living donors, the distinction isn’t one of life, it’s one of responsibility.

Of course, the whole “take responsibility” argument is also nonsense because people never, or almost never, use it in other circumstances. We all know that you’re safer if you wear a seat belt while in a car, but we don’t deny medical treatment to someone who is injured after not wearing a seat belt, do we? We don’t say “you knew that you could be injured if you didn’t wear your seat belt, so just take responsibility for your choices and bleed.”

Why don’t we use this line of argument generally? Because “taking responsibility” has never been an objection to trying to avoid foreseeable consequences to our actions. Everything we do carries risks of consequences which we’d rather not deal with. Most are small; some are large. In all cases, we take basic precautions to avoid them. If the negative consequence happen anyway, we take steps to deal with them. Does this mean that we aren’t taking responsibility? Of course not — that’s absurd.

But that's just what anti-choice activists appear to be arguing in the context of abortion.

 

Christian Right & Christian Nationalism:

 

Christian Right & Abortion:

Comments
April 14, 2007 at 8:39 pm
(1) Ross says:

I find these questions intriguing. I cannot say unequivocally “yes” to life in prison for a mother’s abortion of an unborn child. I actually believe a lesser penalty than life would be rational, when compared to the different degrees of murder and manslaughter and considering the surrounding circumstances that mitigate penalties generally. Since I am against capital punishment as well as abortion, I can definitely say that I would not condone that punishment. The general difficulty I have with the posed questions is, can this alternate question be answered unequivocally “no” by pro-choice people? Should a person who causes the death of an unborn child get a life sentence in prison and/or the death penalty? If the answer is not always no, than there are circumstances when the unborn child is being given some rights prior to birth – acknowledging that the child is a person in certain circumstances. Then criminal liability and “person” status of the child turn on whether the mother wanted to bring the child to term or not. The offender would be either a murderer or an abortionist, based on the mother’s decision. That seems to violated due process more than allowing a unborn child to be born. The consistent answer for pro-choice people is to say the unborn child is never a person and unequivocally “no” to the above question. Can you really say that? Maybe you can.

April 14, 2007 at 9:20 pm
(2) Austin Cline says:

I actually believe a lesser penalty than life would be rational, when compared to the different degrees of murder and manslaughter and considering the surrounding circumstances that mitigate penalties generally.

Can you provide any case law or precedence for not treating pre-meditated murder as anything less than first degree murder? Yes, there are varying levels of murder and manslaughter, but you would have to demonstrate that their standards apply to abortion. I don’t think you can.

Should a person who causes the death of an unborn child get a life sentence in prison and/or the death penalty? If the answer is not always no, than there are circumstances when the unborn child is being given some rights prior to birth

Unless the punishment is for harming the interests of the women — her interest in giving birth to that child.

May 4, 2007 at 6:54 pm
(3) John Hanks says:

We can’t get rid of the providers until we get rid of the mentioners. (Given the nature of populations and people in general, who are insufferable when they run in packs, we should probably develop some way of recognizing those who have given up their unborn children – like war mothers perhaps.

September 26, 2008 at 4:23 pm
(4) Adam says:

I find your questions rather misleading. Of course an electric company wouldn’t be charged with mass murder. They wouldn’t be charged with murder if the power goes out to a hospital either. This doesn’t make the people in the hospital less alive. Be serious. Your credibility just went out the window with that one. Also, egg seperate from sperm is not a child. It takes both. Please. Also, if a law was passed today those mothers who had aborted while it was illegal would obviously not be at fault as they did this under legal circumstances. Please come up with a valid reason for defending the murder of inocent children…

December 16, 2008 at 9:00 pm
(5) Marlia says:

Wait…why don’t mother simply put the baby up for adoption? Oh right, because that means they’d have to face the consequences of their actions…we wouldn’t want that? We would much much rather just have a living human being die, just because of our own selfishness.

I admit, the whole seat belt thing was a very good explanation…you’re forgetting something though: by not wearing a seat belt, you are not putting a completely innocent person to death. There’s a big difference.

December 16, 2008 at 9:04 pm
(6) Austin Cline says:

Wait…why don’t mother simply put the baby up for adoption?

It still means going through a pregnancy.

I admit, the whole seat belt thing was a very good explanation…you’re forgetting something though: by not wearing a seat belt, you are not putting a completely innocent person to death. There’s a big difference.

When you have an abortion, you aren’t ending the life of a person who has any legal or moral claims on the use of your body and organs. Big difference.

December 23, 2008 at 11:39 am
(7) John Hanks says:

Abortion removes a fetus that can’t breathe – and that is only in the later stages. One of the stupidest things about most religions is that they are mainly nothing but fertility cults.

December 23, 2008 at 12:55 pm
(8) Todd says:

“Wait…why don’t mother simply put the baby up for adoption?”

Because that means for 9 months she has to be called a slut, and then has to suffer the emotional trauma of birthing a child and then handing it to a stranger.

A for consequences, i’ve noticed that the anti-woman crowd (you) only want the woman to suffer the consequences. What about the father? What consequences does he face? Let’s try this: She can have the child and then FORCE the father to take full custody and responsibility. i bet if such a law were in place a lot of men would suddenly become pro-choice.

Go get raped by a crack head, then we’ll talk about consequences.

December 23, 2008 at 3:11 pm
(9) MrMarkAZ says:

We would much much rather just have a living human being dielive, just because of our own selfishness.

Yeah, I can see how churches, which are entirely dependent on tithing and donations from its members, have absolutely no selfish interest in forcing as many babies to be born/baptized into their ranks as possible.

I have nothing but contempt and disgust for the forced-birth contingent and their rampant hypocrisy.

December 23, 2008 at 5:03 pm
(10) Paul Val says:

One of my right-wing Christian friends was very vocally anti-abortion until their 16 year-old daughter became pregnant. She had an abortion with her parents’ consent and I never heard another word about abortion.

I know of no one who is pro-abortion in spite of some of the comments of the anti-abortion crowd. Pro-choice is a much better choice of words.

December 24, 2008 at 2:00 am
(11) Drew says:

Religious policies on birth and abortion were created in the Bronze Age, when medicine was non-existent, death was common, population growth was slow, and every tribe was only one plague or invasion away from extinction.

Today, medicine is amazing, and global birth rates are killing our planet.

Rather than endlessly debating this issue, maybe it would be more useful to bring up this aspect. Let’s talk about why ancient religions have the view of abortion that they have: they come from a time when the tribe needed every person – mother and child – it had, just to survive against external threats. This is not the world we now live in, so such primitive rationale for our decisions needs to be discarded. If a religionist can’t give secular arguments against abortion, then they have given no arguments at all.

December 24, 2008 at 4:20 am
(12) Zack says:

Today, medicine is amazing, and global birth rates are killing our planet. — Drew on December 24, 2008 at 2:00 am

Birth rates are high in some developing countries because the infant mortality rates have historically been high. Having a lot of children has been a rational way to improve the odds that at least one child survives to take care of you in your old age.

As a nation’s per capita income rises, the birth rate generally falls. In many developed countries, the urgent problem today and for the coming decades is declining population.

December 25, 2008 at 5:23 pm
(13) Tom Edgar says:

Zack .. Excuse me. Can you point to one advanced country where the population gas declined? In Australia idiots are talking of a population of 40 million, double the present.

We are, right now, having trouble supplying water to the present population and that is a commodity that cannot be increased. Yes we could consume less and less until there are too many people to whom we can supply nothing at all.

December 26, 2008 at 12:02 pm
(14) Drew says:

Hello Tom.

Name one country? Japan. The first nation to see population decrease. They will be followed by others in Europe, like Italy and Germany. Japan is even considering (gasp!) immigration, something they have really restricted until now.

Don’t look only at the absolute numbers, Tom. Look at the birth rates. In many advanced countries, the birth rate is below 2.2, which is the number of birts per fertile woman needed to maintain population. Canadians, for example, have a BR of 1.4. Many European nations, and now some Asian ones, are below 2.2. What’s keeping them growing is immigration.

The global birth rates killing the planet are the ones occurring in Africa and some Asian Muslim states – precisely the areas that can’t feed their own populations, and which are, to be blunt, creating more religiously retarded morons with which to cause problems in the world.

The hope for the planet is that as other nations lower their BR, there will be no surplus population in poorer countries to export, which will end immmigration to richer ones, thus starting population decrease.

And then the economic consequences of THAT will begin . . .

Cheers.

May 10, 2009 at 4:59 pm
(15) Katie says:

I believe killing an unborn child is morally wrong and the people who kill should be punished for it. If the women had life in prison, there wouldn’t be enough room due to the mass amounts of women killing their babies. There’s nothing we can do about the past, but we can make killing babie’s illegal for the future. They have no say in anything that happens to them. If the mother didn’t want to carry the baby or have the responsibility, then they shouldn’t have SEX! Not all forms of birth control work. Don’t have sex if you’re not ready to be a mother. If all else fails, the baby can always be put up for adoption. A family will care for it and love it, since the people who want to get abortions obviously don’t. Plus, the mother won’t have to live with the guilt of it for the rest of their lives. It’s common sense.

May 10, 2009 at 6:36 pm
(16) Austin Cline says:

I believe killing an unborn child is morally wrong and the people who kill should be punished for it.

Why?

If the women had life in prison, there wouldn’t be enough room due to the mass amounts of women killing their babies. There’s nothing we can do about the past, but we can make killing babie’s illegal for the future.

And why do you think there would be substantially fewer in the future?

They have no say in anything that happens to them. If the mother didn’t want to carry the baby or have the responsibility, then they shouldn’t have SEX!

Why not?

Don’t have sex if you’re not ready to be a mother.

Why not?

If all else fails, the baby can always be put up for adoption.

Or have an abortion.

A family will care for it and love it,

That’s why there are so many kids languishing in foster care now.

Plus, the mother won’t have to live with the guilt of it for the rest of their lives.

They don’t all feel guilt now.

It’s common sense.

Then why can’t you support all your assertions?

December 29, 2011 at 1:10 pm
(17) katie marie says:

Its nice to see some people have brains. Why not have sex. Not everyone wants to be a mother but everyone wants to have sex. Thats common sense. :P oh and btw they arent babies yet its a fetus. You call it a baby because that how your minds set any lil thing its gotta be a baby. Aww look at the baby puppy. oh look at the baby carrots. oh look at the baby pool. <.< Babies are babies when they are born. And also it doesnt have any legal rights just because it was made here. it could be made here and born in italy and not be american just saying. Until its born its a fetus and the person should have a right to get rid of it. Its like (Sorry to be so cold on the subject) A pimple one squeeze and gone. Do you know how many people in other countries would like this right? Why dont you people go focus on some bigger american issues like whos gonna win american idol or who gets to drive to mc donalds and who gets watch the kids and leave this stuff to people who dont put their emotions up in stuff kay? :) not directed to you austin lol just couldnt comment but i absolutely love your comment to said person there

February 22, 2010 at 3:30 pm
(18) Raphael Metayer says:

Austin Cline,

When can we tell the difference between making responsbile decisions and abuse. SI there a deciding factor? I mean are women being too careless when it comes to MULTIPLE aortions? I’m pro-choice and am for the right for women to have bodily autonomy,..but those this lead to carelessness and neglect in the notion.

It’s understandable, you don’t want to continue a pregnancy, than you get an abortion. BUt shouldn’t it be agreed that chronic repetition might be a bit suspicious(not punished or penalized) but at least investigated?

Like you said

“Of course, the whole “take responsibility” argument is also nonsense because people never, or almost never, use it in other circumstances. We all know that you’re safer if you wear a seat belt while in a car, but we don’t deny medical treatment to someone who is injured after not wearing a seat belt, do we? We don’t say “you knew that you could be injured if you didn’t wear your seat belt, so just take responsibility for your choices and bleed.”

But really how many times can this person get in an accident without thinking about “taking a drivers saftey course” or being “properly prepared” for the next “accident”.Some peole realize that they can’t abstain from sex so they get tehir tubes tied or have a vasectomy.

What do we do in this notion of multiple abortions?
Just keep emphasizing the right bodily autonmy?

February 22, 2010 at 4:34 pm
(19) Austin Cline says:

I’m pro-choice and am for the right for women to have bodily autonomy,..but those this lead to carelessness and neglect in the notion.

The same is true of all liberties.

Talking more generally, the right to personal bodily autonomy means people can be careless in all sorts of ways with their bodies. Do you therefore want to deny them their right to autonomy now?

BUt shouldn’t it be agreed that chronic repetition might be a bit suspicious(not punished or penalized) but at least investigated?

Do we investigate people with chronic health problems due to what they eat or chronic injuries due to their lifestyle?

What do you mean by “investigation”? Can you explain what sort of “investigation” you have in mind that wouldn’t clearly be an attempt to stigmatize and intimidate women?

What do we do in this notion of multiple abortions?

Why do you assume that “we” should be doing anything? The question presumes some sort of authority over women’s bodies.

Do you ask “what do we do in this notion of multiple knee injuries due to bad running form?” Do you suggest investigating runners? Of course not. It’s only women and the consequences of their sexual behavior that elicits such an attitude — and it’s an attitude based on patriarchal assumptions about the proper role of women relative to men and reproduction.

February 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm
(20) Raphael Metayer says:

“Why do you assume that “we” should be doing anything?”

My apologies wrong choice of words.

“Do you therefore want to deny them their right to autonomy now?”

No I don’t..I just wanted to know would you think it be ludicrous if anyone got pregnant just to get an abortion?

“Do we investigate people with chronic health problems due to what they eat or chronic injuries due to their lifestyle?”

You wouldn’t be curious of a woman’s reasons , let’s say, If a she had 20 abortions or more? I don’t want to intimidate her. I do want the abortion rates to go down that is.
Is it wrong to suggest a sex education class for her?

“What do you mean by “investigation”?”

More like an interview. Not investigation by authority. The chronic health probelms are due to bad eating we get it. So we subscribe insuilin for the diabetic etc. But a PERSON who shows up in the doctors office because they constantly keep getting into car accidents every month per say. WOuld it be wrong to ask the “careless” patient what’s going on? Are you wearing your “seatbelt”. What type of car or model are you driving? Who was the manufacturer?. Do you have corrected vision?, Are you arthritic? That type of investigation. No need for force involved or authority whatsoever.

Is there no such thing as a ridcoulous amount before we ask what’s going on? The abortionist don’t have to deny them anything. Just humble suggestions for that will of course benefit women after they investigate. That’s all I’m saying.

February 25, 2010 at 2:02 pm
(21) Raphael Metayer says:

after all we would be saving them a bunch of money if we got that person to “eat right” or “drive safe”.

May 7, 2010 at 10:22 am
(22) ti ti says:

see nw im against abortions like crazy and my words to todd u dnt knw exactly wat u tawkin bout lyk seriously cum on nw because hw can a female b calld a slut while he’s pregnant datz jusz childish shyd main lyk 4real n den wat u sayin isz dat if there is a 20-30 year old woman n she’s pregnant den yurr callin ha a slut and she’s a grown woman and da same goez fa yung teenage moms too because i went thru a pregnancy n i had my child and yez he doez have a father and sees hiz dad every day ..so when u are teying to call yung women sluts think b4 u speak…….and im reppin 4 all da yung teenage MOTHERS out there….

May 12, 2010 at 10:25 am
(23) Payton says:

what? Calm down and quit your bitchin. abortion is immoral and wrong but you cant denie a person to their freedom.

January 19, 2011 at 11:47 pm
(24) Dan says:

I don’t think roe should be overturned, but I find abortion morally disgusting.

My argument for current law annoys those that want legal change. If a woman intentionally or unintentionally miscarried, how is my place to know? It’d be a witch hunt.

And for those that advocate for abortion, why has it been so heavily practiced in the us? Is it cuz of the law? No. It is because motherhood fell out of pop culture and college, jobs, partying, etc ame into higher importance. And I reserve the right to hold motherhood in higher regard.

I’m Dan Fall and that’s my two cents worth.

January 20, 2011 at 6:44 am
(25) Austin Cline says:

I reserve the right to hold motherhood in higher regard.

Then become a mother yourself.

December 29, 2011 at 1:02 pm
(26) ally kale says:

Well its nice to sit here and read what ignorance some people have in this world. Now Imagine this will you please:

A 15 year old girl. Who makes a mistake one time and sleeps with a boy. Her first time. Condom breaks and she becomes pregnant. She has her whole life RIPPED from her fingers. No college cause she cannot afford it. She doesnt even have her lisences. No Highschool degree because she has to sit at home and care for a MISTAKE and yes it is what it is. No future because she was too young and made one mistake and now as a kid herself has to care for a kid.

now you think abortion is oh so wrong listen how it could have been reversed.

!5 year old girl gets pregnant. She has an abortion. 30 minutes ov pain a days rest. Girl goes back to school. Girl graduates highschool and goes to college and becomes a doctor. Which would you rather have your kid go through? Having their dreams ripped away or a little procedure that gives their dream back? I mean honestly you can’t say your kid hasnt had sex or hasnt thought about it because teenagers always do Im a teenager myself I live in highschool now Its not like it was oh so many years ago EVERY kid has sex and if you dont your made fun of its reverse now. You will never understand the preasures kids nowadays go through.

Maybe if America didnt put sex in every thing every ad and tv show kids wouldnt be doing it so why dont ya try to ban that? Oh wait you cant cause thats the only thing that gets peoples attention -.- but ya sure can put your two cents in this cause GASP you think its wrong well question.. Have you been through this? Has your kids come home and said hey im pregnant have you had to sit there and think how the hell your gonna manage? If not then shut up cause you have no place in this

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