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Trevor Stone's Journal
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The Problems with Fetal Rights 
1st-Feb-2002 02:34 pm
Trevor baby stare
Some potential probelms with defining life to begin at conception, in light of recent policy announcements by the Bush administration.

First, if this is done to provide prenatal care for mothers, why define life at such an arbitrary point as conception? Part of responsible mothering is proper planning. Should CHIP provide coverage for pregnancy tests (not sure if there's a fetus yet or not!), planning visits to the doctor, fertility drugs, etc? Can you take a health insurance policy out for your unborn child and then cash in when you miscarriage? There's gotta be a way to abuse that, though it may not be worth the annoyance.

If fetuses are persons, could a woman who miscarries be charged with involuntary manslaughter? If you shoot a pregnant woman, will you get two murder charges? What if the embryo is in the process of splitting into identical twins. Two and a half charges?

Further, upon what grounds is the fetus a human? Not on any functional grounds, and near conception not on any significant biological grounds. The Bush administration obviously doesn't want to protect it just because it's a living being. The only two things human about an embryo are its DNA and its potential. But if these were conditions for personhood, how can Bush oppose stem cells and cloning? A clone has human DNA and human potential.

But my real objection is as follows. The right to life is not just a bitter claim to shards of undesirability. The right to life is the right to a life worth living. Just as the right to liberty isn't met with a miniscule amount of liberty (you have the freedom to choose the color of your bedsheets), the right to life isn't met when you're forced to live in miserable conditions.

And what living conditions are more miserable than being an unwanted child? If your mother would prefer to stop the spread of her genes, revolting against innate urges of love and caring, would you really want her to be a part of your life?

All people will die. What matters is what a person does between birth and death. If life will be terrible for the get-go, the liver will likely cause problems for others, etc., the responsible thing to do is to end the project before anyone vests interest in it. The world is already full of enough problematic unloved children. Do not bring another to the faceless crowd.

Just remember, Hitler, Stalin, bin Laden, Harris, and Klebold could all have been aborted. Will you make the right choice?

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Comments 
1st-Feb-2002 02:28 pm (UTC)

The notion of sticking someone with additional penalities if they kill a pregnant woman is not new. The Republicans That Be were doing the soft-shoe shuffle around it early in 2001, but it dropped off the radar somewhat inconclusively. So at least as far as that goes, the answer from pro-life forces seems to be "Yeah, and?"

Your closing argument, aside from being Godwin's Law bait, strikes me as exceptionally specious: so could Hawking, Einstein, Hemingway, and the Dalai Lama. Whether you believe nature or nurture sends people bad, a fetus' fate cannot be discerned in utero. That's little more than a cheap political point.

6th-Feb-2002 07:39 pm (UTC)
The final argument was intended to be a non-philosophical pithy response to "What if Einstein had been aborted?"

And I'll support additional penalties for harm done to pregnant mothers when they also have to pay extra for an all-you-can-eat buffet, buy two tickets for transportation, etc.

Hrm. I wonder if one could get pregnant before tax time, get the $500 per child tax credit, and then induce miscarriage...

I'd probably be less obsessed about abusing miscarriage if I had any idea the pain involved.
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