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Speaker: Abortion: morality and health

145 Responses

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  • Deborah, in reply to Craig Young,

    One ghastly aspect of the current CSA Act is that it doesn’t include a clause about rape as a qualifying ground.

    Yes. That's because many men in the House thought that women would lie and say they had been raped in order to get an abortion. 87 seats in the House at the time, only four held by women. All four women, from both parties, argued against this horrid idea, but too many men there just didn't believe them. So rape is a circumstance that a doctor may take into account, but it is not in itself grounds for abortion.

    This is one of the reasons why we need to be concerned about the number of women in the House. Sigh.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Yes, as long as they're pro-choice women. Remember Margaret Austin (Labour) and Judy Turner (United Future) from the eighties and nineties? And I agree, it was truly obscene that a predominantly male Parliament made the decision to exclude rape from the CSA Act.

    At present, there's a theoretical split between the 'moderate' antis in Voice for Life, who "only" want "informed consent" (sic: translation: forcing women to watch mendacious anti-abortion propaganda that totally misrepresents embryonic and fetal development), parental 'notification and consent' (sic: translation: which means forcing pregnant incest survivors to go through a circuitous judicial bypass process) ad nauseum... and Right to Life New Zealand, hardliners that want abortion prohibited. In practice, the theoretical split is rather hazy- look at their website link pages. The NZ antis are supplied with propaganda, tactical and strategic advice from US anti-abortion groups such as National Right to Life and the American Life League. Fortunately, they suffered heavy attrition due to their aged composition. There have been a number of shortlived satellites of RTL and VFL over the years such as tertiary student anti-abortion groups, 'abortion survivor' fundamentalist womens groups etc.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    The antis also regularly use junk 'science' to get their points across with the following methodological flaws:
    -small sample sizes
    -short sample durations
    -inferential jumps that cannot be supported by the data
    -establishing parallel anti-abortion professional organisations to mainstream counterparts.
    -reheating and tweaking unrepresentative data sets from otherwise pro-choice research results
    -refusing to acknowledge their conservative Catholic/fundamentalist Protestant/religious social conservative anti-abortion interpretative bias at the onset
    -misrepresenting the safety of abortion procedures; misrepresenting psychological sequelae of abortion; manufacturing 'post-abortion trauma' within conservative Christian anti-abortion groups; misrepresenting embryonic and fetal development;
    lying about fetal neurohormonal development and response to pain stimuli; downplaying adverse results of pregnancy and childbirth; imposing onerous 'targeted regulation' of abortion providers (TRAP); banning late-term abortions without regard for lethal fetal abnormalities or threats to women's lives and health through pregnancy continuation; blocking access to emergency contraception because it is "abortifacient"; concealing their conservative Catholic animus against contraception and evidence-based comprehensive sex education.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Deborah,

    I think we can treat women as autonomous moral adults, and allow them to make that decision for themselves.

    This!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    My late ex mother-in-law was a bit of a party girl in 1930s Wellington. She said (although she was careful to stress this was not a first hand account) that everyone knew where to find a local abortionist. Unfortunately the personal risk was high. She also mentioned that some of the conservative and powerful men about town were the cause.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    She also mentioned that some of the conservative and powerful men about town were the cause.

    So it’s less about actual morals, and more about ‘bugger the rules, I make them!’. It doesn’t seem far removed from what drives paedophile priests to commit acts of hypocrisy.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to Deborah,

    Yes, it’s a vexed moral issue, and there is no clear dividing line between human person / not human person. We’re fairly clear that a baby is a human person (Peter Singer <i>et al</i> not withstanding), and we’re fairly clear that a newly fertilised egg is not (various religious types not withstanding). So we leave it to individuals to decide.

    So when people say that women shouldn’t have the right to choose for themselves whether or not they carry a pregnancy or terminate it, we are treating them as moral infants. We say that they are incapable of making that moral choice for themselves.

    Absolutely. In this day and age, laws are generally written to give a high degree of moral and intellectual autonomy to individuals. We usually only constrain them when that autonomy causes significant harm to others - for example free speech becomes fraud under certain circumstances. We treat people as moral infants where we think their behaviour will cause harm.

    Limit cases are important, because they define the edge of what is acceptable. If we state that autonomy of the woman is a superseding factor from a certain point until birth, that is a moral judgement.

    That point might be consciousness, nocioception, assisted viability, 'natural' viability, or some other defining characteristic or bundle of characteristics. I'm fine with other people advocating that the woman's autonomy supersedes all of these, but there is a large group of people who would not, and as each point in the fetus' development is reached that group gets larger.

    These people are the reason this law has not changed - to answer Lamia's question.

    It's my opinion that either you change these people's perceptions, or you find the point that will get the great majority of current abortions legalised.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to George Darroch,

    It’s my opinion that either you change these people’s perceptions, or you find the point that will get the great majority of current abortions legalised

    Which might just be a patronising way of saying "be realistic" and "advocate for incremental change".

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Iain Thorpe, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    There isn't any good system of rules or morality that punishes people for what they might do. If Russell is not around to moderate then comments should be shut down for everyone, not just intransigent "pro-lifers ".

    Wellington • Since Jun 2015 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Iain Thorpe,

    I'd like to think that as a long-term member of this community I would get more leeway than an abortion troll to comment in Russell's absence. C'mon.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to George Darroch,

    a patronising way

    Not at all! Or at least I didn't read your comment that way at all. Or something. Greatest respect for the way you approach conversations here...

    advocate for incremental change

    Yes. The weird thing is, in general there's fairly widespread support for abortion in NZ, and it really is only a minority who oppose women being able to make that choice. It would be good to be able to persuade anti-abortion people to change their minds, but in the meantime, it would be good to progress some law changes as well. Both the Greens and the Labour party have policy positions supporting this. The Greens have a more explicit position that insists on the law being changed to something like the Victorian model (as in the state of Victoria in Australia), and Labour has a more pragmatic approach of kicking the question of abortion law reform to the Law Commission, in the hopes that this would depoliticise the process of changing the law.

    (Actually, given what I've been saying in this thread, I'm more in tune with the Greens' policy here, and George, given what you've been saying, I think you might be more in tune with the Labour policy, and that's just doing my head in so I'm going back to writing an assignment for my tax students.)

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Iain Thorpe,

    If Russell is not around to moderate then comments should be shut down for everyone, not just intransigent “pro-lifers ”.

    This discussion is not about moderation. It's about an issue which is sensitive, and extremely painful and personal to some people. This is a community where we value those voices and try to provide safe spaces for them. If you don't like that, there are plenty of other places you can go that don't. The internet is a very big place. You may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, etc.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Iain Thorpe,

    There isn’t any good system of rules or morality that punishes people for what they might do. If Russell is not around to moderate then comments should be shut down for everyone, not just intransigent “pro-lifers ”.

    Most of the people here can be trusted to either not say anything particularly harmful OR if they do and get called on it apologize and try and make amends.

    Trust is earned over time. Quite simply kiwi_guy hadn't been here long enough to have earned that trust and in his brief time here had made comments that strongly indicated that he was likely to make comments that would be harmful.

    You can argue one rule for all but that really isn't applicable.

    Meanwhile in his absence people have been able to make meaningful contributions based on personal experience - I am not certain that would have been possible with kiwi_guy here, even if his comments were being moderated.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to George Darroch,

    Well, the law (and society) might be treating that fetus as a human, a potential human (ie, greater than zero set of rights), or a non-human entity.

    Human is the species. But any old bit of human tissue is not a person.
    And if you start talking about "potential people", you get back to eggs and sperm and not wasting them, which is clearly absurd.

    if you get it wrong, it’s about killing people. If you get it right it’s about women having control over a medical condition they’re experiencing.

    I think that (early 21st Century gay-marrying NZ) society is collectively quite comfortable with granting the latter and preventing the former. That’s basically abortion on demand in the early stages of pregnancy, with highly restricted abortion in later stages.

    Abortion is currently illegal unless bearing a child will harm the mother. Broad interpretation of "harm" is all that currently allows women to get abortions in NZ.

    "Viability" is a tricky threshold because with massive technological intervention some babies born at 23 weeks can survive, although they are far from fully developed.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to George Darroch,

    That's basically abortion on demand...

    What with kiwi_guy fulminating against "demanding" feminists, surely it's high time that nastily loaded old phrase was put out of its misery. As someone put it way back in 1976, if abortion on demand rankles, how about abortion on polite request?

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    What we really need is laws that force women to give up other organs to their children as well. Imagine if a child gets heart disease and it's mother refuses to donate hers in replacement? Merely because of a few health concerns or fears for the future, when really, it was her choice to get pregnant in the first place.

    Natural consequences you see. A little semen in the vagina and next thing they know they'll have lost all rights over their own body for the indefinite term. That'll keep the wee minxes under control, eh wot. Wot wot.

    Since Nov 2006 • 608 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    In my teens and early 20s, I didn’t think abortion was a moral issue. I was comfortable with the line being drawn at about 12 weeks, quite possibly later, and with the idea that any woman should be able to end any pregnancy up to then as easily as ordering a pizza, only the pizza should be free.

    Later I had the privilege of discussing abortion with a friend who had worked as an abortion nurse. She said that the only ones she found difficult were the late abortions – the ones performed for medical rather than psychological reasons, between 12 and 16 weeks. The closer they got to 16 weeks, the more the fetuses started looking like very little babies, and she said she sometimes found those tiny bodies distressing. Which is natural. This didn’t shake her pro-choice views, it just meant that she did see it as a moral question. But I think she, and certainly I, would endorse Deborah’s comment that that moral decision is one that women have the right to make for themselves.

    These conversations, and life experience, meant that for me, while it would have been entirely acceptable for me to have ended a pregnancy before my life was financially and economically stable, it would have been a more complex decision after I was married and settled. I think if I had had an unexpected third pregnancy in my 30s, I possibly would have had three children, despite the inconvenience. But possibly not, since I never had to make that decision. Now that I’m in my 40s, and my youngest child is 11, not a chance. A pregnancy would be terminated as swiftly as the current less than ideal laws would allow.

    I don’t think pre-abortion counselling, or at least “checking in” is a bad thing. If a woman’s having an abortion when she doesn’t really want to, that’s not good either. But the counselling should be in the context of support, not a hurdle that must be jumped in order to gain access to an abortion. It could, for example, be checking that your decision is a sane decision, not having to establish that you need to end your pregnancy to get your sanity back.

    As an aside – I was always entertained by McGillicuddy Serious’ abortion policy, which was to allow abortion, but only post-natal abortion, up to the age of 18 years – on the condition that the mother performed the “abortion” herself. They said they’d chosen the policy on the grounds that it would hopefully offend every side in the debate.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    I demand a public health system (and can we also have a welfare state please).

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew C, in reply to kiwi_guy,

    If a women CHOOSES to be sexually active she can take RESPONSIBILITY for that, not the tax payer.

    So the rich are fuckers, and the poor are wankers? Something to please all sides of the spectrum I guess...

    Auckland • Since May 2008 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Iain Thorpe, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I've always assumed that virulent anti-abortion sentiment does not come from a happy place. Why do you think people act like that? Is some people's pain more important than others? The sub-issue is about moderation, fair play and freedom of speech. I've always thought that free speech is probably the single most important right in our society and we are all damaged when it is restricted. Blocking someone on the basis that they might say something upsetting in future while letting others speak is wrong at a very fundamental level.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2015 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Iain Thorpe,

    I’ve always thought that free speech is probably the single most important right in our society and we are all damaged when it is restricted.

    xkcd on what freedom of speech actually is.

    Also, I think you're working from an assumption that if everyone is allowed to say whatever they like, you hear all voices. This simply isn't the case. Virulent, aggressive speech causes some people to withdraw, to stop speaking. Speech is not a level playing field. It's harder for some voices to get heard than others.

    You don't like it. I get that. You've said it several times now. You don't appear to have listened much to anything anyone has said in response.

    I've always assumed that anti-abortion sentiment comes from a place where ignorance, lack of empathy, and a massive sense of entitlement cavort merrily together through the fields.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Amazing how when Russell bans a troll, another one immediately pops up defending him. Sock puppet, anyone?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Yeah, Emma, it's called patriarchal religious social conservatism. Happily, the Christian Right is not what it used to be, apart from the asinine derivative bobbings of Mr McCoskrie and his Family First cohorts and Colon Craig's Conservipated Party. And these days, that's about all.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Lilith __,

    I wrote as much last night then must have forgotten to post . Yes always seems to be the case. It's such a coincidence innit ;)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I’ve always assumed that anti-abortion sentiment comes from a place where ignorance, lack of empathy, and a massive sense of entitlement cavort merrily together through the fields.

    I don’t think it’s as simple as that. I know a very good woman, a good Catholic. By good, I mean I think she does all she can to live by all the best bits of the Bible, not to show other people how good she is, but because she believes, modestly and quietly, that it is the right thing to do. She’s by no means virulent about it, but I know she doesn’t like abortion. I am quite sure it’s not out of any desire to punish women for their sexuality, or to make the child suffer or anything like that. She just sees an embryo, or a foetus, as life, and the thought of that life being ended makes her sad.

    She is not ignorant, nor lacking in empathy, and certainly shows no signs of any sense of entitlement. I don’t think she would ever judge a woman for having an abortion (see above about best bits, and thus “judge not, lest ye yourself be judged”). You can feel sad about something happening without judging the people who do it.

    She has worked, over the years, to advance many rights of women, and that work is not diminished just because of her feelings in this area. In any conversation I’ve had with her about women’s rights, we have agreed wholeheartedly. We have not disagreed about abortion because we haven’t had any conversation about abortion, hopefully because we respect each other too much to have any need to convince the other that she is wrong – that’s certainly how I feel about it anyway. I have gathered her feelings about it through observation, and mostly through what she doesn’t say, rather than what she does.

    So while there are plenty of anti-abortionists who fit your description, I wouldn’t like to see all of them described that way.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

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