Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Dropping the A-Bomb

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  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    I often find it helpful to draw a thick line between someone’s right to choose and my obligation to like their choice. I may be uncomfortable with some reasons for choosing abortion but I’m even more uncomfortable with imposing my ideals onto another woman’s choice about how she uses her body.

    THANK YOU, couldn't have put it myself. I don't mean to be offensively glib, but I long ago reached the point where I just curtly shut down people expressing their "discomfort" with LGBT by saying "Just as well nobody's asking you to suck cock/eat pussy then, isn't it?"

    Perhaps I'm naive, but I always thought the quid pro quo of living in a pluralistic civil society was the notion that every single day of my life an awful lot of people are going to be doing many things -- trivial and momentous -- I don't much like for reasons I'm never going to grok, and which I don't get veto right over. Nor do they fall within the legitimate interest of the State to regulate or control.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Maintaining a sense of proportion means distinguishing between things that cause some moral discomfort or are a major disruption to someone's physical and social wellbeing or which promise the extinction of a group they belong to - somewhere along that spectrum of consequences.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Nat,

    Just on the legal situation in Australia: abortion is not actually legal throughout Australia. As usual it is a hotchpotch of legislation depending on what state you are in. Thee is a summary here: http://www.childrenbychoice.org.au/info-a-resources/facts-and-figures/australian-abortion-law-and-practice

    Where I am in NSW, I think the situation is pretty similar to NZ i.e. you have to show that your health is in danger (although I understand that this is pretty routinely done).

    There are also protesters outside of known clinics, heckling women as they go in and come out.

    Seattle • Since Jun 2011 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Sacha,

    Are you familiar with the violinist analogy?

    I really struggle with the idea that there's a group of people of any sort whose existence can place an obligation on an individual to carry a pregnancy to term. If we discovered the last male member of a unique ethnic group, would some woman be obliged to carry their child? I just don't think anyone who makes an argument like that has a proper sense of how personal and overwhelming it is to do that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to B Jones,

    would some woman be obliged to carry their child?

    no

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to B Jones,

    however groups put obligations on individuals all the time. there's nothing inherently right or wrong in that.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Mellopuffy,

    Just wanted to add some factual info to the food supp thing as there seems to be some common misconceptions around mandatory fortification that are persisting in the discussion (which is kinda off topic but still being drawn into this wider discussion) . Since the halting of the proposal to make folic acid supp mandatory, mandatory fortification of bread products with iodised salt has come in with little to no fanfare at all. Secondly - important re the mandatory folic acid thing - it is primarily neither about education nor access per se. Folic acid supplementation needs to be commenced before conception occurs as neural tube formation occurs in the 3rd week, well before many women know they're pregnant. As a significant proportion of pregnancies are unplanned (I've heard around 30% but don't quote me on that, can anyone clarify?). So major intent of mandatory fortification with folic acid to to catch those who have become pregnant unintentionally. By the time most women find out about their pregnancy (let alone be in the position to make a decision about continuing their pregnancy) it is already too late for folic acid supps to have any effect on reducing risk of neural tube defects.

    Dunedin, NZ • Since Feb 2007 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Mellopuffy,

    Further to my previous comment (just had to duck off for a shower) – perversely, the Key govts reticence to progress with mandatory fortification *does* make the folic acid issue into one of access and education. Since the halting of the planned programme, bread companies have leapt upon the marketing opportunity that the addition of folic acid affords, bringing out fortified (and more expensive) ‘women’s breads’. Additionally Key’s assertion that ‘women can get the required nutrient by other means’ is not borne out by evidence. US data from the 90s found that at least 15% of women of childbearing age had inadequate blood levels of folate (ie were considered clinically deficient, and there is debate as to whether the cut off of risk for neural tube defects is actually higher than outright deficiency). The majority of NZers are known to consume less than the recommended intakes of vegetables (an important source of folate). Intake of appropriate amounts of vegetables to have a protective effect with regards to ntd is more likely among women with the means to consume a varied diet. Oh, and in contrast to folic acid, there *is* a known toxic upper level of intake of iodine (particularly in pregnancy) - yet again, no fuss about mandatory fortification there (because, quelle surprise, the amounts recommended for fortification have been carefully calculated to be at levels that make it impossible to consume a toxic amount) Key’s statements make absolutely no sense.

    Dunedin, NZ • Since Feb 2007 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Sacha,

    There's a qualitative difference between obligations to pay taxes, obey the road code and so on, and bearing a child against your will - it's the difference between a social democracy and a totalitarian society. Perhaps I've got the wrong end of the stick but if anything this debate makes me more determined that nobody's reasons short of my own get to play a role in what I do in the reproductive department.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to B Jones,

    There's nothing black and white here. New Zealand currently forbids mothers using pre-implantation testing to select the gender of their baby, regardless of their personal preferences. We do allow mothers to screen for disability and to terminate that pregnancy more easily than on other grounds as has been discussed. That may be a clue about the relative social value our representatives place on different groups of people.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Those screens aren't just for disability, though. They're also for abnormalities which mean the foetus isn't viable and will inevitably die, either eventually within the womb or very soon after being born. So it's not *totally* a question of the lack of social value of disabled people: it might also be a question of not letting parents suffer quite so much.

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

  • Sacha, in reply to Danielle,

    oh some of the conditions I wouldn't wish on anyone and I'm happy we check for them. Down syndrome is not one of those.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Danielle,

    I thought that recent case of the baby with two faces was interesting. There was also another one recently of a baby born with no brain (Facebook banned the photos). Both sets of parents chose to go to full term and let the baby die naturally, so it could be seen as them being in control. They might have suffered more if that process was denied them.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3226 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    I don't think Danielle was suggesting that babies with unviable abnormalities should be aborted without reference to the parents' choice. That would contradict the whole ethos of being pro-choice.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I... no. That was not what I was suggesting. At all. In any way. Obviously.

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

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Danielle,

    I know. But just reacting to that word and notion of suffering - a contentious one. Often applied to disabled people without their consent. Or mothers of same. I am just being argumentative. We are all on the same side really.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3226 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    TBH, Hilary, I’m beginning to feel a bit like a bad person for being hypothetically conflicted about raising a disabled child. ;)

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

  • Isabel Hitchings, in reply to Danielle,

    If you're a bad person then I am too. It's not that I would value such a child less as that, at a given time, I might not have the resources care for the child in the way it needs.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    I think parents, especially mothers, are so immersed in the culture of whatever you do for your kids not being good enough that the thought of stretching even further is overwhelming. I think a better, more equitable solution than trying to limit abortion on disability grounds might be to have some kind of compulsory community service for everyone, helping or caring for people who need it. With a rapidly ageing population more likely to live long infirm lives, we might need to give that some serious thought.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I do have a disabled child, and I don't love him any the less for it, but I do most certainly wish it had never happened.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to B Jones,

    some kind of compulsory community service for everyone, helping or caring for people who need it.

    Caring for ill, disabled or infirm people is highly skilled work. I hate to think what would happen if carers were conscripted.

    It would be really, really wonderful if all disabled people got the help and support they need and deserve.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    limit abortion on disability grounds

    I'm not saying that at all. I just wanted a little bit of advocacy for the foetus with impairment, so it is not automatically seen as a disaster. They are different things

    By the way few of us choose to have a disabled child. But when you get one most people just keep going. It can get harder but there are rewards too. What you imagine yourself doing theoretically and what you actually do to get by day by day are different.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3226 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Lilith __,

    I hate to think what would happen if carers were conscripted.

    This is a thread about abortion. Unwilling parents are conscripts too, and there are some horrible outcomes when that goes wrong. At least if you spread it around the population, the caring work and the learning people gain from the caring work wouldn't be concentrated in a small number of people primarily of one gender.

    But yes, if you were to seriously consider a policy like that you'd need buckets of supervision and a way you can channel people into tasks by aptitude. It's no simple task. Demand for carers will start to spike in the next twenty years or so - do we have the workforce to meet that demand, or the money to pay at a level to attract more people into that workforce? Not right now, we don't - we need to start thinking how to fix that. Getting good support for people who need help is an aging population issue as well as a disability one, and tweaking the criteria for allowing abortion isn't going to do anything to help with that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to B Jones,

    I hate to think what would happen if carers were conscripted.

    This is a thread about abortion. Unwilling parents are conscripts too,

    Yes, and this was your digression, not mine. I am pro choice.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to BenWilson,

    Ditto. It's not something most of us would choose. So how would I feel- what choice would we have made had it been a choice? I'm not sure. Knowingly choosing to have a disabled child seems different to playing the hand you're dealt. I wouldnt want to make that choice for anyone else. Nor have it made for us.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

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