“I Want Abortion to End”

So says an anti-choice activist in South Dakota, where there is one abortion clinic which offers procedures one day a week, using doctors who fly in from Minnesota. Read the whole article. So what’s the solution? Allow states to cut Medicaid spending on contraception and family planning services (because that will decrease the abortion rate). Allow pharmacists to refuse to fill women’s prescriptions for contraceptives. Make safe, legal abortion more difficult to access.

Will that be what ends abortion? I’d love to hear someone try and defend this.

On a bit of a tangent (because I haven’t had much time to blog lately, so I might as well cram a lot into this post, right?), I watched a documentary the other night on TLC on an Egyptian baby born with two heads, and it reminded me of this conversation from a while back. The gist of the documentary was that the baby was born perfectly normal — except that at the top of its head, there was another head attached. The second head only had a neck, no body, and it used the other baby’s body for all of its basic life functions. But it had its own brain. It cried on its own, moved its own mouth, and blinked its eyes. It was, without a doubt, a separate being — except that it was a parasitic head, unable to survive without the other head and body it was attached to. What did the doctors do? They detached it, without a second ethical thought. It died, there was no question of that. But was it “killing a baby”? Was there a better or more ethical option?

Throughout that thread, there were the usual questions of whether a fetus is part of the woman’s body, it’s own separate entity with individual rights, or something in between. I happen to think that it’s something in between. But what this documentary made clear is that there is no moral or ethical responsibility for one being to allow another to live off of it. Is a parasitic head exactly the same thing as pregnancy? Of course not, and I’m not arguing that they’re perfectly parallel. And it feels a little morbid or strange, even comparing a baby born with two heads to an unwanted pregnancy. But the ethical issues of detaching this being that has no chance of survival without the body its attached to are certainly similar. Even if we argue that fetuses are entirely separate beings, why should women be required to carry those beings to term, and to allow them to live off of their bodies without their consent? How would this be considered fair, ethical or moral in any other area of medicine or law?

On a completely different note, check out this article on the dangerous choices facing pregnant Iraqi women.


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40 comments for ““I Want Abortion to End”

  1. ilyka
    December 29, 2005 at 6:22 am

    Wow. You packed a LOT in here. No way am I gonna try to comment on all of it.

    (You also prompted me to email my boyfriend to tell him we are never living in South Dakota. His parents live there; I don’t care if they leave him the damn house when they die, or if I’m thoroughly menopausal by the time that happens; the answer is still no.)

    This was the statement that got me the worst from the Post article:

    Even women in a medical or life-threatening emergency have only one hospital to go to that will perform an emergency abortion, she added. “One hospital. In the entire state, again in Sioux Falls.”

    Um . . . what? How is that not a huge malpractice suit waiting to happen? How is that even legal?

    One quibble:

    But what this documentary made clear is that there is no moral or ethical responsibility for one being to allow another to live off of it.

    It might be more accurate to say that’s what it made clear to you; while I didn’t see the show myself, I’m thinking what it might have made clear to me is that the doctors in that particular case did not feel morally or ethically obligated to preserve the extra head. Not quite the same thing.

    The other thing I think it would have made clear to me is that it sure would suck to have a two-headed baby. Damn.

  2. December 29, 2005 at 9:57 am

    I saw the same show a few months ago. I remember feeling bad for the family, and I think that the decisions made would have been much more difficult if the child with the whole body wasn’t being slowly killed by the parasitic head. I seem to recall the family even naming the undeveloped child, but I could be remembering a different show. Regardless, I think that the manner in which the second head is treated is the same as an unwanted pregnancy, it just depends on whether or not we choose to see it as it’s own life or as a parasite.

  3. December 29, 2005 at 10:26 am

    With one clinic in all of SD it would appear that abortion is pretty much dead in that state. Or at least on life support in critical condition. Sad.

  4. December 29, 2005 at 10:48 am

    They detached it, without a second ethical thought.

    Other doctors have made the same mistake.

  5. December 29, 2005 at 11:09 am

    I think that you’re drawing some specious conclusions from the two-headed baby situation. If we’re going to be arguing with the supposition that a fetus is a separate human being with equal rights to those of a woman (not my personal position, but it seems to be the starting point here, and definitely a supposition that a lot of anti-choice folk are going to have), and that the second head on this baby is at least a good analogy for a fetus, it makes very little sense to compare the termination of a normal pregnancy to the removal of this second head. Pregnancy, while it carries risk, is generally something women (in developed countries) live through happily and healthily – certainly much moreso than a child will be happy and healthy going through life with a second head attached. The two-headed baby was facing a situation more like a woman who has a very risky pregnancy that puts her own life in danger. That’s a situation in which almost all people think abortion is a reasonable and ethically acceptable option, just like there was little outcry against removing this second head. The expectation to carry a child to term is dependent on the amount of risk you and the fetus would be undertaking.

    Personally, I don’t give the same moral weight to a fetus that I do to a grown woman. But if we’re trying to argue for abortion with someone who does, this isn’t the way to do it.

  6. December 29, 2005 at 12:01 pm

    It never ceases to annoy the fuck out of me when people who want to “end” abortion also try to end everything that lowers the rate of unplanned pregnancies.

  7. December 29, 2005 at 12:37 pm

    Your completely different note (about Iraq’s lawlessness and the hard choices it forces on pregnant women) was sobering.

  8. December 29, 2005 at 1:17 pm

    But the ethical issues of detaching this being that has no chance of survival without the body its attached to are certainly similar. Even if we argue that fetuses are entirely separate beings, why should women be required to carry those beings to term, and to allow them to live off of their bodies without their consent?

    I personally agree that the distinction of strict biological dependence puts fetuses into an “other” category; the organism is an extension of the mother’s body as much it is a disparate person.

    But the debate counter to “How would this be considered fair, ethical or moral in any other area of medicine or law?” would be along the lines of blurring the distinction between “biological dependence” and “dependence,” as in, since the law has authority to mandate responsibility for how a parent cares for his or her child, it has the authority to force the parent to care for the dependent fetus with similar conscience. Workaday care and feeding of a newborn is found equivalent to autonomic care, feeding and birth of an unborn child, and the act of getting pregnant is equated with the parental contract.

    Roe vs. Wade’s Constitutionally debatable “right to privacy” justification aside, I think this is where the SCOTUS made a remarkably common sense compromise in balancing the competing rights of host and fetus by setting the standard of “viability.”

    Also, extending the scope of the answer to your query of “”How would this be considered fair, ethical or moral in any other area of medicine or law?”, look at the state’s authority to govern what substances you can ingest, for example. If the difference between “workaday parental dependence (care and feeding)” and “autonomic biological dependence” is a special status conferred by assumed unique authority over one’s own biology (in the latter), thereby prohibiting the interference of the state, then how can we live under a state that also regulates how we modify or influence our biology with drugs, alcohol, breast implant materials, etc.

    Again – these arguments I’m making I find less persuasive than a priority on self-determination, especially biological, but they are the relevant and not illogical argumentative directions that begin to answer your question, within the context of our current legal environment. I’d say.

  9. zuzu
    December 29, 2005 at 2:21 pm

    blurring the distinction between “biological dependence” and “dependence,” as in, since the law has authority to mandate responsibility for how a parent cares for his or her child, it has the authority to force the parent to care for the dependent fetus with similar conscience.

    The law doesn’t trump biology. A fetus cannot live apart from its mother; an infant can be cared for by someone not its mother. Once the child is born, the dependence can be transferred from one person to another or to the state; that cannot be done with a fetus.

    the organism is an extension of the mother’s body as much it is a disparate person

    How so? The mother can live without the fetus, the fetus cannot live without the mother’s body.

    Or did you mean to put a “not” somewhere in that sentence and the meaning is muddled?

  10. December 29, 2005 at 3:04 pm

    The law doesn’t trump biology. A fetus cannot live apart from its mother; an infant can be cared for by someone not its mother. Once the child is born, the dependence can be transferred from one person to another or to the state; that cannot be done with a fetus.

    I don’t disagree, which is why I think “viability” is a good compromise. But the argument would go that if the law has an interest in protecting the fetus as a human being, since there is no possibility of a third party taking responsibility, then the law could mandate that it’s the mother’s responsibility.

    If you review my comment above, I stipulated that this idea is contingent upon viewing the pregnancy as a parenting contract rather than simply a mistake, by virtue of a calculation that examines the risk of sex and the value of prenatal life. Depending on the moral emphasis one places on different forms of life, this isn’t a batshit crazy calculation.

    the organism is an extension of the mother’s body as much it is a disparate person

    No I meant that. What I mean is, the fetus is part of her biology, an extension of her body – because it is symbiotically dependent on her cooperation to come to term, as well as made from her – and thus subject to her will above all else. If one primarily views the fetus as a completely distinct human being – and not first-and-foremost as an extension of the mother’s body – pro-choice arguments lose a measure of argumentative power to appeal to biological self-determinism. In my opinion.

  11. December 29, 2005 at 3:15 pm

    And by the way –

    The mother can live without the fetus, the fetus cannot live without the mother’s body.

    As a crude analogy to how you aren’t pointing out a contradiction in my logic (the opposite), a person can live without a mole, or a skin tag, etc., yet you would consider these things part of (“an extension of”) the person’s body.

  12. zuzu
    December 29, 2005 at 6:09 pm

    I wasn’t really pointing out inconsistencies with your logic so much as trying to clarify what you were saying. This set of comments makes it more clear where you were going.

    But the argument would go that if the law has an interest in protecting the fetus as a human being, since there is no possibility of a third party taking responsibility, then the law could mandate that it’s the mother’s responsibility.

    Sure, that’s the issue, isn’t it? Or, rather, whether the fetus is a person, since I think we can all agree it’s human. The question is more whether the fetus and the mother are on the same footing vis-a-vis personhood. Those who believe ensoulment happens at conception would argue they are. Those who believe that viability is the better determinant would argue that they’re not.

    I don’t think your mole/skin tag analogy holds up, though, since a mole or skin tag is not dependent on the cells of another organism to come into existence, and has no hope of existing independently of the body that created it once it’s finished cooking.

  13. Rex Little
    December 29, 2005 at 7:02 pm

    since the law has authority to mandate responsibility for how a parent cares for his or her child, it has the authority to force the parent to care for the dependent fetus with similar conscience.

    No, the most the law can do is force parents to give their child up for adoption if they don’t want to care for it themselves. Since

    there is no moral or ethical responsibility for one being to allow another to live off of it

    a pregnant woman has the right to have that other being–even if it’s a full person with full human rights–removed from her body if she so desires. If it’s viable–that is, if it can be removed alive and kept that way outside her body–then a case can be made that she must have that done and adopt the baby out if she doesn’t want it. But pre-viability, there’s no alternative to abortion.

    I’m surprised I don’t see this line of argument used more often by pro-choicers. It’s the only one that answers “abortion is murder” on its own terms (that is, using the assumption that the fetus is a separate human being).

  14. Kyra
    December 29, 2005 at 9:23 pm

    “I want abortion to end.”

    Then she’d better sterilize every woman on the planet, ’cause the only way that’s ever going to happen is if pregnancy ends.

    Even if we had a 100% effective contraceptive that was administered to everybody in a foolproof fashion (i.e. through the air everybody breathes) and you had to take an antidote for it in order to get pregnant, there would still be abortions for life/health reasons.

  15. Kyra
    December 29, 2005 at 9:43 pm

    But the debate counter to “How would this be considered fair, ethical or moral in any other area of medicine or law?” would be along the lines of blurring the distinction between “biological dependence” and “dependence,” as in, since the law has authority to mandate responsibility for how a parent cares for his or her child, it has the authority to force the parent to care for the dependent fetus with similar conscience. Workaday care and feeding of a newborn is found equivalent to autonomic care, feeding and birth of an unborn child, and the act of getting pregnant is equated with the parental contract.

    Parental responsibility for a born child does not extend to infringe on the bodily autonomy of either parent. Kid needs a blood transfusion, a kidney, bone marrow, whatever, a parent is not required to be the donor.

    The act of “getting pregnant” is not something a person actively does; it’s a process which takes place inside her body, and she can’t avoid it by an act of will the way she can avoid signing a contract.

    In any case, care and feeding of a newborn takes time but doesn’t take ALL the time, nine months without a single day off is probably a violation of some sort of fair-labor and overtime standards, and caring for a newborn does not include breathing for it. In any case, with a newborn, you can put the baby down and have a drink, or let a relative or babysitter watch it while you go on a roller coaster or soak in a hot tub. Jobs and duties come with time off.

  16. David Thompson
    December 29, 2005 at 10:19 pm

    The act of “getting pregnant” is not something a person actively does; it’s a process which takes place inside her body, and she can’t avoid it by an act of will the way she can avoid signing a contract.

    Are you positing that men impregnate women by induction, rather than some physical activity like, say, sexual intercourse?

  17. December 30, 2005 at 12:39 am

    Rex Little –

    No, the most the law can do is force parents to give their child up for adoption if they don’t want to care for it themselves.

    What country are you living in? If a parent agrees to raise a child, and then starves, beats or otherwise neglects that child, the law can put that parent in jail.

    For the third time, the equivalency of parental responsibility for the unborn vs. the born children is dependent on viewing the act of getting pregnant as an effective contract with responsibilities. And as David Thompson points out in repsonse to Kyra …

    The act of “getting pregnant” is not something a person actively does; it’s a process which takes place inside her body, and she can’t avoid it by an act of will the way she can avoid signing a contract.

    … what, space aliens implant the fetus? Or maybe a baby is like your wisdom teeth, it just comes in? An action is typically taken to arrive at conception.

    zuzu –

    Or, rather, whether the fetus is a person, since I think we can all agree it’s human. The question is more whether the fetus and the mother are on the same footing vis-a-vis personhood. Those who believe ensoulment happens at conception would argue they are. Those who believe that viability is the better determinant would argue that they’re not.

    100% in agreement, though there do exist individuals that place full value on an unborn human life while explicitly rejecting the concept of religious ensoulment. I don’t agree with them that humans don’t have the ability to remain moral creatures while making value distinctions on different forms of life – as the example in Jill’s original post points out, these decisions happen all the time – but I can recognize a certain moral consistency in an absolutist pro-life argument not dependent on religion.

    I don’t think your mole/skin tag analogy holds up, though, since a mole or skin tag is not dependent on the cells of another organism to come into existence, and has no hope of existing independently of the body that created it once it’s finished cooking.

    1. I mentioned that it was a “crude analogy,” just to establish the concept that biological parts/extensions of people’s bodies exist that are not critical to the survival of the host, yet qualify as an extension of the host’s body. For this purpose, I believe the analogy holds up fine.

    2.

    since a mole or skin tag is not dependent on the cells of another organism to come into existence

    From the standpoint of competing rights due another eventually distinct organism, of course a fetus has nothing to do with a skin tag. Again, a crude analogy to establish the definition of what is part of a human’s body. See above and below:

    Given that a zygote and subsequent iterations of prenatal life both arise out of, are symbiotically attached to and strictly dependent on the mother’s biological function, I would argue that an unborn life is part of the mother’s body, giving her special rights over what happens to it.

    And by the way, to be clear about my personal opinion, I think applying the standard of law that I mentioned might theoretically be applied (postnatal neglect = prenatal neglect) would get ridiculous, as in, why not jail expectant mother’s for failing to take their folic acid supplements?

  18. Tex
    December 30, 2005 at 12:52 am

    Even if we argue that fetuses are entirely separate beings, why should women be required to carry those beings to term, and to allow them to live off of their bodies without their consent? How would this be considered fair, ethical or moral in any other area of medicine or law?

    I recommend Judith Jarvis Thompson’s 1971 essay “A Defense of Abortion” where she tackles basically this exact situation. Instead of a two-headed baby, there’s a sick famous violinist who can’t survive without being plugged into another person’s organs.

  19. December 30, 2005 at 11:34 am

    Jill,
    What does “something in between” mean? Can something be part of another organism and an organism unto itself at the same time? Those seem to be diametrically opposed. If something is part of another organism (like my finger) it can’t be an organism unto itself and if something is an organism unto how can it be part of another organism?

    What about a hypothetical situation where newborn infant needs milk from his mother’s breasts to survive (he’ll die from formula and there are no other lactating women around? If the child has no chance of survival if he is not allowed to nurse from his mother would it be okay to kill that child because there is “no moral or ethical responsibility for one being to allow another to live off of it?”

    Why should women be forced to feed their infant children? How is that fair? Why can’t women just leave their newborn children who require their care in dumpsters?

    It seems to me that as a society and as human beings we have certain obligations to care for certain individuals (usually family members – be they disabled, elderly, or children) or at least make sure those individuals are cared for by someone else.

  20. December 30, 2005 at 1:16 pm

    it’s possible to force a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy, but there is no way the state can force her to be a good mother.
    in the past women were forced to give up children for adoption, and there are survivors of that policy who can witness the pain it caused mothers and children.
    people sometimes make bad choices, but it is better to let the individual make her own major life decisions, especially as it regards her own body.

  21. Kyra
    December 30, 2005 at 1:34 pm

    Are you positing that men impregnate women by induction, rather than some physical activity like, say, sexual intercourse?

    … what, space aliens implant the fetus? Or maybe a baby is like your wisdom teeth, it just comes in? An action is typically taken to arrive at conception.

    I’m saying that while, yes, sex does lead to conception sometimes, the act of having sex and the act of conception are not one and the same, or useable interchangeably, just as the act of driving and the act of getting into an accident are not one and the same, useable interchangeably.

    I’m saying sex and pregnancy are two different things, and consent to one does not mean agreement to the other.

    No insurance company says, “well, you chose to drive, therefore you chose to get in an accident, so the accident is entirely your responsibility and we aren’t paying you a thing.”

    A person chooses to have sex. Conception, however, happens outside of her control; she can’t clench a muscle to suck the egg back away from the sperm, she can’t say “I don’t want to get pregnant” and avert a birth control failure through sheer force of will, the way she can say “I don’t want to sign this contract” and not sign it. She also cannot say “I want to get pregnant tonight,” have sex, and decide to conceive, and conceive—it happens or doesn’t happen independent of what she wants it to do.

    If a woman does not want to get pregnant, and gets pregnant anyway, her body has acted against her wishes, and she is justified in rectifying the situation.

    The linking of sex and conception as one single activity is not accurate because a) sex does not invariably lead to conception, and b) people have sex for other reasons than just to conceive. Sometimes they even have sex when they don’t want to conceive. Sometimes people have sex when they can’t conceive. Sex and conception are not the same thing.

  22. December 30, 2005 at 2:06 pm

    Kyra–
    Well put. I am in favor of numerous birth control methods, abstinence being the most favored. I am against baby killers, as some called innocent Vietnam Combat Veterans.

  23. zuzu
    December 30, 2005 at 2:15 pm

    One can also have sex without penile-vaginal contact. Lesbians do it all the time.

    Given that a zygote and subsequent iterations of prenatal life both arise out of, are symbiotically attached to and strictly dependent on the mother’s biological function, I would argue that an unborn life is part of the mother’s body, giving her special rights over what happens to it.

    Sounds like a tumor or a tapeworm, frankly.

  24. Rex Little
    December 30, 2005 at 2:54 pm

    Bill –

    What country are you living in? If a parent agrees to raise a child, and then starves, beats or otherwise neglects that child, the law can put that parent in jail.

    True, but not relevant to what I said. If a parent agrees to raise a child, then changes his mind and puts the child up for adoption, he’s perfectly within his rights. If the child needs something from the parent’s body that only he can provide (such as blood of a particular type), the parent is still within his rights to refuse. (That’s the closest analogy I can think of to an early-term pregnancy.)

  25. amaz0n
    December 30, 2005 at 5:22 pm

    What does “something in between” mean? Can something be part of another organism and an organism unto itself at the same time? Those seem to be diametrically opposed. If something is part of another organism (like my finger) it can’t be an organism unto itself and if something is an organism unto how can it be part of another organism?

    First of all, I think you’re overreading her statement. She’s not saying that something can be part of another organism and an entirely separate organism at the same time, she’s saying that it is possible for something to be not quite the former and still not quite the latter; in other words, the process of coming into existence as a fully autonomous human is just that, a process, not a one-step transformation or an either-or scenario.

    Second of all, the logic that allows something to be an autonomous organism while also being part of another organism is not that tedious. The human body is, after all, composed of billions of individual cells subject to their own unique internal biologies and life cycles, not to mention the various species of bacteria and other microrganisms with whom our bodies coexist in a vital symbiotic relationship. Plus, of course, that whole “circle of life” thing. At what point in digestion does the carrot you just ate cease to become a autonomous organism and become part of your body?

    The idea of a fully autonomous being completely seperate from any co-existence with any number of other beings is a philosophic notion, not a biological reality.

  26. amaz0n
    December 30, 2005 at 5:29 pm

    become a autonomous organism

    Err, be an autonomous organism. Ugh not enough coffee ugh.

  27. December 30, 2005 at 5:34 pm

    What does “something in between” mean? Can something be part of another organism and an organism unto itself at the same time? Those seem to be diametrically opposed. If something is part of another organism (like my finger) it can’t be an organism unto itself and if something is an organism unto how can it be part of another organism?

    Two-headed baby?

  28. December 30, 2005 at 7:36 pm

    Krya

    Your analogy is a bit off. When we decide to drive, we accept the risk there is always a possibility of an accident. To minimize that risk we drive sober, carefully, wear our seatbelts, obey traffic laws, etc.

    If we engage in sexual intercourse, we cannot eschew the risk we take of conceiving.

    Want 100% assurance of non-conceiving? Either tie your tubes or don’t have intercourse. Otherwise, accept the risk.

  29. Kyra
    December 30, 2005 at 10:52 pm

    Your analogy is a bit off.

    No, it isn’t.

    When we decide to drive, we accept the risk there is always a possibility of an accident. To minimize that risk we drive sober, carefully, wear our seatbelts, obey traffic laws, etc. If we engage in sexual intercourse, we cannot eschew the risk we take of conceiving.

    Just like drivers cannot eschew the risk of an accident. You are correct regarding the acceptance of risk; however, one can minimize the risk of pregnancy as well, by using contraception.

    More to the point, however, if you are in a car accident, you have access to medical care that does its best to take care of any negative effects of that car accident, and if you suffer adverse consequences from sex, you also have access to medical care that does its best to take care of any negative effects of that. And medical science is perfectly capable of curing an unwanted pregnancy.

    You get in a car accident, you get medical help and they fix what they can. You get an unwanted pregnancy, same thing. My analogy is perfectly fine.

    Want 100% assurance of non-conceiving? Either tie your tubes or don’t have intercourse. Otherwise, accept the risk.

    I do accept the risk. See the rest of my post. Specifically, see the part where I point out that access to medical care reduces the consequences, thus making the risk less risky. Which is a good thing.

    The problem with pro-lifers is that they say “You have to accept either Sucky Consequence A (tie your tubes, thus destroying your chance of conceiving years from now when you do want children), Sucky Consequence B (don’t have intercourse, thus spending years of your life with ever-present restrictions and inhibitions on your sex life), or Sucky Consequence C (suffer through unwanted pregnancies),” and then they wonder why people choose the ‘contraception, and if necessary, abortion’ route.

  30. amaz0n
    December 30, 2005 at 11:51 pm

    Your analogy is a bit off. When we decide to drive, we accept the risk there is always a possibility of an accident. To minimize that risk we drive sober, carefully, wear our seatbelts, obey traffic laws, etc.

    If we engage in sexual intercourse, we cannot eschew the risk we take of conceiving.

    But we can minimize the risk of conceiving by taking precautions.

    I don’t think her analogy is off at all, and what you’ve said doesn’t dispute Krya’s statement that an acknowledgement of risk is not the equivalent of consenting to the risked situation wholesale, or more accurately consenting to do nothing to offset the risked situation if it occurs. While I might accept that an accident is a risk of driving, I do not accept that if an accident occurs I should not exert my will to shape the outcome as much as is possible in my favor, for example by calling an ambulance as opposed to just waiting to die.

  31. amaz0n
    December 31, 2005 at 12:27 am

    Your analogy is a bit off. When we decide to drive, we accept the risk there is always a possibility of an accident. To minimize that risk we drive sober, carefully, wear our seatbelts, obey traffic laws, etc

    that bit was Darleen’s, of course.

  32. zuzu
    December 31, 2005 at 10:43 am

    More to the point, however, if you are in a car accident, you have access to medical care that does its best to take care of any negative effects of that car accident, and if you suffer adverse consequences from sex, you also have access to medical care that does its best to take care of any negative effects of that. And medical science is perfectly capable of curing an unwanted pregnancy.

    Moreover, insurance companies, mechanics and lawyers also are at play in an accident to help deal with the consequences.

  33. December 31, 2005 at 3:55 pm

    Analogies, by virtue of what they are, are not perfect.

    However, to risk some cliches (pun intended) life is not fair, and if you can’t stand the heat yadda yadda.

    When one decides to drive/fly/walk/leave the house, one should be mature enough to understand and accept the consequences without blaming someone else.

    Maybe it’s a legacy of our litigious society that “nothing is ever my fault”, so any accident is a opportunity to have someone else “fix it.” Spill coffee? Sue the restaurant. Wreck your car while driving drunk? Sue the landowner where your car landed and the car manufacturer. Engage in sexual intercourse when you’re unable/unwilling to raise a child? Get an abortion.

    Hey, it’s your right. I don’t want to take away your right to sue or your opportunity to seek an abortion. But it doesn’t make either the mature or moral decision.

  34. zuzu
    December 31, 2005 at 4:23 pm

    Or how about, spill your coffee, send your clothes to the damn cleaners?

    Not sure why you equate abortion with tort claims as a way to fix things.

    Here’s what one of my professors said about suits like the one you linked (which only relates a decision allowing the suit to go forward, not a decision going to its ultimate merit): “You can always sue. The real question is, can you win?”

  35. zuzu
    December 31, 2005 at 4:36 pm

    Hey, it’s your right. I don’t want to take away your right to sue or your opportunity to seek an abortion. But it doesn’t make either the mature or moral decision.

    The decision to sue is often the mature and moral decision, Darleen. Not every suit is frivolous. I’m sure you were thinking of the McDonald’s case when you mentioned spilled coffee; however, had the woman not sued and gotten discovery, they would have continued to keep their coffee at near-boiling temperatures. Similarly, the case which made John Edwards’ reputation involved a company which knew that its pool drain covers had already caused several accidents in which people had their intestines sucked out of their bodies, but they settled and the cases were hushed up, and they continued to not address the problem. Because Edwards pushed the case, they had to admit that they knew this and they were slammed with a high punitive damage award.

    Was it immature or immoral for the parents of the plaintiff, a young child who requires lifelong medical care because of the lost intestines, to file suit against a company that knew full well what its products did?

    No, I think what’s immature and immoral is to sniff that you don’t want to, you know, take away someone’s right to sue, or to have an abortion, but that you’ll reserve your right to pass judgment on the maturity or morality of a decision you don’t have to make.

  36. December 31, 2005 at 5:40 pm

    zuzu

    Let me be perfectly clear with you. It is not only my right, but my obligation to “pass judgment” as you deem it.

    There is nothing so craven or cowardly as the phrase

    Who am I to judge?

    If you wish to debate or argue particular judgments and how one has arrived at a particular decision GOOD! But do not ever advance the scurrilous notion that to opt out of moral arguments is the “higher” moral plane.

    And the concept that one cannot judge unless “one has walked in those shoes” is only one step removed in cowardice, specifically as it is a method to stop discussion, not facilitate it.

  37. December 31, 2005 at 5:44 pm

    BTW zuzu

    I support lawsuits that deal with real wrongs to be addressed. But please don’t try and pretend that American jurisprudence is somehow better since the advent of lawsuits as lottery (or lawsuits as a method of attack) has come to pass.

  38. zuzu
    January 1, 2006 at 12:13 pm

    But do not ever advance the scurrilous notion that to opt out of moral arguments is the “higher” moral plane.

    You’ve already opted out of the high moral position on abortion when you concede that it’s proper in certain circumstances. I have a lot more respect for people who take a hard line on abortion and the death penalty as part of a consistent-life ethic than I do for people who hem and haw about, “Well, it’s okay in *some* circumstances, like rape and incest, but not for those girls who just want to have sex without consequence.” Because you’ve already conceded that you don’t consider it murder and now you’re just slut-shaming. And certainly those who take the “Abortion for me but not for thee” position, who are against it except when they or their wives/girlfriends/daughters need one, have no moral leg to stand on.

    I support lawsuits that deal with real wrongs to be addressed. But please don’t try and pretend that American jurisprudence is somehow better since the advent of lawsuits as lottery (or lawsuits as a method of attack) has come to pass.

    The “lawsuit as lottery” phenomenon is vastly overstated. Many of the high jury awards are reduced later or overturned on appeal. And when, exactly, did it “come to pass”? Is there some mythical past you’d like to return to, when no one had a means of redress for their injuries?

    It seems to me that the people who piss and moan about the lawsuit-as-lottery phenomenon never get exercised when corporations go at each other, only when individuals sue corporations or governments.

    I know I’ve been annoyed at having to defend cases I thought were frivolous, but the corporations and municipalities I was representing considered it a cost of doing business. But I would never, ever advocate taking away the right to sue. Truly frivolous suits will be dealt with by judges who are pissed off at the waste of their time. Discovery helps determine whether the claims have merit, and a lot are dismissed or settled before trial — in fact, the vast majority are settled before trial.

    Sure, there will be some cases that get through, and get disproportionate attention in the media. And there will be people like you who look at a news report about a motion to dismiss the complaint being denied in the drunk driving case and scream about the state of the tort system, without an understanding that this isn’t a final decision and that in fact it’s very difficult to get a dismissal at that stage of the case.

    And in the end, a rough balance is achieved. Regardless of that balance, though, insurance companies will take the opportunity to raise their rates.

  39. Jivin J
    January 2, 2006 at 2:47 pm

    Jill,
    So is the attached head an organism unto itself or simply part of the infant? Are conjoined twins two organisms or one organism?

    It seems to me that the attached head and conjoined twins are separate organisms that are physically attached.

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