AS206: Abortion Debate Criticisms

I’m joined by two female commenters who had some criticism for me on how I dealt with the Tyler Vela abortion debate. In the spirit of listening to criticism and learning from it, I thought I’d extend the invitation to talk to them about it, and they accepted! Was it a fruitful conversation?  You’ll have to listen to find out!

3 thoughts on “AS206: Abortion Debate Criticisms”

  1. Part of the problem with saying “I just don’t accept argument XYZ as valid” is that it’s the same infuriating technique used by the religious side. You have to be able to refute an argument you disagree with, not just ignore it.

    Also, almost all abortion debates eventually come down to the personhood issue. You can make an argument for women’s autonomy over their own bodies, but more often than not, the opposition will simply counter with “That doesn’t matter; you’re murdering a baby.” Without addressing that issue first, you’ll never even get the opportunity to talk about all the other points in favor of of against a woman’s right to choose.

  2. I think that bodily autonomy is a powerful issue to raise when discussing abortion, but i don’t think it’s the iron lock that some people make it out to be. Not just because of the personhood issue, which I think you addressed well, but the argument that the government shouldn’t/can’t tell people what to do with their own body. The government is constantly telling people what to do, often with severe penalties for refusing to comply. As a man the government can compel me to kill another human should I be drafted, now I can refuse just as a woman can terminate a pregnancy but there will be massive and severe consequences. I think this ties into your arguments that we don’t inherently have any rights, I would say that all rights derive from force and in our society we have decided to give the monopoly on violence to the government in an exchange that we believe benefits everyone, but without the threat of violence to back them up rights are meaningless warm fuzzy feelings without any effect on the actual world.

    1. I mostly agree with your points, but bodily autonomy is a specific issue/set of circumstances that are not equivalent to things like being drafted into war. That is more of an example of exploitation within power structures set up by society and are not specific to biological sex. For one, not all countries only draft men, and the system doesn’t intrinsically depend on drafting men as the law could easily change. Where as abortion will always only apply to those who have a uterus. The only possible male equivalent in terms of bodily autonomy would be if you were not allowed to decide what path to take if you got testicular cancer, or something else related to your physical male organs. Or a non-sex specific example is if the law forced all of us to donate blood, organs, etc. for people who will die without those donations.

      I suppose you could argue murder is a case of bodily autonomy in that you don’t want your bodily functions to cease, therefore someone else choosing that for you by forcibly ending them gives them more rights by having that kind of power over you. It’s different in the case of a woman and fetus though since they are physically sharing a body. You could even argue that the fetus is an extension of the woman’s body until it is born. (And just like any other body part, if removed improperly it can result in death or serious permanent damage).

      There is no solution in this case that will not end up favoring one side over the other. So it really comes down to whether a “right to life/be born” trumps bodily autonomy. And if so, why. In my opinion, this is a case where compromises must be made for the greater good and I’d rather not allow a “potential” person to have more rights than an actual person.

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