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Morality of Abortion

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Interbane

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Morality of Abortion

What does everyone think of the recent Supreme court leak?

Should Roe VS Wade be overturned? Why or why not?

How deeply can you support your reasoning?

The foundational support appears to differ along religious vs secular morality.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

I'm pretty concerned with this development. I am fantasizing that this "leak" is just a rumor blown out of proportion. But it is likely true seeing as conservatives have the majority on the Supreme Court.

I support Roe vs. Wade entirely. I'm not a fan of abortion and do believe many women use it too frequently, but do we really want those women being forced into motherhood? Is that good for the child or the mother or for society?

The pro-choice argument that a woman should be able to do whatever she wants with her body has always bugged me. The argument needs to be that the unborn fetus doesn't yet have the same rights as the living woman and her needs and desires trump (I hate that word now) those of the unborn baby. It sounds silly to call the unborn baby just a part of her body. Yes, it's connected via umbilical cord but is this just a part of her body? Really? It's a developing human being.

Still, I support abortion rights and think Roe v Wade got it right.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

This is not a rumor. The leak indicates the justices have considered all the evidence and already voted to overturn Roe. All they're doing now is tweaking the leaked opinion and writing dissents. Roe will be gone once the final opinion is published in a couple of months. At that point abortion will be illegal in about 22+ states.

My own opinion is similar to Chris'. Every instance of abortion is a tragedy, but the right should exist. Perhaps when our rape culture is dismantled then more restrictions could be enacted, but that won't happen any time soon.

A local politician shows where all this is headed. Jean Schmidt proposed Ohio House bill 598, “the Human Life Protection Act,” that would ban abortions in Ohio if Roe was overturned, which is about to happen. The bill has no exception for rape or incest. Schmidt defends the lack of these exceptions as follows.
"Rape is a difficult issue and it emotionally scars the individual, all or in part, for the rest of their life, just as child abuse does. But if a baby is created, it is a human life. And whether that mother ends that pregnancy or not, the scars will not go away, period. It is a shame that it happens but there is an opportunity for that woman, no matter how young or old she is, to make a determination about what she's going to do to help that life be a productive human being. ... Just because you have emotional scars doesn't give you the right to take the life,"

4/28/22
https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/p ... 568456002/
Rape is an opportunity? That view is based on the value that the rights of the unborn child override absolutely everything. Also notice the comment "the scars will not go away, period" appears to be a strong part of the argument. But that lack of healing is true of any crime. If a man breaks a woman's leg and then is sentenced to pay her medical bills and spend time in jail, that does not make her scars go away, so that line of reasoning is not valid.

Consider that in the U.S. rape culture, many states allow rapists to have visitation and custody rights. Once Roe is gone, more women will be interacting with their rapist for the rest of their lives.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

First of all, I wasn't familiar with the term "rape culture." I assume that is not your own wording but something used in the media. I guess what you are saying is that rape is all too common in our society. Is that what you mean by a rape culture?

I also had no clue that courts would allow a rapist to have visitation rights to the child. That is pure and raw evil. Holy shit that's crazy. Just insane.

So a woman is violated in the most horrendous way by being raped and then for the rest of her life she has to raise a child that is the product of that rape, and then help facilitate the visitation of her child with the actual rapist. Sometimes I question how we are considered a first world nation.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

The U.S. rape and sex assault culture involves many aspects.
  • Interrogating female rape victims during initial police interviews and at trial about their dress, behavior, drinking, sex history, etc. Ohhhh, so you were banging dating your supposed rapist? Exactly how hard did you fight back? Let's make it as painful as possible to report rape and sex assault to the police.
  • Repeat the above behavior at trial. Let's make prosecuting rape as traumatic as possible for the victim.
  • Women's stories are frequently dismissed outright.
  • 200,000 untested rape kits. We simply cannot process all that evidence, you might ruin some man's career! https://www.theatlantic.com/newsletters ... ly/594046/
  • Visitation and custody rights for rapists as mentioned earlier.
  • Wealthy rapists allowed to commit rape for long periods of time. Of course our multi-tiered justice system permits this for many crimes.
  • Universities attempt to resolve rape issues without going to police for publicity reasons.
  • The military requires rape victims to use their justice system, which may include testifying against their superior. This may be changing due to very high rates of sex assault in the military.
  • Rape is now an opportunity to become a parent as discussed in a previous post.
  • Families tend to sweep incest and sex assault under the rug.
  • Once Roe is abolished, miscarriages will be investigated as potential abortions making that horrific situation even more traumatic.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

I agree with you both. Any dissenters around?

Pete Buttigieg had an excellent response to the issue of abortion during the 2020 race. I often find myself referring back to it.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

I don't want to dilute this thread, but these statements from Lawrence Tribe (who is quoted in the SCOTUS draft) could be very important.
Reading the draft, written by Justice Samuel Alito, you quickly learn that all the rights people have long taken for granted — like the rights to decide whom to marry, whether to use birth control, with whom to have sex, how to raise your children, and an endless list of other freedoms — will no longer be protected unless you can point to language in the Constitution expressly guaranteeing those rights, or convince five Supreme Court justices that they are “deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.”

5/3/22
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/05/03/ ... er-rights/
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Re: Morality of Abortion

The idea that our Constitution is somehow this magical and perfect document that addresses all past, present and future needs of our nation is ludicrous. To me the worship of the Constitution isn't much better than how some Biblical literalists view the Bible.

Surely we have evolved as a society past the point where we worship antiquated words on paper. The Constitution was written at a time when assault rifles, global warming, birth control and abortion just weren't issues. Justice Samuel Alito is wise to point out how this court decision could be a slippery slope.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

Interbane wrote: Tue May 03, 2022 8:12 am What does everyone think of the recent Supreme court leak?

Should Roe VS Wade be overturned? Why or why not?
Morally, abortion isn’t black and white. Ideally no one would ever resort to abortion, but in reality they do. Since Roe vs. Wade, our nation’s laws have tried to strike a balance between this idealized state and the reality. Many states allow abortions until 20 weeks or so, the early embryonic stages, before there's a heartbeat, but even this dividing line seems somewhat arbitrary. I still like Hillary Clinton’s idea that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” But now all bets are off. Abortion is part of the culture war and Roe vs. Wade is on the chopping block.

Chris makes a good point that since abortion is not specifically protected in the Constitution it cannot be the law of the land. But then what about our other rights?

Even Ruth Ginsberg, who was strongly pro choice, saw Roe vs. Wade as weak bedrock for abortion rights. She suggested that abortion should be tied to equal rights for a stronger footing.

https://time.com/5354490/ruth-bader-gin ... oe-v-wade/

I’m not sure how significant the overturning of Roe vs. Wade is, given that many states have already made abortion very difficult. We seem stuck on as path of separation. What rights we have will be largely determined by whether we live in a blue or red state.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

I am satisfied that Roe v Wade was well-reasoned legally. I can't convince myself that a woman should have to bear a child conceived by rape. And thus I can't convince myself that an embryo in early stages should be regarded as a person with full rights to be protected by the state. The idea that the state will get involved in investigating miscarriages to see that they were not due to negligence on the part of the mother just strikes me as abominable, yet that is already going on. By that logic, the entire society should be investigated for every pregnancy that is not fully supported to make sure no avoidable harm comes to mother and child.

At the same time, our twins were born after only 28 weeks of pregnancy (26 weeks is the end of the second trimester) and were well taken care of and now healthy contributors to society. There is no way I can see them as "not people" at that stage. So I think the state does have some interest in the life of unborn fetuses. Certainly after viability. I am sympathetic to those who want to discourage abortions and limit their frequency. I just can't convince myself that the state should come crashing in as though we are dealing with moral absolutes. It just doesn't add up for me.

Ross Douthat had a good column in the New York Times last year making the conservative case. He argued that abortion is violence, and thus should be excused only in extreme cases (which included rape and incest, for him). And I rather see that point, but I found myself asking if it wasn't a particular kind of "violence" that could be to safeguard a woman's health, or to prevent a total disruption of her life, involving the incredibly personal process of bringing a life into the world. So, Douthat's point notwithstanding, I remain convinced that an early pregnancy is her business, period, and that the second trimester of pregnancy is a grey zone where we ought to respect the burden a woman (with her partner, I hope) must take on voluntarily for it to be appropriate and meaningful.

Good discussion, folks. Thanks to all.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

The current Booktalk nonfiction selection Divided We Fall by David French discusses abortion as a major theme in the culture war. The current Supreme Court debate is about whether abortion rights can reasonably be constitutionally mandated at national level through legal opinion, without national legislation. The Roe v Wade decision was a political fix, recognising that legislative guarantees for abortion rights could not gain enough federal support, making judicial activism necessary to override the democratic will of conservative states and communities. The power of activist judges to impose a contested morality is a main source of separatist resentment.

The injustice and harm produced by banning abortion is seen by Republicans as a lesser evil than overriding the democratic will of a community at local and state level. The structural problem is that it is an abuse of federal power to allow the Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade, which is quite tendentious in its reasoning, to intervene to overrule such local decisions. The main precedent seems to be civil rights, where federal law rightly made it illegal to have openly racist state laws.

The issue here is that people do not like being told how to legislate on a sensitive moral issue against their will. I think what will happen is that Republican States will experiment with banning abortion, but the human rights abuses involved in the ban will generate significant debate and opposition, especially on extreme views like banning abortion after rape. It will open up how much the focus of the policy debate is really about federal power and how much it is about the morality of abortion.

An underlying moral question is the balance between personal autonomy and the traditional family values that see motherhood as the highest vocation for women. Putting the debate in these terms illustrates how support for motherhood, which used to be a cliché, has become highly contested. There is a line of opinion in the climate activist movement that motherhood is bad because there are already too many people in the world. From that angle, abortion is good as a form of population control. I don’t agree with that argument for abortion as the number of people in the world is not a main factor in whether we can shift to a stabilised climate.

A recent world values survey reported at https://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSPu ... sBooks.jsp linked the collapse of religion to the steady growth of personal autonomy as an accepted moral framework, and to the growing critique of the main social function of church to support and validate the family values of procreation. Anti-abortion advocates reject the morality of everything that conflicts with the traditional view that sex is only about procreation, such as homosexuality, prostitution, sex outside marriage, etc. All these things are justified by a morality of autonomy, but there is an interesting question what sort of society is produced by permissivism, with questions such as social fragmentation.

The anti-abortion moral framework sees the nuclear family as a social ideal. It expects that women will sacrifice their personal autonomy in support of a primary identity as wife and mother. Having more children links to ideas like patriotic duty, national strength and national security. A big part of this is the role of the family as the agent of cultural continuity, serving to transmit traditional cultural values into the future rather than allow secular modernity to dominate ethics.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

Interbane has started another thread on this topic. I have just posted this reply there and am copying here.
Interbane wrote: Thu May 05, 2022 9:52 am I need someone to run my ideas across, a devil's advocate. It's a complex topic and my understanding feels messy at this point. This will be somewhat train of thought, as a deterministic accounting of the morality of abortion.
Hi Interbane, your ideas here are interesting. A consequentialist deterministic ethic of abortion is more complex than how you have described it so far, in my opinion. The consequences of any such decision extend beyond the individual circumstances to also affect the broader society and its values and decisions.
Interbane wrote: Thu May 05, 2022 9:52 amMy starting assumption is that the universe is deterministic. Not in a shallow "foreordained" sort of way, as that has implications of agency. But more in the sense that everything that occurs does so within a vast web of causality. We should seek to understand everything around us in terms of cause and effect. Where we're incapable of discerning causality (the human mind), we adopt what Daniel Dennet calls the "hidden layer". In other words, there are parts of our universe whose workings we don't understand, but that does not mean they aren't governed by causation. Instead, the fog of war of our knowledge hasn't yet illuminated the causal web in those areas in a way that can be comprehensively explained.
This is a really valuable and important framing of the causal postulate. Determinism means every event is the result of causes. The key question I have about determinism is whether quantum indeterminacy means that in principle there are events that could happen differently from the same initial conditions, refuting the Laplace clockwork model of reality, and therefore whether human freedom is real or only apparent. Like Dennett’s hidden layer, we cannot know if the Laplace model of knowing the position and vector of every particle could hypothetically enable complete prediction of the future. But as you say, that is not relevant to your argument.
Interbane wrote: Thu May 05, 2022 9:52 am Attacking this starting assumption is valid, but won't be helpful here. It's a topic for another post. So humor me within a deterministic framework. Or not, perhaps there are valid arguments against. But I'd like to stick closely to the implications of morality and abortion, rather than determinism in general. My thoughts on morality is what's known as a "forward-looking account". In a sense, the concepts apply not in the sense that they derive benefit from reprisal of past action, but rather as causal reinforcement to persuade future beneficial consequences. A german philosopher name Moritz Schlick phrased it that punishment and reward have goals that are concerned with the future, not the past. He says that the 'idea' that punishment “is a natural retaliation for past wrong, ought no longer to be defended in cultivated society” 1930 [1966: 60] Instead, punishment is "concerned only with the institution of causes, of motives of conduct…. Analogously, in the case of reward we are concerned with an incentive. 1930 [1966: 60] The best moral or ethical theory that fits here is consequentialism, although I'm not sure where precisely my own thoughts fit in that category.
This theme that moral philosophy is entirely about the future has a compelling logic. We cannot influence the past, but everything we do influences the future. Ethics is about how we influence the world for good or evil. Quantifying the consequences of action should be at the core of ethical theory, but is obviously impossible to do in a complete way, given the scale of unknowns and the legitimate differences people have about what is good.
Interbane wrote: Thu May 05, 2022 9:52 amI think a version of Utilitarianism, but saying that makes me hateful of the labeling. I only mention it in case you want a keyword to dig deeper. Where I differ from most of what I've read is the utilitarian maxim. Most common is to "maximize happiness". But I see some Asimov-style circumventing of language possible here, where short term happiness is maximized, which then inadvertently leads to long term unhappiness or even extinction. Another issue is that maximizing happiness may be found upon the suffering of others, so we also must consider the minimizing of harm. Another is that happiness isn't necessarily the only positive goal, as we can be happy with drugs yet a detriment to our species. Happiness is important, but we should clarify that we're also concerned with human flourishing. I'm not sure who I stole this from, but the most sensible maxim then seems to be "minimize harm while sustainably maximizing happiness and human flourishing."
Maximising the sum total of human happiness, the utilitarian doctrine of hedonic calculus, can reasonably be equated to maximising human flourishing. Happiness is not the same as pleasure. Short term pleasures such as taking drugs are far from maximising happiness, since the unhappiness and loss of potential that they cause far outweigh the immediate pleasure. A further point is that seeing complex ecosystems as sacred enhances human flourishing and happiness, since the alienation of culture from nature seen in conventional religion not only creates human trauma but also fails to see how ecological sustainability is central to durable human flourishing on our fragile planet. And durable flourishing contains more happiness than immediate pleasure does.
Interbane wrote: Thu May 05, 2022 9:52 am That maxim then becomes the litmus test by which we measure the forward-looking consequences of moral actions.
Of course all consequences are forward looking, so ‘forward looking consequences’ is a tautology. But spelling out tautologies can be very important in philosophy, such as in the suggestion that flourishing and happiness are the same.
Interbane wrote: Thu May 05, 2022 9:52 am I'm running out of time, so need to summarize how this ties to abortion. Minimizing harm means that of all methods of abortion, the least possible harm should be done to the foetus. If we know it can feel pain, that must be considered. It is also only judged as a moral act only if the mother is in such a condition that carrying the birth full-term causes a great deal of distress/harm.
There really are much bigger moral consequences of abortion to consider than the immediate points you mention. The effects on social values of seeing a foetus as disposable private property owned by the mother are one complex area. Another is the foregone flourishing that is lost by accepting that the emotional feelings of the mother outweigh the rights of the foetus. The question of whether adoption should be encouraged for women who feel unable to raise their child is a point that is often excluded from consideration. Another is the difficulty of weighing and assessing post-abortion feelings of guilt and regret. Another is the value of having more of the next generation born in the country compared to coming from immigration, in terms of cultural continuity.
Interbane wrote: Thu May 05, 2022 9:52 am All human lives have moral value when we admit that our individual existences promote human flourishing. Without any other qualifier, we are valuable to our species by default. This is similar to Richard Dawkin's selfish gene, where we have attachments even to distant cousins. It has to do with identity and empathy, but these are the thoughts that are still messy.
A problem with asserting moral value to all human life is that circumstances of extreme disability create a difficult moral calculus. Should we insist parents sacrifice their opportunities in order to care for a child where ultrasound has determined it will be extremely disabled? That certainly reduces flourishing and happiness and pleasure for the parents, even though some people in such circumstances claim otherwise. My view is that such pregnancies should be aborted on moral grounds. But I think a healthy foetus in an accidental pregnancy should be carried to term, and then either given up for adoption or cared for by the parents. Of course adoption creates the messy problem of contact with the birth parents, but that is better than abortion.
Interbane wrote: Thu May 05, 2022 9:52 am Thoughts?
My cultural context has been totally pro-abortion, based on my mother’s strong feminist ideology. In recent years I have come to question this view, with its total emotional rejection of any moral dialogue about abortion. I will also post this comment to the thread Morality of Abortion, where I raised some other moral questions that I have not seen much debated. For example, the problem of whether Roe v Wade is primarily about abortion or power.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

Robert Tulip wrote:Hi Interbane, your ideas here are interesting. A consequentialist deterministic ethic of abortion is more complex than how you have described it so far, in my opinion. The consequences of any such decision extend beyond the individual circumstances to also affect the broader society and its values and decisions.
Yes, it's beyond me. I wanted to bring it to this group, as the best set of intellectuals I know. Whatever ethical theory we chose do inform our decision on abortion has an impact on the broader society. Mainly in the sense of clashing viewpoints which would foster division. But if we're speaking from within the framework of consequentialism, the broader impact is a nonlocalized harm to the group caused by the death of one of it's potential members. The slight reduction in flourishing.
Robert Tulip wrote:This theme that moral philosophy is entirely about the future has a compelling logic. We cannot influence the past, but everything we do influences the future. Ethics is about how we influence the world for good or evil. Quantifying the consequences of action should be at the core of ethical theory, but is obviously impossible to do in a complete way, given the scale of unknowns and the legitimate differences people have about what is good.
I think any attempt do quantify consequences leads to the main weaknesses of utilitarianism. Rather, if individual actions are judged by many through the lens of consequentialism, we can use the framework of that ethical theory along with our moral emotions to judge any given act. It would need to be a large enough group, and groups of adherents to other ethical theories would need to inform the discussion as a control set.
Robert Tulip wrote:This is a really valuable and important framing of the causal postulate. Determinism means every event is the result of causes. The key question I have about determinism is whether quantum indeterminacy means that in principle there are events that could happen differently from the same initial conditions, refuting the Laplace clockwork model of reality, and therefore whether human freedom is real or only apparent. Like Dennett’s hidden layer, we cannot know if the Laplace model of knowing the position and vector of every particle could hypothetically enable complete prediction of the future. But as you say, that is not relevant to your argument.
I remember we discussed this quite a bit in the past. Always an interesting discussion.
Robert Tulip wrote:Maximising the sum total of human happiness, the utilitarian doctrine of hedonic calculus, can reasonably be equated to maximising human flourishing. Happiness is not the same as pleasure. Short term pleasures such as taking drugs are far from maximising happiness, since the unhappiness and loss of potential that they cause far outweigh the immediate pleasure. A further point is that seeing complex ecosystems as sacred enhances human flourishing and happiness, since the alienation of culture from nature seen in conventional religion not only creates human trauma but also fails to see how ecological sustainability is central to durable human flourishing on our fragile planet. And durable flourishing contains more happiness than immediate pleasure does.
You're saying there's no real need to reference happiness, as it's redundant? My sense of the conceptual definition of the word flourishing is that it lacks emphasis of mental health. It's more about the thriving of a group in the same sense that an ant colony could thrive, but still be robotic. But maybe my experience with the term is lacking, but my gut tells me it's insufficient.
Robert Tulip wrote:Of course all consequences are forward looking, so ‘forward looking consequences’ is a tautology. But spelling out tautologies can be very important in philosophy, such as in the suggestion that flourishing and happiness are the same.
I agree, although it's more about extra emphasis on the forward-looking aspects. Consequences can be viewed in the past tense as well, in analysis of events. Naturally that must inform the measurement, but the measurement is only regarding actions with respect to what follows.
Robert Tulip wrote:The effects on social values of seeing a foetus as disposable private property owned by the mother are one complex area. Another is the foregone flourishing that is lost by accepting that the emotional feelings of the mother outweigh the rights of the foetus. The question of whether adoption should be encouraged for women who feel unable to raise their child is a point that is often excluded from consideration.
I think the messiest effect is the impact on social values of seeing the fetus as disposable property. I don't think there is any way around the moral disgust at the act, because it is wrong. But the choice of words more accurately lies somewhere between 'disposable' and 'indispensable'. I also think that pro-life advocates dismiss the rights of the mother without proper consideration. If we're speaking of rights, then by what right one human use the body of another human against that human's will? Yes, it's a natural part of the cycle of life, but put yourself in the shoes of a young woman who suddenly has a new human inside her, then being told she has no say in the growth of this human. She's required to allow it to grow. In spite of pregnancy being natural, the thought makes me queasy when I think of those women who desperately don't want to be used as a vessel for the growth of a new human. Until the technology comes along where we can transplant the fetus into another woman or artificial womb, the only choice here is to allow the woman bodily autonomy.

When you mention the rights of the fetus, what rights are you referring to? Are these the god-given rights all people have, where secularists would call them self-evident?
Robert Tulip wrote:A problem with asserting moral value to all human life is that circumstances of extreme disability create a difficult moral calculus.
But doesn't that moral calculus already exist? Don't we judge the inherent value of some to be greater than others? I think that deep down inside we do, and perhaps feel a bit of shame about it. The missing ingredient I think is many fail to consider that the value of an individual must also take into account all their relationships. To lose a person does more harm to all those around them. In fact, I'd argue that the majority of the harm done when someone is murdered is harm to the survivors that loved them or knew them. There is also the generalized harm to society at the loss of one of their members, and also in the slight reduction in flourishing.

We smooth the complexity of this calculus out by saying that all people are equal, because their relationships are invisible to us and therefore an unknowable variable. This judgement becomes so automatic that over time we dismiss the gut feeling that value between people isn't truly equal. I think this 'smoothing out' of the complexities is fair and appropriate for most, but on matters such as morality where we're translating it to law, the complexities must be considered. Unless we give appropriate weighting to the relationships a person has, this can quickly become a slippery slope. It's far safer to simply declare that all people are equal. But to be perfectly honest, I don't think it's entirely true.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

Interbane wrote: Mon May 09, 2022 9:19 am I wanted to bring it to this group, as the best set of intellectuals I know.
That is very high praise for the Booktalk community! Abortion is a hornet’s nest for moral theory, highly charged with complex emotion and politics. I hope others are willing to comment. The trauma inherent in abortion means people are often unwilling to discuss it from a dispassionate ethical and philosophical perspective. I was interested to see some comments on this a while back from Harry Marks, and there are all sorts of issues worth discussing especially in the current context of the Supreme Court debate. Wikipedia has a good article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosoph ... ion_debate
Interbane wrote: Mon May 09, 2022 9:19 am Whatever ethical theory we choose to inform our decision on abortion has an impact on the broader society. Mainly in the sense of clashing viewpoints which would foster division.
Social division based on ideology may well be the main impact of the abortion debate, but there are also other impacts. After the Roe decision in 1973, the idea that children who are unwanted or whose parents cannot support them are likelier to become criminals, led to the linkage of abortion with a lower crime rate, argued in Freakonomics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legalized ... ime_effect
Interbane wrote: Mon May 09, 2022 9:19 am But if we're speaking from within the framework of consequentialism, the broader impact is a nonlocalized harm to the group caused by the death of one of its potential members. The slight reduction in flourishing.
The morality of abortion is usually discussed in terms of rights, setting right to life against right to choose. Arguments about rights are inherently metaphysical, with the claim that a moral principle has absolute validity grounded in the nature of reality. As a result such arguments appeal to our cultural beliefs and principles for their persuasion, and do not rest mainly upon evidence. A consequentialist approach is quite different from a principle-based approach to ethics. Assessing consequences means defining all effects caused by an action in terms of factual evidence and probability. It requires that we think about how things might have turned out differently, known as the counterfactual. The counterfactual for abortion means imagining what would have happened if a pregnancy had or had not been ended. It requires saying at the individual level what would have happened if the abortion had not occurred, and what may have happened if a child allowed to live had been aborted. There is also a social level of impact, with the abortion rate having demographic and cultural effects. The view that abortion is an expected means of birth control changes people’s attitudes about relationships. Types of abortion can be classified, for example teenage, disability, rape, wedlock, large family, poverty, etc, and they all have different moral implications.
Interbane wrote: Mon May 09, 2022 9:19 amYou're saying there's no real need to reference happiness, as it's redundant?
Happiness and flourishing are different, but in terms of their ethical meaning there is major overlap, to the point that a utilitarian ethical theory can reasonably identify them as the same. Short term happiness that undermines longer term flourishing (eg abortion?) is a case in point. Just saying a baby would be inconvenient is not a particularly good reason to abort the fetus. Happiness is more than immediate desire. Eating cake and smoking cigarettes can make you happy, but at the cost of a greater amount of future happiness that could be produced by abstaining from these pleasurable activities. How we balance the immediate and the long term depends on what economists call our discount rate, how much we are willing to forego the prospect of future happiness in favour of present happiness, effectively balancing pleasure against flourishing, consumption against investment, even temporal against eternal if we are metaphysically inclined. My view is that the ideal moral discount rate is very low, almost totally equating utility/happiness with flourishing, prioritising investment in future wellbeing over present consumption.
Interbane wrote: Mon May 09, 2022 9:19 am My sense of the conceptual definition of the word flourishing is that it lacks emphasis of mental health. It's more about the thriving of a group in the same sense that an ant colony could thrive, but still be robotic. But maybe my experience with the term is lacking, but my gut tells me it's insufficient.
The use of flourishing as a moral concept goes back to ancient Greece, with Aristotle using the term ‘eudaimonia’ to mean the highest good for human life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eudaimonia It is good for the individual and the society to do well and flourish. Flourishing is far from a robotic biological calculus, given that human evolution is primarily cultural rather than biological. Our future flourishing is arguably driven more by conscious intent than by emotion and instinct. We flourish when we are healthy, wealthy and wise. These conditions generate stable and durable happiness, and require good mental health as well as physical health. Abortion cuts the birth rate, by definition, and raises the challenging problem of weighing the potential likely happiness and flourishing of those unlived lives against the actual happiness and flourishing of the woman who decides she is unable to carry the pregnancy to term.
Interbane wrote: Mon May 09, 2022 9:19 am I think the messiest effect is the impact on social values of seeing the fetus as disposable property. I don't think there is any way around the moral disgust at the act, because it is wrong.
The message that it is morally acceptable to regard a fetus as like a tumour totally prioritises personal autonomy over any social interest. There is trauma in abortion, and there are significant psychological dilemmas around how to deal with the grief arising from deliberate termination of a pregnancy. There does seem to be a coarsening of moral sensibility in the view that the only rights are those of the pregnant woman, a diminishing of the sense of dignity of human life.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

Chris O'Connor: The idea that our Constitution is somehow this magical and perfect document that addresses all past, present and future needs of our nation is ludicrous. To me the worship of the Constitution isn't much better than how some Biblical literalists view the Bible. Surely we have evolved as a society past the point where we worship antiquated words on paper.
The authors of the Constitution knew it was not a "magical and perfect document." That's why they included a complicated process to amend it, which has been done 27 times. However there are modern conservatives who seem to believe differently. The Originalism theory states that laws should be interpreted in terms as understood by the authors of the Constitution. (I think Scalia was and Thomas is a proponent, possibly others on Scotus.) It is valuable to consider legal terms as understood by the framers of the constitution, but we cannot be bound by that. Originalists abandon their theory when considering the modern military. In another example, the original constitution was ratified with the understanding that "Property" included "Human beings." We should understand that, but give it not one nanogram of weight when considering modern legal disputes.

No rights are absolute. Jewish law requires access to abortion in certain circumstances. Contrary to right wing propaganda, once Roe falls, various State abortion laws will have direct First Amendment conflicts with the free exercise of religion.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

Robert Tulip wrote: Sat May 14, 2022 5:36 pm The message that it is morally acceptable to regard a fetus as like a tumour totally prioritises personal autonomy over any social interest. There is trauma in abortion, and there are significant psychological dilemmas around how to deal with the grief arising from deliberate termination of a pregnancy. There does seem to be a coarsening of moral sensibility in the view that the only rights are those of the pregnant woman, a diminishing of the sense of dignity of human life.
This "coarsening of moral sensibility" must be an outcome of the "group polarization" that David French discusses in his book, "Divided We Fall." Because it's actually pretty easy to see how someone can be opposed to abortion and, likewise, to see how someone can be "pro-choice." If you took away the influences of the culture war, perhaps we would all be willing to engage with the moral grayness of abortion and be able to come to a reasonable compromise.

The pending Supreme Court ruling that negates Roe vs. Wade has itself become a pawn in the culture war. We can find radically different viewpoints on this issue, owing to our growing radicalization. But if you can resist the pull of this tide, remember how easy it is to see that there is valid opposition to abortion as well as opposition to pro-choice. It's classic necker cube.

https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Necker_cube
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Re: Morality of Abortion

Limits on early abortion drive more women to get them later
An 18-year-old was undergoing treatment for an eating disorder when she learned she was pregnant, already in the second trimester. A mom of two found out at 20 weeks that her much-wanted baby had no kidneys or bladder. A young woman was raped and couldn’t fathom continuing a pregnancy.

https://apnews.com/article/abortion-pol ... 36538b418c
Unpleasant reading, but situations that will soon become even more difficult to deal with...
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Re: Morality of Abortion

Because any substantive due process decision is "demonstrably erroneous," we have a duty to "correct the error" established in those precedents. After overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions guarantee the myriad rights that our substantive due process cases have generated.

...In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court's substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.

- Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
Concurring opinion in Dobbs Vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization 6/24/2022
A threat concerning SCOTUS decisions on contraception, sodomy and same-sex marriage. We can't even say "as expected that didn't take long" since it's in the ruling.

https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2 ... 722723001/
https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/24/politics ... index.html
The Alito opinion is an extended attack on the concept of "unenumerated" rights -- that is, rights that are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution.
https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/24/opinions ... index.html
Hasn't he read the 9th amendment to the US Constitution?
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
Indeed, in one of the opinion's many disparaging references to Roe, Alito writes that Roe "held that the abortion right, which is not mentioned in the Constitution, is part of a right to privacy, which is also not mentioned."
(Link in previous quote above.)
Hasn't he read the 4th amendment to the US Constitution? It doesn't contain the word "privacy," but confers that right.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
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Re: Morality of Abortion

Now that the Supreme Court has announced its decision on abortion law, it is even more important to reflect on how this has come about. My own perspective is to support abortion on demand, while also encouraging dialogue about the moral and political issues that arise, recognising abortion as a significant moral issue.

The essential issue in this decision is about the misuse of political power. At the time of Roe v Wade, Congress did not have enough votes to enforce the national legalisation of abortion, so use of judicial power was a way to get around this democratic deficit.

Justice Alito’s description of the use of the privacy line in the constitution in Roe v Wade as “an abuse of judicial authority” is correct, illustrating that opponents of abortion are viewed with contempt by pro-choice advocates. This perception of abuse and contempt drives the popular anger among those opposed to abortion. Progressives rode roughshod over the concerns of their opponents, presenting them as primitive and oppressive and stupid. Mutual demonisation led to the steady growth of abortion as a flashpoint and signal of social division.

Use of courts to change the law in contested political questions increases the polarisation of opinion, as unelected courts lack the legitimacy and authority inherent in legislative policy decisions made by elected governments. In a democracy, major policy decisions should be made by the legislature, not the judiciary. If you can't get a decision through the legislature, you should wait until you can. Forcing a policy on communities who disagree with it should only occur when the moral issues are very clear, as they were with slavery but are not with abortion.

If we think about the counterfactual, what would have occurred if SCOTUS had not legalised abortion? For a start, there would have been ongoing suffering of parents forced to raise unwanted children, as well as ongoing suffering of women finding illegal abortions.

But on the other side, there would not have been an undemocratic suppression of the rights of states to make their own decisions. The nation would not have debated about the authority of the Supreme Court to overrule the authority of states. As a result, the role of abortion as central to the culture war would not have been so fraught.

Meanwhile, the pressure for abortion on demand would have continued to grow. States that continued to ban abortion would have been criticised for the inevitable human rights abuses, such as criminal action against women who had miscarriages, and health problems from illegal abortions. Instead of debate about the arrogance of liberal elites in demeaning the moral values of conservatives, the main moral issue would have been the problems of unwanted births and oppression of women. Progress toward abortion law reform would have been slower, but might well have been more effective, gradually building pressure for legislative action at the federal level without creating the current massive backlash.

This all illustrates how central process is to outcomes. When due process is short circuited, grievance is created, and the aggrieved will build their resentment by campaigning against the decision.
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Re: Morality of Abortion

A friend of mine recently wrote on Facebook
It’s so hard to see The Handmaids Tale - that I read as a dystopian fantasy when it came out - charting the contours of the US slide into fundamentalist authoritarianism.
Due to the level of political emotion this raises, I don't want to reply directly. But I want to share a comment here.

I am wondering if opponents of abortion could reasonably regard the 1973 decision of the Supreme Court to mandate a universal right to early abortion as "fundamentalist authoritarianism." The Roe v Wade decision certainly was authoritarian, using judicial authority to bypass the democratic process, in a way widely seen as tendentious.

As to whether it was fundamentalist, it initially seems obviously not from the perspective of liberal scientific reason. However, the debate over whether life begins at birth or at conception is a matter of fundamental values. Requiring that other people accept your view on such a question of values takes an absolute stand on a woman's right to own her body as private property, which was the basis of Roe v Wade.

Any absolute moral viewpoint is essentially fundamentalist in nature, setting up a metaphysical opposition between good and evil. When people want to say their own moral perspective is objectively and fundamentally correct, and then use authoritarian methods to enforce their view by state power, as occurred with Roe v Wade, invoking fundamentalism to demonise their opponents only enhances the political polarisation,

It may be that the religious fundamentalism of Young Earth Creationism etc is only incidental to the driving motivations of hostility to abortion. It seems plausible that rejection of authoritarian federal control of local legislatures is a more influential motivating factor.

It is of the nature of fundamentalist mythology that its adherents do not brook any criticism, and instead see their own opinions as objective facts. That psychology appears across the political spectrum.
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