“Mom Baby God” Delivers Pro-Choice Messages Through Pro-Life Characters

“Hi! Are you here for the Pro-Life Youth Conference? Do you like cupcakes and birthdays? Here, have a cupcake! Did you know that one in three babies never gets to have a birthday because of abortion?” Actress and playwright Madeline Burrows greeted audience members with TastyKakes and energy on Monday evening as they entered Olde Club, posing as a bubbly “pro-life teen” before the Monday performance of her play Mom Baby God, a pro-choice, one-person play depicting the events that unfold at a pro-life conference at a crisis pregnancy center.

Mom Baby God centers around Jessica, a perky, Justin Bieber-loving, pro-life teen attending a pro-life youth conference and interacting with different personalities there — including other pro-life teens, a minister who preaches with thinly-veiled racism, and a “New Wave pro-life feminist” who is an enthusiastic advocate of “hot, marital sex.” Meeting this diverse cast of characters sheds lights on the different mentalities, propaganda, and rhetoric that make up the pro-life movement.

In its hour running time, Mom Baby God manages to paint a comprehensive, sensitive portrait of the anti-abortion movement. The play reminds audiences not only of the fight yet to be won for reproductive justice, but also of the theater’s potential to humanize politics.

A speech by one of the characters in the play, a speaker at a “Sexual Purity Workshop,” includes examples of the types of deliberately distorted “facts” about birth control and contraception deployed by the pro-life activists depicted in Mom Baby God. Says that character: “It’s a real experience to deliver a baby with an IUD implanted in its skull, because the IUD has failed! These methods will fail. And contraception will lead to abortion, because the baby will try to go into the uterus and uterus lining is now so thin that the baby cannot attach, so the baby will eventually starve and die.”

“One of the questions that people always ask me… is, ‘How much of this stuff is real? Did you make most of this stuff up?’ And I wish I could say that all this is just a fabrication of my own, but it’s based on real people, […] conversations, interviews I had with people, [and] speeches,” said Burrows during the Q & A after the play. She spent two years researching the anti-abortion movement for her play by going undercover as a pregnant teen and interviewing right-wing activists at different conferences and rallies including March for Life and Youth Rally for Life. Her immersion informed her not only about racism, sexism, and misinformation of young people propagated by anti-abortion activists, but also about the sheer magnitude and organization of the movement throughout the United States.

“One thing that really struck me was, they are really well-organized, really vocal, and really unapologetic,” said Burrows during the Q & A. “But they’re not the majority of the people in this country. But they’re winning, because they’re really out there, and they’re unapologetic and they’re in your face.” In Mom Baby God, Burrows touches on the methodical campaigning by pro-life activists, which extends to social media among right-wing youth – for instance, the main character Jessica has a video blog entitled “I’m a Pro-Life Teen.”

The play also hints at the marketing of the pro-life agenda to women of color — a tactic that has highlighted racism and sexism in the struggle over reproductive rights. In citing examples of racism, Burrows spoke of the “save the brown babies” mentality among some “right-wing adoption agencies that are very invested in relinquishing children from women of color and putting them in white homes.”

“I really like the term ‘reproductive justice’ more than ‘pro-choice,’” said Burrows, “because I think that it is more encompassing, and it opens up space to talk about racism and class and sexism and homophobia… and how all those things impact our abilities to have children or not. Because it’s not just about whether you can have an abortion or not… it’s also about who is allowed to have children in this country.”

A deeply emotional and psychological issue at the heart of Burrows’ play is how the pro-life movement affects young people. The character of Jessica encounters the challenge of being a hormonal teenager who has received a startling lack of sex education and is taught a doctrine of abstinence. After a sexual encounter with another teenager at the conference, Jessica experiences staggering feelings of fear and guilt about her sexuality. The rude sexual awakening of the play is reminiscent of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening, a play about teenagers in nineteenth-century Germany who are traumatized by the conflict between their growing sexuality and the stifling culture around them.

“I love that play,” said Burrows in an interview with the Daily Gazette. “I think I was subconsciously inspired by it when writing the character of Jessica. I love how [Wedekind] is sympathetic to young people’s sexuality without being condescending.”

Perhaps the greatest success of Mom Baby God is its balance between politics and human emotion. To Burrows, political theater has to maintain such a balance since “art that’s political tends to be so tacky and hits you over the head.” When explaining to this reporter why she chose to pursue activism through theater, Burrows cited the emotional turmoil of Jessica, who is ultimately traumatized by the movement in which she participates. “You can’t bring that to a political rally,” she said. To her, theater as an art form has the potential to bring politics to a personal and emotional level. “When you have two lovers who can’t be together because they’re separated by a border, that’s political, but you also have that personal love story.”

Image Courtesy of Mom Baby God

53 comments

  1. 0
    comment about being responsible says:

    A late-term abortion often refers to an induced abortion procedure that occurs after the 20th week of gestation. The exact point when a pregnancy becomes late-term, however, is not clearly defined…
    viability varies greatly among pregnancies. Nearly all pregnancies are viable after the 27th week, and no pregnancies are viable before the 21st week. Everything in between is a “grey area”.[5](although babies are routinely resuscitated starting at 23 weeks gestation because that is when survival becomes possible).

    United States: In 2003, from data collected in those areas that sufficiently reported gestational age, it was found that 6.2% of abortions were conducted between 13 and 15 weeks, 4.2% between 16 and 20 weeks, and 1.4% at or after 21 weeks.[13] Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual study on abortion statistics does not calculate the exact gestational age for abortions performed past the 20th week, there are no precise data for the number of abortions performed after viability

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late_termination_of_pregnancy

  2. 0
    comment about being responsible says:

    Intact D&E procedure: The procedure has had a low rate of use, representing 0.17% (2,232 of 1,313,000) of all abortions in the United States in the year 2000, according to voluntary responses to an Alan Guttmacher Institute survey.

    There are at least three medical procedures associated with late-term abortions:
    Dilation and evacuation (D&E)
    Early labour induction
    Intact dilation and extraction (IDX or D&X), sometimes referred to as “partial-birth abortion”
    Abortions done for fetal abnormality are usually performed with induction of labor or with IDX; Elective late-term abortions are usually performed with D&E

    Under the Intact D&X method, the largest part of the fetus (the head) is reduced in diameter to allow vaginal passage. According to the American Medical Association, this procedure has four main elements.[3] Usually, preliminary procedures are performed over a period of two to three days, to gradually dilate the cervix using laminaria tents (sticks of seaweed which absorb fluid and swell). Sometimes drugs such as pitocin, a synthetic form of oxytocin, are used to induce labor. Once the cervix is sufficiently dilated, the doctor uses an ultrasound and forceps to grasp the fetus’s leg. The fetus is turned to a breech position, if necessary, and the doctor pulls one or both legs out of the cervix, which some refer to as ‘partial birth’ of the fetus. The doctor subsequently extracts the rest of the fetus, leaving only the head still inside the uterus. An incision is made at the base of the skull, a blunt dissector (such as a Kelly clamp) is inserted into the incision and opened to widen the opening,[4] and then a suction catheter is inserted into the opening. The brain is suctioned out, which causes the skull to collapse and allows the fetus to pass more easily through the cervix. The placenta is removed and the uterine wall is vacuum aspirated using a cannula.[5] (Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late_termination_of_pregnancy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intact_dilation_and_extraction

  3. 0
    comment about being responsible says:

    Survey from the Alan Guttmacher Institute about reasons for women having had late term abortions (more than 1 answer could be chosen):

    71% Woman didn’t recognize she was pregnant or misjudged gestation
    48% Woman found it hard to make arrangements for abortion
    33% Woman was afraid to tell her partner or parents
    24% Woman took time to decide to have an abortion
    8% Woman waited for her relationship to change
    8% Someone pressured woman not to have abortion
    6% Something changed after woman became pregnant
    6% Woman didn’t know timing is important
    5% Woman didn’t know she could get an abortion
    2% A fetal problem was diagnosed late in pregnancy
    11% Other

    1. 0
      Angela says:

      There is no excuse to have a late term abortion. There are enough couples who would adopt. Late term abortions pose
      more risks than delivery, even when the mothers health is at risk

  4. 0
    Pinkjasmine ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    ETA: in response to my earlier comment I was unclear. At 8 months (LONG after viability), what would happen generally is induced labour, not abortion. What I meant by “late-term abortion” is abortion in the second trimester.

  5. 0
    Pinkjasmine ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Again, let me reiterate. Also, abortions are ONLY legal UP TILL the point of viability – therefore no “day before birth” abortions like you describe. The ONLY time legal late-term abortions happen is when the baby will not survive or there is danger to the life of the woman. Of course, if you outlaw abortions or make access more difficult, you might see some more illegal late-term abortions, which is contrary to the pro-life movement’s goals, no?

    No one “vacuums” fetuses out of uteri at 8 months UNLESS either the fetus, or the mother are going to die. 8 months is past the point of viability and according to Roe V. Wade, abortions are not legal after that.

    1. 0
      wewe says:

      Nobody thus far has argued that abortions should be outlawed. Several people have argued that 8-month abortions (indeed all abortions) should be permitted.

      Swarthmore: where viewing pictures of naked women is “violent” hate speech that causes some to “fear for [their] physical safety,” but openly talking about aborting 8 month fetuses like it’s an inert object is celebrated as a progressive assertion of women’s rights.

      1. 0
        Pinkjasmine ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

        Okay so what exactly are you arguing then? That aborting an 8-month old fetus should not be treated callously, that it should be mourned properly? Most fetuses that are aborted at that late stage are very wanted babies and the abortion is usually a result of the parents having to make the heartbreaking choice between letting the fetus be born, suffer more and die anyway or aborting the fetus, or between the mother’s life and the fetuses. Mostly only babies with severe birth defects that will cause them to die soon after (or during) birth are aborted so late.

        The few abortions of unwanted fetuses so late in pregnancy are probably because of the woman having no access to abortion earlier in the pregnancy and getting desperate. You know what would prevent that? Having legal, safe and convenient access to abortion in the first place.

        There MAY be one or two sociopaths who intentionally want to abort their fetus in the eighth month for no apparent reason, but the legality of abortion is not going to be a factor for them in that case. If they are so malicious, they will do something awful anyway.

        1. 0
          wewe says:

          Yes, I’m well aware that most people think as I do, that aborting an 8 month fetus except in the most extraordinary circumstances is abominable. But the fact is, in this very comment thread, several people expressed in very explicit language that they think otherwise, and they justified their views with some inane psychobabble about “BUT WHERE DO WE DRAW THE LINE” and “BUT FETUSES DONT HAVE DREAMS,” and then they somehow received the majority of upvotes from the readership of this article.

          How about instead of telling me what I already know, you instead take a look around and acknowledge that there ARE people who wish to legitimize late-term abortions, and that they’re posting right under your nose.

          Rather than continuing to trot out the tired excuses of “but they just didn’t have enough education” and “but contraception is too expensive” and “but it was a heart-rending decision,” you need only READ the actual comments that have already been posted here by actual students to understand that apathy and selfishness can ALSO be factors that lead women to have late-term abortions, and to do so unapologetically. Just READ.

          It is interesting that on the one hand DG readers think that women who have abortions are almost always doing it because of “LACK OF EDUCATION” and “COST OF CONTRACEPTION” but then they turn around and espouse views that basically say it’s morally acceptable to abort fetuses of any kind and for basically any reason. One wonders why they were insisting that women do it only for all the “good” reasons if they are going to argue vehemently that it can be done for any reason at all.

          It is interesting that DG readers deny that pro-choicers are ever selfish and callous about human life, and then you see a bunch of them posting lazy philosophical ramblings that insist in a very emotionally invested way that it’s just fine to terminate an 8 month fetus, and then you see them reaching en masse for stupid knee-jerk responses saying that a) scientific evidence for fetuses feeling pain is false, and b) someone’s personal experience of fetuses having some basic awareness must be false.

          Meanwhile I’m thinking: shouldn’t you be a bit more humble on this topic and choose to err on the side of caution? Especially since some of you admit that there’s no definitive answer on when life actually begins. But no. We just get a lot of bilge saying that a woman should be able to get an abortion whenever she wants, and you have no right to judge!

  6. 0
    Anna says:

    Actually, a fetus does not and should never have equal protection under the constitution. I had to earn that right by BEING BORN. It even says in pretty much every amendment that the amendment is guaranteed to PEOPLE BORN or NATURALIZED in the United States. Not “humans conceived in or around the U.S.”. No. Like it or not, fetuses do not have the right to life as they are not yet citizens of this country. The second the unborn receive constitutional protection, women lose all of their protection. And since that is unconstitutional, the unborn simply do not have rights. Maybe that sounds callous, but I don’t care. That’s fact. A fetus is not as important as the person it is inside. Her life goes first. She has friends, a career, family, plans, aspirations, interests, hobbies, etc. a fetus had none of that, doesn’t know it doesn’t have any of that, and doesn’t even have the capability to realize that. It won’t feel the abortion happening, know its happening, or care.

    To have more regard for the rights and feelings of those who have none and don’t know they have none over those who have already earned their rights by BEING BORN and have feelings and emotions and stuff is just abhorrent.

    A zygote, embryo, or fetus is NOT a child. It is NOT a person. It BECOMES a person. It BECOMES a baby. It is a baby the second it becomes viable. It is a person when it is born.

    1. 0
      Alum says:

      Fun fact: In every state in the union, if you negligently or criminally kill or injure a fetus inside the womb, you are liable for damages. So your claim that they have no rights is not only morally repugnant but factually inaccurate. It frightens me how cavalier you are about what makes someone human and their relative value.

    2. 0
      Breathtaking... says:

      Wow, Anna. According to Hitler, Jews were not people either. At one point in our history, blacks were only 3/4 human! Beware of those who would arbitrarily define personhood, according to their own standards, of course.

    3. 0
      comment about being responsible says:

      Having had experience with many babies who were born at 23 weeks gestation or beyond, I can tell you that they definitely feel pain at birth. They do have people who care about them, even if it is only the health care professionals caring for them, but most often also their parents or grandparents.

      Career, cell phone, Skype account? Not yet. Maybe their hobby is staying alive.

      Even if they are up for adoption, that is a kind of match.com, which they can look forward to when older, as well.

      It is cruel to kill viable fetuses, even if they have not been granted admission to a competitive college yet! In many cases, these fetuses are the hope of the future, not just to be aborted and thrown out, because they may stand in the way of the mother’s next job interview.

        1. 0
          comment about being responsible says:

          That’s absurd. You are saying that pain is only real when someone verbalizes it? So that means that babies don’t feel pain until they say a first word at about 9 months and any disabled person who cannot verbalize does not feel pain, etc. You are wrong. If a needle is stuck into a nonverbal or preverbal human being and they withdraw, cry, kick or otherwise react, they are feeling pain. Same for a fetus that withdraws and or grimaces prenatally in reaction to a needle or other interference.

    4. 0
      someone says:

      I’d like to clarify something: you both say “It is a baby the second it becomes viable.” and “It is a person when it is born.” So do you have a problem with killing a baby after it is viable? Viability occurs anywhere between 20-24 weeks… not to mention that there are being studies done as to when fetuses feel pain. Some of the literature is controversial, but it is mostly true that by that same timeframe (say post-24 weeks) the fetus can most likely feel pain. And I concur with “wewe” about the fetus’ ability to feel pain or not being irrelevant.

      One other question: You base your argument on the Constitution… that may be (although see “Hmmm”‘s post), but what about it from a non-Constitutional perspective? Why exactly do the unborn not have rights? You say because it is unconstitutional, but why does the ability of feeling pain or not extend rights to the unborn? You could say that of someone in a coma, for example.

      One last point: when you say: “To have more regard for the rights and feelings of those who have none and don’t know they have none over those who have already earned their rights by BEING BORN and have feelings and emotions and stuff is just abhorrent”, that’s not what I am talking about. It’s not about the “rights and feelings” of the mother versus the “rights and feelings” of the fetus. You’re dealing with a potential hardship for the mother, versus the life of the fetus. Now, when the health of the mother is endangered, I think abortion is a viable option. But in the scenario we’re discussing here, you’re not comparing two equals. It’s someone’s life versus additional hardship.

      1. 0
        Melissa says:

        > So do you have a problem with killing a baby after it is viable?

        You seem to not know how healthcare works.

        If a woman’s health is in danger after a doctor deems a fetus viable, labor will be induced and efforts will be made to keep the baby alive after birth.

        Prior to viability, abortion is legal and often warranted – but always none of anyone else’s business besides the woman and her doctor.

        1. 0
          someone says:

          You’re not actually responding to me. I was only mentioning viability because I was asking Anna to clarify her point. I’m well aware of when abortion is legal… my point is that viability should not be the determination as to when abortion is legal or not.

          You try to make it seem as if I know nothing about the issue and then assert finally as fact that it’s no one’s business but the woman’s and the doctor’s as if you want the last word here, when once again, you (and others) are avoiding the critical question of when, if ever, the fetus gains a right to its own life.

          So I’ll ask you – or anyone else who’s willing to answer – when do you think the fetus gains a right to its own life? Never? 32 weeks? 24 weeks? 12 weeks? And, more importantly, why then?

    5. 0
      wewe says:

      So you are fine with women getting 8-month abortions. It does not bother you at all if a woman has a fetus vacuumed out of their stomach that would have been born alive and healthy the very next week. Even if the woman is having the abortion not because of health reasons or some extraordinary circumstance but merely out of convenience or caprice, the 8-month fetus has zero rights whatsoever, and if the woman wants it out of her body on a whim, well the 8-month fetus just has to go and there is nothing shameful about terminating the viability of the little parasite (or tumor?). Her life goes first.

      I’m not going to call you callous or anything because I’m just glad you’re being honest and putting your position out there. Thanks for this. I hope you broadcast your opinions to the wider world more frequently because I think it’s something that definitely should be heard.

      1. 0
        Melissa says:

        You are so unbelievably uneducated about how abortion actually works in the real world.

        First of all, 8 months equates to approximately (if not more) 32 weeks. A fetus is considered possibly viable as early as 26 weeks. If health of the mother is a concern, a fetus will be delivered after viability and efforts made to maintain its life. So at 8 months, no, a vacuum aspirator will not be used as – at best – it would just tickle the fetus. Vacuum aspirators are used in early abortions, < 12 weeks.

        Secondly, you are publicizing your ignorance all over this thread, and then making sure everyone knows it's you by signing your comments with the same inane signature. If you think you have something of value that is FACTUAL to add to this discussion, by all means do it. But to spread simple rhetoric that's false and ignorant is an affront to thinking people.

        1. 0
          wewe says:

          Congrats, you managed to say nothing. Of course I’m aware that 8-month abortions are currently illegal. If you had paid attention, I was responding to someone who argued that they shouldn’t be illegal, and that aborting ANY fetus is just a casual thing, because fetuses don’t have careers or aspirations like women do, and if you kill it it just won’t care. Next time try to read and understand what others are saying before flying off the handle and looking like a fool. Oh and your militant stance towards “how dare you be judgmental” is really rich.

    6. 0
      Hmmm says:

      “It even says in pretty much every amendment that the amendment is guaranteed to PEOPLE BORN or NATURALIZED in the United States. Not “humans conceived in or around the U.S.”. No. Like it or not, fetuses do not have the right to life as they are not yet citizens of this country.”

      “And since that is unconstitutional, the unborn simply do not have rights. Maybe that sounds callous, but I don’t care. That’s fact.”

      Right. Fetuses, just like all other non-Americans, do not have the right to life, which is contingent on being a naturalized American, as defined by the constitution, which has always extended rights in a judicious manner.

      “It won’t feel the abortion happening, know its happening, or care.”
      Someone could kill me in my sleep tonight in such a way that I a). don’t feel it, b). never figure out that it is happening, and c). never care that it is happening.

  7. 0
    John says:

    Of course we all know that women have a right to a safe abortion. The next front in reproductive rights are after-birth abortions, which is an exciting new development that is only beginning to come to light (see http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/03/01/medethics-2011-100411.full)

    Of course both pro-lifers and choicers are going to use the same old bad arguments that have always been used to deny people their basic rights, arguments similar to those that were used to support oppressions like segregation and slavery. For example:

    1. “Abortion is about a right to one’s body. Once the fetus, is out, a woman no longer has a right over it since it’s not part of her body anymore.” How in the world does your body part not being attached to you somehow force you to forfeit your right over that body part? Just because I take out my kidney and store it in a fridge doesn’t mean I lose my bodily autonomy over it.
    2. “Once a fetus is born, it has rights.” This arbitrary rule simply has no reason to be rationally accepted. Why should I believe that once a fetus passes through the birth canal and out the vagina that it all of a sudden possesses rights? One would need to show that passing through a vagina has sufficient powers to grant people rights, or that passing through a vagina is a necessary and sufficient criterion for possessing rights.
    3. “Only fetuses that are completely dependent on the mother can be aborted.” Newly birthed fetuses are also totally dependent on the mother for survival.
    4. “Only fetuses that exist within the mother’s womb can be aborted.” Apart from being another arbitrary, unsupported rule, this objection can easily be shown to be a feeble criticism. For example, if a newly birthed fetus was able to be placed back into the mother’s womb, could it be aborted? The objector would have to say yes by his own criteria, thus making him a supporter of after-birth abortions.

      1. 0
        versaceversaceversace says:

        Can’t tell if trying to show off philosophical knowledge via name dropping or actually writing a useful comment. Oh wait actually I can and it’s definitely the former.

        1. 0
          Hmmm says:

          Actually I legitimately can’t tell what the intention of John’s post was. Also there is no need to show off philosophical knowledge when I’m anonymous.

  8. 0
    comment about being responsible says:

    Women need to be more responsible before becoming pregnant. 41% of pregnancies in NYC end in abortion.

    From CBS News:
    http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local/new_york&id=7883827

    “Specifically non-Hispanic Blacks have a 59.8% abortion rate.

    Hispanics have a 41.3% abortion rate.

    Asians have a 22.7% abortion rate.

    And non-Hispanic Whites have a 20.4% abortion rate.

    The fact that 41% of all pregnancies in New York City end in abortion is not a secret and it’s not anything new.”

    This is just irresponsible. Women on Medicaid have access to birth control, as do others who can just walk into CVS and buy condoms or have their insurance cover birth control pills, etc. Or there is Planned Parenthood. Yes, women have money for it, or there are many many places in NYC to get free condoms or other means of birth control. With 10 million new cases of STDs a year, most of these men and women are just being irresponsible, as well.

    If you can afford an abortion, you know where and how to get birth control.

    Or just be responsible and abstain unless you can handle a pregnancy. Women can have some self-control, they are not just creatures of passion.

    Abortion was supposed to be rare and legal. It is now a form of birth control for women who have no hesitation about it. You may think it is just another form of birth control, but there is that nasty fact about the beating heart of a fetus.

    1. 0
      Melissa says:

      < Women need to be more responsible before becoming pregnant

      And you need to stop being a judgmental ass.

      Make contraception widely available and no cost.

      Make sex education widely available and ACCURATE.

      Then the number of abortions will be lessened – but it will NEVER be zero. There will always be a need to terminate pregnancies incompatible with life, or pregnancies of rape victims (where wanted) at the absolute least.

    2. 0
      really? says:

      this comment is insane.
      1) not everyone gets pregnant because they have made the choice to have unprotected sex. birth control fails. rape and sexual assault and incest and coercion and abuse are real. these women do not have the sort of access you blindly attribute to every woman ever.
      2) “women have money for it”? oh, really, every woman has the money to pay for birth control? WRONG.
      3) who are these women that you refer to, getting abortions with “no hesitation”? for many, many women it’s a difficult and traumatizing decision.

      you’re gross and your generalizations are offensive and you’re a troll and go away.

    3. 0
      another person says:

      I think you misspelled something: it’s “lack of access to information, birth control, and healthcare”, not “being responsible”. Those high numbers of abortions exist because our health system is failing us, specifically low-income women and women of color. Not because women are irresponsible. In order to have responsibility, the women need to first have access to agency.

  9. 0
    someone says:

    Not to mention that (although I wasn’t able to go to the performance, so I can’t say for sure) it seems to be mocking the pro-life position through satire. Connecting it to “thinly veiled racism”, etc. doesn’t change the persuasive nature of the position: do you completely disregard the notion that the fetus becomes a baby at some point and therefore has a right to their own life? And if you don’t disregard that notion (as a vast majority of Americans do not), when does the fetus reach that transition point? 28 weeks? 20 weeks? 12 weeks? (I remind you that abortion is illegal in many European countries such as France after 12 weeks). Or even at contraception?

    These are all legitimate questions, and people obviously disagree on them. But so often, the pro-choice argument seeks to avoid them altogether to focus on a woman’s right to her own body, and in general, no one disputes that any person, whether man, woman, non-identifying, whatever, has a right to their own body – but does that right supersede the fetus’ right to its own life?

    Again, these are important questions to ask and talk about. But the pro-life position is often swept under the rug as misogyny or equated with being anti-gay marriage rather than being considered as the legitimate and rationally held position given the cherished values of human life that many on the left support otherwise (see: death penalty, human rights, etc.).

    1. 0
      another person says:

      Every person, culture, society has their own personal construction of what is a fetus or what is a baby, regardless of what number politics/laws will put on it. To try to put a number on precisely when a baby turns into a fetus ignores and dilutes the idea that every person has their own idea of this change and has the right to define what is going on in their own body. How about we live in the spirit that a woman can make the decision about when her fetus turns into a baby and not leave it up to some law constructed by men who have never experienced pregnancy? Or how about we focus more on the concept of access to birth control as a response to late term abortions being aborted rather than punishing the women who didn’t have access to birth control in the first place?

      I don’t like to identify as pro-life or pro-choice because I feel that both of these ideas are focusing on the politics of abortion. No matter if abortion is legal or not, women are going to have abortions. Fetuses will be aborted. What I care about, then, is that women aren’t dying because they don’t get to have access to health care.

      1. 0
        Disagree says:

        “To try to put a number on precisely when a baby turns into a fetus ignores and dilutes the idea that every person has their own idea of this change and has the right to define what is going on in their own body. How about we live in the spirit that a woman can make the decision about when her fetus turns into a baby and not leave it up to some law constructed by men who have never experienced pregnancy?”

        Since when does anyone have to define when anyone else is human? This is why abortion undermines liberalism as a political theory. When rights conflicts are resolved by stipulating that one party is less than human and therefore unworthy of protection/subject to others’ desires, one has forgone liberalism and rights altogether.

      2. 0
        wewe says:

        Stupid. You are implying that all women have an intuitive special sense on when life begins, and that no woman is immoral or would perform an immoral act. You are also implying that men have no role in the discussion of whether or not to abort their own potential children because of the biological fact that they can never be pregnant. News flash: some women are dumb, selfish, and/or impulsive. They actually aren’t these angelic nurturing creatures that always know and want what’s best for the fetus inside of them. If a man is a scientific expert on when life begins, I would defer to his opinions on this issue over any woman’s opinions who is merely a layperson, no matter how much “feminine intuition” she claims to have derived about the neurological development of fetuses from simply having one grow in her body.

        You have demonstrated exactly why we will always need ample scrutiny on what is permissible under abortion laws, and you have demonstrated why some aspects of the pro-choice crowd deserve just as much ridicule as the most extreme pro-lifers.

        1. 0
          another person says:

          “You are implying that all women have an intuitive special sense on when life begins, and that no woman is immoral or would perform an immoral act.”

          I am implying the opposite of that: NOBODY has an intuitive sense of when life begins. That’s why this is such a hard topic.

          NEWSFLASH: men’s “scientific” approach to what a fetus is is not anymore objective then your made up concept of a woman”s “Intuitive” sense.

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            Peter '15 says:

            @wewe
            First off, correcting your terminology: an infant refers to a human that has already been born. Before birth, you use the term fetus.

            Now where are these women that you assert are “quite literally murder[ing] their babies[sic: fetuses]?” And why would making abortion illegal stop them from doing this?

            …it’s idiotic to think that this means we should throw up our hands and let every woman decide for herself what she should or should not do with the fetus in her body.

            And therefore no woman should be allowed to decide what to do with her body? What?

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            wewe says:

            This is a hard topic but it’s idiotic to think that this means we should throw up our hands and let every woman decide for herself what she should or should not do with the fetus in her body. It’s a damn hard question to decide precisely where life begins, but there are some reasonable boundaries that no woman should be allowed to cross. For example, it’s uncontroversial that no woman should be allowed to have an “abortion” literally a day before the baby is due. That would be murder. Your original post made it seem like women never intentionally or unintentionally murder their fetuses, or their infants, and that’s either incredibly naive or disgustingly dishonest. You say that a woman is going to have abortions whether it’s legal or not and that therefore we should have anything goes. No, how about we set clear reasonable standard and punish those who break the laws… you know, how it works with all other crimes. You say you’re merely agnostic on the question of where life begins, but actually you’re blithely indifferent to the preservation of life itself. Someone who believes that we will necessarily remain ignoranct on the exact point of where life begins, but is rightfully concerned about protecting life in all cases where it is clear that it has begun, would not just make it legal for women to murder their children simply because the question of where the theoretical boundary lies is fuzzy and hard to discern. You are, quite simply, unconcerned about an infant’s life, and would much rather the attention be directed to helping women instead, even those women who quite literally murder their babies. You have, therefore, validated all the pro-lifers’ worst suspicions. Good job.

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          Peter '15 says:

          Whoa there, Mr Science man.

          If a man is a scientific expert on when life begins, I would defer to his opinions on this issue over any woman’s opinions who is merely a layperson, no matter how much “feminine intuition” she claims to have derived about the neurological development of fetuses from simply having one grow in her body.

          Where the hell did that come from? No one is talking about “feminine intuition” (scare quooootes!) The point is that women are the ones most effected by abortion law, and women are not represented in American politics anywhere near the degree to which men are.
          Furthermore, even if your goal is 100% to minimize abortions, making abortion illegal is the worst way to do that. For an explanation of why, read this. Briefly, there isn’t evidence showing that making abortion illegal changes how many abortions there are — it simply makes them more dangerous.
          Also, let’s back up one sec:

          News flash: some women are dumb, selfish, and/or impulsive.

          Here’s a newsflash for you: some men are dumb, selfish, and/or impulsive. Here’s another newsflash: cis men aren’t going to have to carry a fetus inside of them, so they really don’t get to override women saying what they want to be allowed to do with their bodies.

          Stupid. You are implying that all women have an intuitive special sense on when life begins, and that no woman is immoral or would perform an immoral act.

          No, dude, just no. Although props for keeping doggedly with your tactic making up entire paragraphs of shit no one ever said, then arguing with it.

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            someone says:

            Peter, one problem I with this approach is the following: you are essentially abstaining from the question of when life begins. Maybe you don’t think you should tell other people what to do with their bodies, but this still ignores the question of life. As I see it, you fit into one of these categories – tell me if I am mistaken and you believe something else:

            a) The fetus does not become a child until it is born, or very late in the pregnancy (30+ weeks? Let’s say you have some 3rd trimester number)
            b) When the fetus becomes a child is irrelevant so long as it exists within the mother. It has no rights as such because it is (almost) entirely dependent on the mother to live.
            c) I don’t know when life begins, and I’m going to let women decide when that point is for themselves with respect to their own bodies and their own fetuses.

            My guess is that you fall into c) based on what you’ve said, although again, feel free to correct me and clarify your own views.

            If this is the case, then you are saying that there is no point at which the fetus actually obtains a right to its own life under the law. Its right to its own life is dependent solely on the beliefs of its mother.

            This is why laws can come into play here. General principles of equal protection strongly denounce these ideas of a subjectively determined point at which one gets to live. If, for example, we let parents decide whether their kids were able to live or not until they turned 5, we would consider that grossly unjust and think that it was entirely permissible for the government to make laws preventing such behavior. Of course, in that scenario, the child is not in the fetus, but the question of whether it has a right to its own life or not is still relevant in either scenario.

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            Peter '15 says:

            And wait, another newsflash: some women are scientists. Actually, a ton of them.
            Here’s yet another newsflash: the people who make laws are not scientists.

            If I may reuse your own sentence, modified for my purposes:

            If a woman is an expert on being a woman, I would defer to her opinions on this issue over any random DG commentator who is merely a layperson, no matter how much “scientific knowledge” he claims to have derived about the neurological development of fetuses from simply deciding to bullshit an argument about them with no research.

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      someone says:

      Also, looking back at my comment, I realize this construction: “whether man, woman, non-identifying, whatever” might be offensive (particularly the use of whatever at the end). That was not my intention at all and I’m sorry if I did offend anyone, I mean no insult.

      (Also, re: the downvotes – isn’t that essentially disregarding the argument without engaging in it, the very thing I was talking about in my comment?)

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    No doubt there are cranky pro-lifers. But what I think is most worrisome is that in the fall-out of all this mutual denigration of pro-choice and pro-life movements the public at large loses sight of what really happens. in many states nowadays it is legal to have -under ‘certain’ circumstances- an abortion right up to the date of birth. Had the baby been delivered and gotten a smack on the head the midwife or obstetrician would go to jail for life or even face the death penalty. Doing essentially the same thing a day or so earlier is a standard medical procedure called abortion. So there are various shades of abortion and these should be discussed rather than lumping them all together and then discussing mothers’ rights in an abstract manner.

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      Not so. says:

      I’m not sure what you mean by “certain” circumstances, but the reality is that there are almost no doctors at all in the US that provide any late-term abortions, let alone hypothetical ones before the day of birth… like, only 4. Furthermore, someone who gave a baby a smack on the head would never be given the death penalty; that is absurd and false. Furthermore, this is a false comparison; third-term fetuses are anesthetized, not brutally bashed.
      The rights of pregnant women are not abstract to women who are pregnant.

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        Pinkjasmine ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

        It is true that there are very few doctors in the US who do late-term abortions, and one of them was recently killed by a “pro-life” (note the irony here) activist. Also, abortions are only legal up till the point of viability – therefore no “day before birth” abortions like you describe. The ONLY time legal late-term abortions happen is when the baby will not survive or there is danger to the life of the woman. Of course, if you outlaw abortions or make access more difficult, you might see some more illegal late-term abortions, which is contrary to the pro-life movement’s goals, no?

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