Is there a consistency problem...

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Is there a consistency problem...

Postby Strix » Mon Mar 22, 2004 5:43 am

with being pro-choice and an AR advocate? I admit I'm becoming increasingly confused since reading a lot of posts by AR advocates around the 'net on various discussion boards...

*by no means am I assuming anything I've read is representative of the majority of AR advocates; I can only speak, though, from my own experience*

I've seen AR advocates opine the plight of all animals and the suffering and cruelty -- and in another separate discussion about abortion get defensive and go on about MY rights to do what I want with MY body; or become very neutral, not wanting to dictate what others should do...etc. Now, I'm not taking a position on abortion in this thread because I do not mean for this to be a thread on pro-choice vs. pro-life; I want to know if there is a consistency problem...Is it inconsistent to be pro-choice and pro-AR?

For example, vegans as well as some AR folks speak of the equality of suffering between animals and humans, making no distinction; as well as the equality of suffering between animals: So if we agree a bee "suffers,"(or any member of the animal kingdom) regardless of whether we know the extent, then how can it be okay to assume that a fetus does not "suffer"? And if it does suffer, how can it be "vegan" and how can it be consistent with AR philosophy? If it does not suffer, how is that concluded indisputably? How do we "know"? How can we be sure? And if we're not sure, then doesn't that mean we err on the side of caution and assume it does?
And for those who don't want to "tell a woman what to do," with their bodies, it's their "choice" etc.; I find it interesting there is no problem telling people what is ethical/moral, regarding what people choose to eat/put in their bodies and no problem making a judgment upon them of ethicality and morality...

I don't know...I just feel an inconsistency here for sake of convenience.
I could be wrong; yet cannot find the reasoning.

Have I been clear in stating what I'm after here?
Anyone else find this puzzling? Any opinions?
"The hand that signed the paper felled a city;
Five sovereign fingers taxed the breath,
Doubled the globe of dead and halved a country;
These five kings did a king to death."
-Dylan Thomas
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Postby JP » Mon Mar 22, 2004 7:18 am

personally i'd say no, not at all.

When i've been traveling around and met other AR vegans i've met people from both sides, but the anti-abortionists have been in clear minority among vegans and pretty much all i've ever met have been from the midwest of US, or Italy etc where the cultural set up has been such that the catholic church way of thinking has strong influence. In europe it's very rare indeed.

I guess this issue had to come up sooner or later :) Folks, i can understand this can get very heated - i've seen plenty of internet discussions about the subject to think so, so please keep it nice!
Last edited by JP on Mon Mar 22, 2004 7:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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NO consistency problem in being pro-choice and pro-AR

Postby Daniel » Mon Mar 22, 2004 7:37 am

I do not believe there is any consistency problem with being "pro-choice" (not the best term) and for animal rights. Actually, I'd say it is more inconsistent to be anti-abortion and for animal rights.

When a woman talks about HER right, or HER wants, or HER body she is completely justified. The fetus is subject to her body, wants, and rights. This is a special case that is not comparable to the animal rights issue. (In fact, it maybe the only time where one form of animal life is always justifiably subject to another.)

The conflict between humans and non-humans is a social construct. Talking about someone's right to "choose" to eat other animals is not the same as a woman's right to "choose" to have an abortion. There is no reason for nonhumans to be subject to humans. Like I said in another thread, we are not their "stewards," "parents," "owners," "rulers," or "protectors." The exploitation of another animal for food is a violation of that animal's rights as a sentient being. We can speak of equality between humans and bees, because bees do not require anything from us.

A fetus cannot be anything but subject to the woman whose body it resides within. Any conflict between the woman and the fetus is up to the woman to settle. The woman's sentience supersedes that of the fetus, even during late term pregnancy. This is the only way it can be done without unjustly interfering in a woman's right to her own body. This makes it impossible to speak of equality between a fetus and the woman who is pregnant with said fetus.

We say that nonhuman animals should be left alone and that humans should not exploit them. The same respect should be paid to pregnant women. They are the only ones in a suitable situation to decide whether to allow a pregnancy to come to term or not. Any outside interference will end up exploiting those who are pregnant as a means to some arbitrary moral or political end. If we can tell a woman she has to go to term, what is to stop us from telling her what to eat, how to lay while she sleeps, what music she can listen to while pregnant, or interfere in the millions of other activities that may have an affect on fetal development?

Gary Francione has written a lot on this topic. You might want to check out the following:

Animal Rights Commentaries: Abortion and Animal Rights
http://www.animal-law.org/commentaries/ap18.htm
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Postby hannibal » Mon Mar 22, 2004 7:52 am

while i agree there are some serious moral issues raised by the question of whether foetuses (human and nonhuman) suffer, i don't think there is any inconsistency between being pro animal rights and pro choice.

foetuses (esp early term ones) are totally dependent beings who cannot survive on their own, whereas normal animals can survive independently and this seems like a pretty significant difference to me.

imagine there was some large parasitic worm being that was only able to survive by living in your stomach (this being will cause you considerable inconvenience by sucking up all your resources and making you sick, and can perhaps dimly perceive pain). don't you think you ought to be given a choice as to whether this being can continue to live in your stomach, that you ought to be given some say over whether this being lives or dies that you would not be entitled to if it was able to live independently of you?

just my thoughts :)

regards,

hannibal

ps. for a more considered view check out the animal law site:

http://www.animal-law.org/commentaries/ap18.htm

on preview, what daniel said :)
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Postby Rochellita » Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:09 am

I think Daniel ands Hannibal have nicely summed up my viewpoint. From my point of view, I don't believe that my pro-choice and animal rights ethics are inconsistent.

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Postby Mary » Mon Mar 22, 2004 12:03 pm

I am really torn and confused on this one. Until I was pregnant myself I was utterly anti-abortion. (There, I have admitted it.) I accepted that if a woman was raped she should be able to get an abortion, but even then I thought she would have to get it sorted before the child had a central nervous system, etc.

Now, Seamus was a loved, wanted child, and I am delighted that I have him. However the reality of pregnancy shocked me - I was sick several times a day for the first five months, so much so that the stomach acid dissolved the enamel on some of my teeth, and from three to five months I started to faint regularly. In the library, on the high street, getting off a bus. It got so I was afraid to move, because I would either a) puke or b) pass out. (Often a followed by b.) Then labour itself is not something I would ever expect to be imposed on somebody who didn't want to go through it. No two ways about it - it's bloody awful. How my Granny had eleven kids I don't know. How a man who loves his wife can expect her to go through it more than once I don't know.

On the other hand, I still believe that when the fetus has a central nervous system it is wrong to cause that being pain. Having been pregnant, and understanding the process far better than when I just theorised about it, I can say that I still think abortion is used far too often (one in three pregnancies in the West end in an abortion) and it seems to me that this is wrong, and inconsistent with my principles. However, I also understand more completely now that the rights of the mother should also come into it, and that it is up to the mother to decide.

When I was pregnant various people tried to force me into an abortion, and I vigourously resisted the pressure. I imagine that a lot of women have an abortion and spend the rest of their lives regretting it. However, a lot of women end up having kids that they don't know how to love and protect - and this is also wrong. There are too many people in the world, and it is cruel to bring in unloved children. I think it is extremely important that we balance the rights of both the unborn child and the mother against each other, and take each case on its individual merits. We also need more sex education for both genders, so that as few people as possible find themselves in a position where they have to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

In other words, I am still at heart an anti-abortionist, but I really do understand now why women do it, and support their right, in certain circumstances to do so. And I don't feel that I have the right to dictate what those circumstances are, since I am not in that woman's shoes. If I was raped, and didn't realise I was pregnant for the first few months, I can honestly say that I wouldn't have an abortion. However I would never dream of condemning somebody who did have an abortion in those circumstances. The whole issue is fraught with difficulty, and to be honest I haven't even made up my mind yet. I just know that I am rather more open minded than I used to be.
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Postby Strix » Mon Mar 22, 2004 8:22 pm

thanks for the replies, everyone!

And especially to Mary. Thank you for your candor :) I find your response to carry more weight as you've experienced pregnancy and birth :)
I agree about grandmas, lol. Amazing how then -- heck, even now! -- women were referred to as "the weaker sex." :shock:

Like I stated I didn't want this to be a pro-choice vs. pro-life debate, but I guess that would come into it.
Rarely is anything black and white/right or wrong, and I've come to a place where my position doesn't have to be 100% "right" all the time, you know? So I can respect someone saying "I'm pro-choice, but I realize there is a gray area" or "I realize there is an inconsistency" and can evalutate and make the best stance based on their thinking process and or morals, etc. Admitting an inconsistency or a dilemma doesn't make one "wrong."
I think many times we're so afraid we'll be conceding something in our positions or in our agendas/beliefs, etc., if we admit a gray area and lose ground that we don't admit an inconsistency... There's nothing wrong with gray areas. Anyway, never mind. Heh.
"The hand that signed the paper felled a city;
Five sovereign fingers taxed the breath,
Doubled the globe of dead and halved a country;
These five kings did a king to death."
-Dylan Thomas
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Postby Rochellita » Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:08 pm

I grew up in a country where abortion was highly illegal. We were bombarded with pretty nasty pro-life videos of late-term abortions and aborted foetuses pickled in jars. This paired with absolutely no sex education in quite a puritanical culture made for quite a lethal cocktail. When I had my first and ever only pregnancy scare at 16 I was smart enough to use safe sex but hey, things can go wrong. I went through 2 months of hell thinking I was pregnant, terrified to see a doctor. Via various contacts I learned about herbal abortions, I would have done anything if I had found out I was pregnant, people engage in dangerous practices when they are desperate. The laws changed along with the abolition of apartheid and the abolition of the death penalty- women in South Africa now have the right to abortions. In a culture where rape is endemic and has always been, it may be the only way for many women.

But I have that grey area as well- late term abortions just don't seem right. Am I a hypocrite to say that, should it be all or nothing? It's such a difficult issue. I can just talk from my own experience of having lived in fear in a state that had control of my reproductive rights.

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Postby Malcolms Billy » Mon Mar 22, 2004 10:17 pm

I have to say I'm impressed with the depth of replies people give. Thanks for sharing all your experiences, is much appreciated.
Part of my strong pro-choice stance probably comes from experiences that I had with a friend, who was an unwanted child - and her parents never let her forget that. She went through a helluva lot (don't know how she is now, as we lost touch). Having heard more people's experiences as unwanted children, I really believe that a child should be brought into this world because their mother wants them. Being told time and again, as a child, that they'd never have been born if their mother could have had an abortion etc etc must be one of the most hurtful things for a child to hear, and undoubtedly is of great influence in most of their lives.

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Postby Kaz » Tue Mar 23, 2004 8:20 pm

I would prefer that every child gets age-appropriate sex education and has parents with whom they can freely discuss sexual matters.

I would prefer that contraception was 100% safe.

I would prefer that we were all so mentally and emotionally healthy that there was no such thing as sexual predators.

I would prefer that no-one had to suffer medical conditions that would make pregnancy and childbirth dangerous.

I would prefer that accidents never happened.

Even if all those things were still the case, women would still sometimes find themselves pregnant and realising that they do not want to go through with the pregnancy because they're not emotionally ready, or because they feel that the quality of life of their unborn child would be so bad that it would be sheer cruelty to continue. This last issue, that of whether or not abortion because of medical condition, is rightly the subject of hot dispute, and I can see all the points of view there and am not certain where I stand on it. What I do know is that I believe that pregnancy and childbirth should be entered into and experienced with joy (OK, sickness and fainting and edema, but you get what I mean), should be a chosen thing - it should not be something to be endured and resented. I cannot imagine carrying an unwanted child. It would tear me apart emotionally, and how it would affect the poor child I shudder to think. And it's not something you can walk away from. It goes on and on for 9 months, then there's the labour and childbirth, and then - even when a child is given up - it continues for a lifetime. I have known people who've had abortions. One did so at the age of 14, having been abused by an adult working in the children's home she lived in; one did so at the age of 40-something because her much-wanted child had a complex of conditions which would have meant that she would not survive infancy and would be in constant pain; another realised that although she wanted children in the future, her unplanned pregancy was also unwanted at that time. I could see that other women in the same situation might have made very different choices. But I could not, in my heart of hearts, believe that the decision to have an abortion was the wrong decision for any of those women, or that my support for them was contrary to my principles. To force a woman to endure a pregnancy she does not want or cannot cope with is utterly inhumane.
"An unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates
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Postby Mary » Wed Mar 24, 2004 11:40 am

Some thoughts came up from another thread.

One thing about the pro-life/pro-choice debate is that pro-lifers are often anti-sex for any other reason than to procreate. Those of us who have been following the straight edge thread may have noticed that some hardliners (I'm not talking about all straightedge here, so don't jump down my throat!) are, as Daniel put it, not just anti-feminist, but mysoginistic. Any group that is anti-sex unless the sex is for procreation purposes (the Catholic church, for example, or various other religious groups) are basically condemning a woman to a life of pregnancy and child birth. Having been through it once I can see how the cycle of motherhood could be used to grind women down and keep them under the thumb. It is fundamentally a form of violence to demand that all women go through childbirth - or tell them that their only other choice is to never express their own sexuality.

Another point that comes to mind is the fact that we neuter "domestic" animals, and advocate that their numbers be reduced. If we are prepared to admit that there are too many cats and dogs in the world, then why can we not admit that there are likewise far too many people?

I am not advocating the forcible sterilisation of individuals - that would be a form of violence in and of itself. But does anyone see any way out of the way in which we have colonised the planet and encroached on the territories of every other species? We need to "downsize." How the hell do we do it, without behaving like nazis? Because while we refuse to do so we are still being nazis, sweeping away all the animals who inhabit what we fondly believe to be "our space." Is there anyway we can lighten our load on the planet while not behaving fascistically to human or non human animals? Or are we all doomed? :shock:

Let me know what you think.
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Re: NO consistency problem in being pro-choice and pro-AR

Postby Myrddin » Wed Mar 24, 2004 1:41 pm

Daniel wrote:Gary Francione has written a lot on this topic. You might want to check out the following:
Animal Rights Commentaries: Abortion and Animal Rights
http://www.animal-law.org/commentaries/ap18.htm


Gary doesn't call himself "Pro-choice" nor does he call himself "Pro-Life" - so its a bit misleading to put a link to a Gary Francione article with your "Pro-choice" opinion. Like all good philosophers Gary doesn't make broad sweeping, blanket judgements - he looks at each case seperately. If anything Gary has said that the issue of abortion is problematic. The fact is you can't determine the rightness or wrongness of any act until you look at the particulars. For this reason I am neither "Pro-choice" or Pro-Life" - I avoid such labels. Reason is my label.

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Postby Myrddin » Wed Mar 24, 2004 1:48 pm

Mary wrote:I am not advocating the forcible sterilisation of individuals - that would be a form of violence in and of itself. But does anyone see any way out of the way in which we have colonised the planet and encroached on the territories of every other species? We need to "downsize." How the hell do we do it, without behaving like nazis? Because while we refuse to do so we are still being nazis, sweeping away all the animals who inhabit what we fondly believe to be "our space." Is there anyway we can lighten our load on the planet while not behaving fascistically to human or non human animals? Or are we all doomed? :shock:
Let me know what you think.


Eradicate third world debt
Provide Education
Access to contraceptives
Free Health Care
Rob the rich and give it to the poor :twisted:

What it comes down to is that: Population growth is a symptom of poverty

Europe has steady decreased it pop growth to the point that growth is negative: due to increased standard of living, education, access to contraceptives, access to free health care and lower infant mortality rates.
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Postby prenna » Wed Mar 24, 2004 1:55 pm

Mary wrote:Another point that comes to mind is the fact that we neuter "domestic" animals, and advocate that their numbers be reduced. If we are prepared to admit that there are too many cats and dogs in the world, then why can we not admit that there are likewise far too many people?

I am not advocating the forcible sterilisation of individuals - that would be a form of violence in and of itself. But does anyone see any way out of the way in which we have colonised the planet and encroached on the territories of every other species? We need to "downsize." How the hell do we do it, without behaving like nazis? Because while we refuse to do so we are still being nazis, sweeping away all the animals who inhabit what we fondly believe to be "our space." Is there anyway we can lighten our load on the planet while not behaving fascistically to human or non human animals? Or are we all doomed? :shock:

Let me know what you think.


Now I'm not going to post links to the Only One Solution website and Declaration of War as they are just a little extreme. I do however agree that human over-population is something that needs to be addressed. The best thing I have found on this issue is the Voluntary Human Extinction movement. The promote the idea that responsible members of human society should make the decision to not breed for the sake of the planet. It is not about forcing people to stop breeding or anything it is purely about making a personal choice not to. There are a great many reasons to choose not to breed and the VHEMT site puts the case for many of those reasons.
I personaly think that this approach alongside educating the public about the impact of their consumerist lifestyles are the only hope the planet has left.
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Postby Mary » Wed Mar 24, 2004 2:08 pm

Myrddin wrote:Eradicate third world debt
Provide Education
Access to contraceptives
Free Health Care
Rob the rich and give it to the poor :twisted:

What it comes down to is that: Population growth is a symptom of poverty

Europe has steady decreased it pop growth to the point that growth is negative: due to increased standard of living, education, access to contraceptives, access to free health care and lower infant mortality rates.


Good points, but what about the fact that as standards of living improve so does the amount of land and resources we consume? Europe has a negative growth in terms of population, but as a group of people we spread all over the place. We consume more land and resources than the many more people in the developing world.

I like your byline though - "morality dictates I live vegan!" 8) If we could only veganise the human population, we might be in with a chance!
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