November 18, 2013

Fetal pain as a "pro-life strategy" — a successful pro-life strategy.

An article in The Atlantic by Olga Khazan. Excerpt:
On the basis of... uncertain science rests one of the most comprehensive rollbacks of abortion rights in decades. It’s also a sign of the major gains the pro-life movement has made by emphasizing the agony that fetuses might feel, rather than what the movement sees as their God-given right to be born....

“The life at conception issue gets to a spiritual question that's unknowable and unanswerable to a lot of people,” said Alesha Doan, chair of the women, gender, and sexuality studies department at the University of Kansas. But the fetal pain argument touches on the fact that, “we anesthetize for all surgeries, and it's considered cruel and unusual punishment not to do so.”
You don't have to believe in God to believe in pain, but where do you go with your morality when you put pain — not God — at the center of your thinking?

49 comments:

Gahrie said...

God-given right to be born....


One thing I have always wondered about when it comes to abortion....if you do not even have a right to exist...then how can any other rights exist or matter? (including the "right" to kill your unborn child)

Original Mike said...

"You don't have to believe in God to believe in pain, but where do you go with your morality when you put pain — not God — at the center of your thinking?"

One month, "abortion rights". Five month, "right to life".

rhhardin said...

I never get numbed for dental work. I prefer the pain to the numbness aftereffects.

Illuninati said...

I read recently that the Jihadis in Syria are training themselves how to make their decapitation videos look less brutal. Perhaps the abortionists can take some tips from them.

Saint Croix said...

Currently, nine states ban abortions at 20 weeks after fertilization, or 22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period. Nebraska was the first to do so, in 2010.

What the article doesn't say is that this point coincides with viability.

The record for viability is 21 weeks and 6 days.

So they are passing laws designed to pass federal review. This is why, by the way, the abortion clinics never sue over the 22 week limit. They will lose, and they know it.

According to Guttmacher, 900,000 abortions, more or less, have happened after this point (1.5% of 60 million). A very large number of possibly viable babies have been aborted. So the goal with this strategy is to pass laws that Roe v. Wade will allow.

Theoretically, abortion docs can still do late abortions under the "health" rubric, but they will risk a serious criminal prosecution every time they do so.

I suspect pro-lifers talk about pain because they don't want to suggest that viability is a good standard. But definitely these laws are designed to pass federal court review.

An even more effective litigation strategy is the requirement that abortion doctors have hospital privileges. Many abortion docs do not, so this will require abortion clinics to spend more money and clinics would have to shut down. This is where the fight is, actually, not the 20 week limitation.

Fritz said...

It's been interesting to watch the "no pain" movement growing in academic biology for the past 30 years. It's now to the point that you can't do anything in the lab that would cause a fish 'pain' without somehow anesthetizing it. This was done at the behest of PETA et al. In the field, you could run them through a grinder, slowly. I guess the rationale is that bad things happen to animals in the field naturally.

It would be amusing if this argument is now turned on abortion, and the same liberals who would do anything to prevent pain in a minnow argue that it is acceptable to cause it in fetus.

nick said...

A lot of vegans are on the spot with this one.

Roger Sweeny said...

It's a simple extension of the animal rights movement--and people's amazingly strong reaction to mistreatment of pets.

hombre said...

"The life at conception issue gets to a spiritual question that's unknowable and unanswerable to a lot of people,” said Alesha Doan, chair of the women, gender, and sexuality studies department at the University of Kansas."

Bollocks! It is not a spiritual question and never has been except in the imagination of the pro-aborts. Human embryology has acknowledged that life begins at conception since the science began.

If there are few dissenters at this time, and I don't believe there are, the dissents would be political, not scientific.

"Women, gender and sexuality studies department" my ass!

Original Mike said...

" Human embryology has acknowledged that life begins at conception since the science began."

Who is this "Human Embryology"? Will he sit for an interview?

n.n said...

Which still ignores the obvious. A human life is known to evolve from conception to death. So, when does a human life acquire an intrinsic or unalienable value, or does it always retain its commodity status (in whole and parts)? Our national charter states from "creation", which is objectively from conception, but may also be considered from "ensoulment" or perhaps origination of consciousness.

Anyway, baby steps. Liberty is only suitable and possible for women and men capable of self-moderating, responsible behavior. Hopefully, our civilization will mature before it reaches a dysfunctional convergence. If not, then we will go the way of the Dodo; but, sometime before that happens, we will be replaced and displaced by an alien population.

hombre said...

"Who is this "Human Embryology"? Will he sit for an interview?"

Oh. Did I capitalize embryology?

kentuckyliz said...

If you're a masochist, what happens with your pain-based morality? The right to be inflicted pain?

Soviet abortion would make the masochist happy. No anesthetic.

Original Mike said...

"Human embryology has acknowledged that life begins at conception since the science began."

Don't mean to be troublesome (really, I don't), but I have no idea what this means.

hombre said...

"Which still ignores the obvious. A human life is known to evolve from conception to death. So, when does a human life acquire an intrinsic or unalienable value ...?"

The statement that human life evolves from conception to death is factual and obvious. The question following, however, gives rise to a construct used to justify the taking of life.

BTW, while it is tempting for cynics to assume the focus on pain by prolifers is just a tactic, it actually emanates from the belief that what is aborted is a living human.

hombre said...

"Don't mean to be troublesome (really, I don't), but I have no idea what this means."

It means that in the science of human embryology it is a given that life begins at conception.

"given (n): 1. an assumed fact"

Sorry if it was unclear.

Original Mike said...

Yeah, that didn't help, hombre.

jimbino said...

Sounds like the pain consideration is an argument against male genital mutilation as well.

mccullough said...

I have the sudden urge to listen to Comfortably Numb

readering said...

The life-begins-at-conception and every-embryo-has-a-soul position bumps up against the statistic that as many as 70-75% of pregnancies may end in natural miscarriage, if one includes embryos failing to implant. Unless one believes in reincarnation for souls, limbo is likely a lot more crowded than heaven, hell or purgatory. That's why it's sensible for the abortion debate to move from ensoulment to pain.

jr565 said...

" Human embryology has acknowledged that life begins at conception since the science began."


When else would it begin? In the middle? It's life at the moment of conception. When it becomes protected life is a different question.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Actually, Limbo has been pretty much discredited. The current working assumption in the Catholic church is that pre-born children who die go to heaven.

Michael K said...

"chair of the women, gender, and sexuality studies department"

What the fuck is this ???

God what is college coming to ?

Saint Croix said...

Conception doesn't work for identical twins. They're conceived when the zygote splits.

Tobias said...

"You don't have to believe in God to believe in pain, but where do you go with your morality when you put pain — not God — at the center of your thinking?"

What about those who believe in morals, but not God? The pain connection is as a convincing point as any....

Saint Croix said...

And there's the basic problem of disconnecting life from death. The two should connect as a matter of logic. If you're dead, you're not alive. If you're alive, you're not dead.

Thus you can reason backwards from our death statutes as to the relevant biological criteria.

In any event, if we're worried about infanticide, better to ask the specific question. When do people die? It focuses our attention on the infanticide issue.

Plus the rule is unanimous in all 50 states.

Of course zygotes and embryos are alive, but does not constitute a homicide to kill one, under our death statutes. Still immoral to terminate one, I think, but you couldn't prosecute somebody for murder for doing so.

Seeing Red said...

IMHO, it's hard to argue for national health insurance because our more civilized economically-advanced countries have it and not have the abortion policies of those same advanced countries.

We're just following our betters (tongue-in-cheek).

hombre said...

"The life-begins-at-conception and every-embryo-has-a-soul position bumps up against the statistic that as many as 70-75% of pregnancies may end in natural miscarriage, if one includes embryos failing to implant"

You get that this is not relevant, right? Miscarriage is not the same as abortion and failing to implant equals "no conception."

hombre said...

Original Mike wrote: "Yeah, that didn't help, hombre."

Oh. I guess the problem isn't that my communication was unclear.

My condolences.

hombre said...

"When it becomes protected life is a different question."

Exactly. Althouse is clear on this point. Most of the pro-aborts, like the UK prof cited above, deny that it is a life or claim it is not a "person."

Bob Ellison said...

What is a soul?

This is a tired, old, freshman argument.

cassandra lite said...

We euthanize our pets who are far gone, but we wouldn't do it if we had to slit their throats or bellies. Pain is a huge moral issue; it's at the root of mercy killings.

Mountain Maven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mountain Maven said...

What the pro-life movement is doing is moving from the general argument, that fetuses are created in God's image, to the specific, that they feel pain and we have a responsibility to alleviate suffering. The argument helps breakthrough the abortionists' myth that fetuses are not alive. The pro-lifers have not replaced God with pain in their morality. They are illustrating their beliefs with an example that is more concrete than theological.

The Godfather said...

For purposes of secular law, I suggest that "soul" is not a helpful concept.

We can agree, however, that the unborn child/embryo/zygote is (a) human -- i.e., it's not a dog, cat. or fish --; (b) alive -- it's not a mineral or machine and it's not dead; and (c) it's genetically distinct from the mother. So it's a human life.

As jr565 puts it, the question is, when does it become protected life? That, of course, is a legal question. How should our laws address it? Many, perhaps most, people in this country answer that the life should be protected only after live birth. But a growing number of people seem to be moving toward the view that the human life should be protected earlier than that, when the unborn child has reached viability, or has developed to the point that she or he would feel pain in being killed (these are similar if not identical stages of development). There are plausible moral (not religious) arguments for this growing position, and our law is supposed to be based on our communal moral sense. Those who demand that abortion not be legally restricted during the period from viability to birth need to address the moral issue.

El Pollo Raylan said...

rhhardin said...
I never get numbed for dental work. I prefer the pain to the numbness after effects.

My wife had two kids without pain meds/epidural. She reasoned the same way. The recovery was faster.

Freeman Hunt said...

I never get numbed for dental work. I prefer the pain to the numbness aftereffects.

This is why all dental work is followed by carefully shutting one's mouth, minding the tongue, and going to sleep until the numbness wears off.

grackle said...

You don't have to believe in God to believe in pain, but where do you go with your morality when you put pain — not God — at the center of your thinking?

As someone who started out pro-choice and later switched to pro-life the 'pain' issue was never central to my change of mind.

I think the question fallaciously implies that morality can only be achieved through a belief in God. While it may be true that most religions provide a blueprint for morality, sometimes referred to as the 'Perennial Philosophy,' there are other paths to morality having nothing to do with a belief in God.

But to answer the question directly: Pain is only used to prove that life is present. That which is not alive does not suffer pain. The "center" of my thinking had more to do with the morality of frivolously ending innocent life; the suffering inflicted during abortion was certainly secondary, perhaps even tertiary.

MattL said...

I don't view the pain argument as the thing that's driving the moral judgment. It's an argument in favor of the abortion being murder.

We had a discussion here a few days ago about how some people see the fetus as a bunch of cells, not a person. It's more difficult to rationalize something that feels pain as simply a lump of cells rather than a person.

We all agree that murder is wrong, and there are many ways that killing is not murder, and killing a non-person is one of them. This is simply a tactic to argue that abortion kills a person.

SGT Ted said...

They are shifting the moral ground from God to humanity, based on what science knows and can actually keep a baby alive without devastating, crippling mal-development.

Which will confound the abortion uber alles gang, because it defangs the "inflicting your religion on me" faux "separation of church and state" based counter argument. It moves the criteria to oppose abortion into actual Constitutional territory and out of the Bible. Which is a smart move.

My personal criteria for compromise has been 12 weeks. 90 days is a long time to make the decision.

There are countries where the woman is effectively enslaved to her womb for the pregnancy, based on "life begins at conception" religious dogma written into law. They prosecute women for even the appearance of forcing a miscarriage. Do the anti-abortion folk really want their mothers, wives and daughters to live in that country? Because that is what you are preaching. And, it WILL happen in certain jurisdictions if abortion ever becomes illegal.

If liberal prosecutors will violate legal ethics to go after a George Zimmerman, there will be pro-life prosecutors that go after girls that force a miscarriage to avoid carrying the baby to term. I don't want to live in such a country.

The law is messy, as well as both arguments on this, because biology is messy and unpredictable, regardless of what we know about conception.

I do agree that docs should have hospital admitting privileges, as it is a good medical practice to protect women from defacto back alley abortion hack doctors that are incompetent and cannot work elsewhere. it also exposes the abortion uber alles crowd as caring more for abortion than actual women harmed by their opposition to accepted medical standards and practices.

Unknown said...

Don't understand the objection to "Human embryology," but:

www.embryo.chronolab.com/‎
www.med.uc.edu/embryology/‎
http://php.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php?title=Timeline_human_development

Thorley Winston said...

There are countries where the woman is effectively enslaved to her womb for the pregnancy, based on "life begins at conception" religious dogma written into law. They prosecute women for even the appearance of forcing a miscarriage. Do the anti-abortion folk really want their mothers, wives and daughters to live in that country? Because that is what you are preaching. And, it WILL happen in certain jurisdictions if abortion ever becomes illegal.

I call B.S. on this unless you can name a jurisdiction in the United States where you are saying that this would happen.

heyboom said...

My wife had two kids without pain meds/epidural. She reasoned the same way. The recovery was faster.

Chalk that up to the superhuman recuperating powers of your wife. The faster recovery had nothing to do with her not getting any pain management.

Jenny said...

"Chalk that up to the superhuman recuperating powers of your wife. The faster recovery had nothing to do with her not getting any pain management."

The immediate recovery has everything to do with not getting pain management. Five minutes after giving birth without meds, a lady can get up and do basically anything she feels like doing. Someone numb from an epidural does not have that option. Also there is no risk of an epidural headache when you have had no epidural.

sunsong said...

You have to be careful what you wish you for - it's been shown decades ago that plants feel pain :-) They also feel emotions like fear and distress when they are endangered or even when other plants are harmed or destroyed :-)

And beyond that, if you want to argue that you don't own your own body because you might use it immorally - (that the government owns your body) - you lose the argument that can own anything - anything at all - whether your money your possessions your children - whatever.

SGT Ted said...

I call B.S. on this unless you can name a jurisdiction in the United States where you are saying that this would happen.

I can think of some places I have been to in the South where it would happen, were abortion to be completely illegal. You don't get just how backwards some of the country can be. And, I actually like the South, for the most part.

And never underestimate the depths a politically minded prosecutor will sink to, if he thinks he can use it to get votes in the future. Think Mike Nifong and Duke La Cross, anti-abortion style.

n.n said...

You may argue that abortion is an enlightened choice, but that denies the humanity of the life you reject. It further argues for restricted liberty, as women and men demonstrate that they are incapable of self-moderating, responsible behavior, especially when it interferes with their pursuit of money, sex, and ego gratification. Such a shallow or immature individual cannot be trusted to respect other human lives without oversight or strict dictates. Women and men who choose abortion to absolve them of responsibility for a developing human life are equivalent in development to children who by their nature are either unwilling or incapable of accepting responsibility for their actions.

It's interesting to note that neither theist, nor atheists, nor presumptive immortals like the concept of evolution (i.e. chaotic change) or its implications. They seem afraid or perturbed by anything that will infringe on the enjoyment of their mortal existence. The faith of each hinges on a return on their investment. Even the faith of the first class waivers when their material well-being may suffer.

Anyway, a human life evolves from conception to death. You may argue about the different developmental stages, and how they affect conferring unalienable rights, but that is all. At some stage, which clearly defies a popular consensus, a human life is no longer regarded as property, interchangeable and disposable. Some people think that should occur at conception. Some people claim it is "viability", which precludes natural development. While others think that human lives are always a commodity with a value equal to the negotiable sum of its parts.

So, when (i.e. stage of development) does a human life acquire intrinsic value, whereby it enjoys unalienable rights, and the protections conferred to it in a civilized society?

heyboom said...

The immediate recovery has everything to do with not getting pain management. Five minutes after giving birth without meds, a lady can get up and do basically anything she feels like doing. Someone numb from an epidural does not have that option. Also there is no risk of an epidural headache when you have had no epidural.

Headaches only occur after a spinal anesthesia which is administered for C-sections. A normal epidural doesn't cause headaches unless the anesthesiologist inadvertently taps into the spinal fluid.

There are also many cases of epidural patients being able to get up and do what they want almost immediately after delivery. That is also chalked up to individual recovery powers. In any case, most patients can function again within a couple of hours anyway.

RichardS said...

This might be a cul-de-sac, as Original Mike suggests. If pain becomes the test, then abortion is legal for many weeks of gestation.

But if this strategy works, it might help make American law with regard to abortion more in line with the law of abortion in European lands.