Monday, March 10, 2008

Horton Hears A.... What?!

This is just too rich. Anti-abortion protestors decided the perfect venue would be the premiere of Horton Hears A Who - a children's flick. I don't know whether to laugh out loud or let out a big long sigh.

The reason the anti-choice crowd has latched on to this flick? It's theme is "A person's a person no matter how small". Well, duh! But guess what? That doesn't translate to "A person's a person even when it's just a collection of pluripotent cells". And once again - it doesn't matter if a blastocyst/embryo/fetus is a person! No person has the right to use another's body without their consent. Sheesh. How long are we going to talk past each other?

4 comments:

AlastrĂ­ona said...

There is a fallacy in your argument. The problem with your statement 'A person's a person even when it's just a collection of pluripotent cells' is a faulty statement. Pluripotent cells have the potential to create life, or a living being. How many other cells in the body can do that exact same thing? That's why there’s so much fear with pregnancy, because you a holding life inside of you and you are responsible for it. Besides all that, by the time a woman finds out she's pregnant, its not just pluripotent cells anymore. Those cells are becoming fully functioning organs, and thus becoming a person.
Secondly, your next statement 'it doesn't matter if a blastocyst/embryo/fetus is a person! No person has the right to use another's body without their consent.' is also posed incorrectly. First of all, it's not like a parasite where it sneaks up into your body and sucks up all your reserves and then leaves when it has what it needs. A blastocyst/embryo/fetus can only be formed when you have sex with someone, and most times when you have sex it is consensual. As I always say, 'If you're responsible enough to have sex willingly, you should also be willing to deal with the consequences responsibly.' So in a sense, if you allow your significant other to have sex with you, you are also given permission for the embryo to live in you because you've accepted the sperm into your body which creates a child. It's like adopting an animal. If you choose to take it into your house, that means that you are accepting responsibility for all the blessings and curses of that animal; you are responsible for taking care of it.

Artemis311 said...

Alastriona,

Thank you for your comment.

You are correct that pluripotent cells have the potential to create a person, and yes, when women find out they are pregnant, the embryo is usually more developed and hence "becoming a person". But becoming a person is not the same as being a person.

As for your second comment, you seem to be making the claim that you have consented to letting the fetus use your body by engaging in sexual activity. But, as the old slogan goes, "consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy". Yes, you are risking pregnancy when engaging in sexual activity, just like you are risking a car accident when you drive recklessly. But taking a risk is not the same as consent. By driving recklessly, you do not thereby consent to a car accident. Or, to use another example that is more analogous with the pregnancy case (since it is a natural process - it is what is supposed to happen when you engage in a certain activity), take overeating, or indulging in fatty, unhealthy foods. Lots of people do this knowing that gaining weight is what is supposed to happen when you eat a lot. Yet they don't consent to obesity. There is a difference between performing and act that results in certain consequences and consenting to those consequences. The two are not the same.

Even if consent to sex were consent to pregnancy, consent to use one's body can be withdrawn at any time. You can consent to sex and then, in the middle of the act, withdraw that consent. If you tell your partner "No! Stop!", thereby indicating that you have withdrawn consent. If your partner doesn't stop, that's a violation of your rights. So, even if having sex were consent to pregnancy, as soon as a woman withdraws that consent, she has a right to defend her bodily autonomy - and have an abortion.

AlastrĂ­ona said...

Thank you for replying so quickly.

I still have some more questions though, your comment in the first paragraph “Becoming a person is not the same as being a person.” I would like to know then, when does a person become a person? Is there a defining moment? For example, we'll look at a student studying to be a music teacher. This person has the talent, the ability, and the heart of a music teacher, however they are not quite there yet. So when does this person become a music teacher? Is it when they have completed all the requirements, but don't physically hold there diploma? Is it when they walk down the aisle and touch their diploma? Or is it after they've physically held the diploma? The same can be applied to a person. Are they a person at conception? Is it when they have a heart beat and brainwaves? Or is it after it has come out the birth canal?

Next, your statement about driving recklessly and over-eating are not examples about consent, but examples of recklessness. If you are driving carelessly, you may not be planning on getting in an accident, but is it not your responsibility and insurance money that have to take care of it? Or if a person eats unhealthy, fatty foods everyday and gets morbidly obese, they weren't planning on getting so fat, but did they not recklessly leave that door open for health problems? According to Black's Law dictionary, recklessness is "A state of mind in which a person does not care about the consequences of his or her actions." In civil court, a wrongdoer who recklessly causes harm can often be held to the same liability as a person who intentionally does so.
To apply this to abortion, if someone does something recklessly, (i.e. sex without regarding the consequences) reaps the consequence (i.e. unwanted pregnancy) in a civil case, they would be considered just as liable as the person who had sex because they wanted to be pregnant.

Artemis311 said...

Alastriona,

I'm sorry it took me so long to reply. I've been very busy.

With regard to your first question, as in the case of the musician, it is unclear just when something counts as a person, which is why I'd rather focus on arguments for abortion rights that assume, for the sake of the argument, that the fetus is a person. I personally believe that personhood does not begin until significant brain function does (beginning of the second trimester). But the vagueness that you point out in the question of when something becomes a person is certainly problematic, which is why I think we should avoid the question of personhood entirely.

As for your second point. You are right that a person who engages in unprotected sex, just like the person who drives crazy, is being reckless, and is responsible for the consequences. But that was the whole point of my drawing the analogy. Being responsible for something is not the same as consenting to it. This is perhaps clearer in the case of the person who overeats and becomes obese. They are responsible for their obesity, but they did not consent. They didn't agree to be overweight.

Even if consent to sex were consent to pregnancy, though, consent, in the case of someone using your body, can be withdrawn. If a woman consents to sex, and then in the middle of the act changes her mind (say, because it has become painful, or whatever) and makes it clear to her partner that she's changed her mind, then if he continues, he's violating her rights - he's raping her. Why? Because she's withdrawn her consent. So even if consent to sex were consent to a fetus' use of the woman's body, that consent can be withdrawn. And once consent is withdrawn, the fetus no longer has any right to use the woman's body.