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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Mainstreaming a Man's Right to Choose (an Abortion?)

The New York Times reports on the status of a man's right to choose (to be a father or not) here.  I tried to argue for this right in one form or other here.  As should be obvious from my take on the matter, I come from a pro-abortion perspective--a position more radical than the pro-choice perspective: under my preferred regime there would be more, rather than fewer, safe and accessible abortions.  It may be true that the "father's rights" movement too often allies itself with the pro-lifers.  But there is a principled "father's rights" position that has no pro-life agenda.

UPDATE:  Matt Lister, in the comments, helpfully clarifies aspects of my position that do not come across in the somewhat glib summary in the initial post.  Of course, the point of my post was only to emphasize that the "father's rights" movement needn't be pigeon-holed as a pro-life front group--and that a fair reading of certain takes on the "father's rights" movement is perfectly consistent with a pro-choice (or pro-abortion) position.

Posted by Ethan Leib on November 6, 2005 at 05:15 PM in Article Spotlight | Permalink


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It is nice meeting my former TA Matt here. Although his last comment cuts both ways really. Whose burden should it be to show that a fetus is/is not a moral person? Those who wish to change the status quo? Or those who wish to preserve it? If it were the former, then one would guess that the Supreme Court in 1973 should at least have the decency to explain to us why a fetus is *not* a moral being.

Or we could carry our argument a little further. What about a feeble minded person? I'm sure Justice Holmes would tell us how she really is less than a moral/rational agent. But should this be used to justify us treating her as an animal? Unless Matt wish to go as far as Peter Singer, the answer is unclear.

Maybe we should weigh the expected cost on both side. Which is more valuable? The killing of a moral being multiplied by the chance that a fetus is a moral being or the value of a woman's liberty to abort whatever's in her body?? Does prudence really weigh in Ethan's favor??

Posted by: James Chang | Jun 27, 2006 1:48:33 PM

Your position might be the right one if an unborn baby were a moral person (even that isn't totally clear, but it might be right). But, there's no good reason to think that's the case. Given that an unborn baby isn't a moral person, and a pregnant woman is, it's not hard to choose between the two.

Posted by: Matt | Nov 7, 2005 11:44:24 PM

It's simple - he's sick because abortion is the grisly killing of a human being and "given the world we live in" abortion is definately NOT the "morally preferable choice for a woman to make". Read this for instance:The Haskell Guide Book on How to Kill A Defenseless Baby. If it is, a morally preferable choice, then why stop at birth, why not go on killing all the other unwanted unloved human beings? The plain fact is that the modern right to abortion doesn't stand on any morally or intellectually higher ground than the right to engage in sex at whatever cost. That's the morality of the pro-abortion position and it's really not something to be proud of.

Posted by: JustAmazed | Nov 7, 2005 11:34:28 PM

I assume you're saying that Ethan is "sick" becuase of his "pro-abortion" position, not becuase he linked to the NY times or something like that. I think that his statement above is perhaps slightly less clear than it might be, but otherwise represents a very sensible position. (I say that, of course, becuase I assume it's pretty close to _my_ position.) So, while he says, "Under my preferred regime there would be more, rather than fewer, safe and accessible abortions" this sounds odd. It _would_ be odd, if this was a statement about ideal conditions. There are, for example, _lots_ more abortions done in Russia than in the US (and even more were done in the Soviet Union.) I don't think that anyone considers this a point in favor of Russia. But, that's not becuase of the number of abortions per se, but rather becuase a really large percentage of these are the result of people having bad access to birth control and a tradition of male refusal to use birth control. I suspect that Ethan agrees that an _ideal_ world would be one where there were very, very few abortions- perhaps only for seriously deformed children- becuase everyone else who didn't want to become pregnant didn't, since they all used reliable birth control and had control over their sexual choices, and where even the abortions for birth defects were rare, since we had good pre-natal testing. My guess is that his position is that, given the wold we live in, it's often the case that having an abortion is the morally preferable choice for a woman to make, and therefore things would be better if some women who don't have abortions now did do so. That's certainly what I'd hold. I assume that Ethan agrees that if the option were between a woman taking steps so as to not be pregnant or having an abortion afterwards he'd prefer the former since it's cheaper, less risky, and arguably has other benefits as well. I say that since only a fool would think otherwise, and Ethan's no fool, so he must not think otherwise.

Posted by: Matt | Nov 7, 2005 7:39:46 AM

There's a debate going on around some philosophy bloggers + one non-philsopher not-really-blogger (me) right now about who pays (on the assumption that the man can't actually impose, i.e. by injunction, the abortion). The most recent post is mine, and links to the rest.

Posted by: Paul Gowder | Nov 7, 2005 1:16:30 AM

You are a sick man.

Posted by: JustAmazed | Nov 6, 2005 5:52:13 PM

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