Sunday, April 11, 2021

Three errors in "Thinking Critically About Abortion"

No book is perfect and there are at least three errors in Thinking Critically About Abortion. Well, maybe they aren't full-on errors, but they are things that I wish we had put in more careful ways.

First, when we argue that "all abortion should be legal," we do not mean to say that literally every possible abortion should be legal or that there should be no regulations at all about abortion. Rather, we meant to be saying that (US) law should stay roughly as it is and, at least, not keep some abortions legal (say those that involve pregnancies that result from rape, and when necessary to save the pregnant person's life, and others) and most other abortions illegal: they all should be legal. So I wish we had clarified that more.

Second, there's this paragraph in the Preface:

Furthermore, since the right to life is not the right to someone else’s body, fetuses might not have the right to the pregnant woman’s body—which she has the right to—and so she has the right to not allow the fetus use of her body. This further justifies abortion, at least until technology allows for the removal of fetuses to other wombs. Since morally permissible actions should be legal, abortions should be legal: it is an injustice to criminalize actions that are not wrong.

The bolded line is about what's called ectogenesis and our remarks about it are too cavalier. 

First, removing fetuses to other wombs will be an invasive medical procedure (unless we learn how to make teletransporters, like from Star Trek, and that's not gonna happen for a long time, if ever) and so at least forcing someone to endure such a procedure is, and would be, problematic. And there are challenges in thinking that anyone would be morally obligated to do that also. 

Perhaps more importantly, however, a proposal like "Look, if you want an abortion, here's a better solution: ectogenesis" doesn't engage the full reality of having a child, or someone, "out there" who is genetically related to you. It's like this: suppose someone stole your egg(s) or sperm(s) (although you don't know that they did this) and used it (or them) to create a person, who is now born and "out there." Question: how do you feel about this? Is this a big deal to you or not? To most people, this is going to be a big deal, and so a "No big deal, we'll just move the fetus to an artificial womb and go from there" would also be a big deal: it's a big deal to have a child even if you didn't gestate or birth that child (as men know). Now what should and shouldn't be allowed here, and what would or wouldn't be wrong here, I'm not going to comment on here. I merely want to observe that the issues are much more complex and challenging than what our quick comments suggest.

Third, since publication, we should have done more to emphasize the fact that people use the term "human being" in at least two ways: one use is that of a being or organism that's biologically human; the other use is that of a biologically human organism that is aware with thoughts and feelings and other psychological states, or a biologically human person. There are many blog posts and other materials that review this distinction. 

Reports of other errors are welcome! Thank you!

No comments:

Post a Comment