Linda Thompson on the abortion debate

   From : Linda Thompson
     To : Jim Vargas
Subject : Re: Abortion Debate

[cross-posted from CIVLIB Echo]

In a message to John Hrusovszky <07-28-92 12:53> Jim Vargas wrote:

JV>While I am a liberal, you are clearly a religious fundamentalist and,
JV>while it may surprise you, there are a few things that we do agree on,
JV>one of which is the nature of the fetus (or whatever name you choose to
JV>give to it).  I simply cannot countenance the logical absurdity that the
JV>fetus undergoes some sort of magical metamorphosis, from "a parasite" to
JV>"a human," at the instant of birth.  Such arguments (i.e. the fetus is a
JV>parasite until birth), examined for logical implications, are, to me,
JV>simply asinine.  On the one hand, they argue some sort of rational,
JV>empirical, physiological precision and then, at the instant of birth,
JV>rely upon some sort of mystical transformation.

Since I was the one who mentioned the parasite issue, it's incumbant upon me
to clear up what is clearly a misunderstanding on your part.

There is not, to my knowledge, any argument that says the fetus is a parasite
until birth and then becomes human.

A fetus is human throughout its developmental stages.  It is a parasite, from
a scientific standpoint, until it is born.

The only significance of the parasitic issue is whether or not the fetus is
capable of sustaining independent existence apart from the host (mother).

If the host has an absolute right to the integrity of her body, then she may
choose to keep or oust the fetus.  The viability (i.e., non-parasitic
characteristics) of the fetus become relevant at that point.  It simply cannot
and will not survive if it is incapable of independent existence at the time
it is ousted (or born, for that matter).

It is tedius to constantly have to deal with a mindset that views the word
"parasite" as some sort of derogatory term, when it is in fact scientifically
descriptive and provides a basis for understanding the built-in traps inherent
in discussing the "when does life begin" arguments.  A human fetus ceases to
become a parasite when it can sustain an independent existence outside the

The humanness of the fetus does not depend upon its status as a parasite or as
a viable independent organism.  Parasite is a descriptive term of a
developmental phase of humans.

Conceding that life begins at conception does not alter the developmental
phases of the fetus.

However, what all this boils down to is that the arguments that whether or not
the fetus is or isn't human for purposes of deciding whether or not abortion
should or shouldn't be legal, are nothing but strawmen.

The issue is not and never has been whether or not the fetus is "human."  I
doubt few people would assert that the fetus does not possess human genetic
material, as distinguished, say, from turtle genetic material, and that in
ordinary circumstances, would probably develop into a fully functioning human

The issue is and has been that the mother has an absolute right to control
over her body.  Even if the fetus were a fully born, living human being, it
would have no right to claim any portion of her body for any purpose.  Thus,
acknowledging that the fetus is human does not advance the argument that
"because the fetus is human, the mother can't have an abortion."

The relevance of the parasitic status of the fetus comes into play in
determining whether or not the fetus may or may not be at a viable stage in
its development at the time of an abortion, in which case life support
measures could be undertaken to sustain its existence.

The arguments that abortion is control over a woman's body end, for me, at the
point that the fetus is capable of independent existence, at which point, the
fetus should be entitled to the same rights to be supported by life support as
any other human (outside the woman's body).

However, this runs into a real problem in the third trimester abortion area.
Most 3rd trimester abortions are done to save the life of the mother or
because the fetus is seriously deformed or suffering from a disease that will
cause it to have a brief, but miserable life.  There is no state that allows
3rd trimester abortions merely for "convenience."

Most third trimester abortions, as now performed, guarantee that the fetus
will not be live-born and therefore has no possibility of sustaining
independent existence.  3rd trimester abortions performed with saline result
in spontaneous abortion by causing the uterus to expel the fetus; however, it
results in salt poisoning to the fetus which means that even if born live, it
will die.  3rd trimester abortions through vaginal extraction require the
physical dismemberment of the fetus, again insuring that it will not be born
live.  Often, the fetus is given an injection of digoxin which will stop its
heart to insure that it is not born live.  However, the mother cannot legally
be forced to undergo a caesarean section, or pitocin induced labor, both of
which are medical procedures that require the mother's consent, which is the
only way the fetus could be extracted without dying.

However, even when abortion was illegal in all 50 states, abortions in the 3rd
trimester to save the life of the mother or because the fetus had serious
defects, were legal.

So, in that sense, our society has always acknowledged that death of a viable
fetus under such circumstances is legal and has left the area of whether it is
moral or not to the hearts and minds of the women and physicians who must make
the decision.

This is not to say that a fetus that is not viable is not human and has no
worth, but that there is a clear conflict of rights between the rights of the
mother to her body and the right of the fetus to sustained existence at the
mother's expense.  The fetus' right to existence is not terminated by the
mother removing it from her body, but from a practical standpoint, if it is
not viable, it will not be able to exist.  It actually only becomes a conflict
of rights when active steps are taken to insure that the fetus will not
survive outside the woman's body, as in third trimester abortions, but for
which, at the moment in medical technology, there is no alternative.

In cases where this decision has been made because the fetus has a terminal
illness or serious defect, then few people would disagree that the parents are
in the best position to make the decision, since they will have to live with
the agony of watching their child suffer if born alive.

In cases where it is to save the life of the mother and the fetus was, up
until the threat to the mother, apparently healthy, it may not be possible to
save the life of the fetus, or the condition of the mother may be such
(toxemia, placenta abruptio, placenta previa, for example) that it not only
will kill her if there isn't an emergency extraction of the fetus, but due to
blood loss or oxygen deprivation, the fetus is by that point already seriously
permanently impaired.  If nature were allowed to take its course, the fetus
would die and the mother might, too, so that medical intervention in those
cases is actually only improving the mother's chances of living and should not
be undertaken to save the fetus unless the parents request it.

And in each of these third-trimester situations, the alternative would be to
force the woman to undergo a caesarean section, a life-threatening procedure
to her, in order to bear a seriously deformed or retarded child, or a child
with a terminal illness.  Is this better?

Am I saying that there may be circumstances where parents wouldn't want a
child to live?  Yes.  Can you deny this is fact?  No.  And is there anyone so
totally blind and callous to the human issues involved that they cannot accept
that the parents are the persons best suited to making such decisions?

And does that lead to allowing parents to "kill their 2 (3,4, etc.) year old
children?" No. This has been the practice for centuries of mankind, and we
simply aren't that stupid.
   Date : 02-Aug-92 09:43
   From : Linda Thompson
     To : Paul Davis

[cross-posted from CIVLIB Echo]

[originally posted on 1:231/110]

In a message to Tim Hutzler <07-28-92 17:34> Paul Davis wrote:

PD>TH>You are saying that a years inconvenience is more important than the
PD>TH>depravation of a lifetime of experiences for another. What an utterly
PD>TH>selfish position to argue from.

PD>She never answered my same question, all she can do is

(1)  That question was not addressed to me, it was addressed to Lesley, and
yes, I did answer it anyway.  It is not a "years' inconvenience."  It is the
woman's body and she may control it, regardless of whether it is one
nanosecond of "inconvenience" or a lifetime of misery.  She does not have to
submit to it according to the dictates of her own conscience.  Period.

(2)  I never called attention to your moronic posts.  In fact, I totally
ignored the "murderer" post.  Others posted to you and then I responded to
your post in which you claimed to apologize, right before the one where you
told me my ass was connected to my mouth or something like that.

PD>TH>Who's talking about forcing women to become pregnant?

No one.  We're talking about post-conception alternatives.  Trying to relabel
the issue won't make it go away.

If pre-conception birth control, counselling and so on fail, the woman becomes
pregnant, there is still the option of ending the pregnancy and has been for
the history of mankind.

If you make it a crime to have an abortion, then you have given the force of
law to make the woman continue the pregnancy and bear a child.

And, by the way, are you planning to run a foster home for all those HIV
babies that don't get aborted while the mothers are in jail?

PD>She is anti-child, for her actions, she can fuck as many times as she
PD>wants with whoever she wants and _if_ she gets pregnant, it isn't her
PD>fault it is ours, remember

Believing in a woman's right to abortion does not equate to "anti-child" and
in fact, more often equates to "pro-child" -- the children that woman already
has that she must care for, or the mother's knowledge that whatever life that
potential child might have would not be preferable to no life, or the mother's
own need to be able to work to continue to support the children she already
has, or the mother's fear of having another retarded baby, when she already
has one that has cost her $189,000 in the first year of its life -- a child
that will never call her mama, never sit up, never look out from behind its
eyes, the mother's knowledge that she is dying and will never be able to raise
her child, the mother's knowledge that she will pass AIDS to her child and
watch it suffer -- the faces of women who have had abortions are all
different, as are their reasons.  I know women who have had abortions for each
of the reasons above and more.  And you, nor the government, was in a better
position to decide than any of them.

PD> she takes absolutely NO responsability

Abortion is, in fact, taking responsibility for her actions, and may be the
most difficult, painful, and hard to bear of the alternatives available. You
are a callous, know-it-all, sonovabitch who hasn't a clue what women go
through in making their decisions, nor the reason for those decisions, and
what is more, you're a hypocrite, because you claim to oppose abortion because
of your concern for "life" in the same breath as you condemn life for people
who are "immoral."  You're sick, really sick.  Someone before suggested that
you need professional help and I sincerely second that suggestion.

PD>and _if_ she gets pregnant, it isn't her fault it is ours,

Nowhere in any position has it been suggested that it is your fault if someone
gets pregnant (presuming you didn't have sex with her).  Nor are you asked to
participate in any way whatsoever in the woman's decision to have the baby or
an abortion.  In fact, you've been asked countless times to butt out.  It is
you who presume to make decisions for others and thrust yourself into their

PD>that, we forced her into her actions... (I am not saying she does any of
PD>the previous, this is a note brought to you by asshole laywers who are
PD>sue happy)

Clearly your comment here, is directed at me.  As I pointed out, I had no
thought to sue you, rather, I find you a pathetic, laughable creature.  You
apparently consider that position worse, since you prefer to think I
threatened to sue you.  It must be reassuring to you to think that someone
would take you seriously enough to consider suing you.  I, however, do not.

PD>TH>OK, you fathers paying child support out there. Linda says you don't
PD>TH>have to support your children anymore. After all - if parents have a
PD>TH>right to withhold life support, they should certainly have the right
PD>TH>to withhold any lesser support. 

PD>What, Tim Tim Tim, Men don't have rights, your talking to Linda, we are
PD>just walking dicks to her, to be used at her convienance and then
PD>'tossed' aside, after we pay for her life, oh I mean the childs should
PD>she deceide to let it live... We have no right to choice, no right to
PD>ourselves and our 50% of the child, and no right to even talk about
PD>abortion, we are _men_, ya know.

When a child is born, the government has determined that both parents owe an
obligation of support.  I didn't make this determination and merely because I
state the facts of the law in this country, should not make me a target for
your venomous bouts with depression.

You are free to talk about abortion, to attempt to influence changes in the
thinking of others and so on.  What I object to is your efforts to impose your
thinking on everyone through laws that make them comply whether they agree
with you or not.  The law as it stands now on abortion allows both sides of
the issue to make the choice that is right for them and compels no one.

And, again, if you have a complaint with a woman being able to decide whether
or not she will contain another person inside her against her will and want a
"say" in it, then take it up with design engineering.  The only way you could
"control" that decision would be to physically imprison the woman and tie her
up (not that you wouldn't).  Otherwise, until and unless you can become
pregnant yourself, it is never a decision you have any say in because it isn't
your body.

PD>(In case anyones wondering, I am in a sarcastic mood and since Linda
PD>doesn't give a rats ass about me,

You mean if I promised to care about you, you'd quit being an insensitive,
overbearing, knuckle-dragging, slopeheaded neanderthal? I doubt it, but it's
worth a shot. Okay, Paul, I care about you.

   Date : 02-Aug-92 09:44
   From : Linda Thompson
     To : Charles Mielke

[cross-posted from CIVLIB Echo]

[originally posted on 1:231/110]

In a message to John Hrusovszky <07-29-92 15:32> Charles Mielke wrote:

CM>    If it wasn't human, there would be no issue, and the pro-
CM>    life group would never have been formed.

Yes, it would have.  The issue is whether or not women will have control over
their own bodies.

In order to create emotional hysteria, the anti-abortion cause adopted the hue
and cry of "it's killing babies."

That is supposed to overcome the woman's right to control her own body --
simply acknowledging that the fetus is human so that abortion is "killing

But the fallacy is that few people are stupid enough to genuinely believe that
abortion doesn't involve, at a minimum, depriving another human being of at
least a potential for life, if not life.

It is just that for centuries and now, there is no alternative to abortion
other than live birth and if the woman wanted a live birth to begin with,
abortion wouldn't be an issue.

So, it turns on whether or not women have the right to control whether they
will or won't allow their bodies to be pregnant.  Short of imprisoning a woman
and tying up her hands (which many would do, I'm sure), there is no way to
take away the woman's option of abortion.

The only thing you can really do is make that option legal or illegal, giving
the force of government and penalty of law to what is a mandate to the woman
that she will remain pregnant or go to jail.

That will not stop abortions.  Nor will it solve any of the problems that
cause the need for abortion.

And merely calling a baby human doesn't change the plain facts that women have
*always* known the baby is human.  There is nothing more personal than
pregnancy to bring that point home.  That is also why women do not make the
abortion decision on a whim and why it isn't anyone else's business.

   Date : 02-Aug-92 09:45
   From : Linda Thompson
     To : Mike Wasylik
Subject : Re: Abortion Debate (1)
Replies : -> #3551

[cross-posted from CIVLIB Echo]

[originally posted on 1:231/110]

In a message to Lesley Martin <07-30-92 04:03> Mike Wasylik wrote:

MW>A right to privacy is commonly accepted as being within the original
MW>intent of the Constitution.  However, it is still quite a stretch from
MW>"right to privacy" to "right to abort a pregnancy".  Should the

No, it is not.  The "right to privacy" is the foundation for the "informed
consent" doctrines that result in your having to give your consent to any
medical treatment whatsoever.

This is a right of bodily integrity.  You have the ABSOLUTE right to control
your body.  You can refuse to submit to surgery, life support, or anything
else you choose, even if it means you will die.

It isn't merely a right to be free from snooping and invasion, as you seem to
think, it is an absolute right to the integrity of your own body.

A surgeon who operates without the consent of the patient can and will be sued
for battery, among other things, and that is an historical precedent that
dates to 1900 in this country.  The basis for that is the right of the person
to the integrity of his/her own body.

And you may not mandate that a woman *will* bear a pregnancy without invading
her right to her own bodily integrity.

She has the absolute right to determine whether she will or will not host
another organism in her body for 40 weeks and endure labor, because it is her
body that must be the life support for this fetus.

And saying that the fetus is human and should be entitled to its own right of
bodily integrity will not overcome this.

Because no living, already born human being has the right to demand so much as
a drop of blood from another human being.  A two year old child cannot force
its parents to give it blood, even if the child will die because the parents
have an absolute right to control their own bodies and cannot be forced (by
law) to give that blood.  Doubtless there are moral arguments to be made, but
legally speaking, you cannot force anyone to donate a kidney, eyeball, blood,
or anything else to another human being.

And by the same token, you cannot, by force of law, make a woman be a life
support system to a fetus for 40 weeks against her will.  Even if that fetus
were an already born, living human being, it would not have the right to so
much as a drop of blood for a second, much less the mother's entire body for
40 weeks.

So, once it is removed from the mother's body, it will either be capable of
independent existence or it will not.  Even if every precaution is taken to
preserve that fetus's bodily integrity, it will not survive outside the womb
unless it is viable.

Thus, acknowledging that it is human and has its own "right of privacy" does
not change the law or the outcome.

Abortion has been an option for centuries, whether legal or illegal.  You
cannot and will not eliminate it by forcing useless laws on people that cost
us zillions in enforcement and to what end?  So we can have scads of HIV
infected babies in institutions while their mothers are in jail?  Will that
make you happy?

Why not work for a solution that WORKS instead of harping on the same old tune
that historically has absolutely no support in that it simply does not and
will not prevent abortions, nor will it solve the reasons people get abortions
to begin with.