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Pro-choice vs Pro-abortion
Posted: 25 August 2009 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I don’t think abortion is right, but ultimately i believe it’s a women’s choice as to decide whether she chooses to have an abortion or not. Is this hypocritical? Your responses are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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Posted: 25 August 2009 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I agree that it’s the woman’s choice, however, just deciding whether it’s right or wrong is a fairly simplistic view on either side.  The situation is very complex. 

1) What if the fetus is shown to be without a central nervous system or with a severe disability, any of which will cause the newborn to die immediately or within a month or two after constant major pain?

2) What if the mother is a ten year old girl who was raped?

3) What if there is a condition which will cause both the fetus and the mother to die before the birth if left alone, but which can be repaired only by removing the fetus?

4) What if the mother is physically, mentally, or economically disabled such that the child will end up having a miserable life and most likely die or be killed well before adulthood?

5)  Often the opponents draw a line of time:  no abortion after five months; after three months; prior to egg implantation; at all because even the embryo is alive.  This last because any destruction of life is murder.  However, the sperm and the ovum are just as alive.  Does this mean anyone who doesn’t give his sperm or her ova a chance to develop into an embryo is committing murder?  If so, does this mean that, to be free of “sin”, humans must always copulate continually during the woman’s fertile period, but males should never have an orgasm other than that?

Occam

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Posted: 25 August 2009 01:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I agree with Occam that abortion is a complex moral issue, and simple designation fo right and wrong don’t fit well. But even if you feel it is in some sense always wrong, you do have to balance that against the wrong done to the women forced to carry and give birth to the child regardless of whatever legitimate reasons she may have for not wanting to. Such a weighing of interests is the foundation of sophisticated ethics, and it is perfectly reasonable to decide that the interests of the woman outweigh those of the fetus in a given et of circumstances. So no, you’re not being hypocritical.

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Posted: 25 August 2009 05:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I’m always confused by comments just like yours, Beliefdoubt.  How can you think abortion is wrong?  Just think about all of the mistakes you have made in your life.  Depending on how old you are, but not solely dependent on that, you’ve probably got quite a long list.  How many of your mistakes involved sex?  Can’t you imagine someone making a mistake involving sex?  I completely agree with all of the things Occam listed.  But what about allowing people to overcome their mistakes?  Having sex is easy.  Pregnancy and raising a kid are very hard.  However, there is a procedure (and pill now-a-days) which allows a person to mitigate the damage that mistake will have on their life.  If you think an abortion is an easy decision to get to and live past, then you’ve never met a woman who went through the process and its aftermath.  I don’t think there are any woman who go to abortion clinics like they’re drive-thru oil change places, although that is exactly what the pro-lifers think and try to profess every chance they get.  IF there is any woman like that (and that’s a big if literally and figuratively), then no child should ever have to be cursed with that parent. 

People who want to view abortion as murder do so to satiate their own fictional world view.  Pro-lifers relish the chance to stand in front of Planned Parenthoods and other clinics with gruesome pictures and charged rhetoric, but where are they for all of the children waiting to be adopted, aging out of the system only to be mired by their own poverty and most likely repeat some very bad lifestyle decisions (like getting pregnant too early)?  If you want to judge abortion as murder, then you need to judge IVF the same way (due to all of the fetus destruction).  And what of all the children who aren’t adopted?  Where are the pro-lifers to rally for them?

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Posted: 26 August 2009 06:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Chicken, I think you are overlooking something important, the thing aborted is a human being.  At that point it’s not a simple matter of erasing a mistake. 

Mckenzie put it well, there’s always a balancing test in deciding an issue like this.  I would argue a lot of it depends on whether one thinks the fetus is “alive” before birth.  If so it becomes really difficult to justify elective abortion.  Even if one determines a fetus is alive, does life begin: at conception?  At the point a fetus can feel pain?  At the point the fetus can be demonstrated to have consciousness? 

With regard to rape, I agree again with Mckenzie, it’s hard to justify forcing an innocent woman being forced to carry the stigma and burden for 9 months and then perhaps having to raise the offspring of her assailant.  But there, one is dealing with an innocent life on each side of the scale. 

It seems we should apply science and learning to try and make this determination.  To create an artificial legal standard based on the outmoded conception of trimesters or that a fetus is not “alive” until birth is anti-scientific. 

I’ve never understood the position that it’s ok to abort a child because their parents are poor or young (clarification: I’m not talking about a 10 or 12 year old here, I’m talking 17 or 18 yr old mother).  I don’t agree with the assumption that to be happy and/or fulfilled, one must be wealthy. 

Occam, let me ask you this as a hypothetical.  Suppose a 1 year old’s parents are murdered, the boy suffers a blow to the head that leaves him brain damaged, and his legs and hands are cut off by the assailant.  He is left with no relatives and no means and forced to live in an orphanage (do they still exist?) or with foster parents.  If that’s not a recipe for misery, I don’t know what is.  Can we euthanize the boy?  I assume you will answer no.  If not the 1 year old, why the 6 month fetus? 

Last, why is it pro-lifers’ responsibility to raise someone else’s child?  There are consequences to one’s actions, wanting people to take responsibility for their own actions is hardly an unreasonable or hypocritical position.

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Posted: 26 August 2009 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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JRM5001, I think you oversimplify a difficult problem. Yes, there is a continuum of development from conception to adulthood, but that does not mean that a fertilized egg is a human being. A fertilized egg might become a fully developed human being in 20 years. There’s a difference here that we should not sweep under the rug.

Our problem is that we prefer to have clear black-and-white dividing lines for moral decisions, and there is no clear black-and-white dividing line here. For all of history until recent times, the best dividing line was the moment of birth. But now medical science was weakened the sharpness of that line, and we are forced to confront the unavoidable grayness of the problem.

Yet we have established all manner of gradations in other matters. When one person causes the death of another, we grade the act into a fine set of categories: premeditated murder, manslaughter, justifiable homicide, self-defense, and so on. Our best resolution is to establish a similar set of categories based on the degree of development of the fetus. However, the rapid pace of fetal development compared to the slow pace of formal decision-making complicates the problem.

Let us not forget that in this situation we are balancing the mother’s interests against society’s interests, not the interests of the fetus. It is society that intrudes into the mother’s decision, and society does so to protect its own interests—in this case, the protection of its potential members. I agree that society has every right to intervene to protect its interests, but I am appalled by the hypocrisy of our society’s attitude. On the one hand, we wring our hands over the unborn fetus, and on the other hand we ignore the postnatal health of that fetus. At this moment, many of the same people who would defend the life of a fetus are opposing a national health plan that would protect the health of the newborn child.

I believe that we must be consistent here. We have millions of children who do not receive adequate food, clothing, medical care, housing, or education. To fight to bring more such children into our society strikes me as idiotic. Let’s clean up our act with respect to our children first; let’s insure that every child, regardless of parentage, gets proper food, clothing, housing, medical care, and education, before we argue about adding to the number of children we currently raise.

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Posted: 26 August 2009 08:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Chris Crawford - 26 August 2009 07:55 AM

Yet we have established all manner of gradations in other matters. When one person causes the death of another, we grade the act into a fine set of categories: premeditated murder, manslaughter, justifiable homicide, self-defense, and so on. Our best resolution is to establish a similar set of categories based on the degree of development of the fetus. However, the rapid pace of fetal development compared to the slow pace of formal decision-making complicates the problem.

That’s a very interesting idea, Chris.

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Posted: 26 August 2009 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Chris, I agree with you that there is a gray area when it comes to the development of a fetus.  I pointed out a few points where different people start the clock so to speak: conception, development of a nervous system to the point it can feel pain and I said “consciousness” but I really meant viability (the point where the fetus could survive outside the mother’s body). 

These standards bring in all sorts of complications.  Conception is an easily defined moment, but the nervous system develops more slowly.  I’m not a doctor so don’t skewer me if my weeks are off, but I think at 9 weeks the central nervous system is formed enough to where the fetus could feel pain, but no one knows for sure.  Viability is tricky too, but they are saving more and more premature infants every day.  I’ve never really liked this standard much anyway as even a full term infant is not really viable at birth.  They can’t feed or provide for themselves in any way—unlike say a reptile which is usually born and fends for itself from day 1. 

I disagree with your second point.  If it can be said that an unborn fetus is alive, then it’s not society’s interests we have to consider but those of the unborn person.  If you are going to say it’s unclear what the status of a fetus is then you cannot disregard their rights out of hand. 

Consider this, from the first moment of conception, the unborn fetus has unique DNA unlike any other human being who has ever existed (b/c as Lewis Black says “we’re all like snowflakes.”).  It begins a process of maturation that will take 12-21 years depending on what one defines as adulthood.  One could make the argument that at the moment the cells divide, there is a developing human who is entitled to human rights.  I put that out there for the sake of debate because overall I agree with you that this is not a simple issue.

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Posted: 26 August 2009 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I don’t think that the notion of “feeling pain” is adequate to these considerations. Pain is an extremely complex phenomenon; most people do not appreciate the many factors that are at work in the perception of pain. It is above all a psychological phenomenon rather than a physiological one, ergo it is useless to discuss pain in the context of a developing embryo.

You reject my “social interest” criterion in favor of an “individual right” criterion. I counterargue that the social interest criterion is more fundamental than the individual right criterion. After all, when we pit social interest against the right to live in the case of a murderer, social interest wins out and we execute the murderer. In war we kill thousands of people because it suits our social interest. So while I do not reject the individual right to life, I maintain that social interest has always trumped right to life and is therefore the best line of reasoning to use.

The uniqueness of a fetus is irrelevant in my thinking. Snowflakes are also unique, but we make no effort to preserve them. Nor do we seek to preserve houseflies on the grounds that each is unique.

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Posted: 26 August 2009 10:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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JRM5001 - 26 August 2009 06:50 AM

Chicken, I think you are overlooking something important, the thing aborted is a human being.  At that point it’s not a simple matter of erasing a mistake.

I can understand if you have decided to BELIEVE that an unborn child is the same as every born child and deserve all of those rights.  But you would be wrong.  No unborn child, which can legally be aborted, has the ability to live outside of the mother’s womb.  The mother is a human being as well, or is that just a little matter and not worth consideration for you?  An unborn child cannot grow without the aid of the mother.  Sex, which is the method by which a fetus can be created, is the most basic instinct and motivation of a human.  Sex can be entered into (sorry about the pun) very easily and thoughtlessly.  The mere fact that a hormonally drunk couple of teenagers can spend 2 mins. and create a fetus does not mean that the RIGHT thing to do is then force those teenagers to completely and forever change their lives.  And we all very much know, that this more directly effects the woman than the man.  Simply, the permanent changes that happen to a woman’s body because of pregnancy are NOT something a citizen population has the right to force onto any woman.  You can boil this all down to mitosis, but that makes your ignorance of pregnancy painfully obvious.

Mckenzie put it well, there’s always a balancing test in deciding an issue like this.  I would argue a lot of it depends on whether one thinks the fetus is “alive” before birth.  If so it becomes really difficult to justify elective abortion.  Even if one determines a fetus is alive, does life begin: at conception?  At the point a fetus can feel pain?  At the point the fetus can be demonstrated to have consciousness?

At what point did you decide to allow this private issue to become a public issue?  At what point did you decide that what is happening in the body of a free citizen is the concern of the populace?  You can spout these arguments, which were created by the religious right to combat legitimate debate by reaching to the point of conception where science can not answer every question, but they only further your disingenuous morality.  As I previously mentioned, to give equal rights to a fetus means putting IVF in the same water as abortion.  To pursue this argument means we would need to outlaw most fertility research and practice.  That would mean denying couples the opportunity to reap the benefits of our current medical advancements. 

And your question of consciousness further betrays your lack of thought on this topic.  The fifth week of pregnancy, or the third week after conception, marks the beginning of the embryonic period. This is when the baby’s brain, spinal cord, heart and other organs begin to form.  The brain hasn’t even begin to form until week 5 of pregnancy.  Would you be giving an OK to the day after pill and all abortions up to 5 weeks? 

With regard to rape, I agree again with Mckenzie, it’s hard to justify forcing an innocent woman being forced to carry the stigma and burden for 9 months and then perhaps having to raise the offspring of her assailant.  But there, one is dealing with an innocent life on each side of the scale

This statement is disgusting and vile.  A woman who isn’t raped isn’t innocent?  A teenage girl who has made a simple, hormone driven mistake SHOULD be forced into carrying the burden (nice choice of words) for 9 months? I can’t believe you wrote the above.  I really doubt we’ll be able to have a conversation for very long with the amount of judgment you pass.

It seems we should apply science and learning to try and make this determination.  To create an artificial legal standard based on the outmoded conception of trimesters or that a fetus is not “alive” until birth is anti-scientific.

Yes, lets use science.  A fetus can not survive outside of the mother’s womb.  End of story.

I’ve never understood the position that it’s ok to abort a child because their parents are poor or young (clarification: I’m not talking about a 10 or 12 year old here, I’m talking 17 or 18 yr old mother).  I don’t agree with the assumption that to be happy and/or fulfilled, one must be wealthy.

I can’t even believe you think this way.  Do you really believe these things, or are you just being adversarial?  I hope it is the latter.  In case you are being genuine, it takes a great deal of money to raise a child, and it is understandable that some women might choose to terminate their pregnancy due to the fact that they can’t feed, cloth or house any children.  Poverty is a horrible thing for children to have to suffer.  I speak from experience, and I would (theoretically) have understood had my mother chose to abort me.  Although, pro-lifers buy bumper stickers claiming that I wouldn’t.  Of course, that is a moot point.
 

Last, why is it pro-lifers’ responsibility to raise someone else’s child?  There are consequences to one’s actions, wanting people to take responsibility for their own actions is hardly an unreasonable or hypocritical position.

You think it is RIGHT to impose your ideas of responsibility onto someone else?  That is unreasonable.  For instance, the RESPONSIBLE thing for a pregnant teen who hasn’t graduated and has no prospects IS to get an abortion.  I am no more able to enforce my idea of responsibility onto others than is any pro-lifer.  It is hugely hypocritical to demand that teenagers choose to give birth to a child and then seek other solutions (such as adoption) and then do nothing about the orphan crisis we are currently in.  Not to mention the amount of children in poverty and homeless.  Here are some statistics for you to mull over:

FY 2007:  496,000 children were counted in foster care.  51,000 children were adopted that year. 293,000 children entered that year.  ( http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/trends.htm )

If you look at the data, only about 10% of children are adopted each year.  Forcing people to have people for which there is a sad excuse for a system to take care of them is unconscionable.  It IS the responsibility of the pro-lifers to attend to the MESS they are fostering!

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Posted: 26 August 2009 10:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Chris Crawford - 26 August 2009 07:55 AM

Let us not forget that in this situation we are balancing the mother’s interests against society’s interests, not the interests of the fetus. It is society that intrudes into the mother’s decision, and society does so to protect its own interests—in this case, the protection of its potential members. I agree that society has every right to intervene to protect its interests, but I am appalled by the hypocrisy of our society’s attitude. On the one hand, we wring our hands over the unborn fetus, and on the other hand we ignore the postnatal health of that fetus. At this moment, many of the same people who would defend the life of a fetus are opposing a national health plan that would protect the health of the newborn child.

Lets also not forget that pregnancy is no walk in the park.  It forever changes the body of the woman who goes through it.  I don’t think society EVER has the right to force pregnancy onto any woman.

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Posted: 26 August 2009 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Good point Chris on societal vs individual interests.  However, wouldn’t your interpretation of societal interest justify eugenics?  I’m not sure your example is the best one.  Afterall, morally, there is a difference between a fetus and a murderer right?  Further, the state can’t just execute someone arbitrarily even if it is found to be in society’s interest.  Murderers are executed as a consequence of their actions.  Individual rights are not always trumped by societal needs.  Further, the more important the individual right, the greater the societal need to override the right . . . generally. 

I understand your point on the draft, but while conscription is a significant taking of individual rights, it’s not a death sentence.  Abortion isn’t a national invasion or other short term societal crisis. 

I agree with you regarding feeling pain, it’s very inexact.  I said that in part because I wanted to point out the difficulty of identifying a single moment when an abortion is acceptable.  I saw an article a few years ago where a British medical group recommended anesthesia for all feti aborted after 20 weeks (I think) b/c it was conceivable that the fetus might feel pain.  Aside from setting off a furor, some argued that if a fetus could feel pain then it shouldn’t be aborted.  Which is inexact, but not an illegitimate point.

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Posted: 26 August 2009 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Chicken,

This is obviously a highly emotional issue for you.  It is not my intention to offend you, but I believe there is more to the equation than just the mother’s right to privacy. 

As I have said in every post, determining whether abortion is acceptable is always a balancing test.  You choose not to put much weight on the side of the unborn, I take a differing view.  Can we agree that in cases of rape, lack of informed consent, and where the mother’s life is threatened by the pregnancy that abortion should be legal?  In these types of cases I am giving the mother’s interests greater weight. 

By way of clarification, I use the word “innocent” to describe someone who took no voluntary part in the conception of the child—such as a rape victim. 

What would you do about a 16 year old who makes a hormone driven and immature decision to drink and drive resulting in someone else’s death? 

Further, are you saying that a 16 year old who gets pregnant bears no responsibility for her actions?  BTW, the boy who impregnated the girl should not just get to walk away, he’s just as responsible.  Your assertion that “pro-lifers” are responsible for the children in foster care is nonsensical.  Abortion is legal. 

Chicken, can a full term infant live without its parents or someone to feed it?  No human being is really viable at birth.  We aren’t capable of taking care of ourselves for years.  Reptiles are viable at birth. 

What if in some future Brave New World we develop the technology whereby a human embryo can fully develop to term in an artificial womb.  That would effectively make every child viable from conception.  So then would abortion be unnecessary at that point?  Your scientific view seems a little narrow.  Humans never stop changing, from conception to death.  Whether it be an embryo, zygote, fetus, infant, toddler, etc it is a form of human being.  I’m not certain where I fall on the abortion question, but that point gives me pause. 

If you came from poverty and say it was so bad that your mother could have legitimately aborted you, do you wish she had?  Or do you feel that your life has some value and is worth living?  If you said yes to the last question, then it seems you are making my point for me.

[ Edited: 26 August 2009 01:15 PM by JRM5001 ]
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Posted: 26 August 2009 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Chris,

Nice summation of the moral dilemma. I might quibble a bit on one point.

I don’t think considering social interests and individual interests are mutually exclusive. I didn’t mention the societal interests, but you are quite correct that they are relevant. However, I don’t think we can entirely reject the concept that the fetus has interests that are also relevant. What these interests are and how they change with developmental stage is messy and there is unlikley to ever be wide agreement on the subject. And we may ultimately decide they are not of sufficient weight to justify infringing on the woman’s interests (which is generally how I feel about the issue). But I think raising that aspect of the question is fair game desite the ridiculous conclusions the most extreme pro-lifers come to about it. It wouldn’t make much sense in terms of most public policy issue to argue that society’s interests are germane but those of the individuals affected by the laws or policies we make aren’t.

You say that you don’t reject the individual rights argument but think that social interests always “trump the right to life.” I wonder if you really mean that. There are certainly situations in which society decides that it’s own interests outweigh the right of an individual or group to live, or that the right to life of one individual or group takes precedence over that of another. For my part, I think such decisions usually lead to great evil. I happen to oppose the death penalty on largely pragmatic grounds, but I think there is a related moral question here. Giving society sanction to take individual life is a great and dangerous power, and it she be used only in extremes where it can be well-justified. I happen to think the death penalty fails to demonstrate sufficient benefit to justify the violation of the individual’s right to life, especially given the terrible number of errors that occur in capital cases. Now, when the police kill somebody who presents an imminent danger to others, I would argue that society’s interests do trump that individual’s. But it’s a complex and very context-dependant moral call, and I think you may be generalizing too freely here.

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Posted: 26 August 2009 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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JRM5001 - 26 August 2009 01:12 PM

What would you do about a 16 year old who makes a hormone driven and immature decision to drink and drive resulting in someone else’s death? 

if a 16 year old can’t be trusted not to drink and drive then that same 16 year old can not be trusted to raise a baby.

the best way to decrease the incidence of abortion is to adopt some intelligent policies on contraception.  jmo.

[ Edited: 26 August 2009 01:39 PM by skuld ]
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Posted: 26 August 2009 01:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I can’t believe how conservative and even religious this forum is.

How is abortion a complicated moral issue from a secular viewpoint? Yes, in the case of very late, post-viability abortions, after about 24 weeks, and maybe even pushing it back to about 20 weeks, I’ll grant you it’s an ethical issue, but such abortions are rare and almost always medically indicated. Typical abortions occur (or at least are sought) much earlier. What ethical dilemma can be involved in those cases? The very notion that it is an ethical issue is religious BS.

The only real ethical issue with early abortions is whether some women should be compelled to have an abortion. Obviously not competent adult women, but what about 12-year-old girls (especially if they were impregnated by family members) or severely mentally disabled women? Now that’s an ethical issue, but it is primarily about agency and sovereignty and only incidentally about abortion.

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