Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rape, Abortion, and Reproductive Violence

The other day, I watched Animal Planet. The episode showed lions in Africa, and how, when a new dominant male takes over a pride, he systematically kills all the cubs that are not self-sufficient or able to defend themselves. This automatically brings the female lions into heat. The lion then copulates with the females, replenishing the stock of cubs in a pride, and insuring that all of them are fathered by the dominant male. 
  
This is what I would term reproductive violence. It isn’t random or capricious violence, nor is it violence committed in order to secure food or some other resource. Rather, it is violence that has a clear reproductive objective: To make sure the pride’s focus and resources go to the upbringing of the dominant lion’s offspring, and none other. 
  
The rape of a woman by a man is similarly reproductive violence. 
  
A man ordinarily woos a woman, in order to convince her to have sex with him, get pregnant by him, and ultimately carry his child. But wooing—in all cultures—takes time, effort, expense. Resources.   

Rape, on the other hand, is the shortcut to that same result, just as theft is the shortcut to getting a new car: By raping a woman, a man has a chance to conceive. The man might not have the time, resources, or social standing to woo the woman and convince her to conceive a child of his—so he rapes her instead. He inflicts violence in order to maximize his chance at reproductive success. 
  
Academic Feminist theory has often claimed that rape is a method of subjugating women—but actually, it’s not. Rape isn’t even about women—it’s about a man lacking the wherewithal to reproduce. It’s about a male’s frustration at his powerlessness, or at his lack of standing in his society. It has little or nothing to do with “the subjugation of women”. It often doesn’t even have much to do with a man’s feelings towards women generally. To claim that “all rapists hate and fear women” is as nonsensical as claiming that a man steals a car because he hates and fears all cars, or hates and fear car owners, or hates and fears the very invention of the automobile—patently absurd. A man steals a car because he can’t have the car. A man rapes a woman because he can’t have the woman. He carries out reproductive violence so that he can. 
    
But what about a woman? 
  
Bearing and especially raising a child is a tremendously intensive process for a woman. During the nine months of pregnancy, and at least four subsequent years of development, the child uses up an enormous proportion of a woman's physical energy, not to mention attention and care, especially after its birth and throughout its infancy. 
  
So a woman has to be selective as to which man’s child she is willing to conceive, carry and raise. That’s why in all cultures, a woman (or her family or her social milieu) obliges a man to woo her. She does so in order to insure that the man has the resources to care for her and her child, and to insure that the man has the stick-with-it-ness to stay after the birth of the child and help her care for it. 
  
But what if she becomes pregnant with the child of an undesirable man, or a man lacking in resources, or in social standing? What if she becomes pregnant with the child of a man she realizes will not stick around to help her care for the offspring? 
  
Currently in most countries in the West, she can abort the child. 
  
Just as rape is the reproductive violence men inflict in order to maximize their reproductive success, abortion is the reproductive violence women inflict in order to maximize their reproductive success. 
    
No one can argue that abortion is not a violent act. If we define violence as carrying out actions with the deliberate intent to cause physical harm or damage to someone or some thing, one doesn’t even need subscribe to the notion that a foetus is a human being to recognize that abortion is a violent act. If a foetus is just a clump of cells, then abortion is the intentional application of measures with the aim of destroying that clump of cells—and that’s violence. 
  
Many cultures—in fact most cultures, until quite recently—also practiced reproductive violence after the birth of the child. Lame children were left in the wild to die. Retarded children were often killed. 
  
Of course, now, in our current society, we abhor infanticide. We consider it barbaric. (Though it should be noted, in a hunter-gatherer tribe numbering a dozen individuals, barely managing to subsist, to allow a lame child to drain the resources of such a small tribe would be the immorality—which goes to show how cruelly situational morality really is.) 
  
Rape is not something that our culture currently allows either. Our society punishes the man who indulges in this form of reproductive violence. I don’t think I need to justify how punishing rapists is something a society ought to strive to do. 
  
But then why should women be allowed their own form of reproductive violence? 
  
In the West, we have determined that unjustified violence—against things, people and animals—is not tolerated. One could argue quite persuasively that the entire history of Western civilization has been a constant striving towards the ideal of living in a peaceful society, a society devoid of unjustified violence. 
  
The word “unjustified” is the key term. In the West, it’s not that we don’t accept violence, we don’t accept unjustified, unwarranted violence. 
  
For instance, going up to an unarmed woman on the street and shooting her with a gun would land me in prison—her murder would be unjustified. But shooting and killing a woman who is brandishing a machine gun and threatening to murder a schoolhouse full of children—even if she hasn’t actually done anything yet—is perfectly justified. Similarly, unjustified harm to animals and objects is considered punishable, while justified harm to either—for instance, slaughtering pigs for the market, or crushing derelict cars for the junkyard—is considered unremarkable. 
  
What separates justified violence from unjustified violence are the consequences of that violence: If that violence or harm is inflicted so as to prevent even greater harm, damage or violence, then it is justified. 
  
Similarly, abortion is unjustified reproductive violence, because the result of a pregnancy is not lethal to a woman, or even permanent: Women are only momentarily inconvenienced by an unwanted pregnancy. 
  
The only case where an abortion would be considered justified would be in the case of an ectopic pregnancy: The mother will die as a result of such a pregnancy. But that is the only case whereby a pregnancy will bring about unequivocal, permanent harm or damage. 
  
Especially in the West today, there are no irremediable consequences to a woman, should she have an unwanted pregnancy. 
  
A woman will not lose her social standing or employment, because of an unwanted pregnancy. In restrictive societies, there is a real danger of losing valuable social standing and prerogatives, if a woman has an unwanted pregnancy. But in the permissive Western society of today, that is no longer the case. 
  
Once the unwanted pregnancy comes to term, a woman will not be forced to care for this unwanted child for the rest of the woman’s life, if she does not want it: In Western societies, there are myriad agencies that can aid her in giving up the child for adoption. 
  
This is a key issue: As anyone with experience with children knows, the pregnancy is the easy part—raising the child born of the pregnancy is a process that consumes huge amounts of time, energy and resources. This is a consequence of an unwanted pregnancy that will not happen to a woman in the West who does not want the child born of the unwanted pregnancy. 
  
In fact, the only consequence a woman will incur because of an unwanted pregnancy is momentary inconvenience. During the nine months that the pregnancy comes to term, her body will suffer strains and discomforts—but they are not permanent or irrevocable, and they will end when the pregnancy comes to term. 
  
In the West, we have determined that momentary inconvenience is not the justification for violence of any sort. I cannot beat up a driver ahead of me who dawdles once the red light has turned green. I cannot steal a woman’s cellphone if she insists on taking a call while we are both in a theater. 
  
Therefore, since today in the West, momentary inconvenience is the only consequence of an unwanted pregnancy, then women should not be allowed to indulge in reproductive violence.  Like rape, abortion should be made illegal. 
  
     See also The Death Penalty

99 comments:

  1. Well, you wrote a good piece, but grown women can vote and unborn babies cannot, and pregnancy is an remarkably intense experience. In the modern West, where people regularly vote their lifetime savings away to avoid momentary inconvenience(half day probation at school will bring lawsuits, 9 months? are you nuts?), I just don't see how the majority of the voters will care whether your reasoning is actually correct. The key issue here is either the general definition of "momentary" might have become too short or "inconvenience" has become more like unusual and cruel sacrifice in the West.

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  2. This little essay is what I call, "Sticking your dick in a blender." I'm just gonna cook up some popcorn and watch while you get some 'Male Privilege ass raping'. lol

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  3. Yes, I'm sure when men rape women, they're thinking "I want this woman to have mah baybeh" (the obvious exception being domestic violence in which the man tries to force the woman to stay through pregnancy).

    Can't be that they feel entitled to the woman's body and don't want to bother with the resource expenditure of "wooing" (in the case of date rape, the most prevalent form of rape) or are doing it as part of a power trip.

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  4. Gonzalo, very nicely explained posting. I fully agree. I can never seem to understand those that commit their lives to saving the whales, dolphins, etc. are also most often the very same people who do not seem to stand up against human "reproductive violence" in the form of abortion.
    Have a nice weekend,
    Matthew

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  5. At first I thought rape was rooted in misogyny, but it turns out it's just underprivileged men coping with their disempowerment. Thanks Gonzalo!

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  6. Thank you for man-splaining to me that nearly dying while giving birth was merely an inconvenience to me (not to mention the nine months of health problems and complications that led to lifelong health problems for me). Otherwise I might have thought it was, you know, a traumatizing, painful, life-threatening experience that I'd do about anything to not go through again, include have ANOTHER abortion.
    Guess that makes me the same as a rapist! Wow, I didn't know a healthy sense of self interest and not wanting to die in horrific pain made me a sadistic monster!

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    1. Unfortunately, part of the role of women in nature is to be the reproductive vessel. This implies great risk. The author is defying years of research to include interviews with rapists themselves, and you do a fine job of showing (his ignorance and lack of understanding) where you state, "if the converse was true, then I'm just as good as a rapist."

      What you're missing, though, is much as well. First is that that next pregnancy of yours is preventable (accept by rape). So that next abortion is preventable as well.

      To say you would have another abortion signals that you are being irresponsible towards life, opening yourself up to the possibility of getting
      pregnant--and killing the life instead.

      And just as I do not know what it is like to be pregnant or raped, I do know what it is like to be both the product of rape and almost aborted. I have had an enviable life and continue to. Now, granted my parents were in a divorce situation, but my Father brutalized my Mother and I am a product of his reproductive violence. He in fact tried to force her to abort me. I am very lucky to be alive.

      If you can, please try to do what you can to remember the consequences of your actions. 2M abortions a year in this country? Outrageous.

      I guess I owe my own POV. In mine, rape should be legal and rare. I believe that if we led responsible lives, it could be limited to rape, incest and the quality of life issues such as extreme retardation. However, there are always those "mix-ups" kids have. Well, as a man, I don't have a solution for that. So I say--legal and rare. All I would like to see is women to start acting like it is not birth control!

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  7. Gonzalo,

    I am a fan of your recent, brilliant economic speculations. I take the time to write this because I think a factually dumb, crank piece like this is a threat to your intellectual and moral reputation.

    Check your medical facts. It is not uncommon for childbirth to produce serious, permanent physical damage from vaginal lacerations and life-long incontinence issues. Even a C-section in a first-rate hospital sometimes results in serious infections.

    Enough damage, and future childbirth is complicated, risky or impossible.

    You correctly mention that rape is about increasing the rapist's chance of reproduction. Then you propose an abortion ban, if I understand you, that drastically increases the incentive for rape by these individuals. Talk about moral hazard!

    The simplistic linear thinking on display here is worrisome. I'm really hoping this post is a brain fart or that someone hijacked your site.

    Best wishes.

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  8. Choosing FOR someone whether they get to live or not is called murder. Just as some in America couldn't see the forest for the trees that slavery was evil when we saw the photos of black men and women with whip marks on their backs, some cannot see the evil when we view photos of chopped up little arms and heads as murder. Let me say, murdering innocent children is a FAR greater evil than slavery ever was. We will all pay the price for this. We look back on slavery and say, "How did we ever tolerate this?" The same will be for abortion. There will be a reckoning.

    I am sorry "anonymous" that you had to endure terrible suffering and pain from your pregnancy. I'm sure Gonzalo doesn't wish this on anyone or mean to downplay anything you have gone through. Regardless, ending the life of another is never the answer.

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  9. It doesn't matter if he wishes it on anyone or not. It would be the effect of his desire to prohibit abortion. Pregnancy does not take place in some fantasy land where it doesn't cause women suffering. Gonzalo doesn't think about this because he doesn't have to, because he will never be pregnant. Thus his description of pregnancy as "inconvenience" and his willingness to overlook the suffering that outlawing abortion would cause (and does cause, in countries where it is illegal) to millions of women and girls is arrogant and insulting. This is of course compounded by his equation of abortion, a lifesaving decision on the part of many women, with the violent hate crime that is rape, as well as the frankly ludicrous assertion that all rapists secretly just wanna be baby-daddies without taking her out to dinner first.

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  10. You could be vetting comments as mine has disappeared. And all the better, for I confessed to abortions and regret, and the effective end of my life.
    The nuclear option, if you will.
    And wasn't it Mother Theresa who said, 'The fruits of abortion are nuclear war.'

    What a shock to come here for economics and receive truth, capital T.

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  11. I haven't vetted anyone's comments. I only vet a comment if it is egregiously obscene, or obvious spam.

    Perhaps because you are posting anonymously, you are having trouble finding your comments.

    I always put my name on my words—that's why I always can find them easily.

    GL

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  12. I'm still alive 17 years after having an abortion. And I have a child. This is the story of millions, perhaps even billions of women. Equating that to nuclear war is sheer histrionics. Mother Theresa was a slave and mouthpiece of the intensely misogynistic Catholic Church, which would prefer to let a 9 year old child raped child die instead of preserving her life by removing the fetus that is killing her and punished the doctors who saved her life. I do not worship her or lend credence to her opinions on birth control and abortion. There is no truth with a capital T here, not from someone who posts some poorly understood screed about lion behavior, tries to apply it to humans, tries to garner sympathy for rapists, and calls women violent killers for not going through the "temporary inconvenience" of pregnancy, which he clearly has not studied or read about in the slightest.

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  13. J,

    Please turn off the hysterical talk about "murdering innocent children." We aren't necessarily even talking about a 1 cm fetus, maybe just a clump of cells, according to Gonzalo.

    Gonzalo's post begins with a discussion about the incentives for rape, which HE says is a rapist's desire for reproduction. I don't think this should be a major focus of the abortion debate, but since Gonzalo bring it up, he should think it through.

    You, and sadly, Gonzalo, implicitly treat incentivizing rape as a reasonable tradeoff for banning abortion. Can you quantify that? You know, hundreds, thousands more rapes? Millions?

    Maybe you have some advice for the countless victims in African war zones of "incentivized" rapists? It's just momentary inconvenience? How being a breeder for the kid soldiers who killed your family is noble?

    Please relate your personal experience, if any, of giving birth to your rapist's offspring and how it was morally elevating.

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  14. whereas I am a coward, and just realized I hadn't fully finished with the comment process.

    Seamless writing G, thanks.

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  15. aiy karumba, the 'coward' comment above relates to Gonzalos' address my 'nuclear option...I had abortions..' comments. I didn't know this blog would go viral before I replied. out.

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  16. Gonzales

    A potential is not an actual. A cell or even a group of them is not a human being. It has the potential but it is not the actual.

    A woman has the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy for the sole reason that her body is her property. Whether you view that as good or bad is irrelevant. You simply have no say whatsoever. It is none of your business what decision she comes to.

    Rape is assault. It is a initiation of force upon an individual. Similarly, forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is an assault against her person.

    Sione

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  17. Sione,

    You didn't understand my argument. Read it again.

    Also, it's "Gonzalo", not "Gonzales".

    To all the people who post anonymously: It makes it confusing to follow the discussion. So if you don't want to use your name, at least use a pseudonym.

    Thank you.

    GL

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  18. You wrote this piece well, but writing and living are two different animals. I have three children; one is severely handicapped.I also have miscarried. With my first child, I considered abortion as an option being only seventeen years old.
    As a man, you will never understand what it is like to have a baby or to have an abortion. You will never understand. So again, writing about abortion and living it as a woman with potential for it happening in your life is the difference.
    Pregnancy is not just a temporary inconvenience. You would not know that. Again you are a man who will never become pregnant. Abortion is violent, yes, I will agree with you on that, but, it is not akin to rape. Rape is the subjugation of a woman to a man who feels powerless to get a woman any other way. In some cases, rape, is the preferred way, if a man sees a woman as an object and not a person.
    Abortion kills a fetus, but it is not done to subjugate or create dominance over that baby. Rape is about power and control over a woman's body against her will using the tools of bodily and psychological threat.
    As far as lame and retarded children go, I love when people make assumptions of how cruel it was in the past to let them die. Currently, we have the technology to allow handicapped individuals live a "technically" good life, but living in a broken body is not a picnic. Let me tell you this though as you go about your business, going where you want to go, doing what you want to do in a body that works seamlessly, drinking, eating, and living without someone wiping your butt or feeding you. There are days I wished I would have aborted my child who happens to be severely retarded. It would have not been violence; it would have been kinder than living. You can sit with your coffee and your free time debating what a bitch it takes to write that, but again, you will never know the agony of giving birth to a child whom you pray you outlive so that they are not at the mercy of the world. You will never know that as a man who cannot have a child. Sometimes, abortion is a kinder fate.
    I used to be like you and think that abortion was wrong in all facets, but I don't think that way anymore. The world is an imperfect, violent place and sometimes abortion has a place in it.

    In all truth that baby is not wanted.
    I will put a spin on abortion morality. Why should a child suffer a life where they are not wanted?

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  19. This is comment #1.

    As you may have already realized, cost of [momentary inconvenience, MI] is very high and in short term it feels like infinity. You can sing about forgiving your enemy all day and then the first sight of your least enemy will pump up your blood pressure. Most people have very short capacity to overcome immediate urge. So even though value of [life] is quite greater than the cost of [MI], making a seemingly logical choice requires a heroic decision. Your reasoning is not calling folks to take reasonable action, they have to become (greatly) better person.

    I don't know what it is, but individually it will be in a form of faith in/fear of Creator (evolution means we just have to abort i think)or something like that. We have to acknowledge that people are not just good enough to make the right choice here, but forcing isn't better either. If a government handles the decision, then the gov is really dictating personal choice; this does not make selfish people any better, and we lose democracy. I think we have to focus on "improving" people (sacrifice when it is needed), but that has not never been succeeded right?

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  20. All of you justifying your murder of an innocent child will answer for your "choice". God will not be mocked. Deep inside your heart you will find the truth and will know it when you are convicted for it.

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  21. Will said..."God will not be mocked."

    Nebris says: "The problems the JudeoChristLamic Father/God Cults have with our modern technological civilization are fairly obvious. All three are the 'metaphysical operating systems' of Bronze Age desert nomads ruled by tribal Patriarchs. Their world view is narrow and provincial and their God is a Small God, one confined, at the very least, to this world alone.

    Confronted with the modern scientific reality of The Universe, He is positively Lilliputian. For His faithful, such a situation evokes Fear, then Hate, and finally, Rejection."

    I pee upon your small god.

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  22. GL, since this is a place to care for poperly used vocabulary please observe; "(Though it should be noted, in a hunter-gatherer tribe numbering a dozen individuals, barely managing to subsist, to allow a lame child to drain the resources of such a small tribe would be the immorality—which goes to show how cruelly situational MORALITY really is.")
    Morality deals with God/man interactions while Ethics is the science of man/man, human interactions. enjoy you thinking. cruft

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  23. "Similarly, abortion is unjustified reproductive violence, because the result of a pregnancy is not lethal to a woman, or even permanent: Women are only momentarily inconvenienced by an unwanted pregnancy."

    This sentence by itself invalidates your entire argument. The fact is that delivering a child into the world a woman cannot support on her own far more than incoveniences her temporarily, it puts an unsustainable economic burden both oher as well as the society surrounding her. If she cannot afford to raise the child, the economic burden then falls onto the society at large. Do you favor taxation for paying for dependent children benefits?

    This argument falls apart from the get go Gonzalo.

    RE

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  24. You have surely read Freakonomics. Your whole argument that abortion is the other side of the empowerment coin to rape is both interesting and makes sense to me. But should they be treated the same.

    Rape is violent on many more levels than abortion. Rape is physically, emotionally spatially, temporally violent, it is the most violent form of imposition. Abortion is physically violent to a bunch of non-sentient cells and the female will have to deal with a few negative self-reflections but that is it.

    The comparison of empowerment is correct but in no way does that meant that if rape is illegal so should abortion be made illegal too. Abortion must be legal; to argue anything else shows limited empathy.

    We have moved passed religious intransigent moralistic claptrap because we have moved past religion.

    AF, London

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  25. This is the most ridiculous argument I've ever read, and needless to say, has sunk your creditability level to zero. Adios.

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  26. Extend the logic a bit further... A male sends his life giving sperm cells down the toilet in a moment of self gratification.

    Has he too committed an abortion of a potential human life? In the right place and the right conditions they could have grown up into a human being as well.

    I think there needs to be a movement to stop males from intentionally killing their sperm cells. The systematic abuse and murder of sperm cells has gone on too long!

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  27. "momentarily inconvenienced" ??? Your argument would carry a whole lot more weight if you didn't refer to a 9 month pregnancy, and all the inconvenience and risk to a woman's health, as "momentarily inconvenienced".

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  28. "We have moved passed religious intransigent moralistic claptrap because we have moved past religion."

    True. Now... if we could just get past intransigennt moralistic claptrap!

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  29. Give ya credit for wading into the issue, but let's face the reality that any (and I do mean any) position a man takes on abortion will never succeed on the macro level. We may and do have some, or in many cases, alot of influence on the women in our sphere, be they spouse, girlfriend, daughter, etc. The ultimate decision is always a woman's.
    Having said that, I still think women of conscience ought to have a rational discussion of encouraging acting very early in pregnancy and highly restricting late-term abortions.

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  30. Gonzalo,

    Either your web site has been hacked, or you've turned into a crazy person and have lost me forever.

    Please confirm.

    Regards,
    Chris

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  31. wow, strange lot of replies, to be expected.

    thanks for the post, interesting line of thought.

    I suppose its a net good to make people think ahead. I hope they do.
    Enough time has gone by in the USA that we have a completely different mentality about abortions than before.
    It looks to me, granted, from the outside, as if as a culture more than a little has been lost. Very similar to a lost language. Nothing of that era can be understood anymore. Maybe because the new language is more "me" than us.
    Not saying one language is better than another.

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  32. Ladies, if you don't want to have an abortion......

    Don't get laid......

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  33. So according to the author, the rapists should win.

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  34. Anonymous wrote: "So according to the author, the rapists should win."

    In the thirty-plus comments here, I have not read a single attempt to counter my argument from anyone who disagrees with it.

    But I have gotten insulted quite a bit. Or as in the case of the anonymous comment I quoted, I'm equated with rapists for making a rational, dispassionate argument.

    I am disappointed at the lack of a credible counter-argument. It leads me to conclude one of two things: Either pro-choicers are daft, or my argument is a lot stronger than I realized.

    You who are sane, rational and dispassionate can be the judge.

    GL

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  35. Gonzalo, I DID present a rational counter argument, with respect to who will take ont he economic burden of raising an unwanted child that is not aborted. I further dissected your argument on Reverse Engineering. Part of the argument goes as follows:

    Finally, I have to dissect Gonzalo’ absurd justification for his anti-Abortion viewpoint. He bases the whole thing on Reproductive Violence, and makes an analogy to Rape, contending that a woman who aborts a fetus is something like a man who rapes a woman. Even if you do accept as true that abortion is morally wrong, the practical problems of women who cannot afford to raise an infant are insurmountable without abortion. Is society going to bear the cost of raising all those children? Ideally, those women who cannot afford to raise a child won’t get pregnant, but of course this is not an ideal world either. Are you going to prevent this by Sterilization? This then would be reproductive violence by the State against the Individual. In the end, reproductive rights must be in the hands of the reproducer. Its not a pleasant choice to abort for any woman, but forcing her to have the child particularly if she does not have economic means to support the child is WORSE, both for her ad the society at large. Without abortion, we would have even more neglected and unwanted children than we already have. We HAVE to control our reproduction as a species, we simply cannot keep growing ad infinitum here. It is the inalienable RIGHT of the individual to decide on their own reproduction. This is NOT a matter for the State to decide on, and no amount of moralizing by Gonzalo Lira can obviate that fact of life.

    RE

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  36. Reverse Engineer claims that he has countered my "absurd justification for his anti-Abortion viewpoint".

    (BTW, I wish that just once, pro-abortion people would simply argue on the merits, and not feel compelled to throw in some ad hominem attack every chance they get.)

    RE's claim is, "the practical problems of women who cannot afford to raise an infant are insurmountable without abortion. Is society going to bear the cost of raising all those children?"

    As I made clear—and as is obviously true—adoption today is legal, easy, and there are a number of adoptive parents eager to receive an infant—in fact there are more prospective parents wishing to adopt than infants that can be adopted. Furthermore, there are State and private organizations which in fact DO bear the cost of raising unwanted children, which is minimal compared to, say, Social Security or defense spending.

    So this line of RE's argumentation is invalid.

    RE also tries unsuccessfully to make a reductio ad absurdum argument that sterilization is the only way to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and that this would be reproductive violence by the State against the individual.

    RE's language was ambiguous. My objection above renders this reductio ad absurdum moot, if he is implying that a woman who delivers a child is forced to raise the child. If RE is implying that there can be no contraception EXCEPT for abortion, his reductio ad absurdum would work—but the fact is, there are a myriad of contraceptives that are currently and easily available, all of them legal, all of them extremely effective, and varied enough that if one is inconvenient, another can be successfully used.

    In either case, RE's reductio ad absurdum argument fails.

    RE further appeals to the need to reduce human births, as the planet cannot support more human beings.

    This was not an issue I was discussing, and is beside the point. I agree with RE's point about over-population—but that isn't the issue being discussed.

    RE then says that "It is the inalienable RIGHT of the individual to decide on their own reproduction". I was not discussing this issue either—and besides, people do not have such an inalienable right. The State constantly prevents people from exercising this supposed right to reproduction. For instance, convicts in prison.

    So RE's objection is both beside the point and demonstrably false.

    RE finally claims that I was "moralizing" in my post. If he means I was discussing issues of right and wrong with an air of superiority, I wasn't. I was simply pointing out an argument against abortion in our contemporary society.

    RE characterized my post as "moralizing" so as to score points at my expense.

    RE, however, is right about one thing: His was the only semi-serious challenge to my post.

    But as I think I've shown, none of his arguments hold water.

    GL

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  37. Gonzalo, check your statistics. There are worldwide 43M abortions per year, approximately 1.3M in the FSofA. Here in the FSofA there are currently approximately 120,000 adoptions per year. Which means if you outlaw abortion, you'll have roughly 10X the number of children to place up for adoption. this is called flooding the market.

    RE

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  38. Oh dear Gonzalo.

    I was enjoying your economic musings, but this post was simplistic and fairly offence.

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  39. "Women are only momentarily inconvenienced by an unwanted pregnancy...there are no irremediable consequences to a woman, should she have an unwanted pregnancy.

    A woman will not lose her social standing or employment, because of an unwanted pregnancy."

    Talk to people who have carried a child about this. You will see that what I have quoted, the basis of your argument, is entirely false.

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  40. Gonzalo wrote:
    "In the thirty-plus comments here, I have not read a single attempt to counter my argument from anyone who disagrees with it."

    Gonzalo, that is just not true. I don't see any response to some pretty cogent questions and arguments in the comments. Just a few examples:

    Pregnancy is not always a "momentary inconvenience," for many thousands of women, even with the best modern medicine. Long-term physical (and emotional) damage from childbirth is a fact that you fail to acknowledge.

    You haven't responded to the sharp point made by another commenter: Would abortion/homicide, as you consider it, be OK if there were tens of millions of unwanted babies swamping a society?

    The scenario above is not hypothetical in some present-day African war zones. You haven't grappled with why abortion is a greater evil than genocidally-inspired mass rape, you just ignore the issue.

    You also don't look at the "economic" angle, that increasing the odds of success by rapists (progeny) must produce more rapes, by the most basic of economic insights: incentives matter. Where is the discussion of that?

    Please take this entire abortion post down. It's a reputational black hole for you, and I really appreciate your insights about stuff you understand.

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  41. The willful ignorance of this piece is both astounding and self evident. The author at first calls pregnancy resource intensive, and than calls pregnancy a 'momentary inconvenience', which is it?

    Surely Gonzalo can't be so ignorant as to think that pregnancy and it's effects are a triviality. In addition to the many challenges and potential very serious problems of pregnancy, a moments search on google shows that %2 of pregnant women in Sierra Leone die.

    Yes, that number falls to 'only' a few women dying per year in each medium sized American city, but aren't their lives worth consideration nonetheless?

    In my opinion, this piece is more evidence that opposition to abortion stems from psychological projection reasons, probably from abuse by women in early childhood. Abusive childhoods are associated with religious fundamentalists, and fundamentalists are the most strident enemies of a woman's right to control her own body.

    Finally, if Gonzalo wishes to 'save babies', he can do so at any time by donating one of his kidneys to one of the thousands of babies who need them. Will you put your kidney where your mouth is Gonzalo? The medical inconvenience and damage would be on par with complications of pregnancy, like an emergency hysterectomy:

    They took me to surgery, and had to do an emergency hysterectomy to save my life. The artery had broken loose, and this time it wasn't going to stop bleeding. I lost all of my blood and if I hadn't been already hooked up to and IV and in the hospital, I would have died, in fact, I came as close to dying as you can that night, or so I thought.

    I was put in intensive care and don't remember much from then on. Apparently, because they had to pump so much fluid in me, I had no clotting factor at all and had started to bleed again. All of my organs were starting to fail because of all of the stress. I was swollen up like a pumpkin and they couldn’t stabilize me. My heart was racing to 200 beats a minute and I was having a hard time breathing, even on oxygen. They decided I needed to be transferred to another hospital where they could do uterine embolization right then. I spent New Years Eve in surgery, and they had told my family they weren't sure if I would survive it because of all of the trauma my body had already been through.
    http://www.hystersisters.com/vb2/article_205841.htm

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  42. ever think that economic arguments aren't valid for every situation?

    stating that outlawing abortion would incentivize rape on the basis that rapists have some desire to conceive children despite their poor social standing fails so badly i don't know where to begin.

    weakens the whole of your entire stance on life and the world when you write such an obtuse piece.

    Shame on you.

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  43. Why did you delete my comment Gonzalo? It certainly wasn't obscene and it certainly wasn't spam. Was it the below story about what can happen during pregnancy?

    I lost all of my blood and if I hadn't been already hooked up to and IV and in the hospital, I would have died, ...
    All of my organs were starting to fail because of all of the stress. I was swollen up like a pumpkin and they couldn’t stabilize me. ...
    http://www.hystersisters.com/vb2/article_205841.htm

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  44. Perhaps it was my use of a word that could be construed as an insult, well here are some different words:

    The willful ilogic of this piece is both astounding and self evident. The author at first calls pregnancy resource intensive, and than calls pregnancy a 'momentary inconvenience', which is it?

    In addition to the many challenges and potential very serious problems of pregnancy, a moments search on google shows that %2 of pregnant women in Sierra Leone die.

    Yes, that number falls to 'only' a few women dying per year in each medium sized American city, but aren't their lives worth consideration nonetheless?

    In my opinion, this piece is more evidence that opposition to abortion stems from psychological projection reasons, probably from abuse by women in early childhood. Abusive childhoods are associated with religious fundamentalists, and fundamentalists are the most strident enemies of a woman's right to control her own body.

    Finally, if Gonzalo wishes to 'save babies', he can do so at any time by donating one of his kidneys to one of the thousands of babies who need them. Will you put your kidney where your mouth is Gonzalo? The medical inconvenience and damage would be on par with complications of pregnancy, like an emergency hysterectomy:

    I lost all of my blood and if I hadn't been already hooked up to and IV and in the hospital, I would have died, ..
    All of my organs were starting to fail because of all of the stress.
    http://www.hystersisters.com/vb2/article_205841.htm

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  45. Perhaps it was my use of a word that could be construed as an insult, well here are some different words, and the removal of my psychological theory about your post:

    The ilogic of this piece is self evident. The author at first calls pregnancy resource intensive, and than calls pregnancy a 'momentary inconvenience', which is it?

    In addition to the many challenges and potential very serious problems of pregnancy, a search on google shows that %2 of pregnant women in Sierra Leone die.

    Yes, that number falls to 'only' a few women dying per year in each medium sized American city, but aren't their lives worth consideration nonetheless?

    Anyone who wishes to 'save babies', can do so at any time by donating one of his kidneys to one of the thousands of babies who need them. The medical inconvenience and damage would be on par with complications of pregnancy, like an emergency hysterectomy:

    I lost all of my blood and if I hadn't been already hooked up to and IV and in the hospital, I would have died, ..
    All of my organs were starting to fail because of all of the stress.
    http://www.hystersisters.com/vb2/article_205841.htm

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  46. I'm still completely against making abortion illegal, but this is the first actual intelligible pro-life stance I have ever seen, and the first one that ever made me reconsider my stance even a little. Bravo for that.

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  47. The sheer number of replies (and level of vitriol) to this article attests to how effective it is. Excellent work! To the rest of you:

    The lady doth protest too much.

    Most of the anger, if not all of it in these comments, is steeped in guilt. DEEP GUILT. Attacks on religion? Check. Attacks on manhood? Check. Justification of self? Elimination of consequences? Reducing man to a mere animal and nothing else? Check, check, and check. Seek God folks, He'll help you through your confusion.

    In the meantime, I would recommend rereading this article and forwarding it to friends. It is VERY effective at starting conversation, at least. If it gets this much controversy from people of a Leftward persuasion, Gonzalo is obviously doing something right.

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  48. You seriously think 'leftward' people are reading an economics blog linked from lrc?

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  49. 1. Many women having a child might see the child as her own and feel that the responsibility to raise the child is her own responsibility. Or at the very least recognize that 50 percent genetically and 100 percent developmentally the child is hers and that giving her responsibility up for adoption is not an option, especially given the support available from social service agencies to help raise a child. At least in the advanced western context, which is the one your argument is geared toward. Given the support, a child is only an inconvenience for 18 years. In places in the world where all the support for babies is not available for poor women your argument suggests that abortion should be legal.
    2. Even in a case of a man choosing to rape a women in hopes of having a baby as the only reason. Doing so could easily be construed as misogynistic as it is a clear example of treating a woman as means to en end instead of an end in herself. It especially is misogynistic because the rapist is treating the person this way because she is a woman (because women are the only ones who can have babies). It would be interesting to consider the case of the lab worker at the sperm bank who constantly replaced donor sperm with his own. This might be a more effective strategy for the man who does not want or cannot afford the resources to woo a woman.
    3. What is more or at least significantly important, Nature or Nurture, when raising a human child. I think, as a new father, I can see how nurture plays a big role, even as I see how much genetics has an influence too. I think, because of this you need to add a section on child abduction to your argument. Obviously this is going to be human specific as nurture plays a much bigger role in humans than lions.
    4. This brings up the problem of having an analogy or even a comparison as part of your argument, that draws from another species. I don't have enough biology study to come up with some other animal behaviors that relate to this theme, but... One thing that does come to mind is that humans are the primary animal that has rape as a behavior. Hmmmm.
    5. Your contention that somehow this line of thinking is part of a grand historical trajectory of humanity towards acting is ways that limit unjustified violence in favor of justified violence. There are some serious counter examples to this suggestion about human trajectory. Weapons of mass destruction come to mind (and their use in the 20th century). What actually comes to mind when I look at this idea over human history is that we have gotten better and better and coming up justifications for violence. That seems to fit the history better. I don't see that as increasing morality/ethics etc, but the opposite. People have been shown to do the most inhumane things when given moral justifications. Perhaps preventing women from having control of there own bodies--whether by condoning rape (as some societies do) or by making abortion illegal (as many societies do) are examples of that.

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  50. This is comment #1 again.

    I have seen all of these arguements since the last century. We can argue until the next century or we can set some boundaries around when does something become a human. I do not think we can certainly tell when a fertilized egg(please, sperm is a sperm, egg, egg, while they are on their own) become a living human, so we ought not to assume it is not a human even at that stage. The standard should not be whether it has two parents willing to sue should anyone harms it. But hey, in the West, no vote, no right, correct?

    For those who care to think, aborting a 39wk+6day 23hr full term fetus is no different from killing a baby(or is even this questionable?). A 35+wk fetus will almost certainly live to grow to become an adult with minimum medical care. With intensive care, even 26+wk fetus has good chance of survival. One day, medicine will advance and who knows, perhaps a day old embryo can grow for 40wk in an artificial womb and become a newborn baby. So, when does it really become a life? Are we more alive than a fetus? As creatures struggling on this planet, more independent? Is any of us more of a person than a fetus because we can scream and make someone 1 mile away hear us when a screaming cell(sure it can make some sound?) cannot be heard from 1 nm?

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  51. 'You seriously think 'leftward' people are reading an economics blog linked from lrc?'

    You think these comments are coming from CONSERVATIVES? (C'mon, at least use a pen name, Anon E. Mouse) That's the nice part about Gonzalo's blog. It's HIS blog. It doesn't have to focus 100% on economics. I rather enjoyed the article because it made me think. Modern feminism is turning in on itself due in part to some twisted logic. I think Gonzalo was trying to explore a bit of that here. I also knew anyone merely leaning halfway to the left would be offended and come unhinged. It worked like a cigarette in a fireworks factory. The knee-jerk reaction from so many posters (some who state they had an abortion) should be ample evidence Gonzalo hit the mark with this article.

    I hope he keeps posting on controversial topics, even if I don't agree with all of them all the time. Again, excellent work.

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  52. Why has not a single police state body control supporter offered to donate a kidney to save a baby?

    You do realize that the US police state will be tracking every aspect of your health including obesity, mental health and sexual health records by 2014, right?

    Think carefully before calling for even more police state control over other peoples bodies, because after 2014 the next steps will be:

    -government control of your diet. 'Im sorry sir, your iris-id confirms you arent allowed to buy cheeseburgers.'

    -mandatory blood donation

    -mandatory tissue and organ donation

    -mental-emotional state monitoring by surveilance, and mandatory therapy to 'correct' it.

    Do you love big brother and agree that young women should wear the red chastity sash? You will after a visit to room 101. (read the book '1984' if this doesn't sound familiar)

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  53. Oh please. Even the most fanatical religious conservatives don't think fetus's are really full humans; they don't hold funeral services for the miscarriages of their members.

    Ok, a few have since this was pointed out by the feminists but regular pregnancy testing studies show that young women miscarry as often as they bring a baby to term and older(over 30) women miscarry far more often. The Catholic Church would have to hold 3-5 funerals for every baptism it performs. An absurd proposition.

    Pregnancy is not a minor inconvenience. I know two women, in the prime of health by any measure, who would have died without surgical assistance during childbirth. One had a prolapsed uterus and it took four units of blood to stabilize her. This was in California in the last ten years.

    Being an orphan or adopted isn't, in any way, equivalent to being raised by a full, attentive, genetically related family. My mother was an orphan and this legacy has cost me, and my children, more pain than I can relate here.

    Finally, it is quite obvious that human societies do not value the people that exist now. Millions of people in the US alone are homeless, without medical care, imprisoned for trivialities, hounded from place to place and denied the means or stability to support themselves.

    Abortion kills babies is an argument on the emotional level equivalent to declaring that spaying a dog kills puppies or eating eggs kills chickens. It's a tissue thin appeal to emotion with no respect for the consequences.

    Please, limit yourself to economics.

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  54. "Religious leaders and ideologues may argue that the reasons for their interest in human biology extend beyond mere reproduction. Instead, they argue that their domain extends into the realm of morality and spirituality, and that 'reproductive control' is a trite interpretation of their motives.

    Now, I'm sure many of them are sincere when they make this case. That's how memes work, with hosts convinced that they're acting rationally and in the collective best interest. Memetics is, at its core, a study of the tendencies and vulnerabilities in human psychology.

    In the case of human reproduction, Christians make the case for such things as embryonic personhood (or ensoulment) and espouse a strong interpretation of naturalism (i.e. humans were created in God's image). The problem with these arguments, however, is that they are rooted in fictions. The subsequent rationalizations and injunctions that emerge from these premises are thus intrinsically flawed.

    Ultimately, once the arguments are stripped down and exposed for what they are, it's painfully obvious that the Christian memeplex is merely working to control human reproduction and the makeup of family units for the purpose of producing more willing hosts. One merely needs to stand back and look at the world's most successful religions as proof; those faiths that work to control human reproduction, namely Christianity, Islam and Hinduism (though Islam and Hinduism less so than Christianity) are undeniably the ones who have fared the best over the ages. It's the killer memetic adaptation."

    http://www.sentientdevelopments.com/2010/09/its-control-thing-religion-and-human.html

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  55. I actually think Nebris' explanation goes more to the core of the matter than my own. After all, before the advent of scientific medical care abortion relied upon either the ingestion of toxins or primitive, septic, surgery. The Church and the State both had more troubling concerns with keeping the existing population alive in a time of rampant plagues.

    Now we argue about definitions of human life and the sanctity/vulgarity of same while a billion people suffer malnutrition every day. There seems to be a bit of a gap between word and deed.

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  56. "As I made clear—and as is obviously true—adoption today is legal, easy"

    This isnt true. Adoption cant be had without the permission of the father and if the man isnt convicted he retains parental rights. Further only 21 states specifically have a law that says that if a man conceives of a pregnancy via rape that he is not to have any parental rights. Again, this is only if he is convicted and so if there is no conviction or trial she would (without choice) be forced to share custody with the rapist. Not to mention but this proves your point wrong; that because he does not want to raise the kid afterwards with her that he is not doing it for reproductive purposes. Your entire evolutionary theory regading rape has also been debunked as well. Even all of your examples demonstrated that yes indeed rape is about power and control. The lion forces the woman into heat in order to force his genes onto her as a way of establishing dominance. Dominance is power and control. The guy that wants kids and doesnt want to court her is doing so out of power and control as he obviously feels entitled over her and her body.You dont seem to be up on the science. Lastly, the issue isnt about theories, economics, ect but about the sheer inhumanity of FORCING a woman to undergo a pregnancy from rape! She is a human being and you seem to think a non-alive clump of biology (ie, a seed not a plant) should receive more humanity than the raped woman. Its sheer barbaricy.

    *Keep in mind as well there is a difference between dispassionate and callous.

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  57. pangolin,
    "Abortion kills babies is an argument on the emotional level equivalent to declaring that spaying a dog kills puppies or eating eggs kills chickens"

    Totally agree!Hows about we make fellatio illegal because when (or if) the womans swallows the sperm shes committing cannabalism?

    (I left the comment above this one)

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  58. pangalin:"Being an orphan or adopted isn't, in any way, equivalent to being raised by a full, attentive, genetically related family. My mother was an orphan and this legacy has cost me, and my children, more pain than I can relate here"

    Not to mention but it isnt easy-peesy giving a kid up for adoption. Its not just something you breeze through....of course I wouldnt expect an author who claims that pregnancy and childbirth are little blips on her radar to understand that.

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  59. GL, fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, not mix and match. believing a person capable of reasioning who is not is useless. in the movie "as good as it gets" calvin is questioned by a sweet young thing as to how he writes so well about women? he replies; "i think of a man and eliminate reason and accountability". cruft

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  60. This is one the most sophisticated troll-provoking post I've ever read.

    I'm very impressed and I enjoyed reading comments :)

    /ROSS

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  61. It is a little disappointing coming here to read about economic insight and getting a post like this one. I have to agree with the last anonymous that this is a troll provoking post. There are several things about what was written that do not process for me. One is that the byproduct of a rape, abortion and the prenancy are all consequences that only women will have to endure. The consequences of all three are both physical and emotional. I feel that there are two many layers to all three issues to try and put it neatly into a single post. Second all societies wrestle with these issues and it seems that none have found a sure fire way to deal with them. I also find that though your arguement may seem linear it makes some terrific leaps to land where it does and that a good portion of the logic you use is faulty. Please stick to speculating on economics because morality and social commentary has been and always will be a slippery slope.

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  62. It's a brave man who goes out of his way to piss off the militant feminists and the bible-thumpers with a single blog post. While I don't hold a brief for academic feminism and some of the hysterical bullshit it's spawned over the years, I have to say that your post is in the same intellectual league. Impeccable reasoning from first philosophical principles to conclusions that have little, if anything, to do with the real world (you wouldn't be a libertarian, by any chance?).

    To say that “[Rape] has little or nothing to do with 'the subjugation of women'” takes not just balls, you have to have pretty much abandoned even the pretense of logical argumentation (it's the subjugation of a woman, at the very least). And while I don't agree with any simplistic ideological formulation of what may motivate a man to commit rape (getting oneself some nookie seems at least as likely a motive as a hatred for women*), to say that it solely an effort by a low-status male to reproduce is just asinine (if you meant that this was an unconscious genetic drive, of the sort that mediates kin selection, then you probably should have stated that explicitly. It wouldn't have saved you from the auto-da-fe, but your argument would have made a little more sense).

    It's the stuff about abortion that really rankles. Having an abortion may be fairly defined as a act of violence. So can having a child that one cannot care for. So, for that matter, can having any children at all in a world in which each new birth is a claim on dwindling resources, and added pressure on a biosphere that “canna take much more, captain!” (You're not a cornucopian, are you?) While I believe in the protection of women's autonomy, it is not the only factor in a society's decision to keep abortion legal, as nine billion people struggling to survive on a planet with a carrying capacity of 1/6 that will soon demonstrate. The moral calculus here is just a tad more complex than you make it out to be.

    I wouldn't have gone on to this extent, except for the fact that you're being touted by many of the web sites I visit as the hot new thing in economic commentary. Economics is a subject I have a limited understanding of, so I rely on people more savvy than myself to give me the straight data. I hope that what you write in that vein is better reasoned than the argument you make here.

    * If this is not true, then why does male-on-male rape exist?

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  63. Not only male-on-male rape. There is also a lot of rape which leaves the (female) victim unable to reproduce.

    There's an aspect of sexuality that's entirely about dominance and group identity. We see this very starkly in prisons, and in populations of hyenas and dolphins.

    There's also an aspect of conception/contraception that's entirely about dominance and group identity. We see this when rape is carried out as part of genocide, and also when debates over reproduction draw the lines for political or religious disputes.

    I'd like to briefly point out that the Bible treats the violent destruction of an embryo, against the mother's will, as a property crime.

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  64. "....Therefore, since today in the West, momentary inconvenience is the only consequence of an unwanted pregnancy, then women should not be allowed to indulge in reproductive violence. Like rape, abortion should be made illegal. ....."

    I disagree wholeheartedly and so does the law of the land...... For me, it's not worth the time to debate this matter....

    Best regards,

    Econolicious

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  65. Nebris,

    What a tragedy. God loves you regardless of your opinion of Him. I don't have to spend anytime telling you how foolish your rejection of God is. . .you will have lots of time to consider it in the afterlife.

    Where does Christianity or Islam claim that God is not the creator of the Universe? How do you know what these "cults" claim? You have reasoned yourself into corner and a shaky, prideful confidence will keep you there until you die or until you open you heart to the truth about God and his desire for your life. Hope you shut up and listen.

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  66. And now sir, let us look at some of the ideological company you keep: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/22/palin-abortion-rape-incest_n_731385.html

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  67. Silly Little Willy,

    You use that classic Father/God 'bait and switch' game; “God loves you SO much that if you do not love Him back HE WILL SEND YOU TO A SUPERNATURAL CONCENTRATION CAMP TO BE TORTURED FOR ETERNITY.” At the very least, that is a psychotic reaction. You see, Yahweh is NOT a God of Love. He is THANATOS, God of Fear, Hate and Death. And you are just another one of His little Stormtroopers.

    You also made the classic mistake of assuming I'm an atheist. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am actually a Prophet of a new religion. Just follow the link to my Blog Spot to find out.

    Thing is Wee Willy, we create our deities, not the other way round. Yes, there is a Source of All, but said entity is not some piss-ant local Levantine weather deity gone Big Time.

    My Spirit Guide says, “It will not surprise many of you that the vast majority of human concepts regarding deities and their nature is anthropocentric nonsense, evolved out of tales told around camp fires thousands of years ago and based upon a combination of fear and the echoes of race memory.

    Let me go straight to the point: there is no 'God', not as most of you conceptualize 'God'. However, there IS a Source of All.

    But even my race, which in its prime explored in ways that you will not be capable of for a very long time, could never actually 'find' said Source. We did however find Its Shadows and Echoes and from that we determined a number of things.

    First, as Its Name implies, It is in All, Its Creative Energy imbuing 'everything' throughout all of Creation with Its basic nature. Because your presently bi-gendered race rightly perceives Creative Energy as Feminine, calling The Source of All “The Goddess” or, better still, “The Creatrix”, is an accurate and effective way of labeling It.

    Second, because The Source of All is a functionally infinite concept, even my race needed to 'break it down' into more workable elements. The details of how we did that are not relevant here as they are mostly beyond your race's present capabilities.

    But the basic concept is well within your reach, what Buddhists call Tulpas, a manifested Thought Form. By focusing individual or collective Will upon a specific Aspect of The Creatrix, meaning a specifically Named Goddess – such as Astarte, Kali, or, Bride – a Tulpa may be invoked out of The Creatrix, a part of Her that can be understood and related to, and therefor directed.

    As we are all part of The Source of All, this is really just reaching into our own Being. All is within each of us.”

    That is 'direct' Revealed Knowledge btw, not some heavily rewritten hand-me-down Father/God propaganda, so I win. lol

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  68. Here's more "reproductive violence".

    A married woman gets pregnant by a man other than her husband, and by state law, that child is the financial responsibility of her husband, and the biological father is barred from contact with his progeny.

    A woman marries a man, has children by him, then divorces him and moves to another country, taking their child away from his or her biological father. Both residential governments threaten him with jail if he doesn't pay child support, but will do nothing to return the child to his or her original place of residence.

    An adult woman molests a young boy, becomes pregnant, and loses her job as a result of the scandal. She goes on welfare to make ends meet.
    By law, her victim owes her child support, and if he can't pay, the state government will garnish the wages of his parents and pay them to the mother.

    All legal under state and federal statutes in the US today.

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  69. Nebris: Panetheistic monism doesn't work. It cannot explain the origin of the universe. It can't explain the existence of morals. It certainly can't explain why you would waste time defending anything in light of the fact that life has no ultimate meaning under the auspices of your worldview. Go play golf. Or try looking at the Kalaam cosmological argument which demonstrates that the universe had to have a beginning. The Living, active, God of the Bible existed before anything. Jesus, the second person of the Triune God, spoke the universe into existence ex-nihilo. The universe had to have a beginning and your worldview fails here. And please stop attempting to baptize metaphysics with science. People like you always trot out science to defend your position. Science needs an orderly metaphysical base to rest on. On its own, science is self-stultifying because it cannot meet its own criteria. Those of us with graduate educations are not impressed just becasue you trot out science and use it in the same sentence with the word "universe" as if this somehow validates your position. And no, you won't be peeing on our God. But you will find yourself on your knees (just like me) before the Lord Jesus Christ one day. History will prove me right.

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  70. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  71. Nebris, your comment wasn't witty, it was merely obscene. That's why I removed it. Don't do it again. And enough with the sock puppets.

    GL

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  72. I have not used a single sock puppet here. All those e-nomy-mice are their 'own people'. I say what I have to say up front and I ain' shy about it...as you may have noticed.

    And many out here consider your attitude toward women as expressed above to be obscene. What I said was merely 'blasphemous' to some. But one person's blasphemy is anothers liturgy, eh?

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  73. Gonzalo, I love your work. I'm just starting to dig into the economic posts you've written and I just love them. This piece, however, is too linear and oversimplified. Worse, it generalizes. Your logic is spotless, but far too narrow. Excellent read though, and thank you for posting.

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  74. So, GL, based upon your thesis, 'reproductive violence' is, in essence, The Male's 'default position'. I'd say that strongly validates the more radical Feminist thinking regarding The Male.

    Within such a 'naturalist' paradigm as you start out with, a fetus is merely a parasite The Female can dispose of at her choice. Or even kill after its birth. Mothers of many species even eat their young if food is scarce.

    And within the context of Evolutionary Psycho-Biology as outlined by you, there is no 'morality'. That's just a 'theological coat of paint' you slap on once you started talking about The Female, which is classic Male Privilege doublespeak; “We are meant to brutes by Nature, that makes us Men, but Women must always Submit and be Moral and think of The Greater Good.”

    Therefore in my model of the world, the first two thirds of this lil essay makes a pretty good evolutionary case of the outbreeding of The Male and the last third psycho-culturally confirms it. My Feminist thinking is mighty radical too, mano.

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  75. I do agree this blog is a good starting point to discussing abortion. Abortion will never be as black and white as some people would like it to be. As long as there is diversity in the world, there always will be many different views. However I believe that religions should hold no power or control over reproductive rights, especially when those religions are "owned" and run by men for the most part.
    Birth, miscarriage, and abortion choices are made by women because they are directly affected by them physically. Men grieve the loss of a potential child, fetus, whatever one's take is on the validity of that life, but they do not suffer physically as a result.
    The squashing of birth control and abortion ARE means by which certain religions can hold control over society's head. No particular religion has the right to hold majority control of how a society's citizens act and think, especially when those control buttons impact someone financially, physically, and mentally as reproductive rights do.
    The funny thing though is all the testosterone fueled debate on abortion is but spitting into the wind, a tornado, actuallly. Women have always found a way to have an abortion if they had need to. Patriarchal religion, make your rules, try to box women into how you see fit, but we will always find a way around your short-sighted, ,male-centered blood line phobic thinking, ALWAYS. You have as much control over womens' reproductive issues as you can grasp air solidly in the palms of your hands. Poof!,it is not there. Get the idea?
    Keep thinking of women as cattle and less than, your property to do with as you please, if it gets you through your day.
    To the person who wrote that if women do not want to have children or an abortion who said "don't get laid", I say you need to stop doing the "laying".
    Gonzalo, on a side note, it would be interesting to read a blog by yourself on how some highly-educated people cannot form their own thoughts outside of religious or mainstream social groups that they hold affiliation. I make this comment because some of the people leaving comments said they were so highly-educated, but yet could not step out of their own religious form to see the other psychological and spiritual facets of how others think.

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  76. GL,

    I love reading your blogs on economic analysis. I am glad to have read this non-economic article because of the interesting argument you make.

    I think this argument is interesting because you have portrayed rape as an evolutionary biological response to lack of resources. We are constantly told that rape is a complete moral bad, but you make the case that it is a response mechanism of reproductive violence based on the condition of the individual to a larger theme of a perception of relative lack of "something" (resources, wooing capability, etc.).

    You then make the case that abortion is the reproductive violence response of the woman to the reproductive violence of men. The man's reproductive violence is illegal, but the woman's is not.

    I think your argument is antiseptic and cold, but it is an argument for a position (making abortion illegal) from a perspective I've never read before.

    So thank you for making me think.

    NDE

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  77. GL, many thanks for "developing your ideas semi-publicly". It takes effort to set down your thoughts in detail, and it takes guts to expose them to the heat of criticism.

    As I understand, you argue approximately as follows:

    1. Our society does not accept momentary convenience as justification for violence against people, "animals," or even "objects". We should treat this as a principle and apply it consistently.
    2. Abortion is violence, even at the clump-of-cells stage.
    3. Unwanted pregnancy is a momentary inconvenience.
    4. Therefore, we should forbid abortion.

    Based on premise #1 above, do you take issue with someone who squashes a bug (an animal as complex as an embryo at X days) that is biting them? Sure, there's a chance the bite may infect me with something, but the "inconvenience" and risk of pregnancy strike me as greater.

    How about if I crumple a piece of waste paper (an object) in order to throw it in the trash can? Would you prefer that I walk across the room and place it there less violently?

    As far as I know, our society condones bug swatting and waste paper crumpling for any reason or none.

    I'm sorry, this article falls flat in logical terms. Others have pointed out the internal inconsistency between the "tremendously intensive process" and the "momentary inconvenience" (which you mitigate somewhat by associating the bulk of the "process" with *raising* as opposed to *bearing*).

    I hope the above satisfies your wish for a rational attempt at a rebuttal. I have plenty of more emotional reasons to disagree with you on this subject.

    I'd be curious to know your theology. The way this post smells to me, I suspect that its purpose is more to impress your anti-abortion social circle than to inform the general public. Could my hunch be true?

    Please go back to economic information and analysis.

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  78. GL: You claim the "pro choicers" didn't come up with any "logical" arguments to counter your complete and utter untruth that pregnancy is nothing but a temporary inconvenience. If you are going to say something so pathetically, laughably untrue, which every woman who's ever carried a pregnancy to term knows to be untrue no matter what her position on abortion is, you don't deserve any rational, logical counter-discussions to your ridiculous, insulting opinion, especially not after one adds in the further insult of saying women who refuse to have children against their will are the moral equivalent of rapists. You begin with insults - insults is what you shall get.

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  79. Please allow me to add my two cents…

    Pregnancy from assault rape is extremely rare.
    http://www.christianliferesources.com/?library/view.php&articleid=461

    If the pre-born isn’t alive, why is it growing?
    If the pre-born is part of the mother’s body how can it be male?
    And have a different DNA?
    If not human, what is it, a puppy?

    The pre-born’s heart starts beating at around ten weeks gestation.
    Surgical abortions cannot effectively be performed prior to ten weeks gestation.

    Oh, and by the way…
    Every U.S. man, woman, and child will fit in Texas, with each having a little over half an acre of land.

    U.S population 2009 = 305,529,237
    Texas area in acres = 172,044,800


    Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum,

    Vince

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  80. This is not academically rigorous. You need a seat in a Phil 101 Intro to Logic course.

    Here's a concept for you... for something to be wrong enough to be outlawed, particularly at the expense of a human's health and bodily integrity, maybe there should be something called a victim. The idea of a victim is basically a person who stands to lose something if they are mistreated.

    If you can't even identify a victim which has traits you would usually associate with personhood, and you still are eager to put people through something as painful and traumatic as forced gestation... I can only think that it does not say anything particularly flattering about you, or at least, your present state of mind.

    Arty

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  81. Vince,

    Before the eighth week of pregnancy, a human fetus is female. This changes with the activation of the SRY gene and the development of the undifferentiated gonad into testes. Which you can read all about here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_differentiation#Timeline

    Oh, and I lived in Texas for forty years. If you'd like to give that experiment with the half acre a shot, why don't you try South Texas, say around McMullen county (where the deer and the rattlesnakes play). A lot of Texas is like that, i.e. uninhabitable, at least without importation of energy and resources from other areas (who still have to support their own 2 people an acre, remember).

    While you're educating yourself about the genetics of sex determination (it's called a library), you might also crack open a book on ecology. Look up the term "carrying capacity" and see if your scheme still makes sense. If not, you might reconsider your position on abortion. At least ask yourself if God really wants us to live like the people in Soylent Green

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  82. Gonzalo,
    When I first visited your blog about a month ago, I was extremely taken with your fresh perspective and adroit turn of phrase on what is generally considered to be a boring topic. Now with your piece on abortion and I stand in even greater admiration.

    In the halcyon days of talk radio, if the host was having a slow day, he (they were all men in those days) would bring up the topic of abortion. The phone lines would light up like a Christmas tree, and you could be assured of a lively and impassioned debate for the next few hours - and greatly increased listenership.

    I bow to your superior ability to generate blog traffic. I wholeheartedly endorse your efforts to make big waves in the mainstream.

    Splash on, dude!

    K Smith

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  83. Where to start. This is a subtle argument against abortion. Animals do what they do to pass their genes on. Killing cubs is not personal. If you only have a few years to pass on your genes as pride leader, you can not waste time raising another lion's cubs. The analogous situation in humans is stepfathers killing their wives' children from a previous marriage and believe it or not, it does happen albeit it may be a subconscious process. The incidence of stepchildren being beaten to death is higher than in traditional families with a history of similar abuse.

    Rape is likely a psychological need of control or power over another. Many rapists have no problem being in a relationship with one woman while they serial rape many others. Rape-murder takes this to the next level. Both are abhorrent.

    Intentional violence against a person or animal should not be condoned and should be punished. But when is a fetus truly human? When the fetus can live outside of its Mother's womb, it's a person. That's around six months gestation with the help of an incubator and intensive care. Before that period of time, we get into the sticky issue of reproductive rights. It's a woman's body and she has the right to decide whether she wants to use it to make babies or not. After all, as you stated, she has to take the time and effort to carry the baby through gestation. That is not a minor inconvenience from a man's point of view who doesn't have to incubate and feed a developing fetus, but it might be to another woman who has been through the process.

    You overlooked two things, the advance of technology and population control. One hundred years ago, there were really no such procedures. The best women could do was promote a miscarriage through drugs or some other means. Technological advances have allowed for abortions to be safe and relatively minor procedures provided they are done within the first months of pregnancy. We've had in vitro fertilization for over 25 years now. There will come a time in the near future when people might be conceived and raised entirely in artificial wombs giving a whole new meaning to reproductive rights. Fetuses might be terminated because they don't pass a genetic fitness screen at the four or eight cell stage. What will technological progress do to your arguments of today? Might they seem quaint and old fashioned, possibly barbaric? I applaud you for them however because they are probably spiritually correct. But by your argument, I've committed a mortal sin by having my two female cats neutered. I've committed intentional violence against two beings I love and adore.

    If it's acceptable to neuter your cat or dog to prevent overpopulation, then why do we have 6.5 billion people and counting overrunning the planet and why are we not making more rational choices about that problem? Which is the greater sin, to limit the number of people being born, or to limit the number afterwards through neglect, poor health care, war, genocide, and other factors? What is the wiser course and the lesser sin?

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  84. Best argument I have read against legalized abortion. Those who know their sociobiology and evolutionary psychology also know you are absolutely right about rapists.

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  85. As ever there is the response of the individual as opposed to an understanding of societal behaviours.

    Thanks for the attempt at an explanation but if I might humbly suggest, perhaps you could be clearer when making statements as to the "momentary inconvenience" of childbirth, and so forth, within the context of a lifetime, as otherwise your readers might misunderstand your meaning.

    Similarly with the potential for readers to believe you are equating the act of rape with the act of abortion.

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  86. It's "ensure" not "insure"

    And you sound quite ridiculous.

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  87. poor smart bastardOctober 18, 2010 at 2:56 AM

    gonzalo, u son of a bitch, u just lost a reader you half assed, too bit sofist. it conforts me to know that your particular brand of prosaic snake-oil is no more than amuzing. u dont trick anyone.

    get a life asshole.

    over and out, no more hits from me to inflate your poor, hungry little ego.

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  88. When I did my own philosophical analysis of abortion, with a foundation in individual property rights, I concluded that abortion is morally justifiable in cases of self-defense and rape but is not morally justifiable in cases of either undesired or desired pregnancy (after consensual sex).

    The womb is the property of of the mother. Just because someone else forced the baby onto her property does not mean that the mother has to let the baby stay on her property. If someone threw an injured, helpless man through your window, would you be obligated to let him stay and to take care of him for nine months?

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  89. You just gained a reader.

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  90. Interesting argument... One thing i have noticed as a pattern within the comments was how many women became angry and indignant at your description of pregnancy as a "momentary inconvenience." I am a woman and have had two children thus far and I agree with you that within this context, pregnancy IS a momentary inconveniencet... And what I mean by that is the fact that an abortion is permanent... The baby will be dead forever and in the context and scheme of forever, nine months IS only a momentary inconvenience...

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  91. Very nice post. I've been for women's rights most of my life, and haven't seen cause to be against a woman killing what's in her body. I've figured it's a "woman's issue." But the comparison of sexual violence by men against women, and sexual violence by women against the baby that would grow to life from them... I get that. Thank you.

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  92. I respect your pro life views, but you don't seem to be very well informed about rapists or pregnancy or adoption.

    Based on my experience as a public defender who's represented, and become acquainted with, numerous rapists over the years, I don't find your description of "the typical rapist" to be even remotely recognizable.

    When you discuss pregnancy, you ignore two basic problems:
    1. In the first few days after conception (during which a rape victim would normally seek medical treatment including an abortifacient), the fertilized ovum is merely a ball of undifferentiated cells. The cells which will eventually develop into a child (if conception isn't interrupted) have not yet become distinguishable from the cells which will develop into the placenta.
    It's really hard for most of us to see the destruction of this undifferentiated mass of cells as "reproductive violence" or as the equivalent of killing a baby.

    2. Things change as the pregnancy progresses. Many and I think most pregnant women gradually develop a profound psychological bond with the developing fetus - starting in about the third month, we can feel it move within us and from that point forward we are extremely conscious of its presence and its development as an independent living creature - my baby, my child. So saying, "Just carry it to term and then give it up for adoption if you don't want it, what's the problem?" indicates a failure to grasp this reality.

    3. Also, as an economist, you should know better than to assume that, if women in the U.S. were to stop having abortions, there would be an adoptive home for every unwanted baby. Even today, disabled or otherwise "undesirable" babies are not adoptable. And if abortions ceased, the supply of available babies would increase very rapidly. Do we have any reason to believe the supply of adoptive parents would increase in proportion?

    Your ideas on abortion need more thought (and more research, to gather data on issues such as: is the number of abortions greater than, equal to, or less than the number of would be adoptive parents who are currently unable to adopt due to lack of a suitable baby?)

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  93. Whew! Where to start? Forgive me if this rambles somewhat.

    1. As far as we know and for the most part, lions and most other animals (save perhaps cetaceans) do not have any moral imperative or strictures for their behaviors as do humans. So the comparison IMO seems faulty save in the strictest and remotest biological sense.

    2. The compulsion of male humans to rape is an aberrant act of self-empowerment, agreed. I follow your logic, as reproduction (self-replication) is one (if not the) driving force of men (all life), but I must say that idea of rape, as a shortcut to the human reproduction "ritual" as it were is quite a stretch. I doubt that reproduction is in the conscious mind of a typical rapist (DSK anyone?)

    3. From what I understand in most cases (in the developed world) the choice to abort is made out of a subjective sense of convenience and the pregnancies, the result of poor judgment and/or ignorance (mostly chosen by the relatively affluent and as such, essentially a last ditch form of birth control; the aspect that irks me the most). This, as opposed to those resulting from rape, those posing an imminent physical threat to the mother's life, or those wild cards where prophylactic methods were ineffectual. On the other hand, do we want children coming into the world where they seriously handicapped or unwanted? What are the in-utero, bio-chemical (stress related/energetic) effects on the embryo/fetus from this unwanted condition and as well on the psyche and life of the mother, on society.

    That said, I can't help but view it (abortion) as a shoddy remedy for an otherwise dare I say, miraculous process (sex, conception, child rearing). But then again it seems that increasingly, life is cheap and personal responsibility seems to have morphed into or been encumbered by some ubiquitous form of narcissism.

    4. Most women I know who have chosen abortions, regardless of the circumstances, harbor not a small amount of trauma and/or regret over the process/decision, even when they perceive it to be in their or the unborn’s best interest. As for those who do not, they are either lying or as such I’m not sure I would want to know them.

    5. The whole subject appears to be about a choice of a lesser of two evils (which is always a slippery slope). If abortion were to become illegal, this alone would do nil to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Do we want to return to the clandestine arrangements of the past? Not likely.

    6. There are long used herbal remedies which induce spontaneous abortions or miscarriages. More humane for mother and unborn? Perhaps.

    8. When is the unborn considered a person? Depends on who you ask.

    9. I might accept legislation making abortions illegal if they included the abolition of the death penalty, the enforcement of other existing laws (backed by real science) regarding human health and well being such as how the President goes about committing troops to warfare and justifies the invasion/destruction of sovereign states and their peoples (including the unborn)for instance...

    I could go on ad nauseum.

    Suffice to say you’ve opened a can of worms here Gonzo.

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  94. You'll all be pro-abortion (i.e. forced abortions) when there are ten billion people on this planet competing for food and water. Try raping me and you'll find my gun jammed up your ass and me squeezing the trigger repeatedly. Bring it on, baby!

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  95. I would agree to your logic only if state would also sponsor a woman to take on the pregnancy. This woman would of course be bearing the pregnancy professionally.

    The Raped woman should not be forced to bear the child. This is not momentary inconvenience. You think it is but, you are not a woman. You haven't given birth. Take a consensus of the raped women whether they want the child. Lets see what they think. Why shouldn't they decide, it is after all their own body that is going to feed the baby? Why force your morals on them?

    I think ideals like this are things that push a country in the ground. They don't focus on things that are important, but focus on forcing the people to comply with arbitrary rules.

    Let people decide for themselves what they want to do about their unborn baby.

    Uncontrolled moralizing is what goes into schools prohibiting play time for the child, because the child may get hurt. Meanwhile sponsoring bully behavior.

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  96. Gonzalo,

    It seems to me you "knew" that abortion was wrong (perhaps influenced by your Catholic faith), and then went about creating this theory to support your beliefs; beliefs stand on a structure of emotions.

    It all boils down to deciding when a bunch of cells are human. Is using a condom a crime because a human being would have been created otherwise? Is not having sex a crime because of all the humans that could have been created?

    Regards,
    Mauricio

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  97. GL -

    Although you are obviously a very bright guy, and your insights on economics have some merit, I think you are arguing your beliefs here, not some "objective" truth.

    First of all, I cannot believe you can claim that a woman having to carry a fetus inside of her for 9 months that was created against her will by some scumbag of a guy who raped her, is merely a "momentary inconvience." I would imagine you would be hard-pressed to find even 1 woman (even if she is anti-abortion) who would agree with that claim.

    Secondly, it appears that you are claiming that abortion should be illegal because it is an "unjustified, unwarranted act of violence." Well, yeah, but it is a violent act against a clump of cells that many/most people would not call "human." I mean, if you decide to get some plastic surgery to remove a clump of cells on/in your body, that might be "unwarranted violence" against those cells, but I doubt anyone would want to make that illegal.

    So yes, it does come down to the question of whether those cells are "human", a "person", or what-have-you... Right?? And that seems to come down to a question of personal belief, not one that will ever be "objectively" decided by agreed-upon standards.

    I wonder why I took the time to write this - given this post is over a year old... Guess I like your writing, and even though I disagree with you, I value the effort you have put into your writings, and wanted to contribute a few thoughts back.... Wonder if you'll ever see them.

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GL