Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Over at Bitch Ph.D. they had a really good discussion on Obama's recent statement removing mental health from consideration when a woman decides to have a late abortion. In other words, if I said to a doctor that I cannot be remain pregnant because the idea of being pregnant is so repugnant to me my mind will split, then my reason isn't 'enough' to justify having one, presumably because my 'health' isn't in danger.

The discussion is cogent, varied and smart. I especially liked one of the comments of ProfessorDarkHeart because it made me step back from my usual position and really think about some nuances:

"Of course this is true; legislating against abortion in any way imposes a burden upon the mother. But I guess I don't see why in this one area of the law the standard should be that NO burden should be imposed upon the individual rather than no UNREASONABLE burden. The latter standard already limits our power over our bodies in a lot of ways. We can't legally sell our organs, for instance, or commit suicide; those are limitations on our personal autonomy, but it's widely agreed upon that they are reasonable ones that serve legitimate state interests. Of course, in a patriarchal state, the law is likely to take the least liberal view possible of women's autonomy; but I think it's a legitimate feminist goal to work to broaden society's ideas about the scope of that autonomy, as opposed to insisting that it lies outside the law altogether. The latter argument is a far more libertarian one than Roe itself makes, and isn't very likely to find a place in American jurisprudence anytime soon. Since Roe asks states to balance women's rights to privacy and due process against a state interest in protecting potential fetal life, I think it's important for feminists to try to help define where that state interest might begin (and to define it as conservatively as possible); otherwise, the only propositions about how to define fetal rights will be coming, as they are now, from the right. Whether we like it or not, the state's interest in protecting fetal life is enshrined in Roe, and unless we can articulate a pro-choice position that allows for that interest, we'll be talking outside the framework of existing law as the religious right chips away at choice from within it, as they've been doing so successfully in recent decades."

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