Summary: 17th Gentle Thinkers Debate (Abortion)

“In the presidential debates last year in the USA, the Republican party expressed their wish to make abortion illegal once more, with an exception for cases where pregnancy was the result of rape or abuse. Do you think this line of reasoning makes sense? Is it enforceable? Is this even an issue that warrants government involvement?”

Note: This summary is based and interpreted from notes taken during the debate and may contain errors. If you wish to correct, be attributed to or contribute content, please contact me or post a comment.

Update 23/11/13: Additions about enforced abortion and the safe practise of abortion from Thor May.

More summaries can be found via the Summary Index.


 

  • Reading list and introductory essay by Thor May

  • The legality or criminality of abortion doesn’t influence the number of procedures performed. It only affects the safety of it.

  • Abortions should be legal to increase the accessibility of having the procedure done in safe conditions by trained medical practitioners.

  • A potent argument against abortion in the past was that it was medically unsafe. This is no longer true.

  • Government involvement would be necessary to ensure the regulation of legal abortions.

  • Being pregnant is different from raising an infant. Once born, adoption and other avenues enable people to opt not to bear the burden of raising a child. Which means that arguments for care of an infant are not relevant to discussions about abortion. This debate is really about the 9 months of pregnancy.

  • We have systems in place for infant (premature or full term) care if the mother chooses to relinquish the child after birth but we don’t have similar systems for aborted foetuses.

  • The rights of the mother, father and the foetus make this a difficult topic to develop a definite answer.

  • Most of the group agreed that abortion is the choice of the female as she is the primary stakeholder in this scenario.

  • One member argued that a male should have input regarding the decision to abort if both partners had full knowledge of the consequences and both consented to the sexual intercourse that resulted in the pregnancy.

  • Some thought that it would be only right for men to also have an equivalent option, where he lets the female know that, whether she to keeps the child or not, he has chosen not to be a father in any parental, social, financial or legal sense. And she can use this to inform her decision on whether or not to abort, adopt, etc. Otherwise, men can similarly be trapped in unexpected circumstances.

  • Some members noted that while there are some cultures or groups that act as large families who would care for an abandoned child, not all cultures would be willing to do this.

  • Enforced abortion : Mostly outside of the Australian context, and notably but not only in China, very large numbers of women have historically been subject to forced abortions. Some reasons for enforced abortion have included a) national population control policies; b) gender preferences for foetuses; c) eugenic policies or beliefs; d) religious belief. The meetup members would generally concur that enforced abortion was undesirable.

Interesting questions posed by the group:

  • Why do some countries/cultures/states/groups have more liberal laws than others?

  • Do we need doctors to publically declare they don’t do abortion referrals?

  • Is there a hypocrisy between the views of abortion, capital punishment and deployment of soldiers held by a person who has strong religious beliefs (particularly ones concerning the sanctity of life)?

  • Can we use religion as a means of delivering beneficial messages throughout society?

Additional content covered by the debate:

China’s One Child policy and its “success”

Ensoulment [Wikipedia]

The Oden Device [Sydney Morning Herald]


More summaries can be found via the Summary Index.

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One thought on “Summary: 17th Gentle Thinkers Debate (Abortion)

  1. 1, Enforced abortion: (this did come up in the debate) : Mostly outside of the Australian context, and notably but not only in China, very large numbers of women have historically been subject to forced abortions. Some reasons for enforced abortion have included a) national population control policies; b) gender preferences for foetuses;; c) eugenic policies or beliefs; d) religious belief. The meetup members would generally concur that enforced abortion was undesirable.

    2. A potent argument against abortion in the past was that it was medically unsafe. This is no longer true.

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