Fetal pain is a lie

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Snuckles
Fetal pain is a lie

Quote:
Since Nebraska first jump-started the trend back in 2010, close to a dozen state legislatures across the country have passed laws banning abortion at 20 weeks. Most of these restrictions are given grave-sounding titles like the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” or some near-identical riff on the words “fetal,” “pain” and “protection.” All of them, no matter what they’re called, rest on the stated premise that a fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks, and that this is a sufficient justification to ban all abortions after this gestational stage.

But “fetal pain” in the popular discourse is a nebulous concept, one that lawmakers like Jodie Laubenberg, Trent Franks and others haven’t much bothered to define or help ground in available medical evidence.

Probably because there really isn’t any. The limited research used to support such claims has been refuted as pseudoscience by both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Not to mention smaller studies from researchers at Harvard University, University College London and elsewhere.)

[url=http://www.salon.com/2013/08/07/fetal_pain_is_a_lie_how_phony_science_to... pain is a lie: How phony science took over the abortion debate[/url]

Francesca Allan

I thought it was supposed to be about 24 weeks.

Ghislaine

whether they feel pain or not is a diversion and irrelevant. It is still a part of a woman's body and it is up to her what she does with her own body. The issue in Canada with 20+week abortions is access. It is nearly impossible to find a doctor willing to perform one if a woman's needs it - and often women travel to the States. How are doctors allowed to refused to perform a legitimate health service for women?

Ghislaine

meant to add that pro-choicers need to stop getting trapped by pro-lifers into these arguments, which only validates their women-hating agenda. 

Unionist

What Ghislaine said.

6079_Smith_W

Yup. Getting duped into arguing the contrary side of this only makes one sound like a baby butcher and an easy target. Anyone who has actually had to consider abortion knows it is a lie.

It's not like choice isn't under assault in Canada, but at least the Supreme Court has correctly ruled where the bottom line lies - with the woman who is carrying that pregnancy.

Sineed

The real failure of the pro-life argument lies in their refusal to acknowledge how the Canadian model actually results in fewer abortions. In places where abortions are readily available, fewer abortions occur. If they were really about the poor babies, that should end the argument right there.

Francesca Allan

Ghislaine wrote:

whether they feel pain or not is a diversion and irrelevant.

I don't think so. If fetuses feel pain at a certain stage of development, then anaesthesia should be used prior to abortions at and after that point in a pregnancy. What's the downside to that? It's still the woman's choice (and I am firmly pro-choice) but it would prevent needless suffering of a non-person but certainly a homo sapiens. Or, never mind the homo sapiens bit, just avoiding the suffering of any creature seems worthwhile.

Sineed

Francesca Allan wrote:

Ghislaine wrote:

whether they feel pain or not is a diversion and irrelevant.

I don't think so. If fetuses feel pain at a certain stage of development, then anaesthesia should be used prior to abortions at and after that point in a pregnancy. What's the downside to that? It's still the woman's choice (and I am firmly pro-choice) but it would prevent needless suffering of a non-person but certainly a homo sapiens. Or, never mind the homo sapiens bit, just avoiding the suffering of any creature seems worthwhile.

The fact of the matter is, 2nd term abortions are usually performed with a general anaesthetic that readily crosses the placenta and enters the fetus. 

Given how obsessed anti-choicers are with abortion, no doubt they are fully aware that the procedure for late-term abortions already anaesthetizes the fetus, just as they are aware that late-term abortions represent a tiny minority of all abortions, usually where the pregnancy is desired but the fetus has been discovered to have non-survivable birth defects. 

Unionist

Methinks Snuckles - who never ever comments on the threads s/he opens - has scored another triumph! Eight (8) posts (9 counting this one) on a non-issue, and re-launching the "debate" over abortion - even though everyone seems to be on the same side!

You see, once you say, "well, 2nd term abortions usually involve a general anaesthetic", you're trapped. What if the woman doesn't want a general anaesthetic, or it's medically contraindicated for some reason. Will the foetus then feel pain? Do "we" force the woman to have an anaesthetic? Do we deny her right to an abortion if she won't agree to be anaesthetized!?

Ah, the possibilities!! I suggest this thread be closed before we start citing scientific studies about how to "protect the foetus" while still defending women's right to choose. Because, you see, in the final analysis, and I really hate to point this out, but abortion and protecting the foetus are fundamentally incompatible notions. So let's not get sucked into that U.S.-style conversation, please.

 

6079_Smith_W

And add suppression and censorship to the list of accusations? That would be the gravy on the cake. Seeing as it has already been kicked around, and I doubt that we are at the edge of some raging debate, better to just consider it discussed and let it fade away, IMO.

Sineed

I disagree, U. The "just ignore them and they'll go away" tactic has proved to be a monumental failure in preventing the spread of pseudoscience, for instance. The rise of the anti-vaccine movement has been bolstered by the attitude that "These people are too stupid to argue with," and now we have rising rates of people choosing to leave their kids vulnerable to polio, tetanus, hepatitis, encephalitis, meningitis, and so forth.

And Francesca's comments show how it's not a non-issue. Sure, the anti-choicers are doing nothing more than throwing their shit against the wall to see what sticks, but instead of just saying, you're feeding the anti-woman trolls, we can say, like the article does, that a fetus doesn't have a well-developed-enough nervous system to feel pain until around 26 weeks, past the point of a vast majority of abortions.

True, you're not going to convert any zealots. But if you don't debunk the lies, you're handing the zealots the means by which they may sway the fence-sitters.

The battle has not been won. It continues.

Unionist

So Sineed, if a woman doesn't want a general, how does that affect your argument in #8?

And I never said the battle had been won. I'm really just suggesting we don't pretend that issues which may be controversial in the United States or Saudi Arabia are actually worth taking on in Canada. Next we'll be discussing some U.S. "study" which says adopted kids of same-sex couples tend to be more gluten intolerant.

I guess what I'm saying is that we should concentrate on the battles that really matter here, in our society. Maybe you had heard of the "fetal pain" scandal before. I hadn't. Why give it currency?

 

Sineed

Unionist wrote:
So Sineed, if a woman doesn't want a general, how does that affect your argument in #8?

It's a surgical procedure that causes intense pain. Some sort of anaesthesia is required. And if someone says, what about those women who opt for epidurals, you call them out for slippery slope. 

Like I said, it's not going to work on the zealots. 

Unionist wrote:
I'm really just suggesting we don't pretend that issues which may be controversial in the United States or Saudi Arabia are actually worth taking on in Canada.

Reasonable, and I agree. But if someone like Francesca reads about these things and responds to them, we can say, we got this; here's what the facts are. I agree that we need to pick our battles, that there are larger issues afoot in Canada, but there are a small number of these zealots in this country, be they anti-gay Christian fundamentalists or anti-choicers, and I think it's a mistake to ignore them when they try to rekindle debates they already have long since lost.

Some of these anti-choice homophobic fundamentalist Christians in Canada are in government. We ignore them at our peril.

 

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

As I've said...SoCons are a cancer....They must go at all costs.....They are far more dangerous than the Liberals.

6079_Smith_W

alan smithee wrote:

As I've said...SoCons are a cancer....They must go at all costs.....They are far more dangerous than the Liberals.

Sure. But while some liberal (small-L) thinkers might not fall for this, they might just fall for another wedge issue like sex-selective abortion. Not everyone who is conflicted on this is a right-wing idealogue.  Sineed is right about meeting this head on.

 

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

The pseudo-science approach has been on the rise for the last two decades, supplanting the plain old, "abortion is murder" morality cry of the past, and it has had incredible traction in the US. So I wholly agree that we have to be vigilant and ready to attack any of the quasi-medical justifications for curtailing abortion rights anti-choicers come up with head on.

It's not just in the US - these arguments based on dicey scientific studies definitely are seeping into our public discourse thanks to the socons pseudo-legitimacy in Parliament. Every single bogus backbencher bill put forward by the Harper government has the incremental effect of making the discussion of whether there needs to be some restrictions legitimate. Just last summer, the CBC had a whole morning of one program after another reporting on the rise of sex-selection abortions in Canada.

Unionist

Yes. But if we argue that "aw well, y'know, foetuses don't really feel pain", we're done.

Even the Criminal Code doesn't recognize foetuses as human beings. Even the Supreme Court said to Parliament, strike down the law, and we're not telling you to replace it with anything. And we, the progressive forces, are supposed to defend women's ownership of their own body by debating details about medical procedures that no ordinary person really understands? Or try to argue the cultural/religious merits of sex-selection abortions, instead of just sticking to the fundamental slogan of justice and equality that got us to where we are today : "Keep your hands off my body!"?

If we engage these "debates", women's gains will be put at risk.

Maysie Maysie's picture

What Ghislaine said:

Ghislaine wrote:
 whether they feel pain or not is a diversion and irrelevant. It is still a part of a woman's body and it is up to her what she does with her own body.

Diversion! Don't look directly at the light! All these idiot talking points are a smokescreen for controlling women's bodies. That's all. Please keep moving, nothing to see here.

Now, let's have a party thread!

Unionist wrote:
 Next we'll be discussing some U.S. "study" which says adopted kids of same-sex couples tend to be more gluten intolerant.

My parents were heterosexual and I can't stand that goddamn gluten.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Enough of the side-tracking about pseudo-science too. This has nothing to do with that and I'm offended it's being used as a trojan horse in this thread.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

I agree that all the anti-choice points are irrelevant and would love to move on, giving them absolutely no credibility. Unfortunately, our current government and the media still feel like they have to haul out every possible "evidence" or excuse to curtail women's reproductive freedoms.

All I advocate is keeping one eye wide open on what's going on. Unfortunately, these groups have more funding than one would think possible, and that in of itself is frightening.

6079_Smith_W

I don't think anyone here is calling for a debate. I think most of us know it's contrary to policy anyway, and my first reaction here was to resist falling into that.

But again, I think Sineed is right. Taking the time to point out concisely that crap is crap, and why it is crap - without getting into a wrestling match with fools -  can sometimes be a bit more instructive than rolling out the police tape and geiger counters and clearing the area. And it raises a bit less suspicion from some who might have honest questions.

But anyway, I think I'm done.

Francesca Allan

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Sure. But while some liberal (small-L) thinkers might not fall for this, they might just fall for another wedge issue like sex-selective abortion. Not everyone who is conflicted on this is a right-wing idealogue.  Sineed is right about meeting this head on.

Indeed. Sex-selective abortion is repulsive for reasons that have nothing to do with the pro-choice/life argument. I don't see myself "falling for" anything in holding this view.

Ghislaine

francesca, why is sex-selective abortion repulsive and abortion for another reason no repulsive? You do not get to make that call. Only for your own pregnancies. Only the pregnant woman can determine what is right for her. 

Francesca Allan

Ghislaine wrote:

francesca, why is sex-selective abortion repulsive and abortion for another reason no repulsive?

Because terminating a pregnancy because you don't want a girl is repugnant.

Ghislaine wrote:

You do not get to make that call.

I know that. I'm not in charge of which abortions are right nor would I want to be in charge of this. I can, however, express my revulsion. 

Ghislaine wrote:

Only the pregnant woman can determine what is right for her. 

Well, I would suggest that aborting a female fetus so you can go for the gold and have an almighty male isn't right. On the other hand, if you're that fucked up, maybe you shouldn't be raising a girl.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Get rid of patriarchal societies that value men over women, and sex selection will cease to exist. Circumstances for outcomes of male and female children are better here than in other parts of the world, and a such, reflected in the low number of sex selection abortions that occur in Canada (not that any have beeen proven, only the taint of racist assumptions).

Bottom line, Ghislaine is absolutely right. Whatever reason a woman has to terminate a pregnancy is none of our business. FULL STOP.

Ripple

I must admit, I'm not entirely sure I know what gluten is, Maysie, but I know I love it!

Unionist

laine lowe wrote:

Get rid of patriarchal societies that value men over women, and sex selection will cease to exist.

Although I agree wholeheartedly, I wouldn't even engage the argument to the extent of saying that. Why does our society need a conversation on whether sex-selection abortion is right, wrong, or indifferent? Only the women-haters benefit from that.

Quote:
Bottom line, Ghislaine is absolutely right. Whatever reason a woman has to terminate a pregnancy is none of our business. FULL STOP.

That's what I would say.

Otherwise it never ends. Example: How about abortion in case of a foetus with so-called "birth defects"? Should that be "allowed"? Should it depend on the nature and extent of the "defects" (which, of course, would be an analysis made by someone other than the woman)? Aren't "we" facilitating discrimination on the basis of disability?

Once the motive of the woman is brought into the discussion, the limits on freedom will inevitably show their heads as well.

 

6079_Smith_W

Francesca Allan wrote:

Indeed. Sex-selective abortion is repulsive for reasons that have nothing to do with the pro-choice/life argument. I don't see myself "falling for" anything in holding this view.

Evidently you are wiser than the former editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, who argued in an editorial not too long ago that doctors should take public policy into their own hands and refuse abortion requests based on that. It is also, very likely the next tactic Harper's crew will use to try and debate choice in the H of C.

Whether you are fooled or not, it is still a wedge issue, just like the one at the top of this thread.

(edit)

And I should add that sex selection - in its context as a wedge against choice and making that distinction - was at the time discussed at length here. When something like this hits the floor of the commons are we also supposed to pretend it isn't there?

Unionist

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Evidently you are wiser than the former editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, who argued in an editorial not too long ago that doctors should take public policy into their own hands and refuse abortion requests based on that.

That's actually false.

You've obviously confused a discussion about whether or when to disclose the sex of a foetus, which is quite radically different from whether or not to respect a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

You really believe there's an official medical association in Canada, or its journal, which would advocate denying abortion on demand? No, I'm not talking about the Dutch Reformed Islamic Evangelist Chassidic Opus Dei Physicians Association.

There is no debate in this country about whether or not to "allow" a woman to have an abortion based on her motives - except among those women-hating forces who oppose abortion, period. Please let us not lower ourselves to having such conversations here.

 

6079_Smith_W

You're right Unionist, thanks, and excuse me. It has been awhile since we discussed it here.

And that was my actual point - that we discussed it, and that sometimes there is good reason to do so. Can you put your schoolteacher's cane back on the shelf, please?

But if I was technically mistaken, the upshot is the same - preventing choice, and refusing a woman's request for medical information about her own body. I also recall that the practicewas referred to in the journal, and even in the CBC as "feticide" - something that doesn't exist here, and is more in keeping with a right-wing religious interpretation than Canadian law.

So sorry, but we're already down to that level in some respects. Pick the cane back up, if you think the remedy is to make everyone shut up about it.

Anyway, I won't link to the actual article directly, but evidently the Canadian Women's Health Network didn't mind ringing the alarm bells about it. They linked to it, and pointed out how it was inconsistent with standard obstetric practice:

http://www.cwhn.ca/en/node/44259

Unionist

6079_Smith_W wrote:
Can you put your schoolteacher's cane back on the shelf, please?

Sure, if you promise to behave.

Quote:
But if I was technically mistaken, the upshot is the same - preventing choice, and refusing a woman's request for medical information about her own body.

Women have an inalienable right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to term or not. Whether our health care system owes them an obligation to disclose to them, on demand, whether their foetus is male or of African descent or hearing-impaired - that's a separate discussion, with obviously different viewpoints being expressed in our country.

Quote:
Anyway, I won't link to the actual article directly, but evidently the Canadian Women's Health Network didn't mind ringing the alarm bells about it. They linked to it, and pointed out how it was inconsistent with standard obstetric practice:

http://www.cwhn.ca/en/node/44259

You must be reading a different text than me. Where exactly, in the page you linked, did they "ring the alarm bells" - or even "point out" anything? They merely reported on the CMAJ editorial, and then on the response of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists - besides providing several other links from the media. Where - exactly - did you see them express a point of view on this debate??

I'm still keeping the cane handy. We'll teach proper research, citation, and footnote skills if it takes corporal punishment. Cool

[edited]

6079_Smith_W

They publicized it, and pointed out how it the association of gynecologists and obstetricians were of a different opinion. Again, my point was that they had no problem discussing the issue. Fall back on the myth of objectivity, if you wish.

And actually, the notion that all Canadian women have the right to choose is true only on paper, so crowing about it is a bit hollow.

It certainly does nothing to stop the fact that choice is just as much under attack as it ever was, whether it be through intimidation, breaking rules, lying, or simply not providing the procedure, as is the case in P.E.I. Not everyone has the money or freedom to take time off for a long journey, after all. The proposal made last year by the CMAJ was no different, and deserved to be called out. Same with the proposed legislation about so-called "unborn victims of crime". Same with this thing about pain.

Even at the time the Supreme Court made the ruling on a woman's right to choose, they left questions about abortion unaddressed, and explicitly said so. We ignore that fact at our peril.

 

Unionist

6079_Smith_W wrote:

They publicized it, and pointed out how it the association of gynecologists and obstetricians were of a different opinion. Again, my point was that they had no problem discussing the issue. Fall back on the myth of objectivity, if you wish.

I have no problem discussing the issue either. Sex selection is repugnant. Right to abortion is inalienable. What contradiction do you see there?

The Canadian Women's Health Network, which staunchly defends women's right to choose, has taken no position that I'm aware of on the issue of disclosure. You were wrong to insinuate that they had.

Quote:

Even at the time the Supreme Court made the ruling on a woman's right to choose, they left questions about abortion unaddressed, and explicitly said so. We ignore that fact at our peril.

What questions were those? I want to ensure that I don't suffer peril through sheer ignorance.

The Supreme Court was called upon to determine whether the Criminal Code provision was constitutional. They found that it was not. I don't know what else they said, but who cares?

 

 

6079_Smith_W

Read it, Unionist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_Canada

Two dissenting judges made the correct point that  “The proposition that women enjoy a constitutional right to have an abortion is devoid of support in the language of s. 7 of the Charter or any other section.”

They struck down the abortion law on the technical point of a woman's right to choose, and declined to hear Joe Borowski's case about personhood. They did not rule on the right to have an abortion, a government could recriminalize it using the notwithstanding clause, and there were attempts to pass an abortion law after the ruling.

And that's the whole reason why they can get away with a backdoor assault on choice by trying to withhold information and services.

Right now a lot of this hangs not just on the Supreme Court decision, but on the fact that Canadian law is based on the "born alive" rule. There is no guarantee that will not change. As such, there is every reason to stay vigilant on this issue.

And as for the motives of of the Canadian Women's Health Network, we'll just have to disagree on why they decided to publicize the issue.

 

Unionist

Yeah, I understand extremely well that Parliament can re-criminalize abortion if they want to. That's why we should vigorously oppose any discussion that doesn't recognize women's right to choose as being fundamental. In particular, we should not import U.S. ultra-right conversations that don't even have any traction in Canada yet (foetal pain, for crissakes).

As for the Women's Health Network, we're not disagreed about anything. You simply attributed a motive and a position to them which they themselves have not expressed. I prefer to wait and listen.

 

 

quizzical

6079_Smith_W wrote:
Read it, Unionist.

Two dissenting judges made the correct point that  “The proposition that women enjoy a constitutional right to have an abortion is devoid of support in the language of s. 7 of the Charter or any other section.”

they made the correct point dissenting against other judges who stated s7 supports a woman's right of choice is that what you're sayin? really?

your link actually says:

"In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada decision .... declared this entire section to be of no force or effect because it was held to violate section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 7 states that: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

this means there can be NO abortion laws  'cause everyone 'including women' have the right to life liberty and security of person even if death of another is the result.

there's NO legistlative vacuum even though whoever wrote the wiki article says there is. musta been a man or a anti-choicer who wrote  it. it's pretty fuckin simple: women cannot be forced to be slaves and you can't legislate slavery for us. we need wiki to change the writing in it to clarify!!!!!!

you make it sound like there's wiggle room. there isn't. if you're sayin that i feel you're being a false ally and trying to spin something else and having a dialogue contrary to pro-choice reality. are you?

6079_Smith_W

I am saying that we can talk about the principle of a woman's right to choose all we want, but the fact is the legal foundation  is not as secure as we might imagine it to be.

Just saying that the right to choose is enshrined  in law is no absolute defense against the threats to that right that are still very real.

quizzical

the legal foundation is secure.

the pressure imposed upon society and Drs by anti-human righters spreading their intimidation and lies is what we've always defended against. just like i'm doin now. nothin new here or there.

Bacchus

So you are saying smith is a false ally trying to intimidate?   And generally rights end when it can cause the death of others actually, tho Im not saying anything about the fetus as a person or not, just that your statement about rights being enshrined even if they cause the death of others is false

quizzical

read section 7  it's what it says

Bacchus

Then its wrong and would be defeated in any court battle

6079_Smith_W

I didn't bring it up to get into a theoretical discussion about competing rights, and no, a fetus is not a person under Canadian Law.

But if he wished to do so, and had enough power to whip his caucus, our PM could criminalize abortion in the next legislative session, using the notwithstanding clause. I take no pleasure in pointing that out. I only do so because the charter protection of women's rights, and abortion's current legal status are not 100% secure.

 

MegB

6079_Smith_W wrote:

I didn't bring it up to get into a theoretical discussion about competing rights, and no, a fetus is not a person under Canadian Law.

But if he wished to do so, and had enough power to whip his caucus, our PM could criminalize abortion in the next legislative session, using the notwithstanding clause. I take no pleasure in pointing that out. I only do so because the charter protection of women's rights, and abortion's current legal status are not 100% secure.

 

Been done, under the last majority that the CPC had under Brian Mulroney. Failed, largely due to public opposition.

quizzical

Bacchus wrote:
Then its wrong and would be defeated in any court battle

you're a SCC justice or a human rights lawyer are ya now? you and i both know it's just your opinion and not much else.

and no it wouldn't be or it would've been done.

the government or anti-human righters can't compell a woman to give her life into the service of another even if the result for the other is death. you really think anyone is going to challenge the human rights section outlining it do you?! it would have super far reaching consequences for men too.