From the archives: Pro Choice Discussion – Consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy

Consent to sex does not equal consent to pregnancy

Let this be a lesson to you: always try to save anything important. Especially if it’s in writing, you never know when you might need it and what you might lose by not saving it.

Such was the case with this entertaining discussion on Instagram. The discussion was about whether consent to sex is a consent to pregnancy. Long story short, I posted the image above on Instagram:

During this discussion this person blocked my account, so this means I cannot see her account anymore and cannot reply to her. The only way to continue discussion would be for me to use a secondary account. And that is beyond pathetic, so I will not do that.

So, in case I’m not making myself clear: account is not deleted, it’s still there, it’s that entangledlife account is blocked from seeing her posts anymore. The original post is still there in case anyone’s interested.

I decided just to copy the points that I made there in effort to both preserve the arguments I had at the time and to potentially help Pro Choice visitors of this site with any such discussions they might have.

So, it started with this woman trying to refute what was written on the image, with something like “if you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex.”, to which I replied:

People have the right to non procreative sex.

To which she replied basically that the only use of sex is procreation.

I argued that even animals have other uses for sex, besides procreation:

even some animals also have other uses for sex besides procreation.

actually we humans are the fifth ape. Did god say anything about that "purpose" by any chance? :)

After this she was saying again that we’re not animals and that “it’s what it’s for”. Here are some points about the alleged purpose of sex I had at that time:

Sex also has a purpose of expressing intimacy, and psychological health. And yes, pleasure. By proclaiming that it does not effectively almost means if you don't want a baby you can't have sex, which is taking away human rights.

Just because something can happen does not mean that you give consent for it to happen. Take for example ... Walking alone at night. You do not give consent to be robbed. It's not a contract. And even if it were, which is not, you still need to have a right to change your mind. Third, a fetus is not a person. It is a potential human. As such it cannot possibly have more rights than a woman who is actually a real person.

Very religious people have a tendency to talk about purpose in everything, that’s another point I had …

The thing is, every time you mention purpose it seems that you mean that “god intended it that way” or something similar religious people say. This then would be stupid. We are made by our genes and yes, they "want" to use sex to go into the next body. Nobody is denying that. But sex also has psychological and sociological meaning, not only in humans, but also in animals. Google for bonobos for example to see. It's not that god made sex for procreation and we messed it up. It's that we need sex for lots of reasons. People blow themselves up in the promise of sex with virgins in heaven. Obviously, it's also important for other things, like mental health. Because contraceptives are legal by the same token it is legal to have non-procreative sex. If you say that saying yes to sex automatically means saying yes to a baby this means you want to take away from those human rights. This is not a moral thing to do. You are talking like it's a written contract. If it was so, vasectomy would be forbidden because it enables sex without the possibility of a baby.

Consent to sex can also be provisional. It's in part based on expectation of not getting pregnant, same as walking alone at night is based on the expectation of not being robbed. Consent is given based on facts that contraceptives exist, based on the fact that abortion exists as damage control, if contraceptives fail, which takes us back to the human right of non-procreative sex. What you're saying sounds like that a woman merely by having sex becomes responsible for having a baby. Don't you see how sexist that is? A fetus is a potential human being because it requires a woman and it cannot possibly be a person. By law, a person is born. The fetus can be spontaneously aborted and miscarried. This means it depends on a woman. However cruel it may seem, fetus simply cannot have the same (or higher) rights than the real persons who have a right to decide whether to subject their body and beyond to the lasting consequences of pregnancy.

After this argument turned basically into matters of pain, is a fetus human, the right to do “murder”, for sure, for fundamentalists when it comes to abortion there’s no difference between a legal medical procedure and shooting someone. So, here it goes …

If you talk from a science point of view, you're actually cherry-picking things you like and ignoring things you don't like. For example, there's no evidence that fetus can feel pain before week 25-27 (sources vary), and even later is doubtful. In this case abortion cannot possibly cause more suffering than for example cow has in the slaughterhouse.

You are also ignoring evidence that sex has other benefits / uses and that people need it for mental health. What I'm hearing from you sounds like: "Tough shit. She shouldn't have spread her legs" and this has nothing to do with "pro-life" but it has to do with trying to put women in their place. If you say that abortion should be denied even when contraceptives fail this is equivalent with punishing a woman for having sex, while men have no such problems. Finally, yes, fetus may be a "human being" and even that is a stretch, because it comes down to how you define it ... IMO it's only a potential to be human being, but anyway, it cannot possibly be a person.

During pregnancy HUGE changes happen to the embryo? Is it a person at every stage? This would make no sense. Persons have all kinds of rights, like to religion, to speech, to vote... But most of all it can survive without taking resources from another person's body. Fetus cannot have any of that and it cannot survive without another body.

I also felt she was cherry-picking what science says, so I made a point about that:

I also feel you're missing points. I said that when discussing abortion we cannot ignore the fact that fetus cannot feel pain before week 25 and that probably even after that it's nothing compared with cows in the slaughterhouse which most certainly can feel real pain. And most abortions are done way, way before that, before week 12. The number of abortions after first trimester is small.

Fetus is human in the sense it's not a frog, but a being with human genes, but it's not a human being (or a person, if you will) in every stage. During pregnancy huge changes happen. Specific functions appear at certain times, so it cannot possibly be the same as a born baby or a woman. Lots of embryos and even fetuses are spontaneously aborted or rejected by the woman's body, so it's logical that embryo and fetus cannot possibly be the same as you. The whole concept is actually ridiculous as fetus doesn't just depend on a woman, it is inside of her, meaning it is not and cannot be a completely separate entity.

The discussion touched briefly on adoption, and while I do agree that adoption is admirable, ultimately there can be other reasons for wanting an abortion. It’s not simply the case that adoption can replace abortion.

Whatever woman eats, drinks etc. has an impact and changes the development, which means that fetus is not a "complete" human being and it possibly cannot have the same rights as a person whose body it "needs to use".

The bottom line is that fetus does not have these kinds of rights and it cannot have them, at last not without savagely restricting the rights of a woman. It might seem cruel to you, but these are just the facts. A person is Born. You seem to be offering adoption as an alternative to abortion, and potentially I can see the point. But pregnancy means consequences for a woman nevertheless and forcing pregnancy is restricting the rights of a woman, a real human being. Essentially, and again, it might sound cruel to you, but adoption does not deal with every problem of pregnancy. In short, adoption is very noble but it cannot be FORCED. I can also see that abortion can be potentially viewed as regrettable, as there are ways to have safe sex.

Education and non-restricted access to birth control for everyone would reduce number of abortions even further. This is the area to focus on. But even then, contraceptives do fail. I'm not sure why wouldn't you at least agree that there must be a last resort option available. I mean, isn't the harm potentially much, much greater if a woman is forced to carry to term, suffer huge psychological and physical consequences and then a child does not get a normal start in life? Doesn't all that just increase suffering in the world far more than aborting a embryo or fetus (and majority are aborted early) whose status as a human being and a person is highly questionable at best?

It’s a matter of medical care.

Again, abortion is not murder, it's a legal medical procedure. And with good reason, as I said, the fetus is not a person. Also it's not as simple as born babies and teenagers. During pregnancy fetus changes from a type of biological organism (admittedly not genetically, but by development process) to almost a different organism, from one that is not capable of reason to the one that is capable of contemplating the future, to one that's capable of reason. Clearly actual human beings and organisms that are still developing are not equal. I understand that it can sound cruel, but a woman must have a right to free herself, if only as a last resort. It's not merely inconvenient to be pregnant, but pregnancy has long psychological, physical effects on a woman and it's not justifiable to force a woman to endure all that for a being that is nowhere close to her level of being a human. If you do this you're significantly reducing and destroying that woman's liberties. For a being that is not a complete human being. If you think about it, you cannot be forced to help even real persons, for example no one can force you to donate a kidney. I agree it would be nice to give a kidney, but you cannot be forced to do it.

There was also discussion about the “pro-life”, “pro-choice” philosophies. Ultimately, as has been said elsewhere and before, pro-life and pro-choice are not actually in direct opposition, as one wants to tell exclusively what to do, and another only wants access to medical care and options and wants to leave the decision to a woman.

Actually, "pro-life" is backward. Pro life says "Do what we tell you", while Pro choice says "YOU decide based on your OWN morality." Pro choice decides nothing for anybody. It only wants to keep options open. And since you really appear to be saying that even if contraception fails, a woman should be FORCED to carry to term, this reveals that you think woman absolutely must be responsible for everything. This is a view that really just judges woman's sexual behavior and it's not pro-life per se, but was designed to make women not have sex as men do.

Again, as with the kidney example, it might be viewed as nice to carry to term, but in no way in a healthy society can this be enforced. Even this is debatable, as arguably it's even more responsible to not bring a child into the world if you're not ready for it. I am also in favor of doing almost everything we can to not get pregnant and not need abortion unnecessarily, as abortion is never an easy decision and I would imagine it's never as simple as "bah, condoms are too expensive, I'll just get an abortion if I get pregnant", and then just doing it like it's no big deal.

Like I said way earlier, humans need sex. So the thing to do is to provide education about sex as there are still people in the world that think absurd things about it and easier access to contraceptives. This is the reality of life, as the only thing that would happen if abortion is prohibited are anonymous baby graves in people's backyards.

There is more of this discussion and you can see it on Instagram, but like I said, unfortunately, I cannot continue because I am blocked from seeing anymore and replying.

Also what I feel needs to be said, many of the points are not my own originally … (I wish I was this smart to think of them), but are actually acquired over the years of reading about abortion problematics. Ones that I’m sure I can name are the comparison of suffering of fetus and adult cow from Richard Dawkins, and the point about suffering in general from Peter Singer.

You can follow @entangledlife on Instagram to see more or to participate.

In hopes that the content of this post might be helpful to someone, until next time, take care.

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