The Fetus As Other: Crime?

jeanne's abortion hangars

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I grew up with whispered horror tales of coat hanger deaths. True, I never knew anyone who died under such circumstances. But I was strongly sheltered from such knowledge. Had I known someone who suffered such an ordeal, the adults around me would have protected me from the knowledge.

This is, however, the argument used by some who doubt the coat hanger horror tales with which many of us grew up:

"But what about coat hanger abortions?

[The] authors [of this pro-Life site] have lectured nationwide on abortion on an average of one city a week for almost three decades. We frequently ask the audience to provide documented proof of a self-induced coat hanger abortion. In all this time no one has given us a single case. It may well be — there never were any coat hanger abortions"

From Why can't we love them both by Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Willke, Chapter 27. Illegal Abortions.

They don't say there were never any coat hanger abortions, but that "it may well be," maybe there were none, because nobody they knew ever saw one," or has "documented proof" of one. What's documented proof? A photo of the rusty coat hanger being used in the abortion; how much rust has to show; how shall we know the rust isn't faked; and so on and on and on. Notice that the "I never saw it so it can't have happened." argument privileges the perspective of the speaker. Truth is what the speaker has seen or can see proof of. Maybe the earth is really flat, because it sure doesn't look round to me or anybody I know. This denies the answerability of the Other who has seen what the speaker has not. This also permits denial of what I cannot personally verify, like whether or not Iraq has secret weapons, and whether or not we really tortured Iraqis, and whether or not flouride is good for teeth.

At a time when it is increasingly important that we learn not to be led astray into thinking Others don't know what they're talking about, but try rationally and justly to consider the multiple perspectives involved, it matters greatly that we recongize this Harry Truman

Notice also that one can be Pro-Choice and disagree with almost all the question on the Willke's questionnaire designed for Pro-choice believers. the logical problem of unstated assumptions means that you might agree with the statement on some occasions and disagree on others:

No More Coat Hangers

"From President Bush to state legislatures, a woman’s right to control her own destiny is in profoundly increasing danger."

From No More Coat Hangers by Kateri Butler, L.A. Weekly, April 30 - MAY 6, 2004. Backup.

  • The Johns Hopkins Newsletter
    "If you are pro-choice, you aren't necessarily for abortion," she says. "In fact, a large number of pro-choice people aren't for abortion but for choice at least. As a Catholic, I was always pro-life, but recently changed my views to pro-choice. After learning more about pro-choice with all of the reading available, I've discovered that actually I am for a woman's right to choose but do not necessarily think abortion is appropriate.

    "Although there isn't an overwhelming amount of Hopkins students who are planning to attend, NARAL still expects a nice showing in D.C.

    "I don't think that Hopkins is as much conservative as apathetic," said Krueger. "Many just don't have the time or just don't care to get involved.

    "NARAL representatives have worked all year to gain student interest and spark activism. They started in the fall with a display of hundreds of bent coat hangers on the upper quad (some women who cannot afford abortions illegally use coat hangers to abort the fetus). The group has also advertised all over campus and had a NARAL speaker come in the fall. The group has also helped to organize buses into D.C. and provide reserved metro tickets."

    Please note that answerability means that I am willing to listen in good faith to the Other's claim of validity. It DOES NOT MEAN that I agree with that claim, but merely that I am making a good faith attempt to understand the claim, and the Other's need for or belief in it. Thus, Ms. Krueger, President of the John Hopkins University College Democrats, can be Catholic, AND opposed to abortion AND pro-choice without altering her own beliefs. She is merely granting answerability to those who disagree with her on abortion."

    Whose crime? Against whom? Whose agony? Whose voice? The father's? The mother's? The fetus's? The child, as mother of the fetus? The parents of the child who is mother of the child?

    And what about the father of the fetus in all this?

    Where is his voice? In restorative justice, whose justice do we plan to restore? What about dysfunctional communities? What about dysfunctional families? Let's gather together all who are harmed, all who need safety nets of support.

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