Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Intended but not wanted

A blog post that uses an analogy to reflect on the idea that babies are the natural result of the baby-making act, and the moral implications of that idea for the defense of abortion.
Suppose that my friend and I play this game of American Roulette once a year, on one of our birthdays. Now suppose that my friend's number comes up, and I shoot him through the head. By law, and by the moral philosophy that undergirds the law, I do not get to plead that I did not intend his death. Perhaps I did not want him to die, but I certainly did intend the chance that he would die: I intentionally used a weapon against him, a weapon whose purpose it is to kill, and I used it in a way that would ensure his death, if the right chamber came up. It would be up to judge and jury to assess the correct punishment in my case, but as a matter of fact I am a murderer.

Except in the case of rape, there are no "unintended pregnancies," none. There are plenty of women who do not want to be pregnant, and plenty of men who do not want them to be pregnant, but in all those cases the pregnancies are the results of intentional actions of a sort that have pregnancy as their perfectly natural and perfectly predictable consequence. Contraception does not change the nature of the act itself; indeed, it makes the actors more keenly aware that what they are doing is the sort of thing that makes babies, since otherwise they would not go so far out of their way (donning or inserting into the body uncomfortable devices, or flooding the system with pregnancy-mimicking hormones) to thwart the body's natural functions. The "problem" in the case of Sexual Roulette is not that the body fails, but that it succeeds.

It is from a blog I had not seen before.

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