February 1, 2012
When do you and I (society …) get to control a mother’s relationship with her baby?
A debate broke out on FB. I'm just cutting pasting at the moment:
JS This is the second recent tragedy to my knowledge involving a lobbyist (read ideologue) for home births. Best practice surely would be to have a 'home birthing' suite colocated at a hospital for when things go wrong?
Sanjeev Sabhlok J, this is an unexpected comment – from you. Public policy should ensure people can choose and are (through the education system primarily) informed about consequences. Mandating that home birthing be colocated with a hospital is an illiberal policy response.
MA So long as they keep it in the home. Keep it all: the labour, the birth, the complications, the death. That we in the medical profession should have to pick up from were they left off when the proverbial hits the fan infuriates me.
JS Rubbish. It a question of science over pomo superstition particularly when it's the child who often dies when things go wrong. I am not the ideological clone of the home birth fanatics.
JS I see your point, M.
MA Yes, I also see the point that the innocent child has nov choice in the matter.
KM I know a paramedic who hates being called to the aftermath of home births gone wrong, the midwives always leave it so late to call that either baby or mother or both are unsalvageable.
Sanjeev Sabhlok "the innocent child has no choice in the matter". The question is whose child is it? What is the status of "ownership" of the society in the child?
NGT Any/all govt funding of home birthing should be abolished. It's an appalling practice that is killing babies
Sanjeev Sabhlok Agreed, N – on the first part of your statement. But why would you (through the government) fund anyone having babies? Why should someone who wants to have a baby at home have to pay for others to have babies in hospital? Wherefrom comes this great confidence in the ability of a government as a protector of babies? And whose babies are these? Did the government bear them in its womb for nine months?
NGT Well I don't believe in socialized medicine, so I think we substantially agree. Abortion needs to be banned in the same respect murder is – the stats does have a role (based on Millian conceptions of liberty) to protect the lives of the babies
Sanjeev Sabhlok N, I'm glad we agree that socialised medicine is the source of this conflict, where people feel their taxes are being spent on things they don't agree with – which causes angst.
On the theory of abortion there are a few key aspects. First, the scientific question of when does a bunch of amorphous cells become human. For this see my draft manuscript The Discovery of Freedom (http://discovery.sabhlokcity.com/ ). Second, a baby that is still within a mother does not become a legal person till it displays itself to the world, and breathes more than its first breath. This is merely the practical demonstration of its existence as an independent human. At that stage the baby and mother are now separate entities, entitled to two different passports, and laws regarding murder of a person immediately come into force.
So, on your own baby's future – till it is born – you retain full control and should. However, your desire to control the behaviour of the others – mothers of babies which you did not bear nor bring up in your womb – could leave you open to the charges of illiberal paternalism (at the least) or coercive statism (at the most).
Till a baby is born we all have to grin and bear it, regardless of our views, for the baby is part of the mother, not an independent entity. It is not our call to control what goes on inside the body of a woman. Let nature take its course till the baby is born and breathes. Then we can step in if the mother deliberately strangles her baby.
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