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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Incest and a touch of evolving "references"

What is incest?  Well as of the time of this composition, defines incest as:
sexual intercourse between closely related persons.
the crime of sexual intercourse, cohabitation, or marriage between persons within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity wherein marriage is legally forbidden.
Sexual intercourse between closely related persons... that is pretty broad.

A sexual crime... well what constitutes a crime varies on almost countless circumstantial factors: laws, interpretation of laws, opinion, culture, society, religion and other beliefs.

And this brings me to a notion I will expand on in the future.  We have to be mindful that in this modern time "references" evolve and even evolve undetected.  This makes the task of composing something with good references much more difficult- difficult to find the references, agree on what is a reference, and even use a reference that people will have access to.  That last one is important because there is nothing like hard-copy references and who goes to the microfiche these days.  But more on that later... back to incest...

First I want to make it clear that though I may bring up controversial topics in my writings it is not always my goal to participate in a high-profile debate of the time.  I pay attention to them and sometimes in this process (I think ironically) I develop what I think is an interesting way of thinking about things that I would like to share.

So how do I get to incest?  The high-profile discussion of abortion.  Many people think abortion is okay in cases of "rape and incest."  Sometime this articulated as "rape and when the life-of-the-mother is at risk."  But usually this whole notion of "selective acceptance" is presented in the former phrasing.

I have no idea how I thought about this more... I guess I was trying to think more about the situations that  this "selective acceptance" of abortion would actually "allow" or "favor" abortion in practice.  It turns out when you think about incest it is almost an impossible determination.

Rape is pretty clear.  But incest is not.  State laws define incest in different ways.  Certainly I think people do.  I am sure there are those that think marrying one's first-cousin is incest.  There are probably all kinds of practices that are legal that many would consider incest.

At this point I think it is valuable to my point to highlight the messy and inconsistent laws regarding "cousin marriage" within the United States.  From the Wikipedia article Cousin Marriage: (Current Status >> United States)

The United States has the only bans on cousin marriage in the Western world. As of February 2010, 30 U.S. states prohibit most or all marriage between first cousins, and a bill is pending in Maryland which would prohibit most first cousins from marrying there. Six states prohibit first-cousin-once-removed marriages. Some states prohibiting cousin marriage recognize cousin marriages performed in other states, but despite occasional claims that this holds true in general,laws also exist that explicitly void all foreign cousin marriages or marriages conducted by state residents out of state.
This sounds pretty skewed (in that it sounds like it is mostly banned) but it goes on... and on and on... and in fact though it mentions 30 states "prohibit most or all marriage between first cousins, and a bill is pending in Maryland" this is still vague and it doesn't speak to the other 20 (or 19) states.  The point is that it varies, and it is indeed legal in some places.

Now to get to the point (and question) at hand which I am sure I will offer more as my thoughts on this evolve and mature...

If one is willing to allow abortions in cases of incest then doesn't this give some people the right to "choose" to have an "abortion of convenience?"  Wouldn't this go against the goals of most people who can bring themselves to support abortion on the terms of "selective acceptance?" I would go so far as to say that any law that tries to achieve this would create a legal reality that is very hard to interpret and certainly very hard to manage and enforce.  Though not yet in finality- I am near the conclusion that "selective acceptance" is not practical.  So what is?

Though it is implied I feel I have to say in this case- please respond thoughtfully- if you have read this entry thoroughly it will be quite clear it is not to invoke responses that are inspired from rigid, binary positions.

English (en):  Laws regarding cousin marriage in the United States
   First-cousin marriage
   Allowed with restrictions or exceptions
   Banned with exceptions1
   Statute bans first-cousin marriage1
   Criminal offense1

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