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May 24, 2012 10:05 AM   Subscribe

"Pro-Choice" Americans at Record-Low 41% - Americans now tilt "pro-life" by nine-point margin, 50% to 41%. According to recent Gallup polling, 'the 41% of Americans who now identify themselves as "pro-choice" is down from 47% last July and is one percentage point below the previous record low in Gallup trends, recorded in May 2009. Fifty percent now call themselves "pro-life," one point shy of the record high, also from May 2009.' The decline in "Pro-Choice" views is seen across partisan groups, with Americans' self-identification as "pro-choice" drop across the three U.S. political groups.

'Gallup began asking Americans to define themselves as pro-choice or pro-life on abortion in 1995, and since then, identification with the labels has shifted from a wide lead for the pro-choice position in the mid-1990s, to a generally narrower lead for "pro-choice" -- from 1998 through 2008 -- to a close division between the two positions since 2009. However, in the last period, Gallup has found the pro-life position significantly ahead on two occasions, once in May 2009 and again today. It remains to be seen whether the pro-life spike found this month proves temporary, as it did in 2009, or is sustained for some period.'

'The shift in abortion views over the past year is not due to a change in the political composition of the samples. In the May 2-6, 2012, Values and Beliefs poll, 47% of respondents are Democrats or lean Democratic, while 41% are Republican or lean Republican. This is similar to the partisan composition of the May and July 2011 surveys, which showed a close division between pro-life and pro-choice Americans.'
posted by VikingSword (322 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
UGH everyone is pro-life! Everyone! Except for maybe a couple crazies, but they are not enough to really negate just saying "everyone is for life in a general way!"

It's pro-choice and anti-choice!
posted by Windigo at 10:08 AM on May 24, 2012 [57 favorites]


An interesting result, but bear in mind that the percentage of Americans who believe abortion should be banned still sits at 20%.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:09 AM on May 24, 2012 [63 favorites]


Hmmm...Perhaps this is a result of people having become so accustomed to birth control that many of them have never known anyone who had to deal with an unplanned pregnancy, let alone deal with one themselves?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:10 AM on May 24, 2012 [15 favorites]


Gallup's longest-running measure of abortion views, established in 1975, asks Americans if abortion should be legal in all circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances. Since 2001, at least half of Americans have consistently chosen the middle position, saying abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, and the 52% saying this today is similar to the 50% in May 2011. The 25% currently wanting abortion to be legal in all cases and the 20% in favor of making it illegal in all cases are also similar to last year's findings.
So, around 75% of Americans believe is should be at least partially legal.

(on preview, what Holy Zarguon's Singing Fish sang)
posted by deanklear at 10:11 AM on May 24, 2012 [17 favorites]


Hmmm...Perhaps this is a result of people having become so accustomed to birth control that many of them have never known anyone who had to deal with an unplanned pregnancy, let alone deal with one themselves?

Oh, just give us another ten years and the only 'birth control' you'll have access to will be the rhythm method, and women will go back to getting knocked up early and often as god intended.
posted by Frowner at 10:11 AM on May 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yeah, self-id is not a really good metric to figure out what people really believe. I consider myself pro-life in that I think abortion is generally morally wrong but I don't want it legally prohibited. Some would say that means I'm pro-choice and they have a good point but I can self-id as whatever I want.

On preview, what HZSF said.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:11 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Note that "are you pro-life or pro-choice?" is a completely different question from "do you think abortion should be legal?" Tellingly, the responses to the second question are basically unchanged from last year.
posted by theodolite at 10:12 AM on May 24, 2012 [32 favorites]


Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 3-6, 2012 with a random sample of 1,024 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Eh. You have to find people who are
1. willing to answer the phone when the number is one they don't recognize, and
2. willing to talk to a complete stranger about where they stand on a sensitive or "hot-button" issue.

I would imagine this rules out roughly 98% of the people I know.
posted by King Bee at 10:13 AM on May 24, 2012 [27 favorites]


And what percentage of those who identify as "pro-life" would, when it comes down to it, go ahead and allow a woman to make her own decisions about her own baby?

I bet it's more than zero.

on preview, what everyone else is saying.
posted by Aquaman at 10:13 AM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Since last I heard, Democrats make 36% of the electorate, Republicans 20%, Indies at 44%, I'm not sure results from a 50/50 split mean anything.
posted by stavrogin at 10:14 AM on May 24, 2012


Judging by the way your average American thinks, it's likely a pricing problem. Put it in Wal-Mart between the lawn tractors and the optical clinic, along with $79.95 and rollback savings, and your own grandma will be telling you to go there because of the "good deal".
posted by crapmatic at 10:14 AM on May 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Note that "are you pro-life or pro-choice?" is a completely different question from "do you think abortion should be legal?"

I've had conversations with people about abortion where it seemed like we were on the same page, but then halfway through it turns out they were confused by the terms.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:15 AM on May 24, 2012


For what it's worth, Gallup polls will also show a minority of Americans "believing" in evolution. But if you ask them more pointed questions about whether they believe things change over long periods of time (i.e. evolution without using the bad word of evolution), they become much more reasonable answers. Polls are tough, people react to talking points and little catch phrases and answer accordingly, but the root of their beliefs are more nuanced than that.

I am, however, still somewhat horrified at both what pro-life/pro-choice and evolution polls show. I really wish people, and particularly Americans, would show some f'ing intelligence as a population once in a while.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:15 AM on May 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: "An interesting result, but bear in mind that the percentage of Americans who believe abortion should be banned still sits at 20%."

So, what then? Do the remaining "pro-life" adherents believe that abortion should only be legal for men?

Are people seriously unable to come clean and acknowledge the ramifications of their beliefs? As long as we're talking about this from a political perspective, Pro-Life means Anti-Choice. There's literally no wiggle-room.
posted by schmod at 10:15 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Once again, they ignore us pro-death advocates.
posted by perhapses at 10:16 AM on May 24, 2012 [23 favorites]


Eh. You have to find people who are
1. willing to answer the phone when the number is one they don't recognize, and
2. willing to talk to a complete stranger about where they stand on a sensitive or "hot-button" issue.


Know who does that? Old people and marginalized, lonely people. Neither of whom tend to be particularly progressive.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:16 AM on May 24, 2012 [21 favorites]


We should also consider the weird feedback loop effect where people start to hear that a majority of people do or support something, so they want to do or support that thing too, so that they don't look "deviant" or whatever.
posted by King Bee at 10:17 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults."

Somehow I think these numbers may be correlating less with the opinion of the average American and more with the opinion of the average American who either still has a landline and/or enough free time to answer random questions posed to them by strangers on the telephone.

So, at least we know what the retirees think, I guess.
posted by griphus at 10:17 AM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


*quietly continues laying her plans to create a Jane Collective... just in case*
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:18 AM on May 24, 2012 [13 favorites]


Are people seriously unable to come clean and acknowledge the ramifications of their beliefs? As long as we're talking about this from a political perspective, Pro-Life means Anti-Choice. There's literally no wiggle-room.

Or they are able to divorce their personal beliefs from their opinion of what the law should be. I like that idea better.

(Or, more depressingly, the "legal under some circumstances" answerers could be envisioning a blanket ban with exceptions for the health of the mother, rather than overall legality with bans on late-term procedures and whatnot.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:19 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


So this means the opinions of Americans haven't changed, but the pro-life marketing has been more successful than that of the other side?
posted by Triplanetary at 10:21 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


If only 20% of Americans want to ban abortion, but only 41% of Americans self-identify as pro-choice, then obviously the meaning of the word "pro-choice" is not what we think it is.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:21 AM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh, FFS. Did you download the PDF at the end with the actual questions?

Do you think abortions should be legal under any circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances?
52% say legal under certain circumstances, and 25% say legal under all circumstances. That's 77% who favor abortion.

Then, they are asked: With respect to the abortion issue, would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life?
That's where 51% say they are pro life.

The headline should be "77% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in at least some circumstances". Of course, that's not a headline.
posted by King Bee at 10:21 AM on May 24, 2012 [19 favorites]


I'm pro-choice and pro-life. It isn't a contradiction.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:22 AM on May 24, 2012 [15 favorites]


An interesting result, but bear in mind that the percentage of Americans who believe abortion should be banned still sits at 20%.

Gallup Polls Show Up To 90 Percent of Americans Hope Things Will Just Kind Of Work Out Without Having to Make Any Kind of Ethics-Based Decisions Like We're Some Kind of God Damned Egghead
posted by Greg Nog at 10:22 AM on May 24, 2012 [40 favorites]


Or they are able to divorce their personal beliefs from their opinion of what the law should be.

That is not the question, though. If you are asking about a political position, the question is what the law should be. No one is against "life" or "choice" as a general rule - those are just terms used to identify political positions with regard to abortion. Or at least, they are meant to be.
posted by mdn at 10:23 AM on May 24, 2012


I'm pro-choice and pro-life. It isn't a contradiction.

That's just it. These words don't mean what people think they do.

If "pro-life" means "in favor of living creatures", then of course I'm pro-life. If "pro-life" means "against abortion in all circumstances", which is what it fucking means if you watch Fox News, then 77% of Americans are not pro-life. This will be reported as "51% of Americans are against abortion", and people will believe this shit.
posted by King Bee at 10:24 AM on May 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


*I'm pro-choice and pro-life. It isn't a contradiction.*

True, it's not a contradiction if those terms don't have any of the expected values and policy positions associated with them that a person taking part in this debate would expect them to have.
posted by glhaynes at 10:25 AM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Are people seriously unable to come clean and acknowledge the ramifications of their beliefs? As long as we're talking about this from a political perspective, Pro-Life means Anti-Choice. There's literally no wiggle-room.

I think there is a bit more wiggle room than that. You can support political policies that will lead to less abortion such as free birth control and extensive sex education and financial support for mothers without wanting to ban it. With the right policies practically nobody would need an abortion in the end because birth control would be covering everyone and you would only have the cases where the birth control failed.

It's similar to how you can be against drug use while recognizing prohibition is not an effective policy to combat it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:25 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


51% of Americans are of below average intelligence.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:26 AM on May 24, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'm pro-choice and pro-life. It isn't a contradiction.

If we are talking about a political position, you are pro-choice.
posted by mdn at 10:26 AM on May 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Know who does that? Old people and marginalized, lonely people. Neither of whom tend to be particularly progressive.

Organizations like Gallup generally gather demographic information and include it with their findings to head off hand-waving objections like yours. Journalists don't bother to report this demographic data in detail in newspaper because it would make for several paragraphs of data that would be irrelevant to most readers. Your complaint is the sort of objection raised by someone who doesn't like a poll result, and forgotten about whenever a poll result supports your existing views.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:26 AM on May 24, 2012 [13 favorites]


The danger here is the same as it ever was; namely, most people's self-identification and their actual beliefs are two separate things - often miles apart. For instance, start asking self-described-tea-party-conservatives actual what-if-real-life-scenarios and you'll find that most of them are not nearly as conservative as they think they are.

The danger is that they'll vote for all kind of horseshit that's dressed up in trigger words before they will actually sit down and figure out where they really stand. Then it's too fucking late. Then the jobs are gone, and the unions are gone, and the free speech rights are gone, and the ability to control your own body are gone, and ...

We've been going backwards for four decades now, and it only seems to be getting worse.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:29 AM on May 24, 2012 [26 favorites]


I should have added that polling organizations sometimes charge extra for the full breakdown, or delay its release to the general public until they have recovered the cost of the data collection.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:31 AM on May 24, 2012


100% of me believe that organ donation should be mandatory, regardless of the fact somebody, who "happens" to be on top of a donor list, "accidentally" shot you/hired somebody to shoot you in order to make your organs "suddenly" available.

Because your body, my decisions, what's the difference.
posted by elpapacito at 10:32 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


People are pro-life when it comes to their own family, but believe abortion should be available for the poor so as not to add another mouth to feed to the dole. This is sad and has an element of racism, but I have found it to be true.
posted by readery at 10:32 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


We've been going backwards for four decades now, and it only seems to be getting worse.

Roe v. Wade was only decided 39 years ago. This sort of hyperbole is misleading and unhelpful.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:32 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The danger here is the same as it ever was; namely, most people's self-identification and their actual beliefs are two separate things - often miles apart.

I cannot favorite this shit hard enough. Reminds me of the recent NAACP thread; people want to say that they belong to a certain group even though they don't adhere to most, if any, of the fundamental tenets of that group.
posted by King Bee at 10:33 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


We've been going backwards for four decades now, and it only seems to be getting worse.

That's not backwards, Benny. That's a great view of forwards from the cheap seats. We're real Americans, not elite front row forwardists.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:34 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm less interested in this than I would be a study of the next US President's potential Supreme Court nominees.
posted by inigo2 at 10:35 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


1) Spend decades wrapped in self-righteousness as your opponents relentlessly re-define the terms of the debate.

2) Cede rhetorical control of the debate.

3) Do nothing to reclaim that control.

4) Wail in shock and surprise as people on the periphery of the debate adopt your opponents weasel words.

5) Retreat to your default position of losing the battle while claiming moral high ground.

6) Wait for your opponents to pick your next battle.

The American left is fucking pitiful.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:38 AM on May 24, 2012 [31 favorites]


I'm pro-choice and pro-life. It isn't a contradiction.

In real-word terms, yes. But we all know that's not what 'Pro-life" and 'Pro-choice' mean in this context. They mean "Against" and "For" the legality of abortions.

I am a big supporter of the Republican form of government and a believer in Democratically elected government; I see no contradiction there. But when I say "I am emphatically not a Republican," nobody thinks I'm declaring my support for monarchy.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:39 AM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


They mean "Against" and "For" the legality of abortions.

Not really, most of the pro-life folks believe it should be legal in certain circumstances. Even the Santorum family has said they would abort under certain circumstances.

Most people that self-id as pro-choice believe some procedures should be illegal too. It's a complex argument and the terms don't really have a straightforward definition even in the political context.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:45 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, they're saying that their polls show a 13-point shift in the course of a year?

Outlier. Most of what's really happened, from what I can tell, is that the GOP is more partisan and nutty in the run-up to an election.

Also, I can't help but think that getting 60% of your responses from land lines at this point isn't a working, balanced way of sampling people anymore.
posted by markkraft at 10:45 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can support political policies that will lead to less abortion such as free birth control and extensive sex education and financial support for mothers without wanting to ban it.

People who self-identify as "pro-life" are overwhelmingly against those policies. It's important to remember what this fight is actually about, once you look past the bullshit. The policy positions taken by abortion rights opponents are not consistent with the (claimed) view that abortion is murder; they are consistent with the view that women should "suffer consequences" for having sex.
posted by The Bellman at 10:46 AM on May 24, 2012 [19 favorites]


What gets me about this issue is that pro-lifers feel they have a right to meddle with other people's decisions that don't affect them. It is an arrogant and ignorant view that limits civil liberties. How would these people feel about government regulations when they target religious practice and institutions? Much differently I'd wager.
posted by nowhere man at 10:47 AM on May 24, 2012


So a majority of Americans are pro-life, but only a small proportion of them follow that belief to its logical conclusion, which is to ban all abortions. This is what I've taken to calling the "abortion is icky" position, after the blogger Atrios. It's a muddled belief, but it is popular: Think of Juno or Knocked Up, where the pregnant characters contemplate getting an abortion but choose not to--not because they have a strong belief in the personhood of the fetus, but it feels kind of icky to do it.

The problem, of course, is that the true believers on banning abortion have taken advantage of this attitude, such that it's nearly impossible in most parts of this country for a (non-wealthy) woman to get an abortion if she wants one.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:50 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Roe v. Wade was only decided 39 years ago. This sort of hyperbole is misleading and unhelpful.

Roe v. Wade hatred is a symptom, not the disease.

If you think that the playbook of the right for the last 60 years has been anything other than a complete and utter dismantling of the New Deal, then there isn't much I can say. You say hyperbole, I say reality.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:50 AM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


To the extent that the shift in self-identification is meaningful, Steve M. of No More Mr. Nice Blog believes that it partly explainable as a reaction to whether abortion rights are perceived as being (especially) under attack at that time. Thus, during the Clinton and Obama presidencies, the percentage pro-choice self-IDers declined, but under Bush they rose. He posts a graph of this poll result over time to support his argument.
posted by Eyebeams at 10:51 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Note: I'm referring specifically to pro-lifers who also support legally banning abortion.
posted by nowhere man at 10:51 AM on May 24, 2012


I am Pro-Life but I am PRO-FUCKING-CHOICE. The two things are not mutually exclusive. That's why it's called a CHOICE.
posted by spicynuts at 10:52 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


You are pro-choice, then, spicynuts.
posted by agregoli at 10:54 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I love semantic infiltration.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:56 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


51% of Americans are of below average intelligence.

I don't know if that's actually true. 50% of Americans are below the median intelligence, certainly, but it's not necessarily a given that the distribution is such that 50% are below the average.
posted by Copronymus at 10:58 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not cool. Not cool at all.
posted by PJLandis at 10:58 AM on May 24, 2012


51% of Americans are of below average intelligence.

I get the joke you're trying to make, but consider this. If there are 20 people in a room, and 19 of them are destitute North Korean prison camp workers and 1 is Warren Buffett, 19/20, or 95% of the people in the room would be below the average (or mean) net worth of folks in that room.

When people say "average", they usually mean "arithmetic mean", but as we're seeing in this thread, words don't really mean anything at all.
posted by King Bee at 11:01 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Both "pro-choice" and "pro-life" are weasel words. Such ambiguity is inherent in their usage.
posted by Ardiril at 11:01 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


>So this means the opinions of Americans haven't changed, but the pro-life marketing has been more successful than that of the other side?

>The danger here is the same as it ever was; namely, most people's self-identification and their actual beliefs are two separate things - often miles apart... The danger is that they'll vote for all kind of horseshit that's dressed up in trigger words before they will actually sit down and figure out where they really stand.

Correct, and correct.

Remember:

Particularly in a polarized atmosphere, policy specifics are trivial next to tribal affiliation.

People vote based mainly on who they hate/love, and what they want to say about themselves, rather than on a pragmatic cost/benefit assessment.

If you think that this "pro-life" shift doesn't matter because N% would still be open to abortion under Conditions C1/C2/C3, you're missing the point completely.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:02 AM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ok, but what if you believe that abortion should be legal, but you also believe that free will is an illusion and choice philosophically impossible?
posted by Dreadnought at 11:02 AM on May 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


51% of Americans are of below average intelligence.
I don't know if that's actually true.

It is if you figure that America as a whole has an average intelligence that is slightly less than that of the rest of the world.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:02 AM on May 24, 2012


Both "pro-choice" and "pro-life" are weasel words. Such ambiguity is inherent in their usage.

How is "pro-choice" a weasel word?
posted by inigo2 at 11:03 AM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


spicynuts, I believe I understand your position and find it a good and honorable one; but an argument against using words as they are commonly understood seems self-defeating and not clarity-enhancing. I mean: yes, "niggardly" is a perfectly legitimate word that doesn't have any historical basis in racism. But is it a useful word anymore? Is it capable of conveying to another person that one considers something to be miserly, or does it distract from the meaning by several orders of magnitude more than the information that it does convey?

I honestly don't know what to do with this debate — I hate to cede the term "pro-life" to those that are against abortion rights… There are organizations that rank and assign dollar values to brands periodically, and I'd have to think that "Pro-Life" would be a pretty damn valuable brand. But at the same time, it means something very specific in American political discourse, and I'd be awfully hesitant to align myself with its implications (no or extremely limited abortion rights) if that wasn't the way I felt.
posted by glhaynes at 11:04 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you think that the playbook of the right for the last 60 years has been anything other than a complete and utter dismantling of the New Deal, then there isn't much I can say. You say hyperbole, I say reality.

I am not interested in your overarching political theory or your need to move the goalposts around every time your argument turns out to be flawed. Complaining about the failings of the people who disagree with you does not constitute effective advocacy. Good day.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:05 AM on May 24, 2012


I'm actually surprised that the right-wing hype machine hasn't renamed "birth control" "life suppression".
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:05 AM on May 24, 2012 [19 favorites]


Seriously? Here's the meatiest meat comparing 1999 and 2012 on the specific question regarding the legality of Abortion. Looks like more people support it than are against it... sheesh

11. Do you think abortions should be legal under any circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or
illegal in all circumstances?


2012 May 3-6

Legal Under any Circumstance 25
Legal under certain Circumstances 52
Not Legal 20
No Opinion 3

1999 Apr 30-May 2

Legal Under any Circumstance 27
Legal under certain Circumstances 55
Not Legal 16
No Opinion 2
posted by NiteMayr at 11:07 AM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


I tried semantic infiltration in college. But I didn't inhale.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:10 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


How is "pro-choice" a weasel word?

Would you support aborting a viable 8 3/4 month old fetus for the sole reason that it is female?
posted by Ardiril at 11:12 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I apparently can't count.

Yikes
posted by NiteMayr at 11:13 AM on May 24, 2012


Ardiril, it's not like any doctor would perform such an operation, so I don't get your point. Besides, I'm not going to know the reason for an abortion, since I'm not a doc and its none of my business.
posted by agregoli at 11:19 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


What happened to using the right terms with the right people to be understood, and being patient when two different groups have to talk to each other? Enough with the attempts at language control, please.
posted by michaelh at 11:19 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Would it be better to use different terms when talking with different groups? What terms would be used when addressing "the nation"?
posted by glhaynes at 11:20 AM on May 24, 2012


Would you support aborting a viable 8 3/4 month old fetus for the sole reason that it is female?

Would you support an abortion for a (real, not hypothetical) 9 year old Brazilian girl who was raped and would die if she attempted to carry the fetus to term? Because the "pro-life" Catholic Church didn't, and excommunicated her.
posted by Foosnark at 11:21 AM on May 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Would you support aborting a viable 8 3/4 month old fetus for the sole reason that it is female?"

I trust the mother to make that decision. And I resent your appeal to emotion by using outlier framing.

But hey, maybe I worship Darkseid.
posted by klangklangston at 11:22 AM on May 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


I am not interested in your overarching political theory or your need to move the goalposts around every time your argument turns out to be flawed. Complaining about the failings of the people who disagree with you does not constitute effective advocacy. Good day.

Dude.

I began with an overarching point: People's self-identification and actual beliefs don't always match. This is, and always has been, a dangerous political area. I didn't move any goalposts; I said they were being taken advantage of by people who understand that concept.

You called it hyperbole, and I disagreed. I complained of no one's failings. Sorry you took it that way.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:22 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


"so I don't get your point" - weasel words
"outlier framing" - weasel words
posted by Ardiril at 11:23 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Language means things, sorry. You can't be both pro-choice and pro-life at the same time because they mean opposite things. If you support abortion rights, you are pro-choice, period. I don't care at all about what you would do personally...that's not what the terms describe.
posted by agregoli at 11:24 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


"so I don't get your point" - weasel words
"outlier framing" - weasel words


What specifically is weasel wordy about the term pro-choice? Please use your own words to explain?
posted by rtha at 11:26 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Would you support aborting a viable 8 3/4 month old fetus for the sole reason that it is female?

I'd have to choose no. And?
posted by inigo2 at 11:26 AM on May 24, 2012


Would you support aborting a viable 8 3/4 month old fetus for the sole reason that it is female?
posted by Ardiril at 11:12 AM on May 24 [2 favorites +] [!]


Do you actually know of a case where anyone has ever done that?
posted by ben242 at 11:26 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


How is "pro-choice" a weasel word?

Would you support aborting a viable 8 3/4 month old fetus for the sole reason that it is female?


I know we are playing the "what if..." game with extreme circumstances, but I'm going to chime in and say emphatically, yes. I support abortion in any circumstance, regardless of "reasons" or fetus age. My only "limitation" is maternal consent.
posted by Vysharra at 11:27 AM on May 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


"Would you support aborting a viable 8 3/4 month old fetus for the sole reason that it is female?"

This isn't really a thing that happens, and it's not helping the discussion to throw it out there. Even the 1% or so of truly late-term abortions are almost always predicated on severe medical or fatal problems with the mother or fetus.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:29 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


"they mean opposite things" - but only to a few. As can be seen in this thread alone, the meanings are quite ambiguous among the population and specific only within the perspective of individuals.

If "pro-choice" is to have a "hard meaning" then that definition will require no limitations whatsoever given the existence of a handful of people who support the abortion given my example.
posted by Ardiril at 11:31 AM on May 24, 2012


"almost always" - weasel words
posted by Ardiril at 11:33 AM on May 24, 2012


>Language means things, sorry. You can't be both pro-choice and pro-life at the same time because they mean opposite things.

The problem is that, yes, language does mean things. But it means different things to different listeners. The words and meanings that we tend to assume are collectively shared, when you get beneath the surface, are all freighted with countless random associations that shade their perceived meaning and emotional impact.

We are all deeply irrational, because our beliefs about the world are built on unconsciously sorted and filtered approximations.

Marketing-- of which this poll is an artifact-- is about grappling with the fact that people aren't omniscient, and therefore rely on their randomly, idiosyncratically produced Feelings and Values in order to give themselves the feeling that they are being Logical, when finding themselves reaching for Brand X and pushing away Brand Y.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:34 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


How is "pro-choice" a weasel word?

Would you support aborting a viable 8 3/4 month old fetus for the sole reason that it is female?


Wait, I'm confused. Is the 8 3/4 month old fetus a female weasel? Cause, hell yeah - get it out of there!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:34 AM on May 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


""outlier framing" - weasel words"

Hold on, you think that the scenario you laid out is representative of even a moderate plurality of American abortions? You're entitled to your opinion, but not to your own facts.

"If "pro-choice" is to have a "hard meaning" then that definition will require no limitations whatsoever given the existence of a handful of people who support the abortion given my example."

That's idiotic, especially since I said, Yeah, I'd trust the mother there.

I'm sorry that you can't win your argument with a reasonable position on how abortion works in America, but it only makes you look desperate and fallacious to try to push buttons like you're doing.

But good to know that you wouldn't support an abortion on a non-viable fetus whose birth would kill the mother, I guess.
posted by klangklangston at 11:35 AM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


but I can self-id as whatever I want

But can we call you 'Bob'?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:36 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


As has been noted, the 77%-versus-41% disconnect is because there are two very different questions involved here. "Would YOU ever [activity x]" is different from "Should ANYONE ever [activity x].

If "I would never have an abortion myself, or at least think I wouldn't, but I wouldn't have it banned for everyone" doesn't wedge neatly into either the pro-life or pro-choice segments, we need a third term. Not everyone who disapproves of abortion feels their opinion should be written into law.
posted by delfin at 11:36 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


""almost always" - weasel words"

Uh, no, they're an attempt to rerail your reductive nonsense. But if, again, you can't seem to argue without fallacious appeals to emotion and outliers, then really, you're just an idiot defending specious nonsense. Sorry.
posted by klangklangston at 11:37 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Confining the choices to "pro-choice" and "pro-life" can really be limiting if you are having a legitimate discussion with people who are actually trying to deal honestly with the issues. They don't really allow for any subtlety.

If you are trying to sell one side or the other as a political idea or platform then confining it to those two terms is very powerful.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:37 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


"they mean opposite things" - but only to a few. As can be seen in this thread alone, the meanings are quite ambiguous among the population and specific only within the perspective of individuals.

If "pro-choice" is to have a "hard meaning" then that definition will require no limitations whatsoever given the existence of a handful of people who support the abortion given my example.


I thank you for using your own words to explain even though I still don't understand what the hell you're talking about.
posted by rtha at 11:38 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


"If "I would never have an abortion myself, or at least think I wouldn't, but I wouldn't have it banned for everyone" doesn't wedge neatly into either the pro-life or pro-choice segments, we need a third term. Not everyone who disapproves of abortion feels their opinion should be written into law."

No, unfortunately, that position is called "Pro-choice." I disagree with some of the other commenters — I do think you can be consistent and hold yourself as both pro-life and pro-choice, but when it comes to legislation, the pro-choice position is the dominant one, and attempts to manipulate the language in order to make that position seem less popular have been pretty effective.
posted by klangklangston at 11:38 AM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


If "pro-choice" is to have a "hard meaning" then that definition will require no limitations whatsoever given the existence of a handful of people who support the abortion given my example.

I think that taking it upon yourself to decide both the content of your ideological opponents' position and the terms under which it may be defined is possibly the least convincing way to engage in discussion.
posted by clockzero at 11:39 AM on May 24, 2012


It's a complex argument and the terms don't really have a straightforward definition even in the political context.

What they define is which has more power when there is conflict between the potential life of the fetus and the choice of the mother whether to complete this pregnancy. You could call it "pro-fetus" and "pro-woman" if you wanted. If the woman chooses to be pro-fetus, then there is no political conflict, so there is no need to choose a side.

The only time it's a political issue is if the two possible interests are at odds: then which interest do you support? That's the side you are on.
posted by mdn at 11:40 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I think that taking it upon yourself to decide both the content of your ideological opponents' position and the terms under which it may be defined is possibly the least convincing way to engage in discussion."

Somebody's got to stuff the straw men, otherwise we might have a reasonable discussion.
posted by klangklangston at 11:41 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


But can we call you 'Bob'?

I've been known to go by Bob, but I prefer Eduardo if we aren't going with George.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:41 AM on May 24, 2012


Or, Hard cases make bad law.
posted by klangklangston at 11:43 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


How about Eddie?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:44 AM on May 24, 2012


Never, that dog from Frasier gets on my nerves.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:47 AM on May 24, 2012


I think that taking it upon yourself to decide both the content of your ideological opponents' position and the terms under which it may be defined is possibly the least convincing way to engage in discussion.

Well, when your opponents flat-out refuse to tell you what they mean when they use certain words, what are we to do?

Actually I know the answer. You just walk away.
posted by King Bee at 11:47 AM on May 24, 2012


For fuck's sake.

Like most polls and statistics these aren't helpful.

I'm pro-choice (in that I think abortion should be legal - BECAUSE I THINK THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD STAY OUT OF SHIT); and I'm pro-life (in the sense that, hey, life is great); and I'm also pretty sure I think that for me, personally, you know, between me and myself and my God and my partner, abortion is wrong (and in the sense that I belong, nominally, to a church that says abortion is WRONG WRONG). I mean, shit can be immoral and still be legal. (I'm not saying abortion is immoral. My church says it is. I don't think I could ever have one. I understand why some people might have one. Which is why I think abortion should be safe and legal. And why the "pro-life" people are spending their money all wrong, on shit like lobbying and legislation instead of on finding homes for the already-born but abandoned children of the world).

See, you can't get that kind of rant filled with complicated emotions and thoughts out of FUCKING POLL QUESTIONS.

**HULK SLAM OF ANGER AND AGITATION **
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:48 AM on May 24, 2012


Never, that dog from Frasier gets on my nerves.

Not a problem, we can put him on the grill.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:48 AM on May 24, 2012


This is why I prefer "anti-choice" because it's clearer. Pro-life is so vague, and if you are anti letting the person who's body it affects decide, you should be fine with the term. But I bet that's a rodent word somehow. (Seriously,"weasel words" is cracking me up big time!)
posted by agregoli at 11:49 AM on May 24, 2012


I think abortion is immoral in most cases. I also think that it should be legal in most cases.

Does that make me pro-life or pro-choice?
posted by BobbyVan at 11:52 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pro-Choice, BobbyVan.
posted by agregoli at 11:53 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


It means you are "pro-choice".
posted by King Bee at 11:53 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would call that pro-choice.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:54 AM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a difference between what rules we want to live our own lives by, and what rules we think are important enough that they should be imposed on everyone else. I kind of think it's one of the main fucking points of being an American.

If you're not keenly distinguishing between the two in your reporting then you're deliberately trying to heighten conflict.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:57 AM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


"you wouldn't support an abortion on a non-viable fetus" - Actually, I support truly unlimited abortion, as well as post-partum euthanasia.

"A is A", and "no means no".
posted by Ardiril at 11:58 AM on May 24, 2012


...Well, Art is Art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.

Now you tell me what you know.
posted by delfin at 12:04 PM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Most non-governmental organisations claim to promote change for the better; the Population Council actually has hard evidence of having changed the lives and expectations of hundreds of millions of people."   - The Lancet
posted by jeffburdges at 12:08 PM on May 24, 2012


Am I reading people correctly in that they define the pro-choice position as being in favor of allowing some form of abortion at minimum and therefore the pro-life position is being against all forms of abortion?

If so that seems a bit unreasonable to me since it would mean people who are fighting to curtail rights to abortion could be considered pro-choice if they still favor abortion in some circumstances.

The definition I have used is that if you favor or fight for laws that make abortions more difficult to access then your pro-life and if you favor or fight for the status quo or increased access to abortion your pro-choice.

I find it at least helps to understand who is opposed to who politically that way at least.
posted by The World's End at 12:09 PM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's a little alarming that a full 25% of respondents said that abortion should be legal under any circumstances. Hopefully that's just a kneejerk response to the idea of additional restrictions being enacted.
posted by BurntHombre at 12:14 PM on May 24, 2012


Foosnark: Because the "pro-life" Catholic Church didn't, and excommunicated her.

Not true.
posted by Cortes at 12:18 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have no idea why that would be alarming.
posted by agregoli at 12:18 PM on May 24, 2012


""A is A", and "no means no"."

God bless the Objectivists.
posted by klangklangston at 12:19 PM on May 24, 2012


(I mean, I find YOU alarming, if you think I shouldn't be permitted to make my own medical decisions).
posted by agregoli at 12:20 PM on May 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Hi. I am one of the 25% who think "that abortion should be legal under any circumstances." I think it's a really bad idea to go around legislating personal medical decisions.

I won't try to outlaw your medical procedures, or tell you whether they are necessary or not, and you don't try to outlaw my medical procedures, or tell me whether they are necessary or not. If I want or need advice, I have a doctor for medical advice, a pastor for spiritual advice, a husband and friends for personal advice. Most importantly, I have my own brain with which to make a choice.
posted by hydropsyche at 12:21 PM on May 24, 2012 [23 favorites]


The regional archbishop, José Cardoso Sobrinho, excommunicated the mother for authorizing the operation. He also excommunicated the doctors, who carried out the operation for fear that the 80-pound girl would not survive a full-term pregnancy.

“God’s law is above any human law,” Archbishop Cardoso said Thursday.

The girl’s stepfather, whom she accused of sexual abuse, has been jailed.


But, you know, not excommunicated. Yay, organized religion!
posted by The Bellman at 12:25 PM on May 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


"Pro-choice vs pro-life" debates go round and round eternally and get nowhere. Politically speaking, of course I'm pro-choice. But these days for discussion purposes I find myself gravitating to self-descriptors such as "pro-voice," "pro-decision," and "pro-autonomy."

Pro-voice, to attack predominant attitudes that shame and silence women who have experienced unplanned pregnancies. To encourage them to feel ok about voicing their thoughts and telling their stories whether conflicted about abortion or at peace with it.

Pro-decision, to undercut a consumerist-tinged misinterpretation of "choice". To express instead the process and gravitas that attends most abortion decisions (IME and in every abortion account I've ever read -- not to say that casual whimsical abortions have never happened, only that if you think they're in the majority or even a significant minority, please by all means present your evidence and we will be happy to examine it).

Pro-autonomy, to place women's bodily, cognitive, and emotional autonomy squarely where they should be at front and centre. Instead of totally eclipsed by women's presumed higher calling as mere vessels to developing zygotes, blastocysts, hydatidiform moles, fetuses with no chance of viability, pregnancies that have a reasonable chance of incapacitating or killing her, etc.

I said in a previous thread, and I maintain: "Respect [for the rights of children and babies] goes far beyond the single solitary right to be born. . . . the right to adequate food and nutrition? Medical care? Housing? A stable, non-violent, perhaps even loving, parental relationship to be born into? Every pro-choice person I know considers these to be non-negotiable rights of children, and babies whether "pre-born" or already born. The pregnant woman is the one who knows best whether these rights are likely to be violated, so she's in the best position to know whether carrying the pregnancy to term, terminating it, or adoption is the more moral decision in her individual case."
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:27 PM on May 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


Hopefully that's just a kneejerk response to the idea of additional restrictions being enacted.

NOPE
posted by Greg Nog at 12:27 PM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


BobbyVan: I think abortion is immoral in most cases. I also think that it should be legal in most cases.

Does that make me pro-life or pro-choice?


It makes you logically inconsistent.
posted by Cortes at 12:27 PM on May 24, 2012


(I mean, I find YOU alarming, if you think I shouldn't be permitted to make my own medical decisions).

Of course, the other side believes you are making a medical decision for someone else with that choice. You are angry about the same thing, in a way.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:28 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have no idea why that would be alarming.

Well, for example, the idea of the law allowing the abortion of a full-term fetus when there's no medical necessity is incredibly alarming to me. I know, I know, doctors don't do that, that doesn't actually happen, etc....maybe I just have a bigger imagination that the respondents.
posted by BurntHombre at 12:30 PM on May 24, 2012


I really don't believe that pro-choice or however you want to coin those in favor of legal abortions are only 41%. Sure a poll has that reaction but polls by and large are silly and meaningless. They will get you whatever results you want. When the mere ordering of questions can result in greatly diverging results to polls, when people who agree to take a poll may or may not be a realistic sample, when people will often times answer the way they think the person wants them to, when a million other problems with polls are taken into account you'll find that they don't serve much of a purpose. Maybe the can stand as a starting point for a discussion but not much should be decided based on one poll.
posted by 2manyusernames at 12:32 PM on May 24, 2012


The other side wants to make medical decisions that involve them not at all, so they can butt the fuck out.
posted by agregoli at 12:33 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Cortes: "BobbyVan: I think abortion is immoral in most cases. I also think that it should be legal in most cases.

Does that make me pro-life or pro-choice?


It makes you logically inconsistent.
"

? why ?
I am confused.
Why is it logically inconsistent to feel that something is "immoral" but don't think it should be "illegal". Those are 2 different things. Some people feel it is immoral to eat meat does it make them illogical if they don't believe meat eating should be banned?
posted by 2manyusernames at 12:35 PM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


It makes you logically inconsistent.

This is completely wrong, unless you believe that laws should be nothing more than enforcement of moral majoritarian positions.
posted by modernnomad at 12:38 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not really involved in the medical decisions of fundie Christians who deny medical treatment to their kids, but I'm not going to butt out. For someone who believes abortion is a similar moral wrong, it makes perfect sense to butt in.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:38 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, for example, the idea of the law allowing the abortion of a full-term fetus when there's no medical necessity is incredibly alarming to me.

Are you equally alarmed by the idea that the law allows pretty much anyone to have a kid? So if that hypothetical mom was stopped by the law from having her whimsical abortion, she'd take home that baby and be in charge of it for the next couple decades?
posted by mdn at 12:42 PM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


? why ?
I am confused.
Why is it logically inconsistent to feel that something is "immoral" but don't think it should be "illegal". Those are 2 different things. Some people feel it is immoral to eat meat does it make them illogical if they don't believe meat eating should be banned?


I think that the responder is confused. They are assuming you believe that abortion kills babies, and therefor supporting ANY abortion is inconsistent with your views.

However, if you believe that pregnancy is a natural consequence of sex and that consenting women should be punished with pregnancy and babies (hence the exceptions for rape and incest) then you are entirely consistent.
posted by Vysharra at 12:42 PM on May 24, 2012


Ok, I think its morally wrong that everyone doesn't donate a kidney at once,
to someone who would die without it. Fair?

In no other circumstance do people believe its ok to dictate what medical procedures someone can have. It infuriates me that people think they have a right to tell me what I can do with my own body, to any woman. I don't want to be pregnant, ever, and that is a right I am not giving up. I don't think men (in particular those in power) have spent one second to think of how helpless they'd feel as a woman in that position, how second-rate citizen.
posted by agregoli at 12:45 PM on May 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


I believe almost anybody sets themselves some developmental point beyond which the child becomes a person legally speaking.

Any serious libertarians or objectivists would for-example select birth because that's when the fetus stops being a "parasite." You should laugh at any pro-lifer who calls themselves a libertarian.

In fact, I've gathered from undergrad developmental psychology that technically humans should not gain any "right to life" until maybe a month *after* birth because humans are apparently born fairly prematurely compared to other primates.

A female chimp is pregnant for around 9 months, just like a female human. Yet, newborn chimps are far more operational when born, including the ability to hang onto their mother unaided. Anyone know if newborn chimps posses better eyesight than newborn humans? I'd bet yes.

In other words, a newborn chimp seems much closer to the moral standing of an adult chimp than a newborn human is to the moral standing of an adult human.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:45 PM on May 24, 2012


Slightly misworded....I meant many men havent thought about it, by putting themselves in that headspace. Its horrifying to not have that control.
posted by agregoli at 12:46 PM on May 24, 2012


I'm not really involved in the medical decisions of fundie Christians who deny medical treatment to their kids, but I'm not going to butt out. For someone who believes abortion is a similar moral wrong, it makes perfect sense to butt in.

With the exception of agreeing with vaccination laws, because they impact the health of everyone, I don't advocate for the regulation of their children's health. I don't try to have their children seized, or procedures performed on the parents. Not only do I not agree that children and fetuses are the same thing, their advocacy is an attempt to restrain my own choices and medical autonomy. Pregnancy is not a magical state. It's hard. It's dangerous, for some women, and some children. Sometimes it's fatal. And I refuse to condone their "butting in" if my life is on the line.
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:47 PM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Nothing gets the comments flowing like abortion.
If I were to guess, I'd say at least 50% of people have a hard time remembering which position is which, since they are both known by vague euphemisms. I suggest instead of "Pro Life" we call it "crabby" and instead of "Pro Choice" we call it "mellow". Much easier to keep straight. The poll results will straighten themselves out.
posted by Outlawyr at 12:50 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"A is A", and "no means no".

... aaaaand this, just when I was beginning not to dread teaching my Contemporary Moral Issues course this fall. There's always one in every section.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:59 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why is it logically inconsistent to feel that something is "immoral" but don't think it should be "illegal". Those are 2 different things. Some people feel it is immoral to eat meat does it make them illogical if they don't believe meat eating should be banned?

Depends on what type of "immorality" you're talking about, obviously. Society leaves some issues of morality up to personal choice and decides on others as a collective. The rightness or wrongness of the 'willful destruction of human life' is typically (after the human is born, anyway) one of the things that society does *not* leave up to the whims of the individual.

If BobbyVan just means that abortion is immoral on the same level that eating meat or not brushing your teeth or wasting food or hurting someone's feelings might be considered immoral -- then you're right, his position is not inconsistent. But generally people have pretty much the same basis for deciding that abortion is immoral, a basis that arises from their view that a human life is being destroyed, and yes, it is inconsistent to come to the determination that this is simultaneously evil and allowable. cf. "I personally wouldn't own slaves but it's not my right to dictate my choice to others", "I personally think child porn is wrong but I can't control what others do in the privacy of their own home", etc.
posted by Cortes at 1:00 PM on May 24, 2012


With the exception of agreeing with vaccination laws, because they impact the health of everyone, I don't advocate for the regulation of their children's health. I don't try to have their children seized

I think if you are willing to let children die from treatable diseases in the name of freedom you are taking the pro-choice position a bit far. Denying them treatment is abuse and the state has an interest in protecting its people.

In general the debate revolves around if the fetus is such a person, not on if people should be protected.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:08 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


In general the debate revolves around if the fetus is such a person, not on if people should be protected.

From a pro-life position, that may be the only issue. From a pro-choice position, the focus shifts to what the rights of the mother are. Like agregoli said above, are you required to donate a kidney when it would save someone? It isn't a question of whether the recipient of that kidney is a person or not. Even if they are a person, are you required to give over your body to them, or is it an autonomous choice?
posted by mdn at 1:27 PM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


are you required to give over your body to them, or is it an autonomous choice?

The anti abortion folks generally believe the choice to be open to such a result was made prior to the pregnancy. That is why rape changes the dynamics of the discussion for so many of them.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:33 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


The anti abortion folks generally believe the choice to be open to such a result was made prior to the pregnancy.

No, because then surely, logically, they'd be in favor of birth control to prevent accidental/unwanted pregnancies, so fewer abortions would be necessary.
posted by elizardbits at 1:37 PM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Unfortunately their logic leaves something to be desired.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:38 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


If BobbyVan just means that abortion is immoral on the same level that eating meat or not brushing your teeth or wasting food or hurting someone's feelings might be considered immoral -- then you're right, his position is not inconsistent. But generally people have pretty much the same basis for deciding that abortion is immoral, a basis that arises from their view that a human life is being destroyed, and yes, it is inconsistent to come to the determination that this is simultaneously evil and allowable.
Isn't there a middle ground on the philosophically pro-life, practically pro-choice position (such as mine)? I maintain that while a fetus may not have a claim to personhood, as a biologically distinct member of the human race it does deserve some minimal level of respect. Not respecting the developing fetus for selfish or cavalier reasons is, in my view, immoral.

However, I also recognize that a government must weigh its "respect" for a fellow human (fetus) against deference to the corporeal boundaries of one of its fully developed person-citizens (the mother). I also recognize that only the most tyrannical of governments could stop all abortions in defiance of the wishes of its citizens. So the prudent position is to allow safe and legal abortions, even if one believes them to be immoral and worthy of discouragement.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:40 PM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


"However, I also recognize that a government must weigh its "respect" for one class (negroes) against deference to the class of fully enfranchised person-citizens (whites). I also recognize that only the most tyrannical of governments could stop all slavery in defiance of the wishes of its citizens. So the prudent position is to allow safe and legal slavery, even if one believes it to be immoral and worthy of discouragement."
posted by Cortes at 1:50 PM on May 24, 2012


Oh for god's sake.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:51 PM on May 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


Know who does that? Old people and marginalized, lonely people.

Unfortunately they also vote
posted by crayz at 1:58 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is no breach of logic on the part of pro-lifers, their ideology "believes" that women exist to pump out little expendable soldiers for the empire. Rape changes the dynamics only because they cannot reconcile that belief pattern with modern thought. Yet, they find birth control sufficiently threatening that many object regardless. Pro-life is simply a memetic disease.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:59 PM on May 24, 2012


Birth control does poll as morally acceptable at 89% here in our pro-life majority nation, so I don't think this logical failure is all that widespread.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:11 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Know who does that? Old people and marginalized, lonely people.

Unfortunately they also vote


Also unfortunately, more than those who aren't old or marginalized.
posted by brand-gnu at 2:21 PM on May 24, 2012


"However, I also recognize that a government must weigh its "respect" for one class (negroes) against deference to the class of fully enfranchised person-citizens (whites). I also recognize that only the most tyrannical of governments could stop all slavery in defiance of the wishes of its citizens. So the prudent position is to allow safe and legal slavery, even if one believes it to be immoral and worthy of discouragement."

In a nutshell the kind of reasoning and rhetoric that leads people who are pro-choice in the legal sense to classify themselves as pro-life.

"I'm pro-life but I think abortion should be legal" is easier to explain than "I'm pro-choice but not a fanatic nutjob."
posted by rr at 2:40 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Birth control does poll as morally acceptable at 89% here in our pro-life majority nation, so I don't think this logical failure is all that widespread.

It's widespread enough that abstinence-only "education" is mandatory in schools in more than half the US states (though it is not necessarily the only sex ed provided - but it may be the abstinence part that required to be emphasized). We have the highest teen pregnancy rate in the Western industrialized world, because we think that teaching kids about birth control will make them want to have sex.
posted by rtha at 2:41 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


rtha - it's not "abstinence-only" if it's "not necessarily the only sex ed provided" and the abstinence is simply "emphasized."
posted by BobbyVan at 2:48 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Burnt Hombre: Well, for example, the idea of the law allowing the abortion of a full-term fetus when there's no medical necessity is incredibly alarming to me. I know, I know, doctors don't do that, that doesn't actually happen, etc....maybe I just have a bigger imagination that the respondents.

From the "Respect" link in my previous comment, an excerpt from the linked article:
The only solution is for all of us to become very serious about creating a world where the children who already exist have a decent chance at growing up healthy and in control of their own destiny. . . . I have watched the abortions you don’t want to think about. I have also watched beautiful, brilliant living children subjected to unspeakable horrors that I wish I didn’t have to think about.
I would add to her proposed solution, as well, that all children (ie, who are independent of needing to be hooked up to their mothers' organs for life support) deserve to have a decent chance at growing up enfolded in functional parental love. I don't think there's much chance of parental love happening in this edge-case scenario of a mother determined to abort a full-term fetus without medical necessity; and in cases where there is such a chance, such a mother probably has some God-damned good reasons for making that decision.

People who want to ban that kind of abortion, I suppose, think there IS a good chance the mother will come to love the child (on what evidence)?

Or they don't think of the horrors that already befall too many unwanted children?

Or they think of those horrors but for some reason compartmentalize them away from the injunction to force women to birth fetuses they don't want?

Or they don't think that a mother, who actually would prefer in an ideal world to birth a full-term fetus, but has decided that she needs to limit her family size to protect the quality of life of her already-born children because of financial or family (abusive) difficulties or whatever, -- they think that they're more capable of assessing these risks than the mother herself is?

Yeah, I know, the "pro-life" theists want to leave it up to God because "God will provide," supposedly, or not according to His mysterious ways, for hopefully some of those unwanted children. Which is a fine thing to base public policy on if you're the Taliban or the Christian equivalent.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:09 PM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sticherbeast: "If only 20% of Americans want to ban abortion, but only 41% of Americans self-identify as pro-choice, then obviously the meaning of the word "pro-choice" is not what we think it is."

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but when I hear "pro-choice", I think that means it's completely up to the mother to decide to have an abortion at any point on her pregnancy, including, say, on week 30, for no other reason or justification than her personal choice to terminate her pregnancy.

A lot of people are not OK with an abortion on week 30 for personal reasons, but are OK with an abortion performed because the mother's life is at risk, for example.
posted by gertzedek at 3:22 PM on May 24, 2012


cybercoitus interruptus, I think you will find that anti-abortion folks who are aware of those issues don't believe that killing the (from their point of view) child is a valid solution to the problems.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:26 PM on May 24, 2012


Cash4Lead: "it's nearly impossible in most parts of this country for a (non-wealthy) woman to get an abortion if she wants one."

I think we had this discussion before on Metafilter, and it's a total canard. The definitions of "nearly impossible" and "most parts" are the keywords here.
posted by gertzedek at 3:30 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


We have the highest teen pregnancy rate in the Western industrialized world, because we think that teaching kids about birth control will make them want to have sex

That's a pretty strong claim of causation. Could there be no other reasons? Is the curriculum mandated for public education the true main cause of teenage pregnancy?

I'm having a hard time imagining ignorance of birth control options as the foundation for teenage pregnancy levels. Considering, of course, how the level has been dropping, and is comparatively low right now.
posted by timfinnie at 3:55 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think we had this discussion before on Metafilter, and it's a total canard. The definitions of "nearly impossible" and "most parts" are the keywords here.

"In 1982, there were 2,908 providers nationwide. As of 2008, there were only 1,793. In 97 percent of the counties that are outside metropolitan areas there are no abortion providers at all."

For many women, it is very difficult to get an abortion, especially if there is a high risk of medical complications or if it has advanced to a later term, regardless of the reasons why she wants an abortion. For many Americans, travelling long distances and paying hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, for a procedure and associated costs does make abortion access restricted.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:09 PM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Kang: Abortions for all!
Crowd: BOO!
Kang: Very well - no abortions for anyone!
Crowd: BOO!
Kang: Hmm... Abortions for some - miniature American flags for others!
Crowd: YAY!

I dunno, I think he had a point.
posted by zennish at 4:15 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


furiousxgeorge: cybercoitus interruptus, I think you will find that anti-abortion folks who are aware of those issues don't believe that killing the (from their point of view) child is a valid solution to the problems.

Yes. I am actually finishing up reading the book Embryo by Robert P. George (and somebody else, can't remember the name). It's a comparatively well-reasoned exposition of that "killing is immoral, full stop" point of view, albeit as a mere side issue given that the main thrust of the book is about embryonic research not abortion.

Still, I wrote the previous "What the hell are they thinking?" comment because I so very rarely hear "pro-life" people demonstrate that they have actually thoughtfully weighed this specific issue: "moral imperative to bring fetus to term regardless of mother's wishes regarding giving birth" vs "unspeakable horrors that frequently befall children born to parents who didn't want them and as a consequence treat them like shit, abuse them, farm them out as prostitutes, have to have Social Services come in and seize the children and put them into the foster care system etc."

I don't claim that such thoughtful pro-lifers don't exist. I just think, based on what I've read from current and ex-pro-lifers, that they're vastly outnumbered by the people who think shallowly about it, or don't think about it at all. If there are thoughtful pieces out there weighing these specific issues named in my previous paragraph, I'd appreciate links.

Eg, the George book argues, unpersuasively in my view, that "greatest good for the greatest number" is unsubstantiable in face of their absolutist premise that killing is always the greater sin. But it argues in the abstract. I think that for many people, arguing in abstractions is easy. Plugging in concrete details about the horrors that too many unwanted children actually experience here and now, however -- many people change their minds when they are forced to confront what the concrete consequences of their positions actually entail.

And for the people who would not change their minds, fine. But I think that their arguments would be more intellectually honest if they acknowledged, in concrete detail, the kinds of lives likely to be lived by more and more unwanted children forced into the world.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:16 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Like I've said, remind people that "pro-life"--the political position--equals "pro-coat-hanger" (the reality) and they start backpedalling really fuckin' quick.
posted by notsnot at 5:00 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The one remaining abortion provider in Mississippi is likely to have to close. But, sure, women in major northeastern and west coast cities will still be able to get abortions.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:01 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is a testament to the successful liberalization of our society that we are so far gone from the days before unions, before drug and food regulation, before intensive government support of infrastructure, before unions and OSHA and labor laws, and before birth control and legal abortions that otherwise not-masochistic people will argue against these things.

Perhaps there is such as thing as too much success . . .
posted by schroedinger at 5:13 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, Cortes, the enemy of your enemy is in fact sometimes your friend. BobbyVan (while I disagree with him on some particulars on this and likely other issues) is being utterly reasonable and civil here. This is pretty rich coming from me, but we don't have to demonize or straw-man the people with whom we disagree, and I'd charitably suggest you tone down your rhetoric.

The man is telling you he has some personal moral qualms about the personhood of fetuses but nonetheless thinks criminalizing abortion would be tyrannical. This is good, irrespective of whatever differences you or I may have with his personal moral stance. In fact, I take that to be an optimal outcome: we agree to disagree on some particular underlying moral claim while agreeing (for other moral and/or civic reasons) to leave (as we should) health care decisions to the discretion of individual women.

In short: why are you insisting on picking a fight with him? What possible (pro-choice) interest does it serve?
posted by joe lisboa at 6:05 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]



"However, I also recognize that a government must weigh its "respect" for one class (negroes) against deference to the class of fully enfranchised person-citizens (whites). I also recognize that only the most tyrannical of governments could stop all slavery in defiance of the wishes of its citizens. So the prudent position is to allow safe and legal slavery, even if one believes it to be immoral and worthy of discouragement."

Except for the fact that non-tyrannical governments did stop slavery so your analogy doesn't work.
posted by gaspode at 6:11 PM on May 24, 2012


What possible (pro-choice) interest does it serve?

Why are you asking me that?
posted by Cortes at 6:46 PM on May 24, 2012


Why are you asking me that?

Why are you ignoring 98% of my comment?
posted by joe lisboa at 6:47 PM on May 24, 2012


Why are you asking me that?

Sorry. Assuming you meant this question in good faith: why are you tackling this in a way that is counterproductive to securing a consensus on a woman's right to choose?
posted by joe lisboa at 6:48 PM on May 24, 2012


Because it's strange. You've either misjudged me completely or you've never read anything I've posted here. I'm not pro-choice--why would I be concerned with serving pro-choice interests?
posted by Cortes at 6:50 PM on May 24, 2012


Then I stand corrected. I presumed you were fervently pro-choice and was attacking BobbyVan from the left on this issue. I take it you are fervently anti-choice and are attacking him from the right.

To that, I haven't much to say other than I cannot fathom why you would want to criminalize health care decisions between a patient and her physician. If this is the case, then I would humbly suggest you have much to learn from BobbyVan on this issue.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:52 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"was attacking"?? really? ugh. sorry, English.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:56 PM on May 24, 2012


than I cannot fathom why you would want to criminalize health care decisions between a patient and her physician

Wherever "healthcare decisions" is not doublespeak for "ending the life of another human being," I do not.
posted by Cortes at 6:56 PM on May 24, 2012


Wherever "healthcare decisions" is not doublespeak for "ending the life of another human being," I do not.

Not knowing your posting history here, then, I apologize for accidentally misrepresenting your position on striking a balance between the to-me obvious rights of human beings (i.e., women) and the undeniably debatable rights of zygotes, fetuses, etc.

As I don't imagine for a second that I'm going to change your mind on first principles, I'll just wish you a good night and encourage you to think about the position that BobbyVan has staked here.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:05 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I too am "pro-life" ... which is why I support the wisdom of those who must bear children to make up their own fucking minds.
posted by Twang at 7:08 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wherever "healthcare decisions" is not doublespeak for "ending the life of another human being"

It isn't. And that's the problem. You have absolutely no evidence to support your claim that a fertilized ovum is "another human being", yet you believe it is anyway. Or maybe you won't define "human being" (I know you won't). For this reason, no one can argue against you, and you'll always be "right".

joe lisboa thought that the two of you were having a discussion in good faith. It turns out you weren't. Normally, if he brought up your past posting history, it would be a sort of ad hominem attack. Here you expect him to know what side you're on and what collection of absurd propositions you believe to be true. Since you haven't spelled them out here, how could he know what he was arguing against?

Seriously, take this to heart: I'll just wish you a good night and encourage you to think about the position that BobbyVan has staked here.
posted by King Bee at 7:09 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


notsnot: "Like I've said, remind people that "pro-life"--the political position--equals "pro-coat-hanger" (the reality) and they start backpedalling really fuckin' quick."

And "pro-gun control" equals "pro-stabbing".
posted by gertzedek at 7:20 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess I assumed my position was clear, even from my two or three comments in this thread. Wasn't trying to fool anybody.

You have absolutely no evidence

Do you have evidence that it isn't a human being? And if you had evidence that it was, would that change your stance? (I'm assuming not.) Even if I didn't have the precise biological answer, the precautionary principle would be sufficient to decide my position on a question with stakes as high as this.
posted by Cortes at 7:27 PM on May 24, 2012


Do you have evidence that it isn't a human being?

Being asked to prove a negative is when I tend to begin to suspect that I'm dealing with someone who is not discussing in good faith. And, as King Bee said above, you're not really acquitting yourself of that charge very well in this thread.

Have a good night.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:32 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


You, and many of your ilk, make fantastic claims for which you have no evidence, then ask me to provide evidence that they are false.

I can't spend any time providing logical arguments to people who do not value reason. Like joe lisboa, I bid you good night.
posted by King Bee at 7:32 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of course you can't prove a negative. I think there was something a line down about the precautionary principle. You need to *read comments* in good faith, too, you know. Have a good night, both of you.
posted by Cortes at 7:35 PM on May 24, 2012


I definitely thought your comment was pro-choice too Cortes. It really wasn't clear.

I think I could pretty easily define a human as whatever I wanted. "The form of life that results after...*insert whatever time period is necessary for your argument.*" but I don't think that would really prove anything either way.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:38 PM on May 24, 2012


Would you support aborting a viable 8 3/4 month old fetus for the sole reason that it is female?

It's none of my business to support or not support this. There are only a vedry few people concerned, none of which are us: the person carrying the fetus, and the medical practitioners who treat her.

That's what "pro-choice" means, and there's nothing weasel about it.
posted by Miko at 7:38 PM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Of course, 79% of people who self-id as pro-choice would support making that abortion illegal on the grounds that it is so late in the pregnancy.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:46 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nobody owns the term "pro-choice," but I'm personally of the opinion that if we believe this is not a matter for the state, then there should be no laws that restrict terminating a pregnancy regardless of when it happens. Good enough for Canada, and their rates for all types of abortion are less than ours.

That's why there's no weaseling necessary. If you believe a woman can make an informed choice in the context of medical care, you're certainly pro-choice. Then the burden for those looking to legislate about abortion is to describe exactly why the law needs to be part of this interaction.
posted by Miko at 7:58 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


In fact, I think if you breakdown the definitions based just on what a majority of the self-id folks on each side believe...

People who are pro-choice believe abortion should be legal for any reason in the first trimester, and in the case of physical danger to the mother only later.

Pro-life people believe the same outside of not making an exception for the first trimester, though they would also allow abortion in the case of rape or incest.

There are large minorities that disagree on both sides.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:00 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


But that's just it, furiousxgeorge. The results of this survey are going to be reported as "only 41% of Americans support abortion" as a way to gain a foothold in the upcoming elections. You and I (and other citizens who are thoughtful) can understand the nuance between "I'm pro-abortion except..." and "I'm against abortion unless..." but this isn't going to be how it is spun.

Then the feedback loop starts, etc., and so on. This was my original problem with this survey.
posted by King Bee at 8:04 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


furiousxgeorge: "People who are pro-choice believe abortion should be legal for any reason in the first trimester, and in the case of physical danger to the mother only later.

Pro-life people believe the same outside of not making an exception for the first trimester, though they would also allow abortion in the case of rape or incest.
"

And both are sensible, reasonable, debatable points of view. This is what we should be discussing.

The problem is that the discussion gets hijacked by the extremists.

Extremists on one side singing "every sperm is sacred".

Extremists on the other side say that on an abortion of a 8 3/4 month fetus the only people concerned are "the person carrying the fetus, and the medical practitioners who treat her".

At least I don't feel my blood curdling when I hear the arguments of the former.
posted by gertzedek at 8:51 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that so many people think it is strange that 50% report being pro-life while only 20% report being against all abortions.

The abortion debate admits of positions along a continuum: e.g. no abortions at all; abortions for rape victims only; abortions for rape or incest; abortions for rape, incest, or health of the mother; abortions for rape, incest, health of the mother, or to prevent serious birth defects; abortions for any reason up to some stage of development, like viability; abortions for any declared reason, like financial hardship; abortions on demand (no reason required). And there are other issues that might give even more categories, like whether parental consent is required when a minor wants an abortion or whether an abortion could be denied if there were evidence that it was being used for sex selection.

When one responds "pro-life" (or "pro-choice") on what is essentially a forced-choice question, one might be deciding where the midpoint is on that continuum and then saying, "I'm on the life (or choice) side of the midpoint."

The real question for the politics of the abortion debate is what is going on in that big 50-60% of the population that says yes to abortions under certain circumstances. Is that block generally moving to the right -- toward the "no abortions for anyone" position? That is what the two-category Gallup poll numbers suggest to me: more people have moved from, say, "abortion is okay in order to prevent a serious birth defect" to "abortion is only okay in cases of rape or incest" than have moved to the political left on abortion rights. Clearly, one could move in that direction without changing one's answer that abortion should be legal in certain circumstances.

The three-category survey question only does a very little bit better than the two-category question. In order to know what is going on, we really need more fine-grained surveys.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 9:07 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Extremists on one side singing "every sperm is sacred".

Extremists on the other side say that on an abortion of a 8 3/4 month fetus the only people concerned are "the person carrying the fetus, and the medical practitioners who treat her".

At least I don't feel my blood curdling when I hear the arguments of the former.


The mother should take that 98% chance that she'll die giving birth to the diseased baby who won't live past 1 year; and also, the father is her rapist uncle.

Does that help balance your curdling blood?
posted by inigo2 at 9:28 PM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, and the terrorist bombings and assassinations.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:40 PM on May 24, 2012


> I won't try to outlaw your medical procedures,

These are again weasel words. To the "pro-life" contingent, it's not a medical procedure - you're killing a human being.

We aren't talking about "medical procedures" in general - but only one. And this one is completely different from all other medical procedures. There is definitely a continuum where many people find some abortions acceptable and some not.

For example, I am pro-choice, but I'm not at all comfortable with an abortion at eight-and-a-half months. It's hard for me to understand why you can terminate a viable fetus that has gestated for 8.5 months but not kill a viable premature baby that has gestated for 7 months.

I think this attitude is more common than not. In fact, this thread is the first time I've ever run into anyone claiming that abortion at any point in the pregnancy is acceptable.

> > an abortion of a 8 3/4 month fetus

> The mother should take that 98% chance that she'll die giving birth to the diseased baby who won't live past 1 year; and also, the father is her rapist uncle.

While there are a lot of rape cases, and a lot of non-viable children, and a lot of pregnancies that are dangerous to the mother, the combination of all three is quite an edge case - and I assume you'd also have to postulate that the mother didn't know these things until the last minute, or else you'd ask the reasonable question, "Why didn't you do this early enough so it wasn't a moral question?"

I don't think many people would say no in this rare edge case - the question is whether people should have a no-questions-asked right to abortion right up until the moment of birth.

In all honesty, I ask you - if you're the poster(s?) above who are OK with abortion up until the very instant of birth under all circumstances, then are you cool with infanticide?

(I don't have a huge horror of infanticide, particularly if kids are seriously defective, but I'm curious as to what you might say...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:58 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Isn't there a middle ground on the philosophically pro-life, practically pro-choice position (such as mine)? I maintain that while a fetus may not have a claim to personhood, as a biologically distinct member of the human race it does deserve some minimal level of respect. Not respecting the developing fetus for selfish or cavalier reasons is, in my view, immoral. "

Yeah, there is. I mean, just to give you a fair answer to a fair question. In fact, the much maligned Roe v. Wade decision pretty much takes this position, and plays Solomon by splitting the baby, as it were, at the end of the second trimester, based on a kind of arbitrary "viability" line — arbitrary in delineation, not reasoning. (Sort of like age of consent — some people are ready to have sex before 18, some aren't; the line is arbitrary even if the reasoning isn't).

So, yeah, your position is pretty much the law as it stands, and I do like the implicit realization that other people can differ with you, and also the implicit realizing that I think is the most important — that in resolving that conflict, the law must stand aside to individual conscience.

Like Joe, I disagree with you about a lot of stuff, but I respect your position here.
posted by klangklangston at 11:13 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"While there are a lot of rape cases, and a lot of non-viable children, and a lot of pregnancies that are dangerous to the mother, the combination of all three is quite an edge case - and I assume you'd also have to postulate that the mother didn't know these things until the last minute, or else you'd ask the reasonable question, "Why didn't you do this early enough so it wasn't a moral question?""

Knowing isn't the ability to do anything about it, especially in areas where abortion access is complicated (often intentionally). Because of that, I'm reluctant to make these sorts of judgments on who deserves to have an abortion and who doesn't, especially as a man. If abortions were instantly available on demand to anyone, I might feel better about being like, "Eight and a half months? Really?" but even then, it's not my call.
posted by klangklangston at 11:19 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I personally am not cool with infanticide and am very glad that murder is against the law. But I also like being alive and I trust women to make their own medical decisions. Can we be honest for a minute and everybody agree that this hypothetical "abortion on a whim a 8.5 months" has never happened and never will?

Women are actually not sociopathic morons (we're actually just as capable of considering these issues as men are), and any woman who has gone through an 8.5 month pregnancy and suffered through all of the hell that pregnancy is, is not going to want do this, never has, and never will. If this edge case that never happeneded and never will were to come before a doctor, a c-section and adoption would be a perfectly reasonable option and even our hypothetical sociopathic moron would recognize that.

But, I, as a woman who might need an abortion one day, would rather that the decision of when to have an abortion not be a matter of legislation, because women (and their doctors, pastors, spouses, and friends) are capable of making hard decisions.

Just as you are capable of deciding whether you want to donate a kidney to your kid (or sibling or mom), and I would not favor a law requiring you to do so even though I would think it was fucking awful that you would let your kid die.

My simple problem is this: once we start making laws and drawing lines, it becomes easier to keep making laws and drawing lines, until abortion of any kind is suddenly de facto illegal in Mississippi. And all of that could have been avoided by simply refusing to draw lines and leaving the decision in the hands, heart, and mind of the person whose body is at stake.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:25 AM on May 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


In all honesty, I ask you - if you're the poster(s?) above who are OK with abortion up until the very instant of birth under all circumstances, then are you cool with infanticide?

I really hope no one chalks me up on Team Infanticide, so I'll just say right here that at that point, I'm pretty sure it's a medical issue, and I'll leave that totally up to a woman and her medical team. Which is what happens. I would never be okay with advocating infanticide.

In looking for data, I came across this Guttmacher publication on the reasons why women actually go through with abortions. Those reasons are complex and manifold, and I think it's easier to see there why women may struggle with their own choices and options, and how opinions on abortion rights probably depend on a great deal on where someone is in life. "Forty-two percent of women obtaining abortions have incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level ($10,830 for a single woman with no children)." The survey behind this post did not, of course, depend solely on the demographics most likely to have an unintended pregnancy, or to have an abortion. I can't imagine being in the position of making under $10,830 and trying to care for a child, or multiple children, and I can very much see how those other circumstances sometimes lead to later term abortions than the cautious ideal laid out by many people. That said, Eighty-eight percent of abortions occur[ed] in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy [in] 2006. The CDC reports that 91.4% were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation in 2008. So when we get down to actual late term abortions, we are already talking about a very small percentage of the whole. It looks like abortions after 21 weeks represent a grand 1.5% of the 2006 numbers. Whether there would be more if that particular cutoff number weren't a huge problem in many states is probably a different issue, but the truth is that abortions at 30 weeks are incredibly rare, if they happen at all. There was a case of a doctor in Philly who is now being prosecuted for murder charges, because he butchered up women who came in for abortions, and when those produced live, later term babies, he killed them with scissors. It was a horrific, incredible, terrible story to hear, and frankly I see that as a totally different action than a legal abortion. Would I go through with a late term abortion? I have no idea. And I hope, with everything I have, that I am never faced with that decision. That I never carry a child who cannot breathe outside air without great pain. That I'm never told a pregnancy could kill me. That I never have to fly to another state, or drive around to different hospitals, trying to find a doctor. Those 1.5% of legal late term abortions mean someone suffered, and I'm not going to judge them, whatever the reasons behind them.

PS: I probably should have linked to this early, but I thought the Hairpin's Ask an Abortion Provider articles provided a lot of context and interesting comments on a very tough subject.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:37 AM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


it's more like 50% believe abortion should be illegal in cases that involve my daughter or girlfriend and that it should be illegal for that slutty piece of trash down the street.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 7:14 AM on May 25, 2012


Extremists on the other side say that on an abortion of a 8 3/4 month fetus the only people concerned are "the person carrying the fetus, and the medical practitioners who treat her".

Why is it extreme to say that we can trust women and medical practitioners to make the right decision? This sometimes has to happen! Why should anyone else be involved?
posted by Miko at 7:19 AM on May 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


In all honesty, I ask you - if you're the poster(s?) above who are OK with abortion up until the very instant of birth under all circumstances, then are you cool with infanticide?

No, because I think you have to draw a legal line establishing a legal person somewhere, and once you have birth, you have a separate human being who can now be a legal person, and it's illegal to kill legal persons (oops, unless they're in the military or on death row, that is).
posted by Miko at 7:20 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Miko, I get your position, legally. But are you willing to say that morally, it's wrong to have an abortion at 8.75 months (barring some extraordinary circumstances such as risk to the mother's life, a brain-dead or severely malformed baby, etc.)?
posted by BobbyVan at 7:34 AM on May 25, 2012


The morality end is irrelevant, in my opinion. I have a legal right to make my own medical decisions, period.
posted by agregoli at 7:38 AM on May 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


(Otherwise, I am a second-class citizen, not equal to a man, if I'm treated differently because of abortion rights)
posted by agregoli at 7:41 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Miko, I get your position, legally. But are you willing to say that morally, it's wrong to have an abortion at 8.75 months (barring some extraordinary circumstances such as risk to the mother's life, a brain-dead or severely malformed baby, etc.)

Why do I need to say this? Are you asking me to approve of your abortion? Are you asking what I should do if I'm in this position? How do my morals get involved in this, if I'm neither the pregnant person or the medical practitioner who has to make a treatment decision?
posted by Miko at 7:45 AM on May 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


BobbyVan, are you willing to say it's morally wrong for you not to donate your kidney to your own child if they will die without it?

Does that make any difference when it comes to legal or political questions?
posted by mdn at 7:49 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The morality end is irrelevant, in my opinion. I have a legal right to make my own medical decisions, period.

Why do I need to say this? Are you asking me to approve of your abortion? Are you asking what I should do if I'm in this position? How do my morals get involved in this, if I'm neither the pregnant person or the medical practitioner who has to make a treatment decision?
These are some epic dodges. We ought to be able to say that certain things are "immoral" irrespective of their legality.
BobbyVan, are you willing to say it's morally wrong for you not to donate your kidney to your own child if they will die without it?
It's a somewhat different scenario. For it to be equivalent to the mother with an 8.75 month old fetus who irresponsibly waits before deciding she'd rather not have the baby (as opposed to giving it for adoption), let's say that the child who needs the kidney could have received treatment for diabetes earlier, but the parent was negligent and allowed the diabetes to worsen until the child's kidney's failed. Under that scenario, yes, it would be immoral for the parent not to give a kidney to the child.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:06 AM on May 25, 2012


yes, it would be immoral for the parent not to give a kidney to the child.

I have no problem with that judgment, but it's not really the question. The issue is, can the government step in at that point and force them to provide an organ to the child?
posted by mdn at 8:11 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


These are some epic dodges. We ought to be able to say that certain things are "immoral" irrespective of their legality.

But you're asking me about my personal morality. That has nothing to do with whether I think abortion should be legal or illegal. It's completely irrelevant to the question at hand. I wonder why you want to know how I'd answer this hypothetical?

I've given you my answer: it's none of my business, just like people getting tattoos or tummy tucks or cutting off their own arm or transplanting bone marrow from one of their children to another is none of my business. Those people have a decisionmaking context already - a medical one. They don't require my morals to make these decisions. I trust individuals and their doctors to make decisions like this, and I don't consider my views important enough to intrude into that conversation.

It's a somewhat different scenario.

Man, you're right it's different. So, in your construction, if the woman didn't know she was pregnant, the 8.75 month abortion is perfectly moral.
posted by Miko at 8:13 AM on May 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


I have no problem with that judgment, but it's not really the question. The issue is, can the government step in at that point and force them to provide an organ to the child?

It might not be the question for you. However, I think morality is important.

So, in your construction, if the woman didn't know she was pregnant, the 8.75 month abortion is perfectly moral.

I wouldn't say it's "perfectly moral." I still think that a biologically distinct, developing, and in this case viable member of the human race is morally entitled to respect...

So bottom line: woman finds out she's 8.75 months pregnant and wants to terminate (as opposed to a C-section or natural delivery): immoral, and according to the Supreme Court, it can be illegal as well.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:21 AM on May 25, 2012


I think morality is important.

Are you implying the rest of us don't think morality is important? I certainly think morality is important. Among other things, I think it's immoral for anyone to force their own sense of morals on someone else, when they haven't been invited to weigh in, have nothing to do with the situation, and fundamentally don't belong. It's a fundamental breach of the Golden Rule.

I wouldn't say it's "perfectly moral." I still think that a biologically distinct, developing, and in this case viable member of the human race is morally entitled to respect...

Except if they're an irresponsible parent who let their child get diabetes? Then they're not entitled to respect, even though they're distinct and viable. So you have a consistency issue, in that you seem to think you should be the one to determine when it's moral or immoral to use law to limit someone's medical decisions, and are willing to draw lines based on your personal estimations about "responsibility."

This idea that your sense of who is and isn't "responsible" enough to make their own decisions, that you can sufficiently determine what is right and wrong even without examining the facts of any individual case, is what should set the legal standard for everyone is one I find utterly reprehensible and profoundly arrogant. I don't trust your decisionmaking, and I don't invite you to make decisions for me.

That's the basis for my stance, and my assertion of my ability to make decisions in a medical context without inviting the opinions of strangers - the same thing men enjoy routinely - is not an extreme point of view.
posted by Miko at 8:28 AM on May 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


We ought to be able to say that certain things are "immoral" irrespective of their legality.

It might not be the question for you. However, I think morality is important.


We're talking about a political issue.

One way of looking at it is that there are negative and positive forms of morality. There's negative morality, meaning rules like "do not kill" or "do not steal" - the idea being you can't break these rules - those are the ones we make into laws. Those are political issues, and universal concerns. If it's a moral value that theoretically can't be broken, then we need to vote on it and agree to it as a culture.

Then there are the positive values - the things that it is nice of you to do, the acts that go above and beyond, that show you are an excellent person. But these ones we don't expect everyone to always do. Some people just are really great people, but the ones that don't meet these standards can still be part of our nation, don't have to be put behind bars. These rules aren't made into laws, although some people will judge others for not being quite good enough.

Is donating a kidney an absolute law, or a supererogatory act? Is not having an abortion something which should be punished in court, or something that it is just better not to do? If these things are universally wrong, they are political issues. If they are just "good samaritan" forms of moral behavior, then you can have your opinions all you want, but you can also let other people deal with the consequences of their own decisions.

That's what's at stake here. Are these things which should be governmentally enforced, or not? That is the difference between being pro-life and pro-choice.
posted by mdn at 8:28 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


morally entitled to respect...

Also, this is not the same thing as "legally mandated to be born." I could agree with on this idea of consideration of and respect for the developing life, and still defend the need for an abortion. There are some cases where it has to happen. In saying "I find it's immoral, therefore it should also be illegal," you're making a leap. There's not a necessary link there. Many things which many of us find immoral remain perfectly legal, because to confine them in law would create a worse moral condition. In my view, abortion is a perfect example of one of those things.
posted by Miko at 8:31 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


So you have a consistency issue, in that you seem to think you should be the one to determine when it's moral or immoral to use law to limit someone's medical decisions, and are willing to draw lines based on your personal estimations about "responsibility."

Miko, please stop bringing law into the discussion. I am discussing morality, period.

You revealingly moved the goalposts in our earlier exchange: you suggested that the 8.75 month pregnant woman who wishes to have an abortion has only just discovered that she is pregnant. Does this mean that you concede that if she negligently waited until the last possible moment to terminate the fetus, she would be acting immorally?
posted by BobbyVan at 8:32 AM on May 25, 2012


In saying "I find it's immoral, therefore it should also be illegal," you're making a leap

Please read this comment, from me, from earlier in the thread.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:33 AM on May 25, 2012


Miko, please stop bringing law into the discussion. I am discussing morality, period.

No you're not! Come on, please. No one here is that dumb.

You revealingly moved the goalposts in our earlier exchange: you suggested that the 8.75 month pregnant woman who wishes to have an abortion has only just discovered that she is pregnant. Does this mean that you concede that if she negligently waited until the last possible moment to terminate the fetus, she would be acting immorally?

My dear, you posed a hypothetical making a distinction between parents who were caught unawares about a kidney failure in their child, who presumably could not be blamed for not taking earlier action, and parents who were aware of what they were doing and through their "irresponsibility" actively contributed to the development of diabetes in their child. It seems that you were arguing that because of the parent's knowing contribution to increased risk of diabetes, they should be held "responsible" and should be required to donate the kidney, whereas presumably the other parents, innocent as they are, should not be so required. If I have your position wrong, please correct me.

So to match your hypothetical, where one pregnant woman has been "irresponsible" in letting a pregnancy proceed so far, we need another pregnant woman who is unawares of her pregnancy. Perhaps she is retarded or mentally ill, or perhaps she is one of the people we hear of from time to time whose other health issues obscure her pregnancy. But in any case, to create equivalency in the thought experiment, we have to posit someone who doesn't know they're pregnant, finds it out at 8.75 months, and immediately asks for an abortion. If you accord her the same standard of consequences based on her "responsibility," then she should be as innocent as the parents whose child had unexpected sudden kidney failure with no risk factors. And you seemed to be saying that they shouldn't be required to donate their kidney. So in the hypothetical scenario, the same absence of "responsibility" should apply to the woman, and she shouldn't be required to have the baby. I'm simply mirroring your hypothetical back to you.
posted by Miko at 8:38 AM on May 25, 2012


All of this debate around when the cut off should be is really hair splitting. In Canada, we don't really have abortion laws, but the provincial medical associations have set cutoff dates, after which abortions cannot be performed in that province without justification. The cut offs vary, from around 18 weeks to 30 depending on where you live, but the issue is still handled between a woman and her doctor. This seems to balance the woman's rights and the pro-life concerns as much as possible, keeps legislators out of it and still allows room for exceptions.
posted by peppermind at 8:38 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


No you're not! Come on, please. No one here is that dumb.

I think I'm entitled to have my good faith in this discussion respected.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:40 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It might not be the question for you. However, I think morality is important.


This implies that someone who doesn't think their personal morality should necessarily have any legal weight in someone else's medical decisions must therefore think that morality is not important. That is not the case.
posted by rtha at 8:41 AM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, fine then, Bobby Van. I missed that comment, and as long as you are an advocate for safe and legal abortion during all stages of pregnancy, I really have no beef with you.

So you seem to want to talk, then, about the personal, individual morality around the act of abortion, and since I don't believe that personal, individual discussion is relevant to the goal of having safe and legal abortion, which is my only goal in the public conversation, I don't feel I need to engage that topic. I'm quite content for you to think differently about whether or not you would have an abortion, as long as you aren't advocating to have the power to make decisions for me or some third party. You're certainly entitled to your own view.

Peppermind, I was mindblown when I learned (only in recent years) about the Canadian construct, and yet all indicators are that it serves the society far better than our chaotic and angry complex patchwork of shifting law.
posted by Miko at 8:44 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I missed that comment, and as long as you are an advocate for safe and legal abortion during all stages of pregnancy, I really have no beef with you.

Legally, I'm a supporter of the status quo. Legally permissible during 1st trimester, less OK during 2nd, and oppose during 3rd except in extreme medical situations.

So you seem to want to talk, then, about the personal, individual morality around the act of abortion, and since I don't believe that personal, individual discussion is relevant to the goal of having safe and legal abortion, which is my only goal in the public conversation, I don't feel I need to engage that topic.

It's interesting that you allow your political objectives to dictate when a moral discussion is "relevant." I appreciate that you're so transparent about your partisanship.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:49 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Canadian system is hardly perfect- apparently there isn't a single abortion provider in the province of PEI for example, but I think the US could stand to learn from our approach on this issue, maybe.
posted by peppermind at 8:52 AM on May 25, 2012


Legally, I'm a supporter of the status quo. Legally permissible during 1st trimester, less OK during 2nd, and oppose during 3rd except in extreme medical situations.

Mm, then yes, I do disagree with you on that. I think it's an absolute mess. BEsides which, there is hardly a status quo, since we have so many encroachments that Roe v. Wade's structures are no longer a guarantee of access to these rights, as discussed upthread.

It's interesting that you allow your political objectives to dictate when a moral discussion is "relevant." I appreciate that you're so transparent about your partisanship.

"Partisanship?" What are you assuming there? No. It's based on an assertion of my rights as a human being and has nothing to do with party politics.

But yes, I don't go around asking to have moral discussions with strangers for no particular reason. I have a right to my personal morality, and you have a right to yours, and we should both enjoy that until the sun sets over the Brazos. So there's no need to insist than anyone engage in that discussion recreationally. In fact, it's a bit bullying. If you want to shoot the shit about moral reasoning just for kicks, that's awesome, but you need willing partners. In a case in which you're not trying to make decisions for me or limit my access to resources, I just don't opt in. If you're not proposing to take away my freedoms, we don't have much to talk about in this context.

I see that you, to some degree, are proposing that, but you don't want to talk about legality, you want to talk about morality, and since I'm much more interested in talking about legality and not especially interested in talking about personal morality, you don't leave us much to discuss.

I think the US could stand to learn from our approach on this issue, maybe.

Oh, definitely. And we've now got vast swaths of the nation where there's no providers. I've looked into it pretty closely in the past, and the structure is far superior and produces better results. I'm not surprised that some of the same problems with training and distribution exist, though.
posted by Miko at 9:00 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


BobbyVan, for me it has little to do with talking points or political objectives. Just that morality is different for all and its not relevant to whether I am allowed control over my body and my medical decisions. Men already enjoy this freedom, and women deserve the same.
posted by agregoli at 9:11 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Partisanship?" What are you assuming there? No. It's based on an assertion of my rights as a human being and has nothing to do with party politics.

Partisanship means more than allegiance to the Republican or Democratic parties. This is the definition I go by: "A fervent, sometimes militant supporter or proponent of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea." So to be clear, you have an allegiance to a cause "the goal of having safe and legal abortion," but are unwilling to discuss the morality of abortions themselves.

Getting back to the FPP itself, it seems that the fact that most Americans call themselves pro-life, yet support legal abortions, means that they - like me - have moral objections to abortions despite their support for their legality. If you're not willing to engage on this topic, maybe this isn't the best thread for you.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:14 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"A fervent, sometimes militant supporter or proponent of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea."

Thanks for clarifying your definition, which isn't the most common and wasn't the one I was working with. Your right, my goal of protecting my freedom is paramount.

So to be clear, you have an allegiance to a cause "the goal of having safe and legal abortion," but are unwilling to discuss the morality of abortions themselves.

I will agree with this sentence if you add the words "...with you."

Getting back to the FPP itself, it seems that the fact that most Americans call themselves pro-life, yet support legal abortions, means that they - like me - have moral objections to abortions despite their support for their legality. If you're not willing to engage on this topic, maybe this isn't the best thread for you.

It's a great thread for me to defend the idea that it needs to be legal despite moral objections. In fact, if that's the discussion, it's kind of the ideal thread. It's not important why you think it's immoral, or who thinks it's immoral. What's important is the legality. I recognize that people have differing moral views on abortion, that's a given. I just don't see those personal views as bearing on the legal discussion.
posted by Miko at 9:19 AM on May 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Miko, per usual, you are so right on with this topic. Thank you, sincerely.
posted by agregoli at 9:23 AM on May 25, 2012


I will agree with this sentence if you add the words "...with you."

May I ask why? Is it something about me in particular? Or is it the topic (abortion) that you're uncomfortable discussing in moral terms? I think the fact that you actively seek to avoid discussing the moral aspects of abortion speaks volumes.

I'd also refer you to Andrew Rosenthal, the editor of the New York Times editorial page, who blogged on this very subject a few days ago.
Fifty-one percent say abortion is “morally wrong,” up from 45 percent in 2001, whereas only 38 percent say it’s “morally acceptable,” down from 42 percent in 2001. But only 20 percent of Americans say they think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. A majority, 52 percent, think it should be legal under certain circumstances, and 25 percent say it should be legal in any circumstance. In other words, there are more pro-choice absolutists than pro-life absolutists, and far more people who take a middle position than absolutists on either side.

The smart move for abortion rights advocates might be to work on expanding the immoral-but-legal community—without abandoning the fight to gain converts to the moral-and-legal camp—and to make it clear that the “pro-choice” label refers to a pragmatic position and not necessarily to a moral ideal.
To summarize, Rosenthal thinks it's a good political strategy for pro-choice advocates to engage with Americans who think abortion is morally wrong, but could be convinced on pragmatic terms that it should be legal. Some familiarity and comfort with discussing the moral side of the argument would be helpful to partisans like yourself.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:30 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


In terms of strategy that's interesting, but I'm not much interested in keeping abortion shameful.
posted by agregoli at 9:41 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


May I ask why? Is it something about me in particular?

Yes. I don't trust you.

Or is it the topic (abortion) that you're uncomfortable discussing in moral terms?

Not at all. In fact, I took a philosophy class on the topic in college, and do a fair amount of reading and writing about it, and also discuss it with friends and family and members of my church when it comes up.

I think the fact that you actively seek to avoid discussing the moral aspects of abortion speaks volumes.

Really? Tell me, what volumes does it speak? What conclusions are you drawing from this refusal? I'm all ears.

To summarize, Rosenthal thinks it's a good political strategy for pro-choice advocates to engage with Americans who think abortion is morally wrong, but could be convinced on pragmatic terms that it should be legal. Some familiarity and comfort with discussing the moral side of the argument would be helpful to partisans like yourself.

Oh, I have plenty of familiarity and comfort! I think you draw an erroneous conclusion in suggesting that because I see no profit nor anything to be gained in discussing this with you, I don't or won't discuss it with anyone. Of course it's smart to continue talking about why abortion should be legal; exactly what I'm doing here. What have I been talking about other than a "pragmatic position and not...a moral ideal"? It's you who seem to keep wanting to drag it back into a moral discussion.
posted by Miko at 9:47 AM on May 25, 2012


In terms of strategy that's interesting, but I'm not much interested in keeping abortion shameful.

That's a very odd answer. Rosenthal is suggesting that a significant number of people who believe abortion is immoral could be convinced that it should be legal. Isn't that what pro-choice partisans - who care only about the law - should hope for? It seems that when you argue that abortion should be not only legal but free from shame, you're the one implicating a moral argument.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:49 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes. I don't trust you.

You and I are done. Bye.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:50 AM on May 25, 2012


MetaFilter: I took a philosophy class on the topic in college.
posted by modernnomad at 9:51 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's very funny that Rosenthal outlays this detailed strategy as though he just thought of it (which he probably did; health and women's issues aren't truly his métier), when in fact it's what I and others have been doing for decades.:
Maybe pro-choice groups should concentrate on explaining to Americans, many of whom are too young to remember life before Roe v. Wade, that before abortion was legal there were still abortions. And they could stress that if abortion becomes illegal—either in certain states or throughout the country—there will still be abortions. Possibly there will be fewer abortions (possibly not, it’s difficult to say), but it is certain that abortions will be less safe, raising the risk that women could die during the procedure.

Pro-choice groups could better convey that the end to legal abortion won’t result in a “culture of life”— it will result in a dangerous medical black market. Those who oppose abortion and wish to protect the unborn shouldn’t be fighting to overturn Roe (and by the way trying to defund Planned Parenthood and impose failed abstinence-only schemes on public schools). They should be fighting to reduce unwanted pregnancies.
posted by Miko at 9:52 AM on May 25, 2012


MetaFilter: I took a philosophy class on the topic in college.

To be fair, few people have spent an entire semester reading dozens of articles of philosophical and legal argument on the topic. What it means is that they're aren't any arguments I haven't yet dealt with, though I am still arriving at new perspectives in the discussion.

You and I are done. Bye.

Why is that not okay to say? It's a fact. I don't think you're playing fair here, and I don't engage in deeply personal moral discussions with people who I think are doing so only to play "gotcha" and snag me on some point that they will then use to try to score points in the argument. That's not what I'm interested in. I think it's fair to say it. You may not trust me either, which is fine; it's not required to have a discussion. But when you want to start probing my personal moral philosophy, then it should be OK for me to refuse on the basis that I don't even know you.

It seems that when you argue that abortion should be not only legal but free from shame, you're the one implicating a moral argument.

Personal estimations of whether shame is warranted or not can touch on a moral argument, yes. But apart from the personal discussion, recognizing that shame is a construct which reifies a particular moral foundation for law and therefore undermines arguments for legality without relevance to personal morals, even as it purports to advance those arguments, isn't a contradiction. If the recommended tactic is "abortion is terrible but it must be legal anyway," then those adopting the tactic are accepting the moral assumption that abortion is terrible. Some of accept that but some of us don't, and ultimately that acceptance is not a necessary precondition for legality. So the argument for shame is unnecessary to the argument for legality.

Besides which, you yourself rejected this type of argument when you rejected Cortes' slavery analogy.
posted by Miko at 10:02 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


t they're

ugh, bad typos. THERE, and should also read, "aren't MANY arguments" (not "any," though it's rare to find one falling into some new category).
posted by Miko at 10:04 AM on May 25, 2012


Why is that not okay to say? It's a fact. I don't think you're playing fair here, and I don't engage in deeply personal moral discussions with people who I think are doing so only to play "gotcha" and snag me on some point that they will then use to try to score points in the argument. That's not what I'm interested in. I think it's fair to say it. You may not trust me either, which is fine; it's not required to have a discussion. But when you want to start probing my personal moral philosophy, then it should be OK for me to refuse on the basis that I don't even know you.
I hate going back on my word to re-engage here - especially when my good faith has been questioned time and again (that's generally frowned upon here, right?). And since when did one's moral views become so precious? We aren't talking about any personal experiences with abortions (at least I'm not)... just generalities and hypotheticals which are frequently used to illuminate the ethics of abortion (see Judith Jarvis Thomson, someone I'm sure you're quite familiar with).
Personal estimations of whether shame is warranted or not can touch on a moral argument, yes. But apart from the personal discussion, recognizing that shame is a construct which reifies a particular moral foundation for law and therefore undermines arguments for legality without relevance to personal morals, even as it purports to advance those arguments, isn't a contradiction. If the recommended tactic is "abortion is terrible but it must be legal anyway," then those adopting the tactic are accepting the moral assumption that abortion is terrible. Some of accept that but some of us don't, and ultimately that acceptance is not a necessary precondition for legality. So the argument for shame is unnecessary to the argument for legality.
You're giving away the game now. It's not that you want to protect your private, innermost moral thoughts from harsh scrutiny; rather, you don't want to be party to the "reification" of a "particular moral foundation for law" thereby "undermining arguments" for abortion's legality. You are the "reification" of partisanship, and it's sad that we can't have a discussion (unless you "trust" that we already agree on our destination).
posted by BobbyVan at 10:25 AM on May 25, 2012


We aren't talking about any personal experiences with abortions

(a) How would you know?
(b) They're all personal experiences.

I'm not sure what "game" you think I'm "giving away." That's not how I think about conversation. To me this is not a game, it's my life.

I said that shame doesn't belong in a pragmatic argument. There's no need to shame people as part of making sure abortion stays safe and legal. It doesn't bear. Plain and simple version of the above. IN the moral discussion we aren't having, we could surely talk about whether shame is warranted, but it's not at all a necessary part of a legal discussion.

it's sad that we can't have a discussion (unless you "trust" that we already agree on our destination).

No, we don't need to agree on a destination. I just need to think that you're sincere and honorable in your approach, and you're not. I don't trust you to listen. I don't trust you to be fair. You're doing the "gotcha" thing left and right; who wants to talk with someone like that, especially about personal worldview? Yeesh.

You even seem to presuppose that your discussion of this worldview would involve "harsh scrutiny." Wow, what a tempting invitation to a fun and open exchange of views! Yeah, you're on the up-and-up, all right.
posted by Miko at 10:43 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


hydropsyche: "Can we be honest for a minute and everybody agree that this hypothetical "abortion on a whim a 8.5 months" has never happened and never will?"

Should we have to wait for it to happen? Can't we draw boundaries around it?

"But, I, as a woman who might need an abortion one day, would rather that the decision of when to have an abortion not be a matter of legislation"

And all of a sudden everybody is a fucking libertarian. Who is John Galt?
posted by gertzedek at 10:50 AM on May 25, 2012


Can't we draw boundaries around it?

Why? Can't doctors draw boundaries around it?
posted by Miko at 10:52 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Miko, first of all, I didn't bring "shame" into the discussion - agregoli did, arguing that the strategy of expanding the pro-choice tent by engaging with the middle (which believes abortion is immoral but should be legal, at least sometimes) was "interesting" but not appealing because it had the potential of "keeping abortion shameful." I thought the comment was revealing, in that it rested on moral grounds.
I said that shame doesn't belong in a pragmatic argument. There's no need to shame people as part of making sure abortion stays safe and legal. It doesn't bear. Plain and simple version of the above. IN the moral discussion we aren't having, we could surely talk about whether shame is warranted, but it's not at all a necessary part of a legal discussion.
The idea isn't to "shame people as part of making sure abortion stays safe and legal." It's to convince people who already think it's shameful that despite their deeply held views, it still ought to be legal on pragmatic grounds. So while you hope to conduct the discussion on legal terms, it's clear that a parallel discussion is taking place on moral terms. You don't need to agree, obviously, that abortion can be immoral, but it would likely help the pro-choice movement to "work on expanding the immoral-but-legal community."

To be specific, wouldn't it be helpful, pragmatically, to the pro-choice movement if there were people making the argument: "I'm with you and think abortion is immoral. But think of the alternative - government getting between women and their doctors; desperate women dying from illegal abortions." I can see how this might appeal to those squishy folks who identify as "pro-life" -- there are, according to polling, far fewer pro-life absolutists than pro-choice absolutists.
You even seem to presuppose that your discussion of this worldview would involve "harsh scrutiny." Wow, what a tempting invitation to a fun and open exchange of views! Yeah, you're on the up-and-up, all right.
You know, you've consistently called me "untrustworthy" and doubted my good faith in this discussion. Now you're twisting my words to make it seem like I'm promising "harsh scrutiny" of your private moral code. It's dirty pool... but hey, I guess anything's fair game when you're trying to prevent the "reification" of structures that could potentially undermine political goals.
posted by BobbyVan at 11:22 AM on May 25, 2012


Miko: "Why? Can't doctors draw boundaries around it?"

Go back to the hypothetical case we're discussing. This is not a medical issue. Try again.
posted by gertzedek at 11:22 AM on May 25, 2012


Should we have to wait for it to happen? Can't we draw boundaries around it?

Who is the "we" in this, and why do they get to have a say?
posted by rtha at 11:25 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't bring shame into the discussion. Calling something immoral brings the concept of shameful into it. I still am not interested in calling any abortion shameful or immoral, because like Miko has said, it's not my business to judge someone else's life or medical decisons, just as I'd like them to not judge mine (or at least not legally prevent me from making the decisons that are right for my life).
posted by agregoli at 11:27 AM on May 25, 2012


Go back to the hypothetical case we're discussing. This is not a medical issue. Try again.

It is a medical issue: it's a medical procedure. There are doctors involved, because that would be a very complicated act requiring a surgical team, which rather negates some of the rather repugnant framework of "whim." (As if the women who undergo abortions really consider it some sort of light and fluffy decision at any stage.) And how would you want us to draw boundaries around this? Is there a level of whimsy that would be acceptable? Would it be absolutely okay for you if it were for medical reasons? Mental reasons? Why would you feel capable of drawing those boundaries?
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:29 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who is the "we" in this, and why do they get to have a say?

According to all the stats thrown in this thread, there appears to be a majority of Americans who think aborting a 8.5 month fetus on a whim should be not be legal, but who think abortion should be legal in several other cases. By catering to a fringe who think a woman should be able to make "medical decisions about her body" (which is a weird claim, because there are many cases where the decision is not medical, and after a certain point in the pregancy you'd have to be fanatic to classify a fetus as simply being a part of a woman's body), pro-choice partisans alienate the people who think like BobbyVan described: "Legally permissible during 1st trimester, less OK during 2nd, and oppose during 3rd except in extreme medical situations."
posted by gertzedek at 11:36 AM on May 25, 2012


"And how would you want us to draw boundaries around this?"

It's called representative democracy, it's a simple concept.

Is there a level of whimsy that would be acceptable?

Huh?

Would it be absolutely okay for you if it were for medical reasons?

Yes.

Mental reasons?

Probably yes.

Why would you feel capable of drawing those boundaries?

Who said I would be the one doing it? It's called representative democracy. You should read up on it, it's a beautiful thing.
posted by gertzedek at 11:39 AM on May 25, 2012


By catering to a fringe who think a woman should be able to make "medical decisions about her body"

I feel like there may be a fringe in abortion rights, but it's definitely not to be found in the "medical decisions about her body" (why the scare quotes, seriously?) contingent. None of us who have brought up medical decisions have qualified it as a simple issue, and even at the stage where a fetus might be viable, it's a medical issue in that pregnancy could still kill the woman. Or maim her, or another of medical issues that affect everything involved. The medical issues are usually the most privileged in abortion debates, really.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:41 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I want to know is: what is up with the missing 9%? Are there seriously almost 1/10 of the population who hasn't sorted out their position on this?
posted by dgran at 11:41 AM on May 25, 2012


agregoli: It's certainly fair for you to say that you don't want to "judge someone else's life or medical decisions." But advocating keeping abortion not only safe and legal but also above moral reproach is itself a moral argument.
posted by BobbyVan at 11:43 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are there seriously almost 1/10 of the population who hasn't sorted out their position on this?

Supreme Court hopefuls?
posted by BobbyVan at 11:45 AM on May 25, 2012


"And how would you want us to draw boundaries around this?"

It's called representative democracy, it's a simple concept.


Seriously? I find this extremely condescending; please accord me the respect of assuming I know how voting works. That's not the answer to the question we were discussing. You asked for specific boundaries regarding access to a specific procedure. It is reasonable to assume you meant what kinds of access would be allowed and in what cases, since the legislation of abortion is the foundation of all of these questions.

Is there a level of whimsy that would be acceptable?


The hypothesis was predicated "on a whim." "Whimsy" was in direct reference to this.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:46 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


jetlagaddict: "why the scare quotes"

Should be explained by what's in parenthesis after the "scare quotes". "Medical" and "her body" are the keywords here.

"It's a medical issue in that pregnancy could still kill the woman"

We're talking about a case in which a healthy, normal pregnancy is terminated at 8.5 months. Why should that be allowed?
posted by gertzedek at 11:46 AM on May 25, 2012


With the edge case hypothetical of the viable 8 months and three weeks baby the "medical decisions" thing just doesn't work. You can't defend the concept of total control over your medical decisions when doing so means you are making a medical decision to perform a surgery on another human being that will kill them. I mean you can believe that if you want, but practically nobody will agree with you and you sound a bit insane and hypocritical.

Now, it's kind of a pointless hypothetical since I find it unlikely a doctor would go along with this without a good medical reason, but women have murdered or abandoned actual children before. It is not inconceivable that this option might be preferred if someone was appropriately desperate and troubled and I would expect society to help them with that but not them kill a viable fetus under those circumstances.

Sometimes people need to be told no, try and get a surgeon to give you SRS surgery without a diagnosis. Ask for prescription drugs over the counter. Try and commit suicide and see how quickly your stomach gets pumped. Ask for legal medical pot.

I'm not saying I agree with all that, I'm just saying we aren't living in a society where we let people do whatever they want with their bodies, abortion isn't the only example here.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:52 AM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


furiousxgeorge: "Now, it's kind of a pointless hypothetical"

I bet it is, but it's not about the hypothetical, but rather what it reveals about someone's way of looking at things. It's quite clear to me that the people who look at this hypothetical and say "fine, whatever, it's her body and her medical decision" scare the everloving shit out of the people who think abortion should be legal and readily available in the first trimester but not as simple to get (and increasingly difficult) as the pregnancy goes through its course. However, the people on the second group are the ones whose vote wins elections.

And you wonder why the American left is in the state it's in? Who does this orthodoxy serves? Certainly it's not serving women.
posted by gertzedek at 12:13 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


scare the everloving shit out of the people who think abortion should be legal and readily available in the first trimester but not as simple to get (and increasingly difficult) as the pregnancy goes through its course

I don't know it would scare them, since reality as she stands is that abortion is (kind of, depending on where you live) available in the first trimester and increasingly difficult as the pregnancy goes on.

I don't understand, and never have, why people aren't *more* scared of legislators who have no medical background and probably haven't had a bio class since high school making laws without regard to actual public health and medical practices. Third-trimester terminations were already incredibly rare before they were restricted even more by legislation, because women who get that far along in a pregnancy want to be pregnant, and have terminations because their lives and/or future reproductive capability are at risk; these are decisions made by the pregnant woman and her doctors. Why is this something that requires legislation by a bunch of dudes who couldn't find a Fallopian tube if they fell over one?
posted by rtha at 12:21 PM on May 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't understand, and never have, why people aren't *more* scared of legislators who have no medical background and probably haven't had a bio class since high school making laws without regard to actual public health and medical practices.

I don't understand, and never have, why people aren't *more* scared of legislators who have no financial background and probably have never had a finance class making laws without regard to the actual workings of the securities and mortgage markets.

All of a sudden, everybody is a fucking libertarian.
posted by gertzedek at 12:31 PM on May 25, 2012


Shrug. I just don't see how treating women as if they're evil for having an abortion is important, I guess.
posted by agregoli at 12:33 PM on May 25, 2012


(Why this libertarian charge over and over again? Unhelpful.)
posted by agregoli at 12:34 PM on May 25, 2012


(Why this libertarian charge over and over again? Unhelpful.)

Because it's really rich, specially here.
posted by gertzedek at 12:37 PM on May 25, 2012


It's libertarian (you say that like it's dirty word, and for what it's worth, actual libertarians would laugh me out of their club if I tried to join it) to wonder why legislation might be needed for a particular thing? Millions of people wonder this about all kinds of legislation; this does not make millions of people libertarians.

Also, it's not an argument to say All of a sudden, everybody is a fucking libertarian.

Seriously, a question: why is legislation needed to prevent an edge case so edge that no one can actually cite it ever happening?
posted by rtha at 12:45 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


rtha: "Seriously, a question: why is legislation needed to prevent an edge case so edge that no one can actually cite it ever happening?"

Because your defense of the hypothetical case HURTS YOUR CAUSE.
posted by gertzedek at 12:48 PM on May 25, 2012


Libertarians can (and do) come down either way on this debate, though the Libertarian Party has a pro-choice platform. As a group of people who care a lot about individual rights, they will end up making the decision on the same grounds most people do: When do you consider the fetus an individual with rights?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:53 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shrug. I just don't see how treating women as if they're evil for having an abortion is important, I guess.

Today's debate got going when some people refused to take a stand on the morality of aborting an 8 3/4 month old fetus. Don't make this about all women who have ever had an abortion.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:15 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because your defense of the hypothetical case HURTS YOUR CAUSE.

I'm going to ask for some actual evidence for this.

I do not believe that saying "I believe women who have no idea they're pregnant until they're 8.5 months in and decide they want abortions just cuz are such a problem that we should legislate against it" will help my cause. It's horseshit. Good laws are not made by legislating against edge cases that don't happen. What you end up with are bad laws that create huge problems for the (very few) women who medically need to not be pregnant (when they want to be!) or they'll die.

Anyway, arguing against strawmen (e.g. irresponsible slutty hos who have abortions at 8 months because they're too dumb or selfish to recognize a pregnancy - but they're not too dumb or selfish or slutty to raise a child!) is poor practice for any cause.
posted by rtha at 1:31 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Don't make this about all women who have ever had an abortion.

But it is.

To be specific, wouldn't it be helpful, pragmatically, to the pro-choice movement if there were people making the argument: "I'm with you and think abortion is immoral. But think of the alternative - government getting between women and their doctors; desperate women dying from illegal abortions." I can see how this might appeal to those squishy folks who identify as "pro-life" -- there are, according to polling, far fewer pro-life absolutists than pro-choice absolutists.

Sure it could be helpful to some degree, but ultimately it undermines the pragmatic argument. In any case, even if it could be helpful, what does that have to do with me?

Today's debate got going when some people refused to take a stand on the morality of aborting an 8 3/4 month old fetus. Don't make this about all women who have ever had an abortion.

Not really. It's a fairly ludicrous case, especially the "whim" clause, so it's a silly one to entertain. But let's assume that some such situation was real. Given that in the past century women did do things like furiousxgeorge lists - ingest poision, throw themselves down stairs, abandon and kill babies, and ended up occasionally killing the babies and themselves or leaving themselves infertile, then it shouldn't be so unimaginable that if a doctor finds a woman with a weak grip on her sanity likely to do such things if abortion were unavailable, the decision could be to make available a choice to do something less harmful, and terminate the pregnancy. That can safely be left to medical protocol and medical ethics and to the decisions of licensed and trained providers.

It's extraordinarily unlikely that it would ever happen on a "whim" - just really out there. But it would be good for that determination to be made under medical care, and for a doctor to look at all the particulars of a situation - age of the mother, mental health, abuse conditions, cause of the pregnancy, likely prognosis for her, likely prognosis for baby - and make the best decision, even when it's heartbreaking.

And that's why it is, actually, about all women and all abortions.
posted by Miko at 1:40 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can we pause for just a second and consider Canada again? Isn't it remarkable that somehow they are able to treat abortion as a medical decision and in fact not legislate against abortion at all, but rather have a designated point beyond which a justification is required, but still treat even that as a medical decision? Before I get called an amoral libertarian monster once again, can we just pause and realize that there is an entire country immediately to our north that thinks of abortion much more the way I do? How can I be harming the cause so much, with my utter lack of political voice or power, when there exists a completely other approach out there, which is currently happening right this minute in a whole country, and as far as I know no Canadians are having abortions on a whim in their 8.99999 month if pregnancy?

Could it be that it is possible to treat this as a medical decision? Canada says yes. Canadian women whose bodies, minds, and lives are on the line say yes, A bunch of Americans with no experience or stake in the issue say no. I'm going with Canada.
posted by hydropsyche at 1:49 PM on May 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Miko: "It's extraordinarily unlikely that it would ever happen on a whim'"

... but in case it does, operators are standing by to make the experience as comfortable as possible for you.

For the last time: It's not about the hypothetical. The proposal hypothetical situation is indeed ludicrous. It's about how you react to it. It's what it tells about you.
posted by gertzedek at 1:56 PM on May 25, 2012



Today's debate got going when some people refused to take a stand on the morality of aborting an 8 3/4 month old fetus. Don't make this about all women who have ever had an abortion.


I have personal views and opinions on this, but I think when speaking about the legalities and legislation related to the matter, they are completely irrelevant. I believe in legal morality only when it comes to natural and legal rights and the imposition upon said rights of others.

I can see where there's the effort to grant personhood, and therefore legal rights to the fetus, but I still think that it's not a case for the courts -- it's one for the legal and medical judgments of the doctor and patient. I don't feel viability of the organism is something that the legal establishment is capable of rationally tackling. Someone actually had an abortion at over eight months and you think it was medically wrong? Fine, sue the doctor for malpractice. Petition to have her or his license revoked. If it wasn't done by a doctor, have them arrested for practicing medicine without a license.
posted by mikeh at 1:56 PM on May 25, 2012


I can definitely take a stand on a real late-term case, by the way. Like these kinds of cases. No problem.
A significant number of women need access to abortion care after the first trimester (after 12 weeks of pregnancy) for many different reasons. While later abortions are a small percentage of all abortions performed in the U.S., over 35,000 women each year have abortions at 16-20 weeks gestation, and over 11,000 women need abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

There are no abortion services at all in 87% of U.S. counties, and the number of facilities offering later abortions is even more limited. According to the 2005 survey of abortion providers conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, the majority of abortions between 17 and 24 weeks are performed in a few freestanding abortion clinics.

The assassination of George Tiller, MD, has had a significant effect on access to later abortion in the U.S. His death and the subsequent closing of his clinic bring to light the striking lack of options for a small but significant portion of abortion patients who need later abortions.
No matter how many scaremongering and unrealistic hypotheticals are constructed, I am going to defend the same principle of total access to abortion services and the necessity of including only the pregnant woman, her family, and her medical practitioners in the conversation. It's absolutely no one else's conversation to have, not even if you lie awake at night worrying that some irresponsible nineteen-year-old floozy is going to somehow take advantage of the system. I not going to do, or to advocate, one damn thing to make late termination any harder to get, or harder to endure, than it already is. Not because some passel f strangers whom it impacts not at all, sitting far outside the situation, with a complete lack of specific information and context, and yammering on about the importance of their morals decides it should never happen. Not for any reason.
posted by Miko at 1:58 PM on May 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's about how you react to it. It's what it tells about you.

Can you please explain more about what it tells about me? No one followed up on that request from me before. Go ahead.
posted by Miko at 1:59 PM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Today's debate got going when some people refused to take a stand on the morality of aborting an 8 3/4 month old fetus. Don't make this about all women who have ever had an abortion.

I deeply apologize if I am putting words in anyone's mouth, but I think this is the crux of the disagreement. BobbyVan, what I believe (and others, I think) is that my moral judgment on this, if I have one, is completely irrelevant. I get that people believe that there is some point where legalities and morality have to cross, in that the law has to recognize or differentiate between situations. I don't believe this is the case, and that other authorities, such as the medical establishment, or pregnant woman, have the burden of making that decision.

You can argue that I'm lazy and outsourcing the decision on what counts as a human as far as the law goes, but that's it -- I'm not being lazy, I just feel that I have no authority here. My judgment isn't necessary.

The only late-second trimester situation I'm personally aware of was a coworker's relative who, at a rather late stage, found out that her baby's brain was developing completely outside of its skull. It would not survive. The Catholic-associated hospital she was going to for maternity care refused to even induce labor -- she was stuck carrying a baby that wasn't going to make it for a couple more months, so she switched hospitals.
posted by mikeh at 2:05 PM on May 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sure it could be helpful to some degree, but ultimately it undermines the pragmatic argument.

Reasonable people can disagree on this.

In any case, even if it could be helpful, what does that have to do with me?

Nothing to do w/ you at all.

It's fascinating how many different variations on the "whim" late-term abortion we've seen, all presented to put a positive spin on the case. She only now found out she's pregnant. She's mentally unstable and might hurt herself. I can acknowledge both of those as mitigating elements... But if all we care about is the law, and morality is irrelevant to abortion, why do you persist in reworking the hypothetical to exonerate the expectant mother from our moral judgment?

It's also interesting that you offer up "medical protocol and medical ethics" as a guide for handling the difficult case of the late-term "whim" abortion. Would you consider it ethical for a doctor to override the expressed wishes of a mentally healthy patient in this case?
posted by BobbyVan at 2:07 PM on May 25, 2012


Would you consider it ethical for a doctor to override the expressed wishes of a mentally healthy patient in this case?

Aren't there medical review boards and malpractice law to decide that?
posted by mikeh at 2:09 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


why do you persist in reworking the hypothetical to exonerate the expectant mother from our moral judgment?

As I said above and you ignored, I only constructed that hypothetical to match your hypothetical organ donor. I wanted to see if you'd spot your own inconsisntency there, but you didn't, you just moved past it.

Would you consider it ethical for a doctor to override the expressed wishes of a mentally healthy patient in this case?

Yes. In fact, it happens all the time, sometimes quite unfortunately.
posted by Miko at 2:10 PM on May 25, 2012


There are also second opinions. But in the reality of the situation, I deeply doubt you could find a doctor willing to give the hypothetical 8.99999INFINITY abortion with absolutely no mitigating factors. It is hard enough, as the stories I linked indicated, to get one even when it's going to kill you if you don't.
posted by Miko at 2:11 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


all presented to put a positive spin on the case

Well, and also that the case is so edge, that some sort of spin has to be put on it to make it even slightly conceivable. (yes, you see what I did there.)

And I would suspect that what would actually happen with a mentally healthy person with a healthy pregnancy and fetus who wanted an abortion at 8.5 months is that doctors would refuse to take her as a patient. A couple of weeks and there would be a whole new set of issues, but not the abortion one.
posted by gaspode at 2:12 PM on May 25, 2012


But in the reality of the situation, I deeply doubt you could find a doctor willing to give the hypothetical 8.99999INFINITY abortion with absolutely no mitigating factors.

For good reason too, because that doctor would know intuitively that it would be wrong.
posted by BobbyVan at 2:14 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


So why the need for legislation?
posted by gaspode at 2:15 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


For good reason too, because that doctor would know intuitively that it would be wrong.

I don't think we can assert anything about what a hypothetical doctor knows.

But it doesn't matter to me what the doctor knows or believes. It's the doctor's decision. I'm aware that the medical consensus on aborting healthy late-term fetuses is exactly what gaspode indicates - people don't do it. Whether that's because they fear exposure for malpractice, or believe it's wrong, is none of my business. That's the business of the medical profession, and I'm content to leave them to it.
posted by Miko at 2:17 PM on May 25, 2012


Gotta run out for the long weekend... It's been interesting, and Miko, I want you to know that I've been coming at this thing honestly. I hope you'll reconsider your comments that I've been discussing this in bad faith.
posted by BobbyVan at 2:17 PM on May 25, 2012


Perhaps; thanks BobbyVan, I will try to read your future comments with that in mind.
posted by Miko at 2:18 PM on May 25, 2012


To be specific, wouldn't it be helpful, pragmatically, to the pro-choice movement if there were people making the argument: "I'm with you and think abortion is immoral. But think of the alternative - government getting between women and their doctors; desperate women dying from illegal abortions."

That's been the platform of the democratic party most of the time - certainly John Kerry who specifically claimed he was personally opposed to abortion, but the "safe, legal, and rare" approach has been a major component since at least Clinton.

People who make a more absolute claim do have an important point though: women's rights should override fetal rights. Women are actual citizens. Fetuses are gestating inside of women, and have not become members of society yet. They are entirely dependent (not just for food and shelter, but down to blood flow & oxygen) on those women to even be on their way to being alive.

To protect the rights of the fetuses before the rights of the women is pretty disrespectful to women as a class. Women are fully functioning human beings who are meant to be equal citizens. Fetuses are potential, unborn, unknown pre-citizens.

What rights are at stake? The women claim the rights to use their own bodies as they prefer. The fetuses have surrogates who claim for them the right to use the bodies of the women to finish developing into self-sufficient life-forms.
posted by mdn at 2:21 PM on May 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Whether that's because they fear exposure for malpractice, or believe it's wrong, is none of my business. That's the business of the medical profession, and I'm content to leave them to it.

I think it might be because they swear to do no harm and that would be intentionally killing someone because a different person requested it for no medically necessary reason. I don't think coming to that conclusion in regards to this hypothetical requires any particular specialized medical insight.

After a certain point in the pregnancy you need to balance the rights of both individuals instead of just considering the rights of the mother. It is very controversial where you draw that line, but it is difficult for me to see any way it could not have been crossed in this imaginary scenario.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:24 PM on May 25, 2012


I'm sure that most doctors would agree with you, furiousxgeorge (though of course at points before birth the pregnant woman is still not a "different person").

And if we all agree that's satisfactory and as it should be, and that we can expect doctors to interpret their oaths wisely and properly or be held accountable, then we are all set without needing to legislate it.

Because in the real world, few of the cases they see at that late stage are actually going to be such easy calls.
posted by Miko at 2:34 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it might be because they swear to do no harm and that would be intentionally killing someone because a different person requested it for no medically necessary reason.

Doctors manage to do this in all kinds of other medical procedures (e.g. refusing to amputate a healthy limb because the person just doesn't want a left arm anymore) without laws compelling them to do so.

Then you get stuff like that law in Oklahoma where doctors can't be sued for not telling a pregnant patient that the fetus has defects if they're afraid the patient would run out and get an abortion. The end result is, I guess, fewer abortions - and more women who thought they were going to have healthy babies but WHOOPS no. Imagine finding out that your baby was born with serious health problems and you didn't know - couldn't do anything to prepare beforehand - because your doc thought you'd have an abortion if you knew. Prior to this law, perhaps sometimes doctors lied to their patients (for whatever reasons - fear of hard conversations, fear that the patient would terminate, etc.), but the patients at least at the teeny recourse of being able to sue. Now, not even that.
posted by rtha at 2:41 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Miko, what do you mean by "be held accountable"? By whom? Doesn't that still require some objective standard of behavior that doctors must follow?
posted by moderate at 2:42 PM on May 25, 2012


(though of course at points before birth the pregnant woman is still not a "different person").

I, of course, disagree.
-
I would be okay with not legislating that doctors not do it on the grounds that they wouldn't do it anyway if there weren't some doctors out there like Kermit Gosnell who seem to be, well, insane. (though his case also illustrates clearly the limits of government oversight and the horror of what back alley abortion can be like)

Prosecutors allege that he killed seven babies born alive by severing their spinal cords with scissors, and that he was also responsible for the death of a woman, Karnamaya Mongar[11] in his care who died after a botched abortion

I'm okay with the government being extra careful with the prohibition. A baby that was aborted on a whim in our imaginary scenario would not exactly be likely to sue for malpractice.

But really, the reason it is banned is that many people in our country feel very strongly that this is a possibility already and even 79% of the pro-choice self-id folks support banning late term abortion.

It's illegal because practically everyone in the country by an overwhelmingly massive majority wants it to be, and the courts feel the law does not violate the constitution.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:53 PM on May 25, 2012


Miko, what do you mean by "be held accountable"? By whom? Doesn't that still require some objective standard of behavior that doctors must follow?

Of course - and they already do. First, they need to be licensed to practice by the state (details here, for a price). There are state Medical Boards, there is Continuing Medical Education, the Ethics group in the AMA, Medical Specialty Board Certification (of which obstetrics and gynecology is one). Hospitals and clinics have their own governance and review procedures and licensing bodies. Nurses do too. Organizations of physicians and health care providers have been developed to consider and advise on ethical issues and practice and develop protocols - such as the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the AMA's Clinical Practice Improvement group and the Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement, And if you believe that a physician failed to treat you with the appropriate standard of care , you have recourse to the law in terms of medical malpractice.

And Gosnell, really? Let me be at pains to point out that this guy was in total violation of all the ethics and protocols. It was illegal for him to be doing just about everything he did in that clinic, it was reported, investigated and discovered, and it's in the courts. This is the system working. In a country in which abortion was totally illegal, it's entirely likely he'd have been doing the exact same shit, only with less supervision. The entire point of making abortion legal and putting it in the hands of the medical profession is that it can be managed with protocols and certifications and inspections of the kind that caught him. In order to prevent the very existence of filthy, dangerous, and illegal abortion mills like this one, which will proliferate if we continue to legislate against middle- and late-term abortions. Desperate people do desperate things, and I don't want them to have to go to a lunatic totally out of compliance with the system.

I, of course, disagree.

If the pregnant woman swallows fatal poision, the fetus likely dies too. When you're a "different person" from someone else, you don't die because they swallow poison. I undertstand that this is a rhetorical point, because what you're really trying to say is that the fetus at this stage is likely quite viable, but the thing is that as things proceed naturally, their two systems remain intertwined until the cord is cut. You don't get a "different person" until you have two people whose bodies are separate and each has their own bodily integrity.

A baby that was aborted on a whim in our imaginary scenario would not exactly be likely to sue for malpractice.

In the imaginary scenario, maybe the father would. It would have to be someone who can prove harm.

I'm not okay with the government being "extra careful" by totally outlawing something that is often needed, and making the miserable circumstances of parents who have to terminate babies that are not going to live or will suffer if they do more and more difficult. That's not "extra care." IF you're worried about "extra care," then fund federal or state overseers to do more frequent inspections. Advocate for more licensing and oversight. Require review committees made up of other doctors. There are abundant ways to make the tremulous more confident about doctors' decisionmaking and practice short of blanket prohibition.

It's illegal because practically everyone in the country by an overwhelmingly massive majority wants it to be

And "practically everyone in the country" remains profoundly ignorant about exactly what it is, who needs it, and why. So the law they make about it is terrible law.
posted by Miko at 3:25 PM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I, of course, disagree.

If the pregnant woman swallows fatal poision, the fetus likely dies too. When you're a "different person" from someone else, you don't die because they swallow poison.


Oh? So conjoined twins who share blood circulation are not two individuals? I think it is more accurate to view a mother and a viable baby as two individuals who currently share an unnecessary physical connection. It is unreasonable to choose to kill one of the connected individuals when separation that will preserve both of their lives is reasonably possible as an alternative.

In the imaginary scenario, maybe the father would.

The mother would be well within her rights to keep the matter private from the father if she wished. I don't think turning the decision over to the father is much better than the government anyway.

I'm not okay with the government being "extra careful" by totally outlawing something that is often needed,

It should not be made illegal when medically necessary, we agree as does most of the country. This is a fight pro-choice folks can push back on and win. I think it does hurt that cause when people argue in favor of making unnecessary procedures legal too since that can backfire and scare away the people who agree on medical necessity. The true source of the problem though is the minority against medical necessity is loud and spreads serious FUD.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:39 PM on May 25, 2012


It was illegal for him to be doing just about everything he did in that clinic,

Yes, I am glad that it was illegal for him to have done the extremely rare and unthinkable thing he did. But here is a doctor murdering people and I'm glad he faces greater punishment than losing a license and lawsuit.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:44 PM on May 25, 2012


Miko, thanks for the links.

Following up on something you said:

And "practically everyone in the country" remains profoundly ignorant about exactly what it is, who needs it, and why. So the law they make about it is terrible law.

You seem to be saying that people would agree with your position if they were only better informed. Yes, most people may very well be ill-informed. But there seem to be some intelligent, highly informed posters in this very thread who hold a wide variety of opinions on the matter. What evidence is there that it's a matter of being "profoundly ignorant"?
posted by moderate at 3:45 PM on May 25, 2012


So conjoined twins who share blood circulation are not two individuals?

Ah, interesting case. Well, that's been tossed around in hypotheticals because it is pretty challenging as to what you'd do in the case of the law. If one commits murder, do they both go to jail? Does it matter which organs are shared in determining whether there's one individual or two? Not sure it's a good analogy.

here is a doctor murdering people and I'm glad he faces greater punishment than losing a license and lawsuit.

Of course! He committed murder. Of course he should face a murder charge. What he didn't wasn't legal. None of that has to do with his status as a doctor. He could have been a truck driver and done what he did, and he'd still face a murder charge.

It should not be made illegal when medically necessary, we agree as does most of the country.

The thing is that I'm not sure most of the country is content to let medical professionals make the determination as to when something is medically necessary. The litany of laws encroaching on making this legal really concern me that you we've created a situation where you now can have the medical necessity, but simply can't get the abortion.

there seem to be some intelligent, highly informed posters in this very thread who hold a wide variety of opinions on the matter.

Well, the comment was about the majority of people in the country. Most of them are definitely not working as hard as people here to understand the issue. But if you want to talk about people in this thread, I'm not sure they all really are intelligent and highly informed, moderate. Definitely not so much highly informed. From the arguments people advance, I don't honestly think they've read the individual stories or situations in which mid term and late term abortions are required, looked at the Guttmacher statistics, compared abortion rates between the US and someplace like Canada. I don't think they're up on the reporting and analysis on the issue or that they track it with enough closeness. In many cases there's a lack of information, in others flawed reasoning, but in still others the simple inability to depart from moral claims which we don't all share. The evidence for ignorance is the lack of reference to evidence in the arguments.
posted by Miko at 5:03 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyway, not going to solve it on MetaFilter. Emily's List, y'all! Peace out.
posted by Miko at 5:05 PM on May 25, 2012


Ah, interesting case. Well, that's been tossed around in hypotheticals because it is pretty challenging as to what you'd do in the case of the law. If one commits murder, do they both go to jail? Does it matter which organs are shared in determining whether there's one individual or two? Not sure it's a good analogy.

It's a perfectly appropriate analogy. Can one decide to have a doctor kill the other for no medical reason? Of course not, the challenge for the law is to balance out the interests of each individual as best they can, not to treat them as one person because poison would kill them both. The flaw is in your poison analogy, not my response.

Of course! He committed murder. Of course he should face a murder charge. What he didn't wasn't legal. None of that has to do with his status as a doctor. He could have been a truck driver and done what he did, and he'd still face a murder charge.

Of course, and the truck driver could face the same change as a doctor for performing our hypothetical abortion. Why should his status as a doctor change that?

Is it your position that if someone like Dr. Gosnell is faced with the choice of killing a baby before delivering it or a matter of minutes later after he delivers it...one of these choices is murder and one is a malpractice suit?

Or since you brought up cutting the cord, if the baby has exited the womb but is still connected by the cord, it is only murder if he cuts the cord before killing the baby?

The thing is that I'm not sure most of the country is content to let medical professionals make the determination as to when something is medically necessary. The litany of laws encroaching on making this legal really concern me that you we've created a situation where you now can have the medical necessity, but simply can't get the abortion.

I do agree this is a problem, I disagree that the solution is to legalize all late term abortion.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:23 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it your position that if someone like Dr. Gosnell is faced with the choice of killing a baby before delivering it or a matter of minutes later after he delivers it...one of these choices is murder and one is a malpractice suit?

I'm sorry, but this is one of the most ridiculous hypothetical and strawmen in this thread. Miko argued nothing of the sort--in fact, she specifically said that late term abortions should be left to the determination of a doctor under supervision following medical protocols. And there is no doctor under supervision, following medical protocols, no situation where a baby at 36 weeks who can survive outside the womb has to die for the sake of the mother. Hell, if you're making the "different person" argument the whole reason what Gosnell did was murder was because he was snipping spines outside the womb--the babies could have survived (with medical attention, obviously) if he had not done what he did.
posted by schroedinger at 8:55 AM on May 28, 2012


I'm not clear on this schroedinger, do you think that if he had done it just before delivery that should be legal or illegal? Should the doctor who does not follow the medical practices in this situation only face a lawsuit and a license revocation or should they face jail time?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:38 PM on May 28, 2012


Batten Down Your Vagina, Here Comes a Tidal Wave of Insidious New Anti-Choice Laws
posted by homunculus at 6:58 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge, you are going to have to explain what difference your off-the-wall hypothetical makes to the actual rules and regulations underlying abortion, because I refuse to argue unrealistic strawmen. Your expectation that I do so only illustrates your ignorance about the realities and differences of actual late-term abortions from the practices of Goswell. When talking about the ethics of animal experimentation do you bring up Jeffrey Dahmer skinning squirrels as a legitimate example of its pitfalls?
posted by schroedinger at 8:14 PM on May 28, 2012


furiousxgeorge, you are going to have to explain what difference your off-the-wall hypothetical makes to the actual rules and regulations underlying abortion, because I refuse to argue unrealistic strawmen.

So it is your assertion that it is realistic that someone like Gosnell would kill babies outside the womb but that it is a ridiculous unrealistic off-the-wall strawman that he might have chosen to do it immediately before delivery if you gave him that choice as a legal option?

When talking about the ethics of animal experimentation do you bring up Jeffrey Dahmer skinning squirrels as a legitimate example of its pitfalls?

If someone had introduced into the discussion a legal policy that would have the side effect of legalizing Dahmer's animal abuse, I would point out that flaw in the law, yes.

Before you reply again about strawmen and ignorance, you should probably re-read the thread. I have been pretty clear I am quite in favor of keeping legal late term abortions that are medically necessary. I am disucssing the flaws in making them all legal regardless. This is not a strawman, Miko does not believe the law should hold accountable a doctor who performs a late term abortion without cause. Miko has also stated that they are not seperate people until the cord is cut. I'm not making this up!

And if we all agree that's satisfactory and as it should be, and that we can expect doctors to interpret their oaths wisely and properly or be held accountable, then we are all set without needing to legislate it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:33 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems that it works fine in Canada. Or do you think that there has been a rash of 39.999 week abortions for no good reason there that has been covered up?
posted by hydropsyche at 6:28 AM on May 29, 2012


I don't think Gosnell represents a rash, I think he represents a worst case scenario that the law should definitely cover considering how heinous his crimes are. For all we know there is a Canadian Gosnell working right now though who has not been caught. If it happens, I doubt Canada isn't going to change the law. It will be a shame that they didn't see the flaw in it ahead of time.

Canadian pro-life activists definitely have the same concerns. They also feel that a lack of statistics on late term abortion make it difficult to judge.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:57 AM on May 29, 2012


I refuse to read information from "lifesitenews.com". The anti-abortion machine lies constantly, misuses and abuses science when they aren't lying about it, posts pictures and home addresses of doctors, etc. I just don't care what they have to say and will not give them my clicks.

Besides, what Gosnell did is against the law in the US (and in Canada) because he murdered women, and he is being prosecuted for it. He has absolutely nothing to do with real doctors practicing real medicine, except insofar as anti-abortion assholes harassed or murdered so many practitioners and passed so many laws regulating the practice of medicine that they created a market in which desperate women sought back alley abortions because they had no other option. If you want to prevent horrors like Gosnell, then make it easier for women to obtain safe, legal abortions. If you dislike late term abortions, then make it easier for women to obtain them earlier. I don't see how making things even harder for women who have legitimate needs for post-20 week abortions would change anything.
posted by hydropsyche at 12:39 PM on May 29, 2012


I refuse to read information from "lifesitenews.com".

I presented the information only as the point of view of pro-life folks, if you are unwilling to engage with their arguments when you debate abortion that is fine. However, if the question is about making law in the United States you are going to end up having to entertain their views on the matter and take them into account. Of course, before you made your law legalizing all late term abortion you would have to convince that 80% of pro-choice people who disagree with you too.

Besides, what Gosnell did is against the law in the US (and in Canada) because he murdered women, and he is being prosecuted for it.

He is only charged with the death of one woman, the rest of the charges are for the babies he murdered. We are discussing this because under a situation in which it would have been possible for Gosnell to perform his murders legally it seems entirely plausible to me that he may have chosen to do so.

If you want to prevent horrors like Gosnell, then make it easier for women to obtain safe, legal abortions. If you dislike late term abortions, then make it easier for women to obtain them earlier. I don't see how making things even harder for women who have legitimate needs for post-20 week abortions would change anything.

I agree, in fact I pointed out how Gosnell illustrates the danger of back alley procedures when I first brought him up. I simply disagree that legalizing all late term abortion is necessary to meet these goals, a moral thing to do when their are monsters like Gosnell out there, or a politically feasible course of action in the US.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:15 PM on May 29, 2012


I have no illusions that the US is going to have sane abortion law anytime soon, or that anyone actually cares what I think on the subject. At the rate we're going, women in most states are lucky if an abortion is ever attainable under perfect conditions, let alone if things go wrong.

My efforts are currently focused entirely on maintaining some right for myself to any bodily integrity at all as someone who is happily married for whom pregnancy would be both unwanted and medically unadviseable. I understand you don't ever wake up in a cold sweat terrified that you might be pregnant. But can you imagine what that is like? Especially while living in GA where this is going on.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:39 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've largely avoided this thread, but after having it pop back up on my activity feed, it seems worthwhile to mention that it's kinda astounding to me how reliant the anti-abortion arguments in here are on both insane edge cases and a startling lack of empathy for women. That there are occasional lunatics who may exploit guidelines that work for the vast, vast majority of cases doesn't mean that those guidelines are flawed — it means that you're making an appeal to emotion based on misleading vividness.

Further, it means inserting yourself and your moral worldview into a discussion that should be happening solely through the woman and her medical provider. That's it. It's fine to disagree with the decision she's making, but the fundamental point is that she has the freedom to make it and the privacy to not have to justify it to you.

Everything else is special pleadings and misleading post hoc justifications for your moral judgments being imposed on strangers. It's offensive and insulting, and this comment is about the nicest possible way that I can put that.
posted by klangklangston at 2:59 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would imagine that among the 79% of pro-choice individuals in the US who think late term abortions should be prohibited and the 94% of pro-life individuals who agree there is a significant number of people who share your concerns with becoming pregnant who do not agree with your position.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:04 PM on May 29, 2012


exploit guidelines

Hundreds of babies were killed, there were up to nine people criminally involved at the clinic, not one single nut. There were 46 lawsuits that went nowhere. Everyone who was supposed to stop it looked the other way. It went on for years with neither the state or the medical community ending it.

My empathy encompasses both the plight of women and the plight of murdered children, and I don't think sensible legal regulations on late term procedures must put those two concerns in conflict.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:36 PM on May 29, 2012


I'm sorry that your position is so weak that you have to buttress it with an appeal to authority, but I don't find that convincing in the least.

Further, arguing that the answer to Gosnell is more laws, especially criminalizing late-term abortions, is absurd. It simply does not follow, especially given that his practice already broke the law often.

I know that you've got this great bone in your mouth over the emotional horror of the story, but no matter how you worry it, you're not going to turn it into meat that I'll eat.
posted by klangklangston at 3:43 PM on May 29, 2012


Appeal to popularity. Sorry, I mis-typed.
posted by klangklangston at 3:43 PM on May 29, 2012


Hey Klang, that was in reply to this: I understand you don't ever wake up in a cold sweat terrified that you might be pregnant. But can you imagine what that is like?

Didn't see your post first or I would have made it more clear.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:02 PM on May 29, 2012


Further, arguing that the answer to Gosnell is more laws, especially criminalizing late-term abortions, is absurd. It simply does not follow, especially given that his practice already broke the law often.

No, my argument is to maintain the current prohibitions of late term abortions without medical necessity. Where possible without ending that prohibition the laws should be loosened so that they do not discourage medically necessary late term abortions or prevent access to birth control, or access to abortion earlier in the pregnancy.

Klang, do you believe that it should be considered murder to kill a baby outside the womb if the cord has not yet been cut?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:12 PM on May 29, 2012


Why does it matter to you so much that I, a liberal woman in Georgia with zero political influence, am willing to let women and doctors make that call themselves rather than you? Do you want to call me a bad person for not loving the babies enough? Fine, I am a bad person who deosn't love babies enough because I think edge cases make very bad law.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:34 PM on May 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I feel we are all concerned with children and mothers and are in this thread discussing what we consider the best ways to promote the welfare of both groups.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:42 PM on May 29, 2012


Seriously, furiousgeorge, I don't know why you keep asking those types of questions. No one is interested in having that discussion. Yet you can't explain why you think your morality has any business in the medical decisions of women and their doctors. Thanks for your "concern," but no woman would ever consult you on what they're allowed to do regarding their own body.
posted by agregoli at 4:43 PM on May 29, 2012


I would advise anyone not interested in discussing these issues with me not to discuss these issues with me.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:44 PM on May 29, 2012


Fair enough. It's obviously not worth trying to engage.
posted by agregoli at 4:51 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Please, starting now, do not make this thread into a "one person takes on all comers" style of discussion. Do not make this thread all about you. Please feel free to go to MetaTalk if you feel that you are not being served by this approach. Otherwise we expect people to be able to dial things back and turn this thread back into a group discussion. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:32 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure murder charges apply if you kill a baby outside the womb even before the cord is cut. In some (many?) states, murder or manslaughter charges also apply if you injure a pregnant woman and she loses the baby because of it, and if you kill a pregnant woman, hey - two counts of murder! Not sure what more laws would do to make it clear that this is illegal, the legality of late-term abortions notwithstanding.
posted by rtha at 6:09 AM on May 30, 2012


I don't want more laws, I disagree with folks who suggest removing such laws might be a good idea.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:33 AM on May 30, 2012


I don't think anyone is advocating removing laws that make it illegal to kill someone outside the womb. This is not a problem we face. The problem we (women who are or may become pregnant, as well as the doctors who treat them) face is with legislatures that don't actually know anything about obstetrics making laws that make getting life-saving medical treatment much more difficult and perilous. But we have been having this argument through this whole thread, and I still don't know what it is you want from this. From my perspective, we already have: laws against killing people; increasingly restrictive laws that prevent what would obviously be millions of pregnant women from going "Well, I couldn't get a hair appointment - I guess I'll go get an abortion since I'm 8.5 months pregnant, just for the hell of it!" if we didn't have them. Yay us.
posted by rtha at 11:12 AM on May 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think anyone is advocating removing laws that make it illegal to kill someone outside the womb.

Seems pretty clear to me that Miko did. As per mod request not to make this "one person takes on all comers" I think we should take this to memail if you are still interested in discussing the matter in depth.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:08 PM on May 30, 2012


The Right’s ‘Gendercide’ Crusade to Limit Women’s Autonomy: Sex-selective abortion is a problem worldwide, but not in our country. So why are House lawmakers seeking to ban it? Michelle Goldberg on the anti-abortion movement’s ‘gendercide’ push and its scary implications for choice.
posted by homunculus at 5:33 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doctors caught in the abortion wars: The antiabortion movement is increasingly targeting doctors -- and a few partisan physicians are lending it a hand
posted by homunculus at 12:21 PM on June 7, 2012


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