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The Wire
August 25, 2012 9:38 PM   Subscribe

It wasn't a coat hanger. It was a wire. The theory was that by inserting the wire through the cervix, moving it around a bit and then removing it, an infection would result and the pregnancy would be aborted. It worked. It was March 1967.
posted by Pope Guilty (452 comments total) 105 users marked this as a favorite

 

It wasn't right for women to risk so much in order to be in control of their own reproductive lives. It wasn't right to punish women who have been cornered by circumstances - unplanned pregnancy, no job, no money, no options - by daring them to find the $250 illegal abortionist in their city or worse. It wasn't right that women should have to pay for a mistake with their fear, risk their future health and their very lives while men could walk away and be free. I was happy, so happy about Roe v. Wade. At last, I thought, this one thing for women - at last.

And here we are again. Demonizing women. Limiting birth control. Shrinking access to legal and safe abortion. Daring women to go find the wire. All while men can walk away and be free.


That's pretty much it and it's frightening and appalling that this is even happening in our lifetimes.
posted by bleep at 9:51 PM on August 25, 2012 [94 favorites]


Powerful stuff We can't let a minority move us back into the stone age, too many women have suffered too much to let this happen again.
posted by arcticseal at 9:51 PM on August 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Thank you Jan Wilberg.
posted by cashman at 10:04 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Never thought we'd be at a point again where thinking about reviving the Jane Collective would be a not-crazy thing to think.
posted by rtha at 10:06 PM on August 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


What the fuck has happened to us?
posted by maxwelton at 10:12 PM on August 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


And this is why everyone under the age of 25 needs to pull their head out of their ass and vote.

The gains we made over the past decades were not achieved easily and are lost without effort. Hateful people will always desire to control others.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:21 PM on August 25, 2012 [47 favorites]


Thanks for this post. Beautifully written and brings back many memories for me of those days,pre Roe v Wade. I accompanied friends to similar places, and then I was the one who was accompanied. I have found it more and more important to speak out publicly about my illegal abortion, but I fear it falls on closed minds. There are so many of us, a band of sisters who had to make that choice.
posted by Isadorady at 10:32 PM on August 25, 2012 [21 favorites]


I fear that many people on the coasts don't understand how scary it is to be a woman in the flyover states. I worry that to many people approach this as an intellectual exercise. If i were to become pregnant tomorrow i'd probably cross state lines to feel safe gettng an abortion. Thank you for posting this.
posted by nadawi at 10:34 PM on August 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


Terrifying. This is 2012 and America is moving backwards with a vengeance.
posted by bardic at 10:37 PM on August 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


One third of American women get an abortion in their lifetimes. We need to stop pretending this is a niche issue. Think of three women you know - without access to abortion services, it is likely one of them would have been forced to either commit a crime or carry to term an unwanted child.

Every child a wanted child seems the only sane policy, particularly when the alternative is forced birth for the poor, and overpaying sketchy doctors for the rich.
posted by pmb at 10:57 PM on August 25, 2012 [26 favorites]


Jesus.

Thanks for this. I don't quite know what else to say.
posted by samofidelis at 11:02 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Though this is really vital and I am gald this testimony is public--it must be remembered that if you were wealthy enough, abortion could be done in hospitals, or in foreign clinics. This is not only a fight against women, it is a fight against poor women In this sense--all of it, the dismantling of the welfare state, the hatred of "socialised" medicine, the lack of employment supports, of proper child care--all of it, becomes a monstrous single organism to destroy poor women.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:29 PM on August 25, 2012 [69 favorites]


It's the last gasps of the conservative culture war machine. Go big or go home.

The future of abortion isn't just in the presidency though. The republicans went hard in 2010 because it was a redistricting year. And they've gamed the hell out of it in the states where they had control and no pesky VRA to keep them in check. I firmly believe that right now that Priebus has the "38" in his head right next to "270". Get that anti-abortion constitutional amendment in via the back door if you can't get it in through the front.
posted by Talez at 12:59 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The saddest part about this is that I couldn't help but imagine in my head my tea-partier fundamentalist cousin saying "she chose to have unprotected sex, she has to face the consequences. Just like liberals to blame the government and not take responsibility".
posted by MattMangels at 1:02 AM on August 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


The saddest part about this is that I couldn't help but imagine in my head my tea-partier fundamentalist cousin saying "she chose to have unprotected sex, she has to face the consequences. Just like liberals to blame the government and not take responsibility".

This is a common argument, and it's probably the single canonical example of how preventing access to abortions isn't about protecting babies. Rather, it's about punishing sluts.

Anytime you see 'natural consequences' in an argument, that means the drive is to punish the woman for doing something she shouldn't have done. They're restricting access to abortion because they want women to stop having extramarital sex. They couldn't give a flying fuck about the child, as has been demonstrated a zillion times in a zillion different ways.

For further confirmation, you can query your cousin about her feelings on contraception; she's likely to think that it's evil and wrong. If the goal is actually to reduce the total number of abortions to the minimum possible, then contraception should be cheap and freely available, but this is never okay with the wingnuts, because stopping abortions isn't the goal. Stopping sex is the goal.

Since contraception encourages sex, while decreasing abortions, that's not acceptable.
posted by Malor at 1:17 AM on August 26, 2012 [103 favorites]


And this is why everyone under the age of 25 needs to pull their head out of their ass and vote.

Also, everyone else!

I'll be frank, I don't know if I can read this article. I don't have the stomach for it. But the quote is enough to spur me, and I hope it does so for others as well.
posted by spiderskull at 1:18 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


this is definitely a war against poor and uneducated women. I can't believe I'm writing that phrase on Metafilter but the evidence is simply stacking up.
Right now I imagine there are wealthy men gleefully eyeing up land across several interstate and international borders for clinics while writing cheques to the Pro-life movement.
posted by Wilder at 1:31 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


My cousin is a he actually, but there certainly isn't a shortage of female conservatives who think that way. He tried to get into some argument with me about Sandra Fluke wanting the government to pay for her birth control back when that was in the news but I wasn't going there. He really fully 100% believes in "personal responsibility". Just yesterday he told me that (almost quoting here) most people CAN get healthcare, they just choose to spend their money on TVs, cars, iphones etc.

It's so darn simple! Come to think of it, the entire Conservative worldview can be summed up in this song.
posted by MattMangels at 1:34 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, Malor, I did recently have a male acquaintance of mine, whom I must point out is absolutely a genuinely talented musician and NOT dumb, say to me with a straight face (ok, it was on Facebook but I swear he wasn't trolling) that if we had birth control available to any citizen or permanent resident over 18 who wanted it courtesy of the government (and I made sure to say that this would lead to less abortions, mind you), I kid you not he responded by saying that we can't do that because people would do nothing but stay home and have sex all day.

I mean what do you even say to that?
posted by MattMangels at 1:51 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


You say, "Look at the Netherlands." Where abortion (and euthanasia, btw) is legal, there is national healthcare, a living wage, a minimum of four-week annual vacation and work force productivity is among the highest in Europe. Oh, and the trains run on time.
posted by likeso at 2:23 AM on August 26, 2012 [38 favorites]


Said national healthcare includes birth control.
posted by likeso at 2:25 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


a commentor on that post: "Left, right, it doesn't matter. Stay out of my uterus."

I agree with this wholeheartedly.

Also count me surprised and disgusted. I am young and had no idea this kind of thing happened. Ugh, it makes me angry at people who advocate illegal abortion.
posted by royalsong at 2:29 AM on August 26, 2012


I mean what do you even say to that?

Generic birth control has been fully reimbursed in France for about four years now — you don't pay out-of-pocket, the pharmacist just gives it to you on presentation of your prescription and your national health care card ("carte vitale"). It was price controlled before that, to about 20-30 euros for a 3-month packet.

French workers are about as productive as American, and more so than German. High Productivity, Skilled Workers: "On total productivity, or GDP per worker for 2008, France beats Norway and trounces Germany, according to the ILO. And productivity is continuing to rise in France, up in 2008 year-on-year, compared with no change in Germany and a drop in Sweden, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development." We have a 35-hour work week, legal limits on the total hours worked per week, legal minimum wage based on those hours, and legal national minimum of 5 weeks of paid vacation, with more given in many companies. And yet we manage to be as productive as the US and more so than Germany, AND with free birth control AND with France's reputation of romantic inclinations.

On preview, yeah it's similar in many other European countries!

Of course, I know from experience when you use actual facts like that with the sorts of conservatives who talk about "personal responsibility" and baby-murdering sluts (I grew up in a fundamentalist evangelical church where that was the phrasing used), their heads explode and you start to be one of the "fallen souls" they use as an example.
posted by fraula at 2:38 AM on August 26, 2012 [20 favorites]


"Those generous welfare nanny states over there are supported by MASSIVE TAXES and all of Europe is going bankrupt because of that" would probably be the response, likeso.

Sorry to be flooding the thread here but I just happened to be reading about various 20th century Popes on Wikipedia*, and I came across a quote from John Paul II in which he expressed a wish to "place his Church at the heart of a new religious alliance that would bring together Jews, Muslims and Christians in a great [religious] armada". It's a telling quote that makes perfect sense if you interpret that armada's purpose to be a retaliation against women's rights, GLBT rights, and really the Enlightenment in general. I'll grant that I have a pretty cynical view of these kinds of things and I might be wrong. I'll just say that I am in no way surprised that a Catholic bishop is going to speak at the GOP convention this year. So what if it's 40 years after Roe v. Wade? Abortion (and birth control too, to an extent) just has too much emotional power to not be exploited for political purposes by the unscrupulous, who are enabled by the widespread perception that it's something that always happens to other people. As a blogger I know put it, the pro-life people have all sorts of little lies they always tell themselves so they don't have to deal with the fact that the policies they support hurt real people.

*I also learned that John Paul II was elected a Cardinal just two months after the FPP's author had her abortion, coincidentally.
posted by MattMangels at 2:52 AM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is obviously horrible, and as a woman it frightens me. I don't think that most pro-lifers are actually trying to punish women by making them have a baby-- I think they've ignorantly subscribed to the idea that women don't fundamentally want sex, and thus they can only have ulterior (and cynical) motives in having sex. Male sexual desire is a given, but women have selfish social motives for having sex. Some people do want to punish women-- I know at least one woman who has it out for the "murdering sluts" (sounds like a designer drink) and many others who strongly disprove of premarital sex. And people have no problem talking openly about punishing women (poor women) in a thousand other horrible ways. But what really stands out to me is the ridiculous and pervasive notion that sex is a highly optional part of life, not a major component of the human condition; that girls and women don't have sexual urges, and that it's about taming men; that it's a simple issue, that sexual desire is easily repressed or rerouted. It's not, and there should be no reason that sex itself makes people cringe. The disconnect is so great that I've heard someone say that a married women (who we both knew) should've kept her legs shut if she didn't want a baby. Really, a married woman? She's following the script to the strictest degree, and yet the woman's desire for sex in any context is so verboten that she still gets bullshit. Obviously this person was muddying the stream a bit, but there's such a vivid picture of the sexually active woman as inherently socially irresponsible that she is judged first by her transgressions, not her compliance.

Everybody knows this about "Puritanical America" but it still shocks me when I think about it for too long. I will curse a blue streak about the equation of sex with women's bodies, for instance, but condemning the actual sexual act (and calling sexual urges impure) is bizarre. Even when I was a religious fundamentalist I couldn't wrap my head around the idea that sex was dirty. It was a part of who I am.

(Obviously there are people who identify as asexual or who are abstinent for other reasons, but sex still remains a major issue.)
posted by stoneandstar at 3:03 AM on August 26, 2012 [17 favorites]


It's the last gasps of the conservative culture war machine.

Last gasps? I wish I had your confidence, but I live in flyover land. I see it more as that culture war machine finally reaping its rewards, with much, much more to come. It's still going strong with no let-up in-sight.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:24 AM on August 26, 2012 [15 favorites]


stoneandstar: I don't think that most pro-lifers are actually trying to punish women by making them have a baby-- I think they've ignorantly subscribed to the idea that women don't fundamentally want sex, and thus they can only have ulterior (and cynical) motives in having sex.

Hmm. You say that they're not trying to punish women by making them have babies, but the rest of your examples strike me as perfect illustrations of wanting to make women miserable for having (or even wanting) sex. I mean, you say it yourself:

the sexually active woman as inherently socially irresponsible

I read that as high-falutin', educacamated language for 'punishing sluts'.

If she didn't want a baby, she should have kept her legs closed... ie, she's a slut, and she deserves to suffer with the child. That's the natural consequence of having sex, and she has no right to evade what God wants, because she is a sinful, evil person.

It's almost never really about the child, or else contraception would be provided for free on every streetcorner, and babies that actually were born would get, at least, excellent healthcare and food to eat. It's no accident that conservatives are only interested in the child while it's inside the woman.

The entire movement is to stop women from having sex, and I believe your own examples fit those motives precisely.

I really think that, fundamentally, conservatives believe that Life As Seen On Television in the 1950s was real, that Leave It To Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show were how it really was. And they want to go back to those innocent, happy days, with Ward and June and The Beav, with nobody ever cheating, and the Cleavers sleeping in separate beds. No human society has ever looked like that, and no human society ever will. This article, The Wire, is what that kind of a society really looks like, underneath the surface lies.

That's what happens if we go down that path. We've been there. It is horrible. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what the conservative motives are, because whether they're saints or sinners, with the best OR the worst of intentions, they'll make life frightening and dangerous for women when it doesn't need to be.
posted by Malor at 3:43 AM on August 26, 2012 [19 favorites]


Doctor Recalls Abortion Complications Before Roe v. Wade

The Coat Hanger Project Blog: Why I Am An Abortion Doctor by Dr. Gary Romalis

The debate is over: Time to honour Henry Morgentaler
posted by Evilspork at 3:45 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


The only moral abortion is my abortion
posted by ook at 4:14 AM on August 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


I really think that, fundamentally, conservatives believe that Life As Seen On Television in the 1950s was real, that Leave It To Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show were how it really was. And they want to go back to those innocent, happy days, with Ward and June and The Beav, with nobody ever cheating, and the Cleavers sleeping in separate beds.

This describes my in-laws so perfectly. Except that they blame the loss of those innocent times on World War II, as women didn't want to give up working when the men came home from fighting.

No, that is not a joke. And it perfectly ties into the pervasive notion that women are getting too uppity, with wanting ownership of their body and sexuality and all that.

posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 4:15 AM on August 26, 2012


There are lefties who say it's a good thing when conservatives win elections, because the conservatives are turning America to crap and we have to let them really turn it to crap before Americans will finally wise up and figure out that the conservatives are awful. It may be true, but my big problem with that idea is that I'd probably have to spend my remaining years alive watching America turn to crap. Fortunately I have no plans to have kids, because then I'd have to die knowing that America will probably be crap for most of their lives, too. (Of course, if the conservatives do get their way, it's possible I might end up having kids, like it or not.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:37 AM on August 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


If the conservatives win very many more elections, the liberals will never win again.
posted by Malor at 4:58 AM on August 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


I truly get angry when people say, "Just let the conservatives win and everyone will see how bad it will get and we will live in a liberal paradise!" because, before we realize how bad things will get, they have to get bad. And my body and autonomy is not a playground upon which you can make your political gambles.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:19 AM on August 26, 2012 [48 favorites]


We had 8 years of Bush for people to see Neo-Conservative policies in action. It didn't teach them anything. I don't think I want to try that again, ever.
posted by explosion at 5:27 AM on August 26, 2012 [20 favorites]


There's no difference between the parties.
posted by Mick at 5:32 AM on August 26, 2012


I don't understand the hate from the Tea Party and their ilk for women who are faced with this choice, especially poor women. I don't understand how fundamentalist groups who pretend to be Christians can justify whatsoever their attacks on women's rights.

Did they miss the parts of the Bible where Jesus advocated, indeed demonstrated, acting from a place of compassion? Did they miss where Jesus welcomed women to follow him, rather than treating them as disenfranchised?

Did they really, truly miss the "love one another" teaching?

These haters, mostly wealthy white men, who claim God on their side while attempting to take from women a safe, legal medical procedure......I want to know how they can call themselves followers of Jesus, because their behavior is about the farthest thing from showing the compassion, love, and equality demonstrated by the very leader of their own religion.

The ignorance.....it astounds.
posted by quietalittlewild at 6:07 AM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's no difference between the parties.

On the matter of choice, the Democrats are leagues ahead.
posted by arcticseal at 6:12 AM on August 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


But what about those of us that believe that abortion is murder?
Besides one crucial difference between then and now is that back then it was paramount to hide the fact one was pregnant. Now the social stigma of unmarried pregnancy is practically nonexistent.Then your life was pretty much ruined if people found out.



For most of us this is not about hatred or punishment.It's about right to life.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:16 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


But what about those of us that believe that abortion is murder?

Then don't get one. That seems pretty simple to me, honestly.

Never thought we'd be at a point again where thinking about reviving the Jane Collective would be a not-crazy thing to think.

I think that there are already parts of the country that need that kind of service. Unfortunately, those are places far from the resources of a city like Chicago, and even there underground organizing could only scratch the surface of the unmet need.
posted by Forktine at 6:24 AM on August 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


If that's the case, why does the care for the child seem to cease once it's out the birth canal? That's what gets me, you can insist that the child be born, but why then take a complete hands off approach that ruins two lives, not one?
posted by arcticseal at 6:26 AM on August 26, 2012 [26 favorites]


I definitely feel that abortions should be legal. I can accept limitations on abortions based on the age of the fetus but that is about it.

To paint this debate as some sort of attack on women is bullshit. It is not an attack on women. It is not a show of hate towards women. It is nothing more than a feeling that John Taxpayer shouldn't pay for everyone's abortions and contraceptives.

I am curious, with the huge number of people who are for "free" abortions/contraceptives why can not private donors handle the cases where people in need get the medication/procedures for free or at some sort of "affordable" rate depending on their circumstances.

on a different note, I do love the complaint by some, that question why a politician can claim they have no right over a woman's body and therefore abortions should be legal, but then turn around and claim they do have a right over the person's body when it comes to how many trans-fats, sugar, and the like the person puts into their bodies.
posted by 2manyusernames at 6:34 AM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Look, in many states conservatives and "right to life" folks have already restricted abortion services to incredible degrees. Here is a partial list of restrictions on abortions in Ohio:

- absolutely no abortion after 24 weeks; after 20 weeks the ability to get an abortion is contingent on a "viability test" of the fetus
- 24-hour waiting period between consulting with doctor and actually receiving an abortion, during which time women are given all sorts of information about fetal development
- no abortions for individuals under 18 without procuring a court order allowing either a step-parent, grandparent, or sibling over 21 to act as guardian, or legal proof of emancipation from parents. You can only get this court order from your home county or the county next to you to prevent you from, say, leaving a conservative rural part of the state and heading to a more liberal county like Franklin County, which includes Columbus.
- State employees' insurance (comes from tax payer money) cannot cover an abortion except in the case of rape, incest, or "to preserve the woman's life."
- Abortions cannot be performed in state-funded hospitals except for rape, incest, and life-preservation
- Only physicians can perform abortions or write prescriptions for pills which induce abortion - nurses cannot.
- If there is an ultrasound at any point of the counseling or abortion process, the person performing the abortion must "provide the woman an opportunity to view the active fetus."

OK, so it's still legal for me to get an abortion in the state, but if I'm, say, a teenager in rural Ohio with a conservative family, it becomes VERY difficult - practically impossible - for me to get an abortion. And I suspect those are individuals for whom the "social stigma" of an unmarried pregnancy would be exceptionally damaging.

(from Ohio Abortion Law, Ohio Right to Life, and State Facts About Abortion)
posted by ChuraChura at 6:44 AM on August 26, 2012 [21 favorites]


For most of us this is not about hatred or punishment.It's about right to life.

Then, and I really would like to know, would you also be for fixing/funding the welfare system so that poor women can afford to have more children? Or funding social services in order to more adequately care for children that women give up, realizing they can't care for? Would you be willing to pay more taxes for this? Because I can't wrap my head around a political culture that supports "right to life" but then actively seeks to slash and burn social programs, at almost every turn, that would make it so these children are far less likely to grow up abused, hungry, in poverty, etc.

I'm not asking you to be the spokesperson of all the GOP's (to me) "bad stuff" - but I would like to know an individual's perspective on this. Do you disapprove of the way the GOP handles the "right to life" debate?
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:49 AM on August 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


I completely support those people who believe abortion is murder and therefore choose to carry a pregnancy to term regardless of the social, mental, physical & emotional costs involved. I hope their families and friends are helpful, supportive and non-judgemental if they happen to be 16 years old in a fundamentalist christian household.

But when this group attempts to curtail my actions, slut shame me, kill my doctor, terrify the living wits out of other young girls in the same circumstance, use their considerable social and economic capital to ensure an ultrasound wand is used against my will, they are no better than the Taliban forcing women to cover up, or forcing women out of education.

Beliefs are beliefs. Theirs are not more important than mine.

One of the truly unusual things of this last week is the extent to which more American women seem to be drawing the parallel with any religious fundamentalist movement. On the battleground that is women's bodies, the Christian fundamentalist join hands with their Al Qaeda brothers.
posted by Wilder at 6:51 AM on August 26, 2012 [63 favorites]


Article about the AUL. I would link to the original Mother Jones article, but it's taking a long time to load.

My understanding of Roe v. Wade is that it's right to privacy. As in, what goes on between me and my doctor is none of your business. Believe what you want, but you can't follow me into the little room and listen in on my private health matters and chime in with directives telling me and my doctor what you think is best in terms of my health care. That includes birth control, pregnancy, and abortion. None of your business.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:54 AM on August 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


To paint this debate as some sort of attack on women is bullshit. It is not an attack on women. It is not a show of hate towards women. It is nothing more than a feeling that John Taxpayer shouldn't pay for everyone's abortions and contraceptives.

Then why is there absolutely no other "hands off my tax money" issue that has anywhere near the traction of abortion? Millions of people didn't want their tax money to go to the war in Iraq. It's bitter for me to part with Social Security tax, knowing that the program will probably not be around when I need it. Millions of childless people still pay taxes that go to their local school district. People may individually gripe about that, but there's no collective movement that says "if I disagree with this, I shouldn't have to fund it".

It is a special case. There is something about abortion that either politicians or people believe warrants no-government-funding that literally no other issue carries. What that "something" is depends on who you ask.
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:58 AM on August 26, 2012 [24 favorites]


So is it none of my business if, say,a neighbor was abusing their child in their own home?
Oh, and yes do believe children should be cared for after birth as well and that the father of a child in general should step up and be a dad.If that is not possible the community has a responsibility to the child.I don't think we can just depend on government for that totally.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:04 AM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks to Jan for speaking up.
posted by Fichereader at 7:07 AM on August 26, 2012


"Those generous welfare nanny states over there are supported by MASSIVE TAXES and all of Europe is going bankrupt because of that" would probably be the response, likeso.

That might be the response, but it simply isn't true. Europe's problem isn't massive taxes driving the countries to bankruptcy. It's that the EU was lied to by Greece (aided by Goldman Sachs) about its debt burden, a burden caused by massive tax evasion and lax government collection. It's also that in some of the countries, the taxes weren't massive enough to cover the programs put in place. Couple these problems of some member countries being overextended and not taking in enough revenue with the derivative market collapse (which had its epicenter in the US but which banks across the globe were participating in), and suddenly the house of cards of funding, primarily over-leveraged banks, teeters and starts to collapse.

If Europe had not been lied to by Greece and if their banks hadn't been so willing to play risky shadow games with slice-and-dice mortgage shares, they would be in much better shape.

The US is in similar shape -- our taxes simply are not massive enough to cover all the promises the government has made across the years. We aren't broke as a country. We're just skinflinting our way to federal bankruptcy because people aren't willing to pay what they should be paying.
posted by hippybear at 7:11 AM on August 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


Oh, and yes do believe children should be cared for after birth as well and that the father of a child in general should step up and be a dad.If that is not possible the community has a responsibility to the child.I don't think we can just depend on government for that totally.

So you think that the government shouldn't be depended on for making sure the woman who was forced to bear a child can support the two of them, the father "should step up", and otherwise the community "has a responsibility", but not legally. Which is essentially saying that it would be nice if people really took care of each other, and maybe if abortion were illegal people would.

If this isn't what you're saying, can you please be clearer about who you believe should have what sorts of legal responsibility for ensuring that the mother and baby have food and health care (pre-natal too!) and a place to live?
posted by jeather at 7:12 AM on August 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


To paint this debate as some sort of attack on women is bullshit. It is not an attack on women. It is not a show of hate towards women. It is nothing more than a feeling that John Taxpayer shouldn't pay for everyone's abortions and contraceptives.

What are you talking about? All of the many, many attempts to control women and prevent them from getting abortions have nothing to do with funding. They are delaying tactics, shaming tactics that make abortions even more expensive then then need to be. Having a trans-vaginal ultrasound is no picnic-- I can tell you from experience. The idea that you need to undergo such an expensive, invasive, painful procedure for no good reason, only because some legislator wants to make your abortion more difficult, is absolutely maddening to me.

The truth is that the GOP platform is No Abortions, No Exceptions. Not "We don't want to pay for your abortion" but "You can't have an abortion ever, not even if you can pay for it, not even in the case of rape, incest, or medical need."

And in the case of the state paying for birth control-- sure in some more enlightened areas of Europe the state pays for it because they realize it is better for society in the long run to make sure no woman has an unwanted pregnancy. But we here in America prefer to stick our heads in the sand and pretend if we ignore the truth that women will magically stop having sex. The results of the Republican War on women have been disastrous: Abstinence Only sex ed has resulted in kids being confused and thinking birth control doesn't work and therefore they engage in unprotected sex with predictable results.
Allowing pharmacists to deny women their birth control under religious grounds has led to predictable outcomes. And so on. I don't have time to type more.

People enjoy sex. People engage in sex. To pretend otherwise is insanely stupid and problematic to say the least.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:14 AM on August 26, 2012 [64 favorites]


For most of us this is not about hatred or punishment.It's about right to life.

Once again, I link (and copy) marsha56's comment, perfectly pinning down this fabrication about the so-called "pro-life" ideology. Not only do these actually help people live better lives, but they will also reduce abortions. Yet those on the so-called "pro-life" side nearly always oppose all of the below. Because it's not about "life" at all.

"Yuh know, I could find it in my heart to sympathize with pro-lifers if they were truly pro-life. But people who proclaim loudly their sanctity for all life, then prove how little they care about fetuses once they are born and become real people just drives me 'round the bend.

If you are pro-life, then care about the housing, nutrition, healthcare, education that that child will receive for the rest of their life.

If you are really pro-life, then you must support helpful, honest, realistic sex education and access to contraception for everyone, regardless of age so we can prevent unplanned pregnancies that drive women to seek out abortions in the first place.

If you are really pro-life, then you must support full access to excellent prenatal care for all women, including access to housing and nutrition, not just healthcare.

If you are really pro-life, then you must support programs that offer a high quality of life to those with any and all disabilities, including genetic disabilities, so that women can be assured that their child can have the best possible outcome.

If you are really pro-life, then you must support paid maternal/paternal leave, ideally for the first year of life.

If you are really pro-life, then you must support access to affordable quality daycare.

If you are really pro-life, then you must support universal healthcare.

If you are really pro-life, then you must support a basic minimal access to housing and quality nutrition for all.

If you are really pro-life, then you must support quality k-12 education for all, no matter what the income level of the area that any child resides in.

If you are really pro-life, then you must support access to affordable post-secondary education for all.

Lack of any of these life necessities may cause a woman to contemplate not going forward with a pregnancy, so you really must make sure that these are available to all, right?

If you call yourself pro-life and don't support all this, I may choose to respect you as a person, but I will have nothing but utter contempt for your political beliefs."

posted by raztaj at 7:14 AM on August 26, 2012 [79 favorites]


If that is not possible the community has a responsibility to the child.I don't think we can just depend on government for that totally.

Last I checked, government was the official body which works on behalf of a community. Of the people, by the people, and for the people.
posted by hippybear at 7:15 AM on August 26, 2012 [37 favorites]


Speaking for myself, I enjoy these conversations a lot more when they are not all about one person's views, controversial though they might be.
posted by Forktine at 7:16 AM on August 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


I disagree Forktine, en-masse it's hard to call people out on contradictory beliefs, they hide behind polls that show that they're pro-life, or fiscal conservatives, which makes hard to pin it down and call someone out on the contradictions, because each time, someone different answers the charges.

Behind all of these polls there are people, we need to engage them as people and find out what they believe, and then ask them to try to explain how they can believe all these things simultaneously.
posted by Sportbilly at 7:26 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Everyone can choose to make this not about one person if they work hard enough on it. Be the change you want to see on MetaFilter. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:45 AM on August 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


And this is why everyone under the age of 25 needs to pull their head out of their ass and vote.

My voting record is quite good compared to the majority of my peers. What really disturbs me is when some of my friends will say "Well, it doesn't affect me, so, whatever." It does affect you! Taxes, civil rights, health services, the roads you drive to work on, etc. The right to a safe abortion saves women and men (when you take into account crime statistics (but mostly women)).
posted by Melee Loaf at 8:11 AM on August 26, 2012


[Seriously, I don't care what side of this you are on, if all you can do is call other members lying sacks of shit go to MetaTalk or take a walk.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:28 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I shared these kinds of stories in my college classes years ago -- too many students believed that abortion began when it was legalized in the US. After one of our discussions of the history of Roe v. Wade (including the part about organized religion at that time giving strong vocal support for safe, legal abortions), I had an older woman talk with me quietly. She told of her experience out in the country -- where people secretly just buried unwanted babies in their back yards.

I will trust the pleas of 'right-to-life' people when I see all of them marching, rallying and demanding free, safe birth control and universal contraceptive education in all schools (public and private).
posted by Surfurrus at 8:30 AM on August 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


"I will trust the pleas of 'right-to-life' people when I see all of them marching, rallying and demanding free, safe birth control and universal contraceptive education in all schools (public and private)."

This view is not logical. Just because you think abortion is wrong doesn't mean you have to support any means neccesary to reduce the number of abortions to be logically consistent. People can have more than one moral view and non-Utilitarian systems of ethics.
posted by Jahaza at 8:42 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. For example, the abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America—regions in which abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. The rate is 12 per 1,000 in Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds. [1]

If what you really want is fewer abortions, then the data are clear: voting simply to make abortion illegal or more difficult to access does not work. Talk about sticking your head in the sand.
posted by rtha at 8:45 AM on August 26, 2012 [28 favorites]


You could for instance be opposed to genocide and not support using torture, or assasination, or nuclear weapons to stop it.
posted by Jahaza at 8:45 AM on August 26, 2012


But what about those of us that believe that abortion is murder?
Besides one crucial difference between then and now is that back then it was paramount to hide the fact one was pregnant. Now the social stigma of unmarried pregnancy is practically nonexistent.Then your life was pretty much ruined if people found out.



For most of us this is not about hatred or punishment.It's about right to life.


Basically, the problem is that there is a huge overlap between those who advocate that abortion is murder and those that advocate for abstinence-only sex education, who push the lie that condoms don't work, who push to defund contraceptives from health insurance plans. If you truly wish to end abortion, you should absolutely advocate for contraception, rather than limiting a woman's access to medical procedures. Instead, pro-lifers uniformly advocate restriction of valid, life-saving medical procedures. And they should be demonized for that.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:49 AM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


You could for instance be opposed to genocide and not support using torture, or assasination, or nuclear weapons to stop it.

Yikes. Whole lotta straw in that man.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:50 AM on August 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


Admittedly I find the "If you think abortion is murder, then don't have one -- but don't restrict my right to have one" response to the abortion/murder equivalency perplexing.

Now, I don't think human life begins at conception, but if I did, then hearing the "Don't have one!" argument wound sound sort of like someone saying "So you're against stabbing people with knives, eh? Then don't stab people with knives! But don't stop me from stabbing people with knives if I so choose." Which seems a little ineffective.

I think a much more effective rebuttal to anyone who trots out the abortion/homocide equivalency would be to ask whether or not women who choose to be abort should be tried as felons. Or would the doctor be the murderer, and the woman an accomplice to homocide? Does the doctor get the death penalty, and the woman only faces a couple decades of prison time? The point is, confronting radical anti-abortion types with the question of what punishment they feel should be meted out to a woman who obtains an abortion often makes for an interesting conversation, at least insofar as you can demonstrate the sheer logistical impracticality of criminalizing a common woman's health procedure.

The thing to remember is that many pro-life types—particularly the women, in my experience—really, truly are voicing their conscience. It's not about (in their minds) slut-shaming or Consequences or any of that stuff. It's about saving the life of an innocent child, full stop. So rhetorical techniques that demonstrate the sheer amount of human suffering to which their demands would necessarily lead can often shift the conversation.

So yes, how many suffering women should we send to prison to save people that debatably don't exist yet? Thousands? Or hundreds of thousands?
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:52 AM on August 26, 2012 [16 favorites]


rtha, that study compares poor areas with restrictive laws to rich areas with non-restrictive laws and doesn't attempt to control for that or other externalities. It proves ridiculosuly little.
posted by Jahaza at 8:56 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Torture and assassination are the same as providing decent sex education and birth control. Okay then.
posted by rtha at 8:56 AM on August 26, 2012 [14 favorites]


"If you truly wish to end abortion, you should absolutely advocate for contraception, rather than limiting a woman's access to medical procedures."

Again, this is only true if ending abortion is the only good.

Same with the whole discussion of punishment for women who procure abortions. It's not some magic bullet that pro-lifers don't generally think these women should be massively punished. They're (usually) in a difficult and terrifying position, which leads fairly obviously to an argument for diminshed culpability and, in addition, the evil of the act is not as immediately obvious as for other forms of homicide. These are the kinds of criteria we use in prosecutorial discretion, charging decisions, enacting various levels of legal punishment, etc. all the time.
posted by Jahaza at 9:03 AM on August 26, 2012


This comment on Wilberg's piece is fantastic too:

My father was a doctor and in his early years he had resented those of his profession who would perform abortions. He would get self-righteous and think himself superior to them.

Then he grew up.

After you have practiced medicine for a while, you come to understand that everything isn't all black or all white. He'd seen what happens when girls barely more than children are sexually abused, seen women with serious health issues and a house full of children who won't live through another pregnancy, he'd seen the rape victim. And he's seen what happens after the wire.

So, when a high school classmate's father, a coal miner, came to him explaining that this girl who wasn't old enough to drive a car was pregnant, Dad wasn't self-righteous. He looked at me, his 13 year old daughter and thought, "There by the grace of G-d go I" and made some phone calls. She went on to be the first in her family to finish high school and graduate college.

These men who call for the end of legal abortion don't understand that they won't stop abortions, they will merely stop safe abortions. Oh, the wealthy will send their daughters to Europe like they used to , to a private school or on vacation, but the rest of the population will lose daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts and girl-friends.

Women will die because men want control. The irony is, they may very well kill their own loved ones.
Naithom
August 23, 2012 07:37 PM

posted by naoko at 9:04 AM on August 26, 2012 [41 favorites]


"Torture and assassination are the same as providing decent sex education and birth control. Okay then."

That would indeed be an idiotic view. It also has nothing to do with the argument I put forward, which you're ignoring.
posted by Jahaza at 9:05 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


From what I can tell, the argument you put forward is "People believe different things from you, and may not consider your solutions to the issue to be valid."

To me, that says attempting to reason rationally with these people is unlikely to be effective, and they should simply be fought tooth and nail.

Again, this is only true if ending abortion is the only good.

I'm genuinely curious, is there any other good advocated here? I hear a lot of "abortion is murder," as a party plank. However, I don't think that "women shouldn't have sex if they don't want to get pregnant," is an officially held position by e.g. Republicans, although it might be.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:13 AM on August 26, 2012


Jahaza: the reason your argument is ignored is its specious, and doesn't even make internal sense when treated with the principle of charity. Specifically, you want to be able to make what's a appparently an argument driven by an implicit utilitarian outlook: (BAD (torture) < GOOD (no torture) + VERY BAD (nuclear war))...but you also want to hold the high ground of some supposed "non-utilitarian" outlook. Please either advance an actual non-utilitarian argument or make a carefully-worded, explicit, non-contradictory position statement.
posted by hoople at 9:14 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Though actually I flipped a sign, that less-than sign should be a greater-than sign, for which I apologize.
posted by hoople at 9:15 AM on August 26, 2012


"I will trust the pleas of 'right-to-life' people when I see all of them marching, rallying and demanding free, safe birth control and universal contraceptive education in all schools (public and private)."

This view is not logical.


Not logical is saying that abstinence or unwanted pregnancies are the only two choices women should have.
posted by Surfurrus at 9:16 AM on August 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I just feel like we're all preaching to the choir here, and on Salon, and HuffPo, and DailyKos, and the like. I want to help get the word out to women who scream at other women trying to get into Planned Parenthood for whatever services they need. We really need to get out the college vote this time around. Are there groups of volunteers going around to campuses and getting this message out?
posted by theredpen at 9:18 AM on August 26, 2012


Valuing human life and wanting to improve it are consistent. So is slut-shaming.
posted by annsunny at 9:19 AM on August 26, 2012


"I'm genuinely curious, is there any other good advocated here? I hear a lot of "abortion is murder," as a party plank. However, I don't think that "women shouldn't have sex if they don't want to get pregnant," is an officially held position by e.g. Republicans, although it might be."

No, but a party platform is not a complete systematic statement of morality. But the positions that using birth control is wrong (catholics) or that risking pregnancy when you absolutely can't have a child and could only cope with the outcome through abortion is wrong (some pro-life evangelicals) are positions held by those who wrote the party plank.

"Specifically, you want to be able to make what's a appparently an argument driven by an implicit utilitarian outlook: (BAD (torture) < GOOD (no torture) + VERY BAD (nuclear war))."

No, there's nothing utilitarian about my argument. My point is that pro-lifers who believe using contraception is wrong aren't inconsistent because they don't advocate for some lesser evil to prevent a greater one. Many moral systems don't allow you to do something evil even to prevent a greater evil. Hence the example I gave.
posted by Jahaza at 9:24 AM on August 26, 2012


Wait I thought Romney repudiated that tool from Missouri? What is all this bs get out the vote shit? Does anyone really think a Romney presidency will result in the overturning of Roe v. Wade? This whole election cycle is a joke. They aren't even trying to hide it anymore and people are still eating it up like hotcakes.

Even the hardcore antiabortion folks don't think that will happen.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:28 AM on August 26, 2012


From evilspork's link:
The first month of my internship [in Cook County Hospital] was spent on Ward 41, the septic obstetrics ward. Yes, it's hard to believe now, but in those days, they had one ward dedicated exclusively to septic complications of pregnancy.

About 90% of the patients were there with complications of septic abortion. The ward had about 40 beds, in addition to extra beds which lined the halls. Each day we admitted between 10-30 septic abortion patients. We had about one death a month, usually from septic shock associated with hemorrhage.
This. This is what the anti-abortion crowd (and the GOP platform) want us to return to. Most abortions are economic (pdf). This isn't a case of baby-lovers versus baby-haters, as many anti-abortionists want us to believe. Women want to be able to choose the circumstances under which they have children (if at all): when, with whom, with what support available. Just as men do.

Nobody likes abortion. Nobody. If you (collective you, not pointing fingers) want to reduce abortions, the solution is not to raise barriers to safe, legal abortions, but to reduce the circumstances under which women resort to them.

Stop vaccuming up the money to the financial elite class. Stop sending the jobs overseas and shaming those who are unable to find (or keep) a job that puts them solidly in middle-class territory. Stop this ridiculous view of health care as a luxury good. Start endorsing sex ed classes for middle and high schoolers with realistic information and discussions that avoid shame and blame. Provide parenting classes, for free, in high schools and hospitals. Make safe, effective birth control and contraceptives available at low cost to everyone, no questions asked. Support Planned Parenthood. Make respite care and child care accessible for everyone. Provide significant educational and job training opportunities. Ensure that every child has access to good nutrition and adequate housing and health care, starting with the mother. Stop punishing children and parents for being poor, damnit.

When the anti-abortion movement as a whole supports these things, then and only then will I consider them a pro-life movement.
posted by notashroom at 9:30 AM on August 26, 2012 [49 favorites]


So, let me put it another way. Conservatives, in general, advocate that people should take personal responsibility. Except when they make personal moral decisions for you.

I understand you are pointing out that people aren't consistent across the board, but several people here are trying to point out the inconsistencies.
posted by annsunny at 9:38 AM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Jahaza: firstly, in charity if that is your point you should drop the nuclear weapon example, as without clarification it's easy to see in the same rough moral territory as genocide. You might've had even better luck just stating your actual point, which was the existence of moral systems wherein the use of lesser evils to prevent greater ones is no good.

In any case I'd say that when you drop down from "moral systems" to any specific one, once the lesser/greater evil distinction comes into play the hidden utilitarian outlook emerges. The believers themselves grow blind to the hidden terms that make the math work but they can be teased out without too much trouble.

But, even so, your restatement misses a crucial difference: what you actually have are people with a stated opposition to what they consider to be a larger evil (abortion) actively fighting a smaller evil (contraception), with the full knowledge that success in the struggle against the lesser evil will lead to larger amounts of the greater evil.

It is in this context that they appear to be guilty of special pleading: if they want to be taken seriously as against a particular outcome, and yet choose to take actions that will lead to the outcome to which they are opposed, what is one to make of that, really?
posted by hoople at 9:44 AM on August 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


AElfwine Evenstar: "Wait I thought Romney repudiated that tool from Missouri? What is all this bs get out the vote shit? Does anyone really think a Romney presidency will result in the overturning of Roe v. Wade? This whole election cycle is a joke. They aren't even trying to hide it anymore and people are still eating it up like hotcakes.

Even the hardcore antiabortion folks don't think that will happen."


If you're referring to me saying that we should make sure young people actually vote, I'm confused. Sure, Romney hasn't always toed the hard-core antiabortion line -- he's supported every side of an issue at one point or another -- but their official plank is pretty clear about no legal abortions, no exceptions. I absolutely don't want him in power and I worry that it will come down to turnout. Is that BS?
posted by theredpen at 9:45 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


We Do Abortions Here: A Nurse’s Story Sallie Tisdale
posted by theora55 at 10:02 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Things I know and/or believe about abortion:
. If abortion is not okay; it's not okay for rape and incest.
. Rape is often not a single experience; some women are raped repeatedly, a girl may be raped repeatedly by a relative over a number of years.
. A woman or girl may be raped by her partner or spouse.
. Many conservatives and extremists do not believe that spousal sexual assault is rape.
. The likelihood of conception is unrelated to whether or not a woman is coerced/raped.
. Many extremists wish to ban abortion even if the pregnancy will seriously harm or kill the woman.
. Many extremists wish to ban abortion even if the pregnancy will seriously harm or kill the woman, even if the pregnancy is not viable.
. Many conservatives have banned, or wish to ban, birth control and sex education.
. Many extremists have banned, or wish to ban, birth control and sex education, yet tolerate and/or promote early marriage, even multiple wives (not multiple husbands, certainly not multiple same-sex spouses).
. Women are coerced into abortions by spouses, parents, employment, military status; this is wrong.
. Making abortion difficult, expensive, hard to find, etc., has stopped women from having abortions.
. Many conservatives have blocked funding for reproductive health education that helps girls & women, boys & men, control their reproductive status.
. Many conservatives have blocked funding for birth control services that helps girls & women, boys & men, control their reproductive status.
. Some girls and women do not realize they're pregnant for months. Maybe they're in fierce denial, maybe they're poorly educated (see above), but it happens.
. Women and girls are far more likely to be seriously harmed or die as a result of pregnancy & birth than as a result of abortion.
. Post-abortion regret is largely a matter of coercion into abortion or lack of careful consideration about an important decision(rare).
. "Post-abortion syndrome" is largely manufactured by anti-choice propagandists.
. Having a child early in life seriously affects a girl's or woman's education options.
. Having a child seriously affects a girl's or woman's work/career options.
. Having a child seriously affects a girl's or woman's likelihood of being poor.
. Many conservatives/libertarians have limited or ended/wish to end funding for families in poverty.
. Many conservatives/libertarians have limited or ended/wish to end funding for education for families in poverty.
. People who are anti-choice do not consider the disability status of the potential person.
. Many conservatives/libertarians have ended funding for care for people with disabilities.
. Many conservatives/libertarians oppose/limit school funding for people with disabilities.
. I would welcome a discussion of the ethics of requiring induced/surgical live birth if a pregnancy is genuinely viable.
. Many extremists are in favor of allowing parents to make extreme decisions about the health care of their children, including refusing health care, up to and including refusal that allows the child to die.
. Conservatives/libertarians oppose/limit health care funding/reform.
. There are already an awful lot of people on the planet. Many of therm do not have sufficient, water, food, shelter, and other resources.
. It's not clear to me where to draw the line when it's a fetus with human potential and when it's a person with rights. It's clear to me that it's not a bright line.
. Abortion is an expedient solution to a complex problem.
. Abortion is often a sub-optimal solution to a problem that should have been resolved some other way (birth control, not being raped for instance)
. Pregnancy is generally hugely intrusive to a girl or woman's body/ life /health.
. Abortion is morally acceptable.

Some Conclusions:
Many conservatives/libertarians don't care about forcing people into poverty/don't care about poor people.
Many conservatives/libertarians do not support equal rights for women.
Extremists hate woman.
Conservatives only care about ideal women who are magically cute, somewhat educated, undemanding, and have pregnancies and healthy babies at just the right time, and at little - no cost.

. It's my body; I should absolutely be able to decide what happens to it.
. It's my life; I should be able to choose how I live it.
. I'm tired of women-haters.
. I can't fucking believe I still have to protest this crap.
posted by theora55 at 10:03 AM on August 26, 2012 [30 favorites]


Regret is a pretty complicated thing. You can regret an abortion while simultaneously thinking it was the right thing to do and thinking that you would probably regret not having had one. Regretting something doesn't always mean you think you made the wrong choice.
posted by jeather at 10:08 AM on August 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


If you're referring to me saying that we should make sure young people actually vote, I'm confused. Sure, Romney hasn't always toed the hard-core antiabortion line -- he's supported every side of an issue at one point or another -- but their official plank is pretty clear about no legal abortions, no exceptions. I absolutely don't want him in power and I worry that it will come down to turnout. Is that BS?

I wasn't referring to anyone in particular just the general tone of the comments. Anyone with any basic history reading ability can see that party planks amount to jack shit once the election is over. I don't see Romney overturning Roe v. Wade. But the Democrats have to mobilize their base somehow.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:08 AM on August 26, 2012


Also what precipitated all this? Some douche sandwich from Missouri making some idiotic comment which has no bearing on anything...but it sure makes for good theatre doesn't it.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:10 AM on August 26, 2012


Again, this is only true if ending abortion is the only good.

See, this is what I don't get. From my perspective, this is how this looks:

A) Abortion is wrong, therefore abortion should be outlawed or highly restricted

B) Providing decent sex education and easy/inexpensive access to birth control is also immoral

C) Solution is....what, exactly.

rtha, that study compares poor areas with restrictive laws to rich areas with non-restrictive laws and doesn't attempt to control for that or other externalities. It proves ridiculosuly little.


Which study are you referencing? There were several footnoted in the link I provided. Which externalities do you feel were not controlled for?
posted by rtha at 10:20 AM on August 26, 2012


I understand that people don't believe Romney himself will succeed in overturning Roe v. Wade. I agree.

But I don't understand why some people believe that the local, state and federal elections in 2012 (and beyond) of representatives who willingly identify with the explicit platform of the Republican party will lead to no further restrictions on access to legal abortions across the United States. If people don't think that's important, or that's an outcome they desire, then they are entitled to vote (or not) accordingly, and/or to focus their personal attention on other topics this year.

But I feel very uncomfortable being told that focus on this issue is much ado about nothing, "good theatre" with no possible bearing on anything. It is very important to me.
posted by argonauta at 10:33 AM on August 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


"Which study are you referencing? There were several footnoted in the link I provided. Which externalities do you feel were not controlled for?"

The Lancet study that provides the bullet point that you quoted. The most obvious externality not accounted for is disparity in wealth.
posted by Jahaza at 10:47 AM on August 26, 2012


Wait, I got it! Anti-abortionist positions are logically inconsistent, but morally (i.e. ideologically) consistent. So, they may not be supported by critical thinking, but it's okay because they are religiously motivated? Or something
posted by Existential Dread at 10:48 AM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


AElfwine Evenstar: Does anyone really think a Romney presidency will result in the overturning of Roe v. Wade?

argonauta: I understand that people don't believe Romney himself will succeed in overturning Roe v. Wade. I agree.

Roe isn't the big picture. A Romney victory would result in more cases hacking away at Roe more than a total reversal.
Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, and Breyer are well into their 70s. Two conservatives, two liberals. There is a strong likelihood that the next President will install either a 6-3 liberal majority, or a 7-2 conservative majority that will last 20 to 30 years. What do you think a 7-2 conservative majority will do?

Let me repeat that. 20 to 30 years. That's five to eight Presidential terms.

The only thing that would save Roe v. Wade at that point is a Democratic Senate majority working in lockstep to obstruct Romney's nominees a difficult task.

It might not matter, though. Conservatives have (smartly) realized that it's easier to ram extremely restrictive laws through pliable state legislatures than fight a huge battle to the Supreme Court. What good is a legal right to abortion if it's impossible to find unless you're rich or live in a blue state?

With a 7-2 conservative majority, you will find that many of these laws that would seem to contradict Roe to a liberal justice will be upheld.

Elections matter, every single one, down to county dogcatcher. These people get elected and supreme court justices get appointed when no one pays attention to state legislature elections.

Life would be very different if Todd Akin had been crushed in his Missouri House of Representatives District 85 contest.

But I don't understand why some people believe that the local, state and federal elections in 2012 (and beyond) of representatives who willingly identify with the explicit platform of the Republican party will lead to no further restrictions on access to legal abortions across the United States.

Yes, I agree. I shudder to think that there are people this naive. God help us.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 10:48 AM on August 26, 2012 [31 favorites]


It is very important to me.

But not to the politicians you are voting for. Hence the theatre. I guess I was referencing only the presidential election which I see as pretty much a joke, but you are correct that local and state elections are where its at.

Don't get me wrong, the people in this country who would try and control a woman's reproductive cycle are barbarians who should be fought tooth and nail. This issue is actually very important to me also. I spent some time volunteering for an NGO in Nicaragua. One of the things I did was to help educate the campesinas about their reproductive cycle and how they can take power over it. Sadly while birth control is free in Nicaragua most of the poor women I came into contact with were unaware of this or even where to go to get it. In some cases they didn't even know what birth control was or how to use the varying methods. Education on the local level is the key to expanding and insuring women's control over their reproductive cycle.

Politicians on the national level are pretty much all hucksters and will tell anyone anything they need to get elected. So yes go local and never give up never surrender.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:53 AM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


oops preview dammit. Yeah I agree with most of what you said Hollwood. I could be wrong, but I don't see any movement conservative or otherwise on the federal level. I think we can both agree that local is where the real game is.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:55 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Supreme Court appointment angle is critical, too, thanks HUMC. I think I've been so terrified by the "short game," and perhaps too confident that Obama will/must win, that I've been most acutely concerned about how passivity toward (and therefore low turnout for) the presidential might affect down ticket races this fall. But of course you're right.

(Plus, I live in DC, so I admittedly get het up in jealousy for people who actually CAN vote for representatives with meaningful impact. God, I hope they do.)
posted by argonauta at 11:08 AM on August 26, 2012


The Supreme Court appointment angle is critical, too, thanks HUMC. I think I've been so terrified by the "short game," and perhaps too confident that Obama will/must win, that I've been most acutely concerned about how passivity toward (and therefore low turnout for) the presidential might affect down ticket races this fall. But of course you're right.

Hmmmmm.....yeah you got me there. Polls show Obama winning pretty handily; at least recent the pew polls I've seen. It seems that it will come down to swing states once again. Your argument about presidential turnout affecting local races is convincing though. Ok I'll shut up now.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:12 AM on August 26, 2012


The first year Dubya was elected, it was all I could do to keep my head attached to my body. The two-term clusterf**k that followed was hideous, an exercise in national humiliation.

I'm not sure I have the strength to endure the next couple of months. I'm already banging my head against the wall. And even the slightest suggestion that Republicans might prevail causes me actual physical pain. I've never felt quite this frightened before. The extremism is horrifying and the stakes are unimaginably high.

Also, I have no respect at all for any woman who says she plans on voting GOP. None.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:20 AM on August 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


This was an incredible (and sad, shocking, motivating) article - and also educational. I have to confess, I've never thought too closely about the whole "coat hangar" thing, it was just too upsetting on too many levels to think of someone being driven to that.
posted by freebird at 11:24 AM on August 26, 2012


[snip]

If you are really pro-life, then you must support access to affordable post-secondary education for all.


This is comical. "If you are pro-life, you must support every plank of my agenda at public expense". Of course, the list seems to be unaware that many of the demanded things already exist.

And of course, we can turn this the other way:

If you are truly pro-choice, then you must support the right of people to engage in whatever private financial transactions they wish.

If you are truly pro-choice, then you must support the right of every place of public accommodation to choose to whom they will grant or deny service for any reason.

If you are truly pro-choice, then you must support the rights of employers and workers to choose whatever wages they wish, no matter how low.

If you are truly pro-choice, then you must support the rights of individuals to possess whatever they wish, from guns to drugs.

(to save time, I do not necessarily advocate any of these positions)
posted by Tanizaki at 11:31 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


The most obvious externality not accounted for is disparity in wealth.

Gosh, I wonder why countries with greater disparities in wealth (and let's not forget education) might have greater restrictions on abortion? And I wonder what it could be that even though restrictions and penalties are much greater in those countries, abortion rates are still high?

From a Guttmacher paper that's specifically about abortion in Latin America:
Most studies of women hospitalized for abortion-related complications conclude that the major reasons women choose not to give birth are that they are unable for economic, personal or family reasons to have or support the child. Many women are not married or are in unstable relationships. If they are single or very young, they are likely to decide that they cannot take care of a child alone and without financial support.

But the majority of the patients appear to be married women who already have all the children they feel able to care for. The difficult social and economic conditions facing many millions of families in Latin America's poor rural areas and vast city slums spur the desire of couples to have fewer children. So do increases in women's level of education and women's increased participation in the labor market.

Yet, despite the desire for smaller families and for better timing of births, women are not always able to attain control over their childbearing. Surveys of women in Latin America find substantial proportions who do not want to become pregnant but are no t using a contraceptive method or are relying on traditional methods, such as periodic abstinence or withdrawal, which have high failure rates. These women, often characterized as having an "unmet need" for contraception, represent anywhere from 17% of wo men aged 15-44 in Colombia to 43% in Bolivia.16
You have economic, educational, and social factors that all combine to create a situation in which women get pregnant when they don't want to be. Some significant proportion will, even at great risk to their own lives and health, seek illegal, unsafe abortions. Women will die; the children they have will be left motherless; the economic stability of the family will be put at further risk.
posted by rtha at 11:49 AM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Doh. Link.
posted by rtha at 11:50 AM on August 26, 2012


Way back when, two of my sisters had abortions: one legal, and one definately not. The legal one was medically mandated and in a hospital; although she'd wanted the child, the doctors told her the complications she was experiencing in the pregnancy meant that with an abortion, the child would die; but without an abortion, both she and the child would definately die, no question or doubt about it.

The sister with the back alley abortion was 16; she thought she was engaged to the 22-year-old love of her life, but when she told him she was pregnant? Not only did he take off running, but she shortly afterward discovered he was already married with two kids. And back in those days, to be pregnant meant immediate expulsion from school, as well as becoming a social outcast. So yes, she chose an abortion; as far as I know neither of our parents ever knew of it. Was it the best choice for her? In that time and place, where even carrying a child to term if only to give it up for adoption would have permanently negatively impacted her life, definately yes.

This is why I am 100% pro-choice, and believe public policy and laws should not be based on religious beliefs. If you do not want an abortion, don't have one, but using your religion to control me is very, very wrong.
posted by easily confused at 11:52 AM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


So it's about fucking money to some of you who oppose abortion?
posted by maxwelton at 12:05 PM on August 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


But what about those of us that believe that abortion is murder?

Abortion isn't murder*, so there's that.

* If you do believe this, you believe that both the woman and the medical personnel involved in any abortion should receive sentences of, oh say 20 years to life and anyone else involved (boyfriend, family members, nurses, etc.) should get say 5-20 years in the slammer as an accessory to murder.

If that's what you really believe then fine and dandy, but go forward in that belief knowing that you are in a super-minority of both the American and world public.

posted by flug at 12:20 PM on August 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I read that as high-falutin', educacamated language for 'punishing sluts'.

I just think that's putting the cart before the horse. The problem is that 1) the woman is sexually irresponsible (no other way to be sexually active), and 2) that she shouldn't expect to "kill the baby" just because she's socially irresponsible. I don't think these people want to inflict babies on slutty women, they actually think abortion is murder and that sexually active women are inherently craven anyway. I've never heard anyone actually say anything like, "good, now she'll get what's coming to her-- having to take care of a baby!" Maybe it's just me. But the fetus's right to be born is paramount and the rhetoric around abortion is just another way of pouring abuse on a sexually active woman. (I really don't think they give a fuck about the woman one way or another.)
posted by stoneandstar at 12:32 PM on August 26, 2012


And to be honest, I think it's scarier that they just plain don't care about the woman than the idea that they think a baby is a punishment.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:35 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


If abortion were truly viewed as murder, then every miscarriage would require a coroner's inquest.
posted by notashroom at 12:42 PM on August 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


The first year Dubya was elected, it was all I could do to keep my head attached to my body.

Oh yes, ditto! And shortly after that first year, it occurred to me, "Damn, this regime has NO intention of fulfilling their campaign promises to the pro-lifers. They just used the hysteria to garner blind allegiance from the one-issue crowd."

Which in no way means I had any pity for the far right. I just think that election shows how far the 'One-Issue-ees' will go for their cause (stopping abortion is more important than all economic inequity and corruption?!)

AND ... I do believe this election is different. If Romney gets elected, he will not be the one making the decisions. He has already shown that he 'goes where the energy flows'. The energy against women, freedom, choice, social justice, etc. is very dark right now (for all the economic reasons above, if nothing else). This election is crucial.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:06 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Technically, abortion isn't murder. Murder is an illegal killing, or homicide. If abortion is legal, then it can't be murder. It falls under the category of killings such as those in self-defense or between soldiers during a time of war.

Coincidentally, one of the 10 Commandments is often mistranslated into English as forbidding all killing rather than simply illegal killing.
posted by autoclavicle at 1:26 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


All the stories at the University of Minnesota's archived Celebration of Choice site are well worth reading for positive and thoughtful personal experiences with abortion. 

But the one that has haunted me is this transcript of a doctor's witness account of a woman with a botched abortion he saw in his medical student days. Maybe because abortion health has been downplayed into discretion and quiet for so long, people argue the pro/anti sides like an academic debate without a whiff of the visceral reality:
Story told by Dr. Steinberg
Pre-Roe: death via back alley abortion, 1972


So he did a vaginal exam on her, I mean her belly was obvious, and he came out—on his gloves there was blood, and some—a little bit of just, you know, goop.  And a very strange smell.  You have to understand, I wasn’t standing next to him, to smell his gloves, I was actually at the head of the bed, where her head was, because I was watching the IV fluids and that kind of stuff, which were going in through her chest.  But I could smell it, and you know I don’t smell very well, but I could smell it from there.  It was a very strange odor.  It wasn’t like a rotting meat odor, it was very—almost fruity, almost sweet.  It’s very hard to describe.  It’s not good, it’s a funny smell.  I’d never smelled it before.  I have since, unfortunately.
Outlawing abortions won't stop abortions. It will only increase the number of otherwise-healthy pregnant women who will die, stinking and mutilated, slowly and in agonizing pain.

And if you're okay with that, you are horrifying
posted by nicebookrack at 1:59 PM on August 26, 2012 [41 favorites]


Outlawing abortions won't stop abortions. It will only increase the number of otherwise-healthy pregnant women who will die, stinking and mutilated, slowly and in agonizing pain.

This cannot be emphasized enough. The stories of the dark times need to be shared.
posted by Surfurrus at 2:11 PM on August 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


while my husband was doing his residency, 20 years ago in Catholic Ireland (where abortion is still not available but where we have the cheap bus to London to compensate) he was on a Gynae list where they removed a 24lbs benign cyst from an 67 yr old woman. As they carefully transferred the mass in the biggest receptacle they could find it split open. Two nurses fainted (1 male 1 female) and he almost lost his lunch. No one in theatre was unaffected. That smell was FOUL.
The about-to -retire OB GYN doc was the only one....he smiled and ragged them for days afterwards.

When they asked him why he didn't react he said "That was a blast from the past, wire abortions, infected uterus, that's pretty much what it smelled like when it went wrong".

I want to bottle that smell and release it where it will do most good.
posted by Wilder at 2:32 PM on August 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


my impression of Americans is that they are very hygiene concious and forgive me if this is a generalisation, they tend to distance themselves from bodily functions, and processes like death, birth, crooked teeth, whathaveyou. I've personally prepared 5 loved ones bodies for burial which included silly things like blow-drying their hair, or dressing them in their favorite clothes. (I promised Nana I'd make that size 12 dress fit and by god I did it!) 3 of those loved one were waked at home which meant a few nights of having them stay home with us. It doesn't get very hot in Ireland but there's no mistaking the smell. Some of the happiest memories I have relate to those wakes and there's some stories I can tell.....

one of the wins of the so-called pro-life movement is on the visual and visceral level which allows the so called "state rape' by ultrasound wand option, after all, who can kill that COOOTE likkle babay once they see a grainy ultrasound.

The pro-choice field seems to have taken the high-road of silently standing in the way of the image waving protesters. But why not use the same tactics?

Have you seen a young woman shitting through her vagina? After a botched illegal abortion left her with an ano-vaginal fistula? No, well take a picture because you're going to see more of it. The conditions we see in so-called developing countries were common in the USA pre Roe Vs Wade but no-one spoke about them.
posted by Wilder at 2:50 PM on August 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Illegal abortion was almost civilized by the 60s and 70s - at least there were antibiotics, which wasn't the case in the 30s and 40s (.

It was the horror of thalidomide that brought the question of legalizing abortion to the forefront, really. A lady in Phoenix, Sherry Finkbine, a local TV star of a children's program there, took some pills for a few weeks for morning sickness. She was unaware that the medicine was thalidomide and when she learned that her fetus was terribly malformed she opted for a therapeutic abortion, with was just borderline legal at that time. But there was such a public outcry that the abortion was denied (!) and the Finkbines ended up flying to Sweden for the abortion. The fetus was found to be very severely damaged - not only missing limbs, but horribly malformed internally as well. When the Finkbines returned to this country, they were treated like dirt and spent the next many years trying to stay out of the public eye. Imagine how that affected their other four children!

We are headed right back to that point if we elect fundamentalist extremists to office - how could we doubt that? What are people thinking, anyway?

I notice that I haven't seen any movement to set age limits or medical necessity restrictions on the dispensation of ED drugs, though - have I just missed that? Apparently, we're back to doing whatever it takes to ensure that men can be as sexually active as they might dream, but the women (whom one would assume to be on the receiving end of the joy) can just shut up and keep making babies. Wasn't there a time in this country where men would puff up with pride at the great numbers of children they had sired? A man whose wife had ten or more was a MAN, indeed.

Hmm... sounds almost Roman Catholic or Mormon, doesn't it?

I want these creeps to keep away from my granddaughter's uterus - now and always, dammit.
posted by aryma at 2:53 PM on August 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


The (. was not intended as a smiley - it was supposed to be a link to a description of methods of abortion in the 30s and 40s at: http://violetsharp.wordpress.com/spoiler-1932-methods/.
posted by aryma at 2:55 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can not say enough how important this woman's story is. I posted earlier about my experience with illegal abortion, but I feel I need to add to it. I was a sixteen year old girl who knew about birth control, but still got pregnant. There was an underground network of doctors who would perform pregnancy terminations and before my own I had helped several friends and acquaintances find one for themselves. Some of those girls, like me, found a good doctor who practiced under safe conditions. Others did not.
I have absolutely no regret for any of this. None. I wish I could have helped more girls and women back then find abortions. I would do it all again.



I will never vote for a party that would have me return my daughters to that situation. I, and many others, fought too hard to get what is right and just. If that makes me a one cause voter, perhaps it is because the cause truly is important to some of us.
posted by Isadorady at 3:13 PM on August 26, 2012 [14 favorites]


I am curious, with the huge number of people who are for "free" abortions/contraceptives why can not private donors handle the cases where people in need get the medication/procedures for free or at some sort of "affordable" rate depending on their circumstances.

If that were possible, it would have happened. It is like arguing that private charity can solve poverty or that the free market can replace Medicare -- if that were true, then the problems would not have existed in the first place and the government programs/incentives/etc. never would have been established.

You can argue that there is some technological/economic reason why the situation today is different and that continued federal initiatives are out-of-date and are no longer necessary, but we have had a century of trying to provide basic modern health care via private charity. It didn't provide universal health coverage, and societies that succeeded in providing universal health care access used other methods.
posted by deanc at 3:23 PM on August 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hmm... sounds almost Roman Catholic or Mormon, doesn't it?

I want these creeps to keep away from my granddaughter's uterus - now and always, dammit.
posted by aryma at 2:53 PM on August 26 [1 favorite +] [!]


Are LDS categorically opposed to abortion? I thought they had a "just pray about it and do what you feel is right" approach. Abortion might be discouraged, but no one's going to shun you if you have one.
posted by resurrexit at 3:27 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


This Is My Body
posted by homunculus at 3:27 PM on August 26, 2012


Republicans’ anti-abortion crusade: Even as the GOP rushes to distance itself from Todd Akin, the party's platform reminds us how radical it has become
posted by homunculus at 3:42 PM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Women's Health Minute: Leading Experts on Women Sound Off
posted by homunculus at 3:44 PM on August 26, 2012


This view is not logical. Just because you think abortion is wrong doesn't mean you have to support any means neccesary to reduce the number of abortions to be logically consistent. People can have more than one moral view and non-Utilitarian systems of ethics.

You are allowed to have such a non-utilitarian system of ethics, but if you are going to agitate for political change, I'd argue that you are obligated to work within a utilitarian framework-- otherwise it is just a form of wanking using the political system as your forum for self-gratification. The political system is about solving utilitarian problems, not an outlet to make you feel good about yourself, especially when it comes to health care issues and matters of life and death.
posted by deanc at 3:44 PM on August 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


A) Abortion is wrong, therefore abortion should be outlawed or highly restricted

B) Providing decent sex education and easy/inexpensive access to birth control is also immoral

C) Solution is....what, exactly.


This is the debate I really want to have. For the last 30 years we have been screaming over each other "This is my body" vs. "Abortion is murder." We are still having that same dialog nationally and I'm tired of it. If the conservatives continue to demand no abortions ever and abstinence education only and limiting or refusing access to birth control, then I think the nation as a whole should be told what the ultimate goal is-- no pussy footing around. Is the ultimate ideal outcome no sex other than married, procreative sex? That's what it appears to me and I don't think the vast majority of voters would welcome that outcome.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:44 PM on August 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


There is an argument made by the founder of what is now NARAL that the "5000-10000 deaths/year" statistic used in Roe v. Wade were made up.

Also, y'all are throwing out the straw man of a woman being prosecuted for murder if abortion is recognized legally as a crime once again. The error in your criticism (if you've made this argument) is that no U.S. law criminalized the woman's involvement prior to Roe. The crime before that time was not murder; the crime was abortion or feticide, and the woman and child were victims of the criminal doc. So please stop throwing this straw man around. "Abortion is murder" is a hyperbolic manner of stating that a human fetus is a human and it's being killed in abortion, so the term murder is used out of convenience; jumping all over that as if the murder regime should apply rather than the prior legal regime of abortion/feticide laws is disingenuous. This is an okay article backing up this point.

I'm also not referring to the few laws passed last-minute before Roe or concurrent with it that saw that doctors couldn't be prosecuted and so enacted laws criminalizing the woman's conduct.

There may be a trend of dumbass judges/prosecutors trying to wrest the current laws/constitutional theories to cover abortion crimes against the mother, but these never work and, historically, have no basis in the law. The woman is a victim.

You will find no measured pro-life group in American advocating the prosecution of mothers for abortion. So stop throwing around that argument.
posted by resurrexit at 3:48 PM on August 26, 2012


"no measured pro-life group in American"

I mean the groups actually agitating collectively for political change, not just some kook's 'blog or whatever.
posted by resurrexit at 3:49 PM on August 26, 2012


You will find no measured pro-life group in American advocating the prosecution of mothers for abortion. So stop throwing around that argument.

But the argument is not that the law used to prosecute women as people who hired killers, but that if abortion is murder, just like any other murder, it should do so. If you don't want to prosecute women as murderers (which, generally, is the case), then why not?
posted by jeather at 3:53 PM on August 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


What about the case of a self-administered abortion? Is it still murder? Would you call for that woman to be prosecuted?

Maybe that is the only way out of this mess. Maybe somebody needs to invent an easy way for women to self-abort. Then no doctors need to be involved.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:00 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


jeather, abortion was a separate crime--it was never "murder" at all. Murder is a different crime than abortion, just like assault and battery are different crimes. That's why abortion docs didn't get the death penalty like murderers generally did in the past. "Abortion is murder" is a rhetorical device that's convenient. Trying to tie pro-lifers/anti-abortion folks up over terminology so as to score a point is disingenuous and avoids the real issue. Find the movement an equally aphoristic slogan that gets right to the point that fetal humans are humans and perhaps they will stop saying abortion is murder.
posted by resurrexit at 4:05 PM on August 26, 2012


"Abortion is murder" is a rhetorical device that's convenient. Trying to tie pro-lifers/anti-abortion folks up over terminology so as to score a point is disingenuous and avoids the real issue.

I disagree.

Anti-abortion people say that a fetus is a person. Killing a person when you've planned it in advance is murder. Now, in the past it wasn't prosecuted as such in the US -- well, few people remember exactly who was prosecuted for it, and in any case the reason people don't want to make it illegal isn't because they're worried women will be charged as felons. But now, people are trying to change the law again, and they're pretty carefully calling fetuses people and abortion murder. If they want abortion to be prosecuted differently from a murder-for-hire, even when they are using the same words, then they need to explain why the two should be treated differently.

It's more than a rhetorical point.
posted by jeather at 4:12 PM on August 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


Secret Life of Gravy, that's addressed in the second link of my comment above. May be a policy kink that states will have to work out: do they reach a "utilitarian" answer--apparently the only legitimate basis of political action in America, though not actually mentioned in the Constitution?--or do they act on their principles and just prosecute the drug manufacturers? I don't know.
posted by resurrexit at 4:14 PM on August 26, 2012


Also, y'all are throwing out the straw man of a woman being prosecuted for murder if abortion is recognized legally as a crime once again. The error in your criticism (if you've made this argument) is that no U.S. law criminalized the woman's involvement prior to Roe. The crime before that time was not murder; the crime was abortion or feticide, and the woman and child were victims of the criminal doc. So please stop throwing this straw man around. "Abortion is murder" is a hyperbolic manner of stating that a human fetus is a human and it's being killed in abortion, so the term murder is used out of convenience; jumping all over that as if the murder regime should apply rather than the prior legal regime of abortion/feticide laws is disingenuous. This is an okay article backing up this point.

I'm also not referring to the few laws passed last-minute before Roe or concurrent with it that saw that doctors couldn't be prosecuted and so enacted laws criminalizing the woman's conduct.


Well I'm sorry but this is complete gobbldey-gook to me. Abortion is not murder except when it is? Women are not prosecuted for self-aborting except for when they are? Those of us who are Pro-choice are pretty firm in stating that abortion is definitely not murder. The other side is. But you now accuse the pro-choice side of using a strawman argument? What are you trying to say?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:25 PM on August 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


If they want abortion to be prosecuted differently from a murder-for-hire, even when they are using the same words, then they need to explain why the two should be treated differently.

Because abortion is a different crime than murder based on the circumstances of the act, just like manslaughter, negligent homicide, etc., are. It is "murder" in the sense that a human life is being taken, but it is not legally murder in the sense of our penal laws because it has mitigating circumstances owing to the complexity of the situation. It is a fetal human that is killed and, for public policy purposes, courts/legislatures have not seen it as humane to punish the mother of that killed fetal human as a murder accomplice (a sort of, 'hey, let's treat this differently because of the special considerations'); thus, the crime of abortion exists.

Think of it this way: if you saw a MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) mother with a sign that said "DUI deaths are murder," would you think, rock on grieving momma, or would you say, 'well, technically, ma'am, it's vehicular homicide, so exactly what are you getting at here?' Of course you would just say, ohhhhh, I see the point you're making there, and move on.
posted by resurrexit at 4:30 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is an argument made by the founder of what is now NARAL that the "5000-10000 deaths/year" statistic used in Roe v. Wade were made up.

Well, a doctor asserted (as linked and quoted above) that 30-40 women a month were admitted to Cook County Hospital (Chicago) a month for sepsis post-abortion, and that 1 death a month was average. That's a single hospital, in an area where women had access to a hospital. It's not unreasonable to suppose that rural areas lacking hospital access would have had a higher rate of sepsis fatalitlies, and that 5,000-10,000 deaths anually is a reasonable estimate.

Where are you on this? You're arguing that illegal abortions are safer than the public health viewpoint of them and that "abortion is murder" is a rhetorical device because ... why?
posted by notashroom at 4:35 PM on August 26, 2012


It is "murder" in the sense that a human life is being taken, but it is not legally murder in the sense of our penal laws because it has mitigating circumstances owing to the complexity of the situation.

You're still just stating that it is murder but not legally because in the past it wasn't legally murder and therefore it shouldn't be legally murder. What specific issues make it different from murder? For the sake of simplicity, we'll assume the pregnancy has normal risk factors.

It is a fetal human that is killed and, for public policy purposes, courts/legislatures have not seen it as humane to punish the mother of that killed fetal human as a murder accomplice (a sort of, 'hey, let's treat this differently because of the special considerations'); thus, the crime of abortion exists.

Existed. Now there is no such crime. If abortion were to be made illegal again, people would need to deliberately choose what the laws against it were. Why not murder?

Think of it this way: if you saw a MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) mother with a sign that said "DUI deaths are murder," would you think, rock on grieving momma, or would you say, 'well, technically, ma'am, it's vehicular homicide, so exactly what are you getting at here?' Of course you would just say, ohhhhh, I see the point you're making there, and move on.


But no one says "Well, it is like murder, but the person at fault was drunk so they weren't thinking correctly, so we need to blame the person who sold the alcohol". (And some people do suggest that DUIs that cause deaths should be prosecuted as murder.)
posted by jeather at 4:40 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Asking anti-abortion demonstrators what women's punishment should be if abortion is made illegal
posted by argonauta at 4:45 PM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I suppose there's some technical difference between "prosecution" and "persecution," but I can promise that anyone who had an abortion in "the day" had a hard time of it once the word got out. And it always did. It was typical of what's now called a hate reaction: job loss, school terrors for the children, church loss, neighbors turn nasty, vandalism, hate mail and threats.

Yes - just because a woman with a whole houseful of children had an abortion.

Her case may go round and round in the court system, but her home life was ruined, as was her entire family's.

I don't think we realize just how different things were in those days. There are so many laws aimed at giving people "rights" now, but they were rare in those days, and abortion brought out the high-decibel judgment and condemnation - very like the pompous and ignorant rhetoric from the conservative right today.
posted by aryma at 4:47 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The whole point of the pro-lifers calling it murder is to spur the reaction 'It should be illegal, because it's murder. So now you're asserting that you're just using it because it's convenient? Maybe you ought to tell that to all the voters out there in Backwoods, USA that are walking around with the 'Abortion is Murder' signs.

It's your strawman, not ours.
posted by Sportbilly at 5:38 PM on August 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


New law in Arizona states 'pregnancy begins two weeks before conception'
posted by joannemerriam at 5:42 PM on August 26, 2012


There is an argument made by the founder of what is now NARAL that the "5000-10000 deaths/year" statistic used in Roe v. Wade were made up.

There are stats available for countries that restrict abortion right now:

Researchers estimate that in the six countries in question, more than half a million women are hospitalized each year to obtain treatment for abortion complications. If this number is extrapolated to all of Latin America (assuming similar conditions in ot her countries and given that the six study countries account for 70% of the total population of Latin America), almost 800,000 women each year are likely to obtain hospital treatment for the complications of induced abortion (Table 6).

That's hospitizations, not deaths, but I don't find it at all hard to believe that a number of women die from it. Is 5,0000 women too few for you? How many have to die for it to count?
posted by rtha at 5:43 PM on August 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


You will find no measured pro-life group in American advocating the prosecution of mothers for abortion. So stop throwing around that argument.

And yet, it's happening:

here
here
here
and here (in this case, I'm not sure if the Utah bill is now law or not)

These may not be the actions of pro-life groups, but they are the result of multiple lawmakers in many states deliberately creating laws that either explicitly or through selective reading allow women to be charged for attempting to harm the fetus - in some cases, even when there is no direct evidence, simply a woman who fell down some stairs and told her nurse she was having doubts about her pregnancy.

So if these pro-life politicians want abortion to be illegal, and they want mothers to be prosecuted for attempting to get an illegal abortion, what's left?
posted by nakedmolerats at 5:45 PM on August 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


jeather, Sportbilly, I'm afraid we're just going to have to disagree. I've made my arguments, I think a careful reading of what I've written and linked above answers your reply. There are many kinds of murder in the legal sense; when someone dies because of someone's fault, they can be prosecuted for many different crimes/flavors of murder, but which one depends on the circumstances of the death. Abortion used to be one of those, and it follows that, upon the circumstance of a fetal human's death at the hands of an abortionist, the abortionist was the "murderer" and prosecuted as such, not the mother. The laws after Roe v. Wade is overturned are likely to be the same. Abortion, thus, is very much murder. Is it capital murder? No. Is it manslaughter? No. It's a species of murder. It is not murder, I admit, if you take a disingenuously positivistic sense of murder--i.e., if the government doesn't say it's murder, then this particular way of killing a human isn't murder--but few people, even in the abortion-is-a-right crowd, take such a view. A person's a person. Killing a human is some type of murder; killing a fetal human is the type called abortion or feticide. So the strawman is not mine at all. Abortion is murder.

nakedmolerats's links don't disprove my point; those aren't abortion laws being used, those are the existing criminal laws being used, or "Lacey and Connor" laws being used (when you kill a pregnant lady and the fetal human dies, you've killed two people--everyone can get behind these laws). That prosecution of women didn't used to happen when abortion was illegal, see my link above. I wish these prosecutors/judges didn't have to stretch and destroy our existing laws to hold someone responsible for abortion-murder, because the doctor's untouchable since Roe; they're using a wrench as a hammer.

argonauta, Asking anti-abortion demonstrators what women's punishment should be if abortion is made illegal (yt)

This is exactly my point. It's a cute-sy little video, but it's called begging the question, it's a fallacy. It assumes as true that women deserve some punishment for abortion. Historically they didn't, and they still don't today.

Y'all can get after me for bringing up the issue--admitted by NARAL's founder--of the 5-10,000 deaths/annually numbers (the ones relied on by the seven men who decreed that all state abortion laws were invalid), but I was just citing it as backstory to the OP's link about The Wire or whatever. I think it's necessary context that fleshes out the scope of the issue being discussed; i.e., the received wisdom may not be true. rtha, I don't stand anywhere on the issue other than even one death from an abortion is too many, whether it's the fetal human or the mother human. I don't want either of them to die.
posted by resurrexit at 6:12 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is comical.

I love it when so-called "pro-lifers" call things that both unquestionably improve human lives and also reduce abortions, "comical" because those things are not valuable enough to them. It speaks volumes about how much (read: little) they value human life, dignity, and reducing abortions. Thank you Tanizaki for admitting what is a factual reality for those who claim to be for "life" - the priorities of this movement are repeatedly made very clear by its own supporters.
posted by raztaj at 6:36 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


New law in Arizona states 'pregnancy begins two weeks before conception

I read this and thought, Ooooh, an Onion article! Clicked through. Yikes.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:37 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


nakedmolerats's links don't disprove my point; those aren't abortion laws being used, those are the existing criminal laws being used, or "Lacey and Connor" laws being used (when you kill a pregnant lady and the fetal human dies, you've killed two people--everyone can get behind these laws). That prosecution of women didn't used to happen when abortion was illegal, see my link above. I wish these prosecutors/judges didn't have to stretch and destroy our existing laws to hold someone responsible for abortion-murder, because the doctor's untouchable since Roe; they're using a wrench as a hammer.

OK, I agree with you that my links don't show that women are being prosecuted for abortions. I should have been clearer that those links pertain to women trying to self-abort.

My point is though, if plenty of pro-life lawmakers are quoted as saying that abortion should be illegal in ANY circumstance, and there are currently plenty of laws that are often tenuously used to charge women with attempted feticide, then we are facing a situation where plenty of pro-life politicians at least, ARE OK with women choosing between an illegal abortion by a doctor or being prosecuted for trying to do it herself because she's not a doctor.

My point is that even if pro-life groups aren't calling for mothers to be prosecuted for abortions, what many of them are calling for, and in some cases already have on the books, is just as scary.
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:39 PM on August 26, 2012


I don't think we realize just how different things were in those days.

The 1981 movie version of Pennies from Heaven depicts what happens to a female schoolteacher in the 1930s when she gets pregnant out of wedlock. It's absolutely horrifying, her whole life falls apart. The movie is a little masterpiece, and it's a great look at life in 1930s America without the usual nostalgic sugarcoating. (Bonus: It also features Christopher Walken being as terrifying as he's ever been, while also being much, much more sexy than you ever thought he could be.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:41 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Compare: There are many kinds of murder in the legal sense; when someone dies because of someone's fault, they can be prosecuted for many different crimes/flavors of murder, but which one depends on the circumstances of the death. Abortion used to be one of those, and it follows that, upon the circumstance of a fetal human's death at the hands of an abortionist, the abortionist was the "murderer" and prosecuted as such, not the mother. The laws after Roe v. Wade is overturned are likely to be the same. Abortion, thus, is very much murder. Is it capital murder? No. Is it manslaughter? No, [but] it's a species of murder.

Contrast: The crime before that time was not murder; the crime was abortion or feticide, and the woman and child were victims of the criminal doc. So please stop throwing this straw man around. "Abortion is murder" is a hyperbolic manner of stating that a human fetus is a human and it's being killed in abortion, so the term murder is used out of convenience; jumping all over that as if the murder regime should apply rather than the prior legal regime of abortion/feticide laws is disingenuous.

With a sufficiently close reading and sufficiently deep well of charity one can perhaps thread a consistent position through both those paragraphs, but I can't say I'd blame anyone for thinking you're trying to talk out of both sides of your mouth. It's really poor form to borrow the gravitas of a legal term for your own rhetorical purposes then chide your interlocutors for assuming you intended to use the word to mean what it means in a legal setting. I mean, really.
posted by hoople at 6:43 PM on August 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Most abortions are economic

Absolutely. A married couple that I know, had an abortion a number of years ago. They had a baby boy that was born with special needs, and was an especially difficult baby. About 10 months after they had him, they unexpectedly became pregnant. Both exhausted and financially strapped, and determined to give the best possible life, care, and attention to their son already in this world, they decided to terminate that second pregnancy. It was an economic decision for them, and also it was very much about being "pro-life" and caring for their son - that the Forced Birth people seem to think they have some monopoly on caring for human life is an insane lie.

Nobody knows what is going on in the personal life of another, what their circumstances are, and what is or is not a "right" kind of abortion. That determination is not for total strangers or politicians to make.
posted by raztaj at 6:43 PM on August 26, 2012 [15 favorites]


We certainly disagree. You think abortion is murder (in the vernacular sense of the word), but that the person who hired the killer is not legally responsible for this particular murder, because it is different for reasons you refuse to elaborate upon, other than to say that the laws used to be like that.
posted by jeather at 6:46 PM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's nothing like glib bullshit to help one look like the sort of authority who should be allowed to control what my wife does with her very own body.

Speaking of which, if she wants to abort, and dipshit religionists have closed all the safe facilities, she can drink any number of herbal concoctions. Or maybe buy a trampoline. IOW: fuck you.

Ultimately, misogynistic religionists can only make more harm, not less. I'll go down fighting against them.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:59 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Indeed, we disagree, I find it rather hard to believe that those folks out there in Backwoods are aware of your nuanced description of the word 'murder', and how it pertains to this issue.

And that's precisely why the term 'murder' is used. This is no accident, or 'convenience'.
posted by Sportbilly at 7:03 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am currently pregnant with a little girl. She's due just after the November election. I was thinking to myself the other day that I should really do early voting this year in case Little Miss decides to make an early appearance. In thinking about who I would vote for, I wondered if I still should be a one-issue voter with that issue being abortion rights. I wondered if the time hadn't come to vote based upon more than that just one issue. This article was a prescient reminder of what needs to be done.

While I will do my damndest to teach her about responsible, safe and protected sex so that she doesn't ever have to make the awful decision about whether or not to have an abortion, I want to make just as sure that she has access to one if she needs it. So, again this fall, I will again become a one-issue voter.
posted by Leezie at 7:22 PM on August 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


"But it's worth remembering that much has changed since 1973, long before states began declaring that zygotes are full persons under the law and before the US became the country with the largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world." -- Lynn Paltrow, Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), via
posted by argonauta at 7:27 PM on August 26, 2012


even one death from an abortion is too many, whether it's the fetal human or the mother human. I don't want either of them to die.

But in the real world, it doesn't work that way. In the real world, some women are desperate enough to end a pregnancy, for whatever set of reasons, that they will find an illegal provider or try to self-abort or even result to infanticide after giving birth in secret. This is reality, not wishing abortion away. Nobody likes abortion, but it happens, it has always happen, and it will continue to happen as long as pregnancies happen that are unplanned or cause complications such as ectopic pregnancy. So what is your real-world proposal?
posted by notashroom at 7:37 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


hoople, you're right, I went back and read those and I was being imprecise in using "murder" in the legal/positive law sense of a defined crime in the penal code (which it was before 1973) and "murder" in the Decalogue sense (don't kill/murder). It wasn't something I did intentionally while rubbing my hands like Mr. Burns between those two passages, just bad writing.

A sign that says "ABORTION IS MURDER" is rhetorical in the sense of abortion being the taking a human life; but it is not also a violation of the criminal law ever since Roe v. Wade in 1973. But it didn't just stop being murder. It's also not just "borrowing the gravitas of a legal term;" if you take the honest, scientific position that a fetal human at some point in its development is a human and won't become anything else, then abortion is the intentional taking of an innocent human life, so it is also murder in the general sense of that word. So whoever said "it's more than just rhetoric" to say that abortion's murder was correct.

My apologies again for the bad writing, and I thank anyone who's willing to go to the well of charity for me.

We certainly disagree. You think abortion is murder (in the vernacular sense of the word), but that the person who hired the killer is not legally responsible for this particular murder, because it is different for reasons you refuse to elaborate upon, other than to say that the laws used to be like that.

The reasons are whatever the public policy reasons for not prosecuting the mother were back before 1973; presumably because she's practically never the one doing the aborting, it's the doctor or druggist, and because as the old cases say, she's the victim, along with her aborted fetal human. The criminal law regarding homicide makes distinctions for odd reasons, I can't always explain them, but I'm sure someone's got a better rationale for the non-prosecution of mothers here.

I'll go down fighting against them.

I think both sides feel the same way there.
posted by resurrexit at 7:39 PM on August 26, 2012


Umm, guys, if you want to understand and mirror the position of someone else in the thread; there are better ways of doing it than guessing from a random sampling of the most extreme positions on the internet with a passing resemblance to what you've read of the poster so far.

For example, instead of just assuming that Jahaza believes something so non-sequitorily ridiculous like 'Torture and assassination are the same as providing decent sex education and birth control', or casually asserting that St. Allia believes that no women should ever get support in pregnancy ever, you might try asking? And I don't mean questions that are really just either poorly veiled attempts to actively mischaracterize someones position or really bizarrely specific failures of reading comprehension like asking if resurrexit believes illegal abortions are safer for women.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:57 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


resurexit --- "when you kill a pregnant lady and the fetal human dies, you've killed two people --- everyone can get behind these laws"

Actually, NO, not "everyone can get behind these laws", because many of us see this for what it is: yet another backdoor way to force an ultra-conservative religious viewpoint on the rest of us. It seems to me that what the anti-choice groups want is something like what Romania used to have under communism: all women of childbearing age had to prove every. single. month. that they had not had an abortion --- and woe betide the woman who had, for whatever reason, a miscarriage!
posted by easily confused at 8:12 PM on August 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


So what is your real-world proposal?

Most MeFites won't care because they've decided (1) not a human or (2) human, but mom's will trumps fetal human life. If you agree with either of those two things, my response will seem ridiculous.

But I'll shoot: in the real world, fetal human life is human life, and millions of human lives are ended by legal abortion in America every year. So I see two sides of the balance, and right now, it's tipped grossly in one direction; a lot folks here see only one side, the moms' side. Sure, only a few mothers die in the loving embrace of Planned Parenthood; but, in my real world, the fetal human lives count, too. So suppose abortion becomes illegal again. And say your dreadful hypotheticals come true, and I agree that they likely will to some extent. So if even 10,000 American women--ten thousand--will die from botched abortions every year in the states where it's now illegal, and maybe even fifty thousand fetal humans are illegally aborted somehow--and I don't believe either of those categories will be even a quarter that high--that's still an improvement (though godawful) over the current real world, where millions die every year. And it has the policy benefit of abortion being illegal--many folks who currently get abortions wouldn't do it if it weren't legal. (It's like your friend who'd love to smoke a bowl with you if it were legal.)

Ridiculous, I know. But it does follow logically if you deny (1) and (2) above, as I do, and say (1) it is a human and (2) a life is equally a life.
posted by resurrexit at 8:14 PM on August 26, 2012


MattMangels: "Just yesterday he told me that (almost quoting here) most people CAN get healthcare, they just choose to spend their money on TVs, cars, iphones etc. "

I can get a flatscreen 32 in LCD TV for under $400 (in fact, that's exactly what I did a year ago; it's probably even cheaper now). My health insurance for my family costs me more than twice that each month. And if it weren't for chip, I'd be paying even more.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:23 PM on August 26, 2012


royalsong: "a commentor on that post: "Left, right, it doesn't matter. Stay out of my uterus.""

It matters! Vote leftie this fall everybody. Thanks to crazy Republican extremism this is no longer really a Kodos vs. Kang type situation.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:26 PM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


And it has the policy benefit of abortion being illegal--many folks who currently get abortions wouldn't do it if it weren't legal.

Do you have any citation or support for this assertion? Because I think it is just as likely that people with wealth or connections will continue to get illegal (but safeish) abortions, while people without will struggle to provide or get unsafe abortions.

There is plenty of real-world evidence that suggests that making abortions illegal does NOT reduce the number of abortions sought:

http://www.infoplease.com/science/health/global-abortion-rates.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8305217.stm
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/world/12abortion.html
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:27 PM on August 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


This thread has reminded me that A. I need to register to vote (absentee) and B. Local (town, county, state) matter so so so much.
posted by raccoon409 at 8:38 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


she's the victim, along with her aborted fetal human.
I am not, and never was, a victim. You can keep your labels for someone who wants them. I chose to do what I did when I saved up all of my babysitting money and made that appointment under a false name and walked into that doctor's office in the middle of the night. That doctor was a heroine, not a murderer. She saved my life. But then my life doesn't matter next to an embryo/fetus, does it?
posted by Isadorady at 8:43 PM on August 26, 2012 [37 favorites]


It struck me once that part of the crux of the matter is that we didn't have much of a working medical definition for when an individual human life begins. Legally, it is upon birth; morally, many people hold that it is at the moment of conception. But medical science is....a little vague. One letter to an editor on the topic I read lo these many years ago suggested an interesting solution -- they said that, well, medical science defines the end of life as taking place with the cessation of brain activity. So, therefore, could we assume that the medically-ascertained beginning of life may be with the onset of brain activity? It made a lot of sense to me.

The brain activity begins somewhere around the beginning of the second trimester. And before then, a lot of other things can go wrong with a pregnancy - even a pregnancy the mother wants - so much so that often couples who are pregnant will keep the news to themselves during the first trimester just in case something goes wrong. So while the first-trimester unborn child is indeed alive, it is hanging by a slender thread, so slender that it may be better -- from a purely medical standpoint - to consider it as potential life. It is not "alive" in the sense that if it were removed from the womb, it would be able so survive; it is also not aware of anything, as brain activity hasn't started yet. From a moral standpoint, of course, others may disagree, but I am speaking purely of the medical perspective at present.

Now consider - the vast majority of abortions take place during this first trimester. The pregnancies which are terminated during the second or, God forbid, the third trimester, are rarer, and are usually done in cases where the parents and doctor feel the child would have a profound and debilitating disease causing them a life of incredible suffering, or in cases where the mother's life would be in grave danger if she continues the pregnancy, and the child would not be able to survive outside the womb. (This last case is shrinking, as advances in premature deliveries are able to save some of these unborn children.)

But the point being - these are not abortions which are done cavalierly. They are highly personal and individual cases, painful for all parties, and involve an entire life's worth of backstory and experience which none of us could ever comprehend. You may on the face of it disagree with a woman's choice - for every woman whose unborn child has Tay-Sachs disease and chooses to terminate the pregnancy, there is probably another woman whose child has Tay-Sachs and chooses to deliver - but you cannot and would not ever be able to understand the staggering range of life circumstances that brought her to her choice, and it just may be possible that if you did, you would find yourself thinking "oh, now I see why delivering this child would have been the worse option." And vice versa ("oh, now I see why an abortion would have been wrong for you").

Mind you, the first-trimester abortions aren't done cavalierly either. However, the reasons for first-trimester abortions are the ones most critics call "selfish" (unemployment, poverty, unplanned/accidental pregnancy, etc.) -- but, it is also very likely that the unborn child feels absolutely nothing, and the mother could have miscarried anyway for any number of reasons.

So you as an individual may hold a particular moral/ethical view of pregnancy and life which dictates life beginning at conception. However, many others do not share that perception, and it appears medical science itself cannot support that perception. But you can continue to hold that perception for your own self - if you or your spouse becomes pregnant, and you believe life begins at conception, then you are free to believe that about your own pregnancy. As for other women - they have other ideas, and will also act accordingly about their own pregnancies. If you are concerned for their unborn children, know that they may not have woken to any kind of medical idea of life until the second trimester anyway, and the much smaller number of women who do terminate their pregnancies after that point are already grieving over having had to make such a difficult choice over a child that, all things being equal, they would have kept. And what those grieving women deserve is mercy, and compassion, as opposed to criticism.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:44 PM on August 26, 2012 [13 favorites]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: "But what about those of us that believe that abortion is murder?
Besides one crucial difference between then and now is that back then it was paramount to hide the fact one was pregnant. Now the social stigma of unmarried pregnancy is practically nonexistent.Then your life was pretty much ruined if people found out.
"

You are wrong. Murder is the illegal killing of a human being. From a legal standpoint (in most states, at least, thankfully), abortion is not a form of illegal killing, and the thing being killed is a fetus, not a human being.

You believe that it is wrong for the unborn to have their lives terminated. I am telling you that this happens. And furthermore that it will continue to happen. And not only that, but it has been happening, long before the term "abortion" even existed. Before the term "doctor" even existed. In a pinch, women have been using various means to terminate unwanted children millennia before JC was born.

The key is, many of these methods were fairly unsuccessful, and many of these methods were dangerous to the health of the mother. Today we have established medical procedures which protect the health of the mother as much as possible and in theory (although I'm guessing this is not as comprehensively understood or known) limit the pain and/or suffering the fetus might undergo (as opposed to, say, the fetus dying due to exposure to an infection from a metal wire).

So if we allow that this will happen, what things can we do to mitigate the situation at all costs? It's interesting that pretty much across the board, most conservatives oppose all the points I just listed. Which is a shame because short of literally making it illegal or impossible for women to have abortions, the points above are really the only way to limit abortions. And of course, it's funny (but not ha ha funny) that this year it seems like some Republicans might be going all out to literally make it illegal or impossible for women to have abortions.

St. Alia of the Bunnies: "So is it none of my business if, say,a neighbor was abusing their child in their own home?"

You know, maybe this is just me painting many conservatives with an evil brush, but I genuinely think that more conservatives are getting riled up over abortion than they are over child abuse. I mean, I hear all the time about people proudly talking about how they experienced corporal punishment as a child, and how all the kids today need is to have some sense smacked into them as well.

Also: unwanted children are going to, inevitably, be abused. And every non-aborted fetus has the potential to grow to be an unwanted child. Now many parents end up loving their child even if they had original intended to abort them. Nonetheless, if someone decides they can't raise a child, they probably made that decision for a reason.

And to answer your question, of course it's totally your business because it is illegal to abuse a child. But a fetus isn't a full person yet. It isn't a child in the same way a child is after birth.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:52 PM on August 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Malor writes "Anytime you see 'natural consequences' in an argument, that means the drive is to punish the woman for doing something she shouldn't have done. They're restricting access to abortion because they want women to stop having extramarital sex. They couldn't give a flying fuck about the child, as has been demonstrated a zillion times in a zillion different ways. "

It's looney on it's basic level but also because married women also procure abortions. Though it would be interesting to see an abortion law that limited legal abortion to married women.

aryma writes "I notice that I haven't seen any movement to set age limits or medical necessity restrictions on the dispensation of ED drugs, though - have I just missed that? "

Are unmarried, under 18, ED drug prescriptions an even measurable percentage of all ED prescriptions? IE: are they even 1/100 of 1%?seems unlikely considering the age arc of most ED conditions.

resurrexit writes "So if even 10,000 American women--ten thousand--will die from botched abortions every year in the states where it's now illegal, and maybe even fifty thousand fetal humans are illegally aborted somehow--and I don't believe either of those categories will be even a quarter that high--that's still an improvement (though godawful) over the current real world, where millions die every year."

I doubt that the demand for abrtions is that elastic. The numbers from places where abortion is still illegal suggest strongly that making it illegal in the USA would not reduce demand by two orders of magnitude. Especially considering purely pharmaceutical methods are now available and the failed war on drugs shows just how unlikely it is that the US would be able to prevent the steady flow of these drugs into the country. Especially considering some are lready being used for this purpose off label.
posted by Mitheral at 9:00 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


resurrexit: if you were truly dishonest you wouldn't trip all over yourself, I'll give you that; instead, it's just a sign that either your thinking is muddled or that you're the type who, perhaps innocently, grabs whatever is rhetorically the handiest for the situation at hand. No great sin, that, but a trait that makes one unlikely to be taken seriously in a setting wherein it is easy to correlate later statements with earlier statements.

In any case, despite claiming you'd step up to the plate, you really fell short of the mark as well: what you described is an outcome, not a policy, and why you'd like that outcome. Outcomes are nice but they are not executable policy; please be specific.

If abortion is illegal, what would be the punishment meted out to those who performed abortions? It would be easy to detect abortions by combing through the medical records kept by medical practices and health insurers; under what circumstances would such organizations be obligated to proffer those records to law enforcement? Would they have an active duty to report suspicious patterns within those records? Would they be retroactively culpable -- some sort of negligence suit? -- in the event that they failed to examine those records? Would primary care physicians be exposed to contributory liability in the event that they failed to investigate a patient who reported a "suspicious miscarriage"? If abortion is illegal, and a woman were to self-administer mifepristone, would she be culpable for that abortion? If an exception is carved-out for medically-necessary abortion, under what circumstances could law enforcement question that judgment, and how would such disputes be resolved?
posted by hoople at 9:09 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


"There is plenty of real-world evidence that suggests that making abortions illegal does NOT reduce the number of abortions sought:"

I just spent some time wandering around the press kit that those articles you linked to were written from but couldn't find an actual report with actual references in their list of reports that makes that assertion.

Looking through the data that the WHO has published, and Guttmacher Institute has analyzed, it seems quite reasonable to me to state that the legal status of abortions is a minor variable in their prevalence next to larger factors like GDP, access to and acceptability of contraception, access to maternity leave, and universal health care. However, to say that the legal status of abortions has no effect on their prevalence is not only absurd but to responsibly do so would require much much better data than currently exists. You would after all be trying to prove a negative.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:17 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


One other thing I'll throw into the ring here: Did you know that in the 60s, before the age of enlightenment in this country, it was impossible to get birth control from a doctor unless you were married? Yes - true. We all had cheap, fake wedding bands that we'd wear when we went to the drugstore - in a different part of town - to buy douche, which was the one thing we could get by with purchasing if we looked slightly underage. We'd use it not because we'd actually had sex, but because we'd been getting a little too hot and bothered, maybe had our clothes off, and we honestly thought we might be able to get pregnant from such fooling around (sort of the reverse of Todd Akin's idea - maybe a girl could get pregnant just by getting herself and her boyfriend aroused??) The idea of pregnancy without marriage was absolutely terrifying; you'd be a "slut" for the rest of your days.

I found out many years later that my mother had gone through virtually the same nightmare when she was in her late teens in the 1930s - absolutely nothing had changed in those 25-30 years!

And now we're supposed to go back to those dark ages? Not if I have anything to say about it. It's time for people to mind their own damn business and stay out of their neighbors' affairs. If you get pregnant and you're against abortion, don't have one - period. That's all you get to decide - your own life, not mine.
posted by aryma at 9:49 PM on August 26, 2012 [27 favorites]


Specifically, the Guttmacher info says: "Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates." But yes, I worded that poorly and it should be noted that it's a correlation, not a causation. I should rather say "people seem to seek abortions regardless of their legality".

And yes, I totally agree that it is also correlated with the other variables mentioned. But the US doesn't stack up so well in terms of universal health care, maternity policies, and even access to contraception in poor communities, compared to Western Europe. If the true goal of the pro-life movement is to reduce the total # of deaths, both mother and fetus, then the data available tells us what correlates highly with low abortion rates. It tends to be things that American pro-lifers vote against.
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:02 PM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


What about the case of a self-administered abortion? Is it still murder? Would you call for that woman to be prosecuted?

Maybe that is the only way out of this mess. Maybe somebody needs to invent an easy way for women to self-abort. Then no doctors need to be involved.


It's called RU 486.

I have had two abortions-- one when I was 19 and the second when I was just 22-- and have had no regrets or guilt over either. I do, occasionally, wonder what might have been, but in the same way that I wonder what would have happened had I never quit college and gone to work in Alberta one summer, or if I had stayed in London in 1980 instead of coming home to Canada. Both were done in a hospital, were painless, and were quickly recovered from; legal abortions were still relatively new, and I was both aware of and thankful for the work that had been done by women to make them so. I mention this because so many women have abortions at some point in their lives, and talking about us in the abstract allows a certain... distance. So here I am.
posted by jokeefe at 10:11 PM on August 26, 2012 [20 favorites]


So if even 10,000 American women--ten thousand--will die from botched abortions every year in the states where it's now illegal, and maybe even fifty thousand fetal humans are illegally aborted somehow--and I don't believe either of those categories will be even a quarter that high--that's still an improvement (though godawful) over the current real world, where millions die every year. And it has the policy benefit of abortion being illegal--many folks who currently get abortions wouldn't do it if it weren't legal.

And now this leaves me speechless. Perhaps it shouldn't; perhaps I shouldn't be surprised at this reasoning. But I don't even know what to say in response to the idea that the deaths of living, breathing, thinking, feeling women are an easy price to pay in order to stop abortion.
posted by jokeefe at 10:27 PM on August 26, 2012 [38 favorites]


There is nothing, literally nothing, that can stop a woman from aborting if she so chooses. The stress of being restrained could well do it, let alone the things she can choose to do when physically free.

Ultimately it is a choice between allowing women to choose a safe abortion, or a dangerous abortion.

There are no other choices.

The vocal proponents of unsafe abortion make me sick to my stomach. Faced with stark reality, they would choose the path of greater harm.

I must go vomit now.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:29 PM on August 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


"Misogynist" is an absolutely accurate description of a person who would kill women to save embryos. Which is exactly what happens when the right wing is elected.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:46 PM on August 26, 2012 [25 favorites]


"It's called RU 486."

There are all kind of good reasons (PDF) why RU 486 is not and should never need to be a self-administered thing. Between 4.5 and 7.9% of women required surgical intervention in clinical trials and there are all sorts of things that need to be checked for that would cause serious issues from obvious ones like an IUD to less obvious ones like anticoagulant or long-term corticosteroid interventions.

While a desperate teenager taking blackmarket RU 486 would certainly be a step up from a coat hanger, it would be nothing like safe. For that the teenager would need access to professional screening and counseling to rule out or remove contraindications and access to emergency medical intervention if the procedure goes wrong.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:47 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The reasons are whatever the public policy reasons for not prosecuting the mother were back before 1973; presumably because she's practically never the one doing the aborting, it's the doctor or druggist, and because as the old cases say, she's the victim, along with her aborted fetal human. The criminal law regarding homicide makes distinctions for odd reasons, I can't always explain them, but I'm sure someone's got a better rationale for the non-prosecution of mothers here.

You've spent a lot of time emphasizing the distinction between the legal and ethical views of abortion (if, as you've said, abortion is murder, it remains so ethically whether the laws agree or not). However, you dismiss the issue of prosecuting the mother as a "straw man" simply because, historically, she was not considered legally culpable. But that's not the point; the question isn't whether women seeking abortions actually will be legally prosecuted, but why, ethically, they shouldn't be. It's meant to point out an inconsistency in the ethical framework of those who believe that abortion is murder. If abortion is murder, then how is seeking one out any different from hiring a hit man to rip apart your five-year-old kid? If the only justification you can come up with is that the mother is "a victim" and "in a terrible situation," then what you're really doing is denying pregnant women the legitimacy of their own decisions (the next logical conclusion being that pregnant women cannot be trusted to make decisions on their own behalf). But if you allow, even for a second, the possibility that women who obtain abortions do so rationally, in full possession of their mental faculties, then how can you justify not holding them accountable? And how do you explain that fully a third of American women will end up murdering at least one fetus via abortion, yet somehow, they are able to restrain themselves from doing the same to their children even in the most terrible of situations? Is it just mass hysteria? Or is abortion more nuanced than just straight murder?
posted by granted at 1:21 AM on August 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


The reasons are whatever the public policy reasons for not prosecuting the mother were back before 1973; presumably because she's practically never the one doing the aborting, it's the doctor or druggist, and because as the old cases say, she's the victim, along with her aborted fetal human. The criminal law regarding homicide makes distinctions for odd reasons, I can't always explain them, but I'm sure someone's got a better rationale for the non-prosecution of mothers here.

But, yet again, you're just stating that the laws beforehand were correct and will be copied in their entirety should abortion become illegal again. The mother is hiring the doctor; in other murders, the person hiring the killer is equally responsible.

Perhaps there were good reasons before, or perhaps the reasons were bad. But you are claiming abortion is ethically murder, but insisting that there is no good reason to prosecute the person who hired the killer. Women have legal liability on their own now, not just as property of their father or husband.

It seems likely that new laws would be written, and "these are how the laws used to be" won't work as justification.
posted by jeather at 4:34 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


And now this leaves me speechless. Perhaps it shouldn't; perhaps I shouldn't be surprised at this reasoning. But I don't even know what to say in response to the idea that the deaths of living, breathing, thinking, feeling women are an easy price to pay in order to stop abortion.

It makes me think about how amazingly restrained the prochoice side has been in the face of terrorism, threats, and violence, in addition to all of the political campaigns. But that commenter laying it out that baldly really brought home to me how odd our restraint is in the face of such grotesque threats.

I mean, in any other context, someone telling me they thought my wife should die instead of have a safe and effective modern outpatient procedure would make me think about loading the shotgun. And yet for whatever reason we don't. If even one tenth of the violence that has been perpetrated by the antichoice people came back at them, they would be in shock.
posted by Forktine at 6:06 AM on August 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


On reflection, I think it's actually the reverse. The casual use of violence and the willingness to let women die are indicators of how far out of the mainstream the antichoice movement actually is. Whenever that comes to the fore, as in the recent fuss over the Komen funding, there is intense push-back. Unfortunately that violence has been coupled in the last decade or so with incredibly effective political organizing and a Republican party that is willing to pander to fringe components of its base regardless of how corrosive an effect that might have overall.

More violence is not the answer, though I'm still shocked at how little there has been in return.
posted by Forktine at 6:23 AM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've been thinking a lot about Malor's comment and Secret Life of Gravy's one, and the hypothesis that the ultimate vision driving of what seem like inconsistent positions (restricting sex ed + restricting access to contraceptives = MORE unwanted pregnancies, not fewer) is a world where women don't have sex except procreative sex while married.

One of the key things I can't grok about that position is... what about the men? I get that many of these men view marrying a virginal Purity-Ball-attending "girl" as their ideal (I loved this insight by taz, by the way). But don't they want to have sex more often, even with those wholesome wives, than just the baby-making sex? I mean, they're not all Duggars, right? Even Paul Ryan only had three children in 12 years of marriage. And Romney was (I assume) thrilled to meet his 3+ grandchildren conceived via IVF, which "personhood" bills would also outlaw.

And at some point, didn't the men with these positions want the girls/women they dated before getting married to do sex-y things with them? Or in their pre-marriage days (or hell, even post-, for the affair-havers), do they think that men like them will just do the dirty stuff with "bad girls" who run in circles where they'll always be able to get black market resources/procedures if they "get in trouble"?... Or is it just an "eh, fuck 'em anyway" double standard, fueled in part by resentment that guys like them always got rejected by girls/women anyway?

It's part of what was so baffling to me about Rush Limbaugh's vitriol toward Sandra Fluke. He's been married four times but has no children, and had other long-term dating relationships with women he didn't marry. Assuming he has sex, it seems likely that he has participated in the use of birth control, and had more than just married procreative sex. Does he just figure that no matter what happens in terms of law, he'll always be rich enough to pay for birth control, and/or a safe off-the-record abortion if one of his partners accidentally gets pregnant? Or does he secretly think that all the women he has sex with are sluts, too?

Holy fuck, maybe he does. I'm seriously afraid I just answered my own question.
posted by argonauta at 6:29 AM on August 27, 2012 [23 favorites]


It's ye olde double standard, with a dose of "women you have sex with who are not your wife are just sluts" plus if you've got enough money and/or political or social standing, the woman will be able to get a safe abortion.
posted by rtha at 6:33 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


So suppose abortion becomes illegal again. And say your dreadful hypotheticals come true, and I agree that they likely will to some extent. So if even 10,000 American women--ten thousand--will die from botched abortions every year in the states where it's now illegal, and maybe even fifty thousand fetal humans are illegally aborted somehow--and I don't believe either of those categories will be even a quarter that high--that's still an improvement (though godawful) over the current real world, where millions die every year. And it has the policy benefit of abortion being illegal--many folks who currently get abortions wouldn't do it if it weren't legal.

So your real-world policy proposal is to dismiss the deaths of thousands of women and girls as sadly necessary collateral damage in the effort to ensure that some unmeasurable number of fetuses are allowed to continue gestating until they can be born to women who are largely not in a position to fully support them? Do you understand that this is a deeply misogynist view, that those infants born through coercion (which is exactly what placing legal barriers to safe abortions is) are more likely to be unwanted and/or live in poverty, and that this view presupposes that somehow women's wombs are the only human body parts declared to be public property?

I knew a child who had a conjoined twin which hadn't finished forming and existed as a tumor on the boy's back. The tumor-twin had hair and teeth and nails and nerves and blood vessels and was undeniably human, yet no one argued that this boy should be required to carry this twin on and in his body. Why not? It was more advanced than many zygotes when they are terminated, and the fact that it was unable to survive without its human host is no different from fetuses prior to viability.
posted by notashroom at 7:06 AM on August 27, 2012 [26 favorites]


Well, obviously the solution would be to enact some absolutely barbaric child support laws to go with all those anti-abortion laws. Say...50% of the father's income towards caring for the child? Coupled with mandatory enforced labor for any failure to pay. Maybe have it run by the IRS, and their most hardnosed auditors. I strongly suspect that once men's bank balances are on the table in a much stricter and extreme way, legal abortion will look a lot more appealing for the men on the anti-choice side of the debate.
posted by madelf at 7:10 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


""Misogynist" is an absolutely accurate description of a person who would kill women to save embryos. Which is exactly what happens when the right wing is elected."

This is a pretty dishonest way to frame the question, it really isn't whether we should kill women to save embryos but rather whether we should allow medical infrastructure to kill embryos and in the process also save women's lives and liberty, and the difference I think is very important for many. I myself feel that rights to medical abortion should extend all the way to the viability of the fetus for any reason, and further in cases where the pregnancy is incompatible with life for either the mother or child, but I don't think we get anywhere by dancing around what we are really talking about. This is using medicine to destroy human life, and we should come by it honestly, phrasing medicine as passive in the exchange does not change the grisly fact that it isn't.

Most of us, I think, are familiar with the trolley problem; where five lives could be saved by diverting a runaway trolley from one track to another, by actively flipping a switch, where one person would be surely doomed by the action. Most peoples answers about the question of whether it is moral to doom one to save five depend on how active they need to be in dooming that one. For example, most would flip the switch to change the tracks but at the same time would, if standing on a bridge above the trolley, refuse to push a fat man leaning over to see what is happening onto the tracks in such a way as to kill him but save five.

"Or is abortion more nuanced than just straight murder?"

I would be very surprised if this was not something everyone in this thread could agree on. Regardless the idea that, assuming abortion to be categorically wrong, a woman seeking it might not be morally culpable in the same way a physician with special moral responsibilities and no skin in the game would be, which I think is what resurrexit is trying to communicate, is not so absurd. Consider a now reasonably classic though experiment by Judith Jarvis Thomson,
"You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. [If he is unplugged from you now, he will die; but] in nine months he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you."
In this scenario would it really be so inconsistent to feel that you should not be punished for asking for the violinist to be killed but still punish a doctor for poisoning him or vacuuming him off of you? Also again, to save time, I myself have nothing but gratitude and respect for abortion providers who ply their trade in incredibly difficult circumstances but to pretend that this is a simple moral question is absurd.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:46 AM on August 27, 2012


argonauta: "And at some point, didn't the men with these positions want the girls/women they dated before getting married to do sex-y things with them?"

Maybe sharing one milkshake with two straws at a soda fountain is enough for them to get their rocks off.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:00 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also:
argonauta: "It's part of what was so baffling to me about Rush Limbaugh's vitriol toward Sandra Fluke. He's been married four times but has no children, and had other long-term dating relationships with women he didn't marry. Assuming he has sex, it seems likely that he has participated in the use of birth control, and had more than just married procreative sex."

Maybe, like the rest of him, his balls are just full of hot air.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:02 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regardless the idea that, assuming abortion to be categorically wrong, a woman seeking it might not be morally culpable in the same way a physician with special moral responsibilities and no skin in the game would be, which I think is what resurrexit is trying to communicate, is not so absurd.

Possibly, but then perhaps resurrexit should make that argument (which still has not been made).
posted by jeather at 8:09 AM on August 27, 2012


Blasdelb: I've never liked that thought experiment because it's one that's so incredibly contrived it barely makes sense (although, in some ways, it does illustrate certain habitual oversights).

Firstly, it overplays its hand with the irrelevant usage of the famous violinist, because it is trying to create a scenario that partially hides the monstrosity of the setup. Having it be a famous violinist and a society of music lovers somewhat downplays the kidnapping-and-forcible-body-violation aspect of the scenario by offering the fig leaf of a "reason" for it, and the assurance that the connected person isn't a violent thug, or a third world dictator, or an aging billionaire hoping to eke out a few more years. But, to be a more realistic analogy it'd have to be an unknown party connected, because no one knows how a person may turn out.

Secondly, it inadvertently illustrates a very revealing cognitive oversight: the society of music lovers clearly has such vast resources as to be able to identify the only person capable of curing the musician, kidnap the person and keep them alive for almost a year's time, and arrange for a rogue physician -- and it must be a *rogue* physician, mind you, as what law-abiding physician would perform such an operation on a patient without their consent? -- to perform the operation, and to secure the premises against escape internal and external. Given such extensive resources, one really does wonder why the society of musicians did not simply contact you, make you an offer for the services of your kidney for nine months, and otherwise operate within the existing channels of civilized society?

I mean, sure, you might say no, but let's not beat around the bush: you've been kidnapped and had your body violated by a society holding vast wealth...I am well aware that in a thought experiment the point is to abstract away certain points so as to focus on the *intended* question, but do you not find it the slightest bit curious that *this* is a scenario cooked up to illustrate a situation wherein we might have moral intuitions for the doctor that *sunders* the forcibly-implanted bodily violations? Does it not seem odd that to try and craft the scenario meant to question the moral culpability of the *other* physician we've now cooked up a story of abduction and violation, which we're meant to just ignore?

Which then brings us to the next issue: as-stated, there's nothing in the scenario the way you've stated it that indicates that the violinist will die *immediately* upon removal of the body-violating connections. Assuming there is even the slightest lag between when the disconnection is made and when the violinist dies the entire dilemma falls apart: you bring in your doctor, you get yourself disconnected, and the music society still has a chance to search for a cure. It's a bit of a pity they didn't just do the civilized thing and make you an offer ahead of time -- and given your experiences with them you're unlikely to accept their offer! -- but there's no need to jump straight from "want to have this illegal and immoral violation of my own body be removed by a physician" to poisoning or vacuuming the violinist.

It's really that last point that shows how insipid a thought experiment it actually is: on the one hand, for the intended dilemma to even present it has to be very difficult to remove the violinist, essentially mandating that removal mean instant death, or that removal require the violinist to die, first; but, making it entirely impossible to disconnect the violinist makes the experiment moot (if he can't be disconnected, what's supposed to happen in 9 months?)...and making it such that removal is possible but the violinist will die immediately upon removal prior to that 9 month period is, of course, possible, but making it that explicit exposes the incredibly contrived nature of the scenario -- how very convenient that there was some sort of life-support limbo the violinist was on until they found you, and how very convenient that that option is off the table post-connection! -- and so it's usually left vague and implicit to avoid making that as obvious.

So it's an oddly illustrative thought experiment in terms of the things it expects you *not* to question, but when used in the service of this debate it only works as-intended if common sense isn't implied to consideration of the options available to the victim. Making things worse, if common sense is applied and the "disconnect, hand violinist back to music society (knowing violinist will likely die)" is on the table, it then becomes the case that if the listener is expected to find moral fault in the doctor for doing the disconnect due to its leading to that death, it's not clear why, by the same principle, that listener wouldn't also find anti-contraception activists somewhat morally culpable for the deaths that will result from success in their endeavors.
posted by hoople at 8:39 AM on August 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


And to be clear: I'm sure at the time the focus was on creating a scenario that, despite its artificiality, carefully tried to reconstruct a situation with adult participants but had similar moral contours to abortion (and for those playing along the thought experiment originates in an at providing a justification for a woman's right to abortion)...but it's just so very, very contrived, and outside of philosophical circles the contrivances really only fit into common folks' common moral intuitions as some kind of rape scenario, that it's a thought experiment best abandoned.

What got my goat is using it uncritically as a story with which to try and generate moral doubt about the propriety of the physician doing the disconnection, which I saw as stretching a bad thought experiment well past its breaking point.
posted by hoople at 8:59 AM on August 27, 2012


The question I have always wanted an answer to: if parents are so obliged to their children that they are required to let them use the parent's body, should parents not also be legally obliged to donate blood or organs if the child is sick?
posted by jeather at 9:06 AM on August 27, 2012


Regardless the idea that, assuming abortion to be categorically wrong, a woman seeking it might not be morally culpable in the same way a physician with special moral responsibilities and no skin in the game would be, which I think is what resurrexit is trying to communicate, is not so absurd.

I agree, the moral culpability is different in degree, but not in kind, but I've really only been talking about the difference in criminal/legal culpability.

Possibly, but then perhaps resurrexit should make that argument (which still has not been made).

Again, historically, the woman was viewed as one of the two victims of an abortion, and not as an actor; she was also typically the only/best witness of the act, and if she were a co-defendant, her testimony was oftentimes not admissible. There are reasons; no, I don't know them all, but you can look them up if you're so terrified by Your State After No More Abortion. So this difference in treatment of women/abortionists is not "deeply misogynist" nor is it "denying pregnant women the legitimacy of their own decisions" as some have claimed--the difference in criminal legal treatment understands that removing a temptation is the best method of fighting some crimes. I guess something I don't understand is, if abortion were illegal once more in those states that decide the issue democratically, why would you want women to be prosecuted for abortions? I understand that you're framing the question as a gotcha or attempting to show an inconsistency in applying a principle (don't kill/murder). But we do this all the time in the law; we treat certain participants in crime differently based on the circumstances of the particular crime. We give snitches immunity in exchange for testimony. We prosecute drug dealers much more harshly than users. We shut down illegal gaming halls but simply make the patrons leave.

So perhaps the difference in legal treatment--which has been my focus, sort of, to the extent I have a pretty mixed train of thought when writing on this site--stems from the policymakers' hope that, if cut off the abortionists, you cut off the overwhelming majority of abortions.

I'm not arguing that there is a difference in moral culpability of a woman and an abortionist. There is some difference, but that's not been the focus of the discussion (or at least not really where I was going); you all have correctly pointed out the correlations between murder for hire, accomplices, and how the mother's acts would result in legal culpability if another crime were being discussed, but the way I see your arguments here is as being in agreement with mine: both are morally culpable, albeit in ways irrelevant to this discussion about legal culpability.
posted by resurrexit at 9:15 AM on August 27, 2012


And here is the part where I am utterly and hopelessly nauseated that the crux of resurrexit's argument hinges upon comparing anyone who might seek an abortion -- rape victims, 10 year olds who have conceived after having been assaulted by their fathers, women who were failed by birth control, women who want very badly to become mothers but whose child won't survive the full term and/or will have only an agonizing couple of hours post-partum -- to criminals.

When your moral worldview requires you to quibble over the levels of criminal activity of people who are NOT CRIMINALS, you need to really, really rethink your stance.
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:29 AM on August 27, 2012 [17 favorites]


There are reasons; no, I don't know them all, but you can look them up if you're so terrified by Your State After No More Abortion.

Yeah, I am terrified by it. As I should be, despite your patronizing tone; I actually have been pregnant and I know what it's like and the medical, emotional, employment, and financial problems that can come with it (you will never experience it which I'm sure drives some of your careless atttude).

Forcing women to continue pregnancies is brutal and should itself be a crime. You hear that? FORCING WOMEN TO BE PREGNANT SHOULD BE A CRIME. We should be arguing the relative criminal penalties for pregnancy "clinics" who lie to pregnant women about the gestational age of their fetus vs the legislators who make vaginal penetration a requirement for an abortion. Personally, I think fraud and accessory to assault are the correct criminal charges, but I'm not a lawyer.

Free, safe, easily accessible abortion for all. It is the only humane answer.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:35 AM on August 27, 2012 [34 favorites]


hoople: In any case, despite claiming you'd step up to the plate, you really fell short of the mark as well: what you described is an outcome, not a policy, and why you'd like that outcome. Outcomes are nice but they are not executable policy; please be specific.

Man, I had that typed up last night and deleted it, thinking it wasn't justified by your prompt/challenge. Here's a short version: Abortion's illegal again in those states who choose to enact anti-abortion statutes. These statutes will likely be nuanced (e.g., some version of what Dubya popularized, the rape/incest/life/health/safety of mother etc.--our culture has become so accustomed to letting medical exceptions define the ethical debate and to "therapeutic"/eugenic abortions that I simply can't imagine an outright ban), and an in-state, non-abortionist doc or panel of MDs will have to certify that an exception's been met (I'm just thinking out loud here; this wouldn't be necessary if all abortions were illegal) before the unwanted fetal human can be discarded. They criminalize abortionists' conduct and those docs lose their licenses, are fined, and they should face prison; if a medical facility or non-doctor licensed medical professional (NP, PA, RN, CNM) participates, there are licensure consequences for providing facilities to/working with an abortionist doc and possible criminal consequences if they are practicing medicine without being a licensed MD. Women who miscarry are women who miscarry; let some crusading DA start to prosecute these women and the DA will probably turn up in a river sowewhere. That's just the public policy balance that has to be realized there, where a womb is a private thing that, without medical intervention, who knows what happened.

If this is not satisfactory to you (go ahead and pile on top of one detail you don't like, or come up with some exceptional test case), go to the prolife/anti-abortion sites and they'll probably have one someone spent more than five minutes thinking about--which is all the thought I've given to this. But feel free to take the deficiencies in my "policy" as representative of the whole movement if you don't care to be so charitable.
posted by resurrexit at 9:38 AM on August 27, 2012


FORCING WOMEN TO BE PREGNANT SHOULD BE A CRIME.

You mean REMAIN pregnant. Few women are forced to be pregnant; and in that case, the person who might deserve to die is the "forcer," not the fetal human.

Free, safe, easily accessible abortion for all. It is the only humane answer.

How is abortion humane for fetal humans?
posted by resurrexit at 9:41 AM on August 27, 2012


they'll probably have one someone spent more than five minutes thinking about--which is all the thought I've given to this.

god, your privilege is just hilariously evident here. LOOK, I JUST WANT WOMEN TO BE FORCED TO BE PREGNANT. I DON'T CARE HOW IT HAPPENS, JUST MAKE THEM STAY PREGNANT, OKAY?
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:41 AM on August 27, 2012 [16 favorites]


You mean REMAIN pregnant. Few women are forced to be pregnant; and in that case, the person who might deserve to die is the "forcer," not the fetal human.

If you block the exit to a room, it doesn't matter how I got into that room, you're forcing me to be there. Unless of course you think that it's okay to lock people into rooms, and you do. You think it's okay to force women to be pregnant. It's sick and immoral, no matter how they got pregnant. Free, legal, safe. That's it. Anything else is splitting hairs.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:44 AM on August 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


It's rather simple, resurrexit: you're petitioning the majority for a change in the status quo, and specifically agitating for a change in the laws of the land that you believe result in outcomes that are more in accordance with your moral sentiments.

Even more precisely, the way you've expressed your opinion is to frame it as something for which you have sufficient moral certitude about one part of the outcome that you're entirely at ease with -- and seemingly little concerned by -- the predictable collateral damage that would ensue were your petition to be granted; you show no interest in even addressing the concerns of those who might themselves be part of the collateral damage, merely referring them to read certain things which you yourself appear to be aware of but not to have read for yourself, either.

Very reassuring, that. When this is what you bring to the table -- a request for others to enact changes that you are requesting due to your moral outlook -- it is not in the least surprising that you have been responded to by attempts to make you express a non-contradictory moral position justifying your specific proposal, no?

I mean, look at it this way: suppose that, for sake of argument, we really wanted to make you happy, and you had some request driven by your moral intuitions, and to make you happy we *wanted* to implement it for you? In that scenario, too, would you be surprised if we asked follow-up questions to clarify the underlying moral intuition, so as to ensure that what we did do on your behalf we did correctly?

And, continuing this hypothetical, would you still find it surprising if when we asked you to clarify certain aspects that were unclear you got flustered and said that that wasn't even really the point? There we were, trying to accommodate your moral intuitions, and we can't even proceed because those intuitions are contradictory in certain easily-predictable scenarios, and you can't be bothered to enlighten us with some way to resolve the contradictions?

And that's a scenario wherein we were not even adversarial, merely trying to be conscientious and accommodating. Here, in an adversarial setting, being coherent is merely the price of entry: if you're asking for a change from the status quo, and your primary justification for the change is your own moral sentiments, but your sentiments appear contradictory and you're unwilling or unable to clear that up upon request -- why, exactly, would you expect your petition to be considered very seriously?
posted by hoople at 9:48 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


it doesn't matter how I got into that room

Okay, if you say so. I say it does. We'll always be arguing past each other here; we share no common principle in discussing this issue.
posted by resurrexit at 9:49 AM on August 27, 2012


How is abortion humane for fetal humans?

Because some fetal humans' developmental processes go horribly awry, and will either die in utero or survive birth only to live a few horrible hours or months. Because some fetal humans who would be otherwise aborted will now, in your world, be born to mothers who cannot afford them, do not want them, will neglect them. Sure, some fetal humans who are "lucky" enough to have Caucasian genes might be adopted, but the vast majority of babies who are given up for adoption languish in foster homes or orphanages without knowing a loving family.

Let me flip it on you: how is forcing a rape victim to carry her pregnancy to term humane? How is it humane to force a woman to carry a dead fetus to term? How is it humane to force a child who was raped by an uncle or brother or stranger to carry to term?
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:51 AM on August 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Women who miscarry are women who miscarry;

You know that there was a bill proposed in Virginia a few years ago that would have made not reporting a miscarriage a crime, right? It got killed when it got publicized and lots of women started sending bloody menstrual pads (well, bloody-looking, anyway) to the bill's author.

You sure hand-wave a lot about "Oh I'm sure women wouldn't be prosecuted because..." Women are prosecuted and imprisoned right now for killing their already-born kids, even when evidence shows they were suffering from mental illness. Even when they were maybe desperate (too many kids already, abusive partner, etc.). Why would - better yet, why *should* - we hold pregnant women to a different standard? And even if you're "only" charged with second-degree murder, that can still be decades in prison. Women in El Salvador are imprisoned for getting abortions, which are not allowed for any reason. And the abortion rate doesn't seemed to have dropped.
posted by rtha at 9:52 AM on August 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


We'll always be arguing past each other here; we share no common principle in discussing this issue.

And yet you see no problem with forcing your theocratic ideals upon my body and the bodies of literally millions of other women. If you want to live in a religious community, go live in one. Imposing your religious beliefs on others by forcing them to endure something as dangerous and physically taxing as a pregnancy is immoral and shameful.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:53 AM on August 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


The young rope-rider, the idea that abortion rights are something that men exclusively want to take away because privilege is wildly out of touch with available data. At least in 2002 in the United States, women were more opposed to abortion rights than men. Indeed, 44% of men and 42% of women thought that "abortion should be generally available to those who want it", 34% of men and 35% of women thought that "abortion should be available, but under stricter than limits it is now", and 21% of men and 22% of women thought that "abortion should not be permitted."

Both sides of this issue are dominated by women
posted by Blasdelb at 9:53 AM on August 27, 2012


"Dominated" is a pretty strong term to use when, by your numbers, at most the difference between women's and men's positions is 2%.
posted by notashroom at 9:58 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


You're calling a 1% difference in 10 year old data a "domination"? Dude, that is a pretty specious argument.
posted by elizardbits at 9:59 AM on August 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Resurrexit, let me ask you this: three years ago I was pregnant -- willingly, I should stress. For reasons too tedious to go into here, I had some significant medical complications early on in the pregnancy that meant I was at a dramatically higher risk for miscarriage, stroke, and fetal malformations, specifically heart defects. Because of this, I literally could not enjoy the first half of my pregnancy, because it was impossible to tell whether or not the fetus was developing properly.

At 20 weeks I had the ultrasound that measured the fetus and confirmed that everything seemed to be ok. But even then, I had to wait until 24 weeks to meet with a fetal cardiology expert to confirm that the fetus's heart had developed normally. I was extremely, extremely lucky, because everything did turn out ok.

But what if it hadn't?

Again, this was a wanted, planned pregnancy. And yet, if something had gone horribly wrong with my daughter's heart to the point where it was unlikely she would survive the rest of the pregnancy, what would you have me do? Carry to term and hope for the best? Carry to term even if she died while still within me? Carry to term and deliver a dead baby?

And in your world where abortions are illegal, let's say I was fortunate enough to have the means to acquire a reasonably safe abortion. What now? Do I got to jail? What about the doctor who had compassion for me and my circumstances? Does she go to jail as well? And what if I don't have the means to acquire an underground abortion, so instead I injure myself, with a huge risk of sterilization or my own death? What then? Do I bleed out and then go to jail, or do I just get a ticket and, I don't know, lose my right to procreate for a while?

This fantasy world you've conjured, one where no abortions are legal, is literally untenable, because it rests on the assumption that all abortions procured are done by the mythical woman who equates abortion with birth control. And not only is that assumption utter bullshit, it also completely ignores the humongous range of reasons that a girl or woman might seek out an abortion.

None of which, I might add, are your business.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:00 AM on August 27, 2012 [21 favorites]


. If you want to live in a religious community, go live in one.

It is not even a matter of "a religious community" as the idea of ensoulment and life beginning at conception is not a religious universal, nor even a Christian universal. But people who wish to force their beliefs about women's bodies onto other people, tend to have no concern for religious diversity in the first place.
posted by raztaj at 10:02 AM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


hoople, I don't have the obligation to understand or to be able to communicate every nuance of a public policy change I, as a voter and commenter on a 'blog, not a direct policymaker, choose to support. We vote and agitate for all sorts of things as citizens, some of which we don't really know jack shit about. Not every global warming sign my petition on the corner guy is a climatologist.

I'm not an abortion law policy guy. I just know that, criminally, abortion used to be illegal; I hope it will be again some day. I also know that, morally, abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, and that's true yesterday and today. Many pro-choice folks disagree that it's a human life and so we depart there, arguing over the science; others waive their hands and say, hey, doesn't matter, mom's will is more important than that nascent life. Well ... okay. I say life's more important. Because that's just a contest of adversarial wills at that point, I say let's take this to the voting booth and duke it out. Oh, but we can't because seven men said we can't. Funny how a drastic, inorganic intrusion into our nation's political life has such a negative effect on our ability to discuss policy, law and morality.

(Also, I feel that you in particular have been deliberately unwilling to construe favorably anything I've said in responding to multiple comments all at the same time. Focus on the argument you know I'm making and not the argument you hope I'm making so you can more easily refute it.)
posted by resurrexit at 10:04 AM on August 27, 2012


The young rope-rider, the idea that abortion rights are something that men exclusively want to take away because privilege is wildly out of touch with available data.

The problem with your stats aside, I'm not talking to men as a gender, I'm talking to and about resurrexit. He is the one who is "wildly out of touch" with how serious--life-and-death serious--pregnancy and abortion are as a human rights issue.

Women have the absolute right to free, safe, and legal abortions; he wants to take away one of our most basic human rights and he can't even be bothered to think it through or consider the implications of such a policy. Disturbingly cavalier with other people's bodily autonomy.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:05 AM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Perhaps I should clarify, when I said both sides are dominated by women I was not referring to the barely statistically significant difference between men and women's opinions of abortion, but the fact that all of the significant voices on both the pro-choice and pro-life sides are female. The gender disparity on the boards and presidencies of pro-choice and pro-life organizations are both dramatically skewed in the same direction, as are volunteers who harass and volunteers who protect women walking into abortion clinics.

Also, I'm not a dude.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:06 AM on August 27, 2012


Who brought up theocracy, ensoulment, religious community, etc.? Not me. Scientifically, a fetal human is a human. You can say it's not until some trimester, or that it's not human until it comes out of the birth canal, or even that it's not until it's a child with the ability to reason, or even that it's not until it reaches sexual maturity; but all of those distinctions are arbitrary. Science, not your ideology, says that a fetal human is human all the way from the get-go.
posted by resurrexit at 10:07 AM on August 27, 2012


Sorry, I use dude gender (and species, tbh) neutrally.
posted by elizardbits at 10:08 AM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


He is the one who is "wildly out of touch" with how serious--life-and-death serious--pregnancy and abortion are as a human rights issue.

Again, this gets back to our definition of what is a life. I believe every abortion results in one death; you don't. Don't say I'm failing to see your side or am out of touch with how you view the situation after you've decided that a fetal human's not a human or that, even if it is, its life is trivial compared to a woman's will. I think you're assuming as a given that you've already won that part of the argument. I say we don't agree on that point you assumed, and so of course I'll look like I'm cavalierly dismissing your later argument that builds on that assumption. You lost me way back there.
posted by resurrexit at 10:10 AM on August 27, 2012


Scientifically, a fetal human is a human.

Merely having human DNA does not, scientifically speaking, make something "human" - certainly not a human being.
posted by raztaj at 10:11 AM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Scientifically, a fetal human is a human.

Oh cool I thought what you were saying was an opinion but you used the word "scientifically", I guess it must be science then.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:11 AM on August 27, 2012 [20 favorites]


Scientifically, a fetal human is a human.

I think you mean "genetically".
posted by elizardbits at 10:12 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, goddamn, the young rope-rider, you know I love you and your contributions here dearly but this is ridiculous. At no point in this thread has resurrexit even identified as religious much less connected their feelings with religion, and has even explicitly come out against religious fundies

Is it so inconceivable that resurrexit might just really care about fetuses? Making up reasons why someone else feels a certain way is unbecoming.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:13 AM on August 27, 2012


Genetics is a science. Embryology is a science. Passing a judgment that "well that's not a human because I still want to kill it" isn't science. I think the lit crit people call that othering.
posted by resurrexit at 10:14 AM on August 27, 2012


We vote and agitate for all sorts of things as citizens, some of which we don't really know jack shit about.

And this is perhaps why people are questioning your theory -- to point out to you the very point that you don't know jack shit about certain parts of this issue (or, to be more charitable, that you perhaps hadn't considered the issue from all angles), and to invite you to consider those particular holes in your logic and entertain the notion of taking those overlooked elements into account and find a solution that suits all parties.

I just know that, criminally, abortion used to be illegal; I hope it will be again some day. I also know that, morally, abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, and that's true yesterday and today.

A thought experiment for you - suppose that the Supreme Court decides that okay, you know what, abortion will be illegal again -- and that we will, as a nation, be using Jewish tradition to ascertain at what point an unborn child is "alive" and at what point abortion will become illegal. By which, they go on to say, that Jewish tradition holds that abortion is immoral at the point of "quickening" - meaning, at the point that the mother can feel movement in her womb. Usually, this happens in the second trimester. Also, they add, historically this was also the point at which abortion was deemed to be illegal in this country in the 1800's and before - so this clearly should satisfy the majority of Christians in the country; although, they stress, this is a yardstick primarily taken from Jewish tradition. Prior to this point, however, abortion would remain perfectly legal.

My questions:

1. As this renders abortion illegal, and also harkens back to a previous historic tradition in this country, would you be satisfied with this outcome personally? If so, can you explain why? If not, why not?

2. Would you consider the Supreme Court's ruling that they have decided to use Jewish tradition in determining the point at which an abortion becomes illegal to be a violation of your own First Amendment rights? If not, why not?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:15 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


If this is not satisfactory to you (go ahead and pile on top of one detail you don't like, or come up with some exceptional test case)

Life is an endless sequence of details; to not sweat the details is, in a very real sense, to disengage with life as it is lived in favor of something bloodless, and to gloss over the specifics of a person is where one's mind first embarks down the road of dehumanization.

That aside, your proposal has serious logistical and liability issues that will likely cripple its ability to effectively supply medically-necessary abortions. If the board is only consulted retroactively -- for example, when a physician's conduct is called into question -- it means that any medical facility and any medical professional that participates in an abortion deemed medically-necessary is exposing themselves to crippling liability in the event that judgment is called into question. This can be avoided by requiring pre-approval from the board prior to performing the operation, but getting this done in a timely fashion is either unrealistic in many actual life-threatening scenarios or would imply the board only ever performed a fairly cursory examination of medical necessity.

Similarly, you misunderstand the nature of the miscarriage issue vis-a-vis miscarriages: suppose you are a police detective on the hunt for a suspected abortionist operating within a specific metro area. Your initial clues are tip-offs from concerned citizens about people they know who they think have had an abortion. Even if you personally and the state alike have no interest in prosecuting any of said abortionist's local victims, at some point the investigation will likely involve actually interrogating said victims, to see if any information can be extracted that will point to the identity of the abortionist, the abortionists' location(s) of operation, and any accomplices.

This line of thinking means that even when women are not targeted for prosecution, their wombs and the events that may or may not have transpired there will become of interest to prosecutors as part of the evidence trail. Police interrogations and investigations are usually very difficult to keep secret from one's friends, neighbors, and families.

And, similarly, if during the investigation a particular primary care physician shows up repeatedly as having attended to the women who're parties of interest, interrogating that physician as a possible accomplice or co-conspirator and so forth seems eminently likely, and that physician's patients' medical records will likely be the primary evidence examined.

Details, details, details. It's not your fault if you haven't considered the predictable, specific effects of the kinds of laws that you think that, if enacted, would result in outcomes you would like, and it's not your responsibility to do so either, but such disinterest in these *other* results and those people who would feel them is neither very flattering nor very convincing.
posted by hoople at 10:21 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Merely having human DNA does not, scientifically speaking, make something "human" - certainly not a human being."

From a nomenclatural stand point, as someone who has worked with human tissues, actually it does. Cell lines with human ancestry are described as human, are treated with extraordinary care and have high standards applied to their use. Human fetuses are unambiguously taxonomically human. Whether that confers upon them personhood - or human-being-ness - though is an entirely different question.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:21 AM on August 27, 2012


Yeah, I just can't accept as rational a schema under which imaginary potential people's rights are valued over those of real, actual people. It requires too many metaphysical contortions, and metaphysics are, in the main, bullshit. Whether Aristotelian, Judeo-Christian or whatever hodgepodge speculation animates the belief that inchoate fetuses deserve more rights than women, it comes down to misogynist consequences and a heaping helping of sophistry, generally built on the privilege of not facing down the decision.

I can recognize that people can have even millennia of belief structure built up around this, and may even find it internally consistent, but for me it always rests on rotted premises and can't ever sustain the weight of making that decision for someone else. Don't want an abortion? Don't have one.
posted by klangklangston at 10:22 AM on August 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


We vote and agitate for all sorts of things as citizens, some of which we don't really know jack shit about.

Just for what it's worth, some of us, in fact, wait until we do know at least minimally "jack shit" about a topic before we advocate for specific policy on said topic. Getting educated on those areas of policy which are likely to influence your voting choices is actually quite a good idea.
posted by notashroom at 10:22 AM on August 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Someone demanded of me a specific policy, which I, for some foolish reason, probably pride in thinking I could hash one out in five minutes, ventured to give. I'm not advocating any detail of it other than that abortion--which is the intentional taking of an innocent, fetal human life--should be illegal.
posted by resurrexit at 10:27 AM on August 27, 2012


Also, goddamn, the young rope-rider, you know I love you and your contributions here dearly but this is ridiculous.

What is ridiculous is the fact that I am arguing with someone for my right to control my own body and you're splitting hairs about me calling his beliefs religious when he called them moral. He wants it to be illegal for me to control my own body. That is a sickening intrusion upon my personhood and upon the personhood of every female. Do you not find that disturbing, at all?
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:29 AM on August 27, 2012 [22 favorites]


Someone demanded of me a specific policy, which I, for some foolish reason, probably pride in thinking I could hash one out in five minutes, ventured to give. I'm not advocating any detail of it other than that abortion--which is the intentional taking of an innocent, fetal human life--should be illegal.

Right. Wonderful. Except in advocating for a massive policy change, I would hope that you'd have the foresight to consider the potential ramifications of that change, and extend your thinking beyond "Abortion is illegal! Yay! The end."

I and many, many other people here have gone out of our way to implore you to consider the hugely negative outcomes of such a ruling, but you seemed determined to maintain focused on one tiny little aspect of the discussion.

Speaking personally, it's enormously frustrating and I regard it as a pretty lousy way to engage people who don't agree with you.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:35 AM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


"It requires too many metaphysical contortions, and metaphysics are, in the main, bullshit."

Heh, so I suppose this metaphysical assertion would be not 'in the main'?
posted by Blasdelb at 10:40 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not advocating any detail of it other than that abortion--which is the intentional taking of an innocent, fetal human life only thing that can, in many cases, save the life, health, sanity, or other well-being of a pregnant woman--should be illegal.
posted by notashroom at 10:42 AM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm going to start surrounding the mention of all my bodily bits with "human" and "life" just to drive some point home about how ~*special*~ these bits are. Right after I dislodge some human booger lives out of my nostrils, and change the tampon that probably caught my human egg life, but before I put on sunscreen to prevent human cancer cell lives from growing in me. But I guess if the human cancer cell lives grow, I should just let them be, because "consequences" and "responsibility" or something, and I shouldn't let my own needs take priority over those human cancer cell lives that need my body. What do I matter?
posted by raztaj at 10:46 AM on August 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


"Were I a religionist, I'd believe that a false prophet is in this thread, claiming to speak for God and promoting Satan's misogyny."

I don't suppose you could point to anyone in this thread claiming to speak for God.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:46 AM on August 27, 2012


Y'all are talking about "massive policy change" in here--the massive policy change happened already, that was in 1973. Shit, I just want the old laws back in the states that want them, where only a few women accidentally killed themselves and their child, rather than the millions of dead we have today.
posted by resurrexit at 10:47 AM on August 27, 2012


Wow.
posted by gaspode at 10:50 AM on August 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


where only a few women accidentally killed themselves and their child, rather than the millions of dead we have today.

Yep. You've literally said "it's okay for women to die if we don't flush zygotes".

The fuck.
posted by eoden at 10:51 AM on August 27, 2012 [18 favorites]


1973 was before I was born, hoss. We're talking a full generation and a half ago. So yeah, reverting to a law that hasn't been, uh, law for nearly 40 years is absolutely a massive policy change, no matter how much you pine for them good ole days.*



* Of septic infections, dead women, unintentional self-inflicted sterilization, unwanted babies, ruined careers, girls sent off to live with relatives rather than bringing shame upon the family for being an unwed mother, etc. etc. etc. Yeah, that period of our history was awesome.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:53 AM on August 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


Well, to be fair, just ask any medical professional and they'll confirm this: exactly nothing has changed in the practice of medicine or in its legal, regulatory, and financial setting in the ~40 years since 1973 -- literally not a single thing! -- so there's that, at least.
posted by hoople at 10:56 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


rather than the millions of dead we have today.

You keep insisting that outlawing abortion will mean fewer abortions. None of the public health data from countries where this is currently the case back that up. Right now, there are countries where abortion is not just illegal but criminalized, and women go to prison (sometimes, they go to prison for having a miscarriage that no one can prove *wasn't* an attempted abortion!). And abortions rates in those countries are still higher than they are in France or Germany, and higher than they are in the U.S.
posted by rtha at 10:56 AM on August 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


And abortions rates in those countries are still higher than they are in France or Germany, and higher than they are in the U.S.

With the added factor of a much higher incidence of maternal mortality and unintentional sterilization to boot.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:57 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


where only a few women accidentally killed themselves and their child

Yeah, those terrible women, those thousands, and thousands, of mothers, and daughters, and children frightened by the children they themselves were carrying, and those thousands of women who decided it was better to risk their lives than bring a child into a world where it couldn't survive, or thrive, or kill them later in the process. Those women, who took steps as women have done as long as the human race has existed. Not 1973. Millennia. Goodness. What a thing to have said.
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:58 AM on August 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


"You've literally said "it's okay for women to die if we don't flush zygotes"."

Wait, literally, or not literally? I literally did not say that, nor did I say that figuratively or in any other way. I said my view of abortion starts with the premise that fetal humans are persons--and millions are killed in the United States every year post-Roe--so outlawing abortion is preferable to the deaths of those women that accidentally kill themselves trying to do something illegal.

If you disagree with the initial premise about personhood, then maybe I do sound like a misogynist. But if my premise is true, and human fetuses are persons, then I am not a misogynist; I am "literally" a humanist. Can you not see my position as rationally following from my initial premise? I know we will never agree on the premise, because you take a utilitarian approach to it; I take a humanitarian approach.
posted by resurrexit at 11:05 AM on August 27, 2012


Compare: "millions are killed in the United States every year post-Roe--so outlawing abortion is preferable to the deaths of those women that accidentally kill themselves trying to do something illegal"

Contrast: "you take a utilitarian approach to it; I take a humanitarian approach".
posted by hoople at 11:11 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I take a humanitarian approach" to the classification of fetal human life as a human person.

That would have been awesome, though.
posted by resurrexit at 11:13 AM on August 27, 2012


How would a humanist approach a case where a person is forced to undergo a dangerous physical experience against their own will?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:15 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Indeed, it would have been awesome. However, can you explain how it is that you have managed to discover that eoden arrived at her beliefs about fetal life via "utilitarianism"? Do you know eoden outside of metafilter? Has eoden mentioned the origin of this belief in some other context?
posted by hoople at 11:16 AM on August 27, 2012


Applying Jewish law or something else? No thanks.
posted by resurrexit at 11:16 AM on August 27, 2012


Applying Jewish law or something else? No thanks.

I'm sorry, can you clarify which question you're answering here?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:18 AM on August 27, 2012


eoden arrived at her beliefs

His, actually. :-)
posted by eoden at 11:21 AM on August 27, 2012


In what manner is a zygote or fetus a "person"? To be a "person", one must be an individual.

If anything, a fetus isn't a person until made individual, disconnected from its host parent.

Is there any history whatsoever of the pre-born being granted the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of personhood?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:25 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Inhumanitarian, more like.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:27 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


How would a humanist approach a case where a person is forced to undergo a dangerous physical experience against their own will?

I was being flip with the Jewish law thing. Sorry. So, the humanist--anticipating where this is going--would never force upon a human fetus a dangerous physical experience such as an abortion.

Am I doing it wrong?
posted by resurrexit at 11:33 AM on August 27, 2012


A quarter of pregnancies spontaneously miscarry.

Which informs us a lot as to how fucking precious they are.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:34 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Four quarters of real, living, breathing, feeling adults die, and they're all precious--your argument stinks.
posted by resurrexit at 11:36 AM on August 27, 2012


I think I'll become a humanist, too. I'm gonna rally for the preservation of the unique human DNA — persons, that is. All y'all get yer cancer on now!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:40 AM on August 27, 2012


I was being flip with the Jewish law thing. Sorry.

Thank you for agreeing to debate in good faith...

So, the humanist--anticipating where this is going--would never force upon a human fetus a dangerous physical experience such as an abortion. Am I doing it wrong?


Then again, maybe not. This appears that you attempting to make fun of my arguments rather than consider them in good faith, as I have done yours. I was sincerely asking how you personally squared forced medical procedures with the principles of humanism, and instead you're turning it around into a "gotcha".

I would leave you with a parting piece of advice that rather than describing yourself as "humanist" that perhaps "fetus-ist" is a better descriptor for your principles, as you are clearly placing that class of humanity above the born class of humanity.

And as you are not going to argue in good faith, I'll simply say good day.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:42 AM on August 27, 2012


"Heh, so I suppose this metaphysical assertion would be not 'in the main'?"

Well, actually, calling metaphysics generally bullshit is more of an empirical statement. Inventing philosophies to justify something that can't be justified in rational terms is pretty much bullshit, and it's pretty much the entire anti-abortion fundament.
posted by klangklangston at 11:42 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


A question. resurrexit: how precious is semen?

Oh, dammit, now I'm going to have that song in my head all day. There are worse earworms, I suppose.
posted by rtha at 11:44 AM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


I take the humanitarian approach — I'm concerned with living, conscious humans who have their own right to reject your nonsense, rather than pretend, potential humans who somehow trump real humans based on, what? Purported innocence? An appeal to natural law?
posted by klangklangston at 11:47 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


..."fetus-ist" is a better descriptor for your principles, as you are clearly placing that class of humanity above the born class of humanity.

Not so. Born and pre-born humans are humans; just as in "real" (which means "born" in MetaFilter abortion threads) life we don't say this human inconveniences me, so it must die, we can't do that with regard to born and pre-born humans. They're equal.
posted by resurrexit at 11:49 AM on August 27, 2012


eoden: sorry, and sorry to use you in this way. It seem distasteful for an ostensible humanist to express such confidence in knowledge of another human being's mental state and thought processes, unless that person has chosen to reveal those. This is the danger I warned of earlier in glossing over details: perhaps you are right and there is an unbridgeable gap between yourself and eoden, but by expressing such strong -- and seemingly unwarranted -- confidence in your knowledge of eoden's mental processes and apparent incuriosity into the lives of others within this thread you certainly do appear to be doing little to close the gap.

Whatever eoden has come to believe eoden has reasons for doing so that are specific to eoden and the events and experiences of eoden's life. If eoden wishes to share those reasons we may learn that, indeed, eoden arrived at that premise by drawing the conclusion that better utilitarian consequences would follow if it were true, and thereby decided that it must be true; it may be the case that the reasons behind eoden's beliefs may be entirely different from your suppositions. It may not even be a fair characterization of eoden's beliefs, either -- eoden may have the same view of fetal life as yourself, but draw different conclusions from the same premise -- or that very notion may indeed be irrelevant as to how the way eoden arrived at those opinions.
posted by hoople at 11:49 AM on August 27, 2012


I feel 100% comfortable that the date of my birth and the date of my death will accurately capture the full length of my life.
posted by argonauta at 11:52 AM on August 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


I wish I was as certain of anything as resurrexit is of the rightness of outlawing abortion and the wrongness of abortion itself. It must be comforting, to know that you are exactly right and that no circumstance, no special case, no appeal to compassion can move you, because you have the single, perfect law to hold onto, the one true line to which all must bend and bow.
posted by jokeefe at 11:52 AM on August 27, 2012 [14 favorites]


"Shit, I just want the old laws back in the states that want them, where only a few women accidentally killed themselves and their child, rather than the millions of dead we have today."

Ya gotta crack a few mom-lettes to save an egg?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:56 AM on August 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


They're equal.

Except, they're not, because you're placing the life of the fetus over that of the mother. At least be honest with what you're asserting.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:57 AM on August 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


you're placing the life of the fetus over that of the mother.

Over the mother what? The mother's life? Most pregnancies, more than most, don't end in the mother's death. How am I placing either one's life over the other? Help me be honest.
posted by resurrexit at 12:01 PM on August 27, 2012


It seems like there's a lack of distinction here between

human [category of cells which have genetic similarity to homo sapiens sapiens],

person [possessing the state of personhood & individual identity], &

human being [being a distinct organism within aforementioned species, possessing the state of personhood, with relevant moral, ethical, and legal connotations].

Are all things within the set {human} also within the set {person}? Probably not. I don't think that when I have a biopsy, the clump of meat is a person. (There's also issues with the idea of identity here)

Are all things within the set {person} also within the set {human being}? This is more arguable. Some people state that membership within the set {human being} is a necessary prerequisite for being within the set {person}. Others don't.

So, then. Is the category {fetus} (encompassing fetushood, zygoteship, and generally everything up until birth for the sake of momentary convenience) within the set {person}, and thus {human being}?

Does it have identity? Up to a point, no. (If you remove the fetus from the attached human, can it live on its own? If so, then it could be identified as a distinct individual. Otherwise, 'scientifically' as some would put it, it is defined as a parasite, much like a pancreas or other organ)

Does it have personhood? The criteria here are also very person-dependent. At a certain point it responds to stimuli, but then so do plants. At a certain point it responds to pain, but then so do various animals which we don't generally ascribe personhood to. At a certain point it shows self-awareness and theory of mind, and other entities which do this people tend to be more likely to ascribe personhood to. So maybe this could be the line we draw to be able to say "here there be persons".

On the other hand, if we assert personhood exists at all points... there's numerous questions which this presents.
posted by CrystalDave at 12:02 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]




Except, they're not, because you're placing the life of the fetus over that of the mother. At least be honest with what you're asserting.


Exactly. I try very hard not to enter these threads, but when a person takes the absolutiststance of aboortion under any circumstances, no matter the outcome, what they are say is the following:

That you, tabubilgirl, should you find yourself in an untenable situation, will learn that your entire life, your whole life experience, the webs of compassion and love and support and interdependence that you have woven over your 32 years on this earth, all of these are worth less than - are worth NOTHING against the potential wellfare of a proto-being that could not survive outside your body - and will kill you in the doing so.

My moral existence - my intellect and my soul - are nothing. I am a uterine replicator for a creature that your own politics will not spare a thought for or penny in the support of once my period of usefulness is over.

To you I am a thing. A nothing.
posted by tabubilgirl at 12:05 PM on August 27, 2012 [30 favorites]


resurrexit, thank you for at least acknowledging that making abortion illegal will result in the deaths of girls and women.

I can't say enough about how wrong I think your stance is, but at least you acknowledge the deaths that will result if abortion were illegal instead of insisting that women would just hold aspirins between their knees to stop from getting pregnant, or whatever hand-wavy argument is currently in vogue among the Republican Policy Authors.

Has any prominent Republican woman stepped forward to say she's in total agreement with, and helped craft, the Republican party's stance on abortion, or has it just been all dudes from start to finish?
posted by lord_wolf at 12:05 PM on August 27, 2012


sorry - the absolutist stance of No abortion under any circumstances -
posted by tabubilgirl at 12:05 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


resurrexit, as has been repeatedly pointed out to you, women do not have abortions because of "inconvenience." What a sad way to go through life to look at women with such contempt and suspicion that you refuse to trust them with their own medical decisions and reasons.
posted by raztaj at 12:06 PM on August 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Over the mother what? The mother's life? Most pregnancies, more than most, don't end in the mother's death. How am I placing either one's life over the other? Help me be honest.

Over the mother's life, if she has suffered complications that put her life at risk. Over the mother's life, if she doesn't have the financial means or will or mental health to support a child. Over the mother's life, if she's a pre-teen who literally cannot physically support the parturition process.

You are saying that the life of that fetus takes precedence over literally thousands of possible scenarios, including the death of the mother whether through medical complications or self-inflicted wounds from attempting to initiate an abortion.

You absolutely are making judgment calls in each of those situations, finding the fetus more worthy of life than the mother. So yeah. I'm asking you to own up to it.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:08 PM on August 27, 2012 [15 favorites]


Over the mother's life, if she has suffered complications that put her life at risk. Over the mother's life, if she doesn't have the financial means or will or mental health to support a child. Over the mother's life, if she's a pre-teen who literally cannot physically support the parturition process.

One of those things is not like the other. That one thing is a discussion worth having, since that seems to be what tabubilgirl's getting at, too. The others place the mere whim of a "real" person above the life of another. No thanks.

tabubilgirl's point is a hard one, and it illustrates letting rare, exceptional medical cases define the scope of a much broader debate. Rather than get into the specifics of an exceptional case in pregnancy, to keep this somewhat on topic I would reply with another question. What happened in the past when there was a tubal pregnancy (or some other rare-ish condition), back when abortion was illegal? Were all those women, with their webs of compassion and whatnot, simply kicked to the curb? I think not. The situation would be treated for what it is--a literally life (as in like, not alive) threatening, anomalous pregnancy with nearly certain 0% chance for the fetal human to survive. I think the standard operation in the past was a tubal resection. I could be wrong. Again, I refuse to let a rare medical condition define the entire abortion debate.
posted by resurrexit at 12:17 PM on August 27, 2012


Resurrexit: Do you believe that people should have sex for reasons other than with the express goal of procreation? Because if so, are you as equally fervent about supporting measures that reduce unwanted pregnancies? In other words, do you support:

- subsidized birth control?
- actual, non-abstinence-only education?
- social programs (such as prenatal care, CHIP, and WIC) that make it easier for low-income mothers to support their children?
- extensive maternity and paternity leave?
- subsidized quality daycare programs?
- removing the bureaucratic nightmarish mess that hampers the adoption process?

Do any of those things have your support? Do you pursue those goals with the intensity you want to save all the millions of unborn?

I am genuinely asking here, without any snark.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:18 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jesus H. Buddha, a woman does NOT get an abortion on a whim, FFS. If anything, that right there is your outlier. If you had even a tiny sliver of an idea of what it's like to undergo an abortion, you would know it is not a decision made cavalierly. Good lord.

I get my car washed on a whim. I get a pedicure on a whim. I do not decide to end a pregnancy and subject myself to a serious medical procedure on a whim.

The amount of disdain you have for women is pretty staggering.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:22 PM on August 27, 2012 [21 favorites]


The others place the mere whim of a "real" person above the life of another

Don't you dare construe my abortion as a mere "whim", resurrexit.
posted by jokeefe at 12:24 PM on August 27, 2012 [25 favorites]


For example, does it make any difference to you to know that I was on the Pill when I became pregnant? That I was a teenager? That I was in an unstable relationship with a young man who I am very grateful that I was not tied to for the rest of my life? But none of that matters, because my ordinary, complex motivations and reasons count for nothing against the possibility of "life".
posted by jokeefe at 12:26 PM on August 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Rexedit: to clarify - I was not refering specifically to a non-viable fetus. I appologise for the mis-speak.
(Although, as has already been pointed out in this thread, there ARE places in the world where women are refused abortion under the circumstances you relate. 'Anomalous' be damned!)

Although truly - all levels of 'she shalt not' are no more and no less than varying degrees of "thing-ness" put upon a pregnant woman. Or uterine replicator.

At the risk of sounding metaphorical in a thread that is trying very hard to be literal, there are a lot of ways to kill a woman. Sometimes she's the only one who dies. Sometimes she and the fetus die. Sometimes she and the fetus both live.
But the large point is that in any case where she and all her years of life and knowledge and doing are held as nothing next to a proto-being, - that's an attempt on a soul. Because how on earth does a soul forget being told THAT?

G'bye - I'm out.
posted by tabubilgirl at 12:29 PM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Relatively rare?

About 1% of pregnancies are ectopic. That's not rare.
posted by gaspode at 12:32 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not arguing that there is a difference in moral culpability of a woman and an abortionist. There is some difference, but that's not been the focus of the discussion (or at least not really where I was going); you all have correctly pointed out the correlations between murder for hire, accomplices, and how the mother's acts would result in legal culpability if another crime were being discussed, but the way I see your arguments here is as being in agreement with mine: both are morally culpable, albeit in ways irrelevant to this discussion about legal culpability.

The question of the woman's moral culpability is absolutely relevant here because you're the one demanding that the laws be changed to reflect your system of morals. It's not irrelevant just because it's not the question you want to answer. For some reason, you have no problem stating that abortion should be a crime because it's immoral to you, but you stop short of demanding that women who commit that crime be considered criminals, even though you admit that they're morally culpable. Instead you dance around it by saying that it's some complicated legal question best left to professionals. That's ridiculous. Surely you believe that women who abuse, neglect, or murder their children - or hire someone else to do it - should be criminally prosecuted, or at least arrested and charged - that's not some legal nuance, that's the consequence of committing a crime. If you think abortion is a crime equivalent to murder, then have the courage to say that the women who do it should face the same consequences as anyone else who solicits murder. If you don't, then why, all of a sudden, does their moral culpability not matter? What's different about their situation that it should exonerate them?
posted by granted at 12:37 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


shiu mai baby, I don't support any of those items as strongly as I support outlawing abortion, which is kind of the whole enchilada if you know what I mean. But I don't want to get into particulars of the list; it's a beg, question-begging mess that I don't have time for today. I am sorry.

To you and others, I don't mean "whim" in the sense of washing your car or cutting your fingernails (though that's actually a common pro-choice analogy for aborting a human fetus, believe it or not). Perhaps I chose an incorrect word; maybe I did--I thought it had some element of personal choice to it that wasn't entirely limited to the "whimsical."

I meant subject only to your will, as in, you can make up your mind to have power over the life of another. That is pretty much not acceptable ever in human society. I accept that a fetal human is a human person after it has been conceived, and so it's not proper for anyone, the mother included, to be able to decide--unless she will literally die if the pregnancy continues--that the fetus should die. It has a right to be born and to weave its own web of happiness and whatever. I had no intention of denigrating anyone's intensely personal decision in their past. I mean that.
posted by resurrexit at 12:45 PM on August 27, 2012


Again, I refuse to let a rare medical condition define the entire abortion debate.

Since you seem entirely ignorant of the various medical conditions that come with pregnancy and can threaten a woman's life, you should just let this go. You - and you're not the only one like this - seem to think that you're in a position to be able to tell when a woman is having an abortion just 'cuz and when it's a medical thing that makes it a much more serious situation.

You can't. You're not the woman and you're not her doctor.

Also, you know what happened to women with tubal pregnancies back in the day? A lot of them died. Just like they do now, in countries where abortion is outlawed for any reason. They die. This is the reality you're advocating. Kick and scream all you like about precious fetuses and deny that you think the fetus is more important, but what you're advocating means more actual, walking-around-going-to-work-raising-a-family-right-now people die.
posted by rtha at 12:50 PM on August 27, 2012 [21 favorites]


I meant subject only to your will, as in, you can make up your mind to have power over the life of another. That is pretty much not acceptable ever in human society.

You are going to have to face the fact that you are doing so.
posted by likeso at 12:51 PM on August 27, 2012 [12 favorites]


I don't think anything horrifies me in quite the same way as people who romanticize embryos.

Seriously, I find it completely unnerving, even when it's in a non-abortion-debate context.

Thinking that a tiny blob of genetic material is as much of a person as I am is just...the stuff of science-fiction and dystopia.

Ugh.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:57 PM on August 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


I wish I was as certain of anything as resurrexit is of the rightness of outlawing abortion and the wrongness of abortion itself.

I am equally certain that they're dead fucking wrong, so there's that at least.
posted by elizardbits at 12:59 PM on August 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


What if the pregnancy is just high-risk? Possible death (higher than 24/100,000), or "well, you need treatment for X, but it's toxic to the fetus", or any of the other reasons a pregnancy might be high-risk but not 100% literally die. What about those cases when one fetus in a multiple pregnancy is endangering the other(s)?

And, again, what about organ donations? Again, I am restricting this to parents who we have already said are obliged to give up their body to their children. Should you be allowed to not give a kidney to your child if it would die without one? How does this differ?

I really want to know this; it's not intended as a gotcha. (For instance, perhaps you would support legislation making it a crime not to donate blood/tissue.)
posted by jeather at 12:59 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think anything horrifies me in quite the same way as people who romanticize embryos.

Yeah, the creepy phrase "pre-born humans" makes me simultaneously crack up from the sci-fi melodrama connotations and gag from the horror.
posted by elizardbits at 1:00 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Should you be allowed to not give a kidney to your child if it would die without one?

I asked this question in a different thread (and of a different mefite) and never got an answer. I advise not holding your breath, even if you look really good in blue.
posted by rtha at 1:01 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Frankly, it doesn't matter why a woman wants to get an abortion. It's nobody's business but that woman's, because it's her body. If she wants to get it on a whim? Still none of your business. If she wants to get it because she's an evil strawwoman, none of your business.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:03 PM on August 27, 2012 [14 favorites]


I asked this question in a different thread (and of a different mefite) and never got an answer. I advise not holding your breath, even if you look really good in blue.

I've asked it lots of times in various places over the years, and never got a single response. Luckily cyan is my favourite colour.
posted by jeather at 1:05 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had no intention of denigrating anyone's intensely personal decision in their past. I mean that.

You don't want to denigrate anyone's choices, just call them immoral and make them illegal. Good to know, but your personal intent means fuck all when compared to the reality of your preferred policies. Dead, injured, infertile women; women tied to their abusers (forced pregnancy is a common abusive tactic); children having children fathered by family members raping them...that is what you want to have happen. But as long as you don't intend to denigrate anyone.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:09 PM on August 27, 2012 [12 favorites]


I don't support any of those items as strongly as I support outlawing abortion, which is kind of the whole enchilada if you know what I mean. But I don't want to get into particulars of the list; it's a beg, question-begging mess that I don't have time for today. I am sorry.

And more's the pity, because what I think too often gets lost among these pro-choice vs. anti-choice debates is that there is this entire realm of common ground that gets ignored in favor of the OMG THINK OF THE BABIES argument.

You may not think those things I listed are as worthy of your support as an outright ban on abortion, but they are, they really, really are. So why is it anathema to try to find at least some areas of agreement? Surely that would be more productive than shutting the conversation down whenever it goes beyond a binary ABORTION LEGAL: YES/NO framing?

Look: the law of the land as it stands right now is that abortion is legal, at least in the first trimester. If your endgame is to get the number of abortions performed every year to as close to zero as possible, why not also advocate for things that make it easier for women to become moms, or to avoid motherhood entirely? The vast majority of pro-choice people I know don't like abortion. We all know it is a painful process that can be fraught with a lot of intense emotions. Most pro-choicers I know adhere to that saying about abortions being safe, legal, and rare. Notice that last part? Rare? As in, "doesn't happen very often at all"?

In your ideal world, abortions are illegal. The outcome that you seem to be perfectly happy with is that this also means that women and girls will die as a result, whether through botched abortions, complications of being forced to carry to term, self-inflicted wounds, etc.

In my ideal world, birth control (pills, IUDs, condoms) are available free of charge. Sex education is meaningful, realistic, and useful, and isn't confined to abstinence-only. Sex outside of the purpose of procreation is not considered a shameful thing. Women have vast resources to support them if they decide to become mothers, such as WIC and CHIP -- and these programs are valued by society, instead of a convenient target for budget hawks. Companies provide a minimum of one year of maternity leave at full pay, and at least six months of paternity leave. Quality daycare is subsidized for those who need it (NB: in my area, for example, a basic, not-fancy daycare program for infants starts at $1,000 per month. It's even higher in other parts of the country).

And because of those things? In my ideal world, abortions happen only rarely, far less frequently than they do now, and women don't die from the horrific complications that are unavoidable in yours.
posted by shiu mai baby at 1:09 PM on August 27, 2012 [19 favorites]


"Again, I refuse to let a rare medical condition define the entire abortion debate."

Why listen to what women tell you at all? Just make up some conditions, reason without applying critical thinking, and be secure in your privilege that you'll never have to worry about this! Problem solved!
posted by klangklangston at 1:10 PM on August 27, 2012 [17 favorites]


The thing about embryos is that they're so innocent.

Not like the women who carry them.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:12 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Look: the law of the land as it stands right now is that abortion is legal, at least in the first trimester.

In many states and for many women, access to abortion is so limited that this is true, but not entirely accurate. Women--not in the future, now--are forced to have more dangerous and complex second trimester abortions because it takes them so long to save the large sum necessary to pay for an abortion, travel a significant distance, take time off of work, or find childcare. Abortion should be free, legal, and accessible to all women, no questions asked. It's the safest and most humane way to ensure that women have complete control over our own bodies and lives.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:15 PM on August 27, 2012 [15 favorites]


Here is one way to ensure that women can access abortion despite conservative (and often terroristic) encroachment on our rights: Abortion Access Funds
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:18 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't support any of those items as strongly as I support outlawing abortion, which is kind of the whole enchilada if you know what I mean.

The difference is that the things on the list are possible to implement and will reduce the number of abortions, while outlawing abortion is pretty much not going to happen. So why are you concentrating your energies on one thing and lending aid and support to opposing changes which would reduce abortion?
posted by deanc at 1:18 PM on August 27, 2012


Speaking of "rare medical conditions," the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the U.S. is murder, and up to 38% of low-income pregnant teens are subjected to intimate partner violence, as well as many of them becoming pregnant through force or coercion. You think that's acceptable, that these young girls should be forced to bear and raise children years before they're in a physically and economically secure position to do so?
posted by notashroom at 1:19 PM on August 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Exactly, the young rope-rider. Which also pinpoints why even the possibility of making it a state's rights issue scares me just as much as full overturning of Roe. Sure, abortions are legal in Illinois, but what about the woman in rural Oklahoma, who lacks the resources and the transportation to cross state lines to get the care she needs?

Frankly, I really wish part of the pro-choice debate focused on the equal protection aspect, because that gets to the heart of why making it a state issue is so terrifying.
posted by shiu mai baby at 1:20 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


The issue of access became crystal clear to me with the murder of Dr. George Tiller. His murder was an act of vile and cowardly terrorism, and it was the culmination of decades of harassment and violence against him. He said:

"Make no mistake, this battle is about self-determination by women of the direction and course of their lives and their family’s lives. Abortion is about women’s hopes and dreams. Abortion is a matter of survival for women.”

A true hero.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:24 PM on August 27, 2012 [21 favorites]


And duh: in my ideal world, abortions are, as TYRR said: abortions are free, legal, and accessible to all women, no questions asked, no stigmas attached, and have abundant post-op care (physical and psychological) available to them, if wanted.
posted by shiu mai baby at 1:26 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I found it instructive to return to the article which prompted this original FPP, and read it again with the knowledge that there are people in the world who think that such a situation is a moral one, and that such suffering is a reasonable punishment for wanting to end a pregnancy.
posted by jokeefe at 2:22 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


"whim" in the sense of washing your car or cutting your fingernails (though that's actually a common pro-choice analogy for aborting a human fetus, believe it or not).

Really? I have had illegal and legal abortions,assisted in legal and illegal first , second and third trimester abortions as a nurse, accompanied MANY women for their procedures, counseled women who chose to carry their fetuses to term or not, been involved in the pro-choice movement for over forty years and I have never-not once, heard anyone in the Pro-Choice movement use these analogies. Never.
posted by Isadorady at 2:27 PM on August 27, 2012 [29 favorites]


If what a person really cared about were the fetuses, probably all of us should be sterilized pre-puberty. Then when we wanted to procreate, gametes could be extracted (or possibly set aside just post-puberty depending on the method of fertilization). Then scientists would combine them (but only one at a time). Each fertilized egg that failed to develop would be given a proper funeral. Then you'd pair the next set. When a fertilized egg developed, it could be implanted into the woman who wanted to carry it. Of course miscarriage is still possible, but at least then you could know about it for sure, and could do appropriate mourning.

I think that's really the only way to properly respect fetal life. Because if you just let people have sex with functioning reproductive organs, millions of fetuses will die from spontaneous miscarriages, and with science in its current state, we would have no way to save them. We don't have cures for fetuses. I don't see how anybody who really cares about fetal life could think that the current system, with its myriad of unremarked upon and often even unknown deaths, could possibly be justified when we now have the technology to make the system outlined above work. At the very least anyone who really cares about fetal life can start by sterilizing themselves and their immediate family, to make sure none of them inadvertently contribute to accidental fetal death. Of course they can set aside gametes for future use. But it would be hypocritical to say you care about fetal life and then have sex that could result in a miscarriage. I mean, okay, maybe it wouldn't be willful killing, but at the very least it's criminally negligent manslaughter. So I presume Resurrexit is sterilized, since even condoms aren't 100% effective and are subject to human error. Of course, sterilization doesn't have 100% success rate either, so maybe he's celibate. Or else just living with the guilt and knowledge of his recklessness with fetal life.
posted by Salamandrous at 2:35 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


though that's actually a common pro-choice analogy for aborting a human fetus, believe it or not

Please stop repeating ridiculous bullshit faux-factoids you've received in some fwd: fwd: fwd: email in allcaps red bolded comic sans.
posted by elizardbits at 2:39 PM on August 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


Sorry, I'm pulling a blank on the 'cutting fingernails' analogy too.

I smell straw.
posted by Sportbilly at 2:44 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't vouch for this site, but it says there's a video of a Planned Parenthood abortionist saying that a fetus is just like a fingernail; I can't watch the video from work. This popped up right away when googling "abortion fetus fingernail."
posted by resurrexit at 2:47 PM on August 27, 2012


If that's proof of "common" one wonders why something with a documented 1% incident rate is a rare edge case.
posted by hoople at 2:56 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just watched that video. The only use of the word "fingernail" is when they say that the pregnancy is "about as wide as my fingernail".
posted by jeather at 3:00 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here's another fingernail reference, albeit a pretty poor one. It's also at the end of this 'blog comment.

There are at least a couple of pro-life/anti-abortion articles that use the trope as well, but I didn't include those.

Sorry if I'm reaching, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't imagining it. No way to tell how common (or not) it is, hoople.
posted by resurrexit at 3:00 PM on August 27, 2012


Your other sites say: that a fetus is alive and human-in-the-sense-that-it-has-human-DNA, like a fingernail, not that an abortion is decided on with as much thought as clipping a fingernail; and is some kind of theoretical argument about abortion from tort law, by a Libertarian politician who once said he would vote to make abortion illegal, and then since has refused to make a public stance on it.

Again, these are crappy references that just mention abortion near fingernails, not that suggest that abortion is a decision with the same importance as cutting fingernails.
posted by jeather at 3:06 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry if I'm reaching, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't imagining it. No way to tell how common (or not) it is

This is how you can tell. It ISN"T . You can ignore my years of experience for some made-up fake investigation by religion-damaged fetal worshipping fanatics if that's what you choose. But don't pretend to be giving facts. Until you can prove otherwise with empirical evidence that Pro-Choice people are comparing abortions to carwashing and fingernail clipping, I suggest you find another way to push your misogynist agenda.
posted by Isadorady at 3:14 PM on August 27, 2012 [12 favorites]


To refresh your own memory: To you and others, I don't mean "whim" in the sense of washing your car or cutting your fingernails (though that's actually a common pro-choice analogy for aborting a human fetus, believe it or not).

So, it's evident that you were at least half-imagining the language you believed to be common, despite its supposed commonness you have yet to dig up an example of it in use in a way that's compatible with the above paraphrase...but, yes, strictly speaking that is merely an abject failure to proffer *any* evidence that that language being used per your own paraphrase, and not enough to rest the case as to its being in common use, or not.

I have tried to give you the benefit of the doubt while also taking your words seriously, but you certainly have made it very difficult: this toenail line of discussion begins with you apologizing for having trivializing the life experience and decisions of the people with whom you are talking, but refusing to leave it as just an apology -- for some reason you also try to carve out an exception that, present company excluded, there are those for whom your insulting characterization wouldn't be inaccurate -- but then when called out on the carve-out within your own apology can't find evidence of the language used the way you say it's used.

Again: what are we to make of all this? Is this how an honest participant would usually participate?

To give you one last benefit of the dbout on this: in your life, have you specifically heard someone involved with abortions -- either an abortionist or a woman who has had an abortion, or is contemplating one -- specifically analogize the decision to the decision to clip off a toenail, or to wash a car? It's a simple yes or no question: have you heard such language, directly from such a person, or have you not?
posted by hoople at 3:27 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This popped up right away when googling "abortion fetus fingernail."

It's fine to come back to the conversation when you can actually come up with links that support whatever you are trying to say but it might be a good idea to talk about things with the people who are here in the thread and not just rail against straw man arguments that other people have made on other web sites. Please do not do that here.
posted by jessamyn at 3:29 PM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


This thread has become... I don't know what the appropriate name is. I'm unequivocally pro-choice, without any reservation. None. And I still think this discussion sucks.

Everyone honestly knows that it's impossible for one person to respond to a dozen posts that begin with a direct address, then outline a number of different issues, each of which would take a thousand words to honestly and completely answer.
posted by samofidelis at 3:31 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


resurrexit, others have already pointed out to you that making abortion illegal does not stop women from having abortions; you do know that, right? It's just a fact.

Let's go ahead and assume that banning abortion would reduce the number of abortions by some percentage. The abortions that still happen will be, pretty much by definition, more dangerous than they are currently. If the woman is injured or sickened by the abortion, that threatens the fetus too.

And right now, the vast majority of abortions take place in the first trimester, when abortion is less risky to a woman's life and health than pregnancy is. Another fact. So a certain number of women who would have had abortions and lived will stay pregnant and get sick or die. Again, a situation in which the mother's health is threatened, threatens the fetus as well.

So your "eh, whatta ya gonna do?" dismissal of a few thousand dead women as a small price to pay (not that you'd be paying it) for millions of unborn -- well, it's not just breathtakingly callous, it's bullshit from top to bottom.
posted by dogrose at 3:39 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


(on non-preview)

samofidelis, I'm just wondering if resurrexit will acknowledge that banning abortions does not make abortions go away. It's not a complicated philosophical question; it's a fact, one that he seems to be ignoring.
posted by dogrose at 3:46 PM on August 27, 2012


[Folks, don't do the "interrogate one user" thing. it's distasteful. MeMail the user and have this thread me a sitewide discussion. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:52 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Everyone can choose to make this not about one person if they work hard enough on it. Be the change you want to see on MetaFilter. Thank you.]
posted to MetaFilter by jessamyn at 9:45 on August 26, 2012 [8 favorites +]
It's fine to come back to the conversation when you can actually come up with links that support whatever you are trying to say but it might be a good idea to talk about things with the people who are here in the thread and not just rail against straw man arguments that other people have made on other web sites. Please do not do that here.
posted by jessamyn at 17:29 on August 27 [1 favorite +] [!]
Haha what ok.

Look, I don't like the views this guy has, either. But this is just us throwing rocks at him. I'm going to get stepped on so hard for saying this, but I can't not do it, because I think this thread has turned into a bunch of noise. Which sucks. I read the University of Minnesota/Celebration of Choice page linked upthread. It was important to read that; I'm saving that interview and I'm going to hang onto it for a long time. I'm hanging onto it because I still think you can change people's minds, that there's something valuable about talking to people who start from a wildly different set of premises from my own. The original article that was linked in the post, that was great, too. A lot of the comments from women who sought reproductive healthcare when it was illegal, those were astonishing. I'm stunned that people can be so forthright about their own lives; I'm a big packet of lies, personally, and I could never be so honest.

But then we just threw rocks at this clown.
posted by samofidelis at 3:52 PM on August 27, 2012


Everyone honestly knows that it's impossible for one person to respond to a dozen posts that begin with a direct address, then outline a number of different issues, each of which would take a thousand words to honestly and completely answer.

I can only speak for myself but when someone comes into a discussion and says something completely antithetical to my own way of thinking, I try to figure out how they arrived at that opinion. I may ask questions to see if I can clarify their position and I may challenge them to back-up their ideas and thoughts. Sure we occasionally have people who are not arguing in faith-- that is they simply drop their opinions into the thread like a bomb and leave. Sometimes we have people who have arrived at their opinion by misinformation and once in awhile may even change their opinion when given proper facts.

What is happening in this case is people are just trying to pin resurrexit down and see how he arrived at his opinion and see if he has a way to back-up this idea that all abortions should be outlawed because it is such an extreme belief.

I used to believe that most people who were anti-abortion were concerned about the fetus as a human being (the "sweet, sweet baby" stance I call it in my head) but I have been confronted with too much evidence to the contrary over the years to believe this is the actually the case. Still, I keep trying to find people who will be able to tell me why a fetus should be in control of the situation rather than the woman whose body is involved because it is simply something I cannot wrap my head around.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:59 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Secret Life of Gravy -- sure. We all have the same response, to greater or lesser extent. But I'm ready to admit that even though someone else didn't ask precisely the same question I have, didn't use quite the specific language I wanted, I'm not going to write my own essay demanding satisfaction from the poster at the bottom of the pile. So either people aren't reading everything others have written here, or they don't care because they think it's more important to get their own chance at confrontation with some poster out on the fringe.

It stinks. This was such a great thread, with so many people with remarkable things to say.

Metafilter protocol asserts that I'm now supposed to apologize for the derail, but (to abuse a metaphor) this train wreck needed derailing.
posted by samofidelis at 4:14 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Send this fave-generating clown out on the fringe some memail anytime, I can respond better that way. Thanks.
posted by resurrexit at 4:36 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, I'm sorry I called you a clown, resurrexit. I did that because I was afraid that I wasn't sufficiently distancing myself from your opinions, and that if I didn't do so, no one would listen to anything I said. I thought about it, and I knew it was a jerk thing to do, and I did it anyway. That's on me.

Actually, that isn't even true. It wasn't that I was afraid no one would listen to me about this; it was that I was afraid that I'd be out of the club. Your views on abortion are drastically different from my own, but I used some dickish language toward you because I needed to make sure I was currying favour with my own camp.

Like I said, a big packet of lies. I'm genuinely sorry.
posted by samofidelis at 4:48 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Still, I keep trying to find people who will be able to tell me why a fetus should be in control of the situation rather than the woman whose body is involved because it is simply something I cannot wrap my head around.

I can only tell you what I think, without speaking for others...but having given this some thought I can tell you that among other things, there is this: In general, a pregnant woman has some agency in becoming pregnant, or at least some agency in actions that have a result of pregnancy (I understand not all intercourse is voluntary, but I am speaking in general here.)

The unborn child (or fetus, or whatever term you care to use) is a living being that has no way of defending itself, and is totally and unequivocally helpless. If one believes, as I do, that life begins at conception, then the responsibilities of the results of conception lie with the parents, and therefore, the mother must be, as a practical matter responsibility for the safety and well-being of the unborn child.

Of course this does not address the question of rape or coerced pregnancy but in order to be morally consistent, I still believe that the unborn child does have the right to exist, and to be brought to term.

I personally wish that a lot of time and a lot of thought and a lot of effort could be put into helping women in difficult situations without having the unborn child pay the price of help with its life. I believe society as a whole could be a lot more creative so that mother and child would not have to be pitted against each other regarding the best outcome for each.

Of course there are hard cases. Of course there are moral dilemmas. The question is what value do we place on human life. Even inconvenient human life. Even seemingly insignificant human life. And to what extent do we as a society grapple with what is truly best for ALL parties in a situation. Not just the grownup ones.

(and to answer a previous question, I never said the government had no role to play in the betterment of conditions for women, for mothers, and for children. I just think we can't STOP there.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:15 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter protocol asserts that I'm now supposed to apologize for the derail, but (to abuse a metaphor) this train wreck needed derailing.

Sorry that people getting angry towards someone who is being callous and flippant about taking away their basic rights isn't exactly what you want to read.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:18 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


And to what extent do we as a society grapple with what is truly best for ALL parties in a situation. Not just the grownup ones.

I totally agree, children are important too. And a lot of women who have abortions have children whom they would like to continue to feed. Hence the abortion.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:19 PM on August 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


The unborn child (or fetus, or whatever term you care to use) is a living being that has no way of defending itself, and is totally and unequivocally helpless. If one believes, as I do, that life begins at conception, then the responsibilities of the results of conception lie with the parents, and therefore, the mother must be, as a practical matter responsibility for the safety and well-being of the unborn child.

Yes, I can understand this position-- a completely dependent but innocent potential human being who has to trust that the uterus it occupies will receive and nourish it. Just as a new born child has to blindly trust that it will be nourished and attended to. However, you do seem to need to gloss over a lot of details in order to achieve this stance. You must forget about rape, you must forget about the dangers to the mother which could result in a loss of life for both. You also have to treat the two-- mother and child-- as more or less equal in value and that is where I must differ.

In order to achieve child bearing age a woman must overcome a lot of obstacles, consume a lot of resources, and learn a great deal of information-- she is a valuable commodity that society has been nurturing for many years. A fetus, on the other hand, is an unknown commodity, undeveloped and biologically of little importance; a few cells which given the right conditions may flourish or may not. These two things are not equal in my mind. Since they are linked together and the lesser entity is completely reliant on the greater entity than I must believe that the woman, not the fetus, gets to make all decisions.

If you understand this, if you can see why the fully developed human with knowledge and experience gets to make the decisions, then you can begin to grasp why women have always used abortion and infanticide in every culture throughout time. The only thing that has differed is the cultural attitude.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:50 PM on August 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


Of course if you come to this from a religious angle, you probably see the two-- mother and unborn child-- as equals-- two souls in the sight of God. That is not an avenue I can explore with you because I don't believe in God.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:53 PM on August 27, 2012


Of course if you come to this from a religious angle, you probably see the two-- mother and unborn child-- as equals-- two souls in the sight of God. That is not an avenue I can explore with you because I don't believe in God.

Equal souls in the sight of God, sure. Not all religious traditions take that to mean that abortion is immoral.
posted by jeather at 5:59 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I personally wish that a lot of time and a lot of thought and a lot of effort could be put into helping women in difficult situations without having the unborn child pay the price of help with its life. I believe society as a whole could be a lot more creative so that mother and child would not have to be pitted against each other regarding the best outcome for each.

St. Alia, with all due respect (and I do mean that), I think this is where the crux of the issue really lies. As I've said before, nobody likes abortion. We could make it virtually unnecessary except in cases where there is not a viable fetus or the mother's life is endangered by social engineering an environment where there are diminishingly few motivators to abortion outside of those. Create an environment where a woman gets pregnant when she's ready to have a baby and need not fear that one more child will endanger the ones she already has, or tie her to a man she fears, or cause her to lose her source of financial support (whether that be employment, parent, partner, or other). Make it very possible to avoid unplanned pregnancies in the first place, make them less destabilizing in the second, and there go most of the abortions that happen every year.
posted by notashroom at 6:32 PM on August 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


a pregnant woman has some agency in becoming pregnant, or at least some agency in actions that have a result of pregnancy

If so, then there seems to be a judgment here that a pregnant woman has been granted agency but failed morally in its use, i.e., unless she has chosen to apply her agency to abstain from all sex and demand that her partner/boyfriend/husband/other does so as well, or to ensure that she convinces her partner (whatever his age or their relationship) to participate in the effective use of multiple redundant birth control methods every time that they engage in sex--costs and availability notwithstanding--then she is apparently willingly if not cavalierly setting into motion a chain of events that she must know leads to the birth of a person whose "right to exist" supersedes every other possible consideration, and every other right of that woman, that partner, their children, or their families to fully enjoy their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And that responsibility and blame and failure is hers alone.

It would seem that that egg that might get fertilized by that sperm that might someday become a living person has rights that are more important than those of children who might otherwise someday be born when those children are planned and wanted, with the full emotional, physical and material readiness of the parent(s)... or those children that already have been. That potential life is apparently more "valuable" than the actual lives of the people currently living on the planet, regardless of whether that potential child would immediately if not permanently be born into poverty (if not inadvertently actually creating poverty by restricting or eliminating the mother's job opportunities), or born with special needs, or born into rape or incest or domestic violence or drug dependence or middle school or resentment or abuse or illness or death.

It also seems to presume an excess of resources, goodwill, love and support for every mother and unplanned child that I do not see actually exists in our current cultural landscape. Personally, I intend to use my agency to utilize every means available to ensure that any child I might bear has the very best chances for a fulfilling life, and that I will not give birth otherwise. I will not concede that sex is only a necessary evil on the path to making babies, and that the only justified expression of my agency as a woman is to bear children. I am willing to fight hard to maintain that I should not be unusual in my privilege to deserve the chance to live according to this point of view.
posted by argonauta at 6:57 PM on August 27, 2012 [16 favorites]


Well, the fact is that sex is the mechanism by which new humans get started. No, that is NOT the only purpose for sex, not by a long shot, but any of us who have had sex know or could be expected to know that even with careful use of contraception, the possibility exists of pregnancy. I'm not saying that to be mean, or saying that babies are a punishment, not at all. It is simply a biological fact.

Where my views converge from what is arguably the majority view in this thread is that I firmly hold that unborn children have an inarguable right to exist, and that once we start arguing about what constitutes worthy life and what does not constitute worthy life, that rabbit hole is very very deep indeed. Perhaps others can be relativist about the topic. I cannot.

(in the case of something like ectopic pregnancy, in which the pregnancy cannot be continued without sacrificing the life of the mother, I concede that the mother's life must come first. But, really-those cases are not the rule, but the exception. )

We humans are very very good at looking out for ourselves. I think we are so good at it that we can figure out how to do it without doing harm to others. Even unborn others. Because the only difference between us and them is the dimension of time.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:38 PM on August 27, 2012


Isn't it the case in countries with socialized medicine, more robust women's healthcare systems, and more robust social welfare systems that allow for better support of mothers who undergo an unplanned pregnancy abortion rates are significantly lower?

I can understand the pressing need to stop abortions a pro-life activist must feel if they truly believe abortion is the murder of a real person. What holds me up is why aren't they engaging the efforts in establishing the preventative measures that have been proven to actually stop abortions?

Outlawing abortion does not decrease abortion rates. This is pretty clear from any comprehensive study done of countries that outlaw abortion. There is even indication that outlawing abortion, especially when tied to poor women's health and sex education services and lack of contraception access, may result in higher abortion rates.

However, free birth control, comprehensive sex education, comprehensive women's healthcare, and social welfare for poor mothers and children does decrease abortion rates.

So why not argue for the latter? Why stake one's energy on the former, when it is proven to not work? And why do so many advocates of the former (not all, but they are sadly few and rarely act as faces for these movements) also argue against the latter? If you truly believe abortion is murder then don't you want to take any means necessary to prevent them? And if not, why not?

Furthermore--if abortion is murder then the woman who gets one is, at the very least, an accessory to murder. She has essentially paid someone to assassinate a child, no? She is not a victim of the abortionist unless she was held down and the abortion forced on her. It is very easy to hand-wave away this issue as "Well, policies pre-Roe v. Wade took care of this so we'll do whatever they say" but this is not pre-Roe v. Wade. If you think abortion is murder then by God, I do not understand why you do not feel a moral imperative to legally prosecute someone who is acting as an accessory! If I tell someone to kill someone else, do you only prosecute the hitman and hand-wave my responsibility in it? Of course not! What makes the mother different?

I find it profoundly disturbing that anyone would come to the conclusion that in this kind of life-and-death situation they would assume this kind of hand-waving and equivocation in their own beliefs is morally acceptable. How could someone literally believe women getting abortions and abortionists are engaging in infanticide, but refuse to aggressively lobby for proven methods of reducing infanticide and prosecution of those involved in perpetuating it?

To believe millions of children are dying, but lack the strength in one's own convictions to actually punish half of the parties involve, to lack the intellectual vigor to actually do the research to see what social and government changes lead to less abortions . . . That, that I truly do not understand. You think children are dying. Where is your moral fortitude? Why the half-measures?*



*yes I watch Breaking Bad
posted by schroedinger at 7:58 PM on August 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


What holds me up is why aren't they engaging the efforts in establishing the preventative measures that have been proven to actually stop abortions?

Thank you for saying what I was thinking, but more clearly. There are evidence-based approaches that demonstrably lower abortion rates. Banning abortions is not one of those approaches. It makes my brain hurt that people who want to end abortions push for the wrong approach, one that hurts women and children, rather than the approaches that actually work.

At a personal level, when I read people talking casually and even positively about women dying, I see red. Unsurprisingly, no one has ever said that to my face; if they did they'd get an ass kicking like never before. There are things that are beyond the pale, and that is one of them.
posted by Forktine at 9:03 PM on August 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


For some anti-abortion folks, as Jahaza laid out way up near the top, those preventive measures are also immoral. Education and access to contraception are the moral equivalent of stopping a genocide by dropping a nuke. To quote: My point is that pro-lifers who believe using contraception is wrong aren't inconsistent because they don't advocate for some lesser evil to prevent a greater one. Many moral systems don't allow you to do something evil even to prevent a greater evil. Hence the example I gave.

I don't know how minority a viewpoint is. Given the abysmal state of sex education in this country, and the very recent fights in Congress about birth control being covered under the ACA, it's feeling not very minority at all.
posted by rtha at 9:20 PM on August 27, 2012


That still doesn't mean things like women's health and social welfare for poor mothers and children are out though, right? Better maternity and paternity leave, better laws against pregnancy discrimination? Pregnancy does not only have physical and emotional consequences, it has financial and social consequences as well. De-stigmatizing single mothers and offering better support for pregnant women and an easier transition back into school and the workforce would go a long ways towards making pregnancy a more viable option, no?

The "Well, if you didn't want a baby you wouldn't have sex" thing only goes so far unless you're willing to wallow in hypocrisy. I would guess for the vast majority of pro-lifers they do not really want to implement "No contraception, not even condoms. No sex outside of procreational purposes," which is the endgame of the Don't Have Funsex argument. But from the different arguments I have seen made in this thread for the pro-life position, I would guess many have not actually sorted out exactly what their beliefs are in terms of establishing what they feel is and is not acceptable vis-a-vis preventing abortions and implementing social policy, or at least not sorted it out enough to make their positions logically consistent within their own moral architecture and personal lifestyle. It goes to "No abortions" and stops there, rather than going through the process of developing successful long-term strategies for making that happen.
posted by schroedinger at 9:40 PM on August 27, 2012


I firmly hold that unborn children have an inarguable right to exist

AND. THAT. WOMEN. HAVE. LESS RIGHTS.

You do not get one without the other. Neither side gets to ignore the rights that MUST be denied in order for the alternative right to exist.

Women with networks of relationships, a full life history, the inestment of years of social support, a wide range of thoughts and feelings: their rights MUST be held less than those of an incompletely-developed human that has no relationships beyond parasitical, has no life history, no known thoughts or feelings, and a good chance of miscarrying — in order for you to demand that unborn children be granted an "inarguable" right to exist.

Now excuse me, I need to take a shower.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:28 PM on August 27, 2012 [14 favorites]


This line from Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen's Embryo: A Defense of Human Life has stuck in my head: "The Utilitarian thus cannot believe (except as a convenient fiction) in human rights, or in actions [killing] that may never be done to people [blastocysts, zygotes, fetuses etc] regardless of the consequences [my emphasis]."

ie, real-world effects like how making abortion illegal leads to the same or increased abortion rates as places where it is legal, only with the bonus of more lower-income women becoming infertile, dying, etc ...all that doesn't matter. Because what really matters is upholding their abstract, usually theologically mandated principle. Even though it consistently, demonstrably results in outcomes contrary to their stated objectives. The sacredness of the principle trumps all. IIRC, St Alia has stated precisely this in a previous thread. Me, I'm a pragmatist. My idea of "compassion" and "respect" for the sacredness of all human life prioritizes giving born people the best chance possible of having good quality of life. The two positions are irreconcilable.

In a previous thread, BrotherCaine contributed an apropos quote from Naomi Klein:
...people fall in love with what seems to be a perfect theory, a set of rules, and they love those rules more than they love people or places. In fact they begin to see the messy reality of life as interfering with the beauty, the imagined beauty, that exists only in their text, only in the sacred texts, whether they’re economic texts, or religious texts, or some dream of racial purity . . . "
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:51 PM on August 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


five fresh fish: AND. THAT. WOMEN. HAVE. LESS RIGHTS.

Further: that women have less rights because they are sinful and wicked for having had sex.
posted by Malor at 3:53 AM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and:

Forktine: It makes my brain hurt that people who want to end abortions push for the wrong approach, one that hurts women and children, rather than the approaches that actually work.

The reason we keep having these arguments, over and over, is because stopping abortions isn't the goal. Stopping sex is the goal. If you provide a solution that demonstrably reduces abortions to the minimum possible, but can be construed in any way whatsoever as being sex-positive, then it will not be acceptable.

The conservatives are not fighting for what they claim to fight for. They keep screaming about the rights of the unborn, but that's a smokescreen, even to themselves. The real problem is extramarital sex, and punishing the sluts is their only acceptable response, no matter how many unborn children that will kill.

In other words, to stop sex, they're willing to kill the fetuses they claim to so desperately want to protect.

It's not even ironic, it's flatly counterproductive, and the reason it's counterproductive is because they don't actually want what they claim to want. And that's why the argument is never settled.
posted by Malor at 3:59 AM on August 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


Funny, but nobody's even touched on the racist aspects of the anti-choice arguments.

(That is, white people telling minority women how dare they have recreational sex and demanding that they carry the child to term with no social safety net.)
posted by eoden at 6:13 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Funny, but nobody's even touched on the racist aspects of the anti-choice arguments.

Here's a photo of one of the major "anti-choice" intellectuals of the 2nd half of the twentieth century, Richard John Neuhaus.
posted by Jahaza at 6:41 AM on August 28, 2012


So does that mean racism doesn't exist in the argument then? I don't think so.

For the record, I am also eoden -- I switched back to my original account. Not a sock puppet.
posted by grubi at 6:55 AM on August 28, 2012


"Funny, but nobody's even touched on the racist aspects of the anti-choice arguments."

Abortion rights did also have very real and very unfortunate connections to the Eugenics movement and the worst kinds of eliminationalist racism and classism that didn't really go away until the great state Eugenics projects were stopped and battle lines of all of this were fundamentally redrawn in the 70s.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:59 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


*sigh*

Never fucking mind.
posted by grubi at 8:31 AM on August 28, 2012


Abortion rights did also have very real and very unfortunate connections to the Eugenics movement and the worst kinds of eliminationalist racism and classism that didn't really go away until the great state Eugenics projects were stopped and battle lines of all of this were fundamentally redrawn in the 70s.

The political fault lines around abortion didn't really form until years after Roe v. Wade. White evangelicalism as a force for political activism didn't really take form in the modern sense until the rise of opposition to the court case Green v. Connally:
One of the schools in the crosshairs was Bob Jones University, [a] fundamentalist school in Greenville, S.C., which until 1971 did not admit African Americans to the student body, [and] until 1975, out of fears of racial mixing, did not admit unmarried African Americans to the student body.

The IRS came after Bob Jones University, along with other schools ... and after years of warning, finally on Jan. 19, 1976 rescinded the tax exemption of Bob Jones University.

That was the catalyst. That was the trigger for evangelical ministers and others to come together as a political movement in order to try to resist the Bob Jones ruling. ...
Before that, the religious right wasn't a "political force" as we know it today. The anti-abortion movement, made up of Catholics and anti-poverty activists before this point, got taken over by white evangelicals who came at the issue from a completely different standpoint.
posted by deanc at 9:28 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Women with networks of relationships, a full life history, the inestment of years of social support, a wide range of thoughts and feelings: their rights MUST be held less than those of an incompletely-developed human that has no relationships beyond parasitical, has no life history, no known thoughts or feelings, and a good chance of miscarrying — in order for you to demand that unborn children be granted an "inarguable" right to exist.

I have been thinking about your comment all day. What I'm boiling it down to is that in your view some lives are more important than others. In my view all lives have equal importance.

I don't like how your line of thought has played out in human history. Do you?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:48 PM on August 28, 2012


YUP
posted by Greg Nog at 12:54 PM on August 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


No, St. Alia, in your view, the fetus takes precedence, regardless of the wishes of the mother. That is not "equal".
posted by Malor at 1:00 PM on August 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


In my view all lives have equal importance.

Great, we need more ethical vegans and hardcore socialists around here.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:06 PM on August 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


What I'm boiling it down to is that in your view some lives are more important than others. In my view all lives have equal importance.

The problem is that you consider it a life. I'm not ready to grant a fertilized egg equal importance to *me.* One of these things is not like the other.
posted by ambrosia at 1:08 PM on August 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


We have all been fertilized eggs. I don't think personhood is a status one earns.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:30 PM on August 28, 2012


You don't get personhood just by being a fertilized egg, though. That's nonsense.
posted by grubi at 1:41 PM on August 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


She's Just an Easy-Bake Oven: How the GOP and the Anti-Choice Movement See Women
The good news about the Rep. Todd Akin situation is that it genuinely seems to have raised the public’s awareness of how much the anti-choice movement is rooted not in some love of fetal life, but in a profound misogyny that focuses heavily on fear of female sexuality. Akin’s ready assumption that women frequently lie about rape to cover up their sexual adventures was a perfect example of the demonized view of female sexual liberty driving the anti-choice movement, one that has very little relation to how women actually act in the world. But the exposure of the ugly, misogynist heart of the anti-choice movement might come at a price: Other dehumanizing, ugly attitudes towards women expressed by anti-choicers might seem more moderate by comparison.
posted by Malor at 2:18 PM on August 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


"You don't get personhood just by being a fertilized egg, though. That's nonsense."

You say this like its axiomatic, but in your view where does pershonhood come from? or rather to be more specific at what point do you consider yourself to have become a person?
posted by Blasdelb at 2:25 PM on August 28, 2012


When I was born.
posted by grubi at 2:30 PM on August 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think personhood develops early in life as our minds develop, but it makes the most sense to use birth from a societal/legal standpoint, since that's a bright shining line. We can have all kinds of horrifying discussions over a person's mind, but birth makes a pretty good line of demarcation.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:30 PM on August 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have been thinking about your comment all day. What I'm boiling it down to is that in your view some lives are more important than others. In my view all lives have equal importance.

So, I ask you, in all honesty: if you think that a pregnant woman should be legally obliged to let her children use her womb, whether she wants them to or not, because they would otherwise die, do you think parents should also be legally obliged to let their children use their kidneys if the child would otherwise die? If not, what is the difference?
posted by jeather at 3:46 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I'm boiling it down to is that in your view some lives are more important than others. In my view all lives have equal importance.

So then do you think a pregnant woman who hires a doctor to kill her fetus should be charged with murder, the same as someone who hires a hitman? If not, why not? They're both intentionally taking lives that you feel are equally important. You've said that you believe abortion is murder, so what do you think should be the consequences for the "murderer"? (No, not the doctor who executes the deed, but the person who asks and pays him to.)

I could respect people who honestly, truly believe they're crusading against mass murder (although obviously I disagree.) But I don't see how someone can really think abortion is murder and zygotes are equally important as born humans, without also thinking that women shouldn't be held just as culpable for it and be jailed for just as long as if they killed their baby after it was born. Yet it seems few people do. Do you think I'm missing something?
posted by EmilyClimbs at 3:51 PM on August 28, 2012


Announced today:
The Family Research Council, National Organization for Marriage, The Family Leader, Concerned Women for America, American Principles Project, the Susan B. Anthony List and Common Sense Issues have joined the “Life and Marriage Coalition,” which FRC head Tony Perkins said is needed to defeat Obama’s “anti-marriage and anti-life policies.... This is a historic coming together of premiere social conservative groups to coordinate efforts in three swing states [Ohio, North Carolina and Iowa] most likely to determine the outcome of this fall’s presidential election.”

The coalition also said its efforts this year are just the beginning. “Our coalition members are determined to defend American values on marriage and life for the long haul," said Davis. “The 2012 election is critical, but it is also important to lengthen the horizon to make sure that we have marriage and life champions running in critical races over the next several election cycles. We’re beginning to talk to prospective candidates now.”

posted by argonauta at 3:58 PM on August 28, 2012


So, I ask you, in all honesty: if you think that a pregnant woman should be legally obliged to let her children use her womb, whether she wants them to or not, because they would otherwise die, do you think parents should also be legally obliged to let their children use their kidneys if the child would otherwise die? If not, what is the difference?

One requires external intervention and the other does not.
posted by Jahaza at 4:00 PM on August 28, 2012


But I don't see how someone can really think abortion is murder and zygotes are equally important as born humans, without also thinking that women shouldn't be held just as culpable for it and be jailed for just as long as if they killed their baby after it was born. Yet it seems few people do. Do you think I'm missing something?

Have you read the comments?

Do you support equal punishments for all currently illegal forms of homicide? Do you think the leader of a racial genocide deserves the same punishment as someone who accidentally kills another person?
posted by Jahaza at 4:03 PM on August 28, 2012


Do you support equal punishments for all currently illegal forms of homicide?

If you google something like "woman sentenced killed child" you will turn up all kinds of awful stories about women who killed their little kids/babies and got long, long sentences. Many of them were charged with not-first-degree-murder, but with a lesser charge, and with mitigating circumstances sometimes stipulated. They still serve sentences of multiple decades.

So really, you don't have to hand-wave "oh different kinds of punishment for different degrees of homicide" since we know what happens right now.

So I guess if you support abortion being criminalized, and some women are going to at least occasionally be compos mentis enough to be considered somewhat responsible, we can all look forward to women being sentenced to many many years in prison for having or attempting to have abortions. Yay!
posted by rtha at 4:13 PM on August 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


You know when I said that this wasn't war on women, that it wasn't disrespectful of women, that there was no hate of women, that it was more a matter of why should taxpayers pay for the cost of abortions AND contraceptive I didn't think I had to explain that for many people it is a matter of right and wrong. Some people feel that it is murder. You know that. And again, thinking it is murder is not making war on women, nor is it any sort of hate towards women. It is merely wanting to outlaw what they feel is murder.

Now I am all for fighting against laws that try to limit access to abortions. However making silly claims that women are being persecuted is not the way to do it. It is nothing but bullshit politics.
posted by 2manyusernames at 4:27 PM on August 28, 2012


Jahaza: which requires external intervention and which does not?
posted by hoople at 5:12 PM on August 28, 2012


nor is it any sort of hate towards women. It is merely wanting to outlaw what they feel is murder.

Which has the mere effect, purely unintentional, but empirically demonstrable, of the same or increased abortion rates as countries with legal abortion; plus, higher rates of reproductive-age women's bodies being policed, monitored, legislated; plus, higher mortality / butchery / infertility rates for lower-income women and girls.

You do not consider that your view deliberately targets women and girls. The sanctity of our lives is merely of lower priority in views such as this, such lower priority in fact as to have dropped out of sight as mere collateral damage. In pursuit of an ideal that results in real-world consequences 180 degrees opposite its intent.

If you can't figure out why the effects of being deliberately targeted, vs being erased out of the equation altogether, amount to the same amount of concrete damage inflicted on women and girls...having gained NO reduction in abortion rates, more children in families struggling under worse financial straits than before, and a lot more infertile, dying, and dead girls and women...then you may find it helpful to exercise your empathy muscle and try to think about this complex issue from the perspective of the collateral damage.

Women's and children's quality of life sacrificed for no concrete gain but mere lip service to a principle whose execution (making abortion illegal) embodies its own destruction (same or increased abortion rates compared to countries where abortion is legal). Hatred may not be your intent, but considering the effects, it might as well be.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:25 PM on August 28, 2012 [12 favorites]


The Crisis Project: birth control kills the baby?
posted by homunculus at 5:37 PM on August 28, 2012


While we are talking women and children's quality of life here, let me mention that men are the ones who get women pregnant and I would really really REALLY like men in general to realize that what for them is an entertaining hour can be and sometimes is extremely lifechanging to the woman. I know that many men DO understand this fact but too, too, too many do NOT.


I would also like to remind all that at least half-and worldwide quantitatively more-victims of abortion are female babies. THAT is a war on women, indeed.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:30 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aaargh, I meant "lives and quality of life sacrificed," of course.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:30 PM on August 28, 2012


"I would also like to remind all that at least half-and worldwide quantitatively more-victims of abortion are female babies. THAT is a war on women, indeed."

It is indeed more than half
posted by Blasdelb at 6:44 PM on August 28, 2012


Do you support equal punishments for all currently illegal forms of homicide? Do you think the leader of a racial genocide deserves the same punishment as someone who accidentally kills another person?

Why not charge her as an accessory then? Or charge her similar to those who hire hitmen? What makes a woman who hires an abortionist different from a person who hires a hitman? Actually, the woman hiring an abortionist seems worse, given that it's a baby and all. As I asked in my prior comment--do you believe people who hire hitmen should be prosecuted? People who are accessories to murder should be prosecuted? And if you do, then what makes pregnant women different?
posted by schroedinger at 6:58 PM on August 28, 2012


I would also like to remind all that at least half-and worldwide quantitatively more-victims of abortion are female babies. THAT is a war on women, indeed.

I would say rather that they are the victims of intensely patriarchal societies, in which their gender is such a liability (or seen as such) to their families that abortion at such a late stage is preferable. Those numbers are a symptom of a much broader and more systemic attack on women in society. Those abortions are often illegal, if not for the act itself, then for the intent. I don't see that line of reasoning as arguing against the need for access to abortion as a pro-woman move.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:15 PM on August 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


"So, I ask you, in all honesty: if you think that a pregnant woman should be legally obliged to let her children use her womb, whether she wants them to or not, because they would otherwise die, do you think parents should also be legally obliged to let their children use their kidneys if the child would otherwise die? If not, what is the difference?"

There very much is a non-intuitive ethical difference between a result happening because of inaction a result happening because of intervention.

Lets say you are a doctor in a hospital and you have five patients in your ward who were victims of a terrible trolley car accident and each are in dire need of a different organ. They all have the same rare serotype and will die soon without a transplant that will never come through normal channels. Suddenly you notice a healthy bystander taking a nap in your waiting room who you know to have the same rare serotype, would it be wrong to quietly sneak up to them, bap them on the head, and harvest their organs for your patients? Would it be wrong not to?

If you decide to leave the unfortunately fortunate bystander alone to their nap, your inaction kills your five patients, while deciding to murder the bystander isn't so appealing either.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:15 PM on August 28, 2012


I'm late here (and didn't read past the first hundred or so comments) but when I read stories such as those in the FPP I feel compelled bear witness to abortion in three generations of my family. Make of it what you will -

My paternal grandmother had an abortion in a doctor's office in the 1920s. It wasn't really a big deal, as she told me. Her family was middle class, living in Berkeley, CA, freethinking tho religious, and all she had to do was find a doctor via one of her friends at the university, take the ferry over to San Francisco, and see the doctor. The abortion took place in a doctor's office. Something she said made me think it cost a good deal of money.

My mother, while a student at the same university in the 1960s, had a tough time finding anyone to help her. She was scared to ask around. Eventually, via a classmate, she found a woman who came to her flat and stuck a medicated rag into the opening to her cervix. She was told to walk a mile every day until the treatment took effect. I think it was expensive. She remembers being terrified (as does my father).

My abortion in California in the 1980s was legal. I went to a clinic and tho I was a teenager, it was affordable.

That is my family's experience, for what it's worth. Oh - I never heard a word of regret from my grandmother, haven't heard one yet from my mother, and I continue to be very glad I made that choice.
posted by goofyfoot at 7:29 PM on August 28, 2012 [9 favorites]


You say this like its axiomatic

Yeah, it's weird how he just believes something and expects everyone to take it as fact! What would be even weirder is if he just believed something and then decided that gave him the right to force women to be pregnant and bear children against their will. That would be pretty severely fucked up, because women deserve the right to control their own bodies.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:10 PM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wish I could edit! Just called my mother to clarify. My mother did NOT have to walk a mile every day. That was her own mother, told to do so because the doctor would be out of town on the occasion of the birth of her first child in 1939, so she better give birth quick (my mother was forcibly birthed, with forceps, at eight months). At the time of her abortion, my mother worked at St Francis hospital in San Francisco and asked the head nurse to help her when she thought something had gone wrong with the abortion performed on her. She couldn't stop bleeding. The head nurse led her to a Saint Francis Hospital doctor who helped my mother through the aftermath.
posted by goofyfoot at 8:27 PM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


The sharing of these stories is, I think, the best way to ensure that safe medical abortions are the norm, not the exception.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:37 PM on August 28, 2012


"having gained NO reduction in abortion rates"

Again, the available data cannot be responsibly manipulated to convincingly support a statement anywhere near this strong. I just did some hunting through the published literature that generated the press kit that generated the news reports that have been cited here and I'll try to summarize what I found.

The primary methodology used is the Abortion Incidence Complications Method (AICM), which is pretty well designed for that task of measuring incidence of induced abortion in regions where it is illegal. The idea is to measure two variables, the incidence of complications that lead to hospitalization and the estimated percentage of abortions that lead to hospitalizations, and thus calculate the total number of clandestinely induced abortions Fermi style.

The data used for the press kit to calculate the number of women who receive facility-based treatment for induced abortion complications was obtained in different ways, depending on the country. For the most part it came from one of two sources: official health statistics, where these are functional; or, where official data are shitty or non-existent, a country-specific Health Facilities Survey (HFS), which includes their best shot at a nationally representative sample of all health facilities that provide post-abortion care. They then calculated the proportion of all women having abortions who receive facility-based treatment for complications using a Health Professionals Survey (HPS), which was conducted among experts who would be knowledgeable about abortion provision in the study country and who could best estimate the proportion of women who develop complications and the proportion who receive treatment for them. These proportions were the basis for calculating what was essentially a multiplier, or inflation factor, that was applied to the number of women treated in health facilities for induced abortion complications to yield the total number of induced abortions.

This seems like as good a method as we'll ever have for measuring clandestinely induced abortions but there is no way to calculate its margin of error and no good way to asses whether it has either a general bias or region specific biases. Additionally the methodology relies on health professionals to, in essence, estimate the percentage of women they don't see, which can't be that great. For example, I just called up an ER nurse friend (I needed to catch up with him anyway) and asked him to estimate the number of motorcyclists in his city from his professional experience as well as the incidence of crashes producing serious injury per 1000 miles traveled on a motorcycle in the US having been given the correct numbers for pedestrians and motorists. He over estimated both values by over an order of magnitude, whoops. (Incidentally, I think this effect is pretty fascinating and I will call up two more to see if it is replicable tomorrow at a more decent hour)

Really, the available data can demonstrate a bunch of really interesting things, like the apparent fact that GDP, access to contraception, access to maternity leave, universal health care, and particularly Soviet/FSU sexual mores do have big and clear effects on the prevalence of induced abortion that legalization does not. However, it is no where near the kind of quality necessary to support negative statements that there is no effect much less ones framed so absolutely.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:58 PM on August 28, 2012


Relatedly, from The Atlantic: The Quiet Racism of Abortion Bans.
As national Republicans in Tampa consider adding have added a ban on abortions as an official plank in their party platform -- a proposal whose draft language is so severe, it doesn't make exceptions for cases of rape or incest -- liberal commentators have grown accustomed to speaking of the right's strict stance on reproductive issues as a war on women. But it might be more accurate to say that it's really an attack on women of a specific stripe: those from disadvantaged minorities and the poor.
posted by jokeefe at 9:43 PM on August 28, 2012


particularly Soviet/FSU sexual mores

What does this mean?
posted by jokeefe at 9:44 PM on August 28, 2012


I think people might be surprised if they took their great-aunts out for a beer or tea and asked, quietly, about "stopping birth."
posted by goofyfoot at 10:47 PM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


"What does this mean?"

If you were in my living room I'd hand you a small stack of old books but I'm not finding many good sources that are English language, internet based, and free access. I did just find this fascinating old Times article from '89 though. There are reasons why the calculated rates in the Former Soviet Union (FSB) in 1995 were way more than twice that of any other region.

The Soviet Union had its own independent sexual revolution in the 1920s that was fundamentally different from the one that happened forty years later in the West, that incidentally legalized abortion as early as October of 1920, but was soon followed by a dramatically conservative pendulum swing in the opposite direction under Stalin. This created an odd situation where casual sex was a de-facto cultural norm and expected but contraception was not discussed, access was severely limited, and use was strongly frowned upon. This inevitably resulted in extraordinarily high abortion rates as induced abortion was free, discrete, accessible, and did not require responsibility of any kind from male partners. It is unclear how much of an effect Stalin later criminalizing induced abortion in 1936 (in order to boost population growth) had on the prevalence of abortion as there were no reliable statistics kept before or after, but demand remained inelastic and rates of illegal abortion were still extraordinarily high. Rights to free legal abortion were returned in 1955 with the death of Stalin and the total was said to have gone up further - though again with nothing like reliable records to strongly confirm or deny this - as the factors trapping Soviet women in these dynamics continued to not change. Women who had more than a dozen abortions in their lifetime were not uncommon, hell, I once had four neighbors who each got out back in the day and who figured out that between them they had had 18 induced abortions before coming to the states.

Today, the Guttmacher Institute's map shows the rate of induced abortion dropping by half in the Former Soviet Union between 1995 and 2008. My understanding is that the abortion debate in Russia is mirroring the one in the United States more and more, though with a nationalists demographically desperate for babies twist, as the government has placed progressively stronger restrictions on the procedure.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:16 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, yes. The "Sacred Duty: Motherhood" spin. The state/authority needs babies for worker bees or cannon fodder or followers, so women must subjugate their own desires to supply them. We've seen this in wandering tribes in the desert, in the Third Reich, in sects. Let us kill this at the root: no matter the demographics of individual tribes or countries, the planet is not in dire need of more humans. We are not an endangered species. The text which some would seem to be using as a touchstone did not read "go forth and multiply until you overrun the planet, use up all its resources, kill all other species and bring about catastrophic systemic collapse". Perhaps the belief is that this is man's way of helping the deity to achieve Armageddon. This is not in the purview. How about we work at being good stewards as instructed instead and let the deity accomplish that if and when?

Good. Now, feminism. Or rather, equality. If you believe that woman are and should be equal to men, there is no escape from allowing women control of their own bodies. Without good sex education, access to affordable birth control and safe, legal abortion, women are reduced to the state of their uterus. Women are not equal if a zygote trumps their agency. They are then again only valued for fuckability and fertility. You must face the fact that you are imposing your will and beliefs on fellow human beings. You must face the fact that you do not believe in equality or feminism, you believe that the most important fact about a woman, that which will allow her to have her own opinions, make her own decisions, feel and think and act as a fellow human being rather than an incubator is: the state of her uterus. Face it.
posted by likeso at 3:18 AM on August 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


Against my better judgement, I'm back....

Something resurrexit said has struck me:

I meant subject only to your will, as in, you can make up your mind to have power over the life of another. That is pretty much not acceptable ever in human society.

Except, in the case of self-defense. The laws allow for such a thing as justifiable homicide, where if the other person is trying to kill you, and you kill them in the course of defending yourself, you cannot be held to the same standards as murder. That's a case in which you having power over the life of another is acceptable in human society.

And in many cases of abortion, that is precisely what is going on.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:11 AM on August 29, 2012


I would like to share my own grandmother's abortion story because it highlights two things: first, even minister's wives got abortions in the 50's and second, she is an example of how middle class white women didn't need to resort to back allies when they had the right connections.

My grandfather was a Methodist minister who developed inoperable brain cancer. He and my grandmother had 6 children and at some point during his cancer battle, when it was clear he would not survive, she got pregnant again. A family friend who was a doctor took pity on her. She was about to lose her husband and had to figure out how she was going to feed 6 children much less try to do it while pregnant so he offered to give her a "therapeutic" D & C in his office. She had no complications.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:05 AM on August 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


she is an example of how middle class white women didn't need to resort to back allies when they had the right connections.

Which is part of my assertion that anti-choice has inherently racist connotations. Abortions will still occur, and at all social strata, no less. But the well-off white people will be luckier than the poorer minorities. (Of course there are exceptions, but you understand my point.)
posted by grubi at 6:11 AM on August 29, 2012


resurrexit: "(Also, I feel that you in particular have been deliberately unwilling to construe favorably anything I've said in responding to multiple comments all at the same time. Focus on the argument you know I'm making and not the argument you hope I'm making so you can more easily refute it.)"

You want women to die because you value the lives of not-yet-living blobs of organic matter housed in other people's bodies more than you value the bodies containing those blobs. Considering this position that you hold, the women in this thread have been remarkably polite towards you.

Seriously, the obsession of some people with the unborn never ceases to amaze me.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:33 AM on August 29, 2012 [20 favorites]


You want women to die because you value the lives of not-yet-living blobs of organic matter housed in other people's bodies more than you value the bodies containing those blobs.

Worth repeating.
posted by jokeefe at 11:57 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, to be fair, he probably doesn't want women to die. However, should we do what he wants, women will die, in great numbers. I assume he rationalizes this as collateral damage or something; if it was avoidable, he'd rather they lived, but since it isn't, well, fuck 'em.
posted by Malor at 1:08 PM on August 29, 2012


Oh, and notice again, the hidden message in the conservative viewpoint:

You mean REMAIN pregnant. Few women are forced to be pregnant; and in that case, the person who might deserve to die is the "forcer," not the fetal human.

In other words, it's her fault. She is to blame. She participated in sex, and now she's pregnant, and she must bear the natural consequences of that action. The slut deserves everything she gets. It's okay to enslave her for nine months, and possibly kill her, because she's sinful and wrong to have done what she did.

That's what 'natural consequences', in all its various forms, means -- that women brought it on themselves. And note that it's always, always women who are to blame. Men can skate, but a pregnant woman is chattel.

If you're female, and you vote for this... I dunno. It seems defiantly stupid to vote yourself into second-class citizenhood.
posted by Malor at 1:14 PM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


By according personhood to zygotes, he strips it from us.
posted by likeso at 1:14 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, likeso, when did you become a person? What is the precise moment you became someone whose life deserves respect? When does human life have value?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:33 PM on August 29, 2012


1. When I was born.
2. When I was born.
3. When it is viable outside the womb. Or perhaps, as someone mentioned long ago above, when the brain has begun to form and brain activity can be registered. Not in the first trimester.
posted by likeso at 3:36 PM on August 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


when i was no longer inside my mother. until then i was as much her as i was myself. even if we back it up 4 months or so from then, nearly all late term abortions are medically necessary procedures - heartbreaking choices of people who desperately want a child. as all semi-sane anti-choice propositions include language that protects the mother's life (or allows for abortion in non-viable pregnancies) - what this argument is really about is first (and early second) trimester fetuses. that puts a lot of them squarely before the quickening, which is one standard for "when does life begin."
posted by nadawi at 3:43 PM on August 29, 2012


I don't believe in the concept of the soul, but if I did, I'd be inclined to put ensoulment at a baby's first laugh. Just as valid as putting ensoulment at conception, and just as relevant to public policy.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:47 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, likeso, when did you become a person? What is the precise moment you became someone whose life deserves respect? When does human life have value?

So, St. Alia, if you'd somehow developed consciousness in the womb, I take it you'd have been perfectly okay with forcing your mother to carry you to term?

I don't mean any mother. I mean your mother. Would you have been okay with putting clamps on her wrists to prevent her from aborting you, if that's what she'd decided?

If so, I think that's appallingly selfish. I'm glad my mother was willing to go through all that pain to bring me into the world, but she wasn't required to, and if she'd decided to abort me, that'd be just fine with me, though of course I wouldn't be here to express that opinion. "I" didn't yet exist, just a little lizardlike blob, and that blob was a guest. If it had been an unwelcome guest, so be it.

She was not a slut, she did not need punishment, she simply had a decision to make. I'm glad she made the one she did, but the person I grew into would have totally supported whatever decision she arrived at. It was, after all, her body, and nobody but her had any right to tell her what to do with it.

If you wouldn't support your mother that way, I'd question whether you really love her that much. You certainly would be showing no trust in her judgement.
posted by Malor at 4:11 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


And if you WOULD support your mother that way, on what freaking basis do you refuse to trust other mothers? They're just as wise and caring as your mom. Maybe better.
posted by Malor at 4:12 PM on August 29, 2012


So, St. Alia, if you'd somehow developed consciousness in the womb, I take it you'd have been perfectly okay with forcing your mother to carry you to term?

I don't mean any mother. I mean your mother. Would you have been okay with putting clamps on her wrists to prevent her from aborting you, if that's what she'd decided?


Just as much as I would have been okay with someone forcibly preventing her or someone else from stabbing me right after I was born.


This isn't academic for me. I was a prewedding pregnancy.

And, btw, having been pregnant three times myself, and having felt my babies each move quite early on....and having a husband who was born two months premature...saying that birth conveys personhood is a load of baloney. It only means a change of location.


I don't like how people on this thread seem to insist that a woman who gets pregnant after sex is being punished. I think that most women choose to have sex most of the time. I think that most women understood that sometimes a sperm meets an egg. I think that most women understand that contraception sometimes fails even if used, pardon the expression, religiously.

I think sex is fantastic. But I think sex is not treated as the serious thing that it is. Because having the superpower of creating another human is a really, really serious thing. With great power comes great responsibility.

Having said that, I do know, having had the experience of involuntary sex myself, that not every act is consented to, and sometimes conception occurs when that happens. I never said it was fair. I am only saying that to say that life is not worthy of respect is a pretty complicated view to hold, because once you say that, you can extrapolate from that, and once you start doing that, then it cheapens all human life.

No one is requiring anyone to agree with me on this, but it is what I believe with every fiber of my being. To characterize that as hating women, or wanting to control women, is a false characterization. It is the acknowledgement of biological fact, a fact that doesn't give a rat's hind end whether or not it is politically correct or not. That fact being, the way we get new people is through sex, and that unless you get your tubes tied or your uterus removed or unless you only have sex with infertile people, conception is a possibility. The fact being, women are the ones who carry the next generation. The fact that no matter how casually society treats coupling, at the very least biologically if for no other reason sex is not a casual thing.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:37 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fact that no matter how casually society treats coupling, at the very least biologically if for no other reason sex is not a casual thing.

In other words, you are punishing sluts. You are hiding behind the mystical life voodoo bullshit, but it's a lie. Just like the other conservatives, your REAL drive is to make sure sex has terrible consequences, so that people don't engage in it.

Sex IS a casual thing in the modern world. And you want to make it not the modern world anymore.
posted by Malor at 5:04 PM on August 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


I am only saying that to say that life is not worthy of respect

I think a lot of us feel that the life that is often disrespected is that of the woman. She is not theoretically, philosophically, potentially, or metaphorically a person. She is an actual person. And her existence is often erased, ignored, or hand-waved away. When Akin talked about abortion in the case of rape, he talked about the rapist and the fetus. He didn't mention the woman.
posted by rtha at 5:06 PM on August 29, 2012 [16 favorites]


"And, btw, having been pregnant three times myself, and having felt my babies each move quite early on....and having a husband who was born two months premature...saying that birth conveys personhood is a load of baloney. It only means a change of location."

Why is that baloney? Please explain without resorting to religion.

"Because having the superpower of creating another human is a really, really serious thing. With great power comes great responsibility. "

Yup, including the responsibility to have an abortion if having a baby isn't right for you.

"I am only saying that to say that life is not worthy of respect is a pretty complicated view to hold, because once you say that, you can extrapolate from that, and once you start doing that, then it cheapens all human life."

I didn't know you were a vegan!

Oh, you meant human life. What distinguishes human life from all other life, again without resorting to religion?

Look, basically, you draw some arbitrary lines and back them up with, God love ya, a bunch of mumbo jumbo. I recognize and respect that this is a deeply held moral belief for you, but it's not an argument and it's terrible to argue public policy based on a set of irrational premises that not everyone agrees with.

If someone doesn't believe in a soul, and does believe that humanity only vests upon birth, why shouldn't they have just as much right to their beliefs as you do?

There is absolutely no fair, reasonable or equitable solution that doesn't involve you letting other people make their own decisions because you really don't have anything but an emotional appeal.
posted by klangklangston at 5:53 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Blasdelb: However, it is no where near the kind of quality necessary to support negative statements that there is no effect much less ones framed so absolutely.

I'd hate to spout opinions based on inaccurate or incomplete info, so I will consider your input more closely when I have more time. Thank you for contributing it.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:13 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, we all eat, but I see that here on metafilter a lot of people have no problem calling some people fat, either.


I never called anyone a slut, klangklangston. There is nothing remotely slutty about pregnancy.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:16 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The twenty-five percent mortality rate in the first trimester is incontrovertible proof that the womb is an extremely dangerous place.

If these are valuable human lives, we should be taking extreme measures to save them. These poor people desperately need our help! They are being massacred by their mothers!

Come to think of it, when you add up the numbers, it is very likely that more people are killed by their mothers than die by any other means. Most women aren't fit to be mothers!

This is why we need to teach abstinance. It's just too dangerous to let women have access to sperm. Hell, this is why we need gay marriage!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:12 PM on August 29, 2012


Do we have to pass laws that prevent women from accessing medical abortions?

How is a law that drives the procedure into the septic underworld better than not having any laws for or against?

Like the decision to have children, leave the decision to not have children out of the law.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:27 PM on August 29, 2012


I'm absolutely fine with saying that the personhood of the fetus depends on the attitude of the woman containing it. If it's a person to her, it's a person. If it's not, it's not. If someone else harms it against her will, it's a crime. If she chooses to abort it with whatever medical support is available to her, it's fine.

Pregnancy is sui generis. It's its own thing. It's not a slippery slope. You can't extrapolate from it because it's not like other things. It's unique.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:30 PM on August 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't like how people on this thread seem to insist that a woman who gets pregnant after sex is being punished.

Because often pregnancy is a hostile and dangerous time for women. Because women do die and suffer serious medical complications from pregnancy and from giving birth. Because many of us, especially Americans, live in societies in which pregnancy is not a protected or cherished state. Do you seriously not think there are punishments for a fifteen year-old who is pregnant? That there are no starving children or starving mothers? I don't care how someone who wants an abortion gets pregnant. Maybe it's killing her. Maybe she already has three kids and can't work if she's pregnant and can't feed four. Maybe it was an accident, even if they're using multiple, responsible forms of protection. Maybe she's fifteen. Maybe there are a thousand different scenarios and lives I can't even imagine to fill in the blanks there. But I don't know their lives. I don't have to.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:36 PM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


"I never called anyone a slut, klangklangston. There is nothing remotely slutty about pregnancy."

???

Please answer the actual comment I made rather than attributing other people's comments to me.
posted by klangklangston at 7:40 PM on August 29, 2012


I think the underlying motivation in many cases isn't punishing sluts, as you folks say, or really even punishment at all (even if that's the end result, from one perspective).

That is to say: I think that, in short, in many ways for most of history the major theologically-driven moral traditions have more-or-less gotten what's been revealed to be a free ride in terms of how much justification they require and in how little they ask of their members, because at least way back in ye olden days, for very many moral dilemmas the theologically-driven moral traditions would arrive at largely the same decisions as would be arrived at by someone employing pragmatic utilitarianism with some communitarian flavoring.

As a historical example take sexual morality, since it's the topic du jour: although sexual activity is intrinsically tempting, in the absence of modern medicine and without modern contraceptives it exposes both its direct participants and the surrounding community to numerous dangers and liabilities. It's thus the case that a pure consideration of causes-and-effects would discourage sexual activity outside of a committed arrangement capable of handling those risks, and -- perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not! -- all the various well-known theologically-driven moral traditions likewise tend to discourage sexual activity in the absence such an arrangement.

Things are certainly convenient when both decision-making systems arrive at largely the same decisions, forming a nice feedback loop: what your morals tell you to do tends to lead to good practical results, and what you'd do if you were motivated by practical results would largely line up with your morals; what your tradition asks of you is not that different from what your reason suggests to you, and this makes it *easy* to ride out those periods wherein your traditional morals have you doing something your reason says is sub-optimal.

What does it look like when things diverge in earnest? What it *doesn't* look like is waking up one day, turning to your favorite page, and finding it telling you to become a murderer; it's nothing so obvious as that.

Rather, what it looks like is that you catch your son eating a piece of cake, and you say "whoa there son, don't you know if you eat that cake you won't have it anymore? Are you sure you want to be eating that cake now?" and your son looks at you like when you say something dumb about computers, so you explain that you can have a cake or eat a cake but not both, and once you start eating a cake that's it, it's eaten, no take-backs, so maybe you should save that cake for a special occasion, you know? But then your son explains to you like you're five that if you put the cake in the refrigerator it won't go bad even after you start eating it, so if you want a slice of cake you can just have a slice of cake and put the rest right back in the fridge until the next time.

You ask him "well, what if the refrigerator breaks?" and he says "it'll stay cold for awhile, so as long as you check up on it regularly you can get it fixed before the cake starts to go bad", and you say that he could still forget to check and he says sure, you're right, but if you just left the cake out on the windowsill like in ye olden days and didn't keep a close eye on it at all times sometimes it'd get stolen anyways, and then you get into talking about the electricity going out and it's a repeat so I'll elide the remainder...

...and then, that night, you can't shake a feeling that he really shouldn't be eating pieces of that cake right now -- he should be saving it for a special occasion, and only then eating it! -- but nothing you can think of from your tradition directly addresses the problem of how best to decide when to eat cake in the presence of the ability to preserve it indefinitely between eating-sessions. You can try to derive principles that'd cover the scenario but that's just you doing that deriving and hoping you're right; it's nothing so convincing as the clear-cut moral commandments found for some other moral considerations.

It's a horrible feeling to have. It turns things you never even thought of seriously into trials of faith: how strongly do you believe that your son shouldn't be eating that cake yet? How much will it strain your relationship if you can't convince him? What if he's right? What if you're right? Will this be the only such dispute, or are more coming? Is there a way to justify early-cake-eating I can live with?...

At some point some people will conclude that the problem is the fridge: the morals were in appropriate accordance with results before it came along, but now that it's come along it raises troubling questions that have no answers; if the tradition is correct and the fridge is causing it problems throw the fridge out! Once there's no fridge you won't have to argue with your son over the difficulty of refrigerator-assisted cake-preservation; you'll tell him "son, if you eat that cake now you won't have it" and he'll just say "like, uh, duh, dad" and continue leaving that cake alone until he's ready for it.

Thus begins the campaign to ban the refrigerator and, with it, cake-preservation. Arguments that the refrigerator is useful for other things fall on death ears, because although not false -- even you can see that they're true -- they don't help with your real problem, which is that the refrigerator is what exposes a potential seam in your tradition's oral meshwork, and having more edge-cases to deal with and more need to puzzle through its implications is hurting, not helping, your underlying problem.

And, that's how you wind up motivated to campaign as you're campaigning: at no point were you motivated by wanting to punish early-cake-eaters; you were always motivated by that gnawing feeling that comes when events cause you to at least see how someone else -- if not you, yourself -- might come to question something you believe deeply, and realize you don't have the answers you wish you had, even if you do have answers.

In turn, that's why policy mechanics and actual consequences are secondary; what's sought, perhaps unconsciously, is first and foremost a return to a perceived moral clarity and a perceived coherence between doing the (perceived) right thing and taking the (perceived) best available option.

Or, at least, so I've come to believe.
posted by hoople at 7:47 PM on August 29, 2012 [15 favorites]


I couldn't help but think of this comment:
Besides one crucial difference between then and now is that back then it was paramount to hide the fact one was pregnant. Now the social stigma of unmarried pregnancy is practically nonexistent.Then your life was pretty much ruined if people found out.
... when I read this:
In August of 1996, not even a month into his governorship, [Todd Akin champion Mike Huckabee] went to the mat to deny funding – $430 to be precise – for an abortion provided to a “15-year-old mentally retarded girl impregnated by her stepfather.”
... and I will perhaps suggest the need for a more inclusive understanding of whose lives are most at risk of being "pretty much ruined," not just whose lives should count as being "lives," if abortion is made illegal. I find it hard to see -- even in the majority of cases that are far less egregious than this -- how "social stigma" could be considered something more potentially damaging to a woman's life than all the other onuses placed upon her if she is forced to raise an unwanted child. Whatever her circumstance.
posted by argonauta at 7:56 PM on August 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: "So, likeso, when did you become a person? What is the precise moment you became someone whose life deserves respect? When does human life have value?"

Birth.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:34 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


rtha's excellent comment QFT:

I think a lot of us feel that the life that is often disrespected is that of the woman. She is not theoretically, philosophically, potentially, or metaphorically a person. She is an actual person. And her existence is often erased, ignored, or hand-waved away. When Akin talked about abortion in the case of rape, he talked about the rapist and the fetus. He didn't mention the woman.

posted by likeso at 2:35 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Most of this is quibble: "When does life start? What does consciousness start? When is it right to have an abortion? Should teen girls be allowed abortions? Should only rape victims and those whose lives are threatened have abortions? What if that child was a future president? What about the man's opinion? What about regret?"

Ridiculous.
All I care about is:
1. If I'm faced with such a situation, do I get to make the decision about being tied down (especially financially) for the next 18+ years?
2. Does every other women get to make their own decision as well?
3. That every woman* who doesn't want to face such a situation -ever-, have access to birth control and/or the kind of childcare plan you would raise the known Baby Jesus in.

*Defining woman as "any of the female sex who could get pregnant."
If that means your wife, your sister, your 12 year old daughter, or the homeless woman who lives on some unknown street in a city you've never heard of, than so be it.



Just noting that while birth control has the overall MAIN purpose of preventing birth in case of sex, it also prevents severe, nearly debilitating menstrual pain for some of us. I'm not saying "provide birth control for the suffering!" I am, however, asking those who speak out against it to consider this fact.
My mother snorted derisively and quickly snapped "-No-" when I asked about birth control as a teenager, because my boss at work told me about how it could seriously help with the pain and other symptoms. Joining the military however finally provided me with free birth control (in a way that wasn't on my family's health care plan and therefore not watched) after a couple years of trial and error. Now I take Depo Provera and hey, I don't have to make a doctor's appointment where I'm viewed suspiciously because I already know the outcome (sick day: drink water and Gatorade, Advil, lots of sleep, let it run its course? WHY THANK YOU EVERY MALE MILITARY DOCTOR I'VE EVER SEEN, WHATEVER WOULD I DO WITHOUT YOU?!?!?)
posted by DisreputableDog at 3:17 AM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


I just came back to this thread to note that Todd Akin is not present here, and as far as I know, neither is anyone who doesn't feel his bullshit is absolutely reprehensible. Straw Todd Akins might be entertaining to dismantle, but there are actual people here in this thread who are being attacked while the ideas they actually hold are being ignored.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:14 AM on August 30, 2012


Okiedokie. rtha's excellent comment minus Toss Akin reference QFT:

I think a lot of us feel that the life that is often disrespected is that of the woman. She is not theoretically, philosophically, potentially, or metaphorically a person. She is an actual person. And her existence is often erased, ignored, or hand-waved away.
posted by likeso at 5:19 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Heh. Freudian slip, there. Todd, not Toss.
posted by likeso at 5:21 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't like how people on this thread seem to insist that a woman who gets pregnant after sex is being punished.

It's not the pregnancy per se that's punishment. Although I have seen that talking point spun by conservative talking heads ("liberals say that pregnancy is punishment! they hate babies!")

It's forcing someone who doesn't want to be pregnant to stay pregnant.

Forcing them to incur health risks for a situation that they don't want or can't sustain, financially, for their mental health, or for myriad reasons.

That seems like more than punishment to me - it seems like outright cruelty.
posted by gaspode at 7:29 AM on August 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


Trucks Plastered With Graphic Photos of Aborted Fetuses Are Circling Downtown Tampa
posted by homunculus at 4:08 PM on August 30, 2012


The fact that no matter how casually society treats coupling, at the very least biologically if for no other reason sex is not a casual thing.

I actually agree with you that sex is not a casual thing. I also agree that everyone -- even the people who are more casual about selecting partners - could be a bit more reverent about it.

However, you lose me when you say that outlawing abortion is the way to achieve this. Too many women who seek abortions already have a reverent attitude towards sex. They're not party girls having abortions on a whim because they forgot their condoms, they are women who have been raped, women who are poor and were trying to be careful and control their family size but there was an accident with the condom or they made a mistake predicting their ovulation, women who wanted their baby very much but have just learned their developing baby has no lungs, women who wanted their baby very much but are actually allergic to their unborn baby to the point they're going into ancephelatic shock*, young women who are in love for the very first time in their teenage lives and are overwhelmed by it to the point that they're easily manipulated by their boyfriends...and on and on.

These women haven't treated sex as a casual thing. But by saying that cutting access to abortion will help ensure society treats abortion more seriously, you are ACCUSING them of being cavalier about sex. You are giving them judgement, when what they really need is mercy.

Again, I agree that we could be more reverent about sex. But cutting access to abortion will only punish too many women who already do that.


* I've actually heard of this very thing happening. I was about twelve years old, and overheard my mother and some of the neighbor ladies talking about the friend of a friend who had this happen. I never forgot that - it made me realize that medical matters were way more complicated than we can ever imagine, and that trying to put an across-the-board legal limit on something that is that complicated and personal is nigh unto impossible.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:06 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Just to be clear, if being pregnant and staying pregnant would kill the mother-for example what you just mentioned, or of course ectopic pregnancy-I sadly agree that the pregnancy would need to end.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:23 AM on August 31, 2012


[Dear folks, if you do not dislike it here, do not make tasteless fetus jokes. If you do not dislike it here, move on when you flag. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:39 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just to be clear, if being pregnant and staying pregnant would kill the mother-for example what you just mentioned, or of course ectopic pregnancy-I sadly agree that the pregnancy would need to end.

Yes, I understand that.

I'm making a different point -- that the current overly-casual attitude towards sex that exists is actually not connected to the availability of abortion, and is a separate situation that requires a different solution. My personal opinion about what that solution might be is more sex-positive education, including taking the emotional ramifications of sex into account in sex-ed classes ("okay, kids, not gonna lie, sex is a pretty powerful thing and it can indeed be pretty awesome - but you know, without taking the time to make sure your partner respects you, it could also really kinda suck"). In short - as sex is such a powerful and personal thing, I think the best way to have people take it more seriously is for them to start taking themselves more seriously.

The availability of abortion is an entirely separate issue, is my point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


At Jessamyn's suggestion I am putting this rather interesting Ted talk here: Alexander Tsiaras: Conception to Birth Visualized. For those of you who would find it interesting to see some exquisitely cool scans of the birth process-particularly the actual child birth itself, this is worth watching.
(It was originally meant as a fpp, but, yeah, I was told to bring it here.)

No matter what your view on the topic of THIS thread, it's still a cool video.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:34 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


An aspiring writer might seek kickstarter funding to document the history of grand- and great-grandmother experiences of abortion and women's rights, before this history dies.

The work would be valuable to historians, sociologists, law-makers, etc. in much the same way as The Slave Narrative, a federal project back in 1936 that captured the memories of America's last slaves.

"History" has done a piss-poor job of documenting the experiences and desires of women. There has never been a better time for a project to finally start documenting a first-hand female perspective of the past generations' history.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:15 PM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm making a different point -- that the current overly-casual attitude towards sex that exists is actually not connected to the availability of abortion, and is a separate situation that requires a different solution.

This is the exact thinking behind punishing sluts -- that other women are doing it wrong, and that the State needs to intervene to persuade and/or coerce them into changing how they arrange their personal affairs.

Fetuses are just a very painful handle to twist on, but the entire thinking process is noxious, even if you choose to inflict pain from a different angle.

Let women live their lives and use their bodies the way they think is right. You have no moral authority to dictate otherwise, no matter what your magic book claims.

The world is not the same one we grew up in, and we have to respect the next generation's right to come with their own answers and their own solutions, just like our answers and solutions needed to be different than those of our parents. Some of them are going to get it wrong, but many of them are going to find approaches that are better than anything we invented. And even where they're wrong, that's still something we can collectively learn from.
posted by Malor at 7:17 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like I am battering my head against a wall here but let me try one more time:


There is not one single one of us here that did not start out as a fertilized ovum. Every single one of us had a mother who carried us to term (or close enough to term to survive.)

So, indeed each of us speaks from the privilege time has given us. I am simply speaking for those of us who haven't had enough time pass yet for some others of us to acknowledge.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:44 PM on August 31, 2012


Meet the Women Who ‘Actually Like Men’: America’s Pro-Life Political Priestesses
posted by homunculus at 7:55 PM on August 31, 2012


There is not one single one of us here that did not start out as a fertilized ovum. Every single one of us had a mother who carried us to term (or close enough to term to survive.)

Yes, obviously. I'm not sure what that has to do with anything. Anyone who respects their mother would want her to be able to choose what to do with her body. Anyone who cares for children would want them all to be born to a loving mother whose pregnancy is her choice. With free, legal, and accessible abortion we can come closer to every child being a wanted child.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:00 PM on August 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


And St. Alia, I feel like I'm ramming my head into a wall when I say that your view is speaking from atop a whole mountain of privilege by assuming you know what's best for a pregnant woman or girl. Ok, so you've allowed the "if the mother's in danger of dying" clause, but let me repeat once again: not every pregnancy is filled with joy an delight. Not every woman (or girl) who gets pregnant can physically carry to term. Not every woman (or girl) is impregnated willingly. Not every woman (or girl) is 100% protected from pregnancy even of they take every available measure to prevent it.

The instant you say all abortions (even allowing for the life of the mother exception) should be banned, you are, by definition valuing one life more than another.
posted by shiu mai baby at 8:07 PM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


With free, legal, and accessible abortion we can come closer to every child being a wanted child.

Exactly. I'm just going to go ahead and repost the young rope-rider's excellent comment from a different thread here:

I love babies. Every baby has the right to a loving home where it is wanted. Abortion helps make that possible by ensuring that unwanted pregnancies do not turn into unwanted babies. It also allows women who already have children to continue to be physically, emotionally, and financially present for the babies they've already had, instead of undergoing a potentially debilitating or disabling pregnancy.

Abortion is good for babies. That is one of many reasons why I support it wholeheartedly.

posted by lalex at 8:33 PM on August 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


Mother pitted against child, instead of looking out for BOTH their interests. I cannot concede that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:58 PM on August 31, 2012


Mother pitted against child, instead of looking out for BOTH their interests. I cannot concede that.


You have completely missed the point.
posted by lalex at 11:11 PM on August 31, 2012


Mother pitted against child, instead of looking out for BOTH their interests. I cannot concede that.

I don't see why, since you're enthusiastically doing it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:29 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Mother pitted against child, instead of looking out for BOTH their interests. I cannot concede that."

There are always going to be conditions in which two rights (or two individuals' excise of their rights) conflict. Real world moments, where throwing up your hands and arguing for both isn't possible because those rights are mutually exclusive.

Generally, that's one of the reasons why we have laws instead of living in a state of nature, organizing by instinct.

You cannot allow a woman to have full exercise of her freedom of religion — her first amendment right — and her right to be secure in her person from unwarranted intrusion, without allowing her to make the decision that an abortion is fine within her system of ethics.

You do not have the right to presume on this decision for two reasons: First, it's none of your business. There is no way that you can be as proximate to the interests of the woman — the lawful and reasonable interests — as the woman herself. Second, your only justification for your argument is your religion.

So, you have to concede that the woman in question knows her interests better than you do, that it's possible to have rights conflict, and that your justification for your position relies on a conjecture.

Fundamentally, it is deeply unfair to deny a woman not just one but several rights on the presumption that you know better, and saying that you're looking out for both of their interests contradicts their liberty to decide what their interests are. It's incoherent nonsense that feels good but has no value.
posted by klangklangston at 11:35 PM on August 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


We do that all the time in divorce courts.But of course if you are not seeing a fetus as human with human rights......
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:26 AM on September 1, 2012


[Folks, at this point if you are just arguing with one person, you need to engage with that person not-in-this-thread. This is becoming the "let's interrogate one person" thing that is not okay. MetaTalk is an option, but quit the "take on all comers" thing here.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:34 AM on September 1, 2012


This "zygote/fetus is a person" bullshit has only become a meme within the past three decades. I don't believe there has ever been a society or religion that held such an idea.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:31 AM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Since it's Labor Day weekend, and the mods deserve a bit of a break, I'm fine with anyone memailing me if they have any other points they would like to make with me personally.

Otherwise, let's have an enjoyable weekend.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:17 AM on September 1, 2012


Read and weep.

The most infuriating thing about banning abortion is that ALL that it accomplishes is to remove all control over it.

"Unregulated addictive drugs" is the only idea that strikes me as potentially more cruel to people and damaging to society.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:04 PM on September 1, 2012


A thought experiment: is it more difficult to look into the eyes of your sister and tell her that she has less freedom and fewer rights . . . or to look at a sonogram and tell that mouse-looking embryo that it isn't a person and has no rights? Keep in mind as you imagine this, that there's a significant chance of miscarriage as yet; and that the risk to your sister only increases as time passes.

It is beneficial to imagine the scenario at other phases, not just as the 2-month lump. At three weeks, there are only a few hundred cells, like a little blister!

Can you imagine telling your sister, who does not want a child, that she can not take a hormone pill that forces her to have a period, because a blister-sized bubble of nondescript cells is inside her uterus? What if you knew ahead of time that the pregnancy would end up causing her traumatic injury? Could you still look her in the eye and tell her stone-cold that she does not have the right to choose?

It is, of course, much easier to imagine telling sis to suck it up, when one imagines a near-term baby. Though, of course, you still have to say it to her face, while the fetus is still outside our environment.

(Note that 80+% of abortions & miscarriages happen during the blister of cells to embryonic mouse stage. Past the fetal stage, it is increasingly a serious medical life-saving procedure as full term approaches, and not really about choice.)

(What if those uniquely-differentiated cells were a cancer? How do they differ at this early, static point in time?)
posted by five fresh fish at 2:48 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, FFF, going forward a few years, that blob of cells in my daughter's womb just started kindergarden. And he's really cute, to boot.


Would her life had been a heckufa lot better if she hadn't gotten pregnant? More than likely. She made her share of mistakes, and she'd be the first to admit them. But she didn't make her son pay for them with his life. And she may regret her choices, but she doesn't regret HIM. He and his little brother are very much loved.

And even if she hadn't wanted to raise a child, there are people who would have been overjoyed to do it for her. She had other options besides abortion.

(FWIW she could have easily aborted her son and I never would have found out. She'd already moved out on her own at that point. As she would tell you herself, she wasn't much on listening to me about much about anything. So you can't say I brainwashed her. But she KNEW what she carried was another life. She didn't need me or anyone else to tell her that. She KNEW. A lot of people in her generation KNOW. Not just the "religious" ones. Maybe one day when they are our age they will shudder in horror when they think of what OUR generation thought of unborn children. Who knows?)

As to your thought experiment: I think as a woman, and as a woman who has been pregnant, I have the authority to have the following opinion-I knew what caused pregnancy. I knew what birth control was. I also knew that birth control sometimes fails even when used properly. This means, as a sentient being and not an idiot I knew that any act of intercourse could possibly result in a pregnancy occuring. Now, as a sentient being and not a fool nor an idiot, do you think that possibly, just possibly, I could weigh my actions in that light, and make my choices accordingly? And to be a bit crude, do you think that as a sentient being who is not an idiot and not a fool, I could, if I really wanted to indulge in sexual activity, choose activities that would not risk a sperm introducing itself to an egg? Because, knowing that with great power (the power to reproduce life) comes great responsibility. Men and women alike have the privilege and responsibility to remember that when they come together, there is almost always the chance of new life being created, and that that life deserves just as much respect as any other human life deserves. To believe otherwise cheapens ALL human life. Including yours and mine. Because, at some later date, who is to say OUR lives might be considered inconvenient?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:25 PM on September 1, 2012


It cheapens female life, female freedom, female equality to think that your religious (I refuse to scare quote it) beliefs should determine what other people do with their bodies.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:31 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Alia (et al): the issue at large is roughly: if your daughter had told you that she did plan to get an abortion, how far would you have gone to prevent her from doing so?
posted by hoople at 4:39 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


But we are talking about doing something TO the body of an unborn human, aren't we?

This will be my last post on the thread, since I know that we are now arguing past each other. Either you think a prenatal human IS human and worthy of consideration, or you do not.

If you don't, none of my arguments will convince you.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:59 PM on September 1, 2012


It all balances out. The kid my aunt chose to not abort went on to kill three innocent people, including a pregnant woman!
posted by five fresh fish at 5:09 PM on September 1, 2012


I believe 80% of chosen abortions and a quarter of all desired pregnancies are terminated well before fetal stage, when the embryo is visually identical to other animals. Unique human tissue is, indeed, destroyed. That is the point.

For nearly all of human history, and without the disapproval of religions, the miscarriage of or deliberate abortion of embryonic life has been a choice for women to make for themselves.

One might just as well think young earth theory is truth, or that global climate change is false, as to think embryonic human life has personhood equal or superior to that of a woman. It's all of the same mindset.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:18 PM on September 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's really a very simple question, and entirely pertinent; if you don't want to answer it that's certainly your right, especially on a holiday weekend, which I hope you're enjoying.
posted by hoople at 6:25 PM on September 1, 2012


This will be my last post on the thread, since I know that we are now arguing past each other. Either you think a prenatal human IS human and worthy of consideration, or you do not.

Human, but not a person. And of course it's worthy of consideration. I just don't think that this consideration reaches to the point where "no abortions (except for health reasons) ever" is the fair standard.
posted by jeather at 7:54 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been pondering the "life of the mother" exception for a couple of days now, and there's an internal logic failure that I just can't seem to get past. I'm going to do my best to articulate it, so bear with me:

So let's say you're in favor of outlawing all abortions except where the life of the mother is at risk. But the thing is, in those cases you are (using the anti-choice terminology), still voluntarily ending a life. Why is that acceptable, but allowing an abortion for a 12-year-old girl who was raped by her father is wrong? Is the child (again using the pro-life terminology) of the dying mother somehow worth less than the child conceived of a violent incestual rape?

To me, if you're going to be "pro-life," you have to be "pro-life" the whole way, or you have to face that your views aren't intellectually or emotionally consistent. As a woman who is staunchly pro-choice, I recognize that being pro-choice means accepting difficult aspects of my stance, but the core of it is that I also fully recognize that the woman or girl who is pregnant has the ultimate say over what happens in the pregnancy. Nothing more, nothing less.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:28 AM on September 2, 2012


I have been told by an "acquaintance" (spit) that she feels some sort of praise is due to her because, hey, at least granting personhood to a blastocyst is "consistent" with her anti- views.

Yes, being consistent is much more important than being compassionate. Fuck, do I loathe her. If there was a hell, she'd sprint down there with a handbasket of good intentions.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:06 PM on September 2, 2012


shiu mai baby: this is why over the years I've come to the conclusion above (put even more concisely: by and large the pro-lifers are motivated by "attitudes" and a sense of moral clarity, and are more interested in seeing that attitude / clarity reflected and reaffirmed than they are in specific outcomes (even if that's not how they view themselves).

If you want to be charitable, you can frame it as: "for some people, when they say they oppose X, they assign some weight to outcomes based on 'how little X there is in that outcome' and some weight to outcomes based on 'how well the rules reflect their attitude towards X'". Thus with this debate, as I think you can see exhibited by several participants on this thread, there are some people who assign a very high value to "living in a world where the rules are like so" but far less to "a world where the outcome is like such".

At the margins I'm not sure this is anything other than just taking people at their word: if someone says "abortion should be illegal because it's wrong" that may actually be all there is to their opinion; there may be no point extrapolating an interest in the outcomes of that wish as no such interest was, in fact, stated (although they may state such an interest should you specifically ask them if they have one...).
posted by hoople at 1:14 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Timely.. Sam Bee asks delegates about Romney's view on abortion.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:54 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


A personal story from someone who miscarried while deciding what she would choose.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:05 PM on September 2, 2012


Ah, we have the same old thought process again:

As to your thought experiment: I think as a woman, and as a woman who has been pregnant, I have the authority to have the following opinion-I knew what caused pregnancy. I knew what birth control was. I also knew that birth control sometimes fails even when used properly. This means, as a sentient being and not an idiot I knew that any act of intercourse could possibly result in a pregnancy occuring. Now, as a sentient being and not a fool nor an idiot, do you think that possibly, just possibly, I could weigh my actions in that light, and make my choices accordingly?

There it is, in bold flashing letters: punishing sluts. The sinning bitch had her fun, and now she has to pay the price.

This is it, people. That's it, right there. They don't actually care about the babies at all. That's just the cover story, like WMDs in Iraq. What they really care about is this:
do you think that possibly, just possibly, I could weigh my actions in that light, and make my choices accordingly?
THAT is the reason we are arguing. The anti-abortionists want women to stop having sex outside of marriage. The baby is just the handle to twist on to force that behavior. We keep going around and around on this, because anti-choice people say it's about the baby. So pro-choice people propose policies that actually reduce the number of abortions to the lowest possible numbers, also incidentally making sex safer. But that is never acceptable, because this isn't about saving babies, it's about stopping sex.

She just gave it to you, in flashing neon letters, and you will ALWAYS find this same goal, when you talk to any staunch anti-abortionist for long enough. Do enough digging, and ultimately, the real goal is always that the anti-abortionist wants women to "weigh their actions and make their choices accordingly." And they want to make as sure as they possibly can that the consequences for having sex are as horrible as possible.

It gets no clearer than this. That's the real argument. This is what's really going on, and why this argument is never settled. Conservatives aren't pro-life, they're anti-slut.
posted by Malor at 3:59 AM on September 3, 2012 [15 favorites]


This is why I would like to see a world wide poll on sexual morality and compare how Americans stack up against the rest of the world. Questions like:

In my view, the maximum number of sexual partners a male should have in a life time

In my view, the maximum number of sexual partners a female should have in a life time

The earliest age a male should have sexual intercourse

The earliest age a female should have sexual intercourse

I believe in readily available birth control...T/F

I believe in sex education in public schools...T/F
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:30 AM on September 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Conservatives aren't pro-life, they're anti-slut.

Yep. I'm going to go ahead and post this chart again.
posted by lalex at 8:11 PM on September 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


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