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President Bush seems to think that abortion is unconstitutional.
January 20, 2002 1:55 AM   Subscribe

President Bush seems to think that abortion is unconstitutional. Does anyone smell hypocrisy here? I would suggest that he examine the constitutionality of his own actions before throwing stones.
posted by jack-o (78 comments total)

 
Ah he invoked September 11th... Now if you disagree you are probably some kind of traitor or something. What happened to the separation of church and state?
posted by jackiemcghee at 3:22 AM on January 20, 2002


Bush doesn't give a fuck about human life any more than any other like minded republican oil tycoon. Sure, going to church looks great and invoking the name of god every second public sentence does wonders for benighted popular support, but there is no substance in such a proclamation from the "White House". The re-definition of "sanctity of human life" by the right is equally as ludicrous, as they defer the public to blind faith in that the media has done a satisfactory job of demarcating which humans on this planet command more sanctity than others. The bilked working class families where their CEO bosses-by-proxy have squandered their 401(k) savings plans for personal gain do not warrant an official "White House" position. The starving of Afganistan do not either. This, saying nothing of every other global venue where American-style capitalistic imperialism has cheapened the value of human life so much that Indonesian and Mexican cities don't even get their own Niketown.

It's so fine and well for the white house to announce such ethically ineffectual agitprop. But to actually do anything of substance to protect individual humans eludes the selfish mind altogether.
posted by crasspastor at 3:47 AM on January 20, 2002


Seems the last time one of these came out from the White House was Papa Bush's reign.
posted by owillis at 3:49 AM on January 20, 2002


Instead of using 9.11, he uses Martin Luther King...
posted by owillis at 3:49 AM on January 20, 2002


Bush doesn't give a fuck about human life any more than any other like minded republican oil tycoon.

I never thought of Bush that way. To me he's always been a true rock-bottom hitting screw-up who embraced the "born-again" mentality to help get ,ostensibly, clean. He's as real as the self-righteous straight-edger except he's got the religious baggage to carry along too. That is one of the many reasons why I think he is a very dangerous fellow in regard to those of us who believe in bottom-up approach of deciding for ourselves and living our own lives as compared to the typical authoritarian top-down sanctimony brand of conservatism.

I would not underestimate our president as just another special interest goon in regards to his extreme religious stance. Unfortunately, he's means it when Jesus changed his life, arguably Jesus did or at least the religious group he embraced after a carefree life of parting, alcoholism, and drug addiction.
posted by skallas at 3:59 AM on January 20, 2002


Invoked September 11th? It's his incantation. His presidency would be dead without it. And he not only brought up the 2001 attack (I think that's a good term for it on the American scale), but he raised Thomas Jefferson from the dead to help him in his battle against "evil" forces, which perhaps now include the millions of American women who have had abortions and have therefore joined the evil enemies out there.

On September 11 [inaudible due to chewing noises], we saw clearly [coughing, back thumping, water sipping] that evil exists in this world, and that [coughing, Heimlich gasp, sound of expelled whole pretzel sticking to microphone] it does not value life.

Is he trying to tell us that evil does not value human life? Brilliant. I hadn't thought of it that way.

By the way, when he asks Americans to recognize the day with "appropriate ceremonies" in their homes, just exactly where is he going? Is there some sort Sanctity of Human Life dance you all learned in the scouts?
posted by pracowity at 4:07 AM on January 20, 2002


Precisely skallas. He's as vacuous as his family keeps him afloat. A man of his mental acuity would have been delivering furniture had he come from my family and not thrown his back out with an earlier house painting job.

--The whole Bush clan though. . .

What a serious bunch of underwhelming people who play the world as though it were a playstation.
posted by crasspastor at 4:12 AM on January 20, 2002


He's as vacuous as his family ***WHO***keeps him afloat.
posted by crasspastor at 4:18 AM on January 20, 2002


"GW Bush doesn't give a f*ck about human life."

How intellectual.

Learn to express your views intelligently and respectfully, and you will succeed in life. As it is, you have only reinforced the popular stereotype of liberals as uninformed and ignorant.
posted by jtm at 5:50 AM on January 20, 2002


...you have only reinforced the popular stereotype of liberals as uninformed and ignorant.

Whereas GW Bush reinforces the popular stereotype of Americans as uninformed and ignorant.

Couldn't resist.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:13 AM on January 20, 2002


So how about death row? If that press release really represents Bush's beliefs, then it is a new one and he must be on the verge of commuting all death sentences. It's pretty easy to stand up those in the womb, but it takes a true Christian to stop the stoning of criminals.
posted by Llama-Lime at 6:14 AM on January 20, 2002


Well said, Llama-Lime, you beat me to it.
posted by RylandDotNet at 6:52 AM on January 20, 2002


In related news: WICHITA, Kan. -- A doctor who once was shot by an anti-abortion protester marked the 29th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision by offering free abortions Saturday, a move that drew more than 100 protesters to his clinic...Tiller said Saturday at least 32 low-income women had signed up for the free first-trimester abortions.
posted by Carol Anne at 7:13 AM on January 20, 2002


News just in: President George W. Bush has decreed that all women suspected of wanting abortions must be shaved, shackled, blindfolded, their ears and mouths covered, and detained in a kneeling position in an outdoor cage.
posted by skylar at 7:20 AM on January 20, 2002


Nothing like some good old fashioned torture on a Sunday morning. And I'd be surprised if most americans didn't support what they're doing.
posted by crunchland at 7:40 AM on January 20, 2002


So much hatred of our president! my oh my. Read carefully what his proclamation states: he does not say he is doing away with abortion. He does not say he is for abortion. He says merely that he wants to placate the right wing of his supporters while at the same time not upsetting those who believe in abortion. Go home and do something to sanctify your home: like screwing without brith control items so that no artificial thing comes between two loving people. Then, if pregnant, have the woman use abortion, that which has been sanctified by our courts and our Congress. Now, everyone happy?
The patron saint in this case is Janus, the two -faced god who usually represents hypocrisy.
posted by Postroad at 8:01 AM on January 20, 2002


There's no way Bush could do anything if he wanted to, there's too much strong feelings on both sides. I think both sides are hypocrital, the right with no abortion but death row and the left with no death row but abortion. There should be a consession, no death row if there is no more abortions. Seems like a fair trade to me but it'll never get through.
posted by geoff. at 8:36 AM on January 20, 2002


And I'd be surprised if most americans didn't support what they're doing.

If you listen to the "man on the street" reports (note: jpoulos's pet peeve #1 = man on the street interviews) that every nickel and dime media outlet is doing, americans are all for torturing the taliban prisoners. It's fucking shameful.
posted by jpoulos at 8:36 AM on January 20, 2002


I don't know whether abortion is right or wrong and neither do President Bush nor any of you.

The difference between cannibalism and meat eating is the difference between murder and killing. You kill an animal when you eat it for dinner. You kill insects when you spray that hornet's nest above your garage. When you take away a human being's life however, you commit murder.

That said, I think the only way to decide whether or not abortion is wrong is to first be able to confidently decide the exact moment when an embryo becomes a person, and science can't/hasn't said that yet. Is it when the heart starts beating? When brain waves are visible? I don't know. Before that point, abortion is not an evil thing, there is no life to take. After the point when an embryo becomes a human being, to abort it is to commit murder. The woman's rights end where the child's body begins.

Until we can concretely define these things, the best thing we can do is speculate and debate in hopes of moving towards the truth. Truth is objective. Truth is truth whether you like it or not.

On a separate note I think it's great how the left loves open minds and alternative viewpoints, unless those alternative views and open minds come from the right. Then you're a greedy fucking boob with no respect for human life and society.
posted by tomorama at 9:19 AM on January 20, 2002


Is he trying to tell us that evil does not value human life? Brilliant.

Indeed, and with the conceptual equation of "unborn=human life", all those who support abortion must be evil.
posted by holycola at 9:59 AM on January 20, 2002


On a separate note I think it's great how the left loves open minds and alternative viewpoints, unless those alternative views and open minds come from the right.

Being open to alternate opinions doesn't preclude criticizing them. Admittedly, I've seen some lefty reactions that will actually say that a viewpoint isn't valid, but screw them, too. At least under a more liberal government you're not likely to see governors supporting the dismissal of academics who exercise their right to free speech.
posted by holycola at 10:09 AM on January 20, 2002


jack-o, nice trollage. The proclamation mentions the constitution but once, and that is the President's power to ... issue proclamations. Nowhere does he say that "abortion is unconstitutional" and I challenge you to show how you twisted this into that insanely overwrought interpretation. Then you raise the specter of hypocrisy, yet without the prior assumption that charge is baseless.

Good grief.

And I'm a Democrat.

In any event this is right in line with proclamations that Reagan and Bush I issued annually in wussy support of the pro-life cause. Big f'n deal.
posted by dhartung at 10:39 AM on January 20, 2002


Until we can concretely define these things, the best thing we can do is speculate and debate in hopes of moving towards the truth. Truth is objective. Truth is truth whether you like it or not.

Good post (except for the baiting at the end), but I'll disagree that we can ever find more truth on the matter, especially scientific truth. The very concept of person is arbitrary - science will never even ask the question of personhood. It doesn't help matters that human infants are born much less developed than other mammal infants (have to get that skull through the birth canal while it fits). So under some very reasonable definitions of person, an infant might not be a person at birth.

We all agree that killing infants is bad, but before birth, the development process is too gradual to draw a line any particular place. Stil, can anyone who took Bio II in high school honestly believe that a line shouldn't be drawn somewhere before birth?

My solution? Play it morally safe, and never abort a healthy fetus that's partially mine - but I would NEVER judge another human for their own decision, as long as they didn't interfere with mine.
posted by Llama-Lime at 11:04 AM on January 20, 2002


I'm not saying you shouldn't criticize viewpoints. Certainly you should. I'm criticizing the impression given off that everything from the right is evil, wrong and greedy.
posted by tomorama at 11:40 AM on January 20, 2002


Ah he invoked September 11th

rebecca predicts: in five years, the invocation of september 11 will = godwin's law part II.
posted by rebeccablood at 12:02 PM on January 20, 2002


The patron saint in this case is Janus, the two -faced god who usually represents hypocrisy.

Janus, for whom the current month is named, represents portals, doorways, beginnings and endings.

When you take away a human being's life however, you commit murder...

Oversimplified. We all disagree on exactly what constitutes murder - some people attribute some level of personhood to animals and say meat is murder; some take away personhood from criminals and say execution is not.

After the point when an embryo becomes a human being, to abort it is to commit murder.

what makes someone human? If it's consciousness, then we're probably not human until we've been out of the womb for at least a year. If it's the ability to feel pain, it may be just before birth, but then why aren't all animals considered human? Before 23 weeks, fetuses (feti?) don't even have nerve connections to the cortex, so could not process pain. Still, we don't really know the experience of feti, just like we don't know the experience of animals. No simple answers here.

But: three elements are necessary to create a human life - a man's DNA, a woman's DNA, and a woman's body. We have not been granted control of our DNA, which is why men aren't permitted to abort, and why after birth, women have no further rights to end the life of the baby. But, women do have rights over their bodies, and are permitted to choose NOT to become an alien pod for a new creature they do not want.

Pregnancy seriously does take over a woman's body - if she's into it, it can be one of the best experiences of her life, but if not, try to imagine a creature growing inside you, taking your nutrients, weighing you down, expanding your skin, pressing on your organs - backaches, foot pain, constant need for the bathroom, puking... The right to abortion actually is about the right to have control over your body, and you've heard that so many times you might not even think about what it actually means, but it's about not being sigourney weaver.

If feti were conscious, you could argue that women be forced to bear them, though in cases of rape I would still advocate choice, but there's really no doubt that consciousness does not develop until a year or two on the outside (sensory input is necessary for that brain development anyway).

more of my thoughts on this here & here.
posted by mdn at 12:08 PM on January 20, 2002


This is my point. I don't know when a fetus becomes a human being with human rights and neither does anyone else. We can't pass final judgement on something we don't understand. We can only do our best to try and do what we think is right and true.
posted by tomorama at 12:14 PM on January 20, 2002


Postroad,
Great point. Bush's views on abortion aren't a secret, and this declaration has no legal weight. I see this as basically another way for him to say: "Remember Sept. 11 everybody? The sky is still blue, and I'm still president!"
posted by Ty Webb at 12:30 PM on January 20, 2002


It's going to be interesting like hell if one of the Supremes decides to leave in the next four years (at least). You know someone already has that Roe v. Wade test case on the burner.
posted by owillis at 12:34 PM on January 20, 2002


Not if, owillis. When. Several supremes have made no secret that they wanted to retire while a conservative was in the White House, which makes their decisions back with the contested election all the more partisan and suspect.
posted by crunchland at 12:40 PM on January 20, 2002


At least under a more liberal government you're not likely to see governors supporting the dismissal of academics who exercise their right to free speech.
I've probably just been trolled but . . . you have read some history, right? A truly liberal government would avoid that but those are rather rare; everyone else uses "liberal" to mean "people who agree with me".
posted by adamsc at 12:40 PM on January 20, 2002


Accepting, as a premise, that science cannot currently tell us whether or not an unborn fetus is a human being:

Further, accepting as a premise that it is generally wrong to kill innocent human beings, and that this value (life) is of paramount importance:

A purely rational society would outlaw abortion.

Though I am sympathetic (as much as I can be, having never experienced it myself) with the massive inconvenience of pregnancy, here is the reasoning: faced with no way to judge the humanity of a fetus, a purely rational society would have to chose between the risk of infanticide on a massive scale (if the unborn is a human being) and the certainty of forcing women to tolerate the known consequences of their voluntary behavior (if the unborn is not a human being). No rational, moral society would be willing to tolerate that level of risk. (Once again, this presumes that the value of life is of paramount importance).

But women have votes, money, and lobbyists, whereas feti (?) do not.
posted by gd779 at 12:43 PM on January 20, 2002


I'm throwing that logic out there for comment... I'm not sure whether or not I accept it yet, but it seems valid. Please don't take it as a troll; just show me where I'm wrong.
posted by gd779 at 12:44 PM on January 20, 2002


In the United States of America, you are a glorified pet until 18, and a child until 21. No one actually treats you like an adult until after 30, and still those older or wealthier than you are judged more human till the day you die. And heaven help you if you should be convicted of a crime. Then your "unalienable" rights are revoked, and the state may be authorized (by who? God?) to kill you.

Evildoers have no respect for life, and neither do politicans.
posted by Ptrin at 1:08 PM on January 20, 2002


gd779: But doesn't your logic place the rights of the might-be-human over the rights of the known human? Dust mites might be people to, so we must stop breathing immediately?
posted by Ptrin at 1:09 PM on January 20, 2002


Accepting, as a premise, that science cannot currently tell us whether or not an unborn fetus is a human being

Science cannot tell us what is a "human being" because that is a subjective title. Science can tell us that there are no nerve connections to the cerebral cortex until the third trimester. Science can tell us that processing sight, sound, touch etc are abilities we learn, not immediate inherent traits of being alive (which is why blind people who have surgery need to learn how to see, etc). Becoming human is a process, and if you have a well-formed brain, it will only take a year or so after birth before you start being able to recognize yourself as an entity.

But women have votes, money, and lobbyists, whereas feti (?) do not.

Just like meat eaters vs. animals? Animals at least are capable of experiencing fear & pain. Fetuses have greater potential but lesser actual awareness and capabilities. Not killing fetuses is also demanding a greater sacrifice than not killing animals (alien pod vs. forgoing steak), and very few vegetarians wish to make their stance law (i.e., are pro-choice about it).

An ability to communicate is a good indicator of level of consciousness. Creatures that can't speak for themselves are ultimately not as valuable as those that can - the relationship is necessarily skewed, not the same as an equal relationship between two normal human beings. Babies and animals may be conscious or may not be there at all, or most likely have some kind of semi-consciousness like what we experience when we're half-asleep or really drunk. Fetuses have not experienced the world yet so have not learned to be conscious at all. Sensory input, change and motion are needed to teach the brain to process experience.
posted by mdn at 1:21 PM on January 20, 2002


Learn to express your views intelligently and respectfully, and you will succeed in life. As it is, you have only reinforced the popular stereotype of liberals as uninformed and ignorant.

Thanks for weighing in doc. I for one, appreciate being publically taught the errors in my ways.

Also, thanks for disregarding the remainder of my post Dr. McLeod. But when you're a PhD and have to make sure everyone knows it, you can just about ignore anything you want to, I guess.

Anaemic flaming, by the way, is one of the methods we here, on the internet at least, use to discern pedantic ignorance on the flamers part.
posted by crasspastor at 1:38 PM on January 20, 2002


We can all ignore anything we want to, crasspastor.

No one has a binding obligation to pay attention to any portion of anything anyone posts. Were we trading legal briefs, you'd have the right to demand that your points be addressed systematically, and vice versa (although that demand often gets subverted). But, as it is, it's perfectly within bounds to read your post but only respond to the bit where your argument shoots itself in the foot.

I'm no Bush fan, either, but I think it's better to aim for the coherent argument than to sling names.
posted by argybarg at 2:06 PM on January 20, 2002


And, jack-o, dhartung is right: Bush is not making any claim about the constitutionality of abortion. Why did you say he is?
posted by argybarg at 2:08 PM on January 20, 2002


But doesn't your logic place the rights of the might-be-human over the rights of the known human? Dust mites might be people to, so we must stop breathing immediately?

Yes and no, respectively. In other words, yes, I am advocating placing the rights of the might-be-human over the rights of those who are certainly human, because of the risk that the might-be-human... well, might be human. In other words, it's about weighing values: life is to be valued higher than inconvenience, especially given the element of "assumption of the risk" that goes along with consensual sex.

But dust mites? Come on. Dust mites are clearly not people, thus the argument doesn't apply. (More precisely, the risk that dust mites might be people is so incalculably low that it's not worth taking into account.)

mdn: Like the dust mites, it seems pretty clear that animals are not humans within my conception of the term. Others might have different conceptions, but I would venture to say that the vast majority of "average" people would accept my presumption on this. A discussion about consciousness, humanity, and why we value human life would not only muddy this discussion on abortion considerably, but also rests upon so many philosophical and religious assumptions that we'd never get anywhere with it. I don't think that you and I are going to terms on this.
posted by gd779 at 2:27 PM on January 20, 2002


I like it. National Sanctity of Human Life Day, or Nation SOhLD for short.
posted by Neale at 2:46 PM on January 20, 2002


A discussion about consciousness, humanity, and why we value human life ...rests upon so many philosophical and religious assumptions that we'd never get anywhere with it.

dude, welcome to the center of the debate! That's why we don't get anywhere with it, and why it has to remain a personal choice.

And I wouldn't have entered into it, except that you did explicitly ask someone to "show (you) where (you're) wrong" - which it seems you weren't actually interested in hearing, as you simply dismiss my response, rather than explaining what's wrong with it.
posted by mdn at 2:58 PM on January 20, 2002


And, jack-o, dhartung is right: Bush is not making any claim about the constitutionality of abortion. Why did you say he is?

I think he's referring to the statement that all persons have a right to life, "even the unwanted." I don't see how else this could be interpreted without quite a stretch.
posted by EngineBeak at 3:43 PM on January 20, 2002


mdn: oh, come on. I explained what was wrong with your point, at least on a superficial level. Namely, the vast majority of people would accept as a valid presumption that animals are not people (and that humanity is a distinct concept of a binary nature -- either you're human or you're not). If you disagree with that assertion, tell me why.

As for your assertion that I'm not interested in hearing what's wrong with my argument, please. Get off of it. You come from a secular worldview, I come from a Christian worldview... the only way for us to have a productive conversation about this is for us to open up that (particularly big) can of worms and resolve it. If you'd like to talk about why Christianity is wrong, believe me when I say I'd LOVE to hear about it -- I won't even talk back, if you don't want me to. But we shouldn't hijack this thread that much. Email me instead.

You don't go debating the timecube guy every time you want to discuss basic physics. You start with a generally accepted framework for understanding the issue and move on from there.

(Though, to your credit, your position is the only logically consistent refuge for an abortion-rights advocate that I know of.)

And, besides, aside from your morality-by-consensus argument (ie, if we don't all agree that something is morally wrong, then it has to be OK in the eyes of the law), you haven't really staked out a concrete position for me to argue against.
posted by gd779 at 4:10 PM on January 20, 2002


How many of you arguing this point are women?

I have never understood how any man can have any kind of understanding about something that they will never have to personally go through. (don't respond by saying that just because you haven't been murdered doesn't mean you can't have an opinion about it. It's not the same, anyone can be murdered, only women have to choose whether or not to have an abortion.)

Does anyone seriously think that by making abortion illegal that it will go away?

It won't, it will just go underground and become less safe and worse. Women will self abort. Not only will the fetuses die, so will many more of the women. The only role government has in medical proceedures are to make sure that they are safe. What an individual does with his or her own body is between them and the God of their understanding.
posted by bas67 at 4:11 PM on January 20, 2002


You logic, gd779, only applies if society were rational,,, and christian. Which really is a paradox. Ha ha. Just kidding.

Basically, your first premise is flawed. Science cannot tell us if a fetus is a human being because that is not within the scope of science's ability. As mdn said. You're approaching the argument as if we are unsure if a fetus is human. That's not the case. The law decides if a fetus is human, and currently, it just ain't so.

The definition of an innocent human is also subjective (i'm just repearing what mdn said, I guess). To Osama Bin Laden, there are hundreds of innocent people being held in cuba right now. George Bush has a different view of that. So clearly we can't use the word innocent in that sense. Thus, bye bye second premise.

Again, your argument only works if there are consequences to us executing innocent humans. You believe there are, I do not (outside of the consequences we place on it).
posted by Doug at 4:32 PM on January 20, 2002


bas67: Here is the best response I know. (Ignore the last paragraph.) Either way, the imposition on the woman is irrelevant. (This, of course, assumes that you value human life as one of your highest values, and that you accept that humanity is a distinct and binary concept.)

Which brings me to mdn...

mdn: I guess I do have one response for you: read this, ignoring the first 3 paragraphs.

Science cannot tell us if a fetus is a human being because that is not within the scope of science's ability.

Doug: But science can give us an understanding of physical life, which would give us the capability to apply an accepted moral framework to that life.

If, on the other hand, your argument is that people can't agree about whether abortion is moral, then you've resorted to mdn's morality-by-consensus argument. I can see some validity there, but is that really the best way to understand the law? How does that square with the early debates about women's suffrage or slavery? A lot of people disagreed about those moral issues, too. Should we have waited for a consensus? Obviously not.

It seems to me that the best way to think of the law is as a pragmatic balancing of absolute morality and consensus morality. But that's not very helpful until you've defined a vision of absolute morality. And also, I'm very uncertain of that conception of the law... it's very open to revision, if you have any thoughts.

To Osama Bin Laden, there are hundreds of innocent people being held in cuba right now. George Bush has a different view of that. So clearly we can't use the word innocent in that sense. Thus, bye bye second premise.

hehe. Are you really arguing that, even if the unborn were human, we would be justified in killing them because they might not be innocent? I didn't think so. You were probably trying to argue that some people place a different value on human life; certain asian cultures, for example. But, again, the vast majority of people in this country would oppose the devaluing of human life. Aren't you one of those people? If you are, why are you bothering to argue with the presumption?
posted by gd779 at 4:47 PM on January 20, 2002


A National referendum on abortion? Would it help? I've often wondered what the majority thinks.
posted by Mack Twain at 4:56 PM on January 20, 2002


I've often wondered what the majority thinks.

Mack, the majority thinks that reality shows are good watching, books are stupid and to hard to get, that backstreet boys actually show musical talent, and that an old man with a white beard wants them to make everybody think the same way.
posted by fuq at 5:37 PM on January 20, 2002


The use of the term "unborn" really fries me. It's the height of Orwellian double-speak. The proper term is "fetus." Anyone who speaks of "unborn babies" is being devious. When it comes to my attention, I stop listening or reading and think nasty thoughts about the perpetrator of that linguistic atrocity.
posted by Harry Hopkins' Hat at 5:47 PM on January 20, 2002


I explained what was wrong with your point, at least on a superficial level. Namely, the vast majority of people would accept as a valid presumption that animals are not people...

I never said they were - simply that fetuses have less awareness and likelihood of consciousness than animals. The ability to communicate ideas, and to be fully conscious is generally thought of as the defining characteristic of humans, that which differentiates us from other animals. Fetuses do not share these traits.

And, besides, aside from your morality-by-consensus argument (ie, if we don't all agree that something is morally wrong, then it has to be OK in the eyes of the law), you haven't really staked out a concrete position for me to argue against.

Wait, you're the one who's arguing that "most people agree" on something!

I have stated my position clearly, which is that until the end of pregnancy, it is scientifically clear that fetuses are not even capable of processing basic experience since the nerves that connect the cerebral cortex are not yet developed, and that even once the capability is in place, the brain must learn to process sensory input. Therefore, there is no basis for claiming that it's immoral to abort a pregnancy before this point, and there is a basis for claiming that it's immoral to force a woman to bear a child before this point.
posted by mdn at 5:59 PM on January 20, 2002


I've often wondered what the majority thinks

The closest I think we have are opinion polls. The results from this Gallup poll are as such:

"With respect to the abortion issue, would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life?"

1995 56% choice 33% life
1996 52% choice 38% life
1997 49% choice 42% life
1998 48% choice 45% life
1999 48% choice 42% life
2000 48% choice 43% life
2001 50% choice 41% life
posted by owillis at 6:09 PM on January 20, 2002


bas67:

The idea of a legal system is predicated on the acceptability of people making laws about events that will never happen to them. The fact that you could possibly have an abortion makes your reasoning exactly 0% superior to the reasoning of someone who never could.
posted by argybarg at 6:43 PM on January 20, 2002


That's a pleasant surprise (to me - I had assumed much less support for abortion).

Thanks, owillis.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:44 PM on January 20, 2002


argybarg,

I wasn't talking about lawmakers, I was talking about "right to life protesters" and message board arguers.
I thought that was clear. My point being: your point is better taken if you can actually relate to the arguement.

All I said about the government is that they have no role in dictating medical proceedures. Thats for you and your doctor. Government should only use research labs to test if the proceedure is safe. How would you feel if someone made the arguement that medically induced erections were morally wrong so "Viagra" should be outlawed. Stupid huh?

I hear over and over that abortion is wrong. Well if you think that then you shouldn't have one. But why should you tell me not to have one? How many more unwanted children should there be in this world? Ideally, people shouldn't get accidentally pregnant, but they do. So if they shouldn't have an abortion are you going to step up and pay for medical expences, diapers, formula, clothes, daycare and education? Right-to-life people tend to only be interested in the woman when she is pregnant after the birth they are on their own.
posted by bas67 at 8:15 PM on January 20, 2002


People get "accidently pregant", they should live with the consequences (and don't give me the rape rhetoric, thats a very small percentage). Someone kills someone accidently, they are guilty as charged. They don't get off because it was an "accident." Same with sex. You go in full well knowing there is a chance of conception (any form of birth control or not, there is a chance). And, as I am opossed to Abortion, so am I to the death penalty.
posted by jmd82 at 9:42 PM on January 20, 2002


gd779: It is ridiculous to use asian cultures as an example of placing differing values on human life in a country that uses capital punishment. Assuming, of course, you are in the USA. You are correct, I am against devaluing human life, but my definition is different than yours.

I don't believe in absolute morality. The law should not even attempt to legislate spiritual, or absolute morality. It should be concerned with the welfare of society, and the members thereof. I do not believe that a fetus is a member of my society. When it's born, I think it will be, and then I'll give it all sorts of protections and such.

But this is useless. Rationalize any way we like, you believe that abortion is wrong because of your religion, and I believe in the right to abortion because of my political philosophy. I guess I would just turn your original argument around: There's no objective way, that we can all agree upon, to define a human being. We can't even all agree on when it is right or wrong to kill a human being, let alone a being we aren't sure is human or not. So, with that much doubt and speculation, a rational society would keep abortion legal, and those members who are against abortion would not get them.
posted by Doug at 10:04 PM on January 20, 2002


bas67: I know quite a few pro-lifers who are working to set up very useful organizations to help women find jobs, get cheap medical insurance, get help with childcare, formula, diapers, etc., after an unexpected pregnancy.

I tend to agree with jmd82's position. Except, as they say, in cases of rape or incest, if a woman chooses to engage in intercourse and becomes accidentally pregnant that is a situation that she needs to take responsibility for. I think that we as a society need to work to provide more safety nets and programs to deal with cases like this. I also think that the adoption process should be much more streamlined, so that these women don't have the duality of raising a child or aborting a fetus to deal with, but can make the less difficult decision to carry the child to term and then give it up for adoption and know that it will go to a good home.

Anyway, I think that there are pro-lifers who recognize that it's silly to demand that these women carry these children, but to force them to live with the economic consequences of it unaided.

People: remember, on both sides there are many, many good people. All pro-choicers don't stand for infanticide, euthanasia and communism, contrary to fundie opinion. All pro-lifers don't hate women. Deal with substance, eschew rhetoric. :)
posted by hanseugene at 10:16 PM on January 20, 2002


owillis and stavros, Pro-life vs. Pro-choice polls are usually skewed by the ignorance of the polling group and the emotional response to the words used. A certain percentage of the polled audience has no idea which group is which and usually picks "pro-life", because literally, well who isn't?

If the poll was pick a word: "life" vs "choice", life would win.

Language is a bitch.
posted by joemaller at 11:18 PM on January 20, 2002


bas67:

I'm pro-choice myself. I just have no respect for the argument that only those directly affected by a dilemma have the right to form policy about it. In a democratically involved society, for better or worse, we expect decisions to be made, in some cases, by those far removed from the effects of their decisions.

All I said about the government is that they have no role in dictating medical proceedures. Thats for you and your doctor.

Certainly the government limits a doctor's latitude in medical procedures. Some drugs and medical devices are banned by the FDA; some medical procedures are as well. A doctor who euthanized a sick infant would be not only stripped of his/her license but prosecuted. Doctors are not immune to government control.

How would you feel if someone made the arguement that medically induced erections were morally wrong so "Viagra" should be outlawed. Stupid huh?

Yes, stupid. But I don't think I believe that only because I can get an erection. My outrage would, I hope, not be manly outrage but the outrage of a thinking person. Also, any woman arguing against such an opinion would have the same credence I would. Because it's a stupid opinion.

I'm really not trying to win a debate or pin anyone down. Like I said, I agree that abortion should be legal. But anyone who argues that abortion should be legal because men are not allowed to make decisions about women's lives is arguing against basic principles of a self-governing society. Similarly, anyone who argues that outlawing abortion would be an outlandish extension of government powers would be unrealistic about the sort of involvement government has with our lives.

It is, I believe, within the government's authority, by precedent, to outlaw abortion. I just believe it would be an error in judgement to do so.
posted by argybarg at 11:31 PM on January 20, 2002


If you believed that abortion is literally murder, as some do, you would hardly let the fact that the murderer is a woman get in the way of trying to make it illegal.
posted by kindall at 11:56 PM on January 20, 2002


I'm pro-choice myself. I just have no respect for the argument that only those directly affected by a dilemma have the right to form policy about it. In a democratically involved society, for better or worse, we expect decisions to be made, in some cases, by those far removed from the effects of their decisions.

But this argument is made in response to anti-choice advocates pulling out their latest and greatest reasons why abortion should be *illegal*. It's an argument that appeals directly to you and me and all those who believe decisions are made "by those far removed from the effects of [their] decisions". It makes sense as a premise, because who can deny that one is not in control of what they want or do not want their bodies to be engaged in? Which makes bas67's suggestion that the similarities of outlawing erections and the current topic all the more absurdly poignant.

(I would have emailed jtm btw argybarg, if only I could have. . .)
posted by crasspastor at 1:45 AM on January 21, 2002


Well, as another point of view:

I think it is quite interesting that it is acceptable to discourage extreme medical measures for people at the end of life who are in a permanently vegetative state, or who are not expected to survive without extensive life-support. In both of these cases, we respect the principle of power of attorney that grants another party the ability to make life or death decisions. (For simplicity sake I am ignoring extreme prolifers who both disagree with power of attorney and with contraception.) As a result, one would think that pregnant woman would have the right to make such decisions about first trimester fetuses, especially when the extensive life-support provided is medically damaging to the woman involved.

I am not presently a big fan of abortion, but one of the things that bothers me is that the same lobbying groups attempting to create a total ban on abortion, also object to emergency contraception, and effective sex education that would include widespread distribution of contraceptives.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:09 AM on January 21, 2002


It sure does seem like the idea of "sanctity of human life" really offends you people.
posted by aaronshaf at 9:54 AM on January 21, 2002


Wait, you're the one who's arguing that "most people agree" on something!

Heh. Yeah, I guess I am, aren't I? That's a valid point. But my response would be that I am using "most people" to justify a shared sense of values, whereas you are trying to use "most people" to justify a specific application of morality. The more simple and fundamental the issue, the more likely it is that "most people" is a good standard to use in a democratic society. (After all, rhetoric about absolute morality is nice, but the only way we know to measure what absolute morality should be is by using the standard of "most people". That kinda goes back to my "pragmatic" approach to the law -- which, incidentially, is kinda useless, because it lets you justify anything that you want. But I don't know another measurement. Also, it's indisputable that the law is built upon morality -- we can't eliminate that entirely).

Rationalize any way we like, you believe that abortion is wrong because of your religion

No, Doug. As it happens, I don't. You're substituting stereotypes for analysis and logical thought again.
posted by gd779 at 10:02 AM on January 21, 2002


mdn: I've been thinking about it, and you may have been right about where the real crux of the issue is. Maybe the answer to the abortion question really does lie in the question, "why do we value human life?". So, if you don't mind, I'd like to hear your answer to that question. I don't think that I understand the pro-choice position on this well enough.
posted by gd779 at 10:08 AM on January 21, 2002


gd779: I think I've already addressed that: consciousness is what makes life valuable. We can't tell if animals have any degree of consciousness or not, but we can be pretty certain they don't have the level of awareness of human beings. And we can conclude that feti are not conscious, due to the lack of brain connection until the third trimester, and the lack of stimulation. What makes a fetus precious is it's potential. Women choose all the time to devote their bodies to nurturing a fetus into being, to develop that potential - but there is no reason they should be forced to do so.

Babies are probably not conscious either, but so much energy has been expended into bringing them into existence, and they are becoming conscious before your eyes, that we give them status as full human beings anyway. While the child is fully dependent on the mother's body (about 26 weeks) we give the power to the mother; after that, the child enters the public domain, so to speak, and society becomes concerned over the potential.
posted by mdn at 11:07 AM on January 21, 2002


Come on, the only reason we blather on about the "sanctity of human life" is because we're human.

If we were, say, wombats, I'd wager we'd be absolutely convinced that wombat life was the most precious thing there is.

Self-interest, anyone?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:10 AM on January 21, 2002


The reason some of us are eager to define a zygote as a human is because doing so eliminates that gray zone between matter and life, and many people are uncomfortable with any gray zone, let alone one as mysterious as that. Legalistic thinking forbids gray zones as well, which is why I think Roe vs. Wade is ultimately doomed; sooner or later, everything will fall under the governance of the Law. Most opponents of such an outcome will be hypocrites, because there's hardly a liberal that hasn't wished for the Law to have infinitely fine control over some particular area of human behavior.

I grow uncomfortable with pro-choice advocates who want the Law on their side; ultimately, that will backfire. How about this: The Constitution does not guarantee a right to an abortion, but we, the thinking people of this time, do. I think that's an accurate statement. This gray zone of existence is not a proper arena in which the Law should function, so keep it away.
posted by argybarg at 11:27 AM on January 21, 2002


I should clarify the above post: When I say some of us define a zygote as a human, I do not include myself.
posted by argybarg at 11:46 AM on January 21, 2002


As usual, the only people who could even possibly claim to be pro-life are those who actually adopt those unwanted children.

The rest of the 'pro-lifers' are just wannabes.
posted by eas98 at 1:32 PM on January 21, 2002


What about those too young, too poor or in too unstable a family situation to adopt children?
posted by argybarg at 1:46 PM on January 21, 2002


I'd say that those are the LAST people who should be telling someone else what to do familywise...

Don't ya think?
posted by eas98 at 2:06 PM on January 21, 2002


Telling someone else what to do familywise? That's not helpful coming from anyone. But holding an opinion about abortion? Anyone is entitled, even the poor, young or unmarried.

I'm sorry. Your position is a nice rhetorical flourish but it's ridiculous. Only those who adopt children can have an opinion on the subject of abortion?

I don't suppose you have an equivalent requirement of those that are pro-choice.
posted by argybarg at 2:25 PM on January 21, 2002


I don't suppose you have an equivalent requirement of those that are pro-choice.

How about, only those who have had abortions and those who have adopted unwanted children, have a say.

Otherwise, one can argue that the pro-choicers do not need a requirement, as they do not tell others what they can and cannot do.
posted by eas98 at 2:32 PM on January 21, 2002


argybarg: thank you for being a voice of reason. I disagree with you on abortion generally, but I can't help but respect your comments in this thread. They seem to indicate a dedication to reason over ideology; it's refreshing.
posted by gd779 at 2:58 PM on January 21, 2002


If we were, say, wombats, I'd wager we'd be absolutely convinced that wombat life was the most precious thing there is.

I think if we could reliably communicate with wombats and relate to them, and they could show us that they were conscious beings, we would be convinced of the "sanctity" of their lives. Currently, human beings are the only creatures we can be (reasonably -no need to go into solipsism) sure have self-awareness.

argybarg, i think you're exactly right about the discomfort with the grey zone.

eas98, I appreciate where you're coming from, but you're clearly viewing the problem from the pro-choice side, where telling a woman she can't have an abortion is forcing her to bring a child she doesn't want into existence. From the pro-life side, the child already exists: we wouldn't claim that only people willing to adopt children have a right to say that parents can't kill their kindergarteners.
posted by mdn at 3:10 PM on January 21, 2002


Having read this entire thread 24 hours after its apparent conclusion, I'm reminded of the fact that I like neither babies nor pro-lifers.
posted by tcobretti at 10:21 PM on January 21, 2002


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