Go ahead and picket!
September 15, 2005 11:39 AM   Subscribe

An ingenious way to deal with protestors. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania is taking pledges for donations based on the number of protestors outside their clinic in Philadelphia between October 1 and November 30. They're going to put up a sign explaining the deal to the protestors, too, so they know that more protestors = more money for Planned Parenthood. (via Boing Boing)
posted by cerebus19 (160 comments total)

 
Damn, that's almost sure to drive some anti-abortion nuts around the bend and hopefully off the road altogether. Which is fine by me.

If you're anti-abortion, then don't have one. But don't try to lay your hangups on other people, its not your choice what other people do to or with their bodies.
posted by fenriq at 11:48 AM on September 15, 2005


The Aut Bar here in Ann Arbor does that every time Fred Phelps comes around. The longer Phelps preaches, the more money gets donated.
Which makes it even more fun to egg him on.
posted by klangklangston at 11:48 AM on September 15, 2005


If you're anti-abortion, then don't have one.

See also: If you're anti-murder then, well, just don't commit them!

I'm not anti-abortion, but geez, have some empathy.
posted by reklaw at 11:53 AM on September 15, 2005


Um, reklaw, I hate to break it to you, but if you're comparing having an abortion to murder, you are anti-abortion.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:57 AM on September 15, 2005


See also: If you're anti-murder then, well, just don't commit them!

I'm not anti-abortion, but geez, have some empathy.


Awful analogy. You just equated murder with abortion, which (for now anyway) is perfectly legal. Last time I checked murder wasn't .
posted by dig_duggler at 11:58 AM on September 15, 2005


Empathy for people shouting at kids who messed up?
Empathy for people trying to force their beliefs on other people?
Empathy for people that resort to bombing medical clinics when their protests aren't successful enough?
Empathy for religiously based protests?

No, no I don't think anti-abortion protestors are deserving of empathy. Until they're willing to approach abortion from a rational perspective and not shout slogans and try to intimidate people into staying away from abortion clinics, nope, until they clean up their act, they get no empathy or sympathy.
posted by fenriq at 11:59 AM on September 15, 2005


We have a winner!

Free speech: 1
Wingnuts: 0
posted by junkbox at 12:01 PM on September 15, 2005


If you're anti-abortion, then don't have one. But don't try to lay your hangups on other people, its not your choice what other people do to or with their bodies.

Begs the question, doesn't it?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:02 PM on September 15, 2005


I'm firmly pro-choice, and even more firmly anti-anti-choice protestors, and I thought this was a great idea when I saw it on BB.

But reklaw has a really good point, and it bothers me that so many pro-choice people can't seem to see it. We won't get anywhere in the discussion until we're more honest and open-minded about what we and others believe. Look, I may think they're wrong, but pro-life/anti-choice people really believe arbortion is murder. So as long as the pro-life arguments consist of saying "well, don't have one then!" there's simply no way to make any progress. Starting from their assumptions, the statement simply has no meaning or logical relevance.

OP: no, reklaw didn't equate abortion with murder. Nor did he defend the protestors. He simply stated what I think is undeniably true: anti-choice people think abortion is murder. So saying "just don't have one" is as morally wrong (from their perspective) as ignoring a murder happening in front of you. And M_B gets points for correct begging of questions.
posted by freebird at 12:04 PM on September 15, 2005


See also: If you're anti-murder then, well, just don't commit them!

If you're anti-tacos then, well, just don't eat them!

Fixed.
posted by NationalKato at 12:11 PM on September 15, 2005


I'm not anti-abortion, but geez, have some empathy.

I have plenty of empathy for those ppl who go into the clinic and are in for one of the toughest decisions they will be making in their lives up to that point, and mebbe forever. I dont have any empathy or sympathy for ppl who want to tell others what to do because some preacher tells them 'god says this is wrong'

Im still trying to figure out how these people have enough time to go out and bother others on a topic that has no effect on them whatsoever.
posted by MrLint at 12:12 PM on September 15, 2005


um, reklaw isn't equating murder with abortion. he's (she's?) empathizing with people who might. not sympathizing, mind you, which would imply that reklaw feels that way, just empathizing.

so stop biting....
posted by es_de_bah at 12:12 PM on September 15, 2005


Here is how abortion rights disappear:
-Roberts gets on the court and so does one more anti-abortion judge.
-The court revises Roe given new technology, now no abortion after the first trimester unless you are in a blue state.
-Red states start putting up administrative hurdles to slow down the process. Suits are brought, but the SC upholds these laws.
-Given that people may not realize conception for more than a month, they may anguish over the decision of what to do for weeks, and then they get slowed down for weeks by administrative delays they all of a sudden are into the second trimester. No abortion for you; please speak to our adoption counselor.
posted by caddis at 12:13 PM on September 15, 2005


Exactly, freebird.

My argument here is that it's just unfair to say "no-one's forcing you to have an abortion", or something similar. When something is going on that you believe to be morally wrong, are you supposed to not protest against it?

Would you tell an animal rights campaigner "if you're anti-animal-experimentation, don't do experiments on animals"? Or to someone against the Iraq war: "if you don't like wars in Iraq, don't start any"? Because that's what it comes down to.
posted by reklaw at 12:14 PM on September 15, 2005


Perhaps Planned Parenthood should consider hiring protesters in order to increase donations. Oh, the irony of it all.
posted by quadog at 12:19 PM on September 15, 2005


It is a great idea. I'm trying to think whether there's any possible counter-strategy.

If the anti-abs sent just one or two very loud and active protesters, could they minimize the donations to PP while doing what they did before? I've never seen one of these protests, so I don't know exactly what they do.

Or if they somehow managed to send a thousand protesters, could they bankrupt the people making the donations? But I see that "your pledge total can be capped at a pre-set amount," and maybe the PP folk would not hold people to their full pledges anyway if such a mass protest occurred.
posted by pracowity at 12:20 PM on September 15, 2005


/me casts Summon Bevets
posted by wakko at 12:22 PM on September 15, 2005


MrLint writes "I don't have any empathy or sympathy for ppl who want to tell others what to do because some preacher tells them 'god says this is wrong'"

Freebird is right. The quality of this debate is abysmal. Americans who disagree about abortion have no idea how to talk to each other.

MrLint: If you honestly can't understand the argument being made by opponents of abortion, you're as much of a brainwashed idiot as you're making them out to be. Abortion is, as you say, a "tough decision" for the very same reasons that lead pro-life Americans to oppose it in general.

So; how do we have a civil debate about abortion rights? How do we find common ground? I have a couple of ideas. First, cut the fucking pointless rhetoric. No more name calling: no more "murderer" or "fascist". And use each side's self-identified label. Pro-choice people are pro-choice. Pro-life people are pro-life. That's simple civility.

As for common ground, I think everyone agrees that it would be an admirable goal to reduce the number of abortions performed in America. From a progressive perspective, this goal could well be achieved through universal access to family planning and sex education. Think about that.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:23 PM on September 15, 2005


The abortions:tacos analogy just ruined my lunch.
posted by horsewithnoname at 12:24 PM on September 15, 2005


I am actively avoiding starting any wars with Iraq AND I have completely foresworn doing experiments on animals but I would still like the option of deciding for myself how I handle a pregnancy, given the pantheon of available options (the LEGAL options).

Informing me of the consequences of my choices (BTW...I think the war in Iraq is a waste and I buy cruelty-free products) is not the same as standing outside the grocery store and hurling invectives at me as I go about my own PERSONAL business.
posted by Griffins_posse at 12:27 PM on September 15, 2005


But they don't agree that it's your personal business. They believe that you are murdering an infant.
posted by callmejay at 12:34 PM on September 15, 2005


Informing me of the consequences of my choices [...] is not the same as standing outside the grocery store and hurling invectives at me as I go about my own PERSONAL business.

But what if I believe your PERSONAL business involves killing children? I don't, but I can't understand this blind-spot so many pro-choicers have. I think we're so girded for battle we're not being honest with ourselves about the debate, and we're radically over-simplifying and demonizing our opponents.

Having said all that:
1) Certainly not going to defend the extremist protestors, they deserve to be demonized.
2) Not going to argue this anymore. It's clear that those who don't get it will just end up labelling me a crypto-pro-lifer or something equally stupid.
posted by freebird at 12:36 PM on September 15, 2005


I'd just like to point out that not everyone walking into Planned Parenthood is getting an abortion. They provide healthcare, counseling, and education too. Maybe that's obvious, but I thought it should be mentioned.

I think this is genius. I know I hate pushing past people who call me a murderer when I'm just on my way in for a pap, or to pick up my 'script. Yes, I think they have a right to share their views, but last time I went there one of them actually tried to GRAB me by the arm. That's too much.
posted by sarahmelah at 12:36 PM on September 15, 2005


And use each side's self-identified label. Pro-choice people are pro-choice. Pro-life people are pro-life. That's simple civility.

Except that those terms effectively frame the debate. I believe in the right to an abortion -- but I'm very much "pro-life." It's not as simple as, say "African-American."

From a progressive perspective, this goal could well be achieved through universal access to family planning and sex education.

The problem is, the same people who are "pro-life" are, overwhelmingly, against access to most forms of family planning and sex education. The same forces that are radicalizing the anti-abortion advocates (again, I'm not "pro-abortion" but...) are radicalizing the groups against family planning and sex education.

I'd love to find common ground. Maybe after Roe's overturned and we get a few decades of dumped babies and other horrors, we'll be ready to come back together as a country and try to actually solve something instead of just "riling up the base."
posted by PlusDistance at 12:40 PM on September 15, 2005


First, cut the fucking pointless rhetoric. No more name calling: no more "murderer" or "fascist".

I couldn't agree more. I personally hold a view that [ gasp ] falls in between the two. The reaction I've received from people has ranged from disbelief to complete dismissal. But this type of thinking is symptomatic of a culture where you're either liberal or conservative, etc., etc. People generally feel more comfortable posturing on one side of an ideological fence rather than actually discussing an issue.
posted by quadog at 12:41 PM on September 15, 2005


It really is difficult to make people understand the point here when they refuse to see it from the other side's point of view.

Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that there was a place for people in your country to take their ten-year-old children and have them killed. You believe that this is wrong, but it is legal, and plenty of people think that it should be their choice what they do with their own children.

Would you protest? Would you scream and shout? Would you grab a few people by the arm? Perhaps you might even kill the evil doctors who were killing those ten-year-old children, eh?

Morally, that's the situation these people find themselves in. Saying that they have no right to interfere in your 'PERSONAL' choices is silly -- as far as they're concerned, what you're doing is so wrong that they will go to any lengths to protest against it. If you saw things the same way, morally, you'd surely be right there with them.
posted by reklaw at 12:42 PM on September 15, 2005


No, it's a great point sarahmelah, I've been in PPs before, and am biologically incapable of getting an abortion. Or a pap ( I think). I think the protestors aren't honest about their full agenda - like how we pull funding from NGOs that provide condoms and healthcare in places that really really really need it. That makes me very angry and I start to demonize my opponents :)
posted by freebird at 12:44 PM on September 15, 2005


Just stop, now.
posted by prostyle at 12:45 PM on September 15, 2005


This is absolutely brilliant.

Personally, I'd take the pro-life/anti-choice movement far more seriously if they were equally devoted to the health and welfare of people who have been born.
posted by I Love Tacos at 12:46 PM on September 15, 2005


It really is difficult to make people understand the point here when they refuse to see it from the other side's point of view.

Exactly. The "if you're against abortion, don't have one" line is a useless piece of rhetoric, because you're arguing against those who believe abortion is more like murder than it is like tacos. The "if you're against murder, don't do it" retort is perfectly valid here, because it illustrates the situation from the opposing point of view. "don't have one" is just preaching to the choir.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:46 PM on September 15, 2005


posted by I Love Tacos


Tacos!
posted by rxrfrx at 12:46 PM on September 15, 2005


reklaw, you must at least admit that not everyone walking into PP is getting an abortion. some are actually Family Planning, which is a good thing considering the teen pregnancy rate in this country. With that in mind, which I'm sure you're already aware of, you can't justify these protestors assaulting (verbally or physically) or blocking any or all of the patrons to these establishments.
posted by NationalKato at 12:48 PM on September 15, 2005


I love this idea!
posted by malaprohibita at 12:49 PM on September 15, 2005


If pro-lifers are against abortions, why are they against contraception and the morning-after pill, too?
posted by muckster at 12:50 PM on September 15, 2005


If pro-lifers are against abortions, why are they against contraception and the morning-after pill, too?

Everybody with me now!
posted by NationalKato at 12:51 PM on September 15, 2005


Personally, I'd take the pro-life/anti-choice movement far more seriously if they were equally devoted to the health and welfare of people who have been born.

Well said.
posted by 27 at 12:52 PM on September 15, 2005


If pro-lifers are against abortions, why are they against contraception and the morning-after pill, too?

Because they're against those, too.

If you're against bad movies, why are you against killing bad directors, too?
posted by callmejay at 12:52 PM on September 15, 2005


I should make some bumper stickers: Abortions aren't tacos. That's certainly cleverer than all the current over-the-top pro-life bumper stickers.

muckster: "If pro-lifers are against abortions, why are they against contraception and the morning-after pill, too?"

Because at least some birth control, and certainly the morning-after pill, acts as an abortifacient.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:53 PM on September 15, 2005


how do we have a civil debate about abortion rights?

Why bother? I don't know anyone whose mind was ever changed by even the most civil discussion among friends. None of the people actually making the progress/devolution (depending on your POV) are interested in subtle middle ground. So no thanks, you can all have your discussions and debates, civil or otherwise. I'm going to be comfortable in my position till someone comes up with actual new FACTS.

Try not to knock over my martini while you're re-arranging those other deck chairs, Captain Smith.
posted by phearlez at 12:53 PM on September 15, 2005


The abortions:tacos analogy just ruined my lunch.

Don't forget to try the fetus fajitas.
posted by ToasT at 12:54 PM on September 15, 2005


Isn't this exactly the same as the one they did in December last year?

Oh yeah, here it is.
posted by longbaugh at 12:55 PM on September 15, 2005


Don't forget to try the fetus fajitas.
posted by ToasT


Who's in charge here, the lunch lady?
posted by NationalKato at 12:56 PM on September 15, 2005


I've been to Planned Parenthood before, and I don't think it was for an abortion. You know, considering I'm a guy.
posted by iamck at 12:57 PM on September 15, 2005


PlusDistance writes "Except that those terms effectively frame the debate. I believe in the right to an abortion -- but I'm very much 'pro-life.'"

But refusing to accept their self-identification is itself an act of confrontation which precludes any productive debate.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:57 PM on September 15, 2005


phearlez writes "I don't know anyone whose mind was ever changed by even the most civil discussion among friends."

I do.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:59 PM on September 15, 2005


anti-choice people think abortion is murder.

That's fine. Great even.

Ever approch these abortion = murder people with a petition that says "yes it is" then demands manditory prison terms of 10 years not to mention an increase in taxes to cover all these new prisons, not to mention the State provided child care of the now motherless childern of people caught in abortion-sting operations?

What is shows is the " anti-choice people think abortion is murder" have not considered the results of their desire.

The counter protesters should embrace the 'anti abortion' crowd on their own terms. Demand the change, and demand the results of these changes. Be sure to video tape the results of the anti-abortion hyprocrites who won't sign the petition.

You get extra bonus points to nail down a state rep.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:01 PM on September 15, 2005


I absolutely understand the fervor of the people who are against abortion. My partner and I are the adoptive parents of a child who would have been aborted had his bio-mom not been incarcerated at the time of her discovery of pregnancy. (Pregnant inmates get more food and better quarters and less work detail where she was.)

However the "killing 10-year-olds" example isn't viable as a 10-year-old is a functional, self-contained life form. It might be more appropriate to say "killing all humans on any form of life support without which, they would die" because a fetus/child/baby/gamete is NOT able to survive without the host in which it is ensconced. When that becomes possible, I am willing to concede that others have a right to offer to host my fetus/child/baby/gamete if I should choose not to. Until then, they must deal with the fact that, for whatever reason, I find myself with a "parasite" that I do not want to continue to support so I choose abortion.

This is all completely theoretical because believe me, I would happily support any baby that came my way. As it happens, we are hoping to adopt again and that little adventure requires a commitment of time and economics that easily rivals and exceeds the normal 9-month wait. My hope is that any woman who would consider an abortion would first consider bringing that fetus to viability and allowing a waiting adoptive family to take it from there. I also hope that any male or any female who is sexually active and capable of contributing to an unwanted pregnancy would first get and use protection against that.

My problem with anti-abortion folks is that they often refuse to acknowledge the need to accessible and low-cost alternatives to avoid inception in the first place. And since the beginning of time, abstinance has not been an effective means to avoid unwanted pregnancy.

Give me a workable alternative to abortion and I am happy to investigate it.
posted by Griffins_posse at 1:03 PM on September 15, 2005


Morning after pills are not abortifacients. They prevent a fertilized egg from implanting itself in the uterus, thereby preventing the onset of pregnancy. They do not terminate pregnancy.
posted by junkbox at 1:04 PM on September 15, 2005


Personally, I'd take the pro-life/anti-choice movement far more seriously if they were equally devoted to the health and welfare of people who have been born.

Simple. Start shoving petitions under their faces asking for that accountability. Get it on film, if you can.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:04 PM on September 15, 2005


Don't forget to try the fetus fajitas.

Fejitus?
posted by joe lisboa at 1:12 PM on September 15, 2005


junkbox: "Morning after pills are not abortifacients. They prevent a fertilizedegg from implanting itself in the uterus, thereby preventing the onsetof pregnancy. They do not terminate pregnancy."

I you're talking about RU486, it most certainly is an abortifacient.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:12 PM on September 15, 2005


reklaw: as far as they're concerned, what you're doing is so wrong that they will go to any lengths to protest against it.

But if that's the case -- and I agree that it is -- they are being stupid because they are not cutting off the perceived evil at its root. They need to change the law, not accost a few people who are obeying the law. Instead of protesting outside abortion clinics, they need to protest legislators's homes, protest Congress, protest the Supreme Court and the homes of its members, protest whoever passed and upheld the laws they think are evil.
posted by pracowity at 1:14 PM on September 15, 2005


>I you're talking about RU486, it most certainly is an abortifacient.

For the most part, we're not. Groups like Planned Parenthood are lobbying for Emergency Contraception (EC), which acts like taking a larger dose of standard birth control pills, and which cannot abort an implanted fetus. These efforts have been thwarted by the administration, who refuses to allow EC to become over-the-counter. If

Opponents have (successfully, it seems) tried to conflate EC with something like RU-486. But they are NOT the same thing, nor do they have the same effect.
posted by occhiblu at 1:16 PM on September 15, 2005


Morning after pills are not abortifacients. They prevent a fertilized egg from implanting itself in the uterus

Doesn't fertilized egg = conception? A whole lot of pro-lifers think conception is when a cell becomes a person. (And yes, they're aware that a lot of these "people" "die" on their own without morning after pills.)

If you're anti-murder then, well, just don't commit them!

A better retort, from the pro-lifer point of view would be "If you don't like slavery, don't buy a slave," since they believe there is currently a whole class of persons who are not recognized by the law as people whose lives and rights should be protected by the state.
posted by straight at 1:16 PM on September 15, 2005


Meh. Until the people who have a problem with abortion start voting for tax increases to care for homeless people, medical treatment for mothers so they don't feel totally borked when getting care for their baby, actual freaking health care for people that isn't reliant on some HMO's need to maximize profit, more teachers/schools so kids can get a quality education in this country and basically in general giving a shit about someone after they're born then maybe I'll start listening to their arguments.

And how about not demonizing the pill/condoms? It's funny, when people try to be responsible about their sex life they have fundamentalists screeching about how immoral they're being. But I thought taking responsibility for your actions was a moral thing to do. There is abstinence, yeah how's that been working out lately?

Oh and maybe dropping support for capital punishment. It's not okay to kill someone, but it's okay to kill someone. That just makes my head hurt.
posted by Talanvor at 1:17 PM on September 15, 2005


Well, if they're against murder, then they should be against the back-alley practitioners that will re-emerge in force if they ever manage to get Roe overturned. Honestly, I think they need a history lesson. Desperate people, made desperate by societies that marginalize and ridicule them, seek extreme remedies, which often enough meant coat-hanger abortions, a trip to the ER and then the "Septic OB Ward" and then a permanent residence six feet under.

In order to have civil debate, the vocal, wacko, clinic patient attacking majority need to begin to value whole grown human women over the "preborn."
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:18 PM on September 15, 2005


If you are talking only about larger doses of regular oral contraceptives, then I agree that normally does not act as an abortifacient. However, although OCs are usually not abortifacients, in those few low-dose-pill users who have breakthrough ovulation with fertilization, the progesterone component of the pill can act as an abortifacient.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:19 PM on September 15, 2005


As many have pointed out, I think a larger issue is that a great number of people going into a PP clinic are trying to prevent getting pregnant in the first place, not get an abortion.

Which seems like it'd be a great place to start a conversation with both sides, if there wasn't such ridiculous "all birth control is evil and forces kids to have sex" rhetoric coming from the White House and the religious right.
posted by occhiblu at 1:19 PM on September 15, 2005


monju_bosatsu, I'm not sure I'm following your argument, but from the link above:

Emergency Contraception Is Not Abortion

Emergency contraception cannot end a pregnancy. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), "Emergency contraceptive pills are not effective if the woman is pregnant; they act by delaying or inhibiting ovulation, and/or altering tubal transport of sperm and/or ova (thereby inhibiting fertilization), and/or altering the endometrium (thereby inhibiting implantation)" (FDA, 1997). A recent study found that most often, ECPs reduce the risk of pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation (Marions, et al., 2002). A more recent study suggests that ECPs only work by preventing ovulation or fertilization, and have no effect on implantation (Croxatto, et al, 2003). Emergency contraception reduces the risk of pregnancy and helps prevent the need for abortion; it itself is not a form of abortion (Grimes, 1997; Guillebaud, 1998; Hughes, 1972; Van Look & Stewart, 1998).
posted by occhiblu at 1:21 PM on September 15, 2005


This is a wonderful idea--really excellent.
posted by amberglow at 1:22 PM on September 15, 2005


I think the more common "morning-after" medication is a high dose of birth control pills which most certainly is not a abortifacient.
posted by kozad at 1:26 PM on September 15, 2005


In general, I think that's correct. The operative sentence is this: "A more recent study suggests that ECPs only work by preventing ovulation or fertilization, and have no effect on implantation (Croxatto, et al, 2003)." However, I think it's overstating the conclusions of the study to suggest that OCs never affect implantation. As I noted above, in the rare case of a low-dose-pill user who has breakthrough ovulation with fertilization, the progesterone component of the pill can act as an abortifacient. This is, of course, the rare exception and is not how OCs normally work. However, if you are concerned about this risk, it's worth knowing about.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:27 PM on September 15, 2005


I see what you're saying.

What I'm finding frustrating in general, though, is that BC pills are legal and in use, and EC works the same way, but it's being demonized as this brand-new immoral "abortion pill."
posted by occhiblu at 1:31 PM on September 15, 2005


Wow, this thread got out of hand fast. Wakko even cast a Summon Bevets and no one even blinked.
posted by JeffK at 1:37 PM on September 15, 2005


... but it's being demonized as this brand-new immoral "abortion pill."

Yeah, that falls into the overblow rhetoric category discussed above. It's unfortunate that the two sides can't rationally discuss the issue.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:37 PM on September 15, 2005


I believe in the right to an abortion -- but I'm very much "pro-life."

According to these two, who have been touring colleges speaking on the topic (among other things), this is increasingly the stance taken by younger people today. We pro-choicers need to come to grips with the fact that we cannot continue to frame the debate as lacking any common ground, a stance many seem to be taking here. It is perfectly reasonable to support choice and yet mourn every abortion.

I believe Hillary Clinton started staking out this territory earlier this year, or perhaps late last. While this causes the older pro-choice guard (like my mother, who works at a clinic) to cringe a bit, it is the socially and politically right move to make.

And then there's this take on the subject, which I must admit I find simultaneously a wonderful expression of personal power and slightly off-putting.
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:41 PM on September 15, 2005


A better retort, from the pro-lifer point of view would be "If you don't like slavery, don't buy a slave," since they believe there is currently a whole class of persons who are not recognized by the law as people whose lives and rights should be protected by the state.
posted by straight at 4:16 PM EST on September 15 [!]


I could say the very same to describe an expectant mother — the developing fetus is, literally, a parasitic organism developing inside another human being. The mother must devote nutrients and gestation space to this organism for nine months without complaint.

To decide to remove choice from the mother as to whether to carry the fetus to term, who's the slave in this relationship, rhetorically speaking?
posted by Rothko at 1:41 PM on September 15, 2005


All anti-abortionists need to do to gain empathy is remove religion from the discussion. Once they do that, they open up a valid debate.

Then, were they to support contraceptives like condoms, their cause would gain strength.

Until then, they scream and shout but have no real advice to give a young person. Their cause will never succeed.
posted by Dantien at 1:43 PM on September 15, 2005


I may think they're wrong, but pro-life/anti-choice people really believe arbortion is murder.

And I would respect that view, if so many of them weren't also so virulently against contraception (in any form) and comprehesive sex education. I myself am "pro-life" in the sense that I wouldn't have one myself (I think) and am saddened when someone needs to get one. But I don't argue with the people who make that choice that they are making a huge mistake, or try to prevent them from doing so. Instead, I do volunteer sex ed classes, I hand out condoms, I give people information on various forms of contraception that are available (including EC), and I advocate for better funding for family planning, reproductive health care, and services for mothers and children.

At the same time, until we have a perfect world wherein everyone is provided with a truly comprehensive sexual education before they become sexually active, wherein everyone who wants or needs it has access to whatever contraceptives work best for them, wherein no woman or girl is forced into sex against her will or without her knowledge, wherein our culture provides real support for all children...until we have that world I am going to fight for safe, legal, and accessible abortions, whether I like them or not.

So many of the so called "pro-life" activists care very little for the actual children. Nor do they care for the mothers. Sex (for women) is wrong and pregnancy is a consequence--a punishment. The scariest of them see women as little more than broodmares and incubators. To quote a protestor I met as I was handing out condoms a couple of weeks ago, "My sperm, my voice! Don't silence me!" Ick.
posted by kayjay at 1:46 PM on September 15, 2005


Part of the problem is that taking Bill Clinton's idea that abortions should be "safe, legal, and rare" (which I think pretty much all pro-choice advocates would agree with) is that it's founded on *everyone* having good access to reproductive health centers, good access to birth control, and good access to comprehensive sex education. All of which the most visual pro-lifers (including the President) are *also* protesting.

Those things work to decrease abortion rates. When people who are anti-abortion are also against the things that decrease abortions, it can be hard to find a compromise position without wanting to tear all your hair out.
posted by occhiblu at 1:46 PM on September 15, 2005


(Seems like kayjay beat me to most of my argument!)
posted by occhiblu at 1:47 PM on September 15, 2005


As I noted above, in the rare case of a low-dose-pill user who has breakthrough ovulation with fertilization, the progesterone component of the pill can act as an abortifacient. This is, of course, the rare exception and is not how OCs normally work. However, if you are concerned about this risk, it's worth knowing about.

And for this reason, some pharmacists are actually refusing to fill or re-fill prescriptions for regular birth control pills as well.
posted by kayjay at 1:50 PM on September 15, 2005


I don't normally weigh-in on this kind of debate because as someone upthread commented, I've never met anyone who's mind has been changed by this discussion.

Having said that, though, I haven't actually seen a post from someone who would go as far as to say that they believe that abortion is immoral (although some posters have suggested putting yourselves in the shoes of those who feel that way). I am someone who genuinely feels that abortion is immoral.

I'm not religious or conservative. I am a moralist. I was also adopted as an infant.

My highest power is humanity, and abortion fucks with that. In many cases, adoption is a viable option and abortion is an easy out. Empathy for the human life (potential human life?) is outweighed by financial concerns, careerism, or fear of a judgmental society. In cases where these are the factors, I say shame on the woman for not being stronger -it's got to be hell to live with your decision. Also, shame on a society that makes abortion more attractive to a scared young woman than adoption and puts a stigma on birth control.

But simply because society is screwed up, doesn't make immoral choices okay. Morality trumps legality. It is also immoral to attack a PP clinic, by the way.

In cases of a reasonable danger to the mother in giving birth -things get much more difficult. I would be pro-choice in that circumstance.
posted by MotorNeuron at 1:50 PM on September 15, 2005



(Seems like kayjay beat me to most of my argument!)


I think some people earlier in this thread beat me to parts of it, too.
posted by kayjay at 1:51 PM on September 15, 2005


Timeline for Roe v. Wade to disappear in the next 11 months: Interview with Terry Cosgrove of Personal Pac.
posted by ao4047 at 1:51 PM on September 15, 2005


If pro-lifers are against abortions, why are they against contraception and the morning-after pill, too?

Because you shouldn't need/want contraception. The only time you should be having sex is when you are married and are trying to have children.
posted by deborah at 1:52 PM on September 15, 2005


Where I grew up in Vermont, Planned Parenthood was the only place within reasonable driving distance where one could find non-latex condoms. Are the anti-abortion protestors pro latex allergy? Because that kills, too!

(Not that we had any protestors. It was Vermont. Duh.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:54 PM on September 15, 2005


But simply because society is screwed up, doesn't make immoral choices okay. Morality trumps legality.

I'm not sure this is so cut and dry. Time to pull Les Miserables off the shelf.
posted by Rothko at 1:58 PM on September 15, 2005


The sad truth is that most of us know (or are related to) someone who's had an abortion - we just don't know we know it.
Back in the Dark Ages, both sister and mother had abortions (at different times, of course). Of course, they were illegal, so they risked their lives and future fertility - but they both felt they had no choice. I can't emphasize this enough - these were law-abiding, straight, married, women who felt that, under their specific circumstances, this was the best choice they could make. My mother said her 'doctor' was drunk, there was no nurse present, and the room was filthy. She was terrified, and there was no one she could tell - that she survived is a testament to her immune system, if nothing else.
So, do we acknowledge that occasionally women must make very tough decisions, decisions which affect their life and the potential life of another human, or do we just say "Oh no, that can't be legal" and force them into the back alleys, and into the (dirty) hands of illegal abortionists.
No easy answers here, but think about all the women in your life and wonder...
posted by dbmcd at 2:00 PM on September 15, 2005


I blame teleology.
(see also: kayjay's 3rd graf, above)
posted by joe lisboa at 2:01 PM on September 15, 2005


In many cases, adoption is a viable option and abortion is an easy out. Empathy for the human life (potential human life?) is outweighed by financial concerns, careerism, or fear of a judgmental society. In cases where these are the factors, I say shame on the woman for not being stronger

Nice.

That conveniently ignores that pregnancy and childbirth are dangerous conditions, with near-certain levels of serious injury, apocalyptically high levels of grievous bodily harm (ie, c-sections), and, even to this day, a nontrivial risk of death. I'm too lazy to find the numbers again, but you're at greater risk of death spending nine months pregnant than you are from spending a year as a firefighter, which is an activity most people would call "insanely dangerous."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:02 PM on September 15, 2005


"near-certain levels of serious injury"
"apocalyptically high levels of grievous bodily harm"


I call bullshit! (And sensationalistic)
posted by MotorNeuron at 2:12 PM on September 15, 2005


Oh! and please don't get me started on the "except in the cases of incest or rape" caveat for those against abortion. THAT is a truly suspect argument. Either it's life and should be supported at all costs until inception or it isn't (if you're of the "it's a baby from the moment of conception" camp).

What's different about human life conceived through an act of violence or contrary to the current standards of our particular society?
posted by Griffins_posse at 2:12 PM on September 15, 2005


Also an excellent point, ROU_Xenophobe.
posted by kayjay at 2:16 PM on September 15, 2005


My highest power is humanity, and abortion fucks with that.

Well, there's the rub. A lot of people don't agree that abortion fucks with humanity, because they have a different definition of humanity.

I can't say I know exactly where the line should be drawn, but I am sure that a 3 day old fetus (let alone stem cells) isn't in any way human.

That's not to say abortion shouldn't be discouraged. Given the shortage of babies to adopt in this country, I certainly think that's a better alternative. But destroying cells that have the potential to become human is simply not the same (or close to) killing a human being (which, of course, isn't always against the law. Some anti-abortion groups seem to think that self-defense is fine when used against adults but not fetuses).
posted by spira at 2:19 PM on September 15, 2005


I call bullshit! (And sensationalistic)

I note from your profile, MotorNeuron, that you're a man. I was a bit surprised to find upon looking at the AskMeFi questions you've posted that you're a father, though, because it surprises me that any man whose partner has gone through pregnancy and childbirth could say the things you said. I doubt I would've before becoming a father, but I sure as hell wouldn't now.

There are all sorts of reasons why a woman might wish not to be pregnant. Some of them are health-related, some of them could relate to her job or family life (maybe her abusive boyfriend will beat her up if he knows she's pregnant). You just don't know, and it's appalling that you would call shame on women in general who aren't "strong" enough to suit you.
posted by cerebus19 at 2:25 PM on September 15, 2005


Getting slightly back to the topic of clinic protestors, I've run into rather a lot of them, both as a Planned Parenthood volunteer and as a user of their clinics. There are no hard and fast rules for what they are like, but I've noticed some trends.

1. There are usually far more male protestors than female protestors.

2. Most (though not all) of the female protestors I have encountered have offered sincere and heartfelt pleas on behalf of the "children of the future".

3. Most (though not all) of the really scary and aggressive protestors have been male.

4. Most (though not all) of the protestors carrying graphic signs have been male.

5. Every protestor that has called me a whore and a murderess have been male. (Several did so while also leering at my chest.)

These anecdotal encounters strengthen my belief that a great deal of noise from the "pro-life" camp has very little to do with concern over murdered babies.
posted by kayjay at 2:27 PM on September 15, 2005


cerebus19 writes "I was a bit surprised to find upon looking at the AskMeFi questions you've posted that you're a father, though, because it surprises me that any man whose partner has gone through pregnancy and childbirth could say the things you said."

ROU did say that pregnancy/childbirth involves "apocalyptically high levels of grievous bodily harm". Now, we've never had an apocalypse, so it's hard to say exactly what that entails, but didn't that language strike you as a wee bit overblown?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:37 PM on September 15, 2005


MotorNeuron, I would suggest you actually talk to some women who have had abortions (and not just the ones the prol-lifers trot out) before you decide that *you* know that their abortions were "unnecessary". And when you say "financial reasons"...you are aware that this includes worries over whether she'll be able to pay the rent, eat, and perhaps also feed her existing children, right? Because those are hardly small reasons.

*You* say "shame on the woman" huh? Well who the hell are *you* and how many babies have you carried to term? Ever risked gestational diabetes, blood clots, breech birth, a ripped perineum, or any of the myriad of permanent medical aftereffects of pregnancy? Ever been a poor pregnant woman without access to health insurance, adequate food, prenatal care, or a job that gives you maternity leave? Adoption won't solve those problems.
posted by emjaybee at 2:43 PM on September 15, 2005


Oh and maybe dropping support for capital punishment. It's not okay to kill someone, but it's okay to kill someone. That just makes my head hurt.
Talanvor
This is exactly what freebird and reklaw are talking about. If you honestly cannot think of how somone could both believe in putting a killer to death and saving what they see as an innocent life, then you're not even trying to see the other side.

rough ashlar

That's not a very strong argument, either, and is also evidence of not trying to see what the other side is saying. You seem to be saying that the consequences of the pro-lifers beliefs would be difficult and costly, so they're wrong, and once they see how costly and hard it would be, they'd give up. If someone truly believes an act is morally wrong, the difficulty or expense of the belief is irrelevant, as doing what's right trumps everything.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:45 PM on September 15, 2005


I always get to the bit when I'm pompously saying "so where ARE the anti-abortion activists who would disrupt their own lives to babysit for a young mum with an unplanned kid, become a mentor in a rubbish school to show they cared about the results of their policy etc instead of just getting finger-wagging kicks from an insufferably righteous - and unhelpful - position".

And then I think - well, what if I did meet one of these principled and practical folk? What would I say then?
The answer is: I don't know. Certainly, nothing more substantial than "well, so we can't agree?". Which somewhat takes the wind out of my usual comforting outrage.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:46 PM on September 15, 2005


If you honestly cannot think of how somone could both believe in putting a killer to death and saving what they see as an innocent life, then you're not even trying to see the other side.

I don't think this is the case. If one's objection to abortion is based on that idea that every life is sacred, as it often seems to be, then supporting war/the death penalty makes them hypocrites. At least the Catholic church is consistent in this regard.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:52 PM on September 15, 2005


Metafilter: Don't forget to try the fetus fajitas.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 3:03 PM on September 15, 2005


Abortion, blah blah blah - Masturbation is murder.
posted by iamck at 3:06 PM on September 15, 2005


Look, I may think they're wrong, but pro-life/anti-choice people really believe abortion is murder... So saying "just don't have one" is as morally wrong (from their perspective) as ignoring a murder happening in front of you.

I agree that understanding the other side's point of view is important. But I can't buy this. A select, radical few of the No-Choice crowd may truly believe that abortion really is murder - the ones who shoot abortion doctors and bomb abortion clinics - but I have a very hard time believing that much of clinic-picketing crowd believe this in any deep or meaningful sense.

Simply because there are much more productive ways to reduce the number of abortions that happen. Like adopting lots of children, or encouraging frank, accurate sex education, or promoting access to birth control, condoms (which prevent fertilization outright, and which offer other health benefits) most especially. But they don't seem to be doing any of those things, and they are in fact hindering some of those efforts by picketing clinics and harassing patients.

Myself, I believe that long-lived, highly-visible social/political groups - be they governments, political parties, activist groups, cults, clubs, religions, business departments, and what have you - are the ones that act to further their own existence first and foremost, as opposed to acting to achieve their stated goals. I see clinic pickets as effective publicity stunts, but lousy abortion prevention. If I'm right - if the continued existence of the movement, and the attendant never-ending struggle against legal abortion, is the true goal - then no amount of empathy with their cause is likely to score you any points.
posted by Western Infidels at 3:07 PM on September 15, 2005


And when you say "financial reasons"...you are aware that this includes worries over whether she'll be able to pay the rent, eat, and perhaps also feed her existing children, right? Because those are hardly small reasons.

That's a good point, emjaybee. Poverty, however, does not make a wrong act right. Would you argue that an impoverished mother should be allowed to deal drugs due to her financial situation?

Should we as a society address poverty? Hell yes! Should a pregnant woman not want for health care? Yes. I would argue that these shortcomings have to be addressed prior to changing abortion law.

I've already written that my stance changes on high risk pregnancies. Let's not overstate the risk of pregnancy to a healthy mother, though. It's not apocalyptic.

On preview: Western Infidels is 100% correct.
posted by MotorNeuron at 3:23 PM on September 15, 2005


This seems like a place sensible people want to stay out of, but I guess i"m not very sensible.

The point about how many pro-live activists should worry more about contraception and sex-ed has it's parallel with the pro-choice camp.

It's always seemed strange to me that pro-choice people adopt a label about choice when it seems like what they fight for is more "safe and legal access to abortion", which is not the same thing as choice. Obviously guaranteeing the right to choose invovles more than just legal abortions -- there has to be the de facto ability to choose an abortion as well. The ability to choose without undo hardship (medical danger, travel to another state, waiting periods etc. etc.). So the "pro-choice" side works on those aspects of inhibition of choice as well.

But if you're really pro-choice, it seems to me, then you really want to open things up so that a woman can choose an abortion or choose not to have an abortion. This is where I think the pro-choice side fails to live up to its name. Sure, it recognizes that you can choose not to have an abortion, but it doesn't seem to be interested in removing the de facto barriers to that choice -- carrying a pregnancy to term can also involve hardships. If people who are pro-choice really want to give women the power to choose, shouldn't they also be working to remove those hardships and make pregnancy and birth a more viable choice as well?

So instead of saying "you need to understand that some women are single and worry about feeding their other kids and have no insurance" so they should be able to choose an abortion", why doesn't the pro-choice side say "We need safe and legal abortion and we need to make sure that parents have the resources they need to raise children if they choose, and that way poor single women without insurance can really have a choice."?

Why aren't abortion laws, and financial conditions for single mothers, violence against women and health insurance, and daycare pro-choice issues? It seems to me that if you're promoting the right to choose, they should be. If they're not, then you're promoting access to abortion, and nothing more. To call it promoting choice is a misnomer.
posted by duck at 3:26 PM on September 15, 2005


Would you argue that an impoverished mother should be allowed to deal drugs due to her financial situation?

I don't see why not.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:29 PM on September 15, 2005


I think this is a good tactic because I think it will work, BUT...
It doesn't have to work. Think about how you actually donate to a walkathon, what really goes through your mind. I'd guess you think about how much money you're willing to donate and then work backwards guessing how many miles or laps the person will walk and divide to get your per unit donation.

This should work pretty much the same way, people guess how many protestors will show up and donate based on this guess. If the protestors ignore this and show up despite the donations people will donate less in the future because that's how people work. I'm not saying it's a bad idea, it's a good idea, it gets press and may encourage more donations and create a disincentive to protest, those are wins for Planned Parenthood. It's just that this scheme is only as effective as the credence the protesters give it because you don't donate the same per mile to a kid you think will run 10 miles that you do to a kid that you think will run 30 miles.
posted by I Foody at 3:32 PM on September 15, 2005


Doesn't fertilized egg = conception?

Nope, wish it did, though; if it did, then my wife and I would have gotten pregnant through in-vitro fertilization much earlier, because we had lots of fertilized eggs, but they wouldn't implant.
posted by davejay at 3:35 PM on September 15, 2005


If people who are pro-choice really want to give women the power to choose, shouldn't they also be working to remove those hardships and make pregnancy and birth a more viable choice as well?

Only if you have your head entirely up your ass, duck. Show me a pro-choice advocate opposed to an increased social saftey net for mothers (single or otherwise) and I'll gladly help you remove your cranium from your rectum.
posted by joe lisboa at 3:38 PM on September 15, 2005


Slightly less bitterly: you're bending so far backwards to appear both populist, contrarian and devilishly advocatagious that you've snapped whatever tenuous connection to the reality on the ground you had.

Would you prefer an analogy?
posted by joe lisboa at 3:40 PM on September 15, 2005


duck, I'll confine myself to saying that, as I and others have noted, Planned Parenthood clinics provides most, if not all, of the services you seem to find lacking from the pro-choice side of the debate.
posted by occhiblu at 3:47 PM on September 15, 2005


kayjay is very correct about how "protestor zealots" act. I haven't seen any comments by protestors here. I would like to hear their viewpoint. I was on "the other side." I was a volunteer escort for a clinic (not Planned Parenthood) where my job was to walk the city block with patients on their way from the parking lot to the clinic.

The vast majority of the angry, in-your-face protestors were male. One was a man I had worked with who broke into the clinic and threw paint and wrecked records. He believed devils worked there.

As the patient stepped out of her car the protestors stood at the edge of the parking lot. (Police order not to come on the lot.) I stood by. I was one of two escorts. Often my volunteer partner was at the other end of the block with another patient. I would wait until the patient came to the edge of the lot myself. They had been told there would be protestors. They had been told there would be an escort. What they saw was a pack of people screaming, crying, pleading, threatening. There were signs of fetuses much older than hers doctored to look as bloody as possible. There were hands thrust in her face holding fetus dolls. Again, much more developed than hers. Even though I wore an orange escort vest it would take a moment for her to understand I was there to help her.

She had made a difficult decision. She had made an appointment. She was scared of the procedure. She was scared of what her future would bring. Now she was scared of what the pack would do to her.

The pack was usually 6 to 10 strong. They would immediately surround her. They couldn't legally touch her. They couldn't legally impede her progress. They could legally in one ear call her a murderer, child abuser, bitch, whore, slut, and whatever other invectives came to their fertile imaginations. In the other ear the "good cop" would beg her to stop, promise free health care, an adoptive family, a place for her and her child, and whatever other fantasy scenarios they could concoct.

As an escort I couldn't legally touch a protestor or they me. They couldn't legally impede my progress. Nevertheless, it happened often to the female volunteers. The male protestors were bullies. And as bullies they were afraid of someone their size. That didn't stop them from screaming at me when there wasn't a patient available. I was immune to their comments. They didn't know me.

I only lasted about 18 months. I had to quit the day my hands balled up and I knew I was looking to punch one of the most vocal protestors. I've blanked out the words he used on the girl that day. I hope she has too. I can't forget the look in his eyes. His mouth pulled back like a rabid monkey. The smirk he'd adopt when there wasn't a patient for him to abuse. He liked the yelling. He was thrilled by the act. Each morning we'd meet in front of the clinic about the same time. His eyes bright, alert. His body tense. He'd jump up and down with his excess energy. He'd talk about the "battle" (His word.) we were to have that day. I firmly believe the man thought he was in a war.

He was right. We were. We still are. I don't believe there is a middle ground where we can meet. Either abortion ends the life of a human or it stops the progress of cells without a soul. How you believe decides your position; no matter how much empathy you have for the other side or those stuck in the middle.
posted by ?! at 4:00 PM on September 15, 2005 [1 favorite]


Only if you have your head entirely up your ass, duck. Show me a pro-choice advocate opposed to an increased social saftey net for mothers (single or otherwise) and I'll gladly help you remove your cranium from your rectum.

I was unclear above. I wrote "pro-choice people" by which I mean the pro-choice movement. While the individuals within the movement may support these things (and probably do, as you point out), these things don't seem to be seen as part of the pro-choice movement.

Pro-choice people may support these things, but they don't seem to be incorporated within the movement itself. If they are, then the movement is doing a poor pr job for itself, since I've never heard of a pro-choice group lobbying for affordable housing. My quick check of the web site for Mass Naral and Naral and Planned Parenthood* finds no mention of these issues. The individals within these groups may support them, but there's no sign that the groups do.

And the kind of thing I'm talking about would not and could not be provided at a clinic. I'm talking about changes that would be system-wide -- one person, even one unskilled person should be able (without great hardship or humiliating paperwork, or debit cards that tell them what flavour cereal they're allowed to eat) to support their children. Women (and men, and children) should be able to go to the doctor of their choice and receive the medical care they agree with their doctors that they need.

Now if pro-choice groups are pushing for these things, then I apolgize for having misspoken and as I suggested already, maybe they need to do a better job of getting the word out there that they're doing these things. I'm happy to be shown the pro-choice groups at the affordable housing hearings, or drawing up discussion papers on (all-around, not just reproductive) healthcare for the poor and unemployed, or discussing quality of schools in poor neighbourhoods, etc. etc. Show me.

* Yes, planned parenthood has clinics that can deal with some aspects of healthcare, but that's a far cry from making it part of the platform they lobby for that everyone should get all the healtcare they need.
posted by duck at 4:07 PM on September 15, 2005


If pro-lifers are against abortions, why are they against contraception and the morning-after pill, too?

...

Because they're against those, too.

If you're against bad movies, why are you against killing bad directors, too?


This comment still boggles my mind. Are you being intentionally dense? Contraception prevents the need for abortions.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:11 PM on September 15, 2005


one person, even one unskilled person should be able (without great hardship or humiliating paperwork, or debit cards that tell them what flavour cereal they're allowed to eat) to support their children

Try Cuba, commie.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:12 PM on September 15, 2005


I call bullshit! (And sensationalistic)

Well then, let's break it down.

"near-certain levels of serious injury"

Almost every woman who gives birth suffers enough physical trauma that the docs want to keep her in the hospital for a day or two, minimum, and suffer lingering medium-term disability.

Now I've got a baseball bat over here. If I used it, or my feet, to give you enough physical trauma that the physicians wanted to keep you in for a day or two and that you'd be feeling a few weeks later, would you honestly characterize that as no big deal? Or, when you were talking to cops, prosecutors, and civil lawyers, that you might treat it as a serious injury?

"apocalyptically high levels of grievous bodily harm"

In the US, about a fourth of all births are through c-section.

I put it to you that when someone uses a knife to cut through your abdominal wall, slice open an internal organ, and then pulls that internal organ out onto your abdomen and look at it, you have suffered grievous bodily harm. I mean, this is Jeff Foxworthy easy. When your internal organs aren't internal anymore, you might be a victim of grievous bodily harm.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:14 PM on September 15, 2005


You're asking an advocacy group to diversify to the point of irrelevency. That's what political parties are for.

The debate about women's healthcare and reproductive options is just that. It is not a debate about affordable housing, or overall health insurance. There are other debates for that. Many people can, and do, participate in many of those debates. You don't just have to stick with one.

And really, I would argue that all the things you want to lump into the pro-choice platform need to be taken OUT of it. Affordable daycare, for example, is not going to happen while it can be ghetto-ized as a "women's issue," as if men didn't have kids that need care. And I know too many men who bow out of any debate that seems to be about women, either because they dont' think they have a place there or they're not interested. Which means that as long as these family/life issues get called "women's issues," society as a whole will ignore them.
posted by occhiblu at 4:15 PM on September 15, 2005


You're asking an advocacy group to diversify to the point of irrelevency. That's what political parties are for.

It's extremely relevant to the extent to which a woman has a de facto choice about carrying a pregnancy to term and/or raising a child. If you're goal is to promote that choice then it's not irrelevant. Without those things, women don't have real reproductive choice.

What I'm trying to say is that the goal is not to promote choice, but to ensure access to safe and legal abortion. My issue is not with the movement, but with the name. Call it pro-abortion-access and that seems like an accurate description. But if you say you're fighting for choice then you should be fighting for those things that open up all choices, not just some. If you're only putting effort into opening up one option, then that's fine and there's nothing wrong with that, but it's not fighting for choice. It's fighting for one option. (that does'nt mean you have something against the other options, just that you're not fighting for them).

Again, nothing wrong with fighting for one option even though you support the other options to. But if there's a movement fighting for access to Option A, it's a movement for access to option A. Not for choice.
posted by duck at 4:25 PM on September 15, 2005


Oh, and just to clarify, I"m not suggesting that Naral or Planned Parenthood or any other organization should take on these other issues, necessarily. I'm just saying that because they don't (and possibly can't and shouldn't) "pro-choice" is a misleading name.

Now there are obviously more important things in the world than what movements decide to call themselves, and if this movement wants to call itself something misleading, I'm not terribly upset about it, especially since "pro-life" is misleading too, as others have noted. I was just saying the name has always struck me as strange and inappropriate.

Again, my issue is with the name, not the movement. And my issue with the name is admittedly trivial.
posted by duck at 4:33 PM on September 15, 2005


I'm staying out of this after making my initial points, but I wanted to mention that there's been some really good comments amongst the expected noise. One of the nice things about thinking honestly about where the other side is coming from is that you can come up with much better arguments to use against them.

I also have to recognize that I probably ascribe too much rational and honest thought to the pro-life side. I have no patience for the "warriors" outside the clinics; what I've kinda forgotten is that the vast majority of pro-lifers are at that level, so debating semantics about the meaning and subtle gradations of "life" and "murder" is really beside the point. The heartless and hurtful shit they pull negates any possible claim to "doing the moral thing based on what they believe in". They are the uncompromising hypocritical fanatics who, through the ages and in all movements, are the closest thing I see to evil.
posted by freebird at 4:35 PM on September 15, 2005


?! writes "He was right. We were. We still are. I don't believe there is a middle ground where we can meet."

Well, you're certainly not going to find middle ground with the extremist thugs on the other side. But you'd be mistaken to think that those thugs are representative of everyone who thinks that abortion rights in the U.S. should be limited. And there aren't really very many extremists, loud as they may be.

The majority of Americans want abortion to be legal, but there's also a majority that would be happy to see some limitations on current rights (parental notification, limits on late-term abortions, etc.). If there were any political will among this nation's leadership, I believe that a middle ground could be found that appeals to both of these majorities. As a progressive, I would like to see this compromise crafted in such away to as increase the availability of family planning resources and sex education. It sucks to have to compromise, but it's a political reality. And I really think we could find a way to eke a net benefit out of it.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:43 PM on September 15, 2005


First reaction: This is fucking awesome. What genius.
Second reaction: Well, what's wrong with people protesting?
Third reaction: Oh yeah, all that clinic-blocking and doctor-killing.

Rock on, PP.
posted by scarabic at 5:02 PM on September 15, 2005


How to be Pro-Life:

1) Abolish the death penalty. At best, it's an instrument of legalized revenge; at worst, it ends an innocent life.

2) Support universal health care.

3) Support a reasonable welfare program.

4) Support strong public education programs.

5) Encourage the widespread use of contraceptives. (This has a strong inverse correlation to the incidence of abortion. The legality of abortion does not.)

6) Invest in improved methods of famine relief.

7) Don't abuse third world workers, with safety standards that would not be accepted in the first world.

8) Drive a car that will do the minimum harm to others in the case of an accident (and when possible, don't drive at all.)

9) Eat tacos every day.
posted by I Love Tacos at 5:32 PM on September 15, 2005


A better retort, from the pro-lifer point of view would be "If you don't like slavery, don't buy a slave," since they believe there is currently a whole class of persons who are not recognized by the law as people whose lives and rights should be protected by the state.
posted by straight at 4:16 PM EST on September 15 [!]

I could say the very same to describe an expectant mother — the developing fetus is, literally, a parasitic organism developing inside another human being. The mother must devote nutrients and gestation space to this organism for nine months without complaint.

To decide to remove choice from the mother as to whether to carry the fetus to term, who's the slave in this relationship, rhetorically speaking?
posted by Rothko at 4:41 PM EST on September 15 [!]


That pretty much defines the argument and I commend straight and Rothko on their eloquence. Both sides in this debate are right about the immorality of the other side's point of view. The current solution is a balancing of realities and moralities from both points of view. There is something there after conception and it is wrong to indiscriminantly terminate it. It is also wrong to indiscriminantly deny a woman control over her body. Even if abortions were legal, there would be very many with awful complications for the poor girls and women. Roe balances all this, somewhat. As a pragmatist, I think well. Legally, its foundation could be stronger.

As someone on the pro-choice side of this, but with deep sympathies for the pro-life point of view, I truly believe that the pro-choice people need to listen to the pro-life's concerns and work extremely hard to make reducing the number of abortions. This includes working the political spectrum to make birth control more freely available, with the stated goal of reducing the number of abortions. Not all pro-lifers are rabid moral fundies and there are allies to be found on the pro-life side in promoting access to birth control. However, it also means encouraging women not to have abortions if they have other options. I would love to see Planned Parenthood move into the adoption business as well.
posted by caddis at 5:32 PM on September 15, 2005


duck: But if you're really pro-choice, it seems to me, then you really want to open things up so that a woman can choose an abortion or choose not to have an abortion.

Haven't you got that backwards? Shouldn't it be the anti-abortion types who work the hardest to make pregnancy more appealing, thus lowering the abortion rate? Or at least, isn't that something one would do if one was interested in reducing the abortion rate?

Live births have always vastly outnumbered abortions, and are the end result of a very large percentage of pregnancies even among teens and unwed mothers. Clearly, the "no abortion" option is perfectly feasible and appealing to many.

"Pro-choice" is a perfectly accurate description of the pro-choice position.
posted by Western Infidels at 6:05 PM on September 15, 2005


ROU_Xenophobe,

In my state, Louisiana, you have roughly the same chance of being murdered during the nine months of pregnancy as you do dying due to pregnancy (FBI murder rate (La) 2003, 13.0/100000, CDC pregnancy-related deaths (U.S.) 2001, 11.5/100000).

I think your argument is disingenuous. Overstating the risks so blatantly actually undermines valid points of contention (from both sides).
posted by MotorNeuron at 6:07 PM on September 15, 2005


Even if abortions were legal, there would be very many with awful complications for the poor girls and women.

This is not reflected in empirical data collected from several European and Scandinavian countries. Wherever your moral stand on this issue, the fact is that the number of abortions is low where abortion is legal and reproductive education and resources are made available to women. Numbers of unsafe abortions rise dramatically in countries where it is restricted or illegal.

If you wish to eliminate abortion, ironically, you must acknowledge its availability helps in doing so.
posted by Rothko at 6:11 PM on September 15, 2005


on the topic... if they get bored perhaps they might walk across the street and ask the clowny pro-lifers - how many fetuses george bushes war in iraq has killed...?
posted by specialk420 at 6:17 PM on September 15, 2005


Correlation is not causation, Rothko. How many of those Scandinavian countries have great public health care systems? Mightn't that reduce the abortion rate?
posted by MotorNeuron at 7:57 PM on September 15, 2005


that was an incredibly moving comment, ?! Thank you for sharing your experience, and for your own strength in doing that for as long as you did.
posted by yhbc at 8:02 PM on September 15, 2005


Rothko, that was a horrible typo on my part - substitute "illegal."
posted by caddis at 8:05 PM on September 15, 2005


Point being, as has been said here several times, you can't eliminate abortion just by outlawing it. I think the most effective way to reduce it is not to outlaw it but to give other options, both before and after conception. Given the increasing power of the anti-abortion forces, focusing them on prevention rather than bannination also seems prudent in preserving the option.
posted by caddis at 8:08 PM on September 15, 2005


US abortion statistics - there are some positive trends.
posted by caddis at 8:12 PM on September 15, 2005


Haven't you got that backwards? Shouldn't it be the anti-abortion types who work the hardest to make pregnancy more appealing, thus lowering the abortion rate? Or at least, isn't that something one would do if one was interested in reducing the abortion rate?

Yes, I would expect the anti-abortion side would also want to make carrying a pregnancy to term less burdensome than it is for many. Just because something is consistent with an anti-abortion position, that does not make inconsistent with a pro-choice position. So yes they should, and no, I don't have it backwards. And it's absolutely something people who want to decrease the abortion rate should do.

In fact, if there's ever going to be some common ground between the two positions this sort of thing is the most obvious place (at least most obvious to me). It is common ground in the abortion debate in at least one* other country.

Live births have always vastly outnumbered abortions, and are the end result of a very large percentage of pregnancies even among teens and unwed mothers. Clearly, the "no abortion" option is perfectly feasible and appealing to many.

Yes, obviously live births are very appealing to many and more common than abortions. However, for many of the woman in a position to make a "choice", there are many obstacles that make live births less of a viable choice (than they are for many other women). To promote choice is to make as many choices as possible as viable as possible. There's only real choice when there are multiple viable options.

If you were to take a woman for whom carrying a pregnancy to term would be more burdensome than she could handle and give her safe, easy and legal access to abortion, you've given her safe, easy, and legal access to an abortion. You haven't given her choice because she only has one option she considers viable. Choice requires multiple options that are perceived to be real and feasible. What you've given her is better than what she would otherwise have, sure, but that doesn't mean it's choice.

* Sorry, cannot find the full article available for free online. Brief summary with the caveat that I read this when it first came out which was a few years ago: In the United States abortion is a polarizing issue for those who care about it. The two sides essentially can't talk to each other because they don't share a starting premise. There is fundamental disagreement about when life begins. In German there is widespread agreement about when life begins: At conception. And yet in spite of this the legality of abortion is relatively uncontroversial. The reason is that people feel like they have no right to ban abortion until they create a social safety net strong enough to properly support (in the broad sense, not financial sense), women who choose to have babies. To ban abortion under a system without ensuring that every women has the resources necessary to carry a pregnancy to term would be unfair. So even though they think an embryo is a human life from the moment of conception, there's no widespread movement to ban abortion. (Repeating the caveat that I read this article a couple of years ago).
posted by duck at 8:13 PM on September 15, 2005


I'm solidly antilife.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:22 PM on September 15, 2005


MotorNeuron, all that says is something terrible about Lousiana, where the murder rate is 50% higher than any other state and nearly triple the average for the rest of the country.

Presumably you'd agree that being a full-time firefighter is a dangerous job, one that we wouldn't normally force someone to do against their consent even if doing so might save lives. Well, there are about 300,000 full-time firefighters in the US (scroll down), and last year 36 died on or from duty, or a rate of 12 per 100000. Being pregnant and giving birth, once, carries the same risk as entering tens or hundreds of burning buildings, repeatedly breathing smoke, careening through city streets at high speed multiple times per day, and all of the other risks of being a full-time firefighter for a year.

And there are of course risks other than death. Surely you would object if someone hurt you badly enough, without your consent, to put you in the hospital? Or cut you open and put your internal organs on your tummy before packing them back in, against your consent -- a risk that you bear a one in four chance of by enduring pregnancy?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:24 PM on September 15, 2005


duck, if the pro-choice movement lessens its focus on abortion access, which is seriously under attack, to focus on providing adequate care / support / whatever for families, then most likely abortion access will be restricted.

Plenty of people are working toward better lives for poor families in the US. The pro-choice movement is focusing on one aspect of family planning, which is right now the most contentious and the most in need of protection. Without that protection, that particular choice would disappear, thus limiting women's choices. So I don't understand why you keep arguing your position. No, the world's not perfect; no, women's choices aren't limitless; but that's hardly the fault or the sole responsibility of those who are working to keep one important option open.
posted by occhiblu at 8:26 PM on September 15, 2005


This is exactly what freebird and reklaw are talking about. If you honestly cannot think of how someone could both believe in putting a killer to death and saving what they see as an innocent life, then you're not even trying to see the other side.

Do I really need to point out how horribly flawed and racist/classist our legal system is? How many people have been exonerated due to DNA evidence after the conviction? Sorry, but capital punishment is simply there to fulfill people's "an eye for an eye" need for vengeance.

Now if you could guarantee absolutely that everyone put to death is, in fact, guilty of murder then it wouldn't be an issue. But that's impossible, and you cannot undo an execution.

Plus there's many Catholics that actually are against both abortion and capital punishment, so at least they are consistent on that front. So I don't see why you're saying I'm not being understanding when this position is not a ridiculous example.
posted by Talanvor at 8:26 PM on September 15, 2005


. . . if someone hurt you badly enough, without your consent, . . .

I would guess that consent was given in most cases where abortions occur. This seems like a bit of a straw man. Statistics please?
posted by caddis at 8:35 PM on September 15, 2005


duck, if the pro-choice movement lessens its focus on abortion access, which is seriously under attack, to focus on providing adequate care / support / whatever for families, then most likely abortion access will be restricted.

Again, I wasn't arguing that they should change their focus. I was arguing that the name used to describe what the movement fights for is not accurate. It fights for access to safe and legal abortion, nothing more than that. I'm not suggesing there's anything wrong with fighting only for access to safe and legal abortion.

But to make up for exposing people to more thoughts about word-choice than you could possibly want to hear, I offer some real content. Interesting article from the Atlantic on strategy for protecting legal abortion access. The author argues (and I'm not agreeing, just presenting the article for those who might be interested) that allowing Roe v. Wade to be overturned is the best avenue for preserving abortion access. I was going to toss in a quick quote, but couldn't find something compact that summarized the argument well.
posted by duck at 8:38 PM on September 15, 2005


. . . if someone hurt you badly enough, without your consent, . . .

I would guess that consent was given in most cases where abortions occur. This seems like a bit of a straw man. Statistics please?


Ummm...I believe he was talking about forcing people to go through pregnancy and childbirth.
posted by biscotti at 8:43 PM on September 15, 2005


I know. It was a not nice dig at a bad analogy. Sorry.

The analogy assumes an innocent victim of a hurt and no consequences to fixing it. Here the person getting pregnant most likely bears responsibility (was not attacked) and fixing the hurt involves terminating a potential, or real life, depending upon your perspective.
posted by caddis at 8:54 PM on September 15, 2005


The article that duck links to in the Atlantic, while extremely controversial in nature, presents a very interesting twist on this debate. I read it when it first came out and immediately dismissed the notion as overly theoretical and impractical, however, under the right circumstances, I wouldn't mind seeing the public having authority over this issue once again.

Despite having a Republican controlled Executive and Congress for quite some time now, I believe that limited abortion rights would remain legal if people had the ability to vote. Which, IMHO, is a great first step in healing the nation and making this a public policy issue, instead of one settled by the Court.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 9:02 PM on September 15, 2005


Er, MotorNeuron, your argument is a religious argument not a moral argument. You simply declare abortion as "bad" and then go from there.

Calls for a "rational debate" about abortion are a waste of time. As others in this thread have pointed out: (1) the goal of "pro-lifers" is demonstrably not to reduce the number of abortions it is to forbid abortion on principle (2) there has been no attempt to prohibit abortion on legal precedent (3) nobody has made a sustained attempt at a rational argument against abortion. As long as (1,2,3) hold then any sort of rational debate will be impossible.
posted by nixerman at 9:03 PM on September 15, 2005


The assumption that any woman who has consensual sex has also consented to carry and bear a child is fundamentally wrong-headed and pernicious.

Avoiding substantial risk to life and health requires ending someone else's life, yes. At least probabalistically, since there's no guarantee that the child won't be stillborn or die immediately after birth, in which case the risk didn't save anyone. If there were a way to remove the risks of pregnancy and childbirth without killing the fetus, I'm sure people would flock to it. Perhaps they'll be able to extract the embryo and implant it in an anti-abortion protester -- they might not even need to be female, with enough tech behind it.

We don't use the power of the state to force people into any other life-saving, dangerous position -- we don't force people to become firefighters, or high-water rescue workers, or surf lifeguards. We don't even force people into the military anymore. It's also wrong to force people to endure the risks inherent in pregnancy and childbirth without their specific consent to that risk, by making abortion illegal.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:12 PM on September 15, 2005


Here's my middle ground:

I don't think that those of us who are pro-choice have done ourselves any favors in the last decade or so by largely denying that abortion is pretty necessarily morally problematic. Even if we cannot concede that a fetus is a human being (at least not a human being with the same status as an actual sentient person) -- and I cannot -- we have to acknowledge that we're at least in a vast area of grey when it comes to defining the beginning of "life" in any meaningful sense. To be clear, I don't think that the pro-life apologist have a better grasp either. Conception is a dreadfully tricky process rather than a simple, discrete event (witness the discussion above), and the pro-life movement's choice of fertilization as the magic moment is arbitrary at best. However, the later in gestation we get, the more difficult it is to decide on a bright, clear line. I think that most people would agree that surgically aborting a full-term fetus is not qualitatively different from killing an infant, so people are understandably hesitant to set the line at birth. Sadly, most people's vague understanding of the events of pregnancy makes it difficult to have a societal discussion to determine a middle ground.

If this were all taking place in a vacuum, I would say that we should take the morally "safest" option; defining life as beginning at conception (however arbitrary that may be) to make an end-run around this big metaphysical question. The thing is, fetuses don't grow in a vacuum. They grow in women. Women, it might be added, who are most certainly human beings, in contrast to the rather iffy status of the fetus. Without entering the argument of exactly how dangerous and unpleasant pregnancy and childbirth are, I think it's pretty clear to everyone that they are, in fact, physically dangerous and unpleasant. It follows that a woman who does not actively wish to have children has a legitimate self interest in avoiding pregnancy and childbirth. The question, then, is how to balance the moral rights of the woman to pursue her legitimate self interest with the nebulous personhood of the fetus. I don't actually think that there is a clear answer to this quandary, at least on a universal scale. Certainly, the stage of gestation and the extent to which the woman's legitimate self interest is threatened have to be weighed. I am in no way prepared to make a sweeping statement about the morality of all abortions.

Fortunately, the question of legality is much easier than the question of morality. I believe that most reasonable people can agree that there are some cases in which abortion is necessary. The general exceptions made for rape and incest reflect an acknowledgement that there are circumstances in which a woman's legitimate self interest is threatened to such an extent that it would be unreasonable to assign whatever rights the fetus has greater priority than those of the woman. Another commonly-cited example is the pregnant woman who discovers that she has a malignancy and is then asked to choose between aborting the fetus and foregoing treatment at the cost of her life. I can think of very few situations in which it is morally imperative to choose to sacrifice your own life to save that of even another sentient person; I don't think that this is an exception.

If abortion is sometimes necessary, then, it falls to the government to make at least some abortions legal. Should it then make all other abortions illegal? The answer is an unequivocal no. Both of the primary factors in assessing the morality of a given abortion (that is, the precise status of a particular fetus and the legitimate self interest of the woman) are highly subjective and largely unknowable to a third party. There is virtually no possible way for an institution like our government to make any reasonable assessment of an individual situation. Given that some abortions are necessary, and it is impossible to distinguish between those that are necessary and those that are not, abortions must be legal and accessible.

As a final note, we should ask ourselves: even if the government could peer into the souls of (wo)men, do we really believe that the proper role of government is to legislate not only the workings of a woman's body but also morality?
posted by LittleMissCranky at 9:33 PM on September 15, 2005



It's always seemed strange to me that pro-choice people adopt a label about choice when it seems like what they fight for is more "safe and legal access to abortion", which is not the same thing as choice.


It is about more than just "safe and legal access to abortion". At the moment, abortion rights and access are the most threatened choice, but pro-choice is about much more than that. Choice includes access to contraception (which only became legal in the States--for married people--40 years ago with Griswold v. Connecticut). Choice includes comprehensive and medically accurate sex education, so that you can make truly informed decisions about your sexuality and reproductive health. Choice includes the right not to be sterilized without your consent. Choice includes being able to have children when you are ready for them.

Right now contraception and education are also coming under the gun, though in more subtle ways, and the pro-choice movement is working to make sure the contraception and education stay readily available to everyone.

I think you draw a false conclusion when say that while "pro-choice people" may also support the broader causes of poverty reduction and health care access, the pro-choice movement doesn't. For one thing, what is a movement but a collection of people? If many of those people support more than just one cause, what does that mean? For another thing, I think your complaint about the name "pro-choice" being misleading because it only deals with reproductive issues is as if someone were complaining that breast cancer researchers weren't looking into liver cancer, or that voter access drives weren't concerned about the wetlands.

Finally, poverty is only one factor in whether someone chooses to terminate a pregnancy. Some women who can't afford to have children choose to do so anyway. Some women who could afford to raise a dozen choose to have none. The fact of the matter is that a particular women, for whatever her personal reasons, chooses not to carry a pregnancy to term. It is not just "do you want the child?" but "do you want the pregnancy?"
posted by kayjay at 10:05 PM on September 15, 2005


one person, even one unskilled person should be able (without great hardship or humiliating paperwork, or debit cards that tell them what flavour cereal they're allowed to eat) to support their children

Wait a minute-- I thought most of us decided that it's okay to kill parasites. Now you're demanding subsidies?

We don't use the power of the state to force people into any other life-saving, dangerous position

Well, we don't, but we have.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:06 PM on September 15, 2005


Correlation is not causation, Rothko. How many of those Scandinavian countries have great public health care systems? Mightn't that reduce the abortion rate?
posted by MotorNeuron at 10:57 PM EST on September 15 [!]


--

"After the Revolution in 1917, the Soviet Union had the most progressive abortion law in the world. Upon request, a woman could have a safe abortion in a state hospital, free of charge. In 1936, however, abortion and other types of birth control were forbidden by Stalin, as the country needed more children for a strong army and as labourers. Illegal, unsafe abortion became rife. In 1956 abortion was legalised again. By the early 1990s, Russia had the world's highest abortion rate (181/1000 women aged 15-44, per year): the average woman would have had about five abortions in her lifetime."
Sex Education in Russia

--

``"Unicef's explanation is pretty unequivocal. Sweden, for example, radically changed its sex education policies in 1975. "Recommendations of abstinence and sex only within marriage were dropped, contraceptive education was made explicit, and a nationwide network of youth clinics was established specifically to provide confidential contraceptive advice and free contraceptives ... Over the next two decades, Sweden saw its teenage birth rate fall by 80 per cent." Sexually transmitted diseases, in contrast to the rising rates in the UK and the US, declined by 40% in the 1990s.

``"Studies of the Dutch experience," Unicef continues, "have concluded that the underlying reason for success has been the combination of a relatively inclusive society with more open attitudes towards sex and sex education, including contraception." Requests for contraceptives there "are not associated with shame or embarrassment", and "the media is willing to carry explicit messages" about them that are "designed for young people". This teeming cesspool has among the lowest abortion and teenage birth rates on earth.'
Joy of Sex Education
posted by Rothko at 10:08 PM on September 15, 2005


My fear is that, although there are legal middle-grounds (pointed out in numerous good examples above), a true compromise cannot be reached with the extremists who protest in front of clinics and their ilk who support them.
My worry is that they may be the same brand of folks who don't recognize scientific truths (ie evolution), rather they believe entirely in their faith and applying it universally. Therefore, even if research was conducted that proved, with finality, that an embryo/fetus/zygote/whatever was not sentient or possessing a soul until a certain moment, the study would be dismissed on the basis of their faith, much the same way evolution cannot possibly be true due to the fact that the Bible explicitly informs them otherwise. What I mean to say is that even if a legal compromise is reached that satisfies a majority of the population, there will continue to be a vocal and rabid group that is bend on preventing ANY AND ALL abortions.
On the other hand, I can't think of a specific instance in the Bible that illustrates exactly when a human life begins (please, correct me if I'm wrong) so "at fertilization" may just be as arbitrary an instance as, say, "when the gills morph away."

As a side note, the argument that ROU_Xenophobe has been making is very interesting because the amount of peril, pain, and harm that a pregnancy may cause (and I don't disbelieve that for a second- my younger sister was born via C section, choking on the umbilical cord) is certainly enough to justify acts of self defense. If you can substantiate the claim that the gestating fetus is an aggressor, a woman is entirely within her rights to terminate the pregnancy, circumventing any "soul/soulless" arguments.
posted by Jon-o at 10:31 PM on September 15, 2005


I think your complaint about the name "pro-choice" being misleading because it only deals with reproductive issues is as if someone were complaining that breast cancer researchers weren't looking into liver cancer, or that voter access drives weren't concerned about the wetlands

No, it's more like saying that the breast cancer people are only concerned with making sure everyone has access to chemo (and not worried about making sure everyone has access to radiation). Yep, everyone should have access to chemo, but if that's what you're working for, then you're the ChemoForBreastCancer activist, not the TreatmentForBreastCancer activist. The name isn't inaccurate because the movement only deals with reproductive issues, it's inaccurate because the movement deals with reproductive choice incompletely. Health care and day care, and affordable housing and living wages are reproductive issues because they are just as important and relevant as abortion law to the options facing a woman with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.

A movement is more than just people, it's organizations and networks built around a common theme and a purpose. A bunch of people who know each other and think the same thing aren't necessarily a movement.

Though you're right, that the movement does deal with other aspects of reproductive freedeom (e.g. contraception and fertility treatments), so I misspoke there.

And I know that poverty isn't the only reason women have abortions. I was focussed on poor women because they're the ones that have the fewest options, and pointing out that giving them one good option but not making other options more feasible isn't doing a very good job of giving them choice. Women who could feasibly choose to carry a pregnancy to term or to end it do have more than one option truly open to them and those women already have choice, which is why I wasn't focussed on them.
posted by duck at 10:42 PM on September 15, 2005


My fear is that, although there are legal middle-grounds (pointed out in numerous good examples above), a true compromise cannot be reached with the extremists who protest in front of clinics and their ilk who support them.

I think this group of extremists will get smaller and smaller as the people in the middle are satisfied. I saw this because the research I've seen on how people become activists suggests that it's not the case that people believe X or Y very strongly and thus run out and become activists for X and Y.

More commonly their feelings are ambivilent and they're invited by someone they know to be involved in some minor and uncommitted way. Some people continue their involvement and develop strong opinions as they become more involved (dissonance reduction) and as a result of contact with people who already have strong opinions. Even those people who are leaders in movements often started out without any particularly strong feelings when they first joined. Those crazy people with the signs and pictures didn't start out that way.

What that means is that the same way this can lead to the popularity of a movement snowballing (a small increase in the popularity of the movement results in a large increase in the number of people who have minor involvement or contact with the movement, some of those join, which makes the movements increase in popularity a little bigger, which has a bigger impact on the number of people exposed or participating etc. etc.), if you can draw that ambivilant middle a little away from the movement that's a few less people willing to stuff a few envelopes, which is a few less people who get sucked deeper and deeper in, which is a few less people who ask a friend to sign a petition etc. etc. It's a backwards snowball..the people who never get asked to sign the petition, won't end up with models of fetuses in front of a clinic. It doesn't take that big of a shift to make a big difference.

*Note that both examples linked are on the right, but there's no reason to believe the process is any different for activists on the left.
posted by duck at 11:00 PM on September 15, 2005


My fear is that...a true compromise cannot be reached with the extremists who protest in front of clinics and their ilk who support them.

Very true. There's not going to be a compromise there, and I don't think that we should try. However, that's a tiny, tiny minority of people who are pro-life, and I think that most pro-lifers would just as soon not have the scary nut jobs on their roster. The sooner we acknowledge the moral and emotional implications of abortion, rather than just denying them, the sooner people of goodwill can feel comfortable considering other viewpoints. As it is, I believe that many people feel very stuck between the people screaming at women outside the clinic and a movement that they perceive as militantly denying any constraints of morality at all or flat our rejecting the emotional hesitation that many people intuitively have.

On preview: Oh, for god's sake, duck. Every movement has to have its boundaries. The "why-aren't-pro-lifers-against-the-death-penalty" argument, while tired, has some cogency not because of the name, but because their central argument hinges on the sanctity of every single human life. There is a lack of internal consistency there. Yes, I see the difference between executing a criminal and killing (what they perceive to be) a wholly innocent child. However, it does give the lie to the notion that life is sacred simply by virtue of being life.

In contrast, people involved in the pro-choice movement are not generally ideologically opposed to all of those lovely things that you say we should be working towards. However, the purpose of the movement is not to make either option in this particular choice have the best outcome in this best of all possible worlds. The purpose is to make the choice possible. Since, as far as I know, no one is trying to outlaw door number one, the best way to safeguard the right to make a choice at all is to keep door number two legal.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 11:13 PM on September 15, 2005


Have we had any comments by someone who is actually "pro-life?" I find that name a bit misleading though. Except for one commenter, I am willing to bet we are all pro-life.

As I understand the pro-life position: "life" begins at conception. Abortion ends a life without the life's consent; it is therefore murder.

I don't believe only the zealots hold that position. They're just more vocal. I don't believe capital punishment is part of the discussion. It only proves that individual humans can hold conflicting opinions.

I do believe the questions of access, rape, and mother's death are part of the discussion. And if you are "pro-life" than logially you must believe in no access to abortion, no abortion in cases of rape, and you must let god decide if the mother is to die. I don't believe you can be partially pro-life any more than you can be partially pregnant. It's a line you cross.

That's why, mr. roboto, I didn't see a middle ground. The majority you mention who wants parental notification, etc. are not truly "pro-lifers." They are hard line pro-choice. No matter how they may self-identify. Unless, they believe that the restrictions are just underhanded laws that will stop all abortions.

I'll repeat this because I felt it was the key to the people I met on both sides. The same people who are working hard to change or keep the laws. "Either abortion ends the life of a human or it stops the progress of cells without a soul."

Where do you stand?
posted by ?! at 12:15 AM on September 16, 2005


Well played, WELL played on PP's part.

The anti-choice asshats protesting are the same smug, pious fucks that turn on wellfare parents and spit on the homeless.

?!

Here's where I stand:

C) I don't give a fuck what you do...couldn't care less about ending the "life" of an unborn human or ceasing the development of cells that may or may not have souls. It's your choice to make for your situation.





Besides all of that, the world needs less unwanted children in it. Hell, we just need less humans on a whole. We do need more tacos, however.
posted by mrblondemang at 1:21 AM on September 16, 2005


Goddamn. I can't get on Metafilter for a while, and when I come back, all of you are making shitty arguments.
First off, abortions? None of your goddamn business. Read Roe v. Wade. What's the central idea? Getting an abortion is a private matter. None of your goddamn business.
And yes, people who have a fundamental objection to them are entitled to protest. But this liberal bullshit about "We have to mince around until we find a common ground with them" is wrong-headed. Look, you're talking about a belief that is inherently absolutist. Roe v. Wade was a fucking compromise, you morons. That's why we can't have nice things in this country, like judicial middle grounds. If we do, then we spend 30 years with regressives trying to use Jesus as a prybar to remove protection for rights.
Yeah, that's what it goddamn is. The right to control your own body, the right to make decisions about your own personal morality, that's your right. It's not Jerry Falwell's right. It's not MotorNeuron's right. It's each woman's right because it's her goddamn body. You can try to convince her, you can try to cajole her, but it's her fucking right. Step off. The government exists to protect rights. If you try to abrogate those rights, you are the one stepping in front of morality, not the woman who makes the decision about what her personal ethics are.
Again, none of your goddamn business.
And "Oh NOES! He doesn't want to communicate with the other side!"
Let's communicate. What's the basis for holding that life begins at conception? Well, first you're going to have to establish what makes people human, and what value there is in that. Your options are either dodgy biology or arguing from God. If you can prove that God exists within a scientific framework, then go ahead and argue from God. If not, you're arguing from a fundamentally personal and unsupportable point. If it's unsupportable, you can't argue that you should make it law.
"But it's a baby! Don't you like babies?"
Argument from emotion. I like cows too. More of them die for food and pleasure each year than there are abortions. Cows are more conscious than fetuses. There's an inconsistency.
Further, the attempt to exploit the "ick factor" is disengenuous. If you show footage of boob jobs or of open-heart surgery, it's just as gross as the footage of abortions. Hell, even live birth is pretty damn gross.
And still, none of my business.
But there isn't a fundamental middle ground here any more than there is with evolution. Either you believe that species evolve through chance and environmental feedback, or you believe that God did it. Since the proofs for God are noticably thin, and the proof for evolution is pretty convincing, there's no real need to seek a "compromise" with a view that is inherently wrong, stupid and emotional.
That's why Reklaw's complaint is inherently flawed. Murder is a social crime. Abortion is a private decision. Don't like abortions? Well, that's a personal feeling. Don't have one, and feel free to try to convince others not to have one either. But ultimately, none of your fucking business any more than whether I believe in God, whether I enjoy hot gay sex, or whether I drink beer. None of your fucking business. Doesn't matter how much you think it's wrong. There's no way to support your views that doesn't rely on a central fallacy, and again, none of your fucking business.
posted by klangklangston at 1:45 AM on September 16, 2005


As a side note, the argument that ROU_Xenophobe has been making is very interesting because the amount of peril, pain, and harm that a pregnancy may cause (and I don't disbelieve that for a second- my younger sister was born via C section, choking on the umbilical cord) is certainly enough to justify acts of self defense. If you can substantiate the claim that the gestating fetus is an aggressor, a woman is entirely within her rights to terminate the pregnancy, circumventing any "soul/soulless" arguments.

Yeah, well if you're at the point of assigning agency to fetuses, you're giving extra rhetorical material to pro-life folks, and to continue your logic, her uterus was providing an attractive nuisance to all that sperm, so she really doesn't have a great deal of standing, and hell, might even be held civilly liable.
posted by Snyder at 3:33 AM on September 16, 2005


I say shame on the woman for not being stronger - it's got to be hell to live with your decision.

No, not really. If I got pregnant right now, I'd have an abortion and, quite honestly, I'd have a harder time trying to decide what to wear to my trip to the clinic than I would deciding whether or not to have the abortion.

BTW, you're an ass. :)
posted by speranza at 5:08 AM on September 16, 2005


metafilter: none of your fucking business

But seriously, klangklangston, well said. I think your tone is going to be bit rough on the "moderates" though. Me, I like it just fine. I'm gonna make up a t-shirt with it: none of your fucking business
posted by a_day_late at 5:15 AM on September 16, 2005


duck: To promote choice is to make as many choices as possible as viable as possible.

I disagree. Making as many choices as possible as viable as possible is to promote meaningless choices. Every breakfast cereal on the grocery store shelf is within my means, and none of them will kill me. They are all "viable" choices. As a result, they are choices completely devoid of any interest or controversy. Choice of breakfast cereal is thus trivial, barely worth thinking about.

Life isn't like the breakfast cereal aisle. Important, "real" choices are meaningful and difficult because they have serious consequences and trade-offs, because the options involved have no fundemental equivalence.

No matter how elaborate or lavish our "social safety net" for unwed mothers becomes, motherhood and abortion will always be meaningful, difficult choices because they will always have serious consequences and trade-offs. And as a result, accidentally-pregnant women will continue to find themselves presented with these options, and they will continue to individually consider one or the other to be out-of-the-question, and will choose the other. And bystanders to the debate, those of us who aren't faced with that choice ourselves, will always be able to construct elaborate justifications for characterizing one choice or the other as "unviable."

None of which makes the choice any less "real."
posted by Western Infidels at 7:35 AM on September 16, 2005


The name isn't inaccurate because the movement only deals with reproductive issues, it's inaccurate because the movement deals with reproductive choice incompletely. Health care and day care, and affordable housing and living wages are reproductive issues because they are just as important and relevant as abortion law to the options facing a woman with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.

Duck, at this point I'm starting to believe that you are being disingenuous and arguing simply for the sake of arguing. And since you are determined to circle back to the same tired argument that has already been countered several times, I have nothing more to say to you about it.
posted by kayjay at 8:02 AM on September 16, 2005


A Day Late: My comment is a vigorous defense of moderate positions. People who believe that tone is more important than content are morons who should be chased out of the halls of public debate with wildly-swung cudgels.
The absolutist point would be that women should be able to have abortions for whatever reason until their children are born, or are conscious, or are 18, or wherever the bar for full humanity is set. I'm willing to concede the middle ground that after a fetus is able to live on its own, you shouldn't have an abortion except for some limited situations (health and safety, etc.).
That's the true opposition point to the folks who set life's origin from a fairy tale and want to legislate on the basis of their personal myth.
Roe v. Wade is a moderate position, and to argue that it isn't is to betray your own position as that of an ideologue.
And what was the basis for the decision of Roe v. Wade? Again, none of your goddamn business. Abortion is a private matter, and is one of those crucial examples of where Liberalism (Locke/Mill) must be protected.
Just like working on Sunday or getting your asshole tongued.
posted by klangklangston at 9:01 AM on September 16, 2005


mrblondemang: So you're basically an abortion agnostic. You don't know. You have no faith in either side, and want to stay out of it. Fine. That means you're just a bystander.

klangklangston: You're preaching to the choir. Those who oppose you don't give a damn about your privacy argument. I wouldn't either. And we know where I stand.

If I saw you abusing your own flesh and blood I will stop you. Law be damned. Who decides what is abuse? I do and I'm willing to go to jail if others in society tell me I was wrong. If I saw you laying in an alley trying to cut off your own foot with a butter knife. I will stop you. Because I believe you must be saved from your self. Again, I'm willing to go to jail if the others don't agree. Does it mean I don't respect privacy? Not at all. I just realize there are times when the weak must be protected from the strong. Times when the injured must be saved from themselves.

Our side didn't win with Roe vs. Wade. It was a compromise. And like all compromises each generation must again affirm the status quo or renew the battle. Those who believe in legal abortion -- no matter when or if you believe life begins -- must fight as hard as we did before 1973. That is if you want the procedure to survive. Because the other side wants to abort your choice.
posted by ?! at 11:19 AM on September 16, 2005


It's too bad that this really interesting post spawned such a lame discussion. Thanks ?! for sharing your wonderful insight on the actually protesters.

These creepy people inspire such rage in me. It's a fun subversive homework problem to consider how to squelch them while respecting the right to assemble and all that goodness. I think Planned Parenthood's idea is awesome and I love to imagine the great cognitive dissonance it might cause amongst the protesters. Years ago I thought it might be clever to protest the protesters by finding horrible, gruesome photos of murder victims, labeling them as pro-lifers and printing them out at the size of their fetus photos. Not the most mature of responses perhaps. You can also try asking them about how many adopted children they have in their households and how they could bear to have their own children instead of preventing another child's death through sponsorship and adoption. It can be a bit tricky getting a word in edgewise though and they aren't there for debate anyways. The last time they showed up on campus here, they had this sheet of butcher paper set up so you could share your thoughts (no idea what they were hoping to accomplish). Someone looked up the organizer's personal information and shared that on their little "confession" wall. That was worth a chuckle, but it was still just harassing the harassers.

It seems to me that there could be some architectural solution -- like those spikes they put up to keep birds from landing on buildings. A really low covered walkway to keep the pickets out of the air, perhaps. Conveniently located (and poorly aimed) sprinklers maybe. Any other architecture students here? That could be a fun studio project.
posted by iloveit at 11:26 AM on September 16, 2005


I think Planned Parenthood's idea is a terrific one. I'm not sure it it will actually deter the most rabid protestors but I at least feel better knowing that their presence means more money for PP.
posted by LeeJay at 4:44 PM on September 16, 2005


But if you're really pro-choice, it seems to me, then you really want to open things up so that a woman can choose an abortion or choose not to have an abortion. This is where I think the pro-choice side fails to live up to its name. Sure, it recognizes that you can choose not to have an abortion, but it doesn't seem to be interested in removing the de facto barriers to that choice -- carrying a pregnancy to term can also involve hardships. If people who are pro-choice really want to give women the power to choose, shouldn't they also be working to remove those hardships and make pregnancy and birth a more viable choice as well?

duck - Many (most? the vast majority?) pro-choice people do support these things. I know I certainly do.

The first and foremost concern of all pro-choice advocates should be to try to make sure women don't even have to make that choice. The most important goal should be for all men and women - and boys and girls - to have access to birth control, for sex education to be comprehensive and universally available. When the choice becomes necessary, already there has been a failure. A failure of latex or method is forgivable - a failure of society is not.

Abortions are never good. They can destroy a woman's fertility. I know a woman who nearly died having children due to an abortion as a teenager - and that was legal. No one wants any one to have an abortion. This is why it will never be a pro-abortion lobby, because abortions are a priori bad.

Whether they are sometimes the best of a bad lot of choices depends heavily on what you believe a fetus to be - and there we are all simply acting on belief.
posted by jb at 11:00 PM on September 16, 2005


I don't see why duck is getting all this flack. He isn't arguing that pro-choice people should be working across the board to make other choices equally viable, he's arguing that they should do so if they intend on calling themselves pro-choice. As kayjay points out, pro-choice folks also support contraception, sex education, and the like, which means that using the term "pro-choice" does appear to be fairly accurate, and duck has admitted that. Duck's argument has proved to be somewhat incorrect because of that, but most people seem to be misinterpreting what duck was trying to say in the first place.

And, second: klangklangston, what was the point of your rant? It's based on a foundation where it can only be agreed on by people who already agree with it. That's true of some of the other posts in the thread, but yours was aggressively so. If your point is that it's no-one's business, and that convincing anyone of anything is moot, then what was your goal in posting? Just blowing off steam in public?
posted by Bugbread at 9:58 AM on September 17, 2005


The assumption that any woman who has consensual sex has also consented to carry and bear a child is fundamentally wrong-headed and pernicious.

While there's something to what you say here, I think you're putting it too strongly. A man who has consensual sex is, in the eyes of the law, obligated to help provide financially for a child resulting from that act. I wouldn't equate that with bearing a child, and I wouldn't say the man has "consented," but I don't think it's unreasonable to consider what responsibilities someone who has consenual sex might have for the consequenses of that act.

We don't use the power of the state to force people into any other life-saving, dangerous position

Of course we do. Remeber the draft?

If you can substantiate the claim that the gestating fetus is an aggressor, a woman is entirely within her rights to terminate the pregnancy, circumventing any "soul/soulless" arguments.

Aha! So instead of trashing precedent and overturning Roe v. Wade, Bush's Supreme Court will take a page from the Book of Esther and uphold the right of fetuses to bear assault weapons in self-defense.
posted by straight at 1:06 AM on September 20, 2005


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