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...respecting and defending the life and dignity of every human being...
January 22, 2006 5:47 PM   Subscribe

Roe v. Wade, 33 years old today. With abortion back in the news due to the Supreme Court nomination of Alito, will the Ideological Rumble over the issue ever be settled or are we doomed to see questionable declarations like today's recognition of "National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2006"? ...creating a society where every life has meaning...-- every life? Really?
posted by amberglow (200 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Sanctity of human life, eh? So, how's the war going?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:04 PM on January 22, 2006


Get Your War On chimes in too.
posted by amberglow at 6:10 PM on January 22, 2006


Sanctity of life only applies to pre-birth humans. Once out of the womb, yer on yer own.

If every life has meaning, what about all the inmates put to death on Bush's watch as Governor of Texas? How about the soldiers he sent off to die and the Iraqis and Afganis who have died in the wars to "free" them?

What a load of manure this kind of thing is.
posted by birdhaus at 6:16 PM on January 22, 2006


For a long time I've been convinced that much of the opposition to Roe is based not on convictions of the 'sanctity of life', but on simple old-fashioned misogyny and desire to control women.

I heard Bill Frist pontificating during the Alito hearings, and he all but confirmed my suspicion outright. He said that people used the constitution and Roe as "justification for an immoral choice" -- the immoral choice being not abortion itself, but the choice to have sex in the first place, the choice to be anything other than a babymachine.
posted by Miko at 6:19 PM on January 22, 2006


It's a coincidence that Nat'l Sancitity of Life Day is on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I'm sure.
posted by S.C. at 6:30 PM on January 22, 2006


For a long time I've been convinced that much of the opposition to Roe is based not on convictions of the 'sanctity of life', but on simple old-fashioned misogyny and desire to control women.

"Much" is a sufficiently nebulous term to give you cover, and the "sanctity of life" is overwrought rhetoric, but many pro-choicers could benefit from understanding that many perfectly reasonable people differ or where the human-being/not-a-human-being line should be drawn.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:30 PM on January 22, 2006


When these discussions begin by one side impugning the other's motives, that's a sure sign that things will progress well.
posted by cribcage at 6:31 PM on January 22, 2006


Roe v. Wade, 33 years old today.

Alternatively Roe v. Wade is in it's 132nd trimester.
posted by wfrgms at 6:32 PM on January 22, 2006


"Much" is a sufficiently nebulous term to give you cover, and the "sanctity of life" is overwrought rhetoric, but many pro-choicers could benefit from understanding that many perfectly reasonable people differ or where the human-being/not-a-human-being line should be drawn.

A good point to make. Although I consider myself "pro-choice," I'd be lying if I told you I haven't had doubts. It's a sticky, sticky subject, and it's way too easy to demonize those on the other side.
posted by brundlefly at 6:35 PM on January 22, 2006


When these discussions begin by one side impugning the other's motives, that's a sure sign that things will progress well.

When the counterargument starts by suggesting we be polite when the Constitution gets dismantled, that's a sure sign things will get even worse.
posted by Rothko at 6:49 PM on January 22, 2006


I think it would be less easy to demonize those on the other side if their transparently hypocritical stances and pronouncements weren't so very transparent and hypocritical. Many pro-choicers respect life in all its forms, stages, and diversity far more than those who consider themselves pro-life, i find.
posted by amberglow at 6:49 PM on January 22, 2006


"Much" is a sufficiently nebulous term to give you cover, and the "sanctity of life" is overwrought rhetoric, but many pro-choicers could benefit from understanding that many perfectly reasonable people differ or where the human-being/not-a-human-being line should be drawn.

By and large, I feel that those anti-choice advocates who make the exceptions for "incest and rape" are of the "simple old-fashioned misogyny and desire to control women" school of thought. Because in that case, the diving line between whether abortion is acceptable is based on whether the woman was sufficiently sinful to deserve to be punsihed with an unwanted child rather than whether or not a life is to be taken. I disagree with those who are of the "any post-conception cluster of cells should have the same status as any human" school, but can at least respect the consistency of their position.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:52 PM on January 22, 2006


I suppose it shouldn't surprise me, but it always does... the fact that practically nobody in the US understands what freedom really is. In the US, freedom means 'you're free to do what I think you should do'. Toeing the line shall set you free!

You saw it with women in the 20s, blacks in the 60s (and still see a little of it today), and gays now. Maybe someday we'll get started on those weirdo Arab/Muslim middle east people. And the arguments in every case are literal echoes of the arguments of the prior era. We've been through this often enough that you'd think we'd learn.... equal rights means equal rights. This isn't hard to understand. Why is it so hard to apply?

Now, to some degree, I'm (deliberately) confusing abortion rights with civil rights, but I really think they're two sides of the same coin. Forcing a woman to have a baby she doesn't want is slavery. The fact that it ends changes nothing; we don't allow indentured servants anymore, either.

The freedom of the mother is more important than the life of the baby. Relatively speaking, human life is cheap, but human freedom is exceedingly expensive. We have already paid hundreds of thousands of lives to gain and keep it. So many of our forebears understood freedom's worth and sacrificed everything to secure it.

They understood that freedom is more important than life. But somehow, we forgot. We have turned into cowards, quaking in fear at the terrors on television. We aren't just easily chained, we smile and beg for the handcuffs.
posted by Malor at 6:52 PM on January 22, 2006


When the counterargument starts by suggesting we be polite when the Constitution gets dismantled...
When people engage tactics like cheaply characterizing their opponents' position, it's no wonder these discussions never go anywhere.
posted by cribcage at 6:58 PM on January 22, 2006


So if we don't outlaw murder does that mean we are more free cuz we can kill people, or does that mean we are less free because we are subject to the homicidal whims of others?

I think the gents that came up with the constitution were pretty clever. Shouldn't the issue be up to each individual state's legislature?
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 7:01 PM on January 22, 2006


When people engage tactics like cheaply characterizing their opponents' position, it's no wonder these discussions never go anywhere.

I would consider dismantling the Constitution to be a high price to pay for enforcing a narrowminded morality on the country. Cheap doesn't describe it.
posted by Rothko at 7:02 PM on January 22, 2006


That's funny. I agree completely.
posted by cribcage at 7:03 PM on January 22, 2006


Karma and Malor hit on the most important point and question: Does a woman have dominion over her body or not?
posted by amberglow at 7:03 PM on January 22, 2006


I wonder if anyone was excuted on National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2006.
posted by The Bellman at 7:05 PM on January 22, 2006


That's funny. I agree completely.

I'm happy you agree completely it's narrow-minded to enforce your morality on a woman.
posted by Rothko at 7:05 PM on January 22, 2006


(Miko too)

Goose, aren't we in fact free to kill? Of course, there are consequences, but we can do it.
posted by amberglow at 7:06 PM on January 22, 2006


During the firebomb years, I used to work as an escort to get people in and out of clinics, through the masses of people throwing effluvia, threats, pushing little girls who had been raped, calling them sluts and murderers...I have very little tolerance for those that call themselves "pro-life"...I've witnessed too many of them try to destroy the lives of others.

One day, after a particularly brutal experience with these people, I came out, and stood in front of the guy with the fetus in a jar and asked him how many children he had adopted. Then I asked the people on either side of him...then I asked the entire crowd if the people who had adopted babies could please raise their hands...amazingly enough...not a single hand was raised.

Nobody likes abortion. Nobody gets up in the morning and thinks..you know would be fun? I'll have my hair done, make some calls, have an abortion and pick up cat food.

The fact is that there has always been abortion, it's only in the last 33 years that it's been safe to do so. By safe, I mean that most people who have abortions don't die. That wasn't the case 40 years ago.

If the Christian Taliban gets their way, and enforces a theocratic rule over the realm of medicine, all it means is that more women will die. People will still try to get abortions, or try to perform them themselves...the back alley butchers will come back. Rich women will be able to go to Canada, or Europe to have the procedure. Poor women will die, or have unwanted children that will then more than likely become a burden on the state.

Except the same bastards who don't want citizens to make decisions about their own lives, bodies, futures and moralities also don't want to fund welfare, medicare, social services or food stamps. Welcome to the new slave class...the unwanted baby.

These are the same men, most of them who have multiple wives, children they never bother to see, many of whom (Rush Limbaugh anyone?) who couldn't even be bothered to make sure their children had enough to eat...and those are the RICH guys.

I have a child, I know what it feels like to be pregnant. I spent a tour of duty protecting women who made a different decision...and I stand by that duty, and their decision.
posted by dejah420 at 7:07 PM on January 22, 2006


I'm happy you agree completely it's narrow-minded to enforce your morality on a woman.
See above. I hate to sound condescending; but if this is your idea of discourse, you can't play at my level. Come back when you graduate.

Better men than you and I have agreed that it's a complex issue without a shred of black or white. When we can discuss it like adults and recognize that fact, maybe we'll get somewhere in this country. Until then, it will probably remain the litmus test for high court nominations — which all the serious players agree, is pretty ridiculous.
posted by cribcage at 7:11 PM on January 22, 2006


I had a long talk with my (married, childless) sister this afternoon. She went downtown (DC) for brunch, and the anti-choice protesters were everywhere--many with the infamous dead fetus posters.

Both sides cheaply characterize, and it's a complicated issue no doubt. You might disagree with Malor, but he's spot-on to point out that this is an issue of competing freedoms and few easy answers. Any decisions made about abortion rights have to come in the full context of right to privacy issues, medical issues, and perhaps most importantly, educational issues. Want to make sure more single, teenage girls have babies? Don't teach them about contraception and basic human health.

But the dead fetus posters? That makes the anti-choice crowd pretty damn easy to characterize. The fact that many of them, including Bush, are pro-death penalty certainly doesn't help their argument.
posted by bardic at 7:11 PM on January 22, 2006


Karma and Malor hit on the most important point and question: Does a woman have dominion over her body or not?

Unless you believe in the unrestricted right to an abortion at any point whatsoever before the umbilical cord is severed, that's an absurdly simplistic reduction on the level of "all abortion is murder".
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:12 PM on January 22, 2006


Amberglow: Then I guess everybody is free. Why even bother having an organized system of government with all this freedom running around?

Haha, that damn dead fetus truck drives around Waikiki all the time. I can't look at it, but I heard it resembles foodstuffs more than an actual dead fetus.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 7:15 PM on January 22, 2006


Both sides are pretty damn easy to characterize, bardic. It's an issue that attracts fanatics and simpletons. They're far outnumbered by those of us capable of civil discussion. It's too bad we allow them to run the debate.
posted by cribcage at 7:15 PM on January 22, 2006


the dividing line between whether abortion is acceptable is based on whether the woman was sufficiently sinful to deserve to be punished with an unwanted child

Damn straight. There are only two ways to go with this: either abortion is utterly illegal under all circumstances with no exceptions or it must be legal at the mother's discretion.

I think we'll develop a very clear condemnation of people who choose late-term abortion, and a scarcity of doctors willing to refer or perform it.

I know we're already well on our way to a society where by far the greatest majority of people take the issue quite seriously, and do make wholly conscious decisions that they have determined to live with. I think there's already a clear social message that it's not necessarily the best choice, and I think that message will be stronger for as long as abortion is legal.

Driving it underground will work as well as the war on drugs.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:15 PM on January 22, 2006


Just about the only group that pisses me off more than vocal pro-"choice" types is the vocal pro-"life" types.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:16 PM on January 22, 2006


Better men than you and I have agreed that it's a complex issue without a shred of black or white.

That's your problem right there: you can't learn to speak for yourself for a change, insead you've decided to speak for all other women.
posted by Rothko at 7:16 PM on January 22, 2006


[applause for dejah420]
posted by five fresh fish at 7:19 PM on January 22, 2006


[joins in the applause]
posted by homunculus at 7:29 PM on January 22, 2006


but many pro-choicers could benefit from understanding that many perfectly reasonable people differ or where the human-being/not-a-human-being line should be drawn.

Until pro-choice people start lurking outside ob-gyn offices trying to convince newly pregnant women to have abortions there's really nothing new the pro-choice camp needs to understand. The problem lies soley with those who want to impose their will on others, full stop.

Rich women will be able to go to Canada

In less than 24 hours we're going to hand our lovely country over (for some deeply petty, uninformed reasons) to a party that doesn't believe in equal rights or a woman's dominion over her own body.
posted by zarah at 7:33 PM on January 22, 2006


dejah et al:

Now I'm not certain, but I *heard* that a great deal of the subsidization of planned parenthood came from groups whose interest was curbing minority births. I'm not trying to contradict you, really, but I just wanted to throw a third side to the issue out there.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 7:34 PM on January 22, 2006


'Cause life is precious. And god. And the bible. And all ya'll, including me, need to figure out how we're gonna live without fresh water.
posted by Tullius at 7:36 PM on January 22, 2006


An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun... Birth control merely postpones the beginning of life. ~ Planned Parenthood "Plan Your Children" pamphlet in 1963.

There is no difference between a first trimester, a second trimester, a third trimester abortion or infanticide. It's all the same human being in different stages of development. ~ Dr. Arnold Halpern

murder: killing an innocent person when you have the ability not to kill that person.

person: someone with unique human chromosomes that will continue to grow if provided with nutrition and protection. The only reason to suggest ANY other definition is to justify killing other people.

child: a person with 2 parents

abortion = child murder

Victims? Don't be melodramatic. Look down there. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you 20,000 pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money? Or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man, free of income tax. The only way you can save money nowadays. ~ Harry Lime
posted by bevets at 7:39 PM on January 22, 2006


Cribcage, if you want some who brings down the level of discourse, bevet's your man.
posted by Rothko at 7:42 PM on January 22, 2006


There are plenty of reasons to define person as something other than genetic makeup... did you ever take freshman philosophy?
posted by Tullius at 7:43 PM on January 22, 2006


Damnit please don't feed him.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 7:44 PM on January 22, 2006


Sorry, yo. Didn't realize what the story was.
posted by Tullius at 7:46 PM on January 22, 2006


What a lame-ass equivelance.
posted by HTuttle at 7:49 PM on January 22, 2006


slavery: forcing a woman to bear a child against her will.
posted by Malor at 7:49 PM on January 22, 2006


I find it amazing that someone gets smacked-down here for calling this (abortion) a grey-issue.

Maybe civil discourse really isn't possible.
posted by MotorNeuron at 7:54 PM on January 22, 2006


"It's time to shake up this debate. It's time for the abortion-rights movement to declare war on abortion." --William Saletan in the Times today.
posted by muckster at 8:09 PM on January 22, 2006


murder: killing an innocent person when you have the ability not to kill that person.

person: someone with unique human chromosomes that will continue to grow if provided with nutrition and protection. The only reason to suggest ANY other definition is to justify killing other people.

child: a person with 2 parents

abortion = child murder


Malor

slavery: forcing a woman to bear a child against her will.

You have confused 'slavery' with 'biology'. Have your parents had 'the birds and the bees' talk with you yet?
posted by bevets at 8:11 PM on January 22, 2006


I find it amazing that someone gets smacked-down here for calling this (abortion) a grey-issue.

I find it amazing that someone considers who controls one's health choices to be a grey issue.
posted by Rothko at 8:18 PM on January 22, 2006


five fresh fish: Damn straight. There are only two ways to go with this: either abortion is utterly illegal under all circumstances with no exceptions or it must be legal at the mother's discretion.

I sure as hell hope not, otherwise you're going to find abortion utterly illegal under all circumstances. Such a simplistic dichotomy will drive even relatively liberal people like myself directly into the arms of your opponents; I support a woman's right to a first trimester abortion. I will never support a blanket right to a third trimester abortion. And a heck of a lot of people believe the same thing.
posted by Justinian at 8:25 PM on January 22, 2006


I will never support a blanket right to a third trimester abortion. And a heck of a lot of people believe the same thing.

How dare you "impose your will on others" and "control" someone else's "health choices"!
posted by Kwantsar at 8:28 PM on January 22, 2006


If the fetus dies in the course of giving a pregnant woman an emergency delivery, to save the woman's life, I suppose in Kwantsar's mind this would be an abortion and a hideous atrocity. While we're dragging out strawmen, that is.
posted by Rothko at 8:35 PM on January 22, 2006


Heh. I'm pro-choice, pal.

And if you're a pro-choicer who opposes third-trimester abortions, then to you, the issue isn't black and white, is it?
posted by Kwantsar at 8:38 PM on January 22, 2006


bevets - person: someone with unique human chromosomes

So twins aren't people? Cool!

Lock and load!
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:40 PM on January 22, 2006


And if you're a pro-choicer who opposes third-trimester abortions, then to you, the issue isn't black and white, is it?

Since when did my hypothetical moral opposition have anything to do with using laws to curtail someone else's rights? Oops. So much for your strawman.
posted by Rothko at 8:41 PM on January 22, 2006


What? Oh, ok, I'll make sure that they're identical twins.

re: 3rd trimester/late-stage abortions.

More education (in addition to decreasing the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place) and availability of abortion would dramatically decrease the number/requirement of late-stage abortions.

As to "suffering" - what's worse, spending some time in purgatory waiting for someone else to decide whether you're going to spend the rest of eternity in heaven or hell or being born an unwanted child to people (or person) who is unable to care for you and into a situation where the odds of your suffering less is increased comparatively easily by inflicting suffering on others?

Yes, what I just typed is absolute bunk. Hockum. Bupkiss. How many angels can dance on the head of a needle.

Many many conceptions end up in sponatenous abortions. Do anti-choice people blame their deity for these?

Time to firebomb fundamentalist churches, folks.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:48 PM on January 22, 2006


NYT has a nice article about the Abortion Wars.
registration required etc
posted by lalochezia at 8:50 PM on January 22, 2006


People who talk about opposing legalized abortion or euthanasia in terms of "imposing your will on someone else's medical choices" are either deliberately trolling or else incapable — whether due to ignorance, immaturity, or plain stupidity — of comprehending their opponents' positions. And that's remarkable, really; because although it's a complex issue, the fundamentals aren't difficult.

I used to consider myself pro-choice. Even then, I didn't have trouble understanding why pro-life activists honestly believed that abortion was murder. It's pretty simple. Likewise, now that I find myself on the opposite side, I don't have trouble understanding why pro-choice activists honestly believe that restricting abortion infringes a woman's civil rights.

From there, it becomes complex. But for those among us who can't even grasp the surface material, who can't climb beyond parroting rhetoric heard on NPR or FOX News...well, it's a shame we allow them to run the table in this debate. There are plenty of serious issues on the table, and for this one to unilaterally decide the fate of judges is fairly embarrassing.
posted by cribcage at 8:52 PM on January 22, 2006


murder: killing an innocent person when you have the ability not to kill that person.

person: someone with unique human chromosomes that will continue to grow if provided with nutrition and protection. The only reason to suggest ANY other definition is to justify killing other people.

child: a person with 2 parents

abortion = child murder


PurplePorpoise

So twins aren't people? Cool!

The chromosomes are different than the mothers. Unique in that there was never an exact copy before conception.
posted by bevets at 8:53 PM on January 22, 2006


Pro-choice is just that, you believe in a choice. A lot of women who are pro-choice would not choose to have an abortion themselves, but don't feel they should impose their decision on everyone.

And it is solely a woman's issue and choice. I can understand that men feel like they should have a say but in the end it is the woman's decision whether or not to have a baby. And it's not as simple as adoption vs abortion- pregnancy carries some very real and significant health risks for the mother, not to mention the hefty financial impact.
posted by fshgrl at 8:57 PM on January 22, 2006


William Saletan in the Times today.

Saletan is wrong. What has to be driving the anti-abortionists is anti-sex before marriage, because that's part of their religion. Genuine pro-life morality would have to include concern for life after birth, which has never been an issue.
posted by semmi at 8:57 PM on January 22, 2006


I'd actually be willing to consider legal infanticide as a possibility not necessarily outside the realm of what might be a good idea.

Very lonely position these days. Oh, well.
posted by kyrademon at 8:58 PM on January 22, 2006


I can understand that men feel like they should have a say but in the end it is the woman's decision whether or not to have a baby.
Most pro-life advocates don't oppose abortion because they believe they should have a say whether a woman bears their child, fshgrl . They oppose abortion because they believe abortion constitutes murder.
posted by cribcage at 9:08 PM on January 22, 2006


fshgrl

And it is solely a woman's issue and choice. I can understand that men feel like they should have a say but in the end it is the woman's decision whether or not to have a baby. And it's not as simple as adoption vs abortion- pregnancy carries some very real and significant health risks for the mother, not to mention the hefty financial impact.

Should fathers have a choice about whether or not to pay child support?

kyrademon

I'd actually be willing to consider legal infanticide as a possibility not necessarily outside the realm of what might be a good idea.

Very lonely position these days. Oh, well.


Legalized child prostitution is also a very lonely position these days -- for a pretty good reason.

At least you are consistent about the issue of killing children -- how old should a child be before she is legally safe?
posted by bevets at 9:09 PM on January 22, 2006


There are plenty of serious issues on the table, and for this one to unilaterally decide the fate of judges is fairly embarrassing.

Alito making rulings that allow Bush to do whatever he pleases is certainly a serious concern, including taking away the right of a woman to determine her health choices. Many US senators have publicly worried about Alito's seeming inability to recognize separation of powers and the role of the judicial branch.

As a side note, you can't simply call an issue "complex" as a way to absolve yourself of the responsibility for explaining why you write off others' opinions on a subject. Well, you can do that, but you should know that's a pretty weak trick from someone who claims to want a "dialogue".
posted by Rothko at 9:10 PM on January 22, 2006


person: someone with unique human chromosomes

The chromosomes are different than the mothers.


From your link: Each person's genetic code is unique except in the case of identical twins.

Oh, riiight. That's why I vowed not to respond to trolls. Damn alcohol, making me want to insemminate random white wimmen and make them give birth to dirty halfy babies to make daddy god poke baby jesus and make him cry.

That, and responding to trolls.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 9:20 PM on January 22, 2006


As a side note, you can't simply call an issue "complex" as a way to absolve yourself of the responsibility for explaining why you write off others' opinions on a subject.
You've pointed your finger at someone else for raising a "strawman," and now you're accusing me of writing off other people's opinions on this subject. What are you, Captain Irony?

In case that's too obtuse for you: Claiming that pro-life advocates aim to impose their morality on other people's health decisions? That's a straw man. Dismissing other folks' opinions flatly based on a ridiculous assertion about their ulterior motives? That's "writ[ing] off others' opinions on a subject."

As a side note: I realize I don't spend a lot of time over here, but I've seen your handle on MetaTalk and I know you're often called-out for being a troll. This is my first glimpse why.
posted by cribcage at 9:20 PM on January 22, 2006


Both sides are pretty damn easy to characterize, bardic. It's an issue that attracts fanatics and simpletons. They're far outnumbered by those of us capable of civil discussion. It's too bad we allow them to run the debate.

This very basically is a fallacy of moderation. You're suggesting that the moderate view is the correct view simply by virtue of not being "extreme" or "fanatical."

At this point I'd have to ask you to justify the merit of your position without reference to its middle status.

Otherwise, fallacious.
posted by birdie birdington at 9:24 PM on January 22, 2006


"At least you are consistent about the issue of killing children -- how old should a child be before she is legally safe?"

I actually think the system which is, for the most part, de facto in place now - legal up to third month of pregnancy, legal with some qualifications and restrictions up to sixth month of pregnancy, legal only for medical emergencies until birth, and illegal after that - isn't a particularly bad one. I think extending the period farther risks certain kinds of harm to society as a whole, as does rolling it back. So, it seems a reasonable compromise to me.

But, yes, my attitude towards it is pretty consistent in that regard. And I'm willing to listen to arguments both ways. But I have given it a lot of thought, and feel pretty strongly about my ethics as they are.
posted by kyrademon at 9:25 PM on January 22, 2006


You've pointed your finger at someone else for raising a "strawman," and now you're accusing me of writing off other people's opinions on this subject. What are you, Captain Irony?

Only on Tuesdays. Today, I am Captain Obvious. Thanks for addressing the point, by the way. And here's the definition of a strawman, if you want to learn something new.

I've seen your handle on MetaTalk and I know you're often called-out for being a troll.

Sorry, you're thinking of ParisParamus and Dios. I haven't been called out on MetaTalk in over a year.
posted by Rothko at 9:26 PM on January 22, 2006


cribcage: so you deny that the pro-life people are trying to control the decisions of other people?
posted by Malor at 9:26 PM on January 22, 2006


This very basically is a fallacy of moderation. You're suggesting that the moderate view is the correct view simply by virtue of not being "extreme" or "fanatical."
Walking into a debate armed only with the terminology from Introduction to Logic is a dangerous game (although popular on the 'net). I wouldn't think it would require experience in professional politics to know this, but here goes: The moderate view becomes the "correct" view when no discernible absolute exists and your object is to govern. Government is politics, and politics is compromise.
posted by cribcage at 9:31 PM on January 22, 2006


I'm not sure why you think linking to a definition of "straw man" rebuts my assertion that you raised one, Rothko. If I were better-versed in names of fallacies, I'm sure I could tell you which bell that rings; but if you had trouble following, I'll be happy to try again.
The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person's actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position. This sort of "reasoning" has the following pattern:
Pro-life advocates oppose abortion because they believe it constitutes murder. You say, "Pro-life advocates suggest we be polite when the Constitution gets dismantled." You have just raised a straw man.
posted by cribcage at 9:37 PM on January 22, 2006


cribcage - Claiming that pro-life advocates aim to impose their morality on other people's health decisions?

I think you're misconstruing "actions based on morality (which is a completely different animal than ethics) are impinging upon other people's health decisions (which are personal freedoms)" for "morality-based ideology directly aims to impact upon people's health decisions."
posted by PurplePorpoise at 9:37 PM on January 22, 2006


Malor do you deny that legislators are trying to control the decisions of other people when they ban child molestation?
posted by bevets at 9:40 PM on January 22, 2006


You say, "Pro-life advocates suggest we be polite when the Constitution gets dismantled." You have just raised a straw man.

No, actually I said that you were suggesting in a very snide and familiar way that we had better be polite while the Constitution gets dismantled. Go back and re-read what a strawman means, because you don't have a damn clue.
posted by Rothko at 9:40 PM on January 22, 2006


Malor: Of course not. I simply deny that's an intelligent or insightful perspective on the subject. Much of governing is about trying to control the decisions of other people.

But in case you missed it, I wrote earlier: "I don't have trouble understanding why pro-choice activists honestly believe that restricting abortion infringes a woman's civil rights." So your question is redundant: Yes, as I have already stated, I understand that facet of your position.
posted by cribcage at 9:42 PM on January 22, 2006


You say, "Pro-life advocates suggest we be polite when the Constitution gets dismantled."
No, actually I said...
Yes, you did. I'm sorry. I neglected to link to it.
posted by cribcage at 9:45 PM on January 22, 2006


Yes, you did. I'm sorry.

Apology accepted.
posted by Rothko at 9:48 PM on January 22, 2006


Judge Alito's Radical Views
posted by homunculus at 10:18 PM on January 22, 2006


Should fathers have a choice about whether or not to pay child support?

Nope. The fathers "choice" is essentially made when he decides to have sex with the mother. Even using 4 kinds of birth control you know there is a risk she might get pregnant. Getting pregnant is only the beginning of making the baby for the woman, essentially she has a lot more chances to back out. It might not be fair but it's biology. Having a baby is a far greater investment in terms of health, time and money for a woman than a man.

And I think that womans choice has a LOT to do with some people's involvement in the pro-choice movement. Look at the parental notification laws- they only require notification and presumably subsequent punishment for one of the two teens involved. Assuming they are both teens.
posted by fshgrl at 10:26 PM on January 22, 2006


Just a note for the folks who are pro-choice but against "late term" abortions. It's my understanding that abortions performed in the 3rd trimester are actually extremely rare and are generally performed only when there is a serious health risk to the mother-to-be.

Also, according to bevets, I am a child-murderer. Hi bevets! I think you'd find I'm not so bad if you got to know me.

Roe v. Wade made it possible for me to have a safe abortion several years ago, and I am still extremely grateful to have had the option to determine the course of my own life and decide what happens to my own body.

I'm not completely unsympathetic to the pro-life point of view. I'm a vegetarian, for Christ's sake. But the thought of someone trying to tell me that I have no choice but to carry an unwelcome life form in my body for 9 months seems completely insane to me. It seems to leave little room for nuance. I must have sovereignty over my own person.
posted by apis mellifera at 10:26 PM on January 22, 2006


bevets: Actually, I find most government intrusion into child-rearing to be exactly that. The current views on child-rearing, enforced at gunpoint, are producing absolutely horrendous children in many respects.

There are, obviously, cases where the government should intrude... the people locking their kids in cages, for instance. But the number of ways and reasons you can lose your kids these days is appalling. I think the government should need extraordinary evidence to interfere in family life.

In exactly the same way, I think they should need an extraordinary reason to enslave a woman and force her to bear a child she does not want. I would hope she would make a good decision, but I think she should have the choice.

The evil of chaining women is far greater than the evil of losing embryos.
posted by Malor at 10:33 PM on January 22, 2006


Rothko hates babies.
posted by Carbolic at 10:47 PM on January 22, 2006


I personally find the idea of having a civil discussion with those who would impose their religious beliefs on others' reproductive choices -- and make that imposition law -- as distasteful as the idea of having a civil discussion with those who would tell me that I am damned to hell for being a Jew.


The discussion is inherently uncivil. Don't expect politeness from me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:48 PM on January 22, 2006


Not to mention all the pro-life people I personally know who have had fertility treatments which involve creating a number of embryos knowing that most of them will die or be deliberately killed. That, somehow, is OK.
posted by fshgrl at 10:51 PM on January 22, 2006


fshgrl:

To play devil's advocate, why is it okay if a man's "choice" is completely ended when he chooses to have sex but not okay if a woman's choice is likewise ended? You're saying that a man can have his later choices curtailed because he chose to have sex, but a woman shouldn't have her later choices curtailed despite making the same choice to have sex.
posted by Justinian at 10:52 PM on January 22, 2006


Rothko hates babies.

And trolls, too. I fucking hate miserable, weasely little trolls.
posted by Rothko at 10:56 PM on January 22, 2006


Astro Zombie: That's funny. My understanding of the Jewish faith is that Jews are the chosen people and that I'm damned to hell for not being a Jew. I can't speak to your personal faith; but if I remember this book correctly, both a Reform rabbi and an Orthodox rabbi agreed on that (if not much else). That didn't stop me from thinking both were brilliant men and recommending the book to others. (For all I know, maybe they're right!)

In any case, I think it's unfortunate if you're unable to divorce this discussion from religion. I think we can agree murder is wrong without reconciling our theologies, and I don't see how believing that abortion constitutes murder requires faith in the Holy Trinity.
posted by cribcage at 11:17 PM on January 22, 2006


Since when did my hypothetical moral opposition have anything to do with using laws to curtail someone else's rights? Oops. So much for your strawman.

Hypothetical moral opposition? So I should divorce your comments from your position? Seriously, man, I've got tweety birds flying around my head while I'm trying to figure out what you're asserting. I stand in awe of your sophistry.

Apology accepted.

Wow. What a dick.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:26 PM on January 22, 2006


Hypothetical moral opposition? So I should divorce your comments from your position? Seriously, man, I've got tweety birds flying around my head while I'm trying to figure out what you're asserting. I stand in awe of your sophistry.

And I stand in awe of your vapid, if not deliberate stupidity. I can (and do) take a libertarian view about, say, the criminality of hard drugs, while thinking that anyone who decides to take them is a dumbass. Likewise, I don't think abortion is always the best option, but it should be 100% legal and available regardless of my personal views about it.

See, unlike you, I can divorce my personal moral views from what standards of behavior should apply to everyone (including myself), so that I'm not shoving my own morality down another person's throat against their will, and likewise by others unto me.

Wow. What a dick.

Likewise. You tried to reinvent my views on the subject with your sloppy rhetoric — and you got caught again. Don't cry.
posted by Rothko at 11:40 PM on January 22, 2006


Hi, Justinian. I've never met you, but you're the shit. Politics is most certainly a game of swinging the pendulum in a direction rather than getting an entire society to do exactly what one thinks is a good idea. e.g. As much of a douche as I think Bush is, I highly doubt that he gives two shits what gay people do with their lives.

Also, the point you made to fshgrl is completely valid. I can sympathize with her, as if I were a woman I would most certainly be pro-choice. However, as a man I see the subjectivity of that position and ensuing apologetics (is this a term used outside of religion?) performed. The truth of the situation is that I am still pro-choice, but instead of thoughtlessly defending my position, I enjoy and find interesting the arguments presented by the (rational members of the) other side.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 11:42 PM on January 22, 2006


So, Rothko, you've somehow managed not to explain what your views are. What does "100% legal and available" mean? All abortions should be legal, regardless of procedure and timing?

Is it your view that "If you don't like abortions, then don't have one?"

See, unlike you, I can divorce my personal moral views from what standards of behavior should apply to everyone (including myself), so that I'm not shoving my own morality down another person's throat against their will, and likewise by others unto me.

Really? Unlike me? I'm not really sure where I staked out a position on the topic. Why don't you tell me what my position is?

Don't cry.

Wow. What a dick.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:48 PM on January 22, 2006


Kwantsar: Right back at you, sweetheart. Good luck with that chip on your shoulder.
posted by Rothko at 11:50 PM on January 22, 2006


I was looking around for the stages of fetal brain development. I happened across a site discussing and summing up the beliefs of both sides in a very evenhanded way. As they point out, the real crux of the matter isn't so much "is a fetus human life", but "when does a fetus become a person?".

I found the evidence I was looking for .... the fetus becomes conscious at week 26. I would never be involved with an abortion after that point, short of dire medical emergency, though of course I wouldn't dream of making that choice for someone else. Consciousness is what makes people PEOPLE, and not cats, dogs, or various barnyard animals. As far as I'm concerned, if it's not conscious yet, it's not a person, and it's at least tolerable to abort it.

The really nice thing about the whole pro-choice movement is that you can think about it and decide your stance for yourself, instead of other people deciding for you. Kinda nice, this freedom stuff. Could get used to it.
posted by Malor at 12:05 AM on January 23, 2006


This is going well.

This is not a grey issue. It's simple. The fact that people think it's complicated is just weird.

Abortion is naturally distasteful. As animals, we're programmed to ensure we and the people we care about go to full term. Whatever arguments people have against it are simple minded explanations for that deep-seated unease.

"I don't feel good about this... Must think of reason... Well, it's like murder isn't it. It is murder... Murderers."

However, as distasteful as it is, we sometimes recognise that we can't or don't want to look after our children. Emotionally, it's difficult, but sometimes we just gotta do the human equivalent of eating our babies.

Women should be allowed to choose whether they will pour their resources into continuing the family line, and the people around them should help and support them after they have made what is often a very difficult choice.

Also, religions which place constraints on birth control are going to do better than religions that don't. I'm not saying that places like the Vatican deliberately ban birth control and abortion to ensure the religion grows, but as an edict, birth control regulations are ... contagious.
posted by seanyboy at 12:19 AM on January 23, 2006


That's funny. My understanding of the Jewish faith is that Jews are the chosen people and that I'm damned to hell for not being a Jew.

Man, are you wrong. Do a little more research.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:06 AM on January 23, 2006


"That's funny. My understanding of the Jewish faith is that Jews are the chosen people and that I'm damned to hell for not being a Jew."

Your understanding is completely incorrect. Hell isn't even a part of Judaism. And one of the teachings of Judaism is that Jews actually have to follow MORE RULES AND COMMANDMENTS than Gentiles do in order to get in good with god, because they are the chosen people. In short, what the heck are you talking about?
posted by kyrademon at 1:20 AM on January 23, 2006


bevets: "person: someone with unique human chromosomes that will continue to grow if provided with nutrition and protection. The only reason to suggest ANY other definition is to justify killing other people."

Errr... by this definition a zygote would be a person. You are aware, aren't you, that nidation happens in only about 30-40% of all cases, and that what you choose to define as a person is more likely to "die" than ever have a chance to exist, and that's without human interference (just the way the Creator set things up)?
posted by PontifexPrimus at 2:29 AM on January 23, 2006


Don't be melodramatic. Look down there. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you 20,000 pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money?

Oh bevets, choose me!

I'll tip the whole dam cup of sperm down the sink for 3000000000000 pounds.
posted by Tuatara at 2:52 AM on January 23, 2006


why is it okay if a man's "choice" is completely ended when he chooses to have sex but not okay if a woman's choice is likewise ended?

Presumably because the pregnancy takes place within the woman's body, Justinian. If women laid eggs instead of having to carry babies inside them for the better part of a year, we wouldn't have these problems. Most of 'em, anyway...
posted by Gator at 4:41 AM on January 23, 2006


murder: killing an innocent person when you have the ability not to kill that person.

person: someone with unique human chromosomes that will continue to grow if provided with nutrition and protection. The only reason to suggest ANY other definition is to justify killing other people.

child: a person with 2 parents

abortion = child murder

fshgrl

And it is solely a woman's issue and choice. I can understand that men feel like they should have a say but in the end it is the woman's decision whether or not to have a baby. And it's not as simple as adoption vs abortion- pregnancy carries some very real and significant health risks for the mother, not to mention the hefty financial impact.

bevets

Should fathers have a choice about whether or not to pay child support?

fshgrl

Nope. The fathers "choice" is essentially made when he decides to have sex with the mother. Even using 4 kinds of birth control you know there is a risk she might get pregnant. Getting pregnant is only the beginning of making the baby for the woman, essentially she has a lot more chances to back out. It might not be fair but it's biology. Having a baby is a far greater investment in terms of health, time and money for a woman than a man.


Why is it okay if a man's "choice" is completely ended when he chooses to have sex but not okay if a woman's choice is likewise ended? You're saying that a man can have his later choices curtailed because he chose to have sex, but a woman shouldn't have her later choices curtailed despite making the same choice to have sex.

apis mellifera

Also, according to bevets, I am a child-murderer. Hi bevets! I think you'd find I'm not so bad if you got to know me.

I am told that Jeffrey Dahmer had a wonderful sense of humor. I fully expect, with the exception of murdering your children, you have many fine qualities.

Roe v. Wade made it possible for me to have a safe abortion several years ago, and I am still extremely grateful to have had the option to determine the course of my own life and decide what happens to my own body.

The decision we are discussing is what should have happened with your daughter's body.
posted by bevets at 4:52 AM on January 23, 2006


bevets: Because the man is not in danger, or even mildly inconvenienced, in losing that choice. The woman is forced to endure many months of discomfort, possible loss of a job, and then the dangerous and body-changing process of actually giving birth itself. No woman, anywhere, should be FORCED to go through that.

Bevets, you seem pretty intent about this life saving thing. To save one of these fetuses, would you be willing to wear a heavy weight around your middle for nine months, and then go through some kind of operation that inflicts equivalent pain and distress as childbirth? And we'll generate a random number from 1-100... if it's equal to or less than the chance of death for a woman in childbirth. If you rnumber comes up, you'll die.

If your motivation is really about saving life, then you should do that in a heartbeat, and you should be offering to do it over and over for your entire life. ("If you keep that baby, I'll go through pregnancy with you... it's not that bad, really.") Somehow, I don't think you'll be willing to do that, because I don't think you REALLY care about the babies. I think you REALLY want to punish women for having sex.
posted by Malor at 5:05 AM on January 23, 2006


Ack, I edited that poorly. "We'll generate a random number from 1-100. If the number is less than the chance of death in childbirth, you'll die there on the table."
posted by Malor at 5:06 AM on January 23, 2006


"People suck, there's too many of them, and they are easier to kill when they are fetuses than when they're growing up."

"Those of you who have children, I am sorry to tell you this, but they are not special. Wait! I know some of you are going: 'What, what?' Let me just clarify: I know you think they're special ... ha ha ha! I'm aware of that. I'm just here to tell you that they're not! Ha ha ha ha! Sorry. Did you know that every time a guy comes, he comes two-hundred million sperm? One out of two-hundred million – that load, we're only talking about one load – connected: Gee, what are the fucking odds? Do you know what that means? I've wiped nations off've my chest with a grey gymsock. Entire civilizations have flaked and crusted in the hair around my navel! [...] I've tossed universes in my underpants while napping. Boom! A Milkyway shoots into my jockeyshorts: 'Unngh ... what's for fucking breakfast?!'"


--- R.I.P., William Melvin Hicks.
posted by Drexen at 5:10 AM on January 23, 2006


I don't think you REALLY care about the babies. I think you REALLY want to punish women for having sex.
That would be an incredible statement if I hadn't heard it so many times before. It's absurd, of course; but fortunately, I haven't met many pro-choice politicians who actually subscribe to it.

Astro Zombie: Well, at least you were honest about your disinterest in civil discussion.
posted by cribcage at 5:56 AM on January 23, 2006


The actions of pro-lifers also betray their sometimes less-than-pure motives. They spend such a great deal of time protesting with the fetus pictures and harrassing women at clinics.

Do you really want to end abortion? Really? OK, I'll tell you how. Start writing your senators and congressmen and urging them to fund research into better, safer, cheaper, and easier-to-use contraceptives. Ask them to push for more effective contraceptives, too, because even the best ones do fail predictably. Ask them to mandate full, detailed sex and sexual health education in schools and other youth communities. Ask them to demand that health insurance providers always include birth control in the covered prescrption plan. Fund programs that provide birth control and sexual health education to women who are in poor communities, are non-English-speaking, or live in outlying rural areas.

Seriously: abortion is not a choice people want to make. It's expensive, uncomfortable, and sad. It's not something women gleefully do. They do it because it's the very last measure they can take to control childbirth. If we spent more time on the many other pieces of the puzzle (why do women end up with unwanted pregnancies in the first place?) abortion would be far more rare and far less an issue.
posted by Miko at 5:59 AM on January 23, 2006


Most pro-life advocates don't oppose abortion because they believe they should have a say whether a woman bears their child, fshgrl . They oppose abortion because they believe abortion constitutes murder.

Yet they're strangely silent when murder is happening daily to little innocent children already in this world, say, in Iraq or due to abuse. Why is it that one situation is worth trying to overturn laws for, yet the other situations that kill kids aren't? ... Each day in the United States, more than 4 children die as a result of child abuse in the home. ...Research studies of infant death data drawn from multiple agency records (e.g., police or social service records) indicate that the actual rate of infant deaths attributable to substantial abuse or neglect of infants and children up to four years of age is more than twice as high as the official rates reported in death certificate data. ....

It seems to me that pro-lifers aren't being honest at all when they speak of murder, or we'd see massive and public campaigns to protect children and to change laws to do so and to intimidate and threaten those who harm children, etc. Why the silence there?
posted by amberglow at 6:06 AM on January 23, 2006


many perfectly reasonable people differ or where the human-being/not-a-human-being line should be drawn.
posted by Kwantsar


Masturbation is murder! That's where the line is drawn.

I say we arm the little blastocysts so they can defend themselves! Tiny little AK-47s with RPGs!

Pro-family
Pro-life
Pro-choice

parroting rhetoric heard on NPR or FOX News - cribcage
So we have a choice of Nice Polite Republicans and stark raving mad lunatics to parrot, eh? Your bias is showing. :-)

The entire issue of abortion is whether religious fundamentalist leaders should make your moral choices for you or not, full stop. That is not grey at all.

When our governments stop executing people to show people that executing people is wrong and when manufacturing weapons to murder people ceases to be the biggest business in the US (military industrial complex) THEN come back to me and let's discuss whether or not a person should have a choice to terminate the growth of a blastocyst.

And IF abortions were made illegal and punishable by law, shall we imprison each and every woman who has a miscarriage?
posted by nofundy at 6:10 AM on January 23, 2006


and what Miko said. Why is it that pro-life people are often the same ones agitating against birth control, and effective, realistic sex ed., which would reduce the number of abortions, something you say they consider murder? Wouldn't wanting to end "murder" mean you would work towards all methods that would do so, if it really is considered "murder"? Aren't pro-lifers actually perpetuating higher abortion rates because of that? Don't you have any responsibility towards providing people with the information they need so they won't have to abort?
posted by amberglow at 6:12 AM on January 23, 2006


amberglow: First of all, I don't grant your premise; I don't think most pro-lifers are silent with regard to punishing child abusers, child rapists, child murderers, etc. I think that's been an incredibly high-profile issue in recent years. Here in Massachusetts, the rape and murder of Jeffrey Curley (the infamous NAMBLA case) resulted in such a furor that we nearly saw the death penalty revived. One prominent Republican has made this a cornerstone of every campaign — not capital punishment, but pushing for (and getting) more strict laws to punish criminals who harm children.

But you asked a good question nonetheless, and here's the answer: In the case of abortion, there's a perception that it's OK. This isn't true with child abuse, or drunk driving, or a hundred other crimes that we'd like to change. And if you take a moment to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone who believes that abortion is murder, you'll understand why they believe that its perception as an acceptable medical procedure is corrosive to the very fabric of society.
posted by cribcage at 6:20 AM on January 23, 2006


The entire issue of abortion is whether religious fundamentalist leaders should make your moral choices for you or not, full stop.
I don't understand your inability to discuss this without referencing religion. Is it because you're deliberately trying to paint your opponents with a particular brush, or are you really incapable of understanding that people oppose murder regardless of religion?
posted by cribcage at 6:25 AM on January 23, 2006


and why agitate for laws that end up harming women who continue their pregnancies to term and actually give birth?
posted by amberglow at 6:26 AM on January 23, 2006


cribcage, it rings false when those same people who you say oppose murder actually don't oppose murder at all in every other circumstance. it's not honest, nor is it consistent at all. People who genuinely oppose murder oppose it in all the forms it occurs, not just in this one instance. They oppose murder when it happens to the already-born, and when it happens to criminals, and during wartime, etc. They consistently value all life in all its forms.
posted by amberglow at 6:29 AM on January 23, 2006


amberglow: I know plenty of advocates on both sides of this debate, and none of them oppose birth control. None of them oppose sex education per se, either, although they protest under certain circumstances where they feel it crosses a line into encouraging kids to have sex. Handing out condoms in school, for instance — you can defend it, but let's not pretend it falls under the banner of "education."

But you're right: Miko's point is excellent. We should do everything we can to find more effective contraceptives and solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies before they begin. But it doesn't follow that, in the meantime, it's OK to resort to murder.
posted by cribcage at 6:33 AM on January 23, 2006


murder: killing an innocent person when you have the ability not to kill that person.

person: someone with unique human chromosomes that will continue to grow if provided with nutrition and protection. The only reason to suggest ANY other definition is to justify killing other people.

child: a person with 2 parents

abortion = child murder


amberglow

it rings false when those same people who you say oppose murder actually don't oppose murder at all in every other circumstance. it's not honest, nor is it consistent at all. People who genuinely oppose murder oppose it in all the forms it occurs, not just in this one instance. They oppose murder when it happens to the already-born, and when it happens to criminals, and during wartime, etc. They consistently value all life in all its forms.

Have you ever murdered a mosquito?
posted by bevets at 6:35 AM on January 23, 2006


amberglow: You're right: Many pro-life advocates support capital punishment, and there's an inherent inconsistency. They might answer that inconsistency is resolved by distinguishing between an innocent baby and a criminal adult — but ignoring their counterarguments, you're correct that it's inconsistent. In your experience, is it rare for people to be inconsistent? It seems to me that people are inconsistent about many things. It doesn't necessarily follow that they're insincere.
posted by cribcage at 6:37 AM on January 23, 2006


and crib, don't you see the weirdness and incomprehensibility of wanting to have child abusers killed, but considering yourself pro-life?

does that mean that women who abort should be killed too, or put in prison like a child abuser? what does that mean? does wanting death for someone really mean you're pro-life? in any way, shape or form?
posted by amberglow at 6:39 AM on January 23, 2006


. And if you take a moment to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone who believes that abortion is murder, you'll understand why they believe that its perception as an acceptable medical procedure is corrosive to the very fabric of society.

Uh, I very much doubt most pro-lifers give a damn about the good of society. The question of how abortion affects society can be settled by revieweing its effects over the last 33 years and examining other societies where abortion isn't just legal, but it has much less stigma than in America. Why isn't this being done? Because there is no credible argument that abortion is in any way "corrosive to the very fabric of society."

I don't understand your inability to discuss this without referencing religion. Is it because you're deliberately trying to paint your opponents with a particular brush, or are you really incapable of understanding that people oppose murder regardless of religion?

I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions but let's not ignore the obvious truth: most of the pro-life sentiment in America is driven exclusively by a clear religious interest that extends beyond the particulars of the abortion debate. If you won't acknowledge this then it's you who're intent on mischaracterizing the pro-lifers.
posted by nixerman at 6:41 AM on January 23, 2006


Handing out condoms in school, for instance — you can defend it, but let's not pretend it falls under the banner of "education."

But you're right: Miko's point is excellent. We should do everything we can to find more effective contraceptives and solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies before they begin. But it doesn't follow that, in the meantime, it's OK to resort to murder.


Handing out condoms reduces unwanted pregnancies and therefore reduces abortions. Barrier methods are very important, or should be, it seems, especially to pro-lifers, since they prevent sperm and egg from joining and creating that life you think happens right then. It's a vital part of education, since teens have sex, you know, and education is about giving kids the tools they need to function in society. We give kids all sorts of tools as part of their education.

And saying that you should do everything you can while the opposite happens as a direct result of those very pro-lifers' actions is dishonest in the extreme, and you need to know it makes many of your statements ring false. Pro-lifers are agitating not for effective prevention and education, but for the exact opposite.
posted by amberglow at 6:50 AM on January 23, 2006


I very much doubt most pro-lifers give a damn about the good of society.
It's exactly that sort of comment that ends purposeful discussion and drags us into the gutter. Fortunately, most politicians tasked with representing your interests aren't saddled with your attitude. We're a large nation comprised of disparate interests, and we rely on compromise to exist peacefully together. It simply wouldn't work if our statesmen couldn't at least agree that all sides ultimately want what's best for society.
posted by cribcage at 6:52 AM on January 23, 2006


And saying that you should do everything you can while the opposite happens as a direct result of those very pro-lifers' actions...
You're contending that my pro-life advocacy somehow prevents the development of better birth control?
Handing out condoms reduces unwanted pregnancies and therefore reduces abortions.
I'll say again that the reality of unwanted pregnancy does not, for many people, justify abortion. Also, abstinence reduces unwanted pregnancies far more effectively than condoms; and I'd add that even many people who believe kids should have access to condoms don't believe that schools are the appropriate venue.
posted by cribcage at 6:58 AM on January 23, 2006


We're a large nation comprised of disparate interests, and we rely on compromise to exist peacefully together.

It's for exactly this reason that the convictions of individuals should not be enshrined in laws that would make medical determinations for me based upon beliefs I do not accept; especially when those convictions cannot be demonstrated to be true beyond a shadow of a doubt. The existence of abortion rights is the least restrictive structure. If abortion rights are curtailed, one group's rights and freedoms are abridged in the name of another group's convictions.
posted by Miko at 6:58 AM on January 23, 2006


abstinence reduces unwanted pregnancies far more effectively than condoms

It's obvious that if kids always practiced abstinence, there would be no unwanted pregnancies. But there are slews of data to show that they don't. What's more, kids who are exposed to abstinence-only programs, who are never shown a condom and wouldn't know how to get or use one properly, are a ticking time bomb. They've got no knowledge. So that when the inevitable happens and some of them do end up having extramarital sex, they have very little knowledge with which to protect themselves.
posted by Miko at 7:01 AM on January 23, 2006


It's exactly that sort of comment that ends purposeful discussion and drags us into the gutter.

Well, what's so strange is that you seem to have so much insight into the motivations of pro-lifers and this insight is unique only to you. Are you simply giving the pro-lifers the benefit of the doubt? Do you simply assume that since they're citizens then their inherent interest is the good of society?

We're a large nation comprised of disparate interests, and we rely on compromise to exist peacefully together.

Again, I think this is a remarkable statement. Do you really believe that compromise is possible here? When one side sincerely believes that the other side is murdering children?

It simply wouldn't work if our statesmen couldn't at least agree that all sides ultimately want what's best for society.

You know, I don't think I've ever seen a pragmatic argument against abortion. This statement is just false. The foundation of the pro-life stance is that abortion is murder and fundamentally wrong, not that it's bad for society. Do you know something I don't know?
posted by nixerman at 7:02 AM on January 23, 2006


Do you really believe that compromise is possible here?

I fully expect this comment to go completely unnoticed and/or dismissed as irrelevant, but you know what I wish? That medical science would advance to the point where unwanted human embryos/fetuses could be be safely transplanted, live and viable, into the uteruses of women who want to bear and have children. I have wished this for many years, because it would ease a lot of concerns on both sides. Oh, well. Wish in one hand, shit in the other...
posted by Gator at 7:10 AM on January 23, 2006


Miko: I understand how you feel, but it's hard not to dismiss that argument offhand. Nearly all legislation consists of enshrining convictions into law. Arguing that it shouldn't happen demonstrates a misunderstanding of government, and it's difficult to have a constructive conversation from that premise.

And not to get too sidetracked by arguing about condoms: But you're right, there's lots of evidence that kids don't practice abstinence. I'd answer first that the solution isn't to throw our hands up in the air and hand them condoms and hotel keys; and second, that there's plenty of evidence that kids (and adults, for that matter) don't use condoms when they're available. As for knowledge — well, there's a world of difference between explaining contraception and making it available in school. I support the former.
posted by cribcage at 7:17 AM on January 23, 2006


You're contending that my pro-life advocacy somehow prevents the development of better birth control?

Why yes--yes i am. It's actually a fact: ...In addition to litigation, the climate created by anti-choice politics as well as direct action by anti-choice activists have further deterred pharmaceutical companies from pursuing contraceptive research, development, and marketing. Many in the anti-choice movement believe that common methods of contraception, such as birth control pills and other hormonal methods, actually cause abortion because they may prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. ...
Anti-abortion groups are not the only ones to spread such misinformation. Anti-choice legislators in Congress have also injected abortion into discussions about contraception
in order to promote anti-contraception policies. ... Linking contraception to abortion has caused some pharmaceutical companies to shy away from contraceptive research and development. ...

posted by amberglow at 7:20 AM on January 23, 2006


Gator, wouldn't that still subject women to a medical procedure/serious operation they may not want, and which could really harm them? Wouldn't they still have to be cut open to get to those embryos?
posted by amberglow at 7:24 AM on January 23, 2006


amberglow: I think that's a ridiculous assertion. But if it weren't, according to your excerpt, I'd suggest your problem is with whichever pharmaceutical companies have rejected pursuing potentiallly lucrative research in favor of supporting some fringe political belief.

I'd add that every time someone on your side characterizes me as "anti-choice," it makes me want to smile, "You're pro-death. See? I can do it, too."
posted by cribcage at 7:25 AM on January 23, 2006


The entire issue of abortion is whether religious fundamentalist leaders should make your moral choices for you or not, full stop.

I don't understand your inability to discuss this without referencing religion. Is it because you're deliberately trying to paint your opponents with a particular brush


No broad brush here. I think it is you who is deliberately trying to re-paint anti-abortionists as something they are not. Do I have to go into the details of where nearly all these people come from and who controls them? They're nearly all religious fundies and are controlled by their power hungry leaders. Why deny that?
Also recognize that the majority of Americans support abortion rights while a very vocal minority are doing everything in their power, including destroying constitutional rights, to punish those who have or provide abortions. You're never gonna stop abortions by punitive measures so let's not pretend that making it illegal will miraculously put an end to people having unprotected sex. Just say no my Nancy Reagan flavored ass!
Let's discuss the inherent hypocrisy in the stance of those who would have doctors who perform abortions or women who have abortions executed for murder as somehow being "pro-life." Phhhfffttt!!!

So, that leaves how best to PREVENT unwanted pregnancies and how to provide for unwanted babies. That doesn't entail stirring up the congregation during election season not does it mean getting a loaded Supreme Court or marching around calling women who have abortions names and spitting on them. It's needs little things called compassion and education and adoption. Let's see these hypocrites do something constructive instead of tearing down others and our constitution in order to punish those with whom they disagree!
posted by nofundy at 7:28 AM on January 23, 2006


amberglow, since you ask, my wish-procedure would be similar to/as safe as an abortion.
posted by Gator at 7:29 AM on January 23, 2006


Also recognize that the majority of Americans support abortion rights...
The last Gallup poll I read projected people who identify as pro-choice/pro-life at 53/42 with a +/- 3%. I suppose you can use the word "majority" if you like, but it's simply not accurate to pretend that yours is the sweepingly popular belief.
Let's discuss the inherent hypocrisy in the stance of those who would have doctors who perform abortions or women who have abortions executed for murder...
Why? There are nuts on both sides. Why dignify their nonsense by discussing it? What would we hope to accomplish?
posted by cribcage at 7:35 AM on January 23, 2006


no crib, it's not ridiculous, and it's a direct result of the chilling climate and fear pro-lifers have created--something not good for society at all, by any measure. When doctors are threatened, when companies are threatened with protests and lawsuits and are bullied into not developing new methods or releasing better products into the US market, when women don't have access to legal medical care, when laws are passed punishing women...That's not something that helps society at all. It might make some people happy, but it's corrosive and damaging--and not conducive towards life. While Roe v. Wade is still legal for now, pro-lifers have already made it immeasurably harder for women to control their own lives and reproductive systems, and to get access to contraceptives and birth control methods (including barrier methods which do not cause fertilization) women in other countries can access, and that's not something any American should be proud of. Limiting anyone's options is not a good thing.
posted by amberglow at 7:40 AM on January 23, 2006


the solution isn't to throw our hands up in the air and hand them condoms and hotel keys

Did anyone suggest that? Honestly, if that's what you think 'sex education' is, you're terribly misguided. This sort of simplistic hyperbole is not creating the atmosphere of civil debate you claim to seek.

Nearly all legislation consists of enshrining convictions into law.

Not convictions that require an individual to subject her body to a dangerous and painful physical process and to a legal obligation for a child she has been forced to bear. That's slavery.


Finally, can you give us a link to the Gallup poll? I'd like to see how the questions were framed.

The reason I ask is that, depending on how the question is asked, poll responses on abortion vary widely; to the point of near-unusability. It all depends who's asking and how they ask. Sometimes, the wording of the questions elicits different responses even from the same people.

Political observers often note that the compromise created under Roe satisfies the majority of Americans, by and large, as workable law. We must remember that Roe is already a compromise; in setting up the structure allowing a different legal status for each trimester, Roe took into account the arguments about consciousness, risks to health, and fetal viability. That's why Roe permits state laws that limit access to abortion after the first trimester. Now this compromise is not felt to be good enough for those who believe that this concept of 'life' begins at the moment of conception. A belief, I might add, which would necessitate opposition to most hormonal birth-control methods which are now commonly used, such as the pill. If destroying a zygote equals murder, then using the pill is murder too.

The law works. What we're faced with is that the public becomes inflamed (for or against)by the attempts of extremists to change the law to prevent access to all abortions, and then the defenders of the law have to adopt equally vociferous measures to keep it in place. This lends to the debate an all-or-nothing feel, when really, the lack of serious challenge to Roe itself over its lifetime so far indicates its utility as a workable compromise. Most Americans are OK with it, even if they are unhappy with the idea of abortion.

And as to the language; I don't really llike the terms "pro-lie" and "pro-choice", but I use them as shorthand because we all sort of know what they mean. But for specificity, I prefer "pro-abortion rights" and "anti-abortion rights."
posted by Miko at 7:57 AM on January 23, 2006


heh. pro-life.
posted by Miko at 7:59 AM on January 23, 2006


something like 88% of abortions take place in the first trimester, and then the next 11% in the second - third term abortions are rare.

cribcage, I appreciate your viewpoint, but doesn't it seem reasonable to leave these determinations up to the women whose bodies are actually being taken over? When life begins is not something we can easily answer - we don't know when consciousness normally gets going; most of us don't have memories from before around 2 years old. But before birth, the fetus is a major burden on the woman carrying it. Since the question is not one with a clear answer, isn't individual choice a fair way? You can encourage people to make choices you consider positive without outlawing a choice you do not support. Vegetarianism has increased over past decades without anyone outlawing meat - perhaps the pro-'life' contingent should focus on resources for children rather than trying to get abortion laws reversed.
posted by mdn at 8:04 AM on January 23, 2006


Honestly, if that's what you think 'sex education' is, you're terribly misguided.
I've typed a lot in this thread, so you might have skipped this: "Handing out condoms in school, for instance — you can defend it, but let's not pretend it falls under the banner of 'education.'"

As for "simplistic hyperbole"...you just said that criminalizing abortion would be slavery.
...really, the lack of serious challenge to Roe itself over its lifetime so far indicates its utility as a workable compromise.
On this we agree, which is why I've twice said above that I think it's foolish for this issue to decide the fate of judicial nominations.
can you give us a link to the Gallup poll? I'd like to see how the questions were framed.
I saw it on paper, not online — but a quick Google search returns this page. The data I cited seems to appear under the second question, which is phrased, "With respect to the abortion issue, would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life?"
posted by cribcage at 8:30 AM on January 23, 2006


I appreciate your viewpoint, but doesn't it seem reasonable to leave these determinations up to the women whose bodies are actually being taken over? When life begins is not something we can easily answer...
That's exactly why it doesn't seem reasonable to leave the decision to individual discretion. Because we can't be certain when life begins, I believe we should err on the side of caution and prohibit abortion across the board. (Except in cases of medical necessity. Again, I don't know any rational pro-life advocates who don't agree with this exception. I can't speak for the folks holding signs outside clinics.)

This is exactly why I'm pro-life, and it's where we come back to how this issue affects society beyond mother and child.
posted by cribcage at 8:38 AM on January 23, 2006


cribcage, in my eyes calling it "slavery" isn't hyperbole. Telling a woman she has no choice but to bear a child against her will is taking away her physical freedom and self-determination for at least the term of the pregnancy. In this model, who is the 'owner'? The fetus, whose rights would supercede those of an adult, independently living woman.

And I just don't agree with 'erring on the side of life.' We don't use the standard of erring on the side of greatest caution in any of our other laws -- environmental, social, or business. We use the standard of least restriction. So why exercise caution on only this?

Handing out condoms in school: I've never considered this strictly necessary. but kids should know about condoms and all other methods of birth control, their pluses and minuses, their failure rates, how to use them, and where to get them. There should be very few obstacles to acquiring them, so as to make them very easy to have and use. So if a school health education program, and school public health programs, approve their distribution in a school within the context of a well-constructed sex education curriculum, I'm all for it. If it can't happen in school, there needs to be a source in every community that all kids are welcome to use without persecution or embarrassment.
posted by Miko at 8:52 AM on January 23, 2006


I can't speak for the folks holding signs outside clinics.

But, ironically, you think you are competent to speak for the people inside the clinics, as far as what healthcare options they should be allowed access to.
posted by Rothko at 8:57 AM on January 23, 2006


But you're right, there's lots of evidence that kids don't practice abstinence. I'd answer first that the solution isn't to throw our hands up in the air and hand them condoms and hotel keys

"Condoms and hotel keys"?

Are you fucking kidding? Show us a sex ed class anywhere in the country that does this, please.
posted by Rothko at 9:00 AM on January 23, 2006


Thank you for clarifying the Gallup poll question. It bears out my point: asking people whether they identify as "pro-life" or "pro-choice" is not at all the same as asking whether they favor legal abortion and, if so, under what conditions.
posted by Miko at 9:10 AM on January 23, 2006


Malor do you deny that legislators are trying to control the decisions of other people when they ban child molestation?
posted by bevets at 12:40 AM EST on January 23 [!]


One of the finest examples of strawman I've ever seen. bevets is threat to the very fabric of our society.

And trolls, too. I fucking hate miserable, weasely little trolls.
posted by Rothko at 1:56 AM EST on January 23 [!]


Rothko hates himself.
posted by juiceCake at 9:13 AM on January 23, 2006


JuiceCake, you're awesome!
posted by Rothko at 9:18 AM on January 23, 2006


To add to that last comment: Anyone following this thread should definitely look at those poll summaries. Checl out the first two Gallups and also the ABC news polls, all of which provide a range of answers from most to least restrictive. You'll find that people who express interest in greater restrictions on abortion number a little over a third. Then, when you add together people who prefer that things stay the same or that they become less restrictive, you get numbers approaching two-thirds -- not a 50-50 split at all.

Just reading through the variety and framing of the questions gives you a sense of how hard it is to get a read on the public view of abortion. It all depends how and when and whom you ask. That's why poll numbers should not be taken as the sole basis for legislative activities.
posted by Miko at 9:23 AM on January 23, 2006


...in my eyes calling it "slavery" isn't hyperbole. Telling a woman she has no choice but to bear a child against her will...
I assume you understand that I'm not in favor of strapping down women, impregnating them, and forcing them to bear the resulting children. That seems to be your characterization of my position.

Re: Gallup: Of course, asking people about abortion under different conditions would be a different question. But that isn't what I wrote. I said, "The last Gallup poll I read projected people who identify as pro-choice/pro-life at 53/42 with a +/- 3%." That's an accurate representation of the poll, no?

Beyond that, I'm not sure what you're implying. That >50% would probably agree that abortion is acceptable when the mother's life at risk? Or that <5 0% would probably agree that late-term abortion should be prohibited as a means of contraception? i think both are probably true.blockquote>That's why poll numbers should not be taken as the sole basis for legislative activities.Agreed, which is something I've argued with more than a few politicians. We vote in a republic; it's their job to substitute their judgment for ours.
posted by cribcage at 9:34 AM on January 23, 2006


Next they will try to make cutting your toenails illegal.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:57 AM on January 23, 2006


I will never support a blanket right to a third trimester abortion. And a heck of a lot of people believe the same thing.

That's a shame.

I believe that almost all women will make an abortion decision that almost all of us can agree is responsible. I believe that it would be difficult for most women to find a doctor who is willing to refer or perform a third-trimester abortion.

In short, I think the problem is largely self-limiting, and therefore not one for great concern.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:00 AM on January 23, 2006


Next they will try to make cutting your toenails illegal

If they take your nail clippers away, make sure you're polite about it.
posted by Rothko at 10:02 AM on January 23, 2006


I assume you understand that I'm not in favor of strapping down women, impregnating them, and forcing them to bear the resulting children. That seems to be your characterization of my position.

You're not? Can you show me how your position is different? Is it just the 'impregnating' part? Because that's where I find the misogyny often creeps in. Regardless of how a woman became pregnant, how is taking the right of abortion away any different from "forcing them to bear the resulting children?"
posted by Miko at 10:07 AM on January 23, 2006


five fresh fish: If we could legislate based on blind faith that everyone will do the right thing, government would be simple. But we can't. To put it another way, your logic can be turned from late-term abortion to almost any subject of legislation — robbery, kidnapping, rape, and back to murder. I agree that most people will act responsibly; but it turns out that robbers, kidnappers, rapists, and murderers exist nonetheless.
posted by cribcage at 10:15 AM on January 23, 2006


Frontline's The Last Abortion Clinic.

While depressing as hell, it's a good look at why none of us is stupid or fanatical for caring how our judges would go on abortion laws.

Planned Parenthood v Casey is the discussion we need to be having. Roe is just a pale distant memory.
posted by birdie birdington at 10:18 AM on January 23, 2006


Miko: Misogyny is a harsh word. Merriam-Webster defines it as "the hatred of women by men." If you understand that pro-life advocates believe abortion is murder, I'm not sure where you get off concluding that they hate women. You might as well conclude they all like vanilla ice cream.
Can you show me how your position is different?
I oppose abortion, and I don't think it should be a legal form of contraception. If you honestly can't distinguish that from believing that women should be raped and forced to bear children, then I'm not sure there's much else I can say.
posted by cribcage at 10:25 AM on January 23, 2006


I assume you understand that I'm not in favor of strapping down women, impregnating them, and forcing them to bear the resulting children. That seems to be your characterization of my position.

As far as I can tell, the position is no different. If abortion was completely illegal, and a woman could be shown to have made steps to want one, what would prevent the police from taking her into custody? Locking her up until she has the kid?

It's my body. I refuse to be told I have to carry a child to term for the freaking government's approval.
posted by agregoli at 10:44 AM on January 23, 2006


If you honestly can't distinguish that from believing that women should be raped and forced to bear children, then I'm not sure there's much else I can say.

You'll find something.
posted by Rothko at 12:15 PM on January 23, 2006


cribcage, your reasoning is unsound and you're throwing out a red herring.

The point you were making, I think, is that you wouldn't force anyone to bear a child against her will. Yet that is exactly what further restrictions on abortion would do. I still haven't seen you articulate how your position differs. You threw in the 'raping' segment, I suppose, to indicate that a woman of spotless virtue was hypothetically being discussed. That's where the misogyny comes in: with the suggestion that if a woman was so immoral as to have sex in the first place, she should be condemned to carry the pregnancy to term regardless of whether that is her wish. Isn't that what you are saying? If not, can you address the question directly and show how your position is different from the statement I just made?

And can you address the question of hormonal birth control? Do you also oppose women using the Pill?
posted by Miko at 12:24 PM on January 23, 2006


...and if there were a woman strapped down and raped, and she became pregnant, would you believe it OK to permit her an abortion? If so, why? Why would committing 'murder' be acceptable in that case?
posted by Miko at 12:25 PM on January 23, 2006


Because the man is not in danger, or even mildly inconvenienced, in losing that choice.

Because money grows on trees, right? Please think before posting demonstrable falsehoods such as this.
posted by oaf at 12:27 PM on January 23, 2006


five fresh fish: If we could legislate based on blind faith ...[snip]... but it turns out that robbers, kidnappers, rapists, and murderers exist nonetheless.

[blink]

What have Bad People got to do with trusting women to make their own rational abortion decisions?

I do not see any reasonable way to conflate the issues. The one (dealing with robbers &c) has absolutely nothing to do with the other (dealing with women who do not wish to be pregnent).

Conclusion: you have no consistent, logical, factual, rational argument of any sort, and must resort to building strawmen.

You are dismissed from this discussion, coldcage: you have nothing to offer us.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:31 PM on January 23, 2006


The point you were making, I think, is that you wouldn't force anyone to bear a child against her will. Yet that is exactly what further restrictions on abortion would do.
You're saying that criminalizing abortion constitutes slavery because it would force women to bear children against their will; and if I reply that those women became pregnant as a direct and foreseeable result of their own willful actions, that means that I hate them.

Is that an accurate summary of your position?

five fresh fish: You said we shouldn't legislate against late-term abortion because we should trust people to act responsibly. I pointed out that if we could simply trust people to act responsibly, most laws would be unnecessary and anarchy would suffice. If I were you, I'd pocket the snide attitude until you can grasp a few basic principles of government.
posted by cribcage at 1:14 PM on January 23, 2006


if I reply that those women became pregnant as a direct and foreseeable result of their own willful actions, that means that I hate them.

Is that an accurate summary of your position?


Yes, it is. But I think you should read a more thorough definition of "misogyny" than that provided by Merriam-Webster, so that you'll understand why I think the charge can fairly be levelled here. You're articulating your view, finally, that women should be punished for having sex ("their own wilful choice") by being forced to bear any children conceived. Yes, I do think that is misogynistic.

Any time you'd care to answer my other questions, about the rape exception and about birth control pills, I think you'll find an interested readership, as well. I suspect you're avoiding them because you're aware of the logical inconsistencies in your position.
posted by Miko at 1:34 PM on January 23, 2006


Oops, I misquoted you, cribcage -- you said "actions" instead of "choice." Apologies for the error.
posted by Miko at 1:35 PM on January 23, 2006


I have no problem with a reasonable discussion about abortion. But does anyone on this thread really think that what's occurring in the public sphere is anywhere close to, and will ever be anything resembling, a reasonable, informed discussion on this issue?

The lunatics run the asylum in the US: religious fundamentalists have been working for decades to get their hands on the levers of power, and are succeeding. Public demonstrations from those against abortion are never about reasonableness or fair-mindedness. It's about fear and intimidation. This is why my reaction, and the reactions of others who really believe that it's a woman's right to choose, are always direct and uncompromising. Regardless of any individual's position or reasonableness on this (or any other) thread, the debate actually happening in American society is not.

FWIW, I also think that this debate (such as it is) focuses on the wrong thing: most of the discussion above is about what individuals personally feel, believe, and/or think on this issue. I really couldn't care less what each of you individually thinks about abortion (no offense, but I don't, really)--what I care about, with regard to the law is what's the most healthy choice for our society as a whole.

This lesson was taught to me by a very thoughtful, reasonable fundamentalist christian of my acquaintance (seventh-day adventist). He's also a doctor, and his residency was in the late 1960s. As he said, he personally believes that all life, at any stage, is sacred. HOWEVER, he saw, worked in, treated entire wards full of women and girls with septic infections and much, much worse, from illegal, back-alley-type abortions.

In his view, our society can never go back to that, regardless of his personal views on decisions about terminating a pregnancy. For him, having seen both sides first hand, the obvious greater good to us all wins out, and the greater good is that we can exercise reproductive freedom.

Also, to reiterate what several have pointed out before: why are those so vehemently opposed to abortion not also lobbying for far more comprehensive sex education and more effective contraception choices? Why, in fact, are they doing the opposite??

(Footnote: check out Freakonomics: the only quantifiable, supportable reason for the significant drop in violent crime through the 90s? Roe v. Wade. Fewer unwanted babies = fewer violent criminals 20 years later.)
posted by LooseFilter at 1:50 PM on January 23, 2006


You're articulating your view, finally, that women should be punished for having sex ("their own wilful choice") by being forced to bear any children conceived.

Is it punishment to bear the consequences of your actions?

Personally, I'm about as pro-abortion as you can get. Like kyrademon, I'm not convinced that there's anything wrong with infanticide. But then again, I don't believe that fetuses or infants are persons in any meaningful sense, and I don't believe in the sanctity of human life as an absolute. So I'm probably in the minority.

But if you do believe that human life is sacred, and you believe that fetuses are people, you're going to think that abortion is murder. I just don't see a way around that.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:53 PM on January 23, 2006


Miko: Well, I'm glad to have identified your position, but I still find it incomprehensible. You understand that pro-life advocates believe abortion constitutes murder, yet you believe they aim to "punish" women by prohibiting them from committing murder.

Anyway. You asked whether I would permit abortions in instances of rape. Yes, I would. In that case, the pregnancy continues to victimize the woman in a manner that abortion would serve to mitigate. You also asked whether I oppose birth control; I do not. In fact, as I said above, I think amberglow was spot-on in remarking that since no woman wants to have an abortion, we need to improve methods of contraception. Ultimately, I think that will be the resolution of this issue; technology will make abortion obsolete. The sooner, the better.
posted by cribcage at 1:58 PM on January 23, 2006


cribcage, I'm curious about how you resolve the inconsistencies miko pointed out. If abortion is murder, then there's no reason to allow it in cases of rape and incest -- the fetus had nothing to do with how it was conceived. And if abortion is murder, what penalty do you recommend for physicians or others performing it? For women seeking it?
posted by vetiver at 2:06 PM on January 23, 2006


Is it punishment to bear the consequences of your actions?

No, consequences are consequences. The consequences of sex can always be unwanted pregnancy - always, always. That has nothing to do with law.

The consequences of unwanted pregnancy, however, can be any of the following: going through an abortion (legal or illegal), having a miscarriage, giving birth and raising the child; giving birth and giving the child up for adoption; giving birth and dying in the process; or ending your own life. I think that might cover all the possible consequences. Where the punishment lies is in anti-abortion-rights laws artifically limiting the many possible consequences by removing one of them from the list of legal options. In other words, imposing a particular set of consequences on women regardless of what their most preferred decisions would be. Limiting women's freedom in this way is unacceptable.

cribcage, oral contraception: many hormonal methods (pill, patch, Depo) end pregnancies by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus, forcing a menstrual cycle even though a pregnancy has already occurred. If you oppose abortion on the basis that destroying a fetus is murder, you must also oppose the use of this type of contraception. It's the same thing.
posted by Miko at 2:14 PM on January 23, 2006


Make 'em and break 'em. Then go donate some gametes, then you can be pro-everything!
posted by Sparx at 2:28 PM on January 23, 2006


vetiver: As mdn said above (and I agreed), the question of exactly when life begins is murky. We don't know. I think we should err on the side of caution, toward not committing murder rather than doing so. I think an open policy of permitting abortion as contraception is reckless.

But rape, incest, medical emergencies...I've repeatedly characterized this issue as complex, and people have repeatedly disagreed. This is why they're wrong. I believe that certain danger should demand our attention before potential risk. Under these circumstances, the safety of the mother must come first.
posted by cribcage at 2:29 PM on January 23, 2006


We don't know. I think we should err on the side of caution, toward not committing murder rather than doing so. I think an open policy of permitting abortion as contraception is reckless.

You must be using the "royal we".
posted by Rothko at 2:32 PM on January 23, 2006


Miko, you have done a truly excellent job here, and have gotten to the crux of the matter.

I believe, if you dig far enough, you'll find that anti-abortion activists, nearly always, aren't truly about saving fetuses. They're not pro-life, they're anti-sex. Being forced to have a child is punishment for being irresponsible. It's not really about the child, it's really about controlling the behavior of the mother.

As you so eloquently point out, they want to inflict the bad consequences for having sex. If it was REALLY about the fetus, then there would be no exceptions for rape or incest.

Extremely well-done.
posted by Malor at 2:36 PM on January 23, 2006


Where the punishment lies is in anti-abortion-rights laws artifically limiting the many possible consequences by removing one of them from the list of legal options. In other words, imposing a particular set of consequences on women regardless of what their most preferred decisions would be. Limiting women's freedom in this way is unacceptable.

This pretty much sums up the entire body of criminal law. Laws artificially limit our freedom to escape the consequences of our actions.

You talk about sex resulting in unwanted pregnancy, then about the consequences of unwanted pregnancy - just to be clear, the consequences of unwanted pregnancy are, in fact, the consequences of sex. The former is a necessary condition for the latter.

Again, if you believe that fetuses are people, I don't see how you can avoid believing that abortion is murder. Most people are in favor of laws against murder.

A couple of people here have noted that the "pro-life" contingent doesn't care about children once they're born. I think that's an overly broad statement, but if we were to turn this on its head, are you in favor of infanticide? If not, why not? Does a child become human at birth? If I strangle it right outside the womb, have I committed murder?

You must be using the "royal we".

Rothko, once again you provide a compelling argument in favor of abortion.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:37 PM on January 23, 2006


I believe, if you dig far enough, you'll find that anti-abortion activists, nearly always, aren't truly about saving fetuses. ... If it was REALLY about the fetus, then there would be no exceptions for rape or incest.

I suspect that most anti-abortion activists oppose exceptions for rape and incest. Nevertheless, I think that one could reasonably oppose abortion in one case, and not the other, in the same vein as opposing murder but allowing for self-defense.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:41 PM on January 23, 2006


That was, btw, where I was trying to go with bevets, but of course he didn't answer me. Classic troll.
posted by Malor at 2:42 PM on January 23, 2006


I believe, if you dig far enough, you'll find that anti-abortion activists, nearly always, aren't truly about saving fetuses. They're not pro-life, they're anti-sex. Being forced to have a child is punishment for being irresponsible. It's not really about the child, it's really about controlling the behavior of the mother.
That would be offensive if it weren't ludicrous. I might just as well say that most pro-choice activists aren't truly about protecting liberty. "They're not pro-choice; they're anti-baby. It's not really about the mother; it's about killing as many babies as they can."

If that's the level of discourse you're looking for, that's your prerogative. But I'll say again: "Fortunately, most politicians tasked with representing your interests aren't saddled with your attitude. We're a large nation comprised of disparate interests, and we rely on compromise to exist peacefully together. It simply wouldn't work if our statesmen couldn't at least agree that all sides ultimately want what's best for society."
posted by cribcage at 2:52 PM on January 23, 2006


The Liberal Case Against Abortion

Colman McCarthy on war and abortion
posted by me & my monkey at 3:00 PM on January 23, 2006


cribcage, you're missing the point many here are trying to make. Many anti-abortion activists are also against sex education and easy access to birth control for some or all of the population, whereas they are often not against fetus-killing fertility treatments. These positions seem at best bizarrely opposed to their stated reasons for disliking abortion and at worst flat-out hypocritical.

This makes many suspect that a certain percentage of such activists are actually really against sex outside of marriage (fertility treatments are seen as OK because they are more frequently used within marriage), and wish to keep pregnancy and STD's around as risks to make nonmarital sex seem dangerous and scary.

This does not mean that everyone at that side of the debate believes this or behaves that way, but pointing out that many of them do is true and a fair comment.

The reverse (arguing that those in favor of legal abortion wish to kill as many babies as possible) does not hold true because it *isn't* true - only a vanishingly small minority of such people, if any, believe in compulsory abortion, abortion as a first-resort birth control method, or any similar position which would make that accusation make sense.

But the anti-sex accusation *does* make sense against many (not all) on the pro-life side.
posted by kyrademon at 3:05 PM on January 23, 2006


Oh, and bevets, your comments to and about apis mellifera were mean-spirited and rude. You, frankly, hold many beliefs that I consider barbaric and which make me want to vomit, and yes that includes on the level of you being a murderer as far as I am concerned, so kindly screw off with your morally superior tone.
posted by kyrademon at 3:11 PM on January 23, 2006


So basically, cribcage, what it comes down to is that you want you to decide whether or not a woman with an unwanted pregnancy is too late in her pregnancy to abort.

You don't want her to decide, because that means she might choose an abortion date later than the one you prefer.

The day before your arbitrarily-chosen date: the progeny can be killed without issue. At the stroke of midnight, though, shazam!, full human rights are bestowed upon it, and killing it is suddenly classified as murder.

Neat trick, that.

Now pray explain why your cutoff date is better than anyone else's.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:19 PM on January 23, 2006


Now pray explain why your cutoff date is better than anyone else's.

By reinventing himself in the first person plural, it is "society" that wants a cutoff date of his choice. Societies come to a consensus and don't need to justify their decisions. It's a neat rhetorical trick.
posted by Rothko at 3:25 PM on January 23, 2006


The day before your arbitrarily-chosen date: the progeny can be killed without issue. At the stroke of midnight, though, shazam!, full human rights are bestowed upon it, and killing it is suddenly classified as murder.

Neat trick, that.

Now pray explain why your cutoff date is better than anyone else's.


This is the fundamental flaw with Roe v Wade. It doesn't take a stand one way or the other about whether fetuses are people, or set a firm "cutoff date." It's a compromise, and a poor one in many ways.

To flip your example on its head, though - why should there be a cutoff after birth? Can't your argument be used to justify infanticide? How about until they turn 18? You imply that there can't be a line drawn, but clearly there needs to be one.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:35 PM on January 23, 2006


You talk about sex resulting in unwanted pregnancy, then about the consequences of unwanted pregnancy - just to be clear, the consequences of unwanted pregnancy are, in fact, the consequences of sex. The former is a necessary condition for the latter.

But not every sexual act results in pregnancy--the vast majority in fact do not--even with penetration and ejaculation, and without birth control.

A couple of people here have noted that the "pro-life" contingent doesn't care about children once they're born. I think that's an overly broad statement, but if we were to turn this on its head, are you in favor of infanticide? If not, why not? Does a child become human at birth? If I strangle it right outside the womb, have I committed murder?

You got it--I believe (and many others do too) that a child becomes human at birth--when it breathes on its own and does not require another human's body for its very survival. It is then alive and up until then has not been-- it's been a fetus or embryo or zygote or blastocyst or whatever--a potential human, but not yet human. You will in fact have committed murder if you strangle it after it has been born. Ask a lawyer or judge.
posted by amberglow at 3:56 PM on January 23, 2006


Don't mistake me, monkey: I'm all for retroactive abortion to age 18. At that point I'm all for euthanasia for the real hard-core cases.

Kill them all, let God sort it out. Quit trying to do his job for him.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:57 PM on January 23, 2006


To flip your example on its head, though - why should there be a cutoff after birth? Can't your argument be used to justify infanticide? How about until they turn 18? You imply that there can't be a line drawn, but clearly there needs to be one.

The cutoff exists after birth for the simple reason that it is no longer a strictly parasitic fetal entity. The fetus is, all moral ambiguity aside, entirely dependent upon the welfare and biochemical resources of the mother for its continued existence and development. From a biological standpoint, a developing fetus cannot survive outside the womb until delivered to term (without the aid of dedicated NICU care, "preemies" are not made to survive outside the womb).

It could be argued that this distinction is arbitrary. But I'd counter by saying it is much, much less arbitrary than simply saying "we don't know" and leaving it at that. When the fetus is dependent upon and using resources of the mother, this is a much clearer biological (and legal, I might add) distinction, than feigning ignorance as a place from which to draw a moral boundary.
posted by Rothko at 3:59 PM on January 23, 2006


But not every sexual act results in pregnancy--the vast majority in fact do not--even with penetration and ejaculation, and without birth control.

Well, sure, but we all know that pregnancy can result from intercourse, right? If I get loaded and drive home, I may not run over any pedestrians - in fact, so far I've never done so. Do I therefore get off the hook if I run someone over in the future?

You got it--I believe (and many others do too) that a child becomes human at birth--when it breathes on its own and does not require another human's body for its very survival. It is then alive and up until then has not been-- it's been a fetus or embryo or zygote or blastocyst or whatever--a potential human, but not yet human.

OK. You believe that. But this is nothing more than YOUR BELIEF. There's no more scientific basis for your belief than for believing that fetuses are human. And, it's a convenient line to draw if you're pro-choice.

You will in fact have committed murder if you strangle it after it has been born. Ask a lawyer or judge.

Well, sure, because that's the law. If the law said that abortion was murder, it would in fact be murder. How things are doesn't get us very far in figuring out how things should be.

The cutoff exists after birth for the simple reason that it is no longer a strictly parasitic fetal entity.

That seems quite irrelevant in deciding whether it is human or not. If human infants were self-sufficient at birth, that would be a more compelling argument, I suppose.

When the fetus is dependent upon and using resources of the mother, this is a much clearer biological (and legal, I might add) distinction, than feigning ignorance as a place from which to draw a moral boundary.

Three words that don't belong in the same sentence: biology, law and morality.

I would think, based on your response, that you think Roe v Wade is bad law, what with all that trimester crap and balance of interests. Apparently, during the third trimester, all of a sudden the state has a compelling interest in preserving the life of the fetus (if it chooses to exercise this interest) - imagine that! What happens if, as expected, medical technology extends viability to the second trimester?

I'm all for retroactive abortion to age 18.

Amen!
posted by me & my monkey at 4:47 PM on January 23, 2006


Do you have an actual point there, monkey? 'cause it reads as though you figure you have the answer. Pray tell, what is it? Why is your line in the sand more sensible, practical, honourable, humane, fair than those offered by others?

There aren't many unequivocal places at which that line can be drawn. Please, pick one and defend it intelligently. It'll be a damn sight more than most anyone else has offered as of yet.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:17 PM on January 23, 2006


Do you have an actual point there, monkey? 'cause it reads as though you figure you have the answer. Pray tell, what is it? Why is your line in the sand more sensible, practical, honourable, humane, fair than those offered by others?

Uh, my point is simply that it's not as easy to draw the line as those on both sides of the issue seem to think it is. It's not a very subtle point, so I'm kind of surprised that you weren't able to understand me.

There aren't many unequivocal places at which that line can be drawn. Please, pick one and defend it intelligently.

Those two sentences seem to contain an obvious contradiction, don't they? Everyone here is quick to jump on cribcage for his equivocation, but almost everyone on both sides of the debate stands on shaky logical grounds at best. Neither side seems willing to admit their logical inconsistencies - they're too busy demonizing the other side. I'm confident that'll work out well.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:53 PM on January 23, 2006


Three words that don't belong in the same sentence: biology, law and morality.

Care to explain why? Or you're just going to rule from your lofty perch?

Neither side seems willing to admit their logical inconsistencies

What logical inconsistencies? You're almost as irrational as cribcage, discounting people because their views aren't sufficently "complex" enough for him. Perhaps worse.
posted by Rothko at 7:30 PM on January 23, 2006


OK. You believe that. But this is nothing more than YOUR BELIEF. There's no more scientific basis for your belief than for believing that fetuses are human. And, it's a convenient line to draw if you're pro-choice.

Except i'm not agitating for legislation nor threatening women and doctors to match my belief, unlike pro-lifers. There actually is a ton more basis for my belief, empirical and otherwise, than there is for the belief that life begins at conception or fertilization. Much much more--historical, legal, societal, ethical, moral, and even religious:... traditional Jewish law teaches that "the fetus is not considered a full human being, and has no individual rights, but rather, according to many sources, is a part of a woman's body. And just as any person may not voluntarily do harm to his or her body, a woman may not voluntarily abort a fetus. However, just as a portion of the body may be sacrificed to save a person's life, an abortion may be performed for the woman's overall well-being, and an existing life takes precedence over a potential life, if there must be a choice between them." ...
posted by amberglow at 7:48 PM on January 23, 2006


I'm all for logical consistency. I was hoping you had some to add, instead of standing on the sidelines sniping into the grey mists of indecision.

The clearest demarcation line I can see is at birth. Once the wodge is outta the womb, it's a little too late to abort. And, hey, I'm willing to believe that almost all women are good women who would not dream of using a late-term abortion as a contraceptive method, so I'm game to let the line be drawn there.

Apparently a good number of you believe women are evil creatures who will engage in wholesale carnage against third-trimester fetuses. I suppose we'll have to pacify your repugnant protests by somehow forcing women to abide by your particular whims.

The next most-obvious demarcation line is at about week 26, when the higher brain functions begin to kick in. One could also choose a point at about week 22, when the lungs are fully formed and -- although the odds are very much against it -- a C-section extraction and exorbitantly expensive intensive care might result in a surviving -- though probably hopelessly damaged -- human.

And prior to that point, there really seems to be no sensible demarcation line, because prior to that point it is not at all uncommon for the woman to spontaneously miscarry, aka naturally abort. The closer you get to contraception, the more likely it is that the mother's body is going to give the invader the boot. Most conceptions do not result in pregnancy.

Finally, it is understood that one of The Pills' effects is to make it unlikely that a fertilized ova can implant. In hardcore terms, this would count as abortion. Ergo, if there is yet another line to be drawn it would appear to have to be this: no abortion, no hormonal contraceptives, no IUDs, no herbal teas, no morning-after pills, no jumping jacks, no hottubs, etc.

So there we have it, IMO: the sensible demarcation points for greenlighting an abortion must be at one of these points:

- nevah, evah, not even the morning after, and get rid of our most effective forms of contraceptive control.

- at the 22ndish week, when the lungs are likely to be fully formed and the fetus has a remote, improbably chance of survival outside the womb.

- at the 26thish week, when the brian is likely to begin firing up and there's a remote chance the fetus is having a somewhat human experience of beingness/consciousness.

- at birth, when it's too late to abort.

If you have better ideas as to when it would make sense to draw the line, please provide details. I'm doubtful, however, that you'll find much more that makes sense from a human development point of view.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:48 PM on January 23, 2006


Care to explain why? Or you're just going to rule from your lofty perch?

Lofty perch? I wish. I've been meaning to get one of those.

But anyway, what moral truths can you coax from biology? Or the law? How exactly does the state of nature guide you in your determination of what is right?

What logical inconsistencies?

I'll skip over those on the pro-life side, since they've been enumerated earlier in the thread, I'm sure. On the pro-choice side, the idea that one second, in the womb, you have a fetus, and another second, outside the womb, you have a human being - well, that's a pretty big one. If you truly believe in the sanctity of human life, but you tell yourself that's not a human life because it's dependent on its mother, I would argue that's logically inconsistent.

Now again, personally, I'm fine with that. I'm very much pro-choice. But I'm not going to dance around the truth, which is simple - if it's human at birth, it's human in the third trimester. I'm willing to accept that, and deal with it on purely utilitarian grounds - I simply don't value that human life as much as I value the convenience of the mother and sovereignty over one's own body.

... discounting people because their views aren't sufficently "complex" enough for him.

To the contrary - I think your views are too complex. You're looking for (and finding) bright lines where none exist, and you're willing to question the motives of those who find them somewhere else, just like every other true believer.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:52 PM on January 23, 2006


Justice Blackmun: “… We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.” “It should be sufficient to note briefly the wide divergence of thinking on this most sensitive and difficult question. There has always been strong support for the view that life does not begin until live birth. It appears to be the predominant, though not the unanimous, attitude of the Jewish faith. It may be taken to represent also the position of a large segment of the Protestant community, insofar as that can be ascertained; organized groups that have taken a formal position on the abortion issue have generally regarded abortion as a matter for the conscience of the individual and her family.”
posted by amberglow at 7:54 PM on January 23, 2006


But anyway, what moral truths can you coax from biology?

I think I explained that. I can't make you read.

To the contrary - I think your views are too complex. You're looking for (and finding) bright lines where none exist, and you're willing to question the motives of those who find them somewhere else, just like every other true believer.

Excuse me? I'd rather give individuals the freedom to make their own decisions, and I've said as much a few times over. How complex or simple does that need to be to get into your head?
posted by Rothko at 8:07 PM on January 23, 2006


What happens if, as expected, medical technology extends viability to the second trimester?

Who says this is expected? From everything I've read, 36-week preemies have very low survival rates, and those that do survive often have debilitating health problems. Six months really does seem to be a cut-off point, due not to medical technology but fetal development.

cribcage: I think we should err on the side of caution, toward not committing murder rather than doing so. I think an open policy of permitting abortion as contraception is reckless.

You think that. I don't. Why is your opinion more legitimate than mine?

But rape, incest, medical emergencies...I've repeatedly characterized this issue as complex, and people have repeatedly disagreed. This is why they're wrong. I believe that certain danger should demand our attention before potential risk. Under these circumstances, the safety of the mother must come first.

Au contraire, sparky -- everyone in this thread (well, except bevets) acknowledges that this is a complex issue. In fact, you're the one who seems to be over-simplifying.

You're speaking in general terms about "certain danger" (abortion okay) vs. "potential risk" (abortion not okay). A woman who wants an abortion assesses the risks and dangers she faces with far more accuracy than you could possibly attain. I see no reason why your better-safe-than-sorry shibboleth should outweigh her judgment.

You've mentioned a couple of times your objection to "abortion as contraception." Please explain what you mean. Let's say the couple used contraception and it failed. Would you consider an abortion acceptable in that case? If not, why not? There's no logical reason why this hapless woman should be penalized for something over which she had no control, something she took measures to prevent.

I suspect you're talking about the apocryphal slut who can't be bothered with the pill or condoms and instead schedules an abortion every few months, between a pedicure appointment and happy hour. Do you know any of these women? I don't, and I doubt they exist. Beyond the emotional effects, having an abortion is physically unpleasant, frequently painful. No sane person would ever, ever choose it as a regular activity.

But, arguendo, let's say there is such a woman. You think she's contemptible, and so do I. But I'm thankful she at least has the rudimentary sense to get as many abortions as she may want. Why the hell would you force her to bring any of those pregnancies to term? She'd be a catastrophically bad mother, the kind who shows up in agency files and tabloid headlines. Maybe she'd give the baby up for adoption but that's unlikely; even if she did, the baby has very little chance of actually being adopted, unless it has the good fortune of being white and physically healthy. I assume you're prepared to adopt at least one of the many babies who don't fall into those categories.

And speaking of health -- what's your position on prenatal testing and abortion? Let's say a woman and her partner discover that she's carrying a Down syndrome fetus and they aren't willing or able to take that on. Are you willing to force them to do so? If so, are you willing to adopt that baby?

cribcage, you keep denying any sort of misogyinistic or retributive aspect to your position. Bullshit. You think every woman with an unwanted pregnancy should be forced to bear that unwanted child. Oh, except for specific situations that are acceptable to you, personally. You're perfectly fine with adminstering consequences -- to those women, to those children -- you yourself will never face. That's not only misogyny, it's cruelty.
posted by vetiver at 8:10 PM on January 23, 2006


Except i'm not agitating for legislation nor threatening women and doctors to match my belief, unlike pro-lifers.

OK. So, if you believe something else is a bad thing, tantamount to murder - the Iraq war comes to mind - you don't protest that, right?

There actually is a ton more basis for my belief, empirical and otherwise, than there is for the belief that life begins at conception or fertilization.

There is no empirical evidence for when a fetus becomes a human, because there is no useful absolute definition of what it means to be human. Again, it's just a belief. It's not a hypothesis, or a theory, it's a belief.

Much much more--historical, legal, societal, ethical, moral, and even religious: ...

This is the same body of historical, legal, societal, etc junk that has, for thousands of years, thought it's ok to persecute gay people, right? Well alrighty then. I'll pass, if you don't mind.

The clearest demarcation line I can see is at birth. Once the wodge is outta the womb, it's a little too late to abort. And, hey, I'm willing to believe that almost all women are good women who would not dream of using a late-term abortion as a contraceptive method, so I'm game to let the line be drawn there.

Well, yeah, since abortion is by definition a premature termination of a pregnancy. Again, though, I don't see much difference between a third-trimester abortion and infanticide.

If you have better ideas as to when it would make sense to draw the line, please provide details.

We seem to be going in circles. I'm saying there's no clear line between "pre-human" and human, and you keep asking me to point out such a line.

Justice Blackmun ...

Of course, after saying that the court didn't need to resolve the question, it attempted to balance the interests of the mother against those of the state. Now how in the hell did they do that without making some sort of determination of where life begins?

I think I explained that. I can't make you read.

You failed to explain that. Sorry. I read everything you wrote. My comprehension skills are just dandy, thanks for your concern.

I'd rather give individuals the freedom to make their own decisions, and I've said as much a few times over. How complex or simple does that need to be to get into your head?

How far does this freedom extend? Am I free to kill my newborn baby? Your basis for extending the freedom to have an abortion seems to depend on acknowledging that there's only one individual involved. I think that's questionable.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:19 PM on January 23, 2006


Well said by FFF and vetiver.

I don't think there are any logical inconsistencies in my position. Independent viability is a useful, clear standard for the demarcation of when a 'human life' begins. It is just about the only time we can all agree that there is evidence for a complete, existing human life. We can see it with our own eyes; there it is, breathing on its own.

That does mean that logic requires me to defend late-term abortions as well as early term. I do that, but I do it in the knowledge that they're extremely rare and not recommended. I don't oppose some limitations on them -- as Roe allows -- but it's in everyone's interest to encourage abortions to take place earlier whenever possible.

It might be unsavory to you, but it's not inconsistent.
posted by Miko at 8:22 PM on January 23, 2006


But, arguendo, let's say there is such a woman. You think she's contemptible, and so do I. But I'm thankful she at least has the rudimentary sense to get as many abortions as she may want. Why the hell would you force her to bring any of those pregnancies to term? She'd be a catastrophically bad mother, the kind who shows up in agency files and tabloid headlines.

I am in full agreement with this utilitarian argument.

Who says this is expected? From everything I've read, 36-week preemies have very low survival rates, and those that do survive often have debilitating health problems. Six months really does seem to be a cut-off point, due not to medical technology but fetal development.

Do you really think that these are insoluble problems? Ten or fifteen years ago, my (premature) niece would have died at birth. Now, neonatal care has progressed to the point where she was in relatively little danger, and now is a healthy baby girl. Who can say what's in store in the next ten years?

That does mean that logic requires me to defend late-term abortions as well as early term. I do that, but I do it in the knowledge that they're extremely rare and not recommended. I don't oppose some limitations on them -- as Roe allows -- but it's in everyone's interest to encourage abortions to take place earlier whenever possible.

That's a pretty tepid defense. How can you justify any limitations on them, if you really believe that human life doesn't exist until birth? What's wrong with doing a last-minute D & E five minutes before delivery?

It might be unsavory to you, but it's not inconsistent.

I'm ok with it being unsavory, myself. Life is full of unsavory stuff.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:34 PM on January 23, 2006


NYT on the DC Rally: ... Nellie Gray, the president of March for Life, the group that organized the rally, said reversing Roe was this year's theme. Speaking to the crowd in fiery tones, Ms. Gray predicted that the United States would hold the equivalent of Nuremburg trials for "feminist abortionists," calling support for a woman's right to choose "crimes against humanity."

"Roe v. Wade has brutalized our country," she said. "The feminist abortionists, look at the evil they are doing. From that will come an accountability." Her words were met with strong applause, and more than a few supporters held high signs that compared abortions in the United States to "Hitler's Holocaust." ...

posted by amberglow at 10:45 PM on January 23, 2006


Ten or fifteen years ago, my (premature) niece would have died at birth. Now, neonatal care has progressed to the point where she was in relatively little danger, and now is a healthy baby girl. Who can say what's in store in the next ten years?

There's no doubt that prenatal care has advanced in the last fifteen years, and I'm very happy that your niece is one of the babies who's benefited.

But medical intervention can only go so far, and six months seems to be an absolute limit. How do you sustain lung function when the lungs don't really exist? Outside of a sci-fi gestation-in-a-vat scenario, i can't imagine how any preemie earlier than 24 weeks could be considered viable.
posted by vetiver at 11:37 PM on January 23, 2006


How can you justify any limitations on them, if you really believe that human life doesn't exist until birth?

Because late-term abortions are more dangerous and painful and traumatic for the woman, and require more skill, time, and expense on the part of medical personnel. The longer a woman remains pregnant, the more impact the pregnancy has on her health and the more risk involved in ending it. I include mental health there, too, since regardless of whether a demonstrable life exists in the womb, a potential life does, and it is human nature to become attached to the potential life. But this sentimentality about potential life isn't the same as the existence of independent life.

No, I don't really favor late-term abortions for these reasons. But then, in case you didn't notice, I don't actively favor any type of abortion. Abortions are a last resort, an extreme measure taken to prevent negative consequences resulting from pregnancy and birth.

And finally, we've already discussed in this thread how pitting your philosphy of when life begins against my philosophy of when life begins is not a productive starting point for reasoning about the legality of abortion. Regardless of what I believe about when life can be said to exist -- even if I had a conversion experience tomorrow and decided that life begins at fertilization -- I would still support abortion rights as they stand today, and work to continue removing obstacles to contraception and abortion.
posted by Miko at 6:52 AM on January 24, 2006


Well, Monkey, if you refuse to commit to any sort of a line-in-the-sand, I guess you're going to get stuck with the one that the rest of us decide upon. Or, at least, the one that the courts decide upon.

Not that a court ruling has much to do with anything: the wealthy and the desperate will always be able to obtain an abortion. The former by a skillful doctor, the latter by a coathanger.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:10 AM on January 24, 2006


...the latter by a coathanger.--... Sometimes they douche with very caustic products like bleach. We had a patient, a teen, who burned herself so badly with bleach that we couldn't even examine her, her vaginal tissue was so painful…."

"Our local hospital tells me they see 12-20 patients per year, who have already self-induced or had illegal abortions. Some make it, some don't. They are underage or poor women mostly, and a few daughters of pro-life families…"
...

posted by amberglow at 9:14 AM on January 24, 2006


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