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Abortions for none, miniature American flags for others
April 18, 2007 7:57 AM   Subscribe

The Supreme Court has upheld the federal ban on "Partial-Birth Abortion," in a 5-4 decision. The federal ban provides no exceptions for the health of the mother, the reason previous Courts overturned the law. Justice Kennedy argued the law banning the procedure should stay, as opponents "have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases." In a scathing dissent, Justice Ginsburg alluded to the politics of recent judicial appointments, noting "...the Court's defense of it cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court -- and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women's lives. A decision of the character the Court makes today should not have staying power."
posted by XQUZYPHYR (219 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
ObWendell
posted by DU at 8:04 AM on April 18, 2007


Oh dear. Are justices impeachable?
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:05 AM on April 18, 2007


Not to be critical, but in circumstances like this it's good form to link to the Supreme Court opinion itself. (Opinion begins on page 8 of the pdf).
posted by Pastabagel at 8:06 AM on April 18, 2007


Having started reading the opinion, I warn you, regardless of your politics, it's not for the squeamish. They graphically describe various procedures.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:08 AM on April 18, 2007


It all comes down to punishing promiscuous women. I've yet to hear an argument from the other side to convince me otherwise. And, yes, this thread will quite obviously not wendell.
posted by billysumday at 8:08 AM on April 18, 2007


The USA continues to amaze and astound.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:10 AM on April 18, 2007


.
posted by OmieWise at 8:12 AM on April 18, 2007


Mr. Tyzik does not approve.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:13 AM on April 18, 2007


Americans your country sucks. Seriously.

Anyway, Why I Chose Abortion is a very good read, and discusses a partial birth abortion.
posted by chunking express at 8:14 AM on April 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


I throw out a challenge - that no MeFi member substantively comment on this decision without certifying they've read the entire decision.
posted by Muddler at 8:14 AM on April 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


That would be refreshing, Muddler. I'll second that.
posted by Heminator at 8:16 AM on April 18, 2007


It all comes down to punishing promiscuous women.

I'm sure some portion of the hardline anti-abortion movement is really just in it to heckle sinners, but I think the vast majority genuinely believe in the personhood of a fetus (espescially past the first trimester). My stance on abortion aside, I feel somewhat squeamish hearing about the process of destroying something eerily human-like? I don't understand why abortion is such a uniquely polarizing issue - it seems as though it's something reasonable people can disagree on. Why is there a persistent drive on both sides to depict the other as insincere in their motivations?
posted by phrontist at 8:18 AM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


I throw out a challenge - that no MeFi member substantively comment on this decision without certifying they've read the entire decision.

And have a uterus!
posted by peeedro at 8:21 AM on April 18, 2007 [10 favorites]


I throw out a challenge - that no MeFi member substantively comment on this decision without certifying they've read the entire decision.

Yeah, because it's got a great Hitchcockian twist at the end! The SCOTUSblog entry linked in the post is a good enough summary.
posted by mkultra at 8:23 AM on April 18, 2007


Your country sucks too, wherever you're from
posted by poppo at 8:24 AM on April 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


The headline mentions that the Federal Ban contains no exception for protecting the life of the mother. I didn't think this was true, and what I've read of the opinion seems to suggest that I'm right.

The statute reads "This subsection does not apply to a
partial-birth abortion that is necessary to save the life
of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical
disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including
a life-endangering physical condition caused by or
arising from the pregnancy itself." 18 USC Sec. 1531(a)

Now, Congress did explicitly say they did not believe that these procedures were ever medically necessary, but the statute itself does contain an exception.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:25 AM on April 18, 2007


In view of Muddler (above), I have finished reading the majority opinion, and I believe what is quoted below is the meat of it.
The Act is not invalid on its face where there is uncertainty over whether the barred procedure is ever necessary to preserve a woman’s health, given the availability of other abortion procedures that are considered to be safe alternatives. ...

The considerations we have discussed support our further determination that these facial attacks should not have been entertained in the first instance. In these circumstances the proper means to consider exceptions is by as-applied challenge. The Government has acknowledged that preenforcement, as-applied challenges to the Act can be maintained. Tr. of Oral Arg. in No. 05–380, pp. 21–23. This is the proper manner to protect the health of the woman if it can be shown that in discrete and well defined instances a particular condition has or is likely to occur in which the procedure prohibited by the Act must be used. In an as-applied challenge the nature of the medical risk can be better quantified and balanced than in a facial attack.
In other words, the Act can still be attacked for lacking a "health of the mother" exception if it can be shown in a specfic case that the prohibited procedure is necessary to save the life of the mother.

The decision therefore revolves around the notion of whether the law's lack of an explicit "health of the mother" exception is grounds for striking down all or a portion of it. The conclusion is no, it's not, because the scientific evidence is not clear either way that the proscribed procedures would ever be necessary (as opposed to some other procedure) to preserve the health of the mother. If a case arises in which is shown to be necessary the procedure could be carried out and then the challenge to the law brought.

I'll go through the other opinions next.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:25 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Muddler - I think the decision sucks, and I haven't even read one word of it yet.
posted by caddis at 8:26 AM on April 18, 2007


The headline mentions that the Federal Ban contains no exception for protecting the life of the mother.

No it doesn't. Health != life.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:28 AM on April 18, 2007


Eattheweak: yes, they are impeachable.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:33 AM on April 18, 2007


This opens the door for states to impose even more onerous restrictions on abortion. Now that the health exeption has been cast aside, get ready for all sorts of nonsense. Also, remember the furor when the Kansas attorney general subpoened abortion providers in his state? Yeah, that's now going to happen all over the country. And, I bet the FBI is going to form an Abortion Crimes Unit now.

Lovely.
posted by thewittyname at 8:33 AM on April 18, 2007


chunking express - that was beautiful; sad, yet beautiful. All too often decisions are made and opinions formed about abortion without people really knowing the reality. I wish John "sell out" Kerry had read something like that before he voted.
posted by caddis at 8:34 AM on April 18, 2007


Sorry, in light of the language of the act and the subtleties at issue, my summary above is a bit sloppy. The Act can still be attacked for lacking a "health of the mother" (my phrase) exception if it can be shown in a specific case that the prohibited procedure is necessary to save the life protect the health of the mother.

In other words, the bar for attacking the Act in a specific case is thus much lower than what is already carved out in the law as quoted above.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:35 AM on April 18, 2007


And have a uterus!
posted by peeedro at 11:21 AM on April 18


Not all unborn children have a uterus.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:37 AM on April 18, 2007


Its seens to me that the antiabortionists are all concerened about the fetus/baby and will do anyting to prevent abortions but as soon as the child is born they (and we as a nation) want little or nothing to do with that child.
In that I mean we provide no support for the mother (parent leave) health care, pre natal care, et-cetera
posted by robbyrobs at 8:49 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why is there a persistent drive on both sides to depict the other as insincere in their motivations?

I think coming across as insincere is merely an effect that happens when people point out that the vast majority of so-called right-to-life supporters are voting against every policy and method that has been shown to actually reduce the number of abortions performed.
It is fairly obvious on the face of it that they are interested in neither reducing abortion numbers, nor reducing pregnancy numbers, but only in reducing the options available to those sluts who get themselves impregnated.
posted by bashos_frog at 8:50 AM on April 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


glad i'm leaving america. this place is becoming afghanistan.
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 8:51 AM on April 18, 2007


And I'm unaware tof any serious challenge to the sincerity of those that claim to believe in a woman's right to choose. Are there people out there saying "you don't really support a woman's right to choose, you just like killing babies?"

(not that it would surprise me, if there were)
posted by bashos_frog at 8:52 AM on April 18, 2007


First of all, when you look at the polling most Americans are a bit squeamish about partial-birth abortions (and yeah, I know that term was invented by the right.) So the court stepping back on this issue really reflects what most Americans think and feel (although American attitudes on abortion are notoriously amorphous.)

Second, this decision really won't affect the vast majority of abortions. There won't be any noticeable decline in the number of abortions or their availability (although its important to note that in some states abortion is functionally unavailable because the states have aggressively pursued providers on all manner of harebrained technicalities.)

Third, yes this may encourage states to test the courts by taking constitutionally questionable actions against abortion providers. But the usual suspects have always done this and will continue to do so as long voters continue to elect vicious idiots to state government.

Fourth, there is no reason to see this as a slippery slope. The court probably doesn't want to overturn Roe v. Wade anymore than most Americans. Although, as noted, most Americans are squeamish about late term abortions... so... perhaps this ruling is a good middle ground.

Fifth, seeing as how most Americans think (incorrectly) that a right to privacy is patent on the Constitution (its not, the court has cobbled together this latent right) maybe its time to amend the constitution with a far reaching right to privacy. Such an amendment would take care of all this arguing over abortion, gay marriage, etc.
posted by wfrgms at 8:57 AM on April 18, 2007


In other words, the Act can still be attacked for lacking a "health of the mother" exception if it can be shown in a specfic case that the prohibited procedure is necessary to save the life of the mother.

Except that is not going to happen, because it would require the Court to actually take up the case, which they simply don't have to. Today's ruling clearly, perhaps even more clearly than Bush v. Gore, shows that the Court is dominated by people who put their agendas first and the actual Constitution they're supposed to defend second. If a lower court overturns this as your suggested, they'll take it up and disagree. If it holds it they just won't take the case and let the ruling stand.

Kudos to Ginsburg for having the guts to just admit in her dissent we're all going to have to wait a few years until they start doing their job again.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:59 AM on April 18, 2007


Pastabagel writes "Not all unborn children have a uterus."

I've not seen many comments on Metafilter from unborn children lately. A few from people with similar IQ's, but none from people who self-identify as such.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:00 AM on April 18, 2007


The dissenting opinion by Ginsburg is fascinating, particularly in how she calls out the majority on their coded language of "abortion doctor" etc.

And I'm unaware tof any serious challenge to the sincerity of those that claim to believe in a woman's right to choose.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:52 AM on April 18


I think that challenge usually takes the form of the "abortion for convenience" argument, e.g. why not use a condom or get an abortion in the first trimester, etc.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:02 AM on April 18, 2007


glad i'm leaving america. this place is becoming afghanistan.

You do realize that in many ways American abortion law is a lot of more liberal than the laws of countries like France, Germany and Australia? Even if we permit the government to outlaw this one specific procedure, we're still pretty well inside the international mainstream.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:02 AM on April 18, 2007


wfrgms typed "Fourth, there is no reason to see this as a slippery slope. The court probably doesn't want to overturn Roe v. Wade anymore than most Americans. Although, as noted, most Americans are squeamish about late term abortions... so... perhaps this ruling is a good middle ground."

Thank you for pointing this out. I hate to see the good guys resorting to the Religious Right's Favorite Logical Fallacy.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:03 AM on April 18, 2007


Also, vronsky is an unborn fetus. I thought everyone knew that.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:04 AM on April 18, 2007


Americans are funny.
posted by seanyboy at 9:05 AM on April 18, 2007


amerika FUCK YEAH!
posted by HyperBlue at 9:05 AM on April 18, 2007


HURF DURF BABY EATER
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:06 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've not seen many comments on Metafilter from unborn children lately. A few from people with similar IQ's, but none from people who self-identify as such.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:00 PM on April 18


I was being glib in response to someone else's glib comment. By in case you need a picture, stating that only people with a uterus can comment implies that only women have something at stake, when in fact unborn children have something at stake too, but as you point out, they have no one to speak for them. Except the state, which is why they pass abortion laws in the first place.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:07 AM on April 18, 2007


And so it begins...
posted by roll truck roll at 9:09 AM on April 18, 2007


So the court stepping back on this issue really reflects what most Americans think and feel

I prefer not to have my medical decisions made by polling.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:11 AM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Pastabagel writes "As you point out, they have no one to speak for them. Except the state"

And half of the Supreme Court. And every fricking Catholic and Fundy on the planet. Oh, and you too, apparently.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:13 AM on April 18, 2007


"unborn children"

Framing by those opposed to abortion procedures. Commonly used by those opposed to any form of birth control, cause "every sperm is sacred!"

How about "fetus" instead when discussing these blastocysts?
posted by nofundy at 9:16 AM on April 18, 2007


And half of the Supreme Court. And every fricking Catholic and Fundy on the planet. Oh, and you too, apparently.

PeterMcDermott, why is it so hard for you to consider that people you disagree with might be right in the long run?

posted by milarepa at 9:16 AM on April 18, 2007


the vast majority genuinely believe in the personhood of a fetus (espescially past the first trimester)

What happens after the first trimester that gives the fetus "personhood"? On what day does the transformation occur?
posted by billysumday at 9:18 AM on April 18, 2007


You folks are doing the Lord's Work here.
posted by yerfatma at 9:18 AM on April 18, 2007


Are there people out there saying "you don't really support a woman's right to choose, you just like killing babies?"

You won't find it quite so extreme, but there are a lot of people who can't get past "abortion = murdering babies". Much of America does not share the same worldview as the Northeast.
posted by mkultra at 9:19 AM on April 18, 2007


Cynthia Gorney's Gambling With Abortion remains, I think, the best piece of writing on this topic, not least for it's description of the legal arguments and PR strategies on both sides, but also on the consequences.

The aim of this law was, in essence, to shut down abortion providers by placing them in situations where a procedure could become illegal. From Gorney's article:
But knowing he might face this sort of criminal inquiry, I said, would make our hypothetical doctor unlikely to undertake any procedure at all.

Johnson smiled. Then he chuckled. He spread his hands, palms up. “He's a licensed professional,” Johnson said. “I'm sure he'll make every effort to comply with the law.”
This is what's problematic about Kennedy's argument about 'as-applied challenge.' The intention driving this law was to shut down providers, whether by rising liability insurance premiums or by the fear of incrimination through normal medical practice. Not having abortion providers within a 500-mile radius diminishes the possibility of an as-applied challenge.

Perhaps there's a doctor willing to put his license and livelihood on the line in Scopes fashion. Or a woman prepared to suffer the consequences. We'll see. But the promoters of this bullshit law took all this into account from the very beginning. Their aim was to intimidate medical practitioners by forcing them to practice with the law hovering over them, or not practice at all.

In short: Kennedy is somewhere between disingenuous and cowardly. At least his four compadres are just ideologues.
posted by holgate at 9:20 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'm going to end this here. Catholics and fundies and me and you (because I'm not pro-life, dummy) don't speak for anyone because we don't not have the authority of the law. We can't make, execute or interpret law. We are subject to it, get it? ALL of congress, the executive, and ALL memberos of the Court have to consider the interests of the unborn child because under Roe v. Wade it is the law that they must do so.

The state speaks for everybody. Roe established that the state must consider the interests of the unborn child depending on the trimester, the procedure, etc. No one has challenged this in Court, and thus remains the law of the land.

Can we drop it now?
posted by Pastabagel at 9:21 AM on April 18, 2007


billysumday typed "What happens after the first trimester that gives the fetus 'personhood'? On what day does the transformation occur?"

So, I'm pro-choice. Extremely pro-choice. But I gotta say, that's a red herring. Are you actually saying that the "life begins at conception" crowd are somehow more right than the first trimester crowd?
posted by roll truck roll at 9:21 AM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


"unborn children"

Framing by those opposed to abortion procedures. Commonly used by those opposed to any form of birth control, cause "every sperm is sacred!"

How about "fetus" instead when discussing these blastocysts?


Do you even know what a blastocyst is? The fetus/child is way beyond that point when abortion occurs, especially second trimester abortions. Ask a pregnant women how she would characterize her fetus, especially in the second trimester. I think you will find that for most of them it is already a baby, not just some cells, or a fetus.
posted by caddis at 9:22 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


My favorite challenge to the "Unborn children are morally considerable beings" argument is the following scenario:

"You're in a fertility clinic when a fire breaks out. Fleeing the scene, you come around a corner and find an unconscious four-year old. Next to the four year old is a case containing twelve hundred embryos. You can carry one. Which do you choose?"

Of course, when given the choice to save humans or save embryos during Katrina, the government chose the embryos.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:22 AM on April 18, 2007 [9 favorites]


My comment immediately above was directed to Peter McDermott, in case it wasn't clear.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:23 AM on April 18, 2007


robbyrobs: "Its seens to me that the antiabortionists are all concerened about the fetus/baby and will do anyting to prevent abortions but as soon as the child is born they (and we as a nation) want little or nothing to do with that child.
In that I mean we provide no support for the mother (parent leave) health care, pre natal care, et-cetera
"

Yeah, it's funny, isn't it? and by "funny" I mean "makes me want to scream and run around and shake people and make them understand what these people are doing"

bashos_frog: "And I'm unaware of any serious challenge to the sincerity of those that claim to believe in a woman's right to choose. Are there people out there saying "you don't really support a woman's right to choose, you just like killing babies?"

Yeah, there are. It's "You didn't plan well/didn't exercise personal responsibility/are a slut therefore you should have to face the consequences."
posted by Mr. Gunn at 9:24 AM on April 18, 2007


If certain deaths can be considered more just than others, then so can certain births.
posted by hermitosis at 9:24 AM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Much of America does not share the same worldview as the Northeast.

Much of America rejects evolution, too. Who cares?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:24 AM on April 18, 2007


Are you actually saying that the "life begins at conception" crowd are somehow more right than the first trimester crowd?

More consistent and less arbitrary in their beliefs? Certainly. But "more right"? Well, that's the whole great big mess, then, isn't it?
posted by billysumday at 9:26 AM on April 18, 2007


It's just amazing how many clever rhetorical loopholes the majority threw in here to directly address their hypocrisy. Thomas specifically noted "this doesn't affect our views on the commerce clause" which basically means "sure we just upheld a federal ban on abortion, but send us Roe and we'll say it can be decided by the states."

If Congress was still in Republican hands right now they'd be drafting a complete federal ban on abortion as we speak and the Court is practically telegraphing that they'll happily uphold it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:26 AM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Pope Guilty, your hypothetical supports saving the mother if her life is threatened by the fetus's, which I think most people would support. It's possible to consider something "morally considerable" and still find situations where something else is more worth saving.

The real question is, what do you do when there's no other morally considerable being's life at stake. If there's no four year old, do you just leave the embryos there because you don't feel like lifting something?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:26 AM on April 18, 2007


You do realize that in many ways American abortion law is a lot of more liberal than the laws of countries like France, Germany and Australia?

The liberal character of the law is more than offset by the illiberal climate of intimidation that exists around it. And, y'know, the fact that countries with stricter limits on abortion also have, let's say, a different take on the provision of healthcare in general. And on the availability of contraception. And on comprehensive sex education.
posted by holgate at 9:27 AM on April 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


Their aim was to intimidate medical practitioners by forcing them to practice with the law hovering over them, or not practice at all.

Talk about judicial activism — a one-two punch of using the law to slowly bully women into sexual compliance, and to eliminate healthcare options.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:28 AM on April 18, 2007


The real question is, what do you do when there's no other morally considerable being's life at stake. If there's no four year old, do you just leave the embryos there because you don't feel like lifting something?

I don't believe that embryos have anything approaching a moral status, so sure, why not? if I'm lugging out that case, it's purely because I think it'd be nice of me to do something for the clinic/prospective parents/etc.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:29 AM on April 18, 2007


Well, you should care, among other people. Do you really want to change American policy for the better? Or do you just want to feel smug and right?
posted by roll truck roll at 9:29 AM on April 18, 2007


This was in re this, by the way. Man, this thread is going fast.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:30 AM on April 18, 2007


Well, then Pope Guilty, you should phrase the question that way. Ask someone who thinks embryos are worth protecting whether or not they would leave the embryos in the burning build. You're not pointing out a problem with their opinion by posing a question on a different point.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:31 AM on April 18, 2007


It's possible to consider something "morally considerable" and still find situations where something else is more worth saving.

And this isn't a case where that's true. The people who claim that embryos are people are claiming that they have the same right to life as everyone else. If that's true, 1200 lives vs. 1 is so easy it's hardly even an excercise.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:32 AM on April 18, 2007


XQUZYPHYR: How is that a "clever rhetorical loophole?" The argument was not addressed by the Court below, not briefed by the parties, and not argued before the Court. Isn't it standard practice-and good policies-not to have the Court reach out to decide issues that are not presented.

Also, that was the concurrence, not the majority.
posted by Slap Factory at 9:33 AM on April 18, 2007


By in case you need a picture, stating that only people with a uterus can comment implies that only women have something at stake...

Yep, I was being glib and I'm sorry to give this discussion a push to help it get out of hand so soon. I didn't mean to imply that only women have a stake. But if the discussion is to focus on the legal aspects of the decision, I'd rather hear from lawyers and Supreme Court watchers; if the discussion is about abortion, I'd rather hear from women who have been pregnant and doctors; but if the discussion is the typical argument about identity politics and our side/their side accusations, then everyone's opinion is equally worthless.

But I do think it would be interesting if the guys in the crowd would sit on their hands for a while. When I see anti-abortion protesters in DC, they are generally packs of pre-pubescents and men. Women of child-bearing age are a small minority in protests/rallies that I have seen, so I'm wondering what they have to say. That's why chunking express' link is so powerful to read.
posted by peeedro at 9:33 AM on April 18, 2007


Well, you should care, among other people. Do you really want to change American policy for the better? Or do you just want to feel smug and right?

I'm just not clear on why we're talking as though justice and morality are even vaguely democratic.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:34 AM on April 18, 2007


Do they really believe that abortion is murder?
... the leaders of the abortion criminalization movement have consistently put their political weight behind policies which make little or no sense if they genuinely think that abortion is identical to child murder. And those same leaders routinely endorse policies that make a lot of sense if their goal is to penalize women who have sex.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:35 AM on April 18, 2007


"Not all unborn children have a uterus."

Medically, of course, there's no such thing as an "unborn child." There is an embryo, there is a fetus, there is a fetus at term. A child is what you get at parturition.

I wish this simple progression was taught in law school. It would save us all a lot of time and trouble.
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:35 AM on April 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


milarepa writes "PeterMcDermott, why is it so hard for you to consider that people you disagree with might be right in the long run?"

About what, milarepa? The right of the state to deny terminations to mothers carrying children with serious birth abnormalities?

Tell you what, when you're providing the financial and emotional support for someone else's unwanted chronically ill child, then perhaps you'll have the moral authority to tell me that I'm wrong. But all I see are shitloads of Americans going on about the rights of these unborn children, while simultaneously being abysmal when it comes to providing material support in terms of finances or affordable health care for those who have to live with it.

And with that, Pastabagel, consider it dropped.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:35 AM on April 18, 2007


Do you even know what a blastocyst is?

Do you even know what hyperbole is? Blastocyst is just as valid as "unborn child." Do you get it now?
posted by nofundy at 9:38 AM on April 18, 2007


Adamgreenfield: Maybe you should just hand out your "medically, of course" textbook at law schools.
posted by Slap Factory at 9:38 AM on April 18, 2007


"Not all unborn children have a uterus."

What adamgreenfield said.

Also, I am not a doctor but isn't the pudenda rather undifferentiated at earlier stages of development?
posted by nofundy at 9:40 AM on April 18, 2007


How about "fetus" instead when discussing these blastocysts?

nofundy, fetuses, blastocysts, and embryos are all different stages of development (though some would lump blastocyst in the "embryo" category). The fact is, the only way out of this mess is to define, as best we can, when a person becomes a person. I don't think there are many people here who would seriously argue that a near-term fetus is not a person, but is in fact a disposable parasitic growth. I don't think that any woman who has carried a child would support that notion.

Now I also don't think you'll find many people here (though there are many in the US at large) who will make a serious claim to personhood to a unicellular zygote, or a blastocyst. That is clearly not a person. What is unclear is, at what point does this change occur? When does personhood begin? There has to be a legal definition of this, I think.

Partial-birth abortion is a classic straw man propped up by the religious right. The fact is, nobody in the US is having late-term abortions unless the health of the mother is seriously threatened by continuing the pregnancy. Furthermore, expectant mothers and medical staff will pull out all stops to deliver (via Caesarean) a near-term pregnancy that is threatening the mother's health. The cases of "partial birth" abortion are few and far between in this country; hence this ruling only affects a tiny number of women and fetuses/babies (your choice) for whom there is no other choice, medically. In these rare cases, this may be tantamount to a death sentence for the mother. I agree with Ginsburg that this is another attempt to chip away at Roe v Wade, and continue the creep of the de facto abortion ban that certain elements of our society are foisting upon us.

People who support abortion rights need to get serious about creating standards for personhood for the embryo or fetus—this need not be a slippery slope situation where conceding that a fetus that is 15 minutes shy of its due date is, in fact, a person will bring the whole house crashing down. This is common sense, we are talking about late-term pregnancies where abortion is almost unheard of (assuming we're talking about a viable fetus that is not seriously endangering the mother); right now, the refusal to create common sense guidelines has allowed abortion rights activists to be caricatured as baby-killers. Explicit acknowledgment of what everyone already knows will actually strengthen support for abortion rights in this country.
posted by Mister_A at 9:41 AM on April 18, 2007 [6 favorites]


roll truck roll: "billysumday typed "What happens after the first trimester that gives the fetus 'personhood'? On what day does the transformation occur?"

So, I'm pro-choice. Extremely pro-choice. But I gotta say, that's a red herring. Are you actually saying that the "life begins at conception" crowd are somehow more right than the first trimester crowd?
"

It's reducio ad absurdum. You can take it all the way back to, "Is the "Life" in the nucleus or the cytoplasm?"

There's no way to start the "When does life begin?" argument without ending up talking about morals. If you want to see how the argument plays out, see here. Me vs. a whole bunch of Young Republicans armed with Talking Points™. They try to pull the "there's secular reasons to be against it" thing and I shut them all down. This line of argument plays out exactly the same every time, so if you've read one, you've read them all.

That's a long-winded way of saying that whether or not a woman has the right to choose is the only argument one can even have in good faith.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 9:41 AM on April 18, 2007


this is what you get with five catholics on the supreme court. it was (mistakenly) thought unseemly to raise this issue during the roberts/alito confirmation hearings, as if the catholic church were a sacred cow immune from attack. we the pro-choice element must learn to attack the enemy with the same fervor it brings to its attacks on us.

there's a long-term, patient strategy to overturn roe v. wade. the commenters above who said that the court doesn't want to do this because it wants to remain in the mainstream of american thinking, whatever that is, fail to apprehend that the "court" has no mind at all, it's just a building. what's important is the law, and any five justices acting together constitute the law, and the justice roster changes occasionally. the anti-abortion people aren't smarter than we are, but they're much better organized and they coordinate their activities much more skillfully than we do, so........

roe v. wade will eventually be overturned. count on it. but don't let it ruin your day, because.......

the resulting backlash will be unprecedented in american political history, and it will destroy those elements who seek to legislate the morality of others. we could end up with a religious civil war just like iraq. i can hardly wait.
posted by bruce at 9:41 AM on April 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm just not clear on why we're talking as though justice and morality are even vaguely democratic.

Can you explain what you mean please? I mean, they are democratic in that there are no clear-cut definitions about them, and thus they sometimes need to be argued over.

And fortunately for all of us, "morality" and "justice" aren't really what's required. They're nice words, but you don't use them to run a country.

Again, I'm extremely pro-choice. But just repeatedly telling half of the country that they're stupid because they aren't pro-choice isn't the best plan.

The message shouldn't be, "I know what's moral and you don't." It should be, "You may consider this wrong, but your rights are more important to this country than your beliefs."
posted by roll truck roll at 9:43 AM on April 18, 2007


Much of America rejects evolution, too. Who cares?

I was pointing out a larger truth in response to a parochial observation, not justifying it.

You can shrug off Creationists/Anti-Choicers all you want, but there are a lot of them, and they vote. That kind of glib dismissal is why the GOP keeps winning elections.
posted by mkultra at 9:46 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


PeterMcDermott: It was just that you were frothing on about fundies and catholics, which I found ironic because you sound just like them.
posted by milarepa at 9:47 AM on April 18, 2007


roll truck roll: ""You may consider this wrong, but your rights are more important to this country than your beliefs."

That, succinctly, is exactly what I was getting at. It's a question of rights, not a question of morals. The ideal is moral people making secular decisions.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 9:47 AM on April 18, 2007


Thanks you for the explanation Mister_A. That was a very reasoned post. Just for the record, I already knew the difference. I refer you to this post for an explanation for why I used such terminology.
posted by nofundy at 9:49 AM on April 18, 2007


Bulgaroktonos: The real question is, what do you do when there's no other morally considerable being's life at stake.

The thing is, there always is another morally considerable being in the equation, namely the woman. And even if her life isn't on the line in a life-or-death sense, her bodily integrity for the next 9 months, and her fundamental liberty for many years are on the line. And that's what makes all this "at what point does a fetus become a morally considerable life" stuff seem like angels dancing on the point of a needle to me: it basically happens when the woman wants it to happen.

That's really the kernel of the pro-choice position, isn't it? And if you think about it, it's kind of an inescapable biological reality: a woman chooses whether to turn a bundle of cells into a child. Period. Whether she does it by abstaining from sex, or using contraception, or via abortion, the woman chooses to make a child or not. To a woman who wants to have a child, it's probably already a person by the time she misses her period, and who's to say she's wrong? Because she's already committed to taking steps to bring that life into being.

That's why pro-choice people see state intrusion as so offensive: since it's a biological fact that a woman gets to choose whether or not to have a child, a legislature's decision to sanctify the life at time X and say it's a state concern after that point is essentially dehumanizing to the woman. It says she has no more moral agency in the transaction and has been reduced to a baby factory. It seems like all women should be offended by this arrogation of power, no matter how one chooses whether or not to carry a child to term.
posted by rkent at 9:51 AM on April 18, 2007 [15 favorites]


bruce: I'm not too sure about civil war. We are too rich, fat and oblivious to give a damn.

I am adamantly pro-choice. But this article, Gambling with abortion, in harpers magazine did shake my philosophical foundations. It is a good read and something that should add to this debate.
posted by Epictetus at 9:53 AM on April 18, 2007


I thought that might be the case, nofundy, but since that was my jumping-off point, I figured I'd include it.
posted by Mister_A at 9:53 AM on April 18, 2007


The USA continues to amaze and astound.

Actually, FFF, Canada is far more restrictive.

The US law says that a physician performing a "partial birth abortion" not done to save the life of the mother is liable to a fine, or imprisonment of no more than two years.

The relevant section of the Criminal Code of Canada says that a physician performing a "partial birth abortion" has committed murder and can be imprisoned for life.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:54 AM on April 18, 2007


women, arm yourselves. you still have that right - for now.
posted by bruce at 9:54 AM on April 18, 2007


phrontist says: "... but I think the vast majority genuinely believe in the personhood of a fetus (espescially past the first trimester)."

In my experience, that's usually not the case. If you dig, you'll find some real nastiness underneath. One of the primary questions: "but do you support the right to have an abortion in cases of rape or incest?"

If they answer 'yes', as most people do, ask them why. Virtually always, it will be 'because it's not her fault'. Zing! There you have it. It's just a reworded form of 'she shouldn't be able to escape the natural consequences of her actions' --- if it's her fault.

If she's acting like a slut, in other words, she should be punished. And THAT is what the abortion debate is REALLY about, 9 times out of 10.
posted by Malor at 9:55 AM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


(though Canada also has an exemption for saving the life of the mother)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:55 AM on April 18, 2007


chunking express linked to a great article upthread. I actually read this a couple weeks ago (in Marie Claire no less) and highly recommend that others do so as well. It was heartbreaking... I had tears in my eyes as I was reading it... and in light of this new court decision, it's frightening as well.

The idea of discovering in the second trimester that your child has severe birth defects that could even prove fatal... and being legally forced to carry the baby to term... it's so frightening. I'm not saying I wouldn't choose to do that anyhow, should I ever (god forbid) find myself in that situation, but not having any other options? I find the whole thing really frightening. I would like to believe that this is the end of it, but I can't. This is just one victory, the antiabortion activists will be back for more.
posted by crackingdes at 9:58 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bruce says: "this is what you get with five catholics on the supreme court."

Let's send the papist louts back to Rome! Huzzah!
posted by Slap Factory at 10:09 AM on April 18, 2007


The relevant section of the Criminal Code of Canada says that a physician performing a "partial birth abortion" has committed murder and can be imprisoned for life.

No, it says:
Every one who causes the death, in the act of birth, of any child that has not become a human being, in such a manner that, if the child were a human being, he would be guilty of murder, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life."
The offense itself is not described as murder. Also, only human beings can be murdered in Canada, as per the Criminal Code.

That said: this law is not enforced. It's on the books, yes. But partial-birth abortions in cases where the mother's life is not in danger are still performed. The difference between the Section 238 and the SCOTUS ruling is that the former is not enforced, but the latter will be.

My intuition is that this law would be struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada if it came down to it.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:09 AM on April 18, 2007


roe v. wade will eventually be overturned. count on it. but don't let it ruin your day, because.......

the resulting backlash will be unprecedented in american political history, and it will destroy those elements who seek to legislate the morality of others. we could end up with a religious civil war just like iraq. i can hardly wait.


Well, gosh, good thing there won't be thousands of suffering and/or dying women and their very lives and rights at stake during all that.

I long for the public to get serious about this too, but I really hate the "don't worry, they'll fuck up so badly one day everyone will be so outraged it'll all be fixed" argument. Holding to it requires you to ignore the huge amount of suffering that comes in the middle.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:09 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


The thing is, there always is another morally considerable being in the equation, namely the woman. And even if her life isn't on the line in a life-or-death sense, her bodily integrity for the next 9 months, and her fundamental liberty for many years are on the line.

Childbirth itself is a very traumatic experience, both physically and psychologically. Remember than many otherwise healthy women die during childbirth.

I do agree with Mister A on the need to agree to some limitations on near-term abortions, for the sake of legitimatizing the practice further.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:10 AM on April 18, 2007


I know this will come across as a snarky question, but it's really not. If you're a pro-choice absolutist, how do you rationalize near-term elective abortions? I can only see three possible arguments:

1. It'll never happen so it's not worth getting worked up about.

2. A near-term fetus doesn't "suffer" in any meaningful sense.

3. A near-term fetus may "suffer" in a sense we recognize, but the woman's right to choose is more important.

Is there some other way to look at this that I'm missing?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:14 AM on April 18, 2007


One thing often impolitic to suggest -- but particularly relevant to the topic at hand -- is that a great many "beliefs" held by a great many people are not so much "beliefs" as particularly salient outward manifestations of long-developed addictions to the social outcomes that follow on the expression of those "beliefs".
posted by little miss manners at 10:14 AM on April 18, 2007


Armitage Shanks: well, there's always

4. You subscribe to some religion (or outlook) in which it is held that the soul -- and hence the humanity of the newborn -- doesn't enter the body until, say, a few days after birth (at which point a name is finally chosen).

It's very far from a cultural universal that newborns are considered fully human.
posted by little miss manners at 10:21 AM on April 18, 2007


It's very far from a cultural universal that newborns are considered fully human.

Fair enough, but I don't think it's unfair to say that it's pretty close to a cultural universal among pro-choice westerners, whatever their religion (or lack thereof). I honestly can't imagine that's the argument that more than a tiny minority of people here would make.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:30 AM on April 18, 2007


Anyone fearing that abortion is being used as "common contraceptives" might want to look at hard numbers. (scroll to the bottom)
posted by yeloson at 10:31 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Roe needs to go, seriously: at this point it is just a pathetic fig leaf. Stevens should resign and get it over with, let his replacement -- ie the usual random GOP operative -- join the other four and finally overturn Roe.

then, finally, the Republican candidates -- for everything from city councilperson to, say, US Senator and US President -- will be free to take credit for the consequences.

the GOP has been making political hay out of Roe since Reagan's times, stirring their Christian base.

let them overturn it, let them try for murder in the first degree women who have backroom abortions and their doctors, and see how the voters like it

then not even Diebold could save them from losing a shitload of votes, as they should. they've been waving a loaded gun for almost 30 years, and they know very well that pulling the trigger is against their interest.

let them pull the trigger, and let millions of American women start voting (or switch parties) and express their gratitude for the GOP's gift to them -- all those coathangers.
posted by matteo at 10:31 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Armitage Shanks: "
3. A near-term fetus may "suffer" in a sense we recognize, but the woman's right to choose is more important."

What does suffering even have to do with anything? Women suffer in childbirth, and in case you don't know, having an abortion isn't exactly a pleasant experience, either. No one wants anybody to suffer unnecessarily, but laws aren't made on the basis of reducing suffering.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:34 AM on April 18, 2007


Quote from Clarence Thomas's concurring opinion: "I write separately to reiterate my view that the Court's abortion jurisdprudence, including Casey and Roe v. Wade, has no basis in the Constitution."

Roe is next, folks. Just a matter of time.
posted by blucevalo at 10:37 AM on April 18, 2007


I think it was Senator John Kerry who said it best about abortion:

"We'll, it's... you know. It's right and it's, uh... wrong also.

Sometimes you don't want to let women choose because they're all... emotional and shit.

And other times you do because, uh... sometimes it's okay to kill babies? If... you know. If they deserve it."
posted by mazola at 10:38 AM on April 18, 2007


What does suffering even have to do with anything?

So your personal beliefs line up most with #3? Or are you just arguing in the abstract?

laws aren't made on the basis of reducing suffering

Really? Why can't I dump whatever toxins I want into your water supply? Why can't I stab you in the eye with a pencil?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:40 AM on April 18, 2007


It's the first win for the anti-abortion community in generations. And this after dozens and dozens of setbacks over the last 35 years.

Yes, that alliance with the GOP has finally paid dividends for the anti-abortion community.

Sure, we've seen the near-complete dismantling of the social welfare system, the politicization of judicial appointments destroying any remaining concept of judicial impartiality, a huge federal debt built on the cannibalization of Social Security and the foisting of trillions in crushing debt onto the coming generations while that money flows from taxpayers straight into the pockets of big political donors, a widening gap between the rich and poor and the acceptance of this inequality as some sort of perverse virtue, a complete disregard of the threat of global warming and environmental degradation on everything from public health to our food supply, and oh, a useless and unilateral war in Iraq that has seen the best minds of our generation blown up shot up burned out hysterical...

but hey, no more partial birth abortions, right? So in the end, it was worth it!
posted by dw at 10:44 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


bashos_frog: "And I'm unaware tof any serious challenge to the sincerity of those that claim to believe in a woman's right to choose. Are there people out there saying "you don't really support a woman's right to choose, you just like killing babies?"

(not that it would surprise me, if there were)
"

---
See, it's not that they like killing babies, it's just a socialist plot for population control. It's obviously about surreptitiously using "choice" as a way to backdoor forced eugenics, under UN One World Order.

Or so the theory goes according to the extreme right-wing.
posted by symbioid at 10:45 AM on April 18, 2007


matteo it's a nice idea, but what makes you think women still wouldn't remain marginalized? How many congressmen, senators, and presidents have not been White men? It's not like it's a secret the Republicans don't give a shit about women. Women have had years to change the make up of the government, and have been unable to. Do you think it's because they are lazy and don't care -- possible -- or the system makes such a change next to impossible.
posted by chunking express at 10:45 AM on April 18, 2007


Armitage Shanks: "It's very far from a cultural universal that newborns are considered fully human.

Fair enough, but I don't think it's unfair to say that it's pretty close to a cultural universal among pro-choice westerners, whatever their religion (or lack thereof). I honestly can't imagine that's the argument that more than a tiny minority of people here would make.
"

There you go, you damned majority, persecuting the minorities again! Ugh, democracy.
posted by symbioid at 10:50 AM on April 18, 2007


matteo: "they know very well that pulling the trigger is against their interest. "

That's where you're wrong. I'm all about letting the headstrong child learn from his mistakes, but this is just vindictive. The ideologues would pull the trigger in an instant, on this and many other issues and we'd all be the worse for it. Don't forget there's a certain apocalyptic end-times sect in politics today. What needs to happen is for the democratic party or someone to grow some balls and take charge of things. We need someone with old-school gravitas to find their voice. All the shrill, juvenile partisan bickering and maneuvering has turned politics into the playground for ideologues, and rational debate which is unafraid to be complicated has been lost. I don't know if we'll ever find it again as long as the pandering to the lowest common denominator persists, and how do you expect a politician with something to gain to not pander to that which they know will get them to most ears? If the people in charge had been doing their job all along, pandering would never have been a successful strategy in the first place, but now that struggle is lost. Overwrought emotional appeals designed to pull people one way or the other are the order of the day until there is a sense, across the whole population, that they people in charge mean well and are trying to do their best for everyone.

Yeah, that'll happen. Might as well get yours while the getting is good and bribes are still relatively cheap.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:52 AM on April 18, 2007


Is there some other way to look at this that I'm missing?

her body + no overarching societal cost => none of my business.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:55 AM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Armitage Shanks,

It's my understanding that this law doesn't just outlaw random elective abortions, but it would also outlaw abortions in cases where the child is seriously deformed, as in serious neural tube defects. Read the story posted above, it may make you reconsider why some people may choose to have an abortion so late term.

That aside, I think I can answer your question.

3. A near-term fetus may "suffer" in a sense we recognize, but the woman's right to choose is more important.

I would agree with this statement. I happen to believe that there is no such thing as a soul. Alternately, I could believe that souls exist, and animals other than humans possess them. Basically, unless you believe that there is something like a soul that distinguishes human fetuses from animals like rats that have a less ambiguous capacity for pain, it is entirely inconsistent to care about a handful of late term abortions yet not be upset about the legions of rats and other rodents killed for our convenience.

After all, if one has a right to kill rats if they inconveniently live in one's home, why should we not have the right to kill something of a similar awareness and capacity for pain if it inconveniently lives in one's abdomen? This is not a glib question. It has serious implications. After all, in a country where Jainism was the dominant religion, I don't think this argument would carry any weight, because a theocrat would reply that obviously both acts should be illegal, because they are basing their moral reasoning on a different set of religious beliefs.

This is my fundamental problem with these kinds of arguments against abortion. Absent equal treatment for all animals of similar faculties, the arguments of the pro-life movement have at their core religious assumptions about what is morally considerable and what isn't. To give these religious beliefs force of law in a country that is putatively secular is abominable.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:57 AM on April 18, 2007


how do you rationalize near-term elective abortions?

If they are for birth control then I think they are not really justified. However, I doubt most late term abortions are for that reason. More likely it is because a birth defect has been discovered, as in the very poignant article chunkingexpress linked upthread. On the whole, it would be better to just not bring a child with severe birth defects into the world.
posted by caddis at 11:00 AM on April 18, 2007


I'm really curious where the biblical basis for opposition to abortion comes from. There's the oft-cited quote saying roughly, "I knew you in the womb," but Numbers 5 describes in detail the process for getting an abortion from the temple priest in cases of suspected infidelity. That's the Bible, allegedly from the mouth of God, saying that you can make your cheating wife get an abortion from God's employees. This is in line with the Jewish law (let's not forget who wrote the Bible) which states that a baby is not considered a living thing until 30 days after birth. (cite)

I have to agree with some of the others where who are observing that controlling the legality of abortion is mostly about punishing women for having sex. Of course it is. It always has been. This country's puritan roots are showing.
posted by mullingitover at 11:02 AM on April 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Armitage Shanks: "What does suffering even have to do with anything?

So your personal beliefs line up most with #3? Or are you just arguing in the abstract?


I'm rejecting your view, and taking none of those options.

laws aren't made on the basis of reducing suffering

Really? Why can't I dump whatever toxins I want into your water supply? Why can't I stab you in the eye with a pencil?
"

It's not to stop suffering, per se. It's because a subgroup of people whom have been given the right to speak for the good of the whole group know that if we all went around poisoning the water and stabbing each other, there would be no one left. Sorry, I know this is kinda splitting hairs, but you asked if there was another way to see things, and there is. It's in the public interest that abortions should be available, for public health reasons, as well as preservation of rights, without even getting into the whole "Is it suffering, is that OK, if so, how much, who decides, etc."
posted by Mr. Gunn at 11:03 AM on April 18, 2007


how do you rationalize near-term elective abortions?

Well, you don't have to rationalize anything, the women how has decided to end her pregnancy does. That's all there is to it. The supreme court, the federal government, etc, need to mind their own damn business. An abortion should be something between a woman and her doctor.
posted by chunking express at 11:06 AM on April 18, 2007


It's my understanding that this law doesn't just outlaw random elective abortions, but it would also outlaw abortions in cases where the child is seriously deformed, as in serious neural tube defects. Read the story posted above, it may make you reconsider why some people may choose to have an abortion so late term.

I understand that. I'm asking a specific separate question, which you answered straightforwardly. Thank you.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:08 AM on April 18, 2007


mullingitover: "I'm really curious where the biblical basis for opposition to abortion comes from. "

It's called rousing the base. Get it now?
posted by Mr. Gunn at 11:09 AM on April 18, 2007


but what makes you think women still wouldn't remain marginalized?

because, at the moment, Republican women have abortions, too.


The ideologues would pull the trigger in an instant, on this and many other issues and we'd all be the worse for it.

then let them spend the following 25 years as the minority party, while the Democrats -- as they always do -- pick up after their mess.
posted by matteo at 11:14 AM on April 18, 2007



Excuse me, but why don't you move to Afghanistan for a few months and then try to make that comparison. Moron.


hyperbole. look it up, shithead.
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 11:19 AM on April 18, 2007


I'm rejecting your view, and taking none of those options.

I haven't told you my view. This isn't a trick question. I'm genuinely conflicted on the subject. It seems to me that an intelligent, thoughtful person who takes an absolutist view on abortion rights must have justified in their own mind why they hold that position, particularly at the extremes, which would include permitting near-term elective abortion.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:20 AM on April 18, 2007


Another way to look at it:

5. Freedom is more important than life.

We get that backwards a lot, these days. It makes us easy to chain. Our forefathers would be deeply disappointed in us.
posted by Malor at 11:25 AM on April 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


5. Freedom is more important than life.

That seems rather unsatisfyingly generic to me. I mean, if a gun-rights absolutist said that the reason there should be no restrictions on weapons whatsoever was because "freedom is more important than life," would it sound like a considered position or a slogan?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:36 AM on April 18, 2007


this is one of the least civil threads I've seen on MeFi, and I've lurked through quite a few. abortion debates seem to bring out the worst in everybody, regardless of position.

a few quick thoughts on today's holding:

To everybody who's worrying about Clarence Thomas's concurrence (saying this is within the Commerce Clause, but states have the right, etc, etc)--he's an originalist, and as such has always been against the right to privacy couched in substantive due process. nothing new. that said, Thomas is so far out there that most of the conservative wing of the court won't join his opinions (Roberts and Alito didn't.) Just because Thomas says something doesn't mean even the right wing of the court will do it.

Just a gut feeling, but I'm not sure Kennedy would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. If memory serves, he came out the other way the last time the "partial birth" question was raised. (Damned if I can remember the case name, though.)

There's a difference between chipping away at the edges and pulling out the keystone. Hopefully, the keystone (Roe) stays in place, because otherwise, a number of other rights couched in a loosely defined constitutional right to privacy, or under substantive due process, become vulnerable.
posted by theoddball at 11:38 AM on April 18, 2007


Is thread to discuss the actual Supreme Court opinion? Or is this a place to have the abortion debate/circlejerk again? As far as I can tell, there only a appears to be a handful of comments by people who actually read the opinion and exhibit some understanding as to what this opinion is about. If it is read and understood, one sees that this opinion doesn't do much. There is no great precedent out of this case; no serious change in the law. It's interesting from a statutory construction perspective, but it doesn't give any real answers or rules of law. Plus, it leaves the door wide open for a challenge on other grounds. In the tired and binary partisan war over this issue, neither side can claim victory.
posted by dios at 11:41 AM on April 18, 2007


theoddball writes "this is one of the least civil threads I've seen on MeFi, and I've lurked through quite a few."

You really need to pay closer attention...

(*checks user number*...ah, 39k. We really are due for an actual flameout, aren't we?)
posted by mullingitover at 11:42 AM on April 18, 2007


Armitage, re: your last, that sounds precisely like the NRA position. With "respect" to this:

how do you rationalize near-term elective abortions?

This just isn't done. Look at the stats cited upthread, for starters. THen talk to some women. Talk to some docs who perform abortions. Ask them how many late-term "elective" abortions they've had done, or have performed themselves. You seem to have no idea about babies, doctors, or women. I will not respond further, I leave you to your trolling.
posted by Mister_A at 11:48 AM on April 18, 2007


Is thread to discuss the actual Supreme Court opinion? Or is this a place to have the abortion debate/circlejerk again

Why don't you tell us exactly what you want it to be, so we can all get in lockstep with your perpetual hall monitor whining? Jackass.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:48 AM on April 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


I will not respond further, I leave you to your trolling.

Unbelievable. I give up. (Thanks again [expletive deleted], for a thoughtful response.)
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:50 AM on April 18, 2007


Least civil? Considering the touchiness of the issue this is a well behaved discussion. Sure we have a few transgressions like quarterwater's bad behavior, but nothing too bad. MeFi has seen much worse.
posted by caddis at 11:54 AM on April 18, 2007


If she's acting like a slut, in other words, she should be punished. And THAT is what the abortion debate is REALLY about, 9 times out of 10.

It would behoove many on the left to consider why do they feel she should be punished for acting like a slut. Clearly, from the most common male point of view, women acting truly like what we perceive to be a slut would be in every way beneficial (i.e. gettin' teh sexin' whenever). But I think the catch is that this culture is available to only a small subset of population. And hence they turn to an 'if I can't have they can't have mindset'. In addition to feeling the need to punish those who disregard for consequences of actions. I can sympathize with this type of resentment even though I'm unwaveringly pro abortion.

Related to the post: I haven't read all the comments, anyone see this at the bottom?:
"In another 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that an individual convicted of attempted burglary under state law has committed a "violent felony" for purposes of a mandatory 15-year sentence under federal law dealing with armed criminals."

Seems like the word violent no longer means anything.
posted by kigpig at 11:57 AM on April 18, 2007


Do you think it's because they are lazy and don't care -- possible -- or the system makes such a change next to impossible.
posted by chunking express at 1:45 PM on April 18


On the subject of woman-hating GOP and no GOP senators, I'll say this. Only now are we seeing women occupying executive roles in Fortune 500 companies in any respectable numbers. As go corporations, so goes the Senate. We'll see ex-executive female GOP senators in a few years, but don't be surprised if they act like ex-executive male senators.

I read the opinion. And as I said above, it's sort of meh. It's open to a constitutional challenge in the context of an actual case where a proscribed abortion procedure had to be used to preserve the health of the woman.

The angle that everyone is missing and which may be more interesting to some than the aforementioned circle-jerk is the majority opinion's treatment of scientific consesus.


Ginsburg addresses this extensively in her dissent. The idea is that Planned Parenthood ("PP") put on an expert-heavy case in the lower, fact-finding court (the district court). The experts testified that the proscribed procedure was often necessary, and that the medical community generally acknowledged that the procedure was likely to be necessary in many circumstances. The government's case was light on experts who of course testified to the opposite but were far less qualified than the PP experts, and who also didn't have the depth of sources (journal articles, etc) that PP had.

The majority took the position that because there was some disagreement in the scientific community, the law could not be said to be facially defective for failure to provide an adequate "preserve the health of the mother" clause. In other words, because 99-1 constitutes a disagreement among experts, there is no scientific consensus for the court to take notice of or even to take into account.

Now do you see why the decision matters? Not because of abortion (because I guarantee you PP is looking for a doctor to perform and a woman to undergo the procedure as we write), but because of all of the other scientific policy issues facing the country - globally warming, evolution, energy etc. Because there's always an expert for hire, there is no consensus on these issues in the court's mind.

Worse still, what about issues like electronic voting, vote recounting statistical methods, etc, for which there isn't even an acknowledged consensus in the community?
posted by Pastabagel at 12:09 PM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


dios: Is thread to discuss the actual Supreme Court opinion? Or is this a place to have the abortion debate/circlejerk again?

Of course it ends up being just another abortion debate, because the overwhelming majority of Mefites (and I include myself in this) don't know enough about law to have an informed debate about the court opinions themselves.

Unless lots of Mefites suddenly become lawyers, I don't see this changing. However, it's a shame some people don't even try to understand what this case is about, and instead jump straight to the pro-choice or pro-life slogan-shouting.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 12:14 PM on April 18, 2007


"In another 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that an individual convicted of attempted burglary under state law has committed a "violent felony" for purposes of a mandatory 15-year sentence under federal law dealing with armed criminals."

Seems like the word violent no longer means anything.
posted by kigpig at 2:57 PM on April 18


Burglary is breaking and entering, and is routinely treated under law as a violent crime, because many burglaries have rape, kidnapping or sexual predation as a motive, but the motive is difficult to ascertain if the burglar is caught in the act, or in the attempt. Thus for many purposes, burglary is treated as a violent crime, especially burglaries at night. The reason in many states you can shoot a burglar in your house and claim self-defense is that the law assumes the burglar threatens the life of the occupants.

I haven't read the case, but my guess is it relates to the appropriateness of mandatory sentencing, the excessive 15-year term, and the fact that it was an attempt.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:16 PM on April 18, 2007


another 5-4 eh? Guess the docket has run out of non controversial things to rule about. I recall when Roberts first came abard there was talk about how much a uniter he was and all these near unamious rules proved as such.
posted by edgeways at 12:17 PM on April 18, 2007


What an odd decision. I think I can sum up my problems with it thusly:

1. Hypocrisy. I know that they didn't certify the question of commerce, but on what grounds does one establish that there is a Federal jurisdiction for this? The supporters of this are the same people that argue against Roe because it dictates health care policy to the states-- but it's ok to do that legislatively? What part of Article I, section 8 says they can do that? If the Court likes Federal regulation of moral concerns, then why strike down the Violence Against Women Act? The Gun Free School Zones Act? Why not eliminate state criminal statutes for a uniform Federal one? Federalism and Separation of Powers is plainly revealed as rhetoric to be employed when the result is the desired one and not because the principle works.

2. Standing. For the second time in a month, the key conservative problem with a law is who is permitted to challenge it. In the global warming case, those that argued that no one had standing were dissenting, but here, saying that the plaintiffs could not challenge this law facially meant that there are substantial road blocks in the way of anyone trying to constitutionally challenge an abortion statute. In other words, if a woman is facing the life-threatening situation that would justify the as-applied challenge, before the doctors could rescue her, they'd have to first get an injunction. She could die in the interim*. I see a disturbing trend here-- you can uphold conservative laws by chipping away at the pool of people who can challenge them, until in actuality no one is left to legally cry foul.

3. Privacy and the role of the doctor-patient relationship. The point of Roe was that the state should not interfere in the personal health care decisions of women and their doctors. That appears to be a concern no longer. I'm sure there are some fine doctors in Congress, but the idea that their broad rule enacted to score political points works better than individual doctors and their very specific situations is laughable.

Finally, why predict that Roe will get overturned? There's really no need. All you have to do is keep chipping, and soon the exceptions swallow the rule. Roe created the conservative backlash; I suspect that the conservative jurists out to erase it know better than to give the propaganda victory that a straight overturning would.

*Like my wife, who had to deliver our son by c-section at 23 weeks gestationally because her condition had worsened into the 12 hour lethality time line. I have sympathy for someone in our situation who needed to abort for whatever reason, and I'm uncomfortable with saying 'our baby lived so all abortions at that time should be banned' because I can think of circumstances where that's legitimate. My biggest problem with the whole anti-abortion arguments is that they're so darned one-size-fits-all, and life is just waaay more complicated than that (self link).
posted by norm at 12:18 PM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


another 5-4 eh? Guess the docket has run out of non controversial things to rule about. I recall when Roberts first came abard there was talk about how much a uniter he was and all these near unamious rules proved as such.

Maybe we need more dividers, and fewer "uniters".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:23 PM on April 18, 2007


So, the federal government given more power over its citizens and conservatives are cheering?
posted by three blind mice at 12:44 PM on April 18, 2007


is given
posted by three blind mice at 12:45 PM on April 18, 2007


theoddball writes "this is one of the least civil threads I've seen on MeFi. "

Really? Have there been a bunch of comments deleted? This really isn't too bad, especially for a hot-button issue.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:00 PM on April 18, 2007


“Partial-birth abortion is a classic straw man propped up by the religious right. The fact is, nobody in the US is having late-term abortions unless the health of the mother is seriously threatened by continuing the pregnancy.”

Right. There are almost no late-term abortions performed in the US. So-called “elective abortions” in the third trimester are available at, last I heard, only two clinics in the US. In many ways, this is a red-herring.

However, RvW did specifically allow late-term abortions while, in contrast, the vast majority of the American public is opposed to late-term abortions. The same public is overwhelmingly in favor of unrestricted access to early-term abortions.

I agree with that general outlook and thus, even as an erstwhile card-carrying member of NARAL, I don't find this decision noxious. In my view, the ethical question of abortion is the balancing of the rights of a woman to controlling her own body and the rights of a fetus insofar as it is truly a human life. I think it is absurd to claim that a fetus is truly a human life early in the pregnancy yet also absurd to claim that it is not late in the pregnancy¹. In my view, the fetus has zero rights in the first trimester and sufficient rights in the third to outweigh those of the mother. I reject the common pro-choice claim that such decisions are outside the purview of the rule of law in a democratic society.

1. Insofar as we accept that a newborn baby is a full human life deserving of recognition of all the usual rights. I'm not at all concvinced that this is rationally, scientifically justified and thus, were we to allow early-age infanticide, I'd accept the acceptability of third-trimester abortions. That said, I believe that the qualitative changes from around the time of birth through the first eight weeks are not so great as to be sufficient to make a case for drawing some bright line. While, in contrast, I think that the changes from the first trimester to the third are sufficiently great to allow such an inevitably somewhat arbitrary determination.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:05 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I reject the common pro-choice claim that such decisions are outside the purview of the rule of law in a democratic society.

That's nice EB. You should totally not have an abortion then.

I wonder what this thread would be like if we erased all the comments not from women. How many would we have?
posted by chunking express at 1:11 PM on April 18, 2007


I wonder what this thread would be like if we erased all the comments not from women.

When you boil it down, Metafilter is one big overthinking plate of sausage.
posted by The Straightener at 1:15 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


When you boil it down, Metafilter is one big overthinking plate of sausage.

Sounds about right.
posted by chunking express at 1:16 PM on April 18, 2007


Quote from Clarence Thomas's concurring opinion: "I write separately to reiterate my view that the Court's abortion jurisdprudence, including Casey and Roe v. Wade, has no basis in the Constitution."

Roe is next, folks. Just a matter of time.


I'm pro-choice, and I hope you're right.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:25 PM on April 18, 2007


“That's nice EB. You should totally not have an abortion then.”

That's a non-sequitor. It's a tiresome and dishonest argument. I think a civil society has a responsibility to protect the rights of the weak, children more than most. I reject as irrational the personhood distinction between a day-before-birth fetus and day-after-birth baby and, for this reason, it therefore seems clear to me that the state has a legitimate interest in protecting the rights of that fetus relative to its determination of its status.

As both a feminist and pro-choice advocate, I'm well aware of the patriarchal issues involved in reproduction, the cultural conservative impetus behind restricting abortion that masquerades as caring about babies, the deep right all people have for controlling their own bodies coupled with how offensively this right has been violated when it comes to women, and how paramount it is for women's rights to be freed of being, in practice “baby-machines”. For all these reasons I strongly support the availability of all forms of contraception for women of all ages and, indeed, I consider first-trimester abortions as a form of contraception and believe they should be equally available. Furthermore, I am objectively “pro-abortion” with regard to first-trimester abortions and reject the oft-heard pro-choice argument that there's something not-quite-right about them yet they should be available. I think first-trimester abortions are morally the equivalent of contraception.

And, finally, for all the women's rights reasons I mention above, I believe that during the second-trimester, when there are arguably some burgeoning rights accruing to the fetus, the enormous importance women's reproductive freedom and the widespread implications relative to it still easily outweigh the rights of the fetus and thus I believe that access and availability to abortions in the second-trimester should be, though perhaps monitored, essentially as unrestrained as during the first. It is only in the third-trimester, and perhaps only in its second-half, that I believe the balance tilts the other direction.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:31 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


EB, as I said above, that's nice. You will never ever be put in a position where you have to decide whether to kill your baby or not, so you have the luxury of making all sorts of lovely distinctions about when and when not to allow women to get abortions. And that's not me trying ot make a "tiresome and dishonest argument," that just how it is. I know you think your opinion on this issue matters, but really it shouldn't. Mine shouldn't. Who really gives a fuck what a bunch of dudes think a women should do something growing inside her?
posted by chunking express at 1:38 PM on April 18, 2007


I wonder what this thread would be like if we erased all the comments not from women. How many would we have?

Well since your profile says you're male yours would be gone for one. Did I read too much into this, or are you suggesting that men shouldn't be commenting on abortion? In fact since in most cases it takes a man and a woman to have a baby, and if that women must end a pregnancy with a baby as a result, barring outside natural forces at work, men too will be burdened by erosion of the law.

On preview, yes, it seems you actually do think that our opinion doesn't matter. Seems a very odd take on law that only the directly affected parties should have opinions.
posted by kigpig at 1:44 PM on April 18, 2007


“I know you think your opinion on this issue matters, but really it shouldn't. Mine shouldn't.”—chunking express

Bad, bad argument. By that reasoning, infertile women also have no place in this debate. And, in general, it is antithetical to a democratic society to limit enfranchisement to only those affected by a particular law. Democracy is the notion of abstracted, collective responsibility for the rule of law.

Yours is a very, very common argument that many people believe is rational. It isn't. It's emotional, it's an argument of convenience quite like an argument which points at a photo of a fetus and denounces “murder”. It's superficial, egregiously so, and thus dishonest.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:49 PM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yea, you're coming off a little foamy at the mouth there, chunking. And let's not forget, women are not lining up to have late-term abortions of healthy, viable fetuses. It just doesn't happen. Most women that I know find this sort of thing reprehensible, and I agree with them on this. You are arguing for the same strawman that the pro-life crowd is arguing against. This in-for-a-penny, in-for-a-pound absolutism is what has got most people sick to death of both shrill sides of this debate.
posted by Mister_A at 1:59 PM on April 18, 2007


Americans your country sucks. Seriously.

My country is NOT my government.
posted by psmealey at 2:01 PM on April 18, 2007


Seriously.
posted by Mister_A at 2:03 PM on April 18, 2007


Mister_A, we don't need limits on abortion for precisely the reason you say: women aren't in a rush to kill their babies. Women having late term abortions probably need them for medical reasons that are none of our business. We shouldn't put laws in place to make such things our business.

psmealey I know your country isn't your government; it still sucks.
posted by chunking express at 2:10 PM on April 18, 2007


Here is a non-hyperbolic, non-mouth-foaming comment:

I think that Ethereal Bligh is correct and chunking express is incorrect.

Thank you.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:25 PM on April 18, 2007


And let's not forget, women are not lining up to have late-term abortions of healthy, viable fetuses.

Was this stated as the results of a study or as a belief? There are women who don't realize they're pregnant for months and then don't make the decisions for a while. Further, there are states like Texas where they deliberately make it difficult to get one such that a women may have to wait months to have an abortion thus putting her later into the pregnancy. I'd imagine this forms a small but existent population of women with healthy fetuses who want abortions in the third trimester though I don't really know.
posted by kigpig at 2:29 PM on April 18, 2007


Mister_A writes "This in-for-a-penny, in-for-a-pound absolutism is what has got most people sick to death of both shrill sides of this debate."

Amen.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:51 PM on April 18, 2007


Well said Mister_A and Ethereal Bligh

That ‘personhood’ argument is a tough one.
I think Ginsburg nailed it: “politics of recent judicial appointments, noting...A decision of the character the Court makes today should not have staying power.”
Sounds like an actual philosophical conservative opinion. Sacrificing that liberty for what ultimately amounts to political expediancy is not a good idea. And even barring that - it raises fiendish issues in medicine and law enforcement.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:51 PM on April 18, 2007


(not the least of which - moral concerns (“which could yield prohibitions on any abortion”) vs. physician’s opinion that a medical procedure is necessary to the health of the mother - would you arrest a doctor for making that call? I really don’t want to put a doctor in the position of either violating the oath of practice or the law)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:02 PM on April 18, 2007


Who really gives a fuck what a bunch of dudes think a women should do something growing inside her?
posted by chunking express at 4:38 PM on April 18


Well, there is currently no legal mechanism for excluding men from voting on this issue, so I would say that the law gives a fuck. Furthermore, doctors who perform abortions can and often are male, so the debate affects their livelihood.
posted by Pastabagel at 3:08 PM on April 18, 2007


I wonder what this thread would be like if we erased all the comments not from women. How many would we have?

I wonder what this thread would be like if we erased all the comments not from sitting SCOTUS justices? In the end their opinions are the only ones that really matter.
posted by MikeMc at 3:11 PM on April 18, 2007


Who really gives a fuck what a bunch of dudes think a women should do something growing inside her?

Good point, I don't have a uterus, therefore I have no right to an opinion, therefore I don't give a fuck what SCOTUS decides about abortion. Sounds about right.
posted by MikeMc at 3:17 PM on April 18, 2007


In the end their opinions are the only ones that really matter.

5-4 breaks aren't worth spit, in the long run. Yes, I know the break with RvW.

Did I read too much into this, or are you suggesting that men shouldn't be commenting on abortion?

Comments should be tempered with the humility and perspective that it's awfully easy opining about limiting someone else's liberty.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:39 PM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Furthermore, doctors who perform abortions can and often are male, so the debate affects their livelihood.

Abortions for dollars? How utterly asinine.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:46 PM on April 18, 2007


Heywood Mogroot makes the point I want to, but without all the frothing you folks seem to get worked up about. Damn you Internet for making me stupid.
posted by chunking express at 3:48 PM on April 18, 2007


kigpig: There was an almanac article linked upthread that has enough information to answer your question. There aren't many women getting late-term abortions at all, so it stands to reason that it's not a problem worth expending much energy on, unless you're using it for an ulterior motive.

1.4% of all abortions (24.6 per 100 live births, so a bit over 3 tenths of one percent of all abortions) are performed after 21 weeks. The vast majority are performed before 10 weeks. Over 60% before 9 weeks.

Some people act like there's this huge rush of women who get late-term abortions when there really isn't. Sort of like the fundies would have you believe that most abortions are performed by women who use them as birth control, when that is also demonstrably false. Most women who have them have never had them before.

As I mentioned earlier, people who are calling this a problem are using it to advance their political agenda, which is the complete elimination of abortion in this country, nothing more, nothing less.
posted by wierdo at 5:03 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


As a woman reading the majority opinion, the main sentiment I got from the style of it was along the lines of "Man, this is so gross! We totally can't believe doctors do this! And like, it's rare enough that the people who do get it must be total freaks!"

In other words, while I actually paid attention to the (often ghastly) descriptions of abortion I've had to read in health classes throughout my public education because I knew this stuff might eventually affect me, and was well aware that yes, abortion can be absolutely barbaric, these dudes on the court were broadsided by the reality and felt moved to respond. It's hard to take a court decision seriously when there's such a blatant subtext of "Yuck!" That's reflected in Ginsburg's opinion, too; I was glad she pointed out their linguistic tricks.

Yeah, it's a gross job being a girl, and you never know what sort of surprises will come your way, from your own body no less. That's no reason to restrict the options open to all women about how to deal with those surprises. Upsetting decision to read, all things considered. The first half gory, the second half chilling - think I'll be waiting a while to eat dinner tonight.
posted by crinklebat at 5:16 PM on April 18, 2007


wierdo: You're giving statistics on those who do get late term abortions and talking about those who would want to. Since it is restricted in some states it stands to reason that they are not the same. Nevertheless 1.4% of somewhere between 800K and 1300K is still over 10 thousand instances per year.

Do note, I'm not for abortion restrictions even in the most selfish of cases.
posted by kigpig at 5:30 PM on April 18, 2007


About what, milarepa? The right of the state to deny terminations to mothers carrying children with serious birth abnormalities?

Tell you what, when you're providing the financial and emotional support for someone else's unwanted chronically ill child, then perhaps you'll have the moral authority to tell me that I'm wrong. But all I see are shitloads of Americans going on about the rights of these unborn children, while simultaneously being abysmal when it comes to providing material support in terms of finances or affordable health care for those who have to live with it.


I have spent thousands of hours over decades combing through bookstores of all kinds looking at every extreme thing I could clap eyes on, just to know what the world is made of, among other reasons, and the most disturbing thing, by at least an order of magnitude the most disturbing thing I have ever seen, had a simple title something like: Human Developmental Genetics.

It consisted largely of half page black and white photographs of mainly living babies a few weeks or months old with various genetic abnormalities and a brief discussion of what was known of the causes in each case. It was a textbook. It sent me into a kind of shock (as I write I am revisited by an image of a smiling baby with a normal left side of the face and an eyeless right side as blank as a sheet of paper-- easily among the least disturbing images in the book, an image which serves to protect me from the others, I think, because I allow myself to believe that baby went on to a happy, fulfilled life), and I bought it in rather a daze. I haven't opened it since, and when I moved last it ended up in a storage locker, from which it continues to have little difficulty reaching out to intensify some of my nightmares.

Some of those babies were born dead, and many others were born to unavoidably short lives of increasingly agonized misery. Very few of our imagined hells, I think, can begin to compare to the experiences of those babies and their parents. I wish I could require those who speak glibly of rights to life to visit those families and look into the faces of those babies, and hear that screaming.
posted by jamjam at 5:31 PM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


kigpig: The numbers have gone up in recent years, not down, so new state restrictions are certainly not to blame for decreases in late term abortions.

13,000 a year is a miniscule number compared to yearly live births. For 2002, it's about 3 one thousandths of one percent of live births. I can certainly believe that most of those are related to severe defects.

By contrast, about 300,000 babies a year are born with birth defects.
posted by wierdo at 6:13 PM on April 18, 2007


I meant 3 tenths. :(
posted by wierdo at 6:25 PM on April 18, 2007


I think that challenge usually takes the form of the "abortion for convenience" argument, e.g. why not use a condom or get an abortion in the first trimester, etc. --Pastabagel

Severe birth defects may not show up until the second

PeterMcDermott, why is it so hard for you to consider that people you disagree with might be right in the long run? -- milarepa

What's the "long run"? This is just a matter of opinion, and morals will continue to evolve through history. It's not like we're going to learn anything new here.

Okay, I'm going to end this here. Catholics and fundies and me and you (because I'm not pro-life, dummy) don't speak for anyone because we don't not have the authority of the law. -- Pastabagle.

That doesn't make any sense. We were talking about posting comments on metafilter, which have no statutory power. Sure would be an interesting world if they were.

the resulting backlash will be unprecedented in american political history, and it will destroy those elements who seek to legislate the morality of others. we could end up with a religious civil war just like iraq. i can hardly wait. -- bruce

They're going to do it slowly.
posted by delmoi at 6:28 PM on April 18, 2007


As long as it's inside a woman totally dependent on her for everything it's a parasite, with no more "dignity" than a tumor. Should the doctors have tried to preserve this guy's fetus?
posted by davy at 6:37 PM on April 18, 2007


"Please Mister, don't kill your baby!"
posted by davy at 6:38 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


EB comes in here and says, "Well, I think 3 months should be good enough for anyone." Man, I am usually right there with ya, but WTF?

Is there something besides gut feeling behind your 3 months good/6 months bad rule that we could learn from, or are the reasons behind your position as mysterious to you as they are to us?

I'm not attacking your beliefs, but if you're going to advance some arbitrary-seeming point in time as the good/bad line, you kinda need to back that up a little.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:25 PM on April 18, 2007


What's the "long run"? This is just a matter of opinion, and morals will continue to evolve through history. It's not like we're going to learn anything new here.

I meant that perhaps those "fundies" and "catholics" might have a moral position that history will judge positively, like abolition and women's sufferage, which both piggy-backed christian revival movements. I am pro-choice, but I can easily see people 150 years from now being appalled by abortion.
posted by milarepa at 8:08 PM on April 18, 2007


“Is there something besides gut feeling behind your 3 months good/6 months bad rule that we could learn from, or are the reasons behind your position as mysterious to you as they are to us?

I'm not attacking your beliefs, but if you're going to advance some arbitrary-seeming point in time as the good/bad line, you kinda need to back that up a little.”


Actually, what I said draws the line closer to seven months.

There's a lot of nuances in this discussion that I needn't go into. Simply, I think that most people don't think a fertilized egg is a person and most people believe that a newborn baby is a person. I agree with them. However, I don't agree that anything happens at birth that can rationally support the idea that personhood exists then but not immediately before. Birth, I think, is a very poor dividing line given contemporary science. On the other hand, there clearly are a great number of things that happen between fertilization and birth that are qualitative changes—somehow, spread over that time, a person comes into existence.

I don't think that any single bright line for personhood is very rationally and scientifically defensible. I think the closest statement of the truth of the matter is that personhood is achieved in a continuous process that is complete at the end of term. Therefore, ideally we would evaluate the rights of the fetus relative to personhood from a continuous function. However, in practice with regard to law-making, that's not feasible. We are forced to draw some relatively arbitrary bright-lines.

Our social convention is to think in terms of trimesters. Thus, I think a reasonable way to map that continuum onto law is to work with those trimesters. First trimester: no personhood whatsoever, it's contraception. Second trimester: personhood ambiguous, the law makes various distinctions and exceptions while the woman's rights are largely paramount. Third trimester: personhood achieved or nearly achieved, the law makes the fetus's rights as a person paramount with perhaps a few exceptions and distinctions favoring the woman.

Honestly, I'd like to see a greater granularity than trimesters. I'd prefer a monthly schedule or even a weekly schedule. But the political and social environment will not support such a thing because even though most people, apart from the partisans, recognize the ambiguity and give-and-take of the issues involved, they still want and perhaps need some few arbitrary hard-and-fast rules. Perhaps this is because we really aren't socially comfortable with the idea that personhood is not an absolute. In some ways, even the rest of us are still beholden to the residue of the idea of ensoulment that the pro-lifers cling to.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:15 PM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ethereal: personally, if there has to be a bright line, I think it should be when the fetus has enough brain tissue to wake up and become conscious. If I remember correctly, that's at 24 weeks, but I don't have a chart handy.

That's right at end of the second trimester, and would dovetail into your other arguments pretty well.
posted by Malor at 8:29 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


EB, are you a vegetarian?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:29 PM on April 18, 2007


In hindsight, I think my last comment sounds snide, this wasn't my intention. If you are not, I'm sure you have a reason for distinguishing between second trimester fetuses and hogs raised for meat. Personally, I don't believe there is any difference, but I'm unfamiliar with any arguments to the contrary that are relevant to secular law.

Either way, I intended that question as a jumping off point for a discussion of what makes a being morally considerable. I think I tend to be somewhat restrictive when it comes to making this distinction, and am always interested in this debate. I feel it underscores a great deal of contemporary moral arguments, everything from animal rights to abortion, disability theory, etc. Every time Metafilter has an abortion debate, I hope it leads to a broader, more abstract discussion of what makes an entity morally considerable.

I suspect that this is the crux of the argument anyway, but I admit that is more assumption than not.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:48 PM on April 18, 2007


EB, you're basically recapping the RvW decision (or at least one opinion in it), both its medical and moral logic.

I don't have any great argument with this, save for the legal hurdles it is (now) needlessly putting pregnant women through during their last trimester just to enforce the "scientific" angle.

Birth, I think, is a very poor dividing line given contemporary science

That may be so, but from a privacy standpoint, I think parturition is perfect. I see nothing wrong with just giving pregnant women the benefit of the doubt on this. If there weren't "bona fide" medical reasons for a pregnant woman to terminate the life inside her, I wouldn't have a problem with individual doctors and institutions refusing to perform late-term abortions, since I adhere to the "life begins at thought" moral position.

I think the closest statement of the truth of the matter is that personhood is achieved in a continuous process that is complete at the end of term

Right now the personhood is achieved when the baby pops out, regardless of term.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:51 PM on April 18, 2007


I am pro-choice, but I can easily see people 150 years from now being appalled by abortion.

Good point!

If it were medically possible to effortllessly zap a differentiated blastocyst from a mother and end up with a healthy newborn, in a society with a sufficient number loving adoptive parents, how would our morality change?

(Abortion before cellular differentiation begins doesn't seem that morally different to me than contraception).
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:02 PM on April 18, 2007


Right now the personhood is achieved when the baby pops out, regardless of term.

This is incorrect.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:06 PM on April 18, 2007


Heywood, yeah, I'm not far from RvW. Although—and it's been 15 years since I carefully read the decision—RvW explicitly allows third-trimester abortions. It doesn't see the fetus's personhood at any time trumping a woman's basic right to privacy.

I'm very uncomfortable with with calling such concerns "the scientific angle" as if they were technical and of little importance. I think this is essentially a civil rights issue—unfortunately a civil rights issue with two competing claims—and the distinctions we draw regarding personhood are deeply, deeply important. Specifically, I think the liberal humanist tradition correctly sees personhood as something primarily inherent and rightly is suspicious of socially-contextualized “personhood” as a historically pernicious means of denying it. In my opinion, all varieties of determining personhood on the basis of tradition, such as birth, or (I suspect) outcome-derived notions such as "viability" or "non-parasitism" are contrary to that view and are ultimately dangerous.

This isn't to say that the typical pro-life viewpoint which almost entirely disregards the civil rights of the woman is not also quite dangerous. It is. The answer, to my mind, is to not shy away from these hard questions and realize that here, as is far more often the case than people like to admit, we have an example of human rights in conflict that must be evaluated as rationally and responsibly as possible and then adjudicated in accordance.

“Either way, I intended that question as a jumping off point for a discussion of what makes a being morally considerable. I think I tend to be somewhat restrictive when it comes to making this distinction, and am always interested in this debate.”

I'm not a vegetarian, though I believe that it is the more morally correct lifestyle. Indeed I do recognize limited “personhood” rights of many animals, proportional to our best guess as to their cognitive similarity to ourselves. At present, I believe there is a significant gap between us and those animals nearest to us in these terms. For this reason, I see a distinction between a third-trimester human fetus and most animals. Not, however, such a difference with some of the primates, which I'd advocate something approaching equivalent personhood status to a third-trimester fetus or even a baby.

As you can see, my beliefs on these matters are mostly consistent, thoughtful, and rational. I think it's a mark of how perverse much of the debate is on abortion rights that the views of mine that I've explained in this thread—first-trimester abortion is contraception and should be as available as contraception, third-trimester is a form of killing and should be as regulated as killing, women have a fundamental right to control their own bodies and this is doubly important in the patriarchal context, and animals insofar as they are cognitively similar to humans also have rights—puts me on the outs with every single conceivable group of partisans in the abortion debate. Every group will find something abhorrent in my views. I submit that it is they who are not reasonable, not me.

On Preview: “Abortion before cellular differentiation begins doesn't seem that morally different to me than contraception” Abortion for a long time after cellular differentiation begins doesn't seem that morally different to me than contraception. For a long time there's not a thinking being there in any sense.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:22 PM on April 18, 2007


So many Americans -- including ordinary people, the media, and many lawyers, judges, and Supreme Court justices -- don't seem to understand that the law is not about achieving their definition of utopia, or about revenge and retribution. And something is very wrong when people's interpretation of law focuses on the well-being of hypothetical or potential persons rather than that of living persons, of adult years and full legal personality.
posted by bad grammar at 9:35 PM on April 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


her fundamental liberty for many years are on the line.

I found this claim somewhat outside the debate. If that was the case, the guy could claim also being bound by liberty of supporting the kid. Or that a woman can disown this responsibility by adoption. The 9-months argument I buy (at least until we have technology to grow fetuses in bottles), but not the post birth undue burden.

As for this whole thing with the ruling. . . it does sound like they're more trying to make a symbolic win versus a substantive win. The don't really want a substantive win. I mean, some - especially the base - do, but not those in power. Because after awhile, it would turn the tide of public opinion against them.

As for the question of whether we should even entertain this, yes, we should. It may or may not be anyone's business what happens between a doctor and the patient (or possibly the fetus *shrugs*), but it our business to consider the business. Democracy, or in fact, government itself must be able to at least consider an issue. If it finds the issue outside its purview, so be it, but it would be disturbing to talk about a democratic republic being unable to think about certain things.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:46 PM on April 18, 2007



If it is read and understood, one sees that this opinion doesn't do much. There is no great precedent out of this case; no serious change in the law. In the tired and binary partisan war over this issue, neither side can claim victory.

I would strongly disagree with your characterization of this decision, dios. This decision -- as I understand it -- striked down a procedure for having an abortion. Though there are many (most, even?) surgeons who perform this procedure who claim that the procedure is, in many cases, better for the health of the woman, the Court is saying that because some doctors say that it is not harmful to women that the procedure is not harmful to women. As such, they say that the procedure meets the "protecting the health of the woman" prong that prior abortion-related decisions have stated is a requirement of any statute which is going to restrict a procedure to have abortion.

By doing so, the Court has established a precedent which will allow for any abortion procedure to be banned if some doctors can be rallied to say that there are other existing procedures which are just as safe as the procedure in question. This will limit the various methods of abortion and, as such, limit a woman's right to have an abortion which causes her the least physical harm possible.
posted by flarbuse at 9:52 PM on April 18, 2007


“And something is very wrong when people's interpretation of law focuses on the well-being of hypothetical or potential persons rather than that of living persons, of adult years and full legal personality.”

Yes, it's a tragedy when the law focuses on the well-being of children and the mentally damaged. And on negroes to the detriment of landed, white male citizens. This utilization of the law to produce some attempted utopia of self-reliant negroes living in harmony with whites, and of educating women and their enfranchisement—which we all know is a politically-motivated fantasy—is a great misunderstanding of the role of law in a civilized democracy, such as these great United Nazi States of America. The well-being of true persons, the citizens, the white patriot men who work at the mill or in the boardroom or defend our borders—the well-being of those who are real, those upon whose shoulders our great society rests—these are those whose well-being and needs and rights must be protected at all costs. The traitors who murmur and agitate on behalf of simple and barely conscious creatures who—we all recognize—simply don't matter, are acting against the interests of all citizens and are destroying the fatherland.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:55 PM on April 18, 2007


It's not a tragedy when apples are so blatantly compared to oranges, but it doesn't make for a useful discussion.
posted by holgate at 10:28 PM on April 18, 2007


milarepa writes "PeterMcDermott: It was just that you were frothing on about fundies and catholics, which I found ironic because you sound just like them."

Yeah, I'm all in your genitalia, telling you what you should and shouldn't do with it.

Moron.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:55 PM on April 18, 2007


A fetus is not a person and cannot be murdered. Otherwise you'd better lock up those doctors who destroy fetuses in fetu, and for that matter those who remove parasitic twins. And why stop there? Equal rights for dermoid cysts!
posted by davy at 12:10 AM on April 19, 2007


To quote: "If men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament."
posted by davy at 12:10 AM on April 19, 2007


Hey Bligh, here's hard and fast rule: until it pops through the woman's cervix and appears between her thighs it's a part of her and she can do what she pleases with it. How can anybody support a person's right to pierce her nose and then turn around and deny her an abortion? Either it's her body or it ain't.

I personally disapprove of several things I don't want to see laws against because ultimately it's nobody's business but one's own -- and because I don't want people telling me I'm forbidden to what I think I must with my physical form. Abortion, however, is something I very seldom disapprove of (as my previous comments illustrate).
posted by davy at 12:20 AM on April 19, 2007


I'm not sure that the whole passing through the cervix part is definitive: there is a chunk of time while the baby is in there that it can survive on the outside (though sometimes with difficulty).

And you ask "Why stop there?" There are plenty of reasons, but most of all, because ethics change in different situations. Which, you're probably just playing up the slippery slope, but there is a difference between no quality of life and a diminished quality of life. That's why I'm not a fan of "how far does it deviate from the healthy adult" argument. The infirm, the brain damaged, the terminally ill. . . all have situations where there life might not have as much potential as a healthy adult (then again, maybe so), but it's worth inherently more than just a collection of cells. I'd probably save the four year old as opposed to the test tubes in the scenario, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't be compelled to grab the suitcase if situation was different and a little less 'either/or'. In the end, I don't believe in the black and white categorization of at birth or at conception.

I guess that leads me (and others) to the generally pro-choice zone of "a fetus is something, but weighed against the awesome importance of the mother's life, health, or even her desire to control her body, it might still lose out.' So, it's not just a tapeworm at 30-weeks.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:18 AM on April 19, 2007


A pregnant woman has enough to worry about without including some law dictating to her about her body. Making a political and legal circus of reproduction is imoral.
posted by Goofyy at 4:34 AM on April 19, 2007


Moron.

PeterMcDermott, it's all about name calling with you, isn't it?
posted by milarepa at 6:29 AM on April 19, 2007


Birth, I think, is a very poor dividing line given contemporary science. On the other hand, there clearly are a great number of things that happen between fertilization and birth that are qualitative changes—somehow, spread over that time, a person comes into existence.

I absolutely agree. But I cannot understand how a woman, already born, with thoughts, feelings, and worth, suddenly loses that worth when another person inside her is suddenly viable as a human. Why does the new person trump the older? That is what offends me most about anti-abortion legislation.
posted by agregoli at 7:02 AM on April 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yes, it's a tragedy when the law focuses on the well-being of children and ...

What are you going on about? If you want to call someone a Nazi, you can do it in a sentence. Christ.
posted by chunking express at 7:55 AM on April 19, 2007


Ethereal Bligh: "Simply, I think that most people don't think a fertilized egg is a person and most people believe that a newborn baby is a person. I agree with them. "

That's what I'm asking about. You're declaring that "most people" believe something, and then wrapping the legitimacy of the assumed popularity of that view around your argument.

You just might be wrong about what "most people" think, first of all, and what "most people" think thankfully has little to do with the law.

"Most people" in Kansas believed(might still) that creationism should be taught in science class in public school.


<tangent>
For a long time in this country, we've gotten along well because the smartest people were also somewhat benevolent, and "most people" were OK following their lead. This resulted in better decisions than a pure democracy would have, and was certainly more efficient. Now we're forced to choose between pure democracy and all its attendant hysterical instability and following the leadership of people who are downright malevolent.

Looking at things like this, the future of our political structure seems dim.
</tangent>
posted by Mr. Gunn at 8:11 AM on April 19, 2007


“That's what I'm asking about. You're declaring that ‘most people’ believe something, and then wrapping the legitimacy of the assumed popularity of that view around your argument.

You just might be wrong about what ‘most people’ think, first of all, and what ‘most people’ think thankfully has little to do with the law.”


Really? You might want to rethink that one. You know, in a democracy.

You're being disingenuous. I've mentioned cognitive development and some other things just in case it wasn't completely obvious that the argument is that a fertilized egg isn't anything like a person but a baby is.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:24 AM on April 19, 2007


Really? You might want to rethink that one. You know, in a democracy.

Majority rule isn't a democracy. Most people would call that an Ochlocracy. Most democracies don't let the majority dictate their will on the minority. That's why here in Canada calls to have the gay marriage vote turned into a country wide referendum were knocked down. If we let the majority run wild we end up with situations like Sri Lanka.
posted by chunking express at 11:43 AM on April 19, 2007


"Hereinafter, on the morally and legally thorny question of abortion, the proposed rule should be weighed against the gauzy sensitivities of that iconic literary creature: the Inconstant Female."
posted by homunculus at 1:24 PM on April 19, 2007


You know, in a democracy.

Which is why we live in a Constitutional Representative Democratic Republic, not just any old majority-rules "democracy".
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:25 PM on April 19, 2007


chunking express writes "Majority rule isn't a democracy. Most people would call that an Ochlocracy."

Ochlocracy? Most people? I don't think so.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:30 PM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, others have corrected you on your views about democracy in america, EB, so I'll leave that. The argument about where should the line be drawn and according to what criteria we'll just have to leave for another time, too.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:45 PM on April 19, 2007


All the statistics fit to print.

We're wasting our breath worrying about this.
posted by wierdo at 5:19 PM on April 19, 2007


They didn't “correct” me. The disputation was trivial and not worth responding to. The laws in the US generally reflect majority opinion. The mechanism linking citizens to legislation is indirect, but it exists. There are mechanisms which protect minority interests, but in all cases there are mechanisms which allow a sufficient majority to overrule those protections. To say that “majority opinion has little to do with the law” is wrong in almost every sense. From drafts of legislation to SCOTUS rulings, I can find you numerous references to popular opinion.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:26 PM on April 19, 2007


I'd like to be clear that although I've not read this decision, the analysis of it that I've read leads me to believe it's a very bad decision. It outlaws a type of abortion, not abortion at a certain point in the term, and it includes other reasoning that is clearly pro-life rhetoric.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:52 PM on April 19, 2007


Ah, the shithouse lawyer issues another learned brief.
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:02 PM on April 19, 2007


For a while it was satisfying to simply be quiet and let you make a fool of yourself with your obsessive and disproportionate outbursts against me, adam, but I'm starting to feel a bit guilty for doing so. It's like aiding and abetting. And where long ago your stalking behavior and insults bothered and angered me, as it became clear you were just making yourself look stupid—as was proven when you were slapped around a bit in a metatalk thread for doing this—your obsession with me came to seem more tiresome and sadly pathetic than irksome. There are people I really don't like on MetaFilter and elsewhere, but after awhile I realized that the more I failed to restrain myself from hatefully expressing that dislike, the more ugly I looked to other people and the more likely they, in turn, were to turn on me. I learned both to refrain from attack and to be more generous and forgiving. It would profit you to learn the same lesson.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:42 PM on April 19, 2007


Oh, and another interesting statistic, thanks to the CDC.

The group of women most likely to have a "late" abortion (after 16 weeks)? By far the less than 15 year olds. That also happens to be the age group with the highest abortion ratio at 746 per thousand live births.

Those pubescent sluts!
posted by wierdo at 3:58 AM on April 20, 2007


Why, oh why, Mr. Ethereal Bligh, can you not simply accept that your egregious, Gatling-gun opinionizing on matters all and sundry is, more often than not, noise in the channel?

One of the things I like best about MetaFilter is when a random topic arises in discussion and, as if from out of nowhere, some equally random-seeming member turns out to have significant domain expertise, and comments on the matter at hand with wit and insight. It happens all the time, and it's one of the reasons I still read this site daily despite its manifest toxicity.

One of the things I like worst about MeFi is when thoroughly ignorant people sound off on matters far outside the jurisdiction of their competence. Extra points off if they do so at great length, pedantically, humorlessly, and without reflexivity.

Blessedly, as a percentage of membership, there aren't that many who do this as a routine avocation, but the few who do are a real detriment to the site. You're not actually Den Worste in this regard, because however ignorant your commentary, you at least tend not to deploy it in the abject service of an odious ideology. But it remains the case that you generally don't know what you're talking about.

Even when you've been corrected, though - which, because of the unpredictable but generally strong domain knowledge on the part of members I've alluded to above, happens all the time - I've never once heard you admit you were wrong. And it's this that lies at the heart of my real beef with you.

If you're capable of being honest about it, you'll admit that you wield (the appearance of) knowledge as a weapon. It's simple. You think you're smarter than everybody else, and you wear this on your sleeve. As a consequence, it's ideologically impossible for you to ever admit to being wrong. It's loathesome behavior. You are a bad person. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that you are now or have at some point in your life been a member of Mensa.

So it's not a "disproportionate outburst" to challenge the highly questionable positions you routinely assert as fact, even were I do to so every time you opened your trap. It's not "stalking behavior" when I point out that you very often don't know what you're talking about, no matter how inflated you've allowed yourself to become with self-regard. (That "languagehat and I" line the other day, incidentally, was one of the most repellently pompous things I've ever seen on this or any other site.)

You may not be used to being called on your bullshit, and understandably, you don't like it. But as long as you're posting in the same arena as me, you should get used to it.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:48 AM on April 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Adam, see here. You're not the only one who wishes that the long-winded editorializing in the absence of any special knowledge or experience would cease. However, this is a significant derail so we should just try to set a good example by following our own advice and take it to metachat or email if we can't avoid saying something.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 8:22 AM on April 20, 2007


“I've never once heard you admit you were wrong. And it's this that lies at the heart of my real beef with you.”

Yes, you've made that accusation before. The last time you did I believe that I either quoted myself or mentioned that only days before there was at least one example to prove you wrong. And today, here again, amazingly enough, is yet another example from only five days ago:

“Okay, I'm really glad to be corrected on that. I'm ashamed to know so little about this.”me, on April 16th on MeFi

I'd be curious to see if there's anything approaching such a bald and simple statement admitting error on your part ever in your history at MetaFilter. I have a strong suspicion your hatred of me is a projection of your own faults. At any rate, these Internet feuds are so tawdry and boring. I'll leave you to it, then.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:16 PM on April 20, 2007


I have a strong suspicion your hatred of me is a projection of your own faults.

Not content with "shithouse lawyer," he adds "shithouse psychoanalyst" to his credentials.

Oh, heck, I'm done, Mr. Gunn. Nothing involving Bligh ends well, but on the other hand the thread was most likely done, too. No harm, no foul.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:05 PM on April 20, 2007


New England Journal of Medicine

"It is not that physicians do not want oversight and open discussion of delicate matters but, rather, that we want these discussions to occur among informed and knowledgeable people who are acting in the best interests of a specific patient. Government regulation has no place in this process."
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:55 PM on April 23, 2007


"I needed that now-banned procedure known as 'partial-birth' abortion. Why the Supreme Court's decision to outlaw it was a dark day for American women."
posted by homunculus at 2:02 PM on April 24, 2007


Help get a law on the books called the Freedom of Choice Act that will restore the reproductive rights recognized under the vision expressed in 1973 in Roe v. Wade:

"Step 1:
Join NARAL Pro-Choice America in our National Call-In Day to Support the Freedom of Choice Act
- Wednesday, April 25
- Call 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to both of your senators and your representative
- Use the following script:
“Please cosponsor the Freedom of Choice Act (H.R.1964/S.1173) to codify Roe v. Wade and guarantee the right to choose for future generations of women.”
- Click on the link below to find out what other organizations are participating.
. . . FOCA will secure the right to choose by establishing a federal law that will guarantee reproductive freedom for future generations of American women. This guarantee will protect women’s rights even if President Bush and his allies are successful in reversing Roe v. Wade or imposing even more restrictions on our right to choose."
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:28 PM on April 24, 2007


New Justices, New Rules: FindLaw columnist Joanna Grossman and FindLaw guest columnist Linda McClain, both Hofstra law professors, analyze the Supreme Court's recent ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart, in which the Court upheld the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act (PBABA). Grossman and McClain explain the evolution of abortion law on the Court, up to and through this recent and important decision. In addition, they explain why -- due to the replacement of Justice O'Connor with Justice Alito -- the Court reached a result, in this case, directly opposite to the result it reached in 2000 when considering Nebraska's ban on "partial birth abortion."
posted by homunculus at 7:37 PM on May 3, 2007


How the Supreme Court's Validation of the Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act Affects Women's Constitutional Liberty and Equality: Part Two in a Two-Part Series
posted by homunculus at 8:29 PM on May 8, 2007


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