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Before Roe vs. Wade.
June 6, 2008 9:46 PM   Subscribe

"There are few physicians today who can relate to the 'bad old days' before Roe vs. Wade. I can." A doctor who has seen the days before abortion was legalized relates his experiences and reminds us why abortion must remain safe and legal.
posted by kldickson (190 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was gonna say something. But then I realized this topic is best left up to the red and blue states.
posted by localhuman at 9:54 PM on June 6, 2008


That was extremely painful to read, in places. But thanks for posting it.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:01 PM on June 6, 2008


Thank you for posting that.
posted by fshgrl at 10:02 PM on June 6, 2008


An excellent perspective.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:05 PM on June 6, 2008


It is important to remember that Roe v. Wade did not mean that abortions could be performed. They have always been done, dating from ancient Greek days.

What Roe said was that ending a pregnancy could be carried out by medical personnel, in a medically accepted setting, thus conferring on women, finally, the full rights of first-class citizens — and freeing their doctors to treat them as such.


Amen.
posted by scody at 10:08 PM on June 6, 2008 [19 favorites]


This is hard to read, and important to read. Thanks for bringing it here.
posted by librarina at 10:16 PM on June 6, 2008


Arguing from exigency isn't exactly responsive when the underlying objection is moral, not practical, though, is it?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:20 PM on June 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm fascinated that he mentions coat hangers. At one point I looked for stories/references about coat hangers being used for abortions and, oddly, couldn't find anything at all. Not that absence of evidence is evidence of absence, but it seemed strange given what a prominent symbol they are. I'm in no way glad that women have had to resort to coathanger abortions, but I'm glad that it's not an empty, alarmist symbol being used.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:24 PM on June 6, 2008


MPDSEA - The second you allow the argument to be conducted on "moral", rather than practical grounds, you have lost it.

Since most social conservatives don't seem to have anything akin to a rational basis from which they define their morality, it can't really be argued against.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:26 PM on June 6, 2008 [17 favorites]


Roe v. Wade Awakening
posted by homunculus at 10:27 PM on June 6, 2008


The Pro Teen Sex and Unwanted Pregnancy Movement
posted by homunculus at 10:28 PM on June 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


MPDSEA - The second you allow the argument to be conducted on "moral", rather than practical grounds, you have lost it.

I don't personally have any morals at all. If it proves convenient to kill fetuses, infants, children, adults, etc.--well, I just don't care.

I gather that some people feel differently though, even some people who support abortion rights. I don't think dismissing moral concerns is really going to work.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:40 PM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


change of heart
posted by five fresh fish at 10:42 PM on June 6, 2008


I don't personally have any morals at all. If it proves convenient to kill fetuses, infants, children, adults, etc.--well, I just don't care.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:40 PM on June 6


That's great; I guess you can go find a different thread to not care in now.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:53 PM on June 6, 2008 [31 favorites]


the only moral abortion is my abortion
"I've had several cases over the years in which the anti-abortion patient had rationalized in one way or another that her case was the only exception, but the one that really made an impression was the college senior who was the president of her campus Right-to-Life organization, meaning that she had worked very hard in that organization for several years. As I was completing her procedure, I asked what she planned to do about her high office in the RTL organization. Her response was a wide-eyed, 'You're not going to tell them, are you!?' When assured that I was not, she breathed a sigh of relief, explaining how important that position was to her and how she wouldn't want this to interfere with it." (Physician, Texas)
Some women faced with the reality of choosing to terminate rather than carry go back out into the protest lines. Some learn from the experience, and recognize that the right to choose for oneself is ultimately the most important freedom one can have.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:57 PM on June 6, 2008 [16 favorites]


I completely agree with both Dr. Fielding and 'Dr. Steve Elvis America, which makes my head hurt.
posted by Falconetti at 11:02 PM on June 6, 2008


I guess you can go find a different thread to not care in now.

Fat chance.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:03 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think that many illegal abortionists were, as the article says, "probably uncaring". Maybe I'm being too influenced by the film Vera Drake, but illegal abortionists did risk their own freedom to perform these abortions. How many were simply trying to help the women as best they could?
posted by jb at 11:09 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Legislating morality that is not practical is dogmatism & theocracy.

The "morality" argument goes straight to birth-control, ie. Griswold.

While I respect those among us who believe (both) birth control and abortion are moral wrongs, they are not making a practical argument, at least not until they get into Roe territory, which attempted to define the interface between a woman's right to control her body and the state's interest & power to prevent infanticide (or anything that has the look of it).
posted by tachikaze at 11:11 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't personally have any morals at all. If it proves convenient to kill fetuses, infants, children, adults, etc.--well, I just don't care.

That is so sexy. Oh, man. Somebody go fetch me a second blouse; I've just torn off the one I was wearing. If only you were over 18...!!1!?!
posted by katillathehun at 11:13 PM on June 6, 2008 [24 favorites]


"I don't personally have any morals at all."

lol

Behold! First-year philosophy student strikes again!
posted by Avenger at 11:18 PM on June 6, 2008 [14 favorites]


That's great; I guess you can go find a different thread to not care in now.

I don't think it was actually about not caring. I think it was about making the point that "The second you allow the argument to be conducted on "moral", rather than practical grounds, you have lost it." is a stupid thing to say. At least I hope it was.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 11:18 PM on June 6, 2008


"The second you allow the argument to be conducted on 'moral', rather than practical grounds, you have lost it."

The second you have to put "morality" in quotes, a kitten dies and an angel loses its wings.

I'm more than a little pissed off at the bit that FiveFreshFish pointed out above. It's precisely this kind of hypocrisy that perpetuates impractical morality. Cheney going around telling people homosexuality is wrong when his own daughter is one and oh he just doesn't talk about that. THAT'S DIFFERENT! No it's not. On occasion an anti-gay politician is later discovered to actually be gay. They voted legislation against others practicing their sexual freedoms - oh but it's different - NO IT'S NOT.

She rationalized abortion for herself, then turns around and goes back out there to those anti-abortion rallies and she chastises doctors for giving other women a safe environment within which to make that decision. I hope her head falls off.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:22 PM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don't personally have any morals at all. If it proves convenient to kill fetuses, infants, children, adults, etc.--well, I just don't care.

In other words, "I am a complete asshole". I actually don't believe you are, but yes, you sure do play the part well (and gratuitously).

But getting back to the thread:

Arguing from exigency isn't exactly responsive when the underlying objection is moral, not practical, though, is it?

Women so desperate that they mutilate themselves. Trying to prevent that. What about this isn't a moral issue?
posted by flotson at 11:24 PM on June 6, 2008


It is not practical to have a society in which the wanton killing of adults and/or children is permitted. It does need to be considered a real moral issue: it can be argued solely on the practicality.

To go from the discussion of abortion rights to a declaration regarding the right to kill adults is a stupid non-sequitur.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:26 PM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Swift Boat Vets PR Firm Now Pushing Abstinence-Only Education Campaign
posted by homunculus at 11:26 PM on June 6, 2008


Arguing from exigency isn't exactly responsive when the underlying objection is moral, not practical, though, is it?

Pregnancy and childbirth are leading causes of death in teenage girls in developing countries

I'd say it's a practical problem for these girls, wouldn't you?
posted by fshgrl at 11:27 PM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I mean really! COME ON! WHY IS THIS STILL EVEN AN ARGUMENT?

The moral argument is bunk. God doesn't give a shit if you abort your child. Said child is not a miracle. It's a biochemical reaction under the right conditions, and a thousand things can go wrong naturally that He doesn't care about. If you don't want this gift of life that God or fate or whatever you believe in has granted you, that's your CHOICE.

It's not that CHOICE is something that can be argued as existing or not existing. CHOICE is there. It is much easier to prove the existence of CHOICE than it is to prove the existence of your GOD, whichever one you personally choose to believe is the only one.

Anything that tries to take away your choice (be that a choice to believe in your god, or not, or a choice to remove your own liver from yourself using a spoon cuz it'll hurt more, or not, or a hundred thousand million quadrillion other choices, or not) is a force against the natural order of the universe. I see no difference between a despotic tyrannical leader and an anti-abortion organization, aside perhaps the fact that the tyrant's a bit more honest about what he wants to do to you.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:30 PM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Chill, dude. No need to go all shouty on us. Things have been cool, so stay cool.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:34 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Morality" is hardly exclusive to those who consider abortion an unnecessary evil. The point of the linked article is to bring home the grisly repercussions of legislation that restricts medically safe, hygienic abortions to the point where only wealth and social power enabled a woman to be able, clandestinely, to get one.

That "change of heart" link is great, fff:

"We valorize "choice;" but Dr. Gilliam says that such language doesn't resonate with those who see themselves in communities -- part of a church, school, neighborhood, or family."

Reminds me of Norma McCorvey, the real "Roe", and her eventual decision to recant pro-choice beliefs. I got the distinct impression (from reading several articles, not this one particularly) that she converted because church members managed to connect with her on a personal level and offered her a sense of a solidly structured and deeply-rooted community, a sense that she hadn't gotten from the various individuals she'd come to know through her years of doing pro-choice work. Emotion is what drives the decisions of many, many people. Not logic.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:48 PM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


A sense of community plus the fact that she never actually had an abortion done, I forgot to add. She gave birth to a daughter.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:53 PM on June 6, 2008


> The second you have to put "morality" in quotes, a kitten dies and an angel loses its wings.

The reason I put the word 'moral' in quotes was because I was referring to a very specific morality, not all moral systems or even morality generally. I'm talking about the "morality" espoused by anti-choice, pro-forced-pregnancy social conservatives. The second you start to let the discussion be framed in terms of their morality -- which is based on a very particular (and I'd argue, warped) interpretation of Christian theology -- you've effectively ceded the abortion debate.

Maybe we're agreeing with each other in a way; I suppose that you really lose when you let asecularists lay claim to 'morality' as a concept in the public sphere. However much I'd agree with that, I think that ship has sailed. There's no point in trying to argue morality with someone who's going to whip out religion, since it's pretty much a trump card. You just end up arguing against religion generally, and I've never found that to be particularly productive, no matter how satisfying it may be in the short term.

I'd rather argue based on practicalities; at least there, there's hope for a certain amount of progress. I don't really care whether other people think my lifestyle or choices (or anybody else's) is moral or not. I just don't want them to make it illegal. The easiest means to that end is to try to separate moral concerns from practical ones, and establish the latter as the legitimate basis for policy decisions, since we obviously will never be able to agree on the former.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:57 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


This blastocyst thread will wendell...
posted by joe lisboa at 12:25 AM on June 7, 2008


The moral argument is bunk. God doesn't give a shit if you abort your child. Said child is not a miracle. It's a biochemical reaction under the right conditions,

I don't fear legal abortion, but I definitely fear the reductionism here, amongst other moral hazards. There are a lot of things that are pretty important -- perhaps *all* of the things that human beings find important -- that could be described as "biochemical reactions under the right conditions," some of which might even be worth protecting under the law, however impossibly blunt an instrument it may be for shaping what people value.

Abortion doesn't have to be either an inviolable taboo and or as morally simple as blowing your nose, and there's a broad space where one can consider life a blessing as well as biochemistry.
posted by weston at 12:43 AM on June 7, 2008 [7 favorites]


I appreciate this link, though it hurts to read.
posted by riane at 12:56 AM on June 7, 2008


...the reasons that a woman has to get an abortion are her own, and determining their “validity” is as difficult to ascertain as determining when life begins. Warning: graphic text.
posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 1:49 AM on June 7, 2008


"... [A] misfortune could bring misery. The way out of the misery could bring tragedy. Women took that way out because the alternatives were impossible. Today people need to be reminded that the choice is not between legal abortion and the supposedly edifying effects of bringing up an unwanted child. The choice is between legal abortion and illegal abortion. To know something of what an illegal abortion was like, you didn't need to have seen a girl's corpse after an unsuccessful operation. All you needed to have seen was a girl's face on the a way to a successful one."
Clive James, Falling Towards England
posted by Grangousier at 2:56 AM on June 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


That was a great (albeit painful) read.
posted by liquorice at 3:37 AM on June 7, 2008


Good article, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the overall level of the discussion. I am involved with the local Planned Parenthood, and many of the older nurses and physicians who work/worked there are motivated by just such experiences. I worry that as the generation who remembers illegal abortions retires, those who replace them will not be nearly as motivated to stand up to the protesters and assassins of the right to life movement.

The Choices We Made is a well-known book detailing the experience of illegal abortion from the womans perspective; it includes such harrowing tales as Margot Kidder's Lysol abortion; that experience left her sterile.
posted by TedW at 3:43 AM on June 7, 2008


A good reminder that if abortion is illegal demand for it does not magically vanish, it just happens illegally, with (obviously) much greater risk for women who need it. Thanks for the link (yes, I read it hiding behind my hands sometimes. No, that doesn't make any more sense written down).
posted by eponymouse at 4:31 AM on June 7, 2008


and there's a broad space where one can consider life a blessing as well as biochemistry.

And what unites us should be our commitment to that shared space. But instead each side is engaged in battle to destroy the other - because everyone MUST CONFORM TO ONE WAY OF THINKING - and the cage match continues.
posted by three blind mice at 4:43 AM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is a really powerful article, and a really shitty thread. Thanks for point us to it, kldickson, but I sure hope this thread gets deleted or seriously cleaned up.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:14 AM on June 7, 2008


God doesn't give a shit if you abort your child

That statement is categorically false.
posted by konolia at 6:17 AM on June 7, 2008


As an atheist I agree with konolia
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:40 AM on June 7, 2008 [12 favorites]


A nonexistent supernatural being doesn't give a shit if you abort your child.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:41 AM on June 7, 2008


I hope those feminists who are supporting Clinton and not yet supporting Obama will consider that a President McCain would very probably appoint a Supreme Court judge who would very probably cast the deciding vote to overturn Roe v Wade. In the weeks to come I hope they will realise that is more important than their wounded pride.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:47 AM on June 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


If Roe is overturned in the near-future (next 10-20 years), and it certainly could be with one or two new Court appointments, I suspect we'll be treated to two parallel scenarios. One will be safe abortion services readily available to anyone with the means to pay and transport themselves in Mexico and Canada, thus ensuring that anyone with the likely socioeconomic means to possibly raise a child reasonably well is likely not to. The second, of course, will be a flood of perinatal disasters delivered emergently on the perineum in gas station bathrooms, ER waiting rooms, and middle schools from women with no access to medical care or who simply deny their situation until they're fully dilated and pushing (more common then you'd think). Social Service agencies, infant ICU's will be overwhelmed. That, in addition to the resurgence of some pretty impressive gynecologic Grand Guignol and we can all rest easier knowing God approves of our new paradigm.
posted by docpops at 6:55 AM on June 7, 2008


Thank you. Makes me appreciate the era into which I was born.

I expect many of the women who resorted to illegal abortions took the chance of losing their lives - or at least their fertility - because their life would be "ruined" (mom and dad would kick her out, she'd be seen as a tramp, she couldn't afford a child, the husband was abusive, etc.) if she bore a child.

For additional viewing, seconding Vera Drake; also If These Walls Could Talk and Citizen Ruth. I think sometimes of the chapter from Freakonomics that explored Roe v Wade - and don't know how I feel about that.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 7:06 AM on June 7, 2008


Forgive this foreigner but I was under the understanding that Roe v Wade struck down abortion laws under the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment. Wouldn't a law against abortion also violate the establishment clause of the first amendment?

It seems to me like any law prohibiting abortion would fail all three prongs of the lemon test from the word go.
posted by Talez at 7:12 AM on June 7, 2008


The next president will likely replace several Supreme Court justices, and all of the liberal justices are over retirement age. Roberts is 53. Alito is 58. Thomas is 59. Souter is 68. Breyer is 69. Kennedy is 71. Scalia is 72. Ginsburg is 75. Stevens is 88.

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 7:21 AM on June 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


Wouldn't a law against abortion also violate the establishment clause of the first amendment?

I would argue against you but I don't really know what your argument is. Is anything that any religion disapproves of now to be legalized?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:22 AM on June 7, 2008


I don't think dismissing moral concerns is really going to work.

I prefer not to dismiss them. The moral issues surrounding the abortion debate are whether welfare should be promised to any child before the fact, and whether mothers should be allowed to have children if they take drugs while pregnant. Morally, the answer is YES to the first, BUT only if abortion is also offered, because we cannot morally demand unwanted children without raising them ourselves, within the scope of personal agreements. Regarding the second point, it is immoral to worship fetuses just because we imagine that they are a pure blank slates, free of sins or influences. This belief is not only a form of idolatry that automatically condemns the living, but is proven blatantly false with drugs on fetuses (not to mention genetics and family traditions themselves).

It's a lost battle for hypocrites who secretly hate so-called illegitimate children, because they cannot bring themselves to financially support their own will. Since the founders made no constitutional comment on the common practice of abortion, it remains a natural right despite a popular desire to use babies as curses on sinners. The so-called "pro-lifers" are just expressing a form of cognitive dissonance, because the living world is suffering from overpopulation, and what better way to deny it than to constantly obsess over denying abortion rights to others.
posted by Brian B. at 7:30 AM on June 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


If Roe is overturned in the near-future (next 10-20 years)... transport themselves in Mexico and Canada.

Please please please do some research into the actual decision, perhaps read the US Constitution, before your speak. 'Overturning Roe v. Wade' would simply place decisions about the legality of the procedure in the hands of the states. New York legalized abortion three years before Roe v. Wade. Here is a simple article outlining the likely results of a Supreme Court decision 'overturning' abortion as a fundamental right enforceable by the federal courts against the states.

It seems to me like any law prohibiting abortion would fail all three prongs of the lemon test from the word go.

No. There is an obvious secular purpose in saving the lives of potential citizens, and even Roe admits this. Unless you think, as Mr. Steve, Idiot President does above, that any moral claim is necessarily the result of religious engagement, we can quite easily equate laws that take the view that fetuses are citizens with laws that take the view that drug trafficking is dangerous, gambling detrimental to society, or prostitution harmful to those who engage in it. On this view, an abortion is a battery, whereby one citizen attacks another [potential] citizen.

I don't agree with this view in any way: I am pro-choice for many reasons, and some of them are listed in this article. But please please please don't make such uninformed claims about the law with such an air of authority. It makes our side look bad.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:36 AM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


My best friend has worked at two womens' clinics where abortions were performed (along with prescribing birth control and other OB/GYN procedures). She was the director of one clinic. One of her duties was to counsel women wanting an abortion, so that they have 24 hours to decide if they really want to do this (what other medical procedure requires a 24-hour waiting period?).

She often had stories of women who proclaimed that abortion was wrong, it shouldn't be legal, but it doesn't apply to them in this situation because [insert circumstance here].

She had to deal with protesters daily. They harassed her as she went in and out of the building. They held up a poster the size of a sheet of plywood showing the graphic, bloody remains of a late-term fetus, and proclaimed "This is what they're doing in there!", despite the fact that abortions past 20 weeks weren't performed at that clinic (that might be a state law, I'm not sure, but 20 weeks was their limit).

One point she brought up: contraception isn't 100% effective. If the contraceptive method you're using is statistically 98% effective, that means that if you have sex 99 times, you're statistically likely to conceive. You're likely to conceive even though you're taking precaution not to. You're likely to have an unwanted pregnancy, just from having sex. To make abortion illegal would serve only to punish women for having sex.

An entirely new post needs to be made about the effects of an unwanted pregnancy on women of different classes. Rich women can walk into a clinic, take medication to end a pregnancy, and go on with their lives. Poor women may have to beg and borrow to come up with the necessary funding, and by that time it may be too late for a medical abortion (meaning they'll need a surgical abortion, which is more expensive).
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:55 AM on June 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


See also Sallie Tisdale's essay We Do Abortions Here.

I find it immoral to spend money on war instead of healthcare. I find it immoral to lay waste to another country for oil. To spend American and Iraqi lives so casually. I believe abortion should be safe, legal and affordable. It's already become very expensive and, therefore, is no longer a choice for many women with unplanned/unwanted pregnancies.

My belief is based on seeing what happen to women forced to have an unwanted child, either too soon in life, or in circumstances too difficult. I don't think anybody should be forced to bear a child with serious disabilities, especially in a wealthy nation where the care for that child may beggar the family, where there is so little help and support for individuals with disabilities it's appalling.

The thing I respect most about some of the conscience-driven opponents of choice, is when they provide material and emotional support to women with unplanned/unwanted pregnancies. Being "pro-life" and bombing clinics and threatening doctors is tragically hypocritical.

I'm aware that my belief in choice is expedient. It would be pleasant if there was no need for abortion. I believe that the need for abortion trumps the sadness of stopping the beating heart of a fetus. I think abortion should be unavailable after @ 5 months, except to preserve the life & health of the woman bearing it.

MeFi has never done abortion well as a discussion topic. I believe it would be really meaningful if we could change that.
posted by theora55 at 7:56 AM on June 7, 2008


But please please please don't make such uninformed claims about the law with such an air of authority. It makes our side look bad.

Fair enough. But I did disclaim I was an unwashed foreigner.

If it helps you over here in Western Australia we've had 20 week abortion by request on the books for 10 years without the wanton destruction of society.
posted by Talez at 8:07 AM on June 7, 2008


It seems to me like any law prohibiting abortion would fail all three prongs of the lemon test from the word go.

It seems to me not so, and with no need to reference other problematic legal issues like drugs and gambling as anotherpanacea does to try to go for society's interest in potential citizens (and really, our society's best interests run towards fewer citizens.) Simply, with religion having nothing to do with it, the law is to protect every human life. To go to extreme ends of the scale, no one would argue that the law should protect gametes as human life, while everyone would argue that the law should protect me or you as human life. In between, there's some threshold that needs to be crossed, and where does it go? I don't think the fact that it's religion pushing for a distortion of this threshold would cause first amendment issues.

One point she brought up: contraception isn't 100% effective. If the contraceptive method you're using is statistically 98% effective, that means that if you have sex 99 times, you're statistically likely to conceive.


This is not how the statistics for contraception are commonly given. Generally, a figure like 99% effectiveness refers to the effectiveness over one year's sex life for some average couple.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:16 AM on June 7, 2008


One point she brought up: contraception isn't 100% effective. If the contraceptive method you're using is statistically 98% effective, that means that if you have sex 99 times, you're statistically likely to conceive

I'm pretty sure this isn't true.
posted by Bizurke at 8:21 AM on June 7, 2008


Are abortion services in Canada gratis, or user-pay?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:24 AM on June 7, 2008


konolia responds to "God doesn't give a shit if you abort your child" with "That statement is categorically false."

Can you show me anywhere where Odin is against abortion, even from a theoretical point of view? I haven't seen anyone be able to make that argument.

spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints writes "(what other medical procedure requires a 24-hour waiting period?)"

Practically all invasive elective procedures have a waiting period because of scheduling demands. Abortion is actually fairly unique in that where not required by law that there be a delay it is often while you wait.
posted by Mitheral at 8:27 AM on June 7, 2008


five fresh fish writes "Are abortion services in Canada gratis, or user-pay?"

The Health Act requires abortion be funded though Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are currently not in compliance and no one is providing abortion services in P.E.I.
posted by Mitheral at 8:32 AM on June 7, 2008


Where Does God Stand on Abortion?

Apparently thusly:
  • Catholics: the Pope says No.
  • Protestants: s'alright.
  • Jews: s'alright.
  • Muslims: s'alright.
  • Buddhists: wishy-washy.
  • Hindus: s'alright.
  • Amerindians: s'alright.
  • Taoists: s'alright.
  • Confucianists: s'alright.

    Looks like seven out of eight gods approve of abortions, and one hasn't made up its mind.

  • posted by five fresh fish at 8:38 AM on June 7, 2008 [17 favorites]


    I appreciate it whenever reasonable people with multiple perspectives try to navigate a discussion on this topic. Is anyone anywhere tracking data on women who terminate their pregnancies, their socio-economic backgrounds, and the reasons they made that choice? If, somehow, this incredibly sensitive data exists- I would really like to study it.
    posted by mistsandrain at 8:38 AM on June 7, 2008


    Just want to say: for a discussion of abortion, on the internet, this thread is conducting itself pretty well. Props, MeFi.
    posted by everichon at 8:38 AM on June 7, 2008


    Yay, Canada! Once again doing the more-right thing for our citizens.
    posted by five fresh fish at 8:41 AM on June 7, 2008


    So, I'm in medical school now, and about a month ago we had our "Reproduction" block for the pre-clinical education part of the curriculum. During the month-long block, we had about 3 hours of lecture (a lot for one topic at my school!) on abortion.

    Generally the lectures at my school are excellent. The teachers are pretty much always experts in their field who are teaching their very specific specialty or subset of medicine which they have spent their life studying, practicing, and researching. These abortion lectures were no different. The two doctors who spilt the lecture time between them have been very involved in abortion education, pro-choice movements, and in consulting large and influential physician and medical student professional organizations on abortion practice and policy. Needless to say, the lecturers had significant bona fides, and I was looking forward to an informative and thought-provoking set of lectures.

    Unfortunately, I was less than thrilled with what followed.

    To start, both spent the first half of their lectures spelling out with slide after slide in excruciating detail all of the epidemiological data about abortion in the United States and the world. Please understand, I know this information is important to get out there, but the lecturers' dogged insistence to keep throwing the data at us for so long had the ring of trying too hard to 'convince' us. I go to a fairly progressive medical school in an east coast city, so for the vast majority of the class they were preaching to the choir, anyway. Most of our lectures have an epidemiology component, but that part normally only takes up about 10% of a lecture, not 50. In addition, the two lecturers, who presented their classes back-to-back, repeated the same information and studies much more often than is typical in my classes.

    What I thought was particularly interesting was how often the two of them focused on the data point that having a first-term abortion, when done safely by a medical professional, carries statistically about 1/10th the risk of carrying a fetus to term. I found this statistic a little misleading, however, as it tends to equate abortion, which is an elective, often surgical, procedure with the process of carrying and giving birth to a child, which is a very different thing. Although I agree that there are rarely things in biology, medicine, and life like pregnancy/abortion that follow such a binary route, but to compare the risks and complications of something that happens over the course of a few hours to something that happens over the course of nine months is kind of playing games with statistics, in my opinion.

    Afterward their extensive epidemiological 'arguments', both lecturers began to discuss the actual procedures of abortion, from medical (i.e. pharmaceutical) means to the various forms of extraction of the fetus and placenta. But even this part of the lecture was flawed, as both physicians used circumlocutions in their speech to talk about the procedure. From conflating a vacuum aspiration (...it is what is sounds like) to a "medical, not surgical" procedure since anesthesia is not used (which is a pretty semantic, splitting hairs definition) to renaming the fetus and placenta as a "conceptus." I imagine the intention behind this is to take out the loaded words 'fetus' and 'placenta' from the description of abortion. The problem is, however, that 'fetus' and 'placenta' are completely acceptable, commonly used terms in medicine, so re-branding the words as "conceptus" when talking about abortion seems as rhetorically dishonest as a pro-life protester yelling about the fetus as "your child" or "your baby" as a woman walks into an abortion clinic.

    Nonetheless, I am still very much pro-choice, and I do believe women should have the right to have safe, legal abortions without state, federal, or local governments intervening in the decision making process. What I find annoying is how so many pro-choice advocates, like my lecturers that day, try to trivialize the topic of abortion. I presume a lot of this is an attempt to shift the argument away from the moralistic hand-wringings of the Christian Right and deny them that high ground by making abortion nothing more than any other medical procedure and the process of conception and pregnancy as nothing more than "a biochemical reaction under the right conditions," as ZachsMind so succinctly puts it further up-thread. As a student of science and medicine, I am aware of the seduction that reductionism has when contemplating the world, the beginnings of life, and the rare but extremely crucial points in our short lives when we must face the undeniable truths of our own biology. And yet, I feel like if we rest all of our thoughts and opinions on the inevitabilities of chemical reactions and the strangeness of a quark, we lose out on a lot of human experience that cannot exactly be explained in scientific, rational thought.

    I guess what I'm trying to say in this long, rambling recount of those lectures is that it is important to think about abortion, conception, pregnancy, and its intersections with human life - and I think that sometimes the way it is approached by certain pro-choice people can be counterproductive to the cause. I hope that abortions remain legal and that soon in our future we have another "swing of the pendulum" to fix all of the inequities and injustices that have been done to the female population. Because it is ultimately woman who have to bear the brunt of this decision, no matter how 'supportive' you as the father are; and abortion is not the only issue in society where women are dealt a pretty shitty hand, its just one of the most contentious and visible.
    posted by i less than three nsima at 8:46 AM on June 7, 2008 [9 favorites]


    konolia, you're one of the few (only?) dissenting opinions here, so I'd like to ask you for your opinion after looking at this article which I linked in another thread. To some degree you can say "God's plan," but how do you reconcile objections to (at least early-term) abortions with the idea that, given that "God's plan" destroys more embryos than it saves, God doesn't seem to place a high value on embryos.
    posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:51 AM on June 7, 2008


    One will be safe abortion services readily available to anyone with the means to pay and transport themselves in Mexico and Canada, thus ensuring that anyone with the likely socioeconomic means to possibly raise a child reasonably well is likely not to.

    With the caveat that in Mexico abortion is illegal, except in Mexico City's federal district, where it was legalized in 2007 (up to the first 12 weeks, mind). There's also an exception made nationwide for women who are pregnant as a result of rape, who have the on-paper right to a safe, legal abortion. In reality however they may have difficulties claiming this right due to obstructive officials.
    posted by eponymouse at 9:05 AM on June 7, 2008


    TOCT: God's ways are ineffable. The point is that God makes the decision as to whether the fetus makes it to term, not you. There is no contradiction to reconcile. You make the mistake of thinking your will is equal to God's.

    This is also why some religionists feel contraception is anti-God: fertilization is something that God causes to happen: human interference with God's plan is wrong, because it defies God's will.

    Naturally, this only applies to those who (a) believe in Gods and (b) more specifically, believe in one of the few Gods that is anti-abortion (vis a vis the list I provided above).

    Where there are contradictions to be resolved in this is in examining the decisions religionists makes nearly every day, in which God's plan is thwarted by human interference. Do we take Gramma to the hospital? Maybe God wants her dead, and life-saving measures would defy him. Do we use NFP? Maybe God wants us to fuck like bunnies during ovulation, and refraining would defy him. Do we send aid to Africa? Maybe God wants those refugees dead — after all, He put them there. And so on. yes, these become progressively weaker examples. I'm lazy.

    It seems the only people who fully submit to God's will are the ones who claim Insha Allah: it is God's will, and I shall do nothing to thwart it.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:07 AM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


    The opposing statements "God doesn't care if you get an abortion" and "God does care if you get an abortion" are both equally meaningful, or meaningless, depending on your approach.

    Either is akin to saying that the colour blue has a vested interest in a medical procedure, I think.
    posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:09 AM on June 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


    Can you show me anywhere where Odin is against abortion...

    Can you show me anyone here who counts themselves one of Odin's faithful?

    Both the original statement and Konolia's response were clearly referring to some version of the Judeo-Christian god. You know, of biblical fame. I don't see how your response helps the discussion in any way.
    posted by voltairemodern at 9:10 AM on June 7, 2008


    human interference with God's plan is wrong, because it defies God's will.

    Tell me again how it is even possible to do this? Does God just make the most of the options we humans leave Him with after we defy him, re-routing His will? That would make Him far less omnipotent than most people imagine.

    If I could defy God's will by having an abortion, could I also defy His will by refusing to go to hell for it?
    posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 9:27 AM on June 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


    voltairemodern writes "Both the original statement and Konolia's response were clearly referring to some version of the Judeo-Christian god. You know, of biblical fame. I don't see how your response helps the discussion in any way."

    By pointing out that whoever's God isn't The God. It pisses me off that some people apparently assume that their god is the only god and therefor can speak with authority on what God wants. The assumption that those statements mean the Judeo-Christian god is dismissive to anyone who hold beliefs in a different God, and isn't even true for all of the broad varieties of Judeo-Christian.

    The Christians can't get their act together on a consistent belief set form the same source materials. Homosexuality, birth control, marriage, abortion, sacraments, calendar, priest qualifications and dozens of other key beliefs all have conflicts between the different sects of Judeo-Christianity let alone other religions. How the heck should the statement that God believes that one shouldn't abort even have a place in reasoned discussion?
    posted by Mitheral at 9:36 AM on June 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


    But instead each side is engaged in battle to destroy the other - because everyone MUST CONFORM TO ONE WAY OF THINKING - and the cage match continues.

    Actually, I think all one of the sides wants is to be left the fuck along. The only reason there is a cage match is because the other side is batshit insane and thinks they have been chosen by their moon god to interfere with other's lives as much as possible.
    posted by c13 at 10:14 AM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


    I hope those feminists who are supporting Clinton and not yet supporting Obama will consider that a President McCain would very probably appoint a Supreme Court judge who would very probably cast the deciding vote to overturn Roe v Wade. In the weeks to come I hope they will realise that is more important than their wounded pride.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:47 AM on June 7 [1 favorite +] [!]

    There's not a woman I know who supported Clinton who will NOT support Obama. Annoyed, disappointed, yes. Pissed off about the outrageously sexist coverage from some corners, yes. But stupid? No fucking way.
    posted by etaoin at 10:24 AM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


    What I find annoying is how so many pro-choice advocates, like my lecturers that day, try to trivialize the topic of abortion.

    There's nothing trivial about forcing unfit parents to have kids for "moral" reasons they personally don't accept. It derives from the same part of the male ego that forces women to submit sexually, which is why pro-life hysteria is often expressed in violence from meat lovers who worship capital punishment. Not coincidentally, forcing so-called illegitimate births often has the effect of forcing women into prostitution to pay for them.

    If a mother doesn't want a child, that's all we need to know unless someone is willing to buy her out, and men can stop fooling themselves into thinking they won't ditch their pregnant girlfriends without laws forcing them to pay for the child. If civilization has any grounding at all it is to give parents the choice to have children. If civilization wants to improve, it must encourage only the best parents to have children.
    posted by Brian B. at 10:27 AM on June 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


    There's not a woman I know who supported Clinton who will NOT support Obama. Annoyed, disappointed, yes. Pissed off about the outrageously sexist coverage from some corners, yes. But stupid? No fucking way.

    CNN just reported that a poll they did indicates that 17% of Clinton supporters will vote McCain, and 22% won't vote at all now. WTF????
    posted by tristeza at 10:28 AM on June 7, 2008


    It has never been more important for every good American to rally his friends and neighbours toward voting.
    posted by five fresh fish at 10:31 AM on June 7, 2008


    CNN just reported that a poll they did indicates that 17% of Clinton supporters will vote McCain, and 22% won't vote at all now. WTF????

    Just look at Arkansas. It was ready to vote Democrat by a wide margin for Hillary, and now McCain by a wide margin. Arkansas was irrevocably lost in the Obama nomination. Many conservative women in swing states were ready to cross the line for her. Women represent more than 50% of the vote. Obama doesn't command that kind of swing demographic.
    posted by Brian B. at 10:45 AM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Can you show me anyone here who counts themselves one of Odin's faithful?

    Hell yeah! I've even got the watch.
    posted by adamdschneider at 10:59 AM on June 7, 2008


    CNN just reported that a poll they did indicates that 17% of Clinton supporters will vote McCain, and 22% won't vote at all now. WTF????

    The poll was taken the night Obama clinched, and has a margin of error of 7.5 -- I think it's much more a snapshot of the I'M TAKING MY BALL AND GOING HOME ALSO YOU SUCK mood of Tuesday than it is a meaningful reflection of what's likely to happen in five months. Sure, there are the Harriet Christians and their counterparts in every state who will never, ever vote for Obama... but I think many of them were never, ever going to vote for Obama even if Clinton had not been in the running as well.
    posted by scody at 11:00 AM on June 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


    Why I am an abortion doctor

    I can take a woman, in the biggest trouble she has ever experienced in her life, and by performing a five-minute operation, in comfort and dignity, I can give her back her life
    posted by marble at 11:20 AM on June 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


    I will say that yes, this is one of the better threads on this issue I've seen in...ever..on Metafilter. But then there's more (identified) women around here than previously, I think. Always helps when actual members of the Uterus-Owning club are around to contribute to discussions on What Those Ladies Should Do With Their Uteruses.

    And it's OT, but Obama has, what, 5 months or so to remind any miffed women voters of what a McCain presidency would mean, which is to say, more of the crap that Bush gave us. I think he can win back anyone not completely blind to reality. CNN polls are not the most stringent out there.
    posted by emjaybee at 11:38 AM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Someone above asked about a study on the women who have abortions.

    Here is some data.
    posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 11:42 AM on June 7, 2008


    CNN just reported that a poll they did indicates that 17% of Clinton supporters will vote McCain, and 22% won't vote at all now. WTF????

    Just look at Arkansas. It was ready to vote Democrat by a wide margin for Hillary, and now McCain by a wide margin. Arkansas was irrevocably lost in the Obama nomination. Many conservative women in swing states were ready to cross the line for her. Women represent more than 50% of the vote. Obama doesn't command that kind of swing demographic.
    posted by Brian B. at 1:45 PM on June 7 [+] [!]


    Please. Wait. Tempers need to cool. It's been about an hour since Hillary pulled out.

    I seriously doubt she would have beaten McCain in the general election in Arkansas. You cannot take primary results and primary season polls and project them onto the general. CNN has been beating this angry-women meme for some time. People need to take the weekend off and regroup. And the poll was of ALL Clinton supporters, not just women, yes? If the vote really shifts that much, that sounds like racism, not angry women.
    posted by etaoin at 11:49 AM on June 7, 2008


    And let me note that Arkansas hasn't gone for a Democrat since 1996, when, surprise, a native son was running.
    posted by etaoin at 11:53 AM on June 7, 2008


    CNN just reported that a poll they did indicates that 17% of Clinton supporters will vote McCain, and 22% won't vote at all now. WTF????

    Sounds like those people wanted to vote for a woman above all other considerations, and when their candidate lost on Tuesday, they must be racist, because I can't believe they really want to set back women's rights another 30-40 years, just out of spite.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:10 PM on June 7, 2008


    they must be racist

    Obama has also been adequately smeared as an actual terrorist, and/or crypto-Muslim, Anti-American, unpatriotic, Nation of Islam, Marxist, Leftist, or, worse, an unknown quantity.

    My mom watches FOX 24/7 (and/or CNN, depending on the personality), so I get from her the vibe of the smears. It's really quite impressive.
    posted by tachikaze at 12:49 PM on June 7, 2008


    This is why I want pro-lifers to stay the fuck away from my womb. I love it when they make their kids hold the abortion posters. Sick fucks.
    posted by dasheekeejones at 12:54 PM on June 7, 2008


    My mom watches FOX 24/7 (and/or CNN, depending on the personality), so I get from her the vibe of the smears.

    Me too, from which I gather there was evidently a smear circulating a few months ago about Obama's daughters being secretly trained as suicide bombers against "whitey." Fair and balanced!

    Incidentally, I loved the bit in tachikaze's Media Matters link where, in discussing the Terrifying Fist Pound of Death, the host goes, "Will we have more of this nonverbal communication?" Like: tell me more about these "gestures" I've heard so much about! Do all people use them, or is it just the domain of inscrutable black folks plotting against us?
    posted by scody at 1:07 PM on June 7, 2008


    If the contraceptive method you're using is statistically 98% effective, that means that if you have sex 99 times, you're statistically likely to conceive. You're likely to conceive even though you're taking precaution not to. You're likely to have an unwanted pregnancy, just from having sex. To make abortion illegal would serve only to punish women for having sex.


    Not quite. It's not likely. When it comes to birth control efficacy statistics, "99% effective" means: when the form of birth control is used for one year, with typical (ie not perfect) use, one in 100 women will conceive.

    Your point that even women taking effective contraception can get pregnant still stands, but it's not quite as likely as that suggested.

    17% of Clinton supporters will vote McCain,

    It's very likely that at least some portion of these people had a history of voting Republican and would have voted McCain in the general anyway. With McCain's nomination coming relatively early, there was no incentive not to game the Democratic primary by voting in it where that was possible. If you look around at right-wing blogs, it was a recommended strategy; many think McCain would have had a much better shot against Hillary than against Obama.

    Abortion has always been with us; making it safe and legal when needed is a boon to humankind, without a doubt, even as we try to reduce the frequency of that need. A few years ago, while working at a history museum, I had to comb a year's worth of a local newspaper from 1876. I was absolutely in shock to see how often an abandoned baby was reported, most often found dead. Sometimes drowned, sometimes left exposed. Sometimes they were wrapped and left to be discovered, and some of those were found alive. But it was amazing - in a set of towns with a combined population of under 20,000, a baby was discovered about every two weeks. That's a lot of unwanted pregnancies, secret childbirths, and abandonments usually resulting in deaths.

    There were also abortifacients sold in local pharmacies and advertised in the newspaper. The American Heritage blog has a very interesting capsule social history of abortion in America:
    Warnings that women should not take the product if pregnant because it was sure to produce miscarriage, a common disclaimer in nineteenth-century ads, were intended as not-so-subtle guarantees that the product was an abortifacient.

    By midcentury such products had become big business in America. During a single week in 1845, the Boston Daily Times advertised Madame Restell’s Female Pill, Madame Drunette’s Lunar Pills, Dr. Monroe’s French Periodical Pills, and Dr. Melveau’s Portuguese Female Pills. In addition to disingenuous warnings against taking the cure if pregnant, code words were also common. “Portuguese” pills signified an abortifacient while “French letter” or “French remedy” usually meant a contraceptive device, which was also illegal.

    Despite the glossy ads, commercial abortifacients were as ineffectual and dangerous as the widespread homemade brews. But the high price—some Portuguese pills sold for five dollars a box—lured many retailers and even reputable pharmaceutical firms into the trade.
    This describes briefly how it was doctors seeking to improve their professional status and protect their income sources that initially pushed for abortion to be restricted by law.

    Finally, I used to attend a book group that included some women in their 80s (now 90s). One of our books once touched on this topic, and the women began to reminisce about what it was like before legal medical abortion was available. All had stories. The one I remember horrifying me most: when Betty, a member of the group, was a freshman in college, she returned to her dorm on a Sunday night after a weekend at home, turned on the lights, and found her roommate on her bed, hemorrhaging blood all over her bedclothes. Betty went into a panic and went to run for help, and her friend begged and pleaded for her not to do anything because she was afraid of what her father would do to her if he found out she'd had an abortion. Betty had to make a judgement call, and ended up enlisting a dorm mother of some kind who got attention for the roommate confidentially. The girl lived. But I can't imagine confronting that kind of horror and desperation again. I certainly don't see it as a better moral choice. Outlawing abortion will never eliminate abortion. It never has.
    posted by Miko at 1:23 PM on June 7, 2008 [12 favorites]


    Voltairemodern said, Can you show me anyone here who counts themselves one of Odin's faithful?

    Here? No. But I know at least 30 IRL, and I follow one of the other Aesir.

    I'd quibble about the term "faithful", as it is a Latin rooted term and not really descriptive of the Germanic world view, but that would be pedantic.

    As for the coat hanger, I used to work for a director who had a horrifying coat hanger in the restroom of the public library story, but it is his story, not mine.
    posted by QIbHom at 1:28 PM on June 7, 2008


    If the vote really shifts that much, that sounds like racism, not angry women.

    Projecting anger and racism onto a normally conservative woman voter just because she won't vote for your favorite liberal candidate says more about you than they.
    posted by Brian B. at 1:31 PM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


    many think McCain would have had a much better shot against Hillary than against Obama.


    Many of whom?
    posted by Brian B. at 2:02 PM on June 7, 2008


    At one point I looked for stories/references about coat hangers being used for abortions and, oddly, couldn't find anything at all.

    There's a coathanger story in my family, but I'd want permission before telling it. It involves a woman; her 20th pregnancy; a coathanger; 15 live births, two stillbirths and two miscarriages in 21 years; Irish Catholicism; the Australian rural poor in the late 1960s; and involuntary commital to an asylum.

    Thanks a lot for the post.
    posted by goo at 2:42 PM on June 7, 2008


    Many of whom?

    Republicans Heeding Call to Vote for Hillary
    Many Vote for Clinton to Boost GOP
    Republican votes skew Democrat primaries
    Republicans Voting for Hillary Clinton?

    This was a stupid game, and not the largest factor, but it definitely appears in her numbers.
    posted by Miko at 3:58 PM on June 7, 2008


    How would the supreme court reverse Roe vs Wade with a straight face?

    The Official Theory in the kids schoolbooks (I assume) is that the court and the judges are impartial and not acting politically. So getting the court to reverse its own politically-loaded decision by swapping the judges out for some with different personal political views, would be supreme court making a complete mockery of itself. Parading itself in public as a farce and a lie.

    Of course, it would seem naive to assume that reducing the Supreme Court and themselves to a source of worldwide snickering and pity, would necessarily stop judges from restricting abortion, if the court were stacked with the right deck of judges. So how would they go about trying to pretend the elephant wasn't in the room?

    Leave Roe vs Wade alone, but refuse to strike down restrictions and hoops that render the point moot? But it sounds like there is the desire to reverse Roe vs Wade, not merely take some of the wind out of its sails. How do you go about that?
    posted by -harlequin- at 4:25 PM on June 7, 2008


    Step by step. Here's a good two-part series on a decision last year:

    New Justices, New Rules: The Supreme Court Upholds the Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003

    Gonzales v. Carhart: How the Supreme Court's Validation of the Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act Affects Women's Constitutional Liberty and Equality
    posted by homunculus at 4:57 PM on June 7, 2008


    Since Roe v Wade established *Federally* that abortion was legal, all it'd take is the politically motivated SCotUS justices dress up their woman controling desire in "state's rights" rhetoric. Reversing Roe would not, in fact, make abortion illegal everywhere, just in the socially retrograde states, like my own home state of Texas.

    At any rate, the actions of the so-called "pro-life" crowd have conclusively demonstrated that they don't care one whit about life, but do care a *LOT* about controlling women. Every action taken by the so-called "pro-life" crowd, when measured against the twin metrics of "does this reduce abortion" and "does this punish sexually active women" is either likely to increase abortion rates while punishing women for being sexually active (eg: "pro-life" opposition to birth control), or to have little or no impact on abirtion while punishing women for being sexually active.

    It isn't about the babies and never has been, its about control. Maybe, possibly, some of the low-level people involved in the so-called "pro-life" movement are principly intersted in stopping abortion, but I doubt it. Its about control, its about punishing sluts, and that's all. The biggest mistake one can make when considering the abortion debate is to take the so-called "pro-life" crowd at face value. They are all liars because they know that their true goal is not one the American people will (currently) accept. When we face the truth, when we acknowledge that the so-called "pro-life" crowd doesn't care at all about babies then it is possible to have a reality based discussion of the situation.
    posted by sotonohito at 6:42 PM on June 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


    The Official Theory in the kids schoolbooks (I assume) is that the court and the judges are impartial and not acting politically.

    Sure - and I don't think they see themselves as doing so. Instead, they see themselves as sworn to rule by the Constitution. The difficulty arises because different judges interpret the Constitution differently, and the various interpretations tend to find accord within party philosophy on the roles and responsibilities of government. When nominations are made, Presidents look for judges with a judicial philosophy and ruling history which they think will favor the types of rulings they'd endorse. The process is certainly not apolitical; within American judicial philosophy and Constitutional law there is still a lot of room for right-leaning and left-leaning interpretations of the Contstitution.
    posted by Miko at 7:10 PM on June 7, 2008


    Imagine a Nation Without Roe v. Wade
    posted by homunculus at 7:50 PM on June 7, 2008


    When we face the truth, when we acknowledge that the so-called "pro-life" crowd doesn't care at all about babies then it is possible to have a reality based discussion of the situation.

    That is ridiculous. Are you saying that my daughter, who is very prolife, and stuck to that when she found herself pregnant and unwed, wants to control women and doesn't care about babies?

    I think the proabortion crowd would LIKE to paint the argument that way, since I see it over and over, but it isn't true...now, in the early Seventies, what WAS true was that a woman who found herself pregnant and unwed wanted an abortion because the stigma was so incredibly bad. She wanted to hide the evidence she'd had sex. These days, not too many people give a flip about the marital state of a pregnant woman.

    And, oh by the way, I would like to state for the record that seeing children as "punishment" for sex is not a position I would agree with. That our society sees children so negatively is kinda sad.
    posted by konolia at 8:31 PM on June 7, 2008


    I would like to state for the record that seeing children as "punishment" for sex is not a position I would agree with. That our society sees children sex so negatively is kinda sad.

    That's the problem.
    posted by casarkos at 9:13 PM on June 7, 2008


    That is ridiculous. Are you saying that my daughter, who is very prolife, and stuck to that when she found herself pregnant and unwed, wants to control women and doesn't care about babies?

    If someone allows themselves to be controlled, then they would want others like themselves to be controlled too. Everyone cares for their own kids more than others, but it's caring about all kids enough to provide some of them welfare without making excuses for the earthly fate they deserve (because it's not like they can provide for themselves anyway). It would be very likely that someone who is anti-abortion is also anti-welfare too, which is inconsistent with their demands that people must have children, because they aren't putting their money where their mouth is. Some would say they never had any money anyway so they don't really know what they are doing; they just love the idea of breeding. Regardless, appealing to your daughter's unknown views is what is ridiculous.
    posted by Brian B. at 9:20 PM on June 7, 2008


    "That is ridiculous. Are you saying that my daughter, who is very prolife, and stuck to that when she found herself pregnant and unwed, wants to control women and doesn't care about babies?"

    I'd say the system that many people think is pro life does just this. In my former state, any pregnant woman automatically qualifies for Medicaid. All doctor visits paid, the whole nine yards. Up until the six-week checkup. Then you're on your own. Good luck with those next 18 years.

    "And, oh by the way, I would like to state for the record that seeing children as "punishment" for sex is not a position I would agree with. That our society sees children so negatively is kinda sad."

    If you're going to get mad about people painting your daughter with a broad brush, you really ought not to turn around and do the same thing.

    And who's saying a child is punishment? I'm not. I'm saying taking the choice away is punishment. I say limiting access to birth control (pregnancy prevention) is punishment. I say the double standard of slut vs. stud is punishment (you may think it doesn't exist, but oh, it does)

    How many times have you seen "well she shoulda not spread her legs then!" in response to some pro-choice or dare I say it pro-abortion article?

    You want to stop abortion? Stop unwanted pregnancies. As noted in an article above, abstinence "education" doesn't cut it.
    posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 9:29 PM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Further, you want to make sure women can have children they do wish to bear? Then don't force on them the burden of dangerous, illegal abortions that carry elevated risks of causing permanent infertility.
    posted by scody at 9:39 PM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Of course, the more I think about it, the more it becomes clear that thinking about the actual consequences of outlawing abortion is precisely what pro-lifers must not do in order to maintain their ideological position. Every legal abortion prevented must be made to equal only a baby saved with NO other real world consequences. There must be the total obliteration of any recognition that unplanned and unwanted pregnancies will continue to be ended with illegal abortions, which themselves can have terrible, injurious results to women. And there must be total obliteration of the recognition that every pregnancy that proceeds as the result of a thwarted legal abortion will NOT inevitably lead to a baby that is wanted by its biological mother, nor does it find its way into the arms of an adoptive family (no gays need apply).
    posted by scody at 10:05 PM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Why don't you present your first-hand experience with being an abortion clinic protestor, konolia, instead of dragging your daughter into the discussion? It'd make your argument a heck of a lot stronger: you really can't presume to know your daughter's mind, but you can certainly tell us what was on your mind.

    ----

    In having this discussion, folks should be aware that abortion rates are at their lowest rates in decades.
    posted by five fresh fish at 12:00 AM on June 8, 2008


    It isn't about the babies and never has been, its about control.

    My sister happens to be the director of an explicitly up-front pro-life pregnancy crisis / health clinic, and from this experience I have to heartily disagree with that assertion.

    Adoption is one of the alternatives that they stress (and that PP tends to avoid, according to her).

    I personally don't see any difference between abortion and birth control in the first few weeks, and I follow the Roe logic of increasing state interest in the health of the fetus. But as I said above, the religious right is coming from the perspective that there's more than a fetus in the womb, there's a new soul in the world, and killing it is a moral mistake.

    That's why I don't call the anti-abortion folks anti-choice but pro-life, since that is in fact their true position IMV.
    posted by tachikaze at 12:15 AM on June 8, 2008


    I personally don't see any difference between abortion and birth control in the first few weeks

    Er, what? Could you elaborate?
    posted by liquorice at 12:39 AM on June 8, 2008


    Several birth control methods prevent implantation. Not much difference to some people, besides some hair splitting about when life begins, between an IUD that prevents a viable embryo from implanting and an abortion at 4-6 weeks.
    posted by Mitheral at 2:55 AM on June 8, 2008


    That's why I don't call the anti-abortion folks anti-choice but pro-life, since that is in fact their true position IMV.

    Yet so many of them also seem to support the death penalty. Curious thing, that.
    posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:35 AM on June 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


    konolia Let's leave your daughter out of this and talk about you, since you actually know your own thoughts and unless you are telepathic you don't know your daughter's. Do you support freely available contraception? Do you support contraceptive based sex ed in the schools?

    And then there's the real meaty questions: if abortion is exactly and precicely equivilant to murder do you think women who get abortions should be tried for murder? Also, if you *genuinely* believe that abortion is identical to murder then you naturally oppose any attempt to grant an exception for rape and incest, right?

    More important, how do you feel about those who bomb clinics and assissanate abortion doctors? I mean, if abortion is, in every way, exactly the same as murder then its the biggest horror since the holocaust, and therefore any action, no matter how radical, in opposition to it would be justified, right? I mean otherwise you're in the position of the "good Germans" who stood idly by while their nation slaughtered millions of Jews.

    And, finally, that means that menstration is a horror as well, since up to 80% of "babies", as you and your ilk seek to redefine the term, are naturally aborted. Shouldn't you be donating large sums of money to research into preventing that travisty?

    Or, if you don't, really, care about "saving babies", but just want to punish some sluts, you could support the so-called "pro-life" movement as it currently exists. You could come up with some handwaving religious nonsense to explain your opposition to contraception, and especially contraception based sex-ed.

    Interesting fact, women who are "pro-life" tend to be exactly as likely to have an abortion as the rest of the population. That kind of sums up everything. It isn't about babies, it never has been about babies, its about sluts. In every single discussion I've had with so-called "pro-life" types they always came back to some variation on the "well, she had the choice not to have sex" line.

    One final question: if you luv the babez so much, do you support the use of tax dollars to pay for health care and living expenses for the babez *after* they're born? Or, like the vast, contemptable, majority of the "pro-life" crowd do you just stop caring after they're born? That's my favorite bit. Until birth its a "precious baby", after its born its a welfare queen in training.

    tachikaze Nonsense. Unless they're vegan, anti-death penalty advocates, they are not "pro-life". They might be anti-abortion, but they ain't "pro-life".

    More to the point, look at the questions I asked konolia and ask them of yourself. Any position other than complete, enthuiastic, support for free contraception to anyone and everyone, contraceptive based sex-ed starting in kindergarten and continuing through highschool is a position that explicitly rejects "saving babies" as its primary goal.

    I also categorically reject your assertion regarding the outfit your sister is involved in. I have never seen any honest "crisis pregnancy center". Maybe your sister's outfit is the exception, but I doubt it. Every other one of those contemptable places operates exclusively through decption and lies about its purpose. Can you provide a link to the frontpage for the place your sister works so I can see, the big disclaimers they have stating explicitly that they don't offer abortions? And so I can check the yellow pages for your area and find out if they're listed under "Abortion Providers"?

    Does your sister's "crisis pregnancy center" provide contraception? Free? To anyone?

    Planned parenthood is the #1 abortion preventing agency in the nation. No other group has done as much to stop abortions as PP. However they do their work by empowering women to be sexually active, which naturally makes them the foes of the so-called "pro-life" movement. When the vile scum who protest PP obviously don't want to reduce the number of abortions or else they wouldn't be protesting the group that prevents hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of abortions per year.
    posted by sotonohito at 4:42 AM on June 8, 2008 [13 favorites]


    There's a huge problem in equating individuals with movements. I can get all riled at the rhetoric coming from individuals in a movement, especially the talking points, and the I start in on my talking points, and all conversation gets lost - it's not people talking to each other any more, it's dittoheads talking past each other. And I mean that from both sides.

    If you put the question about specific circumstances to individuals, "pro-life" or not, "pro-choice" or not, you get the same answers most of the time: it's going to depend on the circumstances.

    In my own case, when I told my arch-conservative, fundamentalist Christian cousin that I was pregnant after I'd broken up with my ex, she said, "you can't have this baby. It would destroy your physical and mental health". If she thought I was stupid for staying so long with him, or didn't use the b/c right or whatever, she kept it to herself.

    She also went with me to the clinic, and stayed outside with my ex until I was done (only the patients were allowed inside for safety reasons). She took care of me for the rest of the day, and kept my other children fed and clothed while I recovered the next day.

    I still get tears in my eyes remembering it years later. That was truly Christian compassion.

    Abortion is going to happen. You don't have to like it, but it's there. We can spout facts at each other all day long, but at the end of the day it happens. I'd rather it happen in a medical facility than in a hotel room or stranger's apartment, and I'd much rather it happened at 12 weeks gestation than 12 hours/days/weeks postpartum.

    That's the bit that people don't remember. All those stories of foundlings, orphanages, etc. hide the fact that those unwanted babies died anyway(PDF).

    "Under difficult circumstances—bad timing,
    too many children, poverty—mothers throughout history
    and across cultures have chosen a variety of ways to disinvest
    in their children. The conditional responses women
    have to their infants and children indicate that although
    women are biologically prepared for pregnancy and lactation,
    these responses are neither automatic nor instinctual:

    'Mothers have always had to make the most of resources
    at hand while coping with the sliding scale
    of paternal and alloparental help available. Mothers
    make tradeoffs compatible with their own subsistence,
    the needs of different children, and their
    own future reproductive prospects. These tradeoffs
    are made in a world of constantly shifting constraints
    and options. (p. 376)'"
    posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 5:28 AM on June 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


    Are you saying that my daughter, who is very prolife, and stuck to that when she found herself pregnant and unwed, wants to control women and doesn't care about babies?

    One person making the choice she thinks is right, no matter the reasons, is not trying to control women. One person, pro-life or pro-choice or ambivalent, deciding to stay pregnant and have a baby, does not have any effect on whether abortion is safe, legal, and affordable. You know this. Millions of pro-choice women make the exact same choice every year.

    I'm not worried about people who don't want abortions for themselves. I'm worried about people who want to make abortions unsafe, illegal, and only available to those rich enough to safely flout the law. They do want to control women--they want to stop them, against their will, from doing something they would otherwise do. I don't really see any other way to look at it.

    Is it possible that they also care about babies? Maybe some do. If it were true across the board, though, we'd see more comprehensive plans about how to help mothers get prenatal care, childcare, higher salaries, and how to help all people get contraception and sex education. I know a lot of pro-life people also believe in bootstrap-pulling and abstinence, but if abortion is really killing babies, and those things would make it less likely for someone to get pregnant, and more likely to choose to have the baby if they did, what could be more important?
    posted by lampoil at 7:00 AM on June 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


    And, finally, that means that menstration is a horror as well, since up to 80% of "babies", as you and your ilk seek to redefine the term, are naturally aborted. Shouldn't you be donating large sums of money to research into preventing that travisty?

    Again, this is not any sort of problem. For religionists, natural abortion is God's will. It is simply absurd to present it as any sort of argument. Please stop.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:18 AM on June 8, 2008


    A tornado or a deadly disease could similarly be termed God's will, yet we are obligated to save the victims of both. Why are we not obligated to save the victims of failed implantation? The technology would seem to be there or almost there. If we are not obligated to save the victims of failed implantation, then the embryo isn't quite a human life, is it?
    posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:26 AM on June 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


    Touché.
    posted by five fresh fish at 10:00 AM on June 8, 2008


    I think there's ample evidence to support the idea that caring too much about other people's private business is a disorder, perhaps a very serious mental illness. I would be interested to know the treatment histories of random people protesting abortion clinics.
    posted by Brian B. at 10:03 AM on June 8, 2008


    There is also ample evidence of people with no knowledge of mental illness using made-up pathologies in order to demonize and marginalize political opponents. If they are obviously wrong, then you can presumably show that easily, and argue against the person, rather than making up some internal mindset for a strawman opponent.
    posted by Snyder at 11:21 AM on June 8, 2008


    you really can't presume to know your daughter's mind

    That has never been a problem with that daughter. She is perfectly willing to let you know what she thinks, and did indeed in that case.

    As to some points brought up-of course I am all for helping folks who need help when they are pregnant and or have children. But I am also for folks taking responsibility for their own actions too. It is a fact that when two people have sex, there is a greater or lesser chance of a pregnancy occurring. It is a fact that even the most careful users of birth control can have a failure. Any woman or any man who makes the choice to engage in intercourse, whether married or single, also has to know that it is at the very least theoretically possible that a new life can be created by such an act. None of my own children were "planned", btw, so I faced that fact just like everyone else.

    IF for whatever reason pregnancy is inadvisable for an individual, they need to take that fact into consideration before they have sex. IF for whatever reason a pregnancy does occur, it is my stated belief that that life is just as valuable as anyone's and that any further decision making needs to take that into consideration.

    I would personally rather see assistance to mothers and children come from churches and private agencies rather than the government, simply because I don't have much faith in the government doing anything well and with efficiency. NOT because I'd want to see moms and kids suffer.

    But I also want to see a lot more personal responsibility come from the guys that helped with the conceiving part. My own son in law stepped up to the plate and is taking care of his child and my daughter -he chose to marry her but even if he hadn't I know he would do what it took to provide for that baby. That is what a MAN does.

    Sex is wonderful. Sex is fantastic. But one thing sex is NOT is trivial.
    posted by konolia at 11:49 AM on June 8, 2008


    There is also ample evidence of people with no knowledge of mental illness using made-up pathologies in order to demonize and marginalize political opponents. If they are obviously wrong, then you can presumably show that easily, and argue against the person, rather than making up some internal mindset for a strawman opponent.

    You just assumed a rational opponent who would listen to reason in order to disagree, making your argument circular. Raising the specter of mental illness is always fair game when emotions are used for reasons.
    posted by Brian B. at 11:51 AM on June 8, 2008


    I would personally rather see assistance to mothers and children come from churches and private agencies rather than the government, simply because I don't have much faith in the government doing anything well and with efficiency. NOT because I'd want to see moms and kids suffer.

    I would rather see government provide assistance because I don't have much faith in churches or their surrogates providing any services free of attemts at proletysing or without discrimination against "sinners".

    Part of that assistance would be access to safe, legal abortions, just one service you wouldn't get if a priest was in charge of such things.
    posted by Reggie Knoble at 12:06 PM on June 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


    because I don't have much faith in the government doing anything well and with efficiency

    so says the mother of a child attending a service academy.

    The government is *us*, We The People, and the typical conservative "government sucks" argument is dodging the true issue that difficult things are in fact difficult and require national determination to succeed in.

    We didn't win WW2 with a "government sucks" national attitude. It is one of the bigger lies of the 20th century parroted by simple-minded fools.

    I've lived in countries (Japan, the UK) with a more mature civic attitude and I found the experience very enlightening. We can learn a lot from them, one thing being that government can do things well and with efficiency.
    posted by tachikaze at 12:12 PM on June 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


    Sex isn't trivial, pregnancy is not trivial, abortion is not trivial. A woman's choice to not have an abortion is not trivial. What if it were taken from you? What if you couldn't choose to carry a baby to term?

    "But I am also for folks taking responsibility for their own actions too."

    Having an abortion IS taking responsibility for your actions. Non-responsibility would be to birth the child in a bathroom and drown it. Non-responsibility would be to leave it in a dumpster or exposed.

    Non responsibility would be to convince or force someone to give birth when you know you do not have the resources available to care for the mother & child after birth.
    posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 12:14 PM on June 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


    Er, what? Could you elaborate?

    I don't think of the blastocyst/embryo as one fixed individual in the womb, rather a developing ball of cells with the natural potential to eventually become a person or persons. We don't think of conjoined monozygotic twins as one person, but two, so there's more to natural personhood than just a complete DNA.

    Likewise, there is a natural potential for sperm and egg(s) to combine to eventually become a person or persons.

    Comparing the obliteration of the early blastocyst/embryo and interfering with fertilization are actions that belong in a philosophical debate no doubt, but I don't see much moral or practical difference. If it's morally wrong to abort the natural development of an embryo it should also be morally wrong to abort the natural process of fertilization (as the Catholic Chuch teaches).

    As I said above, I find the court's Roe decision to be a pretty good -- ie. practical compromise between the pro-life (preservation of life) vs. pro-choice (preservation of privacy) dilemma.
    posted by tachikaze at 12:29 PM on June 8, 2008


    As to some points brought up-of course I am all for helping folks who need help when they are pregnant and or have children. But I am also for folks taking responsibility for their own actions too.

    So why do you want to take away responsibility?
    posted by five fresh fish at 12:59 PM on June 8, 2008


    so says the mother of a child attending a service academy

    He just graduated, thank you.


    Not that it changes my opinion one whit. There is a reason idealistic little four-digs turn into cynical firsties/graduates.

    Plus my parents both worked on Ft Bragg as civilians. Believe me when I tell you that if there is a way for government to mess something up, it occurs.
    posted by konolia at 1:04 PM on June 8, 2008


    FFF, it all boils down to I think abortion is the taking of a human life, period. Everything else can be worked around, talked through, solved, discussed, disagreed with, compromised with, etcetera-but I believe that abortion is imposing the death penalty on a helpless individual. A unique individual. Not a generic blob, but a real person in the very beginnings of their existence.

    It is not that I do not have sympathy for the very real difficulties any particular woman might face with a pregnancy. I am saying that the solution to those difficulties should not be found in killing another human.

    How many of you read that other thread on the front page about the "baby farmers" that took children from unwed mothers ostensibly to care for them but instead murdered them? How many of you thought that those who committed these acts were evil human beings? Why is it any less evil to kill a child just because it is in an earlier stage of development-or to put things another way, why ISN"T it okay to kill a newborn or older infant if mom can't care for it? Is it just because we can see the baby? I don't think we can have it both ways. Either it is okay to kill inconvenient life, or it isn't.

    I can wish the very best for any woman found in a bad situation-I have certainly been in my share, as have many of us here-but who am I to mete out a death sentence to someone-particularly someone who nine short months later I would kill to protect?

    That's all I can say, really. As those embroys are, so were all of us at one time. We were all just a glob of cells. Each and every unique one of us. I for one am glad that no one here was aborted. We have been given a precious gift of life, and I would hope we would be gracious enough to find a way to extend that gracious gift to the very least among us who cannot speak for themselves. They are worth our efforts.
    posted by konolia at 1:16 PM on June 8, 2008


    Why is it any less evil to kill a child just because it is in an earlier stage of development-or to put things another way, why ISN"T it okay to kill a newborn or older infant if mom can't care for it?

    Why, indeed? I would say as a legal or moral threshold "birth" is a safe and rational place to be. It's at least a very clear line which is harder to find after that. But, I've also heard stories of doctors euthanizing deformed newborns doomed to a few years of an existence of nothing but misery, (or just nothing, like infants born without any of the higher parts of the brain but enough stem to breathe and pump blood) and I can't feel all that bad about that.

    This article When does human life begin? gives scientific, cultural, and philosophical viewpoints. I'll quote one paragraph referencing a print book:

    "There are several different contemporary cultural views regarding when a person acquires humanness. In rural Japan, personhood is obtained when an infant utters its first cry (Morowitz and Trefil 1992). In Northern Ghana a child is said to acquire humanness seven days after birth; while for some Ayatal aborigines personhood is not obtained until the child is named, which occurs two to three years after birth (Morowitz and Trefil 1992). For several Native American tribes in the Mojave, human life begins for children who live long enough to be put to the mother's breast (Morowitz and Trefil 1992)."

    We were all just a glob of cells.


    Rather meaningless. I was once just a glob of cells. Before that I was a sperm and an egg. Before that part of me was a hamburger. Going way back, I was once a star.

    Also, if I had been aborted, pretty much by definition I wouldn't be upset about it. You can't say the same thing for everyone's feelings towards being born.
    posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:46 PM on June 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Mitheral said: "five fresh fish writes "Are abortion services in Canada gratis, or user-pay?"

    The Health Act requires abortion be funded though Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are currently not in compliance and no one is providing abortion services in P.E.I.
    "

    This is not strictly true. In NS and NB abortions can be had in hospitals -- it's lack of or restricted funding to private clinics (such as Morgentaler's) that is not in compliance.

    Interestingly at a clinic here in Montreal recently I saw a sign saying that women who had abortions at private clinics in Quebec in the years before all that was sorted out can now be reimbursed.
    posted by loiseau at 2:02 PM on June 8, 2008


    I for one am glad that no one here was aborted. We have been given a precious gift of life, and I would hope we would be gracious enough to find a way to extend that gracious gift to the very least among us who cannot speak for themselves. They are worth our efforts.

    The gift of life we were given was handed down through eons, by primitive ancestors who struggled to survive the elements and predators. Yet religious types deny this evolution every day because they are ignorant of what it takes to survive as a species with limited resources, and oblivious to our improvement by having the least crime and starvation by using the simple methods of optimal choice. Perhaps those religious people were bred a different way. I'm still glad there are enough people who see that freedom is the wisest gift we ever give each other, and that breeding works best under a rubric of choice.
    posted by Brian B. at 2:17 PM on June 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


    FFF, it all boils down to I think abortion is the taking of a human life, period.

    That's a perfectly valid opinion, of course. I think the idea of the link here is that no matter how benign or wrong you see abortion as we know it today, if it weren't legal, not only would it be no better, it would actually be horrifyingly worse.

    I would personally rather see assistance to mothers and children come from churches and private agencies rather than the government, simply because I don't have much faith in the government doing anything well and with efficiency. NOT because I'd want to see moms and kids suffer.

    I would personally rather see abstinence education and the encouraging of alternatives to abortion come from churches and private agencies, because I don't trust the government to decide what rights a person should have over her own body. Not because I think people should have more abortions.
    posted by lampoil at 2:18 PM on June 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


    FFF, it all boils down to I think abortion is the taking of a human life, period. Everything else can be worked around, talked through, solved, discussed, disagreed with, compromised with, etcetera-but I believe that abortion is imposing the death penalty on a helpless individual.

    I think the big difference between your opinion and mine is this: mine accepts reality, while yours is based on fantasy. Neither of us wants women to choose abortion. But I recognize the reality-based facts: never in human history have women not tried to abort unwanted pregnancies or killed their unwanted infants. Denying safe access isn't going to stop it from happening.

    In the real world, we can only choose between bad options. Access to safe abortions is by far the least bad option. Denying safe abortions is pretty much the worst bad option.
    posted by five fresh fish at 3:55 PM on June 8, 2008


    In the real world, we can only choose between bad options. Access to safe abortions is by far the least bad option. Denying safe abortions is pretty much the worst bad option.

    The problem with that is, that if we as a society provide those "safe abortions" then we as a society are then accessories to murder.

    OF COURSE I don't want women going to back door butchers. I DON't want women bleeding to death or in septic shock. Who would? But, not to Godwinize this, to me this would be like going back to Hitler's Germany and subsidizing clean, sanitary painless places to kill Jews. The answer isn't to make killing safer and more pleasant. The answer is to make it possible for women not to feel desperate about bringing a pregnancy to term, providing them with help whether that is help in keeping and raising a child or assistance in placing that child in a loving home. The answer would be in having a society where babies and children were seen as good things and not hindrances to good things.
    posted by konolia at 4:05 PM on June 8, 2008


    If you really want to reduce abortions, you should offer full economic subsidies through the 18th year of a child's life. Is it not worth it to avoid the abortions that are done for economic reasons? If it was really about avoiding "murdering babies", then the anti-choice crowd would be living simply so they could put every dollar towards child care, medical care, and the various things a child needs in order to thrive for someone else who would have otherwise aborted. Seriously.

    I don't see this happening. I guess they find a gigantic flat-screen tv, an SUV, and a McMansion more important than saving a life. I'm sure their god will understand.
    posted by marble at 4:10 PM on June 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


    konolia: The answer would be in having a society where babies and children were seen as good things and not hindrances to good things.

    And your thoroughly documented, verifiable grounds for assuming that this is the major factor motivating the majority of girls and women who have an abortion, would be....?
    posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:22 PM on June 8, 2008


    FFF, it all boils down to I think abortion is the taking of a human life, period.

    The problem is that prolife groups cannot credibly claim to want to prevent abortion. If they did, we'd see them at the forefront of dramatic and wide-sweeping movements for accurate sex education and easily accessible and effective contraception. Instead, we see them and their allied groups laboring to prevent the dissemination of verifiably true facts.

    Prolife groups do not want to eliminate abortion, only declare it illegal. More broadly, their behavior would cause abortions to be illegal but also more common.

    Why is it any less evil to kill a child just because it is in an earlier stage of development-or to put things another way, why ISN"T it okay to kill a newborn or older infant if mom can't care for it?

    I know you're just asking for shock rhetorical effect, but there's actually an answer here.

    In any advanced industrial democracy, a newborn infant doesn't pose a threat to anyone. You can easily give it up for adoption if you don't want it, or simply foist it upon the State, who will provide for it in some minimal way. If you don't want your baby, you can easily give it to someone else in the here and now, at least if it isn't all fucked-up. And if it is all fucked-up, the State will still take it and care for it to some degree.

    You can't simply decide to give your fetus or embryo to someone else. The technology just isn't there to take your embryo out of you and put it into someone else, or to take it out and freeze it for someone else to gestate later. So, one difference is that a born child can be given away, and an unborn one cannot. Likewise, an unborn child poses a serious threat to the life and health of the mother. Pregnancy and childbirth is deeply dangerous, and the low death rates we see now are because pregnancies are carefully monitored and nearly all happen in a well-equipped hospital that is both able to deal with nearly any emergency and is especially watchful for risks that had been previously noted.

    Likewise, in other societies, that safety net that allows women to simply give their children up was not there. In those circumstances, an unplanned or unwelcome child could present the mother with a very real "it's me or you" situation. Or, more commonly, "you die or we both die." When I read about the baby farmers, I was angry at the larger society that created the set of perverse incentives that essentially required such an institution.

    But, not to Godwinize this, to me this would be like going back to Hitler's Germany and subsidizing clean, sanitary painless places to kill Jews.

    The difference is of course that carrying a fetus to term really is quite dangerous, but harboring Jews in your country is not.
    posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:08 PM on June 8, 2008


    The answer isn't to make killing safer and more pleasant. The answer is to make it possible for women not to feel desperate about bringing a pregnancy to term, providing them with help whether that is help in keeping and raising a child or assistance in placing that child in a loving home. The answer would be in having a society where babies and children were seen as good things and not hindrances to good things.

    Like I said, your solution is fantasy-world. The answer you offer is simply never, ever going to be offered.

    So your are faced with stark reality: women being butchered, infants being dumpsterized, children being brutally abused. Heck, these days a good number of them will be used as live organ donors or sold into sex slavery.

    What does God tell you to do when reality limits you to a bad choice and a worse choice?
    posted by five fresh fish at 5:10 PM on June 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Prolife groups do not want to eliminate abortion, only declare it illegal. More broadly, their behavior would cause abortions to be illegal but also more common.

    Ironically, abortion rates are highest where religiousity is highest.
    In largely secular western Europe, the average rate is 12 abortions per 1,000 women. In the more religious southern European countries, the average rate is 18. In the US, where church attendance is still higher, there are 23 abortions for every 1,000 women, the highest level in the rich world. In central and South America, where the Catholic church holds greatest sway, the rates are 25 and 33 respectively. In the very conservative societies of east Africa, it's 39.
    Also ironic is that abortion rates are lowest where abortion access is easiest.

    Again, reality-based facts lead to the best answers.
    posted by five fresh fish at 5:18 PM on June 8, 2008


    The problem with that is, that if we as a society provide those "safe abortions" then we as a society are then accessories to murder.

    I find it baffling that you worry about society being an accessory to murder when your own son has sworn to murder whoever Caesar says to kill, and given that you've said he'll be a missileer, has sworn to murder hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of people and invite similar retaliation in our own lands whenever Caesar says to do it.
    posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:19 PM on June 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


    Well, here, FFF, I have to give you an answer that stems from my faith. As you know, the Bible teaches abstinence before marriage and monogamy after marriage.

    If no one ever disobeyed God regarding their sexuality, there would be no problem. Obviously for various and sundry reasons, in this society that ain't happening.

    I myself was conceived out of wedlock. "In sin" so to speak. So my mom's choices back then would be backalley butcher, having baby and giving it (me ) up for adoption, or marrying the dad and raising me herself. She obviously did the latter.

    Every action we take has consequenses. Some good, some bad, some awful. My mom's choice put her in a rotten place particularly since in those days being unwed and preggers was NOT COOL.

    So, if abortion had been "safe and legal" and she had done that, many of you would have thought that was great. Problem is, she would have taken care of her sin with another sin.

    Those of you familiar with the Bible may remember the story of David and Bathsheba. In that case, he compounded his sin with that of murder-in that case that of Bathsheba's honorable husband. The consequences of that sin had ramifications that went on and on and on.

    FFF, you ask what to do when reality limits you to a bad choice and a worse choice. In that case you choose to do what is right, whatever that is, even if it means you don't go to college right then, or that money is tight, or that you wind up giving up your baby after it is born, or that you get stretch marks, or that your family tosses you out, or that your boyfriend leaves, or that you go to a battered woman's shelter because your husband would beat you if he found you were pregnant again. AT that point it is no longer about you, it is about that baby.

    You do what is loving for that little life. A life that has just as much meaning as one's own.

    So much of what society declares to be okay, is well, utilitarian. I don't want to be pregnant, I can get rid of it, therefore it's okay.

    Saying it's okay does not make it okay.

    And having a baby is NOT the end of your life. Having a baby is NOT the end of the world. Having a baby is NOT the worst thing that can happen to you. There is life after an unplanned pregnancy. I look at my daughter, I look at my grandson, and I see the grace of God. Her plans were massively changed by that baby-she had already joined the Air Force on delayed entry, and was planning a career. But right now she is a happy mother, happily making plans for her future, and enjoying her child. And if for some reason she hadn't wanted to raise him, there are other arms out there aching to be parents. That child deserved to live. Every baby deserves life.
    posted by konolia at 5:32 PM on June 8, 2008


    I really hate these sorts of threads (he says, ignoring the fact that he's read all of it by now), mostly because they tend to be the same people arguing with the same, well, person. To be honest, no-one is having their minds changed to any degree, and all I see happening is people being increasingly rude. I absolutely fail to see what relevance the profession of one's offspring has to do with anything, and even as a pinko commie with extremely unorthodox views on military force, I think that painting military service as murder is not only entirely off-topic but needlessly provocative.
    Konolia, I am not going to change your mind about anything. I don't really care to, because what you think has absolutely no effect on me and mine. But what I care about is how you vote.
    You clearly have very strong opinions on abortion, but I feel like you've stopped short of actually saying that you think it should be outlawed and women who have abortions should be prosecuted for murder. What actual legislative steps do you think should be taken against abortion? What policies would you like to see enacted? Because, despite your hope that our society will treasure infants more, I cannot imagine any way such a thing would take place. We have to take into account the society we have now, and, indeed, the societies which have come before us. Which is all just preparation to say this:
    If abortion is made illegal, women will continue to get abortions. In the best case scenerio, it will merely make them into felons; in the worst case, it will make them into corpses. If you vote or press for legislation to make this into a reality, that will be your responsibility. Some of these women will already have children, who may be orphaned.
    You are completely entitled to your own views, and you may act however you like upon them. But you have to understand that responsibility rests with you, too.
    posted by 235w103 at 5:34 PM on June 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


    I find it baffling that you worry about society being an accessory to murder when your own son has sworn to murder whoever Caesar says to kill, and given that you've said he'll be a missileer

    Point of order. He'll be helping guard them, not shoot them off. Security forces are like the Air Forces' police force. I assume you don't mind having police, and that you have a lock on your own door?

    Besides, this is not the thread to be discussing Augustine's Just War theory.
    posted by konolia at 5:38 PM on June 8, 2008


    And having a baby is NOT the end of your life.

    Except when it is.
    posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:38 PM on June 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


    If abortion is made illegal, women will continue to get abortions

    And if they do so they do so out of choice, just like people do all sorts of unwise things out of choice. Heroin is illegal-does that make me a party to the death of an addict?
    posted by konolia at 5:40 PM on June 8, 2008


    Point of order. He'll be helping guard them, not shoot them off.

    So he's only literally an accessory to the people who will murder millions of people at a whack anytime Caesar says to turn that key. And your daughter had also agreed to swear to murder whoever Caesar said to kill?

    Frankly, you should worry about the beam in your own family's eye before you worry about the mote in society's.
    posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:42 PM on June 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


    That comparison is entirely without merit, as you have no responsibility for the fatal properties of heroin, whereas you would be at least in part responsible for the fatal repercussions of unsafe, illegal, clandestine abortions.
    I repeat my questions- do you support legislation to make abortion illegal, do you vote with this in mind, do you take responsibility for those votes?
    posted by 235w103 at 5:43 PM on June 8, 2008


    You know what? I intended to stay quiet on this thread and let it play out, but konolia, your shit-spewing is frightening.

    No woman - no woman that is raped or whose contraception fails - deserves to have a child she doesn't want.

    No child deserves to be unloved. There are many unplanned children, unlike your grandson apparently, who are unwanted.

    People may have the right to have children, but NOBODY, and NOBODY, has the right to have an unwanted, unloved, uneducated, and un-cared for child.

    And that damn thing has no legal rights until it's out of the womb, thank you, and nor should it.

    And that's completely ignoring the fact that before week 8 of its development, it is a clump of cells with no nervous system and no organs. It is unconscious.

    And for the love of reason, keep your fucking imaginary friend out of this, because not everyone thinks your imaginary friend exists.

    Your bullshit is making me see red.
    posted by kldickson at 6:04 PM on June 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


    I'd just like konolia to answer my question: if you dislike abortion, if you want to see the rate of abortion drop, if that is your primary goal, then are you or aren't you in favor of freely available and cost free contraception and contraceptive centered sex ed? If the answer to that question is "no", then how do you justify your claim that you want to see abortion rates go down?
    posted by sotonohito at 6:05 PM on June 8, 2008


    Er, other than magic, handwaving, or "if everyone were perfect and lived the way I think they should". Realworld only answers please.
    posted by sotonohito at 6:06 PM on June 8, 2008


    "The answer would be in having a society where babies and children were seen as good things and not hindrances to good things."

    My abortion was not about things. It was about the children I already had, and the family support I no longer had. It was about the limits of my capabilities, and those around me. It was about my physical and mental health. I learned a lot about myself. A lot that I didn't want to know. I had always wanted as many children as I could physically bear. I found out that I didn't have it in me.

    I also know that I can kill in self defense, because I already have. I'm sorry if that sounds cold, but I will say it wasn't murder. Something died, yes, but not someone. Your opinion obviously matters to you, but science does not back you up.

    "And having a baby is NOT the end of your life. Having a baby is NOT the end of the world... " etc. etc.

    It wasn't the end of the world for you. It would have been for me. And that's why the law needs to stay, and that's why abortion needs to remain available for everyone.
    posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 6:37 PM on June 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


    I should have been a bit more clear in my question, konolia: this doesn't actually answer what I asked. Let me try again:

    We as a society are faced with making the best of two bad choices. As a society, we either ban abortions (the consequence being mutilated and dead women, increased infanticide, and soaring child abuse) or allow abortions (the consequence being dead fetuses). The reality-based world does not allow for your utopian third option, alas.

    So given that society has to choose between two bad choices, which does your God prefer? I know what He wants, but I'm afraid God is stuck with what He's gonna get.

    Heroin is illegal-does that make me a party to the death of an addict? I don't want to get into this side-issue, but it is worth pointing out that Vancouver, BC, has a safe-injection site where, despite the illegality of the drug use itself, addicts are provided access to clean needles, a safe environment, and nurses on stand-by should a trip go bad. Why? Because it is saving a lot of lives.
    Our stupid federal leader wants to close the site. IMO, that makes him party to the death of addicts.

    posted by five fresh fish at 6:42 PM on June 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


    And folks, please remain calm. This has been a good thread to this point. Let's keep it so.
    posted by five fresh fish at 6:45 PM on June 8, 2008


    I'd just like konolia to answer my question: if you dislike abortion, if you want to see the rate of abortion drop, if that is your primary goal, then are you or aren't you in favor of freely available and cost free contraception and contraceptive centered sex ed? If the answer to that question is "no", then how do you justify your claim that you want to see abortion rates go down?

    My opposition to abortion does not exist in a vacuum.

    I am not for anything that increases immorality. I am for parents taking responsibility for educating their own children according to their own beliefs regarding sexuality and contraception. I am for people learning how to control their own bodies in holiness and honor. I am for people taking responsibility for their own actions and for the consequenses of same.

    I am not for hypocrisy. If I were for values free sex ed and contraception provided to unmarried people, I would be a hypocrite.
    posted by konolia at 8:05 PM on June 8, 2008


    (the consequence being mutilated and dead women, increased infanticide, and soaring child abuse)

    Correlation is not causation. We have infanticide already. And statistics tell us that most abused children were and are wanted children. The fact we have abortion only lessens our respect for children.

    And if a woman is foolhardy enough to try to do something on her own all we can do is get her to a hospital and try to save her life.

    Just like we do folks who try to kill themselves.
    posted by konolia at 8:09 PM on June 8, 2008


    And perhaps on that note i need to leave this thread alone. I do know mine is a minority opinion. Thank you for allowing me to expand on it and thank you for the healthy respectful discussion. I do appreciate that.
    posted by konolia at 8:12 PM on June 8, 2008


    If abortion is made illegal, women will continue to get abortions

    Konolia's response:
    And if they do so they do so out of choice, just like people do all sorts of unwise things out of choice. Heroin is illegal-does that make me a party to the death of an addict?

    The abortion in question wasn't unwise until you assumed it was illegal, which was your choice. That makes you responsible. You obviously want to limit their choices in order to dramatically increase the chances of their death or disfigurement during an abortion.
    posted by Brian B. at 8:14 PM on June 8, 2008


    As it is, you're a hypocrite because you claim to dislike abortion, but are opposed to the very things that make abortions not happen. And you're a hypocrite because you claim that this is motivated by your faith, but you've only ever talked about abortion being made illegal because it's a sin* -- but somehow you never talk about making the refusal to feed the hungry illegal, or the refusal to clothe the naked illegal, or to make it a legal requirement to visit people who are sick or in prison or to invite in strangers. I seem to recall someone mentioning the failure to do those things and a lake of fire.

    *Well, that and how homosexuals should be forbidden from making boring legal contracts with each other because God hates fags.
    posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:17 PM on June 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


    "freely available contraception" does not equal "Value free sex". Remember the articles above, citing studies that say pregnancy and abortion rates are highest where abstinence "education" is the norm. It's. Not. Working.

    I was using contraception. I conceived. I was married. I was not living "in immorality".

    "I am for parents taking responsibility for educating their own children according to their own beliefs regarding sexuality and contraception."

    Great, we agree on that. I was taught that abortion wasn't desirable, but it was available should I or my siblings or friends needed it. By my parents. My Catholic parents.

    "I am for people taking responsibility for their own actions"

    I did that.
    posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 8:17 PM on June 8, 2008


    "The fact we have abortion only lessens our respect for children."

    No. We didn't have respect for children before. We barely have respect for them now. Abortion's legality has nothing to do with that.

    In fact it was worse for children before. Read the article I linked to before. If the mother's couldn't take care of the infants and children, they were left to die, or neglected. Just like today.
    posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 8:22 PM on June 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


    I have tried to be exceedingly reasonable in discussing this with you, konolia, because I understand the position where you are coming from- I was there once. But you have routinely refused to answer my questions in good faith.
    I changed my mind after I realized that I was considering things in a vacuum. I was not considering what the actual, real world is like. As much as you want to, you can delude yourself by thinking about how things "should be", and would be, except for all of those people who believe different from you, but that does not change the facts on the ground. If Roe vs. Wade is overturned, adult women will die. Children will be unwanted, they will be abused, some of them will be orphaned. If you believe this does not affect you, understand that crime rates will go up, because poverty will increase.
    You need to take responsibility for what you believe. You need to take responsibility for the fact that, if your ideas are enacted through legislature, there will be terrible repercussions.
    I know where you are coming from, I've been there, and it does bother me when people patronize your beliefs by referring to "your invisible friend". But you have to understand that a) others do not share your beliefs, b) this is not because they are deluded or addicted to sin, but because they have found they cannot countenance them, and c) public policy decisions must be affected by the actual conditions as they exist. Abortion exists, it has always existed, and the probability of it existing as long as there are people seems pretty good. With that in mind, we need to figure out the best way of dealing with this situation.
    Finally, I tend to discuss this in a very abstract way, because, for me, it is still abstract. I am male, and as such cannot get pregnant. Although the issue certainly affects me and my friends, I am not literally having my life threatened by the public policy. Because of this, I can consider the issue from some distance. But I know a lot of people for whom abortion is a very, very personal issue, and when you diminish the reasons why they made a very, very difficult decision, you have to understand that people will probably react with some vitriol.
    posted by 235w103 at 8:24 PM on June 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


    And if a woman is foolhardy enough to try to do something on her own all we can do is get her to a hospital and try to save her life.

    There will be an interesting difference if abortion were illegalized today in that, at least for now, we have the almost completely free flow and availability of information over the internet. Just as you see druggie types today trading information about illegal drug effects and safety, you would see sites spring up which discussed homebrew and illicit abortion methods with much more complete information than was available by word of mouth when abortion was previously illegal. For example, already, here are instructions (which I cannot vouch for the accuracy of and certainly can't recommend anyone attempt) for the performance of an early-term abortion. I can certainly imagine there would be much discussion of natural non-surgical abortaficients and attempts to arrive at the safest formulae. This means that while re-prohibiting abortion would still decrease ease of access to abortion and increase the danger, these effects would be lessened at least somewhat compared to earlier days.
    posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:34 PM on June 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


    but somehow you never talk about making the refusal to feed the hungry illegal, or the refusal to clothe the naked illegal, or to make it a legal requirement to visit people who are sick or in prison or to invite in strangers

    You know, I could totally get behind that idea.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:09 PM on June 8, 2008


    You have just stated that you are destructive to our society. Our society is not a monoculture. More importantly, my personal society is one in which the practicality of operating a multicultural, multifaith is of paramount importance.

    My society is one that has shown an ability to work for a large society. Theocracies that have managed to exist multigenerationally have only the tiniest of populations in comparison to the global population.

    Theocracies, very simply, do not function on large scale without creating big social problems: civil revolution or mass imprisonment/slavery. The people either overthrow the church rulers, or the leader/demagogue becomes an object of worship (c.f. North Korea).

    What you want can not exist on this earth. That is why it is not heaven.

    Which leaves us with the practical matter of making the best of a bad situation by minimizing suffering.

    What you want can not be had in this world. Please stop trying.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:24 PM on June 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Er, the above was addressed to konolia.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:25 PM on June 8, 2008


    Either it is okay to kill inconvenient life, or it isn't.

    You clearly have never had to deal with bedbugs, konolia.
    posted by $5 at 12:43 AM on June 9, 2008


    And there you have it. Self evidently konolia does *NOT* believe that abortion is exactly equal to murder. Or that a fetus is exactly the same as a two year old.

    The central lie of the so-called "pro-life" movement stands naked before us, illustrating why it is impossible to have a real discussion with pro-lifers. They won't tell the truth about their own position, and you can't talk reasonably with someone who is lying to you (and possibly to themselves).

    It isn't about babies, it never has been about babies, is about social control plain and simple.
    posted by sotonohito at 4:22 AM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Oh, Konolia. I tried, but I just can't help myself (a moral failing, I'm sure):

    How many of you read that other thread on the front page about the "baby farmers" that took children from unwed mothers ostensibly to care for them but instead murdered them? How many of you thought that those who committed these acts were evil human beings?

    And how many of those babies would not have been born into a world where such things happened if contraception had been available to their mothers? Call me crazy, but I'm thinking your typical Victorian era servant girl probably:

    1. knew as much about contraception as your typical "la la la la I can't hear you" abstinence-only sex ed student today

    2. had a higher chance of having been raped than, say, your typical office temp today does by the heads of their respective workplaces, with less opportunity for recourse.

    3. had no idea that the baby farmers were up to no good, at least not early on, and were trying to make the best of a bad situation

    I am not for anything that increases immorality. I am for parents taking responsibility for educating their own children according to their own beliefs regarding sexuality and contraception. I am for people learning how to control their own bodies in holiness and honor. I am for people taking responsibility for their own actions and for the consequenses of same.

    I'm for parents, schools and every other educational institution that touches childrens' lives giving them FACT- and REALITY-based education about sexuality. If you want to prevent abortions, then tell how to actually prevent them. Give them the skills to make good decisions in all aspects of their life.

    Think about it this way: as an adult, chances are there are quite a few things you do that you know you shouldn't. Smoke a cigarette, eat another ice cream sandwich, whatever. You, as an adult, lack the willpower to put the yummy treat away. How in the hell can you expect a teen who's got

    a. raging hormones and
    b. a still-underdeveloped brain, particularly as regards decisionmaking capabilities, to do better than you when making decisions?

    So the best you can do, really, since you can't lock them up in a veal calf crate until they're 18 (at least not legally), is empower them to take care of their bodies, to be as responsible as a teenager can be, and to know the facts before they decide to get wriggly with Pimply-Faced Teen Dreamboat #1. Otherwise, this is what you get.
    posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:15 AM on June 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


    Is anyone anywhere tracking data on women who terminate their pregnancies, their socio-economic backgrounds, and the reasons they made that choice? If, somehow, this incredibly sensitive data exists- I would really like to study it.
    posted by mistsandrain at 8:38 AM on June 7


    I'm surprised nobody has answered this yet. You want the Guttmacher Institute, especially their abortion overview.
    posted by joannemerriam at 12:47 PM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Reminds me of Dr. Larch. The Lord's work. What a brilliant article. Thanks for posting it.
    posted by fiercecupcake at 4:20 PM on June 9, 2008


    Or more to the point, bitter-girl, or perhaps closer to home: this is what happens.
    my daughter, who is very prolife, and stuck to that when she found herself pregnant and unwed
    If said daughter had received a full education, her chances of becoming pregnant out of wedlock would have been greatly reduced.

    Which isn't to say having a child as a teenager is necessarily bad. There were recent headlines about a study which discovered that a good many young parents go one to get good educations and good jobs, and generally live a successful life.

    Indeed, I think it's better to pop 'em out while young than when older. Having a child at home at age sixty would suck a whole lot more than having them out of the house by age forty.
    posted by five fresh fish at 5:17 PM on June 9, 2008


    Well, I'm actually fairly impressed with how well this discussion has gone. Bravo to everyone.

    And in particular, although I disagree vehemently with her on virtually all of her stated positions in this area, I'd like to give an additional bravo to konolia, just for keeping MeFi from turning into one big circle-jerk. I think it's important that everyone come face to face, or at least argument to argument, with those they disagree with occasionally, and it's one of the reasons I enjoy this venue so much.

    As for my personal views, being male it's all a bit academic, and my first inclination has always been to refrain from judgment on the question one way or the other, since I am anatomically disqualified from pregnancy. However, more recently I've changed my view slightly, since I think it's my responsibility to do what I can to stop evil when I see it being perpetrated, even if I'm not necessarily its target.

    And I think the "pro-life" movement, as it exists in actual fact in the United States today, is evil.

    I don't use that word very lightly, and without getting into a lot of unpacking of exactly how I define the concept of evil, I think it's something that will result in a great deal of unnecessary real-world human suffering, for irrational ideological reasons.

    On an individual level, I do not think that most people involved in "pro-life" groups are themselves evil; it's the movement as a whole that's troublesome. (In fact I don't think it's necessary that any individual be overtly bad in order that an organization be so; a thousand misdirected good intentions can have the same effect as one overtly antisocial act.) It's a mistake to try and characterize all pro-lifers as sex-hating slut-punishers, since it probably doesn't describe the actual motivations of very many as they see themselves. However, that's the effect of the movement as a whole.

    All the talk about 'making every child valued' is crap; it's never, ever going to happen. I guess I can see, in the abstract, how it might be a nice platitude. But human life is too easy to create, and raising a child (even just bearing a child) is too arduous and resource-intensive for a pregnancy to always be viewed as a blessing. I can't really even conceive of a society, operating according to anything approaching real-world laws (where the available energy, resources, and time are finite) where this would always be the case, nor can I think of any historical examples where this has been the case.

    Banning abortion only makes sense in a world where that condition has already been achieved. (And really, if that condition was achieved, banning abortion wouldn't be necessary, would it?) It does nothing to bring us closer to that state, and would probably only lead to more unwanted children -- making them less valued, and less precious -- having the effect of moving us further from it. Not to mention the needless suffering on the part of women who did seek abortions in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

    Nobody benefits by causing more unwanted children to be brought into the world, and that's all that restricting abortions would do. It's madness, yet it tries to cloak itself in the sheep's clothing of good intentions, and I think that's what I find most insidious and disturbing about it.

    We could move a lot closer to a world where every child was desired and wanted, and where there were more resources available for each of them throughout their lifetimes, and where they would be less likely to die pointlessly in wars or famines, but the way to move closer to that would be with more widespread contraception, education, and, yes, abortion. The way to make every child valued is to stop people from feeling that they have to have children they don't ardently and deeply desire. That the pro-life movement has managed to distort and turn around something that's so plainly obvious on its face is perhaps its greatest victory.
    posted by Kadin2048 at 5:31 PM on June 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


    konolia, if -- on the off chance that you're interested in another's experience -- please email me via my profile.

    i wish i had been aborted. i wish i had not been born. i'm almost 40 years old, and every day of my life i wish i had the strength to commit suicide.

    you cannot possibly know the abject misery of knowing that neither of your parents wanted you to be born, unless you've been there. you cannot even imagine how it feels to hear, separately and repeatedly, over years and years, from your own parents' mouths, that they wish you'd never been born.

    for my mom, i was an effort to bring a disintigrating family together. for my father, i was a way to shut my mom up. when, within my first year of life, each parent realized that their goal with bringing me into this world was not going to be reached, they were left with a person whose life was inalterably devastated.

    life is not always a gift. sometimes, it is a curse. whenever you weep for the dead unborn, take a moment and consider this: isn't it possible that they're lucky? lucky not to have been born into a situation where, due to the fact that they are unwanted, they might be neglected, abused, tortured, or any number of other heinous activities?

    i'm not trying to tell you you're wrong for holding your opinions. but when i read comments like yours in this thread, i feel compelled to share my experience. ANYONE who refuses to take quality of life issues into consideration is a hypocrite.
    posted by CitizenD at 6:14 PM on June 9, 2008


    Unprotected and Assaulted: 14 Year Old Raped and Denied Abortion.

    A fine example of that much-vaunted pro-life compassion. Save an unborn life by essentially destroying an existing life. Poor kid will end up committing suicide at this rate.
    posted by five fresh fish at 6:28 PM on June 9, 2008


    A further example of how, in the reality-based world, access to abortion is of overall benefit to our society: crime rates drop dramatically. This makes sense, of course.

    Konolia, I completely get where you're coming from: in a perfect world, what you want would be possible.

    What I don't understand is how you justify creating greater harm in the name of attempting to accomplish the impossible.

    How can you think God finds greater harm in the name of impossible goals to be preferable to lesser harm in the name of practical society?
    posted by five fresh fish at 6:45 PM on June 9, 2008


    I think the title of this one says it all:
    Teen Sex Realities Not Speculation Should Drive Sex Ed
    . Even if it does disprove something I'd previously thought, that teens were using oral and anal sex as subsititutes for vaginal intercourse in order to remain "technical" virgins.
    posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:57 AM on June 10, 2008


    Interesting article, bitter.
    posted by Snyder at 1:10 PM on June 10, 2008


    Konolia? Answer re: whether God would want us to attempt to create Heaven on Earth, when doing so increases the number of people suffering? Please?
    posted by five fresh fish at 6:31 PM on June 10, 2008


    FFF, this world IS suffering. The key is suffering is not meant to be eternal.
    posted by konolia at 7:02 PM on June 10, 2008


    But I agree that utopia is impossible -in our own strength.

    We aren't supposed to be depending on our own strength.
    posted by konolia at 7:03 PM on June 10, 2008


    Sigh.

    I think I write pretty damned clearly, so I find it very frustrating when you weasel out of answering a question.

    You are a religious deceiver: you claim to do God's work, but accomplish Satan's goals.

    Christ's ultimate commandment is simple: Love one another as He loved us.

    I believe it is utterly impossible to uphold that commandment by causing greater misery among others. Banning abortion will factually cause greater misery. The evidence for this fact abounds.

    Enough of this, then. I cease to participate in this thread. It's obviously futile: you are bound and determined that you are right, and have decided that your rightness makes it permissible to hurt other people in the name of achieving your theocratic goals.

    What's really and truly ironic is that I have no doubt whatsoever that I'm a better Christian, by Christ's own terms, than you. And I'm a freakin' atheist!

    You should be deeply ashamed, konolia, deeply ashamed.
    posted by five fresh fish at 8:40 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


    I find it very frustrating when you weasel out of answering a question.

    When you accept it as her M.O., you'll find it less frustrating. More pitiable, really.

    You should be deeply ashamed, konolia, deeply ashamed.

    Ah, but it's her very shamelessness regarding her hypocrisy -- and therefore her role in perpetuating the very real misery that comes as a result of it -- that allows her to keep weaseling out of every pertinent direct question. She cannot be made to account for, even in her own mind, that which she refuses to face.

    The two conditions together create a veritable ouroboros of bad faith -- the motor that keeps the most evil ideologies alive in the name of righteousness. No one is so blind as she who will not see.
    posted by scody at 9:20 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Heh. Next-morning caveat: by Christ's own terms, excepting the silliness about caring more about the Enki-analogue instead of real, living human beings. As an atheist, I obviously fail at the god-worshipping component! I should hope, however, that I live my life quite in accordance with the univeral religious laws (which are, in the end, universal laws for maintaining a long-term society): kindness and charity toward others, forgiveness and love toward those who hurt.
    posted by five fresh fish at 7:18 AM on June 11, 2008


    Are you saying that my daughter, who is very prolife, and stuck to that when she found herself pregnant and unwed, wants to control women and doesn't care about babies?

    If she thinks other women should be forced by law to make the same choice she did, then yes, I would say that.

    in the early Seventies, what WAS true was that a woman who found herself pregnant and unwed wanted an abortion because the stigma was so incredibly bad. She wanted to hide the evidence she'd had sex. These days, not too many people give a flip about the marital state of a pregnant woman.


    Other people's opinions about unwed pregnancy are certainly not the only reason, or even an important reason, why someone might want to abort a pregnancy.

    Problem is, she would have taken care of her sin with another sin.

    This is only a problem for her, or for anyone who believes the action is simple. I think that once again you're making the error of thinking that your worldview should apply to everyone and form the basis of law for everyone. In a diverse civil society, it can't and shouldn't. "Taking responsbility" means understanding where your worldview begins and ends; it ends when you try to force your ideas of what is sinful on someone else. It doesn't matter to me that you think abortion is sinful; I don't, and my vote is as powerful as yours and my soul as valuable as yours. Why would I support any law using "konolia's ideas about sinfulness" as justification?
    posted by Miko at 9:32 AM on June 11, 2008


    Make that "simple" into "sinful" - "for anyone who believes the action is sinful." /needs more coffee
    posted by Miko at 9:34 AM on June 11, 2008


    Obama: The Real Pro-Life Candidate
    posted by homunculus at 11:43 AM on June 11, 2008


    once again you're making the error of thinking that your worldview should apply to everyone and form the basis of law for everyone. In a diverse civil society, it can't and shouldn't.

    Yes, "everybody should believe what I believe" is exactly what it comes down to. konolia said it herself:

    I agree that utopia is impossible -in our own strength.

    We aren't supposed to be depending on our own strength.


    We're supposed to subscribe to and depend on her God's strength (and supposed moral values) as we strive for utopia. Right actions or behaviour, ie your kindness and charity toward others, forgiveness and love toward those who hurt, fff, are necessary but not sufficient, in the worldview of many Christians, to live a fully righteous life. Not without God's grace (which I gather is acceptance of Jesus as one's Saviour, or something).

    I thought about replying to that last statement of hers, but really, what is else is there to say - that's constructive, I mean - to someone who feels in her very blood and bone and breath, the Imperative to shepherd all of humanity onto her One True Path regardless of mortal hurts and griefs?
    posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:36 PM on June 11, 2008


    Bizarro says it well. Be as religious and faithful as you want to be. Just don't be a jerk about it.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:01 AM on June 14, 2008


    And yet another example of how religionist creeps are hurting women: ambulance drivers who refuse to transport patients to hospital for emergency abortions.

    Fucking insane.
    posted by five fresh fish at 10:48 PM on June 17, 2008


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