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Witness to a womb
March 17, 2009 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Sixteen states already have laws [PDF] related to abortion ultrasounds . Eleven more states have recently introduced bills that demand that a woman who wants an abortion be forced to look at the ultrasound, while a doctor describes what she is seeing. All of these bills are because the legislators believe that adoption is the only choice a woman should make. This essay, On Living Pro-Lifer's Choice for Women, explores the difficulties faced by birth mothers who choose that path.
posted by dejah420 (505 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Next up: Tumorous growths, and why you should keep yours so that you can get it in the Guinness Book of Records.

"Do you see what it's doing there? I know the ultrasound is pretty grainy, but what it's doing there is metastasizing. Say that with me: me-ta-stas-iz-ing. Neat, huh?"

"It hurts so much, doc."

"Nonsense, it's all in your mind. Wow, this is going to look great in a really big jar."

"What was that?"

"Nothing, nothing. Do you want the lime Jell-O, or the orange flavoured?"
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:15 PM on March 17, 2009 [14 favorites]


"Haha, I was just kidding. You get the orange flavor. That's what everyone gets."
posted by Mister_A at 8:17 PM on March 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


All women, along with all homosexuals, need to move to Canada already.
posted by chunking express at 8:19 PM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I get the impression that people who are pro-life assume that mothers will be forced to get abortions otherwise.

Tangentially related: "If abortion is made illegal, how should the mothers be punished?"
posted by flatluigi at 8:22 PM on March 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Canada?
posted by acro at 8:23 PM on March 17, 2009


There's a similar practice in India, interesting to see it making its way to the US.
posted by mullingitover at 8:24 PM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


chunking express, you've got it wrong. Send all the pro-lifers to Malta .
posted by kldickson at 8:26 PM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


On the subject of bludgeoning people with unpleasant imagery, I've always liked the idea of making anyone who votes republican spend a few hours pouring over pictures of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and listening to testimony from their families.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:35 PM on March 17, 2009 [25 favorites]


Oh, there's more: the Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill requiring providers to report to the state on medical diagnoses for particular abortion procedures. In addition, this bill inserts politics into the doctor-patient relationship by requiring that doctors inform certain patients that the procedure will terminate a “whole, separate, unique, living human being.”
posted by dejah420 at 8:39 PM on March 17, 2009


Wow. That last link is one hell of an essay, on a subject that I've never seen in print before, anywhere.

On an instinctive level, I know that carrying a pregnancy to term and then giving up the baby would be absolutely heart-wrenching, and an option that I would likely not consider. But I've never sat down and compared how I'd feel after an abortion (a little sad to consider what may have been?) to how I'd feel after giving up a baby. No wonder the anti-choice brigade doesn't mention it very often.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 8:45 PM on March 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


Perhaps a similar law should be instituted for whenever a person decides to spend money on non-vital goods or services. Make them look at pictures of starving children that the money would be better spent on.

I recognize that people irrationally discount their obligations to people that aren't close to them, or that are for some other reason invisible, but this seems to me exactly the wrong approach to enacting change.
posted by voltairemodern at 8:58 PM on March 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


On the subject of bludgeoning people with unpleasant imagery, I've always liked the idea of making anyone who votes republican spend a few hours pouring over pictures of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and listening to testimony from their families.

I'm with you. The Obama voters (me included) can be spared the Iraq ones and instead ponder just the Afghanistan ones, and the phrase "lesser of two evils."
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:59 PM on March 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


Like our healthcare system isn't fucked up as it is, we want to enact laws to make reproductive healthcare for our nation's women even worse. We need to throw every right-wing asshole in this country in jail and keep them there, until they get a fucking clue.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:06 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can I get serious for a minute?

'Cause I did not need that forced view of an ultrasound to sway me into keeping my baby. I was not the first college girl who found herself pregs yet I was just as mortified and scared. I say pass laws that let (force?) the mothers see their child. In FULL BLOODY COLOUR in the womb and on the screen.

I am pro-choice, but not a fan of an uninformed decision.
posted by will wait 4 tanjents at 9:15 PM on March 17, 2009


freshwater_pr0n said : Wow. That last link is one hell of an essay, on a subject that I've never seen in print before, anywhere.

It came across on my bioethics list, and I was just blown away by it. We hear a lot of stories about birth mothers who have been found by their child, and we have explored the ethics of both the adopted child and the parents who adopt, but there is an astounding lack of exploration of what birth mothers think, the ethics of how birth mothers are treated after the baby is born, the potential need for counseling and the ethics of access to their biological children.

I've spent a lot of my life volunteering with reproductive rights organizations, and I studied bioethics at the graduate level. My thesis was on the ethics of postmortem prenatal ventilation. I say that just to say that I'm astounded that *I* never thought about the ethics of the treatment of birth mothers *after* the birth. It blows my mind that I could have been so incredibly blind to such a huge segment of the argument. I've spent most of my life thinking about bioethics issues that impact women, and I'm astounded at myself for not even thinking about the post-adoption biological mother's side of things.
posted by dejah420 at 9:20 PM on March 17, 2009 [15 favorites]



I am pro-choice, but not a fan of an uninformed decision.

You've missed the point. Forcing a woman to get an ultrasound tour isn't about "informing" them about anything. If it was, the laws would also mandate an in-depth discussion of the health risks involved in pregnancy and childbirth and the emotional consequences of giving up a child for adoption.

I say pass laws that let (force?) the mothers see their child.

It seems that you don't understand the distinction. That explains a lot.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 9:29 PM on March 17, 2009 [54 favorites]


I spent a semester in Embryology looking at embryos. I could abort a fetus every day of the week. They don't have wee pacifiers and blankies in there.

The real issue is that these measures make the procedure cost more, thus further chipping away at choice for poor women. Rich women have always and will always have access to abortion.
posted by winna at 9:31 PM on March 17, 2009 [54 favorites]


So....women can't otherwise ask to see an ultrasound? How can 'state' and 'demand' and 'force' sound pleasant in any reasoning persons ear when it comes to a decision like this?

"but there is an astounding lack of exploration of what birth mothers think, the ethics of how birth mothers are treated after the baby is born, the potential need for counseling and the ethics of access to their biological children."

Yes, yes there is. Birth fathers aren't even on the radar.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:38 PM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


And they say American doesn't torture anymore.

Honestly, forcing a woman to look at an ultrasound doesn't make her decision any more informed - it just makes the whole procedure cost more, both monetarily and emotionally.
posted by crossoverman at 9:41 PM on March 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


Um.... What if you're blind?
posted by Talez at 9:42 PM on March 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


I could abort a fetus every day of the week. They don't have wee pacifiers and blankies in there.

Hell, they look positively creepy at 7 weeks
posted by footnote at 9:43 PM on March 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


*WARNING: potentially long rant to follow*

The anti-abortion pro-life argument in a nutshell: life begins at conception, so you cannot kill it even in the womb.

What they completely expect you to forget or not deduce: you do not have a single memory of being in the womb, or of the delivery, or of those first few days. Your soul was not receiving brain transmissions until far after being on the planet for a while (6 months, a year? when? who knows...). If anyone has memories of these things, speak up, I want to hear them...

Why? Let's put it this way: God made us body and soul. God must be smart enough to put in a simple mechanism for the soul to not feel a thing if something were to go wrong. In other words, we (our souls) all could have been aborted/miscarried at one time or another, multiple times, not feeling a damn thing.

I have gotten into some pretty heated debates with a rather devoted Catholic on the issue, and in every one of those arguments (during the 2008 campaign of all things), I never thought about my first memories or when I (my soul) actually knew of 'life,' all I cared about was the present. Thus it never occured to me that this could be a strong counterargument. Of course, they could have some response to that as well. In short, they have a fun way of keeping you in the present, and in that present casting the property of life and all of its blessings onto a fetus, and not even thinking there is something wrong here. The primary counterargument should have never been womens' rights (yet that is a great one), it should have been when do our souls start to pick up on life, when do they truly have an attachment to this body??? Yet we live in a society whose political platform for battle seems to invoke God but not the souls God seeks to raise, thus seemingly making that argument impossible (IMHO).

I hope to not seem insane, but the whole pro-life movement gets me so angry, because it effin votes for the party who would be more likely to send this world into nuclear war. Sure as hell life begins at conception but seems to end shortly after, either at 18 when the kid is ripe for military battle, or anytime before or after due to international negotiations that fell towards a rather violent outburst. That's just the worst case scenario: a failing economy and brainwashing theocracy are close runner ups. In other words: pro-life really means pro-death in the worst of ways imaginable.

The blog post you linked to just cements my frustration and will to flip this around. Trying to make women keep a child on the basis of arguments anchored in present thought, and not of those of the past (i.e. first memories). Trying to elect governing officials for the sole purpose of pushing an INSANE agenda without regard to the world they will create on other issues. It is empathetic ONLY to fetuses (is that plural fetus?) who may or may not (more than likely not) have a soul, and carelessly unempathetic to the people who are already born, who need support, who need a solid human family/community to grow into something that can bring change to a world that desperately needs something positive, and then die in peace knowing, not just believing, they worked their ass off and made good use of their time on this planet.

*end rant...*
posted by JoeXIII007 at 9:45 PM on March 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Young women are not convenient baby farms for infertile couples, as so many pro-lifers seem to think.
posted by fshgrl at 9:51 PM on March 17, 2009 [17 favorites]


Um.... What if you're blind?

"Ma'am, I need you to put your hand in this jar. Yes, I understand it smells strongly - the fluid you are submerging your hand in is called formaldehyde. We use it to preserve organic specimens. Now, do you feel that? Down the bottom? That sort of wet sponge thing, but a little raw-chicken-skin-ey? No, don't move around like that, you're stirring up all the sediment. Oh, it's gone all cloudy. Never mind. Feel it? Yes, like a steamed dim-sim, good point. Well, that's what's growing inside you!"
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:52 PM on March 17, 2009 [18 favorites]


They are creepy at that stage, indeed. But do you all know the first thing the blastocyst does once it rolls on into the uterus? It secretes enzymes to dissolve the uterine wall and lives in a pool of the woman's blood!

Seriously.


I loved that class. It was better than any horror movie ever made.
posted by winna at 9:54 PM on March 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh America, why do you hate America Women?
posted by fullerine at 9:56 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Alternately, maybe women who are thinking of bringing taking their pregnancies to term should be forced to watch a DVD about how our over-reproducing species is killing the planet and cramming the earth with teeming billions of unneeded babies.

Or maybe doctors should just be responsible for offering, you know, useful medical advice?
posted by washburn at 9:59 PM on March 17, 2009 [20 favorites]


Smedleyman, actually there has been a lot of movement in putative rights for biological fathers. It's been on the bioethics radar for at least 25 years, and has been slowly but surely changing in legal application.
posted by dejah420 at 10:00 PM on March 17, 2009


Or maybe we could stop working our societal bullshit out via the reproductive health of women. A radical thought, I know.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:04 PM on March 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


When Pro-Life Women Choose Abortion.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 10:04 PM on March 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


Culture war issue I'm curious about: whence the alliance between culturally-right men and culturally-right women? There are some culture-war issues that mostly women are interested in (abortion), and some that mostly men are interested in (gun rights). What holds together the coalition of anti-abortion women and pro-gun men?
posted by grobstein at 10:16 PM on March 17, 2009


(To clarify my previous remark, the idea that the abortion debate pits men -- pro-life -- against women -- pro-choice -- is erroneous. In fact, more men are pro-choice and more women are pro-life.)
posted by grobstein at 10:19 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just saw the whole "Life starts at" argument put into a completely new light (for me) at Pharyngula:

Life does not start at conception, it starts waaaaay before. The gametes (sperm and egg in our case) are already alive when they meet. Life started only once (maybe there were other doomed starts, but life as we know it started only once) a few billion years ago, and has been a continuous process ever since.

Back on topic, would a Flying Spaghetti Monster strategy work here? Get organized and push laws that force people to watch the most gruesome possible footage of car accident victims before getting or renovating their license? Force anyone buying a gun to watch a few hours of videos of people getting shot and bleeding to death? I am sure it could be wrapped in the exact same kind of justifications and language that are being used for this laws.
posted by dirty lies at 10:20 PM on March 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


flatluigi "If abortion is made illegal, how should the mothers be punished?"

I get the point, I really do, and I'm sure that if these people were capable of independent thought they wouldn't be conservatives, but it is perfectly possible to make abortion illegal and not punish the (un-)mothers at all. The punishments target doctors (and related professions). Performance or procuration of an abortion has been, and still is, illegal in many jurisdictions, where undergoing an abortion is not.

Of course if doctors cannot legally perform abortions they will still be performed, just at much greater risk to the women.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:38 PM on March 17, 2009


For anyone else interested in the experience of a woman who placed a child for adoption, I recommend Kateri's blog. This post is a good place to start, and has several links to other posts of hers. The "birthmother" category is good for further reading.
posted by peep at 10:42 PM on March 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Performance or procuration of an abortion has been, and still is, illegal in many jurisdictions, where undergoing an abortion is not.

In America? Perhaps I'm being naive, but I thought that was unconstitutional.
posted by grobstein at 10:43 PM on March 17, 2009


Do they pry the lady's eyes open, a la A Clockwork Orange?

Also from above:

If abortion is made illegal, how should the mothers be punished?

That would be an oxymoron, ja?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:55 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


dejah420 - huh. I stand corrected. Wasn't on the radar a while ago. Or didn't seem like it anyway. Thanks.

"If anyone has memories of these things, speak up, I want to hear them..."

Well, metaphysical arguments shouldn't hold up anyway. The memory thing - you remember exactly what you did yesterday? Every minute? So the question of who and what we really are and where we really begin is a heavy philosophical one. But it is one I think the state has no business being involved in. The U.S. constitution gives us the right to pursue happiness, nothing in there about what form the pursuit or the happiness should take.
And the whole separation of church and state thing on top of it. It should be a moot point really.
I mean - ok, human life begins at conception and it has a soul. So?
The state is limited to only the practical realities of living, not extended concepts. And 'soul' shouldn't even be in its vocabulary.
Same deal with the right to die. People kicked over that with metaphysics when you had an actual well evolved individual where there's no question of faculty (70, 80, 90 years of experience, maybe a living will on top of it) saying clearly, and with lawyers "I want out."
State going to make sure the guy's going to heaven is it? Silly. I can't imagine why religious folks would want the state even involved. Hypocrites and poseurs - plenty of motivation.

This just seems like a slanted Rorschach test "What do you see?" "A smudge." "Do you see a child?" "No." "Don't you see a baby?" "No." "Are you sure, you filthy whore?"

Actually, I might be behind getting people to watch videos of gunshot wounds. Voluntarily (though I get what you did there) but I think way too many people don't get how bad it sucks to get shot, especially from the movies. Your hair gets shoved in there, whatever clothing that the bullet went through, plus all the germs. Guys who wear ties are almost certainly dead if they get shot there (when's the last time you washed a tie? Plus some of your vitals are along that line, and it makes a great target) which irritates the hell out of me about some law enforcement types.

But yeah, if these folks were honestly pro-more information, they'd be pro-contraception literature, support services, all that. I think some folks dodge the gruesome practical and emotional realities of it. Thinking about my daughter potentially having sex (too young still) makes me want to put my head through a brick wall. But damn, you have to talk about this stuff realistically if you want real results, for their own protection. Just seems crazy otherwise.

Y'know... is there any money in forcing women to look at ultrasounds?
posted by Smedleyman at 10:57 PM on March 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


Guys who wear ties are almost certainly dead if they get shot there (when's the last time you washed a tie? . . .)

Never thought of this and am in awe.
posted by grobstein at 11:00 PM on March 17, 2009


There's also The Girls Who Went Away, which is a collection of accounts of women who gave their children away before abortion was legal.

A lot of the tactics used to shame women into relinquishing their child remain the same.
posted by winna at 11:01 PM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am pro-choice, but personally I don't agree with the idea of abortion in most cases. You should take responsibility for your actions in life.

But again this is what I personally believe. As a nation we should be totally and completely pro-choice, since I can't agree with the ideas that are behind the pro-life movement.

That being said, I don't see how forcing a woman to see an ultrasound is something that is acting against their right for abortion. It's a big choice and to the potential life inside them the least they should do is learn a little about it.

You can say that they are forcing their opinions onto the birth mothers, but you make it sound like the birth mother has no responsibility for getting pregnant.

While I think the man should also be there, unless of course if it was a rape, I can't see how this is wrong. By preventing a woman to have an abortion is one thing, but to show her what exactly she is aborting is not wrong.

And I don't accept the argument that somewhere making the woman see an ultrasound is some form of torture. They're are aborting a potential life that they are responsible for creating. Knowing more about what they are aborting is not something we should shy away from. As a fucking adult you should at least be able to see what exactly you are doing and with that knowledge move forward. Please don't try to make it sound like abortion is something other than the last option.

Maybe I am bias but I know that I am an accident and I am glad that my mother felt the responsibility to give birth to me without a father in the picture. She was in school then too and the easy choice would have been to have an abortion.

Also I am agnostic before that argument comes up. So was my mother.
posted by Allan Gordon at 11:08 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am pro-choice, but personally I don't agree with the idea of abortion in most cases. You should take responsibility for your actions in life.

How is having an abortion being irresponsible? Or not taking responsibility for your actions? Is the only "responsible" option carrying an unwanted child to term? Your comment certainly suggests so.

the least they should do is learn a little about it.

What is this designed to teach them, exactly? Read the laws and the speech that comes with the ultrasound display carefully. Its purpose is not instructive, it's designed to admonish pregnant women, question their decisions, assume they can't assess their personal attitudes and morals on their own, and * make them feel awful about undergoing a procedure * which they are entitled to under law.

You can say that they are forcing their opinions onto the birth mothers, but you make it sound like the birth mother has no responsibility for getting pregnant.

Language like this, and in your comment above, suggests that you think becoming pregnant means a woman has done something wrong - either by getting pregnant or wanting to have an abortion - that she should take "responsibility" for. She is already responsible, because she is the one carrying the baby.

While I think the man should also be there

Why? So he can prevent the woman from having an abortion, if so moved? And if a law like this is only "fair" if the father is there, your notions of how this "should" work are out of touch with reality.

You say you're pro-choice. I believe you. But there are some glaring unresolved inconsistencies and logical fallacies in your approach to this issue.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 11:27 PM on March 17, 2009 [36 favorites]


I am pro-choice, but personally I don't agree with the idea of abortion in most cases. You should take responsibility for your actions in life.

Here is something to think about regarding this statement.

There are people out there that effectively use abortion as their means of birth control. I used to hate the concept of this, and felt that there should be limitations on how many abortions someone can get to prevent this from happening. Then I thought about it further, especially with the insight I got from my partner, who worked at Planned Parenthood for a while.

If someone is so irresponsible that they either will not use any other form of birth control even when it's offered to them for free, or they take it and can't seem to use it properly, what reason do we have to believe they will suddenly find that responsibility when they're denied the abortion and are forced to raise a child? Is it worth taking the chance that the child will be neglected, abused, or raised poorly by a known irresponsible adult in the hopes that it will teach them to take responsibility?

I came to realize that the people using abortion as birth control, as revolting as it is, are in fact the people that we don't want to stop from getting abortions, as they are clearly not together enough to give a child any sort of decent life.

I'm all for making someone take responsibility for their actions. I'm against doing it by essentially gambling on another life.
posted by evilangela at 11:27 PM on March 17, 2009 [46 favorites]


If someone is so irresponsible that they either will not use any other form of birth control even when it's offered to them for free...

Step 1: After Y abortions (not including those necessitated by medical circumstances or resulting from rape), force the woman to complete appropriate sex education courses and offer her free contraceptives for life. Step 2: after step 1 and Y+X abortions, sterilize the woman. Same rules for a man who is found to be responsible for some number of aborted pregnancies.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:42 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Three iterations of imbecile are enough.
posted by grobstein at 11:45 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The horrible and ironic flipside to this is that here in Korea for many years (and possibly still -- I'm not up on the latest developments) it was forbidden for doctors to reveal, in the course of performing ultrasounds, the gender of the fetus, because of the frequency of sex-selective abortion. In other words, if the fetus was revealed to be female, the assumption was that a significant percentage of parents, particularly if it was the first pregnancy or they had had girls previously, would choose to abort it.

The assumption was founded in statistics -- there is a 10% plus imbalance in male children over female born during the 90s in particular.

Strange creatures, us humans.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:51 PM on March 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


grobstein In America? Perhaps I'm being naive, but I thought that was unconstitutional.

Not naive, just parochial. World map.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:56 PM on March 17, 2009


How is having an abortion being irresponsible? Or not taking responsibility for your actions? Is the only "responsible" option carrying an unwanted child to term? Your comment certainly suggests so.

Hmmm. I view abortion as running away from the actions that have caused the pregnancy. Pragmatically I understand the values and benefits of abortion for a society, but again personally I don't usually agree with it. I'm not quite sure what that says about me, but that's my rationale on the matter.

What is this designed to teach them, exactly? Read the laws and the speech that comes with the ultrasound display carefully. Its purpose is not instructive, it's designed to admonish pregnant women, question their decisions, assume they can't assess their personal attitudes and morals on their own, and * make them feel awful about undergoing a procedure * which they are entitled to under law.

How they feel from seeing the ultrasound is something I cannot speak for because I am not them. Though I agree that the way the system is set up is wrong, I don't feel the idea of making a mother have an ultrasound is something that we should see as bad. Also why should they feel awful using your rationale if they truly believe that getting an abortion is the right thing to do.

Language like this, and in your comment above, suggests that you think becoming pregnant means a woman has done something wrong - either by getting pregnant or wanting to have an abortion - that she should take "responsibility" for. She is already responsible, because she is the one carrying the baby.

How is becoming pregnant wrong. I never said anything like that. I believe abortion to be the easy way out in most cases personally, but of course if you look at the big picture it's the right thing to do for society. This is something I have to come to terms with.

Why? So he can prevent the woman from having an abortion, if so moved? And if a law like this is only "fair" if the father is there, your notions of how this "should" work are out of touch with reality.

I don't really know how you got that from what I said. Did I say that a man should have the same rights as a woman in the decision of what to do with a pregnancy? No, okay so let's stop putting words in others people's mouths. My only point being is that if it is feasible I don't see anything wrong in making the father of the child be there as well. Perhaps his decision about his role in the child's future is the reason for the mother getting an abortion. But I highly doubt a state would pass such a law.

You say you're pro-choice. I believe you. But there are some glaring unresolved inconsistencies and logical fallacies in your approach to this issue.

I agree. I don't have the traditional view on abortion and other such matters, but I firmly believe in a woman's choice and the necessary role of abortion in a society. It's just that personally I can't really accept it. To me it feels as if they are running away from the responsibility that is inherent in a child. Perhaps an abortion really is the more responsible thing if you look at it from a global perspective, but still personally I can't see it as anything else than running away from your decisions in life.

@evilangela

Yeah. I would have to agree with you on that, but it's a hard thing to accept.
posted by Allan Gordon at 11:59 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, I thought inserting the government into a doctor-patient relationship was EVUL SOCIALISM!!!!!11111!eleventy!

Oh, right, that's only when Democrats ("Demon-rats!") try to make sure people can get health care.
posted by orthogonality at 12:03 AM on March 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


There are people out there that effectively use abortion as their means of birth control.

google abortion aftercare and see what the physical after effects of an abortion are. How many days some people take off work, how long the woman continues to bleed for, how long it us until she can have sex or use a tampon or basically any information at all on the effects of abortion and the aftermath. Then re-evaluate your statement that it's an anyway effective means of birth control.
posted by fshgrl at 12:37 AM on March 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


There are people out there that effectively use abortion as their means of birth control.

Then re-evaluate your statement that it's an anyway effective means of birth control.


Reading comprehension... ur doin it wrong.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:54 AM on March 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Treating another adult human being as if they have no ability to morally reason is one of the most disrespectful things I can imagine.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:04 AM on March 18, 2009 [13 favorites]


This 'legislation' is perpetrated by old men on women directly. This is discriminatory. A piece of legislation that discriminates doesn't belong. I noticed that men don't have to report to the state their relationship with their doctor...

Why do these old men hate women whom have every right to make their own choices and decisions in their life.

Not the land of the free anymore if you are a woman, clearly and the constant abuse heaped on them by this legislation is apocryphal.

I stand by the doctor and patient relationship and the state has no business what goes on between them. Slavery has ended, don't be staring up with it again, you moronic heads of state.
Speaking of why you were VOTED in for, when the hell are you going to give healthcare, affordable to everyone in Your state?


A hella great perspective from guest at Shakesville.
posted by alicesshoe at 2:24 AM on March 18, 2009


Arg. The anti-choice movement is as tenacious as it is backwards. For all their self-righteousness, these people demonstrate zero class. There's an outfit up here in Washington that does free pregnancy tests but gives you a little fetus doll to play with while they make the hard sell on carrying the pregnancy they're testing for to term. Not even the notion of proper adult boundaries, you know?

Now this pointless exercise of a compulsory ultrasound. These assholes aren't satisfied with patients having to look at the fetus pictures that the loser protesters wave around in the parking lot; they reckon they oughta get a look while they're talking to their doctor, too. And as the experience of the two women in the article demonstrates, their impact is nil to minimal, usually serving just to prop up the decision the patient had already made.

It's so tiresome to keep having arguments that tenth-grade biology should have settled. A fetus can't survive the mother, so, while every human being is a unique, irreplaceable organism with but one pass at existence on earth, you still can't set aside the cold fact that every human being starts out as a parasite with no more divine right to anyone else's organs than a tapeworm. And why does that even need pointing out? Why does it continue beyond establishing that someone else's organs are no one else's concern?

It's said a lot because it's absolutely true - anti-choice has nothing to do with saving lives and everything to do with punishing women for having sex. They think they're being reasonable when they suggest the child be given up for adoption. Sure, just a few months of nausea and hormone tsunamis, followed by a heart-shattering separation. No problem, right? It couldn't be plainer that they could give a fuck about the mothers; it's all about all them widdle biddy blastocysts.

I'd like to see some of these busybodies put their energy anywhere else. These housemarms, these angry, broken men and their fake fucking concern. They want to keep babies alive? 800,000 Tutsi that these anti-choicers don't give a fuck about were massacred in 1994. The Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 wiped out 225,000 people across eleven countries. The conflict in Sudan has ground up 500,000 people and counting. These people want a crusade? They oughta aim that fervor at relief efforts for the obscene numbers of people who have their lives cut short or shattered by all the poverty and violence that we're spared in the western world. Plenty of babies to save, promise. Plenty of food to hand out and malaria shots to give, too!

They wanna be pro-life? This is how. Quit bitching about a matter the grown-ups settled in the seventies and get your ass to Darfur where this pathological need of yours to "help people" might actually be fucking useful.

/high horse
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:11 AM on March 18, 2009 [54 favorites]


I view abortion as running away from the actions that have caused the pregnancy.

I don't think this is a very wise position to take. Pregnancy as a result of rape notwithstanding, I've yet to meet a woman who has decided to have an abortion (not that I've met many women who have had abortions, but a handful) simply because there were no condoms handy.

Circumstances change. A couple who may once have wished for a child may no longer care for the idea: their finances may be in a mess, one may be suffering from an illness, the couple may have split up and the female decides she cannot support the child on her own, and so on and so forth.

You speak of "actions" as though people don't have sex for fun. What a dull world that would be if we were only copulating just to procreate! Condoms break, pills are missed, a hundred thousand factors need to be factored into the act of copulation before one determines that a woman "deserved" to get pregnant. We consider ourselves so far beyond the rest of the species on this Earth, which are brute and base and primitive, which fuck only to further genes. But when it comes to humans making sex: oh you should only do that when you want to have a baby. Like it's a punishment. Getting saucy tonight, ladies? WELL CANCEL YOUR APPOINTMENTS FOR THE NEXT 18 YEARS!

Fuck that.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:15 AM on March 18, 2009 [18 favorites]


Maybe we should think about the children.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:21 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe we should think about the children.

When they are children, yeah we should. Until then, government should keep its hands off women's bodies.
posted by crossoverman at 3:57 AM on March 18, 2009 [11 favorites]


We need to throw every right-wing asshole in this country in jail and keep them there, until they get a fucking clue.

And as progressive liberal thought reaches its ultimate logical plateau we begin dimly to register the ominous drumbeat of jackboot on cobblestone...
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 4:13 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe we should think about the children.

If I agreed that fetuses were children, I'd probably share your point of view. But even so, I'd wonder about the ethics of politicians inserting themselves into medical treatment.

Ethically, what is an acceptable level of collateral damage in the war to bring every viable fetus to birth? Should mothers with dangerous medically compromising pregnancies who would prefer to outlive their fetus be forced to bring babies to term regardless of the risk to their own mortality? I know that hypothetical is a little far along the continuum from this, but please indulge me. Where is the cutoff line in terms of what politicians should do to interfere with a mother's right to life and autonomy? With a mother's right to obtain medical advice from her physician, and ethical advice from spiritual counselors and her own conscience (or absence thereof).
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:14 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


800,000 Tutsi that these anti-choicers don't give a fuck about were massacred in 1994. The Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 wiped out 225,000 people across eleven countries. The conflict in Sudan has ground up 500,000 people and counting.

Oh please, let's not be naive here. Pro-life operations are about two things: punishing women for having pre-marital sex (she is almost always assumed to be single, i.e. a married woman wouldn't need to have an abortion), and attempting to raise the birth rate of white babies (note that the protesters and protestees are both almost uniformly white in nearly every situation you see).

These are the same people who want to make English America's official language, who support a wall along the Mexican border, and want to restrict immigration, even though we're all the sons and daughters of immigrants (fuck you, got mine!) These people feel like their culture (white culture) is under attack, and if that wasn't enough, the white birth rate is on the decline. If they can't fight the former, they'll fight the latter, any way they can.
posted by explosion at 4:25 AM on March 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


ack

A fetus can't survive the mother should read A fetus can't survive without the mother sort of like that sentence couldn't survive with that one crucial word missing. Oy.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:28 AM on March 18, 2009


Sadly BrotherCaine, the line between scientifically-verifiable medical advice and subjectively-let-me-look-in-this-ancient-book ethical advice has become extremely blurred indeed. That's the whole key core fundamental primary issue. While the alleged "separation of church and state" remains nothing but lip service, this is going to continue to be an issue.

What I don't get is: why do people care about shit like this? So the next-door neighbour had an abortion? Well, let's pray for her. But while we're praying for her, let's not be volatile cunts. God apparently gave us all free will, let's allow her to exercise it. I'm not the final arbiter.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:28 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anecdotally, about a lifetime ago, my father used to drag me to Right To Life campaign's in front of Townsville's one and only family planning clinic. I was very, very young and obviously had no real idea what was going on, but the gist I got was that they were killing babies in there. Babies! Killing them! Using vacuum cleaners and implements of torture! We would stand in front of that fucking place for a couple of hours at a time, reading from the Psalms or the Catechism or whatever-the-fuck. I remember a few incidents where women, generally escorted by a male, would go in and the beginning of our little "service", and come out later on, in tears, ashen-faced. And I used to think, hey, maybe we're making them feel bad for murdering these little babies! And as fucked-up as it sounds, I got a little thrill out of that. Like, you heartless bitch, how do you feel now? I can see how that little thrill could become addictive. This pro-life bullshit is just an extension of that. It's a thrill. A game.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:34 AM on March 18, 2009 [21 favorites]


err obvious edits to above
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:42 AM on March 18, 2009


Why do people care about shit like this?

For the sincere pro-lifers? Ironically for the same reasons of fairness and autonomy that make me care about defending choice. Only the initial assumption that a fetus has or does not have some claim to life and autonomy differs. As much as I'd sometimes like to dismiss everyone who disagrees with me on this as part of some women hating patriarchal conspiracy, the reality is that the way banning abortion would affect women's autonomy is barely on some of these people's radar. What they see is a modern day holocaust of murder and horror, and the visceral impulse to take steps to end it probably seems much more urgent and important than any reflection on collateral damage.

I don't doubt that there are sincere pro-lifers, some completely outside of the realm of religious fundamentalists, including a hippie vegetarian anti-death penalty woman I knew.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:42 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I support this measure, but don't think it goes far enough. I think that every man, before he is allowed to masturbate, should be forced to look at two million separate pictures of children, so that he can see the faces of those he is killing by ejaculating those beautiful little half-babies and stealing their lives from them.

In the alternative, I think that these lawmakers, before passing these measures, should be forced to look at me hitting them in the face with a shovel.
posted by ND¢ at 4:48 AM on March 18, 2009 [15 favorites]


What they see is a modern day holocaust of murder and horror...

I know, and it's revolting. White cell structures gestating in the womb are worth more than black human entities staggering around in Africa. That's so disgusting.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:49 AM on March 18, 2009


PROTIP: Never take sex advice from a pro-lifer.

Also, keep in mind that many of the pro-lifers are also creotards. They don't know anything about biology.
posted by kldickson at 4:52 AM on March 18, 2009


every man, before he is allowed to masturbate, should be forced to look at two million separate pictures of children...

I look at maybe a dozen.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
I AM KIDDING OF COURSE.

It's a good point. Did you know that every time you piss, you sluice away some sperm? If you had sex with a woman (tell me what that's like btw) with the intent to conceive, and afterwards your bladder was full, and you had to go and pee, then holy shit, Hitler would blush.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:55 AM on March 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't doubt that there are sincere pro-lifers, some completely outside of the realm of religious fundamentalists, including a hippie vegetarian anti-death penalty woman I knew.

This issue does weird things to people. There was a girl I know in college who was so far to the left she made most MeFites look like Republican bankers, but on the wall over her bed was this anti-abortion poster graphic enough to make you gag.

She was later a contestant on a reality show.
posted by jonmc at 5:15 AM on March 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hmmm. I view abortion as running away from the actions that have caused the pregnancy.

So perhaps instead of abortion, the new procedure should be force the woman to have the baby, take it away from her right after birth, and force the man that impregnated her to raise the child single handedly.

That way he would not be able to run away from his actions that caused the pregnancy.

I'm guessing that if this were the norm, abortion would not only be legal in every state, but it would be free, convenient, and morally unambiguous.
posted by newpotato at 5:19 AM on March 18, 2009 [39 favorites]


I know, and it's revolting. White cell structures gestating in the womb are worth more than black human entities staggering around in Africa. That's so disgusting.

Really? Is this really how you think morality functions, or even should function? People in America don't not care about starving Africans because they are black, they don't care because they are a million miles away and they don't have any contact with them. Our sense of moral outrage (correctly, I believe) does not depend solely on the magnitude of others' suffering, it also depends upon our proximity and emotional connection to the sufferers. That's why I care more when a family member has had a bad day than when I see a homeless person on the street. I feel like most people experience empathy and compassion in a similar way, and I think this is on the whole a good thing, which occurs necessarily from having strong emotional bonds with others. Yes, you could arrive at a purely 'logical' morality, but only by sacrificing these emotional connections.

And for many pro-lifers, I'm willing to bet that the emotional aspect of their pro-life beliefs is sincere, quite strong, and well-intentioned. Yes, some of them are just misogynists, but a lot of them have either (a) had a bad experience with abortion, or have a family member who has had a bad experience, or (b) been raised in an evangelical Christian setting, or some other setting that both forms an emotional center for their life and worldview and contains strong pro-life doctrines or sentiments, or (c) have just arrived at the position on their own, for whatever reason.

If you're coming at the problem like me (that is, pro-choice and wishing to see pro-choice positions advance in society because I think it would be good for society as a whole as well as many of its individual members, without really harming anyone), what's the point of calling the pro-lifers 'disgusting'? Their belief is not rational, it's emotional (just like your pro-choice belief... I could give a whole bunch of examples of trollish kids in ethics classes I've taken saying stuff like, "when you think about it purely logically, if pre-birth abortion is OK, why not 'post-birth' abortion, too?). And people who believe things with their heart, not their head, do not take kindly to such arguments, and in fact just become more convinced of their own correctness. It's like "your favorite music sucks," but on a much larger and more important scale.

I think the pro-choice movement would have more success if it actually treated its opponents with some respect, or at least gave them the benefit of the doubt, rather than categorizing them with blanket statements like "disgusting," "misogynist," or "crazy Christian."
posted by notswedish at 5:24 AM on March 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


(not that I've met many women who have had abortions, but a handful)

Oh, you have. According to the CDC, averaged out across the US, 15 out of 1000 women aged 15 - 45 will have an abortion every year. I can't do the math on this, but according to a very vocal anti-abortion website, this means "an estimated 43% of all women will have at least 1 abortion by the time they are 45 years old."

Basically, live longer - you'll meet more of us.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:28 AM on March 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


Really? Is this really how you think morality functions, or even should function?

I don't think that's how morality functions. I think that's how pro-lifers function.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:29 AM on March 18, 2009


notswedish -

They're still disgusting, crazy Christians because they don't use their brain.

For the life of me, I don't know why there are so many idiots who put emotion before rationality.
posted by kldickson at 5:29 AM on March 18, 2009


So perhaps instead of abortion, the new procedure should be force the woman to have the baby, take it away from her right after birth, and force the man that impregnated her to raise the child single handedly. . .

Wow, didn't mean for this to come out sounding so man-hating.
The comment that I was responding to just pissed me off is all.
posted by newpotato at 5:32 AM on March 18, 2009


Requiring a woman wanting an abortion to view an ultrasound would be like also requiring one who does not want one to tour a poverty stricken ghetto with kids without health care and hungry and unwanted before giving birth. To require such things is to suggest that the woman needs a lecture of sorts as a warning, that she is not sufficiently aware of what she is doing. It is a doctor's job to perform medical deed, not to be a salesman.
posted by Postroad at 5:38 AM on March 18, 2009 [10 favorites]


Maybe we should think about the children.

Well, exactly. And causing an unwanted child to be born to "teach" the mother to take "responsibility for her actions" seems like a pretty crappy thing to use that child for.
posted by gaspode at 5:56 AM on March 18, 2009 [10 favorites]


I think we should make these women have a Bible study class beforehand, too. King James, natch. Make women do this, make women do that. It's fun to have legislative authority!
posted by adipocere at 6:16 AM on March 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


This thread's been really great. America, you need to step up your game. I realise I had such unrealistic expectations of what a post-Obama America would look like. I guess you can't erase the crazy and the stupid, just like that.

And acro, Yes, Canada. Unless I missed something, you can still get abortions without the government giving a fuck, and gays can get married and divorced and married and divorced just like all those hetro couples. Canada is basically America done right. Though I think the suggestion of sending the pro-lifers to Malta is probably a better option for your country.
posted by chunking express at 6:33 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's a big choice and to the potential life inside them the least they should do is learn a little about it.

Maybe some women considering abortion think they're actually carrying lollipops and zucchini in their womb. In that case, looking at an ultrasound might convince them that they shouldn't have an abortion just so that they can eat the lollipops right then and save the zucchini for dinner.

Or maybe they're only considering abortion because they're worried that they're carrying a dinosaur fetus instead of a human one, and the fetus is going to get bigger and bigger until they explode like in Slither. I'm not sure that looking at an ultrasound would be very helpful here, since early embryos/fetuses might look more like a dinosaur than a human.

What misconceptions, exactly, do you think that women considering abortion have about what's going on inside them? Last I checked, most women sought abortion precisely because they understand full well that the thing inside them will turn into a baby that needs to be pushed out and taken care of until you die.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:35 AM on March 18, 2009 [41 favorites]


Maybe we should think about the children.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:21 AM on March 18


Yay! It's "Copy-Paste Your Old Comments Day!" My turn!

What you consider to be a human being is based upon principles that are totally uninformed by science, reason, or logic. People who are "pro-life" are generally only pro-life up until a child's birth, at which point you petition the government to remove all support for welfare or school lunch programs or basic health care for the children of the poor. Most (okay, all) of you who are "pro-life" are also against all sexual education that describes in any way methods of birth control other than abstinence; you oppose a vaccine for HPV, which can cause cervical cancer (lol punish those sluts woot), and you oppose programs that would give condoms to citizens of third-world nations who desperately need them because of the HIV epidemic. We're angry because you're only pro-life in the most minute way.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:43 AM on March 18, 2009 [33 favorites]


remember people, it's not "PRO-LIFE" but the "PREGNANCY FETISHISTS" that we're talking about or, as i like to call them, PREGNANCISTS.

FORCED PREGNANCY is a form of sexual violence that should be akin to RAPE. and we should be also clear that this form of violence is usually being fomented by mostly white males in power that would rather use abortion against the colored masses, especially if they happen to be immigrants. if not why are these pregnacists also almost invariable against ANCHOR BABIES?

FORCED PREGNANCY is sexual violence and a form of reverse eugenics. make no mistake about it.
posted by liza at 6:49 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't think that's how morality functions. I think that's how pro-lifers function.

Right because all pro-lifers are the same. Saying things like this isn't helping your (our) cause.
posted by notswedish at 6:50 AM on March 18, 2009


I view abortion as running away from the actions that have caused the pregnancy.

Ya mean, sex? So...don't have sex? Because I'm really not grasping your point here. Abortion is not "running away" it IS "taking responsibility." It's saying, "Hey, I'm not capable or ready of being a parent right now, so I'm ending this pregnancy." Instead of saying "Hey, let's have a baby although we're not capable or ready to do so! Yay!"

I mean, seriously, you think having the baby you know you're not ready for is the more responsible route? Truly?

People who are ready to have kids should have them. People who aren't, shouldn't.
posted by emjaybee at 7:04 AM on March 18, 2009 [17 favorites]


Maybe we should think about the children.

Why, yes, I am thinking of the children. I am thinking of the 15 year old who should finish high school before becoming a mother. I am thinking of the 16 year old who is thrown out of the house by her parents because she had to get their permission to get an abortion. I am thinking of the 17 year old whose boyfriend beats her up because she missed the the cut-off date for an abortion due to jumping through so many legal hoops....you get the picture.

I never gave much thought to the effects of adoption on the mental state of the mother until my Aunt went through her big mid-life crisis. She had given her first child, a boy, up for adoption because she was single. She went on have a daughter, got married, and enjoyed great professional success, but she never stopped thinking about her son. Around age 45 she contacted him. For the past 20 years she has made him miserable and herself miserable because she wants to be a mother to him and he wants to treat her like a nodding acquaintance.

The only thing I can compare it to personally is the difference between a miscarriage and a stillbirth. When I miscarried, I was blue for a couple of days and I rarely think about it. When my son was stillborn I was deeply depressed for a year and it still lies heavy on my heart. The first was a bloody mass of cells, the second was a person, a boy who had a name. Anyone who has ever been pregnant could tell you how vastly different the first three months of pregnancy are from the last three-- in the beginning it barely registers but towards the end you are reminded 24 hours a day that there is another person inside you; a person who moves independently, who presses on your bladder, who makes you laugh with his hiccups. It stands to reason that a woman who aborts would have a fraction of the sadness and heartache experienced by a woman who gives her newborn up for adoption.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:08 AM on March 18, 2009 [36 favorites]


Can we stop calling them pro-lifers and start calling them anti-choicers?
posted by notreally at 7:42 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I call them dumbaclots.
posted by chunking express at 7:45 AM on March 18, 2009


Let's think LESS of the children and MORE of the women.

Fucking sexist godbots.

Oh, and I bet as soon as they hit puberty, you're not going to be thinking of the female children anymore, am I right?!
posted by kldickson at 7:46 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


every man, before he is allowed to masturbate, should be forced to look at two million separate pictures of children...

When I think of all the young ladies I could have knocked up... b-but... I DIDN'T!!! OH GOD I DIDN'T!!!!!

::huge wracking sobs::

::re-activates MySpace account::
posted by LordSludge at 7:47 AM on March 18, 2009


May I just say here that in my (good god, has it really been this long) almost 25 years of working with reproductive rights organizations, a solid 20 of them spent escorting women through hate-filled, screaming, pushing, hitting, mobs of Pregnatists (I love that term and am so going to meme-spread it), I have heard the "people are using abortion as birth control" trope over and over again spread by the anti-choice movement.

Show me statistics. Because it's the same sort of bullshit as Reagan's "welfare queen". It's utter and absolute strawman bullshit.

I have done a lot, and I mean A LOT of research. While there are some women who many have more than one abortion, there has never been proof that there is a segment of the population that uses abortion because they're too lazy to use birth control.

Abortion is hard on a woman. Physically, and often emotionally, especially if they have to run the gamut of the placard waving imbeciles in front of the clinic. Nobody, and I mean nobody, in their right mind would put themselves through that on a regular basis, just to avoid using a condom or a pill.

And even if the Bullshit was true, and it isn't, how is it anything to you? Seriously, do you stop accident victims at the emergency room and ask them if this is their first accident?

Your god has no place in my womb. Your opinion has no place in my operating theatre. Your morality DOES NOT trump MY morality.

But all of that aside, the bigger issue is: If you want to force women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to full term, how much of YOUR budget are you going to allocate to care for her after it's born?
posted by dejah420 at 8:09 AM on March 18, 2009 [22 favorites]


Hmmm. I view abortion as running away from the actions that have caused the pregnancy.

Yes, and seeking emergency medical care is running away from the actions that have caused the car accident.
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:10 AM on March 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


Maybe we should think about the children.potential Hitlers.

See, that's what happens when I think about children. Millions of little proto-Hitlers. The more we can stop, the better! Get abortin', folks!

Or maybe we can stop making ridiculous statements about what a cluster of cells might turn into some length of time down the road (and out the womb).
posted by FatherDagon at 8:17 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


(not that I've met many women who have had abortions, but a handful)

Well, now you've met one more.
posted by jokeefe at 8:33 AM on March 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


You speak of "actions" as though people don't have sex for fun. What a dull world that would be if we were only copulating just to procreate! Condoms break, pills are missed, a hundred thousand factors need to be factored into the act of copulation before one determines that a woman "deserved" to get pregnant. We consider ourselves so far beyond the rest of the species on this Earth, which are brute and base and primitive, which fuck only to further genes. But when it comes to humans making sex: oh you should only do that when you want to have a baby. Like it's a punishment. Getting saucy tonight, ladies? WELL CANCEL YOUR APPOINTMENTS FOR THE NEXT 18 YEARS!

Fuck that.


You know, I agree with you 100%, but it still strikes me as odd whenever I hear someone (as is often the case) completely unable to see how this applies to men. "Oh, you decided to have a baby when you had sex. End of story." I get how the situation is pragmatically different (obviously), but the inability to see the validity of the same argument blows my mind.

The horrible and ironic flipside to this is that here in Korea for many years (and possibly still -- I'm not up on the latest developments) it was forbidden for doctors to reveal, in the course of performing ultrasounds, the gender of the fetus, because of the frequency of sex-selective abortion.

An unfortunate practical problem societally, but the only way to fix it is through public education. We can't very well start asserting that some reasons for abortion are ok and others are not (here: let me tell you whether your reason is good enough), and non-existent children do not have a "right to life" based on what sex they would have been or any other characteristic.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:35 AM on March 18, 2009


And as progressive liberal thought reaches its ultimate logical plateau we begin dimly to register the ominous drumbeat of jackboot on cobblestone...

Nah, your jackboot analogy is lazy and stupid; it doesn't begin to apply. How you should interpret it is more like learning what you're imposing on women who have their reproductive healthcare options taken away from them by folks like you. Throwing you in jail for taking away another human being's rights is more like teaching you the effects of what you're trying to accomplish. Maybe you'll learn some empathy, respect and distance.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:53 AM on March 18, 2009


I view abortion as running away from the actions that have caused the pregnancy.

I recommend you rethink this view. Abortion is not easy or without consequence. It is not running away from actions, it is dealing with the consequence of the actions. Do you consider yourself to be running away from the actions that cause pregnancy when you have sex without a pregnancy resulting?
posted by Miko at 9:08 AM on March 18, 2009


You speak of "actions" as though people don't have sex for fun. What a dull world that would be if we were only copulating just to procreate! Condoms break, pills are missed, a hundred thousand factors need to be factored into the act of copulation before one determines that a woman "deserved" to get pregnant. We consider ourselves so far beyond the rest of the species on this Earth, which are brute and base and primitive, which fuck only to further genes.

And it is this kind of flippant attitude that helps enable the aforementioned "abortion as birth control," which, it seems, most find repugnant. Whether used for fun or procreation, you're dealing with a process of phenomenal biological complexity that's capable of generating a new human, so it is your responsibility to give it due respect and consideration.

We drive cars and shoot guns for fun, but no one would defend a driver who plowed through a kindergarten because he drove off on 3 wheels or a shooter who unloaded in his buddy's face because he didn't check for the round still in the chamber. If, every time you feel an itch in your genitals (be ye male or female), you cannot be bothered to remember to take your pills, or take emergency contraception after your condom broke, then that is the true definition of baseness and primitiveness. If you consider yourself to be a higher species, act like it, or get the fuck off my planet.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:10 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Surely if the law mandates an ultrasound but neither the pregnant woman nor the doctor wishes to actually perform one, this is a great way for abortion clinics to earn free money by billing the insurance company for something which never happens?

I'm probably missing something here, like hideously large deductibles, but let me savour for a moment the idea that this law would inadvertantly increase funding to abortion providers. Ahh, irony, I love you.
posted by Sova at 9:11 AM on March 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I view abortion as running away from the actions that have caused the pregnancy.

Ah, the slut-hating begins.

And as progressive liberal thought reaches its ultimate logical plateau we begin dimly to register the ominous drumbeat of jackboot on cobblestone...

Um, no resonance of the jackboot from forcing a woman to look at ultrasounds via the might and majesty of the state? Only when someone says something rash in support of a pro-choice position? Oh, okay.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:16 AM on March 18, 2009


It's amazing to me to think that anyone would ever assume that women considering abortion would make the decision in a cavalier way, a way that could be swayed by a smudgy black and white picture on greasy thermal paper.

It smacks of racism and classism- "those girls are so stupid they don't realize that there's a real live organism in there unless we show them a picture". They regard the mother as a womb on legs, a stupid and subservient person who's mind has been so muddled by her hormones that the state has to come in and forcibly re-educate her. It's amazing that states with this requirement allow pregnant women to drive cars and vote.

The experience has got to be traumatic enough- dealing with the rope-line of frothing christians just to see a sympathetic doctor on what has got to be one of the worst days of a young girl's life- why assume she's an idiot and make it worse by putting her doctor in an adversarial position that doesn't remotely respect her interests?
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:18 AM on March 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


helps enable the aforementioned "abortion as birth control," which, it seems, most find repugnant.

I really challenge this and I'm not sure most people should find it repugnant. For one thing, the sentence "using abortion as birth control" makes no sense to me. Abortion is birth control, not just something you can use as birth control. What it isn't is prophylactic birth control. It's only applied after conception - but then, that's true of some hormonal forms of birth control as well.

If, every time you feel an itch in your genitals (be ye male or female), you cannot be bothered to remember to take your pills, or take emergency contraception after your condom broke, then that is the true definition of baseness and primitiveness. If you consider yourself to be a higher species, act like it, or get the fuck off my planet.


Without wanting to minimize the difficulties surrounding abortion, I can note that getting one abortion a year would cost me less than paying for a year's worth of hormonal birth control. As long as we agree that abortion should be legal, at least in the first trimester, I'm not sure it makes any sense to me to speak with contempt of the women who use the option. If we believe it's not a moral wrong, why should we believe it's more morally right to use another form of birth control? I'm not sure I do believe that. What's true for me is that over-the-counter or prescribed birth control is more convenient and less invasive. It's fine with me to choose it based on those qualities alone, and not engage in a moral argument about whether it's right-er.
posted by Miko at 9:19 AM on March 18, 2009 [10 favorites]


But all of that aside, the bigger issue is: If you want to force women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to full term, how much of YOUR budget are you going to allocate to care for herthem after it's born?
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:20 AM on March 18, 2009


I get how the situation is pragmatically different (obviously), but the inability to see the validity of the same argument blows my mind.

That's because "the same argument" ignores basic biology.

Why should a woman be allowed to choose for herself whether to carry a child to term or abort it? Because pregnancy and childbirth are debilitating and dangerous. Debilitating and dangerous enough that nobody should be forced by law to go through with it.

Supporting an existing child is neither debilitating nor dangerous, except, I suppose, that it carries exceedingly slight risks of infection from paper cuts or accidental pen jabs. It is merely costly, which is to say inconvenient. Supporting your child carries essentially zero risk of being gutted like a trout and having your internal organs splayed out on your belly for inspection before they're stuffed back in. Supporting your child carries essentially zero risk of having your genitals sliced with a knife to make things easier. Supporting your child carries essentially zero risk of eclampsia. Supporting your child carries essentially zero risk of crashing and bleeding out.

I'd generally agree that fathers' rights get short shrift and that this should be remedied, but that doesn't mean that men should be allowed to simply refuse to support their children merely because they don't want them. Lots of men, including men married to the mother, don't want their children.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:22 AM on March 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Step 1: After Y abortions (not including those necessitated by medical circumstances or resulting from rape), force the woman to complete appropriate sex education courses and offer her free contraceptives for life. Step 2: after step 1 and Y+X abortions, sterilize the woman. Same rules for a man who is found to be responsible for some number of aborted pregnancies.

While we're speaking of "ominous jackboots on cobblestone", let's translate the above strategy in terms of not-so-distant history:

` ` Step 1: After Kristallnacht, force Jews to complete appropriate self-documentation and offer free "reeducation" in concentration camps for the rest of their lives. Step 2: After step 1 and Y+X camps have been set up, complete final solution. Same rules for homosexuals, gypsies, and the mentally and physically disabled found to be responsible for affecting the purity of the Homeland. ' '

Or we could just respect boundaries and stop punishing people — women, really — for having sex.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:43 AM on March 18, 2009


And it is this kind of flippant attitude that helps enable the aforementioned "abortion as birth control,"

I'm not sure that's an appropriate response to someone talking about burst condoms and missed birth control pills, since the people in question are at least taking steps to adopting the kind of responsible attitude you say you want to see.

That's because "the same argument" ignores basic biology.

I didn't ignore anything. I made note of the obvious difference. What is shocking to me is that there is no realization that the same reasoning is valid but the results differ for pragmatic reasons. The response you are advocating is "yeah, you didn't plan for this but given the realities of the situation you're stuck with it" which is still a far cry from "you decided to have this baby when you had sex", which others would rightly juxtapose with the distasteful use of that argument with regard to women.

As for "It is merely costly, which is to say inconvenient" I'm sure you can run that through to its logical conclusions. What is inconvenient to a healthy middle-class person with options can be a lifetime of dictated terms to someone who can barely support themselves. Not so different, really, from the situation foisted on any unwilling parent, male or female, past-birth.

Of course, this problem isn't going away until we're all born with a tap set by default to the "off" position. Can't happen fast enough.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:47 AM on March 18, 2009


Sometimes a woman aborts a fetus naturally. If you are concerned about abortion being allowed/moral/right, then where does that put the woman who’s body expels the fetus without any medical intervention?

If you say it’s OK for the fetus to be aborted naturally, then why is it not OK for the fetus to be aborted medically?
posted by mightshould at 9:53 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just as a point of information, so we can all put this in context, the majority of legal abortions in the US are, according to CDC stats, performed at 9 weeks. (I can go look it up again but I think it was 52.9%.) This is pretty much what that ultrasound looks like.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:53 AM on March 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'd generally agree that fathers' rights get short shrift and that this should be remedied, but that doesn't mean that men should be allowed to simply refuse to support their children merely because they don't want them. Lots of men, including men married to the mother, don't want their children.

This is probably getting slightly off-topic, but I don't agree, and think that holding men to support children they don't want is counter-productive. Saying that men who have sex with a woman, or even marry a woman, are automatically responsible for upkeep of any resulting children suggests that procreation is 'part of the contract' for these activities. Of course, if a man has entered into being a father willingly and then backs out, there is good argument for insisting they continue paying the cost of that child. But the emphasis on 'taking responsibility for their actions' is too easily turned to use on women who find themselves pregnant and don't wish to be.

I respect that motherhood related poverty is all too common, and would rather see a good and full system of social support. However, tying a responsibility to men which wouldn't be acceptable for women isn't something I can support.

On preview, what Durn said in reply.
posted by Sova at 9:55 AM on March 18, 2009


You know, I've often thought that if I were ever to become World Dictator that I would just mandate that all young women get their fallopian tubes clipped as soon as menses start. Then after the age of 18, you can opt to get them unclip whenever you wish. The government, of course, will pay for all procedures and care in the event the clips fail. This allow us to start in a "off switch" and make having children the true choice instead of the default.

But, then it does severely hamper the rights of the individual and is about as likely to happen as me actually becoming World Dictator.
posted by teleri025 at 10:00 AM on March 18, 2009


turgid dahlia, in my earlier reply to your comment, I forgot you are in Australia. I looked it up: "Around one in three Australian women will undergo an abortion."

So, really, assuming you get out reasonably often, you have met many women who have had terminations, you just didn't know it.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:08 AM on March 18, 2009


The men's rights vis-a-vis pregnancy debate went so well last time. Let's do it again!

That said, I do agree with Durn that it's disingenuous to suggest that financial obligations cannot be considered debilitating. Remember the student loan forgiveness thread?
posted by adamdschneider at 10:18 AM on March 18, 2009


I view abortion as running away from the actions that have caused the pregnancy.

To be perfectly clear, the "action" you're referring to is having sex.

When you talk about taking reponsibility for one's actions when it comes to deciding to abort or not, you are saying that women should either be willing to carry a pregnancy to term or not have sex. (A least not with men.)

Responsible women, in your view, are ready to shoulder the physical, emotional, and financial consequences of having a baby - or they are celibate. Responsible women are potential mothers, or they are virgins.

(Or lesbians.)

I'm catching a whiff of something.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:31 AM on March 18, 2009 [11 favorites]


I've always wondered about the "illegal, except for cases of rape (and incest)" concept... Does the accused rapist need to be formally charged and convicted before the abortion can be performed? If not, then why couldn't any woman use this loophole at any time to terminate an unwanted pregnancy? And if so, an inconvenient followup question is: What's the average time to trial for rape cases? Think about it...

I used to think the "legal in case of rape" thing was a very rare thing, an almost inconsequential technicality type of number, but I was surprised to learn that SEVERAL female friends of mine were raped, got pregnant, and had abortions. Was there enough evidence in any of the cases to convict the attacker? No idea -- none of them went to trial.
posted by LordSludge at 10:41 AM on March 18, 2009


Responsible women are potential mothers, or they are virgins.

(Or lesbians.)

I'm catching a whiff of something.


In your rush to crucify the commenter -- who is pro-choice, by the way -- you seem to have forgotten about the existence of every mode of contraception other than abortion, from the lowly condom all the way up to the morning-after pill.
posted by grobstein at 10:41 AM on March 18, 2009


...[Y]ou seem to have forgotten about the existence of every mode of contraception other than abortion, from the lowly condom all the way up to the morning-after pill.

No contraception is 100% effective.
posted by LordSludge at 11:00 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


LordSludge, Wyoming had a statute, since struck down by the court and on appeal that said if a woman didn't report the rape, then she wasn't allowed to have an abortion. She had X number of days to report it, there had to be DNA collection via a crime kit, or if she didn't report it in time for her vagina to be swabbed, then the state would draw blood from the embryo/fetus for a DNA check. (This, by the way, is a dangerous and risky process that involves sticking a foot long needle through the woman's abdomen.)

That was the most restrictive of statutes, but there are others out there that are fairly close.
posted by dejah420 at 11:23 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sorry for the derail. I should have known better.

Back on topic, I'm usually a fan of forcing some kind of realization of the consequences of one's important decisions. Chickenhawks should see body bags. Small government devotees should see natural disaster footage. But I don't kid myself that in every case it is grinding some particular axe; I just happen to agree with the stance it represents in those cases. Postroad (!) had this in hand early on.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:30 AM on March 18, 2009


Who pays for this government mandated ultrasound? I'm fine with them imposing this as long as we get to force them to pay for a CAT scan and IQ test before voting republican and/or attending Mass. NOTE: FL is one of the states where bills have recently been introduced in the Senate and House.
posted by whatgorilla at 11:31 AM on March 18, 2009


you seem to have forgotten about the existence of every mode of contraception

No, I didn't forget. Contraception only reduces the chance of becoming pregnant. If I want to be "responsible" and avoid actions that could lead to an abortion, then I can't have sex with men.

If you think that the only women who need abortions are those who don't use contraception, then you need to do some basic reading.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:48 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I got an email from the aunt of a close friend about a year ago, letting me know (along with the other 5 generally-young people on the list) that this aunt had a friend who was looking to adopt, and she didn't know whether we might know anyone who was pregnant and not wanting to raise a child, but if so... she was hoping that we might be able to provide contact information of her friend, because they were having a hard time finding an infant to adopt. I was dumbfounded. My boyfriend didn't really see what the problem was, even after I tried to explain how predatory and awful I found that email to be. The linked blog post at the end of this FPP definitely sums up my ambivalence about adoption, especially this bit:

Adoption fucked up my head far worse than abortion. I've googled over the years about the psychological aftereffects of giving up a baby, and what little I found is astonishing. Depression and suicide rates ridiculously high, comparable to PTSD - and beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is no way you can cook any post-abortion trauma study to come anywhere near post-adoption trauma levels. Strange how peer-reviewed studies on this are damn near non-existent...

The ethics of adoption are something that I've read about and thought about, despite the fact that there really is a huge cultural silence on it. I read the absolutely wonderful Rickie Solinger book Wake Up Little Susie that delves into how the whole "adoption not abortion!" political platitude arose as the one thing that both liberals and conservatives could agree on. E.J. Graff did a wonderful article that I considered making an FPP for about the ethics of trans-national adoptions called The Lie We Love. The more I read, and the more I really grapple with the concept of adoption and what it really means for a woman to give up a child she has given birth to--and whether that is ever, or even usually, a free choice--the more conflicted I feel about the concept of adoption in general.

In fact, I've definitely started leaning towards believing that abortion is, in many cases, a better choice for women in general who face an unwanted pregnancy. This is not a debate we're allowed to have, though, whether we're conservative (because then abortion is always wrong) or liberal (because we can't appear to be pro-abortion, actual evidence or harm to women be damned). The end result is a lot of studies about the mental effects of abortion and none on adoption, and debates about giving women "all the facts" about abortion (like ultrasounds) but not being allowed to talk about any downsides of adoption, which is tacitly understood to be the most moral choice no matter what your political affiliation is. I really think that the issue of adoption, and exactly when it's a morally good option for society to promote (my answer? in very, very rare circumstances), is something that deserves a hell of lot more debate than it gets.

I guess I find it sad that the debates about morality and ethics of reproductive rights so often focus tightly on women: if there really is more than one moral decision to be made when finding oneself unexpectedly pregnant, whether women are capable of making those moral decisions (and whether we need assistance, from doctors or the men who made us pregnant or the state legislature), and ultimately whether we should allow women to make those decisions at all. There are other questions, too--for instance, is a moral act to adopt a child, and if so, under what conditions?--but those never get asked at all.
posted by iminurmefi at 12:25 PM on March 18, 2009 [20 favorites]


That said, I do agree with Durn that it's disingenuous to suggest that financial obligations cannot be considered debilitating.

Can be, if they're insufficiently calibrated to ability to pay. Aren't intrinsically.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:49 PM on March 18, 2009


But do you all know the first thing the blastocyst does once it rolls on into the uterus? It secretes enzymes to dissolve the uterine wall and lives in a pool of the woman's blood!

winna, you are awesome. (Also, I know what *I'm* having nightmares about tonight!)

As for iminurmefi's comment...

she was hoping that we might be able to provide contact information of her friend, because they were having a hard time finding an infant to adopt.

This, of all things, proves to me that the other side often sees pregnant women more as the "source of a thing I want" than "person in her own right." I presume the people she chose to mail were, in addition to being young, cherry-picked for other desirable characteristics, too? (Racial, education-wise, etc?) Because heaven help us we go down to social services and find some crack baby, or otherwise "unacceptable" child to adopt -- no no no, we want the Perfect, Shiny White Baby From A College Girl.

Last I heard in my (large) city, there's no shortage of older (and I should add, NOT WHITE) children just ready to adopt -- so many that they advertise this fact on the sides of city busses! Yet no one wants to do that.....why? Better to email all your friends and try to find a willing pregnant girl to Juno you.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:27 PM on March 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


I laugh, LAUGH!, at the American anti-choice argument. Why? Because America's among the WORST of the Western nations when it comes to helping mothers with children, who tend to be much farther down the economic ladder than other groups.

1) In areas where poorer people live, the schools tend to be horrific. There's a lower standard of, well, nearly everything in the more desperate areas - lower quality of teaching, less access to books, computers, decrepit buildings in need of repairs or demolition. I've spoken at dozens of schools in many parts of America, and I'm startled at how precisely the relative wealth of a community relates to the quality of its public schools. This simply isn't the case in even the poorer nations of Europe, where - despite great needs - there is actually equity in public schools. For the most powerful and richest nation in the world to allow their schools to be so underfunded - and lopsidedly so - should be a huge, national embarrassment. For my money, it's a damned good reason not to have children unless you can readily afford (at least) a middle-class life.

2) Do I need to mention the abysmal, unaffordable and essentially elitist healthcare system? Did you know that, among other things, effective prescription birth control is free in most of the rest of the West? As is pre-natal care, childbirth and post-natal care for mother and child?

3) Many rights of workers, which seem basic to the average German or Brit (or hell, Romanian or Bosnian) don't exist here. A decent vacation period (4 to 6 weeks) is a right in the rest of the Western world. So is a living wage, in many countries. And if those things don't work, there are programs for housing, food and welfare that actually exist and are attainable and work - things which no longer exist or have been rendered pointless in America.

4) There are many, many examples of other things that make America tough for struggling mothers - the lack of work in poorer areas. A public transportation system that is either non-existent or inadequate across the vast majority of America, which often necessitates car ownership, if you want to get to work.

I could go on and on. I realize that the restriction to abortion would affect women of all classes. But it's hard for me to think of all the factors above, and to consider them against the other actions of the people in relation to the above) who most ardently want to restrict or ban abortion:

1) The lack of education funding, fueled largely by conservatives.

2) The right-wing hysteria over national health care.

3) The conservative backlash against increased minimum wage and government assistance of all kinds.

4) The continued funding of giant highway systems and things friendly to Big Oil, at the expense of meaningful local and national public transportation.

So when I hear conservatives talk about "compassion" and "love" and "caring for life" relative to their desire to restrict abortion . . . well, it makes me sick. They continually fight all the things that would show that they had any real compassion for "life."

Consequently, it just seems obvious to me that conservatives have some weird Puritanical mindset that *wants* to see women punished for having sex and to make their lives a living hell by keeping them poor, uneducated and desperate.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:13 PM on March 18, 2009 [44 favorites]


I'm having a hard time deciding who I love the most at the moment, winna or Dee Xtrovert. "conservatives have some weird Puritanical mindset that *wants* to see women punished for having sex and to make their lives a living hell by keeping them poor, uneducated and desperate" is about the best summary I've ever heard on these topics.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:16 PM on March 18, 2009


It's a big choice and to the potential life inside them the least they should do is learn a little about it.

Well, if you think women are so stupid that they don't know anything about fetal development and need to see an ultrasound to make the pregnancy real, why not require them to view a video about the thousands of diaper changes, medical decisions, financial costs, crying and intense difficulty of raising a child, particularly on one's own in poverty?

How about showing the parents who go to jail for shaking their babies to death and the unwanted children who are many times more likely than others to have mental illnesses, behavioral problems and to become drug addicts and criminals after suffering abuse and neglect?

And why aren't the pro-lifers standing around outside fertility clinics, which destroy thousands of embryos or ship them off for use in stem cell research or freeze them but never use them?

Oh yeah, perhaps they've realized that picketing to stop families who desperately want children from having them wouldn't be good PR because it's not socially acceptable to stigmatize these women?
posted by Maias at 4:14 PM on March 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


I know someone who gave up a baby for adoption and it just wrecked her. On top of that, the adoptive parents became very possessive and refused to let her see the child, even though it was supposed to be an open adoption. It turns out that whatever agreement the adoptive parents make is non-binding and they had no legal obligation to follow through on their agreement. After the birth the adoption agency pretty much acted only on behalf of the adoptive parents and offered her no support or told her she was overreacting.

After witnessing her experience I would be hard put to recommend giving a child up for adoption - there must be a place for it, but it makes me ill to see that just tossed off as an easy out. This is the situation where counseling before making a decision should be mandatory - we've all seen mothers and babies, and many of us even know someone who's had an abortion, but very few of us have witnessed what a mother goes through when she gives up her child for adoption.
posted by smartyboots at 4:54 PM on March 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


Last I heard in my (large) city, there's no shortage of older (and I should add, NOT WHITE) children just ready to adopt -- so many that they advertise this fact on the sides of city busses!

You hear this a lot, but I'm a bit uncertain that this is any more morally straightforward than couples wanting to adopt a white infant. (Also, if you read the E.J. Graff article I linked to above, I think there may be a cause for skepticism whenever ANYBODY claims that there are a bigger supply of kids needing to be adopted than willing parents--it's not like this claim hasn't been made before as justification for taking kids away from willing parents.) Important questions to ask are: why are all those kids available for adoption? I suspect many are/were in the foster care system for a sufficient length of time that parental rights terminated. But having your kids taken away and put into foster care is very linked to income and race in our country--while I'm sure there are some (many?) cases where parents are both unfit and unwilling to be parents, there have also been documented cases of poor women of color having their children taken away who desperately did want to parent, but either did not have the money or the skills to do so. Yes, nobody wants a crack-addicted woman to be responsible for children, but is it really better to encourage people to swoop in and adopt her kids, or would it be better to fund more substance abuse treatment in our communities, and provide more social supports, so that she can get her life together and care for her kids?

I dunno. I have nothing but respect for people who foster and/or adopt kids who are considered "undesirable" (because of age or race or whatever) and are currently stuck in foster care, but I'm skeptical that the solution is to encourage adoption of older kids and a more efficient version of the system we currently have.
posted by iminurmefi at 5:04 PM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Silent Scream [warning: extremely graphic]
posted by tellurian at 5:40 PM on March 18, 2009


In fact, I've definitely started leaning towards believing that abortion is, in many cases, a better choice for women in general who face an unwanted pregnancy

Oh, how lovely. You really think it is better for a woman to kill a child rather than adopt it out? Well, guess what. It is better for the baby to have two parents who love it and want to raise it than to be sucked down a clinic sink.

Two of my friends just adopted a beautiful baby boy-they waited for two years for one to become available. They were supposed to adopt last year but the birth mom changed her mind after the child was born. Several weeks ago they got the call and drove for over ten hours to meet their new little son. Again, he is beautiful.

But no, it would have been better that he die? I'm sure the birth mom of the first baby just as much as the birth mom of the second baby would not agree with you on that.

Look, I am sure adoption is no picnic. But think carefully about all of the reasons that might be. Hint: it isn't the stretch marks or the heartburn. It is the realization of just how valuable and how precious that new life really is. What abortion does is cheapen the very idea of human life.

It's one thing to say abortion should be legal or illegal. I am much more troubled at the idea that one could think aborting a baby was a better solution than letting someone else have it. Talk about dog in the manger.....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:42 PM on March 18, 2009


And it is this kind of flippant attitude that helps enable the aforementioned "abortion as birth control," which, it seems, most find repugnant.

Yeah, you haven't wholly convinced me with that. I don't think it's flippant at all to consider the fact that hundreds of things can go wrong, no matter how careful a couple has been. The best laid plans can still come unwound, sometimes through no fault of the actual people involved.

And it has a lot to do with the information people are given. You're a simple farm boy, she's a simple farm girl, yer daddy ain't had the "talk" wit' yer yet, so you fuck her in the hayloft and pull out just as you come. Any get in there? Don't think so, Sally-Mae! Reckon you could just go squat over there and piss 'er out!

Sometimes, people have sex in stupid ways not just because they themselves are stupid, but because those responsible for telling them correct things have told them incorrect things.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:46 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Silent Scream [warning: extremely graphic]

Yeah, we got forced to watch that at (Catholic) boarding school.

Not in any context. It wasn't part of a social sciences class. In fact I think it might actually have been history. We're all sat around the television and suddenly, BLAMMO! ABORTION ALL UP IN UR FACE!

Like I say, no context whatsoever. It wasn't part of a larger framework of sex education. We weren't told any alternatives, any ways to get around it, safe sex regimens, no actual science behind the fetus. We weren't even told how the birds and the bees worked (though there were enough porno mags going around that we all had a pretty good idea). Just: here's some abortion. Okay. Off to your next class.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:52 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


iminurmefi: "Important questions to ask are: why are all those kids available for adoption?"

What is more illuminating to me is the opposite question: in countries with extensive social welfare systems (the UK, Ireland) why are so few infants given up for adoption?

If you look at the social history of Ireland, it is extremely telling:
The decline in the number of children being placed for domestic adoption in Ireland became very marked in the early 1980s, which is when a significant number of Irish couples who found themselves unable to adopt an Irish-born child started to look abroad.... Until the late 1970s this demand was predominantly met by the supply of children born out of wedlock, typically children whose mothers were heavily stigmatised and given no support to care for their children (Kelly 2005). 97% of children born outside marriage were adopted in 1967 compared to just 11% in 1987 and just 1% in 2004. There was no matching fall in the demand for children; indeed infertility rates in Western countries have been rising and are expected to continue to rise (Ledger 2005). [Source]
Prior to 1980, unwed mothers were not eligible for state benefit in Ireland. But when the law changed, and single mothers had access to adequate housing, benefit, social and financial support, women made the "choice" to surrender their children vastly less often.

That study tells us birth mothers will choose to give up a child for adoption less than 1% of the time. That number is actually outdated; in the last year for which I have statistics, a total of 13 children were put up for adoption here, a country with a population of 4.2 million.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:04 PM on March 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


drove for over ten hours to meet their new little son. Again, he is beautiful.

But how is the birth mother? Is she doing okay? Did you spare a single thought for how *she* might be faring?

Or is the production of a "beautiful" baby so freely given up the beginning and end of her worth as a person?
posted by marble at 6:25 PM on March 18, 2009 [10 favorites]


The time to "teach them a lesson" is when they're five, not fifteen.

Making women look at an ultrasound is too late to change the behaviour that led to the circumstance. It is a punishment, not a lesson. It is abusive, not educational.

I think it is basically true that everyone is pro-life. Only crazy people desire to create abortions. Sane people want to avoid them. So I think everyone can probably get on board with this: our children should be learning to cherish the life of babies, and to pre-love the baby that is implicit in a pregnancy.

I'd be perfectly fine if Dora the Explorer's mother were to become pregnant, and Dora to learn what's going on in there and how it becomes a real, crying baby.

Tweens should be taken on a school field trip to look a real ultrasound session. It can be done with reasonable discretion, I should think; a few well-draped sheets should do the trick, and it's not like the procedure is particularly sexy.

And they should be taught how to choose what's important to them and presented with real facts about the statistically-probable consequences of those choices. And, yes, taught about contraception and allowed access to it.

Obviously, the abortion rates would plummet. One would think what I propose would be a huge pro-life win. The pro-lifers need to distance themselves from the anti-abortionists.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:31 PM on March 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


They are creepy at that stage, indeed. But do you all know the first thing the blastocyst does once it rolls on into the uterus? It secretes enzymes to dissolve the uterine wall and lives in a pool of the woman's blood!

There, see! A full eduction would include learning this tidbit of information, perhaps with a nice animated visual. That sort of knowledge goes a long way toward delaying the inevitable. What young teen girl is going to want that to happen to her? And if the guys can be made to understand how much of it is because of them, so much the better. Should be a real turn-off for both of 'em.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:38 PM on March 18, 2009


Well, guess what. It is better for the baby to have two parents who love it and want to raise it and who are rich and who are good-looking and who are powerfully intelligent and who live on a pony farm and who have the divine or magical power to wipe away all problems and whose parenting prowess is godlike and who are made of chocolate and who crap rainbows than to be sucked down a clinic sink as the abortionist strokes his moustache, gloating, and the mother fantasizes about who or what she might have sex with next and then both of them shout blasphemous insults to the aborted remains as they disappear.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:55 PM on March 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


Look, I am sure adoption is no picnic. But think carefully about all of the reasons that might be. Hint: it isn't the stretch marks or the heartburn. It is the realization of just how valuable and how precious that new life really is. What abortion does is cheapen the very idea of human life.

Abortion is no picnic either. Women aren't out there attending abortion clinics for fun. They don't get up one morning and say "Gee, you know, I want to abort my fetus today!"

What you're advocating is a woman having to carry a child to term, because someone, somewhere might adopt the child. You'd rather put that woman through nine months of pregnancy and childbirth for someone else's benefit, with no thought for the pregnant woman at all.

What this does is cheapen that woman's life and all women really, who must suffer the stigma over how she should deal with her own body because of small-minded people like you who thinks that a medical procedure cheapens "the very idea of human life" and yet considers forcing women to carry a child to term FOR SOMEBODY ELSE is some celebration of the human condition.

Have a look around the world. One of the globe's biggest problem is the population explosion. There are children all over the world that need adopting. If parents want to adopt children, there's no need for women to be forced to carry a child to term to satisfy those parents want of a child.

It's one thing to say abortion should be legal or illegal. I am much more troubled at the idea that one could think aborting a baby was a better solution than letting someone else have it.

It's not about you and it's not about your friends who adopted a beautiful baby. It's about a woman being allowed to have control over her own body.
posted by crossoverman at 7:09 PM on March 18, 2009 [11 favorites]


Yeah, we got forced to watch that at (Catholic) boarding school.

Not in any context. It wasn't part of a social sciences class. In fact I think it might actually have been history. We're all sat around the television and suddenly, BLAMMO! ABORTION ALL UP IN UR FACE!


Same here! Sort of. It was a bus trip excursion into the city where - with no warning - we got to see poster sized pictures of dismembered babies and big black globs that had been aborted due to saline injection.

I guess it was organised by Right to Life or one of those mobs. But the strange thing was the lack of warning and absolutely no debriefing.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:19 PM on March 18, 2009


a bus trip excursion into the city where - with no warning - we got to see poster sized pictures

I'll go you one better! I grew up in a town where an anti-choice activist took a gray, 1970s Ford Econoline van and plastered its every surface with large, blown-up pictures of bloody dismembered fetuses and other, more unidentifiable things, along with a few Bible verses that were supposed to be somehow pertinent.

Nothing like spending your early adolescence sitting behind that thing at a red light to firm you up for a lifetime of defending women's private choices against obsessive, self-righteous busybodies.
posted by Miko at 7:25 PM on March 18, 2009


In the mid-1980s, leaders of the anti-abortion movement produced a video called The Silent
Scream. The video, epitomizing the anti-abortion agenda and strategy, tried to shift the focus of the abortion debate away from compassion for the health and needs of the woman to an exaggerated concern for the fetus.

Although riddled with scientific, medical, and legal inaccuracies as well as misleading statements and exaggerations, The Silent Scream is still wildly popular with anti-abortion zealots. And it continues to be a key tool in their propaganda efforts. Originally designed to frighten American women away from choosing abortion, the video is now shown worldwide to troubled women who turn to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” for assistance with their
problem pregnancies.

As soon as it was released, Planned Parenthood® recognized that The Silent Scream would be used to propagate harmful myths that could endanger women’s health and the constitutional right to choose abortion and jeopardize the lives and careers of abortion providers. To expose these distortions and deceits, Planned Parenthood convened a panel of medical experts to review and critique the video.
posted by dejah420 at 7:32 PM on March 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


What this does is cheapen that woman's life

As someone who has given birth three times myself, I am sick and tired of pregnancy being painted as a fate worse than death. Apparently, here, literally.

I have been thru quite a lot of hell in my life. None of which I think I should ever have asked an innocent child to give up its life for. It is a false dichotomy to say that in order to allow a baby to live that, ergo, its mother is to be considered worthless and only an incubator. This society is equating babies to parasites. Which, in one sense, is literally true, but in another sense, is downright shameful. The philosophical perspective that says a pregnancy cheapens a woman's life is actually a philosophy that makes that woman a petty tyrant with the power of life and death over another human in the most profound of ways.

Are we so very uncreative that the only way we can solve a problem in a woman's life is to have her destroy her own child?

(and the ironic thing is in another thread on this site people are going ballistic about a man who kicked a dog. A DOG. I wonder what those people think about unborn children.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:41 PM on March 18, 2009


The philosophical perspective that says a pregnancy cheapens a woman's life is actually a philosophy that makes that woman a petty tyrant with the power of life and death over another human in the most profound of ways.

I didn't say that pregnancy cheapens a woman's life - I said that forcing a woman to carry a child to term for someone else's benefit and YOUR belief that she shouldn't have a choice in the matter, cheapens her life. Because apparently YOU and PROSPECTIVE ADOPTIVE PARENTS know better what's good for that woman than she does.

This society is equating babies to parasites. Which, in one sense, is literally true, but in another sense, is downright shameful.

We're not talking about babies, we're talking about fetuses.
posted by crossoverman at 7:56 PM on March 18, 2009 [3 favorites]



St. Alia of the Bunnies: "What this does is cheapen that woman's lifeThe philosophical perspective that says a pregnancy cheapens a woman's life is actually a philosophy that makes that woman a petty tyrant with the power of life and death over another human in the most profound of ways.

But women do have power over life. That's a simple fact of biology. It's a simple fact of humanity that women should not be enslaved by this function. Just so I'm perfectly clear on this: are you actually suggesting that all women should be forced to carry to term a child they do not wish to bear?

(and the ironic thing is in another thread on this site people are going ballistic about a man who kicked a dog. A DOG. I wonder what those people think about unborn children.)

Yes, well, the dog is a sentient being. A fetus is not. And for what it's worth, I was profoundly grateful to have access to a compassionate and legal abortion services when I needed them, and I would never kick a dog.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:00 PM on March 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


I knew I recognized the tone. Do we really have to start from square one?
posted by Miko at 8:06 PM on March 18, 2009


It is a false dichotomy to say that in order to allow a baby to live that, ergo, its mother is to be considered worthless and only an incubator.

No. It's an apt dichotomy. Using the power of the state to force women to carry a fetus to term for the purported benefit of the fetus reduces her to an incubator whose interests and health are subordinated to that of the fetus.

Are we so very uncreative that the only way we can solve a problem in a woman's life is to have her destroy her own child?

Yes. It is the literal, simple truth that the only way to end the threat to health and life that pregnancy and childbirth pose to a woman is to kill and remove the fetus.

people are going ballistic about a man who kicked a dog. A DOG. I wonder what those people think about unborn children

I expect that they think that unborn children shouldn't kick dogs either.

Just so I'm perfectly clear on this: are you actually suggesting that all women should be forced to carry to term a child they do not wish to bear?

Don't bother. Assuming it's Bunnyfire III: Electric Konolia, all you'll get is that she wants all children everywhere to be happy and loved. That and a near-complete inability to face the logical consequences of the beliefs she claims to hold.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:09 PM on March 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe: Don't bother. Assuming it's Bunnyfire III: Electric Konolia, all you'll get is that she wants all children everywhere to be happy and loved. That and a near-complete inability to face the logical consequences of the beliefs she claims to hold.

Well, it's a binary question, so I'd expect a binary answer. I don't care who this poster is; it's irrelevent to me if she or he is Konolia. I tend to approach posts on their face and not tie them to a user's entire history. I don't have the energy to lug other people's baggage that way.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:25 PM on March 18, 2009


To me, it's not lugging other people's baggage; it's efficiency. By realizing who it was I saved myself untold hours of sincere argumentative effort. There's honestly no point. It's not like logic is going to win here.
posted by Miko at 8:58 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


As someone who has given birth three times myself, I am sick and tired of pregnancy being painted as a fate worse than death. Apparently, here, literally.

You chose to give birth those three times. Not everyone feels the same way about pregnancy that you do.

I have been thru quite a lot of hell in my life. None of which I think I should ever have asked an innocent child to give up its life for.

There are no innocent children involved in abortions. The vast majority of abortions take place in the first trimester, when the fetus does not even have a brain stem, let alone a brain, let alone input that would allow it to create experience, memory, imagination and a personality. It is just the cells that could grow into a person. It is an acorn, not a tree

It is a false dichotomy to say that in order to allow a baby to live that, ergo, its mother is to be considered worthless and only an incubator. This society is equating babies to parasites. Which, in one sense, is literally true, but in another sense, is downright shameful.

If it is true, why is it shameful? Before a human is born, it has to be nurtured to a stage where it can survive in the external world. It does this by attaching to the internal wall of a woman's uterus and living off of her food and oxygen.

The philosophical perspective that says a pregnancy cheapens a woman's life is actually a philosophy that makes that woman a petty tyrant with the power of life and death over another human in the most profound of ways.

no one is saying a pregnancy cheapens a woman's life. The only claim is that a woman ought to enter into pregnancy willingly, and if she judges that she does not want to be pregnant and she does not believe a fetus to be a sentient being or meaningfully alive, then she should be able to choose not to follow through on a pregnancy that was accidental.

Are we so very uncreative that the only way we can solve a problem in a woman's life is to have her destroy her own child?

why is it up to us to solve her problem? Let her solve her problem. SHe can have the child if she deems that the best solution. It's not your problem, and you don't know the details of her health history, her body, and her belief system and philosophy. You can choose to follow through on every pregnancy that comes your way. But you can't force other women to do the same, because the fetuses you think you're protecting are not citizens. They are basically figments of your imagination at this point.

(and the ironic thing is in another thread on this site people are going ballistic about a man who kicked a dog. A DOG. I wonder what those people think about unborn children.)

A dog is an interacting creature, whereas a fetus is not yet anything. But people would probably react negatively to someone who impulsively tried to violently cause an abortion, and they would probably be much more sympathetic to someone who consciously chose to euthanize a dog - it's the irrational anger that people are reacting to in that thread.

posted by mdn at 9:27 PM on March 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


The linked article from the anonymous poster at shakesville is amazing, and the views of the birth mother are so rarely considered in these discussions. So CAN WE PLEASE not turn this into another Martyr Konolia vs. Metafilter thread?
posted by Space Kitty at 10:09 PM on March 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


The linked article from the anonymous poster at shakesville is amazing, and the views of the birth mother are so rarely considered in these discussions. So CAN WE PLEASE not turn this into another Martyr Konolia vs. Metafilter thread?

Also, the Lie we Love article linked in Iminurmefi's comment was amazing. The FPP was framed as much around abortion as adoption, so keeping the focus on the more interesting birth mother essay and adoption issues is somewhat difficult.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:38 AM on March 19, 2009


I had some acquaintances in Davis that fought an unsuccessful multi-year battle to try and wrest their daughter back from her adoptive parents. The man was out of town when his then girlfriend was allegedly pressured to give her child up for adoption. I'm not sure who was right or wrong in the mix, but I'm sure that no party involved was not traumatized by that struggle. A tragedy all around.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:47 AM on March 19, 2009


I have long been suspicious that adoption wasn't the soft-focus, romanticized solution it's presented to be, and I find some of the comments about the socioeconomic conditions that give rise to adoption fascinating and disturbing. There are also issues from the adopted-child side that are never discussed with complete honesty in the media - the classic story we see is of a happy reunion with a birth mother; however, there are also a number of unhappy reunions and disturbing discoveries, and I've known at least a few children of adoption plagued with ongoing questions about personal value and a deep cynicism about love and family relationships. I've never known anyone who was unhappy to be alive, but then they've lived a full life and developed an identity and of course would not give those experiences up. As someone noted above, you can't think like a fetus.

If all babies could knowingly choose where and how to be born without the emotional attachments that develop during a person's lifetime, how do you think they would distribute themselves? Into abusive homes, poor struggling homes where the bills are always late and there's never money for new shoes or the dentist, homes where they wouldn't get a college education, homes where they were mere fantasy fulfillment, rigid homes, homes where the family skis at Whistler every Christmas, homes where emotionally needy parents are looking to fill gaps in their own identities by focusing on a child, homes where life would be easier in all respects...? The 'if the fetus could choose' question skips over the fact that if they honestly could choose, they'd probably reject about 65% of the potential parents looking for them.

I agree that was the most interesting topic raised by the post, and since it's so much less often discussed than abortion, it would be great of the conversation focused on that. However, bundling it with the ultrasound link probably doomed this thread to stray into the abortion debate - at least when an adversary volunteers and people volunteer to engage in it.
posted by Miko at 6:29 AM on March 19, 2009


Yeah...I was trying to put the essay into context, and it didn't work the way I had hoped it would. I thought the post would be too weak if I just posted the essay, and since the author herself said that the reason she wrote it was due to the proliferation of ultrasound laws, I thought that would frame the essay well.

I really didn't intend for it to become yet another abortion thread. I think, perhaps, that it is impossible to even mention abortion without it become "that" discussion.
posted by dejah420 at 7:44 AM on March 19, 2009


SOmetimes the better links also just generate less conversation. I found the essay interesting, and moving, although it is also only one woman's experience so I'm not sure we should assume it's the same for everyone (like we wouldn't assume everyone suffers after an abortion from the anecdotes sometimes told about that). IN the end I don't have all that much to say about it. It makes sense, and should get more attention as an issue. But that's all been said already, and no one is specifically arguing that it shouldn't... so I ended up responding to the comment that I felt needed to be picked apart because it was repeating cliched axioms without examination.

Also, I think the dialogue turned when a poster above suggested that abortion was a better option than adoption and someone else thought that was an awful thing to believe. So retracing why abortion isn't the same as infanticide became a foundation for being able to explain how abortion could be better than adoption, since that poster didn't care how bad adoption was if the alternative was murder.

Basically, it won't help to show anti-choice people that adoption is unhealthy if they still believe abortion is immoral; all that will do is slim the choice down to don't have sex or have a family. Anti-choice people would be perfectly willing to remove another option from the table... I think only the fact that it provides babies to infertile couples keeps it (sort of) kosher for the time being. If demand for that goes down (fertility treatments become cheaper/more effective?) then I could see the whole idea of adoption getting dropped a rung or two on the morality ladder.
posted by mdn at 9:37 AM on March 19, 2009


Arguing with anyone about abortion is the biggest waste of time in the world. Doing it on the Internet, more so. Seriously, have there ever been threads here where someone ends up saying, "Shit, you guys are right, women should choose what to do with their bodies," or, "oh my god, you are right: we are killing babies!" This thread was actually chugging along fairly well for the first 60 odd comments or so. And then we entered the stupid zone. C'est La Vie.

Anyone from Canada ever see the Silent Scream? I had never heard of it till now. In high school biology we watched "The Mircale of Life", where you get to see a baby pop out of a ladies Cho-Cha. That was fun.
posted by chunking express at 10:37 AM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


all that will do is slim the choice down to don't have sex or have a family

I'd prefer that; I think it would be much clearer and more honest.
posted by Miko at 10:51 AM on March 19, 2009


Basically, it won't help to show anti-choice people that adoption is unhealthy if they still believe abortion is immoral; all that will do is slim the choice down to don't have sex or have a family.

I think that the conversation about the benefits and costs of adoption--an honest conversation, where women aren't erased from the story, as they currently are--is something that needs to happen among pro-choicers and other liberals, actually. I don't harbor any illusions about whether it's going to change someone's mind about abortion who is already firmly in the camp of criminalizing it. What I do think it could change is the way we as a progressive society think about what the "right" solutions to unplanned or unwanted pregnancies should be, and how we as individuals talk to women in our lives who face these decisions.

When I said above that I personally have come to believe that abortion is a better option than adoption for women who don't want to raise a child, I meant exactly that: for women. I'm not going to argue that it's a better or more preferable option for the fetus; I'm sure if we could ask that question the answer would be "hell no, I'd like to be born." I'm pretty unapologetically on the side that believes women's autonomy over their own bodies is a more compelling principle, both legally and ethically, than a fetus' interest in its own survival, so I'm pro-choice and I think that what is better for women in these situation is a better outcome overall. (Obviously not everyone agrees on how those competing interests stack up.)

If I had a friend facing an unwanted pregnancy who definitely did not want to be a parent, I would encourage them to seriously consider abortion, and not give some lip service to adoption as a morally-superior option that has to be considered first to make abortion okay. That's the point I was making, a bit clumsily, with my story above about the email from my friend's aunt: I was blown away precisely because if I had a friend in that situation, I can't imagine encouraging them to go through with the pregnancy and give the child away. I mean, either they want--or are at least open--to the idea of becoming a mother, in which case I'd try to move heaven and earth to find ways to financially and logistically make that possible; or they are totally opposed, in which case I think abortion is probably a more humane outcome for her.

I think only the fact that it provides babies to infertile couples keeps it (sort of) kosher for the time being. If demand for that goes down (fertility treatments become cheaper/more effective?) then I could see the whole idea of adoption getting dropped a rung or two on the morality ladder.

I never really thought of it before, but I bet you're right. It's a bit contradictory, our attitudes towards men who want to walk away from all parental rights and responsibilities when a kid is born (most people don't hold such men in high esteem), and women who want to do the same thing. For women, adoption is often positioned as the ultimate caring act, although all the same arguments about needing to step up and take responsibility could apply just as well. (Just to be clear, I don't agree with those arguments, I just think it's interesting--the same people who call abortion a "get out of jail free card" don't seem to talk about adoption in the same way.)
posted by iminurmefi at 11:51 AM on March 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'd prefer that; I think it would be much clearer and more honest.

Why is it clearer or more honest to take an option away? I really don't think it would alter people's viewpoint toward how right or fair to women it is to make them go through a pregnancy. It would just be yet another thing a woman can be demonized for doing...

I absolutely do believe that it would be awful for some people, but we should remember that some people apparently suffer when they have abortions, too - psychology is individual, and people go through stress based on many different factors. That is why it always has to be an individual choice, and what we should really encourage is a solid awareness of one's own needs and the right to make the choice thinking of those needs first - not a duty to society or the future child or the happiness of an unknown couple, but what will really work best for your own life.

SOme people may be perfectly okay with giving up a kid for adoption (they may like the idea that some part of them continues out there, even if they aren't a part of it), and they should have that right. But no one should feel compelled to do it because it's regarded as a more moral option than abortion.
posted by mdn at 1:08 PM on March 19, 2009


what we should really encourage is a solid awareness of one's own needs and the right to make the choice thinking of those needs first - not a duty to society or the future child or the happiness of an unknown couple, but what will really work best for your own life.

This statement makes it clear we are not just talking about abortion here. We are talking about a viewpoint that makes oneself the center of the universe instead of interdependent with others.

Myself, I think I will stick with the viewpoint that a person's a person no matter how small, and that we all as humans have certain inalienable rights, and that my right to happiness does not trump someone else's right to exist.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:17 PM on March 19, 2009


Yeah...I was trying to put the essay into context, and it didn't work the way I had hoped it would.

It's interesting, since you lead with the abortion laws, that's what caught my eye. Had you lead with the essay, I'm not sure I would have read it.

The context was good, but it overshadowed the really interesting part of the post. (Although the ultrasound thing was news to me, too.)
posted by crossoverman at 1:26 PM on March 19, 2009


Myself, I think I will stick with the viewpoint that a person's a person no matter how small, and that we all as humans have certain inalienable rights, and that my right to happiness does not trump someone else's right to exist.

And yet apparently your opinion on the matter trumps everyone other woman's right to choose what happens to her own body. Who's the centre of the universe thinker again?
posted by crossoverman at 1:28 PM on March 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


Why is it clearer or more honest to take an option away?

You misunderstand me there. I'm responding to the place where you say:

Basically, it won't help to show anti-choice people that adoption is unhealthy if they still believe abortion is immoral; all that will do is slim the choice down to don't have sex or have a family.


So I'm definitely not advocating taking an option away. As others have pointed out, we need it. Instead, I'm advocating taking the power of the talk about the option away. I think that yes, it could help to show anti-choice people that adoption is not a perfect solution. I don't assume they would immediately [be able to] outlaw it. Instead, taking the focus off "just adopt!" as a simple, romanticized perceived solution, that might force us to discuss the real issues that tend to underlie the debate - those of forcing one's moral choices on others.
posted by Miko at 1:59 PM on March 19, 2009


Everyone is pro-life¹.

¹oblig. "except Cheney" goes here.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:09 PM on March 19, 2009


five fresh fish: "Everyone is pro-life."

You might want to talk to China about that.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:34 PM on March 19, 2009


St. Alia/konolia/ - Fair enough. I'm sure you and your sanctimony will be very happy together
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:41 PM on March 19, 2009


I think that the conversation about the benefits and costs of adoption--an honest conversation, where women aren't erased from the story, as they currently are--is something that needs to happen among pro-choicers and other liberals, actually.

I absolutely agree with that. Like I said way upstream, I was shocked (at myself) to realize that despite all of my bioethics education and fascination, and despite spending years focused on women's issues, that I had *never* spent any time thinking about, writing about, researching the really thorny ethical issues on the biological mother's side of adoption. From a philosophy standpoint, it would be as though Hume had set out his moral theory, only to toss in utility as a footnote. It's unimaginable, and I cannot believe that I missed a topic area that huge. (Not that I'm comparing myself to Hume, because while I'm clever, I'm hardly writing things that are going to change the universal perception of reality.)

But it's not just me...there's virtually nothing out there in the ethics sphere...it's an invisible topic. These are invisible women; the women who give up their children. I'm staggered by it. I really am. The sheer audacity of the system that focuses on the children, and the adoptive parents, but has given no more consideration to the mother than if she were a disposable commodity is almost obscene. The ethical implications are huge, not just the issue itself, but HOW the issue has become invisible.

If I had the resources, I would go finish my PhD, focused on researching this issue, because I cannot believe how ignored it is, and how much it needs to be discussed.
posted by dejah420 at 7:11 PM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Myself, I think I will stick with the viewpoint that a person's a person no matter how small

Myself, I think you should respect the wishes of the late Theodore Geisel and of his widow, both of whom did not take kindly to the anti-abortion movement appropriating his work to serve their own purposes.
posted by shiu mai baby at 5:51 AM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


St. Alia, I was not advocating any sort of blind selfishness - just a self-awareness of one's internal desires. Sure, plenty of people need to learn to be more giving and interdependent to other people, but there are those who need to learn to be more self-affirming and independent, as well. Women especially tend to think they have to follow rules or do their duty instead of truly understanding their existential freedom and making choices that reflect that. That can absolutely include choosing to have a child if an abortion or adoption will make you suffer. But don't turn away from those options because other people tell you it should make you suffer.

And regarding the "people are people, no matter how small" thing, I suppose it's pointless to say it again, but not everyone shares your religious perspective, and from a purely biological POV, the fetus is about as individuated as a shellfish at the point of most abortions.

that might force us to discuss the real issues that tend to underlie the debate - those of forcing one's moral choices on others.

and yet when we are forced to discuss those "real issues" in this thread, everyone agrees it's pointless and we'll never make progress...
posted by mdn at 6:42 AM on March 20, 2009


Sorry if this has already been sorted out, but is St. Alia of the Bunnies actually Konolia, or is she just crazy-ass-crazy? It seems a bit rude to call someone Konolia if you don't actually know it's her.
posted by chunking express at 7:20 AM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, the profile has her picture on it, and the stance, style, and arguments are all the same.

when we are forced to discuss those "real issues" in this thread,


I actually don't have a problem with discussing the real issues, in general. But if you can get St. Alia to discuss them, that would surprise me no end. Long experience with the use of self-referential logic 'it's right because it's right because my religion says' tells me it will be futile. You're absolutely right that "not everyone shares your religious perspective," but any argument with her will eventually fail on the point that , from her point of view, everyone else is wrong and she's correct on this. Respect for differences in belief about the nature of life is not permissible in this worldview.

Unless there's been a drastic change of heart....?
posted by Miko at 11:07 AM on March 20, 2009


But I thought she was never ever ever coming back. Liar. Why are people arguing with her? She's the biggest sink hole ever when it comes to shit like this.
posted by chunking express at 11:09 AM on March 20, 2009


the more society comes to realize that the single-issue batshitinsane religionuts are a minority, the sooner we can be done with their shit and move on to doing those things that actually help us have a better society.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:39 AM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


For the record there are atheists who feel as I do re abortion and respect for human life and have spoken of it in the media. To include but not limited to former abortion doctors.

So it really probably isn't fair to relegate that view to people of faith although I freely admit my conviction that God is the Author of life is the root of my own view on the topic.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:36 PM on March 20, 2009


For the record there are atheists who feel as I do re abortion and respect for human life and have spoken of it in the media

And there are plenty of Christians who are pro-choice. What's your point?
posted by goo at 3:45 PM on March 20, 2009


Well, one point is that characterizing my position as one only held by "batshitinsane religionuts" is factually incorrect as well as a logically flawed argument.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:06 PM on March 20, 2009


Treating another adult human being as if they have no ability to morally reason is one of the most disrespectful things I can imagine.
posted by BrotherCaine


Summed it up perfectly for me. These laws are absolutely disturbing in their patronizing treatment of women.
posted by agregoli at 4:23 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay. Claiming that respect for human life is solely the bastion of anti-choicers is factually incorrect as well as a logically flawed argument, not to mention downright fucking idiotic - but I know better than to get into an argument with anyone rabidly anti-choice and so I will take myself out of this one.
posted by goo at 4:24 PM on March 20, 2009


For the record, the batshitinsane religionut position is the one in which abortion is banned.

Do you, St. Alia of Konolia, recognize the fact that access to safe abortion is necessary? Or are you in favour of absolutely banning it? C'mon, let's cut right to the chase: pick a side.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:14 PM on March 21, 2009


I am in favor of society recognizing that life begins at conception and that that person has the same rights as any of us. And that abortion be seen as precisely what it is. Are we going to respect life or not? To include unborn life, disabled life, elderly life, inconvenient life of any form. And that no matter how difficult the situation, murder is no solution to it.

If and I do mean IF bearing a child would kill a woman (I'm thinking of ectopic pregnancy for instance, or severe eclampsia before the age of viability ) I can see the sad need to abort. But we all know that those sorts of cases are nowhere near the majority of abortions that occur.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:50 PM on March 21, 2009


Are we going to respect life or not?

I have no horses in this race, but just in passing, I'd note that if that question is not merely rhetorical, for any value of 'we' that includes large enough sections of our populations to make it worth asking, the answer, if we choose to look at it with clear eyes is: no. Not in the past, not now, and, if I were a betting man, I'd say probably not in the future, either.

We like to lie to our collective selves that we do and will, but it's quite clearly not true. Whether or not the question of abortion is related to that observation or not, though, I do not venture to opine.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:51 PM on March 21, 2009


Are we going to respect life or not?

Why should we? Clearly, for human beings to live, some amount of killing needs to be done. If you mean are we going to (universally) respect human life, I say again, why should we? Society is built on the trade offs we make as to who lives and who dies.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:32 AM on March 22, 2009


Think about this, K:
Churchill: Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?
Socialite: My goodness, Mr. Churchill… Well, I suppose… we would have to discuss terms, of course…
Churchill: Would you sleep with me for five pounds?
Socialite: Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!
Churchill: Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.
You say His law to should be compromised on terms you have decided are more important than His. Now we are haggling about the size of the compromise. The real stunner is that you feel you are so right that you should be able to subject us all to the same compromise. That in effect, Konolia's Laws should supercede those of God and Man.

That's some supersized hubris you pack. You'd do well to think about this:
7:1-6 We must judge ourselves, and judge of our own acts, but not make our word a law to everybody. We must not judge rashly, nor pass judgment upon our brother without any ground. We must not make the worst of people. Here is a just reproof to those who quarrel with their brethren for small faults, while they allow themselves in greater ones. Some sins are as motes, while others are as beams; some as a gnat, others as a camel. Not that there is any sin little; if it be a mote, or splinter, it is in the eye; if a gnat, it is in the throat; both are painful and dangerous, and we cannot be easy or well till they are got out. That which charity teaches us to call but a splinter in our brother's eye, true repentance and godly sorrow will teach us to call a beam in our own. It is as strange that a man can be in a sinful, miserable condition, and not be aware of it, as that a man should have a beam in his eye, and not consider it; but the god of this world blinds their minds. Here is a good rule for reprovers; first reform thyself.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:38 AM on March 22, 2009


KonoAlia - One last try: Please, please, please grow up. A zygote is not a "person" - it cannot maintain homeostasis. It is a parasitic organism that you cannot force someone to sustain against their will. By pretending a zygote is more of a person than it is, you make women less human than they are, insisting that they perform as broodmares, regardless of their own wishes for their lives. Would you have a rape victim bear her attacker's child just because the delivery wouldn't endanger her physical health?

Do you think banning abortion would end the practice? It'll just move it back into the shadows, away from any sort of regulation with respect to sanitation or safety. Once and for all, understand that NO ONE GETS ABORTIONS FOR FUN - it's a tough, gut-wrenching choice that no outside party should have any say in. It's an option that some women need, whether or not it's legal. Anti-choice policies endanger the lives of such women for the sake of someone else's sanctimony. I'd find that a far more ghoulish perversion of civilization than the current policies that allow women control of their own bodies.

There are thousands of other ways to protect and defend life w/o violating someone else's civil rights. Are you a vegan? Do you oppose war and the death penalty on principle? Do you support a vast expansion of low-income health care and foreign aid? Do the ongoing conflicts in Burma, Sri Lanka, Rwanda and so on concern you in the slightest? There's plenty of people - actual people - dying every day that could use some of this compassion of yours. There are plenty of urgent issues that could use your attention.

Forcing up the birthrate in this post-industrial nation of ours is not one of those issues.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:49 AM on March 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am in favor of society recognizing that life begins at conception and that that person has the same rights as any of us.

How about the right to drink? Bear arms? Form contracts? The point is that we confer different rights on these collections of protoplasm enclosing human DNA, from none whatsoever (gametes) to full rights (fully cognitively functioning adults over the age of 21). Exceed the age of 65 in the US, and you get even more rights, e.g., Medicare. We don't even universalize the right to life (capital punishment, war, self-defense). So there isn't one set of rights that applies to all said collections. False premise.

Next?
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:13 PM on March 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Would you have a rape victim bear her attacker's child just because the delivery wouldn't endanger her physical health?

This user has a long history on MeFi. I believe that in the past, it was established that she would disallow abortion in the case you describe.

If she would, it's just another example of the stupidity of her position: "abortion is never okay, except for where I — not God! — say it isn't."

A zygote is not a "person" - it cannot maintain homeostasis.

I would be okay with abortion laws that are based on viability of life outside the womb.

There clearly needs to be compromise: even St. Alia of the Righteous admits to that. All that is left is to determine where the compromise is made. Basing it on viability seems like a sensible starting point.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:43 PM on March 22, 2009


If she would==if she would allow it in the case you describe.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:45 PM on March 22, 2009


There's plenty of people - actual people - dying every day that could use some of this compassion of yours.

I have enough compassion to go around, but thank you.

As to rape, in order to be morally consistent I have to still believe a baby conceived that way deserves life. (see: Ethel Waters.) That doesn't mean I don't think that would be a totally sucky and tragic position for a woman to find herself in.

I am fifty now and it is probably no longer an issue but years ago I informed my family that if I was ever in that situation I would indeed give birth to the child. For those that unlike myself believe that a pregnancy only occurs at implantation and not just at conception, I do believe that hospitals have a treatment that would prevent a pregnancy if sought quickly enough. But again, I believe that God, to put it in the Bible's poetic language "opens and closes the womb" so I don't think there is such a thing as an accidental conception.

Going back to the quote at the top of this post, I think that all these topics are interconnected at a very real level. Our respect for human life and treatment of other people is definitely connected to how we see them and how we see humanity in general. If we had more respect for life in the womb I think it would also translate to more respect for it outside the womb as well. But at the risk of again being painted with the religious nutjob brush I do think it accurate to say that one's view-or lack of a view-regarding God and His authority really is what this boils down most of the time even if unspoken or unconscious. If I don't believe there is a God that I will answer to or that created me and others, why would I care about the products of conception? I am always fairly amazed to hear of prolife atheists for this reason-but even those atheists understand on a philosophical level what disrespect for the foundation of a human life means to respect for life in general.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:43 PM on March 22, 2009


But again, I believe that God, to put it in the Bible's poetic language "opens and closes the womb" so I don't think there is such a thing as an accidental conception.

Whilst I respect your right to hold this opinion, this is the point at which I stop listening.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:55 PM on March 22, 2009


But at the risk of again being painted with the religious nutjob brush I do think it accurate to say that one's view-or lack of a view-regarding God and His authority really is what this boils down most of the time even if unspoken or unconscious.

No, no it really doesn't. It's a civil rights issue, a medical issue, not a religious one. You can understand, can't you, why the insertion of a mythical being into this debate snarls it beyond usefulness? No matter what arguments are made, you can just fall back on your god. It's bloody damn tiresome.

Certainly you can comprehend why we can't use myths to set public policy, right? I mean, suppose I came in here saying "Odin wants us to be pro-choice?" I'd be laughed out of the room and I would deserve it - faith is a great source of personal comfort and legends can be mighty inspiring, sure, but they have absolutely zero place in policy because there's no way to reach a consensus on which faith, myths and legends we shall use to guide us. At least, not without banishing a buncha unbelievers.

Even if I granted that a zygote was a "person," that person still wouldn't have any right to a uterus it wasn't welcome in. I'm not about to dictate to women what they can and can't do with their own bodies because of the power fantasy some desert misogynist dreamed up before the damn dark ages.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:03 PM on March 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Your god has no problem aborting babies up to the age of about 32 weeks, at which point they stand a pretty good chance of living.

We can save your god's abortions back to about age 21 weeks, through extreme medical intervention. It's a less than fifty percent chance, though, and the infant is almost always medically compromised for life.

I've never understood why it should be okay to perform extreme medical intervention on an infant — or dying person — that has been clearly marked for death. Why make so much effort to thwart your god's plans when the resources could save tens or hundreds of lives instead of just one?

In the end, decisions based on some notion of "god" are just useless. They end up being contradictory, impossible, or outright harmful. Theocracy simply does not work. Education is the only way to make the situation better.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:25 PM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


As usual, Carl Sagan pretty much nailed it. Everything else is the beating of a dead horse.
posted by revmitcz at 10:25 PM on March 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


If I want a boy and not a girl, is it my right to get an ultrasound to determine the sex of the child and then to abort the girl that is growing in me?
posted by tellurian at 5:35 AM on March 23, 2009


If I want a boy and not a girl, is it my right to get an ultrasound to determine the sex of the child and then to abort the girl that is growing in me?
posted by tellurian at 5:35 AM on March 23


if you can tell the sex of the fetus before whatever gestational time abortion is illegal in your country/state then yes that is your right

thanks for your insightful question let me know if you need anything else
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:20 AM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Our respect for human life and treatment of other people is definitely connected to how we see them and how we see humanity in general. If we had more respect for life in the womb I think it would also translate to more respect for it outside the womb as well.

Except the "pro-life" position is also strongly correlated anti-life positions once the fetus is out of the womb--being in favor of the death penalty, the war in Iraq, getting those lazy welfare mothers out to work, etc. etc. Name a political issue, aside from abortion, and most pro-lifers show a shocking lack of respect for their fellow humans. (Seriously, did you read that article about welfare in Georgia that was posted a few days ago? How many pro-life people do you think are clambering for universal healthcare and an adequate financial safety net for women like that? Maybe the rare atheist pro-lifers are, but the vast majority of the religious pro-lifers are not. Once that woman's fetus was born, she is on her own, as far as most pro-lifers are concerned. The hypocrisy makes me ill.) You believe what you believe b/c you think your god told you to. And that's fine. For you. Lucky for the rest of us, the U.S. isn't a theocracy.
posted by Mavri at 12:23 PM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Except the "pro-life" position is also strongly correlated anti-life positions

Except it isn't. I'm pro-life, and I am pro-choice. It is the anti-choice crowd that is simultaneously anti-life.

If women are choosing to have unsafe abortions, then that society is not a civilized society. It is a broken society. By design, it causes harm to pregnant women. A society that causes harm to its pregnant women is… well, frankly, it's just batshitinsane.

We have historical evidence that abortions will be sought by choice regardless their safety. We have historical evidence that providing the choice of seeking a safe abortion reduces harm to pregnant women. Clearly, we're on the right path. I strongly support the right to choose a safe abortion: it is the only morally correct choice, by virtue of being the only choice that safeguards all pregnant women.

I am also strongly pro-life. I think we should be "brainwashing" our children to cherish pregnancy and birth, and to never want an abortion so much so that rates drop to a tiny fraction of pregnancies, and most of those for well-founded medical reasons.

The smart money is on pro-choice, pro-life, pro-education solutions.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:22 PM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was "taught to cherish pregnancy and birth." Doesn't mean that as a grown woman I have to choose that all children are blessings, no matter when and where and how I feel about it.

A well-founded medical reason is my own will.
posted by agregoli at 7:39 PM on March 23, 2009


So you support the use of abortion in preference to using contraceptives effectively?

No, you don't.

If you think you and I are in opposition, or that you have somehow scored a point, I suggest you very carefully read what I have been writing. I am absolutely pro-choice, even in those cases where I think the decision is the result of stupidity, carelessness, or even plain sick thinking.

And, again, I am strongly pro-life, and I think it is our duty as a responsible adult society to instill in our children a healthy respect for life and a healthy distaste for the use of abortion as a preferred means of contraception. Everyone who does not wish to be a parent should be choosing to prevent pregnancy in the first place.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:57 PM on March 23, 2009


thanks for your insightful question let me know if you need anything else
I detect an element of sarcasm in your response. But if I'm wrong can I ask, is 'not blue-eyed child' grounds for abortion?
posted by tellurian at 5:49 AM on March 24, 2009


When's the latest I could abort a straw-man?
posted by LordSludge at 6:51 AM on March 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


I detect an element of sarcasm in your response. But if I'm wrong can I ask, is 'not blue-eyed child' grounds for abortion?

if you can tell the eye color of the fetus before whatever gestational time abortion is illegal in your country/state then yeah sure go nuts

do you want to keep doing this
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:01 AM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


tellurian - very obvious, very tiresome. It doesn't matter if the fetus is the next damn Einstein - if the mother doesn't want it there, it's gotta go.

Do you have a point or are you trying to be clever?
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:00 AM on March 24, 2009


(calmly waits for a lull)

Years ago, I read something that seemed to my mind to be a fairly decent compromise to all sides in the abortion debate.

Someone pointed out that, okay, look: in medical terms, we define "death" as "the cessation of any brain activity." Because of this, this person's personal definition of "the beginning of life" was "the beginning of any brain activity".

As it turns out, the point at which brain activity begins in the average fetus is at about 26 weeks or so -- or, the second trimester. Coincidentally, the overwhelming and vast majority of states and countries all permit abortion on demand BEFORE this point, and already start putting limits on abortions AFTER this point in a woman's pregnancy. These limits would already proclude a woman obtaining an abortion simply because "it will have blue eyes". There are ALREADY current laws in place that limit second- and third-trimester abortions to cases where the child's or the mother's life or health are at risk.

An ultrasound performed on a first-trimester pregnancy would be an ultrasound of a being with only just barely recognizeable human features, and a being without any brain activity. Putting a woman contemplating an abortion through that would only delay the process. As for a second- or third-trimester abortion, presumably a woman is only seeking an abortion at that point because she has learned her much-wished-for child is going to be born with a hideously painful disease and she has made the agonizing choice to spare it that pain, or because she is in critical medical danger. Compelling the former woman to go through yet another ultrasound and ask her "are you really really sure you want to do this" would put her through unnecessary mental and emotional anguish, because no doubt she has asked herself that many times, and compelling the latter woman to go through yet another ultrasound could risk her life.

All that Optimus Chyme is saying, tellurian, is that there are already laws in place that regulate abortions. Provided someone is adhering to the laws already on the books, what they choose to do is their own lookout -- just like with many other activities people do in this society.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:14 AM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


one's view-or lack of a view-regarding God and His authority really is what this boils down most of the time even if unspoken or unconscious

Nah. It boils down to whether one claims rights over other people's bodies. Views about God or life have nothing much to do with the policy conflict.
posted by Miko at 1:39 PM on March 24, 2009


I do think it accurate to say that one's view-or lack of a view-regarding God and His authority really is what this boils down most of the time even if unspoken or unconscious. If I don't believe there is a God that I will answer to or that created me and others, why would I care about the products of conception?

So what you're saying is that only religious people can have any ethics, and even the ethics that religious people have aren't really ethics, they're just a desire to avoid the possibility of punishment. Got it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:33 PM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


>I do think it accurate to say that one's view-or lack of a view-regarding God and His authority really is what this boils down most of the time even if unspoken or unconscious. If I don't believe there is a God that I will answer to or that created me and others, why would I care about the products of conception?

So what you're saying is that only religious people can have any ethics, and even the ethics that religious people have aren't really ethics, they're just a desire to avoid the possibility of punishment. Got it.


I actually...don't necessariy think that's what St. Alia Of the Bunnies is saying. I think she is simply saying that one's religious background can influence one's personal opinion on this matter. And -- hell, I'll buy that. She is not saying whether or not one or another opinion is or is not the correct one, only that, "one's background has an influence on one's present opinion." That's just common sense.

And, moreover, that is why we have pro-choice laws on the books -- precisely because everyone has had different backgrounds, and comes from different situations, and thinks different things about this issue. And thus, it is left up to the individual to decide "is this a choice I would make, or no?" St. Alia of the Bunnies has said she would not. I would. She had one specific set of life experiences. I had another set. She came to one choice. I came to another.

The same can be said of any decision. What we came from influences the choices we make. That's neither good nor bad, it just is. And -- like it or not, there are going to be people who think some or another of our choices are good or bad, based on their own backgrounds. That's just the breaks. (We get that way over small things, too -- I just got scandalized over the fact that someone I know just said she hates Necco wafers. The New England Girl in me gasped and said "The hell you say!" when I found that out, but...I'm fron New England and grew upon them, and she didn't. There it is.)

The thing is, though, the law permits each of us to come to our own choices about this issue at present. It is when the law restricts those choices that we run into trouble. I honestly and sincerely have no trouble with someone personally thinking a choice I make is wrong; it is when the government itself then passes a law restricting my ability to make that choice that I"m going to have a problem. Or someone doing something personally to restrict my access to that choice; if there is a law on the books that I can sue them with over that, I will. Think what you will about my choices, but let me make them. In return, I won't think ill of you for thinking ill of me, and I"ll leave you alone too. Because I can't know what you went through to lead you to the choices you made -- I can only trust that, to you, they made sense, just as to me, my own choices make sense.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:04 PM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


....Sorry, I'm verbose.

I'm not saying, however, that we shouldn't form opinions about each other's choices, or we shouldn't state them. However, it would probably improve things all around if those framing opinions would be more careful about how to frame them and whether they'd been thought through. On both sides. Because if I'm actually scoffing at your opinion, it's probably not the opinion itself I'm scoffing at -- it's because I suspect it may have been assembled a little too hastily.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:08 PM on March 24, 2009


Well, one point is that characterizing my position as one only held by "batshitinsane religionuts" is factually incorrect as well as a logically flawed argument.

it's not that it's based on (organized) religion specifically, but that it's based on personal beliefs rather than any shared understanding. To call a zygote a person is an opinion, not a fact. No one celebrates their "conception day"; they celebrate their birthday. We provide birth certificates, and it is on the day of birth that babies are officially made citizens and given the first portion of rights. And as detailed above, not all rights are granted at the same time - as the child grows into an adult, they gain more rights, and more responsibilities.

I am in favor of society recognizing that life begins at conception and that that person has the same rights as any of us. And that abortion be seen as precisely what it is. Are we going to respect life or not? To include unborn life, disabled life, elderly life, inconvenient life of any form.

What about animal life? what about criminal life? what about foreign life?
Life begins before conception - by any philosophical definition of life, sperm and eggs are alive. They die quite quickly if they don't pair up, but they are living cells for some period of time. A new DNA code is created when two of these cells meet, and combine, and presumably this is what you are concerned with, but it takes a long time to build what is in the plan. The two cells have half a blueprint each, and combine with each other, and then attach to a building site inside the mother and begin demanding building materials.

The blueprint builds itself, amazingly, but it is not a completed project right away. It is just the blueprint calling for structural materials, for some minerals to put together the beginning form. Many medieval religious scholars believed the soul entered the body at the "quickening", when the baby first kicks - why is that not reasonable as a personal belief? Other people believe that that first movement is not indicative of any important mind/soul activity but more like the initial testing of certain system-functions, before the entire thing is completed. The point is, these different ways to understand the process are considered equally valid (and have been throughout history and by different religious cultures).

Additionally, as someone above mentioned, that is only half the story. The issue of abortion concerns the rights of fetuses, i.e., whether one believes they are creatures which ought to be endowed with rights, and the rights of women, i.e., whether one believes a woman's rights are impeded by a fetus. If a person snuck up and attached themselves to you as a dialysis machine, so that they were actually using your kidneys and would die if you detached them from your body, would you have the right to detach them nonetheless? You might feel very bad about it, really not want to, think it would be much nicer to serve as their organ/s until they are well enough to fend for themselves - but it is your legal duty? If you are really too busy with your own life, perhaps you can choose not to undertake the care of someone else who you did not invite.

There is a real and important difference between claiming you think something is immoral and you would always choose X and stating that it should be illegal, and everyone must be forced by law to do X. If you can save someone by donating a kidney, should you be forced by law to do it?
posted by mdn at 9:28 PM on March 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Of course St. Alia of Konolia has disappeared. She's a fly-by-night moralist.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:51 PM on March 24, 2009


five fresh fish: "Of course St. Alia of Konolia has disappeared. She's a fly-by-night moralist."

I'm pretty sure it's possible to have this conversation by taking issue with people's positions and not with your fellow members directly. I've said this before, but with a very small pool of conservatives participating at MeFi, it doesn't behoove the rest of us to make them look like set-upon members of gang violence.

I'm not particularly inclined to stick around this thread either, and I'm on the "winning" side here.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:25 PM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is impossible to have this conversation with her. She sweeps into these threads, drops her "I'm so much more moral than all you heathen" bomb, and then disappears into the aether, never to address the factual and logical fallacies in her shallow world view.

If she's being touted as an example of a conservative participant, then the conservatives are truly in deep shit. For starters, she's not actually much of a participant when she refuses to participate. I think your time would be far better spent defending those conservatives who are actually trying to hold conversations.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:51 PM on March 24, 2009


I'm not straw-manning or trying to be clever. Women in India abort their children now because they are not male. In the future you will be able to genetically determine the features of your child (blue eyes). Your stance:
if you can tell the sex of the fetus before whatever gestational time abortion is illegal in your country/state then yes that is your right
if you can tell the eye color of the fetus before whatever gestational time abortion is illegal in your country/state then yeah sure go nuts

This reduces a women's right to the law she is currently living under. If the law says you cannot abort under any circumstances, is that what is right?
What I'm trying to get at is, how do you determine where do the woman and child rights intersect/meet?
Yes, yes. I know you are going to say it isn't a child or person - it's a zygote or foetus and has no rights. Please understand I'm very much pro-choice but I struggle with the basis on which some abortions are made.
posted by tellurian at 5:36 AM on March 25, 2009


This reduces a women's right to the law she is currently living under. If the law says you cannot abort under any circumstances, is that what is right?
What I'm trying to get at is, how do you determine where do the woman and child rights intersect/meet?


That depends on what the culture/society in question has decided for itself. Not everyone is going to come up with the same answer about that.

Yes, yes. I know you are going to say it isn't a child or person - it's a zygote or foetus and has no rights.

This is both correct and incorrect. It is not a full human yet, in the sense that if, at a certain point, you removed it from a womb, it would not be able to survive -- it is dependant on the very body of another human being for its physical survival. Therefore, at certain stages of the pregnancy, it is essentially a parasitic organism, and in my opinion, a person should have a certain say as to whether or not a parasitic organism should be allowed to exist within them. Pregnancy is hard on the female body, even in the best of circumstances. And not all circumstances are the best. Pregnancy can be medically dangerous, and so can childbirth. And thus the female should have the right to decide "I don't want my body to be put through that."

However, over a nine-month pregnancy, there's a sliding scale as to when the fetus is viable and how viable it is. That is why there is a sliding scale as to how many rights the fetus or unborn child also has. Really, the only thing I think you'll find is where on the sliding scale different people place that rubicon, but everyone seems to agree that sliding scale is there. And it is a very large gray area, and opinions vary.

Please understand I'm very much pro-choice but I struggle with the basis on which some abortions are made.

Same here. But -- seeing as how an individual is also free to NOT have an abortion, even if their doctors are recommending they SHOULD have one, then that is a matter of indidvidual choice. The current laws in this country which already exist prevent the worst kinds of abuses that you're leery of. What is happening in India is indeed a shame, but -- for those of us who do not happen to live in India, or under India's laws, those laws are moot. India's habits do not affect America's laws. The only thing that can affect America's laws are the collective opinions of the American people.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:38 AM on March 25, 2009


Of course St. Alia of Konolia has disappeared. She's a fly-by-night moralist.
posted by five fresh fish 10 hours ago [+]


I haven't gone anywhere-except to work, and all that real life stuff that interferes with computer time.

I'm following the thread, and if I have anything to add I will. I've pretty much shared my perspective and am curious what else you expect from me.

But I will add that I do believe we are responsible to a Higher Power for our actions and that all of us will answer for every idle word, much less our every action. Which means what I do with my body, to include put it in situations where a pregnancy is a possibility, has ramifications.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:00 AM on March 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


what I do with my body, to include put it in situations where a pregnancy is a possibility, has ramifications.

Sure it does. If I get pregnant, one ramification might be that I decide to have an abortion, because I don't want to be pregnant.
posted by Miko at 10:38 AM on March 25, 2009


But I will add that I do believe we are responsible to a Higher Power for our actions and that all of us will answer for every idle word, much less our every action. Which means what I do with my body, to include put it in situations where a pregnancy is a possibility, has ramifications.

I consider myself a believer, but I cannot hold with a God who would judge without infinite compassion and understanding. Sometimes abortion is just the correct choice. And a woman has the absolute right to say that her life is more important than the potentiality of the embryo which is dependant on her for survival. It's a hard thing, but there it is. I have absolutely no regrets about mine, and I cherish the son I did have.
posted by jokeefe at 11:55 AM on March 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I consider myself a believer, but I cannot hold with a God who would judge without infinite compassion and understanding.

I too believe in a God with infinite compassion and understanding, but He has other attributes as well. Justice. Holiness. Infinite wisdom.

I'm more than okay letting Him sort things out-what I mean by that is I have no need or desire to judge you for your choice, but I do feel sadness. And the truth is no matter what what was done cannot be undone-but my hope is that in general our society will once again see children as something to cherish and as treasures and not as inconveniences and "things that hold you back from what you want to do." In no way am I accusing you personally of having these attitudes-but it's more than obvious we have a society that does. That kind of society does not do nearly enough to support moms and children. (And yes, some of my fellow Republicans are getting a baleful glare from me on that topic-there's more Democrat in me than some of you would think.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:15 PM on March 25, 2009


I'm more than okay letting Him sort things out-what I mean by that is I have no need or desire to judge you for your choice, but I do feel sadness.

Are you admitting to technically being pro-choice? Would you say the same thing to someone who made a statement about having killed their wife (and never having been arrested/tried for it)?

That is all being pro-choice means. Whatever sadness you feel, whatever choice you believe is the better one, whatever you would do in the situation, IF you still leave that choice to the woman rather than the government in the end, you are pro-choice.
posted by mdn at 1:28 PM on March 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


That kind of society does not do nearly enough to support moms and children.

Certainly, it doesn't. I found it fascinating that when support for mothers and children was increased in Ireland, the number of babies available for adoption -that is, the number of unwanted babies born - dropped so dramatically.

But if you wish to see that kind of society, doesn't that indicate that your efforts would be far better spent working on legislation increasing support for mothers with young children, single mothers, low-income mothers, low-income children - all of those areas? If that is your real concern, isn't that the place to be effective? Why turn your attention to pregnancy? The time of pregnancy is not when women and children encounter the greatest paucity of resources, neglect, lack of opportunity, and lack of support. It's after birth that those negatives arise.

I would also love to see a society in which every child who is born is wanted and provided for. It's hard to imagine such a society ever existing, though, if women have no choice but to bear children they don't want and go through pregnancies they aren't interested in supporting. The truth is that children can and do hold some women back from things they'd rather be doing; why would I imagine it to be in the best interests of a child to have a mother who feels badly about that?

For me, opposition to legal abortion becomes most confusing when we get to this point. You say you want to support women and children: on that we agree. Then why are you so bothered at what happens before women give birth? Why be so concerned about how their pregnancy starts, or whether they choose to bring the baby to term? Or if that is of concern, and you'd like to see fewer abortions, why not campaign for cheaper contraceptives, easier access to them, better sexual-health education for young women? Why not create a social safety net that provide abundant resources for parents, so that when a young, unskilled, low-income woman finds herself pregnant she doesn't have to face the economic reality of two lives severely and negatively impacted by the prospect of impoverishment?

In other words, I understand your motives, but not your actions. They don't logically follow on one another. People who care about women and children work to create a society that meets their needs for health, safety, education, and resources. They don't look to confine them with invasive laws that turn reasonable choices into crimes, nor do they bother themselves with moral arguments about who should or shouldn't be having sex, when, and with whom. You don't get to that society that values and cares for life by shaming women who reject the option of parenthood for whatever reason, or by implying they are unholy or will be poorly judged by God - as if you could know that.

If you really believe what you say about wanting a society that cherishes life, start living it. Right now, you're way off course.
posted by Miko at 1:32 PM on March 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm not straw-manning or trying to be clever. Women in India abort their children now because they are not male

The problem here is not abortion but gender preference. Gender preference is a problem which exceeds abortion: I am quite sure that female children undergo difficulties after they are born if they are sometimes aborted before they are born simply for being female. Taking away the right to abortion will not solve a problem of gender preference, and a problem of gender preference can be solved without making any change in abortion policy. IN fact, in this particular case, reducing women's rights is very unlikely to increase the status of female children.
posted by mdn at 2:11 PM on March 25, 2009


Miko, thank you for saying that so succinctly.
posted by agregoli at 4:25 PM on March 25, 2009


Then why are you so bothered at what happens before women give birth?

Because I see this as about two people, not just one.

In other words, I understand your motives, but not your actions

What is so hard to understand about the fact I believe personhood begins at conception?

You are certainly free to disagree with me on this point, but it is illogical for you to say you don't understand it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:28 PM on March 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


As an anti-choicer, you prefer woman to seek an unsafe abortion versus providing them access to safe abortion.

Anti-choice is anti-womankind. It's the Nazism of abortion.

When you say "I see this as about two people, not just one" you mean "I see this as about punishing women for crossing my religion, and saving those precious, innocent babies!"

You absolutely do not mean to say you care about the health of womankind¹. Banning abortion increases harm to women. You must come to terms with that fact. You need to make your moral compass align with reality. You are causing more harm than good.

It makes the Baby Jesus cry.

¹You could mean to say you care about the spiritual outcome of womankind, i.e. "protecting them for their own good." Let's assume you're not in support of theocracy.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:45 PM on March 25, 2009


It's the Nazism of abortion.

Hah! I can't believe you said that with (presumably) a straight face. That's got to be one of the most perfect flaming-bag-of-poop, dialogue-halting sentences I've ever seen. No way to crack it open safely, no matter which direction you approach it from. Kudos!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:57 PM on March 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


What is so hard to understand about the fact I believe personhood begins at conception?

Nothing; I get that. But while you fret about the fetuses, what are you doing right now to help women and children who already exist? Babies being born right now? Children who are inadequately supported? Women who can't earn enough to take their kids to the dentist or feed them healthy food? What are you doing to help girls and young women learn about contraception so there won't be any "two people" to worry about - just one, who needs information and support?

The lack of logic is in your choosing to focus on a part of another woman's life that you have no legal or moral control over or responsibility for. It baffles me how and why you can do this while not doing anything about the host of ways you could actually be effective preventing unwanted pregnancy and/or providing support for women who do bear children. There's an enormous gap between what you say you value, and where you place your attention and focus your argument.

If you really want to to prevent abortion, find out how to get condoms to kids, get out there and promote comprehensive sex education, and start creating a society with fair living wages, safe and low-cost child care, affordable family health care, and good support for non-working mothers and their children - a society in which you can demonstrate to potential parents that parenthood won't be a financial and personal disaster. I think the change you could create this way would be near-miraculous and would drastically reduce the number of abortions.

But it seems to me that most anti-choice people are not actually interested in reducing the number of abortions. Because we know exactly how to do that - the practices I mentioned above - and they're not in support of those things, even though they will reduce the number of abortions dramatically. They're more interested in moralizing and nosing into other people's lives. If that weren't so, they'd have figured out a way to be useful by now.
posted by Miko at 9:04 PM on March 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


Kudos!

Efharisto. σας ευχαριστώ για την παρατήρηση.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:17 PM on March 25, 2009


St. Alia of the Bunnies: "What is so hard to understand about the fact I believe personhood begins at conception?"

You know, I have no issue with that. What I find interesting is the idea that if the rest of us just understood that life begins at conception, there's a little human person in there, and that abortion means death, we'd all somehow have a magical parting of the clouds and suddenly be anti-choice as well.

Within the US legal framework, we tolerate a lot of unpalatable stuff for a free society and the greater good. We tolerate some pretty sick porn (and I say this as someone who likes porm just fine) in the name of free speech. We require more difficult licensing to own a car than we do to own a gun in defence of the right to bear arms. And we allow women to access safe and legal abortions in the name of autonomy over their own bodies.

I don't have any need to gloss over reality. I am perfectly, completely and totally fine with the notion that we kill itty bitty defenceless little foetuses so that no woman is ever forced to carry to term a child she does not want to bear. That, to me, is the greater good. To you, it isn't. There is no middle ground here, and that is why we let each women make her own choice according to her own morals, ethics and needs.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:26 PM on March 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


Whatever sadness you feel, whatever choice you believe is the better one, whatever you would do in the situation, IF you still leave that choice to the woman rather than the government in the end, you are pro-choice.

Quoted for truth.

It is possible to dislike the ACT of abortion on PRINCIPLE, but still support the right of an individual to pursue it. I mean, it's not like people deliberately get pregnant just because abortions are so dang fun. The pro-choice movement is not about "abortions yay!" It's about "does the government have the right to dictate the final decision in this matter."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:29 AM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I believe personhood begins at conception?

It comes down to this: you believe that, and it's a perfectly fine thing for you to believe and to incoporate into your moral choices, but I don't believe that. Why should your beliefs trump mine when it comes to making law? Especially when what your beliefs are about is something happening within my own body, to which I have the rights?
posted by Miko at 7:02 AM on March 26, 2009


It comes down to this: you believe that, and it's a perfectly fine thing for you to believe and to incoporate into your moral choices, but I don't believe that. Why should your beliefs trump mine when it comes to making law? Especially when what your beliefs are about is something happening within my own body, to which I have the rights?

Well, in order to be morally consistent in believing that a fetus is a person, I HAVE to believe it has the right to live no matter what its address is-whether a frozen test tube in a lab or someone's uterus.

And biology being what it is, an embryo doesn't just turn up in someone's uterus. If a person does not wish to be pregnant, they either need to be extremely consistent with a proven birth control method or they need to avoid sexual activity, period. Leaving the hard cases (rape, incest and so forth) out, pregnancy for the most part is a natural consequence of particular activity. If I believe that an unborn child is a person from conception, what gives me or anyone the right to destroy that person's life, no matter what my excuse might be?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:51 PM on March 26, 2009


Miko and St. Alia, I think you're having two different conversations. St. Alia is talking about the act of abortion as an event, while Miko, you seem to be talking strictly of who has the right to decide things about that act.

It is possible to dislike abortion but still believe that the government shouldn't get mixed up in it. St. Alia, we understand that you don't like abortion, and are reserving the right to state that personal opinion; what we want to know is, do you believe the government should leave the decision to have or not have an abortion up to the individual, so that decision is between the individual and God?

And Miko: if St. Alia grants that the government should stay out of a woman's right to choice, can you accept that she still nevertheless has the right to say "but, for the record, I just personally don't like it"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:05 PM on March 26, 2009


HAVE to believe it has the right to live no matter what

Like I said, I get that you believe it. Nobody's unclear about that. And I get that you feel a moral imperative to prevent or reduce abortion. But I want to hear you explain why what you believe should be the basis for law governing others.

an embryo doesn't just turn up in someone's uterus.

Here's where the moral condemnation comes in.

they either need to be extremely consistent with a proven birth control method

And many people are. Even consistently used, proven methods have a failure rate that results in a fair amount of pregnancies each year. So it's really vital that, until we have 100% effective, inexpensive, and widely available contraceptive methods, we retain the right to back up those failures with the availability of safe, legal abortion. Because currently, those failures are inevitable and not uncommon.

or they need to avoid sexual activity, period.

SIt strikes me as none of your business whether people have sex or not. Personally, I believe it's up to them, and I don't see why people shouldn't have sex if they want to and if they understand and accept the risks.

One risk of sex is definitely pregnancy, and that's something people can and do accept. You seem to think it's a drastic consequence, but not everyone does. Almost everyone who has sex, barring the severely impaired or very poorly educated, knows it's a possible outcome. Does that mean they should never have sex? I don't think so. I think it's reasonable to accept the risks of sex and understand what your consequences might be if you conceive - those consequences potentially including pregnancy, birth, miscarriage, mother's death, stillbirth, or abortion.

Now, I think things work much, much better when people interested in having sex have a ton of information about it and its consequences. Comprehensive sex education is an excellent way to get that across. It's better if people know that sex can cause pregnancy (among other things), and that unimpeded pregnancy generally leads to childbirth. So they should learn that if they don't want to have a child, they should first do everything they can to prevent pregnancy. Then they should be able to learn all the ways there are to prevent pregnancy, including abstinence which is a fine way if they decide sex isn't that important to them, but also contraception because a lot of times it is that important. They should learn all about the different contraceptive options and their benefits and drawbacks (even if they don't think they're going to need that information, because as we know, a large percentage of women who choose abstinence don't end up following through with that choice - and their lack of information increases the likelihood they'll get pregnant). When and if they choose a contraception method, they should learn to use it right. And when and if that method fails, they should know that it's legal and possible for them to have an abortion, at least in the first trimester.

I certainly think society as a whole is a lot better off when people know all this before they have sex, and when we can deal with the consequences of bad decisions and contraceptive failure and so on without insisting that a pregnancy and a child result. Since I don't think there's shame or sin in sex, I don't see the need to insist that people not have sex. And since I don't think there's shame or sin in abortion, I have absolutely no problem with recognizing that we have this entire system including abortion in place and orienting people to the use of it. It doesn't follow for me that because someone doesn't want to be a parent, they shouldn't have sex. There are several embedded leaps of logic in that thinking that aren't widely shared. We've got a pretty good system for preventing unwanted children for being born. I don't think that a prudish feeling that people shouldn't be having sex in the first place should prevent anyone from using it.

Throughout human history we've labored long and hard to make sure sex didn't have to always mean pregnancy. We're almost there, though our methods aren't perfect or fair yet. It's a good thing.

Now, there is still a shared societal interest in reducing abortion, even though it is legal, and that's one of efficiency. It's not the best use of resources and not particularly convenient for either the woman or medical staff. So we can all probably agree that we'd like less of it. And in fact, we know a lot of ways to be sure that there's less of it. But outlawing abortion isn't a very effective way to do that.

. If I believe that an unborn child is a person from conception, what gives me or anyone the right to destroy that person's life, no matter what my excuse might be?

The belief and the right are two different things. If you believe personhood begins at conception, you are welcome to choose not to have an abortion - but you still have the right to. Funny thing, that, and I know a lot of pro-lifers do choose to use that right. But your belief doesn't make the right go away. What gives other people the right to destroy what you believe is "a person's life" is the law of the land, the recognition that an existing individual's real personhood, includingsovereignty over her own body, supercedes the fetus' claims to legal personhood. And also the recognition that it's for the good of the society that abortion is legal - that it causes less harm to have legal abortion than to illegalize abortion. Law based on reason and utility gives people the right to an abortion. Your beliefs aren't sufficient to take it away.

Again, I totally get that you don't want any fetuses killed because you believe they're tiny human beings sent from God. But that's an entirely separate question from the question of whether illegalizing abortion would somehow be less harmful to life overall, and also an entirely separate question from whether people have sex.

I'd love to address the question of why you think your belief should be the one represented in law. Saying "having sex leads to pregnancy" is not an argument to support illegalizing abortion, because, you know, having sex doesn't always lead to pregnancy, and when it does, we have legal abortion. I think you have every right not to have an abortion, to discourage abortion, to encourage others not to have abortions, to help women and their children, to work for better contraception, to promote sex education, and to hate abortion all you want. What I don't accept is the idea that you have the right to make a law that restricts other people's reproductive rights, based on something you believe.
posted by Miko at 2:39 PM on March 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


The problem with believing that life begins at conception is that after conception, two embryos can become one (chimerism), one embryo can become many (identical twins etc.) and at least one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage.

So, if each embryo is an individual "soul" what's the deal with twins or chimeras? If you can get several people from each embryo, aren't you killing them by not splitting that embryo? Hasn't a murder occurred when a chimera makes two possible people into one?

And a 20% death rate, kinda high-- and that's probably low because many pregnancies probably end before a woman even knows she's been pregnant.

I can certainly understand taking your own faith-based perspective on this (but not imposing it on others) And the complexity means that I don't think the question of when life begins is actually really answerable.
posted by Maias at 2:46 PM on March 26, 2009


Empress Callipygos, I know very well what we're both saying; I don't need any help parsing St. Alia. What I'm trying to do is to call her out on our actual point of disagreement, which she's hedging on, because she knows it comes down to religious belief. She's avoiding clearly stating "I think abortion should be illegal," though I'm pretty sure that she does and that it underlies her political activity and choices. A few people have already tried to get her to say that the government shouldn't force pregnancy on women. She hasn't wanted to say that; presumable that's not her view. So I'd like to get her to articulate what her view is, because I'm pretty sure it's that the government should be able to force pregnancy on women. She's aware that as long as she doesn't say that, she's pretty much off the hook as far as being accountable for it.

if St. Alia grants that the government should stay out of a woman's right to choice, can you accept that she still nevertheless has the right to say "but, for the record, I just personally don't like it"?

Of course. I've never said otherwise. In fact I've said it's a perfectly fine belief. I've never held any other position.
posted by Miko at 2:47 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another very lovely blog post on struggling with what it means for pregnant women to give up children, and what it means to have an abortion: Abortion Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry. Just a short excerpt (the entire thing is very much worth reading):

My mother's heartbreak was almost unbearable to absorb. Her guilt, her worry, her desire to both know and not know whether he'd been given a happy life, whether she'd done right by him to give him up. She insisted that there was no regret - she'd done what she had to do, she had no choice, it was the best thing to do, the only thing to do, at the time - but regret is complicated. She didn't regret making the choice that seemed best for him, but she still hurt over that choice. She hurt over that choice because it represented a loss, for her. Because it represented the loss of an unknown and unknowable future. Because it was a choice that changed someone else's life, someone else's future. Because some part of her felt that she needed to explain that choice, perhaps apologize for that choice. Make it clear that the choice was made out of love.

The choice that caused her so much pain was not the same kind of choice that I made. There is no one to whom to explain my choice. There is no one to whom to apologize. No claim can be made that my choice was made out of love. There is no one to whom I might make that claim. Because that's how abortion differs from adoption: it means that the only person you need ever - can ever - explain your choice to is yourself. It doesn't matter whether you're sorry or not. Abortion means never having to say you're sorry. It means never even having to consider the question.

Which is not to say, of course, that we don't consider the question.

posted by iminurmefi at 3:30 PM on March 26, 2009


On that note, seems like a good place for I'm Not Sorry.
posted by Miko at 3:38 PM on March 26, 2009


So I'd like to get her to articulate what her view is, because I'm pretty sure it's that the government should be able to force pregnancy on women. She's aware that as long as she doesn't say that, she's pretty much off the hook as far as being accountable for it.

See, I'm not seeing that -- I'm thinking she's saying, "I will grant you government staying out of it, but i'm still not personally going to stop believing it's wrong." Some people think that claiming the pro-choice position means that you have to start thinking abortion is moral.

Again and again I see St. Alia saying "because I am religious I have to believe it is wrong"; I've not seen her make the jump to "and therefore because I believe it is wrong I think the government should step in".

A common misconception I've seen is that people think "pro-choice" means "also thinking abortion is moral", and that's my hunch as to why she keeps talking about "look, I just don't think that," because she is still connecting the act itself, and the question of who has the right to decide for an individual. I think her position is more like mine on smoking: I think smoking is terribly harmful to people, and i'm not going to be convinced otherwise. But -- I also think the individual has the right to decide for themselve what to do. The fact that I believe the individual should decide for him or herself about smoking, though, isn't going to stop me from personally thinking "smoking is harmful".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:06 PM on March 26, 2009


It might not be clear based on what she's saying in this thread, but I would be really shocked if she had undergone a sudden change of heart which makes her support the egality abortion. I agree that sometimes people do think that pro-choice means thinking abortion is moral.

I've not seen her make the jump to "and therefore because I believe it is wrong I think the government should step in".


She hasn't, but as I said, I think it's only because she's really trying hard not to have to, because it's a much harder position to defend. But unless she's really changed, she does believe the government should step in and outlaw abortion. I realize she hasn't said it in this thread, but this isn't the first time it's been discussed with her here. Or the tenth. Or the twentieth...

Seriously, it would be awesome to see her come in and say "I've decided to stop fighting legal abortion and have turned my energy instead to sexual health counseling/aiding young mothers in need/whatver." But based on past experience, it would be a real surprise.
posted by Miko at 5:11 PM on March 26, 2009


And we allow women to access safe and legal abortions in the name of autonomy over their own bodies.

No. We allow access to safe abortions because not allowing it kills women.

Abortion has been around for thousands of years. It is never, ever going to go away. The only people who do not believe that are in denial of reality.

So the choice is pretty clear: either choose to create a situation in which women are shredded and die from acts of illegal abortion. Or choose to create a situation in which they can obtain a safe abortion.

St. Alia, how do you reconcile the inevitable outcome of your desire to ban abortion?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:25 PM on March 26, 2009


See, I'm not seeing that -- I'm thinking she's saying, "I will grant you government staying out of it, but i'm still not personally going to stop believing it's wrong."

If she would agree to that, then she would be agreeing to being pro-choice. No one is concerned about what her individual beliefs are if the law remains unchanged - that is entirely her business, and she can swear to never have an abortion no matter what, if that's what she thinks is best. But it shouldn't be a political issue. And if she is Konolia, she has specifically said she would never vote for a pro-choice candidate, even those who agree with her on a personal level (like the catholic John Kerry) but do not want to impose that personal belief on others.

It's true that too many people fail to understand the validity of moral opposition combined with political tolerance. This is unfortunate as there are plenty of democratic candidates who want abortion to be "safe, legal and rare" and the republican party still gets a fair number of voters just by pounding the "pro-life" platform. BUt to be clear, the "pro-life" platform is not about morality, as people with either position can have the same moral view. This issue is about freedom of religion and respect for other beliefs.

If St. Thomas Aquinas didn't believe that the fetus was ensouled until movement was felt, is that not a reasonable position for a modern person to take? Why is your system the only acceptable one? You and your family are free to never have any abortions ever, but if I have a different belief, is it not unAmerican to hold me to your doctrine by force of law? That does not mean you have to change your belief, just that you accept reasonable people may disagree.

If you believe the fetus is not meaningfully alive, or if you believe the woman's right to her body trumps any rights of the fetus anyway, or if you believe that variation in belief has to be respected, then you are Pro-Choice. ONLY if you think that the fetus IS meaningfully alive, the woman MUST carry it to term, and the government CAN force her to do so, no matter what she believes, should you call yourself politically "Pro-Life."
posted by mdn at 7:51 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]



If St. Thomas Aquinas didn't believe that the fetus was ensouled until movement was felt, is that not a reasonable position for a modern person to take


He didn't have an ultrasound machine. Nor a microscope. Nor was he a biologist.

Here is what I base my beliefs on:

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.


I have given the politics of this a lot of thought. And it is true that if abortion were outlawed that there would still be abortions. What needs to change are human hearts.

Because I know that being a society that sees killing unborn children as a solution to problems is a society that God WILL have to judge. Because He is a God of justice as well as a God of mercy, and the slaughter of innocents never ever ever escapes His attention.

Frankly, looking at what is going on in the world these days, I think we're there.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:07 PM on March 26, 2009


We understand your religious perspective, St. Alia. That is clear.

But please, kindly answer the simple question -- do you believe the government should ALSO judge, or should that decision be left to God and the individual alone?

I can't help but notice that you keep ducking that question, actually.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:45 PM on March 26, 2009


Let me answer that question:

WE are the government. WE are the ones who elect politicians who pass laws and who appoint judges who have brought us to where we are today.

Abortion is evil. Yes, I would love it outlawed BUT that would not solve the problem. Just like theft and assault and rape are all illegal-but they still exist.

But like the stupid joke about the 100 lawyers at the bottom of the sea, it would be a good start.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:51 PM on March 26, 2009


So you DO believe that the government should restrict access to abortion.

So when you said "I'm more than okay letting Him sort things out," that was a crock, because if you think that government should outlaw abortion, that means you also think that God is so weak He needs the government to back Him up.

...Okay, I think I've got you sussed now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:10 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Come now. I support restricted access to abortion. I think that after circa 30 weeks, it should require a doctor to certify it as a medically necessary procedure.

I need to re-read the past fifteen or so messages, but from what I skimmed I gleaned that K has finally admitted to recognizing that regardless of law, some women will inevitably choose to abort, and that it's way better for it to be a safe abortion than a back-alley hack job.

So really, we're only arguing over the details now.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:48 PM on March 26, 2009


Come now. I support restricted access to abortion. I think that after circa 30 weeks, it should require a doctor to certify it as a medically necessary procedure.

No, me too. My point, though, was that St. Alia admitted she would indeed want to see abortion outlawed.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:14 PM on March 26, 2009


Abortion is evil. Yes, I would love it outlawed BUT that would not solve the problem. Just like theft and assault and rape are all illegal-but they still exist.

One of these things is not like the others, sweetheart.

Interesting that you try to equate rape with a woman making a choice for her own body, doubly so because you think a rape victim should have to bear her attacker's child. You haven't thought this through at all, have you?

(To be fair, that's a trick question. The anti-choice doctrine can't survive much thinking through.)

You need to quit dragging your god into this medical and civil rights debate. Deities are absolutely irrelevant in the eyes of the law. Your god cannot have anything to do with public policy. I'm going to repeat that, and I want you to do the same every night before you go to bed: YOUR GOD CANNOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH PUBLIC POLICY. Seriously.

Your faith tells you that the abortions other women chose to have are A) immoral and B) somehow your business - however, your last couple comments suggest that you also have faith that C) the magic sky wizard will smite us all for allowing women this autonomy. Then what are you worried about? If you're right, we're all gonna get ours, aren't we?

Christ ... trying to appeal to an anti-choicer by way of logic ... now that's an act of faith.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:28 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Got a chance to re-read.

We get bafflegab from her. It would be eversonice to get a straight answer from her.

Straight Question: St. Alia of the Bunnies, do you believe that a woman should be able to choose to have a safe abortion without requiring a medical prescription, ie. without being told by a doctor that she needs one?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:41 PM on March 26, 2009


In re-re-reading, no. It looks like she has been direct. I was trying to be charitable, but it undoubtedly says that she believes and supports a ban on abortion.

So she believes and supports causing harm to women.

St. Alia of the Bunnies, you are evil. You are full of deceit, presenting yourself as righteous and good, but perverting the spirit and ways of Christ. Did Christ seek to ban immorality? Did Christ seek rule through law? Did Christ seek earthly judgement of sinners? No, No, No.

Enjoy hell.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:49 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


FFF, do me a favor, go read Psalm 139, think about just Who is the author of life, think about the fact that conceptions don't just happen (lots of fertile people try to get pregnant and struggle) and then tell me just how you think God can smile on abortion.

Really. Can you really imagine Jesus escorting a woman into an abortion clinic? Can you really see God smiling as a child He knit together (what a poetic way to describe the dna combining, no?) is sucked down a clinic sink?

The same Jesus who told the disciples not to hinder the little children to come to Him weeps as so many little children never even get to see one sunrise.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:55 AM on March 27, 2009


St. Alia, how many orphans have you adopted?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:25 AM on March 27, 2009


Konolia, I do not in any way propose that God "smiles upon abortion" or that Jesus would have walked women to clinics. It is stupid beyond belief to think I would say those things.

The red-letter Jesus did not try to use law to force people to follow his ways.

The red-letter Jesus did not ask for women to be punished.

The red-letter Jesus did not behave as you do.

You present yourself as a holy person. You present yourself as a follower as Jesus.

In reality, you are Screwtape.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:46 AM on March 27, 2009


St. Alia, you have to remember that this stuff you're quoting as argument is just a book of ancient poetry to a lot of people. You really haven't shown that it should be relevant. And in fact, it shouldn't. We don't live in a theocracy. So what the Bible says is relevant when we're discussing what you personally believe about it, or what a religious group or historian believes about it, but totally irrelevant when we're discussing what should be legal or illegal. It's just not one of the things to be referenced.

But I'll look at th verses with you briefly. Those verses are lovely, but we can all see that none of them end with the words "...so abortion should be legal." That's not an oversight; there were ways to end pregnancies in Biblical times, and people used them. You can read those verses and still find the situation morally complex. For instance:

All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.


It's quite possible to beleive that and still believe that if God has preordained everything, then he already knew that some lives he started would be aborted, by nature or by will, and could still have had a purpose for that and an understanding of that.

In other words, the verses about wombs here don't constitute a prohibition. You're reading that in at a personal interpretive level.

Can you really imagine Jesus escorting a woman into an abortion clinic?

To be honest, I think that if you're actually a Christian and you can't imagine this, under any circumstances, then there's something flawed in your understanding of Jesus. If he is who you think, he's not only escorting, he's also counseling her beforehand, sitting there holding the woman's hand through the procedure, comforting her after, and helping her through the rest of the days of her life, without judgement or condemnation, with love and compassion, in a personal relationship with her alone that has nothing to do with you.

It's a serious fissure in your religious outlook that you invoke his name and wrap yourself in his cloak while being utterly unwilling to do as he would.
posted by Miko at 7:55 AM on March 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


So, Miko, is Jesus patting Hitler on the head right now and softly telling him he was just a confused boy with a bad upbringing?

Jesus is not just the kind guy who loves prostitutes and sinners. (btw they were the ones falling at his feet and repenting while the religious dudes were sneering and having a cow about Him healing on the Sabbath.) He is also the guy with fire in His eyes that Revelation describes as so scary that John fell at his feet as tho dead.

And I will -literally-be damned if I would think God would look kindly at someone who ripped the stitches out of His knitting.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:30 AM on March 27, 2009


Konolia - this is getting ridiculous. Come now, be out with it - do you think the United States ought to be a theocracy? Don't duck this question. You seem to be arguing for biblical law in a nation founded on the notion that church and state ought to be separate. I want a succinct answer here - do you really think your bible ought to be the law of the land?

And if so, what shall we do with our Muslim citizens, our non-believing citizens, our Buddhist citizens, our Pagan citizens, our Hindu citizens and so on? What will become of those of us who see your bible as merely a book?

Furthermore, which flavor of Christianity shall we base our laws upon? Catholic? Evangelical? Protestant (and in that case, which sub-group)? Mormon? Will these laws still be "pro-life" if we obey the calls for human and animal sacrifice in the Old Testament? Which Jesus will be our Attorney General? Do you reckon capitalism could survive his economic edicts?

So let's have an answer - should the U.S. be a theocracy? And if so, what kind? Don't duck this question - it's the next logical step in your argument, since you keep quoting scripture as if it proves anything.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:31 AM on March 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Jesus is not just the kind guy who loves prostitutes and sinners.

Uhm, yes he was.

"Jesus" ... you keep using this name .. i do not think it means what you think it means.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:33 AM on March 27, 2009


Okay, what you say about God is all very well and good, St. Alia, but -- see, I have a Talmud that says different. It says that "the embryo is considered to be mere water until the fortieth day" of the pregnancy. It also states that the unborn child is "as the thigh of its mother," meaning that deemed to be part and parcel of the pregnant woman's body as opposed to being a separate entity.

The Bible says one thing. This Talmud says another.

Congress isn't allowed to pick sides because of the First Amendment. For the government to outlaw abortion entirely, it would have to pick sides in that debate, and this would be an unconstitutional act.

Are you saying that you know better than the Talmud? Or the Constitution? Are you saying that Jews don't have a right to believe as they do and follow that belief?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:46 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, Miko, is Jesus patting Hitler on the head right now and softly telling him he was just a confused boy with a bad upbringing?

What do you think about that? What do you think has happened to Hitler?

What would Jesus do?

How do you know?

And I will -literally-be damned if I would think God would look kindly at someone who ripped the stitches out of His knitting.

I have a better opinion of God than you do.

With the Hitler example, I know you're reaching for an extreme, but even that isn't something I have trouble with. For one thing, we all know that women who don't want to be pregnant and who abort a fetus at an early stage of development are just not the moral equivalent of Hitler, who ordered the mass murder of millions of adult human beings. To assert that they're equivalent is a rather frightening trivialization of Hitler's activities.

But even so, I'm not called upon to speculate about what should happen between Hitler and God. What my religion teaches is that God and Hitler are in their own unique relationship. I don't presume to know what Jesus or God would do or say to one of the most extreme examples of human will perverted to cruel and destructive ends. It's actually not for me to decide. It's important to me that I recognize the limits of my imagination and understand that I can't even comprehend what God's justice would look like. Nor can I fathom the depths of his compassion.

Human justice was brought to bear on people who perpetrated the acts of genocide in World War II, and it's enough for me to exercise my human judgement that the actions were criminal and wrong, without reference to God. More than enough, in fact, since many received the death penalty (which I oppose as being outside the bounds of human justice). We don't need to worry about what God thinks of people who do wrong. That's God's department. We need to worry about ourselves and our own ethical choices.

If you're worrying about someone else's ethical choices, not about what's fair under human justice, then you're in someone else's business, intruding on their relationship with the divine.

I'm not sure why you feel so entitled to step beyond yourself and dictate that others live by your ethical code
posted by Miko at 9:07 AM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


He didn't have an ultrasound machine. Nor a microscope. Nor was he a biologist.

so you think science should answer the question of whether the fetus is alive now? Then what about the fact that it doesn't have a brain stem until the second trimester or as Malas laid out above that in the early stages one can become two (or the reverse)? In any case, fetuses don't begin moving at conception, so if movement is the key, there is still room for variation in belief. I think Aristotle had the quickening at 40 days for boys and 80 days for girls, which is even earlier than what most ultrasounds say - but it is still not conception.

Really. Can you really imagine Jesus escorting a woman into an abortion clinic?

Can you imagine someone not believing in Jesus?

Can you really see God smiling as a child He knit together (what a poetic way to describe the dna combining, no?) is sucked down a clinic sink?

Again, not everyone shares your religious viewpoint, which is the difficulty here. America is meant to guarantee a freedom of religion so that even those of us who are just trying to make pragmatic choices based on medical and biological reality can do so.

But, religious people can absolutely be pro-choice. Your version of God isn't universal. can you see God smiling as you factory farm the animals he created (read genesis; they're only given plants to eat when the world is right)? Or can you see God smiling as you euthanize a dog? Or can you see God smiling as you kill an enemy soldier? And what about the story of the two sets of footprints - life isn't all about making God smile, is it? Seems like a lot of people need God especially when they have to make hard choices or do difficult things that don't make them happy. They may not think God is smiling when they take on these tasks, but they may still feel they are supported by God at these points.

There are plenty of things people consider acceptable that they may not do for fun or think of as activities that their God would celebrate. And there are people who have a different ideal of what is pure than you do. Some people don't feel abortion is the tragedy you consider it to be. Some think it is sad, but also necessary, like putting down a dog, where they would rely on the strength they get from God to get through it, knowing they made the right choice. Some would not do it themselves, but trust others to deal with their own conscience.

How would you feel if vegetarians took over congress and imposed their personal preference on the entire country? That's the kind of belief you're imposing here. People can probably understand where you're coming from, but may just not ultimately draw the same conclusion. You have to accept that.
posted by mdn at 11:27 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


five fresh fish: No. We allow access to safe abortions because not allowing it kills women.

While it would be nice were this true, the Supreme Court is not interested in how many women die from illegal abortions. Presumably, neither are a number of hard-core conservatives, who probably figure that accidental death from self-abortion is a punishment from God for trying to kill one of His special creations.

The Supreme Court is interested in one thing: the US Constitution. We allow women legal access to abortion because to deny them this access violates their right to privacy under the 14th amendment. The 14th is what is generally invoked to protect liberty and the autonomy of the citizen from the state in a wide range of civil liberties cases.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:29 AM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can't believe you guys are still at this. Nice Talmud stuff, though.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:31 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


do you think the United States ought to be a theocracy?

Well actually, no, I don't.

While I am a citizen of the United States I am also a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven (the same one Jesus proclaimed while He walked this earth) and it is as a citizen of THAT kingdom I declare that the sin of abortion-and all other sin-is wrong and one day will be done away with.

I understand totally and completely that a secular government cannot be and should NOT be equivalent to the latter. It's not the purpose of secular government.

But what I do believe to the core of my being is that God judges nations and governments just as He does people, and that one result of people in general turning their backs on Him and His ways is....He lets us have our way. And we get to suffer the consequences of NOT having God fix our messes for us. We get to find out what life is like when we are NOT under His protection. I'm not keeping you from aborting or whatever it is you may do that God is not happy with-I am simply mentioning that God does not approve. I'm sorry some of you don't believe me. One day you will.

(FWIW I am not associated-and cannot stand -those types of christians who really truly do seek to set up a Theocracy. You can't do God's work man's way, and those people truly do give me the willies.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:13 PM on March 27, 2009


How would you feel if vegetarians took over congress and imposed their personal preference on the entire country? That's the kind of belief you're imposing here

Well, right now there are a bunch of Democrats who HAVE taken over congress and ARE imposing their personal preferences on the entire country.

It's called politics. ;-)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:14 PM on March 27, 2009


One more thought here: Do some of you really really think that just because you wish to do something, that ergo God must smile on it? Are any of you ever interested in God's real opinions on things or do you suffer from the fallacy that God=Santa Claus?

Your own parents reared you and trained you and told you no for your own good and made you eat your vegetables and told you to go to bed at bedtime and to NOT play in the street. Imperfect PARENTS do this-so, God being perfect, would you really compare him to a negligent, loosey-goosey indulgent Father? That's really rather insulting.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:19 PM on March 27, 2009


We get to find out what life is like when we are NOT under His protection.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:13 PM on March 27


yeah god's protection is pretty sweet look at how well it worked out for the jews for the last two thousand years
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:23 PM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


You don't get it, Optimus Chyme. They were wrong, and St. Konoliafire is right. Try to keep up.

I'm sorry some of you don't believe me. One day you will.

Or you'll believe us. Or we'll all be totally wrong. Or you won't even have a mind to think about with. Nobody knows! That's the most awesome thing. And that's why we don't let you use conjecturyal worldviews as the basis for law.
posted by Miko at 3:27 PM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think even konolia would say that the parts of the Old Testament re: the Jews being God's chosen people were inaccurate; that's grade-A blasphemy right there.

Also I love how every thread you pull this in, Special K, you never mention how you are opposed to increased funding for families living in poverty. Once a child is actually born, you don't give a shit what happens to it. That, and your repeated half-assed attempts at constructing a theology where it's moral to bomb children as long as they're Iraqi, are far more sickening than your anti-choice crusade.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:37 PM on March 27, 2009


I don't think even konolia would say that the parts of the Old Testament re: the Jews being God's chosen people were inaccurate

The Old Testament describes times long before the last two thousand years, from earth's creation, which konolia presumably believes was in about 4000 BC, to the construction of the second temple at Jerusalem described in Chronicles. During the "last two thousand" years that you mentioned earlier, the Jews lost God's protection because they refused to recognize the Messiah (again, in konolia's theology).
posted by Miko at 5:22 PM on March 27, 2009


I am simply mentioning that God does not approve. I'm sorry some of you don't believe me. One day you will.

Wow ... wow ... i think we're done here, konolia.

In the future, when you feel as though you're being painted w/ a "religious nutjob" brush, please understand that insane comments like this are why it happens.

I would encourage you to stay out of threads on abortion in the future if mythology is all you have to bring to the table.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:50 PM on March 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


DarlingBri: mea culpa. You are right.

one result of people in general turning their backs on Him and His ways is....He lets us have our way [implications of doom and disaster]

In reality, the most secular countries — those with the highest proportion of atheists and agnostics — are among the most stable, peaceful, free, wealthy, and healthy societies. And the most religious nations — wherein worship of God is in abundance — are among the most unstable, violent, oppressive, poor, and destitute.”

The problem with the faith you spew so fervently, St. Konolia, is that it utterly contradicts real facts.

Sweden, for instance, has an abortion rate half that of the USA. Yet Sweden is among the most irreligious of countries. They also have better health care, better education, greater happiness, and less violence than any religious nation.

And this pattern of less religion = happier, healthier, nicer citizens holds true very consistently across the world. The best-performing nations on measures of social good are nations that are less religious.

Your type of faith is exactly the kind of false teaching Christ and Paul warned against. You disguise yourself as an "angel of light," but when we start to look at the real facts, we discover that you preach the worst type of religion: faith based on fear and threats of punishment, hyped by fabrication and outright lying.

You need to change your ways, Konolia. You put your soul at risk by telling lies in God's name.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:44 PM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not keeping you from aborting or whatever it is you may do that God is not happy with-I am simply mentioning that God does not approve.

That's nice. My Buddhist friend says that the Buddha says "it depends." So now we have two opinions on the matter.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:33 PM on March 27, 2009


Although the root source is suspect, this is scary:
"Anna Anderson, the executive director of Care Net Pregnancy Center of Green County in Monroe, maintains that she has identified at least 10 girls ages 14 to 18 in a three-county area who admitted to taking some form of cow abortifacient in the past year.

…livestock drugs, especially taken in unknown amounts, could lead to excessive hemorrhaging, infection if pregnancy tissues didn't fully clear the body, clotting issues, and complications for asthmatics, as one side effect includes constricted bronchial tubes."

Wisconsin is, of course, one of those states that has effectively made access to safe abortion illegal. And despite the obvious harm that this causes, the Wisconsin gang of retrograde Konolia-think maroons are determined to make sure dosing oneself on cow hormones continues to be a concern.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:10 PM on March 27, 2009


Are any of you ever interested in God's real opinions on things

That whole "many people don't believe what I believe" thing is just a hazy, fragile notion that slips right out of your vision frequently, yeah? Your arrogance is staggering.
posted by cortex at 10:41 PM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here's something I want you to try, konolia - see, this god you keep citing is, to a lot of us, either not real or not relevant - so, to our eyes, arguments based off this myth come across as a little nonsensical. Since you believe in this god very deeply, you probably don't see it, you probably think these arguments should be persuasive.

In order to test and correct for this, I suggest taking a look at your posts with the word "god" swapped out for an entity that you know is not real and not relevant to the matter at hand. For example:

One more thought here: Do some of you really really think that just because you wish to do something, that ergo Spider-Man must smile on it? Are any of you ever interested in Spider-Man's real opinions on things or do you suffer from the fallacy that Spider-Man=Santa Claus?

Your own parents reared you and trained you and told you no for your own good and made you eat your vegetables and told you to go to bed at bedtime and to NOT play in the street. Imperfect PARENTS do this-so, Spider-Man being perfect, would you really compare him to a negligent, loosey-goosey indulgent crime-fighter? That's really rather insulting.


See? Doesn't that sound nuts? And make for a terrible debate point? And present a worldview that would be terrifying if made into public policy?

This is why you need to leave deities out of this medical and civil rights debate. I might believe in Spider-Man every bit as much as you believe in your god, and neither one of those beliefs belongs anywhere close to the law.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:00 AM on March 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ok, you all know that anything you say will only feed into the martyr complex, right? Even the most level-headed and spot on criticism gets routed to that complex. It's like a giant worm inside the victim's brain. It chews the wires of the subtle processing neural bundles that enable nuanced reasoning and forces the brain into a binary, protozoan YES/NO modality and it gets bigger and more entrenched with every bit of attention fed to it.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:15 AM on March 28, 2009


She's got a God complex all mixed up with her martyr complex. She is literally telling us that we should believe her, because she knows what God wants. She knows the mind of God, we do not know the mind of God, therefore we should believe her.

The irony is that Christ and Paul made sure to warn us that we should be doubtful of people who claim to speak for God. That there would by myriad false prophets and false teachers; crafty, silver-tongued speakers who would claim miracles and whisper lies in our ears; Screwtape characters who would use our base instincts and fears to turn us to the dark side; that the Deceiver would present as an Angel, all the better to lead us astray.

There are religious folk who promote a God of love and personal responsibility; and there are religious folk who promote a God of punishment and destruction. Guess which one Paul tells us not to follow? That's right — "the guy with fire in His eyes … so scary that John fell at his feet as tho dead."
posted by five fresh fish at 12:43 AM on March 28, 2009


Ok, you all know that anything you say will only feed into the martyr complex, right?

It doesn't matter. I think it's helpful to have her state her philosophies clearly rather than drop shitbombs in threads and then run. That way people can evaluate where this stuff is coming from, which is a place so extreme that even the general run of evangelicals don't go there.

Me, I mourn for the discussion about adoption that never had a chance to live *snif*.
posted by Miko at 9:35 AM on March 28, 2009


Me, I mourn for the discussion about adoption that never had a chance to live *snif*.

Can you really see God smiling as a conversation He knit together is sucked into a black hole of empty rhetoric?...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:02 PM on March 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Uh, miko, being antiabortion is pretty mainstream evangelicalism.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:12 PM on March 28, 2009


This pretty much sums it all up.

God save us from the religious.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:12 PM on March 28, 2009


Uh, St. Konoliafire, I'm not referring to being antiabortion, which as noted isn't uncommon among either evangelicals or pro-choice people.

I'm referring to your slavish adherence to shallow, bad, and poorly understood theology and total inability to put it into perspective as one spiritual path in a polycultural world in an unknowable universe.

Mainstream evangelicals can and do avoid these pitfalls. You can't and don't want to. I could throw a rock and hit dozens of 'em. I don't want people to think you represent the general run of evangelical Christians - you don't, and you're giving them kind of a bad impression.
posted by Miko at 8:27 PM on March 28, 2009


Well, miko, I don't know what you are calling a "mainstream evangelical" but I belong to a congregation that numbers about 5000-and is only one church out of many just in my area that believe exactly as I do.

And there are lots of locations with lots of churches that believe exactly as I do. My beliefs that: a) there is a God
b) He is the Lord (which in nonreligious terms, means He's the ultimate boss of everything.
c) He desires to be obeyed, and has kindly given us directions on what makes Him happy in His book-which also includes directions on what He did to make it possible for us to please Him
and d) it is wrong to abort babies -these beliefs are pretty mainstream Christian beliefs. Heck, you don't even have to be Protestant.

I honestly don't know what you are talking about re evangelicals. Please don't get your info about Christianity from TV or mainstream media because most if not all the time they get it totally wrong. (ESPECIALLY CHRISTIAN TV WHICH I AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE FOR THE MOST PART.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:14 PM on March 28, 2009


(One other thing. My theology professor would be rather insulted to know you consider those two semesters of systematic theology I took -Calvinist, even, tho I am not a hardshell Calvinist-to be shallow and bad theology. I am a middleaged woman and not a theologian but I did pay attention in class....)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:18 PM on March 28, 2009


He is the Lord (which in nonreligious terms, means He's the ultimate boss of everything.

Fail.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:28 PM on March 28, 2009


And there are lots of locations with lots of churches that believe exactly as I do. My beliefs that: a) there is a God
b) He is the Lord (which in nonreligious terms, means He's the ultimate boss of everything.
c) He desires to be obeyed, and has kindly given us directions on what makes Him happy in His book-which also includes directions on what He did to make it possible for us to please Him
and d) it is wrong to abort babies -these beliefs are pretty mainstream Christian beliefs. Heck, you don't even have to be Protestant.


There are lots of locations with lots of churches that believe that:

a) thetans brought the material universe into being largely for their own pleasure.
b) thetans fell from grace when they began to identify with their creation, rather than their original state of spiritual purity.
c) Thetans are reborn time and time again in new bodies through a process called "assumption" which is analogous to reincarnation.
d) An individual's desire to survive is considered to be the first dynamic.

Would you call these "mainstream" beliefs? Hey, they also have lots of locations with lots of churches that believe this, just like you say of your own beliefs; is religion a popularity contest?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:31 PM on March 28, 2009


....Or is that how you chose your faith, it was the one with the highest ratings? Is that really faith or just trying to fit in?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:32 PM on March 28, 2009


EC, I was simply responding to Miko's assertion that I wasn't mainstream in my own faith tradition.

I have been to Thailand and understand that there I am a minority, for what it's worth.

But really, numbers don't matter. Truth matters. Truth is worth seeking out.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:37 AM on March 29, 2009


....oh, and I don't follow a "faith" started by a science fiction writer who cynically noted beforehand that the way to get rich was to start up a religion. (And I hated Battlestar Galactica in all its incarnations. So there.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:39 AM on March 29, 2009


But really, numbers don't matter. Truth matters.

If numbers don't matter, then what Miko said about whether or not you were "mainstream" shouldn't have bothered you.

That is, if you truly think that what you believe is really the truth.

....oh, and I don't follow a "faith" started by a science fiction writer who cynically noted beforehand that the way to get rich was to start up a religion.

Neither do I. But you were the one who started the whole numbers game, so...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:24 AM on March 29, 2009


I honestly don't know what you are talking about re evangelicals.

I know; you're too close to it to see it.
Please don't get your info about Christianity from TV or mainstream media because most if not all the time they get it totally wrong. (ESPECIALLY CHRISTIAN TV WHICH I AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE FOR THE MOST PART.)

I always find it amusing that you have such a low opinion of my knowledge about Christianity, when I don't think you know anything about my background, my education, or my own beliefs. I'm confident in saying I know more than you do about Christian theology and variations in belief. And not from outside.

(One other thing. My theology professor would be rather insulted to know you consider those two semesters of systematic theology I took -Calvinist, even, tho I am not a hardshell Calvinist-to be shallow and bad theology. I am a middleaged woman and not a theologian but I did pay attention in class....)


We're only as good as our teachers, aren't we. "Systematic theology" is a problematic phrase in the first place - it has many meanings, but within your religious path it's just a practice of using selective readings of the Bible to rationalize the denomination's major tenets and aims to create a sort of instruction book for followers, and also to reduce the impact of the real contradictions embedded in the Biblical texts. It's basically church leaders telling you what to think about the Bible and trying to reconcile its inherent clashes with itself. This approach is only meaningul within your own religious tradition - outside your own denomination that systemology fails to have meaning. It's not the same as "theology," and I do think it's bad and shallow, because it's self-referential and ignores the broader world of Biblical scholarship. But it's fine if he wants to practice it and of course if he's your teacher, you believe this approach is important.

But even if he has things well worked out in his mind and for his denomination, it still remains true that your grasp of his theology is bad and shallow.

And we've also already talked about this here, and I've already rejected the claim that having taken your church's systematic theology means you know anything about anything other than what you've been taught about your church's systematic theology. Your profound incuriosity about where that comes from, in itself, shows the weakness of your understanding.

It doesn't matter to me how many people are in your church; that means nothing, we're not talking with them. It does matter to me that the positions you take when you wrap yourself in the cloak of "Christian" are far to the extreme, and that you personally place much greater emphasis on selective literalism, received learnings, and ideas about obeisance and correctness than on the far more universal doctrines of basic Christianity.

I know from personal experience that the majority of Christians, even the majority of evangelicals, and I would hope and imagine the majority of members of your church, would quail at the hubris and judgment you spit forth, and would be far less confident that they can speak for God. The majority of Christians are concerned with living by the basic Christian values: loving God, loving your neighbor as yourself, be forgiving,working daily to live as moral a life as possible while harming others the least, giving to others to relieve suffering, avoiding hypocrisy, avoiding material concerns, and attending to spiritual practice. I almost never see these values in action in you, so I have a really, really hard time imagining you as a Christian. You don't live the values. You're so obsessed with the speck in your brother's eye. As a Christian, I am embarrassed by you and your hamhanded and self-aggrandizing attempts to claim righteousness when you show not the smallest glint of Christian love. You can speak for your own opinions, but it sickens me when you represent your views as Christian. I trust that the community here knows you're on the fringe. And I'm not speaking about abortion - as we've said what seems like dozens of times, a lot of people, Christian and nonChristian, and pro-choicers among them, oppose abortion. You can feel however you want to about abortion, but I can't abide the crap about how your stance on it is the only proper stance for a Christian and that you speak for God. That's not theology; that's just crazy.

If I were you, with your focus on Absolute Truth, Judgement, and Rules, I'd be terrified about the judgment my soul would face for arrogance, self-righteousness, hypocrisy, I would be worried about standing before God as he opens his book, and reads to you some of his Rules: rules like

Matthew 7:1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

***
Matthew 6: And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

**
Matthew 23: 1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

13"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.[c]

25"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
***
It's nice to have a rulebook, but you're actually not even obeying the rules. Your spiritual life is in trouble when you carry on like this. You must know that, yet you repeatedly dig yourself into this hole.

Fortunately for you as well as for those who have had and will have abortions and done other things you think immoral, in your philosophical system even someone who does and says even unspeakably horrid things will have an advocate, just as will those who have abortions, just as did Hitler:
1 John, 2: 1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin,(A) we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2(B) He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but(C) also for the sins of the whole world. 3And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we(D) keep his commandments. 4Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments(E) is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5but whoever(F) keeps his word, in him truly(G) the love of God is perfected.
In short, I think you would do well to mind your own business. You have your own work to do.
posted by Miko at 11:28 AM on March 29, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wow, Miko, that's quite a judgement of me you have there.


(PS-it was Berkhof's Systematic Theology. But I figger you must be familiar with it?)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:18 PM on March 29, 2009


Yep. And yep.

Think about it.
posted by Miko at 12:31 PM on March 29, 2009


All joking aside, Miko (and unless I am totally overthinking the garbanzos, that big post of yours was meant to be amusing) I hope you see I do differentiate between my beliefs-that I hold solidly-and how I feel about people-to include you and others on this thread. I hope you all know that altho I do disagree vehemenently with most of Mefi on many things to include the topic of abortion, I'm not sitting on here hating on anyone.

(but I really would hope that people considering abortion would reconsider. What a tremendous loss it would have been to not be able to get to know my precious grandson-no matter what the circumstances were leading to him getting here. )
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:55 PM on March 29, 2009


unless I am totally overthinking the garbanzos, that big post of yours was meant to be amusing

No, I'm dead serious.

I hope you all know that altho I do disagree vehemenently with most of Mefi on many things to include the topic of abortion, I'm not sitting on here hating on anyone.

That hasn't been at all clear in either your words or your actions. Really, if you weren't aware of that, I hope it helps you to know it now. We'll see, I guess.
posted by Miko at 1:00 PM on March 29, 2009


If you can write this:

which in nonreligious terms, means He's the ultimate boss of everything

You can not write this:

but I did pay attention in class

It is impossible to convey how astoundingly ... and there I fail, I don't have words to succinctly express it. Your worldview is so insular, so self-centred, so hubristic. That you could guilessly write "non-religious" and "God" in the same sentence — wow.

I can't believe I waste my time. I might as well be talking to a tree. Just, wow.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:11 PM on March 29, 2009


within your religious path it's just a practice of using selective readings of the Bible to rationalize the denomination's major tenets and aims to create a sort of instruction book for followers, and also to reduce the impact of the real contradictions embedded in the Biblical texts

This. It is a cultist approach to socialization.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:16 PM on March 29, 2009


That you could guilessly write "non-religious" and "God" in the same sentence — wow.

I guess this is one of those cases where words get in the way of communication. Let me try to explain-I HATE religion. I don't think God is religious, in the usual sense of the term. So much of what people do in the name of God (or whatever their deity of choice is called) is simply tradition-the things that fit in the "religious" slot in one's brain.

For instance, a lot of folks right now have given up something for Lent. Well, fasting is a good and proper Biblical thing to do, and there's nothing wrong with abstaining from something for a time in order to deepen one's focus on God. And truly, if you want to set aside a time of year to do it together, that's okay. BUT I am guessing a bunch of people do such because "it's what one does" in those certain denominations and because everyone else at church is doing it. THAT is religion.

I'm not religious (i hope ) and I never want to BE religious. I DO want to have a good relationship with God, and I do want to love my neighbor as myself. God is not something I segregate to one corner of my life or one day a week-He is in everything life has. (I think the Celtic Christians got it right on that topic.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:44 PM on March 29, 2009


It is impossible to convey how astoundingly ... and there I fail, I don't have words to succinctly express it. Your worldview is so insular, so self-centred, so hubristic.

Well, actually, my world view is DIFFERENT from yours. People here seem to struggle with the concept of that. Interesting.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:47 PM on March 29, 2009


боже мои ... gods help he who goes up against Miko.
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:26 PM on March 29, 2009


my world view is DIFFERENT from yours. People here seem to struggle with the concept of that.

No, everyone totally understands that your worldview is different. It's hard to miss. What people are struggling with is the concept thatyou struggle with the concept of worldviews that differ from yours.

I think most people here are pretty accustomed to living in a pluralistic world and respecting one another's beliefs. What's being objected to here is not your beliefs, but your absolutism - that you put them forth as premises in an argument that we're supposed to accept as fact. Here, as in civil society, we can't admit items of religious dogma as premises in an argument. And that's what you're trying to do and have consistently tried to do, and that's what people struggle with. And personally, I also struggle with the screaming hypocrisy, but that might just be me me.

Is this getting any clearer?

I'm not religious (i hope ) and I never want to BE religious. I DO want to have a good relationship with God, and I do want to love my neighbor as myself.

Okay...then why are we dragging in tenets from your religion and church? Referring to systematic theology and doctrines on the Kingdom of God and conception is "being religious." It's adhering to received religious dogma, which up until that last comment you were doing pretty fiercely. The arguments you were using were strictly appeals to authority, and the authority was the authority of your church. Has there been a sudden change of heart?

What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself?

How good are you at loving yourself, if what we're seeing is loving your neighbor?
posted by Miko at 3:43 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Darn straight I'm going to be absolutist, because a person who isn't absolutist isn't a believer, they are a supposer.

Other people have the privilege of believing or supposing what they like. That's fine with me. I have the privilege of believing them to be wrong. They have the same privilege with me.

If you are going to be upset with me because I won't deny the reality of God that I have had the privilege of experiencing, there's really nothing I can do about that. I am not angry with you or anyone about that fact, but I do wish you'd stop seeing it as a personal insult because it isn't one, at least on my end.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:01 PM on March 29, 2009


I know God much better than you.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:04 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I do wish you'd stop seeing it as a personal insult

If you mean this claim seriously, then you'd benefit from classes aimed at improving reading comprehension. If you don't mean it seriously, then you know very well that the actual issue is that your belief that

I would love it [abortion] outlawed . . . Just like theft and assault and rape are all illegal

is based on your particular religious dogma, which you want to see enacted in laws. The objection is not to your personal beliefs per se.

And you wonder why some Mefites consider you a troll. Around and around we go.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:41 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, actually, my world view is DIFFERENT from yours. People here seem to struggle with the concept of that. Interesting.

We know that your world view is different from ours. We don't struggle with that. We are saying that we think YOU are struggling with that.

It's one thing to want people to acknowledge that your world view is different. It's quite another thing to want people to acknowledge that your different world view is BETTER than ours. We have no problem accepting you're different - but we will NOT admit that your world view is BETTER. Because there's only one Judge for which world view is better or worse, and we won't hear His ruling until after we each have died.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:03 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Because there's only one Judge for which world view is better or worse, and we won't hear His ruling until after we each have died.

Now THAT is something we can agree on.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:56 PM on March 29, 2009


Darn straight I'm going to be absolutist, because a person who isn't absolutist isn't a believer, they are a supposer.

Theocracies always lead to increased human suffering. The only way we can ever minimize human suffering is to not be absolutists on those things that are religious is to attempt to draw a best-all-around-interests line between what is right and what is possible.

Absolutists are a threat to civilized society.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:43 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Theocracies always lead to increased human suffering.

That is indeed an "absolutist" statement, and if one looks through history one can find theocratic rulers that had had peaceful, progressive reigns. This argument here is completely useless.

Konolia: you're an idiot punching bag for continuing to come to Metafilter and stirring up pointless shit that is only tangentially related to the threads.

Everyone else: have pity on konolia and ignore her.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:52 PM on March 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Now THAT is something we can agree on.

For someone who says she agrees she doesn't know what the final ruling is, you seem awfully convinced that you DO know. And last I checked, you ain't God, so I'm not sure why you're so sure you do know. ...I thought pride was one of the deadly sins.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:55 PM on March 29, 2009


Well, I get chewed out for NOT coming out here and elaborating on my views, then I get chewed out FOR elaborating, etc etc etc...too bad I won't be back home till late tonight, this thread is popcorn worthy.

And the name is St. Alia of the Bunnies. Thank you.

Theocracies always lead to increased human suffering

Yeah, the USSR was such a hotbed of theocracy. Not.

(Point of order-I specifically said upthread I was not in favor of a theocracy here.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:03 AM on March 30, 2009


Theocracies always lead to increased human suffering
Yeah, the USSR was such a hotbed of theocracy. Not.


You are so stupid it is not even amusing.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:41 AM on March 30, 2009


Darn straight I'm going to be absolutist, because a person who isn't absolutist isn't a believer, they are a supposer.

This is precisely the problem. If I want to start a cult and have control over that group, I want to make sure I select only for those who will follow my instructions to the letter. We have a prime example here. Only in cults is belief coupled with absolutism. In other contexts belief is coupled with questioning, in that humankind is inadequate to know the nature of the universe (God, if you will), and so must continue to investigate and explore the mysteries of people and morality. To be absolutist one must either

a) have ultimate faith that ones own intelligence about that absolute rule reigns over all others, including God's, or

b) have ultimate faith in another human's intelligence over all others, including God's.

However, it is a tenet of Xianity in general that God's will is unknowable. So Konolia/St. Alia/whatever is caught in a clear contradiction that is inescapable. Unless of course she assumes that God's will is transparent and made known only to her little sect of absolutists. In which case, give it up, folks, she's not here to discuss anything, but rather to enlighten us heathens.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:13 AM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not to mention the contradiction that God is all-powerful and yet impotent -- somehow unable/unwilling to enact His own will directly, but rather hmm, conveniently relying on a select group of fallable humans to imperfectly enact His vision according to their own interpretation.

Not a great system for running the Universe there...
posted by LordSludge at 8:28 AM on March 30, 2009


In which case, give it up, folks, she's not here to discuss anything, but rather to enlighten us heathens.

That's precisely why she keeps coming back. There's not a shred of any real discussion, it's all a kind of weird passive-aggressive street corner preacher thing.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:31 AM on March 30, 2009


Point of order-I specifically said upthread I was not in favor of a theocracy here.

....But then you said that you wanted the government to pass laws that corresponded with your religious beliefs.

Sweetie, precisely what exactly do you think a theocracy is?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:42 AM on March 30, 2009


Sweetie, precisely what exactly do you think a theocracy is?

She was basically saying that she doesn't like the pope.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:44 AM on March 30, 2009


*eyeroll* Oh, is this a variant on the old "Catholics-aren't-real-Christians" argument again? That gets so old.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:09 AM on March 30, 2009


a person who isn't absolutist isn't a believer, they are a supposer.


That's one of your beliefs, but your believing it doesn't make it a truth. I am a believer, and I am not an absolutist, because I believe that God has used many methods, including the incarnation of Jesus, to clearly say it's not appropriate to be so. I would never dare to assert that I understand God perfectly, understand God's nature and will, regardless of who my teachers are. I believe this as strongly as you believe anything, konolia. Absolutism and belief are not necessary partners.

As five fresh fish is pointing out, you're a believer within a system that can't accommodate individual thought because it's too dangerous to the theology. You're right, within your belief system you can't just arrive at your own beliefs, even if you hear God's voice in your ear directly, because that would make you a heretic. I understand that. It amuses me that given the vast and complicated panoply of world religious, hundreds and hundreds of them throughout history, many many variations on monotheism and then on the God of Abraham and then within Christianity itself, hundreds of tiny splinters, you happened to find the Right One - even though that one's not even more than a couple hundred years old! Good timing.

But even though you managed that miracle and are totally convinced, I'm still trying to get you to see that there's no reason for anyone else to think you're right. None. Zip, zilch. As you like to say, it's fine for you to believe whatever you like -- and you've chosen to believe in one prescriptive system. All fine. It's a good life when we find a belief system we're content with.

The problem is that your beliefs are meaningful only to you and your religious community. They aren't relevant when it comes to law in civil society. They just don't matter. Other people don't buy them. They're meaningless. They're yours alone, and others don't have to accept them, any more than you have to accept a flyer thrust at you on the street by a Mormon missionary. As long as you insist on focusing on them as part of the discussion, things will stay exactly as they are, because your beliefs are in flat conflict with others', and they're just not inherently any more worthwhile under the law. It's hard to grasp when you believe you are so in the right, but it's the way it is.

What's sad is that, if you really are acting from values, there is so much good that could be accomplished if anti-abortion people could agree on some shared ends that would reduce the incidence of abortion and the need for abortion. But you get so hung up on having to have everybody believe as you do. What would happen if you knew for a fact that during your entire lifetime on earth, abortion would never ever be outlawed? What would you do then? Would it help to do that stuff now? It's nice that you have a grandson. What happens to young women whose mothers throw them out of the family instead of take them in when that happens? What happens when they get beaten? What happens when they realize that they won't be able to support themselves? What happens when they're a year away from a medical degree? Are you willing to help people have their children? Are you willing to vote for the kinds of people who create a society in which women can think about keeping their children without having to sacrifice their career goals and their childrens' future health and economic stability?

You're wishing for one world, and creating another. It makes no sense.
posted by Miko at 3:37 PM on March 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


And the name is St. Alia of the Bunnies. Thank you.

And I'm the Queen of England! From now on, please address me as "Your Majesty." Thank you.
posted by Miko at 3:40 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here is what blind, stupid faith can do for you.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:33 PM on March 30, 2009


This, too, is a succinct summary of the situation.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:06 PM on March 30, 2009


However, it is a tenet of Xianity in general that God's will is unknowable

Actually no it isn't. Quite the opposite. Now, He doesn't always explain why He does certain things, but His Will? He has made it abundantly clear, and Christianity does teach that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:54 PM on March 30, 2009


You know, so many of you here are both willfully misunderstanding Christianity that it would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad. And I am particularly not happy with the characterization that I am antiCatholic-which I am not. (I am very anti Dominionist which is what I am referring to when I am saying I am antitheocracy. Men cannot set up a theocracy;only God can do that. You cannot bring in the Kingdom of God by a ballot box.)

God has used many methods, including the incarnation of Jesus, to clearly say it's not appropriate to be so

Would you kindly support this statement specifically? What exactly is your definition of absolutism? If God says do not murder, then do not murder. We are not speaking of grace and redemption here-those are important things, very important, but there is no need for grace and no need for redemption if there was not first transgression. And in order to have transgression there has to be absolute right and wrong. God is Holy, and the very definition of Holy has to suppose absolutes.

Apparently several of you are troubled by your lack of absolutes because if you weren't, MY absolutes would not be troublesome to you in the least. Yet you fear, abhor and loathe the very possibility.

But those same absolutes-that foundation-that Rock-has given me more peace, more stability, and more joy than anything any of you could ever imagine. I literally WAS snatched up "from the mud and mire" and had my feet set on a rock, and I would never, never never want to get into that quicksand ever again. Been there, done that, no thanks.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:05 PM on March 30, 2009


Yawn, guys. This is the same argument that has nothing to do with the topic at hand, which was, what was it again? Oh right, abortion ultrasounds.
posted by agregoli at 8:05 PM on March 30, 2009


konolia - for the last time, no one begrudges your beliefs. It's your assumption of their superiority and your apparent desire to see them made law is what gets under our skin. It seems like you see the world in terms of people who agree with you and people who your god hasn't forced to agree with you yet.

"Someday you will" and "You must be an absolutist to be a believer"" That's jihadi talk!

Whatever comfort you take in these myths is your business. If they're real to you, that's all well and good but you really need to stop presenting it as fact in debates that don't have anything to do with it if you ever expect to be taken seriously.

Meaningful debate on abortion is impossible with you. Your preferred mythology isn't relevant to the issue in the slightest, and now we're talking about nothing but your mythology. I'm not sure what combination of martyr and superiority complexes drive you to act like this, but I suspect we played right into your hands by attempting to engage you on this issue. Now, once again, you get to beat your chest and flatter yourself as a single holy voice in a cacophony of moral relativism, which I can only assume gives you some strange satisfaction. Your last few posts don't even have anything to do w/ the FPP, and thus, neither do any of the responses.

Once again, the thread's all about you.

Apparently several of you are troubled by your lack of absolutes

Not at all. I know that religion absolutely cannot have anything to do with the law in a free nation. And once again it's been demonstrated that it's absolutely pointless trying to get you to see that.

I'm going to go back to ignoring you now. Please do let us know when and if you're ever ready to debate like a grown-up, unassisted by invisible men that the rest of us can't see.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:29 AM on March 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm never going to "see" that it's okay to murder unborn babies.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:45 AM on March 31, 2009


Oh people, oh ideas, oh opinions, oh beliefs. Born with their rights and their wrongs packed in, or life-long learned them, or had them tattooed on their hearts by some missing deity?

Doesn't fucking matter.

Seek commonalities, you big stupid dummies. Look harder for them, look harder, because you don't have to even try to find the differences, and the differences are our goddamn dooms and Doom. Always have been.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:05 AM on March 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


and CUT and PRINT.
posted by tellurian at 6:09 AM on March 31, 2009


I'm never going to "see" that it's okay to murder unborn babies.

No one has ever asked you to see that. Where the fuck do you get off telling bald-faced lies like that?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:52 AM on March 31, 2009


Actually no it isn't. Quite the opposite. Now, He doesn't always explain why He does certain things, but His Will? He has made it abundantly clear, and Christianity does teach that.

No, you're wrong. He moves in mysterious ways, remember? His will in any particular circumstance surpasseth human understanding and all. Besides, you're just taking some fallible human's word for what even the Bible says, since it's written and translated by people with human motives, prejudices, and preconceptions. (I know this is where you insert some magic to make that problem go away.) No way you're privy to the direct word of God. So sorry, even if God does have an absolute will, you are in no position to tell anyone else about it. You have only your poor inadequate human understanding (as well all do, right?).

That's why the less megalomaniacal of us try to leave moral decisions (outside of the ones we all agree should be legally sanctioned) to the affected individuals instead of pretending to know the will of some hypothetical all-powerful creature and impose that flawed belief on our fellow beings.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:12 AM on March 31, 2009


You know, so many of you here are both willfully misunderstanding Christianity

No, you misunderstand it, because you mistake your specific theology for "Christianity." One is smaller than the other. "Christianity" is not the smaller one. Grasp it. You are one kind of Christian and you have accepted your version of the religion from generations of men who are telling you how it is. There are other kinds of Christian and I'm tired of you claiming to represent all Christianity - it's flat misleading, and it's uninformed.

No way you're privy to the direct word of God

My religion actually teaches that we are - we all are - privy to the direct word of God. so of necessity, all of us are following the right path. That being the tenet, we necessarily have to respect that everyone else's path is equally informed and directed by God, whether or not they are Christian, because it's illogical to think that you've got it more right than someone else who's able to directly connect with God. We don't think God chooses favorites or makes mistakes. It's known as the testimony of tolerance. I don't think it's crazy to believe you have a direct line to God - I just think it's crazy to think you're on the Red Phone. But you've explained you prefer the safety of absolutes, so you don't want to ask any questions, so you'll never be a scholar of divinity. All well and good, for you. Your beliefs can't withstand much questioning, so it's best that you not look under the hood, and that's why your church so kindly offers to filter things for you.

But even that's beside the point - I'm not interested in hearing how your beliefs are correct, or convincing you my beliefs are correct. But it doesn't matter. When you try to argue your system is true, it's simply ridiculous. It has no bearing on anything. You've chosen one straw from God's gripped fistful. I know you like your straw, but it doesn't give you any claim to greater rightness than anyone else's straw. No one has to care.

What I'm interested in is continuing to redirect your attention to the fact that your theology doesn't matter when we're talking about civil law.
posted by Miko at 8:52 AM on March 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


But those same absolutes-that foundation-that Rock-has given me more peace, more stability, and more joy than anything any of you could ever imagine.

What scares me is that without believing there is some magic man in the sky, some people can't cope with the world. They need to have someone tell them what to do in each situation they encounter in some absolute terms and that this is the way a big, strong, invisible superhero (BSIS) wants them to do it. Otherwise, they feel lost and hopeless in the face of day-to-day moral decisions.

These folks are fodder for manipulation by others who convince them they represent the BSIS. All the leader need do is convince the followers that BSIS wants this (deprive children, hate sluts, blow themselves up, whatever) and they will do it without question and without further thought. Thinking just indicates a lack of faith. Of course, it takes a somewhat weak will on the part of the follower, and so the more extreme the activity, the fewer who have weak enough will to go along with it. But insisting on making non-spontaneous abortions illegal (or at least harassing those who get them) is pretty low investment, so there are plenty of followers to go along with it. They don't have to give up any of themselves, they just need to not exercise their critical faculties and deny the humanity of their fellow (non-believing) humans.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:05 AM on March 31, 2009


But those same absolutes-that foundation-that Rock-has given me more peace, more stability, and more joy than anything any of you could ever imagine.

That is sheer arrogance, and downright spite for others. How can you know what my experience is?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:17 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seriously, what kind of peace and stability causes one to disable their account and open new accounts under new pseudonyms? You're completely full of it and I'll waste no more time on you.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 AM on March 31, 2009


A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships were built for. - John Shedd
posted by Miko at 9:48 AM on March 31, 2009


Personal peace and stability, which gives me the moral courage to stand up for myself in forums such as this.

And lots of people tire of their usernames and switch them. If I intended to deceive I'd certainly not used my real picture on my userpage. What of it?

And Miko, "safe" is an interesting term. Lots of Chinese believers have found God as I have and their lives are anything but "safe" as a result. But they wouldn't change a thing.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:51 AM on March 31, 2009


Personal peace and stability, which gives me the moral courage to stand up for myself in forums such as this.

I'm contradicting what I said about not wasting time on you. But you're still full of it. How does that make you enjoy a peace that we can't imagine? You just come in and stir up trouble and then act like you're being attacked out of the blue. Your implication is that you are better than others because of this mythic peace you've attained. You're deluded, and I'm going to come out and say that you don't worship Almighty God, but rather you worship Satan's deception. This causes you to be blind to all of your mistaken logic and your arrogance. You, ma'am, are a Satanist and you don't even know it.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:55 AM on March 31, 2009


What I'm interested in is continuing to redirect your attention to the fact that your theology doesn't matter when we're talking about civil law

Well, it does matter insofar as just like any other citizen of the US I am free to vote my conscience and my principles. I assume when you go to the ballot box that YOU vote according to YOUR values and principles.

I think one issue here is that most of you probably see me as just like whatever Christian group has come to your notice. Please note that a majority of these groups annoy the crap out of me for various and sundry reasons, and if they were all I knew of Christianity I'd be turned off too. This is one main reason I too shudder at the thought of a theocracy, because I know quite well that what THAT would look like would not be anything close to what God would want.

And you are bothered by my dislike for and my willingness to vote against abortion? Well, I am equally bothered by your willingness to keep it legal. You claim perhaps rightly that my view does not trump yours-to which I can only reply nor does yours trump mine.

I know perfectly well that the only way I will see abortion end in my lifetime is if millions of people have a change of heart on the subject. I don't pin my hopes on 12 old men (and women) seated on a bench.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:03 AM on March 31, 2009


But those same absolutes-that foundation-that Rock-has given me more peace, more stability, and more joy than anything any of you could ever imagine.

Personal peace and stability, which gives me the moral courage to stand up for myself in forums such as this.


The sheer hubris and arrogance of this is unbelievable, incredible and totally un-Christlike.

Madam, you've done more to turn me off of modern Christianity and Christians in general than anyone else I've ever had the misfortune to regularly read on the internet. Congratulations. I think you might have finally pushed me over the edge from agnostic to atheistic.

C.S. Lewis must be spinning in his grave so fast his corpse is distorting time and space through relativistic frame-dragging effects.
posted by loquacious at 11:12 AM on March 31, 2009


And you are bothered by my dislike for and my willingness to vote against abortion? Well, I am equally bothered by your willingness to keep it legal. You claim perhaps rightly that my view does not trump yours-to which I can only reply nor does yours trump mine.

You don't actually have the ethical right to morally legislate what other people do with their bodies any more than I have the ethical right to legislate what you choose to believe inside your damn fool crazy head or how you choose to practice those beliefs in the privacy of your own home or church.

But then I think I can take it for granted that you're willfully ignorant of the difference between ethics and morals, so this is moot.

Keep on witnessing. You're doing more to argue against modern Christianity than a thousand atheist subreddits ever will.
posted by loquacious at 11:18 AM on March 31, 2009


Personal peace and stability, which gives me the moral courage to stand up for myself in forums such as this.

This is moral courage. You're just posting on the internet.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:25 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not my job to persuade anyone of anything. Your reaction to what I say is up to you.

But it is rather amusing to see so much vehement outrage against one small insignificant poster.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:48 AM on March 31, 2009


I think one issue here is that most of you probably see me as just like whatever Christian group has come to your notice.

No, I think people see you exactly as you present yourself. It'd be more comfortable think they were confusing you with something already in their heads, but at least as far as I can tell, what people are reacting to is 100% you.

But it is rather amusing to see so much vehement outrage against one small insignificant poster.

Amusing? Hey, admit it! It's more than that - - it's stimulating, exciting, and gratifying. We can tell.

You claim perhaps rightly that my view does not trump yours-to which I can only reply nor does yours trump mine.

Well, in fact when faced with the direct conflict, American law has generally preferred the least invasive stance. If your view was law, millions of women would be forced to take risks and bear children they don't want. If my view is law, everyone can live by their beliefs without government force being applied to anyone. Which trumps which again?

Back to the thing I'm most curious about. Assume that abortion law stays exactly the same thing for the rest of your lifetime. Assume your views on abortion never change, meaning that you want people NOT to choose abortions. What should you do to make it so that fewer people choose abortions? Let's hear your ideas.
posted by Miko at 12:08 PM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not my job to persuade anyone of anything.

Then why are you making it your fucking job to persuade people of things? Why the need for the moral courage, then?

Your reaction to what I say is up to you.

The responsibility for the consequences of what you say belong to you, and only you. You troll for reaction then feign wide-eyed innocence whenever the heat gets to be too much. This isn't the first time, and I'll bet serious money it won't be the last.

This is cowardly bullshit. Moral courage my fat ass.

But it is rather amusing to see so much vehement outrage against one small insignificant poster.

So you're doing this for the amusement, then? That makes you a troll. What's that weird taste? Is it vomit or am I tasting the smug satisfaction that you're getting some attention and getting to play martyr, once again? This is why I usually ignore you because I frankly think you're sick in the head and it has nothing to do with your beliefs as a Christian.

No, it's not amusing. And it isn't outrage. It's disgust. And you're one, small insignificant poster who trolls this site with your martyr-complex and insecurities, grinding, grinding away on your millstone.

A small, insignificant poster who is very possibly batshit insane. Who votes.

You're not even capable of reading any of this without simply basking in whatever attention you're getting, either negative or positive, are you? Blah blah blah blah Ginger blah blah Ginger blah blah blah Ginger blah Ginger?

I'm going to do my best to go back to ignoring your particularly crazy brand of insane bullshit before I throw up all over my keyboard.

Fucking hell, the mods here are the real saints with serious moral courage. I would have banned you years ago just for being annoying.
posted by loquacious at 12:14 PM on March 31, 2009


Were you just trying to compare yourself to Chinese Christians? After just confessing your deep love of structure, rules, absolutism, and authority? Come on, that's laughable. If you were Chinese, you'd be dyed-in-the-wool Party. That's where all the absolutism and rules come from over there. They don't like "quicksand" either. And they have no problem with telling people exactly when, whether, and how many babies to have. So you'd like that -- right?
posted by Miko at 12:17 PM on March 31, 2009


Miko, I have personally talked to people who have literally gone thru hell on earth in China-and then went back, and disappeared.
All for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Of course I don't compare myself to them. I am not worthy to wash their feet. But the gospel they risk their lives for is most assuredly worth dying for.



What should you do to make it so that fewer people choose abortions? Let's hear your ideas.

Pray that God would change their hearts. If someone is hell bent on getting an abortion, they will find a way. As many of you have already mentioned to me.

And for the record, no I don't enjoy this negative attention on metafilter. I really would rather be over on Metatalk gleaning new ideas for anime to watch, or clicking singleyoutube posts of silly stuff, or talking about bunnies. But I have just as much a right to my opinion as the next person.

Now, I am going to go find something else to do with the rest of my day off.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:44 PM on March 31, 2009


*askmeta, not metatalk. slaps forehead*
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:45 PM on March 31, 2009


But I have just as much a right to my opinion as the next person.

And, with this, you have just reduced me to massive fits of laughter. You act as if everyone here is trying to take away your right to your opinion, when exactly the opposite is true. Time and time again people have reiterated that yes, we all respect your right to have your opinion, regardless of how poorly thought out it might be. No one is trying to silence you, girlie, and no one is trying to take away your freaking rights here. Off cross, need wood, etc.

The reason I'm laughing? Is because, in St. KonAlia land, you wouldn't hesitate to revoke that exact same right -- and ever so much more -- from the millions of women who are firmly pro-choice (which, again: pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion, a fundamental detail that you are determined to ignore).

How you live with such a massive level of cognitive dissonance is just stunning.
posted by shiu mai baby at 1:02 PM on March 31, 2009


Pray that God would change their hearts.

But clearly, this isn't working. Do you have any other ideas?
posted by Miko at 1:07 PM on March 31, 2009


But the gospel they risk their lives for is most assuredly worth dying for.

Islamic jihadist terrorists actually did give their lives for their version of gospel. Was that worth dying for too? Is everyone who gives their life for a spiritual belief correct? How do you choose which to follow? Is the giving of a life sufficient evidence that that belief system is the truth?
posted by Miko at 1:10 PM on March 31, 2009


Not my job to persuade anyone of anything. Your reaction to what I say is up to you.

....I've figured it out, everyone.

We are leading st. Alia into temptation. We are tempting St. Alia into indulging in the sin for which she has the weakest resistance -- the sin of pride.

Seriously, think about it! She claims to have exclusive knowledge of God's design. She claims that she is not trying to persuade anyone, but yet she posts again and again and again, urging her opinions on us all. She claims to be "amused" by our reactions, but -- I think it goes further than amusement. In fact, we are leading our sister St. Alia further into sin bu continuing to feed her pride, continuing to let her get off on posting her opinions proudly all over the internet, spurring her on to say more and more and more and...

Enough. I say that in the interest of saving our poor fallen sinning sister St. Alia, we leave her to herself. Let her storm of pride blow itself out, lest she be lost to the Sin of Pride forever.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:47 PM on March 31, 2009


[Konolia] You're doing more to argue against modern Christianity than a thousand atheist subreddits ever will.

Repeated for truth.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:01 PM on March 31, 2009


Our biggest mistake throughout all this has been to assume Konolia wants to think.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:14 PM on March 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Serious question here:

Do those of you still hanging out on this thread believe in the concept of sin? For those of you that do, what would be your definition?

Pray that God would change their hearts.

But clearly, this isn't working. Do you have any other ideas?
posted by Miko at 1:07 PM on March 31 [+] [!]


Well, actually for some it has....I don't think I mentioned that years ago I myself was prochoice. No one ever talked to me to try to persuade me otherwise, but when I got born again that was one of the things about myself that radically changed. And I do stress that NO ONE talked to me about it. Even tho I was driving around with a John Anderson bumper sticker on the VW I drove to church (I voted for him -absentee ballot before the main election, third party candidate-because I was scared of Ronald Reagan and because he was, get this-prochoice.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:07 PM on March 31, 2009


Islamic jihadist terrorists actually did give their lives for their version of gospel. Was that worth dying for too? Is everyone who gives their life for a spiritual belief correct? How do you choose which to follow? Is the giving of a life sufficient evidence that that belief system is the truth?

Well, first, the jihadists seek out death and seek to bring it to others as well. The Chinese Christians on the other hand would like to live, to raise their families, and to have peaceful lives-but because their beliefs are persecuted, they risk death and certainly prison, etc. etc. All of which they could avoid if they either recant or keep their beliefs to themselves. Actually, in China, they refer to prison as "bible school" and most if not all underground pastors have done their stint there.

But of course, just because one dies for a belief does not make it true-but remember-the jihadists think they go to Paradise for what they do. A Christian is already guaranteed a place in Heaven-and they would like to live just like anyone else-but they love the Lord so much they are happy to lay their lives down for Him just as He did for them.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:13 PM on March 31, 2009


Serious question here: Do those of you still hanging out on this thread believe in the concept of sin? For those of you that do, what would be your definition?

Why should anyone bother answering? You show no signs whatsoever of having read and given sincere thought regarding any post made in this thread. In every instance where you have responded to a post, it is obvious you have not understood what was being said/asked, or you have selected to answer only the most unimportant part of the question.

Take, for instance
But clearly, this isn't working. Do you have any other ideas?
Well, actually for some it has....I don't think I mentioned etc
.
You were asked a very simple question, but entirely failed to answer it. You give us a line of useless bullshit about your personal experience, but absolutely nothing that has any applicability in the operation of our society. You wrote stuff, but it wasn't anything remotely resembling a thoughtful response to a serious question.

A Christian is already guaranteed a place in Heaven-and they would like to live just like anyone else-but they love the Lord so much they are happy to lay their lives down for Him just as He did for them.

Poppycock and bullshit.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:31 PM on March 31, 2009


just because one dies for a belief does not make it true

Right, I just wanted to be sure you didn't believe that, because it sounded like you thought the fact that people have died for a religion is in itself enough for you to believe in it.

As for reducing abortions - again, it's nice that your mind changed. But what I'm asking is how, other than prayer which you already presumably do, you could reduce the number of abortions that happen. Because the statistics still show that one out of three American women will have had an abortion by the time she's 45. So the prayer isn't proving that effective, your anecdotal experience aside.

What other ideas do you have for reducing the incidence of what you believe is a terrible crime and a sin?

Serious question here: Do those of you still hanging out on this thread believe in the concept of sin?

Yeah, I could answer this, but why? What does it have to do with anything? Are you just curious?
posted by Miko at 7:46 PM on March 31, 2009


Well, right now there are a bunch of Democrats who HAVE taken over congress and ARE imposing their personal preferences on the entire country.

It's called politics. ;-)
...
Well, it does matter insofar as just like any other citizen of the US I am free to vote my conscience and my principles. I assume when you go to the ballot box that YOU vote according to YOUR values and principles.


I think what many people are bothered by is that you are treating the US as if it is a mob democracy instead of a democratic republic based on essential civil liberties. The idea of America is that even if no one likes it, people still have the right to certain freedoms so long as they are not infringing on the same freedoms of other people. So, I can say things, believe things, encourage people to do things, but I can't pass laws that stop them from living by their own beliefs. Unless we include animals or fetuses under the class of "US citizen", then the laws regarding their protection have to be very careful, and cannot infringe on the rights of actual citizens.

Forcing someone to go through a pregnancy infringes on a citizen's basic right to her own bodily functions. So, even if a majority of people in america want to vote that fetuses should be protected, it still should not matter, because the minority are still protected by their basic civil liberties. It is the same principle that keeps you from ever having to worry about whether you can ever be forced to donate a kidney. Even if a majority think that's a good idea, it's unconstitutional.
posted by mdn at 8:42 PM on March 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


Mdm, the problem with what you state in your last paragraph is that we are talking about a separate individual who DIES if the woman chooses to have an abortion. I believe that humans have or should have civil rights from the moment of conception. A kidney does not grow up and go to college. As much as it sounds reasonable for a woman to not have to go thru a pregnancy that she didn't seek out, the fact remains that an unborn human is a human and I still believe THAT human has rights as well.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:38 AM on April 1, 2009


It's not a human until around 120 days anyways.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:55 AM on April 1, 2009


well, if you are going to argue that fetuses should have civil liberties, that is still a different discussion than "because I said so" - you cannot make that claim as a majority rule decision. It needs to be fleshed out as a logical argument. Fetuses cannot speak for themselves (nor can any human beings remember what it was like to be a fetus) and from a scientific perspective there is no reason to grant them rights. Your religious belief is not an argument. It has to be based on things we can all see and understand.

If I were going to argue that animals be made into citizens - which by the way, I would not do, despite being a vegetarian myself - I would discuss the evidence for perception, pain reception, and essential emotive capacities that other mammals have. With fetuses, you cannot really go with what they already have, so it'd probably be based on potentiality in some form. But you need an argument, not just a majority, when there's a constitution underlying the law.

Keep in mind that making fetuses citizens makes them concerns of the government rather than the immediate family. Fetuses would get social security numbers at conception, the state would have rights to look into possible abuse issues before birth (like how a woman handles her pregnancy), and would need to investigate the natural death of a large number of these fetuses, to make sure they weren't somehow malevolent. Does this really seem like a good idea to you?
posted by mdn at 7:07 AM on April 1, 2009


that we are talking about a separate individual who DIES if the woman chooses to have an abortion.

To emphasize mdn's excellent and clear response, step back and realize that YOU are talking about "a separate individual who dies" etc. It's not established that a fetus is a "separate individual," and to win your argument, you need to convince others that there is reason other than your personal religious belief to consider a fetus a legal person, with the attributes of personhood under the law.
posted by Miko at 8:35 AM on April 1, 2009


That's precisely what the abortion debates comes down to: When is a zygote/fetus a person?

St. Alia argues that it's at conception. Most of us say it's much later.

(And most of us will remain utterly unconvinced by "God says so!!" -- the angle she keeps pushing, to no avail.)
posted by LordSludge at 2:40 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's nothing in the bible to indicate when a Christian should regard a lump of tissue as a human. They're just pulling stuff out of thin air, at the whim of someone else. Why isn't konolia so outspoken against war, the death penalty, etc?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:59 PM on April 1, 2009


Why isn't konolia so outspoken against war, the death penalty, etc?

#1. This thread isn't about either topic.
#2. As to war, there are just wars and unjust wars (see: just war theory.) My feelings about the present one are complicated and....well, they are complicated.

#3. I used to be pro death penalty. That has changed considerably in the past few years, particularly since there are troubling cases of innocent people on death row. Again, complicated.

Everything else? Well, if there is a thread, we'll see.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:14 PM on April 1, 2009


Serious question here: Do those of you still hanging out on this thread believe in the concept of sin?

Yeah, I could answer this, but why? What does it have to do with anything? Are you just curious?


Well, yes, there is some curiousity there. Considering the opinions shared here, I'm curious about how people with, say, your opinion look at a concept such as sin. I don't particularly think, for the record, that a person has to necessarily be "religious" to believe in certain acts being classified as either "sin" or perhaps simply "evil." (sin has the connotation of transgression and as such requires One to be transgressed against. )

Mind you, this would be a tangent to the thread proper and would perhaps be best discussed privately, but I an interested in the views represented on such a thread as this one.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:18 PM on April 1, 2009


to win your argument, you need to convince others that there is reason other than your personal religious belief to consider a fetus a legal person, with the attributes of personhood under the law.

Well, let me ask you this: Apparently according to your definition, a fetus is NOT a legal person. So, where would you draw the line? Under your definition there would have to be a moment of transition-one minute not a person under law, the next minute all rights fully granted. What would be your determining factor-and why would that determining factor be such?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:21 PM on April 1, 2009


Apparently according to your definition, a fetus is NOT a legal person.

It is essential to your argument that the fetus be considered a person. It is the only way you can justify your desire to force women who choose to abort to use unsafe means. As long as you can frame them as would-be baby-killers, you never have to worry about the consequences of your erstwhile laws!

The international human rights codes do not recognize the fetus as a legal person. American citizenship is limited to those born or naturalized in the USA.

Further, if a nation were to grant legal personhood to fetuses, it would open itself to a multitude of weird problems. The family could declare a dependent for tax purposes. It would have a social security number. Pregnant women could never be jailed: the fetus has a right to not be placed in jail, having not committed any crimes!

You want to consider a blastocyst to be a legal person — but this "person" you want has no brain, no bones, no limbs, no internal organs. Further, some 60–80% of pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion: surely there would have to be an investigation into its manner of death, and possible prosecution of the mother should it be found that she recklessly endangered its life.

Finally, the argument for choice does not require the fetus to not be a person. Personhood is entirely irrelevent. A red herring. Especially in light of your comment:

I used to be pro death penalty. That has changed considerably in the past few years...

Typical. Personhood just must be granted to single-cell blastocysts — but once you become an actual person out of the womb, that right to life thing becomes a tertiary consideration.

sin has the connotation of transgression and as such requires One to be transgressed against

That is the first time in a very, very long time that you have shown awareness of the innate religiousity of your arguments. Congratulations.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:59 PM on April 1, 2009


Well, fff, you have not convinced ME that a fetus is NOT a person. As to the death penalty-apples and oranges. People can do things worthy of death according to law. An unborn baby is quite innocent.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:02 PM on April 1, 2009


Apparently according to your definition, a fetus is NOT a legal person

No, it's definitely not. Legal personhood begins at birth. Up until birth, a fetus isn't legally a person. The situation we now have recognizes an increasing state interest in the continuation of a pregnancy as the date of birth gets closer and the likelihood of a person being born is higher. That's the rationale underlying the Roe v. Wade approach that separates a pregnancy into stages and assigns increasing state interest in a pregnancy as the stages progress. Viability has been taken into account, though there's really no test of it and it's been observed earlier and later with different people.

We can recognize state interest after viability without declaring personhood; the state is going to be obligated for the care of the baby if the community of the child fails, and it has an interest in its own increase. As it becomes increasingly likely that a child will be born, it makes sense for the state to restrict an expensive and highly invasive late-term abortion procedure that could result in a severely maimed child becoming a ward of the state and require extraordinary resources.

I don't have many issues with the Roe v. Wade agreement, and think it is a decent guideline. Before viability, the fetus is far from personhood and there are many things that could prevent its eventual progress to birth, from accidents to disease and malformation to spontaneous abortion (1 out of 4 pregnancies end that way in the first six weeks and 8% end that way after that). After viability there is an increased state interest because the viability alone is an indicator of fetal strength, although that interest does not override the mother's right to control of her own body and doesn't preclude that there are times that severe deformations appear only after viability - spina bifida being an example. One of my best friends had a spina bifida baby. I understand why some women make the choice to abort the fetus and spare it suffering rather than bear a dead baby.

But even if we're looking at times a day or two days before the due date, in the rare situations in which either the mother or the baby's life would be lost, I believe the choice lies with the mother or her legal designate, since the baby isn't a person yet. The mother has a right to life, being a legal person, but the baby does not have a right to life yet. I'm talking in cold terms. but I recognize that at the end of a pregnancy, anyone getting an abortion is already in extreme circumstances that are most likely none of my business and deserve nothing but my compassion. The existence of the legal structure around it is as it is, but obviously it's a very sad thing when the very near-term potential event of personhood doesn't happen, especially when the baby is wanted and anticipated by the parents.

In general, I respect the rights of people to know and make the right choice. I don't always know what the right and moral choice is for those people. I don't think life is always a universal good. Some people are born into misery and addiction. Some commit crimes, kill others, and die in prison. Some are living lives of misery and pain because we don't give them the right to die. We just don't know whether living is good for everyone or destined for everyone. There may be some conceptions that were always intended to die. We just don't know, it's out of our depth. I believe that we have a strong moral structure that prevents shallow cruelties and yet respects the decisions of people who are as fully in control of all their moral faculties are you are. I would like to see abortion become unecessary, but I don't want it to become illegal before it becomes unecessary, because that will result in more death, injury, injustice, illegal activity, suffering for the poor, and unwanted children than we have now. I look for the way to reduce people's suffering the most. Legal abortion helps reduce the overall amount of suffering people have to endure.

I don't particularly think, for the record, that a person has to necessarily be "religious" to believe in certain acts being classified as either "sin" or perhaps simply "evil." (sin has the connotation of transgression and as such requires One to be transgressed against. )

Certainly, an understanding of evil doesn't require religion at all. Most people are fully capable of avoiding evil and living a moral life with or without religion being an active force in their lives. I agree that a concept of "sin," though, only belongs in a religious discussion. Personally, I do have a conception of sin, but it's different from yours: it's not about rule-breaking, and it doesn't assume that all sins have been spelled out in a rulebook. There's really only one sin in my faith and that is being in a state of mind which causes you to ignore the guidance of the inner light, which is what we think of as God acting within us. But aside from the central testimonies of my religion about general principles that lead to right states of mind, we see any two people as being in two separate relationships with God. I can't fully know your state of mind, so I can't know whether your actions are sins. It's God's business, God's and yours. So it's incumbent on me to resist evil, but beyond my scope to assume that others are sinning. That's pretending to be God.
posted by Miko at 6:14 PM on April 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


So you don't believe in such a thing as an objective right and wrong? Or an immutable God?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:22 PM on April 1, 2009


An objective right and wrong? That doesn't make any sense. Nothing can be right or wrong without a subject that it's right or wrong for or to. What sense would right or wrong make in a universe where nothing existed and there was no cause and effect?

I do believe in the immutability of God. The nature of God is unchanging in my view.
posted by Miko at 6:32 PM on April 1, 2009


Well, fff, you have not convinced ME that a fetus is NOT a person.

Yippee skippee.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:06 PM on April 1, 2009


Well, fff, you have not convinced ME that a fetus is NOT a person.

Seriously, St. Alia? You make absolutely zero distinction between this and this?

Both of those things have absolutely equal rights in your eyes? Really?
posted by shiu mai baby at 7:16 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


#2. As to war, there are just wars and unjust wars (see: just war theory.) My feelings about the present one are complicated and....well, they are complicated.

lmao come on

And slightly off topic-anyone else see the Iraqis pulling the head of the destroyed Saddam statue down the street-with a couple of them astride it?
posted by konolia at 10:48 AM on April 9, 2003

posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:28 AM on April 2, 2009


People! Please, our sister St. Alia has already fallen sway to the sin of pride!

Let's not tempt her to damn herself any further! Seriously, lest she be too far gone in her sin and not be able to repent!

Let's just leave her be and pray for her to come around...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:48 AM on April 2, 2009


Oh balls. That first picture link should've been this. Sorry I fat-fingered the link.
posted by shiu mai baby at 7:59 AM on April 2, 2009


Well, fff, you have not convinced ME that a fetus is NOT a person.

False premise. She is not looking to be or even capable of being convinced. For the sake of humanity, STOP THE DISCUSSION!

Oh balls. That first picture link should've been this. Sorry I fat-fingered the link.

Wait, wait, I'm with St. Martyred Konolia Alia Whatever now. I looked at your link to the blastocyst pic, and it kinda looks like maybe Cartman is developing there. So, yeah, developing South Park characters have full rights, including the right to bear arms and drink malt liquor. Whoo-hoo, score one for anti-abortionists!
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:12 AM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


She really is a Tar baby. It's maddening and she enjoys it.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:17 AM on April 2, 2009


For the sake of humanity, STOP THE DISCUSSION!

I really don't mind. I used to spend 10 minutes every hour or so having a cigarette. These days, this is how I goof off at work. Much better for the lungs.
posted by Miko at 10:21 AM on April 2, 2009


We're all missing the (infinitely) more important part of this discussion:

If a blastocyst/zygote/fetus is aborted, it must go to heaven, right? I mean, there is zero chance that it could have sinned if it doesn't even have a brain yet. So aborting your blastocyst/zygote/fetus is the most wonderful, most selfless thing a woman could ever do ever. Even if it means she burns in hell, the blastocyst/zygote/fetus goes directly to heaven.** Talk about an infinite martyr!!

Unless, of course, God has decided that the blastocyst/zygote/fetus is sinful by its very (human) nature, in which case it goes directly to hell... which would really suck... and in which case any claims that God is "a just God" are unfounded and you guys really should stop encouraging that Asshole.

Or unless you say the blastocyst/zygote/fetus goes to "purgatory" (LOL), in which case I'd have to say you're just making shit up and/or are one of those heathen Catholics.

** To live as a blob for all eternity. Yay, blob!
posted by LordSludge at 11:59 AM on April 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, fff, you have not convinced ME that a fetus is NOT a person

No one's trying to convince you of that. What the point is, is that no fetus should have more rights than a fully grown woman. I find it absolutely stunningly insulting for anyone to say that a lump of cells (yes, with no organs, brain, etc.) growing inside me should have the same rights as me.

And yes, weird legal problems arise if you grant those rights to the fetus. Horrible, horrifying legal problems for women, much worse than to which they are already subjected in many states. Granting full personhood to a fetus would be moving FAR backward for women's rights.
posted by agregoli at 2:57 PM on April 2, 2009


[few comments removed - this really needs to get out of the personal attacks/commentary about former usernames]
posted by jessamyn at 6:59 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Noted.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:08 PM on April 2, 2009


Konolia, it is a demonstrable fact that your goal ("Yes, I would love it outlawed") causes harm to womankind. How do you reconcile that problem — harm to a great many women, and the families they love — with your Christian values?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:26 PM on April 2, 2009


*slaps forehead*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:42 PM on April 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but am I to understand that you see that as a personal attack, stavros? Because I see it as an inquiry that can help me better understand how she can hold a worldview that I see as self-contradictory. Without asking, I can not know.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:51 PM on April 2, 2009


I think Stavros was referring to the bit about current user names.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:07 AM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I believe it is less harmful to give life than to take it. I believe that people have the responsibility not to choose things that will harm them. That is why I think in some sense the specter of illegal abortion is a red herring. (Of course illegal abortions are horrifying. I never said they weren't.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:30 AM on April 3, 2009


I'm sorry, that's still self-contradictory. You believe people have the responsibility to not choose things that will harm them, yet you wish to construct a society in which women do not have the ability to choose a less-harmful option. Your preference does not create less harm. Women will actually die by your preference.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:46 AM on April 3, 2009


I believe it is less harmful to give life than to take it.

I don't. I think there's plenty of evidence for situations in which it's more cruel to force or sustain life than to take it. I think there's a also a lot of evidence of widespread harm to society through the demands of more lives than the social safety net, or the planet, can sustain and properly care for.

I believe that people have the responsibility not to choose things that will harm them.

But abortion may not harm anyone at all. Some methods of illegal abortion might be harmful, but not all. If there's a standard of harm, what would you do about the illegal availability of RU-486, for instance, which I would expect right away? That doesn't cause significant harm at all. It would be unfair, though, as it would be very hard for everyone to have equal access since there would be no laws guaranteeing it. You might have an underground railroad develop which would bring this drug to women.

But anyway, no, it's not a 'red herring.' More women would be hurt by illegal, unregulated abortion if abortion were illegal - it's pretty clear and simple and history shows it. I'm not sure what you mean by people "having a responsibility" to avoid harm to themselves. Obviously a woman seeking an illegal abortion would be trying to avoid greater harm by choosing a lesser harm, so she'd be meeting that responsibility by getting the abortion.
posted by Miko at 9:02 AM on April 3, 2009


Well, let me ask you this: Apparently according to your definition, a fetus is NOT a legal person. So, where would you draw the line? Under your definition there would have to be a moment of transition-one minute not a person under law, the next minute all rights fully granted. What would be your determining factor-and why would that determining factor be such?

The US Supreme Court already ruled on this. The determining factor is viability. That means the fetus has to be capable of survival - of the most basic sort - without the assistance of the mother's organs. This does not mean the fetus has to fend for itself or anything - just that it is capable of having contact with air, beating its own heart, breathing, that kind of thing. Until it is able to exist as a separated individual, the state has no interest in protecting it.

That absolutely does not mean that you or I might not have an interest in protecting it: once again, the state has no interest in protecting dogs, either, but that doesn't mean everyone should just go kill their dogs, and it doesn't mean everyone is going to. Getting the state involved in some decisions is just complicating matters that should be handled by individuals and professionals.

Considering the opinions shared here, I'm curious about how people with, say, your opinion look at a concept such as sin.

original sin or sin more generally? The idea of original sin is a great metaphor for the failure to reach perfection that most human beings are continually aware of, and I enjoy it in a lot of christian art and even philosophy, although I could never take it literally - but I think the mythology is wonderful.

Sin in more everyday terms, as in, it's a sin to steal, seems like a sort of unfortunate reductive way to deal with morality. It separates the person from the true consequences and meanings of his actions, and makes them simply abstractly "right" or "wrong" according to an arbitrary list of rules - what is or isn't listed as sinful. But right and wrong, and various shades of grey between, are complex and important parts of character building - to understand that stealing from John causes difficulties for John, that I am just one of many and I can't be the exception, so that if everyone stole from everyone, people would be stealing from me, and my parents and people I love, to understand that stealing is taking something of value without having done anything of value in return, and that it will be better to contribute something of value openly, and be part of the world, than to sneak something away - all of these lessons and so many more are completely missed if you just follow some arbitrary list of what's right and wrong. Real morality is a much richer exercise, where you challenge yourself to work out who you are going to be, and why.

Ethics without knowledge has no meaning, and the fact that people learn to follow lists is why bad rulers can turn populations - they just need to get them to follow a new list...
posted by mdn at 7:35 PM on April 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


[use members' current usernames or go to metatalk, thanks]
posted by jessamyn at 7:46 PM on April 5, 2009


Well, as a matter of fact, FFF, I do. Husband's had the big snip.

I have no beef with any form of birth control that keeps sperm and egg separate.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:48 PM on April 5, 2009


(For those who missed FFF's post, he was asking my opinion on permanent methods of birth control.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:49 PM on April 5, 2009


If reversible sterilization were a sure thing, would you support allowing teenagers to decide to "get fixed"?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:58 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


FFF, I can't support unmarried sex and you know that. I don't care if the people are 16 or 65.

Besides, leaving my faith out of it, under your scenario they would still be at risk for sexually transmitted disease.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:03 PM on April 5, 2009


Obviously they'd still be at risk for STDs. But it would largely solve the problem of unwanted abortions. And my bottom line is always what is effective, not what is ideal. We are never going to create heaven on earth. We need to minimize harm.

I think that in the long term, my harm reduction philosophy is what will create the best possible circumstances. I acknowledge that many of your desires are ideals: I think there should be no abortion, too. But I also acknowledge that this is a flawed world. I think I propose practical solutions. I think the things you proprose are impossibly idealistic. To do what you want to do would be to choose to do massive harm in the real world.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:25 PM on April 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


FFF, I can't support unmarried sex and you know that. I don't care if the people are 16 or 65.

Awesome! Glad we cleared that up. But guess what? People are going to have unmarried sex. They have been ever since the beginning of time, and they will continue to do so, and your sniffing disapproval carries exactly zero weight with their decision.

So here's what we're looking at:

1) People are going to have sex outside of marriage, and your lack of support of this fact doesn't matter here. At all.

2) If a woman gets pregnant and does not wish to raise a child or go through the trauma of pregnancy and then giving the kid up for adoption, she's going to terminate the pregnancy, again, regardless of how much you dislike that fact, and regardless of the legality of abortion.

Why, then, St. Alia. Why why why, if these two things are true, which they are, and I can guarantee they will be for every and ever, amen, why would you not support things that make item #2 less likely to happen?

Why would you not support access to birth control and emergency contraception? Why would you not support better sex education for teens, so they understand the very basic risk factors that go along with sexual intercourse -- and I'm not talking about abstinence-only programs, which very clearly do not work? Why would you not support programs that make it easier for a woman to decide to keep a child that results from an unintended pregnancy -- e.g. universal healthcare, greater social support for single moms, etc.?

You're so determined to wait on God to "change people's hearts" about issues #1 and #2, and yet, thousands and thousands and thousands of years later, these are still issues that society faces. Don't you think God would've changed people's hearts by now? Why has He waited so long? Is He waiting for a certain threshold of babies to be murdered* before He steps in and says, HEY, LADIES, YOU MIGHT WANT TO RETHINK THE WHOLE ABORTION THING?

And more directly: how in the world is it ok for you and your conscience to just sit back and "wait for God to act" when you yourself can have a direct impact on reducing the number of abortions? I honestly don't mean to be rude, but that's a damned lazy way to behave on your part for a cause that you at least purport to be so passionate about.

(*Borrowing the language of the anti-abortionists here, obvs)
posted by shiu mai baby at 4:32 AM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually the main thing I am passionate about is God and His revealed Will.

Everything else flows from that.

Abortion is just one tendril of a poisoned vine.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:11 AM on April 6, 2009


Everything else flows from that.

Abortion is just one tendril of a poisoned vine.


Interesting, as a non-believer, I'm big on quantifying how I can best spend resources on thwarting death and injustice. If I believed abortion were murder, then making our society stop doing it would probably be the most significant thing in my life.

But I guess if you see the world as primarily influence by the hand of God, piety and perhaps evangelism really are the best weapons to deploy at all times. Is your evangelism on MetaFilter yielding any success as far as you can tell?
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:25 AM on April 6, 2009


Actually the main thing I am passionate about is God and His revealed Will.

I wish we could start there, because it's more honest. You aren't actually interested in saving lives or reducing the number of abortions - you're interested in trying to see that everyone come to believe what you believe is God's will.

It would save a lot of time and earnest effort to just start with this as your goal. Because that makes it quite clear that there isn't any common ground for us to begin solving the pragmatic problem of what are we to do about all the unintended pregnancies which some of us actually do want to solve.
posted by Miko at 7:45 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Again, Miko, that is just one tendril of the main problem which is the sin nature in humans. You can go around cutting off vines all day but the root is still there. And only Christ can deal with that root.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:32 AM on April 7, 2009


I think the essential difference in POV here is that while you're merrily and self-satisfiedly focusing on that delightful Christ/root synergy, there's a shitload of unpleasant vine action going on out in the world that the rest of us are a little more interested in dealing with pragmatically so that life out here in the vineyard can be a bit less crappy prior to the predicted Post-Apocalyptic High-Fives With Jesus party.

Part of the frustration is that if you're wrong about the Jesus angle, your approach to the problem amounts to, at best, nothing. The best possible outcome of laying it all at the feet of God's Will is that nobody gets more fucked up than they would have otherwise. To those of us who don't share your belief, that's a shit gameplan and a hell of a lot more to ask for than simple mutual tolerance of differing beliefs about the nature of God.

In a policy discussion, I will take an ounce of pragmatism over a pound of pure faith any day.
posted by cortex at 7:15 AM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I get it, but then why do you bother people about abortion when that's not really what you're concerned about? If your real concern is lending your assistance to Christ in eradicating the "sin nature in humans" why don't you concentrate on that rather than abortion?

As I said, many people are actually concerned about the issue of abortion itself and its related social problems. Many of us would like to reduce and prevent abortions and make them unecessary.

You're not willing to engage in that pursuit - in other words, your position is that you'd actually rather have more fetuses aborted and more women die as long as it's part of a path to achieve your central goal of bringing people into agreement with your spiritual understanding. Do I have that right? It seems crazy I know, but it's actually the logical extension of what you've been saying in your last few comments.
posted by Miko at 7:18 AM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Still watching this thread with interest -- how I wish we could have this conversation on a national level...
posted by LordSludge at 8:13 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


St. Alia, the only thing you offer society is failure.

Rather than come to terms with the poor moral choices people make, and creating a society in which the harm they might cause themselves is minimized, you wish to create a society in which that harm is maximized.

That is not a sane position.

In most ways, I am in agreement with you regarding personal morality. But unlike you, I recognize that what I would prefer people to do is not what they are necessarily going to do.

Hence, I support those things that will at least reduce the amount of harm they cause to themselves and to society.

That is a sane position.

It is a crying shame that you choose to support making society as harmful as possible to those who transgress your moral code. I am dead certain that red-letter Jesus would never support you in your efforts.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:21 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, I am dead certain that Jesus does not see the answer to the consequences of sin as more sin. But it is certainly the world's way. And unlike you I don't see things as abortion as making things LESS harmful for people. And yes, people are going to do what they are going to do, and I believe that when people do things, they are responsible for what they do.

I love people, and I don't condemn anyone. But not condemning someone is not the same as condoning.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:14 PM on April 7, 2009


It is completely the opposite of “more sin”.

Let us take an example you are intimately familiar with: sex outside marriage. You know from experience that even a child raised in the most loving, Christ-centered family can fall to sin, and decide to have sex before marriage. You know that a good 25% of those way-fallen children are going to compound their sin by getting an abortion.

Having sex and then having an abortion is more sinful than having safe sex¹.

Your moral decision — to fight against safe sex as well as abortion — is to explicitly choose the more sinful option. Kids are going to have sex regardless, you outright admit that: therefore, your responsibility is to support that which results in less sin. (Or, in my vocabulary, that which results in less harm.)

There is absolutely nothing in the Jesus-teachings part of the New Testament to indicate that when a sinful behaviour is taking place, He would choose to maximize the harm that comes of that sin. Indeed, what you propose is antithetical to all that He teaches.

I do not understand why this basic, common-sense understanding of minimizing harm eludes your grasp. You have accepted the fact that unmarried sex is going to happen. How can you not choose the less destructive option when deciding how to deal with that fact?

The only available answer is that you do not wish to minimize sin: you wish to maximize harm/punishment/pain/call it what you will. It absolutely astounds me that you can simultaneously claim to be Christ-inspired and fight for things that cause more harm. It downright scares me that you supposedly belong to a substantial community that is in agreement with you. The road to hell is paved with your good intentions.

¹Or, at the very least, the safe sex is no more sinful and much less harmful to one's health.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:52 PM on April 7, 2009


Uh, no, transgressing God's will is transgressing God's will.

My daughter did NOT choose abortion. She chose life. And has been blessed beyond measure. Her life has not been ruined, it has been changed for the better. That child of hers steered her and her now husband into a much better life than they had before he was conceived.

God took what was unarguably a pretty tough family crisis (and no lie, it was really tough) and made something beautiful out of it.

She had people recommending abortion to her. She was horrified at the thought because she knew it was a baby and not a random clump of cells. She had no pressure from me because at the time I did not know she was expecting and would never have known if she'd had an abortion. (She was not living with us at the time.)

That baby was not a punishment for sex. That baby was a natural consequence of sex but he was more than that. He was a blessing that God gave her despite the circumstnces. Because babies are not punishment. They are blessings and they are gifts.

How insulting to me, to them, and most of all to my precious grandson to say that the better choice would have been to murder him. How utterly horrible and disgusting a thing to believe. How monstrous a society we have that could believe it so easily.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:59 PM on April 7, 2009


Oh, and by the way I had talked to my children about contraception because I answered their questions. She knew about safe sex. She doesn't discuss her sex life with me so I have no idea if it was contraceptive failure or no contraception at all...but I know three times over that contraception can and does fail sometimes so I fail to see where that would be an answer fwiw.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:03 PM on April 7, 2009


That was not a nerve I was trying to touch. I am not describing the choices you made. I am saying that through your personal experience, you understand that children can and do have sex. You have experienced concrete evidence of the act.

And you know that a lot of children, even those you would normally have regarded as good Christians, subsequently go on to have an abortion. I provide a link that has studies reporting that fact.

Faced with these facts, society now has choices to make regarding the safety of that act (of children having sex).

The society which you describe in your anti-teen-contraception world is one in which many teenagers, even those you would normally have regarded as good Christians, subsequently go on to have an abortion.

The society which I describe is one in which those self-same teenagers make use of contraceptives and almost all of those you'd normally have regarded as good Christians are still sinful, but at least they don't have an abortion!

I do not understand how you conceive of any basis on which to argue this. What you support supports abortion.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:18 PM on April 7, 2009


Your hypothetical teenagers are much better with contraception than real ones....teens that are abstinent don't have abortions either btw.

After I became a Christian I became abstinent. For years. Until my wedding night.If I could do it, after, shall we say, knowing what I was missing, I know it can be done.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:34 PM on April 7, 2009


Oh, and by the way I had talked to my children about contraception because I answered their questions. She knew about safe sex.

Which is well and truly irrelevent to the issue at hand.

You said that you do not support unmarried [ie. teen] sex, when asked if you support the idea of teens having access to reversible sterilization. Now the only way to construe that as an answer is to accept that it is political language for "I do not support access to effective contraceptives."

And if that is an incorrect interpretation, the fact remains that you posted in the negative: not in support of X.

The one sure-fire way to ensure that abortion is no longer a going concern, and you reject it. Because somehow, you "do not see the answer to the consequences of sin as more sin." The disjointed illogic of that statement is baffling, but again distinctly negatory: you do not support an effective method of reducing the abortion rate. You prefer to have... more abortions?

You make no sense.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:45 PM on April 7, 2009


I'm not going out and snatching condoms out of teenagers hands, fff. I cannot in good conscience pass them out for reasons we have already made plain, but you cannot tell me that in this society people can't find and get contraception. In my stupid teenage years we had no problem with access, and things were not nearly so freewheeling as they are now.

I will not personally support sin. But you are setting up a straw man here.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:39 AM on April 8, 2009


That baby was not a punishment for sex.

Of course not. No one thinks that, no one said that. But it does say a lot about you that you feel that the proper punishment for having sex is getting cervical cancer.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:54 AM on April 8, 2009


I have offered an option that would see abortion rates plummet.

You reject that option.

That's not setting up a straw man.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:33 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am telling you that contraception is OUT THERE and people are still having abortions. They rely on things like condoms-which can and do break or leak or can be used incorrectly. Or pills-which can fail under certain circumstances. If contraception could end abortion I'd think abortion would be pretty darn rare.


It isn't.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:53 AM on April 8, 2009


Actually the main thing I am passionate about is God and His revealed Will.

No.

The main thing you are passionate about is trying to prove that you know so much more about that than the rest of us sinners. You are passionate about showing off how much more you think know about God's will than the rest of us do, how much more righteous you think are than the rest of us, how much more you think God's going to smile at you than us...even your protestations of humbleness are fraught with trying to prove how much more pious you are than the rest of us -- "I know that we're all sinners, see, I know what God said, looks like you don't..."

You have continued to perpetuate this discussion to an absurd length, rather than shaking the dust from your sandals than walking on. The only conclusion I can reach is that you actually aren't in this discussion to make a statement about abortion at all. Instead, you are in this discussion to prove just how much more righteous you are about your faith.

I believe you would do well to contemplate Matthew 6:1 -- "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Riiight, because the anti-choice community doesn't do a hell of a job keeping contraception and accurate information about it away from the people who need it most. It's not as simple as your privileged life betrays - oh, just go get contraception, everyone knows about it, knows how to get it, how it works, and has had "the talk" with their parents from a young age. Extrapolating from your experience is natural but not realistic. Everyone doesn't get the same start in life.
posted by agregoli at 10:11 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


....teens that are abstinent don't have abortions either btw.

If they are actually abstinent, no. Yet we have a lot of evidence showing that about half the teens who set out to practice abstinence fail at it - and when they do, if they've only had access to abstinence education, they don't have full information about contraceptives and sex. In this article "Red Sex, Blue Sex," which I highly recommend reading, described recent research that says that:
"...Religion is a good indicator of attitudes toward sex, but a poor one of sexual behavior, and that this gap is especially wide among teen-agers who identify themselves as evangelical.

The vast majority of white evangelical adolescents—seventy-four per cent—say that they believe in abstaining from sex before marriage. (Only half of mainline Protestants, and a quarter of Jews, say that they believe in abstinence....But, according to Add Health data, evangelical teen-agers are more sexually active than Mormons, mainline Protestants, and Jews. On average, white evangelical Protestants make their “sexual début”—to use the festive term of social-science researchers—shortly after turning sixteen. Among major religious groups, only black Protestants begin having sex earlier.

Another key difference in behavior, Regnerus reports, is that evangelical Protestant teen-agers are significantly less likely than other groups to use contraception. This could be because evangelicals are also among the most likely to believe that using contraception will send the message that they are looking for sex. It could also be because many evangelicals are steeped in the abstinence movement’s warnings that condoms won’t actually protect them from pregnancy or venereal disease. More provocatively, Regnerus found that only half of sexually active teen-agers who say that they seek guidance from God or the Scriptures when making a tough decision report using contraception every time. By contrast, sixty-nine per cent of sexually active youth who say that they most often follow the counsel of a parent or another trusted adult consistently use protection.
So those kids fail at a pretty significant rate. And of those who fail, many doubtlessly are choosing to have abortions. Opposing contraceptive education and comprehensive sex education, then, contributes to abortion.

I am not sure why you brought your daughter into the discussion; it's anecdotal, and it's personal. But your daughter's story doesn't constitute any evidence that carrying a pregnancy to term is always the best option or the best option for everyone. Your daughter is one of more than three million American women each year who experience an unplanned pregnancy. In fact, look at this: "In developed countries, of the 28 million pregnancies occurring every year, an estimated 49% are unplanned, and 36% end in abortion." Not every woman in that 36% who choose abortion is like your daughter. Things that are true for your daughter that might not be true for them:

-they might have no sympathetic family members
-they might have better employment prospects
-they might be in the midst of an education or career qualifying process
-they might have complicating illnesses
-the father might not be in the picture
-the father might be addicted
-the father might be abusive
-other family members of the women might be abusive
-they might have too many children already
-they might be mentally unstable
-they might be addicted
-they might not be willing to undergo a pregnancy
-they might not like or want any children at all
-they might be underage
-they might have no support system besides themselves
-they might not see adoption as something they can live with
-they might have less financial resources or be in significant debt
-they might not want to be legally tied forever to an unstable or violent potential father
-they might have high chances for a congential birth defect or an already deformed fetus
-they fetus might be at risk for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
-read these, or add your own!

In other words, not everyone is your daughter, and not everyone wants to live your daughter's life, or even can, or has the resources to. This is a very diverse society, and your daughter's experience is hers alone. It may be as good an outcome as there can be to an unplanned pregnancy; if so, you were all lucky.

The main thing here is to look at your words:

My daughter did NOT choose abortion. She chose life. And has been blessed beyond measure....


Your daughter had a choice. Isn't that wonderful? She was able to choose to enter into this blessed state of parenthood that has so improved her life. She chose it. She exercised her choice.

Imagine what a terrible world you would think this was if she wasn't allowed a choice. If she had been forced by the government to abort that child - even if she wanted it, and even though she had the full support of you and the baby's father to raise it. No matter; individual distinctions don't count, and all unplanned pregnancies must be aborted, because that's the law. Unplanned pregnancies are a drain on the system, they drive up health care costs, they're health and employment risks, they result in lost productivity, so the government now says that people have to go through an approval process to be allowed to get pregnant. Everyone else - sorry, if your BCP fails or the condom breaks or you have a lapse in judgement, you're headed for the clinic, and that's all she wrote.

Because it's that kind of totalitarianism that you seem to be asking for. You're asking for no one else to have the same choices your daughter had, even if their lives are so different from your daughter's that you can barely imagine them.

And again, by concentrating on this issue, you are using the time you could better spend donating to and advocating for more effective contraception and contraceptive research, comprehensive sex education, family planning programming and resources, and an economic system that doesn't penalize women for choosing to become parents. Until you do that, your energy is going into all the wrong places - it's actually ensuring that more abortions will occur.

Give everybody the choices your daughter has. Don't try to take the role of mother to America's women. This choice to have a baby or not is theirs to make, not yours.
posted by Miko at 12:10 PM on April 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Things that are true for your daughter that might not be true for them:

Whoops, I screwed up there as I changed what I wanted to say midstream. Let me make it clear that I don't intend to say that all those things apply to your daughter. The list should be headed something like "Things that could be differences between your daughter's prenancy and other women's".
posted by Miko at 12:14 PM on April 8, 2009


You have continued to perpetuate this discussion to an absurd length, rather than shaking the dust from your sandals than walking on. The only conclusion I can reach is that you actually aren't in this discussion to make a statement about abortion at all. Instead, you are in this discussion to prove just how much more righteous you are about your faith.

Silly me. I thought I was participating in a discussion on Metafilter.

Not that I particularly need to defend myself here, but I feel like that for once FFF and I have been having a pretty good conversation on these topics. I'm puzzled why that annoys you.

From my perspective-when I do participate on certain threads it seems that the comments I get at times reflect the personal gut feelings certain people have about Christianity or Christians in the general rather than the particular discussion that one is having with a particular person, that person being me. It is true that to my knowlege I have never met any of you in real life so you don't know what I am like, so it's certainly understandable.

All of us on metafilter generally have strong feelings on some subjects-the subjects, of course, varying on the person posting. I really don't see why my holding to my views solidly equates to my supposingly feeling "holier than thou" -particularly as the longer I am a Christian the more I know how short I myself fall from the Glory of God. The good news is He's the potter, I'm the clay, and He's a very patient and loving craftsman.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:39 PM on April 8, 2009


Because it's that kind of totalitarianism that you seem to be asking for.

Actually, it's that kind of totalitarianism I could see easily happening in the forseeable future. It's going on in China right now, to a certain extent, already.

And again, I see unplanned pregnancies as a symptom, not THE problem itself. The real problem is the views people have regarding children as a burden vs a blessing, and sex being seen as a casual scratching of an itch instead of the serious, holy, and sacred thing it was created to be to strengthen pair bonds and to yes, beget children. Sex is not and never will be a casual thing even if the people engaging in it think it is. Even if no one ever got pregnant if they didn't wish to, there are other, deeper ramifications of misuse of sexuality that can and do affect individuals-and no, I don't mean STDs here.

But, hey, wait 20 or 30 years and see what kind of society we have if we continue to go down this spiral. No need to take MY word for it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:46 PM on April 8, 2009


Snorting at the idea I had a priviledged upbringing.

People, I grew up in a singlewide trailer.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:49 PM on April 8, 2009


Privilege in this sense doesn't mean riches.
posted by agregoli at 12:57 PM on April 8, 2009


You state "the real problem" as fact. Once again, it's your opinion, nothing more. And the majority of people are not going to change their minds to share your views on sex and marriage, and children and pregnancy will always be a mixed bag of reactions and feelings depending on the person and situation - I agree with fff that given all of this, it's rather disappointing that you are are not at all interested in helping people who do not believe exactly as you do. I guess if only everyone would change their minds to be in line with you, you wouldn't need to help them, is your point.
posted by agregoli at 1:00 PM on April 8, 2009


The real problem is the views people have regarding children as a burden vs a blessing, and sex being seen as a casual scratching of an itch instead of the serious, holy, and sacred thing it was created to be to strengthen pair bonds and to yes, beget children.

Believing it's holy is a personal belief, not shared among everybody. Whether it's holy or inholy, it happens - has, since the beginnning of time, and shows no signs of stopping. We do know how to reduce the incidence of sex among unprepared people, yet you don't want to do that because that involves educating them about sex. It's a conundrum.

Sex is not and never will be a casual thing even if the people engaging in it think it is. Even if no one ever got pregnant if they didn't wish to, there are other, deeper ramifications of misuse of sexuality that can and do affect individuals-and no, I don't mean STDs here.

What are they?

But, hey, wait 20 or 30 years and see what kind of society we have if we continue to go down this spiral. No need to take MY word for it.

There's no need to wait - we have had legalized abortion for more than 30 years, and despite the fact that it's underfunded and unfair in terms of access, it's given us a better kind of society. It's clear that we have many fewer women dying or losing their uteruses due to hemorrhage and infection from unsanitary abortions. We have prevented an unknown number of suicides and infanticides. We have increased the standard of care - whereas before legalized abortion, there were between a quarter million and 1 million illegal abortions a year, we now have abortion performed by licensed medical professionals in regulated, sanitary settings. We have increased the percentage of abortions performed earlier, rather than later, in pregnancies. We have increased the proportion of wanted to unwanted children born, and we have decreased overall family size, which has environmental and social benefits. We have increased women's freedom and given them and their doctors the power to make their own choices about reproduction, within reasonable parameters. We have reduced family reliance on welfare and public funding, improving the quality and quantity of resources available to children who were born. We have increased the mental and emotional health of whole families whose resources are now not overburdened by an unwanted additional child.

So I don't think we're going "down a spiral," I think we've achieved phenomenal public health gains, established greater equality under the law, improved conditions for women, their children, and their families, reduced state expenses, and prevented quite a bit of illegal activity, illlness, crime, and death. It's hard to argue this hasn't been a social boon.

But back to my point - what if your daughter didn't have a choice? You tried to deflect that question by talking about China. We're not talking about China right now. Do you think it would be all right for the government to take away your daughter's choice to become a parent?
posted by Miko at 1:30 PM on April 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Do you think it would be all right for the government to take away your daughter's choice to become a parent?

No, because in that scenario a murder would be committed.

The government is already involved in prohibiting murder already.

(As long as you are already born. )
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:18 PM on April 8, 2009


No, because in that scenario a murder would be committed.

No; abortion isn't considered murder under the law now, so assume nothing has changed regarding murder law in this future in which the government can control your daughter's reproductive choice. I agree that the government makes murder illegal, but abortion isn't murder under the law. Since it's not illegal and it's not murder, would you support the government forcing your daughter to have an abortion?
posted by Miko at 4:09 PM on April 8, 2009


Miko, it's apples and oranges, no comparison and I am surprised you continue along these lines. Because I will continue to see an unborn child as a baby and you will continue to see an unborn child as disposable tissue. Every time I look into my sweet grandson's face I don't see a statistic, I don't see an anecdote, I see a real child that many people on this thread would have heartily recommended my daughter wash down a sink just so her plans would not have been disrupted.

All those other unborn babies have just as much a right-a HUMAN RIGHT-to be born as he did.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:26 PM on April 8, 2009


Miko, it's apples and oranges, no comparison and I am surprised you continue along these lines.

That's not what I asked you. How you feel about babies has nothing to do with the question. I asked you:

Would you support the government forcing your daughter to have an abortion?
posted by Miko at 5:36 PM on April 8, 2009


I am telling you that contraception is OUT THERE and people are still having abortions. They rely on things like condoms-which can and do break or leak or can be used incorrectly. Or pills-which can fail under certain circumstances. If contraception could end abortion I'd think abortion would be pretty darn rare. It isn't.

You are right. People often do not use contraceptives correctly, and often do not use them at all. It astounds me: the rates for certain STDs is sky-high, and the potential health consequences are pretty nasty. You'd think people would care more for their fun bits.

But again, this is beside the point. I offered reversible sterilization of teenagers as a sure-fire method of radically reducing the abortion rate. You rejected it. You claim of being anti-abortion rings hollow because of this.

Back to your digression (but don't let this distract you from my main point, the previous paragraph): the pill, used correctly, is incredibly effective. Coupled with a condom for STD protection, the chances of conception is for all practical purposes, nil. No one who is committing the sin of sex outside marriage should be getting pregnant. It's bloody daft that they do.

The problem is two-fold: people are lazy, people are embarassed, and people are uneducated.

The latter is easy to solve: good sex education from a young age. No one should become a teenager without knowing how to use The Pill correctly (every day, same time every day) and how to use condoms and spermicides correctly.

The first is easy to solve, too: it should be easy to get on The Pill and it should be easy to get condoms. Condom vending machines in schools has proven effective. Households that have teenagers in them can keep a dish of condoms available in the main bathroom. And if we were to insist that condom dispensing machines in gas stations, restaurants, and the like had to stock good condoms, that would be good. Providing novelty french ticklers as a prophylactic is not doing anyone any favours¹.

The problem of embarassment is problematic. I think a sense of responsibility is the cure, and I think that is best done through education. If a part of the sex education program included participation in following a pregnancy, seeing the ultrasounds, learning about babies' needs and care — well, I think we'd find a lot more teens taking the issue of choosing to have sex, and the need to make wise decisions in using birth control, much more seriously. And we'd have much lower abortion rates.

It is a sensible, easy, and smart way of approaching the problem of reducing the number of abortions that take place. It would work.

And yet you wouldn't support it. Which blows me away because, wow, choose more abortions?!?

¹I know, you're going to rant about condoning sex. Access is not the same as condoning. Planting an apple tree in the front yard is not condoning the behaviour of someone who picks apples from the tree, even though they can access it right there. It is the responsibility of the individual to choose whether or not to steal from the apple tree; it is the responsibility of the individual to choose whether or not to engage in pre-marital sex. Further, if the presence of condoms is said to condone sex, the absence of them in a house with teenagers can be said to condone unsafe sex.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:55 PM on April 8, 2009


No one who is committing the sin of sex outside marriage should be getting pregnant. It's bloody daft that they do.

The Pill, with a 0.3% failure rate even when perfectly used, means that 3 out of 1000 women will get pregnant even if they are using the most effective method perfectly. That's why in addition to the measures you outline above, I think it's imperative that we improve birth control methods. We can seek ever greater efficacy in hormonal methods, fine-tuning them better. And, humans being what they are, we should try to find methods that don't rely so greatly on user perfection, because it's not as easy as it sounds. Imperfect use is as easy as oversleeping, as easy as not having your prescription right when you get it filled at a foreign pharmacy while on sabbatical, as easy as puking your guts up because you picked up a stomach bug at the buffet the night before. The technology can be better - I'm not ready to say anyone who becomes pregnant was stupid. (Also, it's expensive, so not everyone can choose the most effective methods). I'd like to see more investment in research on ever more secure methods, one-time implantations and hormones and devices and the like, reversible sterilization sure, but methods that are least invasive, affordable, accessible, and most effective.

I don't mean my comment there to take my attention off this important question to St. Alia of the Bunnies, though:

Would you support the government forcing your daughter to have an abortion?
posted by Miko at 6:12 PM on April 8, 2009


Not that I particularly need to defend myself here, but I feel like that for once FFF and I have been having a pretty good conversation on these topics.

I agree and I thank you.

I want you to understand that I do not wish you to give up your faith.

I am, as I have stated before, a hard atheist: I am absolutely certain, not a shade of a doubt, that there is nothing after death. The amount of ridiculousness I find in the panoply of God ideas is bigger than your faith in Christ.

Nonetheless, I understand that faith is an important aspect of life to many people, who find that it provides them a moral framework within which to live in a society, and a support network and worldview that helps them to get along in this world. Your faith, for you, is a Good Thing.

I continue this discussion because I hope that at some point, a light will go on and you'll say "Ohhh! Now I understand why I need to approach social construction from a least-harm approach, and not worry about whether people are making a sinful choice!"

They make sinful choices. We are absolutely in agreement with that. We agree that it would be better if they made fewer sinful choices.

Why do we not agree that for those people we haven't taught to not make sinful choices should be offered a viable opportunity to at least minimize the harm they do to themselves or others?

That you support greater harm is so counter to all the ideals you express otherwise is a huge contradiction. I am astounded that you do not see it for what it is.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:12 PM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Pill, with a 0.3% failure rate even when perfectly used, means that 3 out of 1000 women will get pregnant even if they are using the most effective method perfectly.

FDA reports a 0.1% lowest expected failure rate for The Pill. 3% for condoms. Combined, a 0.003% rate — 3 out of 100 000. That's orders of magnitude fewer than one would expect for full-on sterilization.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:31 PM on April 8, 2009


Would you support the government forcing your daughter to have an abortion?

A better argument to make a pro-lifer see your point might be:

Would you support the right of a radical religious offshoot of Christianity to found their own country, declare gametes to be sacred in the eyes of God, and legally require all married couples to bear as many children as they are physically capable of?

This would strengthen the bonds of matrimony, further de-stigmatize babies, and avoid any possible moral quandaries involved in the waste of sperm a la Genesis 38:9. Any complaints about the state violating the autonomy of couples could be hand waved away by pointing at the moral absolutes that God obviously requires from all his righteous followers, and within a few decades people could start pretending that not forcing couples to conceive children (at gunpoint if necessary) is a new never before seen in history heretical concept, and if it continues, all of society would fall into a moral abyss.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:32 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, BrotherCaine, I still want to know the answer to my original question, which is really very simple.

Would you support the government forcing your daughter to have an abortion?

posted by Miko at 6:36 PM on April 8, 2009


Miko, I answered it the first time you asked. You aren't going to get anywhere with me by repeating it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:53 PM on April 8, 2009


And BrotherCaine, I have to give you a gold star for creative writing there.

It is sad really to see all the ways people try to tie themselves in knots to avoid the simplicity of the idea that an unborn baby should have human rights because it IS human.

If pregnancies happened by spontaneous combustion I could understand it. But we all know where babies come from and how they get started. If a pregnancy is really, really a bad idea perhaps it is equally a bad idea to have sex???
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:57 PM on April 8, 2009


It is sad really to see all the ways people try to tie themselves in knots to avoid the simplicity of the idea that an unborn baby should have human rights because it IS human.

Sperm and eggs are human too, but you draw a line at conception, or perhaps implantation. Some others do at birth, some societies past birth. Any line we draw is a subjective and an arbitrary one, and subject to interpretation regardless of whether your assumptions are drawn from your interpretation of scripture, my interpretation of biology (which I'll grant you I understand less than you probably understand scripture), or some functional test of viability out of the uterus. It's not simple, and even if it were simple, that wouldn't make it morally valid or invalid.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:23 PM on April 8, 2009


I think it is enough that almost everyone agrees with you that abortions are not a desirable aspect of our human nature. Is it not enough for you that everyone agrees that fewer abortions is a good thing?

Good grief. Why do you insist that we must do it from your particular moral or religious perspective?

And it could hardly be less relevant to the issue what anyone's particular moral orientation is on this issue. Harm reduction is the only issue that needs to be addressed by law. It is the only solid ground from which to take a position: it is an immutable fact that X will reduce the abortion rate, that Y will increase the abortion rate. Base the law on that which reduces abortions.

We have facts from which to base law that is perfectly aligned with your personal moral perspective for the entirety of your life: never would you have been forced to perform an immoral act of harm. What more could you possibly want?

Please, answer, what more do you want? The opportunities to reduce abortion are known, and you reject them. What more do you want?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:36 PM on April 8, 2009


I see a real child that many people on this thread would have heartily recommended my daughter wash down a sink just so her plans would not have been disrupted.


No. The concept of "pro choice" is that it's up to the woman, because, see, the reasoning goes, she's the only person on this earth who has the right to say what happens to her and her fetus. Most reasonable people who are pro-choice (like us here) would not recommend, hair-trigger-like, to anyone accidentally pregnant, that she "wash it down a sink so her plans would not be disrupted."

Pro-choice means listening to what people like your daughter have to say and helping her choose what's right for her, which includes carrying to term as well as adoption as well as abortion, instead of trampling roughshod with preconceived attitudes like "I'll tell you what the only moral thing to do is!" over what she felt was best for herself and her fetus.

So kindly refrain, in this and future discussions, from remarks that imply that pro-choicers are eager for as many abortions to happen as possible. It's staggeringly dishonest.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:39 PM on April 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I see a real child that many people on this thread would have heartily recommended my daughter wash down a sink just so her plans would not have been disrupted.

I thought that was deleted. Please ignore it for the sake of not derailing us. It was an emotional outburst and is obviously hyperbolic. She is feeling frightened, or threatened, or is too close to the issue to remain in control of her amotions. To note that it is not relevent to the issue directly at hand is enough.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:25 PM on April 8, 2009


But St. Alia, as you have acknowledged, your daughter did have a choice, and made the choice that you feel was right and she feels was right, and so everything went well. Why do you need the government there to enforce that? She had her baby, and your family is happy. That's great - but not every family is like yours. The fetus is not a legal citizen - it has the potential to become one, but it is not a member of the USA yet. I understand your impulse to protect what you see as, in the simplest terms, good things, but you have to recognize that it is not your business when it happens outside your family.

Someone who believes that no animal should have to die may have stories about how much better life is when you give up meat, but it's possible you have thought about it and reached a different conclusion. THe government doesn't legislate on everything. Some issues are handled on a personal level, and some on a legal level. The requirement for legal protection is that we're talking about a separated individual human being, that is, developed to the point that it is capable of basic survival. If it is not, then removing it from the woman's body results in its natural death - so although the abortion doesn't make this distinction, and usually removes the fetus in a way which would destroy it, if they were very careful and did a surgery to just take it out of the uterus, it would die anyway. An abortion is a refusal to carry the fetus, which results in its death, rather than an active interest in killing the fetus - that's why viability is so central, and why men can't make the choice.

You've heard it before but it sounds so cliche you hardly hear it - but it really is about the woman's right to have control of her own body. Being pregnant can be great if it's what you're looking for, but if you land there by accident or coercion it can be terrible. That's why it needs to be an autonomous decision - like the one your daughter made.
posted by mdn at 9:44 PM on April 8, 2009


Well, I am emotional about this. Her Air Force recruiter tried to talk her into an abortion.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:35 AM on April 9, 2009


Her Air Force recruiter tried to talk her into an abortion.

Well, then, isn't it a good thing the laws in this country acknowledge her personal opinion on the matter may be different from her Air Force Recruiter's opinion?

And because of this, isn't it a good thing the laws in this country give her the individual right to make her own personal individual CHOICE about the matter?

Boy, it'd be a shame if the government had passed laws that hewed only to one religion's viewpoint on the matter, wouldn't it? Especially if those viewpoints were different from yours, eh? Then she could have been forced to do something she didn't believe, rather than someone just trying to talk her into it. Wow, who'd want their government to do something like pass a law that forced people to do something their religion said they didn't have to do?



....Wait.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:30 AM on April 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


Miko, I answered it the first time you asked. You aren't going to get anywhere with me by repeating it.

No, you didn't, St. Alia. It's a simple yes or no question, and you haven't given a yes or no - you gave a derail about murder and a derail about China.

So would you please do me the courtesy of answering the question of whether you think the government should be able to force your daughter to have an abortion? Yes, or no?
posted by Miko at 6:56 AM on April 9, 2009


an unborn baby

There is no such thing. Baby is what comes out of the womb. Until then it's a fetus. St. Alia is using sophistry instead of meaningful argument. She hopes to will her argument into existence by redefining words and concepts to fit her preconceptions. She slides meanings around like the devil citing scripture. Easy trick but useless in finding common ground. Y'all are just twirling around her twisted words.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:58 AM on April 9, 2009


And if you need any evidence that she totally disrespects your point of view, notice her severe straw-manning of it here:

Because I will continue to see an unborn child as a baby and you will continue to see an unborn child as disposable tissue.

Although Miko, fff, and others have been sincerely seeking a common understanding, she is not. She is arguing against the caricature in her head.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:05 AM on April 9, 2009


I understand that completely, and I certainly see all the flaws in St. Alia's argument, as do most people reading the thread, I'm sure. Still, I think she is somewhat engaged. I know it's very hard for her to imagine a different point of view or meet these sorts of challenging questions straight on, but since she's still around, I think she should be accountable for keeping up her half of the conversation and giving good faith responses. That's why I keep asking the same question. I'm sincerely interested in the "yes or no" response.

Back to my question, though. ..?
posted by Miko at 8:11 AM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is no such thing. Baby is what comes out of the womb. Until then it's a fetus.

But, see, MW -- those are the kind of black and white definitions that simply can't survive in a useful abortion debate, and are just the flip side of the coin to those who would say sperm + egg = human. For example: a pregnant woman will use the terms "fetus" and "baby" interchangeably, and if anything will lean towards the latter over the former. It's not like we throw fetus showers, you know?

Pretty much any reasonable person, or rather, any person who is even remotely pro-choice, will say that there's a sliding scale of viability, that as much as people like St. Alia would love to have everything thrown into easily identifiable buckets of understanding, the reality of the natural progression of life will not be so confined.

Which is why, I think, St. Alia is so comfortable with her anti-choice rhetoric -- it offers a safeharbor of easy designation: sperm + egg = human = deserving of full human rights, full-stop, even though the actual, you know, SCIENCE! behind the process is far, far more complex and nuanced.
posted by shiu mai baby at 8:26 AM on April 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's not like we throw fetus showers, you know?

In anticipation? No, I agree that we are not always rigid about the use of the terms, but in this context it is critical that serious discussants not twist meanings nor intentionally misrepresent the positions of the people to whom they are addressing their arguments if they want to be taken as serious discussants.

My point is that calling it an "unborn baby" and mischaracterizing a fetus as disposable tissue in the minds of pro-choice adherents doesn't indicate a willingness to explore the issue, but rather is proselytizing. This is a closed mind.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:45 AM on April 9, 2009


Well, I am emotional about this. Her Air Force recruiter tried to talk her into an abortion.

It seems like what you are upset about is the cultural shift more than the political details. Your daughter still had the freedom to do exactly what she wanted, and if she was sure about it, then she just had to tell the recruiter she had other plans. Perhaps your concern is that it would be better to be coerced to have a child than coerced to have an abortion, and that the cultural norm should go the other way? In all honesty, being less militantly anti-abortion would probably achieve that more easily. If the right to medical decisions weren't at risk, then people would be much less likely to give unsolicited advice on what is a personal decision. But because it's been politicized, some people become defensive and overly insistent on one way or the other being best in every scenario.

Like other legal but life and death choices - euthanizing pets, whether to go for last-ditch treatments - some people will voice opinions no matter what, but most people will only advise if asked, recognizing that it's complicated, they don't know the whole story, and you're a self-aware, ethical human being, too, who takes multiple factors into account in reaching a decision. Might not be the same decision everyone would make in the same situation: but then, we're never actually in the same situation. just similar enough to think we can understand.

It's not like we throw fetus showers, you know?

But when we have baby showers, we aren't buying things for the fetus - we give the mom things that are only going to be useful to the baby once it's born... since until then, all it needs is mom's organs. It doesn't need clothes and a bed and diapers and so on while it's in the uterus. Mom's body is the clothes and the bed and the diapers.

It is complicated because we start to anticipate the birth as soon as someone announces they're pregnant, and it's usually considered something to celebrate (we had a whole argument about that once) but as Mental Wimp points out, it's our excitement for what's coming that feeds it. A fetus that was never going to be born (whose entire natural life cycle was inside the womb) would not be desired. A baby whose entire natural life cycle was only 9 months would still probably have some followers (some people just really like babies, playing with dolls etc), but a fetus is really only wanted for what it will become later.
posted by mdn at 2:28 PM on April 9, 2009


I await to hear St. Alia explain the logical contradiction between wanting fewer abortions to happen in our society, yet not supporting those very things that would lead to fewer abortions.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:06 PM on April 9, 2009


Or maybe I'm not awaiting, but merely waiting.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:06 PM on April 9, 2009


Ah, here we have a prime example of idiotic religious interference that serves only to increase the number of abortions.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:55 PM on April 9, 2009


You're not gonna make the jump to a logical worldview this time, eh? Stay with the safety of what you believe is true, in spite of the evidence in front of you. Continue to reject a least-harms approach because to accept it would be to change your mind.
"...I wish, my dear Kepler, that we could have a good laugh together at the extraordinary stupidity of the mob. What do you think of the foremost philosophers of this University? In spite of my oft-repeated efforts and invitations, they have refused, with the obstinacy of a glutted adder, to look at the planets or Moon or my telescope."
--"Through which the satellites of Jupiter were visible", Galileo Galilei

"The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures."
--From the Catholic Church’s indictment of Galileo Galilei, 1633
I think that parallels the situation here.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:55 PM on April 9, 2009


I should mention I found thouse here.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:58 PM on April 9, 2009


but a fetus is really only wanted for what it will become later.

I see your point, mdn, and my fetus shower was a bad example. A better example would've been: when's the last time a pregnant lady asked you (the collective, not necessarily you, mdn) to feel her fetus kicking?

My point is that the ideas of pregnancy and the terms we use to describe them are mutable, and it doesn't serve anyone when we try to reduce them to facile yes/no, true/false definitions, because the process itself is anything but.
posted by shiu mai baby at 4:15 AM on April 10, 2009


My point is that the ideas of pregnancy and the terms we use to describe them are mutable, and it doesn't serve anyone when we try to reduce them to facile yes/no, true/false definitions, because the process itself is anything but.

Given your argument, you should be just as critical of the neophrase "unborn baby", because it substitutes for "fetus", the very precise word we could use, an awkward phrase we never do instead of, as you point out is common and natural, simply "baby". Why? To make rational argument? No, to proselytize. This is my point exactly.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:12 AM on April 10, 2009


My point is that the ideas of pregnancy and the terms we use to describe them are mutable, and it doesn't serve anyone when we try to reduce them to facile yes/no, true/false definitions, because the process itself is anything but.

sure, I wasn't trying to make it a yes/no answer on a personal level. My only interest in explicating above was that so far as government protection is concerned, we need a unified, separated individual. Citizens have to be recognizable as their own entities, and until viability the baby is not just dependent in external ways, but actually parasitic on the mother. So on a biological and therefore legal level, there is a reason to draw a line at a certain point - when the being is able to survive.

But on a personal level, obviously everyone will have their own definitions. A med student may well refer to "fetal movement" or something instead of "the baby kicking", but that really doesn't matter. I am perfectly fine with St Alia believing that there is a baby at the moment of conception. All I am suggesting is that there is not a protected citizen until viability, and therefore, what other mothers do up until that point is not a concern of anyone except that mother, and secondarily, her doctor, the father, and whoever else she wants to involve.
posted by mdn at 10:08 PM on April 10, 2009


there is not a protected citizen until viability,

But even more clearly, there is not a protected citizen until birth. Viability alone isn't sufficient qualification to be a protected citizen; it's impossible right now for such citizenship to exist before viability, but if a baby is born prematurely after the general point of viability and manages to survive, it takes on individual existence with individual rights. But what's important is not the viability itself but the physical transfer from dependence on the mother's organs to existence independent of her body. A fetus might become a citizen after viability, but it might not, for a variety of reasons natural, accidental, or human-caused. There is not a protected citizen until birth. Until that point, the pregnant woman's rights to health and private medical decisions still weigh more heavily than any state interest in the birth of a potential citizen.
posted by Miko at 8:22 AM on April 11, 2009


You bastards, I just catch up reading this thread and am ready to jump in and you call it quits?
posted by Reverend John at 10:10 AM on April 14, 2009


Hey, Reverend John, I think we're still hanging around. We just haven't heard from the main interlocutor in a while. Crik crik.
posted by Miko at 12:30 PM on April 14, 2009


I think it's kinda weird that St. Alia would say she thought we were having a good discussion, and then pretty much immediately drop out of said discussion.

But, hey, I think some progress was made. She's a lot less rigid in her worldview than she used to be. She now allows that there are some conditions where abortion is the better choice.

Baby steps all the way with this one.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:45 PM on April 14, 2009


Uh, no, I do not believe abortion is the better choice, and not sure where you get that from.

I believe in basic human rights. And if it's a human when it's born it cannot be anything else but a human while gestating. What gets destroyed in an abortion is a human being-albeit in an early stage of development-but a human nevertheless.


I don't know what else I could possibly say.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:53 PM on April 14, 2009


And if it's a human when it's born it cannot be anything else but a human while gestating. What gets destroyed in an abortion is a human being-albeit in an early stage of development-but a human nevertheless.

It's a human embryo (or zygote or fetus or whatever stage) because it's not a horse or a dog or a kangaroo embryo. But we're not really focused on whether it belongs to the human species and is a phenomenon of human reproduction - I think we all agree we're in the realm of human. What we don't agree is that we're in the realm of "person" or "protected citizen."
posted by Miko at 6:25 PM on April 14, 2009


I personally thought it was kind of significant that you stopped posting when we got to the realm of choice, which to me is the heart of the issue. Regardless of whether we disagree, I'm willing to defend your daughter's right to tell her Air Force recruiter that she's not going to have an abortion. Even though I can imagine a completely fair argument on the part of the government that someone who's signed a military service contract on the dotted line is obligated to serve and that pregnancy is prohibited (I'm not sure your daughter had signed yet, but you can imagine someone in this position might have). But I'd oppose the government's right to force her to undergo a procedure she doesn't want and to make a reproductive decision for her.

It sounds to me like you defend that right, too.

So I don't see where you see any grounds to prevent your daughter from making a different choice if, perhaps, she wanted to pursue the Air Force career more than she wanted to be a mother.

Or where you see the grounds to prevent my daughter from doing so.

Choice is choice. It works both ways. It seems to me that if you want your daughter to be able to make her reproductive choices in the face of a government that might have some claims on her, then you should want that for everyone. If you want an individual woman's decision to override that of someone outside the fact who wants something different for her, but you're only willing to defend it if they make the decision you like best, then you're being really hypocritical in this thread and in your whole stance. Because then this is always going to rest on whatever who's in power likes best. If you can imagine, as I can, having a government one day with the power to tell people in its military that they have to have an abortion to continue service - then you might want to reconsider your stance on choice.

You were hanging out in the conversation until we got here. I thought you might be thinking about it.
posted by Miko at 6:34 PM on April 14, 2009


Well, I thought by now you'd be tired of me repeating, like a broken record:

Abortion is murder.

I do not condone giving people a legal choice to murder. I don't much care if the victim is in a uterus or in an old age home or walking down a dark alley.

The government coerces me to keep my seat belt on in my car, so in some scenarios the government can and does have a say in my life. I'm sorry that you believe that an innocent fetus doesn't have the same right to legal protection as you do.

I believe that it does. Every one of us began as the joining of sperm to egg, dna knitted together into something unique to the universe.
We will never ever know what or who have lost down those clinic sinks, will we?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:54 PM on April 14, 2009


in some scenarios the government can and does have a say in my life. I'm sorry that you believe that an innocent fetus doesn't have the same right to legal protection as you do.

So it would be cool with you, then, if your daughter had enlisted and then been told to abort the baby, because in that scenario the government as her employer, to whom she's under contract, has a say in her life? I'm sorry you believe she shouldn't have the same rights as I do.

(Besides, the government doesn't actually coerce you to wear the seatbelt. It just imposes a penalty on you, in some states, if you aren't wearing a seatbelt.)

We will never ever know what or who have lost down those clinic sinks, will we?


We will never ever know what or who was lost when women who were otherwise developing along one direction were forced to become mothers. We know educations have been lost and families and relationships have been lost to that. I wonder if we have lost any cures for cancer or solutions to world hunger because women had to set career and education aside to bear children, or had to work harder in lousier jobs for less and couldn't achieve what they had the potential to do. Strikes me as a pretty big loss to the world. Heck, one of those women might have gone on to invent the perfect birth control that is easy to use, cheap, 100% effective, safe, discreet, and widely available.

But we'll never know if that woman had to drop out of pre-med.
posted by Miko at 7:22 PM on April 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


If early-term abortion is murder, then I guess you'd better be fighting to prosecute women who have abortions as murderers.

But…

If and I do mean IF bearing a child would kill a woman (I'm thinking of ectopic pregnancy for instance, or severe eclampsia before the age of viability ) I can see the sad need to abort.

So you can see a need to murder people?

You can't have it both ways. And in fact, you can't even have it the way you'd prefer it, because it just ain't gonna happen on this here earth.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:20 PM on April 14, 2009


Uh, no, I do not believe abortion is the better choice, and not sure where you get that from.

I get it from the bit I just quoted, where you say that you see where abortion is the better choice.

How do you reconcile your conflicting statements and views?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:23 PM on April 14, 2009


and then there's that whole weird idea of supporting your daughter in joining the military, which is all about going out and killing humans. especially so under the reign of the kinds of madmen you've supported.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:25 PM on April 14, 2009


So you can see a need to murder people?

Yeah, that is weird. Why, in this case, would you not kill the mother and save the baby?

I know, St. Alia, that you're saying you're avoiding the thread because you keep repeating yourself. But I think the problem is that that's exactly what you're doing - you keep repeating yourself rather than actually taking on any of these arguments and providing a counterargument. Repeat, repeat, repeat, but you haven't acknowledged the problems in your arguments, attempted to reconcile your inconsistencies, or indeed even addressed the bulk of what's been brought up in the last quarter of this thread.

I for one have pretty much taken your silence and repetition to mean that you're conceding defeat, because you haven't got any new points to make, can't come up with responses, and because your arguments aren't holding up.

That's the whole reason we haven't outlawed abortion in this country and aren't going to. Because the arguments aren't good enough.
posted by Miko at 8:30 PM on April 14, 2009


Sigh. Only three more days for us to solve the great abortion dilemma before the great seal on this thread closes forever. We can do it, right?
posted by shiu mai baby at 7:23 AM on April 15, 2009


Well, I think we've already solved the dilemma, and the solution is legal abortion with late-term restrictions while working on other aspects of the unwanted pregnancy problem. That some don't like the solution doesn't mean there's not a workable solution.
posted by Miko at 9:06 AM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I believe in basic human rights. And if it's a human when it's born it cannot be anything else but a human while gestating. What gets destroyed in an abortion is a human being-albeit in an early stage of development-but a human nevertheless.

I assume you consider a fertilized egg to be human. Is this correct? If so, could you elaborate on what makes it human? I would assert that our ability to think as humans is what makes us human. I would argue that a necessary, but probably not sufficient condition to be human would be the ability to experience sensations and form memories. However a single fertilized egg clearly doesn't have this ability.

Now, you may argue that this also excludes other people we consider humans, people with severe Alzheimer's disease, or other forms of severe brain damage. I might well agree with this in theory, however our ability to get inside the damaged mind of what was once a demonstrably human person is extremely limited and imperfect, and so in the interest of protecting people against mistaken diagnoses we generally do not stop considering a person human after they are born. However there is no chance for this mistake before the embryo has had a chance to develop even a single neuron, much less a functioning brain.

Now, the point at which an embryo or fetus develops the ability to form human thoughts, or whether that even happens before birth is an open question, and one which I don't feel qualified to answer myself. But it is also clear to me, even with my limited understanding, that this doesn't occur until some time significantly after conception.

If you have some other criteria for what makes us human, I'd be interested in it. But whatever criteria you propose I'd ask why you chose it, why it is essential to humanity, and if it is a criteria that someone who doesn't share your religious views would accept.
posted by Reverend John at 9:18 AM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't speak for St. Alia, Reverend John, but if I were to take a guess on her response, I'd say she's hanging her hat on the "human = complete set of human DNA" peg. Regardless, I'm curious to see if she pops up again to confirm, deny, or elaborate on that theorem.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:33 AM on April 15, 2009


I'd say she's hanging her hat on the "human = complete set of human DNA" peg

Yeah, and I agree with that - human embroyos are human - they're just not 'people' in any meaningful sense.

The theory-of-mind argument troubles me because it really is a slippery slope. There's no way to test for thought, so it's not a pragmatic solution to determine "humanness." And, as you say, a lot of people might fail the test even though they are legitimately persons and protected citizens.

I think it's much easier to argue that humans at whatever stage of development don't have any right to never ever die no matter what. Sometimes people choose euthansia or their doctors or families decide to withold lifesaving treatments. There are some instances in which that choice is really merciful, definitely the better choice - and in those cases we're talking about full legal persons with an independent existence, a personal history, and relationships in the world. And there are instances in which ending the development of a human embryo or fetus is the better choice, too, and they don't even have those qualities of personhood.
posted by Miko at 10:53 AM on April 15, 2009


This has been a really interesting thread. I've been reading it closely.

St. Alia, I appreciate you sticking around for the conversation. I think this one has gone much better than most mefi threads that end up talking about abortion.

My comment has been touched on a number of times in this thread, particularly by five fresh fish. But I feel the need to ask a question again.

OK, so, given these points
- The vast majority of people want to reduce the number of abortions (reasons varied and irrelevant)
- Societies that have good access to a variety of contraception options, abortion, and comprehensive sex education have lower abortion rates
- Making abortion illegal increases the numbers of women harmed trying to obtain abortions

It still baffles me why you would want to make abortion illegal as well as supporting measures that limit contraception education and access. The net result is a similar number of aborted fetuses (or dead babies, if you prefer) and an increased number of harmed women.

From reading this thread, it seems that one answer you might give is that it isn't really about the abortions, it's about the fact that a country that legalises abortion is a country of sin, and that's what you are really worried about. But couldn't you just wait for God to sort all that out (because he's the ultimate judge, right? It's not really up to you to judge the other people?) and also it's not really your business what other people do?

I suspect your answer to *that* would be something along the lines of "abortion is murder" and concern for the dead babies. So then it IS about the abortions, so why not support making abortion legal and safe and increasing contraception awareness and education? Thus reducing the numbers of dead babies?!

It's so circular, it hurts my mind. I'm not trying to put words into your mouth, St. Alia, I am really trying to understand. To my secular mind it really seems like the ultimate win would be fewer aborted fetuses and let God sort any sinners out.
posted by gaspode at 11:55 AM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Miko,

I agree that basing the definition of personhood on the ability to think can present some tricky problems, but I don't think they're insurmountable. While there are certainly gray areas where one can't prove the absence of thought, there are others where I believe its pretty clear that the necessary conditions for thought to occur haven't been fulfilled. A simple fertilized egg is one. My goal is not so much to precisely determine the point at which personhood occurs as to establish the existence of the point as being post-conception. I would agree that the line should be drawn conservatively, however as some posters upthread have suggested, even a conservatively drawn line would in all likelihood allow abortions until well into the second trimester.

I also think such an argument shouldn't be used to take away personhood, at least no more than we already do. As EmpressCallipygos pointed out, we do use this criteria in certain circumstances. In any case, though, such a criteria should be used carefully. This does not mean we should never use it at all, though.

I don't think my argument is really at odds with your argument in any case. As you point out, there might be times when one might think ending a life would be the better choice, even if that life belonged to a fully realized person. I'm merely saying there is a point prior to which it can't even be said that a person exists to consider the rights of. After all, the examples you cite, of euthanasia or the deliberate withholding of reasonable lifesaving medical treatment are not choices one would make for matters of mere convenience. If this is the only argument you're making for abortion I think a woman seeking one would have to show that either she or her baby, or both, would suffer terribly and hopelessly before an abortion was granted.

As for defining personhood as having a complete set of dna, I'd ask again why that is essential to humanity. Is there something inherently special about a set of dna? If there is, what is it? A living, thinking person has an intrinsic value, but the value of a set of dna is only that it might eventually produce a living, thinking person. It doesn't have value in and of itself.
posted by Reverend John at 2:06 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I believe in basic human rights. And if it's a human when it's born it cannot be anything else but a human while gestating. What gets destroyed in an abortion is a human being-albeit in an early stage of development-but a human nevertheless.

Your second claim is incorrect - if it's human when it's born it cannot be anything less than human while gestating? In fact, it can be a gestating human. There is a difference between the acorn and the tree, the blueprint and the building - human rights are not based on DNA, or our fingerprints would have rights.

Human rights are based on capacities we can exercise, without harming others. Our most basic rights are the rights to direct our own lives, to live as we wish to live, rather than to have our lives directed by others, to be enslaved or oppressed or abused. But a fetus is not existent enough to know if it is being treated unfairly (and anyway it will in most cases only undergo negative treatment secondarily, through abuse of the body of the mother). More important, the fetus has no capacity at all for self-direction. This means the notion of "rights" is misplaced.

It is complicated enough to endow children and developmentally disabled people with full rights, when they often need some direction from others. This is where the notion of "guardianship" comes in, and why we understand the legal rights of some people to technically be limited. Children etc are capable of living (in the basic sense, breathing, etc) on their own, so they get that right on their own. Rights to property, voting, etc they are considered not capable of handling and so they do not get.

Guess what? Fetuses aren't capable of living on their own. Hence, they don't get that right. END OF STORY.

Fetuses rely on a life-support system, which also happens to be a life-development system, which also happens to be a living person with her own life. If that life-support/development system (mom) does not want to take on the job, the fetus will not get supported/developed. You cannot really argue for a "right" to life; you could argue for protection as a class, but then you interfere with the woman's right to her body. But to argue for a right there misunderstands what a right is - the fetus cannot exercise this right, does not understand it and has no capacity with regard to it.
posted by mdn at 2:44 PM on April 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'd say she's hanging her hat on the "human = complete set of human DNA" peg.

Outside of gametes, every cell in the human body meets this description. The argument just doesn't hold up in the face modern techology, especially the ability to take DNA from any cell in the body and create a human being out of it. It is a fundamental error. If you try to escape it by saying that it's okay to amputate a diseased finger, for example, because there are plenty of other cells with the identical DNA, then you are saying it's okay to murder one identical twin (but not both). This is why the antiabortionists ineluctably escape to the mysticism of a magic guy in the sky controlling certain behaviors like sexual reproduction.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:14 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Outside of gametes, every cell in the human body meets this description.

Oops, not red blood cells. And there may be others I'm not aware of.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:17 PM on April 15, 2009


Inside a gamete, it's too dark to read!
posted by cortex at 3:21 PM on April 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm merely saying there is a point prior to which it can't even be said that a person exists to consider the rights of.

Yes. Birth.
posted by Miko at 3:31 PM on April 15, 2009


It's so circular, it hurts my mind. I'm not trying to put words into your mouth, St. Alia, I am really trying to understand. To my secular mind it really seems like the ultimate win would be fewer aborted fetuses and let God sort any sinners out.

Well, that's an honest question. My answer is you can't fix sin by committing a different sin.

Miko upthread said this:

We will never ever know what or who was lost when women who were otherwise developing along one direction were forced to become mothers. We know educations have been lost and families and relationships have been lost to that. I wonder if we have lost any cures for cancer or solutions to world hunger because women had to set career and education aside to bear children, or had to work harder in lousier jobs for less and couldn't achieve what they had the potential to do. Strikes me as a pretty big loss to the world. Heck, one of those women might have gone on to invent the perfect birth control that is easy to use, cheap, 100% effective, safe, discreet, and widely available.

Great big hairy disgusting straw man. Because we know that just as soon as we gals give birth our brains fall out, our shoes fall off and we are chained to a kitchen sink, right?

Let me tell you something-as a mother, if I never ever did one other single thing in my life, my raising those human beings was important enough to give up every single dream I might have had. Only, guess what-you can have kids and dreams too. Just giving birth in itself does not rob you of the opportunity to do any of the things you mention.

But, let's say it does affect one's plans, because, yes it does. Leaving aside the foolishness of engaging in activity that could result in a baby if having one is unwise....remember the old saw that "man makes plans and God laughs..." ? There is truth to that. We humans have less control over our own destinies than we'd like to think. Sometimes we think we need to go down one road....and life gently or violently sends us down another pathway. Many times unexpected joys and blessings lie down those roads...sometimes not without trials and difficulties. I have found in fifty years of living that those trials and difficulties are gifts in rather unattractive packaging-molding and shaping me in ways that my own plans would never have achieved.

One thing is for sure. I did not have to to look back on my life knowing I robbed someone else of the simple joy of seeing one sunrise just so I could do what I wanted to do. Life is not about us doing what we want to do. In that path lies anarchy and selfcenteredness. The universe does not revolve around any of us as individuals, and it is how we treat the weakest and the most vulnerable around us that our measure will be taken.

One day I believe I will stand before my Saviour and Judge. I am grateful I don't have to look into His eyes and tell Him I killed one of His lambs.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:21 PM on April 15, 2009


My answer is you can't fix sin by committing a different sin.

But you are committing the sin of condoning more abortions. Do you think the sin of condoning more is less than or better than the sin of reducing them?

Great big hairy disgusting straw man. Because we know that just as soon as we gals give birth our brains fall out, our shoes fall off and we are chained to a kitchen sink, right?

Of course not, but surely you're in a position to know exactly what women really do give up. It can be rationalized, but not denied.

No, your dreams don't have to die, but the lives of many women were significantly and irrevocably altered, sometimes in negative ways that represent a loss to the world, by unplanned motherhood. It's not a straw man to note that children must be provided for with time, care, and money, and that our safety net for doing so with public funds is lousy - so someone suddenly facing motherhood faces a drastic lifestyle change that often means dropping out of school, taking jobs that aren't as good as ones they were headed for, moving in with people they wouldn't have made the free choice to move in with outside this circumstance, going through physical experiences that interfere with work/study, making changes in plans about where to work, study, and live because there will be a young person to take care of, losing the bulk of household income to providing for the baby. These aren't straw men, they're real consequences that change lives. They can result in poverty (sometimes generational poverty), lost potential, depression, increased demand on already-strained services, drain on family resources, abuse, bad marriages, dependency, and more.

I understand the idea "man plans, God laughs," and it's a nice saying; life doesn't always go as we planned. But to me, there's nothing about that fact that precludes people taking action to control their lives in the way they can control. We can control whether we're pregnant - so even if we didn't control whether or not there was a conception, we control that part of the plan. To me, not having babies when you are not ready to is part of that.

I'm not so quick to write off women's lives and potential. I think control over reproduction has fueled the growth of women in professions and allowed us the freedom to achieve our dreams. It's possible to manage very well with an unplanned pregnancy. It's also possible that an unplanned pregnancy means the end of something much greater that a woman might have done with her life. Believe me, I respect the choice of motherhood. But it's a woman's decision alone to determine whether her life plan includes motherhood.

If there is some idea that we are "robbing people of the joy of seeing a sunrise" or some other such Hallmark sentiment, where does the logic of that stop? What about all the conceived children you flushed down the toilet without knowing it, natural results of the 1 in 4 pregnancies that become miscarriages? What about the children you didn't conceive at all because you were too focused on your own goals and avoided sex or used birth control? How many of them were denied existence - souls lined up in the heavenly chute that didn't get a zygote to go into? What about the ones whose gestation began but were terminated within hours because of hormonal birth control? What about those who are being aborted right now because you are not willing to do a single thing to work to reduce abortion? Do you wake up at night worrying about the sunrises they will never see?

Pregnancies can end. No one having an abortion has robbed a person of an experience, because no person has come into being. The only person in the scenario is the adult who is working to live a life. You may be willing to feel you are pawn in a great game of God's, but you can't require someone else to feel the same. There's no logic underlying this; it's just a feeling that you have. Other people feel that they should be able to exercise their rights to determine whether or not they can sustain a pregnancy and/or parenthood.

We do control reproduction. There's no reason we have to act like we have no power over it, or that our desires should come second to some process of cell division. Over the past century, we have managed to gain control over the main issue that determined the course of women's lives for the entirety of existence. That has improved life on earth for all people. I, for one, value the imminent contributions of women. I don't think they're worthless, and I honor their choices. Parenthood is one plan that women make -- not God.
posted by Miko at 8:09 PM on April 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am grateful I don't have to look into His eyes and tell Him I killed one of His lambs.

Sure you will. This is where that difficulty of opposing measures to reduce unwanted pregnancy and abortion rates comes in. You actually are directly responsible for that stance, in your view.
posted by Miko at 8:11 PM on April 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


My answer is you can't fix sin by committing a different sin.

That is a thoughtless answer.

The scenario posed to you is thus:
- The vast majority of people want to reduce the number of abortions (reasons varied and irrelevant)
- Societies that have good access to a variety of contraception options, abortion, and comprehensive sex education have lower abortion rates
- Making abortion illegal increases the numbers of women harmed trying to obtain abortions
And with your answer, you state that the very things that reduce the abortion rate are, because they are sinful, just as bad as abortion and thus must be rejected, thus keeping the abortion rate as high as possible.

Your moral system is self-contradictory and maximizes harm. When you stand before your Saviour and Judge, how will you ever explain yourself? God's going to face-palm himself and shake his head: you completely missed His point.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:15 PM on April 15, 2009


I just got a call from my daughter. She is only about 23 weeks along and is headed to the hospital tonight as she is having painful contractions.


I'm bowing out of this thread, and I am sure you can understand why.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:24 PM on April 15, 2009


Well, I hope it is nothing serious. I'm not sure why you assume this issue tonight means you have to leave the conversation for the next few days, because it could turn out to be all right, which I hope it does. So maybe we'll see you back and active before the thread expires; I certainly hope so.

I look forward to picking this up where we left off the next time this topic comes up and you decide to engage in the discussion. I think we have at the very least arrived at the central contradictions you are dealing with in your philosophies surrounding abortion, St. Alia. I know that if you find a way to resolve those you would be relieved and we would be interested.
posted by Miko at 8:32 PM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


She is only about 23 weeks along

Also, perfect window for Braxton-Hicks contractions, so here's hoping that's what it is.
posted by Miko at 8:36 PM on April 15, 2009


Well, that's an honest question. My answer is you can't fix sin by committing a different sin.

OK, so you haven't fixed sin. You're swapping one sin for another. But you're reducing abortions, so isn't that a net win?
posted by gaspode at 8:42 PM on April 15, 2009


isn't that a net win?

Not only a win - but in the Judgment Day scenario, God says "I gave you two options, one of which caused fewer abortions and women's deaths and one of which caused more of both. Why did you choose to kill more of my lambs?"

I wouldn't use this terminology, but this is the problem in the stance.
posted by Miko at 8:49 PM on April 15, 2009


Here's hoping your kid and prospective grandkid come through it all right. Fingers crossed, etc. Please MeMail the few of us who've stuck through this conversation, with news of the situation once you've made it back to MeFi, okay? Thanks.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:37 PM on April 15, 2009


(turns out it was probably "just" a kidney stone. Gave us quite a scare there. She's feeling better today...)

But maybe I need to be done here. I feel like we are arguing past each other.

And even if, say, I did support passing out condoms and making sure every person was an expert on birth control, I know for a fact that unwanted pregnancies would still occur because no method is foolproof. Years ago a tech performed my ultrasound when I was pregnant with one of my kids-she was 8 months pregnant and told me she'd become that way on the Pill. So, no, that's not really a way to have fewer abortions.

The way to have fewer abortions is to not have sex unless you are in a position to care for any babies may result, and to give birth to the ones that do. And to realize that we are not intended to have veto power over the life of another.

No matter how small.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:51 PM on April 16, 2009


I feel like we are arguing past each other.

I don't agree. "Arguing past each other" means that two parties are making different points, and neither party is listening to and responding to the other's points. What's been happening here is that others have been making points, but you haven't responded to the great majority of them, even though you have been carefully listened to as evidence by the thought put into the responses. I'm afraid if anyone's "talking past" it's just you - not "each other."

ven if, say, I did support passing out condoms and making sure every person was an expert on birth control, I know for a fact that unwanted pregnancies would still occur because no method is foolproof.

We've been over that, and the fact that we all agree that no method is foolproof is a really good argument for legal abortion. However we know that the more birth control is used, the fewer unwanted pregnancies and abortions there are. Got that part?

The way to have fewer abortions is to not have sex unless you are in a position to care for any babies may result, and to give birth to the ones that do.

That's one way, but we also know that no matter what we preach, people do have sex and will have sex and many people don't attach your moral beliefs to it. Some people never want to have children - do you think they should never have sex? Their whole lives? And we know that young people will have sex in some numbers no matter what we tell them, and they're often not in a position to be parents. So we know this happens - it's reality. Bringing us back to, as the last few people have been saying really emphatically:

We know that
- The vast majority of people want to reduce the number of abortions (reasons varied and irrelevant)
- Societies that have good access to a variety of contraception options, abortion, and comprehensive sex education have lower abortion rates
- Making abortion illegal increases the numbers of women harmed trying to obtain abortions

No one is "talking past you" by repeating that. We're still waiting for an indication that you've read it, thought about and have a cogent response to why you still prefer more deaths from abortion than fewer.

So please try talking to that rather than past it once again. I assure you we are all ears for the response that makes your position make sense.
posted by Miko at 7:16 PM on April 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


And even if, say, I did support passing out condoms and making sure every person was an expert on birth control, I know for a fact that unwanted pregnancies would still occur because no method is foolproof.

Yes but there would be fewer abortions.

Surely it is better to hand out condoms than to have abortions.

If you disagree with that, then you condone having more abortions instead of fewer.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:37 PM on April 16, 2009


I think I've got the problem in focus now.

The difficulty is that you can't have both a repressive sexual morality and a low abortion rate.

But St. Alia, you want to have both.

You can't have both at once, so, unbelievably, you're choosing to keep the repressive sexual morality rather than have a lower abortion rate.

Which is really hard to square with statements about protecting babies.
posted by Miko at 9:11 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unless you're like the Duggans, believing that God wants you to procreate as much as humanly possible.

Believe it or not, but if we all behaved like the Duggans, in a mere three generations we'd spawn some 303 824 640 x 18 + ((303 824 640 x 18) x 18) + (((303 824 640 x 18) x 18) x 18) children = 30 199 820 340 000 people in the USA! It's just 105 318 times the current population! Only 4 712 time the current population of the earth!

Or, you know, we could just hand out condoms.

That's surely less sinful than 30 197 820 300 000 abortions.

303 824 640 = population USA
18 = Duggan children
30 199 820 340 000 = heaven has run out of souls, earth is populated by zombies
30 197 820 340 000 = abortions required to maintain carrying capacity of earth
When scientists say that the carrying capacity of the Earth is 2 billion, they are not forgetting that we have 6 billion already. What they are saying is, that if you add up all the supplies in the world, and divide them up according to the amount that a typical American uses, then there is only enough for 2 billion people.
Unless you want to live like a third-worlder, in which case we can actually fit all the Duggans in plus our current population. We all die the next cycle, though, as we'll exceed the carrying capacity completely and fatally.

A carrying capacity of two billion. Four billion less than we currently have. If we severely cut back on our energy demands (ie. reduce our standard of living by a very large amount, such that even St. Alia would feel she's led a privileged life), we can maintain our current global population, I suppose. This mandates a two-children-only policy: one-to-one replacement of each death with a single birth. And contraceptives sometimes fail. It's chastity, abortion, or extinction in St. Alia's future.

posted by five fresh fish at 11:00 PM on April 16, 2009


I think this must be where the idea of praying for God to "change people's hearts" comes in.

Presumably, he would change people's hearts so that they no longer want to have sex. However, I am not too optimistic that that's going to work for God, since in the 5000 or 2000 years or however long you want to give his current strategy, we have not seen people stop wanting to have sex. Instead, we see that they have found ways to have more sex, and to separate sex from resulting in birth.

And ironically, we know this isn't because these people aren't listening to God's will - because you see in that Red Sex, Blue Sex article I linked that teenagers who have conservative religious beliefs are actually having more sex, and getting pregnant more often, than teenagers who have more liberal beliefs about sex. So even though their hearts have already been changed, they're still getting it on willy-nilly. And many of them will have abortions.

What a nutty, wishful-thinking approach this is. It really is a weird thing to set yourself up as responsible for, St. Alia, if you really claim to care about children rather than about women behaving themselves.
posted by Miko at 7:48 AM on April 17, 2009


Proposition:
  God punishes and rewards nations for the decisions they make.

Fact:
  Nations with better access to education, contraceptives, and abortion have lower abortion rates.

Conclusion:
  God is rewarding those countries for the decisions they have made.
  God is punishing the USA for its poor St. Alia-like decisions.

St. Alia, I can only see contradiction and confusion in the statements you've made. Please, please: explain how you get it all to jive in the face of fact and logic?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:42 PM on April 17, 2009


I personally care about obeying God. I am not responsible for people who wish not to.

That's the bottom line.

What that means, then, is I don't have an abortion, that when I go to a ballot box I don't vote for a proabortion candidate, that I conduct myself with chastity and morality, and that again, if I go into a ballot box I vote my conscience.

So in one sense, no, I am not telling you you cannot have an abortion. If people who want them outnumber people like me at the ballot box, then they will be legal. If on the other hand people start realizing that killing unborn babies is a wrong and an evil thing to do, and they decide to vote according to that new conviction, and they start, more importantly, to ACT according to that conviction, then there will be fewer abortions.

I'm content to let God sort it out.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:44 PM on April 17, 2009


You can not be acting with morality when you consciously choose to make your vote a single-issue decision, and you very much can not be acting with morality when your vote on that issue is factually proven to increase harm in society.

You can not be obeying God when you act in such a manner. Can not. God is not single-issue. God does not desire increased harm. God does not desire decreased choice: he's the one that gave us choice in the first place: he wants us to have to choose.

I can not understand how you manage to keep your deeply conflicted ideas from annihilating one another. It must take immense effort to remain in such a state.

May your God have mercy on your for the mistake you are making.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:18 PM on April 17, 2009


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