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contraception riles up pro life NRLC
August 3, 2009 10:57 AM   Subscribe

William Saletan has been writing about abortion for a while. In Slate he recently discussed the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion, and Supporting Parents Act, and some hard line pro-life groups resistance to this bill. Doug Johnson, the National Right to Life Commitee's legislative director responds stating that the bill is a "prop in a political charade" to "provide camouflage for pro-abortion politicians". Saletan tears holes in Johnson's stated objections, calling out the NRLF's unstated objection to contraception.
posted by garlic (260 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Irresistable Force, meet Unmovable Object. You two should get along great.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:02 AM on August 3, 2009


There's no inconsistency, here, no surprises: the anti-choice crowd just don't want women to control their own lives.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:03 AM on August 3, 2009 [18 favorites]


With a name like "Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion, and Supporting Parents Act", who could possibly be against it?

/Patriot Act
posted by jsonic at 11:05 AM on August 3, 2009


/Civil Rights Act
posted by Avenger at 11:14 AM on August 3, 2009


Pro-life douchebag is a liar. N@11.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:15 AM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't always agree with Saletan, but he's an excellent writer on women's-health issues.

But what Blazecock said. Everybody already knows this already, except for people who are unable to believe it. To some small degree, blame can be placed on a disconnect between the higher echelons of pro-life organizations and the membership. To a much larger degree, though, blame can be placed on a disconnect between anti-contraception pro-lifers and reality.
posted by box at 11:18 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


What? Did you really think people who are against abortion want there to be less abortions? I've got a bridge I can sell you.
posted by ND¢ at 11:21 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Apparently, abortion is becoming a potential game-killer in the healthcare debate. Apparently, any insurer who receives any sort of government money via any of the currently proposed payment schemes, would run afoul of current legislation that forbids government money to be distributed to any organization who performs or funds abortion services. This is being seen as including insurance companies. This would have the effect of forcing insurers to no longer cover abortions in their policies.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:24 AM on August 3, 2009


the anti-choice crowd just don't want women to control their own lives

Or maybe they simply think that unborn children deserve rights too. But that makes it harder to hate pro-lifer's, so you decide.
posted by jsonic at 11:28 AM on August 3, 2009


Indeed, no surprises.

There's often a misconception on the side of rationality that the other side must be accessible to its arguments simply because of the rational nature of their arguments. The core of the pro-life movement is not interested in reducing abortions, only in banning them. And since this position emerges from certain moral and usually religious backgrounds they're generally also hostile to ideas such as sex ed and promotion of the use of contraceptives. To them that is not how people should be living their lives.
To that group of people any reduction in the number of abortions because of sane and rational approaches like the law mentioned in the FPP would potentially lend increased legitimacy to the those still being carried out. But to many pro-lifers all abortions are an affront.
To them women's rights are a nicety that can be granted as long as it doesn't affect anything else they believe in. When there's a conflict with their beliefs that's what's going out the window first.
Which is ironic seeing how often pro-lifers belong to the same conservative segment of society whose eyes will well up during patriotic speeches about freedom and 'merica.
Free as long as you agree with their view of things.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:30 AM on August 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


Or maybe they simply think that unborn children deserve rights too.

If that premise were true, the anti-choice crowd wouldn't object to contraception funding and distribution. No, in the end, it is really about controlling women.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:33 AM on August 3, 2009 [31 favorites]


Or maybe they simply think that unborn children deserve rights too. But that makes it harder to hate pro-lifer's, so you decide.

That makes it harder to hate pro-lifers, or it makes it easier to tell when the same exact talking points are being dragged out by the pro-lifers ad infinitum? You decide.
posted by blucevalo at 11:33 AM on August 3, 2009


Or maybe they simply think that unborn children deserve rights too.

Well, the stuff they're complaining about has nothing to do with unborn children, but rather with preventing fertilization in the first place. Which they say is fine by them, except that it's not, except that it's something they're neutral on, except they'll flunk you on their report card if you vote for things which support contraception, except really abortion is what they're concerned about, except maybe that's not really the platform...

So, really, you've just tossed a red herring out there. Contraception isn't abortion, and this article was about anti-abortion groups' positions on contraception.
posted by ubernostrum at 11:35 AM on August 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


Or maybe they simply think that unborn children deserve rights too.

So what's the problem with contraception, then? Or good, science-based sex education? Both of those things reduce unwanted pregnancies, which in turn reduces the need for abortions.

But I don't really expect an answer.
posted by rtha at 11:37 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


If that premise were true, the anti-choice crowd wouldn't object to contraception funding and distribution.

False dilemma.
posted by jsonic at 11:38 AM on August 3, 2009


Did you read the fucking article, jsonic?
posted by notsnot at 11:42 AM on August 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


But that makes it harder to hate pro-lifer's, so you decide.

Disagreeing with somebody is not the same thing as hating them, and clarifying somebody's agenda based on their behavior isn't hate either. I am sure many in the rank-and-file pro-life movement just want to protect zygotes, and believe that a woman does not have a right to self-detemination about her body the moment she becomes preganant, because, apparently, God has already placed a soul in the still-developing fetus, or whatever; the fact is, the actual politicians and leaders of the anti-choice movement have consistently promoted legislation that does nothing to reduce the need for abortions, but instead seeks to punish women for having sex, and you'll hear that language of punishment reflected in quite a lot of pro-life dialogue, such as the near-universally persuasive sense that women are somebody refusing to take responsibility for their preganancy when they choose to have an abortion. The truth is, they are taking responsibility, but simply in a manner that pro-lifers don't like. The way it is phrased, a baby acts as some sort of deserved punishment for having had the temerity to engage in bahvior that might lead to pregancy.

You can reduce it down to people just wanting to protect itty bitty babies inside their mother's bellies and insist that pro-choicers hate people who are opposed to abortion if you like, but I have yet to hear of an anti-choice activist being gunned down outside their place of business, or of a pro-choicer forcing an pro-life woman to have an abortion against their will. It strikes me that to argue anything other than that people who are opposed to choice are somehow the victims of hateful pro-choice activism is disingenuous at best, and clinically insane project at worst.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:42 AM on August 3, 2009 [36 favorites]


Or maybe they simply think that unborn children deserve rights too.

Seems like a good time to review this chart.
posted by lalex at 11:43 AM on August 3, 2009 [20 favorites]


Wow, lotta typos. Well, I made my point, anyway.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:44 AM on August 3, 2009


jsonic: "Or maybe they simply think that unborn children deserve rights too. But that makes it harder to hate pro-lifer's, so you decide."

Just for fun, please, name a single major pro-life group that works to prevent of abortion through contraception.
posted by mullingitover at 11:45 AM on August 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Double.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:45 AM on August 3, 2009


Clincally insane projection. Ugh. Must choose right words to make point.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:46 AM on August 3, 2009


False dilemma.

Um...no. It's exactly the dilemma/apparent disconnect being discussed. RTFA.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:49 AM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


False dilemma.

I'm sorry, but you can't throw that out there unless you know what it means.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:51 AM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


That is not how the issue is sold, though. Let's look through the thicket of "ABORTION is MURDER" signs and the bumper stickers with "She's a Child Not a Choice!" to see what is going on:

First off, you've got the folks who think that every form of contraception is equivalent to booting a fertilized egg. Now, this isn't true, but think about that feedback loop you've got going on with defunding sex ed and contentious science programs in schools. This isn't an argument you'll hear a lot about, but it does crop up.

The second, far larger group uses the "well why should we pay for that?" defense. My hard-earned tax dollars blah blah blah.

Now, the net effect is that it sounds like "we should punish people for having sex with the consequence of babies" (leaving many to wonder precisely just how "precious" are these infants to these folks, anyway?) — but it is never sold as such.

I sometimes desperately wish for telepathy, even if only for a day, because I would genuinely like to know what proportions of the pro-lifers are somehow blind to the idea that their combination of stances "just happen" to mean "oh yeah women's bodies are totally the Lord's playground," which have it compartmentalized off in some kind of doublespeak, and how many are simply sly hypocrites.
posted by adipocere at 11:52 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have a hard time giving rights to a parasite until it can exist outside the womb. I also think the line between living and not living is pretty blurry, and I also think nobody should be forced to have a child they don't want. In fact, I'd say it's worse if an unplanned fetus survived and had a shit life somewhere rather than being aborted and the mother spared having hardship on top of hardship if she is in a situation where she cannot conceivably care for a child, either because she's not ready for one financially and emotionally and because she's not in a place in her life where she WANTS one or if, say, she's poor and can't afford to feed the thing.

Biologically, fertilization means nothing. Dozens of zygotes don't develop because they just don't implant. Pregnancy only starts when a zygote implants in the uterine wall.

Pro-lifers, I find, stop caring about human life when it's a female past the age of, say, 12. Among other cases.

Whether fetuses are human or not aside, jsonic, no, it is very much NOT a false dilemma. If they want to prevent abortions, they can go a long way toward their desired goal by funding contraception. Condoms prevent eggs from even being FERTILIZED. Hormonal contraceptives prevent eggs from being released. If they prevent fertilization, which prevents unwanted children, I don't understand why pro-lifers aren't aggressively funding contraception. Explain that to me, prolifetards.
posted by kldickson at 11:52 AM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


If that premise were true, the anti-choice crowd wouldn't object to contraception funding and distribution. No, in the end, it is really about controlling women.

Actually, there is a lot of confusion in pro-life circles about the precise mechanisms OF various kinds of contraception, and this confusion can indeed lead to what sounds like contradictory ideas.

To wit: there is a lot of confusion when it comes to oral contraceptives, particularly in getting them confused with "morning after" pills. The way the morning-after pill works is that it prevents implantation. Some people believe that life starts at conception, and that conception starts when sperm meets egg. However, since it often can sometimes take a day or two for the fertilized egg to implant, if you believe that the fertilized egg is life, but then prevent it from implanting, that is tanamount to abortion right there. So, the morning after pill is an abortificant.

Now -- this is also how some people believe that NORMAL oral contraceptives also work -- oral contraceptives work by preventing ovulation, but some people believe it prevents IMPLANTATION, just like the morning-after pills do. The fact that morning-after pills were originally just multiple-strength doses of different oral contraceptives gives this garbled theory a little credit. So some believe that oral contraceptives are ALSO abortificants. And THAT is why in that case, they are opposed to contraception as well.

I realize that this completely overlooks barrier methods of contraception -- condoms, diaphragms, etc. -- but the only theory I have about that is that....maybe those who oppose contraception are stuck in the early 1970's when The Pill was all the rage and they think that's all anyone uses?

Yes, I also know that there are those who believe any form of contraception is interfering with God's plan as well. In my experience, though, the ones who talk most loudly against contraception are the ones who are also confused about how oral contraceptives work anyway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:53 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


And pro-lifers must really hate kids if they want to use babies as a punishment for their mothers having sex. What kid wants to be told that 'hey, you're a punishment for your mother!'?
posted by kldickson at 11:54 AM on August 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Or maybe they simply think that unborn children deserve rights too.

This is not exactly correct. They believe that unborn fetuses have the unique right to access to a person's body for sustenance - rights that no other humans currently claim.

Do tapeworms have the right to exist in our stomachs?
posted by muddgirl at 11:56 AM on August 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


I would suggest that using phrases like "prolifetards" simply assists in pro-lifers seeing themselves as some victimized and despised minority. It is very likely they don't actually need any help in developing that sort of persecution complex, but it reinforces it, although I do understand and appreciate the anger behind the sentiment.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:56 AM on August 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


Do tapeworms have the right to exist in our stomachs?

It's an interesting discussion, but one mostly unrelated to the hypocrisy about opposition to contraception and adoption outlined in Saletan's article.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:59 AM on August 3, 2009


Ugh, I used "stomach" the way a 5-year-old would. I meant "intestine" of course.
posted by muddgirl at 11:59 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would suggest that using phrases like "prolifetards" simply assists in pro-lifers seeing themselves as some victimized and despised minority

Well, I do despise them, so there's that.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:02 PM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Astro Zombie, to be perfectly precise, they have proven themselves to be quite retarded when it comes to reproduction and the impact of various process on society.
posted by kldickson at 12:06 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


ProcessES.
posted by kldickson at 12:06 PM on August 3, 2009


They do seem a bit thick sometimes, I'll grant you that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:08 PM on August 3, 2009


It's an interesting discussion, but one mostly unrelated to the hypocrisy about opposition to contraception and adoption outlined in Saletan's article.

Of course. But jsonic started it. :)

I don't usually find myself in agreement with Saletan. I often find him to be rather blind to his own privilege. But this article was a thorough take down using evidence and common sense. I like it very much.
posted by muddgirl at 12:10 PM on August 3, 2009



This description of pro lifers was proffered by a woman who shall go nameless.

The pro life movement is supported and led by men who are so insecure in their sexuality that they want a wife who will forever be unable to rate or compare her husbands bedding performance with that of anyone else.

In other words, 'we want virgins'
posted by notreally at 12:20 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Of course, if we look at the propaganda handbook of an organization like Justice for All (which stages anti-abortion "discussion groups" in public places like college quads and such), it's pretty clear that contraceptive use is discouraged for reasons including religious bans and this idea that contraceptives allow people to have sex that they otherwise would refrain from.

On page 11 of this excerpt of a script obtained by RHRealityCheck.org (bold emphasis is mine)
You: When the pill fails to prevent ovulation (and we know it does because breakthrough ovulation sometimes occurs...), a back-up mechanism helps prevent a recognizable pregnancy. The pill depletes the endometrium so the child can't implant... he dies from lack of nutrition and hydration and is purged from the uterus...
And the next line
...But once a child comes into being, I hope we would agree that starving him to death is vicious. And starving the child to death is exactly what the pill can do...
I recognize that Amanda Marcotte is disliked by many people, including otherwise-progressive men, but feel free to skip her analysis and grab the PDF that's linked halfway down the page. It's certainly eye-opening. Page 10-13 explicitly deal with why pro-life advocated are strangely also anti-contraceptives.
posted by muddgirl at 12:25 PM on August 3, 2009


I would love to see some churches put free condoms and pamphlets of best practices for not getting pregnant (beyond abstinence) in their fellowship halls, held education for their adolescent members which provided more than threats of eternal damnation and the "punishment" of a child as information about how to avoid having an abortion, and established funds to support teenage mothers with their expenses and helping them find employment and non-indoctrinating day care for their children.

I think so many anti-choice folks are against contraception being provided by Planned Parenthood because they're afraid of the "exposure" youngsters might get if they walk into the building.
posted by hippybear at 12:28 PM on August 3, 2009


I really wonder sometimes if Will Saletan is my father’s long-lost bastard child. Because he’s got the exact same talent Dad had for telling you what you already knew in a manner that made it clear that he thought he was a genius and you were benighted and in dire need of his instruction. Even where he is hopelessly, utterly wrong — or at the very least, just not getting it in the name of being “contrarian.”
posted by geos at 12:29 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wow. If I could have used the same tense in that first sentence, it would read as it should. Please make corrections to my unmatched verb forms in your mind, and take the point I was making, not the bad grammar.
posted by hippybear at 12:30 PM on August 3, 2009


I got this from some political thread on women's rights and saved it because of how awesome it is for whipping out during discussions like this.

http://img514.imageshack.us/img514/805/prolifebeliefchartjq6.gif
posted by FunkyHelix at 12:37 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but you can't throw that out there unless you know what it means.

It's a false dilemma.

You're claiming that if someone opposes abortion, then they MUST support anything that reduces the number of abortions regardless of its moral implications. And based on this false dilemma you're projecting a stereotype on to your opponents in order to create a strawman that is easy to defeat: that pro-lifer's TRUE motivation is to control women.

It's an incredibly dishonest way to converse, especially when I'm not treating you that way.
posted by jsonic at 12:42 PM on August 3, 2009


Since rights come from Our Creators, doesn't that mean we have exactly the Rights our Mothers choose to give us?
posted by mikelieman at 12:43 PM on August 3, 2009


Ignorance--willfull ignorance, because the information is readily available--of how contraceptives work, and also of how they reduce abortions--is not an excuse. I used to be a pro-lifer, because I was young and stupid (hey, it was college). I mean, to the point of helping found a group. We did not protest clinics, though, just tried to have debates and put up educational materials, mostly of the "it's wrong to kill the babies" kind.

But. Our group also thought contraception was a good idea. And whenever we said that, to any other pro-life group, we got eyeballed, told the falsehoods above about how the Pill was like a tiny abortion, or given religious lectures.

No one wanted to know, no one cared. What really got their blood up was those horrible abortions and the poor little babies--they got high off of their self-righteousness, because they were warriors of the Lord, protecting the helpless little babies. And wearing pins that were the tiny feet of a 16-week fetus. I mean, prevent one abortion, and you're like a superhero who saved a baby from a speeding train. What can compete with that? It wasn't exactly woman-hating, it was woman-erasing. We could not understand these women who wanted to kill their babies; at most, we thought they were confused, or deluded. Possibly evil, but we mostly didn't want to get into that debate, too uncomformtable. Never did we get to know them, seek to understand them, or engage them; our focus was the babies, sweet, innocent, helpless and doomed. And we were going to save them!

And for a time, I bought into it too. It was heady stuff, and it made me feel like a good person. Except I kept getting frustrated, because the contraception thing, so obvious to me, was clearly a problem. I actually did believe in separation of church and state, my pro-life-ness wasn't strictly religious, but the dogmatic types were completely in charge; my little college group was an exception. I could either go over to the idea of making America a theocracy, or drop out. After graduation, I just let it go, and then as I developed more critical thinking skills, came to understand that there is no way for a woman to be autonomous and a full human being if her body can become the state's property, no matter how compelling the reason. And I came to know actual women who had abortions as people, not as inexplicable straw-women who wanted to destroy life.

Sorry for the long anecdote, but just wanted to give my own perspective on what drives this movement. I do think it is doomed to die out; many young naive recruits later drift away, and the leaders are aging, though not fast enough. If it weren't for the favor and power given by the Republicans, it might have dwindled much faster long ago.
posted by emjaybee at 12:45 PM on August 3, 2009 [34 favorites]


You're claiming that if someone opposes abortion, then they MUST support anything that reduces the number of abortions regardless of its moral implications.

When the moral implications of supporting those things that would reduce the number of abortions would be greater autonomy for women with respect to what sexual decisions they made, then, yes, the natural conclusion is that their biggest legal priority is controlling the sexual decisions of women, and that opposition to abortion is just a byproduct of that.

Pretty much, though, IF you think that abortion is a tragic killing of life, THEN your priority should be to reduce the number of abortions even if you have moral qualms about contraception and extra-marital sex, because most people would argue that killing of the innocent is worse than sexual transgressions. If you don't think this, then it's because your problem with abortion is not about the killing of innocent life but rather about a certain moral matrix through which you view sex. Which is fine as long as you are up front about that rather than marketing your sexual ethics by exploiting the public's discomfort with abortion.
posted by deanc at 12:51 PM on August 3, 2009 [15 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: I realize that this completely overlooks barrier methods of contraception -- condoms, diaphragms, etc. -- but the only theory I have about that is that....maybe those who oppose contraception are stuck in the early 1970's when The Pill was all the rage and they think that's all anyone uses?

I think what we have here is just the confusing and somewhat contradictory-to-reality confluence of two different religious conservative beliefs: 1) Abortion is murder, and 2) Children need to maintain the innocence of youth for as long as possible, meaning two things: a) They shouldn't be taught about sex (especially practical things, like pregnancy prevention) by anyone but their parents, because the schools will teach them bad things like 'sex is healthy' and probably at far too young an age, and b) they shouldn't be given condoms or other prophylactics because that encourages them to have sex-- the possibility of getting pregnant is one of several psychological deterrents to keep teens from becoming sexually active.

Both of these beliefs (abortion is murder; teens and children should only know about sex from their parents and must not receive contraceptives from school) are absolute beliefs. The result is that wayward teens who do what they shouldn't can become stuck in the unfortunate situation in which they are pregnant, but that doesn't mean they should murder the baby.

This is the typical pro-life approach to both these issues, and despite the fact that your or I can look at them and see that they are related, and that a simple way to reduce unwanted pregnancies (and therefore abortions) is early, effective sexual education, that isn't how they come at the issue. To the pro-life mind, it's analogous to saying that a good way to reduce overcrowding in prisons is to extending the death penalty to parking offenders. They see both as capital-W Wrongs, and thus the fact that one can alleviate the other doesn't matter.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:51 PM on August 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


There's no inconsistency, here, no surprises: the anti-choice crowd just don't want women to control their own lives.

It's fun to try to imagine the opposition in the worst light possible, but I doubt any of them would conceptualize it that way. My understanding is that most of them think the control happens when you choose to be sexually active. They have a point, too, one particularly worth considering when someone chooses to compare a developing human generally conceived by consensual activity to a parasitic infection contracted by accident.

The unsurprising thing is that the abortion fight sometimes ends up being another front in how people treat contraception, or that people on both poles end up confusing the two.

I've written before how I think the politics of abortion are often a proxy fight over how closely various parties feel sexual activity should be linked to reproduction. Fundies make the mistake of thinking that it should never be distanced. Some pro-choicers seem to think they have a right to complete distance unmitigated by any other concerns. Personally, I think they're both largely incorrect. Both life and choice are important here. Politically, the choice side allows for more subtlety, and that's a merit, but on the other hand, if it puts me in the camp of people who can earnestly compare a pregnancy to a tapeworm, I'm not sure it's the right one.
posted by weston at 12:57 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's an incredibly dishonest way to converse, especially when I'm not treating you that way.

You recharacterized a discussion of anti-choice activism that parallels anti-contraception activisim as being a smoke screen designed to mask hatred.

Just out of curiosity, how do you think you are treating people?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:59 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


jsonic: "you're projecting a stereotype on to your opponents in order to create a strawman that is easy to defeat: that pro-lifer's TRUE motivation is to control women."

Well, it's pretty tough to assume otherwise, considering both the words and deeds of the pro-coat-hanger movement. (that's right, if they're gonna turn my "Pro-choice" into "pro abortion" because of end products, I can play that game too). "By his words will he be known" et c.

It's an incredibly dishonest way to converse, especially when I'm not treating you that way."

Aren't you fucking special. (yes, I'm using the exact same trope, double-double negative style, as you are.)
posted by notsnot at 1:02 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


if it puts me in the camp of people who can earnestly compare a pregnancy to a tapeworm, I'm not sure it's the right one

I assure you that my tapeworm comment was not a comparison but a though experiment.

Being an adult, married woman who uses various forms of contraceptives and would presumably be as ashamed of an abortion as any other medical procedure, I am more concerned with the belief that I am abusing blastocysts (which are comprised of 70-100 cells when they implant on the endometrial wall) simply by walking about endometrium-free. My very existence could be murdering up to 12 (default male) children per year!

Lock me up! I'm a menace to society!
posted by muddgirl at 1:03 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't actually care what pro-lifer's motivation is. I can never know what's in somebody's heart. But they behave as though their motivation was to punish people for sex and to control women's bodies, and so I address myself to their behavior, rather than their intentions.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:04 PM on August 3, 2009 [11 favorites]


Abortion exists. It will exist regardless of its legality or how many people argue about its merits or its immorality. It exists because while sex and reproduction are fundamentally connected, their associated drives are not.

As to the question of this post, I usually find it informative to ask myself whether the morality being argued is more about the sex part or the reproduction part of the equation. When morality is used as an argument about reproduction (whether I agree or disagree with the argument), I find the argument is about Sanctity of Life.

When morality is used as an argument about sex, I find the argument is usually about control.
posted by Pragmatica at 1:07 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


jsonic, tell us honestly: do you get squeamish when gay people have sex? Do you want women to remain in the home? Do you not like the idea of women being equal to men? Do you think abstinence-only sex education prevents pregnancy at all? Do you think condoms make AIDS worse? Do you think it's the victim's fault when they're raped, particularly if they're female? Do you not like adoption (which is a fucking horrible alternative; it doesn't do anything about the fact that there's one more mouth to feed)?
posted by kldickson at 1:17 PM on August 3, 2009


Please don't turn this thread into jsonic vs. the world.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:20 PM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


In all my time browsing the blue, I've never seen jsonic approach those questions - wouldn't expect him to now.

But count me as one of the people wondering how you can be against abortions, and against contraception at the same time. Has anyone managed to explain this yet?
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 1:21 PM on August 3, 2009


Please don't turn this thread into jsonic vs. the world.

Eh, he made the fundamental error of pointing out the most uncomfortable bit about abortion in a 'room' full of pro-choice people.

When you fart in church, you're going to get some glares.
posted by Pragmatica at 1:24 PM on August 3, 2009


Tequila Mockingbird: But count me as one of the people wondering how you can be against abortions, and against contraception at the same time. Has anyone managed to explain this yet?

Ahem.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:26 PM on August 3, 2009


Pragmatica, what is that 'most uncomfortable bit'? I've considered as much the fact that a fetus, when born, turns into a human. I still have no problem with the idea of aborting it.
posted by kldickson at 1:27 PM on August 3, 2009


Eh, he made the fundamental error of pointing out the most uncomfortable bit about abortion in a 'room' full of pro-choice people.

What's the most uncomfortable bit about abortion? I must have missed it...

Also, I've been thinking more about this line from weston: if it puts me in the camp of people who can earnestly compare a pregnancy to a tapeworm, I'm not sure it's the right one.

In my experience, no matter what I compare pregnancy to, someone will step up and complain that it's an unfair analogy. My favorite one that continues to be shot down with little rational argument besides "It's just different" is the idea that The State shouldn't force its citizens to donate organs to sick patients in need. Think of all the lives we could save by asking any citizen who qualifies to give up a liver or some bone marrow!

I think the problem might be that people focus on the surface presentation of the argument without answering the fundamental, underlying question I'm trying to present. Why do fetuses deserve special rights, beyond basic human rights, to impose on another person's body? This gets to the heart of the "life vs. control" question, because the response is usually something along the lines of "A woman gives up her right to autonomy when she chooses to have sex."
posted by muddgirl at 1:32 PM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Religion being the sacred cow that it is to the religious and much of the beliefs stated by pro-coat-hanger-tards revolving around abortion and reproduction and contraception apparently revolving around their religious propensities, it stands to reason that religion needs to be brought under some serious criticism in the public eye.

The first amendment's a good thing. At the same time, it should not preclude, in some ways, discussion - reasoned and bluntly honest discussion - about the serious flaws in some of the speech and beliefs it protects.
posted by kldickson at 1:33 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks, shakespeherian. I guess it comes down to me scratching my head, wondering how anyone can think of these things as if they're on equal footing. Crazy talk.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 1:33 PM on August 3, 2009


It's fun to try to imagine the opposition in the worst light possible, but I doubt any of them would conceptualize it that way.

Most who think they are in the right will rationalize their behavior to fit their ideals. What this article shows, and why it is important, is that when their rampant hypocrisy is brought to light, anti-choice proponents resort to tired and irrelevant tropes and distractions that betray their true motivations.

At the end of the day, what Saletan's evidence shows is that the desire of the anti-choice movement to eliminate all options for a woman's reproductive health is less about preserving the sanctity of life, than about gaining greater control over her private behavior.

This is evidenced most clearly by the movement's opposition to providing women with greater choices of access to adoption and contraception services. By pursuing the elimination of even these choices, they go outside the boundaries of the abortion debate and express their true desire to control women.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:33 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


jsonic is a symptom of this mess. If he would just come here and say that he thinks contraception is wrong and that proper sexual morals and ethics are the most important priorities (legally and culturally), and that opposition to abortion is just a byproduct of that, then we could have an honest discussion. Instead he just gets indignant that pro-lifers are being taken to task for opposing initiatives that would do what they ostensibly support: reducing abortions.

I suppose one could view the pro-life movement not as a movement with tangible policy goals that could be accomplished with a coalition of groups working together to serve their common interests but rather as a cultural movement: their goal is to spread a cultural message about sexual morality under the guise of trying to end a procedure that many Americans have a discomfort with. Pro-lifers figure if they can attract people with the "hook" of discussing the "tragedy of abortion," then once they're drawn in, they can be indoctrinated with all of the other cultural trappings such as opposition to contraception, opposition to extra-marital sex, etc. Once again I think that these moral ideas are fine if you want to hold to them, but why not start with those ideas as a base of what you're about and work from there, instead of injecting yourself into what is a political policy issue that can be solved by political means?

In a sense it's like some of the worst parts of the anti-war movement: in some cases, it wasn't about creating political pressure on politicians to stop/end the war, it was about using the war to drum up crowds to support their "activist movements" which were about creating street protests for various other issues.

adoption ... it doesn't do anything about the fact that there's one more mouth to feed

Uh, I'm pretty sure the adoptive parents want another mouth to feed, so I would hardly say that adoption is a "horrible alternative."
posted by deanc at 1:36 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're claiming that if someone opposes abortion, then they MUST support anything that reduces the number of abortions regardless of its moral implications.

It's more complex than that.

An anti-abortion-rights person might claim that what they are opposed to is abortion, and that their opposition is absolute.

What the entirely true dilemma does is point out that this last part is not true. By also opposing measures that would reduce the number of abortions because those measures are immoral, the anti-abortion-rights person reveals that their opposition is not absolute, and that some things are so horribly awful that it is better that some number of (from their perspective) tiny infants be torn to pieces with surgical instruments than to allow or encourage those immoral actions.

This presents a problem from the point of view of an anti-abortion-rights person, because they can no longer claim that their concern is only to save the babies -- rather, it is revealed to be to save the babies insofar as baby-saving doesn't violate some other things that are more important. As well, it means that babies can permissibly -- within their own moral framework -- be treated as means rather than ends in themselves. It is acceptable to allow some number of babies to be murdered in order to suppress or discourage behavior that is sufficiently immoral.

An additional problem from the point of view of the anti-abortion-rights person is that these unspeakably vile things that are so horrid that it is more important to suppress them than to prevent some number of abortions aren't, in the realm of actual policy, things like "IMMEDIATE FORCIBLE STERILIZATION OF ALL PEOPLE!" or similarly drastic measures, but instead "Teach adolescents accurately about the biology of sex, the methods by which different contraceptives work, and the methods in which they are employed, in combination with making access to those contraceptives easy," which most people would judge innocuous.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:36 PM on August 3, 2009 [14 favorites]


deanc, I was referring to the problem of overpopulation and the fact that there are plenty of children who are already alive and need parents.
posted by kldickson at 1:37 PM on August 3, 2009


Pragmatica, what is that 'most uncomfortable bit'?

It's easy to tell which bit set folks off; it's the one that got quoted the most:

Or maybe they simply think that unborn children deserve rights too.

Whether you believe that abortion is murder of an unborn child, or simply the woman exercising her right to control what her body does, there's still that simple truth: an abortion is the ending of a life, at the discretion of the mother (or host, if you prefer). It's is simultaneously the pillar of the pro-life side and the sole weakness of the pro-choice side of the debate.

I still have no problem with the idea of aborting it.

Even among pro-choice individuals, I would say you are in the minority. I think there's considerable emotional involvement, even when the reasons for the abortion are fairly clear-cut in the mind of the woman having the procedure (at least, this has been the case in the several instances I've been involved with).
posted by Pragmatica at 1:44 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


But count me as one of the people wondering how you can be against abortions, and against contraception at the same time.

Pro-life people (some/most?) consider both to be wrong. In effect, you're asking them to promote a lesser-evil in order to avoid a greater-evil, and then acting like doing this is obviously the correct behavior.

I'm sure you can think of some cases, regardless of your worldview, where it's still wrong to promote a lesser-evil to avoid a greater-evil. Pro-life people view these issues as one of those cases.

For instance: torture. Is it ok to physically harm one person (lesser-evil) in order avoid a terrorist attack that would kill thousands (greater-evil). If I think that both acts are morally wrong, should I compromise and say that the torture is justified in order to avoid the mass-killing? I don't think so.

I'm not expecting people to agree with me on abortion or contraception, but I do hope the above points show that it's possible to be against both without being disingenuous or secretly wanting to enslave women.
posted by jsonic at 1:45 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why do you consider contraception evil, jsonic? It occurs to me that if you are using something which prevents fertilization, even people who go so far as to claim certain kinds of contraception are 'abortifacients' wouldn't have a problem with that.
posted by kldickson at 1:47 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


And you still haven't answered my questions.
posted by kldickson at 1:47 PM on August 3, 2009


Whether you believe that abortion is murder of an unborn child, or simply the woman exercising her right to control what her body does, there's still that simple truth: an abortion is the ending of a life, at the discretion of the mother (or host, if you prefer).

That's hardly a simple truth, as much as you might like it to be. Up until the third trimester, a fetus cannot sustain itself outside of the womb, so it is not so much an independent living creature as it is an organic extension of the mother, and can't really be defined as an independent life any more than her kidney might be. By your logic, the simple fact is that maturbating end a life, or scratching off living skin cells, or removing a tumor.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:48 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


In what way is contraception evil, in your own words please?
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 1:48 PM on August 3, 2009


I wonder what pro-coat-hanger-tards are going to say when we develop the means to manufacture egg cells and sperm cells for the infertile from somatic cells.

Every time we skin our knees, they'll be saying 'WHARRGARBL MURDERER!!!!!'
posted by kldickson at 1:50 PM on August 3, 2009


there's still that simple truth: an abortion is the ending of a life

No. There is no evidence to suggest that a zygote/embryo is sentient until at least X days of development, where X is currently unknown, but fairly large.

At the end of the day, what Saletan's evidence shows is that the desire of the anti-choice movement to eliminate all options for a woman's reproductive health is less about preserving the sanctity of life, than about gaining greater control over her private behavior.

This is exactly right, and this is the message that people who care need to get out to the people. No one likes abortion, but the so-called "pro-life" coalitions are using it as a stepping-stone to criminalizing contraceptives of any kind. If you don't think this is so, look at the bogus studies they've been producing that attempt to label various kinds of contraceptives "abortifacient".
posted by Maximian at 1:50 PM on August 3, 2009


Also, whether or not a man masturbates, they are going to lose sperm cells occasionally anyway. Them balls have to empty themselves occasionally.
posted by kldickson at 1:51 PM on August 3, 2009


There is no evidence to suggest that a zygote/embryo is sentient until at least X days of development, where X is currently unknown, but fairly large.

Precisely. To be exact, the brain does not begin to develop until 8 weeks.

And that's being fairly generous to the concept of sentience.

Until such time as a nervous system develops, it is, essentially, just a tumor.
posted by kldickson at 1:53 PM on August 3, 2009


Also, the blatant able-ism from some of the pro-abortion supporters in this thread is sort of disturbing. Using "retard" or the like to insult someone's intelligence is just as offensive to some people as using the word "gay" to insult someone's masculinity.
posted by muddgirl at 1:55 PM on August 3, 2009


Using "retard" or the like to insult someone's intelligence is just as offensive to some people

But that's kind of the definition of 'retard', isn't it?
posted by kldickson at 1:57 PM on August 3, 2009


I'm sure you can think of some cases, regardless of your worldview, where it's still wrong to promote a lesser-evil to avoid a greater-evil.

Matters of adoption and contraception entirely sidestep the debate over when a fetus becomes a human being.

Therefore, the anti-choice movement, of which you are a part, is going off point when expressing active opposition to adoption and contraception choices.

It's no longer about the sanctity of life when you're taking on other missions outside that scope. But then, if you're going to be honest, being anti-choice was never really about the sanctity of life to begin with, after all.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:57 PM on August 3, 2009


Up until the third trimester, a fetus cannot sustain itself outside of the womb, so it is not so much an independent living creature as it is an organic extension of the mother, and can't really be defined as an independent life any more than her kidney might be.

Except that a kidney, unmolested, won't become a human being.

Here's the thing: I'm as uncomfortable with abortion as a concept as telling a woman she can't have one. It is a choice, and it's one that will be made (as previously noted) whether it's legal or not. As a practical matter, I prefer to have it be legal, since you don't tend to end up with as many dead people that way.

That said, it would be silly to argue that there's no basis whatsoever for the pro-life point of view, if it were internally consistent (which it largely isn't, as demonstrated by the subject articles of this post).
posted by Pragmatica at 1:58 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Muddgirl, can I still call 'em "Pro-coat-hanger"?
posted by notsnot at 1:59 PM on August 3, 2009


But a reasoned discussion of when sentience begins is not at the heart of this. Anti-abortion activists are, for the most part, religious, and the question they are addressing, as their billboards frequently remind me, is "when does god put the soul into the baby?" They would have it at conception, which is why they may consider male masturbation to be a sin, but don't declare it murder.

But that's not a question that should be answered by science, or can be, and different religions have different answers -- Judaism, as an example, has the child's soul not entering the body until the infant's head is partially crowned. And it's not a question that is answered directly by the Bible -- the "life begins at conception" thing comes from interpretation, and has changed over the years.

So, properly, pro-lifers aren't arguing "We must protect the life of an unborn child," they are arguing "U.S. law must privilege my specific interpretation of ancient Hebrew and Greek texts." And that's not the job of law. But it's a demand they make with great frequency.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:59 PM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Using "retard" or the like to insult someone's intelligence is just as offensive to some people

But that's kind of the definition of 'retard', isn't it?


No, it's not. "Retard" as a noun has no definition outside the pejorative meaning of worthlessly stupid (well, there's a machining context as well, but I think we're smart enough to see the difference). The word started as a pejorative against people who are mentally, intellectually, and physically disabled and has become a word to throw at anyone who disagrees with you or is disagreeable. Perhaps gay isn't the right comparison, but a British term like poof or fairy.
posted by muddgirl at 2:06 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Except that a kidney, unmolested, won't become a human being.

A large number of preganancies spontaneously self-terminate, so there's no guarantee that, unmolested, they will turn into a human being anyway. But the fact that it may one day be a living human shouldn't be the basis for our discussion. The question is "is it a person yet?", because, if it is, it is entitled to the protection accorded other humans, and, if it isn't, then what is it, and is it entitled to any protection?

We don't really have any good answers for this, which is why, for me, the best answer is to let the pregant woman make that decision. She is, after all, the only clearly independent and sentient life directly affected by the pregancy. Maybe it is murder. We don't know, we can't prove it, and we will never know. So what do we have left?

Letting people make up their own minds, and make their own choices.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:07 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The question is "is it a person yet?", because, if it is, it is entitled to the protection accorded other humans

And, as I've said several times only to be ignored, is it entitled to protections that aren't accorded to other humans? Because that's really what we're talking about here.
posted by muddgirl at 2:08 PM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


A lot of the interpretations of those ancient texts also state that women are not really people, but instead are property of the men they marry, and should that husband die, they are (according to strict religious dictum) supposed to be impregnated by their dead husband's brother.

The sexual mores of ancient cultures don't deserve much place in the 21st Century. Just my opinion. YMMV.
posted by hippybear at 2:11 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd love to see the contraceptive discussion divorced from the whole abortion issue, just because I think it would force people to admit what is driving them.

Make the stance "explain to me why we shouldn't make sexual education and contraceptives readily available to any youth who wants them." and ignore any commentary on abortions.

I suspect that it would become a lot more clear that this is less about saving babies than it is about punishing people.
posted by quin at 2:13 PM on August 3, 2009


Blazecock Pileon: It's no longer about the sanctity of life when you're taking on other missions outside that scope. But then, if you're going to be honest, being anti-choice was never really about the sanctity of life to begin with, after all.

You're still trying to force words into the anti-choice mouths. As jsonic says, they see it as a lesser evil that counters a greater evil, but that they are still not willing to advocate. Many conservative folks have suggested that in order to lessen the greater evil of terrorism, we as a country ought to engage in the lesser evil of spying on our own people, but liberals are against engaging in such a lesser evil because they don't believe that the ends justifies the means. It's the same situation here: Anti-choice advocates recognize that there would be fewer abortions if X, Y, and Z, but that doesn't mean that they are necessarily hypocrites if they are against X, Y, and Z for different reasons.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:14 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: please stop trying to draw a parallel about using insulting language about a person's intelligence and equally insulting language about sexual orientation. It's like you're picking at a scab on my body, and I'm not happy about it.
posted by hippybear at 2:14 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


They didn't even get much play back when they were supposed to be popular. After all, we don't know who Onan was because he fathered a bunch of children with his dead brother's wife, but because he refused to. That story wouldn't be in the Bible if Levirate marriage was popular, but is, instead, in there because it sometimes wasn't.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:16 PM on August 3, 2009


I don't know if I get what you're saying, hippybear, but I agree that we shouldn't use insulting language about a person's intelligence (especially when we mean "their opinions"), or about their sexual orientation (especially when we mean "their 'masculinity'").
posted by muddgirl at 2:17 PM on August 3, 2009


You're still trying to force words into the anti-choice mouths.

Not really. They speak with their own voice, even if what they are saying is uncomfortable for them to hear repeated back to them.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:17 PM on August 3, 2009


All this is moot in a big way, though, because the people in the US who would vote for this anti-abortion, anti-contraception program are functionally illiterate and do not read Slate, or any other sane discussion of these issues. All they know is that "pro-choice" means "baby-killer", thanks to the massive neocon propaganda machine.

If the people really interested in freedom want to get the votes, they have to figure out a way to cast these ideas in a pictorial, video-clip, sound-byte form. It would be nice if public education worked and brought people up to understand something about science and nature, but it doesn't. So where's the propaganda machine opposing the juggernaut that the neocons have?
posted by Maximian at 2:19 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


muddgirl, don't tell me you actually can STAND dumb people.

Disappointing.
posted by kldickson at 2:19 PM on August 3, 2009


I sometime prefer stupid people. Just not for arguing with.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:20 PM on August 3, 2009


And in addition, people can have their own opinions, but they can't have their own facts.
posted by kldickson at 2:21 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


muddgirl: no, I'm objecting to you trying to find a way to draw a parallel between a word which is obviously insulting, and ones which should not be. "Retard" is globally unacceptable as fraught with negativity. "Gay" and "fairy" are terms which have specific meaning within the homosexual community which are only laden with negativity because the dominant culture has said it should be thus. The all too pervasive "that's so gay" meaning "I dislike that" is one of the ugliest things which has arisen in US culture in the past 10 years.

(Unless there is a movement within the mental health field to reclaim "retard" as a word, but I haven't heard about it if there is.)

The statements you have made thus far imply that 1) gay men are not masculine and 2) that "gay" and other terms for homosexuality are acceptable terms for insulting someone else.
posted by hippybear at 2:22 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Matters of adoption and contraception entirely sidestep the debate over when a fetus becomes a human being.

Wat? Adoption and contraception don't pertain to when a fetus/human is determined. Ok, don't see anyone arguing against that.

Therefore, the anti-choice movement, of which you are a part, is going off point when expressing active opposition to adoption and contraception choices.

Wat? We're going off point when talking about anything besides abortion topics? Ok. I didn't realize we're not allowed to talk about other subjects.

It's no longer about the sanctity of life when you're taking on other missions outside that scope. But then, if you're going to be honest, being anti-choice was never really about the sanctity of life to begin with, after all.

Wat? Pro-life people aren't allowed to have opinions on other subjects? And if we do, we're somehow proving that we don't really care about life-issues. I'm afraid your entire comment makes absolutely no sense.
posted by jsonic at 2:22 PM on August 3, 2009


"I'm not expecting people to agree with me on abortion or contraception, but I do hope the above points show that it's possible to be against both without being disingenuous or secretly wanting to enslave women."

This is kind of true
(although I think the torture/terror attack is pretty off point)
but it also reveals that such a world-view is fundamentally ignorant in the following sense:
the resulting adoption of both ideals turns a discussion of how to pragmatically address an issue you would like to change (reduce abortions) into imposing a moralistic ultimatum based on opposing both abortion and sex-ed/contraception on everyone (don't have abortions, don't have sex except to have kids).

This is further exemplified by the idea that "an abortion is the ending of a life .. [is] the sole weakness of the pro-choice side of the debate".

No. The delineation of when the fetus is a life separate from the mother in order to deconvolute the rights of both individuals at that time is the primary and fundamental strength of the pro-choice debate. Until the fetus is a life separate from the mother (measured by development and viability), any argument whereby you interfere with the mother's choices is invasive and ultimately equivalent to enslavement.

In both cases, pro-life or anti-contraception camps essentially seek to dictate the moral code by which others live. Thankfully, much of the world has (slowly) been moving beyond this mode of social justice.
posted by sloe at 2:23 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


And with that I will cease my derail.
posted by hippybear at 2:24 PM on August 3, 2009


They believe that unborn fetuses have the unique right to access to a person's body for sustenance - rights that no other humans currently claim.

Bingo.

Both of these beliefs (abortion is murder; teens and children should only know about sex from their parents and must not receive contraceptives from school) are absolute beliefs. The result is... Bristol Palin.

If I could favorite emjaybee's comment fifty times, I would.
I used to be a pro-lifer, because I was young and stupid (hey, it was college). I mean, to the point of helping found a group... But. Our group also thought contraception was a good idea. And whenever we said that, to any other pro-life group, we got eyeballed, told the falsehoods above about how the Pill was like a tiny abortion, or given religious lectures. No one wanted to know, no one cared. ...they got high off of their self-righteousness, because they were warriors of the Lord, protecting the helpless little babies. And wearing pins that were the tiny feet of a 16-week fetus. I mean, prevent one abortion, and you're like a superhero who saved a baby from a speeding train. What can compete with that? It wasn't exactly woman-hating, it was woman-erasing. I could either go over to the idea of making America a theocracy, or drop out. After graduation, I just let it go, and then as I developed more critical thinking skills, came to understand that there is no way for a woman to be autonomous and a full human being if her body can become the state's property, no matter how compelling the reason. And I came to know actual women who had abortions as people, not as inexplicable straw-women who wanted to destroy life.

And the vast majority of these "Fighters for Life", are perfectly happy, proud even, when the children they have protected for so long go off to fight wars in foreign lands and either die or kill someone else's beloved children (which, since they're in some foreign land, includes many non-combatants). And the vast majority also believe in The Death Penalty for murderers, yet for all their overblown rhetoric do not consider that appropriate punishment for these "mothers who kill their own children". Oh, wait, emjaybee said it perfectly: It wasn't exactly woman-hating, it was woman-erasing. Only doctors are involved in the willful act of abortion.

And the logical dislocation of "hurting" a human being that has not developed a single brain or nervous system cell (or in the case of many many of the "awful late-term abortions", developed a non-functional nervous system) demonstrates the purely religious, non-scientific basis for the Cult of Fetus Worship.

Very few in the Anti-Abortion Movement base their opinions on anything other than Religious Faith (and those who do oppose many of The Movement's specific tenets). jsonic may be one of them, but the odds are clearly against him.

On preview: torture. Is it ok to physically harm one person (lesser-evil) in order avoid a terrorist attack that would kill thousands (greater-evil). Torture is a totally ineffective way of gaining reliable intelligence. There is not a SINGLE historical event of its success for that purpose in a "ticking time bomb" situation (but so many in FICTION). It is, however, excellent in extracting confessions from the innocent, and satisfying the sadistic desires of the torturer. Essentially it's terrorism with a smaller body count, a lesser-evil, but one that can't prevent a greater-evil. And hauling out that argument reduces the credibility of those who use use it. Good job, j.

And frankly, the specific religious basis of Anti-Abortionism makes their laws the American Version of Sharia Law.

That is why I am proudly "pro-coat-hanger (if necessary)".
posted by wendell at 2:29 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


jsonic, you're still not answering the question of why you think contraception is evil. Stop obfuscating; you come across as an insecure moron who is too afraid to address questions directly.

Adoption and contraception are VERY MUCH tied to abortion, in that they are additional things to do with a fetus you don't want.

Whose comment makes no sense, here?
posted by kldickson at 2:30 PM on August 3, 2009


He's still not saying WHY he thinks contraception is evil.
posted by kldickson at 2:31 PM on August 3, 2009


Blazecock Pileon: Not really. They speak with their own voice, even if what they are saying is uncomfortable for them to hear repeated back to them.

Look, I'm pretty sure I'm 100% in agreement with you on contraceptives, sexual education, the idiocy of the abstinence-only movement, and abortion rights. However, what little ground there is to hold reasonable discourse with one's ideological opponents on any of these issues immediately shrinks drastically when one refuses to accept that one's opponents hold the premises that they claim to hold. If all you want to do is shout at someone about how they want to enslave women and punish people for having sex, then that's fine, but please say so, and understand that very few people are going to want to talk with you about it: Your frustration, while understandable, does not apply to millions of anti-choice Americans who really are trying their best to do what's right and best for humanity but who begin this journey with different preconceptions than you.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:31 PM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


jsonic, you're still not answering the question of why you think contraception is evil. Stop obfuscating

My comments in this thread aren't a discourse on why contraception is right/wrong, rather, its to respond to those who think that one can't be against both without being a hypocrite. Also, I never said it was evil, I said I think it's wrong. The lesser/greater evil talk is using a common phrase (lesser or greater evils), and I apologize if it mislead.

you come across as an insecure moron who is too afraid to address questions directly

I've yet to to call people names in this thread. How many have I been called? Simply disagreeing with the majority here transforms me into the evil stereotype you seem to wish me to be. Oh well.
posted by jsonic at 2:39 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


In another thread here on the blue about this subject, I remember someone responding that if pro-lifers thought that children were really being murdered, they'd be a whole lot more up in arms about it. And that made so much sense to me! When people protest actual, serious killing of people (children!), they go to incredible lengths to change things. They're in shock, in anger. But the way the pro-life members behave, it's telling. Where's the real outrage?

This isn't about "saving the babies." They don't really believe what they're saying.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 2:41 PM on August 3, 2009


It's right and best for humanity for women's bodies to be controlled by the State? Absolutely terrifying.
posted by agregoli at 2:42 PM on August 3, 2009


jsonic: "Also, I never said it was evil, I said I think it's wrong. "

May I ask why?
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 2:43 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why do fetuses deserve special rights, beyond basic human rights, to impose on another person's body?

Unless you're sterile, sex carries the possibility of pregnancy. There are a lot of ways to mitigate that, and I think it's not only moral but actually responsible to employ them if you're not trying to conceive, but outside of destroying your reproductive capacity, the possibility is inevitably connected. Unless you're raped, such a pregnancy isn't going to be an outside random imposition, it's a direct result of an action you choose which is at its core is an invitation for incipient human life to take up residence.

I'm also not sure that we don't already give rights to some human beings because of their stage of life that we don't give to others. Children have a special right of support from their parents that we don't compel on anybody else.

Whether or not abortion should be strictly outlawed, or be simply a matter of personal preference, or something more subtle doesn't necessarily follow from any of this, but I don't think the positive rights argument works really well when most pregnancies result from voluntary actions that most people know can lead to pregnancy.

The pro choice has a lot more powerful arguments in the real risks women face with pregnancy as a counterbalancing issue: both mothers and their developing children are life and valuable and there's an awful lot of circumstances out there that require people to make difficult choices. Do we really want the state doing that by blanket statute?
posted by weston at 2:44 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember someone responding that if pro-lifers thought that children were really being murdered, they'd be a whole lot more up in arms about it

That pops up in almost every abortion thread. PopeGuilty and Avenger claiming that the only way to be truly pro-life is to want to murder those who perform abortions. It's quite disturbing that people think that makes any sense at all.
posted by jsonic at 2:47 PM on August 3, 2009


jsonic, again, you're obfuscating.
posted by kldickson at 2:48 PM on August 3, 2009


The statements you have made thus far imply that 1) gay men are not masculine and 2) that "gay" and other terms for homosexuality are acceptable terms for insulting someone else.

I did not intend to make these implications, and I apologize for doing so. Thanks for the clarification. I realized the incorrect parallel I was drawing after I posted using the word "gay", and I tried to correct myself, but I was really not very diligent in finding a slur that is as useless as "retard" is.
posted by muddgirl at 2:49 PM on August 3, 2009


It's quite disturbing that some people think a woman should go through a pregnancy she doesn't want to raise a child she can't support, too. But I'm not talking about murdering those who give abortions. If we thought that someone was taking five-year-olds and killing them, into numbers of hundreds and thousands, you bet there would be outrage on the streets. You bet there would be violence to save the children.

Why isn't that happening here? Because you don't care about a fetus like you care about a baby.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 2:52 PM on August 3, 2009


Unless you're sterile, sex carries the possibility of pregnancy. There are a lot of ways to mitigate that, and I think it's not only moral but actually responsible to employ them if you're not trying to conceive, but outside of destroying your reproductive capacity, the possibility is inevitably connected. Unless you're raped, such a pregnancy isn't going to be an outside random imposition, it's a direct result of an action you choose which is at its core is an invitation for incipient human life to take up residence.

And this is where the pro-life argument moves from being about "the sanctity of life" towards being about the morality of female sexuality.
posted by muddgirl at 2:53 PM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


May I ask why?

My comments in this thread aren't about convincing anyone to share my viewpoints. I'm simply responding to the erroneous arguments people are using here to dismiss them. As well as the ad-hom stereotypes projected on anyone who disagrees here.

jsonic, again, you're obfuscating

I'm sorry that I'm not saying what you want me to.
posted by jsonic at 2:55 PM on August 3, 2009


If all you want to do is shout at someone about how they want to enslave women and punish people for having sex, then that's fine, but please say so

No one is shouting. But the parameters of the debate have been clarified, by the very words of anti-choice proponents, to having less to do with defining when life starts and having mostly to do with maintaining control over a wider range of a woman's private behavior.

This is a very important observation, because it clarifies what motivates the actions of anti-choice proponents. It is also important to note that anti-choice proponents use a number of rhetorical techniques and logical fallacies in turn to try to distract, dissemble and otherwise misdirect readers away from this point. To wit: The derail about "unborn children" is irrelevant to the matter entirely, but it has already been successful in distracting many here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:55 PM on August 3, 2009


Or, to talk about specifics weston, I am a married adult female who uses birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Of course they are not 100% effective but I take that chance. When "the inevitable" happens and I get pregnant, do you seriously think that having sex with my husband is consent to letting another life form inhabit my body and directly endanger my health? Even though I am taking what I consider to be reasonable measure to prevent it?
posted by muddgirl at 2:56 PM on August 3, 2009


jsonic, let me ask my question more clearly, then: why do you think contraception is wrong?
posted by kldickson at 2:58 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sex, also, is usable for things other than for reproduction, as evidenced by homosexuality, especially in that of nonhuman animals. Bonobo sexuality is extremely important in bonobos' social interactions.
posted by kldickson at 3:00 PM on August 3, 2009


jsonic: "My comments in this thread aren't about convincing anyone to share my viewpoints. I'm simply responding to the erroneous arguments people are using here to dismiss them."

You're picking and choosing and ignoring a lot of questions that could give people here insight into your position. Instead of educating and clarifying, you're making people fill in the gaps themselves, and on it snowballs.

I don't even know what your viewpoints are, aside that contraception is wrong for some reason you are not willing to explain and that fetuses have some undefined rights starting at some undefined point in time.

Perhaps if we knew where you stand when you come into a discussion, there would be less derailing.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 3:00 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's quite disturbing that some people think a woman should go through a pregnancy she doesn't want to raise a child she can't support, too.

Pro-life people heavily promote adoption as an alternative to abortion, so I don't know what your going on about here.

But I'm not talking about murdering those who give abortions...You bet there would be violence to save the children.

Interesting...

Why isn't that happening here? Because you don't care about a fetus like you care about a baby.

This meme seems to be contagious. So if the pro-life movement doesn't get violent, then they don't really care about the unborn? People in this thread have the bad habit of insisting that they really know what pro-life people are thinking.
posted by jsonic at 3:02 PM on August 3, 2009


jsonic: "But I'm not talking about murdering those who give abortions...You bet there would be violence to save the children.

Interesting..."

Violence =/= murder.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 3:04 PM on August 3, 2009


Blazecock Pileon: But the parameters of the debate have been clarified, by the very words of anti-choice proponents, to having less to do with defining when life starts and having mostly to do with maintaining control over a wider range of a woman's private behavior.

Again, I don't think that's true. Anti-choice proponents oppose abortion because they believe that it is murder: full stop.

However, they also oppose certain sex-ed programs and contraceptives in school, and you may be able to make arguments about this opposition revolving around issues of control. Their opposition to these programs, however, do not (as far as I can tell, and I've known a lot of anti-choice folks) reveal any secret or hidden truths about their opposition to abortion. They're separate issues, both of which they are opposed to. Again, my opposition to the government spying on its citizens doesn't mean that my opposition to terrorist actions is actually about privacy. I am opposed to both, for different reasons, and the idea that one might lessen the other doesn't change my opposition. (I realize that this isn't a perfect parallel for a number of reasons, but for god's sake please ignore that because I think that it still manages to illustrate the point I'm trying to make.)
posted by shakespeherian at 3:08 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


People in this thread have the bad habit of insisting that they really know what pro-life people are thinking.

We would like to know why you think contraceptives are the "lesser evil." If you would tell us, we wouldn't have to guess.
posted by Mouse Army at 3:09 PM on August 3, 2009


jsonic, here's the thing: people make the blithe assumption that people opposed to abortion want to reduce the killing of innocent lives via abortion, a procedure that many people are uncomfortable with. So people try to promote initiatives that will serve the supposed interests of pro-lifers. Then it turns out that the pro-lifers aren't interested in this at all, but rather hold to a fringe ideology that declares that contraception is wrong.

Reducing the number of abortions is being made into a political issue. If that's what you want, then you will support politicians that serve your policy goals. If you have no interest in doing that, then it turns out that this is not about the particulars of policy and results at all, it's about promoting a sort of fringe ideology. Some might call this "hypocritical," but the truth is that it's dishonest. When you raise dollars and send votes on the basis of a specific policy (abortion) and then oppose efforts to serve that particular policy goal that a lot of people can agree on and instead start crying that you're not interested primarily in that policy at all but in another, more fringe-based idea that no one is interested in pursuing, then that's a sign of dishonesty in the political sphere.
posted by deanc at 3:10 PM on August 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


You're picking and choosing and ignoring a lot of questions

I guess you assume I have time to read and respond to every individual question, and if I don't choose yours, then it's because I obviously can't handle the truth.

Again, I'm not here to convince you or kldickson to adopt my opinion on abortion or contraception. That would be a monster derail and probably pointless. I AM here to respond to those strawman arguments used frequently here by those who claim that pro-life people are really only about controlling women. Or that one cannot be pro-life and against contraception without being a hypocrite.
posted by jsonic at 3:11 PM on August 3, 2009


shakespeherian, the thing is, WHY are they opposed to comprehensive sex education and contraceptives if these things will REDUCE abortions?
posted by kldickson at 3:11 PM on August 3, 2009


Violence =/= murder

That you think either is the appropriate course of action for the pro-life movement is disturbing.
posted by jsonic at 3:11 PM on August 3, 2009


jsonic, we have the choice to consider you an obfuscating ninny who's too afraid to answer a question if you don't tell us why you think contraception is wrong.
posted by kldickson at 3:12 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


deanc's comment is spot on.

You want less abortions, because abortions mean taking lives.
People make suggestions on better education and pregnancy prevention.
You go, No, I'm morally opposed to it but I won't tell you why.

What gives?
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 3:13 PM on August 3, 2009


Adoption isn't really all it's cracked up to be for the birth mother, from what I understand. As a middle-aged man who was adopted as an infant (born pre RoeWade), I found this link about being a birth mother heartbreaking. (From this MeFi post)
posted by hippybear at 3:16 PM on August 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


jsonic: "Violence =/= murder

That you think either is the appropriate course of action for the pro-life movement is disturbing.
"

Are you telling me that if you overheard your hypothetical neighbor say that she's going to murder her baby, you wouldn't jump out of your seat and try to do something about it?

Now if she said she's going to get an abortion, wouldn't you have a weaker emotional response in comparison?

This is a vital question for me.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 3:16 PM on August 3, 2009


And if your opposition to contraception and comprehensive sex education is at its core religiously motivated, I am well within my rights to tell you to shove your buy-bull up your ass and go back to the 1300s where you belong.
posted by kldickson at 3:16 PM on August 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


Again, my opposition to the government spying on its citizens doesn't mean that my opposition to terrorist actions is actually about privacy. I am opposed to both, for different reasons, and the idea that one might lessen the other doesn't change my opposition.

Opposition to abortion and opposition to contraception are both motivated by the same core ideal of control over sex and its outcomes for women. One cannot easily draw the same kind of set logic for the relationship between opposition to illegal wiretaps and opposition to terrorist acts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:18 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


However, they also oppose certain sex-ed programs and contraceptives in school, and you may be able to make arguments about this opposition revolving around issues of control. Their opposition to these programs, however, do not (as far as I can tell, and I've known a lot of anti-choice folks) reveal any secret or hidden truths about their opposition to abortion.
I think it's pretty clear that you're wrong. They think that contraception is wrong. They think it's wrong for the same reason they think abortion is wrong. The fact that they trumpet their movement as being about abortion and saving innocent lives is just a front for what they're really all about which is a specific moral outlook one which, quite frankly, is unable to be satisfied in the political sphere.

Normal people interested in policy have to look at what their goals are and make deals necessary to get their goals through. People interested in better public transit are going to get together with the rail freight industry and "smart growth" developers to create policies that serve both of their interests. Why? Because, presumably, the person who wants better public transit wants that. If it turns out that the person who wants better public transit is actually interested in that because he wants to promote an anti-consumer, anti-development agenda, then any collaboration with the commercial freight industry and real estate developers is going to be anathema to him.

Abortion isn't popular. You can attract support and money and votes by saying you're against abortion. You can't attract those things if you say that contraception is wrong. If you're actually about imposing a moral vision in line with certain fundamentalists and ultra-conservative Catholics, that's not going to be too popular. Nevertheless, it's dishonest to claim that your big issue is abortion and dishonest to prey on the votes and donations of people who support you over that and then actively reject those who are trying to collaborate you on this issue because you actually support a fringe agenda that you're not willing to admit to.
posted by deanc at 3:21 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are you telling me that if you overheard your hypothetical neighbor say that she's going to murder her baby, you wouldn't jump out of your seat and try to do something about it?

Since when has murdering a living breathing baby been a state-sanctioned procedure? The proper way to fight laws we disagree with is through the legislature and democracy. Just like the pro-life movement is doing. I'm sorry that you've bought into the idea violence is the only honest way to fight abortion.

I am well within my rights to tell you to shove your buy-bull up your ass and go back to the 1300s where you belong

Nice talking with you kldickson.
posted by jsonic at 3:22 PM on August 3, 2009


May I ask why?
jsonic: "My comments in this thread aren't about convincing anyone to share my viewpoints."

Are you dodging this question because you know your admitted reasoning is going to be hilariously full of factual errors?
posted by mullingitover at 3:22 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


jsonic: "I'm sorry that you've bought into the idea violence is the only honest way to fight abortion."

Why is it so hard to answer my question? No wait, don't answer that.

Just answer what I asked.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 3:23 PM on August 3, 2009


Anti abortion advocates largely come from the sect of of society that believes the Bible is the actual "living word" of god or what ever, the literal truth etc.

They oppose contraception because of some crap about Onan "spilling his seed."

Even St. Thomas Aquinas wondered when a fetus acquired a soul. But he was a hated catholic so the evangelical movement has no time for his writings.

The movement IS about controlling women, the Bible says that is what to do, you want to go to heaven don't you?
posted by Max Power at 3:24 PM on August 3, 2009


Can we just drop the ridiculous notion that if people *really* thought abortion was murder, they would immediately join the secret underground gun-toting separatist revolutionary anti-abortion people's militia, because they would Have No Other Moral Choice?

There are people who are serious about thinking the death penalty is murder. Or what the army does is murder. Or heck, that eating cows is murder. The vast majority of them agitate for their views in one way or another without joining a secret underground gun-toting separatist revolutionary anti-whatever people's militia.

For that matter, there have been societies where post-birth infanticide was completely accepted practice, and yet there was not rioting in the streets daily by the people who disagreed.

The fact is, you can genuinely think something is a terrible, horrible, crime and *not* immediately join the Wolverines about it -- ESPECIALLY if it is something that is generally common practice in society.

Most people are rational enough to be aware that joining the secret underground gun-toting separatist revolutionary people's militia is not necessarily the best way to effect social change, even if it's something you strongly believe in, particularly if your aim is to swim upstream against society as a whole.

The fact that there is not rioting in the streets daily over abortion does not necessarily mean those who are anti-abortion consider fetuses different from five-year-olds. There would be rioting in the streets over five-year-olds being killed, sure, but ONLY because that is not a socially acceptable practice. Make killing five-year-olds an institution that has been around for a good long time, and you would see a lot of debate, a lot of anger, and a few people blowing up five-year-old-killing stations who would be considered wackos by some and heroes by others.

There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, and disagreement over a fundamental issue can boil over into large scale violence. But how many civil wars have we had over such issues, compared to the number that have changed through large-scale agitation coupled with small-scale violence by groups considered fringe at the time?

Personally, I am pro-choice, and think there are plenty of logical inconsistencies in the arguments of many on the other side, including the death penalty issue that has been raised, which makes me suspect their true dedication to the sanctity of life principle. But saying they are hypocrites because they are not burning down Washington D.C. is a ludicrous argument that does not reflect well on the people who make it. Please stop.
posted by kyrademon at 3:31 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


And this is where the pro-life argument moves from being about "the sanctity of life" towards being about the morality of female sexuality.

Pretty much all sexuality that can result in conception. And I'm suggesting no other morality other than taking responsibility for a choice that invites a specific consequence. And I think I made it pretty clear in my first comment in the thread that I'm aware for many people this is often a proxy fight over sexual freedoms and the extremes that I find problematic, one of which increasingly appears to be your position.
posted by weston at 3:31 PM on August 3, 2009


Goodness. My mistake for thinking that babies are important enough to these people to warrant more than signs and occasional protests in college campuses. Alright, we disagree on just how riled up we'd be on something that "really matters."

*drops subject*
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 3:34 PM on August 3, 2009


Adoption and contraception are VERY MUCH tied to abortion, in that they are additional things to do with a fetus you don't want

Er, not at all. You adopt babies or children, not a foetus, and contraception prevents a foetus from occurring. I'm sure I agree with your general standpoint, but neither of these things have anything to do with the abortion of a foetus; confusing these things is an infuriating mistake often made by anti-choicers. Please don't buy into it (and while I can understand the frustration you feel resulting in "pro-coat-hanger-tards" - please stop).
posted by goo at 3:36 PM on August 3, 2009


What gives?

He's dumb enough to actually make the argument, but smart enough to realize that the argument is logically invalid. Hence this weird combination of being coy and stubborn about it. He wants it to be true, and that's more important to him than whether or not it is true. Common human failing, that.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:44 PM on August 3, 2009


130ish comments ago I noted that I did not expect and answer from jsonic. I guess that was taken as a challenge. Good to know some things never change.
posted by rtha at 3:47 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]



When "the inevitable" happens and I get pregnant, do you seriously think that having sex with my husband is consent to letting another life form inhabit my body and directly endanger my health? Even though I am taking what I consider to be reasonable measure to prevent it?

I think it goes beyond consent and into an invitation. I think it's great that contraception allow people to enjoy sex with statistics on their side if they don't want to conceive. But as long as you're both able to conceive at all, the reasonable measures to prevent it don't change the nature of the act. If you're going to engage in sex that can even possibly result in conception, you should be prepared for the possibility that you are going to be a parent.

Or, I suppose, be faced with the prospect of terminating an incipient human life that you and your partner called into being and therefore reasonably bear responsibility for. Sometimes there may be good reasons to do this, sometimes good people make and even have to make life and death choices.
posted by weston at 3:56 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


130ish comments ago I noted that I did not expect and answer from jsonic

Really? You want me to try and argue Catholic social doctrine and its religious underpinning on Metafilter? You actually think that would be a worthwhile and productive endeavor? You really think it wouldn't just devolve into an angry impedance mismatch as people with fundamentally conflicting worldviews argue with each other?

Have you ever seen a religious debate, especially about the morality of abortion or contraception, go well on Metafilter? I haven't, and I've been here, on both sides at times for quite a while.

All of my comments here have been pointing out the flawed stereotypes, and their associated arguments, used here to caricature those who are pro-life. I'm not starting a debate on subjective/objective morality so that we can all waste our day scoffing at each other.
posted by jsonic at 4:04 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well said jsonic -- I may not agree with you, but it's painfully obvious that you would gain no traction with your arguments here, no matter how well you explain them.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 4:08 PM on August 3, 2009


But you see jsonic, these "flawed stereotypes" you're valiantly crusading against aren't all that inaccurate at all, as you just proved by finally giving us a hint of the reasons behind your dislike of contraceptives (which we all knew would be based in religious doctrine).

People in this thread have been arguing that anti-choicers should logically be for contraceptives if they really cared about stopping abortions as much as they say... instead, the truth as revealed by your own admission, is that in your mind contraceptives and abortions hold some sortof moral equivalence, and this equivalence is a result of what your favored religious doctrine tells you. Seems like most of the "flawed stereotypes" are pretty spot on.
posted by diocletian at 4:11 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Finally the truth comes out! "Because the invisible sky wizard say so. I have no reasonable rationale to offer."

Was that so hard?
posted by mullingitover at 4:17 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Have you ever seen a religious debate, especially about the morality of abortion or contraception, go well on Metafilter?

But this isn't a religious debate. It's about a politics and policy debate. If you're demanding that we make a major legal and policy change on the basis of your religious preferences and then go on to demand that certain policies that would fulfill your preferences be opposed because they interfere with other religious sensibilities that you don't bother to lobby about, then why should we take them seriously when thinking about policy decision?
posted by deanc at 4:17 PM on August 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


*hi5's mullingitover* Fuck yes! He admits his imaginary friend tells him what to think about this issue, whether it be abortion or contraception!

I KNEW he wasn't gonna come right out and say it! Oh, man, he tries to hide all of that in faux attempts to be snarky (for example, responding to my opinion of people who hold their opinions only because of what they think their imaginary friend tells them to do with the miserable attempt at snark of 'nice talking to you, kldickson'.), but oh man oh man oh man he fails. I'm laughing so hard right now.

(come on, folks, let me have a little bit of schadenfreude.)
posted by kldickson at 4:21 PM on August 3, 2009


Speaking as someone who's observed this ungodly pile-on since it started:

JSonic, I have no idea where you're coming from. This has nothing to do with your beliefs on the issue, because quite frankly, I have no idea what those beliefs are. Could you please, please attempt to explain your statements? I'm quite fond of Mefi discussions and it's always great to see somebody outside the echo-chamber. But you're not actually discussing or debating any of the points being raised. For example, you wrote

"I AM here to respond to those strawman arguments used frequently here by those who claim that pro-life people are really only about controlling women. Or that one cannot be pro-life and against contraception without being a hypocrite."

But you haven't actually constructed an argument or made any attempt to refute opposing viewpoints aside from proclaiming them wrong and then complaining about ad hominem attacks (which, I agree with you, are quite uncalled for).

"My comments in this thread aren't a discourse on why contraception is right/wrong, rather, its to respond to those who think that one can't be against both without being a hypocrite."

Again, you haven't actually responded to these claims in any meaningful way aside from just saying that they're wrong. Why are they wrong?


"That pops up in almost every abortion thread. PopeGuilty and Avenger claiming that the only way to be truly pro-life is to want to murder those who perform abortions. It's quite disturbing that people think that makes any sense at all."


Why is it disturbing? You clearly believe that being pro-life is not about punishing women. What is it about, then? I'm not saying everyone you're arguing with is right, but you're not providing any sort of alternative. Showing up periodically to reject the majority opinion without giving any reason, rationale, or justification is about as productive as Kidickson's ad hominems.
posted by Ndwright at 4:23 PM on August 3, 2009


deanc, right-wingers make the mistake of thinking the personal is political.
posted by kldickson at 4:25 PM on August 3, 2009


Really? You want me to try and argue Catholic social doctrine and its religious underpinning on Metafilter?

No, actually, not really - I've been around long enough to know what happens around here in these kinds of posts.

But does Catholic doctrine really argue against science-based sex education? Still? Friends of mine who went to Catholic schools (though not Catholic themselves) were generally given pretty decent sex ed, if I recall, not the nonsense-based "abstinence" variety so favored by many social and religious conservatives.

I don't really expect an answer here, either.

Using religion as a basis for public health policy does shitty things to both. France - a (nominally) Catholic country - has a much, much lower abortion and teen pregnancy rate than the U.S. Know why? Because their public health policy is based on sciencey things, not religious things. The outcome? Fewer abortions. Sounds like a good thing to me.
posted by rtha at 4:29 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Finally the truth comes out! "Because the invisible sky wizard say so. I have no reasonable rationale to offer."

A) It's not exactly a secret, especially in abortion threads, that I have a religious background.
B) You are making the flawed assumption that Catholic social doctrine only makes religious assertions, and has no secular practical arguments in support of its positions.
C) The sky-wizard talk is exactly why I don't start these subjective/objective morality arguments in the first place.

is that in your mind contraceptives and abortions hold some sortof moral equivalence

Where did I say that? You're projecting a stereotype again.

But this isn't a religious debate. It's about a politics and policy debate.

This is a common misconception on Metafilter. That people are only allowed to participate in politics if their motivation and opinions are completely devoid of religious influence. Luckily, that's not the case, nor is it supported by the 1st Ammendment.
posted by jsonic at 4:31 PM on August 3, 2009


I didn't read all the comments this time (yay me!) so I don't know if someone has pointed this out already, but the comments directly above give me an idea this hasn't been addressed:

As far as I have known the pro-life argument against contraception is because it still potentially involves a fertilized egg (ie the pill won't let a fertilized egg implant) and thus is still killing a potential child.

The only moral way to prevent pregnancy is to not have intercourse.

/not my views
posted by smartypantz at 4:31 PM on August 3, 2009


This is a common misconception on Metafilter. That people are only allowed to participate in politics if their motivation and opinions are completely devoid of religious influence. Luckily, that's not the case, nor is it supported by the 1st Ammendment.

I disagree with you generally (as far as the discussion in this thread), but I have to agree with that last comment. It's frequently the case that threads like this wind up becoming "Let's see how high we can pile up our mountain of contempt, outrage, and opprobrium." That may be partly because it's a reflection of how divisive and polarized issues like this have become.

On the other hand, I will also say it's my belief that Metafilter is not alone in this kind of behavior, and in fact, strives for the most part not to contribute to it, which is one reason I'm still here after as many years as I've been here.

If I were to drop in on a forum frequented by evangelicals and/or hardline orthodox Catholics and espouse my own beliefs about certain hot-button social issues and invoke the First Amendment, I can virtually guarantee you that my reception there would be far more hateful and inconsiderate than your reception has been in this thread.
posted by blucevalo at 4:43 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


jsonic: "This is a common misconception on Metafilter. That people are only allowed to participate in politics if their motivation and opinions are completely devoid of religious influence. Luckily, that's not the case, nor is it supported by the 1st Ammendment."

We're not talking about participating in politics, we're talking about participating in debate. This debate isn't about religion. So you're perfectly welcome to bring whatever nonsense you like to the debate, per the 1st Ammendment [sic] that you cite, but we're equally free to mock you for bringing watered-down yoohoo to a chocolate milk contest.
posted by mullingitover at 4:43 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


That people are only allowed to participate in politics if their motivation and opinions are completely devoid of religious influence.

No, people are only allowed to participate in politics in America if they can prove they have an attachment to a specific narrow range of religious influences. But then, it's the same thing they do in Iran, just with less openness.

I rely on "anti-religious" sources for facts because religious-based sources are inherently inaccurate and misleading because of their reliance on anything "faith-based". Faith-based means relying on things they can NEVER prove (often because they've already been disproven).
posted by wendell at 4:47 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


per the 1st Ammendment [sic] that you cite

I wasn't talking about the free-speech part.
posted by jsonic at 4:47 PM on August 3, 2009


If I were to drop in on a forum frequented by evangelicals and/or hardline orthodox Catholics and espouse my own beliefs about certain hot-button social issues and invoke the First Amendment, I can virtually guarantee you that my reception there would be far more hateful and inconsiderate than your reception has been in this thread.

I'd fear for my life if I were ever foolish enough to comment in some faith-friendly (i.e. fact-hostile). I'm already getting subtle death threats from the #tcot faction in the 'open to all' Twitter.
posted by wendell at 4:50 PM on August 3, 2009


jsonic, this word "stereotype"... I don't think it means quite what you think it means. You have made it clear numerous times in this thread that you think contraceptives are morally wrong in a similar way to abortion, if a "lesser" evil. You need to stop playing the poor "stereotyped" victim card, it does not accurately describe the way this thread has been going (excepting a few ill-advised ad-hominem attacks, which many in this thread have said they do not condone).
posted by diocletian at 4:50 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've gotten #tcot hate messages too, wendell. It's pretty scary.
posted by blucevalo at 4:52 PM on August 3, 2009


It's not all about jsonic. It's not about why he holds his beliefs. It's not about him at all.

It is about how pro-life's stated anti-abortion stance can conflict with their unstated anti-contraception stance (typically partially derived from anti-pre-marital sex stances). These unstated stances have a real affect on how pro-life advocacy groups will support politicians and policies that don't have an obvious link to abortion at all. It can also mean that those with these stances aren't interested in compromise.
posted by garlic at 4:54 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


this word "stereotype"... I don't think it means quite what you think it means.

Actually, it does. The most egregious being the insistence that pro-life people's true, secret, motivation is the enslavement of women.
posted by jsonic at 4:54 PM on August 3, 2009


That may be partly because it's a reflection of how divisive and polarized issues like this have become.

Or it might be a reflection on how sick the sane are with the fuckers who keep trying to drag us back into a society where women are chattel.

Religious belief has no place in defining law.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:56 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not all about jsonic. It's not about why he holds his beliefs. It's not about him at all.

For a thread that's not about jsonic at all, this thread's spending a lot of time engaging, or more accurately not engaging, with jsonic.
posted by blucevalo at 4:59 PM on August 3, 2009


five fresh fish : moral positions do have place in defining law.
posted by garlic at 5:03 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is the 21st century, not the 1300s. Women and men are equals, and everybody, regardless of race, sexual orientation, sex, etc. etc. etc. - things that don't reflect on their sanity, intelligence, wisdom, or compassion - has the right to achieve to the best of their abilities.

We have, fortunately, made considerable progress since those dark times, and nobody has the right to pull our forward-moving civilization BACKWARDS.
posted by kldickson at 5:08 PM on August 3, 2009


And everybody also has the right to control their own reproduction. For example, I don't want kids. Ergo, I'm getting my tubes tied as soon as I'm able.

It's better for me, it's better for society in that there'll be less unwanted kids, and it's better for the Earth in that there won't be one more person using its resources.
posted by kldickson at 5:09 PM on August 3, 2009


The most egregious being the insistence that pro-life people's true, secret, motivation is the enslavement of women.

Some pro-lifers have that 'secret motivation'. Some pro-lifers are very open about that motivation. Some pro-lifers do not have that motivation at all, but their actions help empower the two other groups.

And the characterization of the "only for procreation" Catholic stance on sex as "enslavement of women" is not totally inaccurate, but again, those who don't have it as a motivation are empowering those who do.
posted by wendell at 5:10 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


For a thread that's not about jsonic at all, this thread's spending a lot of time engaging, or more accurately not engaging, with jsonic.
posted by blucevalo at 4:59 PM on August 3 [+] [!]


I don't understand this. Why are we not supposed to engage with jsonic? That's what this discussion is all about, trying to figure out why people hold the positions that they do, and if possible try to influence each other's positions with rational debate. This thread is entirely about jsonic, and others like him, just as it's about me, and everyone else in the thread.
posted by diocletian at 5:14 PM on August 3, 2009


And jsonic, like other 'faith-based' humans is not going to see the error of his ways from arguing with him. If he ever sees the error, it will because 'his God' will turn against him in ways that the cognitive dissonance of his beliefs will become unsustainable. Of course, like many others, he may just hop over to the 'protection' of a different version of God.
posted by wendell at 5:14 PM on August 3, 2009


We have, fortunately, made considerable progress since those dark times

If you walked into a bar where nearly everyone was glaring at a couple of people and a few of them were shouting epithets and calling names at one in particular, what sort of conclusions would you be likely to draw about which of the parties were enlightened?
posted by Pragmatica at 5:19 PM on August 3, 2009


That's what this discussion is all about, trying to figure out why people hold the positions that they do, and if possible try to influence each other's positions with rational debate

If only it were so :)

And jsonic, like other 'faith-based' humans is not going to see the error of his ways from arguing with him

Another projection. Maybe a good rule of thumb is: stop assuming that you know what other people are really thinking. And if that's your motivation when posting a comment, then don't.
posted by jsonic at 5:21 PM on August 3, 2009


jsonic, please tell us, what DO you really think?
posted by kldickson at 5:24 PM on August 3, 2009


jsonic: for the record, I am a Christian, and my church's doctrine has a rule that members of our church may not marry non-Christians. On the other hand, I do not think it helps anyone to demand that the government change its laws on civil marriage to reflect my church's doctrines regarding which people of which religion can get married to whom.

Likewise, if your religious beliefs compel you to oppose the legalization of abortion, then bully for you, but don't expect a non-Catholic, non-fundamentalist country to go along with your other fringe beliefs about contraception. If contraception is against your personal/religious beliefs, then great: go with that, but if you're going to get political about abortion and contraception, go whole hog-- don't get indignant about legal abortion but keep quiet about contraception. Put all your cards on the table and say what you mean-- that you want abortion and contraception to be illegal, full stop. Otherwise, the pro-life movement (and the pro-choicers) are just wasting their time trying to talk about "the sanctity of life" and "reducing abortions" when that's not what you're interested in at all.
posted by deanc at 5:26 PM on August 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


jsonic, please tell us, what DO you really think?

I think unborn children deserve human rights, specifically the right to life. It's not their fault that they are unwanted or unintended.

Put all your cards on the table and say what you mean-- that you want abortion and contraception to be illegal, full stop.

Another projection. Where did I call for making contraception illegal? I'm specifically against abortion because I think it kills a human being.
posted by jsonic at 5:32 PM on August 3, 2009


You said you thought contraception was wrong.
posted by kldickson at 5:34 PM on August 3, 2009


This, of course, raises the question of whether the thing is alive or not or a separate human, and unfortunately it may be totally worthless to get you to even consider anything beyond what your imaginary friend tells you when in fact the science says it is considerably more complex.
posted by kldickson at 5:36 PM on August 3, 2009


It isn't the woman's fault she's pregnant, either, if she took reasonable precautions or if she was raped.
posted by kldickson at 5:39 PM on August 3, 2009


What I'm trying to get at, jsonic, and what you're trying to avoid, is that the important thing in any political policy issue is the reality that both sides are inevitably going to try to find common ground. The best thing to do, if you're arguing in good faith is to be up front about what common ground is available and what isn't. If you think abortion is a tragedy and that abortion is the killing of innocent life, then people who disagree with you on the legality of abortion are going to try to seek common ground with you by saying, "well, I don't think abortion should be illegal, but maybe those who feel otherwise would be happier if there were fewer abortions, so let's pursue policies that will accomplish that." If you then turn around and say, "well, that's not enough. I wouldn't support those policies at all," then it is becoming clear that pro-lifers who are gathering supporters based on their "respect for life" and need to "protect innocent life" aren't arguing in good faith, because what they're really interested in is a set of lefal issues surrounding sex and procreation.

If you're worried about the "termination of innocent life," then people are going to discuss solutions with you based on that assumption. If your real issues are that you think that the Catholic and fundamentalist protestant views about contraception should be implement in law and public policy, then you're being dishonest when you're not upfront about this.

Moderates and liberals have for decades operated under the assumption that pro-lifers were concerned with reducing abortion. If this is all about some kind of issues about how you think public policy should reflect your beliefs about sexual morals and contraception, then you're being dishonest when you're making this about abortion.
posted by deanc at 5:39 PM on August 3, 2009 [12 favorites]


Calling anti-choice "pro-life" is framing the topic in their worldview and automagically winning the argument.

"Pro-life" is an expression that contains their propaganda, as who would want to be anti-life, right? It would be consistent if they went vegan, anti-war and anti-corporal punishment, but as it is, it's not. War kills lots and lots of pregnant mothers and babies, no? Same for artificial poverty in Africa, South America, Asia and everywhere with sweatshops.

I would love to see Pro Life with integrity behind it. As it's stands right now, it's Anti-choice, backed by religious bigotry.

More on framing here.
posted by andreinla at 5:51 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hey, kidickson, if you're posting four comments in a row you're too heavily invested in a thread. You might want to step away from the keyboard for a bit.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:56 PM on August 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Why do fetuses deserve special rights, beyond basic human rights, to impose on another person's body?

If I have a diseased liver, I don't have a right to force you to have surgery to give me part of your liver.

It's also true, in many jurisdictions, that if you come across a drowning stranger -- even an unknown child drowning in a puddle of water -- you have no legal duty to help the stranger.

But. If you bump a person into a pond, you do have a duty to try to save them. And if it's your child drowning in a puddle, you have a duty to save them.

Advanced pregnancy -- where what has taken residence can be called a "person" (I'm not going to address when I think that is, as I don't think it's relevant to the argument you're making, but let's say it at least includes a fetus at 37 weeks) -- is somewhere in between. It was brought into its current situation by something the host did -- not something morally wrong, in the same way that bumping somebody into a pond by accident is not morally wrong either. And it's something that's connected to the host by biological relation.

So, no, your analogy to someone who needs an organ to live is not sound, and there's no need to bring any moral dimension to the act of having sex to make it unsound.
posted by palliser at 5:58 PM on August 3, 2009


Oh, and your religious views are not really yours. They are indoctrination. It sucks to have your indoctrinated parents and pastors do the same to you, but that's is how it's done. What you believe in depends in what "territory of religious influence" you were born in and not your own choice, or personal discovery of your own divinity.

If you were born somewhere else you could be Muslim instead of Christian or

This covers most of us, with some exceptions of course.

If you grew up in the "Red" side of the Iron Curtain in the last 30-40 years, chances are religion had it's iron grip somewhat weakened. Unfortunately replaced by commie brainwashing... which is still better than religion because it doesn't taint children's relationship with divinity, just demands that it doesn't exist. Yes, that's way better than perverting it.

It's disgusting to see how "the word of god" is given through manipulation, lies, cruelty and psychological and physical torture.
posted by andreinla at 6:02 PM on August 3, 2009


But there are no laws obliging a parent to donate blood, or an organ, or bone marrow to their own children. (You can add "even at significant risk to their own life" if you refuse a health of the mother exception to abortion.) If mothers have this special obligation to allow their children to live off their bodies, why does it end at birth?
posted by jeather at 6:04 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


But there are no laws obliging a parent to donate blood, or an organ, or bone marrow to their own children.

There are two aspects to the duties imposed by advanced pregnancy: that the host put the fetus in the situation, and that the host is biologically related to the fetus. You're only addressing the second, (IMO) weaker aspect, in your analogy.
posted by palliser at 6:16 PM on August 3, 2009


I respect the hell out of those trying to debate, reason with, and understand jsonic. How many posts will it take that the religious right are immune to reason. They only understand fear. Fear of their god, fear of the Other, fear of not fitting into the hierarchy their little worldview has created.

Stop trying to reason with them (which I think implies that you're trying to convert them to sensible thinking.) It will not work.

It will not work. Progress has been made universally NOT by trying to get the brain-dead bigots to see the error of their ways and the inconsistencies in their belief but by ignoring them, letting them die out, and focusing on educating and improving the lives of others who are not trying to fight us every step of the way.

jsonic and his (her?) ilk are irrelevant. MLK wrote " . . . the arc of a moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Change WILL come, but not by trying to get the idiots onto our progressive side.

Just my $.02. God, I've become a curmudgeon.
posted by John of Michigan at 6:24 PM on August 3, 2009


Just for the sake of arguing the side I don't necessarily support...

I can see where Christo-religious types could extend Jesus' words about "doing unto the least of these, you also do unto me" into the womb and including the unborn amongst "the least".

But I'd want to see those same people working three or four times as hard to create equity for the already born who find themselves without clothes, food, justice.

Placing undue emphasis on potential life while allowing the lives which already exist seems to be misinterpreting the words of the man who was supposed to utter them at the time. Because I don't see much in the red letters of my Bible which speak about the unborn, but I see plenty which speak about making sure that those who are already here live a life of dignity and without want.
posted by hippybear at 6:29 PM on August 3, 2009


Hrm. missing a phrase there... "while allowing the lives which already exist to languish", that should read.
posted by hippybear at 6:30 PM on August 3, 2009


What bothers me the most about the pro-life movement is that the bulk of supporters are pro-cutting the funding for social programs and welfare and pro building jails and the death penalty.

So after these babies are forced onto parents who don't want them, can't afford them, or are otherwise unprepared for them? The pro-life movement washes their hands of these kids, setting them up for failure, and then gladly steps in to cage and murder them.

That's what it means to be pro-life? Really?

This is why I'm pro-choice.
posted by FunkyHelix at 6:44 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


anti-choice crowd

According to the Gallup poll last May, 42% of Americans now call themselves "pro-choice", 51% "pro-life".

It's clearly true that many "pro-life" people also share a set of Puritanical and even anti-feminist beliefs. Perhaps even most of them do.

It's clearly false to assume, based on the fanaticism of their loudest subset, that all of the opinions and motivations of a hundred-million people in the "anti-choice crowd" can be lumped together.

Hell, it's even a basic logical fallacy to assume that the world divides neatly up into the two categories of "opposes contraception" and "opposes all government restrictions on abortion". 23% of Americans say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. I know some of them who use contraception; I don't know any of them who would criminalize it. 22% of Americans say abortion should be legal under any circumstances. Are the 15% "legal under most circumstances" and 37% "legal only in a few circumstances" folks part of your "anti-choice crowd" stereotype or not? Based on the math (these numbers are all from the same Gallup survey), at least a few percent of the "in a few circumstances" group still calls themselves "pro-choice".

And what about the former group? When 72% of women and 58% of men tell the LA Times that abortion should not be legal after the first trimester, is that because 72% of women want to control women? Or could it be that jsonic is right and you're attacking a strawman which represents a minority of people who hold one of the range of positions you disagree with?

Is it too much to ask that, when we ostensibly are talking about what motivates people to think the way they do, we at least look at how people really think? The plural of "anecdote" is not "data", and the data say that you're oversimplifying reality to a ludicrous level. I'll bet I can guess what the motivation for that is... but if one of the millions of people who disagree with you wants to tell you why, wouldn't it be more productive to listen to him instead of finding over-the-top reasons to tell him what he must really think and how horrible he is?

Eh, but maybe calling for peace is just me speaking from selfish motivations too. I think abortion looks like a continuum between "no worse than clipping a hangnail" at the blastocyst side and "no different from infanticide" at the viable fetus side. Pretty much anyone who strongly self-identifies as "pro-choice" or "pro-life" thinks I'm a jackass...
posted by roystgnr at 6:47 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pro-life people (some/most?) consider both to be wrong. In effect, you're asking them to promote a lesser-evil in order to avoid a greater-evil, and then acting like doing this is obviously the correct behavior.

You have this backwards, though.

If you're willing to tolerate some level of Evil A in order to avoid committing, condoning, or encouraging Evil B, that only makes sense if Evil A is the lesser evil, not Evil B.

If you insist that the evil that I can empirically observer that you do tolerate is worse than the evil you refuse to compromise on, that only reveals that you are literally irrational.

For instance: torture. Is it ok to physically harm one person (lesser-evil) in order avoid a terrorist attack that would kill thousands (greater-evil). If I think that both acts are morally wrong, should I compromise and say that the torture is justified in order to avoid the mass-killing? I don't think so.

This is a good example. I think most people who oppose torture even if it worked would agree that they do so because a program of torturing people is worse than being the victim of the terrorist attacks it purports to prevent. As well, most people who are opposed to torture would not accept your given that it will save any lives at all, but generally believe it to be wholly ineffective at eliciting the revelation of actionable information.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:48 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The parents put the child in the position of being alive and needing certain biological support from their parents. Not on purpose necessarily: people get pregnant accidentally, and no one deliberately destroys their child's kidneys, for instance. I don't agree that they're different: the parents either have to give their children life-sustaining support from their own bodies or not.

But let's pretend they're different. Let's imagine, instead, someone who is driving drunk, runs a light and smashes into a child. Their own, if it's necessary in the thought experiment, though again I don't think it is. They are still not legally obliged to donate a kidney, even though they put the child in that position, nor does anyone suggest they should be legally obliged to.

Only pregnant women should have this legal requirement to support their children using their own body, even to the detriment of their health (and certainly risking it, as a pregnancy is not less risky than an abortion). This is a very odd, very arbitrary line to draw.
posted by jeather at 6:48 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


So after these babies are forced onto parents who don't want them, can't afford them, or are otherwise unprepared for them? The pro-life movement washes their hands of these kids, setting them up for failure, and then gladly steps in to cage and murder them.

That's what it means to be pro-life? Really?
To a degree, when pro-life activists say they want "pro-life politicians" and "pro-life judges" and such, they're not really concerned about the number of abortions or anything like that. What they want is an acknowledgement of their culture and beliefs in the public sphere. When liberals try to "seek common ground," they're making a fundamental mistake in trying to understand what pro-lifers want. They don't want policies to reduce abortion. They want their beliefs and their culture validated. Saying "we can encourage the use of contraception to reduce unwanted pregnancies, so abortions never have the opportunity to occur" isn't helping them validate their culture and beliefs. Saying "I support making abortion illegal" shows "respect." Saying, "let's implement these policies that will reduce abortion" shows "I'm not going to conform to your belief system," which is considered an insult.
posted by deanc at 6:53 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


[A couple comments removed. Folks need to cool it in general, and kldickson, you may want to go for a walk or something, because you're being way too aggressively combative in here.]
posted by cortex at 6:54 PM on August 3, 2009


This is a very odd, very arbitrary line to draw.

It's hard for me to take this statement seriously, when in order to come up with a comparison that sits on the same side of the line with abortion of an advanced pregnancy, you had to imagine parents! driving drunk! and hitting their own child! who then needs a kidney! but they won't give it! and they won't go to jail for it!

And in fact, if a parent were a match and donated a kidney, saving the child's life, they would avoid a serious legal consequence, as they could no longer be charged with homicide.

There's nothing odd or arbitrary about drawing a line at abortion of an advanced pregnancy. The ethical principles involved are applied to other situations, with similar results, as I've been trying to use examples to show.
posted by palliser at 7:19 PM on August 3, 2009


Sorry -- said "similar," meant "consistent."
posted by palliser at 7:23 PM on August 3, 2009


Or, I suppose, be faced with the prospect of terminating an incipient human life that you and your partner called into being and therefore reasonably bear responsibility for. Sometimes there may be good reasons to do this, sometimes good people make and even have to make life and death choices.

Belatedly, this is what I mentioned earlier -- this sense that having an abortion is somehow rejecting the taking of responsibility for a child. It isn't. It is taking responsibility for an unwanted pregnancy. and it's not an easy choice to make. Forcing an unwanted child upon a parent because her birth control failed is not forcing her to take responsibility, it is, instead, removing her ability to take responsibility, by removing her ability to make a responsible decision as to what the best course of action is.

This is precisely why it sounds like pro-lifers want to punish women for having sex. Because they talk like they think women who have abortions are irresponsible, and want to force them to have babies against there will, as though these unwanted children are the punishment for irresponsibility.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:31 PM on August 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


It's funny how these abortion threads seem to end up being about one person.
posted by agregoli at 7:51 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


The only moral way to prevent pregnancy is to not have intercourse.

If the anti-abortion people are so opposed to contraception, they should be spending more time promoting the pleasures of oral and anal sex.

I bet that'd work.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:14 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Palliser, the line I am talking about isn't where in pregnancy abortion should be legal but why it is only that pregnant women owe their children their bodies: fathers never do, and mothers stop as soon as they give birth. This is weird. Either parents have some sort of responsibility to risk their health for their children's lives or they don't.

The drunk driving idea is that, well, pregnant women put the fetus in the situation, and presumably the parents of a child with advanced organ failure didn't cause the organ failure. So: what would happen if they did? Or if someone else did, as I don't think that biological relatedness is the issue. (Unless, of course, you're okay with aborting only those pregnancies which use donor eggs.)

Parents, or drunk drivers, or failed murderers, or whoever caused the damage might *choose* to donate [whatever] in order to avoid heartbreak or a homicide charge, but there is no law forcing them to.
posted by jeather at 8:22 PM on August 3, 2009


Palliser, the line I am talking about isn't where in pregnancy abortion should be legal but why it is only that pregnant women owe their children their bodies ...but also legal responsibility for the child for 18 years after birth, and then, culturally, more the mother than the father.

That is why I consider it a model of GOOD BEHAVIOR for a newly unplanned pregnant woman to seriously assess if she is ready to take on all 18 years and 9 months of responsibility and if she has a REASONABLE DOUBT, to abort the fetus as soon as possible before it develops much cell differentiation. Because a cluster of undifferentiated cells in the uterus should have no more "rights" than a blood sample, regardless of its 'unique' DNA mix. But a woman who declares within a reasonable doubt in a reasonable time with reasonable information to carry the fetus to term should be held to that decision.

But then, I'm totally out of step with everything.
posted by wendell at 8:41 PM on August 3, 2009


Is it too much to ask that, when we ostensibly are talking about what motivates people to think the way they do, we at least look at how people really think?

This. THIS. Seriously - without taking a stance on the relative positions being discussed, I would ask those people who are so dismissive of religion to look around at their fellow citizens. For those who live in America - there are a lot of people who disagree with you. Many, many people place a lot of value on their faith, and for many people this shapes their opinions on difficult issues like abortion. Lots of people favor restricting abortion after the first trimester. Why is this, do you think? It must feel very rewarding to think that you are more enlightened that most, that those who disagree with you are backwards, illiterate, brainwashed, etc. Sorry, but this is (probably) not the case.

Coming late to this thread, even being a long-time reader of this site, it is amazing to see just how one-sided the conversation is, and how poorly some people communicate. I agree with some who have criticized jsonic's refusal to be more open about his opinions, but he has been civil throughout even when faced with overwhelming disagreement and insults. I'm glad there are people like him around providing the opposite view because otherwise this would be a very boring place.
posted by chos at 8:46 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Abortion, homosexuality and evolution are huge hot-button issues for practioners of The American Religion for one simple reason: banging on about it distracts and excuses them from having to perform actual Christianity, which is embarrassing, expensive, difficult, time-consuming, and blatantly contrary to every single thing the Republican Party stands for.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:49 PM on August 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


I wonder what it must have been like to live in 1859. The world of 2009 must have been completely and utterly unimaginable! Who would have thought in 1859 that the USA would have a black President 150 years later, or that so many de facto and de jure barriers to racial equality would have been torn down! What extraordinary progress we have made in the last century and a half, and how utterly unpredictable the many social and legal changes that led to it have been!

I think it is fair to say that, in the world of 1859, John Brown probably looked down at the average citizen. Brown had been radicalized by the extraordinary evil of slavery, and he probably found it almost incomprehensible that others hadn't been. But I wonder if there is any defense of the average citizen here. Are we all obliged to be John Brown? Are we all obliged to be radicalized and violent in defense of our political goals? Is it possible to be sane and ethical and not be John Brown? Slavery is, to say the least, an indefensible horror. (Although presumably, 150 years ago, plenty of people disagreed.) In 1859, were there other horrors? Today, are there any? Am I allowed to be a bourgeois citizen with views about what is right and wrong, but only spend a little time on political action? Or must I pick one cause, become radicalized, and devote my life to leading a murderous assault on whatever today passes for Harper's Ferry?

I admit to some sympathy for what we (perhaps misleadingly) call the 'pro-life' view. But even if we concede that abortion is in some ways a horror, must I be John Brown? That seems to be what some commenters demand, but I reject it. Other commenters demand that I, or others, spell out all the answers to the questions that my sympathy creates. I don't know that I have to do that. I don't even know that I can. All I know is that the world of 1859 is very different from the world of 2009, and that a culture that respects 'pro-life' values will be very different from the world we live in today -- in a fashion that is difficult or impossible to predict.

I don't write this to evade questions -- although let me apologize in advance for not staying put and answering any; I am skeptical that we change each others' minds on fundamental questions via Metafilter message board -- but only to say that a world that respects any rights of tiny little babies (pre-babies?) is probably going to be stranger and more different than we can imagine. That doesn't mean that we should just dismiss this world as an unachievable possibility. Perhaps it does mean that the actual, particular instantiation of progressive cultural changes may surprise each one of us at some point. It's only from the prospect of the future that past progress appears inevitable. If we had Internet discussion boards in 1859, I'm sure there would have been lively debates over slavery. Think of the debates over self-determination that the antebellum Internet would have seen! In my imagination, they seem curiously similar to this one.

Getting rid of slavery was obviously extraordinarily costly in every sense. Somehow, we managed it.

I loved how one of the commenters just above quoted MLK, who said "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I hope that is true.
posted by Mr. Justice at 8:59 PM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


any, many people place a lot of value on their faith, and for many people this shapes their opinions on difficult issues like abortion. Lots of people favor restricting abortion after the first trimester.

I suppose the frustration is that in the fact that the pro-choice position allows them to have their opinion. If they think abortion is immoral and murder, they never need have one. And yet their position restricts the choice of people who do not share their religious viewpoints, subtracting the liberty of pregnant women to come to their own reasoned conclusions that disagree with a religious doctrine that may have a lot of popular support, but is hardly the sort of thing that should be dictating law.

It's awfully hard to respect somebody else when they are simultaneously trying to limit your ability to make their own complicated life choices while also complaining that they are somehow being oppressed because they are no allowed to dictate morality and law to those who disagree.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:17 PM on August 3, 2009 [16 favorites]


Abortion, homosexuality and evolution are huge hot-button issues for practioners of The American Religion for one simple reason: banging on about it distracts and excuses them from having to perform actual Christianity

there was a ~very~ conservative state senator/representative from Michigan who had a great quote similar to this, but for the life of me I can't google it no more.
posted by @troy at 9:20 PM on August 3, 2009


chos I would ask those people who are so dismissive of religion to look around at their fellow citizens.
Generally speaking religion is a reasonable enough thing to do, as long as it creates social cohesion and promotes relatively sociable behavior, but it doesn't make for good policy.

Sound policy derives from four questions: (1) What--as clearly as possible--is it that we want to achieve? (2) Why do we want to achieve it? (3) What will happen if it is achieved? (4) What can we do to achieve it?

Religious answers to these questions seem to be, broadly speaking: assertions of authority rather than clear intentions, remonstrations against questioners, defiant refusal to consider any consequences or interactions of the consequences of other desires, and unclear plans that mostly come down to yelling a lot and forcing people to participate in rituals that the religious are equally reluctant to subject to any questions about their real effects.

I don't "dismiss religion", I dismiss stupidity. If jsonic's religion is indistinguishable from stupidity, that's his problem, not mine. If he or any of his fellow travellers were prepared to step up to the responsibility of actually thinking through what it is they want to do, why they want to do it, what will happen if is done, and what they can actually do to make it happen - then it wouldn't be stupid any more, would it? But so far he fails on all counts.

Jsonic:
(1) What do you want people to actually do, or not do, with regard to having sex, the use of contraception, and in the course of pregancies which are unwanted by the pregnant woman? Which people in particular do you want to do this?
(2) Can you provide any sound and sensible reason as to why these people should do so, ie what they will gain, or fail to lose, thereby? Compare this to what they will lose, or fail to gain, from obedience to your plan.
(3) What will be the effect on those people who adopt your plan, on those who resist it, on those (if any) who are outside your "constituency"? How do separate directives within your plan interact with each other, ie do any of them make other ones impossible to perform?
(4) Given the current state of social attitudes and behaviors, by what means do you propose that people--whether by stick, carrot or both--be moved towards adoption of your preferred plan?

If you wanted to be taken seriously, formulating some sensible answer (not necessarily for me, or for MetaFilter, but at the very least for yourself) to these questions would be a good start on a long road.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:25 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


To say that a world that respects any rights of tiny little babies (pre-babies?) is probably going to be stranger and more different than we can imagine. That doesn't mean that we should just dismiss this world as an unachievable possibility.

Mr. Justice, we've been aborting "tiny little babies" for millennia. (You do know that abortions don't affect babies per se, right, but rather tiny, often microscopic, collections of cells than cannot live outside a woman's womb? I mean, you do know that, right, and are not just using that particular term to appeal to emotion?) Abortifacients precede the Roman Empire. In fact, Jesus would've known all about them. Yet I can't seem to find a line in the New Testament--y'know, all the important shit that's written in red--that says, basically, "Hey, off that abortion nonsense. It makes Me sad."

So, why, 150 years from now, would people suddenly say, "Erm, we should stop abortions?"

Comparing slavery to abortions doesn't make sense: Slaves were human beings that had been born. Abortions affect embryos only. No similarities at all. At all.

Against abortions? Don't have one or wear a rubber. That's all there is to it.
posted by John of Michigan at 9:34 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


@John of Michigan: if you are familiar with the debates over slavery prior to the Civil War, you have likely seen the following pro-slavery arguments.

1. We've had slavery for thousands of years. Indeed, it's a pillar of civilization!
2. Slavery is biblically justified.
3. People in the future will laugh at abolitionists.
4. Slavery is justified because blacks and whites are fundamentally different and have different natures.
5. Against slavery? Fine, don't own any slaves.

Whether there is similarity between the arguments you make and the pro-slavery arguments of the 19th century is an exercise that I will leave for you.
posted by Mr. Justice at 9:43 PM on August 3, 2009


Whether there is similarity between the arguments you make and the pro-slavery arguments of the 19th century is an exercise that I will leave for you.

Thank you. There is none, but for a glib and facile comparison of forced similarities, and the only reason such a parallel would be given a moment's thought, I suspect, is because it manages to link abortion to something that is widely recognized as a great social evil, and therefore damns it as being similar.

But you can condemn anything by parallel. People with teeth: Very similar to vampires, who likewise have teeth. Also, both are humanoid and a percentage of both gave Romanian accents. Whether there is a similarity between vampires and people is an exercise that I will leave to you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:51 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


@AZ: those are interesting points. I am aware that everything is similar to everything else in certain respects, and everything is different from everything else in certain respects. But if you really think there is no similarity between John's arguments and the pro-slavery arguments I made, I'm going to respectfully suggest that you read his post more carefully!

One virtue of studying history is that you get a little perspective on things. Do you really think that slavery was "widely recognized as a great social evil" in 1859? The answer is "yes and no," right?

My own opinion is that there is a possibility of moral progress and social change that we should attend to for all these controversial issues. I hope that's uncontroversial. I imagine we can all agree that the average citizen of 2159 is going to see things very differently than you and I do. I hope we'd also agree that this has some interesting implications for our own views.
posted by Mr. Justice at 10:10 PM on August 3, 2009


My point is that discussion of slavery has no real bearing here. You know what was also a popular opinion back then? That abortions should be illegal. And slaveholders often held that view! Hey! How about that!
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:15 PM on August 3, 2009


Did you guys figure it all out yet?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:18 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Damn it, I turn my back for two minutes . . . .

Okay, you look at the similarities. Beautiful. But the one big difference is this: Slavery affected the already born. African men, women, and children. Already out of the womb, breathing, living, chattel of someone else. Embryos can't live by themselves. At all. Ever.

Now, the similarities are there. Sure. People can have the SAME types of feelings, and use the same justifications, for different situations. But the fact remains that slaves and embroyos are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.

If it makes you feel better, I support setting the embryos free. Let them live free from the tyranny of the mother.

(Also, I'm still waiting to find some shit in red from the New Testament where Jesus--who would in all probability have known about abortions--said "Hey, knock it off." Why did Jesus hate the cute little babies?)
posted by John of Michigan at 10:22 PM on August 3, 2009


Did you guys figure it all out yet?

Ordinarily, I consider myself a pretty smart guy, but I went to a friend's house tonight, and she served 40-oz beers. Forty ounces. In one bottle. Can you imagine that?

Needless to say, I had several.

So, if I had all my senses, I probably could explain the best position (Against abortion? Don't have one, or just wear a rubber!) so that everyone, ignorant and liberal alike, would be together sitting down, singing Kumbaya AND hosannas, but, you see, I'm just stupid drunk. Sorryl
posted by John of Michigan at 10:26 PM on August 3, 2009


five fresh fish : moral positions do have place in defining law.

That they do, my friend.

I believe the correct moral position is that of "least harm." And when you look at actual facts, which are very inconvenient for the radical religionists, society actually does better when access to abortion is certain, and sex education — honest and informative — is provided. It's a one-two punch to abortion rates.

The radical religionists are choosing an immoral position: that of choosing to not do the least harm. They do it on Righteous Faith, somehow Knowing His Ineffaceable Will involves demonstrably causing greater harm to women in general, all in The Name of God¹.

They deserve no attention whatsoever from a just and moral government. Choosing to structure society and law in a manner that not only does not cause least harm, but arguably causes maximal harm is perfectly Screwtape-ian.

Dammit, it's time for a quality Hollywood movie about Screwtape. Let's show the consequences of shifting to a dystopian theocracy in which society's laws are based on gut reaction to cunningly phrased, devilishly delivered, emotionally-charged arguments preached to a gullible public — Senators and judges included in the congregations. Let's have a real grim understanding about exactly what kinds of atrocities occur if you disallow access to safe abortions and a reality-based understanding of sex, sexuality, and safety.

It is simply embarrassing that we have experimental proof of what does and does not work in reducing harm in society, and yet we do not base our laws on reality. Enough of this Christian overrule: it makes things worse.

/curmudgeonly
¹I'm am an atheist. That said, believing that God wants you to make a society that hurts sinners is batshitinsane. STFUWTFBBQ.

posted by five fresh fish at 11:12 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would ask those people who are so dismissive of religion to look around at their fellow citizens.

I did. That's what made me dismissive of religion.

Comparing Abortion to Slavery is an old argument and one of the most dishonest ones out there. A total "big lie to make me believe the terrible thing I'm doing is really a good thing" kind of dishonest. Slavery would be more accurately compared to all the anti-feminist laws and customs imposed to suppress women because they were either pregnant or could become pregnant, long after there was any justification. In that situation, the illegal abortionists were the Underground Railroad and the pro-choicers are the abolitionists.

Of course, this painfully twisted argument could turn out to be correct, if 150 years from now, a second-trimester fetus is elected President of the United States.
posted by wendell at 11:15 PM on August 3, 2009


Put your faith away. The world is filled with sinners. It is impossible to legislate away any sin. Quit trying to believe the world will be free of abortions if we just make it illegal.

There are only two things we can rationally do: ensure women have the ability to choose to have a safe abortion instead of a dangerous one; and educate/indoctrinate/brainwash our families and congregations and schoolchildren to value themselves enough to make wise decisions based on facts and personal morality.

That's the best we can do. No guarantees that people will always make all most rational outcomes based on statistical facts; and no guarantees that people will always make all the more "moral" outcomes based on their personal theology. But at least they'll have the absolute best chance of doing so.

Making rational decisions will create solutions. Faith will not.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:26 PM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


...believing that God wants you to make a society that hurts sinners is batshitinsane.

Actually, believing that God wants you to make a society that hurts sinners is the best way Religion has of holding onto power. And that's how it works, for the fundamentalist radical Islamists in Iran and Afghanistan and for the fundamentalist radical Christianists in the U.S. of A. The Christianists seem to be not as bad as the Islamists, but just because they have never been as united here and there have always been enough atheists, agnostics and Deists (the kind of not-religious religion) having an influence from the beginnings of the Republic, but mostly doing so from a 'closet'. The least religious countries in the world are the most dedicated to "least harm" and therefore the most moral.

At least, where I live I can stay in my Atheist Closet while having some Freedom of Speech on the Web. If my immediate neighbors ever saw what I have written as "wendell", I would have to move for my own safety.
posted by wendell at 11:29 PM on August 3, 2009


It seems to me that we probably wouldn't be having this discussion if it weren't so goddamn easy to get pregnant accidentally.

I spent some time once working in a metal-fabrication shop. And in the shop, the really serious machines, like the punch press (think final scene from Terminator), had a feature called a THNTD: "two hand no tie-down." It's a control circuit with two switches, usually a few feet apart, that you have to press with both hands at approximately the same time. It makes sure that you don't just lean on the Start button while you still have your other hand in the machine. As a bonus, if you release either one of the buttons during the machine's cycle, it will immediately halt. Pretty clever.

Since the pro-lifers seem to have little problem spouting off about the world that they'd like to have, the one where women get pregnant and always choose life because every fetus is sacred or whatever other dumbassery they believe, mine is one where pregnancy is regarded as seriously as operating that punch press. The last thing we need, either as a country or as a planet, is anyone having a child that they don't want. And just on an individual level, the last thing any person should be forced to go through is a pregnancy they don't want — regardless of any choices they made up to that point.

Restricting access to abortion on the grounds that women who have sex should "take responsibility for it" strikes me as being as reasonable as taking the safety-stops off a punch press, on the grounds that someone who presses Start should "take responsibility" for what happens next, even if they realize a second later that their hand is still in there and they weren't quite ready after all. "Taking responsibility" seems to be a poorly concealed dog-whistle term for what is clearly de facto punishment.

It's my hope that as contraceptives become better (and particularly as male contraceptives become available in the near future), that we'll start to put the safeties on pregnancy that it should have had all along. Of course, a lot will depend on whether we as a society make those contraceptives widely available. But I suspect that as unintended pregnancies become less and less common through enhanced contraceptives, public perception of the seriousness of an unintended pregnancy will increase, and it will be harder to muster opposition to abortion for the few occasions when it does occur. It's relatively easy to find people who'll oppose abortion when you can point to large numbers of them occurring every month or year, and when, deep down, I think a lot of abortion opponents still have a phantom enemy in the "loose woman" who uses them because she's just too darn lazy to do anything else. (I think this woman lives in the apartment just above the Welfare Queen.)

As abortions become more rare — and in general, enhanced contraception more than offsets the additional sex that its users have as a result of being on it, making the net result fewer abortions — they become less of an everyday occurrence and instead a sort of rare catastrophe. It strikes me as much harder to oppose abortion as a solution to the occasional catastrophe than it is to oppose abortion as a routine occurrence.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:54 PM on August 3, 2009 [11 favorites]


a world that respects any rights of tiny little babies (pre-babies?)

Any rights. Absolutely correct. Respect goes far beyond the single solitary right to be born.
The only solution is for all of us to become very serious about creating a world where the children who already exist have a decent chance at growing up healthy and in control of their own destiny.

A year ago I wrote a piece for Hip Mama about a twelve year-old boy from Maryland named Deamonte Driver who died because his family couldn’t find a dentist willing to accept Medicaid to extract his abscessed tooth.

As you read this there are approximately 83,000 children in the foster care system in the state of California alone.

. . . Many of the women I had the honor of talking to before they had their abortion told me they would prefer not to terminate their pregnancies but they simply could not afford to bring a child into this world. They wanted their pregnancy, they loved their pregnancy, but they could not in good conscience ask their child to suffer the same poverty they were suffering.

. . . I have watched the abortions you don’t want to think about. I have also watched beautiful, brilliant living children subjected to unspeakable horrors that I wish I didn’t have to think about. I’ve seen politicians and ministers and good respectable people question the morality of women who have chosen abortion over failing a child they would have loved dearly.
So, the right to adequate food and nutrition? Medical care? Housing? A stable, non-violent, perhaps even loving, parental relationship to be born into? Every pro-choice person I know considers these to be non-negotiable rights of children, and babies whether "pre-born" or already born. The pregnant woman is the one who knows best whether these rights are likely to be violated, so she's in the best position to know whether carrying the pregnancy to term, terminating it, or adoption is the more moral decision in her individual case.

I've linked this Episcopal minister's words before but it bears repeating: I am in every sense pro-life by being pro-choice.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:55 PM on August 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


MetaFilter: If my immediate neighbors ever saw what I have written, I would have to move for my own safety.
posted by hippybear at 12:05 AM on August 4, 2009


What I think is astounding is how someone managed to deftly shift this discussion to another blue disaster on abortion, rather than the posted topic about anti-abortion groups also avowing beliefs that are anti-contraception.

Nicely trolled. Well played jsonic. Well played.
posted by dejah420 at 12:14 AM on August 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


It just goes to show, you can't be too careful.
posted by cj_ at 2:35 AM on August 4, 2009


Palliser, the line I am talking about isn't where in pregnancy abortion should be legal but why it is only that pregnant women owe their children their bodies: fathers never do, and mothers stop as soon as they give birth. This is weird.

Sorry I was unclear; I think what I meant to demonstrate is that there is no situation that is precisely like pregnancy -- engagement in an activity that results in a cluster-of-cells-that-may-become-a-person being attached to the doer -- but that if you look at the bare-bones situation -- doing something that puts someone else in peril -- you may have a duty to use your body and undertake risk to try to save them. (My example was bumping someone into a pool who can't swim.)

I think abortion goes from clipping-a-hangnail to infanticide over the nine months of pregnancy, and that pregnant women owe the little-cluster-that-becomes-a-person some duty of care -- namely, to decide whether they want the baby at some point before the cluster attains personhood. There is nothing wrong or arbitrary with the law enforcing that duty by making abortion freely available only up to a certain point, and beyond that requiring some showing that would change the moral calculus.

In the end, I don't think my world would look much different from your world, as the combination of doctors and pregnant women pretty much adhere to this plan where abortion is freely available throughout pregnancy as well as where it's legally restricted according to gestational age.
posted by palliser at 5:35 AM on August 4, 2009


What I think is astounding is how someone managed to deftly shift this discussion to another blue disaster on abortion, rather than the posted topic about anti-abortion groups also avowing beliefs that are anti-contraception.
I suppose the impressive thing about it is how, without doing it himself, he goaded the other commenters to do it for him by exploiting MeFi commenters' instinctive need to "teach us all how to get along and understand things from the other side." By setting himself up as the martyr for the cause and not actually discussing the issue of contraception but rather making it about his pro-life views and how he is being attacked for being pro-life, it suddenly made the conversation about abortion rather than the phenomenon at hand... William Saletan isn't the only person who makes himself feel important by talking about "all those complex issues around abortion that mean we must make an effort to engage the other side that only I am wise enough to articulate." (see also) He's the only one who gets paid for it.
posted by deanc at 5:46 AM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


You want me to try and argue Catholic social doctrine and its religious underpinning on Metafilter? You actually think that would be a worthwhile and productive endeavor?

No, jsonic. No. No. No. Stop with this self-obsession. We want you to explain (or at least engage with the ongoing discussion about) why the hell the pro-life movement is actively opposing efforts to reduce abortion and rejecting overtures from pro-choicers who are actually deigning to think that they might actually cooperate with pro-lifers for common benefit. No one wants to here cares or is interested in the particulars of your religious practices and beliefs or how you came to them. Though I suppose it must be pretty f'ing fascinating to have an entire thread about you and your precious personal beliefs.
posted by deanc at 5:55 AM on August 4, 2009


Palliser, my world has abortion legal throughout gestation, because in places where it is, there's no huge problem of women suddenly changing their minds and no longer wanting their viable fetuses after 7 months of pregnancy, and no huge problem of doctors who are happy to do it, and I don't see the point in putting in a law that won't have any real effect. That said, I understand why people want to put in some kind of time limit -- though this does cause a real hardship for people who need to save up the money for the abortion.

My argument about the organ donation is for people who want to make abortion illegal at all times.
posted by jeather at 7:08 AM on August 4, 2009


Jeather, my ideal world is one in which abortion is completely funded without judgment, whether through a woman's insurance company or through a government-funded clinic, so the "saving up for an abortion" factor doesn't even come into play.

Which, in turn, makes me more comfortable with the idea of setting some sort of time limit on abortions that aren't medically necessary -- and that necessity is defined solely by a woman and her doctor and no one else. I'm pretty vigorously pro-choice, and even I have a hard time being completely ok with a non-medically-necessitated termination in, say, week 39.
posted by shiu mai baby at 8:09 AM on August 4, 2009


I should also say that, in my ideal world, abortions past a certain date are readily available from licensed, experienced practitioners in every single state and every medium-to-large city, and that these practitioners don't have to fear for the personal safety of themselves and their families and their employees every single moment of their lives.
posted by shiu mai baby at 8:16 AM on August 4, 2009


Did you guys figure it all out yet?

Colonel Mustard in the Den with a morning after pill.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:32 AM on August 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I risk being completely against the overall belief laid out in my statements here, (more or less against the whole political power of the movement) but here goes:

Truth of the matter is I know two women who are incredibly intelligent, for the most part outgoing, and are against abortion. I discovered this while watching the movie "Joshua" with them at a little gathering (how abortion got in there can be obvious if you realize what an abortion of Joshua would have done for the family in that movie... theoretically).

Why exactly? I could not tell. But thinking about it, it could be incredibly possible that a law against abortion would be a powerful bargaining chip in an already available arsenal for women. By this logic, establishing a legal framework would grant more power to a female than to a male. By this logic, if there is not enough genuine love in a couple, jsonic might just have a point.

Of course, reality is not as clear cut, and not as manageable as this framework would desire. Some men have been, and continue to be, rather forceful about their desires, rendering the current arsenal females have against a sexual intrusion pretty much useless. The banning of abortion would be a double edged sword: one in favor of man, the other woman, and if history is any indicator, it would likely tilt for the man. Mass education about contraception, same deal to some extent, unless a majority of cases involve a true mutual love or agreement.

With the exception of that, the bottom line of my argument is this: enough of the man controlling woman argument when it comes to the abortion debate. There is the chance that the tables have turned and women have a weapon now and in development when it comes to guarding their personal lives.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 8:41 AM on August 4, 2009


I've always been pro-choice, but in my younger days I felt pretty strongly that abortion was awful and something that should be avoided whenever possible. Now that I've had a baby, my viewpoint has shifted somewhat. I still think abortion is pretty awful, but it would be even more awful to force a woman to go through the pregnancy and childbirth experience when thy didn't want the baby. Enduring all of that only to give up your baby for adoption would almost be worse (I know lots of women find the strength to do it, though I can't imagine how).

How dare we allow people who will never really understand what's involved set policy on this? It seems barbaric. If you want a slavery metaphor, let's talk about forcing women into childbirth when they aren't ready for motherhood.

I love my baby more than anything, and the act of bringing her into this world was filled with beauty and wonder, but that's only because I was ready to be a mother. No one should be forced into something so life altering. Abortion should always be a last resort (and is no substitute for education and ready access to birth control), but it is a far better alternative than an unwanted child.
posted by Go Banana at 8:56 AM on August 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think abortion looks like a continuum between "no worse than clipping a hangnail" at the blastocyst side and "no different from infanticide" at the viable fetus side. Pretty much anyone who strongly self-identifies as "pro-choice" or "pro-life" thinks I'm a jackass...

Most people who identify as pro-choice probably agree with your continuum, though (I don't know how they feel about you personally). That's the whole point of being pro-choice. Once the fetus is at the viable end, abortion is much less common, and generally only done if there is serious danger to the health or life of the baby and/or mother. Obviously a woman isn't going to go through 7 months of pregnancy only to decide one morning, eh, actually I'm not really into this. If someone terminates near the end of a pregnancy, it's safe to assume there's a reason. And that's the underlying philosophy of being pro-choice: trust the person who is actually making the choice to understand what she is doing.

People don't get abortions because they're easy or because they hate babies. They get them because they believe they're medically or personally necessary; they get them because something went wrong and they believe it is early enough in the pregnancy not to be significant. But they understand what they are doing. They are just as capable of seeing the details as you are. In fact, they're closer to the particular story than you are, and the choice will matter a lot more to them than it will to you.

Being pro-choice doesn't mean you think everyone should have lots of abortions. It means you think individual women are capable of addressing this issue privately (with the personal consult of their loved ones and doctors). There's a difference between "not liking abortion" and actually wanting to take away access to abortion for other people.

If my immediate neighbors ever saw what I have written as "wendell", I would have to move for my own safety.

Maybe you should move for your own sanity!
posted by mdn at 9:36 AM on August 4, 2009


JoeXIII007:

In your example, I don't think you're looking for a law against abortion. I think you're looking for a law that requires men to have responsibility for the children they have a part in conceiving. If the father has no say in whether the mother gets an abortion (which is what I believe most pro-choicers advocate) then it doesn't seem to me that the logic is all that different from what you laid out.

To the extent that this is already the law, it's a problem of enforcement rather than legislation.
posted by grae at 11:14 AM on August 4, 2009


Their opposition to these programs, however, do not (as far as I can tell, and I've known a lot of anti-choice folks) reveal any secret or hidden truths about their opposition to abortion. They're separate issues, both of which they are opposed to.

They are not separate issues. They both strike at the heart of women's sexual autonomy.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:58 AM on August 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


And what about the former group? When 72% of women and 58% of men tell the LA Times that abortion should not be legal after the first trimester, is that because 72% of women want to control women?

At the beginning of the 20th century, IIRC there was a pretty large group of women against suffrage, too.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:15 PM on August 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


There is nothing wrong or arbitrary with the law enforcing that duty by making abortion freely available only up to a certain point, and beyond that requiring some showing that would change the moral calculus.

Very, very few abortions are done in the third trimester, and it's almost always done to save the life of the mother and/or because the fetus will have severe developmental disabilities. The idea that people have third-trimester abortions from some personal whim is flat-out false.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:21 PM on August 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


You remember correctly.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:23 PM on August 4, 2009


Obviously a woman isn't going to go through 7 months of pregnancy only to decide one morning, eh, actually I'm not really into this.

There are a very few women who are indeed like that, and then it becomes a choice between letting her have the frivolous abortion or placing her under restrictive custody to protect the unborn until it is born and then forcing her to place it up for adoption. Because anything in between I consider more cruel and inhumane to the unborn child than either extreme.
posted by wendell at 12:50 PM on August 4, 2009


Grae: yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Mainly wanted to point out that it may not be all about male superiority, because there's (likely) a good bunch of women who independent of political position have personal pro-life positions.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 1:40 PM on August 4, 2009


At the beginning of the 20th century, IIRC there was a pretty large group of women against suffrage, too.

It's worth noting that just because a woman may support maintaining a man's control over her and other women, doesn't make that support any less patriarchal.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:32 PM on August 4, 2009


particularly as male contraceptives become available in the near future

I am in every sense pro-life by being pro-choice.

Indeed. Except for fetishists and a few odd ducks on MeFi, no one wants high abortion rates. We are all fundamentally pro-life, regardless whether we are pro-choice or anti-choice.

We should be framing the debate far more accurately.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:49 PM on August 4, 2009


It's worth noting that just because a woman may support maintaining a man's control over her and other women, doesn't make that support any less patriarchal.

Yeah, that was my point.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:09 AM on August 5, 2009


I think this is going to be the bigger story: Public plan would allow abortion coverage.
posted by agregoli at 3:05 PM on August 5, 2009


Do the anti-choice crowd actively seek out insurance providers who never, ever cover abortions as part of the procedures they cover? (I haven't had insurance in over a decade, and I'm an unmarried gay man, so I really don't know whether ANY health insurance providers cover abortions in their policies.)
posted by hippybear at 3:43 PM on August 5, 2009


The idea that people have third-trimester abortions from some personal whim is flat-out false.

You know, I'd really appreciate not having words put in my mouth, and I think it's clear from the following statement of mine -- "the combination of doctors and pregnant women pretty much adhere to this plan where abortion is freely available throughout pregnancy as well as where it's legally restricted according to gestational age" -- that I understand very well that women don't have third-trimester abortions from some personal whim, even where it would in theory be freely available. (It's not freely available anywhere, in fact, because doctors won't do it.)

That said, you don't get a special fuzzy-focus light-generating halo when you become pregnant, and I'm sure there's some feckless person out there who would get pregnant, put off dealing with it for weeks and weeks, and then want an abortion at 7 months, because there's every kind of person out there.

Almost nobody ever murders anyone, either, relative to humanity at large, yet there's a law against it anyway. If abortion of advanced, healthy pregnancy is wrong, it makes perfect sense to have a law against it, even if almost no one wants to do it.

I posted in this thread because muddgirl was arguing that even assuming a fetus was a person -- and in my view, that's true in advanced pregnancy -- forcing a pregnant woman to continue the pregnancy was giving the fetus "special rights, beyond basic human rights, to impose on another person's body," and that the only reason you would think a woman should be denied an abortion even of a fetus you consider a person is that you secretly think "a woman gives up her right to autonomy when she chooses to have sex." She then said no one would ever give her a straight answer to this argument, and I've tried to: namely, that requiring a woman to continue her pregnancy, once it's beyond the point of the fetus's personhood, is akin to asking someone to risk themselves to save someone they've put in danger. The law does that, so there's nothing arbitrary or repressive about asking the same of pregnant women.
posted by palliser at 5:35 PM on August 5, 2009


Well, gee, *I* find it awfully repressive that the State determines what medical procedures I'm allowed to have.
posted by agregoli at 4:48 AM on August 6, 2009


I find it awfully repressive that a nameless corporate vice president who's only motivation is to reduce the costs to his insurance company determines what medical procedures I'm allowed to have. But that's just me I guess.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:30 AM on August 6, 2009


As Bill Maher put it... private, for-profit health care is "soulless vampire bastards profiting off of human suffering".
posted by hippybear at 2:28 PM on August 6, 2009


That said, you don't get a special fuzzy-focus light-generating halo when you become pregnant, and I'm sure there's some feckless person out there who would get pregnant, put off dealing with it for weeks and weeks, and then want an abortion at 7 months, because there's every kind of person out there.

Almost nobody ever murders anyone, either, relative to humanity at large, yet there's a law against it anyway. If abortion of advanced, healthy pregnancy is wrong, it makes perfect sense to have a law against it, even if almost no one wants to do it.


Well, there's a difference here in that the woman can pretty much in every case claim self-defense. Even if the fetus is healthy and the mom's not at risk and so on, mom has been harassed by the parasite for 7 months now. (On top of which, the fetus is half made out of mom, so if mom is some kind of evil person it's hardly evident we should go to extraordinary lengths to save her potential offspring.)

There is no case in which the mother would be seeking out an individual with its own rights and ending its life. All cases are ending an unindividuated creature's use of her.

I posted in this thread because muddgirl was arguing that even assuming a fetus was a person -- and in my view, that's true in advanced pregnancy --

It doesn't really matter whether the fetus is a "person" - that's a vague word. But the fetus is not an individual. It is physically reliant on the body of the mother for air and food. Until it is separated, the mother's rights are primary.

forcing a pregnant woman to continue the pregnancy was giving the fetus "special rights, beyond basic human rights, to impose on another person's body," ... requiring a woman to continue her pregnancy, once it's beyond the point of the fetus's personhood, is akin to asking someone to risk themselves to save someone they've put in danger. The law does that, so there's nothing arbitrary or repressive about asking the same of pregnant women.

Well, it seems the question is whether the woman has "put the fetus in danger" or whether the fetus has "imposed itself on the mother". Really, neither of these metaphors make sense, since neither party intentionally did anything.
posted by mdn at 11:28 AM on August 7, 2009


It doesn't really matter whether the fetus is a "person" - that's a vague word. But the fetus is not an individual. It is physically reliant on the body of the mother for air and food.

"Reliance" on some outside agent for air and food doesn't make you a non-person or a non-individual. A disabled person who was reliant on an outside agent for air and food would still be both an individual and a person. A late-term fetus is, similarly, both a person and an individual. But since you say it doesn't matter, we'll just assume that to be the case.

Besides which, we're talking about late-term fetuses, who could survive without the mother.

neither party intentionally did anything.

Erm, what? At the point of advanced pregnancy, the mother has gone several months without aborting the fetus. That's culpable nonfeasance, when she had the choice to abort.

See, when abortion is legal and safe in the pre-viability stage of pregnancy, taking responsibility means having the safe, legal abortion in the pre-viability stage. Otherwise you absolutely put the other human being at risk, and it's your responsibility to protect them.
posted by palliser at 11:40 AM on August 7, 2009


"Reliance" on some outside agent for air and food doesn't make you a non-person or a non-individual. A disabled person who was reliant on an outside agent for air and food would still be both an individual and a person.

A disabled person would a) not be reliant on any one caretaker, and never for 24 hours a day, and b) never be parasitic in every little aspect of his or her nutrition - i.e., the caretaker doesn't have to eat chocolate covered pickles to make sure the disabled person gets the necessary vitamins.

A late-term fetus is, similarly, both a person and an individual. But since you say it doesn't matter, we'll just assume that to be the case.

The point is that the word "person" is too vague - people will disagree over when that line is crossed. You have not defined it explicitly and it is a matter of faith or belief in any case. HOwever, "individual" is easy to define. The mother cannot make choices about life and death once the individual separates from her, but while it is still internally connected and reliant, she has jurisdiction.

Besides which, we're talking about late-term fetuses, who could survive without the mother.

Well, once they are out and surviving without the mother, they can't be terminated. The idea that they could survive is a numbers game. Viability used to be defined as 24 weeks, whereas now technology has allowed some pre-24 week preemies to make it, with lots of medical intervention. That doesn't mean they just pop out and are ready to go. 24 weeks is still very much a work in progress. And issues include, would it harm the mother to go through the pregnancy? Is the fetus healthy? It is only a very small percentage of abortions that take place at a time when there would be any chance at all for the fetus to survive, and if the mother is making this choice, it is probably because of a complication which would make that survival very painful.
posted by mdn at 1:25 PM on August 7, 2009


The point is that the word "person" is too vague - people will disagree over when that line is crossed. You have not defined it explicitly and it is a matter of faith or belief in any case. HOwever, "individual" is easy to define.

How is that? You're choosing to define "individual" as "not housed within the mother," but I wouldn't. The fetus is not genetically identical to the mother. By that measure, the fetus is an individual -- not just part of the mother, but having its own genetic identity. The fetus has its own individual brain. It moves on its own, independent of the mother's will. These things are characteristics of an "individual," so I'm not sure how you got to your absolute certainty that "individual is easy to define" and no one could disagree with you on that.

And anyway, moral questions aren't always best resolved in the "easiest" fashion. If personhood is the most important moral consideration, it really doesn't matter to me that there's some "easier" rubric to use. You could flip a coin if you wanted, but it wouldn't make the determination right; it would just make it very easy to make.

Law is often based on morality, and my opinions on this subject are no more "faith or belief" than yours. I base my opinion on abortion -- fine for any reason pre-viability, not fine except for danger to the mother or severe fetal abnormality post-viability -- on the moral principle that bodily integrity is a human right, and that therefore, the essential question for abortion is whether and when the developing fetus is a person with human rights, or not.

Again, the fact that these determinations are not easy to make just means that this is a difficult issue, not that we should resort to flipping a coin just in order to give ourselves a nice easy rule to follow.

It is only a very small percentage of abortions that take place at a time when there would be any chance at all for the fetus to survive, and if the mother is making this choice, it is probably because of a complication which would make that survival very painful.

Indeed, abortions are almost all performed early in pregnancy. Here are a few possible reasons for this: women's preference, doctors' scruples, legal restrictions. I believe these limits are all legitimate and should all remain in place.
posted by palliser at 5:53 PM on August 7, 2009


How is that? You're choosing to define "individual" as "not housed within the mother," but I wouldn't. The fetus is not genetically identical to the mother. By that measure, the fetus is an individual -- not just part of the mother, but having its own genetic identity. The fetus has its own individual brain. It moves on its own, independent of the mother's will. These things are characteristics of an "individual," so I'm not sure how you got to your absolute certainty that "individual is easy to define" and no one could disagree with you on that.

No, I'm not saying it isn't a unique being, just that it isn't a separate and self-sufficient being. Once it is born, it is alive based on its own physical system. While it is inside the mother, it is alive because of the mother. The two are entirely coupled at all times. The fetus doesn't eat, drink, need shelter, access to the bathroom. The fetus uses the mother for all of those things.

If personhood is the most important moral consideration, it really doesn't matter to me that there's some "easier" rubric to use.

well, fine, but what is "personhood"? Everyone disagrees over the point at which it is reached, and I cannot imagine we will come to definition that will just somehow be clearly acceptable to all parties. Some people believe "personhood" begins at conception. Some people believe personhood is not evident until the baby has had a chance to develop its brain in the sensation-filled world for at least a few months. Why do you get to decide for everyone else when their baby is valuable?

So the women make the choice about personhood on a case-by-case level up to the point of individuation or separation from the mother, meaning, natural viability or birth. If you believe personhood begins at, say, the 16th week, then you can make the moral decision to never have an abortion (or, perhaps, consort with anyone who has an abortion) after the 16th week. However, we can't make a law for everyone based on your moral intuition. We need some kind of universal standard. Separation from the mother is a universal standard because the fetus is an impediment on the mother until that point.

As I said, viability as a medical possibility is a slope because it is a small percentage of preemies and a lot of intensive medical care that allows some fetuses that are still a week or two within the legal limit of abortions to survive. The crossover is pretty small, and there is absolutely no guarantee that they would survive if it were attempted. So if the idea is, I want this baby removed from me, you could suggest that if it's under 20 weeks there's no way it could survive so they may as well kill it as they remove it, but if it's 21+ weeks it could conceivably survive so they should try to remove it in such a way as to attempt expensive post-natal care, and then put it up for adoption... But what wouldn't be fair is to demand that the woman must continue to carry it. And in most cases the expensive post natal care and adoption would be medically and psychiatrically very difficult and only a low percentage would be successful anyway.

While I agree that people should be educated and assisted to make choices earlier, that doesn't necessitate that it should be made illegal to handle later. It can still just be an issue between the woman and the doctor, since there may be specific circumstances the law can't foresee.
posted by mdn at 8:20 AM on August 8, 2009


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