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Abortion Not OK in OK
April 30, 2010 2:42 PM   Subscribe

Provoking pro-choice advocates, Oklahoma passed two highly restrictive abortion laws on Tuesday. One (rtf file) requires doctors to show women an ultrasound of their fetus and point out its physical characteristics — even if the patient was impregnated through rape or incest. The second (rtf file) stipulates that doctors cannot be sued if they decide to lie to an expectant mother regarding her baby's birth defects. A third requires clinics to post signs telling patients they cannot be forced to have an abortion. The first law prompted an immediate lawsuit from Tulsa's only abortion clinic.

Reactions:
Oklahoma Patients.

National Institutes of Reproductive Health

The Week: America's Five Strictest Abortion Laws

Alternet: Shocking Law and Women Seeking Abortions Must Have Ultrasounds Against Their Will

Mary Spaulding Balch, Director of the Department of State Legislation at the National Right to Life Committee (This quote only addresses the first law):
"This is a victory for the women of Oklahoma and their unborn children. Abortion is a business, the least time spent with a woman, the least information given to her, the more sales made. This law protects a mother's right to know something about her developing unborn child. It gives her a window to her womb. It help to prevent her from making a decision she may regret for the rest of her life and it empowers her with the most accurate information about her pregnancy so that she can make a truly informed 'choice'."
posted by zarq (169 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
You cannot be forced to have an abortion, but we're working to try to force you not to have one.
posted by killdevil at 2:45 PM on April 30, 2010 [19 favorites]


requires doctors to show women an ultrasound of their fetus and point out its physical characteristics

what
posted by shakespeherian at 2:46 PM on April 30, 2010


Abortion is a business, the least time spent with a woman, the least information given to her, the more sales made.

Whatever one might say about Mary Spaulding Balch, at least she's clearly not in the pocket of Big Abortion.
posted by Iridic at 2:47 PM on April 30, 2010 [25 favorites]


This is what happens when state and national opinion split.
posted by smackfu at 2:47 PM on April 30, 2010


Surely, this came with a huge increase in sex education budgets, money for free contraception and expanded social services for women who would have otherwise decided to get abortions, right?
posted by klangklangston at 2:47 PM on April 30, 2010 [82 favorites]


Least appropriate pro-life message?
posted by GuyZero at 2:48 PM on April 30, 2010 [39 favorites]


New Law Requires Women To Name Baby, Paint Nursery Before Getting Abortion. Sometimes satire helps us deal.
posted by spiderskull at 2:48 PM on April 30, 2010 [26 favorites]


Further information from Jurist:
The Oklahoma Senate voted to approve [JURIST report] five anti-abortion bills last week, sending three to Henry for his approval and returning two to the Oklahoma State House of Representatives [official website]. Pending House approval, two additional bills would require a woman to answer 38 questions [HB 3284 text, RTF], including why she is seeking an abortion, and prohibit state health plans from covering elective abortions [HB 3290 text, RTF]. The Oklahoma laws join another restrictive abortion law passed recently in Nebraska, which bans abortions after 20 weeks [JURIST report].

posted by zarq at 2:51 PM on April 30, 2010


Face it, the hicks aren't going to be happy until women are dying from illegal abortions.
posted by telstar at 2:56 PM on April 30, 2010 [34 favorites]


The second (rtf file) stipulates that doctors cannot be sued if they decide to lie to an expectant mother regarding her baby's birth defects.

Well, I agree that suing the doctor is not the apropriate. Historically firing squad and hanging have been the popular choices.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:56 PM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


"This is a victory for the women of Oklahoma and their unborn children. Abortion is a business, the least time spent with a woman, the least information given to her, the more sales made. This law protects a mother's right to know something about her developing unborn child. It gives her a window to her womb. It help to prevent her from making a decision she may regret for the rest of her life and it empowers her with the most accurate information about her pregnancy so that she can make a truly informed 'choice'."

And yet, the second law does the exact opposite, by basically giving doctors the right to lie to pregnant women and conceal birth defects.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:57 PM on April 30, 2010 [18 favorites]


OK, WTF?!
posted by mattdidthat at 2:59 PM on April 30, 2010


And yet, the second law does the exact opposite, by basically giving doctors the right to lie to pregnant women and conceal birth defects.

Yes. It doesn't look like they asked her about the second law, though.
posted by zarq at 3:01 PM on April 30, 2010


Someone I know had a baby last year. He was born with a number of pretty serious problems, which she knew about before giving birth. He spent his life in the NICU, as did his mom and her partner. He died a few months later.

She is utterly horrified that a doctor could lie to a woman about the health of the baby she's carrying. One of the reasons that her and her son's lives were not as awful as they could have been is that she and her family and friends were prepared and knew what to expect when he was born. Can you imagine thinking you're carrying a healthy child, up until the moment you give birth and they whisk him off to NICU?

Is Oklahoma where compassion goes to die?
posted by rtha at 3:04 PM on April 30, 2010 [53 favorites]


One bit not pointed out is that the doctors are required by law to use a wand ultrasound (up in one's ladybits) if it would be "more accurate"--regardless of what the woman requests.

I guess men can think of it as the legislature mandating that even if other tests exist that would work just as well, or even if such tests are actually unnecessary, you can't get a health procedure that you need without an extremely thorough rectal exam. Your opinions and desires? Don't mean shit.
posted by emjaybee at 3:08 PM on April 30, 2010 [37 favorites]


What about the second measure?
It stipulates that doctors cannot be sued if they decide not to tell an expectant mother that her baby has birth defects.


This leaves me stunned. First of all, in this day and age with all the information available to us to limit the information available to the mother is unconscionable. Perhaps the mother is unprepared to deal with a severely handicapped baby both financially and mentally, what then? Tough luck? Plus some mothers may not choose to have an abortion but could use the information to prepare and inform themselves.

I want to spit on the legislators who thought up this nifty little piece of shit. I hope their personal physicians lie to them at every check-up until they are dead. "Migraine headache? The best thing is to go work outside in the hot, hot sun." "Cancerous mole? Nah, bleeding and irregular shapes are fine." "That lump in your breast? Just leave it alone and stop worrying about it."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:09 PM on April 30, 2010 [22 favorites]


Is Oklahoma where compassion goes to die?

Yes, yes, and yes.
posted by blucevalo at 3:09 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


hopefully these will be struck down like the statistical reporting of abortions act.

i live in oklahoma and i need to find a gynecologist soon. would it be out of bounds for me to ask if the doctor is pro-choice?
posted by nadawi at 3:10 PM on April 30, 2010


This is going to get quickly overturned and/or laughed out of the room during the first court challenge.

Just like the last wacky Oklahoma abortion thing.
posted by hamida2242 at 3:12 PM on April 30, 2010


MetaFilter - A window to your womb.
posted by doublehappy at 3:12 PM on April 30, 2010


would it be out of bounds for me to ask if the doctor is pro-choice?

I certainly wouldn't think so.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:13 PM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


i live in oklahoma and i need to find a gynecologist soon. would it be out of bounds for me to ask if the doctor is pro-choice?

Quite sincerely, if I lived in Oklahoma this is definitely a question I'd be asking when seeking a new doctor, and a doctor not comfortable answering it honestly would be crossed right off my list.
posted by padraigin at 3:18 PM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


So if a state legislature is in the pocket of Big Tobacco, they could pass a law preventing you from suing your doctor if he doesn't point out the dark spots on your chest x-ray?
posted by Bromius at 3:20 PM on April 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


It gets weirder/worse: the abortion provider must provide the woman with a certification for her to sign, stating that the procedures were preceded by the ultrasound and description, but a number of parties can get involved and contest the action. From the RTF:
B. A cause of action for injunctive relief against any person who has knowingly violated a provision of Section 2 of this act may be maintained by the woman upon whom an abortion was performed or attempted to be performed in violation of this act; any person who is the spouse, parent, sibling or guardian of, or a current or former licensed health care provider of, the female upon whom an abortion has been performed or attempted to be performed in violation of this act; by a district attorney with appropriate jurisdiction; or by the Attorney General. The injunction shall prevent the abortion provider from performing further abortions in violation of this act in the State of Oklahoma.
If I'm reading this right, people who were not there prior to the abortion can contest the verification. The certified technician or doctor will then be fined ($10k for the first time, $50k the second, and $100k the third), can be sued by the woman or her parent/legal guardian for "any knowing or reckless violation of this act" for actual and punitive damages, and finally "shall be considered to have engaged in unprofessional conduct" and can have their certificate or license suspended or revoked.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:21 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now that begs the question -- how did the Oklahoma Senate and House manage to override a veto with only a 54 to 61% Republican majority? Or are all the legislators pretty much all on board with the whole Jesus thing?
posted by crapmatic at 3:21 PM on April 30, 2010


I been thinking for while that the pro-life crowd should really be called pro-fetus. Because once that baby is born they don't really give a shit about it anymore. At least thats how seems to me.
posted by Sargas at 3:21 PM on April 30, 2010 [84 favorites]


i live in oklahoma and i need to find a gynecologist soon. would it be out of bounds for me to ask if the doctor is pro-choice?

Well, you can ask, but there's no guarantee that he'll tell you the truth. If he's anti-choice, he won't want you to go to an honest pro-choice doctor. That might lead you to making reasonable, responsible, informed decisions.
posted by marsha56 at 3:22 PM on April 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


I wonder if they put all these barriers and counseling and mandate ultrasounds that point out all the parts of the involved anatomy for any guy choosing to have a vasectomy.

Oh wait, of course they don't. Because men's reproductive decisions are never something that is limited or has legal barriers placed upon it.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:24 PM on April 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


A doctor who would decline to tell a woman her fetus has defects...honestly, I'm just picturing the mad scientist from The Human Centipede here, or like the abominable Dr. Phibes or something. Someone like that should obviously be in prison for the rest of his life, and possibly made subject to psychiatric evaluation.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:24 PM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


crapmatic - by and large, most southern democrats are republican-lite, hence all the problems in the US congress with abortion stuff and the health care bill. we call 'em dixiecrats (although, i realize it is a defunct party).
posted by nadawi at 3:25 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm so disturbed by the "lying to the patient is ok" part of the legislation...try to restrict abortion if you must, but why would you ever give a doctor this ability? Ugh.
posted by agregoli at 3:26 PM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


That should've been: Because men's reproductive decisions are never limited or have legal barriers placed upon them.

No more changing tenses after the fact! My kingdom for an edit pony.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:28 PM on April 30, 2010


Also, score one for those who would treat women in an infantile and deceptive manner without legal recourse for the victims of such a shameful ruse. Imagine if doctors were unilaterally allowed to outright lie to you about any health issue you might be having with impunity.

This is disgusting, and everyone should be outraged.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:29 PM on April 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


The second (rtf file) stipulates that doctors cannot be sued if they decide to lie...

I don't give a rat's ass what the next words in this sentence are. If this is in the context of a doctor-patient relationship, it is a completely fucking wrongheaded law and whoever proposed it is a vile human being.
posted by quin at 3:33 PM on April 30, 2010 [28 favorites]


I wonder if they put all these barriers and counseling and mandate ultrasounds that point out all the parts of the involved anatomy for any guy choosing to have a vasectomy.

Oh come on. A terrible law doesn't excuse a terrible analogy.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 3:34 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


would it be out of bounds for me to ask if the doctor is pro-choice?

Not at all. Particularly since I think it's unlikely that he or she would volunteer that information unless asked. I don't think there's a lot of guidance within the profession as to disclosure or anything else related to abortion. I've been in med school for two years, and being asked to memorize the pharmacology of mifepristone and a couple of other abortion-inducing drugs has been the extent of my school's acknowledgement that pregnancy termination is even possible. It's an interesting omission, given that every other social issue in medicine has been talked nearly to death.
posted by killdevil at 3:34 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because men's reproductive decisions are never limited or have legal barriers placed upon them.

I sympathize with your perspective, and agree that men are often not restricted while women are, but to say "never limited" is simply not accurate. For much of the first half of the 20th century, compulsory sterilization laws based on eugenics theories were enforced for a variety of reasons in many states, upon both men and women.
posted by zarq at 3:37 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want to see the diagram that compares:

(No. of University of Oklahoma female students actually from Oklahoma)
(No. of university female students not from Oklahoma)
(No. of abortions performed on said students)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:38 PM on April 30, 2010


> "would it be out of bounds for me to ask if the doctor is pro-choice?"

I was only reminded two weeks ago that when I look for a doctor that this is an issue (I moved here from the UK last year). I live in California, and I will be asking. You should ask, it's your right, especially when your reproductive system is involved.

The way America treats women is despicable. It makes me too angry to form a proper, intelligent comment without making it look like I hate this country. I don't. I really don't. But there's no way to say how much I resent becoming a second class citizen, after 25 years of being in control of my body, without very strong language.
posted by saturnine at 3:39 PM on April 30, 2010 [12 favorites]


would it be out of bounds for me to ask if the doctor is pro-choice?

Ask. It's not out of bounds. You should have a right to this information.

Does anyone know how complicated it would be to create and host a basic database online which would allow people to log in and post that kind of information about their OB/Gyn's and perinatologists? If there's a need, I'd be interested in doing so.
posted by zarq at 3:39 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Zarq, I"m specifically addressing modern times here. We live in the age of Viagra covered under insurance.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:43 PM on April 30, 2010


Zarq, I"m specifically addressing modern times here.

I understand.
posted by zarq at 3:45 PM on April 30, 2010


while there aren't laws mandating men's reproductive organs - it's not like they don't face their own share of issues when trying to exercise their right to decide if they want kids.
posted by nadawi at 3:47 PM on April 30, 2010


I wonder if they put all these barriers and counseling and mandate ultrasounds that point out all the parts of the involved anatomy for any guy choosing to have a vasectomy. Oh wait, of course they don't. Because men's reproductive decisions are never something that is limited or has legal barriers placed upon it.

There is, you know, the whole thing where vasectomies don't end a human life.
posted by thesmophoron at 3:48 PM on April 30, 2010


Well "human life" or not, it's true that a tubal ligation is a more appropriate analog for a vasectomy versus an abortion.
posted by GuyZero at 3:51 PM on April 30, 2010


thesmophoron, your semantics are semantics.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:52 PM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Abortion is a business, the least time spent with a woman, the least information given to her, the more sales made.

Such bad logic. Nonsurgical abortions are some of the cheapest outpatient procedures you can have done. I had a vein in my nose cauterized once and it cost more than an abortion. Doctors certainly aren't doing abortions for the bucks - especially not with the risks they take in a country where terrorist nutjobs are free to stalk them.
posted by Miko at 3:52 PM on April 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


basic database online which would allow people to log in and post that kind of information about their OB/Gyn's and perinatologists.

I'm not sure this is the smartest idea. Don't the anti-choicers already do this?
posted by cobaltnine at 3:54 PM on April 30, 2010


while there aren't laws mandating men's reproductive organs - it's not like they don't face their own share of issues when trying to exercise their right to decide if they want kids.

That particular situation is a problem for both men and women, actually. When my wife gave birth, she wanted to have her tubes tied. Her OB had previously told her outright that she really shouldn't ever become pregnant again, but then also asked her repeatedly (at multiple appointments) to confirm she really, really wanted a tubal ligation. Her OB also told her that if she had been in her 20's they would have advised her against it, even though they were also advising her never to become pregnant again.

I was in the operating room with her when my kids were born. On the video, while I'm holding my babies and filming their first cries, you can clearly hear the OB ask my wife if she was "sure you want me to do this?"

He explained afterwards that they have to ask, and are reluctant because the procedure is permanent.
posted by zarq at 3:54 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because men's reproductive decisions are never something that is limited or has legal barriers placed upon it.

I'm waiting for an MRA/Glenn Sacks follower to leap on this . . .
posted by jfwlucy at 3:55 PM on April 30, 2010


> "There is, you know, the whole thing where vasectomies don't end a human life."

Neither do abortions. Men micromanaging women however...
posted by saturnine at 3:56 PM on April 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


There is, you know, the whole thing where vasectomies don't end a human life.

No, they end hundreds of billions of potential human lives. An abortion ends just one.
posted by killdevil at 3:56 PM on April 30, 2010 [26 favorites]


That particular situation is a problem for both men and women, actually.

yeah, i realize that. i was just pointing out that access to not reproduce is not just a female issue, even if the law only seems to focus on the women.
posted by nadawi at 3:56 PM on April 30, 2010


One bit not pointed out is that the doctors are required by law to use a wand ultrasound (up in one's ladybits) if it would be "more accurate"--regardless of what the woman requests.

FWIW, they usually do this anyway to size/age the fetus before proceeding with the procedure or administering the drug. That doesn't make the whole pointing-out-features business any less abhorrent, though.

To say nothing of the lying to your patients business. This runs counter to pretty much the whole of modern medical ethics. The two primary values that undergird clinical ethics are non-maleficence and autonomy - lying to patients about defects violates both of these. Pro-lifers claim to be hewing to non-maleficence, but when their remedy is lying to women about the health of their progeny they can no longer claim that as a guiding principle.

Not that these people are worried about being logically consistent. There are many people who earnestly believe that abortion is wrong, and I respect (but don't agree with) that view. But this is just hurf durf baby killers.
posted by jeoc at 3:57 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


...requires doctors to show women an ultrasound of their fetus and point out its physical characteristics...

Ah yes, those characteristics. I dare them.
posted by MysteriousMan at 4:00 PM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


There is, you know, the whole thing where vasectomies don't end a human life.

Neither do abortions, according to my rabbi.

Just because someone else believes they do doesn't make that belief universal. Nor does it dictate that it should somehow be universally applied.
posted by zarq at 4:02 PM on April 30, 2010 [14 favorites]


"Is Oklahoma where compassion goes to die?"

The reason why Bush was able to position himself as a compassionate conservative was because Oklahoma sets the bar so low.

(To be fair, everything I know about local Oklahoma politics comes from Texans and gay friends who have left Oklahoma. Apparently, Sonic's pretty tasty though.)
posted by klangklangston at 4:03 PM on April 30, 2010


yeah, i realize that. i was just pointing out that access to not reproduce is not just a female issue, even if the law only seems to focus on the women.

True!
posted by zarq at 4:03 PM on April 30, 2010


I'm not sure this is the smartest idea. Don't the anti-choicers already do this?

You're probably right.

I just want to do something positive in the face of this idiocy.
posted by zarq at 4:04 PM on April 30, 2010


"would it be out of bounds for me to ask if the doctor is pro-choice?"

Knowing that doctors are encouraged to lie about your baby's health, do you think they'd be honest about being anti-choice?
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:08 PM on April 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


What are doctors in Oklahoma saying about these restrictions on their practice?
posted by Miko at 4:10 PM on April 30, 2010


Is there a State Department travel advisory currently in effect for Oklahoma? I mean, I know it's a US state and all but still...
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:15 PM on April 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


First of all, in this day and age with all the information available to us to limit the information available to the mother is unconscionable.

Not just limit - deliberately decieve. I wasn't kidding when I linked to the Nuremburg Code.

From my POV it's a big deal if the FDA comes to town and haven't faithfully maintained the temperature log for your refrigerator for the past 10 years. If someone did this in a clinical study.... Fuck.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:16 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Knowing that doctors are encouraged to lie about your baby's health, do you think they'd be honest about being anti-choice?

i'm actually considering asking if they're anti-choice (i'll of course say pro-life). i'm also considering calling hte abortion clinic in tulsa and asking for a referral for a gynecologist.
posted by nadawi at 4:18 PM on April 30, 2010


What are doctors in Oklahoma saying about these restrictions on their practice?

Miko, I found very little physician feedback while researching this FPP, but the article in the "Tulsa's only abortion clinic" section of the FPP talks about how they are handling the three laws -- suing over the first but not the second, and complying with the third. More. KOCO reported only that the three clinics they interviewed stated that they were complying with the laws.

Forcing women to see ultrasounds and have them described against their will would appear to me to be a violation of the Hippocratic Oath to me. But then, I'm not a doctor.
posted by zarq at 4:18 PM on April 30, 2010


There is, you know, the whole thing where vasectomies don't end a human life.

It's cute that you think this is about the fetus and not about controlling women. If it's about the kid, why do they stop giving a shit as soon as it's born?

I don't see these anti-abortion folk throwing money at social services that help kids -- especially the kids of non-white/poor/single/"welfare queen" women.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:23 PM on April 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


Oh hey, lookit Florida now: you not only have to get the ultrasound, but pay for it! Unless you can prove you were a rape victim.

The mask is off. Fetus, schmetus, these laws are about punishing and controlling women, and always have been. Human life, my ass.
posted by emjaybee at 4:26 PM on April 30, 2010 [30 favorites]


If it's about the kid, why do they stop giving a shit as soon as it's born?

I don't know of anyone who "stop[s] giving a shit" about whether you end a child's life once the child is born. Is there a legalization movement for infanticide? What "they" are you referring to?
posted by thesmophoron at 4:27 PM on April 30, 2010


I don't know of anyone who "stop[s] giving a shit" about whether you end a child's life once the child is born. Is there a legalization movement for infanticide? What "they" are you referring to?

You're cherry picking his comment. Read the entire thing and you'll know what he's talking about. He's not referrring to infanticide, but rather supporting children once they're born through social services.
posted by zarq at 4:30 PM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


thesmophoron - do you have anything to say about the bills? it seems obvious that you're anti-choice - so tell me, do you support a doctor's right to lie to his patient? do you think that 11 year olds raped by their father should have to see the ultrasound?
posted by nadawi at 4:31 PM on April 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


I fully failed to anticipate how inchoate this news story has made me.

In fact I think I have maybe transcended the apoplectic realms which I have previously soared to. Were I filled with a more moderate amount of this pure substance I might be moved to some paltry act, like writing a measured protest to the Oklahoma legislature.

However the only reasonable response I can see right now is to fashion a giant weather balloon in the likeness of a 1,000 foot tall dunce cap and park it in a geostationary orbit above Oklahoma City for all of eternity.
posted by One Thousand and One at 4:31 PM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Leaping fuck, why can't someone invent a STOP-BEING-ASSHOLES gun already.
posted by lucidium at 4:32 PM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Surely... I mean, women vote in America, don't they? Roughly equal turnout (or better than) men? I understand the pandering to Dark Age Christianists "Family Values" etc. I just don't understand how it flies when it comes to actual legislation. Baffled into incoherency.

Ohhh... And I'm so glad that's a dolphin embryo, MysteriousMan. I was looking at it a good two minutes before I saw the text. Mind, boggled. Cup of tea time!
posted by blue funk at 4:36 PM on April 30, 2010


why can't someone invent a STOP-BEING-ASSHOLES gun already.

OUT OF AMMO AGAIN!
posted by me & my monkey at 4:43 PM on April 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


You don't need infanticide, when children already die so easily from poverty and lack of access to health care.
posted by emjaybee at 4:44 PM on April 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


You're cherry picking his comment. Read the entire thing and you'll know what he's talking about. He's not referrring to infanticide, but rather supporting children once they're born through social services.

And I'm pointing out that "not giving a shit" doesn't look like what he thinks it looks like. There's a couple dozen football fields you can fit between "don't kill" and "don't allow to be ill" and it's disingenuous to suggest that those who subscribe to one are inconsistent for not subscribing to the other. For what it's worth, I'd like people to note that some large demographic groups within the pro-life set, notably a good number of Catholics, are also nominally against the death penalty and in favor of increased access to social services. It was a pro-life Catholic who was one of the deciding House votes in passing Health Care Reform, and he did it in the face of death threats made on his family.

do you have anything to say about the bills? ... do you support a doctor's right to lie to his patient? do you think that 11 year olds raped by their father should have to see the ultrasound?

I don't support anyone's right to lie, though to be fair there's nothing about lying implicated in these bills. I'm also uncomfortable with the idea of doctors withholding information if that information might be material. To my mind, birth defects are not material to the question of whether the child should be carried to term, but that's because I always believe the child should be carried to term, so I recognize the blurry line. I struggle with this one a bit, and while I don't want to defend that provision, I don't feel I'll join you in vociferously condemning it either.

In terms of offering different protections for fetuses based on the sins of their fathers, I honestly don't see how that makes any moral sense.

it seems obvious that you're anti-choice...

Using deliberately inflammatory labels for people is fighty. Please don't do it. It doesn't make you cool or trendy or socially aware. It just makes you not-nice.
posted by thesmophoron at 4:45 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it is unconscionable that a doctor could be given permission to lie to a patient. Period.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:47 PM on April 30, 2010 [40 favorites]


I drove through Oklahoma last year, visiting my dad and a friend in Texas. One thing I noticed was that pretty much all of the billboards along I-35 (as I was driving through Oklahoma city, I think) were either for medical care or Jesus. It was pretty weird.
posted by delmoi at 4:49 PM on April 30, 2010


I don't support anyone's right to lie, though to be fair there's nothing about lying implicated in these bills.

I think most people would consider not telling an expectant mother about birth defects would qualify as a lie, even if it's a lie by omission.
posted by delmoi at 4:50 PM on April 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


you are anti-choice, it's not an inflammatory label, it's a statement of fact. you oppose the right for women to chose to terminate a pregnancy. do you disagree? i know you'd prefer "pro-life", but to me, that's an inflammatory label as i don't believe people who support legislation that brings harm to women to be pro-life.

also: lies of omissions are lies. so doctors withholding information about the health of the woman or the fetus is lying. whether you think the matter is "material" or not doesn't really play into it. the doctor/patient privilege exists mainly so that there can be trust between doctor and patient. how can any female trust her doctor in oklahoma now?
posted by nadawi at 4:52 PM on April 30, 2010 [22 favorites]


thesmophoron, I hope you're morally opposed to all the wars the US is currently involved in. Right not to die, indeed.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:56 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there a legalization movement for infanticide? What "they" are you referring to?

If by infanticide you mean reduction in access to food and medical care for anyone so foolish as to be born to poor people then yes. They apparently call it the Republican party.

But don't blame yourself if you haven't heard about it. Anyone might have missed the roughly quarter billion bills to reduce funding to any program that provides food or medical care for at risk kids and the gross proliferation of prosperity ethics over the last 30 years.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:58 PM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


utterly shameful. IMO this is worse than the recent news from Arizona. Deliberately lying to your patient, how can that not be malpractice?
posted by bottlebrushtree at 5:06 PM on April 30, 2010


And I'm pointing out that "not giving a shit" doesn't look like what he thinks it looks like. There's a couple dozen football fields you can fit between "don't kill" and "don't allow to be ill" and it's disingenuous to suggest that those who subscribe to one are inconsistent for not subscribing to the other.

Once a child is born to a parent who did not want to carry it to term, the primary concern shouldn't be whether it is allowed to become ill, but rather whether it will be neglected or abandoned, which seems to me to be a far more likely scenario. While Oklahoma is enacting laws that make it harder for women to have an abortion, is the state also attempting to make the twin processes of giving a child up for adoption and helping someone else adopt that child, easier? I haven't seen any evidence of this, but I suppose it's possible that I've missed that news. If they aren't, it's not at all disingenuous to say that they are inconsistent with regard to the care of a fetus vs. the care of a (newborn) child.

For what it's worth, I'd like people to note that some large demographic groups within the pro-life set, notably a good number of Catholics, are also nominally against the death penalty and in favor of increased access to social services.

That's nice. But with regard to abortion, Catholics seem to feel perfectly comfortable imposing their religious beliefs on non-Catholics through legislation. I have a problem with that.

It was a pro-life Catholic who was one of the deciding House votes in passing Health Care Reform, and he did it in the face of death threats made on his family.

Health Care Reform included no pro-choice or pro-life legislation. The Democrats gutted that part to prevent the bill from self-destructing in Congress.

I have at least two problems with pro-life legislation. One: I believe that a person's body should be sacrosanct with regard to the law. The government should not be allowed to force a person to be or not be pregnant -- at the very least without some sort of public trial before one's peers and a lengthy appeals process. Two: it imposes a Christian belief on me and my family which I do not ascribe to. To a majority of Conservative and Reform Jews, including myself, life begins at birth, not in the womb. What right do Christians have to impose their beliefs on me and mine, especially if I do not believe my religious beliefs should be imposed upon them?

If Christians don't want to have abortions, they shouldn't. Problem solved. But damn them to hell if they think that they should somehow be allowed to take rights away from non-Christians.
posted by zarq at 5:07 PM on April 30, 2010 [43 favorites]


would it be out of bounds for me to ask if the doctor is pro-choice?

I moved to California a couple of years ago. The first doctor I asked ("What are your views on abortion?") responded warily, "What do you mean?" I remember thinking, Erm...which word don't you understand? but I think I said something like, "Well, I know there are some doctors who get, y'know, judgmental about it..."

To which he replied, "Well, that's not a doctor's place. I think that someone who's had an abortion has most likely learned her lesson." I can't remember exactly how he wound up his explanation but it went along the lines of: Therefore, a doctor has no business inflicting further suffering upon such a patient by getting judgmental.

He was, obviously, completely oblivious to the judgmentalism of "learned her lesson." I suppose I missed an opportunity to point it out, but I just wanted to get out of there.

The next candidate was also wary initially. Or perhaps not, now that I'm rethinking the exchange -- she said, "What's best for the patient is what's important," and then I clarified that if I were to need an abortion, how would she handle it or would she have a problem with it, and she said "Oh! No. I'm pro-choice." Hallelujah! I laughed in relief.

I wonder how many women in this country do ask. If asking became the norm for women of whatever beliefs, would it help change the debate? Seems to me it would encourage a transparency that might align with "pro-voice" kinds of goals.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:09 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I never hear about all the free quality daycare centers that anti-abortion groups build so that every woman who has a child and no way to care for it so she can earn a living has a decent place to go. Oh right.
posted by pinky at 5:09 PM on April 30, 2010 [17 favorites]



If Christians don't want to have abortions, they shouldn't. Problem solved. But damn them to hell if they think that they should somehow be allowed to take rights away from non-Christians.


You clearly do not understand freedom of religion. It means you are free to be Christian.

Full stop.

And if you don't like it, get out of our continent and move to Canada.
posted by MysteriousMan at 5:13 PM on April 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Okay -- I really honestly do NOT wish for any kind of a tragedy on any person whatsoever.

But.

There is a tiny part of me that is hoping for some kind of a test-case that can smack this down -- like:

Say you have a woman who's been going through fertility treatments, and becomes pregnant with a multiple pregnancy. Except -- the doctor doesn't TELL her it's a multiple, because he's afraid she'll opt for selective abortion. Or -- maybe he tells her it's twins instead of sextuplets.

So the woman carries on under the belief that she's pregnant with twins, but she's taxing her body so much -- because, after all, she's pregnant with SEXTUPLETS -- that sometime in the early 3rd trimester, or maybe the late 2nd one, she develops serious complications. Maybe, say, eclampsia. And then, because she has been overtaxing her body -- because she didn't know she was carrying sextuplets -- she dies. And so do the six unborn children.

Let's see how that case would do.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:14 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


In other pro-lifer news, Sarah Palin requires that reporters make a donation to an anti-choice charity to cover her at an event in Austin. Pretty sneaky way of ensuring you'll only get positive press. It's a group that runs websites to convince people not to get abortions (rather than something tangible that helps people with unwanted pregnancies, like an adoption agency or an orphanage).
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:22 PM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


But EmpressCallipygos, in that case it is without a single doubt in my mind, God's Will. That's how sextuplets always died in the past, and yes it was sad, but all it means is that it was that mother's time... and the sextuplets time, too. But more likely, God's Plan is more focussed on the husband, being male and more important---likely God is just Testing the husband's faith at that point.
posted by MysteriousMan at 5:26 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


she said, "What's best for the patient is what's important," and then I clarified that if I were to need an abortion, how would she handle it or would she have a problem with it, and she said "Oh! No. I'm pro-choice." Hallelujah! I laughed in relief.


I find it genuinely horrifying that anyone would need to ask. There are either legitimate, technical reasons for or against a medical procedure or there are not. How can a doctor's personal opinion be in any way relevant?

I've been treated by doctors who disdained my (homosexual) existence, presumably for religious reasons, but they still treated me. I can't imagine them refusing to, here in the UK, though maybe they have the right. I'm constantly surprised at the constant lack of constant revolutions in the US reading things like this. I have to keep reminding myself how big America is - it'd be more like trying to reach a Europe-wide political consensus (rather than a UK-wide one which would be difficult enough).
posted by blue funk at 5:31 PM on April 30, 2010


@thesmophoron

"Using deliberately inflammatory labels for people is fighty."

Yes, and when people seek to impose their will, unjustly and quite viscerally, on others, "fighty" words are what's called for, at the very least.

Sometimes large groups of people are just plain wrong. Segregationists were wrong, Vietnam war supporters were wrong, and you are wrong. Your wrongheadedness causes unnecessary and undue suffering. History will not view you and your ilk kindly.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:35 PM on April 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


So the woman carries on under the belief that she's pregnant with twins, but she's taxing her body so much -- because, after all, she's pregnant with SEXTUPLETS -- that sometime in the early 3rd trimester, or maybe the late 2nd one, she develops serious complications. Maybe, say, eclampsia. And then, because she has been overtaxing her body -- because she didn't know she was carrying sextuplets -- she dies. And so do the six unborn children.

Sadly, it is likely that the pregnancy would simply miscarry and terminate itself if extraordinary measures are not being taken. Sextuplet pregnancies are exceedingly rare to begin with, and the mothers who carry them into the third trimester often suffer a whole host of complications, from gestational diabetes to anemia and liver dysfunction. Left untreated, these conditions can severely harm the fetuses or cause a miscarriage. Also, if one fetus seated in the uterus close to the cervix becomes non-viable, that can cause a complete miscarriage.

Mothers of higher order multiples need to be monitored carefully throughout their pregnancies to prevent disaster. Eclampsia is a serious danger, but unfortunately it's only one of many conditions that need to be looked out for.
posted by zarq at 5:39 PM on April 30, 2010


does it count if the doctor is saying "yeah the baby is perfectly healthy" and then goes to another room and you hear him snickering and high-fiving someone and then you have to spend the next thirty-eight years changing a vegetable's diapers and one day the doctor dies and gets 500 bonus points for a sick double-twist ollie fetus-lie and the scoreboard is

1. GOD
2. GST
3. JZS
4. DOC
5. DAN
6. AAA
7. FRT
8. GAY
9. AAA
10. AAA

because if it did that'd be something
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:43 PM on April 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


How long until an anti-choice doctor lies to a woman about her ectopic pregnancy? Will he judged to be innocent there?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:50 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Conservatives confuse me. On the one hand, they want to redefine the 14th Amendment so that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States" are not citizens of the United States. On the other hand, they want to give fetuses--clearly not American citizens under the same 14th Amendment--rights over the American citizens carrying them. So they want to take away rights from actual people who are American citizens and give rights to potential people who are not American citizens.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:52 PM on April 30, 2010 [20 favorites]


I feel ya, kirkaracha; I had thought Conservatives were against government interfering in the doctor-patient relationship.
posted by MikeKD at 6:11 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think most people would consider not telling an expectant mother about birth defects would qualify as a lie, even if it's a lie by omission.

The first time that doctor said, "Everything looks good, everything is fine," when he knows different-- that would be an out and out lie. And I can't imagine a woman going through all the pre-natal check-ups without hearing something positive otherwise she would start feeling anxious.

But after thinking about it, I am more confused by this legislation. According to the NY Times link:
Opponents argue that the law will protect doctors who purposely mislead a woman to keep her from choosing an abortion. But the bill’s sponsors maintain that it merely prevents lawsuits by people who wish, in hindsight, that the doctor had counseled them to abort a disabled child.
Prior to it being passed were there many cases of doctors lying to their patients? Were there any cases of patients suing because a doctor did not counsel them to abort their child? Or is this just a case of the legislators saying, "Hint, hint. Hey Doc, if you want to lie to your patient so she won't rush out and get an abortion, we've got your back."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:13 PM on April 30, 2010


They find any more day-old failed abortion live babies...errrr I mean humanless fetuses lately?
posted by HTuttle at 6:16 PM on April 30, 2010


When it comes to treatable conditions that result in damage to the mother/child's health because the physician lied, my reading of the law -- and I am SO not a lawyer -- is that the doctor is still on the hook. It's only if the physician lies to patient about an untreatable malady that he's not culpable, because a birth alone does not constitute an "injury."

Multiples, ectopic, and the like: they'd tell you. Anencephaly, though? Nah. Find out on the Happy Day.

{shudder}
posted by Westringia F. at 6:20 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


thesmophoron wrote: "notably a good number of Catholics"

Believe me when I say that Catholics did not push this turd of a bill through the legislature or convince them to override the governor's veto. From what I can tell, Catholics seem to be more concerned about what they do, not what other people do.

zarq wrote: "What right do Christians have to impose their beliefs on me and mine, especially if I do not believe my religious beliefs should be imposed upon them?"

The word you're looking for is "evangelical." A large subset think theirs is the one true way and anybody who disagrees is doing the devil's work so should be ignored. Tolerance is something you extend while you tell people about the Good News. Once they have rejected it, tolerance is no longer appropriate, in their view.
posted by wierdo at 6:29 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeesh. I thought the obstetricians at the hospital my mother went to while carrying my brother (at age 40) were sleazy enough for refusing to perform amniocentesis until after the legal window for abortion had passed, and that happened 20 years ago. That the same kinds of people would be given a carte blanche to flat-out lie about fetal abnormalities about which they are fully aware is insane. Insane.
posted by wreckingball at 6:32 PM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Okay, we raise money and put together a fund that will let women seeking abortions fly or bus to another state where we put them up at a motel or something until the abortion, and then they don't have to deal with this bullshit.
posted by anniecat at 6:36 PM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's cute that you think this is about the fetus and not about controlling women. If it's about the kid, why do they stop giving a shit as soon as it's born?

I don't see these anti-abortion folk throwing money at social services that help kids -- especially the kids of non-white/poor/single/"welfare queen" women.


And it's even cuter when you are condescending about it!

Look, these people believe abortion is murder. While their views are wrong, it just doesn't equate to lack of social services. There are a lot of hypocritical things these so called conservatives are in favor of, but that's not one of them.
posted by gjc at 6:46 PM on April 30, 2010


Ah yes, those characteristics. I dare them.
Zing!
posted by ambulocetus at 6:51 PM on April 30, 2010


And it's even cuter when you are condescending about it!

I thought about that.

Frankly I'd like opponents of abortion to understand how condescended-to I feel when they try to make these laws and talk about "oh, this is really for women!"

I do stop myself short of trying to pass laws that dictate what happens to their bodies and internal organs, though, so sheesh, I'm still pretty golden ruleish about that.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:01 PM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


gjc, let's look at it this way. For a person to believe that these sorts of extraordinary measures--up to lying to a woman about her health status, or you know, killing doctors who peform abortions--is all ok because "abortion is murder", and yet, for that same person to be utterly indifferent to the things that actually kill people, including babies--like unsafe pregnancies, like lack of access to prenatal and postnatal care, like a poisoned environment, etc. etc.--betrays their "sincerity."

You cannot sincerely claim to care about children, as an opponent of abortion, while simultaneously advocating against things that children actually need in order to survive. That goes way beyond some sort of misguided sincerity and straight to either willful ignorance or out and out lying.

The "pro-life" argument is a farce at both ends of the reproductive process; in their senseless and indefensible hatred of contraception in any form, in their opposition to healthcare access that would probably make at least some women more willing to have children, and would allow them to go through pregnancy more safely, and in their hostility to any assistance for children who have left the uterus.

Sure, those are "fighty" words, but we need to get "fighty" in calling out those who hide behind sentimental words about compassion towards fetuses in order to push through legislation that does nothing to reduce the need for abortions but vastly increases the suffering of women who seek them.
posted by emjaybee at 7:04 PM on April 30, 2010 [41 favorites]


would it be out of bounds for me to ask if the doctor is pro-choice?

nadawi - I found you one
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:24 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


So... the patient is required to hear you point out the foetus' physical characteristics, and you're allowed to lie?

"And here you see the forked tongue... and these small bumps here are the hooves... look, here, that's a nice tail!"
posted by qvantamon at 7:29 PM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Q: Does my doctor or hospital have the right to force me to undergo surgery an ultrasound?

A: No. You have the legal right to refuse any medical treatment, including cesarean surgery a transvaginal or abdominal ultrasound. The doctrine of informed refusal is upheld by common law, case law, Constitutional law, federal law, state law, state mandated medical ethics and the ethical guidelines of the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Any facility or care provider claiming that you must undergo a cesarean an ultrasound you wish to refuse is violating the governing principles of their respective institutions and professions, as well as the rule of law.

Imma pretty sure fed law still trumps state and all that.
posted by zizzle at 7:31 PM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Immediate train of thought when reading this post:

"Hey, Oklahoma! I'm from there- oh jesus christ, really? Wait! WTF? Straight-up tort-immunity for lying about birth defects? Ahh, I see, at least the third one sounds in line with normal Oklahoma bullshit. There's only one Planned Parenthood clinic in all of Tulsa? But aren't there, like, hundreds of meth labs there? That's gotta be one busy-ass clinic."

I'm not proud of all of those thoughts, of course.

There's an unsettling movement in politics right now, particularly on the right (though a little bit on the left in different areas) to just make the laws your constituents will re-elect you for passing while knowing that there's just no way that the courts will sustain them. Not that this is a novel idea, but it's still irresponsible as all hell, and I think that's what the legislators were doing here. It's damn sure what they were doing in South Dakota not too long ago. And while there are many reasons to hate the practice, the reason it bugs me so much is that it forces the courts into the political arena, posting flesh-and-blood judges up as enemies of the people for doing their damn job, which is to impartially determine that shit like this isn't allowed to fly.

I'm glad the clinic is taking on the first bill, and hopefully they'll be successful. Seems like they probably don't have standing on the second one, which is tricky in that it really doesn't officially tell OB/GYNs that they're free to lie, so much as it refuses to create a recognizable tort for "wrongful life actions" and "wrongful birth actions." That makes it really, really tough for anyone to find standing without a tragedy happening first (good job, Oklahoma!) and even then the test case could probably be booted as "wrongful death" and the like are still going to be cognizable.

I don't know how likely this would be to work, but I hope that a group of pediatricians and neonatal physicians are getting together for an injunction against it, though, because they do have standing. If an OB/GYN can lie to a patient about the condition of her fetus, leading to that mother bringing the child to term, then the next doctors on down the line are still liable for malpractice on issues which could have more effectively been dealt with earlier, had they been known about. Thus malpractice insurance costs rise because the OB/GYNs weren't required to mention anything.

They might have the best case to bring against Bill #2, though it's sadly still kind of a shaky one.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:43 PM on April 30, 2010


You cannot sincerely claim to care about children, as an opponent of abortion, while simultaneously advocating against things that children actually need in order to survive. That goes way beyond some sort of misguided sincerity and straight to either willful ignorance or out and out lying

This is completely correct. And furthermore, it's in this dimension where it becomes abundantly clear who opposes abortion because they believe it's murder, and who opposes abortion because they believe it allows women to get off the hook for what they see as sinful sexual activity. It becomes crystal clear; because people who really, sincerely believe abortion is murder do the following things: (a) they support comprehensive sex education, widely available contraception and legalization of abortion in the early trimesters, all of which have been shown to reduce the rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion; and (b) they work to establish a social safety net that seeks to support rather than punish women who carry an unplanned pregnancy to term - with food assistance, job assistance, daycare, healthcare coverage, etc.

There are people who are truly concerned about abortion being murder; but anyone who wants to reduce the number of these "murders" annually will push for more, not less, access to information, contraception, and, yes, legal abortion. Because those reduce the "murder" rate. Other strategies seek only to punish women, interfere in doctor-patient relationships, and restrict individual freedom. Other strategies are not ever about babies.
posted by Miko at 7:51 PM on April 30, 2010 [35 favorites]


Unfair snark: If Oklahoman doctors had to tell the truth about birth defects, no Oklahomans would be born.
posted by klangklangston at 7:53 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's amazing how the Pro-Life advocates dominated the argument by sticking to the "baby", which is what the rest of us call a "fetus".

The issue isn't over the "baby-killin'". It's over the ownership of the woman's body once she becomes pregnant. In other words, once she becomes pregnant, does a woman's body belong to herself or the state? Nobody would argue it belongs to the state, but in their attempt to control women, the only ground they have to stand on is the baby.

But they don't give a shit about the baby. They'll tell her to give it up for adoption, and do nothing to improve American adoption policies. Or convince her to keep the baby and try to have her welfare canceled because she's obviously abusing the system and milking taxpayers.
posted by CarlRossi at 7:54 PM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Can't say as I can see much difference, when it comes to their treatment of women, between the Oklahoma legislature and the Taliban.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:01 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


"There's only one Planned Parenthood clinic in all of Tulsa?"

I'm from Tulsa originally and remember several Planned Parenthood's in the area. Maybe only one offers abortions?
posted by fishmasta at 8:10 PM on April 30, 2010


Looks like there are two Planned Parenthoods in Tulsa and neither offers abortions, just referrals, unless they just want the website to be less explicit.
posted by Miko at 8:13 PM on April 30, 2010


terrifying. the handmaid's tale come to life.
posted by sdn at 8:21 PM on April 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


In other words, once she becomes pregnant, does a woman's body belong to herself or the state?

Truth. It's all about Property Rights. Who *OWNS* the mother? Who *OWNS* the embryo/foetus/babby? People will immediately say "No-one!", but doesn't that deny the idea that a Free Woman owns her-own-self? Isn't *that* what fundamentally what Freedom is? Unlike the legislature of Oklahoma, I recognize that it's not my question to struggle with ultimately, but HERS.
posted by mikelieman at 8:26 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok, so Oklahoma and Arizona are off my lists of places to travel or spend money in.

I also just threw a bit of money at Planned Parenthood of Oklahoma. I encourage y'all to think about doing something similar.
posted by maxwelton at 8:45 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


sdn: terrifying. the handmaid's tale come to life.

That was my first thought on reading this, too.

In the words of Atwood herself:

Q: How would the creation of your imagined republic of Gilead be possible?

A: First of all, ask yourself the following question: If you were going to take over the United States, how would you do it? Would you say, "I'm a socialist and we're all going to be equal"? No, you would not, because it wouldn't work. Would you say, "I'm a liberal and we are going to have a society of multiple toleration"? You probably wouldn't say that if you wanted mass support. You would be much more likely to say, "I have the word from God and this is the way we should run things." That probably would have more of a chance of working, and in fact there are a number of movements in the States saying just that, and getting lots of dollars and influence.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:00 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's just middle-aged cynicism I'm feeling, but the litigation-shield thing really bugs me. It's been set up in a way which ensures that antenatal screening tests will still be performed, but the results can be with-held from the patient (and how is that conversation going to go - does the Dr get to actually lie about the results if specifically asked?), so no-one's going to lose any money by those tests simply not being performed.

The signage thing I'm actually pleased about. Although any good clinic takes measures to establish that the patient isn't being coerced into terminating their pregnancy by their parents, partner, or another third party, I'm happy about anything which reinforces the message to the patient that the right to choose is hers and no-one else's.

I'd like to believe that the majority of doctors are not right wing whack-jobs and that few doctors will actually with-hold the results of screening tests from their patients. If I'm wrong, then I guess the outcome I'd expect from this legislation is an increase in the number of DS babies being put up for adoption (IIRC, DS is the most common fetal abnormality for which women choose to terminate a pregnancy following fetal screening) and/or an upsurge in the number of recorded cases of abuse of special needs children.

I've long heard American lawyers claim that Roe v Wade was a pretty shaky way to establish the right of choice and that it could easily be undermined - I guess this is the kind of stuff to which they were referring.
posted by Lolie at 9:11 PM on April 30, 2010


The RCs got their city-state, the Jews got an entire nation, there are Islamic nations, and even the milquetoast Anglicans bagged an island nation.

Now the nutbagger Christianists¹ demand their own authoritative domain. Shit, the damn Mormons got themselves a State, even Indians got their territories. There are a lot of Christianists in the USA who think it's about damn time they got their fair share, and make no mistake about it.

I hope the rest of the continent can keep itself from going down this batshit path of Christianist rule. It inevitably ends in laws that are ultimately destructive to a just society. I'd also argue that it ends in schooling that is inadequate to the task of competing in the new, technologically-advanced, science-founded global economy. It'll be an impoverished Christianist nation, for sure.

Our own little Afghanistan.

¹What should we be calling those anti-abortion, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-social nutbagger self-professed “Christian” douchebags? Evangels? Baptists? South Baptists? Prosperity Christians? Dominionists? How about Christfuckers? No, make it Fuck-Christers: that captures the spirit of their message.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:30 PM on April 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


The word you're looking for is "evangelical." A large subset think theirs is the one true way and anybody who disagrees is doing the devil's work so should be ignored. Tolerance is something you extend while you tell people about the Good News. Once they have rejected it, tolerance is no longer appropriate, in their view.

No, the word I was looking for was Dominionist, not Evangelical. Catholic Bishops also look to enact anti-abortion laws in the US, as does the Southern Baptist Convention. One can be a Dominionist and not be an Evangelical.
posted by zarq at 9:31 PM on April 30, 2010


My gf is one of those girls who was scared into being anti-abortion in catholic school, mostly by being shown videos of scary-looking embryos by overly religious teachers. Reading about this set of bills finally made her become pro-choice.
posted by the cydonian at 9:40 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Kansas House of Representatives on Friday failed to override the governor's veto of a stringent abortion bill. By two votes. One small victory in the face of Sooner insanity.
posted by bryon at 9:46 PM on April 30, 2010


One: I believe that a person's body should be sacrosanct with regard to the law. The government should not be allowed to force a person to be or not be pregnant -- at the very least without some sort of public trial before one's peers and a lengthy appeals process. Two: it imposes a Christian belief on me and my family which I do not ascribe to. To a majority of Conservative and Reform Jews, including myself, life begins at birth, not in the womb. What right do Christians have to impose their beliefs on me and mine, especially if I do not believe my religious beliefs should be imposed upon them?

Your two beliefs are contradictory. When the belief that a persons body should be sacrosanct with regard to the law is enforced by the courts, that is the imposition on people of a belief many do not subscribe to.

It's interesting that you write "Conservative and Reform Jews" in suggesting that anti-abortion laws represent specifically Christian position being imposed on you. I assume you've done this because you know many Orthodox authorities would agree with broader prohibitions on abortion (at least moral prohibitions, if not neccessarily legal ones)? And there are Jews and In fact, if you look at the arguments against abortion, you'll find that many of them are not religious arguments at all.

Nat Hentoff is famously a Jewish athiest and pro-life.
posted by Jahaza at 9:58 PM on April 30, 2010


Grr... missing sentence...

And there are Jews and other members of non-Christian religions and even agnostics and athiests active in the anti-abortion activism.
posted by Jahaza at 10:12 PM on April 30, 2010


Sigh. This is why I'll always have a job. I want nothing more than to be put out of work and be forced to do something else. Maybe teach history and talk about this in the past tense. I'm not holding my breath.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:15 PM on April 30, 2010


The Kansas House of Representatives on Friday failed to override the governor's veto of a stringent abortion bill. By two votes. One small victory in the face of Sooner insanity.

Forgive a foreigner's ignorance, but is there some particular reason why several states have recently had anti-abortion legislation before their legislatures or is it just one of those issues on which bills are constantly being introduced and which will always come to a vote in each legislative term of office?
posted by Lolie at 10:20 PM on April 30, 2010


I might as well mention that PM Stephen Harper is currently being put through the wringer over participation in G8 foreign aid and abortion funding. He's agginnit, of course, but he's also really reluctant to push. Demonstrating an Oklahoma mindset would, I hope, prove to be political suicide in this country.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:51 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Your two beliefs are contradictory. When the belief that a persons body should be sacrosanct with regard to the law is enforced by the courts, that is the imposition on people of a belief many do not subscribe to.

I do not believe that is what I said.

It's interesting that you write "Conservative and Reform Jews" in suggesting that anti-abortion laws represent specifically Christian position being imposed on you. I assume you've done this because you know many Orthodox authorities would agree with broader prohibitions on abortion (at least moral prohibitions, if not necessarily legal ones)?

No, I meant exactly what I said in that sentence. You're reading something into my comments that isn't there. Further:

You mistake Judaism for a monolithic religion. It is not.

You assume incorrectly that Orthodox Judaism is representative of the majority of Jews. It is not.

In addition, you assume that Christian pro-life concepts map perfectly onto Jewish ones. They do not.

You further assume that because you can name one non-observant atheist Jew (or even a few?) who happen(s) to be pro-life, you have refuted my assertion. You have not. I can only assume you did not read what I said.

Emphasis mine: I wrote: "To a majority of Conservative and Reform Jews, including myself, life begins at birth, not in the womb.

This statement is precisely, exactly accurate.

Conservative and Reform law, which is followed by a majority of both sects, states that a fetus is a potential human life in the process of development that does not achieve full individual human life status until birth.

In fact, Orthodox law states the same thing.

Therefore, to the majority of Jews across all three sects, life begins at birth, not in the womb.

Someone who is atheist who is born Jewish, is not observant. They are therefore not followers of any sect's religious laws. They are neither Conservative, nor Reform, and their beliefs or lack thereof are therefore irrelevant to my statement.

Orthodox authorities tend to have views that are different than Conservative and Reform authorities regarding whether and how that potential life should be protected. In fact, they differ as to when an abortion may or may not be performed. However, all three mainstream sects agree that an abortion is not only acceptable, but absolutely mandatory, if the life of the mother is endangered by her pregnancy. The life of a mother as a fully developed individual ALWAYS takes priority over that of a developing fetus.

Jews also do not believe that our religious beliefs should be applied to non-Jews.

This differs greatly from Catholic and the majority of pro-life Christian beliefs, who hold that life begins at conception and all abortions, including non-Christian abortions -- should be prohibited.

The reason I did not mention the Orthodox is because they make up less than 15% of American Jewry (official estimates range from 8% to 15% -- their true numbers are probably somewhere in the middle.) The Orthodox are not in the majority, but even if they were, Judaism is not a monolithic religion. The majority of observant Jews are Conservative and Reform, and a majority of those two sects (which far outnumber the Orthodox,) consistently align themselves with the pro-choice movement. There are pro-life Conservatives. There are probably a very small number of pro-life Reform Jews. There are pro-life Orthodox Jews and pro-choice Orthodox Jews.

These facts do not change the accuracy of my original statement.

And there are Jews and In fact, if you look at the arguments against abortion, you'll find that many of them are not religious arguments at all.

The pro-life movement in this country is overwhelmingly sourced by religious Christians, who are working to change secular laws about abortion so that they conform to their beliefs on whether every American citizen, Christian or not, should be allowed to have an abortion. Whether there are Jewish atheists who are pro-life is besides the point. Whether there are Orthodox Jews who are pro-life is also besides the point. And for you to argue otherwise is either spectacularly obtuse, or astonishingly disingenuous.
posted by zarq at 11:06 PM on April 30, 2010 [37 favorites]


zarq wrote: "Catholic Bishops also look to enact anti-abortion laws in the US, as does the Southern Baptist Convention. One can be a Dominionist and not be an Evangelical."

I was more referring to the rank and file members, rather than the institutions themselves. Most religious institutions are shitheels about something or another, but the..fervor..of the congregations tend to vary widely between different denominations.

Maybe I just don't know enough Catholics, but the ones I know are all quite happy to keep their moralizing to themselves and not impose it on others. By contrast, the Baptists (who are thick around here) are vastly more inclined to dictate what the rest of society does.

I think my hypothesis has some support in that it is Oklahoma, one of the most evangelical places in the country, that is passing the most backwards laws on this subject and not some other state where you'll find less Baptists and more Episcopalians or whatever.
posted by wierdo at 1:13 AM on May 1, 2010


I know people are saying that these two laws are inconsistent, but to me they seem horribly consistent with one objective - making it as traumatic as possible for women to terminate a pregnancy following the discovery of a fetal abnormality in the second trimester.

If you assume that is the real purpose of the laws, then consider that when those laws are applied in tandem we're talking about women who are 18-20 weeks pregnant either being denied information about any detected abnormalities in the fetus they are carrying or women who have been given that information and elected to terminate the pregnancy (a pregnancy which may very well have been not just wanted but actively pursued) being forced to then endure an ultrasound during which they'll be given information about that fetus which they may now prefer not to know - such as gender.

It's a recipe for emotional manipulation at its worst.
posted by Lolie at 1:31 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


How weird. Hello? Metafilter? Are you there? How can it be that no one here has pointed out the true motivation behind laws of this nature? Punish women? No, come on, not really. Save babies? Please, we all no that's not it.

The reason is the seeking of political power for the purpose of personal gain, by means of wedge issues. The cost in human suffering is insignificant in comparison to the potential profits, at least in the view of these politicians. (Oh, when will they open that Fletcher Memorial Home?)
posted by Goofyy at 2:10 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of the nastier aspects of this legislation is the sheer range of people who've been given standing under it to accuse a doctor of "unprofessional conduct".

Pretty much any doctor who lets his patient listen to her iPod while the ultrasound is being conducted in order to spare her the ordeal of listening to a description of the "physical characteristics" of the fetus risks being accused by an astonishing range of "interested parties" of failing to comply with the legislation, and the legislation specifically provides for doctors who don't comply with the requirements to lose their licences to provide abortions.

The legislation might not specifically say that a doctor must tell the patient that the ultrasound shows 5 perfect digits on each limb and reveals the gender of the fetus, but the with-holding of any information about the "physical characteristics" of the fetus certainly opens the door for the accusation by everyone but the garbage collector that the doctor did not comply with the legislation.

The requirement to keep the records so long means that a doctor is going to be pretty much obliged to record which "physical characteristics" of the fetus he pointed out to the patient and justify any omissions, even if the patient specifically requested non-disclosure of information such as gender. So much for the "privacy" principle on which the original Roe decision was based, and the "undue burden" principle of Casey.
posted by Lolie at 2:45 AM on May 1, 2010


From the NY Times Link: “The goal of this legislation is just to make a statement for the sanctity of human life,” State Senator Todd Lamb, the majority floor leader, said in an interview after the vote. “Maybe someday these babies will grow up to be police officers and arrest bad people, or will find a cure for cancer.”

Odd that the highest calling the senator can imagine is that of police officer. Or not odd so much as telling, clearly the dream job of an authoritarian type personality. He does mention that favorite catch-all: scientist who cures cancer! but that was secondary in his mind. I would have thought teacher, doctor, minister, or artist would be lovely professions to imagine for these hypothetical children, but then I am not a Republican.

any doctor who lets his patient listen to her iPod while the ultrasound is being conducted in order to spare her the ordeal of listening to a description of the "physical characteristics" of the fetus risks being accused by an astonishing range of "interested parties" of failing to comply with the legislation,


I agree. It is the phrase "the interested party" which concerns me. Along with mandatory ultrasounds, there is a trend in the new wave of anti-abortion bills to involve people other than the patient. Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson vetoed a law that would allow a woman's family members to sue any doctor who gave her an abortion without her consent, which seems like a very strange law-- why do family members need to be involved when the patient herself could sue if she was given an abortion without her consent (and has that ever happened in the last 40 years?) My guess is that the legislators were trying to leave the door open to husbands and parents who found out after the fact to punish the doctor for performing an abortion. Which is again another way of controlling women.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:13 AM on May 1, 2010


Unfair snark: If Oklahoman doctors had to tell the truth about birth defects, no Oklahomans would be born.

Eh, there's a difference between snark and being an insulting asshole
posted by the bricabrac man at 6:00 AM on May 1, 2010


We aren't mind readers. We can't know the anti-choicers' true motivations. Maybe they really do want state control over your ladyparts. But I haven't heard anyone saying that, and it really makes more sense that they don't. They want the state to protect the proto-baby's rights on an equal footing with everyone else's.

Just as my right to dance naked in the streets is trumped by my neighbor's right to not have to see that, they believe that the proto-baby's right to not be killed trumps a woman's right to not have fetuses living inside them.

I disagree with them, but at least to that extent, I see no problem with their logic.

They lose me, however, when they start in with the "oh, it's not murder if the fetus is a product of rape or incest" or "it's murder, but we can't stomach actually charging people who have or perform abortions with murder" stuff. The fetus either IS a child and abortion IS murder with all the subsequent consequences, or it's not.

People shooting abortion doctors aren't pro-lifers any more than suicide bombers are religious- those people are simply lunatic murders who latched onto something to get themselves whipped up about.
posted by gjc at 6:11 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been a moderate on abortion, thinking it's a disturbing practice, but one that should be legal as illegal abortions can be gruesome and deadly. I'd rather there be no abortions, but I know that to be impossible. Are there any good books on the pro-choice position that I can read to better understand the position most MeFites seem to share?

If my religion matters, I'm a very liberal Reformed Presbyterian. Borderline agnostic.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:31 AM on May 1, 2010


They want the state to protect the proto-baby's rights on an equal footing with everyone else's.

They believe everyone else should be guaranteed adequate nutrition, and they believe everyone else should be able to require other people to go through significant physiological changes with lifelong consequences to support them, and they believe everyone else should be able to force someone else to suffer very high risk of serious injury and nontrivial risk of death to support them?

Funny. I thought that by and large they thought that everyone else shouldn't even be able to force someone else to pay marginally higher taxes to support them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:50 AM on May 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Actually, Mccarty.tim, the "pro-choice position" can be summed up quite simply -- it's not so much about the ethicity of abortion, but rather the autonomy of the individual to come to her own choices ABOUT that ethicity.

Basically -- whether or not abortion is icky isn't the point. I'm pretty similar to your views on abortion myself. BUT -- I also believe that that is just MY opinion, and other people have had other experiences which could cause them to have other opinions on the issue. Therefore, a government legislating ONE ethical opinion on abortion across the board, when there are SCORES of other opinions on its ethicity, is ludicrious.

In short, "pro-choice" is not actually about the inherant ethicity of abortion as such. Instead, it's about each individual woman having the right to make her OWN judgement about the ethicity of abortion, and having the right to have final say on an issue that profoundly affects her health and life.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:55 AM on May 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


jeoc: "FWIW, they usually do this anyway to size/age the fetus before proceeding with the procedure or administering the drug. That doesn't make the whole pointing-out-features business any less abhorrent, though."

When I had one they did the ultrasound, but they let me decide beforehand whether or not I wanted to see it. I did not, so they didn't show it to me or tell me anything about it.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:17 AM on May 1, 2010


anniecat: "Okay, we raise money and put together a fund that will let women seeking abortions fly or bus to another state where we put them up at a motel or something until the abortion, and then they don't have to deal with this bullshit."

There is a charity that does that for women who are coming to New York City for second- and third-trimester abortions. I don't know about first-term abortions.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:28 AM on May 1, 2010


Basically -- whether or not abortion is icky isn't the point. I'm pretty similar to your views on abortion myself. BUT -- I also believe that that is just MY opinion, and other people have had other experiences which could cause them to have other opinions on the issue. Therefore, a government legislating ONE ethical opinion on abortion across the board, when there are SCORES of other opinions on its ethicity, is ludicrious.

There's also two more points on the pro-choice side.

1: Abortion is sometimes a medically necessary procedure under the very tightest of guidelines. If it's a choice between the life of the mother and the life of neither (e.g. Ectopic Pregnancies or 9 year old mothers) then ffs get a goddamn abortion. If you are trying to outright ban abortions then you are trying to kill people. Period.

2: Prevention is better than cure. I don't know anyone on the pro-choice side who would disagree with the statement that abortion should be "Safe, legal, and rare." If the pro-life side was actually interested in helping make abortion rare, whatever else it did, it would be putting massive resources into promotion of whatever worked when it comes to safe sex. Mandatory sex-ed (and none of this "Abstinance-Only crap"). Free condoms and the pill. And everything else to insure that no matter what the law says, there is as little demand for abortion as possible because no one ever gets pregnant accidently.

Planned Parenthood does more to lower the abortion rate than the entire so-called pro-Life movement combined. And while the pro-Life movement appears to want to make people go back to wire coathangers it needs opposing whatever other views on abortion are.
posted by Francis at 8:28 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do they really believe that abortion is murder?
... the leaders of the abortion criminalization movement have consistently put their political weight behind policies which make little or no sense if they genuinely think that abortion is identical to child murder. And those same leaders routinely endorse policies that make a lot of sense if their goal is to penalize women who have sex.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:53 AM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


This isn't pro-life. It's pro-birth.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:23 AM on May 1, 2010


This isn't pro-life. It's pro-birth.

I met somebody once who used the term "pro-natalist"; that always struck me as interesting if a bit high-falutin'.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:56 AM on May 1, 2010


I really wish pro-choice folk would quit giving the power of the words "pro-life" away to the anti-choice assholes. Most everyone is pro-life. Even the doctors who perform abortions and the wo
en who seek them.

Be smarter about your use of these terms. Don't let the anti-woman, anti-choice crowd control your use of language.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:07 AM on May 1, 2010


Your two beliefs are contradictory. When the belief that a persons body should be sacrosanct with regard to the law is enforced by the courts, that is the imposition on people of a belief many do not subscribe to.
I do not believe that is what I said.

It would be more helpful if instead of just saying "no" you explain how it is different than what you said.
It's interesting that you write "Conservative and Reform Jews" in suggesting that anti-abortion laws represent specifically Christian position being imposed on you. I assume you've done this because you know many Orthodox authorities would agree with broader prohibitions on abortion (at least moral prohibitions, if not necessarily legal ones)?
No, I meant exactly what I said in that sentence. You're reading something into my comments that isn't there. Further:


I'm not reading anything extra into your comment. I'm trying to rebut the idea that favoring moral or legal restrictions to abortion is a specifically Christian belief, something that is a necessary premise of your idea that restrictions on abortion are the imposition on you of a Christian belief. The existence of a significant group of Jews who hold a much more restrictive view on abortion is evidence that holding a restrictive view on abortion is not a specifically Christian position.

You mistake Judaism for a monolithic religion. It is not.

Actually, there's no reason to think that I assume Judaism is a monolithic religion. Indeed, my introduction of the beliefs on Orthodox Jews is to suggest further division in Jewish opinion than you did. Making the exact point that Judaism is not a monolithic religion.


You assume incorrectly that Orthodox Judaism is representative of the majority of Jews. It is not.

I assume no such thing. I do, however, argue that Orthodox Judaism is a Jewish opinion.

In addition, you assume that Christian pro-life concepts map perfectly onto Jewish ones. They do not.

No, in no way do I assume that. You're reading into it things I haven't written.

You further assume that because you can name one non-observant atheist Jew (or even a few?) who happen(s) to be pro-life, you have refuted my assertion. You have not. I can only assume you did not read what I said.

Emphasis mine: I wrote: "To a majority of Conservative and Reform Jews, including myself, life begins at birth, not in the womb.

This statement is precisely, exactly accurate.


I agree that that is precisely exactly accurate. (Which is why I didn't dispute it.) What I dispute is the idea that legal opposition to abortion as it is practiced in our society is an essentially a Christian belief, a necessary precondition for your argument that legal restrictions on abortion are an imposition on your right to not have Christian views imposed on you.

Consider for instance the prohibition of theft. Christianity is opposed to theft. But the imposition of laws against theft is not the imposition of a Christian belief, because it is frequently held that theft is wrong by people other than Christians.

Conservative and Reform law, which is followed by a majority of both sects, states that a fetus is a potential human life in the process of development that does not achieve full individual human life status until birth.

In fact, Orthodox law states the same thing.

Therefore, to the majority of Jews across all three sects, life begins at birth, not in the womb.


You can argue that personhood and/or human life begins at birth and not in the womb and still be opposed to abortion.

Someone who is atheist who is born Jewish, is not observant. They are therefore not followers of any sect's religious laws. They are neither Conservative, nor Reform, and their beliefs or lack thereof are therefore irrelevant to my statement.

They're irrelevant to your statement about what Reform and Conservative Jews believe. They are not at all irrelevant to your statement that anti-abortion laws represent the imposition of Christian beliefs, because they hold those beliefs without being Christians.

Jews also do not believe that our religious beliefs should be applied to non-Jews.

This differs greatly from Catholic and the majority of pro-life Christian beliefs, who hold that life begins at conception and all abortions, including non-Christian abortions -- should be prohibited.


I don't think the general premise here is true

The reason I did not mention the Orthodox is because they make up less than 15% of American Jewry (official estimates range from 8% to 15% -- their true numbers are probably somewhere in the middle.) The Orthodox are not in the majority, but even if they were, Judaism is not a monolithic religion. The majority of observant Jews are Conservative and Reform, and a majority of those two sects (which far outnumber the Orthodox,) consistently align themselves with the pro-choice movement. There are pro-life Conservatives. There are probably a very small number of pro-life Reform Jews. There are pro-life Orthodox Jews and pro-choice Orthodox Jews.

These facts do not change the accuracy of my original statement.


They don't change your statement about Reform and Conservative Jews. They do militate against the argument that your statement was supporting: "[Pro-life legislation] imposes a Christian belief on me and my family which I do not ascribe to. "

That pro-life legislation represent an imposition of Christian beliefs in such a way as to be objectionable, requires, I think, more than showing that the beliefs are held by Christians, but also that they are not held by non-Christians. Otherwise, it's not an imposition of specifically Christian beliefs (as with the example of theft above.)
And there are Jews and In fact, if you look at the arguments against abortion, you'll find that many of them are not religious arguments at all.
The pro-life movement in this country is overwhelmingly sourced by religious Christians, who are working to change secular laws about abortion so that they conform to their beliefs on whether every American citizen, Christian or not, should be allowed to have an abortion.

By sourced you mean "populated"? That's true. And the rest of your statement is true too, they are trying to change the laws and impose a belief on both Christians and non-Christians But it doesn't at all address whether their belief is a Christian belief. Pro-life Catholics from the Pope down generally (though probably not universally) maintain that it is not a Christian belief, but rather a secular one based on natural reason alone. If you don't know that and are not aware of the natural law arguments being put forth then you're missing a huge part of the debate over abortion in this country.

And for you to argue otherwise is either spectacularly obtuse, or astonishingly disingenuous.

I know you're passionate about this issue, but to argue that I'm being dishonest is really rather offensive.
posted by Jahaza at 10:24 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm seeing a worrying amount of liberal lawyers elsewhere online giving the opinion that these laws will probably pass Constitutional muster, effectively giving states the right to radically restrict 20+ weeks abortion in the same way they've always retained the right to effectively ban third trimester abortion.

You can see where the anti-abortion lobby are hoping this will lead - to the gestational age of "viability" (both Roe and Casey held that the state's interest outweighs the pregnant woman's interest once a fetus is "viable") being lowered to the point where it occurs at or about the same time when routine antenatal screening would reveal fetal abnormalities.

A delay of even a few weeks involved in a woman getting hold of her test results from one provider for review by another could easily mean that by the time she has managed to obtain those results the fetus would be regarded as "viable" under state laws and the "preservation of the life or health of the mother" test would then be applied.

There may be parts of this legislation which the SCOTUS will rule impose an "undue burden" on a woman seeking an abortion of a non-viable fetus, but unless it's struck down in its entirety it seems inevitable that it will in some way further claw back access to safe, legal abortion for a significant number of women in the US.
posted by Lolie at 5:09 PM on May 1, 2010


When the belief that a persons body should be sacrosanct with regard to the law is enforced by the courts, that is the imposition on people of a belief many do not subscribe to.

It's in the constitution. You have an inalienable right to life and liberty. That means you cannot alienate the right of being alive and having personal autonomy. You can't barter or sell that right - it's an absolute right according to our founding document.

Interpreting that means things like euthanasia, prostitution, and abortion get kind of complicated. But to say that it's imposing a belief is being totally oblivious. It was agreed to at the start. If women are citizens and fetuses are not, then women's bodies should be protected by the constitution, and they are left with the autonomy of deciding what to do about the non-citizen life forms that are growing inside them. There may be some protective laws, much like there are for animals, but if the rights of a citizen and the rights of a non-citizen are at odds, the government should only have an interest in protecting the citizen.
posted by mdn at 7:40 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's in the constitution. You have an inalienable right to life and liberty.

That's the Declaration of Independence.

if the rights of a citizen and the rights of a non-citizen are at odds, the government should only have an interest in protecting the citizen

You're saying that any time the rights of a US citizen and the rights of a foreign tourist come into any conflict, the government should always and without exception side with the US citizen in total disregard of whose claim might be most correct?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:38 PM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


the bricabrac man wrote: "Eh, there's a difference between snark and being an insulting asshole"

As an Oklahoman, I think it's fair to say we deserve abuse at the moment.
posted by wierdo at 8:57 PM on May 1, 2010


You're saying that any time the rights of a US citizen and the rights of a foreign tourist come into any conflict, the government should always and without exception side with the US citizen in total disregard of whose claim might be most correct?

It might be more accurate to say that the courts cannot recognize rights of something that is not considered to be a legal person.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:03 PM on May 1, 2010


What I dispute is the idea that legal opposition to abortion as it is practiced in our society is an essentially a Christian belief, a necessary precondition for your argument that legal restrictions on abortion are an imposition on your right to not have Christian views imposed on you. Consider for instance the prohibition of theft. Christianity is opposed to theft. But the imposition of laws against theft is not the imposition of a Christian belief, because it is frequently held that theft is wrong by people other than Christians.

Jaharza, I think where things are getting garbled is that while opposition to abortion is not as such solely a "Christian belief," at present, it is overwhelmingly only Christians who are working to render abortion illegal.

Yes, Orthodox Judaism also forbids abortion -- but Orthodox Jews do not also believe that the whole of the rest of the nation should be compelled to also follow their views. It's also true that most Christians also do not feel that the whole of the rest of the nation should be thus compelled. But the majority of the people who do feel thus are indeed Christian.

And, as it turns out, odds are also great that most of the people who do argue thus also tend to argue that America "is a Christian nation" and "should return to Christian values". So while technically opposition to abortion is not a solely Christian belief, to the vast majority of pro-life activists, it certainly is, and they're the ones guiding the action now. So that's why people in here argue that they don't want to have Christian views being imposed on them -- because it is Christians who are trying to impose their views on us.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:59 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're saying that any time the rights of a US citizen and the rights of a foreign tourist come into any conflict, the government should always and without exception side with the US citizen in total disregard of whose claim might be most correct?

The government doesn't side with anyone; they just protects rights. And it protects rights of its citizens. If we're talking about a citizen of a foreign government, they have their rights protected by international agreements. If we're talking about an animal, there may be concerns for humane treatment which can result in protective laws, but not rights. If we're talking about a fetus, there may be concerns for potential citizens which can result in protective laws, but not rights.

I'm not saying this is necessarily the best way, or that things have to be or should be forever this way, but this is how things are. If you are arguing for a different system, the legal claims need to be made clear: is the idea that fetuses should be citizens? That women's rights become secondary when they're pregnant? (Or perhaps the very idea of a rights-based system is unappealing, but that's a more complicated discussion).

I think pro-life people just aren't thinking legally - they just want women to choose not to have abortions.
posted by mdn at 8:19 AM on May 2, 2010


The government doesn't side with anyone; they just protects rights. And it protects rights of its citizens.

That's not true, though. The federal and state governments protect the rights of anyone physically present in the US, with the narrow exceptions of explicitly political-process rights like voting in US elections or serving on US juries. Not because of any international agreements, but because the Constitution requires them to. The Constitution protects the free assembly, free expression, free exercise, and all the other rights of everyone who is in the US, not US citizens.

Fetuses don't have rights not because they're not citizens, but because they're not persons. They can be the beneficiaries of other actors' interests in them, but can't have rights or interests of their own.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:00 AM on May 2, 2010


me: You assume incorrectly that Orthodox Judaism is representative of the majority of Jews. It is not.

Jahaza: I assume no such thing.

I did not understand why you mentioned them when I made my comment. I believe I do now. In order to diminish the role of Christians in the pro-life movement, you're trying to say that the movement is made up of many groups, and specifically mention the Orthodox as an example. Yes?

Orthodox rabbis generally don't dictate that their beliefs on abortion should be applied to non-Jews, the way that Catholic priests and other Christian clergy do. There is no mainstream equivalent organization in the Orthodox rabbinate to Priests for Life, for example, or other, similar Christian-faith groups that lobby for pro-life legislation. The closest analogue would probably be Yehuda Levin and his small group of fanatical followers, who are considered extreme fundamentalists. (Which doesn't stop the pro-life movement from wrongly characterizing him as mainstream whenever he opens his mouth to support them.) The Orthodox rabbis consistent refusal to involve themselves with the larger, non-Jewish segments of the pro-life movement has raised complaints by some within their laity.

This is why I said that Jews generally do not believe our beliefs should be imposed on non-Jews. Since we are discussing Christian lobbying efforts towards secular bans on abortion, this distinction is indeed important.

I do, however, argue that Orthodox Judaism is a Jewish opinion.

Yes, of course it is. But you presented that opinion as one I had deliberately ignored in order to make my point. Which is why I said I believe you were wrong about whether it is significant, and also why I said that you were wrong about the intent behind my comment. This is also the reason I spent so much time explaining why the majority of Jews don't try and legislate their beliefs about abortion on the general population.

Traditionally, American Jews are rather liberal on social issues, because as a group we tend to fear losing our hard-won freedoms, and work against curtailing them. So, we worked behind the scenes of the civil rights movement, generally vote pro-choice and in support of gay marriage and favor legislation that cuts a clear dividing line between church and state. Please note that the motivation here isn't generally a religious one, but rather pro-liberty. Historically-speaking, we've often been the target of legislation that takes away civil freedoms and know how damaging that can be, so we try to fight such laws when and where we can.

me: In addition, you assume that Christian pro-life concepts map perfectly onto Jewish ones. They do not.

Jahaza: No, in no way do I assume that. You're reading into it things I haven't written.

How am I doing so, please?

You're arguing that a subset of religious and non-religious Jews are members of the pro-life movement, and this is somehow intended to rebut my points that most religious Jews are not, and that their rights and beliefs would be infringed upon by Christians who want their pro-life beliefs to become secular law -- applied to everyone.

I agree that that is precisely exactly accurate. (Which is why I didn't dispute it.) What I dispute is the idea that legal opposition to abortion as it is practiced in our society is an essentially a Christian belief, a necessary precondition for your argument that legal restrictions on abortion are an imposition on your right to not have Christian views imposed on you.

That's not exactly what I'm saying. It's not solely a Christian belief. What I object to is Christians taking it upon themselves to impose their belief on the rest of us for religious reasons.

Catholics and conservative Christians have been a primary motivating force behind the pro-life movement's anti-abortion lobby since Roe vs. Wade. American Catholic clergy were a large part of the movement's initial push in the 70's, through the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Family Life Bureau. Catholics continue that tradition today. See statements here. From the NPR Council and Operation Rescue to Survivors and Christian Soldiers, the pro-life movement is filled with Christians who believe they have a religious obligation to stop everyone, not just other Christians, from having abortions. So no, I did not say that it is solely a Christian belief. My criticism here is that many, many, many groups of Christians seem to think that their anti-choice beliefs should be imposed on others. Which is why I said that if Christians have a problem with abortions, they should stop having them. Problem solved.

Consider for instance the prohibition of theft. Christianity is opposed to theft. But the imposition of laws against theft is not the imposition of a Christian belief, because it is frequently held that theft is wrong by people other than Christians.

I was wondering if you were going to bring this up. The idea that morality is universal is a standard pro-life argument, and some Catholics are even briefed on it when they study abortion from a religious perspective.

Unfortunately, this teaching ignores a very simple fact: it is not a universally accepted idea that a fetus is a person, nor that abortion is a form of murder. Arguments in favor of a universal morality perspective often seem to assume that context should not be relevant. In this case, context would seem to be everything. I agree that theft and murder are bad and should be prohibited. I do not believe a fetus is a fully realized human being, or that abortion is murder. If someone can't accept my belief, I have no problem with that. But that doesn't give them the right to impose their belief to the contrary on anyone else.

You can argue that personhood and/or human life begins at birth and not in the womb and still be opposed to abortion.

Of course you can. One can also be Jewish and pro-life yet still be opposed to anti-choice laws.

me: This differs greatly from Catholic and the majority of pro-life Christian beliefs, who hold that life begins at conception and all abortions, including non-Christian abortions -- should be prohibited.

Jahaza: I don't think the general premise here is true

You're right. This isn't true and I was wrong to have said it. Pro-life opinions on abortion vary widely.

Jahaza: That pro-life legislation represent an imposition of Christian beliefs in such a way as to be objectionable, requires, I think, more than showing that the beliefs are held by Christians, but also that they are not held by non-Christians. Otherwise, it's not an imposition of specifically Christian beliefs (as with the example of theft above.)
And there are Jews and In fact, if you look at the arguments against abortion, you'll find that many of them are not religious arguments at all.


Me: The pro-life movement in this country is overwhelmingly sourced by religious Christians, who are working to change secular laws about abortion so that they conform to their beliefs on whether every American citizen, Christian or not, should be allowed to have an abortion.

Jahaza: By sourced you mean "populated"? That's true. And the rest of your statement is true too, they are trying to change the laws and impose a belief on both Christians and non-Christians But it doesn't at all address whether their belief is a Christian belief. Pro-life Catholics from the Pope down generally (though probably not universally) maintain that it is not a Christian belief, but rather a secular one based on natural reason alone.

A large number of Christian clergy certainly seem to think it is. Since Christian clergy preach pro-life political activism from the pulpit, it's hard for me to believe that they're doing so solely because they think it's an interesting secular topic. Especially when they invoke religious rhetoric and Biblical passages to prove their points.

If you don't know that and are not aware of the natural law arguments being put forth then you're missing a huge part of the debate over abortion in this country.

Are all those preachers and Bishops channeling Aquinas, then? I'm not trying to be flip. Is this what you're asserting?

I am familiar with Natural Law theory. I'm also aware of how various Catholic thinkers throughout history have sought to apply it to the realms of Catholic theology.

I know you're passionate about this issue, but to argue that I'm being dishonest is really rather offensive.

I felt you were trying to deny the substantial role of Christians in the pro-life movement which seemed quite dishonest to me. I also felt that you were deliberately misreading my comment to make a questionable point. I am not entirely sure I misread your intent, but I do apologize for that part of my comment.
posted by zarq at 11:47 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Today, a state judge issued a temporary restraining order barring enforcement of this law while a case is heard regarding it.
posted by wierdo at 10:36 PM on May 3, 2010


thank you for the update, wierdo.

summer is around the corner - we should do another tulsa meet up soon (and you should come this time!)
posted by nadawi at 10:46 PM on May 3, 2010


Today, a state judge issued a temporary restraining order barring enforcement of this law while a case is heard regarding it.

That's good to hear. Thank you for letting us know.
posted by zarq at 11:14 PM on May 3, 2010


It is good to hear. I have a professional conference in OK and June and was thinking about whether I should raise the issue in the online pre-conference discussion.
posted by Miko at 6:37 AM on May 4, 2010


Abortion rate rises among poor women: Those living in poverty are now twice as likely to terminate a pregnancy, says a new report
posted by homunculus at 4:19 PM on May 5, 2010


Oklahoma Governor Vetoes Abortion Website Bill
posted by homunculus at 10:59 AM on May 25, 2010


Good. Let's see if the legislature vetoes his veto.

The only possible justification for that website bill is to intimidate women into not having abortions.
posted by zarq at 11:37 AM on May 25, 2010


Don't worry. Oklahoma's Senate has not gained rationality in the last month. Their excuse for this turd of a bill? "Women don't have to provide the information." Fat lotta good Henry's vetoes are doing.

Oklahoma Senate overrides abortion info veto
posted by wierdo at 1:32 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


On further reflection, funny how the Republicans here are so against things like REAL ID, government run CCTV cameras, and that sort of thing, yet are more than happy to pry in other people's business.

Can the rest of the country please boycott my state?
posted by wierdo at 1:34 PM on May 25, 2010


One Year Later: Honoring Dr. George Tiller
posted by homunculus at 10:21 AM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


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