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Tilting at Windmills

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March 21, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

OPPOSING ABORTION....Are hardcore abortion opponents genuinely motivated by a belief that abortion is murder? Or are they driven more by a simple desire to punish women who have sex?

I'd say the latter, but since this is a matter of divining underlying motivations it's a hard case to prove. Still, you can produce a lot of evidence in its favor, and today Ampersand does exactly that using the table format so characteristic of my own blogging habits.

You can probably argue with a couple of items in Amp's list, but not with his overall conclusion. The fact is that the behavior of hardcore abortion opponents just doesn't correspond very well with a genuine belief that fetuses are babies. But punishing women who have sex? Oh yeah.

Kevin Drum 7:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (229)

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It is ALL economics

"They" want more births & less deaths so as to increase the population base against which to borrow for current "use"

Take the birth rate(s) & plot them out 50 or so years & note the differences in levels of possible indebtedness (on both the personal level and the governmental level)

Lack of concern for already living persons exposes the falsity of the anti-abortionist statements

"To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today." - Isaac Asimov

Posted by: daCascadian on March 21, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Opposition to abortion can come from many reasons. Humans are complicated. I've hoped to stress in my opposition to abortion that one of the aspects of Love is acceptance that individuals have a value that has nothing to do with definitions and criteria. I want to cast a wide net.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 21, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a reluctant believer in legal access to abortion in at least some circumstances, but my conscience is less offended by the notion of abortion early in pregnancy than later.

Do you not believe any "fetuses" are babies? Not even if they could be viable outside the womb?

Hmm . . .

Posted by: Andrew J. Lederer on March 21, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Are hardcore abortion opponents genuinely motivated by a belief that abortion is murder? Or are they driven more by a simple desire to punish women who have sex?

Some of each, but another motivation was articulated some years ago by Pat Buchanan, which still often appears in fundamentalist propaganda. Buchanan feared that the declining birthrates in Western nations would eventually lead to the demise of Christianity. Fundie opposition to abortion is fueled at least in part by their feeling that US women should essentially be baby factories in order to stave off the unwashed hoardes. I know it's silly, but that's how a lot of them think...

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 21, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, it's liberals like you who make People of Faith hate liberals. People of Faith are opposed to abortion because they believe life begins at conception and abortion is murder. Since you can't refute this self-evident truth you must attack them for wanting to punish women for having sex. As a recent Pew poll shows, more and more people believe liberals and Democrats are hostile to religion. Your latest mad rantings against religious people only confirm to us that this is true.

Posted by: Al on March 21, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

I do agree that pro-lifers are being inconsistent when they support laws against the abortionist, but not the mother.

Posted by: Don P. on March 21, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Do you not believe any "fetuses" are babies? Not even if they could be viable outside the womb?"

I'm not sure what a "fetus" is, but I believe a fetus is not a baby.

Posted by: Marky on March 21, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

*Whatever* reason abortion opponents have, they're wrong. The decision to have a baby or not is one person's decision, and one person's only: the pregnant woman. It's nobody else's business, period. You have a moral objection to abortion? Fine; then don't have one. But don't try to make that decision for any other person. It's just not your buiness, period.

Posted by: Gerald Scorse on March 21, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Once upon a time I knew (slightly) a girl whose roommate was pregnant and talking of having an abortion. I offered to adopt the kid myself. Finally, you explain why, Kevin.
I guess I don't really know myself.
Thank you so much.

Posted by: gcochran on March 21, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

There's nothing in Ampersand's piece that we haven't been saying in PA comments for ages. In fact, some Dems have been making tenuous passes at driving the wedge by asking anti-choice folks to step up and promote contraceptive education and access. That's the way to separate the wheat from the chaff on this issue.

What would actually be useful is hard numbers--HOW many people support rape/incest exceptions? HOW many people condone clinic bombings?

Er, so I guess I'll get on that.

Posted by: shortstop on March 21, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Are hardcore abortion opponents genuinely motivated by a belief that abortion is murder? Or are they driven more by a simple desire to punish women who have sex?

The latter, obviously. Otherwise birth control programs would be supported by the vast majority of abortion opponents.

Posted by: has407 on March 21, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

"making tenuous passes at driving the wedge"--nice writing there, shortstop.

Posted by: shortstop on March 21, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

Al, it's reading-challenged people like you that make reasonable people want to gouge their own eyes out after reading one of your mad rantings. Kevin is referring to the most vociferous "hardcore" abortion opponents here, not your nebulously-described "People of Faith".

Posted by: SED on March 21, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK
Are hardcore abortion opponents genuinely motivated by a belief that abortion is murder? Or are they driven more by a simple desire to punish women who have sex?

Or is this a stupid false dichotomy (on the one hand), any answer to which also is a false generalization (on the other).

Some are probably motivated by the former, primarily. Some are probably motivated by something like the latter. Some are probably motivated by entirely different reasons.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 21, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

Luckily, the Amazon search engine, if you searched on "abortion," would come up as "Did you mean 'adoption'?"

Down with RU-486

Posted by: Freedom Phucker on March 21, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans control the House, the Senate and the Presidency....why don't they just pass a law outlawing abortion tomorrow? Are they really concerned more with availability of abortions or could it be abortions are nothing more than a political tactic? Why not, when in power, do something about it?

Posted by: MRB on March 21, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

We need to have an open and honest discussion about abortion, including how the poor women who are raped by a drunken, abusive father or uncle should be treated. Or the woman who is carrying a second child that she knows from amniocentesis is anacephalic (has no brain) or has severe mental retardation with physical complications. Or the 14 year old who is date raped.

Are they simply incubators for a fetus? Do the mothers have any say in the matter? Where is the money going to come from to care for severely dysfunctional children? Can we raise prolifers taxes to pay for that?

These smug assholes that say "all life is precious" and walk away, damn well better have a home full of adopted, foster children or their viewpoints are worth less than nothing.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 21, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK
Kevin is referring to the most vociferous "hardcore" abortion opponents here, not your nebulously-described "People of Faith".


Those people? I'd say that the most common motivation among them is personal feelings of power and popular acclaim from followersm, not punishing women or protecting "children".

But then, I think that's common among the most vociferous members of any well-established political group.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 21, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

this list was horribly unconvincing (besides being wrong)...sure..its ultimate point is indicative of some pro-lifers I suppose (though monocausal explanations of complex social phenomena are nearly always wrong)...

with that said...Catholic pro-lifers tend to be anti-contraception...evangelical ones tend to use and support bc...(the fact that they also oppose premarital sex draws into their views on sex-ed and the like)...there are more of the latter than the former.

many abortion opponents oppose rape and incest exceptions (Pat Buchanan, the official editorial policy of the National Review); others support them on philosophical grounds (the Thomson violinist argument works as an explanation of why the mother has no duties to the fetus in an involuntary pregnancy....)

the list goes on and on.
of course, many abortion opponents believe that late-term abortions are murder and that early-term abortions are wrong...but not tantamount to murder.

I don't think I've ever articulated my abortion position here -- I believe that abortions up to around 20 weeks are an ill but should be legal...I believe that late-term abortions (except for legitimate physical medical reasons) are a form of infanticide e.g. murder. I therefore do strongly oppose the elective abortions available at any point in the pregnancy in NY and some other locales.

I believe this dovetails with the majority of the American populace. True pro-lifers would call me pro-choice...on WM I've got a feeling this makes me "anti-choice"....

Posted by: Nathan on March 21, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

"Or is this a stupid false dichotomy"

No, it's not.

"Some are probably motivated by the former, primarily."

I've yet to meet or discuss the issue with even one "pro-lifer" who talks and acts in a way that is really consistent with the belief that abortion is murder. They may claim to believe it's murder, but when you ask them about the kind of issues ampersand describes, it soon becomes obvious they're just throwing the word "murder" around for effect, without really thinking about what it implies. There may be a small number of true crazies in the movement who really do believe that abortion=murder (the kind who end up shooting abortion doctors), but they are obviously extremely rare exceptions.

Posted by: e12 on March 21, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

You don't believe some of these people are plain ol' misogynists?

Posted by: SED on March 21, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: Or is this a stupid false dichotomy (on the one hand), any answer to which also is a false generalization (on the other).

While I agree that Kevin has apparently been attending some sort of dollar sale on false dichotomies, there is something useful in pursuing this line of thought, if it's done in some sort of statistically valid way.

As I said above, I would really be interested in seeing hard numbers on responses to all of these (and more) questions. There may be few political independents running around, but there are a hell of a lot of people conflicted about various aspects of this and related sexual and reproductive issues. Clarifying the motivations and intentions of the people who are variously trying to overturn Roe, roll back abortion access, keep emergency contraception off the OTC shelves or deny contraception on a pharmacist's whim makes it easier to shape the message and get through to the people who think that none of these rights is in real danger.

Posted by: shortstop on March 21, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to see an example of any large pro-life group that advocates everything down that left-hand column.

I suspect an actual survey of those who believe themselves to be pro-life would find a much more varied response to all those positions.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 21, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

I should note that many will question my assertion that NY is a center for elective late-term abortions (i.e. defacto "abortion-on-demand" at any stage of the pregnancy).

besides my personal knowledge that such abortions are routinely performed at NYU Medical Center, I point you to this:

http://newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/news/features/15249/

Posted by: Nathan on March 21, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

People of Faith are opposed to abortion because they believe life begins at conception and abortion is murder.

If people of faith are opposed to abortion because life begins at conception why are they overwhelmingly in favor of the death penalty? For the most part they seem to be in favor of life until birth.

Fundamentalists of all stripes (Islamic, Jewish, Christian) all have one thing in common - the need to strongly control the female gender.

Posted by: ExBrits on March 21, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

I should note that many will question my assertion that...

I doubt anyone got that far.

Posted by: shortstop on March 21, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Pardon my feeding the troll, but

Kevin, it's liberals like you who make People of Faith hate liberals.

Al, it's the whatever you are who make me think "People of Faith" are liars. I don't remember the passage where Jesus says, "Hate all those who disagree with you."

I'd take so called People of Faith more seriously if their faith didn't always seem to mysteriously confirm their prejudices without having any impact on their behavior.

Posted by: Ray on March 21, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

exBrits:

apparently you don't know any conservative Catholics do you?

Posted by: Nathan on March 21, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

From my experience as a recovering Wahabi, I would say that the people that are most anti-abortion are driven by self-righteousness. Whipping yourself up into a frenzy about other people's sins allows the zealot the opportunity to distinguish himself from what he sees as the ignorant masses.

Misogyny is the by-product, but the actual source of the problem is self-pride, which of course is one of the seven deadly sins.

Posted by: enozinho on March 21, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

ExBrit: If people of faith are opposed to abortion because life begins at conception why are they overwhelmingly in favor of the death penalty?

Well, those opposed to abortion and in favor of the DP will tell you that it's about "innocent life" vs. "guilt." Which, of course, only strengthens the notion that it's all about judgment and punishment. Strangely enough, many of them will bend your ear about how the government can't do anything right, but state-sanctioned killing is not only right, but also free of potential error, in their view.

Posted by: shortstop on March 21, 2006 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say it's more about a self-serving need to claim the moral highground. It's the same motivation that drives religious sanctimony.

Quick story: My youngest child is now two, but during my wife's pregnancy a chromosome anomaly was identified in the fetus that didn't fall into any of the standard categories such as Down's Syndrome, so the doctors prepared us for the worst, and informed us that there was a good possibility of severe birth defects. At the time we were approaching the point in the pregnancy where if we chose to terminate, we had 1 week to do so legally, and so the doctors informed us of this option. Obviously we chose not to terminate in and he is now healthy, but has developmental delays. About a year after he was born we made a trip to my sister in laws in Georgia, and she invited us to her Sunday church service. To my surprise, during the service, the Reverend or preacher or whatever they're called asked us to come up to the front (with a crowd of several hundred) with our baby, and he asked to hold him. I was then shocked to hear him announce "The doctor's wanted to abort this baby! Can you believe that!" I was taken completely off guard, and Christ was I ever pissed off. The doctors who handled our case were heros in my book. They handled pregnancies and deliveries on a daily basis that were infinitely more traumatic than ours turned out to be, and this guy was sliming them as a rabble-rousing tactic. This is my point: these people need to feel morally superior. Forget gray areas, they don't serve the purpose so everything must be black and white.
End not-so-quick story.

Posted by: Paul on March 21, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

If people of faith are opposed to abortion because life begins at conception why are they overwhelmingly in favor of the death penalty? For the most part they seem to be in favor of life until birth.

There's a non-trivial number of people who oppose abortion and the death penalty. But as for those who oppose the former and support the latter, I suspect they'd contend simply that killing a fetus is unjustified, because it doesn't involve self-defense, whereas killing a dangerous criminal is justifiable killing in self -defense (in this case by society as a whole).

Posted by: 99 on March 21, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

Abortion. Gay marriage. Prayer in Schools. Flag protection bills.

These are the issues that will come to dominate the 2006 elections.

Not the deficit. Not the Iraq mess. Not the high cost of energy.

Oops, I forgot to add sex and pornography at the top.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 21, 2006 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Too many of those are "oppose liberal spending programs" supposedly making pro-lifers are inconsistent. You can consider abortion murder and not favor the welfare state - those are two different issues. Asserting they are one and the same and judging the motives of people who don't share that belief as if they did is bullshit.

Posted by: Scott on March 21, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Scott,

So if we could come up with a comprehensive contraception education program that was privately funded, then the majority of abortion opponents would be behind it?

Uhm, I don't think so.

Posted by: Ray on March 21, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

yet another example of how dangerous religion is.

i suspect many pro-lifers really do think what they're against is a kind of murder.

they also think, in what for them is likely an unrelated issue, that their version of morality should be imposed on all of us. for them, sex is sin, hence their opposition to all types of sex ed/birth control.

some of us see this as insane, because some of us are rational enough to understand that abortion is undesirable. and we would like to see a world where few people wanted/needed to have one.

one way to do this is, of course, to keep abortion legal and safe. made illegal, will abortion end? of course not. the number may go down, but significantly? doubtful. and the many abortions which continue to occur will be far less safe along with making both the doctor and the patient criminals. what use is this to anyone? how does this make the world a better place?

first and foremost we need extensive sex ed for kids. and for adults. knowledge is power. obviously. this is what religious leaders are most afraid of: that people will have access to knowledge. religious moralists don't want their power taken away. they want to dictate the decisions of others.

what galls me more than anything is simply that the goal of making abortion illegal is possibly the WORST WAY to stop abortions from taking place. this is what's so sad and confusing about the pro-life movement. this is what makes me think these people are deeply confused or simply lying.

maybe their motives really are the oppression of women. maybe they openly acknowledge this in their heart of hearts.

or maybe these people, used to being led, are simply too stupid to understand that their stated goal-- to make abortion illegal-- will do nothing but increase human misery.

i realize calling the opposition 'stupid' isn't the best argumentative tactic, but in this case i can see no other plausible alternative.

Posted by: rqz on March 21, 2006 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that human life begins at conception and that abortion constitutes the taking of a human life. I am a Democrat. While I disagree the party's position that abortion ought be legal, I think that abortion is not the only issue AND that the best way to prevent abortions is to provide the social and economic safety net advocated by Democrats.

Do I think abortion is murder? I have known several women who have had abortions, and none of them believed that they were taking a human life. I assume that their doctors shared that opinion. I'm not a criminal lawyer, but that sounds more like manslaughter than murder to me.

I would answer most of Ampersand's questions in a manner the he believes to be consistent with my beliefs, but I must object to some of them. For example, Ampersand says you must support abortion clinic violence if you oppose abortion as human killing. I disagree. I may not be a total pacificist, but like the Roman Catholic Church, I find it harder and harder to justify violence. I oppose the death penalty. And if I oppose violence against someone who knowingly takes a human life, how can I support violence against someone who does not believe they are taking a human life?

It is possible to be pro life and a liberal Democrat.

Posted by: Glendon Irving on March 21, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

False dichotomies are beneath you Kevin. This could just as easily be explained if the hypothetical anti-abortion activists believed in the sacredness of sperm.

Posted by: toast on March 21, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

It's only punishment for liberal women. Since liberals hate children, what can be worse punishment than force them to take care of kids?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 21, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

"*Whatever* reason abortion opponents have, they're wrong. The decision to have a baby or not is one person's decision, and one person's only: the pregnant woman. It's nobody else's business, period."

What about the father's choice? I'll agree with you if the father is absolved of all responsibilities.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 21, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

"they also think, in what for them is likely an unrelated issue, that their version of morality should be imposed on all of us. for them, sex is sin, hence their opposition to all types of sex ed/birth control."

Can you explain how sex is a sin would equate to opposition to birth control? I fail to see the connection here.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 21, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Strangely enough, many of them will bend your ear about how the government can't do anything right, but state-sanctioned killing is not only right, but also free of potential error, in their view."

It's an acceptable error, just like sending an innocent person to prison.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 21, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans control the House, the Senate and the Presidency....why don't they just pass a law outlawing abortion tomorrow? Are they really concerned more with availability of abortions or could it be abortions are nothing more than a political tactic? Why not, when in power, do something about it?
Posted by: MRB on March 21, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

And I really, really, really wish they would. I hope and pray that they'll do it soon. Too many swing voters in this country don't realize the truth that when they vote Republican, they're voting for the American Taliban.

Posted by: MK-Republican on March 21, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Too many swing voters in this country don't realize the truth that when they vote Republican, they're voting for the American Taliban."

How can they not know? The Republicans are already in power.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 21, 2006 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, it's been clearly demonstrated in many studies that the most reliable form of birth control is Higher Education for women.

Send them all to college. Every last one of them. Muahahahahahaaa!

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 21, 2006 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

"If people of faith are opposed to abortion because life begins at conception why are they overwhelmingly in favor of the death penalty? For the most part they seem to be in favor of life until birth."

You are asking the wrong question. The correct question is: why do liberals invariably sympathize with the criminals rather than the victims?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 21, 2006 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

I think anti-abortion fervor is quite interesting, psychologically. Most abortions occur in the first trimester, when no one but the pregant woman realizes she is pregnant.

People who are so opposed to abortion that they will realign the political structure to make abortion illegal have had to create, sustain and give meaning to something invisible. If a woman has an abortion in the first trimester, who would be the wiser? So they have to obsess about the fetus to give it importance.

In addition to this obsession with something they cannot see and that doesn't affect them, they also have to lack all appropriate psychological boundaries. The woman who is pregnant is non-existent to them.

If they truly cared about "life" you'd think the living mother would matter. I suspect if you could do the psychological study, you'd find that the anti-abortion movement is driven by people who are high in paranoia and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Posted by: PTate in MN on March 21, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

O_B_F, A lot of fundamentalists already understand this and refuse to provide support for their daughters to go to college.

Posted by: toast on March 21, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan: Your article points out that only 1% of abortions take place after 20 weeks gestation. In fact nearly 90% take place in the first trimester when the fetus (at that point it's a long way from being "a baby") is about the size of a golf ball. I agree with you that third trimester (i.e. post-viable) abortions of health fetuses is unappealing, but fortunately very, very rare with most of those late abortions, despite the sensationalism of that story, being performed for severe birth defects. As long as you agree that first and second trimester abortions should be freely available, I would agree with you that third trimester abortions should be outlawed unless the mother's health is threatened or the fetus has little hope of survival. I don't understand why people think that a woman should carry a dying baby to term, that seems impossibly cruel.

I would also hope that you would agree that contraception should be freely available including "morning after" pills to prevent ovulation.

Posted by: J Bean on March 21, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

You are asking the wrong question. The correct question is: why do liberals invariably sympathize with the criminals rather than the victims?

Actually I thought it was a very good question. I can understand why you would want to replace with that strawman.

Posted by: Paul on March 21, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that late-term abortions (except for legitimate physical medical reasons) are a form of infanticide e.g. murder. I therefore do strongly oppose the elective abortions available at any point in the pregnancy in NY and some other locales.

Then what do you think is the appropriate penalty for women who murder these fetuses? 20 to life? The death penalty?

Posted by: Stefan on March 21, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Even though I fall into the pro-choice camp, I thought the cited blog entry was pretty weak.

For starters, there is nothing inconsistent about BOTH believing abortion is murder and also believing that a pregnant woman should bear the consequences of her actions.

As well, there is nothing inconsistent about BOTH believing that contraception is a sin and abortion is murder, since it would by only acceptable to avoid abortion by abstinence.

I think its actually a bit more simple. Anti-choice people simply rank the potential life of a zygote, fetus or whatever ahead of the rights of the woman. I don't know that they rank them miles ahead, but if you believe the potential life has potential, well, just because you believe the woman should have to bear consequences is not inconsistent.

The murder term is hyperbole, but I don't think much is gained by proving so.

This entire debate is really a mugs game. Even more so than getting down with the trolls on tax policy.

Posted by: hank on March 21, 2006 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

The pro-life concept does seem to actually relate to the disdain for women having sex, especially before marriage or outside marriage. Various methods could reduce the instance of abortion such as sex education, availability of contraceptives but the pro-life people dislike these methods that have shown results as far as unwanted pregnancies. If abortion were the main issue then why wouldn't they be supportive of methods that would in turn reduce the need for abortions?

Posted by: MRB on March 21, 2006 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

I would say that the definition of "Extremist" is - someone who fits the description provided by an otherwise false dichotomy to a "T".

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 21, 2006 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

I still can't understand the logic of people who oppose abortion but think it should be allowed in the case of rape or incest. If you believe that life begins at conception then how can you possibly justify an abortion for any reason?

Posted by: JohnF on March 21, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Hank,
I would take issue with some of the items in ampersand's table. But I think you missed the point. The issue is not whether pro-lifers sincerely believe that abortion is wrong, or even whether they sincerely believe that abortion is homicide. It's whether they believe abortion is murder, or tantamount to murder. Murder is a particular kind of killing, a particular kind of homicide. It is the worst kind, the most heinous kind, the most immoral kind. The belief that abortion is murder carries all sorts of implications about how it should be treated, implications that the vast majority of pro-lifers run away from.

Posted by: seamus on March 21, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

You are asking the wrong question. The correct question is: why do liberals invariably sympathize with the criminals rather than the victims?
Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 21, 2006 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

I have no sympathy for Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Frist, DeLay, Libby, Cunninham, Abramoff, Safavian, Franklin, Chalabi, Ken Lay, or any of the other money-laundering, white-collar, fraudulent wanna-be gangsters.

The correct question is: Why do neo-cons invariably side with the well-heeled, treasonous war-profiteering baby-killers, instead of their victims?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 21, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Some of the comments about viability have been confusing to me. Along these lines, I was a bit taken aback at something a friend said to me the other week. He's pro choice, but he was saying that both sides need to be less extreme, and when I asked what was extreme about the pro choice side, he said that many staunch pro-choice advocates are in support of abortion at any time during the pregnancy even after viability.

Can someone tell me whether babies are aborted after they become viable outside the womb? I'm not talking about dying babies, or situations where the baby has to be killed to save the life of the mother. I'm talking about healthy viable babies being aborted electively. I would be surprised if that ever happened. I would think most states, or medical regulatory agencies would prohibit something like that. Certainly those prohibitions would be allowed under Roe, which explicitly mentions viability as the period during which abortions can be outlawed. Can anyone clear this up? Also can someone find any examples of pro choice groups fighting for the right to abort viable babies? I don't think that makes sense. I mean, I'm very pro choice, but I wouldn't be able to support that.

Posted by: Alan on March 21, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Or the woman who is carrying a second child that she knows from amniocentesis is anacephalic (has no brain) or has severe mental retardation with physical complications.

Silly question. We already know that Al's Mum didn't have an abortion.

Posted by: floopmeister on March 21, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

I am not appoased to abortion, in fact, perhaps retroactive abortion may be acceptable for some 13 year olds.

Posted by: Matt on March 21, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

If people of faith are opposed to abortion because life begins at conception why are they overwhelmingly in favor of the death penalty? For the most part they seem to be in favor of life until birth.

I do think this is the right question. 99 suggested upthread that those on the right would say killing a fetus is unjustified, because it doesn't involve self-defense, whereas killing a dangerous criminal is justifiable killing in self -defense. It's amazing to me how fundamentalists pick and choose what to quote from the Bible. I'll do the same: "Revenge is mine sayeth the Lord"
This suggests that judgement is better left to the Lord. As long as a dangerous criminal is locked away society is safe.

Posted by: ExBrit on March 21, 2006 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Can someone tell me whether babies are aborted after they become viable outside the womb? I'm not talking about dying babies, or situations where the baby has to be killed to save the life of the mother. I'm talking about healthy viable babies being aborted electively. I would be surprised if that ever happened. I would think most states, or medical regulatory agencies would prohibit something like that. Certainly those prohibitions would be allowed under Roe, which explicitly mentions viability as the period during which abortions can be outlawed."

But the trump card in Roe is the pregnant woman's health, which is construed very broadly to mean basically any harm to the woman, including a risk to her mental health. Under Roe, a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion, even after viability, if it is necessary to protect her health.

It would be very difficult for a state to prove in a court of law that an abortion was not necessary to protect the woman's health, if she and/or her doctor testified that it was necessary.

Posted by: Kent on March 21, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Once upon a time I knew (slightly) a girl whose roommate was pregnant and talking of having an abortion. I offered to adopt the kid myself. Finally, you explain why, Kevin.
I guess I don't really know myself.
Thank you so much.
Posted by: gcochran on March 21, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Hey asshole,

Email me- I know a chick who's willing to take you up on that offer. Unless you weren't really serious.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on March 21, 2006 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Re: abortion vs death penalty. It's simply a matter of innocence. Believing that life begins at conception, there is nothing more innocent and fragile than the unborn. Believing that punishment should fit the crime, the convicted murderer has forfeited any right to live. That being said, I believe the death penalty should only be applied to serial/mass or spree killers. Crimes of passion exempt.

Posted by: Jay on March 21, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

I always wondered why so many men had strong beliefs on anti-abortion. Punishing women makes sense... One mans morality should not become another's ideology.

Posted by: Liz on March 21, 2006 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

Alan: See Nathan's comments. 88% of abortions take place in the first trimester or about 12 weeks before the very first possibility of viability. At that point they are about the size of a golf ball. According to the NY Post article that Nathan mentioned, about 1% of abortions take place in the third trimester or just at the begining of viability. I've never heard of it being done for convenience as the article implies is happening, but usually for seriously deformed fetuses or for mothers with severe medical problems. Amniocentesis until recently wasn't done until week 16 and results would take over a week which meant that there are certainly abortions that take place in late 2nd trimester.

A few babies (that's what we call 'em after they're born and not before) survive delivery as early as 23 weeks, but not without permanent deficits whereas 27-28 week old preemies generally do reasonably well although on average not quite as well as their full-term (36-40 week) peers.

Roe v. Wade only addresses first and second trimester abortions, I believe.

Posted by: J Bean on March 21, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Hallo, hallo, hallo, hallo, hallodjsaljgfdl

Posted by: phuong on March 21, 2006 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Is it OK to kill an ectopic zygote/fetus in self defense?

Posted by: B on March 21, 2006 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

MY MORALS ARE BETTER THAN YOURS.
SO THAT MAKES ME BETTER THAN YOU.

This is what this issue boils down to.
FORCED MORALS BY THE RELIGOUS RIGHT.
I say to these people. JESUS is not
who you pray to. Republicans are your
god. You are no longer Christians and
your Church should be made to pay full
tax.
Leave Politics out of your church.
Leave Church out of your politics.
Study your New Testament and pay
close attention to the RED words.
CHRISTIAN RIGHT AND REPUBLICANS
do not follow Jesus teachings and
fail basic mathmatical humanity.
1 Push for ban on all abortion.
2 Push for ban on goverment funded
birth control for females who make
more than 250 dollars per month.
Regardless of how many children
they already have. ( Missouri )
3 Consistantly cut food stamp program.
4 Cut funding to track and collect
Child support from deadbeat dads.

This adds up to a NON CHRISTIAN PLATFORM.
FUNDAMENTAL CHRISTIANS ARE AS BAD FOR
OUR GOVERMENT AS FUNDAMENTAL MUSLUMS
ARE FOR THE MIDDLE EAST.
Jesus never preached the travisties
you so called Christians preach.
Judge not lest you be Judged.

Posted by: Honey P on March 21, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Re: abortion vs death penalty. It's simply a matter of innocence.

Your answer doesn't hold water. If life is sacred, life is sacred. Those who murder don't forfeit their right to life, but they do lose the chance to do it again.

Posted by: ExBrit on March 21, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

If I might, Id like to play devils advocate on behalf of conservatives opinions on these matters & clarify some things.

Policy: Opposing Contraception & comprehensive sex education.

On the question of whether this policy is consistent with the belief that abortion is child murder the cutout says No, based on the fact Belgium has the lowest abortion rate in the world due to comprehensive sex education & promotion of conraceptives.

On the first front, with regards to contraceptives, this IS consistent with a belief that abortion is murder. Most people who believe that life begins at conception believe most contraceptives are abortofacients I.E. they prevent fertilized embryos from implanting in the uterus & therefroe, left to starve & expire. This doesent bother many people but for those who believe that life begins at conception these are no different from surgical abortions.

On the second front, attitudes towards Sex Ed. Firstly its important not to confuse correlation with causation. The type of person who believes that a human life begins and is imbued with a soul at the moment the sperm fertilizes the egg, is also one who is likely to hold very tradionalist views about sex, marriage & birth control.

Secondly, it makes the mistake of assuming bad faith on behalf of the pro-life faction because they dont share the same views as the pro-choice movement on how to prevent unwanted pregnancy I.E. If you REALLY opposed abortion you would support X. You shouldnt make the mistake of thinking that those in the right to life movement must obviously be hypocrites because they dont believe as you do , that advocating contraception (of which much is considered abortofacient in nature) and sex education outside a focus on abstinence and sex only within the bonds of marriage is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Theyve got their own ideas of the best ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

-----------------------------

his cutout, upon asking if favorability toward a ban on partial-birth abortion is consistent with a belief that abortion is no different from murder answers surprisingly NO, on the basis that if the procedure is banned, Doctors will simply adjust to different procedures that may have more consequences for the mother.

I find this the most difficult to defend intellectually in that it assumes a particular malevolence on the part of the supporter that I just dont think exists. It may indeed be an unintended consequence of a ban on the procedure that its supporters were not aware of , but I feel pretty confident in asserting that the majority of this bans supporters, did so with neither the knowledge nor suspicion that its intended effect would be nil & that it would seriously endanger the mother. The number of people supporting this measure with the express knowledge that it would save no lives & supported out of a desire to endanger the mother to punish her for having sex is almost immeasurably small.

----------------------

On the question of whether advocating less generous welfare benefits for single mothers is consistent with a belief that abortion is murder, the cutout answers NO, on the grounds that if conservatives believe that welfare encourages having children, conservatives would support it to lower the child murder rate.

This type of reasoning is near nonsensical, and in my opinion, does no honorable service to the pro-choice movement. On the first count, demonstrating the inconsistencies of the anti-choicers when they make exceptions for rape or incest is not the same thing as a belief that their should be less welfare & that is plainly obvious.

Secondly, conservatives dont think welfare causes mothers to have children so much as they believe it incentivizes out of wedlock childbirth, which they believe, contributes to poverty. Even if they really believed that welfare encouraged motherhood, theres difference between a belief that one shouldnt have babies out of wedlock (or even babies at all) and a belief that if you do end up pregnant, its okay to terminate the pregnancy.

This also makes the two mistakes of If you REALLY believed X, you would support Y & a belief that those advocating a position are aware of its (often unintended consequences) wingers oppose welfare because they think it discourage single motherhood & increase children born in wedlock, not because they think it would lead to more abortions.


As for people who support abortion in cases of rape & incest, I would ask those pointing out this obvious hypocrisy to consider whether those advocating such a position aren't considering politics when doing do, whether or not they really believe it, or whether they are even aware of the inherent contradictions of their poistion sometimes.

Most people opposed to or at least squeamish about abortion, don't consider a blastulae the same thing as a 2 year old child. They obviously however, believe that a fetus is something other than just "not a human being"

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 21, 2006 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

enozinho:

"Recovering Wahabi," I like that.

Like Frank Zappa, I consider myself an escaped Catholic.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 21, 2006 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Your answer doesn't hold water. If life is sacred, life is sacred. Those who murder don't forfeit their right to life, but they do lose the chance to do it again."

No where did he say life was sacred. Try again.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 21, 2006 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

Well, ExBrits, Jay happened along and parroted the "innocent life, guilty life, squawk" line pretty much as I'd laid it out earlier. I told you, these guys are predictable.

Thanks, Jay, for living down to expectations! And for defending crimes of passion committed by pedophiles! You rawwwwwk!

Posted by: shortstop on March 21, 2006 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think Paul's story upthread, where his relative's church pastor tried to use their newborn baby to bash their doctors for "recommending abortion" says it all.

Enozinho phrased it the most succinctly. It's all about the zeal that comes from feeling morally superior.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 21, 2006 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Clinton had it right. Abortion should be safe, legal and rare. I would support those opposed to abortion if they used peaceful, loving means to their goal; free prenatal care, free help for the mothers, babysitters for the other kids, etc. What I don't support is demonizing women who are already in a tough spot by branding them as criminals. I strongly disagree with the fascination of the Christian right to use the secular legal system to enforce their religious morality. I think it gives them a sense of moral superiority. It makes them feel good that they are doing something to beat up on the lowly sinners.

Posted by: JohnK on March 21, 2006 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop's own squawkbox, of course, is also tiresomely repetitious and predictable...

"Bush evil! Squawk! Republicans Evil! Squawk! Conservatives evil! Squawk!"

Posted by: Henrietta on March 21, 2006 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

"It's all about the zeal that comes from feeling morally superior."

Mirror, mirror, on the wall....

Posted by: Henrietta on March 21, 2006 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

anti-abortion means anti-women - period. Just as rape means power and dominance, not sex. The cult of republicanism is overflowing with misogynists.
.

Posted by: gak on March 21, 2006 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Jay, you look really pretty in Henrietta's clothes. Love the shoes, too. How can you walk in those things?

Posted by: shortstop on March 21, 2006 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

I saw your g'nite on the open-ended committment thread, but somehow I just knew you couldn't stay away :)

An open-ended committment to troll-thwackery?

Hun, I think we *all* need to get a little beauty sleep lately :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 21, 2006 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

I swear, she's like a wind-up toy....

Posted by: Henrietta on March 21, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

I have no idea what any of that means, Bob. Good night.

Posted by: shortstop on March 21, 2006 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Henrietta:

Prove you're a woman.

And not, you know, a regular troll in drag.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 21, 2006 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

Just an (apparently failed) attempt at lightly facetious banter, is all.

No subtexts meant save that sleep is more worthwhile than playing whack-a-mole with the likes of Henny Penny here :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 21, 2006 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

I never did understand why abortion should be safe, legal BUT rare - I think that abortion is often, perhaps usually, the best choice, the right choice, the moral choice. An abortion may, or may not, be a tragedy, but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

Posted by: Don P. on March 21, 2006 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

Bobby Wobby:

I'm all woman...here's the proof...WHAAAAACK!

I know you like it rough, troll boy.

Posted by: Henrietta on March 21, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Squeaky Leaky:

*chuckling*

Right; that's *exactly* how a female would react to being falsely called out for being a male impostor, all right. Women notoriously having a thing for symbolic violence and all :)

Troll? Moi? Hell, sometimes I'm almost as centrist as Kevin :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

"I have no idea what any of that means, Bob."

It means that you look even more haggard than usual and that you really need that beauty sleep.

Posted by: Henrietta on March 22, 2006 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

Buffy Stuffy:

That's not what I meant, of course. I was just riffing on the fact that shortstop said goodnight in a thread called "Open-Ended Committment" (about Iraq) and then wound up posting here.

Just lightly teasing her; certainly no undercurrent of hostility. I like shortstop.

Do you always like to put words into the mouths of people perfectly capable of speaking for themselves, btw?

If so, I'll bet you find it quite the social liability :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

No where did he say life was sacred. Try again

What's the rationale against abortion if you don't hold that life is sacred? Oooh! I get it, it's nothing to do with preserving life, it's about "punishing women who have sex" as Kevin said in his post.

There's a good bit of truth in that. Most fundamentalists are mysogenistic at heart.

Posted by: ExBrit on March 22, 2006 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Yes, Ampersand's analysis does provide a unifying frame for a bunch of positions shared by most of the anti-choice crowd.

But, if you really want to know the frame shared by conservatives that explains and unifies their positions not just on abortion and sex, but on everything, read George Lakoff's Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. Of course, Lakoff also explores the liberal frame and shows how liberals derive their positions on everything from the liberal frame.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on March 22, 2006 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Dustin,
your intellectual acrobatics don't change the facts.

It boils down to what you believe. You are free to live by your believes and others are free to live by their believes.

It is nothing but believing and no way to know whos believes are true.

As a woman I want to say, women don't wait until the last moment for an abortion, there must be terrible reasons if she does. I don't believe a physician would do it without a good cause.

Late term abortion is a strawman, proof an actual case.

Posted by: Renate on March 22, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

I don't believe a physician would do it without a good cause.

Posted by: Renate on March 22, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Money.

Plus plenty of abortions are not done by doctors.
Just some medical trainee type with a vacuum cleaner killing the fetus by ripping bits of by sunction.

And if you believe that late term abortions always have a reason, why not cite those reasons
and leave a loophole in the ban.

Posted by: McA on March 22, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

http://newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/news/features/15249/

Try this article by a liberal media source. It seems poverty or no reason are common reasons.
To a degree, wouldn't a strong law mean that some people just deal with the matter earlier before the fetus can feel pain?

Posted by: McA on March 22, 2006 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, why not repeal laws on parental neglect causing death?

All they do do is punish women who had sex.

Posted by: McA on March 22, 2006 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

McAristotle:

This is flat-out bullshit. No "medical trainee" preforms a D&X with a "vaccuum cleaner," and the proceedure isn't particularly common -- although the "health of the mother" exception in Roe pretty much does legalize them. But if they're performed, they're performed by doctors. Geezus, you make it sound like a teeth-cleaning.

Look, I'm not expert on abortion. Luckily I've managed to avoid this experience in my own life ... but it's clear from reams of testimony by people who have that very few of them are performed electively in the third trimester. And the ones that are can be medically justified -- even if you'd personally disagree with the justification.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

Why not allow abortion up to 20 weeks or within 1 month of discovering a medical threat to the life of the mother or a major disability to the child?

Penalty: $1,000,000 mental anguish penalty on the doctor performing the abortion payable to the patient. Allow enforcement by civil suit with trial lawyers taking normal fees.

That would place the burden of documenting the reasons of late abortion on to the doctor.


Posted by: McA on March 22, 2006 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

McAristotle:

Jesus, McA, try to look at it from God's POV. Why *wouldn't* God want more abortions? They're innocent souls, after all -- going straight up to Heaven.

That's *more voices to glorify the Mighty One*. Sheesh, you're thick sometimes.

I mean -- why would God even want people to be born to begin with? What the (pardon the expression) hell's wrong with Heaven as a place for these immortal souls to reside?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

In Nathan's article the women seemed to be getting late abortions because they had been unable to get earlier abortions or because they had been unaware (i.e. uneducated) of their pregnancy, not because they woke up one morning and decided that they were tired of being pregnant. It seems that making contraception, sex education, and early abortion readily available would cut down on the very few late term abortions that do occur.

Dustin Ridgeway: "On the first front, with regards to contraceptives, this IS consistent with a belief that abortion is murder."

Dustin, you can decide that birth control pills "cause abortions" by preventing implantation, but if you take a damn ultrasound probe and look at the ovaries of a woman who is taking them, you'll find the absence of follicular cysts because she isn't making eggs. If you draw her blood, you'll find that she doesn't have a luteinizing hormone spike to release an egg. If you want, you can believe that birth control pills are going to make a woman grow wings and fly, however the reality based community would contend that it isn't going to happen.

Posted by: J Bean on March 22, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Your answer doesn't hold water. If life is sacred, life is sacred. Those who murder don't forfeit their right to life, but they do lose the chance to do it again.

ExBrit: I personally agree with your (apparent) stance against capital punishment. Still, I think you're glossing over the reality of the cogent position that a) opposes abortion and b) favors the state's ability to execute criminals. No prison is perfect, and convicted murderers have been known to escape, so incarceration is not always an adequate way for society to defend itself. Moreover, prisoners have been known to kill in prison, and have even been known to order the deaths of people on the outside (of those who have testified against them, for instance). Indeed, even a fairly resolute opponent of capital punishment can often think of a scenario where it may be justified. Had Hitler survived WWII, I think I could advocate his execution with a clear conscience. After all, humanity itself would seem to possess a fairly clear right to self-defense against the possibility, however remote, that a band of Nazi zealots might spring Adolph from prison as part of a plan to create a fourth Reich. Only death truly insures that a murderer loses the chance to kill again. I believe the strongest case against the death penalty rests on the possibility that a jury will wrongly convict.

Posted by: 99 on March 22, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2002/jul/02070307.html

Vermont and Montana allow nurse practioners to do abortions. They do a lot of them,

Posted by: McA on March 22, 2006 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

McAristotle:

Third-trimester?

With a vacuum cleaner?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

Had Hitler survived WWII, I think I could advocate his execution with a clear conscience.

Funny how often Hitler comes up. He must be the most referenced trump card in the blogworld.

I understand your opinion, but the difference between those who are anti-abortion and those who are against the death penalty is that those who are against capital punishment aren't forcing their beliefs on anyone else.

The point still stands: those who don't believe in abortion because life is sacred change their stance when it comes to the death penalty. Therefore, they don't really believe in the sacredness of life.

There's something else going on, otherwise why wouldn't the anti-abortion folks fund birth control in a logical effort to reduce abortion? Because they don't revere life. They just want to control women.

Posted by: ExBrit on March 22, 2006 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

The anti-abortionists are patriarchs. They only allow for abortion in cases when the father has no claim - i.e. rape and incest. Even in cases of risk to child bearer, the patriarchs don't give ground easily. But when there's no righteous father claim, as with rape and incest, they bend the easiest.

I've held this argument back for awhile. Now is the time for it to go free.

Posted by: Jimm on March 22, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

McAristotle:

Third-trimester?

With a vacuum cleaner?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

Given that privacy laws and politics prevent any regulation of what happens inside an abortion clinic? Who knows?

But for early term abortions - suction or pulling it to bits with a forceps are the most common methods. For late-term its the brain sucking partial birth method.

What makes you these things are nice?

There is one abortion method which involves injecting chemicals into the fetus's heart but it is not commonly used. After all, according to the Supreme Court - fetal pain doesn't matter.

Once you decide to believe something is not alive, any amount of horror is fine.


Posted by: Mca on March 22, 2006 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, a similar argument can be made about us liberals. Do hardcore abortion proponents geniunely believe that fetuses have nothing important in common with babies? Or are they driven more by a simple desire to see women not punished for having sex?

Don't get me wrong, I'm pro-choice. But I can't buy into the argument made in Roe v. Wade. I find more compelling a property rights argument, that states that a person has property in their body and has a right to control what's on that property.

Posted by: catherineD on March 22, 2006 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

There is no property argument. It's a "range of authority" argument, appropos to the federal or state government, related to property, or at least the 4th amendment, in terms of being "secure in one's person". The government is overreaching.

Posted by: Jimm on March 22, 2006 at 3:11 AM | PERMALINK

I don't really have anything to contribute; I just have to say that I'm furious after reading this discussion. I'm a woman -- I'm a 20-yr old college student -- and I'm pro-life, and my roommate (a deeply convicted supporter of gay rights, incidentally) is pro-life, and all those extremely nice albeit sometimes tiringly perky InterVarsity girls I hang out with are pro-life, and all my frineds and all my family are as well, and I'm pretty sure that none of us are opposed to abortion because we subconsciously want to punish women for having sex. I'm angry first of all because saying that your opponent has subconscious motivations is a pretty shabby trick, because it's inherently irrefutable; it's as if I were to say that all pro-choicers are subconsciously driven by promiscuity, and just support abortion rights because it would make their lives more convenient. C'mon. That would be an absurd, intellectually dishonest, and unfair accusation; and so is this. But I'm angry mostly because *you don't know us,* you don't know me or my friends, and you have no earthly right to sit there in your ignorance -- how many committed pro-lifers do any of you actually know, in real life and not in movies or newspapers? -- and pretend you know why we act and speak as we do, the secret motive driving us. I am opposed to abortion -- I think it is a very great evil -- but I at least do you the courtesy of believing that you mean what you say.

To briefly explain, if it'll help at all: I would want the mother protected from the legal consequences of murder because most mothers in that position don't realize they *are* taking a life, they don't have the deliberate intent to kill, and intent matters a lot in determining punishment for homicide: in short, I believe abortion is killing, but I *don't* believe it is "murder." (In all honesty, I suspect "murder" is used mostly because it conveys the sense of injustice, and because it grabs your attention. It's not the most accurate word.) I might support lesser legal consequences for abortion, if it became illegal, but to punish it as if it were deliberate murder is simply unfitting.

I'm opposed to contraception and comprehensive sex ed because I think they both badly distort the nature of sex. In other words, yes, they would make for a lot fewer abortions, but I think that they're independently bad things in their own right, and I'm not about to support one Bad Thing in the hopes of its reducing another

I don't support exeptions for rape and incest -- however heinous the circumstances of the child's conception, that doesn't justify ending its life. I suspect most pro-lifers don't really, in the long-term, support those exemptions either; I'm afraid that this is probably just a matter of political expediency, because those exeptions are popular. (I realize this contention will not much reassure you.)

I don't care too much about the D&X issue -- if abortion wrongfully takes human life, it doesn't somehow *more* wrongfully take it via one particular procedure -- but to the extent that I would like to ban it, here's why: first, it's a useful wedge. (You know that as well as I do.) Second, there is a peculiarly high degree of visceral revulsion attached to the procedure; this is more an instinctive than a rational argument, but I feel that if we can't even forbid abortion when it's this *egregiously* and openly problematic, we're in a bad way.

I don't oppose more generous welfare for single mums -- I don't know much about the issue, but I'd probably be more inclined to support it -- and, though I am revealing my ignorance, I'm not sure I've ever even *heard* of the HPV issue; so in my case at least this is simply beside the point.

I morally condemn the people who bomb abortion clinics because, again, abortion is wrong but it isn't the only wrong thing -- vigilante justice is also wrong. The right of exercising justice belongs to governments, not to individuals; people who take things into their own hands are violating the proper order of things just as much as the clinics themselves are.

And finally, the UN Population Fund issue is exactly the same as the contraceptives/sex ed issue, so rather than typing it out again, I will refer you to the above.

There. I don't expect my reasoning on all of this is identical with every pro-lifer's -- and, honestly, can't you see that there must be a range of motivations and reasonings on all of this? -- and I don't know whether this'll help at all, but at least I've tried to be honest.

Shoshana, still angry

Posted by: Shoshana on March 22, 2006 at 3:32 AM | PERMALINK

Shoshana:

> I don't really have anything to contribute;

Hehehe ... but like a typical 20-year-old college student in dorm
room bull session mode, you'll proceed to write the longest post in
this thread anyway. Not that there's anything wrong with that :)

> I just have to say that I'm furious after reading this discussion.

Really, Shoshana? Well, I can say as an older single man, that you
certainly hold no patent rights on the emotion of anger. Although
I wouldn't call my reaction to your post one of anger, exactly.

More like dismay ... or perhaps chagrin. I'll only deal with
a section of your post, because it reveals the purple elephant
you chose not to discuss but which is the crux of the issue:

> I'm opposed to contraception and comprehensive sex ed
> because I think they both badly distort the nature of sex.

Really, Shoshana. Well then, forgive me for putting words in
your mouth, but it would appear through inference that the reason
why sex ed and contraception "badly distort the nature of sex"
can only be because they *ahem* decouple sex from reproduction.

I'm sorry, but were you to take a survey of posters here, nearly
all of them (including the GOP trolls) would have to agree that
sexual pleasure exists for more reasons than having children.
Why would God make us the most sensuous primate otherwise? Why
make women sexually receptive year round as opposed to giving
them an estrus cycle? Why the highly developed secondary sexual
characteristics, the lack of hair, the external male genitalia?

We're supposed to make use of these things only when the time
comes to procreate? What -- is your God some kind of cosmic
sadist? Or is this some kind of sin scam, setting it all up so
that avoiding sin is almost literally impossible for a normal person
-- the more reason they have to find a God who'll forgive them?

Look, Shoshana, you're entitled to your morality, but *please*
don't try to pretend it's universal. Secular people look at this
and they just shake their heads. Sex is only for reproduction,
good grief. No need at all to speculate what might be in the
minds of the people who believe this -- it is prima facie medieval.

> In other words, yes, they would make for a lot fewer abortions,

So you're immune to a pragmatic argument to reduce abortion (nobody
"likes" abortion or believes that it's a good thing *in itself*)
because the things that might reduce it are even worse. Dear Lord.

> but I think that they're independently bad things
> in their own right, and I'm not about to support
> one Bad Thing in the hopes of its reducing another

So in other words - you, Shoshana, a 20-year-old college
student, support sexual ignorance in lieu of sex education.

Kindly take your superstitions and dualistic flesh / spirit
metaphysic and find somewhere else to express your outrage.

This blog is populated by the reality-based community.

Thanks in advance,

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 4:12 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but I have to revisit this extremely, uhh, pregnant point:

> I'm opposed to contraception and comprehensive sex ed
> because I think they both badly distort the nature of sex.

Well, Shoshana, my reading glasses badly distort the nature of my
retinas. I guess if God wanted me to be able to read in my 40s, he
wouldn't have made my eyes' lenses start losing their flexibility.

I mean sheesh, if you're going to use the argument from nature,
why support medical interventions at all? It's not such an absurd
stance; the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Christian Scientists both
reject large chunks of modern medicine. Hell, why drive cars, fly
in airplanes, use a telephone or a computer, for that matter?

All these things are, strictly speaking, "against nature."

I'm one to talk; I'm posting on a 386 in DOS with an amber monitor
-- but I'm not opposed to comprehensive computer education, either :)

You said you're angry because Kevin's post seems to claim that
pro-lifers want to punish women for having sex. Well ... how else
do you interpret a view of sex education as "badly distortive?"
Don't you want the man you marry to know what your clitoris is and
how it works? If he's supposed to be chaste before marriage, too
-- how's he supposed to learn? From pornography? His friends?

And if you don't feel that a woman's pleasure is all that
important (after all, it's irrelevant for making babies),
well, can't you see that in itself as being anti-woman?

I mean, how can *any* intelligent person (and you write
extremely well) defend the idea that education about *any*
subject is a bad thing? I don't think any of us get this.

It's not that people who support birth control and believe that
premarital sex is unworthy of serious moral condemnation are some
kind of libertines. We know the Sexual Revolution overreached (and
it was especially hard on women who, after all, bear the brunt of
sex's consequences). We're moral people, too. Sex and romance
release extremely powerful feelings that can be as dangerous as
they are pleasurable. But young people fall in love and find ways
to be together. Sex education is distortive? So's romantic love.
And while you can take away education, you can't take away feelings.
Along with sex education, you have to teach moral responsibility
and self-restraint. It's about more than one person's pleasure.

By all means present sex education within a moral
framework. Just don't pretend you can teach abstinence
effectively without teaching anything about the human body.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 5:25 AM | PERMALINK

Control, self-interest, and domination are the primary motivations for the anti-abortionist. That women who have sex get punished is a side effect although they are people who do indeed want to control women, and thus, are attracted to the anti-abortionist movement. That abortion is child murder is a anthem to manipulate people emotionally for those whose underlying motivations are control, self-interest, and domination. This is more about the authoritarian personality than anything. Unfortunately, we see this in religious leaders who are more driven by claiming authority and misuse the philosophies they use to promote themselves. That's why we can see hypocrisy in their stances, why they support the death penalty but despise abortion. BTW, this doesn't mean that people, either the leaders or the led, are consciously aware of the power dynamic.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 7:45 AM | PERMALINK

Um, there are people who do indeed want to control women., not they are...

Jimm: The anti-abortionists are patriarchs.

Yes, patriarchs and matriarchs are driven by the need to dominate and control. Again, the authoritarian personality fits.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

Shoshana,
A few years ago there was an incident where a young woman was raped and her attacker chopped off both her arms. Put yourself in her shoes, you would also become pregnant by this monster, for 9 mo. the cells would be like a parasit on your body and develop to become a child. How would you feel, would you not want to cleanse yourself every waking moment?

If you speak of legal consequences you do speak of punishment.

And yes, you do feel holier than thou, you don't have sex, you will be abstinent and if you are not and you become pregnant you deserve to be held responsible.

Why do you believe sex between two consenting people is a sin?

Why is masturbation a sin?

Why is the pope against the use of condoms?

There are many more questions. Yes, by all means you are entitled to live by your convictions, but you have NO RIGHT to make your believes the law of the land.

Posted by: Renate on March 22, 2006 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Drum is willingly turning into a moron here...

Posted by: Frank J. on March 22, 2006 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Apollo,

You are right, the goal is to control, that must be why so many men are involved in the so-called pro-life movement, but punishment is the tool of control.

Just think about the power the catholic church holds in the confessional????

The priest is able to ask all the questions he wants to ask and he holds the salvation in his hands in the eyes of the true believer.

Posted by: Renate on March 22, 2006 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

If the majority of abortion opponents were primarily of the opinion that it is murder, then the penalty under the new South Dakota law would be similar to murder, not a mere 5 years in prison.

All this wailing and gnashing of teeth about the sanctity of life and it's worth a mere 5 years in prison.

LOL.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 22, 2006 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Better question: If abortion supporters do so much to avoid actually debating the fundamentals of abortion (saying "choice" instead of "abortion", taking the position "People who are against abortion are just women-haters, so we don't have to debate them."), is it because they think abortion is murder and thus want to do everything they can not to talk about it?

Posted by: Frank J. on March 22, 2006 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Debate on said question:

http://www.imao.us/archives/005080.html

Posted by: Frank J. on March 22, 2006 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

If the "pro-lifers" really believe fervently that life begins at conception, why aren't they picketing in front of fertility clinics every day, since they routinely throw embryos in the trash? Is it only a "life" if it's in a womb?

Talk about inconsistent...

Posted by: sullijan on March 22, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Ok now this is unexpected. I was searching on google for references to adoption vs abortion and ran accross this article which runs counter to this topic by supposing that pro-choicers aren't really pro-"choice" but are actualy pro-"abortion".

http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5159

Frankly I think both sides are smoking crack but like you said Kev. Motivation is tough to prove.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 22, 2006 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

"This is my point: these people need to feel morally superior. Forget gray areas, they don't serve the purpose so everything must be black and white.

Posted by: Paul

I think Paul is exactly right. Being morally superior means to these people to have an external authority delineating precisely black and white rules. According to their world view, there is no situation in which one has the right to examine real world effects on real world people. This is immediately demonized as "situational ethics" and "moral relativism."

And they are convinced that their moral standards are universal. It is distressing that the Christian religion, which played a pivotal role in the growth of freedom and personal responsibility in the West, should give up its intellect for the convenience of inflexible assertion and the the false comfort of moral superiority.

Posted by: Ace Franze on March 22, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Renate,
I agree with you. But I want to be carefully by acknowledging that I've known a few progressive Catholics (seems like an oxymoron I know) who don't follow church dogma rigidly and confess directly to God and not to a priest. Now that I think of these friends, they're women! Doh. LOL!

Opposing sex education, for example, is another tool for control because...can't have people empowered and thinking for themselves!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Abortions will always exist because there are women like me who don't believe 8 cells, an embryo or a non-viable fetus is equal to my life or the lives of any children I may already have. Whatever value it does have is in its potential.

Abortion is termination of a pregnancy, it's not killing a baby because there is no baby. It is preventing a baby from being, much the same as contraception prevents a baby from being.

In many cases, abortion is necessary to protect women, men, and their families. It's instinct.

The reason abortions will never stop is that that would mean women would have to act against their own best interest. Most of us have too many responsibilites be martyrs.

Posted by: diane on March 22, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

I would want the mother protected from the legal consequences of murder because most mothers in that position don't realize they *are* taking a life, they don't have the deliberate intent to kill, and intent matters a lot in determining punishment for homicide: in short, I believe abortion is killing, but I *don't* believe it is "murder." (In all honesty, I suspect "murder" is used mostly because it conveys the sense of injustice, and because it grabs your attention. It's not the most accurate word.) I might support lesser legal consequences for abortion, if it became illegal, but to punish it as if it were deliberate murder is simply unfitting.

It sounds to me as if you regard abortion as manslaughter, then, not murder. In New York State, where I live, manslaughter in the first degree (one in which you knowingly cause the death of the victim) is a Class B felony, punishable by several years imprisonment. So I assume you would approve of women who have an abortion being jailed for, say, three to five years? If not, why not?

Posted by: Stefan on March 22, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

I'm almost fifteen years divorced from being a Moderate Republican- I switched to the democratic party in the throes of the '92 election cycle.

I'd like to suggest that the reason why the democratic party seems to be so out of touch with right-of-center religious voters is that we tend to paint them with the same brush that we do the religious extremists who think Bush would be doing a good job if a nuclear device detonated in the middle of Manhattan.

I posit that the majority of pro-life voters don't believe that an abortion is a tragic loss of life perpetrated by someone who doesn't know any better- essentially the equivalent of manslaughter, not murder. Most who are also against birth control haven't grappled with the philosophical oxymoron that those two beliefs constitute. In fact, the main problem with the pro-life movement is not that it favor the punishment of women who have sex, it is that most pro-lifers haven't reasoned out a cogent, internally consistant political platform because the leaders of most Protestant sects and the Vatican would prefer that people did'n t wrestle with their beliefs.

So, going down the list:

1. Protecting the Mother from prosecution. This is consistant with the belief that abortion is more manslaughter than murder.

2. Opposing contraception. This is consistant with the belief that all life is precious. The fact that this also promotes abortion doesn't cross the mind of many well-meaning pro-lifers, or they refuse to accept the fact that people can't simply stop having sex outside of wedlock.

3. Exceptions for Rape and Incest. The primary theme of Christianity (though admittedly it's hard to notice these days) is compassion. This is a horrible, tragic gray area that the average pro-lifer will grant the victim the mercy due her.

4. Banning D&X. This is nothing more than a wedge issue used to enrage the average pro-lifer, who doesn't realize that its hardly used these days and then only in cases of medical necessity. They instead see this as some form of ritual mutilation of the fetus in order to revel in the legality of abortion.

5. Advocating less generous welfare. This is confusing the average pro-lifer with the far right reactionary. the average pro-lifer, when asked whether they favor entitlement programs, they'll say "no" because of the cuckolding of talking heads. Ask them instead if they favor subsidies to women who choose to keep their baby and they'll respond "of course!"

6. Opposing HPV vaccine. See number five.

7. Condemning clinic bombings. Would we as a nation rejoice if Iran suffered a terrorist attack which killed 10,000 civilians? the scope and the difference in culpability are large, but the fact remains that rejoicing in or even condoning violence is not an ideal shared by any sane Christians.

8. Opposing the population fund. Most pro-lifers don't even know what the population fund is. Frankly niether do most pro-choicers, either.

Posted by: Ace A. on March 22, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

But I'm angry mostly because *you don't know us,* you don't know me or my friends, and you have no earthly right to sit there in your ignorance -- how many committed pro-lifers do any of you actually know, in real life and not in movies or newspapers? -- and pretend you know why we act and speak as we do, the secret motive driving us.

Well, since I come from a large Irish Catholic family on my father's side, I know at least several dozen committed pro-lifers.

Posted by: Stefan on March 22, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

is it because they think abortion is murder and thus want to do everything they can not to talk about it?

Not me. I don't just say I'm pro-choice, I say I'm pro-abortion -- in the sense that I see nothing wrong with a woman choosing to have one, and I believe that the world is a better place with abortion than without. In an idea world, no one would ever get pregnant by mistake, but we don't live in an ideal world, we live in this one. Similarly, in an ideal world no one would need a heart transplant, but I'm glad the option is there for those who need and/or want it.

Posted by: Stefan on March 22, 2006 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

They're not pro life they'r PRO MISERY

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Posted by: cde on March 22, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan, would you see anything wrong with your mother aborting you? Just asking.

Posted by: spacemonkey on March 22, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

People who believe their pregnancy concieved a baby are not coerced by state police power into having an abortion. They are free to act out their belief.

People who think their pregnancy is not a baby are not coerced by state police power into NOT having an abortion. These people may think they are not able or prepared to raise a child. These people may think they are unfit or financially unable to nurture a child responsibly. These people may think that when a female gamete is joined with a male gamete it produces a cancerous zygote which becomes a cancerous embryo which becomes a cancerous fetus which becomes a cancerous child which beocmes a cancerous human adult inflicting its anti-social pathology on its family and society. Today, these people are still free to act out their thoughts.

People who believe a woman is debased by her sexuality want to use state police power to coerce her into NOT having an abortion. These people should not be free to act out their authoritarian beliefs on other women. These people should be ostracized from political discourse for their desires to impose belief on others who do not share those beliefs. It is these people who want to not only outlaw abortion, but outlaw birth control, prophylactics, and medical cures that prevent the deaths of sexually active women. They represent the culture of rape and patriarchal authority. These people should not be given the political power to enforce their beliefs.

Posted by: Hostile on March 22, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

"1. Protecting the Mother from prosecution. This is consistant with the belief that abortion is more manslaughter than murder."

No, it isn't. We don't "protect people from prosecution" for manslaughter. Manslaughter is a very serious crime, just not quite as serious as murder. So the idea that viewing abortion as manslaughter is consistent with opposing criminal prosecution of women who have abortions is just nonsense.

But the whole idea that abortion fits the definition of manslaughter is nonsensical anyway. The basic difference between murder and manslaughter is intent to kill. Manslaughter is when you drive drunk and kill a pedestrian without intending to. Manslaughter is when you burn a house down and kill someone inside without intending to. An abortion would only be manslaughter if it were the unintended result of an act by the pregnant woman. But this is obviously not the case in the vast majority of abortions. The woman clearly intends to have the abortion, and if the act of abortion is an act of killing an innocent human being, then the only legal category it fits is murder.

Posted by: Kent on March 22, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK
I posit that the majority of pro-life voters don't believe that an abortion is a tragic loss of life perpetrated by someone who doesn't know any better- essentially the equivalent of manslaughter, not murder. Most who are also against birth control haven't grappled with the philosophical oxymoron that those two beliefs constitute.

There is no philosophical oxymoron. The belief that there is can only be based on the concept that there can only be one priority ideology, and that, therefore, it is, in general, impossible for an act to be wrong and for some other act which would make the previous act impossible to also be wrong.

Its like saying there is a philosophical oxymoron in saying that both avoiding paying child support and infanticide were wrong, since if you allowed infanticide, people could avoid being in the position of having to pay or avoid paying child support.

Now, I'm not saying that if you oppose both failure to pay child support and infanticide, you must agree with people who oppose both abortion and birth control. But you ought, if you are not intellectually dishonest, to admit that there is no necessary "philosophical oxymoron" in such belief.


Posted by: cmdicely on March 22, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan, would you see anything wrong with your mother aborting you? Just asking.

If I had been aborted I would never have existed and so wouldn't have much cause or ability to complain, quite obviously. But if an expectant mother did choose to abort I would value her decision above anyone else's involved in the process.

Posted by: Stefan on March 22, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

What about voluntary vs. involuntary manslaughter?

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Shoshanna,

"I morally condemn the people who bomb abortion clinics because, again, abortion is wrong but it isn't the only wrong thing -- vigilante justice is also wrong."

A band of resistance fighters in World War II Germany bombs a gas chamber used to murder Jews.

Do you also morally condemn them?

Posted by: gfra1 on March 22, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

The basic difference between murder and manslaughter is intent to kill.

Not always. The technical definition varies state by state, but manslaughter can involve intentional killing. In New York, for example, first degree manslaughter can be either when "With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he causes the death of such person or of a third person; or With intent to cause the death of another person, he causes the death of such person or of a third person under circumstances which do not constitute murder because he acts under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance...."

Posted by: Stefan on March 22, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan,

Then abortion would only qualify as manslaughter in cases in which it were shown that the woman acted from "extreme emotional disturbance" or some other severely mitigating factor. Such factors cannot be assumed, they have to be established by evidence. Absent that evidence, it would be murder.

Posted by: Kent on March 22, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

The support for abortion, remarkably enough is highest among those who oppose western ideals. It appears that unless their offspring will live under the yoke of Socialism, then they have no reason to continue.

Posted by: Writer on March 22, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum,

I have seen you write a lot of nonsense over the years (with a lot of good things as well), but impugning the motives of anti-abortionists the way you do is up near the top of the nonsense pile. It is clear that most of the anti-abortion folks oppose it because they believe it to be the equivalent of murder. Some believe this as an article faith for their religions, and some reach this without the prodding of religion at all, but to declare their opposition is driven by a desire to punish women for sex is asinine.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on March 22, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward.

It's as if you didn't read anything Kevin or Ampersand wrote. You're claiming that anti-abortionists believe murder should be permitted if the victim were conceived through rape, are you? You're claiming anti-abortionists believe murderers should not be prosecuted for their crime, are you?

Posted by: gfra1 on March 22, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

If abortion is not murder, why is it bad to wait for the child to be born and then shoot it in the head? Is the baby just a lump of tissue until it leaves the womb?

Posted by: Frank on March 22, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Ampersand left off another telling point, it seems to me, and that is failure to condemn in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Or do most abortion bans include bans of IVF? IVF almost always produces more fertilized eggs than can possibly be used.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on March 22, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

If I had been aborted I would never have existed and so wouldn't have much cause or ability to complain, quite obviously. But if an expectant mother did choose to abort I would value her decision above anyone else's involved in the process.

No you were involved in the process, you were born.

Speaking as a former fetus, do you think YOU should exist?

Posted by: spacemonkey on March 22, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

I condemn in-vitro fertilization (IVF). In fact, I counseled a relative against it for the very reason you list. She and her husband ended up getting pregnant without it.

Posted by: spacemonkey on March 22, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The human species is right now in the process of aborting the Earth's biosphere.

Of course, the greatest mass extinction of species in 65 million years and the wholesale destruction of the Earth's rich, diverse and wonderful web of life is of no importance compared to the abortion of a single human embryo.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 22, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Luckily, the "Earth's biosphere" is not a legal PERSON either. Neither are other animals. Get over it.

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Are hardcore abortion opponents genuinely motivated by a belief that abortion is murder? Or are they driven more by a simple desire to punish women who have sex?

Or is this a stupid false dichotomy (on the one hand), any answer to which also is a false generalization (on the other).
Posted by: cmdicely

Is there any force currently known which will inhibit our dear Kevin from these simplistic either-or arguments?

Some kind of 12-Step program?


This refers back to an earlier thread.

Here's a fragment of bio:

"Oh yes, I grew up fundamentalist. I grew up as a Southern Baptist with strict adherence to the Bible, which I read as a youngster."

Who's that you may ask?

Edward O. Wilson - of "Sociobiology" fame. Which conpletely confounds a number of assumptions fromn that 'conservatives beget conservatives' thread.

Posted by: CFShep on March 22, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

spacemonkey asks: Speaking as a former fetus, do you think YOU should exist?

Before you were a fetus, you were a sperm cell and an egg cell. Did that sperm cell have a right to combine with that egg cell?

The question makes no sense without answering the question of what makes a particular collection of matter you. I would say that it is continuity of consciousness that makes me the same person as I was when I was 3. Who I am is a function of my brain. It makes no sense to me personally to say that it was me before I had a working brain with working memory.

Some pro-lifers say that it is the unique combination of DNA that makes a unique person, but that doesn't make any sense to me. Identical twins are different people, but they have the same pattern of DNA.

The problem with abortion is that the resolution of the issues involved requires answers to philosophical questions that nobody has good answers to. (Or at least, nobody has answers that are satisfying to everyone---there is nothing like a consensus.)

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on March 22, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Luckily, the "Earth's biosphere" is not a legal PERSON either. Neither are other animals. Get over it.
Posted by: Don P.

And that's a shame really.

Now if we could just lose the legal idiocy that CORPORATIONS are PERSONS we'd be in business.

Posted by: CFShep on March 22, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Don P writes: Luckily, the "Earth's biosphere" is not a legal PERSON either.

And neither is a fetus. I think the discussion is about what should our policies be, rather than what they currently are.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on March 22, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think the Earth's biosphere, a human fetus, or any other animal should be a legal PERSON - as for what I think about corporations, that's for another thread.

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking as a former fetus, do you think YOU should exist?

Well, I didn't exist for several billion years before now and it didn't seem to bother me too much. So if I'd never existed in the first place I can't say I'd be too upset about it.

What about all the dozens of children you could have had if you'd had sex more often. Do you think THEY think they should exist?

Posted by: Stefan on March 22, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

CFShep:

I think Shoshana sums up what's underneath a doctrinnaire pro-lifer. She, a 20-year-old college student apparently without a soul in her social circle who's pro-choice, believes that comprehensive sex education "badly distorts the nature of sex."

Now that may not be prima facie misogynistic. Not *quite*.

But it does seem to express the orthdox Christian's orientation to human knowledge since the story from the Garden.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

If anti-abortion, "pro-life" people spent as much time worrying about infant mortality rates as they do about fetuses, then I'd take their arguments more seriously. But considering the appalling rates of infant mortality rates in the states considering the most stringent anti-abportion laws, that's a long time coming.

Posted by: lou on March 22, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

To be fair, pro-lifers are taking on a 100% infant mortality rate first. I can at least understand that as a priority. What I don't understand is their support for laws against the abortionist, but not the mother.

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

CFShep:

I think Shoshana sums up what's underneath a doctrinnaire pro-lifer. She, a 20-year-old college student apparently without a soul in her social circle who's pro-choice, believes that comprehensive sex education "badly distorts the nature of sex."

Now that may not be prima facie misogynistic. Not *quite*.

But it does seem to express the orthdox Christian's orientation to human knowledge since the story from the Garden.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

I condemn in-vitro fertilization (IVF). In fact, I counseled a relative against it for the very reason you list. She and her husband ended up getting pregnant without it.

Do you think couples who practice IVF should be sentenced to three to five years in jail for the murder of their fertilized eggs?

Posted by: Stefan on March 22, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Dj vu, Bob?

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

There is a rather vile expression among dedicated American patriots:

"I would not cross the street upon hearing Jane Fonda was there slitting her wrists."

No one cares what sex women are having generally speaking; get over yourselves you obviously self-absorbed lunatics. But just the same, legalities aside, why don't you stop vaccum-exterminating viable, 8 month- 29.5 day old fetuses out of your vaginas because your a bunch of selfish, drunken, insecure, twits.

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on March 22, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Don P:

No, just a slip of the fingers.

TOH:

Well, unfortunately it *does* boil down to the nature of sex. Shoshana seems to be a perfectly sincere person and it's hard to imagine a 20-year-old having contempt for her own body. But she has nonetheless bought into the idea that comprehensive sex education is a bad thing.

She even admits that sex ed and birth control would go a long way in reducing the number of abortions -- but she opposes them *anyway*. Because two wrongs don't make a right.

So you have in effect a 20-year-old college student arguing for the virtues of ignorance. Why?

Because the hardcore assumption underneath it all is that ogasms are only for making babies.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Shoshana seems to be a perfectly sincere person and it's hard to imagine a 20-year-old having contempt for her own body.

Obviously you haven't been with too many 20-year olds lately.....

Posted by: Stefan on March 22, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Not that I can speak for Shoshana (unless she is Jerry's girl), but most pro-lifers I meet who take a position against birth-control do so because of its abortofacient nature, not out of ignorance. I think Dustin Ridgeway posted the same above.

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Or, is that "Jessie's girl"? I'm not that up on pop culture.

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

"1. Protecting the Mother from prosecution. This is consistant with the belief that abortion is more manslaughter than murder."

No, it isn't. We don't "protect people from prosecution" for manslaughter. Manslaughter is a very serious crime, just not quite as serious as murder. So the idea that viewing abortion as manslaughter is consistent with opposing criminal prosecution of women who have abortions is just nonsense."

I was too loose with legal terms, I guess. replace "manslaughter" with "unintentional killing". The woman aborting the fetus may or may not feel malice towards the fetus, but she certainly doesn't feel malice on the level of a 1st degree murderer.

Regardless the the term used, the spirit of a pro-lifer's belief is that life is being extinguished. By labeling that belief as "murder", you inject a lot more emotion into the discussion, making reasonable compromise or even civilized discussion more unlikely. I can tell you with some good authority (living in Texas and knowing literally hundreds of Cristian conservatives) that a very strong majority of them are far more concerned with the life of the fetus than they are with suppressing women's sexuality. Accusing them falsely only alienates them further, something that we as democrats really shouldn't be doing at this point.

Posted by: Ace A. on March 22, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

I was too loose with legal terms, I guess. replace "manslaughter" with "unintentional killing". The woman aborting the fetus may or may not feel malice towards the fetus, but she certainly doesn't feel malice on the level of a 1st degree murderer.

Well, that's pretty much manslaughter you've described right there.

If you do believe that abortion is "unintentional killing" (but why? what's "unintentional" about it?" After all, scheduling an abortion and going to the doctor is quite intentional) then you'd still have to explain why you wouldn't want to jail women for having one. After all, a drunk driver who kills people didn't feel any malice towards his victims, either, but we still hold him accountable for his actions.

And yet abortion opponents want the debate advantage of calling abortion "killing" without following it through to the logical conclusion that if it is a killing, then the killer, the pregnant woman, should be tried and jailed for years -- because they know that if they ever did admit this, it would alienate too many of their supporters.

Posted by: Stefan on March 22, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

It is all about sex. Full stop.

All sex other than for strict procreation and only within the boundries of marriage is dirty and evil.

Posted by: ET on March 22, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

Body image issues are another ball of whacks altogether, and that sort of contempt has more to do with Cosmo than with James Dobson.

Don P.:

There's a large difference between using a condom and RU-486. The Catholic Church opposes artifical contraception even for married people, and it's based solidly on the idea that the purpose of sex is reproduction and only secondarily for expressing closeness between partners.

The reason you oppose sex education *even if it will reduce the abortion rate* is because it teaches one how to have sex without consequences, thereby shorting out morality.

Obviously to a pro-lifer like Shoshana, more sex without reproduction is a greater evil than more abortions.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

You guys.

Shoshana is not a 20-year-old. She's also not from around here, not that that matters for the purposes of the discussion unless we're talking about voting abortion as an issue.

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

sbortstop:

That's not what she says in her last post upthread.

She identifies herself as a 20-year-old college student, with all her friends and family being pro-life.

If you have reason to believe she's lying, well that would be interesting to hear :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Body image issues are another ball of whacks

I know it was just a typo, but it made me laugh. It's more apropros than the real expression, anyway!

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

Naww, it's not a typo. It's a deliberate homonym malopropism I've been using for nearly a decade :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

I have no doubt all her friends and family are pro-life, Bob. As for the rest of it, if you examine her post with even a modicum of linguistic training in hand, you spot the big gaping holes in the story. And I'm not giving away my troll-spotting methods in broad daylight...it's too much fun to have them. So since I won't back myself up here, you can choose to blow off my assessment, of course!

I will say, though, that I don't doubt she believes everything she's saying about abortion, contraception and so on. She just isn't who she says she is. Now, that doesn't really matter--words are the thing here--but y'all are getting all caught up in analyzing how a 20-year-old female college student could think so-and-so. That's all.

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

[i]If you do believe that abortion is "unintentional killing" (but why? what's "unintentional" about it?"[/i]

Well, I was using it more as an analogy than an equivalent.

[i]And yet abortion opponents want the debate advantage of calling abortion "killing" without following it through to the logical conclusion that if it is a killing, then the killer, the pregnant woman, should be tried and jailed for years -- because they know that if they ever did admit this, it would alienate too many of their supporters.[/i]

Very true, and a contradiction that should be addressed. That said, I think you sell a lot of pro-lifers short in terms of what they're looking for in terms of legal prosecution.

Myself, I've wavered between being favoring an abortion ban with the rape/incest exception (in my teens) to keeping it legal accross the board, with lots of stops inbetween. Right now I've settled (and almost certainly not permanently) on keeping abortion legal until third trimester (28 weeks), when the fetus becomes very viable outside of the woman's body, and thus becomes (in my view) a seperate person. When a woman crosses that border, I'm afraid I'm forced to say that willful abortion with no extenuating circumstances (health of the mother included) would be criminal and prosecutable.

I'm not entirely sure that this viewpoint would be all that unpopular, either.

Posted by: Ace A. on March 22, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Ace,
The point is that the assertion by abortion opponents that they believe abortion to be a great injustice, a great evil, comparable to murder or manslaughter or some other heinous crime, cannot be taken seriously if they oppose any serious criminal penalties for women who have abortions, or if they make an exception for unwanted pregnancies caused by rape. If they truly believe that abortion is the "taking of a human life," and more specifically an act of homicide, then their refusal to impose any serious legal penalty on women who have abortions demonstrates that they think of it more as a form of justifiable homicide than as any form of criminal homicide. But I don't think the vast majority of them even really think of abortion as homicide, let alone manslaughter or murder, despite their "unborn babies" shtick.

Posted by: seamus on March 22, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

Yeah, the post smelled funny. "My annoyingly perky Varsity friends" and so forth. But I'm not as inclined to indulge in troll-spotting games as some of my other confreres here. I'd rather take a person at their word for a number of reasons -- not least of all because it quite inverts any case you want to make if you turn out to be flat wrong.

For instance, everybody's been insisting that Don P. is Cheney. Maybe so, maybe not. The question's not all that interesting to me -- and plus, there's contradictory textual evidence (for instance, the real Cheney would in no way be so sanguine about abortion).

Ultimately, though, it rankles my civil libertarian sense of privacy. Let people claim to be who they want and take their arguments apart on their own terms. We're only words on a screen here, anyway.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Bob:

Leaving aside what age Shoshana is, I will agree that there is a large difference between using a condom and RU-486. I don't agree with the Catholic Church on that (or anything else - just ask cmdicely). But, I don't oppose sex education on the ground it teaches one how to have sex without consequences, thereby shorting out morality. I just expect parents and others in society to do that for minors, not State-run schools.

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

A "Henrietta" blatantly indulging in personal attacks is, however, another story as hopefully you saw upthread :)

But Shoshana's argument and prose are worthy of quite a bit more dignity than that.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Don P.:

Well, that's a dogmatic Libertarian position which says nothing about the morality of sex education per se, and is thus irrelevant to this particular discussion.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

"When a woman crosses that border, I'm afraid I'm forced to say that willful abortion with no extenuating circumstances (health of the mother included) would be criminal and prosecutable."

Well, your "health of the mother" exception is the elephant in the living room. What kind of risk to her health is sufficient to render the abortion non-criminal, in your book? And who decides, if not the woman and her doctor? Suppose she says she's having suicidal thoughts and she's worried she may try to kill herself if she can't get an abortion? Or perform a potentially life-threatening self-administered abortion by jumping off a roof or taking drugs or using a coathanger? It's really not that hard to fake that kind of thing.

Posted by: Kent on March 22, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Worthy of quite a bit more dignity...

You're missing my point, Bob. I couldn't care less who Shoshana is, but you guys were becoming heavily entangled in trying to understand how a college-educated female who has not yet attained her majority could hold these views. I simply steered you off the age misconception.

I've already said myself that I thought he/she/it was quite sincere about the views he/she/it espoused here. So, if you really want to "take [people's] arguments apart on their own terms," forget the "but she's 20 years old!" stuff.

(And, for anyone else who does find impostor-spotting entertaining, by my reckoning there is more than one person doing Don P. right now. The real Don P. is, thankgodfully, not among them.)

That's it for me on the Shoshana thing.

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

I think sex education is moral. I even said above that abortion is moral. So, I really don't understand what your gripe is.

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

That latest was for Bob. I could care less what shitstop thinks.

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

My reference to her my age occupied all of one sentence -- which Stefan responded to facetiously, so I clarified two separate issues regarding a young person's contempt for her body.

You seem to be insisting that 1) you know for a fact that Shoshana isn't who she says she is and 2) your knowledge is proprietary.

Which isn't a particularly good argument. You either know something we've missed, or you don't. What you can't do is to claim authority which "anyone with the slightest degree of literary training" would assent without making an argument. It's a form of browbeating.

Rereading Shoshana's post also leads me to conclude that she very well might be who she says she is, in some Christian college or red-state enclave somewhere. Certainly her positions are conflicted and contradictory on various aspects of the issue -- as one would expect from an ordinary person and not an older pro-life troll ideologue.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

I find it mind boggling how a person who claims to be in college can oppose comprehensive sex education because it grossly distorts the nature of sex.

That point's completely fair game in this discussion.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Oooh, Bobby Wobby and squawkstop are getting nasty with each other.

Let's pull up a chair and watch....

Posted by: Henrietta on March 22, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Sigh...Bob, linguistic training is not the same thing as literary training. I said upfront that I don't expect you to take me at my word without my providing my evidence. I still don't. You didn't, and that's fine.

And apart from that, I really am done. I simply am not interested in beating the horse six days past the moment of its decease. If you wish to make a few more posts in a row, on your own, further dissecting this, you are, of course, free to do so.

See you in another thread, another time.

Posted by: shortstop on March 22, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Can we get back to beating the 20-year old college coed then?

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Henrietta is *definitely* Don P, though :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

A couple months ago, Windhorse sent me an email about the Dobson Focus on the Family people. You know, the summer camps they run, the alternative teen media empire they've built. It's pretty scary and also pretty fascinating. Even scarier considering that the piece was 10 years old. One can only imagine the strength of this subculture today ...

So obviously whatever the true nature of our "young friend" here -- there are many 20-year-old female college students out there in JesusLand who have precisely these attitudes about sexu education and abortion in the case of rape and incest.

It's not like these views can't be held simply because of the age and the sex of the holder. Don't misunderestimate the underground theocratic empire currently under stealthy construction.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

[i]But I don't think the vast majority of them even really think of abortion as homicide, let alone manslaughter or murder, despite their "unborn babies" shtick.[/i]

You're wrong about that. Some do, but most do not. Making that Blanket generalization is no better than Mike Savage blathering on about how Liberals hate Freedom and how Liberals want to see American Soldiers die. I can sympathize with your cynism towards the right, but (1) It's simply not true, and (2) it certainly doesn't help in trying to attract moderate pro-lifers willing to talk compromise to the table.

[i]Well, your "health of the mother" exception is the elephant in the living room. What kind of risk to her health is sufficient to render the abortion non-criminal, in your book? And who decides, if not the woman and her doctor? Suppose she says she's having suicidal thoughts and she's worried she may try to kill herself if she can't get an abortion? Or perform a potentially life-threatening self-administered abortion by jumping off a roof or taking drugs or using a coathanger? It's really not that hard to fake that kind of thing.[/i]

Absolutely true, and one of the many reasons why I flip-flop abotu abortion about once a week. There's simply no easy answer here- I can't give a woman absolute control over her body because after a certain point the thing inside her is another human begin inside her. Somdbody's rights are going to be stepped on, regardless of what we decide is "correct." Given that, I think we just have to stiffen up and set concrete guidelines on exactly what constitutes the health of the mother, however arbitrary they are. I absolutely don't want a woman to ever lose control of her own body, but at what point does she start infanticide? I can't place that at exactly the point of birth when a baby can survive with minimal intervention several months previously.

Posted by: Ace A. on March 22, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, newbie question here... how do you italicize a quote? html isn't working.

Posted by: Ace A. on March 22, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bob:

What do you mean that Henrietta is Don P.?

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Ace A,
Telling someone "You're wrong" without providing any reason other than your personal assurance isn't terribly persuasive.

What "concrete guidelines on exactly what constitutes the health of the mother" do you propose? And if they're "arbitrary," as you seem to concede, why should we use them rather than some other set of arbitrary guidelines?

Posted by: gfra1 on March 22, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon, Chuckles/Charlie/Don P (the fake one),

We know you fake so many different names. I bet you asked your question at 4:42 PM through those purdy pouty lips of yours. See, you're here on Kevin's blog as now the fake Donny Pissypants. How many names do you use, Chuckles, to get around Kevin's request that you limit your posts to six?

LOL!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Donny Pissypants
His name's hijacked by a troll
Charlie/Chuckles...more.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

One thing pro-life and pro-choice positions have in common is that both seem to believe the onus for reproductive decisions rest with women. The pro-choice side calls this a right, while pro-lifers seem to consider it a burden. Either way, the woman seems to be left alone at a time when she could use considerable support.

I look forward to the day when we move beyond this debate and realize abortion is a symptom of a bigger issue, which is the ongoing confusion in this society regarding what to do with our sexual organs, when, why and with whom, and how the answer to each of those questions makes our world a better or worse place to live, and our lives more or less contented and meaningful.

Posted by: ScottC on March 22, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Occasionally most animals, as well as man, spontaneously abort-does this mean that God believes in abortion? If abortion is a natural consequence or part of life then doesn't nature and God approve of it's use? Does God provide for abortion?

Posted by: MRB on March 22, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

MRB:

Don't be silly. All death is a natural consequence of life - we don't allow REAL murder though.

Apollo 13:

Don't be silly. I am neither Charlie nor Henrietta.

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Sure we allow murder, we murder in war and maintain a death penalty. If spontaneous abortion is a natural consequence of life then God must consider abortion a viable concept to be used at times. Many spontaneous abortions are due to major problems with the fetus and it's potential to have a worthwhile future life. It is defective in someway and spontaneous abortion is nature's method to resolve the issue.

Perhaps, as true idiot right wingers, we should make all women that have abortions murderers and in turn execute them.

Posted by: MRB on March 22, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Look, I don't think abortion is "murder" [defined as the unlawful (therefore war and death penalty - self-defense, etc. - don't count) taking of a human life]. I'm just pointing out that you are on very shaky ground with this analogy, but honestly, I could care less.

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

I still don't understand how these people that make up the "Christian Right" can justify the positions they and their party (Republicans) take. Anti-abortion even in the case of rape/incest, then they support the death penalty (i guess its better to bring them into the world then kill them), and anti-gun control. Two out of three of these are anti-life and the other is a choice a person should make for themselves..if you are against abortion don't have one. I am personally pro-abortion (choice or whatever you want to label it), I feel it should be legal so we never go back to the days of back alley abortions and men holding women hostage over unwanted pregnacies. Especially women that know the situation that they are in will not facilitate a good home for the child...adoption is not an option for many women because once the child is born the man starts to have rights and could cause problems with the adoption process. No one gets an abortion because it is easy, just ask anyone that has had one...it is a painful experience, both mentally and physically, but sometimes it is better for both parties than the alternatives that are out there...These "Christian Right" people belly ache, threaten, throw the hate word out (like the man a few hundred post earlier named Al did) toward anyone that does not agree with their idea of what is "right". Being "right" (wing) doesn't make one right!!! I don't guess these people have the ability to put themselves in another persons shoes and try to understand what drives and motivates their actions. Jesus was a master of seeing things through others eyes. He also loved people without judgement...I don't remember him using the hate word...in fact you could make an arguement that Jesus was one of the first great liberals to be written about. These so=called christians need to go back to bible study, or maybe read the bible with an open mind (that means reading it without someone else interpreting it for you). They have tried to make being a liberal a dirty, anti-patriotic, anti-american thing to be..but I'm sorry, but I'm proud to be a liberal. I am as much a patrioit as any conservative if not more. Just because I am not willing to be led blindly by my government and religion doesn't make me bad, I seem to remember in my history lessons some other people that did that (these guys that were questioning things ended up writing a document called the Constitution). America was made great by people who have thought this way, and I am afraid that soon we are going to lose much of that precious freedom we have gained over the years. Fear has driven away our freedom, we must remember that being free comes with some danger..if you are totally safe, you are probably not free!!! These people on the "Christian Right" need to remember this and the seperation of church and state...because if they allow that to erode anymore, the government is soon going to be telling your minister, priest, or pastor what to say or maybe even the other way around...either way it is dangerous and is a sure way to erode freedoms...'nuff said...Peace and Love J(mightyquinninlex)

Posted by: mightyquinn on March 22, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

I still don't understand how these people that make up the "Christian Right" can justify the positions they and their party (Republicans) take. Anti-abortion even in the case of rape/incest, then they support the death penalty (i guess its better to bring them into the world then kill them), and anti-gun control. Two out of three of these are anti-life and the other is a choice a person should make for themselves..if you are against abortion don't have one. I am personally pro-abortion (choice or whatever you want to label it), I feel it should be legal so we never go back to the days of back alley abortions and men holding women hostage over unwanted pregnacies. Especially women that know the situation that they are in will not facilitate a good home for the child...adoption is not an option for many women because once the child is born the man starts to have rights and could cause problems with the adoption process. No one gets an abortion because it is easy, just ask anyone that has had one...it is a painful experience, both mentally and physically, but sometimes it is better for both parties than the alternatives that are out there...These "Christian Right" people belly ache, threaten, throw the hate word out (like the man a few hundred post earlier named Al did) toward anyone that does not agree with their idea of what is "right". Being "right" (wing) doesn't make one right!!! I don't guess these people have the ability to put themselves in another persons shoes and try to understand what drives and motivates their actions. Jesus was a master of seeing things through others eyes. He also loved people without judgement...I don't remember him using the hate word...in fact you could make an arguement that Jesus was one of the first great liberals to be written about. These so=called christians need to go back to bible study, or maybe read the bible with an open mind (that means reading it without someone else interpreting it for you). They have tried to make being a liberal a dirty, anti-patriotic, anti-american thing to be..but I'm sorry, but I'm proud to be a liberal. I am as much a patrioit as any conservative if not more. Just because I am not willing to be led blindly by my government and religion doesn't make me bad, I seem to remember in my history lessons some other people that did that (these guys that were questioning things ended up writing a document called the Constitution). America was made great by people who have thought this way, and I am afraid that soon we are going to lose much of that precious freedom we have gained over the years. Fear has driven away our freedom, we must remember that being free comes with some danger..if you are totally safe, you are probably not free!!! These people on the "Christian Right" need to remember this and the seperation of church and state...because if they allow that to erode anymore, the government is soon going to be telling your minister, priest, or pastor what to say or maybe even the other way around...either way it is dangerous and is a sure way to erode freedoms...'nuff said...Peace and Love J(mightyquinninlex)

Posted by: mightyquinn on March 22, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't the proabortion side just accept the antiabortion side at face value?

The writer of this piece is just a confused and dishonest moron.

Of course many people who oppose abortion do consider abortion to be murder. It is afterall the violent ending of a human life- to claim otherwise is to embrace falsehood.

Yes- women should have choice- and they do. Rape is not legal. Birth control is effective and readily available to all. There's your choice. Failing to exercise that choice and waiting until you've got an unborn baby in the picture is no longer choice, its selfish, violent and yes it is indeed murder.

Proof:

Scott Peterson case-

Scott killed his wife and unborn child. Did he murder them both? Does the mothers "choice" define what is and what is not murder? I think that's the real issue here.

Posted by: common sense on March 22, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK
The Catholic Church opposes artifical contraception even for married people, and it's based solidly on the idea that the purpose of sex is reproduction and only secondarily for expressing closeness between partners.

Er, no; its based on the idea that sex is both for reproduction and expressing closeness between partners, and separating the two functions is improper. This is why, e.g., the Church does not generally oppose (and, indeed, the moral guidelines for Catholic healthcare in the US issued by the US heirarchy require) availability of emergency contraception (where there is no indication that its function would be abortifacient rather than contraceptive) to victims of rape -- where the unitive function is completely absent to start with, it is not improper to interfere with the reproductive function, for proportional reasons, which (given the risk of aggravating trauma) can readily be assumed to be present in the case of rape.


Posted by: cmdicely on March 22, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

I guess some liberal don't know how to hit a post button...I wish the Kerry button on the voting machine would have been this touchy...maybe we wouldn't have all these problems right now!!!

Posted by: mightyquinn on March 22, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Ace A,
Telling someone "You're wrong" without providing any reason other than your personal assurance isn't terribly persuasive."

I wasn't trying to be persuasive. I was using exactly the same amount of empirical evidence that he used when making the accusation that most pro-lifers don't care about the unborn child. Frankly, this flabbergasts me. I expect a well-informed opinion from fellow liberals, not slanderous blanket statements that have little to no basis in fact and manage to drive an even bigger wedge between us and the moderate independents that are going to make or break any chance we have of recovering some political power in the next decade.

"What "concrete guidelines on exactly what constitutes the health of the mother" do you propose? And if they're "arbitrary," as you seem to concede, why should we use them rather than some other set of arbitrary guidelines?"

If I had any answers to these questions, I wouldn't be changing my mind about abortion every calendar month. I'm trying to say that any compromise on abortion is going to involve making some decisions on what does or does not constitute justifiable reasons for aborting an externally viable fetus. To a certain extent we're talking past each other simply because the debate is so polarized that any talk of compromise is shouted down instantly. How about this:

1. I believe that before the fetus is externally viable the woman carrying that fetus should have the right to abort that fetus. Most of America agrees with this.

2. I believe that after the fetus is externally viable then he/she constitutes a human being, and thus must be afforded the right to life. I have a feeling most of America would agree on this as well.

3. How the government defines "externally viable" is up for debate, though certainly by 32 weeks any debate is essentially academic. Before then we could argue.

4. What could be constituted reasonable reasons to abort rather than deliver an externally viable fetus is also up for debate, though the life of the mother must certainly be sacrosanct on one side, and any non-health related concerns (such as money) should be tossed out on the other.

Posted by: Ace A. on March 22, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Ace:

2. I believe that after the fetus is externally viable then he/she constitutes a human being, and thus must be afforded the right to life.

The right to abortion, as announced in Roe v. Wade, is an essential component of constitutional liberty and equality. The whole point of constitutional rights is that they are not subject to repeal by legislation, majority vote, or the advances in scientific technology.

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Ace,

"I wasn't trying to be persuasive. I was using exactly the same amount of empirical evidence that he used when making the accusation that most pro-lifers don't care about the unborn child."

I didn't say most pro-lifers don't care about the fetus (what you tellingly call "unborn child"). I said I don't think they consider abortion to be homicide, let alone murder or manslaughter. I think some of the items listed in Ampersand's table, and other items described here that Amp didn't mention (such as anti-abortionists' failure to condemn IVF), are clear evidence that the vast majority of anti-abortionists don't consider abortion to be homicide, and even stronger evidence that they don't consider it to be any kind of seriously wrong homicide like murder or manslaughter.

"I'm trying to say that any compromise on abortion is going to involve making some decisions on what does or does not constitute justifiable reasons for aborting an externally viable fetus."

You're the one pushing for compromise (I don't think we should or need to compromise), but when asked to describe what you think that compromise should be, you say you have no answers and that you keep changing your mind!

Posted by: seamus on March 22, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

spacemonkey: Stefan, would you see anything wrong with your mother aborting you? Just asking.

Can't speak for Stefan, but my answer is no. Based on my beliefs, the flesh doesn't have dominion over the soul. My soul would have skipped merrily along to the willing vessel that would have been right for me to come through and be born in this world, to incarnate. Just expressing my freedom of religion, thank you very much.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

"I think some of the items listed in Ampersand's table, and other items described here that Amp didn't mention (such as anti-abortionists' failure to condemn IVF), are clear evidence that the vast majority of anti-abortionists don't consider abortion to be homicide, and even stronger evidence that they don't consider it to be any kind of seriously wrong homicide like murder or manslaughter."

You're trying to perceive a cogent, logical philosophy where there is none. Just though it would appear logical that supporting the death penalty and opposing birth control are good indicators that abortion opponents are not genuine when appealing on the behalf of the unborn child, I can assure you that this is not the case in the vast majority of the pro-life movement.

Honestly, is it really hard to believe that such an emotionally charge, internally inconsistant beast such as organized religion can produce followers that don't examine their belief system critically? I can tell you from first hand experience, having lived in two of the reddest of red states (Texas, Idaho) that the mainstream pro-life movement is very earnest in its beliefs, and don't really take women's sexuality into account in the abortion debate. They're all over sexuality in plenty of other issues (contraception, sex education, IVF and on and on...), but abortion to them is primarily a right to life issue.

Posted by: Ace A. on March 22, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Ace A: Sorry, newbie question here... how do you italicize a quote? html isn't working.

To create italics [i] or bold [b] in html, use the "less than" and "greater than" signs instead of brackets.

To hot link, use [a href="dropinthecompleteURLhere"]link[/a]

Hope that helps.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

The abortion debate is not, and has never been, about abortion. No "pro-lifer" places any value on MY life.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on March 22, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

To add further to my comments at 6:55 PM, in the Christian faith I was reared in, though I have left that church, if you died before age 14, you automatically went to heaven. Sweet. A "get of hell" card and "free pass" to glory.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Um, missed a word...get out of hell.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 22, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Frank:

The abortion debate is not, and has never been, about abortion.

What are we all debating then?

No "pro-lifer" places any value on MY life.

How is that wireless connection from the womb going?

Posted by: Don P. on March 22, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ace,

You know, I'm really not trying to perceive a cogent, logical philosophy where there is none. My basic point here is that the public position of most pro-lifers is a tangled mess of inconsistency, and that that is all the more reason not to take their stated motives ("It's all about saving the babies!") at face value. If you want to know what really motivates them, you have to put that claim in context and examine the totality of their statements and actions on issues that relate to abortion. And I think it's fairly clear from such an examination that whatever is at the heart of their opposition to abortion, it's not concern for human life. That's not to say concern for life doesn't play some role in shaping their views, just that there are more powerful influences on their thinking on abortion.

Posted by: seamus on March 22, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, newbie question here... how do you italicize a quote? html isn't working.

you need to use the "greater than" and "lesser than" brackets instead of the [] brackets.

Posted by: Edo on March 22, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

Bob queried:

I mean, how can *any* intelligent person (and you write
extremely well) defend the idea that education about *any*
subject is a bad thing? I don't think any of us get this.

Me: I'm sorry, I put that badly; no wonder you're confused. I'm not opposed to people being educated about sex as such (they've obviously got to work it out somewhere). What I'm opposed to is people learning about it in a public place, in the most demystified terms possible, from (at least) the 3rd grade up. I think sex ed in those settings tends (at least as currently taught) to deaden people's romantic and sexual imaginations; at least, among people my age, who passed through that system, the prevailing attitude towards sex seems to be a sort of flat and leaden complacency, which I can't consider either healthy or (frankly) very exciting. Staightforward titillation would be far preferable.

Well, if I don't want sex ed taught in the schools, how would anyone find out about it? Speaking for myself (because I never went to public school, so was fortunate enough to escape sex ed, unlike the majority of my peers), a combination of talking with frank and sensible parents, gossiping with older kids, and a certain amount of surreptitious forbidden reading seems to have met the bill -- I think that's the general way most of humanity over the eons has put things together, actually. After all, there have been many, many centuries deprived of public sex ed, and yet the human race has continued, not only to reproduce, but also to write erotic poetry, over all that time -- I honestly think we can get along without it.

Shoshana

P.S. Thanks for your courtesy, and apologies for the length of everything I write -- brevity has never been my strong point.

Posted by: Shoshana on March 22, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Shoshana:

> "I mean, how can *any* intelligent person (and you write
> extremely well) defend the idea that education about *any*
> subject is a bad thing? I don't think any of us get this."

> Me: I'm sorry, I put that badly; no wonder you're confused. I'm
> not opposed to people being educated about sex as such (they've
> obviously got to work it out somewhere). What I'm opposed to
> is people learning about it in a public place, in the most
> demystified terms possible, from (at least) the 3rd grade up.

Well this is certainly not how I remember sex ed in public school
(in the early 70s). It was called health class (taught either by
the school nurse or the gym teacher) and it started in the 8th grade
through I think the 10th (I left public HS at that point). Some
fairly stupid B&W movies (wet dreams announce to the world that this
boy can be a father) and extremely schematic animations of What
Happens Down There. But not a whole lot of class discussion about
it (one girl left the room to throw up during a film of an animal
birth). It seemd the teachers were almost as embarrassed as we
students. Certainly no promotion of birth control that I can remember.

> I think sex ed in those settings tends (at least as
> currently taught) to deaden people's romantic and sexual
> imaginations; at least, among people my age, who passed
> through that system, the prevailing attitude towards sex
> seems to be a sort of flat and leaden complacency, which
> I can't consider either healthy or (frankly) very exciting.
> Staightforward titillation would be far preferable.

Okay, this isn't remotely a religious moral argument, it's a
libertarian anti-public education argument. I don't think it
parses at all, because what you're talking about is a whole suite
of cultural attitudes about sex which would be impossible to lay at
the feet of public sex education -- which is only meant to fill in
certain gaps because some parents have a hard time discussing the
facts of life with their children. While I certainly agree with you
that there's a "flat and leaden complacency" (nice phrase) in our
culture regarding sex and romance -- you can lay that at the feet of
our highly commercialized culture which puts a price tag on everything
and has perfected the art of eroticizing consumer products to tap
into a perceived personal lack. When everything becomes eroticized,
romantic mystery vanishes and sex becomes seen in instrumental terms.

You want a villian here, blame corporate marketing and motivation
research, which was invented in the 50s on Freudian principles to
sell the sizzle and not the steak. When you're selling self-esteem
to sell toothpaste, you'll never ever sate the demand for it. But the
root cause is neither the advertising industry nor Hollywood nor 60s
liberals corrupted by the Sexual Revolution. The root cause is market
culture values. Everything else are manifestations of that imperative.

> Well, if I don't want sex ed taught in the schools, how would
> anyone find out about it? Speaking for myself (because I never
> went to public school, so was fortunate enough to escape sex ed,
> unlike the majority of my peers), a combination of talking with
> frank and sensible parents, gossiping with older kids, and a
> certain amount of surreptitious forbidden reading seems to
> have met the bill -- I think that's the general way most of
> humanity over the eons has put things together, actually.

Well, but public school is designed for the mean, not the exception.
If every adolescent could be guaranteed to seek out medically accurate
information on these issues (as opposed to listening to, say, her
boyfriend telling her what he'd like her to believe), if every parent
was sensible enough to to have that frank talk -- then there'd be no
need for public family life education. Obviously there is, especially
among people concerned with teenage pregnancy and abortion. If you
don't count yourself among those people (because public sex education
is a cure worse than the disease), well then you'll just have to move
aside for those who do. These are a very serious set of public health
issues which have ramifications on all of society. Less unwanted
children leads to less crime and social dysfunction and happier people.

And we can share this position with pro-lifers, provided they support
the idea of public health prophylaxis, including sex education.

> After all, there have been many, many centuries deprived of
> public sex ed, and yet the human race has continued, not only
> to reproduce, but also to write erotic poetry, over all that
> time -- I honestly think we can get along without it.

Well, but at least in the West (leave aside the Kama Sutra for a
moment) it wasn't until comparatively recently that even the highest
level science had any clue about female sexual response. Sigmund
Freud believed that clitoral orgasms were largely psychosomatic (the
true female orgasm was vaginal, and women's penis envy kept them from
acknowleging that). It was only until the 50s that the research of
Alfred Kinsey began to reveal the truth of human sexual response to
a broad audience who could begin to talk about it. Otherwise, many
ethnic and religious traditions (especially Catholic) were oblivious.
An old joke: What's Irish foreplay? "Brace yourself, Brigit."
You certainly don't need to understand or to respect female sexual
response to keep the human race going (just ask the polygamous Arabs).

I'm glad that you've at least acknowleged the importance of
sex education. I'm not so keen on defending public education
per se provided some kind of accurate sex education exists.
What I'd like to understand is why you don't advocate
increasing sex education in the name of reducing abortions.

> P.S. Thanks for your courtesy,

My pleasure :)

> and apologies for the length of everything I
> write -- brevity has never been my strong point.

Hey, you 'n' me both.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 22, 2006 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

> "The Catholic Church opposes artifical contraception
> even for married people, and it's based solidly on the
> idea that the purpose of sex is reproduction and only
> secondarily for expressing closeness between partners.

> Er, no; its based on the idea that sex is both for reproduction
> and expressing closeness between partners, and separating
> the the functions is improper.

I really wouldn't try to put too jesuitical a point on this, Chris.
When the two are in conflict, reproduction clearly takes priority.
This is why the Church does not sanction any birth control for
married couples save for the infamous "rhythm method" (which is
biased against closeness because women tend to be at their horniest
during the the times in their cycle when they're the most fertile)
and why it doesn't countenance any orgasmic activity save intercourse.

> This is why, e.g., the Church does not
> generally oppose (and, indeed, the moral guidelines for Catholic
> healthcare in the US issued by the US heirarchy require)
> availability of emergency contraception (where there is no
> indication that its function would be abortifacient rather
> than contraceptive) to victims of rape -- where the unitive
> function is completely absent to start with, it is not improper
> to interfere with the reproductive function, for proportional
> reasons, which (given the risk of aggravating trauma) can
> readily be assumed to be present in the case of rape.

Ahhh ... but if the zygote manages to implant
and the emergency contraception would induce a
miscarriage, according to the Church she's SOL.

I'm sorry, Chris. You can put all the brown lipstick you want on
Cardinal RatBoy -- he's still a pig wrapped in expensive textiles.

Even that Egyptian-born Brooklyn imam the NYT did a big series
on issued a fatwa that oral sex was permissable between marrieds.

Bob

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Posted by: alain delon on March 23, 2006 at 4:23 AM | PERMALINK

This is a dead thread, but I want to give props to Bob and Shoshana. I agree more with the former, of course, but Shoshana seems like a person one can have a reasonable discussion with.

I'll accept Shoshana's claim that she as an individual is an exception to Ampersand's analysis, but I still agree that the anti-abortion movement in this country appears, as his analysis showes, to be motivated much more to punish women for sex -- and, therefore, reserve the power over sex for those with patriarchal power -- than to truly preserve life.

Posted by: Gregory on March 23, 2006 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Shoshana: I would want the mother protected from the legal consequences of murder because most mothers in that position don't realize they *are* taking a life . . .

If most expectant mothers wouldn't recognize the fetus as a "life" then why should society or the government?

And even assuming a medical professional would "know" that they are taking a life (because somehow in your mind you seem to think that what constitutes a "life" is a medical fact only known to experts and, of course, abortion opponents), if someone other than a medical professional performed the abortion, couldn't they also claim that they didn't know they were taking a life?

Sorry, but this is just the most inane defense I've every seen of the inconsistency of abortion opponents: "we want to punish people who perform abortions but not the mother because most of the former truly understand they are taking a life but most of the latter do not, because, you know, most expectant mothers are as dumb as rocks and people who perform abortions are not."

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 23, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Do you not believe any "fetuses" are babies? Not even if they could be viable outside the womb?"

I'm not sure what a "fetus" is, but I believe a fetus is not a baby.
Posted by: Marky on March 21, 2006 at 7:35 PM
*********************************************

Meaning what?

Posted by: Andrew J. Lederer on March 24, 2006 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

I believe that late-term abortions (except for legitimate physical medical reasons) are a form of infanticide e.g. murder. I therefore do strongly oppose the elective abortions available at any point in the pregnancy in NY and some other locales.

Then what do you think is the appropriate penalty for women who murder these fetuses? 20 to life? The death penalty?
Posted by: Stefan on March 21, 2006 at 9:20 PM
________________________________________

This is a tricky changing of the subject. Someone can feel at least some abortions are infanticide without advocating for criminal penalties against women who have them. The issue is if to regulate and how to regulate abortion legality based on when in pregnancy we are dealing with an infant.

Posted by: Andrew J. Lederer on March 24, 2006 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Andrew:

Actually, it's you who's changing the subject. If some abortions are infanticide, then somebody's responsible for killing those babies.

Why shouldn't the mother be responsible?

Aside, of course, from the fact that it would never fly politically ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 24, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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