Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 22, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

BLOG FOR CHOICE DAY....Over at Unfogged, LizardBreath writes about an abortion she had a decade ago:

Continuing that pregnancy wouldn't have been an epic tragedy for me; any proposal for abortion rights that requires abortion to be permissible only when the only alternative would be starving on the streets would leave me right outside.

But man, did I not want to be pregnant. I did not want to be locked into a minimum eighteen-year relationship with someone I'd been dating for a couple of months. I did not want to be responsible forever for someone who didn't exist yet. I didn't want to be physically pregnant. I had no idea of where I was going professionally -- I was a temp receptionist, thinking about maybe taking the LSATs -- or of how I would support myself or a child, and had no idea of how I'd find my way into a career with a new baby. The only thing being able to get an abortion did for me was give me some control over the course of the entire rest of my life.

So, politically useful as it is, I get a little edgy about rhetoric that stipulates that abortion is always a strongly morally weighted decision. I don't think it is, and if it were I'm not certain that my reasons for not wanting to continue a pregnancy at the time qualify as sufficient to do a wrong thing -- if abortion is an evil, it's not clear to me what evil would have been the lesser under those circumstances. But I am thankful every day of my life that I had the option to end that pregnancy back in 1995.

I agree. Paying obeisance to the view that abortion is an overwhelming emotional and moral decision is politically useful, and as such it may be helpful in keeping abortion legal. For that reason, I understand why many pro-choice politicians -- who obviously don't believe that early and mid-term fetuses are human lives that deserve legal protection -- treat it that way.

But as LizardBreath points out, there's also a real downside to the constant repetition of this kind of rhetoric since it serves to confirm that abortion should be an emotional rollercoaster, which in turn suggests that unborn fetuses really do have a morally ambiguous status. Pro-choice politicians ought to keep this in mind too. After all, what's politically useful today might not be quite so politically useful tomorrow. In the long run, the pro-choice movement would probably be a lot better off if we laid off the guilt and simply acknowledged instead that early and mid-term fetuses aren't sentient and women should be able to freely choose whether they want to bring theirs to term. The world would be a better place.

Kevin Drum 2:48 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (210)

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Are we so sure that Democratic politicians are merely giving lip service to the idea that abortion is a morally weighty choice? Or is it possible that most ARE fundamentally uncomfortable with on demand abortion and actual believe it to be, if not an evil, than a difficult choice which is a sad part of reality? I'm just not sure how many people there actually are out there who have the same generally positive view of abortion that LizardBreath seems to hold. I say this all as a pro-choice Democrat, by the way.

Posted by: Micah on January 22, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

It's a rude question, but if she wasn't ready to have a baby, what makes anybody sure she was ready to have sex? Both were her choice, of course -- but if you leave out the latter, I dunno that there is much traction to the former.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 22, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

If we can't distinguish between RU-486 and late second-term all under the term "abortion," we cede too much. Taking RU-486 should in no way be considered such a major moral event.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on January 22, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Well said. The notion that moral choices can be different for different people, or subtly graded for the same people in differing circumstances is exactly the kind of grown-up complexity that frightens the bedwetters on the right, and the overwhelming majority of Americans agrees with this notion.

So let's stop being intimidated by Bible-belt crybabies.

Posted by: Kenji on January 22, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK
But as LizardBreath points, there's also a real downside to the constant repetition of this kind of rhetoric, and politicians ought to keep this in mind too.

Where? I see LizardBreath saying that if she were to posit that there was a substantial moral character to the decision now, she would not, looking back, be certain where the balance rested, but that she is personally glad now that she made the decision she made then.

No doubt people can be found that feel the same about the moral question, but regret the decision they made (either way) in the past, too.

But I don't see how any of that is a "downside" to recognition of the fact that decisions about abortion are frequently highly emotionally charged decisions, often made in a time when a person is under a lot of stress, and frequently one that challenges the moral beliefs of the person making the decision, in either direction, and often one's that involve highly subjective factors that other people are not fit to judge.

In the long run, we'd be a lot better off if we laid off the guilt

Acknowledging the charged context of the decision for many of the people making it has nothing to do with guilt.

and simply acknowledged instead that early and mid-term fetuses aren't sentient

That is, at best, debatable, and probably in practice an irresolvable semantic morass that doesn't really solve anything anyway.

and women should be able to freely choose whether they want to bring theirs to term.

Yes, well, sure it would be nice if for any political view I hold everyone would just agree to agree with me, but in practice that's not going to happen, either because of different perceptions of facts or different value systems applied to those facts (or both).

Posted by: cmdicely on January 22, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

I had an abortion when I was in college and, frankly, it wasn't pleasant, but neither was it earth shattering. I had a brief rebound relationship with someone after breaking up with a long term boyfriend. Although I was on the pill, I still got pregnant. It sounds skanky, but I was not sure who the father was and I did not want the whole sordid mess of paternity tests, et al. The bad thing was I was in England for a semester when I found out and both guys were back in the states. In England at the time, you had to get permission from two doctors to get an abortion. It was pretty routine though. They did not ask a lot of questions, just stamped the form. I still remember going to the clinic and the guys who performed the procedure watching a soccer game on TV the whole time.

Fifteen years later, I'm happily married, employed and have two wonderful kids. I really never think of the abortion except when the right wing crazies go on and on about it. I was only about five weeks pregnant when I had the abortion. So maybe I'm a terrible, soulless person or maybe in some cases it just isn't that big a thing.

Posted by: Teresa on January 22, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Abortion is not a morally weighty issue? Are you kidding me? She's choosing to end the life. How callous is this woman? Having sex 2 months into a relationship is a morally weighty issue. Ending the pregnancy because she didn't like the inconveniences is a morally weighty issue. Any argument otherwise is insulting to pro-lifers, pro-choicers, all mother, and all babies... and all fathers for that matter. Pardon me while I go throw up.

And she says she was choosing the lesser of two evils? Yes, one evil is killing a baby growing inside of you, and the other evil is having the baby and being inconvenienced because you chose to have sex 2 months into a relationship. Hmmm, she chose the lesser of two evils, all right.

Sometimes the Washington monthly makes me want to switch sides.

Posted by: Hal on January 22, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

It's a rude question, but if she wasn't ready to have a baby, what makes anybody sure she was ready to have sex? Both were her choice, of course -- but if you leave out the latter, I dunno that there is much traction to the former.

This is another piece of rhetoric from the right -- the constant repetition of which should be halted.

While not wanting to make presuppositions about Lizardbreath's situation, I suggest, quite simply, that a woman (or man) can be "ready" to have sex without being ready to make a lifelong commitment to a child.

The two are not inextricably intertwined. I know because I have had sex many many many times, and do not have a child to show for it. (You see, there's this thing called "birth control"....)

I suspect that is true in 98% of all cases involving coitus. I suspect that the commenter knows this as well.

Posted by: K Ashford on January 22, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, somebody who can't identify the father of the baby thinks it's "no big deal" to end the baby's life.

Big shocker there. Go back to the trailer park, Teresa.

Posted by: Dear Teresa on January 22, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Acknowledging" that abortion is morally charged also serves to confirm that abortion should be emotionally charged, especially when this is repeated constantly. In the long run, this acknowledgment probably hurts the pro-choice cause more than it helps, and it certainly causes pregnant women far more pain than they would otherwise have to endure.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on January 22, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

My wife of 26 years and I have two lovely daughters in College - with enough in the 529 to cover expenses. We had an abortion of "convenience" while we were dating in college. I seriously doubt we could have made it together if we went ahead and had the child. No money, lousy jobs and a massive re-direction in life goals would have blown us apart.

Posted by: Anon on January 22, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

"Yes, well, sure it would be nice if for any political view I hold everyone would just agree to agree with me, but in practice that's not going to happen, either because of different perceptions of facts or different value systems applied to those facts (or both)."

This is precisely the argument of the pro-choice side.

Pro-choice incorporates the values of those who are pro-abortion and those who are anti-abortion. It simply lets the individual woman choose according to her value system, not anybody else's.

Posted by: K Ashford on January 22, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

early and mid-term fetuses aren't sentient and women should be able to freely choose whether they want to bring theirs to term.

Of course they're sentient. Look at these 4D pictures of the sentient fetuses. It will convince anyone with a heart (in other words, any one not a liberal) abortion is wrong because it is murder of the unborn.

Link of unborn mid-term human

Al
..

Posted by: urpewqas on January 22, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

I probably should not have put my personal life on display for everyone, but frankly, some of you need to grow up. About a million abortions are performed every year. If they all had earth shattering mental health effects on the women who go through them, we would be dealing with a lot of seriously disturbed women out there. The reason that people choose not to tell others that they have had an abortion is that people like you jump down their throats. But, guess what, odds are you know plenty of women -- your sisters, aunts, even mothers -- who have had an abortion and manage to get up every morning and go on with their lives. I did not like having to do it, but it was the best choice at the time for me and my family.

My parents are hard core Catholics who don't believe in abortion and my mother goes on all the time about how women never recover from this decision. I don't feel like shattering her illusions -- and I am sure some of your family members don't like shattering yours.

By the way, having sex with someone new while recovering from a break up isn't exactly a new thing either. Sad, unfortunate, but hardly unheard of. I have had less than five sexual partners in my forty years on this earth and been happily married for 13 years. I don't think this makes me trailer trash.


Posted by: Teresa on January 22, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe I’m wrong but even the evangelicals are getting tired of the abortion ‘debate’. Compared to global warming and any number of real problems this seems like decadence. I guess that’s why we have to talk about it.

I can’t imagine an America where women ascend to the most powerful positions in society, where women have wealth and power and, at the same time, power over their reproduction is dictated by a bunch of men like Rick Santorum, Sam Brownback and Jerry Falwell- men with bad hair and dubious tailoring.

Posted by: bellumregio on January 22, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Bless LizardBreath and bless you, Kevin, for the courage to bring this argument to the fore.

Never having had an abortion, I've hesitated to attack this "abortion victim" meme.

(And no, Americanist, it's not about responsibility or maturity or the morality of having sex. It's about the availability and effectiveness of contraception. Period.)

But this "devastating choice" nonsense is too dangerous to let grow.

In classic wingnut style, it infantilizes women. "Poor babies, they're too feeble-minded to decide whether to have sex, too dumb to use contraception correctly, too morally dense to realize that an abortion will destroy their lives forever.

"Let's just strap them up to the reproduction machine, give them frontal lobotomies and leave them to enjoy 50 years of forced fertility.

"For their own good."

Posted by: Yellow Dog on January 22, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

"...The world would be a better place." [End of Drum's post.]
And perhaps, just perhaps, the child aborted by Lizard Breath would have made the world a better place if he or she had been allowed to exist. How sad. I just don't understand people who are so callous about the consequences of ending a pregnancy. A person has ceased to be, a unique individual will never have the chance to live. All that human potential is gone. And some speak of it in terms of "political usefulness," and act like there are no moral implications.
And Teresa, if you think it's only "right wing crazies" who agonize over this, then perhaps you need to get out more. You comment, "...maybe in some cases it just isn't that big a thing." Is your life, your very existence, a big thing? How about the life of a child who is gone forever?
I'm glad to hear that you have a happy life. But don't be surprised if people like me consider it a tragedy that a child's life was terminated, a child who never had the chance to be happy, because a self-absorbed adolescent didn't want to be inconvenienced with paternity tests.
Kevin, do you think the attitude you expose in your post can really be called "progressive"?
How sad.

Posted by: anon on January 22, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

You can't even prove that Al is sentient, let alone the viability of a month-old fetus.

Posted by: Kenji on January 22, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

It's a rude question, but if she wasn't ready to have a baby, what makes anybody sure she was ready to have sex? Both were her choice, of course -- but if you leave out the latter, I dunno that there is much traction to the former.

I take great comfort in the fact that people who speak like this ONLY have sex when they want to make a baby and at no other time.

Posted by: Gex on January 22, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

The women I have known who had abortions did not face a moral dilemma. They just did not want to have a child at that time, knowing it would lock them in to lives with undesirable men and in an economic class they had no intention of remaining. These women did grow up to become productive and good parents, but they understood the potential babies they aborted would have made their lives miserable. Not only do unwanted babies make the lives of the mothers miserable, they make for a miserable society, too.

Politicians seem to want to make abortion a moral dilemma. It provides political cover when they impose authority on others' reproduction rights.

Posted by: Brojo on January 22, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Acknowledging" that abortion is morally charged also serves to confirm that abortion should be emotionally charged

Exactly... I think that if we interviewed enough women who decide to abort, we'd find much less weeping and wailing than we'd like. The prospect of gestation and parenthood tends to lend a sort of practical clarity to most individuals' perceptions, IME, and no matter how much waffling might precede conception, seeing that line on the test makes reality seem like a pretty high-definition picture. It doesn't mean they're necessarily happy about their decisions, but regret and ambivalence aren't the same emotions, after all.

Posted by: latts on January 22, 2007 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to add that I worked as a child protective service worker for ten years and saw many, many "unwanted" children who were born to mothers who did not need a child. I find it interesting that all those people who go on about the "sanctity" of life are no where to be found when these kids need foster homes, adoptive homes, etc... There are about 4,000 children in my state alone who need adoptive homes. Yet, when it comes time to raise a crack baby or a child with cerebral palsy or a child who has been sexually abused, there are few people willing to step up to the plate. I would have a lot more respect for the "pro-life" folks if I saw them actually taking care of a child whose mother chose not to have an abortion.

Posted by: Teresa on January 22, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

perhaps, just perhaps, the child aborted by Lizard Breath would have made the world a better place if he or she had been allowed to exist

Perhaps... I'd bet that the children of most intelligent, pragmatic people would have some value. They'd have to beat the mindless little drones that most fanatics seek to produce, anyway.

Posted by: latts on January 22, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Teresa,

Don't let them get to you. Andrew Sullivan recently pointed out that they estimate that 90% of Down's Syndrome fetuses are aborted, and pointed out, quite rightly, that these were not all performed by pro-choice people.

The fact is, there is a distressing "It's okay for me, and not for you" thread going through the morals crowd.

- Republicans against embryonic stem cell research (except if they are in the family of a former president with Alzheimer's)
- Republicans against gay marriage (unless their daughters are gay. Suppose we could add gay parenting to this too.)
- Republicans against medical malpractice suits. (Unless your Rick Santorum and your wife can get 2x the cap you want to impose on the rest of the country.)

Take comfort in the fact that the people attacking you 1) have slept with more than one person in their lifetimes, and sometimes had a small gap between one person and the next and 2) in your same situation would have likely done the same thing. The only difference is that they would still be good people of course...

Posted by: Got Teresa's Back on January 22, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Remind me again: when and how did putting a baby up for adoption cease to be an option in America?

Posted by: Willie B on January 22, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

And perhaps, just perhaps, the child aborted by Lizard Breath would have made the world a better place if he or she had been allowed to exist.

What a load of crap. By this same logic, I should mourn every menstrual period, since each one represents a potential unique baby as well.

Posted by: nolo on January 22, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Dice (for once) only JUST misses the point...LB remembers when she was pregnant by a guy with whom she wanted no long term consequences. She aborted the baby. (She doesn't mention if the guy was prepared to do the right thing by her and his child: curious omission.) LB says, looking back, IF she thought of it as a question of right and wrong, she's not sure if she did the moral thing... but, hey, so what? She got control over her life: and after all, that's what counts.

Kevin completely missed the point -- LB didn't say that there is a downside to considering abortion a moral issue. She just said SHE didn't think of hers as a choice between right and wrong -- and she strongly hints: 'good thing, too, cuz I just might realize that I did something irrevocably wrong.'

That abortion may often (perhaps always) be a mortal sin, does NOT mean that it should often (if not always) be also illegal.

But the more progressives blow off the moral significance of the choices involved, BEGINNING with the mutual decision of a man and woman to have sex which often DOES involve the possibility of a third life, the more certain it is that, sooner or later, somebody will find a better civic balance... and it won't be us.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 22, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

perhaps, just perhaps, the child aborted by Lizard Breath would have made the world a better place

And perhaps, just perhaps, it would have grown up to be a mass murderer. Your argument carries no weight whatsoever.

Posted by: apostropher on January 22, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Most important thing about the Values War is that it is free. It costs the rich nothing. If the Republicans could keep money in the hands of their plutocratic base by being pro-choice they would be. As it is their coalition is plutocrats and preachers. I am sure some of the Republicans wish things were different.

Posted by: bellumregio on January 22, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Big shocker there. Go back to the trailer park, Teresa.
Posted by: Dear Teresa

Thank gawd for ad hominem attacks, without them some mouth-breathers would have to resort to: "nyah, nyah, nyah."

And this one didn't even have the stones to use their own handle.

Posted by: cyntax on January 22, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

George Will on his son with Down's Syndrome, and current trends in aborting such children:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16720750/site/newsweek/

Posted by: on point re Down's Syndrome on January 22, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

But the more progressives blow off the moral significance of the choices involved, BEGINNING with the mutual decision of a man and woman to have sex which often DOES involve the possibility of a third life, the more certain it is that, sooner or later, somebody will find a better civic balance... and it won't be us.
Posted by: theAmericanist

and their moral certainty will last just as long it takes one of their daughters to get pregnant, or to die in a back alley with a hanger perforation.

the right wingers have defined morality for too long ... they can suck on it. anyone who waxes sentimental about 4D ultrasounds but doesn't worry their pretty little mind about >500,000 dead iraqis can suck my hairy balls.

Posted by: Nads on January 22, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

But the more progressives blow off the moral significance of the choices involved, BEGINNING with the mutual decision of a man and woman to have sex which often DOES involve the possibility of a third life, the more certain it is that, sooner or later, somebody will find a better civic balance... and it won't be us.

I don't know that anyone is "blowing off" the moral significance. I suspect that it is ALWAYS a consideration for women contemplating abortions. But many times, it is not the only consideration and/or those women do not come to the moral conclusion that you would like them to.

Deal with it.

Posted by: K Ashford on January 22, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

George Will on his son with Down's Syndrome, and current trends in aborting such children:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16720750/site/newsweek/
Posted by: on point re Down's Syndrome

We would all agree that it would be easier to choose to raise a child with a disability or mental retardation when one is wealthy. George Will doesn't deign to look below his income bracket on any other issue, either.

Posted by: Nads on January 22, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

DRIVEL!

If reasoinging ability is the criteria, those yet-born fetuses are more sentient than Mr. Drum; and less deserving of "termination" than a death row murderer. Abortion is the termination of a life; you can decide your position, political and personal, around that, but to deny it is desperate.

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on January 22, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Have to disagree, Kevin. Abortion is a weighty moral choice and should be seen that way. Precisely because it is a difficult matter maybe next time the poster you quote will be a little more careful about contraception.

Abortion is a solution to a problem but it is far from the ideal solutions: contraception or abstinence.

Posted by: Tlaloc on January 22, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Ideal use contraception has a 99.5% success rate. Typical use approaches 98% success.

2% failure among contraception users is still a fuckload of unwanted pregnancies, even amongst those whom the fetus-huggers would stipulate are being "responsible" in their perverted morality.

Posted by: Nads on January 22, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Thank God people are starting to say this in public. Look, we treat sentient creatures-- pigs, cows, chickens-- a lot worse than we treat aborted fetuses. Could someone please explain to me why aborting a five-week-old fetus is a bigger deal ethically or emotionally than eating bacon?

Posted by: dbake on January 22, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK
"Acknowledging" that abortion is morally charged also serves to confirm that abortion should be emotionally charged, especially when this is repeated constantly.

Only when done ineptly or by people who themselves can't separate description from prescription, both of which are, unfortunately, common factors in Democratic advocacy, and not just on this issue.

But not acknowledging that abortion is, in fact, often a morally and emotionally charged decision both makes advocates seem out of touch and misses one of the most practically potent arguments for the urgent necessity, not just the abstract desirability, of nonintervention.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 22, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

The Americanist is all wrong at 3:59. Lizard Breath explained in her post that the guy did turn out to be a good guy, and that she is now raising two children with him. Right guy, wrong time. There was no "curious omission". And she didn't "strongly hint" anything.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 22, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK
The women I have known who had abortions did not face a moral dilemma.

Some of those I've known have, others haven't. Some who haven't have had a decision that was strongly emotionally charged for reasons which weren't about morality. Some haven't done that, either. Sometimes, people I've known have had more than one abortion, and its been different for different abortions.

Recognizing that something occurs frequently enough to be an important consideration does not mean that it happens everytime, that it ought to happen every time, etc.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 22, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Bearing a child is also a weighty moral choice, can also be an emotional disaster for the mother, and can also lead to disastrous social effects. The conservatives here are ending up at "Abortion is wrong" + "Don't have sex if you can't raise a kid".

They're not really comparing the good and bad effects of abortion vs. having a kid; theydon't really care about the results.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 22, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Contraception is not a cure all. As I mentioned in my original post, I was on the pill when I got pregnant. Unfortunately, I recently had a case of bronchitis and was given a 10 days worth of antibiotics. The doctor did not bother mentioning that antibiotics can weaken the effects of the pill. I am sure I am not the only one who did not know this at 18.

Posted by: Teresa on January 22, 2007 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

And perhaps, just perhaps, the child aborted by Lizard Breath would have made the world a better place if he or she had been allowed to exist.

And perhaps, just perhaps, the child that would have developed from the sperm you ejaculated when masturbating would have made the world a better place if only he or she had been allowed to exist...

Posted by: Stefan on January 22, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Remind me again: when and how did putting a baby up for adoption cease to be an option in America?

The lawyer Joel Steinberg took an unwanted child from a woman, Michele Launders, in order to be adopted out, but he did not adopt the child to a loving home. Joel Steinberg kept the child for himself, which was kept in a kind of legal limbo, and then beat the child to death over some years time.

Joel Steinberg is now out of prison. Perhaps he wants to adopt your unwanted child. Perhaps every child put up for adoption will fall into the hands of a Steinberg. Perhaps abortion is a better choice.

Posted by: Brojo on January 22, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Hey dopes,

Nothing confirms the "selfish and superficial" stereotype of pro-choicers like a 100% lifestyle abortion where adoption is never considered. And then you top it off with whining about all this morality talk being politics to garner the favor of Jesus freaks.

But hey, when you're a hip urbanite, you don't have time to deal with outdated modes of thinking about "right" and "wrong."

Thanks!

Yours truly,
A pro-lifer

Posted by: Chris on January 22, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

I would think that the pro-life crowd would be happy to have LizardBreath's comments represent the pro-choice side. There's nothing they'd like better than to define the abortion debate as "Defenders of innocent unborn children vs. selfish bitches who only care about their own desires". Her words seem to acknowledge that she never thought about any possible moral or ethical dimension to getting an abortion, she just really wanted one because how it would affect HER lifestyle. Life vs. Lifestyle is exactly the way pro-lifers want to discuss abortion.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 22, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Joel Steinberg is now out of prison. Perhaps he wants to adopt your unwanted child. Perhaps every child put up for adoption will fall into the hands of a Steinberg. Perhaps abortion is a better choice.

He may also be standing outside your house with a machete. Better stay indoors.

Posted by: Chris on January 22, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, what you and Lizardbreath don't seem to realize is that people come to the (majority) pro choice position via various paths. Some believe what you and Lizardbreath do, that an abortion is no more morally weighty than having a boil lanced. Other pro choice folks believe abortion is a grave moral wrong but that legalized abortion is the least bad of a variety of unsavory options. I think maybe the echochamber has allowed you to overlook the fact that your position is basically on the fringe.

Oh, and on the matter of being sentient. The notion that even late in the second trimester a fetus is not "sentient" is, how shall I put this, bullshit. A fetus at 24 weeks is not significantly less sentient than a full-term baby at birth. Wingnuts are justifiably excoriated for making up their own science about evolution, the Grand Canyon, and so forth. So let's not, as progressives, start making up science about human gestation. A baby born at the tail end of the second trimester has 50/50 or better odds of living if delivered to the NICU.

Posted by: John M on January 22, 2007 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

They're not really comparing the good and bad effects of abortion vs. having a kid; they don't really care about the results.

Not care is a little strong. We actually subordinate that result to the first principle that an embryo is a human life and we have no right to cause it direct harm.

Posted by: Chris on January 22, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

But not acknowledging that abortion is, in fact, often a morally and emotionally charged decision both makes advocates seem out of touch

Maybe, just maybe, they are out of touch.

and misses one of the most practically potent arguments for the urgent necessity, not just the abstract desirability, of nonintervention

I agree, which is one more reason why Roe is an abominable decision and should have let the American people work out their morals and emotions legislatively.

Posted by: Chris on January 22, 2007 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Sometimes the Washington monthly makes me want to switch sides.

Don't let the door hit your ass....

Posted by: Disputo on January 22, 2007 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Hal: Abortion is not a morally weighty issue? ... Having sex 2 months into a relationship is a morally weighty issue. Ending the pregnancy because she didn't like the inconveniences is a morally weighty issue. Any argument otherwise is insulting to pro-lifers, pro-choicers, all mother, and all babies... and all fathers for that matter.

This presumes an absolute morality and that you know what that morality is. Of all moral codes that have existed since we grew out of Homo Erectus, you know which one is "right." How arrogant.

People vary. To have a different morality than yours is not insulting you. For you to argue that everyone's morality must be the same as yours does insult us.

I have invested in two abortions in my lifetime, each time paying for half, while my girlfriend paid the other half. In the first case, my then girlfriend felt some minor psychological discomfort. The other girlfriend, some years later, did not.

Those who would be sorrier to have an abortion than to have the baby should have the baby. Those who would be sorrier to have the baby should have the abortion.

Those of us who are not involved in a particular person's decision should STFU and not try to create guilt where none exists.

For many people, abortion is simply not a weighty moral decision, and for others it is. Since moral opinions on the subject differ, arguing that abortion should be outlawed is the same as arguing that one's own religion's precepts should be made into public policy, which reminds me of the Taliban.

Next up for the American Christian Taliban, outlawing eating shrimp and weaving cloth that mixes linen and wool, because the Bible says they are an abomination.

Posted by: anandine on January 22, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Ideal use contraception has a 99.5% success rate. Typical use approaches 98% success.

2% failure among contraception users is still a fuckload of unwanted pregnancies, even amongst those whom the fetus-huggers would stipulate are being "responsible" in their perverted morality.

As somebody you would surely regard as a "pervert," I wish to thank you for pointing out that abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancies. You should give talks at high schools.

Posted by: Chris on January 22, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

I love how all the pro-lifers talk about how wonderful adoption is. Like I mentioned above, no one talks about the thousands and thousands of children eligible for adoption through the foster care system in this country. If you asked a pro-lifer why they have chosen NOT to adopt, they will give you the same arguments that people give you about why they had an abortion: it is not the right time, I don't have the money, it would interfer with my job etc... Somehow they believe that parents who want these kids will magically appear. As a former DSS worker, I can tell you they don't. There are way too many children raised in group homes and orphanages. Because they aren't all cute little white babies they don't get adopted.

Pro-lifers don't want to deal with the reality that there ARE unwanted children -- children actually walking around, talking, out of the womb -- and that they don't want them either. Foster care adoption is practically free. There is no good reason if you are really pro-life not to go get a child from your local Dept of Social Services.

Teresa

Posted by: Teresa on January 22, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

It costs the rich nothing. If the Republicans could keep money in the hands of their plutocratic base by being pro-choice they would be. As it is their coalition is plutocrats and preachers. I am sure some of the Republicans wish things were different.

Damn those politicians for carrying out the will of the people!

Posted by: Chris on January 22, 2007 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Lizardbreath is quite aware of the anti-abortion arguments. She just doesn't accept them and doesn't believe that Democrats should pass them on in the attempt to come up with a centrist abortion stand. In particular, she's denying the "emotional trauma to the woman" argument. There a boatload of irony here, because the so-called pro-life side does everything it can to maximize trauma to the woman in this kind of case case, and then uses the trauma they tried to cause as an argument against abortion.

That seems malicious, especially because they are probably aware that childraising can be terribly traumatic -- not just inconvenient, as the liars say -- but they don't care about that. (Two words: Andrea Yates. The one with the pro-life husband who wanted more kids).

Posted by: John Emerson on January 22, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK
I agree, which is one more reason why Roe is an abominable decision and should have let the American people work out their morals and emotions legislatively.

The nonintervention I was talking about was government intervention in personal emotional decisions, not judicial nonintervention in controversial policy practices, which is of course a ridiculous thing to demand.

I mean, Roe is about the most poorly reasoned, well-known, USSC decision I can think of off the top of my head, but what you point to is not something I would characterize as one of its problems.


Posted by: cmdicely on January 22, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Let the American people work out their morals and emotions without the minority imposing their beliefs through state police coercion.

If the majority were to be militantly pro-abortion and impose their authoritarian beliefs by making all unwanted preganancies be aborted, I think Chris would change his opinion about legislated remedies regarding reproductive rights. Chris, take your argument to China, where abortion is forced on women by the state.

Posted by: Brojo on January 22, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Seeing this post and then the comments that follow is another nice example of why the abortion debate isn't a debate, but rather two sides completely talking past each other. If you think, as Kevin does, that the fetus isn't a sentient human being, then there's nothing wrong with abortion. Specifically, it's not murder. Then a lot of the moral discussion seems pointless, and all the pro-lifers seem moralistic at best and crazy at worst.

But if you do think the fetus is a sentient human being (which clearly means you think the fetus has a soul, since there's obviously no physical brain at the start), then abortion is flat out murder and the idea of choice seems callous at best and evil at worst.

No way to square that circle, I'm afraid.

Posted by: Matt on January 22, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that women don't agonize over the abortion decision is just too emotionally threatening to many people--especially men. Never being able to make the decision himself puts a man in the position of only being able to experience the result of the decision. His mother could have aborted him. His wife/girlfriend could abort his child. His wife/girlfriend could override his wish for a child to be aborted, ensuring that he has to pay child support for 18 years.

It's not fair. Nor is it fair that a woman pays the price in temporary physical restrictions, bears the pain of labor and/or a C-section and various risks to her health in order to carry a pregnancy to term. She usually takes a financial hit as well, since she is usually the parent who adjusts her job responsibilities downward to allow for infant care afterwards. She gets the final say because yes, it is her body. We don't need to examine her soul. In the last three months of a pregnancy there are medical issues relating to the dangers of a late abortion, and the possibility of fetal sentience. These should be left to a woman and her doctor to decide. That may not be perfect, but it's the best we can do with a unique legal situation where two people are sharing the same body.

But the need for abortion is as much a commentary on men's sexual behavior as women's. If all men refused to have sex unless they were emotionally and financially ready to support a child, and they had sex only with women who agreed they were ready to bear their children, there would be very few abortions. There would also be very little sex. The negotiations would resemble the much ridiculed sexual consent policy suggested by feminists at Antioch College.
http://soc.enotes.com/rape-campus-article
I think people called it a real romance-killer.

Married couples would also, of course, abstain from sex unless they could support more children.

So, everybody, teach your sons to keep it zipped unless they're ready to settle down and be fathers.

I don't know about everybody else, but I don't think that's going to work.

Posted by: cowalker on January 22, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Pro-lifers don't want to deal with the reality that there ARE unwanted children -- children actually walking around, talking, out of the womb -- and that they don't want them either.

We deal with it by acknowledging that it has zero bearing on the fact that abortion is an injustice towards the unborn.

We also contend that an environment of abortion on demand creates more problems by encouraging promiscuous behavior.

(Also, many pro-lifers do adopt for exactly that reason.)

Posted by: Chris on January 22, 2007 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

It always comes down to sex for those guys.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 22, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Kevin, for this post.

Like many, many, many women, I had a very early abortion when I was too young to become a mother. I felt GREAT after my abortion -- I had dodged a huge bullet and my life was back in my hands. Since I do not believe that a fetus four weeks after conception is a human being, I did not feel I was facing a moral dilemma.

The vast, vast majority of abortions take place in the first trimester. Those that take place in the second trimester are almost always performed because the fetus has a devastating congenital problem. Those decisions are extremely painful for parents and I will not judge them.

Posted by: lby on January 22, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

I think this is right on. It's also worth noting that a similar argument applies to the struggle for the acceptance of homosexuality. Too often people let the argument turn on whether or not gay people have a choice in their sexual orientation. But that is to concede that if they did have a choice, it would be wrong to have same-sex sexual relations. It would not be.

Posted by: Greg on January 22, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

(Two words: Andrea Yates. The one with the pro-life husband who wanted more kids).

So because Mr. Yates was an asshole who didn't care about his wife's mental trauma, I can't advocate for the rights of the unborm. Got it, thanks!

Posted by: Chris on January 22, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

More Politics 101: folks will often dissent from people they agree with on a particular issue, if they decide that they don't want to be associated with "those people".

Abortion famously has two overlapping majorities -- a pro-life majority that recognizes not all abortions are morally equal, which rejects 'abortion on demand' in light of the irresponsible behavior that causes demand for abortion to be quite high; and a pro-choice majority that believes these are decisions to be made by a woman, with perhaps the advice of her doctor and maybe spiritual counsel.

So consider what we've seen in this thread: LB said in the part Kevin quoted "I did not want to be locked into a minimum eighteen-year relationship with someone I'd been dating for a couple of months. I did not want to be responsible forever for someone who didn't exist yet...."

and yet she had sex with the guy, and so obviously the two of 'em WERE responsible for the baby. Nobody else made her pregnant, but this guy... and LB.

So Emerson 'corrects' me about responsibility, asserting "Lizard Breath explained in her post that the guy did turn out to be a good guy, and that she is now raising two children with him. Right guy, wrong time...."

I don't doubt LB said that elsewhere, I was just noting what Kevin quoted. Emerson goes on to show he can't read with his ideological blinders on, arguing LB didn't "hint" at anything.

But she DID say: "I'm not certain that my reasons for not wanting to continue a pregnancy at the time qualify as sufficient to do a wrong thing..."

You can't have it both ways, folks. Either she was ready to have sex and therefore, to accept responsibility for the natural consequence (the aborted baby), or she was not. I take her at her word, and say: not.

If like Emerson you say she was not only responsible enough to have sex, but shazzam! it worked out with the guy, they have two wonderful kids, etc., then you can't dodge that these same two folks killed their first child. (Um... it wasn't a slice of underdone bacon.)

Recognizing reality doesn't necessarily make somebody anti-choice btw; but it does help in recognizing the real moral issues -- and, not incidentally, the actual politics of this mess.

You guys are ferociously unkind, yanno.

Teresa: I used to volunteer at a cerebral palsy center; I spent a year working with Asberger's kids. My mom spent 20 years volunteering with teenaged mothers in an adoption service. I know Down Syndrome kids, etc. Just how much do you think you can teach me?

And byallthingsgodly, doesn't it make your skin crawl to read dbake: "Could someone please explain to me why aborting a five-week-old fetus is a bigger deal ethically or emotionally than eating bacon?"

I just met a baby the other day, born at 23 weeks. Cute little kid with ENORMOUS ears. I know for a fact that there are preemies like that born every day, who couldn't have possibly survived if they had been born that early... say 34 years ago.

It helps to recognize that technology and morals, not to speak of the law, directly conflict on these issues.

And yet debake is only marginally worse than Nolo, who writes: "By this same logic, I should mourn every menstrual period, since each one represents a potential unique baby as well."

No, it doesn't. Where did YOU learn about the birds and bees?

Basic biology -- even with an ectopic pregnancy, and certainly with menses, there is no growing baby. Psst.... virgins have periods, they don't have babies. (You could look it up.)

And of course, Gex gives away the fundamentaly juvenile nature of the pro-choice arguments here: "I take great comfort in the fact that people who speak like this ONLY have sex when they want to make a baby and at no other time."

Riiight.

Emerson put his finger on it, but he doesn't know when he does: Pro-life folks have LEARNED something in the 34 years they have been Constitutionally on the outside; pro-choice folks have not.

Conservatives aren't the cartoon of "Abortion is wrong" + "Don't have sex if you can't raise a kid".

They look at a story like LB's and think: how sad, that she was having sex with a guy she wasn't willing to have a child with.

Isn't that EXACTLY the civic morality we want to teach .... young men?

It doesn't improve her story any to say, well, it has a happy ending: she DID decide the guy was worthy, so they had two more kids.

Kinda tough on the first one, though. There is a reason pro-life folks call these "lifestyle abortions".

Emerson componds his error, claiming that conservatives are "not really comparing the good and bad effects of abortion vs. having a kid; they don't really care about the results."

Not so. For one thing, it's pro-life folks who have spent a ton of money trying to find a post-abortion syndrome, and if you DO go into adoption clinics, or groups of Down Syndrome parents, you tend to find lots more pro-life than pro-choice folks.

These are people who have made a commitment to follow through. When did that become a bad thing?

The moral issue isn't that complex: there are some things that humans cannot control, even though we initiate 'em by our actions. So we are morally responsible for consequences we cannot predict, which is why we need to be more careful about the initial acts that we CAN control.

When did progressives start disrespecting that principle?

For another, it really does help to recognize that abortion is a clash of rights, a contradiction in the proper role of government to protect us all: we're talking about a man and woman who agree to have sex, and the natural result of that act will (in the cases we're talking about; otherwise we'd be talking about outlawing contraception), unless interrupted by the choice of the mother, be a living baby who from the instant of birth, HAS rights.

From what she said, LB's abortion has no moral implications for her... yet she DID say that if it did, she is not at all sure she made the moral choice.

Gee, how convenient.

The folks who have defended here include a guy who thinks a baby has the moral value of a BLT, another who figures that pro-life men never ejaculate except for procreative purposes, not to mention the guy who figures that every ejaculation broadcasts doomed genius, yet another who figures menstruation = pregnancy, a woman who bravely spoke up about how she was once pregnant without knowing who the father could be (TMI, say I), and finally the impressive moral insight that adoption must be evil because one nut managed to adopt a kid he abused.

Contrast the folks who criticized LB in this thread -- mildly, at that: I wondered if she was ready to be having sex, since she wasn't ready to have a child; another noted that T wasn't doing the pro-choice cause much good when she publicly recollected not knowing who the father was, and a couple folks pointed out that pro-life people would be only TOO happy if LB characterized the pro-choice case.

Better her than the bacon guy, but that ain't saying much.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 22, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

If the majority were to be militantly pro-abortion and impose their authoritarian beliefs by making all unwanted preganancies be aborted, I think Chris would change his opinion about legislated remedies regarding reproductive rights. Chris, take your argument to China, where abortion is forced on women by the state.

Thank you for that ringing condemnation of totalitarianism.

Or are you saying that forced abortions is the prefered policy preference of a majority of Chinese?

In fact, it's closer to the U.S. abortion regime: unaccountable elites impose their opinions on a populace which has little or no recourse to changing the law. If I lived there, I'd denounce the regime for requiring abortions, much like I denounce our current regime for allowing abortions that Americans don't want to be allowed.

Posted by: Chris on January 22, 2007 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Matt,

If you think, as Kevin does, that the fetus isn't a sentient human being...But if you do think the fetus is a sentient human being...

there is a 3rd view: that an embryo doesn't start out as sentient but becomes sentient over time. In this view a termination with hours of conception poses little to no moral hazard while at the other end of the spectrum an abortion of a fetus within hours of birth is morally questionable.

Posted by: Edo on January 22, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

No way to square that circle

One reason the culture of rape makes so much noise and has so much confidence in their righteousness is because they think the majority is on their side, which is why they want legislators to impose a 'democratic' ban on abortion. Make abortion mandatory for all pregnancies that do not satisfy the requirements for ideal parenting, and they will change their position and be forced to defend reproductivie rights along with most pro-choice advocates.

Pro-choice protects everyone's right to determine their own reproductive schedule. Pro-choice is against mandatory abortion just as much as they are for abortion on demand under the guidelines established in R v W. If abortion were imposed by the state, the anti-abortion faction would have a legitimate argument. But no one makes the claim they should not be allowed to reproduce and that the state should stop them from reproducing.

I become emotional on this issue because I think authoritarians are imposing their beliefs on others. In China it works the same way, but instead of imposing pregnancy, the state imposes abortion. It is the same imposition on an individual's reproduction rights. Whether that imposition is to make someone have an abortion or to make someone carry a pregnancy, it is the same terrible use of moral authority with state power.

Posted by: Brojo on January 22, 2007 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK
You can't have it both ways, folks. Either she was ready to have sex and therefore, to accept responsibility for the natural consequence (the aborted baby), or she was not. I take her at her word, and say: not.

The "natural consequence" was pregnancy. Terminating the pregnancy by conscious choice is "taking responsibility" for the natural consequence.

One might argue over whether it is a morally proper way to do so based on various value assumptions, but it certainly is not a failure to take responsibility. Failing to take responsibility would be not considering the effects, and (for instance) having the child not through conscious choice to keep and care for it, but simply failure to deal with the issue at all.

It doesn't really help to use "responsibility" as a vehicle to insinuate a particular view of morality into the discussion while evading question of the moral premise.

Not so. For one thing, it's pro-life folks who have spent a ton of money trying to find a post-abortion syndrome

Yes, because they desperately want it to exist since it would validate their worldview. So?

and if you DO go into adoption clinics, or groups of Down Syndrome parents, you tend to find lots more pro-life than pro-choice folks.

I don't know what an "adoption clinic" is, but certainly this doesn't match my experience of adoptive parents, particularly those adopting any but white infants.

For another, it really does help to recognize that abortion is a clash of rights

Whether it is a clash of rights is a legitimately debated proposition; it certainly helps to recognize why some people see it that way, and to realize that those people will not be convinced by arguments premised on positions contrary to the axioms on which they believe it is a clash of rights. But that doesn't mean that that position must be accepted as correct, any more than the need to recognize the same about the other side means their position must be recognized as correct, either.

a contradiction in the proper role of government to protect us all: we're talking about a man and woman who agree to have sex, and the natural result of that act will (in the cases we're talking about; otherwise we'd be talking about outlawing contraception), unless interrupted by the choice of the mother, be a living baby who from the instant of birth, HAS rights.

Actually, the incidence of conception without contraception isn't high enough to even remotely justify this statement; more accurately, pregnancy is one possible consequence of such activity. But even if it does occur, while there is certainly no dispute that rights other than those of the woman are involved once the baby is born, there is no universally accepted clash of rights before that, and no necessary contradiction in the government's supposed "proper role" to "protect us all".


Posted by: cmdicely on January 22, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree.

Fetuses do have a morally ambiguous status, as evidenced in the legal prosecution one would presume ensue if a person ended another's pregnancy without her consent.

I would consider that some form of murder or manslaughter to the unborn child and not just injury to the woman.

Thus, the ambiguity.

By the way, I'm pro-choice.

Sometimes you can't do away with ambiguity, and, in this case, it's always going to be there. There's no clear cut right way to handle this issue, and there are dueling and conflicting values/priorities at stake, that can't be harmonized, but I side with personal choice and freedom, yet only for the woman carrying the child, noone else.

Those who would hammer on others to agree that there is no ambiguity find no favor with me. Choose a side, or stay out of it, but don't ever fool yourself into thinking this is a clear cut issue.

Posted by: Jimm on January 22, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Or are you saying that forced abortions is the prefered policy preference of a majority of Chinese?

No, I am saying that when you prevent a woman from having an abortion with state police powers you are no different than a Chinese Communist who drags a pregnant woman to have an abortion.

Making a woman carry a pregnancy = making a woman have an abortion.

Posted by: Brojo on January 22, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Turn the issue around...how do you feel about a state enforcing a one-child policy, and to the point of compulsory abortion upon pregnancy after the first child?

To me, this is unacceptable for the same reasons that I would not accept state prohibition of abortion - it's not for the state, or anyone else to decide, but ultimately the woman, often with the advice and approval of her partner(s), family, friends, doctors, and associates.

This is why I disagree with men who feel they should have control over the decision if they believe themselves to be the father, and also why I feel there's nothing wrong with providing incentives and what not towards a particular decision by the woman - i.e. trying to minimize abortions in the American case, or trying to minimize pregnancies in the latter case I hypothesized.

Posted by: Jimm on January 22, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK
Fetuses do have a morally ambiguous status, as evidenced in the legal prosecution one would presume ensue if a person ended another's pregnancy without her consent.

I would consider that some form of murder or manslaughter to the unborn child and not just injury to the woman.

And so would the law in some jurisdictions in the US, but not in others; as an example, in California, the unlawful deliberate killing of either a human being or a fetus is murder. (And the language of the law explicitly calls out those two categories.)

Sometimes you can't do away with ambiguity, and, in this case, it's always going to be there.

Maybe, maybe not: its the absence of an agreed consensus definition, and that certainly could change in the future. 200 years from now maybe prohibition of abortion (or, alternatively, abortion itself) will be held as universally reviled as slavery, because everyone will agree on a particular definition of the boundaries of "humanity" and ideas of human rights which will make the issue trivial and obvious to answer.

But that's not where we are today, for sure.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 22, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Here and now.

Posted by: Jimm on January 22, 2007 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Chris: So because Mr. Yates was an asshole who didn't care about his wife's mental trauma, I can't advocate for the rights of the unborm.

I think that you should at least acknowledge that carrying babies to term is not a risk-free alternative.

As to the case for advocating civil rights for the unborn that the government takes active steps to protect, it may be a case where government intervention makes the social problems worse. A civil right should not be based on a contemporary, and probably transient, religious teaching of one sect about when the soul "enters" the body. Governmental non-intervention recognizea the religious diversity in this debate.

Posted by: calibantwo on January 22, 2007 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

I can't advocate for the rights of the unborn.

You can advocate until the cows come home. It is your imposition of beliefs with state power that you have to stifle. Convince with arguments, but do not use the police or majority rule to make individuals obey your subjective morality.

If I believed that cancerous tumors were invested with souls and attempted to coerce people with cancer to not have them cut out, you might think I stepped over the line between my beliefs and people's rights. That is how I feel when you say an embryo is a human being and individuals must be prevented from aborting them.

Posted by: Brojo on January 22, 2007 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist: Either she was ready to have sex and therefore, to accept responsibility for the natural consequence (the aborted baby), or she was not.

I disagree with you there. The obvious third alternative is to use contraceptive pills, with abortion as a last alternative when the antibiotic caused the contraceptive to fail.

Posted by: calibantwo on January 22, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: I mean, Roe is about the most poorly reasoned, well-known, USSC decision I can think of off the top of my head,

How soon we forget Bush v Gore.

Posted by: anandine on January 22, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

I think that you should at least acknowledge that carrying babies to term is not a risk-free alternative.

Not only is it not risk-free, it's far, far more dangerous than abortion.

Posted by: Stefan on January 22, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Making a woman carry a pregnancy = making a woman have an abortion.

Asserting an absurdity does =/= making it so.

Posted by: Chris on January 22, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Having sex 2 months into a relationship is a morally weighty issue. Ending the pregnancy because she didn't like the inconveniences is a morally weighty issue."

It's a wonder you can get out of bed in the morning, what with all that moral weight hanging onto you.

Posted by: brewmn on January 22, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives aren't the cartoon of "Abortion is wrong" + "Don't have sex if you can't raise a kid".

Yes you are. You go on at enormous length, but that's all you have to say.

Next time you talk about a "curious omission", why don't you bother to read what the person wrote?

And my point about Mrs. Yates, besides the fact that her husband was a fanatic right-to-lifer like you, is that childraising can be terribly traumatic for the mother. Chris isn't really talking about the mother's trauma here (the topic of LB's post), he's anti-abortion and anti-sex and that's all.

Are there some people who are ready to have sex, but not ready to raise a child? Yes! You say no, but that's you. What should they do? They should use birth control and, if it doesn't work, have abortions or adopt out (their choice).

Anti-abortion abstinence-only prohibitionists have helped this coutnry have a higher abortion rate than any European country, just as drug prohibitionists have contributed mightily to keeping our addiiction levels high as they are.

As I said, these people don't care what happens. They just want to preach and condemn.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 22, 2007 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

It's a wonder you can get out of bed in the morning, what with all that moral weight hanging onto you.

Not getting much sex probably.

Posted by: Jimm on January 22, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Dice reverts to form: a master at missing the point. (Isn't that a third year class at law school?)

When LB says that there is no moral implication in her abortion, she is saying the OPPOSITE of "I am responsible for what I did". (Good lawyers know when the facts are against 'em -- but then, they can't teach THAT in law school, Dice.)

LB is saying her act had no significance, so she is no more responsible for the effect (the aborted baby) than any other meaningless act in life. She aborted a kid, she got her hair cut, she took the LSATs.

(As philosophy, you could make this into one of those 'butterfly wings in the Amazon' arguments, but it doesn't apply. There are folks who insist that they do, so! believe that abortion is just like lancing a boil -- which would make a baby growing inside the mother into a kind of infection: what's that say about the father, or their relationship?)

But she ALSO says (as Emerson points out) that partly because of this choice, she and the guy have wound up living happily ever after.

Can't have it both ways: either she was responsible enough to have sex, in which case there IS a moral consequence to the abortion, or (as she does) you can say there is no such moral significance to the abortion -- in which case, she wasn't responsible enough to have sex.

Hell, LB herself says that the abortion enabled her to 'take control of her own life'.

Note that she did NOT say: 'Choosing to have sex with this guy is how I took control over my own life.'

So LB is making as purely irresponsible a rationalization as you're likely to find (which is probably why they spend a whole year teaching the technique in law school, right Dice?).

Responsibility is about doing THIS, and accepting THAT for the result. LB wants to believe there was no moral consequence of her literally irresponsible sex with the guy (cuz the pregnancy could have no moral significance, since she claims to feel that the abortion had none), yet she adds that the abortion enabled her to 'take control' of her life.

What motivates a lot of pro-life folks, IME, is that this is one of those issues that obviously humans do NOT have that much control over. When people become pregnant and when they don't is a cosmic roll of the dice, and the ONLY way to ensure that it doesn't happen to you, or to somebody cuz of you, is to abstain.

So that's not the issue.

The moral issue is what happens WHEN you have sex, and the natural result occurs: a baby is coming.

Denying that has moral significance, as LB does, leaves you with her haunted "IF".

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 22, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

I consider myself a liberal but I am also pro-life, in that I oppose war, capital punishment and also abortion. It sounds to me like Lizardbreath found it inconvenient to be pregnant. That is not an acceptable reason to end a human life. She should have been smarter about contraception or given the baby up for adoption. Abortion should never be a form of birth control. That being said, I recognize that a woman should also not be an incubator for a rapist. Nor should a fetus conceived through incest be carried to term. I accept that sometimes the rights of the mother trump the rights of the fetus, which is only common sense.

I think Bill Clinton's construction concerning abortion rights remains the best for liberals to arrticulate - Abortion should be safe, legal and rare.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 22, 2007 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

The world would be a better place if we put more people out of their misery.

Yes! Trolls!

Choice of evils. No jury would convict.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 22, 2007 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

dbake: "Could someone please explain to me why aborting a five-week-old fetus is a bigger deal ethically or emotionally than eating bacon?"

I don't think that helps the pro-choice/anti-government side of the argument. If you need an "explanation" of the differences between humans and pigs, you might belong in a different discussion.


Posted by: calibantwo on January 22, 2007 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

I think that you should at least acknowledge that carrying babies to term is not a risk-free alternative.

Carrying babies to term is not a risk-free alternative.

Abortion is still the unjust termination of a human life.

A civil right should not be based on a contemporary, and probably transient, religious teaching of one sect about when the soul "enters" the body.

Neither should it be based on arbitrary definitions of what is and isn't human life, which is what you get unless you use the biological definition that life begins when a unique human is present after fertilization.

NOTE: I won't get into matters of embryology. There is a certain point when the embryo is self-organized and directs its own development, needing only nutrition and an hospitable environment.

For the record, I have no idea when the soul enters the body. But I still know that an embryo is a human life deserving of our protection, which I knew before I became a Christian.

Posted by: Chris on January 22, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

You can advocate until the cows come home. It is your imposition of beliefs with state power that you have to stifle. Convince with arguments, but do not use the police or majority rule to make individuals obey your subjective morality

If the fetus is a human to which we have obligations, then it is permissible to use political influence to protect it legally. You can't just define away members of humanity and then harm them.

If I believed that cancerous tumors were invested with souls and attempted to coerce people with cancer to not have them cut out, you might think I stepped over the line between my beliefs and people's rights. That is how I feel when you say an embryo is a human being and individuals must be prevented from aborting them.

It is easily demonstrable that cancerous tumors are not humans. It is also easily demonstrable that fetuses are human. You just have to look at science, not at your "feelings."

Did I say ensoulment matters?

Posted by: Chris on January 22, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Can't have it both ways: either she was responsible enough to have sex, in which case there IS a moral consequence to the abortion, or (as she does) you can say there is no such moral significance to the abortion -- in which case, she wasn't responsible enough to have sex.

She took responsibility for having the abortion, but denied that it had the moral weight that you claimed that it did. (Your logic-chopping is silly. You're not a high school debate team, are you?)

Deflater, "inconvenient" is a shitty, insulting word to use. What was at issue was the next 20 years or so of her life and her possibility of having a career. If you call that "convenience" your a sick puppy.

What motivates a lot of pro-life folks, IME, is that this is one of those issues that obviously humans do NOT have that much control over.

Thanks for the confession! Guilty, guilty, guilty! I've been saying for years that anti-abortionists don't WANT women to have control over their lives. A century ago you'd be saying that syphilis is God's punishment for sin, and that syphilitics shouldn't be getting medical treatment because that would contravene God's law.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 22, 2007 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

As somebody you would surely regard as a "pervert," I wish to thank you for pointing out that abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancies. You should give talks at high schools.

Well, sure, abstinence will solve a host of problems, but at what cost? After all, abstaining from driving is the best way to prevent car crashes, but we recognize that driving has certain advantages that we don't want to give up even at the expense of safety, so we continue to drive while trying to ameliorate the potential harm through use of seatbelts, air bags, etc. Same with flying, and drinking, and riding a bike, and playing sports, and walking outside, etc. Every activity carries with it some risk which we could eliminate entirely if we gave up that activity, but those of who want to enjoy life think that's rather an extreme solution.

Similarly, most humans like fucking, and in the real world you're not going to convince most people to give it up. Abstinence "works" only if you're willing to live a constrained, circumscribed life drained of the fun, joy and increased intimacy that sex provides.

Posted by: Stefan on January 22, 2007 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK
How soon we forget Bush v Gore.

Hey, I said about didn't I?

Yeah, Bush v. Gore is certainly worse.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 22, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- Emerson, you're a fool.

For one thing, I'm a political professional with more than a quarter century of experience, ALL with pro-choice candidates.

I'm hardly a 'rabid pro-life, absintence-only' advocate.

It's this caricature of what other folks think that is so deadly: you dunno what's going on. You're woofing at ME -- when somebody posted that a baby has the moral value of a slice of bacon?

"Lifestyle abortions" is a damned serious concept, dude.

"Are there some people who are ready to have sex, but not ready to raise a child? Yes! You say no, but that's you. What should they do? They should use birth control and, if it doesn't work, have abortions or adopt out (their choice)."

What makes you think these folks are "ready to have sex"? Serious question -- I remember Bill Cosby's line, later stolen by Jesse Jackson, that it doesn't make you a man to make a baby, it makes you a man to RAISE one.

What on earth do you mean by "ready"?

"You say no, but that's you."

Why is this about me?

Last I looked, there isn't a major religion, hell, I don't know any MINOR religion, that doesn't preach sexual morality along the lines I've used above: humans do NOT control this stuff.

The single smartest thing ever said about sex, btw, was said by a ... basketball coach, of all people. When Magic Johnson announced he had HIV, some wiseass reporter asked John Thompson if this meant he was going to urge his players to use condoms. This put Thompson (the father, not the current Georgetown coach into a dilemma). He'd worked his whole career to establish himself as a mentor, a father figure for his players, so it was natural that he would be expected to Guide them.

On the other hand, if he'd said yeah, I tell my kids if they can't be good, be careful: he might have been personally fired by the Pope.

So Thompson just whirled around, looming his 6'10" over the reporter, and demanded: "You just TELL me how anything as powerful as sex could possibly ever be 'safe.'"

That's wisdom. Too bad progressives dis it.

The great flaw in the pro-choice argument as morality (never mind as politics), is that it necessarily undercuts the moral responsibility of MEN.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 22, 2007 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

If the fetus is a human to which we have obligations

Okay, let's review:

A fetus isn't a human when:

1. it is [presumably] spontaneously aborted (aka miscarriage).
2. it cannot be carried to term for reasons such as ectopic pregnancy.
3. it is the product of nonconsensual sex, i.e. rape and/or incest (some prolifers debate this point).
4. commitment to its welfare involves expensive or ideologically inconvenient policies such as guaranteed, universal prenatal & postnatal care.


A fetus is human when:

1. the pregnant woman agreed to sex not previously sanctioned by God and/or society, and the pregnancy will therefore be instrumental in reprimanding her.
2. the pregnant woman is using alcohol or controlled substances, or [in some cases] is planning a birth that considers her preferences over institutional recommendations, and she must therefore be held prisoner or otherwise legally restrained from engaging in said unapproved behavior.

Anyone notice a trend-- possibly even a sort of foundational assumption-- in the cases in which fetuses are most commonly considered fully human?

Posted by: latts on January 22, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Well, a political professional who's just been mistaken for a high school debater probably shouldn't brag about it. I'm a fool for making that mistake? You would say that. It was an honest mistake, really!

"Lifestyle abortion": you shits are always making it seem that the women is worried that her hairdo will be ruined or she lose her time at the pool. In LB's case, what was at issue was the next 20 years of her life and her possibility of ever having a career. You can sneer at that if you want, but who cares what you think?

This may shock you, but I'm willing to disagree with Bill Cosby, Bill Clinton, the basketball coach, and various religions in which I do not believe.

At least we've go this down to women having sex, which is what bothers you people.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 22, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK
When LB says that there is no moral implication in her abortion, she is saying the OPPOSITE of "I am responsible for what I did".

Abstractly, that might be a viable argument, but with her particular description of the circumstances, its pretty clear that her use of "moral" is not such that the absence of "moral" content precludes responsibly. In fact, the entire second paragraph Kevin quotes makes this quite clear.

Hell, LB herself says that the abortion enabled her to 'take control of her own life'.

Which certainly suggests that prior to the decision to abort she may not have been acting responsibly, which may be a valid criticism of her behavior.

Can't have it both ways: either she was responsible enough to have sex, in which case there IS a moral consequence to the abortion, or (as she does) you can say there is no such moral significance to the abortion -- in which case, she wasn't responsible enough to have sex.

You are conflating entirely irrelevant things, whether or not she was "responsible enough to have sex" (whatever that means: last I checked, there was no minimum responsibility requirement for that activity) is irrelevant to whether the abortion (an entirely separate activity) has any moral content, either actually or in her opinion. They are, entirely, orthogonal concepts.

What motivates a lot of pro-life folks, IME, is that this is one of those issues that obviously humans do NOT have that much control over.

No, its quite clearly one that they wish certain humans did not have control over, but its actually one which, in fact, humans have quite a bit of control over. Both in avoiding pregnancy, and in terminating it. And, to no small extent, though far less reliably, in deliberately engineering it, even when nature is somewhat disinclined.

The moral issue is what happens WHEN you have sex, and the natural result occurs: a baby is coming.

The idea that "a baby is coming" is the natural result of sex is, well, pretty stupid. It is, of course, one possible outcome of sex.

And, of course, whether there is a "moral" issue of any weight is something about which people disagree quite vehemently. People don't all share the same set of moral first principles.


Posted by: cmdicely on January 22, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

And my point about Mrs. Yates, besides the fact that her husband was a fanatic right-to-lifer like you, is that childraising can be terribly traumatic for the mother. Chris isn't really talking about the mother's trauma here (the topic of LB's post), he's anti-abortion and anti-sex and that's all.

Oh brother. Since sex very logically leads to pregnancy, it's not out of place to say don't do it if you're not ready to accept the children the act naturally leads to. That's called maturity.

Are there some people who are ready to have sex, but not ready to raise a child? Yes! You say no, but that's you.

You say yes, but that's you. Where's your proof?

What should they do? They should use birth control and, if it doesn't work, have abortions or adopt out (their choice).

All very nice and neat, and all assuming that the embryo is not a human life, which we know scientifically is a false assumption.

Anti-abortion abstinence-only prohibitionists have helped this coutnry have a higher abortion rate than any European country

Promiscuity and easy abortion laws have nothing to do with abortion rates. Neither do social isolation or individualist ethos. Nope. It's all the fault of the ones who know that sex leads to pregnancy and want to protect the unborn.

I hear we're also responsible for obesity, the holocaust and the black plague.

They just want to preach and condemn.

Which side are we talking about again?

Posted by: Chris on January 22, 2007 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

The great flaw in the pro-choice argument as morality (never mind as politics), is that it necessarily undercuts the moral responsibility of MEN.

Er, no, it doesn't. Any more than the fact that, say, the family of a victim of a vicious, deliberate attack which leaves the victim dependent on life support may have a legal choice to discontinue life support diminishes the responsibility of the attacker to answer for murder in that case.

That one persons action on which responsibility hinges may occur before and create a protected choice in another party that influences whether and to what degree that responsibility will, in fact, attach does not diminish the first party's responsibility, morally or legally.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 22, 2007 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK
Since sex very logically leads to pregnancy, it's not out of place to say don't do it if you're not ready to accept the children the act naturally leads to.

Whether "pregnancy" is the same thing as "children" is, however, precisely the fundamental moral point of disagreement between many on the "pro-life" side and many on the "pro-choice" side. To many on the pro-choice, sex may "naturally" (if only rarely in the case of protected sex) lead to pregnancy, but pregnancy only leads to children as the result of the choice to continue the pregnancy.

For many on the pro-life side, the existence of pregnancy is the existence of a child.

The failure of those on both sides to acknowledge the other sides belief, and the pretense that the other side agrees with them on their view of this issue and must therefore have some other bizarre belief justifying their policy position is one of the most common cases of "talking past eachother" on the abortion issue.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 22, 2007 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK
It is easily demonstrable that cancerous tumors are not humans. It is also easily demonstrable that fetuses are human.

But these are not the same things. Cancerous tumors (in humans, at least) are human, though not humans. It is not "easily demonstrable" that fetuses are humans in any morally meaningful sense; its a disputed matter of fundamental first principles.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 22, 2007 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Neither should it be based on arbitrary definitions of what is and isn't human life, which is what you get unless you use the biological definition that life begins when a unique human is present after fertilization.

That is a very poor "biological definition of life" because (1) it is a continuation of life, not a beginning and (2) about a third of such "beginnings" naturally end in stillbirths and miscarriages. Then there's the occasional PKU or anencephaly, heart defects and infections that snuff out the lives of the newborn.

Defining the beginning of life as the fertilization of the ovum is as arbitrary as defining it as the attainment of two years of age post-partum, or the formation of the neuromuscular junctions, or the formation of synapses in the pre-frontal cortex, or the first steps or first spoken words. For civil rights, a completely unobserved and unobservable (in most cases) event would be the worst choice.

What does being a Christian have to do with this? Christ spoke not a word on the topic. I like "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone".

Posted by: calibantwo on January 22, 2007 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK
That is a very poor "biological definition of life" because (1) it is a continuation of life, not a beginning and (2) about a third of such "beginnings" naturally end in stillbirths and miscarriages.

(1) is a valid objection,
(2) is not so much.

For instance, an analog of (2) could be raised against birth as the beginning point even more strongly: 100% of such "beginnings" naturally end in deaths.

So, what?

The fact that, after a particular beginning point, "humans" (as defined by that definition) frequently die is hardly a good argument against using that as a beginning point.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 22, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Oh brother. Since sex very logically leads to pregnancy, it's not out of place to say don't do it if you're not ready to accept the children the act naturally leads to. That's called maturity.

Well, no. Since you can quite easily terminate that pregnancy with an abortion, then having children is not necessarily a result of sex. Pregnancy may be a result, but childbirth is merely a probably though not inevitable consequence of pregnancy. Children may result from sex, but they don't have to, as the pregnant woman can simply decide not to have them.

Posted by: Stefan on January 22, 2007 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

You're swinging wildly Chris. Your side is the preach and condemn side. Are you dense?

Two issues: is a fetus a child? Should people have sex if they don't want a child? We disagree on both.

On the second one, as far as I'm concerned the burden of proof is on you. You firmly believe what you believe, but many or most people disagree. No one is forcing you to have sex without the intention of having a child, but no one except your wife your minor children has any reason to care what you think about this. (But it IS your fundamental anti-abortion argument, I'm convinced, and not concern for the fetus.) So you go your way and we'll go ours.

The facts are what I said, Chris. You people are making all this noise about abortion, and you've helped keep abortion rates high.

And I'll tell you another thing. I'm not a scuzzy guy, but I know plenty of them, and at least three of them cruise churches and keep an eye out for nice Christian girls because they're easy to fool. One of the TV preachers just found out that the sexual morality of evangelical Christians (save it for marriage people like you) is almost exactly the same as the rest of the population. Your way doesn't work, even with people who believe it.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 22, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Abortion is a hard choice. This diary presents the perfect example of why it ALWAYS SHOULD BE LEGAL. We do NOT need a huge number of mothers who have children that they cannot afford, cannot care for and cannot take care of without the father.

I strongly support this woman and her abortion. I would have done the same.

Posted by: POed Lib on January 22, 2007 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

I have a simple definition:

It's a human life if the mother considers it a baby. Otherwise, it's a tumor, and can be removed.

Posted by: POed Lib on January 22, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

The point is, I think, that it is a personal choice which the mother makes in the context of her moral understandings at that point in her life.

It seems to me also that we need to find a way to talk about the born but unwanted children who end up neglected, abused or exploited--or putting it another way to let mothers decide when their child will have the essential support, love and opportunity that every mother hopes for her childeren.

Posted by: BroD on January 22, 2007 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

The point is, I think, that it is a personal choice which the mother makes in the context of her moral understandings at that point in her life.

There are people like you and I who believe that morality is defined by choices. Some choices are easy, some are hard. Abortion is a choice. You have two situation: life with baby and life without. Lizardbreath presented about 12 reasons why life with baby was a bad idea, and no reasons in favor of life with baby. Lizardbreath was behaving rationally and sensibly.

Other people want to cram their little fascist idea of morality down our throat, so that they make the choices for everyone else. This fascist totalitarian morality was clearly described in The Handmaid's Tale.

I am opposed to religious fascist ideas. If my situation requires an abortion (I am male), that is personal business, not the business of some morality nazi priest or politician.

Posted by: POed Lib on January 22, 2007 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

For the record, I have no idea when the soul enters the body. But I still know that an embryo is a human life deserving of our protection, which I knew before I became a Christian.

Come on, Chris. Ensoulment is everything. Without that, the anti-choicers don't have a case. Your saying a fetus is a human life but one without a soul raises all sorts of messy questions anti-coicers really don't want to confront.

Jews (I'm told) believe that we get our souls at birth, not before. So fetuses have so special status. And we Christians have been all over the place on the question -- for a thousand years, the Church took the view of St. Ambrose that "quickening" meant the fetus had been ensouled and was henceforth human.

To claim on theological grounds that something with a primitive level of biochemistry, lacking an interest in being alive or even mere sentience, deserves civil rights and has claims that compete with the mother's claims is utter crap.

Posted by: Auto on January 22, 2007 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Since sex very logically leads to pregnancy, it's not out of place to say don't do it if you're not ready to accept the children the act naturally leads to.

A truly moronic argument. There is no certain relation between sex and pregnancy. There is a contra-relationship, in which no sex leads to no pregnancy, but that is an invalid logical argument.

If sex must result in pregnancy, that means that sex is not allowed unless you are trying to become pregnant. Any woman in menopause is then barred from sex. If you don't want pregnancy, you don't get to have sex.

Morons.

Posted by: POed Lib on January 22, 2007 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- golly, you guys are so... sophisticated.

Plain English being lost on you (particularly Dice, whose logic indicates clearly that he wears his underwear on the wrong side), here is the clarity of it: So far in this thread, we've had babies compared to bacon (unfavorably), a boil, cancer, syphilis, and finally, a cancer.

And all by folks who DEFEND the choice LB made... which even SHE is ambivalent about.

QED.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 22, 2007 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist, we disagree with you about lots of things. They seems obvious to you, but we just plain disagree. No one is forcing you to have sex in a context that seems wrong to you. You go your way, we'll go ours.

LB is a lawyer and she laid the arguments out in detail because her mind works that way. Her main point, though, was that she did not feel the anguish or guilt which these nice people here wanted her to feel. You invented her ambivalence (as well as her "curious omission").

Posted by: John Emerson on January 22, 2007 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK
Plain English being lost on you (particularly Dice, whose logic indicates clearly that he wears his underwear on the wrong side), here is the clarity of it: So far in this thread, we've had babies compared to bacon (unfavorably), a boil, cancer, syphilis, and finally, a cancer.

Okay, so you've demonstrated you don't understand analogies. Got it.

And all by folks who DEFEND the choice LB made... which even SHE is ambivalent about.

Er, no. She doesn't say she's ambivalent about it. She indicates that she would be ambivalent about it if she accepted the moral framing other people put on abortion decisions, not that she is in fact ambivalent about it given her own actual perspective. In fact, she makes it quite clear that she is not ambivalent at all.

Perhaps you shouldn't talk about anyone else missing the point.

There is nothing quite like your combination of arrogance and idiocy.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 22, 2007 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

There is nothing quite like your combination of arrogance and idiocy.

Oh, I don't know about "nothing quite." That particular combination is on ample display throughout the breadth and (lack of) depth of conservatism.

Posted by: Stefan on January 22, 2007 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

What are more sentient? 1 day old infants or test-study chimpanzees? According to Drum et al.'s inanity, it would be fine as a legal matter to test unto death a 1 day old infant if we determine they are less sentient than a 4 year old chimpanzee. And I understand that once a child is born the dynamics change, but to base any argument on the non-sentience or non-life of the fetus us absurd. I'll buy into the "self-defense" rationale as a legal matter; whether a particular abortion is ethical really depends -- rape, sure; etc. But drunken whores (male and female) should feel guilty for having or encouraging an abortion . . . THEY CREATED A BABY AND THEY KILLED A BABY; A BABY WHO IS AS SENTIENT AS ANY OF US WITH THOUGHTS, RATIONALITY, EMOTIONS, ETC. It probably feels like dreaming in the womb; and what's better than dreaming? And, sentience debates aside, you can be sure, we are all more DESERVING OF TERMINATION than any fetus, especially most abortion-choosers.

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on January 22, 2007 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

And goddamn it all to hell, interesting's mother failed to abort too! I bet she bitterly regrets it, though.

Some of us here are illegitimate, and if our parents had chosen to follow God's law, we wouldn't exist either. So screw God.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 22, 2007 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone who has posted comments here has one thing in common: their mothers chose not to terminate their pregnancies. I'm assuming everyone who has posted is also happy to exist, and is glad that they have the opportunity to comment on a controversial topic. Those children who have ceased to be would no doubt have appreciated similar opportunities. But we'll never really know, and neither will they.

Well, if I never existed it wouldn't really bother me, now would it? After all, neither I nor anyone else here existed for several billion years before the 20th century, but I don't exactly view those billions and billions, as Carl Sagan would say, of years of non-existence as a gaping hole in what might have been....

And by the way, how many babies have you had? If you're a woman and you haven't had well over a dozen, and probably at least twenty, aren't you depriving those potential children you might have had and who would no doubt have appreciated the opportunity to exist?

Posted by: Stefan on January 22, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Amazing the number of commenters, never mind the original poster, who act as if adoption doesn't even exist as an option.

Posted by: harry on January 22, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

ESPECIALLY YOU, TOH!! AVOID ALL-CAPS!!!!!!

Posted by: John Emerson on January 22, 2007 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

We're aware of the adoption aption, but we don't favor it the way you do because we disagree with you about lots of things. But be amazed if you want to.

LB did discuss adoption on a different site. She didn't want to carry a baby for nine months and she felt bad about having a baby out there unknown to her.

Shits who pretend to feel bad about the trauma of women who abort don't care a bit about the trauma of women who give up for adoption, which can be extremely intense. They're liars and fakes -- they'll make any argument that seems convenient, but it boils down to "Abortion is wrong" + "Women shouldn't ever have sex if they don't want a baby".

Posted by: John Emerson on January 22, 2007 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Remind me again: when and how did putting a baby up for adoption cease to be an option in America?

Hear, hear!

When I (middle class person) was growing up I had lots of friends who were adopted. My (middle class) kids don't have a single adopted friend.

Lots of babies are available for adoption these days, but many parents who want to be assured of having a child without handicaps feel they must use a surrogate or adopt from overseas.

I don't feel it's moral for me to condemn someone who's had an abortion, but I know many folks who would have liked to adopt the "unwanted" child of a college student who had no history of drug use.

Posted by: G. Jones on January 22, 2007 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: For instance, an analog of (2) could be raised against birth as the beginning point even more strongly: 100% of such "beginnings" naturally end in deaths.

It is analogous, but like all analogies it differs in some important details. That said, I agree that (2) is not so persuasive as (1). Another problem with defining fertilization as the beginning of civil rights is that it conveys a civil right to the placenta, which makes no sense at all. If you want an important achievement on the continuum of life to mark the beginning of civil rights, then separation from the placenta seems to me to be the most clear-cut. At least then the baby can be supported by people other than the mother.

(1) has the problem that it applies to any criterion for assessing when the embryo/child acquires the civil right.

Posted by: calibantwo on January 22, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

It's a personal decision that a woman has the right to make. Sorry, guys.
Plain and simple. Our bodies, ourselves.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 22, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Abortion is sometimes a hard choice - if you want the baby, but find out it's going to have severe deformities and/or disabilities; if you want the baby, but find out that carrying it is likely to kill you or injure you permanently; if you want the baby, but your circumstances change for the worse (you lose your partner, or your livelihood).

The key phrase here is "if you want a baby but..."

Abortion is not a hard choice at all if you know ahead of time that you don't want to be pregnant and don't want a baby at all.

I've had two abortions, about 10 years apart, both the result of birth control failure. There was never any question in my mind what to do, nor any heartburning or soul-searching about it. Not then and never since.

Posted by: CaseyL on January 22, 2007 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

The real tragedy is not that embryos are beng destroyed, but that if abortion is outlawed, which seems to be a real possibility, women will still want and receive abortions. The abortions will not be antiseptic and some will not even be scientific medical prodedures, but procedures based on expediency and exploitation. Many women will die or become genitally disfigured. Many women will be sexually abused, or worse. All this is well known and expected when women have to resort to the black market to excersie their reproductive rights. In many ways the women in China who attempt to have a third child will also have to give birth in an antiseptic environment without the help of a professional medical practitioner and risk abuse in their time of vulnerability.

Vulnerability allows for abuse and some people cannot help themselves from exploiting those in such situations. I think it was the DW Griffith movie "Way Down East" that brought attention to the vulnerability between a woman with an unwanted child from a romantic tryst, though deceitful from the man's point of view. The scheming cad, who would not marry her because of her class, still wanted her as a mistress an hounded her throughout the film. Despite almost a hundred years time, these types of stories are still played out in America and the rest of the world. When people talk about the culture of rape, this is a big part of what they mean. Young women trapped with child at the mercy of fathers, abusive husbands, Svengali's, pimps, priests. Yet those adamantly anti-legal-abortion, despite their moralizing about the sanctity of life, seem to care not about the fate of women who will defy their morality.

People who defy the conventional moral authority are comdemned. Only conformity and penance can save them. Confromity to the moral codes set about by the mobilized mob, who decide to limit the freedoms of others for picayune, Medieval reasons brought to their attention by moralizing priests, who will insist upon the wayward women's self-abasement.

Posted by: Brojo on January 22, 2007 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone who has posted comments here has one thing in common: their mothers chose not to terminate their pregnancies.

Nope, but my parents would have been happier in many ways had I never existed; I'm only here because their first pregnancy ended in stillbirth at 7.5 months, and I was conceived mere days after the original due date. Oddly, I'm not so self-absorbed that I can't understand why they would have, given a choice in advance, preferred a happier outcome with the first pregnancy instead of having to go through that suffering before getting me instead. FTR, they never thought of the first baby in terms of a loss of a person so much as a loss to them, which is pretty much the case for pregnancy losses in general. And they seemed to like the three live kids they did have pretty well.

Remind me again: when and how did putting a baby up for adoption cease to be an option in America?

My goodness, all the clever debaters are coming out, aren't they? Okay, very slowly: abortion is first and foremost a means of ending a pregnancy-- y'know, the months of medical care, discomfort, potential health risks, complete disruption of one's work, etc., capped off with a rather grueling event to get the fetus out, and another couple of months' recovery on top of it all-- with declining parental responsibility only a provisional part of the equation. After all, even wanted pregnancies don't always end in live births, as I noted above, so the decision whether to attempt to carry to term or not has a set of considerations all its own... the decision to keep or adopt only can be made after the decision to carry to term.

Thanks for playing, guys... next group, please.

Posted by: latts on January 22, 2007 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

NOTE: I won't get into matters of embryology.

This is tantamount to saying "We can talk about Iraq, but I won't get into matters related to the war." And I was called juvenile by this guy.

Posted by: gex on January 22, 2007 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

The great flaw in the pro-choice argument as morality (never mind as politics), is that it necessarily undercuts the moral responsibility of MEN.

That happened before Roe v Wade. The fact of the matter is the guy always has a choice, even as some in this country want to reduce the choices for women. Guys can bail. They can refuse to be fathers and simply send checks. There isn't anything we can do to MAKE a guy live with the consequences of the act. But we're darned well trying to do that to women.

Both abortion and adoption would weigh heavily on a mother either way. And from the mother's point of view only, I think adoption would haunt a woman forever, where an abortion would not. There's no real "win" in those choices. And I'm not sure if there's a "win" in having a baby that you can't provide for or has an unwilling father.

Posted by: gex on January 22, 2007 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

Women cannot have equal rights with men without governing their own bodies.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 22, 2007 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone who has posted comments here has one thing in common: their mothers chose not to terminate their pregnancies.

Lisa, the child adoption lawyer Joel Steinberg beat to death over several years after the birth mother sold her to him for $500, is also unable to comment at Political Animal. Unfortunately for Lisa, she was born. She was born into a hell few commenters here will ever experience.

Posted by: Brojo on January 22, 2007 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

I'm assuming everyone who has posted is also happy to exist, and is glad that they have the opportunity to comment on a controversial topic.

Quit assuming things. This really doesn't apply to everyone, particulary a gay person like me who is frequently depressed to the point of feeling suicidal. But, like so many others on your side, what you feel to be true, must be true for everyone.

Posted by: gex on January 22, 2007 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

If women are unable to decide our futures, we have an inferior position in society.
As such, we reserve the right to choose.
Our reproductive rights can at times be matters of life and death, not merely a matter of choice.
Any restriction puts our lives-- and our freedom-- at risk.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 22, 2007 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Brojo,

I agree with you about the present debate here in the US (as you noted, there is also China's One Child Policy) but we do have a bit of older American tragedy much like forced abortion in forced sterilization. Remember Buck vs. Bell".

Posted by: anon on January 22, 2007 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

I have no more qualms about an early-term abortion than I do about using the pill. They are exactly the same, except one is more physically difficult.

An early fetus is no more "life" than an egg, a skin cell, or a tadpole. I realize many people don't share this (scientifically based) ontology, but for those who do share it, the issue is no more freighted than any decision one makes that can seriously affect the rest of your life. Which is to say, if having a baby now is not a good idea, use birth control and abort anything that gets past that. Not a tough call.

Posted by: Abd on January 22, 2007 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Gex, I'm the one who noted you're a juvenile. Grown ups strive to notice that each individual person is distinct, even posting 'round here. You might consider taking up the insight therein.

Likewise, Dice is downright blithering (even for him): unlike, say, lawyers, writers do analogies for a living. WHICH analogies are consistently chosen to illustrate a particular point, are telling.

Often unintentionally.

And even the way you clowns use analogies is downright stooopid. I forget who posted (but it was probably Emerson, he's dumb enough) that pointing out that not all abortions are morally equal, indicates that somebody would have claimed that syphilis was God's punishment on the promiscuous, before antibiotics.

(N.B. -- this is the mark of an amateur, btw. A better and more recent example of the same bullshit argument would be to claim that somebody might link AIDS and promiscuity: if you're gonna go THERE, Emerson, do it right. Have a sense of craft, man.)

If you're gonna work an analogy, learn how: as a matter of morals, syphilis is simply a disease. It is in itself neither moral nor immoral. It's like gravity -- but it's still dumb to dance on the 9th floor ledge, dude.

Since syphilis is contracted through sexual contact, the manner of its transmission may be moral, immoral, or neutral. So not all cases of syphilis, contracted in various ways, are morally equal, even though the disease itself is simply a disease. That is, a guy who contracts syphilis because he exploits prostitutes is not morally equivalent to his (let us say) faithful and virtuous wife, to whom he transmits the disease.

Going too fast for you, Emerson? Cuz this is the part where it gets, ya know... deep.

A baby... is not a disease. So the analogy does not apply in the essential.

But in the point you thought you were refuting, you actually MADE my argument -- just as the acts which might result in contracting syphilis are not morally equal, so too, not the acts which result in a baby are not morally equal.

A rape, as everybody knows, is not merely immoral, it is an atrocity and a crime. It can produce a baby. The moral argument against all abortion is deeply eroded when in THESE cases, pro-life folks admit that a mother who is raped ought not to be forced to give birth to her rapists child.

Anybody disagree? That the pure pro-life argument basically says to a rape victim: tough!

Just so.

Because that is true, it is ALSO true that the pro-choice position is eroded when folks recognize that a 'lifestyle abortion' is not morally equivalent to, as LB put it, the woman who would be put out on the street to starve UNLESS she aborted the baby. (LB's own example: this is how you pay attention, Emerson. Strive to emulate the practice. When somebody who makes an example like that goes on to say IF she thought it was wrong, she would also think she had done wrong: get a fucking clue.)

So if the pro-life position is eroded by a rape victim (cuz all abortions are not morally equal), so (because all abortions are not morally equal), the pro-choice position is eroded by the moral responsibility of the mother AND the father for the consequence of their action: the baby.

See how it works, Dice? For those of us who are not trained to miss the point, applying the same principles to both sides of an either/or can be helpful.

You can argue, as a few of you try rather incompetently to do, that it doesn't actually matter WHY a mother chooses to abort her child (the father no longer matters), it is HER choice, QED.

But to DO that, to make that argument, you consistently choose the most literally inhuman images imaginable: everything from bacon to a tumor. It's as if having done nothing for which she is responsible first, a mother suddenly has a BLT growing inside her, unaccountably.

Try it this way: use POSITIVE analogies for the baby. Explain how, because the baby was not morally significant for LB, her abortion isn't like cutting out a tumor... but like cutting out her liver.

Half of the DNA, btw, coming from the father.

Or how this is a choice that only women can make, since only women carry babies through pregnancy and only women give birth, so therefore only women can make the choice... and, naturally (to illustrate how an AFFIRMATIVE analogy works), a man can obviously choose not to support his child. After all, the woman has made a choice in which he is not involved at all, no more than she was... the original act having no moral significance, after all.

Her decision to abort his child (against which he has no claim), OR her decision to bear the baby (for whom she thus imposes a financial obligation on him to -- how did LB put it, 'have a relationship for at least 18 years'?), is precisely the same as the right some women acquire, without any predicting and despite precautions, to a man's kidney, once they have had sex even once.

Use affirmative analogies -- and see how much you like your argument without the MUTUAL responsibility that is the essence of it.


Posted by: theAmericanist on January 22, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

I also like the argument that everyone here supporting abortion wouldn't be here if our parents had aborted us. Heck, we wouldn't be here if they had used birth control either. Down with birth control! And we wouldn't be here if they had had anal sex that night instead. Down with anal sex! And we wouldn't be here if they hadn't had sex that night. Down with moments spent in activities other than sex! And we wouldn't be here if a butterfly had flapped its wings in Brazil, causing by an elaborate chain of effects Mom not to feel like it that night. Down with butterflies!

Posted by: abd on January 22, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a human being versus not human being argument for you: http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZDk5ZTE4MjBiMDFmZjc0M2EyNjE0MDc2ZjA4YmRmN2U=

Posted by: gex on January 22, 2007 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

Although a fertilized egg has the potential for life, it does not always lead to such. Besides non-implantation there is also natural abortion. Even a healthy fetus can self-abort, let alone a deformed one. So any fetus that comes to term might, by some mischance, never have been born.

If right-to-lifers fought as hard for the end to the death penalty, it would be long gone. But where there has been proven state-sponsored murder of innocent and functioning adults through misapplied, not to say prejudiced applied "justice", It concerns them not one bit.

Given the contradictions not to say hypocrisy, for an extreme minority to feel that they should impose their "morality" and their choice on others when they can never appreciate all the facts, and where state imposed safeguards are at least in the debatable sphere of controlled application of abortion, and bearing in mind the occurence of illegal abortions, and all their tragic results, here and elsewhere in the world, most particularly when illegal, I believe that, in moral and religious terms, people should look to themselves rather than worry about others.

After all, the only time Jesus imposed his will on others was in the temple on the money changers.

'nuf said.

Posted by: notthere on January 22, 2007 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

I am watching the replay of the Steelers with Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, and Terry Bradshaw, Jack Ham, Number 59, from 1979 against Dallas, and Joe Greene just caused the fumble...I am a man's girl. My husband says I am the perfect wife.
I just want to reinforce womens' reproductive rights. I can't help myself.
Great games this past weekend. Go Bears

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 22, 2007 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

I've had five abortions and I thank God every day for each and every one of them. The idea that abortion is a decision which causes emotional distress is the biggest bunch of hooey every propagated by people who have no idea what they're talking about.

How about all those embryos destroyed to make Christian snowflake babies? You don't hear much wailing and moaning about that.

Pro-lifers care only about pre-born organisms. Otherwise they are typically enthusiastic supporters of death and destruction. Which means it's not about "life" at all, it's about the power of women to make the intimate decisions in their lives, as opposed to some jerk down the street (or in the government or elsewhere) deciding when and whether I should have a baby, as opposed to me deciding. If men got pregnant they would make sure they could get abortions from vending machines.

As for sex being a choice that's another old chestnut that's nothing but hooey. First of all some astounding percent of American women, like 87% or so, say they have been the victim of sexual assault at some time in their lives. And second sex is like food or for some alcohol or drugs but even more so than those examples--it's a powerful drive, not like choosing which TV show to watch.

Posted by: Amelia on January 22, 2007 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist, if you used fewer words, people would read them. You do have a high opinion of yourself -- where did you get it?

You used the term "lifestyle abortion". Like the term "convenience abortion", this makes it seem that LB had an abortion because it would interfere with her fun, mess up her tanning schedule, etc. But what was at stake was 20 years of her life, and whether she would have a career or not. You can call that "lifestyle" or "convenience", but that's a hostile misrepresentation which tells us a lot about you.

Where'd the shit about the kidney come from? You're raving and talking to the wall, dude.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 22, 2007 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

When she was about 78, my great-aunt, a devout Christian, once said to me out of the blue, "I think abortion is terrible, but I wish people would mind their own business."

Pretty much says it all, to me.

Posted by: mezon on January 22, 2007 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

"It's a personal decision that a woman has the right to make. Sorry, guys.
Plain and simple. Our bodies, ourselves.

Posted by: consider wisely always"

And since it is only the woman's choice, it's only her responsibility, right? If there are no moral or ethical dimensions to the decision beyond what the woman wants, there's no logical reason why any man should be morally or ethically obligated to support that child. One person can't make a decision soley for themselves which infringes of the "rights" of another person. "Our bodies, ourselves, our responsibility".

By the way, is there a single pro-choicer out there who made up their mind on abortion by FIRST studying the biological facts and theological and philosophical arguments and THEN deciding that the fetus isn't a human being, so abortion should be legal? Or is the reality that pro-choicers FIRST decide they want abortion to be legal, THEN they look for reasons why the fetus can't be a human being?

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 22, 2007 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

MBunge --

A fertilized egg, an embryo and a foetus are potential human beings, but in the early stages it is impossible to know whether they will continue to be viable.

You might not be able to get your mind around this one, but in the UK they recently decided that for children born at less than six months, given the present knowledge and without necessary facilies and personnel available (essentially teaching hospitals), and then only only by the decision of qualified doctors, resources would not be designated to sustain life.

Murder?

Get off your high horse.

Posted by: notthere on January 22, 2007 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

"facilies" = facilities.

You know, WHY do we need theological arguments? And whose theology? And why should one if you don't feel religious?

You've got to remember that part of your group includes creationists, rapture believers and the rest of the hobgoblin end of religionists.

Yeah, but because they're nuts doesn't make you a nut, I know.

Anyway, what you are talking ablout is the debate that goes on in society. An individual, as far as I know, can keep their own council.

So far, anyway.

Posted by: notthere on January 22, 2007 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

And since it is only the woman's choice, it's only her responsibility, right? If there are no moral or ethical dimensions to the decision beyond what the woman wants, there's no logical reason why any man should be morally or ethically obligated to support that child. One person can't make a decision soley for themselves which infringes of the "rights" of another person. "Our bodies, ourselves, our responsibility".

Morality fascist.

Take your sanctimonious crap and stick it up your ass.

Posted by: dataguy on January 22, 2007 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

MBunge --

Oh, yeah. I forgot.

When the guy decides to have a uterus implant and carry the child to term, then he can call it his own. If there is a relationship between the two people then I would hope there might be a discussion. If the woman goes ahead with an abortion, presumably the two involved will amke their own adjustment.

They really don't need you to butt in.

Posted by: notthere on January 22, 2007 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

"MBunge --

A fertilized egg, an embryo and a foetus are potential human beings, but in the early stages it is impossible to know whether they will continue to be viable.

You might not be able to get your mind around this one, but in the UK they recently decided that for children born at less than six months, given the present knowledge and without necessary facilies and personnel available (essentially teaching hospitals), and then only only by the decision of qualified doctors, resources would not be designated to sustain life.

Murder?"

Not taking action to sustain life is a totally different matter than actively taking action to end life. They're both serious issues, but they have little or nothing to do with each other. Not giving a starving man food because you need it for yourself and your family is different from killing a man to take his food for you and your family.

So, what biological, theological and philosophical texts did you consult when deciding if the fetus is a human being or some stage of human development? Or did you decide you wanted abortion to be legal and reasoned BACKWARD from that desired conclusion?

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 22, 2007 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Morality fascist.

Take your sanctimonious crap and stick it up your ass.


Posted by: dataguy"

Here's a tip. Insulting people without actually disproving their point is one of the habits that has left pro-choicers losing political debates to pro-lifers for years now.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 22, 2007 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Pro-lifers,

No matter how you cut it, It's still balony. You want to legilate your morality. Your justification is based on specific interpretations of specific texts. It has nothing to do with science, obviously. And, It is not even based on a generally accepted axiom of even a majority of moral systems. In the final analysis, you're simply bigots.

Posted by: joe on January 22, 2007 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone who has posted comments here has one thing in common: their mothers chose not to terminate their pregnancies.

No, my mother didn't have a choice. She was poor, Roe v. Wade didn't exist, and my biological father was an overbearing asshat who subverted her, thinking women were created for men. Hell, the prick wouldn't let her have a telephone until I nearly died as an infant from an allergic reaction.

I'm assuming everyone who has posted is also happy to exist...

I would exist whether my mother aborted me or not (if she could have) and I will exist after the death of my body. My body is an extension of my soul and not a container for my soul. Of course, I am speaking of my personal faith.

I respect LizardBreath's decision and support a woman's right to choose.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 22, 2007 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

"When the guy decides to have a uterus implant and carry the child to term, then he can call it his own. If there is a relationship between the two people then I would hope there might be a discussion. If the woman goes ahead with an abortion, presumably the two involved will amke their own adjustment.

They really don't need you to butt in.


Posted by: notthere"

Again, if there's no moral or ethical element in deciding to carry a baby to term or abort it, what is the moral and ethical reason a man should be required to support the child a woman decides to birth? If it's ONLY her choice and that choice is ONLY defined by her desires, how can HER choice and HER desires morally or ethically obligate another person to do anything.

If it's just a matter of the woman saying "I want the child", what right does she have to say "I want the child and he has to pay for it"?

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 22, 2007 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

"No matter how you cut it, It's still balony. You want to legilate your morality. Your justification is based on specific interpretations of specific texts. It has nothing to do with science, obviously. And, It is not even based on a generally accepted axiom of even a majority of moral systems. In the final analysis, you're simply bigots.

Posted by: joe"

So not wanting to commit murder and feeling an obligation to prevent others from committing murder is...bigotry? That kind of lazy thinking is another reason pro-choicers have been losing the political debate to pro-lifers.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 22, 2007 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

...reasoned BACKWARD from that desired conclusion?

Mike

Posted by: MBunge

Exactly. By definition the Christian right (who form the core of the "right-to-life" anti-abortion on any grounds movement) have taken their own interpretation of the their theocracy, termed life as sacred and starting at fertilization by definition (although viability does not) and tried to impose their conclusion on everyone else.

And you would see it how?...

Posted by: notthere on January 23, 2007 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

..."I want the child and he has to pay for it"?

Mike

Posted by: MBunge

What many men and women think is that the guy is paying to bring up the child. The best SOCIAL choice is that father and mother should share in bringing up the child and, in this society, that means making a monetary contribution even if the father doesn't want to contribute in any other way. Although there are exceptions, if one of the pair tries to walk away from his responsibilities it is usually the man.

The SOCIAL decision so far is that outside of wedlock (not necessarily a religious institution although some churchpeople wish to talk as if they own it) there is no contract between the man and woman, it is left to the woman to decide what is best for her and the embryo.

There are moral and ethical questions underlying all behavior, but the hair on the back of my neck goes up when theological argument is brought in. Differnet theologies use different arguments that allow all types of behavior not acceptable within our society. Polygamy is just the tip of that iceberg.

Theology in itself is not a good reason for anything.

And where do you stand on the death penalty? Just wondering.

Posted by: notthere on January 23, 2007 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

"Here's a tip. Insulting people without actually disproving their point is one of the habits that has left pro-choicers losing political debates to pro-lifers for years now."

We haven't been, though. You guys have got control of the Republican Party with your bullet votes, and as long as they were in power you had "won", except that they scammed your asses and gave you nothing real. But you never convinced the Americna people, and the Republicans are losing power. You guys are finished.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 23, 2007 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

I doubt anyone will read this. I just wanted to say that it's too bad that by linking over to such a candid account of abortion, Kevin ended up sicking his craziest trolls on Unfogged. *shakes head*

Posted by: Caitlin on January 23, 2007 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK

"Early and mid ... early and mid"
Sad to say it is not gonna happen. The reason is that, while reasonable people can agree that blastocysts are't human beings and that 9 month fetuses are, there is no natural place to draw the line nor any way to find out when a fetus becomes sentient.

There will always be moral dilemma. I have no problem with the claim that embryos (up to 2 months gestational) aren't human beings nor even that early term fetuses (up to 3 months gestational) aren't human beings.

The current standard is based on the development of the lungs. That can't be the morally critical organ can it ? There will always be a dilemma.

Now I think I can honestly assure almost all women who have had abortions that I personally am sure that they haven't done anything more morally charged than I do when I use a condom.

But not all.

Good thing no sensible person cares what I think.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on January 23, 2007 at 5:14 AM | PERMALINK

MBunge

Your assertion that abortion is murder is narrow ideological bigotry that has been used as a justification for vandalism, assault, and murder. The idea that life with an inherent right to full human rights begins at conception is an opinion that is not backed up by fact and only supported by a very specific interpretation of religious texts.

If it quacks like a duck…

Posted by: joe on January 23, 2007 at 7:52 AM | PERMALINK

Emerson, it'd help if you caught a clue, now and again.

My first post was pretty brief. I pointed out that if LB wasn't ready to have a child, it is reasonable to conclude she wasn't ready to be having sex.

You never really engaged that observation, except to insist that she was, so, "ready" in an utterly amoral sense (which applies to ephebophilia, even pedophilia in some cases), and therefore her sexual activity is nobody's biz. (Do you apply that standard to underage sex?)

And again, you prove my point in attempting to refute it: a "lifestyle" is precisely what you described -- the 20 years of her life she devoted to her career, etc. Since she said herself that aborting her first child is what enabled her to
'take control of her life' and establish that lifestyle, it is a precise and apt term to call hers a "lifestyle abortion".

Much the way she protests a bit too much, insisting that "IF" she felt abortion was wrong, then she wouldn't be at all sure she made the right decision -- so you reveal more than you intend, when you declare that "lifestyle abortion" is hostile, rather than precisely accurate -- in fact, derived from what LB herself said.

Likewise, the truly appalling way in which the baby is described here: as bacon, a cancer, syphilis, a tumor, reveals more about you guys than I think you know.

The political point ought to be clear, as well: folks like LB, and T, and the woman who posted that she'd had FIVE abortions because she cannot say no to sex -- if the pro-life movement could invent opponents, they couldn't do better than you guys.

Collectively, the characterizations of the pro-choice side made in this thread get less than a third of the electorate, in polls going back even before Roe. The way you talk, YOU guys are the rabid minority.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2007 at 7:53 AM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile this appears on the front page of the Sunday edition of my local newspaper:

Pro-life taught locally
Amanda Harris
aharris@theadvertiser.com
http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007701210354

'By the fourth grade at St. Cecilia, students are learning the tenets of pro-life as they "adopt" a plastic baby to pray for as a representation of an aborted fetus.'


I'm guessing a realistic model of a tiny cluster of cells the size of the eraser from a pencil just wouldn't terrorize and indoctrinate with quite the same emotional impact.

Posted by: MsNThrope on January 23, 2007 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Americanist, you fool, I asked you why anyone else should accept your assertion, and you couldn't answer that. You have this idea which you assume everyone else is obliged to accept, but they don't and don't need to.

I'm not endorsing everything everyone else said here. I'm only talking about the stupid, long-winded thing's you've said.

In this case, "lifestyle" is a trivializing term used by nasty, hostile people like yourself. So is "convenience". LBs lifestyle is totally mainstream (I know her), but she wanted to postpone having a family.

Posted by: John Emerson on January 23, 2007 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

"...I went to the Christmas party, held in a small Salvadoran restaurant, for children who were alive to celebrate because their mothers chose not to seek abortion, but instead to seek the help of this center and to have their babies. It's an awesome thing to stand in a room full of laughing, playing children, and to realize that none of them were supposed to be here. All those voices silenced.

I wrote a column about that for the New York Post, and that was that, or so I thought. A few months later, I got an e-mail from a woman out on Long Island who had read that column as she contemplated abortion. She was pregnant with twins. She was in a bad way financially and otherwise. She felt trapped. But she called a CPC after reading that column, and they offered her and her unborn children a lifeline.

She had the babies. She attached a photograph of the little infant girls. She said she could not have imagined in her moment of crisis how happy her baby girls would make her.

None of that is an argument against the legalization of abortion, I know. Those arguments are familiar to most readers. It's just to say that when we talk about abortion, we are talking about human beings."

From: http://www.beliefnet.com/blogs/crunchycon/2007/01/january-22.html

Posted by: FYI on January 23, 2007 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

LOL -- then as a moral matter, what does it mean that she didn't postpone having sex? Can't have it both ways, Emerson.

MB asks a good question in the wrong way: "is there a single pro-choicer out there who made up their mind on abortion by FIRST studying the biological facts and theological and philosophical arguments and THEN deciding that the fetus isn't a human being, so abortion should be legal?"

Well, actually -- me, although I didn't decide that a fetus isn't a human being.

I'm pro-choice cuz the question for me is: who decides?

In some abstract way, I'm interested in philosophical questions (though whether a fetus is a human isn't a particularly interesting or complex one: it ain't gonna be a BLT, and most fertilized eggs that implant do become babies unless something happens to 'em).

But this isn't a philosophical question. Abortion is about PRACTICE.

Which is why Emerson is not the mainstream guy he thinks he is. I noted above that only about a third of the electorate will associate themselves with the view of abortion that LB (not to mention the bacon guy) holds, that an abortion is not morally significant.

I didn't add that damned near HALF of the electorate has consistently been repulsed by that characterization. Look up the polling data -- granted, all of the public ones are done by pro-choice groups, but if you know anybody on the inside, Planned Parenthood has 'em too, they just don't release 'em -- when folks are asked questions like: "Do you fully support a woman's right to choose, when a woman has had five or more abortions ? Do you accept that her decision to use abortions as birth control are right, wrong, or were her decisions morally insignificant?"

LOL -- the fact is, this thread is typical of the pro-choice echo chamber. I'm just observing that your arguments are vile, morally unserious, grotesquely impractical (particularly regarding men), and doomed to fail.

Hell, even Dice acknowledges that this all depends on a badly written SCOTUS decision that could be overturned as soon as somebody figures out the right angle on it. (What do you think Roberts was picked for?)

So huffing that when a woman decides she'd rather have a career isn't about her "lifestyle", that "lifestyle" itself is a hostile term (oh? so why do ads use it?), isn't very helpful.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2007 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Religion, religion, religion. Mass hysterical delusion again driving our behavior and our discourse.

Our fears about a potential theocracy are now realized.

Posted by: johnny6644 on January 23, 2007 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

It's always strange to me that pro-choicers think that pro-lifers are inconsistent or hypocritical if they aren't against the death penalty.
There is a difference between an innocent child in the mother's womb (who has made no conscious choices), and someone who (for example) rapes and murders a child, or robbs a bank and kills the teller in cold blood, or carjacks a car and murders the child in the carseat because its crying too loud, or takes a baby by its feet and bashes it against a wall to get back at the mother. It is appropriate for the state to put such criminals as I described to death, especially in a democracy where (in many states) there is a majority who support the death penalty.
This has absolutely nothing to do with whether a child in a mother's womb should be aborted, and whether the state should allow such a thing.
Those of you who are Democrats, please listen to this. I say this on behalf of many other people I've talked to:
You claim to be the party who speaks for the poor, the rejected, the outcasts, the homeless, the victims of discrimination, the weak and downtrodden, etc. You claim to speak for the people who have no one else to speak for them. You want to defend the helpless against the powerful.
Yet you refuse to include "unborn children" in the category of helpless, vulnerable, weak, and powerless people who have no one to speak on their behalf.
As long as that is the case, you will lose voters to the Republicans, and that includes voters who are otherwise left-leaning. And my personal experience is that you (Democrats) are likely to look down on such people, and make snide comments about their "values" and morality. Go ahead and assume that you are superior, and that pro-life people are right wing thocrats. I tell you as a former Democrat, it's more complicated than that. You haven't even begun to consider that people who value life in the womb may be the true "progressives" who speak on behalf of the vulnerable and rejected of society.

Posted by: peculiar reasoning on January 23, 2007 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

That kind of lazy thinking is another reason pro-choicers have been losing the political debate to pro-lifers.

Yes, in the fantasy world. Back here on Planet Earth, though, the pro-choice position is overwhelmingly supported by the majority of the American people, and the pro-lifers are out of the mainstream. Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for over thirty years now, and despite 12 years of Republican rule in the Congress no bill outlawing abortion has passed, so I'm not sure in what reality pro-choicers have been "losing" to pro-lifers.

Posted by: Stefan on January 23, 2007 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan, you don't get it.

Pro-lifers ain't as stupid as you think they are, but pro-choicers ARE as dumb as... well, as this thread.

Politically, the pro-choice position is essentially free. That is, because Roe is Constitutional law, the range of what is legislatively available to pro-life folks is very limited. So they get to test different approaches, and do stuff like voter initiatives to keep their base happy -- but pro-choice folks can simply say: Roe! and that's that.

In extensive arguments with pro-life folks over many years, I keep pointing out to 'em that the INSTANT Roe is overturned, the pro-life form of the Republican Party becomes a distinct minority.

It's not like this isn't known to folks like Rove -- or Scalia, much less Roberts. So ... psst: they've been THINKING IT THROUGH.

It simply isn't true that "the" pro-choice position is overwhelmingly supported by the electorate. Since early in the Reagan administration, when a different political strategy was possible, it's been clear that there are two overlapping majorities: a pro-choice majority that favors responsible choices (for want of a better short description), and a pro-life majority that opposes irresponsible ones.

So for a whole generation, SMART pro-life folks have been trying to figure out some way that is politically viable AFTER Roe, to protect babies in the womb.

If you think that Roberts can't find a way to slice into Roe that gets five, maybe six justices now that O'Connor is gone, you're not paying much attention.

If you think the "overwhelming majority" agrees with LB that aborting her first child so that she could take the LSATs and have a career isn't morally significant, you need to get out more.

If you think that damn near a majority isn't actually repulsed by the use of multiple abortions for birth control, you need to learn something about polling.

Cuz there's a big truck coming, and it's likely to roll right over you... and you will be shocked to discover how few of you will be on the shoulder, cuz the truck is gonna be headed for the middle of the road.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2007 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

On this subject, I think the question of whether abortion is "right or wrong" is simply not the relevant question.

The question should be "is legal abortion necessary if we're going to have the society we want to have"? I say it is.

Consider this: we now expect women to more or less fully participate in our economic system. We've found that it's a good thing to have female doctors, lawyers, and leaders. But for that to happen, we need ways for women to be able to control how many children they have and when they have them. For the most part, this is handled by contraception. But since contraception is not 100% effective, abortion has to remain a backup option.

Posted by: Dan T. on January 23, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

The position of anti-abortionists toward women of child-bearing age is this simple: 1) If you have sex you *must* be willing to have a child; 2) If you become pregnant you *must* have that child.

Government has no right to make that decision for any woman, nor does anyone else. It is the pregnant woman's decision. End of discussion.

As for abortion being a morally-fraught decision, this is true only for those who believe that a fetus equals a human life. I never believed that; my first wife never believed it; her decision to have an abortion, which I absolutely seconded, was the smartest thing we ever did together. (In the days before Roe v. Wade, when it wasn't even legal.) LG

Posted by: Luther Graves on January 23, 2007 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Not so.

The pro-life position says that a baby is (or if you like for the nuanced, acquires) rights before birth.

As it happens, this is also the LAW, e.g., manslaughter charges when a pregnant woman is assaulted which causes her to lose the baby.

The POLITICS of pro-life starts with the recognition that nobody can rule out that at least certain kinds of sexual activity will often, unpredictably but reliably, result in babies growing in women.

Again, the LAW recognizes that men can be forced to face up to their obligations in such circumstances.

The POLITICS of pro-lifers continues to explore how women can, also, be required to face up to their obligations in such circumstances.

Since there is a conflict between the law, technology, and morals here, the sensible default position is not that 'everything will be fine, cuz after all, most folks agree with us'.

Cuz - they don't.

Right now, the only support that pro-choicers can rely on is a 34 year old SCOTUS case that is universally acknowledged to be badly reasoned and written even worse.

Cuz the more you argue, the less support you can rely on. Most folks don't like multiple abortions as birth control, any more than they like forcing a victim to bear her rapist's child.

Pro-life folks have figured that out. This thread shows pro-choice folks have not.

So it's a good idea to learn better arguments than the ones we've seen here.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2007 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

In America, there is a broad concensus that one's rights end where another's rights begin. We have Freedom of Religion, but human sacrifices are forbidden, as that would violate another person's rights. For the same reason, we have Freedom of Speech, but screaming "fire" in a crowded movie theater when there is no fire is forbidden. The Right to Life is most important, and one individual never has the right to infringe on another individual's Right to Life.

The abortion debate has been clouded by conservatives who accuse pro-choice women of being whores and liberals who accuse pro-life people as being theocrats. The truth is that whether or not a pro-choice person is amoral, or whether or not a pro-life person is a fascist, is irrelevant. This not about pro-choice and pro-life people. This is about unborn children, and their rights are being violated.

"Right to Privacy" does not allow a mother to kill her son as long as its within the privacy of her house. Why then, do we believe parents can kill their children as long as they are in the womb? An unborn child has his or her own DNA, his or her own heartbeat, his or her own physical sensations, including pain. And yet the pro-choice ideologues insist that, like a slave, that child should not be considered a human being.

Abortion is the last significant Civil Rights issue, and the Civil Rights of unborn children are being violated. That is the reality of the abortion debate. "Right to Privacy" is only being used to protect abortion the same way "State's Rights" were used to protect slavery.

Evidence eventually asserts itself, and the NARAL ideologues and their fellow travelers will soon find themselves fresh out of excuses.

Posted by: brian on January 23, 2007 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

"...the range of what is legislatively available to pro-life folks is very limited."

Legislatively available? Where in the Constitution is that an issue. Pro-lifers have all the freedom in the world to not have abortions—and to not force their pathologies on others, thank you. Period.

Posted by: Kenji on January 23, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK
Likewise, Dice is downright blithering (even for him): unlike, say, lawyers, writers do analogies for a living.

Uh, so? You have still demonstrated that you don't understand the first thing about them: particularly, that they are limited to a particular sense, and do not constitute a claim that the analogized things are alike in any other way.

And, btw, analogical reasoning is about as essential to legal analysis as the use of the syllogism. You've got all kinds of insults about lawyers and law students handy, but you don't seem to actually know anything about what either does in the real world: lawyers do, in fact, do analogies for a living.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK
By the way, is there a single pro-choicer out there who made up their mind on abortion by FIRST studying the biological facts and theological and philosophical arguments and THEN deciding that the fetus isn't a human being, so abortion should be legal?

Well, in my case, almost; I never actually decided that fetuses were categorically not morally human beings, though; but yes, I was a fairly committed religious pro-life activist, did considerable study of the facts, theology, moral philosophy, and law surrounding the issue (and touching on it from a distance) before coming to the conclusion that a legal prohibition on abortion was generally undesirable, and that while a narrow prohibition which applied in certain circumstances post-viability might be abstractly desirable, it was impractical to appropriately constrain it, and the problems of resolving disputed cases would likely produce more evil than not imposing the prohibition at all.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2007 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Lord, teaching the blind to read while they're waving their hands in the air...

In point of fact, there isn't a right to an abortion in the Constitution, either. The right to privacy from which Roe (and Casey) stem, was found in the 'penumbrae and emanations' that Douglas saw spreading out from the first and fourth amendments in Griswold. You can't find abortion in the Constitution, cuz it's not there.

The SCOTUS made it up, to be plain.

So until the Roberts court overturns Roe (I'm predicting the 2009-20010 term) what state legislatures can do is limited by Roe and Casey.

What Kenji doesn't seem to know is that there is a question of standing in these cases -- who can speak up to protect the baby, if the mother wants to abort it?

The father, perhaps?

Not being an expert ON Casey, in particular, I wonder: suppose for a young couple that she promises him her contraception will work -- yet she becomes pregnant anyway. Suppose further that this causes him to have a moral crisis, which he resolves by asking her to marry him. She agrees, they marry and their lives change: say he quits a job, moves, etc.

Thus, two individuals have formed MUTUAL obligations, corresponding to their MUTUALLY formed baby, growing in her.

Suppose she gets cold feet, and determines to abort the baby in the 24th month or so -- but he disagrees. He insists that he has a moral as well as a legal obligation, that their marriage is a contract (what the hell, let's have it be a Catholic ceremony, honored after all by the state as a real marriage, a binding contract) the changes in their lives have all been mutual -- and finally, say this particular state has "mutual obligations" language in its deadbeat dad law.

By now, the baby is clearly viable if born, so there is a welter of medical technology, law, morals and politics implicated in the issue.

I dunno as SCOTUS is compelled by stare decisis, certainly not by the original Roe decision, to find that the father has rights to protect his child. (There may have been a case or two along these lines, but I dunno as the fact situations and the laws have aligned yet. I vaguely recall a case involving a comatose pregnant woman where the husband and father disagreed with his inlaws about the birth threatening her life: anybody remember that one?)

But I DO know that consistently when the electorate is asked about hypotheticals like these, significant majorities reject the idea that the mother's rights to choose an abortion are ABSOLUTE.

Politics 101, folks: that's why people talk about the moral significance of abortion.

Cuz... it's morally significant.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK
Right now, the only support that pro-choicers can rely on is a 34 year old SCOTUS case that is universally acknowledged to be badly reasoned and written even worse.

That's not true; there are subsequent decisions on the issue which have in some cases (e.g., Planned Parenthood v. Casey) provided additional or alternative grounds for the right to abortion to the poorly reasoned one invoked in Roe.

Roe is not the sole support, nor the definitive articulation, of either the basis or scope of Constitutional abortion rights in the US.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

God, I wish someone would invent artificial wombs....or why don't we just take the zygote out and squirt it into the belly of one of you prolifers above?

We don't insist that parents donate kidneys or livers to their children, even if it is necessary to save the child's life. Why not?

Posted by: grumpy realist on January 23, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Most women mature at around the ages of 13-15. Our modern society recognizes that these physically mature 'women' are not fit to be mothers nor able to legally marry without parental consent. Men also mature around the ages of 13-15. They are considered poor models for becoming good fathers, not having the skills to be good providers and nurturers. The fact that many of these children fuck each other for pleasure or experimentation seems to be lost on those who preach personal resposibility for having sex.

Sex in most cultures is disconnected from procreation. Some primitives did not even make the biological connection. Putting the responsibility of child rearing on a large population many still consider children has bad consequences for everyone. Making adults who do not want to raise children take responsibilty for having sex also has similar bad consequences. The anti-aboriton crowd uses a glop of tissue, calling it a baby, to morally harangue others into obeying their priestly authority. When this morality no longer resonates with the population, they resort to laws and state police power to enforce their beliefs on others. That is quite typical of human behavior, and is applied to many issues besides women's reproductive rights. Thinking humans must resist these intrusive busybodies if we are to live together harmoniously. We have already seen what level of violence the anti-reproductive rights mobs has resorted to, bombing buildings and assassinating doctors. I would not want to see the same thing happen to their churches and priests, but it may very well happen if their intolerance for differing behaviors is codified into law.

Personally, I would like to see the destruction of religion/believed mythology. But I would like to see religion abolished because of a lack of interest in the aggrandizement and worship of priests, instead of nihilistic destruction. I think nihilism is poorly understood. Many think it is a philosophy justifying mass murder. Nihilism is the acknowledgment that institutions do not end when their usefulness ends. The Church used to be a center of society, now it is on the outside, yet still exerts its Medieval influence on modern times. Most people do not care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin or when a fetus is invested with a soul, yet for some this is a very important question and the Church exploits their mythologically challenged minds. It is this exploitation that needs to be abolished so that individuals do not have cross their emotional and illogical guantlet whenever the priests decide to enforce an authority they have extended to themselves.

Posted by: Brojo on January 23, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- Dice, once again, demonstrates that he's just a BIT behind the curve.

He's reliable, anyway: the flashing VCR of the blogosphere.

Grumpy: as I understand it, a parent isn't a required to donate an organ to a child partly because the parent has rights that the government is founded to protect, while there is nothing in the child's rights (which the government is also obliged to protect) that extends that protection to the parent's organs. It is true (as I understand it) that only in certain very narrow circumstances (e.g., religious exceptions) that a parent can DENY a child life-saving medical treatment, which is the more telling insight.

Pro-life folks simply point out that the baby is (or ought to be) a 'person' within the meaning of the Constitution,and accordingly has (or acquires) rights which the government is obliged to protect.

Since this is true in manslaughter cases where a pregnant woman loses the baby, it's not legit to say that the law doesn't support it, not ever, no, uh-uh.

So you're stuck arguing that a father has obligations which the state can enforce, but no rights which the state must protect; while the mother has no obligations since the abortion is solely her decision, and yet when a pregnant woman loses the baby (e.g., a car accident, insurance, etc.), suddenly the baby HAS rights, which the government must protect.

That's what a contradiction looks like folks. (Check any of Dice's posts if you want to see more of 'em on the hoof.)

Throw in that preemies now survive and thrive that used to be stillborn, and that the original Roe decision held that the first third, the mom had sole rights; the second third, state protections increased; while in the last third her right to choose was increasingly restricted and... well, pro-choice folks are gonna have to come up with MUCH better arguments that keep being rehashed here.

Technology, the law and morals are in conflict -- and you guys are kinda spectacularly in denial... and in an echo chamber.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK
In point of fact, there isn't a right to an abortion in the Constitution, either.

Insofar as the word "abortion" doesn't appear in the Constitution, this is correct.


The right to privacy from which Roe (and Casey) stem, was found in the 'penumbrae and emanations' that Douglas saw spreading out from the first and fourth amendments in Griswold.

The important part of the holding in Griswold for Casey and Roe is that 5th and 14th Amendment liberty interests protected by the Due Process Clauses of those two amendments are not limited to, but extend beyond, rights guaranteed elsewhere in the Constitution (that is, the unsurprising holding that the Due Process Clause(s) are, as they seem, grants of rights, not limitations on otherwise granted rights.)

Not being an expert ON Casey, in particular, I wonder: suppose for a young couple that she promises him her contraception will work -- yet she becomes pregnant anyway. Suppose further that this causes him to have a moral crisis, which he resolves by asking her to marry him. She agrees, they marry and their lives change: say he quits a job, moves, etc.

Thus, two individuals have formed MUTUAL obligations, corresponding to their MUTUALLY formed baby, growing in her.

Suppose she gets cold feet, and determines to abort the baby in the 24th month or so -- but he disagrees. He insists that he has a moral as well as a legal obligation, that their marriage is a contract (what the hell, let's have it be a Catholic ceremony, honored after all by the state as a real marriage, a binding contract) the changes in their lives have all been mutual -- and finally, say this particular state has "mutual obligations" language in its deadbeat dad law.

By now, the baby is clearly viable if born, so there is a welter of medical technology, law, morals and politics implicated in the issue.

I dunno as SCOTUS is compelled by stare decisis, certainly not by the original Roe decision, to find that the father has rights to protect his child.

Um, no, certainly not, even ignoring the cases providing a legal right to choice in abortion. First of all, in law, no "child" exists. Second, no precedent exists which would create such rights, so appeal to stare decisis is of no avail. Thirdly, even were there a binding legal contract involved obligating the woman to give birth (unlikely, but lets ignore that for now), such a contract would be a contract calling for personal services, and as such would not be enforceable by specific performance, only, at best, damages for breach.

But I DO know that consistently when the electorate is asked about hypotheticals like these, significant majorities reject the idea that the mother's rights to choose an abortion are ABSOLUTE.


So? That a majority might reject choice in a particular contrived extreme hypothetical doesn't mean you have a majority supporting any particular policy of limitation. As I recall the polling data, you usually find something like 40% favoring legal abortion, 40% favoring abortion available in limited circumstances, and 20% favoring abortion prohibition. But the middle 40% don't agree on what should be limited, and often are more concerned that abortion not be prohibited when it should be allowed than they are that it not be allowed where it should be prohibited, so you don't have a durable electoral majority in favor of many restrictions (such as restrictions beyond those allowed in Casey.)

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

"...reasoned BACKWARD from that desired conclusion?

Mike

Posted by: MBunge

Exactly. By definition the Christian right (who form the core of the "right-to-life" anti-abortion on any grounds movement) have taken their own interpretation of the their theocracy, termed life as sacred and starting at fertilization by definition (although viability does not) and tried to impose their conclusion on everyone else.

And you would see it how?...


Posted by: notthere"

Uh, no. Reasoning backward is when you have a desired conclusion and formulate reasons to support that conclusion. Deciding that you think A (the fetus is a human being) and that A leads to B (the fetus has a right to life) is the exact opposite. Now, there are some folks on this thread who appear to have approached the abortion question in that fashion and still came to a pro-choice position. I'm sure they'd be much better at defending that position than people who want abortion to be legal and reason backward for why it should be so.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 23, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Your assertion that abortion is murder is narrow ideological bigotry that has been used as a justification for vandalism, assault, and murder. The idea that life with an inherent right to full human rights begins at conception is an opinion that is not backed up by fact and only supported by a very specific interpretation of religious texts.

If it quacks like a duck…

Posted by: joe"

It's not about any assertion that abortion is murder. That is clearly what many, if not most, pro-lifers honestly believe. If someone believes abortion is murder, it is weird and insane to contend they should be content with not murdering anyone themselves and be untroubled by other people committing murder. It is perfectly normal to not want other people to commit what you believe to be murder. To refer to that attitude as bigotry is beyond silly.

And just to be clear, the desire to prevent murder does not necessarily justify any and all actions to prevent the "murder" in question.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 23, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

I just want to add that Atrios' whole "abortion is icky" stuff is another great example of why pro-choicers keep having trouble in the political arena. The idea that an educated man like him can't understand that someone could support the right to an abortion but still be uneasy with an attitude that contends an abortion is no different than an apendectomy is odd, to say the least.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 23, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK
It is true (as I understand it) that only in certain very narrow circumstances (e.g., religious exceptions) that a parent can DENY a child life-saving medical treatment, which is the more telling insight.

This is, to the extent it exists, generally a state law, not Constitutional, requirement.

Pro-life folks simply point out that the baby is (or ought to be) a 'person' within the meaning of the Constitution,and accordingly has (or acquires) rights which the government is obliged to protect.

The government is not obliged, Constitutionally, to protect any right of any "person" to live inside the body of another person and literally consume the hosts flesh. There is nothing either in the text of the Constitution, nor the case law, to support such a right.

Since this is true in manslaughter cases where a pregnant woman loses the baby

It is, in fact, not true in those cases: those cases do not occur because a fetus is a legal "person" whom the government is obligated to protect, it exists because the criminal homicide laws on which prosecutions for such acts are based provide punishment for killing of a set of entities that are not coextensive with "legal persons", such as for the killing of a "human being or fetus" as is the case in California law.

it's not legit to say that the law doesn't support it, not ever, no, uh-uh.

Actually, it is quite accurate to say that. Your assertion to the contrary is based on your flawed understanding of the legal basis of the cases you pose as contradictory.

So you're stuck arguing that a father has obligations which the state can enforce, but no rights which the state must protect;

The father's obligations are contingent on the birth by which he becomes a father, as are his rights; likewise the mother's obligations and rights as a mother. Yes, the woman has rights that are interposed between the last legal opportunity the man has to avoid having the rights and obligations of parenthood attach, because the woman is uniquely situated with regard to the fetus, and bears a unique burden with the pregnancy. There is no "contradiction" there.

Throw in that preemies now survive and thrive that used to be stillborn, and that the original Roe decision held that the first third, the mom had sole rights; the second third, state protections increased; while in the last third her right to choose was increasingly restricted and...

The Roe trimester distinction was rendered largely meaningless by the simultaneously-delivered Doe v. Bolton decision anyhow, and utterly wiped away with Casey's redefinition of the parameters of abortion rights. It is of little but historical interest.

well, pro-choice folks are gonna have to come up with MUCH better arguments that keep being rehashed here.


Certainly, you mean "...MUCH better arguments than those that keep being rehashed here." But even then, where's the need? National poll trends don't show an erosion of the majority support for abortion rights.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

what makes anybody sure she was ready to have sex?

Mature genitals.

Mature genitalia is all that is required to have sex. Much, much more than that is needed to raise a child.

Posted by: Brojo on January 23, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

For those who believe that a fertilized egg is defacto a human life, I can provide an example where the termination of tissue from a fertilized egg that gestated for a period of time that you would not consider to be an abortion or murder.

http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=2346476&page=2

So did this guy just abort his mother's other child? Or did he just kill his sibling? Or do you need to try to redefine your definition of when a human being comes into existence? (Degree of difficulty: this fetus was technically born too.)

Or will you just go on to insist that your definition is right and this doesn't count? Reminds me of the people who think gay isn't natural ("there's man, there's woman, they obviously go together, plus the Bible says blah blah blah). Nevermind that it has been observed and documented in thousands of animal species. Nevermind that some people really aren't born only male or only female. Nope. This is what they believe to be true, so it is clearly reality that has got its facts wrong.

Posted by: Gex on January 23, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

It's always strange to me that pro-choicers think that pro-lifers are inconsistent or hypocritical if they aren't against the death penalty.

Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! I'll take this one!

1) If you believe that murderers should be put to death.
2) If you support the death penalty even though it is known that innocent people have been put to death (I recently heard that Dallas County has more people cleared by DNA evidence than every non-Texas state in the Union).
3) You are a murderer and should be put to death.

Posted by: Gex on January 23, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

The pro-life position says that a baby is (or if you like for the nuanced, acquires) rights before birth.

As it happens, this is also the LAW, e.g., manslaughter charges when a pregnant woman is assaulted which causes her to lose the baby.

This is not the case for car pool lanes. So the law is not consistent on this.

Posted by: Gex on January 23, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

"The government is not obliged, Constitutionally, to protect any right of any "person" to live inside the body of another person and literally consume the hosts flesh."

Hmm. Does that statement resemble in even a remote fashion the way that most normal people feel and think about pregnancy? Yet another reason why pro-choicers still have to be worried about the overturning of Roe v Wade and the outlawing of abortion - they talk about the subject in terms that normal people find offputting. Ever wonder why the majority support keeping abortion legal, but also seem to support multiple efforts to restrict abortion? See the above sentence.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 23, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously. I want a "fertilized egg = human being" believer to discuss this particular case.

Again the challenge is if you believe a fertilized egg is a human being discuss whether this is abortion, murder, or fertilized egg (which in this one instance is not a human being but somehow your definition is still correct).

http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=2346476&page=2

I will be sadly disappointed if there are no takers.

Posted by: Gex on January 23, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Gex, one gets the impression that you're used to sad disappointment.

It is probably as good a metric as any, to note that IME pro-lifers are harder to goad than they used to be, while it is easier to get pro-choice folks to say, support, or accept incredibly stooopid stuff, e.g., Dice's characterization of a baby as a critter that "literally consumes the host's flesh".

LOL -- if this is the way your fine legal mind works, Dice, I trust you picked a state that has high standards for legal malpractice. For damn sure I wouldn't want YOU representing my interests: "Ya see, your honor, when I said on my client's behalf that a baby is like a cancer, what I meant was limited to the analogy that..."

The usual round in goading pro-lifers USED to be that a) it's a child, not a choice, then b) the baby has to be protected from the mother, followed by c) of course that means the government can restrict what she does, which leads to d) forced sterilizations, or forced abstinence, or practical contradictions like trying to prevent pregnancy by banning contraception, etc, the whole 'legislating morality' argument.

In the past few years, pro-lifers have generally gotten MUCH better, along these lines 1) It's a child, not a choice, so 2) women should be HELPED to make responsible choices, by 3) recognizing that men and women make responsible choices about pregnancy TOGETHER, and thus, 4) there is a whole community of interests that can make these dire choices better for everybody, including the baby.

But pro-choice folks are EASIER to goad -- good lord, I didn't have to provoke Dice into mischaracterizing the law and the Constitution such that any smart sophomore could rip him a new asshole in court, much less can he blame me for characterizing a baby as 'feeding on its host's flesh'.

Maybe somebody should start an online fund for victims of Dice's legal work?

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

to live inside the body of another person and literally consume the hosts flesh.

Unwanted embryos are a lot like bot flies. Dermatobia hominis should be excised from the body, as should any parasite, including unwanted embryos.

Posted by: Brojo on January 23, 2007 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK
The pro-life position says that a baby is (or if you like for the nuanced, acquires) rights before birth.

As it happens, this is also the LAW

No, its not.

, e.g., manslaughter charges when a pregnant woman is assaulted which causes her to lose the baby.

Such charges, in law, have nothing to do with "rights" of the fetus, any more than the criminal charges that arise from, say, defacing currency mean that dollar bills have "rights".

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

If you believe an embryo is a human with a soul, no one will force you to have an abortion in America.

If you bleive an embryo is a bot fly consuming your flesh, many will want to force you to not have an abortion, and will want to use state police power to back them up.

Each belief is as legitimate as the other, yet the bot fly believer is treated differently and would be forced to feed a parasite with their flesh so that priests and those who worship priests can feel moral superiority.

Posted by: Brojo on January 23, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK
It is probably as good a metric as any, to note that IME pro-lifers are harder to goad than they used to be, while it is easier to get pro-choice folks to say, support, or accept incredibly stooopid stuff, e.g., Dice's characterization of a baby as a critter that "literally consumes the host's flesh".

I never characterized a baby that way. I (accurately) characterized a fetus that way. They aren't the same thing, and the way in which they differ is directly relevant to the characterization.

if this is the way your fine legal mind works, Dice, I trust you picked a state that has high standards for legal malpractice.

Its a pure (and accurate, though, quite deliberately, emotionally loaded) characterization of fact. It has nothing really to do with legal reasoning.

And, frankly, given your the arrogant ignorance you demonstrate when it comes to the law and what legal reasoning is, I'm really not interested in your speculations about what makes a good lawyer.

For damn sure I wouldn't want YOU representing my interests: "Ya see, your honor, when I said on my client's behalf that a baby is like a cancer, what I meant was limited to the analogy that..."

I am not really interested in your invented fantasies about what your mental image of me might do in hypothetical circumstance, and I find it unlikely that anyone else is either.

The usual round in goading pro-lifers USED to be that a) it's a child, not a choice, then b) the baby has to be protected from the mother, followed by c) of course that means the government can restrict what she does, which leads to d) forced sterilizations, or forced abstinence, or practical contradictions like trying to prevent pregnancy by banning contraception, etc, the whole 'legislating morality' argument.

I've been actively involved in this issue for quite some years, and don't recall any time when that was the "usual round" in "goading pro-lifers".

In the past few years, pro-lifers have generally gotten MUCH better, along these lines 1) It's a child, not a choice, so 2) women should be HELPED to make responsible choices, by 3) recognizing that men and women make responsible choices about pregnancy TOGETHER, and thus, 4) there is a whole community of interests that can make these dire choices better for everybody, including the baby.

I've never seen an actual pro-lifer make this series of claims, not that it rally would be an "improvement" (how could it be, since the two aren't even from the same side) of the goading directed at them that you claim it is an improvement from. Really, its just as illogical and flawed as an argument as the positions that the goading you refer to picked at.

But pro-choice folks are EASIER to goad -- good lord, I didn't have to provoke Dice into mischaracterizing the law and the Constitution such that any smart sophomore could rip him a new asshole in court

Um, you are a bit confused. You misrepresented the law and the Constitution, I corrected you, and while you claim that a "smart sophomore" could tear me apart in court, you simply turn to name calling here. Either you are wrong, or you aren't even up to the standards of a smart sophomore yourself. Possibly both.

much less can he blame me for characterizing a baby as 'feeding on its host's flesh'.

No, but I claim blame you for lying about anyone else having characterized a baby that way.


Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, in responding to Gex before, I didn't realize that there was a misleading appearance that he was independently making the same wrong claim that I rebutted before, rather than quoting it; I'm sorry for repeating (in brief) the rebuttal earlier posted.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2007 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- gotta love Dice. At least he's upgraded babies in his analogies, from parasites to folding money. It's like evolution in bizarro world.

But as usual (hell, always?) he's wrong: in the first place, manslaughter is not a crime against property. It's a crime against "persons".

Isn't that so, Dice?

In the second place, Title 18, Section 1841 of the United States Code provides criminal penalties "for the protection of unborn children", including causing "the death of, or bodily injury (as defined in section 1365) to, a child, who is in utero at the time the conduct takes place, is guilty of a separate offense under this section... be punished as provided under sections 1111, 1112, and 1113 of this title for intentionally killing or attempting to kill a human being."

Golly, what a maroon this guy is.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2007 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK
For those who believe that a fertilized egg is defacto a human life, I can provide an example where the termination of tissue from a fertilized egg that gestated for a period of time that you would not consider to be an abortion or murder.

http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=2346476&page=2

So did this guy just abort his mother's other child? Or did he just kill his sibling? Or do you need to try to redefine your definition of when a human being comes into existence? (Degree of difficulty: this fetus was technically born too.)

I have no problem seeing him as having indirectly (in the theological sense under the doctrine of double effect) killed his sibling. I also have no trouble seeing such as morally justified as in self-defense, and even less trouble as seeing, as a matter of bodily autonomy, the act as one with, even given fatal consequences, the state has no legitimate role in prohibiting.

For pretty much exactly the same reasons I feel the same way about abortion. To me, even granting fetal personhood doesn't make the argument for criminalizing abortion in most cases.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2007 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Dice,

I should have asked for pro-lifers to respond, not just those who think fertilized egg = human life. My bad. I note that still there is no response from those who would think that a person does not have the right to remove a fertilized egg/human from their body resulting in the death of said tissue.

I could ask why that is, but I already answered it. They believe X and if Y contradicts it, just ignore Y.

Posted by: Gex on January 23, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK
gotta love Dice. At least he's upgraded babies in his analogies, from parasites to folding money.

Hey, look, you still don't understand analogies.

Punishing damage to a thing does not mean that thing has rights. That's the point. If the State of California decided to call it murder if you deliberate killed a human being or fetus (as it is now) or if you caused irreperable damage to a functioning computer, it wouldn't give computers "rights". It would just criminalize harm to them under a particular name.

Crimes protect, ultimately, the interests of the state; the unique interests of individual persons are manifest in rights that they may assert (or others acting in their name rather than the name of the state may assert in the absence of their capacity.)

But as usual (hell, always?) he's wrong: in the first place, manslaughter is not a crime against property. It's a crime against "persons".

Criminal homicide of any type is generally classified as a "crime against the person" (and, indeed, "homicide" implies that, too) but those are descriptive categories. The subjects protected by homicide neither extend the whole breadth of the legal term "persons", nor are they limited to legal persons in all jurisdictions.

Usually, they are defined in terms of "human beings" or "human beings and fetuses" (all human beings are legal persons, but not all persons are human beings, and fetuses are neither in the law) or some similar terms, and it is in the latter cases where charges are available.

Of course, there are some different formulations in some jurisdictions.

In the second place, Title 18, Section 1841 of the United States Code provides criminal penalties "for the protection of unborn children", including causing "the death of, or bodily injury (as defined in section 1365) to, a child, who is in utero at the time the conduct takes place, is guilty of a separate offense under this section... be punished as provided under sections 1111, 1112, and 1113 of this title for intentionally killing or attempting to kill a human being."

You actually just provided another illustration of my point. This law, while formulated slightly differently, also distinguishes between a fetus (though instead of that succinct term, it uses the rather more verbose "child, who is in utero at the time the conduct takes place") and a "human being". Were the former included by definition in the latter category, no special additional verbiage would be necessary to state that killing the former subjected the killer to the same punishment as killing the latter.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

The bottom line is and always has been the codifying of sin as defined by a narrow and extremist branch of Christianity into law. That is a direct violation of the US Constitution. No amount of blithering by self-rightous loud-mouths, who, if the biggest prima-donnas in the media are a sample of the group, are not only benifitting greatly both politically and finantially from the attention they draw to themselves but also keen to distract from the sordid moral bankruptsy of their own personal lives is going to change the inherent theocratic and bigoted basis of their position.

When your compatriots are murdering terrorists (health clinic bombers and assassins of doctors) that might be a clue that your political position is not in the interest of the country.

Posted by: joe on January 23, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

Dice, EVERYBODY knows you're full of shit. Just thought I'd clue you in.

I noted that technology, the law, and morality conflict here. Among other bullshit arguments, you insisted that babies growing inside their mothers are like... diseases, or parasites, or folding money. (sic)

That these are not persuasive as rhetoric, anybody sentient is already aware.

To illustrate that you're wrong as a matter of the law, I cited a Federal statute.

When you make distinctions... cite differences.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 23, 2007 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, no. Reasoning backward is when you have a desired conclusion and formulate reasons to support that conclusion....

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on January 23, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Yes. That's exactly my point.

You start with the theological conclusion that an abortion is murder and then try, if you bother, to fit the scientific facts, ethics and morality to fit your view.

I note you were quite selective about which questions you deigned to answer.

Where does theology fit in with morality and ethics? What do you think about the death penalty? Just for starters?

Posted by: notthere on January 23, 2007 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! I'll take this one!
1) If you believe that murderers should be put to death.
2) If you support the death penalty even though it is known that innocent people have been put to death (I recently heard that Dallas County has more people cleared by DNA evidence than every non-Texas state in the Union).
3) You are a murderer and should be put to death.
"
(From Gex)

Oh now that's just brilliant logic.
Having an opinion is not the same as carrying out an action. To be convicted of murder requires a voluntary action. To agree in principle with the death penalty in some instances (for Timothy McVeigh, for example) is not an endorsement of innocent people being executed. And even if a person thought "It's okay for innocent people to be executed!" that is not the equivalent of actual murder if a state somewhere does that very thing.
Grow up, Gex.

Posted by: gex_is_asinine on January 24, 2007 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Not, I don't speak for MB, but I think you misunderstand 'the' pro-life view, which is a many-splendored thing (as I understand it, anyway). And I don't speak for pro-lifers either, but since your questions reflect the blinders pro-choice folks generally wear (which keep 'em from seeing what's happening, both politically and substantively), I'll take a crack at 'em.

Theology denotes a way of thinking about God. Many religious people begin everything they know about right and wrong with God, but strictly speaking, theology focuses ON God. That is only by extension a way to think about right and wrong. (The Old Testament is full of God doing stuff that most folks would consider to be wrong -- because God said so, in fact -- which is the theme of the Book of Job. It'd help if you didn't demonstrate both arrogance AND ignorance in your rhetorical questions.)

Morality is about right and wrong. Many religious people begin everything they know about right and wrong with the Ten Commandments, or the Golden Rule. With few exceptions (e.g., the ones specifically relating to God), the Ten Commandments are generally accepted as a solid moral standard: if you disagree, kindly say which of the latter commandments you regard as immoral, or insufficient. And do include the Golden Rule in your criticism, since it is universal to all inclusive social systems.

Ethics is more nuanced. Many things are legal, but immoral or unethical. In fact, much of 'the law' is simply an elaboration on the distinction between ethics and morals; it's what the common law, sharia, the hadith and talmud are about. That is, there may be clear ethical obligations where the morality of a situation is ambiguous, or a decisive moral obligation in an ethical condundrum: the white lie. Many a cop or EMT has told the survivors that a victim suffered no pain -- when that's not true. That is, ethics generally compels people to weigh greater and lesser good for all involved, and conclude that doing great harm is not worth doing a little good, or that doing great good is worth a little harm.

It's a watchword in politics: "There comes a time to set aside principle and do what's right." More than morals or theology, ethics is intended to be PRACTICAL.

So it's a mistake for pro-choice folks to use the death penalty as a wedge, except insofar as it helps to confuse the issue. (But -- aren't pro-choice folks the side that wants the issues CLEAR? It's a helluva note if we're the ones who want it to be murky, which is contrary to Kevin's original post. As I reminded Emerson, it helps to notice when the pro-choice side contradicts itself.)

The reason the death penalty is different is that, as somebody explained above, executing a convicted felon is not like killing a baby in the womb. Having been convicted, as a legal matter the felon DID something to warrant death; not having been born, the baby did not. (Unless, of course, as Dice keeps insisting, you look on a baby as a disease, a tumor, or a parasite: good luck persuading folks with THAT line of reasoning.)

Not all pro-lifers oppose the death penalty, just as some pro-choice folks support it.

But the Catholic Church, which is by far the largest pro-life organization, opposes the death penalty also for precisely the same "culture of life" reasons. Many, perhaps most of America's 65 million Catholics disagree with doctrine on abortion or the death penalty, but it's not the smartest thing to make a dubious accusation of hypocrisy against pro-lifers when the authority for the largest single chunk of 'em is consistent.

Moreover, independent of theology or strict morals, there is a purely ethical consistency to the pro-life view, AND opposition to the death penalty: humans fail. Things go wrong. Just as contraception is not 100% effective, so our criminal justice system now and then convicts the innocent, or fails to cut a sucker an even break, so that somebody who MIGHT in other circumstances not be executed, winds up on death row.

The pure ETHICAL pro-life case (as opposed to the theological or moral one, since you asked) says that because humans are fallible, the ethical choice is life. Because that is an ethical position, it does not depend on theology or morals, narrowly defined.

A baby is not a disease, a tumor or a parasite. It is not inhuman. Pregnancy is not a metaphor; no one is ever 'a little bit' pregnant. When a pregnancy is terminated because the baby is killed, something unique has been removed. We cannot know what would have happened IF -- but we do know that.

Ethics is practical, and weighs balance.

This is the case that LB believes (protesting a bit much) she managed to avoid. She decided (and it is interesting that she considers it a matter she can decide, where, by contrast, we're all subject to gravity: THAT'S theological) that because she does not consider her abortion to have moral significance, she can indulge herself in the odd speculation that IF she did, then she would not be sure that she made the right choice, that the balance of the LSATS and her career outweighs the life she ended.

Don't blame me for that argument, SHE made it.

By saying her abortion had no moral significance, she leaves it entirely a matter of ethics.

So strictly speaking, she is conceding that she made the wrong ethical choice, independent of theology or morality, narrowly defined.

Curious nobody noticed -- including me, until you asked.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 24, 2007 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

I am a lifelong liberal who has long been in the pro-choice camp, but the only thing I'm sure about now is that I am grateful every day -- several times a day -- that the birthmother of my adopted son, Jack, chose not to abort him.

PS Today open adoption allows birthmothers to have an ongiong relationship with their children.

Posted by: tfred on January 24, 2007 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Is putting on a condom "a weighty moral choice"? Do men agonize over this, or do they do it simply because they do not want to be responsible for a child for the next generation or so?

Early-stage abortion is essentially birth control, unless you believe, in some science-fiction world, that a being the size of a pinky nail, at most, with no sentient capabilities, has the same constitutional rights as a living, breathing, child, which most people do not.

If anti-choice people feel so strongly that life begins at conception, why are they not protesting every day outside fertility clinincs, where embryos are discarded daily? Why do they not hold services, complete with masses and plots, for fetuses that are lost through miscarriages? Their positions are totally morally, ethically, and intellectually inconsistent.

Posted by: sullijan on January 24, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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