South Dakota May Be Banning More Than Abortions

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South Dakota's legislature made headlines last week by passing a statute that would essentially ban almost all abortions in that state. The bill's supporters are taking direct aim at the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that found that the constitutional right to privacy permitted women to control their reproductive lives including having access to abortions.

However, no commentators have looked at what other aspects of human reproduction that the bill might provoke the Supreme Court to rule on. For example, the bill defines "unborn human being" as an "individual living member of the species, homo sapiens, throughout the entire embryonic and fetal ages of the unborn child from fertilization to full gestation and childbirth; and "fertilization" as "that point in time when a male human sperm penetrates the zona pellucida of a female human ovum."

Prolifers on the Supreme Court (whoever they may be) could use this bill as an excuse to rule that all fertilized human eggs are people. Such a ruling would criminalize human embryonic stem cell and cloning research.

On a somewhat less consequential front, this bill would also seem to outlaw in vitro fertilzation in which not all embryos are implanted in a patient's womb. To get around this problem, the bill might be interpreted to require that all embryos produced by IVF be implanted even if they are genetically defective.

Additional Thought: Perhaps cloning would be OK because it doesn't involve human sperm. Does that mean that South Dakota legislators believe that a clone would not be human?

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  1. No exceptions for rape victims, and also no exceptions for the health of the mother–if carrying a baby to term and giving birth means you’ll wind up paralyzed from the waist down, too fucking bad, say the lawmakers of South Dakota.

    Why is it that the most rabidly “pro-life” people have so little respect for the already living?

  2. They’re just determined to make this as messy as possible, aren’t they?

  3. Not sure why this is a problem. Will this stifle non-existent scientific research in South Dakota ? Chuckle, chuckle.

  4. Thoreau, this bill is so callous I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that its authors were secret pro-choice advocates deliberately trying to make anti-abortion people look like heartless, misogynistic bastards.

    No exceptions for incest, either–if Daddy rapes his daughter and the daughter gets pregnant, she gets an additional nine months of misery, plus a painful and possibly dangerous labor too.

  5. Wouldn’t this make miscarriages some form of manslaughter? I think each one should be investigated, and the mothers punished to the greatest extent of the law.

  6. It bans a lot more than stem cell research. Most forms of the pill prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum, which, under this law, is abortion. Ergo, they’ve banned the most effective form of birth control.

  7. Jennifer-

    It certainly seems that they want to start a fight. Maybe they figure that by making the bill as broad as possible to cover as many things as possible, there’s a chance that they’ll step into some territory for which the precedents are either non-existent or murky. That way they avoid the scenario where a lower court just says “Nope, violates precedent”, overturns it, and then the Supremes let the lower court ruling stand without further comment. Maybe they figure they can break some new ground (or at least revisit some murky ground) and force it all the way to the Supremes for a really divisive and headline-grabbing battle.

  8. Will rape victims be allowed to undergo an immediate D & C, I wonder, or will their doctors first have to ensure that there isn’t a microscopic fertilized cell somewhere in there?

    And I wonder if doctors will become more reluctant to treat women who are having miscarriages, for fear that the doctors might be accused of having played a role in them.

  9. Then again, if they wanted to step into territory where the precedents are murky you’d think that they’d limit the scope of the bill to test the edges of precedent.

    I guess they just want to get shot down in a blaze of glory.

  10. Hmm. Apparently even Saudi Arabia will allow abortions in case of extreme health risks to the mother, like the “permanent paralysis” example I mentioned earlier.

    So it’s official–South Dakota, at least in some ways, has less respect for women’s rights than does the fundamentalist Wahhabi bastards of the Saudi royal family.

  11. My general opinion is that we shouldn’t fuck with the point of viability. So…

    Bad news: denial of a woman’s right to choose prior to a sustainable fetus means denying a woman her right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

    Good news: South Dakota only has a population of 754,844 so we can assume only about 400,000 US citizens are affected by this law.

    Long live states’ rights, but long live the Supreme Courts’ right to interpret their consitutionality.

  12. I think this bill is exactly what the principal anti-abortion organizations want. To anti activists, a blastocyst is a person, period, with the same rights and privileges as anyone typing comments here. Birth control, IVF, late – term abortions of anencephalic babies, and murder of toddlers are all exactly the same. The allow exceptions for the life of the mother only because the fetus will die too. I’m sure that if there were a way to save the fetus without saving the woman, they would endorse that procedure.

  13. I’m curious–if a woman DOES wind up paralyzed, or suffering other permanent health problems, because the state would not allow her to get an abortion, could the woman then sue the state for damages?

  14. Isn’t South Dakota the least populated state? I think this is just a convoluted attempt to up the population and get more federal money and another couple of Reps. (smirk)

  15. Anyone think that this bill is designed to get shot down by the SC? Because that would rile up the Republican base and turn them out to vote?

  16. linguist-

    If you want to get conspiratorial, who’s to say that this isn’t being sponsored by obstetricians in neighboring states? It’s all about driving their competitor out of business.

    And they would have got away with it if it weren’t for those darn bloggers!

  17. How will they treat transient embryos, meaning what does that do for citizenship? I can see a pregnant person claim she can’t be deported because her embryo is a citizen of So’Dak. At least I hope that happens, it might be fun to watch. I think this is going to get expensive.

  18. SM:

    This could actually be significant. A major part of SD’s economy- well, Sioux Falls’ economy- is medicine and medical research. Not only is this a quixotic and wasteful bill that promotes an absolute ban on abortion that is only supported by 20% of SD’s residents, it could hurt Sioux Falls, which has been trying to rebrand itself as a center for medical research and tech startups. Not exactly a smart move.

    ling:

    No, SD is larger than Wyoming, North Dakota, and perhaps Alaska (though I’d need to google that one).

    (Note: all of my opinions are stated as an ex-resident of South Dakota who lived there for 23 years.)

  19. it could hurt Sioux Falls, which has been trying to rebrand itself as a center for medical research and tech startups. Not exactly a smart move.

    Stupidity never stopped fanaticism before.

  20. I look at all stories like this one in terms of their impact on the stem cell debate.

    If this thing succeeds at any stage, it will provide twistable PR for far right monsters like Sam Brownback, pushing his bill to ban all embryonic stem cell research in the U.S., and even make it a criminal offense for American scientists to pursue this research in other countries.

    Somewhere, at some point, this research will yield viable cures for diseases like type-1 diabetes, Parkinson’s, and ALS, among others. How will history remember the people who stood in the doorway and slowed this research down by a decade or so? People like Brownback, and Bush, and fuck it, Sean Hannity, Ralph Reed, and Laura Ingraham, just to rattle off a few, will be followed forever by the things they’ve done or said in this debate. They will be counted alongside the worst people in history. Stupid. Irresponsible. Evil. Cowardly. All of the above.

    The shame is that if Americans were smarter, or a little more courageous in dealing with the far right, these people would already be demonized. Instead we’ll have to wait for that, and the wait is going to kill a lot of us.

  21. So, if a human life doesn’t start when there’s a new set of human DNA, when does it start? (No feminist-fiction answers, please. Stem cell research and such are irrelevant to the question.)

    If some human lives are worth ending because they’re inconvenient to other people, which human lives aren’t worth ending? (Save the “paralyzed women” tripe for MoveOn.org, please). 20 words or less.

    As far as the SC inventing a phony “right to privacy” which never existed before or since, unfortunately, it’s just as well that they’re finally being called out on their dishonesty. A “right to privacy” would make almost all restrictions on the medical industry unconstitutional. (Current *federal* regulations are clearly unconstitional, but I really wish such a legal right existed anyway).

    The legal right of “equal protection” would seem to say that women shouldn’t allowed to have abortions if they’re disallowed to men, and in the case of men it can be accomplished on paper, without killing anyone. Until our feminist gov’t makes abortion legal for men, rather than doing exactly the opposite, I’m 100% behind any anti-abortion measures.

  22. So, if a human life doesn’t start when there’s a new set of human DNA, when does it start?

    I’d say when the fetus is capable of a biologically independent existence. But tell me, why do you refer to paralyzed women as “tripe”? It is indeed possible for certain women to suffer severe health problems by carrying a baby to term, and paralysis is possible in some instances. Do you call it tripe because it’s easier than admitting there are shades of gray in what you’d rather perceive as a black-and-white issue?

    If some human lives are worth ending because they’re inconvenient to other people, which human lives aren’t worth ending?

    The difference is whether a human life requires another human body to survive. I think infanticide should remain illegal, because keeping an already-born infant alive does not require the use of another human’s biological systems. A fetus is a different matter.

    The legal right of “equal protection” would seem to say that women shouldn’t allowed to have abortions if they’re disallowed to men

    That makes about as much sense as saying “since women can’t have prostate surgery, men shouldn’t be allowed to have it either.”

  23. People like Brownback, and Bush, and fuck it, Sean Hannity, Ralph Reed, and Laura Ingraham, just to rattle off a few, will be followed forever by the things they’ve done or said in this debate. They will be counted alongside the worst people in history. Stupid. Irresponsible. Evil. Cowardly. All of the above.

    The shame is that if Americans were smarter, or a little more courageous in dealing with the far right, these people would already be demonized. Instead we’ll have to wait for that, and the wait is going to kill a lot of us.

    While ignoring the ridiculous, over-the-top nature of that hysterical rant, I’ll just point out the Inconvenient Fact that Senate sponsor of this bill is a female Democrat.

    http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=22627

  24. While ignoring the ridiculous, over-the-top nature of that hysterical rant, I’ll just point out the Inconvenient Fact that Senate sponsor of this bill is a female Democrat.

    Why is that “inconvenient”? Nobody here has tried blaming this on Republicans.

  25. > So, if a human life doesn’t start when there’s a new set of human DNA, when does it start?

    The issue isn’t when “life” starts, the issue is when a person obtains a soul.

  26. I’m curious–if a woman DOES wind up paralyzed, or suffering other permanent health problems, because the state would not allow her to get an abortion, could the woman then sue the state for damages?

    Unfortunately, probably not. They MIGHT be able to sue for an injunction against enforcing the ban under those circumstances.

    Long live states’ rights, but long live the Supreme Courts’ right to interpret their consitutionality.

    Long live states’ rights, but longer live individual rights.

  27. So, if a human life doesn’t start when there’s a new set of human DNA, when does it start?
    A new set of human DNA is generated in cancer cells and cells that have been exposed to radiation, virus’, the list is rather long. Your logic equates cancer as being a unique person.

  28. I’ll give you another Inconvenient Fact, Captain Holly.

    I’m a Republican.

    So are lots of supporters of embryonic stem cell research, in the House and Senate. Just not quite enough.

    Talk to someone whose kid is going blind from type-1 diabetes, though, and then we’ll talk about hysterical.

  29. Wouldn’t this make miscarriages some form of manslaughter?

    California has already addressed this question in a typically feminist (read “hypocritical”) way. They simply declared that a fetus is a human, and killing it is murder, unless a woman and her licensed State’s agent say otherwise; then it magically becomes a lump of tissue. Too bad we can’t use that pitiful attempt at a thought process on our obnoxious neighbors.

  30. Why is that “inconvenient”? Nobody here has tried blaming this on Republicans.

    It is inconvenient for the Democrats, who would oh so love to use this as a “fundies are running the asylum” talking point.

    Of course, anyone who thinks that our political parties have clear stances on abortion is simply not paying attention.

  31. Mr. FLM:

    The critical question is not when you get a new human but when you get a new person. “Person” is a legal identity which includes corporations. “Human” is a biological status that is a necessary but not sufficient precondition to being a person.

    My question to you is, if you make fertilized ova persons with all pertaining legal rights and privileges, what happens with miscarriages? Are they to be investigated? This is a very common event. What happens?

    Do you ban the pill? The pill works principally by preventing ovulation, but in some percentage of cases it simply prevents implantation of a zygote.

    Certain common activities can cause miscarriages or damage fetuses, even before the woman knows she’s pregnant. Among these are vigorous exercise, drinking alcohol, and taking even certain OTC medicines. Do we prohibit breeding-age women from engaging in these activities in order to protect fetuses? If fetuses are persons, we don’t have a choice, we will have to make such prohihitions.

  32. It is inconvenient for the Democrats, who would oh so love to use this as a “fundies are running the asylum” talking point.

    Then bring it up on a Democratic chat board. It has nothing to do with anything being said here.

  33. It seems to me, all these other posters are the ones who are heartless. Why shouldn’t an unborn child have the same right to life, liberty and persuit of happiness that the mother enjoys. In the case of health risks, clearly it’s the doctor and womans decision as to what they believe is more likely to cause greater loss of life. An abortion ends one life for certain, and that is acceptable only if not having an abortion will likely end two lives, mother and baby.

    If we take the assumption that a fertilized egg is a person, which clearly many people believe, then destroying it unnecessarily is murder, whether it be becuase this person was created due to rape or incest or in vitro procedure, they just want it to be given the same rights and respect as any child albiet in an unfortunate situation. We don’t kill 1 year olds born to crack addict single moms just because statistaclly they have almost no chance of becoming well adjusted adults. We give them the chance.

  34. Unfortunately, probably not. They MIGHT be able to sue for an injunction against enforcing the ban under those circumstances.

    They’ll be able to sue in Federal court for an injunction under almost any circumstances. Planned Parenthood (and 8 zillion other organizations) will pay for it, and they’ll easily win. This bill will have almost no meaningful impact unless SCOTUS takes it up, which I doubt it will since it is so far from precedent.

  35. Mr. F. Le Mur says, “So, if a human life doesn’t start when there’s a new set of human DNA, when does it start?”

    This is what the debate needs to be about. Of course, discussing abortion in terms of when a human life comes into existence raises very tough issues?What is it to be a human being? What attributes or faculties or capacities must something possess to be such a being? Is it human at the beginning of its conception or at some later point when certain faculties have emerged? Is there anything like a precise enough point during pregnancy that this occurs? Could it be conception, at which point no single entity exists that will become the baby but several might? Could it be when the cerebral cortex develops where thinking is made possible?

    At the edges of the law there will always be difficulties. Who is an adult? Who is still a child or juvenile? Similar ones can be found throughout human affairs.

    However for anyone who thinks a fetus has rights I would like to see them answer these questions.

    Does a fetus have rights?

    Does a potential mother have rights?

    Does the rights of the fetus outweigh that of the potential mothers and why?

  36. Then bring it up on a Democratic chat board. It has nothing to do with anything being said here.

    So now you’re the thread dictator? Only you can decide on the talking points? Captain Holly brought up a point of interest that he felt was a legitimate discussion item.

  37. So, if a human life doesn’t start when there’s a new set of human DNA, when does it start?
    Ignoring the parenthetical nutcasisms, I think it’s at least sensible to point out that human life has, like most things, neither a firm beginning nor a firm ending. To look at the other end, for example, when are we dead? When there’s nothing left but a skeleton, for sure, but between the way you are now and the skeleton to come, when is the point of actual death? A couple of thousand years ago, it would have been when you stopped breathing. Until more recently, and still in most cases, it’s when the pulse stops. But that isn’t quite right, either – people can come back from that, and do. Now we have a concept called “brain death,” which is where the brain is non-functioning at the level of the brain stem, unable to give any kind of response to stimulus or perform any automatic functions (i.e., stimulate breathing, constrict pupils).

    We consider these people, in spite of their beating hearts, so dead that we can cut out their guts and give them to others. Why, then, draw another line for embryos? If a lack of brain activity is good enough to determine that a fully developed, living adult should be used as an organ farm, then for an embryo with no brain whatsover, this should be a piece of cake. Where does the double standard come from?

    I can draw no other conclusion excepting that taking stem cells from an embryo is the moral equivalent of of taking organs for donation – i.e., a good thing.

  38. So now you’re the thread dictator? Only you can decide on the talking points? Captain Holly brought up a point of interest that he felt was a legitimate discussion item.

    He was trying to turn this into some partisan bullshit.

  39. “It is inconvenient for the Democrats, who would oh so love to use this as a ‘fundies are running the asylum’ talking point.”

    No it isn’t, they can either ignore that (most likely) or repudiate Bartling’s standing as a “real Democrat” (as was done with Zell Miller).

  40. Good point AML.

    The debate here is not unlike that about the very sick and incapacitated at the end of life. Without a brain that can function as those of normal human beings do?without its capacity to think, to have ideas, to imagine, to envision and so forth which human beings as such are distinctive for in the living world?arguably no human being exists any longer. So removing life supports and similar acts that terminate life do not constitute homicide.

    Exactly when that point comes about is where the debate needs to focus in the end-of-life discussion, while when a human being comes into existence is the point that needs to be debated in the abortion issue.

  41. We consider these people, in spite of their beating hearts, so dead that we can cut out their guts and give them to others. Why, then, draw another line for embryos? If a lack of brain activity is good enough to determine that a fully developed, living adult should be used as an organ farm, then for an embryo with no brain whatsover, this should be a piece of cake. Where does the double standard come from?

    Wow AML, that’s downright rational.

    And FLM, the fact that embryos are counted as persons due to pro-lifer pressure, not pro-choicers. It’s true in AZ too, which, last I checked, was not a Democrat haven.

  42. Additional Thought: Perhaps cloning would be OK because it doesn’t involve human sperm. Does that mean that South Dakota legislators believe that a clone would not be human?

    Although SD legislators believe that clones do not have a soul and hence are not human, they will probably find some other justification for banning cloning, since running into non-humans at dinner parties would be very embarassing.

  43. I’ll give you another Inconvenient Fact, Captain Holly.

    I’m a Republican.

    I’m a conservative. And a pro-lifer, too.

    And I will freely admit that this law makes no sense whatsoever as a political or a legal strategy. It’s doomed from the start, and I can’t see how it will do anything other than waste energy and time.

    The only reasonable explanation I can come up with is that this law is the result of a bunch of state legislators trying to “out-life” each other during an election year in a pro-life state.

    But whatever the reason for it, the “evil right-wingers” weren’t the only ones supporting it.

    So are lots of supporters of embryonic stem cell research, in the House and Senate. Just not quite enough.

    In other words, they’re in the minority. Want to change that? Convince the politicans — or the voters who elected them — that they’re wrong.

    Talk to someone whose kid is going blind from type-1 diabetes, though, and then we’ll talk about hysterical.

    Yes, but can you name one treatment produced by embryonic stem cell research that will cure that child? Or restore his sight?

    You can’t, because there isn’t one, at least not yet. And therein lies the rub. Embryonic stem-cell research might indeed lead to miraculous cures. Or it might be a complete bust. There’s no tangible benefits yet, only potential ones.

    But to claim that persons who oppose it are “among the worst people in history” and are “Stupid. Irresponsible. Evil. Cowardly.” and that any impediment to SCR is “going to kill alot of us” is just pure hysteria in my book.

    It’s something akin to what a snake-oil salesman of the 1800’s would have said.

    Or what a modern tobacco prohibitionist would say.

  44. I’ve always been disappointed in the way the abortion issue falls along party lines. It suggests that a lot of people aren’t thinking for themselves.

    There’s no reason someone’s left/right stance on economic policy, for example, should have any correlation with his or her stance on abortion.

  45. When all eggs are chickens, will omlette deniers get 3 to 10 in Austria?

  46. Additional Thought: Perhaps cloning would be OK because it doesn’t involve human sperm. Does that mean that South Dakota legislators believe that a clone would not be human?

    As an identical twin, my brother or I is essentially a clone. My Dad’s sperm penetrated my Mom’s egg creating an embryo. Shortly later the embryo split creating another embryo without the benefit of Pop’s sperm. Does this make one of us sub-human?

  47. Until our feminist gov’t makes abortion legal for men, rather than doing exactly the opposite, I’m 100% behind any anti-abortion measures.

    Although Mr. Le Mur would certainly disagree, there’s a good case for abolishing paternity suits, which oppress men in the same way that laws against abortion oppress women. An unscrupulous woman can use the family law courts to pick a man’s pocket in order to raise his offspring, even if the man did not freely choose to assume the responsibilities of fatherhood. If a woman can refuse to become a parent even after the fact of pregnancy, a man should be able to do the same. And don’t tell me a guy just needs to keep it in his pants if he doesn’t want to pay child support. That’s like saying that women should keep their legs together if they don’t want to have babies.

  48. Hat tip to Karen for noting that the birth control pill is illegal under this law, and not by accident. The patch and those hormone implant whatsits, too.

    I’m surprised and yet not surprised that our erstwhile “science” “correspondent” could only think in terms of subjects he gets paid to talk about in advertorials and on the lecture circuit.

  49. This is what the debate needs to be about.

    Actually, no it doesn’t. The where-does-it-begin question is largely unresolvable. I presented an argument a few minutes ago about where it sure as hell isn’t – i.e., you ain’t no full fledged human bein’ without no brain – but the question of where IT BEGINS will always have a largely arbitrary answer. A good buddhist might say 40 days after conception, our puritan ancestors might say at point of quickening (generall 17-20 weeks, when the mother feels the fetus begin to move), and today we say (legally), birth. But there is no real answer because biologically, there is no sharply demarcated cut-off. Even South Dakota’s answer has biological problems. The egg does not actually complete division until it has been penetrated by a sperm, and so at the point in time where the sperm first enters, the fertilized egg actually has an extra set of chromosomes – it’s triploid. A third of the DNA at SD’s moment of fertilization will have to be dumped. It’s hardly a point of genetic completion.

    To paraphrase my favorite philosopher, most problems in philosophy are actually problems of language, and this one is no different. In daily life, you and I do not interact with half-persons or seven-tenths persons – we know only whole persons and non-persons. Consquently, our linguistic concept of personhood is not adapted to dealing with shades of grey, so when confronted with questions of when personhood (in the non-legal sense) begins, we keep looking for an absolute moment, a switch to be flipped, the light to come on, the soul to spring into being. But the reality of the world does not have to match the constraints of our language or thought. My linguistic concepts for “particle” and “wave,” for example, at not compatible, but such things as simultaneous wave particles do exist in the real world. The problem, dear Brutus, is not in our world but in ourselves.

    However finely we try to cut, there will never be a clear point for personhood to begin, at least in the physical sense, and all such strong cut points have an edge of wacko mysticism to them (the sperm carries the soul into the egg!). We should find a practical cut point that takes into account the fact that there will always be demand for abortion, that banning it is going to be no more effective than banning sex, and that stem cells have the potential to offer tremendous good to unquestionably personny persons. There are no answers in biology.

  50. But whatever the reason for it, the “evil right-wingers” weren’t the only ones supporting it.

    Nobody said they were, Holly. Why do you alays defend yourself from non-existant attacks?

  51. So, if a human life doesn’t start when there’s a new set of human DNA, when does it start?

    It matters not what hairs you try to split in your legal definitions of life…I will sort it all out for each of you in the end. It is for each of you to choose…choose wisely.

    See you soon.

  52. Jennifer-

    Since I’m afraid that you may criticize some of my mathematical models of angiogenesis, I suggest that you read the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology before you embarrass yourself any further.

    And since I’m afraid you might criticize my image enhancement algorithm, I suggest that you read Optics Letters before you embarrass yourself any further.

    It’s hard work defending myself from things you haven’t actually said yet. 🙂

  53. Thporeau, don’t forget the possibility that I might insult your nom d’Internet. Or the fact that you wear glasses.

  54. After having 3 children, I’d say they become something understandably human at around 3 months, I guess 12 months after conception.

    But if someone had come after any of them from 0 to 3 months I would have defended them from harm.

    Not logical, but I guess this debate doesn’t rest on logic either.

  55. Why the hell am I making so many typos today, anyway? No matter–you all need to stop making fun of my typos. Just stop it! All of you!

  56. No, Holly, I can’t point to one treatment produced by embryonic stem cell research that will cure that child.

    I wonder why I can’t do that. Maybe it’s because… um… we’re not actually looking for the cures yet.

    That’s the whole point I’m making.

    You don’t argue against doing promising research by saying, “We haven’t done enough research yet.”

    There’s been more than enough research to validate going forward with more. Scientists with proven results in this field agree we need to do it.

    We’re not doing it.

    I’m going out on a limb and saying that’s bad.

    Here’s what I don’t get about you: how do you not grasp the concept that stalling the cure for a disease means killing people?

    I’ll tell you who does grasp it. The public figures I named. Bush, Brownback, et al. These people know better. They know exactly what the consequences of the delay will be. But they support the delay anyway, to secure a political demographic.

    I don’t know what else to call that except evil.

    I’m ashamed the party I identify with appointed a guy like Bush. I think almost any other candidate, of either party, would have gone forward with this research.

  57. AML I disagree.

    Once one engages in the act that normally produces a fetus, zygote, or embryo, without taking measures to prevent this, one is knowingly putting into motion the development of a human being. This being, however, requires care (it’ll be a dependent). If it is a human being right away, then the care is due right away and killing it is murder. If, however, it will only be a human being in time (say 24 weeks, 9 months, whatever), then if the woman carries it past this point, it’s due care from then on, when it has become a human child. One may not produce a child and then dump it unless someone else is willing to adopt it. So the issue remains: When does a human being come into existence during pregnancy? Once it exists, if this is during pregnancy, aborting the pregnancy, expelling the entity at that point (whereby it is killed), constitutes homicide. There is no way to dodge this central issue.

  58. So it’s official–South Dakota, at least in some ways, has less respect for women’s rights than does the fundamentalist Wahhabi bastards of the Saudi royal family.

    Nope. No hyperbole here. No bigotry either. Nice rational discussion.

  59. But whatever the reason for it, the “evil right-wingers” weren’t the only ones supporting it.

    Nobody said they were, Holly. Why do you alays defend yourself from non-existant attacks?

    Jennifer, do you ever read anything before you react to it?

    Algren’s post at 1:38 denouncing the bill included the phrases “far right monsters” and “far right” and then listed two prominent Republican politicians and three prominent Republican activists as examples of “the worst people in history. Stupid. Irresponsible. Evil. Cowardly.”

    A reasonable person, upon reading that, would have to conclude that Algren is indeed placing sole responsibility for this bill upon Republicans. My response was intended to point out that there was at least one pro-Life Democrat who supported it, thus making the point that this wasn’t a “far-right” issue.

  60. “A new set of human DNA is generated in cancer cells and cells that have been exposed to radiation, virus’, the list is rather long. Your logic equates cancer as being a unique person.”
    -Eddy

    I have wondered, in the past, what prevents the absolutist, “moment of sperm-to-egg contact” position from creeping outward to encompass every living cell. This is fundamentally a Will-of-God argument. Cancer cells multiply; they reproduce themselves with an apparent “purpose”- why would tumor removal not be murder? Why not deny medicine in its entirety as an abomination before God?

    Tangentially, if it is impermissible for a man and woman jointly to donate the “extra” embryonic cells produced during fertility treatments, to be used in research, why should it be any more permissible for them to jointly consent to the donation of organs from their severely injured child?

  61. Nope. No hyperbole here. No bigotry either. Nice rational discussion.

    No, it’s NOT hyperbole–Saudi Arabia will allow abortions if the mother’s health is in extreme danger, whereas South Dakota, according to this bill, will not. So in some cases, Saudi Arabia grants women more rights than would South Dakota. What is hyperbolic about that, do you think?

  62. Oh, another interesting point:

    The leading opponents of the bill in the SD State Senate are two very conservative Sioux Falls Republicans, Tom Dempster and Dave Knudson.

    As far as political alignments go on this issue, South Dakota is bizzaro world.

  63. As far as political alignments go on this issue, South Dakota is bizzaro world.

    Somebody should ask them what they think about the port deal with Dubai.

  64. Wise Ass
    Not to attempt to fight Jennifer’s battles for her, but the “at least in some ways” qualifier protects her from claims of hyperbole. You might also want to dust off the sarcasm detector too while you’re at it. Oh…and respond to the substance of the point being made.

  65. The leading opponents of the bill in the SD State Senate are two very conservative Sioux Falls Republicans, Tom Dempster and Dave Knudson.
    As far as political alignments go on this issue, South Dakota is bizzaro world.

    If you define “conservative” as “wanting to limit government involvement in people’s lives,” then being pro-choice seems far more conservative to me than passing laws limiting what women can and cannot do with their bodies.

  66. Algren, I don’t know much about Senator Brownback’s resolution, but the Bush Administration have only refused to allow federal funds to be used for embryonic stem cell research. They haven’t outlawed it.

    AFAIK, private companies are free to conduct whatever stem cell research they wish to. Indeed, California is supposed to soon become the worldwide stem-cell research leader, thanks to billions of dollars of state grant money.

    I have yet to hear of any stem cell researcher in the US being sent to prison.

    Now you might consider federal funding to be essential for any scientific progress, but that’s an odd argument for a Republican to make (even stranger for a libertarian).

    Considering the recent antics of Dr. Hwang Yoo-Suk I’d say the biggest threats to stem cell research at this point are the ambitious researchers themselves.

  67. The issue isn’t when “life” starts, the issue is when a person obtains a soul.

    Funniest thing I’ve read all day, thanks for that, I needed a laugh.

    As for the “when it begins” issue: I like “start of independent brain function” which is usually at 4 to six months, IIRC. I also think that “can live on its own outside the womb” is a perfectly rational (and perhaps more practical) cut-off. Both with the usual caveats about mother’s health and all that.

    That said, as the wonderful “Jane Galt” pointed out not too long ago, arguing semantics with the fertilization=person crowd just won’t wash because they think that abortion is quite literally murder. Irrational as that is, arguing about it with them is pointless.

  68. From the bill:

    Section 3. That chapter 22-17 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:
    Nothing in section 2 of this Act may be construed to prohibit the sale, use, prescription, or administration of a contraceptive measure, drug or chemical, if it is administered prior to the time when a pregnancy could be determined through conventional medical testing and if the contraceptive measure is sold, used, prescribed, or administered in accordance with manufacturer instructions.

    Looks like they covered the pill; in fact, it almost looks like they covered Plan B. But the problem of miscarriage remains. Are doctors going to be interrogated every time a miscarriage happens?

  69. I was not going to comment on this, since it is off-topic, but someone sent me an email asking me to do so, so I figured, why not? Beats workin’.

    Although Mr. Le Mur would certainly disagree, there?s a good case for abolishing paternity suits, which oppress men in the same way that laws against abortion oppress women. An unscrupulous woman can use the family law courts to pick a man?s pocket in order to raise his offspring, even if the man did not freely choose to assume the responsibilities of fatherhood.

    The problem I have with this idea is that when a kid is actually born, it’s the child, not the mother, who is supposed to benefit by child-support payments; doing away with paternity suits basically means that women get stuck with full responsibility for raising a child that required two people to make, and also increases the number of kids living in poverty.

    I have definite problems with the way the current paternity-suit system is set up (I don’t think that getting pregnant by Bill Gates should be the equivalent of winning the lottery); at the very least, I think the system should change so that the man has to pay only half the cost of raising a kid, rather than the current system where some men have to pay all the cost of having a child AND give the moms a living allowance as well.

    The main problem with a men-get-off-scot-free idea is that the kid is the one who suffers, and the kid never asked to be conceived by two irresponsible people.

  70. Jennifer:

    While I wouldn’t call either of the senators “libertarian”, due to their criminal justice attitudes, you’re spot on. Dempster’s argument against the bill was from a libertarian (keep the heavy hand of the government out of these private matters) angle, while Knudson’s refusal stemmed from the lack of a Rape, Incest and Health clause in the bill (he tried to add an amendment, but it was defeated).

    Both Knudson and Dempster are Sioux Falls “yuppie-cons”; neither has much truck with the righteous right. They’re in Pierre to keep the taxes low, business deregulated, and as many cops patrolling the streets of Sioux Falls as they can get. In other words, they’re old-fashioned Republicans.

  71. Jennifer, I’m actually pro-choice, due to a belief that the state should never get involved in determining what is life or health threatening in the context of a patient-physician relationship.

    That said –

    “The main problem with a men-get-off-scot-free idea is that the kid is the one who suffers, and the kid never asked to be conceived by two irresponsible people”

    Is EXACTLY the argument the pro-lifers are using. To them, you are forcing a child to suffer because of two irresponsible people.

    In the end, I don’t see any principled way to allow abortion absent health considerations but disallow men the right to disclaim a pregnancy within the same (or possibly slightly shorter) time frame.

  72. Looks like they screwed up with the language a little bit, but if this were a real bill and not a political statement, that might have been taken care of in the first place. The reality is that under current SCOTUS precedent, this bill is clearly unconstitutional. Ironically however, there is some justification for states to pass bills like this. If you go back to the case that outlawed under 18 exectutions, the liberals on the Court used the fact that many states had passed laws banning such a practice as “evidence” that evolving standards of decency had reached the point where such a practice was cruel and unusal punishment. By that logic, if several states passed what would now be clearly unconstitutioal bills allowing juvenile exectution, it would allow the Court to reverse itself and say that the standards had changed again. For those who subscribe to such loony interpretations of Constutional Law, bills like this look a lot less meaningless. I don’t think this bill will be of any use to strict constructionists, but for Justice Kennedy this bill might factor into his decison on whatever the eventual case that decides future abortion jurisprudence may be.

  73. “The main problem with a men-get-off-scot-free idea is that the kid is the one who suffers, and the kid never asked to be conceived by two irresponsible people” Is EXACTLY the argument the pro-lifers are using. To them, you are forcing a child to suffer because of two irresponsible people.

    Except that they let the definition of “child” include “a brainless fertilized cell that MIGHT be an independent human being someday,” whereas I am limiting it to “a biologically independent, though immature, human being.”

  74. Time to propose a solution nobody will like! What if men could sue to force the mother to either abort or give up the eventual kid for adoption? What if he could sue to prevent an abortion or adoption, so long as the consequence was a legally binding responsibility to raise the kid without the mother’s support?

    There are probably huge flaws with those ideas, but I figured I’d put it out there anyway.

    Of course, this would all go away if parental rights were saleable.

  75. Who is this AML? He or she is rather bright!

  76. Everyone: On the issue of miscarriage, I believe that the legislators try to finesse it by including the following language in the legislation:

    “Medical treatment provided to the mother by a licensed physician which results in the accidental or unintentional injury or death to the unborn child is not a violation of this statute.
    Nothing in this Act may be construed to subject the pregnant mother upon whom any abortion is performed or attempted to any criminal conviction and penalty.”

    Essentially, I take to mean that a doctor is blameless for accidental deaths of an embryo or fetus and that if a woman cannot be prosecuted for an abortion, surely she can’t be prosecuted for a miscarriage.

    S.M. Koppelman: Welcome back. FYI, my blog item is dealing with issues that I believe other commentators have overlooked. But for more detail on other issues see my column tomorrow.

  77. if a woman cannot be prosecuted for an abortion, surely she can’t be prosecuted for a miscarriage.

    Yet I would not be surprised if a woman who miscarried had to answer questions proving that no doctor is liable for prosecution.

  78. Birth control in the water! Birth control in the water! My argument just keeps getting stronger.

  79. Jennifer,

    I think quasibill may be suggesting something like this:

    If the potential father is notified at least 4 weeks before viability, he has the right to legally disclaim his fatherhood. If he does so, the woman presumably then has the time to either abort the pregnancy or choose to raise the child as the sole parent. If he is not notified by this time but finds out later, he cannot be held legally responsible unless both parents agree to it. (Many women might rather not be legally entangled to a deadbeat who is using his parental rights to continue to stalk her or whatever.)

    That would still put the woman in the driver’s seat, so to speak. A potential father could not prevent the procreation nor could he insist on it, but he is provided with the means to disentangle himself if he chooses. The worst that could happen for the father would be to be deliberately barred by the mother from legal fatherhood of his progeny. This system would permit her that power.

  80. So, if a human life doesn’t start when there’s a new set of human DNA, when does it start?
    I’d say when the fetus is capable of a biologically independent existence.

    A convenient political definition. How about a REAL definition?
    An even more convenient political definition was used in certain societies when lots of kids died young, something along the lines of “the soul[sic] doesn’t enter the body until the kid’s five years old.”

    But tell me, why do you refer to paralyzed women as “tripe”?

    It’s a red herring and, if it actually happens in a non-trivial number of cases, which I doubt (inform me!), it’s not the fault of the fetus.
    You might as well claim that it’s OK to shoot all oncoming motorists because they *might* cross over into your lane.

    The difference is whether a human life requires another human body to survive.
    Another convenient political definition, and one which depends on the state of medical science.
    Unfortunately it applies to nearly all adult human beings in modern societies; I’d be willing to bet that YOU couldn’t survive for more than a few days without other human bodies.

    That makes about as much sense as saying “since women can’t have prostate surgery, men shouldn’t be allowed to have it either.”

    Typical ignorant feminist. Become enlightened about “Choice for Men” (C4M), the non-lethal abortion:
    http://www.nas.com/c4m/
    http://www.childsupportanalysis.co.uk/analysis_and_opinion/c4m/c4m_details.htm
    (I don’t know if those are the best sites for an explanation, they just showed up first in google).

    Your logic equates cancer as being a unique person.

    So I’ll ask again: If a human life doesn’t start when there’s a new set of human DNA, when does it start?

  81. I predict that SCOTUS won’t touch this with an 11-foot gavel (unless the lower courts leave them with a ruling that varies from precedent.)

  82. Typical ignorant feminist

    Typical bullshit ad hominem.

  83. It’s a red herring and, if it actually happens in a non-trivial number of cases, which I doubt (inform me!), it’s not the fault of the fetus.
    You might as well claim that it’s OK to shoot all oncoming motorists because they *might* cross over into your lane.

    No, but it does beg the question: should a regular citizen (as opposed to a fireman, cop or soldier, for instance) be required by law to save someone else’s life if they know they will be permanently and severely injured as a result? I’m guessing you would say yes, based on your insistence that a woman should carry a pregnancy to term even if she knows it will cause her permanent injury.

  84. Jennifer,

    Thank you for responding to my comment. Justice requires a multilateral choice to entail multilateral responsibility and a unilateral choice to entail unilateral responsibility. If women can get free money for their choice to raise a child alone, they won’t have much incentive to be responsible in their reproductive choices.

    Can you be more specific about your ideal paternity-suit system in which getting pregnant by Bill Gates isn’t like winning the lottery? Can you make it both workable and libertarian?

  85. The legal determination that brain death delineates the end of human life also implicitly marks the start — the first instance of brain activity. As such, the brain doesn’t form until the closing of the nueral tube, typically the 28th day after conception.

  86. Mr. Le Mur,

    Thank you for the choice-for-men URL. While I disagree with you, I credit you with consistency. You’re anti-reproductive choice for everybody. For politically selfish reasons, I wish you the best of luck exposing the inconsistency of the feminist establishment on this issue.

  87. Can you be more specific about your ideal paternity-suit system in which getting pregnant by Bill Gates isn?t like winning the lottery? Can you make it both workable and libertarian?

    Well, this isn’t something I’ve thought about too much, since it doesn’t affect me; I’ve never been pregnant and if I ever did find myself in that state it is highly unlikely I’d carry the kid to term.

    One idea come to mind, though: first of all, figure out some flat minimum “cost of raising a kid”, maybe based on welfare payments or something, and have that flat cost be what a man would owe, as opposed to basing it on the man’s salary so that Bill Gates has to shell out millions for his one bastard child. Or rather, have HALF of that flat cost be what the man would owe; the mother is responsible for the other half.

    The problem with making any soultion “truly libertarian” is this: libertarianism is kind of like existentialism. You know, “absolute freedom, with absolute responsibility.” But this can only be applied to adults, not to children who never asked to be born and cannot possibly be expected to take absolute responsibility for themselves. So in the case of children, they DO have the right to make some demands of the people who brought them into the world, and any situation involving the care of children is going to have to have some un-libertarian aspects, in that some people, WILL have to take responsibility for this child until the child reaches a certain age.

  88. If the potential father is notified at least 4 weeks before viability, he has the right to legally disclaim his fatherhood. If he is not notified by this time but finds out later, he cannot be held legally responsible unless both parents agree to it.

    Still a flaw in this system. The father, like the mother, chose to engage in the, um, procreative act, and thus willingly assumed the consequences of that act.

    This system allows the mother to unilateraly terminate his parental rights simply by never notifying him. Why should she have the right to do that?

    I’m also a little uncomfortable allowing fathers to unilaterally shrug and walk away if notified early, but I suppose that is the correlation to the mother’s unilateral right to abort.

  89. Mr. F. Le Mur,

    I think that the appropriate question was asked much earlier. Before you can begin to determine when human life begins, you must define what is a human?

    Must a human have a brain? May a human have gills?

    A number of laboratories around the world have living cell colonies from a woman who died in the 50’s. She had a terminal cancer that continued to survive long after her death certificate was signed. Are each of those cell colonies humans? They have the right number of chromosomes and in the right arrangement to be identified as human cells. They grow. They reproduce.

    I would argue that they are not human, nor is an unfertilized egg and a sperm really really close to each other, nor is an unimplanted fertilized egg, nor is a zygote without a brain, nor is an embryo with gills that can only breathe via an umbilical cord.

    I would agree with your assessment that this line of reasoning is dependent on the state of medical science, because only medical science can and has expanded the potential independence of the embryo from the womb. From a libertarian standpoint, it is that capacity for independence that is the crux of the discussion, even though that capacity is dependent on the medical resources available.

    However, if what you are really asking is when does a gamete/zygote/embryo/baby gain a soul, then do say so. That is an entirely different conversation.

    P.S. – (not trying to be a smart ass) “a non-trivial number” == “a significant number”. I’m pretty certain that you meant “a trivial number”.

  90. MF Lemur: There have been a few definitions offered as to when human life starts.

    The first brain activity (typically at 3-4 months of pregnancy).

    The closing of the neural tube (typically about the 28th day after conception).

    The fetus being able to live outside the uterus (variable with the state of medical technology, currently in the neighborhood of 6-7 months).

    Or are all of these “convienient political definitions” proffered by we “typical ignorant feminist[s]”?

  91. –“As far as the SC inventing a phony “right to privacy” which never existed before or since, unfortunately, it’s just as well that they’re finally being called out on their dishonesty.”

    Since no one else has commented on this part of your rant, might I direct your attention to the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States? You may be interested in Amendments IV, X, and especially IX.

  92. On a somewhat less consequential front, this bill would also seem to outlaw in vitro fertilzation in which not all embryos are implanted in a patient’s womb. To get around this problem, the bill might be interpreted to require that all embryos produced by IVF be implanted even if they are genetically defective.
    Additional Thought: Perhaps cloning would be OK because it doesn’t involve human sperm. Does that mean that South Dakota legislators believe that a clone would not be human?

    I think you’re giving legislators way too much credit. They wanted to pass an anti-abortion law, and threw in some nice sounding definitions to make the law self-justifying. I think it’s a little ludicrous to think they actually thought through all potential consequences regarding future technology with any sense of nuance.

  93. Jennifer:
    Well, this isn’t something I’ve thought about too much, since it doesn’t affect me; I’ve never been pregnant and if I ever did find myself in that state it is highly unlikely I’d carry the kid to term.

    I want you to think about it some more, because it could potentially affect me. Imagine how it would feel to be forced to help pay for the raising of a child-even if you could prove in court that it was conceived when your lover lied to you about birth control, and even if you never get to see the kid. Wouldn’t any mandatory payment, no matter how small, be a humiliating outrage?

  94. Captain Holly,

    Yes, Bush is only cutting federal funding. No, nobody has gone to prison over this yet, because Brownback’s bill hasn’t passed yet. With any luck, it won’t; lots of Republicans in Congress are against it, and nearly all Democrats are.

    This research is clearly going to proceed, through private enterprise, and through research abroad.

    So what is the delay accomplishing, other than death for the people unlucky enough to die with bad timing, in the interval between when we could have these cures, and when we actually will?

    Gotta run. Sorry all, if I thread-jacked this away from abortion.

    On that issue, I’ll leave you with this: someday, maybe not as far off as we think, nanotech is going to provide perfect, 100% effective birth control for both men and women. Then, almost overnight, an issue that some people have built their whole miserable fucking lives around will vanish like it was never there. Fun times.

  95. –“As far as the SC inventing a phony “right to privacy” which never existed before or since, unfortunately, it’s just as well that they’re finally being called out on their dishonesty.”

    Since no one else has commented on this part of your rant, might I direct your attention to the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States? You may be interested in Amendments IV, X, and especially IX.

    I’m not sure the 10th Amendment helps pro-choicers that much, since it states that

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

    meaning that if South Dakota wants to outlaw all abortions, then they have every right to do so under the 10th Amendment.

    Indeed, that was the law of the land prior to Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court essentially federalized what until then had been a state issue.

  96. I’m guessing that Xellos meant the IV, V, and IX, rather than the IV, X, and IX. Either way, his/her point is that the complex right to privacy is constructed from the explicit rights of the Bill of Rights. Presumably, a right does not need to be explicitly and unambiguously stated to be supported by the fundamental rights enumerated in the Constitution.

    I’ve heard (and used) the argument against codifying explicit complex rights that can be naturally constructed from the fundamental rights because it can provide the appearance of undermining other comparable constructed rights that are not explicitly codified.

  97. I’m not sure the 10th Amendment helps pro-choicers that much, since it states that

    You can’t use the 10th to turn this into a states rights issue unless you explicitly dispense of the Incorporation Doctrine. Under ID, the 10th re-asserts the rights of the people over state power.

  98. I should probably point out that the Supreme Court will never, ever rule that fetuses are people. Scalia, the court’s most rabid proponent of the force-women-to-have-babies movement, has specifically said that the Constitution is silent on abortion and that if a state votes to legalize abortion, they can do it. Robert “Crazy Old Fascist” Bork has said the same thing, that he doesn’t believe that the Constitution permits abortions but he doesn’t think it forbids them either. Pro-lifers who think that a zygote has more rights than a living woman are going to have to legislate that, even if Roe goes.

  99. “Why is it that the most rabidly “pro-life” people have so little respect for the already living?”

    The already-living are all calling them on their bullshit. The only ones they can still pander to are the unborn.

  100. The critical question is not when you get a new human but when you get a new person.

    The Nazis used similar verbal tricks in their (perfectly legal!) dealings with the Jews and Poles.

    http://dictionary.law.com/
    person
    n. 1) a human being. 2) a corporation treated as…

    My question to you is, if you make fertilized ova persons with all pertaining legal rights and privileges, what happens with miscarriages? Are they to be investigated? This is a very common event. What happens?
    It doesn’t matter.

    Do you ban the pill? The pill works principally by preventing ovulation, but in some percentage of cases it simply prevents implantation of a zygote.
    Does anyone have an obligation to provide a zygote with a place to implant itself?

    Do we prohibit breeding-age women from engaging in these activities in order to protect fetuses? If fetuses are persons, we don’t have a choice, we will have to make such prohihitions.
    I don’t see that it follows.

    However for anyone who thinks a fetus has rights I would like to see them answer these questions.
    Does a fetus have rights?
    If it’s a human, and *if* humans have rights, yes.

    Does a potential mother have rights?
    See above.

    Does the rights of the fetus outweigh that of the potential mothers and why?
    A good question, and one which applies to many forms of human interaction, such as why should I have to put up with an inconvenient neighbor when I can just kill him? After all, he might do something that’ll contribute to me becoming paralyzed in the future.

    And FLM, the fact that embryos are counted as persons due to pro-lifer pressure, not pro-choicers.
    Actually they’re not “counted as persons” except in special circumstances.

    Although Mr. Le Mur would certainly disagree, there’s a good case for abolishing paternity suits, which oppress men in the same way that laws against abortion oppress women.
    I agree that paternity suits should be abolished. Family courts should also be abolished.

    Ignoring the parenthetical nutcasisms, I think it’s at least sensible to point out that human life has, like most things, neither a firm beginning nor a firm ending.
    Heh. Someone’s getting close!

    Perhaps these questions don’t really have suitable answers because:
    – we really don’t yet know enough about “life” to define what it really is, and far more importantly;
    – people who can’t, or won’t, enforce their rights by force don’t have any rights.
    Fetuses and the brain-dead can’t protect themselves, so they’re up for grabs. ‘Tis pretty damned simple. Think “sociobiology.”

    I love yanking peoples’ chains on this issue because most pro-abortion people and their self-serving doubletalk are damned lame to the point of being simple minded.

  101. It should be pretty freakin’ obvious from this discussion that the point where life begins is “nonobvious.”

    I would then ask why this question should not be answered by the legislature.

  102. Mr. FLM,

    Would you please describe for us what you believe the role of women in society should be?

  103. Permitted if Major Physical Health risk

    The law seems to permit an abortion “if there is a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.” See: South Dakota Abortion Act

    I think that perhaps walking is a major bodily function and thus abortion might be permitted if the woman was crippled.

    =========================================

    As far as the purpose: It seems to me that

    1. some of its supporters believe that the Suprime Court may be ready to return the abortion issue to the states, and thus want to have them so say.
    2. Even if the court is not willing to do so, then the court may (re-)define the conditions for constutional protection of abortion, e.g. Only in the case of the mother’s physical health, in the first 30 days? so even if the SD law is overturned, it may give the Right to Life-rs guidlines as to how to write their laws for this court.
  104. If anyone else is curious, I just looked up some real numbers.

    1996 births in S.D. = 10,475
    Infant mortality = 9.5 per 1000
    Abortions performed = 1070

    That 1070 isn’t a huge number really, but in ratio to live births…huh!

    http://www.abortionfacts.com

  105. If pro-lifers have so little sense of morality that they need a law against abortion to keep them from committing infanticide, well, that’s their problem. Pro-choicers tend to be people who have enough of a moral sense that they will always be able to distinguish between killing a fetus and killing a human. I suppose that’s one reason why so many pro-lifers are bloodthirsty and murderous in other contexts (e.g. support of the Iraq war): they have no moral sense, no respect for human life, and require anti-abortion laws to restrain their worst instincts. Pro-choicers, fortunately, are moral people with respect for human life, which means that we can trust ourselves with the morally tricky but necessary task of allowing a woman to terminate a pregnancy.

    The other thing about the pro-life position is that it’s based on one of those if-one-then fallacies: since a person used to be a fetus, that means a fetus is a person. Makes about as much sense as saying that since my chair used to be a tree, therefore a tree is a chair. A tree cannot become a chair unless someone chooses to do the work and make it into a chair, and a fetus cannot become a person unless a woman chooses to do the work and let it feed on her body and grow into a person. The State has no right to force a woman to lend her body to the task of turning a fetus into a person, any more than the State can force a man to turn a tree into a chair.

  106. An unscrupulous woman can use the family law courts to pick a man?s pocket in order to raise his offspring, even if the man did not freely choose to assume the responsibilities of fatherhood. If a woman can refuse to become a parent even after the fact of pregnancy, a man should be able to do the same. And don?t tell me a guy just needs to keep it in his pants if he doesn?t want to pay child support. That?s like saying that women should keep their legs together if they don?t want to have babies.

    Sorry, but any man who, of his own free will, stuck his penis in a fertile woman’s vagina, is consenting to the possibility of fatherhood. It really, honestly is that goddamned simple. Yes, “Keep it in your pants” is, in fact, the correct answer, with the corollaries, “Or get a vasectomy, or always ensure that you are using proper contraception no matter what she tells you.” (To protect against, as you toss out downthread, her lying to you about birth control. If you’re so goddamned eager to get some wet pussy without a condom that you aren’t thinking through the potential repercussions and don’t know the person well enough to know if she’s lying, find a hooker. They’re almost certainly on the pill.)

    And yes, I would tell a woman to keep her legs together (or take the proper precautions all the time, or get a ligation) if she wants to ensure she doesn’t get pregnant. I’ve said it to my own sister.

    I won’t even bother to address the idea that single mothers getting child support somehow live on easy street, because it’s patently stupid.

    This system allows the mother to unilateraly terminate his parental rights simply by never notifying him. Why should she have the right to do tha

    Because she has a uterus and he does not. Blame billions of years of vertebrate evolution.

  107. Do you ban the pill? The pill works principally by preventing ovulation, but in some percentage of cases it simply prevents implantation of a zygote.

    “Does anyone have an obligation to provide a zygote with a place to implant itself?”

    Well, if one has drunk the Kool-Aid of “fertilized egg = person”, then yes. Think about it this way: if I smear grease on a staircase with the intent of causing you to slip and break your neck, then I’m guilty of first degree murder just as much as if I actively push you down the staircase. How would you distinguish taking drugs that one knows will prevent a fertilized egg implanting from taking drugs that cause an already implanted fertilized egg to be discharged? (And please recall that the statute does not make implantation the bar, it makes fertilization the bar.)

  108. Phil:
    Because she has a uterus and he does not. Blame billions of years of vertebrate evolution.

    I thought Reason-style libertarianism opposed the Luddite view that the dictates of nature should be surrendered to rather than transcended. As Camille Paglia has observed, an abortion thwarts nature’s will.

    Whether you know it or not, Phil, your argument for paternity suits parallels an argument against the right to an abortion. A woman can be utterly careless about preventing pregnancy and still get an abortion. Good for the goose, good for the gander.

  109. In truth, the Abortion ban proposal is as much as a Conervative-Evangelical push to preserve a Protestant majority as it is about saving fetuses — and can be seen in agendas from Intelligent Design to the “War against Christmas”.

    Protestant majority in America disappearing, study indicates
    Baptist Press, July 22, 2004

    By giving way to secularization and pluralism in recent years, the Protestant majority in the United States is nearly extinct, a new study concludes . . . The demise of the Protestant majority in America, with the loss of a shared vocabulary and viewpoint, has political and cultural implications, political scientist Corwin Smidt, director of the Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., told USA Today. “Growing pluralism forces an examination of our commonality,” he said. “How do we find basis for agreement” in schools, neighborhoods and voting booths?

  110. Do any of the posters to this thread live in South Dakota? If not, why all the emotion over this bill? All anyone who is unhappy with this bill has to do to escape it is move to another state. It is a lot harder to escape a federal law or a ruling by SCOTUS.

    Abortion is a very polarizing political issue that is not addressed by the plain language of the US Constitution. By the 10th Ammendment, it is appropriate to let the politicos in each state slug it out. It might even generate enthusiasm for local elections and might even inject some competition into local elections. Even Libertarians could try to win some offices and affect change on this issue.

  111. South Dakota’s citizens are protected by the Constitution — all of them.

    9th Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    14th Amendment: Section. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

  112. I’ve always wondered… are there any pro-life atheists?

    Though I can’t recall the Bible ever specifically declaring abortions to be an abomination or any other such prohibition, it seems to me that the intersection is significant between the religious set and the pro-life set.

  113. “Though I can’t recall the Bible ever specifically declaring abortions to be an abomination ”

    Exodus 21:22-25 KJV

    If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: … .

    And yet if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life.

    Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

    Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

  114. Rhampton: maybe this is your point, I can’t tell from your post. fetuses haven’t been born, therefore aren’t yet citizens of the US under the 14th amendment.

    Russ R: in the non-canonical sacred books that weren’t included in the modern Christian Bible, there is a prohibition on abortion

    Fetuses and the brain-dead can’t protect themselves, so they’re up for grabs. ‘Tis pretty damned simple. Think “sociobiology.”

    care to clarify how sociobiology relates to your comment?

    I love yanking peoples’ chains on this issue because most pro-abortion people and their self-serving doubletalk are damned lame to the point of being simple minded.

    Comment by: Mr. F. Le Mur at February 27, 2006 05:55 PM

    Well, you’ve convinced yourself. Clearly, that’s good enough for you. Good work!

    The egg does not actually complete division until it has been penetrated by a sperm, and so at the point in time where the sperm first enters, the fertilized egg actually has an extra set of chromosomes – it’s triploid. A third of the DNA at SD’s moment of fertilization will have to be dumped. It’s hardly a point of genetic completion.

    Comment by: AML at February 27, 2006 02:32 PM

    is that true? where did you get this information? I’m not a human biologist, but I’ve no memory of this from any of my classes, including some where it might have come up (humans are usually used as models for introducting mitosis)

  115. “I’ve always wondered… are there any pro-life atheists?”

    Yes, there’s Libertarians for Life; see a list of their literature at

    http://l4l.org/library/index.html

    From the discussion of the group’s founding:

    “In 1976, when she became pro-life, Doris Gordon founded Libertarians for Life ‘because some libertarian had to blow the whistle.’

    “As libertarians, LFL’s interest in the abortion debate is in everyone’s unalienable rights. LFL’s reasoning is philosophical, not religious. Some LFL associates are religious; *others, such as Gordon, are atheists*.” [emphasis added]

    This thread has been very educational, since I learned that the bill in South Dakota specifically would *not* (a) make birth control a crime, (b) put mothers in prison for miscarriages (or even for abortion), (c) punish doctors for normal medical procedures which inadverdently kill an unborn child, (d) inaugurate a Protestant Reign of Terror. This is reassuring, given some of the (how shall I say) strong language denouncing the bill.

    Even if the Supremes end up striking down the bill, there’s the chance that it will do so by a narrower margin, thus sending the message that *Roe* is not sacred. The original *Roe* decision was 7-2. *Casey* was narrower. Even after Justices White and Rehnquists — the dissenters in 1973 — were replaced by pro-abortionists, there are still dissenters, whose ranks may have been swelled by Roberts and Alito. This means that the Court might go from 7-2 to 5-4, which could send the message that overruling the decision is still possible.

    *Plessy v. Ferguson* (as one of the sponsors noted in the article) was passed in 1896 — starting in 1938, the Supremes chipped away at it without overruling it. In 1954, the decision was *de facto* overruled, and it was overruled *de jure* shortly thereafter. It took over half a century, but the case was overruled. *Roe* is younger than *Plessy,* and it’s more beleagured than Plessy was when Plessy was the same age.

    So of course it’s worth constantly taking the case to the Supreme Court until they get it right!

  116. OK, should have checked before posting. I looked at Wikipedia, and you’re sort-of right, but not really, AML. The egg doesn’t complete its second meiotic division until after the egg and sperm cell membranes fuse. However, in meiosis, the first meiotic division is the reduction division, so the egg (technically secondary oocyte at the point of sperm penetration) is considered to be haploid thereafter. When the sperm cell membrane and egg cell membrane fuse, there are two separate haploid nuclei. that cellular condition is known as “dikaryotic”. before the nuclei fuse, the egg nuclei divides again, and for a brief, shining moment before the egg nucleus completes its second division, there are two sets of chromosomes again, but this is largely a bookkeeping method for thinking about chromosomes. Triploid would really be a single nucleus containing three sets of homologous chromosomes.

    see: human fertilization and meiosis

    I now return to to your unresolvable argument about abortion and when human life begins.

  117. –“As far as the SC inventing a phony “right to privacy” which never existed before or since, unfortunately, it’s just as well that they’re finally being called out on their dishonesty.”

    Since no one else has commented on this part of your rant, might I direct your attention to the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States? You may be interested in Amendments IV, X, and especially IX.

    I’ve never completely understood the rationale between Roe and privacy. It does strike me as a sign of the rabid nature of abortion that so many people are willing, even wanting, to toss out any claim to a right of privacy in order to get rid of abortion. Is it not possible to believe in a right to privacy and still wish to outlaw abortion?

    If there ever was a right not explicitly stated (certainly contemplated), but retained by the people, then privacy surely is it.

  118. “I’ve always wondered… are there any pro-life atheists?”

    Yes, there’s Libertarians for Life; see a list of their literature at

    Pardon my for pointing out the obvious, but as many religion-minded libertarians on this forum have pointed out, “libertarian” doesn’t automatically equal “atheist.”

    (Though, personally, I think it ought to. I’ve never understood how anyone could oppose tyrannical government control of their lives, yet are more than willing make themselves slaves to religion, particularly one with a deity as bloody as the God of Abraham. It their Bible is any indication, Yahweh/Jehova/Allah is a more horrific tyrant than Hitler, Stalin, Mao and all the other human butchers in our history.

    Then again, it’s a damn good thing God doesn’t exist. Sadly, his followers do.)

  119. Exodus 21:22-25 KJV

    Ah, typical Fundie tactic; cherry pick the Scriptures to find excuses for your mixed up logic as if The Bible was any sort of authority on anything. What’s worse, you cleverly edited the quote to make it seem that the punishment for causing a miscarriage was death. It wasn’t:

    “And if men struggle and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”

    Exodus 21:22-25

    The only penalty for death is if the mother dies in the attack. The ancient Hebrews may have treated women as chattle, but at least they knew that they were necessary to make future ancient Hebrews, thus the harsher penalty. On the other hand, if the woman miscarries, then the man only has to pay a fine.

    If the Laws of Moses are divinely inspired and the Christian God vehemently disaproves of abortion, then why tell Moses to let the man off with a slap on the wrist as oppose to being executed? Could it be that the so-called God of Abraham doesn’t really care about a fetus?

    Or, it’s a bullshit law that reflects the property model of male/female relations of a barbaric nomad culture?

    I wonder which it is.

  120. Biologist,

    Touche. I couldn’t remember which meitic division came first. Embryology was a few years ago.

  121. Edit: …and the Judeo-Christian God vehemently…

  122. Ironically, Left-leaning Christian Brian Elroy McKinley makes a better argument than I can on how the Bible doesn’t really forbid Abortion:

    What has been so clearly demonstrated by the passage in Exodus – the fact that God does not consider a fetus a human person – can also be seen in a variety of other Bible verses. In Leviticus 27:6 a monetary value was placed on children, but not until they reached one month old (any younger had no value). Likewise, in Numbers 3:15 a census was commanded, but the Jews were told only to count those one month old and above – anything less, particularly a fetus, was not counted as a human person. In Ezekiel 37:8-10 we watch as God re-animates dead bones into living soldiers, but the passage makes the interesting note that they were not alive as persons until their first breath. Likewise, in Genesis 2:7, Adam had a human form and a vibrant new body but he only becomes a fully-alive human person after God makes him breathe. And in the same book, in Genesis 38:24, we read about a pregnant woman condemned to death by burning. Though the leaders of Israel knew the woman was carrying a fetus, this was not taken into consideration. If indeed the Jews, and the God who instructed them, believed the fetus to be an equal human person to the mother, then why would they let the fetus die for the mother’s crimes? The truth is simple. A fetus is not a human person, and its destruction is not a murder. Period.

  123. Will this law make the fetus a separate “person” legally?
    What will happen when the mother needs legal medications that have a potential risk to the fetus?
    At this time most women discuss this with their doctors and do the best they can.
    If the fetus is a seperate person wouldn’t the court deny any medication and/or appoint someone to represent the interests of the fetus?

    In order to make the fetus a person you have to take away rights from women.

  124. Will this law make the fetus a separate “person” legally?
    What will happen when the mother needs legal medications that have a potential risk to the fetus?
    At this time most women discuss this with their doctors and do the best they can.
    If the fetus is a seperate person wouldn’t the court deny any medication and/or appoint someone to represent the interests of the fetus?

    In order to make the fetus a person you have to take away rights from women.

  125. Will this law make the fetus a separate “person” legally?
    What will happen when the mother needs legal medications that have a potential risk to the fetus?
    At this time most women discuss this with their doctors and do the best they can.
    If the fetus is a separate person wouldn’t the court deny any medication and/or appoint someone to represent the interests of the fetus?

    In order to make the fetus a person you have to take away rights from women.

  126. Will this law make the fetus a separate “person” legally?
    What will happen when the mother needs legal medications that have a potential risk to the fetus?
    At this time most women discuss this with their doctors and do the best they can.
    If the fetus is a separate person wouldn’t the court deny any medication and/or appoint someone to represent the interests of the fetus?

    In order to make the fetus a person you have to take away rights from women.

  127. sorry for the extra posts!

  128. I direct your attention to the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States?

    The Constitution makes no mention, implicitly or explicitly, of a right to privacy.

    You may be interested in Amendments IV

    … which mentions no right to privacy, and deals with the permissible penalties and procedures of criminal justice, which have no bearing on the abortion issue.

    [Amendment] X

    … which, the Constitution not giving the federal government the power to regulate matters of abortion, leaves the abortion issue in the hands of the states…

    and [Amendment] IX

    … which no more protects the “right to privacy” than it protects the “right to commit rape”, the “right to steal”, or the “right to murder”. Remember, ALL laws violate what some people consider their right. The Ninth amendment says “if you have a right, we’re not taking it away” — not “you have every right you think you’re entitled to”. There was no “right to private use of your own body in the manner of your choosing”, then OR now, that was recognized either by the public or by the courts.

    This is, of course, all moot, because even if the Constitution did protect a right to privacy, the right to privacy does not equal the right to an abortion. The right to privacy doesn’t, for example, give me the right to murder somebody in my basement and say “what I do in my house is my private business”. The right to privacy only protects abortion if it is given that fetuses have no rights of their own.

    That’s what is really shocking about Roe vs Wade — not that the court found a spurious “right to privacy” that it has studiously ignored in far-more-applicable situations (drug use, prostitution, etc), but that the court arrogated to itself the power to find that a class of organisms the legislature had declared to be human were, in fact, NOT human and not entitled to any rights at all. If some future court takes it upon itself to declare that women aren’t people and thus aren’t entitled to Constitutional protects, what exactly are Roe supporters — having granted the Courts the power to make such declarations — going to use to argue that the Courts are wrong? It’s not like there isn’t plenty of precedent, going back thousands of years, for treating women as less than fully human.

    Is it not possible to believe in a right to privacy and still wish to outlaw abortion?

    It is possible to believe in a right to privacy and recognize that the Constitution doesn’t protect it, and to believe that abortion should be legal while realizing that the process which MADE it legal was flagrantly undemocratic and unconstitutional.

  129. >>The Constitution makes no mention, implicitly or explicitly, of a right to privacy.

  130. okay, I shouldn’t type these things at 3 a.m. when I have insomnia. Make that “implicit” and not “implicity” and “that’s” and not “that'”.

    Dyslexia and lack of sleep are a bad combination.

    On another note related to this thread, the Iowa Legislature banned cloning in the state a few years ago, and the result was that an entire group of prominent medical researchers left the University of Iowa Medical School and took their grant dollars with them. The docs didn’t want to risk going to jail for doing their research.

    –Mark
    P.S. — If cloning is banned, what are we going to do about all the identical twins in the world?

  131. “Exodus 21:22-25 KJV

    Ah, typical Fundie tactic; cherry pick the Scriptures to find excuses for your mixed up logic as if The Bible was any sort of authority on anything. What’s worse, you cleverly edited the quote to make it seem that the punishment for causing a miscarriage was death. It wasn’t:”

    What are you talking about? The post above me asked if there was anything in the Bible about abortion and I gave it to him. I edited out the punishment if there were no further damage, because it was irrelevant to the discussion. I gave the reference so anyone so inclined could read the entire passage in context. So how am I trying to deceive anyone of anything?

    You say the extra damage refers only to the mother. I say the passage means what it says. If you want to know what the Pope says, ask the Pope. If you want to know what your church says, ask your priest, rabbi or immam.

    Never did I say the United States should adopt the Bible as its Constitution. Never did I even express an opinion on abortion. I said it was a very polarizing political issue, and I think the tone of this thread supports my statement.

  132. Sorry for turning this into a bible quoting and interpreting issue. That wasn’t my intention.

    What I was trying to determine was whether or not the pro-lifer set is entirely a sub-set of the religious set.

    If there were a significant number of non-religious pro-lifers I would concede that it’s not strictly a religious issue. That would also imply that there is probably a rational (i.e. non-religious) argument out there opposing abortion. To date I haven’t heard it.

  133. –“The Constitution makes no mention, implicitly or explicitly, of a right to privacy.”

    Thank you for the selective reading. Note the “Bill of Rights” segment of the comment. I’ll repeat Mark’s comment about implicitly.

    –“which mentions no right to privacy,”

    Protection from being searched has nothing to do with privacy then? Am I understanding your contention correctly?

    –“leaves the abortion issue in the hands of the states.”

    Correct, as far as it goes. You might want to review Gideon v. Wainwright on that.

    –“which no more protects the “right to privacy” than it protects the “right to commit rape”, the “right to steal”, or the “right to murder”.”

    And now you equate privacy with murder, theft and rape. Thank you for your well-reasoned arguments.

    –“The right to privacy only protects abortion if it is given that fetuses have no rights of their own.”

    Which is where the debate should be focusing, but people do insist on bringing in complaints about not being able to find a right to privacy in the Constitution. People making that argument would be well served by reading the Federalist Papers (IIRC #84 would be a good place to start)

  134. “The post above me asked if there was anything in the Bible about abortion and I gave it to him.”

    He asked you if anything in the bible called abortion an “abomination,” and you failed to give that to him. But nice try anyway, liar.

  135. –“The Constitution makes no mention, implicitly or explicitly, of a right to privacy.”

    Thank you for the selective reading. Note the “Bill of Rights” segment of the comment. I’ll repeat Mark’s comment about implicitly.

    It is ironic that you criticize my “selective reading”, given that I specifically addressed the Bill of Rights in the post you’re quoting. And incidently, the Bill of Rights, like all amendments, is part of the Constitution. So when I say “the Constitution doesn’t contain that right”, I am obviously referring to the Bill of Rights as well.

    There is no implicit right to privacy in the Constitution — quite the opposite. The Constitution, in the 4th amendment, quite explicitly refers to the right of the government to *violate* your privacy provided they do so in a reasonable manner and without violating due process.

    Protection from being searched has nothing to do with privacy then? Am I understanding your contention correctly?

    You aren’t protected from being searched. You’re protected from unreasonable and warrantless searches. Laws banning abortion do not constitute searches at all, let alone unreasonable ones. The only relevance of “privacy” is that by definition anything that needs to be searched must have been private, otherwise its contents would have been publically known already. But, as noted above, there is no “right to privacy” implied here, as the government is clearly granted the right to invade your privacy in the service of the law.

    “leaves the abortion issue in the hands of the states.

    Correct, as far as it goes.

    No — correct, period. Laws banning abortion violate no Constitutional rights, and regulation of abortion is not among the enumerated powers of Congress, ergo this is a matter for the states.

    “which no more protects the “right to privacy” than it protects the “right to commit rape”, the “right to steal”, or the “right to murder”.”

    And now you equate privacy with murder, theft and rape.

    I can see how a sufficiently stupid person would think I equated those three things, but I in fact did not. My point is that none of those three “rights” has any Constitutional basis. The Ninth only protects rights that already existed, not every right that pops into somebody’s head. There was and is no “right to privacy” that extended to cover what individuals did with their bodies. That’s why laws against everything from sodomy to drug use were (and in most cases still are) Constitutional for centuries, until the Court decided to invent a new right and apply it inconsistently to cases of its choosing.

    Thank you for your well-reasoned arguments.

    Your argument consists of “there’s a right to privacy, because I say so. And it somehow protects abortion, because I say so. And the states can’t regulate it, because I say so”. You’re not really in a position to criticize other peoples’ arguments. Come back when you have an argument of your own to defend.

    People making that argument would be well served by reading the Federalist Papers (IIRC #84 would be a good place to start)

    People making THAT argument should pause to remember that the Federalist Papers represent the opinions of only some of the people who put together the Constitution, and have no force of law.

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