Another Front Opens in the Abortion War

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Possibily emboldened by recent Supreme Court appointments, anti-abortion legislators in several states are introducing laws mandating an ultrasound or sonogram examination of every fetus prior to an abortion. The procedure is done for no medical reason whatsoever and is clearly designed to make getting abortions even more burdensome. The doctor is then required to offer the patient an opportunity to view the ultrasound or sonogram image. One such model statute is the "Full Disclosure Ultrasound Act" in Georgia.

Prolife lobbyist, Kevin Harris hailed the proposed statute and claimed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that "some research studies show that 65 to 75 percent of pregnant women who view sonograms before deciding about an abortion decide to carry out their pregnancies." I wonder in what peer-reviewed journals such studies appeared?

Still, such images may or may not have a powerful influence on women's abortion decisions. Test yourself by looking at some sonograms right here. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey finds that 60 percent of abortions occur prior to 8 weeks of gestation (image and another) and 88 percent before the 13th week (image and another).

The bottom line is that even in the extremely unlikely event that abortion opponents do manage to get the procedure banned in the United States, that will simply mean that poor American women will resort again to illegal abortions and well off women will use abortion clinics in Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

NEXT: Libertarians and the Industrial Revolution

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  1. I just don’t get how the american women are sitting back quietly doing nothing as they right to choose is slowly being systematically taken away. Your democracy is rapidly turning into a theocracy

  2. and well off women will use abortion clinics in Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

    Of course, unless, the states in question impose a restraining order that prevents women from leaving in order to get one. I believe South Dakota has something like this in its provision.

    That’s the part that really creeps me out. That not only will a state prevent you from getting an abortion within their borders, they will prevent you from getting one anywhere else.

  3. Say what Bob? What has been taken away? This is the way the system works…best not to claim victory (or defeat) until there’s evidence to support it.

  4. Cue “libertarian” abortion opponents defending the requiring of women to submit to an unneeded (and possibly costly) medical procedure on the twin bases of “it isn’t hurting anyone” and “it just gives her more information” in 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . .

  5. So judging by the differences in the embryo photos, the abortion debate boils down to the Animal Farmish “forelegs good, two legs bad.”

  6. Bob,

    I don’t think I would characterize American women as “sitting back quietly doing nothing”. It’s not just a women’s issue, anyway.

  7. Poor women in most states are already effectivly denied access to abortion. In particular the Double visit requirment has been very effective. Where is the nation wide support for all these unwanted children once they survive the abortion decsion? It seems to me the next answer is personal responsibility, its not the States responsibility to raise your child, the child the state did not allow you to terminate during the unwanted pregnancy.

  8. Anything that makes getting an abortion more difficult or more costly is a step in the right direction.

    – Josh

  9. Fucking.

    Stupid.

  10. An ultrasound – at hospital or women’s clinic – is a pretty punk barrier. I suspect the real intention is the same as those gruesome films at the “counselling centers” – get the girls to see they’re killing a baby.

    As for the 65-to-75% quote, I can believe it – because the question “do you want to see the photo?” screens out the most committed candidates, leaving those “on the fence” and vulnerable to manipulation.

    If Congress had any guts, we could put an end to this damn nonsense.

  11. Why not just require an artist’s rendition of what the grown child might look like? …in front of a Christmas tree!

  12. As for the 65-to-75% quote, I can believe it – because the question “do you want to see the photo?” screens out the most committed candidates, leaving those “on the fence” and vulnerable to manipulation.

    I agree, this is complete manipulation. The ultrasound screening is playing on most women’s sympathetic natures. What really bothers me, though, is that it is just another impractical obstacle/inconvience to getting an abortion.

    If Congress had any guts, we could put an end to this damn nonsense.

    I wholeheartedly agree, except I’m not confident that guts are what Congress is lacking. I’m afraid that some/many of them might not entirely disagree with the proponents of these bills.

    The pro-life crowd basically boils down to people who have no empathy for women. Pro-lifers are one of the (arguably) legitimate (I would argue illegitimate) misogynist groups around in western civilization.

  13. I’m feeling kind of Leninist about this nowadays. Not being able to get pregnant helps.

    Ok, go ahead and overturn Roe, and make every single election from dogcatcher on up about abortion. Maybe the democrats would start winning national elections then. (They’ve got to start doing that sooner or later).

    Open the gates to the republican nutfarm and let 1000 freak flags fly.

  14. Brian,
    How dare you sully the good name of freaks everywhere by equating us with Republicans!

  15. The ultrasound screening is playing on most women’s sympathetic natures.

    Um, I have to ask … Sympathetic? To what?

  16. Not possessing a womb I have a bit less at stake than women on this issue. Personally, if a state is going to pass laws demanding that a fetus be carried full term they should also pass a law similar to what Florida has at the same time. In FL you can leave a baby you can’t/don’t want to care for at an ‘approved’ place (Hospitals, Firehouses, etc) and walk away without fear of prosecution for abandonment. This was done to counter the whole “baby in trash can” scenario.

    I think the taxpayers who vote for this bunk legislation (or vote for the idiots who draft it) should have to pay for the care of the unwanted child directly. Perhaps they could do a lottery like getting picked for Jury Duty.

    “Congratulations voter number 011245978, you are now the proud parent of a bouncing baby girl!”

  17. Why do you think women are all pro-choice?

    Why do you think it’s wrong for women to see what it is they are killing? If abortion is so dandy, why do you think an ultrasound picture will be a deterrent?

    If this is such a winning issue for the Dems, why do they have to rely on the courts? Electoral evidence would suggest that it’s quite the opposite.

    These are the first stats I’ve seen on the timing of abortions. Thanks for the info. It would also be interesting to see stats on racial distribution. One person will argue that blacks are aborting themselves out of existence, and another will complain about all the young black women deliberately getting pregnant at an early age. It’s hard to believe that they are both right.

  18. The ultrasound screening is playing on most women’s sympathetic natures.

    Stevo,

    The traditional stereotype of women is that they are caring, nurturing, ahem, “motherly”. Hence, sympathetic. I could see how forcing them to see an ultrasound may actually play games with their maternal instincts (temporarily). The problem with this approach is still that it is only temporary. So say this becomes law: now if their statistics are correct, 65%-75% of women will carry their fetuses to term instead of having an abortion. That doesn’t change the fact that the child, once it is born, may not be wanted for the next 18 years of its existence, and will consequently have worse parenting, neglect, poverty, etc.

    Pro-lifers want to believe that by tricking women’s maternal instincts temporarily (by showing them an ultrasound of the fetus or embryo) that the women who are going to clinics for abortions are suddenly going to become gung-ho, model parents for these “unborn angels”. That is a pipedream. What will probably happen is that there will just be a lot more neglected, unhappy children raised by resentful parents. Like Paul said, this damn nonsense needs to come to an end.

  19. Personally, if a state is going to pass laws demanding that a fetus be carried full term they should also pass a law similar to what Florida has at the same time. In FL you can leave a baby you can’t/don’t want to care for at an ‘approved’ place (Hospitals, Firehouses, etc) and walk away without fear of prosecution for abandonment. This was done to counter the whole “baby in trash can” scenario.

    Great idea. If mom doesn’t want it, then dad gets first choice. Finally, it goes to the Pentagon…

    Where are all the libertarians demanding that Fathers have equal say in whether or not a child is aborted?

  20. If the state is going to require unnecessary medical procedures like ultrasounds, then the state should pay for them as well.

  21. Okay — so this is basically like a law that requires you, before you buy a fur coat, to look at a photo of a baby harp seal?

    Maybe.

  22. “the requiring of women to submit to an unneeded (and possibly costly) medical procedure on the twin bases of “it isn’t hurting anyone” and “it just gives her more information””

    Sort of like requiring women to have a doctor’s prescription before they can get birth control pills.

  23. Pro-lifers want to believe that by tricking women’s maternal instincts temporarily (by showing them an ultrasound of the fetus or embryo) that the women who are going to clinics for abortions are suddenly going to become gung-ho, model parents for these “unborn angels”. That is a pipedream. What will probably happen is that there will just be a lot more neglected, unhappy children raised by resentful parents. Like Paul said, this damn nonsense needs to come to an end.

    What fraction of children are currently raised by “gung ho, model parents”?

    How does this differ from generations prior to the legalization of abortion?

    Why are abortions much more common now, than they were in the years immediately after Roe v Wade?

    The pro-life crowd basically boils down to people who have no empathy for women. Pro-lifers are one of the (arguably) legitimate (I would argue illegitimate) misogynist groups around in western civilization.

    Why is it the Right that has a reputation for unsubstantiated hyperbole in this debate? I see nothing here but anecdote and a fear of using the democractic process for setting policy. If your assumption is correct that all women are pro-abortion, then you have nothing to fear. Otherwise, you have to explain why roughly 1/2 of all women are misogynist.

  24. Stevo,

    That’s a pretty fair analogy. I think the ultrasounds would produce more sympathy, though, naturally because it is a “same species” relation. Basically, the photo technique is trying to affect natural instincts. In that sense, someone might try to argue that abortion is “perverse”, but I think the sociobiology behind the choice to get an abortion is in reality much more complicated than that. And even if it weren’t, the ultimate fact is that it is the woman’s body and she can do what she wants with it.

  25. “I could see how forcing them to see an ultrasound may actually play games with their maternal instincts (temporarily).”

    You’re making a pretty gigantic leap to assume women have any such thing as “maternal instincts.” I would say the desire that any random woman has to be a parent is about the same as that of any random man.

    I’m a woman, but I’ve always viewed parenthood as a rather messy and expensive hassle that would keep me from doing the things I enjoy.

  26. It would be interesting to do a study and ask women who have had abortions whether they would have liked to see an ultrasound before doing the procedure.

    If it turned out that many of them would, would this be less objectionable to some of you?

    Rather than convincing women that the fetus is “human” and turning them away from the abortion, it might put women’s minds at ease, when they see that little 8 week old thing and realize that it’s just an embryo.

  27. Otherwise, you have to explain why roughly 1/2 of all women are misogynist.

    Why do I have to explain why, in theory, 1/2 of all women are misogynist? I could just as easily say that those women are statists. Why do many women participate in most misogynist organized religions? I don’t know. I suppose I would have to be one of those harebrained participant women to know such things.

    Why are abortions much more common now, than they were in the years immediately after Roe v Wade?

    Why are strip clubs more common now than in the 1950’s? It’s called societal acceptance. I’m sure your wondering why non-segregated waiting rooms are more common now than before the civil rights movement, too.

  28. Smacky, you rock.

  29. From experience I can tell you that there is a difference between seeing a picture of a random fetus and seeing an ultrasound of your future child. So maybe a better analogy would be that you have to raise the seal pups before they turn them into your fur coat.

  30. I just don’t get how the american women are sitting back quietly doing nothing as they right to choose is slowly being systematically taken away. Your democracy is rapidly turning into a theocracy

    What do you mean? Few American women support the right to choose on nearly every issue. Oh, you mean the right to choose abortion? OK!

    I am totally for abortion myself. Not only do I think it should be legal, but I think it is completly moral, and should be practiced without any restrictions at all. A woman’s body is strictly her property, and so long as the baby is physically attached to the woman and sharing the same blood supply, it IS the woman, period. I think as a society, we should make sure that any woman who wants an abortion, can have an abortion, no questions asked (notice, I said “we as a society”, “society” != “government”. I think private charities can better provide abortion on demand than some sort of government clinic)

    However, most “pro-choice” people are the most anti-choice people out there. Sure, they feel a woman has a right to choose an abortion, but they think that is the only issue that a woman should have a right to choose. They don’t feel woman have a right to send children to a school of their choice. They don’t feel that a woman has a right to disipline their child as they choose. They don’t feel a woman has a right to get a C-Section instead of having a natural birth, because that way they can schedule when to have a child and it is more convienient. They don’t feel that a woman should be allowed to keep most of her paycheck and spend it however she wants. They don’t feel that a woman should be able to take whatever drugs or medicines or plant products they choose. They don’t feel a woman should be able to sell her body, or in some cases not even show her tits. They don’t feel a woman should be able to choose to run a political advertisment critizing an elected official 60 days within an election. They don’t feel a woman should be allowed to smoke in a bar. They sure as hell don’t want to allow a woman to choose baby formula instead of breastfeeding :).

    A few Libertarians excluded, most “pro-choice” people feel that every choice EXCEPT abortion should be made for women by the government. Heck, even most so-called “pro-choice” people who think abortion should be legal think it should be strickly regulated and monitored by the government.

    So, no, sorry, the American Woman isn’t going to stand up for her right to choose an abortion. The American Women are largely ideologicaly anti-choice (like I said, a few libertarians excepted). Once you accept that the government should regulate every aspect of your life, you are not going to have the zeal to defend your right to “choose” to have an abortion, because deep down most “pro-choice” woman don’t have any ideological belief in a woman’s right to choose.

    Having your choices being restricted by the government is something they cherish, something they feel is sacred, and something they support with all of their heart. They are not going to risk challenging total government control by asserting that women have an absolute right to anything.

  31. Dear everyone who thinks a woman should be forced to keep a kid she doesn’t want,

    How many of them are you going to adopt?

    Love,
    Tim

  32. I believe that the number of abortions peaked in the early 1980’s, which would be the “years immediately after Roe.” There are not, in fact, more abortions now that there were 30 years ago.

    Bubba, I’ve asked this of several anti-abortion activists and I’ve never gotten an answer. Please describe what you think the role of women in society should be? What kind of education? employment opportunities? position in the family?

  33. Pirate Jo,

    Aw, thanks – I was thinking the same thing about your 3:14pm comment.

    bubba,

    You were essentially asking me to explain the logic behind other people’s bad logic (or no logic at all). I can’t explain why many people think that other people (and also the government) know what’s best for them. Maybe their own parents were so good that they think everyone else will make great decisions for them, too. Anyway, nobody is going to make decisions for me as long as I can help it.

  34. I was just reading about this in Freakanomics. The abortion rate has been roughly constant since the early 80’s. Given population increases, there are more abortions in the U.S. today than another other time.

  35. I don’t know that the baby seal analogy is best here, either.

    Like we discussed in the earlier thread on abortion, it’s more similar to end-of-life. So having an ultrasound would be similar to seeing the EKG readout of a braindead person, if you were the person who had to pull the plug.

  36. EKG? EEG? I forget. Anway, you get the picture.

  37. I put the latest figures on the number of abortions in a January column about Roe v. Wade’s 33rd anniversary. For those interested see below:

    “First, the number of abortions is down since the early 1990s. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 1973, the year Roe v. Wade was decided, there were 615,831 abortions which translates to an abortion ratio of 196 abortions per 1,000 live births and an abortion rate of 14 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. The number of abortions peaked in 1990 at 1,429,247, yielding a ratio of 344 abortions per 1,000 live births and a rate of 24 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. From that high, the number of abortions reported to the CDC had declined to 854,122 by 2002. (This number is artificially low, however. California, Alaska and New Hampshire stopped reporting their data to the CDC in 1998. In one year, the CDC estimated that women in California had 275,000 abortions, which would boost the U.S. total to more than 1 million.)

    The Alan Guttmacher Institute compiles its own data from surveys of abortion providers. The institute’s data indicate that there were about 800,000 abortions in 1973 and that the number doubled to around 1.6 million in 1990. Since then the number fell to just under 1.3 million in 2002. This implies that the CDC is missing data for about 450,000 abortions.

    In any case, both data sets agree that the number of abortions in the United States declined during the 1990s and then essentially stabilized in the past few years.”

  38. “Why do you think it’s wrong for women to see what it is they are killing? If abortion is so dandy, why do you think an ultrasound picture will be a deterrent?”

    How about this:

    BECAUSE IT’S A FUCKING WASTE OF MEDICAL RESOURCES THAT COULD OTHERWISE BE PUT TO SOME SORT OF GOOD USE.

    But no, you either want to stick the woman with a bill for an unecessary medical procedure, or make me pay for it.

    Bubba, you’re a goddamned fuckwit.

  39. What would be interesting would be to find out how many of the women getting abortions were using any kind of contraceptive. Between the Pill and condoms and a few dozen other birth control methods, I’m just having a hard time figuring out why all these unwanted pregnancies happen in the first place! It is sad that the political forces trying to make abortion illegal are the same ones keeping birth control from being more widely and freely accessible. There is no other reason than politics, for example, that birth control pills aren’t simply sold over the counter at a drugstore.

  40. Dear everyone who thinks a woman should be forced to keep a kid she doesn’t want,

    How many of them are you going to adopt?

    Love,
    Tim

    Dear everyone who thinks all my slaves ought be freed,

    Are you volunteering to pick my cotton?

    (My wife and children need to be fed, you know.)

    Love,

    Stevo

    Sorry, this is one of those arguments that really bugs me. How does taking a particular moral stance about another person’s actions translate into transfering responsibility for that person’s actions onto oneself?

  41. and to followup on GBMD’s comment on Freakonomics…

    If abortion is outlawed, Stephen Leavitt (Freakonomics author) makes an interesting argument that crime would go back up to pre-ROE levels. Not that simple of course, but the data is pretty strongly correlated.

    Push on one side of the balloon and it bulges out somewhere else…we ready to fund another round of jails?

  42. gaijin-

    A month or so ago some of Leavitt’s calculations were questioned. I think it was in the Economist, but I could be wrong on that.

    That’s not meant as an argument for or against either side, just a cautionary note concerning a source, that’s all.

  43. Between the Pill and condoms and a few dozen other birth control methods, I’m just having a hard time figuring out why all these unwanted pregnancies happen in the first place! It is sad that the political forces trying to make abortion illegal are the same ones keeping birth control from being more widely and freely accessible. There is no other reason than politics, for example, that birth control pills aren’t simply sold over the counter at a drugstore.

    Condoms are available without a prescription, and they are the birth control option that put men in charge of contraception. Whereas the birth-control options that put women in charge of contraception require prescriptions.

  44. Okay, I’ll be a pest. Please, would one of the antiabortion advocates please describe for me what your movement believes the proper role of women should be in society? What kind of schooling? what sort of job opportunities? what rights to own property? what sort of position in the family?

  45. “Sorry, this is one of those arguments that really bugs me. How does taking a particular moral stance about another person’s actions translate into transfering responsibility for that person’s actions onto oneself?”

    When one is forcing someone else to do something, arguably at gunpoint, then it seems perfectly reasonable that the person holding the gun is responsible for the actions that take place.

  46. A woman’s body is strictly her property, and so long as the baby is physically attached to the woman and sharing the same blood supply, it IS the woman, period.

    So, RexRhino, you believe that after normal delivery of a healthy, full-term baby, the mother should be able to take a hammer to its skull, so long as the umbilical cord isn’t cut. That doing so would be morally on par with trimming a toenail.

    Oookay.

  47. When one is forcing someone else to do something, arguably at gunpoint, then it seems perfectly reasonable that the person holding the gun is responsible for the actions that take place.

    So, if you owe a debt to someone, and they put a lien on your house and foreclose on it, requiring the sheriff to evict you and putting you and your family on the street,

    I have an obligation to let you move in with me because I support the strict enforcement of financial obligations?

    Sorry, I don’t buy it.

  48. When one is forcing someone else to do something, arguably at gunpoint, then it seems perfectly reasonable that the person holding the gun is responsible for the actions that take place.

    So if you do force a plantation owner to free his slaves, you are obligated to pick his cotton (or pay someone else to do so)?

  49. RC Dean, I’d say not, because the person signed a contract to begin with stipulating that they could be evicted for not paying. It’s their own fault.

  50. Where are all the libertarians demanding that Fathers have equal say in whether or not a child is aborted?

    I’ll tell you what – try parking your car in someone else’s driveway, and find out how much of an equal say you get when they have it towed to the city pound.

    If you don’t want your children aborted, then I’d say it’s your responsibility to be careful where you plant them.

  51. Condoms are available without a prescription, and they are the birth control option that put men in charge of contraception. Whereas the birth-control options that put women in charge of contraception require prescriptions.

    While I agree with the sentiment about birth control, there are good risk-factor reasons for requiring that a chemical birth control require a prescription…whereas a physical barrier of inert material is easier to get…it isn;t really about gender.

  52. So, if you owe a debt to someone, and they put a lien on your house and foreclose on it, requiring the sheriff to evict you and putting you and your family on the street,

    I have an obligation to let you move in with me because I support the strict enforcement of financial obligations?

    That was a shitty argument. Nobody held a gun to your head and made you loan them money. If they did, the gun-holder would have to let them move in – using the transference of responsibility argument.

  53. Why are strip clubs more common now than in the 1950’s? It’s called societal acceptance. I’m sure your wondering why non-segregated waiting rooms are more common now than before the civil rights movement, too.

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not the product of the Supreme Court.

    My point on abortion stats is that in 1973-75, there wasn’t an immediate spike to current abortion levels. This implies that there wasn’t a huge demand for legal abortions until AFTER they became legal. For more overanalysis, see Freakanomics as mentioned, or google “The Roe Effect.” Both make excellent points. Both make some assumptions I’m not completely sold on.

    Bubba, I’ve asked this of several anti-abortion activists and I’ve never gotten an answer. Please describe what you think the role of women in society should be? What kind of education? employment opportunities? position in the family?

    Wow, I’ll pretend this question isn’t as loaded as a CBS poll, and I’ll bite. I think women should be able to do whatever they want. My wife earns much more than I. She’s more pro-Life than I. I’d vote for Condoleeza. What, that’s not the answer you expected?

    My point is not that abortion is right or wrong. My point is that the demagoguery on this thread is coming entirely from the pro-abortion crowd. (“My view is self-evident and the rest of you are evil women-haters.”) If I were governor for a day, I’d put a set of simple questions on the ballot, with better wording.

    1. Abortion shall not be allowed after proof of conception/implantation. yes/no
    2. Abortion shall be allowed up to 1 month after conception. yes/no
    3….
    10. Abortion shall be allowed up to the moment of birth. yes/no.
    11. Abortion shall be allowed up to the age of 6 in the event of a really icky disease. yes/no

    For good measure, I’d tie the odd numbers to a cigarette tax, and the even ones to campaign finance reform.

    This is a question of public policy that balances the rights of one person, the mother, against others: the father, society, the fetus. Let the freakin’ electorate decide. Then, maybe our elections can be about something other than abortion and judges.

    I have a real problem with lefties who encourage “undesirable” parents to have abortions. It reminds me too much of eugenics: http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110008024

  54. “there are good risk-factor reasons for requiring that a chemical birth control require a prescription”

    Not completely sure on this one, but I believe this is a common misconception and that birth control pills have fewer side effects than aspirin. Maybe a science expert can confirm or deny this, but aren’t birth control pills considered to be a statin?

  55. “It’s not just a women’s issue, anyway.”

    smackster – i must respectfully disagree.

  56. Please, would one of the antiabortion advocates please describe for me what your movement believes the proper role of women should be in society? What kind of schooling? what sort of job opportunities? what rights to own property? what sort of position in the family?

    Since I’m one of the people who often takes on the role of Blastocyst’s Advocate around here, I’ll take a crack at it.

    However, it’s a very broad question, and almost impossible to answer from a libertarian perspective. Rather than prescribe a specific role for women in society, I’d have to answer: Whatever a woman chooses or wishes to pursue, subject to whatever resources she is able to rightfully acquire.

    With the caveat that some choices are mutually exclusive, or at least very difficult to achieve simultaneously. Personally, I’d love to take on the role of highly paid, non-working, likable, physically fit, bar-hopping, gourmand, well-read playboy and beloved husband, as well as a father/teacher figure with the independence and flexibility of the childless, but I’m having a hard time having it all. To achieve some things, I’ll have to forego some others.

  57. Push on one side of the balloon and it bulges out somewhere else…we ready to fund another round of jails?

    Given a choice between the two, I’d rather have someone abort an 8-week-old embryo than be bludgeoned to death in my own home by that unwanted embryo, who has since grown up into a maladjusted or neglected orphan. Likewise, I’d rather have an embryo disposed of than have it molested, as a child, by a daycare worker while the mother is not around to care for it properly. Bottom line of these gruesome illustrations: taking care of a child properly is a difficult full-time job, and it’s no one else’s decision except the woman herself to determine if she is capable of being a good and proper mother.

    So if you do force a plantation owner to free his slaves, you are obligated to pick his cotton (or pay someone else to do so)?

    No, because the plantation owner was guilty of theft of services to begin with. The onus is still on the slave owner to pay someone to pick his cotton for him.

    So, if you owe a debt to someone, and they put a lien on your house and foreclose on it, requiring the sheriff to evict you and putting you and your family on the street,
    I have an obligation to let you move in with me because I support the strict enforcement of financial obligations?

    No, because I owed someone a debt and it is my responsibility to pay it. I don’t owe anything to an embryo. If anything, it owes everything to its mother, if she chose to bring it to term. I think you have a misconception (pardon the pun) of the mother-child relationship. The embryo is literally reliant, nay parasitic, on its mother. The mother doesn’t “owe” it anything she is not ready to give freely. You were implying, by your analogy, that the mother owes someone something, which is not the case.

  58. birth control pills have fewer side effects than aspirin

    That may be true for some people, but most women do react to hormones in their bodies. Basically, the pill convinces your body that you are already pregnant. There are side effects, some of them pretty unpleasant for some women. I dislike being on the pill because it seems to make me more emotional. Also, I ironically had more cramps when on it. Everyone’s body is different, and annoying as it is, there is good reason to keep it prescription.

  59. there are good risk-factor reasons for requiring that a chemical birth control require a prescription…whereas a physical barrier of inert material is easier to get…it isn;t really about gender.

    And yet women who want to get physical barriers of inert material, like IUDs or diaphragms, are still required to see a doctor first.

  60. 1) Comparing anything to aspirin is a bad idea. As I understand it, aspirin would not be approved if it were discovered today. “Safer than aspirin” doesn’t say much.

    Which is not to say that I’m advocating any restriction on aspirin, I’m just saying that it’s not the best analogy if you want to compare with something devoid of side effects.

    2) As far as analogies with slaves or debt collection or any other scenario you care to name, this issue would be really, really easy if we could just agree on an analogy. Once we found the analogy we could apply libertarian axioms, get a rigorously correct answer, and pat ourselves on the backs for being so much smarter than everybody else.

    I think I’m stating the obvious when I observe that finding the right analogy is itself a matter of controversy, so offering an analogy doesn’t really clear anything up. Alas.

  61. But no, you either want to stick the woman with a bill for an unecessary medical procedure, or make me pay for it.

    Bubba, you’re a goddamned fuckwit.

    This is an excellent example of both a false dichotomy and the razor wit of this thread.

    If your argument is entirely financial, you could suggest using a stock photo, or maybe a cigarette tax. Rob Reiner could campaign for it. “Your lung cancer can help fund abortions in South Dakota!”

    More importantly, it illustrates the byproducts of a refusal to address the issue head on. This kind of ass backwards approach (ultrasounds) happens only because an unpopular social policy has been forced on the various States by the Supreme Court. A State that has come to a policy compromise through the electoral process is not fertile for this kind of BS.

  62. No, because the plantation owner was guilty of theft of services to begin with. The onus is still on the slave owner to pay someone to pick his cotton for him.

    That’s assuming the third party, the slave, is a person entitled to human rights. At the time, there was a difference of opinion on this score, just as there is in the current abortion controversy. If I likewise assume the fetus is a person, then I can also assume the parent bears the onus for supporting it.

  63. Let the freakin’ electorate decide.

    No, thank you! When I see the mindless Bible-Pentateuch-Koran beaters around me, I’m glad I live in a Constitutional Republic!

    dhex,

    When I said it’s not just a women’s issue, I meant that the woman’s choice (which is hers and only hers) could affect the husbands and significant others of said women (especially if the right to abortion is denied). Do you still respectfully disagree?

  64. I really hate this topic, and wish I didn’t feel compelled to post on these threads.

  65. “That may be true for some people, but most women do react to hormones in their bodies. Basically, the pill convinces your body that you are already pregnant. There are side effects, some of them pretty unpleasant for some women.”

    Sure, but getting a prescription for them isn’t going to change that. Your doctor isn’t going to know how they will affect you until he puts you through ye olde scooch ‘n spread, writes you a prescription, and then you come back in three months complaining about the side effects. During which time you could simply have tried them yourself and then stopped taking them if you didn’t like them. (Personally I’m glad to have gotten my tubes tied and dispensed with the whole bothersome business.)

  66. And yet women who want to get physical barriers of inert material, like IUDs or diaphragms, are still required to see a doctor first.

    LOL. I find the idea of a do-it-yourself IUD pretty darn scary, Jennifer! And don’t diaphragms have to be fitted to the cervix (which varies from woman to woman).

  67. As far as analogies with slaves or debt collection or any other scenario you care to name, this issue would be really, really easy if we could just agree on an analogy. Once we found the analogy we could apply libertarian axioms, get a rigorously correct answer, and pat ourselves on the backs for being so much smarter than everybody else.

    In Libertarian terms, I guess the question is ‘Can person A be required by law to keep (presumed) person B alive through the use of person A’s body?’ That’s what it boils down to–am I required by law to let a fertilized cell stay in my body and use my bodily systems to stay alive?

    Am I required by law to donate blood or bone marrow if for some reason I am the only person with the right body chemistry to save the intended recipient? Am I, a civilian (as opposed to a cop, fireman, military guy or other Official Hero) required to undergo certain bodily risks for the benefit of someone else?

  68. This kind of ass backwards approach (ultrasounds) happens only because an unpopular social policy has been forced on the various States by the Supreme Court.

    No one is forcing anyone to have an abortion, it’s just a positive option for women who don’t want children. People who disagree with abortion shouldn’t have one. Duh.

    A State that has come to a policy compromise through the electoral process is not fertile for this kind of BS.

    Exqueeze me, policy comprimise? Taking away a person’s indivisible personal rights is a compromise by your definition? Bubba, you are a fuckwit.

  69. Jennifer-

    The question then boils down to when and/or how does a mother assume responsibility for her offspring? By consenting to sex? By taking the baby home from the hospital rather than giving the kid to an adoption agency? Somewhere in between?

    I’m guessing you lean toward the second answer. Pro-lifers lean toward the first answer.

    And if you take the second answer, then some messy questions arise concerning fathers.

    Worst of all, I don’t know that one can provide an obvious, rigorous, and widely acceptable justification for any of those answers. So we’re stuck with a mess.

  70. “So maybe a better analogy would be that you have to raise the seal pups before they turn them into your fur coat.”

    and then beat them with a lead filled snowshoe?

  71. (Personally I’m glad to have gotten my tubes tied and dispensed with the whole bothersome business.)

    I know a certain somebody who’s going to be popular at the next sausage par- er, I mean, Hit and Run gathering.

  72. That’s what it boils down to–am I required by law to let a fertilized cell stay in my body and use my bodily systems to stay alive?

    Am I required by law to donate blood or bone marrow if for some reason I am the only person with the right body chemistry to save the intended recipient? Am I, a civilian (as opposed to a cop, fireman, military guy or other Official Hero) required to undergo certain bodily risks for the benefit of someone else?

    Jennifer, I guess I’d say no — unless you somehow, by your own actions, are responsible for placing the other person in the needy situation they are in.

  73. The question then boils down to when and/or how does a mother assume responsibility for her offspring? By consenting to sex? By taking the baby home from the hospital rather than giving the kid to an adoption agency? Somewhere in between? I’m guessing you lean toward the second answer. Pro-lifers lean toward the first answer

    Judging from the lack of a rape exemption in this proposed bill, I’d say pro-lifers go beyond the first answer–not simply consenting to sex, but just HAVING sex (willingly or not) means a woman might have to spend the next nine months as a life-support system for another being.

  74. So, RexRhino, you believe that after normal delivery of a healthy, full-term baby, the mother should be able to take a hammer to its skull, so long as the umbilical cord isn’t cut. That doing so would be morally on par with trimming a toenail.
    A full term baby is no longer dependent on the mother. Cut the cord, and the kid is fine. But when the kid is sharing the same blood supply for survival, when it cannot live without the mother physically, then yes, the mother should be able to do whatever she wants.

    But even if having abortion legal left the incredably unlikely and downright unplausible possibility of a mother killing the baby after bringing it to full term, then yes, I am willing to risk the possibility that might happen – In the same way that I am willing to risk the possibility that Terrorists might bring nail scissors on an airplane and destroy the whitehouse. Terrorism is definitly bad, and we should try to stop it, but I would much rather take my chances with a terrorist than deal with pain in the ass baggage screenrs thinking that a sharpened pencil is a deadly weapon. Likewise, if we have to risk the possibility that maybe at sometime, somewhere, some mother will take the whole abortion thing to the extreem, then I would rather accept that than to ban abortion.

    That’s assuming the third party, the slave, is a person entitled to human rights. At the time, there was a difference of opinion on this score, just as there is in the current abortion controversy. If I likewise assume the fetus is a person, then I can also assume the parent bears the onus for supporting it.
    That is a poor analogy. If you wanted your unborn fetus to pick cotton, I would have no trouble with that. I only have a problem with fully developed human beings being forced into labor.

  75. “The question then boils down to when and/or how does a mother assume responsibility for her offspring? By consenting to sex?”

    The anti-choice crowd seems to have adopted that view. They seem to have a hard time accepting that for some people pregnancy is just a miserable, potentially life-screwing failure of birth control. It’s like saying someone shouldn’t be able to go to the hospital and get their broken leg fixed after a car accident, because by golly they should have known an accident might happen when they chose to drive to work that morning.

  76. No, because the plantation owner was guilty of theft of services to begin with. The onus is still on the slave owner to pay someone to pick his cotton for him.

    Slavery was legal, and presumably the owner paid for both the slaves and their upkeep. This was a clear regulatory taking of property.

    am I required by law to let a fertilized cell stay in my body and use my bodily systems to stay alive

    Well, states have different laws on the eviction of tenants. And one could argue that you gave consent at the time of fertilization. At the very least one could argue that consent is implied if you don’t have an abortion by a certain date.

    Also, we don’t allow parents to neglect children after they are born.

    Exqueeze me, policy comprimise? Taking away a person’s indivisible personal rights is a compromise by your definition? Bubba, you are a fuckwit.

    I don’t see how killing viable babies at 9 months of gestation is an indivisible personal right. Do I get a point for every time someone calls me a fuckwit? Maybe a Girl Scout cookie?

  77. So, RexRhino, you believe that after normal delivery of a healthy, full-term baby, the mother should be able to take a hammer to its skull, so long as the umbilical cord isn’t cut. That doing so would be morally on par with trimming a toenail.
    A full term baby is no longer dependent on the mother. Cut the cord, and the kid is fine. But when the kid is sharing the same blood supply for survival, when it cannot live without the mother physically, then yes, the mother should be able to do whatever she wants.

    But even if having abortion legal left the incredably unlikely and downright unplausible possibility of a mother killing the baby after bringing it to full term, then yes, I am willing to risk the possibility that might happen – In the same way that I am willing to risk the possibility that Terrorists might bring nail scissors on an airplane and destroy the whitehouse. Terrorism is definitly bad, and we should try to stop it, but I would much rather take my chances with a terrorist than deal with pain in the ass baggage screenrs thinking that a sharpened pencil is a deadly weapon. Likewise, if we have to risk the possibility that maybe at sometime, somewhere, some mother will take the whole abortion thing to the extreem, then I would rather accept that than to ban abortion.

    That’s assuming the third party, the slave, is a person entitled to human rights. At the time, there was a difference of opinion on this score, just as there is in the current abortion controversy. If I likewise assume the fetus is a person, then I can also assume the parent bears the onus for supporting it.
    That is a poor analogy. If you wanted your unborn fetus to pick cotton, I would have no trouble with that. I only have a problem with fully developed human beings being forced into labor.

  78. “I know a certain somebody who’s going to be popular at the next sausage par- er, I mean, Hit and Run gathering.”

    HAW! If they’d ever have those gatherings in Iowa, maybe. So, are any of these Reasonoid guys hot?

  79. I guess I’d say no — unless you somehow, by your own actions, are responsible for placing the other person in the needy situation they are in.

    That’s a tricky matter, though. Do women deserve less rights to their own bodies because they happen to be the sex that carries the pregnancy? A woman doesn’t get pregnant without a man (or to be technical, a source of sperm). The simple fact is that current laws don’t really hold men accountable for fatherhood at all. If pro-lifers are going to try and use human nature as a weapon, then it must be considered that a normal child would have two parents to raise it. Since there is no social guarantee of that, why should the burden be entirely left to the woman? It shouldn’t, and Jennifer’s right. A does not have a legal obligation to support B with A’s own life materials. I’ll give my blood and milk when I’m good and ready and not before that. Trying to outlaw abortions is as stupid as trying to outlaw alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs.

  80. So, are any of these Reasonoid guys hot?

    Their body temperatures are well in excess of 96 degrees.

  81. If you wanted your unborn fetus to pick cotton, I would have no trouble with that.

    Funniest sentence of the day, and something I probably never thought I would see in writing.

    HAW! If they’d ever have those gatherings in Iowa, maybe. So, are any of these Reasonoid guys hot?

    Any of them? More like all of them.

  82. No, because the plantation owner was guilty of theft of services to begin with. The onus is still on the slave owner to pay someone to pick his cotton for him.

    Slavery was legal, and presumably the owner paid for both the slaves and their upkeep. This was a clear regulatory taking of property.

    am I required by law to let a fertilized cell stay in my body and use my bodily systems to stay alive

    Well, states have different laws on the eviction of tenants. And one could argue that you gave consent at the time of fertilization. At the very least one could argue that consent is implied if you don’t have an abortion by a certain date.

    Also, we don’t allow parents to neglect children after they are born.

    Exqueeze me, policy comprimise? Taking away a person’s indivisible personal rights is a compromise by your definition? Bubba, you are a fuckwit.

    I don’t see how killing viable babies at 9 months of gestation is an indivisible personal right. Do I get a point for every time someone calls me a fuckwit? Maybe a Girl Scout cookie?

  83. (elbows smacky)
    Isn’t this a perfect time to say that some of the guys are “smart hot”?

    heehee

  84. I have a question for the “pro-life” crowd… Do you feel the life or safety of yourself or your children or family, or the property of yourself or your family, is any way jeapordized by abortion being legal? I mean, yeah, you feel that abortion is immoral, but is there any immediate public danger, and critical reason why this issue MUST be addressed by the state, and not addressed as a moral issue?

  85. Any of them? More like all of them.

    …In the sense that Jennifer said, of course. πŸ™‚

  86. Phil (way, way up there),

    Cue “libertarian” abortion opponents defending the requiring of women to submit to an unneeded (and possibly costly) medical procedure on the twin bases of “it isn’t hurting anyone” and “it just gives her more information” in 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . .

    It is no stranger than a “libertarian” in favor of school vouchers. What kind of libertarian would support coercing one person to pay for another’s education, especially when that education may involve religious instruction?

    Answer: one who sees that the status quo will not be going away anytime soon, and is willing to settle for stopgap measures, which may not line up perfectly with libertarian principles, but will help improve a few kids’ educational possibilities and maybe even chip away a bit at the status quo.

    Likewise for the ultrasound law.

  87. The simple fact is that current laws don’t really hold men accountable for fatherhood at all.

    Ummm…..?

  88. A full term baby is no longer dependent on the mother. Cut the cord, and the kid is fine. But when the kid is sharing the same blood supply for survival, when it cannot live without the mother physically, then yes, the mother should be able to do whatever she wants.

    By this logic, abortions could be banned after 7 months or so, and the mother would still have the option of an early cesarian, followed by adoption. Of course, then the utilitarian argument would be that it’s much cheaper for her to just carry the baby to term and save herself (or the State) all those medical bills.

    If pro-lifers are going to try and use human nature as a weapon, then it must be considered that a normal child would have two parents to raise it.

    What? Now you’re against gay marriage and polygamy? πŸ™‚ I thought Murphy Brown proved the lie to all this heteronormativity.

  89. linguist,

    Yeah, they’re smart hot.

    hee hee

  90. I didn’t mean to be catty with my 96-degree remark, but all the guys here ready to use the government to force me to spend nine months of ever-increasing discomfort followed by an extremely painful labor should I have an accident that I take more-than-reasonable care to avoid somehow makes me feel a tad bitchy.

    Quite the mystery, that.

  91. I really hate this topic, and wish I didn’t feel compelled to post on these threads.

    Hear hear, Stevo. But what kind of man would you be if you didn’t stand up for what you believe in? πŸ™‚

    In any case, I’m not sure what the whole plantation analogy was about, and I’m not going to spend the time necessary to ferret it out from amongst the 130 posts above, but the analogy I use is this.

    Say you’re in the middle of the ocean, months away from shore, on your sailboat. Suddenly, a doomed and rapidly descending plane glides overhead. The pilot ejects, landing on your boat.

    You did not consent to him being on your boat…but, assuming he doesn’t threaten your life or safety, do you have the right to throw him overboard, where he has no chance of survival?

  92. They’re not just smart hot, they’re smart hott. πŸ™‚

  93. Do you feel the life or safety of yourself or your children or family, or the property of yourself or your family, is any way jeapordized by abortion being legal? I mean, yeah, you feel that abortion is immoral, but is there any immediate public danger, and critical reason why this issue MUST be addressed by the state, and not addressed as a moral issue?

    Are you kidding? Immediate public danger? 30 million babies have been terminated.

    If you can’t understand why someone else could possibly believe that a fetus at 8 months deserves some sort of legal protection, why should the pro-Life side even talk to you? It’s should be no surprise if they simply ram legislation down your throat.

  94. Gaijin, you miss my point.

    That was a shitty argument. Nobody held a gun to your head and made you loan them money. If they did, the gun-holder would have to let them move in – using the transference of responsibility argument.

    I wasn’t talking about the lender having to let the dispossessed family move in with him.

    I was pointing out that someone who supports strict enforcement of debt collection laws, which eventually entails the use of force to repossess property, has no obligation to take in the dispossessed.

    This was done in support of Stevo’s observation that “taking a particular moral stance about another person’s actions” (e.g. I believe debtors should pay their debts) does not “translate into transfering responsibility for that person’s actions onto oneself” (therefore when the debtor winds up on the street I have to take him in).

    I don’t owe anything to an embryo. If anything, it owes everything to its mother, if she chose to bring it to term.

    So, parents have no moral obligation to feed and clothe their children?

    RexRhino, you seem to have abandoned your stand that as long as the baby is attached to the mother it is of no more consequence than a toenail, and have instead retreated to saying that as long as the baby is dependent on the mother. Sounds like a viability test to me. Welcome to the messy middle.

  95. RexRhino, Smacky & others,

    Although I’m sure it will appear that I’m taking a stand by pointing it out, there are many statements that contain the word “abortion” where you can substitute “infanticide” and people who see nothing wrong with abortion version will suddenly have a problem with the statement. For example, “People who disagree with abortion shouldn’t have one” is extremely similar to “People who disagree with infanticide shouldn’t kill their children”. RexRhino’s question can be transformed to “Do you feel the life or safety of yourself or your children or family, … is any way jeopardized by infanticide being legal?”

    I think that aphorisms or lines of inquiry that shift greatly when abortion is replaced by infanticide are not particularly enlightening even if they may appear to be pretty clever when first heard.

    That doesn’t mean that abortion and infanticide are equivalent; it just means there are a class of arguments that are fundamentally flawed because you can apply them equally as easily to something you support as to something you disagree with (and presumably all libertarians object to infanticide).

  96. You did not consent to him being on your boat…but, assuming he doesn’t threaten your life or safety, do you have the right to throw him overboard, where he has no chance of survival?

    If my own personal body is the boat, then yes.

  97. The simple fact is that current laws don’t really hold men accountable for fatherhood at all.

    Ummm…..?

    Yeah, my response exactly. Whoever wrote that obviously hasn’t ever been forced to pay court-ordered child support.

  98. I’ll be honest, crimethink, I would’ve guessed that both Captain Holly and John would have beaten you to the defense of “expedient use of statist force to support causes I believe in” by several dozen posts. But you win the No Prize. Predictably enough.

  99. You did not consent to him being on your boat…but, assuming he doesn’t threaten your life or safety, do you have the right to throw him overboard, where he has no chance of survival?

    He might not threaten my life or my safety, but he might threaten my piece of mind and tranquility. Also a bad analogy because a baby isn’t a temporary thing – it’s an emotional and financial drain (among other things) for at least 18 years of your life (unless it’s lucky enough to get emancipated).

  100. I didn’t mean to be catty with my 96-degree remark, but all the guys here ready to use the government to force me to spend nine months of ever-increasing discomfort followed by an extremely painful labor should I have an accident that I take more-than-reasonable care to avoid somehow makes me feel a tad bitchy.

    Nonsense on a stick. Dipped in cheese. I, and most of those who vote, simply ask that you make your decision in a timely manner. Use contraception, or the day after pill. Get an early abortion. Heck, have one every 3 months as a preventative. I don’t care.

    Just don’t be surprised when we are horrified that you would kill a fully formed child who had the misfortune of not arriving prematurely.

    Those of you who claim that a 9 month fetus is not a person are every bit as dogmatic a fuckwit as those who would give voting rights to an 8 cell embryo in a freezer. :-p I think that pretty much sums up this thread.

  101. Next time I think it would be easier for Hit and Run to just post the following entry: Abortion-Go! Then we can watch how quickly we reach 100 comments.

  102. Also a bad analogy because a baby isn’t a temporary thing – it’s an emotional and financial drain (among other things) for at least 18 years of your life (unless it’s lucky enough to get emancipated).

    They don’t offer adoptions in your state?

  103. Jennifer,

    First off, you’re assuming that abstinence, 100% effective at preventing such “accidents”, is either impossible or so terrible a sacrifice that the killing of an unborn child pales in comparison.

    Also, despite your frustration with 96-degree men, you would support a woman being able to use the govt to force me to spend eighteen years financially supporting a child I’m not allowed to see, no matter what “precautions” I take.

  104. I’ll be honest, crimethink, I would’ve guessed that both Captain Holly and John would have beaten you to the defense of “expedient use of statist force to support causes I believe in” by several dozen posts. But you win the No Prize. Predictably enough.

    Projecting again, Phil?

    BTW, I don’t believe you ever answered my question of whether or not it was appropriate for the goverment to force a gay flower shop owner to provide flowers for an Evangelical Christian wedding.

  105. I, and most of those who vote, simply ask that you make your decision in a timely manner. Use contraception, or the day after pill. Get an early abortion. Heck, have one every 3 months as a preventative. I don’t care.

    I have no problem with early abortion, and I have said many times that I do not think abortion should be allowed after the fetus is capable of a biologically independent existence. Did it escape your notice that my complaint here is with those who would deny the right to an abortion at all?

  106. I support abortion up through the second trimester. Although I think people should maintain a personal moral obligation (read: not legal) to terminate it as soon as possible.

  107. Hey, Captain, if I’m wrong about you supporting a measure like this, feel free to correct me. I’m not, though.

    BTW, I don’t believe you ever answered my question of whether or not it was appropriate for the goverment to force a gay flower shop owner to provide flowers for an Evangelical Christian wedding.

    You never answered any of my questions, so piss off.

  108. you would support a woman being able to use the govt to force me to spend eighteen years financially supporting a child I’m not allowed to see

    If you can find a post where I said guys should all be forced to pay for kids without having any visitation rights, I’d like to see it.

    First off, you’re assuming that abstinence, 100% effective at preventing such “accidents”, is either impossible or so terrible a sacrifice that the killing of an unborn child pales in comparison.

    Ah, yes, here’s where it boils down to “women shouldn’t be having sex unless they want to get pregnant, anyway.” For those of us who don’t ever want kids, remaining a virgin our whole life isn’t such a big sacrifice, is it?

  109. BTW, I don’t believe you ever answered my question of whether or not it was appropriate for the goverment to force a gay flower shop owner to provide flowers for an Evangelical Christian wedding.

    This made me lol. Sometimes I think we’re parodying ourselves here.

  110. smacky,

    pregnancy is a temporary thing, as one can give the child up for adoption.

    However, your reasoning easily beats Phil’s guilt by association argument and the “Jennifer est locuta” declaration above.

  111. “You did not consent to him being on your boat…but, assuming he doesn’t threaten your life or safety, do you have the right to throw him overboard, where he has no chance of survival?”

    Well, let’s say I was walking down a street at night and was held up by someone who tried to give me flu-like symptoms, hemorrhoids, stretch marks, lose teeth, leech the nutrients from my very own blood and bones, increase my risk of diabetes, swell up like a balloon and retain water, lose bladder control, and a huge host of other problems – some of them temporary, some of them permanent – wouldn’t I be justified in killing him in self-defense?

  112. I, and most of those who vote, simply ask that you make your decision in a timely manner. Use contraception, or the day after pill.

    I assume then, bubba, that you also oppose efforts by the same kinds of people who are passing these laws — and the South Dakota ones — to ban the morning-after pill or make it extremely difficult to obtain? And to make early abortions difficult to obtain, too?

  113. Bubba, don’t worry, most of those 30 million aborted babies would have just grown up to vote Democrat anyway.

  114. I was walking down a street at night and was held up by someone who tried to give me flu-like symptoms, hemorrhoids, stretch marks, lose teeth, leech the nutrients from my very own blood and bones, increase my risk of diabetes, swell up like a balloon and retain water, lose bladder control, and a huge host of other problems – some of them temporary, some of them permanent – wouldn’t I be justified in killing him in self-defense?

    In this analogy, walking down the street is analogous to having sex, so Crimethink would say that 100% abstinence for your whole life is a viable option to killing something.

    You selfish bitch.

  115. The pro-life crowd basically boils down to people who have no empathy for women. Pro-lifers are one of the (arguably) legitimate (I would argue illegitimate) misogynist groups around in western civilization.

    I’m sure that there are some misogynists in there, but most of them just think that fetuses are humans, and thus entitled to life. If a fetus has full human rights, then it’s useless to talk about a woman’s choice; none of us here would support killing someone else just because of our “choice.” It boils down to where life begins, and there’s no easy answer to that. Personally, I’m sure that life doesn’t begin at conception, and it doesn’t begin at birth, but I can’t draw the line where it does begin in between.

    It’s all too easy to demonize one’s opponents as believing as you do but acting in bad faith. In this case, both sides do it. But there’s no way to reconcile until both sides realize that they’re talking past each other.

    What if it turns out that there is good scientific evidence for life beginning at conception? How many of us would support abortions then, except maybe to save the life of the mother? I sure as hell wouldn’t; in that case, I don’t think that a principled case could even be made for exceptions for rape or incest. That’s what pro-lifers think; I’d think less of them if, believing as they did, they then supported abortion, because they would be supporting murder.

  116. Jennifer, have you ever been successful in efforts to find a doctor who will perform a ligation? I know you’ve mentioned before how difficult it is to find one who will do it for an unmarried woman with no children. (Note to bubba: These are the kinds of hoops women who are trying to be responsible are forced to jump through. I look forward to your spirited defense of eliminating those barriers.)

  117. “Ah, yes, here’s where it boils down to “women shouldn’t be having sex unless they want to get pregnant, anyway.” For those of us who don’t ever want kids, remaining a virgin our whole life isn’t such a big sacrifice, is it?”

    Yeah, every time I hear that tired old argument I sense a fundie lurking nearby. I’m not sure people like that can even grasp the idea of a woman who doesn’t ever want children.

  118. “Personally, I’m sure that life doesn’t begin at conception, and it doesn’t begin at birth, but I can’t draw the line where it does begin in between.”

    I’d argue that for some people it never does begin. For example, look at amazingdrx.

  119. What if it turns out that there is good scientific evidence for life beginning at conception? How many of us would support abortions then, except maybe to save the life of the mother?

    I, for one, will in fact stipulate that “life,” in the form of a completely unique arrangement of human DNA that will immediately begin cell division, begins at conception.

    That does not mean that that unique arrangement of human DNA has rights. Until it at least has differentiated cells and some sort of neurological structure, it does not.

    I also should mention for the record that while I wouldn’t think for a moment of legalizing infanticide, I also would never vote to convict, if I were on a jury, a mother or couple who euthanized a (for example) anencephalic newborn. Just so people know where I’m coming from here.

  120. Jennifer, have you ever been successful in efforts to find a doctor who will perform a ligation?

    I’ve given up looking. Although a ligation wasn’t the prime choice I was looking for, anyway. There is a non-surgical (as in, no cutting) option–I forget what it’s called–that removes the lining from the uterus so that there’s no place for a placenta to form, or something–the point is, not only can you not get pregnant, you don’t even have any annoyances to deal with every month.

    But of course, some would oppose that on the grounds that it could conceivably (pun intended) result in the death of a fertilized egg, which is no different from me killing a child in cold blood.

  121. Jennifer,

    OK, I overstepped my bounds on the visitation rights thing. But you do support women being able to force men who have “accidents” to support their children for eighteen years, no?

    Ah, yes, here’s where it boils down to “women shouldn’t be having sex unless they want to get pregnant, anyway.”

    You’re close — they shouldn’t be having sex unless they’re ready to get pregnant. Which is less dogma than common sense.

    But I am glad, Jennifer, that we got to this point in the discussion. Finally, we’re beyond arguing about what to do with the thirteen-year-old girl who was raped by her half-troglyodyte father and is going to be paralyzed from the waist down if she gives birth to the grotesquely deformed and brain damaged child in her womb. It is now laid bare what abortion “rights” are really designed to protect: an insurance policy of last resort for those who want to have sex without having kids.

    For those of us who don’t ever want kids, remaining a virgin our whole life isn’t such a big sacrifice, is it?

    It is certainly no greater a sacrifice than, say, being killed in the womb.

  122. Bubba, don’t worry, most of those 30 million aborted babies would have just grown up to vote Democrat anyway.

    Ha ha! Good one, mediageek.

    What if it turns out that there is good scientific evidence for life beginning at conception?

    Um, life does begin at conception. What is usually debated is at what point is that life considered to have its own human integrity. Humans don’t even have memories usually until at least age 2, IIRC. But please, for the love of Vishnu’s testicle (ha! stole that one from mediageek), let’s not go into the “at what point does life start” debate. It’s the worst, and it’s completely irrelevant.

  123. “Jennifer, have you ever been successful in efforts to find a doctor who will perform a ligation? I know you’ve mentioned before how difficult it is to find one who will do it for an unmarried woman with no children.”

    I wanted to get it done at the age of 24, finally succeeded at the age of 34. I just got lucky that I found a cool doctor. In some places, women who want tubals have to undergo psychiatric evaluations. If you ask me, it’s the ones who want kids who need their heads examined.

  124. Pirate Jo,

    Well, let’s say I was walking down a street at night….

    The problem with that analogy is that the person trying to do those things to you is acting maliciously, and has the option of not doing those things, whereas an unborn child is not and does not.

  125. It is now laid bare what abortion “rights” are really designed to protect: an insurance policy of last resort for those who want to have sex without having kids.

    Yep, put “rights” in “quotation marks” when you’re talking about those nasty “people” who want to have sex without having kids. If, despite all my precautions, I get pregnant anyway (which is quite, quite unlikely), I’d damn well better pay the fiddler.

    Serves me right. Wanting to have sex without having kids! How dare I? And Jeff shouldn’t be having sex with me, since he doesn’t want to be a Daddy.

  126. “You’re close — they shouldn’t be having sex unless they’re ready to get pregnant. Which is less dogma than common sense.”

    And just how do you expect to have premarital nookie with an attitude like that?

  127. “It is now laid bare what abortion “rights” are really designed to protect: an insurance policy of last resort for those who want to have sex without having kids.”

    I have absolutely NO problem with keeping abortion legal for that reason.

    Incidentally, the ‘Essure’ procedure is the non-surgical one where they fill your tubes with coils made of titanium alloy (Tubes of Steel, ha ha). No cutting involved, although you might have it done under general anesthetic. The ablation procedure is the one where they remove the lining of the uterus. I looked into that one, but decided against it because in a lot of cases it grows back.

  128. And just how do you expect to have premarital nookie with an attitude like that?

    I think the plan is, you don’t. And if you do, and accidents happen, you’ll damn sure face some consequences, boy.

  129. Unless you’re gay.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  130. It is certainly no greater a sacrifice than, say, being killed in the womb

    Right. Never having sex in your entire adult lifespan is exactly the same as never existing at all. That makes a lot of sense.

    Do aborted babies go to heaven, crimethink?

  131. Well, in that case, I look forward to seeing a link to a picture of Crimethink and Bubba wearing their chastity rings.

  132. BTW, I don’t believe you ever answered my question of whether or not it was appropriate for the goverment to force a gay flower shop owner to provide flowers for an Evangelical Christian wedding.

    This made me lol. Sometimes I think we’re parodying ourselves here.

    Except it’s not really a parody.

    Long ago, in a thread far, far away, Phil expressed enthusiastic support for a Seattle anti-discrimination ordinance that was used by gay rights activists to force a Christian stationery shop owner to print invitations to a gay wedding.

    When Phil accuses me of supporting the “expedient use of statist force to support causes I believe in” with a straight face, that’s when parody becomes reality.

  133. “You’re close — they shouldn’t be having sex unless they’re ready to get pregnant. Which is less dogma than common sense.”

    Not as long as abortion stays legal, it isn’t.

    And mediageek – ‘premarital’ sex? Puh-leeze. Does it make a difference if you’re married or not? What if was 35 years old, had been married for fifteen years, and STILL didn’t want to have kids? I guess my husband and I would have to remain celibate, since neither of us wants to have kids.

  134. When Phil accuses me of supporting the “expedient use of statist force to support causes I believe in” with a straight face, that’s when parody becomes reality.

    I thought you supported making abortion illegal. Wouldn’t that require some statist force?

  135. “Pirate Jo,

    Well, let’s say I was walking down a street at night….

    The problem with that analogy is that the person trying to do those things to you is acting maliciously, and has the option of not doing those things, whereas an unborn child is not and does not.”

    Not my problem. I would act to defend myself the same way.

  136. Hmm… since sex is apparently the be-all and end-all of human existence for this crowd, maybe I should have tried the “abortion deprives unborn children of the opportunity to have sex” argument.

  137. “Do aborted babies go to heaven, crimethink?”

    Phil, only if they would never have had recreational sex had they not been aborted and gone on to full adulthood.

  138. grylliade,

    Life begins before conception. A sperm cell is alive, an egg is alive, as are most of the cells in your body. The cells of a bunny rabbit are also alive, as is the bunny rabbit itself (assuming a live bunny rabbit). The question isn’t when life begins as much as which aspects of a distinct human life are sufficient to give that life which rights. Scientific evidence alone will never resolve the question of which aspects are important, because importance is subjective, not objective. Similarly, even after you nail down the aspects you’re concerned with, scientific evidence alone can’t be sufficient to provide a mapping between those aspects and the rights you’re concerned with (e.g. various rights to life).

  139. In other news, you shouldn’t go skydiving unless you’re ready to fall to your death.

  140. I assume then, bubba, that you also oppose efforts by the same kinds of people who are passing these laws — and the South Dakota ones — to ban the morning-after pill or make it extremely difficult to obtain? And to make early abortions difficult to obtain, too?

    You are correct. I would vote two or three times against such measures. I am in favor of the morning after pill. I am in favor of access to early abortions.

    I know you’ve mentioned before how difficult it is to find one who will do it for an unmarried woman with no children. (Note to bubba: These are the kinds of hoops women who are trying to be responsible are forced to jump through. I look forward to your spirited defense of eliminating those barriers.)

    Red Herring. The State can’t force a doctor to perform a procedure. Some doctors are starting to deny knee and hip replacements to fat people.

  141. Hmm… since sex is apparently the be-all and end-all of human existence for this crowd,

    Not the be-all and end-all, but nonetheless a sufficiently important experience that you’ve got serious nerve blithely telling people to just go without it their whole lives.

  142. “Hmm… since sex is apparently the be-all and end-all of human existence for this crowd, maybe I should have tried the “abortion deprives unborn children of the opportunity to have sex” argument.”

    Um, you’re the one making assertions to the effect of “if a woman isn’t ready to procreate she shouldn’t have sex.”

    Face it, sexual intimacy is a very real and important part of the human experience, even outside of the “need” to procreate.

  143. Crap, “server error” message. My apologies if this posts twice or more.

    If you wanted your unborn fetus to pick cotton, I would have no trouble with that. I only have a problem with fully developed human beings being forced into labor.

    You are still pre-supposing the question under dispute, the definition of “human beings,” in your answer. And “fully developed,” come to think of it. Would you have a problem with pre-pubescent (by definition “not yet fully developed”) children being forced into prostitution? I am pretty sure you would, actually.

    I have a question for the “pro-life” crowd… Do you feel the life or safety of yourself or your children or family, or the property of yourself or your family, is any way jeapordized by abortion being legal?

    No, only that of many certain strangers.

    The reason a response such as “If you don’t like abortions, don’t have one” is deficient is that central to the whole controversy is the question of whether the rights of a third part are being violated. You might as well say to an abolitionist, “If you don’t like people owning slaves, don’t own one.”

    A lot of people think that the point of completion of conception is the most objective, logically consistent, biologically based dividing point between “human being” and “not a human being.” Even this is not a perfect answer, and alternative dividing points have been proposed — but most of these are either more vague, or more arbitrary (dependent on other external parties’ attitudes toward the fetus-thing than any inherent quantities it has). When a society is routinely in the habit of using vague and subjective definitions of what is/what is not a human being entitled to human rights — that is worrisome, for reasons that a quick look at history should make obvious. This type of thinking is what enables slavery and pogroms.

    If you feel that a third party’s human rights are being violated — even the rights of strangers, not just those of yourself and your family members — and you are a decent person, most likely you are going to feel a compulsion to speak up about it. You might even go so far as to advocate force — but at the very least, you’ll feel compelled to speak up, to question the logic and arguments of the other side, to inject relevant information that you might think is lacking, and urge a rethinking, or further thinking, about the matter.

    I am sure that every popular political and social movement has attracted a certain number of noxious placard-wavers, power-freaks who just want an excuse to push people around, hooligans looking for an excuse to behave in an antisocial maner and feel self-righteous while doing so, or just plain unbalanced loonies.

    Larry Niven once enshrined this observation in one of Niven’s Laws: “There is no cause so noble that it won’t attract a fugghead.”

    Even the libertarian movement is not immune from this.

    But there can also be people in such a movement who are sincere, and acting from the best motives, the best information they have access to, and the best reasoning they can follow. They might be wrong, of course. But it will take good arguments, not just ridicule and name-calling, to make them change their minds.

    You’re most likely to find compromise and acquiesance among the insincere opportunists who seek power (if you can offer them an alternative carrot), or unengaged who who don’t really care all that much, or the unprincipled who aren’t inclined to think through the consequences of taking a certain position, and then stand by it.

    It’s the thoughtful, sincere, decent members of the movement — the ones whom you’d otherwise would most prefer to have as your neighbors, friends and allies — who won’t shut up about it.

    …barring some major shift in the status quo that even makes the issue an issue. Or the mergence of new information that casts the entire issue in a different light.

    We still await this moment, I think.

  144. Long ago, in a thread far, far away, Phil expressed enthusiastic support for a Seattle anti-discrimination ordinance that was used by gay rights activists to force a Christian stationery shop owner to print invitations to a gay wedding.

    This is a lie, the kind which I would absolutely expect from someone like Captain Holly. He apparently believes his deity wants him to be a witness by bearing false witness.

    What happened was that I stated that the simpleminded presentation that Captain Holly asked everyone to swallow, that of a poor, meek Christian printer being forced to serve nasty, tricksy gayses, was more complicated than that: That there was an existing city law which forbade discrimination by businesses on the basis of sexual orientation, that it was the printer’s responsibility to know the appropriate laws, that there was no, “But I’m a Christian!” exemption to the law, and that he was welcome to try to change it but absent success should be expected to abide by it or operate his business in a place where there is no such law.

    I neither supported nor condemned the law in question. But don’t take my word for it: Read the thread. And please note that the entire thread becomes an exercise in Captain Holly dodging answering any questions whatsoever while demanding answers of others.

  145. Do aborted babies go to heaven, crimethink?

    In Catholic teaching, all souls must be judged by God after death. The souls of unborn children would, of course, be judged by quite different standards than the souls of those who died as adults, but being aborted cannot be seen as a “get into heaven free” card.

    And even if it were, that would not make killing an unborn child any more kind of an act than killing a freshly baptized baby.

  146. Meth is, as far as I know, illegal everywhere in the U.S. And yet, you have all these people doing meth. Even doing meth in spite of all these feel good laws that are suppose to end meth use. Yet it continues.

    The power of government is not absolute. As Ron wrote to start this topic, making abortion illegal will not stop them from happening. And the best argument against prohibition applies in this debate as well.

    Making abortion illegal won’t stop them from happening. It just means you might have a SWAT team in your living room every time you have a miscarriage.

    And, I say this as someone who thinks abortion is a horrible thing to do. What others do with their lives is their business. And I’d say between them and God, but… well, you know.

  147. mediageek et al,

    I’m a Catholic, not a fundie, so I do not deny that the legitimate enjoyment of bodily pleasures, sex among them, is a fundamental part of being human. But as Mother Teresa said, there is no greater poverty than that which leads one to kill an unborn child so that you can continue to live as you wish.

    To put it simply, in my opinion, life is more important than sex. Do you disagree?

  148. kmw,

    Rape happens in this country — does that mean we should legalize it?

    I agree with the “if X is illegal, only criminals will X” argument insofar as it applies to victimless crimes, but abortion does not fit that category.

  149. “To put it simply, in my opinion, life is more important than sex. Do you disagree?”

    You don’t want to hear my answer. It’s far to misanthropic for you, I’m sure.

    The problem I have with making abortion illegal is that you are essentially using the guns of the state to enforce a fuzzily-defined edict about where life begins.

  150. The problem I have with making abortion illegal is that you are essentially using the guns of the state to enforce a fuzzily-defined edict about where life begins.

    The same could be said for laws that protect abortion doctors.

  151. life is more important than sex. Do you disagree?

    Your assumption that a few dozen brainless but fertilized cells are as much “life” as a full-grown human being is based on faith, not fact, and you’re supporting having the government force your faith on women who do not share it.

    But I’ll offer a compromise–if it ever becomes naturally or technologically possible for even a one-day or one-month fetus to survive outside the womb, I’d support a law saying that abortions have to take the fetus out intact and hook it up to life support–but if the government mandates this law, the government picks up the tab.

  152. “The same could be said for laws that protect abortion doctors.”

    Ooooh. I’ve never met a real-live bomb thrower before!

  153. Jennifer,

    Your assumption that a blastocyst of a few dozen cells is not a human life/person/whatever is based no less on faith.

  154. Jennifer, if I may play Devil’s Advocate for a moment, I think that there is some logic to arguing that a healthy zygote will develop into a healthy adult human being, with all of the rights and responsibilities that come with it.

    As far as that thought goes, I can understand where the pro-lifers are coming from.

    But I think that the laws and punishments that trying to enforce such a system would be far to draconian to contemplate.

    The earlier line about sending in SWAT Teams in the envent of a miscarriage doesn’t strike me as being terribly off the mark.

  155. I agree with Jenn, hell, they could freeze ’em up now if they wanted to, then unfreeze when the technology or available surrogate womb is ready.

    At this point, saving face and getting funds is more important for the OpRescue crowd.

  156. What crimethink is actually saying, unfortunately in the most provocative and brain-shutting-down manner possible, is that any law forbidding the murder of anyone has to make some kind of assumption about when life begins. (Otherwise the defendant could just argue that his victim wasn’t really alive yet. “Life begins at 40, and he was only 39!”)

  157. But I think that the laws and punishments that would be required to enforce that are far to draconian to contemplate.

    -edited for clarity

  158. mediageek,

    Pointing out the shaky foundations for a law is hardly the same as breaking it. Otherwise, your expression of contempt for abortion laws would imply that you are an abortionist.

  159. In my last post, I was responding to crimethink’s statement, “The same could be said for laws that protect abortion doctors,” and the response it provoked from mediageek.

  160. I’m not the one advocating throwing women in prison or gunning them down at the scene of the “crime.”

    Those are all inherent assumptions that would have to be built into outlawing abortion.

  161. I think that there is some logic to arguing that a healthy zygote will develop into a healthy adult human being, with all of the rights and responsibilities that come with it.

    So it is potential life, not life. There is a difference.

    Your assumption that a blastocyst of a few dozen cells is not a human life/person/whatever is based no less on faith.

    Except that I have some actual evidence on my side–brain waves, existence of a brain at all–all the things we generally use to decree someone “alive.” You’re saying that potential life and actual life are the same thing.

  162. It’s an act of faith to say that life that’s worth caring about starts at any given moment, without a doubt. But barring some holy voice on high, we have to decide on something functional. That’s not faith, that’s a judgement call.

    If the feds are going to play in the abortion debate, why not just run a national reforendum. Everyone rights down a number between 0 and 9 based on the numer of months they think abortion should be legal until. Tally it up and go with the average.

  163. Stevo,

    No, that’s not what I’m saying, though I apologize for any brains that were shut off.

    I’m saying that, if one knew that persons were being killed at a certain place, at a certain time, by a certain person, one would have the right — indeed, the duty — to stop that from happening, by physical force if necessary.

    So, since we know that unborn children are being killed at certain places, etc, the “guns of the state” preventing us from intervening to save those lives is itself an enforcement of the par-excellence-fuzzy edict that personhood does not begin till birth.

  164. “So it is potential life, not life. There is a difference.”

    Yes, and yes. In the minds of people like crimethink, every conceived egg is a human that will go on to be a wonderful, productive human.

  165. the “guns of the state” preventing us from intervening to save those lives is itself an enforcement of the par-excellence-fuzzy edict that personhood does not begin till birth.

    My argument, however, is that life begins when the fetus is capable of an independent biological existence, which is different from what you are using as an example of fuzzy edict.

    And thus you calmly say that going without sex forever is a small sacrifice to make, and imply that anyone unwilling to do that in accordance with your faith is oversexed (“be-all and end-all”), and you have no problem with the government using force to ensure that your view is forced on others.

    If you say a two-day fetus is life–fine. Take it yourself and keep it alive. But don’t use my body as an incubator.

  166. So, has anybody changed his or her mind on abortion because of these debates?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of open debate. Hell, if I didn’t love to argue I wouldn’t come here. But, really, the general issue of abortion is one that has been beaten to a pulp here and elsewhere. I like Hit and Run because sometimes I run across a novel argument concerning abortion. But, honestly, the recent abortion threads don’t seem to give us much of that.

    Maybe it would be more interesting to discuss the likely course of events that will follow the South Dakota ban if it’s signed by the governor.

    For starters, why hasn’t he signed it? It passed last week? Is he less enthused than the legislators over this symbolic measure designed to provoke a fight? Maybe his Attorney General is telling him “Look, the precedents are against this, and the Supremes have at least 5 votes in favor of Roe. But I’m obligated to go to court and make the best argument possible in favor of the laws of the state. This will be a big waste of resources for us.”

    Any thoughts on that?

  167. Jennifer,

    You are assuming that personhood is identical to brain function, which there is no evidence for. Not that it matters, since you are in favor of allowing abortions of unborns with functional brains. The central nervous system develops, and brain waves are detected, long before an embryo/fetus could possibly be considered “biologically independent.”

  168. thoreau,

    I have two words for you:

    BOOO-RRIIINNGG!

    πŸ˜‰

  169. thoreau,

    For some, sex is the be-all and end-all of existence. For others, arguing about stuff on anonymous message boards is!

  170. The central nervous system develops, and brain waves are detected, long before an embryo/fetus could possibly be considered “biologically independent.”

    Brain waves are only one example. My main point is that neither you nor the state shold have the right to force a woman to serve as an incubator if she does not wish to do so. Once the kid can live on its own, then I’d certainly support laws requiring, say, a Caesarean rather than an abortion, to let the kid live. Until then–no.

    So, has anybody changed his or her mind on abortion because of these debates? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of open debate. Hell, if I didn’t love to argue I wouldn’t come here.

    I wonder what effect your “a lifetime of celibacy is a small sacrifice” argument had on anybody sitting on the fence, abortionwise. You’re telling women who “aren’t ready” to have children that we should be perfectly content to live like a priest and forgo sex completely, all our lives.

    Hell, at least priests can have sex with altar boys without running the risk of getting pregnant.

  171. Whoops. That was Thoreau, not Crimethink, I quoted.

  172. My argument, however, is that life begins when the fetus is capable of an independent biological existence, which is different from what you are using as an example of fuzzy edict.

    And how, precisely, is independent biological existence defined? Does it depend solely on the fetus/embryo’s own development, or vary with available technology? To me, it just sounds like another fuzzy edict.

  173. crimethink, my apologies for misinterpreting you and misspeaking for you.

    I’m saying that, if one knew that persons were being killed at a certain place, at a certain time, by a certain person, one would have the right — indeed, the duty — to stop that from happening, by physical force if necessary.

    Er, I’d apply certain key principles of Just War Theory to that before I’d agree that the use of force would be justified. Especially the part about whether it’s the last resort, and especially especially the part about whether it’s more likely to succeed in resolving the conflict than to result in even more violence. (Maybe you’re presenting a simplified version of the case in the interests of keeping your presentation of the argument manageable?)

  174. Still, though, I’m wondering what effect Crimethink’s view on permanent celibacy had on any fence-sitters.

  175. Stevo, I’d say that at this point crimethink has gone right off the deep end.

    There are some compelling arguments against abortion, but he doesn’t seem to be bringing any of them up.

  176. Stevo Darkly,

    I agree on the application of JWT…but the reason it has to be applied is that the one doing the killing is backed up by the coercive apparatus of the state. Were we talking about some guy killing already-born children in his basement, there would be no need to discuss JWT.

    In any case, I was justifying my contention that the guns of the state already enforce a “fuzzy edict of when life begins”.

  177. Still, though, I’m wondering what effect Crimethink’s view on permanent celibacy had on any fence-sitters.

    My “view on permanent celibacy”? You mean the one where I advise that if people don’t want to deal with the possibility of getting [someone] pregnant, they shouldn’t have sex?

    So if I advise someone who wants to go skydiving that even with two parachutes, there is a chance that they will fall to their death, am I promoting permanent avoidance of skydiving?

  178. In Catholic teaching, all souls must be judged by God after death. The souls of unborn children would, of course, be judged by quite different standards than the souls of those who died as adults, but being aborted cannot be seen as a “get into heaven free” card.

    It honestly sort of amazes me that adult human beings in the year 2006 can say this sort of thing and not be thought insane.

  179. So if I advise someone who wants to go skydiving that even with two parachutes, there is a chance that they will fall to their death, am I promoting permanent avoidance of skydiving?

    If you want the government to use force to prevent something that can take that danger away, then yes, in practice you are promoting avoidance of it, or at least insisting on penalties for those who choose to do so anyway, even though you advised against it.

  180. Phil and mediageek,

    The truth often appears insane when one has grown accustomed to lies.

  181. So, has anybody changed his or her mind on abortion because of these debates?

    It has made me re-examine and re-examine what I think I believe, which is not a bad thing. I have somewhat shifted my thinking on how society should respond to abortion — this is a work in progress, actually — but that’s more as a result of my becoming a philosophical anarchist than any debate about abortion per se.

    Actually, some comments by Jennifer in this very thread are posibly making me rethink my stance on abortion under some circumstances. I’d rather not elaborate further at this time because I’m still thinking about it, so I probably can’t sum up the issue I’m thinking about very well.

  182. Jennifer,

    Sigh.

    If the measures taken to protect skydivers from a falling death, entail killing other innocent people, then yes, I would oppose them.

  183. Oooh, deep. (inhales deeply) Man.

    So, do you have some insight into the list of sins an aborted baby might have committed in utero to get sent to hell? Or does it have to be, like, The Aborted Next Hitler Or Maybe Charles Manson? Can God count things the aborted baby was going to do but never got to?

  184. I mean, honestly, crimethink, if I told you that Zeus appeared in my backyard last night in the form of a golden swan and attempted to impregnate my neighbor, you’d think I was absolutely batshit nuts, wouldn’t you?

  185. Phil,

    I’ve got no answers for you on specifics. However, to say that aborted fetuses automatically go to heaven would be to deny the fact that we are tainted by original sin, from the moment of conception.

    Without original sin, there would be no need for Christ’s sacrifice. Without Christ’s sacrifice, there would be no Christianity. So, in one well meaning stroke (one that more than a few Catholic leaders, including John Paul II, have been unwary enough to make), one can undermine the very raison d’etre of our faith.

  186. The ablation procedure is the one where they remove the lining of the uterus

    Considering how many fertilized eggs might die for lack of a place to go in a woman who had such a procedure, something occurred to me–if I have this procedure done and then stop all my usual anti-pregnancy precautions, consider the number of lives (in the form of fertilized eggs) that could be lost! Technically, I could be killing twelve or thirteen children per year, although I suppose a number like four or five per annum might be more likely.

    Multiply that by the number of years I can expect to keep getting pregnant. . . . dear God. I may as well take some bombs and wipe out two or three Chuck E. Cheese’s on the first afternoon of summer break, for all the evil I’d be responsible for in this world.

  187. That’s the beauty of an abortion ban, you see–over time it can spread to outlaw other medical procedures.

  188. Phil: You bet I’d think you’re nuts. Your neighbor’s face would turn Medusa to stone!

  189. Actually, bombing the Chuck E. Cheese’s would be slightly worse in that I was violating the owner’s property rights. But if they were my restaurants they’d be equivalent to getting an ablation, no worse.

    So I suppose we should outlaw that too, Crimethink? The ablations, I mean, not bombing children’s restaurants. (Despite my stance on abortion I do oppose bombing restaurants.)

  190. anon2: I think your response is overlooking some things. Once conception is complete, you have an entity that is distinct from its parents, with it’s own DNA (one of the things that makes an individual a disctint individual). This is what distinguishes a blastocyst from a mere gamete cell.

    (To forestall one objection: Twins may have identical DNA, but they also occupy two distinct, non-contiguous spaces. Because one individual can’t occupy two spaces at the same time, twins must be two individuals, not one.)

    The fact that at this point it begins growing and developing and differentiating on its own power, absent any outside interference, is also what distinguishes the blastocyst from any ordinary somatic cell of the body.

    Some unique and critical things, relating to what makes an entity both individual and human, happen in association with conception. These, I think, make it arguable that it is a uniquely important dividing point. I hear what you are saying, but I think you are downplaying the uniqueness of the conception event a little bit.

    More than even the development of a central nervous system, I think. The blastocyst will have a nervous system if you’ll only not screw with it. You don’t have to intervene and add anything to its essence for it to develop a central nervous system. It therefore has the innate capacity of developing a CNS. The lack of a CNS is just a temporary condition. I think it makes more sense to recognize human rights on the basis of an entity’s innate qualities rather than it’s temporary passing conditions.

    To some extent, you could call this is a statement of faith. But you could say the same of any axiom concerning humanity and right or wrong. “It’s wrong to kill someone just because you feel like it.” “It’s wrong to initiate force against another human being.” You’d have a hard time “proving” those statements to be true because they are so fundamental.

  191. A few final remarks, and then I have to move on to other things.

    1) thoreau, I’m sorry nobody is responding to the questions you’ve raised. I’m afraid it’s the fundamental and philosophical questions that really draw most of us in.

    2) I think crimething’s arguments are mostly very adept. The discussion and explanation of religious beliefs, however, is pretty much a digression that will gain no traction in this forum, and is irrelevant to the legalities.

    Shame on Phil for being the one to drag religion into this thread. πŸ˜‰

    3) Many of the people I like and admire, very much, are on the opposite side of this issue.

  192. Shit!

    crimethink — my apologies.

  193. Defender Of The Faith Sez:

    Rape happens in this country — does that mean we should legalize it?

    Way to miss the point completely, dude. And a beautiful false analogy to boot!

    Rape is easy to prove, and the victim is going to call the cops. If there’s a dead fetus, how are we going to know if it was a miscarriage or intentional abortion? And how do we prove it?

    Can you honestly tell me, you’re ok with subjecting every woman who miscarries with a complete test set to ensure it wasn’t intentional? Do you realize how hard that would be on the woman? Do you realize how invasive that would be? And for mothers that really wanted the child, it would be a nightmare.

    That’s the unintended consequence with banning all abortions.

  194. Jennifer,

    That’s actually a pretty good question, because it fuzzies up the question of which overt act brings about the death of the embryo — the ablation itself, or the act of coitus that conceives the embryo in a reproductive system where implantation is impossible.

    Rather than bombing a restaurant, I’ll borrow an analogy from Asimov’s The Naked Sun (highly recommended). What if one poisons a gigantic batch of lemonade and puts it in the refrigerator, and then proceeds to invite someone over for lemonade every once in a while? Neither act, taken by itself, amounts to murder, but the overall intent is clear.

    Likewise, it’s clear that a person who has an ablation done intends for any zygotes they conceive to be the recipients of a one-way ticket out of the uterus and into oblivion. But it’s a very messy situation, so I’ll reserve the right to ponder the legality of this one awhile…

  195. crimethink,

    And by Faith, I mean faith in zygotes. I really don’t want to make this about religion, because it doesn’t need to be. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

  196. Rather than bombing a restaurant, I’ll borrow an analogy

    Boy am I glad you borrowed an analogy!

  197. The discussion and explanation of religious beliefs, however, is pretty much a digression that will gain no traction in this forum, and is irrelevant to the legalities.

    You are quite right…but it is a shame that some here are quick to wield someone’s religious beliefs as a weapon against him, and then refuse to listen when he defends himself. An ignorant and cowardly tactic, but one that I should not have opened myself up to nonetheless.

  198. crimethink, are you willing to support policies, including coercive ones like mandatory paid maternity leave, that will allow women to participate fully in public life and paid employment while carrying every pregnancy to term? I assume, since you’ve said you are Catholic, that you believe birth control to be wrong? In the absence of some serious compulsion, there will be no way for married women to participate in public life. If you are willing to take those steps, then, although I don’t agree with you, you are not a misogynist. If you are not willing to take those steps, then you are condeming women to life as powerless, stupid, drudges.

  199. Stevo,

    I have three kids, all born from in-vitro fertilization. At the moment that each sperm was chosen for each egg, there was sufficient DNA information to define the kids that would be produced from each combination. In other words, the DNA, distinct from the parents, was chosen before fertilization. Since I don’t hear many people calling for the point of DNA choosing to be a landmark point, I don’t think that the point that they’re physically mixed should inherently be a landmark point either.

    BTW, I wasn’t addressing the difference between a fertilized egg and a somatic cell, I was addressing what you said previously, which was the “dividing point between “human being” and “not a human being.””. There’s a huge difference between the difference between “human being” and “not a human being” and blastocyst and ordinary somatic cell of the body. I’m not accusing you of deliberately being disingenuous, but it’s not fair of you to switch between the two.

    “Some unique and critical things, relating to what makes an entity both individual and human, happen in association with conception.” Can you name one unique and critical thing? The DNA choice happens before conception, at least in in-vitro fertilization.

    “More than even the development of a central nervous system, I think. The blastocyst will have a nervous system if you’ll only not screw with it. ” That’s simply not true in a probabilistic sense. Depending on the quality of the eggs (and the quality of the sperm, although in the case of in-vitro fertilization with ICSI it’s usually the eggs that matter), the probability that the blastocyst will develop into a born child can be anywhere from very low to very high. After our forth in-vitro attempt (first two were unsuccessful, third gave us our first child), failed our fertilization people told us that we were so unlikely to succeed again that we should use donor eggs, which we did. When we were using my wife’s eggs, we were fertilizing a bunch and putting them all in and hoping-because we’re both personally opposed to abortion-that we wouldn’t have three or more viable fetuses. However, all of the fertilized eggs had to be put into someone or they would have 0% chance of developing a central nervous system.

    Not only can I call the statement “I think it makes more sense to recognize human rights on the basis of an entity’s innate qualities rather than it’s temporary passing conditions.” a statement of faith, that’s exactly what I’ll do. The best you can say is “I think it makes sense to me”. That’s very different from a lot of other issues, where “I think it makes more sense” may be made in congruence with facts. For example, I think it makes more sense that evolution explains the origins of the species than a literal interpretation of Genesis.

    I wasn’t objecting to your moral objections. I was just pointing out that something you claimed earlier, was an appeal to numbers rather than an objective statement of facts. Specifically you said

    “A lot of people think that the point of completion of conception is the most objective, logically consistent, biologically based dividing point between “human being” and “not a human being.””

    You’re right. A lot of people do think that. They’re wrong though, as I pointed out. There’s nothing more objective, more logically consistent or more biologically accurate about favoring conception over development of central nervous system. On the other hand, it is much more convenient. You may even find that there’s some other reason why you prefer it, but neither objectivity, logical consistency nor biology inherently favor your position.

    BTW, there’s a lot to be said about convenience. If if weren’t for the holy havoc it would play with assisted fertility and other things, like the morning-after pill, perhaps it would make a lot of sense to make that the dividing line because it is so convenient. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

  200. crimethink (Defender Of The Faith);

    I realize how important this issue is to you, and I can sympathize, because I used to be completely anti-abortion. I’m just not sure if you fully understand the unintended consequences of a full abortion ban.

    For one thing, it would create a black market on RU-486. There isn’t much demand for it now, because there are easier ways to get an abortion. Organized crime doesn’t need another commodity.

    It would create an even bigger prison system than we already have. The enforcement aspect would create a bigger police state than we already have, and the invasion of a woman’s genital privacy would be enormous. Do you really want cops playing gynecologist?

  201. Karen,

    To believe that only by killing their offspring in the womb can women avoid being “powerless, stupid drudges” is far more misogynistic than anything I could dream up. And virtually all of the early feminists (Susan B Anthony, etc) would agree with me on that.

  202. kmw,

    You’re creating a false dichotomy, perhaps fueled by a recognition of the excesses of the War on Drugs. An anti-abortion regime need not degenerate into “cops playing gynecologist”. It is quite possible to set up a system where abortion is illegal and the right to be free from unreasonable searches is upheld. Even now, we allow murderers (of already-born persons) to go free rather than violate this right, do we not?

  203. crimethink: is your goal to prolong this discussion long enough so that the rest of us don’t have time for sex?

  204. It is quite possible to set up a system where abortion is illegal and the right to be free from unreasonable searches is upheld.

    If that is indeed true, then any such laws would be just symbolic anyway. If there’s a refusal to go searching for proof of a miscarriage versus an intentional abortion, doctors will just coach women to say they had a miscarriage.

    All of this is really just looking at navel lint with a microscope. Congress isn’t going to pass any bans on first trimester abortions, the biggest (population) states aren’t going to ban it, so it’s a matter of allowing state autonomy. And I can’t say I’m against that.

  205. doctors will just coach women to say they had a miscarriage.

    Uh, yeah, we handle situations like this already with undercover cops, don’t we?

  206. Just like we have vice cops.

    So which way to you want it? If there are laws, they’re either inforced or they’re not. If they are, it gets messy.

  207. If this debate was about third trimester abortions, I wouldn’t be arguing with you.

    And while this back and forth can be somewhat fun, I don’t think we’re going to come to an agreement.

  208. kmw,

    Laws against the sale of alcohol to minors are strictly enforced, yet every teenager is not required to take a daily BAC test. There is a middle ground between legalizing something and enforcing a ban against it with police-state tactics.

    But I’m done with this argument. As Jennifer noted, I’m doing little to aid my cause by being led around by the nose by my opponents, whose arguing style resembles:

    1. An embryo is not a human being.

    2. It is a human being, but it is not a person.

    3. What about rape victims with hypertension?

    4. It doesn’t matter that it’s a person, because it’s in my body.

    5. Well, yeah, but I have to have sex!!

    6. Ok, well it would be a mess to enforce.

    7. Yeah, but is it really a human being….

    and so on. I’m done chasing my tail, good night. I’ll let my comments thus far speak for themselves.

  209. Abortion is a form of surgery, and in the 19th Century all forms of surgery were dangerous. People frequently died in those days from abscessed teeth. Antisepsis had only just been discovered in Susan B. Anthony’s day, and the germ theory of disease wasn’t accepted yet. The suffragettes opposed abortion because most women who had ’em in those days died.

    My larger point is that control of our reproduction is essential for women to participate in the market place. A woman without her own money is a powerless, abused, drudge. How do we assure women the ability to hold a job and obtain their own money without birth control and abortion?

  210. Karen,

    Giving birth was also pretty dangerous in those days, but if you need evidence of Anthony’s reasoning:

    Guilty? Yes. No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed [abortion]. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!

    Susan B Anthony, The Revolution, 4(1):4 July 8, 1869

  211. Argh.

    Quick responses to anon2:

    1) You’ve lost me on the references to “choosing” of DNA being somehow equivalent to the union/formation of a full set of human DNA in a conceived blastocyst. If an entity is entitled to human rights, it should be on the basis of some characteristic inherent in that entity — not the actions, attitudes or choices of some external party. Otherwise, “you’re only as human as I think you are.”

    2) Wasn’t trying to make a switch with the refrence to somatic cells. In making my DNA-based argument, I was just trying to anticipate the common counter-argument of, “Well, what about an ordinary blood cell or a skin cell? That has enough DNA in it to make a full human being, if you clone it.

    3) “Some unique and critical things, relating to what makes an entity both individual and human, happen in association with conception.” Can you name one unique and critical thing? The DNA choice happens before conception, at least in in-vitro fertilization.

    Yes, the union of the complete set of DNA required to make an unique human individual and start it growing and developing along those lines, in a form with the inherent capability to do so. “Choice?” — not getting the relevance.

    4) “More than even the development of a central nervous system, I think. The blastocyst will have a nervous system if you’ll only not screw with it. ” That’s simply not true in a probabilistic sense.

    I was speaking of innate capacities, not probabilities. As if I’d said, “Once a child is born, it will develop into full-grown adult.” In terms of innate capacity, this is true. In probabalistic terms, in many poor countries, it is not true. In many countries today, and during much of human history, most infants die before reaching their third birthday. (Speaking from vaguely remembered reading; pardon if figures are not exact, but you get my drift.) You couldn’t use that as an argument that the infant is less than human.

    5) A lot of people think that… — sorry, I didn’t mean to be arguing from strength of numbers. (Voting/democracy is preference-finding mechanism, not a truth-finding mechanism.) I only meant, “There is a certain point of view that holds…” and elaborate in support of that view.

    6) I think you have a point about convenience, but I would say it’s not just about convenience, but Ockham’s Razor. As far as I can see, the arguments for other “beginnings” are more convoluted and therefore logically suspect. Support of this argument: My counter-arguments for the other alternatives given above.

    That was meant to be brief. Gotta run do a work thing now. We probably will never agree, but I acknowledge the intelligence of your arguments nevertheless. Congratulations on your children, my impression is that they are fortunate to have you as a parent.

  212. The Republicans are declaring war on the family and they don’t even realize it. Parents must have the right to make the final decision whether their children live or die, otherwise the state is interfering in what has always been the prerogative of the family. In true family oriented societies – China, ancient Rome, etc. infanticide was accepted and not controversial. Outlawing abortion is no different than left wing “child rights” laws. They strengthen the state at the expense of the family.

  213. Stevo,

    Perhaps it’s not clear what I’m saying, so for a moment, let’s imagine we were talking about numbers. If you had claimed that 8 is more even than 10, I might call you out on it and say, 8 is indeed even, but so is 10. They’re both exactly the same even. Perhaps you’d come back and point out that 8 is a power of 2 and 10 isn’t and in that sense 8 is more even (it can be divided by 2 3 times). Depending on the context of “even”, I might even agree with you.

    I’m not claiming that fertilization is not a logical “most major milestone”. I’m just arguing that, sans religious argument, it’s not any more logical than, say, formation of central nervous system. With that in mind, here’s my “quick” response to your “quick” response. The context is embryos/blastocysts created via in-vitro fertilization.

    1) You mentioned “it’s own DNA” in the context of “an entity that is distinct from its parents.” I don’t deny that a fertilized egg has it’s own DNA; I’m pointing out that once you select an egg and a sperm, that combination, even before they’re mixed, has “it’s own DNA” “distinct from its parents”. It will also have its own DNA distinct from its parents when the central nervous system forms. It’s true that fertilization occurs first, but choice of egg and sperm happens even before that.

    2) Well, the question was “human being” versus “not human being”. Unless you stipulate that a fertilized egg is a “human being”, there’s not much in common between a fertilized egg and a human being. If you do stipulate that, then you don’t need to argue anything else.

    3) The process of in-vitro fertilization begins long before sperm and egg are mixed. In that sense, the child that is born (if in-vitro is successful) has started growing when they start pumping the woman with fertility drugs. That may seem like a tenuous description of growing, but that’s what it is. They grow the ovaries so that there will be a bunch of eggs to extract. Before my wife and I start a round of in-vitro, nothing we do together is for procreation. However, when we start a round, that’s not only our goal, that’s what the various drugs and procedures are doing to her body. They’re starting to make a kid. The process in general starts long before conception, but if you want to argue about DNA, I think it makes more sense to argue when the DNA is chosen, rather than when it’s combined. Otherwise you’re saying “the combination of DNA is the logical place to decide when you have a human, because … that’s when you combine the DNA”.

    4) In the context of in-vitro fertilization, once a sperm has been chosen for each egg, all (egg, sperm) pairs have enough DNA to specify the kid that will result if that pair happens to make it to birth. It’s true that putting them together is one of many steps necessary to get a kid, but it’s only one step. Another step is transfer of the blastocyst into the woman. Skip that step and you also won’t get a kid. If you claim that an egg fertilized in a test tube has an innate ability to turn into a kid, I’ll claim that the unfertilized egg with a nice sperm chosen for it has that same innate ability. All the material is there whether it’s mixed or not. Mixing isn’t sufficient to get a kid. As such, either both parts not mixed have this ability or the combination of the two doesn’t. This is different when fertilization occurs within the woman. Then implantation is the default.

    6) Ockham’s Razor doesn’t apply, because the question is a subjective one, not an objective one. This might become more apparent if you consider that people often ask the question “when does life begin?”. When that is asked the answer is obviously before conception, since sperm and egg are both alive. It is very hard to articulate the question you’re really asking, and if you succeed in articulating it in a manner that is satisfactory to you, it isn’t necessarily satisfactory to someone else.

    Thanks for the congratulations. The kids are a lot of fun. They, and many others, wouldn’t exist without in-vitro fertilization. We stopped in-vitro after our twin girls were born. We had some left over blastocysts and marked them for donation, but the rules prohibit us from finding out what actually happened to them.

    In the case of a couple like ourselves, the process to have our kids started with the fertility injections and didn’t stop until the C-sections. I’m not religious and in some sense, the signing of the check was the first step in having our kids. Clearly at some point in the process they became individual little human beings. However, I don’t think that happened when the sperm and eggs were paired but not mixed. I don’t think that happened when they were mixed, but there was no cell division. I don’t think it happened when the 5-day blastocysts were transferred into my wife. I do think it happened before the umbilical cords were cut.

  214. You are quite right…but it is a shame that some here are quick to wield someone’s religious beliefs as a weapon against him, and then refuse to listen when he defends himself.

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because someone thinks your answers are crazy, they aren’t listening to you.

  215. “So, RexRhino, you believe that after normal delivery of a healthy, full-term baby, the mother should be able to take a hammer to its skull, so long as the umbilical cord isn’t cut. That doing so would be morally on par with trimming a toenail.

    Oookay.”

    Is the plecenta still attached to the utreus too? (I haven’t taken Biology past 10th grade level and have forgotten most of it since, so I’m not sure at what point the placenta does detatch. Excuse my ignorance if it does remain a while after birth.) If attachment to the mother is the demarcation between mother’s body and seperate entity, then sure.

    Honestly, however, my opinion is once a baby has developed to a point that it can thrive outside the womb nearly the same as a full term birth (or just like a premature birth) is when it qualifies as a seperate entity; if the fetus would certainly perish if removed, it is still part of the mother and thus her decision of its fate.

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