Democratic Convention 2008

"The baptismal font is full of condoms. Now that's a progressive church."

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If you're looking to get some hotted-up zealots screaming right in your face, you couldn't do better than braving the protestors outside the meeting of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, where I just got brained on my way in to speak with president and CEO Carlton W. Veazey, a minister of the National Baptist Convention U.S.A. The protectors of the unborn urged me to take as many pictures as possible "so it will haunt your conscience." The anti-abortion activist s have been trying to crash the meeting throughout the day.

Both sides enjoy slam-dunk choices this time around, with Obama's pro-choice chops well established and McCain being the relatively rare Republican with a consistent and apparently sincere pro-life position. Veazey (who graciously provided this post with its title while describing a church he likes in Cape Town) argues that his seemingly oxymoronic coalition is no less legitimate than the religous people on the other side, given how widely the major religions differ on the question of when life begins. Does increasingly early viability threaten to undermine that diversity? No, says Veazey, who notes that plenty of preemies come out pretty damaged.

Which raises the old question of abortion and eugenics. I put the question to Veazey, and, well, he didn't say no. "Remember the 1964 Civil Rights Act?" he said. "After that we had it all. We had the law on our side, we had the country on our side. And it was teenage pregnancy that kept us from moving ahead. It was teenage pregnancy that fueled the crime and drug use in our community, which is why Joycelyn Elders has said 70 percent of the poverty in our community is due to teen pregnancy."

And here's a fun bible quote the RCRC likes to throw around.

Related: Ron Bailey gets an audience with the ghost of Pope Paul VI.

NEXT: Everybody Loves Joe! And Nation-Building!

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  1. I agree.

  2. These assholes used to come to my college with the photos of the dead embryos magnified 1000x or pictures of stillbirths and scream out in the commons every spring.

  3. If it really is the picture of an aborted bady and not a still birth or a photoshop, they should put it up. If abortion is just a medical procedure, it shouldn’t bother you. A picture of a diseased liver or removed appendix grosses me out a bit but doesn’t disturb me. Why should a picture of aborted fetal tissue bother anyone?

  4. That bible quote references an accidental miscarriage, not a deliberate abortion.

    And even then it specifies a punishment.

    So, I don’t think it supports them the way they must think it supports them.

  5. “After that we had it all. We had the law on our side, we had the country on our side. And it was teenage pregnancy that kept us from moving ahead. It was teenage pregnancy that fueled the crime and drug use in our community, which is why Joycelyn Elders has said 70 percent of the poverty in our community is due to teen pregnancy.”

    WTF? Yeah, if we just could have killed the little black bastards before they were born, we wouldn’t have had all of these problems. I can understand the arguments about privacy and control of your body and when life begins. But that is just fucked up.

  6. Please. No. Not again.

    I’m pro-something and anti-something else. If you disagree you’re an immoral hellbound sinner.

  7. (i) Embryos and fetuses are children. (ii) The life of an individual human being begins at conception. —Facts from Encyclopedia Britannica, 1991

    Chuck Baldwin says that McCain’s past words and acts are not consistent with a belief that life begins at conception.

  8. That bible quote references an accidental miscarriage, not a deliberate abortion.

    You’re missing the subtleties. The law outlined in the Old Testament essentially differentiates between two crimes: crimes against property and those against life. Crimes against property were restituted by fines, crimes against life by an eye-for-eye measure. Causing a miscarriage by trauma merits a fine, making it a property crime. OT law, then, doesn’t characterize fetuses as persons, or the crime would be paid for by the life of the offender.

  9. “…McCain being the relatively rare Republican with a consistent and apparently sincere pro-life position.”

    Ummm…

  10. (i) Embryos and fetuses are children. (ii) The life of an individual human being begins at conception. —Facts from Encyclopedia Britannica, 1991

    Did I miss the meeting where we decided the 1991 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica was our society’s final authority on ethics and metaphysics? Cause I will fight to the death, sirs, all who reject the true law of Encarta ’95!

  11. I thought life started a few billion years ago. Unless you believe in spontaneous generation, you realize that the fetus is alive. The question is, “When does the right to life begin?” You can make valid Libertarian aguements for both the pro-choice and the pro-life positions.

  12. I would say that most libertarians are pro-choice (to an extent). But there is a sizable and growing minority that are against legal abortion.

    The thing that confuses me most is that libertarians are such sticklers for science, and yet, many don’t believe that life begins at conception. I mean isn’t that 7th grade biology?!

    And you don’t have to be a religious fanatic to be against abortion. (http://www.l4l.org)

  13. Thank you jtuf. I once heard George Smith present the argument that “parents may boil their children in oil” as a queer result of a valid libertarian argument, one he did not try to refute. Smith is intelligent down to his fingertips, and his diffident body language at that time made me doubt that one can consistently uphold abortion while proscribing infanticide as a free parental choice.

    I don’t see how a belief in spontaneous generation would hinder a realization that a fetus is alive. However, the categorization is not as living or nonliving but as individual human being or not. The encyclopedia demonstrates that a fetus is an individual human life, namely, a child.

  14. Anonymo, my hearty friend, these encyclopedia statements are neither ethical judgments nor metaphysical speculations.

  15. Anonymo, my hearty friend, these encyclopedia statements are neither ethical judgments nor metaphysical speculations.

    If they make assertions about the rights and moral status a fetus or embryo enjoys, then yeah, they are. To say “a fetus is alive” the way my pancreas is “alive” is just a scientific claim, but that’s not what you claim the encyclopedia says.

  16. …many don’t believe that life begins at conception. I mean isn’t that 7th grade biology?!

    Have you considered the possibility that your 7th grade biology class (more likely titled ‘life science’) was just a simplified introduction to the a vast subject that would take years to get a sound footing on and lifetime of dedicated effort to master?

  17. “””The question is, “When does the right to life begin?” You can make valid Libertarian aguements for both the pro-choice and the pro-life positions”””

    The so called right to live is an odd one. Many anti-abortion people will claim life is a God given right yet, they have little problem with the government superseding God’s given right when it’s a form of punishment. If they are willing to allow government to trump God, why not the citizens themselves?

  18. Anonymo the Anonymous wrote:

    If they make assertions about the rights and moral status a fetus or embryo enjoys, then they are […statements of ethics]

    Thank you. I do not think that they make such assertions, since they are statements of fact.

    “a fetus is alive” [is] not what you claim the encyclopedia says.

    You are correct. The encyclopedia says, in science entries, that a child is an individual human being from conception (assuming that the encyclopedia is self-consistent across entries).

  19. I think this thread may be dying, so I’ll post my other thought at this point. When I saw my own child emerge from its mother, it was blue and quiet, and I was beginning to rapidly convince myself that it was not alive. I was wrong.

    And just now have I lighted upon the answer to Reason contributor Fredrick Turner’s beautiful question: Why do they paint my Krishna’s body blue?

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