Abortions for All! Very Well: Abortions for No One!

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This clip from the final Obama-McCain showdown is making the rounds:

My first reaction was bemused surprise at a national candidate using scare quotes to make a point. But after a while I remembered one of McCain's final breakout moments from the 2000 primary campaign, when he pummelled George W. Bush for accepting the pro-life plank of the GOP platform… which would prohibit legal abortion with no exceptions.

Some element of McCain's popularity, before this campaign, came from the impression that he was a moderate on all of the issues that so irritate independents about the GOP. That 2000 moment was formative in this. This week's moment reveals how tough it is to maintain that kind of image in the heat of a campaign. It doesn't exactly help if (and both candidates have done this) you alter your position and sound just as passionate as you did before.

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  1. Somehow, I think putting “scare quotes” around “health” of the mother is a bigger deal than “spread the wealth” with swing voters or the “Plumber” named “Joe” from Ohio.

  2. It is.

  3. I really have no idea who this guy is anymore. He is just flopping around. He obviously has good ideas, and many things he says resonate – but he has 5 ideas at once and only manages to say the first 3 words of each idea in rapid sucession rendering himself incomprehensible.

  4. I never much paid attention to McCain over the last 2 decades. I am wondering. How in God’s name has this man gotten re-elected so many times?

  5. Mac: Pro-choice is pro-death!

    Megan: Wow! Great rhetoric!

    Mac: Thank you.

    Megan: Hey, you’re really hardcore, aren’t you?

    Mac: Oh, well, you know. I mean, if you really want to see hardcore…

    Megan: What’s this?

    Mac: That’s the list of doctors I’m gonna kill.

    Megan: There’s two already crossed out.

    Mac: Yeah, I know.

  6. How in God’s name has this man gotten re-elected so many times?

    Well, there was that little law he worked on; what’s it called…?

  7. You mean the McCain/Feingold Incumbent Protection Act?

  8. Disclaimer: McCain is full of shit. He doesn’t care for the unborn. He pretends to support the rights of the unborn because he’s desperate. In the unlikely event that he actually won the election, McCain will forget all his fine phrases about being against abortion.

    In the real world, “health of the mother” has traditionally been a talismanic phrase to justify killing the unborn child. The rationale is so broad as to allow abortions because the mother is depressed about the pregnancy. Allowing a “health” exception is simply a Trojan horse.

    If you want a “health” exception to an abortion ban, then would you want to extend that exception to an infanticide ban? Would you be willing to come out and say that it’s OK to kill the post-born child because of broadly-defined “health” reasons, like post-partum depression? If not, then the matter at issue is the humanity of the fetus, and let’s discuss the matter in those terms.

  9. How in God’s name has this man gotten re-elected so many times?

    He was a POW.

  10. What if Jesus was aborted?

  11. BDB,

    “Health” of the mother refers to “psychological health”.”Life” of the mother refers to physical health.A “health” of the mother qualifier on late term abortions-infanticide-means there is no restriction at all.

    None of this should be in the purview of the Federal government.Unfortunately, the Supreme Court got us into this mess in 1973.

  12. Yeah SIV, a Senator like McCain knows what health is, but not an actual doctor. Let’s let the politicians decide, instead. Clearly they know more than the woman and the doctor ever could.

    Spare me.

  13. What if Jesus was aborted?

    Mad Max would be foaming at the mouth about the Bhagavad G?t?.

  14. Mr. Bartram, I have never met a vietnam vet that was willing to pimp his war experience for personal gain.

  15. bro ben,

    You have watch McCain drop his POW experience into every possible situation haven’t you? He deserves to do whatever he wants with his reputation – but it makes me a little ill the way he does it.

  16. If you want a “health” exception to an abortion ban, then would you want to extend that exception to an infanticide ban?

    You really, really don’t get the “it’s the mother’s body and she should have total control over it” argument, do you? Like, not even a little.

  17. I’d allow a one-time exception on “pimping war experience” if it’s what you need to do to shut up Alan Keyes. No problem for me in that exchange.

  18. “What if Jesus was aborted?”

    Hey, I just saw Religulous last night!

  19. When anti-choicers bring up infanticide, it’s kind of like when animal rights nuts bring up guys who torture dogs for fun. It’s a big, giant, fucking red herring.

  20. McCain was positioning himself as the more moderate, electable candidate in 2000. His rhetoric in the debate is much more in line with his voting record than his rhetoric in 2000.

  21. BDB,

    You asked, I answered why the scare quotes are around health.

  22. “Health” of the mother refers to “psychological health”.”Life” of the mother refers to physical health.

    I love how things are so cut-and-dried in the world of fetal adulation. What if the mother will have to be on dialysis for the rest of her life if she carries to term? Her life is not in danger, just her health. So she should obviously be forced to irreparably damage her kidneys in order to save what pretty much amounts to a fish swimming around in her belly, sucking her bodily resources.

    Yes, psychological pretexts have often been used in the past under “health of the mother” laws, but if you think there aren’t women who would sooner kill themselves than carry to term you are dead wrong. There were many who did exactly this in back alleys all over the country.

    But sure, let’s discuss the humanity of the fetus. Let’s talk about how it’s self-aware, conscious, has conscious preferences, that sort of thing.

  23. Ugh should have closed italics after “physical health.”

  24. And I still say McCain did himself zero favor with women swing voters. White, moderate Republican women swing voters that live in places like NoVA, Denver, and Tampa.

    But he did get that up-for-grabs fringe pro-life vote. Oh well, forget the up for grabs part.

  25. What if Jesus was aborted?

    Three days later, some really weird shi*t would have gone down in the Joseph home.

  26. “You really, really don’t get the ‘it’s the mother’s body and she should have total control over it’ argument, do you? Like, not even a little.”

    What rights does a baby have over *its* own body?

    (Just to clarify, McCain is full of shit and doesn’t care about the unborn).

  27. Mad Max–

    I don’t think the word “baby” means what you think it means. Fetus. FETUS. EMBRYO.

    A baby is a born. A fetus is not born. Not “unborn child”, not “baby”, fetus.

  28. But since your idea of women’s health involves a coat hanger and a back alley, I won’t expect you to understand the difference.

  29. terminating the life of a child should be legal until they turn 18.

  30. BDB,

    Yeah, just speak in code to the base of PWWATBI. How many of them were actually going to vote for B. HUSSEIN Obama anyway?

  31. oh boy. here we go

  32. When anti-choicers bring up infanticide, it’s kind of like when animal rights nuts bring up guys who torture dogs for fun.

    Well, pro-abortionists should be required to defend the positions of the less powerful reproductive rights positions, too. Like infanticide. Or something. Hey, it works for gay marriage.

  33. Yeah rhywun pro-choice people are really jonesing to leaglize infanticide.

    In other news, those of us who favor drug legalization want to give crack to six year olds.

  34. oh boy. here we go

    Yeah, I’m bailing soon. This will probably get ugly.

  35. “In other news, those of us who favor drug legalization want to give crack to six year olds.”

    only with the hope that it’s an aphrodisiac.

  36. The trick to speaking in code to your base is to make sure that what you’re saying sounds innocuous to normal people.

    Dismissing the concept of a mother’s health as a trick by the abortionists? Not so much with the innocuous thingie.

  37. The curious thing to me is that McCain is, at this late date, doing things that appeal only to the very hardcore repubs.

  38. I’m bailing too. I figure slavery comparisons will be next, and at that point it’s no more productive than arguing with someone who, after I tell them I favor drug legalization, they respond with OMG! YOU WANT TO LET MY LITTLE JOHNNY TAKE PCP IN FIRST GRADE??

  39. Joe, as well as his answer that suggested that a judge that agrees with Roe v Wade is unqualified to sit on the SCOTUS.

  40. I’m with domoarrigato here.

  41. You really, really don’t get the “it’s the mother’s body and she should have total control over it” argument, do you?

    Post fetal-viability* there are more than one individual’s rights at stake.

    *Post-conception/pre-viability I am sympathetic to the notion that the mother’s rights trump the fetus’ rights,if not morally then as a practical matter of privacy and keeping the State out of the whole thing.

  42. Also, how you run in a primary is different from how you run in a general. McCain’s just getting it confused. You’re supposed to run to the extreme in a primary and to the center in the general. Derrr

  43. What rights does a baby have over *its* own body?

    The fetus (not a baby, Max) has no rights while it is residing in the woman’s womb. The right to control your own body of a fully developed human woman supersedes the amorphous “rights” of a completely undeveloped fetus.

  44. brotherben,

    It’s a balancing act. With the media calling this a done deal, his only hope at this point is the Bradley effect and making sure the base doesn’t get too discouraged to actually bother with voting.

    But… that said… the was in no danger of losing the PWWATBI base in the first place. You think it would have been a tip of the hat to evangelicals more murky to the left. I think it’s is a gaffe, just like the totally uncoded “spread the wealth around” from Obama.

  45. only with the hope that it’s an aphrodisiac.

    You fucking rule, dude.

  46. How is it murder in some states, ironically in states that allow abortion, to cause the death of a fetus?

  47. brotherben,

    Equal parts sentimentality and a back-door tactic to illegalize abortion that has mostly failed but keeps a light alive in the base.

  48. The right to control your own body of a fully developed human woman supersedes the amorphous “rights” of a completely undeveloped fetus.

    I tend to agree as a legal if not moral matter.

    What about a completely viable “fetus” that is capable of living outside the womb?
    I believe that is the issue referred to in the original post.

  49. It’s only murder to kill white, wanted, wealthy babies. It’s a public service when you abort black or hispanic, accidental, low income fetuses.

  50. Compromise: Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.

  51. What about a completely viable “fetus” that is capable of living outside the womb?

    If the mother agrees to have it removed to live outside, fine, but she would have to undergo the operation to do this, so her rights still supersede and she has to agree.

  52. An underdeveloped fetus.

    Head,

    Shhh . . . you’ll blow their cover!

  53. You don’t actually think that somehow shocks me, do you Max? How pathetic. But it is an excellent example of your failure to present a logical, non-emotion-based position here: you try to provoke emotional responses with pictures instead of presenting an argument.

  54. SIV,

    Still not a legal matter. Despite the rhetoric, very few late-term abortions are performed on an elective basis. The ability to abort children that are brain-dead, would live for only a few hours outside the womb anyway, or would kill the mother during birth is too valuable for women’s health than the handful done because of the desire not to have a child.

    Morally? I think a late-term elective situation should be a live-birth adoption, but I’m not going to advocate the use of force to tell a woman she should have to do that.

  55. Mad Max – I hope you didn’t misunderstand my comment to be sarcastic.

  56. Are we endorsing some version of the “dependancy” argument – you can kill the fetus because it’s dependant on the mother for its existence? That used to be a key talking point for the “choice” crowd. Of course, the argument proves too much, because an infant in the cradle is just as much dependent on its parents as an infant in the womb is dependent on its mother. So they then retreat to the argument that a woman can’t be *conscripted* into carrying a child in the womb – the contrast is to post-born children, who can be put up for adoption so that it is not “necessary” to kill the fetus. But that also concedes too much, because eventually we might come up with technologies of surrogate motherhood or artificial wombs such that a woman can eject the fetus and put it in the care of another woman, or of an artificial womb, without destroying or “terminating” the fetus. The pro-“choise” crowd is uncomfortable with this, because they don’t want to make the fatal concession that women can be “forced” to save the lives of their own children even if this means removing the “parasite” from their womb.

  57. At weaker times, I hope some of the pro-lifers will someday have to endure what my wife and I did, but it’s hard to sustain this feeling because it’s so mean, even for people who so sorely deserve every bit of it. Here’s the story.

    We live in a red state where it’s hard, but not impossible, to get an abortion after the very early stages (it’s easy at that point).

    We had a very much wanted pregnancy.

    My wife is prone to gestational diabetes (temporary), which can lead to Type-II (permenant) and other nasty stuff.

    The baby girl had trisomy 18, and by the time we learned this, we were past the “take a pill” stage, and well into the “you need to have a real procedure” stage – and not one of the easy ones.

    Having to fight through some religious nut doctors to get them to take the baby out because it was incompatible with life (likely to die before delivery; guaranteed to die soon thereafter; with nothing but a short and extremely painful existence) but would still make my wife’s health suffer as long as she carried her with possible permanent consequences for her was pretty goddamn brutal. All so SkyDaddy could have a chance to wave his magic hand and fix her chromosomes, my wife was supposed to carry our daughter to term only to see her either deliver dead or live through a short painful few days (at best).

    Because of these religious asswipes, what we ended up having to do was go to a more sympathetic doctor who couldn’t perform the actual delivery (not qualified), but he could (and did) inject the baby with salt so she died, hopefully painlessly, and then the ob/gyn would pretend she didn’t know how the baby died and would then induce a delivery.

    So fuck the lot of you. I wouldn’t vote for a Republican at this point in my life if he had a firehose and my house was on fire.

    But I still don’t really hope you have to go through that, when it comes to brass tacks. Some things are just too inhuman even for inhuman fucks like you.

  58. Oh, in case that wasn’t clear, that whole thing shows why people who think “health of the mother” is just an excuse need to die in a fire. We didn’t need an excuse. We desperately wanted to not have an excuse. We wanted a live, healthy, baby girl.

  59. More abortions means fewer little boys for priests to rape.

  60. The thing is to people that aren’t deeply in the abortion rights debate, the scare quotes around mother’s health makes you sound like an insensitive prick and doesn’t appeal to swing voters at all.

  61. VoR,

    I am sorry that you went through such a family tragedy, and I share your contempt for Republicans. I hope that the pro-choicers forgive you for using the term “baby.”

  62. MadMax, you and yours would have made it even harder for us to do what we had to do. The pro-choice people, even if I don’t like their language, never make anybody who wants a child have an abortion.

    The difference is crystal-clear to me.

    And I would think libertarians would be particularly prone to calling bullshit on pro-life arguments given the incredibly intrusive apparatus which would be necessary to actually enforce such abortion laws and the anti-liberty side effects that would inevitably occur.

    Evidently your expressed contempt for Republicans is more like self-loathing.

  63. Ulterior – I like your style.

  64. VoR – though I’m sympathetic to your situation, you’re basically appealing to emotion, and I’m not inclined to make a decision either way based on (admittedly tragic) tearjerkers.

  65. TAO, I’m not expecting policy to be made by anectdote, but I am expecting people to understand that the claim that “health of the mother” is inevitably just an excuse for “I wanted an abortion” is a load of crap being pushed by very bad people. We obviously didn’t ‘want’ one, and my wife’s health was actually at stake (we were obviously going to take the risk for a healthy, live, baby, although others might choose differently).

    There are lots of other reasons why carrying a pregnancy to term can impact the health of a mother (without being a matter of life and death). This is just one, but it’s sufficient to disprove the claim.

  66. “Evidently your expressed contempt for Republicans is more like self-loathing.”

    Indeed, the fact that I am not, nor have ever been, a Republican, is a mere coincidence. Pray remind me who is the “self” that I am loathing?

    I know you’ve been through a traumatic time, but that’s no excuse for calling someone a Republican.

  67. What exactly does “PWWATBI” stand for?

  68. VoR – although I recognize that there are valid health concerns, I can also see how “health of the mother” has become an exceptionally elastic exception clause that pretty much swallows any ban.

  69. Hey Max, got any more pictures? That seems to be the extent of your argument.

  70. Epi, my puter won’t go to max’s link. Should I be okay with that?

  71. Shem,

    People Who Want Abortion To Be Illegal

    I use it as a neutral description. The opposite is PWWATBL.

  72. I swear, during the debate, about half my remaining respect for John McCain went out the window when he repeatedly used the term “pro-abortion.”

  73. I can only apologize to you for the choices and actions that this countrys inane politics made you endure. you are black, right?

  74. Yep, it got ugly. Go figure.

    Moving along…

  75. Knee surgery is gory, too.

    brotherben | October 17, 2008, 11:12am | #

    How is it murder in some states, ironically in states that allow abortion, to cause the death of a fetus?

    Because the super-geniuses in the anti-abortion movement decided that it would be a really terrific way to advance their agenda by enshrining into the law the principle that the it is the wishes of the mother that determine whether terminating an pregnancy is or is not murder.

    Thanks, guys! You rule!

    an infant in the cradle is just as much dependent on its parents as an infant in the womb is dependent on its mother

    What kind of dumbass shit is this? A fetus in utero is physiologically dependent on the mother for its oxygen and food; a baby in a cradle car breath on its own, and can be given an bottle by anyone with opposable thumbs.

  76. A fetus in utero is physiologically dependent on the mother for its oxygen and food
    After 6 months or so the baby is viable ex utero if you take it out in one piece.
    Hint:They don’t take it out in one piece.

  77. SIV,

    you seem to be deliberately trying to obscure the fact that a doctor cutting out a fetus with surgical instruments isn’t remotely the same as a person picking a baby up out of a crib. In case my argument isn’t clear: in one situation the baby is independant, in the other it is obviously not.

  78. SIV,

    “If.”

    If you deliver a pre-term fetus, it ceases to be in utero. The comment I was replying to was: an infant in the cradle is just as much dependent on its parents as an infant in the womb is dependent on its mother.

    That’s just not true.

  79. Abortions for some, miniature American flags for everyone!!

    Vote Kodos for President
    Kang for VP

  80. joe,

    Damned newborns, sitting around pooping and crying instead of being self-reliant and getting a damned job!

    When a baby reaches for a bottle, you know what it’s saying? It’s saying “I am a leech! I do not want to contribute to soci – uh, I mean, contribute to my individual self-fulfillment and self-esteem!”

  81. So, Mad Max and joe, when you guys have a discussion, is it like looking at yourselves in a mirror?

  82. When anti-choicers bring up infanticide, it’s kind of like when animal rights nuts bring up guys who torture dogs for fun. It’s a big, giant, fucking red herring.

    Oh, come on, you can do a more subtle job of trolling than this.

    Or do you really believe that people who believe human life starts at an earlier moment than you believe it does have no real reason to call the killing of what they consider an unborn human being infanticide?

    It’s one thing to disagree with their assessment of when human life begins — it’s a far less laudable thing to not even attempt to understand their POV and then call them insincere.

  83. zoltan,

    I suppose there’s no point in trying to keep it secret any longer. It all began one night at the genetics lab. I was being bred as the perfect test-tube baby. The scientists got nervous that I might die right there on my petri dish, so they decided to clone me so they’d have a backup. The cloning was going swimmingly, until one of the inexperienced lab assistants inadverdently put some contaminated radioactive genes from one of their earlier experiments (a guy now known as James Carville – but that’s another story) and put those genes in the clone’s DNA. That was the origin of joe. We have been mortal enemies ever since.

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