Vatican Issues Updated Prohibtions on Reproductive Technologies

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Nothing much new here, but the document, Dignitas Personae, according to Reuters, has ruled the following reproductive techniques as immoral:

—in vitro fertilization.

— research in and use of embryonic stem cells.

— post-fertilization birth control methods such as morning after pills, the so-called abortion pill RU-486 (mifepristone) and the inter-uterine device (IUD).

— surrogate motherhood.

— human cloning, both reproductive and therapeutic.

— hybrid cloning using animal oocytes (immature female germ cells) to reprogram the nuclei of human somatic cells.

— freezing embryos or oocytes for use in artificial fertilization.

— pre-implantation diagnosis of embryos to avoid genetic defects or select for gender or other qualities.

— reduction of implanted embryos to prevent multiple births.

— intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to overcome male fertility problems.

— germ line cell therapy to modify genes transmitted to offspring.

— genetic enhancement for purposes other than medical treatment.

— use of human biological material of illicit origin, such as experimentation on human embryos.

Reuters also reports:

Saying life was sacred from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death, the document also defended the Roman Catholic Church's right to intervene on such matters.

Intervene? The church as the right to try to intervene, and others have the right to prevent its intervention. 

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  1. The Pope and the Catholic religion are dinos, along with all other religions. I put the pope up there with bin laden. they are both egomaniacle despots!

  2. the document also defended the Roman Catholic Church’s right to intervene on such matters.

    Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

  3. hmmm, I smell Akira McKensize

  4. I’m so glad there are millions (billions?) of people who allow their morals to be determined by a guy in a funny hat who drives a distorted white Batmobile.

  5. the document also defended the Roman Catholic Church’s right to intervene on such matters.
    __________________________________________
    I am sure the swiss soldiers with the ax type weapons that gaurd the vatican can really help the Pope, intervine! Yeah right. A power freak without any real power, execpt for the dullards who listen to him!

  6. Don’t worry, Ronald. I’m sure the big, scary Pope isn’t going to stand in the way of your surrogate motherhood. You’re not a Catholic, which means you are not (voluntarily) subscribing to these codes of behavior.

    Why is this important for non-Catholics again?

  7. The Pope is Batman? Well, that explains a few things.

  8. Just correcting a typo here:

    The church ‘as the right to try to intervene, and others ‘ave the right to prevent its intervention [cor blimey, guv].

    That’s better.

  9. Are these rules to be adopted by the AMA and integrated into its standard of conduct?

    Will the federal government be enforcing these rules in conjunction with the Department of Health & Human Services?

    It’s a fine line. I don’t think people should make fun of people’s religious beliefs generally, and I personally wouldn’t make fun of Catholics for theirs. But I think their leadership should be ridiculed relentlessly.

  10. Why is this important for non-Catholics again?

    Um, because Catholics vote?

  11. I thought the Easter Rabbit was pope now.

  12. To be fair, libertarians have the same pasionate attachment to their dogmas as the church does to its. Different dogmas, same mindset.

  13. So a child that is the product of in vitro fertilization is like the Omen?

  14. Quit posting as me Welch.

  15. The Pope is Batman? Well, that explains a few things.

    I thought the Easter Rabbit was pope now.

    No, he’s Egghead. Jesus is the Riddler, and Mary is Catwoman (Julie Newmar version, of course).

  16. Why link to a summary in Reuters when you can link tothe document itself?

  17. “Um, because Catholics vote?”

    Dignitas Personae has nothing to do with voting, it concerns rules that Catholics follow. If there were a post on Reason for every stupid religious rule in existence, I probably wouldn’t be reading Reason. Just don’t have that kind of time on my hands…

  18. What we should do i prohibit the POPE

  19. Ken Schultz-

    So, let me get this straight: You do not think it is a good idea make fun of people’s religious beliefs, generally, but it is ok to ridicule the leaders of the Catholic church? Ken, what are you thinking? Of course, any person who claims to be a devoted catholic and who subscribes to papist propaganda should be relentlessly ridiculed. Just as any person who pledges allegiance to science and subscribes to irrational, illogical gibberish like big bang theories should be relentlessly ridiculed.

  20. If the Pope isn’t Batman, how come he drives the Batmobile? Huh? Explain that one to me. And who else has the money to fund the Batman’s crimefighting ways? Sure, many think he might be Queen Elizabeth or Prince Charles, but I doubt it. They aren’t tough enough. Bill Gates can’t be him, because he’s too short. That leaves the Pope.

  21. Freedom of religion does not encompass a right to be free of criticism for one’s religious beliefs and practices.

  22. Pro Lib-

    How tall is the pope? I thought that he might be a wee bit vertically challenged.

  23. Did I say height? I misspoke. I meant that Bill Gates was too myopic to be the Batman. Sorry, I type faster than I think.

  24. But wait. The pope is LEFT HANDED!!!

  25. Bruce Wayne owns the pope? Christ, he’s even richer than I imagined.

  26. The prohibitions themsleves reflect a certain dark, gloomy, even nihilistic conception of life.

  27. I guess the pope is a caped crusader.

  28. Bruce Wayne can’t be the Batman. He’s a dilettante playboy loser.

  29. There’s a guy in a bat suit who wants to talk to you, ProL.

  30. Dude, Bruce Wayne is fictional. What the hell is wrong with you?

    Yep, the Pope is Batman. Vatican City is crime free since he came to town.

  31. I think by “the right to intervene” they meant the right to persuade Catholics to work to change government policy in these areas. It’s in response to the people who interpret separation of church and state to mean that religious beliefs should never influence political stances.

    No, I don’t think the pope is contemplating sending the Swiss Guards to the US to coerce us to overturn Griswold V Connecticut.

  32. — germ line cell therapy to modify genes transmitted to offspring.

    So if you could come up with a gene line therapy to correct the defect that transmits Huntington’s Chorea to one’s offspring, the Vatican would oppose it? (It does sound like you could use gene therapy to cure it in yourself.)

  33. So, is wasting sperm (read: jacking off) still on the list somewhere?

  34. Cunnivore-

    Don’t you know that the papacy has certain rights that emanate from the penumbras of the Vulgate?

  35. Troy-

    Why? Have you lost your sight?

  36. Why didn’t The Vatican simple release a document saying we only support s penis going into a vagina with no intervention as the only moral way to start and propagate human life? They are wrong, of course, but why not save time and ink?

  37. The Church document sees eugenic tendencies in modern biological manipulations. The Church has earned credibility on this issue, since she opposed the eugenic movement when that movement had captured the intellectual classes in America.

    Examine Elof Axel Carlson’s book The Unfit: A History of a Bad Idea, in which the author says: “It is not easy for me to acknowledge that liberals, socialists, outstanding physicians, social workers, philanthropists, and brilliant scholars (some of them Jewish) were as much a contributing force to the eugenics movement and what led to its perversion in the Holocaust as were the meanspirited, psychopathic, selfish, ignorant, and bigoted enthusiastics of the movement.”

    An empirically-based philosophy would ask why it is that the Church should be right from the very beginning on the issue of eugenics, as opposed to modern academics and journalists, who oppose it long after the eugenics movement has crested.

    A modern eugenics movement is forming, just as evil and unscientific as the prior movement. Who will oppose it? The lefty academics? The *Reason* journalists? I doubt they will do so, any more than their counterparts opposed the earlier eugenics movement. The Church will have to take up that cause.

  38. The Catholic beliefs on issues that involve embryos and blastocysts and their destiny are quite consistent and well-argued. This includes of course abortion, stem cell research, and artificial reproduction techniques that require the destruction of embryos. We may not agree with it, but it’s not really risible on these points.

    Now, the positions on contraception and gene therapy are absolutely batty, so have at it.

  39. Batty? See!?

  40. Mad Max,

    Eugenics got a bad name because of the way in which it was carried out. The early 20th century practitioners focused on the crude techniques of killing or sterilizing those with undesirable traits. Also, their estimation of which traits were desirable was heavily influenced by their own racist attitudes.

    But modern gene therapy, etc do not require violating the rights of people (or embryos, for those who believe such should have human rights). It’s hard to keep a straight face when someone brings up the spectre of the Holocaust as an argument against gene therapy to prevent Down’s syndrome.

  41. I wish I could get health insurance that didn’t pay for any of that stuff the Pope doesn’t like.

  42. “when someone brings up the spectre of the Holocaust”

    That’s funny – the eugenics movement flourished first in America, and I said nothing about the Holocaust. To be sure, National Socialist publications did cite favorably the American eugenists, so thank you for bringing that up. Still, Buck v. Bell (1927) and the laws it upheld were in the 1920s or earlier, before the National Socialists took over Germany.

    “But modern gene therapy, etc do not require violating the rights of people (or embryos, for those who believe such should have human rights).”

    Then why does these new techniques so often require the “destruction of embryos”? Especially since it’s not necessary?

  43. “The early 20th century practitioners focused on the crude techniques of killing or sterilizing those with undesirable traits.”

    Unlike today, of course, when embryos with undesirable traits are simply killed without being sterilized.

  44. Max
    The crux of the disagreement surrounding your last post is that most non-Catholics don’t see embryo’s, especially early stage ones, as full persons deserving rights like they see woman in Buck v. Bell. And so technologies that mess with them are seen as not so much a problem.

    You may ultimately disagree but I think you’d be disingenious to say that you can’t see how it’s at least reasonable. Early stage embryo’s look like clumps of cells or aliens from Close Encounters, not like the woman from Buck v. Bell.

  45. See, here is a picture of Carrie Buck:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/eugenics-carrie-buck.jpg

    And here is one of an early stage embryo:

    http://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/Notes/images/placenta/plMembraneW450.jpg

    You can’t see how people see that and go “hmm, that first one sure is the same as me and deserves all my rights, but that second one looks like egg yolk.”

  46. “Early stage embryo’s look like clumps of cells or aliens from Close Encounters, not like the woman from Buck v. Bell.”

    You’re right, “they” don’t look like “us;” they are aliens and parasites.

    I seem to remember hearing something like that before . . .

  47. I will say the Catholic Church is showing some consistency by opposing IVF and stem cell research, a consistency evangelicals often do not get.

    Now I wish at their joint Conservative Religious Meetings they would bring this up more so both sides could get back to fighting each other instead of pushing their religious morality on the rest of us.

  48. Oh c’mon Max, take a look at those photos! I mean yes racists would take differences between ethnic groups and say “look how different these people are” but you have to admit they had nothing to work with like the contrast between persons and embryos! I mean that thing looks like an amoeba! Giving rights to that thing is a hard thing to wrap one’s head around for sure. You guys have got your work cut out for ya.

  49. At the least it should stop your side from being too quick to launch the meme that the other side are Nazi eugenics enthusiasts. Someone who could not see that Carrie Buck was not all that different from us is ignoring the evidence of their eyes in the same way that someone who says embryos in the early stages are not all that different from us. Maybe by concentrating on some factor which is certainly not obvious one may find there really is a morally relevant similarity but it takes some pretty hard looking, let’s all of us admit…

  50. “I mean that thing looks like an amoeba!”

    Actually, an amoeba looks like this.

    Of course, the key difference is that an amoeba is an amoeba and a human being is, well, a human being.

    http://forums.ballerstatus.com/showthread.php?t=3879

    It’s interesting how even the most “enlightened” people, if not guided by right principles, fall into the habit of thinking of certain groups of human beings as lesser, as “savages,” as childlike, or even as subhuman. You’d be surprised.

  51. Michael Solana,

    See previous threads on “freedom of conscience” for health care workers on why this is important to non-Catholics.

  52. Why doesn’t Reason simple release a document saying we only support businesses doing bsuiness with no intervention as the only moral way run an economy? It is wrong, of course, but why not save time and ink?

  53. MM
    You can’t see the gigantic difference between someone who thinks a “Negro’s brain” “approaches the ape far more than the European” and someone who looks at that embryo picture I linked and says “that thing looks like egg yolk?”

    I mean, even the 1860 racist had to admit what was evident to all around him: that “Negros” were as tall as us, basically shaped like “us”, had recognizable eyes, ears, fingers, tongues, etc. like us, could speak like us and manipulate things like us, etc.

    An early stage embryo can fit in your hand or early enough on your pinky finger and looks like an egg yolk. Thinking that’s a “human being” just like me and you is daft man.

  54. The differences between blacks and whites are few in number and slight in degree. One has straight hair, and the other kinky, one has slightly larger lips than the other and their pigmentation is different.

    The differences between early stage embryo’s and “post born humans” are many and massive. Early stage embryo’s don’t have a brain or spinal cord (things pretty important to us “human beings”), and are less than an INCH tall.

    A person who thinks who sees more differences than similarities between black and white “post born” humans is just not being honest or credible, but neither is a person who sees more similarities than differences between an early embryo and “post born” humans.

  55. At least the use of midget porn is still cool…

  56. Cosmotarian Rant !! Yah Yah Yaaaahh!!

  57. When the church stops telling desperately impoverished people to avoid using condoms, then they might have a leg to stand on when it pretends to have any advice to offer in this area.

    Till then, I’ll just keep mocking hypocrites in funny hats.

    -jcr

  58. ‘Thinking that’s a “human being” just like me and you is daft man.’

    I believe I acknowledged that they are *not* ‘just like’ us.

    ‘When the church stops telling desperately impoverished people to avoid using condoms’

    It is the Malthusian population panic-mongers who have lost credibility, not the Church.

    ‘the battle to feed all of humanity is over … In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” –Paul Ehrlich, 1967

    “A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people. Treating only the symptoms of cancer may make the victim more comfortable at first, but eventually he dies – often horribly. A similar fate awaits a world with a population explosion if only the symptoms are treated. We must shift our efforts from treatment of the symptoms to the cutting out of the cancer. The operation will demand many apparent brutal and heartless decisions. The pain may be intense. But the disease is so far advanced that only with radical surgery does the patient have a chance to survive.” -Ehrlich again, 1968.

    If you think Ehrlich is an isolated crank, look at the list of his awards at the end of the article. He was praised and cosseted by all sorts of “mainstream” insitutions, not only in the 1960s, but recently, too. Although one or two of the awards may be in recognition of his butterfly research, most of them seem to be in recognition of his speculations about human beings.

    Imagine how many awards he could have won if his predictions had been correct!

  59. The Malthusians have the cause-effect relationship backward. As a country’s wealth increases, family size tends to decrease. This is a matter of sociological reality, whether we like it or not. If the Malthusians were so concerned about reducing the size of poor families, they would support policies by which such families would stop being poor. The best way to do this is to have proper infrastructure, honest and decent government and courts which don’t massacre and oppress the people and are strong enough to maintain a system of efficient markets, with part of the economic surplus going to help out the truly needy.

  60. The question of which human beings are most “like us” is historically contingent. In the era of “scientific racism,” leading white racists found they had more in common with preborn white folks than with post-born nonwhites. That’s because they thought in terms of a superior white class ruling over an inferior nonwhite class, which had, in practice, few rights the whiteys were bound to respect (although I don’t know how many scientific racists supported lynching, the abortion of its day).

    Nowadays it’s the post-born who want to wield dominance over the preborn, the latter enjoying in practice few rights which the dominant class is bound to respect, including the right to life.

  61. Again its amazing to me to equate lynching to abortion (early term), as it seems strange to lynch what looks like a one inch long egg yolk. We’re talking about amazingly large differences you are glazing over. Postborn humans are’nt “ruling over” clumps of cells smaller than your fingernail, early stage embryo’s are hardly a “subordinate class”…

    “I believe I acknowledged that they are *not* ‘just like’ us.”

    The thing is, they are not even close, I mean a galaxy, far, far away from “post-borns”. No brains or spinal cords even, at early stages no discernible limbs, hair, eyes, etc.

    Most people when faced with a person in a vegatative state, where the brain is still sort of “working” but for the main part not so, even though you have something with discernible limbs, digits, eyes, etc., like us, will actually say “that’s not my Johnny, my Johnny left long ago.” That “thing” certainly still has unique human DNA like an embryo but most people’s common sense tells them that the rights human persons have involve things like a working brain, or a brain at all. Being over an inch in length kinda helps too…

  62. “the rights human persons have involve things like a working brain, or a brain at all.”

    Or to be more clear, whether something is a human person involves these things. The person in a vegetative state is no longer the “person” Johnny though it is still biologically a “human being” and likewise an embryo is yet to be a person.

  63. “a person in a vegatative state”

    Yes, there *is* a good comparison between people in PVS and the preborn – it’s hardly surprising that those seeking to take away the rights of one often want to take away the rights of the other.

    Of course, just like a non-PVS person can refuse the assistance of extraordinary medical means to prolong his life, a person can draw a living will disavowing extraordinary means if he becomes PVS.

    I’m not sure how the smaller size of the unborn reduces their rights. Generally, the smaller and more vulnerable someone is, the more reason to protect the person’s rights. Hence the great American phrase, “why don’t you pick on someone your own size?”

  64. Wasn’t there something in reason a while back about the history of abortion? The cutoff used to be at the “quickening.” Seems to me like common sense has regressed in this area. Probably due to increased government involvement.

  65. “The cutoff used to be at the “quickening.” Seems to me like common sense has regressed in this area.”

    Really? The idea behind so-called “quickening” is that the fetus is not alive (“quick” means alive) until a certain point in the pregnancy. Prior to that point, the theory held, the fetus was a lifeless mass.

    Modern science – indeed, nineteenth-century science – shows that this is bunk. The fetus is now scientifically acknowledged to be alive from conception. The new “debate” is whether the fetus is fully human, even after it’s acknowledged to be alive.

    If we’re going to regress to medieval scientific concepts, let’s not pretend we’re reinstating common sense.

  66. Max
    To be fair to Mr. domoarrigato what he could be getting at is that the quickening (or “viability” for that matter) marks for many the common sense threshold of personhood or being “fully human.”

    The smallness, which is quite dramatic (saying why don’t you pick on someone your own size to someone who is picking on a cell sized something seems pretty bizarre doesn’t it?), is one of the many qualities establishing the “otherness” of the early stage fetus, making us thing, the more dramatically different from us the thing in question is the more dramatically different the rights owed to it might be.

    I’m a little more sympathetic to this than you might suspect at first. I go round after round with libertarians here on the topic of animal welfare. Many of them say “well animals are just property and hence people can do what they will with them.” I will answer “including torture? bestiality?” and they often say “yes, while I myself find it morally reprehensible it would be wrong to infringe the guy’s liberty and stop him.” I think that’s daft. To the extent animals have moral weight, albeit a lower moral weight than humans, it is justified to use some coercion to protect them from some things. And animals can get moral weight because they are sensate beings that feel and have some basic autonomy and rationality.

    I try to explain this to libertarians by saying that animal welfare folks are trying to get in the position of pro-life folks. Many libertarians say of pro-life people “they can believe what they want, but its wrong for them to force it on others, its non-libertarian.” That’s twiddle twaddle. IF abortion is harming something with moral weight, or if as pro-life people claim it is murder, then OF COURSE the state should be able to use coercion to stop it just as we have laws to prevent murder.

    The whole question with animal welfare and abortion is: does the thing being harmed have the moral weight to justify coercion. Ironically believers in animal welfare like myself have to (though they often don’t sadly) acknowledge that at some point fetuses can feel and have some autonomy giving them moral weight (notice my constant references to “early stage” abortions). It doesn’t matter that late stage fetuses and high stage animals (like pigs) can’t do math or understand contractual rights, they feel and hence harming them is wrong. They don’t have the fight to vote or contract of course, but they do have a right not to be harmed for convenience.

  67. I meant “making us think” not “making us thing” and “right to vote” not “fight to vote” of course. Trying to type while watching tv, bad news for me…

  68. Really? The idea behind so-called “quickening” is that the fetus is not alive (“quick” means alive) until a certain point in the pregnancy. Prior to that point, the theory held, the fetus was a lifeless mass.

    Modern science – indeed, nineteenth-century science – shows that this is bunk. The fetus is now scientifically acknowledged to be alive from conception. The new “debate” is whether the fetus is fully human, even after it’s acknowledged to be alive.

    To my ear, it sounds more like the scientists have confused common sense definitions of alive/person hood with a semantic argument.

    What’s at issue is when person hood attaches to a fetus – this was as much the case then as it is now. On this point, frankly, science doesn’t have much to offer. This is not primarily a scientific question, but rather a moral and philosophical debate. Of course, that doesn’t stop the mouth breathing ideologues on either extreme from trying to co-opt scientific sounding arguments for their respective causes.

  69. “animal welfare”

    A good phrase, because it avoids the morass of “animal rights,” which elevates nonhuman animals to the status of humans – and at least in the case of animal-liberationist Peter Singer, lowers humans to the level of animals.

    That is, the govt can punish cruelty to nonhuman animals without assigning them human status.

    Singer puts animals and humans on the same plane. Tellingly, he suggests human parents may have a right to kill *newborn infants.* So much for respecting all creatures.

  70. what MNG said.

  71. domo,

    Again, modern “abortion-rights” supporters don’t even bother to deny that the fetus is alive starting with conception. The “quickening” doctrine was based on the idea that the fetus was not alive until a later point.

    If the rejection of “quickening” means the regression of common sense, then the pro-aborts are guilty of it, too. They also reject the quickening doctrine.

  72. MNG for me the distinction between animals and humans is that while it’s not wrong to kill an animal or even to “enslave” it for labor or companionship, it’s unethical to cause more pain and suffering than reasonably necessary to achieve those ends. The same cannot be said of a person (though apparently, you can make your minor children work for you).

    So animals are property, but a special class of property for which the owner is not completely free to use as he wishes, though it is permissible to treat them as a means to an end. Children or other persons, can never be property or as a means to an end, though in minority, children lack full rights, and their parents must stand in for them.

  73. Thus, while the philosophical debate on personhood goes on, the narrow “scientific” issue of whether the fetus is alive from conception has been settled in favor of the life of the fetus.

    Incidentally, “philosophy” in the classical sense means a very large area of human knowledge, of which science, aka “natural philosophy” is a subset. So calling the personhood debate philosophical isn’t as much of a put-down as you may think.

  74. Again, modern “abortion-rights” supporters don’t even bother to deny that the fetus is alive starting with conception. The “quickening” doctrine was based on the idea that the fetus was not alive until a later point.

    Nor do I. Anymore than I deny that an animal is alive. I deny that it is a person at conception. Whatever scientific misconceptions existed at the time the quickening doctrine was in use, it does not change the fact that their distinction was a moral one. One which I consider to be much more reasonable than either extreme of the abortion debate in this country.

  75. So calling the personhood debate philosophical isn’t as much of a put-down as you may think.

    Quite the opposite, I intended to indicate that the scope of reasoning that much be used exceeds what “natural science” can accommodate.

  76. domo,

    I see we’re actually on the same page about philosophy.

    It seems that your position on abortion may well be more “fetus-friendly” than the federal courts will allow. It depends on when you deem the fetus to acquire human status and human rights, and whether you regard these rights as compatible with the extensive “right of choice” recognized by the courts.

  77. Every sperm is sacred,
    every sperm is great.
    When a sperm is wasted,
    God gets quite irate.

  78. It seems that your position on abortion may well be more “fetus-friendly” than the federal courts will allow. It depends on when you deem the fetus to acquire human status and human rights, and whether you regard these rights as compatible with the extensive “right of choice” recognized by the courts.

    My own view of the legal situation is that Roe v. Wade chilled the ability of states to legislate their own “point of personhood” with the benefit of public debate. I think womens choice is paramount, however I think women can be expected to make a timely enough choice that a person is not being harmed. I am well aware that this is not compatible with the view the federal courts take.

  79. A few practical difficulties in a law defining some point in the pregnancy as the time when a fetus becomes vested with human rights:

    Will it be a certain amount of time after conception? How can the prosecution prove that the fetus was the statutory gestational age at the time of the abortion? Would it not be best to provide a earlier cut-off date so the abortionist won’t accidentally (or “accidentally”) underestimate the gestational age?

    Will it be brain-wave activity? How would the prosecution show that there was brain-wave activity at the time of the abortion? Will the abortionist misread (or “misread”) his instruments and miss evidence of brain activity?

    Would it be development of certain organs? Does there need to be an autopsy to show if those organs were there?

    Will it be once the fetus develops the ability to “feel and to have some autonomy?” How will the legislation define this point? If legislative bodies have trouble distinguishing between infrastructure and pork, how will they be able to make the determination of when fetuses can have feelings and exercise autonomy? How much autonomy does *any* fetus have, or for that matter, a newborn infant? A newborn doesn’t even seem to have autonomy over its bowels, or at least shows little interst in exercising such autonomy.

  80. “I think womens choice is paramount, however I think women can be expected to make a timely enough choice that a person is not being harmed.”

    I know the pro-abort answer to that one – some women are too busy, too caught up in their lives or their sweatshop jobs, to know right away if they’re pregnant, and even after they’ve found out, it takes time for them to schedule a vacation from the ol’ sweatshop and take the expensive trip to the abortionist. So women have to be given extra time to arrange the abortion, if their “autonomy” is to be properly respected.

    So when the woman has gotten the money for the abortion, made the arrangements to get off work, arranged transportation, etc., the fetus may already, despite her best efforts, have developed into a legal person. Therefore, at least in the case of “poor women and women of color,”* the interest in woman’s autonomy requires that she be able to abort the child even after the stage of development which the law may define as personhood.

    *Notice that the pro-aborts don’t speak of the fetus as “an unborn child of color” or “a child living in poverty,” lest it focus attention on uncomfortable demographic realities about the kind of fetuses who tend to get aborted disproportinately.

  81. Mad Max,

    See that is exactly my point. You want to conflate moral problems with scientifically created semantic issues. I don’t feel particularly compelled to address your laundry list of issues because I don’t see them as very relevant.

    Doctors make estimations of the age of fetuses all the time, they are also allowed to make a number of life and death decisions in other arenas. I would be in favor of allowing doctors wide latitude in deciding which abortions they would perform within the bounds of the law. I would not favor prosecutions of women in any realistic situation that I can think of, and doctors who pushed the boundaries regularly would be subject to judgment by their own professional organizations as a measure of first resort.

  82. I know the pro-abort answer to that one…

    Yeah, but I don’t agree with them either, because they are generally leftists who eschew personal responsibility.

    ref. an unborn child of color

    I wont be drawn into that one – demographics are even less important that testing for brainwaves…

  83. “That is, the govt can punish cruelty to nonhuman animals without assigning them human status.”

    “it’s unethical to cause more pain and suffering than reasonably necessary to achieve those ends”

    I agree. We can even have things that are humans which we do not give the full panoply of rights to (i.e. children and [for me and domoarrigato and others late stage, for Mad Max and others early stage] fetuses).

    But look, for every Singer [I think you could be fairer to Singer btw] or member of PETA there are a hundred members of something like the SPCA or Humane Society who believe in simple animal welfare; we don’t think animal life is equally valuable with human life, we just think it is valuable and hence government coercion to restrict cruelty is justified. Please don’t paint all of those who have an honest committment to fighting animal cruelty with a broad brush.

    “It seems that your position on abortion may well be more “fetus-friendly” than the federal courts will allow.”

    Actually I think Roe v. Wade was on the right track. It realizes what most people’s common sense tells them: that early stage fetuses are vastly different from us and have little moral weight but as they approach viability they acquire (as they acquire things like functioning brains and a nervous system) more and more rights. At the early end of that continuum the state has little authority in applying coercion to protect them and trump women’s reporductive choices, at the later stage they have great and overriding authority.

    Of course what many pro-Roe folks today have trouble realizing is that this argument surely gives states the right to restrict late term abortions and partial birth abortions.

  84. ” would not favor prosecutions of women in any realistic situation that I can think of”

    Why in the world not? If what you say is true they are a party to murdering their own child, killing a “pre-born human.”

    If I went to a doctor and told them to put my 2 year old son to sleep (like they do dogs) and he did surely the doctor and I deserve sanction.

    I think your ducking a politically difficult but logically sound conclusion from your position here MM.

  85. Oh my bad Max, that was not you that said that.

    But while we are on it, would you be in favor of prosecutions for women who sought out abortionists and went through abortions (if abortion were illegal)?

  86. Why in the world not? If what you say is true they are a party to murdering their own child, killing a “pre-born human.”

    If I went to a doctor and told them to put my 2 year old son to sleep (like they do dogs) and he did surely the doctor and I deserve sanction.

    I don’t see your example as realistic, so from that POV, I think I’m intact. A woman goes to a doctor, and the doctor says the fetus is not yet a person and aborts it. Later we find that the doctor is some crazy abortion ideologue that wants to abort late stage fetuses to prove a point. Why would you prosecute the woman? She might be a party to it, but she is relying on the opinion of an expert, who is doing the procedure. I just think you would have to shield the whole process pretty generally from prosecution – otherwise nutjob DA’s are going to go crazy locking up doctors and patients and subpoenaing health records. That said, I’m probably giving people too much credit to think that they will behave ethically, but I’d rather err on the side of restricting state action when there is a judgment call that is all too easy to 2nd guess in court.

  87. MNG,

    Thought of one other thing: under the “primitive” quickening doctrine, it was not considered murder to kill a quickened baby in the womb. It was a lesser offense. Therefore there was not a black and white cutoff as to when the fetus became a baby, it received some legal protection at quickening, and further protection at birth. This reflects the more flexible view of assigning person hood that I favor (and Mad Max seemingly would take issue with). It also explains why I am comfortable giving doctors wide latitude and shielding the actors from malicious prosecutions.

    In any case, it is vastly different from both extremes of the abortion debate – both of which seem to place a great deal of importance on narrowly defining the exact moment of person hood via legislative fiat.

  88. “Please don’t paint all of those who have an honest committment to fighting animal cruelty with a broad brush.”

    I thought I was doing the opposite. I distinguished between “animal welfare” and “animal rights.” “Animal welfare” is more or less your and the SPCA’s view – “animal rights” is the Singerian version.

    Not everything I say is intended as a rebuttal to your remarks. I was promoted into some reflections on the links between animals and fetuses and the law relating to each.

    domo,

    The relevance of the pro-abort position is that they take the “woman’s autonomy” line and run with it. To those like you who want to support woman’s autonomy by letting them do abortions, while still protecting late-stage fetuses, they take your concession (woman’s autonomy=abortions) and use it to show that *true* autonomy would requires that women have the option of doing late-stage abortions. That’s why I think it’s a fatal concession to define a mother’s autonomy as including the right to kill her own child.

    If I were a hard-core H&R poster, I would pester you with repeated declarations that “you haven’t answered my question,” etc., but that would be boring. Suffice to say that you haven’t suggested a specific point at which the fetus acquires human personhood and rights, how to reconcile these with woman’s autonomy to abort, and how the laws will be enforced in practice. You’ve spoken of broad deference to doctors, and again, like “woman’s autonomy,” that kind of gives away the store. Once you recognize that doctors’ autonomy includes the right to do abortions, they will tend to get greedy and be outraged against attempts by non-doctors to regulate the details of how they do the abortion procedure.

    As to punishing women who kill their unborn children, surprise, surprise, I believe I prosecuting them – with lesser sentences justified based on such factors as coercion by lovers, etc. Punishing abortionists for abetting an act which isn’t a crime for the main perpetrator seems illogical.

    However, if the only politically-feasible way to get a law against abortionists is to arbitrarily exempt women, then I would accept that as “half a loaf” and an improvement on the status quo by which neither is punished. Due to the leftism you mentioned, and the denial of the moral responsibility of women, there’s this political idea that the woman doing the abortion is a victim of the doctor, or of society. An unsound idea, but if the only way to protect the unborn is to pass a law based on that, so be it.

  89. What I would love to see is for the professed principled centrists on the abortion issue – at least those who actually hold power – to put forward legislation to ban those abortions they regard as immoderate or excessive – like late-term abortions, for example.

    How many members of legislative bodies profess themselves to be “moderate” on abortion? Yet how many of them actually *initiate* legislation against those abortion practices which offend their moderate sensibilities? Usually, what happens is that the task of framing moderate bills falls to the pro-life movement, and the moderate legislators are *forced* to vote for these bills, whining and grumbling all the time that they are being distracted from the “real” issues.

    I suspect that many of these moderates aren’t really principled centrists, with a sincere concern about abortion. They are the kind of moderate who doesn’t want to lose votes or campaign contribution by taking either side of a controversial issue. They don’t really mind perpetuating the abortion status quo, so long as they don’t have to take a position on it and thereby become potentially unpopular. That’s why the prolife side has to *force* these so-called moderates to live up to their own professions and support limited restrictions on abortion.

  90. “Not everything I say is intended as a rebuttal to your remarks. I was promoted into some reflections on the links between animals and fetuses and the law relating to each.”

    I’m sorry if I accused you of such then, it’s just that animal welfare types get pretty tired of folks who, when we mention animal welfare, jump right to Singer and PETA folks who equate animal with human life. It’s as if the first comment back to someone who says they are pro-life is “those clinic bombers are pretty crazy you know.”

    “I believe I prosecuting them – with lesser sentences justified based on such factors as coercion by lovers, etc. Punishing abortionists for abetting an act which isn’t a crime for the main perpetrator seems illogical.”

    I think that has to be the position to be consistent, I commend you on your philosophical consistency there.

    “they take your concession (woman’s autonomy=abortions) and use it to show that *true* autonomy would requires that women have the option of doing late-stage abortions”

    They’d be wrong there. As the fetus becomes something which is very close to us in morally relevant ways it becomes something that outweighs a woman’s mere freedom of choice. This kind of argument makes too much of a fetish out of autonomy. Interestingly enough this kind of argument resembles the one I often encounter that animal cruelty laws are unjustified because it is the owner of the animal’s “choice” to do what they want with it.

    “Suffice to say that you haven’t suggested a specific point at which the fetus acquires human personhood and rights, how to reconcile these with woman’s autonomy to abort, and how the laws will be enforced in practice.”

    As I said upstream (I know you weren’t replying to me though) the common sense view that the closer to viability the fetus the more moral weight it has seems workable. Yes, it won’t give us a specific, exact date and as in all line drawing those cases close to the line will seem like, well, close cases, but a workable law could be fashioned to allow the rights of this:
    http://health.state.ga.us/wrtk/images/g38weeks.jpg

    to trump mere choice, but not allow that for this:
    http://content.answers.com/main/content/wp/en-commons/thumb/2/2f/300pxTubal_Pregnancy_with_embryo.jpg

  91. That’s why I think it’s a fatal concession to define a mother’s autonomy as including the right to kill her own child.

    I do too, which is why I favor restricting it. I’m not overwhelmed by a sense that this yields a “slippery slope”, but that might be an interesting point to debate.

    I would pester you with repeated declarations that “you haven’t answered my question,” etc., but that would be boring.

    Thanks, I agree. Suffice to say that I don’t have a strong opinion on the issue, and am not a doctor. I save my strong opinions for areas where I have a great deal of expertise. I would be open to quickening, the full formation of a fetus, an arbitrary time limit, and possibly other standards. I am comfortable with there being different standards in different jurisdictions, which is why I don’t attempt to nail this down any further.

    I don’t agree that the main perpetrator under my standard would be the woman. The doctor is a responsible third party who is trusted with determining if a woman is eligible for the procedure by comparing the results he/she finds in the exam room with the laws of the state. If they would not risk facing prosecution (on lesser manslaughter charges at most) then they should refuse to perform the procedure.

    I really believe that both sides of this issue think the deck is stacked against them. Even reasonable people get very unreasonable about this. Somehow I doubt real progress toward some common sense policy will be possible under the debate that is going on in this country. I know MNG disagree with me here, but I do think that Roe v Wade made this more difficult by setting a precedent that limited the scope of the ability of states to debate and legislate according to the will of the people.

  92. Can I just say this might be the most level headed rational debate of abortion I have ever heard of? oddly so…

  93. Well, Mr. D, it did start with me taking issue with Max linking “pro-abortion” folks to eugenics, lynching and such…But yes, it is nice for it to get all civilized and intellectual rather than posterboards of coathangers and bloody fetuses…

  94. MNG,

    That is interesting, but people are going to want to know what specific behavior is going to put them at risk of fines or imprisonment. Respectable doctors (and if not them, their insurers) will only do those abortions which they are confident they won’t be prosecuted for, unless they’re hard core “pro-choice” types, in which their concern will be evading, not obeying the law (they evade and avoid the parental-consent laws – and even the child-abuse reporting laws which they *claim* support, so why wouldn’t they evade even stricter laws?) So it’s the respectable practitioners whose demands I will consider here.

    Knowing what’s forbidden and permitted is, of course, a fully just demand. When the doctor looks at the ultrasound and gets the woman’s report (assuming she’s accurate), will the doctor and the woman know right away whether an abortion in this case will be legal or not? Or do they do the abortion and hope the courts will weigh the balancing factors and come out with an acquittal?

  95. Quoting myself:

    If they would not risk facing prosecution (on lesser manslaughter charges at most) then they should refuse to perform the procedure.

    Bearing in mind, that I believe the first resort to resolve the issue would be that the state petition the doctors professional organization for an investigation – failing which the state could prosecute if they could show that the organization refused to cooperate, or was negligent in their handling of the investigation. So I recognize that ultimately prosecution is the threat, though I favor a way to broadly shield the profession from undue influence of the state.

  96. “I . . . am not a doctor. I save my strong opinions for areas where I have a great deal of expertise.”

    Medical expertise is about how to treat disease, enhance health (or “wellness”), and give advice about healthy living. When it comes to moral issues of life and death, the usual medical consensus (not that doctors have special moral expertise) is in favor of life. The old Hippocratic Oath forbade abortion. They’ve pretty much dropped that part of the oath, but the AMA standards still forbid doctors from using their expertise to perform executions. This isn’t because of opposition to the death penalty (on which the AMA is neutral), but because doctors are supposed to leave killing (even legitimate killing) to non-doctors.

    And, of course, it was the AMA which, based in part on their scientific knowledge about fetal development, got state legislatures to abolish the old “quickening” distinction and tighten the abortion laws.

  97. When doctors refuse to cooperate in judicial executions, then this makes the death penalty more difficult to administer. Death-row inmates may sue, claiming that there’s an unacceptable risk that the non-doctors who perform the execution will botch it and inflict pain on the condemned prisoner (pain is bad, as opposed to death, which is the object of the proceeding).

    If only the docs took this position with respect to abortion! “Sure, abortion may be legitimate, but it’s not a doctor’s job to take life.” Then the non-doctors would try to fill the abortion gap, but the procedure would become less safe (to the woman – it will remain unsafe to the unborn child, of course). Then pro-lifers would cite the unsafeness of these non-doctor abortions as reasons to shut the clinics down.

    If nurses joined such a boycott, that would be great, as well.

    It seems, though, that convicted murderers get more respect from the docs than the unborn. Too bad.

  98. Bottom line – when it comes to moral issues transcending their special expertise, docs can be as confused and inconsistent as the rest of us. This is worth considering when evaluating their moral authority in saying whether abortion should be legal.

    There’s also the matter of self-interest. If you let doctors vote on whether to (a) legalize a lucrative procedure, or (b) subject doctors who do that procedure to prosecution, the outcome of that vote may be based on less than a fully impartial consideration of the moral standing of the fetus.

  99. Even *with* the incentives to support legal abortion (more money, freedom from legal hassles), there are *still* doctors who are pro-life.

    Example: Dr. Bernard Nathanson, one of the *founders of NARAL* and the head of New York’s first legal freestanding abortion clinic. He came to realize that the beings he was killing were babies, and he joined the prolife movement (and the Catholic Church).

    Another Example: Ron Paul.

  100. Max
    I guess I wan’t clear; we’d have to assign a date (a certain trimister for example) beyond which it would be illegal and below which it would be legal. As I said cases near the line will be tough, just as some kids 17 years and 364 days old and those eighteen years and one hour seem awful close but one can contract and the other not so much.

    It’s not as neat as saying “life begins right at conception” but it’s certainly more reasonable to most folks than equating something that has more in common with egg yolk than persons to a 40 week old fully viable fetus…

    “when it comes to moral issues transcending their special expertise, docs can be as confused and inconsistent as the rest of us”

    I agree, which is why scientists can’t define whether fetuses at some point are “persons” though the information they can provide can be helpful in making that moral decision (like telling us when there is a brain or spinal cord etc.,)

  101. Statements by pro-life doctors on the Web site of the organization Physicians for Life

    (I have been using the term “doctors” to describe physicians, since that’s the popular understanding, even though any PhD is technically a doctor.)

  102. An old professor of mine used his PhD to bluff his way through the switchboard operator to reach a physician friend of his at the hospital. He said, something like “I’m doctor so-and-so, a doctor of epistemology.”

  103. Medical expertise is about how to treat disease, enhance health (or “wellness”), and give advice about healthy living. When it comes to moral issues of life and death, the usual medical consensus (not that doctors have special moral expertise) is in favor of life.

    A doctor can decide if a fetus is older than a certain date prescribed by law or can move on it’s own, or is viable – which is all I suggest.

    This is worth considering when evaluating their moral authority in saying whether abortion should be legal.

    On the same thread, the doctor doesn’t decide what’s legal or not, the state does. The doctor decides if the case in front of him meets the standards prescribed by law. Although you clearly believe doctors will push the envelope (for profit!?) my experience with medical professionals – and the oath that you highlighted – tend to make me more sanguine about that possibility.

    Both sides of the debate want to avoid the possibility of compromise. The two extremes of defining person hood (conception and birth) are neat in terms of law – but both infringe unduly upon one persons rights. A woman should have the right to remove a couple cells from her body – and a being who could survive outside the womb with a relatively low risk operation should not be killed for convenience.

    So, despite how hard it may be to come up with some compromise, I feel confident that the solution that maximizes liberty requires it.

  104. “Although you clearly believe doctors will push the envelope (for profit!?) my experience with medical professionals – and the oath that you highlighted – tend to make me more sanguine about that possibility.”

    I mentioned a now-rescinded clause in the Hippocratic Oath forbidding abortions. Doctors don’t take that part of the oath any more.

    “So, despite how hard it may be to come up with some compromise, I feel confident that the solution that maximizes liberty requires it.”

    I am confident that nobody would today be discussing the “need for compromise” – that is, to restrict the pro-abortion status quo – if the pro-life “extremists” hadn’t been keeping the issue in the forefront and refusing to abandon it.

    Would there be *any* political pressure to abandon the status quo if the prolifers weren’t pushing so hard? No – the political “moderates” in Congress and the legislatures would be content to allow things to proceed as they are, just so long as the dirty work was done by judges and doctors, without any need form them to commit themselves by a vote.

    Even the “moderate” Hyde Amendment ending most federal support for abortion – a position consistent with the Libertarian Party’s “neutrality” platform plank on abortion – was pressed by a pro-life “extremist,” the late Henry Hyde. Strangely enough, this “moderate” and “compromise” position didn’t come from the initiative of one of the “moderate” Congressmen, most of whom would have preferred ignore the issue and deal with the “important” business of dividing up the pork-barrel spending.

  105. I am confident that nobody would today be discussing the “need for compromise” – that is, to restrict the pro-abortion status quo – if the pro-life “extremists” hadn’t been keeping the issue in the forefront and refusing to abandon it.

    But see, the pro-lifers aren’t looking for common sense restrictions. They, like you apparently, want to define person hood at conception, which I think is every bit as extreme as allowing a 38 week abortion. So, far from promoting compromise, both sides are sticking to their guns, and throwing “extremist” at each other. Like you are, it has to be said.

    In reality, the status quo in this country matches fairly closely to what I believe is the best answer – that at some point during gestation, person hood attaches. Of course it’s different in different states depending on the jurisdiction. The vast majority of all abortions are very early term, which is good.

    As a libertarian, I support the status quo! Who’d have thunk you’d ever hear that…

  106. I didn’t say the “pro-life extremists” were *trying* to promote compromise; simply that, as a matter of reality, they are the primary source of all “common-sense,” “middle ground,” “compromise” proposals. That says a great deal about the so-called moderates in this debate (at least on the legislative level).

    “n reality, the status quo in this country matches fairly closely to what I believe is the best answer – that at some point during gestation, person hood attaches. Of course it’s different in different states depending on the jurisdiction.”

    Are you quite sure about that? Although we are assured that late-term abortions are rare, they remain largely *legal,* often through broadly-construed exceptions based on a broadened definition of health. Real laws to make late-term abortions criminal – as opposed to laws riddled with exceptions like swiss cheese is riddled with holes – would be a welcome improvement.

    That doesn’t mean pro-lifers would give up on protesting early-term abortions. But whenever some “common sense” or “moderate” legislation is in the news, if you do some investigation, you will probably find some pro-lifers behind it.

  107. I didn’t say the “pro-life extremists” were *trying* to promote compromise; simply that, as a matter of reality, they are the primary source of all “common-sense,” “middle ground,” “compromise” proposals. That says a great deal about the so-called moderates in this debate (at least on the legislative level).

    I would not characterize their proposals as middle ground. I think that they try to put any law that they can in place without consideration for the rights of the woman – which I, as a libertarian, do not support.

    Like I said, I think both sides see themselves as “moderate” and the other side as extremists. In each case they’re more right about the other side than they are about themselves.

    I’m not interested in helping you push your agenda any more than I am in killing 38 week old unborn babies. I know you think you’re right, but we will have to disagree.

  108. Mad Max,

    I swear I am not trolling; these are serious questions. I am hoping to hear your honest answers. ๐Ÿ™‚

    “Prospective studies using very sensitive early pregnancy tests have found that 25% of pregnancies are miscarried by the sixth week LMP (since the woman’s Last Menstrual Period).[27][28] Clinical miscarriages (those occurring after the sixth week LMP) occur in 8% of pregnancies.[28]” -Wikipedia, miscarriage

    Given this fact, why is it that the Vatican is opposed to safe, effective, and available contraception? Responsible contraception use is certain to reduce (not eliminate; no contraception is 100% effective) the number of unwanted pregnancies, and thus the number of abortions sought out. I don’t see how saying that life begins at conception can be the last word on the subject. Not all conceptions lead to a live baby, even without induced abortion.

    There are many people who do NOT believe that the only reason to have sex is to procreate. (Ask Kanye West ๐Ÿ™‚ ) My own opinion is that the ability and desire to enjoy sex outside of estrus is one of the characteristics of humanity, as opposed to most other animals. The purpose of playing tackle football is surely not to sustain a concussion. We encourage players to wear helmets to minimize their risks of unwanted concussions, why not encourage a minimization of the risks of (unwanted) pregnancy?

    At what point does one person’s right to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience trump another person’s right to freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of bodily integrity (the right to put something in one’s body necessarily includes the right to try to keep things OUT of one’s body, IMO) and freedom of association?

  109. what she said … that Feral Genius …

  110. ” A woman should have the right to remove a couple cells from her body – and a being who could survive outside the womb with a relatively low risk operation should not be killed for convenience.”

    Well said Mr. D, well said.

    “Responsible contraception use is certain to reduce (not eliminate; no contraception is 100% effective) the number of unwanted pregnancies, and thus the number of abortions sought out.”

    And well said Ms. fJ

    “The vast majority of all abortions are very early term, which is good.”

    Give that man a prize!
    The leading place for abortion data says that only 1% occur after 21 weeks.

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

    I’ll note though that looking at pictures of embryo’s at 21 weeks, and even 13 weeks, I’m uncomfortable with abortions happening to them.

    Here is one at 13 weeks:
    http://personal.georgiasouthern.edu/~etmcmull/13_weeks.gif

    I’d be comfortable with them at 9-10 weeks when they look like this:

    http://www.sptimes.com/News/112001/photos/pulse-embryo.jpg

    That would ban about 20% of the abortions that currently occur and allow about 80% that do. Note however that any of this number that were done for the life of the mother, a twin, or serious health risk would imo have to be subtracted from that number and allowed.

  111. Ultimately my point is that abolishing contraception and abolishing abortion are mutually exclusive goals.

    The only worldview in which they are both possible is one that sees sex as only and always for making babies, and also sees all babies, no matter what the circumstances, as a blessing and gift from God.

    There are people that think that way. My sister-in-law carried to term and home-birthed a child that she knew was not developing properly int the womb, who died in her arms four hours after his birth. Not many people would have the spiritual and mental strength to do that. I sure wouldn’t!

    The vast majority of people do not see all children as a blessing. There are many for whom a child, or another child, would be more like a curse. I have two beautiful sons, but more children would not be conducive to my physical (2 C-sections) or mental health (I have issues; everyone does).

    I dare you to tell my husband we can’t have sex anymore! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  112. And FWIW, humans are hardly the only animals to engage in sex for pleasure.

  113. domo,

    Why do you call me a “moderate?” What have I done to you, that you should insult me like that? I have explained how the “moderate” abortion bills do *not* come from the moderates themselves, but from those you would call pro-life extremists. We have “assisted” the moderates by giving them the opportunity (which they would otherwise evade) to live up to their professions, but we are not ourselves moderates, and I never said we were.

    “I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject I do not wish to think, or speak, or write with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire int which it has fallen; but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present! I am in earnest. I will not equivocate–I will not excuse–I will not retreat a single inch. AND I WILL BE HEARD. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.” –William Lloyd Garrison

    ex-Jennifer,

    I will try to answer your questions, but I doubt very much you will like the answers. I hope you will see that this is not the same as “not answering my questions.”

    “Not all conceptions lead to a live baby, even without induced abortion.”

    Traditionally, not all *births* lead to a live baby, given the phenomenon of infant mortality. This is being reduced in the West, thank God, but elsewhere it’s still a problem. Does the “natural” death of a newborn mean that it’s OK to kill newborns *deliberately?*

    “There are many people who do NOT believe that the only reason to have sex is to procreate. (Ask Kanye West ๐Ÿ™‚ ) ”

    I’ll have to defer to you on that. I wasn’t aware that Mr. West was a Catholic theologian, but I suppose I can’t rule it out, what with “liberal” tendencies in the modern American Church.

    “why is it that the Vatican is opposed to safe, effective, and available contraception?”

    Who says they are? You may want to do some study on Natural Family Planning, which is *not* the same as the much-derided rhythm method. There is a distinction between *artificial* contraception (which modifies the very nature of the sex act along Kanye West lines) and periodic abstinence (which, with Natural Family Planning, can be useful in spacing and limiting births if this is strictly necessary for a married couple).

    Of course, the Church’s teaching on contraception involves the importance of preserving the integrity of the *conjugal* act. If you’re not married, you can’t engage in conjugal acts under Catholic doctrine, so the issue of contraception is kind of moot.

  114. domo,

    Correction – Why do you claim that I have called pro-lifers moderate (or middle-ground)? Have I hurt you in some way that you would reply with such a vile insult?

  115. There is a distinction between *artificial* contraception (which modifies the very nature of the sex act along Kanye West lines) and periodic abstinence (which, with Natural Family Planning, can be useful in spacing and limiting births if this is strictly necessary for a married couple).

    Yeah: one is a hell of a lot more fun than the other.

  116. You can have my condom when you pull it from my cold, limp, cock.

  117. Showering with a raincoat is more fun than showering in the nude?

  118. ‘that the only reason to have sex is to procreate’

    The Church takes a both/and view – procreation *and* deepening the marital relationship.

    This *is* about marital sex, you realize? From all the criticism of the Church’s stance, you would think that the following scenario takes place on a regular basis:

    BOB: Hey, let’s have a foursome!

    CAROL: Sounds groovy, but you guys will have to wear condoms.

    TED: No way, man! The Pope says that condoms are evil!

    ALICE: The Pope also says that sex outside of marriage is evil, but none of us is married.

    BOB: Yes, we are.

    CAROL: I mean, to each other.

    TED: The Pope denounces married couples who use condoms. Of course, we’re not married to each other, but that’s no reason we can’t obey the condom part of the Pope’s teachings while ignoring the rest.

    ALICE: OK guys, let’s have sex without condoms – it’s what His Holiness would have wanted!

  119. “Showering with a raincoat is more fun than showering in the nude?”

    Dude, there are other contraceptions apart from condoms. Like “the pill” in its seemingly infinite incarnations. My wife takes it because we want to have sex AND plan when we have kids. But that’s us nutty Protestants for ya ๐Ÿ˜‰

  120. domo,
    Fair enough. I was only aware of the sexual behavior of bonobos. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Mad Max,

    I did not say anything about newborns; I find it problematical to say that “Life begins at conception” without acknowledging that even without artificial contraception or induced abortion, up to one quarter of human conceptions would never be born, and there’s not much that science can do to change that (as opposed to infant mortality, which can be mitigated, but not eliminated).

    The fact that the Church is “only” denouncing artificial contraception within the marital relationship is, I think, the basis of my dispute with you. Frankly, there are millions of people around the world who disagree with the Church on this issue. As far as I’m concerned, you can have fun with it; no skin off my nose. But when your doctrine conflicts with the daily life of people just going about their own business (see health care workers thread, and marriage equality, for that matter), then I will fight for the right to NOT practice Catholicism.

    At what point does one person’s right to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience trump another person’s right to freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of bodily integrity (the right to put something in one’s body necessarily includes the right to try to keep things OUT of one’s body, IMO) and freedom of association?

  121. “freedom of bodily integrity”

    That’s what the Church wants the unborn to have.

    “the right to try to keep things OUT of one’s body”

    What things? I suppose you aren’t listing the unborn as “things,” or are you? I can’t think of any other “thing” the Church would force people to have in their bodies. You can even agree to forswear extraordinary medical procedures in the event you go into a coma.

  122. Nice flame bait, Max, and way to avoid my central point.

    I believe that a living woman’s right to bodily integrity is more salient than a potential fetus’s potential life (remember, up to a quarter of pregnancies end in spontaneous miscarriage).

    We will probably just have to agree to disagree on this point. ๐Ÿ™‚

    But that doesn’t answer my main question:

    At what point does one person’s right to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience trump another person’s right to freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of bodily integrity (the right to put something in one’s body necessarily includes the right to try to keep things OUT of one’s body, IMO) and freedom of association?

    Whether the Church is only talking about marital relations is, IMO, irrelevant. The actions of Catholics, and people of other religions, impact on people who do NOT practice the same religion. See the threads on health care workers and same-sex marriage for examples.

  123. ‘But that doesn’t answer my main question:

    ‘At what point does one person’s right to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience trump another person’s right to freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of bodily integrity (the right to put something in one’s body necessarily includes the right to try to keep things OUT of one’s body, IMO) and freedom of association?’

    At what point? I suppose, at minimum, at the point when one person is proposing, in the name of their own autonomy, to destroy a living member of *homo sapiens*.

    Does that answer your question? Or am I still avoiding it?

  124. That answers my question quite nicely.

    Since I start from a different set of premises than you, I come to a different conclusion.

    It has been interesting to hear where you are coming from, thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  125. I am not trying to anger you in particular, Max.

    I am not a Christian, and will never be a Christian. The premises on which my argument is based are completely different from yours. I respect your faith and your starting premises. I am merely trying, hamhandedly perhaps, to point out that not everyone shares those premises, and will therefore not necessarily come yto the same conclusion. This is not arguing in bad faith.

  126. Let’s see… saying “X is bad, don’t do it” is “intervention”? And this “intervention” is to be “prevented” how? Censorship? Gag rules? Sending organized mobs to silence thoughtcriminals? Organized intimidation, such as we are now seeing in California?
    Are you libertarians, or stock “liberals” defending everybody’s right to agree with you about everything?

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