Contraception

Liberals Shocked That Religious Beliefs About Emergency Contraception Are Not Scientifically Based

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Plan B
Plan B

Let's not dive back into the whole Hobby Lobby contretemps, but consider for a moment that some folks over at Talking Points Memo (TPM) are horrified to discover that religious beliefs are "irrational." Really? Readers are treated to this deep insight from the article, "Science Was Irrelevant in Hobby Lobby and That's Congress's Fault":

"I think RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] was a very unfortunate law because it enshrined a legal shield for [religious] people even if they had irrational beliefs," said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health policy at George Washington University who co-authored an amicus brief in favor of the birth control mandate. "So if the court feels it's dealing with someone who's sincere, I don't think anybody's going to subject that person's belief to a scientific test."…

"The whole purpose of RFRA is to honor people's religious beliefs and so science steps out of the doorstep in RFRA," Rosenbaum said. "The wonderful thing about being religious is you can believe all sorts of irrational things."

Who would have thought it? And Professor Rosenbaum teaches at a university run by a church that thinks that using regular contraception (pills and condoms) is sinful. GWU does not believe, as far as I know, that contraception is sinful. My apologies for the hasty error.

The TPM article cites a chart from The New Republic showing that emergency contraceptive pills are not abortifacients as the owners of Hobby Lobby believe. As it happens, the New England Journal of Medicine in a 2012 editorial excoriating the Obama Administration for not allowing emergency contraceptive pills to be sold over the counter in pharmacies noted:

The best available evidence indicates that it prevents pregnancy largely by delaying or preventing ovulation, but prevention of implantation cannot be ruled out. Levonorgestrel does not cause abortion; it does not terminate an established pregnancy (an implanted conceptus) and should not be confused with the abortifacient mifepristone (RU-486).

As it happens, for some religiously irrational folks prevention of the implantation of a fertilized egg would count as an abortion.

Possibly the greatest achievement of the Enlightenment was the principle of tolerance: I may or may not have access to transcendent truth, but I am damned sure that you don't. So let's leave each other alone in our irrational beliefs about the transcendent.

Since between 60 and 80 percent of embryos are never born due to natural causes, let's reprise my column, "Is Heaven Chiefly Populated with the Souls of Embryos?"

Disclosure: For what it's worth I have been an out-atheist since my teens.

NEXT: Another Likely End for ENDA—Or Will It Return Even Stronger?

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  1. The science of when life begins?

    1. Perfect point. Article should be titled “Liberals As Shocked That Religious Beliefs About Emergency Contraception Are Not Scientifically Based As They Are That Their Beliefs on When Life Begins Aren’t Either.”

    2. Could it be that some beliefs about which beliefs are irrational are irrational? That sounds like a slippery slope to me, which some believe is an irrational line of argument.

      1. It is a very slippery slope. Indeed, Ron falls off of it in this post. As I point out below, there is nothing internally inconsistent or irrational about these people’s views. Ron just doesn’t agree with it and calls it irrational.

        1. To me, the funny/sad thing is that people are having an argument about whether these beliefs about contraception and abortion are scientifically accurate and consistent…WHEN WE’RE TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE THIS IS WHAT AN IMMORTAL, ALL-POWERFUL SKY FATHER WANTS. Seriously, if people can get past that, no belief about contraception or abortion should seem ridiculous. Not that it should matter anyway – do the laws of kosher or halal need to have a scientific basis too?

          1. Right. To be really inflammatory, what’s the science behind “equality before the law”?

          2. What Tone Police Said. So JD, tell me about all of these natural rights you people are always going on about. Just exactly what is the scientific basis for thinking that people have a right to free speech or to the quiet enjoyment of their property?

            I shouldn’t laugh at you. It is not very nice of me. But I can’t help it. You basically have substituted faith in God for faith in a set of arbitrary assumptions about the rights of man. That is fine and all. I would rather have you in power than some nitwit socialist. But your pretension in thinking that you are somehow more rational than anyone else is amusing to say the least.

            1. J: Not at all “arbitrary.” See F.A. Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty, and The Fatal Conceit for more details.

            2. You basically have substituted faith in God for faith in a set of arbitrary assumptions about the rights of man.

              While I can’t speak for JD or others, I would say they are not identical. Faith in a god is believing in a living, acting entity in (and outside?) of the universe. Adhering to a system of ethics and/or natural laws is not believing in a living, acting entity. Rather, it is the arrival to conclusions about concepts of right and wrong.

            3. I’m thinking maybe you think I said something I didn’t. But I do think there is a basis, in philosophy if not in “science”, for natural rights, beginning on the fact that humans are physically independent from each other. I recognize that at a certain point things become axiomatic: you either accept that people have rights naturally, or you do not.

              Anyway, I think you’re reading way too much into what I said. I am not claiming I’m particularly more rational than anyone else, and I’m not sure why you think I am claiming that. Yes, I think that believing in an all-powerful Sky Father who cares if you have an abortion is kind of silly, but my whole point is that rationality is not the point here.

              If someone wants to say “Hobby Lobby is wrong because it’s irrational to believe that contraception blah blah abortion blah blah” they are completely missing the forest for the trees: if something stems from a religious belief, then it is almost by definition not required to be scientifically rational.

      2. Of maybe Ron didn’t fall off of it. I misunderstood his position.

  2. Possibly the greatest achievement of the Enlightenment was the principle of tolerance: I may or may not have access to transcendent truth, but I am damned sure that you don’t. So let’s leave each other alone in our irrational beliefs about the transcendent.

    Then I shall follow your advice and ignore this column and its conclusions!

    1. You’re being rational and Bailey didn’t say anything about leaving that alone!

    2. Don’t forget Robespierre, another product of the Enightenment who thought that if someone didn’t have access to the correct transcendent, enlightened truths he should have his head cut off.

  3. “The wonderful thing about being religiousliberal is you can believe all sorts of irrational things.”

    all fixed with one addition – those irrational religious folks usually don’t try to use govt in forcing everyone else to agree with their beliefs.

    1. Hmm. That depends a bit on the area and time period in question.

    2. those irrational religious folks usually don’t try to use govt in forcing everyone else to agree with their beliefs.

      I’m for religious freedom and all but perhaps you could crack open a history textbook?

      1. current events, guys.

        1. Yeah, seriously, DwT. They don’t try to force people to adopt their beliefs, only to abide by them. Huge difference!

          1. (by “they” I mean “some”, of course)

            1. A religion is not really much different than any other political philosophy. For a certain personality type the only impediment to forcing others to adopt “correct” behaviors is a lack of power. The Christian SoCons are more out of power than in at the moment. Were the Fundamentalist Socialists and the SoCons to exchange cultural dominance we would start to see laws reflecting SoCon preferences.

              1. that part – were they to switch places – I can agree with. SoCons and progs are frequently opposite sides of the same coin. My point was mostly regarding the good professor’s lack of self-awareness and the left’s habit of projection.

              2. I agree with your general point, but there are plenty of laws on the books right now that were inspired by religion in the first place and/or are sustained at least in part by religion, e.g., bans or restrictions on prostitution, strip clubs, pornography production, etc.

                Notably, of course, those are all laws that have the support of a vocal subset of feminists and their ilk.

      1. the comment parade that ensued was an all-timer.

      2. I think that the idea that a living human being is an unperson, a life unworthy of life, qualifies as just as irrational, just as “religious” if you will, as the view that living human beings are *all* persons with human rights.

  4. Ron, didn’t you confuse George Washington U. with Georgetown?

    1. Yes. Thanks. Will fix now.

  5. Science is irrelevant in most things, including people’s most deeply held beliefs. Freedom being the natural and best inheritance of humanity is not a “scientific” belief, but it is probably close to what most people here believe. The brotherhood of man requiring a forcible sharing of resources and lack of social hierarchy certainly isn’t scientifically based, but it accounts for a hell of a lot of leftist thinking.

    1. Considering progressivism can best be described as applying science to the management of public affairs, it’s no surprise liberals revile freedoms and oppose authentic liberalization on every front. Scientism is the fetish of lefty thought.

  6. Maybe I am missing something here but “life begins at conception” means the same thing as “life begins at fertilization”. If these drugs prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the Uterus, it is an abortion if you believe life begins life begins at conception. I don’t see any scientific significance to an egg attaching to the walls of the uterus. The significant action is the fertilization where you have for the first time a complete set of human DNA.

    So, I don’t see how you can call their position irrational Ron. You don’t agree with it and that is your right. If you think life begins at some point after fertilization, then you don’t think this is abortion. You can call these people mistaken, but I don’t see how you can call them irrational.

    1. J: What? I made the same point in my article.

      1. Then I apologize Ron. I misunderstood you. I thought you were saying their position was irrational. My mistake. Clearly they are not irrational. They just operate from a different set of assumptions than their opponents do.

        1. In your defense, Ron did say this, “As it happens, for some religiously irrational folks prevention of the implantation of a fertilized egg would count as an abortion.”

          1. Yeah, I took this for him saying religious folk are irrational for believing that.

            1. They are irrational for believing that. There is some vague evidence that Plan B might prevent a fertilized egg from implanting, if taken within a perfect window of time, and it assumes that the egg in question was in the 20-40% of eggs that do implant.

              Calling every time a dose of Plan B is taken an abortion is grossly inaccurate and not a rational position to take.

              But they are perfectly within their rights to believe something irrational.

              1. If you believe life begins at conception, doesn’t it make sense to assume it does? Suppose there was a drug that we thought had a 50% chance of killing people. Would it be irrational to be against using that drug?

                1. But it isn’t a 50% chance. Or even a 10%. Making a positive statement about a low probability event is irrational.

                  It would be the same logical error as assuming that every time a bat touched a ball it was a homerun.

                  Listeria can cause a miscarriage and deli meat can carry listeria. Are women who eat deli meat attempting to have an abortion?

              2. Calling every time a dose of Plan B is taken an abortion is grossly inaccurate and not a rational position to take.

                I can’t find anyone who has said that, though. At least not the Hobby Lobby plaintiffs. They’ve said that Plan B may kill fertilized eggs under some circumstances.

                To me, that’s a lot like saying “the guy may be loaded, but almost certainly isn’t” which is a damn good reason not to point it at anyone.

              3. They are not irrational in not being willing to fund that risk.

                1. I agree Tone, and this from a guy who thinks they aren’t quite human until they can live on their own dime.

    2. Yes, everything you, TIT and FOE have to say on this is correct.

      What’s the scientific basis for the Left’s affinity for universal health care? For a “living wage”? etc. etc.

    3. I don’t see any scientific significance to an egg attaching to the walls of the uterus. The significant action is the fertilization where you have for the first time a complete set of human DNA.

      What about cancerous cells? They are unique and complete sets of human DNA. Fertilization and implantation are both just steps in the long process of creating an aware entity. Wherever you choose to draw the line will be at least somewhat arbitrary.

      1. Cancer cells don’t if left alone develop into a full human being. So they are not scientifically the same.

        And yes, the line you draw is always going to be at some level arbitrary. You have to start with some kind of assumption about what constitutes a human life. I would argue that we should assume that the fertilized egg is a human life because it is the human life stripped of all its physical attributes. Once we start defining human life as beginning something later in the development process, we end up defining human life by physical attributes and abilities. And that is a very slippery slope towards declaring the sick or the handicapped or anyone we consider inferior to be something less than human. That is a slope I would prefer not to step out onto.

        But that is my opinion. There are other equally rational ones.

        1. Cancer cells don’t if left alone develop into a full human being.

          Neither do fertilized eggs. They need a lot of resources and a good bit of luck. The same could be said of unfertilized egg cells.

          There are other equally rational ones.

          I’m assuming you don’t support early term abortion bans then?

          1. Neither do neonates. They need a lot of resources and a good bit of luck.

            1. And that’s why neonates don’t have all the rights and freedoms of an adult human.

              1. True, but presumably you don’t support 4th trimester abortions.

        2. John what about drawing the line at sentience? That wouldn’t jeopardize the sick or handicapped and is seemingly less arbitrary than fertilization.

          I have trouble understanding how people get upset over a few cells but will then go to dinner and eat a pig that was locked in a tiny cage, castrated, and finally had its throat slit.

          1. Now you have to define sentience. My dog is more sentient than a day old baby. I don’t think my dog has a right to life. He certainly does not have the same rights as me. I feel the same away about my meals.

            1. I think pain perception and capacity for emotion is standard meaning for sentient.

              Your dog is in every way a more complex being than a day old baby, how would we justify right to life for the baby but not the dog? At the very least it has a right to not suffer undue harm.

              1. At the very least it has a right to not suffer undue harm.

                Agreed. To be clear, I only think a day old baby has a right not be deliberately or negligently harmed by others. I don’t think the baby has a right to sustenance or care. Fortunately, such a right isn’t needed to make sure that the vast majority of babies are cared for.

                1. Interesting, yes I imagine given the natural rarity of the event it would be almost entirely taken care of by charity.

          2. Because what is “sentience”? Isn’t their gradients of it? You or I are more sentient than a new born child or a profoundly mentally disabled person. If the line is sentience, aren’t they by definition lesser human beings than you and I and thus not entitled to the same rights and dignity?

            1. A newborn is already not entitled to the same rights, they can’t vote for example. But the fact that they can feel pain, fear, joy etc means they deserve some moral consideration.

            2. aren’t they by definition lesser human beings than you and I and thus not entitled to the same rights and dignity?

              Regardless of where the line is, that’s how we treat children, babies and embryos. Two year olds have no right to free speech or association. They have no right to due process or association. They have no freedom of religion.

              1. Two year olds have no right to free speech or association. They have no right to due process or association. They have no freedom of religion.

                Yet they do have the most basic right, the right to not be killed, don’t they?

                1. Yet they do have the most basic right, the right to not be killed, don’t they?

                  Agreed. I’m just trying to point out that not all things that are human have the same rights.

                2. There is no ‘right to not be killed’. There is a right to life.

                  A right to not be killed entails action on the part of another.

              2. Can the government dictate which religion children must follow and put them in jail without trail for not following it or for bad mouthing the state?

                Other have described it better, but parents are stewards of children until they are able to be on their own, but that doesn’t make them have any less rights as any other person.

      2. Everyone alive today was once a fertilized egg. No one alive today was ever a cancerous cell.

        I don’t draw any lines. I draw a circle around everything that science calls a member of Homo sapiens and say that we cannot kill it unless we are acting in self-defense or the defense of others. It’s those who want to be able to kill those Homo sapiens who engage in magical, unscientific thinking, with their gauzy concepts of “personhood” and “an aware entity.”

        1. Everyone alive today was once an unfertilized egg. Does that make all eggs members of Homo sapiens? Why does the little bit of information added by a sperm count for so much more than all the energy and nutrients added by the womb?

          1. Why does the little bit of information added by a sperm count for so much more than all the energy and nutrients added by the womb?

            Science. DNA. Life. While perhaps inconvenient they are. Why do you insist on pretending that you really can’t tell the difference?

            1. Science. DNA. Life.

              It’s just as hard for science to make a baby out of an unfertilized egg as out of a fertilized egg. Science still needs to put the embryo in a womb for about 24 weeks.

              Fertilization seems important because information isn’t fungible. But when it comes to making babies fertilization is trivial compared to everything else that is necessary.

              1. Fertilization seems important because information isn’t fungible.

                Your mother’s egg cell and your father’s sperm do not die. They merge and form new DNA. How is this not the beginning?

                when it comes to making babies fertilization birth is trivial compared to everything else that is necessary.

                This is just as true my way and has no bearing on if they are alive and human.

              2. Fertilization seems important because information isn’t fungible. But when it comes to making babies fertilization is trivial compared to everything else that is necessary.

                Human development from conception to gestation to delivery is a complex process that occurs over about 40 weeks. Every discrete part of that process is trivial compared to the aggregate “everything else” involved.

                Your point is ridiculous.

          2. No one was an unfertilized egg.

            An egg, like a sperm, has it’s own discrete life. It can live it’s entire lifespan and die without ever merging with an egg.

            When that happens something entirely new and distinct is formed that has a life independent of the lives of a single sperm and a single egg.

        2. To me, the moral question is about consent.

          Regardless of when those cells become a human being, the individuals who created them accepted responsibility for them the moment they willingly chose to engage in an activity that might create them. …just like I accept the responsibility for the damage I might cause to other people every time I willingly pull my car out of the driveway.

          Of course, there’s a big difference between whether something is unethical and whether something should be illegal–even to most Christians.

          Most Christians agree that cheating on your spouse is immoral. I suspect very few think that anyone should go to jail for it.

          So, there are two very separate questions there, and I think a lot of people conflate them. It’s quite possible to think that abortion is woefully unethical, from a religious perspective, and also think that it should be perfectly legal.

          1. In other words, the ethical question is about when and if the parents willingly accepted responsibility, not when the cells become a human being.

    4. J: Hmmm. I think that perhaps my attempt at sarcasm failed in this instance – my point is that scientific evidence does not conclusively rule out (NEJM editorial) the possibility that Plan B prevents implantation which, as I noted, some religious people believe is the equivalent of an abortion. Calling them “religiously irrational” was meant to highlight the fact that they are relying on (thin) scientific evidence for their beliefs about Plan B.

      1. Thanks for clarifying – the tone of the article didn’t seem sarcastic, but condemnatory. I certainly don’t see someone as scientifically illiterate for not understanding the specific mechanism of action for Levonorgestrel – particularly when the advocates say “best evidence”

        1. RAH: Given the recent responses to several of my blogposts, I am beginning to think that I am putting my sarcasm generator on too low a setting.

      2. There’s nothing “thin” about the “scientific evidence for their beliefs about Plan B.” You’re looking at this the wrong way.

        The scientific evidence is definitely inconclusive about whether Plan B ever causes the death of a fertilized egg. Which is to say, it is entirely rational and scientifically sound to say that Plan B may cause the death of a fertilized egg.

        To me, that’s like saying “we’re 99% sure that this gun isn’t loaded, but we can’t rule out the possibility that it is.” Would it be irrational for you to want me to refrain from pointing a gun at you that we were 99% sure was unloaded?

  7. As it happens, for some religiously irrational folks prevention of the implantation of a fertilized egg would count as an abortion.

    Just like asking a girl if she would like to come back to your room for a drink is sexual assault.

  8. “So if the court feels it’s dealing with someone who’s sincere, I don’t think anybody’s going to subject that person’s belief to a scientific test.”.

    It’s a frightening jump to go from a headline about whether Hobby Lobby’s beliefs are scientifically consistent with their stated beliefs to suggesting that people must be scientifically consistent to be free from government force.

    1. ^ This.

  9. These people bring me the closest to feeling actual hatred sometimes. Not quite that far, but close.

    1. Why? What do you care if people think life begins when you have a complete set of human DNA? Is thinking that worse than cops who kill people’s dogs for fun or DA’s who charge kids who send naked pics to their g/f with child porn? Really?

      1. I’m not even sure what you are trying to say. But I was referring to people like the quoted professor who believe that they have a monopoly on rational thinking, and a right to force it on others.

        1. I misunderstood who you were speaking about. I thought you were talking about the people who objected to this drug.

      1. Yeah, I guess I should have been more specific. See above.

  10. FWIW, I don’t see the word “science” anywhere in the constitution. I take that to mean the scientifically-minded have the same right to input into the legislative process as anyone else, including the clergy – they have a right to an opinion, and that’s it. Where the idea that science is entitled to preempt all other considerations came from, I’m sure I don’t know.

    1. Science tells us nothing about values or ethics. It just tells us how the natural world works. Indeed, formal logic doesn’t by itself make any value judgements. You can see any decision as “rational” if you just start with the right assumptions.

    2. It goes hand-in-hand with the desire to force a top-down, well planned, “rational” model on society. It’s the conceit of the thought experiment, which works oh so well in the textbook, so it must therefore be a superior way to govern. Which might have some utilitarian merit if societies followed knowable and well defined laws, in the same way as atoms or galaxies. Which is, of course, not at all the case.

      1. THIS

        Every single murderous ideology of the last 200 years has come cloaked in science and rationalism.

        1. It is the conceit again. When people don’t act in the way the model predicted, rather than toss the model, the planners try to force people into the “right” actions. Death camps and gulags are the most extreme example of that. Soda bans and individual mandates are the more common form today.

        2. Radical Islam?

        3. J: What about the millennia before 1800?

        4. Every single murderous ideology invented since science and rationalism became popular has talked about how it’s scientific and rational. Sure, OK. I guess that’s probably technically correct, since the anti-scientific murderous ideologies are older than 200 years.

          1. The point I am making Warty is that once science and reason obtained credibility, murderous irrational ideologies started pretending they were scientific. The point is not to discredit science or say that science should be associated with murder. It is to say that when some political ideology claims to be “scientific” and “rational” and in particular when it claims a monopoly on such, be very afraid.

            1. Well, sure. People use popular ideas to convince others to follow them. It’s a decent enough point, but it borders on the tautological.

              1. No it doesn’t. I think the fact that both Marxism and Fascism claimed to be “science” is significant. It is significant if for no other reason than people need to understand that just because something claims to be science doesn’t mean it is. It is also significant because it shows that science doesn’t tell us anything about morality. I can make a reasonable case that killing off all of the handicapped and criminal undesirables will make a better society. What I can’t do is make a moral case for such.

    3. To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

      Article 1, Section 8

      /nitpick

  11. I’m confused.

    If the First Amendment protects irrational religious beliefs, does that mean it protects irrational speech, too?

    I mean, do libertarians really want a world where people can just go around believing whatever they want and saying whatever they think?!

    Madness.

  12. I’m a little disappointed. All this talk about science! and not one mention of consensus.

    1. I, too, am disappointed. We have a consensus! Bailey, this article is scientifically proven to be disappointing.

  13. Shorter Ron Bailey: The science is settled! Consensus!

    1. You, um, didn’t read the article, did you?

  14. “Is Heaven Chiefly Populated with the Souls of Embryos?”

    If it isn’t, then Limbo certainly is.

  15. At least the person quoted in the article admits that the problem is RFRA, a Congressional statute passed overwhelmingly in 1993 and signed by President Clinton. So much for the talking point that five be-penised judges simply invented this right out of hatred for women.

    1. According to Harry Reid, it was five white men who set the women’s movement back several decades by denying them their right to use legislation to force employers to provide them with insurance that covers birth control.

      I can’t figure whether Reid is merely an idiot who reflexively plays the race card while chattering in front of television cameras or whether he intended to insult Thomas.

    2. The argument I’ve seen leftists use is “But that’s not what RFRA was supposed to mean.” Apparently RFRA was supposed to only give them outcomes that they liked.

      1. Yeah, the law is even less likely than a computer chip to properly implement the “Do What I Meant” instruction.

  16. Is there a scientific answer to “when life begins”? Science may tell us when fertilization happens, when implantation happens, along with various other stages of pregnancy. But the answer to when life begins seems to me to be an inherently moral/religious issue.

    1. Whether something is alive is a straightforward question of biology.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life#Biology

  17. As it happens, for some religiously irrational folks prevention of the implantation of a fertilized egg would count as an abortion.

    So for such people it’s only officially an abortion after the fetus has received its Implantation Achievement, as before that there’s no “person” to be aborted? I’ve heard the Judge talk about this briefly in one of his Woods interviews, as he views life as beginning with an implanted fetus, but that’s weirdly bright line to anyone who views human life as a natural process that doesn’t entail any Cartesian theater.

    It also seems to be the wrong bright line, as most Christians I know consider life to begin at fertilization, which seems to be the moment of ensoulment; presumably different sects can’t agree when the soul faeries hand out the goodies.

    1. You don’t need to consider “ensoulment” to determine when life begins. Whether something is alive is a biological question, not a spiritual or moral question. And it’s not a difficult question, either.

      A fertilized egg is a biologically distinct member of the species Homo sapiens. It meets the criteria for a living biological organism, and that organism is a member of the human species. It has all the attributes that every human ever born has had when they were at that stage of development.

      1. At some point, you were a sperm and egg. Are a sperm and egg also human life and do they deserve protection under law or legislation? Is male masturbation genocide? And once we recognize sperm and egg as human life, what about their constituents, namely the food your ancestors–all of them–consumed that eventually became the sperm and egg?

        Point being that physical reductionism doesn’t work when you introduce a fundamentally metaphysical concept like the distinction between living and non-living matter. Nature doesn’t distinguish between the two, much to the creationist’s chagrin, and it’s mistaken to pretend that somehow “science” is going to settle a debate that is fundamentally political and metaphysical.

  18. What’s an out-atheist?

  19. I think the issue here is that “abortion” refers to the termination of a pregnancy (which either leads to the death of the unborn or results from it), and implantation is the start of pregnancy. Some progressive really seem to think that the anti-abortion crowd is upset because abortion terminates a pregnancy (which would play into their sense of persecution and their characterization of pro-lifers as wanting to control women’s bodies). If they were just anti-terminating-pregnancy instead of pro-life, it would not make sense to oppose a drug that prevents implantation in the first place, whatever you want to call it (the misuse of the term abortifacient doesn’t help).

    Of course the anti-abortion crowd is (generally) not actually opposed to the termination of the pregnancy so much as they are to the termination of viable human organisms (which is why they prefer the term “pro-life” to “anti-abortion”). For example, they aren’t terribly fond of the creation/destruction of frozen embryos for assisted reproduction therapies, and those aren’t in anyone’s body. Since they are concerned about the organism and not the gestation process, it stands to reason that they are more concerned with when the organism should be viewed as an individual entity, and genetically, that is fertilization. That isn’t irrational or unscientific, it’s Biology 101.

    1. Well said.

    2. This.

      It’s also worth noting that the modern medical definition of a pregnancy, measured from uterine implantation, is only about 50 years old. Until the late 1960s the medical community and even much of the pro-abortion establishment agreed that pregnancy began not at implantation but at fertilization.

      They changed their minds because of exactly this issue: they wanted to avoid categorizing contraceptive methods that could inhibit uterine implantation as abortifacients, so they altered the definition of pregnancy. The fact that half a century later they get to bludgeon the fundies for being anti-science is icing on the cake.

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