Television

The Abortion Divide Shows a Fight Growing Ever More Bitter

PBS documentary illustrates two sides pushing even further apart.

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Frontline: The Abortion Divide. PBS. Tuesday, April 23, 10 p.m.

In 1983, in its first season, Frontline aired The Abortion Clinic, documentarian Mark Obenhaus' matter-of-fact chronicle of daily life (or, depending on your view, the daily taking of life) at a clinic in Darby, Pennsylvania.

Though the show created a stir by showing (albeit in a non-grisly fashion) two abortion procedures, mostly it was notable for demonstrating the flat disconnect between abortion supporters and opponents.

Thirty-six years later, Obenhaus is back in Darby (this time with co-producer Elizabeth Leiter) to take another look at the clinic and the pro-life demonstrators who cluster outside every day. His conclusion: When it comes to abortion, Darby is "even more bitterly divided than it was 36 years ago."

The "bitter" part is not so apparent—The Abortion Divide is mostly free of the muzzle-velocity rhetoric that dominates this issue—but the division is plain. The two sides, essentially, don't hear one another at all.

The pro-choice folks, in measured tones, suggest their opponents represent the eternal white male imperative to be the boss of everything and everybody. The pro-life people, on the other hand, think the places they're picketing are post-modernist Treblinkas and Auschwitzes.

"It's barbaric to chop a baby up, put it in a little canister, take it out and count the pieces," says one of the pro-life chiefs. "What kind of world have we entered into, where we do this to our children?"

There is no compromise between these two positions, and perhaps there shouldn't be. If you believe a fetus (or "pregnancy tissue," as some of the clinic personnel call it) is just an undifferentiated appendage like a tonsil or an appendix, then why should anybody else have any say about what you do with or to it?

And if you think it's a tiny person with a small heart but a full-sized soul—the Darby pro-lifers are virtually all devout Catholics—how could you ever countenance what happens to it inside an abortion clinic?

The Abortion Divide, scrupulously even-handed, makes no attempt to sort out the moral questions here, merely recounting their continued existence. And if the show were nothing more than a heat check on the debate—oh, man, they're still all mad—there would be little point to it. But Obenhaus and Leiter persuaded some of the women, both at the abortion clinic and a nearby facility for unwed mothers run by the pro-lifers, to talk about their feelings as they work through the question of what to do. Their thoughts are startling, sometimes maddening and nearly always touching.

A homeless woman at the unwed-mother refuge is something of a poster child for unlearned lessons; a recovered-for-the-moment drug addict, she has five children in foster homes, two living with her sisters, and a burbling new one in a crib by her side. "Now we're trying again," she says. "He's pretty special—ain't nobody taking this one." It's hard not to want to shake her and shout, "Grow up!" And harder still, watching mother and baby beam at one another, to not believe, just a little bit, in Carl Sandburg's axiom that "A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."

Yet bad decisions do not respect socioeconomic boundary lines. Down the street at the abortion clinic, another woman, 30-ish and seemingly well-educated and well-heeled, has just learned she's carrying twins. With a palpable air of embarrassment, she admits the pregnancy is the result of a single act of unprotected sex and an unexpectedly hard-ass universe: "Surely, one time, I'd get some kind of a grace period on that."

She's hoping for better luck with the babies themselves—"a sense of peace … with these two beings I've chosen not to bring into the world." She imagines a chat with them before the abortion in which she tells them, "Thank you, and I'm honored to be given this gift of life. Unfortunately, I can't do it right now." The twins, alas, were not available to recount their their side of the conversation.

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  1. Pro-lifers and animal rights activists are two peas in the same pod.

  2. I am eagerly awaiting the day when medical tech advances to the point where a placenta, living contents and all, can be safely transplanted from a woman not able or willing to support said placenta and contents, to a man or woman who wants to support said placenta and contents, till delivery and possibly beyond. What will this “tech” do to the abortion debate?

    1. Will one be able to purchase the placenta without its contents? Asking for a friend.

      1. God you’re fucking boring and unfunny.

        1. I mean “Asking for a friend?”. You CONSTANTLY use that lame crutch. And OF COURSE you can buy placental material you fuckwit, it’s a common ingredient in skin care products.

          Jesus Christ if you’re going to be boring and unfunny, and least be original and informed.

          1. I was thinking he was more interested in a whole placenta, after all BBQ season is almost here

            1. You can buy one easily. He’s just stupid and poorly informed.

              1. What would we all do without Tulpa to inform us when all of the non-Tulpa posters are stupid and poorly informed?

                I for one suspect we’d all fall over dead of boredom!

                1. You’d still get flagged for blogwhoring.

                  Poof!

          2. Does anyone know how to get a short little dude with Asperger’s to stop being infatuated with you and to stop following you around in their Mini Cooper? Asking for a friend.

      2. Look for some of the shadier orderlies around the maternity ward, they can hook you up

    2. My stance on abortion is that yes, I understand the pro-life attitude that it is murder … but if that fetus cannot survive on its own, then forcing the mother to carry it to term is slavery. Some pro-lifers are consistent in refusing exemptions for rape or incest, more allow exemptions for health of the mother, but many do not, which to me shows their hypocrisy.

      I often wondered how many pro-lifers would agree to adopt every baby they save from abortion. If a woman can’t support a a child, if she’s too young or knows how immature she is (sometimes self-evident), they are condemning both baby and mother to a miserable life. If that is God’s mysterious plan, fuck him, but more to the point, then so is abortion.

      I have also wondered how a fetus transplant would change things, or artificial wombs; if an aborted 6 week fetus could be successfully carried to term in an artificial womb, what would I think of forcing a mother to accept that plus adoption instead of an abortion?

      There’s also the problem of support. Courts have sometimes forced sperm donor fathers to pay child support for children even when the mothers explicitly agreed they did not want or expect child support.

      1. “Some pro-lifers are consistent in refusing exemptions for rape or incest, more allow exemptions for health of the mother, but many do not, which to me shows their hypocrisy.”

        As a rule, when prolife groups allow these exceptions, it’s to placate the squeamishness of squishy Republicans. Your average Republican leader (with some exceptions) wants prolife *votes,* but isn’t necessarily prolife and in fact wants the issue to go away.

        If there’s a scenario when a mother places her child for adoption (even via an artificial womb when one is developed), then it will be time enough for some prochoice reporter to pounce and reveal that nobody stepped forward to do the adopting, and that the kid was stuck in an orphanage or foster care. But I’d like to see the evidence, and anyway, I would call orphanages and foster care fates worse than death.

        1. I would *not* call orphanages and poster care fates worse than death.

          I’m not sure even Dickens did.

        2. I don’t know who you talk to, but growing up an Evangelical Christian, rape, incest, and health were always listed as exceptions. They were exceptions long before Roe-vs-Wade. Especially for the health of the mother. That’s not abortion, it’s triage.

          Quit painting devil horns on pictures to make your opponents look worse.

          ABCD – you are forgetting something. Parenthood shares many characteristics with slavery. You are forced to pay for and rear your child, with only extreme situations allowing you out of it. You are heavily punished if you fail to live up to your duties.

          Your argument is equivalent to stating that anyone who wants child-murder to be illegal needs to personally take care of anyone whose parents want to kill them. That’s obvious nonsense.

          1. You are forced to pay for and rear your child, with only extreme situations allowing you out of it. You are heavily punished if you fail to live up to your duties.

            That’s true only for men. It’s fairly easy for women to legally abandon their children.

          2. “Quit painting devil horns on pictures to make your opponents look worse.”

            I thought you were complaining that I was misrepresenting my *allies.* Now I’m confused.

            Maybe evangelical Christians want rape and incest exceptions, but such “reforms” often trace to the 1960s and the “reform” laws that predated Roe by only a few years.

            In any case, it would be progress to have “elective” (non-rape, non-incest, non-health) abortions banned, since most abortions are “elective.”

            Then it would be time enough to narrow the exceptions to life of the mother.

            For instance, have you noticed that, according to the Supreme Court, executing an actual rapist (even a rapist of children) is cruel and unusual, yet killing the rapist’s innocent child prior to birth is A-OK?

            Of course, if you can kill your rapist’s child because it reminds you of the rape, what about when the child is born, gets older, and starts developing the facial features of its dad? Wouldn’t *that* be traumatic enough to justify killing the child post-birth?

            1. Only if you’re too stupid and/or dishonest to recognize the difference between an embryo and a child.

              1. You don’t limit yourself to a rape exception, but would legalize abortion regardless of reasons. In fact, you aren’t a champion of the rape exception because you don’t think there should be a ban for it to be an exception to.

              2. Vern, you might want to explain the difference to the state legislatures of New York and Virginia.

        3. One of my best friends grew up in foster care. He’d probably dispute that characterization, and being alive, he’s in a position to do so.

        4. Hi,

          I’m trying to go through the infant adoption process now. So listen when I say this:

          There is WAY more demand for infant adoption than there are infants to adopt. A ridiculous amount of demand.

          Really, the only children who go to foster care are those already screwed up by poor parenting or no parenting. That’s the ONLY reason why there are kids in foster care in the US.

          If EVERY aborted baby in the US were taken to term and the parents were to give up their parenting rights, EVERY one of those children would be adopted, from now until the end of time. Period.

      2. Yes, a fetus can not survive on its own. But a toddler can not survive on its own either. If society allows a woman to abandon a fetus because to do otherwise would be a form of slavery, then shouldn’t we allow parents or the taxpayers to abandon a toddler because to do otherwise would be a form of slavery?

        1. That is the reasoning, yes, and pro-“choice” people don’t usually follow it that far for about the same reason pro-life people don’t advocate murder charges for women who get abortions: You keep your eye on the goal, and don’t do things that get in the way of eventually achieving it. If letting some women who murdered her baby wait on God’s judgment instead of man’s advances the day when abortion is illegal, it’s worth it.

          Likewise, pro-aborts don’t talk about favoring legalizing infanticide because they’re concerned about the blow-back, not because they woudn’t do it if they could. Look, NY just effectively legalized infanticide, and they knew what they were doing when they enacted that law.

          Sneer quotes around “choice” because ‘pro-choice’ people are so seldom consistent about favoring choice in other contexts.

    3. Given the mess that is the US adoption program, my prediction is “not that much”.

      We can’t even find adoptive parents for all the unwanted children who do get born. What makes you think that placental transplants would make that problem any less?

      1. “We can’t even find adoptive parents for all the unwanted children who do get born.”

        Is this true? I have some friends who just adopted a baby, and the process took several years and tens of thousands of dollars. Keep in mind, that this couple is about as upstanding and stable as you could possibly expect. I’ve always had the impression that, in the U.S. at least, the demand for adoptions outpaces supply.

        1. Probably adoption law or standards would adapt differently if the other choice were death. As it is now, the law has to consider what’s best for the child; either way, the child is still alive. If the choice were adopt or kill, maybe the law would favor adoption more.

          Or maybe not, considering how things go in law.

        2. A friend of mine and his wife adopted a child a few years ago. They would have preferred to have a child of their own but this was not possible due to her severe endometriosis. They ended up going through a foreign adoption. They didn’t do the foreign adoption because the wanted to virtue signal like a celeb with an African baby. They did it because they are working class people who couldn’t afford 5 figures for a surrogate mother and couldn’t afford 5 figures to go through the American adoption system.

          1. Yeah I know a couple of families who went the foreign adoption route also. I never asked them why, but I suspect it was for similar reasons. Anecdotally, it seems that there’s no shortage of would-be parents looking to adopt. I was just curious if anyone had actual statistics or links to studies that might support or counter that assumption.

    4. It would likely change the debate for the better, as would pro-lifers if they would recognize the ‘my body-my life’ argument is more of a ‘squatter’ argument than an argument for a fetus being simply a woman’s body part. One way to look at it has been presented by Pete Hendrickson first. (I believe, though if anyone has any evidence to the contrary, I’ll be happy to read it) A pre-born baby is like a tenant, and tenants have certain rights. It’s one thing to evict a ‘problematic’ tenant, another to evict them by killing them and throwing the body out the door. I would add to that, and say when you choose unprotected sex, as a woman, know that you may be ‘accepting applications’ for tenancy.(as a woman who has had both children and miscarriages, I have no problem with this) and should consider adoption as an option for that tenant. (or tenants, in some cases)

      1. I don’t think that would help. If anything, a pro-lifer would just read your statement, claim that you agreed that the baby was a separate human being, which validates their argument that killing it is murder.

        Really, everything seems to hinge on at what point the fetus turns from an excretion to be cleaned up (which it obviously is at the beginning) into a separate human being with rights (which it obviously is at the end).

        Everything else is detail circling this key question, and I’ve seen no key arguments for it.

  3. “The pro-choice folks, in measured tones, suggest their opponents represent the eternal white male imperative to be the boss of everything and everybody. The pro-life people, on the other hand, think the places they’re picketing are post-modernist Treblinkas and Auschwitzes.”

    I’m staunchly pro-choice, but the pro-lifers have the better of this. The Virginia bill is exhibit A, and we pro-choicers need to engage in some serious reflection.

    1. I’m anti-abortion but there’s something deeply troubling about forcing a person against her will to use her body as an incubator. I can’t reconcile it.

    2. Well, the extreme pro-life argument is simpler and more straightforward than any of the others. It’s a baby. As a parent, you are required to take care of your baby. Child neglect, endangerment, and murder are all criminal acts. You can be absolute because it’s murder. You don’t compromise on murder for anything other than stopping other death (such as the life of the mother exception, which is just triage). It’s simple, straightforward, and clear.

      It’s just hard to reconcile the human experience with that stance sometimes. My personal opinion was made up when I was reading an interview with Ms. Roe of the famous case. She said one of her friends told her “Say you were raped by a black man, and you’ll get your abortion”. The Hippocratic Oath from thousands of years ago talks about abortions (forbidding them as deadly medicine). This isn’t going to go away, and if it’s illegal, people will get abortions illegally, leading to more deaths. We need to be practical, and the Supreme Court’s outline of abortion being legal before 20 weeks seems to be the least of a choice of evils.

      1. This isn’t going to go away, and if it’s illegal, people will get abortions illegally, leading to more deaths. We need to be practical, and the Supreme Court’s outline of abortion being legal before 20 weeks seems to be the least of a choice of evils.

        why does this rationale not apply to high-capacity magazines?

        1. That rationale was literally the reasoning behind the 21st amendment allowing alcohol. It’s why cigarettes are legal, and it’s why cannabis and prostitution are slowly being legalized. Banning it doesn’t work and leads to lots of problematic side-effects. If they are legal, they can be controlled.

        2. Heck, why doesn’t it apply to theft, rape, murder? No law reduces the incidence rate of a crime to zero.

          The reason for the 21st amendment was the recognition that, while it might be sensible to accept substantial costs to reduce how often people do something that’s a moral wrong, drinking really didn’t belong in that category, so the harmful side effects of prohibition just weren’t worth it.

      2. We need to be practical

        There are those here who reject that as a matter of principle.

    3. I’m staunchly pro-choice, but the pro-lifers have the better of this.

      It’s not surprising, when the author frames the false dichotomy as being between a strawman and an accurate representation of the other side’s moral imperative.

      One can delve into the patriarchal overtones of abortion restrictions, but pro-choicers aren’t primarily virtue-signalers. They care about autonomy over their own bodies (both men and women).

      1. “They care about their own bodies. Both men and women.”

        Not true. They only care about the women.

        1. If you know anything about the underlying legal arguments, then you’d understand that this is about men’s bodies, too.

          1. Right, that’s why men get hit with support requirements even if they didn’t want the kid, or were even defrauded (I’m on the pill, honest!) into facilitating the pregnancy: Because ‘pro-choicers’ care about the man’s choices, too.

            The only way this is about the men, is men supporting abortion because it makes it easier to get sex.

  4. “Growing further apart”

    Women have the right to choose vs Abortion murders a human baby

    A woman should consult her doctor and faith and make her decision free of the government vs Abortion murders a human baby

    It should be safe legal and rare vs Abortion murders a human baby

    Her body, her choice vs Abortion murders a human baby that has its own body

    Keep your rosaries off my ovaries vs Abortion murders a human baby, scientifically speaking

    Its a clump of cells that cant exist outside the mother vs babies are viable at 20 weeks now with modern medicine and technology.

    Tell us about your abortion, I’ll tell you about mine and we’ll celebrate it vs What happened to safe, legal, and rare?

    You can’t regulate abortion clinics and require they have hallways that will accommodate stretchers vs Don’t you regulate every business in the entire country? Shouldn’t supposed medical clinics be remotely medically accessible, just like every store and public bathroom should be wheelchair accessible?

    Kill the baby after it is outside of the mother vs What happened to Her body, her choice?

    Which side has been “moving apart?”

    1. I honestly have no idea what your point is

      1. The point is pretty obvious: The pro-lifers haven’t moved an inch since Roe v Wade was decided. The ‘pro-choicers’ have moved from abortion being a regrettable necessity occasionally, to it being a secular sacrament, to the mother and the doctor discussing whether the baby gets to live after it was delivered.

        All the movement towards more extreme positions has been on the ‘pro-choice’ side.

    2. “”A woman should consult her doctor and faith and make her decision free of the government vs Abortion murders a human baby”‘

      If I created a list of people whom a woman should consider consulting before making the decision, the government would not be on it.

    3. Caught the point. I add a couple to clarify; free speech is permitted on this topic by anyone vs. men can’t get pregnant, so they have nothing to say on the topic (and we are free to shout them out to drown out their voices)
      Pro-choice on abortion, but other choices (such as whether or not your tax-payer dollars go toward abortions, or whether you, as a business owner have a right not to provide abortion as a ‘health-care’ option) are denied…..

    4. @ Nash Tiger ….I get it…. some may not, I clarify my position further…below.

      1. Pro- choice is a broad term applied to one issue, rather than a multitude of them and so is rather an oxymoron. (This applies even within the topic of abortion, since the two issues above apply directly)

  5. I admit I don’t pay much attention to the abortion matter– I’m pro-choice, but I wonder if the pro-choice wing is overplaying its hand by demanding seconds-before-delivery abortion be 100% legal and morally acceptable?

    1. Why? Unrestricted abortion access at any time before birth is the correct, humanitarian, libertarian, science-based position. A fetus only stops being a clump of cells after delivery.

      #StandWithPP

      1. Because rights are not absolute?

      2. If a woman can’t decide she wants to conceive and carry a fetus 99% of the way during a pregnancy then spontaneously change her mind in the last 5% of the lengthy process of labor, this country will LITERALLY be even MORE Handmaid’s Tale than the Handmaid’s Tale. MOST IMPORTANT WOMAN’S RIGHT ISSUE EVER (until the next thing that occurs to me)

    2. We will see. In the final analysis, voters will have to decide whether to believe the prochoice talking points or their lying eyes.

    3. Between that and the “trigger” bills to ban abortion if Roe is ever overturned, I honestly can’t tell which side is trolling the other at this point

      1. I personally think the attempt to portray killing an infant as a women’s rights issue goes well beyond trolling

        1. And the attempt to portray a zygote as an infant doesn’t?

          Doesn’t seem like either extreme is on particularly solid ground

          1. “And the attempt to portray a zygote as an infant doesn’t?”

            Not really no. I mean, you can disagree like I do, but no it doesn’t seem like trolling.

            “Doesn’t seem like either extreme is on particularly solid ground”

            One is killing post birth. The other is being too literal about what a human consists of.

            1. “”The other is being too literal about what a human consists of.”‘

              Unless you crash into a woman’s car and it terminates her pregnancy.

              1. Not seeing your point.

                1. That you can be charge with a crime for killing something “too literal” the same as post birth.

          2. “And the attempt to portray a zygote as an infant doesn’t?”

            OK, someone correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure abortions happen after the zygote stage. So I’m not sure how zygotes are relevant to the abortion debate

            1. Some emergency contraceptives (“morning after” pills) may prevent implantation of the zygote, but even if they don’t pro-life opposition to them is predicated on the notion that a fertilized ovum is no different than an infant

              1. I suppose it is possible to take these pills after conception for the express purpose of killing a zygote.

                How often does this happen?

            2. For those who argue that life begins at fertilization (and that abortions should be banned on that basis), then zygotes are potentially relevant to the debate.

              And as Kevin Smith notes, it is already technologically feasible (in some cases) to stop a pregnancy even at that early stage.

              1. Thing is, I don’t know how much the pro-life push is for making such pills illegal, as opposed to a conscience freedom of business and provision. In other words, the debate of abortifacient pills is largely around monetary support, insurance coverage as it applies to employer mandates, and private business supply.

                When it comes to actual abortion legality, zygotes aren’t on the table. Either are embryos. Most pregnancies aren’t found out until 4 weeks and usually, even later. By the time its confirmed, baby has a heartbeat.

    4. I admit I don’t pay much attention to the abortion matter…

      Obviously, since you’ve bought into the opposition’s framing of the issue, hook, line, and sinker.

      First of all, “seconds-before-delivery abortion” is not constitutionally protected, and likely illegal, if there isn’t a compelling medical reason why it needs to happen.

      Second, the reality of these late-term abortions is that they are pretty much never the option of choice. It’s not like a woman misses six-seven periods and then figures out something is going on and chooses to abort a viable fetus. It’s more like, the fetus has some congenital condition that couldn’t be determined until late in the pregnancy but would mean either death shortly after birth or a lifetime of 24/7 care. Or the mother has some medical issue (e.g., cancer, pregnancy-related conditions, etc.) that requires a late-term abortion to save her life.

      Listen to the stories of women who have done this. Many of them are women who wanted and hoped to carry to term, but they made a difficult but correct choice to terminate their pregnancy. That’s what the debate is about.

      1. “First of all, “seconds-before-delivery abortion” is not constitutionally protected, and likely illegal, if there isn’t a compelling medical reason why it needs to happen.”

        There is a growing desire in the pro-choice movement to change that. VA’s law does it. NY’s law does it.

        “Second, the reality of these late-term abortions is that they are pretty much never the option of choice. It’s not like a woman misses six-seven periods and then figures out something is going on and chooses to abort a viable fetus. It’s more like, the fetus has some congenital condition that couldn’t be determined until late in the pregnancy but would mean either death shortly after birth or a lifetime of 24/7 care. ”

        Do you have any evidence that late-term ones are done for the health of the child?

        “Listen to the stories of women who have done this. Many of them are women who wanted and hoped to carry to term, but they made a difficult but correct choice to terminate their pregnancy. That’s what the debate is about.”

        Why should I listen to anecdotes?

        1. There is a growing desire in the pro-choice movement to change that. VA’s law does it.

          Wrong. VA’s law preserves a requirement that a third-trimester abortion be necessary for the health of the mother. It just lowers the bar to reach that conclusion, from “almost impossible” to “reasonably possible.” The same is true for the NY law, which had no “mother’s health” exception in the third trimester (and so was likely invalid anyway). You’re just lying about the facts here.

          Do you have any evidence that late-term ones are done for the health of the child?

          Do you have any evidence that giving birth to a non-viable fetus or one that will be 100% dependent on continuous care throughout its likely short life is in the fetus’s interest?

          Why should I listen to anecdotes?

          Why should an easily-rebutted liar be paid attention to?

          1. “Wrong. VA’s law preserves a requirement that a third-trimester abortion be necessary for the health of the mother. ”

            There are literally ZERO cases where a third trimester abortion is necessary for the physical health of the mother. Not a single one.

            “It just lowers the bar to reach that conclusion, from “almost impossible” to “reasonably possible.””

            Again, the law is trying to legalize infanticide. I guess that’s libertarian now.

            “Do you have any evidence that giving birth to a non-viable fetus or one that will be 100% dependent on continuous care throughout its likely short life is in the fetus’s interest?”

            While I am thrilled that you deem yourself worthy of determining what life is actually worthy of life, I don’t feel quite so confident in my capacity to determine life and death. You go be you.

            1. There are literally ZERO cases where a third trimester abortion is necessary for the physical health of the mother. Not a single one.

              An easily rebuttable lie.

              Again, the law is trying to legalize infanticide. I guess that’s libertarian now.

              Even if “infanticide” were the correct term for late-term abortion, the VA law would make it no more or less legal than it was before. Before, you needed three doctors to agree that continuing the pregnancy would threaten the mother’s life. If the law is enacted, you’d need one doctor’s assessment that continuing the pregnancy would harm the mother’s health. Lower standard, easier to meet, but legal either way.

              While I am thrilled that you deem yourself worthy of determining what life is actually worthy of life, I don’t feel quite so confident in my capacity to determine life and death.

              Sure you do. You think all human-DNA-carrying life forms deserve to live.

              1. At the point where you’ve defined “the health of the mother” to include being unhappy about the prospect of giving live birth as a ‘mental health’ issue, you’ve turned “the health of the mother” into just elective abortion. There’s no point in pretending otherwise.

                And, if as with that NY law, you declare that the state isn’t going to look into any deaths immediately after birth, you’ve legalized infanticide, too.

              2. There are literally ZERO cases where a third trimester abortion is necessary for the physical health of the mother. Not a single one.

                An easily rebuttable lie.

                Then rebut it.

                If a third trimester pregnancy must be terminated so a mother can get other life saving treatments, it doesn’t need to result in a dead baby because third trimester pregnancies are viable (third trimester beginning after 24 weeks).

                There is absolutely no case where killing a third trimester baby is necessary to save the life of the mother.

    5. The pro-choice crowd played right in tho the pro-lifers hand. The video of first trimester abortion looks like removing a tumor. The video of the third trimester abortion look like infanticide.

      1. Yeah, the problem they faced is that there isn’t any way to NOT make a third trimester abortion look like infanticide. Not when you’re aborting an infant that could have lived if you’d decided to deliver it instead.

  6. Most of the commenters who articulate a position on the issue give a point of personhood which is after conception but before birth. The problem is that by taking such a position they make themselves into “antichoice extremists” to the prochoicers, and challenge the abortion laws actually existing.

    This arrays most commenters against the idea of some kind of post-natal abortion, or late-term abortion, which the choicers are doubling down on.

    But if I say this out loud too much, I might cause a backlash as people are worried about being on the same side as extremist aborto-freak prolifers like myself.

    1. Just wait til living in that grey area is no longer an option, and embryos can be taken to term outside the mother’s womb at any time from fertilization.

    2. Murder is murder dipshit. Yes I am not aligned with murderers.

      Women have a choice. To participate or not in the ONLY activity that is by designed in nature to create new life.

      Having made that choice, and a new Hunan being growing inside them, they have the responsibility not to commit murder for convenience like the rest of us.

      Since when is being accountable for your choices unfair persecution?

      1. I wrote “human” but my US spyphone replaced it with the name of a Chinese food restaurant.

        Alexa, fuck off and die.

        1. I’m sorry, I can’t do that, Rob.

      2. Bob, if you can’t bother to understand my comments, the least you can do is bugger off.

  7. If the Kochs, or the domino’s pizza guy, gave me a grant, I’d do a documentary about the new front lines in the “abortion wars” – protecting infants born alive after a botched abortion, killing “excess” embryos in IVF labs, and the like. Plus issues like proabortion violence (“you better not have this baby!”), etc.

  8. This would be as good a time as any to mention the Julian Assange of the abortion debate, David Daleiden.

    Recall that he took undercover videos in which Planned Parenthood officials discussed the sale of baby parts from abortions.

    Not only has Planned Parenthood sued him, there’s a court order against the release of the videos. Apparently they’re more sensitive than the Pentagon Papers, which were also said to be confidential and to contain national-security info (they aren’t invoking national security for the PP videos).

    https://www.lifenews.com/2019/04/01/supreme-court-wont-dismiss-bogus-charges-against-david-daleiden-for-exposing-planned-parenthood/

      1. And here are the right-wing nut jobs at the LA Times saying the felony charges are overreach. They gave the PP spin on the videos, and say Daleiden wasn’t a respectable journalist, but at least acknowledge 1st Amendment issues (like Assange, I might add).

        https://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-planned-parenthood-charges-20170330-story.html

        1. Even funnier that courts have found that their videos weren’t edited in a way to make PP look bad

          1. Let’s check the original videos and find out…oh, wait, the choicers made the release of the videos illegal.

            1. “Please suppress this video evidence which proves our innocence!”

  9. I believe in personal liberty. I also believe in personal responsibility.

    If I use liberty as a lens, then it seems easier to support broad abortion rights–not a slam dunk but easy enough.

    But if I use responsibility, the question gets much harder. I will assume that most pregnancies result from willful acts. The argument then that forcing a pregnant woman to bear her child is onerous slavery does not make any more sense than saying that indulging in a risky activity and ending up in a body cast is slavery, or taking all my money out of the bank in cash and heading to Las Vegas (or even better, running out my line of credit), and after losing big facing a life of debt is slavery.

    1. Bad analogies, because abortion is available to solve the problem of an unwanted pregnancy. An accurate analogy would be denying you the body cast, orthopedic treatment, and pain killers, even though those things are available, in order to force you to suffer for your poor judgement. Or, forbidding you to pay off your debts so you have to suffer having bad credit for life.

      1. An “unwanted pregnancy” is another human life and the abortionist is a hired assassin. You do not have an unlimited right to have another human dead.

        1. There is also no unlimited prohibition against causing another human’s death. You can kill a soldier in war, even if he’s a conscript and did not choose to be there. In most states, you can kill an intruder in your home on the presumption that he is a threat. You can kill an attacker in self defense. You can drop bombs knowing that non-combatants will be killed because “collateral damage”. In a few states you may assist the suicide of a disabled person who can’t do it himself. You can unplug the life support of someone who is “brain dead” but still alive. You can refuse to offer an organ or tissue for transplant, knowing that the needy patient will die and you are the only available donor.

          This is why “science” can’t settle the abortion question. Banally pointing out that an embryo is “human life” does not settle the ethical issue, because our society has no blanket prohibition against ending a human life.

      2. No, how about if after injuring or bankrupting myself, I could magically avoid all the consequences and restore my prior state by doing something else–something that has questionable morality and is despised by many.

  10. All this new information on abortion. This is my enlightened face.

  11. Sorry, but looking at this as “both sides” of a “divide” is just incorrect. As with most human conflicts, this is not a struggle between two symmetrical “sides” with a difference of opinion about something, although nowadays it is popular to portray conflicts of all types that way. No, human conflicts are almost always between an aggressor and a victim. The anti-abortion activists are the aggressors here. They are the ones using or advocating using force against women seeking abortions and abortion providers. The pro-choice activists are not attempting nor advocating attempting to force anyone else to have or directly participate in abortions. They would leave the anti-abortion faction alone, if they were left alone by them. This is not a “conflict”, it is a movement by one group to coerce another.

    1. “The abolitionists are the aggressors here. They are the ones using or advocating using force against slaveholders and slave-dealers. The supporters of slavery are not attempting nor advocating attempting to force anyone else to have or directly participate in slavery. They would leave the abolitionist faction alone, if they were left alone by them. This is not a “conflict”, it is a movement by one group to coerce another.”

      1. The supporters of slavery are not attempting nor advocating attempting to force anyone else to have or directly participate in slavery.

        Yes, they were–the slaves.

        1. Bingo.
          The pro-choicers are trying to force unborn children to participate in abortion.

          1. “Unborn children” is an oxymoron, like “elderly teenagers” or “middle-aged toddlers”.

            1. On a hunch, I searched online Merriam Webster, and their first definition of “child” was “an unborn or recently born person.”

              Another definition was “a son or daughter of human parents.”

              https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/child

              1. Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive.

                1. You scored an own goal there.

                  Your claim was that the phrase “unborn children” is an oxymoron.

                  I showed a definition of the term “child” from a mainstream source which rebutted your claim.

                  Now you acknowledge that dictionaries describe how words are actually used.

                  So although you might not *want* the term “child” to include the unborn (prescriptive), it does (descriptive).

                  1. That’s right–if enough people use a word incorrectly, the incorrect use will eventually show up in the dictionary.

                    1. Then keep trying in hopes your usage will be established. Until then, don’t bitch and moan because your definition hasn’t been accepted yet.

        2. Back then, slaves weren’t people.

    2. That ship basically sailed when pro-choicers in Virginia and New York advocated for infanticide.

      1. Except no on actually did that.

        1. The pro-choicers have trouble keeping their stories straight. On the one hand the born-alive bills are unnecessary and omg we’re not killing born babies.

          Meanwhile, the owner of 2 abortion clinics criticizes born-alive bills precisely because it allegedy protects born babies too much:

          “These pieces of legislation emphasize that any “live” birth must be subject to lifesaving measures. This entirely disregards the input of both the physician and the parents involved in any birth situation. It would revoke the option for a parent to sign a “Do Not Resuscitate” order to limit their infant’s distress, specifically in cases of possible debilitating fetal defects….

          ““Born alive” bills jeopardize the ability of physicians to provide adequate care in these instances by threatening felony murder charges if a live birth is not immediately given lifesaving measures. To put it bluntly: These bills are blatant attempts for legislators to control how and when physicians provide care.”

          https://rewire.news/article/2019/04/12/born-alive-abortion-bills-are-based-on-nothing-but-propaganda/

          1. Oops, doesn’t necessarily owns the clinics, just oversees them.

            1. (an overseer isn’t necessarily an owner)

          2. On the one hand the born-alive bills are unnecessary and omg we’re not killing born babies.

            The “born alive” laws are an unwarranted intrusion into deeply personal medical decisions in tragic situations, and, no, no one is advocating “killing babies”. Sorry this is too complex for you to understand.

            1. Are you aware that these bills generally provide that a baby born alive after a botched abortion will receive the same care as any other baby born alive at the same stage of development, and that the baby be transported to a hospital? This obligation applies to medical personnel present when the would-be aborted child is born alive.

              So the medical staff at an abortion clinic, if the abortion is unsuccessful and the child is born alive, needs to provide the same care as a baby of the *same gestational age* who wasn’t subject to an attempted abortion – but once they get the child to a hospital that obligation ceases and the hospital is governed by other laws.

              Then they can breathe easily because once the baby is at the hospital the abortion personnel have no further responsibilities.

              At least this is so under the federal bill.

              1. And I note that there’s some tension, as I’ve noted above, between the talking-point that these bills simply duplicate existing law, and the talking point that these bills would intrude into deeply personal blah blah.

                If it duplicates existing law, then that would mean existing law *already* intrudes unjustly into deeply personal etc.

              2. “Then they can breathe easily because once the baby is at the hospital the abortion personnel have no further responsibilities.”

                Well, of course there are the reporting requirements, I suppose.

    3. “They are the ones using or advocating using force against women seeking abortions and abortion providers. ”

      Abortion is a violent act against an individual human.

      You have a point only if you utterly ignore what the pro-life side is arguing.

      1. Abortion is a violent act against an individual human.

        Among many other possible violent acts against a human, some of which are prohibited by law, and some of which are not, as I pointed out above. Simply screaming “ABORTION ENDS A HUMAN LIFE” does not settle the issue of whether abortion should be legal. There are many legal ways to end a human life. It seems some become absolutist about prohibiting the ending of a human life only when the life is a fetus.

  12. In Ireland it took the death of one women, Savita Halappanavar, to get the people to change the law and allow abortions. I often wonder how many women would have to die in America to get the same result?

    1. That depends. What color women?

      1. Irish law at the time allowed for abortion to save the life of the mother.
        The mother’s life was in danger.
        Due to medical incompetence, the hospital didn’t realize the danger to the mother’s life until it was too late.

        “On 19 April 2013, after seven days of evidence from 36 witnesses, Dr. Ciarán McLoughlin returned a verdict of medical misadventure in the case of Savita Halappanavar. He highlighted deficiencies in her care which included;

        “Blood tests indicating possible infection were not collected
        Savita’s pulse rate was elevated at 114 but the on-call doctor was not aware of this

        “Savita’s vital signs were not checked for more than nine hours, in breach of hospital guidelines

        “Although Savita’s pulse rises to 160, with a fever and a foul smelling discharge, the discharge was not relayed to Savita’s consultant”

        So, yes, let’s legalize abortions performed for any reason whatsoever!

        1. The easy response here is that this argument did not carry the day in Ireland. The death of Savita Halappanavar did move people to liberalize abortion laws in Ireland. I more interesting question is what caused this care. Were the treating staff fear of being questioned if they provided an abortion here. That fear lead to indecision and a needless death of a patient. This speaks to the need of the medical staff and the patient to make decisions and not the government.

          1. Given that Ireland has “universal health care”, the government is ALREADY making the decisions.

          2. The official investigations (and there were several) showed that the medical staff were *unaware until it was too late* that the patient had life-threatening complications – which is a circumstance when even under the laws of the time allowed for induced labor even if it killed the baby.

            The impression I got from the news coverage was that that Irish were angry at the corruption in the Catholic Church, so they expressed their perfectly justifiable indignation in an unjustifiable way – by taking out their indignation not on the Church but on innocent unborn babies.

      2. From Maternal and Neonatal Health and Abortion:
        40-Year Trends in Great Britain and Ireland
        Byron C. Calhoun, M.D., John M. Thorp, M.D., Patrick S. Carroll, M.A., in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 18 Number 2 Summer 2013

        “ABSTRACT

        “National data on maternal and neonatal health sequelae over more than 40 years of legal elective abortion in jurisdictions of Great Britain are compared with data from the abortion-averse jurisdictions of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Both Irish jurisdictions show more favorable data than the British. The Republic of Ireland has a maternal mortality rate over the last decade of 3/100,000 compared with about 6/100,000 in England and Wales; a stillbirth rate in 2010 of 3.8/1,000 live births compared 5.1/1,000 live births in Great Britain; and a preterm (< 37 weeks) birth rate in 2010 of 42.7/1,000 live births compared with 48/1,000 in England and Wales and 72/1,000 in Scotland. Legal elective abortion is associated with higher rates of maternal mortality rates, stillbirth rates, and preterm birth. Cerebral palsy rates in Northern Ireland, at a prevalence rate for birth years 1981-2007 of 2.3 per 1,000 live births (95% CI, 2.2-2.5), are low."

        1. Interesting paper, thanks for the citation. Reading the paper I noted that the authors in the conclusion did say they needed to do more study on the socioeconomics of women in the study. I be interested to see the results. I was a little confused that the authors mention Irish women getting abortions outside the country. Only the Netherlands and Scotland were mentioned. My understanding that Liverpool, England (across from Dublin) was the most common location for Irish women to get legal abortions. Like to see this explained. Finally this paper showed correlation but not necessarily cause. With Irish abortion law changed it would be good to reexamine the question with new data and see if the results have changed. This could support or reject the cause effect argument.

          1. “Finally this paper showed correlation but not necessarily cause. With Irish abortion law changed it would be good to reexamine the question with new data and see if the results have changed.”

            The paper seems to discredit the pro-choice talking point that “prolife laws are killing women.” If this were true, then Ireland (in its prolife days) would have a higher maternal mortality rate than “enlightened, prochoice” Great Britain.

            In other words, the failure of the evidence to match up to the pro-choice talking points is *already* a sufficient rebuttal to those talking points.

  13. Am I the only one who addresses the more fundamental Qs, “What’s wrong w killing something living?” & “What characteristics need a living thing have before we care?”

    In other news, who said compromise isn’t possible? Why not handle it like any other negotiation & meet in the middle? If someone wants an abortion, toss a coin for a 50-50 chance of its being allowed. Then the anti-abortionists are getting half the abortions the pros want, while the pros are losing only half the ones the antis want to take away.

      1. Well, wouldn’t politics be a lot simpler & less strife-riven by this method? In effect, the entire polity could be 2-Face. Actually the entire polity is 2-Face, but just doesn’t get to act on it like he does. Instead they struggle. Sometimes they even go to war!

  14. There is a bitter divide because the wrong side ignorantly denies the truth.

    A fetus is not like a “toenail”.

    A toenail does not meet the scientific criteria of life. A toenail does not have living unique DNA from the toe. It will not eventually be able to reproduce, healthy and left unmurdered.

    It is ignorant to call those you would murder a blob of cells, while denying the fact that you too are simply cells.

    The pro murder side does this. They must deny science to pretend that they have any argument at all.

    Does that sound like you?

    1. Sure, but lots of other things have a unique DNA complement & can reproduce.

      1. Yes and I can kill them to eat, for fertilizer or just for fun.

        You’re only protected by your unique HUMAN DNA, just like a fetus has.

        1. You’re only protected by your unique HUMAN DNA

          I’m eagerly awaiting your explanation for why “human DNA,” or the ability to reproduce, has any moral or ethical value whatsoever.

          When you say things like this, and insist that your opponents acknowledge “science,” while at the same time lazily deriving normative assertions from basic and trivial facts, you sound exactly like a toddler banging pots in the kitchen. You are wasting everyone’s time.

          1. Because humans are superior to plants and lower animal life forms.

            1. Damikesc, that kind of moral reasoning might have worked for Aristotle, but that was millennia ago.

              1. It is simple reality.

                Mankind is the only group capable of respecting the rights of others.

                You may lower yourself to being below animals, but I do not opt to go that route.

                1. Simon’s not even above a protozoa, much less a plant or animal.

                2. It is simple reality.

                  It must be nice, not being bothered by a concern for analytical precision or clarity. You just declare that your normative preferences are written right into the fabric of the universe. Bingo-bango-bongo!

                  Personally, I am able to notice that humanity’s mere capacity to reason – and it’s not even certain any more that humans are the only beings capable of moral reasoning – does not, in itself, entail any particular conclusion about their moral worth. More is required – a lot more – to connect that empirical fact with some kind of normative conclusion. As has been observed by countless philosophers since the dawn of ethics and philosophy itself.

                  I am not the one lowering myself here. You’re the one deriving your moral views from a kind of mindset befitting pre-civilization man.

          2. Humans make the rules. Nothing else can.

            To live in civilization we define human rights, like the right to life.

            The science demonstrates that a fetus is a living human being.

            The logic is that, as humans, they have the human right to life.

            As I said earlier it’s your ignorance that prevents you from simply admitting that you want the right to murder innocent defenceless babies.

            1. Humans make the rules. Nothing else can.

              True, but morally irrelevant.

              To live in civilization we define human rights, like the right to life.

              It’s amusing that you say we have to “define” these rights, but you don’t bother to do so.

              The science demonstrates that a fetus is a living human being.

              True, but morally irrelevant.

              The logic is that, as humans, they have the human right to life.

              So do mothers. And?

              As I said earlier it’s your ignorance that prevents you from simply admitting that you want the right to murder innocent defenceless babies.

              The only point I’m making is that we can’t analyze the issue without taking into account the fact that we also believe that humans – this is one of those essential “human rights” you referred to – generally have autonomy over their bodies. We don’t compel one another to donate organs, give blood, or otherwise sacrifice ourselves for others. Why does that analysis change, when we’re talking about “innocent defenceless babies”?

              1. Becoming pregnant is simply the result of having intercourse. It isn’t a violation of a woman’s right even if she didn’t want to be pregnant.

                Once pregnant, another human exists and the issue is no longer simply about the woman’s body alone.

                Killing the baby becomes murder.

                1. Becoming pregnant is simply the result of having intercourse.

                  True, but morally irrelevant.

                  It isn’t a violation of a woman’s right even if she didn’t want to be pregnant.

                  Nonsense statement.

                  Once pregnant, another human exists and the issue is no longer simply about the woman’s body alone.

                  I didn’t say it was, but the woman’s body doesn’t go away, nor does her right to bodily autonomy.

                  Killing the baby becomes murder.

                  False.

                  1. The woman has no right to murder the baby as she had no right not to become pregnant having performed intercourse.

                    The baby is an innocent human and has the right to live.

                  2. Does the fetus have a right to “bodily autonomy?” You completely dismiss its right to life but strenuously defend a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. Which is it?

  15. Women do have a choice.

    It is whether or not to participate in the only activity designed in nature to create new life.

    People should not have the right to murder helpless innocent people.

    Since when is being accountable for your actions unfair persecution?

    1. Since all progressives ever. (And really, since all humans ever.)

    2. Indeed.

      Name one person, just one, who said no and got pregnant anyway.

  16. “I believe in life, that’s why I support the civil rights of a six-week-old potential human over those of an actual woman. Because Jesus or feelings or something.”

    –Conservative Republican masquerading as a libertarian

  17. Comments are running out of steam here, but one more observation:

    Like every issue in our weaponized partisan politics, both sides see more value in not “solving” the abortion issue. We have the knowledge and technology to easily prevent almost all unintended pregnancies. But what fun would that be?

    1. Absolutely right. We have the technology, but do we deploy it. First we have to make sure that young people are aware of the option. You can not do that teaching abstinence only. Second we need to make sure that the technology readily available. You have to wonder where we would be if as much energy and resources were put into preventing pregnancies as is put into outlawing abortion. The fact that we don’t see this suggests that the goal here is not preventing abortion but rather controlling women by denying them reproductive freedom.

    2. “both sides”

      If you mean Republicans and Democrats, then of course prolifers are aware that Republicans are crooks and liars who would barbecue fetuses for breakfast if there were votes to be obtained in doing so – the only reason Republicans vote for prolife measures is because they know they’d be primaried (at the very least) if they didn’t.

      (I except from my criticism a few sincere Republican politicians who are genuinely prolife – such as Ron and Rand Paul)

      If you confuse prolifers with Republican politicians, I can only shake my head at such a curious confusion. The best analogy I can come up with is someone saying “libertarians don’t believe in liberty” and then pointing to the voting record of Republicans who claim to have libertarian positions.

  18. The rhetoric surrounding abortion in the U.S. is irredeemably fucked, so it’s next to impossible to have an appropriately precise discussion about the ethical considerations involved. But, rest assured, ethicists have been working on this question for some time, and have come to some helpful conclusions – if anyone cares to learn.

    The problem with the debate is that pro-lifers focus on only one moral dimension – i.e., the fetus as an object of moral concern. Similarly, pro-choicers tend to focus only on bodily autonomy, treating the question of a fetus’s moral value as irrelevant to the question. But, in truth, the question involves both moral considerations.

    To put it in terms that a libertarian might understand, the question of abortion is: “To what extent are we morally obligated – and appropriately legally obligated – to use our own bodies to sustain the life of another?” Thinking about how pregnancy does or doesn’t fit that description can help to illuminate one’s implicit biases. Most pro-lifers, for instance, view would-be mothers as morally obligated to carry fetuses to term precisely because they had sex. But why that makes any difference in the analysis is never explained. Pro-choicers take a more absolute stance on the question, and it should be clear to most libertarians why.

    1. It’s fucked because courts took a POLITICAL discussion and rendered it nullified because they said so.

      In a decision that, to be generous, was bullshit.

      1. This is what they’ve done with the Second Amendment, as well. Same problem?

        1. I can point to a specific amendment legalizing gun ownership and the SCOTUS has been remarkably unwilling to slap down infringements on Heller.

          They seem far less willing to allow infringements on a fictional right created out of thin air.

          1. I can point to a specific amendment legalizing gun ownership…

            You can’t, actually, because the Second Amendment doesn’t do this.

            My point, about the Second Amendment, is that the Court’s reasoning in Heller is comparable in many ways to its reasoning in Roe. People like to mock Roe‘s reliance on a “penumbra” of privacy rights that are reasonably implicit or explicit in several of the other amendments. Meanwhile, Heller, in a lengthy, circuitous opinion, derives an individual right to bear arms from a natural-law theory of rights that is taken to be reasonably implicit in Heller express guarantee. Similarly, while Roe arbitrarily invented a trimester-to-trimester approach to deciding when and whether the state interest in “unborn life” outweighed a woman’s right to decide what to do with her body, Heller discovers strange carve-outs to the “natural right to self-defense” undergirding the right to bear arms, which still somehow permit gun licensing, prohibitions on certain types of weapons, felon weapon possession, and so on.

            You should go back and read Miller, the case that Scalia had to distinguish in order to hold as he did in Heller. In comparison, its reasoning seems simple, straightforward, and clearly correct.

    2. If you let a baby die of starvation or exposure because you can’t be bothered to make any effort, you will be charged and convicted of murder.

      Caring for the living human baby is your legal responsibility whether you want to or not. Get over it.

      Logically the responsibility begins when the baby is created at conception. Anything else is simply a criminal excuse to murder.

      1. Caring for the living human baby is your legal responsibility [and]
        Logically the responsibility begins when the baby is created at conception.

        This is incorrect. Legal responsibility does not begin at conception, and it does not follow, from the fact that legal responsibility attaches at birth, that some form of responsibility extends through the gestational period. Certainly, you’ve provided no discernible rationale for thinking that it does.

        Taken at face value, your assertion here would lead to all kinds of absurdities. What legal responsibility would parents have, for instance, for frozen embryos? Or a mother for failing to get “legally sufficient” prenatal care? Does every miscarriage get reported to the police, and flushing a half-formed, deceased fetus constitute the “destruction of evidence?”

        1. Women who have miscarriages can be devastated, because they know they’ve lost a child.

          Show some respect.

          1. You don’t seem to be familiar with the way that overzealous prosecutors have attacked women for having miscarriages in states with fetal protection bills on the books.

            Not that your ignorance is surprising.

            1. Some murdering cunts do try to induce a miscarriage.

  19. “If you believe a fetus (or “pregnancy tissue,” as some of the clinic personnel call it) is just an undifferentiated appendage like a tonsil or an appendix, then why should anybody else have any say about what you do with or to it?

    And if you think it’s a tiny person with a small heart but a full-sized soul—the Darby pro-lifers are virtually all devout Catholics—how could you ever countenance what happens to it inside an abortion clinic?”

    What if you believe that the issue isn’t personhood at all but consent?

    What if you believe that the mother consents to carry the child when she willingly engages in activity that might lead to the creation of a child–just like the father consents to help provide for that child when he willingly engages in the same activity?

    What if you believe that the legitimate purpose of government is to protect our rights, and while protecting those rights may extend to a fetus–just like they would someone who is mentally handicapped–the government is also obligated to protect the rights of mothers who don’t want to carry their baby to term. Should the government protect the rights of fetuses by incarcerating pregnant women who don’t want their babies?

    What if you believe that the consent aspect (agency) drives the morality of abortion–but not necessarily the legality? There are plenty of things that are unethical but should be perfectly legal.

    Focusing on the personhood of the fetus is a mistake at best and a red herring at worst. Libertarian ethics and legal thought is all about agency. The question is whether the mother consented to the act that created the fetus and whether that obligation can be enforced by government without violating anyone’s rights.

    P.S. Elective abortion is immoral, but it should be legal.

    1. “Focusing on the personhood of the fetus is a mistake at best and a red herring at worst.”

      Really? If personhood were established (or to put it another way, if we can’t think of a convincing rationale for denying personhood to living human beings simply because they’re in an earlier stage of development than those who are admittedly persons), then we get to ask what limits there on the right to take actions which would cause the death of these persons.

      If a boat full of *born* persons is sinking and the people on board are in danger of drowning, they can tie up on your private dock, subject to the requirement of paying damages for damage to the dock.

      It’s simply a case of two rights recognized by libertarians – life and property – being adjusted.

      So if you’re literally attached to another human being such that unattaching the person will kill him/her, but your life is not in danger and you can expel the person after 9 months, then the interests of life and liberty are fairly easily adjusted – you can end the attachment by waiting a reasonable time.

      And when we get the Aldous Huxley-style artificial wombs, then even the 9-month waiting period can be shortened.

      1. We give people a pass on murder if the homicide was perpetrated in self-defense. The question isn’t whether the person you shot was a real person. Self-defense is all about whether the shooter really had a choice. Again, both the ethics and the law rests on agency–not personhood.

        Yes, the person you killed was a person. Personhood is not the issue. Consent, obligation, and agency is the issue. You’re obligated not to shoot people–unless you don’t have a choice. It’s about choice. Not personhood.

        Women willingly accept the responsibility for their actions when they willingly engage in them. When I drive down the street, I willingly accept the responsibility for any damage I may do with my vehicle–even if I do so accidentally. Men also accept the responsibility for the results of the actions they take willingly. If you engage in behavior that may result in the creation of a child, you have accepted responsibility for that choice. The government may even correctly enforce that obligation–because you willingly engaged in that activity, you willingly accepted the responsibility.

        Morally, it is no different for women. The only outstanding question is one of law. Can the government force women to carry a child to labor against their will without violating their rights? I don’t think so. That question doesn’t have anything to do with the personhood of the fetus either. The government also doesn’t have any business forcing people to stay married against their will–regardless of whether adultery is immoral and regardless of whether your spouse is a real person.

        Don’t be distracted by red herrings.

        1. You have to ignorantly ignore the point to pretend that you have an argument.

          The humanity of the fetus isn’t a red herring. It’s the point that affords them the right to live.

          Recognize their humanity AND try to justify abortion.

          1. Pretend to have an argument?

            You think the observation that people are responsible for what they willingly choose to do is a pretend argument?

            You think that the link between agency and ethics is a pretend argument?

            I think some people have become so wrapped up in questions of personhood (and aesthetics) that it’s embarrassing when they realize their whole perspective is driven by red herrings.

            Again, there can be no morality without agency. Morality without agency is impossible because morality is all about what we should choose. If your position on the morality of abortion is driven exclusively by your notion of personhood at the expense of agency, then you’re the one who’s pretending to have an argument about ethics. And because your delusion is both popular and common doesn’t make it any less delusional.

            1. Incidentally, rape victims should never be forced to carry a baby to term against their will–because they didn’t have a choice. They did not willingly choose to engage in activity that might create a child, so they did not willingly take on that legal or moral obligation.

              Incidentally, people should never be convicted of murder when they killed someone in self-defense. The reason has nothing to do with the personhood of the deceased and everything to do with the fact that when you kill someone in self-defense, you don’t really have a choice.

              If mothers have any kind of special responsibility to their fetus, it’s still a responsibility that can only be taken on willingly by freely choosing to engage in activity that might create a child–popular red herrings about personhood notwithstanding.

              1. My argument against abortion is not refuted by the concept of agency.

                But your argument for abortion is refuted by the baby’s humanity.

                You can’t recognize the baby’s humanity and justify abortion.

                The logical conclusion is that you just can’t justify abortion.

    2. Your confusion is derived from a basic logical error.

      The link between legality-justice-truth-morality-ethics cannot rationally be broken.

      Doing so initiates corruption.

      Recognizing the humanity, personhood, of the fetus is required to afford them human rights.

      Denying humanity and rights is the basis of every genocide and people can be very creative in doing so.

      You are failing to excuse genocide.

      1. The difference between morality and ethics is plain. If you can’t see that just because cheating on your spouse is immoral, that means people should be criminally prosecuted for it, then you’re off your rocker. There is a philosophy that holds that the law and morality are the same–it’s called “totalitarianism”. I’m a libertarian.

        Meanwhile, because agency is the central issue in abortion (rather than personhood), that doesn’t forgive anything about genocide. Genocide (like murder, theft, rape, and everything else) is wrong because people choose to violate the rights of others. The evil is in the choice. Inanimate objects can’t behave immorally because they can’t make choices. Morality is the ability to choose to do other than what was done. Right or wrong is in your ability to make choices. Genocide is a choice to do wrong.

        1. What is the difference between ethics and morality?

          Here is the definition of ethics.

          2. ethics(used with a sing. verb) The study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person; moral philosophy.

          As for the rest of your drivel…why bother?

          1. “The difference between morality [legality] and ethics is plain.

            It was a typo. The rest of what I wrote should have made that clear.

            “The link between legality-justice-truth-morality-ethics cannot rationally be broken.

            That’s what you wrote. If there’s a link between legality and ethics, it’s all about agency. We are both morally and legally obligated to respect the rights of others. Rights are the obligation to respect other people’s agency.

            That does not mean that everything government makes illegal is somehow immoral, or that everything that is immoral should be criminal. There are times when enforcing laws against legitimately immoral behavior can’t be done without infringing on people’s rights–with adultery and perhaps abortion being excellent examples. Forcing people to stay married and cohabitate because adultery is immoral is government overstepping its bounds–even if adultery is immoral–and incarcerating women to force them to carry babies to term against their will, likewise, would be too intrusive of government–even if the government has a legitimate obligation to protect the rights of an unborn fetus.

            That legality and ethics are somehow the same and can’t be broken apart is ridiculous. And that isn’t even getting into the Locke and MLK’s arguments about how sometimes breaking the law is the perfectly moral thing to do.

            1. Don’t blame me for your typo.

              I said that when the link between legality and ethics is broken, corruption is initiated.

              There is no unethical but “just” law.

              There is plenty of corruption in our legal system, abortion for example.

              Rights cannot conflict with each other and agency cannot conflict with rights without corruption.

              A woman may have the agency to murder anyone but never the right. Self defence is a different issue entirely.

  20. If the sides have become farther apart, it’s entirely on the pro-abortion side that the division is widening. Pro-Lifers have stood firm on “Abortion is murder” since the day after Roe v. Wade. Pro-abortion supporters have gone from “Safe, legal and rare” to supporting killing newly-born babies.

  21. “View the full program (53 minutes) divided into consecutive chapters. You’ll need Windows Media or RealPlayer to watch.”

    Welcome to 2003

  22. If I invite you onto my boat and go 100 miles out into the ocean, do I owe you a safe trip back or not?

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