Effect Measure

Thinking about abortion

I am pro-abortion. Not in the sense that I think abortions are good. I don’t. In the sense that I am pro-surgery for medical conditions that can be surgically treated, or pro-pharmaceuticals for medical conditions that can be treated with drugs. I consider an unwanted fertilization to be a medical condition with significant consequences that can be treated. Now that I have gotten that out of the way I hope I can be free to state some ambivalence later about some other matters related to the anti-abortion movement.

But no ambivalence about a woman’s ability to get an abortion. Roe v. Wade was 37 years ago, but I was already a doctor by then and had seen the usual consequences of making abortion illegal. On the one hand, because I did service to people without medical care I remember the middle of the night excursions to the emergency room to meet some young woman being seen for hemorrhaging from a botched back alley abortion. Those were off hours. In the on-hours in the big city tertiary care hospital I saw plenty of legal abortions, although they were called something different (“D&Cs”) and available to women or couples with enough money. There were plenty of unwanted pregnancies in those days, even more than now, because in many places birth control was still illegal. The pill was newly available and only starting to come into widespread use. It was a different world before Roe. v. Wade and not different in a good way. If you are a woman under the age of 50-something it would be hard to imagine how different it was. That’s why when I see crap like this coming from Nebraska it makes me crazy:

Nebraska could become the first state to require doctors to screen women for possible mental and physical problems before performing abortions under a bill that received final approval from the nonpartisan Legislature on Monday.

Republican Gov. Dave Heineman’s office said Monday he will sign the bill Tuesday, along with another groundbreaking abortion measure lawmakers are expected to pass then. That bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks based on the assertion that fetuses feel pain.

[snip]

The bill requires a doctor or other health professional to screen women to determine whether they were pressured into having abortions. Doctors also must assess whether women have risk factors that could lead to mental or physical problems after an abortion.

The bill is unusual, however, in spelling out what doctors must look for. They include any risk factors cited in peer-reviewed journals indexed by two major medical and scientific listing services during the year before a planned abortion. The risks could be “physical, psychological, emotional, demographic, or situational,” according to the bill. (Nate Jenkins, AP via Boston Globe)

As medical opponents noted, it’s pretty hard for a doctor to know if he or she has complied this law. There is all sorts of stuff in the literature that may or may not bear on risk factors for any surgical procedure. Most of it probably has significant flaws that make it uncertain whether something is truly a risk factor. Doctors aren’t scientists and they don’t understand the subtleties of scientific method. Nor do they spend a great deal of time reading the literature. They know the highlights, which is good, because those are the things more likely to pass through the filter of uncertain and discordant results. But there is no way they can know all the validly established risk factors in an unspecified literature (while the indexes are stipulated in the law, the search terms are not) up to the day of the patient’s treatment. This incredibly stupid and obtuse law isn’t meant to work, however. It is meant to scare doctors from treating patients in a way decided by the patient and her doctor as medically indicated. It is the grossest kind of interference in the doctor patient relationship and if we wanted a poster child for government getting between a doctor and patient, this is it.

The scare tactic will be extremely effective, given the penalty. What scares a doctor more than losing a medical license? Losing a medical license isn’t likely and isn’t a penalty prescribed by this law. The penalty is something that scares doctors even more because it happens all the time: the threat of being sued. Under this law a doctor can be sued if he or she doesn’t screen for a risk factor and something happens. The nature of the thing that happens can be “physical, psychological, emotional, demographic, or situational.” While a suit isn’t likely to succeed on its merits, this is a recipe for the kind of frivolous or mischievous politically-inspired lawsuit so decried by the right wing — unless it relates to abortion, obviously.

Now, regarding my ambivalence about the anti-abortion movement. The weird fact is that the same things that make me so pro-abortion — empathy for the patient — also forces me to identify with the intense commitment of the anti-abortion movement. I had and still have the same feeling about war, and I committed civil disobedience and was briefly jailed and was willing to go into exile over it. I never assaulted anyone or got in the face of a young soldier or called anyone names, although it is often repeated there were those that did. I saw it very, very rarely and the civil disobedience was passive and aimed at shutting down recruiting stations and draft offices or general demonstrations, not aimed at individuals. But the intense commitment was there and I recognize it in the anti-abortion movement. So I always feel some ambivalence and there is an element of recognition.

But there are differences, too, and it relates to the empathy question. I don’t know if empathy is a learned skill or a matter of natural temperament or both. But I don’t see much empathy in the anti-abortion movement. Bart Stupak, for example. He represented a very conservative district but took a tough stand against guns and a lot of NRA heat for it. The reason was personal, however. His son committed suicide with a handgun, so he knew without having to conjure it up in his mind the devastation firearms can bring. But he never was in the shoes of a scared and young woman who has to run a gauntlet of vicious taunts at an abortion clinic, so apparently he wasn’t able to imagine it. Worse, he made common cause with the far right and came close to scuttling any kind of health insurance reform and undoubtedly playing a part in producing the pallid version we wound up with. Mrs. R. is a gentle soul, but her comment on Stupak was: I wish he would be raped and get pregnant. That’s the only cure for a lack of empathy. Now his former friend have hounded him out of office and he is retiring. He’s run their vicious gauntlet and I guess he doesn’t like it.

The freedom to live a life without untreated medical conditions is now portrayed as bondage to government run health care while at the same time forcibly promoting the most intrusive kind of government interference in the doctor patient relationship imaginable is said to protect the helpless. We breezed through 1984 with hardly a notice, but it seems the idea that Freedom is Slavery is finding new life. That’s what pro-life means these days.

Comments

  1. #1 bob koepp
    April 14, 2010

    I, too, am pro-abortion in the sense that I think a decision about whether to terminate a pregnancy should be a matter that is strictly between a woman and her conscience. However, I don’t agree that simply in virtue of being unwanted a pregnancy becomes a “medical condition,” if by that label you mean it is a medical pathology. A glance at standard medical nosologies confirms me in that opinion.

  2. #2 Nomen Nescio
    April 14, 2010

    That bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks based on the assertion that fetuses feel pain.

    does it also ban slaughterhouses? because if not, Peter Singer is mumbling cusswords at Nebraska under his breath right now.

  3. #3 Granny Sue
    April 14, 2010

    Sorry, members of the KKK might have strong commitment. A woman has the right to choose.

  4. #4 vera
    April 14, 2010

    I support the woman’s choice in the first half of pregnancy. I support protection of the fetus in the second half. There is no effing need for elective abortions late in pregnancy. Just plain grisly and awful… IMO.

  5. #5 Electric Landlady
    April 14, 2010

    I’ve never had an abortion and, thankfully, have never been in a position where I might need one. But damn I’m glad the option is there if I need it, and for all the women who do need it.

    I’m sure plenty of anti-abortion protesters sincerely believe what they’re saying. And I do get the squickiness that surrounds late-term abortion. But as soon as governments or private citizens start saying “you can have an abortion under circumstances A, B, and C but not X, Y, and Z” it’s an intrusion. Abortion is a decision for a woman and her doctor to make, and in the vast, overwhelming majority of cases it isn’t made lightly, and it is none of my business or anyone else’s. Period.

    /soapbox

    In other words: well said.

  6. #6 revere
    April 14, 2010

    bob: without debating the issue of medicalization of pregnancy, it is a condition for which medical treatment is indicated. Lots of things doctors do aren’t for pathology, but for prevention, elective (cosmetic surgery) or comfort. The baseline question, then, is who decides about the medical treatment.

    vera: there are very few elective later term abortions. The ones that are done are for good reasons involving the health of the mother. That’s a question the legislature shouldn’t be getting into. Better to leave it alone as a private decision made in consultation with or at the recommendation of a doctor without having a religiously motivated legislator involved. Medicine is full of grisly and awful things. Some people find blood grisly and awful. Should we not allow surgery because it bothers some people?

  7. #7 bob koepp
    April 14, 2010

    Electric Landlady -
    First, as fervent believer in the semi-divinity of Jimi, I love your tag…

    Now, I don’t think that a woman’s doctor should have any say about an “elective” abortion (i.e., an abortion that is not medically indicated), unless s/he is the one who’s going to be doing the actual procedure — that’s why I said the decision should be between a woman and her conscience. I hope I live long enough to see safe, effective over-the-couonter abortifacients that will expand access for women seeking abortions and get the medical profession out of the way. This is part and parcel of my long and lonely campaign against the medicalization of reproductive decisions.

  8. #8 bob koepp
    April 14, 2010

    revere – Ah, but debating the issue of the medicalization of pegnancy, and what it means to say that a procedure is a “medical treatment” (therapy?) is “indicated” is exactly what’s needed.

  9. #9 Anon
    April 14, 2010

    In response to #4…actually, there is a need. In fact, most late term abortions occur because there is something horribly wrong with the fetus (and it is not likely to ‘live’ much longer anyway) and trying to carry it to term could quite possibly put the mother in danger.

  10. #10 Ed Whitney
    April 14, 2010

    Fishing again for informed comment: In 1973 a guy in my Army unit was trying to come up with $200 for a first trimester abortion for a girl he had knocked up. I had read recently that the cost for a first trimester abortion now was about $450.

    Question: does anyone happen to know of good data on the trends in costs of first trimester abortions, compared to other procedures? It seems that it may not have kept pace with the inflation for surgical procedures in other specialties. If it has not, that might require some informed interpretation.

  11. #11 Birger Johansson
    April 14, 2010

    Comment # 9 “In response to #4…actually, there is a need. In fact, most late term abortions occur because there is something horribly wrong with the fetus (and it is not likely to ‘live’ much longer anyway) and trying to carry it to term could quite possibly put the mother in danger.”

    Yes, ultra-sound is not very effective at discovering problems early, due to the poor resolution. The abortion doctor that was murdered recently would normally perform abortions of fetuses that turn out to have the brain outside the cranium, or some other very severe malformity that at most would allow them to live a few hours after delivery.

    There are some recent news about “metamaterials” that might permit a massive improvement of ultrasound resolution. It might take a decade, but very late-term abortions could soon become very rare. Ironically, this welcome development is the result of “science”, the very concept that some activists distrust so much.

  12. #12 AMH in Ohio
    April 14, 2010

    It looks like we are just one step away from complete genetic testing before giving birth. Kind of a scary trend for better or worse.

  13. #13 two cents
    April 14, 2010

    This is to Vera (and anyone else) who can’t imagine why anyone would need a late term abortion.

    Abortion, certainly in abortion clinics, is rarely performed under general anesthesia, which is the only form of pain relief adequate for this very painful procedure. It also poses some health risks, although they are MUCH smaller than those posed by carrying a pregnancy to term and giving birth. Both the pain and the risks involved increase as the pregnancy term increases (and this fact is communicated by doctors to their patients seeking an abortion). As if that disinsentive wasn’t enough, late term abortions (second trimester and up) are much harder to obtain and often require travel and increased expense.

    Consequently, late term abortions are actually VERY rare. Almost without exception they happen because of dire medical need: either because the mother’s life and health will be endangered by continuing with the pregnancy, or because it has become clear that the fetus is developing abnormally and will be born with physical and/or mental defects. In all cases, late term abortion is no walk in the park and is never undertaken lightly. You shouldn’t condemn other people’s choices because of ignorance or failure of imagination.

  14. #14 Vicki
    April 14, 2010

    A friend of mine who volunteers as a clinic escort argues that the opposition to late-term abortion is the strongest evidence that the anti-abortion movement lacks empathy, and that many people in it are concerned more with punishing women for having sex than with protecting the fetus. A woman who decides to have an abortion at 10 weeks pregnant may have a number of reasons: but the odds are good that if she decided to carry the fetus to term, she would end up with a healthy baby. (Not guaranteed: women have early abortions for their own health, or because they know the fetus isn’t viable, even that early. But fairly good.) A woman who is having an abortion at seven months is usually either mourning a wanted child that cannot live (as you note) or deciding that it isn’t worth giving her own life so the fetus may have a chance of survival. That’s not going to be easy, even without strangers telling her that she should have chosen to die in order to possibly leave an orphan in the world, or a grieving partner to raise the child alone.

    I think I could abort an unwanted pregnancy without much stress; I don’t think a woman who wanted a child is going to abort that wanted pregnancy at six or seven months casually or without grief.

    And that grief will not be lessened by forcing her to carry a doomed or already-dead fetus in her body for another several weeks.

  15. #15 gl
    April 14, 2010

    Pro life people oppose abortion because they believe a fetus is the same as a baby. They are both a human life. They have empathy for both the life inside the womb and outside the womb, whereas pro-abortion people do not appear to have any empathy for the life inside the womb. (anecdotal stories about Bart Stupak notwithstanding – whose pro life credentials are not necessarily rock solid)

  16. #16 Anon
    April 14, 2010

    As others have stated, a woman who is having a late term abortion is likely doing so for a *wanted* pregnancy. A pregnancy which has gone wrong in a way that the mother herself has quite possibly never imagined and one which she is devastated to terminate.

    The bigger issue is that it is likely the anti-abortionists know this, realize it, and yet are using the ignorance of the masses of this fact to merely open the door to making ALL abortions illegal.

  17. #17 gl
    April 14, 2010

    Right. I’m sure that’s it.

    In the same manner that all pro-abortionists continue using anecdotal cases (e.g. rape and incest) to push for making ALL abortions legal.

  18. #18 Dylan
    April 14, 2010

    “They have empathy for both the life inside the womb and outside the womb,…” gl

    Just so long as it is not engaged in a surreptitious (in or out of the womb) attempt to illegally cross the US/Mexican border. We already have enough Catholics, obviously. Even the Pope is aware that his priests, bishops, etc., are now having a very difficult time molesting all of those that managed to migrate from the womb to the confessional.

  19. #19 Rob Monkey
    April 14, 2010

    gl, oversimplify much? Yeah, those right-wing anti-choicers have so much empathy for life outside the womb, with their voting for the death penalty and persistent war. Pfft, give me a fucking break. A full third of the voluntary abortions in the US are due to the mother lacking the money to pay for the child. You’d think anti-choicers might want to actually have a decent welfare system out there, seeing as how they could eliminate 1/3 of all abortions by simply assuring a pregnant woman that at no point will her child be starving because her job doesn’t pay enough. But no, let’s instead encourage abstinence-only sex ed in schools, THAT’LL solve our unwanted pregnancy problem! The main reason I’m opposed to the anti-choice movement isn’t even a concern for women’s rights anymore, it’s a concern for basic fucking logic. I’d be willing to take a large bet that if we mandated quality sex ed in every public school, subsidized birth control a bit so younger and poorer individuals could afford it more easily, and made sure that insurance covered birth control, we could reduce the total number of abortions by an order of magnitude more than any amount of right-wing theocratic policies.

  20. #20 vera
    April 14, 2010

    Folks, you are not paying attention. I said *elective” late abortions. As opposed to medically necessary. Last I checked into this, most late term abortions were done on medicaid women who, oops, just did not get their act together in time. And some of the pro-choice activists lied about it. This was early 90s, maybe things have changed since then? But if they have, they have changed in part because of the pro-lifers… and culture change. I am grateful to those who have protested on behalf of the late term fetuses. They are not really very different from a term baby, are they?

    It seems to me that the intransigence of pro-choice people regarding elective late term abortions has to do more with politics than with ethics and humane considerations. Perhaps if this intransigence was let up on, the other side would be more flexible on the early procedures.

  21. #21 NJ
    April 14, 2010

    the other side would be more flexible

    This would be the other side that has their sights on Griswold after overturning Roe? The other side that has worked to ban same-sex marriage? The other side that promotes creationism?

    That “flexible” other side, Vera?

  22. #22 Rob Monkey
    April 14, 2010

    vera, do you have any sort of reference for your idea? Honestly, I’ve never bought into this “women who didn’t get their act together in time” line, and until you provide some sort of citation I’ll continue to think it’s standard blame-the-victim-and-make-shit-up-about-poor-people that’s been right-wing boilerplate for decades. Why exactly did these women undergo morning sickness, gaining a bunch of weight, cramps, etc., etc. if they weren’t going to keep the baby? Because they’re lazy? Seriously, you believe this? “Well I got knocked up, but I think I’ll just put this off for six months till everyone knows I’m pregnant, and in the meantime just ignore all the symptoms of pregnancy cause they’re so easy to just forget about. Oh, and I’m sure I won’t mind paying more for the abortion and undergoing more risk, cause I’m just that lazy.” Come ON, you really think that was happening all over the place? Again, citation please, or just an acknowledgement that you’re talking out your ass.

  23. #23 vera
    April 14, 2010

    Oh and gl, don’t let them intimidate you. I for one welcome your input and your views, and what you say has nothing to do with any of the other issues that Monkey and others raise. Staying on topic may be threatening to those who want to just foam at the mouth. ;)

  24. #24 vera
    April 14, 2010

    Monkey: I generally avoid discussions with people who reach for rudeness instead of argument. Feel free to do a google search for the stories. It was quite a scandal. My guess is 1992 or thereabouts, and if I remember correctly, the agency that lied was in NJ.

    NJ: I actually made it my business to reach out in the 90s to a pro-life organizer in NJ and found her to be quite open to dialogue and my ideas. So, yeah, that same side is not made of evil caricatures, but real people with real concerns. Who gains if we all just keep on fighting with each other over time? We bicker about “issues” while the kleptocrats run off with the store. I am sick of it.

  25. #25 claudia
    April 14, 2010

    As someone who had to have a late-term abortion at six months (this term also applies to induced births of deceased babies, many people forget that) — Vera, sometimes needs arise, and you just can’t do anything about it. Sometimes life just sucks, and your baby died, but your body would just rather kill itself than giving up on the decaying baby inside you. Then you need doctors, and you need intervention, and thanks to Bart Stupak your health insurance won’t pay for this, so not only do you not have a baby, and are hospitalized for days, and have to give birth to a dead baby and undergo surgery — no, you also endanger your other kids but having to shell out loads of money that you could use for, you know, FOOD.

    Sorry for being a bit, um, in your face. Pushed a button.

    I’m with Mrs. Revere on this point, firmly.

  26. #26 Anon
    April 14, 2010

    Vera, please understand that I am not attacking you. However, I do not think you understand that there is no such thing as a ‘medically necessary’ abortion. ALL abortion is elective. If you are 30 weeks pregnant and told by your doctor that you may not survive giving birth to your child, you still have the *choice* to terminate the pregnancy or to try and have that child. That’s the beauty of choice. You can decide for yourself.

  27. #27 vera
    April 14, 2010

    Claudia, not a problem, I don’t feel you were in my face. :-) I am pretty sure that dead fetuses fall under “medically necessary” abortions, no?

    I am so sorry to hear you had to go through such an awful time and lost the little one. And of course I think insurance should pay for all medically indicated procedures.

  28. #28 Rob Monkey
    April 14, 2010

    I’ll gladly point out that I was not ONLY rude, but also had arguments, which you didn’t answer at all. Seriously, take your butthurt somewhere else, and I’m still waiting for the citation. Basically what you said to look for was one agency that misreported the number of late-term abortions that were done by choice? Or perhaps activists didn’t tell the truth about something? Sorry, I thought you were actually referring to something significant, like actual high rates of late-term by-choice abortions, but instead you have a vague recollection of a story about one agency that might have done something wrong. Do I agree with you that if this happened it was wrong? Yes. Does it logically follow that there is an actual high rate of late-term by-choice abortions? No. So why should we base an overarching social policy on it? Again, if this were more than the one case you’re recalling, if there was actual evidence that this was happening, I’d agree that something need be done. Perhaps we should have strict penalties for misreporting medical stats? Fine by me, better stats=better science, but I don’t see how this makes for a real abortion policy.

  29. #29 gl
    April 14, 2010

    Vera – thanks.

    Rob Monkey – oversimplify? maybe, but these discussions usually have lots of overgeneralizations and lots of tangents, as you can see. So I was trying to stay focused.

    Claudia – My condolences. As someone who is pro-life – I would hope that they would change the terminology for your situation – I would certainly hope that would be something your insurance company would help with.

  30. #30 vera
    April 14, 2010

    Sorry anon, but that is philosophy, not reality. There are many doctors offices that perform medically necessary abortions, and say so. These are procedures where the doctor recommends it on medical grounds. There are only few now that do late electives, simply because the woman requests it. Used to be more common before all the brouhaha.

  31. #31 vera
    April 14, 2010

    Monkey: You want me to do the work for you, and to engage you on the substantives? Then be civil. The story was in covering up what I said: that most of the late term abortions were then medicaid electives. You keep being rude, and I will have nothing else to say to you.

  32. #32 Anon
    April 14, 2010

    Vera, you don’t understand what i am saying. I am saying that nobody will strap you down and force you to have an abortion- no matter how detrimental it is to you or to the child if you don’t have one. However, by passing a law that bans late term abortions (what, are these laws going to enumerate every single case where it is considered ‘okay’??? and who decides on a case-by-case basis exactly?), that is effectively what you are doing – taking away the right to choose.

  33. #33 vera
    April 14, 2010

    Anon: Would I take away the “right to choose” from a woman who wants to kill the baby at 7 months? Yes, I would. For the pretty much the same reason that the “right to choose” to kill a newborn is taken away from her by law.

    Can you tell me why you think that killing a 7 month fetus should be optional while killing a 9 month old “fetus” just out, should not be?

  34. #34 Granny Sue
    April 14, 2010

    gl:
    My empathy is for the life that IS the womb.

  35. #35 Rob Monkey
    April 14, 2010

    “The story was in covering up what I said: that most of the late term abortions were then medicaid electives.” And you have yet to provide even the slightest bit of proof for it! Not only do you not have even a real reference for this story, but as I pointed out in my last post, what would it matter? Try to understand things from my perspective: imagine I start telling you about the doctor-killer in Kansas, and using him as an example of all anti-choice people. Unfair, right? Not a good example, nor relevant to the issue at hand, correct? That’s what your story is. It doesn’t seem at all relevant to the issue at hand, rather it seems to be nothing more than a distraction. Not to mention the fact that we’ve yet to see a reference, by now I’d just be content to have you understand why it’s irrelevant even if the story is true. Now if you could actually show something that indicated that actual large amounts of medicaid patients did this, that would be interesting. One clinic, in story sans reference, it’s hardly the same thing. I’m trying an experiment here, if I do a comment without rudeness, will you answer the substance of my argument?

  36. #36 vera
    April 14, 2010

    It will be my pleasure. Am off to fish for it.

  37. #37 NJ
    April 14, 2010

    that same side is not made of evil caricatures, but real people with real concerns.

    And none of the items I listed were caricatures in any way shape or form, Vera. You have fallen (hard) for the fallacy that there is a middle ground that is acceptable to all sides in any issue. But there is no compromise possible with people who want to replace the teaching of evolution with creationism. Or who want to completely prohibit same-sex marriage or contraception or any form of abortion.

    Read Roe. It was a compromise, based on trimesters. Those opposed to it have continually pushed against it, trying to shift the middle ground closer and closer to their position until middle ground is their position.

    Your anecdotal experience with one protester is trumped by that simple reality.

  38. #38 vera
    April 14, 2010

    NJ, I have no idea what that woman believed about evolution, and, gosh, it did not seem relevant. That you seem to think it does, results in caricature of actual human beings. IMO, of course. Are you now suspecting me of being a creationist because I am opposed to late abortions? Silliness…

    Monkey, unfortunately, the article that broke the story, is no longer available online from Bergen Record, at least I can’t find it. I am sure your library could get it for you. Fitzsimmons (quote below) I believe was the guy who was caught lying, but the problem was endemic. (There are later stories about Dr. Teller lying in court about the high number of electives performed there, and other stories about how unreliable the reported stats are.)

    Here are some links referring to the story:

    http://realchoice.0catch.com/library/weekly/aa080700a.htm

    Padawer, Ruth, “The facts on partial-birth abortion: Both sides have misled the public.” Bergen Record, September 15, 1996.

    http://www.aim.org/aim-column/losing-the-pro-abortion-media-bias/

    “The pro-choice movement has lost a lot of credibility during this debate, not just with the general public, but with our pro-choice friends in Congress…. Even the White House is now questioning the accuracy of some of the information given to it on this issue.”

    – Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers

  39. #39 Katharine
    April 14, 2010

    I wonder if gl thinks a blastocyst is a baby.

  40. #40 Katharine
    April 14, 2010

    I also find it funny that so many anti-choicers (pro-life they aren’t; they’re all about the fetus while neglecting the woman and neglecting anyone who’s already been born) are also anti-contraception. It would make sense for them to support contraception, but for some reason, usually weird-ass religious or cultural ones, they don’t.

  41. #41 Katharine
    April 14, 2010

    “Last I checked into this, most late term abortions were done on medicaid women who, oops, just did not get their act together in time.”

    Perhaps it was not so much ‘did not get their act together in time’ as ‘didn’t save up enough money in time’.

  42. #42 Katharine
    April 14, 2010

    “Pro life people oppose abortion because they believe a fetus is the same as a baby. They are both a human life. They have empathy for both the life inside the womb and outside the womb, whereas pro-abortion people do not appear to have any empathy for the life inside the womb.”

    As a pro-choice person (‘pro-abortion’ being your side’s rather nasty misnomer; we support the right of a person to be able to choose whether to abort or carry to term), I think you’re pretty wrong here.

    As I understand it, a fetus is not the same as a baby; legally, it’s not a baby ’til it’s born, and would you say the same thing about a blastocyst? And indeed, it is indeed a human life, but here’s the thing: it is not a separate one. It is dependent and actually parasitic on the woman (oh yes, I am willing to get into a developmental biology and reproductive biology debate). Also, I don’t think anti-choicers have empathy for the life in the womb; they certainly don’t care about whether it’s born into an environment that wants it, whether it’s going to be well-fed, whether it’s going to be educated; no, they just care that the damn thing is born and that its mother is barefoot and pregnant, and a substantial portion of them don’t like birth control to prevent this condition, either. Clearly you have no empathy for the life that owns the womb; you don’t have any empathy for the woman who does not want a child because she cannot afford it or because she in good conscience is not going to destroy a child’s psyche by burdening it with a mother that does not want it.

  43. #43 Katharine
    April 14, 2010

    One thing I have always found hilariously funny is the huge number of anti-choicers who rail against abortion until they have an unplanned pregnancy and suddenly decide they’re going to get one.

  44. #44 Katharine
    April 14, 2010

    Also, I do not have words for how sickening it is when they put women on a pedestal who die in childbirth because they didn’t abort when they knew their baby would kill them. It’s as if they think they’re martyrs for some… disgusting cause.

    Life is more bizarre and more complex and more blurry-lined than most people think.

  45. #45 vera
    April 14, 2010

    I am sure not saving up money played a role, Katherine. Would it be ok for me to off my dad cuz I did not save up enough money when it’s time for him to go into a nursing home?

    Here is a quote from the link posted:
    “We have an occasional amnio abnormality, but it’s a minuscule amount,” said one of the doctors at Metropolitan Medical, an assessment confirmed by another doctor there. “Most are Medicaid patients, black and white, and most are for elective, not medical, reasons: people who didn’t realize, or didn’t care, how far along they were. Most are teenagers.”

  46. #46 Granny Sue
    April 14, 2010

    Agree with Katharine @42 and add that a raising a child should not be a woman’s hairshirt.

  47. #47 vera
    April 14, 2010

    I agree with you, Granny Sue. Doesn’t it seem to you, though, that killing fetuses is a particularly unfortunate method to achieve that desired state?

  48. #48 Rob Monkey
    April 14, 2010

    Okay, so I look at the article, and what do I see? A conjecture by a doctor without any numbers in one story, a conjecture (“It’s possible . . .”) by some journalists again without numbers, and the article with numbers includes this: “71% reported that they did not recognize that they were pregnant or misjudged gestational age. Forty-eight percent had difficulty arranging for the abortion (particularly raising money)” And that part of the article was about abortions in general, with only 22.1% after 16 weeks, hardly late term abortions, and no stats on abortions after 20 weeks. I mean, honestly look at the article and see if it really makes sense to come to their conclusions given their data. Doesn’t it at least say something to you that a full half of these women couldn’t get the abortion till then because they couldn’t afford it? How does making it harder for them to get the abortion help the issue of an unwanted pregnancy that they obviously can’t afford (given that they can’t afford an abortion)?

  49. #49 Nomen Nescio
    April 14, 2010

    Doesn’t it seem to you, though, that killing fetuses is a particularly unfortunate method to achieve that desired state?

    which better solution are you willing to help implement?

    personally, i’m all for proper, thorough, evidence-based sex education, to be provided universally to all children before they hit puberty (and thus encounter the need for it). i’m willing to help teach twelve-year-olds how and why to use condoms (or make sure their partners do).

    somehow, though, i suspect i would encounter quite a bit of political opposition if i showed up at my local schools as a volunteer sex-ed teacher with that proposed curriculum.

  50. #50 vera
    April 14, 2010

    Nomen, my favorite possible solution is to throw a lot of money and effort into biofeedback research enabling women to communicate with their bodies to be able to either render sperm ineffective, or prevent implantation. :-)

    Rob, are we reading the same thing? I posted the quote from the NY clinic above (a few comments ago), and I also read that: “US News & World Report investigated abortion supporters’ claims about late abortions. In looking at the reasons for late abortions, the report said:

    [T]he survey undermines another claim sometimes made by abortion-rights groups, at least with regard to the D&X issue: that late abortions are usually done for medical reasons, particularly to protect the life and/or health of the mother. Only 9.4 percent of late abortions at clinics that responded to the U.S. News survey were done for medical reasons, either to protect the mother’s health (a rare situation) or, more commonly, because of fetal defects such as spina bifida and Down’s syndrome. For the handful of very late abortions, those after 26 weeks, medical reasons do predominate. But for post-20-week abortions generally, about 90 percent were classified by the clinics as “nonmedical.

    I suggest you look into this more. The man who was the head of the NCAP would not have come out admitting that the reality of what was going on in the clinics did not jive with what was reported in the media and in the arguments, unless there was a weighty reason to do so. These lies did a lot of damage.

  51. #51 pandora
    April 14, 2010

    I dunno about the article you’re quoting, Vera. A website with headlines such as “Dopey Conservatives For Dope” would seem to have an agenda. Read their FAQ.

  52. #52 vera
    April 14, 2010

    Pandora, those stories are easy to check for people who dig. I would have provided direct links but a lot of them either expired or don’t allow access for laypeople. I am confident of the information because I read the stories when they were new.

  53. #53 Theodore
    April 14, 2010

    “They are not really very different from a term baby, are they?” Yeah actually they are.

    The presence of the umbilical cord makes a definitive difference. No one argues that you should be forced to entertain homeless drunks who rummage through your kitchen and sleep on your couch. Even if the alternative was that those drunks might be left outside in the elements and possibly die. That is about as late term as it gets. Why is it up for debate that a female mother should be coerced by any measure to be an incubator to support a cancer for nine months? And that is exactly what this legislation is. It is meant to discourage providers and limit access while adding more hoops before it happens.

    Your are certainly within in your rights to be offended, but I don’t consider haploid gametes special, I don’t consider the fertilized embryo they make instants later special, and I don’t consider the fetus anything other than a ball of self-replicating cells. The point where it is responsible for it’s own metabolism seems like an extremely legitimate boundary. If you declare that life begins at conception there is nothing stopping you from declaring that life begins at gametogenesis.

    As a perfectly fitting analogy the PETA folks would like to ban the consumption, ownership and caging of non-human lives per the grounds that our domestic animals are self-aware, feel pain and have complex social interactions. In fact, they make the same claims that animals are “individuals” with intrinsic rights to existence afford by homo sapiens “beings not very different than a small child”. The rhetoric that gets tossed around at their rallies when compared to pro-life protests is almost identical with one liners about killing and cute pictures etc. I take it you don’t buy their arguments? I sympathize with the PETA’s points though if our government tried to legally enforce their philosophy I would be up in arms. This is exactly the same. The “necessary”* aspect is a distraction from the fact that an external philosophy of “personhood” is being imposed against the individual’s sovereignty.

    *The most risky late term abortions are still safer than a regular delivery. That sounds medically necessary to me.

  54. #54 Paula
    April 14, 2010

    Rob Monkey, thanks for challenging that “medicaid women who, oops, just did not get their act together in time” comment. I have been a pregnant mother in a rough situation who had to consider an abortion, and it’s a hard decision that well may be difficult for anyone, especially anyone in the hormonal and situational changes of pregnancy, to make “on time”; more to the point, though, how much of the “empathy for life outside the womb” (gl’s good term) is there in that original (Vera’s?) characterization of poor women on Medicaid? “‘Oops,’” indeed, and it holds the key rudeness and lack of empathy on which rests the whole anti-abortion, anti-Welfare, anti-women’s-ability (a la Mr. Summers–whose views on this resemble what were once academia’s) drive against, primarily, poor and nonwhite women.
    Another way to view this—even though there is a difference between an 8-week-old foetus and a near-term baby, obviously, there is no way not to recoil at the idea that society’s interest in the latter could interfere to the point of physically preventing a woman from terminating the pregnancy, so how could it be right to do so by legislation?

  55. #55 Nomen Nescio
    April 14, 2010

    my favorite possible solution is to throw a lot of money and effort into biofeedback research enabling women to communicate with their bodies to be able to either render sperm ineffective, or prevent implantation. :-)

    yeah, let us know when you no longer need to stick a smiley on that sentence. i for one will be very happy to see that become reality. but until that day, real people have real problems to solve in their real lives.

  56. #56 vera
    April 14, 2010

    “Why is it up for debate that a female mother should be coerced by any measure to be an incubator to support a cancer for nine months?”

    A cancer. Aha. Well then…

    Paula, my comment was a bit snarky. You are right. Nevertheless, my claim holds up. I am not sure what you mean by your last paragraph.

    Nomen, good luck going into schools and teaching 8 year olds about contraception against their parents’ wishes. That would about put the last nail in the coffin of public schools, eh? But I digress…

  57. #57 Nomen Nescio
    April 15, 2010

    Nomen, good luck going into schools and teaching 8 year olds about contraception against their parents’ wishes. That would about put the last nail in the coffin of public schools, eh?

    eight-year-olds? kids are hitting puberty at age nine these days? well, if that’s how it is then that’s what it takes — if that’s how young they are when they develop the biological capacity for making awful mistakes with their reproductive organs, then that is the age at which they need to learn how to avoid such mistakes. unless, of course, you would be willing to countenance some other method for coping with the results of such inevitable mistakes…?

    (and no, i’m not impressed with their parents’ objections. a parent who would object to their child being taught what mistakes are smart to not make, and how not to make them, is not a parent fit to be making the decisions about what to teach their children. especially not when the mistakes that need avoiding would have permanently life-altering consequences for the child. the childrens’ need to know how to manage their own bodies overrides their parents’ political squeamishness and irrational hang-ups. cope with it.)

  58. #58 sciencenotes
    April 15, 2010

    There was a book in the days of abortion-permission committees that told women how to imitate a menstrual period so that a doctor would assume they weren’t pregnant. The purpose was either to throw off the official timing of a pregnancy or to get an IUD inserted when they were already pregnant, the latter I think. Removing the IUD should then end the pregnancy, or something.

    Another section described how to present a convincing case of depression to gain an abortion on mental health grounds. Those were the days!

    Did the saying, “The rich get richer and the poor get children” mean that wealthy families had access to safe abortions? Or did it mean that the rich had more self-control?

  59. #59 ema
    April 15, 2010

    However, I don’t agree that simply in virtue of being unwanted a pregnancy becomes a “medical condition,”….

    A pregnancy *is* a medical condition by virtue of the increased risk of morbidity and mortality it imposes on the patient.

    There is no effing need for elective abortions late in pregnancy. Just plain grisly and awful… IMO.

    Good thing then that elective late-term abortions are illegal, no? Also, plain grisly and awful as opposed to, what, the plain dainty and pleasant happenings of a vaginal or C/S delivery?

    Pro life people oppose abortion because they believe a fetus is the same as a baby.

    “Pro-life” people also believe the uterine container’s risk of morbidity and mortality is irrelevant so it’s best for people not to base their medical decisions on the odd beliefs of perfect strangers.

    Last I checked into this, most late term abortions were done on medicaid women who, oops, just did not get their act together in time. And some of the pro-choice activists lied about it. This was early 90s, maybe things have changed since then? But if they have, they have changed in part because of the pro-lifers… and culture change.

    Define “late-term” abortion, give the annual number of procedures performed and what percentage are elective, and support your assertion that most late term abortions [are] done on medicaid women who, oops, just did not get their act together in time. [Rob Monkey already addressed why the links you provided do not support your assertion.] And while you’re at it, clarify the just did not get their act together in time; what did the research show–these women were inattentive, busy with a full social events calendar, what?

    I am grateful to those who have protested on behalf of the late term fetuses. They are not really very different from a term baby, are they?

    If by “term baby” you mean neonate, a late-term fetus is nothing like that.

    It seems to me that the intransigence of pro-choice people regarding elective late term abortions has to do more with politics than with ethics and humane considerations. Perhaps if this intransigence was let up on, the other side would be more flexible on the early procedures.

    Yes, because when it comes to pregnant women, we must insure that they’re the only patient population who must be forced to give up access to one safe and effective medical procedure in exchange for being allowed access to another procedure.

  60. #60 ema
    April 15, 2010

    A cancer. Aha. Well then…

    Are you disputing the biology of pregnancy (see below) or are you just uncomfortable that it was mentioned?

    These functions of cytotrophoblasts [a layer of cells in blastocysts] invading the endometrium [the lining of the uterus] are indistinguishable from those of metastasizing malignant cells.*

    *Williams Obstetrics, 21 ed., p 89

  61. #61 Bob
    April 15, 2010

    As a man who will never have to worry about moralists interdicting my health care, I find it at once laughable and appalling that abortion is still an issue in this country. That anyone presumes themselves so wise as to make sweeping judgements about who deserves access to medical care (including abortion), so certain and so willing to act, that I find so offensive, repugnant, and evil, moreso than any horrific pro-life anecdote. Are those so willing to put themselves between a doctor and patient willing to submit to the same arbitrary and capricious interference between themselves and their doctor? Need insulin? Tough – it’s God’s will for you suffer with a jacked pancreas. Tetanus shot for your kid? What – so you can just blow off your responsibility of keeping him safe from rusty nails, you lazy bastard – I bet you’re two malt liquors away from being a Welfare Queen.

    But don’t think me too callous. I wish that every child was wanted, healthy, with parents with the maturity and means to raise the child in a safe, stable, loving environment. That isn’t going to happen anytime soon given the general level of compassion and economic equity in this country thus I’m less sympathetic to the plight of a few thousand undifferentiated cells dividing away in someone else’s uterus than to the plight of all the people are already here. That there’s no secular argument for restricting abortion makes me even less sympathy for the moralists’ case.

    Regardless, the problem is purely theoretical for me, at least until someone close to me has to fight their pharmacist for contraceptives or has to jump through the moralists hoops for medical care. Or perhaps when that unwanted, uncared-for, unloved ex-fetus caps me for my wallet and my Reeboks. Remember, being pro-life is effectively being pro-crime…

    PS: I love kids – anyone who’s met me in person can attest to that. My wife calls me The Toddler Whisperer.

  62. #62 Catherina
    April 15, 2010

    Thanks Rob,

    Nomen and Vera: my daughter had comprehensive sex education in third grade with loads of other 8 and 9 year olds, it was not possible to opt out, teaching material and topics included contraception. The teacher said it was “perfect”. He had taught the same unit to a fourth grade before and those kids had already been too hormonal (giggly, ashamed etc). Teenage pregnancy rate in Germany is about a quarter of that in the US, the teen abortion rate is 2.5x higher in the US.

  63. #63 pandora
    April 15, 2010

    You have a right to all your other organs even after you’re dead. If you don’t want to be an organ donor, or your family objects, no one will touch them, even if it means someone will die. (And this scenario happens every day.) No one has the right to demand you donate your blood for medical necessity. Even if you agree to such a procedure, if you change your mind at any point, you can withdraw consent.

    So, why is abortion different legally? A group of 24 cells has a right to my uterus, but a six year old (who is undisputedly a living human being) isn’t entitled to my liver after I’m done with it?

    What’s wrong with this picture?

  64. #64 AnthonyK
    April 15, 2010

    I loathe the “pro-life” people. They interfere in other peoples’ lives, and they’re fundamentally dishonest.
    Hey, don’t like abortions? Then don’t have one! It’s not up to you to tell others what to do with their lives – if they decide, for whatever reason, that they don’t want to have a baby – like, for example, deciding that at this time they couldn’t support it, then fine. What’s it got to do with you?
    (And don’t bring in the red herring of “late-term abortions”. As has been explained above, these are only ever done for acute medical need, and your anecdotes and stories about “lazy” mothers are just so much propoganda.)
    But you’re dishonest too. 10:1 you are from a religious group which doesn’t believe in contraception and thinks, fundamentally, that the mother’s to blame for having sex in the first place. You go on about whatever you think “late-term” means as if this is a mild, but reasonable, objection to the most egregious terminations only, whereas in fact you’re against all abortions, all contraception, and all sex-education.
    Fundamentally, you are religiously motivated hypocrites, interfering in other women’s lives.
    Hey, I bet if you had an unwanted pregnancy, you’d get an abortion too…because, in real life, that’s just what people like you do.

  65. #65 daedalus2u
    April 15, 2010

    Bob #8, I think what “medically indicated” means is that there is a known medical intervention with a known efficacy and a known side-effect profile which the patient can evaluate to determine what course of action to choose. Appendectomy for pain in the stomach is indicated, it is not indicated for pain in a tooth. Tooth extraction is indicated for pain in a tooth, it is not indicated for pain in the stomach.

    In this sense, abortion is indicated for termination of pregnancy. There is a known efficacy and a known side-effect profile.

    It is just like breast implants are indicated for increasing breast size.

  66. #66 rork
    April 15, 2010

    #61: “That there’s no secular argument for restricting abortion”. I can give you one that is along the same line as why infanticide should be restricted or why we don’t execute terribly defective people. Vaguely, though those have benefits, it dehumanizes the practitioners, and opens doors to other abuse is the theory.
    I’m very pro-choice, but honestly, for me the moral distinction between abortion and infanticide is nearly arbitrary, though there are technical distinctions. It’s a convenient place to draw a line. Different cultures have come to different conclusions about infanticide – my family doesn’t automatically kill identical twins anymore. (To those who would invoke lawyerish arguments about personhood or autonomy, the question for me is not what the law is, but what we want it to be.)

  67. #67 Richard Hendricks
    April 15, 2010

    AnthonyK: Oh, I think the hypocrisy goes much deeper than that. In general, the same people who are against abortion are also against many of the social support mechanisms for the newborn and its mother, ie WIC, medicaid, and welfare. Pretty sad, isn’t it.

  68. #68 bob koepp
    April 15, 2010

    daedalus2u – I appreciate that there are multiple meanings for a lot of medical terms/phrases. However, in the context of discussions about the place of abortion in medicine, it is common to distinguish “elective” and “medically indicated” abortions. In this context, to say that an abortion is medically indicated usually means that it is being done to prevent or ameliorate a medical pathology. I invite you to consult any standard medical reference to see what it says about the medical indications for abortion. Being “unwanted” is not such an indication. This is not an argument against elective abortions, just an effort to keep clear the relevant distinctions that are already recognized in the medical literature.

  69. #69 revere
    April 15, 2010

    bob@68: Alas it is not done so easily. Even the word “pathology” is rife with interpretation. I assume you mean to include pathophysiology as well as tissue pathology, but then we are starting to include things that have to do with how the system functions. There is a rather large literature produced by scholars in the history and sociology of medicine on the social definition of “pathology.” Rest assured that many of the things you consider “pathological” now will not be so considered in the future, there place taken by things you wouldn’t consider pathological now but will be then. For a contemporary example, consider autism spectrum disorders, which didn’t exist when I was a medical student.

  70. #70 Calli Arcale
    April 15, 2010

    Nomen Nescio @ 57:

    eight-year-olds? kids are hitting puberty at age nine these days?

    On average, no, but there are enough hitting puberty at nine (I had a classmate who did, back in the 80s) that it would be reasonable to start teaching kids what’s going on. I don’t think you need to teach them everything at that age; start simple, and then over the next few years the curriculum should shift to become more comprehensive so that by their teen years, they are adequately prepared, and so that by the time they graduate high school, they’re prepared for adulthood.

    Now, my feelings on abortion….

    I am opposed to what are sometimes called “elective” abortions — that is, the “I just don’t want a baby” abortion. But I do not think legislative restrictions on abortion are at all a good way of reducing those. I do think women have a right to not be pregnant if they don’t want to be, and I think we as a society have a responsibility to give them the support they need through that process. Therefore, reducing the rate of “elective” abortions means improving women’s ability to avoid getting pregnant in the first place. Part of the answer is making birth control readily available. Another part is changing the social picture with respect to sex. Women are still subordinate in our culture, as much as we like to pretend otherwise, and that means that too many women do not have the opportunity to say “no” or to demand birth control be used, or do not feel safe doing so or do not feel they have the right to do so. I’m not talking rape. I’m talking an unbalanced relationship, and God knows there are plenty of those. And then yet another part is changing our attitudes towards mothers. We are hugely ambivalent, as a culture, towards mothers. We put them on pedestals for making this huge sacrifice — and then we punish them for motherhood, which is what *makes* it a sacrifice in the first place. We look at them funny when we see the evidence that they’ve had sex. We get dubious about their ability to hold down a job and be proper mothers. We chide them for doing wrong things while pregnant, however dubious. We shame them even as we ennoble them, and I think if pregnancy were less shameful, we wouldn’t have as much abortion. That’s a tough nut to crack, but it’ll have to get cracked eventually.

    There are, tragically, times when abortion is neccesary. We must not threaten those; I fear any legislative action against elective abortion will threaten the neccesary ones. And then there is the very large gray zone between “neccesary” and “elective”. Even if we do find a way to shelter “indicated” abortion from “non-indicated”, how do we draw a line between them? We get into questions of eugenics, then. Is it right, for instance, to terminate a viable baby with Down’s Syndrome? The easy answer is to say “the child is viable, don’t terminate” (despite the arguments that it is very costly, both financially and emotionally, to raise such a child) but what about more complex situations? Predicting viability is a bit like estimating how long a cancer patient has to live — it’s an educated guess. Life and death could rest on that educated guess. And then there’s the question of “what sort of life”. I’ve known of babies kept on life support for months, at great expense, and never gaining consciousness before the parents finally allow the machines to be switched off, or, far too commonly, the child develops an infection that kills them. (There are some diseases peculiar to infants on life support in the NICU. They are very expensive to treat, and if the child does survive, can leave the child with fairly severe lifelong impairments.)

    These are not easy ethical questions, and I do not think politicians are equipped to answer them, because every case is unique, and law deals in generalizations. Every *child* is unique. Shouldn’t the law respect that? The only people equipped to decide are the parents and their doctors.

    As far as this Nebraska law, I think it’s ridiculous. You can already sue your doctor if he fails to disclose something and you get hurt, and failing to disclose is already against the standard of care. There is no reason to legislate it in this specific instance. Better to beef up state medical boards than to legislate these things, drawing arbitrary black-and-white lines through huge gray areas.

  71. #71 bob koepp
    April 15, 2010

    revere -
    I’m aware of the extensive literature about definitions for terms like health, wellness, disease, sickness, malady, pathology, etc, etc, and I know that every definition proposed is controversial. Nonetheless, I stand by my remarks about how the terms “elective abortion” and “medically indicated abortion” are commonly used in discussions about abortion. As I suggested to daedalus2u, standard medical reference works do address the question of medical indications for abortion, and provide the basis for distinguishing medically indicated abortions from what, in this context, are often called elective abortions. This can be easily checked (those standard medical reference works…) and should not itself be controversial.

  72. #72 Calli Arcale
    April 15, 2010

    BTW, as far as secular arguments go, though I am a Christian, my sentiment against abortion as birth control is secular. I could certainly justify it with scripture, but as I see it, a scriptural argument applies only to believers of that scripture. It is not a general argument, and frankly, if scripture’s all you’ve got to support your argument, it’s a pretty weak argument. It’s certainly no basis for law, or for medical ethics.

  73. #73 vera
    April 15, 2010

    Amazing all the craziness that comes out when abortion gets discussed. I am with rork… that is an excellent secular argument for restricting abortion.

    Calli, I appreciate your thought-out argument, and would only point out that the stats I referred to previously actually do include Down syndrome and other problems that do not threaten the life of the mother directly. They are included in the small amount of “medically indicated” late abortions.

    Bob koepp, it seems that many people here would rather deny the common sense (and medical) distinction you mention for reasons of argument. Sad, really.

  74. #74 daedalus2u
    April 15, 2010

    Bob, #68 meaning always depends on context. Your question (#8) about “medical indication” was in response to Revere’s comment #6 which very clearly (to me) used “medically indicated” in the sense that I defined it, as a medical procedure with a known effectiveness and side effect profile.

    I appreciate that the anti-abortion camp wants to do anything and everything to restrict abortion, including morphing definitions as to what “medical indication” means. Most legislation doesn’t use the term “medical indication”, it uses terms like “life of the mother”, or “life and health of the mother”, or “life and health of the mother excluding mental health”. Why is mental health of the mother excluded? Because the anti-abortion camp doesn’t care about the mental health of the mother. They don’t care about her physical or mental health. If they did care, they would be for free prenatal care for all women, free neonatal care for all infants, free health care for all women and children, and free adoption services to facilitate adoption. The anti-abortion camp is not for anything that has to do with the health and wellbeing of women or children, they are only anti-abortion. Rob #19 said it quite well.

    It is disingenuous for non-medical professionals to make pronouncements on the “medical necessity” of a procedure they know nothing about, and then narrow the definition down until it covers less and less. Where does “economic necessity” fit into the equation?

  75. #75 vera
    April 15, 2010

    Nuts, daedalus. Now it’s the fault of the pro-life camp that the people of this country do not have adequate and affordable health care. Right. Pile everything on them, and more. After all, if they *cared* enough, then all social problems would just suddenly be solved, our politicians would not be corrupt, our banksters would not be stealing everything that’s not nailed down, and there would be no crabgrass in anyone’s lawn! Way to make an argument.

  76. #76 Nomen Nescio
    April 15, 2010

    Now it’s the fault of the pro-life camp that the people of this country do not have adequate and affordable health care.

    Stupak.

  77. #77 bob koepp
    April 15, 2010

    daedalus2u -
    Disingenuous? I didn’t use the term ‘medical necessity’, nor any of its cognates, much less make any pronouncements on a procdeure that I know nothing about. Also while I understood perfectly well how revere used the term ‘medically indicated’ in comment #6, I also know perfectly well that his use diverged from how the term is typically used in medical discussions about abortion. As I said, this can be checked very easily if you want to.

    Frankly, when I have both pro- and anti-abortion folk arrayed against me (and standard medical usage), then I become more confident that observing the distinction between medically indicated and elective abortions is crucial to sorting through the ethical issues. Both sides, it seems, want to pretend that there is no difference between “medical” reasons and whatever other reasons one might have for seeking an abortion. Both sides are being disingenuous — a pox on both their houses.

  78. #78 Rob Monkey
    April 15, 2010

    Haha, I’m back! Bob, while I don’t think you’re arguing in bad faith or anything, I think the bridge that you need to cross is the real problem with the “medically necessary/elective” dichotomy. Some people don’t think it’s at all appropriate to abort a Down syndrome baby, whereas others would say it’s a perfectly acceptable medical reason. So which is it? Necessary or elective? Start running the spectrum up and down from there. What if it has no forebrain whatsoever? Missing all four limbs? In regards to mom’s health, what is an acceptable risk? If she has a 25% chance of dying, can she have a “medically necessary” abortion, or does it have to be 50%? What if the 25% is only for her becoming sterile? Acceptable or no? Sorry about all the rhetoricals, but I hope you get the point. I understand your colloquial use of the terms, but I hope you understand me when I say the terms exist on a spectrum that’s hard to define, and therefore isn’t a good measuring stick for what we should allow per the law.

    Vera, you may want to ask yourself the same questions. And I’m seconding Norman @76 regarding what you said about health care. Unless you vote against your own anti-abortion convictions, yes, you and those who vote like you are the reason we haven’t had adequate government-supported medical care. Don’t even try and equivocate about which party supports poor mothers in this country, everyone here knows how Republicans feel about *gasp* giving money to poor people!

    Oh, and those banksters you’re talking about? They’re the fault of Republicans gutting financial legislation and eliminating the separation between savings and investment banks. “Politics is just like driving. To go backward put it in R, to go forward put it in D.”

  79. #79 AnthonyK
    April 15, 2010

    Vera – you’re dishonest, hypocritical, and, no doubt, religiously driven.
    You’re against abortion under any circumstances, no matter what shit world the poor child might be born into, and what awful life it may go on lead. What’s it got to with you, you busybody? Nothing.
    Please, the other people here are trying to argue from necessity, or experience; you’re just here “concerned” to try to make trouble.
    No one wants abortions to happen – it’s just that, in the real world, sometimes it’s better that children never be born.
    Bet you’re anti-contraception too.
    You’re a liar.
    Or am I wrong? (whistles innocently)

  80. #80 vera
    April 15, 2010

    Rob, you are right and there will be disagreement regarding the exact line, and some people are opposed to all medical necessities if the mother’s life is on the line. I am not. And I think that if one looks toward the majority of people who fall somewhere in the middle of the two warring extremes, this is not such a big problem… at least for me, killing late term healthy fetuses of healthy mothers looms pretty large in comparison. I am willing and happy to leave the rest to the doctor-parent decision. And I am betting that most people would too.

    As for health care goes, Americans have never had an adequate health care system, and this goes far back into history, way before any glimmer of a post Roe vs Wade pro-life movement. Whereas other countries *have* had it regardless of the opposition to abortion amongst some of their citizens. The banking regulation was given a big blow under Clinton, for example. “To go backward put it in R, to go forward put it in D.” Gadz, I haven’t heard something so naive in ages. Haven’t you been paying attention? Both parties work for the same people… and it ain’t me or you.

    Rob… here is a hint. “Divide and conquer.” This strategy has been used for thousands of years now to pit us against one another. Isn’t it about time we woke up to it, stop scapegoating one another, and get at the real culprits?! Neither party supports the poor mothers of this country…

  81. #81 sciencenotes
    April 15, 2010

    I, too, think there’s some confusion about the terms and I think that the anti-choice groups wilfully use that confusion. For example, a woman who is “12 weeks pregnant” is carrying a 10-week-old embryo; the anti-choice groups persist in equating it with a 12-week embryo, and older. Frankly, I’ve seen posters calling an 8-month stillbirth an 8-week “baby”. A real 8-week embryo looks much like a grain of cooked rice.

    A woman unfamiliar with pregnancy may not know she’s pregnant until she misses a second period and starts to get nausea & morning sickness. Then she has to get to a doctor, get a diagnosis and a referral, and make an appointment with a clinic. If you call anything after 12 or 14 weeks “a late abortion,” you’ll be including her. It is to late for a medical (triggered by oral medicines) abortion but not too late for a surgical abortion.

    In the medical statistics in my county, removing a fetus is classified as an abortion up to a certain gestational age, even if the fetus is already dead. After that, it’s counted as a stillbirth.

    I’m puzzled by all the statements that there are so many late abortions. A woman who’s unwillingly pregnant wants a abortion YESTERDAY. And doctors will not do abortions after about 20 weeks without a good medical reason, because those later abortions are more dangerous than childbirth, unlike early abortions, which are about 1/13 as likely to kill as childbirth.

    A doctor may recommend abortion because of danger to the woman or because of gross genetic or physical deformity in the fetus, but it’s still the woman’s choice and therefore elective in one sense. I believe that scheduling terminology is involved here: in an operating room, anything that’s not rushed up from the emergency department is called “elective” or “urgent elective,” whether or not it’s needed to save a patient’s life.

    Again, anti-choice groups will use that terminology to scream “ELECTIVE” no matter how necessary or how agonizing the choice was–which was why some born-again Christian felt it was his right to murder Dr. Tiller, friend of women in need.

  82. #82 vera
    April 15, 2010

    Anthony, I am not religiously driven. And I am not against abortion under any circumstances, in fact, I am pro-choice in early pregnancy… obviously you are running in here happy to spew insults without reading the early comments.

    I do not discuss things with people who rely on rudeness. I will not respond again if you continue with it.

  83. #83 daedalus2u
    April 15, 2010

    No vera, it is not a “pro-life” lobby, it is an anti-abortion lobby. If they were pro-life and wanted to be effective at saving lives, they would be doing different things that would save more lives. They are not doing other things that are more effective, I can only conclude they are being disingenuous as to their real motives. Maybe they are being disingenuous to themselves, but lying to oneself is not at all rare.

    If the anti-abortion lobby spent a fraction of their efforts on better sex education, they would prevent more abortions than their current actions are preventing. They don’t do that. Why don’t they do that? The reason must be that stopping abortions is not their main goal.

    Interesting about your willingness to support biofeedback training for a hypothetical birth control method. Would you support a biofeedback method that allowed women to cause a spontaneous miscarriage? What is the difference between a biofeedback mechanism to prevent implantation and the morning after pill?

  84. #84 vera
    April 15, 2010

    Sciencenotes, I read some testimonies that claimed that Dr Tiller was doing third trimester electives while fudging records and pretending they were second trimester. Has anyone looked into the story in depth?

  85. #85 vera
    April 15, 2010

    Daedalus, I call people what they themselves call themselves, unless I want to be insulting. I call Christians Christians even when their behavior speaks otherwise, etc. Which is not to say that you are not right, and they could be doing other things to protect life.

    Would I support your biofeedback method to abort an embryo? Yes.

  86. #86 Rob Monkey
    April 15, 2010

    Ok, seriously? Both parties work for the same people? Yes, yes, you and me and everyone here probably agrees that there’s too much corporate money in politics and whatnot, but if you seriously think both parties are working for this secret cabal of capitalists with their New World Order, you’re too far gone for me. The problem with your ideas is that, in fact, a Democratic president and Congress just passed a health care bill. People can bicker and bitch all they want about what it lacks and what it shoulda been, but the FACTS are that Republicans were opposed to it in 1994 and were opposed to it today, despite 16 years of the problem getting worse. Sorry, but if you just lump both parties in as the same thing, then don’t bother voting, nobody here will miss your shitty candidates in office.

    As for your assessment re: Clinton, the main destruction of banking regs was the repeal of Glass-Steagal, aka Gramm-Leach-Bliley in 1999. Yeah, Clinton was still in office (as a lame duck) but do you notice those 3 names? Gramm, Leach, Bliley? Just try and guess what party they belonged to. And how did the vote go? Basically along party lines, which allowed the Republicans to pass it. Should I assume you’re mistaken and not just dishonest in regards to this issue?

    “at least for me, killing late term healthy fetuses of healthy mothers looms pretty large in comparison. I am willing and happy to leave the rest to the doctor-parent decision”

    So you’re opposed to abortions of late-term healthy fetuses of healthy mothers, but you want “the rest” left to the doctor and patient. Please re-read the last comment I made @78, and you’ll understand. What exactly is a “healthy” fetus and a “healthy” mother? If she’s got a 25% chance of never being able to have a child again, is that ok by you? What about a 10% of death? What about the myriad of other conditions? Sorry for the all caps, but WHERE DOES THE FUCKING LINE GET DRAWN? This is the point we’ve been trying to make for ages now, that what you judge to be acceptable risk is unacceptable for someone else, and making an arbitrary law that says if you have x% risk of harm you can get an abortion doesn’t make sense. We can’t distill medical laws down to specific percentages of outcomes, because people don’t work that way.

    So, the operative question to answer is: can you define the specific terms for where the line is drawn re: medical vs. elective abortions?

  87. #87 AnthonyK
    April 15, 2010

    Are you anti-contraception? And are you really pro-choice in early pregnancy?
    I doubt it.
    Listen, “late-term” – whatever that means, exactly, abortions are only carried out in terms of a possible fatality for the mother, or a non-viable birth for the baby.
    It’s a medical decision between doctor and mother. And a terrible one for both. A great tragedy. That God, eh.
    Once again, what does this have to do with you?
    And I still think you’re a lying hypocrite.
    Sorry, rude again.

  88. #88 stripey_cat
    April 15, 2010

    I notice that the proposed law doesn’t say anything about medical negligence in exposing a woman to the negative health effects of pregnancy, parturition and motherhood. In my case (major depression and a family history of pre- and post-partum worsening of depressive symptoms) the risks of an abortion are small compared to the risks of carrying to term. I suspect that even without serious complicating factors, the average woman’s health is worsened more by continuing a pregnancy than by abortion; in my opinion the increased risk should only be faced by women who truly want a child out at the end of it. Summary: this law is not motivated by a concern for women’s health, but we already knew that!

    (To the people talking about infanticide: there is one important difference. A neonate does not require any input from the mother, as it can be bottle-fed or wet-nursed and put up for adoption. A fetus, until we develop a way to grow them on in vitro, makes unavoidable demands of the mother’s health and metabolism. And personally, I would put the well-being of a grown adult above that of a fetus or an infant, every time.)

  89. #89 gl
    April 15, 2010

    “No one wants abortions to happen” (AnthonyK)

    I see a lot of pro-choice people make that or similar claims. I don’t understand it. If it is just a bunch of cells, and there’s nothing wrong with abortion, why don’t we want it to happen?

  90. #90 anon
    April 15, 2010

    I’m sure I’ll piss off everybody in the pro-life camp and probably most in the pro-choice camp as well by saying that for a number of years I used abortion as primary birth control and terminated four pregnancies.

    I didn’t do it because I was too irresponsible or uninformed or poor to have used a better contraception method. But a combination of health conditions and circumstances made it impossible for me to do so. For one, all hormonal based contraception was out, as the hormones made me, in layman’s terms “crazy”. It was kind of like PMS x 100, with black depression and constant crying and flying off the handle at a drop of a hat, no matter how low the dose of the hormones actually was (I’ve tried many brands of pills and the ring). I’m also allergic to copper, (which ruled out the non-hormonal IUD) and very sensitive to nonoxinol 9, as are MANY men and women, so this ruled out all spermicides. I have a tilted uterus, so no diaphragms or cervical caps (but without spermicides, those aren’t particularly effective in the first place). I also have polycistic ovaries, which made my periods rare and random, so no ovulation monitoring. And just because that wasn’t enough, my husband was unable to reach orgasm in a condom (also a fairly common problem people like to ignore).

    Since I didn’t want to have a child, and had no way to prevent pregnancy, the only way to do that was to terminate a pregnancy once it occurred. Coincidentally, the times I did get pregnant, I found out that pregnancy hormones weren’t any better than birth control (worse, actually) for my sanity and overall wellbeing. When I was 28 I finally decided that I probably won’t change my mind about having children and had my tubes tied.

    I know that people like to ignore all the inconvenient coincidences that put women in situations like mine. And I’ll agree that such coincidences are probably rare. But the point is, you can never foresee all possibilities. No amount of “support” would make it a perfect world without the need for “elective” abortions. And not wanting to have a child is as valid a reason to terminate a pregnancy as any “medical” one.

  91. #91 vera
    April 15, 2010

    C’mon, Rob, don’t strawman me. I don’t believe in any secret cabal. Aren’t the thieves in plain view? Haven’t they gotten amazingly brazen?

    Unfortunately, even you have a choice between one brand of shitty scoundrels against another. I am done with that BS. As Emma Goldman wisely observed: If voting made a difference, they’d make it illegal.”

    I’ll leave it to you to sort out who is worse. I am kinda with the Simpsons… Democrats: we can’t govern. Republicans: we are just plain evil. ;)

    As to where to draw the line, I am with koepp. He said:

    “In this context, to say that an abortion is medically indicated usually means that it is being done to prevent or ameliorate a medical pathology. I invite you to consult any standard medical reference to see what it says about the medical indications for abortion. Being “unwanted” is not such an indication.”

    Do you have a problem with it?

  92. #92 revere
    April 15, 2010

    gl@89: I don’t want herniorrhaphies to happen either. Or cardiac caths. Better there was no reason for either. So sex education and contraception are preventive measures. But when the thing isn’t prevented, then you treat it.

  93. #93 Rob Monkey
    April 15, 2010

    anon, by no means am I the spokesperson for pro-choicers, but I support you 100%. Your story is a perfect example of why limiting people’s rights to a medical procedure is a dangerous and slippery slope that we shouldn’t be treading on. Forcing you to have a child against your will because of your body’s particular quirks is downright medieval.

    Oh, and gl, I’m getting to the point where I don’t even think you oversimplify things anymore. You’re just such a fucking moron that it’s the only way you can see things. Guess what numbnuts? Pro-choicers support science-based sex ed in order to avoid unplanned pregnancies, because we don’t want women to even get to the point of an abortion if it can be helped. For those women who get pregnant and don’t want to or can’t have the child, we support their right to a medical procedure.

  94. #94 AnthonyK
    April 15, 2010

    I see a lot of pro-choice people make that or similar claims. I don’t understand it. If it is just a bunch of cells, and there’s nothing wrong with abortion, why don’t we want it to happen?

    Because, moron – it’s distressing to the mother (not having the happy birth she will hopefully enjoy later, when she’s ready), it’s a medical procedure (so rarely pleasant) a source of shame (who wants to admit to having one) at a time of unhappiness, expensive and, in the US at least, the poor women may have to brave the hysterical, ridiculous, hateful campaigns of interfering, moralising, god-bots like you.

  95. #95 tawaen
    April 15, 2010

    gl @ 89

    Beacuse it’s expensive? Because it’s an inefficient remedy that indicates a birth control method failed?

    Because other people will judge us for having an abortion, without knowing anything about us or our lives?

    Because maybe the woman really wanted a child, but can’t afford one or maybe there is a medical problem with the pregnancy?

    Oh, no reason at all to not want one. Unless one actually believes that children are NOT commodities and should be loved, wanted and supported.

    But thanks, you’ve just motivated me to make another donation to Planned Parenthood, same as any other time I hear someone spout utter bull about abortion.

  96. #96 v.rosenzweig
    April 15, 2010

    Vera–

    The _reason_ so few doctors will perform late abortions isn’t that they think it’s icky or ethically problematic. It’s that they don’t want to be murdered by your allies. It doesn’t take a lot of terrorists singling out individuals to change behavior.

    In that sense, any law that restricts abortion is letting the terrorists win.

    By all means, urge women to carry pregnancies to term. Offer them real assistance: that doesn’t mean prayers, it means financial help when that’s needed. (I’d like to see the “pro-life” groups collecting money to replace lost wages for poor women whose obstetricians recommend bed rest, for example, and for any woman whose job doesn’t have paid maternity leave.)

    But don’t set up unreasonable roadblocks. Don’t make rules that are clearly about making it more expensive or difficult for women to get abortions. Whatever their reasons.

    Which includes anything from “I would die if I had this baby” to, yes, “I don’t want to be pregnant for the next n months.” When you can easily remove that embryo or fetus from the woman’s body (with no more pain or risk to her than an abortion would produce) and transplant it into your own, by all means, start collecting volunteers to nurture those fetuses. Until then, it’s my body, not yours, that we’re discussing, and you have no more right to decide whether I have an abortion than you do to order or forbid me to have Lasix surgery.

  97. #97 Rob Monkey
    April 15, 2010

    vera: “C’mon, Rob, don’t strawman me.”

    Strawman? Um, I pointed out two CLEAR distinctions between the parties and how they govern, and you call strawman without even addressing the fact that I proved one of your points either a lie or flat out ignorance. Try again, and maybe you should look up the actual definition of a logical fallacy before calling one.

    As to whether I have a problem with koepp’s description: yes, yes I do. It’s stupid, semantic, and doesn’t make any sense in reality. I would call that at least a problem with his reasoning. So I should consult some medical dictionary to determine what flat out logic tells me? That there’s an economic and social cost to children, and women shouldn’t be forced by biology into caring for a child they can’t afford or don’t want? What sense does this make? Don’t you even bother to consider the unintended consequences of what you’re advocating?

  98. #98 vera
    April 15, 2010

    Rob, you tried to pin conspiracy cabal on me, did you not? Sure sounded that way. From the way your writing is turning, I am regretfully deducing that you would rather rant than talk together. Seems like you are joining the resident hate-mongers. I am sad to see that.

    As for koepp’s definition, it is used all over the country by medical people. That is the definition that allows people to collect the statistics I referred to earlier.

    Consequences of what I am advocating? After c. 20 weeks, no elective abortions. Hoo! The horror of it!

    v.rosenzweig: Fortunately, the law is on my side, and protects late term fetuses, and will do more of that in the future, if Nebraska is any indication.

  99. #99 Nomen Nescio
    April 15, 2010

    what’s fortunate about forcing women to gestate fetuses they do not want?

    and in what way is that one-sentence quip of yours any true response to the actual points v.rosenzweig made? that, i think, is what has most annoyed me about you in this thread, vera; you don’t even try to engage our substantial points, you just regurgitate talking-point quips and flat out ignore what we’re saying. you’re not listening to us, you’re just trying to be an internet pundit.

  100. #100 vera
    April 15, 2010

    I am really at a loss of words when someone compares pregnancy to cancer, or as v.r did, abortion to lasik surgery.

    And are you (plural) listening to me, Nomen?

  101. #101 Paula
    April 15, 2010

    Let’s not dump on gl, everybody. Her use of the phrase “empahty for life within the womb as well as outside it” (or something like that) happens to resonate. We who have been pregnant know we have felt for that “potential baby” inside us from, sometimes, even before pregnancy is confirmed–though not so much as for the baby once born. And if you’ve spoken with a woman who’s miscarried, you know her grief was not just over “a dream.” Okay–that said, we have the major, crucial issue still in place: when does that bunch of cells, however we feel for/about it, become a baby, a person? As one person here noted, different cultures/civilizations have had different views on this; I doubt we’ll solve it in these posts. What seems clear is that society has some interest to prevent murder, and many anti-abortion rank-and-filers seem to feel that’s what they’re doing. Most of us don’t think the foetus a “fully human life” before . . . well, probably for most of us, that moment would be sometime midway or 2/3 way through pregnancy, yes? But the point is, it varies for each of us, and this alone, short of proof otherwise (what would that be?), rather makes the decision an individual’s, without state interference. (Yes, there are counterarguments to this, but in the real world do they come up nonrarely?) There is, again, the old argument against the “What if your mother–?” famous argument; each of us is in effect the aborter of the N baby/ies who might have been born had our mothers not borne us. And the whole fundamentalist (not solely Catholic, by any means) argument that, at its extreme, would keep all us women on our backs, all the men pumping away, throughout our years of fertility.

  102. #102 Nomen Nescio
    April 15, 2010

    why would such simple comparisons stump you, vera? either they’re obviously bad analogies — in which case it should be easy enough to point out how they fail — or they’re so vague as to give you difficulties grasping the point they drive at, in which case you can ask for clarification.

    or perhaps they cut to the heart of the issue and demonstrate how your logic quite simply fails. in which case the appropriate thing for you to do is to change your conclusions.

    i can’t speak for anyone else, but i (singular) have paid enough attention to you to notice you don’t engage much with your debate opponents’ arguments, nor do you very well support your own. you make assertions, but you don’t argue for them in any real detail. this, too, is consistent with the hypothesis that you’re really only here to play the pundit, not to actually debate us or try to convince anyone.

  103. #103 revere
    April 15, 2010

    vera: loss of words amounts to no counter argument. Cancer and pregnancy are clearly different, but they have aspects that are similar. You prefer to emphasize the differences (there are many) and not the similarities. Abortion is quite different than lasik surgery in one way important to this thread: human beings are hard wired to react differently to things that affect the next generation (if we didn’t care about the next generation we wouldn’t have survived as a species). So a thread about abortion can generate a lot of animated discussion. But the welfare of the next generation is no longer dependent on having as many babies as biologically possible. So the way we adapt, via culture, changes too. In my view, your religious opinions are a carryover from an older time when they may have been more functionally beneficial to the species. They are just the opposite, now. So you can choose to believe a blastocyst has a soul but a cow or a finger doesn’t. In the view of many of us, it is a a superstition you insist on pressing on the rest of us and cruel, even if unintentional.

  104. #104 AnthonyK
    April 15, 2010

    Vera, Vera, Vera – that would be “Vera Drake” would it? – you’re the one coming on here spewing nonsense. Once again, you’re a liar. You don’t really think abortion should be allowed at all – you’re just pretending.
    Here’s your first self-satisfied, sanctimious post:

    I support the woman’s choice in the first half of pregnancy [yeah, right}. I support protection of the fetus in the second half. There is no effing need for elective abortions late in pregnancy. Just plain grisly and awful… IMO.

    It’s been explained to you again and again – “late term” aka “grizzly” aka “awful” abortions are unfortunate but a)rare and b)sometimes necessary.
    But it’s not up to you to decide
    Shouldn’t you be off somewhere waving placards? Just think how many “babies” have been “murdered” while you’re wasting time here. Off you go now, and interfere directly in other womens’ business. Those abortionists won’t threaten themselves you know!

  105. #105 bob koepp
    April 15, 2010

    For the record, I appeal to the distinction, already widely used in the medical-legal-ethical literature, between medically indicated and elective abortions _not_ because I think elective abortions should be restricted (I don’t, for reasons some have expressed above), but because I’m interested in establishing that there are some abortions namely, those that are medically indicated, that health care workers are professionally obligated to provide to a patient/client. It’s my impression that the Nebraska law, which started this wide-ranging discussion, pretty obviously conflicts with the professional obligations of health care workers.

    For those of you who want to reject the traditional distinction between _medical_ reasons and other sorts of reasons, I challenge you to articulate some other grounds than medical indications that could ground professional obligations that are distint to the health care professions.

  106. #106 sciencenotes
    April 15, 2010

    Vera, no, there’s no indication other than made-up crap on woman-hating religious sites that Dr. Tiller did anything other than medically necessary abortions, properly documented. I’ve looked into it quite a bit. He was fully booked up with rare defects that can only be detected late in pregnancy, abortions on girl-children who hadn’t wanted to tell their parents, and life-threatening pre-eclampsia. In one study, 5% of late abortions occurred because the prospective parents couldn’t believe it, were waiting for a second opinion on a deadly birth defect, or were praying for a miracle (and God came through like a non-existent myth, as usual). Are you DEAF!? NOBODY WANTS A LATE ABORTION!

    The Bravery of George Tiller

    The killing of George Tiller on Sunday is a reminder, as if we needed one, of why so few doctors dare to become abortion providers outside big cities, why even fewer perform late-term abortions, and of the bravery it takes to be a member of these small bands. Tiller, 67, performed late-term abortions in the rare cases in which his state, Kansas, allows it. (Two doctors have to say independently that a woman would be irreparably harmed by giving birth.) For his willingness, Tiller was hounded throughout his career. In 1986, his clinic was bombed. In 1993, he was shot in both arms. This photo gallery from the Wichita Eagle chronicles those travails and more; the video below shows Dr. Tiller describing these unfortunate incidents. The Kansas attorney general’s office went after Tiller almost as often as anti-abortion protesters did.

    Each time, Tiller was exonerated. In 2005, after a patient died after having an abortion at the clinic, the medical board in Kansas cleared him of any wrongdoing, as did a grand jury. A former Kansas attorney general then tried to subpoena the medical records of Tiller’s patients in an effort to indict him for performing late-term abortions illegally. The Kansas Supreme Court said no, because the attorney general had no “reasonable suspicion” that Tiller was breaking the law. The group Kansans for Life tried to get Tiller’s records by turning to an 1887 state law that gives citizens the power to convene a grand jury. The point, of course, was to scare women out of going to Tiller’s clinic out of fear that their privacy would be violated. The grand jury subpoenas, too, got thrown out of court. The next state attorney general filed 19 new misdemeanor trials against Tiller, alleging that he’d taken referrals from a doctor to whom he had financial ties. He stood trial in March. As the New York Times put it after the jury deliberations, “After years of investigations and four days of testimony, jurors here took 45 minutes on Friday to acquit a controversial abortion doctor.”

  107. #107 vera
    April 15, 2010

    Paula, it’s interesting you bring up the Catholics. They used to, I have heard, teach prohibition against abortion only after the quickening, midway through pregnancy. It seems to me a reasonable and intuitive line to draw. Sometime more recently — 20th century? — they changed their tune.

    Nomen, it did not stump me. I have also heard (elsewhere) that the fetus is like a booger. Meh… — Are you interested in sparking a turn in this debate toward both sides listening more? It is hard enough to listen among all the attacks. I provided evidential argumentation and lengthier posts earlier but mostly I got attacks, misrepresentations, and people demanding info I had already provided. Why don’t you try to turn your co-opinionists in a more productive direction? You will find me cooperating if you do.

    Revere, can you point me to anything I have said that indicated I am pressing religious opinions, or arguing anything about souls of either blastocysts or cows? I understand that my views are unpopular here, but at least you could stop accusing me of things I never said or even suggested. And oh by the way, I am not a Republican either. Just in case you just did not get to chastising me for that yet and are saving it for a later time.

    Sciencenotes: I am sorry to hear it. There are fanatics out there, and I am sorry this doctor got the brunt of them. — Is there really need to be rude? I have shown earlier that electives were performed often enough for late term at least up to 1996.

  108. #108 Nomen Nescio
    April 15, 2010

    It is hard enough to listen among all the attacks.

    lady, this is the internet — if you think you’ve been seriously attacked on this thread, you need to grow a much thicker skin and get a sense of perspective.

    a few people have aimed mediocre insults against you, mostly trying to slur you by association to religious extremists. online, that is positively mild. you wouldn’t be involved in a debate worth having if that much didn’t happen. wait until you’re getting physically threatened; that’ll be the start of the actual attacks.

    (/me is a veteran of the usenet wars, yes. and of IRC, as well. Revere is unlikely to allow any real attacks to even stand here on this blog, so complain a bit less loudly of how you’ve been treated; you could be reading 4chan.)

    I provided evidential argumentation

    no, you did not. you provided other people’s opinions and insinuated that more third-party opinions used to be available years ago and we should go googling them up for you. note, if you will, this website is called ScienceBlogs; most of us are used to proper referencing of peer-reviewed papers, and know what such references look like. we can recognize actual evidence when we see it, and what you’ve provided has cut exactly no mustard.

    productive discussion is outlining logical arguments clearly and in sufficient detail; backing up your propositions and conclusions with valid logic; and providing objective, verifiable, evidence for your facts and statistics. most of us here have been trying to steer you in that general direction for some time now, but you’re not following along very well.

    what you’re doing is more along the lines of throwing out a blatant assertion, backing it up with vague handwaving and unverifiable third-party opinion if at all, and complaining of how rude people are being when they don’t agree with your position right away. i’d expect better from a college freshman, and would dissect their arguments and opinions rather more mercilessly than i have yours if they failed to deliver it.

  109. #109 Katherine
    April 16, 2010

    @Paula “And if you’ve spoken with a woman who’s miscarried, you know her grief was not just over “a dream.”"

    Actually, one of my best friends miscarried recently. She didn’t feel grief. Annoyance? Yes. Physical discomfort? Yes. Slightly worried that the successful pregnancy she was trying for didn’t go to plan? Yes. She was 3 months in at most. Just a bunch of cells, and hopes and dreams, rather than a baby that she had a deep spiritual connection to? I think so.

    To those who are arguing that there are no, or very few people that call themselves “pro-life” and then hate on mothers, pregnant women, childcare, healthcare or are for the death penalty, war, etc: you must not live in the US or frequent US-based websites.

  110. #110 vera
    April 16, 2010

    Well, nomen. It was you who started talking about better listening. When I turn to welcome it, provided it cuts both ways, you blab about my thin skin. I am glad you’ve finally made yourself clear… you were just looking for a way to lecture at me and berate me, eh? Things are so much simpler when people say what they mean.

    Documentation? So far, I am the only one who provided any links to document anything. How about we have some documentation of the claim that has been challenged by koepp and one other person regarding the division between elective and medically indicated? Seems to me like some people here are playing a mighty loose game with the terms. Looking over the information regarding Dr Tiller, for example, I see now it says that he only did medically necessary late abortions, but then it adds he did “abortions on girl-children who hadn’t wanted to tell their parents”… um, since when is “hadn’t wanted to tell their parents” a medical pathology?

    Once again, to repost:
    “In this context, to say that an abortion is medically indicated usually means that it is being done to prevent or ameliorate a medical pathology. I invite you to consult any standard medical reference to see what it says about the medical indications for abortion. Being “unwanted” is not such an indication.”

    Please document your argument against the above statement.

  111. #111 Azkyroth
    April 16, 2010

    Last I checked into this, most late term abortions were done on medicaid women who, oops, just did not get their act together in time.

    [Citation needed]

    [Explicit definition of "late term" as used above also needed]

  112. #112 AnthonyK
    April 16, 2010

    Sweet Vera,
    more dissimulation? ;{D

    It seems to me a reasonable and intuitive line to draw…

    Yes, because you get to make arbitrary decisions on other peoples’ lives? Well, as long as they’re reasonable..

    it’s interesting you bring up the Catholics. They used to, I have heard, teach prohibition against abortion only after the quickening, midway through pregnancy

    Oh good, at last, an argument from the authority of God. It’s not just you then!
    Well, I can hit google too. The first post I come across tells me that the church thinks abortion a mortal sin in every circumstance. A little further down we learn tha Pope Gregory XIV in 1591 did mention “quickening” as a measure of ensoulment (must have got some nun up the duff, eh?), but it wasn’t long before they were back, at their present position, of condemning it even if the mother’s life is threatened.
    Great to see a defence of abortion tolerance from a catholic point of view – very novel.
    Please, finally (well….) let me apologise on behalf of some of the posters on this site who might have been rude to you. You are a concerned lady, merely seeking information from a medical site, and people have been attacking you. All you’re trying to do, after all, is to make sure that people don’t have abortions – yet those very people attack you!
    May I suggest that you a) continue posting your sanctimonious disapproval of other womens’ moral actions here – and stop moaning when we take you to task over it; b)go away and Shut the Eff Up; or c) repair to your fainting couch clutching your pearls, too unwell to continue.
    And if you go away I promise that I will stop accusing you of being a lying concern troll, wasting your time berating women for the choices they have to make regarding their bodies.
    Peace and Love :)

  113. #113 AnthonyK
    April 16, 2010

    A little mild exposition from the Catholic church regarding abortion:

    I� What if the life of the mother or of the child to be born is in danger?

    “Never and in no case has the Church taught that the life of the child must be preferred to that of the mother.� It is erroneous to put the question with this alternative: either the life of the child or that of the mother.� No, neither the life of the mother nor that of the child can be subjected to an act of direct suppression.� In the one case as in the other, there can be but one obligation: to make every effort to save the lives of both, of the mother and of the child.

    It is one of the finest and most noble aspirations of the medical profession to search continually for new means of ensuring the life of both mother and child.� But if, notwithstanding all the progress of science, there still remain, and will remain in the future, cases in which one must reckon with the death of the mother, when the mother wills to bring to birth the life that is within her and not destroy it in violation of the command of God – Thou shalt not kill – nothing else remains for the man, who will make every effort till the very last moment to help and save, but to bow respectfully before the laws of nature and the dispositions of divine Providence.”� Pius XII, Allocution to Large Families, November 26, 1951. (15)

    Oooh that God. Better for the woman to die than for an abortion to take place. And remember, no contraception, not even a little rubber penis bag, is allowed to prevent conception in the first place.
    What’s the teaching of your own church, Vera? Better check – many denominations share these sentiments and you wouldn’t want to go against doctrine, would you, far less bear false witness!

  114. #114 gl
    April 16, 2010

    Someone pointed out that even pro-choicers don’t agree on when the fetus becomes a human life. If laws should be based on science – why can’t science come up with a universal definition? If not based on science, then what should laws be based on?

  115. #115 AnthonyK
    April 16, 2010

    Someone pointed out that even pro-choicers don’t agree on when the fetus becomes a human life

    When/if it’s born.

    If laws should be based on science – why can’t science come up with a universal definition?

    Because the definition of “life” and when it happens is more of a religious thing – catholics say it’s at the moment of “ensoulment” – ie conception. Anti-abortionist nutcases, like you, like to pretend that anything from a little ball of cells to a baby is equal. Bullshit.
    And remind me – what propertion of pregnancies are spontaneously aborted/stillborn? About 25%? Ah, god, the greatest abortionist of them all…
    Once again, it is none of your business to interfere.
    Hurry along now, those placards need wavin’

  116. #116 revere
    April 16, 2010

    gl: Yes, I think public moneys should pay for medical care via a single payer system preferably but any other way we have to pay for medical care, too. That includes abortion. If you don’t like what other people are getting for medical care, you are not the one to decide. They and their health care providers are the ones to decide that. As noted by someone else, government monies are used for many things that violate my sense of conscience and morality: Guantanamo, the death penalty, war, subsidies for harmful industries, probably some kinds of medical care I think are frivolous or unnecessary or harmful to the patient. I don’t like that but that’s the way it is.

  117. #117 gl
    April 16, 2010

    Revere – so you want my money to pay for what you believe is the way things should be, but I’m not allowed to express my opinion or try and change the law. Wow. (referring to post #23 on the other thread).

    AnthonyK – nice try, but there is lots of disagreement on this thread alone by people who are pro-choice. No religion involved.

  118. #118 revere
    April 16, 2010

    gl: I don’t believe I ever said, nor do I believe, you should not be allowed to express your opinion. Express your opinion all you want. I think it is quite clear in that comment I am not talking about expressing opinions but about legally compelling someone to do or not do something. You and I both have a Constitutional right to express our opinions and I would not wish to abrogate that. That is a red herring and in no way addresses my points.

    I don’t want your money for the purpose of paying for something you don’t believe in. I want abortion to be a legal kind of medical treatment and if tax money pays for medical treatment it should be paid for. The Constitutional says the government may provide for the common defense but I don’t approve of the way it does it. That’s the way the world is at the moment and I would like it to be different and I will speak out on that issue. You may do the same on abortion. So far the law says that abortion cannot be made illegal for privacy reasons, but the ability to get an abortion can be impinged upon. That is cruel and counter to public health in my view and I will say so. You may and have argued to the contrary. You are creating a non issue that avoids talking about the existing issue.

  119. #119 bob koepp
    April 16, 2010

    revere – Your retort to gl regarding government monies supporting many things to which you have moral objections is too quick, and ignores a couple centuries of nuanced thinking about law and conscience. The traditional liberal take on this is that to trump freedom of conscience you need to make the case that it is necessary for the maintenenance of a well-ordered society; alternatively, that society would otherwise suffer irreparable harm. Again, traditionally, it has been argued that society/governments must have the ability to wage wars, to create and enforce laws to maintain the peace, to regulate commerce, to provide the infrastructure necessary to maintain the health, education and welfare of the citizenry. While I don’t find the arguments for some of these “trumps” persuasive, I at least can recognize that they are plausible, and that reasonable people could be persuaded by them. Now, where is the plausible argument that public funding of elective abortions is necessary to the maintenance of a well-ordered society? I don’t think such an argument exists. Finally, you end with “I don’t like that but that’s the way it is.” Just like a loss of words isn’t an argument, neither is submitting to “the way it is.”

  120. #120 vera
    April 16, 2010

    Revere, shouldn’t anybody be free to try to change the law they object to? Especially when as taxpayers they are forced to pay for stuff they consider immoral. The pro-lifers are doing as anti-war people are doing and others.

  121. #121 revere
    April 16, 2010

    bob: I am not only aware of these issues, but have gone to jail in one case and been a witness in a case involving the “necessity defense” in another. In both cases the law was applied and that’s the way the system operates. I did what I did and the law did what it did. The funding of abortions is not a Constitutional question. It is a question of laws and regulations within the Constitution, so “necessity” doesn’t apply. If it were the law, then refusing to obey the law would require a necessity defense. So I don’t understand your point at all. gl can refuse to obey the law and if there are criminal penalties erect a necessity defense. i can do the same regarding being drafted or paying taxes for war. Either of us can be successful or not, within the law., as I know quite well.

    vera: Of course. That, too, is a red herring. We are in fact talking about changing the law and I am speaking against it.

  122. #122 Ender
    April 16, 2010

    While this conversation, as said, has been mild compared to many on the net it has been enough to show that you, AnthonyK, are a rude moron so completely wrapped up in your own position that you cannot effectively communicate with people from the other side without laying out a bunch of undeserved aggression. How varied are the opinions of anti-choicers Anthony? Are they a homologous mass like ‘the Welsh’, ‘the Gays’ and ‘the Jews’? Because I’ve heard recent info that there’s some variety within groups that makes your kind of generalised anger into nonsense/

  123. #123 AnthonyK
    April 16, 2010

    Ah, more twaddle. The people on this thread are actually rather consistent a)we are quite clear that abortion is a choice entirely for the woman and b)it’s none of your damned business.
    Don’t like abortions? Don’t have one then.

    Because you are religiously motivated – and I have yet to come across an anti-abortionist who isn’t – you think that god requires you to enforce the church’s morality, and to force women to suffer the consequences of their “sin”. As for your tax dollars funding abortion, I doubt this is true (though I could be wrong, I don’t live in the US)- and that abortions are either paid for by organisations like Planned Parenthood, or paid for by the unfortunate woman. But please, someone correct me. I can’t quite believe that a nation which routinely denies healthcare to so many of its citizens will fund elective procedures.
    But once again, people like you, and Vera, routinely ignore the consequences of making abortions illegal – women dying, more unwanted children, etc etc.
    What pray, do you do to ameliorate the consequences of child poverty which your insistence on forced birth brings about? (And, of course, you’ll be anti-contraception, and anti-sex education – both of which increase the need for abortions.)
    Nothing, I bet. No, you preach, pray, and wave placards.
    And did I mention that you are an interfering busybody, lying for Jesus about your real views? Well, consider it mentioned.

  124. #124 bob koepp
    April 16, 2010

    revere – I didn’t say or imply that funding abortions is a constitutional issue, and the only “necessity” alluded to was what is necessary for a well-ordered society. Your comments about a ‘necessity defense’ suggest that you are confusing conscientious objection with civil disobedience — one can conscientiously object to something without breaking any laws. So I question whether you really are aware of the issues.

  125. #125 AnthonyK
    April 16, 2010

    you, AnthonyK, are a rude moron

    Sorry ’bout that. I just don’t like religious hypocrisy. And I’m not trying to tell people what to do with their own bodies, or their own families.
    Vera and gl are, as I’ve said, not being honest – they don’t want abortion under any circumstances (well, possibly rape/severe risk to mother) who want to force women to give birth because of their own “morality”.
    Sorry if it’s rude to point that out.
    And, hey, people get killed over abortions in the states, so a little robust argument is surely OK.
    And if Revere thinks I’m being over the top, then he/she/they can tell me so.
    But I’m really sorry for any offence caused to delicate readers ;)

  126. #126 Rob Monkey
    April 16, 2010

    Ender: how varied are anti-choicers opinions? Not varied at all, they want to restrict or eliminate the right to abortion, which is why they belong to the anti-choice crowd. Trying to equate this with homophobia or antisemitism is ridiculous. Call Anthony a moron all you want, at least he isn’t going Full Godwin on the thread jackass.

    Let me make another point clear: Nobody here is advocating that you anti-choicers don’t have the right to speak your minds (or fraction thereof). The mere fact that you have the opportunity to argue this on a PRIVATE blog is indication enough, so stop claiming persecution. If revere wanted to restrict what you said, he/she could have disemvoweled you or just blocked your posts, and given the fact that this is a private forum, you couldn’t say shit. However, he/she’s letting you publish your opinions freely, and you claim that we’re shutting you up? Seriously, grow up.

    Oh, and as a biologist, I’m happy to answer gl’s question regarding when life begins: it doesn’t begin or end, it’s a continuum. Unless you’re gonna try and tell me that eggs and sperm are dead until fertilization, there’s no scientific “beginning of life.” Here’s another little tidbit: science doesn’t have an opinion on ensoulment either, because it’s superstitious nonsense, and science is concerned with what we call “reality.”

    Oh, and vera? You didn’t “show” anything about late-term abortions. Again, since you are apparently hard of reading, you provided a link to a completely partisan website with some dubious news stories on it. The stories you had that actually had statistics in them were resounding arguments AGAINST what you call “reasoning,” but of course you didn’t address the many issues we brought up, because that would involve, ya know, thinking.

  127. #127 revere
    April 16, 2010

    bob: I don’t confuse them. I’ve done both. You brought up “necessity” and perhaps I mistook it for something else. But we are now mixing liberal notions of freedom on conscience with legal requirements. I’m no longer sure which we are talking about, so rather than go round and round, I’ll just state my position. I oppose making abortion illegal. If that means that someone’s tax money goes to pay for an abortion, that isn’t different than a lot of things where a person’s tax money pays for things they don’t like. If they feel strongly enough, there is nothing to prevent them from either refusing to pay the tax or to work to change the law so that it is not possible to use tax money in that way. I strongly object to the latter, for reasons made abundantly clear.

  128. #128 Ender
    April 16, 2010

    “I have yet to come across an anti-abortionist who isn’t”

    Nice to meet you. I don’t give two shits about what religious people have to say about abortion; if they can convince me that their version of reality is right then I have a lot more serious things to worry about, what with their usual attitude to homosexuality.

    “Vera and gl are, as I’ve said, not being honest – they don’t want abortion under any circumstances (well, possibly rape/severe risk to mother) who want to force women to give birth because of their own “morality”. Sorry if it’s rude to point that out.

    No, it’s not. Watch: The quote above is disingenuous, I’m sure you’re well aware that it’s possible to tell people what they think without calling them a liar, and that in fact you did so in that very quote. I doubt you’re lying, just typing with emotion rather than logic.

    I could have said: You’re a liar, any idiot knows how to converse without attacking the opposition, even when they’re lying – you just love the feeling of superiority you get from a good self-righteous telling off!

    The problem being the latter is not only rude and moronic like your earlier posts, but is also innaccurate and contains conclusions which imply I can read your mind and motivations, just like your earlier posts did.

    p.s. I can’t remember what they wrote but if you can find me a place they outright lied then quote it, but I don’t even remember either of them being disingenuous about their position, they both seemed squarely anti-abortion from the get-go. But I’m not that bothered by whether you’re right or not – even if it seems like you’re not – it’s the way you phrased it that failed.

    “And, hey, people get killed over abortions in the states, so a little robust argument is surely OK”

    Robust eh? Call a spade a spade do you? The thing about being rude to people in arguments (‘robust’) is that it adds nothing to your argument, purely in terms of the argument, therefore the only gain you can possibly make is a rhetorical advantage, better known as “the weak argument’s friend”.*
    I don’t care if people are being murdered in the states, I don’t care if babies are being aborted all over the world, it doesn’t make ad-homs and unsubstantiated attacks a valid or useful means of arguing.

    Revere can do whatever they feel neccessary, but my comment was not a plea to the mods, if I wanted to do that I would address them directly. My comment was to you and it was a criticism of you** and your posting style rather than a querulous demand for greater politeness.

    * Ok, no it isn’t, but it should be. If your argument stands up then that should be enough. The only people who stand to gain from rhetoric are those whose arguments would be transparently wrong were they properly examined.

    ** Criticising you based on these few posts is foolish, so I’m going to pretend that I was criticising ‘you as you come across here’. Yes.

  129. #129 vera
    April 16, 2010

    Oh, Rob, so looking up mainstream (including one in the American Medical News) reportage via a partisan website is just too awful to contemplate? Would that besmirch you for days on end? When I answered with more statistics you never responded.

    And you know what? People who have to resort to insulting the opposition have already lost the argument.

  130. #130 Ender
    April 16, 2010

    “Ender: how varied are anti-choicers opinions? Not varied at all, they want to restrict or eliminate the right to abortion, which is why they belong to the anti-choice crowd. Trying to equate this with homophobia or antisemitism is ridiculous. Call Anthony a moron all you want, at least he isn’t going Full Godwin on the thread jackass.”

    Well look you’re jumping into the conversation without thinking about what I was referring to in Anthony’s posts. Obviously I’m not suggesting that there is variety in whether they want abortion restricted/banned or not, they’re anti-abortion obviously.
    I’m saying that they aren’t uniformly right-wing, anti-medicare, anti-welfare, anti-contraception, etc etc. Which if you were giving a charitable reading of the post in the context of Anthony’s would have been obvious to you.

    Who’s trying to equate him with Hitler? I just said that making blanket statements about any group is uncharitable, illogical and wrong. Welsh, gay, Jewish, Christian, pro- or anti-abortion. I notice you’re focusing on the third in my list of three, reaching quite far to accuse me of Godwinning aren’t you?

    [stuff] oppression [stuff]

    I don’t know if you’re talking to me here, so I’ll be brief. If you are then point out where I’ve said I’m opressed. It’s not there.
    If not, well just don’t lump me in with people crying ‘oppression’ unless I do, ok?

  131. #131 AnthonyK
    April 16, 2010

    Ooooh dear, I’ve got you going, haven’t I?
    We started with Vera’s first little post along the lines of “I’m not anti-abortion but…”.
    It’s a classic, “I’m not a creationist but…”; “I’m not anti-vaccination but…”; it’s a ploy to seem reasonable. And, as time goes on, the unreason begins to fully surface and, through their posts, the glazed eyes of the fanatic become more and more evident.
    They’re not here to “debate” anything – hey, perhaps I’m not either – nor you – but I’m interested in what people have to say about the issue, and the problems of making sure that abortion is available, to those who want it, in the US.
    How do I “know” this – because I’ve seen it before, time and time again. And abortion posts attract them, with their tiresome moralizing “when does a fetus become a baby..my tax dollars…grisly…sex education…” like pilgrims to a relic.
    And once again, oh apparently unreligious defender of busybodies and self-appointed “tone policeman” – hey, what do you really care anyway, what the hell has it got to do with you if a commentator on a public health blog is rude to a few anti-abortionists?
    Yes I’ve been rude. So what? What do you have to say about maintaining abortion rights in the US (and, worldwide)?
    What do you have to add?
    Other, of course, than getting sucked into just the kind of “moronic” abuse you accuse me of, and introducing some egregious references to gays and Jews.
    So you’re not religious, but anti-abortion, eh? How does that work? What gives you, from a “non-religious” viewpoint the right to interfere and moralise?
    And, of course, deeply, deeply hurt my feelings…sniff..

  132. #132 bob koepp
    April 16, 2010

    revere – OK, we’re on the same page so far as being opposed to making abortion illegal is concerned. But there’s a huge gap between preserving legal abortion (which we now have in the USA) and public funding of abortion (which, for now, is very, very limited in the USA). I’m opposed to coercing support for elective abortions from people who have sincere moral objections to such abortions — because (1) I take seriously the principle of freedom of conscience and (2) I have not seen any plausible arguments that this is a case where freedom of conscience can be trumped.

  133. #133 AnthonyK
    April 16, 2010

    Sorry, not to be rude, for once, but tell me: if a woman has to get an abortion in the states, who currently pays? Or does it depend on the state they’re in?
    I just can’t imagine that even now the government would fund it themselves, seeing as there are so many uninsured sick people.
    I’m ignorant here – please enlighten me.

  134. #134 Leni
    April 16, 2010

    Vera wrote:

    Sciencenotes: I am sorry to hear it. There are fanatics out there, and I am sorry this doctor got the brunt of them. — Is there really need to be rude? I have shown earlier that electives were performed often enough for late term at least up to 1996.

    I’m really bothered that you dug up this old example and are using an example of bad behavior that is nearly 15 years old. This isn’t an argument against late-term abortions, it’s another red herring. We should be discussing how things are now, because that is what is relevant.

    This is exactly the sort of thing that has led me to believe that the anti-choice movement is inherently misogynistic. Yes, I know. You are a woman how can you possibly be a misogynistic, you support choice for early term abortions. And yet you assume that because women get late-term abortions for reasons other than saving their own lives they somehow deserve to be shamed? Why? What other reason than to demonize women?

    Note: In your (and pro-lifers defense in general), I think one can have a misogynist opinion or position and not necessarily mean it that way. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t responsible for it, just that I recognize there isn’t necessarily ill-intent. The same is often true about racist opinions. Most of us don’t want to have them, but we sometimes do, often without even consciously recognizing it or intending to. What is important is to acknowledge it and reject them. So no, I am not calling you a misogynist. I am saying that your comment was, though.

    Just for your information, here are some of the reason women gave for seeking late-term abortions:

    71% Woman didn’t recognize she was pregnant or misjudged gestation

    48% Woman found it hard to make arrangements for abortion

    33% Woman was afraid to tell her partner or parents

    24% Woman took time to decide to have an abortion

    8% Woman waited for her relationship to change

    8% Someone pressured woman not to have abortion

    6% Something changed after woman became pregnant

    6% Woman didn’t know timing is important

    5% Woman didn’t know she could get an abortion

    2% A fetal problem was diagnosed late in pregnancy

    11% Other

    Link

    Bolding is mine. What do you think the chances are Nebraska would include a clause to force doctors to determine if pressure not to have an abortion was the reason they took so long coming in? I’m going to guess vanishingly small. Because they don’t actually care about women. They care about punishing them and creating as many obstacles as possible.

    Note also that this survey was given in 1987. Perhaps these are even the statistics that your article, assuming it is accurate, applied. There will always be stupid people, there will always be people who make bad decision. But when I read that list I don’t feel like rolling my eyes and saying, more or less, “stupid bitches”. I feel compassion and sadness, but I think their reasons are largely irrelevant. Many of these reasons aren’t “bad”, but even if they are people make bad health care decisions all the time and yet we don’t punish them for it. Unless of course they are pregnant females.

    Anyway, this bill is appalling. There is an implicit assumption that women who seek abortions have been coerced or have mental problems and need to be “protected” by the state from making their own decisions about their own medical care. If that isn’t misogyny, I don’t know what is.

  135. #135 Leni
    April 16, 2010

    *sigh* I am apparently the worst proof-reader ever.

  136. #136 vera
    April 16, 2010

    Ender, arguing with rude trolls never goes anywhere. If we don’t feed them, they’ll go away, or blab on in grand soliloquies.

    One of the main strategies of a number of the people here has been to accuse me of endless kneejerk things… from voting for shitty Rep politicians, my supposed fantasies about souls, to being secretly against contraception and on and on. All bull, they just can’t seem to think without putting people in boxes. Anthony just put the icing on the cake for that kinda crap. When I ask them to show me where I indicated religious preferences or any other such thing I have been accused of, they have nothing to say.

    I’ve been straight with people here from the beginning: I am pro-choice in the first half of pregnancy, and pro-life in the second half.

    Leni, my comment was not intended to be misogynist. It was, however, snarky, and I said so earlier. Bad judgment on my part.

    I don’t think women who seek late abortions deserve to be shamed. I do think that the need for protection of the fetus in the second half of pregnancy becomes compelling. I am not able to think about the rest of what you write right now, but will address it later. I appreciate your even tone.

    Oh, one more thing. I gave the old stories as an example of what was going on. I have not followed things lately so I waited for people to tell me this is no longer the case. But from the way people here are invested in fudging the difference between medically indicated and elective, I am wondering now if it still goes on, and swept under the rug by that very same fudging.

  137. #137 revere
    April 16, 2010

    vera: I don’t think I’m fudging the difference between elective and medically indicated. I’m just not recognizing it for the purpose of deciding what is legal and illegal, remunerable and not remunerable with taxpayer money. It is a decision made by women and their doctors and not easily specifiable in advance for others and over which other people not involved in the decision might disagree. I have a bone spur on my first metatarsal that makes every step I take painful (and I walk a lot). No one ever died of a bone spur so surgery is not medically necessary or perhaps indicated, depending on what you mean by that. I’ve had it for years and decided I didn’t want to do anything about it. If I had had surgery, insurance would have paid for it. I decided not to, after talking with my doctor. It was my decision, though, and not yours.

  138. #138 Rob Monkey
    April 16, 2010

    Ender, sorry if I misinterpreted you, but I’ll point out that your comment regarding Anthony’s post was hardly clear. Even with rereading his comments, it wasn’t clear at all what you meant until you responded to me. As it is though, we’ll just have to disagree whether or not it’s unfair to ascribe these beliefs to the anti-choice crowd. In my experience, the people who want to limit a woman’s choice in abortion are also the ones who get squeamish about sex ed, don’t want to encourage condom use, etc. Sorry, but I haven’t met many people who advocate science-based sex ed in schools, condom distribution, AND restricting abortion. Kind of like how people who support gay marriage support gay adoption as well.

    And sorry, but you could have made your point much clearer by simply stating you don’t think these beliefs go hand-in-hand instead of referring to gays and Jews and such. Regarding whether or not it’s a Godwin, well you’re the one who brought up whether Anthony thinks all Jews think alike. If you want to avoid the Godwins, just don’t make the comparison. Especially considering the comparison isn’t at all apt. Oh, and is it really reaching that far to directly refer to an example you made? Even if it is 3rd on your list of 3?

    As to what you said about “[stuff] oppression [stuff],” no it wasn’t directed at you. Should I chide you for not reading all posts in their entirety, after all if you’d read them carefully you’d know whom I was referring to? In case you didn’t notice, my last post was answering you, gl, and vera, in this case I was answering stuff like this from gl: “you want my money to pay for what you believe is the way things should be, but I’m not allowed to express my opinion or try and change the law.”

  139. #139 bob koepp
    April 16, 2010

    revere – OK, so it was your decision to not have a pathological condition treated. How does this throw any light on questions about who should pay for elective abortions? Please clarify.

  140. #140 AnthonyK
    April 16, 2010

    I’ve been straight with people here from the beginning: I am pro-choice in the first half of pregnancy, and pro-life in the second half.

    So, just to get this clear – you agree with a woman’s right to abortion up to an arbitrary limit, and then you don’t?

    Because then, suddenly, it gets “grisly”?

    I still don’t believe you, and even if you are being honest – what gives you, or me, or anyone, the right to tell other women what to do?
    This is something you have never addressed…

  141. #141 revere
    April 16, 2010

    bob: The question was whether it was “elective” or “medically indicated.” It was both in this case, wouldn’t you say? My doctor actually said to me, “no one ever died of pain in the big toe,” which I took to mean he didn’t think it was necessary to fix it, but “do it if you want to.” I’m suggesting it is perhaps a false dichotomy.

  142. #142 ildi
    April 16, 2010

    Sorry, not to be rude, for once, but tell me: if a woman has to get an abortion in the states, who currently pays? Or does it depend on the state they’re in? I just can’t imagine that even now the government would fund it themselves, seeing as there are so many uninsured sick people. I’m ignorant here – please enlighten me.

    Private health insurance covers abortions. Federal funds can cover abortions in the case of rape, incest, or when the life of the women would be endangered by carrying the pregnancy to term. Some (17) states fund abortions for low-income women pretty much no matter what the circumstances. Otherwise it is an out-of-pocket expense ($300-900 in first trimester), or financial assistance from private organizations.

    Under the new health care bill, private plans that will be sold as health exchanges can offer coverage for abortion only if they offer it as a separate policy. Individuals or their employers will have to write two separate checks each month, one for the abortion coverage and one for all other coverage. Those premiums will have to be kept in separate accounts.

  143. #143 bob koepp
    April 16, 2010

    revere – I’m a bit puzzled by your apparent confusion about how terms like ‘medically indicated’ and ‘elective’ are being used. Are you really that unfamiliar with the medical-legal-ethical literature on this topic?

    FWIW, to say that an abortion is medically indicated means simply that in the instant case, an abortion would (likely) prevent or ameliorate some pathological condition(s). It manifestly does not mean that there is no choice about whether or not to have an abortion. In a similar vein, calling an abortion ‘elective’ isn’t to remark on the patient’s right to choose what procedures she will be subjected to — that’s a different sense of elective. In the present context, an elective abortion is simply one that is done for reasons that don’t qualify as medical indications, because they aren’t about preventing or amelioriating pathology.

    Now, I’ll grant that there’s a good deal of simplification in what I’ve just said about how the terms ‘elective’ and ‘medically indicated’ are used. And I’m not going to pretend that any definitions in this area perfectly robust or completely unambiguous. We don’t have the luxury of such definitions outside formal systems like maths and logics — so don’t look for them in the messy world of medicine. But despite inevitable ambiguities and borderline cases, if you can make sense of the difference between having and lacking _medical_ reasons, you should not be stumbling over the terms in question.

  144. #144 revere
    April 16, 2010

    bob: Maybe I’m just less sure than you. I’ve had quite a bit of legal experience and written on scientific evidence in peer reviewed journals, so I’m not unaware, as surprising as you seem to find it. Maybe that’s why I am not so quick to buy your contentions. Moreover you fail to specify context and as one changes context the terms mean different things. You do point out you are simplifying and the world is messy and there we agree. If you would like to cite me either statute or case law then we can discuss this in the legal context, but even then, in a different context would mean something different.

  145. #145 bob koepp
    April 16, 2010

    revere – The terms we’ve been using are not generally employed in statute or case law. They are commonly employed in what I’ve referred to as the ‘medical-legal-ethical literature.’ (The legal literature of interest is mainly in law journals. Statutes and case law are not the place to go to learn the reasons and the reasoning that underlies positive law.)

    I’m not sure which of my contentions you hesitate to buy. I’ve made some claims about how the liberal tradition has approached the issue of freedom of conscience that I don’t think are at all contentious. I’ve also been pretty insistent that my use of ‘elective’ and ‘medically indicated’ is pretty much standard usage “in the context of discussions about the place of abortion in medicine.” If you think that’s contentious, I can only repeat the invitation to check the literature to see whether I’m right about that. Or, maybe it’s my view that conscientious objections to elective abortions should exempt people from having to pay for those abortions that you don’t buy. Well, I’ve described in a rough and ready way what it takes to trump freedom of conscience. Again, what I presented is pretty standard fare in political theory, and I’ll seriously consider any similarly serious argument you present along those lines. Finally, we come to “context.” What context have I not specified (note that I quoted myself above about the relevant context…)? If you’ll explain what you mean by this, and how it’s affecting the meanings of key terms, I might be able to fill the gaps.

  146. #146 revere
    April 16, 2010

    bob: I know at least some of the legal literature because I’ve written it. I’ve published on ethics, medicine, evidence and been in court more often than most lawyers. So what you seem to be saying is that your usage is the accepted usage, and I am resisting your stamp of approval. Regarding context, when one talks about elective surgery it has a different meaning than elective abortion, wouldn’t you agree? Both are surgical procedures, done in hospitals. Also it depends on who is speaking and about what. That’s context. Clearly for some people the line between medically indicated abortions and elective abortions is as bright as for you. I am not persuaded by an appeal to Williams. Having written chapters in textbooks myself it is no guarantee of anything. As far as the liberal tradition, now we are in a different (non legal) context. I most definitely do not agree these are a matter of settled or even coherent “tradition.” But as a conscientious objector to war (both in the legal sense and the moral sense) the law was not at all inclined to accept my scruples nor were those scruples recognized as a legitimate expression of freedom of conscience. Maybe I just wasn’t traditional enough.

  147. #147 bob koepp
    April 16, 2010

    revere – I haven’t questioned your expertise, just puzzled about your resistance to acknowledge a usage that I’ve repeatedly said can be found in medical-legal-ethical literature “in the context of discussions about the place of abortion in medicine.” That’s hardly asking you to accept my stamp of approval, and I’ve been at least as specific as you in describing the relevant context where I said such usage is common. Also, I have not claimed that the line between medically indicated and elective abortions is bright, but have noted that there will be “inevitable ambiguities and borderline cases.”
    pax

  148. #148 ema
    April 16, 2010

    I don’t understand it. If it is just a bunch of cells, and there’s nothing wrong with abortion, why don’t we want it to happen?

    Because the alternative is better, medically speaking. For elective abortions, nonpregnant is better vs. pregnant, and for therapeutic abortions, healthy woman/pregnancy is better vs. a compromised one.

    I’m sure I’ll piss off everybody in the pro-life camp and probably most in the pro-choice camp as well by saying that for a number of years I used abortion as primary birth control and terminated four pregnancies.

    Speaking on behalf of both the “pro-life” and the pro-choice camps (yes, I’ve just appointed myself temporary spokesperson for both camps), let me assure you we’re not at all pissed. You made an informed health decision, based on your particular medical and life history. What’s the problem?

    Consequences of what I am advocating? After c. 20 weeks, no elective abortions. Hoo! The horror of it!

    Why c. 20 weeks, what’s the magical formula used to divine cut-off dates? As to the substance of what you’re advocating–perfect strangers forcing medical decisions on people based on arbitrary criteria–yes, that’s quite a horrible proposition.

    I am really at a loss of words when someone compares pregnancy to cancer….

    Yes, we got that you’re stumped by the biology of pregnancy. That doesn’t change the fact that implantation is indistinguishable form a neoplastic process.

    to provide the infrastructure necessary to maintain the health, education and welfare of the citizenry. While I don’t find the arguments for some of these “trumps” persuasive, I at least can recognize that they are plausible, and that reasonable people could be persuaded by them. Now, where is the plausible argument that public funding of elective abortions is necessary to the maintenance of a well-ordered society? (emphasis mine)

    There, you’ve provided your own answer. Abortion is a safe and effective medical procedure which significantly reduces a woman’s M&M. And, since the majority of women who have abortions already have children (61% have one or more children), abortion promotes the welfare of children by insuring they have healthy and happy moms to take care of them.

    I’m opposed to coercing support for elective abortions from people who have sincere moral objections to such abortions — because (1) I take seriously the principle of freedom of conscience and (2) I have not seen any plausible arguments that this is a case where freedom of conscience can be trumped.

    Can you tell us which box you mark on your tax return form to deduct that amount of your taxes that would go to support healthcare you have sincere moral objections to? And do people get to itemize their sincere objections–no money for blood transfusions, care provided by tall doctors or doctors with a C/S rate above 10%, pain meds in labor, transplants, etc.?

    If you have a plausible argument that it would be workable for the government to distribute tax funds based on the individual taxpayer’s morals rather than the recipient’s needs, let’s hear it.

  149. #149 vera
    April 16, 2010

    It looks to me like revere will continue his evasive dance till the cows come home, because his/her ideology trumps the rest of it. Being an expert does not exempt one from such foibles.

    There are abortions done for reasons of medical pathology (however slight) and those that have “other” reasons. It is in the interest of late term pro-choicers to blur this boundary so that the discussion keeps getting mired in the semantic confusion. IMO.

  150. #150 revere
    April 16, 2010

    bob: I didn’t conceive the disagreement as being about usage but about whether there is a distinction that is meaningful. But I will also say I am not convinced about the uniformity of usage, even in what you call the medical-legal-ethical literature, in the sense that the phrases you indicate always denote the same things. That is an empirical question, and in my experience not one I know the answer to (or frankly, not even sure how the answer would be arrived at). But let me ask this question: what is it you feel is so important that you must insist on this? What are the consequences of your position that it is important enough to take this time to argue it so persistently? This is not a rhetorical question. We’ve already agreed that we disagree on the matter of tax payer money going to pay for abortions because you want to sub divide abortions into your two categories and I don’t. My point was that your two categories are not as hard and fast as you make out and you are surprised I don’t think so, the implication being that there exist agreed upon notions that would allow anyone to tell if a particular abortion were medically indicated or elective, in your terms. I doubted that, so it is no good re-arguing it as neither of us has the empirical data. So what hinges on your being right? That seems to me to be a more important question.

  151. #151 vera
    April 16, 2010

    Ema said: Why c. 20 weeks, what’s the magical formula used to divine cut-off dates?

    The simple formula I use is midpoint pregnancy… that magical time when a woman begins to feel the quickening and to experience the fledgling human as real.

    As to the substance of what you’re advocating–perfect strangers forcing medical decisions on people based on arbitrary criteria–yes, that’s quite a horrible proposition.

    Are you saying that if someone decided to electively abort a fetus 2 weeks from delivery you would be in full support because anything else would mean force and arbitrary criteria, and therefore a horrible proposition?

  152. #152 vera
    April 16, 2010

    Revere, I have been turning your response #137 over in my head all day. I am honestly trying to understand you here so please tell me if I nail it wrong.

    Are you saying with that analogy that in your world, the late term fetus’s protection is no more compelling than the would be protection of a bone spur? Eh… now that I am writing it, it seems absurd. Let me try again… are you saying I have no more right to meddle in whether someone’s bone spur is rubbed out than if another soon to be born human is rubbed out? Maybe I am closer?

  153. #153 AnthonyK
    April 16, 2010

    The simple formula I use is midpoint pregnancy… that magical time when a woman begins to feel the quickening and to experience the fledgling human as real.

    Oh, thank heavens, at last – am expert in morality!
    (And beware what I have to say because I am, according to Ms Drake a “rude troll.” Just don’t feed me…)*

    So it’s down to you, is it Vera – you are the arbiter of when a woman can/can’t have an abortion. Well at least that’s easy to understand, unlike the real world, with real women in it.

    You’re a fraud. A died-in-the-wool anti-arbortionist trying to disrupt this thread with your meddling crap.
    And I’m a rude troll. Whatever.

    Listen, sweetpea, you tell us your prim opinions, straight from the pulpit (yeah, you aren’t religiously motivated, we know) but all you can do is criticize and scratch your snatch in wonderment at the real world.

    So, plese tell us, Ms Concern Troll, what is your solution to the problems of unwanted childbirth?

    I’m all ears.

    (It’s a genetic defect. No abortion then available)

    *I like steak, and fine wine (but no whining!)

  154. #154 Pierce R. Butler
    April 16, 2010

    That bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks based on the assertion that fetuses feel pain.

    I’m rather surprised that nobody here seems to have addressed that the core reasoning of this incredibly stupid and obtuse law is rooted in such a questionable assumption.

    Bart Stupak… made common cause with the far right and came close to scuttling any kind of health insurance reform…

    More to the point, he joined up with the opposition(-to-everything) party and with leaders of a foreign-based cult. Both of those, as Stupak may have figured out by now, regarded him as a useful but disposable pawn. He’s not just empathetically handicapped, but also strategically blind and morally vacuous (if your ethical guide is the Catholic Church, you are lost in the woods, baby).

    Does anybody else get the feeling that vera’s pro-choice credentials are about as believable as an evangelical troll’s declaration of having been a rabid atheist before turning on the jesus light?

  155. #155 revere
    April 16, 2010

    vera: No, you took it out of context. This was a conversation with bob about the meaning of medically indicated versus elective. I was pointing out that the distinction in some instances is not very clear. It had nothing to do with late term abortions except that is where the question of elective vs. medically indicated came up.

  156. #156 bob koepp
    April 16, 2010

    revere – Please be a bit careful not to misrepresent what I said about common usage — ‘uniformity’ is your word. I have not made the (absurd) claim that the terms we’ve discussed always denote the same things in the relevant literature.

    As for what is important to me about this, as I said above, it’s about the difference between having and lacking distinctively medical reasons on which to ground professional obligations. I also said something about the medicalization of reproductive decisions.

    Now, what hinges on your being right that a distinction between medical and other sorts of reasons cannot be maintained?

  157. #157 AnthonyK
    April 16, 2010

    Vera, lovely lady, shame about your hate-filled opinions, why not seek a respite from your endless knitting of garments for un-aborted fetuses, and join us over at pharyngula. It’s gentle, uncontroversial, and just….soft and cuddly. I think you’ll fit right in. :)

  158. #158 AnthonyK
    April 16, 2010

    Does anybody else get the feeling that vera’s pro-choice credentials are about as believable as an evangelical troll’s declaration of having been a rabid atheist before turning on the jesus light?

    Yup, me. And ab initio :0 :)

  159. #159 revere
    April 16, 2010

    bob: Nothing hinges on it. It wasn’t a distinction I brought up.

  160. #160 AnthonyK
    April 16, 2010

    Vera troll – oh, go on, give us more!

  161. #161 Cate
    April 17, 2010

    ‘Vera’ and ‘gl’ alternate — Vera’s role is to get someone to ‘admit’ that a late term abortion is wrong, so they can pounce with their slippery slope all the way to prohibiting contraception.

    I watched a woman dying from a botched illegal abortion in an ER in 1972 — she was young, poor, uneducated, had no choice. Her last lucid moments were filled with a detective’s screaming interrogation about legal issues while physicians tried to protect her. A year later, she could have lived out her full life.

    In 1969 I tried to help a friend gain freedom from an insane asylym where her right wing family had committed her to prevent her abortion — we were teenagers, so our pleas were ignored. She was never the same after being forced through a terrifying delivery of twins without friends or family.

    A few years ago, I sat with a catholic friend through a late abortion, the initial test for a devastating trisomy was false negative. Her pro-life friends and family believed she must have violated their lord’s will to have been so inflicted — that is what made her decide to abort.

    Superstitious fear of contamination from women’s ‘sins’ is the basis for the anti-abortion ferver. No other advanced nation has to deal with this insane behavior — abortion is settled law elsewhere.

    But here in the U.S., ‘pro-lifers’ are busy racking up self-serving credits to gain their ticket to heaven. Sort of like gaining access to those 73 virgins. Selfish. Cruel. Their only interest is for themselves, their god, and their rapture.

    If only we could use all of this effort to find a cure for cancer, to prevent dementias, to find the cause of autism, to prevent child abuse, to find a better treatment for MIs . . . the effort we have to expend on defending abortion draws our effort from lifegiving priorities. That is the only sin.

  162. #162 bob koepp
    April 17, 2010

    revere – saying that you didn’t bring up the distinction in question is no sort of explanation of why, if nothing hinges on it, you argued so persistently that it’s not a viable distinction. Could you be a bit more forthcoming?

    I’m not just trying to be a pest here, either. I’m raising issues that should be of great interest/concern to anybody claiming to be a healthcare professional. Hence, I will repeat, verbatim, my earlier challenge:

    For those of you who want to reject the traditional distinction between _medical_ reasons and other sorts of reasons, I challenge you to articulate some other grounds than medical indications that could ground professional obligations that are distinct to the health care professions.

  163. #163 vera
    April 17, 2010

    Revere, thank you. It did not make sense.

    Cate, the last damn thing I want is the return of back alley butcher abortionists. Are you all insane? I have a friend who went to Mexico, paid a lot of money, and came back, stuffed with gauze and still pregnant. A miracle she did not get infected, and that her baby was born normal. I lived under communism, you rude trolls. You think I want Ceaucescu’s regime where women were dying from self inflicted abortions and orphanages were bursting their seams from unwanted babies?

    What a want is a system where any woman can have an early abortion for any reason, because any other political arrangement turns into tyranny. I also want a system where a defenseless young woman is not a pawn to fanatics on either side, each of them pressuring her thataway because of their effing ideologies, and neither side paying attention to her needs and her life. I want a system where a young woman is not bullshitted by self-righteous pro-choicers to think that an early fetus is just a bunch of cells, or a cancer, or a booger, or that the *only* thing that matters in this decision making is her autonomy. That too is selfish and cruel!

    You want to make peace in America regarding abortion so that we can move on to better things? Then make peace with the actual people who believe different from you and with whom you inhabit the public sphere. Get your damn sheltered minds out of your dogmatic boxes and actually look. The pro-lifers are not going away, and they have a message that is important even though under wrappers that you think repugnant. Peace is not easy. But really listening to people, that’s where it begins. You wanna keep vilifying them? Be my guest. But then you’ve cast a vote for the abortion wars to continue.

  164. #164 revere
    April 17, 2010

    bob: I thought it was clear, but here I’ll make it explicit. Decisions about legitimate medical therapy are made by the medical professional and the patient together. When that decision is made by both, we are done. That’s been the usual method. There are legal restrictions that may or may not be applicable and may or may not be good (e.g., use of opiates). I don’t favor additional restrictions for pregnancy termination. Now it’s your turn.

  165. #165 bob koepp
    April 17, 2010

    revere – I agree that in order for a medical intervention to be “legitimate,” professional and patient must reach a “shared decision” for whatever intervention is chosen. That’s from day one of medical ethics (patient as partner, etc, etc). But I also want to emphasize that the fact that a professional and patient do reach such a shared decision is not, in itself, sufficient to make the intervention _medically_ appropriate, even if it is appropriate in terms of non-medical standards. So what else is needed? My view is that it has something to do with whether there are medical indications for the intervention.

    As for restrictions on pregnancy termination, I certainly haven’t called for any restrictions. Specifically, I haven’t claimed that an abortion must be medically indicated to be permissible. So how does your concern about restrictions on abortion relate to my distinguishing between medically indicated and elective abortions. There’s a missing premise here that I’d like to examine in the light of day.

  166. #166 revere
    April 17, 2010

    bob: The problem is that you demand the question be framed in your terms and I am resisting it. We are agreed on necessity and you want to establish sufficiency. I haven’t addressed that question because I am concerned that sufficiency for legal abortion be limited to shared consent. Trying to establish further requirements by law or regulation I believe to be inappropriate and likely counterproductive in a certain proportion of cases. That’s as far as I am going. Feel free to go beyond that but don’t require me to.

  167. #167 bob koepp
    April 17, 2010

    revere -
    I’ve framed the question in terms of the presense or not of medical reasons. If that is troublesome for a medical professional, then there are much deeper problems than are going to be addressed in a blog discussion.

    Sorry to have imposed on you.
    Socratically yours,

  168. #168 revere
    April 17, 2010

    bob: It’s not “troublesome.” It’s just a different question than I was posting on. I’m not an obstetrician (although I did in my training deliver 23 babies, long ago before Roe v. Wade) so I don’t have an opinion about medical indications any more than I do about modes of treatment for ovarian cancer. If you are asking an obstetrical question I’m not the person to ask. If you aren’t asking a question about obstetrics than I think I answered it. If you are asking generally about “medical reasons” then I am puzzled because you said you were asking specifically about the obstetrical situation.

  169. #169 monado
    April 17, 2010

    No, vera, not wanting to tell your parents isn’t a medical condition; being 13 is a contra-indication for childbearing.

  170. #170 monado
    April 18, 2010

    You mean no one will strap you down and perform an abortion on you in the U.S., if you’re compos mentis. But they will in China. It’s the corollary (logical outcome) of the state deciding that it owns your womb.

    Vera said that no one else came up with any references. Here are a few:

    After the murder of abortion provider George Tiller for doing third-trimester abortions, there were a lot of hysterical accusations about the number of abortions he did and the reasons for them. I looked for solid research on the reasons. I read the personal experiences of people who had to face third-trimester abortions. They wanted to have a baby, but genetic or developmental errors intervened. Given the frequency of these defects, Dr. Tiller probably did about a 100 – 200 a year, but that’s just a rough estimate on my part. It’s certain he didn’t do 60,000, which would keep him working feverishly every day for two lifetimes.

    The reasons they gave were basically the same as those I found in a research paper from 1999, on second-trimester and third-trimester abortions at one hospital over several years. Only “singletons” were studied, so none of the fetuses were conjoined twins (another often fatal, late-manifesting defect). About 2/3 were done in the second trimester and 1/3 in the third trimester. The reasons for a third-trimester abortion were:

    * In 40%, an earlier test indicated that a defect existed but not how serious it was. Doctors delayed and re-tested to see if the defect was serious enough to be life-threatening. Some genetic conditions can be mild or severe, so to prevent unnecessary abortions the doctors waited.
    * In 37%, an earlier test failed to find the serious defects that showed up later.
    * In 18%, a diagnosis for this kind of defect can’t be made until the third trimester. This often seems to include anencephaly, a fatal birth defect.
    * And in the remaining 5%, doctors or parents delayed the decision to abort. I correlated this with what I’ve read about doctors ordering yet another another test to make sure, waiting for a referral, parents not able to believe the news, having hysterics and going home, and praying for a miracle.

    Reference:
    Dommergues M, Benachi A, Benifla JL, des Noëttes R, Dumez Y., British Journal of Obstetrical Gynaecology, 1999 Apr;106(4):297-303. The reasons for termination of pregnancy in the third trimester. PubMed ID: 10426234.

    If third-trimester abortions are outlawed, some parents may choose earlier abortions when it’s not certain they are needed.

    Some critics mentioned club foot as a reason for abortion. Club foot means that at least one foot is turned in. It is not a reason for abortion, but it is a warning to screen very carefully for other health problems. The same goes for other deformities of the digits or limbs. Club foot is associated with spina bifida and anencephaly and other birth defects, some of them fatal.

    One defect that can be missed at the second-trimester scan is anencephaly, in which the brain fails to develop. It is uniformly fatal, often before or during birth.

  171. #171 monado
    April 18, 2010

    I missed the links!

    Reference:
    Dommergues M, Benachi A, Benifla JL, des Noëttes R, Dumez Y., British Journal of Obstetrical Gynaecology, 1999 Apr;106(4):297-303. The reasons for termination of pregnancy in the third trimester. PubMed ID: 10426234.

    Club foot means that at least one foot is turned in. It is not a reason for abortion, but it is a warning to screen very carefully for other health problems. The same goes for other deformities of the digits or limbs. Club foot is associated with spina bifida and anencephaly and other birth defects, some of them fatal.

    One defect that can be missed at the second-trimester scan is anencephaly, in which the brain fails to develop. It is uniformly fatal, often before or during birth.

  172. #172 ema
    April 18, 2010

    @vera,

    Let me make my claim “You repeatedly makes assertions but provide no supporting evidence.” and, you know, support it:

    You start off by stating an opinion:

    #4 There is no effing need for elective abortions late in pregnancy.

    There’s nothing wrong with offering an opinion, but this is a medical discussion so you need to define your terms (late in pregnancy?).

    You then pile on some assertions:

    #20 Folks, you are not paying attention. I said *elective” late abortions. As opposed to medically necessary. Last I checked into this, most late term abortions were done on medicaid women who, oops, just did not get their act together in time. And some of the pro-choice activists lied about it. This was early 90s, maybe things have changed since then?

    Again, you fail to define “late abortions” and you assert that (1) most of these unspecified procedures are elective, and (2) the reason for most of these procedures is [the women] just did not get their act together in time.

    You also throw in a mention some pro-choice activists who lied about something in the 90s.

    When asked to define your terms and support your assertions you ask people to google for the story of the activists anecdote:

    #24 Feel free to do a google search for the stories. It was quite a scandal. My guess is 1992 or thereabouts, and if I remember correctly, the agency that lied was in NJ.

    You then continue offering unsupported assertions:

    #30 There are only few [doctors offices] now that do late electives, simply because the woman requests it. Used to be more common before all the brouhaha.

    To the list of assertions–unnecessary elective “late abortions” are performed; woman just didn’t get act together is most common reason for procedure–you now add the “‘late electives’ used to be more common in the past” one. [Since I have no idea what the brouhaha refers to I can't tell if you refer to a specific point in time, so I'm going with "in the past".]

    Next, you offer an explanation as to why your scandalous activists anecdote is relevant:

    #31 Monkey: You want me to do the work for you, and to engage you on the substantives? Then be civil. The story [of the scandalous activists] was in covering up what I said: that most of the late term abortions were then medicaid electives.

    So, the story offers supporting data for the claim that most “late abortions” (in the 1990s?) where electives. We’ll come back to this story in a moment, but first you offer two links (#38) in support of your assertions. [The scandalous activists story is part of the first link.]

    Let’s take a look at the alleged evidence, shall we?

    The two links:

    I. The first is an article claiming that it’s not true that late abortions are done only for reasons of severe fetal abnormality, or threats to the life or health of the mother. Since the term late abortions is meaningless, the article sets out to refute a nonexistent claim. No matter, it’s not like we (and by that I mean me) have anything else better to do than read on.

    But just so we’re clear, this article refuting an imaginary claim was offered as data to support vera’s assertion that most “late abortions” (in the 1990s?) where electives.

    Back to the article (I), it offers the following:

    A) A denunciation from Ron Fitzsimmons, head of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, and a 1996 New Jersey newspaper article.

    If you examine the newspaper article A) is sourced to [the scandalous activists story], you find that the article, centered on the “partial-abortion” ban, makes a series of claims and offers no data whatsoever. Only assertions and opinions from second-hand sources (and I’m being generous here).

    From Ron Fitzsimmons, an assertion that “a federal ban would have almost no real-world impact on the physicians who perform late-term abortions or patients who seek them.” In support of his assertion he offers the following:

    – An assertion that the White House is now questioning the accuracy of some of the information given to it on this issue.

    – One Washington Post journalist taking the [pro-choice] movement to task for providing inaccurate information on the procedure.

    – An assertion that the vast majority of these abortions are performed in the 20-plus week range on healthy fetuses and healthy mothers [Even the anecdote he uses for this claim--he called around and found some doctors who told him something--doesn't support his assertion. What he says he learned as a result of those conversations was that the D&X procedure was being done for the most part in cases that did not involve those extreme circumstances. Nothing about healthy fetuses and healthy mothers, just a general statement about the degree of medical compromise.].

    – An anecdote that he can’t recall talking to any doctor who said, ‘Ron you’ve got to save us on this one. They can’t outlaw this. It’d be terrible.’

    – Another assertion that the real-world impact on doctors and patients is virtually nil.

    – A pronouncement You know they’re primarily done on healthy women and healthy fetuses….

    – Another anecdote about a 1995 interview he did with “Nightline”, most of which landed on the cutting room floor, when he says he “lied,” telling the reporter that women had these abortions only in the most extreme circumstances of life endangerment or fetal anomaly.

    So Ron Fitzsimmons offers no data to support, well, anything. [Since I'm probably already testing the patience of our host with the length of my comment, if you're interested in what ACOG and practicing physicians had to say about the ban on D&X, *under oath*, and the evidence used, go here for details.]

    Next the article asserts that the pro-choice activists’ claims about the number of and reasons for abortions have been discredited by the very doctors who do the procedures because in some newspaper interviews doctors who use the technique acknowledged doing thousands of such procedures a year. They also said the majority are done on healthy fetuses and healthy women.:

    The New Jersey paper reported last fall [1996] that physicians at one facility perform an estimated 3,000 abortions a year on fetuses between 20 and 24 weeks, of which at least half are by intact D&E. One of the doctors was quoted as saying, “We have an occasional amnio abnormality, but it’s a minuscule amount. Most are Medicaid patients. ..and most are for elective, not medical reasons: people who didn’t realize, or didn’t care, how far along they were.”

    First, there’s no mention of EGA in the physician’s quote, second in 1996 there were 539 @ 20 wks and 798 @ >20 wks procedures reported, for a total of 1,337 in the entire state. Double the number (to account for under reporting) and you still fall short of 3,000 procedures for all of NJ. Regardless, while it’s difficult to tell, based on the excerpt, what was happening at one NJ clinic, we’re still left with the unsupported claim that most “late abortions” (in the 1990s?) were electives.

    And that’s it for this article.

    B) A guess from 1996 from two Washington Post reporters as to the maternal/fetal indication for these abortions. [No access to source article.]

    C) The results of a small U.S. News opinion survey of abortion clinics officials.

    Briefly, because this was mentioned in #50, the survey does not …undermine[] another claim sometimes made by abortion-rights groups, at least with regard to the D&X issue: that late abortions are usually done for medical reasons…. The reporters called 31 of 79 clinics, only 18 responded (interview, no raw data) and of these only 3 performed D&X. Also, while the article tells us what definition of late abortion it uses (late = post-20-week and very late = post-26-week) and that for very late abortions medical reasons predominate, it has no data on EGA for D&X, only a general statement that for post-20-week abortions generally, about 90 percent were classified by the clinics as “nonmedical.”

    In any case, this is a bit of a digression since vera’s original claim was that unspecified “late abortions” (in the 1990s?) were elective, not about the type of technique used.

    D) An anecdote about discussions at National Abortion Federation meetings.

    E) A 1987 JAMA survey article with no information on late-term abortions. [The statement about the lack of info comes form the linked article since I didn't have access to the source article.]

    F) A Planned Parenthood “Fact Sheet”.

    G) Some anecdotes about specific abortionists.

    That’s it for link number one (I).

    II. The second link is an opinion piece about an alleged [p]ro-abortion media bias and has nothing about indications for late-term abortions.

    So, to sum up, vera never defines “late abortions”, claims that most of these undefined abortions (in the 1990s?) where electives, and offers (I) an article that tries to refute an imaginary claim with assertions, anecdata, and innuendo, and (II) an off-topic opinion piece about media coverage in support of her claim.

  173. #173 ema
    April 18, 2010

    As for what is important to me about this, as I said above, it’s about the difference between having and lacking distinctively medical reasons on which to ground professional obligations.

    Risk of death/yr: from continuing pregnancy to term–1:10,000; from [legally] terminating pregnancy–1:263,000*.

    Just because a lot of women routinely (and, may I point out, without any fuss or declarations of heroism) elect to assume the associated morbidity and mortality risks and carry a pregnancy to term we must not forget that terminating a pregnancy is more medically advantageous to the patient.

    *Williams 21 ed, p1518

  174. #174 ema
    April 18, 2010

    The simple formula I use is midpoint pregnancy… that magical time when a woman begins to feel the quickening and to experience the fledgling human as real.

    Do you have any data to support your assertions that (1) midpoint pregnancy is a magical time for pregnant women, and (2) pregnant women having pregnancy-related feelings and experiences renders them incompetent to make their own medical decisions?

    Are you saying that if someone decided to electively abort a fetus 2 weeks from delivery you would be in full support because anything else would mean force and arbitrary criteria, and therefore a horrible proposition?

    If the government forced a woman to abort a fetus 2 wks from delivery [perfect strangers forcing medical decisions on people] because it decided that pregnant women just can’t have a say in their medical decisions or because it deemed the fetus to be a demon baby [based on arbitrary criteria] I’d be appalled.

  175. #175 bob koepp
    April 18, 2010

    ema – First, I sincerely appreciate your efforts to employ actual arguments which can then be addressed, instead of relying solely on bile. For that, thank you.

    You emphasize the well known facts about the morbidity and mortality that accompany pregnancy (when viewed at the level of populations). It’s in virtue of these facts that pregnancy is recognized as a serious risk factor for women’s health — but it still is not classified as a medical pathology. Because of the way nature constructed us, normal biological functioning includes and presupposes the process(es) of normal pregnancy. That a process which is part of healthy functioning could pose significant risks to functional integrity may strike some as paradoxical, but it involves no inconsistency.

  176. #176 steve
    April 18, 2010

    As a man who will never have to worry about moralists interdicting my health care,

    Indeed, as one Canadian feminist put it (I para phrase): if men could get pregnant, there would be drive through abortion clinics.

  177. #177 Cate
    April 18, 2010

    The anti-abortionists do not possess enough self-reflection to perceive their obsessional need to control women. From a Freudian perspective: their primary control target was their mother, and having entirely failed in controlling her (She had sex after she conceived me?!), they must desperately struggle to attain control over all women. Achieving control over women because is the only way to maintain control over the destructive power of their omnipotent infantile rage, which –being pathologically egocentric– would tear the entire world asunder. The anti-abortion obsession allows them to ignore their stark disappointment about their own mundane reality. Can’t we see that they are saints?! The anti-abortion obsession gives them a sense of moral superiority over those us who do not aspire to such sainthood. That their effort must fail is the virtue of the challenge –if they achieved success their comforting obsession would stop.

    If anti-abortionists could ‘grow up’ psychologically, they would no longer need to snoop into women’s [their mother's] bedrooms and physician visits.

  178. #178 emat
    April 18, 2010

    …but [pregnancy] still is not classified as a medical pathology. Because of the way nature constructed us, normal biological functioning includes and presupposes the process(es) of normal pregnancy. That a process which is part of healthy functioning could pose significant risks to functional integrity may strike some as paradoxical, but it involves no inconsistency.

    I’m afraid I don’t understand your argument. Are you saying that since normal biological function includes pregnancy, the processes that are part of pregnancy (anemia, neoplastic invasion, inflammation, immunosuppression, etc.) no longer count as medical pathology? Medically speaking, pregnancy is not part of healthy functioning, it’s a state of extreme stress on, and a major disruption of, the system.

  179. #179 ema
    April 18, 2010

    #177 is me, no idea why it came out as emat.

  180. #180 ema
    April 18, 2010

    I also want a system where a defenseless young woman is not a pawn to fanatics on either side, each of them pressuring her thataway because of their effing ideologies, and neither side paying attention to her needs and her life.

    Can you name any (one?) pro-choice fanatics who have either successfully passed legislation to force women to have abortions against their will, or who’ve ignored the needs and life of pregnant women who elect to carry to term and threatened and harassed them, stole their prenatal records, blocked their access to prenatal clinics, or shot their Ob/Gyns in the head because they perform deliveries?

    And not to dissuade you from using silly propaganda, but if your hypothetical young woman is so defenseless that she’s unable to handle comparatively low-risk, straight-forward abortion decisions, she’s clearly not equipped to make prenatal or delivery decisions, not to mention parenting decisions. So, unless your position is that young pregnant women are, by definition, incapable of consent, accord them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are perfectly capable of making their own medical decisions, whatever those may be.

    I want a system where a young woman is not bullshitted by self-righteous pro-choicers to think that an early fetus is just a bunch of cells, or a cancer, or a booger, or that the *only* thing that matters in this decision making is her autonomy. That too is selfish and cruel!

    So you want a system where young women are lied to in medical matters? Well, you’re in luck! Pending legislation allows doctors who oppose abortion to lie to pregnant patients and not to disclose to them fetal abnormalities and bans malpractice suits against them. Needles to say, I for one totally support this “lie to patients without any consequences” movement and look forward to watching torters’ heads exploding in courtrooms across the country.

    You want to make peace in America regarding abortion so that we can move on to better things? Then make peace with the actual people who believe different from you and with whom you inhabit the public sphere. Get your damn sheltered minds out of your dogmatic boxes and actually look. The pro-lifers are not going away, and they have a message that is important even though under wrappers that you think repugnant. Peace is not easy. But really listening to people, that’s where it begins. You wanna keep vilifying them? Be my guest. But then you’ve cast a vote for the abortion wars to continue.

    Get your damn sheltered minds out of your dogmatic boxes! I want this on a t-shirt! To be worn once we, you know, make peace with the “pro-lifers” and agents of the totalitarian government advocated and installed by these most understanding, ideologically flexible, and cuddly of people come knocking on your door to administer a spot pelvic exam and TVUS against your will.

    Alternatively, we could just impose our dogma–pregnant women get to make their own medical decisions–and then spend our time really listening to the “pro-life” people’s message that it should be the government who decides who carries to term and who aborts.

  181. #181 bob koepp
    April 18, 2010

    ema – Yes, I’m saying that processes involved in pregnancy are part of healthy functioning for human females. Of course this doesn’t mean that every pregnancy is an instance of healthy functioning. As you have stressed, there are many ways in which a pregnancy could deviate from perfect functionality (an idealization if ever there was one), so whether organic processes are part of normal functioning, or pathological/pathogenic, or artifactual “background noise” devoid of functional significance is equisitely sensitive to context. Medical theory regarding function (health) and dysfunction (pathology) embraces this complexity.

  182. #182 Cate
    April 18, 2010

    bob koepp: What is your objective? Are you (1) for allowing women to make a decision on abortion with their physician, or (2) against? You are writing on other blogs that abortion is “usually” not medically indicated — which is counter to the facts. The question here is on decisions about medical care, not about the various levels of indication. A little clarity please.

  183. #183 Staceyjw
    April 18, 2010

    I’m 25 weeks pregnant right now, with a planned pregnancy, but if I found out there was something very wrong with the fetus (I call him Jack) I would much rather abort him NOW than be stuck with a burden for who knows how long. And yes, I do think that I should be able to choose to have a baby without major mental or physical defects. I am NOT a martyr, and shouldn’t be forced into an awful situation.

    As far as the timing of abortions, I think that birth is the only way to make a distinction, at this point. Of course it terrible to think a woman would willingly carry a fetus until 36 weeks before deciding to abort it, but I’m not willing to trade womens rights to their own bodies away for the 1 in a million chance some woman does something we all do find objectionable. (and I just don’t think this happens!!!)

    Vera-
    About those “caring” ANTI CHOICERS-
    “Pro-life” groups use the “chipping away” and “wedge” strategy in order to some day make ALL abortions illegal. They have no intention of compromise. They are slow but persistent, and are very dangerous to any woman that thinks they should have a right to NOT be a incubator. A few may be reasonable, but as a whole the movement is against women’s rights all together. What they really want is a return to the days before feminism- with women submissive to husbands, as breeders without rights- its sounds extreme, but read enough of their literature, and you will see it yourself.
    *-*-

    People wonder WHY, if these anti-choicers think abortion is so evil, they don’t support programs that avoid pregnancy in the first place (real sex ed, contraception). While they also believe there are biblical reasons against these things, the real motive is more practical and sinister. Anti-choice xtians have NO desire to lower the rate of unwanted births, they instead pressure women into adoption through crisis centers and often abusive tactics.

    http://www.exiledmothers.com/adoption_facts
    /robbing_the_cradle.html

    http://www.abortionaccess.info/chooselie.htm

    This is also one of the reasons why they don’t support social programs to keep the babies with their mothers, like WIC, etc. They just want women to birth babies for them to give to xtian families wanting children, since the rate of adoptable babies plummeted with Roe v Wade. Its sickening. (And these centers are being federally funded, which is WRONG.)

    And I don’t want to hear “adoption is the answer”, anyone that spouts this has never had anything to do with an adoption. Its great in many cases, but is not a solution for all unwanted pregnancies. A LOT of hurt and grief goes with it, but of course, anti-choicers don’t care a lick about the MOM. (After all, according to them, she’s probably a sinning whore deserving of punishment anyway).

  184. #184 bob koepp
    April 18, 2010

    Cate – What’s the confusion? I’ve argued here, too, that abortion is usually not _medically_ indicated — please note the emphasis on ‘medically.’ This is contrary to what facts? I don’t suppose, as most of my critics seem to mistakenly infer, that there should be restrictions placed on abortions that are not medically indicated. They should read and/or think more carefully. In fact, I’m trying to wean people off the idea that they need some sort of _medical_ rationale to justify an abortion. That idea contributes to the continued medicalization of reproductive choice, something that I think is contrary to the interests of women.

  185. #185 Cate
    April 18, 2010

    bob koepp: You are a libertarian?

    You have a horse in this race. I am just trying to understand what that horse is.

  186. #186 ema
    April 18, 2010

    I’ve argued here, too, that abortion is usually not _medically_ indicated — please note the emphasis on ‘medically.’

    How is intervening to resolve a condition that impairs the patient’s system not *medically* indicated?

  187. #187 bob koepp
    April 18, 2010

    I am an anarchist in what I view as the tradition of Thoreau, Tolstoy and Gandhi. In other words, I’m strongly biased in favor of individual freedom, and that includes freedom for women. Inapproriate medicalization can foster dependency on a medical-industrial complex that doesn’t have our best interests at heart. As I stated very early in this discussion, “I hope I live long enough to see safe, effective over-the-counter abortifacients that will expand access for women seeking abortions and get the medical profession out of the way.”

    Be that as it may, whatever horse I have in this race is irrelevant to the truth of what I’ve said or the soundness of the reasoning by which I’ve arrived at my beliefs.

  188. #188 Cate
    April 18, 2010

    ema: Who was that politician who said that women’s health care should be exempted from health care insurance because he, and other men, did not need it? I am getting a sense that koepp is of that ilk!!!!

    For a short time, Columbia’s student health service used that reasoning to make us pay for anything they could designate as ‘female meds’ — e.g., headache relief at any time of the month, etc. Whereas, male students were given care for any and all problems. Their female meds policy lasted for a VERY short time . . .

  189. #189 bob koepp
    April 18, 2010

    ema – What is the “impairment” in the patient’s system that is to be resolved? Remember that what would be an impairment outside the context of the biolgical processes involved in reproduction might be part of normal functioning within that context.

    But let’s look at this from a different angle. If termination is medically indicated for most (all?) pregnancies, why don’t healthcare provessionals routinely prescribe termination to pregnant patients?

  190. #190 bob koepp
    April 18, 2010

    Cate – Your speculation is wrong. It says more about your ability to assimilate information and reason coherently than it does about me.

  191. #191 Pierce R. Butler
    April 18, 2010

    ema @ # 179: Pending legislation allows doctors who oppose abortion to lie to pregnant patients and not to disclose to them fetal abnormalities and bans malpractice suits against them.

    Ye gawds. Is that national or state-level, where and by whom?

    Are the ob-gyns who actually care about their profession’s reputation speaking up?

  192. #192 ema
    April 18, 2010

    Inapproriate medicalization can foster dependency on a medical-industrial complex that doesn’t have our best interests at heart.

    Heh, don’t hate on the medical-industrial Ob/Gyn complex, some of it is down-right adorable.

    ema: Who was that politician who said that women’s health care should be exempted from health care insurance because he, and other men, did not need it? I am getting a sense that koepp is of that ilk!!!!

    Cate, good one! That was Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-AZ).

    But let’s look at this from a different angle. If termination is medically indicated for most (all?) pregnancies, why don’t healthcare provessionals routinely prescribe termination to pregnant patients?

    Advising patients of the risks of, and alternatives to, pregnancy, is routine. And since we’re not, you know, “pro-lifers”, once the woman has made an informed decision to carry to term we don’t assume she’s an utter moron and force her to watch abortion techniques movies before allowing her into prenatal care. [This last part is not directed at you. I just thought it an appropriate place to insert a mini-vent.]

  193. #193 ema
    April 18, 2010

    Ye gawds. Is that national or state-level, where and by whom?

    It’s an Oklahoma state law and it was sponsored by state Sen. Todd Lamb (R), SB 1878 (the relevant part is on p15 3 C).

    More on the current status of the law here (struck down by a judge on a technicality; sponsor plans to appeal and, if he loses, to reintroduce the various parts of the bill as separate pieces of legislation).

  194. #194 ema
    April 18, 2010

    @Pierce R. Butler,

    Um, I tried to post the info but it’s held up in moderation. Not sure why.

    It was a short comment with only a couple of links, but let me try to post it without the direct links:

    It’s Oklahoma state law 1878 and it was sponsored by state Sen. Todd Lamb (R) [http://www.sos.state.ok.us/documents/Legislation/51st/2008/2R/SB/1878-Veto&Override.pdf] (the relevant part is on p15 3 C).

    More on the current status of the law here (struck down by a judge on a technicality; sponsor plans to appeal and, if he loses, to reintroduce the various parts of the bill as separate pieces of legislation).

  195. #195 ema
    April 18, 2010

    @Pierce R. Butler,

    Sorry, I tried to post the info twice and both times it ended up held for moderation.

    It’s an Oklahoma state law (1878) sponsored by state Sen. Todd Lamb (R). Do you want to email me for the links?

  196. #196 Paula
    April 18, 2010

    Staceyjw, I am so sorry to hear this of your hoped-for baby. Clearly, no person, law, or group should have any right to to prevent your, or any woman’s, aborting of a foetus in this situation. And as a woman familiar with adoption, I strongly back your argument on the suffering it nearly always causes the child’s mother. Sometimes for the child the outcome is good, or even very good, but not always, and the risk of injury to other family members (grandparents, siblings, etc.) has not been adequately studied. And those unable to see the “colonialism” or piracy involved in much adoption might just look at the 1980s Argentine film “The Official Story” (English trans) to see how real that can get.

  197. #197 Cate
    April 18, 2010

    bob koepp — Nope. You are playing coy guessing games, so we are guessing – silly us. Let’s stop: Tell us what your horse is. Oh, come on . . .

    ema — Yeh, I knew. The ‘different angle’ person is throwing a straw man into the mix. Misdirection is beloved by people with antisocial agendas.

  198. #198 Pierce R. Butler
    April 18, 2010

    ema @ # 193 – thanks, but you’ve given me enough clues to Google with (and eventually our esteemed hosts will allow your links to slide through).

    Is Oklahoma trying to take over the coveted position of America’s Bad-Government Laboratory from Texas?

  199. #199 Cate
    April 18, 2010

    Pierce, ema, et al — Utah proposed a law that makes a miscarriage illegal if the mother took any risks.

    My miscarriage fit their crime definition — I continued playing a tough sport thinking I’d have an easier pregnancy and recovery. I was not a criminal, nor selfish — just unlucky.

  200. #200 ema
    April 18, 2010

    @Cate

    I actually started a post about that Utah law (H.B. 462). Sadly, it’s still in the bottomless pit that is my drafts folder. It’s the first time I saw a law making pregnancy termination a homicide and then tacking on a few exceptions to maintain plausible deniability.

    Unfortunately, as you noted, miscarriages (and ectopics) aren’t covered under the exception so patients can be charged with a felony offense.

    And there’s more. The law prohibits abortion in cases of rape and incest unless the victims file a police report prior to seeking medical care, and the treating physicians verify that a police report has been made.

    Also, performing abortions outside a hospital setting is no longer allowed.

    Good times for pregnant women in Utah.

  201. #201 Cynical
    April 18, 2010

    The weird fact is that the same things that make me so pro-abortion — empathy for the patient — also forces me to identify with the intense commitment of the anti-abortion movement.

    Given a hypothetical question of a fire breaking out in a laboratory, with a baby in a child seat next to a freezer with 1000 frozen embryos in it of which they could carry out only one of the two, anti-choicers uniformly opt to save the one baby and let the thousand embryos die.

    These people do not believe what they claim to believe. The leaders are hypocrites and the followers are unthinking cattle, stupid but loyal to the herd and very dangerous when stampeded. They need TO BE committed.

  202. #202 Cactus Wren
    April 19, 2010

    No, they don’t, Cynical: in my experience, every time I put forward that or a similar thought experiment, anti-choicers pretty uniformly wiggle and whine and backpedal and say things like “Well how would IIII know where they were!” or “I would do BOTH!”

    (Honest. My version had two vehicles about to roll into a river: one had a child in it, the other a cooler full of embryos. My interlocutrix whined such things as “I wouldn’t even know the cooler was in there!” and finally came down on the side of the child, but argued that it was all right because divers could go down later and “rescue” the cooler.)

  203. #203 monado
    April 19, 2010

    The only reference I’ve seen on the issue of paying for abortions was in the notes to Mandatory Motherhood by Garrett Hardin. The conclusion was that every dollar spent on providing abortions saved $130 in welfare costs. And that was done years ago; I imagine that welfare is more generous now.

  204. #204 ildi
    April 19, 2010

    Yes, I’m saying that processes involved in pregnancy are part of healthy functioning for human females.

    Well, that’s your first mistake.

    At the turn of the twenty-first century, there were substantial differences in maternal mortality. According to Women’s International Network News figures, the number of maternal deaths worldwide per 100,000 live births is 430, with a sharp division between developing countries, where the maternal mortality ratio is estimated to be 480, and developed countries, where the ratio is 27. These ratios can be translated into women’s lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy/pregnancy-related reasons: 1 chance in 48 in the third world contrasted with 1 in 1,800 in developed countries. The highest maternal mortality levels are found in eastern and western Africa; Mozambique’s maternal mortality ratio is among the highest in the world at 1,500. The lowest levels occur in northern Europe.

    Maternal mortality is the result of any number of complications that beset pregnant women worldwide. The most common direct causes of maternal death are severe bleeding (25%), infection (15%), unsafe abortion (13%), eclampsia (pregnancy induced hypertension, often accompanied by seizures, 12%), and obstructed labor (8%).

    Evolutionary advantage for the species does not necessarily translate to ‘healthy functioniong’ for the individual.

  205. #205 DD
    April 19, 2010

    The people who passed this law are the same people who said health insurance reform would put a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor. This degree of hypocrisy is impressive for Nebraska. Almost up there at the national level.

  206. #206 gl
    April 19, 2010

    “Given a hypothetical question of a fire breaking out in a laboratory, with a baby in a child seat next to a freezer with 1000 frozen embryos in it of which they could carry out only one of the two, anti-choicers uniformly opt to save the one baby and let the thousand embryos die.”

    Stupid game.

    If the pro-abortion person who wanted a child was told there was a 50/50 chance of it being undesirable, would they keep the child or abort? Or if there was a vehicle about to roll in the river with two babies in it, one with Down’s syndrome and one “healthy”, which would you save? And if you didn’t know which was which, then what would you do?

    Don’t answer. It’s a stupid game.

  207. #207 SC (Salty Current)
    April 19, 2010

    If not based on science, then what should laws be based on?

    The evidence shows that restrictions on abortion do not reduce the number of abortions; they do, however, lead to thousands more deaths among women, leaving thousands more children without mothers. What does reduce abortion rates is provision of reproductive education and services.

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

    If you claim to be “pro-life” yet advocate authoritarian legislation that does nothing to help people, doesn’t reduce abortions, and results in much suffering and hundreds of thousands of women’s deaths, you are a liar.

    Incidentally, the US, where policy in this area is made on the basis of stupidity, is, fortunately, an outlier:

    http://reproductiverights.org/en/document/download-a-ten-year-retrospective-reproductive-rights-at-the-start-of-the-21st-century

  208. #208 vera
    April 19, 2010

    Cate: “if your hypothetical young woman is so defenseless

    The young woman I write of is someone I once knew well. In the culture of my youth, it was far more common for young women to be pressured by their families to have an abortion than the other way around. That this could be a problem seems to be completely missing from this discussion.

    Get your damn sheltered minds out of your dogmatic boxes! I want this on a t-shirt!

    Unfortunately, it does not work on a t-shirt. You actually have to take the mind out of the box.

    Stacey: here is your chance to talk with a pro-lifer who does not believe any of those things you pillory. What are you going to do with it?

    Bob koepp: when I brought up the fact that most late pregnancies are terminated for non-medical reasons, they called me a liar, demanding proof. When they defended Dr Tiller, they claimed that he did not do late electives. And right below described pregnancies he did that clearly are elective. It seems that playing semantic games is more important than honesty. It is one thing to say, most late abortions are elective, and I am ok with that. It is quite another to play dishonest games with people, and using the terms in ways neither mainstream medicine nor laypersons use them. But that is the nature of fanaticism, to twist and turn and admit nothing.

    The discussion has taken an eerie turn, with people who style themselves as defenders of women claiming that pregnancy itself is a medical abnormality. Creepy.

  209. #209 gl
    April 19, 2010

    #206

    You didn’t answer the question.

    I could surmise from your answer that you take a sort of “ends justify the means” approach.

    Is that a fair assessment? Please feel free to correct.

    (or would you rather just exchange a bunch of “you’re lying”, “no, you’re lying” posts?)

  210. #210 SC (Salty Current)
    April 19, 2010

    You didn’t answer the question.

    What? The answer was science – a reasoned evaluation of the evidence. I thought that went without saying, as my sentence began “The evidence shows…”.

    I could surmise from your answer that you take a sort of “ends justify the means” approach.

    Please explain. The evidence shows that restrictions do not reduce abortions, but do increase suffering and death. On the other hand, other policies do decrease abortions. If your end is promoting life and or reducing abortions, then on what basis do you adopt restrictions on abortion as a means?

    Is that a fair assessment? Please feel free to correct.

    It doesn’t even make sense. Are you denying the evidence as presented in those reports?

    (or would you rather just exchange a bunch of “you’re lying”, “no, you’re lying” posts?)

    If you claim to be “pro-life” yet advocate authoritarian legislation that does nothing to help people, doesn’t reduce abortions, and results in much suffering and hundreds of thousands of women’s deaths, what life are you “pro-,” exactly, in action?

  211. #211 Nomen Nescio
    April 19, 2010

    laws should not be based on science (alone), for the same reason that ethics can’t be based on science (alone). science describes what is; ethics — and to a lesser degree, laws — deal with what ought to be.

    laws, specifically, deal with what is and should be accepted behavior in society, and what the proper punishment for unaccepted behavior ought to be. merely knowing how nature works (which is science’s particular specialty) doesn’t really tell us much about how to live as human beings in a human society. so no, laws should not be primarily based on science.

  212. #212 SC (Salty Current)
    April 19, 2010

    laws should not be based on science (alone), for the same reason that ethics can’t be based on science (alone). science describes what is; ethics — and to a lesser degree, laws — deal with what ought to be.

    To be clear – I wasn’t arguing anything different. When I said “science,” I meant that our knowledge of the evidence is essential for decision-making, not that the is-ought distinction doesn’t hold.

  213. #213 gl
    April 19, 2010

    Thanks Nomen. Exactly. Ethics.

    I would add that science is rarely final. Often one study will dispute another.

    I also notice, SC, that you went from thousands of women dying in the first post, to hundreds of thousands women dying in the 2nd post. I hope those who provided the evidence you cited do not also engage in hyperbole.

  214. #214 SC (Salty Current)
    April 19, 2010

    Thanks Nomen. Exactly. Ethics.

    Ethical decisions fundamentally include an appreciation of the consequences of our actions/policies. These are scientifically determined.

    I would add that science is rarely final. Often one study will dispute another.

    Wow. How dishonest. What have you got?

    I also notice, SC, that you went from thousands of women dying in the first post, to hundreds of thousands women dying in the 2nd post. I hope those who provided the evidence you cited do not also engage in hyperbole.

    First, that’s demonstrably wrong. The phrase in my second post was a cut-and-paste from my first; there was no change. And it is hundreds of thousands, you disgustingly callous scumbag. Tens of thousands per year (“Complications due to unsafe abortion procedures account for an estimated 13% of maternal deaths worldwide, or 70,000 per year”). You can look at the link to see the sources. But what do their lives matter to you?

    You might want to read this report:

    http://reproductiverights.org/en/document/in-harms-way-download-the-report

    You are sickening. You have no sympathy and no genuine desire to help people. I’m done with this. I’m sure reasonable and ethical people can recognize you for what you are from that last post.

  215. #215 ildi
    April 19, 2010

    I also notice, SC, that you went from thousands of women dying in the first post, to hundreds of thousands women dying in the 2nd post. I hope those who provided the evidence you cited do not also engage in hyperbole.

    The number is estimated to be 70,000 per year.

    The discussion has taken an eerie turn, with people who style themselves as defenders of women claiming that pregnancy itself is a medical abnormality. Creepy.

    Pregnancy is not the normal state, and puts a huge physical burden on a woman’s body (your mileage may vary). It’s basically a short-term parasitic condition that becomes symbiotic long-term because of the genetic benefit to the species.

  216. #216 Nomen Nescio
    April 19, 2010

    i think SC and i are in complete agreement, actually. scientific methods can be enormously, crucially valuable in determining what manner of laws are helpful or useful in reaching a particular legislative goal, even if science can’t help us decide on what goals are worth striving for. it’s regrettable that laws are so often made more to score political points and get power-hungry jackasses reelected, rather than to efficiently reach a societally desirable goal.

    if we really wanted to save lives, then clearly comprehensive (and early!) sex education, coupled with easy and cheap availability of prophylactics and abortion, would be the way to go. as well as a single-payer, universal healthcare system, and a number of other things — all of which can be scientifically demonstrated to save lives and improve quality of life by a number of measures. but, practically speaking, we — and those whom we elect to make laws on our behalf — are not primarily interested in saving or improving human lives.

  217. #217 SC (Salty Current)
    April 19, 2010

    Before I go…

    gl’s version of ethics:

    “I recognize that women have unintended pregnancies for any number of reasons – including ignorance, fear and lack of power, lack of access to contraception, inability to afford contraception, inability to support a(nother) child, physical or psychological problems, risks of pregnancy, desperation leading to sex work, rape. But surely some pregnancies are of women who are guilty? Punishing them for their sluttiness and selfishness is of primary importance to me, even if it doesn’t reduce abortions (and therefore save the “lives” I claim to care about) and results in the suffering, infertility, and deaths of many women, including those who are ‘innocent’, and many children losing their mothers. Even if it means denying women basic human rights. I haven’t the faintest clue what ethics or basic humanity are.”

  218. #218 SC (Salty Current)
    April 19, 2010

    Er, I combined some points incorrectly in my previous post:

    “I recognize that women have unintended pregnancies for any number of reasons – including ignorance, fear and lack of power, lack of access to contraception, inability to afford contraception, inability to support a(nother) child, physical or psychological problems, risks of pregnancy, desperation leading to sex work, rape….

    A little angry at the moment.

    i think SC and i are in complete agreement, actually. scientific methods can be enormously, crucially valuable in determining what manner of laws are helpful or useful in reaching a particular legislative goal, even if science can’t help us decide on what goals are worth striving for. it’s regrettable that laws are so often made more to score political points and get power-hungry jackasses reelected, rather than to efficiently reach a societally desirable goal.

    if we really wanted to save lives, then clearly comprehensive (and early!) sex education, coupled with easy and cheap availability of prophylactics and abortion, would be the way to go. as well as a single-payer, universal healthcare system, and a number of other things — all of which can be scientifically demonstrated to save lives and improve quality of life by a number of measures. but, practically speaking, we — and those whom we elect to make laws on our behalf — are not primarily interested in saving or improving human lives.

    Yes.

  219. #219 vera
    April 19, 2010

    Well. The same person who just pelted another human being with insults spews out a lecture on ethics. The eeriness continues.

  220. #220 SC (Salty Current)
    April 19, 2010

    Well. The same person who just pelted another human being with insults spews out a lecture on ethics.

    Well. Another ass who hasn’t a clue what morality is.

  221. #221 Nomen Nescio
    April 19, 2010

    an overriding concern with form and tone above substantive points is the sign of someone with no substantive points to make and no way to respond to their opponents’ points. or a concern troll. in neither case is it a sign of anybody worth the trouble of reading.

  222. #222 ema
    April 19, 2010

    The young woman I write of is someone I once knew well. In the culture of my youth, it was far more common for young women to be pressured by their families to have an abortion than the other way around. That this could be a problem seems to be completely missing from this discussion.

    Insuring that the patient makes the decision to terminate of her own accord is part of standard pre-op counseling.

    Unfortunately, it does not work on a t-shirt. You actually have to take the mind out of the box.

    But how will we know what to take our mind out of if you don’t provide any examples of this fabled dogma?

    Bob koepp: when I brought up the fact that most late pregnancies are terminated for non-medical reasons, they called me a liar, demanding proof.

    And you still haven’t defined “late pregnancies” or provided any proof for your assertions.

    When they defended Dr Tiller, they claimed that he did not do late electives. And right below described pregnancies he did that clearly are elective.

    Since you continue to claim that Dr. Tiller performed “late electives”, do you have access to evidence that was not available to the jury who found your claim baseless, or to the former AG who stole the patient charts and had unrestricted access and years to prove your claim yet managed to fail miserably at that task?

    It seems that playing semantic games is more important than honesty. It is one thing to say, most late abortions are elective, and I am ok with that. It is quite another to play dishonest games with people, and using the terms in ways neither mainstream medicine nor laypersons use them. But that is the nature of fanaticism, to twist and turn and admit nothing.

    Alternatively, the nature of fanaticism is to 1) make claims about medical matters, 2) refuse to define the terms, 3) fail to provide data, 4) heap a ton ‘o projection on your interlocutors, 5) fail to acknowledge reality and adjust accordingly.

    The discussion has taken an eerie turn, with people who style themselves as defenders of women claiming that pregnancy itself is a medical abnormality. Creepy.

    What is it about biology that gives you the creeps? There’s nothing to fear from anatomy and physiology; no bad juju or magic. Just some body processes to be studies, understood, and dealt with accordingly, nothing more, nothing less.

  223. #223 Cate
    April 19, 2010

    vera: I did not say what you quote as mine:
    @207 [[Cate: “if your hypothetical young woman is so defenseless”
    The young woman I write of is someone I once knew well. In the culture of my youth, it was far more common for young women to be pressured by their families to have an abortion than the other way around. That this could be a problem seems to be completely missing from this discussion.
    “Get your damn sheltered minds out of your dogmatic boxes! I want this on a t-shirt!”
    Unfortunately, it does not work on a t-shirt. You actually have to take the mind out of the box.]]

    Kindly direct your comments at the correct person.

    I do oppose your position on late abortion:
    The women who receive late tragic test results are the very ones who you want to force to continue an unviable pregancy.

    We are not discussing Downs here, do you know anything about the more serious trisomies and all of the other devastating birth defects? Have you been in a NICU? Have some humanity. Your desire to punish these women is just plain cruel.

    As to women being pressured to abort: if abortion was restricted the pressure would remain the same, but they would be forced to use backalley abortionists. Birth control improvement is a high priority in public health.

    The highest rate of abortion is among evangelical Christians, Catholics, and other conservative Christian women — much higher than those of us who are not Christian or are tolerant Christians. Many of those women are forced to not use birth control, then forced to have an abortion . . . then their leaders lie that they are protecting us from abortion. They know the abortions are a lot closer to home.

    The fury of the anti-abortionists is that they fail at controlling their own women. So they hunt down all of us.

  224. #224 bob koepp
    April 19, 2010

    There’s nothing creepy about biology, but there’s plenty creepy about people posting to a science blog who distort biology for political purposes. For those of you who claim that pregnancy is a pathological condition, please cite relevant medical texts.

  225. #225 gl
    April 19, 2010

    Nomen –

    Where do ethics come from? Is there a universal code of ethics, or does it depend on the person? For example, how does one decide it is wrong to steal?

    My goal, as you can probably guess, is to demonstrate that the pro-life stance can be defended without resorting to religion. I would use the term natural law. I’m not sure if you subscribe to that. If you don’t, on what basis would you say that something (stealing, killing, etc) is wrong? And I will see if I can defend it on that basis.

    (not that I expect to ever come to agreement in these comboxes, but my goal is clarity, not agreement).

  226. #226 revere
    April 19, 2010

    bob: I think what is being said is quite clear. Pregnancy alters physiology. You are very concerned about whether it is concerned physiology or pathophysiology and depending on context it could be either it seems to me. If your concern is primarily with medicalization of pregnancy then that’s a particular point. It might have an overlap with abortion in some cases and not others. But if pregnancy is not a medical condition, then there’s no need to have doctors attend it and historically they haven’t done so as a matter of routine. They do now. That may be good or bad, but when they do, it’s not because they are doctors in your way of thinking. It’s just because something might go wrong and the pregnancy is suddenly a medical condition, i.e., it was a risk factor for a medical condition. Hypertension is also a risk factor for medical conditions. Aging is, too. What separates these things in your way of thinking (I won’t accept that some are mentioned in books as medical conditions and others aren’t)?

  227. #227 revere
    April 19, 2010

    gl: what about capital punishment? Is it against natural law? incest? Divorce? Homosexuality? Just curious. If the law is natural to you, these should be pretty easy.

  228. #228 nomen-nescio.myopenid.com
    April 19, 2010

    Where do ethics come from?

    humans create them.

    Is there a universal code of ethics

    not that anyone has ever been able to demonstrate, no.

    For example, how does one decide it is wrong to steal?

    there are several possible ways to come to that conclusion. i’m personally partial to a social-contract approach, but that’s just me. of course, some would conclude that theft is not wrong, or at very least not in all cases (and the latter has some very strong arguments for it, needless to say); i would disagree with the extreme anarchist position of property itself being theft, however.

    to make a long discussion hopefully somewhat shorter, i’m an ethical relativist/subjectivist and generally partial to mostly descriptive and consequentialist reasoning, although i do take motives into enough consideration that i quite despise most forms of utilitarianism. (that might be irrational on my behalf, however. it may be more of an aesthetic judgment than a metaethical one.)

  229. #229 gl
    April 19, 2010

    I believe the answer is yes in all cases. (but this is not my field, so I would need to do some research).

    And what system would you use instead of natural law to define the law in these situations?

    If people are interested in that sort of discussion, I would be willing to do some research and build up a case. I would not be able to express it nearly as well as some others, but I would give it a shot.

    Just to be clear, my assumption is that even if natural law would disagree with, for example, homosexuality, it in no way implies it should be criminalized. There is a huge difference between that and abortion.

    And to further explain, my position that abortion should be illegal in no way means that the women seeking abortion should be criminalized. I fully believe in providing a support network for women in those difficult situations.

    I’ll stop there, as lots of assumptions have been made, and I’m sure this may trigger lots more. But if anyone is interested in dialogue and clarity (not agreement or conversion), I’m willing to continue.

  230. #230 Calli Arcale
    April 19, 2010

    gl @ 89:

    “No one wants abortions to happen” (AnthonyK)

    I see a lot of pro-choice people make that or similar claims. I don’t understand it. If it is just a bunch of cells, and there’s nothing wrong with abortion, why don’t we want it to happen?

    Because it’s more than just a bunch of cells — it’s a bunch of cells which, if given the proper conditions, can become a whole, unique human being, and that is a precious thing indeed. Similarly, the mother is more than just an incubator and life support system for that bunch of cells — she is a whole, unique human being, and a precious thing indeed.

    The trouble with being a placental mammal is that there is an extremely crucial period in our development where we parasitize another member of our own species. This gives us huge competitive advantages, but it also means that it’s extremely difficult to sort out the ethical considerations. You can’t just say “ball of cells” or “baby”, because in fact it is both, and you can’t just say “never kill or injure” because when it comes to pregnancy, it’s hard to do something good for one without hurting the other.

    anon @ 90:

    I know that people like to ignore all the inconvenient coincidences that put women in situations like mine. And I’ll agree that such coincidences are probably rare. But the point is, you can never foresee all possibilities. No amount of “support” would make it a perfect world without the need for “elective” abortions. And not wanting to have a child is as valid a reason to terminate a pregnancy as any “medical” one.

    Sure there could be support that you could have which would have made all that unneccesary, but it involves a lot more research into reproductive medicine. (That is to say, the support is theoretically possible, but it doesn’t exist today.) For all the hullaballoo, contraception has really only made modest, incremental advances since the 1950s, when the Pill was introduced. You say you’ve tried several pills and Nuvaring….they’re all basically the same thing, though, with only subtle differences in doses. They’re still crude, and can’t really be tailored to individual women.

    That said, I think your case is one of medical indication. You don’t piss me off for having abortions; few people really understand the seriousness of clinical depression, and I think it is a valid reason for not continuing a pregnancy, if pregnancy aggravates it. For me, pregnancy improved it, and I did not experience any more than a several-hour bout of crying in the hospital. I count my blessings, because I have been suicidal at other times in my life. I know what could have happened.

    I knew a gal in high school who had polycystic ovaries; at the age of 17, she was so frustrated with the pain and discomfort (she also had endometriosis, which was aggravated by the hormonal fluctutations) that she actually had a radical hysterectomy done. That my have been a bit extreme, since of course it meant going through menopause at 17, but she was much happier after it was done. She would have been much happier, though, had there been a non-surgical alternative, preferably one which would have left her fertile.

    vera @ 107:

    Paula, it’s interesting you bring up the Catholics. They used to, I have heard, teach prohibition against abortion only after the quickening, midway through pregnancy. It seems to me a reasonable and intuitive line to draw. Sometime more recently — 20th century? — they changed their tune.

    It was intuitive in the Middle Ages. It’s not anymore. It was deemed as the time when the baby is first felt to be moving; this was when they held that it was “ensouled” as the soul was what caused it to move. (This was a departure from older beliefs, which held that the soul entered with the first breath. The word “spirit”, in fact, means breath, and this is the view that permeates the imagery of the Bible.) So they were moving forward, scientifically, by recognizing that the baby is alive before it is born. But all they could really know was whether or not there were perceptible movements. This usually happens sometime between the 14th and 24th week, though some babies are more or less active. (My second was surprising — by the 14th week, she was moving so vigourously that she could be *seen* moving. Seriously. Probably not a surprise that 2 days before her due date, she kicked through the sac, breaking it.) Worse, not all women realize that what they are feeling is the baby and not gas, so how do even *mothers* reliably know when the baby has quickened?

    But now we know that the baby moves earlier than that; it’s just far too weak for the mother to feel. You could use ultrasound, but what if you look while the baby is sleeping? They don’t move all the time. And then, what do you consider “movement”? Does the heart count? Or the migration of stem cells? They *do* move. That’s semantics, not science. And on the other hand, is the movement at 14 weeks actually intentional? Is the baby sentient? That’s nearly impossible to answer.

    So no, this is not a reasonable and intuitive line to draw. The mere fact that quickening could occur anywhere in a two-month period alone indicates that it’s not really terribly precise. I think it’s much better to say that the baby is alive when it is conceived, and so from that point on, there aren’t any easy ethical answers.

    (That’s not to say there aren’t answers. They just aren’t easy ones.)

    Ender @ 130:

    I’m saying that they aren’t uniformly right-wing, anti-medicare, anti-welfare, anti-contraception, etc etc. Which if you were giving a charitable reading of the post in the context of Anthony’s would have been obvious to you.

    This bears repeating. Just because someone disagrees about abortion doesn’t mean they share a whole bunch of other views that one also disagrees with. My mother is fond of this argument; “anti-abortionists don’t care about women or children, which is why they don’t provide prenatal care or adoption services”. But it’s a strawman; while some certainly are like that, many others are not, and I don’t think being opposed to abortion is neccesarily a good indicator of one’s political affiliation.

    Truthfully, I think when it comes to abortion, most people have much more nuanced views than we expect. We only expect the stereotyped views because of the loud and raucous debates between polar opposite activists. It’s like thinking the world is divided up into Sea Shephard activists and whalers.

    monado @ 169:

    No, vera, not wanting to tell your parents isn’t a medical condition; being 13 is a contra-indication for childbearing.

    Case in point: a child bride in the midest (Yemen, I think, where crushing poverty is driving many parents to essentially sell their daughters as brides to more economically fortunate men) recently perished after laboring for several days to give birth. She was 13. The youngest person to give birth (on record) and survive with no serious long-term problems (and the baby lived too) was 6, but she was clearly an outlier. The majority of young mothers have serious problems in labor.

    monado @ 170:

    One defect that can be missed at the second-trimester scan is anencephaly, in which the brain fails to develop. It is uniformly fatal, often before or during birth.

    During his career, my father delivered two babies who were anencephalic. Same mother, but it was probably just really horrific bad luck as it’s not usually a genetic thing. (There is a lot of stuff that just falls into the “shit happens” category when it comes to fetal development.) Both times, the mother had had an ultrasound; in neither case was it detected. Mother was *devastated*. It doesn’t help that these babies look . . . well, very profoundly wrong. They have faces. Their bodies are generally normal. But a large part of the skull is . . . absent. There can be a fluid-filled sac there, which may resemble a brain on ultrasound. They move in utero. (vera, do you want to reconsider the idea of quickening being a good demarcation, considering that brains aren’t obligatory for it?) But they do not survive. Strictly speaking, vaginal birth will usually be a safer method for removing the baby, but it has its own risks, and it involves a lot of effort on the mother’s part for a baby which is not going to survive.

    steve @ 176:

    Indeed, as one Canadian feminist put it (I para phrase): if men could get pregnant, there would be drive through abortion clinics.

    I’ve heard that before, but disagree — if men could get pregnant, I suspect we’d live in a female-dominated society. Pregnancy is the main justification for social structures in which women aren’t in control of their own sexuality, after all.

    ildi @ 203:

    Evolutionary advantage for the species does not necessarily translate to ‘healthy functioniong’ for the individual.

    Very true. Good examples: dragonflies and damselflies reproduce entirely through rape (with females sometimes being decapitated in the process). So do aphids (which lack birth canals, and so the babies actually explode out of the mother’s abdomen). The male anglerfish parasitizes the female, with all his organs (including the CNS) atrophying away until he is just a sperm machine. Some salmon, most notably the highly prized Pacific salmon, reproduce only once in their lives, struggling upwater and finally dying so that their offspring might live, hatching in waters made rich by the decaying corpses of their parents. Ovovivparous give birth to just two pups — because they’ve eaten all of their siblings in utero. Male bees have only one function, and if the hive is in any distress at all, they are sacrificed. Research has found that male preying mantises who stick around long enough to be decapitated and eaten by the female are far more successful in reproduction than those that get away (partly because his headless body will keep going at it until she nibbles down far enough that the body dies).

    These are all normal things, good for the species, but absolutely ghastly for the individual.

  231. #231 nomen-nescio.myopenid.com
    April 19, 2010

    my position that abortion should be illegal in no way means that the women seeking abortion should be criminalized.

    why on earth would you not criminalize a person who seeks out, pays for, and willingly undergoes a procedure you would have made illegal?

  232. #232 Calli Arcale
    April 19, 2010

    Personal anecdote about need for late-term abortions:

    I know one woman who had a late-term abortion. She had been diagnosed with cancer. The chemotherapy would’ve been devastating to her baby, but had a high chance of curing her if it was started quickly. She had a choice: her or the baby. It was too early to try to induce. So she had a surgical abortion, and then underwent chemo. Bear in mind, this was a *wanted* pregnancy. A planned one, even. She was devastated, but determined to live. She later got pregnant again. She has two children today, neither of which would be alive now if she had not had a late-term abortion. (I believe she was around 20 weeks, but am not sure of the exact timing.)

    There are no easy answers. Vera likes the arbitrary cut-off of the quickening. It has simplicity in its favor, but little else. Why is a younger child not worthy of saving? Why does a mother after that point have fewer rights? Why are indolent children punished for simply not kicking as hard? It doesn’t solve the basic problem, which is that you have two lives, both of which deeply affect the other.

    Another easy answer, commonly given, is “viability”. But this is not really any better than quickening, when you look at it. It, too, is not a clearcut point. “24 weeks” is often cited as an average, and there are laws (existing or proposed) which point to that as a cutoff. It’s true, babies are generally better able to survive outside the womb after 24 weeks. But prematurity is not something to sniff at. If a mother at 25 weeks develops eclampsia, the only way to save her life is to end the pregnancy. Most doctors will recommend either induced labor or, if she’s going downhill fast, emergency c-section. This is followed, inevitably, by heroic efforts to save the baby’s life.

    But this is a disturbing area which the pro-life movement has not really paid enough attention to. Neither has the pro-choice movement. The most vocal elements of both are too stuck on the pregnancy part, and tends not to look much at labor and beyond, as if the ethical quandry is gone once the baby makes it to a live birth. But the quandries really don’t go away, and for the extremely premature, the ethical nightmares may be only just beginning. People are talking about fetal pain — but how much attention is being paid to pain in the NICU? What resources are nurses being given as they carry out doctor’s orders? There is also the problem of not enough equipment in preemie sizes, especially for the tiniest preemies. It’s not just using maxi pads for diapers. Many of these babies need to be intubated or receive naso-gastric tubes, and there isn’t always equipment in an appropriate size for their itty-bitty bodies. I remember the damage my brother suffered from being intubated much older, as a normal-sized four-month old. He would’ve died otherwise, but it damaged his trachea and he needed a tracheotomy and a series of reconstructive surgeries. How many preemies endure months of agony, only to die? How many endure months of agony and then go home, sick, injured, liable to need care for the rest of their lives? We know about the ones who make it, the success stories. But how many suffered for those successes, and is it worth it? Are we prepared to answer that question? Even as many elderly sign orders not to intubate, how many preemies are suffering what we refuse to suffer ourselves, simply because they are too young to express an opinion?

    Is life really worth all costs?

  233. #233 vera
    April 19, 2010

    Cate: my apologies. The relevant comments were directed at ema.

    Cate: “The women who receive late tragic test results are the very ones who you want to force to continue an unviable pregancy. We are not discussing Downs here, do you know anything about the more serious trisomies and all of the other devastating birth defects?”

    Of course, the fact that I have never opposed medically indicated late abortions does not stop you from blathering on, trying to smear me with your fantasies. How do you live with yourself? ;-)

    Ema: The Dr Tiller postings began with sciencenotes’ comment #106, who said he researched it at some considerable depth. If you are interested, you can follow the discussion from there on.

    SC: “Another ass who hasn’t a clue what morality is.”

    Could be. I do understand, though, that people who launch into morality lectures while bullying people with insults are not credible. You’ve heard of hypocrisy, haven’t you?

  234. #234 bob koepp
    April 19, 2010

    revere – Lots of things “alter physiology” without being pathological. So, the point is… ?

    When I questioned your calling pregnancy a ‘medical condition,’ I was careful to qualify that by saying, “if by that label you mean it is a medical pathology.” So the fact that it’s a condition where heightened medical concern is appropriate is hardly to the point, and not something that I’ve disputed. (I don’t understand your question about “what separates” risks factors like hypertension and aging — if you clarify I might be able to respond.)

    Also, while I am concerned about medicalization of reproductive decisions/behavior, my main interest is in the the scope and content of professional responsibilities and privileges in the healthcare arena. I persist in my view that distinctively _medical_ reasons, which make an appearance in the clinical context as “medical indications,” are relevant to these issues.

  235. #235 Paula
    April 19, 2010

    Monado, way back in #112 or so, you wrote “. . .every dollar spent on providing abortions saved $130 in welfare costs. And that was done years ago; I imagine that welfare is more generous now.” Unfortunately, even that stingy welfare program, AFDC, was dissolved 20 or so years ago in the long rightward push; currently, single or poor mothers can, if lucky, get a temporary workfare pittance. Theirs are the babies whom the “pro-life” people want born but don’t, apparently, care if receive adequate, or even any, infant/toddlerhood/preschool sheltering or nourishment.

  236. #236 Cate
    April 20, 2010

    vera: A trisomy 18, though devastating to the fetus, is not a medical indication for abortion. The pregnancy can continue to term without harm to the mother if spontaneous abortion does not occur. The postpartum lifespan is up to 2 weeks, so most elect abortion. Having NICU experience, I am against having a legal level added to any parent’s decision on abortion.

    You said your previous ad homium comments were directed at another person but then you claimed I was “blathering on”, that I “tried to smear” you, that I have “fantasies,” and: “How do you live with yourself?” Please resist. You are addressing professionals on a professional blog.

  237. #237 Ender
    April 20, 2010

    “I’m saying that they aren’t uniformly right-wing, anti-medicare, anti-welfare, anti-contraception, etc etc.”

    This was quoted for truth earlier, and I’m quoting it again for emphasis, bc when things like:

    “The fury of the anti-abortionists is that they fail at controlling their own women. So they hunt down all of us.”

    are said again it seems like you’re trying to paint with broad brush strokes, and either an ignorance of the breadth of opinion on the other side, or sufficient anger to sabotage the accuracy of your own comment by generalising wildly.

    p.s. professionals on a professional blog would be more impressive if their posts were of a higher quality, don’t appeal to authority when we can see your inadequacy for ourselves.

  238. #238 gl
    April 20, 2010

    Nomen: “why on earth would you not criminalize a person who seeks out, pays for, and willingly undergoes a procedure you would have made illegal?”

    One analogy would be that it is like someone who accidentally runs over someone else with a car. No crime was committed because there was no intent. I assume someone seeking an abortion does not believe they are taking a life, so the intent is not there.

    Thanks for answering the other question. As an ethical relativist – correct me if I am wrong – that means even though we disagree both our viewpoints are valid?

    Let me go on another tangent. I think we agree that law is based on ethics informed by science (but probably disagree to the degree science informs us).

    For example, I do not believe laws about stealing are based on science. So some laws do not depend on science at all.

    Also, I think science is limited in scope. For example, science can not quantify love, laughter, hate, smiles, sadness. If we solely use science to describe how someone feels if their son is lost in a war, or how someone feels when their gesture of love is rejected, or how someone feels who lives alone and is never visited by anyone, science just can’t do it.

    I also believe science is limited in how it can define life. It reduces it to clinical terms. Sort of like saying I’m married to an organism rather than a human being.

    So I don’t think we can limit ourselves to science when defining life.

  239. #239 Nomen Nescio
    April 20, 2010

    No crime was committed because there was no intent. I assume someone seeking an abortion does not believe they are taking a life, so the intent is not there.

    so if i rob you at gunpoint. but don’t believe you’re handing me any real money, i am not really an armed robber? you want to criminalize the act of getting an abortion; trust me when i say most women getting one know exactly what that is, what they’re doing, and whether it’s legal in their jurisdiction. letting them off because they don’t agree with you about why it should be illegal is a form of relativism, applied to the field of law, so extreme that even i must call it out as rank hypocrisy.

    As an ethical relativist – correct me if I am wrong – that means even though we disagree both our viewpoints are valid?

    depends on what you mean by “valid”, and on what we’re disagreeing about. “validity” is a term of art in logic, but it doesn’t very well apply to ethics; and if we disagree on anything that isn’t strictly an ethical value judgment, again, things may be different.

    I think we agree that law is based on ethics informed by science

    no; it’s usually based on politicians’ ideas about what’ll get them campaign contributions, not ethics, and it’s only too rarely informed by science.

    i don’t even agree that law should be based on ethics, at least not in all cases. ethics has a much wider — and different — scope than law, and often makes tyrannical law. for instance, it’s (very often, though not necessarily) unethical to cheat on your spouse, yet adultery ought not be illegal.

    I also believe science is limited in how it can define life. It reduces it to clinical terms. Sort of like saying I’m married to an organism rather than a human being. So I don’t think we can limit ourselves to science when defining life.

    there’s only one direction you might be headed with those sentences, and i should give you fair warning: i’m also a strident atheist, down the lines of (and i often find myself agreeing with) P.Z. Myers.

    “life” can be quite adequately defined by science. this other thing you’re slinging around implications about, it needs its own word and definition — don’t try to sneakily roll it up into “life”.

  240. #240 gl
    April 20, 2010

    Sorry Nomen – you are more precise than I. I am not as well versed. And I pay the price in these comboxes. But what the heck, it’s one way to learn.

    From a legal standpoint – I would probably hold the doctor liable. But I’ll leave it to the experts to work out the details. I’m sure you’ll smack me down for being imprecise again.

    From a moral standpoint – that’s where the intent comes in. But as you stated, there is a difference between law and ethics.

    And apparently I am still unclear on what you think law ought to be based. If you want to develop your point of view, I’m listening.

    And if believe that life can be adequately defined by science – you’re right, that doesn’t leave much room for discussion. But I guess I’m surprised. How does science define love? Because I think you’ll agree that part of being human is the ability to love. (I’m not trying to convert you to my postion – just looking for what we can agree on).

  241. #241 bob koepp
    April 20, 2010

    Cate complains about ad homium (sp) comments, “You are addressing professionals on a professional blog.”

    Right… When professionals find themselves unable to respond to arguments they speculate about the motives of their interlocutors. That’s professionalism, don’t you know…

  242. #242 Nomen Nescio
    April 20, 2010

    i’m not very interested in the field of law, not even as much as i’m interested in ethics. as a practical matter, law (in a democracy) seems to be based on a chaotic mixture of public opinion (at least as it is expressed), moneyed interests’ lobbying, and pragmatism. ethics might influence the first factor to some degree, but it’s not always a constructive influence.

    life is (comparatively) easy to define. (so long as we don’t stray too deeply into microbiology, anyway.) love is not, but love is not a necessary factor of what construes life. plenty of things live without any nervous system capable of either generating or experiencing such emotions, after all. there are lots of really nice, even emotionally necessary, things which are not strictly speaking necessary for life.

    I think you’ll agree that part of being human is the ability to love.

    now we’re straying away from both defining life (there are many living things that aren’t remotely human) and from a clear definition of “human”. clinical sociopaths, for instance, have such a twisted and damaged emotional life that i’m unconvinced they’re capable of “love” as we would recognize it; are they not human? that question may or may not be rhetorical, i’m honestly unsure myself.

  243. #243 ildi
    April 20, 2010

    How does science define love? Because I think you’ll agree that part of being human is the ability to love.

    I’m always surprised when people bring up love as an example of something that science can’t explain. What magical properties do you think love has that defies study? Here’s one summary of some research:

    Romantic love is associated with specific neurochemicals and brain regions. Specifically, romantic love and attraction is associated with high activity of dopamine and norepinephrine and low activity of serotonin (Fisher, 2004). fMRI studies have identified brain areas activated and deactivated when people view pictures of their romantic partner compared to when they view pictures of their friends of the same gender, age, and relationship length. Brain areas activated include anterior cingulate cortex, cerebellum, insula, posterior hippocampus, putamen, caudate nucleus, and ventral tegmental area (Bartels & Zeki, 2000; Fisher, Aron, & Brown, 2006). Brain areas deactivated include posterior cingulate gyrus, amygdala, and right prefrontal, parietal, and middle temporal cortices (Bartels & Zeki, 2000; Fisher, Aron, & Brown, 2006). Both the caudate nucleus and ventral tegmental area are part of the brain’s dopaminergic ‘reward system’ (Fisher, Aron, & Brown, 2006). In addition, studies of cocaine and opioid induced euphoria also show increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, insula, caudate nucleus and putamen, which are the same areas activated by romantic love (Bartels & Zeki, 2000). These fMRI studies posit the idea of ‘romantic love as an addiction’ because the brain areas involved in reward pathways and in euphoria are also recruited in romantic love.

    Romanic love often involves a strong attachment between two individuals. Neuropeptides associated with such attachment include oxytocin and vasopressin. In females, oxytocin is associated with mother-infant interaction, partner preference, offspring preference, and nonsexual social contact (Young & Wang, 2004). In males, vasopressin is associated with mating preferences, paternal care, and partner preferences (Young & Wang, 2004). Oxytocin and vasopressin have been studied in prairie voles that form lasting monogamous pair bonds with one another, and, these neuropeptides are also implicated in the monogamous social attachments that humans form in their relationships.

  244. #244 Ender
    April 20, 2010

    so if i rob you at gunpoint. but don’t believe you’re handing me any real money, i am not really an armed robber?

    This was addressed at someone else, but I’d say yes… sort of. It’s not really comparable because if you thought you were stealing monopoly money you’d still be an armed robber, just one stealing pointless things.
    If, say, I told you that the gun I’ve given you is a prop, and that you’re part of a performing arts circle, then send you into a room to ‘rob’ someone of fake money as part of our performance – but I’m lying and it’s a real gun and real money that you actually steal… then no I wouldn’t say you were an armed robber, I’d say you had been misled and did not know what was going on.

  245. #245 gl
    April 20, 2010

    Thanks ildi – that was kind of my point. Science can define it – but, well, it doesn’t really capture it, does it?

    And Nomen – I don’t think I’m necessarily straying. For example, it’s not legal to take a human life, but it is legal to kill a deer (during hunting season). What’s the difference? I’m throwing out the capacity for love as one difference that makes sense to me. Under your system of what ought to be law (disregarding politics), what life forms can be killed, what can’t and why?

  246. #246 Nomen Nescio
    April 20, 2010

    @Ender, #243:

    If, say, I told you that the gun I’ve given you is a prop, and that you’re part of a performing arts circle, then send you into a room to ‘rob’ someone of fake money as part of our performance – but I’m lying and it’s a real gun and real money that you actually steal… then no I wouldn’t say you were an armed robber, I’d say you had been misled and did not know what was going on.

    tell it to the judge, maybe he’ll let you off. or maybe not, depends on whether the jurors are convinced, too.

    i think both you and gl are confusing ethics with law here; gl’s original statement was that he wanted to criminalize abortion but not punish the person procuring and undergoing it. in defense of this idea, both you and he are now producing essentially ethical or moral arguments. but “criminalize” is a term out of the field of law; i want you to come up with a legal reason why someone who, quite consciously and deliberately, goes about procuring a violation of the law, should not be subject to legal punishment.

    clinical sociopaths, some have argued, have so little empathy that they cannot truly imagine other people as real, feeling, thinking beings. so if such a person pays an assassin to murder somebody else, they should not be criminally liable, on the argument that they did not truly believe (or understand) that they were arranging the murder of a fellow human being? tell that to any judge or district attorney, see if they’re impressed.

    (besides, the notion that women who get abortions all simply do not understand what they’re doing is profoundly misogynistic. one in three women in the USA get an abortion at some point in their lives. that many women cannot all be written off as deluded, misguided, or emotionally stunted, without opening yourself to the question of whether you really think any woman is ever mentally competent.)

    @gl, #244:

    For example, it’s not legal to take a human life,

    sure it is, under certain carefully delineated circumstances. it’d be pretty hard to build a resilient society if that option was entirely barred — regrettable, but true.

    the constraints on lawful self defense (for instance) are rather stricter — and more strictly enforced — than bag limits in hunting season, but the concept of limits upon violence is basically the same. (the purposes of the limits are not; that’s the more important distinction by far.)

    Under your system of what ought to be law (disregarding politics), what life forms can be killed, what can’t and why?

    i’m not interested in making law. i’m not dictator to create laws all by myself, and no single person ever should be.

    but if we shift that question into the realm of ethics, it becomes more interesting to me. also less meaningful, because it’s not useful to ask what lifeforms can be ethically killed, so much as under what circumstances any one particular life may be taken. those circumstances do vary wildly with the species involved, but the specific situation can still override any general rules in play.

  247. #247 ildi
    April 20, 2010

    Thanks ildi – that was kind of my point. Science can define it – but, well, it doesn’t really capture it, does it?

    Not sure what you mean; what’s not being captured?

  248. #248 Ender
    April 20, 2010

    i think both you and gl are confusing ethics with law here; gl’s original statement was that he wanted to criminalize abortion but not punish the person procuring and undergoing it. in defense of this idea, both you and he are now producing essentially ethical or moral arguments. but “criminalize” is a term out of the field of law; i want you to come up with a legal reason why someone who, quite consciously and deliberately, goes about procuring a violation of the law, should not be subject to legal punishment.

    No I’m thinking in terms of legality as well as morality. In many cases in law intent is taken into account. For example if you wake up in the morning and hit the snooze button on your clock which causes the orphanage down the street to explode, you are not in any way liable – given that a psycopath wired the bomb without your knowledge.
    Culpability does not always change depending on intent, but it can do, and it could be applied to this situation.
    How you would distinguish between those who get the abortion because they don’t believe it is a life, and those who do believe but don’t care, I don’t know. Perhaps out of compassion we could decide that anyone breaking the law to get a backstreet abortion is either unaware that it is a life or in such a desperate situation that prosecuting them only causes more harm.

    (besides, the notion that women who get abortions all simply do not understand what they’re doing is profoundly misogynistic. one in three women in the USA get an abortion at some point in their lives. that many women cannot all be written off as deluded, misguided, or emotionally stunted, without opening yourself to the question of whether you really think any woman is ever mentally competent.)

    Not really, as the same would apply to all* men who support abortions. It could be considered condescending, when phrased as you have, but really it’s not about “not understanding” that the foetus is a human life, it’s about not believing that it’s a human life.
    If I tell you that I have a full size living colony of people in a brown paper bag, and you crush it because you don’t believe that that could be true then it could be argued that it isn’t your fault that quantum-colonies were something you didn’t know about, and that you shouldn’t be prosecuted for killing all fifteen hundred people aboard the SS Brown Paper Bag**

    *It’s not all men though, or all women. Some people believe that abortion is ok even though they believe the foetus is a human life.

    **Yes now it’s a ship.

  249. #249 ildi
    April 20, 2010

    I’m throwing out the capacity for love as one difference that makes sense to me.

    I missed this; are you saying animals don’t have a capacity for love? What are you basing that on?

  250. #250 Ender
    April 20, 2010

    Not sure what you mean; what’s not being captured?

    I assume he means the experience, or qualia, of love, which cannot be described scientifically.*

    tell it to the judge, maybe he’ll let you off. or maybe not, depends on whether the jurors are convinced, too.

    Yes… but I could be lying. Legally, if that happened I would not be culpable. (As you did it in the original example :D but seriously no-one would be culpable) The same as if I switch the prop gun in a play with a real gun – the unwitting actor who fires it during the performance, fatally wounding the stage manager, is not culpable**

    *… yet.

    **Given total ignorance of what I’d done. And I’m talking strictly legal liability, not whether or not anyone would believe them.

  251. #251 Ender
    April 20, 2010

    Sorry, by this: “Yes… but I could be lying. Legally, if that happened I would not be culpable.” I mean:

    The judge/jury may convict me anyway as they might think I’m lying, but if I am believed* I will not be convicted as then I’m not legally culpable for the robbery.

    *Say it’s all caught on HD security cameras with sound.

  252. #252 Ender
    April 20, 2010

    Sorry to multiple post, but I just read this comment more closely and noticed:

    one in three women in the USA get an abortion at some point in their lives. that many women cannot all be written off as deluded, misguided, or emotionally stunted, without opening yourself to the question of whether you really think any woman is ever mentally competent

    For clarity, you chose these words, they are your descriptions of women, based presumably on what you assume we* think.
    It’s a very tendentious quote, full of misguided assumptions. No one is saying that people who don’t think foetus’ are human lives are mentally incompetent, nor emotionally stunted. I’m sure some people think they are deluded or misguided, but to be honest, those are fairly mild things to think about people on the other side of this particular argument, just ask AnthonyK what he thinks about pro-life types.

    To be honest that part of your post sounds like an attempt to paint all of us who think that abortion is the killing of a human being, but that women who get abortions are not neccessarily murderers as they don’t know what they do as misogynists who think that abortion is the killing of a human being but that women who get abortions are not neccessarily murderers as they are darling little things without the brains to think for themselves.
    Frankly it’s insulting. And either demonstrates your lack of understanding of our argument, or your desire to denigrate our position regardless of the truth of what you say.

  253. #253 ildi
    April 20, 2010

    How you would distinguish between those who get the abortion because they don’t believe it is a life, and those who do believe but don’t care, I don’t know. Perhaps out of compassion we could decide that anyone breaking the law to get a backstreet abortion is either unaware that it is a life or in such a desperate situation that prosecuting them only causes more harm.

    Simple fact is that women reserve the right to make the choice whether or not to continue a pregnancy independent of what they actually believe.

    According to a survey of nearly 10,000 abortion patients conducted by the Guttmacher Institue in 1994-1995, one in five women having abortions identified themselves as born-again or Evangelical Christians, and Catholic women had an abortion rate 29% higher than Protestant women.

  254. #254 Nomen Nescio
    April 20, 2010

    us who think that abortion is the killing of a human being, but that women who get abortions are not neccessarily murderers

    see, that’s a direct contradiction in terms right there. deliberately killing a human being, in the absence of some legal justification, is the very definition of murder. the only reason you’re giving for why you don’t think women who get abortions should be punished for murder is not a legal argument at all, much less a legal justification.

    at best you’re giving a (fairly weak) ethical reasoning for why those women are not, in your opinion, culpable. but that just compounds your error of confusing ethics with law.

    and as for whether you think i’m denigrating you, i don’t give a wet fart. as i’ve already stated wrt. vera, people who value form over content and politeness over points are not worth the time to engage. you are not here, on this blog comments thread, personally; only your arguments are here for us to deal with. if you’re not already upset by the fact that i’m directly assaulting your arguments and conclusions, you have no call to pretend to be offended by the way i address your person.

  255. #255 vera
    April 20, 2010

    Cate, when I say you have been trying to smear me with your fantasies, that’s because you have, as here, #161:

    ‘Vera’ and ‘gl’ alternate — Vera’s role is to get someone to ‘admit’ that a late term abortion is wrong, so they can pounce with their slippery slope all the way to prohibiting contraception.

    I have always and consistently opposed late term abortions that are not linked to medical pathologies. I have never excluded trisomy. I have not excluded as much as a hare lip. But that does not stop you from misrepresenting my views.

    If you would like to speak up against ad hominems, your co-opinionists give you plenty of opportunity. Where was your demand for professionalism when gl got pelted by ugly names by SC recently? If you choose to stand up for the next person so treated here, you will have begun to acquire some credibility.

  256. #256 vera
    April 20, 2010

    Calli, when I speak of quickening as a rule of thumb for drawing the line when electives ought to stop, I am simply describing my own solution. It is not only backed by my moral intuition, but also at least some tradition, as well as being a well known and unique physiological/psychological moment in the life of the pregnant woman. I also think it would be a point which the majority of people in this country would support.

    Where do you draw your line?

  257. #257 Ender
    April 20, 2010

    see, that’s a direct contradiction in terms right there. deliberately killing a human being, in the absence of some legal justification, is the very definition of murder. the only reason you’re giving for why you don’t think women who get abortions should be punished for murder is not a legal argument at all, much less a legal justification

    Nope. If you do not know that you are killing a human being, very often you are not legally culpable.
    The law currently does not give passes to people in many situations, as there are few , beyond madness, that are accepted. Madness however does remove legal culpability (you will probably be sectioned, but you can’t be put in prison if you don’t know what you did)
    The law could be made to do the same for those seeking abortions. This law is hypothetical and if ever written it would be in the future, so there is no reason why we can’t write it how we need.

    and as for whether you think i’m denigrating you, i don’t give a wet fart. as i’ve already stated wrt. vera, people who value form over content and politeness over points are not worth the time to engage. you are not here, on this blog comments thread, personally; only your arguments are here for us to deal with. if you’re not already upset by the fact that i’m directly assaulting your arguments and conclusions, you have no call to pretend to be offended by the way i address your person.

    Again you miss the point. I shall state it more baldly for you:

    If the view I quoted was the view you hold then there are two options 1) You are an idiot, you don’t understand the argument we make but are not smart enough to know that you do not know, 2) You are a dick, you know that’s not what we believe but you’re trying to ascribe us that view anyway. Your actual argument has no weight so you are bolstering it with lies.

    So which is it, idiot or liar?

    As to the purported ‘point’ you’ve made above – my arguments are not me I don’t give a shit if they’re denigrated – I don’t really give a shit if you’re insulting me as I don’t know you from Adam, but it’s not a nice or useful way of conversing. If I pause to say, “no I’m not a misogynist you’re a dribbling moron for misunderstanding me” then I’m wasting valuable arguing time on insults, and you are unlikely to respond well (see your response to the above 2 paragraphs, I predict*)

    Insults are only of benefit to a) those with no valid arguments b) those in the majority who can shout down the minority regardless of validity of arguments.

    If your argument isn’t weak then lets see it – bereft of supporting insults and sweeping stupid and wrong generalisations about ‘what we think’ in your eyes.

  258. #258 Ender
    April 20, 2010

    if you’re not already upset by the fact that i’m directly assaulting your arguments and conclusions, you have no call to pretend to be offended by the way i address your person

    p.s. this is facile. If I say your mother makes a rubbish argument about global warming I’d bet ten to one you’d find that less insulting than if I insulted her personally. The same goes for you.

  259. #259 Nomen Nescio
    April 20, 2010

    If you do not know that you are killing a human being, very often you are not legally culpable.

    so if a woman is not aware she’s undergoing an abortion, then she’s not legally liable for having had an abortion. agreed. that doesn’t cover a lot of cases, though.

    your argument (such as it is) is that most women who have abortions do not believe that the fetus qualifies as a human person which has legal rights not to be aborted. but that is irrelevant to the law. so long as they know that the (hypothetical abortion-banning) law considers the fetus as such, the woman disagreeing with that point does not confer any legal immunity upon her.

    or if it did, sociopaths would have to get carte blanche for killing any of the rest of us.

    Madness however does remove legal culpability (you will probably be sectioned, but you can’t be put in prison if you don’t know what you did)

    that’s actually not quite how it works, but i think we can take it for granted that you’re no more a legal expert than i am. but even so, that doesn’t apply to women seeking abortions; in jurisdictions where abortions are illegal, such women know perfectly damn well that abortions are illegal, and they are most certainly not all insane.

    or else you’d have to call remarkably large fractions of womanhood insane, because we have good scientific evidence of abortion rates even in places that ban the procedure, and it’s well above the usual rates for incarceration in mental hospitals.

    This law is hypothetical and if ever written it would be in the future, so there is no reason why we can’t write it how we need.

    your pragmatism is somewhat heartening; you may want to discuss it with gl, who appears to feel laws should be based on ethics more than on pragmatic concerns.

    but if we can so easily write the law to suit our needs, then the next question is what we need. if the object is to save lives overall, then i can refer you to my comment at #215. in particular, banning abortion is not consistent with an overall goal of preserving lives, and we’ve known this for decades.

    my arguments are not me I don’t give a shit if they’re denigrated

    then why bother putting them forth? are you just here to stroke your own ego? you might as well quit pretending to have any arguments at all, then, if even you think they’re not worth caring about.

  260. #260 vera
    April 20, 2010

    Re #258: And we have come full circle. Folks still unable to distinguish between attacking an argument, and attacking a person.

    An interesting subset of this came up earlier, when Rob Monkey participated. He thought that as long as he put out arguments *along* with the insults, he deserved to be responded to. It’s like saying, sure I just gave you a good verbal kick in the shins, but hey, look at my argument, ain’t it good? No, it ain’t. Not if it is buttressed by bullying.

  261. #261 Cate
    April 20, 2010

    vera: you do not realize you are playing a role for the anti-abortionists, but you are. You say there should be a legal test for late abortions. If a legal test is imposed, no one gets a free pass. It’s the opposite: the test is imposed on everyone, and only those who pass the test are able to abort.

    You do not get to decide: a court decides. That requires a lawyer, medical experts, time, money, and additional heartbreak.

    To use trisomy 18 as an example, if a legal test existed: trisomy 18 confers no pathology on the mother, therefore she would not be allowed to elect abortion. She would be forced to carry to term.

    The decision to abort must only be between a woman (and whomever she wishes to confer) and her physician. Period.

  262. #262 bob koepp
    April 20, 2010

    Cate said, “The decision to abort must only be between a woman (and whomever she wishes to confer) and her physician. Period.”

    Bob said, “… the decision should be between a woman and her conscience.”

  263. #263 Ender
    April 20, 2010

    if a woman is not aware she’s undergoing an abortion, then she’s not legally liable for having had an abortion. agreed

    Good I’m glad we’re agreed about one thing. :D

    You then move on to talking about the hypothetical law as if it were written already, and written the way you would write it. But you appear to be missing what I assume was your original point (I’m not searching this thread to check, correct me if I’m wrong) – you asked whether pro-life people (thingy in particular) would write the law so as to send women who have abortions to prison, presumably hoping that the moral dissonance of imprisoning these women would either shock us out of our position, or show other people how totally callous we are – well the answer is no. You then say that the law would send these women to prison – which is odd, because on reflection we haven’t actually discussed the specifics of the law, so you can’t have any idea how it would play out. – Yes a straight up law making abortion the same as murder with no exceptions would criminalise the woman, but what about adding exceptions? There is no law banning exceptions. What about a law simply banning doctors from performing surgical abortions and banning abortificants?

    that’s actually not quite how it works, but i think we can take it for granted that you’re no more a legal expert than i am.

    True, true, no expert at all. But as far as I’m aware that is how it works round here, if you know any different please explain – I’m always interested in learning more about things. I’m surprised you know how the law works here, since you don’t know where here is, but maybe something I said gave it away :p

    You then talk about the law again, which goes to the above paragraph really.

    your pragmatism is somewhat heartening; you may want to discuss it with gl, who appears to feel laws should be based on ethics more than on pragmatic concerns.

    but if we can so easily write the law to suit our needs, then the next question is what we need. if the object is to save lives overall, then i can refer you to my comment at #215.

    I agree that laws should be based on ethics, but we should write them pragmatically to achieve the best ethical ends. I assume this is what most people believe, they just have very different ideas about what’s a good ethical goal and what laws are needed to achieve it.

    Your comment in 215 provides no arguments or cites so I can’t really say much about it. I agree that comprehensive (and early!) sex education, coupled with easy and cheap availability of prophylactics as well as a single-payer, universal healthcare system would be the way to go.
    Abortion, well I’m not so sure. Regardless of either of our opinions it matters whether this scientific evidence you haven’t cited took deaths of foetuses into account when considering whether abortion ‘saves lives’.
    Without links quoting yourself at 215 doesn’t really help me, since I can’t actually look at the evidence I need to discuss.

    You say: in particular, banning abortion is not consistent with an overall goal of preserving lives, and we’ve known this for decades.

    According to what evidence?
    If aborted-foetuses were not included as deaths then in a discussion about the morality of abortion and whether it saves lives you’re rather assuming the question.
    We can’t decide whether abortion saves lives until we’ve agreed on whether abortion is taking a life.

    But really, the point is, and if you focus on anything in this long winded part of this post please focus on this: You say that “if the object is saving lives see 215″ where you quote a bunch of measures that I agree with and one where we disagree… so what’s your point?
    I am pro-life, I think we should do things to save people’s lives, including the unborn. You are pro-choice, you think we should do things to save people’s lives, once they’re born. (i.e. once they’re people). Unless you’re trying to suggest that because America is full of bigots and nutter Christians my own completely secular non-American position is wrong, I don’t really see what you’re on about.

    “then why bother putting them forth? are you just here to stroke your own ego? you might as well quit pretending to have any arguments at all, then, if even you think they’re not worth caring about”

    No you have it exactly backwards. I think my arguments are worth caring about, but denigration isn’t worth caring about. Calling someone’s argument stupid, or crap doesn’t refute it at all, only reasoned argument does that. I might care if someone I knew or respected insulted my arguments, but as I said, I don’t know you at all.
    I put out my arguments because I think they’re right, I want to test them out, get other people’s perspective and maybe even change a mind if I’m right (it’s amazing how little you see this on the web).

    It’s like saying, sure I just gave you a good verbal kick in the shins, but hey, look at my argument, ain’t it good? No, it ain’t. Not if it is buttressed by bullying.

    Quoted for truth. Though I wouldn’t call it bullying as much as general dickishness.

  264. #264 Ender
    April 20, 2010

    Sorry italics fail, on the quote starting “your pragmatism…” the quote and italics should go on to the end of the second paragraph ending “…comment at #215″

  265. #265 ildi
    April 20, 2010

    Bob said, “… the decision should be between a woman and her conscience.”

    Maybe you’ve explained it further up in the thread; if so, I apologize for asking you to repeat yourself, but why exactly do you want to leave the woman’s health care provider out of the equation? That is what you’re implying, right?

  266. #266 ildi
    April 20, 2010

    I am pro-life, I think we should do things to save people’s lives, including the unborn. You are pro-choice, you think we should do things to save people’s lives, once they’re born. (i.e. once they’re people). Unless you’re trying to suggest that because America is full of bigots and nutter Christians my own completely secular non-American position is wrong, I don’t really see what you’re on about.

    At what point do you consider someone to be a person; at conception, at the point of viability, some other criterion? What is your secular justification for your position?

  267. #267 bob koepp
    April 20, 2010

    ildi – go back and look at comment #7

  268. #268 ildi
    April 20, 2010

    Bob; what is the difference between a woman taking an abortifacient and a doctor performing an abortion in terms of ‘medicalizing’ the reproductive process? For example, if someone who was not a medical professional performed the abortion, you’d be ok with it? I’d be interested in you expanding on your position, because it seems to be an arbitrary distinction to me.

  269. #269 AnthonyK
    April 20, 2010

    Gosh are the anti-abortion tone trolls still here? It doesn’t matter what you say, how much you tell them that they they have no right interfering in women’s lives, no right whatsoever, they carry on and on with their tedious attempts to draw limits where none exists, and to insist they somehow there’s a lie in a pro-abortion postion.
    And aren’t they a sensitive bunch: you’d think they’d be used to being told that their stupid views are unwelcome!

    I think we should do things to save people’s lives, including the unborn

    What the hell are the “unborn”? Why not go the whole religious/moralist hog and call them “the pre-born”? Look, if they’re “unborn” they don’t exist – and never will.
    I feel very sorry for people who live in the US (and other societies where fundamentalist religion holds sway) it’s hard enough being a woman anywhere without having these finger-wagging bores tell you that you have to bear an unwanted child.

  270. #270 vera
    April 20, 2010

    Wow. Dontcha wish that when Anthony the Rude Troll was unborn, he never existed? Sigh. But, alas for us, he did, and continued to exist.

    Someone brought up when a human becomes a person. I would say… maybe around 2 yrs of age. Is it relevant here?

  271. #271 Calli Arcale
    April 20, 2010

    vera @ 255:

    Calli, when I speak of quickening as a rule of thumb for drawing the line when electives ought to stop, I am simply describing my own solution. It is not only backed by my moral intuition, but also at least some tradition, as well as being a well known and unique physiological/psychological moment in the life of the pregnant woman. I also think it would be a point which the majority of people in this country would support.

    Really? Most pro-lifers would disagree rather vehemently on that point; their line is conception.

    I am aware that it’s just your “solution”, but I took pains to explain why I did not think it was a very good one. Perhaps you are not interested in reflecting upon the merits of it, having convinced yourself that it is right, but it really is not a good dividing line, both because it is highly erratic and because it relies entirely on the mother’s testimony. In other words, if a woman wants a late-term pregnancy, all she need do is claim that she has not yet felt the baby move.

    Where do you draw your line?

    I thought I made that pretty clear — I don’t draw one. I think it’s highly unwise to draw arbitrary lines in this matter.

    Drawing a line at quickening is expedient — but expedience is not the same thing as morals or ethics or justice.

  272. #272 bob koepp
    April 20, 2010

    idli – The point is that safe, effective over-the-counter abortifacients can be self-administered — a woman shouldn’t need to coordinate with a healthcare professional to terminate an early-term pregnancy, any more than she should have to coordinate with a pharmacist to get safe, effective contraceptives. But this is just one small example of how inappropriate medicalization undermines human freedom. Healthcare professionals, of course, have a vested interest in keeping the rest of us dependent on them for… what?

  273. #273 ildi
    April 20, 2010

    I’m really trying to follow your logic here, bob. A woman coordinates with her doctor to get effective contraceptives. A woman basically has to “coordinate” with a pharmaceutical company who makes the abortifacients she would use to terminate her pregnancy. It’s a medical process (i.e., effective contraceptives, abortifacient, providing an abortion) any way you look at it.

    Healthcare professionals, of course, have a vested interest in keeping the rest of us dependent on them for… what?

    Health care?

    Do you do all the preventive maintenance and repairs on your car? Of course, automotive professionals have a vested interest in keeping you dependent on them for a properly functioning car, right? Your objection to women involving medical professionals in their reproductive choices makes as much sense to me.

  274. #274 bob koepp
    April 20, 2010

    ildi – I guess if you look at the world through medical-colored glasses, you’ll see “healthcare” everywhere. And if you’d grown up with a chain around your ankle, you probably would be frightened at the thought of having it removed.

    Once upon a time people needed a prescription to get condoms. Doctors and pharmacists were notoriously cruel to supplicants. Against their protests, control over access to condoms was taken away from these “professionals.” Within a very short time you could get condoms in a wide variety of venues, even at that convenience store just around the corner. And they cost a fraction of what they once did — so friendly people can actually afford to give them away to strangers on the street! It’s a brave new world.

  275. #275 AnthonyK
    April 20, 2010

    Wow. Dontcha wish that when Anthony the Rude Troll was unborn, he never existed?

    I didn’t! On a technicality, however, I would have thought that I’d only be considered a “troll” if I were trying to disrupt this blog, disagreeing with it and insulting the regulars. I don’t, and I’m not. (Rude – yes, sometimes – think of it as a foil to your own (and others) passive agressive trope;)
    But once again, you interfering, moralising, (and no doubt religiously inspired) old busy body – what gives you the right to tell women what to do with their own lives?

  276. #276 vera
    April 20, 2010

    Calli said: “Really? Most pro-lifers would disagree rather vehemently on that point; their line is conception.”

    I said majority of people. The middlers.

    “I am aware that it’s just your “solution”, but I took pains to explain why I did not think it was a very good one. Perhaps you are not interested in reflecting upon the merits of it, having convinced yourself that it is right, but it really is not a good dividing line, both because it is highly erratic and because it relies entirely on the mother’s testimony. In other words, if a woman wants a late-term pregnancy, all she need do is claim that she has not yet felt the baby move.”

    I am not basing it on the mothers’ testimony. I said rule of thumb, averaged out at around 18 weeks, or whatever the average is thereabouts.

    “Where do you draw your line?

    I thought I made that pretty clear — I don’t draw one. I think it’s highly unwise to draw arbitrary lines in this matter.”

    But you do draw a line… if you refuse to draw it, then your line is drawn at birth. Arbitrary? In a way, yes. Some cultures did not draw a line till a few weeks after birth. Highly unwise? Yes, IMO.

    “Drawing a line at quickening is expedient — but expedience is not the same thing as morals or ethics or justice.”

    And drawing the line at birth is not expedient? My way stands a chance to end the abortion wars for the huge numbers of middle-ground people. Does yours?

  277. #277 ildi
    April 20, 2010

    Once upon a time people needed a prescription to get condoms. Doctors and pharmacists were notoriously cruel to supplicants. Against their protests, control over access to condoms was taken away from these “professionals.”

    Before that, condoms were illegal. Not so much to do with wearing medical-tinted glasses, but rather moralizing blinders. There are still health care ‘professionals’ who won’t fill prescriptions for contraceptives. They do this for religious, not medical reasons. It took forever to approve the over-the-counter sales of Plan B because of political, not medical reasons. Oral contraceptives gave women the greatest freedom to date over their reproductive decisions. I’ll keep that chain, thank you.

  278. #278 bob koepp
    April 20, 2010

    And why should a healthcare professional control access to contraceptives that can be safely and effectively self-administered? Why aren’t they available on the shelf right next to the condoms? In countries where they are freely available, they are used responsibly by free women. If Plan B was really available “over the counter,” women wouldn’t have to go to a pharmacist to get it. Why are you so easily duped into thinking otherwise?

    No doubt you will keep that chain.

  279. #279 ildi
    April 20, 2010

    And why should a healthcare professional control access to contraceptives that can be safely and effectively self-administered?

    Which ones are you referring to?

    If Plan B was really available “over the counter,” women wouldn’t have to go to a pharmacist to get it.

    That’s to keep teens from having access – another political, not medical decision. Who’s the one being duped here?

    Yay for the ‘chains’ of science-based medicine!

  280. #280 Paula
    April 21, 2010

    Everyone sounds so down on each other, those still doing this thread. But I found AnthonyK’s schtick to (whomever he was talking to–a woman, apparently/probably) strangely irrelevant and, in its agism, offensive: “But once again, you interfering, moralising, (and no doubt religiously inspired) old busy body – what gives you the right to . . .” So “old” is a problem for you, Anthony?

  281. #281 AnthonyK
    April 21, 2010

    No…I guess I should have withdrawn that. She’s just an interfering busybody.

  282. #282 Ender
    April 21, 2010

    Oh hooray! AnthonyK is back! And look, you’re proving my point for me. Your post is empty, just a bunch of hot air, you don’t make any points, you don’t engage anyone’s points you just waste your time writing a bunch of self righteous insults.

    People who lack valid arguments are the only ones who gain from including insults in their posts. Yours is a perfect example – you could have used your time to pick holes in something we’ve said, expose logical flaws or link to scientific evidence that proves us wrong, instead you reiterated your insults.

    Are you that arrogant that you think your opinions matter at all? That even though to most people you are nothing but a random poster on a blog somewhere that people actually give a shit that you think pro-life people are ‘interfering busybodies’ or stupid liars or whatever?
    Nothing you say is of any importance if not backed up by argument or evidence. Insults gain nothing, watch:

    You’re a self-righteous arrogant bully who seems to enjoy nothing except posting stupid and embarrassing insults that only expose your own ignorance and inability to think with any nuance or intelligence about people who disagree with you. Your posts are irrelevant, as Paula said, and though you seem to gain some satisfaction from whatever imagined benefit you are getting from these posts you appear not to realise that you are not covering yourself in glory here. You are just making yourself look stupid.
    -
    Everyone of reasonable intelligence knows that insults are mere window dressing to an argument, that people who feel the need to over-decorate their posts with it are clearly lacking in intelligence or confidence in their position.

    See did that change your mind? Have I blown your arguments out of the water? Is your position compromised? Is the battle won?
    No. I didn’t make a single point there, I just called you a dick (which you are). But that’s the thing about the internet, these words are very insubstantial, the only thing I gained from those paragraphs was the satisfaction of calling a prick a prick. It didn’t do anything. Like all of your posts

    Call me a tone-troll all you want – I am engaging people with argument and reason, and not bothering with pointless insult, you are just getting your jollies being rude to ‘terrible bad people’ who ‘totally deserve it’, it’s obvious to everyone who the troll is.

  283. #283 ildi
    April 21, 2010

    Ender: I must have missed where you stated your position re. when life/personhood begins, and your secular justification for that position?

  284. #284 AnthonyK
    April 21, 2010

    I bow to your superior intellect and arguments.
    You are indeed not bothering with “pointless insult”. However, you like all the anti-abortionists, have failed to tackle the immportant pro-choice argument: what right do you have to intefere in other peoples’ lives, or tragedies? No one is, or will, force you or a loved one to abort a foetus – so what’s the deal?
    This post, and many of the replies, offer an explanation to moralists, such as yourself, as to why the proposed anti-abortion reforms are such a bad thing. You, apparently, support them.
    And your angry posts, very angry, very abusive – but, hey, I can hardly complain about that, can I ;) – simply equate “the unborn” with a life lost.
    Anyway, carry on!
    But calm down – it’s only the internet, silly!

  285. #285 Ender
    April 21, 2010

    Really? Most pro-lifers would disagree rather vehemently on that point; their line is conception.

    Yes, pro-lifers have a range of beliefs, they are not a monolith. Just like every group in the world. As I said before.
    This should not be a surprise to you unless you have an uninformed opinion about a) pro-lifers b) the coherence of views in large groups of people.

    I was criticised before for choosing the groups: ‘the Welsh’, ‘Gays’, and ‘Jews’ to emphasise my point that generalisations about groups of people are not only stupid and wrong* but immoral prejudice too; so I will provide you with some more examples: Women, Black people, transgender people, White people, Australians, Left handed people, Conservatives, Liberals, communists, Chinese people, the French, the Welsh, Gays, Jews, Sikhs, Christians, fascists, capitalists, bloggers, sci-fi fans, sportspeople, Americans, athiests, the religious, social workers, immigrants, mentally ill people, self-harmers, pricks who think that blogs need more insults, blondes, bisexuals, etc etc etc.
    If you want to take it out of context now you can go to town! I was previously accused of calling people homophobic and Godwinning the thread (no one seemed to care about the welsh… bigots) – if you’re stupid enough to think that me illustrating my point with examples of people we can all agree you shouldn’t prejudicially generalise about is actually me saying you’re prejudiced against them, then you will probably be stupid enough to think that I’m doing it again- so cry away, it’s obvious to anyone who reads this that I’m not.

    *This is really the most important point. You may want to be lazy and prejudiced about pro-lifers, but almost no-one wants to be wrong.

  286. #286 ildi
    April 21, 2010

    Yes, pro-lifers have a range of beliefs, they are not a monolith.

    I find it fascinating that you have no interest in stating your own beliefs as an example of what this range is.

  287. #287 Ender
    April 21, 2010

    Ender: I must have missed where you stated your position re. when life/personhood begins, and your secular justification for that position?

    Try harder next time, it’s in the second post, third paragraph, starting “My position on the start of life…”

    Nah, I kid, haven’t got round to responding to your question yet. I take it you’d like me to get a move on? I’ll get to it, but for the moment:

    “I bow to your superior intellect and arguments.”

    Well that’s really your only option isn’t it, since you have none of the latter yourself.

    “You are indeed not bothering with “pointless insult”. However, you like all the anti-abortionists, have failed to tackle the immportant pro-choice argument: what right do you have to intefere in other peoples’ lives, or tragedies? No one is, or will, force you or a loved one to abort a foetus – so what’s the deal?”

    Well if you’re interested in knowing the answer to that question, how about posing it instead of insulting people. Do you really think that people are going to bother engaging with you when it’s clear you don’t care?
    I suspect you don’t really care what any pro-lifer has to say to that question, you have already decided it must be wrong – which is why you don’t actually ask it that often you just waste your time with insubstantial insults.

    “This post, and many of the replies, offer an explanation to moralists, such as yourself, as to why the proposed anti-abortion reforms are such a bad thing. You, apparently, support them.

    Nope, and none of my posts say that I do. Again your inability to read people’s posts, and your belief that you already understand other people’s positions has led you into error.

    “And your angry posts, very angry, very abusive – but, hey, I can hardly complain about that, can I ;) – simply equate “the unborn” with a life lost.

    And that’s the other thing about people who dish out the insults – they can never take it. One moment you’re all “insults are nothing, what are you crybabies?” the next you’re curling up in a ball going “Oh, you’re so angry, so abusive!”. So which is it, hypocrite? Insults mean nothing, and you can write what you want, or my posts are ‘too angry, too abusive’ – pick a stance and stick with it.

    “Anyway, carry on!
    But calm down – it’s only the internet, silly!

    Interesting – when you insult us it’s because we’re stupid, when I return the favour* it’s because I’m getting worked up and taking the internet too seriously.

    That’d be a pretty cutting comment really, were I worked up, and had I not put in my earlier comment a whole part about how internet insults are meaningless – and the problem with them is not, as you seem to think “insults make people sad, they are bad”, but in fact “insults are not arguments, they only undermine your own position and make you look stupid/aggressive and unable to back up your position using your intellect.”

    *mainly while illustrating that insults achieve nothing

  288. #288 Ender
    April 21, 2010

    “I find it fascinating that you have no interest in stating your own beliefs as an example of what this range is.

    I find it interesting that you assume I have no interest in stating my beliefs as an example of what this range is when you’ve not asked me to do so, and in fact no-one has asked me to give examples of the range.

    Stop being impatient, I’ll get to you. I’m technically at work now. If that bothers you, call me an idiot and wander off.

    That’s another thing, trolls like AthonyK also derail other conversations – it’s so much easier to respond to his posts since it takes little or no effort or intellect to take apart insubstantial insults, so if I’ve only got a moment then I’m far more likely to dash off a savaging of his idiocy than I am to respond to someone like you who has asked a reasonable question that could lead to fruitful areas of discussion.

  289. #289 daedalus2u
    April 21, 2010

    Calli’s comment #231 makes an excellent point. If the fetus that was aborted had the capacity to decide, it might voluntarily make the decision its mother made and sacrifice itself to save its mother’s life, and the lives of its two as yet unborn siblings. If the fetus were an adult and decided to sacrifice itself to save the life of its mother and two siblings, the fetus would be given the label “hero”.

    If the mother is in a dire situation, for example is only 12, her fetus might make a similar decision, that by sacrificing itself now, its mother can grow and mature and be in better health and with more resources to have more successful pregnancies in the future.

    Virtually all children love their mothers, and would gladly sacrifice themselves to save their mother’s life. Why is the default assumption that a fetus who will never have a reasonable life (anencephalitic for example) would not? If I were a fetus, and I was anencephalitic, I would want my mother to do what ever would be the most protective of her, her health, her emotional wellbeing, her reproductive capacity, whatever with no feelings of guilt or recriminations.

    I think virtually all antiabortion activism is not about helping the fetus, it is about hurting the mother.

  290. #290 Ender
    April 21, 2010

    Ok, I’ll tackle your question now:

    I’ve started, but like I said, it takes longer and more effort to respond to someone who isn’t being an idiot, and I’ve got to get back to work, so I’ve saved the start of what I’ve got, and I’ll post it later.

  291. #291 thelastdemocrat
    April 21, 2010

    Revere – thanks for a thoughful post. I disagree with you regarding abortion, but thoughtful debates are always good. These comments include a lot of good stuff, too. In my view, as a “liberal, or “democrat,” I see this as a human rights issue: I believe that, at least at the typical time of pregnancy detection, it is almost impossible to reasonably make the case that the “fetus” is not alive, its own entity. If you post more on this, I would be interested in hearing your arguments on two points: 1. that the developing organism is not its own entity, but is something else: still a part of mom, physically a distinct tissue-blob, like a pharyngula or an appendix, but destined to dinstinctly be animated with its own mysterious life force, or whatever, AND that 2; if this distinction is ambiguous, why it is fine to go ahead and err on the side of systematic, deliberate killing/death, versus erring on the side of caution lest we kill an innocent due to insufficient information.

    Myself, I have discussions with my wife about the death penalty. My personal belief is the legal standard needs to be greater, somehow: for the state to put someone to death for murder, I believe a few things would need to be in place, including some definitive type of hands-on evidence, rather than testimony of someone declaring that they saw the person fleeing the scene, and other short-of-definitive evidence. There have been, and will always be, errors in the death penalty as long as it persists. One answer is to never be wrong – to remove the death penalty, due to the always-present specter of error – putting to death an innocent person.

    Just about everyone on the planet would agree: either people simply believe the state/the people/the govt should never put a person to death, or people agree that if you do have a death penalty, you had better be very sure you are putting the correct person to death, or else let’s just give up on the idea altogether until we figure out standards for being darn sure.

    “We” don’t hold that same ethos for abortion. By the time of pregnancy detection, the heart is already differentiated, and beating. Sure, there is not a functional circulatory system, but ya gotta start somewhere. The nervous system is getting laid down. Fingerprints are detectable (on autopsy). DNA can be profiled. Some bioparameters such as heart beat can be measured, while it is intuitively obvious that others may or may not be, such as sentience or consciousness, and our knowledge of these is limited by the challenge of measurement, not by some definitive argument that such various life-indicators are clearly present or not yet present – a corollary is that as our measurement methods improve, the list of bio-facts we can give on a fetus will grow, and we will continue the ongoing process of drawing the line ever-earlier of when the blob is a distinct living creature – and those with previous demarcations will learn that they were, after all, wrong. I could list many more such biodetails, but that is enough to estabilsh, as with death penalty ethos, that there is a fair argument to be made that this blob is a distinct life, versus whatever the alternate explanation might be (as mentioned above: not-yet-animated blob, animate-but-part-of-mom blob, alive-but-in-an-unwanted-parasite-status blob, etc.).

    To be for the legal choice of a woman to abort an 8-week old fetus is to be for a death penalty conviction based on some fair, but arguable, evidence, where conflicting testimony is present.

    Myself, I have crossed the line of believing that we should, as a society, let someone else go ahead and choose if the life-onset issue is involved or not, and I have crossed the line of myself wondering whether the blob is yet a distinct, alive organism: at earliest typical point of detection, I believe it is alive, and is its own, distinct organism.

    If pro-choice people can follow my logic here, then you can see how, for me, various arguments don’t hold up.

    If a child is conceived out of rape, and it is OK to kill the child pre-delivery for the OK-in-cases-of-rape argument, then I don’t see why it would NOT be OK to kill the child after delivery. A mom might make that argument some day, to Peter Singer. Maybe a mom might want to see whether she is able to love the child, versus not because of the rape, or maybe the mom would like a chance to see if the child would resemble the rapist or not. Then, as Peter Singer argues, take the option to go ahead and “abort” the infant before the age of one, if you so choose.

    To me, as an extreme liberal, with an extreme view on human rights / civil rights on this issue, all of this makes sense to me.

    I say that because the arguments fired at the straw-man religious right are not arguments that stick to me. I do things to support moms with unexpected pregnancies – I am not going to brag, but I will declare that, with personal time and personal money, I am far from the insensitive, stingy straw-man painted by some pro-choice commenters here. Maybe the religious right do have those short-comings and motivations. Not me. Frankly, I know pro-life activists, and the straw-man arguments do not fit them. But I hate to take so much from my fellow liberals all at once, so I will leave you with your arch-conservative nemesis fantasy for now.

    Contrastingly, my views come from my liberal, human-rights concepts. Over here in the liberal camp, we are familiar with the efforts of the powers-that-be to “marginalize” people in various ways: making them less-than-human, defining them in our terms, etc. “We” humans with power have done that to the homeless, aboriginal people, slaves, racial/ethnic minorities, our opponents in war, the mentally retarded (soon to be the intellectual/developmentally disabled), etc.

    Identity politics, plain and simple, with the upper hand held by the powers-that-be, the haves’, the writers-of-history. It is a human rights agenda to discover the marginalization where it exists, educate others, and work for justice.

    Similarly, the concept of what defines a relatively powerless “protected class” applies: some groups have experienced systematic, institutionalized discrimination because of relative powerlessness, and require the recognition as a “protected class” to rectify the rights-violating power imabalance.

    Any one of three recognized criteria are required to achieve protected-class status. Women and the physically disabled meet these. Historically discriminated/underserved minorites meet these. Aboriginal people meet these.

    And the unborn meet these, if you happen to believe that they are actually living individuals.

    “As an entire class have suffered a history of social oppression evidenced by lack of ability to obtain economic mean income, adequate education, or cultural opportunity; As an entire class exhibit obvious, immutable, or distinguishing characteristics, like race, color, gender or national origin, that define them as a discrete group; as an entire class clearly demonstrate political powerlessness.”

    1. have the unborn, with abortion-death happening to one in five of them, suffered from lack of ability to access education? If they are killed before reaching kindergarten, then yes, they have. 2. as a “class,” can you recognize them? Yes. Ultrasound technicians are quite proficient. There are myriad ways to identify a living fetus as such. We, especially at abortion clinics where ultrasounds are required, prefer to NOT even look at the screen because the recognizability is so obvious. 3. Do unborn babies have political power? No: they have no voice, no vote, they cannot organize, assemble, etc. ONLY protected class status can ensure civil rights as the rest of us typically enjoy.

    Long post. i hope it contributes. My two points: not all of us who are pro-life fit the stingey, oppressive religious zealot straw-man caricature. Me: please paint me as someone with extreme human rights concerns, similar to the no-death-penalty activists, and/or as a civil-liberty advocate for a group worthy of protected-class status.

    This profile is becoming more common, so the pro-choice movement will need to develop memes to counter-act the human rights and civil liberties memes.

    Second point: I truly would like to hear 1. the argument that the 8-week-old fetus is not a distinct, living creature, and 2. hear how any ambiguity (as in my death-penalty parallel) is reasoned-away as acceptable error.

    Because we don’t kill other humans in order to save ourselves shame, or to enhance our ability to complete college, or to avoid financial hardship. We do not kill children because there is no agenciy to provide food or shelter. We don’t kill our toddlers because we “just don’t feel ready.” [BTW: if you look at Wikipedia's "abortion" entry, there is resaerch on "reasons for abortion," FYI.]

    I met a mom and her teen daughter at my work a few years back. The daughter was conceived in a rape. I see no justification to kill her either before birth, or in her teen years. She herself certainly preferred to be living, and so did her mom. Tragic? Yes. Very. A justification for state-sanctioned death? For some, yes, but not for me. Not for that mother. And other mothers who expressed their “choice” to not abort a rape-conceived baby, and have shown that this can be done without destroying either life. [But what a cool "out" for the rapist!]

    We don’t do those things with kids who area already born, and I don’t believe we should do these things to kids who are not yet born.

  292. #292 gl
    April 21, 2010

    Anhonyk:”what right do you have to intefere in other peoples’ lives”

    I think Ender is right not to engage, but I’m going to answer because this is one thing I don’t get and would like to re-state – I can’t understand why they expect us to be inconsistent.

    We believe there should be a law against killing a baby in the womb in the same way we believe there should be a law against killing you or me. I understand why you see it as interfering, not sure why you can’t see how when you view a fetus as a human life that changes things.

    ==

    daedalus2u:”I think virtually all antiabortion activism is not about helping the fetus, it is about hurting the mother.”

    I agree with you up until this point. I think you misunderstand the pro-life position. I don’t think they would tell you what to do in an either the mother lives/or the fetus lives situation. It is an honorable choice, but not an expected one. Remember we believe in the next life, whereas atheists do not. That will affect how we view things. Slam us if you want, but we are being consistent.

  293. #293 Ender
    April 21, 2010

    I think virtually all antiabortion activism is not about helping the fetus, it is about hurting the mother.

    It’s that kind of blind comment that shows you know nothing about anti-abortion people.
    My sister was diagnosed Downs before she was born, some people abort for Downs (shockingly and ableist), if I was asked now whether she should be aborted, regardless of the accuracy of the test I would still say yes. In your head that’s because I’m trying to hurt my mother? Idiot.

  294. #294 Ender
    April 21, 2010

    Obvious typo, yes = no

  295. #295 vera
    April 21, 2010

    Hey, democrat, I don’t normally read a 3 ft post, but I made an exception for ya. :-)

    When I got to a place to reevaluate my culture-given knee jerk “gotta be a good girl and get rid of the source of the family shame” kinda perspective my culture raised me in, I focused first on whether the embryo and fetus were human and alive. And of course, I had to admit they were both. They were also unique. So there is this growing, unique, human critter… then I had to face the question, so what now?

    And it became painfully obvious that in any society, no matter how enlightened, unless we develop widespread biofeedback toward a “natural” miscarriage, women will seek to abort some fetuses. And I do not know how a society would function and not turn into tyranny if these women, and those that help them, were persecuted. And so, even though I recognize the early life for all it is, and see abortion as a tragic moral choice, I will always be solidly in the early pro-choice camp; the alternative seems far worse.

    All the same, this unique, living, human critter deserves some consideration, and I thought a good way to express this consideration was by protecting it somewhere along its development. I would much prefer to live in a society where people are no more willing to kill a healthy 25 week old fetus than a newborn.

    Welcome to the fray. :-)

  296. #296 Snowy Owl
    April 21, 2010

    Salutations to all,

    I have notice on the main page that comments on this Post from Revere keep on generates responses.

    I am from a Matriarchal famely, First Nations are Matriarchal.

    On top of this, here in Québec Men do not rule on Women’s body.

    I have not took the time to read your responses but I read Revere Post.

    He write about ‘Empathy” an apparent unknown faculty for anti-abortioniss.

    Québec is a Province/State/Country, sort of, that has been under the ‘joug’ of Catholic Church whose one bishop fe months backs via the apostolic Nonce (a kind of Peer Revier) that abortion is worst than rape.

    WHo are we to ignore women’s expressions about what is going on in their Womb.

    In my book (my Théological Book) anti-abortionists = Harcore Taliban, hardcore Patriachal Condescendent Men, raper of Women Souls, Minds and bodies.

    Lets be honest, this is none of our business it is a Women Individual Responsability, none of the business of intrusive, offensive, reprehensible, retrograde and a Zealous lack of Respect for Women.

  297. #297 AnthonyK
    April 21, 2010

    My my, Ender, thankyou. You’re quite right – insults add nothing, I now see that. Your own example shows that well – you anti-abortionists are all the same – rude and angry ;) I’m not complaining, mind you, that would be hypocritical, and I don’t think I’m that.
    One of the problems is that so much of the anti-abortion crowd is – catholics, and “fundamentalist” Protestants are anti-contraception (thus ensuring more abortions) anti sex-ed etc etc – all connected, ultimately, with the sin of having sex outside marriage: it’s the woman’s fault, she must deal with the consequences.
    And carried to its logical conclusion you have a situation such as in Nicaragua where there is no abortion under any circumstances – there was a case I read of concerning a woman refused, by terrified doctors, treatment for an ectopic pregnancy; she died, leaving three young children motherless. Official Catholic doctrine, after all, forbids it even when the mother will die giving birth.
    There’s also this bizzare idea of the “unborn” – a nonexitent entity if ever there were one.
    But the central point remains – wherever you may think the limit should be drawn (and many anti-abortionists lie about this point and pretend to be moderate – pro-choice until the “quickening” eh Vera?) this is, and always should be, a personal decision for the mother alone, and no business of anyone else’s.
    And it’s great if a woman who’s been raped feels able to have the child: let’s respect the choices made by women unable to do so.
    Every child a wanted child, that’s all we ask.

  298. #298 daedalus2u
    April 21, 2010

    Ender and gl, I judge people’s motivations by their actions, not by what they claim their motivations are. The legislation that Revere discusses doesn’t allow late term abortions to protect the health of the mother. When it blocks intervention by abortion for a non-viable fetus (i.e. anencephalic), the goal can’t be to help a fetus which cannot be helped. By making no exceptions in the legislation, they show that their goal is to hurt women who might choose an abortion by prohibiting that option.

    And gl, if you really believe there is an after life, then you should encourage abortion because all those sinless babies will go straight to Heaven for all eternity with no chance to sin and be damned. I guess you really hate those fetuses because you want them to have the opportunity to sin, be damned and go to Hell. Those women who choose to abort their fetus? They are truly selfless saints. Committing the mortal sin of abortion, so that their fetus will go to Heaven. Choosing an eternity in Hell so that their fetus will spend an eternity in Heaven. Can’t get more selfless than that.

  299. #299 gl
    April 21, 2010

    “Official Catholic doctrine, after all, forbids it even when the mother will die giving birth.”

    That is a false statement.

    ===

    Snowy – you make the same mistake and take things out of context. First – remember that the bishop equates abortion with murder (I know you disagree). So he is basically saying murder is worse than rape. Second, he is talking about the act, not the person. The church takes into account the state of mind of the person, and whether or not they understand what they are doing.

    If it is a human life, then society has a duty to protect it, and it is society’s business.

    The argument is always about that, and everything stems from there.

    ===

    daedalus2u – fun game you’re playing.

    Sorry I can’t comment about the legislation itself – don’t know enough about it. You make a good point that I certainly need to research.

  300. #300 Snowy Owl
    April 21, 2010

    Sorry gl,

    I am a ”Duly” registered Franciscan Communication agent of my Franciscan Province that goes west up to Chicago btw.

    The Catholic Church first duty is to save the Child even if the Mother is dying. Look into the Canon before telling mistakes.
    <
    And yes as you say I do not believe you because the Bishop of South AMerica is on tape and on paper via many journalists, so yes I speak Truth when he daid that rape is less a sin than abortion, ask your achbishop in your episcopal region.

    Third,
    Yes the Apostolic Nonce agreed with it.

    Another sign that this CHurch, my CHurch is getting rotten by machos presumebly abstinent of sex.

    As my Provincial one.s said, the CHurch is dying and it knew it for centuries.

    Now is the time.

    The infallabity of the Pope just been hand written proof two weeks ago that it is pure Chimeria.

    Snowy Owl. OMF

  301. #301 gl
    April 21, 2010

    Actually Snowy we’re both wrong.

    It’s not that the first duty is to save the child. They are equal. But we cannot kill an innocent life in order that we survive. That is what Canon law and the catechism say.

    You interpret that to mean the fetus comes first, but that is not correct.

    And yes – I agree with you that is what the bishop said. I was just putting it in context (abortion is worse than rape, because abortion is murder from the pro-life point of view). Maybe it didn’t translate well.

    I’d disagree on the rest, but that is off topic. Time will tell.

  302. #302 daedalus2u
    April 21, 2010

    gl, it is an exercise called Reductio ad absurdum

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum

    Where you show that a questionable premise is wrong by taking it to a logical extreme that is clearly wrong.

  303. #303 gl
    April 21, 2010

    By calling the premise “a fetus is equal to a human life” questionable, meaning open to question, it seems that might actually be a concession on your part.

    Want to reconsider? :)

  304. #304 Snowy Owl
    April 21, 2010

    gl,

    I will not argue about cathechism. canon and Pope Bulle, I know better.

    Please stay in the Path of Truth, corroborate, give me the references.

    This laxism is over now, I, we now have to corroborate Revere tough me that trough the years.

    Gimme references gl, then I will Granth you Pope Bulles on this, OK? British Fairness

  305. #305 gl
    April 21, 2010

    http://www.cuf.org/faithfacts/details_view.asp?ffID=57

    There’s one for starters – makes an interesting point:

    Operations, treatments and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.[3]

    On one hand, there can be no direct attack on the child (direct abortion) to save the life of the mother. On the other hand, the life of the mother is equally valuable and she must receive appropriate treatment. It might be that the only available remedy saves the life of the mother but, while not a direct abortion, brings about the unintended effect of the death of the child. Morally speaking, in saving the life of the mother, the Church accepts that the child might be lost.

    ============

    I tried but could not find a Canon law that specifically addresses either of our statements. But if you google “canon law” and “life of the mother” you can find lots of stuff if you are really interested.

  306. #306 Snowy Owl
    April 21, 2010

    Vatican changes transcript of abortion remarks
    updated 8:41 a.m. ET May 11, 2007

    Pope Benedict XVI caused such a stir with his comments on the excommunication of lawmakers who vote in favor of legalizing abortion that the Vatican released a transcript Thursday changing what he said.

    While Benedict met with Brazil’s president and thousands of Roman Catholics streamed toward a soccer stadium for an evening youth rally, the Vatican released a new transcript that seemed to roll back the pope’s comments from a day earlier.

    Asked during an in-flight news conference Wednesday if legislators who legalized abortion in Mexico City should rightfully be considered excommunicated, Benedict said “Yes.”

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18598306

    “The excommunication was not something arbitrary. It is part of the (canon law) code,” the pope continued, seemingly siding with the Mexican bishops who said the politicians had excommunicated themselves.

    Nota Bene: I will extracts shamefull Catholic Church Statement if you continue,

    I do not like it but when push come to sholve I will.

    Snowy OWl, aka Achak

  307. #307 thelastdemocrat
    April 21, 2010

    Vera: we ought to accept/permit legal abortion because to not accept abortion would mean we would end up tyrannizing women who got abortions despite a no-abortion law, along with tyrannizing those helping the woman get an illegal abortion. Let me know if I got that right. So, if I do have this right, your view of our societal compromise is that we sacrifice a few alive fetuses so we can avoid some tyranny for those who have had a chance to live their lives already, up to the point of being able to conceive, or being able to help a pregnant person in some way.

    If I have it right, I don’t agree. Cuz someone is being tyrannized either way, and I would prefer our society be on the side of the unmentioned “tyranny” that might befall these pregnant women and their helpers, rather than to opt for the tyranny over the brief lives ended through abortion.

    Ya gotta pick one undesirable outcome or the the other. I pick the undesirable outcome that does not include systematic, societally condoned death of extremely vulnerable innocents. We already know that women can live, survive, and thrive with the other type of tyranny.

  308. #308 vera
    April 21, 2010

    Democrat, for real effects of such a legal/societal state as you favor, I refer you to Ceaucescu’s Romania. You can read up and visualize what such an approach leads to… in a real country, among modern people, not so long ago. Let me know what you think of it.

    The effects were vast and devastating… for the children along with the adults. I urge you to look into it, especially the stories of people who lived through it. Then we can talk more.

  309. #309 vera
    April 21, 2010

    And a postscript:

    Democrat said: “So, if I do have this right, your view of our societal compromise is that we sacrifice a few alive fetuses”

    No, I am not interested in sacrificing anyone. I am interested in a political system that does not get in between a woman and her conscience in the first half of pregnancy.

  310. #310 gl
    April 21, 2010

    Snowy –

    We’re getting off topic, but I’m not sure what you think the issue is.

    The Church’s stance is consistent – they view abortion as taking a life, so excommunication makes sense. But they do take culpability into consideration, so there are exceptions if you keep reading.

    And we are talking excommunication, not jail time. They are not going to come after you or anything.

    Why would you want to be part of an organization that feels so differently than you do on such a crucial issue? All organizations have rules. If you don’t follow the rules, you are out. Even applies to golf clubs.

  311. #311 Snowy Owl
    April 21, 2010

    Then gl,

    the Catholic Church Org is a mysogyne org ruled and dominated by men, not allowing women to preach (since they are inferior) remember when this org finally recognised women had a soul not too long ago and waht about indegenous people ?

    The Political Hiearchic Churches, Christians, Jusaics, Islamics, Hindouists are illegitimate and not fair, not respectfull and worth to go to the ditch, sorry to the sewers.

  312. #312 ildi
    April 21, 2010

    Ender:

    I find it interesting that you assume I have no interest in stating my beliefs as an example of what this range is when you’ve not asked me to do so, and in fact no-one has asked me to give examples of the range.

    Actually, I have. #265 at 4:56 pm yesterday was a quote from one of your posts, and the subsequent question was aimed at you, though I didn’t identify you by name – my bad.

    That’s another thing, trolls like AthonyK also derail other conversations – it’s so much easier to respond to his posts since it takes little or no effort or intellect to take apart insubstantial insults, so if I’ve only got a moment then I’m far more likely to dash off a savaging of his idiocy

    which is what makes your behavior just as trollish as his. So, you say you are anti-abortion for secular, pro-woman reasons. What is a secular reason for picking, say, conception, when the soul is right out (not secular), and biology is not on your side? Do you choose mid-point, like vera, even though that is based on an arbitrary average of when women may be feeling first movement? Do you choose viability, like the Supreme Court, which is based on several variables, and is difficult to determine? Why does this life trump the autonomy of the woman whose body it resides in? How is anti-choice ever not a way of controlling a woman’s body?

    As a reminder, you have spent an inordinate amount of time berating AK for stereotyping those who oppose abortion, so I’m looking forward to a nuanced presentation of the issues from your perspective.

  313. #313 gl
    April 21, 2010

    Snowy –

    I’m sorry that you feel that way, but you are looking at the Church through the lens of power struggles. That is the worldly view. Are there priests that abuse their roles? Yes, they can sin too, and they hurt us all when they do. But they are meant to be servants, and most do their job well. In fact we are all to imitate the founder of the Church, and He came to serve.

    The Church has great reverence for women. In fact, we are often ridiculed by the Protestants because we hold Mary in such high esteem. Men and women and have different roles. The world sees some roles as more powerful than others. The Church does not see it that way.

    So I do not accept your premise.

  314. #314 Snowy Owl
    April 21, 2010

    Gl

    Do not tell me that Christians has Women in High esteem please read your bible, old testament and new testament alike particularly Paul.

    This post is sin by omission my friend.

    See why people are flushin the Christian Faith, it is lying by omission all the time.

  315. #315 Snowy Owl
    April 21, 2010

    Sorry all, but this whole debate about abortion is unjust for women, it is arrogant from men and is allowed in religions that allowed the killing of baby girls.

    Altouh Christians are more modern it is still based on 2 000 years values and system, wake up, women now have a Soul and finally freedom of choice concerning her bosy.

    People intruding in the Minds, Souls and Bodies of Women are archaic manhood followed y sheep women.

    It is insulting.

    Just minf your own business within the sealed wall of your CHurches.

    You are facist ny definition, no way to get around this because your dictacts and opinion reminds me of a lot of suffering.

    Evoluate, you dogmas are bluntly retarded.

  316. #316 thelastdemocrat
    April 22, 2010

    Vera: Romania? in one of the most kooky chapters of history? You are gonna have to string together the pieces for me. I have no idea what this little suggestion might indicate. Is it: Things were bad with Ceaucescu because he wanted his countrymen to have large families?

    Large families are bad?

    Have you changed your main reason for favoring state-sanctioned killing of these babies that you acknowledge are alive? Are you now going to the “overpopulation” story? Was the drive for families with many babies the cause of the terrible string of events in Romania with Ceaucescu?

    I am really lost on this line of argument. I don’t see it related to the “quickening” argument, or the “lesser of two tyrannies” argument. At all.

    Then, Vera said: “Democrat said: “So, if I do have this right, your view of our societal compromise is that we sacrifice a few alive fetuses”

    No, I am not interested in sacrificing anyone. I am interested in a political system that does not get in between a woman and her conscience in the first half of pregnancy.”

    –OK, I got it. A woman gets the private decision about whether to exterminate her living fetus, up to the mid-point of gestation. you’ve got to crack a few eggs to make an omelette. If a few children are sacrificed along the way, that is just the cost of leaving a woman the privacy for her own judgment about whether to kill of her baby.

    Check. I got it. We are clear now.

  317. #317 vera
    April 22, 2010

    Heh. After endless attacks getting smeared by the fantasies of the choicers, I have to suffer thru the smears of the fantasies of the lifers? Life can be so cruel… ;)

    Democrat, this thread is old and tired. If you want to calm down, stop jumping to conclusions, and actually talk with me, I am game. If you’d just rather fulminate, I got better things to do.

    The problem with Ceaucescu was not that he wanted large families. The problem was that he used tyranny to get his goals. Tell me how exactly you would get your own goal — no aborted fetuses at all — without tyranny? If you will look, even under Romania’s draconian laws, abortions persisted. How do you propose to do even “better” than Ceaucescu himself?

    Keep this in mind: You and I, we share the dream of an abortion-free world. We are talking here about the means of how to get there.

  318. #318 Ender
    April 22, 2010

    Fuck! I was halfway through a post when I ‘saved’ the page as if it was Word, without really thinking. Turns out that’s the refresh button. >0 I was neglecting my work to finish that post so I can’t retype it all now. (and it was quite good if I say so myself, possibly the greatest post in the world… but this is just a tribute… oh hohoho)

    Sorry about that ildi, I’ll be home in two and a half hours so I’ll get to it then.

  319. #319 Ender
    April 22, 2010

    The problem with Ceaucescu was not that he wanted large families. The problem was that he used tyranny to get his goals. Tell me how exactly you would get your own goal — no aborted fetuses at all — without tyranny? If you will look, even under Romania’s draconian laws, abortions persisted. How do you propose to do even “better” than Ceaucescu himself?

    Sorry idli, but you wanted a nuanced well thought out post whereas I’m dashing this one off in seconds.

    This is a very good point and one the pro-life movement needs to think about. The fact is that the battle for public opinion is lost, always was going to be lost and is only going to get worse as religious people start to vanish. Without public support you cannot democratically enforce an abortion ban, you must either give up on it or enforce it through tyranny and power.
    What we need to do is research artificial wombs to the point when the choice people are presented with is a) have and abortion and kill the foetus b) transplant the foetus into the artificial womb and either birth + adopt it or freeze it until it is wanted. Then people will have less incentive to choose abortion.

  320. #320 thelastdemocrat
    April 22, 2010

    Vera: you defended some aspect of your views by obliquely referring to a brief period of Rumanian history. I am trying to dialog with you. I could not follow the line of thinking from the ‘tyranny’ topic to Rumanian revolution. I was trying to fill in the blanks to foster the clear discussion.

    Vera and Ender: Yes, I believe abortions should be illegal. We have laws against a bunch of stuff. Call it ‘tyranny’ if you want. It is not legal to kill your infant (excluding the rare, various end-of-life pull-the-plug issues).

    I don’t see illegal abortion as any more tyrannical than the laws about killing our infants. Or our spouses. Or our parents.

    Y’all are gona have to help me see the ‘abortion should be legal (up to ‘quickening’) in order to prevent tyranny’ argument.

  321. #321 vera
    April 22, 2010

    Democrat: have you thought through the consequences of the draconian laws you propose? (I pointed you to Romania because the consequences there are well known.) Please show me that you have followed that train of thought… how exactly do you envision this to work?

  322. #322 ildi
    April 22, 2010

    I don’t see illegal abortion as any more tyrannical than the laws about killing our infants. Or our spouses. Or our parents.

    It’s tyrannical because you place little or no value on the woman’s (or girl’s) life at the expense of the fetus. Here is an example:

    In a move that ought to raise eyebrows even among pro-life groups, the Nicaraguan government is denying cancer treatment to a woman because she is pregnant. This is only the latest outrage in a country that has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world.

    The case concerns a 27-year-old woman known as Amalia (not her real name) who has cancer that is suspected to have spread to her brain, lungs and breasts. But Nicaraguan authorities have withheld life-saving treatment from her because it could harm the fetus and violate the country’s total ban on abortion.

    The decision has ignited furious protests from relatives and campaigners who say that Amalia — who has a 10-year-old daughter and is 10 weeks pregnant — will die unless treated. Amnesty International has called on the Nicaraguan government to provide the urgent chemotherapy and radiotherapy that her doctors recommend. A government-run medical commission is expected to announce a decision on Monday.

    Nicaragua has one of the most draconian abortion laws in the world. It is one of the few countries to prohibit abortion under any circumstances. Girls and women who seek an abortion — as well as health professionals who provide health services associated with abortion — face jail.

    Needless to say, these restrictions have taken their toll. According to official figures, 33 girls and women died in pregnancy in 2009; the year before, 20 died. Amnesty International believes these figures are only a minimum, as the government itself has acknowledged that the number of maternal deaths is under-recorded.

    Oh, and it gets worse. According to a survey of media reports between 2005 and 2007, 1,247 girls were reported in newspapers to have been raped or to been the victims of incest in Nicaragua. Of these crimes, 198 were reported to have resulted in pregnancy. The overwhelming majority of the girls made pregnant as a result (172 of them) were between 10 and 14 years old.

    (guardian.co.uk, 23 February 2010)

  323. #323 gl
    April 22, 2010

    “It’s tyrannical because you place little or no value on the woman’s (or girl’s) life at the expense of the fetus.”

    False.

    We place equal value on the woman and the fetus.

    You place little or no value on the life of the fetus.

  324. #324 ildi
    April 22, 2010

    We place equal value on the woman and the fetus.

    There can be no such thing as equal value when one life is totally contingent for its survival upon the other. How can you say you value a woman equally when you deny her the autonomy to choose not to be an incubator? How is Amalia’s life in the Nicaraguan example being given equal value to the fetus when she’s denied treatment?

    I place little or no value on the life of the fetus at the expense of the life of the woman. The woman bearing the burden of providing life to that fetus is the one who gets to make that value decision.

  325. #325 Snowy Owl
    April 22, 2010

    ildi you are more stubborn than a rock and more injust than a barbarian.

    A women Womb belongs to her not to the law, you are an extremist, a fascist and a dictator.

    Who are you to rule the Womb of a Women.

    I presume your next allegiance will be to destroy bad thoughts once you can know about it…

    You are archaic in your opinion but mostly totally unhumanitarian towards Women.

    Shame on you

  326. #326 ildi
    April 22, 2010

    A women Womb belongs to her not to the law, you are an extremist, a fascist and a dictator.

    Who are you to rule the Womb of a Women.

    Are you being sarcastic, or are you confusing me with someone else?

  327. #327 Snowy Owl
    April 22, 2010

    Sorry my post was directec to gl and Vera

    Snowy

  328. #328 Ender
    April 23, 2010

    Hey sorry ildi went out for a drink after work last night instead of going home, so didn’t post.

    thelastdemocrat: “Vera and Ender: Yes, I believe abortions should be illegal. We have laws against a bunch of stuff. Call it ‘tyranny’ if you want. It is not legal to kill your infant (excluding the rare, various end-of-life pull-the-plug issues).”

    You’ve misunderstood me. What I’m saying is that there is currently no chance that abortion will be made illegal democratically as public opinion weighs heavily in favour of legal abortion. It could be done by a dictator.

    ildi: I just don’t have time to write the response that you deserve, I know if I get started I’ll end up sitting here in an hour and a half putting the finishing touches to a mammoth post that you will never read as it is far too long and boring. Instead I’m going to give a shorter version that does not even attempt to cover all the bases and leave no possible ambiguity for you to find lack of nuance in.

    My position is simple, I’m pro-life, anti-death penalty, pro-social services, liberal, left wing, pro-socialised medicine (nhs ftw*), socialist, and a feminist.

    We need to draw a line somewhere between an adult human being, who shouldn’t be killed**, and sperm/eggs, who needn’t be saved.***
    I, like whoever it was above, don’t draw the line hard and fast, but instead want to err on the safe side, which is conception. No measure such as ‘viability’ that depends on our technical ability rather than an intrinsic quality of the foetus is reasonable. Otherwise we’re left with a situation where foetuses that weren’t human lives 50 years ago when they couldn’t be kept alive out of the womb, are now human lives since we’ve got better technology. Consciousness/sentience/sapience is a good measure, but runs into problems such as, ‘surely newborn babies are less conscious than monkeys, dolphins and other animals?’, ‘what about unconscious people’ and others.
    I personally prefer the objective measures of ‘from the moment that a self-sustaining organism that requires only food and shelter to survive and grow into an adult human exists’, and ‘from the moment the organism gains its own complete genetic code, distinct from its parents’, both of which are at conception. This is also where the logical end result of the ‘viability’ measure end up, as eventually we will have the medical technology to create artificial wombs and transplant the foetus/blastocyst at any stage.

    As for the range of pro-life positions well, as in any large group of people united by only one agreed position (i.e. abortion = killing) there are thousand of different beliefs. I don’t have the time to give an exhaustive overview so I’ll just throw out a few categories. The real key that unites us is the belief that a foetus is no less deserving of continued life than a baby. The reasons that people believe that are almost as varied as the number of people who believe that. There are the religious who believe that God has forbidden it directly, those who believe that they know when the ‘soul’ enters the body. There are those like thelastdemocrat who don’t neccessarily know but want to play it on the safe side, and there are those like me who have chosen scientific criteria that are clearly different to whatever criteria you have chosen. Within each of these categories there are thousands of subtley different nuances of believe, I could go into them but I’d have to research it some, since I mainly know about my own position not that of people who are right for the wrong reasons. :D And I’m not sure you’d be that interested.

    I’m still at work, so I’m going to leave it at that, and I’m not going to proof read it for coherence or nuance, so excuse me if it lacks either. If any point seems un-nuanced or lacking in justification ildi then please ask me about it and I’ll write it out better. If anyone wants to jump in and act like some quote from here ‘proves’ anything about my position, or shows that it’s ‘lacking’ or ‘implies X’ without bothering to check whether I just phrased it poorly, then please re-read my above comment and point it out before acting like you’ve caught me out when really I’m just in a rush and lazy.

    *Even if they wouldn’t have saved Steven Hawking if he was English :D

    **If you disagree then I’m not that interested in talking to you. We can’t argue every a-priori and this is one I’m not interested in changing.
    ***Ditto

    It’s tyrannical because you place little or no value on the woman’s (or girl’s) life at the expense of the fetus. Here is an example:

    That’s not what tyranny means. You could say unjust or even misogynist but it’s not even in the ballpark of tyrannical.

    “There can be no such thing as equal value when one life is totally contingent for its survival upon the other. How can you say you value a woman equally when you deny her the autonomy to choose not to be an incubator? How is Amalia’s life in the Nicaraguan example being given equal value to the fetus when she’s denied treatment?

    Literally that is not true. Clearly your life is of equal value to mine even if I’m carrying you on the end of a rope over a ravine (i.e. your life is contingent for its survival on mine).
    How can we say we value a woman equally when we deny her the autonomy not to be an incubator? Because we also deny the foetus the autonomy not to be an incubator. That is equal. Luckily it never will be one so the question doesn’t come up that often.

    I will try and explain this concept simply in terms of the three laws of Robotics:

    The foetus’ life –
    1) deserving, along with all humans of never being killed,
    2) deserving of autonomy where this does not conflict with the first law
    3) a third law which must not conflict with one and two (I’m out of time, gtg soon so being brief)

    The woman’s life -
    1) deserving, along with all humans of never being killed,
    2) deserving of autonomy where this does not conflict with the first law
    3) a third law which must not conflict with one and two (I’m out of time, gtg soon so being brief)

    You can say that we’re wrong and that the foetus doesn’t deserve the protection of the three laws, but you can’t say that we’re treating them unequally. You would be unequivocally wrong if you did.

  329. #329 Snowy Owl
    April 23, 2010

    Does anybody know if there is a ENpathy Software UPGRADES, it would be very usefull.

  330. #330 vera
    April 23, 2010

    It amazes me that anyone would deny that human life begins at conception, or that abortion is not killing. Such are the perils of putting ideology before biology.

    Ender, how do you look at the issue of state interference? Do you agree that it is a better society that leaves the final decision making to the woman, at least in the early phase?

  331. #331 SNowy Owl
    April 23, 2010

    Last post on this discussion with Feudal Minds,

    OK, forget about abortion, lets make cesarians to women who judge an abortion is better for the foetus and give the foetus to those medieval people, it might help them to understand that women are the owner of their body.

    Have a nice lunch pro-life macho, medieval, invasive, irrespectfull groups.

  332. #332 NJ
    April 23, 2010

    Such are the perils of putting ideology before biology.

    A more perfect example of projection cannot be had…

  333. #333 ildi
    April 23, 2010

    There are those like thelastdemocrat who don’t neccessarily know but want to play it on the safe side, and there are those like me who have chosen scientific criteria that are clearly different to whatever criteria you have chosen.

    From devbio.com:

    Although the opinion that life begins at fertilization is the most popular view among the public, many scientists no longer support this position, as an increasing number of scientific discoveries seem to contradict it. One such discovery in the last twenty years is that research has shown that there is no “moment of fertilization” at all. Scientists now choose to view fertilization as a process that occurs over a period of 12-24 hours. After sperm are released they must remain in the female reproductive tract for seven hours before they are capable of fertilizing the egg. Approximately ten hours are required for the sperm to travel up to the fallopian tube where they find the egg. The meeting of the egg and the sperm itself is not even an instantaneous process, but rather a complex biochemical interaction through which the sperm ultimately reaches the inner portion of the egg. Following fertilization, the chromosomes contained within the sperm and the chromosomes of the egg meet to form a diploid organism, now called a zygote, over a period of 24 hours. (Shannon and Wolter 1990). Thus, even if one were to argue that life begins at fertilization, fertilization is not a moment, but rather a continuous process lasting 12-24 hours, with an additional 24 hours required to complete the formation of a diploid individual.

    The foetus’ life … 2) deserving of autonomy

    That’s the whole point; the fetus is not autonomous. It is tyrannical to make anyone be the unwilling incubator for another life.

    but you can’t say that we’re treating them unequally

    Explain to me, then, how it is equal treatment when in your scenarios the rights of the fetus trump the rights of the woman every time?

  334. #334 daedalus2u
    April 23, 2010

    Vera, actually it is pretty clear that what we mean by “human life” cannot start at conception. Using the “game” of Reductio ad absurdum the idea that “human life” does start at conception is seen to be absurd.

    A single fertilized egg can result in multiple human individuals. Is a set of identical twins one human life or two human lives? How about a set of triplets? If one individual becomes “alive” when a human egg is fertilized, is only one of the twins or triplets alive? Can the others be killed with out killing anyone?

    At the other extreme, multiple fertilized eggs can combine and form a single individual. If a human life starts at conception, what happens when two eggs are fertilized but only one individual is born. Who died? Which one of the fertilized eggs died? Both have somatic daughter cells that are alive in the individual. When did one of them died? In the case of the Utah law criminalizing miscarriage, which one is the mother responsible for killing?

    The idea that what we think of as “human life” starts when a human egg is fertilized cannot be correct, or these exceptions to that idea would not exist. They do exist, so the idea of when “human life” starts has to be different so as to be compatible with reality. As you say:

    “Such are the perils of putting ideology before biology”

  335. #335 vera
    April 23, 2010

    “Thus, even if one were to argue that life begins at fertilization, fertilization is not a moment, but rather a continuous process lasting 12-24 hours, with an additional 24 hours required to complete the formation of a diploid individual.”

    Ok, ildi, I buy that. So how does that contradict the point that we each began our lives at conception? I did not claim anywhere that it has to be down-to-the-second instantaneous.

    Daedalus, when did your life begin?

    Twins too begin life at around fertilization. If multiple ova form an individual, his or her life still begins at around fertilization, once the unique individual forms. Where is the controversy?

    You folks are dwelling on technicalities I did not have in mind when I first spoke, but that in no way contradict my claim. If you want to say that human life begins when the diploid individual first forms, you won’t hear a peep from me.

  336. #336 daedalus2u
    April 23, 2010

    vera, a unique individual doesn’t form at around fertilization. What about people who are chimeric? You don’t have a biologically based or scientifically based definition.

    That reminds me of the Catholic Church defining life to start as conception. When Joe Biden said that he accepted Church Dogma that life began at conception,, the Church contradicted him and said it wasn’t “dogma”, it was scientific fact. Not.

    When an adult experiences brain death, they are considered to be not a human life. How can a mass of cells without a brain be considered a human life if we adopt a “brain death” standard? Same with a heart if we adopt a “beating heart” standard. In the Bible, it talks about the “breath of life”. A breathing standard would seem to be the most Biblical. That puts it at birth.

    If it is all about “potential”, then what about stem cells? If a cell can be programmed into a totipotent stem cell, then it is as good as a fertilized egg. Does that make it a “human life”?

  337. #337 vera
    April 24, 2010

    “When an adult experiences brain death, they are considered to be not a human life.”

    Really? What are they then? The inhuman undead? Tell that to the relatives coming to visit them at the ICU.

    People who are chimeric also form a unique individual at some point around conception. As did you, and all of us. While it may take a couple of days, as ildi said, that does not negate the biological fact that our living human selves began at that time.

    It’s not about “potential.” Here is how it goes:

    Is it human? Yes.
    Is it alive? Yes.
    Is it a unique individual? Yes.
    Ergo, it’s a human critter.
    Basic biology.

  338. #338 daedalus2u
    April 24, 2010

    vera, brain dead is dead. Not a living human being any more. That is why they can be used as organ donors without the surgeons doing the operation being guilty of murder.

    Or do you think that surgeons who do organ transplants from cadaver donors are guilty of murder? They can’t wait until the organ is dead before transplanting it, or it wouldn’t function.

  339. #339 Paula
    April 24, 2010

    daedalus2u: “People who are chimeric”? What’s that?

  340. #340 daedalus2u
    April 24, 2010

    It is a person derived from multiple cells, more than a single fertilized egg.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimera_(genetics)

  341. #341 vera
    April 24, 2010

    Daedalus, now you are bringing in legal issues. Whether or not a surgeon is committing a murder or not is a legal issue, not biology. Whether or not people who are brain dead ought to be declared dead, as they are unviable and afflicted with a terminal pathology, even if they are not clinically dead, so that their organs can be harvested, is of practical concern, but how can that possibly illuminate the fate of a fetus who is fully alive and viable and without pathology? (In any case, even here there are controversies, and not all accept brain dead as dead. Again, that is another discussion.)

    The point I was making is that the critter that is formed at conception (or, more precisely, within a few of days of fertilization) is a living, human, unique individual. Those who refuse to recognize something so basic put ideology above honesty and biology, IMO. I was there once too. But cognitive dissonance goes only so far.

    This discussion has been illuminating, and I thank all who have helped me understand the issues better.

  342. #342 Ender
    April 26, 2010

    ildi:“Explain to me, then, how it is equal treatment when in your scenarios the rights of the fetus trump the rights of the woman every time?”

    But they don’t… that’s what I’m saying. Would you claim that my rights trump yours every time because you’re not allowed to stab me?
    The right to autonomy (having an abortion/stabbing someone) is always trumped by the right to life (the life of the foetus/my life). You can disagree that the foetus is in fact a human life, but you cannot say that we’re treating them unequally.

    vera:“Ender, how do you look at the issue of state interference? Do you agree that it is a better society that leaves the final decision making to the woman, at least in the early phase?

    No, and I’m not sure why anyone would, who believed as I do that life starts at conception. If you’re waiting on quickening or consciousness then I could see that argument but not otherwise. Do you think that it’s better even if life begins at conception?

    vera:“Such are the perils of putting ideology before biology.”
    NJ:A more perfect example of projection cannot be had…
    ildi:As you say:
    “Such are the perils of putting ideology before biology”
    vera:The point I was making is that the critter that is formed at conception (or, more precisely, within a few of days of fertilization) is a living, human, unique individual. Those who refuse to recognize something so basic put ideology above honesty and biology, IMO

    You’re all wrong. Some people on either side may well have doubts, but to suggest that the only reason people disagree with you is because they are holding on to ideology over what they know, scientifically, to be true is just blind. The vast majority of people on both sides believe what they are saying, the pro-lifers believe that it’s a human life and that science will bear this out, the pro-choicers believe that either it isn’t a human life and the science will bear it out, or it is a human life and that the rights of the mother trump its rights and moral philosophy will bear it out.
    If you get caught up in a distorted view of the people you are disagreeing with you will never understand them, and that means you will never understand the issue properly at all.

  343. #343 daedalus4u
    April 26, 2010

    Vera, the most important part of a human being is considered to be their brain, such that when their brain is dead, then they are considered to be dead. If a human body without a living brain is considered to not be a living human being, how can cells without a brain be considered to be a living human being?

    And no, individuals that are brain dead are not considered dead because they don’t have the potential to recover, they are considered dead because they don’t have a living brain. There are lots of terminally sick individuals who don’t have the potential to recover. They are not considered dead until they experience brain death.

    Ender, in no other circumstance does saving one individual’s life trump the bodily integrity of another. If it did, then people with two kidneys could be forced to donate one to someone without a kidney. People could be forced to donate blood, bone marrow, and partial liver donations. Why don’t the pro-life people advocate for those forced donations? Those donations would save lives. The reason is because people who call themselves pro-life, really aren’t about trying to save lives, or even to prevent abortions (if they were they would encourage effective contraception and they don’t).

  344. #344 vera
    April 26, 2010

    Ender, people put ideology before other things all the time. I have done it too. It irritates me when I do it, and when others do it. I don’t think it’s helpful at all. Why get so riled about it? Beliefs are just abstractions. Dime a dozen. Maybe I am missing your point. Maybe you are arguing it’s disrespectful to say it? But then, how is it respectful to blast back that I am blind?

    Daedalus said: “the most important part of a human being is considered to be their brain”

    That reminds me of a quip I read recently:
    I have always believed that the brain is the most important part of my body. Then I realized who was telling me this. :-)

    Daedalus… since you are arguing that the early fetus is not alive because it does not have a brain, let me ask you this: Does the fetus become alive when it grows a brain, in your view? Doesn’t that happen much before birth?

  345. #345 vera
    April 26, 2010

    Ender said: “No, and I’m not sure why anyone would, who believed as I do that life starts at conception. If you’re waiting on quickening or consciousness then I could see that argument but not otherwise. Do you think that it’s better even if life begins at conception?”

    Yes, I do, and I have challenged Democrat to show me he had thought through what sort of society we’d have if women could not make that choice themselves. Have you thought it through? Can you describe what you see happening? Or are you putting principle before what actually happens with real people in real situations? ;-)

  346. #346 daedalus4u
    April 26, 2010

    Vera, I am arguing an early fetus is not a “living human person” because it does not have a brain. Anything comprised of human cells is “human”, and if those cells are living is “alive”, but in the case of brain dead individuals they are not considered a “living human person” because they lack a living brain even though other parts of their bodies are alive, liver, kidneys, heart, skin, muscle. Some cells can live for a long time. Does that make the person still alive? Is Henrietta Lacks still alive? Is she still a “living human person”?

    When I donate blood, my blood is “human”, and is “alive”; is it a “living human person”? What criteria are you using to distinguish between “living human cells” and “living human person”.

  347. #347 ildi
    April 26, 2010

    Ender

    Clearly your life is of equal value to mine even if I’m carrying you on the end of a rope over a ravine

    You can REFUSE to carry me over the ravine! It would not be ok for me to force you to carry me over the ravine, and if you dropped me halfway if it was too much for you, that would not be the same as stabbing me (especially if I forced you to carry me to begin with), just as abortion is not the same as stabbing someone. You cannot be valuing both equally when you force one to put their life at risk for another w/out their consent. What is so difficult to grasp about this concept?

    The right to autonomy (having an abortion/stabbing someone) is always trumped by the right to life (the life of the foetus/my life).

    By your logic, anyone who is tested compatible for blood/organ donations should be required to donate that blood or organ because their right to autonomy trumps the life of the donee.

    Ender

    the pro-lifers believe that it’s a human life and that science will bear this out

    and

    vera

    The point I was making is that the critter that is formed at conception (or, more precisely, within a few of days of fertilization) is a living, human, unique individual.

    Science doesn’t bear either of these statements out. The fetus is no more an individual at this point than someone who is brain dead.

  348. #348 ildi
    April 26, 2010

    More properly, the embryo at this point.

  349. #349 vera
    April 26, 2010

    Daedalus, I was not aware that we were arguing about personhood. I certainly wasn’t. Your blood does not enter into it, it’s not unique. I was simply stating that the early fetus is alive, human, and a unique individual, is all.

    When does the fetus become alive according to your brain criterion? And are you saying that once it has a brain, you claim it’s a person?

    Ildi, your quote: Thus, even if one were to argue that life begins at fertilization, fertilization is not a moment, but rather a continuous process lasting 12-24 hours, with an additional 24 hours required to complete the formation of a diploid individual.

  350. #350 Ender
    April 26, 2010

    “Science doesn’t bear either of these statements out. The fetus is no more an individual at this point than someone who is brain dead.”

    What exact scientific evidence shows that a foetus is not an individual. Cites please, we can’t just go on hearsay.

    Cites are also needed for your claim that scienctific evidence shows that a foetus is not a human life.

    You can REFUSE to carry me over the ravine! It would not be ok for me to force you to carry me over the ravine, and if you dropped me halfway if it was too much for you, that would not be the same as stabbing me (especially if I forced you to carry me to begin with), just as abortion is not the same as stabbing someone.

    If I’m already carrying you across the ravine and I deliberately drop you that is murder*, which is comparable in this metaphor to abortion. If I drop you because I can’t carry you any more then it’s not murder, and is comparable to miscarriage or abortion to save the life of the mother. And you will only be prosecuted in certain circumstances, like if you run a mountain climbing school and you had a legal responsibility not to let people drop, but not if you’re trying desperately to get home after a plane crash and you just can’t carry me any more.
    And if you did force me to start carrying you over the ravine it would still be murder if I chose to drop you to your death half way across.

    This is a moot point for you, if you don’t believe that the foetus is a human life. In that case it doesn’t matter whether you should abrogate someone’s right to bodily integrity to save a life, as there is no life to save.
    Are you sure you actually want to be arguing that a person’s right to life does not trump another person’s right to make autonomous decisions that result in the first person’s death? Have you not taken a left turn somewhere?

    *In real life, this is actually the law. If you deliberately drop someone off the end of a rope when you’re carrying them over a ravine you will go to prison.

    “Yes, I do, and I have challenged Democrat to show me he had thought through what sort of society we’d have if women could not make that choice themselves. Have you thought it through? Can you describe what you see happening? Or are you putting principle before what actually happens with real people in real situations? ;-)”

    I didn’t read your conversation with Democrat very thoroughly, are you saying that banning early-term abortions is intrinsically linked to oppression and tyranny? That in every situation it will lead to ‘that-tragedy-you-mentioned’ style horror? If so, why?

    If that is what you’re saying, I think it would be entirely possible to enforce a total ban on abortion without resorting to tyranny. It would just depend on how, and in what situation the ban came about.

    Ender, people put ideology before other things all the time. I have done it too. It irritates me when I do it, and when others do it. I don’t think it’s helpful at all. Why get so riled about it?

    It’s not that I think no-one ever puts ideology before science, or that I think it’s disrespectful to say that some people doe, it’s that what you said wasn’t that. You didn’t say ‘some pro-choicers…’ or ‘I found that for me I’d been putting ideology above science, others must have too…’ but instead: “Those who refuse to recognize something so basic [life begins at conception] put ideology above honesty and biology, IMO. – That’s a pretty unequivocal sounding slam on all those who refuse to recognise’. If I said ‘Those who follow Jesus are douchenozzles’ you would probably assume I was talking about all those who follow Jesus, not just some of them.
    If your point was that a majority of them are like that – then make that actual point and be ready to be called on it – if that’s not your point… what is? Why have you brought that up? If you’re going to be vague and talk in generalities then you’re going to be innaccurate and vague, and that adds nothing to the conversation – except a load of offended pro-choicers who genuinely believe the foetus isn’t a human life – and they’re not going to be interested in having reasoned debate with someone who so obviously doesn’t get them. Thus the whole thing descends into bitching.

    The other people’s comments and your first one were the same “I can read your mind and tell you what you really feel about this issue – and guess what you’re an intellectual hypocrite!” provocative declarations that just serve to rile people up, and are at best a complete guess since the combined skills of all the psychiatrists in the world couldn’t that accurate a read on someone from these few posts on a blog.

    “Ender, in no other circumstance does saving one individual’s life trump the bodily integrity of another. If it did, then people with two kidneys could be forced to donate one to someone without a kidney. People could be forced to donate blood, bone marrow, and partial liver donations. Why don’t the pro-life people advocate for those forced donations? Those donations would save lives.”

    Up until here you’re making a point, then you go and say something that makes you look stupid:

    “The reason is because people who call themselves pro-life, really aren’t about trying to save lives, or even to prevent abortions (if they were they would encourage effective contraception and they don’t).”

    You can’t read minds, and it appears you can’t empathise or understand the other side any more than many people in this thread.
    To break it down for you simply:
    Having a different opinion from you about the best method to prevent abortion =/= Not really being about preventing abortions
    Being against abortions and contraception =/= Not really being about preventing abortions.

    So, that done with – your proper point:
    You say that the right to life never trumps the right to bodily integrity in other circumstances. It doesn’t really come up very often, since there are few circumstances where it could apply. If you take the case of someone in a collapsed building with their leg trapped on top of someone else’s neck. In that case it would be entirely justifiable to break that person’s leg to save the other person’s life. Which is a more comparable situation to abortion than forced organ donations.
    On that though, I’m not so sure that I’m against that on principle either. I wouldn’t trust our current government nor any other we’ve had with that kind of power over our bodies, so for boring practical reasons I couldn’t support it, but given a hypothetical incorruptible system where all the good organs wouldn’t be hijacked for profit, where the only goal was to save lives, and where outcome studies proved that there was a net saving of lives with forced organ donation, then yes, I could get behind it. And mandatory blood and marrow drives.
    To give a much more comparable hypothetical than our two: If there were a horrible accident, and surgeons managed to hook up someone to my (or anyone’s) kidneys in an experimental procedure, one which required a ten month recovery period before removing him otherwise he would die, I would say that to cut him off the kidney would indeed be murder.

  351. #351 Ender
    April 26, 2010

    vera said:”Daedalus, I was not aware that we were arguing about personhood. I certainly wasn’t. Your blood does not enter into it, it’s not unique. I was simply stating that the early fetus is alive, human, and a unique individual, is all.

    You need to drop the modifier unique. It’s not true, as in the case of a) random chance that someone has the same genetic code (a very small but real chance) b) identical twins, and anyway it doesn’t make a difference – if I had a ray gun that duplicated you exactly you would no longer be unique but this would not diminish your right to life, so being unique doesn’t strengthen the argument for giving the foetus the right to life.

  352. #352 daedalus4u
    April 26, 2010

    Ender, how many kidneys do you have? Have you donated a kidney? If you haven’t, then you are a hypocrite.

    http://www.mayoclinic.org/kidney-transplant/livingdonorfaq.html

    All the people who call themselves “pro-life” but are unwilling to donate their own kidneys are hypocrites.

    Wanting a perfect system of organ allocation before donating a kidney is disingenuous. If all the people who claimed to be pro-life did donate a kidney, there wouldn’t be any shortage. The shortage only exists because people who claim they are “pro-life” put their own bodily integrity and their own convenience above someone else’s life.

    You don’t need to wait, you could volunteer to donate a kidney right now. All the “pro-life” people could volunteer to donate their extra kidneys right now. That would really demonstrate that they are really pro-life and not just anti-abortion.

  353. #353 thelastdemocrat
    April 27, 2010

    “I have challenged Democrat to show me he had thought through what sort of society we’d have if women could not make that choice themselves. Have you thought it through? Can you describe what you see happening? Or are you putting principle before what actually happens with real people in real situations? ;-)”

    –People are actually having productive discussions on this post, so I am gonna throw in a bit more thought.

    As far as society, I would have the best guess at United States. What we would have here is more children, and our demographic profile would change some. In the U.S., we have about 1.2 million abortions, per year, and also about 4 million births per year. So, our population growth would jump by 20 or 25% at first.

    We abort 90% of children who we believe, with a five percent error rate, to have Down Syndrome. So, we would have several thousand more people with mental retardation (soon to be “intellectual/developmental disabilities”).

    We abort a fair amount of babies detected as positive for cystic fibrosis, despite the fact that these are decent, productive, loving people with a live expectancy of at least 37 years, so there would be a couple thousand more, maybe more, ppl with CF per year.

    There is a small sex-selection effect in the U.S., from some Asians bringing that cultural preference over here to U.S. So, among all of the population increase, there would be a few more Asian females.

    The most notable demographic change would be that the African American portion of our population would no longer hover at 15% or whatever it has been for a long time. One out of three Black babies is aborted. The Black populaton would begin to grow as a portion of our population overall.

    This would go on for a while. Then, our culture would greatly begin to reconnect sexual activity to pregnancy, child-bearing, and family. People would begin, of their own volition, to keep their pants on a little more.

    It takes resources from society to raise a child, including a child with CF or MR. However, overall, our life expectancy is close to 80, so for the overwhelming part, each of these added citizens would ADD to our economic power and tax base, with productivity from say 18 years old to 68 yo, a span of paying taxes into govt for 50 years. Sure, subtract out some years for unemployment-in-school, unemployment/childraising, disability, etc.

    But there is an anthropoligical ratio of economically producing people to non-producing/dependent people (each productive person, on average, has to produce more than they require to live, so the surplus can be moved around to care for the non-productive people – thru extended family help, private insruance, or govt programs), and we will have no threat to this ratio.

    We will have to figure out what to do with the people with MR. That would be the biggest challenge.

    But part of that burden is our preference for having babies at later adult ages (if we are pregnant earlier than 35yo, we just pay the abortionist $500, and wait until we are ready to raise children).

    Without legal abortion, we will screw our heads on straighter, and figure out moer strongly that having kids when we are 40+ is far from ideal. Sure, we have “established our career,” but our energy level is lower, and we are more likely to have babies with MR. So, my guess is our preference will shift to having kids long before 40 yo.

    There were possibly a few thousand illegal abortions per year before Roe v Wade. My guess is we will go back to that. Some argue that we need legal abortion to prevent illegal abortion. Pretty goofty: why don’t we just legalize all murder, so there are no illegal murders?

    We can enforce illegal abortion to some degree, but to some degree it will happen anyway. Same with any crime. Illegal abortions happen nowadays anyway, with boyfriends punching girlfriends in the stomach, etc., so no big diff, except the grander number is the million plus that will no longer happen.

    The abortion lobby would lose political power. PP would disappear, since there are too many alternatives for birth control.

    The democratic party would be free of the suicide pact it has with the pro-abortion forces, and woudl return to Ted Kennedy’s original abortion view, as well as the original abortion view of Jesse Jackson (who himself allowed his out-of-marriage baby to be born).

    In all of this, I do not see the moral majority oppressing people, or whatever nightmare is suggested to some people. Our civility and humanity will be tested, and I believe we will rise to the occasion.

    Some of these kids will be awesome artists, teachers, inventors, astronauts, statesmen, coaches, moms, dads, etc.

    Democrats like me will carry on with our democratic, American views. Republicans will continue to support some strong aspects of the U.S., while ignoring the problems faced by the realtively powerless, such as account-holders in relation to banks, walmart employees in relation to walmart, etc. A lot of other Americans will carry on with their strident, divisive rhetoric fed to them by the marxists, some with knowing this and some being ignorant of all of this. Cries of “Racism” will continue to be as popular in political rhetoric as Hitler analogies.

    Snowy Owl will shout oppression to almost anything, so, in a world with no legal abortion, I would continue to ignore his or her panflamics. I will continue to pay atten to Vera, who keeps coming up with interesting stuff.

  354. #354 vera
    April 27, 2010

    Ender: “You need to drop the modifier unique. It’s not true, as in the case of a) random chance that someone has the same genetic code (a very small but real chance) b) identical twins, and anyway it doesn’t make a difference”

    If I simply stated that some entity is a live and human, it would pose no argument at all. My appendix is alive and human. Besides, I did not say specifically “genetic.” Identical twins are far from identical, even physically, though they share genetic endowment. If you got cloned, the clone would superficially look like you, but would be very much a unique individual. I believe this individuation begins very early in the womb. What do the scientists here say?

  355. #355 vera
    April 27, 2010

    Democrat, and here I thought you had thrown in the towel! :-) I nearly did.

    So lets look at your predictions of what would likely happen. Yes, there would be a sizable jump in population. What effects this would have in an age of growing and converging problems and possible economic collapse is not pretty to contemplate. But I will not take us on a journey toward that. I agree with you. An interesting aside: if the current trends continue, then America will be in about 120 years (?, I forget the exact calculation) largely Amish, Mennonite and Mormon. And the genetic lines of people who today practice restraint (no child or one) will be largely deleted from the gene pool.

    There would be many illegal abortions. Since under illegality, accurate statistics cannot be gotten, we do not know exactly how many illegal abortions were performed earlier. Could be many more than you think. Then there would be huge numbers of foreign abortions. Mexican border towns would get another boost, as we would be exporting our problems to them. The luckier women would go to Canada and other countries. A lot of wealth would be transfered to the illegal sector (making criminal cartels very happy) and abroad.

    Back alley butcher abortionists would be back. Women would begin dying of self-induced and poorly done abortion. In some circles, self-help abortions would be revived… they were done in groups of radical women in the early 80s.

    There would be a sizable increase in infanticide, crime (as unwanted, angry and poorly raised kids moved into adolescence and early adulthood), and dumping babies at orphanages. In fact, the orphanage business would boom in a huge way, and many of these children would grow up unadopted and miserable. Just like in the old days. Women and doctors would go to jail for murder.

    If access to birth control was restricted as well, that would make married people, just like in Rumania, afraid to have relations for fear of another conception. And many women would, once again, feel like second class citizens who are penalized for their biology, and – after knowing another system – be absolutely furious.

    Now let us move into the political sphere, where my argument lay. It is easy to dream of “fixing” some social evil through cracking down, top-down. But unless there is considerable societal consensus, it does not work. If it did, the laws making marijuana illegal would have produced a populace that hardly ever touches the stuff, and where kids do not have access. In fact, they have done just the opposite. That is because people who reach for force think in simplistic terms and do not understand how it works systemically.

    Ok. So here we are. Large numbers of average Americans, I seem to recall from some recent polls, lean pro-life, but at the same time, are not in favor of outlawing early abortions. Most families have been touched by these issues one way or another. Then there is the smaller but very vocal, educated and angry contingent with political clout who are vehemently opposed to the curtailment of women’s autonomy, and will fight back. The medical establishment is largely in favor of choice. How exactly do you force all these people to just … er, do it your way? Ender seems to think there is a way that does not reach for dictatorship-type tactics. I await you telling me how exactly you propose to get it accomplished.

    Thank you for your kind words. Will be looking forward to your thoughts.

  356. #356 thelastdemocrat
    April 27, 2010

    I agree. We should kill kids before they are born since they might commit crimes if we allow them to be born.

    Vera: if you want, go ahead and paint the picture of how we are on the verge of imminent population collapse, under the weight of all of these babies. I would love to hear how we should kill some humans now so others do not die by some hypothesized disaster, later.

    You might start noting that your pattern is to throw a bit out there of some undeveloped argument, then feel like the rhetoric has carried the day. Then, discussed, at length, it starts to sound less appealing: the “quickening” argument, the “crime” argument, the “populaton bomb” argument, the “keep-it-legal-so-it-is-safe” argument, etc.

    Do you have a solid reason why you believe abortions-before-quickening are OK, or are you going to some encyclopedia of pro-choice arguments somewhere?

    Here is my argument: the kid is alive. Deal with it.

  357. #357 vera
    April 27, 2010

    Yes, the fetus is alive. You and I agree.

    Now, let’s not get into fulminating here. I think we can do better. I was simply pointing out some of the downsides of your social engineering scheme. All social engineering schemes have downsides, and it seemed to me you would rather only see the positives.

    Now, answer my real question: How exactly do you force all these people to just … er, do it your way?

  358. #358 Ender
    April 28, 2010

    Ender, how many kidneys do you have? Have you donated a kidney? If you haven’t, then you are a hypocrite.

    http://www.mayoclinic.org/kidney-transplant/livingdonorfaq.html

    All the people who call themselves “pro-life” but are unwilling to donate their own kidneys are hypocrites.

    Yes, in the same way that anyone who believes that human lives deserve to be saved but doesn’t donate all their available money* to charities that save lives in Africa, is a hypocrite. i.e. In the way that everyone is a hypocrite – whatever our moral beliefs few people actually go the whole hog and endure extreme self-sacrifice to fulfill them.

    So really, what’s your point? You do realise that the pro-life arguments in this thread are true or false regardless?

    *i.e. all the money they don’t need to live and continue producing money

    “The shortage only exists because people who claim they are “pro-life” put their own bodily integrity and their own convenience above someone else’s life.”

    Yes, and that’s a bad thing. Just like when a pregnant person puts their own bodily integrity and their own convenience above someone else’s life.

    Very interesting post Democrat,

    “We abort 90% of children who we believe, with a five percent error rate, to have Down Syndrome”

    That’s sickening, callous ableist discrimination.

    We abort a fair amount of babies detected as positive for cystic fibrosis, despite the fact that these are decent, productive, loving people with a live expectancy of at least 37 years

    Ditto, though I don’t know the range of severity of CF so it could be justified in some circumstances.

    Without legal abortion, we will screw our heads on straighter, and figure out moer strongly that having kids when we are 40+ is far from ideal. Sure, we have “established our career,” but our energy level is lower, and we are more likely to have babies with MR. So, my guess is our preference will shift to having kids long before 40 yo.

    No, I don’t see this. Without legal abortion people who get pregnant before 40 will be forced to have kids at that age, but I don’t see any reason that would stop people choosing to wait if they don’t get pregnant.

    Pretty goofy: why don’t we just legalize all murder, so there are no illegal murders?

    Yep. It’s another form of begging the question – either abortion is murder and the small number of illegal abortions that would happen were it prohibited is unfortunate but the better of two evils -or- abortion is not murder and should not be made illegal anyway, the illegal abortions that would take place are bad in that the mother (the only party that matters) is more likely to get hurt – but either way the question that determines whether we should make abortion illegal is ‘is abortion murder?’ not ‘will making abortion illegal cause illegal abortions to occur?’

    Snowy Owl will shout oppression to almost anything, so, in a world with no legal abortion, I would continue to ignore his or her panflamics.

    Yes, those were rambly rather pointless posts.

    If I simply stated that some entity is a live and human, it would pose no argument at all. My appendix is alive and human. Besides, I did not say specifically “genetic.” Identical twins are far from identical, even physically, though they share genetic endowment. If you got cloned, the clone would superficially look like you, but would be very much a unique individual. I believe this individuation begins very early in the womb. What do the scientists here say?

    Well I say… it depends on what you mean by individuation. But I’ll get back to your that question in a second.
    Your appendix is unique as well as alive and human – depending on what you mean by the word unique. There is certainly no other appendix that is exactly like yours in every way – so what exactly do you mean?
    Regardless of what you mean, I think that ‘individual’ is a better criteria than ‘unique’ as many things are as unique as a foetus depending on how you define unique, whereas your blood/appendix is not an individual but a foetus is.

    Also very interesting post Vera:

    Back alley butcher abortionists would be back. Women would begin dying of self-induced and poorly done abortion. In some circles, self-help abortions would be revived… they were done in groups of radical women in the early 80s.

    Which is the same as how people sometimes die when procuring back alley butcher hits on people. It’s not a good thing but neither is it a reason to legalise murder.

    There would be a sizable increase in infanticide, crime (as unwanted, angry and poorly raised kids moved into adolescence and early adulthood), and dumping babies at orphanages.

    As democrat said (approx) – this is hardly an argument for aborting these kids, unless you’re arguing that it’s better to be dead than to be unwanted, angry, poorly-raised or in an orphanage. Which would raise the question – why not allow post birth abortions on these kids if they’re better off aborted?

    If access to birth control was restricted as well, that would make married people, just like in Rumania, afraid to have relations for fear of another conception.

    Which is why banning contraception and abortion would be far worse than banning abortion.

    Now let us move into the political sphere, where my argument lay. It is easy to dream of “fixing” some social evil through cracking down, top-down. But unless there is considerable societal consensus, it does not work. If it did, the laws making marijuana illegal would have produced a populace that hardly ever touches the stuff, and where kids do not have access. In fact, they have done just the opposite. That is because people who reach for force think in simplistic terms and do not understand how it works systemically.

    Yes, entirely. Which is why marijuana needs, alongside all drugs, to be legalised. Prohibition doesn’t work without public support.

    Ender seems to think there is a way that does not reach for dictatorship-type tactics. I await you telling me how exactly you propose to get it accomplished.

    Well no, not the way you seem to think I mean it. If you look above (I wouldn’t bother) you’ll see that I actually wrote a post saying “there’s no way we can currently ban abortions without tyranny bc the majority is against us and that doesn’t seem likely to change”, which is approx your position.
    In different circumstances, in the future perhaps, but only if public opinion is swayed, then we can ban abortion non-tyrannically.
    However, I do see great potential for the end of abortion within the next hundred years, as medical technology progresses and we develop artifical wombs. I suspect that public opinion will move when we can transplant foetuses at any point, and the choice is not between:
    “severe inconvenience/potential death” (pregnancy) vs
    “mild inconvenience/less potential death/definite death of foetus” (abortion)

    but is instead between:
    “mild inconvenience/mild potential death/your baby saved for the future” (transplant) vs
    “mild inconvenience/mild potential death/definite death of foetus” (abortion)

  359. #359 vera
    April 28, 2010

    Ender, I was reacting to your comment where you said: “If that is what you’re saying, I think it would be entirely possible to enforce a total ban on abortion without resorting to tyranny. It would just depend on how, and in what situation the ban came about.”
    0.

    I did not realize that you were thinking of a hypothetical future. Do you then support woman’s choice at this given time, with current political realities?

    If so, then we are in sync. I too hope that the future will bring better resolutions of these tragic dilemmas.

    I would like to point out, to your and Democrat’s criticisms of the various consequences I outlined, that I was simply pointing out what would likely happen if his fantasy came true. Whether or not he should worry about rising infanticide or crime is up to him. It’s his fantasy, after all.

    You raise interesting issues with the idea of artificial wombs. Are we headed for a future where saving every tiny fetus is a high priority, or are we heading to a future where humans must find a way to limit their numbers so that other members of the biosphere may live? I personally don’t believe in the possibility of unlimited human numbers any more than I believe in unlimited economic growth. But perhaps this is another discussion entirely! :-)

    I think you made a valid point about me slamming people with globalizing moralizing. Thanks.

    Oh and one more thing. I think daedalus argued himself into a cul-de-sac and took it out on your kidneys. Don’t take it personally. ;-)

    “Prohibition doesn’t work without public support.”

    You’d think Americans would have learned this lesson with alcohol. But noooo…!

  360. #360 daedalus4u
    April 28, 2010

    No Ender, you are the one saying that saving a life trumps personal bodily integrity, not me. But you only seem to believe that when it is someone else’s bodily integrity that is at issue, not yours. Now you even admit that trying to save lives doesn’t even compel you to expend your own money, and yet you still pretend that you are “pro-life”? What lives would you spend your own money on to try and save?

    It is real easy and cheap to compel others to spend their own personal bodily integrity to “save” lives that you wouldn’t even spend money to save. As I said, I judge people on their actions, not on their stated positions which are quite often hypocritical, as you have just shown yours to be. I will say it again. When you are trying to “save” fetuses that are non-viable (i.e. are anencephalic) at the expense of the mother’s personal bodily integrity you are showing that your goal isn’t to save fetuses, but to hurt mothers.

    Vera, we are talking legal personhood. That is the whole point. If a fetus is to have a “right” to life that supersedes its mother’s right to personal bodily integrity, it can only have that “right” if it is a legal person. If the fetus is not a legal person, how can it have any rights? Let alone rights that supersede its mother’s right to personal bodily integrity?

  361. #361 thelastdemocrat
    April 29, 2010

    Two posts to tackle two questions from Vera: last questions first: “How exactly do you force all these people to just … er, do it your way?”

    “My way” is not some social engineering totalitarian scheme. I am just saying that we should extend typical recognizable huiman rights standards to yet another “class or “group” of people for wom they are denied.

    Would you ask Abraham Lincoln his plan to force the CSA to no longer support slavery? Or what, exactly, to do with all of the former slaves?

    How do I “force” people, let’s say the United States in general, to no longer perform abortions as part of regular practice?

    Well, we stopped our forced sterilizaton campaigns, which were ongoing into the 1970s. We largely fixed the problem of emergency room dumping with the EMTALA laws. We have done lots of things because they were right. You just enact the law. Human beings, and health care provides, are pretty creative and adaptive. They are not a population of dolts who cannot fugure out what to do once you enact a seat belt law.

    This seemed to easy to answer. Did I miss something?

  362. #362 Ender
    April 29, 2010

    I did not realize that you were thinking of a hypothetical future. Do you then support woman’s choice at this given time, with current political realities?

    I support choice as far as democracy demands it. If we can raise the political support to pass a law democratically then I probably support banning abortion, but I suspect that in the West we cannot.
    I’m not sure about what Democrat said, I didn’t read the start of your conversation really, so I don’t know exactly how he proposed to pass and enforce his law, so I can’t speak to whether the consequences you mentioned will happen.

    You raise interesting issues with the idea of artificial wombs. Are we headed for a future where saving every tiny fetus is a high priority, or are we heading to a future where humans must find a way to limit their numbers so that other members of the biosphere may live? I personally don’t believe in the possibility of unlimited human numbers any more than I believe in unlimited economic growth. But perhaps this is another discussion entirely! :-)

    I suspect that the fate of foetuses lies in the hands of equitable living. If the future holds increased prosperity and equity for all then foetuses will become a higher priority and technology will allow them to be easily saved, if not then they will never become a priority.

    I think you made a valid point about me slamming people with globalizing moralizing. Thanks.

    Just quoted because I’ve said similar things to lots of people making equivalent statements on the net and you’re the only person who’s listened. Thanks.

    Oh and one more thing. I think daedalus argued himself into a cul-de-sac and took it out on your kidneys. Don’t take it personally. ;-)

    :D

    “Prohibition doesn’t work without public support.”

    You’d think Americans would have learned this lesson with alcohol. But noooo…!

    :p

    daedalus:

    You appear to have abandoned any pretense of addressing the argument or any of the points made in favour of attacking me for being a hypocrite.

    Now you even admit that trying to save lives doesn’t even compel you to expend your own money

    Do you spend all your money, excluding a bare minimum for living, on trying to save lives?

    No?

    Then you’re just as much a hypocrite as I am. What’s your point?

    I will say it again. When you are trying to “save” fetuses that are non-viable (i.e. are anencephalic) at the expense of the mother’s personal bodily integrity you are showing that your goal isn’t to save fetuses, but to hurt mothers.

    No you won’t, you’ll say it for the first time. At least in this conversation with me. Fact is, you’re wrong, but more importantly – I am not trying to save non-viable foetuses. So… again… what’s your point?

  363. #363 thelastdemocrat
    April 29, 2010

    Now, to answer a second issue from Vera: “I was simply pointing out some of the downsides of your social engineering scheme. All social engineering schemes have downsides, and it seemed to me you would rather only see the positives.”

    First: the issue of me being honest about “downsides” to no longer killing people before they are born. Then, the social engineering issue.

    I incorporated “downsides” into my post, and other posts. Such as: if elective abortion were no longer legal, we as a society would have to figure out some way to take care of the great increase in the number of Down Syndrome human beings. I honestly answerd your previous question about what the world would look like. It would have more pairs of mongoloid eyes. That is what it would look like. It would have more people with big heads big grins, congentical heart defects, and short limbs. That is what it would look like.

    This would be an additional challenge added to everytihng else. Myself, I think we should opt for the humane challenge, versus beign a society that practices eugenics: killing the genetically “inferior” so we make things better for the rest of us. Sounds cool. Unless you are the Down Syndrome person, or their family.

    The health care system would have to figure out how to provide care for all of the humans with CF that would be allowed to develop and progress to birth, at which time, under the status quo, they magically become eligible for civil rights. The Annual CF Great Strides Walk is upon us. Make a donation if you can. (you can.)
    http://www.cff.org/great_strides/

    Look: asking for a CF donation is a lot less demanding than asking for a kidney!

    Now: the “social engineering” issue.

    What?

    There are various reasons for favoring the idea that we should not have elective abortion. Some of these are religious/spiritual. Some of these are humanitarian/human rights/civil rights. Some of these are for “social engineering” reasons, such as with Rumania, and with the old-fashioned emphasis from the early Mormon church. In Utah, back in the day, they heavily favored, and really pressured, their young adults to get married, have kids, and thus build their Mormon society. Springing from Salt Lake City, once enough families had been formed out of this social-engineering emphasis, the church leaders would select a handful of families, and designate them to move on down the road and build the next Mormon community. You can see the legacy of this in the geographic string of evenly spaced town radiating out from SLCity. Their symbol was the bee hive. Busy, workign, and reproducing to support the entire hive. Social engineering that favored reproduction.

    I don’t have a view like this. If a family wants 10 babies, have ten. If a family wants 1, or none, have 1, or none. Just don’t achieve that goal by killing off the “excess.”

    My view is more based on freedom. Allow the kid to live, vesus killing the kid, so he or she can be free, like the rest of us. How will we live? Who will we love? What will happen to our demographics? I do not hold a social engineering view, so I cannot answer, and I do not think “we” as an organized representative government community, should answer who should have kids, when where, and how many, and what gender.

    You have me confused with social engineers. Such as the “population bomb” social-engineering hysterical people, a demographic that crosses over greatly with the “global warming ecodisaster” alarmists. They, not me, come up with ideas such as putting birth control drugs in the water supply. Not me.

    Where have we seen abortion as a tool of social engineering? Well, right now, in Communist China. I am not a Communist. It also happened in the former, Soviet Union, and continues in Russia and the former Soviet satellites. Russia: half of pregnancies end in abortion. Khazakhstan: a third. Moldova: a third. Rumania was an exceptional case.

    Rumania had a specific, idiosyncratic, isolated reaction to breaking free of the social engineering carried out by Soviet Uniion: the pendulum swung drastically the other way.

    Social engineering here in the U.S.: Margaret Sanger, the heralded founder of Planned Parenthood (they have not at all disavowed her, and instead give an annual award to the likes of Hillary Clinton in her name), was instrumental in developing and sustaining the American Eugenics Society, before developing PP. She believed that MORE African Americans would be BAD for society. She was a welcome guest speaker for the KKK more than once. Google. Read for yourself.

    You have your history confused: it is the pro-abortion-rights lobby that is into social engineering, not me. I just want people to be as free as possible, with limits to protect us from each other, to make things fair so the powerful (like banks) don’t exploit the less-powerful (such as unfairly discriminating against African-Americans seeking home loans or business loans), and so on. Freedom. Not social engineering.

    Adults are free to “hook up” whenever and wherever they want, as long as they are not harming others directly, and as long as I don’t have to watch. Do I agree with extramarital affairs? No. Should all cheaters be put in jail? Not in my view. Maybe others believe this. I keep my nose out of the business of others. Unless they conceieve a baby, and decide, for their selfish convenience, to kill the baby before it is born. At that point, I believe the govt plays its role to stick up for the relatively powerless.

    You have me confused with the host of people who use the term “democrat,” but are actually totalitarian social engineers, womb to tomb.

    I am sorry, Vera, if I mislead you and made you believe that I have some brainiac plan to make the world a better place, like in “Brave New World” or whatever. I don’t.

    I do have a “plan” (actually an opinion) for here in the United States, to make the world a better place for a baby who is not yet born: give him or her a better than 4/5 chance of being born, based in his or her “inalienable rights”/civil rights / human rights.

    with life, he or she will do what he or she will do: live the free life, like the rest of us, without a govt telling us when to do what where how and with whom. Pay your taxes so we can build freeways and whatever, and otherwise carry on with your life. Until we cross the line of impinging on someone else’s rights. Basic stuff from civics class.

  364. #364 daedalus2u
    April 29, 2010

    Ender, I am not the one telling women they must sacrifice their personal bodily integrity to preserve the life of a fetus. You are. For you to then be unwilling to sacrifice your own personal bodily integrity to save the life of a person makes you a hypocrite. A hypocrite is someone who professes a belief and then does not follow it.

    No where have I said that any individual must sacrifice their personal bodily integrity, or their personal property to save the life of anyone else. If I did advocate that, and then did not practice it myself, then I would be a hypocrite. I am very careful to never ask anyone to do something that I am not willing to do myself. There are people I would sacrifice my personal bodily integrity to save, there are people I would not sacrifice my personal bodily integrity to save. I feel that should be my choice, and my choice alone. I do sacrifice my personal bodily integrity to save people I don’t know. I donate blood very regularly. I have an organ donor card so that if my brain is dead but my organs are not, then productive use can be made of them to save people’s lives.

    People who call themselves “pro-life”, tell women that they must sacrifice their personal bodily integrity to maintain the life of a fetus. If those “pro-life” people were not hypocrites, then they would be willing to sacrifice their own personal bodily integrity to save lives. In virtually all cases they are not. For the most part they are not even willing to sacrifice money to save lives. That is what makes them hypocrites. If you were willing to sacrifice your own personal bodily integrity to save lives, by donating a kidney for example, then you would not be a hypocrite.

    Sorry if pointing out that you are a hypocrite causes you narcissistic injury.

  365. #365 vera
    April 29, 2010

    Daedalus: When does the fetus become a living human, according to your brain criterion? And are you saying that once it has a brain, you claim it’s a person?

    Ender, then we are pretty much in sync. A nice way to end this discussion.

    I suspect that the fate of foetuses lies in the hands of equitable living. If the future holds increased prosperity and equity for all then foetuses will become a higher priority and technology will allow them to be easily saved, if not then they will never become a priority.

    I suppose you are right.

    I’m not sure about what Democrat said, I didn’t read the start of your conversation really, so I don’t know exactly how he proposed to pass and enforce his law

    Ah, there’s the problem. He never did say how. He talks about everything except that.

    Democrat: “Well, we stopped our forced sterilizaton campaigns, which were ongoing into the 1970s. We largely fixed the problem of emergency room dumping with the EMTALA laws. We have done lots of things because they were right. You just enact the law.

    Those other things had widespread support. Your law does not. How do you propose to enact it without dictatorial strategies?

    Yes, you did point to some disadvantages of your scheme. I felt that you paid no attention to others. Sorry about not expressing myself right.

    You propose a scheme of “how things should be,” which you then propose to put into place by “just enacting the law” — without regard for the will of the people. Isn’t that what armchair social engineers do? Moreover, you remain purposefully vague about the political processes that would enact this hugely unpopular law. And then you tell me you are a champion of freedom?! It’s funny how the “social engineers” is always the *other* guys. Until you tell me how you propose to enact such a law, and how you propose to deal with the huge opposition it will provoke, I will not be inclined to take you seriously.

    Laws do not fix anything. They are just a tool. This tool can be misapplied. When it is misapplied, it generates serious social conflicts and disrespect for the legal process itself. I would have thought as a democrat you would understand this.

  366. #366 Ender
    April 29, 2010

    Thanks dude, I know what hypocrite means.

    No where have I said that any individual must sacrifice their personal bodily integrity, or their personal property to save the life of anyone else.

    So if you saw a person dying of anaphylactic shock and you owned and had on you an adrenaline shot that could save their life you don’t think there is any moral onus on you to save their life by sacrificing your property?

    Well, I may be a hypocrite, like everyone else, but in that situation you’d be a murderer, the same as a person who refuses to unwrap a cord stuck round someones neck that’s strangling them to death.

    I am very careful to never ask anyone to do something that I am not willing to do myself

    Good for you. Join the club.

    There are people I would sacrifice my personal bodily integrity to save, there are people I would not sacrifice my personal bodily integrity to save. I feel that should be my choice, and my choice alone.

    I’m sure you do feel that. If you have any moral justification for it then you can lay it out, otherwise that’s just a feeling, and there’s plenty of those to go around, we don’t need to hear about them all.

    I do sacrifice my personal bodily integrity to save people I don’t know. I donate blood very regularly. I have an organ donor card so that if my brain is dead but my organs are not, then productive use can be made of them to save people’s lives.

    Good for you again.

    People who call themselves “pro-life”, tell women that they must sacrifice their personal bodily integrity to maintain the life of a fetus. If those “pro-life” people were not hypocrites, then they would be willing to sacrifice their own personal bodily integrity to save lives. In virtually all cases they are not. For the most part they are not even willing to sacrifice money to save lives. That is what makes them hypocrites. If you were willing to sacrifice your own personal bodily integrity to save lives, by donating a kidney for example, then you would not be a hypocrite.

    Blah blah blah, you still haven’t addressed why pro-life people who don’t sacrifice money to save lives are hypocrites but everyone else (the majority of whom, or at least the majority of liberals, believe that you should sacrifice money to save lives) are not. Until you do you’re just posting over and over “You’re hypocrites like us, but when you do it it’s so much worse!“.
    Not exactly convincing mate.

    Sorry if pointing out that you are a hypocrite causes you narcissistic injury.

    I’d be sorry too. I’d probably quit this discussion in a huff. Luckily I know that people are hypocrites (don’t pretend you’ve never been a hypocrite), I know that in many ways I am too*, you’ve studiously avoided explaining how I’m so much worse than everyone else, so if you’re hoping you’ve hurt my feelings, don’t worry about it I think I’ll survive.

    *(I could after all work 24/7 at two jobs and donate all my money to good causes… as could you. Hypocrite :D Oh, yes.)

  367. #367 thelastdemocrat
    April 29, 2010

    Carrying on: “Democrat: “Well, we stopped our forced sterilizaton campaigns, which were ongoing into the 1970s. We largely fixed the problem of emergency room dumping with the EMTALA laws. We have done lots of things because they were right. You just enact the law.”

    Those other things had widespread support. Your law does not. How do you propose to enact it without dictatorial strategies?

    Yes, you did point to some disadvantages of your scheme. I felt that you paid no attention to others. Sorry about not expressing myself right.

    You propose a scheme of “how things should be,” which you then propose to put into place by “just enacting the law” — without regard for the will of the people.”

    OK – a couple responses:

    EMTALA law did not have wide support. They were enacted because refusing patients and patient-dumping had high support amongst some in the emergency care biz, and there was low knowledge abt this in the general public.

    Sterilization practices had wide support amongst the populace who had power and influence. Partly because sterilization practices were aimed at vulnerable, unfavored people: African Americans.

    Same story with “separate-but-equal” laws. Quite popular.

    This “will of the people” argument for retaining abortion, or any other law that protect human rights / civil rights is silly. Laws get enacted often because the behavior is NOT widely accepted. That was my point in bringing up EMTALA as an example.

    As far as “dictatorial strategies:” whew, I have been down-graded from “tyrannical”!!

    Or is “dictatorial strategies” a synonym for “tyrannical?”

    I am sure there are readers from outside the U.S. Some of this applies. But I am speaking specifically about U.S., here.

    Back to U.S. civics class.

    The govt has something called “legitimate authority.” We have a representative democracy. We elect legislators that draft and work to enact bills into law.

    Laws get checked for legitimacy per Constituion by the judicial branch.

    So, if a Supreme Court decision is made that weakens or negates the “privacy” chain of findings, including Roe v. Wade, then the change comes, legitimately, through the judicial process.

    If a federal bill gets proposed, and passes house and senate, and get signed by president, that declares that a 10-week-old baby has “personhood,” and is thus a human, and thus gets civil rights like the rest of us, then that is how this might work.

    I fail to see the “dictatorial strategy,” or the “tyranny.” This is “democratic proccess.”

    Seriously. This is ridiculous. Our govt was developed to AVOID tyranny, and the fickle policy vagaries of a dictator.

    How? By Constitution, and by the representative democracy thingie, by the tripartate structure with its checks and balances.

    I am not sure what to say beyond this. I am debating someone who claims that legitimate, democratic processes are the opposite.

    The fed govt “dictates” a bunch of stuff. They are “tyrannical” over a bunch of stuff. Pay your taxes. States cannot restrict abortions in the first trimester. Etc.

    Do you mean “dictatorial” and “tyrannical” in the sense that you would disagree with a legitimately developed federal policy?

    Or do you mean that, despite the anti-diactatorial, anti-tyrannical structure of our federal govt, that it, nonetheless, permits dictatorial and/or tyrannical actions? Like when some claimed that some of the post-9-11 wiretappings, etc., were tyrannical?

    And that my two hypotheses (supreme court decision, federal legislative enactment) would fit in that category?

    I am gonna need a bit more info to grasp this.

    Should we change our form of govt? A little? Or a lot? And where? Should we have four govt bodies, not three? Two?

    Should we have a revolution and overthrow the current tyranny, and usher in an era of peace and prosperity by central rule of a communist-philosophy party? Anarchy?

    Help me. I don’t see it.

    I guess this “dictatorial” or “tyrannical” aspect is what you mean when you say I have ignored some “downsides” to my no-more-abortions view. Is that right? I mentioned some challenges, such as CF, etc. But I guess maybe you simply meant solely the tyranny issue?

    My view is consistent: a kid who is not yet born is a human, and should get the same protections and opportunities given to the rest of us.

    I don’t really care how “popular” this idea is. I really don’t care how widespread the support is.

    BTW: the pro-life view is the majority preference. MOST ppl say: “I myself am opposed to abortion.” Some of us say: for everyone, and some say, “but I will leave it up to the people involved to decide on their own.”

    But the no-abortion view has broad support. I don;t base my view on the polling data. I base it on basic human decency. I just throw the polling data out ther to show that yet another “argument” is gone from your encyclopedia.

    Vera, you have dragged in a bunch of things. Quite a catalog. And you drop two words to represent a whole idea, and I cannot follow you off of these bits and phrases flung out there. Some of these are well-developed, and I just disagree, and that is fine for us to disagree. But the rest is confusing. Like the “dictator” thing.

    Robt Kennedy brought federal forces down to square off against Wallace, and his state forces, at the Univ of Alabama. Why? To enforce the fed decison regarding African Amercians being able to attend this state school.

    Wallace had a lot of popular local support.

    How do you describe that? Civil rights victory? Tyranny? Dictatorial abuse of power? Wallace had his view, and that was exactly his view. tyranny. dictaroship. Abuse of power.

    For Robt Kennedy, and those involved, would you ask them how they planned to deal with the people who got their feelings hurt when African Americans began attending classes with the anglos?

    Did Robt Kennedy NEED an entire plan of how Alabama would provide higher education following this change, before acting?

  368. #368 thelastdemocrat
    April 29, 2010

    Wait: I take everything back! I see the light. I thought I was enlightened, but now this news story has shwon me the way. I did not realize my view would force a woman to give birth to a baby with – gasp CLEFT PALATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    http://www.catholic.net/index.php?option=zenit&id=29073

    “Bishop Elio Sgreccia stated on Vatican Radio that care is a duty even if the law does not require it, denouncing the neglect of a 22-week-old baby boy who survived in a hospital in Rossano after his mother attempted to have him aborted.”

    Oops! an unsuccessful abortion. What happens in an UNsuccessful abortion? The baby lives.

    Lives? I thought he was just a blob. He was on the cusp of “quickening.” He was IN the window of Supreme Court’s definition of not-yet-viable – yes, the Supreme Ct Roe V Wade uses “first trimester” (I use quotes because that is the language in the decision) as a demarcation, and YES, children are alive and viable BEFORE this point. There is no argument here. The kid was alive. And would have been perfectly fine if not for the elective abortion.

    Why was this baby being aborted? Oh, the tyranny….

    “Prenatal scans had shown two malformations in the boy, in his palate and lip.”

    Good night. My mind is changed. How could I want to tyrannize a mother to bring a cleft-palate kid into this world? I will now take my rosaries off your ovaries. I will now chant, my body my choice. I have seen the errors of my ways. Cleft palate.

  369. #369 gl
    April 29, 2010

    daedalus2u – re:”hypocrite”.

    I don’t mean to speak for Ender (who would say it better than I), but I think what you are not grasping is that the woman who has the baby in her womb is the one primarily responsible for it’s life – in the same way she is responsible for her own children.

    Everyone has to make sacrifices to take care of their own children. We are not generally required to make sacrifices to take care of other people’s children. Nothing hypocritical about it.

  370. #370 daedalus2u
    April 29, 2010

    Ender, this thread is not about “morality”, it is about “legality”. You and the other anti-abortionists want to make abortion illegal.

    Is there a legal obligation to give someone an EPI injection if they are having an anaphylactic attack? According to wikipedia in places following English common law, there is not.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty_to_rescue

    It is not illegal to not come to the aid of an injured or sick person. Someone who does not give someone in anaphylactic shock an EPI injection is not guilty of murder if they die.

    Since slavery is illegal, forcing people to do stuff against their will is illegal too. My presumption of people who really are “pro-life” has always been that since they claim to value a fetus over a woman’s personal bodily integrity, that they would value “life” over “money”, making them hypocrites if they didn’t put their money where their mouth was.

    But you are right, people could value money over lives, making them non-hypocrites, but also making them non-pro-life. That is why I said earlier that virtually all people who call themselves “pro-life” are not pro-life, they are anti-abortion.

  371. #371 vera
    April 29, 2010

    Daedalus: When does the fetus become a living human, according to your brain criterion? And are you saying that once it has a brain, you claim it’s a person?

    Democrat: I am not interested in 3 ft sarcastic rants. If you want to calm down, think it through and talk with me, I am available.

  372. #372 JP
    April 29, 2010

    I am interested to learn where some of the commenters here feel the boundaries are for woman versus fetus rights. Several have stated that a woman’s right to actively terminate a pregnancy via a medically induced abortion has limits. What about behaviors that don’t have the intent of terminating the pregnancy, but might have a higher risk of terminating? Specifically, I was thinking of these behaviors/conditions after the pregnancy is detected 1) smoking, 2) participation in contact sports, 3) HbA1c greater than 7.5% (in other words poor control of diabetes mellitus)? What are the woman’s rights and responsibilities in these situations? Should she be compelled to do something if she is pregnant and engages in these behaviors? In the case of situation 3, it is realistic that if she were hospitalized and closely monitored she could achieve what is considered good control of diabetes.

  373. #373 daedalus2u
    April 29, 2010

    Vera, I think fetus becomes a human person after it is viable outside the womb and after it has a brain of a certain activity, and after it is outside the womb. A mother can consider a fetus inside her as a human person any time she wants to at her sole discretion.

    In no case does the fetus have rights that supersedes the rights of the mother while the fetus is in utero.

    So a pregnant woman can do any activity, no matter how risky for the fetus, even things as risky as taking an 18 hour plane trip after going into labor.

  374. #374 vera
    April 30, 2010

    “after it has a brain of a certain activity”

    What do you mean by that, daedalus?

  375. #375 daedalus2u
    April 30, 2010

    To me, a brain that has the capacity to function is a necessary part of being a human person. An anencephalic organism is never a person. Defining precisely where the level of functionality confers person hood is not easy.

  376. #376 Cate
    April 30, 2010

    JP: I played soccer and miscarried, so Utah would now consider me a felon. I do not consider myself to be a felon, but some unthinking people believe I should go to hell for my behavior.

  377. #377 vera
    May 1, 2010

    No, Cate, it wouldn’t. Are you looking to whip up hysteria, or discuss?

    In the hallowed tradition of incompetent lawmakers jumping on the outrage bandwagon so they actually *seem* to be doing something useful, a bill was suggested and withdrawn.

    This “outrage bill” was in reaction to a young woman who hired a thug to beat her up in 7th month so she would abort. I was meant to address such horrible cases of intentional recklessness.

    Whether or not that is a good idea for such a law to be passed, that would make a discussion. For me, what is more interesting as a question is… if a young woman does hire a thug and proceeds as above, is it ok for the society to shrug it off? Is it just between her and the thug, and oh well, move along, nothing to see here?

  378. #378 Cate
    May 1, 2010

    No, Vera, the attitude is fairly prevalent among the anti-abortion cult. Many of us continue to play soccer while pregnant: the people who play god or get near to violent about pregnant women playing a contact sport are unbelievable. Utah is an example of how these unthinking beliefs are taking root.

  379. #379 vera
    May 1, 2010

    Yeah, go on, keep on insulting people who believe different from you. So very helpful…

    Peeps, here is the deal: if you want the other side to listen to you and your concerns, you gotta start listening to them and their concerns. And lay off those invectives… it’s an addiction worse’n nicotine.

    And Cate, whether or not some people are against pregnant women playing contact sports, the proposed bill was not in reaction to that. What you are doing is whipping up fears: oh no, the slippery slope! If we actually admit that this young woman did something reprehensible, next month they will put any pregnant woman in jail for drinking a thimbleful of Baileys!

  380. #380 JP
    May 1, 2010

    Vera:

    In my question in comment 371 I didn’t include a scenario involving a non medical elective abortion (including the thug method) since I assumed that someone opposed to medical elective abortions would also oppose non medical approaches. I am trying to understand how you and others would weigh fetal versus pregnant woman rights. If a woman with a 1 month old was keeping the child in an environment that is potentially harmful to the child,the state might take the child away. So what about a woman at 16 weeks gestation (or any time post detection) what if the intrauterine environment is potentially harmful due to modifiable factors (for example contact sports, smoking, or uncontrolled diabetes mellitus)? Should the state have the power to act? Obviously the state in this case can’t take the child, but it could compel the woman to modify the environment.

  381. #381 vera
    May 1, 2010

    JP, I was loath to respond to your previous query since it is not something I have thought through. It is my experience that unless a person studies an issue in depth, there are always hidden things one ought to consider. With that caveat…

    I am not opposed to medically-indicated abortions.

    The issues you raise are connected to legal stuff. I am interested in moral stuff, and being fairly anarchistic by persuasion, the legal stuff gives me the creeps. In my ideal society, the young woman who just availed herself of the “thug method” of elective abortion would be scooped up by friends and neighbors and relatives and not let out of their sight until sanity and responsibility was brought into the situation… and goodness knows what’s all behind it, and how many parties’ wrongdoing. (In a dysfunctional society like ours, she becomes a pawn in a political struggle.)

    As for rights, I can’t help you there because I don’t think in terms of rights. What are rights but demands (some) people think ought to be granted?

    Should the state act? Meh. I think “the state” and the legal beagles have only very blunt tools at their disposal. I was born to people who were profoundly neurotic and emotionally cruel. Sometimes physically abusive. I don’t think I would have liked for the state to take me away. I am very grateful that my grandmothers took me away and helped keep me be well.

    I guess my best reply right now is that the community is fully entitled to put strong peer pressure on anyone who is behaving like a bad parent. Beyond that? I have a childhood friend who matured into a fall down drunk. Her third child was born with a severe fetal alcohol syndrome and died. Should they have had laws that forcibly stuck her in the hospital for the duration of her pregnancy? That makes me cringe. I would prefer to have a world where people (again, people who know her and care about her, not some distant bureaucrats) gang up on the woman (as in family converging on an alcoholic in denial) and push her toward entering treatment or some other sheltered situation. And offer some tasty carrots besides sticks.

    Are you working on a project, or is this a personal quest?

  382. #382 JP
    May 1, 2010

    Vera:

    In my original question I didn’t intend to focus only on the legal aspects, I am interested in the moral/ethical issues as well. Your answer was very informative, thank you. My goal in asking these questions is to gain exposure to different perspectives. I was following the comments on this post and I came to the conclusion that many of the commenters have given considerable thought to their positions on abortion so I felt that this might be a good forum to gain insights.

  383. #383 vera
    May 1, 2010

    JP, I salute you for having patience to wade through all the comments! :-)

    I started studying abortion issues due to personal experience and the need to clarify the ethical aspects. Then, I moved onto the issues of how society (and each one of us) deals with “intractable conflict” and whether there is a way to craft a solution that incorporates insights and concerns from both sides. As someone else said earlier, continuing with these endless abortion wars is not serving the American commonwealth well. Those who care about humans, born or yet unborn, would do well to pay more attention to the multiple crises heading our way. Fighting each other without ever resolving things is about to become a real handicap.

    If you have any other questions, please feel free to try me.

  384. #384 Ender
    May 4, 2010

    Hi, sorry I have an interview today, I should reply this evening if I’m not out commemorating with a pint! That was a very interesting post JP, I’ll be sure to reply at some point.

  385. #385 Ender
    May 4, 2010

    Vera and thelastdemocrat, I’m only talking in general terms so forgive me if I don’t highlight the specifics but as far as your disagreement goes:

    I don’t agree with Vera that the plan is unworkable or will necessarily result in tyranny, though I do think that currently we will not be able to pass a law democratically as public opinion prevents that.
    I don’t understand the sarcasm in your last post though Democrat, you are not referring to anything that Vera supports, nor addressing anything of substance that you two have argued about.

    Thanks gl, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, particularly:

    Everyone has to make sacrifices to take care of their own children. We are not generally required to make sacrifices to take care of other people’s children. Nothing hypocritical about it.

    The autonomy of parents is limited in that they must feed and care for their child and make sure that it does not die. This is because the child is vulnerable and unable to support itself, its right to life trumps its parent’s right to life. If the parents don’t want to care for the child they can put it up for adoption, but cannot kill it before that.
    This is the same if we consider a foetus to be a human being with a right to life. The autonomy of the mother is trumped by the foetus’ right to life. If the mother doesn’t want to carry the child then hopefully one day she will be able to transfer the foetus to an artificial womb, possibly freeze it, and put it up for adoption, but, again hopefully, cannot kill it before that.

    JP: I love your question, great stuff. Before I answer though can I ask you a similar question? When a mother is planning to carry a child to term, what limits on her behaviour would you support? Should she be prevented from binge drinking alcohol if she cannot stop herself? (To prevent foetal alcohol syndrome).
    What if she were a woo-ful science-skeptic, would you allow her to take thalidomide during her pregnancy?
    Would you answer differently if she knew the result of taking thalidomide and did it deliberately?

    In theoretical terms- If the foetus is not a protected human being do you allow people to damage it in ways that will affect the resulting baby. Such as thalidomide* use.

    My answer to your question is that the foetus deserves the same protection that any baby would get. If you’re not allowed to give your baby brain damage by feeding it alcohol then you’re not allowed to give your foetus developmental abnormalities by feeding it alcohol. (Whether you do this by injecting it or drinking it yourself.**)
    The same goes for any damaging behaviour. The exact limits need to be debated using correct science.

    In theoretical terms – preventing physical harm to the foetus trumps allowing the mother to do whatever she wants. If good science shows that a certain behaviour, whether drinking, taking thalidomide or other, will hurt the foetus in a non-trivial way then the mother should not be allowed to do that. I do not condone jumping at shadows and preventing pregnant women from doing things with only weak correlative evidence suggesting a potential for harm.

    * Assume for the purpose of this question that the thalidome is obtained legally. We’re not talking about the ethics of obtaining drugs illegally.

    **A little sub-question – if you wouldn’t protect a foetus from the mother drinking alcohol, but you would protect it from thalidomide use, a) what’s the difference, but more interestingly b) would you protect it from alcohol injections? (Which would not even get the mother drunk, it would only damage the foetus.)

  386. #386 Ender
    May 4, 2010

    Daedalus

    Vera, I think fetus becomes a human person after it is viable outside the womb and after it has a brain of a certain activity, and after it is outside the womb. A mother can consider a fetus inside her as a human person any time she wants to at her sole discretion.
    In no case does the fetus have rights that supersedes the rights of the mother while the fetus is in utero.

    So follow me on this, it’s a hypothetical so don’t worry that it doesn’t happen, just focus on the fact it could, and your answer if it were to happen:

    If a pregnant woman has a foetus inside her womb it is entirely in her power, and she may kill it at any time.
    If that same foetus is removed from the womb, and survives, it is now a fully protected human being and she cannot kill it.
    If that surviving foetus is then replaced in the womb, and the incision sewn up, does the foetus now have rights? Or have they been removed again?

    If you believe that the rights have been removed again, even though the foetus has been outside the womb, does this apply to everyone? If you haven’t failed to follow the mundane hypothetical so far, try not to lose it now, it’s about to get more unusual:
    If a very small person, a child with growth deficiencies is surgically placed inside a very large woman’s womb, with a little oxygen mask*, does that child now lose all their rights?

    *Told you it was unusual.

    So a pregnant woman can do any activity, no matter how risky for the fetus, even things as risky as taking an 18 hour plane trip after going into labor.

    So how about taking thalidomide? Deliberately surgically removing the foetus’ arms during labour before giving birth? If you really have no worries about risk to the foetus, you should be ok with her randomly injecting acid into the womb during the early stages of labour, so there is a high risk of severely maiming the foetus/child.
    I suspect you don’t believe that, but feel free to tell me I’m wrong.

    Cate
    Well look who’s joined this thread without apologising for her vicious attack on all pro-life people including rape victims on the other thread. Lets hope you’ve learned how not to be disgustingly callous about rape victims here.

    Cate said: I played soccer and miscarried, so Utah would now consider me a felon. I do not consider myself to be a felon, but some unthinking people believe I should go to hell for my behavior.
    -
    Vera said: ‘Nope, bill was withdrawn’ approx
    -
    Cate said:No, Vera, the attitude is fairly prevalent among the anti-abortion cult. Many of us continue to play soccer while pregnant: the people who play god or get near to violent about pregnant women playing a contact sport are unbelievable. Utah is an example of how these unthinking beliefs are taking root.

    Assuming vera is right, a bill that was proposed, didn’t take root, was withdrawn, and this in your eyes is an example of how these attitudes are taking root?

    Branding all those who disagree with you about abortion a ‘cult’ is lazy, technically and logically incorrect. When you insult people and present no valid arguments you will have to forgive people for assuming that you have nothing to contribute, beyond vapid name calling.

  387. #387 Ender
    May 4, 2010

    Vera said: Peeps, here is the deal: if you want the other side to listen to you and your concerns, you gotta start listening to them and their concerns. And lay off those invectives… it’s an addiction worse’n nicotine.

    True, and worse than that you’re going to be wrong. No one wants to be wrong, right? If you write that all opponents of abortion are ‘inhuman monsters’ who just ‘want to maim and kill women but are too cowardly to do it themselves’, you’re wrong, you’re irrelevant, and all you’re saying to anyone listening is “I am really angry, so angry that I don’t care about the accuracy of what I say. P.s. I’m still on the accurate and logical side. Honest.”
    The same goes for anyone who writes that all pro-choice people ‘hate foetuses’ or ‘selfishly pretend they don’t know the foetus is a person so that they can do what they want when they want’ or any other stupid thing pro-life people might say.

    JP: So what about a woman at 16 weeks gestation (or any time post detection) what if the intrauterine environment is potentially harmful due to modifiable factors (for example contact sports, smoking, or uncontrolled diabetes mellitus)? Should the state have the power to act? Obviously the state in this case can’t take the child, but it could compel the woman to modify the environment.

    As I said earlier I do think that we have a duty to protect the foetus in utero. If this means hospitalisation for those who will not comply then this is the unfortunate but necessary result of protecting the foetus. If babies could not be removed from their parents then this is the solution I would reluctantly support for parents who refuse to care for their child too. Would you?
    I’m also interested in your opinion on your own question here, as I like you am very interested in new and different opinions on these subjects.

    Vera: I guess my best reply right now is that the community is fully entitled to put strong peer pressure on anyone who is behaving like a bad parent. Beyond that? I have a childhood friend who matured into a fall down drunk. Her third child was born with a severe fetal alcohol syndrome and died. Should they have had laws that forcibly stuck her in the hospital for the duration of her pregnancy?

    Unfortunately, yes. If you cannot look after your child the child needs to be taken away, if you cannot take away the child then the law must protect the child through the least invasive and harmful methods it can.
    Hopefully one day you will just be able to take the foetus away and grow it in an artificial womb, but I should stop mentioning that lest I sound like a broken record with utopian ideas stuck on loop.

    JP: I think your goal is creditable, and it’s one that I share with you. If you have any questions about my pro-abortion position feel free to ask, and I’d be very interested if you have the time to answer the questions I’ve posed you in this post.

  388. #388 vera
    May 4, 2010

    vera said: “Should they have had laws that forcibly stuck her in the hospital for the duration of her pregnancy?”

    Ender said: “Unfortunately, yes. If you cannot look after your child the child needs to be taken away, if you cannot take away the child then the law must protect the child through the least invasive and harmful methods it can.”

    Er… Ender, when people say “the child needs to be taken away by the state” it reminds me of the “garbage problem” of this culture. We have been condition to think of “away” as a solution. Away with shit, away with household garbage, away with toxic effluents. When, in fact, there is no “away.”

    When the state barges in with their laws and lawyers and adversarial strategies, this costs society. And often, the actual children get lost in the shuffle of impersonal systems. I am not in favor of dealing with social problems this way.

    If in your world, you favor sticking a smoking pregnant woman in an institution against her will, do you also favor taking children away from families where the parent(s) smoke? I mean, where does this end? It tends to be true that people who allow the abuse of fellow citizens for stuff that seems reasonable to them will eventually find themselves abused for reasons other people think reasonable. I’d rather not take that path.

    I guess what I am saying is that the methods at the state’s disposal are rarely “the least invasive and harmful.”

  389. #389 Anon
    May 4, 2010

    JP: The question you ask is interesting, although borders on very dangerous ground, in my opinion. If a pregnant woman can be barred from any behavior deemed dangerous to the fetus, how exactly will these ‘dangerous behaviors’ be determined? There are 40,000 fatal car crashes per year. And many more collisions that could result in damage to a mother and her fetus. One could argue that the likelihood of a mother and her fetus being hurt in a car crash on the way to the doctor for a prenatal visit is much higher than that from playing contact sports. Should pregnant women be prevented from driving or riding in a car? What about walking up/down stairs (which one could potentially fall down and damage the fetus)? It’s a slippery slope….

  390. #390 daedalus2u
    May 4, 2010

    Ender, yes, while the fetus is inside of her, I consider it the equivalent of an extension of her body which she can do what ever she wants.

    Once it is outside her body, capable of and surviving on its own, it is a human person.

    No, you can’t put a person inside someone else’s womb. Physiologically there are irreversible changes, so it won’t “work”, and legally you are violating the infant’s bodily integrity to do so and the infant can’t consent to something so weird and non-physiological. There is no medically indicated reason for putting an infant back into its mother’s womb. The infant doesn’t have the capacity to consent, and no guardian of the infant could consent on its behalf.

    A woman wanting to do harm to her unborn child and acting on those wants so that her unborn child is born crippled is not something that the legal system is capable of dealing with. If in a society, the only thing that keeps women from harming their unborn children is laws against it, then that society is a failed society. I think that trying to use laws to compel pregnant women to act in certain ways is a sign that the society is heading in a failing direction. I think the Utah law that would criminalize miscarriage is a sign society is heading in a failing direction.

    I am not saying that such women should not be dealt with, but they should not be dealt with by the legal system. The legal system is in place to “other” people by labeling them “criminals” and so forcing them to the bottom of the social power hierarchy where they can be treated inhumanely.

    A woman who wants to inject acid into her womb is already at the bottom of the social power hierarchy. There is nothing the legal system can do to her that is worse than what she is already doing to herself. Threatening her with any legal sanction will be completely ineffective at deterring her from injecting acid into her womb.

    A woman who wants to inject acid into her womb when she goes into labor is not someone the legal system has the capacity to deal with. If she had good prenatal care, good access to good mental health treatment, a good safety net for food, housing, medical care for herself and her infant, why would she want to inject acid into her womb? Self-injurious behavior is a sign of untreated mental health problems, usually PTSD or other trauma. Healthy people don’t do self-injurious behavior. If people are unhealthy society should work to make them healthy.

    Healthy people don’t abuse their children either. A lot of what is considered “normal” parenting is actually child abuse. Stopping child abuse would go a long way to preventing abuse in future generations. That reminds me that Alice Miller died last month, I saw her obituary in the NYT. Unfortunately much of what social power hierarchies (like religions) do to maintain the power hierarchy is abusive, especially of women and children. Stop the patriarchal abuse and women won’t feel the need to abuse their children born or in utero.

    My perception of those who call themselves “pro-life” is that they are willing to allow women to fall (or push them) into desperate situations, and then when they predictably do something desperate, hammer them with the full power of the law. Their goal is not to help women, or to prevent abortions, it is to hurt women by denying them the option of abortion; an option that a woman in a bad situation may feel is the least bad of her multiple bad options. If the anti-abortionists really wanted to reduce the number of abortions, they would work to improve the options that pregnant women have, so that there would be multiple better options than abortion. If the anti-abortionists did that, I think they would be moving society in a better direction.

  391. #391 daedalus2u
    May 4, 2010

    JP, my own thought is that the obligations of parents to their children transcends everything, including time. That is if one is going to have children, parental obligations to those children occur before the child is alive and continue after the child has died, but those obligations only occur if the child was alive at some time, i.e. had a living brain of a certain complexity and lived for a time outside the womb.

    So if one is going to have children, then one has the obligation to ensure that one’s gametes are not damaged by radiation or teratogens even before the child is conceived. The obligation to not bring a child into the world until one is ready to fulfill one’s obligations to that child. That means using reliable birth control until one is ready and wants to have children. I think a woman has the obligation to be healthy and in a place where she can receive proper prenatal care; nutritional, immunological (i.e. Rhogam if necessary), psychological, and so on.

    One has the obligation to educate one’s children so that they can meet their timeless obligations to their children should they have any. That means good sex education including contraception. It means teaching them how to get along with others in the world, and to not fill their minds with nonsense and bigotry.

    One has the obligation to form society in a way that will be “child-friendly”, that there will be other children available for your child to play with, form friendships with, and have relationships with. One has the obligation to form a society that will be “people-friendly”, that the other people in the society will be able to have good lives. To me, that means good schools, good education, good civil society of good laws where human rights are respected. It means a society where other parents can perform their timeless obligations to their children.

    To me, these obligations are immutable. If you are unwilling to fulfill them, then you should never be a parent. It means putting the needs of the child ahead of your wants.

  392. #392 JP
    May 4, 2010

    daedalus2u: I might be getting stuck on minutia here, but I feel compelled to comment specifically on one thing you said (quoted here):

    “if the child was alive at some time, i.e. had a living brain of a certain complexity and lived for a time outside the womb.”

    The term alive is somewhat nebulous, to a parent “alive” can occur some time before birth. What I mean by that is parents can develop an attachment to, and in the case of loss, can miss a “child” lost at any time post detection in away that is little different from losing a child after delivery.

    As for the rest of your comment. I think you present a convincing case. If the society you outline existed, how many elective abortions would occur?

  393. #393 JP
    May 4, 2010

    Ender and others:

    I am giving consideration to your questions. I will say this, I think that the legal system likely cannot effectively deal with the issue of abolishing risky behaviors by pregnant woman (I think my position on that is similar to daedalus2u). I think societal norms and expectations might be effective in reducing risky behavior, but I don’t know exactly how I would define “risky” behavior. In the three examples I presented, I don’t think that anyone should smoke. Pregnant women who smoke should be particularly aware of the ill effects of smoking. Additionally, a societal goal should be to try to perfect safe and effective smoking cessation treatments during pregnancy. Women with diabetes (and other health conditions as well) should be aware of of the impacts of intrauterine exposures to hyperglycemia and should have access to preconception and prenatal care. Contact sports is tougher. It appears that adequate physical activity behavior during pregnancy is beneficial to the woman and her offspring. Pretty much any activity has some risk of becoming a contact sport so how do you decide what is safe. I know that pretty much all the major obstetric organizations include a recommendation against contact sports in their guidelines, but I haven’t seen much data about the risks associated with individual sports. Anon’s comment @389 addresses the challenge of where to draw the line. I don’t have an answer, but if I come up with one I will share it.

  394. #394 daedalus2u
    May 4, 2010

    JP, parents can consider their child a living person any time the child is in utero, but it is the mother’s choice. I think until the child is born, and living on its own no one else can compel the mother to treat the fetus other than as an extension of herself.

    I think very few abortions would occur. I think that abortion should be legal, safe, and rare. The way to make them rare is to give women better options than abortions, not by trying to deter abortions by making getting an abortion more onerous.

    A problem I have with many conservatives is that they want to make their children extensions of themselves. They want to deny their children access to information on contraception so that they cannot make informed choices about the most important things they will ever do, conceive another human being. The conservatives don’t give their children the education and tools (facts and thinking skills to think with) to make good choices for themselves, the conservatives simply impose their own bad choices on their children. This is the essence of conservatism, impose the old ways of doing things on the next generation.

    When I make decisions for my child, I try to think of how the child would decide if the child was an adult. In some of the anti-abortion cases that have been in the news, for example the 9 year old who was raped and was carrying twins, it is clear to me that the anti-abortion people don’t really care about the girl, or the fetuses. They are in some kind of anti-abortion cult that mythologizes in utero development and fetishizes doing nothing. If the fetuses in the 9 year old were adults, would they rationally decide that living a few more months in utero was worth killing their mother? That is what was going to happen if they were not aborted, the mother would have died because she wasn’t large enough to carry twins to term. What rational adult would consider that a few months of life in utero was worth killing their mother?

    When the anti-abortionists say they are acting on the behalf of the fetus, and yet put the mother at risk of death for no benefit to the fetus, they are lying. They are not pro-life or pro-fetus, they are anti-woman.

  395. #395 vera
    May 4, 2010

    Daedalus, when you say “My perception of those who call themselves “pro-life” is that they are willing to allow women to fall (or push them) into desperate situations, and then when they predictably do something desperate, hammer them with the full power of the law. Their goal is not to help women, or to prevent abortions, it is to hurt women”…
    …I feel annoyed because I value fairness. Would you be willing to use a finer brush when painting a picture of the pro-lifers? Most pro-life people are ordinary folks who are not in the position to “push women into desperate situations,” any more than you or I. If there are some who are in that position, then why not say exactly who it is you are speaking of?

  396. #396 daedalus2u
    May 5, 2010

    Vera, when “ordinary” people don’t speak out against or abandon their “leaders” when those “leaders” advocate laws that do put women in desperate situations, I hold those “ordinary” people accountable along with the “leaders” they follow.

    There probably are people who consider themselves “pro-life”, who would not put women into desperate situations. It is my perception that is a small minority fringe position within groups that consider themselves “pro-life”. I appreciate that they can’t speak out because they would be marginalized and driven out of their “pro-life” groups. By their silence, they give their acquiescence to the rhetoric of their “leaders”.

    They give lip service to saying they would allow abortion in certain dire situations, but then work as hard as they can to drive all abortion providers out of business so there would be no abortion providers should those dire situations arise. They are being disingenuous (i.e. they are lying). Read comment #106 again. The persecution and demonization of Dr Tiller was not to stop illegal late term abortions, it was to stop all late term abortions. The “pro-life” camp succeeded in stopping all late term abortions when they murdered Dr Tiller. How many “ordinary” people abandoned their “pro-life” groups when Dr Tiller was murdered? Not many.

    Again vera, I determine people’s motives by how they act, not by what they say their motives are. Their actions speak louder than their words, and the actions of the “pro-life” movement are anti-woman.

  397. #397 vera
    May 5, 2010

    I take it you are feeling frustrated, Daedalus. Are you upset because you want the pro-life people to be more self-critical? If so, I am with you.

    The problem I have with your argument is this. Do I have leaders? Does Ender? We are just fellow human beings. Sometimes I feel like many people in this forum put big bags over our heads, paint faces on them, and then talk to these pretend-people. I have no leaders. I do not consider the unreasonable, fanatical pro-life fringe any more my leaders than I consider the unreasonable, fanatic pro-choice fringe my leaders when I have my “pro-choice” hat on. Do I criticize both fringes? You bet.

    I don’t know why you keep talking about a “movement” and “groups.” Most of us on both sides are not part of any movement, nor do we congregate in groups. We are just everyday people who have their convictions and ways of looking at things.

    When you look at the way out fringes, you will find that both sides are disingenuous. It is not particularly a trait of the way out pro-lifers, it comes with being a fanatical true believer.

    The actions of some pro-lifers have been destructive and anti-woman. So have the actions of some pro-choicers. I don’t consider it a pro-woman stance, for example, when people encourage young women to think of their pregnancy as cancer, or a medical abnormality, and to mislead them that all that matters is their autonomy.

    But we’ve already been over that. What I would like to see is that at least in this forum, we talk to each other as real people. Is that possible, do you figure?

  398. #398 daedalus2u
    May 5, 2010

    vera, what exactly does the “fanatical pro-choice fringe” want? It simply wants women to be allowed to choose whether to have an abortion or not by themselves without being coerced by laws and government. Those in the pro-choice camp don’t want to impose their decisions on women, they want to empower women through education and access to contraception and reproductive health care to make their own informed decisions about their own reproductive health.

    You call them the “fanatical pro-choice fringe”, out of a sense of false-balance because there really is a “fanatical pro-life fringe” which demonizes everyone and everything associated with abortion and threatens abortion providers with death, and which has killed a number of abortion providers, the latest of which being Dr Tiller.

    The “fanatical pro-choice fringe” does not want to force anyone to have an abortion. Anyone in the pro-choice movement who suggested such a thing would be drummed out so fast their head would spin, and would never be allowed back in. People who advocate killing abortion providers are considered main-stream “pro-life”, and there are many in leadership positions. There is no one in the a leadership position in the pro-choice camp that advocates for forced abortions. No one in the pro-choice camp would tolerate a leader who advocated forced abortions, and no one who advocated forced abortions would be allowed to remain an ordinary member of any pro-choice group.

    Do you see the difference?

  399. #399 daedalus2u
    May 5, 2010

    vera, if you want to talk about the “fanatical pro-choice fringe”, as if they are comparable to the “fanatical pro-life fringe”, you will have to come up with similar levels of fanatical actions, like incitements to violence, condoning of violence, bombings, arsons, shootings, assaults and murders.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-abortion_violence

    You know that you can’t because the “fanatical pro-choice fringe” doesn’t engage in such things and never has.

  400. #400 vera
    May 5, 2010

    Daedalus, it seems to me obvious that those on the pro-life fringe condone the killings of abortion doctors, while those on the pro-choice fringe condone the killings of mature healthy fetuses with healthy living functioning brains. “Incitements to violence, condoning of violence?” Certainly. On both sides.

    You understand readily how awful it is that doctors get killed, but refuse to see that some people are legitimately pained and outraged by the killings of thousands of healthy late term fetuses? How come? I am not asking why you disagree with them. I am asking you… how come their pain and outrage is somehow not worthy of your consideration?

  401. #401 daedalus2u
    May 5, 2010

    vera, if the “pro-life” people are so “pained” by the deaths of aborted fetuses, why don’t they do something effective to stop it? The abortion rate in Europe is a tiny fraction of what it is in the USA. Why is that when Europe has very liberal abortion laws and as a medical expense it is mostly completely free?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_incidence_of_teenage_pregnancy#Teenage_birth_and_abortion_rates_by_country

    The “pro-life” people can’t be so “pained” by the deaths of aborted fetuses, or they would do something effective to reduce it, not the ineffectual demonization of pro-choice people and women who find themselves in desperate situations.

    What causes the “pro-life” people more “pain” than the idea that fetuses are being killed by abortions is the idea that women have control of their reproductive organs and the knowledge and autonomy to make choices of how to use those reproductive organs that the “pro-life” people don’t agree with.

    By their actions, the “pro-life” people are showing that they don’t care about the deaths of fetuses by abortion, they care about controlling women’s reproductive organs. What they care about is the narcissistic injury they get when people do something different than what the “pro-life” people think they should do. When women reject the “pro-life” ideas of how to live their life, the “pro-life” people experience narcissistic injury and become enraged and try to take it out on women by making abortion more difficult to get.

    What kind of draconian anti-abortion laws did Europe pass to get the abortion rates so low? None at all. The rates are low because virtually all women don’t want to have abortions, they choose abortion as a last resort. When women have other choices that they consider are better than abortion, they don’t have abortions. For many women that choice is to use effective birth control. A choice that the “pro-life” people want to prevent.

    The “pro-life” people are crying crocodile tears. Making abortions ever more difficult to get, knowing that when abortions were illegal, many women still chose to get them. Many women chose to risk their lives with illegal abortions. How you deter someone who is desperate and is willing to risk their life? Not by making their situation ever more desperate.

    The “pro-life” people are gloating in their sanctimonious self-righteous piety. They don’t care how many women die from illegal abortions, they are being “tough” on all those evil women.

  402. #402 vera
    May 6, 2010

    Well, Daedalus, if you mock the feelings of those who are pained by the killings of late term fetuses, don’t be surprised if they mock your feelings if another abortion provider gets injured or killed. What goes around, comes around.

    Plague on both your houses.

    As for European laws, you will find them often restricting open elective access to abortion after 12 weeks. That bastion of anti-woman hatred, Norway, “provides for abortion on demand in the first 12 weeks, between the 13th and 18th week abortion by commission approval on medical, eugenic, criminal, humanitarian, or social reasons. After the 13th week of gestation, abortion is in principle outlawed except under exceptional circumstances” (according to wikipedia).

    Sweden, that citadel of misogyny, allows elective abortions only up to 18 weeks. “After the 18th and until the 22nd week a woman needs a permission from the National Board of Health and Welfare” and it is granted for medical pathology reasons. (wiki and other readily searchable sources).

    I am figuring the U.S. pro-choice radical fringe would have an apoplexy if someone suggested each woman having to petition a “commission” after the 13th or 18th week. Eh? ;)

  403. #403 Ender
    May 7, 2010

    Er… Ender, when people say “the child needs to be taken away by the state” it reminds me of the “garbage problem” of this culture. We have been condition to think of “away” as a solution. Away with shit, away with household garbage, away with toxic effluents. When, in fact, there is no “away.”

    The fact that my comment reminds you of an impression you have of ‘this culture’ is not an argument, nor is it relevant to this question of ethics.
    What would you do with children in an abusive or dangerous family, if you would not take them away?

    As it happens I’m very familiar with the problems and procedures around taking children away, both of my parents are social workers and I work in the social services. So your comment, were it relevant, would not apply to me anyway.

    If in your world, you favor sticking a smoking pregnant woman in an institution against her will,

    I don’t, if she was smoking crack, or binge drinking every night I would.

    do you also favor taking children away from families where the parent(s) smoke?

    As above. Less so on the drinking, unless there was evidence it was rendering her an unfit parent.

    I mean, where does this end?

    It ends where our evidence of harm ends.

    It tends to be true that people who allow the abuse of fellow citizens for stuff that seems reasonable to them will eventually find themselves abused for reasons other people think reasonable.

    Cite. Or rather, that’s straight up not true, I doubt there’s even a correlation between the two, and I know there’s no evidence for it.

    Anon: It’s a slippery slope

    Is it? Is it a slippery slope that we take children away from families that are a danger to them? No, because we are able to set limits- taking your children in a car allowed, taking your children to a crack den is not. Ditto driving while pregnant will be allowed, and taking crack while pregnant will not.

  404. #404 Ender
    May 7, 2010

    Unfortunately daedalus you’ve said so much since I last posted that I can’t reply in this lunch break, I’ll have a look when I get home tonight, but I’m going out for celebratory drinks and to see a film, so I might get to it tomorrow.

    In other news, I got the job! So my future posts may well be either happy and easy on you all, or arrogant and critical, depending on what kind of person I am. :D