Microbiology and Abortion

RU-486, or mifepristone, was approved for use in 2000 in the US, for medical abortions.

Shortly there after, something weird started happening. A handful of women who used RU-486 were dying from sepsis, caused by a really rare bacteria, Clostridium sordellii. Like, these women didnt have AIDS. They werent meth addicts or recovering from cancer. They were previously completely healthy 18, 22 year-old women dropping dead.

To pro-lifers, the message was clear: Abortion kills women.

Planned Parenthood’s recommendation to use the abortion-causing drug Misoprostol vaginally rather than orally has led to fatal infections according to a research study released by the University of Michigan.

“This study shows Planned Parenthood not only disregards the lives of babies in the womb, but the lives of their mothers as well,” said American Life League’s Jim Sedlak. “This is scandalous, if not criminal. It’s time people stopped viewing Planned Parenthood as a responsible healthcare organization and saw it for what it is — a money-making, social engineering group that plies its trade of sex and abortion without regard to human life, born or preborn.”

To rational people and scientists, there is a different puzzle afoot.

Planned Parenthood recommended vaginal application of RU-486 the same reason you put neosporin on a cut, instead of taking oral antibiotics– Lower dose, you have the drug at the site you need it rather than systemic, dont need to worry about stomach/liver/whatever doing something weird to the drug before it gets where it needs to go– theres nothing that should have been weird about PPs recommendations.

But there was.

Because in Europe, RU-486 was approved late 80s/early 90s. No one had died from Clostridium sordellii. And, the Europeans were also not recommending oral RU-486– they were recommending women just hold the pill in their cheek, so the drug went straight to the bloodstream.

RU-486 via cheek– everyones fine
RU-486 via vagina– women die from Clostridium sordellii

This makes no sense.

It makes no sense, but its easy to fix. In 2006 PP changed their recommended protocol to Europes, plus sometimes also antibiotics. They just released a retrospective analysis of their procedures/outcomes before/since the change in protocol in the New England Journal of Medicine:

Rates of Serious Infection after Changes in Regimens for Medical Abortion— Rates of serious infection dropped significantly after the joint change to buccal misoprostol from vaginal misoprostol and to either testing for sexually transmitted infection or routine provision of antibiotics as part of the medical abortion regimen. The rate declined 73%, from 0.93 per 1000 abortions to 0.25 per 1000 (absolute reduction, 0.67 per 1000; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.44 to 0.94; P<0.001). The subsequent change to routine provision of antibiotics led to a further significant reduction in the rate of serious infection -- a 76% decline, from 0.25 per 1000 abortions to 0.06 per 1000 (absolute reduction, 0.19 per 1000; 95% CI, 0.02 to 0.34; P=0.03).

So after they changed their protocols, 0.93 per 1000 turned into 0.06 per 1000.

But their protocol is asking for more trouble. Is it worth giving everyone drugs to prevent a very rare event, when giving everyone drugs could lead to antibiotic resistant Clostridium sordellii, thus perhaps more/harder to treat Clostridium sordellii infections??


To further complicate things, Clostridium sordellii isnt confined to women who get abortions. It also kills women who just give birth. No abortion. No RU-486. We had a visiting PI speak about Clostridium sordellii earlier this year– he told an absolutely tragic story of a happy healthy woman who gave birth to a happy healthy baby. Everyone was released from the hospital. Happy happy happy!… A few weeks later mommy is back in the hospital with Clostridium sordellii. She fights it for a year… then drops dead from other complications.

And, women can die from Clostridium sordellii after spontaneous abortions.


We dont have good diagnostic tests (women who get sick have really general symptoms- nausea, cramps- no fever). We dont have great treatment protocols. We dont even have a good scientific explanation for how Clostridium sordellii is causing all of this trouble in the first place.

None of these problems are solved when pro-lifers proclaim Planned Parenthood is killing women.



  1. #1 JohnV
    July 10, 2009

    As a former Clostridium researcher I can say that the general malaise we face from funding agencies, conference organizers and journal editors (a response to a manuscript was “we all know gram negative bacteria do this, so who cares?”) is really frustrating.

    Looking back at the abstract book from the 2006 clostridium pathogenesis conference I see a couple of groups that were looking at sordellii virulence factors and rough models of pathogenesis.

    If I had to make a completely unsubstantiated guess, I’d think that the method of application is either changing the normal flora (and thus permitting a rare C. sordellii to do its thing) or that externally applied RU-486 infrequently causes some tiny lesions or something to form (and thus permitting a rare C. sordellii to do its thing)

  2. #2 ABM
    July 10, 2009

    I think it’s safe to say that anti-choice groups will use ANY vaguely abortion-related science in a way that benefits their message, no matter what the findings actually are. Either they’ll exaggerate risks, distort conditions and caveats… or they’ll just lie. After all, look at the “link” between breast cancer and abortion, that isn’t really a link at all.

  3. #3 TheEngima23
    July 10, 2009

    Could it possibly be some chemical that we use? We know that our European cousins are far more intelligent about the chemicals that they allow inside of their food, clothing, environment, etc. Far more intelligent than we Americans are, anyway. Could it possibly be some reaction between this and the pill?

    Maybe if they plotted where all of the women were from when they died, a picture might form.

    Just a though
    – Enigma

  4. #4 Sili
    July 10, 2009


    Where does the C. sordellii occur naturally? Is it for some reason more prevalent in the US environment then over here?

  5. #5 rrt
    July 10, 2009

    Possibly, Enigma, but why propose that when we have a much more obvious difference between the groups (the way te drug’s administered)? Nevermid the drastic reduction in infection that came simply from changing the method? Zebras vs. horses and all that…

  6. #6 JohnV
    July 10, 2009

    “The Clostridia” doesn’t give a source for C. sordellii, and wikipedia says “unknown but there’s a low carriage rate in the vaginal tract”. I also see a pubmed reference to a bovine isolates in Japan, so its not localized to the USA.

    However, like most of the Clostridia it forms spores so you can presumably find the spores in the environment where ever people are?

    Since I like doing things other than my job at my job, I poked around pubmed further and saw a paper describing some immunosupression and its possible role in C. sordellii post-abortion infections (http://www.jimmunol.org/cgi/content/full/180/12/8222).

    I guess to reiterate ERV’s comment about not really knowing whats going on, just looking at the paper titles seems people can’t decide on death by toxic shock or septic shock and that seems like a pretty important distinction to me.

    It also looks like C. perfringens can do something similar, but it killing people isn’t new or noteworthy.

  7. #7 Brian Foley
    July 10, 2009

    Lethal toxin is a critical determinant of rapid mortality in rodent models of Clostridium sordellii endometritis.
    Anaerobe. 2009 Jun 13. PMID: 19527792
    Hao Y, Senn T, S Opp J, Young VB, Thiele T, Srinivas G, Huang SK, Aronoff DM.
    The toxigenic anaerobe Clostridium sordellii is an uncommon but highly lethal cause of human infection and toxic shock syndrome, yet few studies have addressed its pathogenetic mechanisms. To better characterize the microbial determinants of rapid death from infection both in vitro and in vivo studies were performed to compare a clinical strain of C. sordellii (DA-108), isolated from a patient who survived a disseminated infection unaccompanied by toxic shock syndrome, to a virulent reference strain (ATCC9714). Rodent models of endometrial and peritoneal infection with C. sordellii ATCC9714 were rapidly lethal, while infections with DA-108 were not. Extensive genetic and functional comparisons of virulence factor and toxin expression between these two bacterial strains yielded many similarities, with the noted exception that strain DA-108 lacked the tcsL gene, which encodes the large clostridial glucosyltransferase enzyme lethal toxin (TcsL). The targeted removal by immunoprecipitation of TcsL protected animals from death following injection of crude culture supernatants from strain ATCC9714. Injections of a monoclonal anti-TcsL IgG protected animals from death during C. sordellii ATCC9714 infection, suggesting that such an approach might improve the treatment of patients with C. sordellii-induced toxic shock syndrome.

  8. #8 Brian Foley
    July 10, 2009

    The protein sequence similarity between C. sordellii TcsL toxin and C. difficile toxin B (75% Identity, 87% Amino acid similarity) is far greater than the similarity between C. botuinum toxin serotype A and C. botulinum toxin serotype B (37% Identity, 53% amino acid similarity).

    Thus, the toxin produced by C. sordellii could be said to be the B toxin. C. difficile and many other species of Clostridium make A and B toxins, and these A and B toxins are more similar to each other, than botulinum sertoype A toxin is to botulinum serotype B toxin. These A and B toxins are not at all related to the botulinum neurotoxins.

  9. #9 eddie
    July 10, 2009

    Sorry, this may well be cargo-cult biology on my part, but are mifepristone and misoprostol always used in conjunction for induced labour or medical abortion? How does the stats on this use relate to those on C sordellii?
    From what I gather, one of these agents is also used in preventing gastric ulcers, especially to mitigate the side effects of diclofenac, etc. Acts by suppressing acid production. The other induces uterine contractions but I’ve no idea by what method.
    The oral application is in acid so is C sordellii acid phobic?

  10. #10 Lou FCD
    July 10, 2009

    Abbie, there is nothing pro-life about the group of people who self identify that way.

    Call them what they are. Forced-birthers.

  11. #11 Arturo S
    July 10, 2009

    There seems to be some confusion.

    Misoprostol != Mifepristone.

    Mifepristone (RU-486, named after the French company that made it and the number of compounds they made before they found that one) is a progesterone antagonist. Progesterone is required by the embryo since for some time (forget exactly how much) it can’t make it’s own progesterone and requires the corpus luteum for all it’s progesterone needs.

    Misoprostol is a prostaglandin analogue. The uterus contracts due to prostaglandins, among other things. Prostaglandin antagonists are used to inhibit uterine contractions during premature labor for example. Contraction leads to expulsion. (Also, prostaglandins reduce the secretion of acid in the stomach, while NSAIDs (non steroid anti inflammatory drugs) stop the creation of prostaglandins, which are also involved in inflammation.)

    Misoprostol can be used alone. It’s a common method of induced abortion in Latin American countries, off label. It’s cheap too. It has an effectiveness of 80% with the rest requiring a surgical abortion to finish the job.

    Using both raises the effectiveness of the treatment to 96-99% according to an article in the NEJM.

  12. #12 William Wallace
    July 10, 2009

    None of these problems are solved when pro-lifers proclaim Planned Parenthood is killing women.

    Complaining about the women who die after taking RU-486 is like complaining about the husband who cut his knuckles on his wife’s teeth while pummeling her, got a staph infection, and died himself. Poor poor wife beater.

    The bigger problem is that Planned parenthood associated doctors are making a killing, killing a lot of human life. Another pro-life argument designed to tug at the heartstrings of progressives is to mention that much of this destroyed life is minority.

    The only reason pro-lifers bring up the women dieing is because pro-choicers do not value the other human life, the one that is always destroyed, during abortions.

  13. #13 Zar
    July 10, 2009

    William Wallace is pro-rape.

  14. #14 William Wallace
    July 10, 2009

    Zar, I am anti-rape. But we should punish the rapist, and not his child.

    On the other hand, gun-control advocates, who believe that a 110 pound woman should have to fist fight a 250 pound rapist, are pro-rape.

  15. #15 LanceR, JSG
    July 10, 2009

    Planned parenthood associated doctors are making a killing, killing a lot of human life.

    Blatant anti-abortion lie. Planned Parenthood does *not* “make a killing”. The majority of Planned Parenthood’s “income” comes from health services *other* than abortion.

    It is typical of a fundie Xian that they only see one aspect of a person or organization and assume that all there is to know.

    Limp Willy: One more Liar for Jesus. Ninth Commandment? Ring any bells? How can you expect others to live by your rules when you won’t?

  16. #16 LanceR, JSG
    July 10, 2009

    gun-control advocates, who believe that a 110 pound woman should have to fist fight a 250 pound rapist, are pro-rape.

    See, now *that’s* some quality strawman!

  17. #17 Tyler DiPietro
    July 10, 2009

    “But we should punish the rapist, and not his child.”

    And a woman should have to bear the burdens of pregnancy for nine-months, endure excruciating pain during childbirth and also possibly incur a lifelong obligation to someone by virtue of having her body violently assaulted, all because people like you have some stupid sentimental attachment to zygotes.

    There’s a word for that kind of thinking: misogyny.

  18. #18 Lou FCD
    July 10, 2009

    The only reason pro-lifers bring up the women dieing is because pro-choicers do not value the other human life, the one that is always destroyed, during abortions.

    Of course limp willie’s premise, that he demands we all accept without thought, is that there *is* a human life to begin with.

    By the same logic, when he has scrambled eggs for breakfast, he’s killing chickens. It’s a retarded premise blindly accepted by a simpleton.

  19. #19 Paul Lundgren
    July 10, 2009

    Abbie Smith is more of a man than William Wallace.

  20. #20 Interrobang
    July 11, 2009

    People like William Wallace never quite think about what happens to that putative baby after it’s born. I’m most probably the product of a forced birth — statutory rape and abortions being illegal at the time. I’d like to find every single platitude-waving lawmaker and my biological father and give them an involuntary malocclusion for doing that to the woman who gave birth to me. I’ve never even met that woman, but the thought that she had to go through a horrible pregnancy and a premature birth makes me think, “You did what to my mother?!”

    Every forced birther is in some sense complicit in hurting her and every other woman like her. All of them can go to hell.

    I’m almost certain it would have been better for her in all respects if she’d been able to have an abortion. I wouldn’t be here to write this if she had, but then again, there wouldn’t have been a me to care, so it’s a moot point.

  21. #21 William Wallace
    July 11, 2009

    LanceR, do you do the difference between the income of a doctor who works at or gets referrals by planned parenthood and planned parenthood itself? Damn, you’re stupid.

    LouFCD, are the scrambled eggs fertilized?

    Interrobang, what percentage of abortions are the result of statutory rape?

  22. #22 Pierce R. Butler
    July 11, 2009

    William Wallace, are you unaware that most abortions are provided by ob-gyns?

    Do you know that a first-trimester abortion in the United States costs about $400, while a standard delivery without complications starts at over $4,000?

    Can you do elementary arithmetic?

    Do you have any clue whatsoever as to why so many people despise you?

  23. #23 William Wallace
    July 11, 2009

    Do you have any clue whatsoever as to why so many people despise you?

    I think you’ve confused progressives (your peers) with people. Progressives don’t like piercing questions that illustrate the ludicrousness of their position. I guess they prefer that their ideology be left undisturbed.

    Do you know that a first-trimester abortion in the United States costs about $400

    No, I didn’t. I’ve read that it cost about $500-$1000. At 5 abortions per day, that is up to $1,249,000 of revenue from a single abortion doctor, assuming a 49 week work year and a 5 day work week. (Google Report to the Legislature: Induced Abortions in Minnesota for 2008, specifically, see “Physician X”, who performed 1,249 abortions in 2008).

  24. #24 William Wallace
    July 11, 2009

    One more thing. If you search for the Induced Abortions in Minnesota January – December 2007: Report to the Legislature report, you will see “Physician H” performed 2,957 abortions in 2007. Even at $400 per abortion (your figure), assuming they were all first trimester, that works out to be $1,182,800 of revenue. And that works out to 12 abortions per day for a single physician, assuming a 49 week work year and a 5 day work week. That is $4827.76 dollars of revenue per day from a single abortion doctor, using your low-ball figure of $400, and an actual abortion doctor’s schedule.

  25. #25 Slartibartfast
    July 11, 2009

    Willy wanker, you forget that this is irrelevant when the things are born. They then cost up to and beyond $100000 of the state’s money over time. As someone who hates taxes, it would make sense for women to choose their right what they want. As this seems to fly over your head, you hate humanity and women. Game set match, your fiscal arguement is baseless. Now, fuck off or discuss the bacteria strain at hand and the reasons for its occurance.

  26. #26 Lou FCD
    July 11, 2009

    Willy, you are just enamored with that magical thing called fertilization, aren’t you? Befuddle you, does it?

  27. #27 Anton Mates
    July 11, 2009

    LouFCD, are the scrambled eggs fertilized?

    We already had this conversation with Rhology. Lots of people eat scrambled fertile eggs, and there are adult chickens which developed from unfertilized eggs. Life’s funny that way.

  28. #28 Douglas McClean
    July 11, 2009

    @William Wallace, #23,

    “Piercing” is hardly the first word I would use to describe your “questions”.

    I’ll also note that you completely failed to address Pierce R. Butler’s point at #22 that there is more money to be made by delivering babies than by aborting them. Perhaps you’d care to address that point now, before continuing to mistakenly label a large number of hardworking physicians as money-grubbing murderers? Perhaps not. Either way, go fuck yourself.

  29. #29 ERV
    July 11, 2009

    Doug, you arent thinking in idiot.

    A woman can only have one baby in nine months: $4000

    However, a woman can have over 9000 abortions in nine months: 400*9000=3.6 million


  30. #30 LanceR, JSG
    July 11, 2009

    Uh-huh. The usual “That’s the only thing about him” tripe from a fundie moron.

    Question for ya, Limp Willy. What percentage of Planned Parenthood’s work is abortions? National org, affiliated doctors, whatever your deluded mind wishes. How much? Any idea? I didn’t think so. And there you go calling *me* stupid again. That actually makes me happy. If I’m wrong by your standards, then I must be right on the mark in reality.

    Another deluded fool.

  31. #31 William Wallace
    July 12, 2009

    I’ll also note that you completely failed to address Pierce R. Butler’s point at #22 that there is more money to be made by delivering babies than by aborting them.

    I addressed it, but I’ll address it some more.

    An abortion mill doctor doesn’t have to get up in the middle of the night to deliver babies, get pestered by a pager nights, holidays, and weekends, suffer through long labors. They get to work at scheduled times. The abortion mill doctor’s malpractice insurance is likely to be much lower (after all, they don’t have to worry about infant deaths and injuries). Their skill set doesn’t need to be as polished. No need to worry about tearing the ear of a baby during live birth with forceps, for example, or leaving nasty scars on mothers during c-sections, or botching a circumcision. And, if “Physician H” cited in one of my earlier posts is taking home only half the $400-$1000 fee (I don’t know if this is realistic, but two family doctors I know have told me they get 1/2 of the service fees paid by insurance companies), then Physician H made more than most if not all OBGYNs, which I understand earn about $200,000/year.


  32. #32 Eddie Janssen
    July 12, 2009

    Is it possible to return to mifepristone?
    I am a different Eddie than “eddie”, just to clear that up.

  33. #33 Militant Agnostic
    July 12, 2009

    Pierce R. Butler wonderedCan you do elementary arithmetic?

    WW can’t do elementary biology, physics, chemistry or logic – why should math be an exception?

    Isn’t the prevention of unwanted pregnancies main objective of Planned Parenthood? This should reduce the number of abortions. More religion = more abortions – check the statistics.

    With regard to how much a Dr. charges for an abortion – that is not what they pocket from the procedure. It is like the hourly labour charge for a car repair – it has to cover the overhead for the clinic as well.

    WW – your comments are a waste of bandwidth and you yourself are a waste of air.

  34. #34 Douglas McClean
    July 12, 2009

    William Wallace, @30,

    Your logic remains terribly broken. Remember that “free market” thingamajig? How can it be that being “an abortion mill doctor” is easier, has better hours, and pays better? Wouldn’t this lead to, say, competition driving down margins? Isn’t it possible (nay, likely) that this has already happened, and that your out-of-your-ass guess of 50% profit margins is (one of the) off base portion(s) of your calculations? (Another, of course, is multiplying one outlier by another and generalizing from there to the average case. Do you not think it likely that Physician H required a substantial support staff to see 13 patients a day? Or likely again that in performing 13 abortions a day he/she was seeing simple cases that commanded smaller and more competitive fees?)

    Nevermind the fact that, if you actually believed this “logic” about the money, it should make you more inclined to support pharmaceutical abortions (the, umm, topic of this thread). After all, if RU-486 is easily and cheaply available for appropriate cases, that takes money away from the “abortion mill doctor[s],” does it not? Without all those megabucks pouring in, where will they find the money to propagandize poor impressionable young sluts into aborting?

    Then, of course, there’s the rampant question-begging. You’ve skipped straight from “ZOMG! doctorses charge dollarses!” to “ZOMG! doctorses are money-grubbing baby killerz!” without, you know, even attempting to demonstrate why anyone should believe that abortion is baby killing. I’ll refer you to tables 11 and 11a in the report you referenced earlier for evidence (if any were needed) to the contrary.

    And then, comes the money again. Charges may be lower than your estimate, if the numbers in table 20 are relevant. They indicate that the state payed $36,461.91 for 159 abortions = $228.69 < $400 << $1000. But, perhaps these represent simpler-than-normal cases and so the rates are lower.

  35. #35 Cat Faber
    July 12, 2009

    ERV–thank you for an interesting and educational post. I don’t actually have anything to add on the science end, except that I quite agree with you that the “in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children” crowd’s reaction is only muddying the waters.

  36. #36 eddie
    July 12, 2009

    Hey Eddie Janssen! I find your comments more sensible than many of my efforts.
    I’d like to second the comment about pregnancy prevention. Abortion should be unneccesary, other than when a wanted pregnancy goes badly wrong. It’s the dogmatically ignorant pro- rapists like willy that *uc* things up for everybody.
    Also: tits or GTFO, limp boy.
    See, EJ is much more sensible.

  37. #37 Eddie Janssen
    July 12, 2009

    @ eddie: you seem to have an understanding of this medical/chemical stuff. I don’t. Every time I see my own name I am surprised because there are not that many Eddie’s in the world. So I thought to myself before anyone starts thinking I am knowledgable on medicine en stuff lets clear that misunderstanding.
    I am irritated seeing WW take over the thread. Because whenever he does the subject of the post disappears and all we see is a long sequence of posts where people react on something outlandish he said.

  38. #38 William Wallace
    July 12, 2009

    #35, looks like I’m the only one actually providing citations in the comments, though at least one has actually taken the time to look at some of the source material. Others, while promoting the destruction of human life, have accused me of being misogynistic, pro-rape, and misanthropic. But it is the so-called pro-science progressives who get giddy when they consider that for every two abortions now, about 1,000,000 future consumers won’t exist in 20 generations, consumers who destroy rain forests, raise global temperatures, leave carbon footprints, fill landfills, utilize tax dollars, contribute to urban sprawl, vote for politicians like Sarah Palin, etc.

    Talk about misanthropic. And, some of the commenters here, and on other threads, would rather provide state funding of abortions so that abortion mill doctors can profit, than pay welfare recipients to get their tubes tied.

    Do you not think it likely that Physician H required a substantial support staff to see 13 patients a day?

    I get something much closer to 12 patients per day. 2957/(49*5)=12.07. I assumed 3 weeks of vacation per year. Are you saying abortion mill doctors also get 6.5 weeks of vacation per year? (2957/(45.5*5)=13). Wow. Talk about making a killing.

    Isn’t it possible (nay, likely) that this has already happened, and that your out-of-your-ass guess of 50% profit margins is (one of the) off base portion(s) of your calculations?

    Nurses, office managers, and receptionists don’t make that much money. If you have any evidence that abortion mill doctors don’t get 50% of the fee, show me. I do suspect they have to pay for malpractice insurance out of that, but, as indicated, it seems very reasonable that the malpractice insurance for an abortion mill doctor is much cheaper than for an OBGYN performing live births. Live babies can sue until they are 18, intentionally and legally killed babies cannot.

    Regarding competition, even though abortion is currently legal, not everybody wants to be a hitman. Most doctors don’t want to do harm, and take their hippocratic oath sincerely.

    Regarding state funding of (out of state–you left that detail out) abortions, interesting. Do you have any idea why a government program would pay less than the market rate? Hmn, doctors in general should consider this when they advocate for a single party payer system.


    I am irritated seeing WW take over the thread.

    I’m all for mitigating staph infections, and Clostridium sordellii, even if wife beaters and baby murderers also benefit. But I refer you back to the OP, and to my response at 12. My comments have been on topic, or responses to the red herrings and straw men tossed out by ERV and her readers. Indeed, when I miss a red herring, I get chided for it too. Damned if I respond, damned if I don’t.

    Abbie slammed the pro-life crowd. She could have just blogged on the bacteria if that’s all she wanted to discuss. But she took some shots at pro-lifers, and I responded. This is otherwise known as trolling by blog entry.

    Out of all the responses to my responses, only a couple have been reasonably presented. The rest are variations of the progressive debate tactic, if you can’t counter a rational point, just label it idiotic, pro-rape, boorish, etc., and hope nobody notices your evasiveness. You might as well just plug your ears, cover your eyes, and chant “la la la la la can’t hear you abortion is good abortion is good abortion is good la la la la la you’re wrong.”

  39. #39 Douglas McClean
    July 12, 2009

    William Wallace, you haven’t presented any evidence that that isn’t the market rate besides a wild-assed-guess based on an anecdote that it is higher. I also failed to, and fail to, see the relevance of the “out of state” detail, which is why I left it out. I used the numbers available on cost to derive a cost estimate, you used a wild-assed-guess, and then said “If you have any evidence that abortion mill doctors don’t get 50% of the fee, show me.” I call shenanigans. Show some evidence that they do, then we’ll talk. I’m not aware of any industry where there is routinely a 50% profit margin, even a service industry.

    As far as the difference between 12.07 and 13, I divided by 47 * 5 instead of 49 * 5 by mistake, got 12.58, and rounded up. Mountains from molehills, since there is no real difference between 12 and 13 anyway to the point I was making.

    You then moved on to an entire paragraph of question-begging, saying: “Regarding competition, even though abortion is currently legal, not everybody wants to be a hitman. Most doctors don’t want to do harm, and take their hippocratic oath sincerely.” Ahh, I see, since most doctors don’t want to do harm, and not all doctors are abortion doctors, it follows that abortion is harmful? Similar logic can be used to show, well, anything at all.

    Also, to reiterate, if you one were really concerned about this money business it would lead one to be more supportive of pharmaceutical abortion, which cuts off the money to “abortion mill doctors.”

    Incidentally, labeling concern about population growth “misanthropic” is batshit-insane, and, of course, almost totally irrelevant to the (even as-already-sidetracked) thread. Certain resources required to support a modern agricultural society are present in finite amounts here on earth. The rapture is not going to imminently “save us” from this problem. Pace a growing chorus of critics, Ehrlich having been wrong about time-scales doesn’t demonstrate that Malthus was wrong. At anything like a modern western standard of living, it is likely that the current population of about 7 billion is already well above the long-term carrying capacity; it may be even at current living standards. Supplies of fossil fuels and phosphorite used to produce our food are anything but inexhaustible. Now, no thanks to you and your ilk, education and availability of contraception may still be enough to avert catastrophe, with world populations currently projected to peak at 9.5 billion in 2050, but calling everyone who is even aware of the problem a misanthrope is not helpful. The world population is still increasing at a rate of 1.5 million per week. Imagine a city of 1.5 million people, say, Philadelphia. Now imagine the effort required to construct one per week, and you will realize that unchecked population growth condemns billions to live in poverty.

    Please consider returning to 13th century Scotland, where I’m sure both your views on women, your research methodology, and your views on conucopianism will be welcomed as–ever so slightly–ahead of their time.

  40. #40 Douglas McClean
    July 12, 2009

    I missed an “r” in cornucopianism, there. Oops.

    Also, to reiterate, the population problem has almost nothing to do with abortion. I am not advocating abortion to deal with the abortion problem, nor am I aware of anyone who does. I’m, independently from the abortion question, addressing William Wallace’s assertion that anyone concerned with population growth is misanthropic.

  41. #41 Douglas McClean
    July 12, 2009

    Wallace also mumbled, at #37:

    And, some of the commenters here, and on other threads, would rather provide state funding of abortions so that abortion mill doctors can profit, than pay welfare recipients to get their tubes tied.

    Well, Wallace, this makes just about as much “sense” as your other comments. Using your own Minnesota statistics again, you’ll see in table 16, only 3,960 of 13,843 = 28.6% of the abortions covered by the report were paid for with public funds. Presumably the ones that benefited “welfare recipients” were a subset of these. Note also that in table 12, some 92.4% of abortion patients covered by the report had had two or fewer previous induced abortions. A google search for the “average cost tubal ligation” reveals estimates in the range $1,200 – $6,000. From this I think we can all conclude that if we implemented your plan to pay the poor to sterilize themselves in an effort to save money, we would in fact lose money. How about we just teach people about sex safety instead? Or would that offend your sky-daddy’s delicate sensibilities?

  42. #42 Pen
    July 12, 2009

    ERV – errmmm, now I’m feeling stupid.

    Over 9000 abortions in nine months? One woman? How? What don’t I know about my body?

  43. #43 Tyler DiPietro
    July 12, 2009

    “And, some of the commenters here, and on other threads, would rather provide state funding of abortions so that abortion mill doctors can profit, than pay welfare recipients to get their tubes tied.

    Nice, he supports eugenics too.

  44. #44 LanceR, JSG
    July 12, 2009

    Nice, he supports eugenics too.

    But only for “those people”.

  45. #45 Tyler DiPietro
    July 12, 2009

    I just find it a wee bit ironic. Someone calls themselves pro-life but is perfectly comfortable in their dehumanizing eliminationist sentiments toward the impoverished. It becomes doubly ironic when that person is ostensibly a pro-lifer out of Christian conviction.

    Of course, “ironic” might not be the right word, since that implies a disparity between what you expect and what happens. This is perfectly expected, since the vast majority of “pro-lifers” are actually misogynists who just think that birth is a punishment for slutty women.

  46. #46 William Wallace
    July 13, 2009

    Those who support abortion, Malthusian population control, and Darwinian survival of the fittest accusing me of supporting eugenics when the majority of abortions are affecting unborn minority babies in this country is enough to make a normal person’s head explode. Where are your brains?


  47. #47 Douglas McClean
    July 13, 2009

    Just in case bold italics will help, I AM NOT SUPPORTING MALTHUSIAN POPULATION CONTROL, nor is anyone else on the thread. WTF are you talking about?

    As far as “Darwinian survival of the fittest,” that will happen with or without my “support” or anyone else’s. I honestly don’t even no what that part of your conjunction is supposed to refer to in the present context.

    Also, here on earth, the majority of abortions in the United States ended pregnancies carried by white mothers (for 2005, the last year for which I could find statistics, see http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5713a1.htm). Certainly there is a disparate impact, but it’s an individual choice, seems to be primarily associated with socioeconomic status rather than “racial” or ethnic background. (and conservatives don’t believe in disparate impact analysis anyway, remember?) Forgive me if my presumption that by “in this country” you meant “in the United States of America” was incorrect, I based it on your earlier citation to a report by the government of the state of Minnesota.

    And so, your claim seems to be reduced to “Those who support abortion, [things which no-one on this thread is supporting], and [believe in evilution] accusing me of supporting eugenics when [false] is enough to make a normal person’s head explode.” You’re correct, that much gibberish in one sentence did make my head explode, scattering my brains across a three-state area. (I got better.) And that was even before I got to the fact that you did state support for eugenics and even derided “some of the commenters here” for failing to do so with you by (what you falsely claimed to be) the most cost-effective means available.

    Will you please, at long last, STFU? Please?

  48. #48 Douglas McClean
    July 13, 2009

    Neither the ) nor the . belongs in the hyperlink above. Try here for the CDC report I was intending to reference.

  49. #49 minimalist
    July 13, 2009

    As far as “Darwinian survival of the fittest,” that will happen with or without my “support” or anyone else’s. I honestly don’t even no what that part of your conjunction is supposed to refer to in the present context.

    Don’t you know? Studying something and accepting it as the most likely model equals “support”. This is the real reason why John McCain and Bobby Jindal are so opposed to astronomy and volcano monitoring: obviously the practitioners of those pursuits support the eventual entropy-death of the Universe and volcanic eruptions, respectively. THEY MUST BE STOPPED!

    It also, in typical Wally-fashion, ignores cooperativity and altruism as successful reproductive strategies for communal species such as ours (as well as neutral mechanisms, etc.).

    Oh, and biomedical researchers like the host of this blog, working to cure diseases. That rather runs against Wally’s cartoon strawman of scientists “supporting survival of the fittest.”

    Of course, he’s been told these things time and again, but if he showed any capacity to learn or get past his smug ignorance, he wouldn’t be the Wally we know and love.

  50. #50 Tyler DiPietro
    July 13, 2009

    “…accusing me of supporting eugenics…”

    It was the sentiment you expressed Wallaids, and I only pointed it out because it was ironic. Now we have to get some plaster to patch the hole in the wall made by the point sailing right over your head.

  51. #51 LanceR, JSG
    July 13, 2009

    Don’t bother to patch that hole, Tyler. It would just make the others stand out by comparison. Perhaps we ought to start a collection to buy Limp Willy a whole new wall. Maybe one with padding, so the points can bounce back at him?

    That said, I’m surprised he doesn’t live in a place with padded walls by now…

  52. #52 eddie
    July 13, 2009

    Wally has railed at our characterisation of him as pro-rape. And yet when, to use his phrase, a “normal person” has shown normal disgust at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7926694.stm for example, what was ww’s response?
    *sound of crickets in the night*

    Then there’s the faux morality of ‘abstinence only’. As mentioned above, the position is one of misogyny and control, and ww exhibits the usual fundie reset button so that no-matter how many times it’s spelled out, he still comes back with the samo old same old dogma.

    All this and his strange approach to the peer review process.

  53. #53 Felix
    July 13, 2009

    Thank you for this informative post, ERV, and to most of the folks commenting here. It’s remarkable to see how scientific progress, and indeed basic logic at times, can be stymied when a staunchly ideological perspective comes into the picture. The analogy that comes to mind is clowns invading the laboratory.

    In any event, it is good to see that cooler heads have prevailed, successfully finding a workaround for these side effects of mifepristone. The “pro-life” lobby is noise, and I hope the signal will ultimately dominate.

  54. #54 Wolfhound
    July 13, 2009

    Willy, what the fuck do you care if a woman chooses to terminate her pregnancy? How does her decision affect you? Why do you pretend to give a shit and be all about teh bebbies when your infanticidal deity says nothing at all about abortion other than commanding its people to rip fetuses out of the womb of those that have pissed it off and dash already-born babies’ heads against rocks?

    I don’t doubt for a moment that you’re just one more hypocritical right-wing retard who rails against abortion, wanting every slut who had the temerity to get knocked up to be punished by forcibly mandating her to carry the unwanted fetus to term. Once they are born, you’ll piss and moan about your tax money being stolen from you to finance the social services required to keep the new family intact. Obviously, if the bitch hadn’t been so selfish, she’d have given the resulting baby up for adoption immediately, and only to good, white, Christian couples, of course. Unless the babies aren’t white or have physical/mental defects. Then you assholes don’t want them. >:(

    So, I ask you: How many kids have YOU adopted, Willy?

  55. #55 William Wallace
    July 14, 2009

    Willy, what the fuck do you care if a woman chooses to terminate her pregnancy?

    Seriously, this passes for logic?

    What do you care if a woman kills her autistic son? Retro-active abortion. How did it affect you, or the police?

  56. #56 LanceR, JSG
    July 14, 2009

    Limp Willy, are you really saying that you can’t tell the difference between a child and a lump of cells? You really think there’s no difference?

    Then go protest IVF clinics. They burn thousands of fertilized eggs as medical waste every single day. It’s a holocaust waiting for you to protest. Think of all those babies just being tossed in the trash.

    Or admit you’re wrong.

  57. #57 William Wallace
    July 15, 2009

    We are all lumps of cells.

  58. #58 Thomas S. Howard
    July 15, 2009

    William Wallace:

    We are all lumps of cells.

    Like wow, man. That’s deep and stuff. Have you ever looked at your hand? I mean REALLY looked at it? And, like, atoms. Just…atoms. They just, like, react and stuff. I mean, how do they know. How. Do. They. Know?

  59. #59 Douglas McClean
    July 15, 2009

    You (should, but wouldn’t) know you’re fractally wrong when the one time you manage to say something factually accurate you are using it sarcastically to convey an inaccurate subtext. Impressive.

    But wait, there’s more! It’s even better if you don’t actually believe the one factually accurate comment because, say, you are a dualist.

  60. #60 Lee
    July 15, 2009

    I had a skin tag -long tubular thing – growing in my armpit. The joys of getting older. It was getting kind of long, and a pain – so I cut it off. Stung a bit, bled for a minute, scabbed over, healed.

    The skin tag, I threw away.

    It looked an awful lot like a lump of cells. Before I removed it, it was supplied with blood, and growing. It had the same human genome I do.

    Wee Willy here seems to think I committed murder.

  61. #61 William Wallace
    July 16, 2009

    Lee, why didn’t you cut that hairy lump of cells growing between your shoulders?

    So, we have no answer from the know-how-to-know-it-alls.

    Fetuses are a lump of cells, and so are you. Just a bunch of cells. Meat, blood, bones, etc.

    Why is it that, from a scientific perspective, we should criminally investigate and charge the woman linked to in #55, assuming she’s not found to be criminally not liable due to the damage done by the pharmaceuticals, which, it might be noted, were prescribed and designed by persons of science?

    Why do you treat birth as the first book-end instead of a milestone in a human life? Where in science do you get this? Is it just arbitrary, and you’d not complain if you found yourself in a society where a human life did not enjoy the protections of a civil government until the age of 21 were reached?

    Since not enough people protest IVF clinics, we must be wrong? Conception is not a milestone, birth is. Because that is the consensus among progressives. So there. No need for change.

    And if you found yourself in a society where slavery were common place, women were property, toddlers were sacrificed, and the duly elected and appointed representatives in government protected the status quo, I expect you’d go with it, live and let die.

    Doubt it. I bet you’d say something.

    So come on, it has to be more then a consensus definition.

    What makes you think it’s okay to abort unborn babies, create and intentionally destroy zygotes, cut them up, put them in petri dishes, grow new organs for others? The “greater good”, as defined by consensus? Somehow I don’t think you’d buy Eduard Pernkopf’s arguments if he were to defend the use of the despicably obtained cadavers to make, from what I hear, the magnificently illustrated Atlas of Topographical and Applied Human Anatomy.

    But maybe you would defend it, if you were logically consistent.

  62. #62 Douglas McClean
    July 16, 2009

    William Wallace,
    First, I take it you deny the existence of a soul? (Or else your claim, with which I agree, that we are just lumps of cells, would be false?)

    Second, the idea that there is no answer for why a person might cut off a flap of skin from his underarm, but would not choose to cut off his head, is laughably moronic. So, thanks for the chuckles. The answer is because we know that the brain is the seat of our conscious experience, what we experience as living, and we wish to continue living and experiencing, or alternatively, we wish to fulfill obligations which we will be unable to fulfill if decapitated, or any number of other reasons. You may wish to consult this book for several other common reasons.

    Third, the distinction between an underarm skin flap or a blastocyst on the one hand and a 10 year old boy on the other hand is as clear as night and day. One has a consciousness, relationships, experiences, and is a moral actor. The other does not.

    Fourth, you didn’t answer Lee. How would you distinguish (or would you distinguish) between a flap of skin on your underarm and an embryo? If the answer is ensoulment then you contradict your own claim that we are just lumps of cells.

    Put up or shut up. Or, just shut up.

  63. #63 William Wallace
    July 16, 2009


    To clear things up, I am assuming for the sake of argument the premise set out in #56. Lee and you seem to miss that.

    What you perceive as consciousness is really just a bunch of chemical reactions in your brain. Just ask PZ Myers. And even if consciousness endows you with a right to life, what if some rapper’s mama says to knock you out? Is it okay to kill an unconscious lump of cells.

    I’d like to hear the atheist scientist materialist justification for deciding that you get life entitling consciousness only after your born.

    I think it is clear that my point of view is that the moment of conception is when a human being becomes a human being, and that one of the fundamental purposes of government is to protect the innocent from the unjust use of force by the strong. Now, many or most naturally created human zygotes might not make it to birth, but that is a natural process. Old people die, and this is natural too. But I don’t support euthanasia, and I don’t support abortion.

    So Douglas, do you believe only those who posses consciousness are entitled to the right to life?

  64. #64 Wolfhound
    July 16, 2009

    Willums, you never said if you’ve adopted any children or not. Or if you are in favor of the social welfare programs necessary to financially sustain the women and the children you and your ilk would force them to birth. Real big on getting the little buggers here, not so enthusiastic once they’ve gotten here. And giving money to your stupid church doesn’t count as “helping”, even if they might spend a few bucks out of the thousands they rake in every week on a food bank.

    We all get that you cannot differentiate between an unconscious person, a child that has been born, and a lump of cells growing inside somebody else’s body. And we all laugh at you.

    Why is it that the most rabid pro-forced-maternity assholes are Christian and have a penis? Oh, wait, we know the answer to that one…

  65. #65 William Wallace
    July 16, 2009

    Ah, so before I am allowed to be pro-life, I have to have adopted some children. Makes sense. And by this line of thinking, only those who helped smuggle run-away-slaves from the South were allowed to be abolitionists when slavery was still legal.

    Aren’t we lucky people like you did not prevail when it came to slavery.

    It would be nice if somebody would answer the questions, instead of trying play “You’re a Republican hypocrite.”

    To answer your distracting question, welfare as it exists has major problems, and social security is becoming the new welfare for young able bodied people who find a doctor or two, and maybe a lawyer at worst, to say you can’t work. And, there are many pro-lifers out there who have taken in children, and they are vilified anyway. Consider Michele Bachmann and her husband taking in foster children, or Sarah Palin for keeping her child instead of getting it vacuumed out of her because it didn’t meet your standard of a beautiful baby suitable to become a member of the human race. If you or a woman you impregnate are would give agree to give birth to a child instead of murdering it for convenience, I would be happy to adopt it.

    We all get that you cannot differentiate between an unconscious person, a child that has been born, and a lump of cells growing inside somebody else’s body. And we all laugh at you.

    Nice dodge, but i0f it’s so simple, spell it out.

    What fundamental principle or principles in your science-based, secular humanist, neo-atheist world view causes you to think it’s not okay to kill a baby after it’s born, but it is okay to do so before it is born?

  66. #66 LanceR, JSG
    July 16, 2009


    Can you read that? Can you comprehend that notion? Your religious belief that it *is* is not supported by science. Your religious beliefs do not and can not dictate to people who do not share your beliefs. Deal with it.

  67. #67 Tommykey
    July 16, 2009

    Sarah Palin for keeping her child instead of getting it vacuumed out of her

    No one is criticizing Palin for going through with a pregnancy knowing that the baby would have Down Syndrome. When you are the governor of a state and have the financial means to support the child, then who can find fault with that? What Palin is criticized for is (1) using the baby as a campaign prop, and (2) advocating taking away the right of other pregnant women in the same situation whether or not they are prepared to handle the situation.

  68. #68 Douglas McClean
    July 16, 2009

    In addition to what Lance said, the fact is that it is something of a straw man saying that birth is the dividing line. Certainly birth is a bright line in the sand, and killing newborn babies (who aren’t brain dead, etc, tiny caveats that apply to adults as well)is certainly unacceptable. But there are very few people (and no one on this thread?) arguing that only birth is a criterion. To see just how much of a straw man this is, look back at your Minnesota statistics from up the thread; there were only 2 third trimester abortions in covered area in the covered time period.

    I’m actually unclear. Is it your position that we are “just a lump of cells” or are you merely willing to adopt that as a premise for the sake of argument? If you don’t believe it, is ensoulment the dividing line for you? If so, how do you know that ensoulment happens at conception? Isn’t it more plausible to believe that it happens as the new human develops nerves, a brain, and consciousness?

  69. #69 William Wallace
    July 16, 2009

    I didn’t realize that souls were scientifically detectable.

    Conception is a bright line. Birth is a milestone. This is what is. Conception creates a viable human life.

    A secular humanist neo-atheist might argue otherwise. But certain, a newborn left to his own devices is not viable.

    So, when does “viability” enter into a fetus, then, according to the neo-atheists here?

  70. #70 Douglas McClean
    July 16, 2009

    SOULS DON’T EXIST. For crying out loud. You are the one who doesn’t grant that we are just lumps of cells, so presumably you are the one who believes in undetectable souls.

    Conception is a bright, but somewhat non-sensical, line. Birth is also a bright line. That both can also be characterized as milestones seems irrelevant. What is it you are trying to say?

    When you say “conception creates a viable human life” you are (intentionally) using a different definition of the word viable than everyone else in the debate to distract attention from your question begging. Viable, in this context, refers to definition 2(b) here. I’m certain you know this and are being willfully disingenuous.

    A blastocyst “left to it’s own devices” is certainly no more “viable” (under any conceivable definition) than a newborn, so I’m not sure what point you are even trying to make with your third paragraph.

    I’m not familiar with the term “neo-atheist.” I found no definition in my dictionary, in any of several online dictionaries, or in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

    To answer your final question (although I disclaim being a neo-atheist at least until I know what one is), the current research on the question indicates that “viability enter[s] into a fetus” around the 22nd to 24th week of gestation.

    If conception is your bright line, presumably you oppose abortion in the case of ectopic pregnancy? If it is such a bright line, could you explain your rebuttal to the Catholic Church, who favor abortion in such cases? For review, ectopic pregnancy is when, because the “intelligent designer” wasn’t very good at his job, an embryo implants in a location other than the uterus, commonly leading to death in women without access to modern medicine (where the standard of care is induced abortion).

    The sound you just heard was your bright line going up in smoke. Oops.

  71. #71 LanceR, JSG
    July 17, 2009

    Conception is a bright line.

    Well, we can add embryology to the list of things Limp Willy doesn’t understand.

    This is why we never have *nice* conversations. Limp Willy is the poster boy for the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  72. #72 LanceR, JSG
    July 17, 2009

    To be more to the point, Willy, since I was pretty short earlier:

    Embryologists suggest that as much as 60% to 80% of fertilized eggs *never develop* into actual pregnancies. These are “conceived babies” by your definition, and most of them never develop into actual pregnancies. http://www.bioethics.gov/transcripts/jan03/session1.html

    So conception is *not* such a “bright line” as you suggest. If you are correct, and every fertilized egg is a human being, then your god is the biggest abortionist in the universe.

    Simple thought experiment: You are the night watchman at an IVF clinic. A massive fire rips through the building, uncontrollable and unstoppable. You have one minute to decide what to save; the freezer with millions of fertilized eggs, or the cleaning woman’s 3-year-old son. What do you do, hotshot? What. Do. You. Do?

  73. #73 William Wallace
    July 17, 2009

    When you say “conception creates a viable human life” you are (intentionally) using a different definition of the word viable than everyone else in the debate to distract attention from your question begging. Viable, in this context, refers to definition 2(b) here. I’m certain you know this and are being willfully disingenuous.

    No, just wasn’t aware that dictionary editors were that politically active. I took viable to mean able to develop normally. This is also a common definition. And, contrary to LanceR bold face lies, I addressed the point that many conceived children do not make it to birth for a variety of natural causes, in #63. That is a natural process.

    Old people die, and this is natural too. But I don’t support euthanasia, and I don’t support abortion.

    Even newborns aren’t normally capable of living unless a human provides food and shelter.

    So, based on your preferred definition, able to live outside the wound provided a human being provides food and shelter, do you propose that we start providing c-sections to mothers who want abortion, and if the unborn child lives, congratulations (or too bad, depending on your perspective).

    Didn’t think so.

  74. #74 William Wallace
    July 17, 2009

    should have been “…’s bald-faced…” …I don’t want something so trivial as a typo to distract the wizards of smart.

  75. #75 daedalus2u
    July 17, 2009

    WW, you show your ignorance. “Human life” can’t occur at conception because a fertilized egg can develop to be more than one or less than one individual. Identical twins are pretty common, chimeric individuals (a single individual composed of cells from multiple zygotes is less common).


    When two fertilized eggs develop into a single individual, which person died?

    When a fertilized egg develops into multiple individuals, which one(s) didn’t get a soul? If a fertilized egg is an individual, then if it divides into identical twins, there is still only one “individual” according to your definition. That means one of them can be killed and because one is still alive there is no murder.

    The moment at which a fertilized egg undergoing normal development becomes a unique “human life”, has to be later than when it can form either a chimeric individual or identical clones.

  76. #76 William Wallace
    July 18, 2009


    Douglas McClean brought up the topic of souls in #62. I am not sure why, ask him.

    Chimera twins is an interesting natural aberration, but of no consequence to the discussion at hand. The more common twinning is also not relevant.

    The argument that one person can, rarely, become two, or two can, more rarely, become one, makes no difference to the question at hand. If it did, one would be criminally liable for only one vehicular homicide if one were driving drunk and killed variously conjoined Twins, or liable for two if a chimera were killed.

  77. #77 daedalus2u
    July 18, 2009

    I am glad you agree that human cells do not constitute a human life.

    That is exactly the point. Death of human cells in a chimeric individual is not death of a person unless a human brain attached to those cells dies.

    Do you agree that a chimeric individual with a brain of one genotype has the right to have removed cells of another genotype from his/her body provided such removal does not threaten his/her life? Or do those cells have a “right to life”?

  78. #78 William Wallace
    July 18, 2009

    I’d like to see the Chirmera wedge document, was it published by Planned Parenthood?

    Removing a stub flipper arm growing from a chimera’s forehead when it has no chance of developing normally is quit different from removing a zygote from a human being.

    The key is viability, in the “able to develop normally” sense. Let’s not get sidetracked.

  79. #79 daedalus2u
    July 18, 2009

    So aborting a fetus with anencephaly is ok?

  80. #80 W. Kevin Vicklund
    July 18, 2009

    The key is viability, in the “able to develop normally” sense.

    And why should we accept your johnny-come-lately, non-standard definition, when the original 1828 definition (able to live independently) is what most people on both sides of the abortion debate use?

  81. #81 William Wallace
    July 18, 2009

    Infants cannot live independently.

  82. #82 W. Kevin Vicklund
    July 18, 2009

    Infants cannot live independently.

    By that definition, neither are you. What a fucking moron.

  83. #83 William Wallace
    July 18, 2009

    So aborting a fetus with anencephaly is ok?

    Personally, I wouldn’t do it, but in this extreme case, not the only such extreme case, I do think abortion should be an option. So you have your wedge, think you can expand it to abortion on demand?

    On a personal note regarding anencephaly, I would not provide life support either, as was done for “Baby K”.

    me: Infants cannot live independently.

    W. Kevin Vicklund: By that definition, neither are you.

    Nah, I think I could survive if every other person on the planet disappeared, taking all of their technology with them, including all of my possessions. Would be tough, but could be done. I am surprised to hear you say you could not.

    W. Kevin Vicklund: What a fucking moron.

    Fun, but pointless.

  84. #84 daedalus2u
    July 18, 2009

    WW, what is this “wedge” you are talking about? The idea that when abortion “should be an option”, it should be safe? That is a wedge issue? That anything that makes any abortion, no matter how necessary, the slightest bit safer is a “wedge” issue? The idea that all abortions (no matter how necessary) should be as unsafe as possible is your mainstream anti-abortion thinking?

    So for the women who die after aborting a fetus with anencephaly that is just their tough luck because they choose something that even you say “should be an option”?

    How lucky and convenient for you that you would never choose to exercise that option. Oh wait, you will never be in a position to “choose” that option because you are a MAN and can never carry any fetus.

  85. #85 Douglas McClean
    July 18, 2009

    William Wallace,
    Could you address the issue of ectopic pregnancy raised in #70?

    Could you address the link in #72 showing that 60-80% of conceived embryos “develop normally” into un-implanted dead embryos?

    Could you address the refutation of your claim (ludicrous even by your normal standards) that the dictionary writers are politically biased against you is refuted by, among others, this 1913 definition? Would you now care to retract that claim and revise your others above on the basis of the definition in use by persons other than yourself, and not the basis of one you constructed on an ad-hoc basis for rhetorical purposes?

    Why do I suspect that the answer to each of these questions is “no”?

  86. #86 William Wallace
    July 19, 2009

    Doug, please re-read my responses, as I address most if not all of them.

  87. #87 William Wallace
    July 19, 2009

    daedalus2u, the wedge is that some abortions should be legal, but I think you want to use that to argue for abortion on demand. If you’re against abortion on demand too, I apologize.

    Regarding being a man, so what?

  88. #88 Douglas McClean
    July 19, 2009

    You address none of them, except doing a non-sensical drive by on the definition. Clearly infants can live independently of the mother. The mother of a week old infant can be killed in a car crash on her way to the dentist, and the week old infant at home with its father will survive.

  89. #89 Douglas McClean
    July 19, 2009

    And as far as this “wedge” talk, here is why this is logically problematic for your case. You are unwilling to except the logical results of many of your arguments. You would save the 3-year old child of the cleaning lady in #72’s hypothetical in preference to the millions of frozen embryos. You won’t address yourself to the fact that the normal course of development for a conceived embryo is failure to implant. You won’t address yourself to the questions of ethics raised by ectopic pregnancy. In all of these ways, you show a profound lack of “respect for embryonic life.” Yet you insist that you and your sky-daddy, and not the people most directly involved, should be the sole arbiters in complex decisions of whether to abort early pregnancies.

    The relevance of your being a man is that the differential diagnosis for this particular form of illogicality points heavily to misogyny.

  90. #90 daedalus2u
    July 19, 2009

    WW, the original post wasn’t about abortion on demand; it was about making abortion safer by reducing the incidence of infection. The reasons why women dying from infections decided to have that abortion are independent of the issue of reducing infection and reducing deaths from infection. Infection also follows spontaneous abortion.

    I appreciate that you are unable to think clearly about such things. You say the impediment to aborting a fetus is what you call “viability”, but in the instance of a non-viable fetus, you would not abort it. Care to explain that so that the rest of us can understand your “thinking” or lack thereof?

    You keep saying that making abortions safer by preventing infections is a “wedge” issue. It is you who are making the safety of abortions a wedge issue by trying to keep abortions unsafe so that fewer will happen or that more people will die during them, no matter the cost in the lives of women.

    If the façade the anti-abortionist put up is so full of cracks that it can’t allow abortions of non-viable fetuses to be “safe” for the woman, then it is a failed effort and its proponents such as you have demonstrated their hypocritical disregard for the lives of women while declaring themselves to be “pro-life”. You and they are anything but.

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