Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Stunningly, the Fundamentalist State of South Dakota has enacted a ban on all abortions under any circumstances. According to the news story;

Proposed amendments to the law to create exceptions to specifically protect the health of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest, were voted down. Also defeated was an amendment to put the proposal in the hands of voters.

So these legislators apparently believe that these very same voters who put all their sorry asses into office as public servants, are too stupid to decide for themselves on this very important issue that will affect each and every resident of that state? Their arrogance is astonishing.

I myself am pro-choice and I know women who have had an abortion, but never have I met a woman who made this decision lightly. Abortion is a personal health-care issue as well as a social issue and as such, it should remain “safe, legal, and rare,” to restate an earlier slogan. But unavailable under any circumstances … ?? I don’t think so! How does it serve the greater social good to make alleyways and filthy motel rooms into slaughterhouses for our daughters, sisters and mothers? Does South Dakota exemplify the growing state of stupidity that is increasingly gripping this nation when it comes to female sexual behavior? Are we so moronic as a country that we turn a blind eye to many decades of previous experiences regarding grief caused by illegal abortions? Or do they think that, by telling those sinful whores that they can’t have an abortion under any circumstances that they simply won’t do it?

What is next on South Dakota’s holier-than-thou hit list? Will they also cut funding or further restrict access to birth control and sex education? These reactions typically go hand-in-hand with anti-choice sentiments. Why is it that social conservatives cannot understand that if we truly want to lessen the need for abortion, we must teach people how to have safe sex? It’s screamingly obvious that people don’t stop having sex just because a teacher somewhere tells them not to.

That is, if a teacher is even allowed to talk to their students about sex!

Appalling. Insulting. Outrageous.

Comments

  1. #1 Gerardo Camilo
    February 23, 2006

    Is obvious that they are looking for a challange to the law. That way either side can take it all the way to the Supreme court. Can you spell Alito?

  2. #2 Adam Ierymenko
    February 23, 2006

    Expect a flood of these. Now that the court has changed, they’re going to try to take abortion back using a number of different legal strategies. This one is simply the most overt, and it’s not surprising that it comes from “Dakistan.” :)

  3. #3 Leah
    February 23, 2006

    well, you’re not supposed to have sex at all. Don’t you know that you’ll burn in hell if you feel lust towards another human? Once (at a pretty liberal church), we had a weekend retreat to discuss sex. They actually taught us about condoms and BC (tho hell if I remember — I was just 14). Anyway, they also pulled out some fundamentalist type literature to show us what other churches teach. One was this ridiculous chart that showed the progression from hand holding to prunes (peck kisses) to peaches (open but no tongue) etc all the way to intercourse. the most ridiculous part was that guys weren’t turned on, according to them, until peaches, and it took girls all the way until fondling to be turned on.

    Anyway, just all part of the uber-religious agenda to deny sexuality in any way, shape, or form. Those sinful whores are flaunting their sexuality in our face with their abortions, birth control, condoms, and cherry red lipstick (that too will go someday).

  4. #4 Dawn
    February 23, 2006

    My mom spent years working on this issue. She would be turning in her grave if knew. WE ARE GOING BACKWARDS!!

  5. #5 James
    February 23, 2006

    Having lived in South Dakota for three years, admittedly in the metropolitanish city of Sioux Falls (population 112K at the time, which was 9 years ago), I can say with a certain degree of comfort that the state isn’t, in any strict sense, fundamentalist. Religious on the whole, yes, though with many different variants of faith, and let us not forget that it’s home to one of the more liberal past senate majority leaders we’ve seen in this country, Tom Daschle. So this isn’t an issue of fundamentalism as might be argued in a more southern state.

    Now that said, SD is conservative, with it having a fair number of Republicans in higher office. But then one of its current, in fact now the more senior senator, Tim Johnson is a democrat. So however much the state my be conservative, it’s not frothing at the mouth conservative, instead exercising a more practical perspective on things political.

    Something like this was going to happen eventually and it was going to take the right mix of politicians somewhere to make it happen. It just happened to be a place like SD, which is more sensitive to the political winds and bending to them, that this falls out. That plus the fact that people think that the supreme court is finally configured to make a change in abortion law possible brings us to where we’re now at. But anyone who kids themselves into thinking that this wasn’t coming eventually is kidding themselves. This has been a very contentious issue in this country for as many years as Roe v. Wade has been on the books and it was simply waiting for the right alignment of factors to bring it to a head. So it’s here, it’s happened, and now it has to be dealt with and the good fight fought and hopefully, if it goes to the supreme court and is shot down, maybe the country as a whole will settle down on this issue (one can always hope.)

    If the supreme court removes the protection of Roe v. Wade, which is not a given regardless of its current makeup, then this will fall on the states which is likely where it should be anyway. However it falls it’s going to be a slog from here to there and hopefully the issue is finally put to bed, or otherwise a more reasonable accommodation is achieved such that those would infringe on a woman’s right to do what she wants are kept at bay.

  6. #6 Tyler
    February 23, 2006

    Add this to the list of reasons why I am embarrassed to be from South Dakota…..

  7. #7 Ed Minchau
    February 24, 2006

    Abortion is a personal health-care issue as well as a social issue and as such, it should remain “safe, legal, and rare,”

    A million abortions a year in the USA is rare?

    How does it serve the greater social good to make alleyways and filthy motel rooms into slaughterhouses for our daughters, sisters and mothers?

    How does it serve the greater social good to murder a million children per year?

    You might want to check your moral compass.

  8. #8 AJ Mackenzie
    February 24, 2006

    So these legislators apparently believe that these very same voters who put all their sorry asses into office as public servants, are too stupid to decide for themselves on this very important issue that will affect each and every resident of that state?

    Um, that’s the whole concept of representative democracy: we elect people to make those decisions. And if we don’t like the decisions they make, we can elect someone else to take their place. It’s a legislature, not a debating society.

  9. #9 Eyeconoclast
    February 24, 2006

    Ed….You point out the basic difference between Anti-Abortion people and Pro-Choice people, namely that you view the unborn clump of cells in a fully grown and free womans body as equal to her in that to terminate the pregnancy is a murder. Please keep the zygote worship to a minimum and try and respect the soverignty of the woman who’s body is being hijaked by the pregnancy. Give her the option to decide the rest of her life….the government, or anyone else, has no authority over a womans womb.

  10. #10 Ed Minchau
    February 24, 2006

    Zygote worship? (choking back laughter)

    You’re right, the question of whether abortion is murder or not is the basic difference between the two sides of the issue.

    The phrase pro-choice sounds lovely – after all, what could be wrong with having choices? One notices that the pro-choice crowd never explicitly states what is entailed in the choice they want available.

    On one side of that choice is a natural biological process that is the reason that each and every one of us is alive today.

    If one views a baby the day before its birth as a human being, then abortion is obviously murder. I don’t know about the USA, but in Canada – where there are no abortion laws at all – if a ceasarian section is scheduled for Wednesday then the abortion may take place on Tuesday night. Anyone who thinks that’s just peachy keen is a psychopath.

    Then there’s the other side of that choice: if one views a fetus as nothing more consequential than an infected appendix, then by all means, have your appendix removed. It’s a simple procedure, right? A little endoscopy, snip snip and you’re done?

    Except that’s not what we’re talking about at all. I happen to view poking sharp objects into a baby’s heart, opening its head and scooping out its brains, and tearing it limb from limb as being a little bit different from having one’s wisdom teeth removed. And yet, that is precisely the option that the pro-choice crowd wants to have available.

    My sister is pregnant right now; the baby is due this summer. Here’s a picture of the ultrasound. Tell me that isn’t an image of a human being.

  11. #11 Alon Levy
    February 24, 2006

    Religious on the whole, yes, though with many different variants of faith, and let us not forget that it’s home to one of the more liberal past senate majority leaders we’ve seen in this country, Tom Daschle.

    Can you spell, “pork”?

    And Ed is right: abortion is indeed murder. Look at this cute aborted fetus.

  12. #12 James
    February 24, 2006

    Gee, Ed’s an emotional one, isn’t he?

    I am in the midst of having my first child right now, in fact it’s due any day now. Do I consider the entity in my wife’s body right now a living human being? Yes, I do, but then we wanted a child and soon we’ll have one. But the truth is I couldn’t take a tax deduction for this life, and this year I REALLY could use it, until such time as it entered the world and the reality is it is not a legal human being until such time as it does. Now that may seem like quibbling of a sort, but the fact is that we don’t have a definition for when a fetus is a human being for which “murder” would be the applicable term for terminating its viability, but via the tax man we do and that’s when said fetus is bellowing at the top of its lungs when its wrenched from its mother’s womb. So Ed, change the tax code, or find out why the IRS doesn’t seem to agree with you, and maybe we’ll have something of a go with regard to whether murder is the right term for an abortion – right now the law, and this has nothing to do with Roe vs. Wade, doesn’t agree with you.

    I like the “right-to-lifers” (also a cute term Ed, I mean who could argue with a “right to life” any more than anyone could with “pro-choice” – you lather over to much of the silliness that goes with this sort of thing) who so urgently defend a fetus and then just as urgently cut programs for birth control, fight for abstinence over realistic sex education, and then cut programs that would help unwed mothers with their child – I think that used to be called welfare but these days I haven’t a clue.

    You’re all too much of a hypocritical bunch for my liking, and far too strongly contribute to the very problem you claim to abhor so much. We should all become Christian fundamentalists, hiding behind Jesus or some such whatever, and turn our eyes away from the reality of what life puts on the shoulders of mothers who are left with children that they are expected to raise. If the mother is not ready she should come to term and opt for adoption – God, how sick is that? Yes, some can make that choice, but what of those who can’t? What of those who simply aren’t ready or otherwise simply don’t want? That all doesn’t matter to the likes of the Ed’s of the world, you got knocked up, you get to live with it is their basic credo. Here’s the bottom line, as I see it anyway:

    A mother has the right to determine what happens with her body and her life. I’m not a fan of abortion, but then sometimes things happen that we don’t expect or want, and sometimes the only way to correct for them is through something that may not be the optimal or most agreeable solution and therein we find abortion. The law doesn’t recognize the fetus as a human being until it’s viable externally from its mother’s womb. Now the issue of viability may be one to consider, frankly I have little good to say about late term abortions, but until we work through when a fetus is indeed a human being there’s no point to getting emotional about it being so – it’s not till it is, and we haven’t as a society made that determination and if we ever do I have a hard time believing that it will ever be to the point of the first 16 weeks of a pregnancy, which is when the majority of abortions now occur.

  13. #13 Lone Pony
    February 25, 2006

    Murder is a good reason to get emotional. That’s exactly what abortion is…murder of innocent babies before they’re born. Their basic personalities are intact BEFORE they’re born.

    My first baby moved CONSTANTLY inside my body. Kicked, hiccupped, stretched, punched. I knew I had an athlete in there! He would stretch his legs and push his feet against my ribs. I could run my fingers against my skin firmly and he’d pull his feet back quickly as if I were tickling him. An active extrovert! He came out, started screaming and hasn’t quit talking since he said his first word. To this day (6 ft 5 in) he is the same. Active, basketball, football, track…superextrovert, girls following him around in droves. Cell phone with over 200 numbers of friends.

    My second baby almost NEVER moved. Very quiet and still. Most of the time, I was worried I might have lost him. The doctor kept assuring me he was fine, just lazy. He’s the same today. Quiet, kind, SMART AS HELL! He moves pretty slow, but every movement has a purpose. He doesn’t talk that much, but when he does…everyone listens because it means something. He’s such a smartass.

    Please don’t advocate killing babies. Let’s end abortion and start working on the real issue…don’t get pregnant.

    Yes, there is an underlying malady that causes so many of our problems. There is so much emotional stuff going on besides the physical act of sex. I’ve seen young girls get pregnant for the attention…just someone to love them. I know girls that are having sex because they confuse it with love. How would they know what love is? Many of them have never seen it for real. (It’s a rare thing in the area I teach in.)

    Abortion is a quick fix. It’s a way to enable people to escape the consequences of their actions.

    Please don’t delete my post. I wasn’t disrespectful. I’m not a powerful person. I have no high place in our society and therefore, little influence. Who the heck am I? I have my little story, my opinion, and I am passionate about saving the lives of these children and improving the lives of others at the same time.

  14. #14 Alon Levy
    February 25, 2006

    I’ve seen young girls get pregnant for the attention…just someone to love them.

    And I’ve seen desperate idiots make up facts in order to get someone to listen to them. Some pro-fetus people like to lace facts with fiction; your post is an innovation insofar as it doesn’t contain a single true fact, except that you’re unimportant.

  15. #15 Jeffrey Boser
    February 25, 2006

    if a ceasarian section is scheduled for Wednesday then the abortion may take place on Tuesday night

    if one views a fetus as nothing more consequential than an infected appendix, then by all means, have your appendix

    It is typical of the pro-life rhetoric to use the exception to prove the rule. However, abortions after the first trimester make up a small percentage of the total, and ones after the first semester take up an order of magnitude less again. There is very little evidence that a significant number of women use abortion as a form of birth control, and there is much evidence that things like parental notification laws *increase* the number of second trimester abortions.

    Calling it murder, using imagery as traumatic as possible, raises the issue to one of irrational hate. And really doesn’t do anything at all to reduce the number of abortions. The people standing outside clinics are deluding themselves if they think they are making a positive difference. All they are doing is expressing their anger. However, abortion rates have declined for other reasons, and I think they could be pushed lower.

    And I think it should be lower. I do not believe abortion should be without limits, and I think the vast majority of Americans feels the same way. Its when people like the S.D. legislature throw out amendments for health/victimization reasons that they lose good faith and credit with the rest of America.

    I think that access to the day after pill has the biggest hope right now of accomplishing lowering adoption rates, not legislation. It is sad that the pro-life camp is insisting on its hate compaign, calling it an abortion pill or worse. All its doing is making the issue as absurd as Ed’s abortion-the-day-before-a-C-section remark.

  16. #16 Jamie
    February 25, 2006

    Pro-choice is not a Sophistic euphemism, but an accurate term. One can be pro-choice and still be personally opposed to aborting a pregnancy. And one can be sexually responsible and still get pregnant. And let’s remember that abortion rates tend to increase after enactment of conservative social policies, thus indicating that the efficacy of the anti-choice movement in preventing abortion is inversely proportional to its degree of self-righteous moralizing. To claim that women use abortion as a flippant means of birth control is ignorant and misogynist.

  17. #17 Jamie
    February 25, 2006

    Their basic personalities are intact BEFORE they’re born.

    If we accept the genetic determinism (and that’s quite a precarious warrant) of your argument, it logically follows that every menstrual cycle or male orgasm not resulting in pregnancy is also murder.

  18. #18 GrrlScientist
    February 25, 2006

    AJ; according to your view of the world, we should only vote once every few years, and otherwise go about our business without any thought as to what those weasels in the legislature are doing. um, no thank you. without The People keeping an eye on our legislators, and forcing them to publically rethink their policies, they will get into all sorts of mischief. that’s not a world i want to live in.

    Ed; where are you getting your statistics? if you are going to quote stats here, then make sure that you tell us who gathered them and when, otherwise, don’t bother. they are meaningless.

    you are getting carried away with your dramatic descriptions of a third trimester abortion — which is not legal in most (all??) states, except under exceptional circumstances (the fetus will not be viable after birth, or the mother is in imminent danger of death). your description has nothing to do with the topic at hand, which is the protection of a woman’s right to make personal choices about her health and health care. please stay on topic.

    Lone Pony; i disagree with your definition of murder and legally, that is an indefensible and ridiculous definition for murder anyway because women could be put into prison for murder if they lose a pregnancy as a result of doing something that triggered a miscarriage. and that’s just silly. further, by extension, if a fetus is considered to be a human with full rights and privileges at conception, then the mother could be imprisoned for child abuse if she smokes, drinks, doesn’t take medications as prescribed, stays out too late, eats too much fast food, or — heaven forbid! — has sex while she’s pregnant! and that’s just the beginning of the silliness that would result.

    by the way, what is your position regarding teaching kids about safe sex, birth control and the like?

    i want to point out that i am not advocating the killing of babies, so stop the rhetoric and don’t put words into my mouth. i am advocating that women are fully sentient beings who have the right — just as men do — to make choices about all aspects of their lives, including their reproductive status and their health care.

    incidentally, since you brought this up, i don’t delete people’s comments because they have the temerity to disagree with me. i do delete people’s comments when they either start spouting hate speech (this is also in compliance with ScienceBlogs’ prime directive) and i also delete when people repeat themselves (repetition reduces the value of an argument, especially when your audience is comprised of people who like to read thoughtful and insightful comments from their fellow readers).

  19. #19 MissPrism
    February 25, 2006

    Well-said, Grrlscientist.

    I like these stories of what happens when an anti-choicer has an unwanted pregnancy:
    http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/anti-tales.html

  20. #20 Lone Pony
    February 26, 2006

    grrlscientist –

    You told another commenter not to mention statistics:

    where are you getting your statistics? if you are going to quote stats here, then make sure that you tell us who gathered them and when, otherwise, don’t bother. they are meaningless.”

    I noticed at least four times you did not ask the same of those who agreed with your opinion.

    Even though your statement “many decades of grief caused by illegal abortions” is one you have left out the statistics for in your post, I would like to address it.

    Of course these women are going to continue to seek abortions if they’re made illegal. The same thinking that caused them to risk getting pregnant by participating in an activity (intercourse) they knew could cause them to get pregnant (when they did not want a child) is the same thinking that will cause them to risk their health and seek an abortion to hopefully minimize the consequences of their actions.

    Also, even though I know you were being sarcastic, I would never think of referring to these women as “misguided whores.” Instead, I would rather refer to them as women that have engaged in intercourse when they should not have.

    Let’s just take one reason (if it stands alone) for sex that is wrong…sexual desire. I’ve asked myself if there could possibly be any other (psychologically healthy) woman on this planet who could want to have sex with a man any more than I want it. Of course, the answer in my mind is no! I am an immensely sexual being. It has caused me hours of obsession.

    However, I have not had sex with a man in a long time. Why not?

    I’m an attractive woman. I’m not overweight. I’m fit and healthy. I’ve been told I have a great personality. I’m not too young or too old. In fact, I’ve found that I’m at an age where I desire it more than I ever have. I have offers…but I choose not to have sex. Why?

    It has nothing to do with my religion. I have tested my beliefs against the realities of life, and even though they’ve held up so far, still…I question.

    I know that my God will not keep me out of heaven for having sex, still…I abstain.

    I try to put myself in other people’s shoes. I try to see all sides of everything. I looked deeper inside myself for my true reasons.

    I choose not to have intercourse because I keep the consequences of my actions in the front of my mind. Yep…fear of the consequences, pregnancy, STDs, etc. (I have not achieved that higher level of morality that causes me to choose right just because it is right.) DANG! Things would be so much easier if I had.

    I choose not to have intercourse because I’m not ready for that kind of relationship. The kind of relationship that should require trust, and true love (not the kind of love I couldn’t help “falling into”) and commitment. I have lots of work to do on me.

    Can I get pregnant? Yes. Do I want to? Can I afford to? Do these men want to raise/pay for me to raise their child? Are these men father material? The answer to all these questions is NO.

    If I did have sex and it resulted in pregnancy, I wouldn’t have an abortion. I wouldn’t because I believe abortion is murder.

    A critical point on the abortion issue for me is when life begins. For me, it’s black and white. It has to be.

    It wasn’t an emotional decision. I admit, there was a time when I made the choice to believe the way I do because of my religion, but after obtaining a degree in chemistry with almost enough hours for a biology degree as well, I was able to reinforce my beliefs with science. Which again, is controversial even among scientists, but it corked it for me.

    Why must the determination of exactly when life begins be black and white for me? I’ll use the analogy of tardies in my classroom for an example: The rule is if you are not in your seat when the bell begins to ring, you are tardy. I’ve never had a student try this more than once. They know if their butt was in their seat or not and so do I. Cut and dry. No discussion, no interpretation, no arguing. It makes everyone’s life easier. It is the same idea for deciding when life begins. We have to start somewhere and the logical place for me is at fertilization.

    Your response to me:

    Lone Pony; i disagree with your definition of murder and legally, that is an indefensible and ridiculous definition for murder anyway because women could be put into prison for murder if they lose a pregnancy as a result of doing something that triggered a miscarriage. and that’s just silly. further, by extension, if a fetus is considered to be a human with full rights and privileges at conception, then the mother could be imprisoned for child abuse if she smokes, drinks, doesn’t take medications as prescribed”

    Let’s discuss murder…another difference in our definition of two words (murder, fetus). To me, ending the life of an innocent (murder) human, developing, growing baby (fetus) is murder. As far as women being punished for harming the life inside them, I believe they should be.

    Your further response to me:

    “stays out too late, eats too much fast food, or — heaven forbid! — has sex while she’s pregnant! and that’s just the beginning of the silliness that would result.”

    You’re right there…those are silly examples (Except for having sex while pregnant. I know about that and in which cases it is safe.) and that is why we have the constitution.

    Your further comment to me:

    i want to point out that i am not advocating the killing of babies, so stop the rhetoric and don’t put words into my mouth. i am advocating that women are fully sentient beings who have the right — just as men do — to make choices about all aspects of their lives, including their reproductive status and their health care.

    As for you advocating the killing of babies…let’s call this a difference in opinion resulting from of our variation in interpretation of words (abortion, life, baby, right, murder, kill, zygote etc.) and biological processes. In my opinion, you are advocating the killing of babies. In my opinion, a person is either for it or against it. I’m not putting words in your mouth… I am interpreting your actions. You have written a post that proves you are supportive of abortion. Everyone reading this will have to interpret that word for themselves.

    As far as women having the right to make choices about all aspects of their lives, I agree with you. However, the difference between you and me is that I don’t see a baby as HER life. I see a baby as A LIFE OF ITS OWN.

    Also, you mentioned that women should have the same rights as men (the right to make choices about all aspects of their lives). If she wants to have the baby they made together and he doesn’t (he wants the baby aborted) what then? Does he have the right to have it killed no matter what she thinks?

    I will fight your “right” to kill innocent life just as I would fight any other morally wrong practice in the world in which I live.

    Someday, when a child of yours wants you euthanized because you are old or sick or in any other way a disruption to the quality of their life, someone like me will be there to fight for you. Not because we like you. Not because you still have something to offer society, but because it is the right thing to do.

    The words used here against me hurt me. I was hoping it would make a difference to share my experiences with you.

    I’ve learned three lessons:

    It doesn�t make a difference what you say to some people. They’re going to do exactly as they wish, and they’re going to find a way to justify their actions.

    Also, I shouldn’t expect to be treated with courtesy or respect by those who trample others. (The image of pearls and swine comes to mind.)

    The last lesson I learned is that it is important to have supportive people who I admire around me. In my pain and fear, I turned off my computer. I was sickened by and again afraid of, other human beings. I felt as if I wanted nothing to do ever again with blogs or the internet, or giving my opinion or reading the opinion of others.

    When I checked my e-mail this afternoon, I had several supportive comments waiting for me.

    Then, I opened messenger and found a simple hug waiting from a friend. I sat and stared at that hug and went back and forth reading the comments.

    Then, I got angry with myself for letting your words bother me so much and decided to write this one last comment on your blog.

    Oh! In answer to your question:

    “by the way, what is your position regarding teaching kids about safe sex, birth control and the like?�”

    I talk to my students about sex. I tell them it is best that they do not have sex at their age. I explain to them why I believe they’re not ready emotionally, physically or economically. Then, I tell them if they do decide to have sex, think about it a little more. I give them questions to ask themselves. Then, if they decide to have sex, use a condom.

    Again, I emphasize:

    Abortion is a quick fix. It’s a way to enable individuals and our society as a whole to escape the consequences of our actions and to put off dealing with other issues.

    Based on accumulative data from the two primary sources of U.S. abortion statistics (Centers for Disease Control and Alan Guttmacher Institute), it’s estimated that around one million abortions take place annually and more than 43 million abortions have been performed in the U.S. since 1973.

    http://www.family.org/cforum/fosi/bioethics/facts/a0027730.cfm

  21. #21 Jamie
    February 26, 2006

    Abortion is a quick fix.

    Implied in that statement is that abortion is a non-invasive, cheap, and flippant process. It isn’t (and you seem to otherwise see that point).

    No one is ever emotionally, physically, or econonomically “ready” to have sex, until they do (on the former two), and maybe never on the last one. But economically, what are you saying? That poor people shouldn’t have sex? Sex is not a bad thing (erm, hopefully), and no one should be denied it based on class.

  22. #22 Crazy Politico
    February 26, 2006

    For the “Pro-Abortion” folks here, read your responses to the “anti-abortion” people who’ve commented. Is it any wonder that the right now has a political base that outnumbers the left 3-2? Look at your rhetoric, and tone.
    Even on an issue as contentious as this it’s possible to have reasoned debate, but you have to use your head before your mouth (or fingers in this case).

    Since reasoned debate doesn’t seem to be welcome here, I’ll respond to the junk above on the same intellectual level as those who’ve been attacking the anti-abortion group (it takes work to do this, I have to shut off half my brain)….

    Lone Pony is right, abortion is a quick fix. It’s like the TV dinner of the sex world. I don’t feel like cooking, I’ll nuke something.

    I don’t feel like using (chose one of dozens of birth control methods), so I’ll just kill the life that I created out of my own laziness.

    There are certain things that we should hold dear, life is one of them. It never ceases to amaze me that the side of the political spectrum that believes killing the unborn is okay wanted Tookie Williams to live.

    At least the reasons for Tookie’s death were his own, he shot four people in the face with a shotgun.

    The child you abort only committed the crime of being spawned by two people too lazy to wrap a penis with latex or put a patch on once a week.

    As for Jamie’s question about poor people, there are thousands of planned parenthood outlets that besides doing abortions provide free birth control. Schools provide it free in most states. State run health clinics provide it free, and medicaid, the state run insurance for the poor provides birth control under federal law. So they have choices, too.

    “The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” — Eden Phillpotts

    I would put human life in the category that Phillpotts speaks of in your quote.

  23. #23 James
    February 26, 2006

    The child you abort only committed the crime of being spawned by two
    people too lazy to wrap a penis with latex or put a patch on once a week.

    This irks me NO end, having known more than one person who got pregnant using
    condoms or, wonder of wonders, the pill. Too lazy to wrap a penis or use a patch
    … how simple life is for this person. But at least this one is offhandedly advocating birth control, which unfortunately is not the case for
    many others in this camp who see birth control as an evil and otherwise see the whole abortion issue as a primary
    means of pushing their Christian faith on the rest of us. While ol’ Crazy Politico gets some points for including birth control as a serious sociological consideration, he/she manages to lose them pretty quickly with an asinine and insensitive generalization.

    Lone Pony: We’re on opposite ends of this issue and I’m sure that’ll never
    change. That said, I give you credit for your honesty and what I perceive to be
    integrity.

  24. #24 Alon Levy
    February 26, 2006

    Even on an issue as contentious as this it’s possible to have reasoned debate, but you have to use your head before your mouth (or fingers in this case).

    Yeah, it is possible; but in general when people quote anecdotes, say stupid things like “a human’s personality develops before he’s born” (-4 years before, in fact), and talk about how abortion is bad because it removes a convenient punishment for women who have sex, reasoned debate has long been thrown out the window. You can talk about fetal development, or about abortion as a medical procedures, or about what constitutes personhood, or about the morality of forcing a person to donate an organ to save someone else’s life. Out of several dozen arguments I’ve had about abortion in the last few years, I remember exactly two in which an anti-choicer actually tried talking about any of these.

    For the “Pro-Abortion” folks here, read your responses to the “anti-abortion” people who’ve commented. Is it any wonder that the right now has a political base that outnumbers the left 3-2? Look at your rhetoric, and tone.

    Political power is completely independent of shrillness. The common argument that reasoned debate is better at convincing moderates is appealing, but flies in the face of evidence from psychology and sociology about what causes people to change their minds.

  25. #25 Crazy Politico
    February 26, 2006

    James, you are correct, it’s not always that simple, rubbers do break, and the pill does fail.

    However, those are pretty small numbers.
    (From The Alan Guttmacher Institute)
    On the basis of our survey findings, we estimate that of the 1.3 million women who underwent induced abortions in 2000, 608,000 had not been using a contraceptive method around the time they became pregnant, 610,000 had been using a method but not consistently or correctly, and 95,000 had thought they were using the method perfectly but became pregnant because of method failure

    That makes 8% based on failure of contraception, and 92% on either non use or incorrect use, the majority of the incorrect use was women not taking their pills on a regular basis.

    Alon,
    Political power is completely independent of shrillness. The common argument that reasoned debate is better at convincing moderates is appealing, but flies in the face of evidence from psychology and sociology about what causes people to change their minds

    If that were the case Howard Dean would be president because his Iowa Scream wouldn’t have turned off half the country.

    If that were the case, the Democrats in Congress would have a higher positive rating than their current dismal 27% (latest rasmussen poll).

    Shrillness does indeed affect political power. The way to get people to your side of an arguement isn’t to tell them their side is stupid, or use name calling as your primary method of fighting. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening here. You won’t find many converts that way.

    On the actual issue of abortion, I don’t like it. However, in cases of rape, incest (not covered by the SD law), and mother’s life (which is), I think abortion should be legal, however much I dislike the idea. In the 92% of cases where it really was laziness or lack of planning, I don’t.

  26. #26 GrrlScientist
    February 27, 2006

    “Pro abortion” folk? shall i refer to you as “anti choice”? oh, just to keep the rhetoric and tone at the same level as what you are apparently espousing. it certainly seems to me that we all are writing reasoned comments, until you showed up, that is. particularly since you prefer to muddy the discussion by talking about mass murderers, which has nothing to do with the topic we were talking about. if you want to participate in this discussion, at least attempt to stick to the topic, otherwise, you are free to pack up your toys and go home.

    and lone pony, i am surprised and pleased to read that you talk about safe sex and birth control with your kids. do you also help them obtain it? this is very rare in my experience, since i have the dubious honor of talking to college kids about these topics EVEN NOW and the reason is because they couldn’t find good (non-judgmental) information or they were too afraid to ask anyone.

    this is not uncommon. when i was a kid, i had no sources of sex education, except my parents. as an abused and unwanted kid who was later abandoned and made a ward of the courts as a teen ager, the last thing i ever would have done was to ask my parents about birth control or anything else, for that matter. the fact is, i learned what i needed to know from library books.

    unfortunately, things weren’t much better for my schoolmates, whose parents actually professed to love them. there was one planned parenthood clinic in my area and it was 12 miles away. we weren’t old enough to drive and public transit was nearly nonexistent. asking ANYONE for a ride to the PP clinic was a sure recipe for disaster due to rampant gossip and, especially in my case, the guarantee of a very violent parental response.

    the boys in my community refused to buy condoms because they had to go to a drug store and specifically request them from the sales clerk. certainly, it is very unusual, even today, to find a teen aged boy who has the courage to purchase a pack of condoms from any adult salesperson (even in Harlem, NYC, this is still quite unusual, and they don’t even have to ask for condoms now!). but since i was raised in a small, very conservative and religious farming community, i can unequivocably tell you that the sales clerk would have called the kid’s parents’ long before the kid had a chance to use even one of those condoms!

    so what happened instead? my parents did not allow me to have any friends whatsoever, male or female, outside of school. two of my school pals ended up having babies when they were 14 while a third got an abortion after she ended up with a tubal pregnancy. one of those babies was the result of rape (yes, it was reported to the police, although i do not know what happened because i was made ward of the court at this time). the last i heard from any of them, the two girls who had the babies are still on welfare, and always have been, while the third, the one who got the abortion, was employed.

    so the two girls who had the babies paid for their “laziness” with their futures, and with the futures of ALL their kids (they now have more than one kid each), all of whom are living under the dark cloak of being “welfare kids”.

    yeah, punishing those lazy women-children and all of their future kids sounds like a real workable solution to a real life issue.

  27. #27 Alon Levy
    February 27, 2006

    If that were the case Howard Dean would be president because his Iowa Scream wouldn’t have turned off half the country.

    The Iowa scream turned off exactly 0 people; the Iowa defeat was what caused Dean’s campaign to crumble. A week before Iowa, everyone but Dean was an also-run, and in particular Kerry was a desperate loser. A day after Iowa, Kerry was the frontrunner, who had surprised everyone by winning the caucuses.

    If that were the case, the Democrats in Congress would have a higher positive rating than their current dismal 27% (latest rasmussen poll).

    If that weren’t the case, Max Cleland would’ve still been in the Senate, since he wasn’t the one who attacked his opponent as a traitor.

    However, in cases of rape, incest (not covered by the SD law), and mother’s life (which is), I think abortion should be legal, however much I dislike the idea.

    If there’s a view of abortion I think is more idiotic than complete criminalization (except possibly when the woman’s life is at risk), it’s yours. It doesn’t even pretend to care for fetal life; it concerns itself exclusively with punishing women for having sex.

  28. #28 Brainster
    February 27, 2006

    As somebody who grew up through the years of the 1960s and early 1970s, I remember the arguments on both sides of the issues you discuss here. Sex education was supposed to reduce teenage pregnancy rates; boy that one sure didn’t work out as planned. Abortion was supposed to reduce the number of babies being born out of wedlock; another much desired societal benefit that never materialized.

    Let me ask you, if you don’t think abortion is morally wrong, why do you hope that it “remains” rare? Is it that it’s a little wrong?

  29. #29 James
    February 27, 2006

    Let me ask you, if you don’t think abortion is morally wrong, why do you
    hope that it “remains” rare? Is it that it’s a little wrong?
     

    I’ll answer this one for myself even though it’s not specifically directed to
    me.

    Abortion isn’t a little wrong, it’s an invasive medical procedure that potentially puts a woman at risk, and one that is invariably tied to psychic distress on the part of the person having to undergo the procedure. There’s also a disappointment with the loss of a potential human being; no measure of objectification can remove the nascent humanity of what’s been stopped in its development, and there’s a legitimate sadness attendant to that.

    That said, however much I, or anyone else, may wish for this to be a rare procedure, the bottom line in my mind is that it has to be one that’s available to women
    given that it’s their body and therefore their decision regarding what’s done
    with it, and they are faced with a choice
    that they ultimately have to live with, more often than not with little to no
    substantive help from our society as a whole (another huge disappointment) – it’s theirs to deal with, theirs one way or another to live with, and therefore all options should be available to them to make what they believe to be is the right decision regarding how this part of their life is dealt with.

    Is war something we regret and hope remains rare? Yes, though it’s
    unfortunately a necessary recourse for nations for what are perfectly moral
    reasons. Abortion is little different.

  30. #30 Alon Levy
    February 28, 2006

    Sex education was supposed to reduce teenage pregnancy rates; boy that one sure didn’t work out as planned.

    So the statistics that show that American teenage pregnancy rates plummeted in the 60s, remained constant in the 70s, increased in the 80s, and then plummeted again in the 90s are liberal propaganda. I see.

    Abortion was supposed to reduce the number of babies being born out of wedlock; another much desired societal benefit that never materialized.

    It did reduce the number of unwanted babies, which 18 years later caused American crime rates to tank.

  31. #31 Mahndisa
    February 28, 2006

    02 28 06

    Hello:
    I found this link from another blogger’s site. I have had this conversation countless times. I am just wondering why you were so rude to Lone Pony? And I hope someone can explain the term”potential human being”. I still don’t get it. I always figured you either are human or not, but not some mixed state of human and not human. And if there are no mixed states, well abortion kills real live humans. I don’t think the potential human being expression really makes sense at all.

  32. #32 Alon Levy
    February 28, 2006

    I am just wondering why you were so rude to Lone Pony?

    Because he spouted crap.

    I still don’t get it. I always figured you either are human or not, but not some mixed state of human and not human.

    You figured wrong. There’s the biological definition of “human,” which includes even zygotes. Then there’s the neurological definition, which emphasizes cognitive abilities, such as rudimentary self-awareness, or the ability to feel pain (which fetuses only start acquiring at week 31 and finish right after birth).

    The biological definition is completely worthless from a moral point of view, because it does not properly distinguish humans from other life forms. The neurological definition is the one that works; and it has a gray area beginning a few weeks before birth, and ending a few weeks after. The point of birth is the most logical place to place a boundary, since after birth there’s no longer a pregnant woman to worry about the interests of.

  33. #33 mahndisa
    February 28, 2006

    02 28 06

    Alon that isn’t very nice. Just because you disagree with Lone Pony doesn’t mean that what she had to say is invalid. Similarly, the whole fetal pain study was never conducted on humans, as it would have led to unethical research. When I checked it out I saw it was a meta analysis of other articles related to that topic. I don’t tend to trust meta analysis too much because they can easily be skewed by the politics of the day, and the by the choices in comparable research literature that the authors are using. Also, you are arguing semantics. When the courts convict someone based upon DNA evidence, they can tell whether it is human DNA or dog DNA etc. There is no test, however, for the DNA of a potential human being. In that sense either one is human or not human. And I think when you bring cognitive functioning into your definition, you easily can run down the slippery slope of valuing someone based upon those parameters. There are many people who are old and/or mentally disabled who arguably might not be self aware, so I have never felt comfortable using mental capacity as a rubric for deciding one’s humanity or not.

  34. #34 Alon Levy
    February 28, 2006

    Just because you disagree with Lone Pony doesn’t mean that what she had to say is invalid.

    No, it doesn’t; her (I thought it was his…) citation of complete hogwash as fact does. I disagree with you and still think you make valid points that need to be addressed; it’s just that you make your points with intelligence.

    Similarly, the whole fetal pain study was never conducted on humans, as it would have led to unethical research.

    The study checked fetuses’ brain complexity, in particular their number of synapses. There’s a minimum synapse count for feeling pain, which only develops at week 31; and further neurological evidence suggests that this and other measures of self-awareness only become fully developed a few weeks after birth.

    When the courts convict someone based upon DNA evidence, they can tell whether it is human DNA or dog DNA etc. There is no test, however, for the DNA of a potential human being. In that sense either one is human or not human.

    So? I’m not talking about forensic evidence, but about personhood.

    And I think when you bring cognitive functioning into your definition, you easily can run down the slippery slope of valuing someone based upon those parameters.

    In theory, you can. In practice, killing off mentally disabled people has historically been correlated with opposition to rather than support of legal abortion.

    There are many people who are old and/or mentally disabled who arguably might not be self aware, so I have never felt comfortable using mental capacity as a rubric for deciding one’s humanity or not.

    Actually, they are self-aware, except in cases where the brain was more or less destroyed (e.g. Terry Schiavo’s).

  35. #35 James
    February 28, 2006

    I have a hard time with Alon Levy’s logic regarding
    “potential human being”. There is no definitive measurement that I’m aware of for personhood or a scale of cognitive awareness that confers personhood; what we’d be measuring and what it would mean has not been defined simply because we don’t understand enough about how our brains work.

    I agree with his statement that we confer “personhood” at the point of birth. Getting away from the biological mumbo jumbo, you can’t serve as a tax break, get a passport, own anything, or do anything else which our society confers “personhood” on until such time as you’re born. People may have feelings othewise, as clearly does Mahndisa, and that’s all good and well but not quite relevant unless they decide to change the law and good luck with that.

    Once you’ve been conferred “personhood” regardless of your age, mental capacity, or anything else, you’re protected by the law as a human being. That’s why a fetus, which is not viable outside its mother until its come to term and, therefore is secondary to considerations of the mother, is not a person. This gets somewhat complicated with our increasing abilities to sustain preemies, but then my supposition would be that a mother’s right to determine what’s extracted from her and how, would trump consideration of a fetus’ “rights”, of which given it’s lack of personhood there are essentially none that I’m aware of.

  36. #36 mahndisa
    February 28, 2006

    02 28 06

    Hello again:
    Alon, have you read the fetal pain study? It was not conducted on human beings at all. It was a META Analysis, which means that it synthesized data from many other sources, performed an analysis and Viola! A so called study was born. I think meta analyses automatically inherent the biases of their authors. Hereis a criticism (valid imho) that speaks to some of the methodological flaws in that study.

    And if you consider the source to be biased and cannot see the truth in their words, I direct you to the actual study here. Here are some quotes from the article you might enjoy:

    “Systematic search of PubMed for English-language articles focusing on human studies related to fetal pain, anesthesia, and analgesia. Included articles studied fetuses of less than 30 weeks’ gestational age or specifically addressed fetal pain perception or nociception. Articles were reviewed for additional references. The search was performed without date limitations and was current as of June 6, 2005.”
    META ANALYSIS EVIDENCE ABOVE.

    Conclusions “Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester. Little or no evidence addresses the effectiveness of direct fetal anesthetic or analgesic techniques. Similarly, limited or no data exist on the safety of such techniques for pregnant women in the context of abortion…”
    NO CLEAR CUT ANSWER!
    Their conclusions weren’t clear cut by any stretch and the conclusion tells me that more information is needed. Furthermore, the obvious politics behind the topic is clear in the Context section of the article.

  37. #37 mahndisa
    February 28, 2006

    02 28 06

    Hello again:
    Alon, have you read the fetal pain study? It was not conducted on human beings at all. It was a META Analysis, which means that it synthesized data from many other sources, performed an analysis and Viola! A so called study was born. I think meta analyses automatically inherent the biases of their authors. Hereis a criticism (valid imho) that speaks to some of the methodological flaws in that study.

    And if you consider the source to be biased and cannot see the truth in their words, I direct you to the actual study here. Here are some quotes from the article you might enjoy:

    “Systematic search of PubMed for English-language articles focusing on human studies related to fetal pain, anesthesia, and analgesia. Included articles studied fetuses of less than 30 weeks gestational age or specifically addressed fetal pain perception or nociception. Articles were reviewed for additional references. The search was performed without date limitations and was current as of June 6, 2005.”
    META ANALYSIS EVIDENCE ABOVE.

    Conclusions “Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester. Little or no evidence addresses the effectiveness of direct fetal anesthetic or analgesic techniques. Similarly, limited or no data exist on the safety of such techniques for pregnant women in the context of abortion…”
    NO CLEAR CUT ANSWER!
    Their conclusions weren’t clear cut by any stretch and the conclusion tells me that more information is needed. Furthermore, the obvious politics behind the topic is clear in the Context section of the article.

  38. #38 Alon Levy
    March 1, 2006

    That’s not the study I’m talking about. I’m talking about something else: a look at the minimal synapse count needed to feel pain. Incidentally, the rebuttal you link to pretty much destroys its own credibility by comparing itself to studies about tobacco. Studies released by tobacco companies are countered by medical experts, including many who have no involvement with any anti-smoking movement. In contrast, your link provides no reference to impartial refutations, only a polemic-ridden attack on a published medical study.

  39. #39 Matthew
    May 16, 2006

    This is a difficult issue. I agree that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare”. In most western countries, it is safe and legal, but way too common.

    Someone said that a baby one day before birth is not considered a legal entity by the IRS, so it’s ok to kill it. The next day, once it’s born, it’s not ok to kill it.

    It’s no surprise that the IRS would be heartless, but disgusting to put human life on the same scales as a tax return.

    I WANT TO POINT OUT SOME CONTRASTS THAT MAY MAKE THE MORAL ISSUE CLEARER.

    In some countries it is customary to “look the other way” when newborn babies are killed, usually because they are girls and the family wanted a boy. This is labelled infanticide, and considered barbaric, but we are hypocrites to judge. Our considering that an unborn baby has no legal rights is just as barbaric (see next example).

    Another example … a man deliberately punched an eight months pregnant woman in the stomach and caused her baby to miscarry. There was no medical doubt that the unborn baby died due to the assault. There was an attempt to charge the man with manslaughter, but the judge dismissed the charge on the grounds the the unborn baby was “not a legal entity”. The villain got off on the much lighter charge of common assault.

    There is no scientific reason to consider the baby a non-person before they are born, and a person afterwards. It is essentially a matter of culture, custom and legal convenience. The BIG ISSUE is where to draw the line. The killing of newborn babies is clearly barbaric, but looking at the assault example above, it’s only our customs and culture that considers it less barbaric to kill a baby in the eighth month of pregnancy.

    The rights of the mother, particularly where her physical and psychological health is at risk, must certainly be kept in mind, but if the unborn baby has no rights at all, then we are clearly barbarians.