Pharyngula

Monday morning, PST: time for some science with a side of controversy, Danio-style

There’s a Department of Health and Human Services document circulating that’s got the pro-choice lobby up in arms. Afarensis and The Questionable Authority weighed in on the sociopolitical impact of such a policy last week, but in addition to the significant threat to reproductive rights that it presents, this proposal is yet another example of the complete lack of scientific expertise informing decisions about public health.
At issue is the determination of a time point that marks the beginning of pregnancy. The consensus of the medical community is that an established pregnancy occurs at the point when the blastocyst successfully implants into the uterine wall. This time point makes a lot of sense in considering early events in the reproductive process. Pre-implantation embryos have a vast distance to travel, complex chemical cues to navigate, and a ticking biological clock to contend with within the bounds of the female reproductive cycle. Roughly 40% of all embryos don’t survive the ordeal. These odds are one good reason to hold off on crying ‘pregnant’ until a successful implantation is achieved; another is that implantation signifies the beginning of the physiological impact of a pregnancy on a woman’s body. Developmental events prior to implantation have essentially no impact on maternal tissues, which are just marking time until the beginning of the next menstrual cycle. The massive signaling between embryonic and uterine tissues that occur during implantation, the establishment of maternal and embryonic connections and boundaries, delineating the difference between ‘self’ and ‘not self’, are all medically relevant occurrences in terms of the physiology of the female patient, hence the general accord within the medical community in marking this time point, and none before it, as the point at which a pregnancy is established.

Naturally, the ‘life begins at conception’ crowd takes issue with this definition. The DHHS document echoes the concerns of the religious right in a proposal that seeks to give citizens the power to decide for themselves when a pregnancy begins, and act accordingly in exercising their religious freedom. The document details numerous preexisting ‘conscience provisions’ designed to protect the rights, and the federal funding, of institutions or individual health care workers who decline to perform any service they deem morally objectionable or contrary to their particular belief system. These are the grounds upon which it has been acceptable for ambulance drivers to refuse to transport women to clinics where abortions will be performed, for emergency room staff to fail to offer or administer emergency contraception after a rape, and for pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for oral contraceptives. Pro-choice advocates and proponents of church-state separation alike have been outraged by these faith-driven attacks on reproductive choice, but the authors of the document in question bemoan the ‘intolerance’ conveyed in any expression of these sentiments. They contend that such conscientious objectors are well within their rights to refuse such treatment if it conflicts with their religious views, and use this concern as a platform to expand the degree to which they may do so.

Federal endorsement of the opinion that life begins at ‘conception’ (in reality, as we know, the matter is not so easily settled) is a grim development, not only because of what it could mean for abortion rights, but because of how some forms of contraception are reputed to function. Although the indisputable primary effect of oral contraceptives, including EC, is to inhibit ovulation, it has been widely accepted that a secondary mechanism by which these treatments prevent pregnancy is through changes to the uterine lining that decrease the likelihood of successful implantation. Further, interference with the implantation process has long been thought to be the principle mechanism by which IUDs prevent pregnancy. It is thus not surprising that those who believe a pre-implantation embryo is a fully-vested human life consider the above mechanisms forms of abortion, and health-care workers holding this view would, under this new policy, be acting within their rights to freely hold and express their religious beliefs when denying these treatments to patients. The kicker, though, is that there are precious few studies investigating the hypothesized implantation-blocking properties of either oral contraceptives or IUDs, and the few published data that are available do not support these claims.

Previous studies of Levonorgestrel have concluded that, while ovulation is effectively suppressed if administered in a timely manner , it appears to have a negligible effect on post-ovulatory events. A 2007 review of multiple studies investigating the presence of viable gametes and pre-implantation embroys in IUD users concluded that the inflammatory response resulting from the presence of an IUD, as well as the actions of synthetic hormones released from the device, have significant effects on the reproductive process prior to fertilization.

Interestingly, many of the studies investigating these contraceptive mechanisms have taken place in Chile, a conservative country where all abortions–even therapeutic ones–are illegal. It is troubling to think that increasing restrictions on reproductive rights could necessitate similar studies by researchers in the US. It is more troubling still to realize that, given the diminishing currency of science in this country, even the most conclusive and rigorous studies may not affect policy changes if they do not align with popular opinion.

Comments

  1. #1 rjb
    August 11, 2008

    From a purely medical point of view, we should use the mirror image of the definitions of human life that we use to demonstrate death. When a person is technically brain-dead, they no longer have any more rights of self-determination, etc. So why not use it on the other end of the life spectrum as well? Personally, I feel that until the fetus is living completely separately from his/her mother, then the decision relies completely on the mother. But the brain activity point would probably be a good starting point, and would push all discussions of abortion at least until the late second trimester. This seems to me to be the best argument that is able to convince the vast majority of people on different sides of the argument.

  2. #2 Barklikeadog
    August 11, 2008

    It is more troubling still to realize that, given the diminishing currency of science in this country, even the most conclusive and rigorous studies may not affect policy changes if they do not align with popular opinion.

    Why should they change what they think & do? Public opinion is always right! Right?

  3. #3 carr2d2
    August 11, 2008

    i don’t get how it’s ok to protect the rights of medical workers not to violate their particular ethical systems, while completely ignoring the rights of the rape victim (or woman otherwise facing unwanted pregnancy) to obtain whatever treatment she feels is necessary and warranted in her ethical system.

    this type of legislation is a recipe for disaster.

  4. #4 Schmeer
    August 11, 2008

    rjb,
    In many cases
    “until the fetus is living completely separately from his/her mother”
    would mean roughly 18-22 years. ;)

  5. #5 True Bob
    August 11, 2008

    This is not limited to over the counter remedies or ER care. This also applies to pharmacists refusing to provide Plan B, without providing alternative sources. Essentially, telling the woman, TS, your doctor’s scrip is no good here.

    Any pharmacist should only be caring about proper filling of scrips and ensuring that interactions are minimized (or at least the patient is informed). Anything else is a violation of the implied contract. Well, except for boner pills.

  6. #6 Alex
    August 11, 2008

    While he does irritate me on occasion, Slate‘s William Saletan had a great response to the (il)logic of this legislation: The pro-life case against birth control, nursing, and excersise.

  7. #7 Keanus
    August 11, 2008

    It’s not even a question of public opinion. Those who advocate the views espoused by the Bush administration do not constitute a majority of the public. It’s a view accepted by a minority and an ignorant one at that. These are the same people who promote the fiction that abortion causes breast cancer and mental instability in women undergoing it, without a shred of clinical data to support either claim. The document issued by the Department of Health and Human Services is nothing less than an effort to install a religious belief as a clinically based directive. That’s unconstitutional, unethical, immoral and in the long term untenable.

  8. #8 Charlie Matthis
    August 11, 2008

    What if power plant workers refused to turn on power on the sabbath…What if Homer Simpson was Jewish and he let the plant blow up because he refused to work? If you don’t want to do something, get a different job.

  9. #9 True Bob
    August 11, 2008

    Alex, it isn’t legislation, it’s an interpretation of enforcement within HHS. As per usual, no other branches of government were involved in this evildoing.

  10. #10 Armchair Dissident
    August 11, 2008

    What I always find annoying about these “religious objection” cases, is how little religious conviction these people seem to have. Let’s say that you have a job as a pharmacist: if you have a “religious objection” to providing contraception, then – surely – the only correct “religious conviction” response would be to find another job. Enforcing ones convictions on other people is not showing any form of conviction whatsoever: it’s nothing but moral cowardice.

    If the religious don’t want to sell alcohol, then they should have the courage of their convictions, and not work in an off-license. If they don’t want to sell contraceptives, then they should damned well actually have the courage of their convictions and quit their damned jobs: that’s showing that they have convictions.

    And calling these religious nutters, “conscientious objectors” is just stupid. Nobody is requiring them, by law, to be pharmacists, ambulance drivers or anything else. I’m sure there’s plenty of work in the churches they could do. They’re moral cowards. Nothing more, nothing less.

  11. #11 Zeno
    August 11, 2008

    This is part and parcel of the “pro-life” movement, especially the Catholic cohort of it. My parents routinely receive pro-life exhortations inserted in the church bulletins they receive at Sunday mass and no real distinction is drawn between abortion and contraception. Both are castigated as “anti-life.” While some in the anti-abortion movement might be happy if abortion were prohibited by law, many won’t rest until birth control drugs are also outlawed.

    After all, who are you to decide whether or not you should have eleven children? That’s God’s decision!

  12. #12 Zombie
    August 11, 2008

    If somebody objects to providing health care, they should express that objection by not being a health care provider.

  13. #13 mayhempix
    August 11, 2008

    -“They contend that such conscientious objectors are well within their rights to refuse such treatment if it conflicts with their religious views, and use this concern as a platform to expand the degree to which they may do so.”-

    I have no problem with them refusing to proceed based on personal beliefs…

    They should just be required to relinquish their license/employment to dispense medical and pharmaceutical services or manage government (read: public) funds and then they will no longer be exposed to such personal moral dilemmas.

  14. #14 cubefarmed
    August 11, 2008

    @carr2d2

    My cynicism knows no bounds, honestly. The reason why someone’s precious woo-woo rights are so much more important then a rape victim (or woman in an unwanted pregnancy) is because obviously any woman who finds herself with an unwanted or traumatic pregnancy is just a stupid slut for opening her legs in the first place and she deserves whatever she gets afterwards – including an unwanted child. Rape is a conveniently forgotten trauma for the kind of anti-choice patriarchal morons who support this type of legislation. I don’t buy the ‘sanctity of human life’ argument at all. If that were the case, the U.S. wouldn’t be causing ‘collateral damage’ in the form of lost innocent lives in Iraq.

    And when you give women full control over their reproductive organs, it gives patriarchal religions and government’s less ability to keep women unequal and under their thumb.

    For an interesting read that really helps highlight where this kind of thinking comes from, I reccomend the book ‘When God Was a Woman’ by Merlin Stone. It’s about the change from pagan and women-centered religion to the patriarchal Abrahamic religions. Fascinating from a sociological and/or anthropological viewpoint.

  15. #15 CL
    August 11, 2008

    @ #6

    Alex,

    Thanks for the link…great article, everybody should take a look.

  16. #16 Carlie
    August 11, 2008

    They can take my Mirena away when they pry it out of my cold, dead uterus.

    Sadly, the evidence is that a lot of them are perfectly willing to make that the case in order to do so.

  17. #17 grolby
    August 11, 2008

    It is thus not surprising that those who believe a pre-implantation embryo is a fully-vested human life consider the above mechanisms forms of abortion, and health-care workers holding this view would, under this new policy, be acting within their rights to freely hold and express their religious beliefs when denying these treatments to patients.

    I disagree with this interpretation. The right of the patient to receive legal and essential health care (birth control is legal and essential) trumps the right of the health care employee to “express” his or her freedom of religion by refusing said care. The provider is under contract to provide that care. If an employee denies treatment, they are not only breaking their contract and not only not doing their jobs, they are also unconstitutionally denying the patient their rights to freedom of religion. After all, what is allowing health care workers to deny treatment to patients based on personal beliefs, but the state endorsing the notion that the provider’s beliefs are more important (and more “real,” apparently) than the patient’s? That’s NOT how health care is supposed to work. That interpretation is ass-backwards. A patient having their rights infringed upon may have no recourse. The health care worker DOES: work a different damn job. A patient’s right to expect competent, complete health care trumps a health care worker’s right to keep a particular job.

    I know we’re on the same side, but I really think that the facts of conception and implantation are irrelevant to the interpretation of rights. “Life begins at conception,” is just code for ensoulment anyway. It’s a strictly religious belief, and the practice of medicine has no obligation to give any time to such nonsense. It interferes with practicing the best medicine possible.

  18. #18 Kseniya
    August 11, 2008

    The stupidity index continues to go through the roof. I can barely stand to read the news anymore.

    How fucking moronic do you have to be to NOT see the negative impact of unchecked procreation? Fucking lemmings.

  19. #19 raven
    August 11, 2008

    There is an enormous amount of pure hypocracy and dishonesty among the christofascist wingnuts trying to outlaw contraception.

    With mordern medicine and food readily available, any woman should be able to have 10 to 20 children. We are adapted to an environment where childbirth was once often fatal, half the kids died before 5, and living to 35 was rare.

    So if you look at the family sizes of humanoid toads like Robertson (4), Dobson (2), Bush (2), Cheney (2?) and so on, it is obvious that they are using some form of family planning. They aren’t walking their talk and treating their wives like walking incubators.

    Nowadays, most intelligent responsible people think small families are normal. There is no shortage of people and no point in having a herd of kids that one cannot support in the expensive style we are used to.

    The majority of the US people are quite willing to tell the wingnuts that their family size is their own damn business and they should just stay out of their medicine cabinet and get the hell lost.

  20. #20 Kristin
    August 11, 2008

    Shakesville links today to an article in “The Colorado Independent” about the idiot who’s sponsoring the amendment to declare that all fertilized eggs have full constitutional rights, same as if they were actual people. One of the sad parts in the story (there are many) is that the sponsor is a physician, and has formed some advocacy group that other crazy physicians can join, where they can all get together and express their ignorance and hatred of women. It’s absolutely sickening that this guy, who has been educated as a doctor and therefore should know better, it promoting this scientifcally invalid a/k/a BS claim.

  21. #21 True Bob
    August 11, 2008

    This is easily extended to other beliefs – like I think you’re too fat, so no, you may not buy those chips. Provide the service or get the hell out of the way.

  22. #22 Evolving Squid
    August 11, 2008

    Here’s the thing that’s always bothered me on this topic with respect to pharmacists:

    There are pharmacists who say that their pro-life religious convictions prevent them from selling birth control/Plan B/etc. because killing a baby is immoral.

    And those same pharmacists sell cigarettes at their front counter… products that kill, quite literally and indisputably, 50% of their customers who purchase them.

    I guess it’s all in the timing. Didn’t Jeebus say that hypocrites go to a special place?

  23. #23 IceFarmer
    August 11, 2008

    Did anyone else watch God’s Warriors on CNN last night? Normally, CNN is a mishmash of junk and BS with the occasional tidbit of good news. They touched on the legal issues surrounding abortion and the stacking of the Supreme court among other things. I was wondering if anyone else had seen the show?

    I didn’t catch all of it but much of it was very interesting. Both good and bad. It completely affirms that Jerry Falwell was a total douche and completely nuts at the same time which was nice to see. The segement with Jimmy Carter about the Baptist congress was quite interesting. They showcases some pretty good wingnuttery and douchebaggery throughout. I worry for you, my friends south of the border. Their lobby and voting power is increasing far too fast. Within 20 years it will no longer be the U.S. of A. it will be the Unidded Jesusland of Amerikuh if you aren’t careful.

  24. #24 IceFarmer
    August 11, 2008

    Did anyone else watch God’s Warriors on CNN last night? Normally, CNN is a mishmash of junk and BS with the occasional tidbit of good news. They touched on the legal issues surrounding abortion and the stacking of the Supreme court among other things. I was wondering if anyone else had seen the show?

    I didn’t catch all of it but much of it was very interesting. Both good and bad. It completely affirms that Jerry Falwell was a total douche and completely nuts at the same time which was nice to see. The segement with Jimmy Carter about the Baptist congress was quite interesting. They showcases some pretty good wingnuttery and douchebaggery throughout. I worry for you, my friends south of the border. Their lobby and voting power is increasing far too fast. Within 20 years it will no longer be the U.S. of A. it will be the Unidded Jesusland of Amerikuh if you aren’t careful.

  25. #25 Evolving Squid
    August 11, 2008

    @23
    Within 20 years it will no longer be the U.S. of A. it will be the Unidded Jesusland of Amerikuh if you aren’t careful.

    I envision it more like this.

  26. #26 Nick Gardner
    August 11, 2008

    After all, who are you to decide whether or not you should have eleven children? That’s God’s decision!

    You pretty much summed up my grandmother’s position on the subject, and she’s not even Catholic!

  27. #27 raven
    August 11, 2008

    There are pharmacists who say that their pro-life religious convictions prevent them from selling birth control/Plan B/etc. because killing a baby is immoral.

    Most state laws say that is illegal. Pharmacists are licensed to provide an essential service, not licensed to practice medicine or push their religion. They just cancel their license and that is the end of it. Not surprisingly, this hasn’t been happening anymore.

    It is OK to be a Hindu who thinks cows are sacred. It is not OK for them to then get a job in a slaughterhouse and refuse to kill and cut up cattle.

  28. #28 H.H.
    August 11, 2008

    #10 Armchair Dissident, exactly right. Religious people have a right to refuse any medical treatment for themselves they deem morally objectionable. They do not have a right to withhold treatment from others which they find morally objectionable. Huge difference. But see, in fundy Christianity, it doesn’t matter what sort of person you are, but how many “sinners” you manage to harass. That’s the draw that makes it one of the fastest growing sects. It has none of that difficult self-examination/improvement nonsense with all focus being on how bad those “other people” are.

  29. #29 IceFarmer
    August 11, 2008

    Sorry for the duplicate posts, don’t know what happened there.

  30. #30 IceFarmer
    August 11, 2008

    @ Evolving Squid,

    Good call there. Read it. Very creepy. Uber disturbing.

  31. #31 oxytocin
    August 11, 2008

    I don’t know if anyone saw Bush on NBC last night, but there he was, during an Olympic broadcast, repeatedly bringing up the topic of religion in China. He attended a church service and insisted that the Chinese have nothing to fear from gentle xians, meek and mild. If Bush had his way, they would move from a totalitarian government to a celestial dictatorship. Bloody hell….

  32. #32 MicroZealous
    August 11, 2008

    Pandering to ignorance and hypocrisy brought the last eight years of Bush – so, scientifically, it must work. Blargh.
    For a bittersweet, lighter look, see the Onion story:
    “Christian Scientist Pharmacist refuses to fill any prescription.” /Snark.
    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/40096

  33. #33 mayhempix
    August 11, 2008

    - Posted by: raven | August 11, 2008 1:46 PM
    – “So if you look at the family sizes of humanoid toads like Robertson (4), Dobson (2), Bush (2), Cheney (2?) and so on, it is obvious that they are using some form of family planning. They aren’t walking their talk and treating their wives like walking incubators”-

    I would say it has a lot more to do with natural selection.
    Would you want to fuck any of the above… or one of the women who married them?

    ;^ )>

  34. #34 Faintpraise
    August 11, 2008

    I think I’m in agreement with most people here when I say- they should just do the job they’re paid for, and if they don’t like it they should get another one. We have a surprising amount of this attitude here in the UK- a case a couple of years ago in my own city where a woman tried to buy Emergency Contraception over the counter at a large pharmacist, only to be told that every single pharmacist on duty refused to sell her EC on religious grounds. Fortunately the woman was confident enough to go to the press regarding this, imagine how often this might happen to less confident, perhaps very young, women, who might just leave and possibly end up with an unwanted pregnancy as a result.

    The same applies to Magistrates who refuse to place children to be adopted by gay couples, and Registrars who refuse to perform Civil Partnership ceremonies- BOTH recent cases in the UK- it’s all an extension of the same kind of thinking…

  35. #35 raven
    August 11, 2008

    Their lobby and voting power is increasing far too fast. Within 20 years it will no longer be the U.S. of A. it will be the Unidded Jesusland of Amerikuh if you aren’t careful.

    Maybe. It isn’t uncommon for a country to turn into a bunch of lemmings and enthusiastically march off a cliff.

    Maybe not. There is now a backlash against the christofascists. They had power for 8 years and have nearly wrecked the country. Everyone is paying $4/gal. for gas, many people have lost health insurance and jobs, the dumb war, the dollar dropping, and on and on.

    Rumor has it that Dobson’s Focus on Destroying the USA has been losing members and donations.

  36. #36 Nerd of Redhead
    August 11, 2008

    What I find missing from all the talk of a pharmicists right to not fill a plan B prescription is the lack of responsibility for making the decision that affects the second person. In my dreamworld, the pharmacist who refused to fill a plan B would become potentially responsible for half the cost of raising the kid to 18 if the worst case happened. After a couple of successful lawsuits, I bet all plan B perscriptions would be filled without comment. The same goes for the anti-choice people who intimidate women by getting in their face when entering an abortion clinic. I would make it so the only way to avoid financial responsibility in such cases would be to stay on the far side of the road.

  37. #37 Bill Dauphin
    August 11, 2008

    [Bush] attended a church service and insisted that the Chinese have nothing to fear from gentle xians, meek and mild.

    Yah, that whole interview creeped me out. In addition to saying that the Chinese have nothing to fear from religion, he also claimed that once religion is established in a country, no government can stop it. I’m not sure the Chinese would agree that those to assertions are consistent with one another.

  38. #38 davery
    August 11, 2008

    #10 Armchair Dissident

    Great point, well said. I’ll use that next time I’m having this debate with someone.

  39. #39 SSiE
    August 11, 2008

    And I thought we had an idiotic Health Ministry here in South Africa… Just goes to show how the religious right in the developed world is at best equal to the most superstitious, even primitive convictions of the developing.

    And no, in case anyone thinks so, there was no racist overtone in that last sentence, only sadness at the lack of scientific education in places like rural Africa, made so much worse by tribal superstition and the remnants of several decades of Western Christian influence.

    At least here in South Africa we have a liberal constitution that guarantees women the right to choose, and enough state-run (and private) 24-hour abortion clinics that seem to operate successfully and without bother. This whole issue also points out another, more basic one: The developed world (like the US), can ‘afford to worry’ about issues like these, while the developing world just tries to survive. We have straightforward abortion and contraceptive laws, and they are more than likely to stay that way, since there are so many other, more pressing issues to spend government time and money on. We have our own occasional outbreaks of government woo and stupidity, but we can always look at what’s happening in the US and shake our heads in amused disbelief.

    All I can say is, use your rights and votes to fight this with everything you have – blurring the lines between contraception and abortion in this way can only pave the way for more death, hatred, bigotry and reduced civil liberty.

  40. #40 Evolving Squid
    August 11, 2008

    @34
    Contraception over the counter at a large pharmacist, only to be told that every single pharmacist on duty refused to sell her EC on religious grounds.

    This is only peripherally related, but some years ago, a server at a government cafeteria not only refused to sell me a sandwich with meat in it, but also lectured me on the evils of eating meat on Friday (except fish, the un-meat). I actually listened to this, being stunned into speechlessness. I literally could not believe my ears. After her rant, I immediately took the issue up with the supervisor on duty and got my sandwich made (in front of me, I wanted to ensure no saliva, etc.) I’m guessing she was of the Catholic flavour of lunatic.

    Unfuckingbelievable. I filed a formal complaint, and got a form letter apology from the company. Whoop-de-do. In retrospect, I should probably have sued for discrimination and the embarrassment of being dressed down in public by a sandwich lady. In any case, I was younger and less jaded then than I am now and I didn’t want any more fuss.

    Really, if meat on Friday is evil, maybe you shouldn’t be working the lunch shift at a cafeteria in a government building.

  41. #41 Nausicaa
    August 11, 2008

    I don’t see how it’s at all acceptable for physicians or pharmicists to refuse service in the way described. Would it be similarily okay for a police officer to refuse serving no-knock warrents for drug crimes because the officer morally objects to a practice that has resulted in the destruction of hundreds of innocent lives? Is it okay for a Muslim fire fighter to refuse to enter a burning church because they have a religious objection? How about accountants who disagree with GAAP?

    I think it’s safe to say that the only reason this is allowed is because the objections to abortion are principally rooted in Christianity – and by golly, these beliefs deserve respect!

  42. #42 Danio
    August 11, 2008

    #10 Armchair Dissident
    Great point, well said. I’ll use that next time I’m having this debate with someone.

    It is a good point, but it is the point that the DHHS document was specifically drafted to counter. It cites numerous examples of the backlash against practitioners who refuse to dispense/treat and concludes that they are in conflict with the existing laws:

    The foregoing examples appear to indicate an increasingly pervasive attitude toward the health care professions–namely, that health care personnel and institutions should be required to violate their consciences by providing or assisting in the provision of controversial medicine or procedures, or else face being blacklisted, excluded from practice, terminated from their jobs, or otherwise subjected to discrimination. In general, the Department is concerned that the development of an environment in the health care industry that is intolerant of certain religious beliefs, ethnic and cultural traditions, and moral convictions may discourage individuals from underrepresented and diverse backgrounds from entering health care professions. Additionally, religious and faith-based organizations have a long tradition of providing medical care in the United States, and continue to do so today. A trend that isolates and excludes some among various religious, cultural, and ethnic groups from participating in the health care industry is especially troublesome when considering current and anticipated shortages of health care professionals in many medical disciplines facing the country. More importantly, the various branches of the federal government have considered these issues and have repeatedly reached the same resolution. This is true in the executive agencies, the federal courts, and in Congress, as described above. Individuals and entities are free to hold and express an attitude that is intolerant of others’ beliefs that they should refrain from certain practices based on their religious beliefs or moral convictions. A violation of federal law occurs, however, when individuals and entities, while at the same time receiving certain federal funds, express this attitude in actions that discriminate against others. The examples above and others demonstrate the need for the Department to educate the public and the health care industry on long-standing federal conscience and other protections and to take steps to better ensure the enforcement of these protections.

  43. #43 Armchair Dissident
    August 11, 2008

    The same applies to Magistrates who refuse to place children to be adopted by gay couples, and Registrars who refuse to perform Civil Partnership ceremonies- BOTH recent cases in the UK- it’s all an extension of the same kind of thinking..

    Oh, FSM. Don’t even start me on that one. I covered that last month (I will never understand how the tribunal found in her favour – she broke the law!); but that particular case really highlighted just how out of kilter the current thinking is: she’s a bigot. She doesn’t want to officiate in gay weddings, because she’s a bigot. But because she’s “religious” that’s okay. No it bloody well isn’t. She’s a bigot. She – like so many virulent homophobic organisations – are just using the word “religious” as a cover.

    And look at how select the issues covering “religious freedom” tend to rotate around:

    * Churches not appointing women priests – and thus not accepting that women are equal citizens.
    * Churches not accepting gay people – and thus not accepting that gay people are equal citizens.
    * Churches not permitting contraception or abortion – thus implicitly stating that women are subject to male authority.

    It’s completely retarded. They’d be shoved out the door with a fiery poker if they started interfering in laws designed to protect ethnic minorities from discrimination — and rightly so. Yet when they start posturing about women, or gay people, they’re treated seriously. It says a lot about how little has actually happened to equality in both the UK and the US that this is so.

  44. #44 Nausicaa
    August 11, 2008

    I forgot to include my point in the post above. Point is, if you can’t handle the required duties of your chosen profession, it’s time to pick a new profession.

  45. #45 Bill Dauphin
    August 11, 2008

    And I thought we had an idiotic Health Ministry here in South Africa…

    Not a direct response, but your mention of a national health ministry sparked in me this quixotic thought: If we had a national health service here, the whole “conscientious objector” thing would be a non-issue, because it would clearly be unconstitutional — a violation of the patient’s 1st Amendment rights — for a government employee to deny care based on any sort of religious test. It’s only because healthcare providers are private individuals that they can muddy the issue by attempting to assert an affirmative 1st Amendment right to deny care.

    Reason #4,765 why we need national healthcare!

  46. #46 Evolving Squid
    August 11, 2008

    @43
    She doesn’t want to officiate in gay weddings, because she’s a bigot.

    That’s why the state should have no part in weddings at all. None. Zero.

    Weddings should be whatever ceremony n-number of people wish to have to declare their devotion to each other.

    Partnerships for raising children, division of assets, etc. should be treated as something like corporations, IMO, without all the wedding-related douchebaggery.

  47. #47 Rarus.vir
    August 11, 2008

    It seems we are once again being held hostage by token respect for peoples retarded religious views. Religion, prejudice, sexuality, and political opinions need to be checked at the door of the place of employment.
    We will fight, tooth and nail, until everyone sees the utter stupidity that forms the foundation for religious reproductive rights.
    Life doesn’t begin at conception; it began, arguably, 4 billion years ago.

    Comment #1
    From a purely medical point of view, we should use the mirror image of the definitions of human life that we use to demonstrate death. When a person is technically brain-dead, they no longer have any more rights of self-determination, etc. So why not use it on the other end of the life spectrum as well? Personally, I feel that until the fetus is living completely separately from his/her mother, then the decision relies completely on the mother. But the brain activity point would probably be a good starting point, and would push all discussions of abortion at least until the late second trimester. This seems to me to be the best argument that is able to convince the vast majority of people on different sides of the argument.

    I don’t think standards for death could be used for the beginning of life at all. From zygote to infant and sometimes beyond, there is negligible intelligence, but potential for growth.

    The thing is, no one approves of abortion, it’s a terrible thing, but letting it go for religious purposes is ludicrous, there are so many other fine reasons to NOT do something.

    Personally I don’t have any issue with any kind of abortion, mainly because I am a man, and I won’t ever have to deal with it. If I were a woman, then it would be MY decision, not some religious wing nut.
    Religion Poisons Everything.

  48. #48 Rick R
    August 11, 2008

    Danio quoted- “In general, the Department is concerned that the development of an environment in the health care industry that is intolerant of certain religious beliefs, ethnic and cultural traditions, and moral convictions may discourage individuals from underrepresented and diverse backgrounds from entering health care professions.”

    Yeah, because xians are such a helpless minority and need federal protection from the big bad persecuters. Just like the stripper who gets Jesus in a big way and decides lap-dancing for strange men for money is a sin, and should be allowed to retain her job and read out of the babble instead.

    What part of “get another job” don’t these idiots understand?

  49. #49 defectiverobot
    August 11, 2008

    @Zeno (#11)

    After all, who are you to decide whether or not you should have eleven children? That’s God’s decision!

    And that’s what disturbed me most about that woman who was pregnant with 7 children (can’t remember her name and don’t care to look it up) and rejected Doctor’s recommendations to abort some of them for the safety of the others. Her response was something along the lines of “whatever happens will be God’s will.” Hmmm. God’s will. Where was God when you needed the fertility drugs to get pregnant in the first place? Are you telling me that it wasn’t God’s will to NOT make you pregnant in the first place?

    Science is always good when it works in your favor, kinda like God.

  50. #50 Armchair Dissident
    August 11, 2008

    EvolvingSquid:

    That’s why the state should have no part in weddings at all. None. Zero.

    It’s slightly different now in the UK: if a service is offered to the public – irrespective as to whether it is a state-run or private organisation – then it is illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of their sexual orientation. So even if the state wasn’t involved in weddings, she would still have been breaking the law. Interestingly, in this case, the law was passed specifically without a religious opt-out, much to the disgust of the catholic church, and despite their vehement protestations, which makes her tribunal outcome even more peculiar.

  51. #51 raven
    August 11, 2008

    “In general, the Department is concerned that the development of an environment in the health care industry that is intolerant of certain religious beliefs, ethnic and cultural traditions, and moral convictions may discourage individuals from underrepresented and diverse backgrounds from entering health care professions.

    You will note that they didn’t mention which underrepresented and diverse backgrounds are excluded from the health care industry. That is because there aren’t any.

    What is excluded are people who think being a doc or pharmacist allows them to tell other people what to do. It doesn’t.

    I suppose New Age alternative medicine people, Xian scientists, and faith healers are excluded. But so what? They can still do whatever it is they do, although they probably can’t collect from insurance or medicare.

  52. #52 Rick R
    August 11, 2008

    I agree completely with #10 above who stated that this is nothing less than moral cowardice.
    I have religious objections to some of my job duties. Both my religion and my career path were choices I freely made. But I don’t have the courage of my convictions to quit my job and find another avenue I could find morally acceptable.
    So I need to push others to live in such a way that my freely chosen moral sensibilities aren’t offended.

    Fucking cowardly wankers.

  53. #53 Danio
    August 11, 2008

    I suppose New Age alternative medicine people, Xian scientists, and faith healers are excluded. But so what? They can still do whatever it is they do, although they probably can’t collect from insurance or medicare

    Actually in a lot of places they can. My state employees union-sponsored health insurance (family coverage to the tune of $1000/month) pays out for acupuncture, naturopathy, and chiropractic, and several practitioners in each group are even ‘in network’ providers. Urggghhhhh.

  54. #54 BlueIndependent
    August 11, 2008

    “What part of “get another job” don’t these idiots understand?”

    But I think it’s deeper than that. They (some anyhow) look at going into Pharmacology to one day be able to have the chance to deny a “baby-killing” woman from stopping a pregnancy. Like the self-annointed tools that go into Biology degree programs expressly for the purpose of getting a PhD so they can go out into public and try tearing evolution and science down, these people see themselves as being on a mission. They consider themselves warriors for, in the US’s case, Christ. And they’ll do what they can to infiltrate and take over whatever organizations they can (the government being the biggest example) to push their ahistorical, ascientific, immoral garbage because if they don’t they just know they’re going to be turning on a stick in hell.

    Others see it as a power trip, an opportunity to grab authority they shouldn’t otherwise have, to run other peoples’ lives. And religion just makes it that much easier.

  55. #55 Lee Picton
    August 11, 2008

    Isn’t it interesting that no trolls have shown up to present “arguments” for the other side, knowing that they don’t have any?
    Don’t assume that only single, or somehow compromised women are the ones having abortions. In the early years of legal abortion in the USA, at any rate, the majority of abortions were done on married women, who either felt they had enough children already, or the spacing was detrimental to the mother’s family plans. In spite of practicing birth control with an IUD, I became pregnant when my son was six months old. Being of fragile health, and knowing that there was no way I could be a good mother to two infants simultaneously, I elected to terminate. I neither regretted this decision nor felt remorse over it. What the christofascists are trying to do is an abomination; however, I like to think that people of reason have been pushed all they can stand, and are now pushing back – hard. Remember the Japanese general who mused after the Pearl Harbor attack that he feared all that had been done was to awaken a sleeping giant?

  56. #56 bric
    August 11, 2008

    Four words: Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus

  57. #57 redgirl
    August 11, 2008

    To start off, this DRAFT regulation alarms me. It shows how deep the fundies have burrowed into HHS. But, on the other hand, this is a DRAFT. Which means that it hasn’t even been published yet in the Federal Register. Which means, EVERYONE CALM DOWN. The leaking of the DRAFT is an obvious trial balloon, or a pissed off career employee out to embarrass the Bush administration. Assuming this gets published in the FR, sometime in the next 2-3 months, then undergoes a comment period (usually 90 days), and then the final rule publication, about 45 days after the comment period. So, by the time this thing is to be finalized, Barack Obama will be president, and this proposed rule will vanish like morning dew.

  58. #58 khan
    August 11, 2008

    The thing is, no one approves of abortion, it’s a terrible thing, but letting it go for religious purposes is ludicrous, there are so many other fine reasons to NOT do something.

    I approve of abortion.

    It is no more a ‘terrible thing’ than an appendectomy or a wisdom tooth extraction.

    But since it involves a woman’s crotch, it is somehow the concern of the patriarchal demented fuckwits.

  59. #59 That Other Kid
    August 11, 2008

    Honestly, that’s the thing I find the most ridiculous. Essentially, these people are saying that because of their religion, they should be able to not do their job and still get paid. It’s insane.

    If you don’t want to dispense drugs to people who need them, don’t become an effing pharmacist.

  60. #60 cubefarmed
    August 11, 2008

    In the event that this regulation does become permanent, I’d love to see medical care providors and pharmacist’s required to publicly display services or medications that they will not perform, prescribe, or dispense. In the name of free market capitalism which the Republicans who support these measures also espouse, of course.

    I wonder how quickly some of these medical facilities and pharmacies would go out of business. Alas, we all know that won’t happen. Someone will find a way to say it’s discrimination.

  61. #61 Ames
    August 11, 2008

    I’m surprised this has taken so long to trickle to the top of the blogosphere. I gave a legal analysis of this a while ago, and Scibling PalMD reported on it earlier too. This is a seriously disturbing direction for HHS to go in, and this needs to be getting mainstream media attention. Spread the word!!

  62. #62 Helioprogenus
    August 11, 2008

    You know with these fucks, they’ll do everything and anything in their power to dictate what women should do with their wombs. With them, there is no such thing as personal choice, it comes down to protecting and guarding your property (i.e. a woman’s womb). It’s the same reason why they’re adamantly against administering HPV vaccines to adolescent girls. Perhaps these girls will realize that they in fact have control over their own bodies, and the power that these fucks have over them is just illusionary.

  63. #63 Scott from Oregon
    August 11, 2008

    “””the whole “conscientious objector” thing would be a non-issue, because it would clearly be unconstitutional — a violation of the patient’s 1st Amendment rights — for a government employee to deny care based on any sort of religious test. It’s only because healthcare providers are private individuals that they can muddy the issue by attempting to assert an affirmative 1st Amendment right to deny care.

    Reason #4,765 why we need national healthcare!”””

    Ummmm, you are kidding right? The federal government thinks it has the power to legislate morality and without much fuss, the populace concedes. Then, when a group gains control of the federal government (in this case G W and the Falwell college crowd) those who hold the same beliefs as Falwell’s crowd cheer while the secular crowd boos and hisses.

    If health services were an exclusive governmental venue right now, the anti-science, Falwell crowd would have stripped much from the secular needs and wants already, as the Bill Of Rights has been given away by hapless voters on both sides of the R and D equation.

    If you are dismissive of the Constitution, and demand federal government control over services and the administering of most tax revenue, you will get government CONTROL and your taxes will not go to where you desire them to go. This is being demonstrated right before your very eyes.

    George Bush and his federal cabal is the punishment Americans have inflicted upon themselves by trying to use the federal government as a blunt tool for their societal desires.

  64. #64 Rick R
    August 11, 2008

    cubefarmed wrote- “In the event that this regulation does become permanent, I’d love to see medical care providors and pharmacist’s required to publicly display services or medications that they will not perform, prescribe, or dispense. In the name of free market capitalism which the Republicans who support these measures also espouse, of course.

    I wonder how quickly some of these medical facilities and pharmacies would go out of business. Alas, we all know that won’t happen. Someone will find a way to say it’s discrimination. ”

    I like this idea. A lot. If this should become permanent, I would push to have a particular pharmacy’s stance posted publicly. I’m not a woman so am not a consumer of women’s birth control products. But I certainly can (and would) take my pharmaceutical business elsewhere.

  65. #65 DocWazoo
    August 11, 2008

    I also approve of abortion. This is one of the chief reasons I became a gynecologist – so that if it is ever illegal, or no one else is available to provide the service, I’ll still be able to do it.

  66. #66 Rarus.vir
    August 11, 2008

    #58
    As I said, I don’t have a horse in this race, seeing I am a man. Sometimes there arent any good answers. Abortion should be avoided at all costs, but my point was that for all the ‘reasons’ a woman could have an abortion, or not have an abortion, religion is perhaps the worst one of all.

    Really I have reservations about anyone who thinks abortion is a good thing. At best it is a necessary evil.

  67. #67 Danio
    August 11, 2008

    Really I have reservations about anyone who thinks abortion is a good thing. At best it is a necessary evil.

    Rarus.vir, would you care to elaborate on your assignments of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ here? I’m genuinely curious.

  68. #68 raven
    August 11, 2008

    Most likely just propaganda babbling. These sorts of regulations fall most heavily on the young, stupid, and insane women. Your average middle aged career woman isn’t going to be showing up at a pharmacist with a hangover looking for plan B. Very often anyway.

    Here is a classic and real life example of the victims of such regulations. The girl is a Texan white. Her parents are meth addicts who forget for weeks on end that they even have a daughter. She has little education although she is not stupid. Her now ex boyfriend is much older and borderline for normal intelligence.

    In this case, neither birth control nor abortion took place. We now have a lost and undereducated 16 year old girl from a dysfunctional family wandering around with a baby. Needless to say, the state is picking up every penny of the bills. The chances of the kid with a kid making it out of the poverty swamp are low to nonexistent.

  69. #69 Scott D.
    August 11, 2008

    If one isn’t able to do their job, then they should have chosen a different profession. A christian becoming a pharmacist and refusing to distribute medication, is really no different than a vegan working on a slaughter floor and refusing to touch meat.

  70. #70 Carlie
    August 11, 2008

    But I certainly can (and would) take my pharmaceutical business elsewhere.

    Unless you live in a small town that only has one pharmacy, that is. Then you’re screwed.

  71. #71 khan
    August 11, 2008

    Really I have reservations about anyone who thinks abortion is a good thing. At best it is a necessary evil.

    How would you feel about removing something that crawled up your rectum and took root?

  72. #72 SteveM
    August 11, 2008

    Really I have reservations about anyone who thinks abortion is a good thing. At best it is a necessary evil.

    How would you feel about removing something that crawled up your rectum and took root?

    I think the point is that abortion should not be one’s first choice as a method of birth control. Even regardless of one’s view of good and evil, life and death; it is relatively a much more dangerous procedure than the alternative methods.

  73. #73 Bill Dauphin
    August 11, 2008

    Ummmm, you are kidding right?

    Ummm, no, I’m not kidding, precisely because…

    If you are dismissive of the Constitution,

    …I’m not “dismissive of the Constitution.” On the contrary, it’s precisely because of the limitations the Constitution places on the power of the government that I think it would be harder for government-funded healthcare providers than private ones to ignore my constitutional rights.

    Of course, that optimism is based on the predicate assumption that in November we’re going to replace the current crowd of light-our-cigars-with-pages-of-the-Constitution Republicans with a sane administration. But then, if that turns out to be an invalid assumption, we’ll have much bigger and more immediate problems than access to birth control.

  74. #74 Josh K
    August 11, 2008

    Not a direct response, but your mention of a national health ministry sparked in me this quixotic thought: If we had a national health service here, the whole “conscientious objector” thing would be a non-issue, because it would clearly be unconstitutional — a violation of the patient’s 1st Amendment rights — for a government employee to deny care based on any sort of religious test. It’s only because healthcare providers are private individuals that they can muddy the issue by attempting to assert an affirmative 1st Amendment right to deny care.

    Reason #4,765 why we need national healthcare!

    I disagree. Centralized authority wouldn’t help the issue. If anything, I lean toward Scott from Oregon’s take on the issue, though I wouldn’t have put it quite so stridently.

  75. #75 Josh K
    August 11, 2008

    Of course, that optimism is based on the predicate assumption that in November we’re going to replace the current crowd of light-our-cigars-with-pages-of-the-Constitution Republicans with a sane administration.

    That’s kinda where I’m coming from (re: national healthcare won’t help this issue).

    Centralizing authority doesn’t make that authority any more even handed, intelligent, or sciencifically literate; it just means all the eggs are in one basket.

    But then, if that turns out to be an invalid assumption, we’ll have much bigger and more immediate problems than access to birth control.

    Yet there will be some who will cheer if that happens; I’d rather give a little less (ok, a *lot* less) authority to the central government, so as to minimize the damage any one administration can do. YMMV.

  76. #76 khan
    August 11, 2008

    I think the point is that abortion should not be one’s first choice as a method of birth control. Even regardless of one’s view of good and evil, life and death; it is relatively a much more dangerous procedure than the alternative methods.

    But the whole point of the original post is that the demented fuckwits are redefining ‘abortion’ to include ‘birth control’.

  77. #77 Scott
    August 11, 2008

    Great piece PZ, I just linked to it at RH Reality Check (dot) org, where we’ve been covering the proposed regulations since they were leaked with content from Sen. Hillary Clinton and former FDA Staff Director Susan Wood.

  78. #78 sublunary
    August 11, 2008

    I read about this issue weeks ago and am no less disgusted by it now. The first article I read linked to an online petition sponsored by Hillary Clinton. I apparently signed and just got an email reminding me of it. Yes, I know these have next to no value in the long run, but if anyone feels like it, it’s here.

    From the email, “Secretary Leavitt stated on the HHS website just recently that he was still considering whether to go forward with these new rules and acknowledged concerns about limiting access to birth control.”

    Hopefully acknowledging concerns will translate into scraping the whole horrific idea in the first place. ::crosses fingers::

  79. #79 Rarus.vir
    August 11, 2008

    “But the whole point of the original post is that the demented fuckwits are redefining ‘abortion’ to include ‘birth control’.”
    I think they are redefining birth control to include abortion, thereby throwing the baby out with the bath water.
    Blyme, the whole thing is getting muddy.
    I would need to publish a small book to keep up with it all. Too many comments, and the posts come to fast here.

    How do you all do this and get any work done at your jobs.
    I’m going home, maybe I’ll pick this up later.

  80. #80 Spanish Inquisitor
    August 11, 2008

    #4

    In many cases “until the fetus is living completely separately from his/her mother” would mean roughly 18-22 years. ;)

    And in many of those cases, a lot longer. Take my word for it. ;)

  81. #81 SteveM
    August 11, 2008

    But the whole point of the original post is that the demented fuckwits are redefining ‘abortion’ to include ‘birth control’.

    I was not responding to the original post. And neither were you. We were discussing Rarus.vir’s characterization of abortion as a necessary evil. My point was that whether you think it is “evil” in the biblical sense, you might still call it that because it is not the best way of managing your reproduction. This in no way implies that it should not be available and made as safe as possible, but it will never be as safe as a condom or many other forms of contraception.

  82. #82 Glidwrith
    August 11, 2008

    The thing that always bugged me about the idiocies with birth control was this: did you just idly scratch your arm? your face? some other unmentionable body part? Don’t you know that embedded under your fingernails are literally thousands of cells? Oh, the horror! All those little people, you just committed suicide……..end of snark

  83. #83 Bill Dauphin
    August 11, 2008

    I’d rather give a little less (ok, a *lot* less) authority to the central government, so as to minimize the damage any one administration can do. YMMV.

    MMDV: If we can’t manage to to elect noncriminals to office, our whole society is doomed, and quibbling over who runs healthcare will amount to rearranging deck chairs. Maybe I’m too naive, but I prefer to consider the last 8 years a total aberration. In any case, it’s impossible to rationally run a society on the basis that the Government can never be trusted to do anything.

  84. #84 Curiosis
    August 11, 2008

    I don’t think the answer is to force pharmacists to dispense drugs they find morally objectionable. The answer is to allow their employers to fire their asses when they don’t.

    By having legislation that protects workers from being fired for religious reasons, we’ve created this monster.

  85. #85 Annick
    August 11, 2008

    But don’t you know ? Women who get raped deserve it ! How dare they walk alone being all irresistibly female !

    And it’s funny how they’re all pro-life, but they won’t actually help my lesbian partner and I get pregnant.

  86. #86 Helioprogenus
    August 11, 2008

    They claim pro life Annick, but that’s just the opposite. If they were genuinely concerned about human life, they’d speak out against this war in Iraq, they would be happy to allow couples, regardless of sexual orientation, to use all means necessary to personally dictate what is necessary to form a family. It comes down to the need for these impotent old men to control the female body, and take the power away from women. Obviously, nobody is claiming that abortions are wonderful and great, and it would be far better to use contraceptives (which catholics object to because they also feel the church needs to dictate what women should do with their bodies) to avoid unnecessary pregnancies. Yet, all medically feasible tools should be there for use when a woman or couple makes the personal decision to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Sadly, the hypocrisy of these idiots dictating what others should do with their personal lives will continue for generations.

  87. #87 SteveM
    August 11, 2008

    I don’t think the answer is to force pharmacists to dispense drugs they find morally objectionable. The answer is to allow their employers to fire their asses when they don’t.

    Although becoming rarer, many pharmicists are still self-employed.

  88. #88 IceFarmer
    August 11, 2008

    @Annick #85,

    You’d be suprised that in the bible, they admonish heterosexuals almost 200 different times but homosexuals only get around 10. Their priorities are totally out of whack. The have a problem if anyone other than them have babies. There is an established religious precedent of breeding to increase numbers for political control. Life for them is equated to life of people like them. No one else really counts. You can see it across history.

    I wish you and your partner the best of luck.

  89. #89 Richard Smith
    August 11, 2008

    Well, I think this could finally shut down all those heathen IVF labs. After all, if they’re supposed to be protecting the “humans” before or after implantation, what about all those fertilized ova that aren’t picked to be artificially implanted? I mean, they’ve at least already been spared the horror of becoming sources of stem cells for all that wicked genetic experimentation, but will they now be spared the lesser rapture of the bio-waste bin?

  90. #90 Scott from Oregon
    August 11, 2008

    “…I’m not “dismissive of the Constitution.” On the contrary, it’s precisely because of the limitations the Constitution places on the power of the government that I think it would be harder for government-funded healthcare providers than private ones to ignore my constitutional rights”.

    Ummmm, the 4th Amendment gives all citizens the rights to privacy.

    How do you propose to “collect” resources (taxes) to pay for your universal healthcare system, without some form of government law that requires all citizens to disclose pertinent financial AND health information to the government?

    You can’t. So to implement your health system, you have to wallop the 4th Amendment in order to get your “1st Amendment” rights protected.

    And if you refuse to allow your 4th Amendment rights to be infinged upon, the government will step on the 5th Amendment right to not self-incriminate, and dismiss your right to a fair and speedy trial by a jury of your peers by simply locking out your bank account and taking possession of your assets…

    Any questions?

  91. #91 Scott from Oregon
    August 11, 2008

    “If we can’t manage to to elect noncriminals to office, our whole society is doomed, and quibbling over who runs healthcare will amount to rearranging deck chairs. Maybe I’m too naive, but I prefer to consider the last 8 years a total aberration. In any case, it’s impossible to rationally run a society on the basis that the Government can never be trusted to do anything…”

    You are naive. Ask yourself who OWNS the national media and WHY would they push a candidate and ignore other candidates? What’s in it for them?

    The last eight years were not an abberation, they were a naturally occuring consequence of a system that is slowly but surely pulling all of the power upward into a stratus of society most Americans have no experience of.

    Ask yourself why Barack Obama, supposedly an ‘outside the beltway’ “new” candidate, is surrounded by advisors who have been insiders for years?

    You are being duped by those who desire continuity in the way the system functions, and are not being told of all the other possible ways the system could function.

    Government by the consent of the governed is on the slide, and government by the consent of those in the loop, is fast-tracking its way into the American household.

  92. #92 barbie123
    August 11, 2008

    Danio,

    Great post, as usual, and incredibly thought-provoking; I have nothing to add from a science angle :) but I have always wondered when this other shoe would drop: when would the anti-abortionist movement begin advocating that certain birth control methods constitute “abortion” as the definition of true “pregnancy” becomes more finely delineated?

  93. #93 don
    August 11, 2008

    Is knocked up a pro choice movie?

    Judd Apatow’s Masterpiece

  94. #94 foxfire
    August 11, 2008

    @ Kseniya #18: Exactly. So much for the relevance of social rules (go forth and multiply) developed by bronze age middle eastern sheep herders to the world of today.

  95. #95 LisaG
    August 11, 2008

    “Most likely just propaganda babbling. These sorts of regulations fall most heavily on the young, stupid, and insane women. Your average middle aged career woman isn’t going to be showing up at a pharmacist with a hangover looking for plan B. Very often anyway.

    Here is a classic and real life example of the victims of such regulations. The girl is a Texan white. Her parents are meth addicts who forget for weeks on end that they even have a daughter. She has little education although she is not stupid. Her now ex boyfriend is much older and borderline for normal intelligence.”

    …raven…you…you’re kidding right? right?

    if you are not, uhm…how do i put this…oh. right.

    Fuck. You.

    birth control is NOT just about actually preventing babies, you fucking misogynist. My fiance, a lesbain in a perfectly monogamous relationship, takes birth conrtol. if she doesn’t she bleeds all. fucking. month. she passes out, and ends up in the hospital. Other friends take it for thier skin, thier mental health, and for the secure knowlege that they actually have control over thier own bodies.

    Here is a “real life” concequence of making it hard for women to get ANY sort of birth control–
    Women who need it, will not be able to get it. people like my fiance who need it to work, function, and fucking WALK will not get it.
    women who are raped will be denied Plan B, and be forced to carry thier rapists child, and then hope to hell there are no complications during birth–‘cuase thier doctor might decide that the fetus is more important then her. and then she has to take care of the kid, or give it up–and there is a damn good chance that people will assume she fucking /deserved/ to be raped and then indentured to this kid she never wanted, nor had any say about carrying to term.

    this isn’t about abortion, this is about controling women’s bodies, and making it harder for women to work and function. Birth control does so. much. more. then prevent babies–it allows us to fucking control how much we bleed each month, and to control when. it helps us manage debilitating cramps and dizzy spells. It gives some of us some fucking predictability to know when we’ll start bleeding ‘cuase that’s really fucking embarrassing to suddenly have blood all over you ‘cuase you’re cycle is no such thing.

    if you think women take birth control just to prevent babies you are sorely mistaken. if you think preventing babies is something only “naughty” girls do, you are fucking asshole. If you think that the only thing Plan B does is allow trailer-trash to aviod the concequences of sex you are a descipicable, horrible person.

    again, raven. Fuck. You. in all the aplicable and litaral meanings of the word.

  96. #96 James the Less
    August 11, 2008

    “The consensus of the medical community is that an established pregnancy occurs at the point when the blastocyst successfully implants into the uterine wall.”

    By this definition, an ectopic pregnancy isn’t a pregnancy.

  97. #97 Noni Mausa
    August 11, 2008

    Somebody said: How [foolish] do you have to be to NOT see the negative impact of unchecked procreation?

    Plus, it seems to me that, at least in the USA, the same people who forbid women to have abortions are the people who sneer at poor people, immigrants and third-world foreigners in general for having such large families — and ALSO prevent them from using birth control.

    It seems that the take-home message here is “You are poor, no sex for yoooooou!”

    Sometimes I wish I had the gall to go up to some of these people and be able to say, “You are heartless and greedy, no sex (or kids) for yoooooou!”

    Noni

  98. #98 Josh K
    August 11, 2008

    In any case, it’s impossible to rationally run a society on the basis that the Government can never be trusted to do anything.

    Sure you can…well, you can rationally run a society on the basis that government is inherently dangerous and should be trusted with care.

    I do concur that you can’t run a society based on the case you presented, however. :)

    In theory, most of your constitutional republics run along the principle of power diffusion and minimization: power split amongst an executive branch, a representative branch, and a judiciary. Local matters handled locally wherever possible to spread the authority around.

    The underlying thought is too much power would be a bad thing…and, yes, we’ve debated the nature of ‘too much power’ for millenia.

    C’mon, all the arguments that ‘the government should do this’ only work up to the point that someone else grabs hold of government and starts using it counter to our desires.

  99. #99 Mooser
    August 11, 2008

    This seems to me to be the best argument that is able to convince the vast majority of people on different sides of the argument

    It’s got absolutely nothing to do with the facts of the case. It’s got a whole hell of a lot more to do with how the “pro-life” position makes the person espousing it feel! If being anti-abortion makes them feel like a better person for feeling that way, and they are confirmed in this by their community, facts have nothing to do with it.
    Our position is poor by comparison. A lesser-of-two-evils position (the ecchiness of abortion is outweighed by the horrible consequences of prohibiting it, same with BC) just doesn’t allow the same kind of self-righteous feelings to flow.

  100. #100 Natalie
    August 11, 2008

    Christ, Scott, can there be one comment thread here that doesn’t turn into “Scott berates everyone who ever suggests that the government could do something right”? It’s getting kind of old.

  101. #101 Mooser
    August 11, 2008

    As for me, I believe it is entirely the woman’s decision, between her and (by necessity) the medical provider, and no one else, except insofar as she makes it their business.

    They can start questioning why women get abortions (when they indeed, do) when they start questioning why men have intercourse with them.

  102. #102 Danio
    August 11, 2008

    By this definition, an ectopic pregnancy isn’t a pregnancy.

    Well, it isn’t. It’s an ectopic pregnancy, i.e. an embryo implanted somewhere it shouldn’t be. The criterion is still implantation.

  103. #103 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    August 11, 2008

    And here I was always told life begins at 40.

  104. #104 dwarf zebu
    August 11, 2008

    @ #11: After all, who are you to decide whether or not you should have eleven children? That’s God’s decision!

    Everyone (on some level) knows it’s really not. If it was god’s decision, it wouldn’t matter if anyone used contraception because if it was really and truly up to God’s will, they’d have babies (or not) regardless of whether they used contraception or fertility drugs.

    If it was god’s decision, the whole point would be entirely moot.

    @ #6: Great article! But it makes me glad that I’ve stopped coloring my hair to cover the grey, though; fewer food service workers and grocers will try to stop me from getting my beloved coffee even though I’m actually still menstruating.

  105. #105 Rik
    August 11, 2008

    Ooh abortion. Hot topic. Well, not so much, seeing as I live in the Netherlands where it’s been legal for quite a while…although our current government has really tried/is really trying its hardest to remove some of our hard-wrought freedoms…(stupid christian-based politicians who people only vote for because they always have…)

    Anyway. Abortion. I’m not completely sure how I feel about it, to be honest. I mean, contraception is good, not like we need more people to feed in an already overpopulated world really.

    Well. I’m a young (21 years old) male, so I can’t really see this from a womans point of view, but I’ll try anyway.

    If you got raped, well, abortion is a good thing. I mean, I can’t imagine having to live with the spawn of the kind of person who did that to you. You could give it up for adoption, of course, but if it were me I wouldn’t want to bring it into the world in the first place. (Not that I believe in hereditary sin, but still.)

    If you’re a teenager and where stupid enough to get yourself pregnant, however, I feel strongly inclined to force you AND THE FATHER, because it’s partially his fault too, to have it and take care of it, and maybe you’ll learn some fucking responsibility and what physical integrity is really all about.

    I mean, I’m not against you having sex. Just use contraceptives. And you can’t say ‘my religion says those’re bad’ because all religions that say that say premarital sex is bad, too.
    It may not be a very good argument, but I feel that if you’re irresponsible enough to get yourself pregnant at that age maybe you should live with the consequences and maybe you’ll be less of an idiot next time.

    Of course, if having a child would be dangerous (well, more than normally) to the health of the potential mother, an abortion is the right thing to do.

    If you’re of normal childbearing age, and married and all that, and suddenly find yourself pregnant but don’t want a kid because you think you can’t take care of it properly, well…it comes down to ‘when is something alive?’ I’d personally still be very hesitant about an abortion in such case, wondering if never existing at all would really be better than whatever existence I could give it, but…

    I’m not sure when a feutus would really qualify as a human being, but I’m more comfortable with leaving that up to the medical experts than to a bunch of priests (or myself. I study AI…using a Turing test on an organism to see if it has a consciousness wouldn’t really work, I think…(doesn’t really work on computerprograms either, but that’s beside the point))

    On a last not, WHY is it that abortion is always considered a ‘Woman-thing’. Last time I checked, you still needed 2 people to get someone pregnant, and usually one of those 2 is male. (I read that they managed to impregnate a female pig or something with cells taken from another female pig…that was a while ago, can they do it with humans yet? not really up to date with all that)
    Anyway, assuming a normal 1 man 1 female impregnation, why is abortion almost always treated like it’s the womans decision and the guy has nothing to say in it? I mean, if I were the father, I’d like to have I say in it too. (Assuming we’re in a normal relationship ofc. If I’m a rapist I should obviously get no say in the matter)
    It would be my kid too, you know. Just because all the growing happens inside the woman…it’s half of my genes! (well, maybe not exactly half, I dunno how that works exactly, but you get the point)

    Also, this post is way too long.

  106. #106 Docwazoo
    August 11, 2008

    >Really I have reservations about anyone who thinks >abortion is a good thing. At best it is a necessary evil.

    On the contrary, I believe abortion is a GOOD thing. Not as a form of birth control (as was practiced in the USSR), but abortion is a good thing because it is symbolic of women’s freedom. As I said earlier, if it were illegal, I’d still perform them just to ensure liberty.
    Here in Israel, although a full blown theocracy, abortion is legal – but a woman seeking to undergo one (we call it “Termination of Pregnancy”) has to appear before a TOP committee and justify why she needs to terminate. Minors, single women, overage women, extremely poor women and those whose pregnancy is medically dangrous to the mother or fetus (malformed fetus) are almost always granted a TOP, and the healthcare providers pick up most of the check except for a $280 fee.

  107. #107 James the Less
    August 11, 2008

    #102

    If it isn’t a pregnancy, then why is it called a pregnancy? You referenced uterine implantation and the signaling between embryo and uterus as the criterion for pregnancy.

  108. #108 Docwazoo
    August 11, 2008

    The signaling still occurs in an ectopic pregnancy – you don’t need the embryo to actually be in the uterus for that. It even works if the embryo is implanted on an intestine or on the peritoneum.

  109. #109 BlueIndependent
    August 11, 2008

    “I think the point is that abortion should not be one’s first choice as a method of birth control. Even regardless of one’s view of good and evil, life and death; it is relatively a much more dangerous procedure than the alternative methods.”

    Yeah, abortion as birth control is a really bad way of going about contraception. There are far too many non-invasive options available that are much safer, and don’t run the risk of a fundagelical blowing you up or shooting at you.

  110. #110 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    August 11, 2008

    if it was really and truly up to God’s will, they’d have babies (or not) regardless of whether they used contraception or fertility drugs.

    Or even regardless of if they’d had sex. I mean, it’s Mister “Virgin-Birth” God, yes?

  111. #111 Scott from Oregon
    August 11, 2008

    “Christ, Scott, can there be one comment thread here that doesn’t turn into “Scott berates everyone who ever suggests that the government could do something right”? It’s getting kind of old”.

    Nope. Because until you see the correlation between the feds and everything else, you will be enslaved to have these silly arguments about what the fed is doing or not doing to you. The fed HAS NO BUSINESS dictating morality through federal legislation. And yet here you all are, complaining about what the fed is about to do to you, never questioning the validity of its jusrisdiction to begin with…

    As a voter in a free Democracy, trying to convince a voting population of the errors of their ways is a perogative, covered by the Constitution.

    How you think about politics and vote, DIRECTLY affects me.

    So no.

    If an irratating voice of wisdom is what is necessary, than so be it.

    What is old is the idea that the fed can cure what ails you.

  112. #112 Barklikeadog
    August 11, 2008

    LisaG, why don’t you tell us how you really feel?

  113. #113 James the Less
    August 11, 2008

    #108

    I thought the signaling occurs pre-implantation as well.

  114. #114 Jon
    August 11, 2008

    The problem with using some sort of “brain function” criteria for when a life deserves the protection of the law is that the criteria applied consistently would exclude infants from legal protection. Or the comatose. They do not exhibit highly developed brain function right now.

    It might make a little more sense to consider the things that have value to us ordinarily. A broken computer that can be easily fixed has value, but a broken computer that can only be fixed if we invest more money than would be needed to buy a new computer has no value to us.

    So it seems potential plays a role in our value judgments. This doesn’t mean everything with any potential is equally valuable. But potential matters. The comatose should obviously have legal protection if they would naturally and forseeably be expected to recover. If my wife were in a coma and she is expected to never recover, then to me she’s no longer there. She doesn’t have the same value to me that she once had. If however I know she’ll come out of the coma (say, in 9 months) then she’s absolutely valuable, absolutely still there, and absolutely the same person, and if anybody killed her it would be murder.

    If you agree with this thinking, then as applied to a fetus I think you’d have to conclude that it does deserve legal protection. It is naturally and foreseeably cognitive, just like a comatose person that is expected to recover. This is a criteria that applied consistently doesn’t exclude infants, doesn’t exclude the sleeping, comatose, the drunk, etc. And it’s actually not contrived (though I haven’t explained why here) like a lot of the criteria I see offered from the pro-choice.

    And I’m not religious.

  115. #115 scooter
    August 11, 2008

    #105 RiK

    You should emigrate, you’d fit right in here in the States. Somewhere between Alabama and Mississippi

  116. #116 JoJo
    August 11, 2008

    Rik #105

    If you’re a teenager and where stupid enough to get yourself pregnant, however, I feel strongly inclined to force you AND THE FATHER, because it’s partially his fault too, to have it and take care of it, and maybe you’ll learn some fucking responsibility and what physical integrity is really all about.

    That would be fine if the kid was around for a year or two and then the couple could get on with their lives, having learned a lesson about responsibility for one’s actions. However, in the real world, forcing a teenage couple to raise a child for the next 16 to 20 years is rather a long time for the lesson to be taught.

    Raising a child for punitive reasons is hard on everyone, including the child. Punishing the child for the sins of the father and mother does not strike me as a moral or ethical thing to do.

  117. #117 JoJo
    August 11, 2008

    If an irratating voice of wisdom is what is necessary, than so be it.

    Why can’t you be a voice of wisdom instead of a voice of whining? However, you do the irritating part perfectly.

  118. #118 Danio
    August 11, 2008

    James the Less:
    I interpret the medically accepted definition as implicitly referring to a clinically unremarkable pregnancy, i.e. one that has proceeded normally up to that point. Ectopic pregnancies clearly do not fit this definition, although, as noted, the cellular and molecular benchmarks of ‘implantation’ have still been achieved.

    I’m not sure whether you’re genuinely confounded or just pedantic, but either way I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer.

  119. #119 Lord Zero
    August 11, 2008

    I agree with Rik all along. I happen to be from
    that very same Chile, so i understand how conservative
    could a country be.

  120. #120 Carlie
    August 11, 2008

    I mean, I’m not against you having sex. Just use contraceptives.

    News flash: contraceptives don’t always work, even if you’re using them correctly. All of them have a failure rate, even tubal ligation and vasectomy. All. Of. Them. And your post makes it clear that you view pregnancy as a punishment to be meted out to those you deem unworthy of having sex, which is a pretty twisted viewpoint of sex, pregnancy, and the autonomy of people other than yourself.

  121. #121 maxi
    August 11, 2008

    Scott from Oregon:

    Erm… I see you don’t trust your government with anything. And that’s fine, I don’t live in America but I assume you have your reasons.

    BUT national healthcare is a good thing. Most European countries have it. In the UK we have the NHS. It’s been running for 40 (50?) years. I do not have to tell the government anything about my personal health/lifestyle (what the hell would they do with all that information anyway?); all I know is that if I break a leg, I turn up to A&E and they fix me then send me on my way.

    I think you have serious trust issues, but with the government you’ve had for the last 8 years I don’t really blame you.

  122. #122 Tony Sidaway
    August 11, 2008

    As I understand it, this is just a little fudge to give people with conscientious objections to post-conception medical action aimed at thwarting the natural course of events freedom from being fired because of it.

  123. #123 Fernando Magyar
    August 11, 2008

    Kseniya @ 18,

    How fucking moronic do you have to be to NOT see the negative impact of unchecked procreation? Fucking lemmings.

    I’m not sure these people understand ecology any better than they seem to understand evolution. Or maybe they are actually pro massive human die-off.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overshoot

    In ecology, overshoot occurs when a population exceeds the long term carrying capacity of its environment. The consequence of overshoot is called a crash or die-off.

    They also do not understand the basic arithmetic behind exponetial growth.

    http://globalpublicmedia.com/lectures/461

    Dr. Albert Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population and Energy

  124. #124 Maru
    August 11, 2008

    #105

    If you’re a teenager and where stupid enough to get yourself pregnant, however, I feel strongly inclined to force you AND THE FATHER, because it’s partially his fault too, to have it and take care of it, and maybe you’ll learn some fucking responsibility and what physical integrity is really all about.

    Oh fuck you. Another human life shouldn’t be used as a fucking punishment for bad judgment. Having that baby is more likely to screw up their lives forever, making college more difficult, and if they are poor (and undereducated about their bodies means they have a higher chance to be so) it’ll be a hell of a lot harder to get out of that poverty. One mistake as a teenager shouldn’t be used to shame you and fuck up your life. And what about a small child born to people that didn’t really want it or were ready for it? Why would you force that on a child?

    It amounts to forcing the possibility of a shitty life on both parents and child. A child is a huge life choice, and it deserves to be wanted.

    On a last not, WHY is it that abortion is always considered a ‘Woman-thing’. Last time I checked, you still needed 2 people to get someone pregnant, and usually one of those 2 is male. (I read that they managed to impregnate a female pig or something with cells taken from another female pig…that was a while ago, can they do it with humans yet? not really up to date with all that)
    Anyway, assuming a normal 1 man 1 female impregnation, why is abortion almost always treated like it’s the womans decision and the guy has nothing to say in it? I mean, if I were the father, I’d like to have I say in it too. (Assuming we’re in a normal relationship ofc. If I’m a rapist I should obviously get no say in the matter)

    Abortion is a woman’s thing because the woman is the one that not only bears the physical complications, but in most Western societies, the social and financial responsibilities as well, while a man can excuse himself from them (sans child support, of course). She will be more affected by it than her impregnator, assuming he doesn’t stick around. I’d assume that among couples it would be more of a joint decision (it would be in my marriage, though my wishes would likely get more weight), but in most cases, I’m betting that a woman having an elective abortion is not in an emotional or financially solid enough place, and is likely sans partner. I don’t think there are a lot of cases where a couple is happily together, and the woman gets an abortion against her partner’s wishes.

    Also, there are shitty men that will try to trap their partners into pregnancy. It’s a pretty common MO for some abusers. There are a lot of people that would block their partner’s abortion just to fuck them over. Life isn’t all happy love sunshine. Why should you be allowed to tell me what to do with my body?

    I know it sucks because it is your child as well, but it is using my body for nine months, and any further legislation to give you a voice would only be abused (and, from my perspective, really creepy).

  125. #125 kermit
    August 11, 2008

    LisaG, I don’t see how such anger against Raven is indicated. I didn’t know about some of these benefits of birth control, but not many guys would unless they were partnered with a woman who used them for non-contraceptive purposes. In any event, the religious right has always attacked birth control materials and information for its contraceptive effects – they would hardly be upset if these other uses were the *only medical benefits. For them, it *is* all about the contraception.

    And as usual, it will be the politically powerless women who suffer most. The 16 YO girl Raven mentioned is exactly the sort of young woman who will be least able to find alternatives in her life: not having a child when she’s ready, or the male she has ended up with, or middle class options like moving, jobs, alternative medical treatments, etc. The politicians’ and their wives will be able to get the medicine they need, whether it’s to avoid pregnancy, keep skin clear, or stay alive for other reasons.

    Some of us are on your side even if we don’t know as much about an issue as you. save your anger for the bastards trying to control your lives and your bodies, not guys who can see this kid is stuck in a miserable life as a result of it.

  126. #126 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 11, 2008

    This is an analogous cultural question (with social ramifications as well), but isn’t there groups that differentiate between legal and medical death (“brain death”) and “death” (heart stop) – as in “he died during surgery but were brought back to life”?

    To ease into a transition between the old and new, one could imagine proposing (legal and medical) pregnancy (“implantation pregnancy”) and “pregnancy” (conception).

  127. #127 raven
    August 11, 2008

    If you’re a teenager and where stupid enough to get yourself pregnant, however, I feel strongly inclined to force you AND THE FATHER, because it’s partially his fault too, to have it and take care of it, and maybe you’ll learn some fucking responsibility and what physical integrity is really all about.

    Whoever wrote this has no idea what they are talking about. It many cases with teen age girls, the fathers are older men, not necessarily 50 years old but twenties.

    They are usually stupid slime molds at best. Some of them prey on young girls because they can. The Texan girl’s consort is apparently retarded, almost illiterate.

    With those types, CPS usually talks to the DA about stat. rape charges. Then cuts a deal, where they sign away whatever parental rights they have to go away and get lost. With the understanding if they do it again, they go to jail. The idea here is to keep slime molds away from the mother and kid. Otherwise they can hang around mooching off the inevitable welfare and causing even more havoc.

    Forcing people to get married because they have a baby in common is a cosmically stupid idea. A bad marriage is far worse than no marriage at all. It is also illegal, this is still a free country and the government can’t force people to get married. What is legal is to require child support by the noncustodial parent. Makes sense, every once in a while they actually get someone to do so.

  128. #128 craig
    August 11, 2008

    “That would be fine if the kid was around for a year or two and then the couple could get on with their lives, having learned a lesson about responsibility for one’s actions. However, in the real world, forcing a teenage couple to raise a child for the next 16 to 20 years is rather a long time for the lesson to be taught.”

    Yeah but we REALLY need teach those fetuses a lesson, by having them have to put up with being raised by irresponsible, immature, unprepared and almost certainly underemployed teenagers.

  129. #129 travc
    August 11, 2008

    Has there been a court case yet where an employer fired someone who was not doing their job for ‘religious reasons’. Of course, the employee will scream ‘religious discrimination’, but most anti-discrimination statutes I know of have an exception for when objective attributes of the protected class actually negatively impact one’s ability to do the job.

    “Must be able to lift and carry 50lbs” was a requirement in a couple of jobs I had… which would be discriminatory against most ‘little people’, many disabled folks, some obese people, ect.. Perfectly kosher though since the job really did require moving around heavy equipment and no relatively simple accommodations could change that basic reality. (BTW: These were scientific jobs in government labs. So federal anti-discrimination laws (the most strict by far) applied.)

    So to all those people saying ‘they should get a different job’… you are correct (and have legal standing) IMO.

  130. #130 True Bob
    August 11, 2008

    If an irratating (sic) voice of wisdom is what is necessary, than so be it.

    Scott, be careful you don’t dislocate your arm while you pat yourself on the back.

  131. #131 JRS
    August 11, 2008

    Everyone knows that life doesn’t begin until around the 75th trimester or so, when the kid gets a job and moves out. Until then, the choice of whether or not to get an abortion should be entirely left up to the parents. No doctor, ambulance driver, child protective service agent or pharmacist should interfere with that.

  132. #132 craig
    August 11, 2008

    I think we need to teach these damned irresponsible kids a lesson.

    In sex education classes.

    Where they will learn all about pregnancy, STDs, safe sex, birth control, the emotional ramifications of sex, and of parenthood, and how to make smart choices, where to find birth control, that sex is not bad and it’s natural and healthy but has ramifications you need to be prepared for. Teach them how to be prepared.

    Dammit, these kids need to be taught this lesson. Why are liberals stopping the pro-lifers and churches from teaching the kids these lessons?

    um… what?

  133. #133 Jim1138
    August 11, 2008

    Raven #19: the form of contraception that Bush and Cheny use is their personality.

  134. #134 Danio
    August 11, 2008

    Has there been a court case yet where an employer fired someone who was not doing their job for ‘religious reasons’.

    http://www.aclj.org/news/read.aspx?ID=1185

    Skip down to mid-page to the bit about Francis Manion.

  135. #135 skyotter
    August 11, 2008

    you know, i’m reminded og the controversy about immigrant Muslim cabbies refusing service to people who were carrying alcohol. guess which way the political capital-r Right felt those cases should go?

    (hint — “Get another job!”)

    and yet now there’s a complete flip-flop from the same political capital-r Right, PLUS proposed protective legislation. why? because now it’s *their* base!

    neat, huh?

  136. #136 skyotter
    August 11, 2008

    og = of, not Ogg

    *sigh*

  137. #137 Bill Dauphin
    August 11, 2008

    Scott from Oregon and Josh K (@various):

    Evidently you two subscribe to the notion that Government is inherently evil and can never be trusted. I, OTOH, refuse to believe that we’re trapped in an eternal lion-tamer’s act, with nothing but a whip and a gun stopping us from being devoured. As such, it’s probably impossible for us to say anything meaningful to each other, since we start from such divergent premises. However…

    Ummmm, the 4th Amendment gives all citizens the rights to privacy.

    Actually, it says: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    How do you propose to “collect” resources (taxes) to pay for your universal healthcare system, without some form of government law that requires all citizens to disclose pertinent financial AND health information to the government?

    So you’re arguing that collecting taxes constitutes an unreasonable seizure? Wouldn’t that make not just national healthcare, but everything the Government already does unconstitutional? And as for “health information,” do you think Medicare is unconstitutional? (At its simplest, national healthcare might be nothing more than extending the existing Medicare program to all citizens.)

    The logical extension of your take on this would be that essentially the entire government is unconstitutional… and I just don’t have any clue about how to engage that notion in meaningful discussion.

    Got to go watch the Olympics now; see ya!

  138. #138 scott from Oregon
    August 11, 2008

    “Wouldn’t that make not just national healthcare, but everything the Government already does unconstitutional”?

    “the government”…

    Another deserving member of the George Bush self flagelation club…!!

    We have more than ONE government, in case you were not aware.

    We have city, county and state governments.

    It used to be that local government governed locally, and states what needed to be state business, and the federal government was limited to very specific functions, which were well outloned long ago.

    Stating “The government” therefore, simply demonstrates a desire to be controlled by george and his Falwell college cronies…

    How’s that working out for ya?

  139. #139 Carlie
    August 11, 2008

    If the local government where I grew up had its way, people with skin darker than mine still would not have the rights afforded to other people lucky enough to be melanin-deficient. That local government thing doesn’t always work out very well.

  140. #140 Sauceress
    August 11, 2008

    #21 True Bob

    This is easily extended to other beliefs – like I think you’re too fat, so no, you may not buy those chips. Provide the service or get the hell out of the way.”

    Totally agree!
    How about those that don’t “believe” in evidence based biomedical science be refused appropriate medical treatment?

    Say those with a heritable disease, believing that their affliction is their gods will, be refused treatment by professionals working on the basis of the evidence.

    How would the all these goddidit religious nutters like them apples?

    Lucky for them that most medical professionals don’t discriminate on the basis of their patient’s religious beliefs!

    Will all these religious cults go off and live in caves already! No brain…no pain!

  141. #141 Scott from Oregon
    August 11, 2008

    “”If the local government where I grew up had its way, people with skin darker than mine still would not have the rights afforded to other people lucky enough to be melanin-deficient. That local government thing doesn’t always work out very well. “”

    Actually, that is only an indictment about the people where you grew up, not local governments.

    The people where you grew up elected the people who made the laws that the locals followed. The federal government intervened, yes, but they didn’t change the people. That happened as a matter of moral progress, which was happening everywhere anyway.

    You have to blame the people where you grew up for what they did to others.

    Not local government.

  142. #142 me
    August 11, 2008

    Oh for fuck’s sake.
    Why is this such an issue?
    If I want to block some invading cells from my body, or scrape some unwanted cells from my body, I can.
    Humans have the knowledge and technology for this.
    It is legal. It is necessary.

    Do all the fundies pray to their imaginary friend when something ails them? Yeah, some do, they usually die. The rest ask a doctor and medical science to help them. Why shouldn’t a woman get the same rights to medical care for prevention or termination of pregnancy?

  143. #143 Pimientita
    August 11, 2008

    @Scott from Oregon

    You have to blame the people where you grew up for what they did to others.

    Not local government.

    Exactly. Scott, you’ve been arguing against the federal government having any sort of real power for several threads now and have failed to apply this logic to your argument. The federal government has the power that we give to it. It does with our money the things we allow to be done with it. All of the things which you cry about the federal gov’t doing with our money are things which can be changed (for the most part). It is a hard process (and made even harder because of people like you who poison the well with your anti-government rhetoric which turns people off to doing anything at all, much less anything constructive for the good of the whole nation -ZOMG!!! SOCIALISM!!!), but it can be done.

    You guys act like the federal gov’t is some evil entity independent of the people who comprise it and the people who vote for them. It’s not and we do have a say in how it is organized and run. Just like in the state and local governments.

    And let me just counter your inevitable retort about how corrupt it is. Do you really think that if the power shifted to the state governments that the lobbyists wouldn’t adapt to that change? That the media wouldn’t? That the states wouldn’t impose heftier taxes (including income taxes!) to make up for the loss of federal funds and spend a lot of that money on shit you don’t approve of? That states wouldn’t essentially form coalitions to pool funds to get the same kind of stuff done that happens now (except that it would take even longer because then you would have to get each individual legislature to approve)?

    How exactly do you think the political landscape will change? The same people will be voting for the same kinds of politicians. The same issues will be decided along much the same party lines (varying from state to state but without federal protection for those states who royally fuck it all up) The same media will be spinning the same facts. The same corruption will be there. What do you expect to change?

  144. #144 stubotics
    August 11, 2008

    Comment #1 above Posted by: rjb | August 11, 2008 1:04 PM
    “… But the brain activity point would probably be a good starting point, and would push all discussions of abortion at least until the late second trimester.”

    The problem with this as opposed to the embryo attaching to the uterine wall is that at least now it is not a clear event, or “point.” Is the point when the first brain cell appears, when several cells start interacting, when we can first start detecting brain activity, when the fetus starts thinking uniquely like a human, etc.? In other words, this point is still wrapped up in subjective interpretation/opinion, unlike the “on/off” state of attached or not. Birth itself is another “on/off” point that is not ambiguous.

  145. #145 JHS
    August 11, 2008

    Kos had a interesting abortion-related post today. As if we needed anymore proof that the fundgelicals are delighted to shred the social fabric of country over abortion…or, as Lou Engle puts it, “drive the issue of abortion like a wedge into the soul of the nation.”

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/8/11/13318/0005/268/566219

  146. #146 Wowbagger
    August 11, 2008

    I can’t think of too many things more ridiculous than to allow people to refuse to serve/dispense something that clashes with their religious beliefs? Someone mentioned upthread that it’s the same as giving people the right to not serve overweight people unhealthy food and that’s a great analogy. Heck, you might as well give bank tellers the right not to give out money to people because they don’t know for sure they’re going to spend it on something they would agree with. Or clerks in fashion stores not selling clothes to people they think are unattractive.

    Should pharmacists go down this route then the only response should be shame them out of business – publish and disseminate lists of the stores where this happens; if their sales start to slump they might actually think differently. What are the chances any of these miserable, hypocritical bigots are going to put jesus ahead of their wallets?

    I also agree that parenthood shouldn’t be an acceptable punishment for anything – mostly because the one who suffers the most is the kid, who didn’t get the choice. My parents didn’t want me but had me anyway – and, since I realised that from a very early age, it had a massive impact on me. While I’m well-adjusted in some ways (honest, mostly law-abiding and possessed of a work ethic), I don’t do well in relationships and can’t entertain the notion of having kids of my own since I’m not convinced I’d be able to give them the love they need. And having had it done to me I won’t take the chance I could do it to anyone else.

    When it comes down to it, though, I tend to be of the ‘not your uterus – not your opinion’ persuasion. Abortion isn’t a ‘good’ thing – obviously, it’d be better if all pregnancies were planned and trouble-free; unlikely, I know – but in certain circumstances it’s the best option for more than just the mother.

  147. #147 hubris hurts
    August 12, 2008

    I’ve been wondering when this issue would appear here. I nearly screamed when I first read about this proposal a couple of weeks ago. This is so clearly an attempt to take women back to the days of being barefoot and pregnant…of course the song “Every Sperm is Sacred” keeps running through my head.

    I realize that the original post is about contraception being classified as abortion, but many of the subsequent posts have discussed actual abortion, so I’m going to put my two cents in. I had an abortion when I was in my late twenties. I used contraception every time I had sex, but as was stated earlier, contraception can fail. I have never wanted children and didn’t suddenly want one just because I was pregnant. For one thing, I made very little money and would have had an incredibly hard time raising a child. So, I had an abortion. Trust me; you’d have to be pretty odd to see abortion as an easy alternative to standard contraception. It was painful, expensive, and a terribly unpleasant experience in every way. No one has an abortion because they want one; a woman only has an abortion because she truly feels that it is necessary. The reasons may vary, but this is not a decision that is made lightly.

  148. #148 hubris hurts
    August 12, 2008

    -
    Richard Smith #89

    Well, I think this could finally shut down all those heathen IVF labs. After all, if they’re supposed to be protecting the “humans” before or after implantation, what about all those fertilized ova that aren’t picked to be artificially implanted? I mean, they’ve at least already been spared the horror of becoming sources of stem cells for all that wicked genetic experimentation, but will they now be spared the lesser rapture of the bio-waste bin?

    No, I think that the Catholics have figured out how to deal with this too. The Vatican is considering supporting embryo adoption. Archbishop John Myers of Newark said, “I think it’s saving a life, and doing it in a very moral way. It’s saving an embryo from death, either by incineration or research.”

    You can read about it here: http://ncrcafe.org/node/1902

  149. #149 raven
    August 12, 2008

    I’ve been wondering when this issue would appear here. I nearly screamed when I first read about this proposal a couple of weeks ago.

    This is just Death Cult wingnuts being wackos. There would be little support for it in the general population and far less in medicine. The reason why it is appearing now is obvious.

    Bushco has only 6 months left to finish wrecking the USA. This isn’t the only proposal they have, they are also trying to gut the Endangered Species Act. I’m sure there will be more such. Gutting the pollution control acts, a few more civil liberties to bury, and so on. He may even start a war with Iran at the last minute and leave it for his successors to clean up.

    We all know the Death Cult political drill. Destroy what you can, steal everything you can, and issue pardons to everyone at the last minute. Believe it, Bush’s last act will be to pardon everyone who ever worked for him whether or not they are charged with anything. Including himself. Just ask Scooter Libby who never had to spend a day in jail after being convicted of a felony.

  150. #150 Bill Dauphin
    August 12, 2008

    We have more than ONE government, in case you were not aware.

    Considering I’m Vice Chair of my local Democratic Town Committee and have been directly involved in campaigns at the local (Vernon, CT, Town Council, Mayor, and Board of Education), state (Connecticut General Assembly Districts 8 and 56), and federal (Connecticut House District 2 and Connecticut Democratic presidential primary) levels, I guess I fucking well do know that we have multiple layers of government. But I thought it was pretty clear from the predicate discussion — about NATIONAL healthcare — that we were talking about the federal government. Not that it matters, of course: If your 4th amendment argument against taxation had any validity whatsoever, it would necessarily apply equally to any level of government: State and local governments are no more allowed to make unreasonable seizures than the fed.

    It doesn’t really make any difference that you’re being deliberately disingenuous, though; I knew before I started that you and I had insufficient common philosophical ground to have a useful conversation. I just didn’t know you’d be quite such a dork about it.

    Another deserving member of the George Bush self flagelation club…!!

    Oh, bite me. You don’t know the first thing about who I am or what I deserve, so I urge you, with all due respect, to STFU! You’d do well to stop thinking you know things about people just because you’ve read a few of their comments on teh intertoobz.

  151. #151 Danio
    August 12, 2008

    Bill Dauphin, this is one of those days when your comments have just charmed the bejeezus out of me. Thanks for being here! :)

  152. #152 Scott from Oregon
    August 12, 2008

    “If your 4th amendment argument against taxation had any validity whatsoever, it would necessarily apply equally to any level of government: State and local”…

    My argument isn’t against “taxation”, it is about the inroads to privacy required by the current tax structure, and the vast waste of human resources necessary, from CPA’s to IRS “agents”, to tax lawyers, required to make the system function. Not to mention that so much of what is collected is handed out and spent on militaristic adventures and geo-manipulation, not because it is necessary, but because the money is there and why not?

    Adding national healthcare will simply add to the huge national glut we see before us, 10trillion in debt and climbing, no way to meet the coming demand already forecast…. increased government interference in things that should be private…

    If you hold the policies of the IRS up against the 4th and 5th Amendments, you will see what I am talking about. No right to privacy. No right to a fair trial. Guilty until proven otherwise…

    Not all taxes corrupt the 4th Amendment. Gas tax doesn’t. Usage fees don’t. Even property tax is far less obtrusive than income tax. Every purchase you now make on a credit card is reported to the feds. Why? Because the Dems in Congress thought that its citizens needed watching…

    I personally don’t appreciate having any of my privacy controlled or looked into by government, when it is so unnecessary, and when clowns like GW Bush or even Barack Obama, if he wins, are ignorant enough to think they know how to “run” the entire country. It’s nonsense.

    “Considering I’m Vice Chair of my local Democratic Town Committee…”

    So why don’t you have health care all sewn up? Why isn’t your state fully insured with all its citizens enjoying the fruits of your wondrous healthcare plan?

    Why bother trying to get the feds involved? What are you waiting for?

    If you can’t make your state universal healthcare plan work, why do you think the US government can do it?

    Half the populace is against it. Why make them go along with you?

  153. #153 Scott from Oregon
    August 12, 2008

    It isn’t just Bush you should be against. It’s the improper use of government PERIOD….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9uAw1MnEi8

  154. #154 Bill Dauphin
    August 12, 2008

    Scott from Oregon:

    “Considering I’m Vice Chair of my local Democratic Town Committee…”

    So why don’t you have health care all sewn up? Why isn’t your state fully insured with all its citizens enjoying the fruits of your wondrous healthcare plan?

    Yeah, because pissant local party functionaries are capable of waving a magic wand and making massive social change happen overnight, right? This is what your superior knowledge of the various levels of government has taught you?

    In point of fact, my state rep (whom I personally helped elect) is a strong advocate of healthcare reform at the state level, and my congressman (whom I likewise personally helped elect, and whose campaign fundraiser I attended earlier this evening) is a strong voice for universal healthcare in the Congress.

    But my state rep is working under a Republican governor, and of course my congressman is limited by working with a divided Senate and a know-nothing lame-duck Republican pResident (and besides, he’s a freshman… one of two CT Dems who won previously Republican seats in 2006). Some of us understand that political change comes in small steps, and we struggle to take each of those steps; others just kvetch about the status quo and do nothing.

    Which is to say, while you’re busy pissing on campfires, I’m at least trying to light a match here and there.

    BTW, state programs are good first steps… but national healthcare has to be national in the final analysis; the whole point of insurance (regardless of how it’s funded) is to spread the risk across the largest possible pool. Trying to do it piecemeal across a bunch of small groups with different rules will never work.

  155. #155 Bill Dauphin
    August 12, 2008

    Thanks for being here! :)

    Well, we aim’s to please!

  156. #156 John C. Randolph
    August 12, 2008

    If you can’t make your state universal healthcare plan work, why do you think the US government can do it?

    I think you know the answer to that. Federal interference in the healthcare system drives up the costs for everyone, including any state or local authorities who would like to try their hand at providing it. Resources are limited at the local level, especially with all the un-funded federal mandates they have to comply with.

    -jcr

  157. #157 John C. Randolph
    August 12, 2008

    Trying to do it piecemeal across a bunch of small groups with different rules will never work.

    Actually, it has. There are any number of companies, schools, professional organizations, etc. that offer health insurance to their employees, customers or members.

    Health insurance costs were quite manageable until the mid 1980s or so. The first time I went shopping for health insurance (for the people in my first startup company), the premiums were somewhere less than $200 a month for a single man, and under $300 a month for the one partner we had who needed to cover his wife and kids, too. That was in 1987, IIRC.

    -jcr

  158. #158 John C. Randolph
    August 12, 2008

    The federal government has the power that we give to it

    That’s true in a sense, but keep in mind that the federal government has been steadily expanding its power beyond that given in the constitution, without ever obtaining the explicit permission of the people to do so.

    So, we give it power by failing to yank their chain good and hard whenever they overstep their authority. Even when we do (such as by voting to allow medical marijuana), they will often continue to do whatever the hell they want.

    -jcr

  159. #159 John C. Randolph
    August 12, 2008

    Every purchase you now make on a credit card is reported to the feds. Why? Because the Dems in Congress thought that its citizens needed watching…

    Those kinds of things tend to get slipped into bills by staffers at the behest of lobbyists or bureaucrats who expect to benefit from them. That particular violation of the fourth amendment was probably written by some FBI apparatchik.

    We can only hope that it’s the kind of thing that’s so egregious that litigation will ensue and it will get struck down.

    -jcr

  160. #160 foxfire
    August 12, 2008

    @ #153:

    It’s the improper use of government PERIOD….

    Hi Scott from Oregon. Me too (Yachats). A simple question, which kinda gets back to the point of the initial blog entry:

    How do we, as a species, deal with the fact (please do speak up if you don’t think this is a FACT) that we have overpopulated our planet? By overpopulated I mean procreated such that we cannot maintain a reasonable standard of living for every human on earth (proponents of other species please do not push the issue. That important hypothesis can be discussed later).

    Personally, I don’t think we can deal with this overpopulation on an individual basis and I think that it will take some kind of collective effort to solve this situation. Whether that be some kind of government as we currently understand that term or some kind of emergence of another way of thinking remains to be seen. I’d bet on the latter or that we will become extinct.

    Scott from Oregon, what’s your suggestion? Don’t take this as some kind of “diss” on your position.

    Scott – how do we deal with a situation where one opinion about what is right or wrong impacts another opinion of what is right or wrong without:

    a) Killing one another, or

    b) Establishing some kind of government

    I think (based on your posts) you don’t have an issue with the concept of government, per se, but rather on the nature that government takes with respect to individuals within the governed body. So how do we establish something that can deal with us collectively and respect each of us as unique individuals, when there are so MANY of us?

    The ball is in your court, sir. “I don’t know” counts (in my perspective) as a respectable answer.

  161. #161 uncle frogy
    August 12, 2008

    I think it is wonderful and amazing how this anti-scientific administration decides to redefine conception and abortion. When “it” becomes a human. We had this discussion a few weeks ago I think. PZ reminded us that “life” began over 4 billion years ago and there is no time in that long chain that it was to continuous there was no separate creation out of “slimy mud” a human made.
    I think that is the real crux if the objection to abortion. It suggests a different understanding of reality and that can not be tolerated. It is a part of the obsession with Evolution.
    The idea that things are more complicated and the differences between them is not what it seems. That we are not separated so far from the rest of life.
    It must be resisted, the “story” must be seen to be true. anything that threatens it must be destroyed, even if in the end all that we have built up through reason should collapse. The only thing that I think will prevent the failure and collapse my grandma said to me and she was a “good Methodist” She said she would not go back to the way it was out on the Kansas homestead again she liked the washing machine and the range and all of the other modern conveniences. Most people will not willing give all of that up and when they begin to see that that is the choice they are being asked to make they will choose the easier way every time.
    the “old time religion” will fade to be replaced by some other “orthodoxy” .
    the majority of people do not want to ask very deep questions at all they just want to eat regular and sleep indoors. They do not want to change they really want it to stay the way they remember it. They want the “world” to be like “the Book” says it is and at every turn science says it is plainly not. We are not the center of “creation”.
    I am sleepy now so I will see what gets posted another time.
    uncle frogy

  162. #162 Nico
    August 12, 2008

    As a note to someone above: our universal healthcare system doesn’t require ANY of my medical info being disclosed to the government, and the only financial information they see is my tax return, and I’m pretty sure they have that regardless.

    I suspect people mistake the government will operate as an HMO, but this isn’t the case. Universal care isn’t like medicaid.

    Additionally, we have put the abortion issue to rest, it’s legal here. We also have widely available contraception, and it’s not this big constant moral issue it is in the US.

    I don’t understand the logic where strangers may be entitled to dictate my personal care or choices. It’s strictly between me and my doctor. No one else has a say.

    Additionally, its possible to be “pregnant” but not actual life. Molar pregnancy isn’t apparent at first either, and I wouldn’t consider that to have been life, starting at conception.

  163. #163 Aquaria
    August 12, 2008

    Bill @150:

    Of course you can’t have a discussion with someone like that. He believes that nothing can be accomplished with the big bad Fed…even though all evidence points to how the nations with the highest standards of living…have the biggest, mostly centralized governments. Big governments are corrupt…but he apparently is so uninformed as to realize that 99% of local and state governments have corruption so endemic and corrosive it makes DC look like a virgin’s tea room. Of course, I’m from Texas, so I think corruption in local and state government is SOP, but it didn’t take long of living in, or learning about, other places to realize Texas wasn’t unique in that regard. And the problem isn’t limited to government. Sometimes, I’ve joked that corruption and incompetence are a feature, not a bug, of humans working in groups–of any kind or size. That includes governments, businesses, interest groups–the whole shebang.

    Anyway, our government-hating friend also seems unaware of how the Federal government is all that really protects your average minority from pre-MLK, pre-Steinem practices. States/locals pretty much ignore most anti-discrimination policies, anyway, but now they have to be sneaky about it. At least now they have to work at their bigotry, rather than just practicing it with impunity. They never know when someone will take a beef to the big, bad Fed–the only entity with enough muscle to maybe have a shot at doing anything about it.

    State and local government have done next to nothing for large-scale social change. It’s taken a machine as big as the Fed to do the job. Other than maybe California, states don’t have that kind of muscle. That’s why it will take the Federal government to get Americans decent healthcare. States can’t do it–and their equivalents don’t do it, anywhere! England doesn’t expect shires, London, or smaller municipalities like York or Leeds to provide such a service–they know that pooling resources among the smaller entities makes all of them stronger. And some group of them but not of them has to oversee that process, to make sure that it’s carried out justly. Enter a bigger government structure. This is PoliSci 101.

    And I don’t want to hear about a “market” solution. “The market” has proved that all it cares about is how to maximize profit, with no concern about the effect it has on anyone or anything that gets in the way of that. At least I can complain to my Congressman, and have some chance that something will get done if a state program fucks me over. Complain to an insurance company with any expectation that something will be done?

    Ha

    Haha

    Oh, sorry, but

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Please–that’s just too funny.

  164. #164 Pimientita
    August 12, 2008

    I think (based on your posts) you don’t have an issue with the concept of government, per se, but rather on the nature that government takes with respect to individuals within the governed body. So how do we establish something that can deal with us collectively and respect each of us as unique individuals, when there are so MANY of us?

    I think you have hit the real issue. So many of the idealistic (and I don’t mean that in a negative or condescending way) views on how society should be run would work so very well if the population was smaller or more homogenized. Most of the political theories (Marxism, Libertarianism, Capitalism, etc) look very good on paper, but when we try to strictly apply them to the global, pluralistic societies we have now, they fall apart.

    What we need to do is look at the society we have and figure out how we can work with it and change it based on what we have instead of what we wish we had. Kinda like evolution. Changes can be made based upon the existing structures…not the ones which would be the most ideal, but the ones that work based on current circumstance. Strict adherence to an ideology will only doom us to failure.

  165. #165 John C. Randolph
    August 12, 2008

    Of course you can’t have a discussion with someone like that. He believes

    You know, rhetorically speaking, you’re on very thin ice whenever you presume to state what someone else believes.

    -jcr

  166. #166 John C. Randolph
    August 12, 2008

    So many of the idealistic (and I don’t mean that in a negative or condescending way) views on how society should be run would work so very well if the population was smaller or more homogenized

    Actually, free markets work very well for achieving cooperation among members of diverse populations as well as international trade. We don’t have to have the same beliefs or values to exchange goods and services.

    Got something I want? How much? I can take it or leave it, without knowing or caring whether you agree with me on any other matter besides whether we can agree on the terms of the transaction.

    -jcr

  167. #167 John C. Randolph
    August 12, 2008

    Big governments are corrupt…but he apparently is so uninformed as to realize that 99% of local and state governments have corruption so endemic and corrosive it makes DC look like a virgin’s tea room.

    Given that all governments are corrupt as you say (and it’s not quite that simple), isn’t it advantageous then to limit the scope of the damage they can do?

    There’s a very compelling economic reason that drives corruption in government, which has been called the Willie Sutton principle: that’s where the money is.

    -jcr

  168. #168 True Bob
    August 12, 2008

    At its simplest, national healthcare might be nothing more than extending the existing Medicare program to all citizens.

    We already have socialized medicine for some privileged groups – the militaryduh, Congressduh, and insurance pools, for example. That’s right, “customers” of insurance are already in socialized groups – decisions are made based on group outcomes and characteristics, like how many who pay but need no special care vs how many are expected to get a new cancer this year, etc. It is just self-paying and administered to minimize care expenses and maximize profit for insurance administrators. Some of us think health care is too important to be left to the glorious wonders of the bottom line.

    And wrt the insane policy of contraception = abortion, well those sacred sperm look pretty alive, being wiggly and driven and all. Ergo, condoms are abortions (as are masturbation, early withdrawal*, oral sex, etc). Ladies, get in line, you unthinking breeding machines. It’s just disgusting how these people think.

    *substantial penalty for early withdrawal

  169. #169 Dancaban
    August 12, 2008

    This is open ended and knows no bounds. It’s done to further a religous agenda and a specific one at that. If you ride the back of the tiger then don’t be surprised if you end inside it!

  170. #170 John C. Randolph
    August 12, 2008

    We already have socialized medicine for some privileged groups – the militaryduh, Congressduh, and insurance pools, for example

    Not to mention some distinctly unprivileged groups: veterans, indians on reservations, etc. The record of the VA hospitals in particular is a big part of why I want nothing to do with socialized medicine.

    -jcr

  171. #171 True Bob
    August 12, 2008

    Socialized medicine in the USA is haphazard and farked up. It works very well in many other industrialized countries. I don’t know why that is, but I could guess it’s along the lines of why The Low Countries have sufficient flood control measures, whereas the US does not. Basic flood solution in the USA is “Run away, run away!”

  172. #172 Grammar RWA
    August 12, 2008

    On a last not, WHY is it that abortion is always considered a ‘Woman-thing’. Last time I checked, you still needed 2 people to get someone pregnant, and usually one of those 2 is male. (I read that they managed to impregnate a female pig or something with cells taken from another female pig…that was a while ago, can they do it with humans yet? not really up to date with all that)
    Anyway, assuming a normal 1 man 1 female impregnation, why is abortion almost always treated like it’s the womans decision and the guy has nothing to say in it? I mean, if I were the father, I’d like to have I say in it too. (Assuming we’re in a normal relationship ofc. If I’m a rapist I should obviously get no say in the matter)
    It would be my kid too, you know. Just because all the growing happens inside the woman…it’s half of my genes! (well, maybe not exactly half, I dunno how that works exactly, but you get the point)

    It’s a “woman thing” because women own their own bodies. I know, what a shocker! You thought that because you fucked a woman, you owned her. But no, actually a woman retains her autonomy even after you have an orgasm. (Your ignorance is certainly an argument for better sex education.)

    See, you little control freak, if women own their own bodies, then they are allowed to control what goes on inside their bodies. They are allowed to choose not to be incubators.

    But if men, or the state, is allowed to control women’s bodies, then that means that men, via the state, are the owners of women. I know you’ve got a hard-on for that idea, but you were born in the wrong century.

    What the fuck happened to the Netherlands, that it’s churning out little fascists who salivate about forced birth?

  173. #173 Bill Dauphin
    August 12, 2008

    jcr:

    Given that all governments are corrupt as you say (and it’s not quite that simple),

    Too right, it isn’t that simple. While I’m in substantial agreement with most of what Aquaria wrote, I don’t buy into the right-wing “all governments are corrupt” meme quite so easily. No human institution is perfect, of course, and if you set the threshhold low enough, you could probably characterize any large organization as at least potentially corrupt… but government (at any level) is not inherently more corrupt than any other large organization. Add to that the fact that government operates with vastly greater public transparency than does the private sector, and the net result is almost certainly that government is, on average, less corrupt than the private sector. In fact, one reason government may appear to be more corrupt is that, owing to the transparency of the public sector, whatever government corruption there is is more likely to be exposed and punished than the corresponding skulduggery in the private sector.

    That said…

    isn’t it advantageous then to limit the scope of the damage they can do?

    …you’ve got this exactly backwards: Because state and local governments are smaller than the fed, and because their members represent fewer people (and are elected by fewer voters), the amount of leverage required on the part of somebody attempting to generate corrupt outcomes is smaller. OTOH, on the “scope of damage” side, keep in mind that the vast majority of laws that actually affect your daily life are state statutes and local ordinances, not acts of the federal government.

    I have great faith (supported by a certain amount of direct personal knowledge) that the majority of those who serve in government, either as elected officials or civil servants, are honest, hardworking people whose intent is to genuinely serve the public good. But state legislators are (in most states) paid only part-time salaries for a job that’s harder than it looks, and that places significant restrictions on their ability to work in other jobs. The right wing’s mythology of the Common Man is that modest financial circumstances are somehow ennobling; the truth is modest financial circumstances are often humbling, and can tempt even the best of us to cut corners. Notwithstanding the faith I have in their general honesty, if I had the goal of “buying” influence in government, it’s clear to me that approaching state legislators would give me the most “bang for the buck.”

    True Bob:

    Some of us think health care is too important to be left to the glorious wonders of the bottom line.

    Tell it, Brother!

    Aquaria:

    At least I can complain to my Congressman, and have some chance that something will get done if a state program fucks me over.

    Yes you can, and in my experience, Congresscritters and state reps are surprisingly attentive and responsive, once you get to know them.

    Let me encourage everyone who really wants to work for change to get personally involved in politics: Join your local political party committee, and volunteer for campaigns. Not only will you meet like-minded citizens (and probably make new friends), you’ll also get to know your representatives personally… and nothing will restore your faith in our society like the sense of empowerment you’ll get.

  174. #174 Beowulff
    August 12, 2008

    Rik at #105:

    If you’re a teenager and where stupid enough to get yourself pregnant, however, I feel strongly inclined to force you AND THE FATHER, because it’s partially his fault too, to have it and take care of it, and maybe you’ll learn some fucking responsibility and what physical integrity is really all about.
    I mean, I’m not against you having sex. Just use contraceptives.

    Simple question for you: what if they were using contraceptives, but they failed? It’s rare, but it happens. Then what? Are you still going to force them to keep it, even though they have been responsible? If not, then where is the limit of how irresponsible you can be before you are forced to keep the baby? Is forgetting the pill once too irresponsible already? Or twice? Or using condoms with long fingernails? And who gets to decide? You? Some committee? A judge? Remember, it could happen to you just as easily, so if you’d ever find yourself in such a predicament, you’d better hope the judge has different inclinations than you.

    And using a baby as punishment… sheesh. Are you seriously suggesting a child should grow up resented by its parents, just to teach the parents a lesson in responsibility?

    About the “woman-thing”: in a good relationship, the subject of abortion should indeed be discussed between both partners (preferably even before there is a pregnancy) and ideally come to a shared decision one way or the other. But the man will have to accept that the woman has the final say. After all, it is her body, and she’s the one running all the risks. I don’t see what’s so difficult about this, really.

    It’s also beyond me how you can complain about the current Dutch administration “trying its hardest to remove some of our hard-wrought freedoms” and then advocate limiting those freedoms yourself.

  175. #175 Tulse
    August 12, 2008

    Not to mention some distinctly unprivileged groups: veterans, indians on reservations, etc. The record of the VA hospitals in particular is a big part of why I want nothing to do with socialized medicine.

    Those groups get treated that way largely because they are unprivileged and relatively powerless. If they were in the same plan as used by Congress, you can bet they would get great health care.

    Universal health care works in large part because it is universal, and thus everyone in invested in it working properly. Is it any surprise that health care systems that serve the poor don’t work well? When politicians and bureaucrats have to use the same health care system as everyone else, there is much greater incentive to see it work well. (For that matter, when the upper and middle class use the same health system that is available to the poor, there is incentive to see everyone get good care.)

  176. #176 True Bob
    August 12, 2008

    I have great faith (supported by a certain amount of direct personal knowledge) that the majority of those who serve in government, either as elected officials or civil servants, are honest, hardworking people whose intent is to genuinely serve the public good.

    Thanks, Bill. I’m one of those unsung civil servants. In my experience (a little over 26 years), nearly everyone I’ve worked with (civil servants) are honest, hardworking, and really do want to help the country.

    Where I’ve observed problems is largely from appointees, who always have an agenda, and from the “run gummint like a bidness” crowd. These two overlap a lot, lately. I have a very hard time accepting that blanket approach. There is no market for so many things gummint does.

    If it weren’t invented solely to privatize, we wouldn’t have privately operated prisons. I am in FAA, where our ostensible priority is safety. No $ in that, so I snidely say our not-so-hidden mission is “keep airlines profitable”. Our current approach has guess who as the “customer”? It isn’t “the flying public”.

    When I worked for DoN, I mocked the concept, saying “privatize the military – hire mercenaries”. Well fuck me if that didn’t come true.

    And in the meantime, the actual expenditures by gummint have soared, largely to create phony competition and disassemble gummint functions, for the benefit of the plutocracy.

    Deep breath. This is a pretty personal issue for me, and I find agreement with very diverse civil servants, from me (token atheist left-wing loony*) to my hard-over right-wing, ACLU-hating, gun-porn loving, bible thumpers. We all believe that there are many inherently governmental functions that are being sold off to unaccountable corporations.

    *This is only in comparison to the perceived Merkin mainstream. I’m probably still right of the rest of the world’s leftists.

  177. #177 True Bob
    August 12, 2008

    Right on, Tulse. In fact, I know how to permanently fix social security. Require Congress to use it. You can bet that would get straightened up in a heartbeat.

  178. #178 Josh K
    August 12, 2008

    @Bill Dauphin

    Evidently you two subscribe to the notion that Government is inherently evil and can never be trusted.

    Note: I can only speak for me.

    Call it a matter of degree.
    My working principle is that a government that governs least, governs best (yah, cliche, I know). Based on some of your comments you probably feel this way also…we just differ on our definition of ‘least’.

    For instance, I think we can both agree that GWB has taken the power of the executive branch to terrifing places; I don’t want this to happen again, and I will go out on a limb here and say you probably agree with me.

    I, OTOH, refuse to believe that we’re trapped in an eternal lion-tamer’s act, with nothing but a whip and a gun stopping us from being devoured.

    Hmmmmm….well….perhaps if more of us engaged in this action, we wouldn’t have the current administration? Or their damage would have been minimized? :)

    Consider: if a significant majority of folks in the US had cast a skeptical eye on GWB when he was calling for a war in Iraq, would we now be there?

    As such, it’s probably impossible for us to say anything meaningful to each other, since we start from such divergent premises.

    I don’t think our premises are *that* different. You have not, at least for me, bumped up against a core value (if I have such a thing).

    Look, my immediate objection was to your first post, which I would paraphrase as national healthcare would have prevented the refusal of care on religious grounds. All that would do is change the forum; it doesn’t address the actual issue which in my mind boil down to the real *need* to reaffirm the US as a secular state.

    I *do* also object to a seemingly common view (not really at you directly) that national healthcare will be some kind of panacea. Sure, other countries do it, and do it well; why can’t we? I don’t mean that rhetorically; we’re making a mess of social security over here and I can’t say I’m comfortable with the idea of socialized medicine until we either figure out and fix social security (demonstrating we can actually manage a social entitlement program) or analyse how socialized medicine is done and present it as a real option…not just a series of soundbytes on the election trail.

    There’s nothing *inherently* wrong with socialized medicine any more than socialized policing, socialized space exploration, socialized freeways, socialized defense, socialized trade, etc, etc. We *are* the government, and if enough of us want it, let’s hold a referendum, demonstrate that it will work and won’t break the bank, and vote on it.

  179. #179 Scott from Oregon
    August 12, 2008

    “BTW, state programs are good first steps… but national healthcare has to be national in the final analysis; the whole point of insurance (regardless of how it’s funded) is to spread the risk across the largest possible pool. Trying to do it piecemeal across a bunch of small groups with different rules will never work”.

    Let’s just take Oregon as an example, because I live here. We are a small state, with lots of trees, and only one major city to speak of, Portland, that has some technical businesses.

    If no Oregonian had to pay federal income tax, and the federal government released the land it holds and put it back into the control of the state, we could have an awesome health system up and running in no time. We could build more homeless shelters and maintain a fine food bank program and offer dental to those who can’t afford it.

    Right now, our forests timber sales basically go to Iraq and pay mercenaries, because the federal government thinks it is in the world changing business.

    (And the management of the forests by the feds has resulted in a lot of sick trees).

  180. #180 Scott from Oregon
    August 12, 2008

    “on the “scope of damage” side, keep in mind that the vast majority of laws that actually affect your daily life are state statutes and local ordinances, not acts of the federal government”.

    So then WHY does all the money flow through Washington again?

    “But state legislators are (in most states) paid only part-time salaries for a job that’s harder than it looks, and that places significant restrictions on their ability to work in other jobs”.

    Could this be because the money is being removed from the state by federal claws and then spent on naval bases and jet fuel?

  181. #181 Bill Dauphin
    August 12, 2008

    JoshK:

    Thanks for the thoughtful response.

    My working principle is that a government that governs least, governs best….

    This is why I think we really do have a fundamental philosophical disagreement, because…

    Based on some of your comments you probably feel this way also…we just differ on our definition of ‘least’.

    …no, I emphatically do not “feel this way also.” I think a government that governs leastbest, governs best, and I reject the (IMHO completely arbitrary) notion smaller and/or less active government is inherently preferable. I want government to do the things we (as a society) agree it should do, and to do them effectively… and I want it to be whatever size it needs to be to accomplish that goal (and, BTW, I’m willing to pay my fair share to make it so, plus a little more to offset those less fortunate who can’t afford to pay anything).

    I suspect you may have thought I would agree with your formulation because of comments I’ve made about government intrusion into areas of personal liberty (specifically, intrusions into our bedrooms, as discussed in the recent and ongoing thread on marriage laws and adultery)… but where we part company is that I don’t make the equation (which seems to me implicit in your position; forgive me if I misunderstand) between that sort of over-reaching and all governing in general. (As an example, I’m a big fan of the 4th Amendment and have railed against the pResident’s program of warrantless wiretapping… but it does not follow that I accept Scott from Oregon’s argument that the income tax violates the 4th because it necessitates revealing one’s income.)

    I view government as our collective management and regulation of our society for our mutual benefit. I think you and I would likely have vast disagreements about the number and types of things that require (or could benefit from) such management and regulation. Fundamentally, I see government as not only necessary but in principle inherently good. When government goes wrong (as all things human sometimes do), my preferred response is to fix it, which I do not assume automatically means shrink or eliminate it.

    Consider: if a significant majority of folks in the US had cast a skeptical eye on GWB when he was calling for a war in Iraq, would we now be there?

    Oh, I’m all for subjecting candidates to the most rigorous possible scrutiny. But taking a skeptical approach to “job applicants” for government is entirely different from taking a cynical approach to government as an institution. The latter, IMHO, leads to worse outcomes, not better ones: How many people in 2000 voted for Nader because they’d been told there was no difference between Repubs and Dems? How many didn’t vote at all because their right-wing and/or libertarian friends had told them the government was inherently corrupt in any case, and so they concluded voting didn’t matter?

    If we could promote a more hopeful, positive understanding of government’s role in our lives, perhaps we as an electorate would be a bit more serious about electing smart, honest candidates.

    Look, my immediate objection was to your first post, which I would paraphrase as national healthcare would have prevented the refusal of care on religious grounds.

    I’m a big fan of national healthcare, but in this case I was making the following narrowly limited argument: The federal government is specifically forbidden by the 1st Amendment from discriminating against me on a religious basis, but private entities may claim their own 1st Amendment rights that arguably compete with mine. Thus, a Catholic hospital can argue that they can deny certain services to me or my family because their own 1st Amendment right to freedom of religion competes with my right to receive treatment. We might fight the Catholic hospital, and we might win… but a federally operated hospital could make no such argument in the first place, so the fight would never come up.

    All that would do is change the forum; it doesn’t address the actual issue which in my mind boil down to the real *need* to reaffirm the US as a secular state.

    The federal government is “the US as a secular state.” No private-sector entity is required to be secular, nor can it be. Arguing for a weaker, smaller federal government is the polar opposite of an effective way of promoting a secular state.

    There’s nothing *inherently* wrong with socialized medicine any more than socialized policing, socialized space exploration, socialized freeways, socialized defense, socialized trade, etc, etc. We *are* the government, and if enough of us want it, let’s hold a referendum, demonstrate that it will work and won’t break the bank, and vote on it.

    Gee, I actually do agree with pretty much all of this… but it strikes me as contradictory to your intial premise that, when it comes to government, least=best.

  182. #182 Cactus Wren
    August 12, 2008

    Scott: You got yourself banned from Slacktivist for harassing the blogmaster, wasn’t that enough?

    Bill Daughin and Maxi: Scott has more than “serious trust issues”; and yes, he would most assuredly consider collecting taxes “unreasonable seizure”. If this is the Scott I remember from Fred Clark’s blog, he’s a wild-eyed Libertarian, and like most such, he has a two-year-old child’s attitude towards the idea of sharing: “MIIINNNNNNNNE!!!”

    Rik:

    If you’re a teenager and where stupid enough to get yourself pregnant, however, I feel strongly inclined to force you AND THE FATHER, because it’s partially his fault too, to have it and take care of it, and maybe you’ll learn some fucking responsibility and what physical integrity is really all about.

    Oh, now that’s a good idea. A girl in her teens was too stupid/ignorant/irresponsible to use contraception – let’s put a HELPLESS INFANT in her care.

    It may not be a very good argument, but I feel that if you’re irresponsible enough to get yourself pregnant at that age maybe you should live with the consequences and maybe you’ll be less of an idiot next time.

    The problem is that the baby has to “live with the consequences” as well.

    On a last not, WHY is it that abortion is always considered a ‘Woman-thing’.

    Because labor is a “woman-thing”.

    Because prenatal nutrition is a “woman thing”.

    Because cardiomyopathy of pregnancy is a “woman thing”.

    Because toxemia is a “woman thing”.

    Because placenta previa is a “woman thing”.

    Because cervical tearing is a “woman thing”.

    Because cystocele is a “woman thing”.

    Because having to pee every hour, day and night, because a four-kilogram weight is resting directly on your bladder is a “woman thing”.

    Because gestational diabetes is a “woman thing”.

    Because eclampsia is a “woman thing”.

    Because giving birth is a “woman thing”.

    Because A WOMAN’S BODY (you know, the place where the pregnancy is happening?) is a “woman thing”.

    Wowbagger:

    I can’t think of too many things more ridiculous than to allow people to refuse to serve/dispense something that clashes with their religious beliefs? Someone mentioned upthread that it’s the same as giving people the right to not serve overweight people unhealthy food and that’s a great analogy.

    My own preferred analogy is to a PeTA member getting a job as server in a restaurant and refusing to serve any customer who ordered a dish containing meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products – while still demanding to be paid standard wages.

  183. #183 khan
    August 12, 2008

    Right on, Tulse. In fact, I know how to permanently fix social security. Require Congress to use it. You can bet that would get straightened up in a heartbeat.

    Federal senators and representatives have been under social security for more than 20 years.

  184. #184 True Bob
    August 12, 2008

    khan, I should have written a tad more:

    Require Congress to use it as their only means of retirement income.

  185. #185 Bill Dauphin
    August 12, 2008

    True Bob:

    Require Congress to use [Social Security] as their only means of retirement income.

    Why ever? Social Security was never intended to be anybody’s only means of retirement income. It was always intended to provide supplemental income.

    JOOC, does anybody really think members of Congress really personalize (or depersonalize, depending on how you look at it) their approach to policy this way? Do you think your rep is sitting there thinking “OK, since my own retirement is secure, I’m going to ignore my constituents whose retirements are not secure?” It has not been my experience that elected representatives are motivated (demotivated?) in that way.

  186. #186 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    August 12, 2008

    As long as a good chunk of the US electorate reflexively responds to the “universal healthcare = communist dictatorship” meme, nothing will be accomplished.

  187. #187 Josh K
    August 12, 2008

    @Bill Dauphin

    Thank you for the reply; you defend your point of view very well.

    …no, I emphatically do not “feel this way also.” I think a government that governs best, governs best

    Least = best works, err, best as a rule of thumb, not a hard and fast rule.

    It is based on the assumption that governments (hell, any powerful institution) have a tendency to expand on it’s own, gathering more and more power unto itself than was originally chartered. Thus, we must be conscious this will occur and be aware that, as an institution, this tendency toward growth can very easy become counterproductive to our original intent. In some cases this is as simple as “we better use up our whole budget this year, even on silly stuff, otherwise we’ll get cut next year”.

    If you disagree with my assumption that powerful institutions tend to grow on their own, beyond their original charter, then yes, we have a fundamental disagreement. “Best = best”, though, just begs the question, yes?

    There’s nothing *inherently* wrong with socialized medicine any more than socialized policing, socialized space exploration, socialized freeways, socialized defense, socialized trade, etc, etc. We *are* the government, and if enough of us want it, let’s hold a referendum, demonstrate that it will work and won’t break the bank, and vote on it.

    Gee, I actually do agree with pretty much all of this… but it strikes me as contradictory to your intial premise that, when it comes to government, least=best.

    “least” != “none”. A big project that’s worthy of being done is still a big project, and requires the resources and infrastucture to pull it off. I’m not an anarchist, which would be the extreme end of the logic of “least = best”. There are many, many good uses for any social construct, of which government is one.

    Fundamentally, I see government as not only necessary but in principle inherently good.

    Hmmmmm…I see government as necessary, but not inherently altruistic. So, yah, we’re not going to agree here. If you have any links or authors behind why you feel a government would be “inherently good”, I’ll read ‘em…well, at least I’ll add them to my reading list. Too many books, too little time.

    but a federally operated hospital could make no such argument in the first place, so the fight would never come up.

    I concede the point, and apologize for putting you through the paces on it.

    My thought process was “making the institution larger won’t change the nature of the debate” to which you essentially replied “I’m not making the process larger, I’m moving it to a level in which religious prefence is not a valid argument by the caregiver”. Well stated!

    I think you and I would likely have vast disagreements about the number and types of things that require (or could benefit from) such management and regulation.

    Maybe. I like to think we’d also find a lot of common ground. Some of my fundamental views may differ from your fundamental views, but I’m not a crank.

  188. #188 Bill Dauphin
    August 12, 2008

    Naked Bunny (O, how I loved typing that!):

    As long as a good chunk of the US electorate reflexively responds to the “universal healthcare = communist dictatorship” meme, nothing will be accomplished.

    Yah, our quasi-religious aversion to anything with the faintest scent of socialism is one of the biggest obstacles.

    Another is somewhat more legitimate: Replacing our current private-sector based system with any version of a truly national single-payer system would necessarily involve a huge amount of economic disruption in the existing industry. It’s easy to say “screw ‘em; they’re just corporate profiteers”… but “they” are really mostly employees and shareholders… just middle-class Americans like me. It’s not so easy to tear up that many lives, even if it is ultimately for the greater good. That’s something many people don’t seem to “get” when it comes to social change: It’s not sufficient to know what the “end state” needs to be; you must also have a plan to get there without wrecking everything in the process.

    This is why I don’t get too frustrated with the modest, half-way healthcare plans proposed by Democrats in this election cycle: For both economic and societal reasons, I’m quite sure we’re going to have to go through some middle-ground steps before we can get to the truly universal, totally government-funded system I’m quite convinced we ultimately need.

  189. #189 Tulse
    August 12, 2008

    Do you think your rep is sitting there thinking “OK, since my own retirement is secure, I’m going to ignore my constituents whose retirements are not secure?” It has not been my experience that elected representatives are motivated (demotivated?) in that way.

    I can guarantee you that if members of Congress had to rely solely on Medicare, Medicare would be much better. I can guarantee you that if representatives had to live in public housing in Washington DC, you’d see much better public housing. I can guarantee that if senators relied solely on pensions from Enron, there would have been a much bigger stink about its collapse. And if it were possible to outsource Congress overseas, I can assure you that there would be much greater concern about domestic job losses.

    This isn’t to say that many, if not most, politicians aren’t motivated by a genuine desire to do good. But it is far easier to see what the good is, and to understand the situation of the people you are representing, when you have the experiences of those people.

  190. #190 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    August 12, 2008

    Bill: Yeah, I have no problem with incremental changes, especially to the large and complex web that exist now. It’s a change, at least, and sitting back to wait for things to stabilize — and see how well they work — is a good idea. Sure, I’d love it if we could reform the whole system in one big sweep and nobody got hurt, but I’m a warm, fuzzy little pragmatist at heart.

  191. #191 Peter Ashby
    August 12, 2008

    The civil marriage celebrant in London who won her employment case did so because the local authority did not follow every part of the law relating to her dismissal etc absolutely exactly and correctly. Employment lawyers make a good living because they choose to prosecute these cases instead of working for personnel departments. IOW people in personnel depts invariably make mistakes because they are non perfectly trained/educated grunts. Of course the people that employed these less than competent people and the people who ensured the money wasn’t there to employ competent people don’t have to face any consequences…

  192. #192 xavier
    August 12, 2008

    With regard to the notion of life starting at the moment of conception:

    Identical twins are made when the already fertilised egg has divided a few times. Therefore at least one of the two separate lives came into being at some point AFTER conception.

    (OR all conception events create at least 3-4 lives but in most cases all but one are murdered by their surviving sibling. I expect that a foetus could be tried as an adult, in Texas at least, and the surviving foetus could be executed in utero, which should keep the wingnuts happy.)

  193. #193 Robin Levett
    August 12, 2008

    @Peter Ashby (#191):

    The civil marriage celebrant in London who won her employment case did so because the local authority did not follow every part of the law relating to her dismissal etc absolutely exactly and correctly.

    No. Just…no. This is a meme gaining wide currency in the UK, but it isn’t based on any valid analysis of the case. To start with, she wasn’t dismissed, and she wasn’t claiming constructive dismissal. Had she done so, she might have had a case (albeit not one based on religious discrimination), but her claim was explicitly and entirely based upon an allegation of religious discrimination. The Employment Tribunal just got it wrong – badly.

  194. #194 H
    August 12, 2008

    Anyway, assuming a normal 1 man 1 female impregnation, why is abortion almost always treated like it’s the womans decision and the guy has nothing to say in it? I mean, if I were the father, I’d like to have I say in it too.

    Right, so what happens when your say and her say fundamentally differ? You want a baby, she wants an abortion. She wants a baby, YOU want an abortion. So what happens? She has half a baby? Half an abortion? NB: ‘Adoption’ doesn’t count as a compromise – that’s falls under ‘having a baby’, in case you didn’t know. As does ‘you have it and I’ll adopt it’.

    Men who say they think they should ‘have a say’ in whether the woman they deposited sperm in has a baby or gets an abortion are either not living in reality, where one simply cannot compromise and have half a baby or half an abortion, or are using ‘have a say’ as dudely code for ‘she should STFU and do whatever I fucking well want when I fucking well want it’.

    The point is that this isn’t a situation two people can compromise on without overriding the woman’s bodily integrity and making a mockery of her legal and human rights to self-determination. The position of least harm is that the ball remains fairly and squarely in the woman’s court.

    As for your idea of forcing KIDS to have kids as a punishment – words fail me. If you advocate this, you advocate forced birth, birth as punishment for sex and kids bringing up kids. Anyone who would say such a thing has either simply not thought through their idea to its logical end or is, at heart, a forced-birther, same as any fundie Xtian nutbag protesting an abortion clinic.

    Oh, and I’d have thought someone who lived in Holland, a world leader in sex education, would know that all methods of contraception have a failure rate even with proper use. Condoms break or slip off; the pill doesn’t absorb due to stomach upsets or medication interactions or the woman’s body basically disagreeing with it on some fundamental level. People who wind up pregnant are not necessarily people who did not use contraception, although it generally benefits forced-birthers to paint them as so.

  195. #195 chgo_liz
    August 12, 2008

    I believe that most prescription drugs have a warning on them to not take without express approval from your doctor if pregnant or possibly about to become pregnant. This is because almost everything a pharmacist dispenses is a potential abortificant.

    Must be hard to do your job if you can’t fill any prescription for any woman between the ages of 13-55.

  196. #196 Iain Walker
    August 13, 2008

    Jon (#114):

    If you agree with this thinking, then as applied to a fetus I think you’d have to conclude that it does deserve legal protection. It is naturally and foreseeably cognitive, just like a comatose person that is expected to recover.

    The flaw in this analogy is that someone in a coma is already a person. A foetus is not.

    The attributes of personhood (self-awareness, agency etc) are capacities and dispositions that one possesses even when one is not exercising them (just as a lion is a carnivore even when it isn’t eating meat). That’s why you don’t exclude the sleeping, comatose or drunk from your moral considerations. A foetus, on the other hand, lacks those capacities and dispositions – unlike the person in a coma, it hasn’t acquired them yet. So the two situations really aren’t comparable.

    To use a fighter pilot metaphor: A person in a coma has already earned their wings – they’re just currently off the active duty roster. A foetus hasn’t even started basic flight training. In Battlestar Galactica-speak, they don’t even qualify as nuggets.

  197. #197 kelebek
    October 20, 2008

    If you agree with this thinking, then as applied to a fetus I think you’d have to conclude that it does deserve legal protection. It is naturally and foreseeably cognitive, just like a comatose person that is expected to recover. ……….

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