20 Arguments Against Abortion, Rebutted (4 of 4)

This is the final part of a series of posts exploring pro-life arguments. Read Part 1 here.

16. If you’re so smart, where do you draw the line?

I don’t. I find that pro-life advocates quickly turn the conversation to the definition of the OK/not-OK line for abortion, hoping to find something to criticize. I avoid this, both because it diverts attention from the spectrum argument—the main point I want to make—and because I have no opinion about the line and am happy to leave it up to the experts.

Legislatures make these kinds of distinctions all the time. In fact, in the hundreds of jurisdictions around the world where abortion is regulated, they already have.

17. Imagine a woman seeing an ultrasound of her unborn baby. Sometimes the hands and feet are visible, and the baby is sometimes sucking its thumb. Why aren’t such images shown to women considering abortions as part of informed consent?

Let’s consider this proposal only after adding conditions to make it practical.

This should be an option rather than part of a mandatory gauntlet forced on women considering abortion.

This should not be the first time the woman has seen this information. That is, public education should teach about the stages of fetal development as part of comprehensive sex education that would minimize the chances of her having this unwanted pregnancy in the first place.

The woman’s choices should be made available as soon as possible. Putting obstacles in her way—by closing down nearby clinics, encouraging pharmacists to refuse to offer morning-after pills, and so on—increases the age of the fetus she must consider aborting. If an abortion is to happen, let’s make it early so that the woman doesn’t see a fetus sucking its thumb.

18. But the fetus is innocent, and we always protect the innocent.

Some things are on a spectrum of innocent/guilt (adults, say), but other things are not (squirrels, rocks). The squirrel may have shorted out the transformer, and the rock may have been used to whack someone on the head, but neither the squirrel nor the rock were guilty of what we interpret as bad. But you wouldn’t call them innocent either; it makes no sense to say they were even on that spectrum. A fetus is also not on that innocent/guilty spectrum. It doesn’t have the capacity to be in that spectrum.

One commenter observed that it’s a moral decision either way. If you choose life, you condemn that baby to his life. That is, you force life upon it, and every life has suffering. This may not be an easy choice, but who’s in a better position than the mother-to-be to decide?

19. Let’s suppose that we’re doubtful that the unborn child is a human being with human rights. Given this uncertainty, shouldn’t we err on the side of the child?

A fetus is not a person. Play games with the name all you want (“The fetus is a Homo sapiens, ‘human being’ is simply a synonym, and if a fetus is a human being, it must have human rights!”), but there’s no ambiguity here. Despite your word games, a newborn baby is still not the same thing as a single cell. There is a spectrum.

Worse, you pretend that there is no downside—as if carrying a pregnancy to term was a “What the heck?” kind of thing. Bringing a baby into the world where it is unwanted or won’t be cared for properly is a gargantuan downside. It’d be refreshing to hear a pro-lifer say, “Okay, an abortion would be a smart thing from the standpoint of your education, career, life, family, finances, happiness, and so on. I’ll grant you that. But it’s still morally wrong.”

I could look at a cow and think “hamburger,” while you could look at it and think “pet.” These are two different bins that are valid from two different standpoints. Similarly, one woman could think “baby” and the other “a clump of cells that is standing in the way of my life dreams.” If you want to see it as a baby from day one, that’s fine, just don’t impose that view on the rest of the country. Illegal abortion means forced pregnancy.

This is a bit like Sharia law. Hey, if you want to constrain yourself with Sharia law, go ahead. Just don’t do it to the rest of us.

20. Have you seen the cartoon where the cancer patient shakes his fist at God for giving him cancer? God replies, “I sent someone to cure cancer, but your society aborted him.”

The Atheist Pig has some nice rebuttals. Let’s imagine God instead saying, “I sent someone to cure cancer … but she died after being denied an abortion despite her high-risk pregnancy.”

Or: “… but he died, having been denied appropriate medical care because his parents insisted that only prayer was the response to illness.”

Or: “… but he killed himself as a teenager after being relentlessly bullied by Christians for being gay.”

Or: “… but she lost interest in science because her public school watered it down to satisfy Christian extremists.”

Let’s not imagine that the Christian path is always the best path.

Abortion and the Christian worldview

Many Christians with whom I’ve discussed abortion have a naive desire to have their cake and eat it too—no abortion and no premarital sex. In a primitive society where kids got married upon sexual maturity, that happened by itself. But when maturity happens earlier because of better nutrition and marriage happens later because of more education and social customs, we have a gap of a decade or more where young adults are sexually mature but not married. Wishful thinking won’t get us safely across. (I defend premarital sex here.)

Christians often point to embarrassing aspects of society during Old Testament times such as slavery or polygamy and say that that was simply a different culture. They operated by different rules. Okay, let’s accept that logic. Just extend the list of “things that made sense back then but don’t now” to include an abstinence-only approach to premarital sex.

Read part 1 here.

God does not regard the fetus as a soul,
no matter how far gestation has progressed.
The Law plainly exacts:
“If a man kills any human life he will be put to death” (Lev. 24:17).
But according to Exodus 21:22–24,
the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense…
Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother,
the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.
— Bruce Waltke (Dallas Theological Seminary) source

Answer to the puzzle: the middle embryo is the human one (at 5 weeks). More here.

(This is a modified version of a post originally published 2/20/12.)

Photo credit: Devo ASU Blog, Mouse Embryo, UNSW Embryology

About Bob Seidensticker
  • RichardSRussell

    What it always comes down to, for Christians (tho they’ll hardly ever say so out loud), is that they think a fertilized egg has a soul, and that’s what makes all the difference. There’s no evidence whatsoever that this is true — that there even is such a thing as a soul — but if evidence worked on these folx, they wouldn’t be Christians in the 1st place.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      What is claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

      • Itarion

        Even if they turn around and try to use the lack of evidence as evidence?

        • Alex Harman

          Especially when they do that; that destroys their credibility on every other topic as well.

    • Kodie

      I think all the protests do link back to this notion. These are all emotional arguments.

  • PNW

    Quick question, why do you support abortion with this ‘spectrum argument’ rather than bodily autonomy? If you address that in the spectrum article, I am about to go read that next.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Because the spectrum argument seems much more difficult to wriggle away from.

      Your mileage may vary.

      • wlad

        The spectrum argument works ONLY before viability–zygote, embryo, or 18 week fetus is obviously NOT a child. Doesn’t work after viability.

        After viability, pro-abortion people use the bodily autonomy argument–bodily autonomy trumps the right of the child’s right to life.

        Bob, you do not believe that the fetus becomes a baby at birth, or a second before birth, right? I asked that in an earlier post, and I believed that was not your view. Or a week before birth? It seems you draw the line when that happens at viability-24 weeks or so.

        But, after that, all the way to birth, bodily autonomy of the woman trumps the rights of the child to life. Bodily autonomy does not accept the spectrum argument–there is no time deadline–all the way to birth. Bodily autonomy doesn’t say–bodily autonomy trumps baby’s rights only until the eight month, or seventh month, or sixth month.

        Spectrum argument doesn’t work after viability. You certainly accept the bodily argument for abortion. So does it hold all the way up to birth, or do you now have a new line?

        • Kodie

          Just get an abortion earlier and don’t let a busybody like Wlad talk you out of it.

        • Ron

          This is a moot point given that over 98% of all abortions occur prior to the 21st week of gestation.

          And the most effective way to lower the number of abortions performed is to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. The report I linked to earlier makes the following recommendations:

          Providing women and men with the knowledge and resources necessary to make decisions about their sexual behavior and use of contraception can help them avoid unintended pregnancies. […]

          Research has shown that providing no-cost contraception increases use of the most effective methods and can reduce abortion rates.

          Removing cost as one barrier to the use of the most effective contraceptive methods might therefore be an important way to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and consequently the number of abortions that are performed in the United States.

          Are you willing to commit to that goal?

        • wlad

          Absolutely not.
          The great explosion of abortions happened when people began thinking that having sex could really be separated from having children. And no matter how hard they tried to separate sex from reproduction, no matter what method they chose, or how many different methods of contraception–even two at a time, they were surprised and dismayed that having sex produced babies!
          They had sex without being ready or willing to be parents.

          Their choice after Roe v Wade was abortion.
          Contraception brought in the problem of abortion.

          More contraception only makes the problem worse.

          When people realize that having sex causes babies despite their best efforts, and only have sex when they are ready to be a parent committed to that child for life.

        • tyler

          pretty much all scientific and historical research ever says you’re wrong on basically all counts.

          i recognize that you are catholic but that does not mean you have to accept every blatant bit of misinformation the church puts out.

        • wlad

          The Church doesn’t teach that contraception causes abortions. It teaches that EVERY sexual act has to open to life–NOT every sexual act has to result in a life.. It means that every child is wanted, even if it is unexpected. Not killed if unwanted. And it teaches that one never has sex if they are not in a committed marriage relationship for life.

          A lot of Catholics choose not to follow church teaching on the issue of sexual morality, and those who do not end up have the same problems of premarital sex, and abortion.

        • Kodie

          Why should anyone care what your church teaches?

        • tyler

          then why on earth are you saying these blatantly untrue things

          we know that contraception doesn’t lead to abortions, we know that premarital sex doesn’t cause these problems you are referring to, we know that abortion is not a new thing (there is a ritual in the bible for inducing abortions for goodness sake!), and we know that better access to contraception and sexual education actually reduces abortions

          i don’t understand why i have to keep telling you this but if you’re going to take such a strong position then for the love of all that is good could you maybe please present an argument that is not founded on blatant lies because it feels as though you expect myself and others to just accept this easily google-able misinformation as fact and it is very difficult to be civil with someone who apparently has such a low opinion of my intelligence

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It means that every child is wanted, even if it is unexpected. Not killed if unwanted. And it teaches that one never has sex if they are not in a committed marriage relationship for life.

          Not every pregnancy is wanted. People will have sex before getting married. These are facts. Open your eyes and deal with them.

          the same problems of premarital sex, and abortion.

          I’ve got an idea! By redefining these as non-problems, they become non-problems. Cool.

        • Miss_Beara

          Couples choose to abort pregnancies even if they are married for a variety of reasons. It is not just single slutty mcslut women.

        • Itarion

          And not all of them are Scottish, either.

        • Lyra Belaqua

          I can assure you that Catholics who choose to follow Catholic dogma are at just as high risk of needing an abortion in a high-risk pregnancy. They might decide to not have one though, and just die. Because, ya know. a man in wearing a dress in Europe tells them it’s better if 2 die than 1. Despite any damage this causes their family, their born children, or their friends & loved ones.

        • Alex Harman

          “When people … only have sex when they are ready to be a parent committed to that child for life” refers to a time that never was and never will be. However, “when people only have sex without contraception when they are ready to be a parent committed to that child for life” is something we might conceivably achieve; it’s at least a realistic, if somewhat utopian, goal for humanists and transhumanists to strive toward.

          The one word that best summarizes the Catholic Church’s teachings on sex is inhuman. The Church has made rules for an imaginary primate, Homo catholicus, and is trying to impose them on the real species Homo sapiens against our human nature. It can’t ever work. In that regard, it’s much like the right-wing/libertarian economic theories that are designed for the equally mythical Homo economicus.

        • smrnda

          So.. why the fuck do I care what the church teaches? My cult teaches that once you open a bottle of bourbon, the whole thing must be consumed within 20 minutes.

          Are you suggesting that women need to be forcibly reprogrammed to always want babies?

        • Alex Harman

          Reminds me of the joke about the Irish version of Judgment Day: one of the tests you face is being suspended head-down in a barrel of all the liquor you’ve ever spilled. If the volume is enough to drown you, off to Hell you go.

        • smrnda

          I think I might survive the Irish Judgment Day :-)

        • Alex Harman

          So would I; those of us who don’t drink liquor rarely spill it.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Having sex can produce a pregnancy. And eating a sandwich can choke you to death. So what?

          You’re living in a fantasy world. Teens in the West today live in a world that simply didn’t exist a century ago–most have over a decade from sexual maturity to marriage. That’s just a fact. To stamp your little feet and demand that they all remain celibate is ridiculous. How infantile are you?

          Let me suggest a harm reduction approach: thorough sex education and easy access to contraception will reduce abortions from today’s high numbers (Wlad, this is where you cheer), and we keep abortion legal as a backstop. Anything else is putting your head in the sand.

        • Alex Harman

          I think the sand is a lot cleaner not nearly as dark as where wlad has actually stuck his head….

        • purr

          People had just as much sex before contraception if not more and they dealt with excess infants by KILLING THEM.

        • Miss_Beara

          Shhhhh… don’t tell wlad that. Before Roe v. Wade, people were living in a Leave it to Beaver type world where men were men and women were women and kids were all loved and wanted and no violence or sickness and everyone had a puppy and a cotton candy tree.

        • Itarion

          What happened to the cotton candy trees? I want a cotton candy tree…

          Although, I do appreciate the patch that introduced color to the world.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Calvin and Hobbes have something to say on this matter.

          http://www.reoiv.com/random.asp?img=dadbandwandcolour.jpg&page=2

        • Little_Magpie

          chocolate tree for me. And I’m talking the GOOD stuff.

          Also, a shoe tree (and not in the usual sense!)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And a pony.

        • Ella Warnock

          She’s right, you know. (in my best Morgan Freeman voice)

        • purr

          Albert finally answered. Check it out. You won’t be surprised:

          You said, “If the woman you
          have impregnated is sick during the pregnancy, and that sickness will
          injure/kill the fetus, should you, Albert, be legally obligated to
          provide the woman with round the clock blood transfusions, bone marrow
          or even organs if she needs in order to sustain the life of the fetus?”

          I believe the male should do, and is even obligated to do everything
          he can to aid in helping keep his child and the mother safe and healthy.
          If he has the right blood type then I would think he would love them
          enough to do a round the clock blood transfusion if that is what it
          took. I know I would do that for my wife.

          But there are issues with your scenario. Voluntary organ donation is
          not like pregnancy. You are not donating an organ to the human being
          inside of you. Your womb is the natural environment for that stage of
          development.
          If you are wanting to equate them together then your
          “organ donation” of your womb was done voluntary when you chose to have
          consensual sex because pregnancy is a possible outcome that you can not
          stop from happening to a 100% option.

          When you equate pregnancy with organ donation you are reducing human beings to the level of commodities.”

        • Ella Warnock

          Oh, he’s partly right. I’m not donating AN organ, I’m donating ALL of them. Okay, sure, the womb is a natural environment – FOR A CHILD THAT’S WANTED. Otherwise, nope, sorry, there will be no organ donation and no further discussion on the matter – and no concern for legality.

          These people seem naively unaware that one can take a pregnancy test and hie xirself to a clinic, all in fairly short order without having discussed it with anyone else or sharing her condition or intent. Even if abortion were illegal, many women would just carry on as usual. If one is seeking out privacy and to fly under the radar, it can be done. It goes with out saying that one shouldn’t have to.

          Sex as a consent to pregnancy is so weak and laughable that I’ve decided I’ll no longer engage on that particular preposterous notion. The entire sexual realm hinges on my consent. If you’re all for handing such power over to the State, then TA-DA, in one fell stroke you’ve declared women of childbearing age “commodities.” You’ve made her a ward of the State. You’ve declared that biology is destiny, and she never should have expected to live as she pleased. Those who told her such things were liars. Those who actually lived their own lives that way should also be punished for heresy, and blasphemy. How dare you tell a woman she has a right to freedom?

        • purr

          You’ve made her a ward of the State. You’ve declared that biology is
          destiny, and she never should have expected to live as she pleased

          I was thinking about that last night. Take it to an extreme. And this is for the rape apologists who are basically saying that every.single.time a woman is impregnated she MUST carry the pregnancy to term. So, let’s pretend that a woman is impregnated every.single.year by a rapist. Until she dies of old age. By the ‘biology is destiny crowd’ they would have this woman give birth once a year until she dies. Even if being pregnant for 20 years completely destroyed her life, it wouldn’t matter, because every pregnancy is more important than the woman. What they are essentially endorsing is the lifetime slavery of women.

        • Ella Warnock

          Well, that’s really the message here. Because you were born with the plumbing for childbearing, you must use it. Or, more to the point, you must allow others to use it for their benefit, never for your own. For much of human history, women have been slaves in all but name. There’s a growing faction of people who are so terrified by the notion of cultural change that they would destroy anything in their path to see that slavery – and thus their power – restored.

        • purr

          Or, more to the point, you must allow others to use it for their benefit, never for your own

          Bingo!

        • purr

          I notice that Albert is replying to you. I am going to hold my tongue and ignore him. It’s just the same old shit.

          Check this out:

          You see, though pregnancy can be a health risk to the mother, this was done by her choice to have consensual sex. The unborn human didn’t have a choice in anything that related to them. The mother chose to have
          sex which created this unborn innocent human being and then she decided to take the life of another human just because she thought it wasn’t the right time for children or it was too much of an inconvenience to change her lifestyle.

          14.5 for every 100,000 live births in seven years compared to 995,687 abortions in three years.

          If you take that number of women that died from giving birth and break it down to three years, you get around 8-9 women died in 3 years because of giving birth compared to the 42857 women that survived giving birth for the same three years.

          But in those same three years, 995,687 unborn human’s died because of abortion.

          I’m thinking you are not looking at the numbers when you come to this conclusion of who are the terrorists.”

          —————-

          1) she chose to have consensual sex

          2) having a baby would inconvenience her lifestyle

          3) UNBORN INNOCENT HUMAN BEING

          He’s a misogynist piece of shit. I think I’ve made my point against him and unless the thread really picks up again, I am not going to stress myself out on such blatant misogyny

          /spit

        • purr

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/07/25/how-many-people-did-god-slaughter-in-the-bible-steve-wells-has-written-a-book-documenting-every-kill/#comment-1092206538

          Forcing the man to donate = treating him like a commodity

          Forcing the woman to donate = natural, cuz she’s an incubator

          EDIT:

          The irony is killing me. He doesn’t think men should be treated like objects, which is why he doesn’t think men who chose to have sex and create the precious fetus should be legally obligated to provide biological support to preserve it’s life.

          So, to him, a man’s right to bodily autonomy overrides that of the fetus. Whereas the woman has NO bodily autonomy, because the fetus comes first, and even if she is permanently disabled from the pregnancy, well she signed up for it when she spread her legs!

          I am honestly disgusted by the sheer misogyny here. Makes me sick.

        • Ella Warnock

          Me too, and quite frankly it’s very disheartening and depressing – overwhelmingly so – sometimes. It has made me stop and look around, from time to time, and realize that any one of these normal-looking people could turn out to be Albert or Bob or myintx – someone who is at that very moment viewing me and every other woman in the vicinity as less than human.

        • purr

          Update! Albert is *desperately* trying to find a reason why men should be off the hook when it comes to forced organ/blood etc donation DURING the pregnancy.

          You said, “And the father’s actions.”

          Yes, that is correct. But his action has not happened until she has accepted the consequences. Therefore a man’s part in all of this does not start until the woman decides to allow sexual intercourse to happen. If she didn’t, and it happens, then that is rape. This is why I state
          that it is because of the mother’s actions.

          Steps:

          1) Woman decides if the outcome of having sex is worth it.

          2) She decides it is worth it.

          3) Her and her male partner engage in sexual intercourse.

          4) The outcome is she gets pregnant.

          5) Her and the guy are both equally responsible for their actions.

          If it went a different way such as:

          1) Woman decides if the outcome of having sex is worth it.

          2) She decides it isn’t worth it.

          3) No step three. Nothing happens.

          See how that works?”

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/07/25/how-many-people-did-god-slaughter-in-the-bible-steve-wells-has-written-a-book-documenting-every-kill/#comment-1092611328

          Feminerd made a great point on another post, which pretty much describes what these assholes are up to:

          ” You think the right to life trumps other people’s bodily autonomy, but not your own. You are a hypocrite.”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’d think that the choking-on-a-sandwich example could be worked into his 5-step program above.

          Is it worth it? Yep. I eat the sandwich. I choke. Everyone stands around and says, “Sucks to be you.”

        • Ella Warnock

          Tl;dr : Dudes aren’t responsible for anything at all. Got it.

          Hey, dudes who don’t want to be responsible for anything, just cut to the chase already. You don’t reeeaaalllly need 3 or 4 paragraphs to get that across, do you?

        • Miss_Beara

          You do realize that women had abortions before it was legal, right? And contraception is used not just to prevent pregnancy, right?

          You do know that sex does not equal consent to pregnancy, correct?

        • wlad

          It certainly does mean consent to pregnancy.

          Perhaps you disagree that nature evolved sex to be a good means of reproduction with a pleasure strong enough to ensure reproduction happens. You may maintain that evolution evolved sex primarily for pleasure–reproduction was not essential–just an accidental by-product.

          Evolution certainly could have evolved a great pleasure apart from anything else–you know, just for pleasure. I believe that sex evolved for reproduction, with pleasure as a means for ensuring it.

          Eating evolved to ensure survival. And nature made sure it happened by making sure it was very pleasurable.

          If a young woman eats food to enjoy the pleasure, but then vomits it because she wants only the pleasure, not the nutrients, we call her sick–bulimic.

          If we went to a restaurant, and they had incredibly tasty steaks, potatoes, vegetables, but all these were entirely free of any nutrients, entirely artificial plastics, no one would call it real eating, and would quickly return to real food.

          Denying this reality resulted in 55,000,000 killings since Roe v Wade. The pleasure was the trumping principal.
          Pleasure trumps the reason for the pleasure.

        • Kodie

          It just sounds like your opinion.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It certainly does mean consent to pregnancy.

          There are 40,000 traffic deaths in the US each year. Lots more injuries. Is driving a car consent to injury? The bystanders peek in the window and say, “Whoa. Sucks to be you.”?

          No. We repair these unwanted injuries.

          (See where I’m going with this?)

        • Miss_Beara

          Swimming means consent to drowning.
          Flying means consent to a fiery crash.
          Walking down the street means consent of getting robbed.
          Walking across the street means consent of getting hit by a car.

          And nobody is going to come and help because you did something and you have to face the consequences.

          Somehow I don’t think our pal Wlad here is going to get the comparisons.

        • Alex Harman

          Reading this comment board means consent to encountering wlad’s idiocy.

        • purr

          Yeah, your headache is your own damn fault!!!

          Take responsiblity for your actions man, and don’t touch that tylenol!

        • Alex Harman

          LOL! I don’t say that metaphorically, I am literally laughing out loud at this moment. Thanks for the chuckle. :-)

        • Little_Magpie

          not funny enough to win an internet, but you totally win this comment thread. :)

        • wlad

          “Swimming means consent to drowning.
          Flying means consent to a fiery crash.
          Walking down the street means consent of getting robbed.
          Walking across the street means consent of getting hit by a car.”

          The problem is that in every case you mentioned, drowning, fiery crash, getting robbed, getting hit by a car is very bad in itself.

          Pregnancy is not bad in itself. It may not be wanted, but it is not bad in itself

        • purr

          Pregnancy maims and kills.

        • Kodie

          I know this is redundant, but you’re ignorant and dishonest.

        • Miss_Beara

          You are purposefully dense. You are completely ignoring what people are posting.

          Pregnancy can be incredibly bad in itself with long term physical and psychological damage. But, you know that already because PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TELLING YOU BUT YOU CHOOSE TO IGNORE IT!

        • Ella Warnock

          If it’s NOT wanted, then it IS bad all by its own little self. Jejune posted a list of pregnancy side effects and conditions that are most assuredly NOT beneficial to the pregnant woman. Please review it.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So you’re saying that pregnancy isn’t completely bad, just bad in certain circumstances.

        • wlad

          I certainly agree that we should repair unwanted injuries.

          Abortion repairs nothing. It kills.

          Eating is not a sickness. A pregnancy is not a sickness to be repaired.
          It’s how mankind reproduces.
          It may not be wanted. But it is not a sickness to repair.

        • purr

          A pregnancy is not a sickness to be repaired.

          Just because pregnancy = babies, does not mean it isn’t a sickness of sorts. It is extremely unhealthy for the pregnant person.

          Normal, frequent
          or expectable temporary side effects of pregnancy:

          exhaustion (weariness
          common from first weeks)

          altered appetite
          and senses of taste and smell

          nausea and vomiting
          (50% of women, first trimester)

          heartburn and indigestion

          constipation

          weight gain

          dizziness and light-headedness

          bloating, swelling,
          fluid retention

          hemmorhoids

          abdominal cramps

          yeast infections

          congested, bloody
          nose

          acne and mild skin
          disorders

          skin discoloration
          (chloasma, face and abdomen)

          mild to severe backache
          and strain

          increased headaches

          difficulty sleeping,
          and discomfort while sleeping

          increased urination
          and incontinence

          bleeding gums

          pica

          breast pain and
          discharge

          swelling of joints,
          leg cramps, joint pain

          difficulty sitting,
          standing in later pregnancy

          inability to take
          regular medications

          shortness of breath

          higher blood pressure

          hair loss

          tendency to anemia

          curtailment of ability
          to participate in some sports and activities

          infection
          including from serious and potentially fatal disease

          (pregnant women are immune suppressed compared with
          non-pregnant women, and
          are more susceptible to fungal and certain other diseases)

          extreme pain on
          delivery

          hormonal mood changes,
          including normal post-partum depression

          continued post-partum
          exhaustion and recovery period (exacerbated if a c-section
          — major surgery — is required, sometimes taking up to a full year to
          fully recover)

          Normal, expectable,
          or frequent PERMANENT side effects of pregnancy:

          stretch marks (worse
          in younger women)

          loose skin

          permanent weight
          gain or redistribution

          abdominal and vaginal
          muscle weakness

          pelvic floor disorder
          (occurring in as many as 35% of middle-aged former child-bearers
          and 50% of elderly former child-bearers, associated with urinary and rectal
          incontinence, discomfort and reduced quality of life — aka prolapsed utuerus,
          the malady sometimes badly fixed by the transvaginal mesh)

          changes to breasts

          varicose veins

          scarring from episiotomy
          or c-section

          other permanent
          aesthetic changes to the body (all of these are downplayed
          by women, because the culture values youth and beauty)

          increased proclivity
          for hemmorhoids

          loss of dental and
          bone calcium (cavities and osteoporosis)

          higher lifetime risk of developing Altzheimer’s

          newer research indicates
          microchimeric cells, other bi-directional exchanges of DNA, chromosomes, and other bodily material between fetus and
          mother (including with “unrelated” gestational surrogates)

          Occasional complications
          and side effects:

          complications of episiotomy

          spousal/partner
          abuse

          hyperemesis gravidarum

          temporary and permanent
          injury to back

          severe
          scarring
          requiring later surgery
          (especially after additional pregnancies)

          dropped (prolapsed)
          uterus (especially after additional pregnancies, and other
          pelvic floor weaknesses — 11% of women, including cystocele, rectocele,
          and enterocele)

          pre-eclampsia
          (edema and hypertension, the most common complication of pregnancy, associated
          with eclampsia, and affecting 7 – 10% of pregnancies)

          eclampsia (convulsions,
          coma during pregnancy or labor, high risk of death)

          gestational diabetes

          placenta previa

          anemia (which
          can be life-threatening)

          thrombocytopenic
          purpura

          severe cramping

          embolism
          (blood clots)

          medical disability
          requiring full bed rest (frequently ordered during part of
          many pregnancies varying from days to months for health of either mother
          or baby)

          diastasis recti,
          also torn abdominal muscles

          mitral valve stenosis
          (most common cardiac complication)

          serious infection
          and disease (e.g. increased risk of tuberculosis)

          hormonal imbalance

          ectopic pregnancy
          (risk of death)

          broken bones (ribcage,
          “tail bone”)

          hemorrhage
          and

          numerous other complications
          of delivery

          refractory gastroesophageal
          reflux disease

          aggravation of pre-pregnancy
          diseases and conditions (e.g. epilepsy is present in .5%
          of pregnant women, and the pregnancy alters drug metabolism and treatment
          prospects all the while it increases the number and frequency of seizures)

          severe post-partum
          depression and psychosis

          research now indicates
          a possible link between ovarian cancer and female fertility treatments,
          including “egg harvesting” from infertile women and donors

          research also now
          indicates correlations between lower breast cancer survival rates and proximity
          in time to onset of cancer of last pregnancy

          research also indicates
          a correlation between having six or more pregnancies and a risk of coronary
          and cardiovascular disease

          Less common (but
          serious) complications:

          peripartum cardiomyopathy

          cardiopulmonary
          arrest

          magnesium toxicity

          severe hypoxemia/acidosis

          massive embolism

          increased intracranial
          pressure, brainstem infarction

          molar pregnancy,
          gestational trophoblastic disease
          (like a pregnancy-induced
          cancer)

          malignant arrhythmia

          circulatory collapse

          placental abruption

          obstetric fistula

          More
          permanent side effects:

          future infertility

          permanent disability

          death.

        • Miss_Beara

          Pregnancy can kill me. It is a sickness to be repaired.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Abortion repairs nothing. It kills.

          So does excising a tumor, tonsils, or an appendix. And yet we do what has to be done.

          A pregnancy is not a sickness to be repaired.

          It depends on the context. (We’ve been over this before—remember?) “You’re pregnant” is either very, very good news or (I hope you’re sitting down) very, very bad news. It’s probably not in between.

          It’s how mankind reproduces.

          And how do we get from this to “but that microscopic cell is a bay-bee”?

        • smrnda

          Mold and yeast and such can be good or bad, depending on what you are doing. Pregnancy is much the same way.

          Abortion restores a woman to her non-pregnant level of functioning. Pregnancy is risky and can impair the ability to do many things.

        • Miss_Beara

          Again, R v W made abortions legal. It did not start abortions. Women have been getting abortions long before R v. W. IT IS NOT A NEW THING!

          You can believe that consent to sex is consent to pregnancy. I, however, and many others, do not. If I have sex and birth control fails, I will abort. Since I have a medical condition that will put me at a high risk of death if I become pregnant, I will abort. If I choose to keep a pregnancy and there are complications, I will abort. But, you know, who cares about women, right? As long as the zygote/fetus isn’t terminated, that is all that matters, right?

          Anti choicers love to eliminate women when discussing pregnancy. It is all about the fetus and who gives a fuck about the woman, whether she is single or married, healthy or ill, economically well off or not, childless or a parent, wanting to have children or choosing to remain childless, good relationship or bad… who cares? To them, women are nonentities. I have read some antichoicers say that they are “protecting” women by taking away all of their reproductive options. That they “care” for women, which is why they are forcing women to remain pregnant against their will. They don’t protect nor do they care. They just want that fetus to be born, women’s situation be damned.

        • Alex Harman

          You flunk evolutionary biology. Evolution certainly could not have produced a complex behavior and a strong psychological drive to engage in it that provides pleasure but no benefit toward reproductive fitness; such a behavior would be selected against, because it would take time away from behaviors that do enhance reproductive fitness.

          Why something evolved and what a conscious being intends by it are completely independent of one another. Sex may cause pregnancy regardless of whether the people having sex even know that it can cause pregnancy; that doesn’t mean that by consenting to sex they are consenting to pregnancy. One of the great benefits of being sapient beings is the ability to pursue goals above and beyond simple reproductive fitness, the blind drive that would have us sacrifice our lives to maximize the copying of our genes and ultimately run us off the cliff of a malthusian population crash.

        • wlad

          “Evolution certainly could have evolved a great pleasure apart from anything else–you know, just for pleasure.”

          That was a bad attempt at satire, I’m told I am pretty bad at it.

          I absolutely agree that nature would not evolve pleasure for it’s own sake,

          That’s why I am astounded to see people very well understand that the pleasure of sex was evolved for reproduction, and then say the pleasure of sex has nothing to do with reproduction, separate the two, and then are surprised they get pregnant.

          Just like the bulimic girl who wants to separate the pleasure of eating from the natural effects of consuming nutrients–SICK. right?

          Why is this considered SICK?

        • purr

          Pleasure of sex = social bonding = strong social bonds, raise kids for years in a family/group

        • smrnda

          The reason it is sick is because it will cause her body harm. People actually need nutrients, and inducing vomiting has negative health consequences. Non-reproductive sex is not dangerous.

        • purr

          I’ve heard catholics argue that masturbation is dangerous for boys because it teaches them that sex is pleasurable.

          lulz

        • smrnda

          I’ve heard some people argue that education is bad since it makes people less submissive to authority figured too^^

        • Little_Magpie

          to quote Rob Roy (the movie – I haven’t read the book):
          “Why are Presbyterians opposed to shagging standing up? Because it might lead to dancing.”

          I know, slightly off topic, but I couldn’t resist.

        • Alex Harman

          That was a bad attempt at satire, I’m told I am pretty bad at it.

          You’re told right; pretending to be completely ignorant of biology and unable to comprehend the logic of natural selection doesn’t work for you because it’s not at all incredible, astonishing, or even mildly surprising that someone making the arguments you make would be completely ignorant of biology and unable to comprehend logic in general.

          Bulimia is considered “SICK” because it harms the girl’s health and makes her sick, not because there’s some moral imperative not to pursue pleasure for its own sake independent of the evolutionary goal it evolved to support. By that criterion, playing sports, boardgames, cardgames, computer games, etc. is “SICK” because it misdirects the pleasure we feel at competing and winning into competitions where no resources or reproductive advantages are at stake.

        • purr

          And here is another thing.

          Wlad is acting as if evolution is some sort of static thing, written in stone.

          Yeah, so what if certain behaviours evolved for a certain outcome. Who has to say that it has to stay that way FOREVER.

          What is wrong with sex evolving into something that people do for fun?

        • Ella Warnock

          The pleasure of sex has never had anything to do with reproduction in my marriage. Obviously, reproduction isn’t mandatory. People aren’t going to stop having babies just because it’s easier now for SOME women to opt out of motherhood.

          A bulimic girl will make herself very ill or possibly kill herself if she isn’t successfully treated. A couple that uses contraception will also experience adverse health condit . . . oh, wait, nothing dreadful will actually happen at all. They just won’t have kids they don’t want. In that case, the only adverse thing that will happen is that other people might get really butthurt over the fact that they aren’t following the correct lifescript.

        • Itarion

          are italics edits?

        • Alex Harman

          No, just emphasis. I may be overusing them.

        • purr

          You may maintain that evolution evolved sex primarily for
          pleasure–reproduction was not essential–just an accidental by-product.

          In humans, female estrus is hidden. If sex in humans evolved purely for baby making, females would go into heat just like your garden variety dog and try to fuck every guy on the block for a two week period. Human females don’t do that. Social bonding is a very important element of human sexuality, because humans need to stay together to raise children. In most animals, they have sex then part ways. With humans, that doesn’t happen. Sex, and the positive feelings + love = staying together to raise helpless children.

          So no, you’re wrong. Sex is just as much about social bonding as it is about reproduction.

          And reproduction just for the sake of reproduction is not a good thing. Which is why infanticide as a means of population control has been with us since the dawn of hunter gatherer societies. Or earlier.

        • Alex Harman

          The movie The Opposite of Sex had a great scene that encapsulates that under-appreciated aspect of human sexuality:

          Sheriff Carl Tippett: What’s the point of sleeping with you if it doesn’t get your attention? If I always come second to [your brother] Bill?

          Lucia: Excuse me?

          Sheriff Carl Tippett: Say the point of sex isn’t recreation or procreation or any of that stuff. Say it’s concentration. Say it’s supposed to focus your attention on the person you’re sleeping with, like biological highlighter.

          Otherwise, there’s just too many people in the world.

        • Itarion

          That is an interesting thought. Thank you for your contribution.

        • Alex Harman

          You’re welcome. :-)

        • smrnda

          We do make calorie free food and drink. Ever heard of diet soda? It’s still a drink, despite no nutritional content. There exist calorie-free noodles.

          Pregnancy is, statistically, not the likeliest result of sex, so ‘consent to pregnancy’ would imply that you consent to a car crash if you get in a car.

        • smrnda

          The great thing about people is, if nature throws an obstacle in our path, we say *screw that* and use our brains and technology to find a better way. We’re coming out with some pretty reliable contraception; check out the rates with the IUD. There are some pretty reliable forms of contraception, but religious liars will exaggerate failure rates and will often refuse to allow young people to get accurate info, thus increasing the rates of failure through improper use. They also falsely promote things like NFP that don’t work through shoddy statistics.

          People want consequence free sex. I, for one, refuse to accept a limitation of biology and think we need to do better with granting people their wish rather than resigning ourselves to nature. We can split atoms, put people on the moon and we made the internet. I have total confidence that, given time, we’ll totally separate sex from reproduction, and that will be a total party.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The spectrum argument works ONLY before viability–zygote, embryo, or 18 week fetus is obviously NOT a child. Doesn’t work after viability.

          Do I understand you right? You seem to be accepting the spectrum argument, that there is a date before which the fetus is not a child.

          It seems you draw the line when that happens at viability.

          I can’t imagine how you’d think that, given all the whining and fussing you’ve given me for not getting into the when question.

          I’ve got my hands full with just the spectrum argument. I prefer it because I think it’s more powerful/compelling. The bodily autonomy argument is good, too, however.

        • wlad

          No Bob,
          I was saying that pro-abortion people use the spectrum argument–it’s NOT A BABY!– when talking about abortion before viability, and switch to the bodily autonomy argument after viability. I’m not saying we’re buying it.

          I can’t understand how you can use the spectrum argument for abortion–after viability. After viability, when the childhood of the child is recognized, a woman’s bodily autonomy trumps the right of the child to life.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I was saying that pro-abortion people use the spectrum argument–it’s NOT A BABY!– when talking about abortion before viability, and switch to the bodily autonomy argument after viability.

          I’m still unclear what your point is. Is this just a random observation, like, “Didja ever notice that a heavy rain on dirt can sound just like a sizzling steak?”? Or have you found yet another crack in the foundation of the pro-choice viewpoint?

          I can’t understand how you can use the spectrum argument for abortion–after viability.

          But you do before viability.

        • wlad

          But you do before viability.

          That was EXACTLY my point. You liked the spectrum argument before viability. What argument for abortion do you use AFTER viability?

        • Kodie

          What argument against having an abortion do you use BEFORE viability?

          ANSWER THIS WLAD.

        • Itarion

          Why need one for electives? Set viability to somewhere in of the second trimester, and the woman should have plenty of time to decide prior to viability.

          As for medical necessity, minimize harm works very well. Allow as few viable humans to die as possible. If that means kill the child to save the mother, so be it, if the mother cannot be saved in any other way.

        • Kodie

          and the woman should have plenty of time to decide prior to viability.

          And access.

        • Itarion

          Yes, that too.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That was EXACTLY my point.

          Uh, dude, you just agreed with me. You might want to go back and recheck. Did you really mean to do that?

        • wlad

          I misunderstood your comment ” But you do before viability.” I somehow thought it was referring to you.

          I said:
          “I was saying that PRO-abortion people use the spectrum argument–it’s NOT A BABY!– when talking about abortion before viability, and switch to the bodily autonomy argument after viability. I’m NOT saying WE”RE BUYING it.

          I can’t understand how YOU (BOB) can use the spectrum argument for abortion–after viability.”

          I was curious what argument YOU used after viability

        • Alex Harman

          I think Bob made it pretty clear that he doesn’t argue about abortion after viability, in either direction. If you weren’t so obtuse, you’d have noticed that by now. Neutrality or agnosticism is an actual position that actual people sometimes take in regard to particular moral, legal, and philosophical arguments.

        • wlad

          You mean Bob is OK with abortion before viability, but would be absolutely against abortion after?

          Would he not argue that the life and health of the woman trumps the life to right to life of the child–not a spectrum argument?

          That was my question.

        • Kodie

          You have used up your quota of questions.

        • Miss_Beara

          You keep on asking questions but you refuse to answer them.

        • Alex Harman

          Of, for the love of frack. What part of this didn’t you understand?

          16. If you’re so smart, where do you draw the line?

          I don’t. I find that pro-life advocates quickly turn the conversation to the definition of the OK/not-OK line for abortion, hoping to find something to criticize. I avoid this, both because it diverts attention from the spectrum argument—the main point I want to make—and because I have no opinion about the line and am happy to leave it up to the experts.

          You fail reading comprehension forever, wlad.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And the question is uninteresting. Stop asking it.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I was saying that PRO-abortion people use the spectrum argument–it’s NOT A BABY!– when talking about abortion before viability, and switch to the bodily autonomy argument after viability. I’m NOT saying WE”RE BUYING it.

          So when pro-choice people use the spectrum argument, how do the choice-haters respond? Is it like we’re speaking Chinese, or do you understand the logic behind it?

        • Alex Harman

          Before viability, both the spectrum argument and the bodily autonomy argument apply. After viability, the spectrum argument (arguably) ceases to apply, but the bodily autonomy argument still applies. Since the two arguments are not mutually exclusive, this is only a problem for those who reject the bodily autonomy argument — the position you share with rapists and slavers.

        • Lyra Belaqua

          “Bob, you do not believe that the fetus becomes a baby at birth, or a second before birth, right? I asked that in an earlier post, and I believed that was not your view. Or a week before birth? It seems you draw the line when that happens at viability-24 weeks or so.”

          I call my car “baby”. I call my boyfriend “baby”. When I need my muscles to do one more set, I call them “baby.” It’s a term of endearment, nothing more.

          Medically, it’s more an “infant” or “neonate” after leaving the uterus or birth canal.

        • wlad

          No, I believe abortion is wrong from conception to birth.

        • Lyra Belaqua

          What makes it wrong? Is a spontaneous abortion wrong? Is it wrong when a pregnant women doesn’t want to be pregnant, & suddenly miscarries? Or is it just wrong when a woman is pregnant and, whether she wants da baybee or not, she has an abortion?

        • Itarion

          Yeah, we’ve been asking that for months. Nothing but silence.

        • Lyra Belaqua

          ah. my bad for asking the same question over & over.

        • Alex Harman

          No, wlad’s bad for continuing to refuse to answer it.

        • Miss_Beara

          We hope that one of these days a question gets answered. It doesn’t hurt to keep on asking! :)

        • Kodie

          Not any more than banging your head against a brick wall.

        • Miss_Beara

          There are certain questions they never have an answer for.

          1. What if the woman’s life is in danger?
          2. Why does a corpse have bodily autonomy and a woman does not?
          3. Why are the “pro lifers” in Washington wanting to cut services to help low income families? (usually, after an antichoicers claims that “pro lifers” care about children after they are born, but of course the evidence is to the contrary.)

        • Miss_Beara

          Is it wrong to abort if a woman’s life is in danger? If the fetus is dying and slowly killing her?

      • wtfwjtd

        The spectrum argument does indeed seem to be the most compelling and accurate reflection of reality–or, as Bill Maher likes to say, “If you can put it in a freezer, it ain’t a baby.”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Awesome quote! I can’t find a Maher quote like that on the web. I’d love to use it if I can find the correct wording. Have you seen it anywhere?

        • wtfwjtd

          Bob, there’s many good “Maherisms” on YouTube, try this one: “Religion Does No Harm…”

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

          His freezer stuff is in the 4:00- 5:00 minute range. I’ll see if I can find the more succinct version in the next few days. Enjoy!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Nice!

        • Little_Magpie

          at once amused and uneasy about that joke, because on the one hand, yeah, frozen stored embryos. On the other hand, I can’t help thinking about deranged killers and (adult) corpses in chest freezers.

  • Y. A. Warren

    Until “Christians” are against all killing, capital punishment, war, self defense, I have no interest in hearing their arguments about “right-to-life.” They are great practitioners of what some psychologists refer to insanity: Holding opposing views simultaneously.

    • Itarion

      I’m against killing, capital punishment, and war. Will you hear 75% of my pro-life argument?

    • Alex Harman

      That’s not one of the good arguments against the pro-life position, because it creates a false equivalency between what, to a pro-lifer like wlad, is the killing of an innocent person, and various circumstances in which a person is guilty of something (a crime in the case of capital punishment, attempting a crime against you in the case of self-defense, or invading your country or one of its allies in the case of just war theory) for which they arguably deserve to be killed. The pro-choice position isn’t the fetuses are people who deserve to die, it’s that fetuses aren’t people and thus it makes no sense to apply concepts like “deserve” to them.

      • purr

        Interesting paper here, about negative and positive rights in regards to pregnancy and abortion:

        http://praxeology.net/RTL-Abortion.htm

        • Alex Harman

          Thanks, looks interesting. I probably won’t have time to read it all tonight, but I’m keeping the tab open until I do.

        • purr

          His argument is a nice rebuttal to the pro-life ‘slam-dunk’ which states that the fetus has a negative-right NOT to be deprived of life.

        • Alex Harman

          Yeah, negative rights don’t really work for an obligate parasite; to give it a right to life, you have to assert that the host has a duty to sacrifice for it, making that a positive right.

      • Y. A. Warren

        The fact that the pro-lifers (as if the rest of us are pro-death) don’t accept the argument as valid does not invalidate it. They much prefer to argue how many angels dance on the head of a pin than to babysit a crack baby that they forced to be brought all the way to birth.

        • smrnda

          My main case against them is their lack of concern for babies once they’re born. I mean, if they wanted to stop abortion, why not have a huge drive and collect a million dollars for every women considering abortion? I mean, they really don’t seem to care about kids once they’re born, which makes it clear that the issue with abortion is that it gives them power and control over women.

        • Y. A. Warren

          I agree. My main complaint against the ten commandments is that they, to be respected, should be the ten commitments: “I shall not kill”, “I shall not commit adultery”, “I shall not covet”, etc.

        • Alex Harman

          No, the fact that it elides the entire concept of moral responsibility invalidates it. To say “you can’t oppose abortion if you support capital punishment, fighting wars, and killing in self defense” is no different from saying “you can’t oppose killing any random person at any time for any reason or no reason at all if you support capital punishment, fighting wars, and killing in self defense.” There’s an obvious, morally significant distinction between an innocent child and a convicted murderer, a person attempting to assault, rob, rape or kill you, or an enemy soldier on the battlefield; it’s not insane to believe both that people have a right to life and that they can forfeit that right by committing or attempting to commit a crime, or by taking up arms against your country.

          The trouble with the pro-life position is not that they recognize that difference, but that they refuse to recognize that there is also a morally significant difference between a born, breathing person with thoughts, feelings, memories, relationships with other people, and the capacity to feel pleasure or pain, who is able to live either independently or with care that any willing adult could provide, and a zygote, embryo or fetus that has none of those features and can only continue to live by inhabiting the body and extracting oxygen and nutrients from the blood of one particular woman, to her physical and sometimes mental detriment, and without regard to whether or not she consents to let her body be used and damaged in that fashion.

        • Y. A. Warren

          I object to those who oppose abortion, and sanction other forms of killing, presenting themselves as morally superior about issues of life and death with the hypocrisy that they are absolutely for maintaining life at every stage and at all costs. They are not Pro-Life, they are pro-the Disney fantasy of life in their own imaginations.

          Many of them have never had primary responsibility for a child, and have no concept of the commitment parenting entails. Many of them spend endless hours complaining about their unsuccessful efforts at being parents to their own children, while lying to young women in order to pressure the young women into believing that they will help her bring her child up “in the way the child should go.” This denial at its finest.

          The real trouble with the pro-lifers that I know is that they are not willing to recognize the realities in the full spectrum of the physical world. They deny the human hand in their pretense that all life is created and maintained by magic spells of the Great and Wonderful GOD…Until things get nasty, like they do in childbirth, childcare, war, and disease. Then they put money on the table as offerings to their “God,” and walk away feeling redeemed.

        • Alex Harman

          Now those are all valid criticisms. One can be consistently anti-abortion based on the notion of a “right to life” that begins at conception without being a pacifist, but one can’t also oppose programs that protect pregnant women and children from malnutrition, preventable disease, and abuse, and support indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets in unnecessary wars of aggression that don’t come remotely close to meeting any religious or humanistic criterion for being just wars.

        • Y. A. Warren

          Thanks for the intelligent dialog on a subject that suffers from too much individual and group hysteria.

        • Alex Harman

          You’re welcome. I’m interested in refining pro-choice arguments, and discarding ones that depend on obvious fallacies like false equivalence; we probably won’t persuade many pro-lifers (though some will change their minds — witness Libby Anne’s conversion), but there are a lot of people out there in the muddy middle who haven’t thought a great deal about abortion and whose votes are potentially up for grabs.

        • Y. A. Warren

          I applaud your sincere efforts at bringing some intellectual balance to this emotionally incendiary conversation. We do what we can do.

        • purr

          They also refuse to recognise the ‘right to life’ of Muslim fetuses and so on.

          I have not met one pro-lifer who was at all concerned about the Iraqi fetuses who were killed and or born disabled because of American bombs. Their response? The parents are at fault because they didn’t get out of the way. Which is funny, because that’s how one preacher defended the Amalekite genocide. He said that armies move slow, so if the parents and pregnant women didn’t get out of town, it’s their fault that they were killed by the Israelites.

        • Alex Harman

          I believe that was one of William Lane Craig’s more offensively stupid and evil defenses of God-ordained genocide in the Old Testament. For conservative Christians, triumphalism and bloodlust will trump decency and concern for life every time the two come in conflict. Sam Clemens had their number over a hundred years ago, and they haven’t gotten any better at listening to prophets and angels like the one in his story since then.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Wm. Lane Craig (I believe) has said this very thing–that if any noncombatants were injured in the Amalekite genocide (to take just one), it was their fault, not the fault of the fabulously perfect god who ordered the genocide.

          Oddly, that argument in favor of genocide doesn’t hold up in courts today. I wonder why.

  • purr

    #20 “I sent someone to cure cancer … but she died after being denied an abortion despite her high-risk pregnancy.”

    I have thought about this one before. It shows the implicit misogyny, the erasing of the woman as anything other than a mindless incubator. It is usually her *male* baby who will go on to cure cancer or something. The woman, nah, the pregnancy isn’t preventing her from doing anything great – because she’s a baby factory, that is her ONLY VALUE ON THIS EARTH.

    • Kodie

      What about “I sent someone to cure cancer, but she got stuck with raising a baby and couldn’t go back to school”.

      • Little_Magpie

        not that this actually relates to snarking back at the smug Christianity of the original, more that we humans can screw it up royally:

        “I sent someone to cure cancer, but ze was killed in the death camps.” (or, died in the gulags. Or was killed on Plain of Jars. or was disappeared by a South American dictator. Or was drafted and killed in action in Vietnam…. or was a Vietnamese civilian… or… well, you get the idea.)

        Although the “was hounded to death for his homosexuality” is especially poignant too. Because, you know. Alan Turing. Great minds *have* demonstrably been lost to us that way.

    • purr

      Well, I guess she could have one other ‘use’ on this earth. She could be a wife for one of those Chinese bachelors that wlad is so concerned about:)

  • ichuck7

    God replies, “I sent someone to cure cancer, but your society aborted him.”
    Wouldn’t an omniscient God know that was going to happen well in advance? Therefore, isn’t the lack of cancer cure still God’s fault?

    • Itarion

      It’s called selective omniscience. He’s only omniscient when it plays to his favor, and being omniscient, knows exactly when it plays to his favor. He knows that, because knowing when something will play to his favor plays to his favor [naturally].

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    I think I’ve asked this before, but if anyone has come across a survey of the reasons for late abortions, let me know.

    It’s pretty obvious that these are for far more important reasons than just getting fat, but I’d like to have stats for someone like Wlad who has a genuine interest in seeing if this category of abortions are driven by good reasons.

    • Kodie

      In an article cited by Wlad himself, one of the most popular reason for getting an abortion later is obstacles preventing them from getting one earlier – cost, distance, parental consent, or lack of medical service.

      Of course, he didn’t read the whole thing or read even the rest of the paragraph I reposted for him to read. He just crept away and changed the subject instead.

      I can’t actually find the Guttmacher survey that was cited in the article that asked why women would have abortions later than 16 weeks.
      http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3711005.html
      http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6001.pdf

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        My bad for not reading that more thoroughly. Thanks.

        • Kodie

          As far as I can remember, the survey asked women who were seeking abortions between 16 and 21 weeks. Presumably, they have the same basic reasons as everyone who gets one earlier, but they were delayed mostly by laws that intend to restrict women from getting abortions as soon and as conveniently as they would like to. They are forced to prolong the inevitable, and not women who were undecided for a long time.

          21 weeks being nearly the cutoff in most states from getting a legal elective abortion.

          Edit: having re-read the article, it doesn’t say any number of weeks, but 2nd trimester. It’s also a 10-year-old article calling for an emergency abortion fund, lists references to articles and studies, but no links or names or the studies they are referencing.

          http://www.thenation.com/article/waiting-room#

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I dream of a world in which pro-lifers realize that an early abortion is better than a late one and encourage education, prompt pregnancy testing, and no roadblocks to someone determined to have an abortion.

          … and then I wake up.

        • Kodie

          http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/2006/10/17/Contraception74-4-334_Finer.pdf

          Original research article
          “Timing of steps and reasons for delays in obtaining abortions in the United States”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          46 days from last period until abortion, on average. That’s faster than I expected.

  • MNb

    I think point 16 the only valid point so-called pro-lifers can make (they usually rather let mothers die, so I don’t really get why they consider themselves pro-life). It’s not very brave of you to refuse to answer that question.
    Here is mine: better safe than sorry and in that respect 20 weeks seems to be very safe; in The Netherlands it’s 24 weeks and since more than 30 years nobody complains, except a few fringe activists.
    Some good news for the pro-lifers: the abortion rate in The Netherlands, that godless secular humanist liberal crypto-communist country, is one of the lowest in the world.

    • Itarion

      Lowest in the world isn’t a low enough value. Pro-lifers want a negative abortion rate.

      • Lyra Belaqua

        That sounds like forced procreation upon reaching sexual maturity. Ish.

        • Itarion

          I know, right?

          Did you ever find that compass?

        • Lyra Belaqua

          compass? To run & hide?

        • Alex Harman

          I think Itarion is referencing your username there — the “compass” in question is made of gold….

        • Lyra Belaqua

          Oh that’s embarrassing, I totally didn’t get that reference. A new reason to hide… Nice to know others have read the books though!

        • Alex Harman

          I loved the first two, but I thought the third wandered off the rails. Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter had both blown over the Moral Event Horizon by murdering children (before some pro-lifer butts in with an imagined gotcha, I’m not talking fetuses but actual born, walking, talking, thinking, feeling, loving, suffering young human people), so trying to turn them into heroes at the end left a bad taste in my mouth. The plotline that gave The Amber Spyglass its title represented too many pages for too little payoff, too, and the way the author contrived to force Will and Lyra’s permanent separation just as they’d discovered love was just plain cruel.

        • Lyra Belaqua

          Yeah, The Amber Spyglass had a lot going on. I had to read it a few times to keep track of the plot lines. I liked the story as a whole (especially the multi-verses & dark matter, which science is discovering more about all the time), but yeah, making Will & Lyra potentially wait until death to see each other again was just awful. Aw man, I forgot I had a heart…

        • Alex Harman

          I wasn’t so fond of Pullman’s take on death, either; I realize it’s a reasonable position for a humanist to take, and the extinction of consciousness would certainly be preferable to the afterlife portrayed in the book, but I lean more toward the transhumanists on that. I think the most inspiring approach to that topic I’ve ever read is the one found at the end of Chapter 45 of the amazing fan-fiction Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (highly recommended if you haven’t read it yet — it’s fan-fic that actually surpasses the books on which it’s based).

        • Itarion

          You guys are awesome.

        • Itarion

          John got it, yeah.

        • Alex Harman

          I actually go by Alex; I’m trying to get Disqus to display my name that way, but no luck so far.

          Edit: well, what do you know, there it is. Seems to make my Facebook pic disappear, but eh, what the heck.

        • Alex Harman

          “Forced procreation upon reaching sexual maturity” actually is pretty close to the medieval Catholic position, as well as the “quiverfull” fringe of the evangelical movement. They’re evasive about the “forced” part — they either expect the girls to want to procreate with the husbands their fathers choose for them, or at least expect them to shut up and pretend they want it.

        • JohnH2

          There is a catholic movement call proception

        • Lyra Belaqua
        • smrnda

          They need some better marketing/branding people. That’s almost as bad as their attempt through “1flesh” or whatever to make Catholic teachings on sexuality seem hip.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I don’t answer it because it’s a completely different conversation. Once a pro-lifer agrees that the spectrum argument makes sense, we can then talk about the cutoff point.

      The spectrum argument seems to make many anti-choicers squirm. I like that, so I’ll keep the focus there rather than change the subject, like they’d prefer.

      Maybe because anti-choicers like a simple message, they don’t like any complexity like, “Gee–I wonder why the teen pregnancy and abortion rates are so high in the good ol’ U. S. of A.? Could it be that there are actually better ways of doing things than we do? That somehow we encourage unwanted pregnancy?”

      Next you’ll be saying that the Netherlands allows same-sex marriage, and that’ll just round out the list of things that’ll send you all to hell.

      • Itarion

        The Netherlands doesn’t have a lower divorce rate than we do, does it?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Whaaa … ?

          I’m moving.

        • Itarion

          9% lower. Nailed it!

        • Little_Magpie

          The main downside to the “yep, I’m moving to the Netherlands” is … think real estate is ridiculous where you live? Try house prices in Amsterdam. :)

      • RandomFunction2

        To Bob the broken, yet fabulous, atheist,

        The Spectrum argument leads nowhere because we need a factual gap to justify an ethical switch from yes to no whenever possible. Much of the talk about abortion has focused on such possible gaps (like the onset of sentience).
        The parallel with the threshold of adulthood is bogus. There is no objective threshold but we are bound to draw a line somewhere. It’s not a choice. Some places are slightly better than others. It would be a mistake to draw the line at the age of 12 for example.
        But in the case of abortion, is there any necessity to draw a line arbitrarily somewhere along the Spectrum of development? I don’t think so. I tend to think that abortion becomes morally problematic at the age of two weeks, when the embryo’s parts start to differentiate and there is no longer any possibility of twinning. That would mean that I could accept a few abortifacients if they operate before that threshold is reached. That would also mean that I agree with the possibility of embryonic stem cell research.

        • purr

          Which also means abortion would be effectively outlawed because no one is going to know they are pregnant within two weeks.

        • RandomFunction2

          I’ve already stated that I’m against outlawing abortion. And when a woman has had a sexual intercourse, yet failed to use contraception, that’s when she can consider using the morning after pill.

        • Alex Harman

          If you don’t want to outlaw it, we’re probably on essentially the same side politically, even if we strongly disagree on the moral issues. It sounds like we agree on minimizing the necessity for abortion and ensuring that those abortions that are done happen as early in pregnancy as possible, too. Those, of course, are pro-choice positions; the pro-life movement in general opposes comprehensive sex ed, free access to contraception, free preventive medical care, easy access to early abortion, and even the welfare and healthcare programs that often make the difference between being able to afford a child and not being able to, and thus is responsible for increasing both the need for abortions and the average duration of pregnancy before abortions take place.

        • RandomFunction2

          Then it must mean that I am neither a pro-life nor a pro-choicer. I find both stances unpalatable.
          Pro-choicers are wrong to consider abortion as a morally indifferent, merely technical, operation and pro-lifers are wrong to push to outlaw abortion and to oppose sex education and access to contraception.

        • Alex Harman

          As a practical matter, pro-choice simply means not wanting abortion outlawed. There’s a spectrum of opinion on the morality of abortion within the pro-choice population, the one commonality is opposition to laws banning abortion.

        • RandomFunction2

          That’s odd. In my experience, pro-choicers typically argue that abortion is morally indifferent because the embryo or fetus is said to have no moral status. And on that basis, they oppose outlawing abortion.
          What I would like is policies that help pregnant women in difficult circumstances to accept their babies by providing them with material resources and human support.
          I would also like students to be taught both sides of the abortion debate, so that they can realize that it is a moral issue in addition to a technical issue. So I’m all for sex education, provided that some of that education is about sex ethics and bioethics.

        • Niemand

          What I would like is policies that help pregnant women in difficult
          circumstances to accept their babies by providing them with material
          resources and human support.

          Things like “Obamacare” to help improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy, WIC to provide nutrition, welfare to make sure that women with young children have something to live on and don’t sink into poverty or have to leave their babies to work 14 hour days, more funding for day cares so that women can leave their children in a safe place while working, that sort of thing? Oddly enough, most pro-choice people also support these things and (at least in the US) most pro-choice politicians are also in favor of social programs that help women with children. Almost as though the pro-choice movement believed its own rhetoric and wanted women to have a choice rather than being forced into childbirth-or abortion.

        • MNb

          That may be your experience; it doesn’t apply to me. The main reason for me is that I think it such a difficult ethical decision that I shouldn’t make it for anyone else but me and the woman I have made pregnant (assuming I’m not a rapist, which I am not).
          For practical reasons law should follow the decision of the pregnant woman. It makes it harder for me to talk it out of her head, but so be it. I should not have made her pregnant in the first place.

        • Kodie

          Even if you consider it a person from conception, you have to explain why it has more moral status than its host. No person has the right to enslave another, if it is a person. If it isn’t a person, then what are we talking about?

          What I would like is policies that help pregnant women in difficult
          circumstances to accept their babies by providing them with material
          resources and human support.

          I would also like policies in place that help pregnant women make a choice for themselves. You are making it sound like, if you take away people’s “excuses” then they have no choice but to continue their pregnancy. I would like them to continue to have a choice in the matter and decide to do what they want to do, whether that is have a baby or not.

          I would also like students to be taught
          both sides of the abortion debate, so that they can realize that it is a
          moral issue in addition to a technical issue. So I’m all for sex
          education, provided that some of that education is about sex ethics and
          bioethics.

          If the pro-life position is going to keep lying and making it an emotional imperative, then no. Religion has no place in school.

        • RandomFunction2

          I’m not sure that the embryo has the same moral status as the mother. But then different things are at stake: for the embryo: his or her very existence. For the mother: her right to bodily autonomy. A priori a right to existence has more weight, but the problem is that the embryo is so unlike normal people we are used to that some people think that he or she has no moral status or at any rate not enough to trump the mother’s right.

        • purr

          A priori a right to existence has more weight

          The right to exist should never be given more weight than a person’s right to their own body.

        • Kodie

          An embryo is an it. Its right to exist has as much moral weight as my toenail at that point. People are sentimental because usually when we hear people say they’re pregnant, they are happy about it and look forward to having a child. If it isn’t cooked, it doesn’t have a natural right to exist. People commonly choose to conceive or choose to look at it as if it is a person it will one day become, but that doesn’t mean anything to me. That’s their choice, but that isn’t how we should all make decisions.

          And this makes me think of something else. So little attention is actually given to women who do choose to carry a pregnancy. I mean, it’s assumed they’ll go through with it because they want to, or have to, or nature or some other vague argument. While the expectation of a new baby is seen as joyful news, I guess that most people don’t really think it’s that big a deal that the woman is intentionally allowing it to happen, and what that really means for her. Another example of women being erased and being expected to endure a complete physical and emotional hardship, not to mention a financial one, just because that’s what people do.

          Abortion becomes unthinkable because we hide it, we hide unwanted pregnancies. People expect a positive reaction, because that’s the custom here, and it’s so simple for you to say “the embryo has a right to exist”. Why? What is it about an embryo that has a right to exist? Women who allow it are doing a monumental favor to an “it” that could just as easily have been flushed down the toilet with her tampon. What gives you the right to impose your opinions on other people and expect them to do what you think they should? “It” does not have a right to exist; “it” is being allowed to exist as long as the host permits.

          I mean, why not think of it that way? Does a cow have a right to exist? Does a mosquito have a right to exist? Does a cup of yogurt have a right to exist? How do you explain the difference between a cup of yogurt and an embryo?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Providing help for women burdened by a new baby does make sense. But, of course, you have the paradox of pro-life Christians who are also rabid anti-tax Republicans who wouldn’t dream of providing more money for freeloaders.

          Somehow, I guess, this all makes sense in their minds.

        • RandomFunction2

          To Bob the broken, yet somehow fabulous, atheist,
          Yes, if things are really like that, there is a real inconsistency on the part of such pro-lifers.
          The problem I see with the opposite stance is that the trend has been to view abortion more and more as a mere technical issue devoid of any moral significance.
          Of course you can present complex arguments for the moral permissibility of abortion. But they are usually in applied ethics journals and scholarly books which are hard to access for common people.
          Some years ago, I had a look at the current state of the abortion debate among professional ethicists. The pro-choice stance was the majority view, but there was a minority of staunch pro-lifers, who seldom appealed to religious arguments and tried instead to make a secular case against abortion. Some pro-lifers there were not in agreement with Churches: they said that embryonic stem cell research was alright. It is indeed harder to argue against ESCR than to argue against abortion.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Of course you can present complex arguments for the moral permissibility of abortion. But they are usually in applied ethics journals and scholarly books which are hard to access for common people.

          If I may humbly put forward the spectrum argument? Very simple and very intuitive. The pro-life argument devolves into “the single cell has human DNA, and that’s so precious that we can’t kill it, and this must be imposed on everyone.” We don’t need to shove this away into a 20-page scholarly paper.

          The pro-choice stance was the majority view, but there was a minority of staunch pro-lifers, who seldom appealed to religious arguments and tried instead to make a secular case against abortion.

          If the pro-lifers simply made the best case they could in the hope of swaying any observers but didn’t demand that this be imposed on everyone else, that would be a sideshow. It’s the imposition part that turns the sideshow into the main act.

        • Alex Harman

          I’d be fine with that, too. Some pro-choice people, myself included, do take the position that the moral status of personhood is a function of consciousness and agency, not future potential, and that since fetuses lack those characteristics they should not be considered persons. That’s a philosophical position, though and I do think people ought to learn about both that and alternative theories of personhood and rights.

          In any case, though, if you oppose outlawing abortion then you are pro-choice, regardless of why you oppose outlawing abortion and whether you disagree with other pro-choice people on the ethical basis for your position. “Pro-choice” simply designates a political viewpoint on the legality of abortion; it can encompass a range of philosophical viewpoints on the morality of abortion.

        • RandomFunction2

          I have political and pragmatic objections to outlawing abortion. I think it would create more problems than solutions.
          The state cannot punish whatever is immoral. For instance, it has ceased to punish adultery. The government needs to do what is in the best interest of social peace, stability and harmony, which means accepting relatively low standards of behavior for each one, because normal people are generally not saints or heroes. In other words, the state is not to try to make saints of ordinary people, only acceptable citizens. If the state tried to use compulsory force to make citizens holy, there would be social unrest and weariness growing into open revolt.
          I’m not sure abortion is best called a”murder” with all its unpleasant connotations, but it is even less the removal of a “parasite” or of a “waste product”.

        • Alex Harman

          Certainly not a waste product, but you’d have to use a pretty esoteric definition of “parasite” to claim that placental mammals between implantation and birth are not parasites. A parasite is any organism that draws its sustenance from the body of another organism (termed its “host”) to the net detriment of the host’s health, but usually without outright killing the host (which would make it a predator, or a parasitoid if it fed on a living host for most of its lifecycle and only killed the host near the end — the life pattern of most solitary wasps, among other things). If it had no effect at all on the host’s health, positive or negative, it would be a commensal, and if it provided a net positive benefit, it would be a mutualistic symbiont, but fetuses are neither.

        • Itarion

          As John says, there is a variety of positions to take, but mostly they fall into one of the two positions.

          Personally, I feel that abortion should be a last resort measure, when the mother is in no position to take care of a child. There are a number of ways in which someone might be unfit for motherhood, of course, but that is the woman’s personal decision, and she should have the resources to carry out that decision.

          And again, in a very strange and counter-intuitive way, countries that have legalized contraception tend to have fewer abortions performed per year per capita. Which is good, if you happen to not like abortion.

          [edit: formerly read “…have legalized abortion tend…”]

          Addendum: While legalized abortion alone does not reduce the number of abortions performed, it has been shown to increase the safety of the operations. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/world/12abortion.html?_r=0

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Have you heard an analysis of what it is about legalized abortions that means that they’re not as necessary?

        • Itarion

          Actually, acording to this article, I made a mistake. I should do research better, it would seem. Abortions are just performed more safely in countries where abortion has been legalized. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/world/12abortion.html?_r=0

          What we see is that the law does not influence a woman’s decision to have an abortion. If there’s an unplanned pregnancy, it does not matter if the law is restrictive or liberal.”

          On the same page is this little tidbit, though, and the study below [though by the same organization as the person who said this] supports the claim.

          The data also suggested that the best way to reduce abortion rates was not to make abortion illegal but to make contraception more widely available, said Sharon Camp, chief executive of the Guttmacher Institute.

          Here’s a combined study and analysis of why contraception and abortion rates are conversely correlated. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/2900603.html

        • MNb

          Personally I’m dead against abortion. If my wife during our marriage had got pregnant from me unexpectedly I would have done everything to prevent an abortion. That includes the way too often forgotten responsibility: if necessary I would have raised the baby on my own, even if that had meant a divorce.

          I just don’t want to force my personal feelings on other people.

        • Niemand

          If my wife during our marriage had got pregnant from me unexpectedly I would have done everything to prevent an abortion.

          That’s one potentially creepy statement. What do you mean by “everything”? Kidnap her and tie her to the bed for 9 months?

        • MNb

          I leave that to your imagination as this is not the place to explain in detail what all my ethical views are and how I apply them in practice.

        • Niemand

          Why not? This is one of the issues involved in the debate: what men will do to prevent women from having control of their bodies and their lives. And I can’t say that your refusal to discuss the matter makes it any less creepy.

        • Kodie

          As if your wife is not another person…

        • MNb

          Well spoken like a true seasoned theologian.

        • Kodie

          I just don’t want to force my personal feelings on other people.

          I would have done everything to prevent an abortion. That includes the
          way too often forgotten responsibility: if necessary I would have raised
          the baby on my own, even if that had meant a divorce.

          You are talking about it like it’s your decision, not hers, and you would force your personal feelings on another person even if that made her so upset she’d divorce you.

        • purr

          I feel that abortion should be a last resort measure, when the mother is in no position to take care of a child.

          Health reasons are also very good reasons, don’t forget that.

          Pregnancy can end in painful labour or a c-section. Both methods, on top of incredible pain, can also lead to permanent disability.

          The thing that scares me the most about pregnancy IS birth. I would rather kill myself. I have zero pain tolerance.

        • Itarion

          “In no position to take care of a child” is a rather inclusive statement that could be, without too much difficulty, twisted to include health concerns. Dead or physically traumatized hardly puts one in a position to care for a child, you see. So, yes, I agree with health concerns as a reason to abort.

        • Niemand

          Eh, for me c-sections aren’t that bad. It felt kind of strange because they started before the proprioception numbing had occurred so I felt things move around which was weird and recovery involved half a day on a PCA pump and then some tylenol. It was the labor before hand that made me want to die and I’m not talking metaphorically.

          I’m not helping, am I?

          I had a completely normal extremely low risk pregnancy…up until labor. If it hadn’t been for my abortion providing OB, I would have died and the fetus died too.

        • purr

          It was the labor before hand that made me want to die and I’m not talking metaphorically.

          You don’t have the right not to be in pain. Especially if the precious human life of a zygote is at stake.

          You were made to have babies. It’s your job. Suck it up!

        • Kodie

          Of course it’s a “last resort”. I think you mean, you would hope people would not be careless in their pregnancy prevention before a pregnancy was created and not rely entirely on the fail-safe abortion to save the day for them.

          I don’t have any problems with abortion, while I do have a problem judging people for being careless or ignorant of their options. That position implies that there is still something wrong with having an abortion that differs greatly from the magnitude of preventing pregnancy, and so that people who need one (even if you approve of their choice, given their circumstances) will still be marginalized and judged, and made to feel guilty for taking the least optimal choice in someone else’s opinion. I.e., the “careless woman who uses abortion as her primary form of birth control” when so many options are available to head this situation off at the pass that she should have been more careful. It regards abortion as better than having a baby she doesn’t want or can’t care for, but worse than preventing pregnancy in the first place. It allows for sexual freedom and prevention of pregnancy, but it is adjacent to promoting abstinence-only for me, in that, if a woman doesn’t want a baby, she should be more conscientious.

          I would like to see the day when having an abortion is no more ethically problematic than buying condoms, and not seen as a dire situation that one has to deliberate any more deeply than knowing whether you want to be pregnant or not. If you don’t want to be pregnant, don’t be pregnant. I don’t want to promote the idea that people should be troubled by deciding to have an abortion, or tortured over the decision, or feel bad because they are going to be judged as careless or failing in any way. Women should be morally free to correct a mistake without any judgment from people thinking she ought to have done something else.

        • Itarion

          It would appear that I have mild pro-life leanings. This is news to me.
          By this I mean that I personally would prefer that abortive measures be available, but used less often, and not in later pregnancies, excepting health regards. The spectrum argument allows for this fairly moderate [IMO] position

          I would say that this is what I mean:

          [I] would hope people would not be careless in their pregnancy prevention before a pregnancy was created and not rely entirely on the fail-safe abortion to save the day for them.

          There is “something wrong with” the [edit: surgical] abortion procedure itself that is different from chemical contraceptives [edit: and abortifacients], which is that surgical abortions are more dangerous than contraceptive pills. This is the reason that abortion should be the last resort, not because of any stigmatization that society might apply to regular abortion users.

        • purr

          61% of abortions are before 9 weeks,and those can all be done with a pill.

          If only pro-lifers didn’t try to ban and/or make it almost impossible to get such an abortion…

        • Itarion

          Right, I’m all for the abortion pill.

        • Kodie

          It just seems like the goal is to lower the incidence of abortion over all other considerations. Educating people and making them aware does seem to affect the incidence of abortion, but then so does coercing women through guilt or other methods to continue to be pregnant and have babies.

          Similarly, reducing the incidence of divorce as a way of measuring success – it could mean fewer incompatible people are marrying in the first place, or it could mean people are coerced to stay in bad marriages for terrible reasons. If we are goal-oriented, then we may lose sight of what’s actually important. Divorce obviously increases when people are no longer chained to a bad marriage because of the law or stigma, so in that case, it’s great to see divorce rates rising, yes?

          Is it bad or sad when people divorce over petty stupid things, or we imagine they are, or that people should not rush into a big decision like that, especially when society promotes marriage (and babies) as “things we must have” to be accorded the respect of a complete and worthy person? Women in their 30s are literally encouraged to settle, and made to feel worthless if they haven’t been approved for marriage by a man. It’s not up to me to determine whether someone’s reasons are worthy or if they should stick it out. Like abortion, it’s their decision and their reason. I don’t try to apply my standards to other people’s situations. I’m not goal-oriented to reduce the number of abortions, while I can still be in favor of education and availability of options. I think the more options one has, the better off they are, so it’s not up to me to dictate which ones are more ideal than another, any more than someone else’s vision of ideal is “sex for procreation within marriage only”.

          I would like to see late abortions reduced by the same number earlier ones are increased, i.e., no reason to wait. No ethical difference between ending an early pregnancy and using birth control, as no ethical difference between ending a pregnancy and continuing it.

          I can better understand why people get squeamish about late abortions past the viability stage, but I am also not in a position to judge someone whose decision it is and why they want to or have to make it.

        • Niemand

          The safest form of birth control, statistically, is the use of barrier protection with abortion as a backup in case of failure of barrier protection. Therefore, I think that should be the “default” form of birth control used. Of course, it won’t be right for every woman (or every man), but IMHO it should be the first choice and presented as the norm in discussions of birth control.

          So I’m not particularly against abortion in most situations, though I admit that I don’t like the idea of ending a 30 week pregnancy and would really like to see that not happen any more–but only if it stops happening because women have no barriers to getting earlier abortions and pregnancy care is so good that any fetal anomalies can be corrected and the risk to the mother’s life is essentially non-existent. So, better access to early abortion and more research into how to treat birth defects and pregnancy complications are what are needed to decrease the abortions that make me unhappy (not that anyone asked me, of course.)

        • Itarion

          Consider yourself asked, as this is an open forum for discussing our opinions. No decision on whose is best, just on whose is best argued.

          Looks like we’re sitting at exactly the same spot on this topic, actually.

        • Niemand

          In my admittedly limited experience, I’ve never yet met a woman who had an abortion at 20+ weeks who would not rather have had a baby. That just wasn’t an option they had at that point and they preferred an abortion to dying and leaving their already born children motherless, their partner alone, or whatever else there might be in their lives undone. Not to mention wanting to live for their own selfish reasons, i.e. things like enjoying life and wanting more of it, a motive that too often goes unmentioned and implicitly becomes unacceptable. Well, I’ll admit it: If I became pregnant, I’d have an abortion. Because I don’t want to leave my child without a mother. Because I don’t want to leave my partner alone. Because I don’t want to foist all my unfinished work on my colleagues. But mostly because I want to live some more!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Valerie Tarico has written a lot about the latest on contraception. Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives are almost perfect.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/valerie-tarico/iud_b_1220465.html

        • Niemand

          The currently available LARC are mostly hormonal and have the side effects (including side benefits) of hormonal contraception. They’re excellent choices for some women, but we’re a long way from a perfect contraceptive that everyone can get at adolescence and keep for life.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          When anti-choicers like Wlad point with glee at negative mental health issues after abortion, I wonder if they realize how much they are causing it. Take away their social stigma, and the depression might lessen.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Unfortunately, the terms are ambiguous. The real issue is: do you want abortion to be legal or not?

        • MNb

          Oh yes. For one thing outlawing abortion never has helped to prevent it.

        • purr

          Morning after pill won’t help if fertilization has already occurred.

        • Niemand

          What if she wants to get pregnant and only considers abortion when something goes wrong? Or doesn’t have access to the morning after pill because she’s under 18 or lives somewhere that the pharmacist refuses to allow her to have it?

        • Alex Harman

          I’d be happy to draw the line where inducing birth is a reasonable alternative (that would be somewhere after nominal viability, since a 24-week premature baby has a pretty high chance of dying and a near-100% chance of serious, long-term health problems).

        • MNb

          That’s the rationale of the Dutch 24-week line. But it looks like, thanks to advanced technology etc., even slightly before premature babies have reasonable chances. That’s why I mentioned 20 weeks.

        • Niemand

          Depending on what you mean by a “reasonable chance”. Immature infants born at 22 weeks gestation have at best a 1/3 chance (and that’s only in a study which included only infants without fetal anomalies or other issues that might worsen survival). Not to mention that essentially all of them came out with nasty morbidities. Unfortunately, care of immature infants is not a solved problem.

        • purr

          no 20 week neonate has ever survived
          only a handful of 21 weekers have

          the problem with birth at that young an age is that disability is pretty much a given

          and at that age, the lungs are still solid – nearly impossible to intubate

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sounds like you accept that there’s a spectrum of personhood and draw the line at 2 weeks.

        • RandomFunction2

          I draw the line where I think there is an objective difference.
          There is another place where one may want to draw the line: when the fetus acquires actual sentience, around the sixth month.
          Morgentaler, a Canadian leader of the pro-choice side (recently deceased) said that abortion becomes wrong once the threshold of sentience is reached.

        • Niemand

          when the fetus acquires actual sentience, around the sixth month

          Evidence of sentience in a six month fetus?

        • RandomFunction2

          The fetus’s cortex starts to function.

        • purr

          Is not evidence of sentience…

        • Niemand

          What’s the evidence for fetal cortical function? Also, what threshold of function demonstrates sentience and what do you mean by sentience? What behavioral evidence is there that a fetus or newborn or adult is sentient? (Yeah, I know, these sound like questions that should be answered “duh!” but a rigorous definition is necessary when discussing something like this.)

        • RandomFunction2

          I would have to bring a quote from a developmental biology textbook but for now I have other things to do. I am no health Professional.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Fair enough. Draw a line. That’s the spectrum argument.

          We could both accept the spectrum of personhood but draw different lines.

        • Kodie

          Why is it morally problematic once someone can learn they are pregnant, or the embryo begins to differentiate “parts”? To me, that is an emotional argument not based on anything realistic. A blob grows an arm and suddenly, it’s off-limits? That’s like, before it grew an arm, we couldn’t see what it was, so we could act like we didn’t know.

          To me, that’s morally problematic on the part of a pro-life position. That’s a little lie you tell yourself. But since I am pro-choice and parts do not make an embryo any more a baby than a weird mole is, I do not get squeamish like you do. If, by the time a woman finds out she’s pregnant and doesn’t want to be, you are saying it’s too late since the embryo grew a little bitty arm, you are imposing your moral problems on someone else and say, well, she knows what it is, so she can no longer claim innocence.

          Your excuses do not make you sound more ethical. You are willing to turn a blind eye if people are ignorant of the fact, regardless if it is the fact. It seems you want to draw the line at “this is always wrong, but ignorance absolves the situation, and whatever happens happens, guilt-free” and calling that a compromise. It’s ok to throw a hand-grenade in a barn you have reason to believe is occupied as long as you don’t open the door to look.

        • RandomFunction2

          The 14th day is relevant because this is when we can meaningfully say that there is a biological continuity from the individual that I was to the individual that I am now. When the embryo can twin or split into two parts, it makes no sense to speak of a specific individual, even if it has its own DNA. It is so until the 14th day or so.
          Denying moral status to an embryo past this threshold is a form of ageism, discrimination on the basis of age.

        • purr

          It is still incomplete and only partially formed by that point.

          There is no ‘you’ to think of. A lot can happen during the 9 months in the womb. You could stick the ‘randomfunction2’ embryo into the same women multiple times and end up with a different kid each time.

        • Kodie

          It is not a form of ageism. I don’t know why you make exceptions for the first 2 weeks except that what you don’t know can’t hurt your moral responsibility with your lord, but you are pro-life.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I fear that Schrödinger is about to make an appearance …

        • Itarion

          I lost my cat. Can you help me find my cat? I’m offering a reward if you can find him dead and alive.

    • Niemand

      The Netherlands it’s 24 weeks and since more than 30 years nobody complains, except a few fringe activists.

      Technically the law in the Netherlands says that abortion is illegal if there is a “reasonable expectation” of viability (at least according to wiki). Thus, if the fetus has a fatal anomaly the abortion is legal no matter what the time frame. Also abortion in the case of risk to the mother’s life is covered under the “general law” and so is legal. People aren’t complaining because those are the two situations where abortion is needed after 20 or so weeks and so all needed abortions are occurring.

      I admit that the law creeps me out a little in principle because it is giving one (questionable) person rights over another (definite) person’s body, but at least all practical cases are covered.

  • Alex Harman

    I responded to a variation on number twenty in my first post on the previous thread, but it was near the bottom of a very long comment, so it seems appropriate to post it again:

    “But what if [insert your favorite historical hero here] had been aborted?” Then that person would never have lived, and we wouldn’t know to miss him or her. Very few of humanity’s great achievements were truly dependent on the personality of one particular individual, though. If Mohandas Gandhi, to give a popular example, had never existed, there would still have been an Indian independence movement; it just would have had a different leader. It’s highly likely that the combination of Indian culture and the British desire to see themselves as civilized would even have led to the same successful use of nonviolent, passive resistance tactics, too. If any one of the great scientists and inventors we rightly revere had never been born, somebody else would have discovered or invented the same things they did at around the same time, because the physical laws that make those achievements possible would be no different.

    This also applies to the hypothetical person who would have cured cancer: if a generalized cancer cure exists, it’s something that be found in in the natural world, not something that only a single, unique genius can possibly invent that will never exist if anything happens to that genius before he invents it. That’s true even if it’s something that humans will have to synthesize, rather than isolate from a living organism: whatever it is, the laws of chemistry allow it to exist, and any smart research chemist looking in the right place will find it.

    It’s not surprising that people who are scientifically illiterate might confuse the nature of invention and scientific discovery with that of creative efforts like music and literature. It is true that if Tolkien had never been born nobody else would have written The Lord of the Rings, if Beethoven had never been born nobody else would have written the “Ode to Joy,” etc. However, abortion is far from the only way that people are prevented from achieving their creative potential; that argument is less effective as an argument against abortion than as an argument against poverty, oppression, racism, lack of universal education, and every other social factor that progressives seek to change and conservatives seek to maintain that limits most people from achieving their full potential.

    Also, abortion opponents never seem to consider the flip side of the argument: some of the very worst things people have done were the product of a unique personality, and those personalities are disproportionately likely to come from circumstances where abortion would have been a likely outcome. If Ted Bundy’s unwed young mother had terminated her pregnancy, it’s fantastically unlikely that someone else would have raped and murdered his victims; tragically, she “chose life,” or, just as likely, had it “chosen” for her by her deeply religious, brutally abusive father and the fact that in 1946 abortion was not easily available in the U.S.

    • wlad

      Every person conceived is inherently important and deserves the right to life.
      Einstein, Ted Budny, Dr. Salk, a child with an IQ of 75, you, me, all equally deserve the right to life. What they choose to do with their life does not remove their right to life. We certainly would not want to be in a world when we would check out people before birth and decide who was good enough to live.

      • Alex Harman

        What do you mean “we,” wlad? I certainly would want to live in a world where we could know with certainty before birth that someone was going to be a serial killer, and abort that person; that would be a better world than this one. Of course, that couldn’t really happen unless there really was an omniscient being standing outside of time and seeing all possible futures. That God didn’t abort Ted Bundy is an acute instance of the Problem of Evil.

        We could live in a world where nobody was born terminally ill, though, and I would both choose to live in that world over this one, and work to turn this world into that one. (I don’t feel this as intensely as my mother, whose first child had a malformed heart that inevitably killed her months before her first birthday, but I certainly sympathize and agree with her that it would have been better for her if she’d known about the defect before Christie was born and had an abortion.) Prenatal testing and abortion are part of the path to that better world; IVF and selective implantation for couples at risk of producing a child with a genetic disorder and, perhaps, gene therapy to eliminate such disorders are also part of the picture.

        I estimate that on average, every child born with Tay-Sachs, a fatal heart defect, type I spinal muscular atrophy, etc. represents at least one healthy child never born because the people who would have been its parents are busy gestating, then caring for, a child born with no hope of ever growing up. As I said before, the lives of the potential people who do not exist because the pregnancies that would have produced them were aborted are exactly as valuable as the lives of the potential people who do not exist because the zygotes that would have developed into them were among the 60+% of zygotes that fail to implant, or because contraception was in use during the acts of sexual intercourse that would otherwise have resulted in their conception, or because the couples who would have been their parents didn’t have sex on the date the sperm and eggs that would have produced them were in place to do so, or because their potential parents never even met in the first place.

      • Kodie

        Every imaginary child has the right to be born.

        Don’t Not Have Sex

        • Alex Harman

          Hilarious! I especially loved the inclusion of Missouri in the list of backward, misogynistic nations trying to restrict contraception.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Gee, that’s sweet. Just don’t imagine that this applies to single cells and that your view is so enlightened that you get to impose it on the rest of us.

      • smrnda

        I think the right of a woman, who is already sentient and already has goals and such of her own, is more important than the right of a potential person.

  • wlad

    Bob,
    If you do not want me to respond to your posts, and see my comments as not contributing to the discussion in a good way, and see me as a wild-eyed crazy pro-lifer, please tell me. Other commenters seem to not want me to present my views, yet go to great lengths to reply to me with research and well-thought out arguments for their side.

    What gives.

    • Alex Harman

      For my part, I find you quite impossible to like, respect, or take seriously, but since your views are those of a significant segment of the American voting public, it’s worth having your comments as a foil against which to develop my own position and ensure its internal consistency. I could wish you were a somewhat better foil — it’s always more valuable to engage your opponent’s strongest arguments than to shoot fish in a barrel — but since “brilliant pro-life thinker” seems to be a contradiction in terms, you’ll do for now. You’re at least less offensive than Theodore “All Sex In Any Context Other Than A Heterosexual Marriage With the Intent to Produce a Child is RAPE!” Seeber.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Is this a serious question? Don’t pretend that you’re the poor put-upon Christian here.

      You bring this on yourself. You repeat the same arguments to the same people and never learn from the same responses. You delight in asking questions over and over (sensing blood in the water, I’m guessing?) but then you ignore questions that make you feel uncomfortable.

      If you don’t have answers, admit it. You’re looking for concessions from your antagonists; when you’ve been bested, you must concede yourself. Show us how it’s done.

      I like having antagonists to keep me honest, but if you continue as a waste of time, no, I don’t want you around. If instead you bring up new issues or challenges that others haven’t considered, then that could be a valuable addition to the conversation.

  • Niemand

    The person with cancer has a point. God could have given us better tumor suppressor mechanisms or made oncogenes unnecessary for development or at least made cancer a single disease so that it actually could be cured by a single treatment rather than being a bunch of diseases with the same common presentation, thus confusing people about whether or not A (single) cure is possible. There was no need for this situation at all.

    Also, would you rather have cancer now or in 1973, when abortion was just legalized and therefore the “person who could cure cancer” could not have been legally aborted yet. If you choose 1973 you’re either a fool or suicidal. A cure we don’t have, but treatments that cure some cases and prolong the lives in others we’ve got quite a lot of.

    • Ron

      Why even go that far? If one posits that an omni-max being created everything, then one is also forced to concede that said being must have knowingly created and/or allowed the propagation of the very tumors it’s now purportedly trying to cure. In effect, the incongruent attributes assigned to this “creator” undermine the whole God concept and the argument fails of its own accord.

      • Niemand

        Good point. Of course, one can keep backing it up: If god created a heaven where good souls can go after death and all souls are good before birth, why is earth needed at all? Why not just keep everyone in heaven as unborn souls?

        The usual reason for cancer I’ve heard is something on the order of “free will”. But if god sent someone to cure cancer and he was aborted, doesn’t that imply that that person, if he were born, did NOT have free will? He would have been compelled to cure cancer? It’s very confused, theologically IMHO.

        • JohnH2

          Your very questions show that you don’t have any understanding of anyone’s actual theology. For Catholics, and actually most of Christian theology, souls don’t exist prior to birth (which is why they have such great importance attached to conception, it is the creation of a new soul. Now, I do believe in the existence of spirit prior to birth, but your questions conclusively demonstrate a lack of understanding of Mormonism’s view on the subject.

        • Kodie

          I’m not going to speak for Niemand, but for myself, it is not like I don’t know what your theology is, I just think it doesn’t hold any water. It’s ridiculous. It’s not a basis of any reality that I have to consider.

        • JohnH2

          “It’s ridiculous”

          Maybe so, but the question of why the earth or why not keep everyone in heaven unborn are completely central to Mormon doctrine such that if one was at all familiar with what Mormons believe those wouldn’t be the questions being asked.

        • Kodie

          You’ve obviously asked the same questions and found these made-up answers sufficient comfort. That’s holding the concept of “god” to a low, immoral standard, and if that’s the truth for you, then you have to confront the ugly implications as well.

        • JohnH2

          ??? – I am now questioning your assertion that you have any clue as to what Mormons believe on the subject.

        • Kodie

          I know that Mormons believe that god is real, and you just said that Jesus is just a coping mechanism because you obviously can’t cover for god’s failure to be omnipotent.

        • JohnH2

          Okay, that wasn’t the question to which I was referring to at all.

          This is one of the lessons that Mormon missionaries teach everyone, usually it is the second one:

          https://www.lds.org/manual/preach-my-gospel-a-guide-to-missionary-service/what-do-i-study-and-teach/lesson-2-the-plan-of-salvation?lang=eng

        • Kodie

          And you are offended that I can regard your beliefs as a fiction?

        • JohnH2

          No.

        • Kodie

          I still have to ask how your theology bears on reality and why I should consider it? Mormons believe souls exist eternally and have to make a quick stop on earth in imperfect human bodies. They allegedly already know Jesus Christ before they are born, but are forced to live on earth for a while until they can come back. Is that the gist of it?

          I don’t know why that sounds plausible to anyone. You can believe what you want to believe, but I don’t know why Niemand’s response to Ron, above, warranted a visit from “you don’t understand anyone’s, particularly mine, theology on the subject at hand.” Do you have a very good reason that we must? If god caused cancer and then sent one of your Mormon souls to cure cancer, but it ended up in someone’s body who wasn’t a Mormon and she decided to abort it; meanwhile, this soul, even if born, doesn’t get a fair chance to figure out what they would like to do. It’s already been determined they have to cure cancer, so where is their free will?

          I mean, how does your theology wrap that up neatly?

          And why does your god cause cancer but has to depend on the willingness of pawns to counteract it?

        • JohnH2

          If one is discussing why God does or does not do something or the relation of souls and birth then to do so requires doing so in someone actual theology or otherwise it is just a strawman.

          “forced to live”, we shouted for joy at the chance to live on earth and become more like our Father.

          God allows for cancer, He doesn’t have to cause it. The story presented doesn’t make sense; I don’t know when the spirit enters the body, so it is entirely possible for abortions to be murder, the spectrum argument has clipping toenails on one end, but there can be no argument that the other end is murder.

          If God knows that someone would cure cancer it is due to Him having all time before Him and thus knowing that the person will choose to do so, just as we know that Einstein developed the theory of relativity; His knowledge no more infringes on that persons choices then our knowledge of Einstein infringes on Einsteins choices.

          God allows for cancer and wishes for us to see what we will do to and for each other in adverse conditions and how we respond to those adverse conditions.

        • Kodie

          Just like your dismal conversion figures, you find this acceptable reasoning. From the outside, it is just a weak excuse made by man to answer the valid criticisms of a god who doesn’t seem to fulfill his job description. It’s not satisfactory to normal people, but that doesn’t stop you.

        • purr

          God allows for cancer

          A kind loving and just God would do what he could to PREVENT little kids from being born with leukemia.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          God allows for cancer, He doesn’t have to cause it.

          Sure, maybe God exists and he allows cancer. But he picked–some bad stuff he created and allows (cancer) and other he didn’t (alien overlords who treat humans like cattle and eat them).

          The better explanation is simply that God doesn’t exist and that reality has no particular interest in seeing us thrive or survive or not.

        • Niemand

          other he didn’t (alien overlords who treat humans like cattle and eat them).

          So far.

        • purr

          Give me one good reason why your loving God would:

          1) cause a baby to be born without a brain or other organs

          2) cause a baby to be born with cancer that slowly kills it

          One good fucking reason.

        • JohnH2

          Given your comment on temples built on fetal matter then I am condensing my response to just be:

          God allows it to happen to piss you off.

        • purr

          How convenient.

          You’re not much better than wlad

          Always looking for an excuse not to answer a valid question

        • JohnH2

          I believe I provided an valid answer to your valid question; it is entirely consistent with my understanding of things to suggest that God allows for such things to happen for the sole purpose of pissing off jejune. That might not be a complete answer, but given your behavior towards me and my beliefs it is what you are getting.

          I spend hours answering questions on my free time, for fun, largely because I enjoy doing it. I attempt to not take offense easily and am willing to put up with quite a lot. I am sorry that I find your comments to be uninteresting and offensive, but at the moment I do

        • purr

          Gee, why does the thought of an pro-choice temple made of fetal remains annoy JohnH2 so much?

          It wasn’t even a very good joke. Funny how you guys get so bent out of shape when we make fun of how you love to cast us as bloodthirsty baby killers.

        • Niemand

          In all fairness, it does sound rather unhygienic.

        • purr

          I agree.

          You are awesome sauce btw. Nice job trouncing Albert.

        • Niemand

          **Blush** Thanks!

        • JohnH2

          I am sorry, I don’t believe that I have attempted to cast those that are pro-choice as blood thirsty baby killers.

          Though that you can’t see anything wrong with making a joke about a dedicated sacred edifice built to the ending of pregnancy out of the discarded carcasses of the unborn does a whole lot towards making me question my assessment that you aren’t a bloodthirsty baby killer.

        • purr

          Though that you can’t see anything wrong with making a joke about a
          dedicated sacred edifice built to the ending of pregnancy out of the
          discarded carcasses of the unborn does a whole lot towards making me
          question my assessment that you aren’t a bloodthirsty baby killer.

          If I had a nickel for every time a pro-lifer has accused me of being ‘blood soaked baby killer’ I would definitely have a lot more pairs of shoes than I do now.

          The best is when they accuse me of salivating at the thought of sacrificing babies to Moloch.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Well, the Dark Lord does demand his babies.

          So I gave them other statutes that were not good and laws through which they could not live; I defiled them through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn—that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the LORD.

          (As written in the “Good Book,” Ezekiel 20:25–6)

        • purr

          Yeah, after the blood soaked Moloch comment, I pasted a pic of a zygote.

          They deleted the pic.

          And this was on a LIBERTARIAN site.

          Oh, irony.

        • Kodie

          I am now questioning if you realize what your beliefs look like to an outside observer who hasn’t swallowed all the bullshit.

        • JohnH2

          ” I don’t blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself.” – Joseph Smith

          Yes, I am well aware of what my beliefs look like to outsiders.

        • Kodie

          Because you don’t seem like it. What amounts to a valid explanation to you sounds like a weak, made-up excuse for god’s motivations to me. How can you accuse me of not understanding your particular theology when that is pretty much all it amounts to?

        • JohnH2

          Before you can say it sounds like weak, made-up excuse for god’s motivations you should be able to tell me what those weak, made-up excuses are. Even if after looking at it that is all it amounts to for you, if you can’t say what those weak made up excuses are then you really aren’t in a position to say that you understand my theology.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, you know, god intentionally doesn’t interfere except when he does, when he gives you a test, or he sends relief, you know, the world is the way he wants it to be, as statistically possible coincidences are his way, just to give everyone the opportunity to know him, to ask for his help, and he’s, like there, you know, helping us along, and all we have to do is ask, and believe, and if it feels like he’s there to you, that’s him! But he doesn’t impose on anyone. It wouldn’t be free will if he actually fixed anything that was totally messed up, even though he could.

          Now, me talking, I would say the world is the way it is and no god is required to explain it, and no amount of imagining he’s helping you makes him real enough to anyone else. The world could use a little help from someone omnipotent, and the fact that he doesn’t causes you theists of every kind to figure out some twisted excuse that this is just the way he made it up to be.

          I mean, you see it, right? All theists do. All theists seem to find this world bleak and cold and really messed up – maybe even bleaker than it really is. You make up a story that a creator made this world and since this is it, then, that must have been the way he wanted it. He could do more and better, but, presupposing a creator, invent a motivation for your invisible friend. Invent that he is helping you out of jams here and there, and deciding for you by showing you murky signs, coming to you through your thoughts. Because that makes more sense to you, since otherwise, this world is unbearable. God keeps his promises he can’t give you until after you die. Why else would anyone stand for this subpar planet and slogging existence? Right?

        • Kodie

          Are you well aware that Joseph Smith was a fraud?

        • JohnH2

          I am very well aware that you think he was.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Good for Joseph Smith for such a frank statement. One wonders why they send out missionaries at all when the beliefs are inherently unbelievable.

        • JohnH2

          “inherently unbelievable” has nothing to do with whether or not it is true, which is why missionaries are sent out.

        • Itarion

          Inherently unbelievable would also mean that you don’t believe because you literally cannot believe, Why didn’t you jump on that bit first?

        • JohnH2

          To me inherently unbelievable, in context of the quote that led Bob to say it, means that without further experience and knowledge that comes from God that it cannot be believed.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So conventional apologetics doesn’t help Mormons? Their argument must be an appeal to the Holy Spirit or something rather than an intellectual defense?

        • JohnH2

          Intellectual defenses are great but they don’t convert people.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Hmm. I think you’re right, but that’s telling.

        • Itarion

          Context doesn’t change the basic meaning of a word. “Inherently unbelievable” means that a fact, as a very basic part of its nature, cannot be thought true by anyone. If anyone believes it, it’s not unbelievable, regardless of experiences required. Semantics can make or break an argument.

        • JohnH2

          Then Inherently should be dropped for something less strong, as Joseph Smith did believe his experiences because he experienced them and I believe them based on my experiences; ergo they are believable based on certain experiences but not generally so.

        • Itarion

          Which was my point. Although, I’d personally drop unbelievable for ridiculous.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No, but it has to do with whether the missionaries are wasting their time or not. That was my point.

        • JohnH2

          From 60K missionaries there are 300K convert baptisms per year which means they aren’t wasting their time.

        • Kodie

          5 sales per year is considered a failure in the real world.

        • JohnH2

          One “sale” in a lifetime is considered a success for God.

        • Kodie

          Missionaries are pawns to gain members for the church, not souls for god. You don’t seem to realize that they are just selling snake oil. If you had a successful product or successful missions, you could sell a lot more Mormonism with a lot fewer salespersons. In the real world, using that much manpower to convert so little is not considered success, and we live in the real world. Sending so many missionaries to bring back so few new members for the church is therefore, a giant waste of time.

          We were just discussing what a waste of time it was, and you’re the one who trotted out the dismal figures. It’s math, John.

        • JohnH2

          I disagree with your assessment of what Missionaries are doing.

          To be a Mormon is not a simple thing; no one rightly considers us to be a Sunday church. When one becomes a Mormon there is nearly always a huge list of behaviors, habits, and addictions that have to change. Giving up Alcohol, tea, tobacco, coffee, premarital sex, to name a few is not exactly easy or done lightly. Going to church for three hours weekly, paying tithing, and serving in various unpaid positions is also not exactly easy.

          http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/come-join-with-us?lang=eng

        • Kodie

          I know you disagree because you interpret things in a fantasy haze of belief.

          You still haven’t explained why your theology is necessary to the discussion. You are bringing up numbers of believers, just like Catholics do, and they have way more, and I think they’re better at gaining and retaining members, even though they lie too about how many members are still active.

          People have made valid criticisms of a god who doesn’t fulfill his job description, and all theology does is invent excuses meant to address those criticisms, that, for some reason, pacifies believers, but it doesn’t wash. It’s irrelevant to the discussion. You have repeatedly explained that proving god is unnecessary and not part of the Mormon methods. You have to read something and pray on it and wait for the feeling to invade your rational thought process, or something. So, making Mormonism harder to adhere to doesn’t seem to be a favor to making converts, but then neither does sending 60K missionaries out to make only 5 each. I’m not exactly surprised you manage to fool that many at least, but even if you showed better numbers, that just means people are fools, it doesn’t say that it’s true.

          The question was, are you wasting time? In the business of making sales, which is all religion is, yes. As aggressive as your tactics are, I would think you would have gotten a pitch down that works. Obviously people aren’t sold on that your god is real. If what you promised was believable, people would give up their “sinful” lifestyles. Your idea is that people deny god in favor of clinging to their “sinful” habits, yet another lame excuse you make for considering yourself pious and explain why the sinners don’t want to convert. It’s too hard to change, you think.

          How about it doesn’t seem necessary. There is nothing on the other end, or they already have their own theology that suits them just fine. Fantasy haze of belief. All theists make excuses why people aren’t convinced. When you are bringing such bad sales figures, you have to make it sound good to keep up team morale.

        • JohnH2

          “a god who doesn’t fulfill his job description”

          This is exactly why doctrine or theology matters; if you are going to discuss God and God’s job description then you should probably know who God is and what God’s job description is supposed to be.

        • Kodie

          That’s exactly why making up a story matters; if you are going to make money on a presupposed god, you have to make up a story.

        • JohnH2

          I am wondering who you think is making money off of Mormonism.

        • Kodie
        • JohnH2

          Still unclear about who you think is making money off of Mormonism. The real estate investments and other business ventures are not funded via tithing but regardless that just shows that the church makes a large amount of money without ever answering who is making money.

        • Kodie

          CEOs of the Church, just like any corporation.

        • JohnH2

          So some members, but not all, of the first Quorum of the seventy receive a stipend as the Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency may also receive a stipend. The most recent president of the church received a stipend of 60k per year.

          That is hardly getting rich. Especially not for a position which one holds until death and is full time.

        • Kodie

          All churches bank on naivete like yours. It’s “get members, enforce tithing”.

        • purr

          Pro-choicers are going to get together one day and build a temple out of fetal body parts.

          Isn’t that just horrifying?

        • JohnH2

          ???

        • purr

          True story.

        • Ron

          Michael Corleone: My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.

          Kay Adams: Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don’t have men killed.

          Michael: Oh. Who’s being naive, Kay?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So $60K is all they get? No housing? No meals? No other perks of value?

          For some televangelists, they can publicly proclaim a small salary. What good is a big salary except to pay for a posh lifestyle? Their church does that. I read about one televangelist hanger-on who had $300K of meal expenses per year.

        • Kodie
        • Ron

          Affinity fraud:

          In 2010, the FBI named its Salt Lake City office as one of the top five “hot spots” for financial fraud, putting it alongside much bigger offices in some of the nation’s largest cities.

          See also: Thieves in the Temple

          Here are some documented cases (with links).

        • JohnH2

          Ron, That isn’t the church itself but exploiting the network the church provides; and it is worse then just straight fraud; Multilevel marketing schemes are essentially barely legal ponzi schemes and are huge in Utah.

        • Kodie

          I wonder if that’s because it’s a hotspot of gullible folks.

          If a scam pyramid scheme is even more lucrative than the LDS, in Utah, I mean….

        • Kodie
        • Kodie

          This is where the Mormons say the money goes:

          http://mormon.org/faq/purpose-of-tithing

          It’s kind of expensive, yeah, to send 60k missionaries worldwide to gain so little, so I’m not surprised that “helping hungry people eat” did not make the list, while “building temples” did.

        • JohnH2

          Kodie, There is a separate fund for “helping hungry people eat”, that is fast offerings.

        • Kodie

          http://www.ksl.com/?sid=21228422

          The church statement
          offers a
          substantial summary of the history and purpose of the
          church’s finances. It
          states, “The key to understanding Church finances is to
          understand that
          they are a means to an end. They allow the Church to carry
          out its religious
          mission across the world.”

          5 conversion per year per peddler. Not smart business. Good thing they have other for-profit commercial interests, then.

        • Kodie

          Kodie, There is a separate fund for “helping hungry people eat”, that is fast offerings.

          These suckers can’t pay the Organization fast enough. They pay tithes already for the vanity and there’s another fund just to help people?

        • Fred

          Got to sell them on the dirt problem before you can sell them on the magic vacuum cleaner and spot remover.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I thought that it was technically hot drinks that were forbidden. Iced tea or coffee is OK?

        • JohnH2

          No, but Coke is.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          But help me out with the hot drinks thing. It’s not caffeine that’s the problem but the fact that they’re hot. Not so, apparently. Where am I confused?

        • JohnH2

          I don’t think you are confused. Church policy might be but that is a different question entirely.

        • Kodie
        • Alex Harman

          They were brewed hot before they were iced? Of course, it’s possible to cold-brew both coffee and tea; I’m not sure Joe Smith was aware of that, though.

        • purr

          And why is it that your missionaries have to go to the most dismal parts of the world to gain converts?

          Why are only those living in extreme poverty and suffering daily the most likely to join a church eh?

          Hmmmm.

        • JohnH2

          The missionaries go everywhere and baptize everywhere they go. Yes, western Europe has a very low baptism rate and South America and Africa have much higher baptism rates. Jesus Christ likewise had more success among those living in poverty and suffering daily rather than those that had comfortable lifestyles.

        • purr

          Yeah, because desperate people need a drug. And that drug is religion.

        • Kodie

          Doesn’t mean it’s true, it just means that vulnerable people make a better prospect for your snake oil, and you know it.

          And you still can’t make more than 5 per year per peddler?

        • Alex Harman

          Five converts/missionary/year would be an incredible rate of exponential growth if they all stayed converted and a significant percentage of them became missionaries themselves; were that the case, this would be an all-Mormon planet by now. Fortunately, their attrition rate approaches, matches or exceeds their conversion rate (which it does varies by region, of course).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Jesus Christ had a terrible conversion rate. He’s performing frikkin’ miracles there, and Acts 1:15 says that there were only about 120 believers total after his death. That’s the fruit of a 3-year ministry by the miracle-working Son of Man??

          Sathya Sai Baba was a charlatan who died a couple of years ago with millions of followers.

        • Ron

          Number of faithful Mormons rapidly declining

          SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is losing a record number of its membership. A new report quotes an LDS general authority who said more members are falling away today than any time in the past 175 years.

          At meetings like General Conference, Utahns may be used to seeing members of the LDS Church show up in record numbers. But according to a recent Reuters article citing LDS General Authority Marlin K. Jensen, for the church as a whole, the record in going in a different direction.

          Elder Jensen told the news outlet times have changed, and “attrition has accelerated in the last five or 10 years.” Some church members ABC 4 talked to said they see the faithful leaving.

          “I’m from Chile and a lot of people just stop attending, they take it a little bit too casual,” said Francisco Jerez, LDS Church member.

          So how bad is it getting? Right now there are more than 14 million members of the church worldwide. But according to the article, sociologists estimate active membership may as few as only five million.

          Elder Jensen told Reuters that’s the biggest departure since before the days of Brigham Young.

          And from the linked Reuters article:

          The LDS church claims 14 million members worldwide — optimistically including nearly every person baptized. But census data from some foreign countries targeted by clean-cut young missionaries show that the retention rate for their converts is as low as 25 percent. In the U.S., only about half of Mormons are active members of the church, said Washington State University emeritus sociologist Armand Mauss, a leading researcher on Mormons.

          What a friend we have in Google.

        • JohnH2

          Worldwide about 50% of Mormons are active, which gives something like 7.5 Million Mormons that attend church weekly. Some decent percentage of the inactives do attend church sometimes, just not weekly, which makes them more active then what many churches consider to be active.

          The one year retention rate listed is actually high for some countries I know; though many people in the church go through periods of inactivity; meaning that tells us nothing about how many should be considered Mormon. Some surveys come up with estimates that are quite close to the churches figures, some census’s come up with numbers that are quite a bit lower.

          The church though is still growing

        • Nox

          Are you counting people who are born as the children of mormons and baptized into that church by default as conversions?

        • JohnH2

          No, those are baptism of children of record which are counted separately from convert baptisms as the missionaries don’t teach those kids.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Kinda puts old Joe in a harsh light then. Or maybe he was just being modest and his religion is more compelling than he said. Or maybe the converts still don’t believe the poppycock arguments but sign on because it’s a great community.

        • Kodie

          And the missionaries are trained to repeat a fiction invented by a fraud.

        • Ron

          So inherently unbelievable that a tribe in the Brazilian Amazon ended up converting a Mormon missionary into an atheist:

          Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle

          From a book review:

          …They have no creation myth, and worship no deities.

          They do not have much interest in the world outside of their own area, and to them everything is transitory, even life. They routinely die of diseases that we take for granted in the first world, and their life expectancy is abysmal. Yet, paradoxically, they are considered the happiest people in the world.

          They live genuinely for the moment and care deeply about one another, sharing communally and having few tribal laws.

          Apparently they’ve already achieved contentment without the religious baggage.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What?? But how can you be content without all the guilt? Without knowing the debt you owe because of how much you suck but that Jesus took the debt from you but you still can’t get into heaven unless you believe certain things?

          How is this possible? It’s not fair to be happy the easy way.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Your “Aha! You don’t know the various interpretations of the afterlife!” is a little smug.

          “You don’t understand Mormon eschatology or soteriology!” is not like “You don’t understand quantum physics!” One is pretend and incompatible with other Christian interpretations. And the other is verifiable science.

        • JohnH2

          I realize it is incompatible with other Christian interpretations, in fact I sort of pointed that out: Neimund was assuming a doctrine that appears pretty much solely in LDS belief and attributing it to common Christianity which shows a lack of understanding of either and makes the comment to be unproductive at actually questioning either.

        • Niemand

          Prior to birth or prior to conception? Either way, it seems that abortion would be either harmless (no soul created before birth, no harm done) or a positive good (soul goes to heaven before it has a chance to sin and a risk of hell.) Wouldn’t the best move be to conceive as many little souls as possible? (And conceiving as many as possible means having abortions because you don’t want to spend a whole 9 months pregnant when you could create 3 or 4 new souls during that time…)

        • JohnH2

          “Prior to birth or prior to conception?”

          Sorry, given that I could tell that you aren’t familiar with Mormonism I should have been more clear in what it is I believe on the subject; our spirits are co-eternal with God. When the spirit enters the body has not be revealed.

        • Kodie

          When the spirit enters the body has not be revealed.

          I.e., you haven’t figured out the answer you’re all going with.

        • Kodie

          I think if you are sending as many souls to heaven as possible, you get on board with the IVF, enforce donation of all the eggs and sperm, combine them until you run out, and then throw them in the dumpster.

        • Ron

          Agreed! Free will and divine will are mutually incompatible concepts.

      • JohnH2

        You mean how God allows the accuser to try and test Job in all things so that Job is found worthy to stand in the presence of God and speak with God face to face?

        One would think that prior to accusing a concept of being undermined and failing on its own accord that one would take the time to actually understand what the argument is. It isn’t like we aren’t told that the rain falls on the just and unjust, or that we aren’t told that we will be tried as gold is in the flames of affliction, in fact we are promised such trials and told that Jesus has already suffered all so that He would know how to help us through all of our suffering and trials.

        • Kodie

          Conveniently, life’s obligatory gamble is not pretended to be something god can just wave his hand over and fix. He is just a coping mechanism, after all.

        • Ron

          A literal reading of Job only serves to illustrate my point. Why would an omniscient being need to test Job? Complete knowledge of Job’s character would render such a test unnecessary. And putting someone through such agony just to test their allegiance nullifies the claim of omnibenevolence.

        • JohnH2

          Did Job know what Job would do in that circumstance prior to Job experiencing it?

        • Ron

          What difference does it make? According to the story, Job was merely a pawn in a high stakes bet between God and Satan.

        • JohnH2

          It seems to make a huge difference to me. It doesn’t seem just to give everyone what they would have earned for themselves prior to them actually earning it. There would be no context for what was earned, no knowledge of why it was worth it or of what was at stake, no growth would occur, nor could it occur. God knowing what our future choices will be given a set of circumstances is completely irrelevant to us knowing what we will do in any given set of circumstances, especially when we can not even often imagine what the circumstances would be like prior to experiencing them.

          How many choices of today would make sense at all to an eight year old you? Would it make a bit of sense to punish or reward eight year old you for things that you are doing today?

        • Ron

          Perhaps we’re reading different books. Because the one I’m referencing contains one central theme: might makes right. And God spends four whole chapters pimping his CV of accomplishments to prove to Job that he’s the biggest BAMF in the universe — then sarcastically rubs it in by saying he’ll give props to Job if he can demonstrate similar skills (Job 40:9-14).

        • JohnH2

          God is not mocking Job, he is teaching him the “ordinances of heaven” and the verse on saving himself by his own right hand is God giving Job the power to do so and to see God and stand in His presence.

        • Itarion

          Or perhaps these are two alternative interpretations of the same thing. It’s hard to catch tone in the written word.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The lesson is: might makes right. Just like Ron said.

          God: “You got the huevos to do what I did? Show me, bitch.”

          Kind of a harsh lesson, especially in light of the “God is love” stuff you hear so much of today.

        • Kodie

          Spin.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yeah, but God was omniscient then. Only later.

          The Sodom and Gomorrah story is similar. He has to send some angels to do some recon to follow up on rumors that he’s heard.

        • Itarion

          So… Is God omniscient, or not? Actually, I think I answered this somewhere.

          Yep, on this page even.

          It’s called selective omniscience. He’s only omniscient when it plays to his favor, and being omniscient, knows exactly when it plays to his favor. He knows that, because knowing when something will play to his favor plays to his favor [naturally].

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/10/20-arguments-against-abortion-rebutted-4-of-4/#comment-1089409591

          Really, this should be added to the doctrines, because it clears up so much in ways that “God moves mysteriously” doesn’t.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Ah, specific nonspecific-ness. That is clearer.

      • purr

        Ordinary Morality Implies Atheism by Stephen Maitzen

        http://commonsenseatheism.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Maitzen-Ordinary-Morality-Implies-Atheism.pdf

        There is no *moral* *justification* for the suffering that God causes/permits. Even if little babies born with cancer go to Heaven after. There is NO justification. And if God is all powerful and all good, why subject little babies to suffering and cancer and so on when he could have just created the perfect world of Heaven and prevented innocent children from suffering all together?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          A popular example I’ve heard goes like this: Suppose I punch you in the nose for no reason. Then I say that to make it up to you, I’m going to give you a million-dollar house. You’re probably pretty happy with the arrangement, but I still screwed up.

          I had no justification for my wrong act, and the gift doesn’t undo that fact.

          Ditto for making a child endure cancer and then saying, “But you get a ticket to heaven!”

        • Itarion

          Although some people might take the punch in the nose for the promise of a million dollar house. I mean, I’d take a punch in the nose for a million dollar house. No death by cancer for immortality though. Immortality leads to boredom, and boredom leads to increasingly inventive and preposterous suicide attempts.

        • Niemand

          Immortality leads to boredom,

          How do you know?

        • Itarion

          Using mathetical concepts, an axiom or two, and deduction. You have an infinite quantity of time in which to do things, but a finite number of things which can be done. Thus, regardless of how many things you do, the average number of things done per time is effectively zero. And, since doing nothing is boring, and living forever means that you are, on average, doing nothing, you will be, on average, bored.

        • Alex Harman

          I think if you’re curious and imaginative it would take a very, very long time to get bored with immortality, though. I’m with Less Wrong’s version of Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality:

          “What would you do with eternity, Harry?”

          Harry took a deep breath. “Meet all the interesting people in the world, read all the good books and then write something even better, celebrate my first grandchild’s tenth birthday party on the Moon, celebrate my first great-great-great grandchild’s hundredth birthday party around the Rings of Saturn, learn the deepest and final rules of Nature, understand the nature of consciousness, find out why anything exists in the first place, visit other stars, discover aliens, create aliens, rendezvous with everyone for a party on the other side of the Milky Way once we’ve explored the whole thing, meet up with everyone else who was born on Old Earth to watch the Sun finally go out, and I used to worry about finding a way to escape this universe before it ran out of negentropy but I’m a lot more hopeful now that I’ve discovered the so-called laws of physics are just optional guidelines.”

          In addition, I suspect that the level of technology that would make us truly immortal would also let us modify our own memories; if one did become bored with immortality, one might erase some memories and relive something some of the fun parts of one’s eternal life for the first time all over again.

          Supposing the transhumanist goal of practical human immortality is actually achieved, I imagine it will be bittersweet for most of the first generation — those who were born and lived part of their lives when people still died.

        • Itarion

          “A very, very long time” is not the same as an infinite time. Eventually, an immortal WILL get bored, and get bored eternally. It’s an unavoidable consequence of immortality.

        • Alex Harman

          True, but unless the Christian/Muslim notion of an afterlife is actually right, it’s fantastically unlikely that, even if we do achieve immortality, it will be impossible for people who want to end their lives to do so. Erasing part or all of one’s memory and starting over might be thought of as a form of suicide — opting out of the monotheistic continuous-consciousness version of immortality, in favor of something more akin to the Hindu or Buddhist concept of reincarnation, in which the soul’s essential nature is continuous but it’s consciousness is erased and rebooted each time it dies and is reborn.

        • Itarion

          I’m glad you agree with me.

          Immortality leads to boredom, and boredom leads to increasingly inventive and preposterous suicide attempts.

          As you count erasing memories as death, the voluntary erasure of such would be suicide. Immortality leads to suicide attempts. You happened to come up with one that works.

        • Fred

          How do you arrive at a finite number of things that can be done?

        • Itarion

          That would be by the finite time until entropy reaches a maximum, and things stop happening everywhere.

          The question of whether the universe is finite or infinite spatially doesn’t matter, because the finite time in which you can travel before things stop happening, you can only reach a points within a finite space.

        • purr

          You would live long enough to see the earth’s ecosystem destroyed by the next asteroid.

          it’s not an if, just a when

        • Itarion

          And you would live long enough to see the Earth’s ecosystem recover, and incredible new species arise.

          Perhaps one of them would become the next intelligent “masters” of the world?

        • Fred

          “That would be by the finite time until entropy reaches a maximum, and things stop happening everywhere.”

          That includes the immortal person. Still not seeing a problem.

        • Itarion

          Immortality defies entropy. It has to. So an immortal, in the sense of someone who is literally unable to die, would survive past the heat death end of the universe.

        • Fred

          Right, so immortality is magic and the rest of the universe behaves rationally. Still doesn’t make sense. It sounds like you just want want it to suck.

        • Itarion

          Right, so immortality is magic and the rest of the universe behaves rationally. Still doesn’t make sense.

          But of course! Eternal entities don’t really exist. Once you have accepted the impossible, the illogical follows naturally.

          It sounds like you just want it to suck.

          Does this make me a pessimist, or just passively suicidal?

        • Fred

          Ah special pleading.

          No it just makes you not fun.

        • Itarion

          In that immortality denies entropy. Yes, that was special pleading. Allow me to justify why immortality follows different rules from the rest of the universe.

          A formal definition of immortal is “adj. not capable of dying.” The processes involved in living generate entropy, in the same manner that chemical processes, in general, generate entropy. Thus, for someone to live eternally, they would have to generate infinite entropy. Since entropy is a property of matter, and matter is a finite resource in a finite universe, an entity cannot produce infinite entropy. Since infinite entropy is required for immortality, and impossible within the universe, an immortal MUST obey a different set of rules than those followed by the remainder of the universe.

          Having explained why an immortal follows different rules, the different rules are no longer a case of special pleading, and you are free to critique my argument for different rules.

          As to the second part: I started this entire (if rather small) immortality sub-thread by being not fun. On a mild joke that I thought was insightful, unless it was a mild insight that I thought was funny. If I wasn’t fun, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation on whether or not I was fun. I think that my fun is just different than your fun.

        • Fred

          Nah you were using the Complete Immortality which is nonsensical. Its also the only one that has the end result of boredom and if and only if your/our understanding of universe and entropy behaves when it’s at it’s maximum is correct.

          Anyway,I was imagining immortality as any of the other options here http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Immortality

        • Itarion

          OHMYGODILOVETHATSITE!

          Well, yes, complete was what I was going for. And the others don’t inherently involve boredom, but the ageless is often played that way.

          And blood drinker in the Hellsing manga/anime.

        • purr

          It sounds like you just want want it to suck.

          Infinite BJ.

        • purr

          Yes, and even if making the child endure cancer was in order to ‘teach people the value of compassion’ or some other bullshit, it’s still child exploitation. Which is evil. Which is something an all loving all perfect all good god would not do.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And if compassion is the goal, what about when Bambi gets injured and dies a slow death from starvation, but it’s in the woods and no one knows. What’s the value in that?

        • purr

          Good point.

          Think of all the zygotes that God kills. And the woman often never knows that her body is responsible for the death of hundreds.

        • Kodie
    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      This also raises the question about why Jesus, The Great Physician, didn’t just eliminate cancer by magic when he was last here. Or even afterwards.

      • Ron

        He works in mysterious ways, Bob. 😉

      • Nox

        Or why his dad included that in his design in the first place.

  • ronedee

    Exodus 21:22-24

    King James Version (KJV)

    22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from
    her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according
    as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges
    determine. 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
    24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

    What were you saying is clearly stated about the value of the fetus?

    Call abortion what you will. And twist up God’s words into party balloons all you want…. But, it still ends a life. There is no doubt about that. And the more you trivialize it, the more desensitized our society becomes to the fact that it is a life they are throwing in a trash can along with their half-eaten PB&J sandwich.

    But, obviously that is your goal.

    In the 1960’s Kermit Gosnell did an interview stating, “the life of the fetus was of the utmost importance to him”. Did he come to his senses some 40 years later? If so, why is he in prison serving 3 life sentences, with a 70% public approval rating?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Call abortion what you will. But, it still ends a life.

      Big deal. I kill flies and think nothing of it.

      And the more you trivialize it, the more desensitized our society becomes to the fact that it is a life they are throwing in a trash can along with there half-eaten PB&J sandwich.

      They trivialize it because it’s, y’know, trivial. A single human cell is precious to you because it has human DNA. Sorry—that’s nothing that makes my eyes mist up.

      Do you get similarly excited about a single mouse cell?

      why is he in prison serving 3 life sentences, with a 70% public approval rating?

      Uh, he’s in prison because he broke the law. What is your point?

      • JohnH2

        Bob, you spectrum argument has clipping toenails on one end, what exactly do you think is on the other end?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s a single fertilized human egg cell at one end and a newborn at the other. We’re all pretty much in agreement that it’s a person at that point.

        • ronedee

          Your pov has the person suffering less by killing the fetus now.

          If the end result of the fetus is a human, then its murder!

          Most abortions are performed in the 8-12 week range which is far past your “insect” stage. The embryo heartbeat numbers well over 5 million times by then!

          So then, what’s the difference between you and a living, heart pumping fetus? By the looks of you, 70 or more years and a judge over some helpless chaps future?

          What is really pathetic, and sickening is your total lack of respect for life. Do you also enjoy pulling the wings off of flies before you kill them?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If the end result of the fetus is a human, then its murder!

          If the end result is a human, then it’ll be murder when it’s a human.

          I prefer seeing value as a spectrum—no inherent value as a single cell and the value of a human at birth.

          Most abortions are performed in the 8-12 week range which is far past your “insect” stage. The embryo heartbeat numbers well over 9 million times by then!

          What I hear you saying is that any abortion should be done ASAP. Sounds right to me.

          So then, what’s the difference between you and a living, heart pumping fetus?

          It’s a spectrum. Where do you draw the line?

          What is really pathetic, and sickening is your total lack of respect for life.

          Should I lay down on the couch, Doctor, or can you do your analysis by blog comment?

          Do you also enjoy pulling the wings off of flies before you killed them?

          The embryo starts as a single cell. What value do you give that?

        • ronedee

          How many abortions are performed in the first 5 weeks? I’ll give you a hint… it starts with 0 and ends with?

          I firmly believe in education. I also believe [prevention] is the key to solving the problems of abortion.

          I don’t wish to analyze you. My observations from my own couch are very sufficient.

          If indeed you are against late abortions [as the lesser evil], why the nasty tone? You have a big stage, and I see no competition to speak of….. whats the gig? Is this an act? A flexing of muscle if you will?

          I’ve had dealings with many of your ilk, and they are either far left or against abortion and stay out of the fracas.

          I’m not trying to argue….just looking for answers and common ground.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          How many abortions are performed in the first 5 weeks? I’ll give you a hint… it starts with 0 and ends with?

          Plan B is the tool here. I imagine it’s prevented lots of pregnancies. And abortions.

          If indeed you are against late abortions [as the lesser evil], why the nasty tone?

          I assume you’re referring to your “pathetic and sickening” label.

          Yeah, good question. It did seem unprovoked.

          You have a big stage, and I see no competition to speak of

          Flattering, but there are quite a few voices out there that dwarf mine.

          whats the gig? Is this an act?

          The Dark Lord® has me on retainer.

          I’ve had dealings with many of your ilk

          Curses! All my weakness will be revealed!

        • purr

          61% of abortions are before 9 weeks moron

          91% are before 13

          This is what a typical abortion looks like;

          http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ls6w7phG8f1qi68z9.jpg

          SPOT THE PERSON

        • Itarion

          Standing behind the camera. You can see either his or her gloved hand in the top right of the picture.

        • ronedee

          uh huh! No dumbass….I will show you the non-typical 6 week abortion.

          And SADLY you will “SPOT THE PERSON”! http://realchoice.blogspot.com/2008/10/six-week-embryo-and-abortion-graphic.html

        • purr

          Your pro-life site is lying about the dates, asshole.

        • Niemand

          How many abortions are performed in the first 5 weeks? I’ll give you a hint… it starts with 0 and ends with?

          Wrong. According to the CDC, in 2009 there were over 90,000 abortions performed at less than 6 weeks in the parts of the US that reported, accounting for nearly 33% of all abortions performed.

          Reference: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6108a1.htm?s_cid=ss6108a1_w#Tab23

        • Niemand

          I’m sorry. I misread the table: It’s actually over 175,000 and 35%. My apologies for the error.

          Note that white women and non-Hispanic women are more likely to have abortions in the first 6 weeks. Almost as though wealth and privilege leads to better access…

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Another observation: the fraction of early terminations increases with older women. Perhaps better education leads to quickly addressing the problem and fewer late abortions.

          Perhaps something for the pro-lifers to consider?

          (Nah–just kidding!)

        • ronedee

          WRONG??!!!! Hey Nimrod…. Thanks for nothing!

        • purr

          By your idiotic logic, it is murder to kill the cardiac cells in a petri dish.

          Moron.

        • ronedee

          Moron? Where in my writings did i say anything about “cardiac cells”? No, I believe you are the idiot for opening your mouth with nothing to say.

        • purr

          You didn’t. but you claim that heartbeat = life.

          So, by your idiotic definition, cardiac cells in a petri dish are human beings.

          Dumbass.

        • Alex Harman

          Wherefrom comes your obsession with the heartbeat as a criterion for life, and why on earth would you expect us to share it? That which makes human life valuable lies in the patterns of neural activity in the brain that form the mind, not in the mass of muscles that pump blood through the body.

          If my cerebral cortex were destroyed but my heart, lungs, and autonomic nervous system continued to function, I would be no less dead than if my entire body were reduced to ashes — my self, everything that makes me a person, would have ceased to exist. (That’s exactly what happened to poor Terri Schiavo. Keeping her corpse breathing in the false hope that her no-longer-existent mind might magically wake up was an act of profound masochism by her parents.)

          On the other hand, if my brain could be removed from my body and kept alive in a nutrient jar while my body was cremated, I would still be alive, though probably not very happy about it unless I could get either transplanted into a new body, or inserted into a convincing simulation of world that wasn’t too unpleasant to live in. For that matter, if my memories and thoughts could be uploaded into a computer and run as a simulation of my personality in a virtual environment, and if that were done so well that the simulation of me responded to situations in the virtual world in all respects exactly as the original flesh-and-blood me would respond to the same situations in the real world, then I would still be alive for as long as the simulation ran even if my entire body, brain included, had been cremated.

          The difference between me and a fetus is that I have memories, ideas, emotions, relationships with other people, and the ability to experience happiness and suffering. I have consciousness and agency; a fetus has neither. It might in the future, if it isn’t spontaneously or intentially aborted — but so might any of the practically infinite possible combinations of spermatozoa and ova that never encountered one another.

        • purr

          On the other hand, if my brain could be removed from my body and kept alive in a nutrient jar

          http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085894/
          The Man With Two Brains

          Not, “the man with two beating heart corpses”

        • Alex Harman

          Fun movie, though very silly. “The screw-top method.” :-)

        • ronedee

          I see. So in your rationale, ones developed encephalon to include learned experience is the essence of human life.

          Hmmm…. Then where do unfortunates with Cephalic disorders rate on your list of human beings? Or, those with learning disabilities, autism or down syndrome? Their existence in some cases are…well… like an innocent fetus. Maybe less so, given that there may be no development or cure in sight for them. Wouldn’t that group rate [less] in your magnificent brain than a healthy, lively embryo?

          And the elderly, perhaps with Alzheimer disease? What usefulness do they have: taking up space, drooling all over themselves, and sopping-up time, money and valuable resources that you, yourself could have? Just like, “Terri Schiavo”, or a fetus, they wouldn’t know a thing if you ended their lives!

          Just think, what a perfect world it would be if you could treat
          those without your “consciousness and agency” just like an intentionally aborted fetus! Or, as Bob says, “like killing flies”.

        • Alex Harman

          I see.

          No, apparently you don’t.

          Hmmm…. Then where do unfortunates with Cephalic disorders rate on your list of human beings?

          Depends on the disorder; if it’s anencephaly, they rate as briefly animated corpses — no brain = no person. (In fact, no neocortex = no person.) Milder cephalic disorders, however, are not at all incompatible with personhood.

          Or, those with learning disabilities, autism or down [sic] syndrome? Their existence in some cases are…well… like an innocent fetus.

          Bullshit. People with those conditions, even in their most severe forms, are awake, aware, and able to make decisions — more so than a neonate, and I have no problem including neonates in the definition of personhood. A fetus’s existence is not only without consciousness or agency, which even the most severely disabled people with Downs syndrome or autism do exhibit, it requires the fetus’s mother to host it inside her body; that gives her, and nobody else, the right to decide whether it continues to live or not. Since disabled people do not need to violate any other person’s bodily integrity to go on living, no other person has the right to end their lives. (I know there are some — almost invariably male — libertarians who seem to think their money is just as integral a part of themselves as a woman’s uterus is a part of her; they, not to put too fine a point on it, are idiots.)

          Maybe less so, given that there may be no development or cure in sight for them. Wouldn’t that group rate [less] in your magnificent brain than a healthy, lively embryo?.

          That slippery slope you imagine you see in my reasoning is a staircase, the first step is quite high, and it leads up, not down, so falling down it isn’t really a possibility. Also, my brain doesn’t have to be “magnificent” to work better than yours; it just has to be free of the sludge of false assumptions that’s clogging up your thought processes.

          And the elderly, perhaps with Alzheimer [sic] disease? What usefulness do they have: taking up space, drooling all over themselves, and sopping-up time, money and valuable resources that you, yourself could have?

          What, do you take me for a Republican? Letting people who can’t take care of themselves die so that other people can use the resources needed to keep them alive is a conservative policy, except when the “resource” in question is another, non-consenting human being whose body the conservatives want the law to confiscate and press into service. I’m a progressive, I have no problem with spending money to feed and house those too disabled to survive on their own, as long is it doesn’t involve housing them inside a woman who doesn’t want them there and feeding them on the nutrients in her bloodstream.

          Just like, “Terri Schiavo”, or a fetus, they wouldn’t know a thing if you ended their lives!

          No, they wouldn’t, which is why living wills are a very good idea. If I were in an advanced state of dementia with no hope of recovering my mental faculties and experiencing constant pain and discomfort, I certainly hope someone would follow my directive (established while I was still a functional person) to put me out of my misery; I would most likely do it myself before I was too far gone to do so, if I could see that that was my inevitable future. (It’s possible I wouldn’t have the chance, of course, since a major stroke can reduce a person from full competence to terminal dementia in a matter of hours.) I have some hope that by the time I have to seriously worry about that prospect cryonic suspension will be a realistic alternative. In any case, though, it’s not a decision I can or should make for anyone else except a loved one who explicitly confers the authority to do so on me, in which case I would act in accord with that person’s wishes as expressed before they lost the ability to think and communicate.

          Furthermore, neither the congenitally disabled nor the elderly with terminal dementia are incapable of living except as obligate endoparasites on one particular human being; that status is unique to zygotes, embryos and fetuses, and therefore their existence is uniquely contingent on the consent of their host, who has the right to withdraw that consent and terminate their existence.

          Just think, what a perfect world it would be if you could treat those without your “consciousness and agency” just like an intentionally aborted fetus!

          As usual, the “pro-life” argument erases the pregnant woman it seeks to enslave from the picture. I don’t have the right to treat a fetus in any way at all, to destroy it or to preserve it, any more than you do; I’m male, no fetus is ever going to inhabit my body.

        • ronedee

          Of course you missed the whole point I was making. Most of the afflicted groups mentioned are dependent in some way on others. And the reason to have them is “love” whether they know it or not. Or whatever their state of being is.

          [IF] the “host” as you say, is invaded by an evil parasite that will be the cause of her death she has every right to terminate it…just as any of us do, male or female! But, 98% of the time they are willing participants in the cause of their condition. So, it isn’t fair to treat what “becomes” a person (as you, and I) like trash. And 92% of all abortions are performed in the 12-13 week range. Which is quite more than the microscopic DNA that people around here like to fool themselves into believing!

          That said, it may surprise you that I have no problem with anyone doing anything to their own bodies, for any reason! What I do have is a problem with you, and others telling me that abortion is right, forcing me to pay for it, and to accept it as a procedure like snipping skin nodules off of your ass. It is not. There is no common ground in this case. None.

          As I’ve stated here previously, I am for education, and prevention. And in no way will I prevent a woman, or anyone (in their right mind) from doing anything to her own body! But, don’t make me a party to it…or agree that it is right! Because I will fight to the end to save any life, in a dish or on a cliff.

          I hope whatever reasoning you use in your seemingly brilliant mind, or from your twenty-five dollar word list saves your soul from damnation!

          On a higher note, its been stimulating and educational talking to you Alex. Thanks for your civil replies! Ron

        • purr

          And 92% of all abortions are performed in the 12-13 week range

          61% before 9 weeks

          91% before 13 weeks

          You ignorant, lying sack of shit.

        • ronedee

          FUCK OFF DICKHEAD!

        • Kodie
        • Alex Harman

          :-) Ah, A Few Good Lines. Pity that character was such a psychopathic bastard. Incidentally, it was loosely based on a real case, but the lawyer who was the inspiration for Daniel Kaffee, David Iglesias, looks a lot more like Eward James Olmos than Tom Cruise. I’ve tried to visualize that scene with Olmos, but it just doesn’t work: midway through Nicholson’s rant, Olmos snarls “Sit down and shut up!” and Nicholson is so shocked at meeting someone who can out-snarl him that he does exactly that.

        • purr

          Compelling.

        • Alex Harman

          Um, point of order: on this particular point he can’t be both ignorant and lying. If he’s ignorant, then he was telling what he erroneously believed to be the truth, and if he was lying, then he knows what the truth actually is and thus isn’t ignorant. Of course, you could solve that by simply replacing the space between “ignorant” and “lying” in your comment with a “/” mark. 😉

        • purr

          Yeah, I was just being mean, and not particularly concerned with those ‘points of order’.

          Ignorant lying sack of shit does have a ring to it, does it not?

        • Alex Harman

          It does, though if I was asserting that the sack of shit in question was both ignorant and lying I’d use a comma after ignorant.

        • purr

          I done changed it :)

        • Alex Harman

          Heh. Yay for grammatically correct invective. :-)

        • Alex Harman

          Of course you missed the whole point I was making.

          I understood your point just fine; you drew a false equivalence between fetuses and disabled people, and I recognized it as false and rejected it accordingly.

          Most of the afflicted groups mentioned are dependent in some way on others. And the reason to have them is “love” whether they know it or not. Or whatever their state of being is.

          There’s a huge, qualitative distinction between being dependent on money and care that any willing person or group of people could provide, and being dependent on one particular person sacrificing some degree of her health* to keep you alive. Also, it isn’t necessarily “love” that keeps disabled people alive in a modern, civilized nation; even disabled individuals who nobody particularly loves are cared for at some minimal level by the state, because the public conscience (and our self-interest, knowing that any one of us could potentially end up in that situation) demands that the government not just let them die. Of course, the degree of that conscience varies, and “just let them die” is actually a fairly popular position with the same political movement that wants to force women to gestate and bear children against their wills and the Constitution’s prohibition on forced labor.

          [IF] the “host” as you say, is invaded by an evil parasite that will be the cause of her death she has every right to terminate it… just as any of us do, male or female!

          Most parasites are not fatal; many are merely inconvenient, nowhere near as dangerous or debilitating as pregnancy, and yet we still have the right to get rid of them. Also, parasites are not evil; evil is a feature that conscious agents may have, when they use their agency to do harm to other conscious agents, without justification, for their own benefit and enjoyment. A tapeworm isn’t evil or good; it simply does what natural selection has shaped it to do, which happens to be harmful to its host. A fetus is unlike a tapeworm in that its host may well choose to tolerate its presence, since given time it will develop into a person who shares half her genome, which gives her genes an evolutionary “interest” in its survival. They in turn have given her an emotional interest in its survival — one that may or may not outweigh her other interests, an assessment that only she is qualified to make.

          But, 98% of the time they are willing participants in the cause of their condition.

          I don’t know that, and neither do you; rapes reported and treated by the law as rapes are the tip of the iceberg. What the letter of the law recognizes as rape, and what can be proven to be rape beyond any doubt that at least one out of twelve jurors regards as reasonable, are two vastly different things. Rape can happen without even the victim being conscious of it as rape at the time. To say that 98% of unintended pregnancy resulted from sex in which the women were “willing participants” is extremely dubious at best.

          So, it isn’t fair to treat what “becomes” a person (as you, and I) like trash.

          You say that, and I say it isn’t fair to treat what already is a person, as you or I, like livestock.

          And 92% of all abortions are performed in the 12-13 week range.

          False. 92% are performed in the 0-13 week range, and 64% in the 0-8 week range. There’s very little variation in these numbers year over year — see the CDC dataset for 1998-2007.

          Which is quite more than the microscopic DNA that people around here like to fool themselves into believing!

          Nobody said microscopic but you; most of us are actually aware of the size and shape of a zygote/embryo/fetus at various stages of development (I sort of have to be, having taught general biology at a community college). We’re also aware of its lack of thoughts, emotions, perceptions, etc. — of any of the qualities that make a person a person. (Hands, feet, eyes, a mouth, external genitalia or a beating heart are not among those qualities, in case you’re confused.)

          That said, it may surprise you that I have no problem with anyone doing anything to their own bodies, for any reason!

          It doesn’t surprise me that you would claim that; for things other than terminating a pregnancy, I have no particular reason not to believe it, either.

          What I do have is a problem with you, and others telling me that abortion is right,

          Not exactly. We’re telling you that it’s a right that women have, and that right or wrong, you don’t get to take that right away from them.

          forcing me to pay for it,

          Strawman; nobody here is forcing you to pay for it. Even if it were covered by Medicaid and subsidized insurance, we wouldn’t be forcing you to pay for it, anymore than we’re being forced to pay for things done with our taxes that conservatives like and liberals don’t, such as wars of aggression and imprisoning people for possession of marijuana. The treatment of abortion as an extra-special unique case where the “conscience” of some taxpayers gets to dictate policies affecting others is garbage.

          and to accept it as a procedure like snipping skin nodules off of your ass. It is not. There is no common ground in this case. None.

          As I’ve stated here previously, I am for education, and prevention.

          That’s good; most of the pro-life activist movement is against education (they prefer the medical misinformation and slut-shaming misogyny peddled under the label “abstinence only”) and prevention (they want to ban or at least reduce access to contraception as well as abortion).

          And in no way will I prevent a woman, or anyone (in their right mind) from doing anything to her own body!

          Good; don’t vote for any “pro-life” politicians, then.

          But, don’t make me a party to it…

          You’re not, not in any case that’s politically conceivable.

          or agree that it is right!

          Nobody can make you change your opinion; the most we can do is make you mind your own business.

          Because I will fight to the end to save any life, in a dish or on a cliff.

          Depending on how you mean “fight,” you may or may not be contradicting your last few sentences; if you mean you would use physical coercion to stop a woman from having an abortion, she and anyone who cares about her has the right to fight back with the same level of force they would use to stop someone trying to rape her.

          I hope whatever reasoning you use in your seemingly brilliant mind, or from your twenty-five dollar word list saves your soul from damnation!

          Since eternal souls, and their potential damnation and salvation, are imaginary, that’s not really an issue. Barring a remarkably early achievement of the transhumanist goal of computer-mediated immortality, my brilliant mind, the pattern of neural connections and activity inside my skull that makes me the person I am (and a person at all, for that matter), will cease to exist upon the death of my brain. That’s not an especially happy prospect to contemplate, but it makes me no different from every other human being that’s ever lived thus far, and as a middle class white American heterosexual man living in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, my life will most likely last longer and feature less suffering and injustice than the vast majority of theirs.

          On a higher note, its been stimulating and educational talking to you Alex. Thanks for your civil replies! Ron

          Oh? I thought my replies had been kind of snarky, myself (though no more so than you have), but I’ll take the compliment, and say that I’ve also found it stimulating talking to you; thus far you’ve been a dramatic improvement on the last pro-life commenter I engaged in these threads. It is easier for me than it would be for most women to remain calm and not resort to vituperative language in abortion debates, for the same reason that might be easier for a white abolitionist than a former slave in the debates over slavery — unlike them, I cannot be directly injured by laws that restrict abortion.

          * Osiote (a.k.a. The Commenter Formerly Known as Jejune) posted a long, though not necessarily comprensive, list of the detrimental health effects of pregnancy earlier in this thread.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          And 92% of all abortions are performed in the 12-13 week range.

          12 weeks or before, I assume?

          I presume your point here is that any abortions should be done ASAP, and the many obstacles placed just to delay the abortion are actually counterproductive from the pro-life perspective.

          Which is quite more than the microscopic DNA that people around here like to fool themselves into believing!

          So then when it is just a cell with human DNA, you accept the point of the spectrum argument and call that less important than the newborn at the other end?

          That said, it may surprise you that I have no problem with anyone doing anything to their own bodies, for any reason! What I do have is a problem with you, and others telling me that abortion is right, forcing me to pay for it, and to accept it as a procedure like snipping skin nodules off of your ass. It is not. There is no common ground in this case. None.

          As I’ve stated here previously, I am for education, and prevention. And in no way will I prevent a woman, or anyone (in their right mind) from doing anything to her own body! But, don’t make me a party to it…or agree that it is right! Because I will fight to the end to save any life, in a dish or on a cliff.
          I hope whatever reasoning you use in your seemingly brilliant mind, or from your twenty-five dollar word list saves your soul from damnation!
          On a higher note, its been stimulating and educational talking to you Alex. Thanks for your civil replies! Ron

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And 92% of all abortions are performed in the 12-13 week range.

          12 weeks or before, I assume?

          I presume your point here is that any abortions should be done ASAP, and the many obstacles placed just to delay the abortion are actually counterproductive from the pro-life perspective.

          Which is quite more than the microscopic DNA that people around here like to fool themselves into believing!

          So then when it is just a cell with human DNA, you accept the point of the spectrum argument and call that less important than the newborn at the other end?

          That said, it may surprise you that I have no problem with anyone doing anything to their own bodies, for any reason! What I do have is a problem with you, and others telling me that abortion is right, forcing me to pay for it, and to accept it as a procedure like snipping skin nodules off of your ass. It is not. There is no common ground in this case. None.

          I can’t make my way through this confused maze of acceptance and rejection.

          As for paying for it, imagine the Christian Scientist who must pay for any medical procedure.

          Do we just give you line-item veto so that you can pay only for stuff you like? Maybe you don’t like your fraction of the defense budget, so you cut that part in half, or you want more environmental oversight, so you increase the EPA’s fraction, and so on.

        • purr

          Just think, what a perfect world it would be if you could treat those without your “consciousness and agency” just like an intentionally aborted fetus! Or, as Bob says, “like killing flies”.

          Why do you idiots prefer not to talk about microscopic embryos and instead focus almost exclusively on babies and the disabled? Oh right, because you can’t really make the case that a tiny piece of DNA smaller than the period at the end of this sentence is a person, so you have to make lame emotional appeals instead.

        • ronedee

          “…a tiny piece of DNA” LOL! Well if you are describing yourself? Maybe I’d make an exception.

        • purr
        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          As one of this blog’s clever commenters noted, if you can put it in a freezer, it ain’t a person (Bill Maher).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Your personality uploaded into a computer (and then switching off life support for your head) would be good for your friends and family, because John would, more or less, still be among us. It would suck for you, however, because you would actually be dead.

        • Alex Harman

          That’s a debatable point; if the analog of my personality in the computer has complete continuity of memory with me, the same emotions and the same or enhanced reasoning faculties, am I “dead” in any sense that I ought to fear? If my avatar can exist in a virtual reality that provides the same range and intensity of sensation as the real world, and is responsive to my wishes, I might reasonably regard that setting as Heaven. And if my personality can be downloaded from the computer back into a clone of my body, or a cybernetic body for that matter (neither of which seems terribly unlikely at the level of technology that would allow personalities to be uploaded and stored), then in what sense am I “dead?”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          From my standpoint, perhaps you wouldn’t be dead, since your personality lives on. But it’s a copy of the carbon-based you. From the standpoint of just you, you die.

          If your goal is to preserve your personality (for the betterment of the world, for the comfort of your family, etc.), that’s great. But you won’t be cheating death in the not-dying sense. Your organic body will still live its three score and ten years and that’s it.

        • Alex Harman

          That’s true, but whether it should be important to me depends on what I mean by the words “I,” “me,” and “myself.” I grant that some people’s conception of the entity designated by those words in indistinguishable and inextricable from their organic bodies, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Indeed, at least in theory it isn’t the case for religious people who believe that they have immortal souls, who are probably a majority of all human beings.

          For me, the main reason for not wanting to die is that I enjoy life and would like to keep on enjoying it. An avatar of my mind existing in an advanced virtual reality would, at least in theory, be able to continue having all the types of experiences that make my life enjoyable, not to mention some that I couldn’t ever have while my mind exists in its present meat-and-bone housing.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ve found this argument (which I associate with Ray Kurzweil) pretty uncompelling. Woody Allen’s comment seems relevant: “I don’t want to gain immortality through my art; I want to gain immortality by not dying!”

          But I hadn’t thought about what you may have alluded to: if I’m not excited by the thought of my dying but another Bob resurrected at that moment in a computer to continue to exist, then what’s the value of heaven? Isn’t it the same thing?

        • Alex Harman

          Gaining “immortality” through your art just means that people remember you; it’s not at all in the same category as something that would allow your consciousness (or at least a copy thereof) to persist and continue interacting with the world after the death of your body. That is pretty much what the Christian and Muslim concept of Heaven would do for us; while there’s no reason at all to think that the Christians or the Muslims are right that such phenomena as immortal souls and an eternal home for them exist, we may be able to create something akin to it ourselves.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, that’s a good distinction between what we can do today (immortality through one’s art) and what we might soon do (immortality of a copy of one’s personality/mind).

        • Niemand

          The embryo heartbeat numbers well over 5 million times by then!

          Some years ago I participated in a ritual where a bunch of people stood around a person and, without so much as using anesthesia, ripped his still beating heart from his body. Did we murder him? No. He was already dead. His brain had died in a nasty accident and he had, in life, agreed to leave his organs to others when he died and his relatives respected his wishes and allowed his corpse to be used this way.

          So, do you understand what this says about the relevance of “5 million heartbeats”?

          *Well, technically we put him in fib first, but that sounds less dramatic.

    • Itarion

      …with a 70% public approval rating?

      If he’s such a terrible person, then why does he have such a high approval rating? Does it not make you stop, think, and wonder if you are on the wrong side of this debate?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        I’d like a citation for the 70%. A doctor like Tiller, however, murdered by “pro-lifers” did indeed have a broad fan base.

    • Alex Harman

      It’s clearly stated that the fetus is a valuable possession of its (presumptive) father. If a man injures a pregnant woman so that she miscarries (“her fruit depart from her,” in the KJV’s poetic terminology), the man who injured her has to pay her husband a fine. Her husband can demand whatever amount he wants, but the judges will determine whether the amount demanded is excessive, and make the final decision on how much must actually be paid. That’s likely to vary with the status of the husband — a rich man’s potential offspring is presumably worth more than a poor man’s — and also with how far along the pregnancy was. That would be because the husband has been investing in housing and feeding a woman who can’t do as much work as she could when she wasn’t pregnant, and now has to wait until she recovers from the miscarriage, impregnate her again, and wait another nine months for the birth of his next child.

      On the other hand, if the woman dies, then the man who fatally injured her will also be killed — “life for life.” If the woman is maimed, the man will be similarly maimed, “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” etc.

      If you’re trying to sell the evangelical Bible revisionist version of this verse that turns miscarriage into premature birth, and injury or death of the woman into injury or death of the prematurely born child, then using the KJV was a mistake; you should have quoted one of the revisionist translations produced since the late seventies, when American evangelical protestants quite suddenly dropped the nuanced, moderately pro-choice position that most of them had articulated up until then when they wrote or talked about abortion, and adopted the Catholic absolutist position of “personhood from the moment of conception.” (Immediately followed by a positively Orwellian effort to rewrite both scripture and recent history in order to pretend that evangelicals had always been fanatically anti-abortion.)

      • purr

        You said you like to test your mettle against various pro-lifers?

        Well, meet Bob (if you dare).

        This one is particularly vile.

        He believes that:

        1) Women were made to make babies. Making babies is a woman’s job. Having an abortion goes against what women were made for by nature. If a woman doesn’t want to be pregnant, then she hates her sex and wants to be a man

        2) When informed about the dangers of pregnancy, he said that ‘you don’t have the right not to be sick’.

        3) He says that zygotes = human life, and therefore should be protected. He says that human life = personhood, but he won’t talk about personhood because pro-choicers use that to ‘muddy the issue’.

        Anyways, if you’re up for it. If not, I understand. I hate this guy however, he is worse than Albert.

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/10/how-i-lost-faith-in-the-pro-life-movement.html#comment-1091704434

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Does this guy get slapped around appropriately at Love Joy Feminism?

        • purr

          We have been having some problems because he is quite slippery.

          Every time I showed him science that backed up my viewpoints – you’ve seeen all the stuff Bob – he says that he won’t waste time reading my ‘spam’ posts.

          Feminerd and some others have spent some time debating him, but he just comes back with the usual shit ‘a zygote is a human life ‘ ‘the right to consent does not override the right to a life’ ‘women were designed by nature to have babies’

          The gender essentialism is really pissing me off.

          We do, however, have another guy on the ropes. Albert. Albert believes that pregnancy = taking responsiblity for your actions. Unless you’re a guy. The guy should not be legally obligated to give blood etc to save the fetus’ life during the pregnancy. Because that would be to treat the man as a *commodity*. And treating people like objects is wrong, Bob, wrong!

        • Alex Harman

          Gaaack! I’m not jumping into that piranha tank, sorry. Four thousand comments and counting, on a post that just had its first anniversary, on a blog that uses freaking Disqus? Never mind the actual arguments, I’d collapse from exhaustion trying to read through the thread, or die of apoplexy at the way Disqus slows down my CPU when you have even a few hundred comments displayed at once. I love Libby Anne’s blog, but I know when I’d be biting off more than I can chew.

        • purr

          Bob got scared off, thankfully.

          He was so vile. I generally don’t hate pro-lifers, but I despise this guy.

          I have real problems with the ones who are misogynist and PROUD OF IT.

        • Alex Harman

          Yeah, when I run across a pro-lifer who also spouts Mens’ Rights propaganda and rails against rape exceptions (because all those sluts who got pregnant by being slutty will just lie and say they were raped, amirite? ) I tend to suspect that he has a personal stake in the matter — he doesn’t want any pregnancies he might manage to inflict on one of his victims to be terminated.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        I remember hearing how that passage isn’t as tough for pro-lifers to handle as it appears, but I wonder if the sleight of hand that supported the argument rested on this verse “update.” I hadn’t heard this before.

      • ronedee

        I quoted KJV just for you! Because I already knew what you would say if I used the revised editions.

        So let me get this straight! You got all that hogwash out of that one paragraph in Exodus? LOL!

        Where does it say the “fruit” dies in those passages? Or just what “mischief” is? Duh…could it mean “DEATH”?!

        [definition: Origin
        late Middle English (denoting misfortune or distress): from Old French meschief, from the verb meschever, from mes- ‘adversely’ + chever [‘come to an end’] (from chef ‘head’).]

        Here’s some “poetic terminology” fur ya…Stick with sanitary engineer. Theology is not your forte.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          (I think you poked the wrong bear with a stick …)

        • ronedee

          …why because he has three names? Oooooooo!

        • Alex Harman

          More likely because I seem to have drummed wlad out of these threads. Not alone, of course, but I think I was engaging with him the most and pounding him the hardest of any of the commenters he wasn’t self-righteously ignoring because they’d gotten impatient enough with his schtick to lob F-bombs at him (Kodie and jejune, that is). The tone of that last post of his sounded tired and discouraged, and he left me with the last word in most of our exchanges.

          And I just fixed the three names thing, which was just an artifact of Facebook’s past inflexibility in regard to people who use their middle names in the first place.

        • purr

          Exodus 21:22 If men strive [fight] an hurt a woman with
          child, so that her fruit [fetus] depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

          One source comments that because some Bible translations (KJV, RSV) use the phrase “woman with child”
          that God considers a fetus to be a human child. But other translations render the phrase simply as “pregnant woman” and make no direct reference to the fetus.

          This verse describes a situation in which a man, who is fighting another man, accidentally hits a pregnant woman, and causes a termination of her pregnancy. The following verse, 23, explains that if the woman died, the guilty man would be executed by the state. The accidental killing of
          a woman under these circumstances was considered a capital offense, because she was a human person.

          Verse 22 is confusing. The key Hebrew word “yatsa”
          literally means to “lose her offspring.” This has been translated in different Bible versions as:

          A miscarriage: This would imply that the fetus died immediately as a direct result of the accident. Assuming no further harm happens (e.g. that the woman does not die), the man responsible would have to pay at a fine. The amount would be set by her husband and approved by the judges. This would imply that the death of the fetus was not considered to be the death of a human person. If it were, then the man responsible would be tried for
          murder and executed. However, because the fetus had possible future economic worth to the father, he would have to be reimbursed for his loss.

          premature birth: This implies that the fetus is born earlier
          than full term. Assuming no further harm happens (e.g. that neither the woman nor the baby dies) then the man would pay a fine. One possible interpretation of this passage would be that if the premature baby died, then the man responsible had killed a human person, and would be tried for murder. The verse is ambiguous at this point.

          The New International Version of the Bible uses the phrase: “gives birth prematurely.” and offers “miscarriage” as an alternative translation in a footnote.
          Some liberal theologians reject this interpretation. They point out that this passage appears to have been derived from two earlier Pagan laws, whose intent is quite clear:

          Code of Hammurabi (209, 210) which reads: “If a
          seignior struck a[nother] seignior’s daughter and has caused her to have a miscarriage [literally, caused her to drop that of her womb], he shall pay ten shekels of silver for her fetus. If that woman had died, they shall put his daughter to death.”

          Hittite Laws, (1.17): “If anyone causes a free woman
          to miscarry [literally, drives out the embryo]-if (it is) the 10th month, he shall give 10 shekels of silver, if (it is) the 5th month, he shall give 5 shekels of silver…” The phrase “drives out the embryo” appears to relate to a miscarriage rather than to a premature birth.

          Author Brian McKinley, a born-again Christian, sums the passage up with: “Thus we can see that if the baby is lost, it does not require a death sentence — it is not considered murder. But if the woman is lost, it is considered murder and is punished by death.”

        • Alex Harman

          The version from Hammurabi’s code really drives home the fact that women in that society were regarded as livestock, not people with rights of their own: if a man kills another man’s daughter, the killer’s innocent daughter, not the killer himself, is executed. The crime is a property crime against the other man, not a violent crime against the dead woman, and the punishment is to be deprived of the same type of property.

        • Ron

          The story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11 – 12) illustrates this point even further. David’s punishment for stealing another man’s wife and having her husband killed was the loss of the child resulting from that illicit affair.

        • Alex Harman

          Well, I certainly would have linked to the same Slacktivist posts regardless of which edition you quoted, since they’re equally relevant to the argument. All I had to do to work out the rest of the post was have a passing familiarity with the context in which the paragraph was written — a place and time when wives and children were the property of their husbands and fathers, infants born at full term had an appallingly poor rate of survival, and the survival of a preemie was pretty much unheard-of. I’m also aware that the interpretation that “fruit departs” means a miscarriage, not a premature live birth of a viable baby, and that the “mischief” bit refers to death or maiming of the woman, not the fetus, was widely if not universally accepted by Jews and Protestants, with only the Catholics dissenting, up until the late 1970’s.

  • Y. A. Warren

    From my blog:

    Co-Creating Community of Responsible Compassion

    Where does vomit and diarrhea fit into The Sacred Scriptures? It is so easy to talk about heroics that include blood caused by war and sacrifices of flesh to the gods, but nobody wants to talk about the heroics of carrying on with your responsibilities when your womb is bleeding every month to expel a readiness that was not, and may never be, needed. Nor do we discuss the chores that are still done when this same process has the woman doubled over with pain. We simply walk away or continue to call out, “When are you going to feel better and take care of your responsibilities?”

    Physicians refuse to remove the offending organ unless the physician determines that it is diseased. They willingly remove a man’s reproductive capability as soon as the man asks for the operation and pays the going price. Dis-ease is defined as that which makes a person feels discomfort. Why do we allow physicians to decide when our discomfort becomes dis-ease and when it is simply another burden we have to bear because our ancestors angered the wrong god?

    Before paternity could be proven, a woman was grateful for any man who would support her and her offspring.Though she may have been forced to bear the offspring, at least she had some hope of help in feeding herself and her family.Childbearing was a bit more progressed than in the purely animal environment, but not by a large measure. The lucky children were born to people who wanted to protect their family seed in order that the children could take care of them as they weakened, and to continue their lineage. Sex-on-demand was the reward human males were to receive in exchange for resources given to the mother to support her life and to enable her to parent the offspring. Of course, that usually doesn’t happen when babies are vomiting on the mother.

    It seems to me not an accident that human males became more attentive to their children when birth control for women became readily available and effective. It also seems to me that men became more open to having themselves sterilized when DNA analysis began to prove paternity. All the religions in all the world, for all of human history didn’t scare people, through promises of peace or punishment in the afterlife, into behaving with responsible compassion toward their own offspring or other vulnerable parts of the population.

    The religious people had a back door of sacrifice to the gods in order to redeem themselves in their own minds and communities. The children were often the scapegoats in these efforts. The non-religious felt no sense of wrongdoing, unless and until, they got caught and the wrongdoing could be blamed on them. Neither really believed that training the children in responsible compassion, through parental example, was important until science changed our ability to hold each other accountable for our actions.

    We are still animals in human skin. Sex without committed compassion connected to committed community is simply the satisfaction of animal instinct, like eating and eliminating our waste products from our bladders and bowels. The promise of family levels of commitment comes from religions; but, in fact, the blood of our own families is still stronger incentive to care for the young than is the blood of the animals sacrificed to “God” or gods.

    It takes many years of devotion and example to bring a child up to their full capacity for humanity. Responsible compassion must be modeled for our animal selves to trust in the power of passion of a community not of our own blood. So few people in today’s society take the time to passionately and compassionately parent their own offspring; the commitment is even more rare in parenting the offspring of others. Is it any wonder the we still experience both territorial alpha and scared, submissive animals in many of our social endeavors?

    Even Heaven is seen as having only so many seats, so the tribes continue to fight for supremacy in their sacrifices to their “God.” We reap what we sow on earth. When will we realize that we have to work at being each fully human here on earth, while we build a community committed to creation of heaven on earth with each other?

    Until this time comes, it seems to me that abortion is more responsible than the abuse of the poor little homo sapiens who may never have any human teach them how to become fully human themselves.

  • $28895381

    As far as #17 goes, I’ve often wondered if people who make this argument would also support the mandatory viewing of an execution for jurors sitting on a capital punishment case.

    It’s just a big appeal to emotion.

    • purr

      And what if it was death by beheading or something gross.

      • $28895381

        Thats my point. Instead of allowing a purely logical decision based on the facts, people who make this argument want to inject emotion into it. By showing them a particularly brutal execution, jurors who may normally vote for the death penalty may change their mind. And women who have thought through the process and came to a logical decision to abort, may relent after seeing the cute fetus pics.

        • purr

          Yep.

          And this is also why they talk about how gross abortion is. they seem to be particularly obsessed with cutting and ripping of fetal parts.

          Sickos.

        • Alex Harman

          Essentially, the basis of their morality is esthetic, not ethical; they’re more concerned with surface appearances than the underlying reality.

        • purr

          I don’t think it’s entirely disingenuous either.

          I think it also at least partially explains why they hate gays so much – they can’t stop thinking about how ‘gross’ gay sex is. Specifically gay male sex. I have been on conservative boards where the guys were talking about how sick gay sex is, while simultaneously rubbing one out thinking about hot lesbian sex in the pornos they watch.

          http://www.livescience.com/16746-conservatives-disgust-political-views.html

        • Alex Harman

          Yes, right-wingers are much more likely than progressives to mistake their irrational, visceral feelings of disgust at certain things for divine revelations that those things are morally wrong. The ones who are strongly racist tend to have similarly visceral reactions to the thought of “miscegenation,” and also mistake those reactions for evidence of a moral principle against interracial sex.

        • randomfactor

          Organ harvests for transplants are pretty gross too. You should have to view one before accepting a transplant. And you have to watch the needle go in, or no anesthesia.

      • Little_Magpie

        nope…hanging, drawing and quartering, That is probably the grossest, most horrific way. Although being burned alive is also pretty damn bad.

  • Tayglas

    As to your last point, Christians do not believe in premarital sex or abortions. These do not contradict each other.
    Also, if one believes they are mature enough to have sex, they must surely be mature enough to raise this child. Abortion seems to me to be a way of getting rid of a mistake one made, so that she does not have to deal with the consequences. If one truly does not want a child, one should not have sex.
    (I am not, of course, talking about cases of rape, incest, or life-threatening physical complications.)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      As to your last point, Christians do not believe in premarital sex or abortions.

      And yet they’re having a heckuva lot of premarital sex (unwanted pregnancies are worse per capita in red states), and I imagine they’re having their share of abortions.

      Also, if one believes they are mature enough to have sex, they must surely be mature enough to raise this child.

      Huh??? Not even close to being true. “Mature enough to have sex” could apply to a comatose person. You have a very low opinion of the skills it takes to be a parent.

      Do we say, “If they’re mature enough to operate a car, they’re surely mature enough to drive around on the streets of my town”? Or, “If they’re mature enough to squeeze a trigger, they’re surely mature enough to own and carry a gun”?

      Abortion seems to me to be a way of getting rid of a mistake one made

      You mean like going to the emergency room after having a car accident? Yeah, society is like that. We make mistakes, and society helps us through them. I suppose if you worked in an emergency room, you’d tell everyone, “Hey! You should’ve known that this could happen. Go home and think about it.”

      If one truly does not want a child, one should not have sex.

      If God had wanted that, why would he have allowed teens to be sexually mature so young?

      • Tayglas

        There’s a difference between physical maturity and emotional maturity.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Uh, yeah. Precisely my point. That two kids are physically able to conceive is hardly enough evidence that they’d be good parents. (More precisely: that she would be a good mother.)

        • Tayglas

          My point is that being able to physically conceive does not equal being able to emotionally handle it. Therefore, one should not have sex until emotionally ready to conceive.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          A stereotype comes to mind of a crotchety old geezer shaking his cane and saying, “You young kids these days! You gotta know when to keep your pants on! Take some gol-dang responsibility, why doncha?”

          That’s probably not you. But you’re about as realistic as this person.

          You take a teen who’s 16 today and ready to go and tell him to just hold his horses until he gets married at 29 (the average for men in the U.S.)? Ain’t realistic.

          So he has premarital sex. So what? Teach teens how to do it safely and teach them about the consequences. That’s what we do with cars.

        • Tayglas

          Well first, I only am slightly older than that age (Don’t want to give anything away online), and I know plenty of young men who do hold themselves to these standards.
          And although I do not believe in premarital sex for myself, I am not condemning those who do not believe the way I do. I am merely advocating for responsibility in it. Sex is a big deal. It should not be something that is just given freely. And the biological purpose for it is the creation of children.
          All that I argue is that if one thinks he (or she) is physically mature enough to have sex, he should be emotionally mature enough to have sex and to deal with the repercussions of his actions.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I know plenty of young men who do hold
          themselves to these standards.

          If it works for them, that’s terrific. It obviously doesn’t
          work for everyone.

          We could keep shaking our canes at those gol-durn young people who keep sexing each other, or we could face reality, see that premarital sex is inevitable, realize that it’s not a sin (though withholding sex education is), and take a harm-reduction approach to the issue.

          the biological purpose for it is to have children.

          That’s a purpose. It’s also lots of fun.
          An inadvertent “purpose” is to have fun.

          All that I argue is that if one thinks he (or she) is physically mature enough to have sex, he should be emotionally mature enough to have sex and to deal with the repercussions of his actions.

          And I agree. He/she should take precautions to have safe
          sex, realize that sex changes a relationship, and make sure that the sex doesn’t cause harm (no coercion, for example). The woman should follow up on clues that she’s pregnant and address any pregnancy quickly—if she’s going to have an abortion, have it quickly.

          Pretty obvious stuff, really. I don’t pretend to be
          providing new insights.

        • Tayglas

          This whole argument just stems from faulty principles. The thing is that a newborn human, although not the EXACT same as a fetus, is still a human. Splitting hairs over whether or not it is twenty cells or has a heart or has just taken its first breath is not logical. We would save a baby in a burning building before an old woman because the baby has potential for a long life, whereas the old woman has already lived hers.

        • Kodie

          Why are you splitting innocent hairs?

          Are you freaking kidding me, you would justify the rescue of an infant over an old woman because she’s used up? You are a fucking asshole.

        • Tayglas

          Calm down. I’m just stating how rescuers would react in that situation.

        • purr

          Asshole is right. Would you save a petri dish of embryos and let the woman die? Would you save a pregnant woman over a baby because she is two lives?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Splitting hairs over whether or not it is twenty cells or has a heart or has just taken its first breath is not logical.

          I don’t think highlighting the difference between a single-celled organism and a trillion-cell newborn is “splitting hairs.”

          We would save a baby in a burning building before an old woman because the baby has potential for a long life

          Are you done now? Can we get back to the issue at hand?

          The issue isn’t baby vs. old woman. The issue is baby vs. single cell that you can’t even see without a microscope.

          See the difference?

        • Tayglas

          If you want to play that way, then don’t use the analogy of an accidental gunshot victim. The issue is an innocent life, not someone who shoots himself because he wasn’t behaving safely.
          Differentiating between the first and second trimester is a fallacy of logic. If it’s okay in the first, then it should be okay in the second and third. But it’s not even to most pro-choicers.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If you want to play that way, then don’t use the analogy of an accidental gunshot victim. The issue is an innocent life, not someone who shoots himself because he wasn’t behaving safely.

          The way we’re going to “play” is by acknowledging the similarity between someone who shoots himself because he wasn’t handling a gun safely and someone who gets pregnant because the couple wasn’t having sex safely. In both cases, we patch them up as they see fit.

          If you want to point out the differences, that’s fine, but let’s first acknowledge the similarities.

          Differentiating between the first and second trimester is a fallacy of logic. If it’s okay in the first, then it should be okay in the second and third. But it’s not even to most pro-choicers.

          You’ll have to explain it to me because I’m not even remotely seeing it. Seems to me that a newborn baby is a person, and a single cell you need a microscope to see isn’t. Big, big difference. There’s a spectrum here. You’ve read my spectrum argument?

        • Tayglas

          My point was that if it’s okay to have an abortion in the 24th week, but not in the 25th? If the differentiation has to be made, then it shouldn’t be done at all.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Where in the spectrum between blue and green do I draw the dividing line? Dang, it’s so hard! I want to move it a little left, and then a little right. And then left again! I’m driving myself crazy!

          I think I’ll just say that blue = green. It’s obvious, now that I think of it. No difference at all.

          Your argument is like that. Except less sensible.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Another argument: since deciding on the proper punishment for a thief is difficult, we shouldn’t have punishment at all.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Differentiating between the first and second trimester is a fallacy of
          logic. If it’s okay in the first, then it should be okay in the second
          and third. But it’s not even to most pro-choicers.

          It’s not a “fallacy of logic.” It just demonstrates that we pro-choicers aren’t as comfortable making completely arbitrary distinctions as you are.

          I don’t consider a zygote, a fertilized egg, a baby. The fetus while its mother is in labor, however, is by any definition a baby. I don’t think it’s possible to determine at exactly what point the fetus achieves its babyhood, so that’s why we make the distinction of first-trimester-fetus.

          The issue is an innocent life

          Again with the creepy moralism. If the fetus is innocent, I guess we all know what its knocked-up mother is, huh?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Splitting hairs over whether or not it is twenty cells or has a heart or has just taken its first breath is not logical.

          At least we agree on that. I consider it a much more relevant distinction that the “human” you’re talking about here is still developing inside another human’s body. The way pro-lifers talk about this issue and never mention the mother, or make it sound like the fetus is floating around in the ether somewhere, is absolutely chilling.

          I don’t deny that the fetus represents potential life. But the fact that a fetus has its full complement of chromosomes or a heartbeat is no excuse for dehumanizing an adult woman by pretending she’s irrelevant to the matter.

        • Kodie

          You are a puppet. Sorry, but we had this argument and you’re not saying anything new or interesting.

        • Tayglas

          Insulting me doesn’t make your case any stronger.

        • Kodie

          Why don’t you read the thread? Why do you think you’re bringing up anything new that we haven’t already responded to – a month ago.

        • Tayglas

          Don’t act as if you’re bringing up new arguments either. You’re just insulting me.

      • Tayglas

        You also seem to be mistaking the word “old” and “mature.” Of course we don’t say that if someone is old enough to operate a car, then are mature enough to drive it around town.
        Please define the word mature as you think I mean it.

      • Tayglas

        The accident is not a relevant analogy. The choice to have sex is one each person makes (for the most part). Getting pregnant is a consequence of this choice. An abortion is the way of not dealing with this choice. It’s a way of erasing a mistake.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You have sex with a condom? You’re gonna have to deal with the fact that it’s not 100% reliable. You may get pregnant. That’s your point, right?

          You drive a car? You’re gonna have to deal with the fact that you may get injured. That’s just a consequence of driving a car on a road.

          Sounds like a pretty strong analogy to me.

        • Tayglas

          Say some guy gets drunk and decides to drive himself home. You have just seen a movie with your friends and are also driving home. As you go through an intersection, said guy hits you with his car, killing you instantly.

          This guy knew the risks of driving drunk, yet he did it anyway. Would it be society’s job to get him out of this mess?
          Would we, even worse, withhold punishment because you knew the risks of driving at all?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Would it be society’s job to get him out
          of this mess?

          Yeah, good point. In this case, we should just let him bleed to death. That would teach him a good lesson. He wouldn’t do that again, eh?

      • Tayglas

        As an ideal, Christians do not believe in premarital sex. That surely does not mean that they do not have it. Just because one thinks lying is wrong does not mean that they suddenly do not lie. This is true for Atheists and Christians alike.

    • purr

      Consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy.

  • sydney

    Dose it really matter about hew is right and hew is wrong. We are all entitled to our own opinion’s, and personally I think that if u don’t won’t a baby, don’t have sex(it could be that simple), sex was ment for reproduction, not a night out on the town, so if your just “giving it away” all the time, don’t run away from the consequences of your actions and just “kill” the unborn baby, have it and raise it. I also don’t think it’s right to call someone wrong for their personal beliefs, when you also have your own personal beliefs.(but that’s just my opinion’s):D

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Thanks for your input.

      I think you’re taking a simplistic attitude toward a complex problem.

      No, sex wasn’t meant for reproduction. Sex can lead to reproduction, but it also can lead to pleasure. Primates have lots of sexual encounters for each conception, so liking sex is natural. I see no reason to apologize for that.

      Also, a fetus isn’t a baby. If you want to call it one, go ahead, but don’t impose that classification by law on the rest of us.

      • 90Lew90

        When I read that (I think it was the “hew” that did it), I heard Mallorie Knox. Bit scary.

  • asmondius

    16. I agree that this is not a valid argument – seems a little too convenient for your purpose.

    17. This is the same case as for dropping bombs from highflying aircraft – for God’s sake, let’s just kill them before we realize they are human.
    18. Redundant item – you’re repeating yourself.
    19. ‘A fetus is not a person’ – science disagrees. Shame on you using 1970’s excuses.
    20. No comment necessary.
    Some progressives want to have their cake and eat it too – all sex all the time without responsibility or repercussions. That’s one reason why we have one million abortions per year.

    • 90Lew90

      I’ll tell you what I think. I think your little hop-skippity-jump from making excuses for your dearly-respected and decent paedophiles to threads on abortion are very telling. I think you know full-well you’re in the gutter, with your church and its hierarchy, in trying to deny that there was industrial-scale child abuse enabled, facilitated, and covered up by your church for goodness knows how many generations, so you’re trying to obtain some moral high ground on abortion.

      I also think you give as much of a fuck about abortion as you do about the thousands upon thousands of children’s lives ruined by your clergy and by your church. None. So you might as well drop the pretence. It’s truly amazing that you’re not just speaking out of turn. You can make a boo-boo in the heat of the moment in a verbal argument. But you are actually sitting there at a keyboard having to think about this stuff, and still you remain blind to the outrageous stuff you’re committing to a board where it will stay. What a wonderful window the anonymity of the internet gives us on people. Particularly the religious, who I have found consistently, since the early-2000s, to be the most nasty-minded, mean-spirited, self-centred bunch of cunts I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across.

      And I bet in the light of day you’ve got a real nice smile and are as smug as fuck because you’re in a community with other nasty-minded, smug as fuck, self-righteous fucks and there is much mutual back-slapping and telling each other how great you are. You really, really do make me want to hurl. Liars I’m not too keen on at all. Hypocrites I hate. And you look at atheists and suppose we’re all amoral, lying, sinning scumbags? Maybe it’s best that you hold onto your belief in your god if that acts as a leash. You people unleashed? I dread to think!

      • asmondius

        Ask someone to compare your responses to mine and vice versa. It will be enlightening.

        • 90Lew90

          How’s that?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      16. … seems a little too convenient for your purpose.

      I don’t see how it’s especially convenient. It’s an argument that I’ve heard often.

      17. …for God’s sake, let’s just kill them before we realize they are human.

      Let’s kill them before they become a person, if that would be advantageous to the mother. But how your comment applies to issue #17, I don’t see.

      18. Redundant item – you’re repeating yourself.

      And what do you think of #1 – 15? I guess we’re on the same page?

      19. ‘A fetus is not a person’ – science disagrees. Shame on you using 1970’s excuses.

      No, this is simply stupidity on my part. Correct me.

      And if “personhood” is not a property that the single cell gains once it’s a newborn, tell me what that property is.

      Some progressives want to have their cake and eat it too – all sex all the time without responsibility or repercussions. That’s one reason why we h ave one million abortions per year.

      Is that why? I thought it was abysmal sex education.

      The issue is unwanted pregnancies. Since everyone thinks they’re bad (unlike abortions), let’s focus on those.

      Search “premarital sex” on this blog and you’ll see my defense of it.

      • asmondius

        16. … seems a little too convenient for your purpose.

        ‘I don’t see how it’s especially convenient. It’s an argument that I’ve heard often.’
        eh – looks like an easy target to hit.

        17. …for God’s sake, let’s just kill them before we realize they are human.

        ‘Let’s kill them before they become a person, if that would be advantageous to the mother. But how your comment applies to issue #17, I don’t see.’
        You advocate killing the unborn before it is possible for the mother to see the fetus as a recognizable human figure. Defining ‘personhood’ as having appendages gives no hint of moral truth.

        18. Redundant item – you’re repeating yourself.

        ‘And what do you think of #1 – 15? I guess we’re on the same page?’
        I meant the supposed argument here.

        19. ‘A fetus is not a person’ – science disagrees. Shame on you using 1970’s excuses.

        ‘No, this is simply stupidity on my part. Correct me.

        And if “personhood” is not a property that the single cell gains once it’s a newborn, tell me what that property is.’
        Here is a simple answer – I know of no human life that does not have personhood, I know of no person who did not have life. There is simply no part of the human growth pattern where the person is not unique or alive or human.

        If you are referring to ‘personhood’ as a legal or political concept, well heck since when do law and politics ever completely approach reality.
        Finally, your ‘single cell’ concept has gone the way of the old ‘blob of cells’ argument, since we know the zygote begins dividing relatively quickly after fertilization. The blastula represents the end of a stage, as far as cell division goes.

        – Some progressives want to have their cake and eat it too – all sex all the time without responsibility or repercussions. That’s one reason why we h ave one million abortions per year.

        ‘Is that why? I thought it was abysmal sex education.’
        Perhaps it simply appears ‘abysmal’ because it is not the panacea you think it is.

        ‘The issue is unwanted pregnancies. Since everyone thinks they’re bad (unlike abortions), let’s focus on those.’
        I’m not sure what an ‘unwanted pregnancy’ is. Unwanted by the Mom, the Dad, Society….? Our society has celebrated single motherhood and out of wedlock children for quite some time now, hasn’t it?

        ‘Search “premarital sex” on this blog and you’ll see my defense of it.’
        I’ll be sure to when I have a chance.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          You advocate killing the unborn before it is possible for the mother to see the fetus as a recognizable human figure.

          “Seeing” isn’t the issue. Is it a person or not? If we’re talking about a fly, a rat, or a single human cell, it’s not.

          Again, if you’re just a little odd in seeing a single cell as a human, go for it. Not a big deal. Just don’t demand, by law, that every other person see things your way.

          I know of no human life that does not have personhood

          Yes, I think I already got that. Yet again, I must repeat myself: if you think that a single cell and a newborn are both “persons,” then tell me what the newborn is that the single cell isn’t.

          Perhaps it simply appears ‘abysmal’ because it is not the panacea you think it is.

          You just enjoy arguing, I guess. Let me suggest another approach: since you and I both don’t like unwanted pregnancies, and zero unwanted pregnancies would give you what you want (nearly zero abortions), why not find a way for us to work together? Would you just feel dirty or something if we agreed? You tell me: why are there so many unwanted pregnancies in the U.S.? And what would bring that number down?

          I’m not sure what an ‘unwanted pregnancy’ is. Unwanted by the Mom, the Dad, Soci ety….?

          By the mom.

          Our society has celebrated single motherhood and out of wedlock children for quite some time now, hasn’t it?

          To some extent, though your camp is doing its best to shame unmarried mothers. But so what? A 17yo girl sees a pregnancy as getting in the way of her dream to go to college, and you have no use for that? You can’t at least acknowledge that the woman’s desire to go to college or not bring a life into the world that would be unwanted is a reasonable desire?

  • realityguy

    Wow. Not the scientific nor analytic depth I expected. Since majority of fetuses born at 5 months live, then abortion at and after 5 months is clearly, scientifically, murder.
    Therefore, murder is OK in the USA under certain restrictions. E.g. murder of innocent war victims is OK if its collateral damage. Murder of unborn but developed enough to live independently is OK in most places. So, at least be honest and call it what it is.
    You can debate morning after pill etc. But you didn’t define abortion in detail; but doing so would clarify your analysis.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      My focus is on the spectrum. Are you saying that you and I agree that there is no “baby” at the single cell stage, and that killing that is a right that the mother has?

  • lorasinger

    This is what an abortion REALLY looks like.http://38.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ls6w7phG8f1qi68z9.jpg

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Or a miscarriage.

      The pro-life crowd conflates all abortions together–those done in the early weeks and those done in the third trimester. Done early, what you’re killing is not that big a deal.

      • lorasinger

        Unless it impacts their lives personally, there is absolutely no reason for them to try to institute their beliefs as law and impose them on others. The procedure is there for those who deem that it is necessary and it should remain so. The anti-abortion crowd have entirely too much to say.

        Third term abortions amount to some 3% of pregnancies and are done if the child is dead or dying, is so badly deformed that there is no point in carrying it the final three months (as in anencephaly), or is a danger to the mother’s life.
        .
        This were the comments that came with the above picture:
        This is what an average abortion looks like.

        It’s not that you can’t show one, but that you don’t want to. Because inaccurate, doctored photos of bloody fetuses are a lot more startling than a clump of cells in a petri dish.
        All the “DED BABIES” is BS unless the mother for some reason waits really long to have an abortion.

        I seriously don’t like how people over exaggerated abortion images.

        You would only see an actually aborted child if something happened during the pregnancy and they could only save the mother.

        It’s more shocking to see something that LOOKS like a baby as opposed to a few tadpole looking cells. These are meant to shock and scare you and SCARE YOU. HOWEVER… every woman should support a woman’s choice to make that personal decision herself.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, the pro-life crowd focuses on third-trimester abortions. By doing so, they acknowledge that the fetus becomes more person-like over time. And by extension, that aborting early isn’t so bad. Maybe not bad at all–but they never approach it that way. Attacks their argument too much.

        • lorasinger

          But that is the clincher. By the time they are person-like, they are well into the pregnancy when abortions are rarely done. 89% in the first trimester, a few in the second because there has been some hold up for the woman to have one and only very few in the third.
          .

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, I roughly agree with those statistics. Do you agree with my point?

        • lorasinger

          Absolutely!


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