I’m Pro-Life, Too

Laura at Thinkerbell is taking back the word:

The Religious Right is Pro-Fetus, Pro-Zygote, Pro-Little-Bunch-Of-Cells, Pro-Sea-Monkey, Pro-People-Seeds. Those labels all fit very well. But where is the Conservative Christian fighting for the life of the rape victim mother? Where is the anti-abortion activist who cares about the 23 year old woman who barely earns enough to support herself, let alone a new child? Where is the Religious Right who cares about the life of the woman more than the life of the blastocyst?

… I am offering up a challenge:

Stop letting the Religious Right call themselves Pro-Life. Don’t give in to the use of their hijacked term. Call them Anti-Abortion, or Anti-Choice, and Anti-Life…anything but the label they now claim. Because those of us who support a woman’s right to choose, and a PERSON’s right to live, we are the true Pro-Lifers.

Hear, hear!

It brings to mind one of my favorite George Carlin bits of all time:



  • Norm

    Excellent piece and clip. If I were female, I would be telling the anti-choicers to keep their filthy government hands off my uterus.

  • http://www.bigmama247.com Alise

    I fully agree. I HATE what pro-life has come to mean, particularly since I don’t see ANY policies espoused by the “pro-life party” actually supporting anything “pro-life.” When you order a preemptive war that kills hundreds of thousands of civilians to pay back the loss of 3000 civilians, that’s not pro-life. When a president is completely silent about the growing epidemic of AIDS in the 80′s, that’s not pro-life. When you vote against social programs that can make it easier for a woman to choose to continue a pregnancy, you are not pro-life.

    I’m sick of pro-life being reduced down to “pro-birth.”

  • Heidi

    I miss George. I can watch him (especially on that tour) over and over and it’s still funny every time.

    And since I am female, the anti-choicers can keep their filthy government hands off my uterus. Where’s your smaller government now?

  • Claudia

    I’m certainly pro-choice, and I think it’s ridiculous to pretend that a 5 day old embryo is anything approaching a “person” of any kind, but I also recognize that even in the absence of religion there are actual moral issues with abortion.

    I have yet to meet anyone, no matter how pro-choice, that would be comfortable with the abortion of a healthy 8 month old fetus. There is no substantive difference between that fetus and a newborn baby, something we all accept it would be totally unacceptable to kill.

    So how far back is far enough? It’s a very difficult question to answer, since development is continuous. Viability is one option, but it’s tricky because it’s subject to technological advancement. We’ve gone into the 6 month range for viability in the western world, so does that make aborting at 6 months more acceptable in a poor country than a rich one? And what happens when (and this will happen) the entire pregnancy can potentially occur extra-utero? Will that suddenly make all abortion morally unacceptable? Birth defects open a whole kettle of fish of their own.

    I guess my point is that it’s an actually complicated issue, with many different shades of gray, all of them highly uncomfortable. I understand and support fighting for the right of a woman to make such determinations on her own with her doctor, but I don’t we should react to the absurd over-simplification of the other side with over-simplifications of our own.

  • Pingback: George Carlin: Pro Life, Abortion, And The Sanctity Of Life « Le Café Witteveen

  • KD

    “Where is the anti-abortion activist who cares about the 23 year old woman who barely earns enough to support herself, let alone a new child?” Thank you! This is a demographic too often forgotten about in the “Abortion Wars.” It’s not a choice that is made lightly, easily, or quickly. It’s filled with tears before and after all is said and done. Women who choose abortion need as much love and support during this point in their lives as women who CHOOSE to have a kid.

  • The Captain

    I’ve been telling people to use the term “Anti-Abortion” for years now. The main reason though is because the term “pro-life” gives up part of the debate right there in the labels we use. Whenever two people go on TV (or whatever) and they are described as “pro-life” and “pro-choice” the pro-choice speaker has already lost. Usually they also only argue that women should be allowed to “choose”, but they never expand more than that. So for an undecided person, if the point of it being a “life” is never challenged, then how can there be a choice. The debate needs to be “pro-life” vrs “it’s not a life and you have no right to force that idea on me!”

  • Jonas

    Claudia: ” Viability is one option, but it’s tricky because it’s subject to technological advancement. “

    Viability is also tricky because it’s a question of probability and cost. Even if Heath Care costs were guaranteed paid for, how much effort do you give to a pre-term baby, and are you there with any disability support that may be needed over the child’s life time.

    While I am a happily No Children Husband — I can’t see someone carrying a healthy fetus to 8 months, and then going for Abortion. I can understand the pain of having to give a child up for adoption, but if a woman were going as far as 8 months and not keeping the baby, I’d hope she’d plan on adoption. — Unless a situation arose where the Mother’s life were endangered — Then if it were me it would be a painful farewell to the baby, but I can’t see myself sacrificing my life for it.

  • Stan

    Claudia makes an excellent point. Abortion is at its heart a moral issue. At the moment of conception a human life has begun. This is a scientifically accepted biological fact. The question now arises, what status do we give to that life? At the present time the mother has the absolute right to end her child’s life regardless of circumstances up to the 9th month of pregnancy. If anyone else ends that life they can be charged with a crime, but the mother and the medical personnel who assist her in the abortion are not guilty of any crime. We can talk about gray areas, what ifs, exceptions to the rule until we are blue in the face, but we know the unborn child is a human being with potential, not a potential human being.

    The George Carlin piece does not shed any light on the subject, only heat. The number of lies, half-truths, and hateful insults he hurls in 8 minutes were too numerous to count and would take too long to respond to here, so let it suffice to say that he and those who believe what he says are badly misinformed or purposefully ignorant about the work that is being done by men and women of many faiths to make the world a better place for crack addicts, unwed mothers, alcoholics, pre-school children, etc. Oversimplifications such as Carlin’s should not be applauded and laughed at but challenged.

  • Jamssx

    I have to say I liked this video showing how those protesters don’t like it when someone gives it back to them http://www.boingboing.net/2010/10/25/husband-confronts-ab.html

  • Sean

    At the moment of conception a human life has begun. This is a scientifically accepted biological fact.

    As far as I can see, the moral value of a human life comes from having a unique personality and experiences, and what sets human beings apart from other animals is the complexity of our relationships and our capacity for abstract thought, which make human minds in a sense greater and more valuable (precisely how much value should be given to non-human minds is a separate, complex issue).

    While there might be room for debate on when exactly a fetus should be thought of as a child, the “at conception” standard simply makes no sense to me. Before the brain forms and cognition is at least theoretically possible, there’s no possibility for experience, thought, emotion, self-identity, or that nebulous thing we call consciousness. Before that point, a fetus is only a piece of tissue that happens to contain human DNA. Maybe a particularly interesting piece of tissue, but one with less personality than my dog, or, for that matter, a mosquito.

  • Min

    At the moment of conception a human life has begun. This is a scientifically accepted biological fact.

    What’s your source for this “scientifically accepted biological fact”? Everything you say hinges on that, but you’re just assuming I accept it as truth. One could contest that an embryo is no more a human than a tadpole is a frog.

  • Neon Genesis

    What I don’t get is how so many pro-life Christians can also be so hardcore about supporting the death penalty. They claim only God can take somebody’s life as the reason for why abortion should be illegal but turn around and support the death penalty for criminals. It’d be like being pacifist and supporting the Iraq war at the same time.

  • noel44

    @Stan:
    “but we know the unborn child is a human being with potential, not a potential human being.”

    No, we don’t know that. This is the heart of the question and you’ll have to accept that not everyone will agree with you.

    My position is in tune with Claudia’s and I too have questions about abortion, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. However, I would rather have the mother be the one who gets to make the decisions rather than someone else when there is moral ambiguity surrounding the issue.

    As for the notion that some religious do “good works”, I assure you they constitute a minority. I am thankful for the work that they do but the vast numbers of religious who would ride on their coattails do not get a pass because of them.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    At the present time the mother has the absolute right to end her child’s life regardless of circumstances up to the 9th month of pregnancy.

    This is false. I can’t speak for every country, but in the United States and the UK, the time limit for abortions “regardless of circumstances” is 24 weeks. After 24 weeks, abortions are generally available only in order to preserve the health and life of a woman or in cases of severe fetal abnormality.

  • BlueRidgeLady

    I don’t care if it can play the piano, no one has the right to use a woman’s body without permission, period. So whether or not you consider a fertilized egg as much of a human as an adult woman, that “person” still does not have that right.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    There is no middle ground on the anti-abortion\pro-choice debate. They are addressing different questions. The anti-abortion crowd say that it is wrong to end a life and define life as a fertilised egg onward. The pro-choice crowd say that it is wrong to remove the decision of a woman’s reproductive freedom from the woman. Completely different questions. One centres on the developing child and the other on the mother.

    Personally a living, breathing human being who is capable of making decisions trumps a bunch of cells that don’t even resemble a human and have no ability to make decisions any day. I just doesn’t make sense the other way around.

  • Justin

    about the work that is being done by men and women of many faiths to make the world a better place for crack addicts, unwed mothers, alcoholics, pre-school children, etc. Oversimplifications such as Carlin’s should not be applauded and laughed at but challenged.

    I don’t think anyone really denies that some religious organisations do offer some support groups/networks to help people who are disaadvantaged, although it can and should be pointed out that some of the orgs/networks have ulterior motives which go beyond just helping people.

    It’s not uncommon to hear about fraud, abuse, embezzelment and scams that originate from these types of organisations and arguably some of the social issues we have to deal with stem from faith groups pushing stupid agendas into the political arena like abstinece only sex-ed or just say no drug campagins.

    Or lastly they’re just using an opportunity to proselytize to a group of people who are obviously in a weakened or greiving state.

    I think if you take what a comedian says literally then you’re being ignorant or naive. If you think Carlin was oversimplifying what do you think about people who scream “you’re a murderer!” or “baby killer”” at people trying to receive health care? Aren’t they grossly oversimplifying and obviously more complicated issue? Or are they just challenging people?

  • http://Q Kevin S.

    It’s tough. Though I left religion behind a while ago, the “life begins at conception” thing still makes the most sense to me. I understand there are equally-valid viewpoints that disagree with that, but I’m not so sure I subscribe to them. Further complicating this issue is that it’s really unique in that both “sides,” for lack of a better term, have a fundamental right on the line here. In and of itself, I have a very hard time condemning somebody who wants to protect the voiceless unborn. That said, these are very often the same people who:
    1) Support the death penalty
    2) Support pre-emptive warfare
    3) Oppose proper sexual education, which leads to more unplanned marriages
    4) Oppose accessibility of reliable birth control, which leads to more unplanned pregnancies
    5) Endorse a homophobia that often causes young gays and lesbians to have straight sex to “prove” themselves, which leads to more unplanned pregnancies
    6) Will turn out daughters who get pregnant, which leads to more unwanted children
    7) Oppose allowing gay couples to adopt, which leads to more unwanted children.

    The above positions all make their “pro-life” stance completely hypocritical, and the final five not only don’t contribute to the solution, but are part of the problem. You say that abortion is morally wrong? Fine. Don’t actively create the situations that lead to more unwanted children who are the most likely to be aborted.

  • http://neosnowqueen.wordpress.com/ neosnowqueen

    No matter how I personally feel about their choice in naming themselves, it’s my guideline to let people name themselves and their factions. The second that we remove their ability to choose what to be called is the second that we lose that ability as well, and they can call us baby-killers, anti-life, pro-abortion… whatever.

    I mean, they already do that to pro-choicers, and pro-choicers already call them anti-woman, pro-fetus, whatever. I don’t like it either way. It’s a war of words and word appropriation and assignment. It gets us nowhere.

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    Very well said Claudia.

    I’m a pro-life atheist, but I can surely respect and appreciate your position and the manner in which you present it.

    Much better that this garbage about “respecting a woman’s right to choose” or hating women. It’s a complicated issue of life; those that make false claims about ulterior motives argue points largely tangential to the actual crux of the matter.

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    As far as I can see, the moral value of a human life comes from having a unique personality and experiences

    You couldn’t find a more slippery slope than that.

  • http://stochasticmutters.blogspot.com/ Aaron

    They claim only God can take somebody’s life as the reason for why abortion should be illegal but turn around and support the death penalty for criminals.

    Off topic, but there is a great conservative/small government argument against the death penalty. The same people that say the government can’t do anything right are the same people who are against any opposition to government planned executions and government declared wars. Well, is the government incompetent or not?

    Do they expect me to believe the only thing the government is any good at is deciding who to kill, and they suck at everything else?

  • MTran

    Stan, for someone who claims to oppose “oversimplifications,” lies, and half truths, you haven’t lived up to that standard yourself.

    Anna has already corrected this false statement you made: “At the present time the mother has the absolute right to end her child’s life regardless of circumstances up to the 9th month of pregnancy.”

    But there are other issues here that you are glossing over or missing entirely.

    Is conception the moment at which human life begins? You seem to think so but I would say human life began a long time ago, so maybe you actually mean conception is the point at which a separate life begins.

    But it isn’t really a separate life so much as a distinct collection of cells with some DNA that differs from the female host that supports its existence. Now, by using the word “host”, I’m not trying to imply that a fetus is parasitizing its mother, only that its existence is utterly dependent on using another person’s body.

    At what point in the tenuous existence of an embryo is forced pregnancy an appropriate governmental policy?

    At what point is mandatory child birth an appropriate governmental policy?

    Under what conditions, if any, should a woman lose the legal right to decide who gets to share her body?

    Under what conditions, if any, should a woman lose the legal right to decide whether to become a mother?

    People have genuine differences about the moral consequences of abortion, the ethical value of embryos, and the intrinsic worth of women.

    Why should the antiabortionists be able to force their punitive, violently antifemale opinions into the law and have them enforced by agents of the government?

    As for the claimed moral superiority of the antiabortion crowd, try Googling “The Only Moral Abortion Is My Abortion”

  • jeff akston

    The right using the term “pro – life” is as stupid and inconsistent with the rest of their philosophies as the left using the term “pro – choice”.

  • sarah

    “Pro life” is more like anti woman or anti choice. These are the same people that hate the fact that embryos might be used for stem cell research. Embryos that will be thrown away. How is that pro life? Stem cell research that can cure or help in diseases of people that are living now. Wouldn’t that be pro life? Oh wait, they are pro mass of cells, not life.

  • http://thoughtsofasj.blogspot.com SJ

    Mr. Mehta,

    - It would seem to me that abortion violates the golden rule don’t do to others what you would not want done to yourself. Forgive me for being blunt for a moment but if your parents had an abortion you wouldn’t be here claiming it’s a “right.”

    - A zygote clearly is not apart of the woman’s body because of the separate genome. The separate and distinct genome means it’s a new entity and it is wrong to terminate it.

    - Everyone knows in back of their heads that pro-choice people just want premarital copulation without consequences.

    A pro-choice individual may be pro-life-that-is-already-born. Conservatives are pro-all-life.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    The correct answer is that abortion should remain legal and if you don’t want to have an abortion, then don’t have one.

  • http://Q Kevin S.

    “Conservatives are pro-all-life.”

    Unless, of course, that life is one they deem to be no longer worthwhile. Or happens to live in a country whose leaders they don’t like. Or gets in the way of the profit of multinationals. Then killing is totally cool.

  • http://thoughtsofasj.blogspot.com SJ

    I think abortion should be disallowed unless it was a rape. The most I’d be willing to compromise on a practical level is if it can be shown steps were taken so that there was no intent to recklessly ruin a zygote or fetus (without getting graphic, I realize these things can fail once in a blue moon).

  • http://thoughtsofasj.blogspot.com SJ

    >> Unless, of course, that life is one they deem to be no longer worthwhile.

    Right. A murderer forfeits his own life.

    >> Or happens to live in a country whose leaders they don’t like.

    So, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban were all wonderful lil angels? XD

    >> Or gets in the way of the profit of multinationals.

    Paranoid rant.

  • Robert W.

    This is not a gray area for the child who gets aborted. Nothing gray about getting killed because his mother chose not to carry that child to birth. Regardless of how many variables you put on it, the end result for the child is always the same.

    For those who will claim what about rape or incest or to save the life of the mother- fine, but none of those reasons, tragic as they are should support abortion on demand for any reason that the mother chooses.

  • http://Q Kevin S.

    “Right. A murderer forfeits his own life.”

    Even if true, puts a ding in the “pro-all-life” claim, doesn’t it?

    “So, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban were all wonderful lil angels? XD”

    How about the hundreds of thousands of civilians who have died in the conflict?

    “Paranoid rant.”

    How much shit do you own that says Made In China/India/Pakistan/Third-world country with little-to-no respect for the basic human rights of its workforce?

  • The Captain

    We need to the crux of the matter. And that’s the definition of “human Life” See to me the word “life” just isn’t relevant to abortion. “Life” as we use it is just the description used to differentiate organisms, from non-organisms. It’s a very broad term, and one that at some levels is hard to pin down (can a computer program, that reproduces, interacts, and meets all the other criteria, be “life”?). So we need to find out at what point does something become a “human life”. And it’s not “potential”. Potential by definition means something is not that which it can be. So potential “human life”, is not a “human life”, or it wouldn’t be “potential”. So for me “human life” begins at consciousness. Until something can achieve consciousness, it’s not “alive”. And I do use the term “not alive” in discussions, but now that I think on it, that may be misleading.

    Basically I apply the same standards I do to the end of a “human life” as I do the beginning. So just like I think a family can unplug a brain dead member, so too can a fetus be aborted. Neither has the ability to have consciousness, and both are on life support. Now I know many antiabortionist propaganda try’s to portray fetuses as fully functioning members of the voting public. But the biological fact is that a fetuses brain, is not even in the same physical configuration it will be around birth. Now as to the accepted time frame most give to the beginning of consciousness? Well that is really up for debate. There are no agreed upon times for that right now within science, or philosophy (and religion for that matter). I personally think it happens some time after birth (one reason you can not remember your birth, and the phenomenon of a babies eyes “turning on”). But either way it’s pretty clear that at least for an early stage fetus, or a zygote that doesn’t even have a brain, has no ability for consciousness. So to me, that is not a “human life”.

  • http://thoughtsofasj.blogspot.com SJ

    >> Even if true, puts a ding in the “pro-all-life” claim, doesn’t it?

    Naa. The difference is murderer and not a murderer.

    >> How about the hundreds of thousands of civilians who have died in the conflict?

    It is a sad truth that there’s going to be collateral damage when you go to war to turn a dictatorship into a democracy. Fact is, countless more lives were saved since Saddam’s execution is dead and with his regime gone.

    >> How much shit do you own that says Made In China/India/Pakistan/Third-world country with little-to-no respect for the basic human rights of its workforce?

    It would seem to me that small wages and small prices for products is the natural order. All the minimum wage did is send companies overseas instead of hiring Americans so the same people the minimum wage was intended to help ends up getting screwed.

  • http://Q Kevin S.

    But the point you continually dodge is that, by being okay with the deaths of the people mentioned, you are not, by definition, “pro-all-life.” You didn’t say “pro-all-life-except-those-whose-death-I-find-justifiable.” You said “pro-all-life.”

  • http://www.phoenixgarage.org/ cr0sh

    I’m actually kinda close to Sean’s position on this one, with a slight difference.

    We currently define the death of a human as cessation of brain activity – aka “Brain Death”:

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

    So – shouldn’t the opposite apply to a pre-term embryo? This isn’t new:

    http://tigtogblog.blogspot.com/2006/05/fetal-brain-development-myths-and.html

    This is a discussion/debate between the myth of “brain function in an embryo at 40 days”; versus the reality of true brain function beginning at around 22-27 weeks…

    This falls in line with what is generally considered “legal” for an abortion in the US, at least (6 months/24 weeks – although a wikipedia article mentions something recent possibly lowering it to 22-23 weeks?)…

    Make no mistake, though – abortion should be considered a potential last option, but up until it isn’t legal for the mother to have one anymore (unless it is a case of the mother’s life or wellbeing, of course, or something wrong with the fetus developing) – I support the right of the mother to choose (including the right to carry to term a fetus that could potentially endanger her, or one that has development issues).

    Her body, her choice.

  • http://Q Kevin S.

    The one problem I have with using a brain death parallel is that the plug can be pulled because there is no hope of recovery. There is obviously a great deal of optimism that brain activity will occur in a fetus.

  • JayJay

    SJ, some people are not big fans of existing; some people do not want to exist (yes, you read that right), so your Golden Rule argument is moot. Keep in mind that people are not asked if they want to be born or not. It can be argued that this is an unfair practice.

    If Mehti’s mom had an abortion, he would neither know nor care, so don’t use that argument, either. By your logic, women should be held down, raped, and forced to go through pregnancy because human existance is “oh so important.” Make sure to tie me down first because I’m childfree so I’ll, you know, be denying a person their “right to life.” ::rolls eyes::

    Also, I’m pro-choice and an asexual life-long virgin (you read that right), so I don’t give a fig about “copulation” thank you very much. I’m just not a fan of favoring cells who may or may not want to exist and aren’t even capable of caring whether they exist or not over a full grown adult woman.

    “Pro-lifers” are pro-cells. They could give a flying fig about the people who are already here. Their agenda is to have complete control over women to the point where all women are back in the kitchen with a lot of children. Oh, and there will be a lot of dead women and children. And limited resoures for everyone (including packed to the brim adoption centers). That’s what happens when abortion is made illegal. (Truth) Of course, the pro-lifers don’t seem to understand that by making abortions illegal, they won’t be able to get their abortions, either. Yes, they get abortions. That’s why they need to be ignored.

    If you have a problem with abortions, advocate for comprehensive sex ed and readily-available contraception. Also, don’t have an abortion yourself.

    And zygotes aren’t “separate” from women’s bodies. They depend on women’ bodies for survival. We’re talking about humans here. Get your facts right, please.

    Edit: I see that abortions because of rape are a-okay with you. Well then. I’m in the clear. Unfortunately that means you don’t actually care about the pre-born. You have moral issues with sex. That’s fine. Whatever floats your boat. But get your own life and keep your moral issues off of women’s bodies. Thanks a ton.

  • MTran

    “Everyone knows in back of their heads that pro-choice people just want premarital copulation without consequences.”

    Don’t presume to know what’s in back of everyone’s heads, because you aren’t very good at it. You are pretty good at self righteous posturing, though, I’ll give ya that.

    You make it clear that the primary motivation of antichoice people such as yourself is punitive in nature, not life supportive as you claim.

    You make it clear that taking control of women’s bodies is your paramount concern.

  • http://thoughtsofasj.blogspot.com SJ

    The separate genome of the zygote/fetus makes it so that it is not taking control of the women’s body. It’s protecting the rights of a new life.

    >> I see that abortions because of rape are a-okay with you.

    Not on a purely objective level but I realize the concern of women regarding this issue.

  • MTran

    “The separate genome of the zygote/fetus makes it so that it is not taking control of the women’s body. It’s protecting the rights of a new life.”

    I think you took a wrong turn there. No matter how you try to deny it, using governmental (or any other) force to require a woman to undergo labor, childbirth, and motherhood is absolutely taking control of her body.

  • Clint

    “Everyone knows in back of their heads that pro-choice people just want premarital copulation without consequences.”

    It’s not premarital copulation if you never get married…

  • Fundie Troll

    @ Neon Genesis

    What I don’t get is how so many pro-life Christians can also be so hardcore about supporting the death penalty.

    Genesis 9:6

    Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.

  • dsdquilts

    Abortions are legal, get over it.
    When everyone has sex just for procreation, then you can outlaw abortion.

  • http://blogs.xfir.net/moltzan/ Ashley Moltzan

    I love George Carlin, that bit was a great end to my workday!

  • cat

    “but if your parents had an abortion you wouldn’t be here claiming it’s a “right.”” My parents got together because they met at a navy party, got wildly drunk, had unprotected sex, and she got knocked up. So, by your reasoning, I should be out trying to make sure there are as many drunken navy parties as possible, because, but for a certain navy party in the eighties, I would not exist. So, if my neighbors throw a drunken party and have sex on the lawn, I should never complain, because, hell, but for similar circumstances, my parents would never have met or got together. There are millions of things that, if they hadn’t happened, I would not have existed, and some of them are flat out terrible, like the oppression that caused my greatgrandparents to flee northern ireland.

    On the ‘personhood’ issue, I am going to link to Judith Jarvis Thomson’s brilliant paper ‘A Defense of Abortion’, which looks at the ethical implications of taking the notion of the fetus as person as true. http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil160,Fall02/thomson.htm (this is also an excellent read for people like claudia)

    A rape exception is completely contradictory to the notion of fetus as person. I know a wonderful woman who was the product of rape, would it be okay for her mother to go and shoot her right now? What about a five year old who was the product of rape or incest? Would you be okay with killing them? If not, then you really don’t think that a fetus is a person if you make a rape exception. The theory your opposition to abortion is based on is not, in fact, fetal personhood, but rather the notion that women deserve to be punished for sex.

  • Aj

    SJ,

    - It would seem to me that abortion violates the golden rule don’t do to others what you would not want done to yourself. Forgive me for being blunt for a moment but if your parents had an abortion you wouldn’t be here claiming it’s a “right.”

    “Others” means persons, we don’t treat plants the way we would like to be treated. What is the opinion of an embryo on existence? It doesn’t have one. Abortion does stop the potential existence of a person. Do you have a point at all? I don’t see a problem.

    - A zygote clearly is not apart of the woman’s body because of the separate genome. The separate and distinct genome means it’s a new entity and it is wrong to terminate it.

    There are many organisms living within and on you, they rely on you and you rely on them, they are a part of your body. Cancers have a separate and distinct genome. Why does being a new entity give it a right to life?

    - Everyone knows in back of their heads that pro-choice people just want premarital copulation without consequences.

    Premarital, marital, postmarital copulation without consequences. Breakups, spousal death, illness, depression, genetic disease, poverty, or any reason because it’s their body, their choice.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    SJ

    I think abortion should be disallowed unless it was a rape.

    With this comment you have demonstrated that your position (a developing life from the moment of conception is more valuable than the right of the woman to choose what to do with her body) is inconsistent. It isn’t the “baby’s” fault that it is the product of rape or incest, is it. That you’d give consideration to the mother above the “innocent baby” shows that it is her responsibility.

    Good for you. Now all you need to do is extend this and stop trying to interfere with how women choose to control who and what they share their bodies with.

  • Sean

    The one problem I have with using a brain death parallel is that the plug can be pulled because there is no hope of recovery. There is obviously a great deal of optimism that brain activity will occur in a fetus.

    Well, some fetuses. I’ve seen a rough estimate that at least 30% of conceptions will end in miscarriage, most with the “mother” never even becoming certain that she is pregnant at all. (If embryos are people, miscarriage is the #1 cause of death.) And this of course does not apply to embryos with congenital problems or those created for research.

    Really though, before the beginning of brain activity in the first place, I don’t regard there as being a person to consider at all, only some hypothetical construct (like if I ask myself “What if me and X had a baby?”). In fact, it’s not even clear how many potential people are involved at the very earliest stages; embryos can split or combine, so the number of babys that may be produced does not necessarily match the number of genomes.

    I’m actually kinda close to Sean’s position on this one, with a slight difference.

    Actually, I may very well agree with you after I’ve thought about it more. I was simply noting that a) conception seems to be a bad standard, and b) you’d think we could come up with a better lower bound for when a fetus gains moral worth, one more closely related to brain function. Which is precisely where you were going.

    You couldn’t find a more slippery slope than that.

    Reality does not come in nice categories where you can draw neat boundaries between different cases and stand back in satisfaction to admire the issue which has been settled For Good. Many of the labels and categories by which our society is organized are marked by perfectly arbitrary and quite debatable boundaries, which we draw for the sake of convenience across an arbitrary “slope”.

    At what age does a child become an adult? How do we measure pain incurred vs. probability of recovery when deciding whether to continue treating a disease such as cancer? With what probability should you believe a man has committed murder in order to consider it “beyond a reasonable doubt”? Who is a man, who is a woman, and who is both or neither? How likely can you consider the God hypothesis and still really be an atheist?

    At what point in evolution did we become really “human”?

    At what point during human reproduction should we have to introduce moral consideration of a new individual into our decision-making?

    We separate out these categories, give simple criteria for what goes in which box, but even then we may find that the boundaries are wide enough to have cases right in the middle of them. Our concepts, though sometimes they seem perfectly clear, are generally just approximations to reality, and there is always some fuzziness there. The best we can do is to try to fix the boundaries better and better by evaluating different criteria and special cases. Since the mere idea that there’s a clear dividing line in the first place is often a human conceit, it’s little wonder that this process is difficult. Often, the only thing we can be totally sure of is where a bad place to draw the line is.

    In my above posts, I have explicitly avoided drawing the sort of line which necessarily has to be drawn, because I don’t know enough about this subject. What I have given is merely my explanation for why I think most human beings deserve moral consideration in the first place. (Why is it OK to chop down a tree but not to kill a human being? If we encountered an alien race, how would we know whether to treat them as approximate equals, or as being lower, like dogs, or maybe in fact more morally valuable than ourselves?) It so happens that I haven’t identified any criteria that would give moral value to non-cognitive embryos or brain-dead individuals. It also so happens that my criteria could possibly include non-human animals or near-future AI (I dunno, I haven’t examined these ideas closely enough or done enough research on animals or AI to settle that). These considerations may seem weird or uncomfortable but I feel that they are (or soon will be) morally requisite upon our species to figure out.

    The simple complaint that I’m on a slippery slope, however, is absurd. Most interesting moral questions are on a slippery slope, not because of how they are phrased, but because that’s what reality is like. The question is not whether a slippery slope exists, but how to erect barriers across it to stop our slide.

  • Claudia

    This is what I get for commented just before going to bed…

    At the moment of conception a human life has begun. This is a scientifically accepted biological fact.

    Really? Care to cite the paper?

    At the present time the mother has the absolute right to end her child’s life regardless of circumstances up to the 9th month of pregnancy.

    Again, cite your sources.

    “Pro life” is more like anti woman or anti choice.

    Calling them anti-woman is as false as calling someone pro-choice anti-baby or pro-death. Are there anti-women pro-lifers? Yes, absolutely. Can you merely declare that because they adscribe rights to a fetus they hate women? No. Once you’ve established that a fetus has rights, it then becomes a conflict between two entities with rights, the woman and the unborn child. I would dispute the notion that a zygote is a “person” and has any rights, but I would consider an 8-month old healthy fetus as having rights. At that point you’re negotiating when rights begin, which is a legitimate debate. You can decide that at a given point the rights of the “baby” (or whatever you call it at that point) supercede those of the “mother” without holding any malice towards the woman. To pretend that all pro-life positions are born (ejem) from a dislike of women is dishonest.

    I think abortion should be disallowed unless it was a rape.

    You are admitting with this statement that you do not truly consider a fetus to be a “baby”. No one would consider it acceptable to murder a newborn infant, even if it were the product of rape. There is no physical difference between a fetus from a loving consensual act or from a brutal rape. The fact you contemplate an exception reveals that no matter what you say you believe, you recognize that a fetus is not really equal to a baby. The only other alternative is that you consider killing a baby to be an acceptable act to prevent severa emotional distress in a woman, a position I would not support.

    RE: Comparing abortion to the death penalty. If you justify being against abortion because “all life is sacred” then yes, it’s hypocrisy. Catholics are anti-choice and anti-death penalty for this very reason. However if you consider only the elimination of innoccent life to be a crime, there is no hypocrisy. The life of an infant is not equal to the life of a murderer in this framing, so that support for the death penalty need not be a sign of hypocrisy in those that are pro-life.

    @The Captain, a great explanation of your position, and one I mostly share. I disagree that we can reject the notion of consciousness before birth outright, but then consciousness is such a poorly defined term that we’d have to start by defining that before we got anywhere. For me, abortion is totally non-controversial before the development of a nervous system (around the 3rd month) and then gets gradually more morally complex as time goes on.

  • Stephen P

    @Stan:

    At the moment of conception a human life has begun. This is a scientifically accepted biological fact.

    No, it is nothing of the sort.

    The creation of a new human life is a process that lasts over a decade, roughly from ovulation to puberty. For social and legal reasons it is appropriate to assign significance to certain moments of that process. But the assertion that one can scientifically select one moment as “the” beginning of a new human life marks you as someone who cares nothing for science.

    If you want a serious discussion of the subject, you’d do better not to open with a ridiculous statement.

  • http://Q Kevin S.

    Sean, my point was not that brain activity shouldn’t be the deciding point (of all the in-pregnancy standards I’ve seen, that one makes the most sense), it was just that I didn’t like comparing it to brain death. You said that 30% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, but that still means 70% make it to term. If there was a 70% chance somebody who had brain death would recover, well A) they wouldn’t call it brain death, and B) it wouldn’t be legal cause to pull the plug.

  • Robert W.

    Stephen P,

    So babies aren’t considered a human life by your definition? Talk about a ridiculous statement

    If by your definition the creation of life is a process that begins at ovulation, life has begun. A successful abortion kills that life everytime.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Claudia:

    The problem you’re suggesting is a canard that has been trotted out by the anti-woman crowd for so long. These supposed women who decide at eight months “oh, I just don’t want a baby anymore” are so rare it’s statistically negligible. The vast majority of late term abortions are performed on women who otherwise want their babies, but something tragic happens and they cannot bring them to viability or delivering / carrying the baby will harm or outright kill the mother.

    Unless there’s some extreme circumstances in the matter, a person is not going to carry a baby for eight months if they don’t want to be pregnant.

    @SJ:

    Everyone knows in back of their heads that pro-choice people just want premarital copulation without consequences.

    I can play this game too! Everyone knows in the back of their heads that pro-life people just want women to be baby factories.

  • Claudia

    The problem you’re suggesting is a canard that has been trotted out by the anti-woman crowd for so long.

    I wasn’t suggesting it was or is a common situation. Though it may have happened a couple of times, I doubt there have ever been significant numbers of women aborting almost-term fetuses without any reason. I’m fully aware that late-term abortion is almost always done under horribly tragic circumstances. I used the concept of a healthy 8 month old fetus as a logical counter-example to a one day old zygote. It’s not a red herring, it’s meant to demonstrate that for most people, even those of us who are pro-choice, there are actual legitimate moral dilemmas that can even rise to the decision to make things illegal, without it having anything to do with hating women.

  • Stephen P

    @Robert W: what a priceless example of the simplistic black-and-white thinking that anti-abortionists seem to revel in.

    Apparently you consider that a process which has started is already complete. If I were to follow that logic I would conclude that your brain has decayed to oblivion.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Claudia:

    Understood. Sorry if I seemed like I was accusing you of such. I honestly was one of those recovering pro-lifers who trotted out those kinds of arguments into situations like this and sufficiently had my bum handed to me because I didn’t realize that what I was talking about was merely the result of a long held incorrect belief system pounded into my head by Fundamentalist Conservative Christian parents.

    However in response, there is indeed a moral dilemma. I am personally of the mind that viability determines personhood. If you can exist outside of the body of another person, then you are a separate entity. That stated, I also believe that a woman is free to do with her body as she desires up and until the point of actual birth.

    It’s a very weird dichotomy and I have a hard time reconciling it, but I think that it’s the only way to believe. No one should be allowed to determine what someone else is able to do with their own body, even if that means letting the extremely rare, eight-month pregnant woman have an abortion because she doesn’t want the baby.

  • Robert

    Stephen,

    Apparently you consider that a process which has started is already complete.

    So a life by your definition that is in process is not worth protecting? I consider it complete enough to protect the life of the unborn.

    I don’t consider the life of the unborn any less valuable then the life of a newborn infant. To consider it anything less then a life ( even with twisted logic that it is a life in progress) is simply an attempt to rationalize the decision to kill that life.

    By your logic, from the scientific perspective, because the process isn’t complete, it wouldn’t be taking a life to kill a newborn. Or for that matter a ten year old child because he or she hasn’t reached puberty. Very scary if you have children.

  • Robert

    Hoverfrog,

    I am pro-life and if it was necessary to allow for abortion in the event of rape to outlaw it on demand, I would reluctantly agree to that. It is not an inconsistent position, it is a practical one.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Robert:

    I don’t exactly understand your sentence, but the “abortion only in case of rape or incest” clause is an untenable position.

    How can one determine whether someone has been raped / become pregnant through incest?

  • http://Q Kevin S.

    Generally, I’ve found that the “abortion only in the case of rape or incest” mentality came from the idea that the woman (and the man) chose to have sex, thus causing the pregnancy. Since a woman doesn’t choose to be raped, they can’t use that mentality against it. It’s an outgrowth of their “you can only have sex when we say you can have sex” control mechanism.

  • Robert

    Kevin,

    It’s a very weird dichotomy and I have a hard time reconciling it, but I think that it’s the only way to believe. No one should be allowed to determine what someone else is able to do with their own body, even if that means letting the extremely rare, eight-month pregnant woman have an abortion because she doesn’t want the baby.

    The woman who decided to have sex and then decided to carry her baby to eight months has already decided what to do with her body. She can’t then also decide to kill the child inside of her. She lost that right when she brought a life, by your reasoning to the point of viability.

    Laws should be in place to protect the vulnerable and not just to protect those who have made conscious decisions that affect the innocent.

  • Robert

    Kevin,

    I agree that it would be difficult to determine that a woman was pregnant through rape or incest. There would have to be a process to determine that, but the difficulty of making that determination should not deter the ultimate goal of stopping abortion on demand.

  • http://Q Kevin S.

    Robert, you do realize that A) that process can take months, and B) you would see an increase in rape claims if that was the only way to abort a child, right?

  • Robert W.

    Kevin, No I don’t agree that the process would take months and I am sure that some women would attempt to lie about it, but I am also sure that a procedure could be put in place. The end result would be less abortions on demand and maybe grown people being more careful if they weren’t so easy to get.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Robert W:

    All you’re doing is slut shaming, I’m sorry. This:

    The woman who decided to have sex [snip]

    is the essence of slut shaming. It’s despicable. The rest of that post isn’t much better.

    [snip] then decided to carry her baby to eight months has already decided what to do with her body. She can’t then also decide to kill the child inside of her. She lost that right when she brought a life, by your reasoning to the point of viability.

    Laws should be in place to protect the vulnerable and not just to protect those who have made conscious decisions that affect the innocent.

    Why? It’s her body. Again, this is an exceedingly rare case. The vast majority of late-term abortions are performed because something tragic happens. Very few (I say statistically negligible) women decide at eight months to abort solely because they don’t want the child.

    But even so, why does someone else get to determine what a person can do with their body? This is the heart of the matter. A living human being is telling another human being what they can and can’t do within the confines of their own body. It’s ownership, it’s pure misogynistic, patriarchal ownership.

    I agree that it would be difficult to determine that a woman was pregnant through rape or incest. There would have to be a process to determine that, but the difficulty of making that determination should not deter the ultimate goal of stopping abortion on demand.

    What you’re failing to understand here is that there is no way to determine whether someone has been raped aside from their own admission of it. Lots of women do not report rape even without pregnancy because they’re not believed. If it was to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, how much more would a justice system look into the matter? That poor girl would be tortured by the justice system, dragged into a horrible situation, having to recall her rape.

    Stopping ‘abortion on demand’ as you call it is a despicable goal. Contraception is enough to prevent a pregnancy, but if that fails, why should someone be forced to go through a situation they’re not ready or not willing to go through? Making abortion illegal will not stop abortions. They’ll exist regardless. The only thing criminalizing abortion will do is kill the women who are forced to perform horribly risky procedures because a condom broke.

  • http://Q Kevin S.

    “No I don’t agree that the process would take months”

    Do you have any idea how long it takes to investigate a rape case?

  • Alice

    Whining about what abortion opposers call themselves is as stupid and inconsequential as conservatives whining about gay people stealing the rainbow. The issues are the issues. The labels are basically pronouns so you don’t have to say “abortion opposers”.

  • http://nora-writes.blogspot.com Nora

    I’m on the pill, and I’m very good about taking it because my husband and I are both of the Do Not Want camp on kids.

    We have discussed it, and in the case that I were to get pregnant (it happens, no contraceptive is 100%), we would most likely abort the child.

    We don’t want kids, plain and simple. Yet I see no reason to let that keep me from enjoying a physical intimate relationship with my spouse.

    Clearly, this makes me a terrible person who wants no-consequences premarital sex…

    OH WAIT. No it doesn’t.

    And guess what? EVEN IF IT DID, it would be none of your damn business.

    Seriously, this “women shouldn’t choose to have sex” bullshit is NOT cool.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    It’s a very weird dichotomy and I have a hard time reconciling it, but I think that it’s the only way to believe. No one should be allowed to determine what someone else is able to do with their own body, even if that means letting the extremely rare, eight-month pregnant woman have an abortion because she doesn’t want the baby.

    The woman should have the right to end her pregnancy, but does she have the right to demand that the fetus be destroyed? At eight months gestation? I would say no. That makes no sense to me. It’s way past the point of viability, and if there are no medical reasons to terminate the life of the fetus, I don’t see why it would be acceptable to do so.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Anna:

    That’s the dichotomy I have trouble reconciling. In one way, to refuse such would be limiting what a person could do with their own body. On the other hand, the child is viable. It’s really not a topic that should have to be questioned though, since the number of women terminating for not wanting the child that late is statistically negligible. It’s a little bit dark of a suggestion, but you still should not be allowed to force a woman to birth a child she doesn’t want.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    That’s the dichotomy I have trouble reconciling. In one way, to refuse such would be limiting what a person could do with their own body. On the other hand, the child is viable. It’s really not a topic that should have to be questioned though, since the number of women terminating for not wanting the child that late is statistically negligible. It’s a little bit dark of a suggestion, but you still should not be allowed to force a woman to birth a child she doesn’t want.

    As I see it, the main issue is forced pregnancy. No woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy if she doesn’t want to. However, terminating the pregnancy does not necessarily mean terminating the life of the fetus. If the fetus is healthy and viable, I do not believe the woman should have the right to demand that it be killed.

    I am not sure of how abortions at eight months are conducted when they need to be, but it is no simple procedure. If this hypothetical woman wanted to end her pregnancy at eight months, she would need to go through a very unpleasant and intensive medical procedure regardless. I don’t think it would be inappropriate for doctors to tell her that she can certainly end her pregnancy, but she will not be able to end the life of the fetus.

  • Claudia

    I’m on the pill, and I’m very good about taking it because my husband and I are both of the Do Not Want camp on kids.

    This is off topic, but you may want to consider a vasectomy. Being on the pill long-term can be harmful to your health. Vasectomy is a very minor procedure. Your husband can freeze some semen in case there’s a concern he may change his mind some day. Even if a vasectomy is off the table (for whatever reason) look into NuvaRing, which is as effective as the pill, you don’t have to remember it and typically has much lower doses of hormones.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Anna:

    Perhaps so. Rather, we could just call this hypothetical woman an idiot and send her home XD

    But no, seriously. I would imagine in that extremely rare case they would put her through forced labor of some kind (correct me if I’m wrong) as by that point it’s likely more dangerous with surgery. The baby would be born, and unwanted. As long as there’s no attempt to provide a requirement for the woman to follow, a late-term termination like that would probably be what they would do.

  • Robert W.

    Kevin,

    I disagree that I am slut shaming. That was not my intent at all. And I never stated that women shouldn’t have sex. Of course that is their right. But there are consequences to those decisions and one of them is an unwanted pregnancy. Biologically the woman has to carry the child for nine months, but the responsibility is clearly on both parties.

    The point I was making was that once the lady is pregnant it is no longer just her body. There is another life whose rights need to be taken into consideration. So at that point she shouldn’t have the unfettered right to do with it what she wants.

    For all of those women who wait eight months to decide that they don’t want their baby, in order to save that obviously viable life, shouldn’t the law be on the side of the innocent child? Nobody says the women would have to raise that child. There is always adoption as an option.

    The only thing criminalizing abortion will do is kill the women who are forced to perform horribly risky procedures because a condom broke.

    No it will force both the woman and the man to face the consequences of their actions without killing the innocent life that resulted from their decisions.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert

    I am pro-life and if it was necessary to allow for abortion in the event of rape to outlaw it on demand, I would reluctantly agree to that.

    Why? If your position is that the fetus is a life in its own right with the same rights as an adult then why would you kill it because of what happened to one parent. It is entirely inconsistent and impractical.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Robert:

    I disagree that I am slut shaming. That was not my intent at all.And I never stated that women shouldn’t have sex. Of course that is their right. But there are consequences to those decisions and one of them is an unwanted pregnancy.

    Consequences of sex = Unwanted pregnancy. Don’t have sex if you don’t want to get pregnant. Slut shouldn’t have had sex, it’s her fault the condom broke.

    That’s what I’m getting from your statement. An amorous couple should be forced to endure a physically torturous nine month long life-changing situation because of an accident.

    Biologically the woman has to carry the child for nine months, but the responsibility is clearly on both parties.

    Who’s to say that the man will be in this relationship nine months into the future? My longest relationship (admittedly nonsexual) was about six months long, and about six months in I realized we weren’t compatible. The man is the only person who can leave this situation.

    The point I was making was that once the lady is pregnant it is no longer just her body. There is another life whose rights need to be taken into consideration. So at that point she shouldn’t have the unfettered right to do with it what she wants.

    Here’s how I define a human life. Now, it may seem a little callous and little cruel, but it’s a simple test.

    Can the child survive outside of the womb? If yes, it’s alive. If no, it’s not. As callous as it sounds, a fetus is like a parasite.

    For all of those women who wait eight months to decide that they don’t want their baby, in order to save that obviously viable life, shouldn’t the law be on the side of the innocent child? Nobody says the women would have to raise that child. There is always adoption as an option.

    I’ve addressed this above. As long as the law doesn’t dictate what the woman has to do with her body, I’m fine with whatever the hospital does after. However, all responsibility for the baby must be removed from the woman.

    No it will force both the woman and the man to face the consequences of their actions without killing the innocent life that resulted from their decisions.

    Slut shaming. If you refuse to see the many documented cases of women dying because of illegal abortions, you’re clearly a misogynist. These aren’t just women who are single and young who die. These are mothers, sisters, daughters, women with lives and futures all cut down because ‘look at the widdle baybee.’

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert W.

    The point I was making was that once the lady is pregnant it is no longer just her body.

    Really? Whose is it? I think if you check you’ll find that ownership of her body doesn’t transfer to another party when she gets pregnant.

    There is another life whose rights need to be taken into consideration. So at that point she shouldn’t have the unfettered right to do with it what she wants.

    Why not? Are you suggesting that she should be forced to behave in prescribed ways because she is pregnant? Who defines these draconian rules for women? What about the man who got her pregnant. Does he have to live by a set of silly rules too? She is responsible for her body, no-one else. You try to take that away from a person and you’ll have a fight on your hands.

  • maddogdelta

    Applauds Kevin S.

  • Robert W.

    Hoverfrog,

    Once a lady is pregnant there are two bodies involved, not just hers.

    Are you suggesting that she should be forced to behave in prescribed ways because she is pregnant?

    I am suggesting that she should not be allowed to kill the other life that is sharing her body for a short time.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    For all of those women who wait eight months to decide that they don’t want their baby, in order to save that obviously viable life, shouldn’t the law be on the side of the innocent child?

    Robert, it’s a hypothetical situation because there aren’t “all those women” who wait eight months to have an abortion. I doubt there’s even one woman in that predicament. The only abortions that are happening at eight months are those that are performed for medical reasons.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Anna:

    Well, there are some, but they’re statistically negligible. The vast, vast majority of women in their eighth month of pregnancy are not aborting because they just don’t want the baby. It’s almost entirely medical. If a woman is carrying to eight months, you can be 99.999% sure she wants the baby.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Kevin, that’s true. Even if there are some, it would be statistically negligible. I was just doubting whether there are even a few. If there are, I’m not sure where they’re obtaining the abortions because you can’t terminate past 24 weeks without a medical reason. Unless they’re going the illegal route. You do occasionally hear stories about desperate women and girls who attempt to self-abort in the later stages of pregnancy.

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    @Anna:

    More than likely they’d be going through some illegal / alternative route.

  • Stephen P

    So a life by your definition that is in process is not worth protecting?

    No, that is not what I wrote in any way, shape or form, and I can’t imagine how you managed to twist my words into that. That despicable idea is yours and yours alone.

    My point is that the selection of one or more specific points in the process to give specific degrees of protection is a social and legislative choice, not a scientific one. Scientifically speaking there is no one specific point at which a new life begins.

  • Robert W.

    Kevin,

    Consequences of sex = Unwanted pregnancy. Don’t have sex if you don’t want to get pregnant. Slut shouldn’t have had sex, it’s her fault the condom broke.

    I never said anything of the sort.

    That’s what I’m getting from your statement. An amorous couple should be forced to endure a physically torturous nine month long life-changing situation because of an accident.

    And the life they create should be killed because condom broke? Talk about life changing for the baby.

    If you refuse to see the many documented cases of women dying because of illegal abortions, you’re clearly a misogynist. These aren’t just women who are single and young who die. These are mothers, sisters, daughters, women with lives and futures all cut down because ‘look at the widdle baybee.’

    Wow you have an unfortunate view of babies. Of course women dying from illegal abortions is a tragedy. But it is not an either or proposition. It is not abortion on demand or women die from illegal abortions. That is a false argument. The two don’t have a casual connection.

    Further, this is not the 1960′s so the argument that women will die from illegal abortions is not as it was back then when Roe v. Wade was decided. There are many safer alternatives for the occasion of when the condom breaks such as the morning after pill which will prevent conception from taking place at all.

    Just so you know, I have the utmost respect an admiration for women. I am married and have a grown daughter. I also have a son. If my daughter got pregnant i would counsel her against an abortion. if my son got a girl pregnant i would counsel him to accept the responsibilities of his actions. I would do all I could to help them through that difficult situation. But I see no need to kill the unborn child because the next nine months might be hard for either of them.

  • Robert W.

    Stephen,

    My point is that the selection of one or more specific points in the process to give specific degrees of protection is a social and legislative choice, not a scientific one. Scientifically speaking there is no one specific point at which a new life begins.

    Fair enough. if i read too much into your comments then I apologize.

    From a scientific standpoint, if it doesn’t start with conception then when does it start?

    If you think that this debate doesn’t revolve around when science says that life begins, then I take it you disagree with the reasoning of Roe v. Wade? Currently the social and legislative protections are based upon science and when the baby is viable to the point of when its life, which has already begun, has some rights that need to be protected.

  • cat

    @robert, ” is not abortion on demand or women die from illegal abortions. ” Yes it is. All credible data on this issue shows that countries where abortion is illegal have higher, not lower abortion rates. Considering that the rate of serious complication of unsafe abortion results 13% of deaths of pregnant women worldwide, this is a huge fucking problem right now. The only reason that we no longer have illegal abortion as one of the highest causes of death for women in the US and western europe is precisely because of the increased access to safe, medical abortion. (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.html, their sources are also cited at the bottom of their page)

    Also, the notion that people should ever loose rights over their bodies is bullshit and does, in fact, indicate that you hate women and that you do not give a shit about the rights of pregnant women who decide to continue the pregnancy either. Women who wanted their baby have been charged with murder and child abuse for refusing c-section under the very ‘personhood’ laws you think are so wonderful. Also, as explained in detail in the Thomson piece I linked, even if the embryo were a person, it would still not have rights over someone else’s body. We don’t do forced kidney removal because people are matches, even though that would save millions, because we grant that people own their own damned bodies and don’t have to share their organs with anyone.

    In addition, the anti-choicer idea that pregnancy is someone negligible in effect is ridiculous on its face. Carrying a full term pregnancy permanently changes a person’s body and carries huge medical risks. You can even see the effects of full term pregnancy on skeletons, because it permanantly alters the bone structure. One in ten people have serious complications. Asking someone to carry a pregnancy to term is asking them to take a one in ten risk of severe, life threatening health problems, not to mention all of the not potentially fatal symptoms and the social risks (employment, violence, etc.). Pregnancy and birth isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. My sister’s last pregnancy almost killed her.

    In addition, in the US, 60% of women who have abortions are already mothers. You seem to think that these women are horrible baby haters, but the huge majority of women who have abortions raise children at some point. The very people who are deciding to have abortions are the ones loving and raising the babies, so fuck your false dicotomy of ‘good baby loving women’ and ‘evil baby killers’.

  • Heidi

    Can anybody point to an actual example of a woman choosing to abort a healthy, near-term fetus because she just didn’t’ feel like being pregnant anymore? Because AFAICT, it’s about on par with waking up in a bathtub full of ice with your kidneys missing.

    And can someone explain why it’s ok to wash skin cells down the drain in the shower, but not to abort a few implanted cells from my uterus? Those skin cells can function as pluripotent stem cells, and are indeed “potential life.”

  • Claudia

    From a scientific standpoint, if it doesn’t start with conception then when does it start?

    So far as I’m aware there is no official scientific position on this matter, especially considering the definition of “life” you’re probably working from.

    By the way, how do you define life?

    Oh sure an embryo is alive in the strict sense of the term. So are bacteria, which FYI outnumber you inside your body 10 to 1. There is nothing particularly special, from the scientific standpoint, of male and female gametes (themselve also alive) fusing to form a zygote. No more special than the zygote sucessfuly implanting itself in the uterus (which happens only in roughly half of cases), invasively burrowing into the tissue until it finds the bloodstream from which it will feed.

    You assert that a fertilized egg is “life”. Once you’ve defined what you mean by life, I’d love to hear from you your rationale for giving rights to that life and excluding them from, say, fully grown cows.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    From a scientific standpoint, if it doesn’t start with conception then when does it start?

    Cell theory 101: cells come from other cells. Granted, sometimes DNA material is transferred between cells (or between viruses and cells). But to say that there is something magical or “God given” about a little DNA transfer is really just a religious attempt to add some meaning to an ordinary biological process. I would say that the only meaningful definition of when cells become a legally protected human being is when those cells can first exist on their own without getting pretty much everything from some other entity. This would be being able to breathe air and not needing the umbilical cord.

  • MTran

    “I disagree that I am slut shaming. That was not my intent at all … But there are consequences to those decisions and one of them is an unwanted pregnancy.”

    Slut shaming may not be what you specifically intended, but it is the consequence of your position. You are basically saying, “Sex has consequences, bitch, shut up and take it.”

    If you don’t like the way that sounds, perhaps you should more carefully consider your position, and the consequences of using the government to enforce your opinion against women.

  • Sean

    Talk about life changing for the baby.

    What baby? You must understand, until you demonstrate that there’s actually a baby involved, all of these comments sound like melodramatic BS. To me, saying that a zygote is a human being is like claiming that Henrietta Lacks is still alive or that a human chimera is actually two people. A collection of cells with the same human genome is not the same as a person.

  • Stan

    Mtran, Anna, Sean, et al,

    Conception is the moment at which a separate, new human life begins. This is an indisputable biological fact(talk to any rational, honest biologist). If a human life does not begin at conception when does it begin? To justify the ending of a human life one must reduce the unborn child (zygote, embryo, fetus are all terms used to describe different stages of development just as infant, toddler, teenager are used once the child is born) to a status of less than human. Easily done because the child is not seen or heard, but nonetheless remains a human being. A tadpole is a frog without legs, but is still a frog just not a fully developed one. An unborn baby at every stage is a human being, just not a fully developed one. At 8 weeks (about the time most abortions occur) a baby’s brain is adding 100 new cells/minute, the heart is completely formed and beating, arms and legs are being formed, etc. Once fully developed in the womb the child looks just like a human being! How can this happen unless it is genetically completely human from the start? Simple, it can’t. Newly conceived human beings are never born as reptiles, amphibians, birds, or any other mammal. No sane person will deny this fact.

    So in order to end its life we must convince ourselves the unborn child is less than human. Sean/Hoverfrog your argument is extremely dangerous and even terrifying. It is the same argument used by the Nazis to justify the “Final Solution”, the American government’s argument to justify the extermination/removal of Native Americans and it is still being used by those who practice genocide. Over 50 million American babies have been killed in their mother’s wombs since 1973. How many more millions will be sacrificed on the altar of a woman’s right to choose? No one has the right to choose evil and the taking of innocent, vulnerable human life is horribly evil.

    A newborn child is just as dependent on its mother for life as it was the day before it was born, but if the mother decided at the last minute to abort her child (and believe it she could find a doctor who would) the child’s life would end and there would be no criminal consequences for that murder. If we use dependency as the norm for determining a child’s right to live, how old must the child be before it is safe from its mother’s will? Is this really the direction we want to move in as a society? StephenP states that the creation of a human life is a process that doesn’t complete itself until puberty. We’re not fully human until puberty? Doesn’t anyone see the nightmare that awaits us if his logic ever becomes the norm?

    Finally, what I am hearing as the undercurrent in many of the arguments provided by my atheist brothers and sisters is that there is nothing special about any human life. We are all here for just a short period of time anyway so whether we live or die or how we live and die really doesn’t matter. Is my perception correct or am I overreacting?

  • Claudia

    I would say that the only meaningful definition of when cells become a legally protected human being is when those cells can first exist on their own without getting pretty much everything from some other entity.

    Viability is an awfully plastic definition. For starters a newborn baby gets everything other than the literal oxygen it breathes from outside entities, given that humans are K strategists.

    Besides that though, and repeating a much earlier comment, viability can and will eventually lead you to giving rights to an embryo or fetus at every stage in development, because as technology advances the concept of viability broadens until eventually there will be no such thing as a birth made non-viable by prematurity. Under your definition, this would mean that no abortions (of healthy embryos-fetuses) would be acceptable.
    I suppose you could theoretically make the barrier an infant viable without modern medicine, but that leads into even more ridiculous situations. Babies who are feet first could die without C-sections, so that the same baby could be a candidate for abortion depending on it’s position in the belly, which seems frankly even more arbitrary than declaring “life” as starting at conception. Mind you, I’m not saying you would consider this a reasonable situation, I’m merely illustrating that viability as a standard is problematic, at best.

  • MTran

    “Conception is the moment at which a separate, new human life begins.”

    Stan, this is not what you initially said nor is it how most antiabortionists phrase it. I already addressed that issue. You just don’t like being called on your sloppy thinking while you act as if you have all the answers which other people should accept and enforce by law.

    “So in order to end its life we must convince ourselves the unborn child is less than human.”

    I do nothing of the sort. The question is not whether an embryo or fetus is “human.” The question is at what point and under what conditions do we give supporters of an embryo police power and governmental authority to force a woman to maintain a pregnancy, go through labor and child birth, and provide ~20 years of care to another person?

    My answer to that question is “Never.”

    My preference would be that no woman ever had to face the situation where this needed to be asked.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert W.

    Once a lady is pregnant there are two bodies involved, not just hers.

    only one of those bodies gets to make decisions. You’ve no right to tell that body what to do.

    I am suggesting that she should not be allowed to kill the other life that is sharing her body for a short time.

    She isn’t killing that other life. She is withdrawing support for that other life. She is saying that she has no desire to share her body with another organism against her will. What happens to that organism after it has been removed from her body is none of her concern.

  • Stan

    Mtran,

    This is what I originally said, but because you said I wasn’t being clear enough I restated the fact in a more specific way so that you and others would be clear.

    You are having difficulty with the scientific absolute, but are definitely an absolutist when it comes to a woman’s right to choose. You have no problem with ending the life of an unborn child even if you know it to be human. Most people do have a problem with that because the question is whether or not the baby is human. If the baby isn’t human there is no debate, but because he/she is we have a moral dilemma.

    Every human being from conception to death should be treated with dignity and respect. In life we are constantly confronted as individuals and as a community with choices. The Supreme Court has ruled that the right to life does not trump a woman’s right to choose. It also once ruled that blacks weren’t human beings and that facilities for blacks and whites could be separate but equal. Supreme Court decisions can be overturned. This is what will happen eventually exactly because the unborn child is a human being.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Stan

    Sean/Hoverfrog your argument is extremely dangerous and even terrifying.

    Too scared to consider it eh?

    It is the same argument used by the Nazis to justify the “Final Solution”

    No, it isn’t but you win the Godwin’s Law prize nonetheless.

    Over 50 million American babies have been killed in their mother’s wombs since 1973.

    They aren’t babies till they are born so your statement is nonsensical.

    How many more millions will be sacrificed on the altar of a woman’s right to choose?

    How about till you get it and stop trying to tell women what to do with their bodies.

    A newborn child is just as dependent on its mother for life as it was the day before it was born

    obviously you’ve never had children because I can tell you that the demands of a day old child are very different.

    if the mother decided at the last minute to abort her child (and believe it she could find a doctor who would) the child’s life would end and there would be no criminal consequences for that murder.

    Has that ever happened? I mean ever? You are trying to equate a fertilised egg with a newborn baby. If you knew anything about reproduction you’d know that they aren’t the same.

    If we use dependency as the norm for determining a child’s right to live, how old must the child be before it is safe from its mother’s will?

    About 21 but in the current economic climate you might even go up to 30.

    Oh, hang on, you weren’t asking a question were you? You were constructing a straw man argument to argue against. Sorry but that is a bit obvious isn’t it.

    there is nothing special about any human life

    Really? I find human life to be precious and special. That’s why I want women to control their own reproductive systems.

    I’d like to point some things out to you that you don’t seem to understand. None of us want more abortions. You seek to have them banned while we view them as an option to end unwanted pregnancies. We would like men and women to all take responsibility and prevent unwanted pregnancies but we live in the real world where sometimes contraception doesn’t work, the chemist is a right wing Christian who refuses to sell the pill or condoms or where people are, you know, human. Or something similar. It is better that a woman have the option available to terminate a pregnancy safely and to have care provided for her rather than visit some dodgy back street abortionist who might just kill someone.

    This bit is important: Most of all we recognise that it is none of your business what a woman does with her body. You don’t get to decide what she does. You just don’t. If you think that you should then you are wrong. I really can’t stress this enough.

  • muggle

    Anti-woman. Think I’ll stick with Carlin on that. Exactly. And, yes, it is no matter how you stretch it. There is no way around that fact. It is women — and, when all’s said and done — only women who are being enslaved to carrying a life they don’t want to, being forced to undergo the phsyical and emotional trauma of whatever decision she makes.

    When you vote against social programs that can make it easier for a woman to choose to continue a pregnancy, you are not pro-life.

    Alise, I think I love you for that one!

    I don’t care if it can play the piano, no one has the right to use a woman’s body without permission, period. So whether or not you consider a fertilized egg as much of a human as an adult woman, that “person” still does not have that right.

    Absolutely. That’s where I stand on it too. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a viable human being or not. If it depends on you for life, while being a drain on yours, you have the right to rid yourself of it. End of discussion.

    It only becomes trickier issue at say 8 months because it might be sustained outside a woman’s body. Per Claudia’s example, that’s not an issue until it happens, if ever. There are numerous problems with babies born prematurely. We haven’t even been able to overcome those 100%. It’s premature to talk about what doesn’t even exist yet and may or may not in the future. It doesn’t exist so why is it being brought up? Making a decision re abortion based on what isn’t the current reality is absurd.

    Now, by using the word “host”, I’m not trying to imply that a fetus is parasitizing its mother.

    It can’t be helped but it is. Only those mothers willing to host such a life because they want the baby should. No woman should be forced to. Now cue the morons who will call me a horrible mother and grandmother for saying something so blatantly true despite the fact that I hosted such a life within me — conceived it in fact — because I wanted to bring said life into this world to love and nurtur.

    go to war to turn a dictatorship into a democracy

    Wow, do you not even recognize the inconsistency with that phrase?

    It would seem to me that small wages and small prices for products is the natural order. All the minimum wage did is send companies overseas instead of hiring Americans so the same people the minimum wage was intended to help ends up getting screwed.

    So you want to go back to tenaments, sweat shops, child labor and the Triangle Shirt Factory disaster which is what we have without minimum wage and fair labor standards.

    An excellent history of labor in America

    As for the last bit, no, greedy rich assholes did that and the government should be doing one hell of a lot more to stop it but unfortunately mostly consists of greedy rich assholes who forget how it played out when we previously had robber barons and are now bailing out those robber barons with the tax money of those they exploit rather than making them suffer the consequences of their greed. Don’t get me freaking started. (Too late!)

    the next nine months might be hard

    Wow, and you actually limited that to nine months after telling you have two adult children which rather means you should know better. And, yes, it’ll be hard even if you give said child up for adoption. I think we’ve seen enough of adopted children seeking out their birth parents and vice versa to realize that by now. Unless we’re living under a rock or burying ourselves in a fantasy instead of reality.

  • MTran

    Stan,

    I don’t doubt your sincerity or good intentions. But…

    Every petri dish with human cells in it contains human life in those cells.

    You are making a moral judgment and argument about whether a zygote or conceptus is not just “human life” but a “person” with the legal rights that normally attach to a person in our society.

    At the same time you are ignoring a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. Are women’s bodies the property of the state? Because that’s where your argument takes us.

    Are you saying that the US should emulate the third world countries and outlaw all or most abortion? Or are you saying that countries with liberal abortion laws, such as Canada and most of Europe, are morally corrupt when compared to say, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Congo, and Burma?

    You think you are making a moral argument but you are actually espousing a governmental policy. One that essentially ignores women because, well I guess because they don’t count.

    If you are concerned about slippery slopes, then perhaps you should read “The Only Moral Abortion Is My Abortion” by Joyce Arthur. Her article has been around for years, Google will find it for you. She recounts the experiences of family planning service providers have had with adamant, antiabortionist activists who … decide to have an abortion. You see, they value someone else’s fetus over the woman carrying it. But their own, or their daughter’s, inconvenient pregnancy is one that is uniquely morally suited for termination by abortion. Those other women, they are just sluts, careless, immoral, selfish monsters.

    So if there is a moral slippery slope here, it tends to go in the direction of greater dictatorial control over some women by those who claim moral superiority.

    Napoleon, for instance, when faced with falling birthrates (years of war will do that to a nation) struck a bargain with Pope Pius IX to have all abortions declared a sin in exchange for officially recognizing the papacy. (Napoleon and the RRC had many years of conflict prior to this agreement.) Similarly, Stalin criminalized abortions in response to falling birthrates. You see, it was foot soldiers that were wanted. Foot soldiers and breeding stock.

    When you invoke the government in these matters you are essentially telling women that they, and all embryos, are property of the state. You are making a deal like Napoleon’s.

    Personally, I trust the average woman enough to feel confident in her ability to decide what is best for her own body and her needs as far as family size. As many have pointed out, the late trimester abortions are extremely few in number and are usually the result of grievous health problems. Likewise, there are exceedingly few facilities or doctors who are willing to perform late trimester abortions, so even women who might need one will have difficulty obtaining one.

    If you want to discourage abortions through the law, you might want to remove some of the financial incentives that drive young desperate women to seek them. Enact government provided health care for mothers and their children. Provide adequate child care and working conditions so a mother can work without the bulk of her wages being siphoned into a day care facility.

  • Demonhype

    @cat:

    Well said. Good job. :)

    I was brainwashed by anti-choice propaganda in Catholic school, which amounted to slut-shaming and “look at the widdle baybee” and lots and lots of half-truths and outright lies. In fact, I have an anti-choice drawing I did in for a class, depicting an eight- or nine-month pregnant woman receiving a bottle of pills from an off-screen person behind a desk who was saying something flippant and sociopathic about making the cute little baby history. This was not me making up my own facts–this was literally the working concept of abortion I had, based entirely on what I had been taught about it. As I looked at this image as a better-informed adult, I was struck by the multiple levels of inaccuracy inherent in it, as well as what that implied. I was too young to be told all the facts about pregnancy and abortion (what with their inherent ‘sinfulness’), but I wasn’t too young to be indoctrinated with lies and half-truths and emotional propaganda about a subject I was too young to understand.

    I think the first time I began to realize that the anti-choice (“pro-life”, my ass) position was bullshit was when I heard someone with pro-choice sympathies comment on the results of illegal abortions and the anti-choicer said “Good for the god-damn sluts, they should bleed to death behind a dumpster! I have no sympathy for those god-damn baby-killing whores!” I was still a child and it would take years before I would learn the truth, but that “pro-life” comment really horrified me beyond belief and it still does.

    As far as I’m concerned, slut-shaming and demonized sex is the motive behind the anti-choice movement, whether it is conscious or subconscious. In the first case, they certainly won’t come right out and say it in polite society (usually), and in the second case it’s often just rationalization. I’ve seen little to convince me otherwise.

    My sister said something to the effect of “don’t like being pregnant, then dont’ have sex, WHORE!” (I am not embellishing, BTW). I told her to stop pretending to be “in it for the baybee” because she is in essence claiming that a child’s life is a punishment to be inflicted on a WHORE, with no concern for how that affects the “widdle baybee” (especially since she has conniptions about poor people and people on welfare having the audacity to breed and then ask for help, even as she wants to deny them reproductive choice–just like in Carlin’s piece–who cares if a “widdle baybee” starves to death? so long as it’s born my job is done and I can wash my hands of anything further). I also told her that being pro- or anti-choice is not based on whether you would personally get an abortion and is rather based on whether you think other women should be able to make that choice for themselves. You could completely reject abortion for yourself and still be pro-choice.

    She’s changed her mind recently. Or is at least on her way. She’s decided that, while she would never be able to live with an abortion and would prefer adoption, she feels that other women should be able to make that choice according to their own conscience too, and that women who have sex are not, by default, “whores” who somehow “deserve” punishment. Of course, she had a scare that made the issue a little clearer for her, and she has fortunately been able to extend how she felt (“how dare anyone tell me what to do with my body/medical decisions!”) to other women, rather than cement her insistence that other women be held to her conscience.

    I’m kind of proud of her for that. So many anti-choicers never learn that even when they do have a scare–just look at that “The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion” and see how many make themselves the sole exception to the “slut” rule.

  • Robert W.

    Cat,

    I read the World Health article you linked. It absolutely doesn’t support the argument you are making. In fact it said just the opposite. The legal restrictions on abortions have no effect on its incidence:

    From the article:

    Legal restrictions on abortion do not affect its incidence. For example, the abortion rate is 29 in Africa, where abortion is illegal in many circumstances in most countries, and it is 28 in Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds. The lowest rates in the world are in Western and Northern Europe, where abortion is accessible with few restrictions. [1]

    The article concludes that incidence of abortion are effected more by the availability of contraception as opposed to its legality.

    Hoverfrog-

    She isn’t killing that other life. She is withdrawing support for that other life. She is saying that she has no desire to share her body with another organism against her will. What happens to that organism after it has been removed from her body is none of her concern.

    You weren’t serious were you? That is a very dangerous line of thought.

    Call it for what it is- Those that are pro abortion are simply saying that the woman has the right to kill her unborn baby. Period. Don’t sugarquote it by calling it something else. If you can live with that then you can. I can’t.

    Does that mean I hate women as some have implied- Of course not. But between an innocent and vulnerable helpless life and one who made choices knowing the risks and now is inconvenienced and wants to kill that innocent life, I will always side with the innocent.

    Once we start determining the value of life by how it inconveniences others, then that slippery slope will not stop with the unborn. It will include the elderly, the infirmed, the mentally challenged, the physically challenged etc…

  • Claudia

    Conception is the moment at which a separate, new human life begins. This is an indisputable biological fact(talk to any rational, honest biologist).

    Well, I like to think of myself as a rational, honest biologist (biochemist really, but it’s more semantics). I’ve asked you to cite me the relevant papers where it was scientifically established when a “a separate, new human life begins” or even what is meant, scientifically, by “a separate, new human life”. You have failed to do so.

    I’m sorry, but you are doing two things which are throughly unscientific. First of all, you are claiming that a given belief of yours is a “scientifically established fact” when it is nothing of the sort. You haven’t even defined what a “separate human life” is. The second and far worse of your errors is your belief that you can use the authority of science to enforce a moral judgement. Even if you were to demonstrate that science has actually come down on “life starting at conception” (which, again, you have failed to do despite repeated requests) you would still have to do the work of proving that a zygote is the same kind of life of a 3 year old child or of a 25 year old woman and hence entitled to the same sorts of rights. You have not done that, but simply left it as self-evident from your premise, which itself relies on a false authority from science.

    I’m receptive towards certain arguments against abortion, particularly in the later stages (before the 3rd month, I find it as morally objectionable as getting a tooth pulled), but your attempt to put a scientific sheen on what are obviously beliefs with an unscientific origin is objectionable. Frankly your argument about when neural development starts is a lot more compelling. Unlike your assertion about “when life starts” there is actual documented scientific data about the various steps of fetal development and a legitimate argument can be had about which steps are most important. But for that you need to restrict yourself to that which science actually says, not what you think it must say because it’s so obvious to you.

  • Aj

    I think anti-abortion people like Stan intentionally use imprecise terminology to confuse the situation, implying falsehoods. Reputable biologists aren’t going to use that terminology. Conception is when a sperm and an egg form a human organism. Embryos are not “children” or “babies”, these are terms used for post-birth stages. Embryos are not human beings, being suggests intelligent, conscious, self-aware persons. Life is an unbroken chain, it started long ago, the sperm and egg are part of that chain, they are alive, as are the cells that make up your body. It’s just empty rhetoric and shock imagery from these people, they don’t have a case.

    It’s quite clear that the ones that talk about pre-marital sex, consequences, and an exemption for those who are raped, don’t give a shit about embryos, they just want to use pregnancy and child-rearing as a punishment for sex. A section of those, that are sexist and want to enforce gender roles, are anti-woman, because the punishment is clearly directed at women. That they have such an aversion to others having sex suggests they have issues. I wonder if they also make the case for not treating sexual transmitted diseases using the same argument.

  • BlueRidgeLady

    I love how most of this anti-choice rhetoric is going in circles, trying to say that abortions are wrong because they are killing innocent “babies” but then saying “unless it’s rape”, to which I wonder if the value of those cells is any different because of how the semen arrived there. I also wonder if they only use the “except for rape” clause only to not look like monsters, and if they would even recognize spousal rape.
    I also wonder if anyone touting these absurdly inaccurate “facts” has ever looked at a medical gestational chart has any idea that about 61% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children*. As in, they are loving mothers who care about their actual, existing families and make hard choices that are best- for actual, breathing, living children who need to eat and go to school.

    Then there’s the trivialization of a woman’s experience of pregnancy and labor, both of which are very risky and dangerous. The men spouting this anti-choice bullshit haven’t even had to suffer a menstrual cramp, and they have the gall to say that it’s “not that bad”.

    The entire premise is wholly, disgustingly anti-woman. Woman are not incubators and our lives, happiness, and well-being (and our childrens’ lives) are worth more than week-old coagulated ejaculate. You want fewer abortions, that’s fine. Be my guest. Please volunteer at Planned Parenthood providing the public with knowledge and contraception. Ending up accidentally pregnant is a terrible, terrible reason to become a parent.
    I would also take a gamble and guess that the vast majority of you weeping over the little lost zygotes eat animals (baby animals at that) every single day, and those animals suffer and feel more than the fetuses you champion.

    *Guttmacher Institute.

  • Aj

    Another example of how confused these people are is their use of the word “innocent”. Something that has no free will in any sense, something that doesn’t make decisions, has never acted with intent, is given the attribute of innocence. What else do these people describe as innocent? Rocks, plants, or viruses? Of course they’re innocent, they can’t not be, it’s completely irrelevant, it’s only ever relevant when there’s a chance that they’re not. It’s yet another example of them spuriously trying to associate embryos with humans that are more developed, humans with the right to life. These people are not honest, I doubt they believe their own bullshit, but they’re always working from an ideology to do with pro-reproduction, anti-sex, or belief in souls.

  • Robert W.

    Guttmacher Institute study? They talked to 38 women! I would hardly call that a true study of the type of women who have abortions in this country. And hardly an unbiased source. Just look at their website.

    AJ-

    These people are not honest, I doubt they believe their own bullshit, but they’re always working from an ideology to do with pro-reproduction, anti-sex, or belief in souls.

    Allow me to change that to refer to the pro abortion side-

    “These people are not honest. I doubt they believe their own bullshit, but they are always working from an ideology of pro-death, sex without consequences and a lack of belief in souls.”

    Sterotyping sucks doesn’t it.

  • Sean

    sex without consequences and a lack of belief in souls

    While this is not an accurate characterization of the pro-choice side, I don’t think those two things are actually bad, so…

    Whateva?

    Even if you were to demonstrate that science has actually come down on “life starting at conception” (which, again, you have failed to do despite repeated requests) you would still have to do the work of proving that a zygote is the same kind of life of a 3 year old child or of a 25 year old woman and hence entitled to the same sorts of rights.

    Exactly. The strict pro-life side (who would allow no abortion whatsoever) always skips this step which is the most important one. Any argument that assumes this is a non-starter when you’re talking to someone who doesn’t think it’s true; surely some pro-lifers must understand this point, but I never get anything other than a bald assertion that whenever a new human genome is assembled, that’s a new human being. Or religious stuff (how can you detect what does or doesn’t have a soul anyway?).

  • Aj

    Robert W.,

    Allow me to change that to refer to the pro abortion side-

    “These people are not honest. I doubt they believe their own bullshit, but they are always working from an ideology of pro-death, sex without consequences and a lack of belief in souls.”

    Sterotyping sucks doesn’t it.

    Anti-abortion people don’t necessarily hold all the beliefs in their ideology I mentioned, that’s why I used “or” instead of “and”. If you haven’t changed that I would be perfectly happy with your statement. All pro-choice people I’ve heard from hold at least one of those positions, none have been pro-death, all have been promoted sex without consequences (unless they want them obviously), and some lack a belief in souls. In my experience, and after reading from anti-abortion political groups, anti-abortion people have so far all held at least one of those positions.

  • Kailey

    The vast majority of abortions (in the USA) are performed before the 12th week of pregnancy, something like less than 5% are after the sixth month, and the vast majority if not all of these are for medical purposes.

    Generally, one of the only reasons some women wait longer to terminate is because they cant recoup the initial costs of an abortion (Generally at minimum 300-500 dollars) in the first trimester .

  • Jen

    I believe in the sanctity of life. Do you know the Catholic Church is pro-life and does not support the death penalty? It’s hypocritical for anyone to say they don’t support the death penalty but they think killing the innocent is fine and vice versa?
    We are not rabbits in heat. Self-control is what seperates us from mere animals. If you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex! Self-mastery is a virtue..how is it the baby’s fault that their mother is irresponsible?
    So what is an abortion? What does it actually do? Questions for “pro-choice”– what about the baby’s choice?
    Pro-life is pro-woman! A woman’s body is not an object but a temple!

  • Asdf

    as the late great Bill Hicks once said about pro-life people: “you lose, shut up, go home”, and he is right, you do lose, you will always lose so shut the fuck up


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