Say anything to take us out of this gloom

Here’s Amanda Marcotte on “Why the Iowa Caucus Is About Abortion“:

If the Iowa caucus was regarded in the light it deserves — as a reflection of what Christian right extremists are thinking right now, instead of as a predictor of larger trends — it could be incredibly useful. It would be nice, for instance, if the nation at large was aware of how Christian conservatives are voting not because of reality or even realistic-sounding misinformation, but because they believe stories that are too fantastical on their surface to be true.

She’s talking about things like Ron Paul’s claim “that he saw doctors throwing a live baby away to let it die.”

I do not believe that story. I do not believe that story because I’ve heard this story many, many times before.

I’ve heard hundreds of variations of this story over the years from hucksters like Mike Warnke and Bob Larson. Sometimes renditions of that story include additional, fantastically lurid details — black robes, pentagrams, jeweled daggers, etc. But they never include the kinds of details that would make such stories believable — names or places that could be confirmed, or any other such evidence.

David Weigel reports that Paul was caught flat-footed when asked for such details — not by a skeptical journalist, but by religious right radio host Jan Mickelson, who sought those additional details because this was the kind of story his listeners love. He wasn’t trying to confirm the story, merely to savor it. And so Mickelson asked Paul why he didn’t try to rescue that baby in the bucket.

Paul was briefly taken aback. “I would have had to have … I don’t know,” he said. “It was probably a fleeting, two minute thing. I walked in, took a peek, saw what was happening, because I was visiting there for an operating room. But I didn’t have the facilities! What could I have done?”

As Marcotte notes, “The more elaborate fantasy of the radio host inadvertently exposed the giant plot hole in Paul’s story-spinning.”

In a follow-up post, Marcotte theorizes that Mitt Romney’s inability to sell the standard urban legends of satanic baby-killers is part of his problem in appealing to the religious right voting bloc:

One reason that Romney bores the right and causes them to dislike him so strongly is that he’s not very good at spinning fantastical [BS]. … It’s hard to imagine Romney busting out a whopper about doctors throwing a live baby in a bucket and leaving it there to die. Romney is mealy-mouthed about global warming, claiming (falsely) that we don’t know what causes it, which conservatives feel is a bare minimum requirement. But it’s not exciting, like suggesting that there’s an international conspiracy to invent global warming that scientists perpetuate because they’re all secretly communists.

“It’s not exciting.” That’s the key. These fantasies have to be thrilling — a dramatic struggle of good vs. evil in which we can imagine ourselves to be the heroes.

Michele Bachmann understands this. She avoids Paul’s misstep of invoking the old urban legends and appeals directly to this need to perceive oneself as a hero in an epic struggle.

This is not a check the box thing for me; this is the core of my conviction, this is what I would literally die for. We have a moral obligation to defend other people and the reason for that is because each human being is made in the image and likeness of a holy God.

Some of the most eloquent words about life came to us from the Declaration of Independence and it says that God has given us our right to life and we know that the President Obama has a war on the family.

What we need to do to upend Roe v. Wade and end that horrible holocaust in the United States of life is to pass the Personhood Amendment.

See, it’s just like the Holocaust — an epic moral cause for which we must be willing to literally die.

And by “literally die,” of course, we mean that we’ll vote for Republicans every two years, or at least every four years, and maybe send the occasional check to an anti-abortion lobbying group or candidate. And that will make us bigger heroes than Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Lt. Aldo Raine combined.

  • Deggjr

    It was only recently that I realized anti-abortionists seem to believe that abortion was invented in 1973 with Roe v. Wade.  It existed many years prior to that.  Roe v. Wade makes it less likely that the mother will die from the operation (so objectionable!).

  • Anonymous

    I think it would be fun to make a jeweled dagger at some point. A technical challenge, and if I were successful, I’d have my very hands on a modern object of legend. :)

    I’d probably use it to clip flowers or trim my houseplants, though, which is a bit ignominious for such a thing.

    I seem to recall an excellent entry about lying liars who lie about things like jeweled daggers, black robes and where their convictions actually lie. I’m sure it’s around here somewhere.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    And that will make us bigger heroes than Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Lt. Aldo Raine combined.

    And that right there is what we call an incongruous association.

  • Anonymous

    One might even say that it is inglorious.

    I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    “I didn’t have the facilities!”  He said, adding, “what, did you think I would pick up a dying baby with my HANDS?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    What a bad argument. You’re a doctor in a hospital and you didn’t even try to save a baby dying in front of you?

  • Anonymous

    Roe v. Wade makes it less likely that the mother will die from the operation (so objectionable!).

    You know, I’ve always been pro-choice, but my view of abortion rights changed substantially when I watched CBS’s “Abortion and the Law” from the 1960s in a class in college. Prior to that, it was about choice. Seeing doctor after doctor (the report is patriarchal in a lot of ways) talk about women who died or almost died from self-induced  or back-alley abortions — women whom they could have saved had they done the abortions themselves? That changed a lot of things in my mind.

  • Anonymous

    Or at least call the cops.  If anyone claims to have witnessed a murder and can’t answer the question “did you call the police?” with “yes,” that person is lying. 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Well remember, Ron Paul is a libertarian. He’s philisophically obligated to not lift a godsdamned finger to help even a BABY if the baby isn’t paying him. 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Well, women were far less likely to die from an abortion if they were *wealthy*.  That’s what really galls them: that *poor* women aren’t dying enough.

  • MaryKaye

    The thing that makes me mad is, there *are* people with pro-life convictions who are being true heroes.  Just as an example, the YMCA in my area provides free crisis-intervention counselling to families.  This is hard work, even dangerous work–you could easily find yourself in the middle of a domestic violence situation.  And it could easily save lives–infants, children, teens, the whole range.

    There are people working their butts off to make it possible for parents to raise their children successfully.  I’d include among them the people fighting for universal health insurance.

    And then there are posturing idiots.  I wish more voters knew the difference!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30319652 Tim Lehnerer

    In Paul’s defense, he might have known that the baby didn’t have insurance, and should have been left to die.

  • friendly reader

    I always think my opinion on abortion was (oddly) summarized by Det. Goren in an early episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent: we live in an imperfect world, and so long as there is a need for abortion, it needs to be safe and legal.

    One of the biggest irritants for me from the pro-life movement is the way they view all abortions as “elective” abortions; pregnant women apparently just wake up and decide they feel like having an unpleasant surgical procedure today! That’s why one of my pastors posited that late-term abortions are actually more moral than early-term abortions, because if you’ve carried a pregnancy that long, then you truly wanted that baby, and something horrible happened so that you couldn’t have that baby. But listening to commentators on George Tiller (rest in peace) you’d think women just decide after 8 months that they just suddenly change their minds and go “I wanna abortion!” Women do not think like that!! At least not any I’ve met.

  • esmerelda ogg

    On the other hand…Fred, I don’t believe Ron Paul either. I wouldn’t believe Ron Paul if he told me “Everything I, Ron Paul, say is a lie.” But what about the likes of Dr. Gosnell, in the queue for trial because he performed abortions in filthy, dangerous conditions in Philadelphia. Gosnell is said to have made a habit of letting live-born babies die (or killing them outright, I don’t remember which one the news stories about him several months back reported). Yes, he’s charged not with babykilling but with the death of a woman who was anesthetized to death…but he does seem to be an ur-example of real stories that resemble the wacko-right legends.

    I really hate it when reality bears any resemblance to the wacko-right fantasies.

  • FangsFirst

    Seeing doctor after doctor (the report is patriarchal in a lot of ways)
    talk about women who died or almost died from self-induced  or
    back-alley abortions — women whom they could have saved had they done the abortions themselves? That changed a lot of things in my mind.

    I always think my opinion on abortion was (oddly) summarized by Det. Goren in an early episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent: we live in an imperfect world, and so long as there is a need for abortion, it needs to be safe and legal.

    As a male with no immediate (and, all things considered, I’m gonna say no probable future) and personal involvement, the above covers about as far as I go with having an opinion. As soon as I kinda went, “Well, I don’t have an experience that could relate to this at all, not even an ‘equivalent’ experience with my body that could *one day* happen…” I thought, “Screw this. None of my business to try to legislate or declare my personal opinion on.”

    But the above portions made me say, “Well, I will go so far as to say, ‘C’mon, people, this is going to happen, let’s at least make/keep it safe, and then you can argue about whether it’s acceptable or bad that it’s happening AFTER that–with lots of noise but no effect on the SAFETY of it, ‘kay?’”

  • http://nobleexperiments.blogspot.com/ NobleExperiments

    ” We have a moral obligation to defend other people and the reason for that is because each human being is made in the image and likeness of a holy God.”

    Bachmann’s against war, poverty, and the death penalty? Who knew?

    Oh wait…..

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    I always think my opinion on abortion was (oddly) summarized by Det. Goren in an early episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent: we live in an imperfect world, and so long as there is a need for abortion, it needs to be safe and legal.

    This. I think abortion is wrong; I also think it should definitely be legal.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    I always find it telling that there’s a huge amount of furor placed around making abortion “illegal”, but if you really want to learn something about the forced-pregnancy lobby (sorry, not “pro-life”, not even close) ask them a few simple questions:

    1.) Do you think abortion should a crime like murder is?
    2.) If a parent hires a hitman to kill their toddler/pre-schooler/teenager, the law says they can be charged with murder, just for paying someone else to do the action. Do you agree with this?
    3.) What do think the prison sentence should be for a woman who has an abortion? How long should she go to jail for? What should the fine be for having an abortion?
    4.) If abortion is legally murder, than a woman’s uterus is evidence of a crime, (possibly the only evidence available!) and evidence needs to be preserved and presented at trial. Should women who have abortions be forced to undergo hysterectomies so that the evidence can be presented at trial?

    Most forced-pregnancy folks will agree with #1 without hesitation.
    Some will hear #2 and suspect that something is up, but they’ll usually agree that some crime is being committed.
    #3 is where the cognitive dissonance hits. They argue that the doctor performing the abortion should be punished. (see #2!) They will argue that no woman in her right mind would get an abortion, so they can’t be guilty. (not how the law works) They will say it should be illegal, but women shouldn’t go to jail or pay fines. (what’s the effect of making something illegal but having no punishment for breaking the law?)
    #4 is where they’ll claim you’re just being silly. (Nope; it happens now in countries where abortion is illegal)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    No, libertarians don’t believe that babies should die on the ground. Libertarians believe that the government shouldn’t help people, not that individual citizens can’t help anyone. What’s weird is that he has voted for a federal ban on abortion in the past, yet can’t point to a single sentence in the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do that. He’s a strict constructionist when it comes to the rights of gay people and the rights of racial minorities, but when it comes to unborn fetuses he takes the politically expedient position? How does that make him any better than any other politician?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    As a male with no immediate (and, all things considered, I’m gonna say
    no probable future) and personal involvement, the above covers about as
    far as I go with having an opinion. As soon as I kinda went, “Well, I
    don’t have an experience that could relate to this at all, not even an
    ‘equivalent’ experience with my body that could *one day* happen…” I
    thought, “Screw this. None of my business to try to legislate or declare
    my personal opinion on.”

    Incidentally, I saw that episode of Law and Order and that’s exactly what Goren said, almost word for word. His partner asks him what he thinks about abortion, and he says, “I’ll tell you what I think when I get pregnant.”

  • FangsFirst

    This. I think abortion is wrong; I also think it should definitely be legal.

    The bravest, strongest person I’ve ever known basically shares your sentiment. She gets pretty vehement about late term, but that’s getting way too detailed and specific for anything I feel right in commenting on anyway.

    Shortly after she–very privately–found out she could never have children naturally, someone ignorant of this came to her for support after deciding to get an abortion.

    She gave her comfort and support, even though someone just deciding they only theoretically didn’t want to have children made her intensely angry in private.

    (Nevermind that she also got angry about members of her congregations praying outside Planned Parenthood locations, for the horrible shame they were unnecessarily placing on women she saw as already in a pretty difficult place, the self-aggrandizing nature of the action, and her own personal experience with their much greater range of totally unrelated services. Now THAT is Christian behaviour…)

  • MaryKaye

    In one of the books I read on adopting older children is the story of Haley, who was adopted as an early teen, and who had severe attachment disorder–difficulty in forming an emotional connection with her parents, which is something that if it doesn’t get better by a certain age, leads to not making emotional connections with anyone, ever.

    Haley was maybe beginning to make some progress with her adoptive parents.  Then her adoptive mother, who had thought herself infertile, got pregnant.  She had no good choices.  Giving up the baby for adoption would have reopened all of Haley’s wounds.  Renouncing Haley would have been even worse.  She was opposed to abortion, especially of a baby she had wanted for years–she adopted because she was infertile.

    Haley tried to kill the baby, and had to be institutionalized, probably for life.

    I was previously in the “I think it’s wrong but should be legal, available, safe, and free from harassment” camp, but this case drives home to me that no, I don’t even get to say that it’s wrong.  I don’t know other peoples’ circumstances and I can’t make that call for anyone but me.

    I thought about it a lot when it seemed I might be pregnant–I am also the adoptive parent of someone with attachment disorder, though not as severe as Haley’s.  I thought about it a *lot*.  I don’t know what I would have done.  But I can say that it was a huge relief to discover that it wasn’t a pregnancy, just a life-threatening medical condition.  That was a lot easier to deal with (and due to good medical care, has been dealt with successfully).

  • Thebewilderness

    This story has been told in front of a congressional committee prior to the first Gulf War. Kuwait babies thrown out of incubators and on to the floor to die. It was not true then either.
    http://www.prwatch.org/books/tsigfy10.html

  • Anonymous

    Paul was briefly taken aback. “I would have had to have … I don’t know,” he said. “It was probably a fleeting, two minute thing. I walked in, took a peek, saw what was happening, because I was visiting there for an operating room. But I didn’t have the facilities! What could I have done?”

    My god…
    Ron Paul is Cameron “Buck” Williams!

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Santorum, huh? Cool.

    There’s gonna be some sex-ed going on tonight when people hit Google to find out about this guy :)

  • D Johnston

    These days, anti-abortion types rarely call for the women to be punished, and will typically come up with some reason why the contractor part of the contract killing shouldn’t be punished. Inevitably, this involves making the women out to be victims. They’ll either state that the women need treatment – as though they were drug addicts – or will argue for some sort of diminished capacity defense. The former doesn’t fit with their rhetoric, and they can never quite articulate what “treatment” one would offer. The latter isn’t exactly the law, but lends itself to some bizarre precedents – if pregnancy eliminates mens rea for first-degree murder with aggravating factors, then what other crimes could pregnant women get away with?

    Back in the day, women were rarely punished for getting or seeking abortions because the law held that being female was, in itself, diminished capacity. I’d love to see some pro-life women react to that. People never think about these laws until they realize that the laws might affect them personally – see the recent “personhood” amendments that went down in flames.

  • Dan Audy

    As a male with no immediate (and, all things considered, I’m gonna
    say no probable future) and personal involvement, the above covers about
    as far as I go with having an opinion. As soon as I kinda went, “Well, I
    don’t have an experience that could relate to this at all, not even an
    ‘equivalent’ experience with my body that could *one day* happen…” I
    thought, “Screw this. None of my business to try to legislate or declare
    my personal opinion on.”

    I’ve always found this attitude to be a bizarre form of avoiding the issue.  Why would the fact that as a man I will never face the choice of whether to personally have an abortion make it any less important to become involved in than the fact that as a caucasian I would never have been faced with personally being enslaved (or in a more modern example being refused housing in a good neighbourhood) make becoming involved in emancipation or work against racism?  Certainly being outside of the affected group gives me the luxury of not forming an opinion or getting involved but it seems like the ‘none of my business’ attitude is widely decried as an immoral one in a historical context (slavery or genocide to use the anti-choice crowds favorite comparisons).

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Um, because barring the rare cases of trans-men retaining their uteruses, men can’t get pregnant?

    And since they can’t get pregnant, being anti-abortion means a man is willing to interfere with the bodily autonomy of a woman in ways that have no consequences or problems for him?

    And that would be really hypocritical and wrong?

  • Anonymous

    I wonder what would happen if you made that jeweled dagger, dressed in a black robe, and then joined some of the religious fanatics at an anti-abortion rally?  Maybe with a sign saying something like “Satanists for Life!  Lucifer hates baby murder!”  Would it be enough cognitive dissonance to finally short-circuit the anti-choicers’ brains?

  • Anonymous

    Seriously.  The anti-Santorum attack ad practically writes itself:

    [Camera pans over to Romney's smug, smiling, Reagan-robot face]

    Romney:  Google the name ‘Santorum’.

    [Camera fades out to a picture of a waving American flag]

    Romney’s voice:  I’m Mitt Romney, and I approve this message.

  • Lonespark

    If you don’t think you’re qualified to make choices about other people’s bodies and lives…then you should work against the anti-abortion folks.  Because they want to make choices about other people’s bodies and lives.  Saying it’s not your business doesn’t make you an ally.

  • Lori

     
    I’ve always found this attitude to be a bizarre form of avoiding the issue.  Why would the fact that as a man I will never face the choice of whether to personally have an abortion make it any less important to become involved in than the fact that as a caucasian I would never have been faced with personally being enslaved make becoming involved in emancipation or work against racism?  Certainly being outside of the affected group gives me the luxury of not forming an opinion or getting involved but it seems like the ‘none of my business’ attitude is widely decried as an immoral one in a historical context (slavery or genocide to use the anti-choice crowds favorite comparisons).  

    Honestly, I think it’s probably more true that being male means that you have no real right to be anti-choice in the same way that white people really had no right to say that enslaving blacks was OK. 

    If there’s no possibility that you’re ever going to get the gummy end of a particular stick then it behooves you not to use “morals” as a weapon against the people who are. 

  • BC

    And that will make us bigger heroes than Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Lt. Aldo Raine combined. Just like they are bigger persecution victims than the Christians who were crucified and set on fire so Nero’s guests could find their way to a party.  Or the ones in the Coliseum facing lions and/or gladiators.  Or both combined.Modern Fundamental Christianists:  All the glory, none of the pain.  

  • FangsFirst

    Why would the fact that as a man I will never face the choice of whether
    to personally have an abortion make it any less important to become
    involved in than the fact that as a caucasian I would never have been
    faced with personally being enslaved make becoming involved in
    emancipation or work against racism?

    If you don’t think you’re qualified to make choices about other people’s
    bodies and lives…then you should work against the anti-abortion
    folks.  Because they want to make choices about other people’s bodies
    and lives.  Saying it’s not your business doesn’t make you an ally.

    Did you read the *rest* of what I wrote?

    I advocate for keeping it legal and safe, period. It’s not non-involvement.

    Sorry, I know I always ramble anyway, but I have a mortal fear of leaving something out if I don’t hit all approaches I can think of, so this is going to be long (again).

    What I don’t have is an opinion on the morality of abortion itself. And thus the legislation of it. Because I CAN be judged by my skin colour, even if it’s unlikely or would have no societal backing, it’s still TECHNICALLY possible. I still HAVE a skin colour, about which judgments COULD be formed.

    I was raised by pretty “liberal” parents (in, I suppose, most senses of the word) and so ended up pro-choice primarily by default. I was always bugged by the propaganda of the “pro life” folks, and generally inclined to disagree with them (clinic bombings never helped my opinion, to be sure), but when the day came that I went, “Okay, I need to stop and think about this and be sure of where exactly I stand, so that if someone asks I can explain and defend my position,” I realized I didn’t have enough information.

    I knew we all agreed that eventually a pregnancy is a person (possibly without an eventually) that has equal/comparable rights to the person that is carrying or did carry it. Okay. After that I mostly heard “women’s rights” as the reason for opposition. Okay. I’m in favour of women having rights, so that seems good–but what makes this more than a semantic push for some kind of compensation or control to counteract existing inequalities? How is it IMPORTANT? I knew enough about people to know no one would be sitting around thinking, “Ha! If I can just semantically argue someone out of this, I can get all the abortions I want! #57 here I come!” or “Whew, this will be way easier to do than dealing with contraceptive measures!” and arguing this purely for semantic reasons. But I didn’t know what the other end was actually composed of.

    I tended to hear this from women and occasionally from people I knew who’d actually had them–even regretted them, or felt guilty, or any number of other things. They remained pro-choice, and eventually I decided the above elements decided my opinion on legislation in permanent: I knew it wasn’t new and I knew people would always want the option or need the option or be desperate and take an alternative route to the option. So I stopped concerning myself with the morality or rightness or wrongness of it, because I knew it would happen anyway, and I’d prefer to make sure the existence was safe. At the least, even if I decided a pregnancy counted as a life before birth, losing two lives was worse than losing one.

    One day, while lurking here for some months reading the LB posts and skimming the comments, I saw someone finally explain the context of “women’s rights” on the issue. The idea of being required to submit to a biological event because someone else says you have to, because they see it as morally wrong, and then having something happen to your body for nine months that you could stop but were not allowed to, that was finally laid out for me. I realized then that I couldn’t possibly take a stance one way or the other on the actuality.

    I can’t comprehend it. I have no reason to, I have no possibility of it. I spent a while after that trying to think of (and saw a few people try to argue for) an equivalent that would make it a reality for me as a born male, something that I could say, “Well I would be okay with it if…” or “I’d never be okay, even if…” and there wasn’t an answer. The closest equivalents were still so far away it wasn’t even funny.

    So I can’t understand it. Literally cannot. Because no biological event will ever have me being required to experience it for nine months simply by law.

    So who would I be to tell women, “Hey, that’s a LIFE, and so, suck it up! Deal!”–or to say, “How dare you think that’s a life! you need to value yourself more than a collection of friggin’ cells!” Because any given person or people might agree with either sentiment when actually faced with the reality of it. I don’t have to be faced with the reality of it. Ever.

    If it’s none of my business to have an opinion, it means it’s none of my business to advocate or tacitly accept legislation on it. That does not, then, equate to non-involvement. It comes out to what it is: being anti-anti-abortion, being pro choice, because it means I think it should be left up to those who have to deal with it. It’s not a luxury of avoiding the issue, it’s that I can’t tell someone it is or isn’t wrong, because I can’t even say, “I personally wouldn’t/didn’t do it.” All I can do is say, “Hey, do what is right for you, because this affects you and a possible/future/current life that is in *your* body.”

    I’m not going to define “personhood” because I have nothing to do with the masses of cell or tissue that are debated as life. I’d be telling someone else they need to deal with MY definition, not because that’s what it is for my experience, but because I decided that’s what it is for them.

    Anything else would be telling women who have the experience and think it is wrong that I know better than them, or who think it should be a right of control that I know better than them.

    “Non-involvement” would preclude the ability for women to have control over it. If it’s wrong for me to take stands on the morality because I am male, then it’s wrong for other males to do it, too. Because we have no involvement. So until all legislators on the subject are female, it’s not non-involvement, because everyone making the decisions about it fits my bill for “unqualified to make a decision on it.”

  • Hawker40

    He’s pretty typical of the “State’s Rights” crowd, in that where he believes the Feds are wrong then the states have the right/responsibility to ignore them, and when he believes that when a state is wrong than the Fed has the right/responsibility to override them.

  • Persia

    If it’s any consolation, my position on the death penalty is taken in part from Maigret, who said that he’d probably support it if we could guarantee every defendant was 100% guilty. As I got older, I decided that governments shouldn’t be in the business of death anyway, but it certainly helped guide my thinking.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deankchang Dean Chang

    Although I can’t say I completely understand where you are coming from, I think you are hitting on something that makes this debate so frustrating.  I grew up in a relatively conservative household, so my default position was pro-life.  But after sitting and thinking about the issue as an adult, I’ve come to realize that we live in a free society and there is a cost that comes to that.  In a free society bad things happen all the time, but we accept it because those are the costs of having the freedoms that we have.  I think abortion needs to be included among one of those freedoms, simply because an individual’s bodily integrity is ultimately what the Bill of Rights and Constitution is supposed to protect.

    What I don’t like about this debate is that the folks at the extremes also happen to be the most passionate and the loudest and therefore get the most attention.  Both positions have big problems when taken to the extreme, on the one hand, if you say a zygote is a person, then you potentially criminalize millions of people who use some forms of birth control for example.  On the other hand, if you say a fetus has no human rights until the millisecond it leaves a women’s vagina, then you are potentially permitting infanticide, particularly as viability gets pushed back further and further through advances in neonatal medicine. 

    That’s why even though I was raised to oppose Roe v. Wade, these days, I think the justices were faced with a really tough decision and they made the best call they could.  No regulation is allowed early on, more is allowed later.  Frankly, I think that’s the best we can do in a free society.

    What does concern me as a Christian though, is this idea that abortion can be a “public good” so to speak.  That really does bug me and I have talked to folks on the extreme end of the pro-choice spectrum who speak as though getting an abortion should be as easy as ordering a hamburger.  I’m not saying that position is widespread, but I hope some of you can understand that as a moderate on this issue leaning pro-life, that position really does trouble me and I really hope that’s not a mainstream position. 

    At the end of the day, I think we need to work together to prevent unwanted pregnancies (yes, by giving kids condoms) and I certainly believe there should be some restrictions on minors getting abortions and late term abortions.  I actually think this is the policy that most Americans can get on board with if we can just stop with the ranting and raving for two second.

  • Anonymous

    You know, we do have a problem in the US, but it’s not an abortion problem, it’s pregnancy problem.  There’s this book I like (Cassini Division if you care) where our hero, a bad-ass space captain, finds herself pregnant from a chance encounter.   She is about to drive her spaceship through a wormhole to libertarian paradise thousands of light years away in order to combat a race of homocidal post-human uploads.  Her reaction to being pregnant is “Awesome!”

    I mean, there will always be a need for the medical procedure of abortion, but the fact that is that terminating tubal pregnancy is not what any (sane) person has in mind when they want to outlaw abortions.  They want to stop those people who find themselves pregant and whose thought is “How am I gonna pay for this?”  or “How am I going to handle this?  This is beyond me!” from having sex.  Most of these people don’t even think about the fact that most abortions are obtained by married women in their thirties, but assume it’s all poor black teenagers looking to “cash in” on those bounteous government subsidies.

    Discounting the utter lunatics who want just want to murder anyone with a uterus, abortions are not the actual problem, they are the symptom of a larger disease.  The problem is that Society hates babies  which as I’ve pointed out earlier is entwined with the fact than in reality Fundies hate babies.  It’s “suffer the little children” as long as they’re rich, white and do what they’re told, other wise it’s “the little children should suffer.”

    The “pro-life” people aren’t actually pro-life, they’re virulently, explicitly, monstrously, anti-baby.  If you want to be pro-life, that’s great, but the “abortion debate” is not whether or not women should be allowed to get abortions because they don’t want babies, it’s whether we should make those babies suffer as much as possible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deankchang Dean Chang

    I think we as a society need to sort this out together, I don’t think it’s very helpful to say because a man can’t have a baby he has no vested interest in this issue, after all pregnant women especially need the support of their their families, whether they want to have the child or not.  Are you saying women should not be permitted to circumcise their male infants because they don’t have penises ?  :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/deankchang Dean Chang

    Well, I actually don’t think that’s a fair characterization.  I happen to know a lot of pro-lifers and they don’t sound like that at all.  I think the most outspoken and extreme folks are the same folks that are mocked (and rightfully so) on this blog on a daily basis.  It’s taking a few lines from the Bible written thousands of years ago and trying to apply them “literally” in our day and age.  You get weird results is all.  I really don’t think pro-lifers are anti-baby.  They are certainly anti-sex though.

  • Lori

     
    Are you saying women should not be permitted to circumcise their male infants because they don’t have penises ?  :)  

     

    The smiley seems to indicate that you consider this an obviously whacky notion, but I actually think it’s basically true. I’m not a big fan of routine circumcision and if I had had a son my inclination would have been not to do it.  I tend to think that if someone who doesn’t have a penis wants to make a change to the OEM specs that person better have a good reason to do so and “everybody does it” is not a good reason. Assuming that the child’s father was involved I’d likely have figured that his voted counted a bit more than mine on the issue.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    I really don’t think pro-lifers are anti-baby.

    The most generious interpretation is that they are callously indifferent to babies once they’ve been born.

    The same voting block that opposes abortion also opposes government spending to reduce infant mortality such as the WIC, health insurance coverage, nutrition, and Headstart. The same voting block that opposes abortion also opposes government regulations on health and safety. (of things like lead paint in children’s toys, or standards for cribs or carseats)

    The forced-pregnancy lobby becomes at best cravenly indifferent to the “life” they claim to care for the moment it’s born.

    I don’t think they’re inherntly “anti-baby”, I think they’re classic Authoritarians who hold the belief that strong rules are required… for other people. One real effect of criminalizing abortions is that people with more wealth and means will still have access to safe medical abortions, but those people won’t. That’s the historical precident from the pre-Roe era: if you can afford to fly from the U.S. to a surgical clinic in the Domican Republic (or from Ireland to Amsterdam) then you can have a legal, safe abortion. If you can’t afford the plane ticket, then you take your chances with unsafe options.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    The latter isn’t exactly the law, but lends itself to some bizarre precedents – if pregnancy eliminates mens rea for first-degree murder with aggravating factors, then what other crimes could pregnant women get away with?

    It tends to take the form of a tautology: no sane woman would ever want ‘kill their own baby in their own womb’ (abortion), so if a woman gets an abortion, she obviously isn’t sane. How do you know she’s not sane? She just did an insane thing? Why is it an insane thing? Because no sane person would do it!

    I’d love to see some pro-life women react to that.

    I have seen it. It’s an impressive feat of “othering”. It’s not “women have diminished capacity”, but “any woman who seeks an abortion has diminished capacity, and I would never seek an abortion!” (until they do, at which time they convince themselves it’s a fluke and all their high and mighty reasons don’t apply to this specific situation, and then they walk out and rejoin the picket line)

    I said it in another comment, but it’s a form of Authoritarianism where they insist we need harsh rules to punish the behavior of ‘others’, which naturally they don’t believe should apply to themselves. “Poor people” shouldn’t be allowed to have abortions, because they’ll use them as a form of birth control, but people who can afford their own doctors should be allowed the sanctity of doctor-patient confidentiality. The U.S. (or Britian, or wherever) is such a moral land that abortion should be illegal. (and if you need one, well, as long as you can afford to travel somewhere where it’s not illegal, then the rules don’t apply to you, do they?)

  • Anonymous

    Jesus Christ, that’s heartbreaking. I don’t even know what to say. And this:

     But I can say that it was a huge relief to discover that it wasn’t a pregnancy, just a life-threatening medical condition.

    Is just — wow.

  • Donalbain

    I, for one, think that abortion should be as easy to get as a hamburger. It is the woman’s uterus, she should decide who or what gets to use it. Once she has decided that she does not want something to use it, then that should be enough for all of us and she should be able to get the necessary procedure done quickly and without having to jump through the hoops needed to satisfy other people who do not own her uterus.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marciepooh Marcella McIntyre

    “At the end of the day, I think we need to work together to prevent unwanted pregnancies”
    A-frickin’-men. I’ve heard ‘pro-choice’ referred to as ‘pro-abortion’ and it annoys me no end (finding I’m not fond of pro-forced pregnancy, either). There are probably as many people who actually want there to be abortions as there are welfare queens. In my experience pro-choicers would be perfectly happy if there were no abortions, ecstatic even.  A world in which no woman had to choose between her future health* and the baby she’s prayed for would be awesome!

    *Please note, I do not mean to say that saving the health/life of the mother is the only ‘good’ reason for an abortion but that is one situation that all the condoms in the world won’t prevent.

  • Anonymous

    What does concern me as a Christian though, is this idea that abortion can be a “public good” so to speak…. I’m not saying that position is widespread, but I hope some of you can understand that as a moderate on this issue leaning pro-life, that position really does trouble me and I really hope that’s not a mainstream position.

    I hope it is a mainstream position — if only because the reverse position (that abortion is an absolute evil and should be banned on all occasions) is so widespread and so dangerous. (Look up the Overton window.)

    And I do think that abortion can be good. A 13-year-old getting an abortion rather than dealing with the trauma of pregnancy and raising a child or giving the baby up for adoption? A good thing. A woman on a tetragenic medication continuing to take the drugs she needs rather than risk her health or life for an unwanted pregnancy? A good thing. A woman with too many children already, a woman who can’t afford a child, a woman who is leaving an abusive situation? All of these are good reasons, as far as I’m concerned. (Did you know that, in a lot of states, women can’t put a baby up for adoption without the permission of the biological father? Now imagine how this plays out in an abusive relationship.)

    I certainly believe there should be some restrictions on minors getting abortions and late term abortions.  I actually think this is the policy that most Americans can get on board with if we can just stop with the ranting and raving for two second.

    In my hometown a few years back, a girl died from a back-alley abortion because she was afraid to tell her parents she was pregnant. No, I can’t get behind restrictions on minors having abortions, because restrictions on minors having abortions results in minors dying.

  • Donalbain

    Here are the good reasons for a woman to have an abortion:

    1) She wants one
    2) She needs one

  • Dan Audy

    First off FangsFirst, I want to apologize because I didn’t intend that to be an attack on you but rather a general expression of bafflement at the general ‘I’m a man, I don’t get a say’ attitude not that your specific case because (as you point out) you articulated your beliefs beyond that point rather than it being a ‘not my problem’ response.  So sorry my inarticulate post came off attacking you.  I was mostly thinking outloud in your general direction at that attitude which I’ve mostly seen as the inverse ‘You’re a man, you don’t get an opinion’* from women on both sides of the abortion issue.

    I firmly believe that in issues that don’t directly affect us, those of us wanting to become involved in change need to provide support to and take direction from those who are directly affected because ultimately they both understand the issue better and otherwise it perpetuates paternalistic treatment of their group.  I definitely agree that our role is to be allies but I don’t agree that we shouldn’t have an opinion on it because otherwise what we be motivating us to recognize the injustice and offer our support?  Right now avoiding advocacy or action on legislation means accepting that those who don’t believe that they should stay uninvolved will slowly roll back the protections and increase the restrictions and a few decades ago would have meant that Roe v. Wade never would be implemented since the nine male judges should have avoided advocating for it (because despite agreeing with the outcome I happen to agree with the anti-choice belief that the decision was not well founded [the 8th amendment would be much better grounds to base their decision on than the 9th] and was a case of post-hoc justification).

    Even though I’m not ever going to be directly impacted by the ability to receive an abortion if needed, I am indirectly impacted by living in a society and caring about people who will need to make those choices.  In my mind that not just entitles me to an opinion but obligates me to take a stand in support or opposition based on what I believe.  My opinion should take a backseat to that of those who are directly affected but I remain morally compelled to act.

    *When I was much younger, I ‘very cleverly’ responded to a dear female friend who told me this in support of abortion restrictions ‘Well you’ve never been pregnant so you shouldn’t get an opinion either’ only to have her burst into tears and run away.  After I found her and she calmed down a little she told me that in fact she had been pregnant, given birth, and given the child up for adoption without I or any of her other friends being aware (partially due to the fact that she was rather obese and it wasn’t as dramatic a body change as some women experience).  It turns out that it was during the same school year that our little christian university had a young woman (a close friend of my future wife and someone I knew casually) who had also concealed her pregnancy, given birth and let the baby die in dumpster and pair of suicides of girls who I didn’t know who had gotten pregnant.  It was a terribly bad year for our community and one that convinced me that not only was abortion a good thing to have available but that the guilt induced by religious and anti-choice moralizing against was a clear evil that killed women just as much as lack of safe abortions had decades earlier.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    (finding I’m not fond of pro-forced pregnancy, either).

    You might not be fond of it, but it’s an entirely accurate description of the agenda in question. This is a faction that believes the state can and should have the power to coerce a woman with the full force of the law to carry a pregnancy to term against her will. Full stop. There really is no ambiguity.

    If that statement makes you annoyed, feel free to show where my description is inaccurate or incorrect.

    If that statement makes you feel uncomfortable, good, because those are the stakes here. Not intangible, silent, potiential-people existing somewhere between fertilization and birth, but real women threatened with criminal action including imprisonment and worse because they did not want to carry a pregnancy to term.


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