The ‘biblical view’ that’s younger than the Happy Meal

In 1979, McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal.

Sometime after that, it was decided that the Bible teaches that human life begins at conception.

Ask any American evangelical, today, what the Bible says about abortion and they will insist that this is what it says. (Many don’t actually believe this, but they know it is the only answer that won’t get them in trouble.) They’ll be a little fuzzy on where, exactly, the Bible says this, but they’ll insist that it does.

That’s new. If you had asked American evangelicals that same question the year I was born you would not have gotten the same answer.

That year, Christianity Today — edited by Harold Lindsell, champion of “inerrancy” and author of The Battle for the Bible — published a special issue devoted to the topics of contraception and abortion. That issue included many articles that today would get their authors, editors — probably even their readers — fired from almost any evangelical institution. For example, one article by a professor from Dallas Theological Seminary criticized the Roman Catholic position on abortion as unbiblical. Jonathan Dudley quotes from the article in his book Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics. Keep in mind that this is from a conservative evangelical seminary professor, writing in Billy Graham’s magazine for editor Harold Lindsell:

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

Christianity Today would not publish that article in 2012. They might not even let you write that in comments on their website. If you applied for a job in 2012 with Christianity Today or Dallas Theological Seminary and they found out that you had written something like that, ever, you would not be hired.

At some point between 1968 and 2012, the Bible began to say something different. That’s interesting.

Even more interesting is how thoroughly the record has been rewritten. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Click over to Dr. Norman L. Geisler’s website and you’ll find all the hallmarks of a respected figure in the evangelical establishment. You’ll see that Geisler has taught at Trinity Evangelical Seminary, Dallas Seminary and Southern Evangelical Seminary. You’ll see a promotion for his newest book, Defending Inerrancy, with recommendations from such evangelical stalwarts as Al Mohler and J.I. Packer, as well as a link to an online store offering some of the other dozens of books written by Geisler. And you’ll see a big promo for the anti-abortion movie October Baby, because Geisler is, of course, anti-abortion, just like Mohler and Packer and every other respected figure in the evangelical establishment is and, of course, must be.

But back in the day, Dudley notes, Geisler “argued for the permissibility of abortion in a 1971 book, stating ‘The embryo is not fully human — it is an undeveloped person.’” That was in Ethics: Alternatives and Issues, published by Zondervan. It’s still in print, kind of, as Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues and Options. And now it says something different. Now it’s unambiguously anti-abortion.

I don’t mean to pick on Geisler. He’s no different from Packer or Graham or any other leading evangelical figure who’s been around as long as those guys have. They all now believe that the Bible teaches that life begins at conception. They believe this absolutely, unambiguously, firmly, resolutely and loudly. That’s what they believed 10 years ago, and that’s what they believed 20 years ago.

But it wasn’t what they believed 30 years ago. Thirty years ago they all believed quite the opposite.

Again, that’s interesting.

I heartily recommend Dudley’s book for his discussion of this switch and the main figures who brought it about — Francis Schaeffer, Jerry Falwell, Richard Viguerie, etc. But here I just want to quote one section about the strangeness of this 180-degree turn, and how it caught many evangelicals off-guard:

By the mid-1980s, the evangelical right was so successful with this strategy that the popular evangelical community would no longer tolerate any alternative position. Hence, the outrage over a book titled Brave New People published by InterVarsity Press in 1984. In addition to discussing a number of new biotechnologies, including genetic engineering and in vitro fertilization, the author, an evangelical professor living in New Zealand, also devoted a chapter to abortion. His position was similar to that of most evangelicals 15 years prior. Although he did not believe the fetus was a full-fledged person from conception, he did believe that because it was a potential person, it should be treated with respect. Abortion was only permissible to protect the health and well-being of the mother, to preclude a severely deformed child, and in a few other hard cases, such as rape and incest.

Although this would have been an unremarkable book in 1970, the popular evangelical community was outraged. Evangelical magazines and popular leaders across the country decried the book and its author, and evangelicals picketed outside the publisher’s office and urged booksellers to boycott the publisher. One writer called it a “monstrous book.” … The popular response to the book — despite its endorsements from Carl F.H. Henry, the first editor of Christianity Today, and Lew Smedes, an evangelical professor of ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary — was so overwhelmingly hostile that the book became the first ever withdrawn by InterVarsity Press over the course of nearly half a century in business.

The book was republished a year later by Eerdmans Press. In a preface, the author noted, “The heresy of which I appear to be guilty is that I cannot state categorically that human/personal life commences at day one of gestation. This, it seems, is being made a basic affirmation of evangelicalism, from which there can be no deviation. … No longer is it sufficient to hold classic evangelical affirmations on the nature of biblical revelation, the person and work of Christ, or justification by faith alone. In order to be labeled an evangelical, it is now essential to hold a particular view of the status of the embryo and fetus.”

The poor folks at InterVarsity Press, Carl Henry, Lewis Smedes and everyone else who was surprised by the totality of this reversal, by its suddenness and the vehemence with which it came to be an “essential” and “basic affirmation of evangelicalism” quickly got on board with the new rules.

By the time of the 1988 elections, no one any longer spoke sarcastically of “the heresy” of failing to “state categorically that human/personal life commences at day one of gestation.” By that time, it was simply viewed as an actual heresy. By the time of the 1988 elections, no one was aghast that a strict anti-abortion position was viewed as of equal — or greater — importance than one’s views of biblical revelation or the work of Christ. That was just a given.

By the time of the 1988 elections, everyone in American evangelicalism was wholly opposed to legal abortion and everyone in American evangelicalism was pretending that this had always been the case.

We have always been at war with Eastasia. Everyone knows that.

 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    You know that America wasn’t the first country in the world to legalise abortion, right? Cos the way you neatly stepped from talking about “all Christians uniformly” to talking about US law as if they were identical suggests that maybe you don’t.

  • Anonymous

    I think we have to be very careful about defining personhood and worth based on whether or not one is wanted by one’s mother.

    I wasn’t thinking of fetal homicide laws as instilling legal personhood in the fetus. That comes at birth and not a moment before. And after birth, whether the mother wants the child has no bearing on whether the child has worth.

  • Apparition

    Omniscience is not a feature of god in the bible. He had to ask Cain where his brother was. “I am not my brother’s keeper.” was the reply. Cain was also not seen by god while he was in the land of Nod, also in genesis.

  • Apparition

     simple one of the twins becomes a horcrux. :)

  • Anonymous

    Throughout all this, in 1530, 1930, 1965, and 1973, the Catholic Church has remained completely consistent in its teaching on divorce and remarriage, abortion, and contraception (all forms).  

    I find these sorts of claims fascinating. What few people realize, I think, is that *definitions* change. So one can claim to be completely consistent about a belief … even as that position changes to become something unimaginable to previous audiences.

    We’ve referred to the concept of “blocked menses” before. For a long time (I’m not sure of the exact dates), women, until quickening, were not considered pregnant. They had a condition which might evolve into pregnancy, but treating the blocked menses wasn’t considered abortion: abortion was explicitly defined as a practice which terminated *pregnancy*. So the Catholic Church has always been against abortion. It’s just that, in modern times, the term “abortion” has been expanded.

    The Catholic Church has always been against homosexuality. It says so, right in the Bible, correct? But, during the Victorian era, “true” women — i.e. good, morally upright, middle-class or upper-class women — were believed to be unable to experience sexual desire, except in the presence of a man. This meant that two women could live together, could sleep in the same bed, and share their lives — and this wasn’t considered sexual. [1] We have letters from a teenaged (IIRC) schoolgirl writing to her teacher’s husband negotiating which of them got to share the bed with her teacher on which night. Was this a form of homosexuality? We don’t know.

    I’ve cited the “grandfather’s axe” paradox before. It’s a useful dilemma when one is looking at artifacts, but I think it’s even more useful when looking at social policies.

    And — heh — after making a recent post about how part of the training involved in becoming a specialist in a field is recognizing how little one understands about other subjects even in the same field of study, I’m citing evidence from one class I took in undergrad. So YMMV. But, either way, I think this adds some nuances to a subject that very people seem to feel nuanced about.

    [1] Wikipedia, alas, doesn’t have a very good page on “Boston marriages” — and, unfortunately, IIRC, it ties them explicitly into the history of gay and lesbians. This is problematic, as it’s probable that many of the women involved in such relationships wouldn’t have considered themselves to be lesbians, even if they understood what the term meant. Certainly, in later decades, once the terms had been redefined (and you can blame Freud for this change), some of the surviving women who had once lived in such a relationship denied there was ever a sexual component to their relationship. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything, however: we have pretty clear evidence of sexual rituals in other parts of the country which, after the area “got religion” (or, rather, another kind of religion — I suspect they would have considered themselves to be Christians already), everyone involved denied ever occurred.

  • Sil

    In any other case the author would take the opportunity to portray the Bible as completely irrelevant but in this case he picks a few statements from this ancient book to try to make the case that abortion is not an issue for Christians. Well regardless of what he says and what these statements are the fact of the matter is that this is an issue for Christians today. Christianity has evolved and no matter what you say, based on modern finding (eg, what we see on ultrasounds) people have modified their views on many things. This case is no different. Christians aren’t so ignorant to adhere to something the Bible may or may not say if it now seems completely wrong. So this pathetic attempt to somehow use some ancient quotes to show their perspective on abortion is wrong seems ridiculous to me.

  • Anonymous

    My mother told me, a few years before she died, that she had once had a miscarriage. Thinking that the experience had so distressed her that this was the first time she had been able to talk about it I began to say something sympathetic. She looked at me as if I’d suddenly sprouted an extra head and explained that the miscarriage occured halfway between the births of my younger brother and sister ~ who were eighteen months apart. I was genuinely shocked to understand that the miscarriage had come as a relief and what that meant about her life. The early contraceptive pill was pretty much a blunt instrument and Mum had serious blood pressure problems. She had to rely upon a husband who was selfish, unreliable and who probably saw pregnancy as a way of keeping his wife under control.

    Her life began all over again the day her divorce came through. When people bleat about the divorce rate I just see a lot of women like my mother voting with their feet.

  • Smack80

    The same case can be made for homosexuality.

  • Lori

     2. Does. St. Anselm have to be the source of an explanation for the explanation given to be valid ?   

     

    To be valid as an explanation of St Anselm, yes it needs to come from St Anselm. Or at the very least someone who knew and worked with him and had access to aspects of his thought process that he did not record for posterity. 

      1. How is it not an explanation ? 

    200 years on it’s not an explanation of St Anselm, its Dante’s simply ideas about St Anselm. They tell you a great deal about Dante and nothing at all about St Anselm. 

  • Lori

     
    I wasn’t thinking of fetal homicide laws as instilling legal personhood in the fetus.  

     

    You can’t commit homicide against a non-person, so the entire idea of fetal homicide laws that don’t confer personhood is at best shaky. If the fetus isn’t a person then the critical injury is not to the fetus, it’s to the mother. That makes fetal homicide laws unnecessary since there are already laws to punish injury to the mother. 

    Even if they don’t establish legal personhood  for the fetus, fetal homicide laws punish injury to a pregnant woman under a totally different law than injury to a woman who is not pregnant. That involves placing special value on the fetus, and that in turn amounts to valuing in the fetus based on whether or not the mother wants it. If that weren’t the case there would be no need for a separate law for pregnant assault victims. That makes me very uncomfortable. 

  • Lori

     
    Omniscience is not a feature of god in the bible. He had to ask Cain where his brother was. “I am not my brother’s keeper.” was the reply. Cain was also not seen by god while he was in the land of Nod, also in genesis.  

    I think one can make an argument that the god in the Bible is not omniscient, but the conversation with Cain isn’t it. The fact that god asked where Able was doesn’t prove that he didn’t know the answer and the way the story is told it seems clear to me that god was well aware of Able’s fate. The point of the question wasn’t to find out about Able it was to get Cain’s response. 

  • Lori

    In any other case the author would take the opportunity to portray the Bible as completely irrelevant  

    The author is a Christian. He has never portrayed the Bible as completely irrelevant and unless he undergoes a major change of belief he never will. 

     
    Well regardless of what he says and what these statements are the fact of the matter is that this is an issue for Christians today. Christianity has evolved and no matter what you say, based on modern finding (eg, what we see on ultrasounds) people have modified their views on many things.  

    Way to miss the entire point of the post Sil. 

     
    Christians aren’t so ignorant to adhere to something the Bible may or may not say if it now seems completely wrong. So this pathetic attempt to somehow use some ancient quotes to show their perspective on abortion is wrong seems ridiculous to me.  

     
    Christians demonstrably to use what the Bible may or may not say on the issue. More than one of them has done so in this very thread. The so-called Christian position about abortion is not based on any honest use of ultrasound technology. “The Silent Scream” isn’t real and it certainly isn’t the reason for the anti-choice movement. 

    I think you need to be really careful about throwing around words like “pathetic” and “ridiculous”.

  • Anonymous

     For many years (more than a thousand) the church has believed that when a pregnant woman first felt a baby kick, the soul of the baby was “quickened”.  Hence in the Apostle’s Creed we say “He will come to judge the quick and the dead” (now often translated “the living and the dead”.)  The notion that life begins at conception is a very modern, non-traditional view in the church.

  • Anonymous

    I know a bit about translations – Pioneer Bible Translators was once my chosen career – so I can speak to this. Translations go back to the original language and apply one or more priniciples or techniques to arrive at the original meaning. But we don’t have any of the original texts to work from. For the King James, the earliest text they had was from the 6th century. Since then much earlier (back to mid 2nd century at least) texts have been discovered. All of this is to justify my statement that the KJV translation “miscarriage” is probably less accurate than the later (e.g. ESV) translation of “come out”, especially considering the following phrase “with no harm.”
    Believe me, the battles within the evangelical community over translations’ departure from the KJV have been fierce, and the fierceness directly proportional to how conservative the community was. So among actual translations (as opposed to paraphrases like the Living Bible) at least, there has been zero attempt to conform the passages cited here to a particular doctrinal position, and every effort to reflect the original text’s most clear meaning.

  • http://thetalkingllama.wordpress.com/ SketchesbyBoze

    Normally when the Bible talks about animals, it refers to their spirits (cf., Ecclesiastes 3). Aquinas came along in the 1200s and made the Aristotelian distinction that there were different degrees of “soul”: vegetative soul, appetitive soul, and rational soul (men and angels share the latter kind).

  • Auntikrist

    What absolutely no one ever mentions is that the whole issue is whether or not any female person has a right to the control of their own bodily functions.  Since the BABBLE was written by men with their male agenda, there will be no way in hell that that any of our world religions – aside from Buddhism – will ever acquiesce to letting women (who are the only ones who can be pregnant) decide how they will handle their own reproductive capabilities.

  • Rdykhouse

    What does?

  • Rdykhouse

    That is a rather ignorant remark since there are far more ejaculations than conceptions!

  • Jadenkelsen

    Ray,

         You should be in Catholic schools today, including [especially] Jesuit ones.  I personally know of students who brought up your point, and were not only told to shut up [and stop thinking -- rather an odd idea in a Jesuit school] but the teacher who allowed it was fired. Our generation was brought up with the idea that Catholics and Evangelicals were as far apart theologically as could be, but as in politics, if you far enough to the right and far enough to the left, you’ll find the two extremes meeting.

  • Rdykhouse

    Where in the world does this passage say anything about abortion?  It speaks to how a priest is to help determine an unfaithful wife.  Woe to the woman who has a jealous husband!  :-P….I don’t know about you, but I am GLAD I don’t live in the days of the Old Testament and subject to the common practices among many people in that day.  This passage in no way justifies abortion at all!  It also makes no statement on the personhood of a baby.

  • Lyra

    I don’t believe that women always have a good reason for late term abortions. Certainly I think that MOST of them do, but all? No. There are women (and fathers) who leave their newborn babies in garbage bins. There are women (and men) who drown their children in bathtubs. It doesn’t make sense that women would universally have a greater care for an 8th month old fetus than for an 8 minute old baby. If there are women (and men) who would kill their fully born children for stupid reasons, then there are women who would have third trimester abortions for stupid reasons. Now, if you have decided that by definition no reason can be stupid for a third trimester abortion but that there can be stupid reasons for killing infants, then you and I just differ on that viewpoint.

    Do I think this is a big problem like the pro-life community often makes it out to be? No. But I don’t think it is a unicorn any more than I think that mothers killing their born children is a unicorn.

  • Lori

    Did you think this through at all? Leaving a baby in a garbage can is not equivalent to having a late term abortion. 

    The way the anti-choice community uses this issue, and frankly the way you’re using it, it is a unicorn. 

  • Craig

    A fable is a fable is a fable.  It’s time we stopped listening to men in fancy robes telling fables.  Think for yourself and stop asking illiterate desert nomads for their opinion on how to live your life.

  • Lyra

     No, of course I haven’t thought this through. I don’t think anything through at all. I morally oppose thinking.

    Oh! I see. You were just taking a shot at me. Or do I get to conclude that, given that I don’t think?

    *sigh*

    I would like to know how you came to the conclusion that while women may kill their born infants for reasons we do not deem acceptable, women would never have a third trimester abortion for reasons we do not deem acceptable. You say it’s a unicorn, you say it doesn’t happen, you say it isn’t the same, but I don’t see how (unless, as a previously stated, the assertion depends on the idea that there are no reasons to have an abortion that are unacceptable).

  • Termudgeon

    I can’t speak for Lori, but some differences are that late-term abortions require medical treatment, are subject to law, and cost significant money that is not often covered by insurance, whereas dumping a newborn in a trashcan requires only a newborn and a trashcan.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I think one can make an argument that the god in the Bible is not
    omniscient, but the conversation with Cain isn’t it. The fact that god
    asked where Able was doesn’t prove that he didn’t know the answer and
    the way the story is told it seems clear to me that god was well aware
    of Able’s fate. The point of the question wasn’t to find out about Able,
    it was to get Cain’s response.

    The phrase that pops into my head is “Where’s that jolly jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker-bag?”  It’s the sort of question you ask when you already know the answer.

  • Lyra

      What I am arguing is that late-term abortions SHOULD be subject to the
    law. I am aware that they are currently subject to law, and I am arguing
    that this is a good thing. I am firmly of the opinion that if a woman
    comes in for an abortion in her first trimester, it doesn’t matter what
    her reason is, while if a woman comes in for an abortion in her third
    trimester, the reason matter. Thus, third trimester abortions should be
    subject to the law in the way a first trimester abortion should not.

    I
    admit to a certain level of surprise that this belief is causing issue,
    as I don’t usually get push back on this. Usually people agree that,
    yes, there are reasons to have an abortion that would be acceptable in
    the first trimester that would not be acceptable in the third, and so it is reasonable to limit third trimester abortions in a way we don’t limit first trimester abortions.

    I’m not arguing for additional regulations on third trimester abortions (I actually think we have too many; see the partial birth abortion ban). I’m arguing that it is reasonable to have regulations.

    And I don’t really see how requiring medical treatment and costing money
    would alter the moral status of third trimester abortion. Oh, unless
    you are connecting them to the “subject to the law thing.” If so, I would agree that the fact that abortion requires medical treatment increases the possibility that anyone seeking an illegal third trimester abortion would be stopped compared to someone seeking to stuff their baby in a trashcan. But this is because third trimester abortion is subject to the law. If we made third trimester abortion NOT subject to the law, if we decriminalized all abortion, then the involvement of a third party would likely not have as great an effect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bogslug Daniel Latta

    I checked out several translations of Exodus 21:22-24 — beyond the fact that’s its not relevant to a discussion of abortion, because its talking about two men fighting and accidentally hurting a pregnant woman, it does appear to require death for a man who causes a miscarriage. https://www.google.com/search?ix=sea&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=Exodus+21%3A22-24

  • Termudgeon

    Pushback is good. Pushback helps people refine their thoughts.

    FWIW, I did not address the *moral* status of late-term abortion for no reason at all. I addressed its likelihood using the newborn in the garbage can issue you brought up, and explained why the existence of one does not necessarily mean the existence of the other.

    Even when abortion is decriminalized, abortions, like all medical procedures, are still subject to the law.

  • Lori

      I can’t speak for Lori, but some differences are that late-term abortions require medical treatment, are subject to law, and cost significant money that is not often covered by insurance, whereas dumping a newborn in a trashcan requires only a newborn and a trashcan.   

     
    Plus a late term abortion can’t be a secret since it does require medical treatment. The point of putting a newborn in a trashcan is not simply to get rid of it, it’s to get rid of it in secret. When secrecy and denial aren’t involved people give their newborns up for adoption, they don’t throw them away. 

    When you don’t think things through you don’t get to act all offended when someone points out that you haven’t thought things through. 

    Obviously this has nothing to do with whether you think in general and I’m not the one who suggested that it does. 

  • Termudgeon

    Only if you understand “mischief” or “harm” to apply to the fetus rather than its mother, Daniel. And it is hard to imagine a premature baby surviving without harm of any kind in the desert thousands of years ago, though certainly possible for the woman who goes into premature labor to do so. And if the fetus is not harmed, why should the man be fined? Are there other instances of scriptural fines for behavior that is potentially dangerous but not actually damaging?

  • Lori

     
    And I don’t really see how requiring medical treatment and costing money would alter the moral status of third trimester abortion.  

     

    The fact that they cost money has nothing to do with their moral status. It does effect whether or not they happen, which is what we were talking about.

    You seem to be conflating several issues and as a result you’re moving the goalposts. 

  • Termudgeon

    Sorry, Frank, but the Supreme Court disagrees with you, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Women do get to decide alone if they so wish; it is a constitutional right. There are other countries that are theocracies, though, and some of them have much warmer climates. You may be interested in visiting them to get an idea of how it works.

  • Lyra

    I don’t know what you’re trying to get at, to be honest. Are you truly saying that if it was made legal to have an abortion during any trimester for any reason, women would only ever have abortions for good reason? That the involvement of a third party and money would create a situation where women are more thoughtful of their 8 month old fetuses than they are of their born children? This would be especially odd considering the that the incredibly stiff penalties we have in place for killing one’s child doesn’t always dissuade people.

    If it’s the lack of money and a third party that is causing the issue, we could always relate it to women who pay midwives to commit infanticide.

    I truly don’t understand how it makes sense to assert that while people may unjustly kill children after birth, women would never have a third trimester abortion without good cause. I don’t see the logic. Third trimester fetuses aren’t MORE people than newborn infants, and people kill newborn infants. Hell, if someone had a third trimester abortion for no good reason, I would less unhappy than if someone killed a newborn infant for no good reason. If I am correct in this, if it is more immoral to kill an newborn than to kill a third trimester fetus, why would people be more likely to kill the newborn than the fetus? I just don’t understand the rational, although I suppose that one could there is no rational, and that for some reason a woman who would kill her child after birth would wait until after birth to do it for a reason I am not currently seeing.

  • Lunch Meat

    All that aside no one has the right to take away that what God has created.

    So you’re against war, eating meat and capital punishment, then?

  • Shallot

     

    I would like to know how you came to the conclusion that while women
    may kill their born infants for reasons we do not deem acceptable,
    women would never have a third trimester abortion for reasons we do not
    deem acceptable. You say it’s a unicorn, you say it doesn’t happen, you
    say it isn’t the same, but I don’t see how (unless, as a previously
    stated, the assertion depends on the idea that there are no reasons to
    have an abortion that are unacceptable).

    I’m not Lori, but this is where I had problems with your argument.  We’re agreed that the vast majority of people seeking late term abortions are doing so for medical reasons.  The others, though, strike me not so much as uncaring as desperate.  I don’t have any stats on people who seek late-term abortions for non-health reasons, and our laws restrict it, but let’s compare to people who abandon their newborns.  Those people are generally young, impoverished, and socially isolated.  Many are victims of sexual abuse.  Their whole situation is a tragedy, not something I can just condemn as stupid.  I think that getting proper medical care to everyone, along with safe drop-off of unwanted newborns for folks who slip between the cracks, is far more effective than restricting the right of people to medical care.

    What’s left?  The “unicorn,” a healthy woman with a healthy viable 8-month fetus who has apparently decided that she doesn’t want to carry it any more, and is unwilling to simply give the fetus preemie meds and induce labor early.  I suppose it’s possible, but I’d be shocked if it happened more than once in a doctor’s entire career.

  • Lyra

     Of course late term abortions can be a secret. Having a medical procedure done isn’t an inherently public action. Even today many women have abortions without the general community becoming aware of that fact. This is part of why we have confidentiality for people who receive medical care.

    As for my offense, I’m not sure what you are objecting to. Statements like “Did you think this through at all?” seem crafted to elicit offense, which I was responding to. If you believe that your statement was not intended to cause offense, then I must ask, what kind of response where you looking for when you posed that question? What do you think is a reasonable answer to that kind of question? You didn’t ask me that with the intention of informing me of some previously meant point, and there is no answer that I can think of that you might honestly have wanted. I’m not sure why you would be surprised that I might be offended.

  • Lyra

     I would be shocked the abortion scenario you described happened as often as once in a doctor’s entire career, and I’m not sure how my infanticide comparison would lead anyone to believe that an elective third trimester abortion would be common. Infanticide itself is rare in this country. I imagine most police officers go through their entire careers without ever investigating an instance where a mother murdered her newborn infant. I would be shocked if most police officers even encountered one instance of this over their careers. But we still have laws against infanticide, and if I assert that we SHOULD have laws against infanticide, I don’t expect anyone to insist that I’m chasing after unicorns.

    And I agree that restricting access to third trimester abortions is not sole, absolute answer to third trimester abortions. I agree that access to medical care, access to earlier abortions, access to birth control, access to affordable housing, protection from sexual abuse, and all that, is surely more effective. But this isn’t an either or thing. You don’t have to choose between making third trimester abortion illegal and providing proper medical care to everyone.

  • Lyra

    Excuse me, the above should have read, “You don’t have to choose between making some third trimester abortions illegal and providing proper medical care to everyone.” My apologies.

  • Lori

     
    Of course late term abortions can be a secret.  

    Of course they can’t. At a minimum the doctor has to know. Assuming that it’s performed in a medical facility there will also be at least one nurse and probably other employees who will know. That’s not a secret. It certainly isn’t a secret in the way that giving birth alone and throwing the baby in a trash can is a secret.

    At any rate, I don’t see what this has to do with your focus on late term abortions and women who supposedly have them for “no good reason”. If you want people to discuss the issue of women ending healthy late term pregnancies for non-medical reasons you need to provide some proof that such procedures occur at a rate greater than “vanishingly small”. Your belief that women would totally do it because after all some (tiny, tiny) number of women throw their newborns in the trash is not enough. 

    TL; DR: citation needed. 

  • P J Evans

     I think it’s usually figured out somewhere in the third or fourth month – after that, you’d pretty much have to be working at it to not notice (although there are women who apparently have gotten all the way to labor without realizing they were pregnant – or so they claim).

  • P J Evans

     the word knitting goes back much farther- the textile is younger than the word.

  • http://twitter.com/MKlwr Marion Kliewer

     Looking at the Latin text of the Apostle’s Creed, it says “inde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos.” which translates into “the living and the dead,” to the best of my knowledge.

  • P J Evans

     Please read the comments, all of them. Otherwise you’re going to not be following the thread very well.

  • P J Evans

     Most women don’t have abortions for fun. They have them because they can’t afford a child, because they’ve learned the baby has a serious defect (which may kill it before it’s full term), because they’re afraid of what their partners will do to them if they’re pregnant. It’s not ‘oh, well, I don’t feel like having a child’.

  • P J Evans

    Late term abortions have to be done in a hospital, because they’re hazardous to the mother. They’re hardly going to be secret.

  • Lyra

    Your definition of secret clearly differs from mine in that it is more strict. I worked at a couple of domestic violence shelter for some years. Our location was considered a “secret” location even though I knew how to get to work, as did all the other employees there. I don’t see a problem with this use of terms, but perhaps you could enlighten me, allowing me to see what other term we should have been using.

    And I don’t see why you keep bringing up that this wouldn’t happen very often. I have consistently agreed to this. The only thing I have asserted on is A) That not feasible to say that women would NEVER have third trimester abortions for unacceptable reasons. B) It is unreasonable to say that if such abortions occur and are rare, then we shouldn’t have laws to address it. As you said, the number of times that women abandon their babies in trashcans is a tiny, tiny number, but we still have laws against it. The fact that only a tiny, tiny number of women put their children in trashcans is NOT a valid argument against having laws against dumping children in trashcans, so why would it be a valid argument against legal restrictions on abortions, even if I conceded that the number of women who did it is “vanishingly small?”

    To be honest, I feel like you are moving the goal posts. We move from this being a “unicorn” status (and there are no unicorns, as they do not exist) to “vanishingly small.” Those are not the same. Having laws regarding unicorns would be bad because there are NO unicorns. Not a tiny number, not a very small number, not a vanishingly small number. NONE. Zero. But if there were a vanishingly small number of unicorns that periodically popped into view, having laws about them would not be inherently objectionable.

    Maybe I’ll try a non-pregnancy related example. How likely do you think it is that a person is going to die after taking an over-the-counter medication that has been poisoned (as with the Chicago Tylenol murders)? I would hazard that it is so small that it is smaller than “vanishingly small.” Does this mean it is wrong to have tamper resistant packaging for over-the-counter medications? Or we could look at how likely a person is to be shot in school by a deranged classmate. Also vanishingly small. Is it wrong to have procedures in place to respond if this does happen? I argue that the answer is “no.” Perhaps you will come to a different conclusion.

  • Anonymous

    Dumping a newborn in a trashcan is precisely the kind of action a desperate young woman who has been forced to give birth might well resort to. Especially if ~ God knows how, but it happens ~ she has endured pregnancy and childbirth in secret.

  • Lyra

    I’m not sure what I said that would have lead you to believe that I am unaware of the fact that “most women don’t have abortions for fun.”

    Also, I think that for first trimester abortions, “Oh, well, I don’t feel like having a child” is a perfectly viable reason. If a woman came to me and said, “I have an abortion at 8 weeks because I didn’t feel like having a child,” I would be 100% okay with that. In fact, if I got pregnant tomorrow, “I don’t feel like having a child” would probably be a main factor that would motivate me to go out and get an abortion. I DON’T feel like having a child as an unmarried, poor graduate student, so having one seems unreasonable.

  • P J Evans

     You’re the one that’s bringing in everything else, rather than dealing with facts.

    We’re not arguing about the need for women’s shelters to have secret locations. That’s accepted. (That’s also moving the goalposts!)

    You’re arguing that some women wait until the 8th month of pregnancy and then decide they want an abortion. You’re claiming that they can get one in secret. You’re claiming that this happens often enough to be a problem.

    You get to provide evidence, because it looks like the whole problem belongs to your conscience.

    Have you met ‘Alan Eason’ and ‘Frank’? I think you’d get along find with them. They both want to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us, to avoid having their consciences offended.


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