The predatory providence of ‘pro-life’ Richard Mourdock (part 1)

Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns with Indiana U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock. (AP, Charles Dharapak)

U.S. Senate candidate from Indiana Richard Mourdock has joined Todd Akin, Paul Ryan and Tom Smith among prominent white male Republicans saying appalling things about rape.

“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said. “And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Mourdock himself, and a host of religious defenders of his agenda, have tied themselves into knots, offering a series of confused and confusing attempts to defend his comments. See, for example, Mark Galli’s appalling article for Christianity Today, in which Galli offers an incoherent and morally perverse appeal to “the providence of God.”

Via Mark Kleiman, here’s Dominican Fr. Jeremy Paretsky highlighting the irony of this appeal to “providence” by Mourdock and Galli:

To say that anything that happens is by God’s will says everything and nothing: it says no more than that creation as such exists by the will of God, who in a single act incorporates all contingencies. Will is confused with desire, which is a function of the human will. No distinction is made between God’s providential will (whereby he cares for creation) and permissive will (whereby contingencies are incorporated into that care). To say that life begun by rape is God’s will fails to make this distinction. It is equally true by the same loose use of language to say that abortion subsequent to rape is also God’s will.

Mourdock et. al. are appealing to an expansive-but-shallow “all things work together for good” notion to defend restrictions on abortion. They fail to notice that this same appeal to providence also means that every abortion must also be “something that God intended to happen.”

Oh, and as Danielle points out at From Two to One: ” The most common byproducts of rape are depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicide, substance abuse, self-harm, fear, self-blame, sleeplessness, nightmares, triggers, sexual dysfunction, feelings of worthlessness, despair, hopelessness, and even death.” Are these consequences of rape also “gifts from God”?

Since this self-negating notion of everything as “something that God intended to happen” is usually invoked as an attempt to make sense out of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, let’s note that Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, says that Mourdock is “invoking the will of God where it is not appropriate”:

People “should have compassion for the person whose life is messed up by this and not make her an instrument for our idiosyncratic theological commitment,” Kushner said.

“If you believe she has no right to terminate that pregnancy, you’re free to believe that,” Kushner said. “But for you to write your preferences into law and compel another person to mess her life up because of what you believe, I think you’re going too far.”

To make someone else “an instrument for our idiosyncratic theological commitment” is to treat that person as a tool — as a means and not an end. That the person in this case is someone who has already suffered that same treatment at the hands of her attacker only compounds the evil of it.

As Dianna Anderson writes:

Rape victims are not players in your narratives of redemption. People suffering through some of the worst, most traumatic events of their lives aren’t interested in going through more pain just so you can point to it as a redemptive show of God.

… God’s eschatology doesn’t need you to persuade a rape victim to keep their pregnancy. What God does need you for is to understand and support the suffering, no matter what decision they may make. What God does need you to do is shut up and listen. This is not your battle to fight, except insofar as you can come alongside the one who is suffering. This is not yours to explain. This is not your area and God doesn’t need you to persuade a person to suffer more just so They could eventually redeem. It is disrespectful to God to presume to be someone else’s Holy Spirit in a decision that has nothing to do with you.

Many others have written quite a bit of wise and insightful commentary on the predatory providence of Richard Mourdock. Theologians have denounced his theology, politicians have criticized his politics, and people who just generally don’t regard women as sub-human have pondered just WTF exactly is wrong with this man (there’s some overlap between those categories). I’ll have a round-up highlighting some of that in a follow-up to this post.

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Chapter and verse
Bowling with Jesus
The Fall of the House of Graham (ongoing)
The sins of the fathers
  • Gotchaye

    I’ve seen a lot of non-religious, liberal commenters dismissing Mourdock’s comments as “theodicy” in the last week, ignoring the point that one could as easily theodicize an abortion; theodicy doesn’t tell people how to act.

    But Mourdock’s revised position has moved further away from theodicy.  Because “biology isn’t uncontrolled”, all pregnancies are literally miraculous.  His new position is that God notices a rape going on, is sad about this, and thinks “Imma just leave this here”.  To make up for it, maybe.  It’s not clear if Mourdock would have the balls to reassure a recent rape victim by saying “on the bright side, at least maybe you’ll get pregnant”.

  • Madhabmatics

    When I was living in the Great State of Mississippi during the personhood amendment vote, there were literally flyers that said “If you have been raped and are pregnant, you should thank god for your opportunity to be a mother.”

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

     ….

    Words fail me. How the fuck are these people not stuck dead by lightning bolt?

  • Lori

     

    His new position is that God notices a rape going on, is sad about this,
    and thinks “Imma just leave this here”.  To make up for it, maybe. 
    It’s not clear if Mourdock would have the balls to reassure a recent
    rape victim by saying “on the bright side, at least maybe you’ll get
    pregnant”.   

    I am literally making the sour milk face right now. That is just unbelievably awful and stupid and OMGWTF? There is not enough “What is wrong with you?” in the world to cover that.

  • Magic_Cracker

    …and people who just generally don’t regard women as sub-human have pondered just WTF exactly is wrong with this man…

    In CCD class* I was taught that to regard people as means to your ends was inherently immoral, i.e., it’s a sin to treat people as objects, and that’s how Mourdock, Akin, et al. view women — as objects, means to be used for (what they say are) God’s ends (but oh-so-conveniently serve theirs).

  • Becca Stareyes

     Reminds me of a quote from Terry Pratchett’s character, Granny Weatherwax, who notes that “Sin is treating people like things.  Including yourself.”  The latter added since she was speaking to a priest so caught up in his church’s schisms and doctrinal disputes that he was tearing himself in two.  But it does make me wonder — when you are surrounded by people who insist on treating you as a thing (or a role) rather than a person, how hard is it to assert a desire for you to care for yourself?

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    The sad thing is, I ran across one blogger who used that same Granny Weatherwax quote to make an anti-abortion argument —  “They’re treating the unborn as things!” — while ignoring the whole “women being treated as incubators” thing.

  • Wednesday

    ShifterCat — I can’t find that one, but I saw someone write an entire blog article berating Pratchett for his desire to be able to have an assisted death when he feels the time is right…. using that Granny Weatherwax quote.

    It was breathtakingly ignorant and presumptive.

  • Wingedwyrm

    One of my prime objections to Granny Weatherax was that she would do assisted suicide without the clear consent of the patient or the family.  She would take “is there anything you can do?” as that consent.

    In that case, it’s not assisted suicide, it’s murder under the the thin veil of assisted suicide because Granny Weatherax, despite her objections to other people treating people like things, treats people like things that are perfect tools for the bolstering of her own ego.

    And, even then, beyond the lack of consent, she does have a good internal justification for assisting people in death, because they’re not things.  (She just treats them that way because she wants to feel powerful.)

  • LMM22

    One of my prime objections to Granny Weatherax was that she would do assisted suicide without the clear consent of the patient or the family.  She would take “is there anything you can do?” as that consent.

    It’s really unclear that that doesn’t constitute “clear consent” in context — i.e., that the people speaking weren’t aware that one of the things she *could* do was a mercy killing.

    Pratchett has spoken of this in interviews, and I’ve seen it from other sources — in an era without effective painkillers, mercy killing was commonplace. (Early in his career, he said, he spoke to a Victorian nurse who matter-of-factly told him “we called it, helping people to God.”) It’s really only now — once dying in pain has become less commonplace, or at least easier to cover up — that we’ve been able to medicalize what was once an accepted procedure no one spoke about.

    Absolute ethics, funny enough, are actually really dependent upon technology. It’s a lot easier to moralize when you aren’t facing some of the very real problems that your absolute positions would create in another context. (See also: anti-abortion protesters. If anything, the situation is *better* today: even good Catholic women, from what I’ve been told, typically had abortions if they were exposed to rubella in their first trimester.)

  • Wednesday

     Re: Granny Weatherwax and consent:

    First, Granny Weatherwax living and acting in the real world with be rather different from Granny Weatherwax in Discworld, because the Discworld has magic and Death is a skeletal dude with a scythe who’s really quite fond of humanity.
    Helping someone die sometimes involves showing them where a metaphysical doorway  between life and death lies, and helping them step through it. Under those circumstances, the patient who does not actually want to die is (a) able to clearly articulate or deny consent, and (b) could refuse to step through the damn door. Granny is also very, very good at headology and Borrowing, gifts that I allow her to determine what the patient and the patient’s family actually want. The times when she doesn’t take family wishes into consideration are cases where it’s “choose between your wife and your in-the-process-of-being-born infant child”, which is a horrible choice for someone to have to make.

     Second, Lancre is a completely different social context from what most of us live in. “Is there anything you can do” in our social context tends to mean “is there any experimental or expensive treatment that will help”,  but in Lancre those are not things that exist in their frame of reference. The correct comparison is not with modern times in the real world but with the approximate historical counterpart (someone has done this pretty well in comments already). There are more ways to clearly consent to things than explicit verbal consent.

    Third, she’s not the only witch who does this. Sure, she does it more than Nanny according to the text, but Nanny has done it too. Heck, Tiffany has done it (albeit for a nonhuman being since it was a kid’s book). And after that, the other young witches-in-training confirmed that they’d all heard about it, too, in a definitely magical context — the doorway and the desert of black sand.

    You’re welcome to your reading that Granny murders sick people just because she wants to feel powerful and boost her ego. But I don’t think it’s supported by the text.

    Regardless, the author of the article that I object so strenuously to was clearly not interested in the question of consent, given that Pratchett was articulating his wish to have an assisted death at the time of his choosing under circumstances where he is still able to clearly give consent. For the writer, our bodies and lives belong to the writer’s god first, and ourselves second.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Forgot to elaborate on my asterisk. *I was in CCD in the 80s, before the Catholic hierarchy became so completely obsessed with womenbits that they forgot about the actual women who have the bits.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The problem with his view of providence is that there is an implicit assertion that he knows what God intends, and if he supports policies that limit other’s options for dealing with circumstances, then he is saying that he knows more about what God intends than anyone else.  

    I find that kind of sentiment extremely arrogant   Hell, I would think it sinfully prideful; in assuming to know God’s will better than others, he is placing himself in God’s own role in judgement.  I think he ought to pray long and hard for the humbleness that has been commanded of him.  

  • Jay in Oregon

    If you piece all of these statements together, it forms a rather unsettling picture; it looks like most of these Republican lawmakers simply don’t believe that “legitimate rape” happens all that often. Consider:

    * Tom Smith equates his daughter having sex before marriage with being raped.
    * Roger Rivard says that “some girls rape easy”; taken in context, it’s
    even worse because he thinks that women who have sex that they regret
    later simply lie and say they were raped.
    * Todd Akin thinks that a women who’s raped can’t get pregnant because her body has ways of “shutting that whole thing down.”
    * Paul Ryan says that an exception for abortion in the case of rape is
    “a loophole wide enough to drive a Mack truck through it”.

    They think that women who get pregnant from being raped are just
    dirty lyin’ sluts who accuse nice young men of rape so they can get
    their easy abortions.

  • Dan S.

    I think Ryan described an exception for the woman’s health as the Mack truck-sized loophole,  He *did*, however, co-sponsor the infamous redefining rape bill with Akin, though, so …

  • Jay in Oregon

     I looked it up again, and you are right; the quote I referred to was in regards to an exception for the health of the mother, not in case of rape.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    Sometimes I think these guys are having a contest to see who can make the worst rape comment and get away with it.

  • hidden_urchin

    You know, I think I’ve come across Mourdock’s perspective before.  It’s exactly how Mary is portrayed in the Bible.  God didn’t ask her consent and she accepted the whole situation.  If you take Mary’s story to be that of an ideal woman then why not suggest that real woman feel the same way or be forced to feel the same way?

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    Catholic Doctrine on the matter is that oblique as the conversation between Mary and Gabriel is she did consent and what is more that the Incarnation was conditional not only on her consent but on her unreserved consent.

    Which is one of those interesting snippets of doctrine which like the generally strong and firey nature of many female saints suggest a God far more interested in the personhood of women than the current hierarchy of his church. (From the perspective of a Catholic woman anyway – I would think it looks incoherent to outsiders).

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    One of my first sexual fantasies was that God literally used Gabriel’s body to impregnate Mary, and that Gabriel and Mary fell in love first.

    I think I was a weird kid.

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    I’m not sure why we expect a more compassionate response from fundamentalist followers of a religion worshipping a man who was implanted into his mother’s womb against her will.

  • Risser

    It wasn’t against her will.  She consented.  Of course, it could be statutory…

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    She consented. Of course, it could be statutory…

    Are mortals even capable of consenting to Divine impregnation? Talk about power imbalances…

  • frazer

    True.  But later, when she says what has become known as the Magnificat, Mary seems pretty happy about it.

  • hagsrus

     She was informed after the fact, IIRC – would it have made any difference?

  • BC

    I’ve always read Luke 1:26-38, the angel visitation to Mary, as God’s way of asking permission of Mary before the “visitation of the Holy Spirit.”  Had Mary responded negatively, I think the angel might have said something along the lines of  “My bad.  Forget we ever had this conversation” and gone to some other virgin.  I never thought that Jesus was “implanted into his mother’s womb against her will.”  

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    How do they reconcile that with the whole Immaculate Conception business, which, from my limited understanding, was in effect from before Mary was born herself?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think–I’m not sure, but I think–the deal is that a sinless person would never go contrary to God’s will, on account of going contrary to God’s will is the definition of sin. Which invites the question of what went wrong with Eve, and also the question of whether Mary could meaningfully consent at all.

  • Lunch Meat

    How do they reconcile that with the whole Immaculate Conception business, which, from my limited understanding, was in effect from before Mary was born herself?

    Not all Christians believe in immaculate conception. I, personally, have always believed that Mary chose to accept it of her own will. And for all we know, the angel could have gone to 20 other unmarried women first, who all said no.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    I considered the possibility of others having been approached, but that would mean either there were a bunch of other immaculately conceived women around at the time, and wouldn’t that have interesting implications?, or time travel (or at least communication), which doesn’t seem at all consistent with the behaviour of God and/or Jesus elsewhere.

  • Lori

     

    I considered the possibility of others having been approached, but that
    would mean either there were a bunch of other immaculately conceived
    women around at the time, and wouldn’t that have interesting
    implications?, or time travel (or at least communication), which doesn’t
    seem at all consistent with the behaviour of God and/or Jesus
    elsewhere.  

    Or there was no Immaculate Conception. As Lunch Meat noted, plenty of Christians don’t believe in it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Yes, there was an unstated assumption that I’m referring to the subset of Christians who do believe in Immaculate Conception, largely Roman Catholic as far as I know; I don’t even know if the Orthodox share that.  It doesn’t concern the rest of the Christians.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think that requires a ‘define omniscience’ moment. Maybe God knew Mary would consent to having Jesus if she were approached on the subject, regardless of whether she were suitable to have Jesus, so he made sure she would be suitable? ‘Course then we get into the awkward bit where God knew [insert atrocity] would happen and didn’t take action to prevent it…

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Maybe the Immaculate Conception was God’s Bonus Free Gift Just For Taking Time Out Of Your Busy Day To Listen To His Proposal, like the way that my wife and I got Rita Rudner tickets for listening to a sales pitch for a timeshare in Las Vegas.

  • Kadh2000

    Agh.  Sorry.  No.  God does not plan for the bad stuff that happens in our world to happen.  That’s not in the nature of God that I believe in.  The closest thing I can come to saying that is this: “God does not plan for any of the bad things that happen to us.  He does put them to use to show his good purpose.”  Unfortunately, the human agent screws that up sometimes. 

  • Figs

    What model of God’s power lets Him not be able to stop bad things, but lets him intervene to “put them to use to show his good purpose”?

  • Holden Pattern

    Um, so earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, disease, birth defects?  These are all by your definition either “good things” that god plans, or “bad things” that are accidents that the omnipotent god does not control, but are instead to be used as object lessons in how good he is, which we dumb and sinful humans are incompetent to understand?

    That’s a cruel god, right there.  There’s no definition of “good” that fits that behavior.

  • Risser

    Look, if anti-abortion folks truly believe what they purport to believe, then destroying a feotus conceived from rape is just as much a murder as killing a toddler born of rape. Mourdock’s position is the only logical and moral position if you believe a foetus is just as much a human as a toddler, teen, adult or senior.  Unless you think killing a person whose dad raped their mom is justified.

    So, anytime I hear someone saying they are anti-abortion, except in the case of rape or incest, I hear, “except, I don’t actually believe what I said I believed just a minute ago.”

    Peter

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Yes, making a rape-exception belies the whole “It’s a person from the moment of conception” argument; if a fetus is a person, then allowing abortion only in the case of rape is straight up punishing the child for the father’s sin. Banning abortion except in case of rape VERY CLEARLY requires that you view forced pregnancy as a *punishment* befit women who consent to sex, and don’t care one whit about the life of the fetus, just whether or not the pregnant is “innocent”.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Mourdock’s position is the only logical and moral position if you believe a foetus is just as much a human as a toddler, teen, adult or senior.

    No, it’s not.

    No one is demanding I give over the use of my body to any sick or injured toddler, teen, adult, or senior. I don’t have to donate bone marrow or even blood. It doesn’t matter how human a fetus is or is not — if someone does not want to go through the incredibly difficult, painful, and dangerous work of pregnancy and childbirth, which will change her body forever, in order that someone else may live, forcing her to is no different than forcing anyone else to give of their body and risk their life so that someone else may live.

    The only reason it’s different for pregnancy is because of two things: 1) the idea that women exist to be incubators and 2) the idea that when a man orgasms inside a woman, it’s somehow her fault, and she must be punished for it.

  • wendy

    Except that the toddler isn’t *still* breathing off someone else’s bloodstream, kidneys, thyroid, leaching the calcium from her bones, messing with her blood pressure, maybe causing clots, maybe giving her diabetes, and even in the easiest least complicated case putting her in line for many more hours of extreme pain and skeletal alteration that people looking at her bones a thousand years after her death will be able to recognize. 

    An unwanted pregnancy is a *continuing* assault. 

    By Talmudic law, a pregnancy that poses harm to the pregnant woman doesn’t involve an “innocent” child at all, there’s a pursuer threatening an innocent woman. The proper, righteous course of action is to defend that woman. 

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I suspect that frequently, anti-abortion politicians just say, “Oh, of course there should be exceptions for rape and incest” to try not to appear extremist and unsympathetic.  Rarely, if ever, have I heard any of them explain exactly how those exceptions are actually supposed to work.

  • WalterC

    I think that this is true, and a lot of these politicians are now working to subtly shift the debate so that even these exceptions can be done away with without raising an eyebrow. It used to be that the conservative position was more or less “no abortion except in cases of rape and incest” and the liberal position was more or less “allow abortion in all cases as long as consent is present”. Conservatives have started chipping away at this, first by redefining rape and incest to mean something narrow (“it only counts if he had a gun or a knife or something”), then by simply refusing to permit any exceptions at all, for any reason.

     I think it might be an Overton window thing; the goal is to get it to the point where the debate is now between conservatives who think that abortion should be illegal in all cases and liberals who think that abortions should be still be legal but so heavily-restricted that the only way you can get one is with a signed permission slip from the Pope himself.

  • Jessica_R

    And it wouldn’t be better exactly, but at least it would be slightly more tolerable if I wasn’t 1o0 percent certain this asshole *doesn’t* support things like food stamps, free breakfast programs, afterschool programs, universal healthcare and on. Your rape baby is a precious God gift! But fuck you if you expect any help from anyone else in providing for it! I hope his junk gets attacked by rabid dogs. Asshole.

  • fraser

     After Mississippi proclaimed the fetus a child from the point of conception, two legislators proposed prenatal programs for state prisons because the healthcare there is crap, which means an innocent child is being locked up and malnourished through no fault of it’s own. Surprise! No action taken!

  • EllieMurasaki

    After Mississippi proclaimed the fetus a child from the point of conception, two legislators proposed prenatal programs for state prisons because the healthcare there is crap, which means an innocent child is being locked up and malnourished through no fault of it’s own.

    Those legislators deserve a round of applause at the very least.

    Surprise! No action taken!

    Well of course not. That might result in treating criminal women better than they deserve, or in women committing crime to get better prenatal care. (The fact that afaik it is typically more than nine months between doing the crime and doing the time, probably irrelevant.)

  • LL

    You’d think that people would question a belief (abortion is wrong) that requires them to say repellent things about rape victims. I mean, I’m sure these appalling ideas are not new to the people saying them, so why are they saying them so publicly now? Do they feel the need to establish their anti-abortion bona fides? I doubt it’s a coincidence that these people are seeking a seat they don’t currently hold (ie, they are challengers, not defenders), plus these are U.S. Senate seats they’re trying to get. Are they operating under the “any publicity is good publicity” theory? Or are they trying to signal to their potential anti-abortion constituents, something like, “This is how hardcore anti-abortion I am, I have no problem throwing rape victims under the bus to prove it.” I mean, if you’ll attack a rape victim, there is pretty much no limit on how low you’ll go to accomplish anything else. I’m not saying these people are necessarily smart or savvy, just sayin’, even stupid people know that saying horrible things gets attention. We all learned this when we were about 3 or 4 years old. 

    Or if you want to speculate further, maybe this is part of an overall strategy on the part of the RNC to cement in people’s minds the difference between an “acceptable” abortion (the ones granted magnanimously to rape victims) and all the other, unnecessary ones, the better to make it palatable to place so many restrictions on abortion short of outright ban (waiting periods, those wand-type ultrasounds, etc.) that it may as well be illegal anyway in many states. 

    Without their opposition to abortion and gay people, Republicans really have nothing to offer many of their voters. So they have to squeeze every last bit of political advantage out of them as they can while they can.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    You’d think that people would question a belief (abortion is wrong) that
    requires them to say repellent things about rape victims. I mean, I’m
    sure these appalling ideas are not new to the people saying them, so why
    are they saying them so publicly now?

    The thing is, you *don’t have to say these repellent things* to hold that view. You can say “Look, rape and pregnancies resulting from rape are horrible, and rapists must be punished, but it doesn’t change the fact that embryos must be protected. Sorry.” 

    But they *choose* not to go that way. They choose to say “If she gets pregnant, it’s not really rape,” or “God wanted her to get pregnant so he divinely inspired the rapist”.

    Why, it’s almost as if it’s got nothing to do with saving TEH BAYBEEZ and everything to do with hurting women.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The thing is, you *don’t have to say these repellent things* to hold that view. You can say “Look, rape and pregnancies resulting from rape are horrible, and rapists must be punished, but it doesn’t change the fact that embryos must be protected. Sorry.”

    Some of them do. The particular person I’m thinking of is also one of the rare birds who opposes the death penalty, so she is at least consistent in her beliefs, if unwilling to think through the effects of opposing legal abortion.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Nifty. I always figured such people must have existed, but found it troubling that I never managed to find one.

  • LL

    Yeah, I guess I could have been more specific. I know that not everybody who opposes abortion is a terrible person who says terrible things about victims of rape. I just thought everybody would assume I was talking about those particular people (the terrible ones), since that’s who Fred was discussing.

    And like I said, when politicians do it, I don’t think it really has anything to do with babies or hurting women (in that I don’t think they give a shit about either one of those), I think they just want power. If tossing rape victims under the proverbial bus is what it takes to do it, they don’t seem to be shrinking from that idea, but rather, embracing it. Because rape victims are probably a smaller number among their constituents (as far as they know) than anti-abortion voters. I’m pretty sure most of them, if confronted with this issue personally (ie, a wife or daughter becoming pregnant as a result of a sexual assault), they’d find their conviction about how awesome it is changing significantly. 

  • MaryKaye

    The difference between a fetus and a toddler is that someone else can raise the toddler.  No one else can bear the fetus.  We do not require a parent to maim their body to save their toddler’s life:  if your toddler has kidney disease you are not obligated to offer up your kidney.  It might be a virtuous action but requiring it says not only that the toddler’s life is important but that it’s more important than your right to your own body.

    To me personally, the alternative is so much worse that I accept the death of the fetus or toddler as the least evil possibility–compared to taking away control of the parent’s body.  Bear in mind here that pregnancy and childbirth can *kill*. 

    I know a number of people who had to make very hard choices of this kind:  someone likely to die of her pregnancy, someone pregnant due to rape at gunpoint, someone reliant on teratogenic medications to stay alive.  In no case does my intervening in their choice seem right.  I can intervene in mistreatment of a born child because I can (with state aid) take the child *away*.  I cannot take the fetus away.  I cannot shift the pain, damage, and danger off the mother onto anyone else.  Given that, I have no say.  Not even in one of those cases above where it was my mother’s life on the line.  (I would have told her to get the abortion.  I didn’t want to lose my mother at age 12.  But I rightly had no say in the matter.  We got lucky, but even if we hadn’t, it still wasn’t my choice to make.)

  • Mike

    Maim their body? Are you referring to an abortion? Because last I checked abortion causes more medical problems than birth. In fact, a recent convention of prenatal care physicians and experts determined that there is never a case in which abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yes, flushing a teeny ball of cells out of the uterus is absolutely as potentially damaging as shoving something the size of a football out of the vagina.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > a recent convention of prenatal care physicians and experts determined that there is never a case in which abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother

    Citation seriously needed.

  • EllieMurasaki

    In fact, a recent convention of prenatal care physicians and experts determined that there is never a case in which abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother.
    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/11/13/woman-dies-after-being-refused-medically-necessary-abortion/
    Something went wrong with this woman’s pregnancy such that the pregnancy was going to end with a dead fetus no matter what happened. But the fetus wasn’t dead, so doctors refused to remove it. She spent three days in torture because of the dying fetus in her womb.

    This woman is dead, her fetus with her. If she had gotten an abortion when she asked for one, her fetus would be no less dead, and this woman would be alive.

    Her name was Savita Halappanavar. Remember that name. She is dead because of people who think that the life of a fetus, even a fetus with no chance of survival, is worth more than the life of a woman.

    Savita is dead, Mike, because of you. And you, Ginny Bain Allen. And every single person on this planet who thinks abortion should be as unavailable as possible. You killed Savita.

    How do you sleep at night?

  • http://cantleaveunsaid.wordpress.com/ Dave Buerstetta

    Fred, I hope you’ll consider including in that round-up this open letter from a rape survivor: http://marciamountshoop.com/2012/10/25/an-open-letter-to-politicians-about-rape/#comments

    I thought it was courageous and, honestly, made me totally rethink the vitriol I wanted to post in response to Mourdock et al.

  • Wingedwyrm

    In defense of Mourdock, opposing abortion in the case of rape is only consistant with the view that life (read, personhood with all the moral rights thereof) begins at conception.  If, from the moment that sperm meets egg, a person exists with the rights to the use of another person’s organs regardless of that person’s consent or express refusal, then even the horrific nature of how that person started should not eliminate that right.

    Now, I don’t believe that is a right of any person, so even if I were to agree that personhood starts at conception I still wouldn’t believe that the law has any place denying a woman the right to deny that person the use of her organs.  But, the pro-life movement, by saying that abortions should be illegal but make exceptions in the case of rape are actually saying that a person is less of a person because he or she was concieved in rape.  And, I don’t think that’s something any of us believe, pro-life or pro-choice.

    The only reason a rape exception comes into play is because the pro-life movement insists upon demonizing women who would, in any situation other than rape, consider or choose abortion.  “She made her choice when she had sex.”  If they didn’t handwave about decisions having already been made, the idea that there’s an exception to be made for rape would never come up.

    Now, while Mourdock’s position is the only consistant position for him to take, it also illustraits the basic problem of the pro-life position.  The woman’s choice, the woman’s decision of how her own body is used, the legal decision making of one person regarding her person is taken away for the benefit of another person.  It would be similar to making a law stating that every single eligible citizen in America is an organ donor, regardless of personal preference or religion.

  • Carstonio

     http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2011/10/03/only_37_percent_of_women_who_qualify_for_medicaid_funded_abortio.html

    Rape exceptions are there to relieve anti-choice consciences more than
    they are there to make sure women in need get abortions. They
    demonstrate the futility of having outsiders who don’t understand a
    woman’s intimate situation trying to parse whether or not she deserves
    an abortion, whether or not she’s put enough of a good faith effort into
    fitting their model of chaste womanhood to get the abortion she needs.
    Letting women determine for themselves whether or not they need an
    abortion is a far more efficient and fair system; after all, they know
    better than perfect strangers the incredible complexity of their
    personal situations that determine whether or not it’s a good time to
    have a baby.

  • fraser

     I’m familiar with this argument. I don’t buy it. Saying that your rights and options shift in different situations isn’t a radical or revolutionary doctrine: The fact landlords can’t discriminate against tenants based on race, sex, religion, etc. doesn’t make it inconsistent that they can discriminate on lots of other grounds.
    That being said, I agree with the argument that fixating on the rape exception is an error: As someone said downthread, it’s the overall right of a woman to decide on her pregnancy that’s at stake (and important).

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    Agreed.  I’m pro-choice myself, but I don’t think it’s inconsistent to be pro-life and also take the well-being of the mother into consideration.  That’s already what’s happening with exceptions for the mother’s life and health, after all.

    So the argument would then be that the fetus has rights, but that there are circumstances where the harm to the mother from carrying the baby to term  is so serious that it takes precedence over the rights of the fetus, and that pregnancies resulting from rape may be one of those circumstances.  That’s similar to how we treat the rights of the already-born — as important as a right may be, there are almost always some situations where something else takes priority.

    As for why they might say that you could kill a fetus that’s the result of rape but not a toddler that’s the result of rape: with a toddler, there are alternatives that would preserve both the life of the toddler and the health of the mother.  That’s not the case with a fetus.

  • BC

    More like requiring all Americans to give their organs to someone else even if they didn’t want to.  “Okay, we need a kidney and you, BC, are the perfect match.  See you at the hospital tomorrow at 7 am.”

  • Wingedwyrm

    It’s questionable where the exact math of the equivilancy would end up in the “pregnancy=organ/tissue/blood donation”.

    But, when the discussion comes up between me and someone who is pro-life, I do ask them if they think a person’s right to live justifies mandatory post-mortem organ donation expressly because it is so obviously and so dramatically a lesser imposition upon the post-mortem organ donor.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I do ask them if they think a person’s right to live justifies mandatory post-mortem organ donation expressly because it is so obviously and so dramatically a lesser imposition upon the post-mortem organ donor.
    That sounds like it would run right into the same religious beliefs that have kept many people from being cremated on the grounds that they’ll need their bodies intact for the Resurrection.

  • bobnelsonfr

    In defense of Mourdock…

    Not really. That would be the case if Mourdock said something like, “Rape is a terrible thing. Only a very few crimes are worse… but killing babies is one of those. If we agree that a fertilized egg is a person, just like you and me, then we are in the terrible situation of having to protect that fertilized egg with all the same vigor that we would deploy to protect any other person. We must pursue both the mother who seeks an abortion and the abortionist, for murder. All pregnancies that do not go to term must be investigated, and “negligent homicide” charges must be brought against any mmother who has done such irresponsible things as smoke, drink, drive, walk, or anything at all that might eventually jeopardize the new person.”

    Mourdock would have to explain WHY a fertilized egg is a person. He would have to explain why he does nothing to save the millions of fertilized eggs that never implant, and thus “die”.

    If Mourdock were pushed beyond simplistic rhetoric, the multiple moral, theological, scientific, and legal absurdities would be blatant.

  • Carstonio

    I’m at a loss to understand how these vile men are rationalizing their positions. I’ve seem plenty of men focus on cases where men are wrongly accused of rape, and while I condemn the way they treat rape itself as unimportant, I can understand their narrow-mindedness where the issue is all about them. These politicians don’t seem to be in the same group.

  • Victor

    ((( “And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”))) What God are they talking about here?

    Come on Victor! Don’t be so ignorant! Of inter-course, I mean, of course they are talking about U>S usual sinning gods so wake UP and smell the smoke if ya get my drift? :)

    http://www.rebecca-writes.com/rebeccawrites/2012/10/25/thankful-thursday.html?lastPage=true&postSubmitted=true

    http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/2012/10/what-is-truth-3/comment-page-1/#comment-55118

    There’s nothing wrong with ya Victor!

    VERY FUNNY sinner vic! :(

    Peace be with ya

  • fraser

     Not me. I get what she says, but there’s no way not to discuss things like rape exceptions and the like as long as abortion and E/C are controversial. Plus I know some rape victims who have strongly different takes on both sides of the issues.

  • Julian Elson

    I guess the idea is supposed to be something like:

    1. Rapist is a human agent. He makes the moral choice to rape or not to rape the victim. If he chooses to rape, that is evil.

    2. Rapist’s sperm may or may not fertilize the victim’s egg, which may or may not implant. That’s God’s choice, and outside of human moral agency.

    3. Victim is a human agent. She makes the moral choice to abort or not to abort the fetus. If she chooses to abort, that is evil.

    So, the rapist shouldn’t rape, and the victim shouldn’t abort if she was raped and impregnated.

    I just don’t buy the putative “defense of fetal life” motives, though.

    For comparison, I find the commitment that (at least some) Jains have to the whole “life is sacred and must never be harmed” idea fairly credible. They seem to have put a lot of thought into it and how it should affect their practices, and it goes pretty far into their cosmological worldview. Maybe they’re not always 100% consistent, but who is? (I don’t think comparing real people to some unattainable ideal of perfect consistency is necessarily fair, but is it unfair to compare them to other real people?)

    I don’t really know how most Jains view abortion (I think they oppose abortion, but I don’t know whether many of them support anti-abortion legislation), but I’d say that it’d be credible if they opposed it on anti-violence grounds. (Although I also wouldn’t be surprised if sexism played a role too, since many Jains do embrace a bizarre form of sexism which claims that women must reincarnate as men to achieve liberation, since renouncing everything including clothing is necessary for liberation, and women can’t decently go about naked…)

    I just just don’t trust the motives of Christians of the Mourdock sort. They don’t seem to have any sort of comprehensive “ahimsa”/”Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben”/whatever type view. They have the common-sense ethical view that being a violent asshole who stabs people to steal their money is bad, shared by basically everyone. Then they oppose abortion. That’s it. There’s no overall worldview opposed to the destruction of life like that of, say, Albert Schweitzer or the Jains. They don’t embrace any sort of positive (free prenatal care for all!) or negative (avoid war at all costs!) commitment to life other than outlawing abortion.

    Then there’s the fact that the whole anti-abortion thing is so correlated with opposition to provision of contraception, etc.

    I guess either they’re sexists who want to strip women of freedom, or they’re scatterbrained and haphazard thinkers who sincerely adopt some kind of ahimsa stance with regard to abortion, but don’t realize that it has any implications beyond that. Either way, I don’t think they’re credible, either because their motives are awful, or because they just don’t think with enough clarity and consistency to be credible. As Wingedwyrm says, no-exceptions anti-abortionists may be more consistent than rape-exception anti-abortionists; I still don’t think they’re consistent enough for me to regard them as arguing with both good faith and intellectual diligence.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I guess either they’re sexists who want to strip women of freedom, or they’re scatterbrained and haphazard thinkers who sincerely adopt some kind of ahimsa stance with regard to abortion, but don’t realize that it has any implications beyond that.

    Those two options are not mutually exclusive.  Actually, I tend to think that they are rather complimentary.  

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

    Compliment: To praise.

    Complement: Connotes ‘together’.

    TYVM.

  • fraser

    That was in response to Dave’s comment.

  • CoolHandLNC

    “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said. “And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

    I’m sure Mourdock is well-intentioned, but what I hear is “I … myself … I … I”. It isn’t even necessary to parse the theological implications, it just never even occurs to him that isn’t his decision to make because he doesn’t have to bear (literally) the consequences. That just makes it sanctimonious blather. Now if someone wants to make this argument credibly, maybe we could have a registry for people willing to accept the consequences. Then we could have a law where rape is not an exception as long as there is someone available on the registry. They would get a phone call in the middle of the night informing them that they were now on the hook for a rape victim’s pregnancy. They would have to pay for her prenatal care and delivery, compensate her for lost wages, then they would have to take and love that wonderful, beautiful gift from God and raise him or her to adulthood as their own child. Now that would mean something. Pick up the cross or shut up! But even that would be consensual, so it wouldn’t be quite like rape. So lets make it a law that anyone could have a pregnancy dumped on them without warning. I wonder what chance that would have of passing?

  • Carstonio

    Saddening to know that the idea of controlling females under the rationalization that males cannot control themselves is universal:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/10/26/rape_in_india_a_sexual_assault_spree_in_haryana_brings_out_the_crazy_in.html

    I have an idea that may seem truly bizarre – how about parents simply teach their sons that they alone are responsible for their behavior, that females don’t exist simply for male pleasure, and that males will be held accountable when they commit rape? Crazy, huh?

  • crystal

    Would the Dominican mentioned by Fr. Albert Paretsky?  …  http://www.dspt.edu/197810611143931273/blank/browse.asp?a=383&BMDRN=2000&BCOB=0&c=55418

  • MaryKaye

    While I would not make this argument, I do think you could make a coherent argument that you were weighing harm to both parties and deciding that the harm involved in demanding that a woman bear a child she doesn’t want to bear is lower than the harm of aborting that child, but the harm involved in demanding that a woman bear a child she doesn’t want to bear *when she has just been raped* is higher, and is too high.

    I have to say, though, this is not at all what I’m hearing in the US.  For one thing, it would invite us to consider whether there are other circumstances where the harm to the woman outweighs the harm to the fetus, and that is not a discussion abortion opponents seem to want to have.

    When I was getting ready to adopt an older child, I read a story in one of my adoption-prep books that made a painful impression on me.  An infertile couple adopted an older child with reactive attachment disorder (a mental illness stemming from early attachment problems–lack of parenting–and potentially leading to very serious behavioral issues).  Then they found out that the adoptive mother was pregnant.  They had wanted a child very much, but having a baby with their current adopted child around seemed disastrous.  They decided to keep the baby.  Their older child attempted to kill the baby and had to be institutionalized, very possibly for life.

    Some years after reading that story I was myself the adoptive parent of a child with reactive attachment disorder–gods grant, not as severe as in that story.  And one month I missed my period.

    I had always put myself in the category of “firmly pro-choice but would not have an abortion.”  I was pretty confident I would not have an abortion if raped, though of course one never knows in advance.  But I had never considered the situation where having a baby might be a catastrophe for my older child.  (Adoption is not a panacea.  Consider how an insecurely-attached child will react to seeing his parents *send a baby away*.  Bear in mind that in practice, if kids with RAD don’t resolve it to some extent while they are still kids, they don’t ever resolve it, and that means, with high probability, prison or institutionalization for life.)

    I actually thanked the gods, sincerely, when I found out that I wasn’t pregnant, I just had a bleeding disorder that would need intensive treatment.  It came somewhat close to killing me and it was *still* better than being pregnant would have been.

    I think I would have had an abortion.  I didn’t know there were circumstances that would lead me to do that, but it seems there were.

    How the hell is anyone else going to know whether I should or shouldn’t?  Who knows my child better than I do?  Who can forsee what the household would have been like better than I could?  How are you going to make an interventionist law about this that would be even slightly just?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    While I would not make this argument, I do think you could make a
    coherent argument that you were weighing harm to both parties and
    deciding that the harm involved in demanding that a woman bear a child
    she doesn’t want to bear is lower than the harm of aborting that child,
    but the harm involved in demanding that a woman bear a child she doesn’t
    want to bear *when she has just been raped* is higher, and is too high.

    Yeah, but you have to give up “Fetuses is definately peoples” argument and instead build a very complex argument around a concept like “Abortion is morally dicey and there is a risk of it taking innocent life, so we must perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine in which cases the moral hazard of abortion outweighs the moral hazard of forced pregnancy.” And I think that (not in so many words) this is a pretty mainstream position among people who self-identify both as pro-life AND pro-choice (Truefax; I know people who consider themselves pro-choice but lament that there’s no practical way to make a distinction between “the condom broke” and “she chose of her own free will and uncoerced not to use any sort of birth control” and allow the former but not the later) , with their differences coming down to the details of that cost-benefit analysis.

    I’m all for complicated solutions to complicated problems, but I think more than a little revulsion at the concept of “Let’s do a cost-benefit analysis to see if you deserve to be put through the ordeal of an unwilling forced birth,” is called for. And when you start getting into doing that kind of analysis, well, how are you going to boil that down to actionable rules? Do we want to have an exclusion for statutory rape (If we’re taking “the woman was traumatized” as the morally distinguishing factor)? What other cases change the moral calculus? What about if the woman’s life isn’t in danger but her future fertility is? What if her life is at risk but it’s a really *small* risk (Not that there’s such a thing as a risk-free pregnancy, but, say, what if she’s got a progressive disease where there’s a 90% chance of survival if it’s treated immediately with teratogenic drugs, but an 80% chance of survival if the teratogenic drugs are withheld for nine months)? 

    And who gets to make this decision? A panel of doctors? Popular vote (by people who, as we have recently established, hold such profound misconceptions about the female anatomy that it’s amazing they can even *find* the vagina)? Consent from a man?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I would just like to note that today’s upstate paper and yesterday’s downstate paper have appeared in the break room, and while today’s upstate paper has a letter to the editor headlined ‘Unwanted pregnancy often woman’s fault’, yesterday’s downstate paper has a letter to the editor headlined ‘Pro-birth is not pro-life’.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Truefax; I know people who consider themselves pro-choice but lament that there’s no practical way to make a distinction between “the condom broke” and “she chose of her own free will and uncoerced not to use any sort of birth control” and allow the former but not the later

    Speaking of people not having thought through the implications of their positions… if a woman really is just totally selfish and irresponsible, isn’t she the last person we should want to be having a child?

  • Victor

    After reading all of these comments, it reminds me of how much Mom must have Loved me and how lucky I am to have received that Love. She would tell me about the death of my older brother who died at six month of pneumonia which they now called C.F. and I thank science for having  learned that I’m a carrier after one of our grand son was born with C.F because I was the next child born after my brother died. Mom in her old age would tell me of how she ruptured herself cutting wood when there was ice on the handle while dad was at work and apparently my sister said that she saw the rupture. She also said that dad was paid $2.oo a month back then and…….
     
    What’s your point Victor cause “I” have heard “IT” all before countless times butt please don’t tell U>S (usual sinners) that C.F. stands for “Christ First” just because you’ve just received “His Body and Blood” a few hour ago cause we Fred’s gods don’t want to hear about “IT”.

    SORRY MOM!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6B3CJSj483g

    Peace

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    For the record, if God should tell you that someone being raped was his will, you should tell God that he fucked up big and it’s time to make amends starting with helping the victim.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Of course, I didn’t hit refresh before posting that, and thus didn’t notice that more than a page of conversation had taken place.

  • Otrame

    Terry Pratchett says evil is when you treat people like things.  

  • renniejoy

    This wasn’t posted on this thread – MASSIVE trigger warnings – A Fan Letter to Certain Conservative Politicians[from a fictional rapist], by John Scalzi

  • renniejoy

    Shoot-messed up the tags A Fan Letter to Certain Conservative Politicians [from a fictional rapist], by John Scalzi.

    Trigger warnings for rape, reproductive coercion

  • Mary

    What is getting lost in all this controversy is that the bible does not condemn abortion. In fact in the OT if a woman was pregnant and it was suspected that the child was not her husband’s, she could be forced to drink a potion to induce a miscarriage. So I guess that must mean that God approves of abortion, AS LONG AS IT ISN’T THE WOMAN’S CHOICE.

    Don’t these politicians have better things to do like say, I dunno, fix the economy???

  • AnonymousSam

    I had a friend who went to jail for trying to kill himself. No idea what the charges were, just that he spent a week there before being transferred to a mental hospital for another week, and then he was home. He doesn’t talk about it.

    There’s literally no aspect of our lives that at least one highly influential person in power doesn’t want to control.

  • Lori

    I had a friend who went to jail for trying to kill himself. No idea what the charges were  

    Depending on when & where it happened it’s possible that the charge was attempting to commit suicide. Suicide was still illegal in some states as recently as the 1980s & 90s. Regardless of the charge he virtually certainly spent his week in jail on suicide watch and it’s likely that he was there because commitment procedures in your jurisdiction took longer than folks felt it was safe to leave him not locked up under observation.

    That’s a sad commentary on our mental health system, but I saw similar things when I was doing social work. There’s a debate to be had about when it’s appropriate to allow a person to choose suicide, but in your friends case I strongly suspect the issue was less about control than it was about trying to save his life. The silver lining is that, if I understood you correctly, he’s still alive to not talk about it.

  • AnonymousSam

    Yes, he’s still about. Whether or not this is a net positive is a larger question than I cam capable of objectively debating. He hasn’t done well with his life, but neither am I in a position to say what he’s done (fathered two children he will never be in a position to help raise) constitutes harm that should have been done without.

  • Lori

    I totally understand. It’s rare indeed to be in a position to make a confident judgement about the net value of another person’s life and it’s generally best not to try. I am sorry that things haven’t gone well for him.

  • AnonymousSam

    Bad parenting. I can confidently blame the way he is today on that because his parents went out of their way to teach him, his brother and his sister terrible ways to behave, which carried through into their adult lives.

    Small example: They taught each of them to spy on the others and then began rewarding them based on what things they could report the others were doing. Said things included anything from “hanging out with the wrong friends” to “looking at porn” to “eating too many sweets.”

  • Lori

    Oh FSM. Stories like that are why I had to get out of social work. When you find yourself crying in the car while driving home and you realize that that’s become a pretty routine thing for you, you’re in the wrong profession.

    I’ve said it before and I stand by it—-we as a society need to get rid of the assumption that “of course” the vast majority of people will have kids. The world is brimming over with people who should not be in charge of the rearing of small humans (or any other vulnerable creature).

  • bobnelsonfr

    Has anyone heard a solid case (either a factual / scientific basis and then coherent logic, or a reasonably indisputable scriptural text) justifying the “personhood at fertilization” position?

    I have never seen either.

    All that I have seen is affirmation, without basis. Circular reasoning: personhood begins at fertilization because a fertilized egg is a person… and a fertilized egg is a person because personhood begins at fertilization.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Has anyone heard a solid case (either a factual / scientific basis and
    then coherent logic, or a reasonably indisputable scriptural text)
    justifying the “personhood at fertilization” position?

    Well, scripture is out of the question. The human ovum was only discovered in 1827. The Book of Mormon was already being written at the time (I suppose it might have made it into one of the later chapters). 1827 is pretty recent in the history of religion — you’re pretty much restricted to neopaganism, modern occult, Raeleanism, Rastafarianism, Scientology and Bahá’í.

  • bobnelsonfr

    I’m afraid that you are making the grievous error known as “coherence”. Bible literalists are never bothered by that!

    To be fair… the basics of gestation have been known for millennia. Miscarriages caused people to see all stages of development, larger than microscopic. Nor was there any doubt about the mechanism of fertilization. ;-)

    It was no big deal to imagine the man’s seed, with or without a contribution from the woman, growing in the womb.

    But of course… gestation has nothing to do with “personhood”. The Hebrews required less blood-gold for an unborn baby than for a born one. A fetus was important… but less than a born child. I understand this difference as being “before and after” the arrival of the soul.

    But I am still waiting to see a convincing Biblical text that indicates anything other than “at birth”!

  • EllieMurasaki

    I thought it was at the first breath. Not quite the same thing.

  • bobnelsonfr

    You’re right: that IS a significant distinction. “First breath” would eliminate stillborn.

    I’m afraid I don’t have the texts at hand, but I’m willing to bet that they fit “first breath” as well as “at birth”.

  • bobnelsonfr

    Also… searching for coherence…

    Many fundamentalists believe that one must be baptized to be saved… at the same time that they believe that personhood begins at conception.

    Are all those zygotes that never implant condemned to Hell for all eternity?


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