Hobby Lobby takes human biology to court, loses

The Hobby Lobby retail chain continues its court battle to avoid having to provide health insurance for female employees. This, the corporation says, is a matter of corporate religious liberty. Corporations are people, my friend, and corporations have the right to worship their corporate deities as they see fit.

“All they’re asking for is a narrow exemption from the law that says they don’t have to provide drugs they believe cause abortions,” Hobby Lobby attorney Kyle Duncan, a general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told CNN affiliate KFOR in November. “Our basic point is the government can’t put a corporation in the position of choosing between its faith and following the law.”

This is a weird claim of religious liberty. Duncan carefully says that the company should be exempt from covering medical care “they believe” causes abortion.

Duncan is careful to say that because he is aware that the drugs in question do not, in fact, cause abortion. Emergency contraception is just exactly  that — contraception. It does not end or interfere with an existing pregnancy.

It doesn’t matter if the evangelical gazillionaire owners of Hobby Lobby “believe” that emergency contraception causes abortions. It does not do that.

Nor does it matter if this belief is passionately sincere and sincerely passionate. Sincerity and passion won’t make it any less incorrect.

So Hobby Lobby’s legal claim is that a company has a “religious liberty” right to avoid anything they say causes abortion even if it does nothing of the sort.

If Hobby Lobby were to be granted such an exemption, then, what would prevent any other corporation from claiming that it believes minimum wage laws, OSHA regulations, nuclear safety rules and fire codes are also “abortifacient”?

What Hobby Lobby is seeking isn’t merely some legal permission to be exempt from providing health insurance. The corporation is seeking the “religious liberty” to redefine reality and to rewrite the laws of medicine, human anatomy, biology and chemistry.

I don’t think even the Supreme Court of the United States has the jurisdiction to allow them to do that. I suppose the justices could join Hobby Lobby in pretending that emergency contraception is not contraception, but even a unanimous 9-0 ruling declaring it to have properties it does not, in fact, actually have would not alter the fact that this nonsense about “abortion pills” remains just that: nonsense.

As Ari Kohen writes:

The bottom line is this: If you own a company and don’t understand how women’s bodies work, you might end up having to pay a million dollars a day to remain faithful to your understanding of what contraception means.

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  • Vass

    to rewrite the laws of medicine, human anatomy, biology and chemistry.

    …astronomy, geology… oh wait, the Christian Right is already onto those.

  • http://www.antichristaliens.com/ Dr. Lock Ledger

    These are the attitudes that keep people buying high-capacity magazines. People fear forced conversion. Which is what this is.

  • EdinburghEye

    I wrote a blog post earlier in the year discovering that British pharmacists are allowed as a matter of conscience  by their regulatory body to pretend they believe that contraception is an “abortifacient”.  I don’t understand why the General Pharmaceutical Council isn’t moving to have these unfit pharmacists *struck off*, not publishing guidelines to say they have to be allowed to enforce their anti-scientific religious views at work.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

     Could they at least publish a list of names and places of work so I can avoid going to a pharmacist WHO DOESN’T KNOW HOW DRUGS WORK?

  • Becca Stareyes

    So, if Hobby Lobby said they refused to cover antiretroviral drugs because they believed that HIV infections were the result of sinful behavior… no wait, that still involves sex, so someone might take it seriously.  

    If Hobby Lobby said that they believed cancer was caused by sinful behavior, and therefore they weren’t covering chemotherapy, they would be shamed so fast they wouldn’t know what hit them.  

  • Mark Z.

    If Hobby Lobby said that they believed cancer was caused by sinful
    behavior, and therefore they weren’t covering chemotherapy, they would
    be shamed so fast they wouldn’t know what hit them. 

    There ARE sexually transmitted cancers: cervical cancer, some kinds of mouth cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma if you want to count that.

    And a lot of chemotherapy drugs are abortifacients, because they kill or otherwise interfere with rapidly dividing cells. (Methotrexate has been used for abortion for decades–it has enough on-label uses that it can be obtained without too much scrutiny.) So yes, if a woman is undergoing cancer chemotherapy, and has sex with her husband, and fertilization occurs, the chemo drugs will likely kill the embryo or prevent it from implanting. Let’s hope Hobby Lobby never finds out about that.

  • AnonymousSam

    What makes this scary is that it’s already happening elsewhere. There was a medical case just a few months ago about a woman who was denied chemotherapy for her advanced leukemia because she was pregnant.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I find myself wondering what her prognosis was without the chemo, and what the chemo-denying lot expect would happen to the baby if (as may not be true with this particular case but is certainly true of some similar cases) the cancer kills the pregnant person before the fetus is viable.

  • AnonymousSam

    I can answer that.

    Prognosis without chemo: Death within six weeks
    Pregnancy: Somewhere in the four month range-ish, don’t recall
    Odds of successfully delivery without chemo: 0.00%

    Actual outcome: Patient, doctors and lawyers eventually concluded that chemo could and should be tried after four weeks. Patient was too far gone by that time and died during treatment.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If I were that woman’s family, I would be suing the shit out of the people responsible for denying the chemo. It wouldn’t bring her back, but it would make them hurt, and the winnings could be used to help other people in the same situation. I would also be inquiring about criminal charges that could be brought against those people.

  • AnonymousSam

    If it were happening in the United States, I would agree with you 100%. Unfortunately, it happened in a country where abortion is completely illegal, so the doctors were really just trying to err on the side of the law. They were arguing for the chemo; the law enforcement warned them that it would lead to prosecution, the lawyers tried to find wiggle room. Ultimately it was concluded that the fetus would be lost regardless, but it took too damned long to make that decision. By the time she got the chemo, it was too late to be of any help.

  • banancat

    So pro-life, aren’t they? That shows exactly how much they care about life.

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

    Well of course. Women are not people, we are incubators. And when we are pregnant, our bodies belong to fetuses, not to ourselves one whit.

  • Demonhype

     This is a frighteningly common view across the board.  I got in an argument with  a co-worker once, not even about  abortion but about wanted pregnancies!  She was under the impression that if a woman gets pregnant it is not her place to determine her care–that any treatment or test the doctor or the insurance company decree should be forcibly performed on her, without explanation or consent.  Just shut up, strip down, get on the gurney, get those legs in the air, and keep your irrelevant mouth shut, woman, or we’ll ball-gag you.  Where did you get the uppity idea that you should have some informed consent about what needles and probes are being shoved into your flesh, incubator?  Surely the insurance company has your best interests of health at heart!  Surely they wouldn’t choose to do something that has, say, a 5-10% chance of spontaneous abortion just to test for something that has less than a 1-2% chance of occurring, because the risk of them having to cover a disabled child is more important to their bottom line than the chance of you losing a wanted pregnancy.  Insurance companies (and the doctors who, sometimes, are their devoted servants) always have your best interests in mind and never consider their own selfish bottom-line more important than you!

    And then she said, with a smug tone, “good luck getting any insurance with that attitude, they’ll never cover you.”  Translation–if you keep being uppity and actually expecting to be informed about medical practices and have any veto power or control at all, and pretending your body has anything to do with you  at all and that you’re more than just a warm incubation meat, then you’d better be prepared to pay out-of-pocket for everything and go broke, you uppity stupid feminist”.  I never wanted to punch anyone more than I did that moment.

  • Lori

    There are few people more enraging than authoritarian followers.

  • Lorehead

    I note in passing that Hobby Lobby is neither passionately sincere or sincerely passionate.  They offered this coverage without any qualms until they found out that President Obama wanted to make them do it.

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

    What I find interesting is how many different types of organizations are actually religious groups. Hospitals and universities are affiliated with churches — I get that already. But apparently fast food restaurants and arts and crafts storestoo? My belief is, if even one of these random businesses manages to win an exemption from the health insurance mandate like this, every business will suddenly claim to be a religion for the sole purpose of evading federal regulations. Gas stations, casinos, dental offices, electricians, mechanics, and chain retail outlets will all be consecrated to the Lord. 

  • Matthias

    Well calling emergency contraception an abortifactient makes sense if you believe (as the religious right constantly claims to do) that life beginns at conception. Because if the fertilised zygote is already a fully human being than a drug that prevents its implantation into the Uterus is an abortifacient.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Except that Plan B doesn’t prevent implantation.

    It delays ovulation so that conception never happens. 

    There were studies done that show that overly huge amounts of estrogen can cause failure to implant in mice, so that warning was stuck on Plan B while they studied it in human vagina owners. But no proof has been found that it happens in human women. 

  • The_L1985

    This.  RU-486 is an abortifacient.  Plan B is not.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    Because if the fertilised zygote is already a fully human being than a
    drug that prevents its implantation into the Uterus is an abortifacient

    Except for the fact that emergency contraception doesn’t do that. It merely prevents ovulation. If the woman has already ovulated, she’s basically dealing with normal levels of pregnancy risk.

    This is why emergency contraception is only about 80% effective. That’s a hell of a lot better than zero, but not high enough to use as anything but a last resort.

  • Matthias

    In the book contraceptive technolgy (20th edition 2011)  Trussell et al claim in the chapter “emergency contraception” (p113-145) on page 121 that
     “Emergency insertion of a copper IUC is significantly more effective than
    the use of ECPs, reducing the risk of pregnancy following unprotected
    intercourse by more than 99%.This very high level of
    effectiveness implies that emergency insertion of a copper IUC must
    prevent some pregnancies after fertilization.”

    And further:
    “To make an informed choice, women must know that ECPs—like the birth control pill, patch, ring, shot, and implant, and even like breastfeeding—prevent
    pregnancy primarily by delaying or inhibiting ovulation and inhibiting
    fertilization, but may at times inhibit implantation of a fertilized egg
    in the endometrium. ”

    However they also note that:
    “Pregnancy begins with implantation according to medical authorities such as the US FDA, the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).”So as for any normal person which does not view a zygote as fully human emergency contraception does not count as an abortifacient. However most of the relgious right does not count as a normal person…

  • fraser

     If it did on rare occasions prevent implantation that would be closer to a miscarriage than an abortion–a side effect, not a deliberate effort.
    And if they can refuse to offer it because of a slight speculative risk, what about medicines that can cause miscarriage as a side effect. I’ll bet good money that’s on the way.

  • Jake

     It is a myth that EC prevents implantation. The only mechanism for EC for which there is evidence is that it prevents ovulation, just like regular birth control pills. There is some theory that says that EC might cause cervical mucus to thicken, preventing conception after ovulation, and might cause the uterine lining to be thinner, preventing implantation after conception, but there is no evidence that those things actually happen.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Well calling emergency contraception an abortifactient makes sense if
    you believe (as the religious right constantly claims to do) that life
    beginns at conception. Because if the fertilised zygote is already a
    fully human being than a drug that prevents its implantation into the
    Uterus is an abortifacient.

    Yes, except that everything you jst said is wrong. Emergency contraception does not prevent implantation. Emergency contraception does not work if there is already a fertilized zygote.

    Calling emergency contraception an abortifacient only makes sense if you believe life begins at ejaculation.

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

    Calling emergency contraception an abortifacient only makes sense if you believe life begins at ejaculation.

    Which is only a marginally less coherent position than “life begins at conception”, really. Give it time.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Sure. I’ve long held that “Life begins at ejaculation” is the position anti-choice hard-liners hold, it’s just that the idea is so ridiculous that they need to wrap it in a layer of cognitive dissonance to keep themselves from noticing how ludicrous their position is.

    (The hint is that it makes conception “about” the man — conception happens when the *man* makes it happen.)

    (I will elaborate that what they believe is something more along the lines of “Conception, if it happens, happens at the moment of ejaculation, and I refuse to listen to those so-called ‘medical experts’ who say otherwise” — they obviously don’t believe that life begins at an ejaculation that doesn’t lead to pregnancy. I think of it as being like when you buy insurance. Your insurance doesn’t happen until they get the check, but once they get the check, your insurance is back-dated to one minute past midnight the day after you got the policy. If conception happens, life is back-dated to the moment dad came.)

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    Talk to a hardcore anti-choicer or MRA (there’s a lot of overlap) and they will pretty much balls-out claim that the dude shooting his load constitutes the vast majority of the work involved in making a baby, and that therefore men should have a say in whether or not “their” fetus can be aborted, men should automatically get custody, etc.

    You can try to point out to them that carrying a fetus to term for nine months – that’s nine months of morning sickness, back pain, having various probes rammed up your reproductive system, plus a million other things that aren’t occurring to me because I don’t have a fuckin’ uterus – seems like a bit more work than just ejaculating, but it seems to go right over their heads. It’s really surreal.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Talk to a hardcore anti-choicer or MRA (there’s a lot of overlap) and they will pretty much balls-out claim that the dude shooting his load constitutes the vast majority of the work involved in making a baby, and that therefore men should have a say in whether or not “their” fetus can be aborted, men should automatically get custody, etc.

    I would be more than happy to restrain such men in a submission hold while a lady of their acquaintance goes to town on them with the Chair Leg of Truth.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Talk to a hardcore anti-choicer or MRA (there’s a lot of overlap) and they will pretty much balls-out claim that the dude shooting his load constitutes the vast majority of the work involved in making a baby, and that therefore men should have a say in whether or not “their” fetus can be aborted, men should automatically get custody, etc.

    I would be more than happy to restrain such men in a submission hold while a lady of their acquaintance goes to town on them with the Chair Leg of Truth.

  • Donalbain

     I would be more than happy to restrain such men in a submission hold
    while a lady of their acquaintance goes to town on them with the Chair Leg of Truth.

    Yes,yes, we get the fucking picture.. you are a super brave hero.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Yes,yes, we get the fucking picture.. you are a super brave hero.

    Well, my girlfriend says she prefers me in the blue cape rather than the red one, but only for special occasions.  

    More seriously though, what else is going to correct such men’s misbehavior other than harsh disciplining?  

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    No, of course, you’re completely right. Violence is the only thing that solves anything and all those people who say otherwise are morons. Your violent fantasies in the absence of actual action are exactly what oppressed people need. Thanks.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

     Violence isn’t discipline.

  • Dan Audy

    More seriously though, what else is going to correct such men’s misbehavior other than harsh disciplining?

    Therapy.  Most MRA’s that I’ve encountered are projecting their anger at one or two particular women onto the gender as a whole.  Beyond that having people they care about encounter those situations, have people they respect show them how harmful their attitudes are, or even just sustained public disdain for them and those they choose to associate with.

    Violence is a virtually useless response to awful and hateful speech.  Beyond the fact that you are the one who would be punished or imprisoned (and rightfully so) it is largely ineffective.  I don’t know about you but I got bullied a lot in school for being weird or saying things people didn’t like and getting beaten up never made me ‘think right’ but rather sharpened my anger and reinforced that belief or behaviour, even when that behaviour or belief was actually bad.  The ‘best’ you can hope for is that you will cause someone to hide their anger inside out of fear of being further beaten but they still often act out in other ways, sometimes subtle and sometimes overt but socially acceptable.  It is the very core concept of the cycle of abuse and you think that starting it is worth making someone stop saying something stupid that makes you angry?

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

    More seriously though, what else is going to correct such men’s misbehavior other than harsh disciplining? 

    The thing is, in our society (Canada and the USA do shar e several common cultural heritages so I’ll use this shorthand), once the target of interest gets out of childhood and into teenagerhood and adulthood it’s usually accepted that one tries to use wisdom, logic, and other forms of verbal persuasion to get that person to stop behaving badly.

    The use of force should be a final, not first, resort and because you keep seeming to treat it as a first and not a last resort is what gets some folks here a mite concerned about you.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    What the hell, Fearless?

    Anyways, I don’t think ‘harsh disciplining’ will correct their misbehavior anyways.  It’ll just make them angrier.

  • smrnda

     Plus that being pregnant and giving birth is pretty risky, and has been the cause of death of many women in the past, and still is in less developed countries. They’re equating demanding that a guy pay money is just as big of a deal?

  • P J Evans

    Pregnancy is riskier than abortion even in developed countries.
    (The main reason why life expectancies are longer in developed countries is that infant mortality is much lower.)

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

    Yeah, that’s consistent with the stuff that gets said.

    It makes a lot more sense if I assume a magic model than a biological one.
    Which is also consistent with a lot of stuff that gets said.

    I suppose I should be grateful that we’ve come as far from a magic model as we have, collectively.

  • P J Evans

     There’s a bit of  ‘every sperm is sacred’ in their views, isn’t there?
    I wish they’d be required to take sex-education classes. And pass the tests with a perfect score.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    There’s a bit of  ‘every sperm is sacred’ in their views, isn’t there?
    I wish they’d be required to take sex-education classes. And pass the tests with a perfect score.

    The moment you make them take objective and comprehensive sex education based on the best medical knowledge available is the moment you hear them start screeching about public schools being Godless liberal indoctrination centers.  

  • stardreamer42

    This is where WE need to be using their “teach the controversy” line of argument.

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

     Personally, I prefer to stick with my “teach the facts” line of argument. It works pretty well in this case, too.

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

    …is the moment you hear them start screeching about public schools being Godless liberal indoctrination centers.

    “Start”??

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon
    …is the moment you hear them start screeching about public schools being Godless liberal indoctrination centers.

    “Start”??

    Screech louder, anyway.  

    Actually, you know what?  Let them screech!  Let them screech so loud no one can stand to listen to them any more and collectively yells at them to just shut up already, they already lost any moral authority on this issue, sheesh.  

  • Tricksterson

    I’m convinced that not only do they actually believe that but on some level that it begins with insertion.

  • stardreamer42

     Every sperm is sacred!

  • Phwise

    Every sperm is good!
    Every sperm is needed
    In your neighborhood!

  • Tricksterson

    (To the tune of Three Blind Mice)

    Save Our Sperm
    Save Our Sperm
    Cause even they have a right to life
    They’re all a man has to give to his wife
    So Save Our Sperm

  • fraser

    I’ve run into comments (and obviously if you browse enough comments, you can always find low-hanging stupid fruit) that argue preventing fertilization is enough because you’re preventing a baby from being born (ditto masturbation).

  • EllieMurasaki

    So what’s keeping those people from requiring all fertile individuals to be inserting penis in vagina as many times per day as is physically possible? Not having sex, after all, prevents a baby from being born.

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

    So what’s keeping those people from requiring all fertile individuals to be inserting penis in vagina as many times per day as is physically possible?

    It would impinge on men’s bodies. That we cannot have. Men’s vasectomies and Viagra are covered happily by these assholes, after all. Men are the only ones allowed to own any body.

  • Demonhype

     Yet more evidence that anti-choice is really anti-woman and has fuck-all to do with “poor innocent little babbies being murdered!”

  • Demonhype

     My thoughts exactly.  I mean, if that can be said for preventing fertilization and for masturbation, then I’m a serial killer for how many unfertilized eggs I’ve deposited on a sanitary napkin (to DIE!!!1!!!) over the course of my life.  How am I not in jail?

  • phantomreader42

    Ross said: Calling emergency contraception an abortifacient only makes sense if you believe life begins at ejaculation.

    It’s even worse than that.  Fetus-fetishists have been trying to pass laws declaring women pregnant weeks before they’re actually pregnant.  So, essentially, anyone not currently menstruating at that exact instant is considered pregnant.  Ejaculation isn’t even required.  So, apparently that whole “virgin birth” thing wasn’t anything special to the christianist right.  Which actually isn’t the least bit surprising to me after watching those lunatics show off in the name of jesus how much they absolutely despise everything about jesus. 

    I wish I were making this up, but I’m not.  Colbert gives the idiocy in Arizona the respect it deserves:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/24/colbert-rips-arizona-abortion-law-video_n_1449342.html

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Okay, that particular thing, while a gross misuse, is not nearly as ludicrous as it sounds. It is in fact standard medical practice for OBGYNs to calculate pregnancy as starting from last period. This is because they are talking about the physical process happening to the uterus and its owner (Hey, a view of pregnancy that thinks of it as something that is happening to an adult woman involving a fetus, rather than something that is happening to a fetus involving a woman), and when exactly fertilization happened does not actually matter to the timing of that process; it’s more like “At day X of the cycle, if implantation has already happened, proceed to step 6, otherwise menstruate and go back to step 1.”

    Using it as a basis for your abortion law is, of course, the same kind of trickery as when they call evolution “just a theory”, as if the scientific term “theory” meant the same thing as the colloquial word for “wild-ass guess”

  • Demonhype

    That’s how they create the illusion of scientific relevance and sanity.  Pseudo-science is big with the anti-choice crowd.

  • EdinburghEye

     Well calling emergency contraception an abortifactient makes sense

    No, it really doesn’t, because emergency contraception doesn’t work by “preventing a fertilised zygote from implanting”. It works by preventing the woman from ovulating.

    It makes sense for religiously-minded ignoramuses with no reason to study how human fertility actually works.

    It makes no sense for a qualified pharmacist to think this.

    If a qualified pharmacist says that he can’t fill a prescription for “X” drug because his church teaches him that “X” drug has a “Y” effect on the human body when in fact “X” does not cause “Y” effect, the pharmacist is proclaiming that what he knows as a scientist, as a qualified medical practitioner, is secondary to what his church teaches him as TRUTH. This is like a doctor refusing to perform vaccinations because his church teaches him that vaccinating a child against measles will give the child bubonic plague.

    The proper reaction is not “oh well, you don’t have to perform vaccinations then, religious freedom and all that”  but “WTF? Why are you still a doctor?”

  • Matthias

     As the book Contraceptive Technolgy (which I already cited) states some emergency contraception methods only prevent ovulation and consequently only have a succes rate of 80% (the remaining 20% being cases in which the ovulation already happened).
    However others like the emergency implantation of coppur IUC achive an efficiency of 99% by also preventing nidulation.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    The proper reaction is not “oh well, you don’t have to perform
    vaccinations then, religious freedom and all that”  but “WTF? Why are
    you still a doctor?”

    I like to say that if your christian faith prevents you from discharing your duties as a doctor, you should perhaps consider a field where the ceremony for entering the profession doesn’t involve swearing an oath to Apollo.

  • Shayna

    Except these contraceptive drugs don’t actually prevent implantation.

  • phantomreader42

    How many legs does a dog have if you call a tail a leg?  Four.  Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.  Just like calling something that doesn’t have the effect of an abortifacient an abortifacient doesn’t make it one, no matter how many times delusional frauds keep lying about it!

  • Matthias

     Look it is evidently impossible to conduct a scientific discussion with you as you just ignore any citation refution your position.

    So I will just say it one final time and then let it be: Some (not all) emergency contraception prevents implantation of a fertilised egg. Those treatments have a near 100% efficiency at stopping unwanted pregnancies while those that do not prevent nidulation only reach 80%.

  • Darren

    Except that the drugs in question have no effect upon fertilized eggs / zygotes.

    Early on, there was suspicion that the drugs _might_ prevent fertilized ova from implanting, but this has been conclusively disproven.

    It makes a lot more sense one really understands how pregnacys happens. The  thought that a woman ovulates, she has sex, gets pregnant is just not the case. Instead, a woman has sex, the man’s sperm sits around for 5 to 7 days, if she ovulates in that time she gets pregnant.

  • Darren

    Just realized you were channeling there, never mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    I just have issue with the name, “Hobby Lobby”, sounds like a toy and puzzle shop, which also sells candles.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I just have issue with the name, “Hobby Lobby”, sounds like a toy and puzzle shop, which also sells candles.

    When I first heard it, I assumed that it was the name of some legal organization representing the hobby shop industry.  

  • reynard61

    “I just have issue with the name, ‘Hobby Lobby’, sounds like a toy and puzzle shop, which also sells candles.”

    Well, from personal experience, Hobby Lobby does (or at least did, as of about two years ago when I stopped going there) sell toys, puzzles and candles. (They also sell plastic scale model kits, which is what I went there for; but their prices were getting so ridiculously high and their selection so small that I now go to HobbytownUSA or use the internet to get kits and supplies.)

  • Ross Thompson

    Well, from personal experience, Hobby Lobby does (or at least did, as of about two years ago when I stopped going there) sell toys, puzzles and candles. (They also sell plastic scale model kits, which is what I went there for; but their prices were getting so ridiculously high and their selection so small that I now go to HobbytownUSA or use the internet to get kits and supplies.)

    This is a different Hobby Lobby. They sell craft materials.

  • Lori

    The existence of two totally separate store chains called Hobby Lobby confuses me. I can never keep the two straight in my head or remember which one is run by asshats and which one isn’t. The net effect is that I would never shop at any place called Hobby Lobby, just in case.

  • reynard61

    I’m talking about the Big Box, fundie-owned, craft-materials-selling store (i.e. the one in your link) too. There are five in Indianapolis, where I live. As of two years ago (and probably even now), they sold all of the stuff mentioned in my previous post.

  • MikeJ

    So what if they were “abortion pills”? Abortion is legal. And more importantly, *it isn’t the company’s money* that is being spent.  When a company buys health insurance, they get a tax write off.  It is a business expense, just like the rest of the payroll.  When an employee gets health insurance, she *pays* taxes on it.  The money belongs to the employee, not the employer.

    Can an employer who believes the Catholic or Mormon church to be a cult tell their employees that they cannot give any of their pay checks to those cults? If they can’t force one religious decision on an employee, they can’t force another.

  • smrnda

     It’s also worth noting that workers are the one that create the revenue through their work that the management then undemocratically doles back out to the employees. I mean, why should a worker be asked to pay premiums towards a plan that doesn’t cover a normal medication?

    I have also heard that like all good Christian employers, Hobby Lobby is very against unions since, as Christian employers, the existence of a union might prove their god was really Mammon.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I have also heard that like all good Christian employers, Hobby Lobby is very against unions since, as Christian employers, the existence of a union might prove their god was really Mammon. /blockquote>

    Good Protestant employers maybe. Any Catholic employer who denies their workers the right to unionise is acting in direct opposition to church teaching, which clearly recognises and supports the right to unionise.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I have a question.

    Why is it that only Christians get exemptions for things they find morally reprehensible? And why is it that we continue catering to these people? In the worst case scenario, women die because these people refuse to accept science. Or LGBT people commit suicide. In “better” situations, peoples’ lives are just hardcore damaged. 

    Why are we still treating these people like anything but willful idiots? And why are they the only ones who get these exemptions? When a church stops getting tax dollars from people who don’t want to fund hate and ignorance, nobody dies. Just pointing that out. And I’m sure there are other examples as well. 

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    The bottom line for me is this: your employer has no right to dictate their own morals to you. If they consider pornography sinful, that doesn’t give them a right to stop me from using my wages to buy pornography.

    (Not that I would. There’s enough of the free stuff out there. But you get my point.)

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

    You know, I remember a time when a prevailing narrative was that growing up and supporting oneself required a willingness to engage with reality as it is, rather than insist that other people play along with one’s ideas of how it ought to be.

    In fact, I remember when U.S. conservatives insisted that this was one of the defining characteristics of conservatives, and consistently attempted to portray U.S. liberals as juvenile and insufficiently serious to be allowed to govern because they were comparatively unwilling to “face facts”.

    Oh, wait…  (holds fingers to fake microphone in ear) U.S. conservatives still do that?

    Huh. Weird.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    They should try arguing child labor laws are an abortifacient.  After all, if you could get a profit off your children, people might have more, ergo less abortion.  They should also try applying the same logic to women’s wages!

    (No, no they totally shouldn’t).

  • AnonymousSam

    Don’t know if they’d argue that they’re an abortifacient, but they do argue that child labor laws should be struck down. :p

  • berry

    Actually, it’s  precisely because the Supreme Court can’t rule on biological matters that Hobby Lobby is arguing about what they “believe”; the courts will focus on whether their belief is reasonable, rather than whether it is true.

    But in this case, I don’t think it is reasonable; even if a contraceptive does induce miscarriages, this is a side effect rather than the purpose, so it is not an “abortifacient”. And an exemption for any drug that one “believes” might induce a miscarriage would be very broad indeed. For example, I did a quick Google search and found articles claiming that swine flu vaccine and SSRI-type antidepressants are known to produce miscarriages.

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

    I think if someone started a religion that said that paying taxes was a sin and minimum wage laws were literally spawned by the Devil, they could probably get hundreds if not thousands of corporate converts overnight.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary
  • Littlepanchuk

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this blog in recent months.  However, after reading a few of your posts on contraception and abortion, I am concerned that you fail to see what those opposed to emergency contraception really object to.  I am not criticizing your position on these issues, nor do I want to endorse the owners of Hobby Lobby’s attempt to avoid providing full medical coverage to their female employees.  But it seems like something important has been lost in the discussion.  It is not that the objectors all fail to understand how emergency contraception works, though probably some do.  They simply disagree with the medical definition of ‘abortion’.  What muddies the water is that they continue to use the term, while giving it an entirely different meaning than the rest of society.  As a result they get caught up in semantics rather than presenting their view carefully.  This is both unfortunate and foolish of them.  It makes them appear ignorant and uninformed.  In reality, they want to object to the destruction of a biological entity that they believe to be morally significant (or count as a ‘moral patient’). Whether or not that destruction counts as an abortion is not the issue at all.  The issue is whether or not emergency contraception causes an event they hold to be immoral–which is possible whether or not an abortion occurs.  While most people disagree about the moral significance of this biological entity, those who hold these views are not limited to conservative fundamentalists.  In fact, the best arguments in their favor are not religious at all. Two interesting philosophical publications that address this issue are: A. R Pruss, I was once a Fetus, and Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen, Embryo.  Both argue for the moral significance of biologically human life that begins before implantation.  Even if they are wrong, they demonstrate that this view can be held in a respectable way, quite apart from ignorance and religious fanaticism.   

  • fraser

     But if the drug prevents ovulation, it doesn’t destroy any biological entity. So they’re still wrong (and ignorant and uninformed)–not to mention that the real immoral event for large numbers of conservatives is women having sex without “consequences”.

  • Littlepanchuk

    While the drug(s) in question do usually prevent ovulation, it is possible that prevention of implantation of an already fertilized egg accounts for some of their effectiveness, at least according to this article: http://ec.princeton.edu/questions/EC-Review.pdf
    If you believe that the embryo has moral significance after fertilization and before implantation, this is morally objectionable even though it is not a case of abortion.  The fact many of the people who make this argument also have abhorrent views about women and sex doesn’t have any bearing on my point.

  • Lori

    If you believe that the embryo has moral significance after
    fertilization and before implantation, this is morally objectionable
    even though it is not a case of abortion.  The fact many of the people
    who make this argument also have abhorrent views about women and sex
    doesn’t have any bearing on my point.  

    First, this statement implies that all this business about the moral significance of a blastocyst is separate from abhorrent views about women and sex. It is not. It is part and parcel of those abhorrent views, no matter how one attempts to dress it up.

    I think it’s telling that people pushing this view always try to skip ahead at least one developmental stage. Thus a zygote or blastocyst becomes an embryo, an embryo becomes a fetus and a fetus becomes a baby. And a baby  always and forever, in all circumstances has more moral significance than a woman.

    Second, even if I were to concede your point about the the moral significance of a blastocyst, which I absolutely do not, it would not change the real issue at hand. That issue is how much control an employer can exert over an employee’s private life under the guise of his/her religious beliefs. The answer should be none. It most definitely needs to be, “Far, far less control than the owners of Hobby Lobby want to assert.”

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

    The fact many of the people who make this argument also have abhorrent views about women and sex doesn’t have any bearing on my point.

    Total bullshit. The only reason these people are claiming their lies about embryos is because of their abhorrent views about women. And you’re not gonna get anyone to believe otherwise by pretending otherwise. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CE6FTHLHRMXUGOOGCMG3ROXBH4 David

    I’d like to highlight a passage out of that document for you:

    n. In the first study, no pregnancies were observed when ECPs were taken before the day of ovulation (in contrast to the 4 pregnancies that would have been expected without use of ECPs), whereas 3 pregnancies occurred when ECPs were taken after the day of ovulation (versus 3.5 expected pregnancies). In a follow‐up study no pregnancies were observed when ECPs were taken before the day of ovulation (in contrast to the 16 pregnancies that would have been expected without use of ECPs, whereas when ECPs were taken on or after the day of ovulation, 8 pregnancies occurred (versus 8.7 expected
    pregnancies). While some find the existing human and animal studies adequate to conclude that levonorgestrel‐only ECPs have no post‐fertilization effect, others may always feel that this question has not been unequivocally answered.

    I think it’s faily obvious by now that there is no reason for “not considering this question to have been unequivocally answered” other than ideological precommitment.  Some people still aren’t sold on the idea that the earth isn’t 6000 years old, after all.

    So you’re left with only this: conjecture against available evidence that Plan B might reduce the chance of implantaction.  Shall we list a few of the things that are known to reduce the chance of implantation or increase the chance of spontaneous abortion?

    Coffee consumption
    NSAID use
    Smoking
    Obesity
    Unpasteurized milk

    Might I suggest you target your activism at these instead?

  • Carstonio

    None of those involve women having sex without intending to become mothers. Just as children often end up without fathers through their mothers’ widowhood or desertion, but all the lamenting is over women who plan to become mothers on their own (single mothers and lesbian couples).

  • fraser

     And while right-wing traditional-values types love to discuss how the woman should stay home and how important two parents is, they don’t get half as upset about the idea of men working 70 hour weeks and never seeing their kids. It’s almost like they don’t think fathers are important except in the abstract.

  • Demonhype

     Excellent point!  Why isn’t there a massive effort to legislate against my 214 lb ass, as if I conceived  it would result in a reduced chance of implantation?  Why aren’t your moral crusaders fighting to have coffee taken off the shelves and aspirins made a prescription drug (if not outlawed).

    Oh, wait.  Screwing with cigarettes, fattening food, aspirin and caffeine might have the effect of inconveniencing males, and that we cannot have!

  • Demonhype

     Except that contraception preventing ovulation also results in a lower number of unimplanted fertilized eggs to begin with–because a significant number of fertilized eggs don’t implant naturally to begin with.  There was an excellent post featured on this very blog this very year that made the case rather better than  I am, but it was written by a former anti-choicer regarding how the reality of science means that there is no honest reason an anti-choicer has to oppose contraception.  It actually results in fewer “dead” fertilized embryos (primarily due to there being drastically fewer eggs to fertilize), so if this is a concern of any anti-choicer, both the science and the numbers show that it shouldn’t be.  And any anti-choicer seeing those facts who clings to this misinformed “belief” is being disingenuous and is really wanting to punish what he considers “whores” for the “crime” of sex.

    Besides which, your sad little fee fees that there might be an infinitesimal chance that a fertilized freaking cell that you believe has this unevidenced magical thing you call a soul might not implant and will, by your unevidenced beliefs, “die”, is not a legitimate reason for you to exert your control over the body of another human being.  You know, those fully-formed post-birth human beings who aren’t just a pair of joined cells.  Saying that your magical beliefs and fee fees about the potential of a pair of joined cells should take precedence over the bodily autonomy of a woman is more about your ability to control and punish others according to your religious dictates than it is about any hypothetical “poor innocent little one-celled babby”.

    I’ve  been everywhere and I can’t seem to find this, but I know Fred featured that excellent former-anti-choicer article here.  Little help, anyone?

  • EllieMurasaki
  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Disqus isn’t showing “reply to” (*shakes fist at Disqus*) so I can’t tell who the “you” is here. Or, indeed, the “he” in your next post. Who are you talking to/about?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Except that contraception preventing ovulation also results in a lower
    number of unimplanted fertilized eggs to begin with–because a
    significant number of fertilized eggs don’t implant naturally to begin
    with.  There was an excellent post featured on this very blog this very
    year that made the case rather better than  I am, but it was written by a
    former anti-choicer regarding how the reality of science means that
    there is no honest reason an anti-choicer has to oppose contraception. 
    It actually results in fewer “dead” fertilized embryos (primarily due to
    there being drastically fewer eggs to fertilize), so if this is a
    concern of any anti-choicer, both the science and the numbers show that
    it shouldn’t be.  And any anti-choicer seeing those facts who clings to
    this misinformed “belief” is being disingenuous and is really wanting to
    punish what he considers “whores” for the “crime” of sex.

    Even more, hormonal contraception  and barrier methods prevent more failed implantations than Natural Family Planning methods. Because, after user error, the next most common reason for fertilization  to happen when NFP is being used is because of a cycle irregularity — and in the cases where that takes the form of “Ovulation happened a week too early”, there’s a good chance that the uterus won’t be quite ready for implantation at the critical moment.

    (Technically, this is neither here nor there for Catholics, since the Catholic objection to contraception isn’t about the beginnings of life per se but about complicated aristotelian teleology. As you might expect when your sexual rules were written by a bunch of classically educated men who never have sex.)

  • The_L1985

    OK, here’s the thing about prophylactic birth control (the stuff Hobby Lobby doesn’t want its employee insurance to cover).  When your gynecologist prescribes it, the instructions are: “Take the first one on the day you start your next period.”  Why?  Because when you menstruate, your body is flushing out the last unfertilized egg.  The Pill then tricks your body into thinking it’s pregnant, so that you don’t produce another one.  This is basically how birth control pills work.  It’s also why you have to take the pill every day–otherwise, your body doesn’t have the right amounts of pregnancy hormones in it, and your ovaries are no longer fooled and start releasing eggs again.

    But as long as you’re taking the Pill every day, your body can’t ovulate.  No egg = no conception = no possibility of an abortion.  You can’t abort an embryo that isn’t there.

    And before you ask, I have PMDD, and thus have to take birth control pills.  I know that whereof I speak.

  • P J Evans

     And you’ll probably get to experience a mild form of morning sickness for part of every month. Such fun! /s

  • The_L1985

    Actually, I’ve lucked out. No side effects at all that I can tell.

  • Makabit

    The fact many of the people who make this argument also have abhorrent views about women and sex doesn’t have any bearing on my point.

    Yes, actually it does, since those views speak to the sincerity of their alternate science, alternate moral vision, and alternate deep and convenient beliefs about how biology works. Those views also provide the root of their conviction that their interpretation of biological morality should have legal standing which impairs another person’s ability to act on their own moral and philosophical beliefs.

    The belief that the embryo before fertilization has ‘moral significance’ grows out of a preexisting world view, it does not inform one.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So how do the people whose views on the moral relevance of embryos you cite approvingly plan to deal with a situation where the pregnant person has at least as much moral relevance as the embryo?

  • phantomreader42

    Ellie asked: So how do the people whose views on the moral relevance of embryos you cite approvingly plan to deal with a situation where the pregnant person has at least as much moral relevance as the embryo?

    …By denying any possibility that such a situation could ever exist, and screeching in horror at the top of their lungs until the end of time that anyone who suggests such a situation is waging war against christianity.   In short, by total, relentless, unending denial of any and all reality.  Standard operating procedure for fetus-fetishists.

  • Littlepanchuk

    The fact that the moral relevance of one entity can be out-weighed by other morally relevant factors does change the status of the first entity.  It only means that duties to it are not absolute.  I imagine that they deal with those situations with this in mind.  

    My point isn’t to figure out what morality demands with regard to emergency contraception (that depends completely on what moral philosophy you accept).  I just wanted to point out that it is easy to call out objectors for holding the ignorant view that EC causes abortion without getting to the heart of the issue, which I doubt medical advancement will settle.  Science cannot tell us what has moral value or what our duties are with regard to those things.  It can only tell us the fact of the matter, such as whether or not abortion, defined in a certain way, actually occurs.    

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

    Overblown sophistry designed to rationalize sticking your fucking nose in someone else’s business.

    Didn’t your momma ever teach you to mind your manners?

  • EllieMurasaki

    The fact that the moral relevance of one entity can be out-weighed by other morally relevant factors does change the status of the first entity. It only means that duties to it are not absolute. I imagine that they deal with those situations with this in mind.

    In that case, why did Savita Halappanavar die? You’ve heard of her, I’m sure, the woman in Ireland who was miscarrying but who couldn’t get anyone to get the fetus out of her before she died too on account of the fetus still had a heartbeat. What possible moral duty can there be to save someone who has absolutely zero potential chance of survival? How can it be moral to prioritize saving the zero-survival-chance person over saving the person who actually might survive the situation? I mean, if the latter person wants to attempt saving the former person, it’s her life, she can do as she wants with it, but that is not the choice Savita made. That is a choice Savita’s doctors made against her will, and that is what killed her.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     You know that thing I said before about gun control? How the US has lax gun laws because no number of dead children is too high a price to pay for the possibility of someone becoming a Hero by using his  Concealed Carry Gun to save the day?

    Same logic applies. No number of dead pregnant women is too high a price to pay for the possibility of a non-viable fetus miraculously turning into a healthy baby.

    (And I imagine that “fetus judged medically doomed survives to birth and recovers into a healthy baby” happens roughly as often as “armed civilian saves the day by shooting the bad guys”. Possibly a _bit_ more often since medical science deals largely in probabilities, whereas there’s not really such a thing as a 70% chance of spree killer)

  • The_L1985

     “70% chance of spree killer” sounds like a weather forecast in Hell.

  • Makabit

    It does happen that doctors are wrong about how doomed a fetus is, yes. Although there seems to be a fair amount of lying on the subject that goes on as well.

    As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m currently (very) pregnant, and earlier in the pregnancy we had a false scare about the baby possibly having Down Syndrome. While hunting for information and personal stories on the web, I was amazed by the sheer number of times that a woman’s friend or sister had been told that her baby had Down, been pressured to abort (right here in the dark blue, evil as sin San Francisco Bay Area, no doctor or genetic counselor to whom I spoke said anything one way or another about what I should d0), refused to do so, and then had the baby be totally normal at birth.]

    About eight repetitions in, it dawned on me that this hadn’t actually happened. Or maybe it had happened once.

  • Dan Audy

    About eight repetitions in, it dawned on me that this hadn’t actually happened. Or maybe it had happened once.

    When you realize that the stories and ‘facts’ being presented may not be trustworthy because there is someone out the with an agenda who is poisoning the well is one of the worst things about researching on the internet.  Figuring out whether a story is a true tale, an urban legend, or a position piece takes a level of discernment that I struggle with.  The other tough thing is to identify that even when the anecdotes are true whether it represents a reasonable possibility or whether the extraordinary nature causes it to overshadow the hundreds of thousands of standard outcomes.

  • Makabit

    Well, we were getting an amniocentesis, and I certainly was not going to hold out some sort of hope that if it said Down was present, it was somehow a big mistake. The science works, and the chromosomal workup is very accurate. So I was sure that the anecdote didn’t represent a reasonable possibility.

    But I sort of freaked out when I realized that I was trying to get real information about a real thing, and the information I was trying to get was laced through with obviously faked stories by people who didn’t care about me or my child, they just wanted to say anything possible to prevent me from aborting.

    It poisoned my trust in what people were saying quite a lot.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    About eight repetitions in, it dawned on me that this hadn’t actually happened. Or maybe it had happened once.

    I think the most likely thing is that the doctor told them that one of the tests indicated an elevated probability of trisomy and made it clear that if they weren’t prepared for that, the should make the appropriate plans, and some combination of panic, preconception and the telephone game morphed that into “the doctor said her baby had Down Syndrome and pressured her to have an abortion”

  • Lori

    I think that scenario has probably happened on more than one occasion. I also think it has very little to do with why Makebit saw the same story over and over on the forums. That’s basically just urban legend at work.

  • Makabit

    Very probable, because that happened to us, and that happens all the time. We had a 1 in 21 chance of Down, and while that was enough to make me spend three weeks in complete agony, worrying every second of every day, it’s still very good odds for standard paired chromosomes.

    The problem is, often the goddamn clinic calls you about the panel and says ‘it’s positive’, which makes it sound as though it’s, you know, positive. And I talked to women who said that they had actually been told, with odds much better than mine, that the baby actually HAD whatever trisomy it was.

    That said, the stories were too identical for me not to think they were being distributed for a specific purpose, which was fairly obviously to get you to not listen to your doctor if that might lead you to abort.

  • Demonhype

     What pisses me off the most is that I read that heart cells on their own will beat IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ACTUAL HEART!!!  A heartbeat is no indication of a “life that can be extinguished”.  And even in the case of a late-term pregnancy, if this was any other kind of case where one person was doomed and it’s only possible to save the other, they’d have no problem.  Triage, apparently, ceases to be relevant when one of the lives in question is a fetus, because in that situation only the fetus matters and the woman is just warm meat.

    I can’t begin to describe how much I hate these people.

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

    Science cannot tell us what has moral value or what our duties are with regard to those things.

    Well, that’s true, and it’s false.

    For example, science can’t tell me whether human DNA has moral value. But science can tell me what things in the world have human DNA. So if I believe human DNA has moral value, then science can tell me what things in the world have moral value by virtue of having human DNA.

    And if I reject the belief that all of those things have moral value, science can tell me that I have to reject the belief that having human DNA entails having moral value.

    So, no, science isn’t the sole determiner of moral truths… agreed.
    But science can establish constraints on what moral positions are consistent.

    Of course, I’m under no obligation to be consistent, either. I can decide that fetuses have moral value because they have human DNA, for example, but that other things with human DNA don’t have moral value, and to hell with consistency.

    But if I decide that, then people who do care about consistency are entitled to just ignore anything I say, because I am no longer making any damned sense.

  • JayemGriffin

    Hey. Shut up about what “some people” think and argue what YOU believe. The devil already has enough advocates.

  • Demonhype

     Well, you see, the minute the dirty whore spread her legs she lost her moral relevance and her life became meaningless in the equation,  donchaknow?  And beyond that, every woman is, by the dictate of their view of Gawd, an ambulatory baby-oven who has a duty to breed as many anklebiters as her ovaries and uterus can spit out, so a proper woman would understand the complete and total irrelevance of her life or health or safety in the equation–and if she doesn’t she’s dirty whore and still irrelevant.  That’s pretty much how these people think.

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

    I am concerned that you fail to see what those opposed to emergency contraception really object to.

    Yes, you really object to being told to stop sticking your fucking noses in somebody else’s business.

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

     

    In reality, they want to object to the destruction of a biological entity that they believe to be morally significant (or count as a ‘moral patient’). Whether or not that destruction counts as an abortion is not the issue at all. 

    (nods) Which also explains why they put so much energy into preventing the ongoing large-scale massacre of those moral patients represented by the natural termination of pregnancies. After all, many pregnancies don’t end in births, even if there’s no intentional intervention, and each of those terminations is just as much of a moral difficulty, right?

    No, wait… that’s not right, is it?
    I mean, they don’t do that.

    So… hm.
    In that case, it can’t primarily be the destruction of that biological entity that motivates the objection, can it? I mean, if it were, I’d expect all such destructions to be equally objectionable.

    Well, so, what do they object to, then?

    I guess it would have to be something that’s present when a pregnant woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy, but that isn’t present when the pregnancy terminates without the woman making that choice.

    What could it be?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    They simply disagree with the medical definition of ‘abortion’.

    Then what is their definition of “abortion”? Can you formulate one that isn’t utter nonsense?

    Because emergency contraception does not prevent implantation. This is a plain and simple fact. It prevents fertilization. Do you actually mean to suggest that they believe that preventing fertilization is “abortion”?

    Because that’s nonsense. If preventing fertilization is abortion, then I am having an abortion right now as we speak. It’s nonsense. It’s incoherent. Any position that holds that an abortion is possible before fertilization is unactionable since there is no way to make sense of it; if you can have an abortion before fertilization takes place, then kissing is an abortion. Milk is an abortion. Cats are an abortion. The sun, the moon, everything. One equals two. All bets are off.

    What they believe is that emergency contraception works by preventing implantation. And they are wrong. As a plain matter of observable fact. THey are as wrong as if they pulled out a gun and shot someone, then said “What do you mean? THat man is still alive,” while pointing to their victim’s dead body. If they can claim religious protection for the denial of plain and simple facts, then my church says that 5=4 and I’m allowed to underpay all my bills by 20%.

  • Littlepanchuk

    I never suggested that preventing fertilization is abortion.  In fact, I didn’t suggest that preventing implantation is abortion.  Doing so is silly.  In fact, I never even objected to abortion.  I simply point out that some people feel it is immoral to prevent implantation, and they do a crappy job expressing that objection.  If EC never does this, those objectors don’t have a leg to stand on.   But the article from Princeton Universities website that I cited in a previous reply, written by a couple PhDs, acknowledges that there is uncertainty about whether or not several of the EC options sometime inhibit implantation.  Some early studies apparently showed that it did.  Other later studies called this into question, but not conclusively.    

    It just concerns me when we act as though medicine and science have or will answer our moral questions for us.  Medicine and Science answer “is” questions, not “ought” questions.      

  • Mark Z.

     I simply point out that some people feel it is immoral to prevent
    implantation, and they do a crappy job expressing that objection.  If EC
    never does this, those objectors don’t have a leg to stand on.

    That’s frankly irrelevant. Their objection is that it is something that you can do, after having sex, that reduces the risk of being pregnant.

    This isn’t about biology. It’s about categories, and taboo, and the sacred and the profane.

    In this case, the principle is that unwanted pregnancy is something that happens because you were stupid and impulsive. (The non-secularized version is “because you sinned”.) This isn’t a biological fact to them; it’s a moral truth. Many evangelicals are mostly okay with birth control* because it’s a way of declaring to the universe that you’re not having stupid impulsive sex. But if you can have stupid impulsive sex and then, after the fact, decide you made a mistake and fix it, then you’re escaping the consequences of your stupid impulsive act.** It’s the moral equivalent of abortion, even if it’s not abortion in any biological sense.

    * Though not uniformly; for example, they tend to be more comfortable with the Pill than with condoms. The reasons for this are complex, but a big part of it is that condoms require less forethought. You can impulsively decide to have sex, go buy condoms, and an hour later be having sex. Another part of it is that condoms are openly displayed for sale, and so buying them requires a certain degree of shamelessness about the fact that you’re having sex, which some people find revolting.

    “Is it not actually coitus, then? Since we are not…touching?”
    “It is common for men of your religion to say so. But in that case you will have to explain to the Almighty why you are presently buggering a dead sheep.”
    — Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver

    ** or you’ve been raped, but LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU THE B-I-B-L-E THAT’S THE BOOK FOR ME.

  • Jenny Islander

    The rate of teen pregnancy is not conspicuously lower among evangelicals and may be higher (AFAIK there is no way to get clear data on this point however) because of the daintiness about contraceptives.  See, if you’re on the Pill, you’re thinking about having sex, and that makes you a dirty slut.  If you carry condoms around, you are a dirty dirty sinner who wants to besmirch a good Christian virgin, you dirty sinner you.  But unprotected sex (or the withdrawal method, which generally amounts to the same thing) is what happens when you are swept away by your passion, so it wasn’t really anybody’s fault.

  • fraser

     A number of evangelicals this year pronounced the use of contraception in itself as “irresponsible.” 

  • Demonhype

     I can’t get this through the heads of people who whine about abortion because “if you don’t want to be pregnant, be responsible and use contraception!”  They can’t seem to understand that their best buddies in the anti-choice brigade are fighting just as hard against contraception!

    Not to mention that whole “what I feel is the truth, and if I say up is down then up is down” mentality that Littlepanchuk keeps spouting re: anti-choice ignorance.  If they say that being responsible is irresponsible, then responsible actions are now irresponsible, and who are you to argue?

  • EdinburghEye

    I simply point out that some people feel it is immoral to prevent
    implantation, and they do a crappy job expressing that objection.  If EC
    never does this, those objectors don’t have a leg to stand on.

    The article from Princeton Universities website points out that there is a fair chance that implanting an IUC (a copper-T IUD) can prevent implantation as well as preventing ovulation – and the risk/benefit analysis by which a woman should decide whether or not that’s the best method of doing so.

    It also points out that the emergency contraceptive pill does not prevent implantation, it just prevents ovulation – no egg, no fertilisation, no embryo, no implantation, no pregnancy, no abortion.

    The big advantage of a copper-T IUD is that it’s pretty effective if it’s used up to five days after unprotected intercourse.

    The big advantage of an EC pill is that – if you live handy to a 24-hour pharmacies that allow EC over-the-counter sale without prescription and aren’t staffed by a religiously-minded idiot –  you can take EC within an hour or two of having unprotected intercourse, which maximises its effectiveness.

    The big advantage for these anti-science anti-medicine people is trying to confuse “Taking a pill quickly to prevent ovulation and thus avoiding unwanted pregnancy without having an abortion” with, you know, actually having an abortion. Which more people, rightly or wrongly, have views about than have views about whether a woman gets to use contraception.

     That’s why the “crappy job” I think: it lets pharmacists impose their views on women and lets the GPhC argue that it’s only religious liberty and not shockingly bad science. Pharmacists don’t fit copper-T IUDs.

    And the really daft thing is that obviously if a woman’s trying to get and use emergency contraception, it’s because she wants not-to-be-pregnant. If the EC fails because the pharmacist succeeded in delaying her long enough for her to ovulate anyway, she’s fairly likely to have an abortion. So if it was me, I like to think I would stand in the chemist’s shop and scream at the pharmacist at the top of my voice “You lousy bastard why do you want me to have an abortion?!!” and keep repeating “I’m upset because he wants me to have an abortion!!” as loudly as possible every time someone asked me to move or shut up.

    Of course I probably wouldn’t, being British and restrained. And besides I’d urgently need to get to another pharmacist if that happened.

  • Makabit

    It just concerns me when we act as though medicine and science have or will answer our moral questions for us.  Medicine and Science answer “is” questions, not “ought” questions.

    Which is yet another good reason for not torturing the science to make it yield ‘is’ answers that match your ‘ought’ answers. Which is what folks do when they play games like the one we’re discussing.

  • Demonhype

     No, you misunderstand!  What he’s saying is that even with the prevention of ovulation, there is still some tiny possibility of an egg dropping down anyway, and IF that happens and IF that renegade egg is fertilized and IF the contraception also has any implant-preventing effect, it is effectively an abortion (by their boneheaded I-get-to-make-up-my-own-facts way).

    He’s saying that it’s still right to deny women their bodily autonomy because of the infinitesimal chance that even one egg might still get past the gate and get fertilized.  Essentially, women should have no power over their bodies because every embryo, even hypothetical ones in highly specific circumstances that haven’t a great likelihood of occurring, are more important than a woman–that is, ambulatory incubator.  It’s better to force a billion women to carry pregnancies they don’t want, can’t afford, or will kill them to ensure that these rare “babies” have a chance–because fuck women, and also fuck post-born babies who weren’t wanted and/or are in foster homes and have to live with that, because only embryos concern these monsters.  Typical anti-choice POV.

  • Baby_Raptor

    It doesn’t matter. These people don’t get their own facts. At least not when it comes to forcing others to live by their falsehoods. If they want to personally decide that anything at all that stops a fetus from developing is wrong, that’s fine for them. 

    But they cannot force these views on people who choose to live in reality, where words and actions have real meaning. 

    Also, the only “respectable” way for someone to choose ignorance is if they’re keeping it to themselves. It stops being respectable the second they try and spread their view to anyone else.

  • Matri

    they demonstrate that this view can be held in a respectable way, quite apart from ignorance and religious fanaticism.  

    No.

    No, they cannot.

    Where your supposed “argument” falls flat is that only a mere decade ago, they were so far on the other side of the fence that arguing against birth control was considered a Bad Thing(tm).

  • Isabel C.

    As per my usual response to “but some people rilly rilly  believe it you guys!”:

    Some people really truly believe that lizard aliens have replaced key governmental figures. I don’t see why I need to respect that belief; I don’t see why this one is any different.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    The fact that the moral relevance of one entity can be out-weighed by other morally relevant factors does change the status of the first entity.

    In a hypothetical universe where it was known (or indeed reasonable that an embryo had equivalent moral ‘value’ to a woman, then perhaps this would be a reasonable argument.  But this is not that universe. 

    Science cannot tell us what has moral value or what our duties are with regard to those things.

    True (in itself).  However, if we have assigned moral value to ‘humanity’, we must consider why we assign that value?  Is it utilitarian?  Is it genetic?  Is it cellular?  Is it a matter of ‘form’?  Or is it, as most anti-abortion advocates seem to argue, an ephemeral and arbitrary condition that shows no evidence whatsoever, and, while not being genetic, follows ‘the body’ from conception to (or beyond) death?  This argument is aggressively unfalsifiable – not the unfalsifiable of ‘it is not evident there is no God’, but utterly impossible to even theoretically prove false, as it makes no substantive assertions other than itself.  Therefore, it is useless.

    I propose that it is none of these factors, but rather, based on the awareness, will, and essentially, ‘mental existence’, etc. of a human being, summarized as ‘sapience’ – this is what makes humans moral actors at all… without sapience, the concept of morality would be nonsense (and indeed, there would be nothing to concieve of it).  You can, if you will, think of this as the ‘Soul’ in a real, metaphysical sense, or you can take a more materialist approach… it doesn’t really matter.  For ‘soul’ to have any meaning, it must do something, even if it cannot be directly observed – create some distinction between humans and lesser beings, i.e., sapience.

    An embryo does not demonstrate sapience – indeed, it is no more alive than a cancer.  A fetus does not demonstrate sapience – it is alive, but only lately develops anything resembling even sentience.  A baby is not even sapient (a newborn doesn’t recognize itself in a mirror, has no concept of object permanence), or indeed many of the markers we would use to distinguish something with a ‘soul’ from a mere animal… though it is sentient.

    While there is a certain moral responsibility to an entity that is not a Moral Actor but will be, namely, not to take actions that will harm it when it is an Actor… there is no moral responsibility to preserve the mere possibility of sapience.  Especially no moral responsibility worth overriding an actual Moral Actor’s will and benefit (and yes, women are actual Moral Actors, even when pregnant)…

    In that case, why did Savita Halappanavar die?

    In fairness, a member of a system failing that system is not necessarily an indictment of the system.  The response would probably be ‘they failed in their responsibility/calculus’…
    Not that I actually believe their action was justified even in principle.

  • Darkrose

    Reading your comment, and others about “moral entities” and “relative value” makes me try to imagine something I can’t. I’m picturing Savita Halappanavar lying there, semi-conscious and probably in a lot of pain, maybe only partially aware that the child she and her husband wanted is all but dead inside her. Meanwhile, the doctors debate about the relative value of moral entities and the presence of a fetal heartbeat and when life begins, until it’s too late and the actual woman, the one with the friends and family and husband who loves her is dead.

    In philosophical discussions of abortion, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that there are actual human beings involved, and not just abstract moral entities.

  • Lori

    I’m picturing Savita Halappanavar lying there, semi-conscious and
    probably in a lot of pain, maybe only partially aware that the child she
    and her husband wanted is all but dead inside her.  

    As I understand it she was fully aware of her situation and that the fetus she was carrying would not survive. She able to make it clear that given that there was no chance for a live birth,  she wanted the pregnancy terminated. Which of course makes it just that much worse that the doctors ignored her because there was nothing they could legally do for her as long as there was still a fetal heartbeat. Because in a country ruled by Catholic doctrine a fetus with zero chance of being born alive trumps a living woman. It also trumps her living child, not to mention her husband and her parents. Truly an example of fetus worship at its ugliest.

  • Matri

    In philosophical discussions of abortion, it’s easy to lose sight of the
    fact that there are actual human beings involved, and not just abstract
    moral entities.

    And the irony in this scenario is that the “morally bankrupt” science is trying to save a live human being, while the “moral high ground” religious right wants to save a dead one at the cost of another human life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    One example of what you are up against: http://www.scifiwright.com/2012/12/feast-of-the-holy-innocents-2/#more-6988

    I have a morbid interest in bringing things together.

  • Lori

    This cruel deed of Herod is not mentioned by the Jewish historian
    Flavius Josephus, although he relates quite a number of atrocities
    committed by the king during the last years of his reign. The number of
    these children was so small that this crime appeared insignificant
    amongst the other misdeeds of Herod.  

    Of course. The only possible reason that this even wasn’t mentioned by Flavius Josephus was that it was relatively trivial and got lost in the shuffle of atrocities. It couldn’t possibly be that the story of the cruel deed was propaganda made up in order to make the story of Jesus seem to fit prophecies about the Messiah. 

  • theoracle

    I didn’t know a “corporation” could have “faith.” (per Kyle Duncan quote). A person can have faith, but a corporation? Oh right, maybe Duncan was speaking to the Citizens United folks, and the culpable supreme court justices who gave our nation this abominable ruling?

  • BaseDeltaZero

    (And I imagine that “fetus judged medically doomed survives to birth and recovers into a healthy baby” happens roughly as often as “armed civilian saves the day by shooting the bad guys”

    I suspect it’s gonna be a lot more in favor of the latter.  

    In philosophical discussions of abortion, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that there are actual human beings involved, and not just abstract moral entities.

    While that’s a cute description there, we *aren’t* in that situation.  And we have these ‘abstract discussions’ so we can know how to make decisions in a crisis.  So we *don’t* have to hold a debate while someone bleeds out… or should we just always go with our ‘gut’ or divine providence, like… these doctors did? (because it is legal under Irish law to abort in the case of danger to the mother).

    I also like how I wrote a comment on why a fetus cannot override concern for the mother, and get yelled at.

    One example of what you are up against: http://www.scifiwright.com/201

    Ah, that guy.  I actually did like his essay on creation posted a while back.  Tried to comment on some of his stuff, but… wow.  Just wow.

  • Tricksterson

    Yeah, I used to like him as an author (Loved his Chronicles of Chaos trilogy) but reading his blog gives me a headache before I get more than a couple of paragraphs in.  Whether i continue to read his fiction depends on whether it’s as nuts as his screeds.  He used to be an atheist and then converted to Catholicism and well, apparently Found God and Lost his Marbles.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Hm.  Do you happen to recall when he converted?  Because, out of curiosity, I went all the way back to his first post on his blog, in 2003, and it was… a rant on abortion (IIRC.  It may have been some other conservative issue… anyways, just wondering if he converted and became a conservative, or he was always a conservative who just happened to convert…

    (They also sell plastic scale model kits, which is what I went there for; but their prices were getting so ridiculously high and their selection so small that I now go to HobbytownUSA or use the internet to get kits and supplies.)

    I kinda like those kits, but I never quite seem to have enough persistence to get them done quickly enough, and then the glue dries out and it’s just… yeah. /Digression

  • Tricksterson

    Checked Wikipedia.  He converted to “Christianity” in 2003 and Catholicism in 2008.   Since their seperated I would guess that from 2003-08 he was a nondenominational Protestant. 

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     You want some more of SciFiWright’s home-brand of Crazy, I recommend this one:  You’ve come a long way down, Baby!.  (Warning: contains misogyny, misanthropy, and anime girls in Nazi uniforms.)

  • fraser

     Read it. Nothing I haven’t heard before, except Wright waffles on longer.

  • fraser

     To clarify, it’s the same old cliches about how women should submit, feminists primary goal is to get women to abort babies, no Real Woman wants to have sex without marriage, etc. I didn’t mean to imply it wasn’t worthy of note (or revulsion).

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Trigger Warning: Rape, Misogyny, John C. Wright.

    Daaaamn, that’s…
    Nope, not doing it.  Tried arguing with him.  Gave up after he claimed Obamacare is illegal search/seizure.   (The article after that claiming that for women, true heroism consisted of being raped) I’m not going back there alone.  

    I like how, despite worshipping at the altar of ‘Women have fewer teeth than men because mares do, and I can’t be arsed to check’ Aristotle, he condemns ‘modern intellectuals’ for endorsing ideas ungrounded in reality.

    Also, you cannot make women more masculine, but you can make men more feminine, somehow.  

    Followed by a complete lack of understanding of the (Greek) Loves… Protip: None of them are supposed to apply to women.

    Oooh, ooh, here’s a nice one:

    Being feminine does not mean being weak. That is a Marxist lie, produced by the morally retarded one-dimensional and therefore stupid idea that all human relationships are mutually hostile power struggles about power.

    This after half a dozen paragraphs explaining why a proper relationship involves a man taking a woman by force.

    No youth who gouges a schoolgirl in the eyes during a Co-Ed wrestling match is dating my teenage daughter, thank you, because such a boy has no character, no backbone, no balls. My daughter is about four foot five and weights about 50 pounds.

    Fifty… pounds? The fuck?  Should we call CPS?

    And… no.  No.  Rejected.  Not staring into the Abyss anymore.

  • banancat

    Quite honestly, I would love to see this type of legal temper tantrum shut down by just requiring employers to provide insurance plans that cover abortion, which is a legal procedure. Maybe I’m in the minority but we have decided this procedure is legal and it should have covered just like any other unless it is made illegal. We shouldn’t make a concession for one legal thing that some people dislike because then they keep trying to use that trick to restrict other legal things.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    Yeah, anti-choice rhetoric often seems to imply that abortion isn’t really legal, just under-enforced. When I was watching the Georgia legislature’s debate over one of our latest (out of many) abortion restrictions, and the Republican sponsor of the bill trotted out the tiresome line about, “Rape is terrible sure, but you shouldn’t compound one crime [rape] with another [abortion],” I literally shouted at the screen, “Abortion’s not a crime, asshole!”

    You have every right to think it’s a sin. But the state isn’t here to punish sins. It’s here to punish crimes. Sadly, the religious right doesn’t see the difference.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Well, if you believe abortion is murder, then it makes sense… the problem is that it’s nonsensical to believe abortion is murder.

  • fraser

     For example, some right-to-lifers don’t think you should be able to take a medical-expense deduction for abortion or use a health savings account to pay for one.

  • Demonhype

     They don’t want anyone ever to get an abortion.  All this BS about “who pays for what’ is the latest chapter in their efforts to outlaw women’s bodily autonomy, outlawing abortion without making it seem like that’s what they’re doing.  Just make it nearly impossible to access and at some point they’ll just say “well, abortion is nearly impossible to access anyway, why don’t we just outlaw it all together?”  Though I doubt they will.  Republicans have been relying on anti-woman lies for votes, so as long as abortion is technically legal they will still be able to rouse their Fox “News” watching constituency with lies about the “millions of poor innocent murdered babies” at the abortion clinics, even in the even that there are no more abortion clinics and abortion is effectively illegal for being totally inaccessible.  And their idiot voting block will believe it in the face of all evidence, because they’ve drunk too much of the Kool-aid.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I wonder…mifepristone (RU486), which is an abortifacient, is used in a couple of countries as an emergency contraceptive, in low doses. Not in the US–but I wonder if people who say emergency contraceptive = abortifacient are thinking of this drug, and are (perhaps willfully) ignorant of its limited use in the US?

  • The_L1985

     Probably.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people thought that Plan B and RU-486 were the same drug.  I only know they’re not because it was one of the few things NRL actually bothered to tell the truth about.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    NRL?

  • The_L1985

    National Right to [Fetal] Life.

  • Francis Dickinson

    While the drug(s) in question do usually prevent ovulation, it is
    possible that prevention of implantation of an already fertilized egg
    accounts for some of their effectiveness, at least according to this
    article: http://ec.princeton.edu/questi…

    Do you even read your own links?

    The reduced efficacy with a delay in treatment, even when use is adjusted for cycle day of unprotected intercourse,43 suggests that interference with implantation is likely not an inevitable effect of ECPs. If ECPs did prevent all implantations, then delays in use should not reduce their efficacy as long as they are used before implantation.79
    Studies in the rat and the Cebus monkey demonstrate that levonorgestrel administered in doses that inhibit ovulation has no postfertilization effect that impairs fertility.64,80,81″

    Translation: Levonelle/Plan B almost certainly does not prevent implantation and things would behave very differently if it did.

    One study has demonstrated that ulipristal acetate (UPA) can delay ovulation.40 in this study, 34 women were treated when the size of the leading follicle was at least 18 mm. Each woman contributed one cycle treated with placebo and another with UPA. Follicular rupture failed to occur within 5 days following UPA treatment in 20 (59%) subjects while normal ovulation was observed in all women within 5 days after placebo intake. Follicular rupture failed to occur within 5 days after treatment with UPA in all women treated before onset of the LH surge, in 79% of women treated after the onset of the LH surge but before the LH peak, and in 8% of women treated after the LH peak. Another study found that ulipristal acetate altered the endometrium, but whether this change would inhibit implantation is unknown.85

    Translation: There is no evidence that ulipristal acetate/Ella prevents implantation.   And we have looked seriously.

    At the same time, however, all women should be informed that the best available evidence is that the ability of levonorgestrel and ulipristal acetate ECPs to prevent pregnancy can be fully accounted for by mechanisms that do not involve interference with post‐fertilization events.

    Translation: Plan B and Ella have a contraceptive effect that can be entirely accounted for without assuming they prevent implantation.  If we assume they prevent implantation this means that they would probably be responsible for more than the observed effectiveness.

    There is precisely one form of contraception that according to the paper you linked probably does prevent implantation.  Demonstrating how incompetently you have read the article that form is not a drug

    Its very high effectiveness implies that emergency insertion of a copper IUD must be able to prevent pregnancy after fertilization.

    It may be possible that emergency contraceptive drugs prevent implantation.  However the statistical evidence and the best evidence that we have according to the paper you link is that they don’t.  It is also likely that drinking coffee prevents implantation.  As drinking coffee is therefore more likely to prevent implantation than any of the emergency contraceptive drugs are (there not having been research to show it is vanishingly unlikely), go and talk about how that may be an abortifacient.  Because according to the evidence we have it probably is rather than almost certainly isn’t.

  • Francis Dickinson

    Just to follow up with the resident pro-lifer:
    It just concerns me when we act as though medicine and science have or
    will answer our moral questions for us.  Medicine and Science answer
    “is” questions, not “ought” questions. 

    Unfortunately for you whether implantation is prevented by emergency hormonal contraception is an is question not an ought one.  And it doesn’t.  I went through what emergency contraception actually does on my blog recently (complete with a lot of links to PubMed’s repository of academic research papers) – and the is bears no resemblance to what you are talking about.  Medicine and science answer “is” questions – and these often make “ought” questions irrelevant.  As they do with all yours.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Just to follow up with the resident pro-lifer

    If you’re talking about littlepanchuck, s/he said nothing to suggest that s/he’s a “pro-lifer”. Littlepanchuck’s only personal comment on the morality of abortion was this:

    In fact, I never even objected to abortion.

  • Demonhype

     However, Littlepanchuk says that while arguing about the validity of anti-reality anti-science views regarding contraceptive, and keeps insisting that they have an excellent point–essentially, it’s the blog comment version of “I have this friend….”.  He sounds a lot like the people who come into Pharyngula sometimes, saying they’re not really religious or that they’re atheists, and then start arguing about how fundies have such good points that we would see if we weren’t so blinded by science and liberal bias and atheism–you know, from an abstract position, and all, devil’s advocate and such, but no, that’s not their view at all.  Or the racists who say “I’m not a racist, but…” and then begin to “wonder” whether the racists have “a good point” and perhaps they’re not just arguing out of bigotry?  No, I don’t believe them either.

  • EllieMurasaki

    There’s a name for that phenomenon. ‘Concern troll’.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It’s also why so many people get the impression that everyone is an extremist. Try to acknowledge that maybe some people on “the other side” are coming from a position of something other than “let’s oppress women who dare to have sex” (or “let’s murder babies on a whim”; both “sides” engage in this) and you’ll be assigned views you don’t actually hold. People in the middle either stfu if they don’t like being subjected to verbal abuse, or they are redefined as extremists, often by both sides. Pretending moderates don’t exist doesn’t help anyone.

    The “derailing for dummies” post is not as awesome as its fans like to think.

  • Lori

    Pretending moderates don’t exist doesn’t help anyone.   

    The problem is that on this issue there’s really not much of a moderate position. One believes that women have bodily autonomy or one does not. There’s a lot of blah, blah, moral significance, blah that can swirl around that but it still comes down to women are full human beings who own their own bodies or they are not. You can tell because of the wildly different ways that things like moral significance come into play in discussions of the bodily autonomy of women vs that of men.

    As long as a person doesn’t want to legally restrict my ability to exercise control over my own body I don’t exactly care if s/he thinks I don’t really, truly own it, but I don’ t think think of that person as particularly moderate either. In fact, I think the only way that believing I’m in any way not the sole owner of my own body can be considered moderate is when it’s compared to extremist views. In that sense, self-styled moderates benefit from the existence of extremists.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’m pretty sure you and I hold nearly identical views wrt the legal status of abortion. Hobby Lobby’s position is bullshit. Littlepanchuk said it was bullshit, but because she also said let’s maybe consider that some people are coming from a position other than “punish sluts hoorah” she got told that she wants to ban abortion.

    I don’t think “let’s not declare that a large, heterogeneous group of people think exactly and only thus” to be a magnificently moderate position myself, but it seems to get pushed that way.

    I have been in that many conversations where a big group says “if pro-lifers were for real they’d try to reduce the circumstances that drive the need for abortion but they don’t so they’re all full of shit huh huh?” And someone will point out that there are, in fact, many pro-lifers whose number 1 priority is reducing poverty among women and whose number 2 priority is making sure everyone has access to and knows how to use contraceptives. But they’re not as loud as the other lot, and the other lot exist so we’ll continue to assert that they’re ALL the same. Or someone who thinks abortion should be legal (and funded by public health care)  but expresses concern about the social and moral implications of, for example, sex selection or terminating pregnancies because of Down Syndrome or cleft palate, and they’re told that it’s a ridiculous argument that they don’t really care about, and they actually just want to control women’s bodies.

    The message I get from a crapload of people (including from Fred) is that you have a choice between believing exactly as they do–not just about consequential, legal and policy issues but every single moral nuance–and being Rick bloody Santorum. I don’t think that’s a helpful choice.

    (I also don’t like people being held to radically different standards because they might be part of the wrong group, and I’ve seen many an instance where commenters lost their shit over someone else’s slight implication about what they might “really” think, so I don’t like seeing Littlepanchuk subjected to much stronger version because she had the temerity to express some sympathy for what some pro-lifers might believe.) 

  • Carstonio

    And someone will point out that there are, in fact, many pro-lifers whose number 1 priority is reducing poverty among women and whose number 2 priority is making sure everyone has access to and knows how to use contraceptives.

    If they also advocate making abortion illegal (which is the definition of pro-life), then that position alone negates those other, reasonable positions. People could hold those positions and still believe that abortion is wrong, but if they advocate keeping it legal, then they’re pro-choice.

    someone who thinks abortion should be legal (and funded by public health care)  but expresses concern about the social and moral implications of, for example, sex selection or terminating pregnancies because of Down Syndrome or cleft palate, and they’re told that it’s a ridiculous argument that they don’t really care about, and they actually just want to control women’s bodies.

    That response is probably far rarer than you suggest. I have seen those concerns used as a Trojan horse for shaming women. At best, the people who raise those concerns seem to falsely assume that abortions are done only for the woman’s convenience, so they’re making a slippery slope argument with other instances of alleged convenience. Sex-selective abortions are really a problem of societal sexism, and it’s been suggested that persecuted women in such cultures often choose to abort female fetuses as a form of euthanasia. There should be a way to raise the concerns you’re talking about without calling the woman’s motives into question, as if her agency were the core problem.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah. Fuck if I know how to prevent abortion on the basis of the child having the less-desirable set of genitalia or having a disability that’s apparent in utero, because I want abortion to be available to any pregnant person asap upon request with the only questions asked being to establish whether the pregnant person is being pressured into an abortion. (If someone is applying such pressure, or if the pregnant person volunteers that they want an abortion because they can’t afford a[nother] baby, the appropriate response is to figure out how they can keep their baby.)

    But by the time someone’s seeking an abortion on sex or disability grounds, it’s already too late. The way to keep those abortions from happening is to fix gender equity and ableism on the societal level.

  • Carstonio

    Exactly. It’s another version of addressing the reasons some women choose abortion, instead of the cruelly paternalistic tactic of trying to convince women not to have them. Such as forcing them to watch ultrasounds in the hope that mommy magic would kick in.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of saying “No, you misogynist|ableist, you don’t get to have an abortion because your fetus is female|disabled! As punishment for your misogyny|abelism, we will force you to raise a child* that you hate and resent! That’s sure to end well for everyone!”

    * (Yeah, okay. Because adoption is great alternative that will invariably lead to disabled infants getting the supportive loving families they need)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which isn’t a thing anyone says even if abortions on those grounds are banned, provided abortion for no stated reason is permitted, which I continue to insist it should be. All the pregnant person has to do is not say it’s a sex- or ability-selective abortion. And fixing gender equity and ableism on the societal level can’t be a completed project until sometime after people have stopped valuing children with penises over children with vulvas and TAB children over children with disabilities.

  • Makabit

    This is the thing. If I believe that what a woman does about her own pregnancy is her own judgement call, I am not in a position to tell her that her reason for having an abortion is stupid or immoral, even if I think it is.

    I know that India actually has laws against gender-selection abortion. They have a different situation going on, and I have to assume they have made that choice for what seems like a good and sufficient reason to them. In my own country, I accept that people will abort for reasons that seem to me trivial, stupid, heartbreaking, or just wrong…but I accept that having the woman who is pregnant make the judgement call is, as Churchill might have said, the worst of all possible options, except for all the other options.

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

    If I want your opinion about a decision I need to make, and you believe that what decision I make is my judgment call, and you also believe that one of my choices is stupid or immoral, is there anything I can do that makes it OK for you to tell me so?

  • Makabit

    Depends. If you want my opinion, and you are my dear friend, I will probably tell you what my opinion is. 

    If you want my opinion, and I am your therapist, my job is not to tell you what I think, it’s to help you get to what you think.

    If you are someone I don’t know well and have no emotional or professional relationship to, why are you telling me about your reasons for having an abortion, and how is this any of my business?

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

    Beats me why I want your opinion, hypothetically.
    I often want people’s opinions.
    And if being your dear friend makes it OK for you to give it to me, that’s cool with me.

  • Makabit

    When I was dealing with the Down situation, one of my closest girlfriends made it clear she thought it would be best for me to abort if the amniocentesis came back positive for trisomy. She had reasons, and she listed them. She also told me that she loved me, and it was my decision, and that once I made that decision she would offer her support for it, regardless.

    It takes someone who is just that close to me to be able to tell me what I ought to do in such a painful situation, and not have me want to rip their throat out. And I knew she knew who I was, and what the situation was, and what I was thinking about, and…it’s impossible for me to imagine just offering my advice randomly to someone whose life I don’t know.

    Another woman, to whom I am not close, happened to find out what was going on and offer her opinion for free. It was not fun.

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

     (nods) Yup.

    There’s a reason why the question I asked was what I could do to let someone know unambiguously that I want their opinion and that it was OK to provide it, and why it wasn’t how I could volunteer my unasked-for opinions about other people’s choices.

    I’m not really interested in doing the latter; it doesn’t seem to provide any value to anyone.

    That said, I dislike it when someone asks for my opinion about their choices when I strongly suspect that they don’t really want my opinion so much as my approval. It’s OK if I happen to approve, but if I don’t, then  it seems whatever I do disrespects them… either by voicing disapproval of their choices, or by refusing to give them the honest opinion they asked for.

    I usually end up saying something mealymouthed about how it’s a very personal thing and I don’t really feel like my opinion is worth much. Which usually gets me off the hook, but it also contributes to the social norm whereby such phrases become understood to be code for “I disapprove but don’t want to admit it.” Which I’m also not thrilled about.

    So, I dunno. I have yet to come up with an answer I like, here.

    But in the meantime, I would very much like not to ever put other people in that position. And it seems the only two ways to avoid it are to never ask anyone their opinion, or to ask it when I do in a way that makes it unambiguous that I actually do want it.

  • Lori

    In India the main issue is that women were (and still are) being placed under incredible pressure to abort females. So weirdly that particular law restricting abortion is on balance more respectful of women’s choices than it’s absence. It’s still a bad idea in that women are still under pressure to abort females, and now also face being pushed to have unsafe illegal abortions. It’s a perfect example of why I think abortion rules are really not the way to address problems with the status of women in society.

  • Carstonio

    If I believe that what a woman does about her own pregnancy is her own judgement call, I am not in a position to tell her that her reason for having an abortion is stupid or immoral, even if I think it is.

    I go further and say that I’m not in a position to even form a judgment about her reason. I’ve never had a womb so I cannot know what it’s like to be pregnant or face the possibility of pregnancy. Similarly, I’ve never had a loved one who was kept alive after hope of recovery was gone, so I must not judge someone else’s decisions for hir own loved ones.

  • Lori

     

    I have been in that many conversations where a big group says “if
    pro-lifers were for real they’d try to reduce the circumstances that
    drive the need for abortion but they don’t so they’re all full of shit
    huh huh?” And someone will point out that there are, in fact, many
    pro-lifers whose number 1 priority is reducing poverty among women and
    whose number 2 priority is making sure everyone has access to and knows
    how to use contraceptives.   

    I have literally never encountered anyone I would refer to as ‘pro-life” (opposed to a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion should she choose to have one) whose 1st and/or 2nd priority was poverty reduction and BC availability.

    Even if such people actually exist I don’t know why I’m supposed to treat them any differently than anyone else who wants legal control over my body.
     

     

    Or someone who thinks abortion should be legal (and funded by public
    health care)  but expresses concern about the social and moral
    implications of, for example, sex selection or terminating pregnancies
    because of Down Syndrome or cleft palate, and they’re told that it’s a
    ridiculous argument that they don’t really care about, and they actually
    just want to control women’s bodies.  

    I think that when someone expresses concerns about abortion instead of about the status and treatment of women and the disabled they’re focusing on the wrong problem. Not only are the focusing on the wrong problem, they’re helping to reenforce one of the problems they claim to be concerned about—the low status of women. Judging women’s reasons for having abortions is part and parcel of treating them like they’re less than, because it rests on an underlying assumption that women can’t really be trusted to make their own decisions about their own bodies.

    I have known people who had abortions for reasons that make me personally uncomfortable. I make it a policy not to discuss those issues in general forums because ultimately it reenforces the idea that people have a right to judge whether or not a woman’s abortion is OK. IMO that way lies nothing but badness. I’m certainly not going to give back pats and cookies to people for only wanting to judge some really icky, bad abortions.

    If someone wants to talk about the ways to improve the status of the disabled and women I’m there. If someone wants to talk about abortion I’m going to think their issue is abortion and not helping women or the disabled. And I’m not going to feel guilty about the fact they don’t like having their motives questioned while they’re questioning the motives of women who have abortions.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I have no doubt that many, maybe even most, forced-birth advocates think that their concern is with protecting life and not with punishing women.

    But I submit that they are mistaken about their own motivations

    It does not matter how passionately and sincerely I say I believe that keeping a raw steak in my pocket repels tigers. After the third or fourth time the tiger rips my pants off, any objective observer is right to conclude that my actual reason for keeping the raw steak in my pocket is something else, and that thing about the tiger is either a lie or a delusion.

    Opposition to abortion does not have the effect they claim it has, and it does have the effect of slut-shaming and hurting women. These are not bugs but features. These results are both obvious and inevitable. Therefore, someone who claims that they oppose abortion because their opposition has the effects they claim to desire, and that they do not want to slut-shame is either deluded or lying.

    Even the “moderate” ones. (Because even the moderate ones, the ones who say “Legal except when…”, are engaged in magical thinking. Most obviously the “except for late-term abortions” folks and the “Except for all those women who use abortions as birth control,” because they’re both imagining this class of fickle women who find surgical procedures a convenient alternative to condoms. Like if my afforementioned pocket steak repelled unicorns.)

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

    How would you characterize someone who advocates for a woman’s legal right to choose whether to continue or abort a pregnancy (insofar as the choice is possible… for example, the choice to continue a pregnancy obviously isn’t one that modern medicine can guarantee), and also considers one of those choices morally superior to the other?

  • Lori

    Do you mean always morally superior or morally superior in a specific instance. I obviously can’t speak for Ross, but personally I characterize the latter as obvious and the former as morally unserious.

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

    I agree with you that the latter is obvious, and I don’t really know what the former means.

    I mean, I consider giving someone pie a morally superior option to shooting them in the head, but I would also say that if an evil supervillain credibly threatens to blow up Manhattan if I don’t shoot someone in the head, shooting them in the head is morally superior.

    If my hypothetical advocate feels the same way about births as I do about not shooting people in the head, I expect they would reject both of those options.

    Perhaps I mean morally superior all else being equal?

  • Lori

    I don’t really know what the former means.

    When I say morally unserious I mean that anyone who thinks that in every circumstance abortion is the morally inferior position is a person who is trying to avoid doing the hard work of dealing with difficult, complex reality. There are very, very few things I can think of that are always morally superior to the alternative and I think the notion that abortion is one of them is completely indefensible.

    Perhaps I mean morally superior all else being equal?

    I’m not sold on the idea that all else is ever equal, but like Elie & Ross in that as long as the person wants abortion to be safe and legal I’m not going to get into it them about it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Can’t speak for Ross, but as long as this person isn’t trying to insist that any given pregnant person follow the course of action that this person considers morally superior even when it conflicts with the pregnant person’s needs and/or morals, I’d call this person a friendly.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     “pro-choice”. You can tell because “advocates for a woman’s legal right to choose” is right there in the sentence.

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

     Oh, pro-choice without question. But is their judgment of their motives sincere, or is it delusional? Or is that only a judgment we can make about forced-birth advocates?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not enough information, I think.

  • Mark Z.

    The problem is that on this issue there’s really not much of a moderate position.

    There are certainly some positions more moderate than others. Right here in this thread we’ve discussed “abortion and contraception are wrong and should be outlawed” vs. “abortion is wrong and should be outlawed, but contraception is okay”. There’s a substantive difference between those. Also different is “abortion is wrong, but should not be outlawed”.

    Those are real positions, BTW. I can name people who hold them.

  • Lori

      There’s a substantive difference between those.   

    There’s a substantive difference between the first two, but neither of them is moderate. “Moderate” does not mean “less offensively batshit than that guy over there”.

    And as I have said many, many times now (including twice in this very thread) I consider anyone who thinks that abortion should be legal to be pro-choice. The details of their personal issues are not important to me as long as they aren’t trying to legally prevent me from having full ownership if my own body.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I think Littlepanchuk may be a “she”, fwiw.

    Declaring that you know what someone thinks when they haven’t said anything of the sort tends to get stamped on pretty severely here.

  • Makabit

    If you’re talking about littlepanchuck, s/he said nothing to suggest that s/he’s a “pro-lifer”.

    That makes me less patient, not more. If you believe, if you will tell me with honest tears in your eyes, that an unimplanted blastocyst is a full human being with all the rights that accompany that exalted status, I will think you’re mistaken, and I will fear and resent the political agenda you may carry, but at least that’s what you believe, and we have a place to start.

    If you’re just explaining the thought process behind the fake science as though I could have never even considered that these folks have Moral Concerns, and that science doesn’t solve all of our problems, you’re just condescending to me, and being a nuisancy sophist.

  • Demonhype

    That’s just their way of saying “I don’t care what science says or how true anything is–if I have a religiously-claimed belief that it’s something different, then all the facts in the world don’t matter!  My unevidenced belief should have the same weight as evidenced scientific fact, so that makes the question a debate-able one!  Shut up, that’s why!” 

  • Lori

    I like how, despite worshipping at the altar of ‘Women have fewer teeth than men because mares do, and I can’t be arsed to check’ Aristotle, he
    condemns ‘modern intellectuals’ for endorsing ideas ungrounded in reality.  

    This is one of those times when I wish characters from books were real, because I’d send Charlotte, the main character of a book a read a few days ago, to have a word. In the book there’s a crime boss who wants a power that she possesses and he attempts to macho impress her into working for him instead of another guy.

    “See, the problem with Richard is that he doesn’t know howto treat a woman. You have to take care of a woman properly. A woman is like a horse.”

    Dawn Mother, not one of those. “How so?”

    “When you want to tame a horse, you offer her an apple. She has to get used to your sent and your delicious apples before she’ll let you put a bridle on her. Soon, if you ignore her, she’ll follow you for a handout. If you keep bringing her treats eventually she’ll let you ride her.”

    Mhm…

    “All I’m saying is that I have plenty of apples. You should give it some thought. You’d like my apples.”

    Charlotte leaned closer to him. “Jason, whoever told you this nonsense isn’t your friend. Women are not horses, or dogs, or cats. We’re human beings, and the sooner you figure that out, the less likely you will wake up with Miko’s knife in your throat.”

    He stared at her.

    “You asked me what I wanted. I want to crush the slave trade. Having a fling with you doesn’t appeal to me. You’re handsome, but you’re too inexperienced and too arrogant to be good in bed. Having ridden many horses doesn’t make you a good rider; it just proves that you can’t recognize a good one or don’t know how to keep her. You’re too young for me, and in ten years, when you improve, I will be too old for you. So let’s not speak of this again.”

  • Demonhype

     That is an AWESOME clip, Lori!  Especially that last paragraph!

    Please tell me what book that is?

  • Lori

    It’s called Steel’s Edge by Ilona Andrews (last in a 4 book fantasy series)

  • AnonymousSam

    I can’t speak as to other people, but my version of being a moderate is to believe that abortion should be readily accessible, relatively cheap, and with as few hoops to jump through as possible — while also believing that the value of a fetus is not as black and white as necessity of argument demands it be presented. However, I believe this fear applies more to the possible future than to the present day. I don’t have time to discuss it at the moment though, and also don’t want to derail the thread unnecessarily.

  • Francis Dickinson

    Probably.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people thought that Plan B
    and RU-486 were the same drug.  I only know they’re not because it was
    one of the few things NRL actually bothered to tell the truth about.

    Nope.  They think Ella and RU-486 are the same drug.  (For the record Ella, as well as preventing ovulation prevents the egg opening to receive the sperm which is why it’s more effective for longer than Plan B – but gives a risk of the egg implanting later in the cycle if contraception fails again.

    And someone will point out that there are, in fact, many pro-lifers whose
    number 1 priority is reducing poverty among women and whose number 2
    priority is making sure everyone has access to and knows how to use
    contraceptives. But they’re not as loud as the other lot, and the other
    lot exist so we’ll continue to assert that they’re ALL the same.

    Where are these people?  Show me they exist in significant numbers.  Especially those with that number 2 priority.  Show me the “Condoms and the pill because we are pro-life” marketing campaign.    Because I know there are a few people who are both pro-life and anti-poverty, but everything I’ve seen makes me think they are either Catholic (and anti-contraception) or extremely marginal.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Where
    are these people? Show me they exist in significant numbers. Especially those
    with that number 2 priority. Show me the “Condoms and the pill because we
    are pro-life” marketing campaign. Because I know there are a few people
    who are both pro-life and anti-poverty, but everything I’ve seen makes me think
    they are either Catholic (and anti-contraception) or extremely
    marginal.

    Yeah, Catholics.
     What I’m talking about is the most
    commonly held viewpoint among the many practicing Catholics I know.

    I assume you
    meant “Catholics (and therefore anti-contraception)”,
    because otherwise it reads as if Catholics, like extremely marginal groups, can
    be dismissed. But the large majority of Catholics are not, in fact,
    anti-contraception. I thought that was pretty much universal knowledge at this
    point.

    If creating and
    personally supporting marketing campaigns is the only valid form of activism
    then I suspect most people who read this blog, on all sides, can be dismissed.
    I’ll be at the top of that list. Of all the things I can spend my time and
    money on, advertising campaigns are way, way down the list.

    Of the group I’m
    referring to, the largest number probably take action through the same
    mechanism as many others here: they vote for political candidates whose
    policies will reduce poverty and improve access to healthcare (especially for women
    and children); they don’t vote for those who might reduce access to
    contraception and other forms of healthcare; and they talk to people they know
    about why these are important issues.

    Others I know
    are more deeply involved, in ways that are arguably much more effective
    than giving large sums of money to an advertising company. They belong to community
    groups, charities, political parties etc and work at the grassroots to make
    these things happen. They are politicians themselves, and bring their perspective
    to caucus discussions and votes. They raise money or give time to organisations
    that support women in need. They get involved in their local school to make
    sure contraception is covered well in the curriculum. They try to show the “ban
    abortion” folks what a terrible idea that policy is. And within the church,
    there are a hell of a lot of us—laity, nuns, priests and bishops—arguing from Catholic
    theology for change to the church’s stance wrt contraception.

    These are
    personal anecdotes so anyone who wants to believe that I’m making it all up can
    continue to do so. There’s nothing I can do to prove to everyone’s satisfaction
    that I’m talking about a group that really does exist. I have heard from this
    community, though, that it’s incredibly exclusive to tell people they don’t
    exist, or that they don’t exist in sufficiently large numbers to deserve their
    existence to be acknowledged. I thought that sounded like a pretty decent
    universal principle.


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