Legalize Abortion…And the Rate Goes Down

Abortions in Minnesota, 1975-2010

Here in Minnesota, the Department of Health recently reported that in 2010, we had the lowest number of abortions since they started keeping track [PDF report].  It’s a drop of 19% in just four years, and almost half of the high in 1980.

That caused the last hospital in the Twin Cities that offers abortion to stop providing them:

Regions Hospital in St. Paul said Friday that it will stop performing elective abortions after Dec. 9, when it closes its reproductive GYN Special Services Clinic.

The hospital said it reached the decision because the number of abortions has been falling for years and other clinics in the Twin Cities provide similar services. Abortion opponents, however, said their years of protests forced the action.

In spite of the protestations of those protesters, health officials agree that the abortion rate has dropped primarily because contraception has been destigmatized and contraceptives are readily available, and secondly because young women have been educated in public schools about avoiding unwanted pregnancies.

To those who fear that same sex marriage will somehow weaken their own heterosexual marriage, I think this is a learning moment.  First, destigmatizing a former social stigma — be it contraception or gay marriage — often results in the very opposite effect than the most vocal opponents assume.

And second, people want to do the thing that is good and right.  Women don’t want to get abortions.  And even of us who think that a woman should have a right to determine what medical procedures are performed on her body, we don’t like abortion either.

The same sex couples I know aren’t out to destroy what we mean by “marriage.”  In fact, they’re not even out to redefine it.  They’re actually hoping to slide into the definition of marriage that heterosexual couples have attempted to live up to for generations: that of affection, commitment, and love.

A therapist once told me that issues like this are like “Chinese handcuffs”: the harder you pull, the tighter they get.  But if you just relent, and give a little toward the other side, the whole systems is more livable for everyone.

  • http://www.faithpermeatinglife.com Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life

    I’ve made the argument previously that efforts to make abortion illegal aren’t actually the best way to reduce the number of abortions. It’s nice to know there’s some data to back up my thoughts!

  • http://bobhyatt.me Bob Hyatt

    I think you mean -legalize *contraceptives* and abortion goes down. And with *that* statement I agree.

    Legalizing abortion made the abortion rate skyrocket- compare the numbers pre and post Roe V Wade.

    But how far do you want to take this? Legalize prostitution and the rate of women selling their bodies for sex goes down?
    Legalize rape and the incidences of sexual assault plummet?

    At a certain point we draw a line in the sand not on pragmatics but on right and wrong.

    I’d say we ought to oppose the murder of unborn children on the face of it.

    • http://www.faithpermeatinglife.com Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life

      “Legalizing abortion made the abortion rate skyrocket- compare the numbers pre and post Roe V Wade.”
      We have no way of knowing how many actual abortions there were before Roe v. Wade because they were primarily done in secret.

      Do you know the number one cause of death among pregnant women before Roe v. Wade? Botched abortions.

      Making abortion illegal doesn’t mean there are fewer abortions. It just means the abortions are done secretly and more dangerously.

      • http://bobhyatt.me Bob Hyatt

        There’s no one who believes that the pre-Roe V Wade number of abortions came anywhere close to the 1.5 million annually that we were averaging just shortly after.

        Of course making abortions illegal means there are fewer of them- there’s a huge section of women who would never, ever consider a back-alley abortion. Most women are smarter than that and have better support systems.
        And now, with the social stigma of teen motherhood and single parenting gone? No one can credibly make the case that we would ever return to the days of *large* numbers of women seeking illegal abortions.

        • http://www.faithpermeatinglife.com Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life

          “No one can credibly make the case that we would ever return to the days of *large* numbers of women seeking illegal abortions.”

          You’re right, we wouldn’t–for exactly the reasons Tony mentioned: “contraception has been destigmatized and contraceptives are readily available, and secondly because young women have been educated in public schools about avoiding unwanted pregnancies.”

          So why are so many of the same people who call for abortion to be made illegal again also trying to push for abstinence-only education? That’s what drives me nuts.

          • Frank

            Sexuality was created to be enjoyed within the holy covenant of marriage. Encouraging anything else is encouraging people to sin. Yes we should educate our youth about sexuality, prevention, disease, pregnancy, all with the goal of raising up abstinence as the best choice. So while I do not personally agree that youth should ONLY be taught about abstinence, abstinence should be the most taught about and the most encouraged and recommended solution.

            Abstinence works!

            “This week, the media gave us what appeared to be startling news: Research, appearing in a journal published by the American Medical Association, showed (shock!) that abstinence programs dramatically reduced teen sexual activity.

            No one knowledgeable about abstinence education, however, would find this startling. In fact, eleven previous sound studies showed strong positive effects from abstinence programs. The mainstream media simply ignored them. Unfortunately, the most recent story came too late — President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have already terminated the federal government’s abstinence programs.”

            http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123401144

          • ccym

            Jessica, I can see why that would drive you nuts. It’s because the whole problem is not being presented.

            We have to remember as children created in the image of God we possess a dignity that animals do not have. A human being can choose to not have sex, whereas an animal is subject to instinct alone. Are we just male and female or men and women (human beings) ? Are we simply descendants of apes, or decendents of a King?

            In his prophetic encyclical, Humanae Vitae, delivered on 7/25/68, Pope Paul VI warned about the consquences of contraception – adultery, divorce, an increase in aberrant sex/homosexuality, abortion – and we can see that this has all come to pass.

            When we can have sex without consequences, we become more like animals and less like men and women who have the ability to choose. That’s why abstinence is important to teach our children until they are in a sacramental marriage.

  • Frank

    The less abortions there are the better but…

    Since the legalization of abortion in 1973, there have been approximately 50 million abortions performed in the United States.

    Source: Guttmacher Institute, 2011, August. Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States. [PDF]

  • michael bowers

    I was a little sadden to read this post. I usually keep in touch with whatTony has to say because he, along with a few others, help keep me balanced in my theology. But the idea of legalizing abortion in order to lower the rates is a bit of a reach it seems. The technology that we posses now is so drastically different than that of just a few short years ago. If people have not seen one before, try googling “3D ultrasound” – I think many of those who think “woman should have a right to determine what medical procedures are performed on her body” may realized abortion is one of the most selfish acts known to mankind. Pretty unChristlike. Too bad that amoung sisters and brothers we have to even debate if it’s right or wrong to end the life of unborn children.

    • http://www.faithpermeatinglife.com Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life

      “Too bad that amoung sisters and brothers we have to even debate if it’s right or wrong to end the life of unborn children.”
      I don’t think that’s the question. The question is, if abortions are bad, then what are the strategies and policies that are going to lead to fewer abortions? Simply coming down with a judgment that says abortions are wrong doesn’t mean there won’t be abortions. So we need to look at the evidence we have for what leads to fewer abortions, and go that route.

      • http://bobhyatt.me Bob Hyatt

        And my point is that Tony hasn’t provided that. His title and the article don’t match. Legalizing abortions hasn’t led to fewer abortions (just look at the chart at the top of the page! See the curve there at the beginning)- making contraceptives readily available and destigmatizing them has.

        As the son of a woman who was unwed and 18 when she got pregnant I can attest to a couple of things. 1. No one is downplaying the difficulty of women caught in that circumstance- it’s not an easy place to be by any stretch. and 2. There are two “bodies” there- two beating hearts, two blood types, two distinct sets of dna- two human beings.
        My mom was urged to consider abortion- I’m glad she didn’t, because if she had chosen that procedure it might have taken place in her body, but it would have taken place on mine- and it would have ended my life.
        Tony, you need to rethink the logic of this post- I know the point you are trying to make about gay marriage (and we see that a little differently), but the logic doesn’t hold up. Your title Legalize abortion, and the rate goes down” and then you post a chart that shows the exact opposite. Look at the rate of abortions through the 70′s post Roe V Wade. I’ll agree that there are a lot of reasons why the rate has been falling- among them contraceptives, etc. But let’s not discount the fact that more and more people (with the help of the technology mentioned above) are realizing that abortion is NOT simply a matter of a woman’s own body, but a matter of her body and that of her unborn child.
        I’m glad to hear that you don’t “like” abortion… I’d like to see you take that sentiment further. Why not? We should either embrace it or discourage it- and we should do those things with various means, including legal ones.
        I don’t like infanticide either. And outlawing it hasn’t stopped it. But imagine if it were legal? Would we see the rate drop? Of course not.
        I’m not for outlawing abortion outright. But I am for continuing to promote a culture of life, and continuing to chip away at Roe V Wade, with a view towards someday having getting back to that place where our laws and our values match.

        And not to, you know, get too spiritual here- but the ultimate Kingdom ethic and reality will not include abortion. The first Christians were counter-cultural not just in their stand for the poor and oppressed, for equality and one-ness in the body of Christ, but against the prevailing Greco-Roman practices of abortion and infanticide. They understood where this Kingdom of Jesus was taking the world and they leaned heavily in that direction.
        I want us to do the same…

        • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

          I’m with you, Bob. I want abortions to decrease to non-existence. I also think, as I have argued many times on this blog, that Christian theology does not always make good public policy. I think that this is one of those instances.

        • JoeyS

          One caveat – Roman Catholics, who are some of the most vocal pro-lifers, believe that contraception is, in fact, abortive. This complicates the issue because they are not pro-contraceptives which seem to reduce the number of abortions dramatically.

  • Lauren

    For those who are anti-choice for the purpose of purportedly being “pro-life”, I ask you–do you have a problem with fertility treatment? There are tens of thousands of frozen embryos that will be either destroyed or kept on ice until “parents” can decide what the heck to do with them. Are you ready to adopt them all?

    To be truly pro-life, as Jessica mentioned, one should be for the right of legal abortion so that women (who are alive, with actual existing lives) can be saved from gruesome and inhumane deaths.

  • Frank

    Pro-Life is “for life”, nothing more nothing less. Once conception takes place life is created. Now people argue about whether it’s a human at that point or not but no one can intelligently disagree that it’s life. So once a woman becomes pregnant there are two lives at stake. One completely innocent. The other, unless raped, made choices that resulted in pregnancy. Sorry I care more for the innocent life and that life deserves our protection.

    • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

      Hang on a second here. My own overall position is that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare,” but there is a lot of room for discussion around just what it is we want to ban when we’re banning abortion(s) of one kind or another. I think Frank’s position is an attempt to cut the Gordian knot and just say, “life is life, doesn’t matter if its pre or post implantation.”

      But “life is life” apart from the question “what is a person in a morally relevant sense” gets us into all sorts of problems. Cancer is life, but nobody believes cancer is a person. Therefore I have no moral obligations to cancer growing in my body, despite the fact that it is “alive.” No one would credibly state that a “pro-life” position requires that. Or again, pro-life in the “life is life” sense of the term would seem to prevent the consumption of any living matter for nutrition. But that’s impossible. So the question is not “is it alive” but “is it alive in a morally relevant way that extracts some obligation from me.”

      I think there is a good case to be made against any abortion that takes place “post-implantation,” though that’s not my position. But the only reason that its possible to make that case is based on the assumption that “personhood” is somehow derived from the category of “having been conceived,” and conception doesn’t really apply as a category until after implantation in the uterus. One can make the case that “conception” is when the sperm meets the egg as well, but to make any of these cases, it’s not enough to know that the fertilized egg is “alive” or even “human life.” The question at stake is whether it is human life to which I am morally obligated, which I am not under any and all circumstances — e.g., cancer.

      • Frank

        Your analogy fails in that cancer left unchecked will never grow into a separate human life.

        As another poster stated; the Kingdom of Jesus and abortion can never occupy the same space.

        • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

          Frank,

          So then “life is life” doesn’t quite get to it. An embryo that fails to implant in a uterine wall will also never grow into a separate human life. My point is that you need (not you personally, but “one”) to do a lot more reflection on what life is or isn’t morally relevant to the discussion. These discussions are too often short circuited by hasty generalizations and the failure to think things through.

          That said, I can’t agree with a statement as absolute as yours or the other posters that “The Kingdom of Jesus and abortion can never occupy the same space.” Abortion is shorthand for an array of medical procedures, and in some cases, those procedures are not only medically necessary but can contribute to the possibility of healing and grace. When a woman undergoes a D&C after a miscarriage, that is necessary for her health, and is the beginning of a process of moving forward after loss, which is absolutely a space where the Kingdom of Jesus can occupy.

          • Frank

            Fair enough Scott on the rare medical necessity of certain medical procedures.

            Let me restate: The choice of abortion, unless under certain conditions determined by a medical professional, and the Kingdom of Jesus cannot occupy the same space.

          • Scot Miller

            Frank, you do realize that by qualifying your position on abortion, you are admitting that at least some abortions are morally permissible (or, using your language, some abortions actually occupy the same space occupied by the Kingdom of Jesus). So the claim “All abortions are immoral” is false, since at least some (e.g., miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, etc.) are not the moral equivalent of murder.

            As far as your (now qualified) contention that a Christian can’t be pro-choice, the Bible is ambiguous at best on the moral status of a fetus, so it overstates the case to say that the Bible unequivocally rejects abortion. Abortion is never mentioned in scripture, so conclusions about the Bible’s position on abortion are inferences. For example, passages like Ps. 139:13-16, Jer, 1:4-5, and even Luke 1:40-44 have been used to assert that the Bible regards the unborn as fully human. On the other hand, Talmudic interpretation of Gen. 2:7 suggests that souls are not present in human beings until they draw breath, and Ex. 21:22-25 argues that there can be a “miscarriage, and yet no harm follows…,” which suggests that the unborn are potentially human, but not actually human. So reasonable Christians may disagree about when abortions are morally permissible (although no reasonable person could seriously claim that “All abortions are immoral”).

            Let me recommend the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (http://www.rcrc.org/) if you want to understand how Christians (and non-Christians) can be pro-choice.

          • Frank

            Scot you are free to interpret certain scriptural passages as you wish. But the bible is clear that God values all life highly. If you choose to split hairs to satisfy a reprehensible choice that is your business but there is no scriptural case that God would condone abortion. In fact the following I think shows us how God values the unborn:

            “Did not He who made me in the womb make him, And the same one fashion us in the womb? (Job 31:15)

            Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon Thee I was cast from birth; Thou hast been my God from my mother’s womb. (Psalm 22:9-10)

            For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)

            Thus says the LORD who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you, `Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen. (Isaiah 44:2)

            Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself, And spreading out the earth all alone, (Isaiah 44:24)

          • Frank

            My qualification is simply a concession that there MIGHT be a grey area in regards to the protection of the life of the mother.

          • Scot Miller

            Frank — I’m glad that you agree that at least some abortions are morally permissible (or at least you don’t disagree with that claim). But I have to take exception with your claim, “If you choose to split hairs to satisfy a reprehensible choice that is your business but there is no scriptural case that God would condone abortion.

            Perhaps, but God certainly seems to condone infanticide:

            Psalm 137:9:
            Happy shall he be who requites you
            with what you have done to us!
            Happy shall he be who takes your little ones
            and dashes them against the rock!”

            Deuteronomy 3:3-6:
            “So the Lord our God gave into our hand Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people; and we smote him until no survivor was left to him. And we took all his cities at that time—there was not a city which we did not take from them—sixty cities, the whole region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All these were cities fortified with high walls, gates, and bars, besides very many unwalled villages. And we utterly destroyed them, as we did to Sihon the king of Heshbon, destroying every city, men, women, and children. But all the cattle and the spoil of the cities we took as our booty.”

            1 Samuel 15:1-3:
            “And Samuel said to Saul, ‘The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore hearken to the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, “I will punish what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way, when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and women, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”’”

            So the Bible teaches that I should be against abortion, but I should support the infanticide of God’s enemies? Maybe not….

            Of course, I reject the idea that God approves of infanticide. But in order to do so, I have to come to terms with the historical context of the scripture, why it came into being, what it is expressing. I have to interpret these texts. Of course, the same has to be said of the scriptures you quote (and I quoted). Maybe they’re not as straightforward as you think.

            For me, the issue isn’t “life” but “personhood.” Life is morally neutral (i.e., life can be good, bad, or indifferent), but “personhood” is not. I have duties to persons that I may not have to non-persons. If something is on the way to personhood (e.g., a fetus), it is only potentially human. The later the pregnancy, the more personlike the fetus becomes. So I think early term abortions aren’t the moral equivalent of late term abortions, which are always morally problematic.

          • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

            Let me just note that I’m not sure that “The Kingdom of Jesus” is necessarily the same space as the space of that which is only “morally permissible” By my lights, “the Kingdom of Jesus” is the realm of grace, forgiveness, healing and transcendence, and in that regard is a much higher realm than that of the merely morally permissible.

          • Frank

            Scot while God does seem to advocate violence at times and in certain situations in the OT I don’t think that simply because God is allowed to make that choice we are are also allowed to make that choice. Taken as a whole I don’t think anyone can argue that God is pro-life and considers it life even in the womb.

            Once again people can try and justify abortion to let themselves off the hook but abortion has no place in the Kingdom of Jesus.

            All that being said I am pro-choice. We have free will and have the freedom to make both the moral and immoral choices in life. What God has given us, man should not try and take away.

          • Frank

            Scott, I agree with:

            ““the Kingdom of Jesus” is the realm of grace, forgiveness, healing and transcendence, and in that regard is a much higher realm than that of the merely morally permissible.”

            Grace, forgiveness, healing and transcendence can only occur if we agree we need those things. So anyone who chooses to have an abortion, especially if it’s not medically necessary, would have to admit that it was a sin to receive the Kingdom of Jesus and “sin no more.”

          • Scot Miller

            Scott– also like how you characterize the “Kingdom of Jesus.” Sounds to me like it’s big enough to include me.

            Frank — We may actually agree in practice more than we do in theory. I want to be clear that I don’t think all abortions are morally permissible, but I do think that early-term abortions are less problematic than late term abortions. The later the abortion, the stronger the moral justification for abortion. Moreover, since there are too many plausible justifications for abortion (e.g., ectopic pregnancy, other medical/health issues), and the state is a terrible physician, it is better to leave abortions legal.

  • http://rossbanister.blogspot.com Ross Banister

    Same principle has been shown true in countries that have de-criminalized using drugs (not selling, manufacturing). It has been shown throughout history that we cannot legalize morality successfully.

  • http://bobhyatt.me Bob Hyatt

    Can;’t legalize morality? No one is asking to. This isn’t about legalizing morality- it’s about applying the same protections of life and due process to a baby that’s 6 inches up the birth canal as to one that’s 6 inches down it. Is it “legislating morality” to criminalize rape or child abuse? I don’t see anyone arguing with that. This is qualitatively no different than the state saying to a parent: “No, you may not beat your child bloody with a stick as discipline- even though you believe it is YOUR child to discipline as you see fit, that is a separate person with distinct human, not to mention legal rights.”

    Some of the language used around this is so silly. “Safe, legal and rare”??

    Look- if this is permissible, why should we care if it’s “rare”? How much do we care about the frequency or rarity of a tonsilectomy? Why would we- if someone wants to have their tonsils out, and their doctor thinks it’s a good idea- great.
    But just the fact that even proponents say that want it to be “rare” tells me it belongs in a different category.
    If it’s just a woman’s body- fine. Let it be as frequent as it needs to be- who cares?
    But apparently, we have an innate sense that it’s not- that the second beating heart is more than a clump of cells and deserves more than to be disposed of as medical waste. Again, if not- why care that it’s “rare”?
    And if there’s any moral dubiousness about it at all, any question at all- let’s go ahead and err non the side of life. I think the same argument can be made (and is made) of the death penalty.

    But let’s try it in other places and see if it works: I think beating a child should be safe, legal and rare.
    I think the kidnapping and extortion should be safe, legal and rare.
    I think sexual assault should be safe, legal and rare.
    It’s clear- if an act is immoral (such as taking the life of an unborn child), making it safe and legal is insanity… and certainly wouldn’t do anything towards making it “rare.”

    Back to the original thesis of the argument here: Legal and rare don’t correlate and nothing in Tony’s argument proves that they do. In fact, I think his chart shows just the opposite…

    • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

      Since I’m the one who invoked the “safe, legal, and rare” language, I suppose I should reply on this front. I’m sorry if you find it silly, but it reflects, I think a very important insight into the ambiguity of abortion even under the best of circumstances. So, let me clarify:

      Abortion should be safe because we expect any medical procedure to be safe. Similarly, it should be legal because in the era before legalized abortions, there was no way to garauntee that abortions were being carried out in a way that was sanitary and medically appropriate. Most pro-choice people of whatever disposition are pro-choice precisely because they affirm these first two principles. This much, I suppose is pretty clear, even if you disagree with the premises.

      But then you ask, “if this is permissible, why should we care if it’s ‘rare’?” Well, there are a few reasons why we should care that it’s rare. First of all, let’s be clear on what the language of moral permissibility implies. Something is morally permissible not because it is in any sense ideal, but because in the concrete situation it is allowable. There are lots of things that may be allowable from a moral perspective that are nevertheless far from ideal. I think that even among most pro-choice people, it is clear that abortion is always AT BEST a fallback position. Nobody WANTS to find themselves in a position where they are contemplating an abortion. No one says “you know what I could really go for right now? An abortion!”

      Abortions come about because of some form of failure — either a failure to use contraception or to use it properly, or a failure in the health or wellbeing of the woman carrying the child, or a failure of the healthcare system, or a failure of relationships, or a failure in the viability of the fetus, or some other failure along the way. Thus, abortion is always the result of something going awry. In that sense, one would hope abortions would be rare because one would hope that the circumstances that give rise to the perceived need for an abortion would become rare. This is why I can’t agree with Tony that he would like to see the number of abortions decline to zero. Except perhaps in an eschatological sense, there will never be a set of circumstances where some pregnancies don’t arise from or result in the kind of failure that could give rise to an abortion. But one can recognize abortion as being morally permissible in a number of cases without thinking that there is anything good about abortions per se.

      That said, again, if we allow for the tragic in our understanding of the reproductive process, and allow for the permissibility of abortion when one form of tragedy or another arises, then we want to say that, when those circumstances arise, of course abortion should be safe and legal. The final issue then becomes who gets to make the decision about when the circumstances arise when abortion is appropriate? For many people who are against abortion, they clearly want that to be the purview of the state (while at the same time often militating for “limited government”). I, on the other hand, want it to be in the hands of the woman, her partner, and her doctor, as those most competent to judge the particular circumstances of the pregnancy.

      Hope this helps.

      • Scot Miller

        Well said.

  • nnmns

    There are some serious misconceptions here.

    First, the Bible is errant. That’s widely known, indeed whole websites are devoted to listing errors and contradictions found in the Bible. So any morality people think they find in the Bible is likely to be errant also. Just for example people justified slavery based on the Bible. And of course if you do revere the Bible you need to be aware abortion is never mentioned in the Bible. Not once. Did God actually hate abortion but forget to mention it in His instruction book?! Do you believe in a god that sloppy?

    Second, a zygote is not a human, a blastocyst is not a human, an embryo is not a human, a fetus is approaching being physically a human. There is a place to draw the line on giving full human rights against termination and that place is at birth. Doing it at conception is utterest nonsense and would not be considered seriously but for the widespread propaganda generated by some religions and beaten into a lot of people’s heads. It is in fact quite reasonable to give increasing protection to the zygote-blastocyst-embryo-fetus, just as Roe v. Wade allows. It is not reasonable in any sense to give a few cells the same rights a person has. Even some earlier popes recognized the concept of “quickening”.

    It’s an insult to women to make her rights subservient to the invented rights of a group of cells, but not surprising since those who invented the “rights” were men, originally men without families. And indeed it’s both women and often their families who suffer when abortion is needed and not available.

    So let’s consider the insubstantiality of religious proscriptions on abortion and the common sense that zbef’s are developing slowly into people but do not start out as people and during that process they do not deserve the legal protections of their lives that we bestow on people. But as they get closer to being people they deserve more protection. Then let’s admit Roe v. Wade was very well decided.

    • C. Ehrlich

      nnms pretty much states my own beliefs. I am always hoping for opportunities to reason with pro-lifers, but they don’t seem to invite this (I would be very happy to learn otherwise). I know its a touchy subject for a lot of people, and I can understand that, but I really wish there were more opportunities to directly discuss with pro-lifers their questionable convictions and forms of reasoning.

      Any suggestions?

      • Frank

        If you are looking for questionable convictions and forms of reasoning look at the post directly above yours. It’s a classic example.

        • nnmns

          Frank can you back up your slur? Details?

          • Frank

            Sure! But it might lead to opening this discussion a bit.

            You state the bible is errant. Instead of rehashing positions you can read “The Bible Made Impossible Threads.”

            You state scientific beliefs about what life may or not be but that is irrelevant to what God believes life is or is not. The bible clearly states its life in the womb.

            When a human conceives there is no chance that the cells will become anything but a human being if left alone, barring any trauma or biological missteps. So while its convenient to label it simply as a bunch of cells to alleviate personal responsibility and moral consequences, it is and will be a human and nothing else.

            The women herself has chosen to be responsible for the life she has helped create through her choices (outside of rape). When sexual union occurs she has already made a choice and should live by that choice and not make an innocent life pay for her irresponsibility or unfortunate circumstances (failed birth control, etc.). It’s insulting to God to take away life that God created not to mention cruel and unusual punishment for the innocent baby to be.

          • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

            Frank, everything you’ve written here is mere argument by assertion. And really it can’t be otherwise. You’re not trying to reach a conclusion, you’re stating your premises. But that makes any argument you might make about abortion ultimately an act of question begging and circular reasoning. Your conclusions will always just be a reassertion of your premises.

          • Frank

            Not at all Scott. I was simply showing how the opposing position really has nothing to stand on except strictly human/secular reasoning, and a poor and selfish reasoning at that.

            The conclusion is a simple one: value life in all it’s forms as opposed to “value life only when it’s convenient or only when we choose to.”

          • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

            How is it you believe you’ve shown that? Because I haven’t seen that at all in what you’ve written. Spell it out for me in a non-circular way.

      • Scot Miller

        Instead of dealing with the actual arguments (like nnmns offered), I find that strident anti-abortionists don’t really like to address the arguments. Instead, they assert that they are right and anybody who disagrees is wrong or mistaken or accuses them of having “questionable convictions and forms of reasoning” and other ad hominems. (Gosh, I love it when someone points out an error in my reasoning! Then I can revise my argument so it will not suffer from that error.) But instead of engaging in real arguments, anti-abortionists are attached to their dogmatic beliefs, and when confronted with evidence, they cling to dogma rather than revise their beliefs based on better arguments.

        On a side note, I think it is actually empirically more accurate to call opponents to abortion “anti-abortionists” rather than “pro-lifers”, since they don’t really seem to care much about life after it is born. You would think that anti-abortionists would be as concerned with the well-being of babies after they are born than they seem to be before they were born. They should be the strongest advocates for children’s health, education, literacy, shelter, food, etc., but they tend to be the same folks who want to lower taxes and to slash the social safety net.

  • nnmns

    Scot (and Scott), well put. To a great extent the anti-abortionists have a lot more concern for the “innocent” babies they imagine to be in all those wombs than they do for the real babies that are born. And the ones that oppose effective birth control show real contempt for women and logic.

    Take the argument that “The women herself has chosen to be responsible for the life she has helped create through her choices” we just saw. First, nothing was said about the man. It takes one of each and if Frank were serious he’d be on his high horse to force the fathers to be found and to be hauled into court to get as much support as possible for the mother and child. But no, not a word about the father. And what if the woman chose to not get pregnant but whatever method she and her partner used didn’t work that time. She certainly didn’t choose to be responsible for a pregnancy she was trying to avoid.

    • Frank

      Way to dodge the issue while bringing up different, albeit related issues. But let me answer:

      No one is suggesting ignoring the needs of the already born. Caring for the born and unborn are not mutually exclusive. We can and should do both.

      A man is just as responsible, I agree, yet would you let a man make the choice about his child in the womb? Would you let a man decide to keep the child even if you wouldn’t want to or would you say “it’s my body, it’s my choice”? You see you can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim the absolute choice and then cry “where’s the man?” A father has just as much responsibility and I would love to see men held accountable.

      Sex is a choice. Birth control is a choice. It is not 100% and any responsible person knows that. So when you have sex using birth control there is a possibility that it will not work and you should be prepared for that along with the consequences. The idea that a child should be terminated because of a faulty piece of latex is unconscionable.

  • nnmns

    Frank you want to deny most or all abortions. You need to be campaigning just as hard to get fathers identified and forced to support the mothers-to-be and children of their acts. But you’re not doing that, you’re claiming falsely that the women chose to support children they didn’t even intend. If you expect and demand the women to support those children you need to expect and demand just as loudly the men involved support the women and the children.

    Oh, and people die because of faulty equipment of one sort or another regularly so the idea a blastocyst that was never intended would be terminated because of faulty latex is quite reasonable.

    • Frank

      Reasonable to you perhaps. How terribly sad….

      I am not campaigning for anything I was simply responding initially to Tony’s false presupposition and then to other posters comments.

    • Frank

      And people who die due to faulty equipment is different than killing someone after the fact, independently of the faulty equipment. Do you have other straws you want to grasp?

  • nnmns

    Claiming you won an argument is far different than winning one. You never even addressed the falsehoods in the Bible. And I didn’t even point out, but will now, that there is zero independent confirmation for the miracles your religion is built on. If they had happened some of them would have been recorded by some independent commentator. None was. Heck if your god really existed and wanted to be believed in it could have arranged for those miracles to have been recorded in records never passing through hands of believers wanting to support their faith. But it never happened.

    There’s no foundation for your beliefs, but you want to use them to control other people’s lives.

    • Frank

      Nice dodge but then again you really have no moral ground to stand on so what choice do you have?

      • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

        I’m not really sure how someone pointing out that you aren’t really presenting arguments for a position, but simply stating it, constitutes a dodge. I’m perfectly comfortable recognizing that your opposition to abortion is not based on anything else, but a free-standing position that you hold. You seem to think it’s the conclusion of an argument that any reasonable person can hold, but it’s not.

        On the contrary, many of us who are pro-choice are pro-choice as a result of other positions we hold (e.g., that the a woman’s body is not someone else’s property, that there is no medical or philosophical basis for the assertion that a zygote is a person, etc.). If you could establish that those other positions are wrong, you could convince us that you might be right on abortion. But instead, you simply retreat to assertion, thus guaranteeing that your position is not given serious consideration but those who have well-thoughout out positions on the other side.


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