Inhuman

Inhuman July 20, 2006

Let me repeat this in blunter terms.

Here is what President Bush said yesterday in defense of his veto of Rep. Mike Castle's bill allowing federal funding of embryonic stem cell research:

This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others. It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect, so I vetoed it. …

Embryonic stem cells come from human embryos that are destroyed for their cells. Each of these human embryos is a unique human life with inherent dignity and matchless value. …

This is nonsense.

1. Countless thousands of frozen human embryos are regularly destroyed at fertility clinics.

2. President Bush claims to believe that these embryos are human lives "with inherent dignity and matchless value."

3. Therefore, President Bush has vetoed a bill that would have allowed the federal government to fund research that would use some few of these thousands of frozen embryos for research, instead of their being destroyed along with the many other thousands of embryos.

4. If No. 2 above were true, No. 3 would be an obscenely modest response. No one who genuinely believed what President Bush claims to believe could possibly be satisfied with such a response.

5. Therefore, President Bush is lying, or he does not fully understand the inescapable moral obligation demanded by his position, or he does not care about the inescapable moral obligation demanded by his position. He is a liar, a fool or a casual bystander whose inaction implicitly endorses what he believes is mass murder.

"There is no ban on embryonic stem cell research," President Bush said yesterday.

Why not? Why is he not actively, tirelessly campaigning for just such a ban?

If he truly believed that such research involved "the taking of innocent human life," then he would be obligated to stop it using every means at his disposal. "I won't fund it, but it's fine if others do," doesn't cut it. All such funding, all such research, would have to be outlawed — with severe criminal penalties for the mass-murdering Mengeles who violated this ban. The fertility clinics, also, would have to be shut down. The innocent human lives imprisoned in their liquid-nitrogen charnel houses would have to be made wards of the state until such time as they could all — in their many thousands — be placed into snowflake foster care.

I am not suggesting that this is what President Bush's position implies taken to its logical extreme. This is what it demands as a bare minimum response. It is not possible, in any meaningful way, to believe that embryonic stem cell research is "the taking of innocent human life" unless you also advocate all of these steps.

President Bush does not advocate any of these steps. If he is not a liar then he is a fool or a monster. There is no fourth option.


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128 responses to “Inhuman”

  1. If he is not a liar then he is a fool or a monster.
    How about all three?
    There is no fourth option.
    But if there was, I think it would be “asshole”.

  2. This whole thing makes me curious. Do these anti-stem-cell-research types believe in souls? Or just cells?

  3. Absolutely damn right. Has any administration in history depended so totally on the stupidity of its base?

  4. My money is on fool. Bush strikes me as just being hopelessly dumb. He’s just not smart, and he honestly doesn’t mind not being smart. He’s rich, so he doesn’t HAVE to be smart. This is why the smart people, who are evil, have hired him as their front. The Republican party is very interested in a dumb populace, with their anti-science, anti-intellect, anti-curiosity campaign. So once they made a country that wanted dumb, goofy leaders, they had to find a dumb goofy leader to give them, who hopefully wouldn’t screw up too much while they were busy looting and pillaging the world. Enter George W. Bush, who’s never had the tiniest spark of intellectual curiosity. Bush only believes what he’s told to believe, or whatever he thinks makes him into a charming, religious, important person.

  5. My money is on fool. Bush strikes me as just being hopelessly dumb.
    I beg to disagree with you, Dave. Idiots don’t get undergraduate degrees from Yale and MBAs from Harvard. He saw how well the “Aw shucks” persona worked for Reagan, and he’s playing it for all he’s worth.

  6. The fertility clinics, also, would have to be shut down.
    Nah, too many Good Evangelicals trying to have kids like God commands.
    Although in The Evil One’s defense, not funding something you disagree with but otherwise staying out of it (like destroying embryos) isn’t a horribly inconsistent position in the abstract.

  7. I beg to disagree with you, Dave. Idiots don’t get undergraduate degrees from Yale and MBAs from Harvard. He saw how well the “Aw shucks” persona worked for Reagan, and he’s playing it for all he’s worth.
    From what I’ve seen, I doubt the intelligence required to get those things rather than doubting the dumbness of the man who has them.

  8. This is what it demands as a bare minimum response. It is not possible, in any meaningful way, to believe that embryonic stem cell research is “the taking of innocent human life” unless you also advocate all of these steps.
    I know people who do believe that (I think it is the Catholic church’s official position), and do advocate those steps, but even they admit that bans on in vitro fertilization are not politically possible right now. Whereas it is possible to kill the (federal) funding for more stem cell research. They see this as human experimentation, and possibly human trafficking, and think it is worth ending in its own right. They’ll settle for this small but achievable measure for now, a sort of “Missouri compromise”…
    If Bush were to seriously try to close IVF clinics and ban stem cell research, the Republicans would be out of power at the next election and all of them would be lame ducks until them. And the measures wouldn’t succeed.
    But even if it were politically possible, I don’t think Bush himself would really try for him. I can’t imagine him risking any political capital that way. I not only don’t think he has the courage of his convictions, I don’t think he has any convictions. I don’t think he’s thought deeply enough about any of these issues to have them. He’s jumped right to his conclusions without ever caring whether they were consistent or not…
    Idiots don’t get undergraduate degrees from Yale and MBAs from Harvard.
    The more years I spend in academia, the less I believe this.

  9. I not only don’t think he has the courage of his convictions, I don’t think he has any convictions.
    Bingo.

  10. I beg to disagree with you, Dave. Idiots don’t get undergraduate degrees from Yale and MBAs from Harvard.
    Children of the rich and powerful can get anything they damn well please.

  11. Stem-Cell Hypocrisy

    As usual, Fred Clark hits the nail on the head: If [President Bush] truly believed that such [stem-cell] research involved the taking of innocent human life, then he would be obligated to stop it using every means at his disposal. …

  12. Stem-Cell Hypocrisy

    As usual, Fred Clark hits the nail on the head: If [President Bush] truly believed that such [stem-cell] research involved the taking of innocent human life, then he would be obligated to stop it using every means at his disposal. …

  13. I think it’s a little naive to say all this is the minimum possible response: anyone who would say that embryos are human lives would almost certainly oppose abortion on similar grounds. Devoting every resource at your disposal to outlawing abortion in any form may be morally consistent, but it is not feasible given the state of the country right now. I don’t think it’s “monstrous” for a pro-life politician not to devote everything at his disposal to outlawing abortion, because such an effort would inevitably fail, would give no real progress, and could in fact achieve the opposite of what was intended.
    I agree with the basic thesis: that Bush is a convictionless hypocrite. But I think this post is stretching inference too far based on this particular inaction.
    Personally, I do oppose IVF for exactly the reasons outlined here — but I also realize that my opposition is not about to change the culture in the immediate future. I hope that doesn’t make me monstrous…

  14. Yeah, I think it’s door #5: he does not fully understand the inescapable moral obligation demanded by his position.
    I think he simply obeys his handlers.
    The scary thing is, people actually buy into this crap.

  15. I so wish this were the kind of real world tactical move that David outlined above.
    Unfortunately, as Fred pointed out, you can’t use absolute principle to support incremental steps. But sadly for this Administration, it seems that principled statements are merely a series of sounds and symbols meant to make it appear that the President is principled and (their favorite term) resolute. The actual content of the words means little at all. It’s all a matter of posturing and imagery.

  16. What part of this is surprising ? Bush (or, more likely, his handlers) is a politician, doing what politicians do: attempting to maximize his approval rating. The Republican party has built up an excellent voter base, which values buzzwords above all else, and now they’re milking it for all it’s worth. It’s sad, and increasingly more frightening, but the process has been going on for years. I don’t find it surprising at all.

  17. I guess I tend to agree with David that saying that such a response would be the minimum is going a bit overboard with the hyperbole. While I personally don’t have a problem with embryonic stem-cell research, I still am not completely sure what my position on abortion is; I’m currently leaning toward a position in which I see pre-viability abortions as morally permissable but seriously question late-term abortions (what that says about mid-trimester abortions I’m not sure), but since it is an issue that has widespread disagreement in society (and practically the law isn’t likely changing soon, regardless of how Roberts votes), I tend to take the position that I’m not sure enough about my belief to try to enforce it on the entire populace. This doesn’t feel like it’s all that inconsistent, nor do I think that I’m avoiding the obligations that my convictions demand of me. Or am I just crazy and trying to rationalize things?

  18. Science and health vs. rights of the blastula: Bu

    Gotta protect those blastulae (that would be thrown away anyway) from all those evil scientists trying to cure Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Kos is all over it. We should hang this around the necks of the Republicans in 2006 and 2008. Or better yet, s…

  19. Science and health vs. rights of the blastula: Bu

    Gotta protect those blastulae (that would be thrown away anyway) from all those evil scientists trying to cure Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Kos is all over it. We should hang this around the necks of the Republicans in 2006 and 2008. Or better yet, s…

  20. I’m currently leaning toward a position in which I see pre-viability abortions as morally permissable but seriously question late-term abortions
    You “seriously question” the right of a woman who’s pregnant with a seriously disabled fetus that she knows won’t live long past birth to be able to terminate the pregnancy? Or do you feel that a girl who was raped and either didn’t know she might be pregnant or was too scared to go to anyone until physical changes made it obvious to others ought then to be forced to carry the pregnancy to term? Or perhaps you feel that a woman whose fetus has died ought to die too?
    Late-term abortions for the most part take place because there is an urgent medical (or, in the case of underage rape victims who wait too long) psychological reason why they must take place. There’s no good reason to “seriously question” them except the wish to see women suffer.

  21. There’s no good reason to “seriously question” them except the wish to see women suffer.
    Anyone who disagrees w/ Jesurgislac only does so because of petty hatred. Nobody, NOBODY can simply think the fetus is past the point of turning human before birth but after the 2/4/8 cell stage w/o hate being involved somewhere. Let us all now bow down to Jesurgislac’s moral superiority.
    I don’t particularly want our idiot govt involved in even late term abortions, but come on Jesurgislac, chill out a bit.
    Since a woman, and thus her womb, wouldn’t even exist w/o society to feed and clothe her, isn’t her womb a product of society and thus owned by society to be used as society deems fit?

  22. In my view, Bush is a smart, lazy demagogue. He’s used to coasting on his ability to size up the big picture without having to do any of the heavy lifting. Because of his wealth and family connections, he’s never had to, and it’s possible that those muscles are atrophied at this point. He’s surprised every time failure to analyze even an inch below the surface bites him in the butt.
    In one respect, his ability to play on popular emotion, he may be the most brilliant virtuoso of our time. With the drumbeat of facts drowning out his siren song for all but the most selectively deaf, all he can do is sing louder.
    I think Bugmaster is right: he’s just doing what politicians do and playing to his strength — the only one he has left.

  23. Before we swirl down the drain of the abortion debate, flushed by namecallers on both sides, one more possibility for Bush’s veto: the man is pig-headed stubborn. He refuses to admit he makes a mistake. If he balanced his checkbook with 2+2=5, he would by God refuse to admit an error. His “resolute leadership” is a myth based on a severe character flaw. If someone suggested removing one of the “Bush stem cell lines”, he would oppose that too. He has spoken, he has decided, and it is beyond question. Papal infallibility is mush compared to — oh, why do I bother? How could we have re-elected this man?

  24. Late-term abortions for the most part take place because there is an urgent medical (or, in the case of underage rape victims who wait too long) psychological reason why they must take place. There’s no good reason to “seriously question” them except the wish to see women suffer.
    Late-term abortions are also a convenient strawman since they represent a tiny tiny percentate of all abortions. And if you don’t approve of ’em, feel free not to have one.
    David: I agree with the basic thesis: that Bush is a convictionless hypocrite.
    By all means, tell us how a Christian president with convictions would incrementally move along your Christianist agenda without appearing to be “convictionless”.

  25. I’m reminded of the last conversation had on this subject here on Slacktivist. It was a deeply thoughtful and well-written (when is anything here not?) piece about torture, and how monsterous those who support it and encourage it are in Fred’s view, and then he sort of turned it around and said, that’s how we must seem to the pro-life movement. It was interesting, but what I said at the time was the difference there is that Fred is not going to go torture someone under any circumstances and will oppose torture in any form, but that pro-lifers demonstrably do not believe what they are saying and do not consistently treat embryos as human beings. The value of embryos and fetuses as human beings is not a sustainable philosophy. Even pro-lifers cannot live in a way that is coherent with that concept. IVF is a vivid example of this on its own. If you truly believe that embryos are human beings with a right to live, IVF is nothing but cold-blooded mass murder, conducted for the sole purpose of giving a single child to a couple who could otherwise adopt one of the thousands of children available in the adoption system right now. I do think it’s monsterous to not even lift a finger to protest what you ostensibly believe is mass murder because it’s inconvenient or unpopular or because, as some very self-serving pro-life proponents have said to excuse their ho-hum attitude towards IVF, the pro-life community is far too busy attempting to force women to carry every pregnancy to term to give any consequence to the plight of IVF embryos. To say that no opposition has really been mounted against IVF because it is politically and socially unpopular is ridiculous. Most Americans favor legal abortion and stem cell research and that does not stop the pro-life movement from loudly and passionately opposing both. This vast inaction against IVF is nothing but reprehensible. It’s disturbing. Unless…embryos do not have the same value as a person. Only then is this a reasonable, or in any sense human, way to behave. Sociopath or hypocrite, take your pick, but you cannot have it both ways. An embryo cannot be a human being with rights only when it is inside a woman who doesn’t want it, unless one admits that the right of embryos to live is not the chief concern of this movement and that this rhetoric is empty. If it is a human being, it can never be treated as anything otherwise and to do so is indeed monsterous. These are the choices that the pro-life position offers its proponents on the subject of IVF.
    Research on embryonic stem cells is an even more vivid illustration of this point. The pro-life movement is outraged that embryos could be destroyed for scientific purposes–but that outrage is about stem cell research, not IVF. They are quibbling about how the embryos are destroyed, but not trying to stop them from being destroyed otherwise. Their rationale for opposing stem cell research is that it’s immoral to destroy embryos for the purpose of scientific research, even if that research could benefit all humanity, but how is that less moral than destroying embryos en masse for the purpose of impregnanting one couple that could otherwise adopt? The inconsistecy is almost shocking.
    As awful as all this has been to watch, the part of this that disturbed me most was an article I read with comments from John Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri whose brother had died of Lou Gherig’s. He is pro-life, but supports stem-cell research, and had taped ads in support of it, on the basis of being pro-life. He was upset about the veto. “Are they telling me that something happening in a petri dish is more important than my brother, more important than me?” (Not the exact quote, but close.) The pro-life people I know have told me for years that my goals, my plans, my marriage, my quality of life, my mental health, and my physical health were nothing compared to the life of an embryo, that no objection I could possibly have to carrying a pregnancy to term could outweigh an embryo’s right to life. John Danforth told women that all through his career, and clearly his mind has not changed. His pique at being told the same is sickening.

  26. What strikes me as odd in the moral position of the administration is not so much the question, what happens with the excess embryos in the fertility clinics, if they are not used for research. I rather marvel at the hypocrisy of starting a war and causing thousands of people to die, while claiming each unborn live to be of inherent dignity and matchless value. Somehow, I’d assume, if an unborn is of such value, a person already born should have the same inherent dignity.

  27. “Since a woman, and thus her womb, wouldn’t even exist w/o society to feed and clothe her, isn’t her womb a product of society and thus owned by society to be used as society deems fit?”
    Whoa! I hope you’re being sarcastic, Scott. Because what if society decided that the woman’s womb be used for fetal farming? In any case, the above statement is sickening in its implications regardless of what tone you intended.

  28. Papal infallibility is mush compared to — oh, why do I bother? How could we have re-elected this man?
    I hat to be pedantic — oh, who am I kidding, I love it — but Papal infallibility as you are depicting it does not occur. The doctrine of Papal infallibility means that in certain extremely specific questions having to do with the definition of Catholicism, and only if he explicitly chooses to do so, the Pope can temporarily speak from a position of infallibility.
    George Bush’s infallibility is very different, based on the philosophy of Nietszche, and is never “turned off.”

  29. Duane: By all means, tell us how a Christian president with convictions would incrementally move along your Christianist agenda without appearing to be “convictionless”.
    Ehm… well, he could have not started an unjust war? He could also fight for the rights of the poor and downtrodden that have been born already. He could adamantly oppose torture, and try to strengthen instead of tear down our civil rights. He could stop bringing up the gay marriage debate during election years, pretending like that is a sincere conviction that matters to him instead of political capital.
    I don’t think the veto, all by itself, makes him hypocritical, and I never said so. My whole point was that, while I do think the man is a hypocrite, I don’t think this veto is a particularly good illustration of it.
    It does bother me a lot, in fact, that politicians are talking on the one hand as though the embryos are complete, practically self-aware human beings, and on the other hand completely ignoring the moral implications for IVF, and actively bragging about how they do still allow research on existing lines. I agree with Fred to the degree that I think if they really felt this way, they would at least mention the issue, and in that sense I believe this shows hypocrisy. But I disagree with the claim that failing to devote every possible resource to the problem is “monstrous” — that’s the kind of thinking that leads to clinic bombers.
    PerfectBlue: The value of embryos and fetuses as human beings is not a sustainable philosophy. Even pro-lifers cannot live in a way that is coherent with that concept. IVF is a vivid example of this on its own.
    Actually, the Catholic church is strongly against IVF. I don’t know the details of the doctrine: for example, I don’t know if they would say that every embryo has a soul (I would tend to suspect not, since their stance on birth control seems more focused on non-interference than on embryo preservation), but they would certainly say it is human life and should not be destroyed by artificial means. And it is a “sustainable philosophy” in the sense that the largest church on Earth has been very consistent about its teaching on this point ever since people realized what embryos were. You might disagree with whether it ought to be sustained, of course… :)
    The pro-life people I know have told me for years that my goals, my plans, my marriage, my quality of life, my mental health, and my physical health were nothing compared to the life of an embryo
    I know this wasn’t the point of your comment, but a quick note on this — as a pro-lifer myself, one of the things I find most disturbing about the pro-life movement is its utter lack of compassion for either the mother who finds herself facing a pregnancy that could ruin her life, or for the baby once it is born. It is sadly rare to find a pro-lifer who believes not just that abortions should be prevented, but that society is responsible for caring for the mother and child to make sure that the mother’s life isn’t ruined, and that the child has food and medical care. Apparently, as long as you don’t get an abortion, it doesn’t matter if you can’t afford to feed the baby once he’s born… *sigh*…

  30. Any why isn’t Bush enlisting his daughters into carrying some of these snowflakes trapped in test tubes? The twins are in there early 20’s. I figure if they do twins with each pregnancy, the Bush twins alone could save 40 or so human lives in their lifetime!

  31. I’m currently leaning toward a position in which I see pre-viability abortions as morally permissable but seriously question late-term abortions.
    That strikes me as a reasonable attitude, trying balance a woman’s rights over her own body with respect for life, but pragmatically it’s rather difficult. First, as others have noted, late-term abortions a rarely, if ever, performed except for medical reasons. They’re very expensive compared to ‘early-term’ abortions, and not many women will go through 6+ months of pregnancy unless they’re seriously committed to having a baby. Doctors, too, are generally unwilling to perform such operations without valide medical reason. I suspect that in the majority of cases, late-term abortion could best be thought of as pre-birth euthenasia. The fetus is so damaged that if it was born it would have only a short, very painful life.
    ‘Viability’ is a tricky term as well. Those blastulas that Bush is so concerned about are arguably ‘viable’, since they could be implanted in a womb, where there’s a chance they’d grow to full term. Even if you define ‘viability’ as ‘viability outside the womb’ it’s still tricky. IIRC, even late second trimester preemies have survived, but the cost of the medical intervention required is very high. It seems monstrous to put a dollar value on human life, but with limited money and resources for health care, spending so much to save one life that might otherwise have gone to save many others seems monstrous as well. And what if science develops an ‘artificial womb’ which can carry blastulas to full term? Should abortion then be outlawed altogether?
    I don’t have any easy answers for those questions, and I very much doubt that such answers exist. I don’t know myself when, if ever, a fetus is ‘fully human’. I do, however, believe very strongly that a pregnant woman is fully human, and should therefore have the same rights as all other humans in this country to choose or refuse a medical procedure. If I were dying from blood loss and just a pint from you could save my life, no law would compel you to undergo even that minor inconvenience. Why should it be so different in the case of pregnancy?

  32. Scott: Since a woman, and thus her womb, wouldn’t even exist w/o society to feed and clothe her, isn’t her womb a product of society and thus owned by society to be used as society deems fit?
    Since a man, and thus all his organs, wouldn’t even exist without society to feed and clothe him, aren’t his kidneys, liver, heart, corneas, bone marrow, and blood all products of society and thus owned by society to be used as society deems fit?
    I’m not sure which scares me more– that you really might favor mandatory, involuntary organ harvesting, or that the logical correlate of your stance on women’s bodily integrity just hadn’t occurred to you.

  33. Scott: Since a woman, and thus her womb, wouldn’t even exist w/o society to feed and clothe her, isn’t her womb a product of society and thus owned by society to be used as society deems fit?
    Ellen: Since a man, and thus all his organs, wouldn’t even exist without society to feed and clothe him, aren’t his kidneys, liver, heart, corneas, bone marrow, and blood all products of society and thus owned by society to be used as society deems fit?
    I’m probably the most ignorant, unworldly person here when it comes to using weblogs and fora, yet even I know this remark by Scott was meant to be trolling. Don’t rise to the bait! Better angels of your nature, etc.

  34. Ellen:
    Scott is our local resident Libertarian wingnut. His point is that because we believe that there are some things that are best kept as common property, then we must believe that everything is common property, inclding our own bodies.

  35. Scott is our local resident Libertarian wingnut.
    Libertrollian? Maybe we could say he’s “Ayn Random?”

  36. Roberta: How could we have re-elected this man?
    What makes you think you did?

  37. Indecisive, Scott, Beth, see this post and my comment on it.
    PerfectBlue’s recent comment, and the post itself, remind me of an essay I read recently saying that the expressed philosophy of social conservatives often seems more like a feeling than a thought. (I personally think this feeling involves an unexpressed version of the conservative arguement that Brad Hicks describes here and here.) Last time we had this discussion, I said that the pro-lifers in question believed that they believed what they said. I think I added that while we’d have to address their real unexpressed argument in order to get anywhere, it would help to point out the holes in their surface position because otherwise — since they think they believe what they say — they could just accuse us of ignoring their words and tune us out.

  38. When George Bush was running for President in 2000, I started looking at some of the death penalty cases in Texas. George Bush was on record as saying the Texas system of capital punishment was just fine. I figured the man either was an idiot and completely out of touch with what had been going on, or he was amoral and really had no problem sacrificing justice and human lives for political gain. Either way, I thought him unfit for the Presidency.
    I believe I’ve been proven correct.

  39. I rather marvel at the hypocrisy of starting a war and causing thousands of people to die, while claiming each unborn live to be of inherent dignity and matchless value.
    It’s not hypocrisy, it’s lunacy. You didn’t even take the comparison far enough. Pro-lifers have a whole raft of folks they’d like to see killed for various reasons. And those “babies” they think are so precious are microscopic cells frozen for perpetuity that can only ever be born by being implanted BY SCIENCE in a woman’s womb.

  40. David: It is sadly rare to find a pro-lifer who believes not just that abortions should be prevented, but that society is responsible for caring for the mother and child to make sure that the mother’s life isn’t ruined, and that the child has food and medical care.
    Few pro-lifers – and no “pro-life” organisations – really believe that abortions should be prevented. There isn’t a single “pro-life” organisation in the US, not one, that promotes contraception and effective sex education, which are together the most effective method of preventing abortions. Indeed, the “pro-life” movement overlaps nicely with the “abstinence-only” sex education movement, which pretty much ensures that teenage girls are more likely to get pregnant accidentally and need an abortion. (Which of course they might not be able to get, but it would have been better, thinks this pro-choicer, had they not needed to get one at all.)
    The main way we can tell that “pro-lifers” really don’t mean what they say when they claim to believe that abortion=murder is that they show no political interest in any of the many effective ways of preventing abortions; their organisations are exclusively concerned with attempting to make abortion illegal. Further, as you yourself note, “pro-lifers” for the most part show no interest in supporting pregnant women or women with children: no “pro-life” organization is involved with campaigning for free health care for pregnant women and all children, paid maternity and paternity leave, a right to paid family sick leave for parents, free daycare for low-income working parents, job protection for parents who need flexible working hours…
    Which is how we know that the vast majority of “pro-lifers” may claim they want to protect fetuses, but they’re lying – all they really want to do is punish women for having sex and escaping the consequences.

  41. as the great American thinker Bill Hicks put it “Think of the children?! What, does that mean when they reach a certain age they’re off your love list? You either love people of all ages or STFU”

  42. all they really want to do is punish women for having sex and escaping the consequences.
    .. and quite a few have even admitted that.
    Speaking of great American thinkers, I can’t help but think of these by George Carlin about pro-lifers:
    “While your pre-born, you’re fine. Once you’re pre-school, you’re fucked.”
    … and about “sanctity of all life”:
    “You don’t see bumper stickers with ‘I brake for advanced melanoma’, do you?”

  43. Further, as you yourself note, “pro-lifers” for the most part show no interest in supporting pregnant women or women with children: no “pro-life” organization is involved with campaigning for free health care for pregnant women and all children, paid maternity and paternity leave, a right to paid family sick leave for parents, free daycare for low-income working parents, job protection for parents who need flexible working hours…
    For that matter, why aren’t they handing out condoms in church?

  44. “You “seriously question” the right of a woman who’s pregnant with a seriously disabled fetus that she knows won’t live long past birth to be able to terminate the pregnancy? Or do you feel that a girl who was raped and either didn’t know she might be pregnant or was too scared to go to anyone until physical changes made it obvious to others ought then to be forced to carry the pregnancy to term? Or perhaps you feel that a woman whose fetus has died ought to die too?”
    These are really controversial subjects and honest people can differ. But one thing I find disturbing is the distortion used (or believed) by so many people on these topics. The above comment is a good example. How many times do we hear these kinds of comments from pro-choice people, like it is all about rape and incest and deformaties? That’s just pure distortion. The VAST majority of abortions are done for convenience – to end a pregnancy that would mean work, expense, or interference with careers or other personal aspirations. That is the the ugly fact no one wants do deal with honestly, and with good reason too. To acknowledge this as the primary motive for abortion make us and our society look pretty damn selfish. We want our freedom and our precious self-esteem as well so we go to unbelievable lengths to rationalize away or deflect attention from the real facts. I say let’s cut the BS and just be honest.

  45. Duane: By all means, tell us how a Christian president with convictions would incrementally move along your Christianist agenda without appearing to be “convictionless”.
    Ehm… well, he could have not started an unjust war? He could also fight for the rights of the poor and downtrodden that have been born already. He could adamantly oppose torture, and try to strengthen instead of tear down our civil rights. He could stop bringing up the gay marriage debate during election years, pretending like that is a sincere conviction that matters to him instead of political capital.
    I don’t think the veto, all by itself, makes him hypocritical, and I never said so. My whole point was that, while I do think the man is a hypocrite, I don’t think this veto is a particularly good illustration of it.
    George Bush is EXACTLY like his 30% evangelical base. He believes things contrary to evidence. He will lie in order to incrementally move along a Christianist agenda. He will pretend to have mainstream views (eg. pretend to support civil unions) so as not to freak out the 70% of the country that doesn’t want to live in New Jerusalem. He thinks he talks to God and believes God is telling him to do things.
    Does this sound like any evangelical you know? It sure as hell sounds like all the ones I know. He is only a hypocrite inasmuch as every Republican evangelical is. While I used to think these folks were hypocrites, I’ve come to believe it’s just severe cognitive dissonance brought about by prolonged religious hysteria.

  46. PetaG: The VAST majority of abortions are done for convenience – to end a pregnancy that would mean work, expense, or interference with careers or other personal aspirations.
    Yes, of course. And THOSE abortions are done early on – certainly in the first trimester. (The vast majority of Americans agree that women ought to have the right to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy early on – no matter what her reason. )
    23% of reported legal induced abortions were known to have been induced at 21 weeks. (CDC data for 2000.)
    Depending how “Indecisive” defines a “late term” abortion (after 15 weeks?) (after 20 weeks?) the abortions he says he “seriously questions” comprise at most 5.7% of the total abortions. According to a Planned Parenthood study, the reason most women delay until after >15 weeks is because of the cost of obtaining a legal abortion or the distance (meaning days off work) they’ll have to travel to get one. Those women would prefer to be able to terminate earlier if some US states weren’t so set on obstructing them.
    That leaves probably around 1.5% of all abortions that are carried out at what I would call “late term” – 21> weeks – and those abortions are very, very rarely carried out for anything other than desperate medical need. (An exception might be an underage girl who’d been raped and the abortion she needed delayed through her ignorance or hateful behavior by her parents or guardians. That would be a psychologically if not medically needed abortion – but it would be needed.)

  47. The VAST majority of abortions are done for convenience – to end a pregnancy that would mean work, expense, or interference with careers or other personal aspirations. That is the the ugly fact no one wants do deal with honestly, and with good reason too. To acknowledge this as the primary motive for abortion make us and our society look pretty damn selfish. We want our freedom and our precious self-esteem as well so we go to unbelievable lengths to rationalize away or deflect attention from the real facts. I say let’s cut the BS and just be honest.
    Okay, I’ll start: Mind Your Own Business. If you don’t like abortion, THEN DON’T HAVE ONE.

  48. Culture of Life?

    Ive mentioned this before but I say it again, Fred Clark at Slactivist.com is one of my favorite bloggers. It is a common occurence when I start to work on a blog post and visit Freds blog and realize hes said what I wanted to sa…

  49. An abortion that could easily have been prevented by contraception is wrong because it’s wasteful. In addition to the child that might have been, it wastes time, money, and medical resources. By these measures IVF is if anything more wasteful, since several embryos die for every one that’s implanted and becomes a child, and since it spends a lot of time and energy creating a child with the “right” genetic makeup instead of adopting one that already exists.
    We consider IVF morally acceptable because its goal is to create a life, and so we can ignore the collateral damage; we are squeamish about abortion because its goal is to destroy a life, so we tend to concentrate on that and not on the woman’s life.
    We are weird people.

  50. > Further, as you yourself note, “pro-lifers” for the most part show no interest in supporting pregnant women or women with children: no “pro-life” organization is involved with campaigning for free health care for pregnant women and all children, paid maternity and paternity leave, a right to paid family sick leave for parents, free daycare for low-income working parents, job protection for parents who need flexible working hours…
    It occurs to me that these people style themselves pro-life rather than anti-abortion. While pro-choice people generally see reducing the number of abortions as a good thing in and of itself, the pro-life crowd is only interested in it as a method of increasing the number of children born. For the same reason, they disapprove of contraception or sex education. See? It all makes sense
    The only thing they seem to be confused about is that they don’t encourage sexual intercourse in all possible situations…

  51. His point is that because we believe that there are some things that are best kept as common property, then we must believe that everything is common property, inclding our own bodies.
    Because your arguments for ‘some things’ being common are sweeping enough to cover everything, and your only differentiation between some things and not others is “but that’s not what I want”.
    Harvesting organs? Hey, if one person has no healthy kidneys, and I have one more than I ‘need’, why not foricbly redistribute them for the “common good”?

  52. “Okay, I’ll start: Mind Your Own Business. If you don’t like abortion, THEN DON’T HAVE ONE.”
    Uhhh Duane, arn’t you being a bit intolerant with that remark? Mind my own business? In case you did not realize it this is a BLOG – a place where people can discuss issues and express opinions in a civilized manner, even if those opinions differ. Last time I checked free speech was a pretty progressive idea. With all due respect I’ll say what I want to say. If you disagree whith something then try posting an intelligent response, preferably based on logic if not fact.

  53. Anon: No, a blog is somewhere where Fred can say whatever he wants, and can allow people to comment or not as he sees fit.

  54. And what if science develops an ‘artificial womb’ which can carry blastulas to full term? Should abortion then be outlawed altogether?
    Depending on two things:
    1. That the blastula/embryo/fetus can be removed non-invasively (i.e. with no higher level of medical intervention than would be needed for an abortion); and
    2. That the babies that result are as physically and psychologically as healthy as those that developed in a woman’s uterus;
    Then, yes, I would support making abortions illegal.

  55. If you don’t like abortion, THEN DON’T HAVE ONE.
    I gotta say, Duane, this remains the silliest pro-choice argument I’ve ever heard. To a pro-lifer it’s like saying “Think stealing is wrong? Don’t steal.”

  56. I couldn’t find the article I wanted, but this one is close enough. Casting abortion as a ‘right’ is seemed by those radical libertarian trolls at The Christian Century as endangering a sufficiently sweeping view of govt power:
    Beyond Slogans: An Abortion Ethic for Women and the Unborn
    James R. Kelly is chair of the department of sociology at Fordham University, Bronx, N.Y. This article appeared in the Christian Century, February 21, 1990 on pp. 184-186.
    …Rhetorical simplicity once resided primarily with the pro-life movement, which tirelessly insisted that abortion stopped a human life. But now their opponents have become just as reductionistic. Pro-choice activists now simply ask, “Who should decide, the woman or the government?” This question effectively presumes that some abortions are inevitable and that government coercion in this matter is likely to be ineffective. But the slogan also dangerously implies that government intervention in social problems should always be regarded with distrust.
    Before Roe, the arguments of the pro-choice advocates raised difficult questions: When is it morally right to stop a developing human life? How do we know that making abortion legal will not diminish our respect for other forms of sometimes unwanted life, such as the mentally and physically disabled or the infirm old, or for life in general? Can a constitutional amendment protecting unrestricted right to abortion be justified in view of traditional church teaching, common law and 19th-century state laws that condemn abortion? After years of “focus interviews” with a cross section of Americans and careful public relations consultation, abortion-rights advocates no longer address such difficult questions. But others, including those with a Christian conscience, cannot rest as easily with the slogan, “Who decides?” They are obliged to ask the further questions, “Decides what? And with what help from the community?”
    Now the pro-life movement faces all the difficult questions, and on its own it seems unable to answer them. For example, since the mid-1970s approximately 1.5 million women annually have procured abortions. Could a legal prohibition stop almost all such abortions? Would a more dangerous “underground” and unregulated abortion industry rise to meet the demand for abortions?
    These unresolved questions keep many from embracing the pro-life movement. Still, its central point cannot be evaded. One cannot quiet the inner voice that speaks of abortion as morally significant. To reduce the issue to the question of “Who decides?” is politically shrewd but morally disquieting. Besides, casting the question of abortion in libertarian terms that rely on a strong distrust of government undercuts the many areas where women, the poor and the handicapped ask the community through its government to intervene in the marketplace….

  57. So that means that normal sexual conception must also be wasteful, because most fertilized eggs don’t implant and are sloughed off during the menstrual cycle. Oh, what are we to do? Everyone should just stop having sex. Then we’d all be happy, right?

  58. The VAST majority of abortions are done for convenience – to end a pregnancy that would mean work, expense, or interference with careers or other personal aspirations.
    Speaking of pure distortion…. I don’t know where you come from, but in my world, careers aren’t just something we do for fun or some sort of ego kick. Sure, women with babies can get by on welfare, ADFC and Section 8 housing, but that’s hardly the sort of enviornment you’d want to raise a child in. I’ve known a number of women who’ve had abortions, and not one of them did it as a matter of ‘convenience’.
    I do know one woman you’d approve of, though. She’d been molested as a child, resulting in serious emotional problems which kept her on public assistance most of her life. About three or four years ago, she finally started to turn things around. She found a job she could keep, nothing fancy, but it didn’t trigger her, and she even kind of enjoyed it. She sued for and won custody of her 6-year-old daughter, who was being raised by the father’s parents. She got in therapy and felt like she was starting to make some progress. Things weren’t perfect of course — she’d gotten herself an on-and-off relationship with a real jerk with an occasional taste for crack — but things seemed to be moving in the right direction.
    When she found out she was pregnant, she did the right thing. She wasn’t put off by the extra work or the expense, or even the loss of the only job she’d ever managed to keep for more than a few weeks. By the time the baby was born, she’d even convinced the father to move in with her. I saw her again recently. The baby’s 18 months now and seems to be doing well. The father’s still around too, and is now a fulltime crackhead. She’s free at last of that old ambition to get off public assistance and make something of her life, and thanks to a recently diagnosed heart condition, it looks like she won’t have to. The only real problem is the older daughter. She’s having trouble in school — failing classes, getting into fights — and worst of all, she’s been saying her mother’s boyfriend molests her. She even told her birth father, who still wanders in and out of her life occasionally. He was concerned enough to take her to the police, but they said her story had inconsistencies, so there was nothing they could do. The mother took that as proof the story was false (despite the fact that she’d already caught the boyfriend “rubbing on” the baby), so instead of kicking him out, she just beat her daughter for lying.
    Granted, she may not be the perfect mother, but at least she’s not one of those selfish bitches who might have gotten an abortion of convenience in order to pursue her personal aspiration of getting her life together first.

  59. Found it:
    World without Roe?
    Christian Century, August 9, 2005
    …A world without Roe would relieve liberals of the debilitating rhetoric of “choice.” Asking “Who gets to decide?” has been effective politics, but this embrace of individual choice has carried with it a cost. It has meant ceding to conservatives the language of moral values and moral formation.
    In Bearing Right: How the Conservatives Won the Abortion War (2004), William Saletan describes how abortion rights activists decided in the 1980s, on the basis of experience in places like Missouri and Virginia, that abortion could be defended only by appealing to anti-government sentiments. In other words, they adopted the same rhetoric on abortion that conservatives use to oppose gun control or environmental regulation: Keep the government off my back. Let the individual decide.
    Although this strategy succeeded in some ways, Saletan points out, it did nothing to mobilize broader government support for the health of women and children. It also set the stage for eliminating government funding for abortions. After all, if abortion is an individual decision, then why should the government be involved at all?
    Politically, the emphasis on an individual’s “right to choose” has made it seem that liberalism is indifferent to public morality and is devoted to individualism. Quite the opposite is the case on most other topics, such as corporate responsibility, environmental policy, health care and Social Security. On those issues liberals are the first to say that government regulation should be used to create a common culture and that individuals must limit their choices for the sake of a better society for all. But on one crucial moral point, liberals have betrayed the wisdom of their own tradition.
    Morally, the rhetoric of choice is empty. Obviously some choices are better than others. Pro-choice advocates have to admit as much when they confront the selective abortion of female children in India and China or (as in a notorious case in Great Britain) the decision to abort a fetus because it has a (medically fixable) cleft palate. Surely, in such cases, liberals want to do more than affirm the right to choose….

  60. Let me stress the money quote again:
    Politically, the emphasis on an individual’s “right to choose” has made it seem that liberalism is indifferent to public morality and is devoted to individualism. Quite the opposite is the case on most other topics, such as corporate responsibility, environmental policy, health care and Social Security. On those issues liberals are the first to say that government regulation should be used to create a common culture and that individuals must limit their choices for the sake of a better society for all. But on one crucial moral point, liberals have betrayed the wisdom of their own tradition.

  61. I gotta say, Duane, this remains the silliest pro-choice argument I’ve ever heard. To a pro-lifer it’s like saying “Think stealing is wrong? Don’t steal.”
    Yes, the MYOB principle is applicable across a wide-range of activities from stealing to teeth-whitening. Thanks for noticing.

  62. Okay, I’ll start: Mind Your Own Business. If you don’t like abortion, THEN DON’T HAVE ONE.”
    Uhhh Duane, arn’t you being a bit intolerant with that remark? Mind my own business? In case you did not realize it this is a BLOG – a place where people can discuss issues and express opinions in a civilized manner, even if those opinions differ. Last time I checked free speech was a pretty progressive idea. With all due respect I’ll say what I want to say. If you disagree whith something then try posting an intelligent response, preferably based on logic if not fact.
    I wasn’t referring to your free speech. I’m simply being honest, as you requested, and telling you that what someone else chooses to do with their reproductive system is NUNYA. It’s called freedom. You seem to have a grasp of this elusive thing called freedom as it pertains to you using speech to judge others, but you seem to lose focus when someone points out abortion is legal and a private matter that doesn’t concern you.
    Or did I misunderstand? Did you lose a fetus in someone else’s body?

  63. ..Granted, she may not be the perfect mother, but at least she’s not one of those selfish bitches who might have gotten an abortion of convenience in order to pursue her personal aspiration of getting her life together first.
    Beth, that sounds like something the Christianist God can wave away magically. Can you get the young lady to cast the Sinner’s Prayer spell? Make sure you max out her faith points first.

  64. Again, I have to mostly agree with Duane. RE “evangelicals”: he’s right, the ones I’ve met are all like that. They do not believe in evidence, they believe in faith. They do not believe in freedom where that freedom contradicts the bible. Their fondest desire is to have a theocracy much like Iran’s – religious leaders (Christian religious leaders, mind you) make the rules for all of us and the government enforces those laws. That “Muffin” manifesto crap and similar thinking is not a joke, they are not kidding, they are absolutely serious. They have a taste of power now with George Bush in office and they want to keep it. That’s why they say everything they can think of to convince stupid people who vote that if the Democrats ever take charge again (or at least have any influence at all), the UN will take all our guns, the homos will rape us all, the criminals will kill us all, porno will be available to every schoolchild, prayer will be outlawed, abortions will be mandatory, income taxes will go up to 90% of everyone’s income, etc. The hardcore still love Bush, think he’s great, think he hasn’t made a bad decision since he took office. If the war in Iraq fails, it’ll be because all of us hate Bush, not because Bush et al jacked it up. They think we should invade Iran and Syria and have us a big old holy war to prepare for Jesus’ homecoming. We’ll all be left behind, so they don’t care what happens to the rest of us.
    If you’re an evangelical and this doesn’t describe you, you’re gonna have to start saying it a lot more often, and loudly, because the only evangelicals I ever hear from besides Fred are the crazy Left Behind fans, the ones who think we should torch the Constitution and replace it with the bible. I don’t want to sound all paranoid and imply that their dreams of Jesusland are anywhere close to coming true, but I’d hate to be wrong about that and not have said anything, so I mention it when I think it’s relevant. I think Bush is serious too when he vetoed the stem cell thing, but I also think he’s a hypocrite. I don’t think HE thinks he’s a hypocrite, he thinks he’s following the will of god, which dovetails with the will of the people who helped get him elected twice. Just a happy coincidence, I guess. The stem cell thing doesn’t even bug me, it’s the incompetence (enabled by his faith-based, don’t-confuse-me-with-the-facts decision making) of the government under his “leadership.” I didn’t think anybody could make the Democrats look good. I was wrong. And my taxes haven’t decreased. And my pay hasn’t kept up with inflation. So what the hell have the Republicans done for me except bore me with their constant blah blah blah about abortion, titties on TV, stem cells, Terri Schiavo, prayer in school and the awful threat of homo marriage? What a bunch of idiots. A roomful of monkeys couldn’t do worse. In fact, let’s replace all 535 members of Congress with monkeys (the ones who throw poo) and see what happens. It would dramatically increase the quality of C-SPAN, at any rate.
    RE minding your own business vis a vis abortion: seems to me Duane meant mind your own business as far as not attempting to give your religious beliefs the force of law, not shut up about abortion and never speak of it again. But you’re entitled to take offense if you want, I suppose.

  65. Umm, there are lots of us “pro-lifers” or “anti-abortion” types around (I’ll take either one, I’m too busy to fight about labels) who DO oppose IVF, and the death penalty, and all forms of war, who fight for prenatal care and daycare and decent living condidions for all people, who write our newspapers and our Congresscritters and march in the streets and pour out our time and treasure to protecting the sanctity and dignity of every human life. Maybe you don’t see us because we’re too busy to posture before the cameras; maybe you don’t see us because a good cat-and-dogfight makes better television (and blogging) than a more nuanced position; maybe you don’t see us because it messes up your tidy categories of what people are like: “Oh, she’s out harassing her government to do something to protect the Darfur refugees — she can’t POSSIBLY be pro-life!” You can’t possibly regret more than I do that I can’t give each and every issue the time and attention it deserves, but just because I choose THIS as my priority and not THAT, doesn’t mean I don’t care about THAT, nor that my priority is better than those who choose to focus on THAT.
    And no, one should not write religious absolutes into the law, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to implement our religous values into government policy, either. Why else should I advocate the government responsibility to feed the hungry and clothe the naked? Abortion is a difficult issue because it’s one in which two deeply fundamental relgious values (and liberal progressive values, for those who aren’t religious) come into conflict: respect for the autonomy of the individual choice (no expression of faith is meaningful without it) and the duty to protect the weakest and most vulnerable in the Divine creation (whether human or not human or not-yet human.) Anyone who claims that balancing those competing values is easy and painless is either pretending, hasn’t thought it through, or is not a person of religious faith OR progressive philosophy.

  66. MYOB is not a bad principle, Duane. It’s just a bad argument to make to a pro-lifer about abortion.
    So that means that normal sexual conception must also be wasteful, because most fertilized eggs don’t implant and are sloughed off during the menstrual cycle.
    Yeah, I thought of that too while I was writing that, and no, I wasn’t suggesting that we all stop having sex :). In the best of all possible worlds, pregnancy wouldn’t be such a capricious thing. Failing that, sex ed and contraception are good on one side, adoption and IVF on the other.
    hf, I meant to say before, thanks for those links — very interesting. You would think, coming from a long line of Puritans, I would have figured it out a long time ago.

  67. MYOB is not a bad principle, Duane. It’s just a bad argument to make to a pro-lifer about abortion.
    It’s not an argument, it’s an order.

  68. Pro-choice advocates have to admit as much when they confront the selective abortion of female children in India and China or (as in a notorious case in Great Britain) the decision to abort a fetus because it has a (medically fixable) cleft palate.
    Scott, you’ve clearly not looked beyond the headlines on that case. It was a wanted pregnancy – the mother wasn’t doing it on a whim. And sure, most cases of cleft palate are easily fixable cosmetic imperfections, but sometimes a cleft palate is a symptom of major abnormalities similar to anencephaly. This abortion took place at 28 weeks; in the UK, abortions are 24 weeks are illegal, unless either the mother’s life is in danger or the child has such severe abnormalities that it would die anyway. Nobody but the mother and her doctors know the circumstances of the abortion, but the police investigated and were satisfied that the grounds for the abortion were legal.

  69. Yeah, Duane, I know MYOB an “order.” It’s one I hear a lot. MYOB is the order I hear whenever police try to stop a man from beating his wife, and when Social Services try to stop parents from handcuffing their kids to the bed. It’s what Animal Protection hears when they try to keep people from chaining their dogs out in the sun all day with no shade or water. It’s what activists in our community heard when we picketed a bar where the regulars beat up a man they decided was gay, and when we picket Wal-Mart for their horrible employment practices, and when we picket a local developer who clearcut the last forest in town for a parking lot.
    MYOB — that’s the order other countries give us when we beg them to stop slaughtering their own people, mutilating the woman, selling children into sex slavery, locking people into sweatshops, imprisoning them for daring to speak and worship and think like free people.
    MYOB — that’s the rallying cry everywhere of people who think other lives are theirs to own, to dominate, to use as they wish — as “business.” MYOB isn’t an argument. It’s an abdication of our common humanity.

  70. Yeah, Duane, I know MYOB an “order.” It’s one I hear a lot. MYOB is the order I hear whenever police try to stop a man from beating his wife, and when Social Services try to stop parents from handcuffing their kids to the bed. It’s what Animal Protection hears when they try to keep people from chaining their dogs out in the sun all day with no shade or water. It’s what activists in our community heard when we picketed a bar where the regulars beat up a man they decided was gay, and when we picket Wal-Mart for their horrible employment practices, and when we picket a local developer who clearcut the last forest in town for a parking lot.
    MYOB — that’s the order other countries give us when we beg them to stop slaughtering their own people, mutilating the woman, selling children into sex slavery, locking people into sweatshops, imprisoning them for daring to speak and worship and think like free people.
    MYOB — that’s the rallying cry everywhere of people who think other lives are theirs to own, to dominate, to use as they wish — as “business.” MYOB isn’t an argument. It’s an abdication of our common humanity.

  71. Yeah, Duane, I know MYOB an “order.” It’s one I hear a lot. MYOB is the order I hear whenever police try to stop a man from beating his wife, and when Social Services try to stop parents from handcuffing their kids to the bed. It’s what Animal Protection hears when they try to keep people from chaining their dogs out in the sun all day with no shade or water. It’s what activists in our community heard when we picketed a bar where the regulars beat up a man they decided was gay, and when we picket Wal-Mart for their horrible employment practices, and when we picket a local developer who clearcut the last forest in town for a parking lot.
    MYOB — that’s the order other countries give us when we beg them to stop slaughtering their own people, mutilating the woman, selling children into sex slavery, locking people into sweatshops, imprisoning them for daring to speak and worship and think like free people.
    MYOB — that’s the rallying cry everywhere of people who think other lives are theirs to own, to dominate, to use as they wish — as “business.” MYOB isn’t an argument. It’s an abdication of our common humanity.
    Local, state and government have laws in place for all of the above. No matter the level of your concern and angst, you do not have a right to regulate my sexual intercourse or breeding. Get over yourself and MIND YORU OWN FUCKING BUSINESS.

  72. MYOB — that’s the rallying cry everywhere of people who think other lives are theirs to own, to dominate, to use as they wish — as “business.” MYOB isn’t an argument. It’s an abdication of our common humanity.
    But the other side of it is minding everyone’s business. Ordering people by law or pressure not to raise their children Catholic, because we don’t like Catholics, and instead raise them as good Baptists. Codifying into law a definition of marriage in order to prevent legal recognition of unions that already exist. Telling a woman what career she should have, what field she should study, or that she should have no career, because everyone knows that women should get married and stay home with the children, and it’s for the good of society that they do so. Pushing through a law to forbids the consumption of pork and shellfish, because that’s what the Bible says, or going one further and outlawing the consumption of meat because animals have rights too and if I don’t eat meat, you shouldn’t be allowed to either. Mandating that all people on life support must be kept on such as long as possible, regardless of their desires in the matter (counter to the law that Dubya signed in Texas, which allows hospitals to turn off life-extending equipment if the patient’s family cannot pay). Outlawing specific sexual positions. Passing ordinances for what color the inside walls of my house can be painted. Supporting a law that says all women must dress modestly.
    There’s a balance. You can stand there and cry foul and claim MYOB = looking the other way in a domestic violence case. I can stand here and tell you that it means not trying to outlaw polyester blends. MYOB can be the cry of the oppressor, but it’s also the cry of the oppressed, and our “common humanity” requires that we examine each case to determine which it is.
    I see women. I see them in bad situations, sometimes by their own decisions, sometimes not. I see mothers (because every woman I know who has had an abortion went on to have other children or had already birthed all the children they wanted). I see them having to choose between the lives of the children they already have, and the possibility of another mouth to feed that they can’t afford. (Daycare runs about $200 per child per week in my area, and that’s before buying a single diaper.) It’s not an easy decision or a casual one, and it’s not one that you or I should get to make for someone else because we don’t know the particulars. We don’t know if she was raped, if she was coerced, if she just had sex with him so he’d shut up and roll over and let her get some sleep. We don’t know how much time she’s already spent on the decision, or how desperately she doesn’t want to be pregnant, or how effective she thought the birth control she was using was. We don’t know if she’s making a comfortable $60k per year, or if she’s working two minimum wage jobs just to make her rent. We don’t know if he was her boyfriend who vanished a month after she found out she was pregnant, or the husband whose vasectomy failed.
    I’m glad to hear that you’re one of the pro-life people who actually does care about making things easier for women to take care of their children. That’s one of the best things you can do to reduce the abortion rate, and it’s something that I see in the pro-choice camp all the time, which is why whatever my personal beliefs on the matter, I’m siding with them. They’re doing something about it from all sides of the equation. If you are too, then despite your apparent misgivings on the matter, you might want to think about becoming a more public face. If you can stand up and show people that pro-life also means pro-life-in-all-its-forms, including caring for the young and the poor, you’re going to get a lot more people on your side, and that’s how you win. Or to put it another way, I think we could easily meet in the middle where we’d both like to make the need for (non-medical) abortions vanish entirely, so why don’t we work on that instead of sitting here yelling at each other?

  73. MYOB — that’s the rallying cry everywhere of people who think other lives are theirs to own, to dominate, to use as they wish — as “business.” MYOB isn’t an argument. It’s an abdication of our common humanity.
    But the other side of it is minding everyone’s business. Ordering people by law or pressure not to raise their children Catholic, because we don’t like Catholics, and instead raise them as good Baptists. Codifying into law a definition of marriage in order to prevent legal recognition of unions that already exist. Telling a woman what career she should have, what field she should study, or that she should have no career, because everyone knows that women should get married and stay home with the children, and it’s for the good of society that they do so. Pushing through a law to forbids the consumption of pork and shellfish, because that’s what the Bible says, or going one further and outlawing the consumption of meat because animals have rights too and if I don’t eat meat, you shouldn’t be allowed to either. Mandating that all people on life support must be kept on such as long as possible, regardless of their desires in the matter (counter to the law that Dubya signed in Texas, which allows hospitals to turn off life-extending equipment if the patient’s family cannot pay). Outlawing specific sexual positions. Passing ordinances for what color the inside walls of my house can be painted. Supporting a law that says all women must dress modestly.
    There’s a balance. You can stand there and cry foul and claim MYOB = looking the other way in a domestic violence case. I can stand here and tell you that it means not trying to outlaw polyester blends. MYOB can be the cry of the oppressor, but it’s also the cry of the oppressed, and our “common humanity” requires that we examine each case to determine which it is.
    I see women. I see them in bad situations, sometimes by their own decisions, sometimes not. I see mothers (because every woman I know who has had an abortion went on to have other children or had already birthed all the children they wanted). I see them having to choose between the lives of the children they already have, and the possibility of another mouth to feed that they can’t afford. (Daycare runs about $200 per child per week in my area, and that’s before buying a single diaper.) It’s not an easy decision or a casual one, and it’s not one that you or I should get to make for someone else because we don’t know the particulars. We don’t know if she was raped, if she was coerced, if she just had sex with him so he’d shut up and roll over and let her get some sleep. We don’t know how much time she’s already spent on the decision, or how desperately she doesn’t want to be pregnant, or how effective she thought the birth control she was using was. We don’t know if she’s making a comfortable $60k per year, or if she’s working two minimum wage jobs just to make her rent. We don’t know if he was her boyfriend who vanished a month after she found out she was pregnant, or the husband whose vasectomy failed.
    I’m glad to hear that you’re one of the pro-life people who actually does care about making things easier for women to take care of their children. That’s one of the best things you can do to reduce the abortion rate, and it’s something that I see in the pro-choice camp all the time, which is why whatever my personal beliefs on the matter, I’m siding with them. They’re doing something about it from all sides of the equation. If you are too, then despite your apparent misgivings on the matter, you might want to think about becoming a more public face. If you can stand up and show people that pro-life also means pro-life-in-all-its-forms, including caring for the young and the poor, you’re going to get a lot more people on your side, and that’s how you win. Or to put it another way, I think we could easily meet in the middle where we’d both like to make the need for (non-medical) abortions vanish entirely, so why don’t we work on that instead of sitting here yelling at each other?

  74. Duane — You apparently endorse intrusion of moral values into private behavior by government policy in all the other cases I mentioned. (It’s not precisely clear) Now I’m really curious–why is “sexual intercourse and breeding” apparently the ONLY human activity in which it is illegitimate for “concerns and angst” to be enacted into law? What gives this particular behavior its uniquely privileged status? Does it cover all aspects of sexual and reproductive behavior (rape? pornography? prostitution? sex with children? sex between children? [and what are the age limits?] sex with animals? sex with doorknobs? animal cloning? human cloning? human cloning for children? human cloning for medical purposes? eugenics? bigamy? female genital mutilation? male genital mutilation? etc. etc.) or just some of them? How can we decide? Are there other topics equally off-limits — and how do we determine them?
    This isn’t an attack — I’m honestly puzzled now. As I’ve stated above, I see these issues as a continual balancing act between respect for individual autonomy and responsibility to protect all of creation. So many others on both sides of this topic seem to have devised some sort of magic formula that instantly resolves the dilemma — but they act as if it were a self-evident truism. I’ve tried to share how MYOB fails in this respect for me and others — could you clarify?

  75. Duane — You apparently endorse intrusion of moral values into private behavior by government policy in all the other cases I mentioned. (It’s not precisely clear) Now I’m really curious–why is “sexual intercourse and breeding” apparently the ONLY human activity in which it is illegitimate for “concerns and angst” to be enacted into law? What gives this particular behavior its uniquely privileged status? Does it cover all aspects of sexual and reproductive behavior (rape? pornography? prostitution? sex with children? sex between children? [and what are the age limits?] sex with animals? sex with doorknobs? animal cloning? human cloning? human cloning for children? human cloning for medical purposes? eugenics? bigamy? female genital mutilation? male genital mutilation? etc. etc.) or just some of them? How can we decide? Are there other topics equally off-limits — and how do we determine them?
    This isn’t an attack — I’m honestly puzzled now. As I’ve stated above, I see these issues as a continual balancing act between respect for individual autonomy and responsibility to protect all of creation. So many others on both sides of this topic seem to have devised some sort of magic formula that instantly resolves the dilemma — but they act as if it were a self-evident truism. I’ve tried to share how MYOB fails in this respect for me and others — could you clarify?

  76. You’re welcome, Lucia. Scott, hapax, did you see my first comment? Again, if you don’t find this argument conclusive, I don’t know what to tell you. Except that I think you subscribe to a flawed philosophy that Brad Hicks describes along with our response.

  77. MYOB is not a bad principle, Duane. It’s just a bad argument to make to a pro-lifer about abortion.
    That’s true as a general rule, but considering the post he was responding to, I don’t think Duane was out of line. PetaG’s post was offensive on many levels. First, there was the implication that women don’t deserve the right to abortion because they’re so petty and selfish. No one gets decide who deserves human rights. We all deserve them, no matter how rotten we may be. Second, there was his invocation of that old grotesque caricature of ‘the typical liberal.’ I know plenty of people who are petty, selfish, and obsessed with success (both liberals and conservatives), but that in no way describes the majority of liberals or the majority women who have abortions. Finally, and most offensive of all, was the way he belittled and mocked the very serious and far reaching issues women often have to face when confronted with an unwanted pregnancy. If anything, Duane’s “MYOB” was too mild. “STFU” may have been more appropriate.
    hf, I meant to say before, thanks for those links
    Me too. Thanks.
    hapax, I don’t conside “MYOB” an appropriate response to people who are genuinely concerned about what they consider the killing of human beings, but I don’t believe that’s what was going on here. Regarding your previous post, as much as I disagree with your position, I can’t but respect the integrity of your views. I suspect though, that if the only opposition to abortion came from people with a genuine, consistent commitment to life, there wouldn’t be a “pro-life movement” worth speaking of.

  78. Merlin Missy — Thanks for your thoughtful reply. In fact I do NOT support making abortion illegal, for exactly the reasons you state. I reserve my very limited energies to pushing for polices and laws on those issues which I have resolved, to my personal satisfaction, the balancing act I describe. But that does not mean I do not have opinions about the others, nor that I do not respect those who have come to thoughtful resolutions about them and are working to enact their own policies and laws — even laws I disagree with and would work very hard to defeat. (that’s what the political process is for).
    What makes me angry are people *on any side of the issue* who cannot or will not recognize that there are indeed competing moral/religious/ethical principles at stake, and that there are no clear cut issues or obvious answers. I’m not saying that “everything is relative” or that “there are no absolutes.” I’m saying that there are definite eternal moral absolutes, but they impinge on our contingent world like three-dimensional objects intruding into Flatland; I’m pretty sure I can usually distinguish a cube from a sphere, but sometimes it’s awful hard to tell a pyramid from a prism.

  79. In fact I do NOT support making abortion illegal
    I missed, or misunderstood that in your earlier comment. So strike “as much as I disagree with your position”, from my response to you. I suspect we’re still not on the same page regarding the nature of a fetus, but since that seems a complex and difficult subject, I wouldn’t put my disagreement in such clear and certain terms.

  80. In fact I do NOT support making abortion illegal
    I missed, or misunderstood that in your earlier comment. So strike “as much as I disagree with your position”, from my response to you. I suspect we’re still not on the same page regarding the nature of a fetus, but since that seems a complex and difficult subject, I wouldn’t put my disagreement in such clear and certain terms.

  81. hf — I’m sorry, I did miss your earlier post, thanks for the link. I do not actually disagree with the argument. My opposition to abortion (which, as I perhaps have not made clear enough, is NOT based on something that can be codified into law, not in the society we currently live in) is not based on the “humanity” or “personhood” of the embryo/fetus. It is based on the LIFE of the embryo/fetus, and to a lesser degree on the POTENTIAL of the same. And I don’t base it on the harm done to the clump of cells/baby — I base it on the (moral/spiritual/ethical) harm done to those who choose to allow/permit the abortion.
    Here’s a VERY flawed analogy: Suppose I shoot a pig. I might shoot it because I want to watch it suffer and die. I might shoot it because it’s in my way. I might shoot it because it’s sick and dying and I want to spare it further suffering. I might shoot it because I’m hungry and want some pork. I might shoot it because it’s about to attack and kill me. I might shoot it because it’s ugly and smelly and offends my aesthetic sensibilities.
    I would argue that it’s wrong — ALWAYS wrong — to shoot the pig. Life is not ours to give or take away. To act as if it is, to put it in religious terms, to usurp the role of the Source of Life. Yet, in some of the cases above, the choice to shoot the pig is LESS wrong than the choice not to shoot it. We’d probably agree on which cases were which most of the time. But not everybody would agree on all of them. When enough people agree about enough of the cases (for a given value of “enough”), then we can talk about changing the laws on pig-shooting. Until that point, the best I can do is work to minimize (what I consider) unnecessary pig-shootings, and try to make the lives of the surviving pigs as pleasant as possible.

  82. We were requested to be honest. I was simply being honest and telling the pro-birth folks to back the fuck off and don’t concern themselves with my breeding.
    If you’d rather, Hapax, we can go back to being dishonest. They can pretend it’s all about the widdle bitty babies and we can pretend they are rational and deserving of debate.

  83. But Duane, it’s not all about the babies, and no one is saying it is. As hapax has so eloquently put it, it’s about balancing competing rights — and wrongs. Sometimes abortion is the least bad of the available choices, and as I’ve said before, I and everone else except the pregnant woman lack standing to decide when that is. So I, and hapax, and almost everyone else here, as a practical matter come down very close to where you are. We’re just not absolutists, and we don’t try to pretend it’s black and white.
    Incidentally, hapax, please feel free to ignore a rude question if you want, but I am overcome by curiosity — are you a vegetarian?

  84. As I have noted over and over in the past, Roe v. Wade IS the BALANCE. IT IS THE COMPROMISE. It only protects the right to an abortion in the first trimester. Go read the case. I’ve posted the link before but you can easily google it yourself. There is practically nothing that I have read that is more sensible and fair than Roe v. Wade.
    Since Roe. v. Wade was decided, a woman’s right to an abortion has been upheld twice – by majority-Republican-appointee Supreme courts.
    But THIS BALANCE OF COMPETING INTERESTS isn’t what the OTHER SIDE wants. It wants to keep changing the refs and having do-overs until there IS NO BALANCE, despite majority opinion, despite multiple legal recognitions of a woman’s right to have an abortion, despite Science, and despite all the inconsistences with their own deeply-held religious belief.
    Meanwhile, we have these so-called supporters of a woman’s right to an abortion helping them along by arguing “process” and otherwise wanking up the thread. If people don’t know where you stand on an issue, then you’re sitting it out.

  85. No, Lucia, I am not a vegetarian, although I do acknowledge I should be by my own moral logic — and I was, when living alone in an area with access to a much wider variety of grains and vegetables. But my family wouldn’t put up with the very limited diet that I’d be restricted to here, and I don’t have the energy to cook two separate meals on top of other responsibilities.
    You can tell by the amount of rationalizing I put into this explanation how very sharply I feel the hypocrisy.

  86. and I was, when living alone in an area with access to a much wider variety of grains and vegetables
    So it’s okay to USURP THE ROLE OF THE SOURCE OF LIFE when you want a carrot or bowl of cereal? Or did you not know that grain and vegetables are living, provided with their lives by the mysterious and ominous Source Of Life?
    And worse, these poor defenseless little creatures cannot hide, cannot flee and cannot do cute tricks to endear us to them. Instead, they are rooted to one spot, waiting for Hapax to sacrifice them so that the pig can live.
    I really don’t mind you having a retarded and inconsistent view of life. I certainly mind when you decide I have to abide by it.

  87. and I was, when living alone in an area with access to a much wider variety of grains and vegetables
    So it’s okay to USURP THE ROLE OF THE SOURCE OF LIFE when you want a carrot or bowl of cereal? Or did you not know that grain and vegetables are living, provided with their lives by the mysterious and ominous Source Of Life?
    And worse, these poor defenseless little creatures cannot hide, cannot flee and cannot do cute tricks to endear us to them. Instead, they are rooted to one spot, waiting for Hapax to sacrifice them so that the pig can live.
    I really don’t mind you having a retarded and inconsistent view of life. I certainly mind when you decide I have to abide by it.

  88. Duane, now you’re just being silly. Do you really want to hear about the moral calculus involved? It is something I’ve thought long and hard about, and am not entirely happy with, but I honestly can’t believe the competing ethical demands I’ve struggled with to determine my diet could possibly interest anyone else. It doesn’t even particularly interest *me*, except that I’m inclined by nature to obsessively analyse the ethical implications of darn near every choice (blame it on four years of seminary) — which, as you quite rightly point out above, can paralyze effective action. Eventually, I’ve got to eat. Or die, but that’s a moral choice as well… Sooner or later one does have to take a position on the policy issues of the day, and act on it.
    Or, alternatively, I could have much more fun just making stuff up, attributing it other people, mock them for such “retarded and inconsistent” views, and then abuse them for imposing ’em on me. (I wonder if Townhall.com has any openings?)

  89. I gotta second (or third or fourth, whatever it is) Duane here in support of MYOB and hope that w’ere all grownups and understand what that means. It’s the difference between observing an acquaintance or family member savagely abusing one of their kids and doing nothing about it and declining to tell her that you think she feeds her kids too much sugar. The first is perhaps saving a child from severe injury or death, the second is being a controlling, micromanaging busybody. The problem with a lot of people (I am reluctant to call them well-meaning, because I don’t think most are) is they don’t think there’s a difference. It’s not enough for many of them to outlaw abortion, now they think they need to move on to getting rid of all the evil birth control that keeps us from reproducing according to god’s plan. If this doesn’t describe you, good, but it describes far too many other people in this country. Until something like 1968, nobody in Connecticut, not even married people, could obtain birth control, because of the Catholic Church. Personal decisions like how many kids to have or when to have them are best left to the individuals, with little interference from the state. I would think the state would have plenty to do already, without worrying about the management of our reproductive organs. Their management of crime, poverty, education, traffic, etc. isn’t exactly blowing me away, I doubt they’d do any better with our personal lives.

  90. Hapax, unlike a pig, human cells without a cerebral cortex cannot feel pain or emotion or tactile sensation or any form of consciousness at all (if we go by the information I’ve seen). If you remove the ‘human’ part of the brain, you don’t get an animal like a pig, you get a brain that doesn’t work properly. Because the other parts of our brain have evolved with the cortex until many can no longer function without it.
    I mean no disrespect by this, but we know what people who truly respect non-conscious life look like. We’ve seen them in India. They wear veils to avoid killing so many bacteria.

  91. Duane, now you’re just being silly. Do you really want to hear about the moral calculus involved? It is something I’ve thought long and hard about, and am not entirely happy with, but I honestly can’t believe the competing ethical demands I’ve struggled with to determine my diet could possibly interest anyone else. It doesn’t even particularly interest *me*, except that I’m inclined by nature to obsessively analyse the ethical implications of darn near every choice (blame it on four years of seminary) — which, as you quite rightly point out above, can paralyze effective action. Eventually, I’ve got to eat. Or die, but that’s a moral choice as well… Sooner or later one does have to take a position on the policy issues of the day, and act on it.
    Or, alternatively, I could have much more fun just making stuff up, attributing it other people, mock them for such “retarded and inconsistent” views, and then abuse them for imposing ’em on me. (I wonder if Townhall.com has any openings?)
    Shorter Hapax: my diet is my business and so is your breeding.

  92. I think there’s a small problem with the “child abuse versus too much sugar” analogy, and that’s this: To stick with that analogy, there are some people who truly believe that “too much sugar” IS child abuse. Now, it’s easy for us to say, “Yes, and those people are nutbars,” but I think what’s lacking is a clear line that logically, objectively defines some concerns with our neighbors’ parenting choices as legitimate and others to be a violation of the MYOB principle.
    Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think such a line EXISTS. It’s easy to talk about extremes: you intervene when a parent clearly beating the shit out of a child; you STFU when you don’t approve that the parent’s idea of disciplining the child is more lenient than you would prefer. But since abortion does actually kill something that could become a child, it’s going to be hotly contested by people who sincerely see it as child abuse. You can disagree with them–I certainly do, I stand by the right of a woman to abort at any time for any reason because, to me, the alternative is to sometimes say that “woman”=”baby vessel”–but you can disagree and still respect/acknowledge the opposing point of view as being, at least in some individuals, genuinely derived from sincerely held moral convictions. More, I’d argue that not acknowledging that is counterproductive.
    I also think that the ire heaped upon hapax in this conversation is grossly misguided. Kudos to hapax for thoughtfully examining the contradictions inherent in his/her moral sensibilities, for recognizing that others balance their own contradictions differently, and for being willing to talk about that here. I don’t think hapax has to go all out and convert to Jainism before his/her concerns about life’s value are respected. (I also prefer “longer hapax” to “shorter hapax,” since “longer hapax” does a better job of representing what hapax actually thinks. “shorter hapax” is, to my mind, a little too dismissive of hapax’s viewpoint.)

  93. Very well said, Nicole. I’d also say that it’s not fair to pick on hapax for an honest answer to a question that I admitted was nosy when I asked it. Hapax and I agree, I think (although, hapax, you probably wouldn’t put it this way) that “if it harm none, do what you will” is inherently self-contradictory, so each of us has to make our own compromises and moral judgments as best we can. (And I struggle with the vegetarian thing too. I’m not one either, at least not yet.)
    Meanwhile, we have these so-called supporters of a woman’s right to an abortion helping them along by arguing “process” and otherwise wanking up the thread.
    So we can’t so much as breathe a heterodox word without being demonized and belittled. Where have I seen this before? “Counterproductive” is the mildest word I can think of for it.

  94. Very well said, Nicole. I’d also say that it’s not fair to pick on hapax for an honest answer to a question that I admitted was nosy when I asked it. Hapax and I agree, I think (although, hapax, you probably wouldn’t put it this way) that “if it harm none, do what you will” is inherently self-contradictory, so each of us has to make our own compromises and moral judgments as best we can. (And I struggle with the vegetarian thing too. I’m not one either, at least not yet.)
    Meanwhile, we have these so-called supporters of a woman’s right to an abortion helping them along by arguing “process” and otherwise wanking up the thread.
    So we can’t so much as breathe a heterodox word without being demonized and belittled. Where have I seen this before? “Counterproductive” is the mildest word I can think of for it.

  95. I don’t think hapax has to go all out and convert to Jainism before his/her concerns about life’s value are respected.
    Me neither, but hapax does have to behave like a Jain before I’ll even consider respecting his/her right to try to impose those concerns on others. If you believe that all life is sacred, I’ll respect that, even if you don’t always live up to it yourself. But if you harrangue me about killing flies and then sit down to a steak dinner, I’ll call you a hypocrite. Also, while I’ll not only respect, but support your belief child abuse is wrong, I’ll fight your attempts to install cameras in all family homes to monitor parent’s behavior.
    That is why I don’t buy the claim that abortion law is about “balancing rights.” The right to privacy within your home is nothing compared to your right to privacy within your body. If we grant so much respect to the former, how can we not give even greater deference to the latter? It’s silly to talk about “competing rights” here, because there really is no competition. If it’s in my body, it’s my business. Period. That doesn’t mean there can’t be moral issues involved, but they’re my moral issues. Your beliefs are irrelevant in this case.
    Even when privacy is not an issue, all beliefs are not created equal. That’s one of the Religious Right’s Big Lies. “Teach the controversy!” is the battle cry of the creationists. Scientists believe man evolved from apes, they argue, and we believe God created him. Nobody knows for certain what happened, so lets teach kids both beliefs, and let them decide for themselves. It’s nonsense of course. One of those ‘beliefs’ is established scientific theory and therefore a legitimate subject for science classes, while the other is not.
    They try to pull the same nonsense when it comes to abortion. Nobody can say for certain when life begins, they argue, so my belief that the soul enters the ‘body’ at conception is just as valid as your belief that a functioning nervous system is a prerequisite for a human being. They even take it a step further and say “Let’s err on the side of life,” which really means, “Let’s not only ignore the fact that some beliefs are based in reality while others aren’t, but also enshrine the most conservative belief, no matter how absurd.” (Well I happen to believe that human life begins with existence of sperm and ova, and the joining of the two is just another stage in its development. Does that mean we should make it mandatory for people to have procreative sex whenever possible in order to protect human life?)
    They’ve even got the gall to suggest that their claims that fertilized eggs are human beings is no different from the abolitionists’ claims that slaves were. That this argument doesn’t get them laughed out of the public arena, just goes to show how far public discourse has deteriorated. Never mind that back when slavery was an issue, their religious predecessors supported it on the grounds that slaves didn’t have souls (which should certainly make us wary when they lecture us on ‘souls’ today). The belief that slaves were human was based on some pretty convincing evidence. Not only did they have the same basic form as human beings, they exhibited the same basic behavior. They talked, laughed, cried, sang, mourned, rejoiced, and so on. We can’t to this day know for an absolute fact that they were truly human, any more than you can know for an absolute fact that I am human (I could be an incredibly sophisticated bot, designed to mimic human discourse), but our belief that they were human is strongly rooted in reality. The belief that a blastula is human, on the other hand, is rooted in nothing but, “because that’s what I believe.”
    Shorter Beth: I’ll try to respect your beliefs whatever they may be, but that doesn’t mean I’ll respect your attempts to impose them on others.

  96. Boy, have I done a lousy job at explaining my stake in all of this (and I’m doubly sorry I dragged that poor pig into what I admitted upfront was a poor analogy). I don’t particularly mind being a target for people’s frustrations at the horrific policy situations in America today. I’ll even be a proxy strawman for the truly nutjob misogynists out there (although I won’t particularly enjoy it) — a big part of my day job is letting people vent their frustrations at me, I know how important it is.
    But to me, the really important goal is enacting policy — as I said before, despite all my moral agonizing, sooner or later people have to eat. And the question is, how does one enact the policy (or, more accurate, preserve the currently threatened policy) I think that almost all of us discussing would agree on — that “abortions should be safe, legal, and rare.”
    It’s no secret that I — like the majority of Americans — am a social conservative (in the traditional sense). But I — also like the majority of Americans — continue to support the policy that abortion should be legal. Yet this policy is currently threatened in a way that it hasn’t been for decades — why is that? Because the minority who think that Roe v Wade should be overturned (for whatever reason, from sincere religious conviction to hatred of women to cynical grab for power) — have managed to frame the issue in such a way that it tips the delicate balance of competing values I keep harping on.
    Casting one side as “selfish baby-killers” is a POWERFUL message. It doesn’t change a lot of minds, no — but it can, and has, successfully motivated the great mass of people who previously thought “abortion is horrible and sad and almost always wrong, but there are enough possible extenuating circumstances there that I’m not going to put outlawing it on top of my priority list” into suddenly thinking that “hmm, maybe THIS is the issue that deserves my limited time and energy.” And it has worked with a sufficient number of people — not a majority, but enough — to possibly tip the balance.
    How can this message be countered? I can tell you what will not work. Pitting “arrogant busybodies” against “selfish baby-killers” is a loser of a message. Let’s face it, given the choice, almost everyone would rather be an arrogant busybody than a selfish baby killer (in fact, I suspect that some of us would kind of enjoy it.) More seriously, most people already instinctively believe (and in an argument will eventually concede) that ALL laws are, at base, an attempt to “impose our beliefs on others.” People steal, murder, run red lights, and drink beer under age because they believe they have the right or need to do so. We make these acts illegal because enough other people — for whatever reason — don’t believe that. I agree with some laws, disagree with others, and fight to change the ones I don’t — but to argue that “people don’t have the right to impose their beliefs on me” is a demonstrably false proposition.
    Similarly, the current “values” position of “centrist” politicians is also a terrible one. I hear way too many (usually DLC-types) saying little more than “I agree with you that abortion is horrible, and sad, and almost always wrong.” (at this point they usually wave their religious credentials: “look, see, I have “values” too!”) “Nonetheless, I’m going to vote to keep it legal, because it should be a woman’s choice.” This frankly translates to the audience the politicians think they are speaking to as, “This is wrong, but I don’t care, and I’m not going to do anything about it.” Hardly a winner of a message.
    For the same reason, the charge of hypocrisy BY ITSELF also doesn’t work very well. Most people hate hypocrites, true enough, and it is useful to point out blatant examples (like the telling juxtapositions of Bush’s statements on stem cell research and on the prosecution of the Iraqi war.) But most people are also aware of their own hypocrisies, and the way that balancing competing values leads to inconsistent results. Harp on it too much, and you’ll come off as smug and self-righteous — a far deadlier crime, as far as motivating people, than hypocrisy.
    So what does work? Remember, the goal here is NOT to get me — or a majority of the American people — to agree that having an abortion is a good choice, a “right” that deserves protection. This is an extremely unlikely result. The goal is twofold: 1: help enough people to see sufficient moral conflict and complexity that they will not choose to make outlawing abortion their priority; and 2:(even more important): convince them that a related issue is much less morally ambiguous and much more urgent, so that deserves their passion and energy.
    I’m not a politician, so I can’t tell anyone how to frame this. But there are plenty of successful strategies that have worked in the past, are still working pretty well *when people use them*, and I see no reason they won’t continue to work well enough in the future. (Note — I don’t particularly endorse the policy positions outlined below. These are just examples of successful framing strategies I have seen. I have already discussed at interminable length above what my personal ethics are based on)
    1. “Abortion is a horrible choice, and in an ideal world should never happen. But as we’ve seen in the past, just making something illegal doesn’t make it stop. If we really want to stop abortions, not just score cheap political points, we need to change our current world into something more like that ideal world where women are not forced by poeverty between choosing between their unborn child and feeding the children they already have. Here are my specific policy proposals to help those women.”
    2. “Abortion is a horrible choice, but sometimes it is not a choice. Unfortunately, there are women who for health reasons cannot continue a pregnancy, or who were forced into pregnancy by the criminal deeds of others. We should focus our efforts on good prenatal health care, along with effective crime prevention, and never lose our compassion for the women who our victimized by our failures along these lines.”
    3. “I don’t personally believe that abortion is a good choice, except in very rare instances. But both our political system, and indeed our very moral system, depends upon the ability of the individual to freely choose when faced with a decision; to take away free will is to take away morality. But with free choice comes responsibility for those choices. So I am going to put my efforts into tougher enforcement of child-support laws, so both men and women will bear equal financial responsibility for each child conceived; and I’m going to tighten up our welfare laws, so that everyone who is able to hold a job, should.”
    I do apologize for the length of this response. But I was hoping to move the discussion away from “what’s wrong with hapax’s beliefs” to “how can we work for a goal that we all agree on?”

  97. Boy, have I done a lousy job at explaining my stake in all of this (and I’m doubly sorry I dragged that poor pig into what I admitted upfront was a poor analogy). I don’t particularly mind being a target for people’s frustrations at the horrific policy situations in America today. I’ll even be a proxy strawman for the truly nutjob misogynists out there (although I won’t particularly enjoy it) — a big part of my day job is letting people vent their frustrations at me, I know how important it is.
    But to me, the really important goal is enacting policy — as I said before, despite all my moral agonizing, sooner or later people have to eat. And the question is, how does one enact the policy (or, more accurate, preserve the currently threatened policy) I think that almost all of us discussing would agree on — that “abortions should be safe, legal, and rare.”
    It’s no secret that I — like the majority of Americans — am a social conservative (in the traditional sense). But I — also like the majority of Americans — continue to support the policy that abortion should be legal. Yet this policy is currently threatened in a way that it hasn’t been for decades — why is that? Because the minority who think that Roe v Wade should be overturned (for whatever reason, from sincere religious conviction to hatred of women to cynical grab for power) — have managed to frame the issue in such a way that it tips the delicate balance of competing values I keep harping on.
    Casting one side as “selfish baby-killers” is a POWERFUL message. It doesn’t change a lot of minds, no — but it can, and has, successfully motivated the great mass of people who previously thought “abortion is horrible and sad and almost always wrong, but there are enough possible extenuating circumstances there that I’m not going to put outlawing it on top of my priority list” into suddenly thinking that “hmm, maybe THIS is the issue that deserves my limited time and energy.” And it has worked with a sufficient number of people — not a majority, but enough — to possibly tip the balance.
    How can this message be countered? I can tell you what will not work. Pitting “arrogant busybodies” against “selfish baby-killers” is a loser of a message. Let’s face it, given the choice, almost everyone would rather be an arrogant busybody than a selfish baby killer (in fact, I suspect that some of us would kind of enjoy it.) More seriously, most people already instinctively believe (and in an argument will eventually concede) that ALL laws are, at base, an attempt to “impose our beliefs on others.” People steal, murder, run red lights, and drink beer under age because they believe they have the right or need to do so. We make these acts illegal because enough other people — for whatever reason — don’t believe that. I agree with some laws, disagree with others, and fight to change the ones I don’t — but to argue that “people don’t have the right to impose their beliefs on me” is a demonstrably false proposition.
    Similarly, the current “values” position of “centrist” politicians is also a terrible one. I hear way too many (usually DLC-types) saying little more than “I agree with you that abortion is horrible, and sad, and almost always wrong.” (at this point they usually wave their religious credentials: “look, see, I have “values” too!”) “Nonetheless, I’m going to vote to keep it legal, because it should be a woman’s choice.” This frankly translates to the audience the politicians think they are speaking to as, “This is wrong, but I don’t care, and I’m not going to do anything about it.” Hardly a winner of a message.
    For the same reason, the charge of hypocrisy BY ITSELF also doesn’t work very well. Most people hate hypocrites, true enough, and it is useful to point out blatant examples (like the telling juxtapositions of Bush’s statements on stem cell research and on the prosecution of the Iraqi war.) But most people are also aware of their own hypocrisies, and the way that balancing competing values leads to inconsistent results. Harp on it too much, and you’ll come off as smug and self-righteous — a far deadlier crime, as far as motivating people, than hypocrisy.
    So what does work? Remember, the goal here is NOT to get me — or a majority of the American people — to agree that having an abortion is a good choice, a “right” that deserves protection. This is an extremely unlikely result. The goal is twofold: 1: help enough people to see sufficient moral conflict and complexity that they will not choose to make outlawing abortion their priority; and 2:(even more important): convince them that a related issue is much less morally ambiguous and much more urgent, so that deserves their passion and energy.
    I’m not a politician, so I can’t tell anyone how to frame this. But there are plenty of successful strategies that have worked in the past, are still working pretty well *when people use them*, and I see no reason they won’t continue to work well enough in the future. (Note — I don’t particularly endorse the policy positions outlined below. These are just examples of successful framing strategies I have seen. I have already discussed at interminable length above what my personal ethics are based on)
    1. “Abortion is a horrible choice, and in an ideal world should never happen. But as we’ve seen in the past, just making something illegal doesn’t make it stop. If we really want to stop abortions, not just score cheap political points, we need to change our current world into something more like that ideal world where women are not forced by poeverty between choosing between their unborn child and feeding the children they already have. Here are my specific policy proposals to help those women.”
    2. “Abortion is a horrible choice, but sometimes it is not a choice. Unfortunately, there are women who for health reasons cannot continue a pregnancy, or who were forced into pregnancy by the criminal deeds of others. We should focus our efforts on good prenatal health care, along with effective crime prevention, and never lose our compassion for the women who our victimized by our failures along these lines.”
    3. “I don’t personally believe that abortion is a good choice, except in very rare instances. But both our political system, and indeed our very moral system, depends upon the ability of the individual to freely choose when faced with a decision; to take away free will is to take away morality. But with free choice comes responsibility for those choices. So I am going to put my efforts into tougher enforcement of child-support laws, so both men and women will bear equal financial responsibility for each child conceived; and I’m going to tighten up our welfare laws, so that everyone who is able to hold a job, should.”
    I do apologize for the length of this response. But I was hoping to move the discussion away from “what’s wrong with hapax’s beliefs” to “how can we work for a goal that we all agree on?”

  98. Yah, let’s argue process instead of standing firm on principle. Does that work much for ya? Let’s see how many other rights we can doom with damnable support. I’ll start with this one:
    1. Women being allowed to vote is a horrible thing but their marching in the street is causing the wash to pile up at home.
    Anyone else wanna play?

  99. Casting one side as “selfish baby-killers” is a POWERFUL message…. it can, and has, successfully motivated the great mass of people who previously thought … ” I’m not going to put outlawing it on top of my priority list” into suddenly thinking that “hmm, maybe THIS is the issue that deserves my limited time and energy.”
    Why would it do that? Does viewing killers as selfish make murder that much more reprehensible? Or is it that by demonizing women who have abortions, we can rid ourselves of all sympathy for them, and turn them into objects of hatred, scorn and rage? It sounds like the way to really get these people going on an issue is to provide them with a scapegoat.
    ALL laws are, at base, an attempt to “impose our beliefs on others.” People steal, murder, run red lights, and drink beer under age because they believe they have the right or need to do so. We make these acts illegal because enough other people — for whatever reason — don’t believe that.
    That’s exactly the ‘all beliefs are equal’ nonsense that I was talking about before. There are valid reasons for those laws, and unless you have equally valid reasons for believing you need to break them, I don’t want to hear about “conflicting beliefs,” and if you do, then maybe the law should be changed.
    Remember, the goal here is NOT to get me — or a majority of the American people — to agree that having an abortion is a good choice, a “right” that deserves protection.
    What does “a good choice” have to do with “a right that deserves protection?” I don’t much care whether you think abortion is “a good choice” or not, but it’s extremely important to me that people understand that something doesn’t have to be a good choice in order to be a right that deserves protection. Liberal democracy itself cannot function unless citizens understand the concept of ‘rights,’ and free exercise is central to that concept.
    I think you’ve just helped to clarify why this is such an important issue for me. It’s not just about keeping abortion legal (though that’s important, too). It’s about standing up to forces that are trying to pervert and destroy the political process. It’s about saying scapegoating is NOT an acceptable tactic, that debate and discussion DO have a place (all beliefs are not created equal), and human rights are NOT something we award for “good choices.” If we lose those principles, we lose our democratic form of government, and I shudder to think what would rise to take its place.

  100. Duane, may I very respectfully ask your understanding of the derivation of rights? By which I mean, do you believe that all rights are inherent in the natural human condition, or do you believe that some rights are derived from the consent of the community?
    If you do not accept the distinction between natural and legal rights (or if you would divide them very differently), I am not surprised that you would find my comments both meaningless and offensive. If that is the case, I apologize for any inadvertent offense, but I don’t know how to make anything I said more meaningful.

  101. Duane, may I very respectfully ask your understanding of the derivation of rights? By which I mean, do you believe that all rights are inherent in the natural human condition, or do you believe that some rights are derived from the consent of the community?
    If you do not accept the distinction between natural and legal rights (or if you would divide them very differently), I am not surprised that you would find my comments both meaningless and offensive. If that is the case, I apologize for any inadvertent offense, but I don’t know how to make anything I said more meaningful.

  102. Beth, I apologize for sloppy language. By “good choice” I meant “choice without wrongness”, “choice with no downside.” I wasn’t trying to invoke that mythological creature who says “Goody, I can’t wait to have my fun abortion!”
    Would it be rude to ask you the same question I asked Duane — do you accept the distinction between “natural” and “legal” rights? (A legal right is not just something that is guaranteed by law — although it should be — but is derived from the system of government. The right to vote,for example, might be classified as a legal right, because it does not exist in an absolute monarchy. But in a democratic system, laws can and should be enacted to define the limits of that right — setting voting ages, for example.)
    If so, in which category would you place the right to an abortion?

  103. If I may chime in here… for me the distinction between natural and legal rights doesn’t help me with this one. The right to bodily autonomy and the right to life are both natural rights, as I see it, and they’re in conflict here.
    I come down on the pro-choice side because for practical purposes we’re talking about a woman’s, that is a human being’s, rights on one side, and on the other side about a life that is not yet human. (As has been pointed out, as a practical matter when we talk about abortion we’re not talking about fully viable fetuses, so let’s banish those strawwomen from both sides of the question.) That’s inconsistent with my belief in the sanctity, indeed the divinity, of all living things — and you may or may not want to call that inconsistency stupid*. Nobody’s perfect.
    *As the mother of a mentally disabled child I would ask everyone to be careful about using “retarded” as an insult. Plenty of other words are available.

  104. No, hapax, I didn’t misunderstand. It looks like you somehow misunderstood my point (maybe you got it confused with the previous one?). Rights aren’t protected by law in order to let us make good choices (however you want to define ‘good’); they’re protected to ensure that we’re allowed to make even bad ones. I have a right to dominion over my own body. It doesn’t matter whether the choices I make about it are happy or sad, easy or difficult, right or wrong, popular or unpopular. They’re my choices and the government has no right to interfere.
    do you accept the distinction between “natural” and “legal” rights?
    I’m not sure I understand your distinction. I believe that freedom from oppression is an basic right, and that holds true no matter what the form of government. Voting is a tool we use to preverve that right, and ‘voting rights’ are simply a way of protecting that tool.
    If so, in which category would you place the right to an abortion?
    I believe that the right to privacy is also a basic right and that abortion is protected by it. Since privacy is a right in itself and not a means to something else, I guess it would have to be a natural right.
    Now, hapax, here’s a question for you. Once your 3-point plan is complete and you’ve eliminated everything which you’ve been forced to concede justifies the “horrible choice” of abortion, will you still fight to keep it legal? Is your support for a woman’s right to choose genuine, or is it just a tactical maneuver?

  105. I don’t really understand the concept of “rights”, to tell you the truth. You may think that you have an inherent right to live, but should you ever fall of a cliff, gravity will respectfully disagree with you (and the subsequent rapid decceleration will be a lot less respectful). If people had inaliable rights, they would be inaliable, sort of like gravity. This is not the case.
    Thus, whenever people talk about rights, the discussion always devolves into “is not ! is too !” type of a shoutfest. I think that freedom from oppression is an extremely good thing, and it should be valued above most other things (note, I said “most”, not “all”) but I don’t think it’s a magic innate ability that everyone has built-in.

  106. I don’t really understand the concept of “rights”, to tell you the truth. You may think that you have an inherent right to live, but should you ever fall of a cliff, gravity will respectfully disagree with you (and the subsequent rapid decceleration will be a lot less respectful). If people had inaliable rights, they would be inaliable, sort of like gravity. This is not the case.
    Thus, whenever people talk about rights, the discussion always devolves into “is not ! is too !” type of a shoutfest. I think that freedom from oppression is an extremely good thing, and it should be valued above most other things (note, I said “most”, not “all”) but I don’t think it’s a magic innate ability that everyone has built-in.

  107. Ah. Okay. First of all, “my three point plan” is not, as I stated upfront, MY plan. These are, as I said before, strategies that I have seen used successfully by candidates who supported abortion rights to get voters who opposed abortion to elect them, by making enough voters care MORE about something else.
    I’ll state again and again until I’m blue in the face that “the government” — by which we mean in the U.S. the duly elected representatives of the people — has every right to interfere in people’s personal choices on the basis of other people’s beliefs, and does so billions of time every day. It’s a straw man to argue that I’m saying “all beliefs are equal.” Of course some beliefs are privileged over others *in the law*. But it’s not the rightness, or scientific validity, or usefulness, or benefit to society, or even popularity that priviliges a particular belief. It is getting enough people to care about it that they will elect representatives who promote it — consonant with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. If it is not in accord with judicial review, then that belief can be privileged by electing Presidents who will appoint different judges, or electing legislatures who will amend the Constitution. That’s the difference between a “natural right” and a “legal right.” I’m sure that you and I agree that the basic liberty of every human being is a “natural right” — inherent in human nature, or (I would say) endowed by the Creator. But what you and I believed didn’t do any slave one bit of good until the Thirteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution. And whether or not a majority of the citizens agreed with us was immaterial — UNTIL the minority who found this to be the most important issue in the world, and were willing to take up arms and fight over it, convinced enough people on the other side that they had more important matters (like finding enough food on their ruined lands) to worry about.
    Would it have been better if everyone had been convinced through logical argument or native compassion to accept liberty as a human right? Oh, dear Lord, yes. Would it have happened eventually without that bloody war? Probably — and there are arguments to be made on either side that the sum total of human misery if slavery had been allowed to “die naturally” would have been lessened. I don’t know. That’s where moral compromise comes into play again.
    But the question of what are “natural” rights — or whether or not they exist — is very much a question of beliefs, which you repeatedly insist we may not “impose on others”. There is no objective evidence to support or identify them. So I concentrate on legal rights, which are established, protected, and limited by laws and Constitutions. And this means I have to use the political process as it is established in this country. When a particular activity is — whether you like it or not –inherently distasteful to the vast majority of citizens, regrettable but sometimes justified to a small majority, and the Worst Thing in the World to a small but passionately committed minority — I do think it is easier and smarter (if less morally satisfying) to hang onto that small majority by persuading them to care more about Something Else in the voting booth, than to shift enough of that vast majority into thinking that activity is the Most Important Thing to protect. Perhaps that is betraying “principles” for “process”. If so, I’d gladly make the trade, and toss in a bag of donuts with the deal. If you cannot, I can only respect your priorities.
    To answer your question about whether my “support for a woman’s right to choose is genuine, or just a tactical maneuver”? Well, in this case, it’s my turn to not quite understand the distinction. When MY personal plan is complete, no woman will ever become pregnant except through free choice, medical science will ensure that every pregnancy is a healthy one resulting in a healthy child, and society as a whole will value every child enough to make sure there are sufficient resources to raise him or her to a happy adulthood. In that world, I can’t see any particular reason to have an abortion except for the pure fun of it, and yep, I’d advocate to make that illegal. I guess that means my support for a “woman’s right to choose” isn’t really genuine.

  108. Big ups to Hapax, Lucia and others for at least debating the point – many people don’t bother debating, they just say “God said it, I believe it, that’s the end of it.” Hapax is right, we use government to impose our “values” every day, and human history is the conflict between civic good (for its opposite, I guess I could use present-day Iraq as an example) and the natural urge to do whatever the hell we want regardless of who it hurts. The Great Uniter/Decider has not made this debate easier or more civil with his belief that he’s the ultimate law of the land and so encouraged many (present company excepted) to believe that their most fervent dreams of a faith-based state is just around the corner, filled wih millions of Christian soldiers standing at the ready to tell the rest of us how to live according to the bible. I get the sense that if Hapax et al felt that way, they wouldn’t be at this site, they’d be at Focus on the Family’s site or the like. I’m an atheist and so not inclined to be swayed by religious arguments, but Fred, Hapax et al demonstrate that many (I dare say most) religious people are not like Dobson and his ilk and do have something useful to add (as well as having the right to make that contribution). It’s just hard to remember that when we seem to only hear from Dobson et al. That’s probably mostly the fault of the ever-incompetent “media,” which loves controversy (it’s more exciting and promotable) and so always seems to put the crazies like Dobson on TV, rather than thoughtful adults like Fred and Hapax.

  109. It’s a straw man to argue that I’m saying “all beliefs are equal.”
    No it’s not. It may be a misinterpretation, but it is by no means, a “straw man.” And since the only argument you seem to have with it is that some beliefs are privileged by law and others aren’t (which doesn’t even address the question of whether the beliefs themselves are equal), I’m not even convinced it’s a misinterpretation.
    a question of beliefs, which you repeatedly insist we may not “impose on others”.
    Not only have I not “repeatedly insisted” that, I have not said it even once. What I have “repeatedly insisted” is that some beliefs are supported by reality while others are not, and only the former group may be a valid basis for laws.
    You gave the example of laws against running red lights as an example of a law that “imposes our beliefs on others.” That law certainly is based on beliefs. It’s based on the belief that running red lights interferes with traffic flow and increases the risk of accidents. That belief is well supported by logic and evidence and is therefore a valid basis for law. Some people may believe that wearing pirate hats improves traffic flow and reduces the risk of accidents, but that belief is not equal to the belief about traffic lights. It is supported by neither logic nor evidence, and would therefore not be a valid basis for law.
    In that world, I can’t see any particular reason to have an abortion except for the pure fun of it, and yep, I’d advocate to make that illegal. I guess that means my support for a “woman’s right to choose” isn’t really genuine.
    Either that or you don’t take the concept of ‘rights’ very seriously. I can’t imagine anyone thinking having an abortion was “fun”, unless they had severe psychological problems, any more than I think that your world where “no woman will ever become pregnant except through free choice” etc, etc, will ever exist. Still, if women really do have a right to autonomy over their bodies, then the law has no business interfering with that right unless it has a very good, reality-based reason. No matter how offended you may be by the thought of women having abortions “for the pure fun of it,” you cannot justly restrict our rights on that basis.

  110. It’s a straw man to argue that I’m saying “all beliefs are equal.”
    No it’s not. It may be a misinterpretation, but it is by no means, a “straw man.” And since the only argument you seem to have with it is that some beliefs are privileged by law and others aren’t (which doesn’t even address the question of whether the beliefs themselves are equal), I’m not even convinced it’s a misinterpretation.
    a question of beliefs, which you repeatedly insist we may not “impose on others”.
    Not only have I not “repeatedly insisted” that, I have not said it even once. What I have “repeatedly insisted” is that some beliefs are supported by reality while others are not, and only the former group may be a valid basis for laws.
    You gave the example of laws against running red lights as an example of a law that “imposes our beliefs on others.” That law certainly is based on beliefs. It’s based on the belief that running red lights interferes with traffic flow and increases the risk of accidents. That belief is well supported by logic and evidence and is therefore a valid basis for law. Some people may believe that wearing pirate hats improves traffic flow and reduces the risk of accidents, but that belief is not equal to the belief about traffic lights. It is supported by neither logic nor evidence, and would therefore not be a valid basis for law.
    In that world, I can’t see any particular reason to have an abortion except for the pure fun of it, and yep, I’d advocate to make that illegal. I guess that means my support for a “woman’s right to choose” isn’t really genuine.
    Either that or you don’t take the concept of ‘rights’ very seriously. I can’t imagine anyone thinking having an abortion was “fun”, unless they had severe psychological problems, any more than I think that your world where “no woman will ever become pregnant except through free choice” etc, etc, will ever exist. Still, if women really do have a right to autonomy over their bodies, then the law has no business interfering with that right unless it has a very good, reality-based reason. No matter how offended you may be by the thought of women having abortions “for the pure fun of it,” you cannot justly restrict our rights on that basis.

  111. The abortion argument is always reduced to Here Are The Facts vs. This Is What I Believe.

  112. The abortion argument is always reduced to Here Are The Facts vs. This Is What I Believe.

  113. Still, if women really do have a right to autonomy over their bodies, then the law has no business interfering with that right unless it has a very good, reality-based reason. No matter how offended you may be by the thought of women having abortions “for the pure fun of it,” you cannot justly restrict our rights on that basis.
    You really got me going with this one, Beth. I too am offended by the notion of having abortions for the fun of it (if I were queen, I would outlaw killing animals for the fun of it) — but if I really believe in the right to bodily autonomy, I have to believe in it (I think) in (almost) any weird hypothetical universe we might construct.
    Returning to practicalities, though, in this universe I do believe that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy trumps an embryo or fetus’s right to life (again, up to a point, but again, as a practical matter we don’t need to go there).
    What you really want to know is how I will vote. I am imagining for the sake of argument two candidates for the same office, Anna and Bill. Anna has worked and voted to raise the minimum wage, end the war in Iraq, enforce the Geneva Conventions where they apply, make health care including contraception accessible to everyone, legalize same-sex marriage, toughen enforcement of workplace safety regulations, and outlaw abortion except to save the pregnant woman’s life. Bill is the other way around: he is vehemently pro-choice but on every other issue sings out of the same hymnal as James Dobson. (OK, so I am off in fantasyland again. Bear with me.) I have to say I’d probably vote for Anna, as I would believe that on balance she would do more good than harm.
    In other words, I’m not a single-issue voter. Returning to practicalities again, in my state you basically have to say you’re pro-choice, or at least not too pro-life (“personally I believe life begins at conception, but…”) to get elected to anything above dogcatcher. I usually vote for the (more) pro-choice candidate, simply because I favor the other positions of Anna above, and any candidate who holds all of them is almost always pro-choice as well. I would almost certainly vote against any candidate who campaigned using the phrase “this great Christian nation” (again, I can’t imagine any such candidate’s getting far where I live), because 1) the founders explicitly declared this not to be a Christian nation 2) I don’t want to live in a theocracy 3) I believe that imposing one’s religious beliefs on others is wrong as well as unconstitutional.
    Interestingly enough, my position on abortion is not based on religion at all. (Hang out on Dobson’s site? Please don’t make me.) It’s based on how I balance those competing rights.

  114. Still, if women really do have a right to autonomy over their bodies, then the law has no business interfering with that right unless it has a very good, reality-based reason. No matter how offended you may be by the thought of women having abortions “for the pure fun of it,” you cannot justly restrict our rights on that basis.
    You really got me going with this one, Beth. I too am offended by the notion of having abortions for the fun of it (if I were queen, I would outlaw killing animals for the fun of it) — but if I really believe in the right to bodily autonomy, I have to believe in it (I think) in (almost) any weird hypothetical universe we might construct.
    Returning to practicalities, though, in this universe I do believe that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy trumps an embryo or fetus’s right to life (again, up to a point, but again, as a practical matter we don’t need to go there).
    What you really want to know is how I will vote. I am imagining for the sake of argument two candidates for the same office, Anna and Bill. Anna has worked and voted to raise the minimum wage, end the war in Iraq, enforce the Geneva Conventions where they apply, make health care including contraception accessible to everyone, legalize same-sex marriage, toughen enforcement of workplace safety regulations, and outlaw abortion except to save the pregnant woman’s life. Bill is the other way around: he is vehemently pro-choice but on every other issue sings out of the same hymnal as James Dobson. (OK, so I am off in fantasyland again. Bear with me.) I have to say I’d probably vote for Anna, as I would believe that on balance she would do more good than harm.
    In other words, I’m not a single-issue voter. Returning to practicalities again, in my state you basically have to say you’re pro-choice, or at least not too pro-life (“personally I believe life begins at conception, but…”) to get elected to anything above dogcatcher. I usually vote for the (more) pro-choice candidate, simply because I favor the other positions of Anna above, and any candidate who holds all of them is almost always pro-choice as well. I would almost certainly vote against any candidate who campaigned using the phrase “this great Christian nation” (again, I can’t imagine any such candidate’s getting far where I live), because 1) the founders explicitly declared this not to be a Christian nation 2) I don’t want to live in a theocracy 3) I believe that imposing one’s religious beliefs on others is wrong as well as unconstitutional.
    Interestingly enough, my position on abortion is not based on religion at all. (Hang out on Dobson’s site? Please don’t make me.) It’s based on how I balance those competing rights.

  115. I thought about this all the way home, and I was wrong. What I think, having thought about it, is that we have natural moral rights, such as the right to bodily autonomy, but we also have natural moral duties, such as to refrain from wanton, capricious destruction of living things (including ourselves). We have a duty to minimize our ecological footprint and to use birth control (or abstain) if we don’t want to get pregnant. We have a duty not to abort just for the fun of it.
    I don’t do very well carrying out this duty (not being a vegetarian, for example), and I’m not about to try to legislate it, even if I could, but I do think it exists.

  116. I thought about this all the way home, and I was wrong. What I think, having thought about it, is that we have natural moral rights, such as the right to bodily autonomy, but we also have natural moral duties, such as to refrain from wanton, capricious destruction of living things (including ourselves). We have a duty to minimize our ecological footprint and to use birth control (or abstain) if we don’t want to get pregnant. We have a duty not to abort just for the fun of it.
    I don’t do very well carrying out this duty (not being a vegetarian, for example), and I’m not about to try to legislate it, even if I could, but I do think it exists.

  117. I too am offended by the notion of having abortions for the fun of it (if I were queen, I would outlaw killing animals for the fun of it)
    I agree that killing just for the fun of it is pretty sick and definitely tests the “I may not agree … but I’ll defend to the death your right ….” rule. I might be tempted to slack off a bit on the “to the death” part myself, but I’d never want to deny people a natural right just because I disapproved of the way they exercised it.
    I have to say I’d probably vote for Anna
    I probably would too. As I said earlier, one of the reasons I think this issue is so important is because it’s become the vanguard of what we might call the Dobson school of politics. So given the choice between a perfect Dobsonian with this one exception, or an anti-Dobsonian with this one exception, I’d have to go with the latter.
    we have natural moral rights, such as the right to bodily autonomy, but we also have natural moral duties, such as to refrain from wanton, capricious destruction of living things.
    I haven’t really thought of it in those terms, but that makes a lot of sense. The next question then, is how much right the government has to get involved in that. Morals seem like very personal things, a matter between you and your God, conscience, spirit, whatever. While the government has a duty to avoid infringing on your moral rights or your exercise of your moral duties and maybe even to prevent others from infringing on them, I’m not sure if it has any right to enforce either one. So while the government has a duty to protect our right to bodily autonomy, if someone chooses to deny themselves that right, there’s nothing the government can or should do about it. Even if a moral or religious leader preaches that it isn’t really a right and to exercise it would be a sin, the government must keep out of it.
    There are probably times when the government may enforce a moral duty, such a when it is also a social duty (e.g. raising a child without excessive abuse/neglect) or when it prevents grevious harm to even non-human life (e.g. torturing animals). But when a moral right conflicts with a moral duty, I think the government must give priority to the moral right.

  118. I don’t really see it as a matter of rights and duties. I see it as a solution to the problem: how can minimize the amount of control that other people exert over my life ? The answer is, I must participate in a society where controlling another person’s life is seen as wrong; unfortunately, this means that I’ll have to give up my plans to control other people’s lives.
    This is why I think that both Republicans and Democrats should be considered harmful. They both want to exercise an extraordinary amount of control over my actions. They want me to do different things, but, at the core, they’re very similar, and I want them both out of my life.

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