Preached down to four

Preached down to four October 16, 2010

Clarence Jordan, the late founder of Koinonia Farm (the community that gave us Habitat for Humanity), used to tell a story that nicely illustrates the importance of "Test everything. Hold on to the good."

In the 1950s, an old hillbilly preacher invited Jordan to come and speak at his church in rural South Carolina. Jordan arrived to find, to his surprise, a large, thriving and racially integrated congregation — a remarkable thing in that time and place. (Sadly, it's actually a remarkable thing in any time or place.) So Clarence asked the man how this came about.

When he first got there as a substitute preacher, the old man said, it was a small, all-white congregation of a few dozen families. So he gave a sermon on the bit from Galatians where Paul writes: "You are all children of God … There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Here I'll pick up from Tony Campolo's retelling of Jordan's story:

"When the service was over, the deacons took me in the back room and they told me they didn't want to hear that kind of preaching no more."

Clarence asked, "What did you do then?"

The old preacher answered, "I fired them deacons!"

"How come they didn't fire you?" asked Clarence.

"Well, they never hired me," the old preacher responded. … "Once I found out what bothered them people, I preached the same message every Sunday. It didn't take much time before I had that church preached down to four."

That story gets at something I was trying to say Thursday in my strange phone conversation with the Granny Inquisitor, my first-time-caller, long-time-nonlistener.

And yeah, that really happened — at 11 a.m., no less, which is for me pretty much still the middle of the night, the equivalent of 3 a.m. for those of you who work 9 to 5 (although she couldn't have known that).

I'm still a bit frustrated by the thought that this was probably my only chance to have a conversation with this fierce aunt and that I didn't make better use of this one chance to communicate the most essential things I wish I could have expressed to her, in part because I lost my temper. My patience with her for the first 20 minutes or so really was commendable, I think, but it doesn't excuse my angry impatience in the last five. Confronted with someone confrontational and constantly shouting interruptions I eventually wound up just shouting back — a failure of imagination and bad behavior on my part.

When I'm more awake, I often try to approach such situations by asking WWDND? or sometimes WWTDD? What would David Niven do? Or What would the Doctor do? In his Cliff-Notes summary of the Sermon on the Mount (in Romans 12), St. Paul said, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." That's sound advice (or, if you like, a wise command), but it's far from easy. So sometimes the next best thing to overcoming evil with good is to try to respond to it with an unflappable politeness.

In this case, I'm afraid, I turned out to be quite flappable. I flapped. Instead of overcoming evil with good, I wound up just naming it as such, loudly, and then hanging up. Could have done worse. Should have done better.

As a result I wasn't able to ask what I really wanted to ask her, which was this: Your nephew has rejected something or someone — but are you sure that it's really Jesus? Was he rejecting the genuine article, or just some counterfeit impostor?

The former would, in my view, be grounds for great sadness. The latter, however, ought to bring rejoicing here on earth as it does in heaven.

After all, we can't hold on to the good if we're trying to hold on to something else instead.

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  • @Mary Kaye: I am currently trying to find the way to express anger that makes it clear that yes, I am angry, but doesn’t cause him to jump from there to “She’s going to abandon me.”
    I have quite a temper and I have learned that when arguing about something that makes me really angry with people I really love that it helps to start out by saying something like:

    One of the reasons that this makes me so angry is that I love you, like to be around you and get frustrated when something happens that ruins our time together

    in other words, specifically starting by saying that I am annoyed at the circumstance without loving the person any less. It also helps to remind me to use language clarifying that it is what the person said or did that has angered me rather than the person themself.

  • @Kirala:
    But what is “correctly”?
    It’s ultimately a subjective thing, because ‘correctly’ to me implies that the woman has chosen in accordance with her own desires and motivations without someone else joggling her elbow, as it were (so all abortion clinic picketers should GO AWAY).
    But if one defines ‘correctly’ as being something like “that which appeases my own sense of discomfort”, then one has made it not about her, but about oneself, which isn’t fair or appropriate.
    The biggest beef I have with anti-abortion types who don’t keep their viewpoints to themselves is how far they’re willing to go to have their idea of what constitutes ‘correctly’ be the only open choice at all, and to use the law of the land not to enforce the stricture, “do not harm other people”, but to actively enforce a particular moral/ethical choice.
    Now you could argue that “do not harm other people” thus extends to the fetus, but this takes us right back to a useful definition of “person”. The broadest workable definition, I think, is this:
    “A person is any person who exists as a separate individual with DNA recognizable as human, and consequently capable of learning, thinking and communicating.”
    There are probably fuzzy edges to this definition, but it obeys a univeralist criterion of not defining personhood by race or sex – or for that matter, other traits not germane to the quality of personhood-as-originating-from-being-a-human-being.

  • Mary Kaye, thanks for the parable. That’s very useful.

  • chris the cynic

    Kirala, I have a question.
    If I understand what I’ve just read correctly you are saying that the mother-child connection is so strong that in many cases it overrules the mother’s choice of which parts of her body, if any, may be used to keep another person (that person being the child in this case) alive.
    If that is correct (is it?) when, if ever, does that stop happening? Birth? The age of two? Puberty? When the child becomes a legal adult? When the child is eligible for Medicare? When the child dies?
    People are obviously pretty closely related to their mothers and as such it isn’t difficult to imagine someone getting in a situation other than pregnancy where some part or parts of a mother’s body would be necessary to keep the person alive. When, other than pregnancy, do you think the person’s life should outweigh the person’s mother’s ability to choose what is done with her body?

    If anyone is wondering what point I’m trying to make, I have no point. I sort of wish I did have one.

  • Lori

    Incidentally, that reminds me. I need to get my name into the “donate organs if found dead” database for British Columbia.

    Is that how you guys do it? Here in the US if you want to be an organ donor you sign up when you get your driver’s license. An indicator is put on your license and you have a card to carry in your wallet with it so that people at the hospital will know you’re a donor. I’ve been carrying one around since I was old enough to sign up and my family knows that I want to be a donor, so hopefully if the situation ever arises my organs will go to people in need. Now that the procedure is less harrowing I’d also be happy to sign up to be a bone marrow donor. Unfortunately there are some costs involved (for the initial testing) that the donor has to carry. It’s not much, but at this point I just don’t have the money.

  • chris the cynic

    Oh god I’m slow. It looks like the question has already been asked at least a page before whereever my comment ended up. Sorry.

  • It’s *supposed* to be by way of driver’s licence here too but it’s frustratingly hard to find out exactly how to add my name to the database.

  • “A person is any person who exists as a separate individual with DNA recognizable as human, and consequently capable of learning, thinking and communicating.”
    Without going into how this conflicts with the current US legal definition of “personhood” (because oy vey, do I ever think that that corporate personhood was the greatest mistake ever perpetrated by the courts) I would gently point out that this definition excludes those who are severely mentally or neurologically disabled.
    This may be your intent, but I do not think it is universally recognized as self-evident.

  • *smacks forehead with hand* and of course the instant I decide to try a DIFFERENT Google search (i.e. not with driver’s licences) up comes the BC Transplant Society which, I just found out, has a legally binding database, which means it takes precedence. Now all I need is the sticker for my CareCard.

  • Without going into how this conflicts with the current US legal definition of “personhood” (because oy vey, do I ever think that that corporate personhood was the greatest mistake ever perpetrated by the courts) I would gently point out that this definition excludes those who are severely mentally or neurologically disabled.

    Crap. Definitely wasn’t thinking hard enough.
    “A person is any person who exists as a separate individual with DNA recognizable as human, and consequently is able to stay alive, be it with or without the aid of mechanical devices.”

  • sharky

    Crap. Definitely wasn’t thinking hard enough.
    Suddenly, I’m reminded of the criteria for human life someone came up with to argue against abortion. He got furious with me when I pointed out he’d just declared everyone’s cancers human.

  • And my definition was self-referential.
    “A person has DNA recognizable as human, exists as a separate individual, and consequently is able to stay alive with or without the assistance of mechanical devices.”

  • hf, Supreme High Lamb-y Dragon-y Person of Christians for the Antichrist

    Um, unless you’ve squeezed an awful lot in the term “individual”, this doesn’t touch on what I consider morally important. Acid, nucleic or otherwise, just seems like a chemical.

  • As I see it, removing the death penalty means safeguarding against a wrongful conviction.

    Yep. Recently there’s been a to-do in Texas after a man was convicted and executed for killing his children via arson…only for the key evidence to have come into question and there being a significant chance he didn’t do it at all (IIRC, he confessed…but only after being in jail for a while. He may very well have confessed to being Santa Claus at that point, if he thought that would get him a lighter sentence). Perry is or was interfering with the expert commission set up to examine the case and other similar ones. Yeah…

    Apologies if Rusty finds this a callous response-to-a-response to a post which was being supportive of me, but I have honestly found logic (or Logic, if you prefer) to be an elusive creature which I suspect is most often championed when being abused.

    That surprises me, to me it’s always been a kinda concrete(-ish) thing that mostly shows up in math and not all that often elsewhere. Probably because I’m a math major, though.

    Years ago — I was the graduate student representative to the departmental committee of the whole. Chair was talking on and on about “manpower” “manhours” etc. always using “man” not person. This was, I think, my second meeting and with real trepidation I raised my hand and said “please don’t say manpower.” The professor snapped at me about it being a gender neutral phrase that had been used for years and I was overly sensitive — you know the drill.

    That’s strange, because I’ve mostly seen those terms used in a military context, especially prior to the end of the draft, when it really was “man”power available, mostly (and solely for combat units–okay, that’s still the case, sort of). I wouldn’t really have thought to use them in a civilian context. I wonder what a gender-neutral term for “manpower” would be in the context I’m thinking of–the total supply of people either (depending on the context) available for a draft or already enlisted in the military. “Staff” obviously wouldn’t fit…

    Also, see “mother” as the source or ultimate peak, ie “mother ship” or “mother lode”. I don’t know that we’d ever be able to trace the etymology, but I’m generally okay with it; compared with, say, MILF, I don’t think it’s nearly as problematic.

    A lot of the time the “mothership” gives “birth” to other ships, though, so that might be a more straightforward derivation. I know my prototype for the word (the Mothership from Homeworld) was really rather a lot like a ship-that-is-a-mother, especially with the female personification/voice actor.

  • Well, you have to start SOMEwhere to define a human. In the past it was a lot more nebulous but these days, DNA’s pretty much the qualifier, since we know humans have (mostly) 46 chromosomes with (mostly) the right kind of base pair sequences, and variations from these are known (and more are being found all the time) and do not disqualify a person from being human.
    But a skin cell in and of itself isn’t a person; it has to be attached to a being capable of living.

  • sharky

    Pius: Sorry, that comment about cancer was meant to be a humorous observation, not a critique! I’d have pitched in with something concrete to work with if I had critiques. I see the whole thing as a difference between stages of development and the final product, though. (Otherwise, we’d have to have a law against absorbing other people, which wombmates can do to each other.)

  • Well, the cancer as human thing was kind of bizarrely odd. :P

  • Yes, and that definition also does include the seventh month foetus, who definitely has human DNA, is a biologically separate individual, and (if delivered prematurely or by Caesarean) is capable of sustaining life with extensive mechanical assistance.
    Which again may be your intent. It certainly seemed to be the operating definition of the Courts when they permit bans on late term abortions.
    Really, I would prefer that the law stay out of the whole “defining human” business completely. Not the least because I don’t want to be encumbered by a whole lot of inconvenient restrictions when we eventually meet our paranormal and/or interstellar brothers and sisters ;->

  • Re mother etc.
    Anecdata: In nuclear studies, we speak of “parent” isotopes and “daughter” isotopes. But never “mother” or “son”. I don’t know who first pioneered the terms but they’ve been in use ever since. :)

  • sharky

    Pius: He was going for a definition something like: “more than one cell capable of growth, with genes different than the person it’s growing in, currently dependent on that person, developing through different stages…” and other traits.
    He was basically trying to define human life in a way that absolutely included every stage of pregnancy, but it so happens cancer fits all those (if it had completely identical DNA, it wouldn’t be cancer.)

  • @hapax: I don’t object even to the D&C type abortions which are almost end-of-pregnancy abortions. They’re very rare, but I would prefer to err on the side of permitting ALL abortions rather than faffing about with the blurring of the lines between externally viable fetuses and not-externally-viable fetuses given modern medical technology.
    Now, non-human sentient aliens – hooboy. When that happens we WILL really have to re-assess what it means to say that a being has rights and freedoms.
    But not today :P Where’s that TF post, eh?

  • Lori

    He was basically trying to define human life in a way that absolutely included every stage of pregnancy, but it so happens cancer fits all those (if it had completely identical DNA, it wouldn’t be cancer.)

    A perfect demonstration of why it’s a bad idea to attempt to define “human” with the intent of banning abortion, as opposed to figuring out what it means to be human. Starting from where you want to end up and working backwards is fine in some circumstances, but it tends to work a lot better for things like concrete tasks than for philosophical and moral debate.

  • “A person is any person who exists as a separate individual with DNA recognizable as human, and consequently capable of learning, thinking and communicating.”

    I would define a “person” (though not a human) more broadly, just to make sure it’s future proof (ie., no needing to fuzz around with aliens/AIs/uplifts/etc. etc.–they’re already defined as “people”). One-liner would be something like “sapient”, ie. capable of consciousness and self-awareness. Hopefully this doesn’t fall afoul of hapax’s mention of neurological and mental disabilities.
    Obviously a corporation wouldn’t qualify, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as hapax said.

  • Erl

    Who speaks for the child?
    This is so key, mmy. I’ve been thinking (in several different areas) about how we often elide the crucial difference between “what would this entity think, if we assign it several priorities that seem reasonable,” “what do we think, on behalf of this entity,” and “what does this entity think for itself.”
    Now, you can make a case that we can assign a hypothetical fetus reasonable priorities that we could all agree on. But that’s a necessary step. Especially when dealing with groups that for whatever reason do not often speak on their own behalf, it is vital not to gloss over the distinction between “speaking out” and “speaking out on behalf of.”

  • Lunch Meat

    I just have a question–if a seventh-month fetus is externally viable (and eventually, with improving medical technology, a four or five month fetus), what’s the harm with banning abortion, but allowing, I don’t know what you would call it, an extremely premature Caesarean, after which the baby continues to develop in an artificial womb, and then is put up for adoption? It ends the mother’s attachment to and responsibility for the fetus at the same time an abortion would, but preserves life where possible.
    Assuming that this is a more ideal world and people are more willing to adopt, and the costs of keeping premature infants went down as the technology got more advanced. I honestly have no idea how much it costs to care for premature babies but I know any kind of birth that’s in any way complicated costs a heck of a lot of money.

  • sharky

    Assuming that this is a more ideal world and people are more willing to adopt
    That’s the fun thing. I’ve referenced it before in an earlier thread: pick up a copy of “The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade.” America used to have a supply system for healthy babies, which was: coercing or outright taking them from unwed teenage mothers. The pool of available brand-new babies has changed with the presence of available contraceptives and abortion.
    Also, lots of people are willing to adopt white babies, but fewer want babies of other shades.
    Finally, you’d have people not wanting the Caesarean for risk to the fetus, and you’d have many angry people screaming about women’s silly choices increasing the costs to the taxpayer.
    Basically, this solution seems to require bits taken off from that perfect world we don’t have yet.

  • Lori

    I just have a question–if a seventh-month fetus is externally viable (and eventually, with improving medical technology, a four or five month fetus), what’s the harm with banning abortion, but allowing, I don’t know what you would call it, an extremely premature Caesarean, after which the baby continues to develop in an artificial womb, and then is put up for adoption? It ends the mother’s attachment to and responsibility for the fetus at the same time an abortion would, but preserves life where possible.

    I don’t understand your timeline. Seven months is not the time that would “end the mother’s attachment to and responsibility for the fetus”. The vast majority of legal abortions take place before the end of the 3rd month. Seven months is a long time when you’re pregnant. Certainly long enough for the pregnancy to totally wreck the mother’s life in many cases. Even 4 or 5 months will do that in many cases. For example when, as has been discussed here more than once, a mother has to go off meds that are sustaining her life in order to avoid birth defects.

  • Lunch Meat

    Finally, you’d have people not wanting the Caesarean for risk to the fetus, and you’d have many angry people screaming about women’s silly choices increasing the costs to the taxpayer.
    Well, since I’m inventing worlds anyway, we could say that the new adoptive parents are willing and able to incur the costs of the infant’s medical care, so the government would only have to pay for the C-section itself.
    But yeah, that answers my question.

  • burgundy

    if a seventh-month fetus is externally viable (and eventually, with improving medical technology, a four or five month fetus), what’s the harm with banning abortion, but allowing, I don’t know what you would call it, an extremely premature Caesarean, after which the baby continues to develop in an artificial womb, and then is put up for adoption?
    But are there any abortions for which this would be relevant? How many mentally competent* women will maintain a pregnancy for 7 months and then decide to terminate it, absent some kind of health threat to either themselves or the fetus? Some women end up having abortions later than they would like, because access is so restricted, but if you eliminate that barrier, then what’s left? I’m not going to say this never never never happens, because one can pretty much always find an example of any given phenomenon, but I feel like if you accept that women are generally motivated by explicable human motivations, then this situation becomes so rare that legislating toward it is a bit of a waste of time.
    *I did know one woman who aborted a healthy, previously-wanted pregnancy at about 7 months. She was suffering from an undiagnosed and therefore untreated mental illness. She self-induced, using knitting needles, and nearly died herself. I think it goes without saying that this is not the kind of thing that could be resolved by an early labor and artificial womb.

  • Well, one could argue for the Bujoldian uterine replicators, I suppose. But really, that gets into the territory of “If your grandmother had wheels, would it be ethical to treat her as a taxicab?”
    Speaking of Bujold, my pre-ordered copy of CRYOBURN just arrived a few hours ago, and it bids fair to deal with all sorts of meaty biomedical ethical questions.

  • Lunch Meat

    I don’t understand your timeline. Seven months is not the time that would “end the mother’s attachment to and responsibility for the fetus”. The vast majority of legal abortions take place before the end of the 3rd month.
    Sorry, Lori. I meant to be replying to Pius Thicknesse, whose preliminary definition of person included a 7-month fetus, but who stated that he wanted those abortions to remain legal. I took so long to type that a lot of posts went in between them.
    I don’t dispute that the late-term abortion is very rare, but I was speaking to the specific situation of a late-term pregnancy.

  • Lori

    I somehow hit post too soon.
    Even if we had a fully functioning artificial womb and plenty of good parents ready to adopt that solution still makes a woman’s bodily autonomy conditional. It would be saying, “You have control of your body except for the X months you have to gestate until the machine can take over for you.” I don’t believe that would ever be acceptable, but I’d be willing to at least discuss it when we create a similar, legally enforced contingency on male bodily autonomy.

  • burgundy

    It would be saying, “You have control of your body except for the X months you have to gestate until the machine can take over for you.” I don’t believe that would ever be acceptable
    Yep. There are already people who argue, essentially, “It’s only 9 months, what’s the big deal.” I don’t see how winnowing it down to 7 months, or 5 months, makes it any better. a) That’s still plenty long enough to ruin someone’s life, and b) if a woman doesn’t want to be pregnant, then she doesn’t want to be pregnant, and 7 months of not having ownership of one’s body is not materially different from 9 months.

  • MercuryBlue

    Lori: Personally I’d define ‘fully functioning artificial womb’ as ‘capable of sustaining any stage of pregnancy’. So the ‘X months you have to gestate until the machine can take over for you’ would be ‘however long it takes to schedule the surgery to get the embryo from the biological mother’s uterus to the artificial uterus’.

  • Sorry, Lori. I meant to be replying to Pius Thicknesse, whose preliminary definition of person included a 7-month fetus, but who stated that he wanted those abortions to remain legal. I took so long to type that a lot of posts went in between them.

    Ah, I get it.
    Also, when, how & why did Typepad log me out? I swear the thing is possessed.

  • Dav

    But a skin cell in and of itself isn’t a person; it has to be attached to a being capable of living.
    Voila: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/153444.stm

  • @Rowen, Deoridhe, Amaryllis: Thank you! Rowen, I spun it, but I bought it already dyed.
    Re: motherfucker: many, many years ago I read, don’t remember where, that it originated with slaves, talking about the slaveowners who raped black women. So motherfucker would refer to the owner who was raping the slave’s mother, not to a person fucking his own mother. I can’t vow for the veracity of this etimology, though. I can’t even remember my source.

  • Personally I’d define ‘fully functioning artificial womb’ as ‘capable of sustaining any stage of pregnancy’. So the ‘X months you have to gestate until the machine can take over for you’ would be ‘however long it takes to schedule the surgery to get the embryo from the biological mother’s uterus to the artificial uterus’.

    Yeah, but if we’re going that far we might as well go all the way and create the embryo in a test tube and leave off telling women what to do altogether.

  • MercuryBlue

    Lori: Yeah, that’d be nice, but it’d also require 100% effective contraception used every time a vagina and a penis interact without the explicit goal of pregnancy. Which, if we had that, there wouldn’t be nearly as much call for the artificial uterus.
    Arguing with an idiot in another forum. Since Canadian Thanksgiving is just past, I’d like to say I’m very thankful for y’all. Y’all are intelligent human beings and y’all are willing to admit that hey maybe the other side’s got a point too.

  • I just have a question–if a seventh-month fetus is externally viable (and eventually, with improving medical technology, a four or five month fetus), what’s the harm with banning abortion, but allowing, I don’t know what you would call it, an extremely premature Caesarean, after which the baby continues to develop in an artificial womb, and then is put up for adoption? It ends the mother’s attachment to and responsibility for the fetus at the same time an abortion would, but preserves life where possible.
    Late term abortions like that are not elective, they’re medical. They’re usually performed because the fetus is nonviable in some way and it’s easier for the woman’s body to get it out while it’s small, or due to some threat the pregnancy causes to the woman’s life, or because the woman needs life-saving treatment that will kill the fetus anyway. Outlawing late-term abortion does not serve to save viable babies, but does serve to make it more difficult for women to get the treatment they desperately need. The US outlawed late-term abortions, and now there’s only one or two doctors in the US willing and able to perform them, and not all women who need the procedure can afford to go to them.

  • Ursula L

    f a seventh-month fetus is externally viable (and eventually, with improving medical technology, a four or five month fetus), what’s the harm with banning abortion, but allowing, I don’t know what you would call it, an extremely premature Caesarean, after which the baby continues to develop in an artificial womb, and then is put up for adoption?
    Well, one harm is that a premature c-section is far more invasive and medically risky for a pregnant woman than a properly performed abortion. If a woman needs to end a pregnancy, for whatever reasons she may have, then being able to choose the ending that is safe and non-invasive is pretty important. Telling someone she has to have major surgery, with no benefit to herself, is pretty harsh.
    Seriously. You’re talking about cutting open a woman, against her will, and with no benefit for her.

  • If anyone wants to find out more about why women have late-term abortions in the real world, I suggest reading A Heartbreaking Choice. Keep the tissues handy.
    Yeah, that’d be nice, but it’d also require 100% effective contraception used every time a vagina and a penis interact without the explicit goal of pregnancy. Which, if we had that, there wouldn’t be nearly as much call for the artificial uterus.
    Well, except for all the women who wanted children but did not want to or were not able to risk their health and well-being by carrying feti in their wombs.
    Also, in this lovely fantasy world Lunch Meat is constructing, who pays for the intensive care the extremely premature babies would need? It costs a fortune.

  • MercuryBlue

    There are two doctors in the US willing to perform late-term abortions? I thought it was two before Dr. Tiller’s murder.

  • MercuryBlue

    MG: Didn’t say there’d be no call for artificial wombs. Just that the unexpectedly and unwantedly pregnant women wouldn’t be using them, because there wouldn’t be any unexpected pregnancies.

  • Mostly I threw in the two because I couldn’t remember whether or not another one had started, and didn’t really feel like going looking.

  • Lunch Meat

    Also, in this lovely fantasy world Lunch Meat is constructing, who pays for the intensive care the extremely premature babies would need? It costs a fortune.
    As I said, since I’m inventing worlds anyway, I might as well say that the adoptive parents would pay for it. My question has been answered, and I’m dismissing my entirely theoretical and admittedly idealistic proposal. Thank you for the information. I really don’t know that much about pregnancy-related medical procedures, and I’m glad to be more informed.

  • You know, Lunch Meat, in the future, it might be a good plan to do research on topics you want to know about.

  • Okay, either Pius is confused or I am.
    I thought that D&C (Dilation and Curettage) is the procedure for early stage abortions (and also used for removing some uterine tumors and in the instance of un-shed uterine lining cause by some hormonal conditions) and D&E (Dilation and Extraction/Evacuation) is the procedure for late stage abortions. (And neither of those is the procedure used in most ectopic pregnancies, which require a surgical removal of part or all of the Fallopian tube, depending on how advanced the pregnancy and whether the tube has ruptured.)

  • a male professor argued publicly that the proposed change was unfair because it meant that he might would get in trouble if he had a one-night stand with a young woman and she later was admitted and became one of his students.

    What was that about male porn viewers not imaging themselves as the male protagonists?

    If it hurts people, it hurts people, whether or not it’s intended to.

    Yes. Fretting about “intent” results in setting the bar for bigoted isms way too high, where the only person who would qualify as a racist is a cartoon villain who cackles with glee at the thought of other ethnicities dying and suffering. Two movie versions of “intent” – Pino in Do the Right Thing openly proclaiming his hate, and Diz in The Stepford Wives saying “Because we can.” The far greater evil is the ignorance, rationalization and denial practiced by real bigots.

    apparently this student went to the 9/12 thing and a few other things and took a bunch of pictures and only six percent of them were offensive and none were racist.

    That’s been my frustration with media converage of the Tea Party, and goes along with my point about the bar for isms. I read at least half a dozen interviews that mirrored my own experience with Tea Partiers, where their complaints about government always turned into rants about “good people” and “real Americans” being taxed to support the “welfare class” and “people who don’t want to work.” Even with that Southern Strategy legacy in their faces, too many in the media still focused on the inflammatory signs and missed the larger picture.
    I admit I have a strong trigger regarding anger in general, which is my own problem. To me, it doesn’t feel true that someone could be angry in my real-life presence and not be angry at me specifically. And it doesn’t feel true that someone could be angry at me and it could be entirely the person’s own issue where I wasn’t at fault. I once said that there’s a reason that “anger” is the last five letter of “danger” – it doesn’t feel true someone who is angry all the time isn’t one provocation away from lashing out indiscriminately in violence.

  • Ursula L

    We could probably expand that one sentence into a book. I could probably write a ten-page essay tonight off the top of my head with my half-considered details and caveats. And since I am making an ethical, not a legal, argument, I say that the child would speak for itself.
    The child would speak for itself? Huh? How?
    A fetus can’t speak. So it can’t speak for itself. Any claims about it “speaking” for itself are nonsense. Or a cover for the speaker to project what they think the child would say.
    But is it what the child would say? Or what the adult the child might grow into would say? I say that my mother should have had the choice to abort me, if that was what was right for her, and that I don’t want to know that my life is mine because she was forced through a pregnancy against her will. But you don’t hear people talking about “who speaks for the child” imagining the child being one who grows up pro-choice, including pro-choice for their own mother.
    The reality of pregnancy is that fetuses can’t speak, and so can’t speak for themselves. So it is a matter of a woman speaking for herself and the child she is carrying, or someone else forcing her to do something against her will. Any moral consideration of the situation needs to work with that fact.