Smart people saying smart things

Smart people saying smart things March 21, 2012

Michelle Alexander: “Go to Trial: Crash the Justice System

“What would happen if we organized thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of people charged with crimes to refuse to play the game, to refuse to plea out? What if they all insisted on their Sixth Amendment right to trial? Couldn’t we bring the whole system to a halt just like that?”

… The Bill of Rights guarantees the accused basic safeguards, including the right to be informed of charges against them, to an impartial, fair and speedy jury trial, to cross-examine witnesses and to the assistance of counsel.

But in this era of mass incarceration — when our nation’s prison population has quintupled in a few decades partly as a result of the war on drugs and the “get tough” movement — these rights are, for the overwhelming majority of people hauled into courtrooms across America, theoretical. More than 90 percent of criminal cases are never tried before a jury. Most people charged with crimes forfeit their constitutional rights and plead guilty.

“People should understand that simply exercising their rights would shake the foundations of our justice system which works only so long as we accept its terms. As you know, another brutal system of racial and social control once prevailed in this country, and it never would have ended if some people weren’t willing to risk their lives. It would be nice if reasoned argument would do, but as we’ve seen that’s just not the case.”

Charlie Pierce: “The Crusaders

“There’s two questions there,” says the Rev. C. John McCloskey III, smiling. … “One is, Do I think it would be better that way? No. Do I think it’s possible? Do I think it’s possible for someone who believes in the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of family, over a period of time to choose to survive with people who think it’s OK to kill women and children or for — quote — homosexual couples to exist and be recognized?

“No, I don’t think that’s possible,” he says. “I don’t know how it’s going to work itself out, but I know it’s not possible, and my hope and prayer is that it does not end in violence. But, unfortunately, in the past, these types of things have tended to end this way.

“If American Catholics feel that’s troubling, let them. I don’t feel it’s troubling at all.”

If it sounds like a call from an Old Testament desert, that’s not where the 49-year-old McCloskey operates. He’s the priest of the power corridor, right there on K Street in Washington, where you can look out the windows of his Catholic Information Center and see the sharpies flocking on the sidewalk, organizing the complicated subleasing of various parts of the national treasure.

Carolyn Jones: “‘We Have No Choice’: One Woman’s Ordeal With Texas’ New Sonogram Law

The doctor and nurse were professional and kind, and it was clear that they understood our sorrow. They too apologized for what they had to do next. For the third time that day, I exposed my stomach to an ultrasound machine, and we saw images of our sick child forming in blurred outlines on the screen.

“I’m so sorry that I have to do this,” the doctor told us, “but if I don’t, I can lose my license.” Before he could even start to describe our baby, I began to sob until I could barely breathe. Somewhere, a nurse cranked up the volume on a radio, allowing the inane pronouncements of a DJ to dull the doctor’s voice. Still, despite the noise, I heard him. His unwelcome words echoed off sterile walls while I, trapped on a bed, my feet in stirrups, twisted away from his voice.

Fifth Pevensie: “I’m Pro-Choice and Christian, Ask Me How

I know a lot of people who think being pro-choice is incompatible with Christianity, and I know that it can be a very sensitive topic and I’m generally not interested in starting fights. But I also know I can’t be super secretive about it forever. I’m pro-choice and pro-contraception-access because I think all children should be deeply loved and cared for and appreciated, and I think all mothers should be willing and enthusiastic about caring for their children. I don’t think it’s my position to dictate how other people make sexual and reproductive choices; I know what I think about sex for myself, and maybe sometime I’ll tell you if you’re curious. I’m all for lowering the abortion rate but only in the same way that I’m for lowering the rates of other medical procedures through adequate prevention and care, and I know that the countries with the lowest abortion rates are also the ones with comprehensive sex ed and widespread contraception access. And I know that being pro-choice means supporting whatever choice is being made. …

I’m also a theology student, and the more I study (or the more heretical I become, depending on who you’re talking to), the more I’m not sure the Bible really has much to say about reproductive rights, beyond an Ancient Near East understanding of the importance of children and the cultural shame of a barren wife, and there is something in Exodus 21 about paying a woman restitution if you cause her to miscarry. …


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  • Tonio

    The idea of someone being both Christian and pro-choice isn’t so surprising if one remembers that one can believe abortion is wrong and still favor its legality. The legal status doesn’t amount to a government endorsement of abortion. In the strict sense, no one is “pro-abortion.”

  • friendly reader

    I believe it was Leonard Pitts who noted that, while he feels ambivalent on abortion, pro-choice advocates don’t cheer at the number of abortions every year…

  • Catherine

    Hang on – that Pierce article is 2003. What’s happening today

  • Anonymous

     I am… abortion saves lives. I’m very pro-abortion.

  • In the strict sense, no one is “pro-abortion.”

    Incorrect. If a woman I care about chooses to get an abortion, I don’t say, “Well, I think you’re being an immoral slut, but I respect your right to choose to be an immoral slut.” I am deeply, completely, ALL FOR her having that abortion. I am PRO that abortion; I don’t just tolerate it, I DESIRE ITS OCCURRENCE. Because she’s decided it’s the best course of action for her, and I want what’s best for her (same as for anyone I care about).

  • friendly reader

    Reading more of the Pierce article,

    “There’s a name for Catholics who dissent from church teachings,” he says. “They’re called Protestants.

    I have always wondered why the Episcopalians haven’t been more active in recruiting disgruntled Catholics. I think many Catholics would feel more at home in High Church Anglicanism. Is it a cultural attachment to the label? Is it all the crap Protestants put them through in the past (and still sometimes do today)? Do they still hold out hope of change from the inside?

  • Eminnith

    In the news:  In vitro babies denied U.S. citizenship. I’m not sure how this fits in with Family Values™, exactly, but it’s certainly got to tie in with someone’s agenda somehow.

  • Tonio

    No, that term denotes a belief that abortion is a good thing in and of itself, which is obviously a straw man. You’re right that abortion does save lives, but that’s merely because it’s the best choice in those situations where no choice can be optimal, such as the one Carolyn Jones faced. Putting aside the attempt at emotional manipulation involved with compulsory ultrasounds, it’s a cruel injustice that people like Jones are even faced with such choices in the first place.

  • Anonymous

     I suspect that many Catholics–U.S. Catholics, anyway–do what my Catholic friends do:  ignore the Church when they think it’s being wrong and stupid.  In matters of sex, one of my friends insists, “Holy Father, if you don’t play the game, you don’t get to make the rules.”  That seems to be a common sentiment.

  • Yeah look, we’re all aware that there are women who do want to carry their pregnancy to term but have to abort it due to complications. And that’s tragic.

    But abortion is a good thing in and of itself. Not every woman who gets an abortion felt she had to. Many want to. And I’ve known women who have gotten abortions and didn’t think, “Aw, I wish I hadn’t had to do that.” Mostly it was, “Wow, I’m SO GLAD I was able to do that!”

    I mean, if you don’t want a baby, yeah, contraception is obviously your first line of defense. But contraception will never, ever have a 100% success rate (and unfortunately, despite conservative blatherings, neither will abstinence, for various reasons including moments of passion and, far more tragically, rape).

    I have exactly zero concern for blastocysts. Sorry. So “killing” a blastocyst doesn’t, for me, carry any of the negative associations that would lead to it being anything but a good thing, if it’s what the woman wants to do.

  • friendly reader

     I enjoy that line… but my point is, High Church Anglicanism is, liturgically, virtually identical with Catholicism, but with married priests, female priests, support for contraception, and (at least in most of America) support for homosexuality. So basically, you wouldn’t have to ignore your Church. Which means I think it has to be a tie to the label of “Catholic.”

    note: I’m not Episcopalian, so this isn’t me attempting to convince anyone to convert.

  • Tonio

    My point is that opponents are peddling a straw man where pro-choicers allegedly believe that abortion is inherently good for all pregnancies regardless of the circumstances. That’s far, far different from abortion making people’s lives better. The key here is that opponents preach a concept of morality that has little to do with outcomes.

    I’ve said frequently that no one should attempt to decide what is best for other people. If a woman decides it’s the best course for her, than it’s not for others to impose their own judgment, even in their own minds. It’s not a bad thing to want to reduce abortions, as long as we’re really talking about fewer unplanned pregnancies and fewer horrific diseases like Tay-Sachs.

  • Lori

    But abortion is a good thing in and of itself. Not every woman who gets an abortion felt she had to. Many want to. And I’ve known women who have gotten abortions and didn’t think, “Aw, I wish I hadn’t had to do that.” Mostly it was, “Wow, I’m SO GLAD I was able to do that!” 

    This is true, but I don’t know anyone who had an abortion who wouldn’t rather have not needed it in the first place. There is virtually no chance that we will ever have a world in which there is no such thing as being pregnant when you don’t want to be and every fetus is healthy, so abortion will always be needed. I’m not sure that describing that belief as being “pro abortion” is either accurate or helpful though. FWIW I don’t describe myself as pro chemotherapy either, even though I’m glad that it exists.

  • Guest

    Did you see this on John Scalzi’s blog? http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/03/20/guest-post-a-doctor-on-transvaginal-ultrasounds/ It’s a guest post by a doctor asking other  doctors to refuse to perform unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds on patients because it’s rape.

  • That’s funny, I would describe myself as pro-chemotherapy. I’m pro-my-antidepressants, too. Sure, I’d rather just not have depression, but here in this reality where I do, I don’t regard my antidepressants as a necessary evil, I regard them as pretty damn cool.

  • noyatin

    RE: Go to trial:  While this is a good idea, defendants should recognize that courts will impose significantly harsher sentences on those defendants who choose to go to trial. 

  • Tonio

    Remember that we’re dealing with people who either frame things in absolutes, or who pander to such people. Or both, in the case of Michelle Bachmann. The article below blames this on projection bias, a belief that because they don’t want women to have a choice
    about whether they carry pregnancies to term, liberals don’t want women
    to have that choice, either. I suspect that it’s more simple, where they misinterpret the woman’s decision as a statement that motherhood is inherently bad. They generally believe that
    women should be mothers and homemakers regardless of what the women
    themselves want.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/03/08/michele_bachmann_thinks_birth_control_rule_will_lead_to_a_one_child_policy.html

  • Quite so. I was kind of straw-manning your position earlier in the thread (for which I apologize), but in general I don’t like to see liberals with the attitude of “I don’t like abortion but I tolerate it” because if we “admit” that abortion is something negative, we’re giving in to conservative frames. It’s not a question of whether or not we should tolerate this negative thing, it’s a question of whether or not we should even regard it as a negative thing, which we should not. If we give into the negative perception of abortion, we reinforce conservatives’ worldview of themselves as moral crusaders and us liberals as decadent hedonists (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    Right now the biggest reason that abortion isn’t a pleasant option for many women is actually the cost. But let’s transport to an alternate universe for a moment where abortions are fully covered by the US government and its fantastic single-payer health system.

    “If I accidentally get pregnant, at least I can get an abortion” is a huge comfort for women that I know. Obviously they’d rather not get pregnant, but the possibility of pregnancy, however slim, is far more stressful if you don’t have any (affordable) options in case it does happen. And for reasons stated above, I don’t think it’s helpful to make a distinction between “availability of abortion is a good thing” and “abortion is a good thing.”

    Whereas (going back to Lori’s analogy) “If I get cancer, at least I can undergo chemotherapy” isn’t a comforting or reassuring thought at all, because chemotherapy is awful to endure.

  • Anonymous

    I think that’s a very misleading way of looking at it. 

    No woman sets out to have an abortion.  No woman says, “Abortion is a Good Thing, so I’ll get pregnant so I can have an abortion.”

    An abortion is something a woman has when she finds herself in a situation she never wanted to be in to begin with: she may have desired to get pregnant, but found that the baby she was carrying had more serious problems than she was ready to deal with, or she may not have wanted to be pregnant in the first place.  Either way, an abortion may be the best way out of a bad situation, but that’s the most that can be said for it.  Abortion is not desirable on its own merits.

  • Anonymous

    That’s bizarre.  My wife and I adopted our son overseas, and according to the immigration folks, he became a U.S. citizen when the wheels of the plane hit the ground at JFK (three years ago tomorrow, I’m delighted to say). 

    One would think that if there was no genetic link (and I say ‘genetic link’ because carrrying a child in one’s womb for nine months certainly qualifies as a *biological* link) between parents and child, and this was regarded as determinative for whatever absurd reason, then the child would qualify as an adopted child, and become a citizen on those grounds.

    But it shoudn’t even come to that.  Having to say you ‘adopted’ a fertilized egg in a Petri dish is about as ridiculous as it gets.

  • Tonio

    And a reason it’s not desirable on its own merits is because the question “when life begins” is unanswerable. Opponents insist with apparently absolute conviction that it begins at conception, and any argument that acknowledges the messy gray areas is going to sound mealy-mouthed by comparison. Because the real answer is “No one knows,” the matter ultimately has to come down to the individual woman’s conscience.

  • I didn’t set out to take strong painkillers when I got injured. But I am thrilled with Tramadol. It is a good thing. I wish I didn’t have to take Tramadol. But it lets me not be in unbearable pain all the time. I’m not going, “yay, I get to take Tramadol because I’m disabled!” 

    In the same way, safe, legal abortions are good things. No medical procedure is desirable “on its own merits,” because “on its own merits” makes no sense here. No one decides, “ooh, today I’d like to have a liver transplant, that sounds fun.” But liver transplants are good things.

  • It doesn’t matter when life begins. If someone wants to start using my body to live its life — and, moreover, in a way that endangers my health and life and permanently changes my body — I am entirely within my rights to do anything I can to protect myself. If my mother’s kidneys go out, and I’m the only match for her, nothing in the law can compel me to give up one of my own kidneys. And I hope there is no doubt that my mother is alive. I can’t even be compelled to give blood.

    Being pregnant is a choice to let something else use your body. Exactly when that thing starts being “alive” doesn’t really matter. Pregnancy is a huge sacrifice. It may be one joyfully undertaken, but that is what it is. Demanding that kind of bodily sacrifice from people is not something a free society can tolerate.

  • Anonymous

    I have always wondered why the Episcopalians haven’t been more
    active in recruiting disgruntled Catholics.

    Because “recruiting” Episcopalians is basically antithetical to the common outlook of many American Episcopalians.  The Episcopal Church’s policy as I’ve always understood it is that “recruiting” as it’s conceived of in the US is verboten.  You absolutely do not “witness” to “sinners”, and tell them shit like “accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and get pie in the sky when you die or burn in hell forever – you know, no pressure or anything.”

    Not only is it rude, but it’s not the way it works – people pick up the cross and follow – they don’t get handed a cross and told “go that way.”

  • Tonio

    Excellent points. No disagreement that it’s wrong to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term. Or to force her to have an abortion. I see this as not necessarily a right of a woman to decide what happens to her body, although that’s technically accurate, but instead as her right to be free from others’ attempts to force decisions on her body. For clarification, I hold no position on the rightness or wrongness of the act of abortion itself in the abstract, partly because I don’t have a womb and it’s not my judgment to make. I guess I’m saying that the people who oppose the coercion of women includes some who believe that abortion is wrong, and that the two positions are not incompatible.

  • Anonymous

    But in general I don’t like to see liberals with the attitude of “I
    don’t like abortion but I tolerate it” because if we “admit” that
    abortion is something negative, we’re giving in to conservative frames,

    God, I hate this outlook so much.  We can’t ever arrive at consensus because nobody can ever give an inch, because then we might see that the world is not exactly how they imagine it to be. 

    Pro-lifers refuse to see that there are situations where an abortion is a good thing.  Pro-choicers refuse to see that there are situations where an abortion is a bad thing.

    In a perfect world all children would be loved, and wanted – parents would never have to choose between an having abortion and feeding their existing kids.  Nobody would ever be raped, every birth defect or disease would have a cure, and birth control would be free and 100% effective.  But we don’t live in that world, we’re not GOING to live in that worlds, and getting into these first principles arguments about ACTUAL PEOPLE with ACTUAL PROBLEMS falsely divides the worlds into pro/anti and obscures any real solution in the sturm-and-drang of a simplistic and false binary division.  But at least this way it’s easy to figure out who the bad guy is right?

  • Anonymous

    A prisoners dilemma.  With actual prisoners.

  • Anonymous

    Whereas (going back to Lori’s analogy) “If I get cancer, at least I can undergo chemotherapy” isn’t a comforting or reassuring thought at all, because chemotherapy is awful to endure.

    It’s comforting and reassuring compared to “If I get cancer, I can have my body, consumed from the inside by immortal mutants, and die a a slow agonizing death.”

  • Anonymous

    Actually, the RCC is encouraging the reverse process: They have a program where Episcopal priests who are not homosexual can be frocked in Catholicism if they disagree with many of the changes taking place in the Episcopal church.  Basically, they saw the split taking place between the various branches of the Episcopal Church of North America and decided to take advantage of it.  It’s simmilar to the program they have for Anglican priests.  (Which is more or less the same thing, liturgically.)

    Here’s the article, it’s a few years out of date but its the most recent I could find: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1226449/Pope-allows-married-men-priests-bid-attract-Anglican-recruits.html

  • Aguilaoro88

    I have tried three or four times to write something I think would add to this discussion, but despite my best efforts to summon some kind of conext, the only comment even slightly germane that I can make is…

    For the article ‘we have no choice,’ I would have started my quotation with the line ‘I’m so sorry’ and ended with ‘terrible accident.’  I think that’s the real punch of the article.

  • Get over it. The bad guys are the ones trying to prevent women from having freedom over their own bodies. Sorry if that’s too simplistic for you, but your tepid “both sides are extreme, so whatever” outlook is too simplistic for my tastes.

    My concern here isn’t for purity of first principles, it’s for actual, tangible improvement of women’s lives. And by letting Republicans frame the discussion about abortion – well, we’ve seen what happens. Law after law after law, at both the federal and state level, restricting access to abortion, with no legitimate justification but always able to move through legislatures because not enough people are willing to stand up and defend abortion as a good in itself. The best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity.

    So I’m sorry you’re upset that I won’t join in on your chorus of I’m-above-it-all condemnation of both sides for just not being open-minded enough to see the other side’s point of view. I know what their point of view is, but more importantly, my concern isn’t about being fair to my political opponents, my concern is with minimizing harm and doing the most good for the most people, and that’s not going to happen via “consensus,” that’s going to happen via getting Republicans to shut the fuck up and get out of our government.

  • Anonymous

    “But abortion is a good thing in and of itself. Not every woman who gets an abortion felt she had to. Many want to. And I’ve known women who have gotten abortions and didn’t think, “Aw, I wish I hadn’t had to do that.” Mostly it was, “Wow, I’m SO GLAD I was able to do that!”

    That’s like saying at the dentist’s office, “”Wow, I’m SO GLAD I was able to get that cavity filled!”  Well sure, but you’d have rather not gotten that cavity in the first place.  Same with abortions: if you want one, what you *really* want is to not have gotten pregnant to begin with, and having an abortion is the closest thing you can manage.

    Getting a cavity filled isn’t a good thing in and of itself, in that you don’t want to create the conditions that would make it possible for you to get the cavity filled.  Getting it filled is inferior to the status quo ante of not having had a cavity in the first place.  It is not a thing to be sought.

  • Tonio

    “Actual, tangible improvement of women’s lives” is exactly my objective as well, which is why I see the important question as not abortion’s morality but its legality. While it’s not necessary to hold a position on the former to favor the latter, I do see its legality as a moral imperative to a major degree. Making abortion a crime would have horrific consequences for both women and their doctors.

  • it’s not necessary to hold a position on the former (the morality of abortion) to favor the latter  (the legality of abortion)

    Yup. It’s even possible to hold different positions on these two questions.

    For example, one can believe that abortion is an immoral choice that women should be legally free to make (similar to how one can believe that drinking alcohol is immoral without favoring prohibition).

    I’d be kind of wary in practice of someone who publicly championed such a position, though.

  • Anonymous

    Holy didn’t make my point!  Apparently I wasn’t clear. I’m sorry about that.

    Here you are claiming that abortion is a teleological good, even though you admit you don’t actually believe that, but because if you FAIL to claim abortion is a teleological good, the “other side” will use this chink in the armor to claim that abortion must therefore be a teleological evil.  I’m not trying to be some kind of “golden mean” moderate here, I’m saying the whole debate is mixed up in our classificatory strategies.

    An abortion is a morally neutral medical procedure.  It is neither good NOR evil.  The debate isn’t even ABOUT abortion – until someone starts defending or criticizing abortions as if they are some property of the universe.  Then you have such completely monstrous occurrences like the Virginia rape-wand law – because abortion is bad NO MATTER WHAT.  When you defend abortion as “a good in itself” you’re the caricature of a pro-choice, pro-actual-family advocate the anti-abortion, anti-actual-family nutjobs want to fight – because if abortion is desirable regardless of the context, then why NOT create some pregnancies for the sole purpose of terminating them?

    You are falling into the trap of making this a religious argument by mistaking “I wish that we didn’t need abortions” with a lack of desire to defend them.  I hate that because it masks commonality in favor of division.  I’m not talking about some reasonable middle ground here – the middle ground is the pro-choice position.  I’m saying that I hate it when people feel the need to be diametrically opposed to evil and stupid along the same axes.  IE, “if these horrible people hold something to be a profound moral evil, I must hold it to be a profound moral good, because I want to oppose those horrible people.”

    Anybody who can point to ancephalic child and say “he should suffer as much as possible so that we have fewer abortions” – well – I can’t think of a punishment severe enough for such a creature.  Fortunately, the pro-choice crowd has no actual analog to that (you could imagine one if you like.) There IS common ground – but when we start screaming at each other about whether abortion is good or bad in and of itself we’re basically in snot stew.

  • Aguilaoro88

    That was righteous, hoss.

  • Anonymous

     

    Pro-choicers refuse to see that there are situations where an abortion is a bad thing

    I’m as pro-choice as they come, and there is one situation where I consider abortion to be a bad thing: when the pregnant woman does not want an abortion.

    Pro-choicers are generally very much against abortion when it’s forced or coerced.  I suspect you’re being intentionally disingenuous and trying to tar all of us as holding down pregnant women and forcing them to have abortions, and that’s wrong.  Stop doing it.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know why anyone has ever assumed that anti-abortion is the default view of Christians.  Most U.S.-Americans are Christians, about 75%.  Far more than a quarter are pro-choice, so clearly there must be plenty of overlap.  When I was growing up Christian, most of the people in my church were pro-choice and not even that wishy-washy “I don’t like it but we should keep it legal” thing.  Most of the Christians I knew were fine with abortion.

    I don’t know how the assumption came about that Christians would most likely be anti-abortion.  Oh wait, I do knew.  It’s because a small subset of Christians have tried very hard (and reasonably successfully) to claim to the title as their own and exclude all the liberal or moderate Christians.

  • Anonymous

    I can think of two or three, but that was one of the classes I was thinking of, so I don’t think I’m being disingenuous, no.

  •  I think it might have a little to do with the fact that the majority of anti-abortion types in America are Christians. They’re the loudest voices on that side of the issue in America, so it’s natural for people to associate them with that. Is it fair? No. But, just as anti-abortion Christians are successful in selling the idea that they “own” Christianity, they’ve also succeeded in selling the idea that they “own” the anti-abortion movement. It would be very hard to break that association until you break the two underlying assumptions; by getting pro-choice Christians to speak out more and getting non-Christian anti-abortion people to speak out more.

  • Tricksterson

    If anything the flow seems to be the other way with Epicpalians, particularly clergy, disgusted by women clergy and tolerance of gays going over to Catholicism.  There was a former poster, forget her name, who went the other way though.

  • Anonymous

    Same with abortions: if you want one, what you *really* want is to not have gotten pregnant to begin with, and having an abortion is the closest thing you can manage.

    Actually, what I’d really want would be for people to stop telling me how I feel about having one.

  • Anonymous-Sam

    TheFaithfulStone: Out of curiosity, if you or anyone else can answer, what is the Episcopalian church’s stance on going to Hell?

  • Anonymous

    The Episcopalian Church doesn’t have much of a stand on those sorts of issues.

    The Book of Common Prayer (which is about as close as you can get to Episcopalian “doctrine” is that hell is eternal death and heaven is eternal life, so even the “official” outlook is pretty squishy.

    Personally, I have never met an Episcopalian of the main-stream variety that believes in eternal conscious torture, and I’ve met quite a few who don’t believe in a conscious afterlife at all.

    It’s in the “catechism” section.

  • Anonymous-Sam

     As much as I tried and tried to write a decent response to that, I was having too much difficulty to directly respond. I think you and I are somewhere on the same page. I can’t see abortion as a good or a bad thing. Circumstances matter too much. Callous disregard for the potential of life feels as evil to me as disregarding the life that already exists, and I’ve witnessed situations on both extremes.

    On the other hand, I can’t think of a situation where I would ever make the decision that having an abortion should not be allowed. The cruelty and stupidity of using motherhood as a life lesson to teach sexual responsibility, no matter how blithe the people involved, is abhorrent. The last thing the world needs is more unwanted children. On the other hand, when abortion turns into an enabler to continue reckless and self-destructive lifestyles, I can’t exactly celebrate it.

    It’s a bitter, unsatisfying outcome either way.

  • Anonymous-Sam

    I mean in regards to how one gets there, what circumstances consign one’s soul to which particular variant of an afterlife, etc. My biggest problem with religion is when it tries to justify the existence of an eternity of anguish and torture, so I always perk up when I hear of a different interpretation which eases some of those concerns.

    Mormonism, for example, from what I have heard, does it differently. If you die as a Mormon, you go on to a personalized paradise, basically getting real estate in Heaven. If you die otherwise, you go to a purgatory state where you have as long as you need to come to the realization of the divine truth and enter Heaven, which is still paradise, but you don’t own the real estate. Only the truly evil people actually wind up in Hell, while anyone with a shred of redeemability in their soul, at worst, eventually winds up in paradise anyway.

    It seems like a neat way of tying up the loose end of the lake of fire, although I’m not beholden to the rest of Mormon teachings. I’m just curious what the Episcopal church teaches about the last journey. I’m having trouble getting an answer from Google.

  • On the other hand, when abortion turns into an enabler to continue
    reckless and self-destructive lifestyles, I can’t exactly celebrate it.

    Good thing that happens pretty much never.

  • Anonymous

     

    On the other hand, when abortion turns into an enabler to continue
    reckless and self-destructive lifestyles, I can’t exactly celebrate it.

    This is a pretty good example of why the two side aren’t equal – and ALSO why I think turning the pro-choice side into a teleological defense of abortion is a bad thing.

    As  @Triplanetary:disqus points out – this basically never happens.  There aren’t people lining up in the streets to get abortions because they’re oh-so-much-fun.  You can’t defend abortions as an unequivocal good though without defending them in this totally made up scenario, which is EXACTLY what pro-death-and-suffering crowd would like to argue – that you’re enabling a bunch of “sluts” to “kill inconvenient babies”

    This is the same strategy that conservatives use to argue for tortue – they make up some totally outlandish case study and then use it to argue that saving a city full of fluffy kittens from the evil Dr. McNastypants justifies cutting off his toes until he gives up the launch codes.

  •  I believe they prefer not to.

  • Anonymous-Sam

    You’d like to think so, but every strawman has a kernel of truth. There might be only one woman in the entire United States who feels this way, but I’ve had the misfortune of meeting her through a friend. I have actually heard the following words spoken:

    “I was so pissed when I found out I was pregnant again. Like, ‘I’ve already had three abortions, I shouldn’t have to go in for another.’ ”

    She was serious. She didn’t like condoms, thought birth control was too big of a pain to remember every day, and for whatever reason didn’t want to get a tubal ligation. Her version of contraceptives was to get semi-regular pregnancy tests to check for bad news, all the while having unprotected sex with multiple partners.

    People that stupid, ignorant or just plain evil do exist. Rapists and serial killers who tie up and torture their victims come from somewhere. Why should it honestly surprise anyone that there would be someone out there who gets abortions as a matter of convenience? There are worse crimes against humanity being practiced on a disturbingly regular basis, so why not this?

    I’m not going to argue that they make up more than 0.00001% of the population or some other infinitesimally small number, nor do I think their existence means we should back down on being ardently pro-choice, but I’ve met one — I’m sure there are others — and how exactly does one deal with such people?