July 15, 2008

Will pro-choice activists give any moral weight to the unborn?

They will when they have to.



SUBSTITUTE UPDATE: The video is working now.

ADDED: I have long supported abortion rights, but I cringe at the level of moral reasoning in this short clip. Rebecca Traister says that technological advancement is making it harder to support late-term abortion, and the technological advancement she refers to is not the way doctors can keep a very premature baby alive, but the clarity of the images we now have of the being in utero. As if not being able to see someone deprives him or her of moral significance!

We can't see the people in other countries or in prisons, but we still realize we have to take account of them. Could it possibly be that without advanced imaging technology, you just couldn't summon up the picture of what was inside a 7-months pregnant woman? Why should I listen to the moral reasoning of someone with such a dangerous lack of imagination? And I don't mean to let Michelle Goldberg off the hook. Her baby-or-blob quandary is worse.

IN THE COMMENTS: Paddy O. responds to my comment ("As if not being able to see someone deprives him or her of moral significance!"):
We would want this to be true more than it is a human reality. There's a reason why images have changed global politics over the years. Auschwitz is simply unimaginable. But there are pictures. Movies like Blood Diamond and Hotel Rwanda makes a difference. In exactly the same way that Uncle Tom's Cabin made an impact.

We honestly have a hard time really caring for those we don't know, and can't see. Most of us anyway. That's why brutality likes to stay hidden and de-humanize the brutalized.

If we don't see the victims our rationalizations work. So we commit to not seeing them. We avoid the images. We avoid the stories. Even if we are not proponents we are saved from the burden of becoming opponents by the victims just being blobs, or uncivilized, or 2/3 human.

They don't feel like we do. Don't have pain like we do. So they can work harder, become conveniences to cast off or prize upon our whim.

Images change that. Because we can't help but see ourselves when we see other humans, in native dress or inside the womb. Our rationalizations become strained, even if we are desperate to hold onto them.

Humans are visual creatures who need visual stimulus for our emotions and empathy. Out of sight, out of mind, out of concern.

Technology is changing that in global affairs and in personal choices that seem to actually not just be about our own private choices at all but involve others-- real, feeling humans--whether we like the idea or not.
This is an important point about the power of photography.

131 comments:

Steven said...

"Reproductive rights?" What a ridiculous misnomer. The people who use that euphemism are only concerned with their right not to reproduce.

Tari said...

I really like it that they don't want to "slip" and call "it" a "baby" or a "child" and have to keep reminding themselves, even when talking about a friend's (wanted) pregnancy, to use the word "fetus". That said more about their self-awareness of the moral instability of their position than anything they actually said on that subject.

john said...

Yes, ladies, we need to draw that moral line between what is just a blob at 5 weeks and what might be a baby at 8 months.

Unless we need to draw the line at 8 weeks.

Unless we need to draw the line at 12 weeks.

Unless we gag at the thought of actually having to call that blob a baby at any time during pregnancy.

But above all, don't let any RTL's claim we don't have morals because we refuse to stick to some arbitrary line!

Sad.

Pastor_Jeff said...

"You find yourself slipping into calling it a child or a baby even when you shouldn't be."

Why shouldn't you, I wonder? They can look a friend's 3-D ultrasound picture and obviously, reasonably, and naturally discern, "That's a baby." But the abortion-rights center of the brain kicks in and screams, "Don't say 'baby'!"

I'd like to know what's the "categorical difference" between a 5-week-old fetus and an 8-month-old fetus, since she simply assumes its existence. What is the fetus before it's a human being, and what determines when it's worthy of protection? Size? Level of development? Degree of dependency? Those reasons for denying the humanity of the unborn are bad news for my mom, whom we just moved to an assisted living facility.

And the claim that reasons for abortion at 8 months are different than at 8 weeks is simply untrue, and has been admitted to be so by abortion providers themselves. Fewer than 10% of abortions, even in the 3rd trimester, are performed out of medical necessity.

The mental gymnastics on display here must get tiring.

chuck b. said...

The whole diavlog (HATE that word) is interesting, isn't it?

I'm listening to the part about Obama's lurch right now. Traister says she only supported Clinton tepidly in the primary because she's suspicious of Clintonism. Then explaining her willingness to support Obama's "rightward lurch", she basically embraces Obama's clintonism.

Nonwithstanding their emphatic declarations of being liberal, these women are deeply ambivalent about liberalism.

If they are true to themselves, they will, like many of us, experience their own rightward lurch as they get older.

chuck b. said...

"Less secularly evolved". eww.

Baron Zemo said...

It is just good luck that neither of these women will ever have to worry about having a baby.

Mark Daniels said...

I'd like to read the reactions of more women to this video, because all but one of the commenters so far has been male.

My own reaction: Those who claim that life begins at conception are often accused of making unsupportable value judgments. But what science supports the notion that a fetus is a blob of cells and not a life? I tire of the disdain with which many in the RTL movement treat those who, after looking at the facts, not to mention the ultrasounds, have concluded that life begins at conception. (I'm also at a loss as to how one explains such ill-founded condescension.)

Mark Daniels

john said...

Mark said -
"I tire of the disdain with which many in the RTL movement treat those who, after looking at the facts, not to mention the ultrasounds, have concluded that life begins at conception."

You confuse me. If a 'pro-choicer" concluded that life began at conception, then a RTL would find some joy in that, right? Disdain is a verb I see most aimed at RTL's, not at the "pro-choicer". Same with condescension.

I too would like to read the reactions of others on this video.

The Deacon said...

There are extremists on both sides of the issue. At least the ones on the left aren't blowing up other people's children over it.

David said...

A blob?

I must really be out of touch. I hadn't heard that one before.

I turn 65 next month.

Sometime between then and death, there's a reasonable chance I'll become blobish--inarticulate, insensate, uncomprehending. Just a mass of cells.

I hope these young women are in no way responsible for my care at this stage.

Is this what feminism is causing young women to become? How many more are there like this, straining to deny their hearts?

Mark Daniels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lurker2209 said...

As a woman and a scientist, I've always found the 'clump of cells' terminology misleading. Most people imagine a clump of cells as something like a tumor--cells growing with little organization or structure, at best forming some blood vessels to supply the tumor.

A human blastocyst (at about 5 days post fertilization) is a highly organized group of about 100 cells which have already begun to differentiate into different tissue types. It's not a clump of cells the way the bacterial colony I just scraped off my petri dish is. At eight weeks, the pro-choice language is even more ridiculous. All the major organ systems have begun to form at that point.

And yet, despite what I know about the incredibly complex state of the zygote and blastocyst pre-implantation, I'd ask for the morning-after pill if I got raped. And I recognize that practically, safe abortion has to be available. Because sometimes we have to permit some things we find morally distasteful, to prevent even worse harms.

veni vidi vici said...

"Those who claim that life begins at conception are often accused of making unsupportable value judgments. But what science supports the notion that a fetus is a blob of cells and not a life? I tire of the disdain with which many in the RTL movement treat those who, after looking at the facts, not to mention the ultrasounds, have concluded that life begins at conception. (I'm also at a loss as to how one explains such ill-founded condescension.)"

Mark,
either you meant to say "pro-choice movement" rather than "RTL movement", or John is correct and the above statement is confusing and makes little sense. After all, isn't it the RTL movement that concludes that life begins at conception?

Paul Snively said...

The Deacon: There are extremists on both sides of the issue. At least the ones on the left aren't blowing up other people's children over it.

No, they're just scraping and/or vacuuming their own children out of their uteri at the rate of millions per annum in the United States alone. Yeah, that's a huge improvement.

Bissage said...

Long ago I learned to stop worrying and now I think of the legal right to abortion as a vast, informal, decentralized, quasi-religious system of human sacrifice intended to appease the gods.

That and the lobotomy . . . now I’m well again.

Trumpit said...

I believe that anyone who wants to make safe abortions performed by professional doctors or trained abortionists illegal anew should themselves have been aborted. It's not too late to rid the world of those fascist blobs of cells if assisted suicide is made legal. Those people should kill themselves now before they become a burden to the Social Security system. They'd be willing to bankrupt this country to save their hides. How selfish, disgusting and immoral of you! As far as I'm concerned, a pregnant woman has exactly NINE MONTHS to decide if she want to bring a new life into the world. Those of you who want to cut it short at the first trimester, should be taxed to DEATH, to made be to pay for all the kids that go to bed hungry in the world. You selfish moralists should also be sent to Iran where you can practice your rotten religious doctrines and shove them down the throats of the heathens before you burn them at the stake. You Right-to-Lifers are the worst assassins known to womankind and should be killed by hanging, lethal injection, the electric chair, firing squad, or by being Bushwhacked. The latter is my CHOICE for your demise because you Bushwhacked the U.S. economy by putting a fetus in office for 8 years to suck the life out of this country and its women, who want you out of their wombs and life. Please abort yourselves and die.

Paul Brinkley said...

This thread illustrates something I've said in other circles before: the abortion issue has become in many ways a matter of people's comfort levels. The attempt to objectively categorize actions here is but a veneer over what everyone's gut is telling them.

And everyone's gut is different. Some are saying, yeah, that's just a blob, it's not a sentient life, so it's okay. Others are saying, no, that looks like a baby there, so we can't kill it. And there's lots of situations where we look and our gut doesn't know what the hell to think, so we call on our faith (everyone has some, even an atheist) to fill in the answers, and we're still coming up with different answers, but now backed up by an appeal to our conscious beliefs in addition to our subconscious ones, so they're really entrenched.

But the reset switch keeps getting hit, and sending us back to our subconscious drives. We save our outrage for those.

Jeremy said...

Scientific or semantic hairsplitting can never address the reality that people will want to do what they want to do. It's impossible to believe that if pro-choice or RTL advocates had more facts or could even agree on the facts, that they'd change their minds (poor scared teenager may be different).

Paul Brinkley said...

@Trumpit: Wow. Was that parody?

Mark Daniels said...

Mark:
I did mean to say pro-choice rather than RTL. Sorry for the confusion.

Mark

john said...

Thanks Mark.

Trumpit, just in case, try breathing into a paper bag, petting your dog (if you have one alive), or just stepping away from the computer. If the chest pains start, try two aspirins then 911. We all pray for your recovery.

AlphaLiberal said...

In my experience, they always have. Pro-choice (freedom) activists want to reduce unwanted pregnancies with reproductive education.

The righties, OTOH, want to control our sex lives and stop us all from having sex unless we're procreating.

It's also a hypocrisy that (so many of) the same people claiming the "pro-life" moniker clamor for more executions by The Government they claim not to trust.

That, and they don't care about the 10s of thousands of people killed by the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Lesley said...

So, are you saying you're a proponent of the right to life movement or do you believe in a woman's right to choose. I'm thinking the former...

john said...

AL -

I really miss my youth. Life without nuance: so clear and simple back then.

m00se said...

My favorite turn of phrase is "emergency contraception" which, I assume, follows emergency sex.

*sheesh*

I liked the statistics showing that the rate of teenage pregnancies are rising, even in communities with mandatory, "progressive" sex ed programs.

Wonder why?

vbspurs said...

My dad is in hospital. I got lost last night when I went up to see him, and ended up in the maternity ward.

Since I was there, I took the time to inspect the usual floor show of babies behind the window. The ones that always get me are the preemies.

So tiny. So fragile. But so alive.

And you're going to tell me a few weeks determines whether they are human or what, a speck of nothingness?

Give me a break.

Cheers,
Victoria

MadisonMan said...

al -- you've almost put your finger on why I'm ambivalent about all of this. RTL'ers do include a large number of people whom I perceive are really ready to control the sex lives of everyone, from denying information to just being prudes. Very much anti-freedom. It's very hard to consider what they say when that anti-freedom is so, well, un-American.

OTOH, some pro-choicers are willfully blind about the cost of abortion. Willful blindness isn't necessarily un-American, however.

So I lean more against RTLers than against pro-choicers. It's like voting for the least unsavory politician.

Henry said...

Trumpit -- Why just nine months? What's the big deal about ten or eleven?

Alphaliberal -- you have heard of the Catholic church, perhaps?

Baron Zemo said...

"That, and they don't care about the 10s of thousands of people killed by the invasion and occupation of Iraq."

Now my dear fellow, just think of it as a really, really late term abortion and it will not trouble you so.

Trumpit said...

Amendment 14 - Citizenship Rights. Ratified 7/9/1868. Note History

1. All persons BORN or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Steven said...

AlphaLiberal says: "It's also a hypocrisy that (so many of) the same people claiming the "pro-life" moniker clamor for more executions by The Government they claim not to trust."

You're missing a key concept here -- innocence. There's no contradiction (or, as you put it, hypocrisy, than which there is apparently no worse sin) between favoring the death penalty for those who have been found guilty of certain crimes on the one hand, and being against what is perceived as the taking of innocent lives on the other hand.

It's no more hypocritical than favoring abortion but opposing the death penalty. Presumably, people in this position do not see abortion as the taking of life.

Jeremy said...

trumpit-
So then we need to get fetuses (feti?) to be held as suspected terrorists in Gitmo without charge!

Kevin Eubanks everybody!

veni vidi vici said...

"It's also a hypocrisy that (so many of) the same people claiming the "pro-life" moniker clamor for more executions by The Government they claim not to trust."

It's not hypocrisy just because you disagree with it. The elevation of hypocrisy to the first deadly sin where political issues (!) are concerned has always amused me because it's kind of ridiculous on its face, not least because the guys usually shouting "hypocrite!" the loudest are themselves hypocritical but they absolve themselves with the excuse that their opportunism warrants their lack of firm principle from which to deviate. Some excuse!

Anyway, though, the thing about AL's line quoted above is that it sums up a lot of contemporary left/right social policy so well: some are concerned with equalizing outcomes, others with opportunities.

The idea that "all people should have an opportunity to live rather than be hoovered from the womb" is not inconsistent with the idea that, "if someone who's been given the opportunity to live and make something of themselves instead commits grievous crimes and robs others of their lives, that someone should surrender their right to continue living."

Unless, of course, you believe that regardless of what people do with their lives, they should all arrive at the same place in the material world.

Pogo said...

Much as these two women try to resolve (or ignore) the inherent contradictions, they are still trying to do the impossible: answer moral questions by scientific means.

In her Nobel lecture of 1979, Mother Teresa answers this question.

Mother Teresa was speaking about the downstream effects of abortion, and makes explicit the discomforting reality these women have seen with their own eyes but attempt to deny by semantic posturing, that the face they see on ultrasound is indeed a human face, and that they are actually killing a baby:

"And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child - what is left for me to kill you and you kill me? - there is nothing between."

What if?
What if that were true, that a set of beliefs which permits and encourages the killing of one's own children might be the greatest destroyer of peace today?
That the maternal society which we are slowly becoming is as a result a destructive one?
What of feminism then?

RAH said...

The males really jumped on this video. As a woman and a mom, I will give you my take. Both of these women have not had an abortion or a child. That is evident by they way they talk. They approve mentally of the idea that a woman can legally terminate a pregnancy. It was easier to accept or fool yourself that this was not your baby or child if it is just a blob and you got an abortion. But when a woman friend is happily pregnant and proudly shows the photographs or video of their child as it is developing, it is obvious that it is a baby. No way to avoid that conclusion. That disturbs these women who feel that killing is wrong but ok to have an abortion.

The contraction is easy to resolve. Just admit you are killing a child but think that is better to do so for convenience sake. I came to that conclusion when SC made abortion legal as a teenager.

The ultrasound has really made a difference for the RTF activists. It is impossible to view those photos and think this is not a child. As long as women could delude themselves that is was just cells or a blob they could go without the guilt of advocating killing a baby. Now that is not possible.

The SC decision never said that abortion was allowed after 12 weeks. The issue of when a baby/fetus becomes viable is pushing back earlier and earlier. It is harder to claim it is moral to kill a fetus that is viable at 8 months. Stories of botched abortions of late term pregnancies and a live baby is born and the legal status of that baby have forced nurses and doctors to confront the moral dilemma. There have been stories of killing the live birth baby and some stories of saving the child. Illinois debated this and Obama declined to approve a law stating that if a child is born alive during an abortion then doctors are legally required to try an save it. The law went down.

When it looks like a baby, it is a baby to most people. Killing babies is considered wrong in our society. Allowing late term abortion for any but the most extreme cases is hard to justify.

There will be restrictions and the issue won’t go away when the ability to develop to term fetus outside the womb becomes available. The legal status of the fetus will have to be determined.

Fetal rights in many states are in the criminal law, when a mother and fetus is killed. It is recognized as double murder.

I wonder how females will feel once their necessity as baby factories is eliminated. Interesting question. But not for now.

Woman will have abortions for selfish reasons as they have throughout history. Just the moral stigma will come back on abortion. Perhaps that is better and will not relieve the fathers from their responsibility for life they created. Males often tell the female to get an abortion because they do not want the responsibility.
But is really funny to see these two women tie themselves into knots trying not to call the fetuses’ babies or children.

Baron Zemo said...

Perhaps if these young ladies will continue to parade their gruesome visages across the internet, we can safely conclude that all thoughts of sex are stricken from the minds of all that might encounter them. Male or female. Prophylactic indeed.

Josh Schroeder said...

Here's what jumped out at me like 20 seconds into the video: the woman on the left (heh) has a Che Guevara book visible on her shelf.

veni vidi vici said...

My personal view is that the question of abortion should remain a personal one in the moral sphere, rather than a legal one in the legislative sphere, if that makes any sense. It should be available to those who need or even just desire it (although to be honest I've never met anyone who's had one or not that had a flip attitude about contemplating one, regardless of their politics on the issue -- I tend to think the "serial recreational aborter" idea is a myth), and if people want to try and persuade others of the right or wrong of it, that's fine as long as it remains available as an option. Sort of like eating eggs or red meat, or even smoking tobacco, yet obviously on a different scale.

When we were expecting our daughter, we had the ordinary ultrasounds but later on we had the privilege of one of these newer ultrasonic imagers that presents the fetus in 3D onscreen. Unbelievable stuff. I'm glad we have the video tape of it, but wow; tough to deny what that is, regardless of what one calls it. (and for the record, I'm even more glad that we have the 2.5-year-old that the "clump of cells" in the ultrasounds of yore has become).

Salamandyr said...

VVV,

The thing is, abortion is either a monstrous crime, or something of no more consequence of than having an ingrown toenail removed. There really isn't any middle ground where we can reasonably carve out a space in the personal sphere.

vbspurs said...

Pastor Jeff wrote:

The mental gymnastics on display here must get tiring.

Doesn't this remind you of the mental gymnastics during the Democratic primaries?

CERTAIN people (not all, as we saw) had to go out of their way to attack one candidate, but not be seen as racist or sexist. There was a comical element to these exchanges, if it weren't so sad.

I think this is what makes unpoliticised Americans uncomfortable about many positions taken and rationalised by Democrats.

Namely, that there are so politically-correct issues which do not allow a scintilla of deviation from being "on message". Doing so invites self-censorship, or community outrage.

Ironically, this makes TALKING of topics (as they claim they want) almost impossible.

At the end, they simply flail, look weak, and moralise as narrowly as those they claim to oppose.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Josh wrote:

has a Che Guevara book visible on her shelf.

Good catch. This is what is meant by skeletonising cows on Althouse. ;)

veni vidi vici said...

yes, but at the risk of sounding overly simplified and perhaps insufficiently sophisticated for this room, isn't that the point?

the only reason it subsists as a top-billing federal political issue is that somewhere down the line too many people got the idea that everything one does should be sanctioned and/or legislated by the state.

considering that the federal government's power is supposedly a function of rights granted *to it* by the people, i find some people's notion that the gov't should be a club used against their fellow countrymen's freedoms to do or not do what their conscience permits to be rather un-American, if that term is to have any meaning whatsoever.

"There really isn't any middle ground where we can reasonably carve out a space in the personal sphere" is a strong argument to leave it in the individual's personal sphere, then. If there's no ground for consensus among the polity, it should not be allowed to inflame as a political issue.

but, then what would all the busybodies on both sides of the "debate" think of next... shudder to think!

Pastor_Jeff said...

I tend to think the "serial recreational aborter" idea is a myth

A 2006 Guttmacher Institute study (pdf) showed that roughly half of all women having abortions had had a previous abortion. About 20% had had three or more abortions; 7% had four or more. 7% of 1,000,000+ is not insignificant.

Paul Brinkley said...

Or, in other words: leaving this up to personal view may seem egalitarian at first, but it's pretty close to saying that I should be permitted to end the life of some adult on the street, and others can try to persuade me that it's right or wrong, but I should still have that option legally.

Saying there's no such thing as a "serial recreational aborter", likewise, is like saying there's no such thing as a "serial recreational murderer", in this sense: even if no such thing exists, even a one-time murderer is considered bad.

Some pro-choicers seem to have this stereotype that every pro-lifer wants to control everyone's sex lives, when in many cases, it's rather that they feel obligated to try to save lives. I understand that it's still under debate whether there is this Human Life involved, but for those for whom it isn't under debate, that's virtually all of where the pro-life drive is coming from.

MadisonMan said...

Paul, I live pretty close to the sun, for some definition of pretty close.

P. Rich said...

Few things are more entertaining than watching a couple of twits attempting to rationalize the irrational. "Serious" arguments independent of reality tend to leave me all giddy. Unfortunately, there is a legion of twits: and they can vote.

[gratuitous semicolon usage alert]

vbspurs said...

About 20% had had three or more abortions; 7% had four or more. 7% of 1,000,000+ is not insignificant.

Had they had stats in Communist countries, repeat abortion figures would've gone through the stratosphere.

In Cuba, which is far more pro-family as a culture than the USSR was, e.g., my ex-boyfriend's mother was forced to have two abortions, since the Communist Revolution couldn't sustain more than 2 kids per family.

Oh, and then they put an IUD in her, without her knowledge, to say nothing of her consent.

I wonder if that woman with her Che biography is aware that abortion is not about women's rights, per se, but State's rights to determine what a woman can do with her body. They just abrogated it to them.

Cheers,
Victoria

Baron Zemo said...

The faces have changed, but still no one protects the innocent.

Pastor_Jeff said...

the only reason it subsists as a top-billing federal political issue is that somewhere down the line too many people got the idea that everything one does should be sanctioned and/or legislated by the state.

I suppose that's a convenient box to put people in, but it's hardly fair to people on either side of the debate, is it?

I personally favor significantly less governmental intrusion into people's lives. Long before I became a Christian, however, I happen to have been convinced by science and reason that fetuses are human beings who have an inalienable right to life. It has nothing to do with wanting government to sanction or control people's lives -- unless you think that laws against murder are too intrusive.

Most people I know in the pro-life movement oppose oppose unrestricted abortion rights not because they're busybodies or prudes, but because we currently murder over 1,000,000 American infants every year.

I really don't care what you do in your private life or your spare time -- as long as it doesn't involve the painful dismembering and/or chemically-induced deaths of innocent children.

Dr Dre's Underpants said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vbspurs said...

What the heck happened to the videos?? Now it's Megan McCardle and Ta-Nehisi Coates talking about diabetes/obesity!

I want my rather nebbish Che Guevara-loving woman and her pinched faced co-commentator back.

P.S.: There are some books behind Coates, but I can't make them out.

Cheers,
Victoria

Eli Blake said...

Sure, no one is denying that a fetus is an unborn child.

The problem I have with the pro-life crowd is that so many of them oppose practical solutions that would stop abortions, including sex education, birth control and family planning. But the truth is that once we started pushing these kinds of things hard in the schools, the number of abortions which peaked about 1990 had fallen by about 25% per year during that decade even according to the national right to life committee. Of course since then we've been pushing 'abstinence only' and the rate has leveled off.

Here's another Guttmacher study, by the way: it looks at the socioeconomic characteristics of women obtaining abortions and finds that women who lack health insurance are far more likely to get abortions, and to a lesser degree women who earn less, up to 200% of the poverty level, are still more likely to get them even if they have health insurance. It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that if a woman is poor, the difference between $500 for an abortion vs. $2500 or more for a hospital delivery (assuming no complications-- if there are the sky's the limit) provides a significant economic incentive for abortion. In fact, these women don't have a choice in effect-- they are forced to choose abortion even if they don't want it due to economic reality.

So here is a proposal: How about free or very cheap hospital delivery, possibly financed by a tax on abortions (if it's legal then it can be taxed.) Is that something that pro-life and pro-choice advocates could agree on? It would at the same time prevent a lot of abortions, and simultaneously extend the benefit of choice to women now forced to have an abortion.

But of course no one will agree on it. Because when it comes to abortion, both sides (including some on my own) take an 'all or nothing' approach that eschews even a reasonable compromise like that one.

1970_baby said...

Abortion is murder. And the young girls who do it, and then develop a conscience later in life, are destroyed.

Feminists love bringing up the whole stem-cell debate, as a left-handed way to justify the sick practice of abortion- it makes their side seem so caring and moral. They just want to help sick people!

What I see as the next level, is the stem-cell research crowd saying "if you just let them grow to 4 weeks, we can get actual organs from them" (for saving lives of older fetuses i.e. people in their 20's)...
and then it will degenerate further, into "if we let them grow to 6 months, we can cure wrinkles and crows feet by using their skin, pureed, and applied to middle-aged cougars"...


As a former feminist, raised by a feminist, I must say, I hate'em. And I am a woman.

dr kill said...

Damn, this is a great conversation. I thank all involved for being so civilized in their comments. Allow me to reduce the discussion to the lowest common denominator, as only a 53yr old WASP, VMD, atheist, Scranton Republican proud father of four can.

Forget about these two women. No one here thinks they make any sense. They are dreaming. They are fucking deluded. Drawing a moral line indeed.

Science is way in front of them. We all know life begins at conception; indeed the haploid germ cells involved in sexual reproduction are themselves just as alive as the life they create at the time they meet.

The contortions of the Repro Rights front line make me ill.

Just admit abortion ends life. It does.

I personally am a Right To Choose-er, and have no problem with abortion, even if you call it murder. But it is (as many here have pointed out) true that captial punishment ends life, too. I like the idea of killing criminals more than children, but at least I have a consistent, individually responsible, anti-government position on life.

PS. I have never understood the thought processes involved with determining the legal age at which abortion is or is not permitted. It smacks slightly of wildlife management hunting regulations. And for Christ's sake,don't use that viable fetus shit. By logical extension of that arguement most eight year olds aren't viable, either.

Alan said...

Am I missing something? What does the video clip have to do with the moral weight of the unborn?

Baron Zemo said...

Its quite clear my good man. The unborn have diabetes so they are morally overweight and must be aborted.

Alan said...

Thanks for that. Now I understand why the BMI of the unborn matters....or is that doesn't matte?

Pastor_Jeff said...

the number of abortions which peaked about 1990 had fallen by about 25% per year during that decade

Coincidence /= causality. The other thing happening in the 1990s was an almost decade-long economic expansion under Clinton (or so I'm told by the media). Might people's financial status have something to do with abortion decisions? That seems to be the crux of your later argument, after all. And the Guttmacher study on repeat abortions showed that 50% of women seeking abortion were using contraceptives.

they are forced to choose abortion even if they don't want it due to economic reality

I'm not sure that the cost of hospital delivery is the deciding factor in abortion -- I think other studies have shown that pressure by boyfriend/family and simply not wanting a child are much more significant.

Economics and education are ultimately red herrings. A condom costs a lot less than a baby, they're widely available, and somehow people managed to figure out where babies come from long before school-based sex ed. Poor planning, poverty, and lack of sexual education are not generally accepted justifications for killing a baby.

But here's a counter proposal for you, Eli. I say that children aren't really humans deserving of protection until they reach majority. Until then, parents can decide to get rid of them for any or no reason. Raising kids is, admittedly, expensive. So if not killing children is something we value as a society, I think the government ought to pay the full cost of raising my kids. The costs can be funded by a hefty tax on killing them before they reach 18. I suppose it will never work, though, because too many people will demand an "all or nothing" approach to killing children.

garage mahal said...

Science is way in front of them. We all know life begins at conception; indeed the haploid germ cells involved in sexual reproduction are themselves just as alive as the life they create at the time they meet.

So if given a choice between saving a petri dish with 5 blastulas on a counter inside a burning house, and one 2 yr old baby, and you can only save one, it's a tossup what you would decide to save? They're both the same?

TMink said...

I found 19 confirmed cases of people being injured by RTL terrorists.

19.

The source was some pro-choice website.

19.

All horrid, senseless death.

Last year there were over 160,000 abortions in Tennessee.

It was a slow year.

There is no equivalency between abortion and the few twisted terrorists who kill people who perform abortions. The math just will not hold it.

Trey

Pogo said...

Do lefties have baby showers or clump-of-cells showers?


"if given a choice between saving a petri dish with 5 blastulas"
Lefties are fond of asking useless questions whenever the real-life question right in front of them is too painful to face.

Baron Zemo said...

Those on the left are not fond of any sort of shower.

chuck b. said...

"And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child - what is left for me to kill you and you kill me? - there is nothing between."

What if?
What if that were true, that a set of beliefs which permits and encourages the killing of one's own children might be the greatest destroyer of peace today?

***

If it were true, then things would be different. But it is certainly not true.

Did abortion come along and end "peace"?

Has there not always been killing?

Pogo said...

Suggested questions for your next clump-of-cells shower:

Do you have a name for the fetus?

Do you hope the clump is a boy or a girl?

If there is more than one fetus, will you use suction, or D&C to eliminate the unwanted tissue?

Does the clump have a mother or a steward?

Pastor_Jeff said...

So if given a choice between saving a petri dish with 5 blastulas on a counter inside a burning house, and one 2 yr old baby, and you can only save one, it's a tossup what you would decide to save? They're both the same?

If given the choice of saving only one among your newborn grandchild, your wife, and your elderly mother, which one do you save? Does that mean the others are worth less than the one? If you have two children, would you save your healthy son before your Downs-syndrome daughter? Would you pull the wings off a butterfly for $10,000?

I remember The Book of Questions, too!

Pogo said...

chuck b.

Reread it:
"...the greatest destroyer of peace today"

dr kill said...

Hahahaha, that's easy to answer. It depends on whether the 2 minute old or two year old clump of cells is related to me. I'm selfish.

Salamandyr said...

"There really isn't any middle ground where we can reasonably carve out a space in the personal sphere" is a strong argument to leave it in the individual's personal sphere, then. If there's no ground for consensus among the polity, it should not be allowed to inflame as a political issue.

My point was that, if abortion is wrong, it's a wrong of such importance that, like murder, or theft, the state has an obligation to ban it, and if it is not wrong, then there is absolutely no reason for a woman to be emotionally disturbed by it. For instance, a Christian might be profoundly disturbed by participation in a seance, but that doesn't make seances wrong. Discomfort or lack of it is irrelevant.

Logically, abortion is a fit subject for the legislature, as the most democratic of institutions, to rule the most fit decision for their communities. Unfortunately, our Living Oligarchy has made that path uncrossable.

chuck b. said...

Pogo, I don't follow where you're going.

There was not peace before abortion, and then there was abortion, and then at some point, abortion becomes the primary reason why we don't have peace.

If we outlaw abortion, we will have more peace?

Paddy O. said...

"I want my rather nebbish Che Guevara-loving woman..."

I love the word 'nebbish' and celebrate every time it is used.

I think the videos have changed because the Althouse commentariat quickly skeletonized the first one and they had to throw another one in the river to keep everyone satisfied.

Ron said...

hmmm...the video has switched such that I wonder if Megan wants to supersize the unborn...

Jeremy said...

Eli said,
"...and simultaneously extend the benefit of choice to women now forced to have an abortion."

Question: Do you really believe that woman are "forced" to have an abortion or is this just hyperbole? In what way are they "forced" to do anything? There seems to be a thread through this arguement that RTLers want to "control" others and that women are "forced" into doing X. That seems really unfair.

vbspurs said...

If we outlaw abortion, we will have more peace?

I may be misinterpreting what Mother Teresa said, but I took from her words this:

How can we justify respecting each other, from which stems protection and love of our fellow man, if a mother can kill her own child?

That is the first selfless act we humans are capable of, which men contribute to by the care he gives expectant wife and unborn child.

Take that away, and what message does this send about humanity's respect of life?

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

if a mother can kill her own child?

More:

Abortion is not a peaceful act, in and of itself. It's a violent act of hoovering matter from the womb of a woman, and that's actually if you're being "humane".

Other methods used in countries would make the strongest feminist here blanch in horror.

So, how can supporters which tolerate this primordial violence, then pontificate about world peace?

The world will have war with or without abortion. But the killing of unborn children should make those who wish for world peace run to the hills in shame.

The least vocal and most peaceful amongst us, because they literally cannot speak, are silenced forever.

Cheers,
Victoria

AlphaLiberal said...

The funny thing a lot of abortion opponents don't seem to understand is that the last thing the Republican Party wants is for this issue to be resolved, in their favor or not.

If the Republicans lose the abortion issues, they lose a red meat issue to pump up their base and the single issue voters. They'd be lost without it.

chuck b. said...

Victoria, I think that certainly makes sense--and it's a strong, compelling argument--if one makes no distinction between the moral value of a fetus and a born child.

(And if you make no distinction, it quickly follows that no abortion increases peace, by definition. I get that.)

Acceptance, or tolerance, of abortion requires making that distinction. Does it not also require believing that life only has the value that we give to it. Whether to commit to that system, and all it might entail is the uncomfortable, unavoidable quandry for the pro-choice side.

ricpic said...

Thou Shalt Not Kill.

Any questions?

chuck b. said...

(And if you make no distinction, it quickly follows that no abortion increases peace, by definition. I get that.)

rephrased for clarity(?):
It quickly follows that there being no more abortion increases peace...


Lots of coffee today. Very jangly.

vbspurs said...

If the Republicans lose the abortion issues, they lose a red meat issue to pump up their base and the single issue voters. They'd be lost without it.

That makes about as much sense as black people hoping Obama is not elected President, because it takes away their right to whine about how racist America is.

Steven said...

"...the last thing the Republican Party wants is for this issue to be resolved, in their favor or not. If the Republicans lose the abortion issues, they lose a red meat issue to pump up their base...

I'm sorry, but that's just nonsense. Am I to suppose that the last thing that the Democratic Party wants is for socialized medicine to become reality, because then they would lose a red meat issue to pump up their base?

You know, conservatives really were glad to see the end of the Soviet Union. It wasn't just a campaign issue.

rhhardin said...

Nobody has mentioned cuteness.

It used to be that you could only be cute once you were born.

Now you can be cute in utero.

This calls for moving the traditional line.

Anyone who is cute in the United States should be a natural citizen, for instance.

The actual answer is : If you want to ask is a fetus has a soul, don't look at the fetus. Look at the parents. Their hopes are what you are really talking about. Their hopes, if any.

At birth is the first time that cuteness acts on society as a whole, and its protection is offered as a legal matter.

vbspurs said...

Does it not also require believing that life only has the value that we give to it. Whether to commit to that system, and all it might entail is the uncomfortable, unavoidable quandry for the pro-choice side.

Life has meant many things, throughout history. Indeed, there are some today who place so little value in it, that they are willing to blow themselves up for ephemeral causes.

I think in practical terms your conclusion is correct -- life is worth whatever a society says it is worth. But human beings can and do buck systems all the time.

It's just that in post-modern times, peace trumps almost all other human values.

I think the quandry you refer to comes in how to justify one violent act by claiming it's not done to humans, but merely to formless 'blobs'.

Frankly, it's this double-think that strikes me as the most chilling calculation of human value I've ever seen. Peace activism and being pro-abortion is one of the most unreconcilable concepts today.

Cheers,
Victoria

rhhardin said...

I think the quandry you refer to comes in how to justify one violent act by claiming it's not done to humans, but merely to formless 'blobs'.

Formless blobs are not cute. Coincidence?

A fetus is human, in the sense it's not, for example, wolf.

A fetus being a human goes against ordinary langauge. You can say future human, if you want, without getting into a tangle.

Parents who have plans for the baby will say baby at every stage. They won't get tangled up either.

The woman who accidentally gets pregnant will say fetus and won't get tangled up in language; she may change her mind and say baby, or have an abortion and not.

Listen to the langauge. Don't try to make it a theoretical issue and decide what ordinary langauge must say.

rhhardin said...

I wonder why I type ``langauge.'' Fingers know their own order, I guess.

Bender said...

I am surprised at you all.

Don't you know what you say here is irrelevant? Don't you know that it does not matter what you say or think about this?

Such moral and legal GIANTS like Harry Blackmun and Anthony Kennedy have pronounced from on high that it is whatever the hell the pregnant woman says it is!! What you think is irrelevant! You do not get a say in the matter -- ever.

It is her totally arbitrary choice. Yesterday it was life, today it is an insignificant nothing, tomorrow it is a human person, and the next day it is back to being nothing, and on and on. She has the POWER to choose her own scientific reality, her own TRUTH. Only she decides!

If SHE declares it to be a baby from the moment of conception, only to declare on a whim during labor nine months later that it is a moral nothing, then it is a nothing -- and some "doctor" who is willing to take her money will have the joy of jamming a pair of scissors into its "skull" and suck out its "brains" (although it does not really have a skull or brains if she says it does not).

This whole issue does not involve you, so sayeth the Lord Blackmun and the Lord Kennedy.

rhhardin said...

but I cringe at the level of moral reasoning in this short clip.

It sounds normal for lefties.

What would good moral reasoning look like, though?

Mostly it has to account for how the issue seems to you.

Which is why I'd go through ordinary language as a guide.

That keeps touch with the reality on the ground.

Paddy O. said...

As if not being able to see someone deprives him or her of moral significance!

We can't see the people in other countries or in prisons, but we still realize we have to take account of them.


We would want this to be true more than it is a human reality. There's a reason why images have changed global politics over the years. Auschwitz is simply unimaginable. But there are pictures. Movies like Blood Diamond and Hotel Rwanda makes a difference. In exactly the same way that Uncle Tom's Cabin made an impact.

We honestly have a hard time really caring for those we don't know, and can't see. Most of us anyway. That's why brutality likes to stay hidden and de-humanize the brutalized.

If we don't see the victims our rationalizations work. So we commit to not seeing them. We avoid the images. We avoid the stories. Even if we are not proponents we are saved from the burden of becoming opponents by the victims just being blobs, or uncivilized, or 2/3 human.

They don't feel like we do. Don't have pain like we do. So they can work harder, become conveniences to cast off or prize upon our whim.

Images change that. Because we can't help but see ourselves when we see other humans, in native dress or inside the womb. Our rationalizations become strained, even if we are desperate to hold onto them.

Humans are visual creatures who need visual stimulus for our emotions and empathy. Out of sight, out of mind, out of concern.

Technology is changing that in global affairs and in personal choices that seem to actually not just be about our own private choices at all but involve others-- real, feeling humans--whether we like the idea or not.

garage mahal said...

Such moral and legal GIANTS like Harry Blackmun and Anthony Kennedy have pronounced from on high that it is whatever the hell the pregnant woman says it is!! What you think is irrelevant! You do not get a say in the matter -- ever.

Because stupid wimmin can't be trusted when their own pregnancy starts, or be trusted to make a sound decision. Best left with George Bush and the HHS. Right?

If they have their way a hospital pharmacist who refuses to fill prescriptions for birth control? They can't be fired or disciplined.

But it's those snotty lefty activists that are fowling the discourse for reasonable people like Ann Althouse who are smart pro-choicers.

chuck b. said...

"I think in practical terms your conclusion is correct -- life is worth whatever a society says it is worth. But human beings can and do buck systems all the time."

I think that's the strongest point to rally around. For all kinds of things.

veni vidi vici said...

"I understand that it's still under debate whether there is this Human Life involved, but for those for whom it isn't under debate, that's virtually all of where the pro-life drive is coming from."

This confirms my position: "it's still under debate whether there is this Human Life involved". If as you admit this is the case, how is your trying to impose your way as the only acceptable way not meddlesome?

This: "for those for whom it isn't under debate" is somewhat myopic. Those "for whom it isn't under debate" exist on both sides of the debate. One may believe the other side is incorrect or misguided, but there are very serious and well-thought-out arguments on both sides (not necessarily well-represented by the women in the video, which I haven't yet had time to watch).


"I suppose that's a convenient box to put people in, but it's hardly fair to people on either side of the debate, is it?"

I think it's both a convenient and fair characterization of people that wish the government to interfere in every personal decision they or their neighbors may be faced with, even those most deeply personal. Whatever happened to the idea of walking a mile in another's shoes before passing judgment?

Before this all gets carried away on a wave of craziness, though, I'm one of those arbitrary folks who would say if it's going to be legal at all then past the first trimester restrictions/proscriptions are ok. I think the pro-abortion "clump of cells"-type arguments become rapidly more incredible as gestation progresses, and I've always thought that, however arbitrary, it seems a decent compromise.

But then, few in the political arena care much for compromise anymore.

blake said...

Guys, AL is just floating clay pigeons. He sends them up then runs back to his left wing sites to get more.

There are extremists on both sides of the issue. At least the ones on the left aren't blowing up other people's children over it.

You don't hear about the crimes of the extreme "choicers" much, but they do exist, and in far greater numbers than the more spectacular bombings of the extreme "lifers".

As we acknowledge that some on the pro-life side are not pro-life so much as anti-sex or anti-choice, let's acknowledge that some on the pro-choice side are not pro-choice so much as pro-aboriton. These are, e.g., the people who sterilize quietly while performing abortions.

Abortion is a popular tool of eugenicists, including the still honored Margaret Sanger. Sanger, founder of the euphemistically named "Planned Parenthood" was a fan of Ernst Rudin, the philosophical architect of the Holocaust.

Abortions are predominantly done for non-white women, in what may be a coincidence, but not one without demographic implications.

I mention all this as someone who's pro-choice (even though I agree with almost all of the pro-lifer's positions).

I've put the rest of this exceedingly long rant on my blog rather than clutter up the space here.

veni vidi vici said...

"I mention all this as someone who's pro-choice (even though I agree with almost all of the pro-lifer's positions)."

that makes two of us.


Personally, I'm rather surprised no one has brought up the Terry Schiavo matter into this discussion yet. Was it really just an election year all-smoke/no-fire thing, or did anyone actually give a damn? (I didn't follow closely; just enough to wish both sides would fuck off already).

blake said...

VVV,

I'm actually fine with this being a hotly debated topic. I don't think we should be comfortable about abortion.

Yes, the sensible compromise to do is pick some arbitrary date (4 months, say) and stick to it.

But what I find fascinating that no one has mentioned is that these two women are both in the "oh, no, abortion isn't a casual choice" camp.

There's not an insignificant group who want people to be proud of their abortions. There are t-shirts, magazine articles, etc., all trying to not just de-stigmatize abortion but make it a badge of honor.

That's harder to do when the target is so clearly human.

Technology's a bitch, ain't it?

blake said...

Yeah, the Schiavo case is interesting.

"South Park" had the best take, tho'.

Padre Steve said...

This is scary to listen to... Are we really this devoid of morals?

Pogo said...

Pro-choice activists give such little moral weight to the unborn that it is difficult to discern whether the two speakers here are any more affected by the subject matter than if they were two guys debating the true versus practiced strike zone in baseball.

As a result, the human is reduced in value to you are whatever we say you are. If I call you a baby, or a mass of accidental meat matters not, or at least it matters only to the pregnant woman and no one else.

We do legislate morality all the time. And by legislating a certain class of humans unpersons, we are calm when deleting them. We can do the same, however, with anyone at all with similar ease.

It is by the mere donning of the feminist or socialist hat that one inheres the ability to decide to do away with whole classes of human and not lose any sleep at all.

It's why I never found a reason to believe that women in politics would introduce any more or less peace into the political system. They are just as ready as I am to kill someone.

They just prefer killing you softly.

blake said...

As a result, the human is reduced in value to you are whatever we say you are. If I call you a baby, or a mass of accidental meat matters not, or at least it matters only to the pregnant woman and no one else.

Well, yeah. That's the way of the left. When Jeff G. writes over at "Protein Wisdom" about semantics and semiotics and signifiers and all that, he points this out. (His explanation for why the left can't laugh at the NYer cover.)

It doesn't stop with historical revisionism or political activism, it's based on reality being what we say it is.

Tari said...

Trumpit: if you meant this when you wrote it:

"I believe that anyone who wants to make safe abortions performed by professional doctors or trained abortionists illegal anew should themselves have been aborted."

I just wanted to say "thanks". See, I am pro-life and I've dodged abortion once already - my mom gave me up for adoption (she was a 21 year old unmarried college student). Really not up to the idea a second time around, but thanks for the thought.

walter neff said...

Where's Cederford when you need him to clean up this mess.

vbspurs said...

Blake just a heads up that I H/Ted you for the Protein Wisdom link, about why we can't laugh about the Obama cover.

I'll post it over in the relevant thread. :)

Cheers,
Victoria

nansealinks said...

what happens when you say, no abortions for womene who already have children and know they cannot handle anymore. Oh, and they are married and so "cross you legs, slut" doesn't jive.

Hey and when every few years Andrea Yates situations appear, don't cry that five children were killed.

And when mommy gets pregnant and has to give little baby sister away for adoption what will the older teenage sister think about pregnancy?

There's not enough help in this world for every child to be born. It is sad. It is ugly. It is the truth.

If it makes you that angry, dance. It relieves pain. Just don't show your midriff. You may turn a man on and for a very small minority of them it's like giving a mouse a cookie.

PatCA said...

"As a result, the human is reduced in value to you are whatever we say you are."

Exactly, which is why these so-called humanistic movements always end up killing so many people. They're enemies of the revolution!

I don't want to government to outlaw abortion, mainly because I don't think it will stop abortion, but it always amazes me when abortion folks refuse to call a baby a baby. What else would a fetus develop into, a chair? A melon?

dick said...

You really need to get your talking points straight. Compare the number of times a republican brings up abortion and then the number of times a democrat brings up abortion. The democrats bring it up as a scare tactic that if you vote for the republicans you won't be able to abort that inconvenience you got in you so vote for us. The republicans just respond to it if they even mention it at all. It is not a big deal on the republican platform. It is for the democrats because they think they need to keep all those old line feminists voting the right way.

vbspurs said...

I've actually tried to give a mouse a cookie. It didn't work.

nansealinks said...

was there a tiger or a leopard behind the mouse? If so, ann will get rid of it like my question just disappeared about her photos.

Kathryn said...

It is so clear to me that preciously few people on this blog has ever had an honest or open conversation with a woman thinking about abortion. My very conservative, very religious grandmother is adamantly pro-choice. She (like so many of you) agrees that abortion is morally wrong and would never have had one herself, but as a nurse in the years before Roe, she saw first hand the consequences of illegal and botched abortions. What she saw has stuck with her decades later. It *is* a moral issue for her, but one of valuing the health and right to bodily integrity of women over that of the fetus.

It's insulting and simplistic to think that all opinions on abortion that are different from your own are unconsidered or without a moral basis.

Jon Carolina said...

I don't want to see a couple of femnaizes talking about abortion.

Neither of these liberal whores are ever going to be in this position because no man will fuck them.

In other words, ignore these bitches who will never have sex in their lives.

Could they be any uglier? Liberals are disgusting.

Flexo said...

It's insulting and simplistic to think that all opinions on abortion that are different from your own are unconsidered or without a moral basis.

You're right. As a pro-lifer who has known many women who have had an abortion (and many of those are now pro-life), I agree that it is insulting and simplistic for all you "pro-choicers" to think that pro-life opinion is unconsidered or without a moral basis.

Because stupid wimmin can't be trusted when their own pregnancy starts, or be trusted to make a sound decision. Best left with George Bush and the HHS.

No, I would not rather leave the decision to George Bush or HHS or what YOU call "stupid wimmin." I would leave the issue of human life to the truth. Scientific truth. Biological truth. Genetic truth. Physiological truth.

I would not leave it up to subjective opinion; I would not leave it up to arbitrary "choice"; I would not leave it up to intellectual denial and deceit. I would leave it up to objective truth.

Either the entity in the womb is alive or not. Either the entity in the womb is human or not. Either the entity in the womb is separate and distinct from the pregnant woman or not. These are not some eternally incomprehensible and unknowable mysteries. They are knowable scientific facts. They are known now in each and every area of medical science (other than those infected with politics and quasi-religious "pro-choice" belief). The issue of human life is "unknowable" and "unanswerable" only because some do not want to know the answer -- they do not want to see the answer and they do not ever bother to look for the answer.

The answer -- the truth -- is irrelevant. This has nothing to do with truth, and you and I have no say in the matter. It is entirely a matter of POWER imposed by fiat. First "raw judicial power" and secondly a matter of arbitrary individual POWER. Morality has nothing to do with it. Rights have nothing to do with it. Truth has nothing to do with it. It is entirely a matter of one having the power of life and death over another. More than that, it is a matter of one having the power to even decide the humanity of the other.

As a matter of "law," the unborn are nothing. They are less than human, they are untermenschen, nothing but disposible refuse.

Tari said...

Kathryn,

I can see your point, but have you ever had an open conversation on the issue with someone who HAS had an abortion? Of the women I've spoken to, "crushed and broken in two" doesn't quite describe it. And it doesn't go away, either. Even when a woman goes on to have a full term, wanted pregnancy, the abortion is still with her emotionally. It's not the answer to an unplanned pregnancy that so many women think it is.

Mark Daniels said...

Kathryn:
Back in my college days, I paid for two abortions, one for a woman who became a friend during our freshman year and one for a woman with whom I worked and once attended a concert.

The first young woman became pregnant by a young man for whom she'd harbored a huge crush for some months. He was the first person with whom she'd had sex.

The second young woman had already been pregnant several times and had aborted those previous pregnancies. She'd had an on-again, off-again relationship with a man over a period of several years. He was the father in all three of her aborted pregnancies.

This all happened in the pre-Roe v. Wade days.

Both women asked me to loan the money for their "back alley" procedures. I insisted on giving them the funds. While concerned for their health under those cicumstances, I had no moral qualms about their abortions.

The experiences of the two women appeared to be dissimilar. My close friend agonized in the days and months after the procedure. Although she felt she'd had no choice, she also told me, "I felt like life was being sucked out of me, Mark."

The other woman seemed to have no real feelings about the whole thing, as though she'd had a tooth extracted.

Nine years later, my wife was pregnant. (My wife, to whom I've been married for nearly thirty-four years now, was not one of the two women mentioned above, by the way.) Three-and-a-half months into her pregnancy, she suffered an appendicitis. This was in 1981. We were told that five years earlier, our son--the fetus--would have been lost to us and that ten years before, both he and my wife would have died.

In the wee hours before my wife underwent emergency surgery, we saw something rarely seen in those days, only ordered in extraordinary circumstances such as my wife's appendicitis attack: an ultrasound. As we watched that three-and-a-half month old fetus, there was little doubt that, though we couldn't see his face or know his gender, we were looking at a baby, a child.

I don't believe that whenever I consider abortion, I do so without remembering the friends' abortions for which I paid.

Nor do I forget the ultrasound images of our son glimpsed in the wee hours of a Palm Sunday morning in 1981.

It would be cruel and wrong, I think, to deny women access to abortions who have been victimized by incest or rape or when their lives are clearly threatened. We live in a world in which we face moral ambiguities, to be sure. Just as we wouldn't hesitate to defend a loved one from assault, we shouldn't hesitate to defend women who have been subjected to varied forms of sexual violence.

But after seeing my son in my wife's womb, I couldn't help thinking that my decision to give money to two friends in need, a decision I made with no reference to moral considerations--I remember even telling a friend. "Abortion isn't a moral issue"--was wrong.

You may not agree with the conclusions I have reached on this subject. But I must tell you that I am among the "preciously few" to whom you refer here: "It is so clear to me that preciously few people on this blog has ever had an honest or open conversation with a woman thinking about abortion."

I've had those conversations. I only wish I'd had more courage and something like a moral vision when I did.

Abstinence and birth control should be encouraged. But I am haunted by too many conversations and too many memories to think of abortion as anything other than a tragic option to be exercised only in extremis.

Mark Daniels

MadisonMan said...

Mark, my opinion is that those two women were looking for understanding, not judgement, when they talked to you. I suspect if you'd had moral vision they would have sensed it and looked elsewhere. Two people needed help and asked, and you gave it. That's what good friends do.

I know of one woman who has had an abortion just out of college, before meeting her present husband. She has 3 kids and as far as I can tell is very happy. But who really knows.

Ann Althouse said...

Of course, Jon Carolina's profile goes nowhere. He's a phony nobody spouting pure bullshit. Everyone knows you're fake.

XWL said...

Speaking only for myself, and in response to Jon Carolina's nonsense, on a purely physical level, not taking into account the women in question's personalities, sense of humor, sexual orientation, availability, political views, and or personal hygiene, I could readily see myself enjoying their company in a carnal way.

(preferably at the same time)

As far as the abortion debate, I understand both sides, though the pro-abortion side do seem to go to greater lengths to pretend that medical technology, choices for women, and the understanding of how early a fetus is viable outside the womb, have remained unchanged since before Roe v Wade.

That's disingenuous, at best. The issue is a hot enough issue as it is with the facts as they are, but when many on one side insist on ignoring the changes that have happened in over 30 years, it lessens the impact of their argument.

Plus, the people arguing the loudest live in states least likely to ban the procedure, and all overturning Roe v Wade would do is make it a decision at the state level, rather than the federal level, regardless of whether or not abortion should be illegal or not, seems like it's not unreasonable to leave it up for individual states to decide given that's pretty much how the Constitution is written.

PatCA said...

Kathryn,
I would guess that most people here have had conversations with women considering abortion. It's just your view that anyone who does not self-identify as pro-choice is ignorant.

You'll note the 2 women on the video were not arguing whether or not a baby is baby; they mostly concede it is, but they are mainly worried about how to change the language of the discussion so that late term abortions don't threaten all abortions. Pretty cold chicks.

blake said...

Oh, I don't know about cold, patca, but perhaps just exposed to one view of the world, with no up-close experience. (And maybe not; I find the confidence that neither of them has had an abortion as weirdly certain as those predicting the next President.)

Although my experience with women suggest that few are really happy about this particular choice when they make it, and for some the experience flips them to the other side of the debate, some really don't, or pretend not to very well.

Similar to what Mark Daniels relates. Some of us who don't remember a time before Roe v Wade were also fed a steady diet of abortion as a fundamental moral right, and a caricaturization of opponents as backwards, angry bomb-happy fundamentalists.

A crude quote:

"Isn't it strange how all the anti-abortion women are broads you'd never wanna fuck in the first place?"--George Carlin

Interesting to me is that the
"argument" is reversed in this thread.

amba said...

You know there are pro-life people who would make it mandatory that a woman be shown an ultrasound of her fetus before she can have an abortion.

I was once at the hospital with a woman who was beginning to miscarry, and I watched the live ultrasound. She was, I forget, maybe 8 or 10 weeks pregnant. The embryo/fetus didn't look like a baby yet, but you could see its heart beating.

I wonder if I would have been able to go through with an abortion if I'd seen that.

Patm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patm said...

"There are extremists on both sides of the issue. At least the ones on the left aren't blowing up other people's children over it."

Whaaaa?

Whose children are being blown up over abortion? Did I miss that?

The left, on the other hand, take care of them in the womb.

This debate is wearying. I always think of the line in "knocked up" when the mother is telling the daughter to have an abortion. "Your cousin had this problem and she took care of it, and now she has a REAL baby!"

The AMA has admitted there is no reason for a woman to ever need a partial birth abortion - c-sections are available and safe, this is not 1820.

Mark Daniels said...

MM:
Moral vision and understanding are not mutually exclusive. Nor does having moral vision mean one is judgmental. In my role of the past twenty-four years, that of a pastor, people come to me all the time because of the moral vision I'm apt to cast on the situations in their lives; if I didn't afford them understanding in that process, they would stop coming to me. They haven't stopped.

Mark

Mark Daniels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Daniels said...

By the way, MM, I only mentioned that my first friend was bothered by her decision for weeks and months after it. What began to change my rather cavalier, indifferent notions on abortion was seeing the ultrasound of my son three-and-a-half months into my wife's pregnancy.

Mark

amba said...

The nonreligious conclusion I came to as the result of lasting (lifelong) regret of an abortion is that if an embryo or fetus is regarded as disposable, then you are, too. I guess it's a version of what Mother Theresa was saying. An individual either is unique and uniquely valuable or isn't. All are or none are. If your existence had happened at the wrong time (I won't use the demeaning word "inconvenient" because sometimes it's little more than that, but sometimes it's a lot worse), you could have been disposed of. Your existence is accidental and contingent.

(Of course if you believe human beings are nothing special, even a plague on the planet, then by all means let's declare open season on 'em and hasten their extinction. Oh, uh, "us" is "them.")

To consider abortion acceptable is to make a philosophical decision about the world without even knowing it.

It's a tricky thing to write into law. Nearly all traditions have recognized the primacy of the mother's life and circumstances (including economic) in the early stages of pregnancy. The irony is that they knew a lot less than we do about what's involved. They really did believe it was a "blob." We know better.

But they also believed pregnancy was something like an act of God. That's why sex was so severely policed. I can understand why Catholics believe that there's a connection between the casual attitude made possible by birth control and a casual attitude toward life itself.

But is that inevitable? If people choose, for a time or for all time, to use sex to "make self" -- to make their own lives and relationships richer, which I do believe is one of its lifegiving uses -- then they should use birth control religiously. One of the big pro-choice arguments is that "birth control fails." Certainly some percentage of that failure rate is due to wrong or careless use of it. The rest -- the true failures -- might be seen as successes of someone who is just hellbent on being here. And the unwitting invitation of such a person should be viewed at all times as one of the ineradicable risks of sex.

paul a'barge said...

You know what's really horrifying?

That either of these two might actually have to be concerned about getting pregnant.

paul a'barge said...

We can't see the people in other countries or in prisons

Right.

Because we've never watched Lockup on MSNBC or any farkin' news show that can't help themselves showing foreign footage from the AP.

nansealinks said...

here are some different statistics of abortion around the world:

http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/index.html

In one of those lists per country you can see that Netherlands is below the United States, Germany and France (countries who years ago had people go to the Netherlands because of their very wide ranging, dare i say liberal policy.)

You can go to wikipedia and read netherlands policy or the various surrounding countries.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_the_Netherlands

paul a'barge said...

So one of your great concerns is that you might slip and call it a baby.

Stay classy out there, feminists.

Every member of the Reptile family has a greater sense of morality.

amba said...

Males often tell the female to get an abortion because they do not want the responsibility.

Pregnancy is also the time of highest risk of murder by one's significant other, perhaps because one refused to get an abortion and was perceived as foisting this unwanted responsibility on the man.

I'm like, what are these guys thinking?? They are acting on behalf of what they think of as their "freedom," and the end result is they get caught and go to jail for life. Some freedom!

Henry said...

vbspurs wrote: I've actually tried to give a mouse a cookie. It didn't work

I was skimming the comments and thought I was following the major threads, but I missed that one. LOL.

blake said...

amba,

Yeah, the wanting-to-withhold-information aspect of the current pro-choicers kind of tips their hand.

They're not really pro-choice (well, I have to hedge this because I'm pro-choice), they're pro-abortion. Which actually fits in with the whole Sanger thing.

Kergay said...

I always wonder why pro-choice arguments skip over the science and start with philosophic or pragmatic points.

Scientific questions:

Is he/she/it homo sapiens? Does he/she/it have a unique, individual genetic identity? (Except multiples, who as parents of multiples know, are still unique).

Questions of philosophy, law and/or religion:

Is it a person? Is it sentient? Does it have any rights? Does it have a soul? Is it imageo dei?

That's a rough dichotomy, but starts at a point more objective than language, perception, whether a fetus is wanted (child) or unwanted (not-child), philosophy or politics.

On the political/religious side, Flexo's interesting comment on power was also made by a pope (can't recall which) who compared abortion to tyranny -- the absolute power of an individual to arbitrarily (meaning for any reason or no reason) take the life of one or more other individuals. His point was that moral relativism makes it impossible for society to decide right or wrong, good or bad, so all becomes a power struggle. Those in whom society vests power win, and the powerless lose. In societies which sanction abortion, women have "won" while fetuses and fathers have lost.

The pope expressed it better than this, more gently, I think. But the point -- out of context of gut-wrenching, scared, emotional decision-making -- has a ruthless logic.

I personally like the cuteness argument.