March 17, 2009

Natasha Richardson has suffered a serious head injury in a skiing accident.

The lovely actress is 45 years old, the wife of Liam Neeson, and the daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Richardson.

We saw her on Broadway in "Cabaret," back in 1998. She'd won a Tony for her portrayal of Sally Bowles, the role that had been identified with Liza Minelli. She played the part completely differently. It was quite cool.

I looked for a good video clip of her. A Google video search brings a scene from "Asylum" up first. Watch that — when you're not at work — and you'll see why that is popular on the internet. I've decided to embed the trailer from "A Handmaid's Tale" — that creepy feminist sci-fi atrocity — because I thought you might like to talk about it. It doesn't show off Richardson's acting. In fact, if I were judging her acting ability from this alone, I'd say she was quite bad. I'm not trying to trash her here though. I'm sad about the accident. But let's talk about something more than that it's sad she's had this accident.

UPDATE: Death.

78 comments:

traditionalguy said...

She is a beautiful woman. Skiing is a very dangerous activity for beginners. Hitting a tree is the worst thing for a skier to do, but sometimes beginners think it will stop them. Does Pres.Obama ski? IMO Snow boarding and Snowmobiles are safer.

commenter said...

the chinese used burdock root to cure infertility. the trouble with that is that there are impure sources of burdock root that make people sick. And the Chinese aren't so good at recognising hormonal complications.

they go to the source, others go to the thermostat to correct the controls.

See what happens when the humans and the planet are at odds and you dismiss the greens for crazies.

teufels kreis, ann.

MadisonMan said...

I hope she has a full recovery. Head injuries can creep up on you after they happen. I learned that from watching Grey's Anatomy.

former law student said...

This is the least informative news article I can remember reading. How did she hurt her head?

I fell numerous times when learning to ski, without banging my head on anything, so I can't picture head injury as a necessary consequence.

Ben (The Tiger) said...

On a beginner's trail, it says...

What could she have hit?

Paul Snively said...

"A Handmaid's Tale," the movie, was horrifyingly bad. But if you want a really fascinating back-to-back literary comparison of how a male author sees the prospect of a dramatic loss of female fertility (in the form of a dramatic loss of female life) and how a female author does, try reading Frank Herbert's (Dune) "The White Plague" and Margaret Atwood's much-better-than-the-movie "A Handmaid's Tale" in succession. Very illuminating.

Anyway, I will always appreciate Vanessa Richardson as Jean Tatlock to Dwight Schultz's J. Robert Oppenheimer in FatMan and Little Boy, IMHO the best Manhattan Project movie made to date. I hope that she enjoys a full recovery.

Joe said...

I agree that "A Handmaid's Tale" is an extremely horrible movie. Why not reference the 1998 version of "Parent Trap"?

AllenS said...

"On a beginner's trail, it says...
What could she have hit?"

Maybe another beginner.

Trooper York said...

She was warm and wonderful in the
"Parent Trap." Best wishes to her and her family.

Host with the Most said...

A Handmaids Tale: what a piece of feminist crap.

In a world where forced abortions come at the hand of Communist Governments like China, how do people get off playing that the real threat is Christianity?

Hoosier Daddy said...

I don't ski but one thing that I am always amazed at is that it seems like no one wears a helmet. As a cyclist, I never saddle up without one and I'm guessing that me tooling down the road at 20mph is a fraction of the speed of plummeting down a mountain side.

Hopefully she'll make a full recovery.

JAL said...

I am impressed that the ski resort had someone stay with her. It means she was able to get help quickly. Although, if it was so serious a fall that they had someone stay with her, I wonder why they just didn't send her over for a scan right away.

My guess? Her call, and she didn't feel bad and didn't want to make more of a deal out of it than it already was.

The problem with head injuries is that you can develop things like a subdural hematoma insidiously. A subdural hematoma is an internal brain bleed which doesn't have any immediate symptoms, and may be symptomatic only days later as the pressure builds slowly.

This injury, whatever it was, showed up fairly quickly.

If caught quickly they can release the pressure surgically and brain damage can be averted.

Hope this falls in that category and their intervention has been successful.

traditionalguy said...

The "news" release was written or edited by the resort's attorney.The only fact slipping out is that she hit her head on something hard enough for the Instructor to take her back to the Hotel and insist on medical treatment. She must have hit a tree or a rock ledge at the edge of the Beginner's course. Or she strayed off on her own and they dont want to admit she was skiing on her own. But she probably did so since she is used to taking on challenges.

Freeman Hunt said...

Skiing really is dangerous, isn't it? Seems like a lot of people have serious injuries on the slopes. Awfully fun though.

Bissage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Methadras said...

Sonny Bono all over again.

XWL said...

Via my twitter feed, Defamer pointed me to this Time Out New York post claiming she's brain dead, and not expected to survive.

Hopefully, it's an inaccurate report, if it's true, sad news.

Paul Snively said...

Host With the Most: In a world where forced abortions come at the hand of Communist Governments like China, how do people get off playing that the real threat is Christianity?

You seem to be forgetting that "A Handmaid's Tale" is dystopian fiction. To someone of Margaret Atwood's sociopolitical slant, you can see the loss of female fertility resulting in a moderate center-right society with a modest emphasis on the role of religion in public life becoming sharply authoritarian, all while feeling perfectly justified in doing so. Similarly, "The White Plague" posits exactly the same thing (a severe population threat), with eerily similar results (political and military enforcement of marriage and breeding programs)... but with a distinctly emasculating twist that gives the remaining women a form of absolute power and the men no choice in the matter whatsoever. This is why I recommend reading both in close succession, much as I recommend seeing "Jesus Christ, Superstar" and "Godspell" in close succession.

PatCA said...

I can't figure this out either. I'm a skier and have fallen but never hit my head. Maybe she just panicked and flipped forward so fast she landed on her head. I flipped forward once and broke my wrist, which is common since you tend to break your fall that way.

Best wishes to her and her family.

Anonymous Blogger said...

The Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent and The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper are better than Atwood's "speculative fiction".

John Stodder said...

Very sad.

I'm surprised that she was on a Beginner's Slope with an instructor and wasn't required to wear a helmet. I've never graduated beyond the beginner's slope -- I have poor balance -- but my recollection is a helmet was mandatory.

It's haunting that she was conscious and communicating initially such that she didn't think she needed to go to a hospital; meanwhile her brain had, unbeknown to her, suffered a grievous and perhaps fatal shock.

Her poor kids. Too young to lose a mother, if in fact that's what happened.

Christy said...

A Handmaid's Tale which took me 3 tries and the threat of imminent book group discussion to finally read, is a rewrite of Heinlein's 1940 novella If This Goes On... Theocracy - underground - Atwood even uses Heinlein's "Angels of the Lord" for the military.

Mont Tremblant is known as a good learning mountain. Just now it has a "hard pack base with a loose granular surface." This means it is probably close to a sheet of ice in the morning and heavy hard-to-maneuver slush by noon. Put lots of beginners on the typically narrow beginner trails and collisions are common, falls from fear of collision even more common. Then just when, as a beginner, you come to a wide part of the trail, you realize you are crossing a more advanced trail, covered in moguls which can be solid ice mounds.

Helmets are being seen on the slopes these days.

Bissage said...

I wrote my 1:02 comment thinking Ms. Richardson wasn’t seriously injured.

But now I think I was mistaken.

So . . . color it gone.

Beth said...

Sally Bowles is supposed to be slightly older than she presents herself, and a not-so-talented hack. In that, Richardson played it perfectly. I enjoy that soundtrack a lot, particularly her "Don't Tell Mama." We saw it at Studio 54 in 2002, but it was past Richardson's time, and one of my friends is forever scarred by the experience. "Fucking Molly Ringwald!" She can't let it go, but she's right; there's a fine line between playing Sally Bowles as a mediocre talent, and being a mediocre talent playing Sally Bowles.

Minelli couldn't play Sally Bowles as creeping on middle age and not quite able to hold key, and so that youthful, awesomely talented Bowles tends to be people's image of the character. All renditions share the general screwed-upness that defines her. I'm fine with that.

The movie is in my top ten list, and I have, I think, three of the soundtracks on heavy rotation on the iPod.

lacegrl130 said...

I saw her in a movie last year (DVD) The White Countess? The White Duchess? Well - something about an aristocrat who was really not an aristocrat anymore (if ever) - but maybe possibly a woman of fallen aristocratness who was using her feminine wiles to wile away the time. Something like that. Anyway - She is lovely and I have always felt her ability to get ahead was due to her being in the shadow of her mother. That's just me.

By the way: The White Aristocrat Duchess Countess movie is a tad bit boring...

This is Dody Jane by the way - I am trying out Wordpress for awhile...

pj said...

Another article with no more information than this one has a headline stating she is brain dead. I would think there would still be something that could be done to relieve pressure and damage from swelling?

John Lynch said...

Margaret Atwood didn't realize that she was writing about the Taliban and Al Qeada.

Methadras said...

I just read that she is considered to be brain dead at this point. This is terrible news. What a lovely woman and she seemed so gentle.

lacegrl130 said...

I meant her INABILITY to really get ahead. She seemed very Kate Winslet-ish to me in her youth...

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

Well this will make listening to Cabaret from now on extra eerie.

I guess she really is "going like Elsie."

I used to have a girlfriend
known as Elsie
With whom I shared
Four sordid rooms in Chelsea

She wasn't what you'd call
A blushing flower...
As a matter of fact
She rented by the hour.

The day she died the neighbors
came to snicker:
"Well, thats what comes
from to much pills and liquor."

But when I saw her laid out like a Queen
She was the happiest...corpse...
I'd ever seen.

I think of Elsie to this very day.
I'd remember how'd she turn to me and say:
"What good is sitting alone in your room?
Come hear the music play.
Life is a Cabaret, old chum,
Come to the Cabaret."

And as for me,
I made my mind up back in Chelsea,
When I go, I'm going like Elsie.

Start by admitting
From cradle to tomb
Isn't that long a stay.
Life is a Cabaret, old chum,
Only a Cabaret, old chum,
And I love a Cabaret!

Bruce Hayden said...

Skiing is a very dangerous activity for beginners. Hitting a tree is the worst thing for a skier to do, but sometimes beginners think it will stop them. Does Pres.Obama ski? IMO Snow boarding and Snowmobiles are safer.

And, no, snowboarding is not safer, and you can die easily on snowmobiles too. I recently spent 5 years working part time at a ski area with the ski patrol doing speeder control. And we had as many major accidents with snowboards as we did with skis. And probably more intermediate injuries, where there is a chance at permanent injury if not handled correctly. That later likely comes from snowboarders predominating in the terrain parks where they tend to try stupid stuff beyond their skill level.

I remember one Sunday two years ago, when I was still doing that, when we had three major accidents, etc. within a two hour period. Flight for Life was called in for a heart attack. The guy had seized on the lift and fell off. Luckily the guy behind him had just finished jump school (and was on his way to SE Asia) and jumped off, turned him over, and gave him CPR. A second chopper was called in for a snowboarder who came down inverted in the terrain park. But just as the first made it out to the waiting first chopper, another guy hit a tree on the front of the mountain. So, they hauled the heart attack victim out to the clinic by snowcat, and diverted that chopper to land on the slope about 100 yards below the guy who hit the tree. He was airlifted from their to the Level 1 trauma center in Denver, where he died a couple hours later. The guy in the park had neck injuries, but likely recovered.

While I didn't do first aid or medical treatment, I was involved in maybe two dozen head or neck injuries in the last year there, almost all not wearing helmets, and was first on the scene maybe a half dozen times. Some are obvious, but many are not. I have had more than one like Natasha, who appeared fine at first, but got worse over time. For me, as a non-medical person, that is scarier than if the head/neck injury is obvious. Not only is it scary watching someone lose it in front of you, but you also worry that you didn't call it in as life threatening quickly enough.

I started wearing a helmet maybe a decade ago, when two of the physicians on my annual male bonding ski group started doing so. One was a trauma surgeon who treated head injuries, the other sports pediatrician/ski-patroller. I have bounced my head on the hard ground enough times that I am now paranoid about skiing without one, despite nearing 50 years of skiing experience. (And, no, it wasn't because I fell, but when you make yourself a big target doing speeder control, you get taken out at least once a year, usually by novices).

Bruce Hayden said...

Mont Tremblant is known as a good learning mountain. Just now it has a "hard pack base with a loose granular surface." This means it is probably close to a sheet of ice in the morning and heavy hard-to-maneuver slush by noon. Put lots of beginners on the typically narrow beginner trails and collisions are common, falls from fear of collision even more common. Then just when, as a beginner, you come to a wide part of the trail, you realize you are crossing a more advanced trail, covered in moguls which can be solid ice mounds.

The solution to that is to come out west to ski. Wider trails. Better snow. And blue skies.

EDH said...

Thanks to those clips, Althouse just saved us all a trip to Mr. Skin.

Joe said...

From IMDB:

Actress Natasha Richardson, reportedly in serious condition with head trauma in a Montréal hospital after a ski accident Monday at Mont Tremblant, was walking around and feeling fine for an hour after her accident, a spokesperson from the ski resort says. "She was laughing and joking and she walked to her room on her own," Mont Tremblant spokesperson Catherine Lacasse says. The British-born Richardson, 45, was not wearing a ski helmet when she was taking a private ski lesson on the Nansen, a beginners' run at Mont Tremblant. When she was near the bottom of the run in a section know as the flats, she fell down. According to the spokeswoman, Richardson did not hit anyone or anything before coming to a stop.

"She was accompanied by an experienced ski instructor who immediately called the ski patrol," according to a statement from the resort. Lacasse tells People that there were no cuts, bleeding or other external signs of injury. Ski patrollers assisted Richardson and helped her to her room. She was not put on a stretcher.

About an hour after the fall, Richardson started complaining of headaches. She went to a nearby hospital and was later transferred to the Intensive Care Unit of Sacré Coeur Hospital.

Geoffrey Firmin said...

Sounds subdural hemotoma-ish to me.

Revenant said...

In a world where forced abortions come at the hand of Communist Governments like China, how do people get off playing that the real threat is Christianity?

Because we live in America, not in China. In this country, the real threat to women's reproductive freedom comes from Christians.

dick said...

Just read that she is being transferred to a NYC hospital by jet. Wonder which one? I used to work at Columbia Pres and they are truly outstanding there. Great hospital.

Emily Carson said...

Is she a commie like her mommy?

Maggie45 said...

Here's the NYPost article:

http://tinyurl.com/dcxzxv

This is awfully sad. I really feel for her family, especially for her two sons, one of whom was with her.

Dody Jane said...

I just heard she is brain dead and will be brought back to NY to be taken off og life support. Oh - this is really so grim. So sad.

Host with the Most said...

Anyone care to opine on Canadian Health Care?

Just askin'.

fcai said...

Look for it south of the border, starting soon.

former law student said...

Anyone care to opine on Canadian Health Care?

A great movie in which Canadian Health Care plays a supporting role. Hopefully people don't mind subtitles:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338135/

PatCA said...

Oh, terrible news!

(Bruce, you convinced me on the helmet issue.)

jayne_cobb said...

Wow, that's just sad and bizarre.



The best method I've found for falling while skiing is to lean back and try to sit down. Yes it can make sitting painful later on, but it's much more controlled.

Granted this only works if you're still standing when you lose control (e.g. you're going too fast). Those who get tripped up and start tumbling can really only try and lose their skis and poles.

PatCA said...

"Just now it has a "hard pack base with a loose granular surface."

That's really tricky to ski on, and the snow is much wetter there. I fell in spring snow and broke my wrist 2 years go. I'm thankful it wasn't worse.

So last week when I skied, I stayed on the greens. Exciting enough for me...

traditionalguy said...

Revenant... Did you mean "non-reproductive freedom" is threatened by Christians in the USA? In china the new life is threatened with death. In the US the new life is not yet protected, but christians do support that protection in most cases. Would you let it be voted upon by more than 5 Philosopher Kings??

Great White Father George said...

Intro credits from "The Parent Trap."

She's actually not in the credits until the very end, but it's a lovely romantic piece of filmmaking, to the sounds of Nat King Cole's "L O V E."

Synova said...

Q:In a world where forced abortions come at the hand of Communist Governments like China, how do people get off playing that the real threat is Christianity?

A:Because we live in America, not in China. In this country, the real threat to women's reproductive freedom comes from Christians.

*snort* or maybe *snicker*

And the truly funny thing is that the various feminist authors don't recognize the fantasy world they've created around themselves, or even recognize just how often it repeats itself when they think they are describing something vital and new.

A Handmaid's Tale which took me 3 tries and the threat of imminent book group discussion to finally read, is a rewrite of Heinlein's 1940 novella If This Goes On... Theocracy - underground - Atwood even uses Heinlein's "Angels of the Lord" for the military.

Heh. I want someone to tell her that. The woman suffers delusions of literature, last I ever heard, and would never deign to admit to the base sin of common science fiction.

Synova said...

The only threat to women's reproductive rights in the United States, from Christians or anyone else, is the strange notion that women might possibly be capable of adult responsibility.

One side says they can.

The other side says they can't, and must be allowed to dispose of their mistakes.

Christy said...

The solution to that is to come out west to ski. Wider trails. Better snow. And blue skies.

No argument from me, Bruce. The year after a particularly miserable learn-to-ski week in Killington, VT I thought I'd found heaven indeed on the Big Burn at Snowmass. (Mile wide slope for those who've never been there.) I never returned to skiing in the East except for weekends. Took me overlong probably to fall in love with the glade skiing at Alta.

I am so sorry for Ms. Richardson's kids, especially the one skiing with her at the time.

Maxine Weiss said...

Terry

Schiavo

Christy said...

Synova, I've heard that those writing science fiction who go after a wider literature audience are opting for smaller sales. Genre lit has a built in consumer base. Many science fiction readers buy all the new science fiction, but the general reader can, or does, not buy all the new novels published. Do you think this is so? Of course, by now Atwood has her own devoted buyers. I've enjoyed other of her novels, even if her politics distress.

Revenant said...

Did you mean "non-reproductive freedom" is threatened by Christians in the USA?

No, I meant "reproductive freedom": the freedom to decide how and when to reproduce. Obviously that includes the right not to reproduce, just as the right to free speech includes the right to not speak. You can't have freedom to do something without freedom to refrain from doing it. Otherwise it isn't freedom; it is compulsion.

I would also point out that Christians were or are active in opposing artificial insemination, test tube babies, cloning, and pretty much every other non-traditional means of reproducing. It isn't just "freedom of non-reproduction" that is opposed.

Would you let it be voted upon by more than 5 Philosopher Kings??

I think Roe was wrongly decided as a matter of Constitutional interpretation, if that's what you mean. It doesn't make much difference to me, since I live in California and abortion would be legal here regardless.

Revenant said...

The only threat to women's reproductive rights in the United States, from Christians or anyone else, is the strange notion that women might possibly be capable of adult responsibility. One side says they can. The other side says they can't, and must be allowed to dispose of their mistakes.

So if a person develops cancer as a result of smoking cigarettes, a person who believes in personal responsibility should insist that he be legally forbidden from having the tumors removed?

That sounds more like vindictiveness, to me. Personal responsibility means not blaming the results of your actions on others. It doesn't mean passively accepting those results.

traditionalguy said...

Revenant... Non-reproductive freedom you speak of is called birth control. The other freedom to kill off unwanted children is presently an unrestricted, profitable industy. The freedom to medical care that includes the right to chose, and a Doctor's duty, to kill children rather than give them life as adopted men and women deserves a vote somewhere. California has enough new immigrant children, so California may vote to keep up the killing. They probably have too much CO2 caused by breathing things anyway.

Revenant said...

traditionalguy,

I imagine there was a point buried in that incoherent rant of yours, but I haven't enough interest in you to dig for it.

Synova said...

Rev, I don't accept the analogy.

Firstly, even a non-smoker will get cancer. Certain behaviors increase the odds, but one can NOT no matter how scrupulous and responsible, choose not to get cancer. And again, very few people are at all interested in preventing a woman from choosing to abort a fetus that results from rape, even if they profess that it makes them sad.

Secondly, cancer kills you. Babies generally do not. (And in cases where a real risk of severe injury or death exists, almost no-one denies the right to abort.) So... remove life-threatening fetus or remove life-threatening cancer... where is the problem there?

Thirdly, cancer is not a separate living creature, no matter how small. You may disagree that the fetus in it's many stages has value, but it is alive and it is human and it is separate and not a growth or tumor. We don't "bud".

Expecting people to be in control of their reproduction, when to reproduce or when not to, is not vindictively asking them to die.

I would also point out that Christians were or are active in opposing artificial insemination, test tube babies, cloning, and pretty much every other non-traditional means of reproducing. It isn't just "freedom of non-reproduction" that is opposed.

I realize that you have rejected my argument that the moral questions of non-traditional reproduction are answered in a most elegant manner by ensuring that all human life is accorded normal protections and human status.

Why do you suppose Obama expressed such moral certainty about the horror of ever allowing human cloning? And isn't he supposed to be the one giving us a chance to free science from the benighted realm of religious interference?

Why did he think that it was so self-obviously horrible to make a clone and let it live, when he was announcing his new rule that it was quite all right to make a clone and kill it?

Revenant said...

Firstly, even a non-smoker will get cancer.

So consider the example of a man who becomes grossly fat as a result of years of overeating. People who believe in personal responsibility should want it to be illegal for him to lose weight, according to you. His condition isn't fatal and is something which pretty much only happens to people who eat too much. By losing weight he would be avoiding personal responsibility for all those years of overeating.

Secondly, cancer kills you.

That's irrelevant to the question of whether or not personal responsibility requires that you accept your fate. In any case, see the "fat guy" example above.

Thirdly, cancer is not a separate living creature, no matter how small.

A syphilis infection is. Are you avoiding personal responsibility if you take antibiotics for an infection you contracted during sex? Are you obligated to play host to a bacteria infestation just because your own actions caused it? That seems silly.

You may disagree that the fetus in it's many stages has value, but it is alive and it is human and it is separate and not a growth or tumor. We don't "bud".

It is alive, yes. It is "human" in the sense that the skin cells that flake off your body and get vacuumed up whenever you clean your house are "human" -- that is, they have human DNA but are non-sentient. Ditto for the fat guy's fat cells.

I realize that you have rejected my argument that the moral questions of non-traditional reproduction are answered in a most elegant manner by ensuring that all human life is accorded normal protections and human status.

I reject it because it is patently obvious that nobody follows it. If "human life" requires sentience then fetuses don't qualify. If it requires merely living cells with human DNA then skin cells qualify and the act of surgically removing a mole is the moral equivalent of mass murder. Then there's the little fact that you yourself, above, reject the idea of insisting that women be forced to bear children conceived in rape. So obviously you don't favor treating all human life equally; you wouldn't advocate allowing legal infanticide of the children of rape, would you?

Why do you suppose Obama expressed such moral certainty about the horror of ever allowing human cloning? And isn't he supposed to be the one giving us a chance to free science from the benighted realm of religious interference?

I think I've probably sneezed more brain cells than Barack Obama has ever used to think about the science of human biology and the moral issues surrounding it.

traditionalguy said...

Revenant... I apologise for ranting. You cannot understand the strong sentiment aroused in some persons who see a value to be protected in other persons so long as you see a foetus as non-sentient cells.You are entitled to your opinion. If you can try to see unborn children as living persons, than my reasoning will seem less like ranting to you.

Revenant said...

You cannot understand the strong sentiment aroused in some persons who see a value to be protected in other persons so long as you see a foetus as non-sentient cells.

I understand it, I just don't share it. Obviously if I thought a fetus had the same moral value as you or I do I'd be appalled by abortion. Similarly, if you shared my view that it isn't, you would (presumably) be appalled by government meddling in personal medical decisions.

Zeb Quinn said...

UPI is reporting that she has died.

JAL said...

Very sad.

Guess: Not a subdural hematoma, by virtue of the rapid progression.

Guess: Severe brain stem injury more likely.
http://www.injuryboard.com/topic/brain-stem-injury.aspx

Host with the Most said...

Rev,

I highly respect you, as you know well, and I respect your choice to not make the same moral value judgment regarding a fetus as I do.

But the skin cell analogy is just plain ridiculous.

The issue isn't just cells with DNA. It's about embryonic cells that are developing into a complete human body and a seperate human body from the mother at that from it's very conception - something your skin cells and mine are not doing.

Revenant said...

Host,

The issue isn't just cells with DNA. It's about embryonic cells that are developing into a complete human body and a seperate human body from the mother at that from it's very conception - something your skin cells and mine are not doing.

Synova said the fetus WAS human, not that it would eventually become a human being. The parallel to skin cells was to illustrate that fetuses weren't currently "human" in a generally-accepted sense. It is obviously true that they have the potential, if all goes right, to one day be sentient human beings.

But arguing that potential humanity deserves special treatment is a much tougher argument. A given fetus has an X% chance of becoming a human being, a sperm cell has a Y% chance (there may be a procreative sex act in its near future), a skin cell has a Z% chance (cloning). All of these chances are less than 100% and greater than 0%. What's the argument for drawing the line at any particular probability?

I think a lot of people have a feeling that pregnancy is "natural" and thus is presumptively a good thing, and that's why fetal potential counts and, say, cloning potential doesn't. Fuzzy thinking, in my opinion. Especially since if the mother lived a strictly "natural" lifestyle the baby will probably die in the first few years of life. Nature sucks.

Synova said...

Then there's the little fact that you yourself, above, reject the idea of insisting that women be forced to bear children conceived in rape. So obviously you don't favor treating all human life equally; you wouldn't advocate allowing legal infanticide of the children of rape, would you?

I think that there is a difference between normal or ordinary protections and the sort of extraordinary protections that people often put forward to show how unworkable it is to protect any human life that can not yet live independently. Natural early miscarriages are common... the opposite of killing an embryo or fetus is not going to extraordinary measures to make sure none ever miscarry. (No, you didn't make this argument.)

Nor ought we decide that in order to value that life as human the life of the mother, in cases where life is at risk, can not be favored and the fetus killed.

And while I would *wish* that a raped woman not abort the baby, should that rare event occur that she become pregnant, I'm willing to accept that the damage to her of carrying it to term might, indeed, be as severe as "life of the mother".

My views are consistent.

Synova said...

I think a lot of people have a feeling that pregnancy is "natural" and thus is presumptively a good thing, and that's why fetal potential counts and, say, cloning potential doesn't.

An embryo is a complete human - everything is there ready to go. A skin cell might be able to be used to make a clone (though I'm under the impression that other cells are much much better for it) but until it is in embryo form it is just a skin cell and no more another human being than any other bit of ourselves that we shed. Tissue cloning is a common enough thing and organ cloning is moving right along, at least with lab rats. None of that makes a person or can make a person until it is an embryo.

Fuzzy thinking, in my opinion. Especially since if the mother lived a strictly "natural" lifestyle the baby will probably die in the first few years of life. Nature sucks.

I'm not at all adverse to human intervention (and I quite agree that nature sucks - worse, she's out to kill us all).

Xmas said...

I'm guessing a burst AVM.

Jon said...

Very sad. I'd actually never heard of Richardson before this, but I just saw her husband, Liam Neeson, in "Taken".

Neeson also starred in one of my favorite movies, "Rob Roy", which features perhaps the greatest movie swordfight ever (the background is that the villain Roy challenges to a duel, has raped and possibly impregnated Roy's wife):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVaslN1NiT0

When Roy's wife tells him about the rape, she apologizes for her unwillingness to abort her subsequent pregnancy, even tho the child could be her rapist's. Roy responds: "It’s not the child that needs killing."

JAL said...

IIRC AVMs are not usually associated with a traumatic head injury. The brain stem, though well protected, can get yanked by a severe blow in the wrong place. A deep internal bleed would have shown up with a little time, unlike the slower SH. Must have smacked her head really hard.

(I'll check that with the family ER doc.)

A terrible tragedy.

Life is short, and no man knows his time.

Revenant said...

And while I would *wish* that a raped woman not abort the baby, should that rare event occur that she become pregnant, I'm willing to accept that the damage to her of carrying it to term might, indeed, be as severe as "life of the mother"

So you're honestly arguing that it can be acceptable to kill a human being because that human being's life causes emotional damage to somebody? And that's "consistent" with your earlier "all human life deserves normal protections" position, is it? I don't buy it. I can't kill somebody just to make myself feel better -- not even if that person's existence is driving me to suicide. So why would it magically be ok for me to do this to a "human" fetus?

An embryo is a complete human - everything is there ready to go.

If you mean that the initial parts that will eventually grow into a human body are mostly recognizable then, yes, that's certainly true. But calling something that can't think, move, eat, see, hear, or even survive without constant support from a host organism "a complete human" is pretty silly. A dog is more "human" than an embryo is.

traditionalguy said...

The first step in every mass murder/extermination activity is to de-humanize the targeted group.

Revenant said...

The first step in every mass murder/extermination activity is to de-humanize the targeted group.

Let me know when you have an intelligent argument to make.

dick said...

Sorry to report that Natasha Richardson has died. Here is the link from the Sacramento Bee:

http://www.sacbee.com/830/story/1711183.html

MadisonMan said...

Very sad to read that. God help her family.

BJM said...

MM, yes it is, she and Neeson seemed a contented couple, as much as celebrities may.

Perhaps we should take a lesson and be kinder to each other; one minute you're alive enjoying life, the next dead.

I don't think I'd like my last act to be typing hostile snark on a blog.

former law student said...

This sucks.

but you can't live your life to prevent six-sigma disasters. People who argue she should have worn a helmet are annoying; the kind of folks who install seatbelts on their swivel chairs.