February 1, 2016

"The diagnosis [of microcephaly] usually comes halfway through pregnancy, if at all...."

"Families have very little time to have the necessary studies, get the results, process their thoughts and make a decision before they reach the legal limits of termination...."
Melissa and Peter Therrien, of Brewster, Mass., faced that choice when they learned that their daughter had a very small skull, after an ultrasound during Mrs. Therrien’s 24th week of pregnancy.

“I felt heartbroken,” Mrs. Therrien, 21, said. “The doctor gave me the option to terminate the pregnancy.” But, she said, “I couldn’t do that.”

Their daughter, Alainah, is now 15 months old, but her development is uncertain. She can walk, although doctors said she might not, and she is given to peals of laughter, Mrs. Therrien said. Yet Alainah speaks just three words: Mama, Papa and “aba,” which she uses to describe various objects. ... Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital will not know the extent of damage to her brain for nine months or so. She may still have seizures and profound disability.

“It’s just tough,” said Peter Therrien, 26. “There’s nothing we can do to fix it. We’ll pretty much be walking on eggshells for the rest of our lives.”
Here is a diagnosis that comes right around the point of "viability," the point where the constitutional right to have an abortion changes from free choice to an option available only where there is danger to the woman's own life or health. If the statutory law is as restrictive of abortion as the constitution permits, the parents are given virtually no time to absorb the terrible news before they must decide whether to reject a child they had wanted. I would think some parents would rush to have an abortion before the time window closes and then, perhaps, suffer horrible guilt for what they did so rashly. Other parents will feel called to step up to the moral challenge of continuing to love the child despite its imperfection and then, perhaps, later, too late, wish they had ended this ordeal and begun again, and in a life of what Peter Therrien called "walking on eggshells," they may long for that other child that never came into being. 

124 comments:

tim maguire said...

"the point where the constitutional right to have an abortion changes..."

FIFY

Michael K said...

Bring back DDT and kill mosquitoes.

CStanley said...

Very difficult situation, and yet there are many diagnoses that come later in childhood which also carry that uncertainty and difficulty. We don't consider euthanasia for those children (at least the vast majority of people don't) so why should this be different?

Ann Althouse said...

My focus is on why the decision belongs in the realm of the individual and not the collective.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

My focus is on why the decision belongs in the realm of the individual and not the collective.

If you have the time this morning, can you explain this a bit more? I'm interested, but I don't see what you're trying to get us to think about.

CStanley said...

My focus is on why the decision belongs in the realm of the individual and not the collective.

2/1/16, 7:15 AM


Why do you think that it does? When you commit to parenting, you commit to accepting these kinds of risks. Why should you be able to ask for a do over if you find out something before birth?

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

"I want" is not the basis for a constitutional right. Liberals think like two year olds. Exercise your political power and get legislation to allow an exception for this condition


The US should be more like Europe and let abortion limits be hammered out in politics.

Laura said...

Stephen Hawking exists in the individual realm, and arguably benefits the collective.

Individuals are more vulnerable to peer pressure, notably powerful in the female collective.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The murder of innocents does raise such difficult moral dilemmas.

TreeJoe said...

My brilliant 15 month old has a similar vocabulary. Proof of something sinister and infanticide worthy?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Ann Althouse said...

My focus is on why the decision belongs in the realm of the individual and not the collective.

Why is the decision to prohibit any murder in the realm of the collective rather than the individual?

Ann Althouse said...

"If you have the time this morning, can you explain this a bit more? I'm interested, but I don't see what you're trying to get us to think about."

A difficult decision needs to be made. It can either be made by the individual, the woman (in the best conditions, with support and help from the father of the unborn child), or it can be made through statutes, which are the work of society acting collectively, through the democratic process. I think the nature of the decision, for many reasons, shows the decision belongs with the individual and not the collective.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I can see how it can be a tough decision if you are looking at a baby who will be born with a condition that involves a life of constant pain for the child's short life.

But for a condition that results in a child given to peals of laughter? Just to save yourself from having to walk on eggshells over what might happen in the future? Or because you might regret the not having another child instead? Seriously?

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

But it is a collective decision whether to have the decision made by the collective or individual.

jr565 said...

Babies who might have some horrible disease does give one pause when it comes to being always pro life. But it seems like pro choicers always bring up the encephalitis and babies born from rape examples. Never the "I just want a career right now" style decisions. If this were not about microcephalic, but just about a woman who doesn't want a perfectly healthy fetus, althouse would still have the exact same position.

Ann Althouse said...

"Why do you think that it does? When you commit to parenting, you commit to accepting these kinds of risks. Why should you be able to ask for a do over if you find out something before birth?"

The individual, making the decision, should think about all of that.

If you start to do something and you realize it's going terribly wrong, can you stop or does starting mean that only going forward is acceptable?

Should divorce be permitted? You commit to a marriage, for better or worse...

Laslo Spatula said...

The inevitable question this Post leads to:

Are we having fun yet?

I am Laslo.

jr565 said...

defend abortion when it's a mother making a selfish decision, and her life is not in danger, the child is not sick and she wasn't raped.
Since you have to defend that position anyway, being pro choice.

samanthasmom said...

Left to individual choice, would there be any limits on what children are not perfect enough to be born? We already know kids with Down Syndrome are being slowly aborted out of existence. As we get better and better at reading the human genome, what other conditions will we try to eliminate through abortion? Will being "genetically predisposed" to something qualify as something left to personal choice? Is a 50/50 chance high enough?

Lyssa said...

I think the nature of the decision, for many reasons, shows the decision belongs with the individual and not the collective.

The relevant question here is when does that change, and why? I imagine that we could all agree that the collective decision, rather than the individual, is appropriate if a child is born with a devastating disorder (but not so devastating that the child could only survive on life support) that was not diagnosed during pregnancy. Most decent people would not even acknowledge that this is a decision to make. But if the diagnosis is made at month 9? At month 8? I can't come up with any reason why inside of the womb verses outside is a relevant difference.

But it is a very sad scenario.

jr565 said...

Samanthasmom, you don't need to have downs syndrome to be aborted. You could be aborted because the mom doesn't want a girl. The decision to abort could be completely selfish and/or bigoted. Yes, people might choose to abort more for more and more conditions that might not be thet bad (like suppose we can determine your child will have a harelip), but it's not as I if, not having those conditions, many women aren't aborting anyway.

TerriW said...

Should divorce be permitted? You commit to a marriage, for better or worse...

Matthew 19:8

Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning."

Our hearts are still hard.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Why not compromise? Conservatives hate abortion and liberals love bug government.

Why not make women get an abortion permit? They can go to a bureaucrat and give their reasons and the givernment employee can decide whether to grant permission or not.

We can even give them so due process rights. If the permit is denied they can appeal to some board. At that hearing a woman can be represented by a lawyer and present evidence. The baby can be represented by a lawyer too. The mother would have more rights that a male college student accused of sexual misconduct.

What?!? You think that is too much government in your life? If you don't like government go live in Somalia!

iowan2 said...

Abortion was legal before roe. Roe did not legalize abortion. Roe effectively granted immunity. Before Roe mother Dr decisions could always be made. Reasons for cause would be ignored by the community. Unless the community objected through their elected prosecutors judges and juries. Roe banned the people from setting there own governence.

Roger Sweeny said...

When you commit to parenting, you commit to accepting these kinds of risks. Why should you be able to ask for a do over if you find out something before birth?

You have assumed what you are trying to prove. Many people DO NOT commit to parenting anything (anybody? any body?) that results from an impregnation they are involved in.

Should they feel bad if they "terminate with extreme prejudice"? What if the resulting child would be in constant pain? What if the child would receive hundreds of thousands of care every year, paid for by people who had nothing to do with creating it or bringing it into the world?

I assume that unborn souls, being sinless, would immediately go to heaven. Is that such a bad thing?

CStanley said...

I do personally subscribe to the idea that marriage is for life but that really is a moral decision that can be left to individuals because no one has to die to grant a divorce.

Clearly the issue of abortion does hinge on the question of when human life begins, because if it is sometime before 40 weeks gestation then society has an obligation to protect that life.

dreams said...

"Bring back DDT and kill mosquitoes."

Yes. The ban was based on politics not the science.

Anonymous said...

I thought your comment about the "other child" that "might have been" puzzling. What other child? The hypothetical child they might have had if they terminated the zika baby and then got pregnant again a few months after that termination? Mourning for that hypothetical child seems strange, since to my knowledge zika does not prevent future healthy pregnancies. Would you mourn a child who could have been conceived after a terminated zika pregnancy more than you would enjoy a healthy baby that was born after a full-term zika pregnancy? It seems like you're not saying what you really mean -- that you would mourn the non-termination of your baby. I realize this is all a bit clumsily put. Sorry.

CStanley said...

@Roger Sweeney:
It's true that people don't take responsibility to parenting in many instances but the law requires that responsibility for many of them. My argument is that this situation should not be exempt from that legal responsibility.

As for the disposition of souls, that should have nothing to do with the legal protection of life. When righteous people are murdered I believe they also go to heaven but that doesn't make their killing acceptable.

Freder Frederson said...

But for a condition that results in a child given to peals of laughter?

What condition is that? Severe microcephaly is characterized by frequent seizures, severe retardation, and a shortened lifespan.

Saint Croix said...

Here is a diagnosis that comes right around the point of "viability," the point where the constitutional right to have an abortion changes from free choice to an option available only where there is danger to the woman's own life or health.

Over 600,000 viable babies have been aborted since Roe v. Wade. The Roe Court intended the word "health" to be as broad as possible. For instance, in the companion case, Doe v. Bolton, Justice Blackmun wrote this:

the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors --physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age -- relevant to the wellbeing of the patient. All these factors may relate to health. This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment. And it is room that operates for the benefit, not the disadvantage, of the pregnant woman.

In Roe itself, Blackmun wrote this...

Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it. In other cases, as in this one, the additional difficulties and continuing stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved. All these factors the woman and her responsible physician necessarily will consider in consultation.

Pennsylvania has an abortion statute that makes it a crime to perform abortions after 24 weeks. The abortion industry views this statute as unconstitutional. Planned Parenthood, for instance, claimed their doctors had the right to perform any abortions for "health" purposes, and it was up to the doctor and their patients. They decided not to litigate this in the Casey litigation, fearing that the more conservative Court would uphold the criminal statute.

Dr. Gosnell and the non-doctors in his Philadelphia clinic were convicted under the murder statutes (for killing newborns) and also under the abortion statute (for performing abortions after 24 weeks). It was widely known in the industry that Gosnell was doing late-term abortions in violation of the law. But since the industry views the law as unconstitutional, the doctors felt it was okay to refer patients to Gosnell anyway.

Saint Croix said...

Some late-term abortionists limit themselves to killing babies with handicaps. This is not the legal standard, however. The baby whose killing is described in Carhart II had Down's syndrome. Justice Kennedy does not mention this, since it's irrelevant to the law. Justice Ginsburg brings it up in her dissent (footnote 3).

A baby's handicap only rarely affects the pregnant mother's physical health. This falls under the "mental health" justification. And that justification, of course, allows for healthy babies to be killed as well.

For instance, the infamous Catholic League litigation was in regard to whether people could hold a funeral service for the 16,431 aborted infants found in a shipping container. Many of these babies were tiny embryos. 193 of them were estimated to be over 20 weeks gestation. Autopsies were performed on 43 of the babies. At least 31 of the babies weighed four pounds or more. One baby was in the 30th week when she was killed. These were healthy babies. (Of course, this happened in California, where it's not a crime to kill a baby in the third trimester).

tim maguire said...

Ann Althouse said...My focus is on why the decision belongs in the realm of the individual and not the collective.

Certainly true if you take the position that abortion is a personal decision of the mother. Which is why I changed your emphasis from "right" to "constitutional." It is only because of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade that there is a right that sits with the individual and not the collective.

I know you're not a typical liberal, but you're engaging in typical liberal thinking here--you are insisting that everyone accept your fundamental assumptions and then arguing with them from there, instead of recognizing that others may have different fundamental assumptions and, if you are interested in engaging with them, you must take a step back an address those assumptions.

In this case, the commenters arguing with you feel that abortion is murder and therefore obviously not an individual decision.

CJinPA said...

I can't look at this through the political lens. I consider the reality facing these parents and have no answer.

Rocketeer said...

Should divorce be permitted? You commit to a marriage, for better or worse...

If divorce ended in the death of one of the parties, this might not be an utterly stupid analogy.

Smilin' Jack said...

My focus is on why the decision belongs in the realm of the individual and not the collective.

The decision belongs to the collective because they have more guns, and it will be made by politicians because of their well-known wisdom and integrity.

sezneg said...

The problem with Ann's analysis:

1. While Microcephaly cannot be detected until late in pregnancy, Zika virus and the antibodies for Zika virus CAN.

2. The reason the "right" to abortion ends at viability has nothing to do with the burden on the parents of having a child who may have a disability. It has everything to do with the rights of the child to exist.

It's hard to raise a child born with congenital disability. But we don't legally allow a parent to murder a 1-2 year old child, and there are many congenital disabilities that do not present themselves until a child has been born.

The trap Ann falls into is failing to understand WHY the right to abortion ends at viability. Termination at this point is ethically no different than allowing parents to kill their living children due to the difficulty of providing them care.

Ann Althouse said...

"'Should divorce be permitted? You commit to a marriage, for better or worse...' Matthew 19:8 Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning." Our hearts are still hard."

And God is still letting human beings make their own choices. Are legislatures better than God?

Curious George said...

"tim maguire said...

In this case, the commenters arguing with you feel that abortion is murder and therefore obviously not an individual decision."

Althouse feels abortion is murder. SHe has said this many times. The mental gymnastics that she takes to justify "choice" are dizzying. Which is why we get this idiocy "Should divorce be permitted? You commit to a marriage, for better or worse..."

Ann Althouse said...

"Certainly true if you take the position that abortion is a personal decision of the mother. Which is why I changed your emphasis from "right" to "constitutional." It is only because of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade that there is a right that sits with the individual and not the collective. I know you're not a typical liberal, but you're engaging in typical liberal thinking here--you are insisting that everyone accept your fundamental assumptions and then arguing with them from there, instead of recognizing that others may have different fundamental assumptions and, if you are interested in engaging with them, you must take a step back an address those assumptions. In this case, the commenters arguing with you feel that abortion is murder and therefore obviously not an individual decision."

But that is missing my point (and the Court's point). The question whether it is properly thought of as murder and therefore forbidden is a question that could be answered collectively, by legislation, or individually, by each woman for her own pregnancy. Do you answer in groups and for all or do you answer individually? I am not purporting to answer the question for all, only to say that the nature of the question is such that individual answering is the better approach to getting the question answered.

Ann Althouse said...

"I thought your comment about the "other child" that "might have been" puzzling. What other child? The hypothetical child they might have had if they terminated the zika baby and then got pregnant again a few months after that termination?"

Yes.

"Mourning for that hypothetical child seems strange, since to my knowledge zika does not prevent future healthy pregnancies. Would you mourn a child who could have been conceived after a terminated zika pregnancy more than you would enjoy a healthy baby that was born after a full-term zika pregnancy? It seems like you're not saying what you really mean -- that you would mourn the non-termination of your baby. I realize this is all a bit clumsily put. Sorry."

The parents with the microcephalic child have much less parental energy and attention to give to another child. Yes, they could still have that other child, but it will be a different other child, begun later, and living in a family that must tend to the severely disabled child.

There is another child that is never born. It's only a potential child, as the aborted child was a potential child. Not all potential children can be born. Abortion is one way that families get more control in planning when their children will be born. We get different children in the end, depending on whether abortion is available (and chosen). And, it must be seen, we get different parents.

CWJ said...

Just another sad fact of life, in this case a disease, to be mobilized in the service of politics, in this case abortion. Note that serious discussion of the disease is buried after the abortion angle. Also note that serious concern for the patient's problems rather than those of the parents doesn't really appear until the penultimate paragraph.

Pete said...

The collective acted not to restrict the rights of the individual - the mother - but to protect the rights of the unborn.

Althouse, you may think the unborn have no rights at all and, if so, then you should be perfectly fine with terminating a pregnancy at any time for any reason.

But the collective believes the unborn have rights and have acted accordingly.

damikesc said...

Doesn't the phrase "tough cases can make bad law" come into play here?

It's a shame...but given how readily the courts have decided to expand "health of the mother and baby" to include the MENTAL health of the mother, it's hard to come up with a law that protects.

Yes. The ban was based on politics not the science.

Does ANY science legitimately justify this most horrendous policy change in recent human history?

n.n said...

The constitution does not recognize an affirmative right to commit premeditated murder. Abortion rites were resumed under a quasi-religious doctrine, pro-choice, based on a faith pulled from the dark fringes of a penumbra.

The individual has a natural right to commit premeditated murder, including abortion rites, and even clinical cannibalism a la Planned Parenthood et al. The question is if society should aid and abet that action, and how we should respond to termination and cannibalism of a human life under different circumstances.

There is also a question if sanctioning premeditated murder (e.g. abortion rites) and clinical cannibalism has consequences constrained to an individual, or if it serves to debase human life and therefore should be classified as a crime committed against the individual, society, and humanity, really.

CStanley said...

The problem I have is with the politicization of Zika virus in this way.

It's bad enough that there is now information coming out indicating that the 4000 microcephaly case number may have been inflated (they got to this number by asking doctors to report all cases of head circumferences below 33 cm, a number which would include 10% of all normal US births and certainly includes many babies in Brazil that did not result from maternal Zika virus infection.)

But that may be excusable since there is a need to draw attention to the matter, and larger numbers get people's attention, and the goal is to get resources directed toward helping these babies and prevention of more cases.

For this then to be politicized as an excuse for pushing for expanded right to abortion is shameful IMO.

damikesc said...

But that is missing my point (and the Court's point). The question whether it is properly thought of as murder and therefore forbidden is a question that could be answered collectively, by legislation, or individually, by each woman for her own pregnancy. Do you answer in groups and for all or do you answer individually? I am not purporting to answer the question for all, only to say that the nature of the question is such that individual answering is the better approach to getting the question answered.

The collective has wiggle room for that as well. Is ALL killing of others punished? Absolutely not. We recognize gradations. If somebody puts a gun to my wife or my children's heads and I kill them, did I MURDER them? I don't think anybody would seriously argue yes.

But how many pregnancies deal with this? What percentage? Should laws be passed for the benefit of a sub-1% group of cases?

Rick said...

If the statutory law is as restrictive of abortion as the constitution permits, the parents are given virtually no time to absorb the terrible news before they must decide whether to reject a child they had wanted. I would think some parents would rush to have an abortion before the time window closes and then, perhaps, suffer horrible guilt for what they did so rashly.

One of my sons was diagnosed with a birth defect (less serious than microcephaly) shortly before the abortion limit. The medical advisor asked us if we were open to "options" and if we wanted to discuss the timeline. As others noted it's hardly the first time people have thought about abortion, they know their own positions. Obviously we scrambled to understand what we were facing for which our "counselor" was effectively useless. She was so concerned about liability all she would do if give best and worst cases which ran from negligible to unable to survive childhood. Even with having to go elsewhere for information gathering the information only took a day.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Ann Althouse says...
But that is missing my point (and the Court's point). The question whether it is properly thought of as murder and therefore forbidden is a question that could be answered collectively, by legislation, or individually, by each woman for her own pregnancy.

The decision whether to allow a collective or individual decision is a collective decision. Once the collective decides whether it is an individual or the collective who devides, the decision has already been made.

CStanley said...


But that is missing my point (and the Court's point). The question whether it is properly thought of as murder and therefore forbidden is a question that could be answered collectively, by legislation, or individually, by each woman for her own pregnancy. Do you answer in groups and for all or do you answer individually? I am not purporting to answer the question for all, only to say that the nature of the question is such that individual answering is the better approach to getting the question answered.

But you never say why this is a better approach.

n.n said...

they may long for that other child that never came into being

Selective-child policy. Why does a one-child policy that is evidence of a minority psychopathy pose a lesser threat to the viability of society?

That said, a human life evolves from conception or source. There is no scientific basis for spontaneous conception at one week, one month, or one year. The discussion of human rights must logically begin at the source, not some indefinite state later in the process.

CStanley said...

To elaborate on my 9:32 comment-

It seems to me that recognizing the two different approaches is an acknowledgement that neither approach is perfect, and an acknowledgment that decisions about pregnancy and abortion involve competing rights.

So your choice of putting weight on the individual woman's determination of "right to life" for her child in my opinion, puts too much emphasis on the rights of the mother (at the expense of millions of fetal lives that have been taken.)

But the other risk is that the collective society puts too little emphasis on the rights of the mother. Can you not imagine ways that the collective could help support these women in other ways rather than permitting what you have admitted is murder?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The question whether it is properly thought of as murder and therefore forbidden is a question that could be answered collectively, by legislation, or individually, by each woman for her own pregnancy.

The question of whether forcible sex with one's spouse is properly thought of as rape and therefore forbidden is a question that could be answered collectively, by legislation, or individually, by each man for his own marriage.

The question of whether a person of another race is properly thought of as a person or property is a question that could be answered collectively, by legislation, or individually, by each slave owner.

tim maguire said...

Ann Althouse said...But that is missing my point (and the Court's point). The question whether it is properly thought of as murder and therefore forbidden is a question that could be answered collectively, by legislation, or individually, by each woman for her own pregnancy

That is a sign of moral and ethical frivolousness (of which I accuse both the court and you). Each pregnant woman decides for herself whether the killing of her unborn child is murder? Really? Is that how we decide what is murder? Of course it isn't. If we let the "murderer" decide whether or not what they are doing is murder, there would be no such thing as murder. You know that and the court knows that.

Anonymous said...

"There is another child that is never born. It's only a potential child, as the aborted child was a potential child."

I think that's a strange equivalency. You're labeling something that doesn't exist (literally nothing) as a "potential child." You're also labeling a conceived, extant life -- one with head, heart, eyes, hands, legs, and fingernails as a "potential child." These are not similar things. By your logic, we should mourn every "person" that was never conceived -- an essentially infinite number of "potential children" -- in the same we should mourn a baby who is still born at the end of pregnancy. I think your point is that both are equally lacking in worth and standing, and therefore mourning. Ok then. But I still think it's an essentially strange comparison.

Your real point is that parents should be able to kill Zika babies for the sake of the infinite "potential children" they could have -- or not -- without the burden of a Zika baby. Of course you could justify infanticide under the same logic. Curious if you would? Or is birth the moral line? And why?



n.n said...

CStanley:

selective-child... why this is a better approach

Purportedly, this approach is chosen following a reconciliation of individual rights, where priority is given to a human life in a later state of development. Practically, this approach is chosen following a reconciliation of individual and shared responsibility. Politically, this is chosen to secure democratic leverage. Psychologically, this is chosen to defer moral arbitration or as a mental defense.

Roughcoat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Original Mike said...

"There is another child that is never born."

Seems to me, if you are of a religious bent, God just sends that child to somebody else.

Roughcoat said...

I've known several women who had abortions. At least 10 that I can think of off hand. In every case--every case--they aborted their unborn children simply because it was inconvenient for them to carry the child to term and give birth. Their own health and well-being had nothing to do with their decision to abort their pregnancies nor was the condition of the unborn child a factor. I'm sure that women sometimes have abortions because their health is at risk or because the fetus is afflicted by some terrible malady but I've never met them. It seems to me that most women who have abortions choose to kill their unborn child because they don't want to be pregnant and/or don't want to go through the rigors of childbirth and/or don't want to have a baby.

wildswan said...

"Doesn't the phrase "tough cases can make bad law" come into play here?" and "The trap Ann falls into is failing to understand WHY the right to abortion ends at viability. Termination at this point is ethically no different than allowing parents to kill their living children due to the difficulty of providing them care."

One of the reasons why abortion became accepted was the thalidomide epidemic in which administration of thalidomide to women at a certain point in their pregnancy resulted in a number of armless children. When the cause was known then some women who had had thalidomide wanted to abort because of the difficulties and this was used in the pro-abortion campaign. It led to abortion in demand by any woman any time up to viability, to millions of abortions, to population declines so severe that Europe is now recruiting citizens in Islamic countries despite an increase in raped women as a result of this immigration. Not one of these results was considered in the public thalidomide-abortion discussions but they all happened.

Now it seems that the Zika virus could lead to a similar campaign to allow abortions when the child is viable. And history tells us that this will go far beyond what anyone is considering when we focus solely on this family. For instance we might not try to solve the Zika virus if its worst consequence can be "fixed" with abortion - so the public health issues it is revealing can be swept under the rug. And then something else still more deadly might spread. A collective issue.

Zika abortions could lead to infanticide if we look away from protections the collective should offer persons to these terrible human dilemmas just as thalidomide led or was one of the emotive factors that led to the collective withdrawing its protections from all the unborn. Microencephaly used to be common in areas of low sunlight and a certain kind of diet and the solution was abortion until medicine began to push for better diet for pregnant women. And this Zika problem might be caused by an internal imbalance which Zika makes worse in these poor Latin American women, an imbalance that diet could solve but who will look for that when abortion "solves" the problem?



n.n said...

When does a human life acquire and retain value, and by whose choice?

The arbitrary nature of pro-choice doctrine only defers but does not answer this question. And when combined with redistributive change, class diversity, constructed congruences, etc. policies, serves to sponsor corruption that destabilizes society and undermines its viability.

The issue is fundamentally related to a reconciliation of two moral axioms: individual rights and intrinsic value, and natural imperatives (e.g. fitness). The solution has been anything but arbitrary, where the choice is often ad hoc and opportunistic.

holdfast said...

Both of my kids were born around 32-33 weeks, each under 3 pounds. It's not an easy road by any stretch, but when I read about a 4 pound aborted baby, it makes me ill. At that size, the baby has all the parts necessary to be a person, just on a smaller scale. Our older child didn't even need a respirator - just warmth, liquid and nutrition, just like any other human. Anyone who describes that person as "just a clump of cells" is a straight-up monster - really just a very large clump of cells.

Saint Croix said...

She was so concerned about liability all she would do if give best and worst cases which ran from negligible to unable to survive childhood.

A good chunk of the Casey opinion (and Mr. Scalia's dissent) is concerned with the hit the Court's reputation would take if they acknowledged they have killed some innocent people. This is why nobody on the Court has argued the baby is a person with a right to life, for instance.

I believe that Roe is implicitly concerned with money and the financial burdens that a baby brings. They want to abort the poor, and the children of single moms. It's a financial calculation.

I believe that Casey is concerned with liability, with the reputational hit the Court will take if they acknowledge error. Admitting they killed some people would hurt their institution. So no admission will be made.

While there are feminists on the Court (typically these are women), I believe the men who adopted this rhetoric did so as a defense to the baby-killing charge.

Also the autonomy argument is designed to shift the homicides away from our legal authorities--who issued in this killing regime--onto the parents. But of course the media has to hide the violence, otherwise most people would not engage in it. This is why we censor abortion photographs. Which is a funny thing to do if you want to empower the person making the choice. Why hide this information? Why censor it? Answer: it's not about her choice at all. The powerful are getting rid of people they deem inferior, and they don't want you to see what they are doing.

Ignorance is Bliss said...


And God is still letting human beings make their own choices. Are legislatures better than God?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

Legislatures are not better than God, nor are they always better than individual men ( or women ). But if you are saying that it is outside their purview to secure someone's right to life, then why do we have a government in the first place?

eric said...


The parents with the microcephalic child have much less parental energy and attention to give to another child. Yes, they could still have that other child, but it will be a different other child, begun later, and living in a family that must tend to the severely disabled child.


Pardon me, but this is a lie.

If you don't want the child, an alternative to murder is adoption. I'd gladly adopt this child to save her from being murdered by her parents.

RAH said...

The mother choose to have the child not an abortion. I do not know the life span of the child but that is her choice. No way should abortion be extended . It is mainly used just for convenience and women should either use birth control or accept the consequences of a pregnancy.

Abortion for convenience is the most selfish and morally deficient decision that women make. Either don't have sex or use birth control or get married and choose to have children.

Fernandinande said...

The Zika virus outbreak currently gripping the Americas could have been sparked by the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in 2012, critics say.
"The insects were engineered by biotechnology experts to combat the spread of dengue fever and other diseases and released into the general population of Brazil in 2012."

It's just the Mirror.co.uk and the "critics" aren't named, etc...YMMV.

"Two mosquito fossils have been found that show very little morphological change in modern mosquitoes against their counterpart from 46 million years ago." They're gonna be VERY difficult to eradicate.

rhhardin said...

They've got ultra-fragile egg shells nowadays, maybe to save calcium. The eggs break if you touch them wrong.

Maybe they keep the chicken mosquitos down with DDT.

Jason said...

Althouse: It's only a potential child, as the aborted child was a potential child.

BZZZZZZT!!! Wrong answer! Thank you for playing!

Fernandinande said...

Ann Althouse said...
And God is still letting human beings make their own choices.


God is also letting mosquitoes and viruses make their own choices.

Ann Althouse said...

"The decision whether to allow a collective or individual decision is a collective decision. Once the collective decides whether it is an individual or the collective who devides, the decision has already been made."

If you think that you don't believe in rights, except as something to be enacted by the group. Are you an American?

Ann Althouse said...

"'"There is another child that is never born.' Seems to me, if you are of a religious bent, God just sends that child to somebody else."

That's a religious belief, that God has a collection of souls that he's going to dispense when the time comes.

1. Not everyone believes that, so we're back to the question of whose beliefs govern.

2. When is the soul dispensed into the woman's body. At conception? That's not what has been thought traditionally. There's a soulless mass of flesh there for a while, so aborting it would not kill a soul. Many religious people have thought that.

3. If God lets a soul go into a pregnancy that is then deleted, how do you know whether God moves that soul to a new womb?

My point is why do you maintain the beliefs that you do? Do you choose beliefs that work for you for some reason?

CStanley said...

My point is why do you maintain the beliefs that you do? Do you choose beliefs that work for you for some reason?

Everyone does this.

jimbino said...

I would think some parents would rush to have an abortion before the time window closes

Since when does the father have any legally recognized choice in the matter? Any preference of his to carry to term or abort is legally ineffectual.

The woman, whether married or not, has all the options. She can unilaterally choose to carry to term, promising to burden both the father and society with medical, educational and custodial expenses for dozens of years. The rest of us need to have some kind of relief from the financial and moral obligations implicit in continuing the pregnancy.

Saint Croix said...

These people chose to love their baby and keep their baby. It would be nice if alleged "pro-choice" people would respect that choice, and run a photograph of the smiling happy child, who is given to "peals of laughter." She's happy! Why are the liberals at the New York Times so forlorn and dismal? Why are they second-guessing the choice that was made?

I doubt anybody can shame the New York Times into actually doing journalism about the reality of abortion. But if they're determined to be a propaganda house for Roe v. Wade, can they at least strive to be pro-choice, as opposed to pro-abortion?

cubanbob said...

Althouse, stop it. You are far too intelligent and sophisticated to make such tortured arguments. Cut to the chase and just be honest about it; you want woman to have the right to choose to get pregnant and once they get pregnant to stay pregnant if they wish or not be pregnant if they choose not to be. Just say it and be done with it.

Sebastian said...

"If you think that you don't believe in rights, except as something to be enacted by the group. Are you an American?" I don't "think I don't believe in rights except as something enacted by the group." But I know, as a matter of fact, that some rights are "enacted by the group." The right to abort with immunity from criminal prosecution is one such right, called into existence by "the group." Other "rights" like freedom of the press clearly are collective rights granted by "the group," not individual natural rights. Many rights to entitlements, as well as some "human rights" in UN documents, also are "enacted by the group." So (apologies), leaving the implied slur about Americanness out of it, rights come in kinds. Some approximate the old notion that rights are inalienably individual. But only some.

William said...

I don't think there will be lines around the block waiting to adopt microcephalic children. I think people who doubt their ability to be good caretakers of severely disabled children should be taken at their word........I knew the parents of two severely disabled children. They were good Christians and good parents. Taking care of those children affected every part not just of the parents' lives but of the siblings as well. I knew one girl who became a nurse and a very good one, partially because her brother had severely involved cerebral palsy. Well and good. The movement of the mysterious ways of God. On the other hand, the mother pretty much worked herself to death caring for her brother. The mother gave up a promising career as an insurance executive and died in her early sixties--from overwork and fretting in my estimation.........I think we should celebrate such a woman, but I would not condemn any woman who declined the chance for sainthood.....l think Michael nailed it further upstream. Liberals should get put on their heels for not allowing the judicious use of DDT in stopping the spread of this disease. This argument should be about DDT and not abortion.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Ann Althouse said...My focus is on why the decision belongs in the realm of the individual and not the collective.

Abortion is a personal decision that is a very difficult one to make....or at least should be. I think abortion is murder. If people can handle this on their souls then it is up to them to live with that decision. I'm not judging.

However, it does belong in the realm of the collective when we (collective taxpayers) are required to pay for the abortions and support the children who are not aborted.

Individual decisions require individual responsibility When you bring in the collective to support your decisions then the collective has a right to say what they will support, pay for or at what levels your decisions can be made.

Liberals want to have it both ways. The woman's right to chose and then ask others to pay for and support for life her choices.

Theranter said...

Fernandinande said...The Zika virus outbreak currently gripping the Americas could have been sparked by the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in 2012, critics say.
It's just the Mirror.co.uk and the "critics" aren't named, etc...YMMV.


The Mirror's article was bad, but given that both of the companies (now Intrexon, which purchased Oxitec) are UK based, I think that may be a factor. Here are a few of the critics:
http://www.trinfinity8.com/zika-virus-mosquitos/
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2010/11/gm-mosquito-trial-strains-ties-gates-funded-project
http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v29/n1/full/nbt0111-9a.html
http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/pageDocuments/I5G5KXD2L3.pdf

Fernandinande said...

If God lets a soul go into a pregnancy that is then deleted, how do you know whether God moves that soul to a new womb?

If the abortion is a sacrifice or battle, the soul would become a hummingbird and follow the sun. Otherwise the soul goes to Mictlan, which isn't a fun place. That's according to the best All-American Religion.

Or perhaps the pregnancy isn't actually "deleted", it's just moved to the "trash" directory.

Seeing Red said...

Europe has those guidelines and they have no problem with them. One doesn't need 9 months to make a decision. I say that as someone who faced that possibility due to genetics. My heartstrings are harder to tug because life can be difficult and some times difficult choices must be made.

Seeing Red said...

if abortion was mainly for these cases, that would be a different conversation. But the majority aren't these cases, are they?

damikesc said...

Now it seems that the Zika virus could lead to a similar campaign to allow abortions when the child is viable. And history tells us that this will go far beyond what anyone is considering when we focus solely on this family. For instance we might not try to solve the Zika virus if its worst consequence can be "fixed" with abortion - so the public health issues it is revealing can be swept under the rug. And then something else still more deadly might spread. A collective issue.

Horrifying to think about as Zika is exceptionally easy to deal with. A perfectly same chemical wiped out these problems decades ago. But really shaky science made DDT "bad".

Terry said...

Was the fetus, at 24 weeks, a human being?
We don't seem to have that definition problem with other mammals. We don't hesitate before calling a bear fetus, halfway through gestation, a baby bear.

Karen of Texas said...

I am really enjoying this discussion. I know what I think about the issue. I know what I *feel*; it is quite enlightening to be privy to other peoples' believes, opinions, and defense of positions.

Just thought I'd throw that in in case the thread deteriorates. I hope it does not. There is some good stuff going on with this one.

Seeing Red said...

My mom gave me excellent marriage advice before I even met my husband. You and your intended have to sit down and discuss hard topics and how you would handle them in the cold light of day before emotions get involved.

Roger Sweeny said...

"'Should divorce be permitted? You commit to a marriage, for better or worse...' Matthew 19:8 Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning." Our hearts are still hard."

And God is still letting human beings make their own choices. Are legislatures better than God?


Anything anyone ever did, God allowed them to choose to do that. That hardly seems to be a good argument for not making some of those things illegal.

Seeing Red said...

Bring back DDT. It could be that easy.

Unknown said...

She's already talking at 15 months? My perfectly healthy daughter didn't start talking until she was almost two years old and ended up a straight A student.

Unknown said...

She's already talking at 15 months? My perfectly healthy daughter didn't start talking until she was almost two years old and ended up a straight A student.

Fernandinande said...

Theranter said...
Here are a few of the critics:


Thanks for the links. The below was also interesting:

Zika Outbreak Epicenter In Same Area Genetically-Modified Mosquitoes Released In 2015
Also implicated: "Brazil is third in the world for its use of tetracycline in its food animals." Tetracycline affects the genetic modification.
(that site is normally "a financial blog that aggregates news and presents editorial opinions from original and outside sources.")

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

Elective abortion is a symptom of bad choices, including an aversion to risk-managed disease control. It is a solution offered without planning. It is actually reactive parenthood or reactive management, where the former has known ulterior motives, and the latter has an alternative cause traced to ideological objections to conservation.

Environmentalism for its own sake or as an industry lobby. Arguments for human-flora-fauna equivalence. Religious/moral philosophies pulled out of a penumbra. And female chauvinism coupled with left-wing ideology have distorted the moral-natural reconciliation process.

jr565 said...

SOunds like her development may or may not be out of the ordinary. If it turns out she is close to normal, then all this fussing was for nothing.
Some people don't realize their kids have developmental issues till after they are born. Like some types of autism. What do you do then? Nothing. You deal with your kid having autism. Or put the kid up for adoption and hope that someone else can deal with him/her.

MaxedOutMama said...

Ann, if divorces involved one person killing the other, I don't think divorces would be permitted by the collective!

I understand your point. But if we say "This should be an individual decision," is there any rational, objective endpoint to that? Are we going to go to the after-birth abortion, as has been done in Europe?

What if the person discovered the condition at eight months? Does that give the mother the right to terminate? What about at birth, when many of these discoveries are made? Ten days after? If the real issue is the time after discovery, rather than the viability point, then there are no constitutional barriers to parents killing their children, are there?

The original decision was at least made on some quasi-rational grounds - recognizing a viability point, and demarcating the viability point as the difference between the collective and individual decision-making stage.

If you remove that rationale, which is what you appear to be suggesting, aren't you removing barriers to infanticide? What if your baby contracts encephalitis at three months and survives with horrific damage?

And then, if the issue is really personal autonomy (the right not to be burdened with a children with a severe physical problem), why shouldn't the father have the same right as the mother? The Men's Rights advocates have been arguing that fathers should have the right to demand abortions for a while.

Jason said...

The twisted contortions pro-abortion people have to make to justify themselves remind me of the twisted, demented reasoning that pedophiles use to justify sexual predation of children.

Roger Sweeny said...

If you remove that rationale, which is what you appear to be suggesting, aren't you removing barriers to infanticide? What if your baby contracts encephalitis at three months and survives with horrific damage?

If the baby would then be in severe pain and unable to ever care for herself, I think a fatal dose of morphine would be an honorable choice. My grandfather was a doctor many years ago--people were poorer and closer to nature--and this sort of choice was sometimes made.

PJ57 said...

My children are 16 and 14. Stupid as the day is long, completely self-absorbed, horrid human beings. All their mother's fault, of course. But their "condition" was not diagnosed until the last few years. Instead, it reared its ugly head most fulsomely as they reached puberty; before then there were a few grace notes to leaven their malignity. I think it would be wonderful if I could address this problem individually. Can you identify the test case, Professor?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

PJ57 said...

But their "condition" was not diagnosed until the last few years.

Sorry, but you missed your chance. This could have been diagnosed early with a DNA test. In this case a simple paternity test would have sufficed.

Fernandinande said...

PJ57 said...
But their "condition" was not diagnosed until the last few years.


Brain-Dead Teen, Only Capable Of Rolling Eyes And Texting, To Be Euthanized

Jonathan Graehl said...

I don't believe in souls.

I don't think we should allow the abortion of healthy fetuses. Intentionally damaging a fetus should be a crime, even if the mother does it. But I'm willing to compromise: this is women's issue. Women should vote on it, not men. Men should then be allowed to vote on whether the state may be require a man support a child a woman opts to keep on her own - women selling abortions to rich men for $250-500k need to quit that.

Morning-after-pill abortions are fine IMO. You don't even know you're pregnant. You may as well be opposed to hormonal birth control as Catholics (but not Mormons) are. Every non-implanting egg or early natural miscarriage amounts to the same.

I do think we should recommend (and allow) the abortion of born-severely-crippled (genetic or otherwise) fetuses. But I appreciate the religious POV where this is definitionally evil, and also respect parents who choose to have+love crippled children (especially the ones which can reasonably have a happy life). I would urge religious parents-to-be to consider the severity of the condition detected - will you bring someone alive who will only suffer intense pain? If so, you should ponder+pray specifically on that very question.

Birches said...

I have two friends that have children with problems diagnosed in the womb. One was found at 20 weeks... the doctor was strongly suggesting abortion. He is a completely normal 3 yr old, though he had an enormous amount of surgeries in his first year. The other friend's child wasn't discovered until a routine 36 week ultrasound to make sure the baby was not breech. Though two, this baby just learned to sit up. This is why it's silly to think the law is going to help you decide what is right.

William said...

I agree with those who say that a viable fetus is just another way of saying baby. Restrictions should be put on late term abortions. But exceptions should be made. This is the wrong hill to die on. I'm a sympathetic audience, but the arguments here sound doctrinaire, abstract, and remote from the radical consequences that carrying such a child to gestation implies. Do you really want to condemn a woman who chooses to abort a microcephalic baby?

Roger Sweeny said...

It is well-known that one half of more of all conceptions end early with "spontaneous miscarriage," often before the woman knows she is pregnant. If they could have been brought to term, most of them would have had severe handicaps. If God or Nature aborts them, why should we feel bad doing something similar? If we could bring them to term, would that be a good thing to do?

CStanley said...

Roger, I've always thought that was among the weakest arguments. All kinds of terrible things (from man's perspective) happen in nature but that doesn't mean we should facilitate these things. And all people die eventually but that doesn't make murder (or even euthanasia) a moral act.

I guess you are starting from the presumption that we should view early miscarriages as purposeful- as though the hand of God intervened to prevent a tragedy. That's an assumption that isn't necessarily true (if God's purpose was to end all pregnancies that involved fetal anomalies, He would do so but He doesn't, just as He allows some people to live with chronic and sometimes painful debilitating illness for a prolonged period.)

In other words, you are advocating that we should presume God's intentions and then help Him out when he doesn't do what you think He meant to do. That is hubris.

Nancy Reyes said...

this is a subtle hint that we should allow infanticide. I base this opinion because I am aware of how the Times spun the Baby Jane Doe case back in the 1980's...they wanted her not treated e.g. dead, and many letters to the editor took the hint and suggested that infanticide be done (as it is right now in parts of Europe for these children).

addendum: when last seen, Baby Jane Doe was alive and well and living in Long Island, albeit she does have to use a wheelchair to get around

damikesc said...

It is well-known that one half of more of all conceptions end early with "spontaneous miscarriage," often before the woman knows she is pregnant. If they could have been brought to term, most of them would have had severe handicaps. If God or Nature aborts them, why should we feel bad doing something similar? If we could bring them to term, would that be a good thing to do?

Everybody dies.

Why should we feel bad if we do something to others?

Amiright?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...And God is still letting human beings make their own choices. Are legislatures better than God?

That's one of the worst arguments I've seen a smart person make this year. I'm going to assume it's not serious and treat it as a thoughtless aside. I mean, God lets people shoot each other in the face, that's a choice some people make, so why would the legislature think they're better than God and try out outlaw that choice? No, no; that's far too dumb to have been meant seriously.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

CStanley said... All kinds of terrible things (from man's perspective) happen in nature but that doesn't mean we should facilitate these things. And all people die eventually but that doesn't make murder (or even euthanasia) a moral act.

Happily there's a name for this tactic (which is quite often fallacious): Wiki: Appeal to Nature

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Roger Sweeny said...If God or Nature aborts them, why should we feel bad doing something similar.

Kindly define the limits of "something similar," Roger. Seems like rather an important point, don't you think?

Jupiter said...

Well, why should there be a cutoff? What's so special about being born? Why not just make it legal to kill your kids -- period? They can stay on your health insurance until they're 25. Maybe they get the right to live when they can pay for their own health insurance? The Death of Julia.

Jupiter said...

Christ, you screw some woman once -- maybe you're so drunk you don't even remember it -- and her failed abortion follows you around for the rest of your life, running up bills, guilt-tripping you ... Why shouldn't you just draw a bead on that aging fetus and correct your little mistake?

cyrus83 said...

What would be nice to see is something like once happened with leper colonies - i.e. a have a group of outstanding individuals come forward to establish a community to help those with the condition to live as full a life as their condition permits. Have them announce to the parents that they will help them raise these children and, if the need arises, adopt them to relieve the parents. This would most likely happen via a religious mission or other private funding.

And yet here, as likely in much of secular society, the first thought isn't about doing something to help the children, it's about killing them before they get here or otherwise focusing on the burdens of those who have to care for them - the latter isn't of no concern, but the primary focus should be on the ones actually with the condition. This is the problem with giving up the principle that all life is sacred - increasingly, more exceptions are carved out. What do we do if there's a virus that causes a devastating effect at 32 weeks? At the age of 1 or 2 (see Helen Keller)? The problem with a line is that there is always going to be that case that pleads that the line is unfair for their circumstance.

I'm not without empathy having lived in a family that dealt with a permanent birth issue, but at the same time, having had that family member, and knowing that by now most medical experts and other people would recommend an abortion if the case came up today, there isn't any way I can avoid calling this impulse toward the abortion solution evil.

Ann Althouse said...

"That's one of the worst arguments I've seen a smart person make this year. I'm going to assume it's not serious and treat it as a thoughtless aside."

No, you should see it as a paraphrase of James Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance." Read it. Learn it. Know it. Recognize paraphrases of it.

Ann Althouse said...

Also, Jefferson's "Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom": "Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds, that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his Supreme will that free it shall remain, by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint..."

CStanley said...

Can you address HoodlumDoodlums point though, about why this issue is different than any other act that we accept the legislature deciding?

Those writings (as I understand them) concern the importance of restraint with respect to establishment of religion by the legislature, not about legislating specific acts - especially an act that involves the taking of a human life. It seems to me that the pro-abortion rights side wants to make this an issue of freedom from the legislation of religious belief, as thought he only reason to oppose abortion is a religious one but that is clearly not so.

Roger Sweeny said...

CStanley,

You say that since God doesn't stop all pregnancies that involve "fetal abnormalities" and "allows some people to live with chronic and sometimes painful debilitating illness for a prolonged period", no one else should either. No one should, as the saying goes, "play God." But, of course, we do so all the time. Two hundred years ago, most of the people my age would be dead.

You seem to be saying that we should play God, but only in one direction.

You seem to be saying all human life is good and should be extended as long as possible. I disagree. If genetic tests showed that a person would be born without a cerebrum, who would live for perhaps 80 years without consciousness, hooked up to various machines, unable to speak or interact, I think the honorable thing to do would be to kill that life (or as some prefer, that potential life).

Roger Sweeny said...

Roger Sweeny said...If God or Nature aborts them, why should we feel bad doing something similar.

Kindly define the limits of "something similar," Roger. Seems like rather an important point, don't you think?


Very, very important. I don't have a perfect answer. But generally two things: the person would have an unhappy life and/or the person would require lots of extras that the parents won't provide.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Your assertion is so dislike Jefferson's point that I'm not sure if you're trolling, or what.
Do you think Jefferson believed or was arguing that laws that place any restrictions on human activity are necessarily invalid and immoral since God didn't restrict what people can do? That's nonsensical.

If you'd like to say that laws concerning religious belief/that restrict freedom of religion are immoral since God gave people the ability (and responsibility) to make choices regarding their religious beliefs & practices, sure, and I'm sure Jefferson agreed with that. But that is not at all the same as arguing that any since people can choose to act any law that restricts any action is necessarily an affront to God. That, ma'am, is stupid, and I very much doubt people who wrote and revered laws (and Law) would make any such argument.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

And, of course, restricting the topic to only religious freedom is begging the question--it's assuming the conclusion you're trying to argue. The argument is over what actions the government (or collective) may or may not permissibly restrict. You'd like to say that personal actions relating to religious freedom shouldn't be restricted by the collective (and Jefferson, Madison, and I agree), but that doesn't prove a conclusion about abortion or anything else in this case--you'd still need to make the argument that the particular action (abortion at a later-than-otherwise-legal time, I guess) is in itself an expression of religious belief (and only that).

Again, that does absolutely nothing to demonstrate that any laws made by a legislature aren't valid if they restrict any choice a person might make since after all God gave people the ability to make any choices. Your paraphrase did not limit itself to questions of/laws concerning religious belief/freedom only, and if you'd like to say it's my fault for not understanding that's what yo meant I'll have to point out that it seems like a lot of us missed that particular meaning.

Achilles said...

If the collective makes this decision for a parent, then it makes the collective responsible for the results of that decision. This child is going to require a lot of expensive care most likely. The fact that they would be forced to carry that baby to term by the collective makes the collective responsible for some of that cost. I don't want that and most of the people who want to ban that choice also want to eliminate public assistance to families with children born with these disabilities. This is an easy decision for a rich married couple. Not so much for poor people.

I don't want to be responsible for other peoples decisions and I don't want to make decisions for them. Get them to go to church so they make the right decisions, but leave the government monopoly on force out of it.

Roger Sweeny said...

The fact that they would be forced to carry that baby to term by the collective makes the collective responsible for some of that cost. I don't want that and most of the people who want to ban that choice also want to eliminate public assistance to families with children born with these disabilities.

That last statement is simply untrue. Most "pro-life" people aren't libertarians. They are perfectly fine with government paying the extra costs.

Many pro-lifers are part of the "conservative coalition" or the "Republican coalition" and they say they want government spending less and taxing less. But they are willing to make exceptions. In fact, so many people are so willing to make so many exceptions that the rhetoric rarely turns into reality.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Achilles said...I don't want to be responsible for other peoples decisions and I don't want to make decisions for them.

Apart from the specifics involved here (abortion legality at different times, abortion for reasons of fetal defects, etc) the question the Professor is addressing is what kinds of laws are morally acceptable (since the law is the collective imposing a rule on individuals). Saying "I don't want to be responsible for people's decisions" means you don't want to pay the costs for others' choices, but even given that you'd probably agree that SOME lawmaking is legitimate and SOME rules imposed by the collective are morally permissible. (To that extent, then, you are partially responsible for the choices of others in that you're involved in constraining their choices and thus changing their possible outcomes, but put that aside for now.) If you agree some laws are morally ok then the discussion turns to what kinds of laws. The Professor correctly asserts that in the American tradition we hold laws restricting individual religious belief and expression to be immoral and impermissible. She errs in seeming to assert that since that's true it's also true that any law that restricts people's choices (of any kind, presumably) must be likewise immoral.

Framing the question as one about all choices (as in, "God gives us the choice to think and act, so any law that restricts our freedom to think and act in any way is an affront to God") broadens the valid argument (w/r/t religious freedom) to the point of absurdity. There is a step between 1. Religious freedom (thoughts & expression) should be protected and 2. Laws that restrict religious freedom are immoral and 4. A particular restriction on human action (in this case, abortion) is immoral--the missing 3. is "This particular law is a restriction on religious freedom."
When 4. is "Any restriction on human action/choice is immoral" you have even more work to do!