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August 22, 2007

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"Those that are motivated by a sincere desire to minimize the number of abortions should favor making birth control as widely available as possible: after all, the more couples use birth control, the fewer unwanted pregnancies"

This is in your terminology a benefit analysis - I would guess from my negligible reading of abortion rights opponents that they hold that sex ed and giving teens condoms etc will lead incidentally to more unsafe sex overall by encouraging sex generally, or they have ethical (i.e., inarguable) objections to contraception.

"there is no evidence that birth control pills or emergency contraception prevent fertilized eggs from implanting"

This is great news - it really simplifies this part of the debate.

"The hormones in combination and progestin-only pills also thin the lining of the uterus. In theory, this could prevent pregnancy by interfering with implantation of a fertilized egg. But there is no scientific evidence that this occurs."

Actually I don't like that statement very much. I had thought that the pill acted "to suppress ovulation and change the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg" - I would prefer to see a statement saying that "scientific studies show that the pill does not prevent implantation of fertilized eggs" - there's no scientific evidence for many things that are true. There's no scientific evidence for string theory.

Here's wikipedia: "Although endometrial effects have been hypothesized as a possible mechanism of action of combined hormonal contraceptives, insufficient evidence exists on whether cellular or biochemical changes in the endometrium could actually prevent implantation. However, the possibility of fertilization during COCP [combined oral contraceptive pills] use is very small. Hence, endometrial changes are unlikely to play an important role, if any, in the observed effectiveness of COCPs."

what's most disgusting is that romney doesn't really give a crap. he has social conservative cred issues, so he's willing to go overboard on stuff like this b/c he doesn't really care about it one way or the other.

for similar reasons, with the current crew of republicans, there isn't going to be much difference on social issues/judges between any of them and say Sam Brownback.

There was a direct intimate connexion between chastity and political orthodoxy. For how could the fear, the hatred, and the lunatic credulity which the Party needed in its members be kept at the right pitch, except by bottling down some powerful instinct and using it as a driving force? The sex impulse was dangerous to the Party, and the Party had turned it to account.

I would guess from my negligible reading of abortion rights opponents that they hold that sex ed and giving teens condoms etc will lead incidentally to more unsafe sex overall by encouraging sex generally

Yes, that's a frequent claim, but it's been as frequently disproven. The notion that teenagers can be prevented from having sex (or even discouraged from having sex) by ignorance and lack of access to contraception, is demonstrably not true - neither now nor historically.

, or they have ethical (i.e., inarguable) objections to contraception.

...which ethical objections to contraception override their claimed ethical objections to abortion?

It's already been noted that the pro-life campaigns in the US and the UK make no sense if their objective is (as they claim) to reduce abortions - but perfect sense if their actual objective is to control women's bodies and prevent women having reproductive rights. So either pro-life campaigners are very stupid, or very duplicitous... or both, of course.

(I suspect the majority answer is that a lot of people who identify as pro-lifers have a kneejerk reaction "abortion is bad!" and think that saying so and attacking health clinics where women can get abortions will magically remove the reasons a woman may need an abortion. Kind of like thinking that saying "terrorism is bad!" and attacking Iraq will magically remove the reasons people have for becoming terrorists.)

If what I learned at school (long ago) is correct, about 50% of fertilized eggs don't implant (without any interference by birth control drugs). In that case it is quite possible that the pill will shift the probability of implantation towards lower values but without there being a scientific "proof" available.
The "pro-lifers" will follow the 1%-doctrine anyway.
At least for Poland there is a significant effect of the contraception=abortion=deadly sin doctrine. A woman has either to sin on a regular base (contraception) or just a few times in her life (abortion). During the papacy of JP2 many Polish women followed that "minimizing sin strategy".
Historical experience (e.g. Nazi Germany) shows that even capital punishment is no real deterrent against abortion or non-marital sex.
The "minimize abortion" argument does not run with many "pro-lifers" because it is a matter of principle (or so they claim) or as the RCC doctrine has it "even the greatest achievable good does not justify sin as a mean to it" or as someone actually put it "even Auschwitz is no argument for aborting Hitler" (another classic: What if Mary had aborted Jesus?).
My opinion: Teach the kids the facts and responsibility. Keeping them in the dark does not work.
And don't let the wrong people see http://www.whitehouse.org/initiatives/purity/index.asp>this or they will get ideas ;-)

It is impossible to have a real political debate in this country over just about any issue. We're fncking insane.

What if Mary had aborted Jesus?

Then the religious wackos would have to find another prophet to twist the words of to justify their oppressive tendencies?

But for those trained to hear the subtleties… He implied… There are code phrases to listen for… Mr. Romney's code, deciphered, meant…

This seems like a bit of a stretch. I mean I could take anything you have written and with the same technique say “What you really meant is this…”


This is not your father's Republican party. It's not even the Republican party of 2000.

This I agree with whole heartedly.

This I agree with whole heartedly.

Me too, I'm at the point where I can't envision ever voting for the Republicans again (although I said that about Democrats once and it only lasted about 10 years).

There appear to be a large number of citizens of this country who are pod-people, or something.

What if Mary had aborted Jesus?

Either you think that he is the son of god (and your god would be dumb to choose her), you think he is a god-sent prophet (and your god would be dumb to choose her) or you don't care.

I disagree with OCSteve about the stretch. Defining conception as the start of life instead of implantation makes a lot of difference for contraceptive methods. It will also have an impact on what women are allowed to do when they *could* be pregnant. Scary.

Dutch: After reading your comment I have determined that what you were really saying is…

If what I learned at school (long ago) is correct, about 50% of fertilized eggs don't implant (without any interference by birth control drugs).

That's probably an underestimate. Which brings me to one of my major problems with the whole "pro-life" movement in general. If we accept for the moment their premise that life begins at conception (which is itself not a single event but a series of events, but that's another comment altogether...). Ok, so on that premise, a lot of people are dying through abortion. That's bad. But far more people, in fact, over half the population, are dying from failure of implantation. That's worse.

So why aren't they upset about that? Where are the outraged calls for funding for a national institute to prevent miscarriages? Shouldn't the NIPM be a major, well-funded branch of the NIH? Shouldn't we have major initiatives to prevent these deaths--the deaths of over half of all babies? Shouldn't wealthy pro-lifers be setting up charitable organizations dedicated to stopping miscarriage a la the March of Dimes, etc?

The usual excuse is that these deaths are "natural". So what? SIDS is natural. Birth defects are natural. Premature labor, fetal distress, and preclampsia are natural. Yet we make efforts to save fetuses and babies at risk through premature labor, preclampsia, fetal distress, SIDS, birth defects, group B strep, and so on. And we continue to fund work into finding ways to prevent those deaths we can't avoid with current technology. But SIDS, premature labor, etc kill relatively few babies compared to failed implantation. Why are the pro-lifers not angry about the failure of the government to deal with this huge pandemic? All I can figure out is that they don't really believe in one celled people either.

But depending on the religious flavor one favors, God cares for them (the 1-cellers) enough to put them into hell forever (St. Augustine was quite explicit about that).
There are even devices for prenatal babtism.
The logical solution would be [pure tastelessness ahead] a holy water toilet combined with the duty for women to speak the babtism formula everytime the use it [/tastelessness].
One problem is the inconsistency. Before the 20th century "natural" contraception was banned together with all other methods by the RCC. That was brutal but at least consistent. To allow anything pre-implantation (and set the beginning of personhood there) and ban everything after would be also consistent and could (theoretically) be discussed rationally.
Neither is the case in reality and what we have instead is deliberate obfuscation (from all sides).

"which ethical objections to contraception override their claimed ethical objections to abortion?"

Obviously they don't accept your false dichotomy ("we have to nuke Iraq or surrender to the evildoers"), just as they get to say to hilzoy that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

"This is not your father's Republican party. It's not even the Republican party of 2000."

That's a shame, because I was hoping to deny them military disability and health insurance based on a genetic preexisting condition.

"What if Mary had aborted Jesus?"

Well then, he wouldn't have been available for crucifixion, which would have been a great disappointment for many, including his Dad. Plus, Monty Python's "The Life of Brian" would have been a much shorter movie. And if you think about it, Mohammed wouldn't have been able to crib much of Christianity's mythos (as some contend), leaving Mohammed Atta to while away his days as a vaguely discontented secular humanist who was afraid of flying.

"pod people"

Yup, Kevin McCarthey was right when he jumped up on the hood of my mother's car and pounded on the windshield, begging us to listen to him, "They're here!"

.... or, was that a movie?

Then again, the singular characteristic of the pod people was an utter lack of outrage and other emotions.

The Tancredo/Brownback anti-condom/birth control crowd have outrage to burn. It's their lifeblood, like the acid coursing through the veins of "Alien" --- multiple snapping jaws and acid burning through the bulkheads every two and four years.

I'm not so hot on abortion my own self, but if Mitt Romney and his wife have practiced the rhythm method all of their married life, then we have to believe that his Presidential run is little more than a male menopause mid-life crisis, minus the 'vette and the blonde.

Luckily for all of us, he's as insincere as a 40-year old virgin.

Tancredo, on the other hand, is a bad impersonation of Milton Berle doing a Mussolini routine, pants around his ankles, looking to the wings for the cream pie cue.


"The Tancredo/Brownback anti-condom/birth control crowd have outrage to burn. It's their lifeblood"

Their lifeblood is burning acid? Yikes, let's surrender to them now.

Excellent post. Here's hoping that presidential candidates who advocate the criminalization of abortion will be pressed to explain whether they also favor governmental restriction (or prohibition) of contraceptives. One who would reverse Roe v. Wade should be asked whether he would also favor reversal of Griswold v. Connecticut, a decision about which even then-Judge John Roberts has commented favorably as to marital privacy and contraception.

My one quarrel with this otherwise first rate post is the use of the hideous euphemism "reproductive freedom". George Orwell wrote that "The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink."

If the topic is abortion rights, say so. Abortion is not the surgical procedure that dare not speak its name. If the topic is the availability of contraceptives, say so. To refer to the freedom to avoid reproduction as "reproductive" freedom makes as much sense as characterizing the governmental power of eminent domain as the preservation of individual property rights.

OC, are you saying that there's no such thing as code-words or hinting-without-saying? Or that, in this instance, Romney was not actually suggesting support of the 'pill-prevents-implantation' theory?
I can't see how either position makes sense, but Id have an easier time continuing to discuss it if I knew what you were suggesting.

Carleton: I agree that there are code words. I just think that the author of this piece (not Hilzoy) stretches things a bit because the article is full of phrases such as:

But for those trained to hear the subtleties
He implied
There are code phrases
One code phrase is
Mr. Romney's code, deciphered, meant
the unspoken rule

And when she writes “The American public is unaware of the new wave of anti-contraception activism…” it just reads to me as “the rubes don’t know what’s going on here but I’ve got these guys figured out”.

Do GOP candidates pander to the religious right on abortion? Of course. Might the author of “How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex” be a little over the top when she discusses this topic? IMO yes.

Rilkefan: Obviously they don't accept your false dichotomy ("we have to nuke Iraq or surrender to the evildoers"), just as they get to say to hilzoy that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

You should leave inconsequential nonsense to John Thullen: he knows how to be funny.

John of N: To refer to the freedom to avoid reproduction as "reproductive" freedom

makes perfect sense. If women can be forced to conceive and forced through pregnancy and childbirth, as those who want to ban contraceptives for women and legal/safe access to abortion prefer, women do not have reproductive freedom.

I will grant that a woman who is forcibly raped can be "forced to conceive". The termination of that "forced pregnancy", however, is ordinarily by abortion. We advocates of liberty in regard to abortion rights should not be squeamish about calling the procedure by its name.

Let the Sex Control Brigades, whose members bomb clinics and assassinate doctors, torture the language in a manner that would make Winston Smith blanch. It is unseemly for honest people to use euphemisms like "reproductive freedom" and (outside the context of rape)"forced pregnancy".

OCSteve: I think that the example the author uses -- "I fought to define life as beginning at conception rather than at the time of implantation" -- actually is a good example of something designed to be heard by a particular audience, and not paid attention to by everyone else. Most people probably wouldn't know why this is supposed to matter; it would just fly past them. (Not because they didn't understand it, just because it would have no obvious importance.)

Even for people who are generally well-informed on these questions, the point would not be clear: being generally well-informed would probably mean that you know that the birth control pill works mostly by preventing fertilization, not implantation.

Only if you're already into the anti-contraception debates, have read the various websites claiming that the pill and emergency contraception prevent implantation, etc., would this sentence strike you. In that respect, it's like the references to the Dred Scott decision in the 2004 campaign: most people just went "huh?" and didn't think about it further, but it turned out that comparing Roe v. Wade to Dred Scott was a familiar theme in anti-abortion circles.

I don't really know how to make sense of that comment other than interpreting it as being about the morning after pill, OCSteve.

He probably wasn't actually promising to outlaw the pill & IUD, as any attempt to do so would be politically damaging, and based on his past record I doubt he genuinely believes this stuff. But his position & argument that the morning after pill is abortofacient & he opposes all abortion logically implies that he supports banning the IUD and the pill, and I'm very glad someone called him out on it.

John in Nashville: I will grant that a woman who is forcibly raped can be "forced to conceive".

Women who are not permitted access to contraception which is under her control, and/or who are not permitted to decide to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, are being forced through unwanted pregnancies and unwelcome childbirth. This is not some theory: this is what actually happened to women in the US or the UK when access to contraception and/or abortion was criminalized, and still happens today in countries where women do not have reproductive freedom.

It is unseemly for honest people to use euphemisms like "reproductive freedom" and (outside the context of rape)"forced pregnancy".

I don't actually care if you think it's unseemly to say that a woman being denied her right to terminate is being forced to be pregnant. It is unseemly to force a woman through pregnancy against her will, and it is deeply dishonest to pretend that legislation denying access to contraception and/or abortion is not all about forced pregnancy/childbirth.

And when she writes “The American public is unaware of the new wave of anti-contraception activism…” it just reads to me as “the rubes don’t know what’s going on here but I’ve got these guys figured out”.

That's probably true but, otoh... I mean, did anyone outside the loony anti-choice fringe know that Dred Scott was a codeword for the Evils of Abortion? There's codewords and then there's codewords...

me: "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

Jes: "You should leave inconsequential nonsense to John Thullen: he knows how to be funny."

As do you - I at least am laughing.

"Most people probably wouldn't know why this is supposed to matter; it would just fly past them."

It would perhaps be useful to cite what conservatives would consider a coded message of this sort on our side. I can't think of any at the moment, though I did read about a speech by Obama that it contained language that would be understood as more meaningful by someone acquainted with the Bible or perhaps biblical interpretation.

"I just think that the author of this piece (not Hilzoy) stretches things a bit because the article is full of phrases such as..."

I agree that those sorts of phrases could be used to put words (even code words) in someone's mouth. But Im not sure what you actually object to about the conclusions that were drawn- do you really think Romney's meaning has been altered, or are you just warning in general about the danger of altering meaning via interpretation?

There is a thread over at TiO about pre-natal testing and whether it encourages abortions. Stuff in my past that I sift around.

Carleton: I guess I mean I just don’t take him seriously. I consider it to be typical political pandering that doesn’t even reflect his own position. I don’t believe that if elected he would work to outlaw contraceptives. The author does seem to not only take it very seriously, but the “code word” stuff makes it sound like it’s a secret agenda. She’s blowing the cover on the evil scheme because she’s figured out the codes. Now that she’s shared the codes that 80% should be sure not to vote for him.

I also find the term reproductive freedom to be not very apt in describing what usually is meant. It is also too narrow. I'd say in German the term closest to the intended meaning is Sexuelle Selbstbestimmung (sexual self-determination).

As Hilzoy noted, positing the moral equivalence of slavery and abortion is fairly common in fundamentalist circles.

Many anti-abortion rights fringers invoke Dred Scott as a shibboleth: to their way of thinking, the Supreme Court in Scott v. Sandford rendered a result-oriented decision which disregarded the strongly held moral views of the critics of the decision, to the detriment of a disfavored group (Negro slaves, in the parlance of the day) that lacked constitutional protection. (The unstated premise may be that, if a civil war is necessary to eradicate abortion rights, so be it.) It is this crowd of yahoos, who conflate slaves with "preborn babies", to whom the current President Bush was pandering by invoking Dred Scott in his second debate with Senator Kerry.

Justice Scalia, dissenting in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, fulminated:
"Dred Scott was 'very possibly the first application of substantive due process in the Supreme Court, the original precedent for Lochner v. New York and Roe v. Wade.'" quoting D. Currie, The Constitution in the Supreme Court 271 (1985) (footnotes omitted).

John: As Hilzoy noted, positing the moral equivalence of slavery and abortion is fairly common in fundamentalist circles.

Which is more than slightly weird, since the argument against women having the right to decide to terminate always tends to the idea that women are basically property to be bred at will, not free people with the right and the obligation to make decisions for ourselves. Fundamentalists have no difficulty using Dred Scott to argue that women are non-persons...

I consider it to be typical political pandering that doesn’t even reflect his own position. I don’t believe that if elected he would work to outlaw contraceptives.

Well, what is Romney's position, anyway? Does anyone know?

He wouldn't have to work for outlawing contraception himself. He can name more RW fundamentalists to the SCOTUS, who would then hand down a decision overturning Griswold.

But Romney's not going to get elected. I admit I don't always think highly of voters, but I can't see enough of them taking such complete leave of their senses that they elect someone who so perfectly embodies the description "there's less to him than meets the eye."

Giuliani's the one who makes me nervous. His social-issue liberalism takes second place to his authoritarianism. He'd do away with the body of judicial and statutory law upholding privacy rights (which is the basis for Griswold as well as Roe) in order to solidify the Unitary Executive's powers of surveillance and imprisonment.

Once that's done, the anti-contraceptive lobby won't have much difficulty achieving their goal, since the Constitutional underpinnings for privacy rights will have been kicked away. Doesn't matter if Giuliani intended it for other reasons; the new precedent will already have been set.

OCSteve, Republican politicians have used code words routinely for quite a while. The purpose is to let the extremists in their base know that that they support the extremist positions without giving those positions away to non-extremist voters.

Most Americans have no idea that many members of the Republican rank and file would like to restrict access by consenting adults to common methods of birth control. Romney does't want to be the one to break the news to the general public,not while running for national office.

The problem Republican politicians have is that their real policies aren't widely supported. That's why they always run for office on a combination of wedge issues and code words. The code words are region-specific. The ones I am most familiar with are the codes designed to appeal to exploiters of public land and public tax dollars.


For example: 1." end excessive regulation, " etc. which means eviserate environnmental laws, 2. "stop environmentalists from locking up public lands" which means lock the public off public land either by allowing special interests to block public access or by screwing up the public land so that no one will want to go there anyway, 3. "fiscal conservatism" which means to fling money out to every special interest group in sight while cutting taxes, 4. or "get the bums off welfare" which means screw over people who are unlikely to vote Republican while increasing the public-funded subsidies for parasitic special interests groups such as the timber industry, coal and natural gas companies, or cattle ranchers.

I don't think the use of codes is an exclusively Republican activity, but Republican have to do it more than Democrats (in statewide or national elections)because, issue by issue, Republcian positions simply aren't popular. Republican politicians have to find some other way to get votes, some other way than forthright and honest discussion of their real intentions, I mean.

"absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

Hello, presbyopia! I looked at that and read ""abstinence of evidence is not evidence of abstinence"

On the other hand, if your main concern is not reducing the number of abortions, but something more like regulating female sexuality, or preventing people from separating sex and reproduction, or undermining women's ability to control their own bodies, then you should oppose abortion and contraception alike.

What an absurd and unfocused statement.

It is obviously possible to possess good faith beliefs that both abortion and contraception contravene natural law.

It is obviously possible to possess good faith beliefs that both abortion and contraception contravene natural law.

Perhaps, but if the argument is that contravening natural law is bad then there are many things out there that are far worse than contraception or abortion. For example, use of the internet, which clearly contravenes natural law* on a number of levels, from writing to communication with strangers thousands of miles away, and has been used by humans only in the past, perhaps, 20 years. On the other hand, abortion and contraception have been used for millenia and, IIRC, are even sometimes used by other species (i.e. rabbits reasborbing fetuses if the timing for reproduction is poor.) So if the fundies want the "unnatural therefore bad" argument to be taken seriously, they'd better be making it orally, in person because any other method of communication is highly unnatural. Certainly they shouldn't be using the internet which is the height of unnaturalness.

*Ok, so really it doesn't. It's not possible to break physical laws and anything that occurs in nature--including anything that people do--is natural.

It is obviously possible to possess good faith beliefs that both abortion and contraception contravene natural law.

It's also possible to hold in good faith beliefs such as "god created the world in six days six thousand years ago", "the Earth is flat", "the Moon landings were faked", "the Left Behind books are accurate, Bible-based prophesy", "homosexuality is unnatural", "this e-mail from Nigeria will make me rich". Many people do hold these beliefs in good faith, along with the belief that somehow "abortion and contraception contravene natural law", and they are entitled to do so: before breakfast, if they like.

But they are not entitled to ask anyone else to take those beliefs seriously, or have the actions they take based on their nonsensical beliefs backed up by legislation.

It's also possible to believe in good faith that, say, seeking medical treatment when one gets cancer -- cancer's natural, right? -- contravenes natural law, but I wouldn't much trust the judgement of someone who believed it.

I have never met anyone nor read any argument that natural law (from whatever source, divine or simply intrinsic to the nature of things) bans abortion and contraception in the way that, say, tradition mandates the yarmulka, or extra dietary restrictions on Fridays. In those sorts of cases, the act is more or less arbitrarily chosen to express an underlying idea - the same impulse could have manifested many different ways. (I recall reading that some early Christian communities feasted on Friday, fasted on Saturday, and resumed normal eating after services on Sunday morning; that could just has easily have become tradition as the "no meat on Friday" practice, for instance.)

Rather, these bans exist to achieve an end: to preserve God's sovereign authority over each life, from its beginning to its end. Contraception usurps His prerogative to say "this life begins now", abortion His prerogative to say "this life continues". Failures of implantation and miscarriage are simply expressions in the natural world of His decision that "this life will not continue", for divine reasons that may or may not ever be comprehensible to us. Except, of course, when they aren't, but are instead manifestations of the physical and spiritual brokenness of the world, and allowed to happen because the work of redemption isn't yet complete, and in the meantime we're stuck with God's prophetic warning to Eve that sorrow will be her lot as woman and mother.

A lot of people believe that, or something like it, and they're perfectly sincere about it.

But that doesn't settle the matter. American law doesn't exist fundamentally to reflect the convictions of a particular sub-set of American Christians. And the rest of us are free to say that the consequences of a belief that calls for banning both abortion and contraception are monstrous, a God completely unworthy of worship, appalling to the conscience as well as landing in logical contradictions. The law doesn't exist fundamentally to support my conscience, or P.Z. Myers' either, of course. In matters of controversy, it exists to weigh the available facts as best it can and reach a decision based on them, founding principles, precedent, and a bunch of other concerns.

Those Christians (and other believers in natural law) who require this particular conception of natural law to embodied in case and statute law have already set themselves out of the scope of American society. There's nothing innately wrong with that - "America" shouldn't be a cosmic source of identity like "Christian", and we've got a rotten legacy of imperialism to shows what happens when people try to make it so. But the fact is that the natural law as they envision it is not, has never been, and was intended not to be part of American law. American law is supposed to work for people who have a different theodicy, or none at all, just as much as for those who believe God wills every miscarriage, crib death, and act of child abuse.

Rather, these bans exist to achieve an end: to preserve God's sovereign authority over each life, from its beginning to its end. Contraception usurps His prerogative to say "this life begins now", abortion His prerogative to say "this life continues".

i like the idea that the will of an omnipotent God is defeated by a piece of latex 0.03mm thick.

Uh oh, I just ran into Satan at the 7-11. He was picking up a pack of Trojans.

Contraception usurps His prerogative to say "this life begins now", abortion His prerogative to say "this life continues".

God is not dead, but He is impotent.

Nope, he follows a strict one child policy. A second child would only complicate matters.

God is not dead, but He is impotent.
Mary would disagree with this.

;-)

Nope, he follows a strict one child policy. A second child would only complicate matters.
Julie Katz would certainly disagree with the former statement (but not the latter).

Side note: Even though I heatedly disagree with the view I'm describing, I am trying to do it justice. I like to separate critique from presentation. If an adherent to natural-law rationales for opposing both abortion and contraception thinks I'm caricaturing them, please say so, because I'm trying not to. I think it's vitally important to understand what others do in fact think before I pass judgment on it.

Bruce, I wouldn't know, but that seemed likely to be entirely fair. However I don't know that your analysis of the law and morality is correct - I suspect it's much more complex. The constitution explicitly fails to describe all the rights we have, for one thing, and I suspect its Framers and interpreters often explicitly relied on natural law: and what that is is up for grabs.

Contraception usurps His prerogative to say "this life begins now", abortion His prerogative to say "this life continues". Failures of implantation and miscarriage are simply expressions in the natural world of His decision that "this life will not continue", for divine reasons that may or may not ever be comprehensible to us.

Then aren't antibiotics, chemotherapy, surgery, sanitation, etc usurping God's perogative to say "this life will NOT continue"? One could argue that those things don't definitively save any given life, just alter the odds so they don't usurp in the same way, but then what does one say about cardiopulmonary recussitation and advanced cardiac life support? Those are only used when someone is clinically dead--no heartbeat, no breathing. If it works, it definitively saves a person who is "supposed" to die. Can there be a clearer usurpation of God's will that a person die than to bring them back to life when their heartbeat is gone? Yet the fundies don't protest that. Why not?

i like the idea that the will of an omnipotent God is defeated by a piece of latex 0.03mm thick.

My understanding of the standard answer to this (and anyone who thinks I'm caricaturing or wrong, please correct me) is that humans acting of their own free will can defeat God's intent or act against God's desires and God allows this because people are supposed to be free, not puppets. On the other hand, I'm not sure how anyone knows that using condoms is defeating God's will. Maybe He wants the human population to stabilize at a reasonable level so as to not destroy the rest of the earth's inhabitants.

"Yet the fundies don't protest that."

Probably calling them that won't advance the debate.

Note that the Catholic Church holds that contraception is wrong but resuscitation is permissible - presumably they have a colorable argument why that makes sense.

On the other hand, I'm not sure how anyone knows that using condoms is defeating God's will.

that's easy: you just ask someone who claims to know how to read god's mind.

you just ask someone who claims to know how to read god's mind.

I just read God's mind. She said that using condoms when both partners desire conception is generally bad, but that otherwise condoms and contraception in general are very, very good things. She wonders how dumb we are to think that a micrometer thick piece of latex or plastic could defeat Her purposes. Does that mean that condoms are ok now?

Note that the Catholic Church holds that contraception is wrong but resuscitation is permissible - presumably they have a colorable argument why that makes sense.

Possibly. Every Catholic I've ever asked about birth control has rolled his/her eyes and said that the reason that birth control is officially forbidden is that the Pope is a celebate old man who doesn't know anything about it and that God's plan for humanity doesn't involve having more children than can be fed. So I don't know what the official position might be.

"and I suspect its Framers and interpreters often explicitly relied on natural law: and what that is is up for grabs."

Yes, the Constitution comes from a natural law/natural rights framework.

on natural law: who are the natural legislators? where are their acts encoded?

At this point it has to be said that most developments of medicine were opposed at one time by parts of the Church for those very reasons. It is meddling with God's ineffable plan and therefore blasphemous. Even Queen Victoria's doctor got in trouble for giving the queen some ether to ease the pain of childbirth (because the Bible prescribed pain as punishment foe Eve's sin). Treatments for STDs encourage sin (still a common view in some pious circles) etc.
It gets really nasty when two religious opinions crash as in the Terry Schiavo case. Did the doctors meddle by keeping her alive while she was essentially dead already (thus playing God) or was letting her die the sin (ending a life without God's written consent)?

Bruce: Side note: Even though I heatedly disagree with the view I'm describing, I am trying to do it justice.

Sure, I got that. The problem is, it's not a view that it's possible to do justice to, because it's fundamentally flawed.

Rilkefan: Note that the Catholic Church holds that contraception is wrong but resuscitation is permissible - presumably they have a colorable argument why that makes sense.

What makes you think that? The Catholic Church's official position sums up to "Better have unprotected sex and abortions than use contraception".

My name is Janice Still and i would like to show you my personal experience with Depo-Provera.

I am 24 years old. I have been on Depo for 9 years and did not realize that the symptoms I experienced might be related to the shot. I am now facing thousands of dollars in dental work due to bone density loss, and will probably end up with osteoporosis. I am getting off Depo and will never touch it again!

I have experienced some of these side effects-
Low libido, joint pain, bone density loss, dental problems, headaches, fatigue, out of control eating, gained 40 lbs., depression

I hope this information will be useful to others,
Janice Still

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