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November 05, 2011

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IMHO what's really criminal is that this is going on in the state with the highest infant death rate, something that doesn't seem to be quite so gripping and important for Mississippi politicians and voters.

Should be the lead. Thanks for the lesson.

I don't quite understand why we are wrestling with this. It's really quite simple. You start with whatever policy you want (in this case, to eliminate any and all abortions), and from that derive the definition of a person that is needed to accomplish that.

Extra credit assignment 1: list all of the people supporting this definition of "person" who routinely provide funerals (full dress ones, just like for an adult) each time someone has a miscarraige. After all, on their definition, a person has died! (Fortunately, it should be a very short list.)

Extra credit assignment 2 (but not much credit, because it's been done centuries ago): decide what race you want discriminate against, and then write a definition of "person" which excludes them.

"On the other hand, a nontrivial number of people are walking around looking like a single person, but who turn out to be the results of fusion between twins in utero."

To put a finer point on that entirely spooky sentence (there's something elegantly horrifying about the words "non-trivial") which lights up every single one of my invasionofthebodysnatchers dashboard warning signals ......

..... see here, especially the case of Sanju Bhagat, who received unwanted notoriety some years ago:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetus_in_fetu

I'm struck in this article by the term "parasite" in this paragraph from the article:

"Fetus in fetu may be a parasitic twin fetus growing within its host twin. Very early in a monozygotic twin pregnancy, in which both fetuses share a common placenta, one fetus wraps around and envelops the other. The enveloped twin becomes a parasite, in that its survival depends on the survival of its host twin, by drawing on the host twin's blood supply. The parasitic twin is anencephalic (without a brain) and lacks some internal organs, and as such is almost always unable to survive on its own. As the normal twin has to "feed" the enveloped twin from the nutrients received over a single umbilical cord, it usually dies before birth."

I'm an attorney in precisely the same way Dr. Irwin Corey is a gynecologist, but it would seem to me this new "law", drafted by murderous, sadistic ghouls, who unfortunately turned away from the rather harmless practice of burning Beatles records to really f*ck the world, opens either or both of the twin fetuses (they were "persons" from the get-go) described above to charges of infanticide, or first degree murder, or at least manslaughter, depending on the outcome.

But what if one of the twins is gay? What's the charge then, south of the Mason Dixon Line? Bullying in the service of a moral or religious conviction, which, I spose, judging from other murderous legislation being drafted by murderous ghouls, would be exempted from punishment?

Other legal ramifications: If corporations are persons, and therefore by the logic of this nascent framework of stupid legislation and court rulings, a newly formed blastocyst corporation is a person, if I decide as the conciever of this person/corporation (Countme-In Junior, esq. Inc) to abort and dissolve said fetal corporation, am I guilty of murder?

Other ideas to clog up Mississippi's underfunded court system because white-trash rubes refuse to tax fetal and corporate persons:

What if I rent an apartment and the lease language specifies that I must notify the landlord and pay more if I take in a roommate? The landlord then learns that my fetal twin is not only encapsulated within me, but is still living as a sort of parasite on my dime (hey, it'll happen, God having ignored the details of biology, being a sort of big-picture person, and then ignoring his creation), am I, and my twin brother or sister, liable for eviction?

What if I'm caught driving in a car-pooling lane by myself and I discover that my twin is still lurking within. Will I be ticketed?

What if my fetal twin decides to incorporate, thus gaining double personhood indemnity in America-the-only-civilization-in-history-that-will-expire-by-the-sound-of-a-laugh-track, and then decides as the Chairman of that corporate person to cancel my health insurance, since I hope he would have hired his/her brother, and then he gets an infection which threatens the two of us and I can't afford medical care.

Who's fault is that?

What if Ripley in "Alien" is inseminated orally by the alien and the fetus bursts through her chest wall, killing her. Is that murder, or given the principle of the sanctity of life in Mississippi and the legal protection of fetuses over concern for the life of the mother, is that just a life birth, and as long as the alien finds a job, doesn't encumber the social safety net, and votes Republican is good to go, or what?

Also, "Depraved-Heart Murder". There's a song or the name of a band somewhere in there.

In closing, what George Carlin said: "If you're pre-born, you're fine; if you're born, you're f*cked".

I'm pro-life and pro-choice.

Not to mention, what to make of the sentence "I'm a Koch brother from another mother!"

How would they handle that under Mississippi jurisprudence?

I mean, can the Mississippi legislature give
that level of Godhead.

I just don't get these anti-abortion crusading fundementalists. Who are they, where do they get their beliefs and what is it they really want? Why are they so fixated on the abortion topic? How can there be so many of them?

I mean, I am a spiritually focussed person. My personal belief/opinion/understanding is that a soul enters/becomes connected with (whatever) a fetus necessarily only after the nervous system is well developed - sometime in the third trimester - or as late as when the infant takes its first breath.

Those are my beliefs. I know a number of spiritually oriented people who are more or less in agreement. But I would never consider imposing those beliefs on anyone else. Nor would I ever insist that my beliefs are "correct" and that someone else's are wrong.

So someone believes in the bible, literally. Where does the bible discuss abortion? Where does it discuss the when's and how's of individualization of the sould of a fetus?

I know some fairly fundementalist christians that even see things my way. Others don't agree with my soul/body connection timeline, yet I can't think of a instance when any of them expressed a strong anti-abortion position. Mostly, at strongest opposition, it's "well it's an ugly choice, but it's a choice all the same and it should be for the woman to make provided she has had appropriate education and therapy".

I can't remember ever meeting anyone who admitted to being a staunch anti abortion crusader. Has anyone here?

I guess these fundy anti-abortion christian crusaders are like cockroaches. They hide under the floorboards of society and scurry about on their nasty little missions when no one is looking? Only to emerge occassionally to wave a sign at a demonstration or support some pol that claims to support them.

I'll send you an e-mail:

[Sociological Forum, 2002] Polarization in Abortion Attitudes in U.S. Religious Traditions, 1972-1998

Studies have shown that attitudes toward abortion are polarizing. Yet, these studies have not focused upon what is often assumed to be the cause of polarization-religion. In this paper I find that polarization has increased between mainline and evangelical Protestants, as well as between black Protestants and both Catholics and white evangelicals. Moreover, Ifind that mainline Protestants and Catholics are internally polarizing. Finally, while I cannot determine the cause of the internal polarization of Catholics, the polarization within mainline Protestantism is caused by demographic changes. For white evangelicals, demographic changes have restrained polarization that would otherwise have occurred

I think abortion has morphed into the same political dynamic that Prohibition did, that is it became a symbolic movement for Anglo-protestant conformity. So you had true believers, for others it was symbolic (so it was easy to ignore “real Americans” breaking the law), and for many it was both.
Abortion doesn’t really become a strong blip for the conservative Protestants until ERA and second wave feminism. And conservative Roman Catholics (who were always against it) found common cause with the rising religious right, in the late 1970s.

Actually, I think the excitement about abortion isn't about abortion. Basically, it's about sex. Specifically, what is important is that sex (certainly sex outside marriage) is BAD (aka sinful). And therefore, anyone who engages in it should be punished.

Can't get anywhere with making it illegal. So what to do? Maximize the negative consequences, i.e. the chance of pregnancy. Therefore:
1) Get rid of sex education, so kids who do the wrong thing don't realize the risks or how to avoid them.
2) Make contraception as difficult as possible.
3) Make abortion illegal, so if someone does get pregnant, they can't avoid having to bear (and preferably raise) the children.

(Note that, in the places and among the population which holds these values, the rate of teen pregnancy is higher than anywhere else in the country. As I read a while back, they believe that "families make adults" -- that is, the girl gets pregnant, the expectation is that the boy is required to marry her, and presto there is another family.)

All that means that arguments about abortion, or when life begins, sex education, etc. are pointless. Because those issues are not at the root of the problem, they are merely means to an end. The argument will only get resolved when the numbers of those who regard sex as sinful are no longer electorally significant.

Once divorce, and other issues, which changed the power of men in marriage, or as head of households, (all happening in the 1970s) the stakes were stacked against traditional gender relationships.

"The argument will only get resolved when the numbers of those who regard sex as sinful are no longer electorally significant."

Yes, but the numbers of those who regard sex as sinful keep having unprotected sex outside of marriage at exponential rates, mostly in motels, church basements, with the neighbors during commercial breaks on FOX News while the wife or the hubby are out having their pompadours and B-52s shellacked, as the case may be, and in Washington D.C. rental housing for publicly uptight, moralistic Republicans (but privately a bunch of horndogs; one wonders what the real reason was for Gingrich/Delay to begin the practice of leaving the wives and kids behind in Bedford Falls) that double as combination frat houses/bordellos.

At least, and I don't minimize the damage done, Catholic priests and other clergy aren't engendering new voters with their hands busy working overtime like a lizard on a windowpane, and I don't mean making the Sign of the Cross.

I'd say we're outgunned at the voting booth, we sinful types.

Over at Redrum, scene of diarists being arrested for planning mass murder but being ignored by the Editors because they are too busy condemning DFHs for committing a little property damage (yes, stop it, you few anarchists) and calling it street theater, we have the further spectacle the last two days of Leon Wolf, anti-abortion crusader and that's his right, raising a ruckus that Herman Cain might be unjustly accused of sexual harassment and intimidation, or, at the very least, unwanted flirtation.

Well, Leon, tell me, short of rape, what do you think is the first step on the road to abortion, if not sexual flirtation?

Hi, honey, I'm officially a staunch pro-life conservative, but how would you like to head upstairs to my room and teach my boys to swim upstream?

I mean, besides alcohol or God forbid, love, not to mention all of the other abortion starter kits.

I can't remember ever meeting anyone who admitted to being a staunch anti abortion crusader. Has anyone here?
Yes.

Excellent post, Doctor. Alas that logic and science and facts, as in so many cases, make little or no dent for many.

I also agree with someotherdude's comments, and think wj's more or less correct, though that's not the entire explanation. (I'm not going try to analyze/explicate what I think are all the motivations and thinking are: but some of it is simply tribal.)

Sounds like it's time to start mailing those used pads/tampons to some state legislators. After all, there may be evidence of a murder there ...

So zygotes can have a much shorter lifespan than normal humans, divide into identical copies, and merge together into a single functional individual. So they shouldn't be considered legally human. That logic seems fine for zygotes, but I wonder how it's going to work for human-level artificial intelligences.

What motivates anti-abortion crusaders? I think it's pride. They like to think of themselves as morally superior to others.

I'm more curious about what motivates voters to keep voting for them. Muddleheadedness? Greed and selfisness(many of the anti-abortion zealots are also anti-taxes for rich people zealots)? Pride?

Politians who vote for legislation like that ought to suffer at the polls but in Mississippi I suspect the won't.

They like to think of themselves as morally superior to others.
Most people do. Regardless of political stance.

And many anti-abortion crusaders clearly have sincere views about when life begins.

Generalizations about What All Xs think always fail, since all you need is a single exception to disprove them.

Let alone tens or hundreds of thousands of people. Laura, the word "some" is Your Friend.

Many voters vote because of, weirdly, their beliefs. This isn't difficult to understand.

"Many voters vote because of, weirdly, their beliefs. This isn't difficult to understand."

Yes, it is difficult to understand. This country and its fundemental law is supposed to be about freedom. You believe what you want and act according to those beliefs and I will believe what I want to and accordingly. Neither of us get to alter the law of the land such that one is forced to act according to the other's beliefs; especially when belief really means just that.

That is basic and core.

What we get to vote on is who and what represents our collective interests the best. I think the founders imagined collective interests to be, largely, economic in nature, but also to include issues pertaining to the continuation of the Bill of Rights for all members of society.

If you don't get that, then you really don't deserve the right to particpate in our social system. You are, instead, an anti-American subversive and are more a threat to our way of life than any al qaeda terrorist ever dreamed of being.

DR s' post is just another example of the irrationality of the so called pro life stance. Obviously they are believers; not thinkers. This is well known.

The real issue is why they can impose their beleifs on others in this country.

I may come back to this tomorrow -- or not -- but since I've actually known quite a few anti-abortion activists of different ilks, over many years, I'm here to say that they are not all alike.

No more than all Democrats are alike, or all Republicans, or all flat taxers, or all Tea Partiers or OWSers, or any other conglomeration of people with varying degrees of enthusiasm for varying degrees of severity of responses to various issues.

This country and its fundemental law is supposed to be about freedom.
That's one part of it.

But only one.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[note 1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

So, in order, our country, if we're to be guided by the Constitution, seeks a more perfect union, seeks justice, seeks to insure domestic tranquility (i.e., peace at home), promote the general Welfare, and THEN we get to Liberty.

Regardless of what one makes of the ordering, it's clear that liberty was hardly the only value the U.S. was founded on.

Neither of us get to alter the law of the land such that one is forced to act according to the other's beliefs; especially when belief really means just that.
I'm not clear what your theory of this is. I'm not sure if you're generalizing about all beliefs and actions, or specifically only about religious beliefs, or specific categories of action.

We do get to alter laws in our legislatures. How individuals vote is up to them. That's a principle that eventually evolved, and it would be wonderous to see "one person, one vote" become the basis of our government again, rather than "one hundred thousand dollars, one vote."

Otherwise I leave this for the evening with my frequent refrain that over-generalizing tends to lead to dopey arguments.

On abortion, I'm tempted to say we should rule that life doesn't begin until you're old enough to pass an IQ test, but SOMEONE WOULD TAKE ME SERIOUSLY, and I have to bothersomely tediously explain that I Was Just Kidding and the idea, taken seriously, would appall me and I'd utterly fight it.

Meanwhile, people impose their beliefs on others in this country all the time, in all sorts of ways, for good and evil.

If only they'd let me impose my beliefs, of course, we'd have hardly any of these problems. Just follow my rulings!

Gary, the context of my comment was a specific law which defines fertilized eggs as people and speculation about the motives of people who would support such a law. Sure politicians supported that law because of their belief that a fetilized egg should be considered human. But why would anyone believe anything that stupid? It requires an enormous amount of thought-avoidance to support such an idea. That was the discussion at the point where I joined the conversation.

And I do wonder why people vote for politicians who are thought-avoidant on a issue they claim to take serioulsy. The fact that the voter might share the stupid belief doesn't really answer the question.

And it is a stupid belief. To define a fertilized egg as human one must avoid learning the science ivolved in conception, avoid thiking throughthe consequences of such a law to the female part of the population, avoid thinking about the colateral damage such as the woman who will not be able to use the birth control pills she needs, and avoid thinkig about the moral implicdations of respecting a fertilized egg in a state with a high infant moratlity rate

I do not think that all people who indulge themsleves in the conceit of calling themselves "pro-life" think alike except to the extent that they use a prideful label for themsleves. Supporters of this law are a subset of the "pro-lifers" and my comments were about that subset.

"So, in order, our country, if we're to be guided by the Constitution, seeks a more perfect union, seeks justice, seeks to insure domestic tranquility (i.e., peace at home), promote the general Welfare, and THEN we get to Liberty."

Sure. And none of that speaks to abortion or, more broadly, imposing religious beliefs on others; especially via federal law. In fact, quite the opposite is included in the document. At any rate the Supreme Court agrees with me as we all well know.

I think Dr S was not making a point concerning legality. Rather about rational thinking versus irrational stupidity from an interesting scientific standpoint. Specifically that nature itself constantly kills off a heck of a lot of what would fall under an activist's definition of young human beings. If there is a god, then it seem that he/she/it performs abortions on a regular basis as a built in design process.

I suppose the activist answer would be that it is god's perogative to kill nascent humans. But that sort of leads to the conclusion that god is up there in sky HQ watching every single copulation and fertilization and assessing which should go on to become a living breathing human and which should not; which seems like a hell of a lot of extra work for god given all of the other aspects of the universe there are to manage. In fact, it's just plain imbecilic to the point of being nuts to think that.

"...but since I've actually known quite a few anti-abortion activists of different ilks, over many years, I'm here to say that they are not all alike."

Of course they are not. Some are short and some tall. Some like pina coladas and taking walks in the rain and others do not. They do, however, have something in common that makes them all alike in a very salient way. They strongly hold a rather irrational and arbitrary belief and they desire to force that belief on others in violation of the Constitution.

I am merely curious as to how these people came to hold these beliefs and how they can continue to do so. Someone up thread suggested it is really more a moralistic attempt to control sex by increasing the potential penalty involved. This sounds reasonable and probably does account for some of the political phenomenon.

I'm here to say that they are not all alike.

That's crazy talk, Gary. How are we supposed to dismiss people we disagree with if we have to address their individual and widely varying points of view?

Easier to just throw them all in the trash compactor so we can dispose of one handy cube of people.

Speaking for myself, I prefer to use the blender. Or the melting pot.

avedis wrote:

"god is up there in sky HQ watching every single copulation and fertilization"

Jeez, I hope He has a fast-forward button on the cosmic clicker. How dreary for Him.

and

"Some like pina coladas ....."

I suspect, if I may overgeneralize, that God takes a special voyeuristic interest in these types of set ups. He probably reads the one sentence description of the show in his cosmic TV Guide ---- "anti-abortion absolutist goes to New Year's Eve party, has too many pina coladas, and does more than look across a crowded room." ----- and immediately switches the channel away from the incredibly boring and dispiriting 24-hour War and Genocide Network, thinking to himself, "now we'll see who is auditioning for the over-generalization reality show"

Gary, you are correct that over- generalization tends to lead to dopey arguments. In other words, yes, it is true that, upon consideration, the Romans DID give us the aqueducts.

But, all I think Laura (and avedis) is doing is arguing that the Mississippi Romans have over-generalized in their law-making and, further, why is it that they are all wearing identical uniforms and expect everyone else to wear them as well?

She's merely pointing at dopes and calling them dopey. Probably she should include the phrase "present company excluded".

But the loudest of the dopes point back at her and call her a baby-killer and murderer.

She hasn't gone there, that I can tell. Besides, that sort of trash talk is my bailiwick.

This: "No more than Democrats are alike, or Republicans ...

Well, these things waggle back and forth throughout history, sure, but I think I can over-generalize and conclude that Republicans in recent decades, present company excluded, are better at enforcing alikeness among themselves and overgeneralizing about the rest of us, otherwise known as the Other.

It hasn't escaped my attention, either, that a good chunky bolus of the Republican Party considers the "present company excluded" as RINOs.

I mean, THEY get their very own acronym.

Welcome to over-generalization.

In closing, I'm sure Laura could engage Sebastian, who holds a sensitive pro-life position to my mind, in a substantive discussion about the abortion issue.

Though I realize Sebastian probably has been subject to over-generalization around here in the past and has become shy.

As much as I'd like to buy the twin problem as a refutation of the idea that fertilization begins personhood, I can't.

If you believe that a fertilized egg, because it has the potential to become a fully formed human, constitutes human life, it really doesn't matter whether that fertilized egg later becomes two humans or whether two fertilized eggs later become one. Maybe the fertilized egg has two souls. Maybe only one soul of two eggs that combine goes on to inhabit the resultant fully formed human.

Using a scientific formulation to refute one of faith is as useless as using faith to refute science. You may be able to argue with some people in this way and get them to resort to tortured pretzel logic, thereby winning a single rhetorical battle. But that would be a matter of demonstrating that your opponent isn't very clear on what he or she thinks, rather than a matter of demonstrating a flawed concept.

Argue against yourself while taking both sides, using your best logic, and see where it gets you. It gets me nowhere.

I simply disagree with people who believe with great certainty things they cannot prove, or even present any concrete evidence for, and expect me to act according to those beliefs.

I would tend to argue that, whether you believe that human life begins at ferilization or not, there are practical limits to what the law can do and that a failure to accept those limitations results in worse problems than dealing with those limitations realistically. It's an imperfect world, and leaving decisions on pregnancy to the one who is pregnant (and supposedly has a soul, too) is the least bad way to deal with abortion, abortion being something I assume very few people if any celebrate.

It's funny to me that people, usually of the conservative persuasion, being so practically minded, will decry anti-bullying and hate crimes as mamby-pamby measures of political correctness that can't possibly do anything about people's actions, and that will result in all sorts of bad outcomes and injustice. But those same people will advocate harsh and intrusive legal restrictions on abortion, because that will work out so swimmingly, based on their faith in an idea that can't even be demonstrated by biblical literalism.

Ok. Maybe I am guilty of some over generalization, but hey, three comments submitted and I haven't said anything that could be construed as mysoginistic - not even by Phil :-)

Since the language of the Constitution has been invoked, the central conundrum faced by the Framers, who were all white males (jeez, sorry) was to what extent could they agree on specific, rather than general terms in the document to describe the republic they were trying to create.

Turns out they couldn't agree on too many specifics, so they settled for language like "promote the general welfare".

Thus, to this day, we over-generalize about the folks on either side of the argument regarding the specific meaning of the term "general welfare".

Also, armies appoint Generals to over-generalize (I'm a five-star Overgeneral) about the Enemy and train their troops to become an over-generalized unit, free of individuality, the better to fight the overgeneralized Enemy.

With exceptions, of course. If I raise my hand just before battle and try to explain to the OverGeneral that maybe, just maybe, his order to send my unit, including me, to take that hill is an over-generalization in many ways, not the least of which is because, you know, I don't want to, he's going to put his face up against mine, call me a maggot or something (O.K., that's an over-generalization, but I'll let it go, under the circumstances) and say specifically to me:

"Son, may I address you as Private Countme-In ("me" being my mother's maiden name). I am acutely aware that you, despite your scurvy, pathetic performance to date, are a single individual instance of God's miraculous creation, but if you don't hump your butt up that Hill with the rest of these over-generalized cannon fodder whose mothers love them just as much as your mother loves you, I'm going to put your very special individual a*s up against that wall and shoot you myself. Do you have any further opinions you would like to express?"

"Well, Sir", I might stammer as my sphincters clamp shut like the bulkheads on a submarine, "I'd just like to point out that now you are being way to specific. I liked it better when you were over-generalizing. You should see someone about these sharp mood swings."

Anyway, I think Laura is over-generalizing about a group of people, present company excluded, who are likely to over-generalize themselves as the Armies of God, or some such, and is merely following their lead.

That one of the OverGenerals in this Army is named Dick Armey might cause some stifled laughing among the ranks, if the ranks had any sense of humor, which they don't.

... being way "too" specific".

They strongly hold a rather irrational and arbitrary belief and they desire to force that belief on others in violation of the Constitution.
There are lots of "pro-life" "anti-abortion" people who don't want the law involved. They want to persuade people to their POV.

Which is a POV I completely disagree with.

But it's not the case that everyone who identifies with those labels also want their views put into law.

I feel rather odd that I'm in an argument where I might be perceived as defending the POV of anti-abortion people, because I entirely disagree with them. But I'm not supporting those views. I'm attacking, as I tend to, generalizations that are absolutes.

In no way am I disagreeing with anything Doctor Science wrote.

Laura:

[...] I do not think that all people who indulge themsleves in the conceit of calling themselves "pro-life" think alike except to the extent that they use a prideful label for themsleves. Supporters of this law are a subset of the "pro-lifers" and my comments were about that subset.
Thank you for clarifying that.

Dr S, "On the other hand, a nontrivial number of people are walking around looking like a single person, but who turn out to be the results of fusion between twins in utero. That is, they started as two non-identical zygote-Americans, and neither zygote died -- but there is only one what you'd actually want to call person by the time they're born."

This presents possible interesting legal ramifications.

As we know, the "pro-life" crowd often becomes decidely pro-death when adult humans convicted of crimes are the subject.

And this got me thinking....what if a convict on death row was one of these people who contained a fused zygote? Wouldn't the execution be of two (by "pro life" definition) humans and not one? Wouldn't the inocent fused zygote entity be sufffering something akin to murder? Would it not need someone to look out for its rights? Could the convict use this biological fact to obtain a stay of execution?

Ok. Maybe I am guilty of some over generalization, but hey, three comments submitted and I haven't said anything that could be construed as mysoginistic - not even by Phil :-)

How's about if I'm not commenting on the thread you leave me out of it?

"Specifically that nature itself constantly kills off a heck of a lot of what would fall under an activist's definition of young human beings."

Kills off a heck of a lot of what would fall under pretty much anybody's definition of a human being, period. 100% of them, sooner or later, last I checked.

I shall not weigh in on this until the italics are gone.

Something against Italians, bobbyp?

May we please not generalize about Italians?

Anyway, while I consider personhood for single cells rather absurd, spontaneous miscarriage is a silly argument against it. "Mother nature" has no compunctions about killing people.

Or is the argument here, "If Cholera can do it, why can't we?"

And, besides, let's not pretend there isn't similar idiocy coming from the other direction, with viable infants being referred to as "masses of tissue". Activists in neither camp are particularly comfortable with the non-binary nature of human development.

Activists in neither camp are particularly comfortable with the non-binary nature of human development.

Then perhaps you could lead us all through the weeds of appropriate social policy with respect to this issue Generalist Bellmore, eh what?

"non-binary nature of human development"....why, if I didn't know better, I'd say that was some pretty shallow New Age twaddle there.

"And, besides, let's not pretend there isn't similar idiocy coming from the other direction, with viable infants being referred to as "masses of tissue"."

I will take one (1) example of this, please. One single human being referring to an undeniably viable infant as a mass of tissue. One.

I will bet you $100 you cannot produce a single such quote within 14 days of today. Put up or shut up, just for once.

(That said, absent evidence of something that I am absolutely sure you don't have, you and I are, in fact, both masses of tissue. Unless you've got a nebula in your pocket or something.)

"If Cholera can do it, why can't we?"

That is catchy.

Bumber stickers? Tee-shirts? Foriegn policy sound bite for candidates this year?

Yes we, can.

"How's about if I'm not commenting on the thread you leave me out of it?"

Now that you have made your official appearance, aren't you proud of me? being my sensitivity mentor and all I could use a little positive reinforcement.

'"Specifically that nature itself constantly kills off a heck of a lot of what would fall under an activist's definition of young human beings."'

"Kills off a heck of a lot of what would fall under pretty much anybody's definition of a human being, period. 100% of them, sooner or later, last I checked."

Yes, it is the fast lane to nihilism via existential, but so what? It's still a valid point.

Brett, are you anti-abortion? If I recall, you are also against socialized medicine because, for one reason, you want to keep the government out of the patient/physician relationship? Now you want to put the gov't sqwuarely in the middle of that relationship? Just saying.....maybe I am confusing you with someone else. maybe I am over generalizing your free market views concerning healthcare. Apologies in advance if I am on either count.

Or is the argument here, "If Cholera can do it, why can't we?"
No, the argument here is against laws proclaiming that a fertilized egg is a human being.

If you could explain, Brett, how Mississippi's law enforcement agencies will decide who to prosecute and who not to, and how their courts will rule, on this Amendment to their State Constitution, if it passes, I'm sure we'd all find it educational.

I haven't read any explanations by the proponents elaborating on this, but I haven't gone looking, either.

Your analogy would work well if, say, Mississippi were voting on an amendment that said something like "The term 'person' or 'persons' shall include every bacteria," or "it shall be considered murder to breathe near another person and transmit any infection that causes their death," or something similarly carrying with it, oh, THE FRICKING DEATH PENALTY.

If you'd like, instead, to find a law or State Constitution that declares that some act of "Mother Nature" is grounds for prosecuting individuals for murder for, perhaps you could construct a workable analogy.

And, besides, let's not pretend there isn't similar idiocy coming from the other direction, with viable infants being referred to as "masses of tissue".
Please do let us know which states have been proposing laws or referenda or constitutional amendments declaring that "viable infants" are "masses of tissue."

Or is this your translation of Roe v. Wade? Or Webster v. Reproductive Health Services?

Where, as you know, the Supreme Court held that it was constitutional for States to pass laws making it illegal to have an abortion if a fetus is "viable," so long as there is a provision allowing for abortion if there's a threat to the life of the mother?

So: what are you talking about?

We're talking about a State Constitution, not "activists." Or, at least, that's what the post is about.

avedis:

Now that you have made your official appearance, aren't you proud of me? being my sensitivity mentor and all I could use a little positive reinforcement.
We have a rule about "Do not consistently abuse or vilify other posters for its own sake."

Let's everyone please follow it. Everyone.

We're not into rules-lawyering about it. Don't drag in non-complimentary personal comments about other commenters, period, let alone when they haven't said anything.

I know it's tempting. I know how easy it is to get sick and tired of someone's rhetorical habits and tropes.

Nonetheless, them's the rules here. However inconsistently or barely enforced.

And yes, Phil, you need to remember this as well.

avedis, you don't address/discuss me, and I don't address/discuss you. Is that crystal clear? I am not your pal, and have no wish to interact with you, regardless of how many emoticons you use in your posts.

"If I recall, you are also against socialized medicine because, for one reason, you want to keep the government out of the patient/physician relationship?"

Depends on the nature of the "relationship", I suppose. "Relationship" is such a vague term, covers treating me for illness with my informed consent, AND dismembering me without anesthesia.

At any rate, I thought I was clear: I wasn't defending regulation of abortion at the single cell stage. I was just criticizing a specific argument against it. Is it too much to ask that even reasonably positions be argued reasonably?

My actual views on abortion, like the topic, are involved. Suffice to say that I think that, at all points, it should be regulated to the extent any normal medical procedure is. (Which is rather less than most normal medical procedures get regulated.) And that, as the fetus proceeds towards human levels of complexity, it should receive proportionately increasing levels of protection, culminating in somewhat more protection than it gets in practice, once viability is attained.

You may now ignore all that complexity, and resume attacking me for my supposed opposition to first term abortions...

And that, as the fetus proceeds towards human levels of complexity, it should receive proportionately increasing levels of protection, culminating in somewhat more protection than it gets in practice, once viability is attained.

Sounds reasonable enough, as a sketch of a decent policy.

At some point, a developing fetus surely acquires some rights. The question is at what point does its right to life trump the mother's right to not continue with the pregnancy.

I'm inclined to favor the woman completely until ~24 weeks (yeah, that's squishy as hell, I know). After that, you're into medical necessity land (life of the mother still trumps).

I'm still uncomfortable, however, making that the law.

Look, generalizing about Italians is one thing, but let's not permit this thread to deteriorate into piling on CHOLERA. Next thing we know we'll be tarring dysentery with the same brush and I won't have it, and neither will my piles.

It's not as if cholera and dysentery haven't already received enough harassment and vilification from those elitist scientists and their intrusive bureaucrat buddies in government who have accumulated some pretty pensions, let me tell you, sneaking busybody chlorine into our vital bodily fluids.

And don't get me started on water treatment filtering regulations imposed from on high. I'll nip that sort of intrusion in the bud or my name isn't President James Polk.

Pork, I say, pork. Not that I'm against trichinosis.

I'll have you know that dysentery is a very popular weight-loss fad adopted by free individuals in the third world to this day, which you WOULD know if you've ever consumed street food in Somalia and then stayed in luxury accommodations with fully actuated bathrooms during a week-long power outage accompanied by gunfire throughout the night.

But seriously, question for Brett. How do you feel about dismemberment WITH anesthesia?

No, that's not the question.

I largely agree with your actual views on regulating abortion expressed in your 7:05 am comment. The question is: you state your views in passive voice. What "agency" should accomplish the regulation of abortion and other medical procedures? Dare we speak its name?

Regarding Mississippi, one is led to wonder, given that state's trophy position in infant mortality and its presumably low level of spending on public health, whether the cholera bacterium might rate just as highly in legislators' moral universe as the one-celled citizen, should there ever be a face off again between the two.

Also this, Brett: "Is it too much to ask that even reasonably positions be argued reasonably?"

No, but whither heuristics?

In closing, perhaps I'm been too easy on the Italians, who, after all, can generalize with the best of them. From Wikipedia:

"In this time period (1910-11, the last cholera epidemic in the U.S.) cholera greatly started to be associated with outsiders and this could be seen time and time again. The Italians blamed the Jews and gypsies, the British who were in India accused the “dirty natives”, and the Americans saw the problem coming from the Philippines."

Excuse my diarrhea by word of mouth.

By the way, if anyone finds themselves in a wager wherein you must run out and find a single instance of someone saying or writing something -- anything -- I'm your man.

I've said EVERYTHING at least once in my life, not that my life is a mass of tissue of lies.

I just like to see what happens.

I am merely curious as to how these people came to hold these beliefs and how they can continue to do so. Someone up thread suggested it is really more a moralistic attempt to control sex by increasing the potential penalty involved. This sounds reasonable and probably does account for some of the political phenomenon.

Ok, I'll try to answer this: because, absent a naturally occurring miscarriage, the process of fertilization produces only one thing, a human being.

But for Roe v Wade, there would be no need to try to define, legally, when life begins. Roe changed all of that.

There are those of us who believe that abortion as a matter of convenience, birth control, picking a child of the right sex, etc. is wrong, and that if two people conceive a child, that child should be allowed to be born.

Abortion may be a right, but it's a right that derives from a 7-2 decision of judges, not the considered vote of the people of a given state or the country has a whole. Most here are fine with that. Of course, had a hypothetical court gone the other way, taking away from the states the right to decide for themselves, I suspect the feeling here would be different.

As Slarti noted, the easy thing to do is generalize and marginalize opposing views. I would say this is not in keeping with the supposedly thoughtful and analytical process ObWi of which has historically prided itself.

Also this, Brett: "Is it too much to ask that even reasonably positions be argued reasonably?"

No, but whither heuristics?

Indeed. We should all take a good, hard look at the heuristics of the so-called pro-life movement. After all, if they take their own arguments seriously, then they should be behaving in certain ways, right?

And that, as the fetus proceeds towards human levels of complexity, it should receive proportionately increasing levels of protection, culminating in somewhat more protection than it gets in practice, once viability is attained.

And the problem here is that the goal posts move as medical science advances. Leave a fetus alone and see what happens. That way, we don't make life, or the chance at life, contingent on the state of medical science, assuming you can find a consensus in this tendentious area.

Brett,

Yes. Nature kills indiscriminately. Who coulda' known? Alas, we are discussing a matter of LAW, and laws are messy. The point that many "lives" are taken as a matter of biology is therefore quite valid against an arbitrary holding that life (and the legal concept of 'personhood' that is silently slipped in right at that point) "begins at conception"(conception being, surprise, a biological concept). We do not pass laws against tornadoes, for example. I hear they kill sometimes.

But the whole discussion of "the beginning of life" (I always thought it was about a billion or so years ago) elides the central point. The crux of the matter is this: Who gets to decide? You? Rob in CT? Me?

I say let the woman decide. To say otherwise is to deny moral agency to 1/2 of humanity.

The point that many "lives" are taken as a matter of biology is therefore quite valid against an arbitrary holding that life (and the legal concept of 'personhood' that is silently slipped in right at that point) "begins at conception"(conception being, surprise, a biological concept). We do not pass laws against tornadoes, for example. I hear they kill sometimes.

I don't see the point you're trying to make, here. As far as I'm aware, no one is making an attempt at making natural death illegal.

That could be just me not paying attention, again.

To say otherwise is to deny moral agency to 1/2 of humanity.

Which, by definition, denies moral agency to the other half. And when you couch it in terms of "moral" agency, you concede a moral component: the mother decides whether the fetus-to-be-child lives or dies. Under what other set of circumstances, do we let one person, unfettered by any limitations whatsoever, decide if another lives or dies?

If the pro-life side of the equation is mystified as to why others think differently, permit me to suggest that some of those others find the notion that a child in vitrio is less of a human being than a child brought into this world to be equally unusual.

To address another point made above, the idea that a sizable percentage of pro-lifers really just want to control sex is laughable. It's a subset of the kind of dismissive, unthoughtful logic that causes both sides to talk past each other on a whole range of topics. The counter point, equally mindless in my view, is that the pro-abortion quarter embraces a culture of death. Both points are devoid of intellectual heft.

Abortion may be a right, but it's a right that derives from a 7-2 decision of judges, not the considered vote of the people of a given state or the country has a whole.

It's a right that derives from a) being alive and b) possessing a functioning uterus. Or don't conservatives believe in unenumerated, God-given rights any more? Do I get to vote on what rights you have? I don't think you're going to like the results.

Under what other set of circumstances, do we let one person, unfettered by any limitations whatsoever, decide if another lives or dies?

Unfettered by any limitations? Are you serious? Between 24 to 72 hour waiting periods, state-mandated ultrasounds (which, btw, up to a certain point in the pregnancy are done by *inserting the ultrasound monitor into the vagina*), state-mandated lecture from doctor on whether or not the fetus has a heartbeat and fingers and whatnot, state-mandated lecture from the doctor on alternatives to abortion, and on and on and on, you have to be either incredibly mendacious or incredibly uninformed to say that.

But hey, your courageous stance which -- for example --forces women to give birth to malformed children that will absolutely die within 24 hours, consigning those women and their families to otherwise avoidable or attenuatable grief, is simply heroic.

But for Roe v Wade, there would be no need to try to define, legally, when life begins. Roe changed all of that.

McT, I'm not entirely clear on how Roe changed the need. IIRC, pre-Roe there were different laws on abortion, depending on which state you were in. (And abortion was, overall, being legalized in more and more places. At the rate things were changing, another 10-15 years on the places where abortion was illegal would have resembled the number of places where it is still illegal to sell alcohol.) So there were, effectively, lots of different definitions of where life begins.

All Roe did, as far as I can see, was force a single rule nationwide. (Well that and galvanize a backlash, which could have been minimized by simply letting states continue to set their own policies.)

I mean, your OWN STATE requires:

- That women visit the facility performing the abortion at least twice, once 24 hours prior for a state-mandated ultrasound and again when the abortion is performed. (BTW, 92% of counties in Texas, in which 33% of the state's female population reside, have no abortion providers, so two visits in 2-3 days is an awfully big inconvenience for a lot of women.)

- That doctors, during the first visit, inform the woman about the developmental stage of the fetus, and provide them with information about adoption. Neither of these pieces of information serves any medical purpose. (Like they're going to change their minds when they hear it's at five weeks instead of three.)

"Unfettered by any limitations" my rear end.

the idea that a sizable percentage of pro-lifers really just want to control sex is laughable.

OK, I'm willing to be educated.

So if life begins at conception, then a miscarriage is a death. And therefore one would expect a funeral for every miscarriage (at least among those where funerals are held when a member of the congregation dies). How could there not be?

But are there actually any significant number of funerals after miscarriages, especially in the first trimester? If not (and I believe that to be the case, but by all means correct me if your experience indicates otherwise), why not?

It's a right that derives from a) being alive and b) possessing a functioning uterus.

By this, anyone has virtually any right they wish to claim.

Between 24 to 72 hour waiting periods, state-mandated ultrasounds (which, btw, up to a certain point in the pregnancy are done by *inserting the ultrasound monitor into the vagina*), state-mandated lecture from doctor on whether or not the fetus has a heartbeat and fingers and whatnot, state-mandated lecture from the doctor on alternatives to abortion, and on and on and on, you have to be either incredibly mendacious or incredibly uninformed to say that.


Ok, marginally unfettered. Are you sure an ultra sound is inserted in the vagina? And how is this any less intrusive than the abortion process itself?

But hey, your courageous stance which -- for example --forces women to give birth to malformed children that will absolutely die within 24 hours, consigning those women and their families to otherwise avoidable or attenuatable grief, is simply heroic.

Life is not perfect and it is occasionally tragic. Your logic, such as it is, would have millions of healthy fetuses terminated so as to avoid the birth of a relatively rare malformed child (your words, not mine).

I am well aware that there are circumstances that call for termination of a pregnancy. Those circumstances are rare.

So, McK, what do you propose be done with all the extra fertilized embryos created during the in vitro fertilization process? They're people with rights, right? What gets done with them?

McT, I'm not entirely clear on how Roe changed the need.

Roe federalized abortion and made it a matter of constitutional law, taking away the right of the various states to make that determination. Apparently, not willing to accede to this ruling, some states are using counter-tactics to test Roe's holding. But for Roe, states simply made the call.

So there were, effectively, lots of different definitions of where life begins.

Yes, decided locally by elected officials and subject to change if the elected officials went beyond what the citizens were willing to tolerate.

At the rate things were changing, another 10-15 years on the places where abortion was illegal would have resembled the number of places where it is still illegal to sell alcohol.

Perhaps, but it was by the democratic process, not judicial fiat.

Are you sure an ultra sound is inserted in the vagina?

Yes.

And how is this any less intrusive than the abortion process itself?

Red herring. There are lots of things that are "less intrusive" than an abortion. What business does the state have mandating that any of them be performed pursuant to terminating a pregnancy?

Life is not perfect and it is occasionally tragic.

And no decision is too hard to make for the person that doesn't have to make it or live with its consequences.

Are we done with aphorisms yet?

Ok, marginally unfettered.

Ha! I can predict with absolute, 100% confidence that, if the State of Texas passed a law requiring that men had to make two 100-mile round trips in three days and listen to a lecture before getting a hernia repaired or a wart removed or a prostate exam or whatever else, you would go completely berserk about big government intrusion in your life. Tell me I'm wrong.

By this, anyone has virtually any right they wish to claim.

So I *do* get to vote on your rights? Cool! This is going to be amazing.

I am well aware that there are circumstances that call for termination of a pregnancy.

But isn't it up to the woman who's pregnant, and her doctor, to determine whether those circumstances exist? How does the state go about examining the circumstances of a given pregnancy without violating the pregnant woman's rights? How does the state go about determining for the woman what circumstances necessitate an abortion, before examining a given woman's circumstances?

This idea that somehow Roe took something from the states and gave it to the federal government rather than taking it from the states and granting it to the individual is a curious one. What could be more "local" than people deciding for themselves whether or not to have an abortion?

McTx: Are you sure an ultra sound is inserted in the vagina?

Uh, yes, my wife had this done for each of her pregnancies. It depends on how far along the fetus is, but if the purpose of the TX law is to "show" the woman what's going on, if it's to be effective at certain stage then up the hoo-ha it is. Pleasant, no?

And how is this any less intrusive than the abortion process itself?

You can't be serious in asking this question, can you? Consent? Hello?

Jesus.

To expand upon my discomfort with restricting abortion via the law:

I have a friend who was having twins. Fairly late in the pregnancy (I want to say around 24-26 weeks), she found out that one of the twins had a chromosonal defect. To be brief: everything that could be wrong with that fetus was wrong and death shortly after birth was guaranteed. The other was healthy. And that's the way it went.

Imagining a scenario where she was only pregnant with one fetus, and that fetus had the defect... do I really want our law to force her to carry to term. No, no I don't.

And that's where I go all squishy. I can make moral judgments about this or that scenario. But when it comes to supporting laws on the matter, I get really tentative.

I find the anti-Roe but not necessarily anti-abortion argument to be an odd one.

The argument on Roe is that it should be decided on a state-by-state basis, yeah?

If, however, abortion is murder... why is it ok then if Connecticut (for example) allows it?

If abortion is not murder, what's the problem?

As far as I'm aware, no one is making an attempt at making natural death illegal.

Well, yes, they are. Here's just one example: Woman gets pregnant. Woman continues to drink alchohol during pregnancy. Miscarrage takes place during week 6. Was this death "natural"? If somehow "unnatural" can criminal penalties (ST due procedure) be enforced? Inquiring minds want to know.

Which, by definition, denies moral agency to the other half.

No. WRT this issue, it reduces them to the status akin to those poor souls who are found to be "incompetent" to stand trial because they do not know the difference between right and wrong.

More generally, even granting that a fetus is a human being entitled to a full panoply of rights, the question then becomes what range of actions can a state engage in to protect one citizen from another?

Somehow, I don't think requiring someone to carry a child to term and undergo delivery would pass constitutional muster as a punishment for any crime, much less whatever crime a pregnant woman who wishes to end the pregnancy has committed ("attempted abortion"?).

Further, if we want to talk current SCOTUS jurisprudence on abortion, the "undue burden" imposed on a woman when it comes to abortion restrictions is the continuation of an unwanted pregnancy. End of story. That SCOTUS doesn't get this is a tribute to their narrow worldview/jurisprudence and/or to the relative ineffectiveness of pro-choice advocates.

That's the burden, alright. The question of whether it's an undue burden is exactly where we differ.

"if it's to be effective at certain stage then up the hoo-ha it is. Pleasant, no?"

Probably marginally more pleasant than a prostate biopsy, I'm guessing...

Well, yes, they are. Woman gets pregnant. Woman continues to drink alchohol during pregnancy. Miscarrage takes place during week 6. Was this death "natural"?

That was an answer? It read like another question. Ditto your follow-on.

If your point is that this amendment, if passed, practically guarantees undesirable consequences, you'll get no argument from me. But that didn't seem to be your point, in the comment that I responded to.

Brett, the prostate biopsy is necessary to determine if you have cancer. The ultrasound serves no medical purpose except to intimidate and coerce the woman into not terminating her pregnancy on the basis of religious and moral background which she may not share.

"Pork, I say, pork. Not that I'm against trichinosis."

I object to this stereotyping - or generalizing - of pigs as carriers of trichinosis.

The majority of pigs are disease free, well adjusted, intelligent and possessing exemplary family values. They are important contributing members of our livestock base. There is no evidence that they are prone to disease any more than say cattle or chickens.

It is humans that fail to sufficiently cook their meat that are the real source of the problem.

Brett: That's the burden, alright. The question of whether it's an undue burden is exactly where we differ.

And the burden of continued pregnancy is "due" because...?

Actually, I think I know what the answer will be.

Pigs are decent people, I'll give you that.

The argument on Roe is that it should be decided on a state-by-state basis, yeah?

If, however, abortion is murder... why is it ok then if Connecticut (for example) allows it?

If abortion is not murder, what's the problem?

Aside from the fact that the only argument against abortion on demand is not "abortion = murder", murder is defined by the various states, so my logic holds. My point about Roe vs letting states, through the democratic process, decide this issue is that the question of balancing an unborn person's rights against the host mother is one of law--a point Dr. S seems to make above.

Saying that the only acceptable law is a SCt decision that you happen to agree leaves this and many other questions up for grabs outside the democratic process.

As I tried to say earlier, Roe could have been decided much differently. I suspect the deference to SCt wisdom would be much different had that been the case.

"But that didn't seem to be your point, in the comment that I responded to."

OK. I disagree with the assertion that "spontaneous miscarriages" are not a good counterpoint to "personhood at conception" assertions. If human "life" is sancrosanct at conception, this leads down some strange roads of illogic (miscarraige inquests, manslaughter convictions for drinking while preggers, etc.) Further, if such an assertion is true, it would seem we would be obligated to invest much more in the way of social resources to save these unborn "persons" from a 67% probability of premature death. If we got it down to 25%, wouldn't that be a lot better? Isn't that what we do with respect to highway safety, meat inspections, hurricane shelters, vaccines, tsunami warning systems?...you know, other things that might cause death?

Similarly, I do not see many anti-choice advocates answering Phil's question above regarding extra zyotes as a result of in-vitreo fertilization. Should they be implanted and adopted? Should we make this somehow mandatory?

This leads to the moral agency question: I mean, if you assert abortion is murder, then take that claim to it implied legal conclusion: Women who have an (necessarily premeditated) abortion should serve life in prison without parole or be executed. If not, then the procedure is something different than murder (minor voluntary manslaughter? Like really serious shoplifting?)or women are just creatures that can't tell right from wrong and "need to be protected from themselves".

Pigs are decent people, I'll give you that.

Yeah. But they're hell on the furniture.

murder is defined by the various states

Really? Is assassinating the President a state crime or a federal one? And if it is a federal one, then it's ipso facto, not murder if committed in Washington D.C.

Just curious.

Darn. No 'comment deleted by author button'. Previous post was a real mangle. That's mangle, not Mengele.

murder is defined by the various states

Really? Is assassinating the President a state crime or a federal one? And if it is a federal one, then it's ipso facto, not murder if committed in Washington D.C.

Just curious.

Yes, really. Of the 300,000,000 Americans, only one is the president. He/she has his/her own special set of laws and they are federal. There is no federal murder statute applicable to the citizens of any particular state. The Feds do make the laws for the District of Columbia, and I am pretty sure the Feds have jurisdiction over crimes on military installations and--guessing here--Native American reservations. So, murder is defined by the states, with a few exceptions.

It's also a federal crime to kill certain enumerated federal employees, depending on circumstance. My guess is killing a federal judge in a drunken brawl in a bar is a state law crime, but killing one--or perhaps anyone--on federal property is different. McVeigh was tried and executed under Federal law. But, generally, murder is a state defined and enforced crime.

As I tried to say earlier, Roe could have been decided much differently. I suspect the deference to SCt wisdom would be much different had that been the case.

I wonder how many of us there are who believe both that
a) Roe was wrongly decided, and
b) abortion should not be illegal

I'd like to think tha there are actually a fair number, but we get drowned out by the partisans on both sides who take support/opposition to Roe as a defining characteristic of their side of the argument.

"Saying that the only acceptable law is a SCt decision that you happen to agree leaves this and many other questions up for grabs outside the democratic process."

You're an attorney, yet profess to be puzzled by the idea that there are certain fundamental rights that are outside the reach of your neighbors' interference no matter what petty laws they want to pass?

I ask you again: Which of your rights do I get to vote on? I'd actually like an answer this time. Its a real question.

So, murder is defined by the states, with a few exceptions.

I'll take that as a modified hangout retraction of a previously issued sweeping Italican Generalization.

You might also look here:
http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/federal-laws-providing-death-penalty

Pretty much covers the gamut from A to R, I'd say.

this may leads down some strange roads of illogic (miscarraige inquests, manslaughter convictions for drinking while preggers, etc.)

Fixed. You're defining, in advance, a whole bunch of legal interpretations that may or may not become attached to this amendment. IMO, which may be (probably is) less informed than yours.

Further, if such an assertion is true, it would seem we would be obligated to invest much more in the way of social resources to save these unborn "persons" from a 67% probability of premature death.

Eh? I don't know what 67% you're referring to. And I don't think there's many Christian abortion opponents that have any such commandment as (e.g.) "thou shalt not die, nor permit anyone else to die". I'm not sure that's what you're getting at, though.

I do not see many anti-choice advocates answering Phil's question above regarding extra zyotes as a result of in-vitreo fertilization.

Sure, that's a sticky question. I heard a guy from one of the groups sponsoring this amendment talking on NPR, and he had no answer for that. None. Nor do I, but I'm not an advocate for this amendment.

Eh? I don't know what 67% you're referring to.

Eh? What? You're dividing by zero or not paying attention. From Dr. Science's post:

1. The fact that normally a LARGE PROPORTION, probably a majority, of human zygotes fail to implant or are miscarried. The proportion that die due to abortion is only a fraction of the total death rate you are contemplating. (caps mine)

Somebody mentioned 67% somewhere....but even if that number is slightly exaggerated, the principal holds.

Further: If you believe that zygotes are persons, then you would, it seems, have a moral obligation to see to it that society invests an appropriate level of resources to make that gruesome 'death rate' go down. We did the same thing for death from small pox, did we not? What's stopping us?

Anything less is simple cruelty, eh? Anti-abortion types are thus aiming all their fire at the wrong problem....stopping a small percentage of the carnage as it were.

So what is it they REALLY want? (OK...guilty of being disingenuous here).

The cost curve due to zygote death spiral could be bent significantly by mandated birth control and in-vitreo fertilization for those desiring children. Death due to zygote ineptitude and statistical chance would be cut dramatically. Of course there would be some collateral damage. Sh*t happens.

And of course, there are always those sluts who insist on having unprotected sex. We could devise ways of dealing with that, too.

If we all just pitched in and made some shared sacrifices, we could make this happen.

Slart, you're a subtle, good man, if you don't mind me saying so.

And, to some questions, there is no answer, to which both of us would admit.

But this: "And I don't think there's many Christian abortion opponents that have any such commandment as (e.g.) "thou shalt not die, nor permit anyone else to die".

How come?

Look, if there was a couple, in love, but not married, or perhaps not in love, but come down from the hangover and thrown together the morning after and searching for shelter for their very own zycotes in a petrie dish searching for a tornado shelter the morning after Rep. Joe Walsh was awarded the Father of the Millennium Trophy by the Get Your Own Family I've Neglected Mine Research Council for not paying child support to his post-birth one-celled teenagers while simultaneously voting down NOAA and National Weather Service funding for early-warning systems for tornadoes and community root cellars ...

.. well, neither of us can explain that.

But that's where we are.

How come?

A couple of medical points to add to Dr. Science's excellent post.

As the Doc points out, the majority of fertilization events don't make it past early development. Many (probably most) of these blastocysts or embryos are not lost randomly; they are shed because they have lethal genetic issues. Conferring personhood on them is clearly biologically absurd. I think it is morally absurd as well. Nature uses a sort of hunt-and-peck way of producing humans. She keeps at it until She (randomly)produces a viable winner.

The abortion debate past a certain point in fetal development is reasonable; for myself, I think the moral calculus favors the rights of the woman to do what she wishes before 21 weeks or so. After that it gets complicated. The threshold of viability is now about 24 weeks gestation, although the great majority of infants born at that point will have serious health problems, many of them quite devastating.

Federal murder jurisdiction.

Federal murder statute: 18 U.S.C. § 1111 : US Code - Section 1111: Murder:

(a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice
aforethought. Every murder perpetrated by poison, lying in wait, or
any other kind of willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated
killing; or committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to
perpetrate, any arson, escape, murder, kidnapping, treason,
espionage, sabotage, aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse, child
abuse, burglary, or robbery; or perpetrated as part of a pattern or
practice of assault or torture against a child or children; or
perpetrated from a premeditated design unlawfully and maliciously
to effect the death of any human being other than him who is
killed, is murder in the first degree.
Any other murder is murder in the second degree.
(b) Within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of
the United States,
Whoever is guilty of murder in the first degree shall be punished
by death or by imprisonment for life;
Whoever is guilty of murder in the second degree, shall be
imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
(c) For purposes of this section -
(1) the term "assault" has the same meaning as given that term
in section 113;
(2) the term "child" means a person who has not attained the
age of 18 years and is -
(A) under the perpetrator's care or control; or
(B) at least six years younger than the perpetrator;
(3) the term "child abuse" means intentionally or knowingly
causing death or serious bodily injury to a child;
(4) the term "pattern or practice of assault or torture" means
assault or torture engaged in on at least two occasions;
(5) the term "serious bodily injury" has the meaning set forth
in section 1365; and
(6) the term "torture" means conduct, whether or not committed
under the color of law, that otherwise satisfies the definition
set forth in section 2340(1).
More categories of Federal murder.

The federal government has jurisdiction over a lot of murders.

Notable that, for the most part, an abortion thread consists primarily of a bunch of men discussing the exact number of weeks over which they're willing to allow women autonomy over their own bodies before they step in and force them to give birth. Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose.

this may leads down some strange roads of illogic (miscarraige inquests, manslaughter convictions for drinking while preggers, etc.)

Fixed. You're defining, in advance, a whole bunch of legal interpretations that may or may not become attached to this amendment. IMO, which may be (probably is) less informed than yours.

I think this is a clear case where applying heuristics is legitimate.
Exhibit A: prominent proponents of this type of law have clearly stated on numerous occasions that it is their intent to go exactly that way, although some have blatantly lied when confronted with their own words in public.
Exhibit B: Countries outside the US that have adopted similar laws went all the way, i.e. starting murder investigations against women suspected of having had an abortion, treating any miscarriage as a potential crime, refusing life.saving medical treatment to pregnant women etc.
Exhibit C: Members of groups belonging to A have declared (even in official written mission statements) that these laws are to be considered just one step and that, once they are established, the next one(s) would follow, starting with making any forms of contraception (including condoms) illegal. I assume Comstock laws will be further down on the agenda, although I have no literal proof of that at hand (apart from the usual demands to make porn illegal but this even has some support from nonreligious, non-right groups*).

*parts of the feminist movement consider any form of porn (even by women for women and with no male involvement) as degrading and anti-woman. The most prominent feminist in Germany rose to fame through her PorNO campaign.
That is a fringe position but its existence cannot be denied.

"As the Doc points out, the majority of fertilization events don't make it past early development. Many (probably most) of these blastocysts or embryos are not lost randomly; they are shed because they have lethal genetic issues. Conferring personhood on them is clearly biologically absurd. I think it is morally absurd as well. Nature uses a sort of hunt-and-peck way of producing humans. She keeps at it until She (randomly)produces a viable winner."

See, this is the sort of "reasoning", (Yes, those are sneer quotes.) I object to.

Nature kills people nobody would argue aren't people. Nature doesn't care if it's killing a mindless cell or a sublime composer. Miscarriage has precisely zero to do with whether an organism is a "person", it's totally irrelevant. If a plague swept this country tomorrow, and killed 90% of 20 year olds, would that imply that 20 year olds weren't really people?

Or coming at it from the other direction, suppose the SENS project was ultimately successful, and human biology were altered to so improve DNA error checking that 99% of fertilized eggs were essentially perfect, and proceeded to develop, would that imply that a single fertilized human cell really was a person?

The biological basis for denying that a single cell is a "person" is that a single cell lacks a brain. And hence lacks a personality. In principle, personhood doesn't even require biology, let alone humanity. An alien or a computer could be a person, given the right information processing.

You've got a reasonable position here, that the early embryo isn't a person. Don't defend it will nonsense arguments.

The biological basis for denying that a single cell is a "person" is that a single cell lacks a brain. And hence lacks a personality. there is no biological concept of "personhood" as commonly understood.

Heuristics, man. Heuristics. The size of Al Gore's house trumps all science.

Eh? What? You're dividing by zero or not paying attention. From Dr. Science's post:

1. The fact that normally a LARGE PROPORTION, probably a majority, of human zygotes fail to implant or are miscarried. The proportion that die due to abortion is only a fraction of the total death rate you are contemplating. (caps mine)

Somebody mentioned 67% somewhere...

That someone would be you. I was wondering if I had somehow missed something, or if you were making up a number. The latter, it turned out. I'll take "majority", though, as being the general flavor.

Mindreading is hard, sometimes.

If you believe that zygotes are persons, then you would, it seems, have a moral obligation to see to it that society invests an appropriate level of resources to make that gruesome 'death rate' go down. We did the same thing for death from small pox, did we not? What's stopping us?

The lack of a vaccine for failure to implant, I imagine. Also: I think, from a Christian point of view, that failure tends to get disposed of as being God's will*, much like natural deaths. As Brett pointed out, death gets us all in the end, and natural deaths are both commonplace and unavoidable. How come we haven't come up with a vaccine against natural death? Why can't we live forever?

Questions for which we have no answers, that I'm aware of.

Anything less is simple cruelty, eh?

No, not necessarily. Christian logic is nothing if not selectively flexible. NB: I say that as a Christian, and with some firsthand experience of said flexibility. God takes people in His good time, not theirs. He doesn't proscribe against saving people from death by sickness, but He does proscribe against murder.

*Which is not to say that I have any notion of what God's will is, just that I think I have some notion of what at least SOME Christians think, as regards natural deaths.

Slart, you're a subtle, good man, if you don't mind me saying so.

I don't mind you saying so, but I think you give me far too much credit. I'm just trying to feel my way through this stuff before I start telling people how wrong they are for disagreeing with me.

This might be the first time I've been accused of being subtle.

Brett wrote:

"The biological basis for denying that a single cell is a "person" is that a single cell lacks a brain. And hence lacks a personality. In principle, personhood doesn't even require biology, let alone humanity. An alien or a computer could be a person, given the right information processing."

I thought for a moment there you were going to show us the way out of the sticky wicket encompassing personhood, but now I can't decide which one is closer to personhood in principle: my cat or my IPad (if I had either).

Theoretically, a credenza could be a person.

Cats have brains and personalities (perhaps we require a new term: pussynality), but an IPad, I believe, has more information processing capability. (processanality?)

Is there any sense in which we can confer some ranking of personhood on either? Value, yes, but personhood, under what I understand of your principle here?

I would say, no, because neither possess the capability for language.

I'm an agnostic, I guess, regarding whether a cat's brain can play the metaphor trick on itself (though they do spend a lot of time lolling about in the sun, like poets .. or aliens) as a human's brain can, and I doubt that any degree of information processing power will match the human mind's (a better word than brain) language-making capabilities.

Simulate Keats, yes.

But Nature, the bastard (see, there I go again anthropomorphizing nature) did in the one and only Keats in a long time ago.

As far as aliens go, thus far they exist only as metaphors in the language/symbol-making minds of human beings. We either confer superhuman capabilities of mind on them, or we relegate them to a super-concentrated form of Nature (sometimes with ridiculous amounts of information processing power) to which we are incidental.

Apropos of I don't know what exactly, only the metaphor-making human mind can come up with "the brain IS an information processor", much like it came up with "the heart IS a pump".

All very useful, of course, but also a strange singularity in the universe.

Also, Walker Percy's your uncle.

Sneer away. God knows, I would.

Were I Alvey Singer, I'd pull Hilzoy by the sleeve out from behind a potted plant right now and have her clear this up once and for all.


as the fetus proceeds towards human levels of complexity, it should receive proportionately increasing levels of protection

AKA, Roe v Wade.

there is no biological concept of "personhood" as commonly understood.

The penny drops.

There is no good resolution to the question of abortion. Because nobody can identify the point at which a cell becomes something that seems like a person.

One solution is to just go long and affirm the personhood of the single cell. But that leads to lots of other unwanted complications, including all of the ones Doctor Science enumerates.

People's position(s) on abortion are wedded to what they think, or believe, about a thousand other issues, most of which fall well outside of anything that can be addressed by law or as a matter of public policy.

It's intractable.

I get McK's point about the political downside of having the SCOTUS play Solomon, but that's one of the ways in which we sort out our public business.

In particular, in cases like this, where somebody thinks their state government has overstepped its lawful boundaries and scope. In Roe, the state government *had* made law, the will of the people *had* been heard. It was just found wanting, in ways that (it was claimed) touched on Constitutionally guaranteed personal liberties.

It's tricky business to balance personal liberty and the public interest, but somebody's got to do it, so we make the courts do it. Ultimate court of appeals, it's right there in the Constitution.

Not everything gets left in the hands of the demos. We're not actually a democracy, as it turns out, we're a constitutional republic.

As best as I can make out, Roe is about as good a result as we could expect to get out of the legal system on this topic. It's not primarily a legal question, but the law is the venue in which we sort out our public differences. So, we used the tool at hand. Not the best tool for the job, but the only available one.

Zycotes, despite their ineptitude, are very tiny start-up corporations with a mail drop, an attorney, and a lobbyist.

I'm curious, will zycotes in Mississippi enable their parents to take a dependent child tax deduction?

In my remake of "The Wizard of Oz" I'm going to fire Ray Bolger and have either a zycote or a credenza play the scarecrow.

Typecasting.

"If I only had a brain" will be changed to "If I only had an attorney."

Somehow this seems germane:

A friend and I are fond of discussing baseball player nicknames and the stories behind them. Mike Hargrove (The Human Rain Delay), Ted Williams (The Kid), Don Stanhouse (Stan The Man Unusual) are some of my favorites.

Then there is the peculiar case of Paul Waner and Lloyd Waner, brothers and Hall of Famers, the two of them, I think, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates way back when.

Big Poison and Little Poison were their nicknames, conferred on them by Brooklyn Dodger fans at Ebbets (sp?) Field who talked funny.

I thought for years, what cool nicknames, why those Waner boys must have been really talented, but poisonous foils to the hopes and dreams of the Dodgers and their fans.

Nah, it toins out dat de fans, dey was callin Lloyd and Paul "Big Person" and "Little Person", but it sounded funny.

"Poison" was wrong, but very right.

I defy any cat, or IPad, or for that matter, alien (when is the last time you saw an alien movie wherein the aliens landed on Long Island and immediately started conferring nicknames on everyone?) mind to come up with that.

The Waners possessed "Poisonhood".


Put that in the hat the man mistook his wife for and smoke it.

So, any comment from McTx or Brett on whether forcing a woman to continue pregnancy through childbirth would be constitutionally permissible as punishment for a crime?

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Whatnot


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