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January 11, 2006

Comments

There are a number of problems with the idea that Bush's election implies electoral endorsement of his nominees:
(1) The electorate also voted for the Senate, so nominees stopped in the senate also represent the will of the voters.
(2) People vote for a candidate running on a set of issues. If they consider agreement with the candidates' position on some subset of those issues more important than disagreement on the remainder then they vote for the candidate despite opposing certain individual policies.
(3) The US electoral system is not representative of the people as a whole, due to the electoral college and gerrymandering. This is not directly relevant to the electoral endorsement issue, but it is relevant to the question of whether Bush's election represents the will of the people.

Bush, at most, represents the will of 51% of the voters and that's a long way from being the will of the people.

Alito's dishonesty bothers me more than his potential thread to Roe vs. Wade.

What bothers me most about Alito is his lack of open-faced conviction. Perhaps he's true to his word/vision in private, but he's apparently willing to say anything to get confirmed.

I think the best thing that Alito opponents can hope for is that he perjures himself during the hearings ... and that the Dems take back Congress this fall so they could impeach him.

If they would even if evidence of perjury were incontrovertible.

Which I doubt.

I'm most worried about his views on executive power. That promises to be a very big issue in the next three years, and quite possibly after that.

I responded that the idea that there was any significant degree of truth in advertising about this during the campaign is strongly disputed by the fact that the GOP was forced to talk in code about it

is there any part of the social Republican agenda that isn't discussed in code ?

cleek: tax cuts.

i found his inability to remember why he joined CAP to be not believable.

edward: welcome back. stay a while if you can.

Yeah Alito is pretty much a shoo-in at this point and it sucks. Edward_ however wins some kind of prize for making me think inappropriate thoughts, by dropping the line "this may be how sausages are made" inside a post on abortion politics.

cleek: tax cuts

yeah, i thought about that, but then i concluded that it was outside the "social" realm.

Edward_ however wins some kind of prize for making me think inappropriate thoughts

I get that a lot. ;-)

"is there any part of the social Republican agenda that isn't discussed in code ?"

It's not like we on the left openly discuss our plans to make guns, hunting, and meat-eating illegal...

Beautiful, Edward. I agree completely.

It's not like we on the left openly discuss our plans to make guns, hunting, and meat-eating illegal...

And it wouldn't be pretty if they ever saw our master plan to eliminate Christmas ...no siree, Bob...gotta keep a tight lid on that one.

But it seems Senator Cornyn has caught on to our plot to get "judges who will find traditional marriage, limited to one man and one woman, unconstitutional".

Yes, I realize it's possible to interpret Cornyn's statement so that it does apply to some people, but I maintain that the interpretation by the target audience is likely to be (and intended to be) that these judges will ban marriage between man and woman.

Princeton alumna, class of 78, here. I might have believed Alito if he'd said from the start "I joined CAP because I was mad about having to do my ROTC training off-campus". That might or might not be true, but it would have been possible.

To say that he "doesn't remember" about something connected to Princeton, though? No. He might have forgotten a lot from 30 years ago -- apartments, classes, girlfriends, movies, books, car accidents -- but not Princeton. Princeton alums are probably the most involved, committed, and obsessed in the US if not the world: we might hate our Alma Mater, but we don't forget things about her any more than you'd forget things about your biological mother.

Princeton alumna, class of 78, here. I might have believed Alito if he'd said from the start "I joined CAP because I was mad about having to do my ROTC training off-campus". That might or might not be true, but it would have been possible.

To say that he "doesn't remember" about something connected to Princeton, though? No. He might have forgotten a lot from 30 years ago -- apartments, classes, girlfriends, movies, books, car accidents -- but not Princeton. Princeton alums are probably the most involved, committed, and obsessed in the US if not the world: we might hate our Alma Mater, but we don't forget things about her any more than you'd forget things about your biological mother.

arrgh, sorry about the double posting. *smites slow internets*

back in HS and college, i joined a club or two that i never bothered going to a single meeting of. i never listed them on a job application, though.

Doctor Science is one of us.... one of usss.....

cleek: tax cuts.

Oh, those were discussed in code. At no point did Bush say, openly, "I want to pass a tax cut that's going to mean the richest families in the US - that includes me and mine - just keep getting richer, while the rest of you are worse off."

President Bush supports the abolition of the estate tax. This policy would cost the Treasury trillions of dollars over the coming years. It will cost the nonprofit sector billions of dollars a year, causing charities to shrink and cut back. President Bush offers no credible argument in support of this policy. If it becomes law, he will personally receive more than $787,000.

That's one hell of a bribe. $787,000 dollars. Yet we're supposed to believe that the prospect of reaping this huge sum of money has absolutely zero influence on George W. Bush's enthusiasm for this otherwise inexplicable piece of legislation.
Slacktivist


People who will not benefit by Bush's tax cuts have been induced to believe they do benefit because the tax cuts are talked about in code.

Anarch, you've got mail.

Whee! I do! In fact, I did: a collection of census forms from our very own US Census Bureau that I didn't get a chance to fill out before I zoomed home for XMas. But apparently they really really wanted to know about my efficiency and TA-ship.

So much so that they called me three times in the past three weeks (the last being today) to get that demographic info from me. I had to miss the beginning of a meeting today because of it, actually.

Now that's what I call... bleeeeargh!

The GOP believe the majority of Americans favor the GOP, yes?

The GOP believes that most Americans oppose legal abortion, right?

The GOP believes that most Americans are in favor of giving Bush as much authority as he wants, doesn't it?

So why is the GOP even talking in code at all? Why not just say what's really meant?

It can't possibly be because the GOP worries that the country is actually not behind them on these issues, could it?

Citing myself even more boringly than usual, since I'm mostly just requoting what I said on ObWings, I had this note on Alito and abortion here.

Sorry for the repetition. I'm not up for making better conversation just now, I'm afraid. Apologies.

A recent post on Mark Kleiman's blog, about why judges matter. It seems that Scalia will get his wish, to execute an innocent man:
http://www.samefacts.com/archives/_/2006/01/finality_of_verdict_v_actual_innocence.php

I've given up on these people - I really hope that they get to serve Bush for all eternity. And it won't be in Heaven.

Some random OT good news.

This is the aftermath of a badly written decision that forced a change in the law without waiting for consensus from the public as a whole. While I agree with the outcome, it's hard to feel too sympathetic for those complaining that the structure of Roe may soon come tumbling down. Badly planned and built structures always fall down sooner or later. It would be wise to come up with a better rationale for protecting abortion rights than the cobbled-together mess that is Roe and its progeny, and to do so while there still might be a majority to vote for it.

Scott says Alito will usher in a reversal of Roe that will actually be a good thing for progressives, because it will force us to come up with a better rationale for legal abortion (better then what? better than privacy rights, presumably.

Lovely. Let's see some of that same "Bad Medicine is Good For You" reasoning anent Executive Powers. Perhaps something like "Alito will usher in an institutionalization of the strongman, single party system that will actually be a good thing for progressives, because it will force us to come up with a better rationale for checks and balances than... than... well, than whichever rationale we were operating under.

Casey, you might want to have your browser checked--I don't know what comment you're responding to, but it isn't mine. Unless of course, you can identify where I suggested:

--Alito's vote will spell the end of Roe (do the math based on the departures and new arrivals since Casey--we're back to the pro/against numbers from that time, even assuming that both Roberts and Alito vote to strike Roe);

--Who mentioned progressives? Not all pro-choicers are progressives--I'm certainly not.

All I'm saying is that it should have been obvious for many years that the Roe rationale for abortion was shaky as could be and would fall as soon as the votes were there for it (which makes sense, since basing abortion rights on "privacy" was always an asinine exercise based on legal reasoning that reads like something a 1L pulled out of his colon--and which required a number of other legal and constitutional assumptions that have provided firepower for the pro-life movement ever since), and that it might be a good idea to come up with a rationale for protecting abortion rights with stronger support in the actual text of the Constitution while there are still enough votes present to seize upon it. Or "progressives" can keep up their strategy of denouncing every Supreme Court candidate who won't swear fealty to penumbras and emanations as the spawn of Karl Rove, and watch federally protected abortion rights go down the drain when this proves ineffective as a means of convincing sane people to oppose said candidates. Unless, of course--to turn around a common accusation made against conservatives on this issue--progressives are secretly hoping that Roe is overturned, so that presumably enough women--and young men with an aversion to paying child support-- will switch to the Democratic column to make up for the fact that a majority of the nation doesn't trust them with the military in time of national crisis. Of course, since you haven't actually said that, I won't assume that you believe it.

On the surface your argument is somewhat convincing, Scott, but I wonder how messy it's going to get before it gets done correctly.

I mean, there is no rationale that will appease the hard-core pro-life set. None. By unravelling it, SCOTUS is really just encouraging them.

That may not be a compelling enough reason not to get something better on the books, something that might make the issue less of a red vs. blue one, but my G*d it stands to get messy.

I guess the question is whether a possibly flawed law is as problematic as the potential damage unravelling it might cause?

I agree with you as far as the strong pro-lifers go, Edward (to be honest, I've been expecting for years to be rebuked by Tacitus at some point for the very strong--if unorthodox--pro-choice views that I've posted on his site)--but IMO the strategy of the leaders of the pro-choice side is alienating the moderates enough that they're not terribly receptive to their "the sky is falling" arguments. In my case, I have the reaction "please get off of my side" a lot when I hear NOW, NARAL, or Planned Parenthood leaders talk about abortion. In any event, they're not succeeding, and if the goal is actually preserving the federal constitutional right to abortion, a change in strategy is in order--quickly.

the strategy of the leaders of the pro-choice side is alienating the moderates enough that they're not terribly receptive to their "the sky is falling" arguments.

I've heard variations on that enought times to believe that even if it began as an excuse for supporting pro-life candidates (for other reasons), it's now passed into the realm of "truth" for enough moderates that indeed the pro-choice groups need to rethink their stratgies.

This issue is easier for me when I listen to my partner. He grew up in the USSR and the idea that people have religious objections to a medical procedure is so irrational to him it doesn't warrant consideration. "They're idiots" is essentially his response...next question.

On the other hand, I understand why my family members who are pro-life allow themselves to be worked up into a frenzy about it (it's an issue that is easy to manipulate opinions over), but when I juxtapose the two, I come much closer to agreeing with my partner by far. You have to implement so many alternative systems to accomodate the reality of banning abortion without demolishing the very reason it's supposedly important to do so: morality.

Leaving it up to the conscience of the individual is most definitely the best way to go.

Unless, of course--to turn around a common accusation made against conservatives on this issue--progressives are secretly hoping that Roe is overturned, so that presumably enough women--and young men with an aversion to paying child support-- will switch to the Democratic column to make up for the fact that a majority of the nation doesn't trust them with the military in time of national crisis.

Considering the accomplishments of the Bush administration, the Democrats win on both counts. You've got an incompetent commander in chief, and a religionist social agenda.

It's almost a shame that the true conservatives didn't have the balls to stand up and fight when their agenda was being trashed by the opportunists in the Republican party.

Oh well. Try again in a generation or two.

CaseyL: Scott says Alito will usher in a reversal of Roe that will actually be a good thing for progressives, because it will force us to come up with a better rationale for legal abortion (better then what? better than privacy rights, presumably.

The best rationale for safe, legal abortion, freely* available to any woman who needs one, is that without safe legal abortion, women of childbearing age will die in unsafe abortions, and many women who do not die will become sterile. But, to those opposed to safe legal abortion, women's lives and women's fertility are unimportant.

The "rationale" behind Roe as I understand it is that the right to privacy extends to a woman's consultations with her doctor, and to the privacy of her own body. While those who oppose this rationale may think it absurd that a woman should believe her body is her own - and I know that many en and some women do believe that women shouldn't think they have a right to privacy of their bodies, let alone to private consultations with a doctor: that's why they oppose Roe - as a woman, I have a visceral objection to anyone who tells me "Your body is not your own". I mean, genuinely, a gut-level reaction.

I know that anti-choicers talk a lot of tosh about how what they really want to do is protect fetuses: but it is tosh. The real goal of those who oppose Roe is to take away a woman's right to control her own body: it is a rapist's credo, a wish to invade and to control a woman's body against her will.

*By which I mean, let there be a medical clinic or a hospital that provides safe legal abortion available within half an hour's travel time.

Jes, I'm as pro-choice as anyone. I think, though, that you are unfairly generalizing. There are people who genuinely believe that abortion is the taking of human life, and that the taking of human life is wrong, especially when not 'necessary.' If one believes that a fetus of six months development is the moral (and should be the legal) equivalent of a six month old child, one can oppose the taking of that life without being accused of trying to enslave women.

I'm not saying that all of the anti-choice crowd falls into this category, or even most. But you can't deny that such people exist.

I'm not sure what the british system is. I think the Roe framework broadly reflects the way most Americans actually think about the balance of right between the woman and the fetus: the first third, she's got an absolute right, the second third it has to be under close medical supervision (which might mean that necessity plays a greater role than inconvenience), and the last third, the fetus has the nearly absolute right (subject only to real necessity). Practicality not actually being in the Constitution, the Casey framework is more binary: pre-viability, the woman has the upper hand, post-viability, the fetus does (except in cases of necessity).

The enslavement argument has more force, it seems to me, when we start talking about restrictions on minors. But Anglo-American law has a number of anomalies with regard to minors -- inability to give legal consent to sexual contact, for example -- that even here you can make a moral argument not based on the desire to either enslave and, what I think is yet more common, impose punishment for immoral behavior.

The so-called pro-life movement has backed itself into a corner by taking the exremist position that life begins at conception. Charley is right--if Roe is overturned the matter will go to Congress and legislatures where sloganeering and posturing won't hide the details of an actual law. The so-called pro-life position which logically must include the banning of stemcell research,morning after pills, and birth prevention for rape victims, will not become the law of the land anywhere outsided of Mississppi and the extremists will be in the marginalized position.
The so-called pro-life people have dumbed down morally into nothing more than the sactification of fertilized human eggs. They have been assisted in this by the pro-choice movement who have framed abortion as a llegal matter rather than a moral one.
I really hate the term "pro-life" and think annyone wh uses it should be challenged. To be genuinnely pro-life a person would have to be a defender of endangered species, and advocate of pollution control laws, and activist against global warming, a proponent of the use of government resources to assist citizens with the problems they face and an apponent of optional wars against countries that did not directly or indirectly attack us. Nobody who is willing to write off tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians for a stupid slogan about fighting terrorism has any business claiming to be pro-life no matter what they think of abortion. One of the advantages of debating abortion law in legislatures is that it provides an opportunity to stand up to the people who claim to be genuinnely conncerned about human life and see exactly how far that concern extends.

I really hate the term "pro-life" and think annyone wh uses it should be challenged.

Awesome rant, Lily!

Too much coffee on an ampty stomach.

CharleyCarp: There are people who genuinely believe that abortion is the taking of human life and that the taking of human life is wrong, especially when not 'necessary.'

Possibly. But unless their respect for human life only extends to fetuses, such people would also vehemently oppose the death penalty and wars of aggression. Further, they would be actively in favor of free contraception freely available to all, and safe legal abortion, since their respect for life would mean they would not want any woman to die getting an unsafe illegal abortion.

But you can't deny that such people exist

Of course not. But, they're mostly hardcore radical lefties. None of them fit into the so-called "pro-life" movement as presently constituted, which is aggressively against safe legal abortions, and hence is actually campaigning for women to die in unsafe illegal abortions. Few of them are consistent enough to campaign for free and freely-accessible contraception, and while some are undoubtedly also anti-death penalty and anti-aggressive wars - Pope John Paul II, for example - most appear to extend their "respect for life" solely and exclusively to fetal life.

If Casey is overturned -- and I expect it will be -- and the issue returns to the states, I fully expect to see a great many total or near-total bans. The anti-choice forces care more than the pro-choicers, all the more so because they're (for the most part) not bothering about things like the death penalty, war, inadequate health coverage, and the like.

That is, I predict gloom followed by doom. Pro-choice Republicans in red states will mostly keep their heads down, secure in the knowledge that if a family member needs to terminate a pregnancy, a flight to California, Chicago, or NYC isn't cost-prohobitive. Or Toronto or Vancouver if it comes to that (and it might, because I expect to see real attempts for a national ban in the wake of a reversal of Casey). Pro-choice Republicans will see that they are in the same place as fiscal-sanity Republicans, realist-foreign-policy Republicans, small-government Republicans, rule-of-law Republicans and let's-try-to-do-right-by-African-American Republicans: they get to choose power or principle, and will choose power. But all the while denying that they are doing so.

CharleyCarp: Pro-choice Republicans in red states will mostly keep their heads down, secure in the knowledge that if a family member needs to terminate a pregnancy, a flight to California, Chicago, or NYC isn't cost-prohobitive.

Which will lead to anti-choice Republicans, full of glee at having got their way, attempting - and quite possibly succeeding - in passing laws to prevent women leaving the state or the country to obtain an abortion. After all, if according to anti-choice Republicans women have no right of privacy, why should we assume that they will leave the right to free transit between states alone?

The Republic of Ireland has managed to live with fierce anti-women laws prohibiting abortion for decades, simply because any woman who needs an abortion can take a relatively-cheap flight or ferry ride to the UK and get a safe, legal abortion at a private clinic in London or Liverpool. When this got publicly acknowledged a few years ago with the attempt to prevent a 14-year-old girl (pregnant as a result of rape by her father and uncle) from leaving the country to get an abortion, the result was a European law passed to explicitly state that any EU citizen, even underage, cannot be prevented from travelling from one EU country to another one.

Can anyone imagine a federal law explicitly permitting travel between states in response to such a situation in the US?

We had a case about restrictions on interstate travel several decades ago. It wasn't about abortion, but preventing 'Grapes of Wrath' style migration.

Don't get me wrong, the poor and Southern are going to be the losers in this. Big time. But they voted for it (or didn't turn out to vote against it, or cared more to establish the point that Jesus hates fags).

CharleyCarp: But they voted for it

Primarily because the Roe debate has, ever since its inception, always been argued in code. Those opposed to Roe never say outright that they want women to die or to suffer through illegal abortions, that they think death or sterilization is an appropriate risk for a woman to run who believes that her body is her own to control. It's always coded as a "pro-life" debate - as if (as Lily points out) being pro-life had anything to do with arguing for unsafe illegal abortions.

felixrayman, in case you're around - you're a counterexample to Jes's claim above, aren't you?

"Unsafe illegal abortions" -- something that the woman chose, after having sexual relations, which she also chose to do (barring the situation of rape).

The death of the fetus in abortion -- never chosen by the fetus.

Why should one prioritize saving the lives of guilty and morally responsible adults over the lives of innocent babies?

I know the response from the likes of Jesursgilac: People are going to have the same number of abortions anyway, hence making abortion illegal will result in the same number of fetal deaths, plus extra deaths among the mothers. Balderdash. Making abortion illegal would decrease the abortion rate by a considerable measure. How could it not do so? At the very least, it would make a lot of men much more willing to wear a condom, thus preventing some pregnancies from arising in the first place. See Steven Levitt's research on this.

"Unsafe illegal abortions" -- something that the woman chose, after having sexual relations, which she also chose to do (barring the situation of rape).

The death of the fetus in an every single abortion -- never chosen by the fetus, who is as innocent as a human being can be.

Why should one prioritize saving the lives of morally responsible adults who could easily avoid their situation, over the lives of innocent babies?

I know the response from the likes of Jesursgilac: People are going to have the same number of abortions anyway, hence making abortion illegal will result in the same number of fetal deaths, plus extra deaths among the mothers. Balderdash. Making abortion illegal would decrease the abortion rate by a considerable measure. How could it not do so? At the very least, it would make a lot of men much more willing to wear a condom, thus preventing some pregnancies from arising in the first place. See Steven Levitt's research on this.

"Unsafe illegal abortions" -- something that the woman chose, after having sexual relations, which she also chose to do (barring the situation of rape).

The death of the fetus in an every single abortion -- never chosen by the fetus, who is as innocent as a human being can be.

Why should one prioritize saving the lives of morally responsible adults who could easily avoid their situation, over the lives of innocent babies?

I know the response from the likes of Jesursgilac: People are going to have the same number of abortions anyway, hence making abortion illegal will result in the same number of fetal deaths, plus extra deaths among the mothers. Balderdash. Making abortion illegal would decrease the abortion rate by a considerable measure. How could it not do so? At the very least, it would make a lot of men much more willing to wear a condom, thus preventing some pregnancies from arising in the first place. See Steven Levitt's research on this.

Sorry for the triple post: it was the damn website's fault.

most appear to extend their "respect for life" solely and exclusively to fetal life.


This is a lie, and a stupid one at that. Pro-lifers are perfectly consistent in saying that all innocent people -- born and unborn -- should be protected from being killed at will by other more powerful human beings. Name one pro-lifer who, when faced when an adult murder victim, responds by saying, "Sorry, I don't care about adult victims, I only care when fetuses are killed."

This sounds like just another version of the stupid cliche: "Gee, how can you claim to be against abortion when you don't support massive government welfare programs!"

The reason it's stupid is this: No one needs to support massive welfare programs in order to be against killing. If I'm against the notion that a wife can kill her husband for being unemployed, it is quite irrelevant to say, "But you don't support unemployment programs!" Well, so what? I can be against the act of killing without automatically being required to support every governmental program that would supposedly reduce the "need" for the killing.

And again, the charge of hypocrisy would be more meaningful if you found a pro-lifer who said: "I support health and welfare programs, but only for fetuses. As soon as the fetus is born, no more health and welfare programs." That would be inconsistent, but no one that I've ever heard of holds such a view.

The hypocrisy lies in the claim to be "pro-life." If the claim was simply to be opposed to abortion there would be no hypocrisy.
Everybody thinks it is ok to kill other people. The discussion is about circumstances. By equating opposition to abortion to being "pro-life" this fact is obscured and the discussion becomes polarized around a false premise.

Niels: Why should one prioritize saving the lives of guilty and morally responsible adults over the lives of innocent babies?

Why should one try to claim that a fetus is a baby?

Answer; because by equating a fetus with a baby, you can argue that a fetus deserves the same legal rights as a baby, and thus ignore the fact that a fetus can only have legal rights by removing them from a woman: from each pregnant woman, and frequently from all women.

A fetus is not a baby. Arguments that rest on the notion that a fetus is a baby are false arguments, and do not even deserve to be debunked.

Why should a fetus be awarded legal rights that it can only possess by removing them from a pregnant woman?

Why should a pregnant woman lose legal rights?

Sorry for the triple post: it was the damn website's fault.

A bad workman blames his tools. (The solution to the frequent false-error messages posted is to save your post before you click Post, and only re-Post if you have waited at least ten minutes after the error message to see if your comment has not shown up.)

Name one pro-lifer who, when faced when an adult murder victim, responds by saying, "Sorry, I don't care about adult victims, I only care when fetuses are killed."

Assuming your real name is Niels Jackson, I name Niels Jackson, as a representative pro-lifer who does not care about adult victims: you said so yourself: "Unsafe illegal abortions" -- something that the woman chose, after having sexual relations, which she also chose to do. As you said: you don't care if an adult victim dies as a result of an unsafe illegal abortion. Your sole concern is for the fetus. You prove my point.

Lily -- same back at you. The term "pro-choice" implies a general disposition to favor private choices. But liberals are very willing to interfere with private choices, from the size of toilets to the gas mileage on the cars people drive to the people you have to hire (if you own a business), and a thousand other examples. The term "pro-choice" is therefore based on a false premise.

What pro-choicers really favor is legal abortion, not "choice" in general. Therefore, they ought to be called "pro-legal-abortion." If you go for that, then I'll agree to be called "anti-abortion." Then we'll be even. Otherwise, quit whining.

Niels, you were ok except for the "quit whining" part. I'm happy with pro-legal-abortion.

lily: Niels, you were ok except for the "quit whining" part. I'm happy with pro-legal-abortion.

I'm not.

I'm not "pro-abortion". I wish profoundly that no woman ever became pregnant who didn't want to be, and that no woman ever had to make the decision that she couldn't afford to be pregnant or to have the baby, and that no emergencies ever happened where an abortion became medically essential for the life and/or sanity of the pregnant woman. I think that some abortions are inevitable, no matter what, but that it is absolutely possible for society as a whole to minimize the number of abortions - if that's what's important. (And, in the US, plainly that's not what's important: you won't find most so-called "pro-lifers" arguing that all pregnant women and all children ought to receive free healthcare, or that employers ought to have to offer parents family-friendly working conditions, or paid maternity leave for the first six months of an infant's life, or that a pregnant teenager who keeps the baby ought to get financial support from the state to see she gets through high school and - if she wants - can go to college.

What I am is pro-choice. I think that a pregnant woman is the only person in the world with the right to decide whether to continue or terminate that pregnancy, with the advice of her doctor to help. People who oppose safe legal abortion don't just believe that women deserve to suffer and die for wanting control over our own bodies: they believe that other people ought to get to make decisions for pregnant women.

Pro-choice is the right term. I'm not pro-abortion any more than Niels is pro-life.

I'm not pro-abortion. I'm pro-LEGAL-abortion, ie pro keeping abortion legal.

Assuming your real name is Jesurgislac (if not, why choose such an unwieldy moniker?):

Jesurgislac: Your entire post is begging the question.

What's more, I was responding to the stupidity of your claim that a truly pro-life person would actually SUPPORT "safe legal abortion, since their respect for life would mean they would not want any woman to die getting an unsafe illegal abortion."

That's just pure baloney. It would be as if I said, "If you were truly pro-choice, you'd be in favor of letting the fetus grow up and have the 'choice' whether or not to be hacked to death." That's not even an argument.

Anyway, I and other pro-lifers have "respect for life." Yes. But that doesn't answer the question here. With abortion being legal, we have (say) 1.2 million abortions per year, plus 20 deaths of women who had abortions. If abortion were illegal, let's say that we had 900,000 abortions per year, plus 40 deaths of women who had relatively less safe abortions. (40 is similar to the number of women who died from abortion prior to Roe.)

So you've got 20 extra deaths of adult women, balanced out by 300,000 fewer fetal deaths. Even if the adult female's life is worth that of 100 fetuses, that isn't even a close question.

There is absolutely nothing to your critique, then. Your critique assumes (without proving, of course) that all adult lives are of infinite value and that all fetal lives are (effectively) of zero value. I don't accept that valuation, and I've never heard any reason why I should. Bottom line: I care about the lives of adult females. But any deaths that they would supposedly experience from illegal abortion would be outweighed thousands of times over by the fetal lives saved. You have no right to say that my position fails to be "pro-life."

It would be as if I said, "If you were truly pro-choice, you'd be in favor of letting the fetus grow up and have the 'choice' whether or not to be hacked to death." That's not even an argument.

Just to amplify on my own remarks:

To say "any pro-life person should want safe and legal abortion" is as inane as saying "any pro-choice person should want to give the fetus the choice," or "any pro-environment person should want to let corporate polluters have free rein (because the free market will take care of the environment)."

It's an "argument" that really amounts to playing a semantic game, whereby you both completely beg the question, and simultaneously pretend that the other person would be more consistent with their preferred label by adopting the OPPOSITE position.

No thanks. I'm able to judge for myself what "pro-life" means. Come up with an argument next time.

A bad workman blames his tools.

When I clicked "post," it just went to a blank page, as if nothing had happened. No need to be so catty about it.

I suggest that both of you (Niels and Jesurgislac) tone down the exchange-of-barbs a bit. I'm less impressed by the zingers than you can possibly imagine.

Which claim, rilkefan.

Slartibifat -- no one's forcing you to read anything. There are lots of other pages on the Internet if you're not happy with the comments here.

frm, seem to recall you have an consistent absolutist "human life is human life and nothing justifies purposely ending it" viewpoint that cuts across standard right/left politics, don't however recall if that's zygote-on. See Jes's comment here.

Niels Jackson, you should know that Slartibartfast is one of the posters at this blog, not just a commenter. Also note that this blog takes civility seriously, or tries to - see the posting rules.

I oppose the death penalty in all cases. I opposed taking Schiavo off life support. I'm in favor of free contraception for all. I'm certainly not a pacifist, but I find it hard to think of a past war I would have supported.

On abortion?

No position. It's a hard question, I'm listening.

Niels: I care about the lives of adult females. But any deaths that they would supposedly experience from illegal abortion would be outweighed thousands of times over by the fetal lives saved.

You're kind of missing the point. When a woman dies in an illegal abortion, the fetus she's carrying dies too. Making abortion illegal doesn't save fetuses: it merely ensures that women have illegal abortions, which are highly likely to be more unsafe than legal abortions. Campaigning for abortion to be made illegal is not pro-life: it's the reverse.

When I clicked "post," it just went to a blank page, as if nothing had happened. No need to be so catty about it.

You're right. I apologize.

You're kind of missing the point. When a woman dies in an illegal abortion, the fetus she's carrying dies too.

You're kind of missing Niels' point, too. Unless the number of women who would seek, and die from, illegal abortions, plus the number of their aborted fetuses, is higher than the number of women who would simply forgo an abortion altogether rather than seek an illegal one, illegalizing abortion would, in fact, lead to a decrease in overall death.

I don't happen to agree with the argument, but you seem to be eliding it.

Phil: Unless the number of women who would seek, and die from, illegal abortions, plus the number of their aborted fetuses, is higher than the number of women who would simply forgo an abortion altogether rather than seek an illegal one, illegalizing abortion would, in fact, lead to a decrease in overall death.

The fact is: women who are pregnant and don't want to be get an abortion. The choice of legislators is whether these woman shall be allowed to choose a safe legal abortion, or shall be forced to find an illegal abortionist - and have an abortion that is likely to be less safe. The pregnancies are terminated, either way, so the fetal death rate remains the same: the number of women dying and the number of women made sterile goes up. Along with women sexually molested by doctors who know that a woman who's seeking an illegal abortion can't afford to report them for sexual harassment, and women robbed or murdered: make abortion a crime, and criminals will take advantage of it to commit other crimes.

None of this matters to those who want abortion to be illegal. Women's lives are unimportant to them. They are not pro-life by any definition of the term.

Sorry about that -- don't mean to insult the site owner -- I just have a hard time with long, impenetrable, and meaningless pen names like Slartibartifast or Jesursiglac or whatever. From now on, I'm using first initials.

J: The pregnancies are terminated, either way, so the fetal death rate remains the same: the number of women dying and the number of women made sterile goes up.

Your evidence for this is: Zero. There is absolutely no reason to think that the number of abortions would be the same "either way."

If abortion were illegal in a few states, the number of abortions would go down. I don't see how there could be any serious question about this. Some women would still get abortions, sure, but at least some women would choose not to do something illegal. And some men -- faced with the pressure of the law -- would decide not to force their girlfriends or daughters into abortion.

But more than that: The number of unwanted pregnancies would go down. People would be more careful, knowing that abortion would not be as available. Esp. men. Some men who currently feel that everything is the woman's responsibility would start to be more careful about wearing a condom, etc. That's why Steven Levitt found (in Freakonomics) that conceptions rose about 30 percent after Roe, even though the birth rate dropped.

Why would conceptions have risen but the birth rate have gone down? Because people weren't being as careful. QED.

Women's lives are unimportant to them.

Again, baloney. What I've said is that 20 or 30 women's lives doesn't outweigh 300,000 fetal lives, just to make a guess at the relative proportions here.

Niels: I just have a hard time with long, impenetrable, and meaningless pen names like Slartibartifast or Jesursiglac or whatever.

Many people call me Jes. Feel free to do so, if it's simpler for you. Many people call Slartibartfast "Slarti", and he's never shown any signs of objecting.

There is absolutely no reason to think that the number of abortions would be the same "either way."

That is to say there is absolutely no reason to think that the number of abortions would fall.

If abortion were illegal in a few states, the number of abortions would go down.

Well, two things: the total number of abortions in those states would go down, because women who could afford it would go to a state where abortion is legal. And, for the women who couldn't afford it, the number of illegal abortions would go up. Because illegal abortions would not be registered - no one would be counting them - no doubt fantasists would want to believe that they weren't happening, except when women died of them, which would be impossible to cover up.

I don't see how there could be any serious question about this.

Because your assertion is not backed by any data, and is contrary to the known data. In the Republic of Ireland, abortion is illegal: women go to the nearest state where it is legal, or they get illegal abortions. These are serious questions: why don't you see them?

And some men -- faced with the pressure of the law -- would decide not to force their girlfriends or daughters into abortion.

And the murder rate of pregnant women would also go up. Murder is already the second most common cause of injury-related death for pregnant women in the US - usually by their boyfriends or their husbands.

If it concerns you that some women are coerced into having an abortion because their husbands or their fathers or their boyfriends want them terminate, what are you doing (I expect the answer is "nothing", mind you) to ensure that it doesn't happen? What shelters for pregnant teenage runaways are you supporting? What charities and policies do you support to ensure that a pregnant teenager who doesn't want an abortion can still finish high school and go on to college, though her parents want her to abort and won't support her otherwise? What government policies, state resources, or charities do you support to ensure that a woman who's separated from her husband or her boyfriend because he wants her to have an abortion will have somewhere to go, and be able to keep her job?

The number of unwanted pregnancies would go down. People would be more careful, knowing that abortion would not be as available.

Ah, more fantasy. Or you have data? No?

Why would conceptions have risen but the birth rate have gone down?

Because the 30% of conceptions that appeared to be a rise, represented the number of illegal abortions that no one was looking at before Roe.

What I've said is that 20 or 30 women's lives doesn't outweigh 300,000 fetal lives, just to make a guess at the relative proportions here.

It's not a question of "outweighing" them. Your fantasy is of 300 000 unwanted babies being born to women who didn't want to be pregnant: the reality is 300 000 abortions, plus the bloody reality that some of those women will die, and rather more will be made sterile. (Why I remain more concerned about women's lives than potential lives)

If you cared about life - the lives of women, the lives of children - rather than trying to make abortion illegal, and kill women along with their fetuses in illegal abortions, you would be working for policies that would ensure fewer abortions. Better access to contraception. Economic policies to help working parents and especially single mothers. Good free healthcare. But anyone who is campaigning to make abortions illegal, is campaigning for illegal abortions.

The fact is: women who are pregnant and don't want to be get an abortion. The choice of legislators is whether these woman shall be allowed to choose a safe legal abortion, or shall be forced to find an illegal abortionist - and have an abortion that is likely to be less safe. The pregnancies are terminated, either way, so the fetal death rate remains the same: the number of women dying and the number of women made sterile goes up.

It is patent nonsense to make this argument which assumes that making something illegal does not in any way disincentivize it. Claptrap.

Again, I don't happen to support Niels' argument, and I'm a strong supporter of legal abortion and widespread sex education and readily available contraception and ensuring that women have access to abortions sufficiently early in their pregnancies, but you're basing your argument on the assumption that the current abortion rate would equal the post-illegalization abortion rate, an assumption that rests not only on facts not in evidence, but runs contrary to everything we know about social behavior, policy and common sense.

Phil: It is patent nonsense to make this argument which assumes that making something illegal does not in any way disincentivize it.

Riiiight. That would be why the Twenty-first Amendment is a figment of my imagination - after all, the Eighteenth Amendment had the effect of making most people in the US completely teetotal. And the need of most people for "intoxicating liquors" is decidedly less than the need of a woman who's pregnant and doesn't want to be for an abortion.

but you're basing your argument on the assumption that the current abortion rate would equal the post-illegalization abortion rate, an assumption that rests not only on facts not in evidence, but runs contrary to everything we know about social behavior, policy and common sense.

You're basing your argument on the assumption that passing a law removes a woman's need to terminate an unwanted pregnancy - an assumption that runs comtrary to facts in evidence, and is contrary to everything we know about social behavior and common sense.

To use your terminology, Phil, it's claptrap.

J:
That is to say there is absolutely no reason to think that the number of abortions would fall.

Bull. As I already explained, the number of conceptions rose around 30% after Roe even while the birth rate dropped. There is no possible explanation for this other than that hundreds of thousands of people became LESS CAREFUL. If you're trying to pretend that making abortion illegal would not have the same effect today (i.e., making people more careful about their sexual activity), you have the burden of proof. Put up, or shut up.

And maybe you could answer this, since you think that the legality of abortion has ZERO effect on the abortion rate: Did the number of abortions rise between, say, 1965 and 1980? Particularly, did it rise after 1973? Gee, why ever could that have been?

And the murder rate of pregnant women would also go up. Murder is already the second most common cause of injury-related death for pregnant women in the US - usually by their boyfriends or their husbands.


There's no way you can know this. My speculation is that the murder rate would, if anything, go down. Right now, the thinking in these Neanderthal mens' minds is something like this: "Damn woman, why doesn't she just get an abortion! It's legal, the government says so. The only reason she's not getting an abortion is just to spite me. I'll show her who's boss," etc., etc., etc. But if abortion were illegal, maybe some men would realize that they couldn't as easily blame their wives/girlfriends for failing to get an abortion.

Of course, that's just sheer speculation. As is your post. The difference is that I'm not pretending to have certainty about THAT particular effect.

And the murder rate of pregnant women would also go up. Murder is already the second most common cause of injury-related death for pregnant women in the US - usually by their boyfriends or their husbands.


There's no way you can know this. My speculation is that the murder rate would, if anything, go down. Right now, the thinking in these Neanderthal mens' minds is something like this: "Damn woman, why doesn't she just get an abortion! It's legal, the government says so. The only reason she's not getting an abortion is just to spite me. I'll show her who's boss," etc., etc., etc. But if abortion were illegal, maybe some men would realize that they couldn't as easily blame their wives/girlfriends for failing to get an abortion.

Of course, that's just sheer speculation. As is your post. The difference is that I'm not pretending to have certainty about THAT particular effect.

If it concerns you that some women are coerced into having an abortion because their husbands or their fathers or their boyfriends want them terminate, what are you doing (I expect the answer is "nothing", mind you) to ensure that it doesn't happen? What shelters for pregnant teenage runaways are you supporting? What charities and policies do you support to ensure that a pregnant teenager who doesn't want an abortion can still finish high school and go on to college, though her parents want her to abort and won't support her otherwise? What government policies, state resources, or charities do you support to ensure that a woman who's separated from her husband or her boyfriend because he wants her to have an abortion will have somewhere to go, and be able to keep her job?


You seem to have missed the point: Whether or not I support any of those services is irrelevant and none of your business.

I may or may not happen to support huge government-sponsored unemployment programs. But whatever my position on that issue, I still have a right -- both intellectually and morally -- to oppose the notion that someone can kill her spouse for being unemployed. It is sheer silliness to claim that I'm somehow being a hypocrite if I oppose that act of killing, without also supporting someone else's wish list of government programs that would supposedly reduce the "need" for such killings.

Also: I oppose infanticide. Does that mean I'm a hypocrite if I don't also support any number of welfare programs aimed at infants?

Also: I oppose killing 7 year olds. Does that mean I'm a hypocrite if I don't sponsor an increase in a school lunch program?

Also: I oppose euthanizing the elderly. Does that mean I'm a hypocrite if I want a smaller cost-of-living increase in Social Security? (After all, if the elderly aren't given as much money, they might be more of a burden on their families, who might then want to euthanize them. But hey, it's MY obligation, rather than the families' obligation, to help out the elderly parents, so that the families won't feel as much pressure to kill off their parents.)

Niels: As I already explained, the number of conceptions rose around 30% after Roe even while the birth rate dropped.

You "explained" without providing a cite, but I'll assume for the sake of argument that you got the figures right. How was the number of conceptions recorded? The obvious explanation - simple and straightforward, without requiring any massive change in behavior such as you postulate - is that the thirty percent apparent "rise" actually represents the invisible and unrecorded conceptions that, before Roe, were illegally aborted.

And maybe you could answer this, since you think that the legality of abortion has ZERO effect on the abortion rate: Did the number of abortions rise between, say, 1965 and 1980? Particularly, did it rise after 1973?

Because, after 1973, all abortions were recorded. Before 1973, illegal abortions were, for the most part, not recorded.

You seem to have missed the point: Whether or not I support any of those services is irrelevant and none of your business.

It's perfectly relevant. You're claiming to be "pro-life". But all we've heard out of you is that you want abortions to be illegal - which is anti-life. If you're claiming to be pro-life, what are you actually doing that's pro-life? If all you're doing is trying to make abortions illegal, you have not the shadow of a claim to be pro-life.

As to the rise in conceptions: I cited the Freakonomics book, which is not online. You can probably find it at your local library. Very educational and worth reading.

Because, after 1973, all abortions were recorded. Before 1973, illegal abortions were, for the most part, not recorded.

FYI: There are scholarly studies, as well as the CDC, that have made a serious effort to estimate the number of abortions before and after Roe, and virtually all find that the number of abortions went up. You can look them up for yourself.

You bear the burden of proof here, by the way, since you're the one making the absurd claim that a massive change in abortion laws has zero effect on: 1) people's sexual behavior or willingness to use contraception, and 2) people's willingness to procure abortions. You haven't explained how your position squares with the facts of pre- and post-Roe history, nor have you explained why no one in America would ever change their behavior by the presence or lack of abortion laws.

But all we've heard out of you is that you want abortions to be illegal - which is anti-life.

Says who? Says you, according to your idiosyncratic definitions of words, and your bullshit speculation that the number of abortions is completely indepedent of the legal regime.

I could copy this whole piece since it adresses most of the issues mentioned here:

For example, abortion is completely illegal throughout Latin America, but abortion rates in Peru, Chile and the Dominican Republic have been estimated to be more than twice the U.S. rate. In Brazil and Colombia, they are substantially higher as well. At the same time, these countries' maternal mortality rates, which are highly associated with unsafe abortion, range from six times to more than 20 times the rate in the United States.

By contrast, in virtually every country in which abortion is legal and also widely available from trained clinicians, abortion-related mortality and morbidity is virtually nonexistent. Moreover, in these countries, abortion rates are by no means necessarily high. Indeed, in some countries in which abortion is not only legal but also very easily accessible to women and even free of charge under a national health insurance system, rates of abortion are among the world's lowest. Countries in this category include the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland and Italy.

Also about the maternal mortality:

As a result of the restrictive reproductive health policies enforced under the 25-year Ceausescu dictatorship, Romania ended the 1980s with the highest recorded maternal mortality of any country in Europe--159 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1989. An estimated 87 percent of these maternal deaths were caused by illegal and unsafe abortion. Under the Ceausescu regime, all contraceptive methods were forbidden and induced abortion was available only for women who met extremely narrow criteria. Immediately after the December 1989 revolution that overthrew Ceausescu, the new government removed restrictions on contraceptive use and legalized abortion. This legislative change has had beneficial effects on women's health, seen in the drop in maternal mortality in 1990 to 83 deaths per 100,000 live births--almost half the ratio in 1989.

Niels: Says you, according to your idiosyncratic definitions of words

It's hardly idiosyncratic to require that pro-life shall mean pro life, and not pro-death - as anyone who supports illegal abortions is.

and your bullshit speculation that the number of abortions is completely indepedent of the legal regime.

Oh, I never claimed that, Niels. As DutchMarbel has just kindly pointed out, in countries where abortions are illegal, illegal abortions happen at much higher rates and more women die. Making abortion illegal apparently does affect the number of abortions carried out: it just doesn't affect it in the way your fantasies would prefer.

nor have you explained why no one in America would ever change their behavior by the presence or lack of abortion laws.

Because no evidence suggests that women who are pregnant and don't want to be would change their behavior as a result of making abortion illegal. And no evidence suggests that men who murder pregnant girlfriends or wives, or who routinely have sex without condoms, would change their behavior if abortion were made illegal.

What all the evidence suggests is that a woman who's pregnant and doesn't want to be will seek an abortion. You want her to risk death or sterility, and have no interest in public policies to make it less likely that she'd want an abortion: I want there to be fewer abortions, and want public policies that will tend to that end, but I also want all abortions to be safe and legal. That's because I am pro-life according to the literal meaning of the words, and you are only "pro-life" according to the idiosyncratic definition that the campaigners for illegal abortion have given the words in the past few decades.

So if Brazil makes most abortions illegal and Scandinavia doesn't, and if Brazil's abortion rate is nonetheless higher, that's supposed to mean that abortion bans have no effect? Baloney. Ever heard of "controlling" for other factors? (It's something that social scientists do when they want to know what is REALLY causing one nation to be different from another.) I shouldn't need to spell out all the ways that Scandinavia is different from Brazil.

What's more relevant is this: Would Scandinavia's abortion rate be even lower if they restricted abortion? Probably. Would Brazil's abortion rate be even higher if it allowed free abortion everywhere? Again, probably so.

J: Because no evidence suggests that women who are pregnant and don't want to be would change their behavior as a result of making abortion illegal.


Again, you're blowing smoke. No evidence? How about common sense, which says that there are always at least some people for whom abortion is a very reluctant decision, who never would have done it unless their parents [or boyfriend] insisted, and who would be pushed over the edge into keeping the baby (or adoption) if the law backed them up. YOU are the one who has her head stuck so far into the sand that you can only imagine one sort of person: The woman who is 100% determined and guaranteed to get an abortion, no matter what obstacles lie in her way, no matter what the law says, no matter what anyone says. Yes, such women exist. But they don't make up 100% of the abortion pool. And that's why you're full of it.

And no evidence suggests that men . . . who routinely have sex without condoms, would change their behavior if abortion were made illegal.

Again, you're just blowing smoke. No evidence? I guess I can repeat it until I'm blue in the face, and you'll still be plugging up your ears and covering your eyes and yelling at the top of your lungs. Anything to avoid acknowledging the fact that conceptions rose after Roe -- which is proof that more people failed to take precautions than before. And anything to avoid acknowledging the fact that America's men are not 100% the type who will refuse to wear a condom no matter what. Yes, some are like that. But there are also some for the absence of easy abortion would weigh heavily on their minds. There are some relationships where if the woman said, "Hey, suit up, because you know I ain't getting no abortion now that it's illegal," the man would end up wearing a condom.

That doesn't have to be everyone. But enough people would behave that way to make the abortion rate come down.

That's because I am pro-life according to the literal meaning of the words

You mean, the "Orwellian" meaning of the words. Otherwise, you wouldn't be defending the practice of pulling the limbs off of live human fetuses.

In other words, J, you seem to be completely unaware of the concept of the "marginal" effects of a policy. An Economics 101 course should help with this. In basic terms, if you raise the price of something, there are fewer people willing to pay that price. If you raise the price of gum from 50 cents to 55 cents, it may not make a difference for 95% of people. But for that 5%, that extra 5 cents will be just the thing that causes them to buy gum less often. And so overall sales will go slightly down. And at the extreme, if you raise the price to 5 dollars a pack, there will be some relatively wealthy people who really love gum who will buy just as much, but only a fool would expect gum sales to stay the same.

Now we get a little more complicated: Elasticity of demand. If demand is perfectly elastic, then it varies in exact proportion to price. At the opposite extreme, if demand is perfectly INelastic, then demand stays the same no matter what the price is.

So what you've been saying is that the demand for abortion is perfectly inelastic. It doesn't matter if abortion is legal or illegal, if it costs $400 or $3000, if it is available in all states or available only in a few -- not a single person in America is going to think more cautiously about birth control, and not a single woman is going to decide not to have an abortion after all.

That just doesn't make any sense. What you're saying doesn't fit with human experience, with logic, or with the evidence about how abortion rates (and conception rates) rose after Roe.

It does, however, fit very well with the rigid ideological beliefs of someone who thinks Amptoons isn't sufficiently "feminist."

Niels: Anything to avoid acknowledging the fact that conceptions rose after Roe

I acknowledged it - for the sake of argument, since you've yet to provide a cite - and provided an explanation: number of conceptions remained steady, but the 30% apparent "rise" represented the number of illegal abortions that had hitherto gone unreported. You have not attempted to dispute this explanation: you've just ignored it and claimed that I'm ignoring your supposed claim.

What you're saying doesn't fit with human experience, with logic, or with the evidence about how abortion rates (and conception rates) rose after Roe.

Given that you're ignoring the evidence for unrecorded numbers of illegal abortions prior to Roe, I think it's you that is ignoring human experience, logic, and evidence in favor of your own rigid ideological beliefs.

So what you've been saying is that the demand for abortion is perfectly inelastic. It doesn't matter if abortion is legal or illegal, if it costs $400 or $3000, if it is available in all states or available only in a few -- not a single person in America is going to think more cautiously about birth control, and not a single woman is going to decide not to have an abortion after all.

"Decide" not to have an abortion? Aren't you arguing that women shouldn't have the power to decide anything about abortion?

Otherwise, you wouldn't be defending the practice of pulling the limbs off of live human fetuses.

As you defend the practices of making women bleed to death alone, of sterilisation, of sexual harassment, of women dying from repeated unsafe pregnancies, of women seeking abortion, of mass numbers of unwanted babies born and abandoned to institutional life... All because you regard a blastocyte as being a human life, and think women should suffer and die rather than allow legal safe termination of a cluster of cells without even a spinal column.

I acknowledged it - for the sake of argument, since you've yet to provide a cite

I did provide a cite: Freakonomics. It's a BOOK. Like most books, its text is not online. It's not my fault if you refuse to recognize books as a source of information.

Your alternative "explanation" is just hot air. You have absolutely no evidence that the rise in conceptions somehow represents a huge number of pregnancies that were entirely concealed prior to 1973. As I've said, there are several studies that have been done on the abortion rate after Roe, and all find that the abortion rate went up. Gee, what a surprise: Make something legal (and hence cheaper and more widely available), and it happens more often!

Here's another indicator that people stopped being less careful after abortion was legalized: The rate of sexually transmitted diseases went UP by a considerable margin.

Let me predict your reaction to this: 1) Ignore it; 2) Claim (on the basis of nothing) that sexually transmitted diseases were just not reported or treated before abortion was legalized; 3) Pretend that all of this has no implications for anything (rather than acknowledging that making abortion illegal would make some people more careful, which would in turn prevent many pregnancies from ever occurring).

"Decide" not to have an abortion? Aren't you arguing that women shouldn't have the power to decide anything about abortion?

Clever -- faced with the fact that your claim is completely unbelievable (i.e., that the number of abortions is always going to be exactly the same, no matter how difficult or expensive), you change the subject.

As you defend the practices of making women bleed to death alone, of sterilisation, of sexual harassment, of women dying from repeated unsafe pregnancies, of women seeking abortion, of mass numbers of unwanted babies born and abandoned to institutional life...

If that happens to a handful of women, I'm truly sorry. That said, 1) it's through their own choice (whereas the fetus has no choice); and 2) The number of such incidents would be vastly outweighed by the decrease in abortion (i.e., if abortion returned to the levels of the 1960s.

All because you regard a blastocyte as being a human life, and think women should suffer and die rather than allow legal safe termination of a cluster of cells without even a spinal column.

This is silly: No one has an abortion at the blastocyst stage -- no one even knows that they are pregnant at that point.

Sorry about that -- don't mean to insult the site owner -- I just have a hard time with long, impenetrable, and meaningless pen names like Slartibartifast or Jesursiglac or whatever. From now on, I'm using first initials.

I'm not the owner; think of me as the janitor. And although my handle is hardly original, it was inspired by Jesurgislac's. I've got family, and this sort of thing tends to foil the casual stalker. My purpose was not to suppress the exchange, though, so much as point out that the posting rules are there for a reason, however much Gary Farber may complain that they're too vague.

There are plenty of places one can go to on the web for an exchange of insults; this isn't one of them. At least, that's the intent.

Slarti: And although my handle is hardly original, it was inspired by Jesurgislac's.

It was? Cool! :-) I've always liked your handle.

That should have been: "Here's another indicator that people were less careful after abortion was legalized:"

At first it was making fun (the good-natured sort), but later I realized that I liked the rhythms of both names, so I remain Slarti.

Niels: Let me predict your reaction to this

All three wrong. I followed the link and looked up the academics who wrote the paper you cited. Thomas Stratmann is based at the James Buchanan Center for Political Economy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia: Jonathan Klick was the Dorothy Donnelley Moller Research Fellow in the Mercatus Regulatory Studies Program, also at George Mason University. Both Klick and Stratmann are right-wing economists, not medical scientists. When they write an academic paper on the rise of STDs following Roe, their motivations for doing so are pretty clear, and it casts doubt on whatever correlations they managed to discover.

I did provide a cite: Freakonomics. It's a BOOK. Like most books, its text is not online.

Really? That's odd. I could have sworn... Nah, must have been a mistake.

You're citing a book. The disadvantage of a book is that you have to physically type in the references you want to make from it. However, with that book there in front of you, you can do so with only a little additional labor. Where did Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner get their facts about a 30% rise in conceptions? Which authorities were they citing?

I followed the link and looked up the academics who wrote the paper you cited. Thomas Stratmann is based at the James Buchanan Center for Political Economy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia: Jonathan Klick was the Dorothy Donnelley Moller Research Fellow in the Mercatus Regulatory Studies Program, also at George Mason University. Both Klick and Stratmann are right-wing economists, not medical scientists. When they write an academic paper on the rise of STDs following Roe, their motivations for doing so are pretty clear, and it casts doubt on whatever correlations they managed to discover.


Oh, right! I forgot that you'd be likely to bring up the old standby: The ad hominem fallacy. If you can't prove someone wrong, and you don't even want to try, just make hand-waving insinuations about their personal identity or motivations. So much easier than trying to refute data from the CDC, etc. Makes life a lot easier when you never have to acknowledge information that might show your ideological position to be wrong.

On Freakonomics: So you've figured out that the book has a website -- good job. Now show me where the book's text is on the website, and we'll be in business.

Also, FYI, economists (or econometricians) often write data-driven papers on medicine or any topic under the sun. You don't have to be a medical expert to analyze CDC data (and in fact, most doctors wouldn't have the faintest idea how to do a regression analysis).

Slarti: And although my handle is hardly original, it was inspired by Jesurgislac's.

It was? Cool! :-) I've always liked your handle.

awwwwww...

Niels: So much easier than trying to refute data from the CDC, etc.

Oh, for heaven's sake. Niels, you've yet to produce any data - from the CDC or anywhere else.

this pdf file gives more statistical figures and background info. Short summary: family planning systems, availability of contraception and education have more impact on abortion figures than legalisations has.

The idea that men who in this day and age have sex without a condom will suddenly stop doing that when abortion will become illegal is interesting, but not supported by any factual evidence.

J:

Do I have to spell out the obvious? Two economists write a paper analyzing CDC data. I link to that paper. Your sole response: Boo, they're economists, they teach at the wrong schools, and they're probably biased. Hence my response: It's infinitely easier to sneer at people's identity than to deal with their arguments or data (such as the CDC data that the economists analyzed).

D: Have you even read any of the comments up to this point? If so, why do you think that abortion legalization had a substantial effect on the rate of sexually transmitted diseases? Some form of magic in the air? Or the fact that men became less vigilant about wearing condoms?

By the way, D, thanks for a link that proves my point. As stated on page 29 of that report:

"In most of these countries, the abortion rate rose immediately following legalization. This occurred partly because of the shift from unreported illegal abortions to reported legal abortions. But there was probably also a real increase in abortion rates in response to the demand for services, which can be more readily and more safely met following legalization."

The report then cites the United States as a specific example.

So, yes, reporting probably improved. I never said otherwise. But improved reporting doesn't account for 100% of the rise in abortions after Roe, which is what J has been (absurdly) claiming. Instead, legalization leads to more abortions in and of itself.

It's pretty amazing to come across someone who is so blinkered that they refuse to acknowledge such an obvious fact as that the law affects people's behavior.

Also, D, see my post above on the concept of the "margin." You'd find it educational. Short version: No one is claiming that 100% of men would wear condoms at all times if abortion were illegal. But for some men, the illegalization of abortion would be just the thing that would make them think twice. Or it would make the woman more insistent that he wear a condom.

Seriously, have you people never met any other real people outside of the Internet? What experience makes you think that 100% of people engage in sexual behavior in a way that is completely unaffected by any possible incentive?

Two economists write a paper analyzing CDC data.

Two economists claim to have discovered a correlation between one set of data and another set of data. The economists have no background in medical science, and curiously enough, the correlation they have discovered backs up what I suspect (given their academic background) to be their previous political conviction - that legal abortion is bad.

When an academic publishes a paper claiming that a data correlation proves a political point that he already believed in, it's perfectly valid to point out that this is a intrinsic reason to suspect his results. (Correlations in data, you see, look impressive - but don't necessarily prove a thing.)

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