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January 11, 2006

Comments

You obviously don't know your right-wingers. GMU and Mercatus are full of libertarians, many or most of whom support legalized abortion. I don't know anything about Klick and Stratmann's personal beliefs, but who cares anyway? This is nothing but the "ad hominem" fallacy. There's no reason to rely on such a fallacious argument if you have anything valid to say.

Correlations in data, you see, look impressive - but don't necessarily prove a thing

Nice to see that you are aware of this principle. Just FYI, though: A truly bogus correlation is the one that you and D made above, i.e., when you compared abortion rates in Brazil vs. Scandinavia, without any attempt to control for the many other factors that differentiate those places. The Klick/Stratmann study did control for other factors.

Niels: Nice to see that you are aware of this principle.

Ah, there's nothing I love better than being condescended to by someone who's been citing nothing but meaningless correlations all thread to prove his points, and being rude to boot.

I don't know anything about Klick and Stratmann's personal beliefs, but who cares anyway?

Because their personal beliefs are very likely to have affected their wish to see a correlation where there's nothing but a post hoc, propter hoc fallacy. That's why I looked up their academic background. They seem extremely likely to have set out to prove their point by any means necessary: it's what "pro-lifers" - the fake, ideological ones, who really hate the idea of women getting to make decisions - do.

I think this entire discussion is off-point. I made the statement way upthread that those who claim to be pro-life need to be challenged because everybody thinks it's ok to kill people and people who make a big issue out of fertilized eggs are not inherently more pro-life than anyone else.
I'll stand by that and no one has refuted it.
I'll make another stand: I believe that those individuals who are outraged at the killinng of a being that hhas no brain, no emotions, and no capacity for thinking and feeling but regard Iraqi civilians who can think and feel as dispensible are operating on a lower value system than mine and are less pro-life than me.
The discussion that we as a society need to have is not whether or not abortion should be legal. It's when is it ok to kill people. Here is a list of reasons for killinng people. Which ones do you agree with? Why?
The person is ann unwanted fertilized egg.
The person for whatever reason hs no brain function beyond brain stem activity
The person is dying anyway and wants to expidate the process
The person is dying painfully and there is no hope of improvement
The person is innocent but convicted of a capital offense. Unfotunately in order to have the death penalty the ocassional innocent has to die by mistake, so too bad, kill him.
The person is guilty of a capital crime.
The person directly attacked someone else with the intent to kill.
The person was stealing or damaging property.
A civilian killed in a war against a country thhat attacked us.
A civilian killed in a war with a country that did not attack us.
The civilian is killed in a war fought on false premises.
The civilian is killed in a war that didnn't need to be fought.
The civilian is killed in a military action to achieve a geopolitical goal.
A soldier dies in a war against a country thhat attacked us.
A soldier dies in a war against a country thhat did not attack us..
The soldier dies in a war fought on false premises.

And so on.

I accept, as most so-called pro-lifers do, the premise that sometimes one has to kill another person. I am far far more reluctant to justify the killing of a person who can think and feel than one who can't. I also am far far more inclined to support killing in real self-dfense than in aggression. I don't thinnk the death of innocents is acceptable to have a death penalty and I don't think it is of to kill in defense of property.

Antiabortionists who support the death penalty and the war in Iraq cannnot legitmately claim to be more prolife that annyone else. They simply put a higher value on a person who cannot think or feel than on those who can. If they want to oppose abortion, fine. The claim to being "pro-life" is false.

Comment from the Swiss corner: correlation is correlation, independent of the analyst's viewpoint. However, on the flipside, the conclusions one draws from correlation can well be full of potholes, even if said correlation is both valid and strong. If the economists in question have found a correlation and their paper has passed peer review, then I'd go with the correlation being factual. Their conclusions, on the other hand, are fair game for questioning. If A and B are highly correlated, the conclusion that B caused A doesn't stand without quite a bit of further work.

They seem extremely likely to have set out to prove their point by any means necessary:

Sheer speculation. Like I said, if you had anything valid or substantive to add here, why not bring it up?

You obviously have lots of time and mental energy: Why not come up with some inventive reason why STD rates would have risen after abortion was legalized in several different rates (even prior to Roe, e.g., New York)? And while you're at it, explain why abortion legalization would have had zero effect on the way that people think about sex and birth control. (Try not to assume that 100% of people are complete morons whose behavior is 100% unaffected by the law. Come up with something more creative.)

after abortion was legalized in several different STATES

lily: I think this entire discussion is off-point. I made the statement way upthread that those who claim to be pro-life need to be challenged because everybody thinks it's ok to kill people and people who make a big issue out of fertilized eggs are not inherently more pro-life than anyone else.
I'll stand by that and no one has refuted it.

Good points, Lily.

Niels, I think you and I have clobbered each other enough: without either of us conceding victory or defeat, care to return to the direction of discussion Lily proposes?

LOL Niels, I thought we were discussing the best way to prevent abortions and unnessecary death. And suddenly we discuss STD's. Well, I found your Klick/Stratmann study ("We find that gonorrhea and syphilis incidences are significantly and positively correlated with abortion legalization"). But STD's are correlated to Christianity, didn't you know?.

"In general," writes the author, Gregory Paul, "higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies."

A striking example of this is the US, which has the highest degrees of religious faith and the highest rates of homicide, abortion, STD infection and teenage pregnancy. The least religious countries - Japan, France and Scandinavia - have the lowest rates of violent crime, juvenile mortality and abortion.

About the report I linked to: the sentence immediately following your quote was:"The experiences of a few countries are illustrative. In Tunisia and the United States, abortion levels increased for some years following legalization in the early 1970s, then began to come down in the late 1980s or early 1990s."

There are many facts, comparisons and correlations in the report. But the general conclusion is still that availability of contraception and educating the public has more impact on abortion figures than legalisations has.

In the Netherlands the abortion figures went up after educational programs lost most of the government subsidies. It is now 8.5 per 1000 woman (it was 6 per 1000). By comparison: the US figure is 22 per 1000. Abortions in the Netherlands are easily available for everybody, and are free.

About your connection with STD's: AFAIK getting abortions is more difficult in the south of the US, because there are less places where you can get them. The south however has more STD's :

The southern region of the United States consists of the District of Columbia and 16 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. This region has consistently had higher reported rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis than the other regions of the country (Northeast, Midwest, and West)

OMG, you're not citing the Gregory Paul "study," are you? That has got to be the most incompetent "study" ever released. The guy merely eyeballed stats on a chart, while explicitly refusing to control for any other factors. And he has no expertise in that area at all; he's only known as a freelance paleontologist, whatever that means. There are all kinds of devastating rebuttals to his "study." Use Google.

Lily, let's take your list:


The person is ann unwanted fertilized egg. I'd prefer no killing here, but it doesn't seem like the hugest crime in the world. I assume you're talking about RU-486, since you mention "fertilized egg."

We need to add something to the list, though, to deal with the subject of . . . you know . . . abortion

Here's my addition:

The person is a 12-week-old fetus with a heartbeat, brain waves, fully functioning nervous circulatory and nervous systems, fingers and toes, etc., and the proposed means of death is to rip off the person's limbs and other body parts, piece by piece.

Not OK. Sorry.

The person for whatever reason hs no brain function beyond brain stem activity

Not sure about this one.

The person is dying anyway and wants to expidate the process

I don't believe in suicide, but if people want to kill themselves, they are obviously free to do so. I certainly wouldn't allow anyone else to "assist," however -- that sort of "assistance" could very easily degenerate into pressure from family members who want a bigger inheritance, insurance companies who put pressure on the doctors, etc.


The person is dying painfully and there is no hope of improvement

Same.

The person is innocent but convicted of a capital offense. Unfotunately in order to have the death penalty the ocassional innocent has to die by mistake, so too bad, kill him.

Not OK.

The person is guilty of a capital crime.

If they really are guilty, I'm not going to shed any tears, even though I'm not a death penalty proponent; I can think of a million higher priorities.

The person directly attacked someone else with the intent to kill.

Are we talking about killing that person by execution? Or self-defense? I don't know if I'd support the death penalty for attempted murder, but I'd damn sure be willing to kill someone who came after me or my family.

The person was stealing or damaging property.

No. If you're the property owner, a warning shot should suffice. Or maybe aim for the leg. No killing.

As for the rest of your examples, you're being slippery: Are you talking about deliberate killings or incidental killings? No one supports the notion of killing civilians ON PURPOSE in any kind of war. But at the same time, all wars inevitably end up killing some civilians by accident. Are those accidental killings wrong? In some sense, yes, but given that I'm not a pacifist, I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean.

Niels: No one supports the notion of killing civilians ON PURPOSE in any kind of war.

Only if you employ a very slippery definition of "on purpose", Niels. Otherwise, simply not true. When an airstrike is launched at a building - or a city - where civilians live, then of course, those who order the airstrike are killing civilians on purpose.

Of course, you could argue that since their intent is something other than killing civilians, the civilians they kill aren't killed on purpose. By that argument, a woman who terminates her pregnancy isn't killing a fetus: her intent is to terminate her pregnancy. Is this really a logical step you want to take?

Of course, you could argue that since their intent is something other than killing civilians, the civilians they kill aren't killed on purpose. By that argument, a woman who terminates her pregnancy isn't killing a fetus: her intent is to terminate her pregnancy.

Those two situations aren't analogous at all.

1. "I intend to kill enemy soldiers. I know that civilians may die in the operation, and I'll do everything within my power to limit their deaths, but my real intent is to kill the soldiers."

2. "I intend to 'terminate my pregnancy,' by the sole means of killing the fetus. I will not do everything in my power to preserve the fetus's life. Quite the contrary -- I'm specifically paying the doctor to end the fetus's life, not to do anything else."

What's really more analogous would be the nuclear bombings of Japan in WWII. Those were operations that consisted solely of killing civilians, just as abortion consists solely of killing a fetus. An evasive and euphemistic general might have said, "Yes, I did specifically order the killing of civilians, but I did not intend to kill civilians; my real underlying intent was to inspire fear in the heart of Japan's leaders and to cause them to withdraw from the Pacific." No matter: If you drop a bomb on civilians with the intent that they die, it doesn't matter that you claim your underlying motivation was some deeper cause.

Same for abortion: If you order an operation that rips the fetus's limbs off, you have intentionally killed the fetus, no matter if you want to pretend that your underlying motivation was something else.

J is confusing "intent" (as in, what does someone intend to do) with "motivation" (as in, for what psychological reason did that person commit the intentional action).

Niels: I'm glad you think controlling for other factors and expertise in the field are important. But why do you believe the Klick/Stratmann study than?

As Slartibartfest explained: even if there is correlation you have to prove that it is causal too. The second link (from the CDC) seems to confirm that there are area's in the US were abortion rates are lower, abortions are less easy to get, and yet STD's are higher than the rest of the country.

Abortions are related to unwanted pregnancies, much much more that to legalisation. If you want to do something about abortions, you have to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

IOW: If I want to keep dry in the rain, I deliberately pick up an umbrella. My motivation was to keep dry. Still, I intentionally picked up the umbrella. It would be facetious to claim that my use of the umbrella was somehow unintentional because of my underlying motivation to keep dry.

Same for abortion. The woman who wants an abortion may be doing so solely for the reason that she doesn't want to experience pregnancy (I doubt this: I think most women who have abortions are more worried about having another child around for the next 18+ years). But to "terminate the pregnancy," she deliberately orders an operation that kills the fetus. Therefore, she intended the death of the fetus.

Most wartime situations are not so simple. A general wants to order the bombing of a particular building where a terrorist group is meeting. Realizing that too many civilians are inside, he sends in ground troops. Nonetheless, several civilians get killed. This situation is obviously different from the first two. While the civilians happened to have been killed in an action that the general intentionally ordered, it seems a mistake to say that the general intended to cause their deaths. Why a mistake? For one thing, it is not as if he said, "I want to kill these civilians; that is the sole means by which I will accomplish my objective here." To the contrary, he was trying to avoid the deaths of the civilians.

It would be as if the woman seeking a "pregnancy termination decided to wait until viability, have the fetus removed, and then have the doctors try to preserve the fetus's life, in spite of which the fetus died. THAT would be the only case where you could say, "This woman intended only to discontinue the pregnancy, not to kill the fetus."

Niels: 1. "I intend to kill enemy soldiers. I know that civilians may die in the operation, and I'll do everything within my power to limit their deaths, but my real intent is to kill the soldiers."

More accurately, especially with airstrikes:

1. "I intend to win this war with as few casualties on my side as possible. I know that this means civilians will be killed, many of them, but I've no intention of limiting their deaths: my real intent is to win with as few casualties as possible, and killing enemy civilians to win the war is acceptable to me."

2. "Damn. I don't want/can't afford/will be seriously ill/will die if I carry a fetus to term: got to terminate this pregnancy."

.If you drop a bomb on civilians with the intent that they die, it doesn't matter that you claim your underlying motivation was some deeper cause.

Quite. So why claim that no one supports the notion of killing civilians ON PURPOSE in any kind of war? In Japan, in Vietnam, in Iraq: yes, the US military do support the notion of killing civilians on purpose.

As Lily said.

Well, as I said, I doubt that very many women seek abortions SOLELY because they desire to avoid 9 months of pregnancy, as opposed to the desire to avoid having another child around the house.

What if you came to each abortion-seeking mother and said, "Thanks to the advances of medical sciences, we can painlessly remove the fetus from your body at any stage, incubate it, and then give you your baby back in a few months." How many women would say, "Sure, I'm happy to have a new baby, I just wanted to avoid the pregnancy part?" Not many, I'd bet. What most of them want (or what most of them seek at the behest of parents or boyfriends) is for the fetus to be dead and gone.

Niels: Well, as I said, I doubt that very many women seek abortions SOLELY because they desire to avoid 9 months of pregnancy, as opposed to the desire to avoid having another child around the house.

Have you ever tried to talk with women who had an abortion and are content and happy that they did? Or rather, have you ever tried to listen to them? Have you ever considered the health risks of pregnancy in itself? Somehow I doubt it.

Obviously, the responsibility of a child being brought into the world is a significant one. In the US, according to Planned Parenthood statistics, the majority of abortions are chosen in part because of economic necessity. Of course real pro-lifers, as opposed to ideological "pro-lifers", would want to amend the economic reasons for needing to have an abortion: but that's not something of interest to you.

The argument that all unwanted fetuses ought to be born so that wannabe parents can adopt them works if you're Ceausescu and don't care about the thousands of children left to die in orphanages.) If we could pretend that if all the unwanted fetuses in the US were painlessly removed, placed in growth tanks, and birthed by machine at 9 months, and then handed to the responsible, caring "pro-lifers" to take care of... well, one result would be that there would be so many fewer declared "pro-lifers". But even if we assumed compulsory parenthood for all those who advocate it, it would be a horribly cruel thing to do: a person who advocates that women who don't want to be pregnant should be legally compelled to bear children is unlikely to be an ideal parent - especially not given the number of children they'd end up being compelled to care for. Ceausescu's orphanages all over again.

Of course real pro-lifers, as opposed to ideological "pro-lifers", would want to amend the economic reasons for needing to have an abortion: but that's not something of interest to you.

Says you, who knows nothing about me. You'd be surprised what I support, but I maintain that it's none of your business, because my opposition to killing unborn life doesn't depend on my support for welfare or other programs. (Indeed, the real hypocrisy is all on your side: Ooze with crocodile tears for all of the hardships suffered by poor people, but turn a blind eye to the unborn baby whose skull is being crushed.)

Also, it is very ignorant to claim that "economic reasons" are the only reasons that women have abortions. A lot of abortions are obtained by rich and upper-class girls, 1) who simply don't want to have children yet; 2) whose parents insist on an abortion to save face among their own friends; etc., etc.

Neils, Thank you for responding to my list.
One of the values of discussing things in the "when is it ok to kill" framework instead of the "pro-life-pro-chioce" dichotomy is it turns out that there is more common ground than not. For example you and I seem to agree that the morning after pill isn't murder ( some anti-abortin folks would disagree). I didn't phrase my death penalty sentence very well. I meant to get at the fact that it is impossible to have a death penalty without killing the innocent by mistake. Given that fact I am opposed to the death penalty. Otherwise I would probably favor it. There should be separate sentences for killing civilians in war accidently and killing them deliberately. The firebombig of Dresden and the bombing of Hiroshima, for ecxample, were the deliberate killings of civilians as was the Rape of Nanking and the Seige of Leningrad. I suppose there should be a further distiction between killing people with conventional weapons and kiling them through starvation, rape, or burial alive. It isn't possible to list everything!

I genral in can think of three continuums (continimi?), one from capable of consciousness to not capable of consciousness, one from defensive action to aggressive action, and one from at the request of the person to against the will of the person. Maybe you can think of another continuum. In general I think that it is immoral to kill on the aggressive, against the person's will, capable of consciousness ends but more likely to be moral to kill on the defensive, not capable of consciousness, wants to die end.
I can see that there are gray areas and middle grounds on all of thses continuums which is why I object so strongly to the term "pro-life" I don't think that term is justified based soley on a person's stance on abortion. I think that to call one'sself "pro-life" one would have to be extremely, maybe completely, opposed to killing all across all of the continuums.

Niels: because my opposition to killing unborn life doesn't depend on my support for welfare or other programs.

To quote Jim Henley: "Don’t talk to me about the suffering you’d bravely inflict on someone else. Tell me the cost you yourself would pay. Those are the “tough choices.”"

Of course, he was talking about something else, but following this discussion, it did strike me that it was a perfect rejoinder to the usual run of right-wing male "pro-lifer", too. (There was a subplot in Sheri S. Tepper's novel The Fresco of male "pro-lifers" being taken at their word and used as hosts for alien offspring: it was almost too neat to be really satisfying.)

Well, women are more likely to be pro-life than men. Not quite as easy to caricature their views.

Women are more likely to be pro-life than men. Of course, it's not quite as easy to caricature their views, although I'm sure you'd manage to do it (since your modus operandi is to attack the individual rather than address the merits of any particular argument).

Don’t talk to me about the suffering you’d bravely inflict on someone else.

Oh cry me a river. Don't want to "suffer"? Easy: Don't choose to 1) have sex, or 2) fail to use birth control. If you make the wrong choices and a baby comes along, don't come crying to me over the fact that you can't kill the baby to get out of your self-created mess.

Niels: Women are more likely to be pro-life than men.

Agreed. But pro-life, not your brand of ideological "pro-life" women-should-suffer-and-die only-fetal-lives-matter "pro-life".

Easy: Don't choose to 1) have sex, or 2) fail to use birth control.

"Don’t talk to me about the suffering you’d bravely inflict on someone else. Tell me the cost you yourself would pay. Those are the “tough choices.”"

When I give my support to laws against embezzling, is it appropriate to respond, "Don't tell me about the suffering you'd bravely inflict on all of these poor souls. Tell me what you would personally do to help out would-be embezzlers"?

although I'm sure you'd manage to do it (since your modus operandi is to attack the individual rather than address the merits of any particular argument).

flashback:


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

Pot, I'd like to introduce you to my good friend, Kettle.

It seems rather...petty to bring up a (wholly unrelated) dispute from another blog.

(more from Mr. Jackson on the contentious subject of abortion here.)


Niels: When I give my support to laws against embezzling, is it appropriate to respond, "Don't tell me about the suffering you'd bravely inflict on all of these poor souls. Tell me what you would personally do to help out would-be embezzlers"?

I think it's rather telling that you perceive pregnant women as embezzlers. One might wonder what you think they have embezzled, and Freud would probably have an answer... :-)

"Niels: Women are more likely to be pro-life than men.

Agreed. But pro-life, not your brand of ideological "pro-life" women-should-suffer-and-die only-fetal-lives-matter "pro-life".
."

No, women are statistically more likely to be "pro-life" in the sense of "anti-abortion". And I strongly suspect you knew that is what he was saying.

Sebastian: No, women are statistically more likely to be "pro-life" in the sense of "anti-abortion". And I strongly suspect you knew that is what he was saying.

Now do you mean really anti-abortion - wanting fewer abortions to take place, and those to be safe and legal? Sure. But you see, I think he meant the ideological mindset that wants abortions to be illegal, unsafe, and dangerous: which is not "anti-abortion" - it's pro-death. Women are much more likely to be anti-abortion: men are much more likely to want abortion to be illegal. It's very easy, as Jim Henley pointed out, to be brave and resolute about the price you want other people to pay.

Freud would probably have an answer

That got a chuckle even from me.

I think it's rather telling that you perceive pregnant women as embezzlers

Do you understand the concept of an "analogy"? It's where you compare two things that are alike in one respect (here, because both embezzling and abortion are activities that are wrong) but not alike in other respects (here, anything else).

Again, interesting that you refuse to say anything to the merits of an argument. The argument is this: All kinds of activities are wrong. Many wrong activities are, in fact, illegal. You seem to be conceding that abortion is wrong (at least for the sake of argument), but you claim that I'm somehow inconsistent for wanting it to be illegal without also swearing allegiance to a myriad of governmental programs that would supposedly reduce the "need" for abortion.

So, for what other activity that is wrong would you say, "You have no right to make it illegal unless you are personally willing to help out all the wrongdoers"? Drug dealers? Embezzlers? Wife abusers? ("How dare you make wife abuse illegal unless you're willing to support additional government unemployment programs to ease the stress that working-class men feel?")

I think it's rather telling that you perceive pregnant women as embezzlers

Do you understand the concept of an "analogy"? It's where you compare two things that are alike in one respect (here, because both embezzling and abortion are activities that are wrong) but not alike in other respects (here, anything else).

Again, interesting that you refuse to say anything to the merits of an argument. The argument is this: All kinds of activities are wrong. Many wrong activities are, in fact, illegal. You seem to be conceding that abortion is wrong (at least for the sake of argument), but you claim that I'm somehow inconsistent for wanting it to be illegal without also swearing allegiance to a myriad of governmental programs that would supposedly reduce the "need" for abortion.

So, for what other activity that is wrong would you say, "You have no right to make it illegal unless you are personally willing to help out all the wrongdoers"? Drug dealers? Embezzlers? Wife abusers? ("How dare you make wife abuse illegal unless you're willing to support additional government unemployment programs to ease the stress that working-class men feel?")

I think it's rather telling that you perceive pregnant women as embezzlers

Do you understand the concept of an "analogy"? It's where you compare two things that are alike in one respect (here, because both embezzling and abortion are activities that are wrong) but not alike in other respects (here, anything else).

Again, interesting that you refuse to say anything to the merits of an argument. The argument is this: All kinds of activities are wrong. Many wrong activities are, in fact, illegal. You seem to be conceding that abortion is wrong (at least for the sake of argument), but you claim that I'm somehow inconsistent for wanting it to be illegal without also swearing allegiance to a myriad of governmental programs that would supposedly reduce the "need" for abortion.

So, for what other activity that is wrong would you say, "You have no right to make it illegal unless you are personally willing to help out all the wrongdoers"? Drug dealers? Embezzlers? Wife abusers? ("How dare you make wife abuse illegal unless you're willing to support additional government unemployment programs to ease the stress that working-class men feel?")

A poll from the Center for the Advancement of Women:

WomenÕs opinions on the issue of abortion itself are sharply divided, and entrenched. Only one-third (34%) of women say abortion should be generally available to those who want it. Forty-five percent hold the opposite view and want access to abortion limited: 31 percent want it limited only to cases of rape, incest and to save the woman's life and 14 percent say abortion should never be permitted. Nineteen percent of women prefer a middle ground, saying abortion should be available, but under new limitations. These might include limitations, for example, on the timing of abortions, or on the steps that must be taken before a woman can have an abortion.
So what was that you were saying about imposing burdens on other people? Not quite as easy to bring up that spurious allegation here.

Frank Newport, the editor and chief of the Gallup Poll, says the study's (by the the Center for the Advancement of Women) findings on abortions are fairly consistent with their polls, which have remained virtually the same over the last quarter century. In the most recent Gallup survey released in May, 25 percent of Americans said abortion should be legal in all circumstances, while 19 percent thought it should be illegal in all circumstances. "That leaves the big hunk of Americans in this gray zone of ambivalence that favor some restrictions," Newport says in an interview with Women's eNews.

Anti-choice and pro-choice groups will often combine the numbers on each end of the spectrum with the number of people in the middle to tip the balance in their favor.

"The pro-life people like to say most people want restrictions or to eliminate abortion, while the pro-choice people like to say most people favor abortion with some conditions," Newport says. "The bottom line is most Americans operate in a zone of ambivalence . . . but the majority do not want to completely do away with abortion."
link

Yeah, it is a bit hard to bring up spurious allegations here, which is why we regulars like it so much here.

Thanks for the word of support, LJ.

Niels, I think you misunderstand, I don't particularly support what you've written, and the key phrase is "most Americans operate in a zone of ambivalence". You've lashed out at Slarti and you seem intent on having a knock down drag out, which is your prerogative, but the quote was to suggest that _everyone_ is spinning things to a certain extent because most Americans are in the middle and understand it is a difficult decision that is fraught with ramifications. Taking a step back might be a good thing, especially since the erstwhile topic of the post is only obliquely related to abortion. I thought by not addressing anyone in particular, it might be more effective.

Niels: Do you understand the concept of an "analogy"?

Do you understand the concept of a "joke"?

Niels: Do you understand the concept of an "analogy"?

Do you understand the concept of a "joke"?

OK, here's a joke:

* * *

Some men beat their wives. In the privacy of their own homes, mind you, which is but one reason that the government should not intrude into that sacrosanct realm. More importantly, however, we have to understand the broad social forces that drive men to beat their wives. Many wife-beaters are blue collar workers, and a substantial number are unemployed. Many are alcoholics or drug abusers, or have various psychiatric illnesses that make it hard for them to control violent urges. Many of them were abused themselves as children, and have a hard time overcoming that baggage.

In short, we should pity these men. Far from making what they do illegal, we should think of ways to ease their stress, help them to cope with violent urges, provide psychiatric and other help where needed, provide unemployment insurance, and provide good childcare (to lessen the stress of children in the home).

If someone doesn't support all of these programs, I refuse to listen to them say that wife-beating is wrong. Easy for them to say, when they're imposing the burden on someone else.

* * *

Now: To repeat, that was a joke. But it is 100% identical to the position that J has staked out on abortion. That is, it 1) ignores the wrongness of the action in question; 2) puts all of the focus on trying to help the wrongdoer; and 3) shuts people out of the debate if they decline to agree that more governmental programs are the answer.

So, how about it? Is J's position good for any issues except abortion?

Niels, some men rape their daughters.

You're arguing that a girl of 14 shouldn't be allowed to terminate a pregnancy engendered by her father's rape, because it's so much more important to you to consider the welfare of the fetus than it is to consider a raped girl's mental and physical health: a raped girl aged 14 is, in your eyes, the equivalent of an adult man beating his wife.

Your comparison of a woman's right to control her own body with a wife-beater's claim to have the right to "control" his wife, or his claim to have the right to do whatever he likes to his family in his home, is doubtless also Freudianly interesting... if more than a little sickening.

The analogy works for me, though, if you look at the best method of preventing men from beating their wives. In part it's social attitudes - it's no longer legal or acceptable for a man to beat his wife. But the social attitudes come from the following feminist changes:
-economic independence: a man who beats his wife can't assume she won't leave him because she has no means of supporting herself and her children unless she stays with him.
-shelters for battered women in most cities, which means a woman has somewhere to go if she leaves a violent man.
-changes to divorce law: It is much easier for a woman to get divorced from a man than it used to be, and easier for her to get restraining orders, and to get the police to take violence by men against wives seriously.

Now, if a man claims to be actively against wife-beating, it would be fair to ask him: does he also support economic independence for women, family-friendly working conditions enabling a single woman with children to get and keep a job, women-only shelters that men aren't allowed to set foot in, and no-fault divorce so that a woman doesn't have to provide evidence her husband was beating her before she can get shut of him. Now if a man claimed to be opposed to wife-beating, but turned out to be also opposed to all of the above, it would be fair to say that he isn't in fact opposed to men being able to beat their wives; he isn't prepared to support any of the societal changes that lead to less of it.

Similiarly, a man who claims to be opposed to abortion, but in fact only supports making abortion illegal, can't be taken seriously as someone who's anti-abortion: what he actually wants are illegal abortions, not fewer abortions.

Now, if a man claims to be actively against wife-beating, it would be fair to ask him: does he also support economic independence for women, family-friendly working conditions enabling a single woman with children to get and keep a job, women-only shelters that men aren't allowed to set foot in, and no-fault divorce so that a woman doesn't have to provide evidence her husband was beating her before she can get shut of him. Now if a man claimed to be opposed to wife-beating, but turned out to be also opposed to all of the above, it would be fair to say that he isn't in fact opposed to men being able to beat their wives; he isn't prepared to support any of the societal changes that lead to less of it.


And therefore wife-beating should be legal? That's your logic on abortion, but do you not see how it's a non sequitur?


You're arguing that a girl of 14 shouldn't be allowed to terminate a pregnancy engendered by her father's rape,


I'm arguing that? Wow. I had no idea. I actually never said anything about the .001% of abortions that result from such situations. But thanks for putting words in my mouth. (FYI, I'm actually more concerned about the garden variety abortion that makes up 99% of the cases -- a woman who simply doesn't want an additional child, or who is responding to the wishes of a man who doesn't want an additional child.)

Your comparison of a woman's right to control her own body with a wife-beater's claim to have the right to "control" his wife, or his claim to have the right to do whatever he likes to his family in his home, is doubtless also Freudianly interesting... if more than a little sickening.

What do you think of the practice of D&X -- puncturing a baby's skull and suctioning out the brains? Or D&E -- taking metal tongs and ripping off the baby's arms, legs, and other body parts? Some people do that for a living. And you defend them. So enough with the "sickening" language.


And therefore wife-beating should be legal?

Niels, you are the one who equates a woman terminating an unwanted pregnancy to a man beating up his wife or his girlfriend: I don't, so don't pretend I do.

I'm arguing that? Wow. I had no idea.

You are arguing that a woman terminating an unwanted pregnancy is committing murder. If that's truly, really, what you believe, then plainly not even rape would justify abortion. Your argument is that when a woman who is raped goes into a clinic and has the pregnancy terminated, she is committing an identical crime to the one she commits when she goes into the rapist's office and shoots him dead.

So enough with the "sickening" language.

If you find the detailed descriptions of surgery "sickening", Niels, my best advice to you is to avoid reading them. All surgical procedures are "sickening" to those unaccustomed to them: but for you to justify the 9-month torment of a teenage girl raped by her father because you cannot bear to think of how the termination of her pregnancy will be carried out: that's your squeamishness overriding her desperate need.

Niels, you are the one who equates a woman terminating an unwanted pregnancy to a man beating up his wife or his girlfriend: I don't, so don't pretend I do.

Jeez, talk about not getting the point. The point is, why would you argue that men who fail to support the right programs aren't really opposed to wife-beating? Just to make a rhetorical point? Or to argue that wife-beating should be legal? Obviously the former. It's not the case that wife-beating should be legal if wife-beating opponents fail to support the right programs.

Same for abortion. You're full of self-righteous denunciations of me and any other person who supposedly fails to support the right government programs but who wants abortion to be illegal anyway. What's your point there? Just to say, "Boo, I don't like you"? Or to argue that abortion should not be made illegal until and unless such programs are in place (and probably not even then)?


If you find the detailed descriptions of surgery "sickening", Niels, my best advice to you is to avoid reading them.

You can't tell the difference between genuine surgery (intended to remove a tumor or remove an artery blockage or replace a hip socket) and an operation whose sole purpose is to kill? It's all "surgery"?


You are arguing that a woman terminating an unwanted pregnancy is committing murder. If that's truly, really, what you believe, then plainly not even rape would justify abortion.

Wrong. Allowing abortion in cases of rape or serious health risk to the mother is, IMHO, directly analogous to the self-defense exception that allows you to kill an adult without penalty.

As to the first point: Do you concede that wife-beating should be illegal, regardless of what "programs" that people support or don't support? If so, why don't you realize that the same logic applies to abortion? I may in fact support all the government programs that you claim to support, but I don't even want to go there, because it is insulting and morally irrelevant to claim that I am somehow barred from opposing abortion (or any other form of killing) until I prove that I'm a good person in your eyes by signing up to support various programs.

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Jesurgislac: In the Netherlands the law says that the baby should be considered a person from the time it could in all likelihood survive outside the womb. In theory that is 24 weeks, in practise no abortions are performed after 22 weeks.

The point is, why would you argue that men who fail to support the right programs aren't really opposed to wife-beating?

As I explained: if they don't want to change any of the social structures that mean men can beat their wives with impunity, plainly they're not opposed to wife-beating.

Similiarly, if you don't want to work towards a society where economic hardship leads to women terminating a pregnancy because she can't afford to have another child:

Stassen's study found credible linkages between economic hardship and abortion. Two-thirds of women who abort say they cannot afford a child; half of women who abort say they do not have a reliable mate and co-breadwinner; and women of childbearing age are over-represented in the 5.2 million additional persons without health coverage since 2000. cite
then how can you expect anyone to believe you're really opposed to abortion? If all you want is to make abortion illegal, then all you want is more illegal abortions.

Allowing abortion in cases of rape or serious health risk to the mother is, IMHO, directly analogous to the self-defense exception that allows you to kill an adult without penalty.

We do not permit a woman who has been raped to kill her rapist days after the event (indeed, women who killed a rapist hours after the event have been charged and convicted of murder). Yet you're now arguing that a raped woman ought to be allowed to terminate pregnancy from rape - a serious inconsistency from your previous assertions that abortion is murder.

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

This suggest to me that far from perceiving abortion as murder, you perceive pregnancy as a just punishment: a woman who chose to have sex deserves to be punished, whereas a raped woman didn't choose to have sex and therefore can be allowed an abortion.

If you sincerely thought that abortion was murder, you would oppose it even in the case of rape. You don't; so, clearly, you don't. End of story.

You can't tell the difference between genuine surgery (intended to remove a tumor or remove an artery blockage or replace a hip socket) and an operation whose sole purpose is to kill? It's all "surgery"?

Terminating a pregnancy is an operation whose sole purpose is to save a woman from an unwanted pregnancy. It's your interpretation that you're arguing - your squeamishness that you're elevating to a moral force - and, as I've just demonstrated, your claims to object to abortion on the grounds that it's all killing fall over when you admit that you'd let it happen in case of rape.

(What that amounts to, of course, if your proposed system was implemented, is that any woman who wanted to terminate an unwanted pregnancy would simply tell the doctor she was raped but prefers not to go the police: effectively, abortion on demand, the only cost the woman being forced to lie to get it. Which would be wrong, but at least it would be abortion on demand...)

Marbel: Jesurgislac: In the Netherlands the law says that the baby should be considered a person from the time it could in all likelihood survive outside the womb. In theory that is 24 weeks, in practise no abortions are performed after 22 weeks.

In the UK, the timelimit on abortions is 28 weeks. In practice, this works out to 24 weeks, unless of course a termination is needed for the survival of the mother. I gather that most states in the US have similiar rules, either self-imposed by the medical profession or superimposed by the state: CDC data on terminations makes clear that, as in most countries where abortion is legal, the vast majority of abortions are carried out in the first trimester, and almost none in the third.

This suggest to me that far from perceiving abortion as murder, you perceive pregnancy as a just punishment: a woman who chose to have sex deserves to be punished, whereas a raped woman didn't choose to have sex and therefore can be allowed an abortion.

If you sincerely thought that abortion was murder, you would oppose it even in the case of rape. You don't; so, clearly, you don't. End of story.

Did I ever say that abortion is "murder"? No. You're putting words in my mouth again. Can you respond to anything other than strawman arguments? I don't think abortion is murder (if it occurs early enough), but it's still bad enough that I don't want it to happen. (Think of all the things that you believe are less awful than murder -- say, cheating on taxes, or corporal punishment in schools, or whatever -- but that you still want to be prohibited. Now try to imagine that I feel the same way about abortion. That is, if you intend to respond to anything that I actually say, rather than figments of your own imagination.)

Terminating a pregnancy is an operation whose sole purpose is to save a woman from an unwanted pregnancy.

What a euphemistic way of thinking. Gee, let's ask ourselves: How is it proposed to "save a woman from an unwanted pregnancy"? By removing the baby after viability and nurturing it to a healthy life? No. By killing it.

Very interesting that even the most devout feminists can't admit that the whole point of abortion is to kill a life. What are you so afraid of?

You're like someone who says, "Dropping a nuclear bomb is an operation whose sole purpose is to avoid a longer war," as if saying that the purpose is to avoid war means you get to ignore the deaths deliberately caused in the bombing.

In the UK, the timelimit on abortions is 28 weeks. In practice, this works out to 24 weeks, unless of course a termination is needed for the survival of the mother.

Not that far apart then :). Though thermination because of the health of the mother is either an emergency ceasarian or induced labour - baby is supposed to survive.

Yes, in the US 88% of the abortions are in the first trimester. If you look at the data Liberal Japonicus posted, I think the majority of people would be fine with a system where abortion was freely available in more or less the first trimester, needed serious grounds in the second trimester and would not happen in the third trimester (emergency birth is not the same as an abortion imho, since the baby supposedly survives). Maybe with a restriction about how the live of the mother takes precedence of the live of the baby unless otherwise specified by the mother.

The group that thinks abortion is murder from the moment of conception is rather small, even Niels has a certain time limit if I read his posts correctly.

I actually think that a law is better than a judicial decision for important things like that. But the US system is so different from how we work that the legal discussion is beyond me :)

There are a few difficulties though. First the distrust in the US. I find that I (and most Dutch people, don't know about the Brits) have much more trust in the good intentions and responsibilities of our government and even of the opposition in politics. In abortion discussions in the States I generally find that people don't dare to compromise because they are afraid people will start abusing the options, will find a loophole to get their way anyway.

The next problem is that in the US abortions - even legal ones - are less available that in our countries. Which means that women that need an abortion can't always get one - or can't always get one in the first trimester. If you want to limit the abortions to more or less that timeframe you have to make abortions more easily available which requires measurements and policies that might be seen as promoting abortion.

Last but not least: the best way to prevent abortions is to prevent unwanted pregnancies. 50% of the US pregnancies is unwanted, a figure that really really stuns me. If you want less unwanted pregnancies you need better education, which is often seen as promoting extramarital underage sex, and you need a better availability of anti-conception. In the restrictive religious climate most of the US seems to have that is a hard goal to achieve.

"In the restrictive religious climate most of the US seems to have that is a hard goal to achieve."

By restrictive religious climate do you mean the kind where all people have freedom of religion like in the U.S. or do mean the kind of restrictions like the Dutch have where Moslems murder those who disagree with them?

If I was going to talk about a "restrictive" religious climate I think the Dutch would be a better example than the U.S.


Well Tim, you are more than welcome to come over and visit and judge for yourself :)

Any comments about the actual subject of this thread too?

Congratulations, dutchmarbel, on your restraint. Apparently they teach civility over there.

"Apparently they teach civility over there."

Along with passive aggressiveness. Funny, I thought calling the US a restrictive religious environment was uncivil. Especially coming from someone who lives in a country where you are murdered or have death threats if you disagree with a particular religious view.

If we read what Dutchmarbel actually wrote we see that the restrictive religous environment isn't really all that restrictive.

Yes, in the US 88% of the abortions are in the first trimester. If you look at the data Liberal Japonicus posted, I think the majority of people would be fine with a system where abortion was freely available in more or less the first trimester, needed serious grounds in the second trimester and would not happen in the third trimester (emergency birth is not the same as an abortion imho, since the baby supposedly survives). Maybe with a restriction about how the live of the mother takes precedence of the live of the baby unless otherwise specified by the mother.

The group that thinks abortion is murder from the moment of conception is rather small, even Niels has a certain time limit if I read his posts correctly.

Doesn't sound like the restrictive religious society has gone wacko just yet. Perhaps Dutch just doesn't understand that most parents think they should be in charge of raising their children. Even the Supreme court agreed with that just yesterday. That may be different from the Dutch model, but what's that got to do with religion?

"availability of anti-conception"

Well this is just plain wrong. Condoms are free all over the place in the U.S. not to mention abstinence the most effective and cost-efficient form of birth control.

Tim, from your comments I get the impression that you think the restrictions are a good thing. Yet me calling them restrictions is perceived as an insult?

The Dutch system is different indeed. What is it that you do not like about it, and why do you not like it?

Are condoms free all over the place in the US? And are they actually promoted and is the proper way to use them safely explained? Is it socially unacceptable to have sex without a condom?

Abstinence only is indeed theoretically the safest method (in my highschool days we always joked that the safest anti-conception pill was an asperin, as long as you held it between your knees). In practise however abstinence only programs are damaging for a lot of youngsters. You make sex special (and thus desirable) *and* you do not prepare the kids for having safe sex if they cannot resist the temptation.

If you really want to avoid abortions you have to start with having less unwanted pregnancies (50%... I am still amazed) and in order to do that you have to be realistic and look at what works. Your current administration has done her utmost to STOP proper education even if it means removing information about working policies.

Unfortunately policy makers have recently lost a good source of information about what works and what doesn't. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, commissioned a panel of external experts to carry out a rigorous review of various sex education programmes. The panel identified five strategies that were successful in reducing the rate of teenage pregnancy, all based on comprehensive sex education, and the details were posted on the organisation's website. But in 2002 that information disappeared and the CDC will no longer release it.

And that is domestic. Abortions and unwanted pregnancies are a major issue in the third world countries and Bush has refused to pay America's contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for the fourth successive year - even though the expenditure was approved by congress. The Netherlands actually decided to pay your contribution for you...

Niels: I don't think abortion is murder (if it occurs early enough), but it's still bad enough that I don't want it to happen.

Yet you're not prepared to do anything to make fewer abortions happen: all you want is to make sure that all the abortions that happen are illegal.

Now try to imagine that I feel the same way about abortion.

I can't. If you felt that abortion was wrong and shouldn't happen, you wouldn't want to force women to have illegal abortions: you would want to change society so that fewer unwanted pregnancies occurred. So long as you're arguing for illegal abortions and claiming that pregnancy is a suitable punishment for women who chose to have sex, I can't imagine that you feel as strongly about abortion as you evidently do about sexually active women who don't want to have children, because nothing you're saying suggests that you do.

Dutch,

"If you really want to avoid abortions you have to start with having less unwanted pregnancies"

I would say if YOU really want to avoid abortions you would start with having closer families. And I confess I am not taking the time to look up the statistics, but I would bet alot of money that kids that come from stable homes are less likely to get an abortion.

See you are not striking at the core of the problem. Weak family units. That is why I disagree with your position. Not because of religion.

You said we lived in a "restrictive religious climate" and I'm pretty sure you didn't mean it as a compliment. Did you?

First its not even an accurate statement. I've been to the red light district and I've been to Las Vegas. Take a little trip out of Vegas and you can have all the prositution you can handle. Our TV is just as graphic sexually as yours and our radio is probably more so. I think I recall a nude protest in San Francisco a couple of months ago. I was at a protest in Amsterdam and I did not get to see any naked breasts.

To me your society is more restrictive from a religous perspective because people get murdered for having opinions. We hunt those type of people down in our country even if it takes years and then send them to jail for life and maybe even execute them.

Some restrictions are good and have nothing to do with religion. You could have made all of your points without trying to bring in religion. Religion has very little to do with it for the majority of Americans. I think it is human nature to find it gross to harm a pregnant women. In the 3rd trimester most people can identify with the child independant of their religious belief. We even have laws that treat the baby as an individual before birth. That's not a religious law is a law based on human nature. I think it is good that we restrict people from murder, from speeding, from rape. Restrictions are neither evil nor religious in and of themselves.

The number of abortions in a country doesn't necessarily define a country as healthy and free of religion.

You like your system and that's great. I am fairly happy with ours. Your own post verifies that most Americans are okay with our limited abortion. Why must you try to force your value system on others?

"The Netherlands actually decided to pay your contribution for you..."

While we were busy paying for you to have a real military.

"Apparently they teach civility over there."

Along with passive aggressiveness.

Dutch, how dare you don't use pure aggressiveness but resort to this ersatz passive aggressiveness. If you really want to win the argument, you gotta go after the guy, not the argument. No wonder you Dutch have to have the US pull your butts out of the fire everytime. ;^)

I think the religious environment in the US is less restrictive than the Bush administration would like it to be and less restrictive than many relgious conservatives would like it to be. As TimT noted, by far most Americans favor access to very early abortion, especially VERY early abortion such as the morning after pill. However the extremist views have been prevailing in terms of national policy under this administration as Dutchmarbel's post demonstrates. I can add another example: the national protocols for the medical treatment of rape victims no longer include giving the victim a birth preventative.
Abstinence only education is not effective in preventing young people from conceiving babies. Abstinence, in my opinion, should be part of the curriculum but the main thrust of the curriculum should be responisbility and decisionmaking and contraceptive information needs to be included.
I also feel embarrased at the jeering tone directed toward Dutchmarbel.. She's a longtime poster and has been very patient and polite to you, Tim, and I think you should use the same tone to her.

Lily,

I don't understand why you and others think TimT is rude to point out that the Netherlands has more religious restrictions than the U.S.

Where would you rather make a movie that might cast Islam in a negative way, the Netherlands or the U.S.?

Where would you rather be a politician that criticized Islam?

It doesn't sound like Dutch was paying the U.S. a compliment in her analysis.

I don't see why Dutch is being civil by implying that the U.S. is a religiously intolerant society when hers seems to be far more dangerous.

TimT: To me your society is more restrictive from a religous perspective because people get murdered for having opinions. We hunt those type of people down in our country even if it takes years and then send them to jail for life and maybe even execute them.

According to Wikipedia, Theo Van Gogh's murderer was caught and was sentenced to life without parole. And are you seriously implying that nobody gets death threats, or even murdered, for their religious views in the U.S.?

It doesn't sound like Dutch was paying the U.S. a compliment in her analysis.

I didn't think that the point of an analysis was to pay compliments. If the fact that an analysis brings out bad points is automatically defined as being 'uncivil', well, you may want to check out some other blogs...

Yet you're not prepared to do anything to make fewer abortions happen: all you want is to make sure that all the abortions that happen are illegal.

As it happens, you're flat wrong. I'm willing to do plenty. Now that you know this, don't say otherwise -- you'll be lying. But I'm not willing to submit to an inquisition, or to bow and scrape before someone who imperiously says that I have no right to be against a form of killing until and unless I prove that I'm politically correct. Any more than you would like it if someone said, "Oh, you oppose wife-beating, do you? Well, prove to me that you're really interested in the problem by showing that you support unemployment programs, etc." You might well think, "Well, I do support those programs, but it's none of anyone's damn business to ask, as if wife-beating becomes legitimate when the right government programs aren't in place."

Now try to imagine that I feel the same way about abortion.

I can't.

Thanks for being honest. There's your problem, though: You can't even imagine how pro-lifers think. In fact, you can't really say that you disagree with pro-lifers -- you don't even know what you're disagreeing with. You're disagreeing with straw men. As is seen in the following passage:


If you felt that abortion was wrong and shouldn't happen, you wouldn't want to force women to have illegal abortions:

This is silly. "If you felt that stealing was wrong, you wouldn't want to force people to do it illegally." That doesn't even compute. I'm not forcing anyone to steal illegally -- that's the choice that they make. And of course, if stealing is illegal, there will be less of it going on, because at least some people will be deterred, or will make the right choice.

you would want to change society so that fewer unwanted pregnancies occurred.


False dilemma. Let's do both. Plus, you're operating on two false assumptions: 1) That all "unwanted" pregnancies are created equal (some are wanted by the female but unwanted by the male, who -- thanks to legal abortion -- is far better able to pressure the female into making that choice. Moreover, some people who go through with "unwanted" pregnancies find their lives immeasurably enriched by the children who result.) 2) That the number of "unwanted" pregnancies would stay the same. This is false -- we've been through this all above, so you should know by now that making abortion illegal makes at least some people more careful in their sexual behavior (esp. men).

So long as you're arguing for illegal abortions and claiming that pregnancy is a suitable punishment for women who chose to have sex,


Caricature alert! I don't argue that pregnancy is a "suitable punishment." I happen to love children, and I don't think they're a punishment at all. They're a reward. But when people try to kill them at the early stages of life, I think there's something wrong, and that people ought to be adult enough to take responsibility for their actions. (Side note: Nice game you've got going here. If I say that abortion should never be allowed, you immediately leap to the inflammatory hypothetical of the 14-year-old raped by her father. But if I say that I'd make a tiny exception in this situation, you immediately accuse me of 1) inconsistency, 2) not really caring about the fetus at all, 3) wanting only to punish women, etc.)

I can't imagine that you feel as strongly about abortion as you evidently do about sexually active women who don't want to have children, because nothing you're saying suggests that you do.

Nothing that I'm saying? More evidence that you blow right past anything that I say that doesn't fit your predetermined caricature. Have you missed the posts where I absolutely decry the practice of ripping fetuses apart, limb from limb? Or suctioning out their brains? Obviously so: When you read such passages, the only thing that you can say is, "It's surgery," as if any other "surgical" operation is designed for the sole purpose of killing.

I said: Nice game you've got going here. If I say that abortion should never be allowed, you immediately leap to the inflammatory hypothetical of the 14-year-old raped by her father. But if I say that I'd make a tiny exception in this situation, you immediately accuse me of 1) inconsistency, 2) not really caring about the fetus at all, 3) wanting only to punish women, etc.

It strikes me that pro-war people would find the same sort of argument style very useful. Imagine an anti-war person who says, "It's wrong to kill civilians in war." Then the pro-war people say, "But what if the Allies are about to liberate 6 million Jews from concentration camps right before they're put to death, and the only way to conduct the operation involves a civilian death somewhere along the line?" [That is, the pro-war people come up with the most one-sided hypothetical that they can imagine.]

Then, the anti-war person is trapped (just as you're trying to trap me). If she says, "No, it's still wrong to do something that kills a civilian," the pro-war people respond, "How heartless! You'd allow 6 million Jews to die for your rigid ideological beliefs."

But if the anti-war person says, "OK, I'd allow an exception in that situation," the pro-war people say, "Aha, what a hypocrite! You don't really care about the lives of civilians one bit!"

Of course, if the anti-war person is smart, she'd say, "You're not arguing honestly or in good faith here. You're just trying to find excuses for killing civilians without any limitations whatsoever."

Niels: As it happens, you're flat wrong. I'm willing to do plenty.

*shrug* Yet you were unwilling to say so earlier, and you claim this is because my questions were an "inquisition". Further, you were making wild claims that "A lot of abortions are obtained by rich and upper-class girls, 1) who simply don't want to have children yet" which doesn't sound in the least like someone who's aware of the economic need to terminate a pregnancy, but rather like someone who resents the idea that a woman might want to have sex and not have a baby.

Nice game you've got going here. If I say that abortion should never be allowed, you immediately leap to the inflammatory hypothetical of the 14-year-old raped by her father.

Not in the least hypothetical.

-In 2003-2004, there were an average annual 204,370 victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault. (cite

-About 44% of rape victims are under age 18. (cite

So, that's something like 89 thousand teenage girls who are at risk of being pregnant via rape, whom you dismiss as "inflammatory hypotheticals". Nice.

But if I say that I'd make a tiny exception in this situation, you immediately accuse me of 1) inconsistency, 2) not really caring about the fetus at all, 3) wanting only to punish women, etc.

If you're going for the moral high ground in a flaming chariot, claiming that abortion is murder, howling your squeamishness about abortion as if it were a moral law, then you have to be prepared to be called on your inconsistencies. If you really think that it's wrong to abort a fetus, then you cannot make exceptions in the case of rape. If your real rationale is that you think it's wrong for women to make decisions about their own bodies - as your initial claim that once a woman had chosen to have sex, that meant she was not allowed to choose not to have a baby - then of course you'll make an exception for rape victims: they didn't choose to have sex, so you can permit them to escape pregnancy.

Me, I'm absolutely consistent. I think women have a right to decide what to do with our own bodies: when to have sex, if to get pregnant, and if they have to stay pregnant. I think that attempting to force a woman to bear a child she does not want is a monstrous piece of mental and physical cruelty.

You, on the contrary, declare that your morality requires you to campaign for illegal abortions, that women who choose to have sex ought not to be allowed to choose not to be pregnant, and that rich girls in particular ought not to be able to decide they don't want to be pregnant now. But that a raped woman who didn't choose to have sex may be allowed to have an abortion. And you decorate all this with squeamishness about the details of abortion, and a claimed objection to killing fetuses - falsified by your readiness to allow it in case of rape. All of which makes consistent sense if your objection is to women making decisions about our own bodies.

So, either you just haven't thought things through, and your real motivation is a kneejerk horror at the details of abortion, from which you're flailing and trying to find some rationale why operations that make you squeamish shouldn't happen, or you have thought things through, you're quite consistent, and what you consistently want is for women not to be allowed to decide for ourselves.

I think (which is what makes me a different kind of pro-lifer from Sebastian) that once the child is born, the child deserves protection - but a fetus is effectively part of a woman's body, and it is the pregnant woman who gets to make decisions.

I think (which is what makes me a different kind of pro-lifer from Sebastian)

Jes,
I know you and Seb exchanged posts upstream, but I don't think it is good or fair to pull him in on this.

liberal japonicus: I know you and Seb exchanged posts upstream, but I don't think it is good or fair to pull him in on this.

What, because Sebastian is trying very hard not to get involved in two arguments at once? If so, yes, and Sebastian, you should ignore that comment.

claiming that abortion is murder,

For the second time, I didn't say it was "murder." Capisce?

For the record, I think it's not quite as bad as killing a fully functioning adult with a lifetime of experiences and memories and a fully functioning cortex. But it's pretty nearly as bad as killing a newborn infant (esp. for late-term abortions, which you seem to support by saying that infants deserve protection only after birth).

Think of it this way: Abortion is at least as cruel as skinning a live cat and torturing it to death just because you don't want it on your property. That's not "murder," as cats aren't the equivalent of humans. But it's still a bad thing to do, even if you claim to be protecting your own property (or, to mirror your euphemism, "I'm not killing the cat, I'm just ridding my property of unwanted presences.")

what you consistently want is for women not to be allowed to decide for ourselves.

You couldn't be more precisely wrong. If I allow a rape exception, that is only because of the principle that women SHOULD be allowed to decide for themselves. If they decide to participate in sexual activity and/or not to use the appropriate protection, they have made the decision, and once another life comes along, they can't kill it. If a woman is raped, however, she never made a decision to be put in that position.

Further, you were making wild claims that "A lot of abortions are obtained by rich and upper-class girls, 1) who simply don't want to have children yet

Wild claims? You think rich people don't get abortions? Why on earth would you think that? Because it's too troubling to admit that many people have abortions not out of economic "necessity," but because of 1) parents' demands; 2) boyfriends' demands; 3) the desire not to interrupt one's high-powered career; etc. In other words, there are lots of abortions that are not even conceivably borne out of hardship, and that are not going to go away just because you get your pipe dream of government programs.

But it's pretty nearly as bad as killing a newborn infant (esp. for late-term abortions, which you seem to support by saying that infants deserve protection only after birth).

As Dutchmarbel pointed out, a late-term abortion can also be as an early Caeserian: if the fetus is healthy but the mother is dying, after 24 weeks surgeons may operate to save the mother and to attempt to save an extreme prenatal.

The operation you are so squeamish about, sometimes called a "partial birth abortion" is typically carried out when the fetus is dead or is so maimed that, if birthed, the infant would survive for hours in extreme pain. You seem to feel your squeamishness is enough to justify forcing a woman whose fetus is dead to carry it to term, risking her health: or forcing a woman who knows the fetus she carries will die at birth to risk her mental health by living for months with that knowledge, instead of days.

Abortion is at least as cruel as skinning a live cat and torturing it to death just because you don't want it on your property.

You're refusing to distinguish between first trimester abortions, second trimester, and late trimester.

A first trimester abortion is exactly as cruel as putting salt on slugs in the garden, or setting beer traps in the sure knowledge that the slugs will fall into them and drown. (Are you a gardener?)

A second trimester abortion is exactly as cruel as killing a chicken. (Are you vegetarian?)

A third trimester abortion is exactly as cruel as allowing animals to be experimented on in laboratories. (Are you a member of PETA?)

Trying to claim that aborting a fetus that hasn't got arms, legs, head, or spinal cord yet is like "skinning a cat" suggests that either you're not familiar with first-trimester fetal development, or you've never seen a live cat.

If I allow a rape exception, that is only because of the principle that women SHOULD be allowed to decide for themselves. If they decide to participate in sexual activity and/or not to use the appropriate protection, they have made the decision, and once another life comes along, they can't kill it.

Precisely my point: you believe women shouldn't be allowed to make our own decisions. You're arguing that no woman has a right to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy - at a guess, because no man has that right. Your analogy of pregnant women as embezzlers suggests you feel a terrible jealousy of women for having a right to choose no man possesses. Are you in analysis?

Are you in analysis?

Dial it back a little, folks. Neither of you is the shrink equivalent of Bill Frist.

"Neither of you is the shrink equivalent of Bill Frist."

But which is the ObWings equivalent to Charles Krauthammer?

A third trimester abortion is exactly as cruel as allowing animals to be experimented on in laboratories. (Are you a member of PETA?)

For those who wonder in future years why the federally guaranteed right to abortion ended up being overruled by the courts in the early twenty-first century, let it be noted that this is a relatively concise (aside from the PETA crack) description of the position of prominent pro-choice organizations in the US, replicated here by design or happenstance. Never mind that Roe explicitly noted that the state had a legitimate interest in protecting third-term fetuses, or that the only difference between a premature baby and a late term fetus (assuming no fatal birth defects) is geography. This is definitely another case of--from my POV as pro-choice--of "get off of my side, please."

A third trimester abortion is exactly as cruel as allowing animals to be experimented on in laboratories. (Are you a member of PETA?)

For those who wonder in future years why the federally guaranteed right to abortion ended up being overruled by the courts in the early twenty-first century, let it be noted that this is a relatively concise (aside from the PETA crack) description of the position of prominent pro-choice organizations in the US, replicated here by design or happenstance. Never mind that Roe explicitly noted that the state had a legitimate interest in protecting third-term fetuses, or that the only difference between a premature baby and a late term fetus (assuming no fatal birth defects) is geography. This is definitely another case of--from my POV as pro-choice--of "get off of my side, please."

Along with that, the hypocrisy argument is...well, I don't find it compelling. You might (or might not) expose Niels as a hypocrite, and that would do exactly zero to the merit of his arguments. Or do you hold that the merits of an argument are invested entirely in Niels? If we subtract Jesurgislac from the world (NOT advocating this or suggesting this, to be clear) do all of her arguments suddenly lose validity?

No. That way lies fallacy. Outside of that, you two have done a great job (my opinion) verbalizing your opinions, and given me much to think about. And given the emotionality of the debate, you've also both done much to keep those reined in. Thanks for that.

Slart.

Thanks, S. People would do well to remember why the "ad hominem" argument is a fallacy.

As for J's latest: Trying to claim that aborting a fetus that hasn't got arms, legs, head, or spinal cord yet is like "skinning a cat" suggests that either you're not familiar with first-trimester fetal development, or you've never seen a live cat.


The first trimester includes 8 weeks, doesn't it? When the fetus looks like this.

Dan: But which is the ObWings equivalent to Charles Krauthammer?

Heh. Okay, Slarti: that last question was over the top. Consider it unasked.

The first trimester includes 8 weeks, doesn't it?

The first trimester also includes the blastocyst stage.

You are claiming that aborting a fetus at any time in the development is exactly as cruel as skinning a cat alive. That means you are claiming that aborting a fetus that hasn't got arms, legs, head, or spinal cord yet is like "skinning a cat". As I said,that suggests that either you're not familiar with first-trimester fetal development, or you've never seen a live cat.

The picture you've just linked to is of a fetus the size of a kidney bean. You're trying to claim that aborting a kidney bean is like skinning a cat? Are you unfamiliar with kidney beans, or with cats?

Surely you're not serious -- you're comparing a fetus with arms, legs, a brain, etc., to a "kidney bean"? Why? Because the worth of a human being is proportional to size?

Niels: Surely you're not serious -- you're comparing a fetus with arms, legs, a brain, etc., to a "kidney bean"? Why?

Because a fetus at 8 weeks old is the size of a kidney bean. Standard comparator. You're posting a link to an idealized image without any scale: let's keep in mind that should the woman have a miscarriage at this stage, she could easily mistake it for a period with a heavy flow - and many woman undoubtedly did in the days before cheap at-home pregnancy tests. (It's been estimated that as many as 50% of conceptions end in spontaneous abortion: certainly 15-20% of pregnancies that continue long enough for the fetus to be detected end in spontaneous abortion.) In the bad old days when abortion was illegal - the days you want to return to - any young woman who had a miscarriage who went to a hospital for help would be harassed and bullied by the medical staff just in case she'd had an illegal abortion. I assume that harassment of women who miscarried a fetus they wanted is yet another price you're ever so willing for other people to pay, just so long as women don't get to make decisions for ourselves and your squeamishness is appeased.

Niels, the kind of bright line that you're trying to draw is precisely the kind of argument that drove me from being a moderate supporter of fairly restrictive abortion rights to being a near-absolutist pro-choicer.

Just saying.

Niels, the kind of bright line that you're trying to draw is precisely the kind of argument that drove me from being a moderate supporter of fairly restrictive abortion rights to being a near-absolutist pro-choicer.

Just saying.

The picture you've just linked to is of a fetus the size of a kidney bean. You're trying to claim that aborting a kidney bean is like skinning a cat? Are you unfamiliar with kidney beans, or with cats?

"Houston--we have self-parody!"

I have no idea what Jack is talking about.

J: The really interesting (and sad) thing for me is that when I or other prolifers look at a picture of the 8-week-old fetus, we don't see a "punishment" or an attacker or a euphemism. We think, "Wow, isn't life amazing? And to think that we all started out life this way. What a precious little thing that should be protected."

Whereas other people look at the 8-week-old fetus, and their only thought is, "How can I rationalize killing it?"

For what it's worth: whatever fetusses in the first trimester might look like, and whatever size they are, they are not sentient. Early on (at, say, 8 weeks), they don't have nerve cells, and so couldn't possibly feel pain. Until (people now think) at least 22-ish weeks, their nervous systems have not organized themselves to the point where any kind of sentience is a possibility.

So I think that comparisons to skinning live cats are all wrong.

If you want an analogy that makes clear that nascent human life is valuable, but doesn't get into issues of cruelty (which aren't appropriate in the absence of sentience), it would probably be better to say: imagine that a work of art is lodged in your body. There is no way of getting it out for the next nine months without destroying it. During those nine months, it will become progressively more uncomfortable, causing all sorts of bodily changes, and carrying a small but non nonexistent risk of serious illness or death. Suppose we all agree that it's wrong to destroy any work of art just for fun -- the way I would if, say, I saw a work of art on display and thought it would be cool to take a sledgehammer to it. Does it follow that I can't remove the work of art in my analogy from my body, even at the cost of destroying it? Even if I never agreed either to its being there, or even to any act that carried a risk of its being there?

The really interesting (and sad) thing for me is that when I or other prolifers look at a picture of the 8-week-old fetus, we don't see a "punishment" or an attacker or a euphemism.

So why do you try to make pregnancy into a punishment, then? Why aren't you an enthusiastic advocate of every child a wanted child? What is it about you that makes you want to force women into illegal abortions or a horror of nine months unwanted pregnancy?

Every pro-choice woman I know who became pregnant said that knowing her pregnancy was a choice made her feel even more richly what a wonderful thing it was: and know more certainly that any woman who becomes pregnant and doesn't want to be ought not to be denied an abortion.

Yet you feel that a fetus ought to be made into a punishment, that a woman ought to be forced to feel invaded and colonized, required to know that she has no choice, she isn't allowed to decide for herself about this vitally important issue. To me, your rhetoric is as criminal towards the miracle of life as (even though I'm not Catholic) I would feel about a priest who took sacramental bread and thrust it forcibly down the throats of his parishioners, making some of them choke and die, and making all of them associate receiving Communion with something horrifying and unpleasant that is forced on them whether they will it or not.

My feeling is that a pregnant woman who is happy to be pregnant is a beautiful realisation of a human being doing something wonderful that uses all of her body and that she is happy to be doing - like a trained athlete running for pleasure.

For you to wish to force pregnancy on a woman who does not want to be pregnant and then to argue that you are justified in doing this because you see the "miracle of life" in a photograph of the fetus, while you disregard as irrelevant the physical and mental misery of the woman carrying the fetus, seems so absurd I can't even think of an analogy to it.

So, at what stage (if any) does it become murder, in your book at least, to abort a fetus, Jesurgislac? Just trying to calibrate, here. Also, is there an abrupt transition for you between not-murder and murder, or is there a continuum, or is there a series of jumps between fine but guilt-inducing to not-fine and guilt-inducing to...whatever.

I actually don't have an argument, here, just trying to see how you're thinking of this.

Me, I'd consider drawing the line at assisted viability, but I'm so unconvinced of that as a legal stricture that I'd have the government emplace on others that I'm reluctant to even bring it up.

For you to wish to force pregnancy on a woman who does not want to be pregnant and then to argue that you are justified in doing this because you see the "miracle of life" in a photograph of the fetus, while you disregard as irrelevant the physical and mental misery of the woman carrying the fetus, seems so absurd I can't even think of an analogy to it.

That's because you aren't thinking at all. You keep saying that I'm "forcing pregnancy" on women. Nonsense. I'm not forcing them to become pregnant -- they and their boyfriends/husbands are the ones who are responsible. Why do you keep insisting that all people are completely without moral agency . . . except for me?


Why aren't you an enthusiastic advocate of every child a wanted child?

I am! Every child a wanted child -- a great idea. But how do we get there? By killing off the unwanted ones? Hmmm, seems awfully Spartan to me. How about this: If you really, really don't want a child, don't have sex at all. Biology 101 here: Sex often leads to babies. If you can't handle that fact, you're like a person who jumps off a cliff and then complains about the law of gravity. Or alternatively, use birth control and a condom. In combination, that's probably 99% effective.

Then if, by chance, a baby does come along, try to change your attitude towards your own child. People's attitudes aren't fixed in stone, you know. They can change. If you decide to, you can welcome the child that you have created, and then it will indeed be a "wanted" child.

Man, I would kill for a good pot of red beans and rice...

Sorry, off to bed now...

Niels: am! Every child a wanted child -- a great idea. But how do we get there? By killing off the unwanted ones?

By giving women the choice to terminate unwanted pregnancies, of course - not by killing unwanted children. Though as it happens, the unwanted children whom you want to be born, but whom you are unwilling to support once they arrive, are much more likely to die young or by violence.

How about this: If you really, really don't want a child, don't have sex at all.

Ah: we're back to your notion that once a woman has sex, she shouldn't be allowed to make decisions. Again, Niels, you're full of ideas about a price you're willing for other people to pay. Cheap talk: and you like the idea of the priest getting to force Communion bread down his parishioner's throats, don't you?

liberalj Man, I would kill for a good pot of red beans and rice...

I'm for a big bowl of good chilli.

Slarti: So, at what stage (if any) does it become murder, in your book at least, to abort a fetus, Jesurgislac?

Never. Trying to pinpoint a difference in the week-by-week development of a fetus seems to me to be absurd, especially when there's one clear change that can be pinpointed: that of birth. Trying to claim that it's murder for a woman to abort a fetus at any point is ridiculous.

Slarti: I'll bite. I think that abortion is always horrible, for starters. It just is. It's always tragic, though in different ways in different cases. If anyone thinks that it's not -- that it would (for instance) be perfectly OK to try on purpose to get pregnant just to have abortions, as a sort of hobby or something, or to aspire to have abortions in all 50 states, then I can't imagine what they're thinking. (It doesn't follow from this that I'd force them not to have an abortion. In fact, given my beliefs about early abortions, I'd be inclined to think: dear God, please don't let any kid have to be raised by someone who thinks like that!)

I think that it's clearly OK until the child becomes sentient. Until that point, there are no feelings, no pain or pleasure, no thoughts, no plans, no consciousness, no mental anything -- none of the things that leap to mind when I ask myself: what makes killing, say, me so wrong? And sentience is supposed not to be present until at least halfway through pregnancy.

This, to me, is a genuine bright line. And note that taking mental stuff -- including feelings as well as thoughts -- does not imply anything about thinking that people who are smarter have more rights, etc. I take this to be the threshold at which rights and interests enter the picture, not something whose level is directly correlated with more rights. (Compare: you need to have a certain level of maturity, we think, to vote. It doesn't follow that especially mature people get more than one vote. We take age as a proxy for maturity level, and treat reaching a given age as a threshold: before it, no vote; after it, one vote; never three votes or a hundred.)

After sentience kicks in, I tend to view this as a gradual process: the closer to birth, the more leery I am of abortion, and the more of a justification I think one needs. I would be fine, for instance, with banning third-trimester abortions except when the mother's life was at risk.

I think, by the way, that viability is a hard criterion to defend, not just because it depends on the state of technology rather than anything that seems morally significant, but also because we are getting better and better at saving the lives of premature babies, but the babies we save often go on to lead awful lives. The rates of all sorts of illnesses -- serious and incurable -- are way, way higher, as are the rates of quite serious brain damage. Offhand, I would think that it would be a lot easier for us to go on lowering the age at which we could save kids' lives than to make those lives remotely bearable.

By giving women the choice to terminate unwanted pregnancies, of course - not by killing unwanted children.

Great -- so you're against all abortion, then. I'm all for terminating pregnancies, right about the 9-month mark. As long as the children aren't killed in an abortion, that's wonderful. Glad to see that we agree on that.

Hilzoy -- you might get through better than me. Try telling J why it's a bit more than just "surgery" to abort a 40-week-old fetus (as she apparently puts the line at "birth").

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