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At Least Be Honest

[ 76 ] December 28, 2011 |

This won’t be a surprise to longtime readers, but I agree 100% with Atrios about Perry changing his position to oppose abortion in cases of rape or incest. These exemptions cannot be defended coherently, and they’re almost entirely worthless on the ground. Essentially, Perry’s new position amounts to arguing for the same policy in much less politically effective terms, so I say go right ahead.

Not, of course, that it isn’t barbaric to use state coercion to force a woman to bear her rapist’s child — but it’s barbaric for the state to coerce a woman to bear anyone’s child. That’s the fundamental issue.

…see also.

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  1. Vice of Reason says:

    I really don’t see the issue.

    Perry is a politician and he does what politicians do when trying to get elected and this isnew difference is really kinda minor, anyway.

    At least he wasn’t a sitting president that decided to throw women under the bus for his politics gain.

    Let’s count our blessings, instead.

  2. Malaclypse says:

    If we ignore the troll, there is some chance of an adult conversation.

  3. Abby Spice says:

    I have always found the rape/incest exception to be disingenuous, and undermining the antis’ position. Same with their refusal to say that they believe women who have abortions should be charged with first-degree murder and sentenced accordingly. If they really believe that what happened was murder, the fact that the woman was in a tough situation (and had her mental faculties weakened by pregnancy!) should not save her from jail.

    It’s all so revealing of what they really care about: slut-shaming and controlling women.

    • Vice of Reason says:

      No, it’s constructing a strawman and this one’s called reductio ad absurdum and it’s a poor, poor argument.

      • Abby Spice says:

        You’re accusing me of a strawman argument, or them? Please do be more clear.

        • Holden Pattern says:

          It can’t be more clear — the troll is not actually capable. In fact, you’re not making a reductio ad absurdum. If abortion is murder, it’s murder, period. We don’t say that it’s permissible to kill children of rape or incest, so if abortion is murder as the forced-breeding lobby says it is, no exceptions can be made.

          The failure of the forced-breeding lobby to actually follow the consequences of their morality shows that either they’re lying for political expediency (how very Straussian), or that their real agenda is something other than their stated agenda. The troll is incapable of acknowledging that, so it’s throwing around some latin that it doesn’t really understand.

          • c u n d gulag says:

            Lame troll should have tried this in Latin instead:
            “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritūs Sancti…”

            Maybe then, instead of being “reductio’d” by a dose of his own ‘absurdum,’ he’d have had a prayer.

            But, even if you believe in divine intervention, you must realize that there’s really nothing in the Universe powerful enough that could help that boy in a battle of wits.

            As I said about him before, and I think bears saying again – the only time the word “wit” has been used around him, is in conjunction with the words “nit,” “half,” and/or “dim.”

      • SeanH says:

        There is nothing wrong with reductio ad absurdum, it’s a perfectly good argumentative form.

        • Colin Day says:

          Only if it is an actual absurdity. Saccheri misused it in his defense of the parallel postulate, but his unwillingness to accept non-Euclidean geometry was not only incorrect, it also denied him Lobachevsky’s position in the history of mathematics.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      It’s all so revealing of what they really care about: slut-shaming and controlling women.

      Exactly. The rape and incest exception makes perfect sense if one opposes abortion not because one believes that fetal life is sacred, but because one believes that women who willingly have sex should be punished for it. Excusing women who are clearly forced to have sex emphasizes the moral point.

      Two additional thoughts about all this:

      1) Another important part of the anti-choice position is to generally deny women moral agency (“abortion doctors” should be charged with murder, not the women who use their services). One problem with the rape and incest exception from the antis POV is that it might tend to grant women moral agency.

      2) From a purely political perspective, the appeal of the rape and incest exception for those who desire to somehow split the difference on reproductive freedom is that it appears to confront the “ickiness” of abortion. Abortion may be icky, but rape and incest are ickier. Hence the emotional justice of it for some.

      • Abby Spice says:

        Your first point is excellent–if abortion were outlawed and the punishment the same as any other premeditated murder, I want women punished right along with their doctors. They’re just as complicit, and this “well, she was in a tough place and plus she’s pregnant and can’t think straight” shit does not work for me.

        Either they’re willing to give the (formerly) pregnant woman the same sentence (25 to life? lethal injection?) or they’re not serious about it.

        • c u n d gulag says:

          THIS!

          And that’s why the argument has always been framed the way that it has.

          There’s a healthy dose of paternalism:
          ‘You poor, poor, silly women!
          I mean, you can’t trust you to make the right decision on a good day, so, when you’re pregnant – forget about it!
          Don’t worry, little lady, we know your hormones were all screwed up, so we’ll punish the doctors and nurses, and everyone else besides you, you poor, poor, dear. You get to skate. Here, sit down and have some tea and a good cry. That’s a good girl…’

          And there’s politics:
          Because, if you punish the doctor, but not the woman, that’s just punishing the contract killer, and not the one who contracted for the “kill” in the first place.
          And if they ever did charge women with murder, then the only women they’d ever get a vote from are the loony-tune Christians like Mrs. Duggar, and wannabe’s. And some others here and there who’ve bought into the right wing lies and bullshit, where you have a “Right to Life” right up until you’re born, and then you have no ‘Right to Live.’
          Not if you need things like child care, health services, education, etc., that the mother, with whoever’s willing to help, can’s provide.
          And if not, well, look around for some good old Christian charity.
          And if not that, well, then, “life” doesn’t come with any guarantees, so, you’re SOL, and have no “Right to Live.”

          I’m so tired of “Right to Lifer’s” who who only define “life” as a fetus, and don’t don’t give a shit how the baby and mother live after the kid pops out.

          Because, then, after the child is born, it goes from “Right to Life” to “You Have No RIGHT To Live. You’re On Your Fucking Own!”
          So, good luck, and say your prayers…

    • DrDick says:

      Absolutely. If embryos are persons, then killing them is murder, and it does not matter who fathered them. The rape and incest exception allows the to advance their blatant anti-woman agenda without seeming to be quite such horrid moral monsters.

      • Ed says:

        Well, consistency isn’t the point. It’s politics. Gaining ground incrementally is the idea. The rape and incest exception pulls in many voters who would balk at a position that is consistent but is utterly heartless (and bear in mind some people are in genuine perplexity about the issue). It is equally inconsistent for pro-lifers to advocate legal sanctions and, in some cases, violence, against doctors who provide abortions rather than the wicked women seeking to suborn doctors into killing their children, but you can’t get voters on board for prosecuting women.

        Well, not in this country.

        Yet.

        • Murc says:

          What Ed said.

          Lord knows I can’t stand the anti-choicers, but I tend to give them a pass on their inconsistencies (in this specific area only, mind you!) because to an extent that’s how incrementalism works. A lot of legislation, progressive or otherwise, has gotten passed because its advocates argued with a straight face that no, really, this bill should be considered in isolation, we’re not just using it to get our foot in the door.

          In the case of the anti-choicers, there are a fair number of people who genuinely do believe abortion is murder and that everyone involved should be treated exactly the same way as if they’d engaged in a conspiracy to kill an infant. Those people are smart enough to realize that there isn’t a large constituency in this country for protecting the sanctity of human life, but there IS a large constituency for making women second-class citizens.

        • DrDick says:

          That really is my central point. This is purely political and not principled at all. It also reveals, to the extent that the forced birthers actually support this exception, that they do not really believe that killing embryos is murder. I will never give them a pass on anything, ever. Their objective is the subordination of women, period.

  4. wiley says:

    The rape/incest position is a red herring. The issue is not under what conditions a woman can have control over her body, the control over her body is the only issue. How she got pregnant is nobody’s business but her own— it’s a PRIVATE matter. Roe vs. Wade was a legal battle over the right to privacy.

    I’m beginning to think that on top of the clear conservative dedication to patriarchy and the rampant misogyny that goes with it, the conservatives actually think that the blastocyst and foetus is a pure soul who has never passed through a woman’s unholy vagina.

    • efgoldman says:

      Well, not in that form, anyway…

    • Vice of Reason says:

      Roe vs. Wade was a legal battle over the right to privacy.

      If you’re consistent, then you can understand and maybe be OK with a outlawing abortion at the state level just as California has unilaterally legislated with marijuana against federal law.

      Maybe that would be a great move to force the DOJ to force consistency and contstitutionalism is to outlaw abortion at the state level and then point to other states that have gone rogue with other laws.

      We all want consistency, don’t we?

      • T. Paine says:

        We used to have some high quality anti-choice trolls around here, but now they can’t even write intelligibly. It’s a sad day when we mourn the absence of ol’ Niels Jackson.

        Also, take the pledge!

      • c u n d gulag says:

        California, our newest resident dumbass troll, is one of several states with some form of legalization, or decriminalization, of marijuana:

        http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000881

        So, I suspect the word ‘unilaterally,” it does not mean what you think it means.

        And therefore, my Latin spouting chum, “ipso facto,” as usual, your point is idiotic.

        But, maybe you’d be better off letting us suspect that “a priori,” rather than write something that shows your ass, and proves what we think “a posteriori.”

        As in the “Fish” post, among others, I await your response with “baited” breath.

      • Njorl says:

        There is a difference between rights and laws. Laws can vary between states, rights can not.

        I would also like to add my voice to those requesting that you learn how to express yourself more clearly if you plan on posting here. People who write as poorly as you do should try to master presenting a logical argument before trying to appear clever.

        • c u n d gulag says:

          I think he got kicked out of whatever Minor League blogs he crawled out from for fighting and spitting at the other players.
          And those were the ones on HIS side!

          I think this ‘idjit’ needs to go back to some “Rookie League” blog.

          Or even further back – because this boy’s so bad at word-play, he couldn’t hit a veritable verbal t-ball.

          But, this not-even-Mario Mendoza’s jock-strap, thinks he’s the Babe Ruth of trolls.
          LOL!!!

          What a dope! What a maroon!!!

        • Range of Motion says:

          There is a difference between rights and laws.

          You think marijuana is a right?

          Really??

    • BradP says:

      The issue is not under what conditions a woman can have control over her body, the control over her body is the only issue.

      I thought it had been settled that health care decisions, especially those that are negligent and willfully impose social costs, are very much a public matter.

      • Hogan says:

        If by “health care decisions” you mean “decisions about whether to participate in the market for health insurance,” then yes. Most people wouldn’t consider those synonymous, though.

      • Furious Jorge says:

        Controlling one’s own body is not the same as being required to participate in an insurance market.

        Come on. You can do better than that.

        • BradP says:

          My point, and this goes to both of you, is that pregnancies and their resolution have dramatic social costs.

          And you are entirely correct, they aren’t equivalent. The externalities and social costs of having a child are far higher than the social costs and externalities of taking a bet that one won’t have a catastrophic injury or illness.

          Controlling one’s own body is not the same as being required to participate in an insurance market.

          Its a difference of degree and not kind. I notice neither of you actually made an argument for why there is a difference.

          Heroin use in general. I support legalization, but I would imagine most pro-choicers would say that social costs of heroin use validate a breach of that “control over one’s body”. Heroin use while pregnant would be an extreme example.

          Ultimately, when you break it down, “control of one’s own body” is a phrase that is so vague that it almost meaningless.

          • Malaclypse says:

            Its a difference of degree and not kind. I notice neither of you actually made an argument for why there is a difference.

            If the difference is not completely fucking obvious, I’d suggest speaking with more women and fewer libertarians.

            • BradP says:

              I understand the difference between choosing health insurance and choosing how to resolve a pregnancy.

              I don’t understand what difference exists between the two that makes health insurance decisions a matter of rectifying social costs, and pregnancy a matter of “controlling one’s own body”.

              • Hogan says:

                Buying health insurance isn’t “something you do with your body.” It’s something you do with your money. Those things are subjected to different levels of scrutiny and regulation. That’s just how we roll.

                • BradP says:

                  Buying health insurance isn’t “something you do with your body.” It’s something you do with your money.

                  What do you do for a living that allows you to make such a distinction?

                • Hogan says:

                  Like most people, I exchange some of my labor power for an agreed quantity of a medium of exchange that I can use to purchase goods and services. I’ve never been pregnant myself, but I’m told it’s a very different experience.

          • Hogan says:

            The externalities and social costs of having a child are far higher than the social costs and externalities of taking a bet that one won’t have a catastrophic injury or illness.

            True. And it’s not like there’s any upside to people having children.

            • BradP says:

              True. And it’s not like there’s any upside to people having children.

              Of course.

              My point is that the decision to have an abortion or follow through on a pregnancy is not simply a private decision. It has profound social implications (maybe of any action we currently consider legitimately free of strong government regulation and prohibition).

              Wiley’s point co-opted a naive libertarian position that, on any other subject, would have drawn mockery from other commenters.

              • DrDick says:

                Are you personally going to pay to pay to raise the children of women who are not able to do so on their own for whatever reason? Subsidizing the costs of abortions is a far smaller social cost.

          • actor212 says:

            My point, and this goes to both of you, is that pregnancies and their resolution have dramatic social costs.

            I’m sorry. I mistook you for a “libertarian,” I suppose. Based on this answer, I’m guessing I won’t make that mistake again.

            Unless you want to explain to this liberal-libertarian how a woman’s personal choice affects you negatively in either direction…

            • BradP says:

              Unless you want to explain to this liberal-libertarian how a woman’s personal choice affects you negatively in either direction…

              The act of bringing another person into the world and the conditions under which it occurs?

              Really?

              Pregnancies have profound social costs. The social costs of drug and alcohol use during pregnancy should be an obvious example.

              So the idea that abortion shouldn’t be banned because it is a private decision by a woman is a very weak one. It does not hold when applied to other issues, it doesn’t even apply to issues dealing with pregnancy.

              Of course your question wasn’t about the choice, it was about abortion: how does a woman getting an abortion effect me negatively?

              It doesn’t, of course. In fact it has social benefits. And that is the point. While I support the right to obtain an abortion, I do it because:

              1) Abortion bans, even if they were justified in theory, would be de facto punishment and marginalization of women.

              2) Abortions are victimless (this one is controversial).

              3) Abortions have significant social benefits, or more appropriate to me, the banning of abortion will impose dramatic social costs on all of us.

              Arguing that the issue is settled because of a woman’s right to her own body or privacy, and because it is not a matter of social interest is both wrong and a losing argument.

              Libertarians have been trotting out that argument for a long time and they lose continuously.

              • actor212 says:

                Really? Raising a family is now a social decision?

                Wow. I mean, simply, that could go down as the single stupidest comment you’ve ever made.

                Altho I’m sure it has plenty of company.

                And your FIRST defense is the social costs of social problems? Not the pregnancy itself, and oh by the way, the vast majority of pregnancies have nothing to do with either alcohol OR drugs, so I think you ought to step back from the monitor, take a breath and go do some research.

                Pregnancy is the ultimate personal decision, and the ultimate personal responsibility. Now, if you want to discuss the failure of people to live up to that responsibility, that’s a fair discussion to have, but that’s not about the pregnancy, that’s about the decision maker and they’d make socially irresponsible decisions, pregnant or not.

                So long as it doesn’t affect you directly, as in your daughter, your wife, or your mother or sister, why do you give a shit?

                • Hogan says:

                  He doesn’t; it’s a reductio ad absurdum. Pregnancy and childbirth have a social dimension; buying or not buying health insurance has a social dimension; ergo they should be treated identically.

                  I happen to think the absurdity is all on his side, but that’s just me.

                • BradP says:

                  Really? Raising a family is now a social decision?

                  Absolutely.

                  Wow. I mean, simply, that could go down as the single stupidest comment you’ve ever made.

                  Fair enough. There is no common ground so no point for continued discussion.

                  And your FIRST defense is the social costs of social problems?

                  No its the de facto use of abortion bans as punishment and marginalization of women. Really, I numbered them.

                • BradP says:

                  He doesn’t

                  I do.

                • Hogan says:

                  Ah. I beg your pardon.

                • actor212 says:

                  Then your ZEROTH argument was….

                  Cuz, you know, that’s what you said first, which means it was probably the most important defense you could figure out to raise.

                  It was still idiotic. As was the rest of your list.

                • thebewilderness says:

                  No, he is correct. The state has an interest in having more citizens. The churches have an interest in having more parishoners. The corporations have an interest in having more human resources.
                  That is what is so creepy about the things people do not want to talk about when addressing this issue.
                  People pay lip service to seeing women as citizens with human rights and civil rights the whole time they are actually talking about how to manage the means of production. Women!
                  The “personhood” laws are all about trying to frame it as a human rights issue when it is clearly and obviously and always has been a matter of controlling the means of production.

  5. [...] At Least Be Honest : Lawyers, Guns & Money ch_client = "trevone"; ch_width = 550; ch_height = 250; ch_type = "mpu"; ch_sid = "Chitika [...]

  6. CashandCable says:

    For those of us who tuned in late . . . why isn’t the issue of human autonomy that’s implicated by rape sufficient to provide a defense? At least one philosopher (I can’t remember which one) analogized to a person that was kidnapped and then medically bound to a world-famous violinist. The philosopher’s argument was that even if the kidnapped was the only thing keeping the violinist alive, he would be entitled to “pull the plug,” because no violation of his autonomy can generate a new obligation to sacrifice his autonomy to a third party, even if that third party is innocent and even if that third party will die. The distinction isn’t (and shouldn’t be) innocent sexual behavior vs. “bad” sexual behavior, but violations of human autonomy that lead to pregnancy vs. everything else.

    • Holden Pattern says:

      So, on this model, someone who accidentally finds themselves bound to another (whole, autonomous, assumed to be valuable and important) person is required to stay attached to them for life, and to suffer consequences which might include them dying as well? And *that* would be murder, but it wouldn’t be murder if you are forced to be attached to that person? What if the person you’re accidentally attached to is Hitler, not a famous violinist? Still have to stay attached?

      I don’t think I’ve seen a more profound example of question-begging in this set of arguments.

      • CashandCable says:

        I did not make any definitive judgments about individuals who are “accidentally bound”, and neither did the philosopher. The argument I was making is that violations of human autonomy provide a stronger rationale for abortion than situations without such a violation. This is not to say that the more common abortion situations are defensible as well, but merely that rape scenarios are more defensible. Going back to the hypo, I’m not even sure that the kidnapped individual could be legally charged with murder due to the coercion involved.

      • redrob64 says:

        I think CashandCable’s point is precisely that the victim in the analogy cannot morally be obliged to keep the violinist alive because such a demand violates personal autonomy. Thus, prohibitions on abortion are out of order simply as a violation of personal autonomy and require no further argument for refutation.

        • Holden Pattern says:

          No, CashandCable’s hypothetical was that if you are FORCED to be attached to the violinist, it’s morally more acceptable to let the violinist die than if you just accidentally happen to become attached to the violinist by a volitional act. Because in the former case, your autonomy was violated, while in the latter case, it wasn’t.

          • Njorl says:

            I don’t think that he was arguing that it was more moral to let the violinist die if you were coerced rather than accidently connected to the violinist, but rather that it was more certainly moral.

            It is easier to prove that abortion is moral in the case of rape than in a case not involving rape. That does not mean that abortion is less moral when rape is not involved. It just means the argument requires more effort.

            • Holden Pattern says:

              I don’t think that he was arguing that it was more moral to let the violinist die if you were coerced rather than accidently connected to the violinist, but rather that it was more certainly moral.

              I’ll accept that, at least arguendo.

              It is easier to prove that abortion is moral in the case of rape than in a case not involving rape. That does not mean that abortion is less moral when rape is not involved. It just means the argument requires more effort.

              This may be true, if you start from the position of your autonomy as primary over the life of another. If, however, you base your opposition to abortion on “IT’S MURDER MOST FOUL!”, then no, not so much.

              What if you’re wrongly imprisoned, and the only way to be free is to murder someone innocent (let’s say, the jailor’s child). Is that moral?

      • Anonymous says:

        So, on this model, someone who accidentally finds themselves bound to another (whole, autonomous, assumed to be valuable and important) person is required to stay attached to them for life, and to suffer consequences which might include them dying as well? And *that* would be murder, but it wouldn’t be murder if you are forced to be attached to that person? What if the person you’re accidentally attached to is Hitler, not a famous violinist? Still have to stay attached?

        I think he is talking about something similar to the airplane analogy. I have seen it argued on some libertarian forums that consensual sex that leads to a pregnancy is analogous to inviting someone on to an airplane and taking off. It creates an obligation to the invitee, whereas a similar obligation to a stowaway wouldn’t exist. At least that is what I got from the reference to “autonomy”.

        And yes, the situation and analogy I described is yet another example of libertarians discussing issues in terms that make the everyone else look at them a little funny. I get it.

    • burnt says:

      It is Judith Jarvis Thomson who wrote “A Defense of Abortion” 40 years ago. It makes great fodder for intro to ethics courses. You might want to take a refresher

    • TruthOfAngels says:

      The philosopher in question was Judith Jarvis Thompson.

  7. Tcaalaw says:

    I’m 100% pro-choice (including partial birth abortion), but it seems to me that the rape/incest exception isn’t too difficult to defend. It’s not uncommon for police SWAT teams and other antiterrorist forces to carry out raids in hostage situations in which one or more of the hostages are killed by the group carrying out the raid. There is never even any discussion afterwards about the possiiblity of charging those personnel with negligent homicide or something similar. The explanation is always that it was the hostage-takers who created the situation and therefore any moral or legal culpability falls on them, not the personnel who carried out the raid to end the ongoing crime. The rape/incest exception is premised on the similar idea that the woman had no choice on whether to even engage in sexual activity (let alone use birth control) and thus the pregnancy was forced on her by the criminal and represents a continuation of the crime. Ending the pregnancy is part of ending the victimization of the woman and the fetus is “collateral damage” in the same way that the dead hostages in the SWAT team example are.

    • Holden Pattern says:

      Except there’s no present danger in the rape / incest pregnancy that couldn’t be dealt with by a “life of the mother” exception (not that that exception makes all that much sense either if you assume that the fetus is an innocent human being who must be protected at all costs, as we’ve seen in a couple Latin American countries.) “Ending victimization” is not sufficient grounds to kill an innocent human being.

      So, just as CashandCable’s hypothetical makes superficial sense, so does the SWAT hypothetical, but it breaks down really fast.

      • Anonymous says:

        Tangential point, but the resistance to “life of the mother” exceptions has always really baffled me, even given all the tortured logic of the “pro-life” movement. I think even in the US there have been attempts to pass laws without such an exception, haven’t there? Anyway, it’s never even been a question that in the killing of a born human, self-defense is an affirmative defense to murder charges. So trying to pass a law without a “life of the mother” exception for abortion is actually privileging fetuses above all other humans, in that you would not even be allowed to kill them in self-defense. It’s just crazy.

        • Holden Pattern says:

          Well, the thinking is that the fetus is not actually TRYING to harm you, which is the basis of most theories concerning self-defense — which, it should be noted, is a defense against charges of actual homicide, whether at trial or in the investigation stages. There’s no legal situation where a homicide isn’t even investigated because it “looks like self-defense”. I’m sure there are case-by-case situations where that happens.

          So this comes back to the “you’re somehow attached to another person and either they die or you die” philosopher’s hypothetical. I think it’s telling that the case of pregnancy is so without parallel in any other human experience that we have to make up wacky analogies that cannot happen in real life to try to get at why it might be OK to prohibit abortion.

          • ema says:

            Well, the thinking is that the fetus is not actually TRYING to harm you….

            I don’t understand, who is thinking this way and what are they basing it on? Did they have a tete-a-tete with the assorted tissues involved in order to discern their motivation?

            • Holden Pattern says:

              Let me try again: the “self-defense” rationale doesn’t work to create a “life of the mother” exception from anti-choice laws because there’s no crime being committed by the fetus.

              I think the “it’s a person, so it’s murder” rationale doesn’t make sense, and I fall on the side of “protect the fully formed individual”. But it’s deployed so often as a goddamn rhetorical tool that it’s important to actually force people to deal with what that really means, and not use it as a bullshit rhetorical ploy.

              • ema says:

                Got it, you meant legally “self defense” doesn’t work because you can’t impute motive to a bunch of tissues. In which case, legally considering the evacuation of the same tissues “murder” makes no sense.

        • Ed says:

          Tangential point, but the resistance to “life of the mother” exceptions has always really baffled me, even given all the tortured logic of the “pro-life” movement.

          The idea, if it can be called that, is that you cannot privilege the life of the mother over the life of the fetus because they are both human lives of equal value. In practice, of course, this means privileging the fetus. Future Mom just has to take her chances.

    • ema says:

      That would be “partial birth” abortion since there is no such medical procedure.

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