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Roe Anniversary Day

[ 150 ] January 22, 2014 |

Jessica Mason Pieklo has a good roundup of the legal challenges to Roe.

Meanwhile, in “for Republicans, life begins at conception and ends at birth” news, the March For Life (sic) will feature activism against the Affordable Care Act:

The 41st annual march Wednesday will feature lawyer Susan Wills, assistant director for education and outreach for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, discussing the Affordable Care Act and its mandate requiring large employers to insure birth control as part of their health care plans, including “morning after” pills that some religious organizations equate to abortion.

“Certain groups are being forced to carry these life-destructive drugs and devices in the name of health, and with no recourse,” said Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund. “So that is a huge problem. That one development is very pressing in our news today.”

Another reminder that the “centrist” arguments that pro-choicers should concede that abortion is icky and accede to a grab bag of arbitrary abortion regulations in order to attract the non-existent opponents of legal abortion who would settle for expanded access to contraception instead of banning abortion were smarm before it had been definitively defined.

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  1. bspencer says:

    Another reminder that the “centrist” arguments that pro-choicers should concede that abortion is icky

    I’ve always had a huge problem with this. I don’t think abortion is icky. I feel about abortion the same way I feel about miscarriages, which can be wonderful, terrible or neither of those things.

    • (Shakezula) says:

      Nerdy Fact du Jour – The technical term for a miscarriage is spontaneous abortion.

      The difference in common parlance is an abortion is planned a miscarriage isn’t.

      But aside from occasional attempts to criminalize miscarriages, the people who claim life begins at conception would really rather you not mention miscarriage, at all.

      For one, it is something a woman’s body does that they can’t control and they hate that. And it allows you to ask questions such as – “If I insure my fetus in week 2 of pregnancy and miscarry at week 11, can I collect on the policy?” and of course the answer is no because they don’t believe it is a person.

      • Bruce Baugh says:

        I think it was someone at LGM who commented a while back that for the forced-birth crowd, life begins at ejaculation. That seems about right, really. They’re interested in what happens to sperm. Miscarriage is no big deal, because the sperm has done its job, and miscarriage is just one more damn demonstration that forced-birth believers can’t trust women to do anything right.

        The idea that what really counts is the sperm makes sense of their hatred of morning-after treatments. They get in the way of the sperm! So that’s obviously baby-killing. In recent years I’ve started wondering how many of that crowd would turn out to genuinely believe that sperm carry little homunculi, if there were a way to really win their trust and learn the things they don’t tell outsiders.

    • DrDick says:

      Pretty much my attitude, as well.

      • aimai says:

        Somebody, maybe even here, linked to this great essay “How I lost My Faith in the Pro-Life Movement.” Which rather perfectly captures what happens when an earnest young woman, raised in the movement itself, begins to come to grips with the illogic of the anti-birth control aspects of the supposed anti-abortion movement. One of the funniest parts of the essay is where she tackles the question of spontaneous abortion/miscarriage which turns out to be statistically more likely if you aren’t using birth control in the first place. As she points out: if you were really against abortion because it “ends” a life or a soul you’d want to encourage all policies and techniques that limit all miscarriages and abortions–and that would include encouraging sexually active men and women to use all kinds of contraception because the first cause of miscarriages is getting pregnant in the first place.

        Its a charming, touching, heartfelt, essay by a great blogger.

    • Dilan Esper says:

      To me, the concession I would make is that for some people, abortion definitely is morally troublesome. And we definitely don’t want to drive people away who have moral qualms but ultimately think that it should be legal.

      And the way to do that is to simply acknowledge that there’s moral disagreement about the issue. You aren’t a terrible person if you disagree with feminists about the morality of abortion. It’s a vexing issue that really does involve fundamental disagreements about life and sexuality.

      But in the end, you have to respect the right to choose. Forced pregnancies are devastating to women, especially poorer women, and conservatives want to use abortion policy to control female sexuality. And abortion restrictions will drive many women to back-alley providers who perform unsafe abortions, or unsafe self-abortions. And may drive some women to suicide.

  2. (Shakezula) says:

    Speaking of which, Sarah Weddington joined the Twitterverse a couple of days ago https://twitter.com/WeddingtonSarah

    But you all will be happy to know that God and Baby Jeezlebub are once again showing their love of the fetus fetishists. Weather for the Annual March On Lives is delightful 10 (add a – for the wind chill).

  3. aimai says:

    Maybe there is no point in saying this, certainly there is no particular point in saying it here, but at the very bottom of all this right wing fixation on the embryo is a kind of moral cowardice and desire to stand well with god on the cheap. The reason I say that is that like heterosexual christian homophobes attacking other people for sins you don’t want to (or don’t have the opportunity) to commit is the cheapest form of grace seeking there can be. Anyone who has contemplated working with poor people, people at the bottom of the heap financially or educationally or in terms of health issues, has to acknowledge that unwanted pregnancies and families that are larger than the biological parents can manage are an enormous problem for both parents and children. It would be extremely costly to help people who are already born–help them to live lives free of want and despair. This focus on forcing individual women (and their families) to bear the total cost of unwanted pregnancies and children is a cowardly, cheapskate, way to try to stand right with your individual, personal god, at the literal expense of blood and death and money to some other person (the woman and the resulting child) for whom you assume no responsibility.

    In the case of all this law mongering and state power using you get a totally backwards reading of “render unto ceasar what is caesars and unto god what is god’s” in which free will and the free excercise of free will are forbidden, at least to women.

    Oh, what the hell, its silly even to say these things. We are stuck with these horrifically cruel, selfish, delusional people. There will always be at least 27 percent of the population that pursue these inhumane policies.

    • bspencer says:

      I keep hoping a lot of them will die off.

    • (Shakezula) says:

      It is always worth pointing out that these people are deeply committed to saving an abstract concept: “Life” or (since Life implies you care about living things and you don’t) “The Unborn.”

      You get to do fun things like scream at women going into a medical facility and then you can turn around and scream about your precious tax dollars being used to feed welfare babies.

      The reason I say that is that like heterosexual christian homophobes attacking other people for sins you don’t want to (or don’t have the opportunity) to commit is the cheapest form of grace seeking there can be.

      Or do commit but it is OK because it is you and if it is accepted you won’t get the thrill of sinning.

      But really, there is no grace in this, unless you ignore J Dawg’s very clear warnings to mind your own business and worry about the state of your own soul.

      I think the most striking thing about these religious extremists is they show less respect for their supposed Almighty Ruler than atheists. That is, an atheist just doesn’t believe.

      The talevangical believes in God. Believes He knows everything, including what you’re thinking. He claims that Jesus is his savior and waves a Bible around. But they think He won’t notice that they purposely ignored Jesus’ teachings and were willing to spend time and money to “Save the unborn,” but begrudged a single cent being spent on the living who were in need?

      Gee, you’d almost suspect that their God is an excuse for them to act up, in the same way they use their concern about the unborn, or the “Moral Fibre of America” (another fine abstract concept).

      • Karen says:

        I’m a conventional Christian and this drives me crazy. Jesus was very specific that devotion to abstract rules was worthless and actually made the devotee subject to condemnation. If they spent half the time actually working with the poor as they do justifying why they don’t, the world would be a much better place. Of course, that would require them to stop congratulating themselves for not being Publicans.

        • (Shakezula) says:

          You aren’t using Jesus the big brother who will beat up the other kids if they don’t let you have your way and God as the cranky Daddy who will issue a whuppin’ when He gets home.

          In fact, that’s probably why they get so upset by the “Lack of Traditional Values” and want to return to the “Good Old Days,” AKA America as a Christian Nation.

          Gaining compliance through threats of eternal damnation is really hard when people don’t share your beliefs and aren’t afraid to say so.

      • DrDick says:

        More importantly, there is no biblical foundation for this doctrine. There are only two sort of references to abortion in the Bible (both in the Pentateuch). The first states that it is not murder. The second actually mandates it for a woman suspected of adultery. It is my understanding that for most of the Orthodox rabbinate life begins at birth.

        • mds says:

          The first states that it is not murder.

          Are you possibly referring to the penalties for assaulting a pregnant woman? Because that’s true only if you accept almost every translation ever. The folks at Zondervan got tired of being hit over the head with Exodus 21:22-23, and with having their dumbshit attempts at sophistry laughed at by people who could read. So they issued a new Bible translation which “clarifies” that Exodus 21:22 is referring to a premature birth rather than a miscarriage**. Remember, these are the people who go on ad nauseam about how the Bible is the literal, inerrant, unchanging Word of God, fixing the King James Version’s “ambiguity.”

          **”A severe beating caused me to deliver prematurely at seven months, and we’re wandering through Sinai and living in tents, so of course the baby will be fine. Why do you ask?”***

          ***Substitute “at six months,” or even earlier, for increasing hilarity.

      • rea says:

        Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

        And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

      • Bruce Baugh says:

        It’s reification all the way down, really. We must protect Life; actual lives are irrelevant. We must protect Freedom; who cares about whether people can actually form goals and pursue them? And on and on.

    • Karen says:

      Exactly. The guy these people claim to like so much had an opinion about that: “3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

      4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

      5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

      6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,”. Matthew 23: 3 – 6

    • Code Name Cain says:

      We are stuck with these horrifically cruel, selfish, delusional people. There will always be at least 27 percent of the population that pursue these inhumane policies.

      I don’t have delusions that our debates are held by political or moral philosophers but I think the reason so much of the population hasn’t budged at all on this issue is because it’s the worst discussed issue in politics. I’ve rarely seen any more than the most shallow of conversations on this topic. Seemingly no one in the media ever points out saying abortion is wrong “because god said so” is obviously bankrupt because 1) that’s an obvious appeal to theocracy and 2) the Bible says no such thing. Indeed, it makes it clear fetuses aren’t valued like infants, and infants themselves not valued like adults.

      This to say nothing of the failure to have a real debate over the actual question underpinning this issue, “What makes life valuable?”, which would take the anti-choicers into ridiculous conclusions if you take their stated position seriously.

      • (Shakezula) says:

        I’ve rarely seen any more than the most shallow of conversations on this topic.

        Where are you seeing these conversations and who are the participants? Because I’ve witnessed some that I assume would meet your definition of deep.”

        • Code Name Cain says:

          I’d like to be pointed in the direction of these conversations but I meant the Beltway media, political debates and the like. To be more specific, I don’t mean long pieces in the NY Times or the New Yorker, where there may have been such pieces in years past (unfortunately I regularly read neither) but places like the Sunday shows, Anderson Cooper, or popular liberal media figures.

          Granted I’ve only been reading about reproductive health for a couple years, but from what I’ve seen popular liberals who cover abortion, be it Amanda Marcotte, Rachel Maddow or Chris Hayes, know they largely talking to other liberals and thus focus on the damage the latest anti-choice legislation is doing to women, the misogyny supporting it and the fight to stop it. These are definitely points worth making but mostly a different genre from attempts to point out the logical failures in the anti-choice position.

          Now, personally I’ve had a few such more foundational conversations but in general it seems anti-choicers are unwilling to discuss the logic behind their abortion position. That’s partially why I think it’s important to point out these failures.

          • aimai says:

            Who is talking to who, here? The evangelicals and anti choicers have their own house organs. If you listened to Limbaugh or read in evangelical circles you would see that they spend half their time exhorting their own flock and half their time innoculating their flock against what they see as specious arguments against theocracy and god and morality. Maddow et al are not, in fact, engaged in a conversation with the far right because no conversation is happening.

            And most of what happens with respect to anti abortion law and regulation happens far from Washington and even federal law anyway. It happens in the states and it happens in state legislatures first, and those people are not watching Maddow or suddenly turning to one another and saying “wow! I never thought about the illogical nature of my commitment to the blastocyst!”

            Finally what you think is persuasive, like what you think is the place where such conversations happen, are very culturally bound and, if I may say so, absurdly irrelevant to where politics happens in this country, and how it happens. Pro Choice and Anti-Choice are at war over women’s bodies and lives. There isn’t a cease fire coming and there is no sensible discussion over a diplomatic table. This is war to the knife.

            • Code Name Cain says:

              As I think you’ll see below, I don’t disagree with you that the crazies are beyond reaching. I have no expectations that the far right can be persuaded nor do I believe that encouraging sound arguments takes precedence over the ground work needed to win immediate political battles. As Shakezula put it, I could have just said the mainstream media is terrible on this issue.

              Basically, my point is you can get away with the same non-argument today anti-choicers have been making for generations without being challenged. There’s been no progress on this front the way there has been for other liberal social issues like obvious racism, sexism and homophobia. Eventually it became unacceptable to say god made black people inferior, that AIDS is a punishment for being gay or to assert the right for a man to rape his wife. I think the media plays a big role in determining what are acceptable positions to hold and what arguments can be made but there’s been little progress on abortion for decades.

              Of course the national media doesn’t win pressing state battles over abortion rights, people need to get out there and fight to stop immediate threats to women, I just think better public discourse would be hugely beneficial in the long term to winning minds.

              • pseudalicious says:

                One of the major things that made a difference for gay rights was coming out of the closet. If no one close to you (that you know of) is gay, it’s easy to go, “Gays are gross” or, “Welllll, I think it’s a sin, but as long as they keep it out of my face.” Basically the equivalent to, “Well, *I’d* never get an abortion, but I guess I wouldn’t ban it.” The “just don’t flaunt it” attitude towards LGBT people is, I’d argue, completely unacceptable in the mainstream media right now (by which I mean pundits, anchors, etc.). Which is great, btw, it certainly took goddamn long enough.

                A lot of women — my own sister! — do the whole, “*I’d* never do it, but I don’t think it should be banned” thing. Maybe it’s because they don’t know anybody who’s had an abortion. Or they only know one person, and that person isn’t a close friend. Maybe there needs to be a mass coming-out movement. Idk. I feel like these kinds of coming-out movements *have* happened (the I’m Not Sorry site, stuff like that), so maybe that’s the wrong approach, maybe it doesn’t work, idk.

                • aimai says:

                  Well, the country is so damned divided that the people who would have to come out are all, literally at this point, republicans or in red states. They assume that us blue staters just have abortions all the time anyway so even if ordinary (white) blue state women start coming forward with their stories of having had abortions that won’t affect things at all. But women in red states are literally taking their lives in their hands exposing themselves to legal repercussions, job loss, and family violence if they admit to having had abortions. Its an enormous risk–comperable to that of coming out as gay, yes, because there has been a ton of violence associated with that. But lots of people wait until they are at a safe distance to come out.

            • (Obviously not) MAJeff says:

              anti choicers

              I’ve watched people try to make this label popular for decades and perhaps those who only talk with other liberals might think it has become popular. But I’ve never, ever seen it used anywhere other than a bat-shit crazy left-wing blog.

      • aimai says:

        I don’t agree that the public conversations are “shallow”–I just think that the public conversations are so angry (on the far right) and so saturated with violence and with manichean thinking that there is no having a conversation in the first place. If you attend to what evangelicals and anti-choice activists are saying they first block the exits from the kind of conversation they want to have and then they throw out any moderate voices and then they begin screaming at the top of their lungs about murderers and the death of the entire society. You can’t have a conversation about anything with people who begin by calling you a hell borne murdereress for promoting contraception use and inexpensive health care. Let alone a conversation about theocracy with people who are, basically, dominionists.

        • Code Name Cain says:

          I should have been more clear, I definitely don’t want a conversation with the crazies who are the leaders of the movement and as you point out no such thing is possible. What I want is the media to treat the claim “god said so” with regards to abortion the way much of the media now treats that argument with regards to gay marriage despite there still being assholes, like almost every Republican, who claim gay marriage will lead to bestiality and the end of society. However, even moderate anchors are now likely to point out the bible also condemns shellfish as an abomination so singling out gay marriage just won’t do.

          Too often, what you get instead is professions of “I believe life starts at conception” and no one even bothers to ask why public laws should adhere to their beliefs about what they think their god believes.

          This really isn’t about winning over the hard-liners, as it rarely is in politics, but the media making people at least put up an argument for their position and thereby winning anyone over anyone who can be won to the only remotely logically defensible position

    • Dilan Esper says:

      Maybe there is no point in saying this, certainly there is no particular point in saying it here, but at the very bottom of all this right wing fixation on the embryo is a kind of moral cowardice and desire to stand well with god on the cheap. The reason I say that is that like heterosexual christian homophobes attacking other people for sins you don’t want to (or don’t have the opportunity) to commit is the cheapest form of grace seeking there can be.

      This is so true. (Indeed, it is true of many, many forms of moral Puritanism.)

      Without defending such a person, it seems to me that the “pro-lifer” who gives away his or her money to the poor and volunteers in soup kitchens and otherwise meaningfully sacrifices for his or her religious faith has a lot more standing to complain about abortion that the person who doesn’t.

  4. Denverite says:

    Scott, if I recall correctly, you’ve done a (very good) post in the past defending Roe on its merits. You might link to it?

  5. Manta says:

    “The contraceptive mandate isn’t the only issue spurring a new generation of pro-life advocates: Several thousand inmates await execution while complete strangers lobby for their exoneration.”

    How serious are they about it?

    • Ralph Wiggum says:

      When they start campaigning as actively for anti-death penalty candidates as much as anti-abortion candidates, that’s when I’ll believe they’re serious.

      Also note the word ‘exonerate’ – they’re picking the ones they think are probably innocent. The rest can – almost literally – go hang.

      • Manta says:

        I am pretty sure that
        * a few popes did intervene for some condemned men (irrespective of their innocence)
        * catholic doctrine is pretty firm against death penalty

        However, the fact that in such campaigns the death penalty is an afterthought would not surprise me in the least.

        • aimai says:

          Name me a single, actual, Republican candidate for office who is running an explicitly anti-death penalty campaign for a state or federal office? Name me even one Catholic politician, on the right, who will admit to being anti-death penalty? As far as I know despite pronouncements from the Vatican no major or minor Republican politician considers the death penalty on a par with abortion as a political issue.

          • Hogan says:

            For that matter, name me one Catholic bishop who has ever denied communion to an elected official for supporting the death penalty. As any Jesuit will tell you, there’s doctrine and doctrine.

  6. Lurker says:

    On a purely theoretical level I believe that a fetus that has developed to certain extent has a limited set of rights, just like higher mammals. For example, it is wrong to harm a 36th week fetus just for fun. I also believe that the right of such fetus to live may, in certain circumstances have a priority to the privacy rights of its mother.

    However, those circumstances would require at least that:
    * Safe, free abortion has been readily available for the woman
    * The woman has made an informed decision not to abort
    * There is no particular danger (larger than associated with childbirth in general) to the woman’s health

    In such situation, the woman would have consciously allowed the fetus to reach viability, and would have waived her right to decide on her pregnancy. In such hypothetical case, the fetus’s right would override woman’s right to change her mind.

    These circumstances do not exist in the US, however, so my theoretical opposition to abortion does not affect my political pro-choice stance.

    • Rob in CT says:

      And that strikes me as a reasonable position. There’s a reason the Roe court tried to divvy up pregnancy into stages. It’s a process, and 36 weeks is a helluva lot different than 26, which is a helluva lot different than 16.

      At ~8 wks, my first daughter was a tadpole (slight exaggeration). At 34 weeks, she was born, and while she was small and weak, she was a baby. The only thing she couldn’t quite do was eat (too weak to eat enough on her own for ~2 weeks. Fine after that).

      The question is “at what point does the developing fetus’ right to live trump the mother’s right to control her own body?” For some, the answer to this question is “never.” Legally, I (with some reluctance) agree with that, for a bunch of reasons that would make this post TL/DR. Basically: morally, I think aborting a fetus at 30+ weeks because you just then decide not to have a kid is repugnant. Thing is, I think this just about never happens. There is very little late-term abortion, and within that I believe the vast majority of it has to do with health of the mother or major birth defects of the fetus. And, even if this is not the case, my personal moral judgment is not necessarily a great template for the law. So, in the end, I end up with a pro-choice, no restrictions stance that doesn’t make me feel the warm glow of moral supreriority…

    • aimai says:

      How nice for you! You do realize that there are lots of kinds of fetuses and lots of kinds of pregnancies such that a woman who had passed your theoretical limit of time before she is considered to have “waived her right” to terminate her pregnancy might be in danger of death from the fetus’s continued habitation in her womb? That there are fetuses who are discovered, very late in the pregnancy, to be so damaged genetically that from the moment of technical birth they are dying in horrible agony? That there are acephalous fetuses what have literally no brain above the brain stem?

      • (Shakezula) says:

        More importantly, I’m really sick of hearing about the hypothetical woman who waits until she is eight months pregnant and then up and decides she doesn’t want to have the baby after all.

        NO ONE FUCKING DOES THIS.

        • Denverite says:

          Yes, but I’ve counted in my imagination, and there are precisely 47 angels on the head of that pin.

        • Drew says:

          Exactly. No one gets a late term abortion for non medical reasons. It’s virtually unheard of. As I said below, this sort of “theoretical” level thinking is how the pro-life movement won Carhart. Don’t think of it theoretically, think of it empirically. Everyone who thinks late term abortions are a serious issue or need to be banned MUST read the outstanding Ginsburg dissent in Carhart.

          • (Shakezula) says:

            Even if we were such flighty bitches that this was a common occurrence, in practical terms there are two huge hurdles – Finding a doctor who will perform the surgery and paying for it.

            Because if you go to a doctor and say “You know, I just can’t decide what color to paint the nursery, so please remove this 8 month fetus.” The doctor will think you’re a lawsuit waiting to happen and send you away.

            And if by chance he thinks you’re mentally incapable of having a child (which wouldn’t be too unreasonable) an insurance company probably won’t cover it, or will at least demand a lot more than the doctor’s assertion that you’re too nuts.

      • Rob in CT says:

        While I was already pro-choice, when some friends discovered (~20 wk mark) that one of their twins just wasn’t going to be viable, it was rather clarifying. I’d then read about people screeching making abortions illegal after some arbitrary cutoff (often right around 20 wks) and connect the dots.

        I think you’re absolutely right about the cheap moralism driving this. The thrill of feeling morally righteous at no particular expense to oneself. Speaking of icky.

        • Denverite says:

          That’s awful, by the way. We had a brief scare around 35 weeks when the doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat on one of them. Everything turned out fine, but it prompted us to do an immediate C-section. Good thing, too. The other one had a true knot in the umbilical cord that could have caused serious problems during natural childbirth.

          • Rob in CT says:

            Yikes. Glad that worked out!

            My friends basically had to sweat the 2nd half of the pregnancy (the concern was if the unhealthy fetus died, that could harm the healthy one, but you can’t just take one out and leave the other in, so…). It worked out as well as it could. The healthy one made it and is doing great. His brother lived for… 3 hours or so?

        • Lurker says:

          Please note that I’m from a country which provides free abortion, but restricts the reasons after 12 weeks. In case of a serious deformation, abortion is allowed until 24 weeks.

          In addition, the pregnant woman is provided two free ultrasounds at 12 weeks and 20 weeks, respectively. I can, having pregnant wife, and having been present at both ultrasound exams, that we would definitely have aborted if the exam results would have warranted it. We discussed the issue and considered that it would be our social duty to prevent the birth of a child that would only burden us and the society. (Such thing needs to be discussed beforehand, because if there is a deformity, then the abortion is conducted the same or the following day.) I can also tell you that the worry and anxiety when going to either exam was palpable, for both of us, because we want children.

          In our case, I would consider it unconscionable to have a late-term abortion. So, abortion and the related moral questions differ from society to society. While in the US the late-discovered deformities are a larger issue, a properly organised healthcare system can reach all pregnant women early in their pregnancies and detect deformities early. Although the Finnish organisations of people with disability do question the pregnancy screening system. They feel that the systematic abortion of Down Syndrome fetuses decreases the human value of those who are born with it.

          • aimai says:

            You might have noticed that one party in this country is actively interfereing with the ability of women of all ages to access prenatal care or even basic care at all. There are lots of women in this country who don’t EVER see a doctor and don’t know that they are pregnant until close to 12 weeks. You can’t easily get prenatal medical care, get an ultrasound, or get the various tests that tell you about fetal deformity at all in some states (or for some women) and accessing them may push you past the magic 12 or 18 or 10 week stage. In addition some states have moved to set a hard “20 week deadline” with the count beginning on the date of the woman’s last menstrual period so that you could legally be found to be “20 weeks pregnant” when you are, in fact, much less. (This has been struck down so far by the courts but nothing is ever settled here).

            At any rate its touching that you think that your personal feelings about pregnancy and abortion here in the US, where women are literally going to die for lack of basic health care and abortion services, is interesting to the rest of us. Its not theoretical to us.

            • Lurker says:

              My position, as I thought I made clear is that in a country like US, the only correct solution is to have all kinds of abortion allowed without further questions. I was talking from theoretical standpoint.

          • Anonymous says:

            In our case, I would consider it unconscionable to have a late-term abortion.

            Let me ask you a question. Do you think your feelings / “conscience” should dictate the freedoms and limitations of other people to protect their bodies according to their own “conscience”?

            • Lurker says:

              Depends on the importance of the issue. On the most basic level, I cannot imagine any other basis than shared morality for legislation. There is no objective morality that would mandate any kind of rights to anyone. One can select an internally consistent set of moral values that result in most repugnant results. Thus, any legislation is essentially arbitrary enforcement of the majority’s moral values. (Even laws prohibiting murder of human adults.)

              Yet, there is a set of values that seem to be more or less common to all peoples and even to most primates. On this basis, we can build a multicultural and secular society.

              When it comes to the enforcement of my philosophical stances on abortion, I would not take any measures towards that direction. To me, certain forms of abortion under certain circumstances are morally repugnant, but less so than cruelty to animals. I would be ready to support legislation banning that, but not abortion cases I disagree with. The decision whether to abort is at the same level of moral importance than a decision whether to euthanize one’s dog. Inappropriate behaviour should cause social displeasure but no civil or criminal consequences.

      • DrDick says:

        My ex-wife’s aunt did not discover she was pregnant with her youngest child until quite late in her term (the last 2 months).

    • (Shakezula) says:

      Where the hell are these people who are harming fetuses for fun?

    • rea says:

      Well, this is pretty much what Roe holds.

    • Anonymous says:

      I also believe that the right of such fetus to live may, in certain circumstances have a priority to the privacy rights of its mother.

      Nice wishy-washy euphemism, there, with the “privacy rights.” It’s actually bodily autonomy, and all your “theoretical,” abstract misgivings look sort of shallow, don’t they, when you wax philosophical about removing, inhibiting, restricting the bodily autonomy of other people, don’t they?

      • Anonymous says:

        Too many “don’t theys” there.

      • aimai says:

        Thank you! I wanted to say something about that, too. Is “privacy rights” standing in for “we ought to force all women to undergo random drug testing during pregnancy to protect the fetus?” Or are we willing to go even farther and lock them up? Chain them to the hospital bed? Because these are all things that have been done to pregnant women in the name of the fetus.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes. Calling them “privacy” rights elides the physical, visceral, and psychological harm in violating them. It’s a pre-emptive attempt at warding off criticism by suggesting that “privacy” is something we ALL have to sacrifice for polite society, and that women who balk at the suggestion want some additional freedom, are being, in some way, selfish. The primitive existence of a fetus or zygote is being weighed here as equal to the life of a sentient human, but we’re supposed to pretend that the human’s life isn’t being risked and toyed with, merely her “privacy,” the over-delicate little creature.

          It’s a very disgusting and disingenuous argument. I hate that it’s being presented by someone who claims to be “pro-choice.”

      • GoDeep says:

        I’m going to throw him a bone. No right is without limit. I’m strongly pro-choice, but this specific case illustrated for me that there are limits to privacy/bodily autonomy rights.

        But now an apparently skeptical doctor and a social worker accused her of endangering her unborn child because she had refused to accept their order to start on an anti-addiction drug.

        Ms. Beltran, 28, was taken in shackles before a family court commissioner who, she says, brushed aside her pleas for a lawyer. To her astonishment, the court had already appointed a legal guardian for the fetus.

        “I didn’t know unborn children had lawyers,” recalled Ms. Beltran, now six months pregnant, after returning to her home north of Milwaukee from a court-ordered 78-day stay at a drug treatment center. “I said, ‘Where’s my lawyer?’ ”

        Under a Wisconsin law known as the “cocaine mom” act when it was adopted in 1998, child-welfare authorities can forcibly confine a pregnant woman who uses illegal drugs or alcohol “to a severe degree,” and who refuses to accept treatment.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/24/us/case-explores-rights-of-fetus-versus-mother.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=1&pagewanted=all&

        If this woman wanted to have an abortion, I’m fine with that. But she doesn’t have the right to condemn her kid to birth defects. This is prolly the first time I ever saw a case where I thought, “yeah, the kid has some rights here”.

        • PhedUp says:

          You picked a very bad example.

          The doctors etc. didn’t know she was currently using drugs. She had admitted to using them in the past. And there were risks to the fetus from using the anti-addiction medication they wanted to force her to use.

          So what will be the upshot of that? Better never tell your doctor you’ve ever used drugs. Or maybe even don’t bother with doctors until delivery. That’ll be good for everyone.

          On top of which, anyone could start using such drugs at any time, so better just lock up women the minute anyone else knows they’re pregnant. Just to be safe of course and protect the life of that fetus.

          Get it out of your head that the fetus has any rights. It doesn’t. Only people can have rights. Like the actual human who is pregnant. Whom you seem prepared to ignore in your fevered dreams of special circumstances.

          • GoDeep says:

            You’re right, PhedUp, that in the umpteen years that WI has had this law its been a parade of horribles. Women never tell their DRs anything. Hell, women don’t even visit their DRs. And, that’s b/cs, as you’ve predicted, all the women in WI have been locked up.

            While I agree with you that fetuses don’t have rights, I do believe that children have a right not to be born w/ birth defects b/cs their parents did things with significant, known risks. Suppose your parents knowingly & purposefully ingested, oh let’s just say Agent Orange, you’d say that if you were born w/ defects, that’s just how the ol’ dice roll? That’s perfectly ok w/ you? …I didn’t think so.

            Like I said, if you want to get an abortion then God bless you, but if you want to carry your child to term then please don’t do anything to intentionally endanger their health.

    • Drew says:

      As long as you recognize medical exemptions for late term abortions that’s perfectly reasonable. But it’s basically a non-issue. Late term abortions virtually never happen for non-medical reasons.

      What was the partial birth abortjon case, Gonzales v Carhart? I highly recommend that everyone on the fence on this issue read the outstanding Ginsburg dissent in that case. Basically, and you can tell from the characteristically purple prose laden and loosely reasoned Kennedy opinion, that the pro-lifers won the framing issue on partial birth abortion. They won the imagery framing. And they managed to convince a lot of idiots I went to high school with (including teachers) that this was how most abortions were performed or, failing that, that it was very common, when the opposite was true.

      I only say this because you scared me when you said “on a theoretical level.” No. That type of thinking is how the pro-life movement won Carhart. Don’t think of it theoretically, think of it in practice.

      • aimai says:

        I’d like to add that the notion that you can know everything that is going to go wrong with a fetus before 12-18 weeks is jus tnonsense. There are tests they don’t do, or abnormalities which are so rare they aren’t tested for, that do not reveal themselves by that point in time. There are conditions like placenta previa, accidents in the womb, and mysterious wasting diseases which prevent the fetus from developing normally. There is tons that can happen between your imaginary ideal “cut off” point and the actual 9 months birth which could change your estimation of the health of the fetus, its quality of life, or the safety of the pregnancy for the woman. I, personally, have friends who had a child born with Tay Sachs–they didn’t abort and never would have aborted but they also didn’t test for Tay Sachs because neither of them knew there was even a chance they could be carriers. They had to endure 2 years of watching a nominally healthy baby die, horribly, of TS.

        This is not merely a philosophical question over here but even if it were a philosophical question your philosophical construct: fetus, woman, situation, time, development, illness, quality of life–all need to be faithful to more than just some sterile, experience distant, notion that everything develops as planned between zygote and baby crowning.

        • Lurker says:

          Again, we are much closer in practice than un theory. I, too, agree that the issues must be pondered in their totality. In particular, the medical issues and the quality of life must be taken into account. For example, your case of a fetus that was detected to have a lethal, painful disformity is essentially such a case where all solutions are bad.Supposing it is a late-pregnancy fetus, and removing it is necessary, I would surgically remove it in a way that would not intentionally kill it, if possible. Then I would administer pain medication liberally, while abstaining from intensive care. If it lives, it lives. If if dies, it dies. (The same as with any terminally ill person.)

          This way, I would try to avoid active killing and unnecessary pain in a situation where death is inevitable. Of course assuming sufficient medical resources. In a situation with more limited resources, the situation would be different.

          • aimai says:

            There’s a level of creepy detail there that is just kind of jaw dropping. Plus I’m fascinated by the way the woman around the fetus and her medical needs just disappear.

            Supposing it is a late-pregnancy fetus, and removing it is necessary, I would surgically remove it in a way that would not intentionally kill it, if possible. Then I would administer pain medication liberally, while abstaining from intensive care. If it lives, it lives. If if dies, it dies. (The same as with any terminally ill person.)

            This is just beyond creepy.

            I understand that English is not your first language and also that you are comparatively young but also married to a woman and a parent but christ on a cracker the most important thing in a therapeutic abortion is not that you, personally, lurker, have your most fetishistic fantasies of not being responsible for causing the death of a potentially sentient being massaged.

            No one is asking you to perform abortions so what you would want to have done is of no relevance. People who have taken the hippocratic oath have to also take into account the pain and suffering of the adult woman in whose body the fetus is incubating. Hopefully those people around that actual, fully human person, spend a little more time thinking about what she and her family need than worrying about their own position.

          • (Shakezula) says:

            And when the pain medication starts interfering with the baby’s heart beat or breathing you’ll ease up on the pain medicine because you personally don’t want to kill it. But what if the stress caused by the pain also endangers the baby’s life?

            Also, will you be feeding the infant or is the steady diet of opiates all you have in mind?

            • aimai says:

              I think his addition of “same as with any terminally ill person” makes it clear that his comments refer only to an idealized world–and maybe finland is that world–where there are both unlimited resources for medical care at end of life and a system run by compassionate philosopher doctors and nurses. Needless to say this has nothing in common with the reality even terminally ill people face in the US or, again, post death women who have a fetus in their body in Texas.

              Not only are terminally ill patients routinely denied palliative analgesic/anasthetic care in many hospitals for fear they will become addicted to opiates, or because the medical professionals or local communities dissaprove of letting people sleep their way to death, or because the subjective reports of pain and suffering they are experiencing are not respected but people routinely have procedures done to them to prolong their lives which they have expressely forbidden.

              The border between natural death and prolonged half life can be interminable. Dragging it out isn’t some kind of meritorious acceptance of fate. Its just a different kind of moral cowardice.

              • Lee Rudolph says:

                an idealized world–and maybe finland is that world–where there are both unlimited resources for medical care at end of life

                That would be why they call it fin-land, all right.

                Provided they spoke French.

            • Lurker says:

              Essentially, when the person is terminally ill, the ethical procedure is to disregard the strain of the pain medication to the person’s breathing. (Of course with the acceptance of the patients or their loved ones). It is the quality of life that is to be preserved, not the life itself. If death is hastened, it is acceptable as long as it is not the objective of the care.

              • (Shakezula) says:

                There you have it folks.

                Rather than terminate the pregnancy per the woman’s desires, Lurker wants to perform a major surgery on the woman (from which she’d have a long recovery) so he can play with the disastrously deformed infant for a bit because he is concerned about quality of life.

                Troll or douchewad?

                • Anonymous says:

                  Secular bro just itching to bother a god or two, I reckon.

                • Lurker says:

                  If you read my comments elsewhere, you should see I am not a troll, as my posts are not regularly as inflammatory as on this topic. I may have personal failings, but I do stand behind my words. So, a douchebag, if you will.

                • Aimai says:

                  Common or garden variety douchebag, white male variety. B+ for persistence in marketing a petty form of the god delusion while women try to remind him that the entire rest of humanity ate not, in fact, little tokens that he moves around on a board.

  7. aimai says:

    My abortion is moral, your’s isn’t.

    Time to put up this link, a classic.

    But I would like to add that there is something profoundly disturbing about Lurker’s judgmentalism on abortion, driven as it is by an ignorance of fetal development, the nature of pregnancy, and the many forms that living tissue can take. The healthy, bouncing, normal baby that gets aborted at 35 weeks? Doesn’t exist–or where it does exist the traditional method pursued by society is that your abusive husband throws you down the stairs or kicks you in the stomach. The tiny embryo and then part-formed fetus of the first few months? Not fully human. The costs to the woman surrounding the fetus? Simply factored out of the equation, like pregnancy is the same as letting a friend borrow an unused room in your house.

    I’ve been pregnant twice, successfully, but it was no physical picnic. I injured myself so severely by coughing during my second pregnancy that I threw out my ribs and was in pain for the entire of the last four months of the pregnancy. Swelling legs, loose ligaments, fetus induced gestational diabetes, heartburn, reflux, and pre-eclampsia are all incredibly common. Poverty, hard physical labor, family duties–all of these make being pregnant itself an enormous health risk for women and their families. No outsider with a stop watch and one of those perky “my baby is now the size of a cantaloupe! My baby is now the size of a puppy!” timelines can begin to encompass the physical, emotional, and social danger that some pregnant women face towards the middle and latter end of a difficult pregnancy.

    • Rob in CT says:

      Regarding the “mine’s moral and yours isn’t” idea, didn’t Santorum’s wife basically have an abortion that they don’t call an abortion?

      • Hogan says:

        The childbirth in 1996 was a source of terrible heartbreak — the couple were told by doctors early in the pregnancy that the baby Karen was carrying had a fatal defect and would survive only for a short time outside the womb. According to Karen Santorum’s book, ”Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum,” she later developed a life-threatening intrauterine infection and a fever that reached nearly 105 degrees. She went into labor when she was 20 weeks pregnant. After resisting at first, she allowed doctors to give her the drug Pitocin to speed the birth. Gabriel lived just two hours.

        • Rob in CT says:

          Ah. A little different than I thought. They added Pitocin but she was already in labor. Spontaneous abortion rather than abortion.

          Not that it makes their position on the matter ok. But the level of hypocrisy I thought was in play, isn’t.

          • aimai says:

            Oh, no, its not any different from an abortion at all. If they hadn’t put her into an induced labor and killed the fetus doing it the mother would have died. She was not in labor, her body was not going to naturally expel the fetus in time for her not to die of the fever/infection, so they chose her life over the fetuses just like lots of other women do. Remember Santorum and his wife explicitly do not believe that a woman is entitled to an abortion if her life/health/fertility are in danger. Other women should die without medical intervention if that intervention will result in the death of the fetus.

            • Hogan says:

              Well, except that in this case non-intervention was also going to result in the death of the fetus.

              • aimai says:

                Well, the catholic church strictly forbids “abortion” in the case of ectopic pregnancy where there is no real fetus at all, alive or dead, but only a misplaced blastocyst that will kill the woman so the status of the fetus, alive or dead, doesn’t factor into the true anti-abortion fanatic’s approach.

                • Snarki, child of Loki says:

                  Well, what kind of invisible sky fairy deity doesn’t want a human sacrifice now and then?

                  BTW, Odin would really appreciate a few 1%ers hung from trees, but he’s not as pushy as in the old days.

            • Rob in CT says:

              The quoted bit says this:

              She went into labor when she was 20 weeks pregnant. After resisting at first, she allowed doctors to give her the drug Pitocin to speed the birth.

              If that’s wrong, ok. But if it’s right, she was already in labor, contrary to your assertion. Pitocin was to speed it up and yes, save her life. Which was obviously the correct decision.

          • aimai says:

            Oh, I wanted to add that Santorum and his wife both play fast and loose with the language used to describe what happened because they don’t want to cop to it. You are not considered to “go into labor” when the fetus is 20 weeks or, if you do and you want to keep the baby the medical professionals intervene in order to stop the labor and they put you on bed rest and they try to keep the baby from coming. She was dying, her body was attempting to expel the baby, and they couldn’t treat her successfully without giving her an induction (thats what pitocin is used for: it kicks the body into labor when the body isn’t going into natural labor. I had it myself when my first daughter was two weeks overdue) so she could expel a fetus which could not live outside the womb and they could treat the mother for her life threatening condition.

        • TribalistMeathead says:

          Then they made the kids cuddle the fetus.

    • Lurker says:

      I think I am quite aware of the human fetal development. I am aware of the different problems that can arise during the pregnancy. I also firmly believe that in the US, the only viable and socially correct solution is a non-restricted abortion regime.

      However, the moral questions surrounding the different stages of life are not clear-cut. For example, we all probably agree that a new-born infant has all human rights, including social and economic rights as any person, regardless of their ailments. On the other hand, the 12 week fetus is less sapient than a frog. The situation changes gradually.

      Having an adult relative who is, due to inborn disability, less developed than certain gorillas, I am loath to restrict the rights if the less-than-human beings in a too straight-forward manner. Such clear-cut division might leave my loved one on the wrong side of the human-non-human line.

      • Scott S. says:

        Are you also aware of all Internet traditions?

        • Lurker says:

          Sorry. I got a bit incensed due to Aimai’s ad hominem attack. Being called ignorant only because I happen to hold a different philosophical viewpoint, while agreeing with her on political issue itself is vexing. Yet, my self-aggrandizement was unnecessary.

          • Anonymous says:

            You are the only commenter here, thus far, who has forcefully shoved morality and personal conscience into this discussion.

            This is not strictly a political issue for most people here. Understand that, or risk people disagreeing with you.

            • Lurker says:

              This is an issue of morals. All political issues are. It is, in the US, mainly a question of social justice. In addition, it intersects the questions of bodily autonomy, of sentience and of the limits of humanity with the worth of life. As such, it is an extremely interesting question of moral philosophy.

              • Hogan says:

                As such, it is an extremely interesting question of moral philosophy.

                No doubt, but it’s also an extremely fraught question of US politics and culture, and this comment section is always going to be a tough room for philosophical musings on abortion unmoored from that reality. Especially if it features:

                For example, it is wrong to harm a 36th week fetus just for fun.

                It’s wrong to harm pretty much anything capable of being harmed just for fun. Who really needs to be reminded of that?

              • Anonymous says:

                As such, it is an extremely interesting question of moral philosophy.

                You are a dehumanizing asshole. Take your morals and shove them.

          • aimai says:

            What’s the ad hominem in my post? That I posted a response to your theoretical noodling and logic chopping by pointing out that women in this country die while men stand around chin stroking and considering all their philosphical options and that, as a result, some people are less than fascinated by your contribution to the chin stroking debate? It was certainly very unfeeling of me but I don’t think that qualifies as an ad hominem.

          • (Shakezula) says:

            Oh dear, did a mean nasty woman, in the heat of discussing a very real and pressing issue that impacts how all women are treated in this country, forget to take your feelings into account?

            There there. There there there.

          • Origami Isopod says:

            Cry moar. I’m also fucking sick of having what is a real-life issue for me — I’ve had pregnancy scares before, like most women, and a pregnancy would be disastrous for me on multiple levels — turned into an intellectual parlor game by people who will never experience an unwanted pregnancy.

      • DrDick says:

        It is interesting to see your obsession with the hypothetical “rights” of the unborn contrasted to your seeming indifference to the impacts on actual living human beings.

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