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Murder With Fries?

Amy Alkon on abortion for Pajamas Media

Is abortion murder? Is eating a cheeseburger? I approach the first question the same way I approached a question in my syndicated advice column from a meat-eating woman whose vegetarian boyfriend was becoming increasingly abusive about her choice of entree. In her words, “When we eat out, and I mention that my food smells wonderful, he launches into a tirade about how I’ve made an animal suffer a horrendous death because of my eating habits.” Mmm…genteel! (Why are the “be kind to animals” types so often such jerks to other humans?)

Personally, my preferred habitat for a cow is on a bun on my plate. That said, I buy free-range meat, and believe animals should be raised and killed humanely. I also believe animals are lesser creatures than humans, and do not deserve the same rights, as rights come with responsibilities. We don’t, for example, hold a hyena responsible for eating a gazelle -- we can’t. I apply the same thinking to the abortion issue. While a clump of cells or even a large gathering of them that resembles a baby can become a person, it isn’t a full-fledged human being deserving of rights.

It’s possible you think differently. Well, as I wrote to the carnivore with the bunny-hugger boyfriend, “Your boyfriend’s entitled to his beliefs, and you’re entitled to yours.”

Don’t bother accusing me of “moral relativism.” I’ll admit to it freely, and you should, too -- because there’s no definitive answer on whether it’s right or wrong to eat meat or on when a fertilized egg becomes a person. There’s only my opinion and your opinion, and the opinions that shaped them.

As an atheist who lives an evidence- and reason-based life, I turn to science for guidance. Michael S. Gazzaniga, a cognitive neuroscientist who served on President Bush’s Council On Bioethics, explains that a potential person is not a person. In The Ethical Brain, he gives an analogy comparing embryos created for stem cell research to a Home Depot. “You don’t walk into a Home Depot and see thirty houses. You see materials…to create a house.” Likewise, “a fertilized embryo is not a human,” and to give it such status is “patently absurd. When a Home Depot burns down, the headline in the paper is not ‘30 Houses Burn Down.’ It is ‘Home Depot Burned Down.’”

What does religion say about abortion? Well, which religion? Different religions, and even different factions within religions, have different doctrines. According to Susan Weidman Schneider, author of Jewish and Female, Jews believe the fetus becomes a person when the head emerges from the womb. Additionally, Schneider notes, in Judaism, “the life of the fetus does not take precedence over the life of the woman,” which is “the opposite of the Catholic belief that the fetus is alive and must be delivered even if the mother’s life is forfeited.” So, Catholics are not really pro-life, but pro-one-life-over-another?

Reform Jews support aborting when amniocentesis is positive for the deadly genetic disease Tay Sachs. Orthodox Judaism generally prohibits it -- even though a baby will be brought into the world only to endure a few years of terrible suffering, and then death. The same goes for another inherited disorder, Gaucher disease. In an LA Times article taking a dim view of abortion, staff writer Karen Kaplan breezily deems this disease “treatable” -- which it is…for a price, with biweekly enzyme infusions that cost $100,000 to $400,000 a year.

And you wonder why your health insurance costs so much? (I'm guessing Gaucher-positive-testing parents who choose to gamble and bring kids into the world aren't all the private jet/multimillionaire set.) It’s great to have principles, but I’m reminded of a Spanish proverb the therapist Nathaniel Branden once quoted to me: “Take what you need, but pay for it.”

That’s essentially the advice I gave one of the angry sprout-munchers who wrote to chastise me for eating meat. He mentioned his wish to start some great big nature preserve for all the dinner animals out there; apparently, to have the cows roam free, frolicking in the tall grasses (do cows frolic?) until they fall over and die a natural death. What was stopping him? Money. Not surprisingly, he was willing to huff and puff in support of his beliefs, but not-so-willing to pony up cold, hard cash.

That’s the approach I suggest for the anti-abortion crowd. Don’t want women to have abortions? Pay them to have the babies. Pay for the care of the babies after they’re born -- and don’t forget the college educations. And keep funding programs to show people why your point of view is right and mine is wrong. I celebrate your right to speak your point of view. I am, however, completely opposed to your attempts to force your point of view on me. Once again, the solution here parallels the only fair resolution to the meat is/isn’t murder argument: Go ahead and have your Tofurky, but without cramming it down my throat, too.

...

The counterpoint, by Julia Gorin is here.

Posted by aalkon at September 26, 2007 1:41 PM

Comments

kudos. i do think it's odd that you suggest they pay for their kids though. another point you might want to make is to ask them if they want these women in jail (or death row!)

i do have one question though. how does this ("I am, however, completely opposed to your attempts to force your point of view on me.") fit in with your views on cigarettes?

generally speaking, bars and restaurants are privately-owned operations and the government is telling them how to run their businesses because it's for our own good.

i can accept minimum air quality standards for businesses that permit smoking on the premises, and even a smoking ban on public grounds. however, the government has no place regulating the operations of privately owned enterprises in the name of public health.

p.s.: and when the government is in the health care business, this becomes far too easy for the government to rationalize.

Posted by: jody at September 26, 2007 4:40 AM

“the opposite of the Catholic belief that the fetus is alive and must be delivered even if the mother’s life is forfeited.” So, Catholics are not really pro-life, but pro-one-life-over-another?

Well I think the belief is that it should be in "god's hands". However then why are they going to the doctor in the first place, especially when the situation is brought on by invetro.

jody brings up a good point.

Posted by: vlad at September 26, 2007 6:24 AM

The government has no business sticking its nose into a private individual's business unless said individual has broken the law. The government has no business trying to legislate morality. The government has no damn business telling me what I can or cannot do with my own body. And it damn sure has no business getting into bed with any religious organization for any reason whatsoever. What the hell ever happened to "separation of church and state"? Or was that not ever even in the Constitution to begin with?

Posted by: Flynne at September 26, 2007 6:42 AM

"Don’t bother accusing me of “moral relativism.” I’ll admit to it freely, and you should, too "
I either don't understand how you are using "moral relativism" or I'm not seeing how your are being morally relative. Rights come with responsibilities. A cow has no responsibilities thus no rights. You are arguing (and rightly so) that the fetus has no rights due to a lack of responsibility. I'm not seeing the moral relativism here?

Posted by: vlad at September 26, 2007 6:45 AM

Uhm, Flynne, is that some of that "irony" you hear so much about? The phrase "separation of church and state" is nowhere to be found in the constitution. The first amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
The "separation" phrase comes from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802.

Not disagreeing with your overall point, just trying to help you keep your shots in the x-ring.

Posted by: martin at September 26, 2007 6:48 AM

Flynne - There is no "separation of church and state" in the Constitution. Go back and re read it.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Unless the government is telling you that you must belong to a state-run church, is founding a state-run church, or telling you that you cannot go to church, the Constitution is fine.

Oh, and if you don't want the government telling you what to do with your body, then you REALLY don't want government-run health care. In England, a man has been refused surgery to correct a broken ankle because he smokes. They'll give him morphine for the pain, but they won't fix it until he quits smoking.

You might try to argue that imposing what you consider to be someone's religious belief is tantamount to establishment of a state religion, but you would be wrong.

Vlad - Either a human is superior to a cow, or it is not. If it is not, then there is no need for murder statutes. After all, it's perfectly legal to kill a cow for its hide and meat. Why not humans? Because we're better than cattle.

Posted by: brian at September 26, 2007 6:52 AM

I think the argument fails if you do accept the moral relativism.
"There’s only my opinion and your opinion..."
So why go on to quote the neuro-scientist “a fertilized embryo is not a human,”
Sounds like he doesn't think it is relative.

I think you cede too much if you say the religionists are just as correct as you. They can have their opinion, I don't dispute that. But that doesn't mean you should agree their opinion is just as valid.

Posted by: newjonny at September 26, 2007 7:16 AM

"Why not humans? Because we're better than cattle." I never used the word human but fetus which is not a human. Also part of the reason that murder is prohibited is the preservation of civil order. Morality have very little to do with it. The state can execute people (some states) so the sanctity of life gets fuzzy in the overall picture.

Before everyone starts preaching "Because we're better than cattle." try working an EMT in the bad part of any major city. You do that for even a little while and you start to really question this one.

Posted by: vlad at September 26, 2007 7:17 AM

Amy/Everyone - when, in your opinion, does a fetus become a human. After birth? How about the point of viability (which does become sooner as medicine advances)? If a baby could be delivered and survive is aborting it murder?

Posted by: Gretchen at September 26, 2007 7:48 AM

I always thought "My body, my rules, and screw what the rest of you think". Then again, I am very selfish, in that I get to do what I want way.

Posted by: Jamie at September 26, 2007 7:51 AM

Yes, martin, that was "irony", if you will. It just pisses me off when people start in with all their holier-than-thou bullshit because my opinion is different from theirs, and they profess to "know" what's "good" for me or others, when the sleaze bags that make the laws and the bunny-huggers that decry "murder" of animals are so far removed from reality that they can't think straight. And you're right, Brian, I don't want the government running health care any more than I want them in bed with big pharma, even though I realize I'm a tad too late for that one! Our government is going to hell in a handbasket, because it's no longer being run "by the people, for the people", it's being run by big corporations with boatloads of money.

Posted by: Flynne at September 26, 2007 7:53 AM

Two comediennes have at it and all are amused but the debate rages on. Humans are not marsupials and so there always have and ever will be people wanting to have sex and not babies. And they will need help or they will maim themselves. So our medical professionals invest some of their limited resources in killing babies, just as they invest some in reshaping noses.

And the rest of us sit around using our opinions about that state of affairs to arrange ourselves into fashionable groups and political blocs. And then we squawk at each other and somehow delude ourselves that this is persuasive discourse.

Amy, you are talking about two different classes of rights. Purists will go to the mat over this distinction but I am happy to see you couple rights with responsibilities. The rights that are paired with responsibilities are the ones you get through compact with your fellow citizens. Your neighbors defend your rights and you defend theirs out of selfish concern for respective interests. An unborn child, like Dred Scott, has no rights of this class that anyone is bound to respect.

The other class of rights is inalienable rights. These are enforced by a higher law (the one that you have no time for, such is your privilege.) These are the rights you still have whether you are living in a thriving metropolis, alone on a desert island or in a torture cell in a tyrant’s dungeon. No one can take these rights from you and nothing you can do will cause you to forfeit these rights. These rights and cab fare will get you across town, but they are yours.

We can write clever laws and invent surgical and chemical techniques for emptying wombs just as we can send wheeled robots to Mars and dump poisons into rivers. It doesn’t mean we should or that your opinion on those things tells you what kind of person you are.

Posted by: martin at September 26, 2007 7:59 AM

Did anyone read the Julia Gorin anti-abortion piece? Some parts of it read as though she was delighting in the suffering of those who elected abortions? There's something gross about the people who supposedly "celebrate life" reveling in pain and misfortune; and they seem to do it quite a lot.

Posted by: justin case at September 26, 2007 8:17 AM

To me, a child is not a person until it emerges from the womb and takes its first breath. I used Gazzaniga as an example -- one I happen to agree with. Again, you may disagree, and that's fine -- as long as you don't force me to behave according to your beliefs on this. Furthermore, I would suggest to all the religious nutters who don't believe in embryonic stem cell research that when they come down with some disease for which there is medicine or treatment thanks to that research that they turn it down on principle. As they say in law, "fruit of the poison tree."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 26, 2007 8:21 AM

Amy - Given that there's no evidence that embryonic stem-cell research is going to yield anything useful anyhow, I think it's a non-issue.

And it's not just "religious nutters" who oppose embryonic stem-cell research.

Again, the slope is greased. Why stop with growing embryos to harvest their stem cells. Why not go to therapeutic cloning, growing an entire person for parts? Hell we can even go so far as to make sure that they are anencephalic so there's no argument about killing a potentially sentient being.

Too many bad things have come from assuming that humans are benevolent. If we were willing to accept that humans are, for the most part, vile creatures that will do anything that carries no punishment for their own benefit or amusement, we'd probably not be having this argument.

Posted by: brian at September 26, 2007 8:31 AM

I haven't read it yet, Justin (I took the red-eye from LA to Savannah, and posted this really fast from the Charlotte airport), but when I looked her up when PJM asked me to do this, she'd made light of the Clinton's dog getting hit by a car.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 26, 2007 8:32 AM

Oh, nice. I read her article, and I wasn't impressed. All feeling, no thought.

And anyone who could make fun of ANY dog being hit by a car, regardless of the political impact of the dog's untimely demise, is not a human worthy of consideration.

Posted by: brian at September 26, 2007 8:33 AM

I just read this in her piece:

Instead, Gudgeon started to pray, and four weeks after medical scans confirmed that the cyst was growing, it simply disappeared.

Likewise on the dog and making fun of people's suffering, and then, I have no respect for people who believe in magic.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 26, 2007 8:36 AM

Perhaps its just the way my brain works, but it seemed that Julia's article used emotion and anecdote to make a point, while Amy used logic and reason to support her opinion. I'm sure Amy could have dredged up countless stories of heartbreak to support her opinion as well, but how does that help a rational mind come to a conclusion?

I've always wondered about "inalienable rights". What exactly are they? I know the definition and I guess my best definition of them is the right to have whatever is going on in your head, go on there? And is that the point of self-awareness? And how do we know when that is in a fetus? Some set level of brain activity?

I do think there should be limits as to why & when a fetus can be terminated, but I haven't done the research to form a solid opinion about when that might. Its no longer a pressing issue for me -- my partner and I have a permanent, triple prevention in play!

Posted by: moreta at September 26, 2007 8:37 AM

Yes, the unborn are asserting themselves.

What hooey. Sometimes medical accidents happen. It's unfortunate. To gloat about it is sick.

I agree with you, Brian -- all feeling, little thought.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 26, 2007 8:38 AM

I'm sure Amy could have dredged up countless stories of heartbreak to support her opinion as well, but how does that help a rational mind come to a conclusion?

That was what struck me about her piece as well. It was not a product of serious thought, but a collection of links to abortion-gone-wrong stories. I spent a lot of time on my piece because I can't see taking a facile approach to an issue like this. And, as those of you who are frequent commenters may have noticed, I worked hard to not be insulting or to disparage people for believing, without evidence, in god.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 26, 2007 9:06 AM

While I think the government should stay out of my medical choices, a fetus isn't the raw material for a baby. It's not like I can re-arrange the arms or fix the big ears, the way you can swap out the Corian in the kitchen for granite.
For most women who've gone through a pregnancy, only to have a still birth or a baby who died before birth, I think they consider that child fully human.We don't make all our decisions in life based on logic and rational thinking alone.

Posted by: KateCoe at September 26, 2007 9:16 AM

"To me, a child is not a person until it emerges from the womb and takes its first breath." - Amy

I disagree: if a woman is 7 months pregnant she could, in all likelihood, deliver a healthy child that would live and thrive. Now, suppose she decides she doesn't want the baby (and late term abortions are legal). She will endure the same bodily trauma to deliver the baby alive or kill it while it's inside her and THEN deliver it. In either case the baby could survive w/o the mother.

Does that strike you, in ANY WAY, as being fucked up? I support a "woman's right to choose" but I do feel that there is a point during pregnancy where the fetus shouldn't be aborted. Note: aborted means that the fetus comes out dead. After the point of viability, if a health issue arises, the fetus can be evacuated in less than 5 minutes via c-section. If it could come out and breathe and cry and live...shouldn't it?

After 6 months or so of pregnancy I think the jig is up - you're knocked up. Killing a totally viable fetus and then delivering it is on par with delivering and then shooting it in the head. Adopt. Run away from the hospital and leave the baby behind. Leave it on someone's doorstep. But for fucksakes don't kill a healthy creature b/c you decide it's not a good idea to have a kid.

It's like an abusive spouse who kills the soon-to-be-ex: "If I can't have you, NO ONE WILL!"

As for the formless clump of cells at the beginning - it can't survive outside the mother, therefore, it's not a baby.

Posted by: Gretchen at September 26, 2007 10:01 AM

I always thought "My body, my rules, and screw what the rest of you think". Then again, I am very selfish, in that I get to do what I want way.



Posted by: Jamie at September 26, 2007 7:51 AM



Just to clarify, THAT Jamie isn't ME Jamie. Not that I'm disagreeing with the statement, mind you, but I wasn't making it, since I'm a HE Jamie and thus not physically equipped to make the "My body, my rules" statement with regards to abortion.

Posted by: Jamie at September 26, 2007 10:36 AM

Brian said: Again, the slope is greased. Why stop with growing embryos to harvest their stem cells. Why not go to therapeutic cloning, growing an entire person for parts? Hell we can even go so far as to make sure that they are anencephalic so there's no argument about killing a potentially sentient being.

Brian, exactly what would be wrong with growing body parts if you aren't killing a sentient being to do so?

Gretchen - I agree with you. I think if it's capable of surviving out of the womb then if should be killed any more than a baby should. As you stated earlier, as medicine progresses that point becomes earlier and earlier. If we could determine when the brain was developed to the point where it can feel fear, then I think that would be the point past which it shouldn't be aborted.

Posted by: William at September 26, 2007 10:37 AM

I have a fantasy that someday we will each be able to grow our own body parts. So I could have a vat with replacement organs for myself... my genetics... no human or Blade Runner type replicants to suffer... no full-scale cloning...

It would be interesting if we could take our memories and transfer them to a new body when the old one ages. Some paranormal writers insist that this is, or was, an actual sorcerous practice in some parts of the world; an unscrupulous magician could, upon death, "take over" some unsuspecting person whose soul or consciousness would then be in turn thrust out. I dunno about that one.

Posted by: Red Ree at September 26, 2007 11:17 AM

I have a fantasy that someday we will each be able to grow our own body parts. So I could have a vat with replacement organs for myself... my genetics... no human or Blade Runner type replicants to suffer... no full-scale cloning...

It would be interesting if we could take our memories and transfer them to a new body when the old one ages. Some paranormal writers insist that this is, or was, an actual sorcerous practice in some parts of the world; an unscrupulous magician could, upon death, "take over" some unsuspecting person whose soul or consciousness would then be in turn thrust out. I dunno about that one.

Posted by: Red Ree at September 26, 2007 11:17 AM

RE: "greasing the slope."

May I just point out that in first year logic classes students learn that the "slippery slope" argument is a fallacy?

Posted by: Tori at September 26, 2007 11:19 AM

Then let's not call it a "slippery slope"

Let's call it what it is. Incremental devolution of the human race.

You can argue against it all you like. The fact still remains that it is there, it is real, and it will continue for as long as humans exist.

An example: It was argued that if we allowed the government to ban smoking in airplanes, that they would not stop until you could no longer legally smoke in your own home. Those who argued such were accused of falling prey to the "slippery slope fallacy". Except that they were right. Maryland passed (and shortly thereafter rescinded) a law outlawing smoking in your own home if your neighbors could smell it. (link here.)

Fallacy? Not so much. It is the purpose of a bureaucracy to increase its power and funding indefinitely.

Posted by: brian at September 26, 2007 11:35 AM

However then why are they going to the doctor in the first place, especially when the situation is brought on by invetro.

Vlad reminded me of something I wanted to mention in the other abortion discussion earlier this week. Has anyone else watched one of those shows on TLC or the Discovery Health Channel about parents of quintuplets, septuplets or whatever large mulitple number, like Jon and Kate Plus 8? If not, these programs celebrate an infertile couple who went through successful fertilization treatments and the woman popped out a whole bunch of babies like a spider and her egg.

I'm always amazed when inevitably at some point during the show the parents make themselves feel better about the resulting baby chaos by claiming, "It was God's will." No, dummy. It was "God's will" that you not have children. That's why one of you was sterile.

Posted by: Rebecca at September 26, 2007 12:01 PM

"It was God's will." No, dummy. It was "God's will" that you not have children. That's why one of you was sterile. - Rebecca

Haha - thanks for the laugh...couldn't agree more. See, it doesn't matter what the outcome is - "God" is ALWAYS the explanation. I apply the same "rule" as you when people say that homosexuality is against god, unnatural, etc.

Um, geeze, if some god is responsible for creating us, don't you think he might be able to create gay people on purpose? Oh wait, the bible says it's wrong so then I guess that's how we'll roll on this issue.

Could it be that being gay isn't a choice, but part of their biological system - a biological system conceived and created by "god" (and therefore, by definition, natural)?

Unfortunately for their argument, there is scientific evidence supporting that gayness is not a choice (I'm sure gay people don't need a scientist to tell them that).

Scroll down to number4: http://www.slate.com/id/2174782/pagenum/2

Posted by: Gretchen at September 26, 2007 12:50 PM

Not to be confused with a "religious conservative" (a phenomenon that sometimes makes me want to switch to independant), I do have to say there is some "meat" to the pro-life position, as indicated by a slightly pro-choice electorate voicing wide-spread popular support for D&E bans.

If a fetus is developed enough to live outside the womb, is that really not a form of murder?

Is a fetus a non-entity one moment and an entity the next?

Isn't it more likely that the journey from embryo to person is a slow, not-easily-delineated process much like the journey from protozoa to man? Killing homo sapiens sapiens is murder. Is killing a prehistoric rat? Is killing austrolopithicus? What about something in-between?

Where the pro-lifers go off the rails is when asked what they plan to do with women who get abortions after it's been made illegal. The National Review staff wrote an article suggesting that the Doctors should be punished and the women should be let go.

However, the only possible crime in an abortion is a murder. If a fetus is a human, the woman is guilty of a contract killing on a child in most states.

Sorry, no politician will ever vote for a law saying that a contract hit on a fetus is unpunishable. That's simply unacceptible to all parties, for different reasons.

Pro-lifers are like the proverbial dog that hasn't thought about what it will do with the car once it catches up.

The only noteworthy choice, here, is between legal abortion and teen prisons.

But I do think it's worth pointing out that being pro-life is not as silly, baseless, bigoted and insincere as trying to get Ted Haggert to suddenly start liking girls.

Posted by: Steve W at September 26, 2007 12:56 PM

Gretchen asks: "when, in your opinion, does a fetus become a human. After birth? How about the point of viability (which does become sooner as medicine advances)? If a baby could be delivered and survive is aborting it murder?"

*The crux of the debate. Everything else on the spectrum, from bible-thumping to "US out of my uterus" is window-dressing.

Amy responds: "To me, a child is not a person until it emerges from the womb and takes its first breath."

*Personally disagree. But it doesn't really matter when one or two people think a child's life begins. All that matters is when the law (whether acheived through legislation, citizen-based initiative, or a judge's decision) says life begins. That the legal definition of life's inception may not actually coincide with its actual chronological point in time (whenever that is) shouldn't offend. We substitute life-altering legal proxies for the truth everyday when juries return their "best guess" as to what facts occured (AKA verdicts).

For better or worse, America has seemed to have tacitly embraced Roe's legal fiction that the unborn has achieved "life" by the last trimester. Should Roe ever be overturned, I expect many states to adopt the trimester approach on their own. Perhaps one or two states will ban abortions alltogether, based on the notion that life begins at conception. This doesn't bother me in the slightest. Given the wide (and heated) divergence of opinion on this issue, I can't think of a better debate for illustrating the importance of states' rights.

Without certainty as to the origin of "life" there is no reason it can't begin at two separate times in two separate jursidctions.

The solution, of course, would be a constitutional amendment. But nobody will ever attempt this because its anathema to the conservatives and the liberals know they'll never acheive the required national unanimity.

Posted by: snakeman99 at September 26, 2007 1:17 PM

Gretchen,

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. Your example is in regards to a third trimester abortion, which is illegal everywhere in this country as far as I know. However, you're okay with early term abortions? Isn't that the status quo right now? I can't figure out what your complaining about?

Rebecca,

I have thought the same thing soooo many times. In-vitro-lady finds out that oops...she's having six babies instead of the one they ordered from the doctor. The doctor gives them the option of partial abortion (ya know, knocking it down to a reasonable amount of babies instead of a litter). In-vitro-lady says, "I couldn't dream of it. This is God's will!" Honey, God didn't put those babies in your belly. Dumbasses. Like anyone truly wants to have a litter of babies all at once. That way their relationship with their spouse/significant other can slowly crumble over time, as they have no time to spend together, their finances are in shambles, and they're so sleep deprived, they have no idea where they are half the time. Exactly how I'd want to live. Oh yeah, and I wish "corporate sponsors" would stop giving them so many freebies. It seems to me that if you make the decision to carry that many babies to term, its your f-ing responsibility to take care of them.

Posted by: Renee at September 26, 2007 1:23 PM

Renee - I think you'll find that abortion is pretty much legal up until the cord is cut.

Roe only disallowed the states from making abortion BEFORE the third trimester illegal. Why do you think they keep passing (and having shot down) so-called "partial-birth abortion" bans? These are typically done in the eighth month, and the decedent is removed by its feet with the head still stuck inside, the skull crushed, and then removed.

It is, quite literally, six inches from infanticide. And it is legal in all 50 states.

And every time a state passes a ban on the practice, the pro-abortion crowd comes out and complains that it doesn't have an exception for the health of the mother (which is insane, as the procedure is just as traumatic as birth), or that it's (wait for it) "on a slippery slope to a total ban on abortion".

And your comment about litters? That's why I'm against IVF. If you can't have babies without assistance, God's trying to tell you something. You just don't want to hear it.

Posted by: brian at September 26, 2007 2:00 PM

"Your example is in regards to a third trimester abortion, which is illegal everywhere in this country as far as I know. However, you're okay with early term abortions? Isn't that the status quo right now? I can't figure out what your complaining about?"

Amy said that it isn't a baby until it comes out of the vagina. I wasn't arguing the law. I was arguing against the point that "it's not a baby until it comes out." If the baby can live outside the whom (point of viability) then it "is" a baby... you could deliver it on the spot and it would live.

Posted by: Gretchen at September 26, 2007 2:22 PM

womb. not whom. duh.

Posted by: Gretchen at September 26, 2007 2:24 PM

"(which is insane, as the procedure is just as traumatic as birth)". Um, no. When you perform a partial birth abortion the head stays in. The head is crushed internally and the removed. Any one who has seen one of these little things pop out (full term) will see one simple thing. The head is the biggest thing. So no it is not as traumatic as giving birth.

I do see the point of banning late term abortions. I can debate at what point this block should be put in place. Seriously you have had 7 to 8 months to decide if you should keep the baby. Besides medical necessity (there should never be any limitations on medically necessary abortions ever) why would you terminate the fetus at this point.

Posted by: vlad at September 26, 2007 2:42 PM

'Then let's not call it a "slippery slope"'

Sorry, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Posted by: Tori at September 26, 2007 2:48 PM

It is, quite literally, six inches from infanticide. And it is legal in all 50 states.

No longer. Congress passed an act banning so-called "partial birth abortion," and the Alito appointment did its job when the court refused to overturn the law (which was substantively identical to a law it overturned a few years ago because it didn't have an exception to protect the health of the mother). The Supreme Court isn't going to be overturning many laws restricting abortion these days.

as silly, baseless, bigoted and insincere as trying to get Ted Haggert to suddenly start liking girls.

But I'm confused. I thought he had been declared 100% hetero!

Posted by: justin case at September 26, 2007 2:52 PM

"May I just point out that in first year logic classes students learn that the "slippery slope" argument is a fallacy?"
If the world was run by a computer (or modified human) with no feelings or emotions, and ALL decisions were based on logic then we can ignore the slippery slope concept. This is why good AI companies higher shrinks in addition to engineers and mathematicians.

If we had such a world there would likely be no famine, no droubt, no abortions and no bible thumpers. The world would be completely predictable. All people who are even carries for genetic abnormalities would be killed or sterilized. The old and infirm would be simply put down due to their lack of ability to contribute. I can go on, do a a basic logic test on all of the things I mentioned. Logic is great use it every day but there comes a point (which I avoid as much as possible) when you have to deal with humans. Logic doesn't do much for these interactions.

Posted by: vlad at September 26, 2007 2:55 PM

Just because logic doesn't satisfy everyone in every case is no excuse for abandoning it altogether. Those who do so are little more than animals (like cows), who react to stimuli, not always predictably and certainly not responsibly. Without logic there is no common ground for discussion of anything, as most any premise can be justified based on emotion.

Posted by: Jim H. at September 26, 2007 4:42 PM

"Logic is only the beginning of wisdom." - Spock

Posted by: brian at September 26, 2007 6:11 PM

> I have a fantasy that someday
> we will each be able to grow
> our own body parts

Ummm..... " "


Just sayin'.


I support the pissiest girly viewpoints about "Keeping [your] hands off [my] body." But still, abortion is unnecessary killing, and it disturbs all morally aligned people.

Posted by: Crid at September 26, 2007 7:00 PM

*WARNING!! POLYSCI GEEK ALERT*

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Unless the government is telling you that you must belong to a state-run church, is founding a state-run church, or telling you that you cannot go to church, the Constitution is fine."

Read the very first word of the first amendment. I'm reaching into my memory for my ConLaw class lectures, and I believe the establishment clause of the first amendment was never "incorporated" by the S. Court. This means that, technically, States may have "State Religions" and many did until the begining of the 20th century.

I admit my memory is a bit fuzzy on this point, but I think that's correct.

Posted by: winston at September 26, 2007 7:51 PM

"To me, a child is not a person until it emerges from the womb and takes its first breath."

I don't think a child is a person until it empties the dishwasher and takes out the garbage. Abortion is ruled out only after it proves itself useful around the house.

Posted by: Lena at September 26, 2007 8:14 PM

I'm wrong, my mistake.

It was incorported in 1947 (330 US 1 1947)

Oops

Posted by: winston at September 26, 2007 8:22 PM

My view is that once you're past the 7 seven months then you should, barring medical reasons, not perform an abortion. Because 1. It can live on its own without the help of the mother and 2. You had to have intended to carry the baby to full term by then. If your circumstances have changed then give the baby up for adoption.

And on the subject of growing human replacements for organs, they have already grown human bladders. See: http://www.childrenshospital.org/newsroom/Site1339/mainpageS1339P1sublevel198.html

Posted by: nicky_s at September 26, 2007 8:59 PM

Oh, thanks Winston. I might have lost a night's sleep without that last clarification.

... meow!

Posted by: Lena in Boots at September 26, 2007 9:03 PM

Umm... as for the meme life begins at...

Life began about 4 billion years ago and has continued in an unbroken chain since that time it first appeared. Life does not spring from inanimate objects. The sperm the male donates and the egg the female provides are alive and when they meet they stay that way. If they don't they pass on.
If this wasn't so, then lots of teenage boys would have crusty gym socks calling them daddy.

Posted by: Onkel Bob at September 26, 2007 9:57 PM

Ok, I'm just going to ignore the anti-choice nutjobs and get to the heart of the matter. . .

Go ahead and have your Tofurky, but without cramming it down my throat, too.

I am not a vegetable-arian, but I really have to say that you are missing out. You are really, really missing out. I groaned and whined (on the inside, only on the inside) when my partner insisted on a Tofurky (stuffed even) last thanksgiving. Granted, it would have been much harder without many friends who inundated me with leftovers of the real thing, but the Tofurky rocked bigtime. I mean it was really tasty, though it was, as Douglas Adams might have put it, almost, but not entirely unlike eating real turkey.

As for the ridiculous stem cell/cloning discussion, personally, I am in favor of cloning bits of myself, for the purpose of ingestion. Talk about bringing this discussion full fucking circle. Guilt free meat, that infringes on the rights of no creature. Not quite soylent green, but I smell a decent story here, if not a great new fad.

Honestly, I think Brian wins the nut of the month in my book. Not on a par with some of the emails I occasionally still get from folks responding to my neurological disorder denial and later HIV/AIDS denial posts. But I give them their own special catagory. One actually sends me something on a near daily basis, one of which contains "proof" about the UN/Extra-terrestrial base on the dark side of the moon. Another was good enough to inform me that the twin towers were really brought down by lazer beams, from high earth orbit no less (I suspect the aliens might be involved). . .

Posted by: DuWayne at September 26, 2007 11:28 PM

What if a religious nutter decided that cancer was a life which was more important than its host, and should be allowed to grow regardless of its effect on its host? I think that's an interesting concept.

Posted by: Chrissy at September 27, 2007 5:37 AM

Is it just me or is Julia just plain nuts? Since Amy gave the link, I thought give it a chance and read it and expected the usual arguments that I don't buy into instead it was insane rambles that fetuses were revolting against being aborted? What?! How can this woman even be taken seriously instead of written off as mentally ill?

Posted by: Donna at September 27, 2007 6:07 AM

I think it would be fun to take a real stab (with a vacuum) at the fetus revolt argument. Lets see how many women are injured in child birth. Disabled, with say gestatinale diabetes that doesn't go away, not to mention all of the really nasty stuff that can happen. It's time for breakfast on the east coast so I'll spare the details. Lets compare how many women suffer the same ill emotional effects from miscarriages or the birth of dead babies, not caused by medical intervention. Show me that it's specifically the mother of intentionally aborted babies that suffer these ill effects of the cell ball (similar to cancer) revolution she so fondly praises.

Posted by: vlad at September 27, 2007 6:30 AM

"How can this woman even be taken seriously instead of written off as mentally ill?" Many of the mentally ill as per DSM-IV won't write a paper like this extolling the virtues of innocent suffering to convey a point. Once the APA wises up and adds religious fundamentalism as a mental illness (which it most certainly is), then yes she would be mentally ill. Until then she's just plain fucking crazy.

Posted by: vlad at September 27, 2007 6:34 AM

Well Donna, to be fair, Julia's credentials list her as a comedienne and blogger. I didn't expect much. However, her article was ridiculous. Was is supposed to be funny? Nothing about that article was funny. It actually made me sad to realize that there could be a grown person this delusional. Really, really sad.

Posted by: Renee at September 27, 2007 6:49 AM

Crid:
"I support the pissiest girly viewpoints about "Keeping [your] hands off [my] body." But still, abortion is unnecessary killing, and it disturbs all morally aligned people."

Good answer: "I like recreational sex so I have the right bumper sticker but cluck cluck cluck."

Your twittering objection is purely moral and morals are a manifestation of illogic and unreason.

Your only meaningful rights come from a laminated card in your wallet that explains where you live and how you should be treated should you be found wandering the streets. A clump of cells has no such card, tough hop.

Lena gets the gold star(9/26,8:14 PM.) In some cultures, newborns are not publicly acknowledged until they are a year old. This gives the parents time to decide if the little one looks like a good candidate for inclusion in the family tree. All good midwives know a neat maneuver for breaking an infant's spine with minimal disturbance to the household. Any thoughts on that all you aspiring Libertarians?

New technology requires new rules about how to use it and good rules aren't made by name-calling and midnight philosophizing about where life truly begins. Kids in school are being taught that pregnancy is a venereal disease and that abortion is the cure. Medical technology will eventually allow the state to control human fertility. You don't have to be a "religious nutter" to see a problem with this state of affairs.

Posted by: martin at September 27, 2007 7:09 AM

"Medical technology will eventually allow the state to control human fertility." The state has this technology if fact not horribly difficult. Throw a bit of funky shit into the water, the give doctors the cure for this problem. Plays right into the Big Pharma and New World Order conspiracies together. Yet it hasn't happened so I doubt the state (I'm assuming you mean feds) will be doing so. No reason for the states to limit birth rates.
Unless this has changed drastically in the past 10 years, kids are taught about birth control. Mainly taught about preventative birth control. Abortion is basically a last resort. The bible nuts are not only against abortion but against birth control with the dumb shit response of "abstinence only" birth control. Given human psychology which the church understands this course will lead to more births. So it's the church which is already trying to control human reproduction.

Posted by: vlad at September 27, 2007 7:46 AM

vlad, You make your points but I note you are not able to do so without resorting to name calling.

Axman had a great insight on the other abortion thread: We human beings, with our talent for abstraction, stake out metaphorical territories in the same way we and other primates lay claim to physical space. Neighboring troops of howler monkeys meet at the boundary of their territories early in the morning and howl at the monkeys on the other side. They're not persuading each other of anything except "You're on that side, we're on this." Each side claims "We're a lot better than you," but the apparent purpose of that message is to unify their own side.

Anti-abortion protestors have staked out their territory, and they yell to define its boundary and to announce they are superior for being on the "right" side of it.
(Axman 9/ 23, 2007 7:02 PM)

I would only add that the “choice” crowd is engaged in the very same exercise.

Instead of writing someone off as a bible thumper or religious nutter, you could make the perfectly valid observation that it is inappropriate to expect others to live by your code of values and to use mechanisms of government toward that end. No need for poo flinging.

If you find name-calling an expedient way of identifying points that are not open for discussion, rest assured your opponent (and potential convert) is familiar with the practice. The person you call a bible thumping, dumb-shit, religious nutter refers to a "choicer" as a nihilist libertine who would marry his own mother (or father) if only he could find a way to make the government pay for the wedding.

Somewhere in between, we all have to decide what the law will be.

Posted by: martin at September 27, 2007 8:59 AM

The name calling is reactive. Every time I ended up at a Planed parenthood (not once for an abortion) I had to endure these nut monkeys. The name calling is due to the fact that said group and I'm talking about extremists who will not convert. No point in being polite if these ass holes are hostile first. I have been threatened with divine retribution many times by these people, called horrible things. Tell me why I should be remotely civil and sure I'll change.

Posted by: vlad at September 27, 2007 10:09 AM

You want to believe fine, believe as you see fit. I have not, do not and will not object or resort to name calling. If you are anti-abortion then fine don't have one and we are all set. You want to tell me how to believe and how to live my life. Fine go to congress and try to change the law. Do not tell me I'm a murder, going to hell etc then wonder why I'm hostile. If they can do that at abortion clinics why do you not see large groups of atheists protesting religion for other. The atheist and the normal religious people that I have met do not try to force their ideal down my throat.

Posted by: vlad at September 27, 2007 10:17 AM

I have had debates about this with moderates on both sides. We all come to the same conclusion. Abortion should not be the first choice for birth control. Third trimester abortions aren't a good idea. We always differ as to the point at which an abortion is or is not wrong. Ranging from conception to viability outside the mother. We can't agree on what is meant by viability. How extreme should measures be taken to keep the baby or fetus alive. The issue that causes lots of contention are:
1) If abortion is wrong and made illegal what should be done with those children left at hospitals, fire houses etc.
2) If all abortion is completely legal what is the point at which it becomes murder.

Posted by: vlad at September 27, 2007 10:28 AM

"morals are a manifestation of illogic and unreason."

Nietzsche is back, and he blogs.

Posted by: Beyond Good and Lena at September 27, 2007 3:34 PM

"All good midwives know a neat maneuver for breaking an infant's spine with minimal disturbance to the household."

And all good scientists know how to crack a rat's skull open with one swift blow on a labroom faucet.

Posted by: Lena at September 27, 2007 3:36 PM

> Your twittering objection is
> purely moral and morals are a
> manifestation of illogic and
> unreason.

Let's quote a favorite Zappa melody:

"And in your dreams you can see yourself as a prophet saving the world. The words from your lips... I just can't believe you are such a fool."

(It's much more playful in stereo with the two drummers.)

By the way, I'm canceling your invitation to my annual Halloween bash at the beach. Also, never communicate with me again, or with any member of family. Also, if you meet someone and you know that I too have met that person, then no matter how casual our encounter may have been, you are forever enjoined from looking that third party in the eye and speaking audibly in their presence.

I mean it.

PS- Let's read again!

> morals are a manifestation
> of illogic and unreason.

Pound-for-pound, blogs still deliver the best value in bullshit rhetoric from high school graduates.

Posted by: Crid at September 27, 2007 7:01 PM

Martin -

As one who generally refrains from name calling (though I obviously did not do so here), I have to say that while it is often not all that productive, on occasion it is very cathartic. The holier than thou, anti-choicers have really gotten to me. I am sick and damned tired of people wanting to claim rights to my body or that of my partner.

When the discussion of our potential for having to abort our fetus, currently residing in my partner came up, I got hammered by a couple of friends I expected would have been supportive. I am way beyond the "I don't agree with your values." I am tired of hearing the same old shit, especially the slippery slope bullshit. Sorry, but we've been on a slippery slope since we became more than single celled organisms, billions of years ago.

No, embryonic stem cell research does not have to lead to full human cloning to harvest for parts. No, abortion does not make it inevitable, that we will start killing infants. No, voluntary euthanasia does not mean we will inevitably end up with forced euthanasia. People who throw out such dire predictions, rather than focusing entirely on the issue at hand, earn the insults. (I say this as one who has foolishly used slippery slope arguments, most notably in conjunction with civil liberties violations, such as warrantless wiretaps. When I did so, I too earned the insults.)

Further, when people insist they should have a right, or society should have the right to dictate what I do with my body or my partner does with hers, they earn the fucking insults. As a women, she has the right to decide what to do with her body and allow in her body. As a family, with a child already, we have a right to decide that a down syndrome baby is too much for our family to handle and decide not to inflict it on society at large. While I am thrilled beyond words that our fetus if apparently quite healthy, I can't tell you how hard it was to have someone whom I used to have a lot of respect for, accuse me of being an inhumane monster for considering abortion if it wasn't.

And as a (mostly) rational, sound human being, I have the right to choose the manner of my death, if I wish. If I am seriously ill and don't wish to endure immense suffering, I should have a right to get a script to end it without pain (which, as a citizen of Oregon, I do). If I am so ill that I can't functionally end it myself, I should be allowed help in doing so humanely. Not by being removed from lifesupport, to drown in my fluids, starve or dehydrate to death, but through painless, lethal injection.

If I choose to prostitute myself, sell my dick for money, then by god, I should be allowed to do that safely and reasonably. Not by hanging out in parks or on the street, taking my chances, but in a safe, secure and legal environment. Likewise, if I choose to ingest, snort or smoke any number of substances that are horrible for me, so that I can get a little escape, then I should be able. It's my fucking body, I am tired of people thinking otherwise.

So you know what? People who want to restrict what I do with my body are nutjobs, with very few exceptions. I accept that some are nuttier than others, but I am not going to play nice about it any more. People want to get holier than thou with me about it, will probably be insulted. Don't like it, don't be a nut, it's not that hard.

Posted by: DuWayne at September 27, 2007 7:31 PM

Crid -

I can't tell you how offensive your last sentence is to me. You are nothing but a big ol' poo head. Not all of us are high school grads, thank you very much. (though, admittedly, I am now actually in college after fifteen years out of school)

For that, I am not inviting you to my christmas party. Not that I have parties - or attend parties - or do anything that isn't strictly necessary, involving crowds. But damn it, if I did have such a party, you would not, I repeat not, be invited. Unless of course, you actually wanted to come, in which case, what the hell? So if you want, you can come, but you actually can't, because, as I said, I don't have parties.

Per my last comment, feel free to call me a nut.

Posted by: DuWayne at September 27, 2007 7:39 PM

In unrelated, but good, news: I met an exquisitely beautiful guy today, and I actually had the balls to initiate the phone number exchange at the end of our very pleasant chat. For all you slick Casanova-types out there, I know this is a non-event. Just think of me as today's winning retard in the Special Olympics of Dating and Mating.

How long should I wait before calling?

Posted by: Lena at September 27, 2007 9:18 PM

Lena -

Thank you so very much for that. I'm something of the same sort of retard, so that totally made my night. In the year my partner and I were separated, I discovered that some women, really don't see a trip to the fish hatchery and water fall hikes as very romantic. Nor was the teahouse very successful, which I thought was an obvious winner. It's nice to be back with a women who thinks the largest used bookstore in the U.S. is the height of romance, especially if it is followed by a trip to the scrap store, in which I don't look at my watch even once. I like the simple life. . .

I wouldn't wait very long at all, but then, I was also never very good at relationships, at least not the long term sort. I'm still not, but my partner doesn't seem to care too much. Of course we have one child together, with another on the way, so there's extra incentive. That, and we both find Powell's (the giant bookstore) really stimulating. Once a month to Powell's, flowers once a week and the right sort of chocolate treat for whatever mood she's in and life is pretty good. (decent dinner out once in a great while helps too)

Posted by: DuWayne at September 27, 2007 10:42 PM

Abortion should not be the first choice for birth control.

Tell that to those whose next step, after banning abortion, is banning birth control, which is likewise not in tune with their evidence-free belief in god.

I'm not having a Christmas party, but you're all invited.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 28, 2007 3:19 AM

But Amy - DuWayne said there's no slippery slope. I guess you're a nut too.

Except that he's wrong, there is a slippery slope, and we've seen it all before.

I'm not supportive of BANNING abortion. First, legally, it cannot happen in this country. Roe makes the outlawing of abortion the sole province of the Supreme Court. Second, it wouldn't matter. Abortion needs to go away, and that will only happen when a majority of people decide that it is murder.

I'm not holding out any hope. Especially with the Europeans boldly moving forward with legalized infanticide. Well, what else would you call it when you take a baby born healthy and leave it to die on a table in the hospital because the mother doesn't want it?

But what do I know. I'm just a nut.

Posted by: brian at September 28, 2007 4:25 AM

I agree with what he said. When people have a belief system formed by irrationality, the slippery slope is based on what they've been told is true and refuse to question (lest they go to that imaginary place called "hell").

"Especially with the Europeans boldly moving forward with legalized infanticide."

Link, please? (One per comment, so your comment won't get kicked as spam. If you have two links, just post in two comments, and so on.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 28, 2007 4:59 AM

Of course, now I can't find it. But I found this which says that the abandoners could be charged with infanticide.

I remember reading an article around that time or shortly after that a group of doctors wanted babies who happened to survive failed abortion attempts to be euthanized, because after all the mother's intent was not for that child to be born in the first place.

I don't have a belief system formed by irrationality. I've seen the slippery slope in my own life. I know that people, as a rule, can be expected to do whatever will maximize their immediate pleasure. And when they get bored with that, they take another little piece.

The slippery slope is not a fallacy, at least not in endeavors of human interaction. Humans will do whatever they think they can get away with. And a complacent populace is perfectly willing to let them get away with anything, so long as they are guaranteed their own immediate pleasure.

Posted by: brian at September 28, 2007 5:59 AM

Wasn't the slippery slope theory used to stop kids from smoking dope, because the next step was herion? I always thought that was pretty funny.

If brian is so worried about abortion, maybe he should get a vasectomy. Or maybe the government should force him to get a vasectomy, to save the lives of unborn children.

Posted by: Chrissy at September 28, 2007 6:01 AM

Chrissy - Nature has already taken care of that. I'm too unattractive and abrasive for it to ever be an issue.

Posted by: brian at September 28, 2007 6:52 AM

Crid, (yes I am addressing you, get back here)
You don't like my observations about morals?
Try these:
Morals are those things we believe even when there is no one around to see us believing them. Morals are the things we believe even though we might not fully understand why we believe them. What's more, we see evidence in the behavior of people of different background, people we barely know that their morals are similar to ours. Morals have the power to overcome intense hatred, fear and perverted notions of duty to false things.
Morals are the flame from an internal candle and when our lives are no longer true, our inner flame scorches our insides and tells us we are no longer upright.
Now who on your guest list accepts this description of morals and who prefers the nihilist one? If you have charted some middle ground please describe it Zappa-monkey.

Posted by: martin at September 28, 2007 7:22 AM

DuWayne:
I agree that name-calling has it's place. If for no other reason than that it is a great way of finding your own troops when you are behind enemy lines. If I walk into a room full of strangers where I must spend the next few hours, I can say "Bush is a moron!" or "Hillary is a witch!" and trot over to the right clan based on the reaction.

But opinions are just noise. At some point, policy must be made that allows people to live in productive harmony. Laws come from compromise; people have to agree to things they can barely stand in order to avoid draining conflict. Some things are not negotiable but you must first -try- to negotiate them anyway.

When you start by writing off anyone who disagrees with you as sick, bad, crazy or stupid on any topic, there is no hope.

Of course, without name-calling, blogs would be pretty dull, ya wanker.

Posted by: martin at September 28, 2007 8:27 AM

DuWayne --

Thanks for your note!

A date at a large used bookstore sounds like a winner to me. If I had a "soul," I think it would probably spend eternity flitting through the aisles of the Strand after I keel over and croak.

By the way, he called me last night on his way home from work. We both have very busy weekends ahead of us, so there we won't be bonking anytime soon. Which is good. After years of living in Los Angeles, I've become way too adept at dropping my trousers within hours of an introduction.

Posted by: Lena at September 28, 2007 8:55 AM

Brian -

The fact that many people will do whatever they can get away with, is not evidence of a slippery slope. It is evidence that a lot of people really suck.

I know people who believe that after a certain age and/or loss of any sort of productivity, when they slip into requiring care for survival, people should be required to die. Regardless of my belief that I should be allowed to be euthanised or not, they believe it. They believe this in spite fo the fact that very little in that direction is legal anywhere, Oregon being the only state that allows doctors to prescribe a script intended for self-euthanisation.

My belief in the right to do as I will with my body, including the right to aided euthanisation, does not lead to their notion of forced euthanasia. Indeed, forced euthanasia and forced abortions, would be the antithesis of personal freedom.

And a complacent populace is perfectly willing to let them get away with anything, so long as they are guaranteed their own immediate pleasure.

Indeed, there are those out there who could care less. But there are also a lot of folks who do care, who are anything but complacent. Just as I fight voraciously for my right to do as I will with and to my own body, I fight just as voraciously for the rights of others to do (or not do) whatever they will, with theirs.

I am not saying that a slippery slope cannot happen. Certainly, it is possible that one thing can lead to another. What I am saying is that one thing doesn't have to lead to another and in many cases shouldn't. Such is the price of liberty and democracy, vigilance. What I am saying, is that we cannot allow the potential slippery slope to infringe on our personal liberty. For every decision, every action we take, there are potential consequences, potential further steps to be taken. Each of those further steps must be dealt with as their own issue. We cannot stand stagnant, because a mile up the road, we might make a bad decision. Each decision deserves it's own consideration and debate.

If you want to debate the legitimacy of abortion, stem cell research or even euthanasia, then do so, but do it on it's face, not with a fallacious argument that no one else is making. Don't argue about where others may wish it to go in the future, argue the actual issue at hand. If your only argument is where it might lead us, if we don't pay attention, if we don't stand pat, you are not making any argument against the issue at hand. Slippery slopes are the bastion of those who's prima facia arguments have no real credibility.

Posted by: DuWayne at September 28, 2007 9:17 AM

Martin -

On the rare occasions that I resort to name calling, I try to make my argument first, rather than starting out with the insults. That way, the insulted gets a chance to actually read my point before dismissing it. . .

Lena -

I have come to the point, that if I ever end up single again, I will only date women who find the bookstores as much of a turn on as I do. This may well mean that I will remain perpetually single if that happens, but at least I'll be happy. . .I did learn recently, that there is a subculture that supports people like me though, so in all probability I would be fine.

Posted by: DuWayne at September 28, 2007 9:26 AM

"what else would you call it when you take a baby born healthy and leave it to die on a table?"

Let me try!

How about: "Gourmet cooking for the domestically challenged misanthrope"?

Posted by: Lena at September 28, 2007 10:19 AM

DuWayne - We're talking right past each other here. You're arguing about an abstract concept of rights. I'm arguing a specific application.

My position on abortion etc. is really irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

The argument I have been attempting to make is that Amy is advocating that people be counseled to abort potentially expensive-to-treat offspring. And that such counseling be done so as to keep her insurance premiums low.

The existence of abortion isn't what worries me. The fact that Roe legalized abortion isn't what is going to lead to recommended, coerced, or forced abortions.

It is the assertion that by virtue of being a member of a paying class (in this specific case, group insureds) one has a right to dictate terms to other members of that group. And that in the exercise of that right, the rights of others will necessarily be abridged. This creates a hierarchy of rights.

And in Amy's presented scenario and her proposed resolution, I believe that the rights are out of order. Her right to pay a lower premium versus someone else's right to reproduce. What Amy is arguing, here, is that once the potential cost of a life exceeds a certain amount, it ought not be created.

Amy's demands WILL lead to counseling abortion, and eventually coercion, to protect the fiduciary interests of the shareholders.

The slippery slope that everyone is so convinced doesn't exist comes in on the other end of the life-cycle. If we're willing to accept financially-coerced abortion by insurance companies, then we are certainly going to be asked to accept financially-coerced euthanasia for the elderly and the terminally ill. This is almost inevitable since the elderly, as a class, are going to become a majority of the population at some point.

What you and Amy are asking for will ultimately lead to people having the same discussions with their doctors about Mom that they have with the vet about Spot. And I'm not comfortable with that.

And if that makes me a nut case, then so be it. I'm a nut for thinking that we ought to treat humans better than we treat dogs.

Posted by: brian at September 28, 2007 10:50 AM

The argument I have been attempting to make is that Amy is advocating that people be counseled to abort potentially expensive-to-treat offspring. And that such counseling be done so as to keep her insurance premiums low.

Well, now they're being counseled to keep them -- at great cost, generally not to the parents with the children, but spread out to others. Think about how that half a mill a year -- a year! -- throughout the lifetime of the person might be better spent. Say the person lives to be 100 -- possible and likely, if they're born in 2007. That means 50 million dollars in today's dollars, forked out by the rest of us for that person's care.

And just because you choose to gamble that you won't have a catastrophic accident while motorcycling without a helmet or health insurance, those of us who are fiscal conservatives prefer to have each of us be responsible for our own costs.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 28, 2007 11:37 AM

In some cultures, newborns are not publicly acknowledged until they are a year old.

I doubt that third world cultures have a lot to teach us about how to think. If they did, well, they wouldn't be third world cultures.

Posted by: Steve W at September 28, 2007 11:59 AM

Just because someone is counseled to abort or counseled to keep an at-risk baby, ultimately it is up to the woman who is pregnant to decide. Are you implying that women are so weak-minded that they are going to be manipulated by those evil counsellors?

With any medical procedure, there is the assumption of informed consent. All the counsellors will be providing is information.

Posted by: Chrissy at September 28, 2007 12:51 PM

This is hardly crisp enough to qualify as a morality tale but here is a story:
When I was in college, I met a woman etc, etc. and we started screwing. We didn’t really “date” because we were both students of modest means. We weren’t thinking where things were going until one day she told me she was “late.” We had been going at it like bunnies and using birth control in that haphazard way of young idiots and she was pregnant.

We talked about what we were going to do and I was surprised to find that she was really open to the idea of staying together and keeping the baby. There weren’t a lot of mind games about whose choice it was or who was responsible for whom. We were in it together and we had some hard thinking to do. It actually brought us closer together even though neither of us felt especially joyful given the fact that we were both trying to finish school on a shoestring.

We had decided to keep the baby and began sketching out plans for our lives together. We thought we might get married but neither of us considered that a priority. We began to stockpile things like diapers and she scheduled her first pre-natal visit.

She called me the evening after her Dr. appt and said she wasn’t pregnant after all. I was stunned. She had been 30 days late, barfing every morning, gaining weight etc. and it wasn’t like her to lie. I pressed a little bit and she said that she had had an abortion.

She described to me what had happened at the Dr. visit once the test came back positive. A pair of female “health care consultants” came to see her and began asking her questions about her finances, her career prospects, and her relationship with me with the obvious intention of coaching her towards an abortion. Once she agreed to an abortion, one of the consultants stayed with her throughout the process as though they were concerned she might change her mind. They even coached her to tell me that she had never been pregnant. “It’s what he wants to believe anyway,” they had told her.

Now as I said before, there is a lot of grey area in these events and yes I was a moron. I don’t dispute that there were a lot of good reasons for this lady and I to not become parents under those circumstances. And maybe the story she told me was embellished to make her seem like a victim but I will tell you that she gave a very detailed account that seemed quite genuine. And she was racked with regret and resentment for a long time afterward. We both were.

I think this was an example of institutional coercion. If every woman who came in for her first pre-natal had to convince her care providers to let her keep her baby, many women would abort simply through the “power of the wo/man in the white lab coat;” the symbolic authority figure.

More recently, a woman friend told me she was pregnant and I said congratulations. She looked at me a little strangely and I asked her why. She said I had been the first to congratulate her, everyone else had asked her was she keeping it.

The default position has become that pregnancy is a preventable and treatable condition and that having babies is uncivilized.

Posted by: martin at September 28, 2007 12:58 PM

We thought we might get married but neither of us considered that a priority.


There's where you went wrong. Just a piece of paper, right?

Posted by: carol at September 28, 2007 2:20 PM

Oh carol, if we're looking for places I went wrong it just goes on and on. If I could find a way to reach back in time and slap the taste out of my mouth I'd be slappin' til Christmas.

Posted by: martin at September 28, 2007 2:35 PM

Amy - I've taken full responsibility for my medical situation. Although thanks for insulting me and assuming I'll just pawn my life off on some schumck if something goes bad.

Chrissy - I am presuming that the insurance company (or the government, if we go down that dark path) will tell said woman "Abortion is all we'll cover. Anything else you're on your own, and we won't insure the child". I don't know what that is supposed to say about the state of the woman's mind.

Of course, if you don't want kids, you could always just give up screwing, couldn't you?

Posted by: brian at September 28, 2007 3:08 PM

With any medical procedure, there is the assumption of informed consent. All the counsellors will be providing is information.

Wait - I thought the argument against a completely free-market medical system -- where consumers of health care shop for the best value -- was impractical because the average person was not appropriately equipped to make an informed decision?

Posted by: brian at September 28, 2007 3:10 PM

"The default position has become that pregnancy is a preventable and treatable condition and that having babies is uncivilized."

Perhaps that's because blood-curdling screams and diapers full of shit and piss aren't particularly civilized?

Posted by: Lena at September 28, 2007 3:13 PM

Martin -

I am sorry that your ex went through that, but that is a different circumstance and one that I happen to disagree with. However, the notion that one should be encouraged not to get an abortion, because though expensive, treatments exist for the condition their fetus is likely to end up with if it becomes a person, is absurd on it's face. A doctors job, is to provide options, abortion is one of those options in a variety of circumstances.

When my partner and I went in to discuss options (and discover that it was only a 1/50 chance, which the dumbass nurse could have told me on the damned phone) abortion was on the table from the get go. The same would have been said for tays sachs or a number of testable, congenital diseases. I would be exceptionally disappointed if it wasn't mentioned. It's one thing to recommend people have abortions, simply because they are poor, it's quite another to suggest it as an option, if the it is likely that their child will have serious medical issues.

Carol -

There's where you went wrong. Just a piece of paper, right?

Yes, it's just a piece of paper. Please, try to tell me that someone who has that piece of paper, has a stronger, better relationship with partner, than I have with mine. For many people, which marriage would we choose to put up against my relationship with my partner (by no means the perfect relationship)? Would it be the first, or for some folks I know, number six or seven?

Please explain why I should take a marriage any more seriously than I take the makeup of my family. It is my belief that marriage is the definitive leading cause of divorce.

And please explain how it is remotely healthy for two people who are in (what sounds like) a very casual relationship, to get married. Young and stupid, is not the foundation for a lifelong commitment, even if there is a fetus involved - especially if there is a fetus involved.

Lena -

Blood-curdling screams are what duct tape was made for;) Sorry, just had to endure one myself, from the child who had to get up two hours early this morning.

Posted by: DuWayne at September 28, 2007 4:17 PM

If you can wrap it really tightly, duct tape can also help prevent the shit- and piss-filled diapers. But you might not want to try that at home.

Posted by: Lena at September 28, 2007 6:29 PM

Lena -

I think we'll just deal with incessant arguments about who's turn it is, when the next one comes (mostly with the shit, the pissy diapers aren't really all that bad and the five year old's been practicing on a very patient two year old we know, unfortunately he refuses to do poo). I imagine the blood curdling screams would be that much worse, when the duct tape's removed. . .

Posted by: DuWayne at September 28, 2007 7:06 PM

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