How Do You Understand Someone’s Position on Abortion?

In the past week or two, an article entitled How Do You Change Someone’s Mind on Abortion? Tell Them You Had One has been making the rounds. The title is slightly misleading; the bulk of the article focuses on gay rights activism, specifically, the connection between personally knowing an LGBT person and increased support for same-sex marriage. But the article touches on abortion supporters’ attempt to stretch that reasoning to their own cause (emphasis mine):

Abortion is typically considered a moral concern, about the bounds of life, or a legal one, about the nature of rights and liberties. [Planned Parenthood marketer Dave] Fleischer hypothesized it could be understood instead as a matter of personal identity, and that resistance to abortion really is stigma towards the women who have—or could have—them. “My hunch is,” he says, “talking about real lived experience is extraordinarily helpful in developing empathy and support.”

If so, perhaps American society had just never been exposed to the sustained organic contact that Allport argued 60 years ago could begin to dismantle a deeply held prejudice. After all, whites with retrograde views on race find themselves working on the same factory floor as blacks; straight people learn a beloved cousin is a lesbian. But how often does anyone, particularly among those who consider themselves pro-life, learn that a friend or relative or co-worker has had an abortion?

The validity of that hypothesis is never examined. Perhaps that’s because, as one of Fleischer’s door-to-door canvassers puts it in the concluding line of the piece, it’s easy “to talk to strangers, because you don’t care what they really think.”

The irony here hits mind-exploding levels. “Those anti-choice strangers must think the way they do because they’ve never met someone who’s had an abortion and therefore don’t understand how women who have abortions really think and feel. At least, that’s our best guess; we haven’t actually asked the antis about their thoughts or feelings. But we totally understand how they don’t understand us.”


There’s a lot that could be said in response. Various veteran pro-life leaders have noted that this is just the latest in a long line of I-had-an-abortion-style “stigma-busting” campaigns that invariably fizzle out, that this is basically just a cheap copycat of Silent No More, etc. They’re right, and there’s no point in echoing them. So for this blog, I’d just like to give Mr. Fleischer a friendly tip.

Sir, your whole premise is wrong.

I do know women who’ve had abortions. I know men who have been involved in abortions. I know former abortion workers. I know escorts. And I know people who are strongly pro-abortion: not merely “pro-choice,” but people who have an unswerving conviction that if they were to have an unplanned pregnancy, they would absolutely without a doubt abort. 
Believe me, when you are outspokenly pro-life, you hear from all of these groups and more. You hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. You meet people who would give anything to go back in time and make a different choice, and people who hate your guts for daring to suggest that there’s a moral aspect to the “minor surgical procedure” they had. It’s all out there, and it’s messy, and it’s discouraging at times, but I try my best to treat everyone the way I’d like to be treated.

I know pro-choicers despise slavery comparisons, but what I’m about to say is not comparing the moral wrongness of abortion to the moral wrongness of slavery, so hear me out. The debate about abortion has something in common with the debate about slavery: it pits family members, friends, and neighbors against each other. Some anti-slavery campaigners came from slaveholding families. (A semi-fictionalized exploration of this phenomenon can be found in the fantastic novel The Invention of Wings.) Things got messy. Things got emotional. Things most definitely got personal. But those complications did not deter abolitionists. Even if they wanted to support their slaveholding loved ones, they could not, because they saw the slaves.

And so it is with us: we see the preborn children. That is what we think and that is how we feel. We don’t hate you. We don’t see you as “less than” or consider having an abortion to be a “personal identity” that we reject. We don’t want to be in the conflict we’re in, but we are.

And if you ask me, a campaign that fails to even recognize the nature of this conflict is pretty much doomed from the start. The same-sex marriage model just doesn’t work here.

226 thoughts on “How Do You Understand Someone’s Position on Abortion?”

  1. A+!

    And dear everyone, please stop comparing being queer or trans to having been involved with an abortion. It's fucking offensive.

  2. What's interesting is that forced pregnancy was an integral part of slavery. Female slaves were traded like livestock, and forcibly impregnated from puberty until death.

  3. >> And so it is with us: we see the preborn children.

    Not to mock, but some people see Jesus in a piece of toast. I'm don't doubt their sincerity but… My point being there are also a lot of people who DON'T see a child, but a mass of cells which don't respond to any physical stimuli and has no feelings of fear or dread. Just void. Don't see how you can harm something which doesn't know or care you're harming it. Quite unlike a slave really.

  4. Yes, many pro-choicers don't see the child. Although from what I've seen the trend seems to be moving away from that, with pro-choicers instead acknowledging the child but justifying abortion anyway. Which is terrifying, but obviously not where you're coming from, so never mind.
    "Don't see how you can harm something which doesn't know or care you're harming it"– fair enough, but I've never found that particularly persuasive, because I don't know of any other context in which you have to be aware of your rights to possess your rights. Children who hate going to school and would gleefully take a permanent vacation still have the right to a compulsory K-12 education, for instance.

  5. I understand that you see an unborn child as "just a mass of cells", but in regard to the topic of the piece, the general trend of the debate, I would say you're in the minority. Since the advent of the ultrasound, the trend has definitely been in the direction of seeing the unborn. And I think most people would agree with Kelsey that someone who doesn't know or care they're being harmed can still be harmed.

  6. After ruminating some more, I realized that the fundamental flaw with this reasoning is a mistaken idea of who the debate is about.

    As much as same-assigned-sex marriage opponents would claim that their reasoning is about behavior, people's voting patterns show that it really is about how people see queer and trans people. Once you get to know a gay or bisexual person, it becomes obvious that they're just people attracted to other people, not some kind of sex-crazed deviants. Once you get to know a trans person, it's obvious that transfeminine people are not dudes who get off on wearing skirts, and transmasculine people, uh, exist. And this is all borne out by the fact that knowing a queer or trans person makes one much more likely to be in favor of same-assigned-sex marriage.

    Pro-lifers argue that the abortion debate is about how people see the unborn child, and this has been borne out by the spread of ultrasounds. Pro-choicers argue that it's about how people see women, or sexually active women, or (in this case) women who have had abortions. But this is blatantly contradicted by the fact that most pro-lifers are women, and all know women, and you can't take two steps in the pro-life movement without bumping into a testimony from a post-abortive woman.

    That said, I'll reiterate my position that I think sharing the stories of people who have had abortions is a good thing. Obviously this is especially true if they don't censor the experiences of people who regret their abortions, but I think in general it will help people to seek care after an abortion (medical care from complications, birth control going forward, therapy to come to terms with the abortion, and anything else they might need).

  7. Hello Kelsey, thx for the reply

    I don't think pro-choicers acknowledge a "child" but that the fetus is a living human. I don't think anybody ever doubted that.

    As for comparison of harming a completely sensory-deprived fetus with allowing a kid who is unaware of his rights to skip school, there is a major flaw in that analogy. Sure, the kid is unaware of his rights, and he may be having a ball playing PacMan while all his peers are learning multiplication tables, and doesn't realize he is being harmed. The big difference is that this kid has a life ahead of him, and he will eventually realize that he has been harmed by being allowed to play hookie. The aborted fetus will have died, and will NEVER realize it has been harmed. If the harm can NEVER be realized for an organism that cannot process the harm while it is happening to it, can that in any real sense be considered harm?

    A better analogy would be if you had a terminally-ill kid, are you harming him/her by not enrolling him in school, and instead letting him do what he wants (ie play hookie) for the remainder of his short life?

  8. But the fetus is only dying because you're violating her rights! That's awfully circular. But since that probably won't convince you, allow me to point out that your reasoning justifies infanticide, not just of terminally ill newborns, but all newborns. After all, what do they know about what they'll miss out on?

    I think that you missed the point. The point was that when you –understand— "all" the different pro choice arguments then you will change your mind. For over thirty years I was strongly pro life. I didn't look at the statistics and I didn't consider the "science" related to the issue. I was just like the author. Then I began to ask questions. And I compared what was told to me by my pro life friends with what science said and what the mathematical impact of the anti abortion movement entailed. Once a person knows the science and math, they can no longer be pro life. It becomes very clear that pro life ideas do not work. They cause death, they do not save life.

    To me, the whole pro life movement fails, is every respect, to be pro life. There is not one argument that can withstand scientific and mathematical examination.
    If there is a pro lifer here that thinks they are not causing death, then answer this one important question (among many):

    "Is it right to kill born life in an effort to save unborn life?"

    That question is the most important question a pro lifer must address.

  10. Hi argent, thx for the reply.

    Sure, there does seem to be a push towards the pro-life view in the US. That doesn't bother me for a few reasons.

    1) If we look at the demographic by education, the more educated you are, the more likely you are to be pro-choice. If you are a high school dropout, you are almost twice as likely to be pro-life than pro-choice. If you possess a post-graduate degree, the ratio almost flips over. And I can attest to this as a professional neuroscientist in the US. I've never had a discussion about abortion with anyone here, but judging by their other social views, their bumper stickers and how they feel about women in the workplace, I'd say that 95% of my colleagues are probably pro-choice. If your post-graduate degree is in a science, I'd be willing to bet a large sum of money that on the whole, in the US, the ratio is more like 3:1 pro-choice to pro-life.

    2) The populace in the US is moving away from organized religion, specifically Christianity, and techie geeks and nerds are no longer uncool among the younger generation. The more these kids get science literate, I think they are bound to be less emotionally driven about this issue.

    3) You say ultrasound makes people pro-life. Well, I'm from Japan, and when my wife was pregnant there, the national healthcare system gives 13 free pre-natal checkups, and something like 10 ultrasounds on the house. There is no pro-life movement in Japan. Abortion, while more restricted than the US, is just a fact of life. When a woman has an abortion, she will probably personally mourn it, and will go do a Suiko-kuyo, and will likely always keep a memorial on her family alter. This difference may be due to the fact that Japan is less individualistic than the US. It probably also stems from the fact that Japan is not a Christian nation. There is no religious stigma attached to abortion, and people are somewhat pragmatic about it. This leads me to believe the "I see the preborn" as largely an emotional reaction, and these reactions can very hugely from person to person.

    4) Popular opinion on the US is driven by a large number of people who think the earth is 6000 years old.

  11. Hi Kelsey.

    Yeah, but newborns can feel pain, and they know an unpleasant stimuli when they feel one.

    And I simply assign rights to a fetus. You're a lawyer aren't you? You should be a bit more careful with your reasoning. If you a priori assume it has rights, then it seems circular.

  12. I think your first point is the most interesting, and here's what I would say about it:

    When people become more educated, they become more aware of systematic inequality. You would agree with this, right? However, they do not become more aware of every axis of systematic inequality.

  13. "I understand that you see an unborn child as "just a mass of cells", but in regard to the topic of the piece, the general trend of the debate, I would say you're in the minority."

    I don't think you understand the impact of your casual belief, without scientific support, that a fetus is a preborn child. The result is that it forces you to attempt to save non human life by killing human life. Where it not for that fact, your personal beliefs would be harmless. But because your belief leads you to murder innocent children, it must be stopped.

    "Since the advent of the ultrasound, the trend has definitely been in the direction of seeing the unborn."

    The use of ultrasound does no more than ramp up the murder of innocent born life. One must choose to let real live babies die based upon pictures of fetuses that may or may not live. Is it right to let real babies die to —force– the birth of a fetus? That is the only question that matters.

    "And I think most people would agree with Kelsey that someone who doesn't know or care they're being harmed can still be harmed."

    People should not be influenced with parlor tricks that prove nothing. People should be kept apprised of the facts that deal with abortion, not the sleight of hand of those interested only in money and power.

  14. When you argent, understand that you are not saving life, but killing life, I hope you will change your ways. You need to educate yourself about the issue of abortion and succumb less to parlor tricks.

  15. I do my best to be aware of systematic inequality. So are you saying that the less educated you are, you become more aware of every axis of systematic inequality? My general belief is that education generally allows for looking at an issue from a multitude of angles. I also agree that abortion at any stage is not completely ethically fine. There definitely is something that is being harmed. But considering all other aspects of life and how an unwanted pregnancy may affect a woman, I don't think it is the highest priority thing to save.

    Modern society, life also has a value, and it is not infinite. Modern car makers can make a much much safer car than anything we have on the market if they construct it like a Formula 1 car, but the cost is 5 million dollars for your Nissan Sentra. Society has accepted this. Some people have a different cost analysis in the case of aborting early fetuses.

  16. "But the fetus is only dying because you're violating her rights! "

    The fetus has no rights, why, because you cannot prove it is human or alive until it is born. For example 42 percent of zygotes are not human enough to become human beings.

    "That's awfully circular. But since that probably won't convince you, allow me to point out that your reasoning justifies infanticide, not just of terminally ill newborns, but all newborns."

    The reasoning I use stops infanticide and the reasoning you use encourages infanticide. You have a choice, you can save one of the born babies dying from infanticide or you can let it die and attempt to force the birth of a fetus. Pro lifers choose to let the infanticide happen.

    "After all, what do they know about what they'll miss out on?"

    My point exactly. The fetus will not know, but the baby that is raped and murdered because of the actions of pro lifers will know.

  17. Be careful not to assume causation. There's an obvious confounding factor: wealth. Wealthy people are far more supportive of abortion, and more educated. It's the low-income populations who see the effect of abortion in their day-to-day lives, and are more pro-life.

  18. OK, I didn't realize we were talking about pain; I thought your criterion was conscious awareness of rights. How about we kill 'em painlessly? Would that alleviate your concern?

  19. I will however say that more technology may show us a far richer emotional life to the fetus. Our view about "just a mass of cells" is highly dependent on the visualization technology at hand, and the science that interprets what it sees in those images.

    If further evidence becomes available that shows fetuses actually much more cognizant of what's going on from a much earlier stage, I am not closing my mind to how I think about this issue. However, for now I see no evidence to justify this view.

  20. …dude, I don't want to be rude, but your comments are off the effing rails. Babies being raped and murdered? 42% of human zygotes are non-human? No life until birth? You're an embarrassment to the pro-choice movement and it makes it that much harder to take that position seriously. (But I will try to be fair to PurpleSlurpy.)

  21. Could be. There are multiple sources of causes and effects. However, as I wrote to argent, in my native Japan, abortion is a non-issue. We are highly educated, highly non-Christian but quite spiritual when it comes to remembering our deceased relatives. Women keep trinkets of their visit to a Suiko-shrine which memorializes miscarriages and abortions. Women usually say things like "I'm sorry I couldn't have you" and seem genuinely sad.

  22. Kelsey, your ignorance of the issue of abortion will lead to you always making a fool of yourself. Your statements are nothing more than an ad hominem fallacy.

    Babies are being raped and murdered, and you can stop some of that from happening.

    42 percent of zygotes that are conceived cannot produce human life because they do not have enough human DNA. That is a scientific fact.

    I don't say there is no life until birth, that is just a lie you made up.

    You are ignorant of the issue of abortion. But please continue to give your opinion. I will straighten you out.

  23. That's really interesting. Is this influenced by a belief in the afterlife, i.e. the aborted fetus only "dies" in a physical sense but continues to experience the world? I don't know much about Eastern spirituality but I can certainly understand how such a view would lead to greater acceptance of abortion, since the baby doesn't "lose out."

  24. Kelsey, you have a choice, you can save innocent born babies, children and adults or you can let them die and save a fetus instead. What is your choice? Pro lifers choose to murder the children. What do you choose to do?

  25. At that stage, to me the harm is primarily pain. This whole issue, no matter how objectively you try to look at it, will always be colored by emotional factors.

    The thing to me that differentiates early fetuses from late fetuses and newborns (the latter two I feel should not be aborted or killed) is that I see some rudimentary will to live. To kill a newborn painless is not acceptable to me because it has shown me through its difficult delivery, in a way that I can understand, a will to survive and live. To kill it painlessly seems to disrespect that will.

    And this is why I said to argent, if it can be demonstrated that early fetuses have a far richer emotional life, even though it has very few neurons in its brain (and BTW, I highly highly doubt that they have "brain waves" at 6 weeks, considering they have almost no neurons in their brain at that stage), I could be swayed to being more protective of earlier fetuses.

  26. Thanks for explaining your position. I still disagree, and unfortunately I have to get back to work, but this has been a good conversation. I wish all pro-choicers shared your willingness to discuss this cordially.

  27. If you walk around town in Japan, you'll see little stone idols shaped like little children in a small shrine. Those are set up at accident sites where children have died, and are constantly kept clean, with water, juice and flowers. In a sense, your relatives have passed, but there is a daily reminder to them in your house, and we also have little bowls of rice and water that we offer at the alter at every meal. So yes, I think in this way, the aborted fetus, is kind of still living with you.

  28. The quote in the pro-abort mentions "dismantl[ing] a deeply held prejudice" with reference to the post-abortive woman. How ironic, since it's society's deeply-held prejudice to the very young that's the issue and that needs dismantling, just as prejudice against women needed dismantling to obtain suffrage, prejudice against African Americans needed dismantling to overcome slavery, prejudice against gays needs dismantling to overcome laws against gay marriage …

    I agree – analogies to previously-discriminated against groups helps the cause of the pre-born rather than those who would prefer to continue ignoring their rights. Once we overcome this last-remaining socially-acceptable prejudice against another group of humans, based on their relative powerlessness, all "choice" arguments for abortion become as unthinkable as applying those same arguments to a newborn ….

  29. >> children belong to parents in Japan

    That is a good observation, and one that, while disappearing, is still quite strong. A lot of women don't want to marry the eldest sons, because the perception is that he needs to invite his parents to move in with him in their old age, and the wife needs to the primary care taking. Is it any wonder our birth rates are declining?

    But I think it is interesting to note how in one society, abortion is completely a non-issue (never even seen a single news piece about the pros and cons), to something which is so divisive in another, the US. I think the Judeo-Christian mindset is a huge contributor, even for atheists in the US.

  30. Yeah, I minored in Japanese, and while I want to be respectful of a culture different from mine, a lot of the things they believe about the importance of family make me really uncomfortable.

    I'm a child abuse survivor and a children's rights activist, by the way. To me, being pro-life is about … like, being a children's rights activist, everywhere I go I see children being denied basic human rights and necessary care on the grounds that they are young, lack adult abilities, and are "dependent". So to work against care for those who are most young, most lacking in adult abilities, and most dependent would seem to be committing an unfortunately common social justice fallacy (like how as a polyamorous bisexual I hear people like me thrown under the bus to make the point "bisexuals aren't promiscuous, we're normal!").

    So I might be the only pro-lifer who will tell you "I'm anti-family, and that's why I'm pro-life". 😉

    And wow I just want to say you've been so reasonable during this discussion! I really feel that I'm getting an idea of your views, much more than most pro-choicers I talk to.

  31. Hi argent, I do agree with your assertion that there is a tradeoff between women's rights and the fetus's rights (assuming you believe a fetus has rights, of course). But even if you could unlearn your biases of both, you'd still be in a position where you're going to have to decide whose rights takes precedence. You may argue one choice someone dies, and therefore that one is by default the one that should not be allowed. There are several reasons I do not necessarily agree with the bottom line there, and today I realize that it my cultural background also contributes to my perception of this dilemma.

  32. "Is it right to kill born life in an effort to save unborn life?"

    Why do you ask this question? Do we kill living people to ensure that those that are unborn survive?

  33. This is an important fact and needs to be understood by the pro life community.

    Most zygotes produced by two humans are not human zygotes. Only 30 percent of zygotes become humans. Zygotes are neither human, feline, blue whale or anything else that is recognizable. Most are just products of conception.
    A human zygote normally (not always) has 46 chromosomes. So it a zygote does not have 46 chromosomes it is suspect. And if it has 60 or 70 chromosomes it is not human life and not suspect.

  34. Joshua, pro lifers have a choice, they may choose to save innocent born babies, children and adults or they may choose to let them die and save fetuses instead. So, yet pro lifers murder innocent babies to save fetuses that they cannot even prove are human or alive.
    Pro lifers cannot save both the fetus and the born life! Why? There are 1.8 born humans, 1.4 unwanted fetuses and 10 wanted fetuses that die each second. If a pro lifer spends 1 second saving an unwanted fetus, then in that second 10 wanted fetuses and 1.8 born humans die. The net effect of the pro life movement is a choice to let 10 wanted fetuses and 1.8 born babies die each second they work to force birth.

  35. My consent to have this conversation with Purple Slurpy, who has been on-topic, respectful, and hasn't cheapened the debate with shallow 'gotcha' questions, does not extend to you.

  36. Fetuses and born babies are killed by pro lifers by the millions of millions. Each pro lifer has a choice, they may choose to save wanted fetuses and babies or they can save unwanted fetuses. If they choose to save unwanted fetuses then born babies and wanted fetuses die. So slavery is not the issue, the issue is whether or not it is morally justifiable to murder wanted fetuses and born babies to save unwanted fetuses.

  37. It is his writing style.

    He basically means to say that zygotes are only potential persons, and not yet actual persons. Seeing as how over 70% of zygote will never make it to birth for a multitude of reasons, why should women's rights be denied in favour of a roll of the dice where the zygotes future is concerned.

    And when he accuses pro lifers of "murdering babies" he means to say that resources spent on saving embryos could be used to prevent actual children from dying.

    I think that if he was a bit more subtle in how he makes his points, people would not dismiss him. The concepts are sound.

  38. It isn't a gotcha. It is a serious question. Little girls *can* become pregnant, be it through rape or consensual sex.

    So, where do their rights fit into this? Do they lose their rights when they become pregnant?

    The question clearly makes you uncomfortable and causes some cognitive dissonance, hence your fallacious reply.

  39. Yeah. You don't want to discuss a difficult question that causes cognitive dissonance so you instead stoop to insults.

    I am disappoint.

  40. 1) asking you a very valid and very relevant question is not harassment. Did you know that in Alabama, the state now hires fetal lawyers to prevent teen girls from getting a judicial bypass in order to get an abortion? This is definitely a children's rights issue – these laws basically deny girls the same rights that grown women enjoy. This is upsetting and wrong.

    2) stating a fact – that women too can be misogynist – is not harassment. Women in Pakistan, for example, will happily pour acid on the faces of their daughters in law.

    Accusing me of "gotchas" and harassment for bringing up uncomfortable yet topical questions is quite dishonest.

  41. Continuing to reply to people who have stated repeatedly that they don't want to be contacted is harassment. But I'm done trying to get you to understand that.

  42. You should probably read up on The Streisand Effect

    And claiming harassment in response to an honest and topical question is dishonest and immature.

  43. "…they cannot even prove are human or alive."

    If they're not human, what are they? Trees? Dogs?

    If they aren't alive, what are they? Every cell in the human body is alive; why wouldn't an embryo be alive?

    "Why? There are 1.8 born humans, 1.4 unwanted fetuses and 10 wanted fetuses that die each second."

    Where are you getting those statistics?

    "If a pro lifer spends 1 second saving an unwanted fetus, then in that second 10 wanted fetuses and 1.8 born humans die."

    You're assuming that resource distribution would be equal. That is, the resources utilized to save an unborn child from abortion would be the same as the resources used to save a child that's already been born. That's not the case.

    Furthermore, it also assumes that the obstacles to living and flourishing are the same for the unborn child as for the born child. That, also, isn't the case. Children who have born do not face the threat of killing (at least not in the USA; not yet – despite arguments for "neonatal abortion"); children who have not yet been born face that threat.

    But if we solely look at time invested, your argument could be used to paint any number of people in a poor light. For example, X number of people die from prostate cancer each year, whereas Y number (a greater number) die from colon cancer. If someone chooses to invest their time and energy in treating folks with breast cancer, does that mean they do not care about colon cancer?

    Can we make the inflammatory claim that they're "killing" people with colon cancer by not dedicating their time to treating people with colon cancer? Yeah, sure. We can make that claim. But it's not accurate, and it's not helpful. Time is a finite resource, and the human plight is that we're besieged on all sides by many forms of sickness, suffering, accident and tragedy. Just because one chooses to help a certain segment of the population does not mean that they're actively choosing to ignore other parts.

  44. I understand that you see an unborn child as "just a mass of cells", but
    in regard to the topic of the piece, the general trend of the debate, I
    would say you're in the minority.

    No, he isn't since the *extreme* pro-life state of Mississippi voted against zygotic personhood when it was on the ballot.

    And yes, this is a public forum, and I can point out when you are wrong about something for other people, who do in fact read the forum as well.

    Claiming harassment to:

    1) avoid answering certain questions

    2) avoid having your flawed thinking pointed out

    Is highly immature, and dishonest. I have no doubt that I could reply to anyone who pokes a hole in my logic that they are harassing me, but that would be childish and dishonest on my part.

  45. It reminds me of a few weeks back, on Atheist analysis, when they had Emily Letts and others in for discussion. Emily rattled off a list of things she thought the pro-life movement was: anti-sex, slut shaming, woman hating, promoting gestational slavery compassionate, etc. She said (paraphrased) that she couldn't understand why anyone who cared about people could possibly be against abortion, but that she was certain that her own video, along with other actions, were going to turn our cultural sentiment.
    This flabbergasted me. You don't know why people hold the beliefs they do, but you think to be able to convert them? There is no doubt that the pro-life movement has individuals to express each of those elements, but the strongest glue that holds the vast majority of pro-lifers together is respect for the life of the individual.
    I wanted say, I get it. I get that she didn't think the fetus had any moral worth. I get the fact that many pro-choicer activists barely even think of the fetus when it comes to abortion, either because they rationalize that it is not human, or they rationalize that physical dependence in this one case only warrants the withholding of rights. I understand that concept. But take away that premise for a moment, since most people, even many people who fall on the pro-choice side, recognize the humanity of a fetus. You are never going to get an overwhelming majority of people be okay with a carte blanche power to kill their fellow human beings at will. You may be able to carve out exceptions that most are comfortable with. Many less active pro-choicers are pro-choice not because they love abortion, but because they fear a greater evil by poorly developed and implemented policies that fail to have the flexibility needed for special cases (and I'm very sympathetic to that stance!). But you are never ever going to get a vast majority of people to hold the view that killing a large swath of human beings without some sort of checks or oversight is okay. Because people like Emily Letts do not understand that, they will fail in their mission.

  46. The problem with campaigns like "silent no more" is that they shame women for having an abortion. Antichoicers assume women feel guilt and shame after an abortion. Most women have sense of relief after an abortion. Women have had abortions for thousands of years, layering unnecessary guilt and shame on that is unwarranted and not needed. Abortion is a personal medical decision and not up for public scrutiny.

  47. "They are products of conception, not humans, trees or dogs."

    That provides no biological explanation to which species the cells belong. POC describes the relationship of the embryo to an event, but it does nothing to describe its species. To what species does the human embryo belong?

    "Dead, what else could they be?"

    That doesn't make sense. The cells in the embryo meet all criteria for life (

    "first read the "about" page at scientificabortionl…"

    Is that .com? .org?

    "What is the difference in the resource distribution between wanted fetuses, babies and unwanted fetuses?"

    Namely, one has to dedicate particular resources toward saving the lives of unwanted fetuses to convince their parents and society that they are, in fact, valuable, and should not be killed. You don't have to do that with wanted fetuses.

    "Otherwise, your choice was to let the human die and save the fetus."

    Your comment can't be reconciled with any form of developmental biology. The human fetus is human; its species is Homo sapiens, just like the toddler, adolescent, adult form of Homo sapiens. It isn't a separate species, nor does it lack a species.

    "Pro lifers have a duty to save those people. Others do not. Why? Because pro lifers claim to save life, yet they choose to let life die. Others do not claim to be "pro life" and therefore have no duty to save others. So if they do save life then that is a bonus. Whereas if a pro lifer fails to save those people it is "murder by omission.""

    I don't think I understand what you've written here. Regardless of whether or not we have a duty to care for the sick, are you claiming that we should not help people with cancer? Is it wrong to help someone with prostate cancer if more people are dying of colon cancer?

    "That is why it is important that pro lifers actually save life and not fetuses."

    My example had nothing to do with fetal life or abortion. It was situated purely within the realm of adult medicine: is it wrong to treat people with prostate cancer when more people are dying of colon cancer? If not, then why do you cite your aforementioned statistics as if dedication of time to one cause is "murder by omission" in another cause?

  48. argent your choice in this world is to kill innocent born life to save fetuses. That act in and of itself denies you the right to be respected and to have your wishes fulfilled.

  49. Refruits is not harassing you. Trust me I've been harassed online and physically threatened online by MRAs. Engaging in civil discussion is not harassment.

  50. When I first heard about this article, I had essentially the same reaction as you did. I'm glad to see these points being so well articulated here. Well done!

  51. Looks like I get to answer this twice.

    "dude, I don't want to be rude, but your comments are off the effing rails."

    No, you just don't have the IQ required to understand.

    "Babies being raped and murdered?"

    Yes, they are and you could save a few if you were not playing with fetuses.

    "42% of human zygotes are non-human?

    Most zygotes die in the first trimester. And of those that die 60 percent do not have the correct genetic material to be human. In fact some have as many as 96 chromosomes. There are millions of non-human life forms that comprise zygotes produced by two humans.

    "No life until birth?"

    I never said that, it is a life. I said that one cannot prove the zef is alive or human until birth. — Do you see the difference there?

    "You're an embarrassment to the pro-choice movement and it makes it that much harder to take that position seriously."

    That is simply an Ad Hominem Fallacy and is a sign you don't have a clue about what I wrote.

    " (But I will try to be fair to PurpleSlurpy.)"

    bla bla bla

  52. Hi Blueberry

    The big difference I see between your examples of someone being robbed without their knowledge is that there are possibilities of them actually realizing it somewhere down the line in most of your cases.

    FGM – she may get an infection and die on a few days later. Or one day she may realize she'd been wronged, ie gets a scholarship, goes abroad etc.

    Illegal download – 1 person doing it sure, but if everyone did it, there'd be problems. And the artist will surely figure out someone is ripping him off.

    Planning to murder a child who already is sentient, can feel pain is already wrong, so this analogy is totally flawed from the get go. Child is already actively experiencing harm done on him. Do it in his sleep? He may wake up.

    Keeping a child out of school because he may die in a freak accident? Um, I don't know about you, but when I plan the future, I try to foresee what is likely to happen, and make plans accordingly. Eventualities that are so unlikely are usually not given such a large weight in my considerations. I'd say a parent who is unable to plan future accordingly considering likely outcomes is incapable of looking out for the kids best interest, and that in itself is harm. If he didn't die in a car accident, he's screwed.

    A peeping tom. This is probably the most reasonable analogy. I don't know how I'd answer this one. Though if you accidentally cause a someone injury in a car accident, you can still be charged for negligence (?), but what if you accidentally peeped on someone while naked. Can you still be charged for violating their privacy?

    So this is what I see differentiates abortion while completely in a sensory void and your cases.

    >> robbed of all their future experiences

    Who perceives they've been robbed? The one who can perceive it in the case of abortion will NEVER perceive it.

    As for the clinically depressed person, that person has a chance of recovering, and supposedly at one time already displayed a will to live. I think we must assume that even clinical depression is a temporary override of that will.

    If you were talking about a terminally ill patient, well I support euthenasia If I become terminally ill and become a financial burden on my family or do not feel like I want to live anymore, I demand to be unplugged!

  53. "The POC in this instance does not have a species. It may be a 96 XXX chromosomal life or one of millions of others that are –not—assigned a species."

    Well, I don't know what to say except that's simply not true. Did you know we can determine whether an adenocarcinoma of the lung belongs to a mouse or a human? The same can be said of a hydatidiform mole, which might have aberrant genetic code but still be classified as a "human" hydatidiform mole. I think the distinction you're trying to make is that while the cells themselves are human, they do not constitute a human being or person.

    Regardless, what I care about are those "POC," to use the terminology you've brought to the conversation, that warrant moral regard. Therefore, 96 XXX cells, not constituting a human being, do not warrant moral regard because they do not belong to a human being. It's not the number or arrangement of chromosomes that is morally relevant, but rather the arrangement that will produces a human being.

    "No, the cells in a non human POC do not meet all the criteria for life."

    If you're referring to things like hydatidiform moles, then I'm not against "killing" hydatidiform moles. I'm only concerned with those things that warrant moral regard (e.g., human beings). You and I were once embryos; we have warranted moral regard our entire lives, from the moment of conception.

    "Dot com. It is my page." ? That doesn't go anywhere.

    "Good, dedicate those resources to saving babies, and wanted fetuses, not unwanted fetuses."

    Why is it morally relevant whether a fetus is wanted or unwanted? What if suddenly no one "wanted" an adult? Should we kill them too?

    "Here is a link you need to read after you read my page.…"

    That page doesn't go anywhere; I get an error 404.

    "You understand that is a Circular Reasoning Fallacy. Of course a human fetus is human. But a fetus may or may not be human. A fetus may in fact be incapable into developing into a human being or any other species."

    A fetus is a name of a particular stage of human development. If it's incapable of growing in human development (e.g., hydatidiform mole), then it's not a human organism, and it isn't a fetus either.

    "Of course not, but there is no parallel there. Pro lifers claim to save babies but instead let them die. If one claimed to save people with prostate cancer, but let them die to save people with colon cancer, there might be a weak link."

    You posed your originally statistics as if it was wrong to not save the greatest number of "beings" possible. What if 20 unwanted fetuses died for every 1 adult and 2 wanted fetuses. Should we then focus all our efforts on saving the unwanted fetuses?

    "Of course not, but your question in and of itself is a "Straw Man Fallacy". There is no link between your question and the issue whereby pro lifers murder by omission. There is no duty to save those with one type of cancer and not the other."

    You're accusing folks in the pro-life camp of murder by omission by not focusing all their efforts on saving all of life; that's an impossible task. A parallel would be not focusing your efforts on colon cancer AND prostate cancer (something sub-specialist experts can't and don't do) if you're only treating prostate cancer.

    If I were all-powerful, I might be able to do all things you'd want pro-lifers to do (e.g., save all life). But I can't do that; I can only focus my finite resources, time and energy where interest and expertise direct me. Others do the same, and we somehow cover all the bases.

  54. Hi Purple. I agree that there are differences and they're not perfect analogies, but I think they still stand to show that the fetus's right to life is violated even if she doesn't know she has it/doesn't feel suffering when she dies. With FGM, illegal downloading, and the born child being killed, the possibility of experiencing pain/realizing their rights were violated is only a possibility. But it's a wrongful violation of their rights whether those things occur or not. If only one person illegally downloads a song, it's still violating property rights, even if no one else does it and the artist never realizes. If the newborn, who again is not self-aware and doesn't understand the idea of death, has a condition where it can't feel pain and you put it in a drug induced sleep beforehand so it won't feel fear, it's still a violation of his/her rights. If the FGM victim doesn't get an infection, never realizes it's wrong, and is given pain medicine, it's still wrong, and a violation of her rights. If the person doing the mutilating took measures to make absolutely sure none of those things would ever happen, it's still a violation of her rights.

    Besides, if the possibility of suffering and knowing you were wronged in the future is what makes those action unjust (but I think they're unjust regardless), abortion would still be wrong, because there's the possibility that the fetus will survive the attempt and will later have disabilities or suffer emotionally from knowing he/she was almost aborted.

    Sorry if I wasn't very clear, I didn't mean that the parents were keeping the child out of school because he might die in an accident while there or something, I just meant that the accident was unrelated, but that because of it the child would never know he was wronged, so he would never consciously suffer. And of course, if someone were planning to kill the child and so never sent them to school, not sending them to school and killing them would be two separate wrongs. The second one wouldn't negate the first, even though the child would never experience the suffering of not having been educated.

    I don't think accidentally peeping on someone is a crime, but I was referring to someone who did so intentionally, in such a way that the victim wouldn't know.

    And yes, the clinically depressed person may recover (or sadly may not) to the point where they have a will to live, but the fetus will also reach a point in the future where they have a will to live. The fact that that will doesn't exist presently doesn't justify killing them.

    Save for realizing your loss in Heaven, no one can experience the suffering of their lost life experiences, or perceive that they have been robbed, after they're already dead. Not a fetus, not a 10 year old, not an adult. The only difference is whether you can consciously consider that death a loss and thus experience fear/pain/anxiety over it. The fetus can't, but a newborn baby who is anesthetized can't either. Death is a loss, whether you are able to comprehend what you have lost at the time or not.

    Maybe a different analogy would be better. If I have a winning lottery ticket, but I mishear the numbers when they're announced and think that it's a losing one, I won't actively value the ticket. If someone who does realize it is a winning ticket steals it from me, and takes measures to make absolutely sure that I'll never figure it out or know what I lost, I won't be sad, because I never perceived value in what was lost, or knew of any reason to do so. But it was theft regardless, and it was wrong, even if I never know what happened.

  55. I think another thing I just don't see is the idea of "right to life". Does it? Who grants this right to life? I could see this idea of "right to life" being useful or important if denial of this "right to life" has societal impacts that would de-value life. I don't see any evidence of this. Ever since Roe v. Wade, we have been valuing life so much more. My kid wears helmets, seatbelts in an expensive child seat, I rode in the back of our station wagon

    unbelted rolling our when my mom made turns.

    Also, I'm from Japan, and there I compared how Japan and US differs in the way it perceives abortion. In Japan, abortion is a non-issue. 90% of the populace approves it, it is a fact of life. Yet abortion rates have been declining steadily over the years, very few people go on murder sprees, and while abortion is approved, people still go to the temples and pray for their aborted fetuses, and apologize for not being able to be born. i've touched on several possible reasons why there is this stark difference.

  56. Yep, you do. Savita Halappanavar. Because of so-called "pro-life" Irish laws, doctors are forced to dither in what ought to be a clear cut situation. The woman is 17 weeks pregnant and her membranes are ruptured. The pregnancy is lost at that point. No chance of survival for the fetus. Now introduce laws that force doctors to weigh exactly in how much danger the pregnant woman is of dying, rather than focusing upon the loss of the pregnancy and getting on with the business of finishing the miscarriage. Based on those metrics, it will be too late for a lot of mothers. It's already too late for the fetus.

  57. Hydatidiform moles are human and meet the criteria for life. Too bad, so sad. I am removing it from my body. You don't get a say.

  58. They may honestly believe that. A belief, no matter how sincere, can be wrong. Empathy helps. Stigmatization helps no one.

  59. That doesn't much follow the roughly half of pro-lifers like myself that are women, the vast majority of whom could have, will be able to, or already can get pregnant.

  60. Menstruation can occur anywhere roughly between 9 and 16 years of age. So yes, pregnancy can and has occurred this early–I can even provide you with examples. This is not a 'gotcha' question.

  61. There is no 'right to life' only the right not to be unjustly killed.

    So the question is, is abortion unjust killing, in every single case, and if so, why?

  62. In the USA, it is the poor, and often rural people, who tend to vote against their own interests. They will vote for the GOP, which wants to cancel social programs, dump pollution on their lands, and get rid of the minimum wage. Oh, and deny people affordable health care. The rural folks tend to be heavily religious, and they vote based on morals, more than on economics. They will vote on abortion and gay marriage – because when you have nothing, at least you've got morals.

    To take a more nuanced look at it, they also have pride, and to vote democrat for 'free handouts' is a blow to their egos, so they will vote Republican in order to prove that they are not welfare bums like those 'blacks'. Oh yeah, lest we forget, the rural south is very racist, and 'welfare queen' is a synonym for lazy black woman, the kind who has too many children and lives on the dole.

    They also vote Republican because these areas are so economically depressed that they do so out of fear – any job, even if that is a mining job that pollutes the water and the air and pays workers 8 dollars an hour with zero work safety is preferable to not having a job at all.

  63. I wasn't claiming that a woman should keep a hydatidiform mole in her body. On the contrary, it should be removed. It's not a human person.

  64. A mole meets the criteria for 'human life' set out by pro lifers however.


    Zygotes don't need a brain to be considered human beings, so why exclude a hydatidiform mole?

  65. And who also partake of abortion, even if "on the sly." That's right. The same people protesting abortion clinics are sneaking in the back door with their daughters.

  66. Really? All of them do that? No? How about a majority? No? Well jeez, I know of people who call themselves pro-choice, and then pressure their daughters to have an abortion (kinda squeezing out the whole "choice" thing) If you think that is a rare occurrence that has little bearing on the pro-choice movement as a whole, then you have my answer to your silly comment.

  67. My experiences in Japan tell me a different story. First off, you do actually need a doctor's write off to have an abortion in Japan. Technically, it is illegal to have an abortion without certain qualifying factors (health, etc), but practically it is pretty easy to get a doctor to write off on one of those qualifying factors.

    When I lived in Japan in 2004-5 小泉総理 and his party, as I recall, were attempting to restrict abortion further; an attempt to alter the low birthrate/ high numbers of old people trend. There was an outcry about this, and it ended up not being implemented.

    That being said, the abortion policy in Japan was one that really, the Americans crafted. In the post-war era, like every country, there was a baby boom. The US, in between demonizing the Japanese and turning their vilification sights on China instead, feared a highly populous Japan and Japan's new leaders also feared how to deal with the looming influx of new mouths to feed when the country was impoverished as it was. That is, it was a political and logistic move, not out of "respect" for a woman to choose. When the country wanted less babies, make abortion available, more? reduce abortion access. And I've never heard a Japanese woman talk about bodily autonomy. The abortion question seems to be always phrased in the way of "producing the best offspring for family and country" That's been my experience, as a 外人 of course.

    But I've definitely come across the 水子, pronounced Mizuko, as far as I learned, not suiko. I've also had mothers decide to keep their babies because they felt that the spirit of the child "chose them" as parents. It's pretty interesting.

  68. Hi KB

    Right you are, and in a different post, I wrote Suiji or Mizuko, brain fart, can't pronounce my own language : ( They were shrines originally for miscarriages, but apparently in the 70s, they've also been for abortions.

    No, I never said the policy there was out of any sense of women's self-determination. As you said, its mainly because we had a huge population explosion, and it was a form of population control. And yes, it is technically illegal to have an abortion without a good reason, but from what I've heard, asking the doctor to sign off on one is pretty much a formality.

    One thing I read that made abortion legal in Japan was a scandalous crime in which a nurse took it upon herself to murder more than 100 newborns of poor women because she knew they weren't going to make it in the postwar era when food was scarce. The idea was that it was better to go with legal abortion than to have people do it surreptitiously or have widespread infanticide. Infanticide has a long history in Japan, when parents had to make tough decisions during famines. This is said to be the original of コケシ (子消し)(child erasure) dolls that parents would make to remind and keep in their hearts children they had to get rid of when they couldn't feed them all.

    However it started, abortion is currently a fact of life, and is widely accepted. Life is valued, though the notion of "rights" I think is quite different than in the US. Nonetheless, when I was working there in a large national research institute, we had a yearly, voluntary ceremony where we would reflect on the number of animals killed for scientific experiment, appreciate their sacrifice, and pray for their souls. Even though attendance was voluntary, almost everybody shows up, and I felt that my colleagues were giving a heartfelt recognition to the lives they've sacrificed and true appreciation for these animals. This kind of thing goes on at all research institutes using animals. So to me it seems abortion as a matter of fact doesn't really devalue life.

  69. An uncle you have never heard of dies, he leaves you a million dollars in his will. Before you find any of this out, I manage to take that money for myself. You never find out and don't FEEL that you have been deprived of anything. Have I not harmed you? Should this be legal for me to do?

  70. We aren't discussing pro-choice women. We're discussing pro-life women, and a significant percentage of them partake of abortion including Catholics and Evangelicals. Nobody would be dumb enough to say "all" or "a majority" have abortions. EVEN ON THE PRO-CHOICE SIDE a majority have never had an abortion. It doesn't follow that because you're pro-choice, you've had an abortion. However, a pro-choice woman who has one isn't a hypocrite. As for your remark on daughters, I think that depends a lot upon the age of the daughter. Don't you? "Pro-life" or not, the thought of one's daughter giving birth at age 12 or 13 makes people a little squeamish. It should. By definition, this is a rape victim. A 17 year old on the cusp of high-school graduation who is pregnant by her sweetheart is different than a raped 11 or 12 year old. I believe the first is capable of deciding for herself. The raped young child is not. Babies aren't Barbie dolls to play with and then put on a shelf when she tires of it. A young child doesn't have the maturity to care for an infant, no matter how much she "thinks" she wants one. This has been proved over and over with infant simulators. Then again, pregnancy is physically more risky for her than it will be when she's older. Yes, I would probably pressure a young girl to abort. I would probably rent an infant simulator to show her how hard caring for an infant 24/7 really is. In the end, it's STILL her decision.

  71. My niece started at age 8. She's autistic, and I fear for her because she has difficulty understanding what is appropriate and what isn't. To that end, she has already been molested at school by another student. So my fear isn't baseless that someone might take advantage of her.

  72. I'd say it's more your level of intellect and education, rather than your cultural background. People of high intellect and education from everywhere are much more likely to be pro-choice.

  73. Nor will you. The structures we know are needed for higher brain function like cognizance and emotions don't exist early in pregnancy.

  74. "layering unnecessary guilt and shame on that is unwarranted and not needed."

    Are guilt and shame ever useful emotions? If so, when?

    "Abortion is a personal medical decision and not up for public scrutiny."

    Just like if you choose to euthanize your toddler?

    Abortion is up for public scrutiny and ethical inquiry because as medical science progresses, we develop the capacity to do many things, but we need to develop an ethical framework in tandem to determine what we SHOULD do. Unfettered personal liberty is not good; truly good liberty exists on a spectrum between "slavery" and "total autonomy at the expense of community."

  75. Catholics have a rate of abortion greater than Protestants.
    You know what is really interesting. Jewish women have the least abortions and their religion not only does not prohibit abortion but abortion is mandated if there is a likelihood the pregnant woman may die.

  76. and then there's this guy

  77. but the strongest glue that holds the vast majority of pro-lifers together is respect for the life of the individual.

    If this is the case with the 'vast majority,' then why it is that you cannot respect the life of the individual woman, whose circumstances you do not and cannot know, so that she can make her private medical decisions without your interference?

    My question is serious.

  78. Actually, the majority of anti-choicers are male.

  79. Wealthy people are far more supportive of abortion, and more educated.
    It's the low-income populations who see the effect of abortion in their
    day-to-day lives, and are more pro-life.

    Are you seriously saying that being less-educated (and it is generally true that the better-educated you are, the more likely you are to be pro-choice) is somehow a good thing?

  80. To me, being pro-life is about … like, being a children's rights
    activist, everywhere I go I see children being denied basic human rights
    and necessary care on the grounds that they are young, lack adult
    abilities, and are "dependent". So to work against care for those who
    are most young, most lacking in adult abilities, and most dependent would seem to be committing an unfortunately common social justice fallacy

    And here is where you and I differ; I would not want someone who does not want a child to be forced to have one. That's asking for child abuse to happen. And please, don't go off on the adoption canard; there are more than 100K children already available for adoption in the US, most of whom will "age out" of the system without having permanent homes.

    I almost died gestating a *wanted* pregnancy; I will not risk my life to do so again.

  81. No, of course education is a good thing. (University of Miami and University of Virginia Law School here, and proud of it!) I'm saying that being pro-choice is likely not the *result* of education; rather, both education and pro-choice views may be a product of wealth and privilege. Polling does show that views on abortion are strongly correlated with SES, a topic this blog has discussed before. But I'd be interested to see some kind of study (which to my knowledge doesn't exist) that attempts to separate the factors out– for instance, by seeing if low-income students with full scholarships to great schools retain their pro-life values or not.

  82. I'm saying that being pro-choice is likely not the *result* of
    education; rather, both education and pro-choice views may be a product
    of wealth and privilege.

    I will cite my own experience, whilst recognizing that anecdotes =/= data.

    I did not come up in either wealth or privilege. I was profoundly anti-choice, and had very black-and-white views about what constituted right and wrong.

    Then I got out of high school. While I recognize that this statement sounds flippant, it really is what happened. I discovered that life is not nearly as black-and-white as I thought. That not all pregnancies had happy outcomes. And, most importantly, that I really did not and could not know anyone's circumstances but my own.

    It was pretty easy for me to sit there without any of the facts of the situation in-hand and condemn some stranger for "murdering a baby." The reality is far more nuanced in Every. Single. Case.

    Part of what got me on the road to being pro-choice was learning about my mother's illegal abortion and why she had it. I was six months old and my mother was pregnant; she caught rubella. Her obstetrician told her that, at the stage of pregnancy where she was, the chances were about 99 percent that the resulting infant would be blind, deaf, and *profoundly* developmentally delayed. He also told her that, if she and my dad decided they could not continue the pregnancy, he knew someone who could "help her." This was, of course, a euphemism for assisting her in obtaining an abortion.

    My mom and dad, who 22 and 25 years old respectively, went home and talked about it and decided to arrange the abortion. I am sure that there are plenty here who will argue that my parents should have gambled on the 1 percent chance that everything would be just fine… but they took into account that a child with this many developmental issues would require care that could possibly bankrupt the family. My folks are in their 70s now and, had they gambled on that miracle, would most likely be dealing with an adult infant their now frail years.

    That's the thing; you just don't know what anyone's situation is but your own. Maybe you would have taken that gamble, and I would not condemn you for it; my support for reproductive choice includes the right to gestate. But what you *don't* have the right to do (nor do I) is make that call one way or the other for anyone else.

    Yes, I attended university. And I've also had a child … and nearly died due to gestational complications. I will NOT risk my life in such a fashion again. Should my tubal ligation fail (they can, and do), there will be an abortion. My now-adult son has known for a long time that no siblings will be forthcoming, and why. If anything, that pregnancy cemented my pro-choice position; no one should be forced to risk life and health against her will because some total stranger thinks that the presence of an embryo somehow abrogates the rights of a born person.

  83. Just like if you choose to euthanize your toddler?

    Another one who flunked biology and does not understand the difference between an embryo and a two-year-old child, I see …

  84. One of the most disturbing moments in "12 Years a Slave" is when Solomon writes about the teenaged girls being described by auctioneers: "this one will breed good pickaninnies for you."

  85. Wait, so acceptance of the theory of evolution (I never saw a poll on this, but I'm fairly confident) would probably also mirror the results with pro-choice, pro-life. Do you think that this issue is also *not* caused by education, but rather SES? Do you think that education may at least partly account for being pro-choice. How about being pro-evolution?

  86. The polling data on evolution is actually quite different from the polling on abortion; you have far more people taking a perceived middle ground option like "God-guided evolution," and only 19% accepting plain old evolution. I'm sure that's highly influenced by the TYPE of education you receive (public, private, homeschooling).

  87. I respect your experiences and would just like to note for the record that I do believe in self-defense. I'm glad you were able to access the tubal ligation you needed.

  88. But this data doesn't separate based on the degree of your education or SES, which is the point of this thread, does it? I couldn't find such a chart.

  89. Oh, I see what you're saying. No, unfortunately it doesn't. My lunch hour just ended, but if anybody has that data it would be the NCSE.


    I did find such a poll. Like being pro-choice, the degree of acceptance of evolution increases with your level of education. Given similar trends, would you say that better education at least plays a part in accepting evolution? Does it play at least a small part in one being pro-choice? Or do you think the major driver is wealth and privilege, and that the accompanying higher levels of education, belief in evolution and being pro-choice independently derive from the main causation, which is wealth and privilege?

  91. As I said before, I think it would be useful to have some kind of longitudinal study following the same people through high school and college to see what changes. My guess is that there's a combination of things going on here, and a whole lot of self-selection. I went to a secular university and didn't know any freshmen who were pure creationists; my guess is that the 19-year-olds who still believe in creation are likely either going to religious colleges, or no college at all.
    I also suspect that acceptance of evolution is more tightly connected to educational attainment than abortion views are because evolution is *a part of the standard curriculum*, whereas there's no college course that specifically sets out to make people support abortion; it's more of a campus culture thing.

  92. I, and most other pro-lifers do respect the life of the woman. You'll note overwhelming support for life of the mother exceptions among the pro-life crowd.

    But to paraphrase Jon Stewart (who yes, I know, is about as pro-choice as anyone), you may be confusing "persecution for not getting everything you want". If it were a medical decision that impacted nobody else physically, you'd not get a peep from me. I support those who want to get sterilized, or take birth control, or cut off an arm (well perhaps support is not the correct word, but I'd not stand in their way). I support women who choose to have sex, as I see it as an important part of life and health. I support women who choose to be chaste. Her own decisions for herself do not concern me. How she may injure others, does.

  93. . If it were a medical decision that impacted nobody else physically, you'd not get a peep from me

    An embryo is not "somebody else."

  94. Exactly. They see the "pre-born," but seem to be incapable of seeing the pregnant woman. I guess those x-ray glasses they used to sell in the back of comic books really *do* work.

  95. But this is blatantly contradicted by the fact that most pro-lifers are women

    Sorry, this is incorrect. The majority of anti-choicers are male. I provided the link elsewhere in the thread.

    therapy to come to terms with the abortion,

    Given that the *vast* majority of women feel nothing but relief after an abortion, I'm curious about what kind of "therapy" you think they need. (Source:

  96. There already is an ethical medical procedure in place for abortion. Women's right to an abortion is a civil and moral right of women to determine when and if to reproduce. Motherhood should be by choice not by chance.

  97. Life of the mother exception doesn't and won't save all women.

    And other injuries and disabilities? I guess bodily harm does not count?

  98. That is about the size of it. I went to an atheist website and they are saying this whole shebang is 'irrational' and 'we should not let them be at the atheist convention.' The biggest reason – they tell lies here.

  99. No, it's because of statements like this: "I suspect if men could get pregnant, there wouldn't be that kind of thinking." Plus her use of inflammatory terms like "anti-choicer."

    She's clearly not interested in reasoned discourse. Additionally, she's misusing statistics. What does it prove that the majority of pro-life people are male? It's only by a small margin. According to a recent gallup poll, 50% of men are pro-life whereas 46% of women are. That's only a four point difference.

    Conversely, 47% of women are pro-choice, whereas 46% of women are pro-life, a difference of only one point.

    But again, it doesn't prove anything because even if no women were pro-life, that wouldn't refute the pro-life argument that abortion is wrong because it takes an innocent human life unjustly.

  100. That's not it, at all. Are you sure those atheists are not guilty of doing what they accuse pro-lifers of doing? After all, you're drawing conclusions about me based off your own misunderstanding of my comment.

  101. This is debatable because the grounds upon which the legal "right" for abortion are philosophically weak. I will elaborate upon my reasoning regarding Roe v. Wade and Casey vs. Planned Parenthood if you're willing to discuss it, but otherwise, I will simply say that the reasoning is poor and does not actually establish a philosophically legitimate and justified right to abortion. Indeed, it does not even properly justify permitting abortion.

  102. Lady Black is not a troll either. I think you have a seriously defective concept of what a troll is.
    Almost as defective as the picture you have of yourself and your position as moral.

  103. You know, Susan Brownmiller stated in Backlash that most anti choicers are men.
    These folks do have a serious deficiency in accurate information about the history of their movement, sex, pregnancy, law, medicine.

    They just flog the same old idea over and over – IT IS WRONG. I say, so the fook what. Women abort no matter what you think. Now what?

  104. Not appropriately polite = troll. You must show more deference and not point out misogyny, because forcing rape victims to give birth = compassionate.

  105. I am NOT a troll, sir. You have no idea what a troll is. I truly believe it's too easy… FAR too easy, to be an anti-choice male. The majority of you ARE male, as you have just admitted. Thank you. I strongly suspect if men got pregnant, you would not find it so easy to be anti-choice. If it were you putting your own skin in the game. If it were you facing a deadly pregnancy. If it were you risking your livelihood when the pregnancy becomes complicated. You wouldn't find it so easy to hand wave the effects an unwanted pregnancy has on a woman and her family, her health and her life.

  106. But if prolifers were actually campaigning to "see the preborn children", why would they be so against Planned Parenthood, and other providers of low-cost pre-natal healthcare? Why would they be so against the Affordable Care Act? Why would prolifers be so eager to support opposition to contraception access?

    The links between the prolife movement and the pro-segregation movement are real links – the same politicial groupings, often the same people. The historical link between pro-segregation and anti-abolition is clear: white people who thought black people should be slaves trended into white people who thought black people ought to be treated unequally.

    Slave-owners were prolifers. A slave woman who was discovered to have had an abortion was punished, severely: she had exercised her own volition, chosen to declare her own body her own: she had committed an act of theft against her owner, in choosing not to bear a child.

    Prolifers frequently talk of women with unwanted pregnancies as if they could without much feeling or effort have the baby and give the baby to strangers for adoption. As if women could be used to provide babies for wealthier couples who want to adopt a baby, not one of the hundred thousand children without families waiting for adoption. Just so did white people speak of slaves who had children and saw them sold.

    The links, the moral comparisons with slavery, are all against prolife: prolifers want to own, use, and control women, to treat women as breeding animals and slaves. Prolifers show no concern for the working conditions of pregnant women, no concern for the well-being of wanted children: only for the women they can force.

  107. No, it's not.

    Human rights are human rights. Being openly LGBT is a basic human right. Being able to have an abortion is a basic human right.

    LGBT people who oppose the basic human right of abortion are allying with people who are our enemies: who do not believe in human rights for all.

  108. but the strongest glue that holds the vast majority of pro-lifers together is respect for the life of the individual.

    Providing that "individual" isn't a pregnant woman or a sexually-active women who could get pregnant. Everything prolifers say demonstrates an extreme disrespect for the life of individual women.

  109. An embryo is a new person. It is not a frog or an elephant. Otherwise you must believe that a magic wand at some point turns it into a human. Read up a bit otherwise you will never understand how you developed yourself.

  110. I suggest that YOU read up. All viviparous vertebrates are, at some point or another, embryos. That hardly constitutes an argument for taking away a woman's right to make her own reproductive decisions.

    An embryo is NOT a person. It is a potential person. It may not even be viable.

  111. Of course. Because, as I was told by an anti-choicer, "A woman will forget all about being raped the minute she holds that precious baby in her arms." Argh.

  112. I'm looking at this from an anarcha-feminist pro-choice perspective. Women's rights to access abortion are not debatable. You can go ahead and insult me all you want saying my reasoning is poor. I do not agree with you and will continue to fight for an be an advocate for reproductive rights including abortion.

    There is a lengthy history of abortion world-wide. For thousands of years women have used birth control and practiced abortion. Abortion was legal before it was illegal and then legal again. (

  113. This is a very good documentary to watch about this history of abortion, "Motherhood by Choice"

    "Motherhood by Choice, Not Chance distills key moments from each of the three films in the OSCAR-nominated, EMMY-winning 2½ hour series CHOICE: From the Back-Alleys to the Supreme Court & Beyond.

    Through first person stories, this documentary brings alive the history of the struggle for women's reproductive rights in the United States. Intimate interviews reveal the passion of those who moved abortion from the danger of the back alleys to a safe, legal choice. This film also includes information about current threats to those rights."

  114. "Women's rights to access abortion are not debatable."

    Why is access to abortion automatically a feminist issue? How does that work, philosophically? Where do the rights come from, and what justifies them?

    "You can go ahead and insult me all you want saying my reasoning is poor."

    I actually said the reasoning of the courts in the aforementioned cases was poor. If you agree entirely with the majority opinions of those cases (I don't know if you do), then you're assuming I inferred that.

    "There is a lengthy history of abortion world-wide."

    That means it's right?

  115. Why is access to abortion automatically a feminist issue?

    Because the lives of women and girls should not be derailed, and quite possibly ruined, even lost, because of an errant sperm.

  116. *nods* Actual instance: Irish parents brought their 12-year-old daughter to Marie Stopes in London to have an abortion.

    The girl was upset and angry and told the counsellors that she didn't want to have an abortion, her parents were making her.

    The Marie Stopes staff stopped the process, promised the girl that she could change her mind and come back at any time it was legal (up to 24 weeks for a girl that age in the UK) and the director promised her parents he would pay for their plane fares and freeze the cost of the abortion for them – if and only if their daughter changed her mind.

    Because Marie Stopes is a charity that puts the care of the girl or the woman needing an abortion first. A girl that age should have an abortion – she's not old enough to go through pregnancy safely, she's not old enough to care for a baby. But it would be very, very wrong to perform an abortion on anyone who didn't consent – and the little girl was quite clear that she didn't.

    Anyone prochoice would agree.

    Only prolifers think force is right, so only prolifers think that as they would force the little girl to have the baby without taking any thought of what was best for her, they assume that prochoicers would force the little girl to have an abortion. It doesn't occur to prolifers that their lying name for us "pro-aborts" is just wrong: we are prochoice, just as they are pro-force.

  117. Access to abortion is a human rights issue, Joshua. Forcing a girl or a woman to go through pregnancy/childbirth against her will is profoundly against human rights.

    Feminism is the revolutionary movement for human rights for women. Therefore, while supporting access to abortion is an issue for all those with a concern for human rights, it's a particular concern for all feminists.

  118. Pregnancy/childbirth is the second cause of death for girls worldwide, Joshua. Denial of access to safe legal abortion and contraception every year kills 287,000 girls and women – and nothing makes clearer the inhumanity of the prolife movement than their lack of concern for girls who are denied abortion and die pregnant/in childbirth.

  119. And if you get pregnant and know you can't have the baby, it doesn't matter that you've identified as prolife: you'll stil have an abortion. It's what prolifers do.

  120. Childbirth is 14 times more dangerous than abortion, Joshua (you claim to be a physician, so you should already be aware of that).

  121. Um, Clinton? I'm not the one who made the remark about "if men could get pregnant."

    Whether you like it or not, "anti-choice" is a correct descriptor of your position.

    My point about the majority of anti-choicers being male is pretty straightforward: you get to wave your hand and make pronouncements about how women should have to risk life and health to gestate — knowing full well that YOU will never have to do so. That makes it very convenient indeed. You can just handwave away the fact that pregnancy is not a state of wellness since YOU aren't the one dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, placenta previa, and any number of other dangerous and potentially fatal issues that ONLY come with pregnancy and cannot be predicted.

    Embryos are not innocent; neither are they guilty. They are incapable of either state. You are projecting.

  122. "Forcing a girl or a woman to go through pregnancy/childbirth against her will is profoundly against human rights."

    And killing an unborn human is not against human rights?

    Where do human rights come from? How are they established, and why are humans owed rights?

    "Feminism is the revolutionary movement for human rights for women."

    Many aborted fetuses are female…

    Interestingly, some in this comment section have come to the conclusion that if a woman is offered a dilemma between either breastfeeding her child (and impinging upon her own bodily autonomy) or not breastfeeding it (and letting it starve), she would be well within her rights to let it starve. If the child happened to a girl, is that also feminism at work? These folks also agreed that if the woman were to let the child starve, she would also be within her rights to shoot it and have it over with quicker.

    I strongly advocate the recognition of human rights. I do not advocate for the fabrication of rights that impose on the rights of others, however.

  123. "Pregnancy/childbirth is the second cause of death for girls worldwide, Joshua.

    How is that relevant to the fact that abortion kills unborn girls?

  124. Forcing a girl or a woman to gestate a fetus against her will and conscience is profoundly against human rights.

    It cannot be excused by the claim that if the girl or woman refuses to gestate the fetus, the fetus will die. Forcing the use of another human being's body is always wrong: an evil that can't be justified by claiming that you are only forcing the use of their body to save a life.

    If forced use of someone else's body to save a life were acceptable, it would be acceptable to force healthy liver donors to provide a lobe of their liver to someone who would die without it. The risks of being a live donor of a lobe of your liver are much less than the risks of pregnancy and childbirth.

    The only people who claim that forced use of another's body is ever right are prolifers; they claim it's not evil to force a girl or a woman who's pregnant. They are wrong. Forced use of another human being is always evil. It's the essential sin of slavery: prolifers are the moral heirs of the slaveowners who punished their slave women for having abortions.

  125. You just don't see women as human beings, do you, Joshua? I wonder how you do see women – as breeding animals, machines, or slaves? Can you explain?

  126. You just don't see women as human beings, do you, Joshua? I wonder how
    you do see women – as breeding animals, machines, or slaves?

    Over on RHRealityCheck, we use the analogy of the EasyBake Oven (which may or may not make sense if you were not brought up in the US). An EasyBake Oven is a child's toy that makes tiny cakes through the mechanism of a lightbulb that heats up the batter. The oven's job is to make tiny cakes, nothing more.

    Joshua quite clearly sees women as the walking equivalent of an EasyBake Oven; our job is to make babies, nothing more.

  127. Interestingly, some in this comment section have come to the conclusion
    that if a woman is offered a dilemma between either breastfeeding her
    child (and impinging upon her own bodily autonomy) or not breastfeeding
    it (and letting it starve), she would be well within her rights to let
    it starve.

    There are a good many steps between "breastfeeding or not" and starvation of an infant. Formula can be made/used. Wet nurses can be used. You seem to believe that no infant has ever been adopted without having been weaned first by its birth mother, which is patently ridiculous. Many women *cannot* breastfeed, for any number of reasons.

    The truth of the matter is that ANYONE can care for an infant. Only one person can be pregnant, however — and that should only happen with the complete and enthusiastic consent of the pregnant woman.

    You have already made it abundantly clear that you think women's rights should be abrogated the moment there is a positive pregnancy test which, frankly, makes me want to vomit. You advocate for slavery.

  128. The pregnancy exists prior to any interference from anyone that would "force a girl or a woman to gestate a fetus." It is a state of normal development and, as such, we require profound and extensive justification to end it.

    What I see as impermissible is forcing an unborn person to die.

    From where do human rights come from? When do we get them and why?

    "It cannot be excused by the claim that if the girl or woman refuses to gestate the fetus, the fetus will die."

    It's not her refusal. A woman can't will away a pregnancy. it's the involvement of external forces like medications, surgical instrumentation, etc. that actively kills the fetus.

    "If forced use of someone else's body to save a life were acceptable, it would be acceptable to force healthy liver donors to provide a lobe of their liver to someone who would die without it."

    Except liver failure is a state of disease; pregnancy is not a state of disease. That is a morally relevant difference.

    Furthermore, we're not "saving" the fetus's life by continuing the pregnancy. The life is promoted, certainly, but that would be like claiming you're saving your toddler's life every morning when you give it breakfast. What you're actually doing is just perpetuating a normal state of affairs in human development.

    "hey claim it's not evil to force a girl or a woman who's pregnant."

    I think it's definitely evil to force a female fetus to die. I'll include the question twice since you didn't address in your response from my previous comment: from where do human rights come from, and when do we get them? Why?

    "prolifers are the moral heirs of the slaveowners who punished their slave women for having abortions."

    I could call you an accomplice to murder, but that doesn't increase my chances of convincing you of the veracity of my viewpoint.

  129. I don't understand. I asked you how your claim that pregnancy was the second cause of death for girls worldwide was relevant to the fact that abortion kills unborn girls, and you accuse me of dehumanizing women. Abortion does kill unborn girls, doesn't it?

    If pregnancy is a major cause of death, then let us improve pregnancy support services. Let's not kill the other person in the relationship of pregnancy to solve the problem (much like euthanasia ends the suffering by ending the sufferer).

    I won't respond to your commentary again, as you've side-stepped my questions and attacked my character (a character, mind you, with which you are not familiar). You seem not to have attempted to understand the perspective I'm providing, nor do you seem interested in trying to convince me that your perspective is correct. You do seem more interested in being insulting, though.

  130. You "see the preborn children"? You "SEE the preborn children"? If somebody hasn't already called "bullshit" yet, I'm going to. If somebody hasn't called "bullshit" I'm going to scream it at the top of my lungs. BULL. SHIT.

    Back in the days when I still thought of the abortion debate as a conflict of rights, I explained my stance like this: "I point can point to a woman, but every time I try to point at a fetus some damned woman keeps getting in the way." Yes, I had my tongue firmly in cheek when I put it that way, but it does illustrate something very important.

    No, sir, you are the one who has it all wrong. The only way you can "see" a prenate is to ignore what you are actually looking at: a woman.

  131. Actually, that's not accurate. There's a marked difference between people who identify as Catholic but don't practice, and people who identify as Catholic and do practice. Polls never distinguish between the two, unfortunately.

  132. Perhaps he wouldn't insult you if you made connections to analogies more quickly?

    For one, how does killing unborn 'girls' (which fetuses are not, btw, since identifiable sex characteristics don't come in until later and can't be proven by conventional methods until AFTER birth) NOT relate to killing BORN 'girls' (rather, women)? Seriously, learn2debate.

    Abortion doesn't kill anything. A dead fetus can be aborted. How can you kill something that is already dead? Hmm?

    Most of YOUR ilk are the ones that oppose pregnancy support services. But that STILL doesn't abrogate women's rights, just as providing more effective palliative care does NOT abrogate the rights of someone who is suffering. So, rather than us, it is YOU who should be explaining the relevance of your arguments to the discussion? Oops?

  133. Joshua, it's quite clear you don't "see" women: you just see objects for your use. Your apparent belief that human rights don't apply to women seems typical of prolifers.

  134. No such thing as an "unborn" girl, Joshua.

    You can stop pretending to be a physician at this point. You're not fooling anyone with a brain.

  135. "There is no 'right to life' only the right not to be unjustly killed."

    Fair enough, although I would add that there is a right in some situations to receive certain necessary care, and that this includes the right of children to receive food, nutrition, shelter from harm, etc. from their parents or whatever other caregivers their parents might appoint if doing so is possible. (And if not, the responsibility remains with the parents, even if it requires them to use their time, money, and bodies in ways they do not always want to.) After all, people can be charged with negligent homicide if they let their children starve, freeze, etc.

    I consider the unborn and born to be moral equals, just as I consider all other humans to be moral equals (regardless of age, abilities, mental capacity, gender, race, etc.), so I believe abortion is unjust killing just as much as it would be unjust killing to kill a newborn or toddler.

  136. I don't really think we value life more since Roe vs. Wade, and I don't see the fact that we have some different social norms regarding helmets and seat belts as evidence of that. Besides, people (typically) aren't denying the right to life to their born children, only their unborn ones. Roe vs. Wade didn't coincide with some universal dismissal of the right to life.

    In any event, if there is not right to life, why is it wrong to kill someone? And why should it be illegal? If they have no right to their own life, in what way have they been wronged? I mean…look at theft. If you steal from someone, you are violating their property rights, aren't you? But say you lose an object, and someone picks it up and is really excited at their cool find, but nevertheless you take the object back from them because it is yours. In both cases the person might experience some emotional suffering, but only in the first instance were they actually unjustly wronged, because they had property rights to the object they bought.

    While obviously there are those here who would disagree with me, honestly I don't see much basis for a right to life without God…But I also don't see a basis for objective morality, meaning, or human equality. I'm not saying non-theists can't value life or believe in morality, obviously most do, including yourself. I'm just saying I don't see a good logical basis for those beliefs. It's wrong to kill someone….why, because our ancestors just happened to live in an environment where selective pressures meant that those with cooperative tendencies had more surviving offspring than those with aggressive or isolationist tendencies? Because we kept aggressive people away from our villages in order to protect ourselves, and eventually adopted the idea that killing was "wrong"? Big whoop. It could have just as easily happened the other way. If there's no higher objective moral law, then no one's moral beliefs are superior to anyone else's. "Stealing and killing people to get yourself ahead" is just as valid a belief as "stealing and killing is wrong," because there's no standard against which to judge.

    (On a side note, just to be clear I'm not knocking or doubting evolution here, just the idea that, because aggressiveness was partially selected out of our population, that itself somehow makes "killing is wrong" and objective or meaningful moral law.")

  137. In any event, if there is not right to life, why is it wrong to kill someone?

    So you can't kill your rapist, if lethal force is the ONLY method of escape?

    The right to life is absolutely inviolable?

  138. Children don't have total rights to their parents organs or any other body part. For instance, if a grown woman's own uterus was injured somehow, she couldn't demand a uterine transplant from her mother. Nor could someone demand a hand, lung, breast, kidney, muscle, etc. transplant. However, insofar as the parents' bodies are necessary to meet the child's basic, natural needs for nutrition, etc. the child has a right to those body parts, either directly or indirectly. They have a right to be held and carried when necessary, even if it tires the parents, makes their arms achy and tired or leaves them out of breath, even if it causes unhealthy stress levels, even if it makes the mother's nipples and breasts sore, from feeding even if the father gets a headache from staying up late to make sure the baby is fed. None of that would give either parent the right to simply dump their child on the ground and walk away.

  139. Pregnancy goes beyond 'mere basic needs for food and shelter,' however. It is quite invasive, painful, and birth, well, birth has been described as torture.

    No, you are arguing that unborn humans should have rights that born humans do not have.

  140. >> I don't really think we value life more since Roe vs. Wade

    Really? When I think of the amazing amount of stuff done to prolong life of say the elderly, even to the point where they may no longer be conscious but just breathing and being fed nutrients, I think we value life a lot more. Think of all the consumer protection laws that have come up. How many unsafe children's toys and playground equipment now compared to 30 years ago? We are trying our hardest to keep people alive and well, a lot more than we were 30 years ago, don't you think?

  141. "I believe social structures shape our moral code."

    But those social structures only evolved because selective pressures so happened to favor the accumulation of cooperative, non-aggressive tendencies.

    Besides, society has often decided that things which are terrible are completely moral. Slavery was once widely considered acceptable. Does that mean that, prior to the mid 1800's, slavery was moral? That it only became immoral because the majority public opinion happened to shift that way?

    Also what percent of society needs to believe something is moral/immoral before it becomes common moral law? 50 percent? 51 percent? 80 percent?

    No one should be forced to follow the teachings of a religion they don't agree with, except in instances where they are causing unjust harm to other persons/parties. Now if a religion says that something is unjust and a large part of society disagrees, then there would be a problem, I admit. But with abortion, it can be shown to be wrong and unjust using principles that already shape our society, which are widely agreed upon by both religious people and secularists. (Whether the secular grounding for such principles is valid or not.)

    I find value in Bible stories, because, among other things, I find value in God and strength in various theistic arguments in general, and in faith and prayer, and because I think the New Testament is consistent and supported by the high number of early fragments and how very close to the actual events the gospels were written, as well as non-Biblical historical support for it (for example both Jesus's baptism and crucifixion are widely accepted by scholars as true historical events).

  142. Of course they're not *the same,* but they both they both require the stressful, exhausting, and possibly painful and even unhealthy use of one's body. And as I said, providing care to a born child may last YEARS, which, taken as a whole, I think outweighs or equals the burdens of pregnancy at least in many cases. Parents are required to ensure that their children get food, nutrition, etc. For an unborn child, with our current technology, the only way to do this is by the child being in the womb.

  143. Unless your toddler is inside your body, drilling into your blood vessels, and injecting harmful hormones and toxic biowastes into your body then no, they are absolutely not the same.

    Oh, and then there is the little problem of birth. Unless your toddler viciously punches you in the stomach for up to 3 days and shoves a large object up your vagina, then no, there is no comparison.

    Also, we don't force people to parent.

  144. "We are trying our hardest to keep people alive and well, a lot more than we were 30 years ago, don't you think?"

    We might just have to agree to differ on this one, but I don't agree. There are numerous explanations for the things you mentioned which don't come down to valuing life more overall.

    We have more technology now than we did before, but that technology is the result of decades, or in many cases centuries, of work and learning. Look at smoking, for example. We can't say that, because parents usually don't smoke around their children now but they did in the 50's, that parents love their children more now than they did then. The real reason is simply that we now know how bad smoking is, and we didn't then.

    If I lived in the 60's, I could point to decades past where antibiotic use wasn't widespread and people died of terrible diseases, and say "look how much more we value life now." But that wouldn't really be the case, it's just that in the 60's they could save people who previously would have died do to lack of medicine to help them.

    Right now, 16 year olds can drive in the US. Maybe in 30 years they'll decide that's too dangerous and people could get hurt, and they'll bump the age to 18. That doesn't necessarily mean they care about life more, just that they looked at the situation and analyzed it differently.

    But maybe I'm wrong, maybe we do value life more. That would be a good thing. But that doesn't mean it has anything to do with Roe vs. Wade, or legalizing abortion, or a denial of the right to life, which like I say we're not denying to most people, just the unborn (and a few others).

  145. >> There are numerous explanations for the things you mentioned which don't come down to valuing life more overall.

    Actually, you're right on that criticism of the kinds of things I gave as examples. Maybe I should stop using the claim "we value life".

    However, I don't think we devalue life before RvW.

    My contention would be that RvW itself didn't really change how we value or devalue our fellow born humans. You may say fetuses are people, but aside from that caveat, I don't think abortion has lead to a culture of death either.

  146. The mother's body is naturally equipped to deal with fetal waste products, it's not like she's being poisoned. And like I said, care giving to a born child can still result in pain, exhaustion, emotional stress, sadness, etc. (for example there are a LOT of crazy hormones involved in breastfeeding). And again, the difficulties of 18 years of parenting are, I think, more than enough to equal to difficulties of pregnancy (at least in most cases). We DO force parents to make sure their children get care. The only reason we don't require parents to care for their children personally is because it just so happens that it's possible to transfer care. Like I said, if transferring care ISN'T possible, then yes, the parents have to provide that care. Whether that's for a short time (being snowed into the house and having to breastfeed), or a medium time (getting lost in the woods with your child) or a long time, in some hypothetical scenario where the parents couldn't give their baby to someone else, it would not be morally justified to let the child die.

  147. I can see your point, but…I dunno, I've seen people claim that newborns aren't people as well, and I think once you start making human rights dependent on qualities that come in degrees, or say that you have to qualify for human rights, you're undermining any basis for equality. And there are other groups we dehumanize or discriminate against, the elderly, those with disabilities. etc. I'm not sure it's possible to simply dehumanize one group of people (or maybe a better way of putting it would be "de-personize one group of humans")without having more far reaching effects than intended. There's a poem written by Martin Niemoller, a Protestant pastor and opponent of Hitler, about how one group at a time was taken away, but it didn't stop with one groups, it keeps listing others, and it finishes "Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me." And as MLK Jr. said "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

  148. Nope. Still no equivalence unless the toddler is directly inserted into the woman's body and hooked up to all of her organs.

    And whether or not women are "equipped" for pregnancy is irrelevant – it is not a state of health, as that long list of side effects that you pretended did not exist have proved.

    And you cannot handwave away birth. Toddlers don't cause their parents to bleed to death, or rip their private parts to shreds

  149. I can see what you're trying to get at, but don't really agree.

    For one thing, I have always added the caveat that even early abortion is not completely ethically neutral. Abortion rights are a conflict of the rights and needs of 2 parties. However, given my materialistic world view (as written in a different reply to you), denying the potential of a future to a being which cannot appreciate anything yet, to me seems like the "right" that should be of less priority than the woman's right to live as she sees fit. If I were religious and felt that each fetus was a gift from God, I would probably feel differently.

    And speaking of general human equality, don't you feel it strange that main-stream pro-lifers are the ones denigrating LGBT folk, sometimes say some surprisingly racist stuff (Phil from Duck Dynasty) etc.? The pro-choice people also tend to be more educated (2x likely pro-life if high school diploma, almost 2x likely pro-choice w/ graduate degree), more likely to support LGBT rights, more likely to accept empirical science (evolution, man-made climate change etc.). These views are generally associated with people who view the problems of humanity and the earth as shared ones, don't you think?

    Do you believe LGBT people should be afforded the same rights as straight folks, just out of curiosity?

  150. I'm not saying it's equivalent, I'm saying the differences aren't big enough to be morally relevant. Why does it matter if the child is inside of her? It is using her body parents just the same whether it's inside or out. She can't walk around and care for her child and just leave her internal organs behind. They are functioning to produce energy and nutrients which, ultimately, is going to fuel her child and not herself. And it isn't as though there's some sliding scale of autonomy over one's body parts, where you have greater autonomy over those closer to the inside of you but less to your hands and feet and breasts. Yes, birth is very difficult, but you are waving away what I said about the years and years (and years) of childcare, which absolutely weighs heavily on the body-taken together, I think they are equal to the steps necessary to care for the unborn. And how many women cite the difficulties of pregnancy and childbirth as a reason for abortion, vs. those who cite the difficulties of childcare? Many, many more cite the latter. And while there is some risk of death in childbirth, there's some risk of getting in a car accident on your way to take your sick child to the hospital. The possibility of danger arising is not the same as there being a situation where a current and immediate risk has presented itself. Besides, if it were possible to simply transport the child out of the mother at the end of 9 months, would you revise your position?

    Also, while I realize this doesn't apply to pregnancies that result from rape, 99% of the time the child was created, placed in a condition of dependency, and placed in the womb by the mother's own actions, when she knew that the direct consequence of her actions could be. The right to full bodily autonomy is waived by personally and knowingly creating a person who needs her womb to live, and putting that person in it.

  151. I just don't consider the fetus to be a future being. I consider it a real, actual being, here and now, regardless of it's age. I don't think that a newborn has any less of a claim to life than a 10 year old even though she cannot appreciate life in at all the same way, and I don't think that a fetus has any less claim to life than a newborn.

    I will say that opposing gay marriage, or considering acting on homosexual attractions to be wrong, is not the same as actually considering homosexual people to be inferior. Not by a long shot. I dislike the term "homophobia" because it implies that espousing a view that's any less than "being gay is awesome look at me and my gay BFF!!" makes you hateful. I'm sure some people who oppose gay marriage/homosexual behavior DO think gays are inferior or all-around immoral, and those people are morons, but honestly, nobody I know thinks that way. I'm not 100%, but I'm inclined to support gay marriage, even though I am also inclined to think acting on homosexual attractions is wrong (just as acting on many other sexual attractions can be wrong, depending on who and why and when and what the relationship will be like). But I don't think any less of gay people, have no problem befriending them, and don't think that they're inferior, or less loved by God, or that it is remotely acceptable to persecute them, call them names, treat them rudely, or anything like that.

    Anyway, I'm rambling, what I was getting at is simply that most abortion supporters consider the unborn to be morally inferior or sub-human, but in my own experience at least, most people who oppose gay marriage and/or homosexual behavior are far from thinking gays are actually sub-human.

    Honestly, the fact that abortion "rights" has been married to the idea of being progressive and scientific and all that is….just incredibly odd to me. I consider abortion backwards and barbaric, and I think it relies on principles that we have otherwise learned to be wrong (discrimination, violence, etc.). (On a side note, there's also evidence that Republicans donate more to charity, a lot of charities and humanitarian efforts are religious, etc. And not believing in global warming doesn't mean you don't care about the environment, it just means you're ignorant of the urgency of the threat.)

    Anyway a lot of issues, including abortion, are unfortunately lumped together and we tend to think that there's two "sides" to politics, and if you're on side A you have to support X, Y, and Z, and if you're on side B you have to support M, N, and O. It's ridiculous, and I think it makes people assume certain viewpoints without giving them thought, because it's what they're supposed to think. For example someone might support abortion because, as a progressive liberal feminist, they're "supposed" to. It's expected, and they don't give the other side any thought, they believe what they've heard over and over, that the other side is misogynist and oppressive and violent and blah blah blah. Obviously this can go the other way too, and it applies to a lot of different issues.

  152. Its not because issues are "lumped" together. People who are able to think about multiple facets of an issue tend to support doing something about the climate, understanding and accepting the evidence behind evolution, and also see that in abortion, what's at stake is not ONLY the fetus. People who accept abortion rights are able to weigh the interests of 2 parties, and make an informed decision. The fact that highly educated people are more likely to be pro-choice should also be a statement that people who are more likely to see more than 1 side to an issue, are more likely to be pro-choice.

    >> I just don't consider the fetus to be a future being. I consider it a real, actual being, here and now, regardless of it's age.

    Sure, its here, but it has no capacity to "experience" its existence. For me, when weighed against the already extant human being who is carrying it, my choice is to weight the wishes of that person more than the fetus. I am in no way ignoring the fetus.

    >> Gay marriage
    I commend you on thinking outside the limits of your religion. Yes, I am making a big assumption, but most religions do not look kindly upon LGBT. I just also think its strange that gay couples do adopt lots of the products of "pro-life" thinking, and many times will adopt harder to place children. Yet so many of the people who are pro-life want to deny these adoptees a right to a secure family life. It doesn't seem like a consistent pro-life position.

    >> homophobia
    I don't know if you've ever saw things growing up, but I've seen some pretty vicious physical beatings of gay-perceived kids. That's homophobia. Right-wing groups who are pro-life and also spread lies about gay people, maybe not physical violence, but that's homophobia. True, general people may not be so venomous, but they've accepted the cool aid. And I consider that milder homophobia.

    >> Republicans donate to charity more
    Could be, but what kind of charity? The ones that go to Africa and support "kill the gay" legislation? The ones that also go to Africa and preach against birth control? Sure, its not good to paint the Right in one swift stroke, but some of the "charities" I don't consider doing any particular good for the world. Also, given that super rich people like Gates, Zuckerberg, Wozniak, Jobs are all left-leaning atheists who give lots and lots of money, I don't know if that evidence is necessarily backed by fact.

  153. Yes, it is morally relevant, unless of course you can't distinguish between rape (intimate use of your body parts) and willingly interacting with someone in a non-intimate way.

  154. Can you distinguish between someone groping a woman's breasts without her consent, and the law requiring the woman who is snowed into her house to breastfeed her baby, even if she would rather not, in order to keep her baby from starving? One is unjust assault. The second scenario is not assault, either by the government or by the baby.

  155. No one thinks that the fetus is the ONLY life at stake. If anything, most pro-choicers I have talked with consider the fetus to be virtually a non-entity, worth of no concern.

    Why does that fact that the fetus is presently unaware mean it is okay to kill? The fetus's entire life is going to be lost in abortion, whereas without abortion the mother will experience inconvenience and some suffering, but she will not lose her entire life. It is the fetus who is being robbed of his or her entire life experiences, every smile, every new learned thing, every heartache, every lesson, every love. Everything. Like we've discussed before, you don't have to be AWARE of your rights in order for them to be violated, and you don't even have to consciously suffer in order to be wronged. (As in someone who is spied on naked, who never becomes aware of it.) A newborn can experience, yes, but it can experience less than a 10 year old, so why should it be equal? For that matter, I think my dog is probably more self-aware and mentally capable and able to fear death than a newborn, particularly if that newborn cannot feel pain. But I would never in a million years save a dog over a newborn baby.

    Highly educated people once thought slavery was okay. New ideas are always met with hostility, and laughed at, at first.

    I'm not doubting there are people who honestly qualify for the term homophobic, and those people are no friends of mine. I just wanted to clarify that there's a distinction to be made, and not being entirely accepting of either gay marriage or homosexual behavior doesn't automatically translate to hating or disliking gays.

    Regarding donations….I don't think many people support "kill the gay" legislation, period. Like…almost nobody. Even fewer would classify such an organization as a charity. I know of many politically right wing and/or Christian charities that do incredible work. Salvation Army, Active Water, Samaritan's Purse, I know a Christian couple that are in Africa now doing AIDs relief and helping to get women out of prostitution by helping them find better jobs, etc. etc.

  156. >> robbed of every love … etc.
    yeah, sure, also possibly a life of abuse, neglect, poverty etc. But that's not the point. Sure, I don't doubt that it is denied a future experience, but the fetus at the point is not hurting, does not realize it is being denied and will NEVER know it has been denied. This is where our different world views are at odds. My world view is that we are just a bag of chemicals. Our arrangement into this form is not special. Its only once they've been arranged into this form, I've gained cognitive and emotional abilities, and only then does life mean anything to me. When a woman is ready to raise a child, she will have one, and can let that child experience all the wonders of life. That seems good enough for me.

    As for slavery, I beg to differ. The highly educated people (the Northern states) realized that slavery was not good and not compatible with an industrialized mode of production. It is the less educated (the Southern states) who held on to slavery.

    Sure, I don't doubt that Catholic charities do good work. But they also spread misinformation in Africa about birth control, and contribute to the spread of AIDS in the first place. Religion is fine, but when dogma gets in the way of evidenced-based health policies, I see it doing more harm than good.

  157. Slavery was advocated by all kinds of people, and not just in America. I mean good grief, Thomas Jefferson wrote "all men are created equal" and he owned slaves, and we've got a huge monument to him and revere him and put him on our money. Anyone can hold discriminatory viewpoints.

    Yes, I mentioned every heartache. I'm not saying that the child's experiences will all be good but they are HIS experiences to live. And he is inherently a rational, aware, moral being; those traits are an intrinsic part of his identity, contained in his genetic code. He just isn't old enough to fully express them.

    If you believe the only thing wrong in killing someone is that they can value their own life or experience suffering, I'm still not seeing why it is wrong to kill an unconscious, un-feeling, non-self-aware newborn baby.

    And I don't see why a newborn baby would be worth more than a dog, when the dog clearly has more current awarenes, empathy, reasoning skills, etc. Wouldn't you save a newborn baby over a dog?

    Do yo believe in human equality? We differ vastly in our ability to appreciate life, in our mental abilities, in our awareness and intelligence and ability to feel and reason and empathize…If our right to life is based on such things, how can we all have an equal right to life?

  158. >> Wouldn't you save a newborn baby over a dog?

    MY dog over a newborn who I do not know? I would choose my dog. A random dog vs. a random newborn. I'd probably go with the newborn.

    >> The slavery issue

    No, I'm saying the ones who realized slavery was wrong are probably not the comparatively ignorant ones. There were certainly times when both the educated and ignorant were wrong about slavery, but I think the impetus for most social change is usually from thoughtful people.

    >> Do yo believe in human equality?
    Sure. But I just don't see the need to view early fetuses as human when they can't yet appreciate it. My world view is one fetus is as good as another. Nothing special about any given fetus. If you deny 1 a chance at life, have one later when you are prepared to give it a good life. Denying the –>potential<– for a good life to something which can neither regret it now or ever is totally meaningless to me.

  159. The fetus's entire life is going to be lost in abortion, whereas without
    abortion the mother will experience inconvenience and some suffering,
    but she will not lose her entire life.
    Purple Slurpy has already made a fine response here that I'd like to supplement.

    First, let us note that the mother may very well lose her entire life if the pregnancy or childbirth kills her. Even with modern medical technology, pregnancy and child birth can turn south on a dime in ways that cannot be predicted, cannot be prevented, and cannot be stopped. Forcing gestation on her is literally playing Russian roulette with her very life.

    Second, even if pregnancy or childbirth doesn't outright kill her, the woman may wind up *permanently* disabled. And, again, even with modern medical technology, it will happen in ways that cannot be predicted, cannot be prevented, and cannot be stopped. Pregnancy is not about a bit of inconvenience and some minor suffering, it is about taking real risks to one's life and health–risks that you would force her to take.

    As a sidenote, anyone who is willing to dismiss the pain of labor and childbirth as "some suffering" ought to immediately be dismissed as a cruel, inhuman monster. I was my sister's coach for her first child. I saw what she went through for thirty-six hours. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy, let alone some poor woman who hasn't so much as even committed a crime.

    But what if, as you might say, modern medical technology has reduced the risks to a point where they have become acceptable, especially in light of the fact that an abortion will deprive a prenate of its entire future? The risk is still not zero, and that is the only number that matters.

    But let's say the risk is actually zero, what then? All we need to do is look at what happens to those who willingly carried through an unintended pregnancy. More often than not, this results in a life of poverty. Loss of education and career prospects. Consequences to familial and other social life. And whatever negative physical, psychological, and spiritual impacts that continue long after birth. As a practical matter, once lost, these are things that cannot be regained.

    In short, pregnancy has such an impact on a woman's total well-being that you may as well be robbing her of her entire life. And unlike the fetus, she will know it. And she will consciously suffer.

  160. Can you see the difference between one who has voluntarily undertaken the rights and responsibilities of parenthood and one who has not? If the former can be required (and that is a big IF) to breastfeed, it is a matter of holding her to her word. If the latter can be so required, that makes her a slave.

  161. Also, while I realize this doesn't apply to pregnancies that result from
    rape, 99% of the time the child was created, placed in a condition of
    dependency, and placed in the womb by the mother's own actions, when she
    knew that the direct consequence of her actions could be. The right to
    full bodily autonomy is waived by personally and knowingly creating a
    person who needs her womb to live, and putting that person in it.
    Both main statements here constitutes begging the question. The mother had sex. That's it. Pregnancy, IF it occurs, is nature's doing. And even if it could be assumed that having sex is both necessary and sufficient to get pregnant, it does not follow that the woman has AUTOMATICALLY waived bodily autonomy by the act of having sex.

  162. Anyway, I'm rambling, what I was getting at is simply that most abortion
    supporters consider the unborn to be morally inferior or sub-human

    When you objectify a woman in service of a fetus, you consider her to be morally inferior and subhuman, even if you won't admit it.

  163. We aren't talking about blizzard, last I checked.

    What we are talking about is something being INSIDE your body, using your organs, without your consent, vs physical labour.

    But hey, let's play it your way. Forcing a woman to remain pregnancy if not outright slavery is at least indentured servitude because you are forcing her to labour on behalf of another, at great risk to her health and life, without remuneration.

    Tell me BB, you support forced pregnancy in the case of rape, are you going to pay the hospital bills of the rape victim? What if she comes down with eclampsia, can't work, loses her job, her insurance, and her property – are you gonna help out? Are you gonna give her 100k? Yeah..thought not.

  164. After all, people can be
    charged with negligent homicide if they let their children starve,
    freeze, etc.
    Um, that would pretty clearly fall under unjust killing category. With regard to abortion, it is begging the question since whether abortion is an unjust killing is the very issue.

    But let's set that aside and move onward. Children, like all human beings, certainly do have a right to food, nutrition, shelter from harm, etc. But that is a societal obligation, not a personal one. That is, you have a right to food, shelter, etc., but this does not mean I am obligated to provide you food from my pantry, shelter in my home, etc. It is enough to pay my taxes and do my solid best to ensure those taxes are being used feed, shelter, and clothe those who need it.

    I certainly may voluntarily undertake that obligation for another person. And once voluntarily undertaken, I can be held to that obligation until such a time as the person can either take care of themselves or I can safely pass that care onto another person or the state, as the case may be. Anything or anyone who tries to force that obligation on me for any reason turns me into a slave.

    I consider the unborn and born to be moral equals, just as I consider all other humans to be moral equals (regardless of age, abilities, mental capacity, gender, race, etc.), so I believe abortion is unjust killing just as much as it would be unjust killing to kill a newborn or toddler.
    No you don't. Not really. Your willingness to turn women into slaves alone speaks otherwise. What you are in fact doing is assigning the prenate more moral value than you are to the woman carrying it.

  165. No, as a matter of fact it's NOT against human rights. And the sex of the fetus is immaterial. It's not about the fetus.

  166. A total CROCK. Pregnancy isn't a state of wellness. If it was, women have been subjected to the biggest SCAM ever devised in human history by all these men and women of medicine who butter their bread by taking care of pregnant women. Occam's razor suggests that isn't the case, doesn't it, Joshua? Especially in light of the fact that as recently as 150 years ago, pregnancy was one of the most dangerous things a woman went through in her life. Does this sound like a state of wellness to you? I can assure you that one of my pregnancies was definitely NOT natural, NOT healthy, and NOT a state of wellness, and truthfully none of them were. I only have definitive evidence for one of them. How dare you. How DARE YOU focus on a mindless animal entity, while ignoring the sentient, sapient, breathing, THINKING human being that stands in front of you? You mealy-mouthed, cruel, dismissive, authoritarian little weasel! Reverse your severe cranial-rectal inversion and maybe enough oxygen will get to your brain that you can think clearly.

  167. Do you see the preborn children living in foster homes? Do you see women being stripped of their inalienable right to determine their own physical future? While women are the only ones with the capability to carry babies but they can't get pregnant without the help of someone providing sperm. Where is the loss of basic human rights for men? This is nothing but pure discrimination and trying to impose your religious beliefs on millions of others.


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