Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Coda » Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:44 pm

Jennifer Diane Reitz wrote:A fertilized egg is not a chicken.

A fetus is not a human being.

The real issue in abortion has nothing whatsoever to do with the sanctity of life.

It is purely about the control of the sexuality and personal power of women.


Jennifer, those are the very kind of blanket statements that I'm arguing against. Holding such a blanket statement to be true is part of the very REASON the debate rages on -- because claiming that it's only about one thing or only about the other side is completely disregarding the moral foundation of the other. Besides, that's a false dichotomy; it's not "purely" about anything, nor is it only about those two points.

By the way, a fertilized egg IS a chicken, and a fetus IS a human being -- chromosome for chromosome, gene for gene. A human fetus is Homo sapiens sapiens and a fertilized chicken egg is Gallus gallus domesticus. It is plain and simple scientific fact, and trying to argue otherwise only makes you look foolish. The question is whether the fetus should be given an a priori right to life that supersedes the will of the woman carrying it.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Alfador » Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:03 pm

Coda wrote:If you want to bring up anecdotes... My mother nearly died in pregnancy with my sister. Even under my own compromise my sister could have been aborted to save my mother's life. Now my mother is nearly 50 years old and my kid sister is making plans to start her own family. So I have a personal reason to be vehemently against abortion in all cases -- but I know that's a fight I can't win.


My mother nearly died in pregnancy with me. It was actually RECOMMENDED that I die to give her a better chance at survival, especially since my own chances of survival were very slim as well. We're both now alive because my mother made the CHOICE to try to save us both, rather than being forced to.

Because if she had been forced to never have an abortion, she would have had one child a few years before me, and my younger brother and I would never have even been conceived. And the complications would likely have been even greater with my mom being younger, and with medical science being that much less advanced by a few years... there's a good chance NONE of us would be around today. (By "us" I mean "Mom, my brother, myself, and the potential offspring of my mother that was aborted.")
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Tychomonger » Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:43 pm

Coda wrote:To answer your postscript, it's simply because rape is a hot issue and the woman hasn't been negligent. Accepting abortion in this case is a practical compromise, not my core belief -- I know anything that I would put forward that DOESN'T account for rape will NEVER see serious consideration, so as a matter of being realistic I can accept such a concession.

Could you please elaborate on that first quoted sentence? Are you saying that women who have been negligent specifically should not be allowed to have abortions?
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Coda » Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:06 pm

Tychomonger wrote:
Coda wrote:To answer your postscript, it's simply because rape is a hot issue and the woman hasn't been negligent. Accepting abortion in this case is a practical compromise, not my core belief -- I know anything that I would put forward that DOESN'T account for rape will NEVER see serious consideration, so as a matter of being realistic I can accept such a concession.

Could you please elaborate on that first quoted sentence? Are you saying that women who have been negligent specifically should not be allowed to have abortions?


That is, indeed, what I'm suggesting. A woman who has been sexually active while refusing to use some sort of prophylactic or contraceptive has not paid due diligence to the avoidance of pregnancy. As such, she has been negligent and should be expected to deal with the consequences of her recklessness. A woman who HAS paid due diligence -- through birth control and/or through insistence on condom use -- who becomes pregnant anyway would be permitted an abortion under this proposal on the assumption that she responds quickly to the discovery of her pregnancy. If she knows she is pregnant and does not quickly (within some reasonable standard -- say, 30 days?) follow up on the discovery, again she has been negligent.

I do understand the difficulty of proving such negligence, and I understand the potential for abuse, but at least conceptually this puts the emphasis on prevention while not being an outright ban that would cause the proposal to be defeated without consideration.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Tychomonger » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:28 pm

So the negligent women are penalized with not having access to an abortion?

I don't see how your stated drive behind opposing abortion could possibly lead to wanting this as a method of determining access to abortion. What role does negligence play in an unborn child's right to life? The actions of the mother reflect in no way on the rights of the child. Thus you are basing your decision on the mother, and not the child.

If it is the potential life of the child that matters, you must consider what that life will be like. A negligent procreator will likely be a negligent mother. When you deny a woman who does not want to be pregnant the choice of aborting the pregnancy, you are forcing her to raise a child she did not want to have, which can lead to abuse and further negligence.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:17 pm

To tell the religious fanatic "If you do not like abortion, then don't have one" is not enough for them - and this proves that what they seek is nothing less than domination and conquest.

The fanatic is not satisfied to practice their own beliefs, they must force everyone to practice them too - or else. That is the act of a bully, and a bastard, and I have no toleration for either.


What is a person?

Those who would oppose a woman's right to her own body would argue that a person is nothing more than a fertilized egg - a single cell dividing to become a 100 cell blastocyst. This insensate blob of protoplasm, incapable of feeling, motion, awareness, perception, or indeed anything more than mere parasitic growth is considered, by them, to possess a magical 'soul', an otherworldly essence that makes it more than what it physically is.

For the sake of this arbitrary belief, they are willing to allow that a woman should die that this blob should eventually grow to become a baby, that a victim of rape should have to carry the fruit of violence and hatred within her to term, and even that those who provide relief to such women with the help that is abortion should be murdered - as recently has just occurred, yet again.

A person, a human being, is more than a mass of squirming, insensate cells. On that, I and the anti-choice fanatic agree.

A person is the sum total of their experience, their learning, their perceptions and experiences, and I am the first to say that as a person grows and ages, they gradually become more than the sum of their parts. A person is everything they have done, seen, hoped, and dreamed, an entire universe of being. The loss of even one, to death, is a tragedy that diminishes us all, I firmly reason.

To imagine, even for a moment, that this astonishing thing - a full and experienced personality - is equal to, much less second to a mere blob of hungering jelly draining energy from within a womb, is the very height of insanity. The blob knows nothing, the fetus cannot even feel pain - the neurons that process it have not yet been wired in. It cannot sense, nor think, nor know. It has no memory, no self, no identity, no intelligence. It does not worry about death, it cannot even conceive of life.

Yet, to some, this wee mass of cells is worth dying and killing for, and it is worth sacrificing both the life, and the personal freedom, of an entire, mature, sapient, intelligent human being. This cannot be anything but madness, can it?

Yes, it can. To control the reproduction and sex life of another is to control their lives. It is to determine what they can do, how they must live, who they must obey, and above all which beliefs they must bow to... whether they believe them themselves or not.

To prevent a woman's access to abortion (and birth control, too, they are intimately related) is to enslave her. She may not have sex freely except with the greatest dread, for the terrible fear of becoming pregnant should her birth control -if allowed- should fail, as it sometimes does. She must, generally, to protect herself, and her enforced offspring, seek to adhere to a system where she can be assured of support in pregnancy, which most often means only risking regular sex within the crippling confines of marriage alone. Should she be 'caught', as many women have been in the past, she would be forced to subsume her life to raise a child she does not want, or face trying to give it to unknown others, or face an illicit, back-alley abortion -a terrible, often fatal risk- merely to maintain ownership of her own life.

To deny a woman access to abortion is to remove her last line of defense against unwanted pregnancy, and to relegate her to a life playing obeisance to religious doctrines that are not her own. Even the atheist must bow to nonexistent gods when religious doctrine enforces laws concerning sex. And sex is the ultimate point of control - it is common to virtually all people, and vastly important to them. To control it is to control at a fundamental level of being.

The religious claim that they are saving the souls of the unborn, but they are really promoting their narrow rules of conduct on anyone and everyone, regardless of their own beliefs and attitudes. This is domination, and it is wrong, it is using the law to enforce religion, and that is wrong.

Even if the religious were right in their beliefs, they still do not have the right to make even the slightest effort to destroy the freedom and options of others. To do so is conquest, pure and simple.

This is why I do not merely reject the statements of those who would take from women their right and option for abortion, I absolutely oppose it. Such people may be deluded into thinking they are doing some good, but the reality -easily seen- is that their efforts result in forcing others to adhere, to bow, to submit to their belief system, to their religion, against all reason, and against all right.

To tell the religious fanatic "If you do not like abortion, then don't have one" is not enough for them - and this proves that what they seek is nothing less than domination and conquest.

The fanatic is not satisfied to practice their own beliefs, they must force everyone to practice them too - or else. That is the act of a bully, and a bastard, and I have no toleration for either.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Monocheres » Sat Jun 13, 2009 12:41 am

Jennifer, to be fair to Coda, I don't think he was trying to argue the pro-life stance per se (even though he was open in disclosing it as his own personal view). I think his point was that, on any issue, if you have a belief or conviction that something is fundamentally wrong, then it's insufficient to just refrain from doing it yourself. You have a moral obligation to seek to prevent others from doing it as well, within the limits of what is acceptable and feasible under law, or under the processes for changing the law. This may expose you to criticism from your opposition, accusing you of wanting to tyrannously infringe upon their rights. And sadly, you may find your views shared by crazy extremists who actually do think committing crimes and imposing a tyranny in the name of your cause is justified. Unfortunately, no matter how much you might disagree with such extremism, your opponents will lump you in with them, and use that as fodder for their propaganda against you.

To give an analogy, if you were living in the 19th century, and you believed that slavery was fundamentally wrong, it would not have been sufficient to simply refrain from keeping slaves yourself, or to free any slaves you might have owned already. Such moral convictions would also have obligated you to become an abolitionist, seeking to prevent other people from owning and keeping slaves as well. Did abolitionism wish to impose a certain belief system on many people who adamantly did not share that belief? Yes. The opponents to abolitionism often used strong and incendiary language against it, accusing it of constituting a tyrannous assault on basic property rights, or an incitement to lawless chaos and anarchy. They even accused abolitionists of wanting to impose religious beliefs -- moreover, the beliefs of only particular religious sects -- upon all (white) people. They argued this on the basis that many (though of course not all) abolitionists came to their convictions through their religious beliefs; and that certain sects, such as the Quakers, Baptists, and Methodists, were more vocal against slavery than others; whereas many pro-slavery Christians could cite Bible verses condoning slavery.

Am I trying to equate abortion and slavery? No, I don't want to take that analogy quite that far. But I think abolitionists of good conscience would have been justified in saying to pro-slavery folks: "Whatever your views on this issue may be, you must at least concede that the views held by our side are based on fundamental moral convictions that oblige us to try to put a stop to it, so long as we do not unduly infringe on other people's rights in the process. The fact that a crazy like John Brown thinks those moral convictions justify leading an armed insurrection and killing people, and the fact that some folks idolize him and write verses about him in the Battle Hymn of the Republic, doesn't mean that all abolitionists agree with his extremism. And you must also concede that for you to hold your position on slavery, you must either believe (1) blacks are not human beings and therefore may be enslaved with impunity, or (2) blacks are human beings, but it is somehow justifiable to take some human beings and turn them into property, denying them all their human rights."

I suppose even making this analogy is going to be perceived as an incendiary stance against abortion. But in fact, I agree with you, Jennifer, that a 100-cell blastocyst is not a human being -- or rather, not enough of a human being to justify ascribing it rights that trump the freedom of its fully-realized adult human mother. However, this does mean that, at least to that extent, you and I both fit the definition Coda set, in that we believe that (1) an early-stage human embryo should not be treated as a human being with full rights.

But here's where I respectfully part company with you, and also, incidentally, where the analogy with slavery breaks down: The moral foundation of both pro-life and pro-choice suffer from shades of gray, whereas the moral foundation of abolitionism was pretty clear-cut. Blacks are human beings. Period. End of story. Even many folks in the 19th century could see how obvious that fact was -- even though a lot of abolitionists would strike us, by today's standards, as being incredibly racially bigoted.

On the other hand, while a 100-cell blastocyst is not a human being -- or rather, not enough of a human being -- there will be some point (if it lives long enough), where it will become a human being, somewhere down the line. When, exactly? It's hard to say. The religious right want to draw the line at conception, but that's an extreme viewpoint based on metaphysics. The most radical pro-choicers want to draw the line at live childbirth, but that's just as extreme a viewpoint, based on sexual politics.

A child near the end of gestation is a being with a fully-formed human nervous system that can sense the world around it, that can interact socially with its mother and even to some extent with other people outside the womb (my own son kicked enthusiastically whenever he heard my voice), and that can certainly feel pain and suffer. I just can't justify in my mind the idea of taking toothed steel forceps, forcibly tearing parts off a child's body a piece at a time, and then crushing and extracting its head. Or pulling the child feet first partially out of the womb, poking a hole in the back of its head with scissors, then vacuuming out its brains to collapse its skull. Usually these techniques are done without any anesthetic to the child. The mother gets anesthetic but it's unclear how much, if any, gets past the placental barrier. It's got to be incredibly painful for the child to be executed in this way. (Premature babies of the same age are observed to grimace and cringe and whimper when they are in pain.) To equate this kind of horrific act of slaughter with removing a tiny 100-cell blob a few months earlier, is utterly offensive to me.

The line has to be drawn somewhere in between. Where exactly? Tough to say. There are lots of shades of gray. Certainly a lot earlier than the third trimester. Maybe the first trimester. Unfortunately, science doesn't given any clear-cut answers. Any answers you hear from people -- on either side of this issue -- are usually just based on dogma.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:44 am

Reason tells us that while we have no proof of a soul, we do have proof that an adult has a mind, and a sense of self. To a reasoning mind, there can be no question that the life of a sapient being is vastly, overwhelmingly more important and meaningful than the life of a collection of cells in a blastocyst. The mere potential to become a human being cannot ever be sufficient. Any cell, from anywhere in the body, even the skin, could be made to arise as a fetus, with the right encouragement - should we then bomb exfoliation clinics? Should we outlaw skinned knees? Make every sperm -or egg- sacred?

More to the point - should religious fanatics be able to affect policy that could lead to such circumstance at all? NO! Law, personal freedom, what is allowed should never be permitted to be decided by arbitrary belief.

If the religious were able to truly say "I respect your beliefs, though they are different than mine, so I will never make any effort to control you, or your life, or make you conform to what I believe is right" then there would be no problem.

I certainly have no wish to tell Christians that they must pray any certain way, or not pray, or not believe, or believe some other thing.

Yet some Christians would invade my life on a quest to enforce their idea of 'right', and force me, and others, to kow-tow to it, to obey it, to act as they do, against my will. They make cultural war against me, and make themselves an enemy to all but their narrow selves.

In order that all people should be free, the religious cannot ever have the right to force law or policy, because they believe only one thing, one truth, one right, one wrong, and one moral truth, and that is incompatible with a diverse and multicultural society.

Each time the religious win anything in terms of controlling society, they force everyone that is not them -including rival sects- to lose something. They war with each other, and they war with the nonreligious, who would be perfectly content if everyone just followed their own truth without imposing it on others.

Ultimately this is the battle between the single-value logic system and the multiple-value logic system.

The single value of religion is fundamentally incompatible with a diverse society. It cannot be listened to, because if it is, it diminishes everything not similar to itself.

The multiple value of reason, devoid of arbitrary faith and magical thinking permits and allows all to exist within it, even those things diametrically opposed to it. For that reason it is middle ground that diminishes nothing, and permits a diverse society. Only it should be the basis of all policy and law.

And thus it is that abortion should be something even the religious fight to support - because if the freedom to use abortion falls, then the brakes are lost, and sect will fall upon sect in a battle to enforce their specific truth... as has happened throughout nearly all of history.

To be free, we must often support that which we are personally opposed to, purely on the reasoned justification that unless the rules of society are truly expansive, they shall surely contract, crushing all.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Coda » Sat Jun 13, 2009 7:46 am

Monocheres, you impress me again. :) Thanks for the help.

Jennifer Diane Reitz wrote:Reason tells us that while we have no proof of a soul, we do have proof that an adult has a mind, and a sense of self. To a reasoning mind, there can be no question that the life of a sapient being is vastly, overwhelmingly more important and meaningful than the life of a collection of cells in a blastocyst. The mere potential to become a human being cannot ever be sufficient. Any cell, from anywhere in the body, even the skin, could be made to arise as a fetus, with the right encouragement - should we then bomb exfoliation clinics? Should we outlaw skinned knees? Make every sperm -or egg- sacred?

I made this argument to RaharuAharu earlier and I will make it again. We don't have proof that even a live-born infant has a mind. For several months after birth, a human infant knows nothing but instinctive cravings for nourishment, sleep, and comfort, with imprinted images of the faces and voices of its caregivers. DOGS have this -- do we argue that dogs have minds? Do we argue that it's morally wrong to kill a dog? If you're going to make a threshold, beware making your judgment on any quality or parameter that supposedly separates people from non-people that could be interpreted to apply to a live-born infant.

More to the point - should religious fanatics be able to affect policy that could lead to such circumstance at all? NO! Law, personal freedom, what is allowed should never be permitted to be decided by arbitrary belief.

In order that all people should be free, the religious cannot ever have the right to force law or policy, because they believe only one thing, one truth, one right, one wrong, and one moral truth, and that is incompatible with a diverse and multicultural society.

I strongly, STRONGLY disagree, at least if you take the word "fanatics" out of there. You're discriminating against religion as a whole. You're saying that just because I base my opinion on my religious beliefs that I'm not allowed to vote accordingly, that I'm not allowed to present legislation accordingly. If I were an atheist and held the same opinion, would I be allowed? I know atheistic anti-abortionists. On the flip side, NO ONE should ever be able to FORCE a law to be passed -- religious or not. Government exists by the consent of the governed; if any group can FORCE something to happen against the collective will and better judgment of the people.

If the religious were able to truly say "I respect your beliefs, though they are different than mine, so I will never make any effort to control you, or your life, or make you conform to what I believe is right" then there would be no problem.

I certainly have no wish to tell Christians that they must pray any certain way, or not pray, or not believe, or believe some other thing.

Yet some Christians would invade my life on a quest to enforce their idea of 'right', and force me, and others, to kow-tow to it, to obey it, to act as they do, against my will. They make cultural war against me, and make themselves an enemy to all but their narrow selves.

I think you missed the point I made and that Monocheres reinforced. Go back and read Mono's post again.

Each time the religious win anything in terms of controlling society, they force everyone that is not them -including rival sects- to lose something. They war with each other, and they war with the nonreligious, who would be perfectly content if everyone just followed their own truth without imposing it on others.

Ultimately this is the battle between the single-value logic system and the multiple-value logic system.

The single value of religion is fundamentally incompatible with a diverse society. It cannot be listened to, because if it is, it diminishes everything not similar to itself.

The multiple value of reason, devoid of arbitrary faith and magical thinking permits and allows all to exist within it, even those things diametrically opposed to it. For that reason it is middle ground that diminishes nothing, and permits a diverse society. Only it should be the basis of all policy and law.

Not all religions are so single-valued, and not all individuals following those that are are likewise single-valued. As you can see, I can understand that my core belief wouldn't make good law, and understand the opposing opinion, and have sought to make appropriate concessions and compromises. And I know I'm not the only one. And I know that there are those who are non-religious who are just as fanatic for the opposite extremes, and those who are non-religious who likewise understand the opposing views and can compromise with them. A diverse society is necessarily going to consist of all of those. A diverse society must be able to listen to ALL of them. A diverse society must treat ALL of its members with fairness and equal consideration -- not just the ones that agree with you. The government of a diverse society, then, MUST listen to the religious viewpoint as well in order to promote compromise and fairness.

And thus it is that abortion should be something even the religious fight to support - because if the freedom to use abortion falls, then the brakes are lost, and sect will fall upon sect in a battle to enforce their specific truth... as has happened throughout nearly all of history.

If absolute freedom of abortion is permitted, then it's made clear that being Homo sapiens sapiens is irrelevant and that the life and death of individual members of the species are subject to the whims of other individuals. Unfettered abortion leads to unfettered euthanasia, which lead to eugenics and the "pruning" of the handicapped and the socially undesirable, who are genetically human but through some statement have been declared to be non-persons. The anti-abortion side is arguing that merely having been born is not a sufficient threshold to say "this is a person." The anti-abortion side is saying that it's NOT a matter of personal freedom when it infringes upon the personal freedoms of another individual -- and this is the very balance that defines social order: The personal freedoms of an individual MUST NOT be allowed to infringe upon the personal freedoms of another individual. That makes this argument at least somewhat about what defines an individual.

To be free, we must often support that which we are personally opposed to, purely on the reasoned justification that unless the rules of society are truly expansive, they shall surely contract, crushing all.

Again, I will reiterate what I said earlier. Government and law exist to balance personal freedom between social stability. Too much personal freedom yields chaos and anarchy; too much social stability yields oppression and tyranny. A balance MUST be struck -- sometimes personal freedom must suffer for the greater good.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Coda » Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:00 am

It occurs to me that I forgot to reply to this:

Tychomonger wrote:So the negligent women are penalized with not having access to an abortion?

I don't see how your stated drive behind opposing abortion could possibly lead to wanting this as a method of determining access to abortion. What role does negligence play in an unborn child's right to life? The actions of the mother reflect in no way on the rights of the child. Thus you are basing your decision on the mother, and not the child.

If it is the potential life of the child that matters, you must consider what that life will be like. A negligent procreator will likely be a negligent mother. When you deny a woman who does not want to be pregnant the choice of aborting the pregnancy, you are forcing her to raise a child she did not want to have, which can lead to abuse and further negligence.


I was saying this was a compromise. It's knowingly setting aside my morals and the rationale behind them in order to come up with a possible solution that addressed what I see to be the most reasonable of the pro-choice arguments.

As far as the unwanted child being neglected after birth, there are already laws and procedures in place for that.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Sat Jun 13, 2009 11:57 am

Before abortion was legalized, women having them had to suffer a frightening and dangerous path.

If they had money -and lots of it- they could go to a 'back alley abortion clinic'. This was a place run by a renegade doctor, or someone claiming to be a doctor, or someone claiming to know what they were doing more or less. The procedures used were unsanitary, often completely wrong, and many women died or suffered terrible injury as a result.

For those without wealth -most women- the choice was rather 'do it yourself', and involved such implements as the traditional bent coat hanger wire, blindly shoved up the uterus in the hope of scraping the little bugger out. A common result was perforation, followed by hemorrhage, followed by sepsis, followed by death.

Women have used means to abort unwanted pregnancies for the entire history of Man. Women will always try to abort an unwanted pregnancy; no amount of law or religion will stop this fact.

To argue for repealing Roe Vs Wade, to make abortion illegal again, is to argue that in order to control the freedom of other people it is alright to knowingly send them to injury and death over something humans have done since the start of recorded history. All for the sake of unborn blobs of tissue that have only the possibility of becoming a person.

And as much as it is fashionable to speak of adoption and social services and such, the fact is that women often become stuck with the babies they are forced against their will to bring to term, and then both the unwilling mother, and the accidental child, suffer commonly awful lives of poverty and social shame. Or worse, they may end up in hateful marriages of convenience in order to provide additional support for their situation.

For the sake of some arbitrary religious truth something that cannot be stopped would be made illegal, so that even further penalty and punishment follow an already difficult and traumatic decision.

That is unconscionable. That is just plain cruel, and it is wrong, and if morality be invoked, it is evil.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Coda » Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:40 pm

I've been explicitly and repeatedly stating that I DO NOT WANT TO ABOLISH ABORTION. I understand as a matter of realism that a complete ban could never happen in this country, and even if it did the side effects would be ugly and undesirable. I want to find a compromise solution that MINIMIZES it: one that will put emphasis on making it NOT NECESSARY -- on PREVENTION -- while leaving it available for cases that could not have been prevented, such as rape and birth control failure.

In other words, every point you just made, I've ALREADY ACCOUNTED FOR.

Don't let anti-religious or pro-abortion sentiment blind you to compromise.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Tychomonger » Sat Jun 13, 2009 7:20 pm

I still fail to see why preventable pregnancies should not be allowed to be aborted, except if it is being used as a penalty toward the women involved in the pregnancy.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Monocheres » Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:22 pm

Edit: I started composing this before Tycho's and Coda's replies., then came back to it. Rather than delay it to process what they said, let me put it out there, even at the risk of possibly duplicating what they said:

Jennifer Diane Reitz wrote:Ultimately this is the battle between the single-value logic system and the multiple-value logic system.


Except that pro-choice appears to be as much of a single-value logic system as pro-life.

Pro-life position: "The right to life is sacred. Killing a human life is wrong. We don't know how to define "human life" so we should err on the side of caution, go with fertilization and generation of a unique genome as the defining event. Conclusion: Abortion is always wrong, any time during pregnancy. To brook any compromise on that is to invite a slippery-slope."

Pro-choice position: "The right of a woman to choose what she does with her body is sacred. A baby is a parasite that requires the mother to willingly act as its host all the way up to the point of child-birth. Conclusion: Abortion is always the woman's choice, any time during pregnancy, even right up to the last minute. To brook any compromise on that is to invite a slippery-slope."

I view both positions as extreme. The inflexibility and entrenchment of these two diametrically opposed viewpoints, the inability to brook any compromise, is to my mind patently absurd. Life and nature is all about compromise and ambiguity.

Both the pro-life and pro-choice dogmas have a seductive clarity to them. It's easy to take their mutually-exclusive sets of premises and comprehend the logic behind their conclusions. But I cannot accept either of these positions, because they grossly over-simplify the situation. They both ignore the plain facts.

Jennifer Diane Reitz wrote:Reason tells us that while we have no proof of a soul, we do have proof that an adult has a mind, and a sense of self. To a reasoning mind, there can be no question that the life of a sapient being is vastly, overwhelmingly more important and meaningful than the life of a collection of cells in a blastocyst. The mere potential to become a human being cannot ever be sufficient. Any cell, from anywhere in the body, even the skin, could be made to arise as a fetus, with the right encouragement - should we then bomb exfoliation clinics? Should we outlaw skinned knees? Make every sperm -or egg- sacred?


But what you are doing here rhetorically is reductio ad absurdum. I do not claim that mere potential is sufficient to confer full human rights. Others may, but I do not. If you look carefully at what I have stated as my position, you will see that I am actually unambiguously in favor of a woman's right to abort very early stage pregnancies, largely for the reasons you have stated. Indeed, I see such abortions as very little removed from the harshness that already exists naturally during early fetal development, when miscarriages are so common. Even naturally arising embryos and fetuses must pass some early tests of viability, that are rather brutal as it turns out. Nature is a Mother.

But I think you're overlooking the obvious: Fetal development is a process. A fetus goes through progressive stages of development. It does not remain a blastocyst for nine months and then suddenly *pop* turns into a baby at the last second and is decanted. Its size and complexity increases with time, it becomes progressively more and more sapient. More and more recognizably -- and undeniably -- human. Therefore more and more entitled to the same rights as the fully-realized adult you are championing. Or for that matter, the naturally-born child it will be the instant it gets out of the birth canal. I am unambiguously against abortion during the very last stages of pregnancy.[1] No reasoning or compassionate person can possibly deny a being its right to life simply because it is waiting for the right moment to make its big change of address, but will not substantially change its composition or structure when it does so.

Where things get ambiguous is somewhere in between. At some point, the right of the mother to choose ceases to dominate, and the right of the unborn child to live takes over. Because it is a continuous process, any sharp demarcation line you draw will necessarily be arbitrary and open to debate. Reasonable people can differ in their opinion, although it seems clear that it is somewhere between the end of the first trimester and the start of the third. There's no magical "ensoulment" event, no "atma particle absorption" we can observe. Nature just does not offer any easy answers there. Oh well. Tough luck.

[1] (We can reasonably debate possible exceptions for extreme situations near the end of pregnancy, like imminent risk of death to the mother.)

Jennifer Diane Reitz wrote:More to the point - should religious fanatics be able to affect policy that could lead to such circumstance at all? NO! Law, personal freedom, what is allowed should never be permitted to be decided by arbitrary belief.


Ah, well that's a different question. But it sounds to me like what you're arguing there is something akin to "guilt-by-association". My position is hardly that of a Bible-thumper.

I (and Coda as well, I think) assert a moral position X (e.g. late-term abortions are wrong). The religious right also happens to assert moral position X, but it includes positions Y, Z, and W, which you vehemently oppose -- and which I may also oppose, as it turns out. The religious right insists on lumping these positions together, and since you have an understandable emotional stake in viewing these people as personal enemies, you allow their ideological worldview to define your own. Yin to their yang. You deny the validity of moral position X, because your enemies hold it. You have selected from their prix fixe menu, and swallowed what they have to offer whole. I am suggesting that as a truly reasonable, compassionate human being, one should be able to choose one's morality a la carte, based on more basic, fundamental principles of right and wrong.

You have witnessed my own struggle with this sort of dilemma, where I have had to deconstruct my own position down into fundamentals. The left does its own lumping of moral positions. Being a reasoning person, I might be able to accept moral position A which the left also supports (e.g. torture is wrong), but had difficulty doing so because I adamantly oppose or cynically distrust moral positions B, C, D, E, that the left also support.

In my humble opinion, both your situation and mine are cases where one must overcome one's tribalism in order to become a truly reasoning person of conscience.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:40 pm

I was an asshat. I have leapt at a hot button, I see, so I apologize to both Coda and Monocheres.

Sorry, guys.

You were being more than reasonable, and I was being an asshat. I apologize.

Yours are the first words I have ever seen on this topic that could ever bring the notion of an abhorrence for abortion together with a stand that a woman should retain a right to the option. It was difficult to see your point, after endless years of seeing nothing but uncompromising fanaticism.

Even here, in Olympia, protesters block the local Planned Parenthood, and terrorize the innocent. Thus I am a bit tender on the topic, and thus my jump to conclusions. Again, sorry.

So, I am taken aback. You have formed compromise. Interesting. Fascinating, actually.

As things stand, abortion already is a compromise, with most regulations permitting it only within a defined window, and outlawing late term abortions -for the most part. Obviously, there are some exceptions, in some states, and thus the recent murder of a doctor who performed just such a procedure.

Whatever our argument, I do consider his murder wrong, no matter what. On that, I don't think I have anything but a single-value view, myself.

Let us take it as red, then, that abortion per se should not be outlawed, so the discussion then must be about what the boundaries are, and why they are chosen and made.

I am gravely disturbed any time that arbitrary faith is ever used to define policy, law, or access.

The reason I am so bothered is that there are many faiths, all have points of disagreement and conflict over fundamental issues, and all have need that their particular view should be taken by everyone else. Thus by nature they are at a kind of war with each other, with anyone who is not themselves. To please one faith is to trouble and bother everyone other.

But reason, secular reason, science, is something that, if used correctly, acts as a rulebook, one derived from the observation of Nature, and which is therefore optimally reproducible by anyone, being made of the Real, and not the arbitrary, it is a yardstick that is the same for all. Reality plays no favorites, it just is, it is neutral, and is equal to all faiths, and non-faiths alike.

Thus my statement that religion should never be part of any policy, and that all policy and law should purely be based on secular reason. A very primal American statement, very Thomas Paine, very Franklin, very Jefferson, yes, but also very valid, I think, and above all practical.

The problem I have with limiting abortion specifically, is that before I can agree that there should be any limit, for any reason... I need to be given a rational reason. A reason that makes sense, one not based on some mythology. I cannot accept anything less, because anything less is merely pandering to some arbitrary -made up- fantasy, which has no basis in the real world. Abortion is a very real thing, and fantasy should play no part in it.

So, give me a rational reason why any abortion - late term, for instance, even very late term, even just on a whim, should -ever- be opposed or prevented. I want to hear a rational reason, if one can be mustered.

Why not just allow that a fetus is not a person until it is born - indeed that it does not fully count as a person until at least a few months after it is born? Some societies indeed have made that law - that a baby could without penalty be put to death within the first six months, if the parents so wished. Say, for example, if it was seen to be horribly deformed, or developmentally disabled.

Now I, personally, see nothing wrong with such a view - oh, I find it distasteful to the squeemish part of me, it is emotionally, irrationally yucky kaka-poo-poo nasty, sure - but I can find nothing wrong, and a lot right, with such a view.

When I consider that a newborn knows only sensation devoid of awareness or sense of self, yet, until the brain wires itself to a point where these things are possible, I reason that a quick death then is vastly better than a life of misery and suffering -either by disability, or by lack of love from parents who have changed their minds.

My thought is always on reducing suffering in the world.

How can an option to eliminate unwanted children, and thereby eliminate both their future suffering, and the suffering of the parents, and the burden to society as a whole be considered wrong? Rationally, I mean, not in terms of mystical magic, or in terms of 'oooh, yuck!'
feelings?

Give me a reason -literally- to see your viewpoint.

I can listen now, I think, because I have seen I was being an ass before.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Coda » Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:36 am

Tychomonger wrote:I still fail to see why preventable pregnancies should not be allowed to be aborted, except if it is being used as a penalty toward the women involved in the pregnancy.


It is, in some sense, a punishment. It's saying that you can't go carelessly willy-nilly and then *oops!* have an abortion when the dice don't fall in your favor. It is intended to be regulatory enforcement towards prevention. (On the same tack I believe in free access to birth control, both free of restrictions and free of charge.) Perhaps if the thought of using continued pregnancy as a punishment is problematic there could be a second phase, wherein an abortion can be performed at the cost of some other punishment. (I find the thought of 9 months of community service poetically just.) This phase would end at a more "hard" limit, which this upcoming discussion will explore, after which abortion would be prohibited except in the most dire of medical emergencies.

Jennifer, you honor me with your reconsideration.

Your statement that you believe that the ability should extend past birth makes your earlier statements at least not a hypocrisy -- you are nothing if not unwaveringly consistent in your beliefs, with no magical event (not even birth itself) acting as a threshold. It is, obviously, a position that most people (at least in the US) will find uncomfortable, but you've acknowledged that.

As I said before, in the absence of a debate about "personhood," abortion is morally equivalent to euthanasia. Both involve a more-abled individual deciding whether a less-abled individual should live or die. Euthanasia, then, is a slippery slope towards eugenics. (I'll allow the brief Godwinning to point out that eugenics was a significant causative factor to World War II.) Eugenics would have likely resulted in YOUR personal abortion, Jennifer, should a genetic factor towards transgender ever be discovered and isolated.

I'm suddenly finding my ADHD blasting me in the face at full force. That last paragraph feels totally unsatisfying to me, and I'm not sure I can continue coherently presenting my argument in this state. I apologize for leaving off so awkwardly but I think I should bow out for now and come back later.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Wic » Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:42 am

Finland doesn't have free abortion.

You can have an abortion if it would risk the woman's health, it would be a notable social strain, if she has been raped, under 17 or over 40, the baby has a chance to born invalid or retarded or if the mother has prolonged illness or mental problems to take care of the child.

In practice, all women can have an abortion if the fetus is under 7 months old and nobody cares. I don't know how it works, but most likely you get a paper where you cross a box that says keeping the baby would be a great social stress. Doctor then signs and it's good enough for The System.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Tychomonger » Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:53 am

Coda wrote:It is, in some sense, a punishment. It's saying that you can't go carelessly willy-nilly and then *oops!* have an abortion when the dice don't fall in your favor. It is intended to be regulatory enforcement towards prevention. (On the same tack I believe in free access to birth control, both free of restrictions and free of charge.) Perhaps if the thought of using continued pregnancy as a punishment is problematic there could be a second phase, wherein an abortion can be performed at the cost of some other punishment. (I find the thought of 9 months of community service poetically just.) This phase would end at a more "hard" limit, which this upcoming discussion will explore, after which abortion would be prohibited except in the most dire of medical emergencies.

The problem with this philosophy is that it places the blame and responsibility for the pregnancy solely on the mother. There is simply no consistent way to determine who is "at fault" for the pregnancy, or even who the other involved party is.

You cannot penalize pregnancy without discriminating against women.
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Coda » Sun Jun 14, 2009 10:15 am

I understand all of that, Tychomonger, which is why I've been emphasizing due diligence so strongly. It's why I've left in a window during which time the woman can, without fear of punishment, get an abortion. I DO NOT want to punish women who are TRYING to be responsible, and thus I have included provisions for forgiving a woman who HAS been responsible and has become pregnant anyway.

And in the absence of some binding social contract such as marriage, by the way, the woman IS completely responsible. The woman gets to choose who to sleep with and what birth control measures she wants to use. Any scenario where this choice is denied is rape -- a scenario I've accounted for. If women are clamoring for this special right to have abortions -- a right men cannot have, and in many jurisdictions even a legally married husband has no say in -- then it should be understood that the right to sexual freedom has to come with a level of responsibility.

@Wic: The loophole is "considerable social strain." A baby is a social strain, even a planned one. All you have to do is whine "I can't afford a baby" or "I don't have time for a baby" or even "I'm not prepared to be a parent" and that can be considered "social strain."
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Re: The Domestic Terrorists have won.

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:14 pm

Coda wrote:And in the absence of some binding social contract such as marriage, by the way, the woman IS completely responsible. The woman gets to choose who to sleep with and what birth control measures she wants to use.


And in this one sentence, you have defined misogyny.
More, you have used religion instead of reason to make your point.

And, frankly, I am a little pissed. At the misogyny, not so much the religion.

Coda wrote:by the way, the woman IS completely responsible.


The woman is completely responsible - to blame, is it? Not the guy who couldn't keep his penis in his pants, no, not him. He is just 'sowing wild oats', right? That's moral, right? No? But still, no punishment for him, huh?

Because it's the woman's fault. She tempted the man. Because a man would never want to fuck a woman without protection unless she was begging for it. A man would never pressure a woman to give in. A man would never apply drugs so that her ability to reason was impaired. And birth control never, ever just fails, does it?

So you would punish a woman for having sex out of marriage? PUNISH her? With hard labor? With enforced pregnancy? With mandatory community service? What even makes this make any sense at all?

Not everyone agrees that marriage and sex have anything to do with each other, or that sex should not be a completely free recreational activity without strings. Important point.

Coda wrote:by the way, the woman IS completely responsible.


But men shouldn't be punished, of course. Of course not. It is purely the woman's "responsibility". Because all women are 'Eve', corrupted by Satan, by the snake, and they tempt men, right?

Because that is where that attitude comes from.

That is a religious stance, based purely on the bronze-age fantasy in the bible. Magic and pixie dust. Toxic, horseshit fantasy as a basis for rules and punishments.

How about this, Coda....

How about we let the woman off free, scott free, but we track down any men she has slept with, and we put them in prison for a year for 'corrupting the purity of women'? How about that? Too severe? Ok, how about community service for them, then?

Oh, can't prove the wrongdoing? I mean a woman looks pregnant, you can't hide that. She is EASY to accuse and punish. But how do you tell which man truly is the father? Even genetic tests can't precisely tell. So, they get off because their guilt can't be proven?

But the whole issue of 'guilt' is out of that damn bible. It has no basis in reason.

So let's toss the whole 'guilt' issue away. Toss the blame away. Toss the patriarchal supremacy away.

So what do we have?

A blameless, guiltless woman who happens to be pregnant, and doesn't want to have a baby, cannot raise that baby, and the baby would be a burden to society in any case.

Don't argue for adoption. If the kid isn't white enough and young enough, it generally won't get adopted - Look it up. Poor kids. All hundreds of thousands of them. They almost never have a family. Orphanage life sucks. No. Not an answer.

What now, then?

Only one option. Abortion, huh? Amazing, isn't it?

Free, easy, available without punishment or guilt, abortion.

Because not everyone wants to submit to religious patriarchy and misogyny.

Because not everyone agrees that blame exists at all. Because not everyone thinks getting pregnant is anything other than a troublesome accident that should be easily corrected.

Because some people think 'being responsible' MEANS going and getting that abortion. Because it IS the responsible thing to do.

I asked for reason. This was religion. Utterly.

But far worse, it was patriarchal misogyny. Hating women, blaming women for everything, punishing women alone.

Coda wrote:by the way, the woman IS completely responsible.


NO.

Please try again.
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