Forty Million

Thirty years ago on this day, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the writers of the U.S. Constitution intended for citizens to have a right to terminate a baby inside the womb. The justices opted for the clinical-sounding term advanced by abortion advocates, “fetus,” which is Latin for “baby,” and in two court decisions they effectively eliminated the right of elected state legislatures to prohibit the practice. The plaintiff in the more famous of these cases, the “Roe” in Roe v. Wade, has since denounced the practice of abortion, and embraced Christ. Abortion clinic workers are fond of wearing buttons that say, “trust women.” I assume this does not extend to Norma McCovey.

In the intervening thirty years, roughly forty million abortions have been performed in the United States. This number should give pause to even the staunchest abortion-rights advocate. He should also pause in the face of two additional facts: 1) mothers who see their babies on ultrasounds are less likely to abort than those who do not have ultrasounds; and, 2) abortionists refuse to ask their clients to have ultrasounds. (Note: The pronoun gender in the previous sentence is grammatically and descriptively correct; young single men are the demographic group most thoroughly in favor of abortion.)

If abortion advocates are wrong, they are complicit in the murder of 40 million children. If abortion opponents are wrong, they are complicit in the rescue of 40 million children who by some metric were better off dead, or whose claims to life were outweighed by the desires of their mothers to be free from caring for them. An error by the latter group imposes stark inconvenience and some health risk, both of which can be mitigated; an error by the former imposes mind-boggling infanticide.

Americans rightly have presumptions and measures to protect life in instances of uncertainty. A man must be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before being sentenced to death for murder. We require independently verified written consent before honoring someone’s “do not resuscitate” request. We require assessment and proof from family and psychologists before committing someone to an asylum.

In the area of abortion, however, we are willing to make a presumption that the advocates are correct, despite the implications of being wrong, despite the growing evidence that babies from the earliest weeks are sentient beings, despite the reality that women with complete information and other options overwhelmingly choose not to abort.

We do this for the sake of convenience, and because too many of us are cowed by the screeches of self-anointed advocates of women’s health and rights — people who know little about the full meaning of womanhood, who obfuscate the evidence that abortion is harmful to the mental and physical health of the women they claim to represent, and who cannot state a case for this manufactured right that extends beyond their narrow view of female happiness and entitlement.

If community has any meaning, then every one of us who has ever sanctioned this act is guilty of bloodshed. Every one of us who calls himself a Christian, but who has failed to speak out against this evil, and to offer comfort and support to women who feel driven to such an act, every one of us is guilty too. Perhaps ours is a greater affront to God, because we carry the responsibility to bring truth and light into a darkened world. By turning our backs on mothers in need, we fail at both.

Forty million, and counting.

Comments

  1. Deoxy

    This in particular sums things up particularly well:

    “An error by the latter group imposes stark inconvenience and some health risk, both of which can be mitigated; an error by the former imposes mind-boggling infanticide.”

    As to the first paragraph, I recently commented somewhere else about that – Congress has “enumerated powers”, but the Supreme Court seems to be abel to do what it wants, especially in areas outside the realm of the “enumerated powers”. The SCOTUS can rule on something (effectively making a law), and the states are all over-ruled, but the Congress can’t do anything about it because it’s outside the enumerated powers. Nice, huh?

  2. sjd

    God bless you for you forthright and articulate statements, both today (1/22) and Friday the 17th. Pray for change .. Christ have mercy .. Lord, hear our prayer.

  3. Chris Crofoot

    I first linked to you because I found your writing on your children incredibly funny. Now it’s because of your articulation concerning abortion. We’re fast approaching the day when abortion will become outlawed again. Science is getting us there, both by providing RU-486 type drugs and by allowing a child to survive earlier and earlier premature birth. Someday, future generations will look back on this era and think us butchers. Just as we can look back on Civil War era medicine as little more than butchery.

    If a single celled organism was found on Mars, the newspapers would lead with the headline “Life found on Mars”…. perhaps one day they will also understand that a single cell in a womans womb is also a life.

  4. FDL

    “Thirty years ago on this day, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the writers of the U.S. Constitution intended for citizens to have a right to terminate a baby inside the womb”

    Well, no. Roe v. Wade turned on the privacy right first articulated in Griswold. And reference to original intent is a cheap shot. There are lots of different tools of constitutional interpretation, and original intent is only one of them. And before we enshrine original intent as the best tool or even the only legitimate tool (e.g. Robert Bork), let’s all remember that the constitution also provided for slavery. 3/5ths compromise anyone?

    The bill of rights, including the 10th amendment, is a series of ANTI-majoritarian provisions. They articulate a series of limitations on the exercise of majority power by states against their own citizens. But one question which the court has been grappling with for 200+ years now is the court’s own proper role in determining what laws are so offensive to the bill of rights that the court is willing to set them aside. Words like “due process” are not subject to obvious interpretation, nor is the 10th amendment.

    So, as we celebrate/mourn the RvW decision, my first question for the author of this blog and the commenters is the following: where do YOU draw the line? what are the appropriate limits on the exercise of state power? Is there any conduct that a state cannot prohibit?

    Question 2: RvW was an exercise in line-drawing. Nobody reasonably disputes that an abortion causing the death of an 8 1/2 month fetus may well be murder. But many people, myself included as well as 7 justices at the time, do not believe that a single-cell fertilized egg is human life worthy of the full protections of criminal law. So, question 2 is: when does life begin? and if life does not begin at fertilization, what’s wrong with RvW?

    Q3: for those who believe that life begins at fertilization, do you accept all the consequences of that belief? As I see it, all stem cell research from cell lines developed from fertilized eggs must be banned. All “day-after” birth control must be banned. All reproductive assistance (in vitro fertilization) must be banned. Abortion even in the case of rape and incest must be banned. And the states will have the power once again to ban contraceptives. If you disagree with any of these consequences, how do you resolve the hypocrisy of protecting pre-natal life in some circumstances, but murdering it in others? Many pro-lifers grant an exception for rape, but why? Why should the 9-month inconvenience of carrying a rape baby to term outweigh that baby’s right to life? Explanations please.

    Q4: Continuing from the previous thread, what consequences do you see of a reversal of RvW? I believe that the demand for abortion will not go away, especially since women will have 30 years of remembering when they had control over their reproductive decisions. Some states likely will respond by allowing abortions (like California); others likely will prohibit abortions in any circumstances or with the rape/incest exception. (Aside, there could be an interesting equal protection challenge on the part of a rape fetus to a no-abortion law with a rape/fetus exception. those laws may not survive judicial challenge.) Let’s say Alabama adopts a no-abortion law. Rich women will travel for their abortions. Poor ones won’t. (Although I still have a weird image of a freedom riders bus carrying young pregnant women from Alabama to California.) But certainly one long-term impact will be the availability of more Alabama babies for adoption. Another long-term impact will be a tremendous demand on social services, as some of the poor young women decide to keep their babies. The natural consequence of an increase in those demands will be a dramatic increase in the demand for foster care. Not all these mothers who keep their babies for a few years will be able to raise them to adulthood.
    Cute newborns get adopted pretty quickly. Those with defects, i suspect, have more trouble. Foster kids can be very difficult to place, and even more difficult to get adopted.
    So, Alabama has a bunch of unwanted kids sloshing around the juvenile justice system, and California keeps its killing machine going. I assume this is an acceptable result?
    But here’s a harder question: can Alabama pass a law to put young women in preventive detention who have expressed a desire to go to California? Will you put them in restraints to prevent them from harming themselves? Just curious.

    Q5: A reversal of RvW would likely destroy the republican party across the country the way that the civil rights movement ruined the democratic party in the south. Most pro-lifers vote republican because they see pro-choice being a litmus test for participation in the democratic party. Probably true. But once RvW falls, the pro-life faithful in the republican party would insist on all the pro-life policies that have been suppressed over the last 30 years to come to the front. The fiscally conservative but socially moderate republicans, especially the new group of suburban women, likely will flee the party. Indeed, a reversal of RvW could so radicalize women voters and the democratic party that very few states would pass pro-life laws. But I assume that this is a state-by-state debate that pro-life forces want to have?

    Spare me the holocaust analogies. Every government in the world has a tremendous amount of blood on its hands, and analogies about genocide really don’t work when you are balancing the interest of a single cell against that of a woman. Let’s focus on the issues at hand, and I’ll welcome reasoned debate on any of the questions I posted above or any other topic on point.

    Flame away.

  5. Deoxy

    FDL

    I think that the entire abortion debate boils down to the issue of when life starts.

    If life has not started, so what? It’s tissue.

    If life has started, it’s murder, with all the implications that go along.

    That is, if it IS life, the only justification would be the same justifications used when you purposefully kill someone. Self-defense claims from the mother (my life is at stake) would pretty much be the only applicable option, as it’s difficult for an embryo of fetus (or even baby) to really do much.

    A significant portion of your accusations/questions dissappear when the issue is whether it is murder or not.

    Personally, I would lean towards saying that life begins at implantation – there are estimates that naturally many, many embryos don’t ever manage to implant. I’m not sure that’s the best answer, but it’s a start.

    Specifics:

    “Nobody reasonably disputes that an abortion causing the death of an 8 1/2 month fetus may well be murder.”
    Yes, they do – or at least, they claim to be reasonable. Planned Parenthood, among others, unswrvingly declares partial-birth abortion to be a woman’s indisputable right.

    Q3: I would be willing to accept all the consequences of that belief, but the “consequences” you list are certainly not all logical consequences! In fact, the “ban contraceptives” bit in particular is just plain dishonest. If life begins AT CONCEPTION, then of course, life does not also begin BEFORE conception, so sperm and ova would spefically be EXCLUDED. Such statements on your part weaken your arguments (and especially your credibilty) seriously.

    As to “day-after” stuff, that is admittedly a hard call – if life begins at fertilization, it goes. If it begins at implantation, it might stay. There will certainly be hard decisions to make.

    “in vitro” fertilization would not have to be banned, even if life begins at fertilization – it would become more expensive. Embryos would likely be created one or 2 at a time, then implanted. If the implant fails naturally… well, they fail naturally all the time. There’s no solution to that today.

    Rape and incest – these pull people’s heart-strings like almost no other issue. I think the “rape/incest” expcetion is generally included for this reason (emotion, not logic). It’s also political – that brings in more supporters. Under either definition of life (fert. or imp.), they would be protected. I would suggest that it be dealt with as the result of any other crime: the criminal’s punishment and/or restitution is increased according to the pain and suffering he inflicts on his victim (the mother), and the victim receives aid from the community. Imagine that someone is help captive and tortured (a bit extreme, but for the sake of argument) against their will for nine months. Respond accordingly.

    Embryonic research: there are 2 logical ways to continue research – life begins at implantation, OR (and this one works the best, I think), “clone” off some cells from an embryo that is allowed to live (this process is amazingly easy – it’s been used in cattle for years). Now those are just left-over cells from a living person – tissue, just like sloughing skin cells. I’ve advocated such a view all along.

    In short, the most difficult thing you listed is the rape/incest case, which is admittedly difficult.

    Q4: If it’s murder, then the consequences are moot – what are the consequences of allowing murder?

    On a different note, we lived without abortion (for all practical purposes) for many years, and we can do so again. It’s like asking “What would we do without computers?” (only with more moral weight). People forget that many of the conveniences we live with today were unavailable 100 years ago (or less).

    As to states laws on abortion, if it’s murder, it doesn’t much matter, does it? Murder is illegal in all states.

    Q5: True, but doing the right thing is not always easy or convenient. If this is a question of ethics and morality, that concern is irrelevant – if it’s not, then what’s wrong with abortion?

    As to the Holocaust anaolgies, 2 points:
    1. Read the comments on the previous thread, and note the strong connections between the founders of Planned Parenthood (and many of the modern beliefs about abortion) to Hitler and Nazi-ism.
    2. With or without 1, IF abortion is murder, then Holocaust analogies are more than appropriate.

    Notice that all my arguments rely on the specification of when human life begins – everything else logically follows.

    Make your decision about when life begins, and act accordingly.

  6. Tony

    FDL writes:

    “Well, no. Roe v. Wade turned on the privacy right first articulated in Griswold.”

    Congratulations on retaining something from freshman political science. The fact that the Supreme Court referenced previous privacy decisions does not negate the fact that they referenced them only with ultimate reference to the Constitution’s meaning.

    If you are familiar with Bork, then you should be familiar with the rebuttal to your attack on original intent, namely, if not the Constitution (and in your case, not a democratically elected legislature), then what? What will govern us? Nine unelected judges?

    I’ll take those of your questions which are interesting in order:

    Q: Where do you draw the line?
    A: Somewhere short of murder.

    Q: What about stem cell research/differential access/the demise of the republican party/a likely increase in child neglect/etc.?
    A: We can begin addressing these problems once we’ve ended the murder.

    Finally, my favorite part of your post, which gets to the heart of the matter:

    “Spare me the holocaust analogies. Every government in the world has a tremendous amount of blood on its hands, and analogies about genocide really don’t work when you are balancing the interest of a single cell against that of a woman. Let’s focus on the issues at hand, and I’ll welcome reasoned debate on any of the questions I posted above or any other topic on point.”

    Let’s dismantle this sentence by sentence.

    “Spare me the holocaust analogies. Every government in the world has a tremendous amount of blood on its hands…”

    In short, our bloodshed is okay, because others kill as well.

    “analogies about genocide really don’t work when you are balancing the interest of a single cell against that of a woman…”

    Single cells are not aborted. Clumps of tissue are not aborted. Are you familiar with what an unborn child looks like at even 10 weeks, which is when abortion begins to become a viable option?

    “Let’s focus on the issues at hand, and I’ll welcome reasoned debate on any of the questions I posted above or any other topic on point.”

    So far you have done your best not to focus on the issue at hand, which is whether this amounts to murder. Instead you have offered consquentialist arguments about why it is necessary, and condescending diversions about the nature of Supreme Court decision-making and the Bill of Rights. I can understand how, given your worldview, these questions interest you. I am asking you to understand that they cannot interest someone who believes that abortion is the murdering of unborn children.

  7. Palmer Haas

    Having been in favor of abortion rights, and now against them, I know the arguments, and they are tiresome. How can we conclude that a mass of blastocysts is human. How can we pretend that the fetus, which has arms and legs and fingers by the time it is large enough to extract, isn’t human. How can we assign women to back alleys. How can we sanction murder. – by Tony

    think that the entire abortion debate boils down to the issue of when life starts.

    If life has not started, so what? It’s tissue.

    If life has started, it’s murder, with all the implications that go along. – by Deoxy

    I so don’t have time for this, but Tony! You started so well and now it’s devolving into EXACTLY what you set out to avoid. I think your statement was one of the most astute observations you’ve written – pro life supporters will never see the definition of life any other way. Pro lifers will never see life as any other thing than a fetus post birth. The debate on when life begins is never going to be resolved.

    I’ll confess that considering the threshold for life and potential life is leaving the brith canal especially a fetus that is 8 1/2 months from dropping is rather arbitrary. But my opinion irrelevant, don’t you think you can agree to disagree on this one facet of abortion issue? I don’t see anyone changing on this one.

  8. misanthropyst

    I’d be more impressed with this religiously-fueled concern for the ‘sanctity of life’ if there were no children in orpahages, temporary shelters or awaiting adoption. Talk the talk, walk the walk.

  9. sid

    In Michigan, if a woman who is 2 months pregnant, gets in a fight with another person, and is inadvertantly pushed to the ground, and say, suffers a miscarriage, then, the person pushing her is charged with 2nd Degree murder. Now, if this said woman went to a clinic that performed abortions, and she was over 21, and got the fetus aborted, then, it is a normal day at the office, nobody is charged. My question to the pro-choice people is this – why is it a crime if the same act is committed outside a clinic, but perfectly acceptable if done inside an abortion clinic? The net result is the same – in both cases, the fetus, is dead. Could someone explain this contradiction to me?

  10. Deoxy

    The contradiction has to do with what you consider the fetus to be:

    A woman who wants to keep her child considers it a child – to kill it is to kill her child: murder.

    A woman who wants to get rid of unwanted tissue can have it surgically removed: a day at the office.

    Again, this boils down having an inconsistent definition of the beginning of life.

  11. Deoxy

    Mr. Haas:

    “The debate on when life begins is never going to be resolved.”
    “But my opinion irrelevant, don’t you think you can agree to disagree on this one facet of abortion issue?”

    No, we can’t, and the reasons are entirely logical:

    Murder is wrong and should be illegal. Everyone agrees on this.

    Some people believe (with a great deal of evidence) that life beings in the womb, therefore, to kill it is murder. Murder, as established, is wrong.

    Other people believe terminating the pregnancy is OK, because life has not yet begun. (I have seen little evidence of this – if it exists I would really, really like to see it! I’m completely serious in that request.)

    The impass is that, for those who believe it is murder, the other side says “let’s just agree to disagree and leave it legal.”

    If you believe it to be murder, you are being asked to not complain that others are committing murder.

    Logically, we can easily flip that situation:

    “Let’s just agree to disagree and make it illegal, just in case.”

    Would you agree to THAT?

    “Agreeing to disagree” and leaving it legal is to agreeto murder (for those who believe it to be murder).

    Personally, I wish the debate would focus on the real issue – when life begins. As I have said, all other decisions logically follow.

  12. Deoxy

    misanthropyst:

    Right. It would be better if they were just dead, huh? Well, since we didn’t catch them in the womb, what’s wrong with killing them off now?

    The point here is the definition of life is important – without one, no life is sacred. Not yours, not mine. None.

    And if the definition of life allows some early term abortions, so be it. If not, also, so be it.

    Admittedly, what happens to those children is sad, and more Christians should be involved. That is a strong indictment of American Christianity.

  13. Patrick R. Sullivan

    Actually, while I am opposed to abortion, the holocaust analogy is inapt, since Roe did not result in government run death camps. It resulted in private citizens being allowed to murder other private citizens. Though the latest feminist enthusiasm is to pass laws to force unwilling doctors to perform abortions. So maybe one day we will have a valid holocaust analogy.

    The better analogy is slavery. In which private citizens could own and control others. Assault, rape, even kill them with no legal consequences (interestingly, it was against the law to educate slaves).

    What is wrong with Roe is that it overturned the laws of 50 state legislatures. Even the laws that, as in Washington state, had already been changed to allow abortion! And there is absolutely no constitutional justification for doing so.

  14. Palmer Haas

    -to Deoxy

    You’re missing my point completely. I am saying that the belief that life beings at birth vs. conception is a facet of the issue that no matter how much you write about it, no matter both sides yell till they’re blue in the face NEITHER SIDE WILL EVER CHANGE THEIR POSITION! (or it’s highly highly unlikely anyway).

    Really Deoxy if you want to continue on this thread I am unable and unwilling to stop you. If continuing down that road means you feel you’re getting closer to your destination then by all means do so. I am not asking you to change your mind on the legality of abortion. I just think that going thru this debate from that angle is slightly more productive than squeezing blood from a stone.

    There were an awful lot of good, fair and legitimate questions brought up on both sides, be it Sid’s post about “if a woman who is 2 months pregnant gets in a fight…suffers a miscarriage…charged with 2nd Degree murder” contradiction or FDL’s questions including the rape exception among others. I just don’t see anyone backing off the “when life begins” position here no matter how much cyberspace is taken up in this debate.

  15. Davey

    FDL says “Roe v. Wade turned on the privacy right first articulated in Griswold.” That is true, and it was bad law. Even on the CNN website (1/22) we have the following quote:

    ***That “qualified right” found its form in the controversial ‘trimester analysis” laid out by the justices in Roe: no government regulation during the first three months; limited regulation in the second trimester to protect women’s health and safety; and giving government the power to ban abortions during the third trimester– where medical consensus has concluded the fetus is capable of living on its own.

    That reasoning has outraged abortion opponents, and even puzzled many legal scholars.

    “The better argument for the result reached in Roe v. Wade is that it’s necessary for the equality of women, rather than grounding it in the privacy right,” says Edward Lazarus, a former law clerk for Blackmun and the author of “Closed Chambers: The Rise, Fall, and Future of the Modern Supreme Court.”***

    And that’s exactly the point. Privacy has always been at the very least a bizzare interpretation and at the worst and the most likely nothing more than judicial law-making. Which the founders tried hard to prevent. This isn’t about privacy at all, but perceived “equality for women”.

    From there you say “let’s all remember that the constitution also provided for slavery. 3/5ths compromise anyone?” Here you almost make the case for me. The constitution didn’t provide for slavery. An overreaching interpretation (by the Democratic party, by the way) tried to make something that should never have been allowed in a free country fit by writing loopholes and ridiculous laws to placate a few plantation owners. If anything – this should illustrate the danger of judges who insist on creating law – not interpreting. Remember too and most importantly – we fought a massive war in which thousands died to end all of that. Now millions die – but they can’t fight back.

    Q2: You say, “Nobody reasonably disputes that an abortion causing the death of an 8 1/2 month fetus may well be murder” Really? Partial-birth abortions are on the rise. They are legal. The last numbers I saw showed that they were up 3x. Check out the detail of the procedure that, last time I checked, feminists were still defending to the core:

    http://grassfire.net/43/testimony.asp

    I’m not sure how you can be as pro-choice as you claim and miss the current rhetoric from feminists claiming that to ban partial-birth abortions puts us on a “slippery slope”…

    Q3: Deoxy answered quite well. I’m not sure you are asking a serious question…but, since I do believe life begins at conception – I don’t support the current rape/incest exceptions. I’ve heard too many stories from mothers who decided to keep their children resulting from rape who are extremely happy that they did. Check out the previous post – someone there was sorry that she didn’t. And I’m sorry for her. Mostly, I think this question is so you can quiver about perceived “hypocricy” while ignoring the hypocricy on the pro-“choice” side.

    Q4: Consequences? You mean before, when abortions (sorry “procedures”) were really rare. The whole defiant “back-alley” bit doesn’t really work when you compare the numbers to what was happening then to now. Besides you are focusing on the whole “states-rights” issue. I can’t argue that because I think murder is wrong irregardless of the state you live in.

    Q5: I think that’s silly, but let’s just say the Republican party was destroyed. Does that mean that people like John McCain will quit calling themselves Republicans? Sounds like a plan! It was interesting to hear you say “the way that the civil rights movement ruined the democratic party in the south”. By ruined – do you mean the way that party fought against, then hijacked the civil rights platform? And then lied to make it seem they were there fightin’ for civil rights all along? That’s a whole ‘nother story!

    You say “Spare me the holocaust analogies.” Howcome? Me thinks it’s because bringing up uncomfortable facts about Sangler and the founding of Planned Parenthood are irrefutable. Well…unless you’re gonna use lies.

    You asked several questions. Please answer only one for me. Tony pointed it out first. Why would a facility that claims to be pro-choice not provide an ultrasound viewing for women unsure of the decision before them? I mean, if you are really pro-choice – then what’s the problem? In fact, I would like anyone to please answer just this one question for me.

    Finally, Mr. Sullivan says, “Roe did not result in government run death camps”. But the government does FUND abortions. You can read all the stories you want about government funding. Would there be any difference if Germany only contracted a few death camps out to say, Switzerland, rather than run said camps themselves?

  16. Deoxy

    Mr. Haas:

    I am not missing your point; I am saying that it is dead wrong.

    The issue of when life starts is not a “facet” of the debate – it IS the debate. Everything else logically follows.

    Two architects want to build a house. They disagree about whether to build it on sand or stone. (I didn’t say which was which.) They agree to disagree and decide to debate what color they want the walls to be.

    Whichever one of us is the which, you can see that the house never gets built. Arguments build on agree facts or assumptions, and the basic foundation of this argument is whether there is a person dying or a lump of tissue begin removed. As long as there is disagreement there, agreement elsewhere is highly unlikely at best.

    I do agree that both sides of the answer to questions can be given here, which is useful.

    But I also disagree that niether side will ever change – perhaps not here (which is probably what you meant), but eventually, there will be sufficient evidence that is impossible to ignore that the child is it’s own life.

    I half expect we’ll have artificial wombs before that, anyway, so by then it may not matter.

  17. FDL

    Tony, I remain interested in discovering your view of when life begins. It appears that you believe that life begins at fertilization. That’s fine; many people agree with you. I expect that you are willing to live with the public health consequences of your viewpoint. But you and I will never agree and the groups we support will always be fighting, either in the courthouses or in the statehouses, because you cannot tolerate the murders and i cannot tolerate the public health crisis or the right of the government to interfere in what i believe is a personal decision only.

    I have met many people who say that they believe that life begins at conception, but retreat from that position when the consequences of that belief are explained to them. The purpose of my post was to state what I believed the consequences were of the belief you hold.

    Actually, I’m much more interested in the consequences side of the debate — there’s very little useful debate that can be had about the beginning of life. The only point I have on that score is that it is likely that in a few years we will be able to take an adult cell, create a cell line from it, and create a multi-cellular organism from that cell line which, if implanted in a viable uterus, will end up nine months later as a healthy baby. Where does that life begin?

    Personally, since I don’t know when life begins, and since I don’t believe that I have an immortal soul at stake, I’m more interested in the public health consequences of banning abortion.

    A couple of minor points — Deoxy, if RvW is overruled, then Griswold must fall as well. If the constitution does not protect a privacy right, then states may regulate conception, except, perhaps, those states with a privacy right in their constitution. I did say in my post that states would have the power; I didn’t say that each state would necessarily exercise that power.

    Davey, — overturning RvW would create a huge state’s rights issue. While every state bans murder, each state writes its own murder statute. In order to create a uniform abortion ban across the country, the Supreme Court would need to make an affirmative finding that life begins at conception, so that all state murder laws would necessarily apply. I think its extraordinarily unlikely that the Supreme Court would take such a step.

    also — the US constitution explicitly provides for slavery. Art. I, section II states that electors shall be apportioned in according to the states’ populations by adding to the whole number of free persons “three fifths of all other Persons”.

    I certainly did not mean to be condescending, and I apologize to those who misunderstood my intent.

    And yes, i have seen the pictures of aborted fetuses. I have also seen pictures of women who died trying to obtain an illegal abortion. And I have heard from my wife (a criminal defense attorney) the horrifying stories of brutality that men inflict on women who became pregnant when the man didn’t want it. I get no pleasure out of any of it.

  18. Davey

    FDL: Ooops. You are indeed correct about the 3/5 thing. My bad. I see that it was removed though in 1868 by Amendment XIV. I certainly don’t mind admitting when I am wrong.

    Your post really illustrates the heart of this issue. One world-view vs. another as you said you don’t belive you have a “immortal soul at stake”. No arguments are going to change minds that are already made up.

    They only thing that will ever change any minds and hearts can be found here:

    http://www.crossroad.to/text/beliefs.html

    Thanks for your reasoned response and pointing out my mistake.

  19. Deoxy

    FDL:

    Griswald does not have to fall – even the right to privacy does not have to fall. In fact, if you come right down to it, RvW doesn’t even have to be overturned. The procedure of ending a pregnancy is indeed a private right…

    Just as long as you don’t kill anyone in the process.

    If it is phrased in terms of when life begins (the only thing that makes any sense), there is absolutely no impact to the “right to privacy” (even though I think that is complete bunk, too – all the benefits without the mess could be achieved with adequate property laws. And yeah, I think THAT is actually IN the Constitution…).

    Freaking out about contraceptives is a red herring (a type of logical fallicy).

    As to who determines when life starts… THAT would fall to Congress, right? I mean, it could, in terms of “enumerated powers”, right? So the Supreme Court wouldn’t even have to be involved.

    As far as I’m concerned, RvW can stand.

  20. Deoxy

    One more thing:

    “And yes, i have seen the pictures of aborted fetuses.”

    “I have also seen pictures of women who died trying to obtain an illegal abortion. And I have heard from my wife (a criminal defense attorney) the horrifying stories of brutality that men inflict on women who became pregnant when the man didn’t want it.”

    The difference is that the first is legal, and over 1 million abortions occur a year.

    The second is illegal (and was before and still be even if abortion becomes illegal) and happens MUCH more rarely than a million times a year (especially that first one).

    This is another red herring; if life begins sometime before abortion, then abortion is murder – are you are willing to allow 1 million murders a year to prevent an *exceedingly* few deaths from botched “back street” abortions (already illegal) and some number of domestic abuse cases (also illegal and at least significantly often prosecuted)?

    That is a horrendous trade off – IF abortion is murder. If it’s not, those points are moot.

    Again, it boils down to when life begins. Emotional pleas (from either side, admittedly) don’t really help. On the basis of emotion, you’re right, both sides will fight forever. Sadly, that’s what I expect – I’d just like the killing to stop.

    We’ve got state’s with moratoriums on the death penalty on the basis that a very few innocent people might be executed…. could not the same principle be applied? A moratorium on the basis that many, many innocent people might be executed?

    The only difference is which word is in question – “innocent” or “people”.

  21. Davey

    One more small bit…

    Discussing the topic of consequences. There are also consequences to making abortion legal as we have legally devalued certain life:

    Euthanasia, embryo research, human cloning, assisted suicide, infanticide…

    Abortion was truly a slippery slope to make way for all these other issues. It’s difficult to believe that these would currently be “problematic” issues if we had never as a nation messed around with the sanctity of life. We care more about the life potential in sea turtle eggs than we do about a woman?s fertilized ones.

    This issue had been around forever, not just since 1973:

    “There are women who, by use of medicinal potions, destroy the unborn life in their wombs, and murder the child before they bring it forth. These practices undoubtedly are derived from a custom established by your gods; Saturn. Though he did not expose his sons, certainly devoured them.” – Minucius Felix, theologian [c. 200-225] Octavius

  22. chris crofoot

    Well everybody keeps beating around the bush about the LIFE issue. Whether either side likes it or not, science defines a single celled organism as a biological entity…a life. It cannot think or write literature, but it is Life. So too, is the fertilized egg in a womans womb.

    That both sides will never change their mind is moot. Once the definition is down as someone else said all else will follow. Abortion WILL become illegal, that is just a matter of time.

  23. FDL

    I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. But anyway,

    Question: how many of the pro-life community are MEN? of those, how many have adopted unwanted kids?

    Until every pro-life guy has a house full of adopted kids, he has NO credibility on this issue. No pro-lifer is asking a guy to spend 9 months keeping a “life” alive, only women. Since your pro-life guy can’t make the same pre-birth commitment, at least he can make a post-birth commitment.

    But to return to an earlier theme, most pro-life advocates appear more worried about the quantity of human lives, not the quality. So they excuse themselves of taking care of the unwanted. The post-birth issue, apparently, is someone else’s responsibility.

    Second question: let’s look at (my understanding of) certain ivf procedures. Woman takes drugs to increase ovulation and has multiple eggs harvested; man masturbates in a test tube. (I think that’s right.) Usually, multiple fertilized eggs are implanted, increasing the likelihood of a viable fetus. but, under the pro-life views, so long as these fluids are kept separate, they can be destroyed. But only one egg can be fertilized at a time for implantation; the rest remain in some kind of religious limbo?

    Egg w/ sperm adjacent — toss it in the furnace; egg w/ sperm inside — must be implanted? Or what, guilty of unlawful imprisonment?

    I confess i’m flabbergasted at this kind of hairsplitting. It appears to me that people who hold this view simply believe abortion is wrong, refuse to engage in any kind of logical analysis or discussion about line-drawing, and end up resorting to claiming that certain combinations of DNA have a right to life.

    Since the fertilized cell of a primate is 99.9+% identical to that of a human, and certainly feels no more pain than a human cell when it’s destroyed, I fail to understand the distinction.

    If your faith requires you to believe that abortion is evil, fine. Just admit that your belief structure requires you to draw certain very fine distinctions. But trying to make a non-religious argument about the inherent value of a certain combination of chemicals really is silly.

    A parting point to Tony: lots of people abort fetuses long before they start to have human shape. Morning after pills and RU-486 allow women to end/prevent pregnancies after unprotected sex.

    Davey: The US congress likely would not have the power to invalidate abortion. Glenn Reynolds aka instapundit at his new website (glennreynolds.com?) discusses the lack of federal constitutional authority to regulate abortion. The current supreme court has been very willing to narrow the scope of the commerce clause and restore power to the states. California, notably, has a constitutional provision protecting the right of privacy.

    And a final parting shot to the parents (it’s been entertaining, but i’m moving on): If your 18-year old daughter confesses to the deliberate and brutal murder of her boyfriend, do you call the cops? And when your state illegalizes abortions and she has one anyway, what do you do? How many of you are ready, REALLY ready, to incarcerate young women for long prison terms for abortions?

    No matter how many times men like Tony call abortion “murder”, no matter how many pictures of post-op fetuses are smeared on billboards, I cannot live in a state which will incarcerate foolish poor women (the smart ones don’t get pregnant; the rich will travel) for doing something that women have done for millenia. Can you?

    I’m tired of hearing from men. Let’s hear from women. How many times have you had unprotected sex by mistake? How many times were you thrilled when your period came? How many foolish poor women are you willing to put in PRISON to uphold what is fundamentally your religious beliefs?

    If you’re “pro-life” but not willing to imprison the guilty, then you’re really the worst kind of hypocrite — one willing to stand by and condemn, but unwilling to bring down the power of the state to punish those you believe merit punishment.

    And that is my parting shot — the vast majority of the pro-life movement is a bunch of hypocrites; the remainder are just cruel. If that fertilized cell is “life”, then stem cell research, most ivf procedures and morning after pills are abolished, no exceptions exist for rape or incest, and those who get abortions should go to jail. If you can make those hard choices, I’m impressed, but I really don’t want to have you casting votes anywhere near me. If you can’t (as most can’t), then shut the fuck up — don’t try to impose rules that you yourself are not willing to live by.

  24. Davey

    Earlier I said to FDL – Mostly, I think this question is so you can quiver about perceived “hypocrisy” while ignoring the hypocrisy on the pro-“choice” side.

    It’s funny when what you say expresses itself.

    Earlier FDL said “I certainly did not mean to be condescending, and I apologize to those who misunderstood my intent.”

    Now we are to “shut the f*** up”. Either someone was drinking a lot of liquor at 1:51 am or we are seeing the true “heart” of hatred that FDL has for those who hold opposing views. I’m guessing the latter. So much for the dogma of tolerance.

    “If your 18-year old daughter confesses to the deliberate and brutal murder of her boyfriend, do you call the cops?” Are you serious???

    In my world crimes have consequences. You murder – you are punished – irregardless. I murder – I pay. For someone who seems to care so much about law – I think your comment tells everyone where you really stand. A murky world of variable values and changeable ethics…a world made up of innumerable shades of gray. That makes me sad.

  25. Deoxy

    Thank you for at least admitting the level of those comments: “parting shots”.

    Also, thank you for completely ignoring all of my arguments as if I did not exist – I am just another religious psycho who has to believe things because of my religion. Nice.

    And here’s a few other points of yours that are also false ON THEIR FACE:

    “refuse to engage in any kind of logical analysis”
    Let’s see, what was my ENTIRE POINT in like HALF of my posts? Oh yeah, that all the consequences logically follow from the definition of life…

    “But trying to make a non-religious argument about the inherent value of a certain combination of chemicals really is silly.”
    That’s right – and you’re just a certain combination of chemicals, too. Let’s just kill you – you’re not religious, apparently, so you have no objections, right? Remember, you’re just “a certain combination of chemicals”.

    “It appears to me that people who hold this view … refuse to engage in any kind of … discussion about line-drawing,”
    OK, maybe it’s just me, but THAT’S WHAT THE WHOLE DEBATE IS ABOUT: “line-drawing”. Where do we draw the line and say that someone is alive and deserves protection? THAT IS THE WHOLE DEBATE. Where have you been? Saying that we think the line should be drawn somewhere else IS a discussion about “line-drawing”. In fact, it seems that YOU are the one who has the problem – you don’t want to discuss “line-drawing at all – you just want eveybody to let you have it your way.

    “I confess i’m flabbergasted at this kind of hairsplitting.”
    Yeah, like the hairsplitting of partial-birth abortion: we can’t kill this baby, it would be murder, but 4 inches ago, it was just a fetus, and we can “remove” it if we’d like. Where ever we draw the line, it will be considered by some to be “hairsplitting”.

    “If your 18-year old daughter confesses to the deliberate and brutal murder of her boyfriend, do you call the cops?” Yes – otherwise, you are an ACCOMPLICE. Nice, huh? Also, brutal and deliberate? I should hope you would, too, since such a person is likely to kill again.

    “And when your state illegalizes abortions and she has one anyway, what do you do?”
    I call the police – there’s a doctor (or a fraud) that needs to be taken off the street before he kills anybody else (including the women who come to him). That’s the danger of “back-street” abortions, right? They kill women?

    “lots of people abort fetuses long before they start to have human shape. Morning after pills and RU-486 allow women to end/prevent pregnancies after unprotected sex.”
    Actually, if you define life as implantation (which I suggested), then the “morning after” pill is still fine. And RU-486 isn’t taken until the woman knows she is pregant – same as a regular abortion.

    “How many foolish poor women are you willing to put in PRISON to uphold what is fundamentally your religious beliefs?”
    Uh, as I have REPEATEDLY pointed out, my religious belief has nothing to do with it (other than to enforce my belief that murder is wrong – you believe murder is wrong, too, right?). Whether abortion is murder or not is not a religious issue, it is a logical one.

    “California, notably, has a constitutional provision protecting the right of privacy.”
    As I’ve mentioned, what does “privacy” have to do with it? IF it is murder, nothing; I can’t kill my wife in my home and claim a right to privacy. It all hinges on whether abortion is murder, which depends solely on if life has begun. No religion or privacy issues involved.
    Also, Congress may have the power to pass a law defining when life begins (not sure, not an expert) – no overturn of RvW necessary, since abortion will technically still be legal – as long as you don’t kill anybody (and someday, that might be possible – I’m hoping for artificial wombs).

    “how many of the pro-life community are MEN?”
    “I’m tired of hearing from men. Let’s hear from women.”
    How many in the pro-choice community are men? Let’s apply to the same standard, here. Actually, how many abortion doctors are men?
    And as to women, my wife is more pro-life than I am.
    Also, there HAVE been a couple of times my wife was thrilled to have her period; also, we have one child. She was not expected, intended, or convenient – in fact, she is highly INconvenient… we did not abort her. In that sense, we already DID “adopt” a baby that could have been aborted. We live with the consequences of that every day. (Also, she is proof that contraceptives are not 100%, so the “foolish, poor women” comment below is also false.)

    “I cannot live in a state which will incarcerate foolish poor women … for doing something that women have done for millenia. Can you?”
    Yes, you can (though you may not want to), and yes, I can. Or are you saying you will leave the US if/when that happens?

    “Since the fertilized cell of a primate is 99.9+% identical to that of a human, and certainly feels no more pain than a human cell when it’s destroyed, I fail to understand the distinction.”
    OK, since YOU are 99.9+% the same as a primate, shall I treat you as one?

    “If you’re “pro-life” but not willing to imprison the guilty, then you’re really the worst kind of hypocrite — one willing to stand by and condemn, but unwilling to bring down the power of the state to punish those you believe merit punishment.”
    Actually, there are many “pro-life” groups who are NOT willing to “bring down the power of the state”; they also don’t believe in “bring[ing] down the power of the state” on liars, either – they hold lying to be wrong, too, you know. If you really think it is a religious issue, then logically, you shouldn’t bring in the state. Example: I believe that having sex outside of marriage is wrong; I do not push for the state to make it illegal. THAT is a religious issue, and “forced” religion is no religion at all.

    “the vast majority of the pro-life movement is a bunch of hypocrites; the remainder are just cruel.”
    Of course. That’s why we care so much about a children – because we’re cruel.
    I know it’s over-used, but that doesn’t make it false: what if you mother had wanted to abort you? It’s a serious question; unless you that’s OK with you (you being aborted), YOU are a hypocrite.

    As my “parting shot”, thank you so much for your temper tantrum on display for all to see – it shows your true feelings on the matter, which it, would appear, can be summed up this way:

    If you don’t agree with me or give me my way anyway, “then shut the fuck up”.

  26. Tony

    I think FDL is right — let’s hear from the women:

    “I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name.” Norma McCovey, 1998

    “I was never supposed to sit up. They said all I would ever be was a vegetable. Not only did I survive this procedure, I also can take care of myself and can walk, with a slight limp.” Gianna Jensen, target of “botched abortion,” 1999.

    “We would have lost that baby, but we would not have killed that baby.” Wife of NY Times columnist Bill Keller, lamenting the abortion of their “defective” child.

    Do these women count, FDL?

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