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November 13th, 2004


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07:48 pm - Reality check
So, over on conservatism, I got involved in another abortion debate. I wanted to run the final position I came up with by people, but I figure most of you don't feel a need to go through your positions on this topic.

If you feel so inclined, you can follow the whole trail of the topic, which gets a tad flamey, by following this link

It comes down to the person I'm arguing with feeling that, if you have sex, you should be accepting the responsibility for the consequences of this action, up to and including bringing to term any pregnancy that results. If you do not want the resulting child, he argues, you can give the child up for adoption.

My position is that many women who have abortions (and their partners) do take responsibility for their actions by using various birth control methods. None of these, however, is 100% effective and having an abortion to terminate an unwanted pregnancy does not equate to not accepting responsibility.

In the course of this little "discussion" I asked how many children the proponent of adoption had, himself, adopted. His answer was that he and his wife were waiting for kids and that, given his current financial situation he would not choose to adopt. (But if his wife should be come pregnant, would raise the child.)

My latest response to this person was: If it is not irresponsible for you to not adopt a child into that situation, it is likewise not irresponsible for them to do what they can to avoid bringing a child into that situation. We both agree, I think, that it is tragic that some find it necessary to choose abortion to prevent that. You cannot call it it irresponsible, however, without being hypocritical.

Just checking to see if I'm way off base (what with the somewhat heated nature of the discussion).
Current Mood: annoyedannoyed

(36 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:90_percent_sure
Date:November 13th, 2004 07:05 pm (UTC)
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I added some commentary. I came, I saw, I trolled.

Meanwhile, this is a far better use of your time.

[User Picture]
From:deadrelatives
Date:November 13th, 2004 09:16 pm (UTC)
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ha...you were awesome.

i was wondering why someone with your icon would be spouting such total crap.
[User Picture]
From:90_percent_sure
Date:November 13th, 2004 09:24 pm (UTC)

Heh.

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I was bored, mostly. ;-)

(Deleted comment)
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:14 am (UTC)
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Yeah, but it's ignorant. (I disagree with some of the opinions, but that's a different matter -- he's simply wrong on a lot of it, like the silly notion that a grip safety makes a gun "child proof".) See http://www.joel-rosenberg.com; I gave it a light fisking yesterday.

The short form: repackaging "gun control" as "gun safety" isn't honest, hasn't worked, and won't solve the problem that the Democrats have. Actually giving up on the whole "gun control" myth would be the sensible thing to do.
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From:jbru
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:25 am (UTC)
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Hey! No fair bringing gun control into an abotion debate!
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:29 am (UTC)
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Oh, I think they're related. After all, if the Democrats would like to prevent a woman from being able to defend herself against rape by carrying a handgun, I think it's downright sweet of them to push for her being able to get an abortion if she gets impregnated in that rape.
[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:44 am (UTC)
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Joel, cut it out.

No one suggested that a woman should not defend herself from a rapist by any means necessary and available to her. Characterizing that as the preference of the Democratic party, much less the people who are part of it, is ingenuine.

Turning around and calling the defense of a woman's right to a safe abortion if she should need one "downright sweet" is patronizing and antagonistic.

Adding this twist to the discussion is not productive and can only serve to confound the issue at hand, already an emotional one, with the often emotional discussion of gun control. It's not immediately germane. Don't worry, I'll be getting to gun laws down the line so there'll be plenty of opportunity to chime in. (I, in fact, am looking forward to your well-informed point of view when I get there.)
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:55 am (UTC)
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Well, of course it's ingenuine; satire usually is. And of course it's mean of me to say so.

But it's not just satire. People have not only suggested, but explicitly argued that women should not have access to guns to defend themselves against rapists -- and it's not just borderline wackos wearing colanders on their heads, but at least five of the witnesses against the carry law have done just that, in my presence, over the years of attending hearings, and yes, all of them were Democrats, and put forward by DFL opponents of carry reform. (In all five of the cases, they put forward the theory that, if the victim did have a gun, it would be taken away and used against her, despite quite literally no evidence of that ever happening, anywhere, ever, to a civilian female permit holder. In one case, Wes Skoglund -- my state senator -- muttered that a woman testifying on our side was "lucky" that she didn't have a gun and "only" got raped, rather than killed, although he didn't do that on the record.)

If you're saying that nobody in this discussion ever made such an argument, I'll buy that, though.
[User Picture]
From:deadrelatives
Date:November 13th, 2004 09:29 pm (UTC)
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I have made it a point to never, ever argue with anyone who cannot spell. Ever. I just can't get past the errors to the issue, and I can't have respect for someone who doesn't know how to use their spellcheck, at least. I guess its because I'm an elitist liberal snob, so kudos to you for keeping your cool.

I couldn't read the whole thing, but my take on abortion is that a child is not a punishment. No one should be forced to keep an unwanted child because they were too "irresponsible" to use birth control. That is no kind of life for anyone involved. Adoption should be the first option, and after that, abortions should be rare but available and SAFE. End of story.

I do not think you are at all off base.

[User Picture]
From:90_percent_sure
Date:November 13th, 2004 09:40 pm (UTC)
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And arguing with a pro-life, young (with no children) male, Bush supporter?

I'd rather pull out my fingernails with a hot pliers. At least I'd get results.
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 14th, 2004 06:25 am (UTC)
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As you would if you argued, sensibly and rationally, with the Bush supporter. At the very least, you'd stand a good chance of him thinking that there are people on the other side of the issue who are sensible, rational, and open to considering other views.
[User Picture]
From:90_percent_sure
Date:November 14th, 2004 07:23 am (UTC)
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Did you read the thread? Did you not see jbru aruging "sensibly and rationally"?

Pro lifers are a different breed. "Abortion = baby killing" to them, period. There is no other outcome.
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 14th, 2004 07:35 am (UTC)
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I guess I've got the disadvantage, in this conversation, of having actually talked to -- and listened to -- pro-lifers, including Lynda Boudreau, the author of the waiting period bill that became law last year.

Lynda's fairly typical of my experience -- she heard me out, promised to think about what I've said, and didn't change her mind about what the right policy was. That's okay; I didn't set as my goal for her to change her mind. (And, in fact, our conversation helped her polish her arguments in favor of the bill -- I heard some of what I'd said to her on the House floor.)

And, no, the mainstream view in the anti-abortion community isn't "abortion = baby killing . . . period." That's why the mainstream view even among anti-abortion folks is that abortion should be permitted in the case of rape and incest.

I think that demonizing the opposition as a bunch of ignorant, irretrievable idiots should be saved for special occasions -- James Dobson on the right, say, and Michael Moore on the left.
[User Picture]
From:90_percent_sure
Date:November 14th, 2004 07:53 am (UTC)
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You're telling me I'm wrong, and at the same time overlaying your experience on it.

Is it possible that my years of encounters--everything from pro choice rallies to attending evangelical/fundalmentalist churches--has lead me to a different conclusion?

Also, I didn't call anyone an "ignorant, irretrievable idiot". Why did you? Do you assume I think that?




From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 14th, 2004 08:03 am (UTC)
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I don't doubt that your experience has led you to a different conclusion -- it's my feeling that your experience of walking through the woods would lead you to a different conclusion than mine if you did it with your eyes closed; all that bumping into trees stuff would be unpleasant.

And when you say that folks are "pro lifers are a different breed. "Abortion = baby killing" to them, period," I don't think it's unfair to characterize your views of them as I did. YMMV; that's okay.

All in all, it doesn't matter much if just a few folks characterize their political opposition simplistically and ignorantly. But, given current trends, to the extent that it's symptomatic on the left (as it appears to many, including me, to be) it's a recipe for widespread, ongoing political insanity.
[User Picture]
From:laurel
Date:November 14th, 2004 08:51 am (UTC)
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I consider myself pro-life, though I really wish there were some sort of middle group as this is a very complicated issue and there are a zillion shades of grey between the two "sides".

I've managed to have interesting conversations on the topic that have changed my views to varying degrees over the year. Of course it really helps if the people having the conversation treat the other's views with respect. I would never dream of stereotyping people who identify themselves as pro-choice, nor would I dis them for their views. (And, of course, I would never go bomb a clinic. Or call anyone who chose to have an abortion a "baby-killer" or any other negative sort of thing).

So yeah, I sometimes get very weary when I see people toss off comments where "pro-life" equals some sort of negative stereotype. 'Cuz none of the people I know who identify as pro-life (myself included) ever stereotype or dis pro-choice people like that. Well, they haven't in my hearing that I can recall.

This doesn't mean there aren't jerks (or criminals, like those who bomb clinics) out there who identify as pro-life. There are. IMHO, there are jerks (and criminals) everywhere, on every "side" of any issue. The biggest mistake anyone can make, no matter the "side," is to assume all people who hold a certain position are like the loudest or most controversial people who hold that view-- or the ones who get the most press. Well, I think so. More progress is made by open-minded conversation than by ignoring each other or yelling at each other.

FWIW, IMHO, YMMV, etc. And not intending to dis anyone or sound like I'm lecturing anyone, honest.
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:10 am (UTC)
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Sounds to me like you are lecturing, and that's a good thing, when done well, as you tend to.
[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:23 am (UTC)
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I think most people fall in the shades of grey, as you say. One of my hopes in engaging in conversation with folks on the "other" side is to learn where they fit in those shades and to try to show them some of the shades from my "side." Getting people to think about these issues is a good thing, I think, as once we get the critical thinking processes involved, we can hopefully remove some of the emotion from the decision-making.
[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:28 am (UTC)
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Some of it is for my own good in a masochistic way. By beating my head against some of the walls, I do learn the best ways to break down those walls. (And it feels so good when I stop.)
[User Picture]
From:deadrelatives
Date:November 16th, 2004 10:04 am (UTC)
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Yeah, that is pointless squared.
[User Picture]
From:roseblessing
Date:November 14th, 2004 08:39 am (UTC)

Painful

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Hi, I thought your commentary was thoughtful.

I find abortion disceussions to be so painful. Culturally and technically I am pro-life. My problem is that I cannot identify with the issues. I cannot tell what it feels like to have an abortion. I cannot tell what it feels like for the baby to be aborted. I cannot tell what it feels like to need an abortion. I cannot make any judgements about what it might be like to grow up unwanted, a thrown away child.

But I find the discussions to be so harsh, and each side seems to be so definite about knowing the answers.
[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:15 am (UTC)

Re: Painful

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You are correct in that people tend to get easily emotional on both sides. I find myself doing it too often.

I, likewise, cannot truly identify with the issues. I have the handicap of being male, for starters, so issues of pregnancy are removed from me by biology. For that reason, alone, I don't feel as if I have any right to be telling a woman what she should and shouldn't do if she becomes pregnant; I cannot know everything involved.

I do think that abortion is a tragedy; it would be a wonderful, ideal world if no one ever faced that decision. Since that's never going to be the case, I find myself on the side of things that says, "let's leave it up to the women and their doctors."
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:27 am (UTC)

Re: Painful

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Well, me, too, but . . . I think that we're ignoring endpoints, at least emotionally. I think there's something fundamentally (pardon the expression) wrong with elective abortion at, say, eight and a half months, and while that's very rare, it *does* happen, and my only concern with laws that would forbid it are slippery slope ones.

I think there's nothing at all wrong (morally or ethically; there are practical issues) with a morning-after pill, even though that guarantees that a viable fertilized egg will be flushed out -- and I don't think that's any more of a tragedy than an IUD.
[User Picture]
From:laurel
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:40 am (UTC)

Re: Painful

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Some pro-life folks are so staunchly anti-abortion and so sure that "life" begins right away, that they're against IUDs, too (as well as the morning after pill). FWIW, you probably knew that, but I figured I'd mention it in case anyone wasn't aware of that.

I'm beginning to think that the morning after pill may be the key to sorting this all out, but I'm not holding my breath for that to happen. I rather wish this were the sort of world where it was much more common for people to use a morning after pill than for people to get abortions (I haven't seen any stats and have no way of knowing, maybe it is that way now, but I doubt it).
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:48 am (UTC)

Re: Painful

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Politically, I think the morning after pill is the answer, in the long run. Still won't make the virulently antiabortion folks happy, for reasons you point out.
[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:49 am (UTC)

Re: Painful

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Sadly, I don't think the morning-after pill is going to be a silver bullet. There are a growing number of doctors who refuse to prescribe the normal birth-control pill and pharmacists who refuse to fill such prescriptions on the grounds that, for sexually-active women, they are causing spontaneous miscarriages; in effect, abortions. See this article from Prevention magazine.
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:58 am (UTC)

Re: Painful

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But what of that? As long as women can find doctors who will prescribe, and pharmacists -- including mailorder pharmacies, which is how I fill most of my prescriptions (although, for obvious reasons, not for a morning after pill) -- it doesn't matter that some don't.

And they are quite right: the pills do cause miscarriages, and are, in fact, either performing (very early) abortions or doing nothing useful.

But the thrust of the mainstream antiabortion movement isn't to save blastulas; they've long been focusing on abortions of at least human-looking fetuses.
[User Picture]
From:90_percent_sure
Date:November 14th, 2004 10:10 am (UTC)

Re: Painful

(Link)
From their FAQ:

"Given that it was human sperm and human ovum that joined together, you would agree that the result would have to be a human something. But what is that ‘something.’ Is it a human person even though it starts out looking just like a lump of cells? To answer this question, think about what is added to this clump of cells that attaches to the lining of the womb and grows over 40 weeks to be a born baby. This clump of cells receives only three things from its mother; somewhere to live, food and oxygen. If you say that the clump of cells isn’t human at its beginning, then you need to show that there is something magical about where you live, what you eat, or what you drink that can convert you from being non-human to human. I think you would agree that there is nothing.

Hence the only logical conclusion can be it is always human because of where it came from – two human parents. It is very easy to be tricked by the appearance of the human embryo (‘it just looks like a lump of cells’) or its ‘address’ --floating in or newly attached to the lining of the womb. But these superficial features are irrelevant. We must look to what it is, not what it looks like. Human in origin means it is human in nature. It is a human person just like you or I; the only difference is that it just hasn’t fully grown up yet. "
--

Wacky psuedo science meets crazy Christian dogma. How fun.
[User Picture]
From:90_percent_sure
Date:November 14th, 2004 10:12 am (UTC)

Re: Painful

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Oops. When I say "their", I mean "The members of the antiabortion group Pharmacists for Life International"
[User Picture]
From:90_percent_sure
Date:November 14th, 2004 10:02 am (UTC)

Re: Painful

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Ooh, now there's a swell group of guys.

I guess "birth control = baby killing" now, too.
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 15th, 2004 03:32 am (UTC)

Re: Painful

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Depends. If you believe that upon fertilization, an egg becomes a human being, and that to prevent such a human being from coming to term is murder, those forms of birth control that prevent a fertilized egg from being retained in the uterus would, necessarily, be considered considered murder. Those forms that don't -- condoms, say -- wouldn't, as they simply prevent fertilization in the first place.

Which is, of course, one of the reasons to talk and listen to folks who are anti-abortion. Upon examination of their own beliefs, at least some will realize that they don't consider, say, the IUD or various forms of the Pill that prevent implantation to be murder, and work backward from there to something you (and I, for that matter) may consider more reasonable.
[User Picture]
From:90_percent_sure
Date:November 15th, 2004 05:45 pm (UTC)

Re: Painful

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Depends. If you believe that upon fertilization...


It doesn't "depend" on anything. That is what the pharmacists believe, according to their website.

My beliefs are entirely different. But we're not talking about what I believe.
[User Picture]
From:laurel
Date:November 14th, 2004 09:34 am (UTC)
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You write: "My position is that many women who have abortions (and their partners) do take responsibility for their actions by using various birth control methods. None of these, however, is 100% effective and having an abortion to terminate an unwanted pregnancy does not equate to not accepting responsibility."

For people who believe abortion is wrong and/or people who would never have an abortion personally (or want their partner to have one), the "responsible thing" ends up being a little trickier somehow. Not sure how to explain this.

But if you're considering having sex and know that abortion does not factor into the equation for you (and your partner) at all, that means figuring out the "responsible thing" and what you're comfortable with is a little different than for those who consider abortion an option (even an unlikely, last resort, sortof option).

If someone knows abortion is absolutely not an option for them (for whatever reason) and they know they really could not bring a pregnancy to term (for whatever reason), the "responsible thing" may be to simply not have sex. Or they may weigh these risk factors and decide they're willing to deal with a 1% (or less) chance of pregnancy and then they use birth control (maybe even multiple methods). Or they may decide to engage in other types of sexual activity (other than intercourse, where there's less likelihood of pregnancy or no likelihood). If they plan to never have kids, one or both partners may decide to get a vasectomy or their tubes tied (whichever applies).

To someone who is hardcore pro-life, an abortion is never the "responsible thing" and would pretty much always be seen as a result of an "irresponsible" action. Yes, even if the couple in question had used every sort of birth control under the sun. Heck, even if there was a vasectomy involved. "Irresponsible" probably means to them "not willing to have a baby if you get pregnant." They're usually fine with children given up for adoption if someone really can't raise the kid or wouldn't want to. Some pro-lifers are okay with abortion in rare circumstances (usually involving medical issues or incest/rape or something), others are not and where people stand on that likely affects their decision on whether to have sex or how to go about it (or at least it should).

Does this help? I can't speak for anyone but myself, really, or my understanding of it. And opinions vary greatly from person to person within the pro-life community.

[Kevin was just here and mentioned that sometimes there's trouble in abortion discussions when people confuse "pro-life" with "anti-abortion" because those things aren't necessarily the same thing. Some pro-lifers are okay with abortion in some circumstance, just prefer that abortions would be rare.]
[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:November 14th, 2004 10:09 am (UTC)
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I think part of the problem I'm having with all this is, in fact, the word "responsible." It means, as you point out, different things to different people and carries the unfortunate connotation that if one does not do as another expects, one is being irresponsible.

I will also attempt to keep "pro-life" and "anti-abortion" separate in my head; once again we see that labels are rarely accurate.

Thanks for your thoughts here, I need to digest some more in order to properly respond.
From:joel_rosenberg
Date:November 15th, 2004 03:36 am (UTC)
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With all respect, I don't think your last sentence gets us anywhere. Almost everybody prefers that abortions be -- at their most frequent -- rare, whether the mechanism is by abstinence or birth control, or some combination thereof.

But the rest of your post is on point. Logic would dictate that anti-abortion folks would strongly prefer that people engaging in sex do so in a way that would guarantee no pregnancy, but you'll not find any anti-abortion/prolife group arguing, in effect, "hey, kids, if you're going to have sex, have oral sex."

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