That Kind of News Day

We continue to be so wrapped up in the Virginia Tech shootings that the Supreme Court 5-4 ruling upholding abortion restrictions is not even close to the top story on either the CNN or MSNBC Web sites. Interesting, that.

Anyway, I thought I would mention it and give it some prominent play. Seems like roughly half my audience, at least, would want to know it happened.

Here’s the opinion itself.

255 thoughts on “That Kind of News Day

  1. Well, being LDS, I am obviously against abortion. Being rational, I am also obviously against abortion. Anyone who says that abortion is not the taking of a life is lying to themselves. Period. Here are some lyrics from a rapper named Piper that put it better than I can.

    [deleted due to the amount of lyrics being clearly beyond what is acceptable for fair use — js]

  2. Alex R.:

    “Being rational, I am also obviously against abortion.”

    That’s not the only rational position regarding abortion, Alex, and thinking so is, well, irrational. Please avoid making that sort of irrational blanket statement again, unless you want it shoved down your neck, hard.

    I’ve deleted your lyrics on the grounds of copyright violation, Alex. Try to get clearance for those next time.

  3. What’s that I smell, a conspiracy theory? The Goverbnment purposely let a lunatic loose on the V-Tech campus so that we would be to distracted to notice this ruling? You better watch your back John, publishing the gummint’s secrets like this. Black Helicopters will be landing at Casa De Scalzi any day now.

  4. It’s sad, but the VT shootings are over, and all that’s left is the media circus and some politicians blowing some hot air around.
    It’s a damned shame about the SC ruling. For or against it, abortion should be a personal choice, and the government’s only role should be to make sure that if they are carried out (at the discretion of the woman in question, and absolutely no one else- no, not even parents), that they are carried out safely. Sorry for the rant, it’s a bit of a hot-button topic with me. Thanks for giving this the attention it needs, John.

  5. > Anyone who says that abortion is not the
    > taking of a life is lying to themselves.

    No disagreements from me here.

    On the other hand, the planet is getting mighty full, and humans beings simply love to kill – either in utero, or anywhere else for that matter. It’s that whole semi-sentient, opposable thumb thing we have going. We’re the best and most efficient predator on the planet (that coincidentally kills it’s own kind, but never for food)

    Even though John was a bit snarky regarding Agent’s Smith’s poignant soliloquies in The Matrix (The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies), they bear repeating here:

    I’d like to share a…revelation I had, during my time here. It came to me when I tried to…classify your species. I realized that you’re not _actually_ mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but…you humans do _not_. You move to an area…_and_ you _multiply_…until every natural resource is _consumed_. The only way you can survive is to..spread to _another_ area.

  6. Alex R., no — abortion is the taking of a potential life. Show me a fetus that can survive outside the womb and I might consider your argument…

  7. Wow.

    I’ve always been pro-choice. I don’t know if it is ignorance on my part, but reading the opinion and having children of my own, I got sick to my stomach when detailing the procedures.

    While I won’t preach on what other women should do, I don’t think I could ever bring myself to do something which I find so disturbing.

    In my personal case – pro-choice doesn’t necessarily mean pro-abortion. If that makes any sense what-so-ever.

  8. Wow.

    I’ve always been pro-choice. I don’t know if it is ignorance on my part, but reading the opinion and having children of my own, I got sick to my stomach when detailing the procedures.

    While I won’t preach on what other women should do, I don’t think I could ever bring myself to do something which I find so disturbing.

    In my personal case – pro-choice doesn’t necessarily mean pro-abortion. If that makes any sense what-so-ever.

  9. Alex R, being rational you have an opinion. I have a dissenting opinion.

    Being rational, some SE Asian cultures don’t accept that a child who has been born is really of this plane of existance until about ten days after their birth. Until then the child is not allowed to touch the ground. This is a rational response to high infant mortality in those cultures.

  10. Kate- your stance makes sense to me… There are too many different circumstances under which abortion would be an option that to legislate it outright seems a crass oversimplification of the issue. Better to let people come to their own conclusions, and let the government’s role be limited to making sure that that decision can be carried out safely.

    As for your reaction to the details of the procedure, the same could be said of any medical procedure. By that logic, then, all invasive surgical procedures that create some gore are suspect- tracheotomies, open-heart surgery, hell, even caesarean sections.

  11. Wow. Alex=pwnt.

    Kate, I’m with you on that. There’s a difference between encouraging a behavior and simply accepting it in some circumstances. I think too many people make the distinction of pro-choice as meaning pro-abortion in all cases.

  12. Meh. Until the question of when life begins is answered it is matter of personal opinion of whether abortion is murder or not. Until that point I would rather not have the government or radicals like Alex deciding what a woman can or can’t do with her body.

  13. Strangely, I don’t get sick to my stomach when reading or watching other medical procedures.

    I guess that my experiences of having a life grow inside of me, feeling it move and respond to my voice, and finally holding it in my arms after difficult and painstaking deliveries has possibly tainted me from making any judgments regarding what other people should do with their bodies.

    While I’m glad women have a choice…it’s not a choice I would necessarily make. I’m terribly upset at my own fence sitting here, so I apologize in advance, but there is really no other way of looking at it for me.

  14. Pablo, I agree that I want as little government in my life as possible. However, letting someone come to their own conclusions just doesn’t work when it involves someone else dying.
    Just to clarify, I am ok with abortions if the mother will die. I am slightly less ok with abortion when they think they baby will have lots of problems. Before I was born, the docs told my parents I had Down’s and probably wouldn’t live past 10. I’m pretty glad they didn’t abort me, even though I couldn’t have survived outside the womb at the time.
    I’ll give Piper’s lyrics another try. “Choosing our life over your life meant your death.” – Happy Birthday

    I think that explains the rationale behind most abortions…people don’t want they baby (oh, I’m sorry, fetus), or don’t feel like they are ready, or it would hamper their lifestyle. There are other reasons, but they don’t appear as frequently.

  15. In my experience, some (not all) anti-abortionists are hypocritical. While they get up in arms about a cluster of cells, they don’t seem to complain much about the death penalty, and they don’t seem to flinch every time a cluster bomb is dropped in the desert.

  16. Pablo Defendini:

    “As a guy, I have absolutely zero frame of reference for looking at it as anything other than a medical procedure, so maybe I should STFU. ;)”

    Well, see. There are lots of other guys who won’t shut up just because they can’t have an abortion, and many of them are the sort who believe no one should have one.

    Alex R.:

    “Just to clarify, I am ok with abortions if the mother will die.”

    You ought not be cheered about this particular ruling then, as the law in this case does not provide for a medical exception. There’s a possibility that mothers will die because of it.

  17. Alex R.- That all depends on what your definition of life is. I think I’m gonna side with Kero/Kevin on this one: short of being psychic, and sensing some sort of consciousness in that fetus, there’s no way for us to know whether life begins at conception, or whether a fetus is nothing more than a developing parasite until the mother gives birth (or even later than that, if you take into account the development of self-consciousness, or semi-mystical beliefs, such as Steve outlined above). Hence, in my opinion, the need for ample legal latitude, and for women to make their own choice.

  18. Aww, Scalzi… who knows, some lyrics from a song could have changed my mind! I mean, clearly this isn’t a position that has been debated at length, and I think Alex R. is of course right to assume that the wisdom of his position would immediately become clear from such a short post, and of course those life changing lyrics.

    I’ve now tracked down the lyrics. The imagery in the playground. Oh. My. God. (no offense meant).

    I mean, all of those pro-choicers like I *used* to be, just picked a position almost at random – without considering issues like whether the fetus is alive, or when is it ensouled, or the value of a potential life and when life actually begins.

    That’s what made the effervescent logic of his (her?) post so compelling.

    And now Alex, since I have demonstrated my open mindedness, I assume that you would be open to some questions and criticism on some of the past and present policies of the LDS church. I would post the lyrics that pose my questions much better than I could ever manage, but Scalzi is so anal about copyright. So post your email address and I’ll send them to you. I think it might change your mind!

  19. Pablo…I just can’t understand that. I think its rather obvious that those “bundle of cells” will eventually become a human being. Does it honestly matter that it can’t survive on its own?
    Should we then allow parents with severely disabled children to off them because they are inconvenient? They don’t have any concept of self.
    I also don’t understand why I’m radical for believing its no ok to kill because its not convenient.
    Oh wait, yes I do. Its an easy way to go around the debate…paint me as a loony, and then you don’t have to answer my questions.

    Radicals are those who blow up abortion centers, or stand at high school street corners and hand full color pictures of abortions to females, while tell them they are going to hell for wearing a short skirt.

  20. Tor:

    “I assume that you would be open to some questions and criticism on some of the past and present policies of the LDS church.”

    Yes, please, take those into e-mail if you choose to have that discussion. It’ll no doubt be an interesting discussion, just not one I want to have here, now.

  21. Indeed…we’re talking here about abortion – not religion, war, or the death penalty.
    I’m unsure as to why I’ve been called radical, been made fun of, etc. for stating my opinion. I have made no judgements of women who have had abortions, those who provide abortions, or those who believe in a woman’s right to choose.
    I did state my religion, simply because it helps to understand why I think the way I do.

  22. Not being a woman its hard for me to dictate what a pregnant woman should do with her body. I personally am Pro-Life, but what someone else does with their own body (no matter how dispicable I believe it to be) is their business.

    Prove to me that a fetus in the womb is not a living thing, conversely I also know its hard to prove that it is a living conscius entity inside of the womb, and I will say its okay to kill “it.” Because this is such a gray area its not right to say that “abortion is the taking of a potential life.”

    What ever happened to cautioning on the side of error. This is not a peace of wood its a human being why is it so hard to believe that something that was created from a sperm and a ovam is a living thing, I’m not even talking about God, I’m talking about just basic level human descency.

  23. Alex R., since you came to your decision rationally, I would really like to hear your rational thought process that led you to hold that life, with all the rights and priveledges, begins at conception. I would especially like to hear your rationalization of equating, say the acorn to the full oak, and how then you feel about not charging women who have still births or those who lose their pregnancy (aka. spontaneous abortion) with a crime.

  24. “I think its rather obvious that those “bundle of cells” will eventually become a human being.”

    I don’t think it’s that obvious at all, actually. It goes back to your personal belief. So many things could happen: the fetus could fail to develop correctly, and could be flushed out of the system very early on (sometimes without the mother even realizing it), she could miscarry (and possibly take the mother with it), and so on.

    You believe that as soon as an egg is fertilized, the spark of life is struck. I happen to believe otherwise. Science can’t tell, as of yet. So I guess we’re stuck with your belief, and my belief. Yours is no better than mine, or vice versa, but that certainly doesn’t mean that either is a solid basis upon which to legislate, which is all I’m sayin’.

  25. I have had two women close to me get pregnant through rape. If my wife got pregnant I would, of course, not want her to abort it. That being said we should all admit that bad things can happen to good people and if they choose not to keep a child conceived through rape that is their choice. I know, many people say “what are the chances of that.” In these days of ruffies and date rape probably worse than you think. Many women who are raped don’t want to admit it and don’t tell anyone. Therefore the true number of rapes is unknown.

    Let’s step away from the rape (and incest and condition of the mother and viability of the embryo) exception and address the larger question of limits. What limits are we willing put on our freedom? Can we legislate who is born? Can we legislate when life begins? No, we can’t. Those are theological questions which our country should not meddle in – ever. The founding fathers were quite explicit about that. If you think (like Alex R does) that you know the absolute truth you are wrong. Period.

    Let me leave you with a joke my (Jewish) wife told me.

    A Baptist Preacher an Episcopalian Minister and a Rabbi are sitting around discussing when life begins.

    Baptist: Life begins at inception.

    Episcopalian: No, Life begins at birth.

    Rabi: No, you’re both wrong. Life begins when the kid goes to college.

  26. Alex R:

    “I’m unsure as to why I’ve been called radical”

    Possibly because you got off on the wrong foot by implying that the only “rational” position to have re: abortion is yours. That’s a pretty radical position to hold.

  27. Alex R:

    “I’m unsure as to why I’ve been called radical”

    Possibly because you got off on the wrong foot by implying that the only “rational” position to have re: abortion is yours. That’s a pretty radical position to hold.

  28. Well, considering that fact that every human being alive came from those same circumstances, I think its safe to say there’s no need for the debate as to when a fetus is actually “alive”. I myself don’t know. I don’t know when it begins thinking, feeling, when they have a soul, or anything else. Does it matter? Its going to become a human being. That should count for something.
    Why should they be prosecuted for something they had no direct control over? Still births and miscarriages are generally not the fault of the mother…if anything, they need counseling for the grief they will be going through. Try telling one of them that what they lost was just a bundle of cells.

  29. Sorry, one other point I forgot to make above.

    In no way shape or form will illegalizing abortion make it go away any more than illegalizing drugs have made them go away. It will just make it more dangerous.

    Don’t believe me? Look no further than a history book and you will see I am correct.

  30. Alex R: Your reasons for being against abortion are your own reasons, and when presented to someone else in a logical manner, that other person may not think your reasons are rational. That all depends on the person and their own experiences.

    I think I’m Pro Choice, like Kate. I haven’t thought on it too much, but I do know that if there are certain valid reasons behind wanting or needing the procedure, then fine. A friend of mine had to have an abortion because of an ectopic pregancy. If she hadn’t she would have died and left her two daughters without a mother. I believe that if a woman is raped and is impregnated, she should have the choice whether or not she wants to go through with it or not.

    I do not believe it should be used for birth control methods, though. Just because a baby won’t fit in your lifestyle, I don’t think that’s a valid excuse for wanting an abortion.

    But that is just what I believe.

  31. I don’t care much for the opinions of anti-abortionists unless they are vegetarian pacifists. Most other positions seem to have too many inherent contradictions.

    They also seem to ignore how incredibly frequent spontaneous abortions are. Nature handles this all the time, often without the potential mothers even knowing it. There is no disturbance in the Force.

    But then I have issues with religion and rationality and the relationship between those two, so I try to bit my tounge. A lot :)

  32. Alex R.:

    “Well, considering that fact that every human being alive came from those same circumstances, I think its safe to say there’s no need for the debate as to when a fetus is actually ‘alive.'”

    Logical fallacy. Every human was a once a bundle of cells, not every fertilized bundle of cells becomes a human being. So, no, it’s not “safe to say.”

    Alex, just as a warning, every time you make a statement that includes a rhetorical influencer like “Obviously” or “safe to say,” you’re going to end up having your legs kicked out from under you. Some of us have degrees in language. If you want to make your argument, argue from facts, not rhetoric.

  33. nisleib:

    I do agree that woman who are pregnant through forced means (ie. rape), or who have the potential to die as a result to pregnancy have a right to then abort the fetus (one would hope during the first trimester).

    What I find disturbing are people who have sex consensually, get pregant and decide to abort. First of all this isnt the middle ages where there arent contraceptive means to prevent this. Second of all it really isnt the fault of the fetus, baby, whatever to have such a gruesome death.

    It’s not that I’m agaisn’t all of abortion its that I’m against abortion for woman (and men, I’ve known guys to pressure their girlfriends to do it) as a convenient way to get rid of a problem.

  34. Interesting, no one has responded to Rob Davies’ comments about the disconnect between those against abortion as murder and those (often same folks) who have no trouble with either death penalty or bombs killing civilians.

    Clearly, I’m in the pro-choice camp. I believe it is a choice, not a life/death issue, because I believe it’s a “potential life” not a “life”

    And that’s what’s really at the crux of this whole thing — it’s legislation based on what we “believe.” As we don’t seem to be able to prove this “start of life” thing, it becomes a very emotional argument based on beliefs, which makes legislating it very messy. Not the way we like our laws to develop.

    Murder, state sanctioned or otherwise, is clearly the taking of life — the arguments about death penalties at least have that to agree upon.

    oh yea — anti death penalty for those keeping count at home.

  35. Nice critical thinking Mr. Scalzi!

    Ah, college. It is amazing how much one four month course can change your outlook on everything, isn’t it?

  36. This is one of those discussions that is difficult to have because it is based so firmly in emotion.

    For me, abortion is usually bad because it implies a failure further up the chain. Someone didn’t use birth control, it didn’t work, or something beyond their control (rape) caused them to get pregnant. If people really wanted to lower the rate of abortion, they would address those issues. Make birth control easier and cheaper to get, etc.

    But the reality is that many of those that oppose abortion also appose sex in general, unless its specifically for procreation in a room with the lights out and the door locked in the missionary position between two happily married Christians. This tends to muddy the issue further by making it a religious debate, instead of a social policy debate.

    I’m pro choice, myself, simply because i don’t think its a good idea to let the government dictate personal choice, and absent a compelling social reason for banning abortion, i’d prefer they not stick their nose in. Anything else seems to be yet more pandering to the religious right on a hot button issue, that is really a non-issue, but does get votes. If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one. Volunteer to council pregnant teens or something. But don’t legislate my decisions for me.

  37. Looking through the post, I see that it is basically me, with others posting in response. As I’m sure its not what Scalzi had in mind, I’ll bow out of the discussion so that it may continue.
    If you wish to show me the error of my backward thinking, feel free to email me at aprobinson15@hotmail.com

  38. Interesting, no one has responded to Rob Davies’ comments about the disconnect between those against abortion as murder and those (often same folks) who have no trouble with either death penalty or bombs killing civilians.

    Clearly, I’m in the pro-choice camp. I believe it is a choice, not a life/death issue, because I believe it’s a “potential life” not a “life”

    And that’s what’s really at the crux of this whole thing — it’s legislation based on what we “believe.” As we don’t seem to be able to prove this “start of life” thing, it becomes a very emotional argument based on beliefs, which makes legislating it very messy. Not the way we like our laws to develop.

    Murder, state sanctioned or otherwise, is clearly the taking of life — the arguments about death penalties at least have that to agree upon.

    oh yea — anti death penalty for those keeping count at home.

  39. Alex R. – I would argue that you are confusing actuality with potentiality.

    I don’t hold the belief that life begins at conception and I believe pregnancy should not reduce me to an incubator.

    I am troubled by the fact that the Court did not overturn the law because of the lack of a mother’s health exemption, which would have been in keeping with past decisions. I’m not surprised, given the current make-up of the Court, but I am disapointed. It furthers my resolve to be a near-single-issue voter in virtually all elections, since I think we may very well end up back at the really bad place we were in pre-Roe when the law varied from state to state.

  40. Alex R. – I would argue that you are confusing actuality with potentiality.

    I don’t hold the belief that life begins at conception and I believe pregnancy should not reduce me to an incubator.

    I am troubled by the fact that the Court did not overturn the law because of the lack of a mother’s health exemption, which would have been in keeping with past decisions. I’m not surprised, given the current make-up of the Court, but I am disapointed. It furthers my resolve to be a near-single-issue voter in virtually all elections, since I think we may very well end up back at the really bad place we were in pre-Roe when the law varied from state to state.

  41. It seems to me that what gets missed in this thread (and other debates on the issue) is that the procedure banned by this law that the SCOTUS just upheld isn’t used by a woman who “doesn’t want to have a baby.” These women (and there aren’t very many) are women who face an agonizing decision about what to do about pregnancies that have no good outcomes: the death of the child, the birth of a child who will only suffer and die, the death or loss of fertility of the mother.

    This is the first time that the court has given a thumbs up to a provision that makes no exception for the health of the mother, and it may represent a slippery judicial slope to the complete loss of the right.

    There was an essay, years ago, that told the story of a woman who had to make this choice when carrying very sick twins. You can find it here: http://www.barryyeoman.com/articles/gina.html

  42. I was thinking I might make some comments about how I feel about abortion. But, anytime that happens on the net, my comments get lost in the other comments, or misunderstood. Then people keep getting called stupid on both sides of the fence.

    So many people get so angry over this topic.

  43. Alex R.:

    “As I’m sure its not what Scalzi had in mind, I’ll bow out of the discussion so that it may continue.”

    Don’t use me an excuse for backing out, Alex. What’s actually happening here is that you’ve made a bunch of assertions based on what you think are perfectly logical points of view, and you’ve run up against a bunch of people who want you to explain yourself. If you feel you can make a go of it (and be reasonably polite as you do so), then by all means, you have leave to continue. What I have in mind around here is interesting conversation, not conversation in which everyone agrees with me.

  44. Sam:

    I agree about not using abortion as birth control. Almost.

    I used to live in a ghetto. I’d see drunks and drug addicts running around messed up on drugs constantly. I’d hear from other’s that that same junkie had been pregnant numerous times and had half a dozen brain damaged children running around.

    Sad, no?

    They lacked the ability or will power or intelligence or whatever you want to call it to control their reproductive cycle.

    Should they be allowed to have abortions?

    Where do we draw the line?

  45. I get “tired head” when people equate taking a moral stance as a personal attack on their belief system(s). Standing up for what you believe in isn’t and shouldn’t be labeled intolerance.

    If you can read the text of the opinion on the partial birth abortion (espeically what the nurse said about the clenching fingers and wiggling feet in the intact D&E procedure) and not feel as though the described procedure is homicide, then I really pity your lack of conscience. We might as well take all the pre-mature babies that are born prior to the “magical” seven month mark and give the parents an opportunity to choose euthanasia.

    That being said, it is terrible that there is no verbiage in there allowing a doctor to terminate a pregnancy to save the life of a mother in distress. A situation like that never presents an easy ethical dilemma for doctors, but they should be free to make a call that poses the best chance of saving lives.

  46. I get “tired head” when people equate taking a moral stance as a personal attack on their belief system(s). Standing up for what you believe in isn’t and shouldn’t be labeled intolerance.

    If you can read the text of the opinion on the partial birth abortion (espeically what the nurse said about the clenching fingers and wiggling feet in the intact D&E procedure) and not feel as though the described procedure is homicide, then I really pity your lack of conscience. We might as well take all the pre-mature babies that are born prior to the “magical” seven month mark and give the parents an opportunity to choose euthanasia.

    That being said, it is terrible that there is no verbiage in there allowing a doctor to terminate a pregnancy to save the life of a mother in distress. A situation like that never presents an easy ethical dilemma for doctors, but they should be free to make a call that poses the best chance of saving lives.

  47. Thanks for that link, Kristen.

    You’re right that it’s a very small percentage of women who have to do this horrible thing. (I think we can all agree that it is not a walk in the park, or fun.)

    This procedure is done to save the lives of women, whether it be their actual physical lives or their ability to reproduce again, or saving them from the pain of watching an infant live a very short, pain-filled life.

    When I see people, in reference to this particular case, talk about “abortion as birth control”, it just shows to me that the conversations that are going on are on such different planes that they may never meet. And that makes me sad.

    (I also would like to cause physical pain to the idiotic young men on places like digg and slashdot who claim that having a baby is not a big deal and that women who have sex have implicitly taken on that responsibility. It isn’t simple, and it wrecks your body, and I want to throttle them. Ahem. That is all.)

  48. To me abortion is murder. Isn’t murder defined as taking a life, in my opinion that fetus is alive (again in my opinion), the word murder may seem ugly and gruesome to some but it is what it is. The difference between killing the fetus and injecting a criminal with a blue liquid is that the criminal (assuming he/she really is guilty) made a choice to get themselves put in that position, a fetus can’t claim the same thing.

    PeterP,

    I was born baptist, you cant get more hardcore than that. Honestly my reason for being pro-clife has nothing to do with God, my mom can attest that as a kid i was always the last one into church and the first one out. My reason for being pro-life isnt even about morals, its about a sense of justice that if something that didn’t asked to be put into this world has no rights. Just doesnt seem fair as overly simplistic as it may sound.

  49. nisleib: Should they be allowed to have abortions?

    Where do we draw the line?

    We don’t draw a line. Careless women who are addicted to drugs and already lost to the system that is supposed to be helping them deserve to have the right to an abortion just as much as the young honor student whose boyfriend puts the condom on wrong and causes it to break.

    Every woman deserves the right to have an abortion. It is not our place to judge her circumstances, and it is not our right to deem her “unworthy”.

  50. Alex R – “That should count for something” – no one is saying that getting an abortion is a decision that should be made lightly. I have debated and discussed this issue at length with both pro-choice as well as anti-choice people. I have never heard anyone who is pro-choice even imply that this decision should be made lightly.

    The main reasons that partial birth abortions are performed in this country are:

    The fetus is dead.

    The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would place the woman’s life in severe danger.

    The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would grievously damage the woman’s health and/or disable her.

    The fetus is so malformed that it can never gain consciousness and will die shortly after birth. Many which fall into this category have developed a very severe form of hydrocephalus.

    In addition, some physicians violate their state medical association’s regulations and perform elective D&X procedures – primarily on women who are suicidally depressed.

    The Bill which was upheld by SCOTUS contains exceptions for none of these circumstances, and in addition, there is no exception for rape or incest.

    So rather than trusting physicians, we are trusting politicians to make medical decisions. Sounds brilliant – they haven’t screwed anything else up recently.

    And for those who claim to care about life – compared to a D&X (‘Partial Birth Abortion’), there is a far higher risk of the death of the mother in birth and in a hysterotomy (the two other options to a D&X). So women will now be subject to a significantly higher risk of death because of this bill.

    Women are now given the options of surgery (to remove the already dead fetus, in many cases) and birth, to give birth to a fetus that is already dead, or will die soon after birth.

    D&X is a grusome procedure, but I can’t even begin to imagine the effect to carrying around a dead fetus, or to give birth to a child who will immediately die, having experienced nothing but suffering. Nor can I imagine watching my wife die in childbirth or on an operating table because the doctor was not allowed to perform the safer proceedure.

  51. Emily –

    That is my point exactly. We should not draw a line. It should be safe, legal and rare. Emphasis should be placed on education and prevention.

    If you don’t want an abortion DON’T HAVE AN ABORTION! That way we are all pro-choice.

    Don’t try to legislate morality. This is a free country and Freedom is never Free. You have to fight for it and have to accept that others will be allowed to do things you don’t think are moral.

  52. For those keeping count, it would be interesting to assess how many women are pro-choice vs. men.

    I am also pro-choice, but not pro-abortion. Not at all. I wouldn’t do it. But I feel that neither I nor the government gets to make that choice for other women. It’s very personal and gut-wrenching and difficult and no one-size-fits-all set of rules will work.

    The pro-life side of the debate seems to forget that the woman’s life is a valuable and equal part of the equation too – she’s not just a breeding animal.

    I have long thought a controversial solution to the issue might add some clarity. I propose that only women should be allowed to vote on abortion rights issues. In my personal experience, some men can get irrational on the subject, and indeed feel the value of the woman’s life, especially an unwed pregnant woman who could consider abortion, is less than that of the precious little bundle of cells.

    Just tossing it in the ring.

  53. As I understand it, the late-term procedure represented in the following medical illustration remains unrestricted and far more common than the one before the court today.

    http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/pba/DEabortiongraphic.html

    The difference between recently-fertilized bundles of cells and fetuses that would be otherwise viable at late term seems important to such discussions.

  54. nisleib: If you don’t want an abortion DON’T HAVE AN ABORTION! That way we are all pro-choice.

    Actually, I’d like to refine that further. If you are against abortion, help educate young men and women about ways in which they can have sex safely without the fear of pregnancy or disease. Help fund research into birth control methods that do not involve the ingestion of hormones for one’s entire reproductive life. Etc.

    You know? Make the crappy solution less necessary for one group of people, not harder to get, and not illegal for anyone.

  55. If you want to get well and truly pissed off on the subject – I recommend Sheri Tepper’s SF book Gibbons’ Decline and Fall. She’s virulently feminist, but always a good read.

  56. Jeri, that’s a very interesting proposition, but I don’t think women are necessarily more or less rational about this than men (although that would be an interesting survey to run as well). I would think that being a woman would make you that much closer to the issue, and thus more prone to personal and emotional bias.

    But ultimately, I would have to agree with nisleib- it should be safe, available, rare and and educated decision (as in, not a form of birth control).

  57. Jeri wrote: The pro-life side of the debate seems to forget that the woman’s life is a valuable and equal part of the equation too – she’s not just a breeding animal.

    I don’t think that they have forgotten that at all. I think that they don’t CARE. I do not believe that “pro-life” advocates are that, else they would be pro-the-mother’s-life as well. I believe that they are, by and large, hypocritical as they define their own position.

    (Being hopeful that abortions are less necesary is not, imo, that faux hypocritical “pro-life” crap. I’m talking about the people who want to make it illegal.)

  58. Emily,

    We’re not asking the right questions. I think the question shouldn’t be: “Should women be allowed to have abortions?” I think the question should be “Under what circumstances should women be allowed to have abortions?” or should our government be allowed to legislate this type of situation? I honestly don’t know. I have half-formed, contradictory opinions on this that may never be reconciled.

    My personal opinion is that the cases of rape, incest/child abuse, and danger to the mother are all acceptable reasons to have abortions.

    Making abortion a matter of convenience, such as an after-the-fact method of birth control, is reprehensible. It is tantamount to refusing to take responsibility for your actions. I have no problem with labeling this reason for the procedure as murder.

  59. I’m always sort of amused by people who say that abortion shouldn’t be a form of birth control. Regardless of the reason for the abortion, that’s precisely what it is. It’s preventing a birth. Thus, birth control.

    At any rate, the “abortion as birth control” debate is pretty much irrelevant to this case, as Tor’s post so clearly stated. Women who are getting IDX abortions aren’t getting them because sometime in the middle of the 7th month they decided they didn’t want to be pregnant anymore. They’re getting them because there is something very wrong. This ruling will kill women.

  60. Emily,

    I think you are misunderstaing the pro-lifers who are willing to bomb an abortion clinic and those who just don’t want it to become another means of convenient contraceptives.

    I am not trying to imply that the mother is not less important than the unborn child, what I am arguing is that the unborn child is just as important as the mother.

    I and some others have stated that there are gray areas and that there definately are circumstances where a woman does most definately have a choice to terminate said fetus.

    I don’t think I’m being hypocritical, I think, I am well aware that there is no black and white about this. Trust me I do care about the mother its just that I also care about a clump of cells.

  61. Pete: Making abortion a matter of convenience, such as an after-the-fact method of birth control, is reprehensible. It is tantamount to refusing to take responsibility for your actions.

    I’m sorry, but do you understand what you are saying here? Abortion isn’t easy. You don’t wake up one day, say oh, I’m pregnant, and walk down to the clinic and have a doctor snap her fingers in front of your belly.

    Being pregnant kind of sucks. Hormones suck. The changes your body go through suck. Having an abortion sucks.

    It’s also taking responsibility, but for some reason people seem to think it isn’t. Waiting until you give birth and leaving your child for dead in a public bathroom trashcan is “not taking responsibility”, but making an appointment and going through a difficult and painful medical procedure IS taking responsibility.

    I do not believe that women should EVER be punished for having sex.

    Birth control is never one hundred percent. Condoms break. The Pill fails, or another medication interferes with it and the woman isn’t knowledgeable enough to know to use something else in addition to it.

    You wrote: Under what circumstances should women be allowed to have abortions?

    Any.

  62. I have serious doubts that either camp will do any convincing on the this post. To both sides, the matter of “is the fetus alive” is as clear as “is the sky blue.”

    It’s not a matter of opinions, it’s a matter of judgments. If it were opinions, the sides could agree to disagree. They are not opinions, they are interpretations. I realize the difference is subtle, but it’s profound.

    I can have the opinion that euthanasia is wrong. You can have the opinion it is right. Our opinions differ. The parallel would come when one of us says euthanasia is murder, and the other doesn’t. It’s no longer opinions, but entirely different views of the situation.

    I say the sky is blue, you say the sky is green. It’s my opinion the sky is a pretty blue — which makes no sense to you, because it’s not blue dammit, it’s green.

    Feel free to tear my fancy wurds apart, hopefully I’ve communicated my opinion regarding the difficulty between the two camps.

  63. Sam: what I am arguing is that the unborn child is just as important as the mother.

    If you believe that there is a circumstance in which a woman should NOT have the right to terminate a pregnancy, then you are not pro-life, you are anti-women’s-rights.

    And let me clarify my “any” in response to the above: it isn’t that I believe that abortion as a form of post-sex birth control is a good idea; on the contrary, I think it’s a really bad decision, health-wise. The problem is that as soon as you start legislating when a woman can and cannot have an abortion, there will be back alley abortions. And rich girls will, by and large, get them while poor girls won’t.

    Are you going to be the 15 year old girl who has to go into court and stand in front of strangers and tell them that your father raped you?

    As soon as a resctriction is legislated, it becomes (in part) a class issue. Just like before Roe v. Wade.

  64. Well, now very sad for my daughter, who in a life-threatening childbirth situation, now may die because her HIGHLY EDUCATED doctor is not allowed to decide what has to be done for her care. My future grandchild will probably die too in that situation. Very sad indeed.

    Question to add to list I ask doctors: Are you willing to go to jail to do what is best for my medical care?

  65. Suzanne M:

    “Women who are getting IDX abortions aren’t getting them because sometime in the middle of the 7th month they decided they didn’t want to be pregnant anymore.”

    Truth.

    And the fact that is more to the point in this particular case is that there is no exception made for medical necessity; women who are in the unfortunate situation in which an IDX abortion is the least dangerous option for them no longer have that option.

    Essentially, no one who is getting in IDX abortion is getting one for convenience. They’re getting it because it’s necessary. They are going to have a traumatic experience. And now, it’s very likely they’re going to have a traumatic experience that is even more medically dangerous.

  66. I’m with Emily. My body. My choice. After all, I have to live with my decisions. To say that abortion is an ‘easy’ decision is ridiculous.

  67. Ouch Emily.

    “Being pregnant kind of sucks. Hormones suck. The changes your body go through suck. Having an abortion sucks.

    Even with my fence sitting above, just because being pregnant sucks, and hormones suck isn’t really something that would sway me into having an abortion.

    Sitting in traffic sucks, being audited by the IRS sucks, losing money in a vending machine…sucks. Not a very good argument for promoting abortion.

    “Waiting until you give birth and leaving your child for dead in a public bathroom trashcan is “not taking responsibility”, but making an appointment and going through a difficult and painful medical procedure IS taking responsibility.

    I believe there are safe haven laws that will allow for anonymous drop off at area hospitals, police stations, and firehouses.

    While you hear about the case every so often of a woman who panicked, I would say this law is a pretty good alternative and is the kind of thing that should be promoted more often.

  68. Ouch Emily.

    “Being pregnant kind of sucks. Hormones suck. The changes your body go through suck. Having an abortion sucks.

    Even with my fence sitting above, just because being pregnant sucks, and hormones suck isn’t really something that would sway me into having an abortion.

    Sitting in traffic sucks, being audited by the IRS sucks, losing money in a vending machine…sucks. Not a very good argument for promoting abortion.

    “Waiting until you give birth and leaving your child for dead in a public bathroom trashcan is “not taking responsibility”, but making an appointment and going through a difficult and painful medical procedure IS taking responsibility.

    I believe there are safe haven laws that will allow for anonymous drop off at area hospitals, police stations, and firehouses.

    While you hear about the case every so often of a woman who panicked, I would say this law is a pretty good alternative and is the kind of thing that should be promoted more often.

  69. Emily,

    Clearly you are one of those people who sees the world in black and white. Fine. Nothing wrong with that.

    No one ever said that having an abortion is easy I never even so much as emplied it, truly i didn’t so please try not to twist my words about this. But I did teach in a public school for two yrs and trust me teens do have sex freaked out and had an abortion. It happens, get over it. If I was truly anti-women’s right then I would be of the opion that women should not be allowed to have one. There is a disctinction between the two. Please recognize it the next time you try to attack a person.

    There is a definate difference between a woman who has to have one because circumstances beyond their fault and having one because you just dont want it. There are laws in many states that allow mothers who do not want their newly born child to drop them off at police stations, churches and hospitals. No questions asked.

  70. Folks, you can have laws that encourage drop-offs and laws that allow women to have abortions. This isn’t an either/or situation.

    Sam:

    Don’t be accusing people of seeing only in black and white because they have a strong position far away from your own. Emily’s position (i.e., a woman has a right to control her body) is not a radical one.

  71. Well, the bill does contain a medical exception. From the bill:

    Any physician who, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, knowingly performs a partial-birth abortion and thereby kills a human fetus shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both. This subsection does not apply to a partial-birth abortion that is necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.

    The problem is that, in researching the legislation, Congress decided that there was never any case where an IDX abortion is the only safe option, a D&E abortion is always a safe alternative. So they gutted the health exception from the start. This method of legal rodeo is particularly disturbing.

  72. Kate: I believe there are safe haven laws that will allow for anonymous drop off at area hospitals, police stations, and firehouses.

    I do not believe that forcing a woman to go through a pregnancy is fair or moral, and that’s what you’re talking about. Anonymous drop-offs are great, but you are still forcing a woman to go through something that will irrevocably change her body simply because you have chosen to judge that she did not try hard enough not to get pregnant in the first place.

    Sitting in traffic sucks, being audited by the IRS sucks, losing money in a vending machine…sucks. Not a very good argument for promoting abortion.

    I’m not promoting abortion. I am defending the idea that having an abortion IS taking responsibility. Just because YOU do not agree does not make it so. Just because someone wants to tell me that having an abortion isn’t taking responsibility does not make it so.

    Having an abortion is taking responsibility. Having the baby and giving it up for adoption is also taking responsibility. So is keeping the baby and raising it.

    That was my point, and that is why I brought the physical changes into it. Being pregnant is not as simple as getting fat and then popping a baby out.

    Sam: There is a definate difference between a woman who has to have one because circumstances beyond their fault and having one because you just dont want it.

    What better reason is there than “I don’t want it”? What better reason is there than “This is my body and choose not to have what amounts to a parasite inside me for nine months”?

    The SECOND you start judging some women as “deserving” abortions as others as not deserving, the entire system goes right to shit and it becomes a class issue.

    (This is the same reason that I believe in no-fault divorce, by the way. Make getting married harder, if you want to reduce divorce rates, but the men and women who need to get divorced need it enough that it should be easy. If you don’t want abortion to happen, make NOT getting pregnant easier, but don’t make it harder because the people who really need it can’t have their reasons legislated.)

  73. Interesting you didn’t defend me of being accused of being anti womans rights. Seeing how I never said the federal government should regulate what a woman does with her body. If anything I was always of the opinion that a woman can do whatever she wants, I stand by it but at the same time I do have beliefs of my own.

  74. Um, this isn’t really a decision about abortion, it’s a decision about a law, enacted by Congress that has to do with abortion.

    Respondents have not demonstrated that the Act, as a facial matter, is void for vagueness, or that it imposes an undue burden on a woman’s right to abortion based on its overbreadth or lack of a health exception. For these reasons the judgments of the Courts of Appeals for the Eighth and Ninth Circuits are reversed.

    And while everyone is making a big deal about Justice Kennedy’s statement that “court could entertain a challenge in which a doctor found it necessary to perform the banned procedure on a patient suffering certain medical complications.”

    I found Justice Thomas’ hint that he would like to see someone challenge Congress’ ability to even make this law more interesting. From his concurring opinion

    I also note that whether the Act constitutes a permissible exercise of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause is not before the Court. The parties did not raise or brief that issue; it is outside the question presented; and the lower courts did not address it.

    That is, of course, a trap….

  75. To Sam and all the other “pro-lifers”

    Nobody wants to acknowledge the plain fact that making abortion illegal will not make it go away! It will just make it more dangerous. Do you think abortion began when the Supreme Court decided Roe v Wade? I assure you it did not. It has been around for centuries.

    Abortion is the least attractive method of controlling the reproduction cycle. No amount of legality or illegality will change that. It is always the last choice and always will be the last choice. It is invasive and painful and leaves emotional scars. Nothing will change that!

  76. Sam:

    “Interesting you didn’t defend me of being accused of being anti womans rights.”

    Are you speaking to me, here? If so, I didn’t see that comment, so I wouldn’t have been able to defend you from it.

  77. Sam said:

    Interesting you didn’t defend me of being accused of being anti womans rights.

    Actually, Sam, what I said was that IF you believe that there is any circumstance in which a woman should not be permitted to have an abortion, you are anti-women’s-rights.

    I stand by that statement. If A, then B. If you don’t believe that the government should regulate when a woman can have an abortion, then you do not believe A, and you are not anti-women’s-rights.

    With me?

  78. Even with my fence sitting above, just because being pregnant sucks, and hormones suck isn’t really something that would sway me into having an abortion.

    No, but it would be immoral to force someone else through that for nine months.

  79. Kate, did you read the story Kristen linked to? This one is also eye-opening. Getting your taxes audited may suck, but this is on a much deeper level, and because the description of the procedure squicks you out is a hell of a reason to force a woman to carry a dead fetus around for several days, or deny her the chance to hold and grieve over her twins. There are a lot of things that squick me out–Pentecostalist services, for example, or laprascopic surgery. But I don’t think they should be outlawed, all the same, even though outlawing them probably wouldn’t have nearly as horrific results.

  80. I think Justice Thomas has it right, this is a question for legislatures and not for the court:

    Justice Thomas, with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring.

    I join the Court’s opinion because it accurately applies current jurisprudence, including Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833 (1992). I write separately to reiterate my view that the Court’s abortion jurisprudence, including Casey and Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113 (1973), has no basis in the Constitution.

  81. Yes I was Mr. Scalzi, it was in Emilies thread before my response to her, but its okay I’m a BIG BOY. But I dont think she meant it maliciously, after re-reading the post I might have over reacted.

    In any case this goes back to the same reason why many of the founding fathers took issues with creating the Bill of Rights. Because when you tell people you have certain rights it implies that you didnt have them to begin with and gives government the opportunity to use that Bill of Rights agaisnt you because then there are rights that all of a sudden you find out you dont have because they didnt make it into a 250 yr old document.

  82. Under what circumstances should women be allowed to have abortions?

    Let’s rephrase that question. Under what circumstances am I not allowed to make my own choices about my medical care?

    Legal, adult women – and even minor women under some circumstances – should be allowed to make their own choice, not have it imposed on them by some outside party. Allowing external parties to dictate choices about medical care smacks of a police state. Unfortunately there’s no easy analogy I can draw about a comparable men’s health issue.

    In Washington state (where John’ll be next week) there’s a huge uproar about Plan B contraception. Pharmacists are insisting on being able to opt out of prescribing it based on personal beliefs. So, a woman who has a legal prescription in hand may not be able to easily obtain it, if the pharmacist in town has decided he doesn’t serve loose women and that their destiny/judgement is to become pregnant.

    Women have a long way to go. We are equal, legal adults, with minds and bodies that are our own, and to propose in some cases that in some cases the government (and/or pharmacy) gets to make our medical care decisions for us because we can (and should?) procreate is really scary.

  83. Jeri Merrell:

    “We are equal, legal adults, with minds and bodies that are our own, and to propose in some cases that in some cases the government (and/or pharmacy) gets to make our medical care decisions for us because we can (and should?) procreate is really scary.”

    It does remind me of the old and very black joke that if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

  84. Hrm. Am I the only woman on the planet though, that was taught that having sex could possibly result in pregnancy? (I am not talking about rape here.)

    While I don’t want to punish women for having intercourse, (Frankly, I’d be upset if I weren’t allowed to partake)there are associated risks with anything in life.

    This just happens to have a really large one attached,(a consequence for some and a blessing for others) which should make both participants extra careful depending on numerous factors.

    I’ve also just realized that I’m starting to preach, which is exactly what I didn’t want to do, so I will shut it and adhere to my previous statement:

    While I’m glad women have a choice…it’s not a choice I would necessarily make.

  85. Hrm. Am I the only woman on the planet though, that was taught that having sex could possibly result in pregnancy? (I am not talking about rape here.)

    While I don’t want to punish women for having intercourse, (Frankly, I’d be upset if I weren’t allowed to partake)there are associated risks with anything in life.

    This just happens to have a really large one attached,(a consequence for some and a blessing for others) which should make both participants extra careful depending on numerous factors.

    I’ve also just realized that I’m starting to preach, which is exactly what I didn’t want to do, so I will shut it and adhere to my previous statement:

    While I’m glad women have a choice…it’s not a choice I would necessarily make.

  86. If men could get pregnant I’d rather be a woman, assuming that at that point the world turned upside down. I will always be the first to admit that females are the better sex for it.

  87. Am I the only woman on the planet though, that was taught that having sex could possibly result in pregnancy?

    Kate, that was a bit patronizing. Clearly people know this. Just as clearly, birth control fails. No one is faulting you for not having abortions, and since you say that you’re glad women have a choice, I fail to see what the problem is.

  88. Am I the only woman on the planet though, that was taught that having sex could possibly result in pregnancy?

    Kate, that was a bit patronizing. Clearly people know this. Just as clearly, birth control fails. No one is faulting you for not having abortions, and since you say that you’re glad women have a choice, I fail to see what the problem is.

  89. alsafi:

    Pregnancy does suck! I have had three children. I would be the first to attest to that! Hormones also suck, but my personal choice would not be to abort unless my life was in danger. By having sex, I made the choice to deal with any consequences (or blessings) from that union.

    YET: I am grateful for Roe vs. Wade. I am grateful I have a right to choose.

    I am concerned there was no language allowing for medical intervention in this latest ruling. I do believe a lot of women will die because of it.

    I also believe that if abortion was illegal in general, it would not stop women from seeking fatal back alley abortions by seedy doctors that resulted in were so common before the initial RvW decision.

    So here I sit, atop my pointy fence, and I’ll tell you what sucks; being so torn on such an emotional issue.

  90. Anonymous drop off laws? In the vast majority of cases where a D&X is performed, either the mother or the fetus would not be alive long enough to take advantage of it. And in some cases, especially now, both.

    Childbirth can be dangerous. Women die every day in childbirth. Removing an already deceased/non-viable fetus through surgery is even more dangerous to the life of the mother. Leaving aside the effects of telling the mother that what she thought was a growing baby inside her, will not be growing any more, and in a few months she can come in and go through the agony of childbirth to get rid of it.

    D&X is the safest medical procedure to remove a non-viable fetus from the womb of the mother. Our government, in its infinite wisdom, should be held responsible from this point on, every time when a woman dies on the operating table or in childbirth, when a D&X is what would have been done in the past. Of course, for this administration, that’s just a drop in the bucket.

    Cheney alone may very well kill more people before breakfast, with his bare hands, than this law will. Depends on how busy he is….

  91. Kate-
    There IS medical language in the bill providing for the woman’s health (see my comment above, or my blog) – The problem doesn’t lie in the text of the bill, the problem is that Congress invalidated that language from the start. What’s the point of requiring the medical exception if Congress just invalidates it? It’s a huge problem.

  92. Suzanne M:

    My response was mainly to Emily for these two comments, my apologies.

    I do not believe that forcing a woman to go through a pregnancy is fair or moral, and that’s what you’re talking about.

    and her response to:

    Under what circumstances should women be allowed to have abortions?

    Any.

    Which I’m personally understanding as, that any sort of behavior, circumstance, or situation is acceptable grounds for an abortion. My issue is on the behavioral side.

    I’m of the mindset that responsibility starts way before the clothes are even off.

  93. Sigh. Must remember to get my tubes tied as soon as I can afford it.

    And/or switch teams.

  94. I think that saying anyone who is pro–unborn child rights is anti–women’s rights is hyperbole. I would guess that most people who are pro–unborn child rights are pro–human rights and consider women and unborn children to be included in the definition of the word human. But clearly not everyone agrees that unborn children are included in the definition of the word human.

  95. Kate:

    “I’m of the mindset that responsibility starts way before the clothes are even off.”

    I believe that concern is that one can be as responsible as possible, short of abstinence, before sex and still find one’s self pregnant anyway.

  96. John – you took such care to make that last statement gender neutral – “find one’s self pregnant” – and it really wasn’t necessary. ;)

  97. Kate:

    Which I’m personally understanding as, that any sort of behavior, circumstance, or situation is acceptable grounds for an abortion. My issue is on the behavioral side.

    I’m of the mindset that responsibility starts way before the clothes are even off.

    You still haven’t shown me how having an abortion is a form of “not taking responsibility” beyond that you and others say so.

    I believe that it IS taking responsibility, even if others think it’s murder.

  98. Kate: Fair enough, and apology accepted. Still, I’m with our host on this one. It’s possible to be perfectly responsible before sex and wind up pregnant. And I’m quite firmly of the opinion that abortion is also a perfectly responsible course of action. It’s not like it’s easy or painless or even inexpensive.

    But then I, like Emily, am vehemently in the abortion-on-demand, for any reason, camp.

  99. John:

    Exactly, which is why I applaud that most abortion is still legal.

    I got pregnant at age 18. No one told me that some anti-biotics cancel out the effects of birth control.

    My mother’s first words when I broke the news were “Make him pay for an abortion. You shouldn’t miss out on all the world has to offer!”

    There she stood, looking at her bright daughter who had been accepted into a pre-med program only to throw her entire life away by having a baby.

    I don’t know why, but I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. In my head, even though I was ‘responsible’, I got pregnant because my birth control failed.

    His name is William, and there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t regret the decision I made to go forward with the pregnancy and save school for later.

    Yet, had I chosen the other way, I would have been thankful that I didn’t have to sneak around and pay for something that may have left me and the life that grew inside, dead.

    See my conflict?

    My overall problem with what Emily had stated, was that even the irresponsible behaviors should be allowed to have that choice, and I think personally, that is where I’d draw the line.

  100. John:

    Exactly, which is why I applaud that most abortion is still legal.

    I got pregnant at age 18. No one told me that some anti-biotics cancel out the effects of birth control.

    My mother’s first words when I broke the news were “Make him pay for an abortion. You shouldn’t miss out on all the world has to offer!”

    There she stood, looking at her bright daughter who had been accepted into a pre-med program only to throw her entire life away by having a baby.

    I don’t know why, but I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. In my head, even though I was ‘responsible’, I got pregnant because my birth control failed.

    His name is William, and there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t regret the decision I made to go forward with the pregnancy and save school for later.

    Yet, had I chosen the other way, I would have been thankful that I didn’t have to sneak around and pay for something that may have left me and the life that grew inside, dead.

    See my conflict?

    My overall problem with what Emily had stated, was that even the irresponsible behaviors should be allowed to have that choice, and I think personally, that is where I’d draw the line.

  101. There are those, Kate, who would believe that YOU were irresponsible for relying on a drug that you did not entirely understand. (I am not one of those people, but I’m trying to make the point.)

    Do you see? Your line of “responsible enough to deserve an abortion” is impossible to control, and impossible to legislate. And that’s why it can’t become a factor.

  102. I’m not sure I can contribute anything other than this observation: Usually, the same people who are so pro-life are also pro-war. So they are all about keeping the fetus alive at all costs, regardless of the effect on human life, then letting it out into the world and doing nothing for it when it’s out of the womb, except prep it for being shipped off to Iraq or wherever so it can supposedly die for our beliefs.

    People are weird.

  103. Same, Pete, Alex… or anyone else
    A data question or two for you*:

    What do you understand to be the natural maternal mortality rate** from pregancy and childbirth? What’s the first number that comes into your head? 1/2? 1/20? 1/200? 1/2,000? 1/20,000? 1/200,000?

    To rephrase this: what percent of pregnant women get a condition that requires medical intervention, where no medical intervention can lead to an adverse outcome?

    Another question- When (roughly) did C-sections became part of maternal medical treatment?
    —–
    * I’m asking this here because I’ve been meaning to ask somewhere, but it takes a calm and polite thread to be able to ask without (hopefully) sounding like it’s a trick question. Would people other than medical historians be expected to know this?

    ** “Natural” meaning raw statistics about medicine. i.e. X% of pregnant women get condition Y, and Z% of people with Y can die without medical treatment.

  104. Dear President Bush, Supreme Court and Internet whackjobs.

    Please stay out of my uterus. I can make decisions about my body and my ability to use to bear children.

    Thank you

  105. If an IDX procedure saves one woman’s life – ONE – what do the statistics matter? If it’s a safe medical procedure that saves a life, a doctor should legally be allowed to consider and perform it.

    So unless those statistics say ZERO – irrelevant.

  106. Am I the only woman on the planet though, that was taught that having sex could possibly result in pregnancy?

    Yes, Kate. Only you. No one else was ever told this, we just woke up in shock one day to find that we had children.

    For someone who claims to be “grateful” for choice, you’re awfully judgemental of women who make a choice that’s different from yours.

  107. These figures are from 2000.

    http://www.who.int/reproductive-health/publications/maternal_mortality_2000/

    The actual mortality rate in the US is 17/100,000 live births, but as for the natural rate?

    In Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, the maternal mortality rate is close to 2,000/100,000 – or 1 in 50. Given that there isn’t much of a medical infrastructure in those countries, the ‘natural’ MMR is probably somewhere around there.

    As for C-sections – check out wikipedia – its been steadily increasing for the last hundred years or so, and the first case where the mother survived was (I think) in about 1500. Or are you asking about elective c-sections?

  108. If a procedure that saves a life also takes a life, there doesn’t seem to me to be an easy, no-brainer answer.

    Someday, the world will have Bujoldian uterine replicators and the question will be moot, but that day is a long time off.

  109. If a procedure that saves a life also takes a life, there doesn’t seem to me to be an easy, no-brainer answer.

    Someday, the world will have Bujoldian uterine replicators and the question will be moot, but that day is a long time off.

  110. Peer-

    1) “takes a life” depends on how you view a fetus. Since that is not well defined, nor well established, nor well agreed upon – you shouldn’t be making laws based on an opinion.

    2) Regardless – If a procedure saves a life and takes a life, I prefer it to having 2 lives lost because the procedure was unavailable.

  111. I’m not making the law, but it is my opinion that a very large number of laws are passed based on (informed) opinion, and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. I think society would grind to a standstill if decisions based on opinions were not allowed.

    To say saving one life is better than losing two does count as a pretty good argument in my book.

  112. I’m not making the law, but it is my opinion that a very large number of laws are passed based on (informed) opinion, and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. I think society would grind to a standstill if decisions based on opinions were not allowed.

    To say saving one life is better than losing two does count as a pretty good argument in my book.

  113. OK Peer, perhaps my first statement was too general – fair enough. Laws must be passed on opinion – but shouldn’t there at least be general consensus? Shouldn’t the information informing opinions be from reputable sources?

    If you look into the Congressional hearings on the IDX stuff – there’s equally sized sides. But one side is filled with experts from the field (Like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who say IDX is a necessary medical procedure at times) and generalists (doctors who are not obgyns, PhD medical personnel, etc). While both sides are “professionals” and “experts” – seems to me one side is more “expert” than the other.

    BUT if both sides seemed to be reputable and of equal weight – I as a lawmaker could not justify outlawing a procedure that half the expert community says is necessary. If they came to general consensus, one way or the other, that is when I would be comfortable passing a law.

  114. > So they are all about keeping the fetus
    > alive at all costs, regardless of the effect
    > on human life, then letting it out into the
    > world and doing nothing for it when it’s out
    > of the womb, except prep it for being shipped
    > off to Iraq.

    High Five Chang!

  115. Somehow I seem to have misspelled my own name. Bizarre. (I was wondering why people were leaving the t out… D’oh…)

    I have not looked into this particular law. I’m a bit confused about how the law can have an exception but also say it will never need to be applied.

    Does anyone here know enough about constitutional law to explain why, if a law does not have an exception the Court feels is necessary, their only option is to strike down the entire law?

  116. Well John. you’ve really opened up a can of worms here!!! One thing I haven’t really seen mentioned much up to this point is the push by some groups to force abstinence only (ignorance only) ‘education’ in our public schools.
    I truly believe that accurate, honest, timely education is the BEST way to help prevent unwanted pregnancies and thus, reducing the number of women seeking abortions.
    Oh, and honestly, is there anything the government regulates that it DOESN’T muck up? Do we really want it to have so much to say about such a private concern?

  117. Sorry for jumping back in so late in the game — I was out enjoying my day off.

    Alex R, if you’re still reading: If we don’t distinguish between ‘life’ and ‘potential life’, i.e. something that can survive outside the womb vs something that can’t, what’s to prevent an even larger grab?

    Why stop at outlawing abortion — the unfertilized egg and its sperm counterpart have the possibility to become a person too, so let’s demand that every female of child-bearing age be kept in a perpetual state of pregnancy. Yes, I’m being facetious. But we already have certain religions deeming that contraception is a sin, so it’s not far from being true.

    If I go to Wal-Mart and buy a box with a picture of a bookcase on it, chances are what’s in the box is not a bookcase but rather a bunch of parts that has the potential to become a bookcase. Until I get my tools out and put the parts together and stand the result up in the corner it really isn’t a bookcase. I could just as easily take all the parts and throw them on a bonfire, at which point they become firewood.

    My point is, a fetus is just a clump of cells with the potential to become a human being. Until it grows large enough and devloped enough to live outside the womb it is no more alive than a clump of cancer cells growing out of control would be.

  118. Peter-
    They have no other option. If any part of a law is unconstitutional, the entire law is unconstitutional. The Judicial branch is not in the business of writing or modifying laws – they are only allowed to judge whether or not the laws are “legal”.

    The President has a slightly different function – no President can write laws, but the President can decide that a law is no good for any reason. The President can then veto – what you suggest is a line-item veto, which has repeatedly been judged unconstitutional – it would enable the President to write law.

  119. While I believe that society exists to protect those who cannot protect themselves, I’m not sure it makes any sense to speak of the “rights” of an unborn entity. What rights does a fetus have? When do they start? It would seem clear that there is a convention of increasing a person’s rights with age, but our culture certainly does not give full rights to those under the age of 18 (and it would appear that many rights that children may have had are in the process of being eroded: see recent decisions regarding schools and the First and Fourth Amendments).

    I don’t ask this casually or with a clear answer in mind, but there is a crucial point here: I’m not sure when a child is imbued with rights, but I can take it as a given that an adult has rights. And there is a post-Enlightenment and modern Constitutional trend of including some form of self-determination within that sphere of rights.

    I don’t want to take this too far and say that individuals and society have no duty to the young: I don’t believe that. (And, since our host mentioned his background in language, let me offer that I’m an assistant public defender, and that I’m basically in charge of juvenile cases in our office: I’ve probably spent more time professionally advocating children’s rights than most folks posting here.) But I cringe whenever I hear someone talking about a fetus’ “rights.” To speech? Assembly? To an fair day’s wage for an honest day’s work? Society’s duty to a fetus: okay, I can work with that. Where do we draw the line between a communal duty and what has to be taken as a woman’s self-evident right to control her body (because without some such right, she has no right to speak or be safe from seizure). Fetal rights? Lost me.

    I would prefer that abortions never happened or had to happen. But, since the issue of an adult’s rights are far clearer than questions of social duty or the status of a potential human, I have to err on the side of the entity that clearly has human rights–I don’t see any rational option other than being pro-choice, even if it’s emotionally exhausting.

    There: my opinion and $5.00 might get you a grande latte somewhere. Still, hope it casts a light somewhere out there….

  120. Missy:

    Please look up sarcasm in the dictionary. I think you actually replied in the tone. I’ve already apologized for my comment. However, if you insist, I will do it a second time. I am sorry for being sarcastic on such a serious subject.

    As far as being judgmental of women who have not made the same choice;

    No. I’m judgmental of women who use abortion as birth control. If you make reckless choices, have sex with people without any protection, and then go crying to a clinic when you find yourself pregnant, I can’t agree with that.

    What is so terribly wrong with having a moral stance, making my own choice, and being tolerant and accepting of those who choose differently. Not once have I said that I hated people who have abortions. Not once have I said I despise people for making a choice that I couldn’t.

    What I am saying is that I will draw the line at irresponsible behavior as defined above as unacceptable grounds for having an abortion. This is my belief.

    The best part about this whole discussion, is your right to believe whatever you wish and you know what, I respect it, even though I may not agree with it.

  121. Kate-
    While I can see your point, it falls apart – many people make reckless choices, but one of the most important things is that we minimize the danger to others because of those reckless choices.

    If we deny your reckless woman an abortion – because she recklessly was pregnant – we force her to have a child that she clearly is not prepared for (we can see how reckless she is – not a good Mom trait). Isn’t that harming that child, maybe forever?

    If a person is drunk and kills someone while driving, society and the law takes steps to see that they don’t harm others any more than they already have. Forcing someone who doesn’t want a child to have one is like sentencing that reckless driver to be drunk at all times and force them to drive with people on the road – the made the choice to drive drunk and now we’re gonna force them to do it, everyone else’s safety be damned. Sure, everyone else might live – or she might screw up even more lives.

  122. Kate: Would you deny AIDS drugs to junkies who shared a dirty needle? Or bypass surgery for someone who spent his life eating red meat?

    I would guess that most medical procedures are about reversing the effects of peoples’ bad choices. Should that stop?

  123. Since everybody here seems to at least be in favor of a “life of the mother” exemption, let me pose a question. Just how in danger does the mother’s life have to be, and how imminently?

    Does she get to have an abortion if her risk of death is 80%? How about if it’s 20%? What if it’s a 5% chance of death, but an 80% chance of severe medical consequences? Where is that line drawn and who gets to draw it? And how? -considering that very few medical conditions come with predictive percentages that precise.

    No pregnancy is without medical risk. I had two children while an ideal candidate – young, but not too young, healthy, no medical problems at all, mother and grandmother had children easily. I nearly died with each pregnancy for two very different reasons. Something as simple as having my second child at the same hospital where I had my first would have made that second birth fatal.

    Now I have several medical conditions. None of them would necessarily mean that a pregnancy would harm me, but any of them could. Who gets to decide if I or anyone should carry an unwanted pregnancy? Who gets to decide what level of risk is acceptable for a complete stranger they never meet?

    As should be obvious, my answer is only the woman whose body it is can decide how much she is willing to risk to take a pregnancy to term.

  124. Good point cephyn:

    Unfortunately, I can not offer a logical way to get around that problem. Unless while forcing a woman to give birth then give that baby to someone who actually does want the child.

    Before you all jump on me for that last statement, I realize that will never happen, not to mention cephyn is completely right. Reckless does not equal ‘good mommy.’

    I don’t have an answer. Perhaps there is no way around it, but I don’t have to like it do I?

    Perhaps better education on programs resources available will help curb that particular problem.

  125. John:

    I know your mind is made up about abortion, so I won’t try too hard to convince you otherwise.

    I would suggest that a nuanced approach to abortion is possible. An early term abortion, fine, let’s keep those legal. But late term abortions are, I believe, dangerously close to infanticide.

    The pro-abortion radicals remind me of the gun-nuts, who also believe that a nuanced approach to a complex issue isn’t permissible. As you are probably aware, the NRA believes that if we restrict AK-47s today, then we are going to come for Bubba’s bird gun tomorrow. Most of us know better.

    Likewise, the radical pro-abortion faction believes that *any* restriction on abortion will automatically lead to banning *all* of them.

  126. No. I’m judgmental of women who use abortion as birth control.

    Please do not make the mistake of thinking that only contraceptives = birth control. Abortion IS birth control – it controls birth.

    If you make reckless choices, have sex with people without any protection, and then go crying to a clinic when you find yourself pregnant, I can’t agree with that.

    So your actual position is “I’m grateful that women have a choice, but only as long as they behave in a manner that’s acceptable to me. Otherwise, they should be punished!”

    Please take the “reckless sex” straw man out back and burn it. A third of abortions are performed on MARRIED women, and more than half of women who choose abortion were using contraceptives.

  127. John H: Apples and oranges depending on which side of the fence you sit. I am horribly uncomfortable tiptoeing on the top.

    For those that believe life begins at conception, you are dealing with the whole issue that you’re not doing something to yourself at that point, you’re killing another life.

    For those that believe that life is begins when it is viable outside the womb, you are dealing with people who believe they are performing an abortion on a bunch of cells.

    For someone who’s had three children,I’m someone who believes that there is life in the womb, which dictates my personal choice in the matter.

    Like I said many many times before, I don’t hate people who get abortions. There are some reasons that people get them that I don’t agree with, but alas, there is nothing I can offer for a substitute, except a better education on the possible ‘side effects’ of sex.

    Alas, I think I’m done replying since I keep repeating my stance, but everyone wants to label me as a strictly pro-life hypocrite. I thought I was coming across as a moderate in the situation.

  128. Peer,
    I’m hoping that someone, or a few people, will first say what they think the number is (without reading Tor’s stats, perhaps).
    As a corollary:
    Greg, do you happen to know, off the top of your head:
    1. When preeclampsia/eclampsia starts?
    2. What treatment(s) stops eclampsia?

  129. First of all, hello John. I read about your blog in “Geek Monthly” (heh), and I’m glad I stopped by, as you’ve got some interesting stuff going on over here. I’ll be a regular visitor.

    Now, as far as this particular post on the Supreme Court’s decision…I have to say, I’m not entirely disappointed. I’m 27 years old. When I was in high school and early college, I was adamantly “pro-life” – no ifs, ands, or buts. I’ve since come to hate stupid labels like “pro-life” (as if people who support abortion staying legal are against life) or “pro-choice” (as if all people who are against abortion are against having a choice), and my once black & white view of the issue has now become more grey. While I’m still against abortion, I don’t know that I would want it to be completely illegal. However, I support this particular decision for pregnancies that are this far along, because as with any other medical procedure there need to be limits. We can’t have an abortion free-for-all. Personally, I’m much more interested putting my energy into fighting for equal access to birth control and reproductive health education so that abortions might not be so necessary…it alarms me that I’m always made to feel out of place whenever I attend a “women’s reproductive health/rights” event because I don’t believe in abortion. I hate the idea that one has to support all or nothing.

  130. Since the owner of this blog is a fan of Carl Sagan, I hope that he will not take amiss this linking to an essay by that worthy (and his wife, Ann Druyan). This is the most thoughtful essay I’ve ever seen on the topic being argued.

    http://www.2think.org/abortion.shtml

    It’s kind of long, but very worthwhile.

  131. I largely fall in with Teresa.

    It’s a tough call, but I (at least at present) believe that human life begins at birth to a not-insignificant degree and that such life is deserving of some pretty rigorous protections. I do not believe in a ban on abortion, but on serious limitations.

    I also think that legislatures seem to have a very tough time getting this one “right,” and most of their proposed legislation falls far short of the mark and begs to be invalidated.

    I just happen to throw that “unborn bundle of human cells” in with others who cannot protect themselves and deserve special consideration.

    I also have two children of my own, and would in no way minimize the difficulty and pain of childbirth and child-raising.

    I also abhor capital punishment in most currently accepted circumstances.

    Life vs. liberty is always a tough call.

    And, I always love a good debate.

  132. I believe that it IS taking responsibility, even if others think it’s murder.

    Emily, I guess this is the whole crux of your argument isn’t it? I guess one woman’s “responsibility” is another woman’s murder, eh?

    Your argument that abortion is a responsible choice is poorly framed. You state that it is “rough” to be pregnant. Wah. (That’s right…it’s the same sound a baby makes when it’s upset, but I don’t suppose you would be moved by it.) It is rough to be pregnant, but you aren’t you own person at that point. You pound your chest and say: “It’s my body!” So it is. But guess what? You now have a guest; that growing human life didn’t choose to be placed there. Your body, which was once your own, is now shared by another human. It was an accident of evolution or providence (take your pick) and for better or worse, you are now responsible for it. (That ugly “R” word again…) This isn’t a punishment for your sexuality, but it is a consequence of making love.

    This hits especially close to home for me. I have a six-week old son now, and I watched my wife go through the blossoming of pregnancy. I can say that despite the hormonal changes, the gaining weight, and the associated complications, she had never been happier in her life, or more beautiful. Sorry, Emily, but your arugment really doesn’t hold water with me.

    Being responsible means seeing that this child makes it through a full term, barring endangering your life (notice the caveat here). Once the baby is born, feel free to give the child up for adoption. In our society, your “responsibility” can end there if you want. The cases of babies ending up in trash cans are extreme. (As an aside, keep in mind that abortion is legal and easily obtainable now, yet we still see this type of behavior.) As Kate mentioned, help is readily available to those who decide that they are unfit or unable to keep their infants.

    If none of this sounds appealing, I suggest abstinence or masturbation.

    Frame it as you choose…this is really a matter of conscience and I see little point in continuing to discuss it. All I can do is pity you for what I perceive to be a lack of humanity.

    I mentioned before that I’m not sure the government should have the power to legislate or enforce medical issues such as this. I stand by that statement even after reading the dialogue here. Something deep within me is terribly saddened by what we justify to perpetuate our own selfishness. It is a symptom of a deeper malady, which is that we, as a people, are reluctant to really take reponsibility for our actions. If offered the easy way out, it seems that we’ll take it as a matter of course.

  133. John H. said:
    “If I go to Wal-Mart and buy a box with a picture of a bookcase on it, chances are what’s in the box is not a bookcase but rather a bunch of parts that has the potential to become a bookcase. Until I get my tools out and put the parts together and stand the result up in the corner it really isn’t a bookcase. I could just as easily take all the parts and throw them on a bonfire, at which point they become firewood.

    My point is, a fetus is just a clump of cells with the potential to become a human being. Until it grows large enough and devloped enough to live outside the womb it is no more alive than a clump of cancer cells growing out of control would be.”

    I’ve gone back and forth with this one in my head and heart for a long time…and what I always come back to is: that clump of cells is a human being in its earliest stages of development. Granted, it’s not a fully-functioning, viable human being…but neither is a newborn baby. A newborn baby can breathe, sure, but it can’t feed itself or clothe itself, and if left to its own devices, it will die. Or what about a 3 year old child? What if you have a poor single mother living in a trailer who can’t afford to feed herself and her child? Now what if she decides to kill her child both to spare it an unfortunate life as well as protect herself from starvation? She would be seen as a pariah.

    Whenever I hear people supporting the argument that fetuses aren’t life that deserves protection, I marvel at the fact that location and desire seem to be the only real determining factors. I want this baby to be “alive”. Therefore, it is alive. I don’t want this baby. Therefore, it isn’t alive. There are plenty of things in this world that I don’t want. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    It’s inside the womb and I don’t have to see it. Therefore, it’s not alive. It’s outside the womb, and it’s cute. Therefore I can’t kill it. How is it that some mothers look at an ultrasound photo and call it a “first picture of their baby”, and other mothers look at it and see only “a fetus.” Isn’t it the same “bunch of cells” in both cases? And can it be both things? Should it?

    Many of you worry about the extreme where every woman’s uterus is monitored and they’re forced to be pregnant. I worry about what a lax view of abortion means in terms of our attitude toward human life in general. We live in a world and in a time when we’ve come up with more and more “good reasons” to kill each other. I feel like the sometimes-rabid defense of abortion is symptomatic of that…

  134. John H. said:
    “If I go to Wal-Mart and buy a box with a picture of a bookcase on it, chances are what’s in the box is not a bookcase but rather a bunch of parts that has the potential to become a bookcase. Until I get my tools out and put the parts together and stand the result up in the corner it really isn’t a bookcase. I could just as easily take all the parts and throw them on a bonfire, at which point they become firewood.

    My point is, a fetus is just a clump of cells with the potential to become a human being. Until it grows large enough and devloped enough to live outside the womb it is no more alive than a clump of cancer cells growing out of control would be.”

    I’ve gone back and forth with this one in my head and heart for a long time…and what I always come back to is: that clump of cells is a human being in its earliest stages of development. Granted, it’s not a fully-functioning, viable human being…but neither is a newborn baby. A newborn baby can breathe, sure, but it can’t feed itself or clothe itself, and if left to its own devices, it will die. Or what about a 3 year old child? What if you have a poor single mother living in a trailer who can’t afford to feed herself and her child? Now what if she decides to kill her child both to spare it an unfortunate life as well as protect herself from starvation? She would be seen as a pariah.

    Whenever I hear people supporting the argument that fetuses aren’t life that deserves protection, I marvel at the fact that location and desire seem to be the only real determining factors. I want this baby to be “alive”. Therefore, it is alive. I don’t want this baby. Therefore, it isn’t alive. There are plenty of things in this world that I don’t want. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    It’s inside the womb and I don’t have to see it. Therefore, it’s not alive. It’s outside the womb, and it’s cute. Therefore I can’t kill it. How is it that some mothers look at an ultrasound photo and call it a “first picture of their baby”, and other mothers look at it and see only “a fetus.” Isn’t it the same “bunch of cells” in both cases? And can it be both things? Should it?

    Many of you worry about the extreme where every woman’s uterus is monitored and they’re forced to be pregnant. I worry about what a lax view of abortion means in terms of our attitude toward human life in general. We live in a world and in a time when we’ve come up with more and more “good reasons” to kill each other. I feel like the sometimes-rabid defense of abortion is symptomatic of that…

  135. Your body, which was once your own, is now shared by another human.

    No. Women do not lose their right to bodily integrity merely by dint of becoming pregnant. We’re not incubators with feet, Pete. We’re fully formed human beings and we have the right to do with our bodies as we please. Including ridding ourselves of unwanted “guests”.

    If none of this sounds appealing, I suggest abstinence or masturbation.

    And yet, I’ve never heard a man do anything but whine if he’s presented this same choice by a woman who doesn’t want to have sex with him because she doesn’t want to take the chance of conceiving his child. Funny, that.

  136. I have no idea what the stats on this are – but the genesis of this discussion was late term partial birth abortion, rather than a debate on abortion rights in general.

    I wonder what percentage of last trimester abortions could be considered “elective” and what percentage medically necessary – either for the health of the mother or to resolve the death of a fetus?

    My bet is that the proportion of elective abortions is vanishingly small at that point in pregnancy.

    And at that point, when life is at stake and/or the fetus is dead, I’m not sure I’m all that worried about the method. What is safest for the mother? What’s going to cause the least pain?

    I’m not sure I consider the “ick factor” a valid decision criteria.

  137. Pete, congratulations on your son. I’m glad your wife had a good pregnancy – but please don’t think that even all normal, otherwise healthy, pregnancies are well tolerated. I can introduce you to three women who had hyperemesis gravida (throwing up to the point of requiring hospitalization for nutrition and fluids), two with a separation of the pubic symphysis and loosened hip joints (severe hip and pelvic pain with every step, or even standing), half-a-dozen who were put on bedrest for weeks or more…I could go on. As it happens, all of these were wanted pregnancies, the women did their best with what they had, and all the resultant children were healthy. Nonetheless, I would have a very hard time regarding an unwanted pregnancy of this kind as straight-up torture.

    That’s part of why comparing a fetus in utero to a born child of whatever age is disingenuous. There is no circumstance in which a parent must submit to involuntary physical torture to permit their child to live. In fact, we explicitly disallow it. Show me the law where a father whose a match with his sick child must donate an organ and I might start conceding some comparative value.

  138. No. Women do not lose their right to bodily integrity merely by dint of becoming pregnant. We’re not incubators with feet, Pete. We’re fully formed human beings and we have the right to do with our bodies as we please. Including ridding ourselves of unwanted “guests”.

    I agree, women are not incubators with feet. They are quite frankly the better half of the human race, even with they display a penchant for the irrational as you just did. If my sister-in-law overstays her welcome, I’m not allowed by law to make a corpse out of her and use a big vacuum cleaner to suck the resulting pieces into the street. Likewise, your guest deserves the same from you. All he/she needs is a little consideration and hospitality.

    I’ve never heard a man do anything but whine if he’s presented this same choice by a woman who doesn’t want to have sex with him because she doesn’t want to take the chance of conceiving his child. Funny, that.

    Sounds like you hang out with some really high quality guys. The thing that no one talks about here is that the father is EQUALLY responsible for a fetus. No one ever talks about that, though. I would even go as far as to say that the father has input into the decision to abort or carry to term. After all, it IS half of his genetic material.

  139. Glah – that’ll teach me to proof-read better. That should read “Nonetheless, I would have a very hard time regarding an unwanted pregnancy of this kind as anything but straight-up torture.”

  140. I find the continued assumption that making the choice to have an abortion is “easier” than making the choice not to? Is it? Is there any basis for that assertion? I’m not in a position to say which of those choices is easier, although my experience is that not making a choice sometimes appears easier, at least in the short term–which might explain those occasional tragedies where a girl carries to term and then abandons the newborn in a garbage can or ladies’ room.

    Personally, I think it’s reprehensible and lacking in any kind of empathy to state that what must be an awful and traumatic choice is “easy.” Perhaps it is, perhaps it isn’t… but it says a great deal to me that I’m grateful I’ll never have to make such a choice for myself.

    The assumption that girls or women who choose to have abortions face that choice because of their own conduct is also reprehensible. The fact that some of these “mothers” are victims of rape is not trivial and should never be set aside (including familial rape; “rape or incest” seems a redundant formulation). A ban on abortion except in the case of medical emergency means telling a victim that she must continue to suffer for the crimes committed against her; by all means let us protect something which may-or-may-not-be-human at her continued expense. Perhaps she can even take comfort in having been violated when she delivers her happy bundle of joy; better yet if the child looks like the father!

    Part of the problem with assigning an unborn cluster of human cells with “rights” is that one can certainly follow that with absurd arguments. Perhaps masturbation is a criminal offense: that’s certainly one common way the story of Onan is read, although I’ve seen some lovely attempts to talk around that interpretation. Perhaps fertility doctors should be prosecuted? “Potential human” is too vague a phrase for me to sleep comfortably with, sorry, it applies to too many combinations of cells that just happen to contain human DNA.

    As for labels: those who oppose allowing a woman the option of undergoing an abortion are against choice, even if they’re morally correct in doing so. The lie is in claiming that those who would support a woman’s choice prefer death to life; hence “pro-life” is abusive and “pro-choice” is accurate. A better nomenclature might be “pro-choice” and “anti-abortion,” but “pro-life” is far too powerful a rhetorical posture.

  141. Pete, Missy said nothing irrational. Way to be insulting.

    If your sister-in-law overstays her welcome by hooking herself up to your internal organs to sustain her own life, you’re still entitled to evict her, even if it results in her death. Because she would be violating your bodily integrity. Simple.

    I would even go as far as to say that the father has input into the decision to abort or carry to term. After all, it IS half of his genetic material.

    But it’s not occupying his body. If it were, it would be his decision whether to keep it there or not. Again, simple.

  142. Safe, legal, and rare.
    Like Kate (and some others, I think), I have been pregnant, gone through child-birth, and love my children. But here’s another deal. . . . Between children, I had two miscarriages. Some may not know this, but a miscarriage is also called an abortion. In my case, an incomplete abortion. That means, the dead fetus, or parts of it, remained in me.

    In both cases, medical intervention was needed. Unfortunately, because anti-abortion activists had forced the only doctor who could safely do therapeutic abortions out of the state, I was forced to go to another state, an expensive and exhausting trip considering how ill I was, to obtain this necessary care after my second miscarriage. A good thing I could afford it, too. I had to entrust my care to a doctor I had never met before, but fortunately he was competent. My youngest child was born the next year. Without that doctor, she might not have been born.

    So now you know more about my personal life than you probably wanted to. But the point is, women have abortions for many reasons. Pregnancy and child-birth are inherently dangerous and difficult; and if abortions are not available, women die, and they die at a higher rate. No woman should be forced to carry a dead fetus to term or risk her life having unnecessary surgery. She should not be forced to have a child, nor should she be told she cannot have one.

    May a woman have control of her own fertility or not? If she does not, the State or Religion does. The anti-choice position trivializes women’s abilities and decisions by saying that they are not capable of understanding what they are doing or making difficult choices.

  143. If your sister-in-law overstays her welcome by hooking herself up to your internal organs to sustain her own life, you’re still entitled to evict her, even if it results in her death. Because she would be violating your bodily integrity. Simple.

    By that logic, shouldn’t all abortions be legal, for any reason? Eight month, seventh month, sixth month? Whenever?

    -Daniel B.

  144. Incidentally, it’s nice to go away for a number of hours (because of a dinner party for my wife’s birthday), and come back and seeing everyone having a good and spirited and civil discussion on a hot button topic without me having to play referee.

    Thanks, everyone.

  145. Seems I’m a little late to the game. Considering how exhaustively this issue has been discussed, both here and at large, I had thought to refrain from saying anything. But some peoples’ comments pushed me to respond.
    One idea that hasn’t been brought up: why can’t this be left to the states? It seems a lot less people would be unhappy this way. I think it’s safe to say a disproportionate percent of the populace is pro-choice in Massachussetts than, say, Alabama. Being a pro-lifer (and staunch states rightist), I’m against Roe v. Wade, but I’ll also note that I’m equally opposed to any federal “Human Life Amendment”.
    As for my personal opinions regarding the status of a fetus, when the issue of it’s humanity/personhood is raised, my initial response is always: What else can it be? It’s not a fish, it’s not a toad, it’s not a kangaroo. To my mind the only reasonable circumstances in which abortion ought to be permissible is if carrying it to term will result in the mother’s death *and* the pregnancy was begot by rape or is unviable (e.g. hydatidiform mole). Otherwise, you’ve already exercised your choice; give it up for adoption (as Mr. Scalzi once noted, “Bring on the tax credits!”)
    It seems that both sides of the argument have a propensity to frame the debate in terms that are most favourable to their side (God’s will, my body my choice, etc.), dancing around the true crux of the issue which is: is the fetus a human being (or, in less definable terms, a person)? Resolve this, and there’s very little grey area left. Of course, I doubt the answer to such a question ever CAN be unanimously agreed upon (which is why I think it should be left to the states).
    Speaking of which, several people stated that laws ought not to based on opinion (ie, a fetus is a human), and that therefore abortion should be legal. But is not the current situation just as much predicated on opinion (ie, that a fetus is NOT human)?
    Also noted was that many conservatives seem to be hypocrites for being pro-life but for the death penalty. While I’m personally torn on the death penalty (both on its efficacy and morality), as someone noted above, a distinction might be drawn b/w innocent life and non. Having said that, those who adhere to the Consistent Life Ethic (pro-life, anti-death penalty, pacifist) I have always esteemed the most.
    Someone raised the interesting point that if abortion is murder, then a miscarriage would be manslaughter/some sort of crime. Wouldn’t it rather fall under “accidental death”?
    Finally, it was suggested (whether facetiously or not, I don’t know) that only women ought to be able to vote on abortion’s legality. Whether or not one can get pregnant is irrelevant to the validity of one’s viewpoint regarding abortion. This is a near textbook case of special pleading.
    That was kind of a potpouri of arguments there. At least food for thought I hope.

  146. “The thing that no one talks about here is that the father is EQUALLY responsible for a fetus.”

    No one mentions it because it’s demonstrably untrue. If I casually sleep with a woman, and she gets pregnant, I can always shrug and walk away. Depending on how determined she is (and how much money she has), she may well be able to try and hit me with legal proceedings. But I can then go to Mexico (or wherever). Point being, men can choose not to be responsible for the fetus. Women can’t.

  147. Daniel, yes. They should be.

    Hmmm. Thank you for being honest. To be clear then, your argument is for unfettered rights to abortion, regardless of the (good) health of the baby and mother, at any point during pregnancy. With no restrictions?

    -Daniel B.

  148. Suzanne M:
    “If your sister-in-law overstays her welcome by hooking herself up to your internal organs to sustain her own life, you’re still entitled to evict her, even if it results in her death. Because she would be violating your bodily integrity. Simple.”

    For the analogy to be truly apt, would not his sister-in-law’s hooked-up status would have to be the result of Pete’s doing in the first place? What then?

  149. They are quite frankly the better half of the human race, even with they display a penchant for the irrational as you just did.

    Don’t be an asshole, Pete. Just because I don’t care to allow someone else jurisdiction over MY body, doesn’t meant I’m irrational. It means I DEMAND my gods given right to bodily integrity, whether you think I should have it or not.

    No one – not you, not anyone – gets to force me to put my health and life in danger. Only I get to make that decision.

    Sounds like you hang out with some really high quality guys.

    Right. Because you’re a paragon of manhood and have never felt hurt and whined when told “Nope. Go masturbate.” Spare me. No one is that perfect.

    If your wife told you tomorrow that she never wanted to have sex again because nothing is as effective as abstinence or masturbation, can you honestly say that you wouldn’t mind? Are you such a “high quality” guy that you’d agree to a mariage blanc without protest?

    I very much doubt it.

    For the record, we were in the position of having to choose many years ago. We were dead-ass broke, barely making rent, suffering in a shitty job market…and the condom broke.

    Our choice is named Alexander. He’s fifteen years old, first chair cellist in his school’s orchestra, a talented aspiring chef, a light and joy in my life and probably the biggest pain in the ass of a teenager ever known to mankind. It’s rough when your kid is a genius.

    He’s got a little brother, too. A violinist, guitarist, and future benevolent dictator. That one, I nearly died birthing. I had a stroke on the table. The little guy occasionally apologizes for that when the now and then brain fart sets in. It amuses all of us.

    I don’t regret having my children. I actively CHOSE them. And I know that today, should by some failure of the hubby’s urologist and my pharmaceutical maker I should catch pregnant, I’d abort. I have my own (poor) health to consider, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to leave my living children motherless because someone else can’t grasp the full magnitude of what carrying a pregnancy to term really means.

  150. Missy,

    At this point if neither you or your husband didnt want to have kids anymore you can either get something tied or he can get something snipped no need to be overly dramatic. There should be no reason for you to have an abortionm. At least that applies for THAT example that you provided.

  151. Amitava D., “As for my personal opinions regarding the status of a fetus, when the issue of it’s humanity/personhood is raised, my initial response is always: What else can it be? It’s not a fish, it’s not a toad, it’s not a kangaroo. ”

    Again, I’m waiting to hear the argument how an acorn is an oak tree. An embryo, which the fetus is a stage, isn’t the actual animal. So much so we have different words for them (seed, egg, zygot, embryo, etc). To say the fetus is fully human is to ignore the majority of human history, and the science of biology, which is embeded in our language to discuss the issue.

    “Someone raised the interesting point that if abortion is murder, then a miscarriage would be manslaughter/some sort of crime. Wouldn’t it rather fall under “accidental death”?”

    Accidental death is a civil law term. If we are discussing it that way, why would we then charge the doctors with a criminal offense for performing the abortion? The criminal offense is murder to manslaughter. If the choice is made by the woman, why would we punish the doctor with the crime? It’s not like doctors are going around rounding up pregnant women and giving the abortions (although, the US has forced some women to accept birthcontrol both by surgery and by implants, just ask your local native american or mentally handicapped person about that).

    Daniel B. Yes and yes. Safe, available, and rare.

    As for the sister-in-law hooking herself into your organs argument. If this was done, you have every right to protect yourself as your sister-in-law would be threatening your life. This, of course, isn’t willing organ donation, which is commendable.

  152. Missy:
    “I don’t care to allow someone else jurisdiction over MY body”
    Well, now, see that there’s the whole divergence of understanding. I don’t think any pro-lifers (well, most at least) would say they want to deny you the right to control your own body. What they would contest is the idea that your body alone is what’s involved; they see another person’s body as being involved as well. Which goes back to the heart of the issue…is a fetus a human being? I believe it is; you believe it isn’t. Given what science has found at this point, neither opinion can unequivocally be stated as fact. Til that time comes (if ever), the most that can be achieved in the current situation is for the law to favour one belief over the other.

  153. Analogies like the life support one get strained quickly.

    If I’ve got a slightly uncomfortable 8 pound life support device strapped to me for 6 months that is somehow keeping my brother-in-law alive without presenting any immediate obvious danger to myself, and I rip it off, then yes…I would think that would be akin to murder. If not legally, then certainly morally.

    If it was a painful, bed-ridden situation, then maybe not….

    Pregnancy can run the course between both extremes.

    Another very strained analogy—I’m holding my 2 year old in the pool, I suddenly decide to exercise my rights to control of my own body and drop him to sink to the bottom. They’re my arms, right?

    The truth is, it’s impossible to come up with an analogy that fits the unique physical and ethical challenges of pregnancy. It pits personal integrity against moral obligations to other humans. Any workable answer has to take both factors into account. Compromises must be made.

  154. John Scalzi, “Hate to say it, but I know at least one kid born post-vascetomy. Even that’s not 100%.”

    I know another. The guy even trotted out the medical bills (they kept separate books and accounts) to prove it to his wife (she’s the one we know in the couple).

  155. Steve Bucheit:

    “To say the fetus is fully human is to ignore the majority of human history, and the science of biology, which is embeded in our language to discuss the issue.”
    The line has to be drawn somewhere. To me, the most non-arbitrary is the point of conception (though I’d be willing to live with “a heart and a brain” or something to that effect). After all, there have been “successful” abortions in which the fetus survived and grew to adulthood.

    “If we are discussing it that way, why would we then charge the doctors with a criminal offense for performing the abortion? The criminal offense is murder to manslaughter. If the choice is made by the woman, why would we punish the doctor with the crime?”
    Uh…say again? If I’m not much mistaken, miscarriages happen, they aren’t performed by physicians. And if I understand your query correctly, I imagine the doctor would be charged as an accessory to murder.

  156. Steve Bucheit:

    Yes and yes. Safe, available, and rare.

    Why rare? Abortions are safe procedures done early. If you are giving no nod to the fetus as “human being with rights” at any gestational point (which from your answer to my question seems to be the case), then shouldn’t abortion be a legitimate form of birth control for those opting for it?

    What is your rationale for desiring it to be rare? Should condoms be rare? Birth control pills?

  157. At this point if neither you or your husband didnt want to have kids anymore you can either get something tied or he can get something snipped no need to be overly dramatic.

    Sam, do go back and attempt to READ what was written.

    He’s snipped and I’m on the pill – the latter for reasons of my own health, not contraception. Theoretically, I shouldn’t need the pill for contraception, given that hubby went off and got snipped. But vasectomies sometimes reverse themselves. Rare, but it happens.

    There should be no reason for you to have an abortionm. At least that applies for THAT example that you provided.

    Who are you to decide that, knowing exactly nothing about the state of my health?

    My life is more important to me and to my already existing children than the so-called “life” of a blastocyst. I’ve already nearly died once, that was plenty.

    You go ahead and carry one to term if you like. I won’t try to stop you.

  158. Missy,

    If you want to talk about God-given rights, you’ve made a dire mistake from your perspective. No one, let alone God, gives us any “rights.” We give those to ourselves, keeping in mind that there are consequences for every action that we take in accordance with our “rights”. Bringing God into the equation, at least from a Judeo-Christian perspective, sort of removes your “right” to bodily integrity.

    Notice that in all of my discussion to date I have had the caveat that doctors (and their patients) should have the freedom to determine if the mother’s health is in jeopardy. If so, pull the plug. Do what you can to maximize the survival chances of everyone involved in the situation, up to and including aborting a fetus. I certainly don’t dispute that by any means. Anything less is terribly foolish. My original post in this thread expresses that very notion.

    What I find laudable are comments like “bodily integrity” or “a woman’s right to choose.” The act of sex violates your body’s integrity (hopefully willingly), and as I mentioned before, there are consequences of this activity. You say you have the right to choose, but who are the advocates for the critter in your uterus? Does he/she have a right to choose life or oblivion? At least in this discourse, the advocates for the unborn seem to be few and far between.

    This whole discussion basically distills to selfishness. The pro-abortion argument (without restrictions, that is) is phrased in terms of “my,” “me,” and “self.” If you believe in basic altruism…if you believe in the things that make mankind good (or at least, not bad), then it is hard to reconcile such a selfish position with the rest of your viewpoints.

    Perhaps I expect too much. We seem to be increasingly relativistic in our culture and a careteria style of ethics and morality may be perfectly acceptable to many.

    To me, it reeks of hypocrisy and inconsistency.

    Right. Because you’re a paragon of manhood and have never felt hurt and whined when told “Nope. Go masturbate.” Spare me. No one is that perfect.

    Thanks for noticing my paragon status!

    Fortunately, my wife and I have an honest relationship built on mutual respect. Neither of us are petty enough to get our feelings hurt if the other is not interested in a little lovemaking.

  159. Amitiva D:

    “I don’t think any pro-lifers (well, most at least) would say they want to deny you the right to control your own body.”

    It doesn’t matter what they say. What matters what they do. It’s pretty clear that by working assiduously to deny women the right to abortion, many anti-choice folks are actively working to deny women the right to control their bodies. And since many anti-choice folks are equally assiduous in trying to curb access to birth control, this is more evidence that this sort of control is what these folks are seeking.

    “The line has to be drawn somewhere.”

    It is drawn somewhere — see roe v. wade. The problem is that the line is drawn where the anti-choice don’t want it drawn.

    In other news, it hasn’t escaped my notice that the majority of folks taking an anti-choice position here are men, while most of the women here are taking a pro-choice position.

  160. What is your rationale for desiring it to be rare?

    It’s surgery, Daniel, and that carries some risks in and of itself. Bad reaction to anesthetic, accidental perforation of the uterus, hemorrhage, infection…and it’s my understanding that the procedure hurts.

    All that said, you’re still less likely to die from an abortion than you are to die in childbirth.

  161. Amitava D. “To me, the most non-arbitrary is the point of conception (though I’d be willing to live with “a heart and a brain” or something to that effect).”

    To me the most non-arbitrary point is birth or delivery. Our laws define citizenship as “birthright,” we discuss other issues as “by birth.” Why have a second standard for this one issue?

    Again, this law charges the doctor who performs the operation. Is it his choice or premeditation? If not, then why are we charging the doctor with the crime?

    “Accidental death” isn’t a crime, it’s used in civil cases (IANAL, so I could be wrong about this).

    If your standard is that at conception we have a human, and that ending that human life is a crime, then what about all the fertilized eggs that fail to attach to the uterus? Isn’t that a death that isn’t the fault of the egg/human? What about if the child is spontaniously aborted in the 2nd or third trimester or is still born? Shouldn’t this be investigated as a crime then with an coroner’s inquest? What if the pregnant woman isn’t taking care of herself and that leads to the above? Wouldn’t she be guilty of neglect at least? What if she smokes, or has alcohol, isn’t that a crime as well? I mean, she’s abusing that human inside her. Isn’t she? What about all those eggs that are disguarded by birthcontrol pills? Isn’t that a crime then?

    “I imagine the doctor would be charged as an accessory to murder.” What about the woman?

  162. Daniel B. “Why rare? …What is your rationale for desiring it to be rare? Should condoms be rare? Birth control pills?”

    Because invasive surgery should always be the last resort and therefore “rare” when compared to other non-invasive methods.

    And you keep going back to the “abortion=birth control” argument. Abortion is the last option. Please use the others first.

    Secondly, it’s more expensive in both time, money, and physical cost. That is, a woman can’t keep having abortions. Each one weakens the uterine wall and is majorly disruptive to the body.

    This is also why once a woman has a cesarian, she can not have natural child birth again. The other children after the c-section will also have to be c-section, and those pregnancies will be higher risk.

  163. Mr. Scalzi:

    “It doesn’t matter what they say. What matters what they do.”
    Allow me to rephrase myself, then: most pro-lifers don’t believe a woman should be denied control of her own body. They just have different terms for what constitutes a woman’s body; namely, that the fetus isn’t a part of it. In other words, abortion doesn’t directly affect one person, it affects two.

    “It is drawn somewhere — see roe v. wade. The problem is that the line is drawn where the anti-abortionists don’t want it drawn,”

    Exactly! As I said, the law now generally favours the pro-choice side of the playing field. Needless to say, 35 yrs. ago the roles were (somewhat) reversed.

    Really, would not this issue be less divisive if it was left to the states? Of course there would be pro-lifers and pro-choicers who would want to ban and legalize abortion, respectively, across the nation. But by and large I think more people would be satisfied with the status quo.

  164. Political gaming of medical necessity judgement is always worrisome. Nothing I am about to say is at all addressing such cases.

    That said, I am a bit taken aback by some of the sentiments or cavalier attitudes towards the ethics or morality of late term abortions.

    The irony of the mess Roe v. Wade made, and the political polarization that resulted is we have this bizarre situation where we have less restrictive abortion laws than more secular “enlightened” countries.

    We’ve spend enormous amounts of money, resources, and applied technology to combat mortality in premature births. In the process we’ve learned a lot more about fetal development than we knew in 1973.

    The “It’s my body, it’s my choice” argument loses a lot of weight by the second trimester. I don’t understand how it’s remotely conscionable by the third. Once you know you’re pregnant, you are making an implicit choice the longer you remain pregnant.

    I’m curious, does anyone here really think abortions should be allowable by choice (excluding the issue of medical necessity) outside of the first trimester? Or is it purely fear that if 2 and 3 get outlawed 1 is right behind?

    At some point you have to find the ground on which to pick your battles. The way opinion polls seem to be trending, abortion *will* stay legal in the US, however Roe v Wade has needed to go away for a long time. When the dust settles it probably will mean restrictions on timeframe.

    Quick poll question for the women. Lets say you get to vote on a Constitutional amendment enshrining elective abortion rights (just to knock out the fear issue), the only catch is that you do have to pencil in a maximum cut-off time for elective, and “none” or “conception” aren’t options. What would you write in?

  165. Bringing God into the equation, at least from a Judeo-Christian perspective, sort of removes your “right” to bodily integrity.

    Kindly do not correct my spelling or assume that I practice your faith.

    I said “gods given”, not “God given”. I am not Christian, I am Heathen, and my gods say I get to choose my path and defend my own body. The Judeo-Christian god does not get a say in the matter, I do not belong to him.

    Fortunately, my wife and I have an honest relationship built on mutual respect. Neither of us are petty enough to get our feelings hurt if the other is not interested in a little lovemaking.

    Awww, look how cute you are!

    That’s not what I asked.

    You claim that if one does not like having one’s reproductive rights restricted, one should look to only abstinence or masturbation.

    So let’s look there. I’ll ask you again:

    If your wife told you tomorrow that she never wanted to have sex again because nothing is as effective as abstinence or masturbation, can you honestly say that you wouldn’t mind? Are you such a “high quality” guy that you’d agree to a mariage blanc without protest?

    If you’re going to set the standard at “masturbation or abstinence” for others, you ought to be held to the same standard, don’t you think?

  166. John S.:

    It doesn’t matter what they say. What matters what they do. It’s pretty clear that by working assiduously to deny women the right to abortion, many anti-abortion folks are actively working to deny women the right to control their bodies.

    Row v Wade denies women the right to control their bodies too—any restriction on abortion does—that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Supreme Court was/is anti-women’s rights.

    I think your statement here is an argument killer. Awfully close to an “if you’re against abortion, your against women” blanket statement. I think pro-lifers have to be granted the presumption of sincerity in their beliefs regarding the fetal right to life without tacitly accusing them of having ulterior, anti-woman, motivations.

  167. Amitiva D:

    “They just have different terms for what constitutes a woman’s body; namely, that the fetus isn’t a part of it.”

    Saying such is absolute sophistry, however, as the fetus, as a fetus, is not at all independent of the woman’s body. A woman’s right to control her body includes the right to say what’s in it.

    When the anti-choice folks have developed artifical wombs that adequately supplies a fetus with everything it needs to develop and have developed a technique that allows for the seamless and easy transfer of a fetus from a woman’s body into such an artificial womb, then they may begin to have a discussion of a fetus independent of a woman’s body. Until that time, not so much.

    Daniel B:

    “I think pro-lifers have to be granted the presumption of sincerity in their beliefs regarding the fetal right to life without tacitly accusing them of having ulterior, anti-woman, motivations.”

    I don’t deny anti-choice folks are perfectly sincere in their beliefs; the problem is that their belief runs flat up against the right of women to make choices about their own bodies. This really is an argument of whose rights are pre-eminent; those of a fetus, or those of the woman who is carrying it.

    I don’t find your “Roe v. Wade restricts rights” argument particularly compelling, incidentally, although I understand what you are saying with it. One, of course, strictly speaking Roe rather substantially expanded the rights of American women to control their bodies when it went into effect. Two, inasmuch as anti-choice folks find even the graduated steps of Roe intolerable, from a practical matter we’re not discussing some sort of middle ground situation. The endgame for the anti-choice crowd is no abortions, end of story. Ask them; that’s what they’ll tell you. If you want to talk about an “argument killer,” that’s the place to start.

  168. I believe that the best way to prevent abortions is to institute universal healthcare in this country.

    A couple years ago I heard about a study that said that a much greater proportion of blacks than whites had abortions, and the suggestion was that it was being used as a form of birth control. I was a bit offended at the person who told me this, and initially rejected it, but now, I believe it makes perfect sense.

    There are some who will tell you that you can walk into any hospital in this country and get care. That’s only partially true. Hospitals are obliged to give emergency care, but routine, preventative care is denied to the uninsured in many cases.

    The procedure being discussed in this thread is _nothing_ if it isn’t emergency care. Abortion itself is an emergency procedure, though the nature of the emergency, unwanted birth vs. death of the mother, varies. Plan B is described as “emergency contraception”, I think wrongly, it’s really penultimate emergency to birth or abortion (and it, itself is not abortion, which is a whole ‘nother debate). Kept on hand before sexual contact, it could just as well be described as “mere” prevention.

    In the case of abortion, preventative care is birth control and the knowledge of how to use it. It shouldn’t be surprising then, that a historically oppressed group, which therefore has a lower SES and a lower chance of being insured, has a higher abortion rate. And as go uninsured African-Americans, I believe so go uninsured Americans of all ethnicities.

    (Sure, abortions are not always an emergency procedure in hospitals, but they’re treated as such in clinics where they are performed.)

  169. Just one boring, technical point:

    cephyn wrote
    They have no other option. If any part of a law is unconstitutional, the entire law is unconstitutional. The Judicial branch is not in the business of writing or modifying laws – they are only allowed to judge whether or not the laws are “legal”.

    In fact, courts can and do strike down parts of laws all the time. I’m guessing that practice is actually more common than striking the whole law. A court has a constitutional obligation to uphold the legislature’s intent as long as it can do so within the constraints of the Constitution. Sometimes that means striking just the unconstitutional part.

    Also, a court can find a statute unconstitutional as applied in a specific case—and leave the statute there to be used again.

  170. Mr. Scalzi:

    “A woman’s right to control her body includes the right to say what’s in it.”
    I guess most pro-lifers would disagree with those parameters, at least in the rather singular case in which “what’s in it” is another person.
    Would I be correct in assuming that you hold the pro-life/anti-choice movement to be irrational and unreasonable? Do you find any of the arguments it sets forth as being soun, I’m just curious?

    Steve Buchheit:

    “To me the most non-arbitrary point is birth or delivery.”

    Ah, see! Here is the starkest dividing line b/w pro-life and pro-choice! Where does life begin?
    “Why have a second standard for this one issue?”
    What I’m saying is that the very issue is what constitutes life. That, and nothing else, is what truly defines the debate.

    “why are we charging the doctor with the crime?”
    I assume you’re referring to a hypothetical anti-abortion law. I suppose he’d be charged because he would be the perpetrator of the crime. He and the mother, I guess akin to a hitman and the person who hired him.

    “”Accidental death” isn’t a crime, it’s used in civil cases (IANAL, so I could be wrong about this).

    If your standard is that at conception we have a human, and that ending that human life is a crime, then what about all the fertilized eggs that fail to attach to the uterus? Isn’t that a death that isn’t the fault of the egg/human? What about if the child is spontaniously aborted in the 2nd or third trimester or is still born? Shouldn’t this be investigated as a crime then with an coroner’s inquest?”

    Again, a crime would be committed if the fetus was terminated as the result of a conscious action by a separate party, which would not be the case in any of the circumstances you described. It wouldn’t be a crime any more than it would be if someone fell off of a cliff. IANAL either; would this not be an accidental death?
    “What if the pregnant woman isn’t taking care of herself and that leads to the above? Wouldn’t she be guilty of neglect at least? What if she smokes, or has alcohol, isn’t that a crime as well? I mean, she’s abusing that human inside her. Isn’t she? What about all those eggs that are disguarded by birthcontrol pills? Isn’t that a crime then?”

    You know, I’ve always been of the opinion that there should be legal restrictions on a pregnant woman’s alchohol/tobacco/drug intake. Birth control pills? Ehhh, email me if you want to discuss.

  171. Steven B:
    Because invasive surgery should always be the last resort and therefore “rare” when compared to other non-invasive methods.
    Many forms of birth control have side effects too, as well as long term repercussions. Others are not reliable or reduce the pleasure of sex. And like it or not, abortion is birth control. It controls birth.
    Vacuum aspiration is about as safe as it gets, surgery wise. Each one does not weaken the uterine wall, although if complications develop (very rare) that can certainly occur.
    (BTW, Price is not an issue—certainly not one that should be a factor in you personally caring if the procedure were rare, anymore then you should have a vested interest in what I pay for gas.)
    But I was trying to ascertain if you perceived any moral ambiguity in the act of abortion, which alone and of itself, would lead to your desire for it to be rare. Evidently you see no ethical consideration whatsoever–just medical/monetary ones. Thanks for clarifying.

    -Daniel B.

  172. John,

    I understand and respect your right to say whatever the hell you like around here. You’ve earned it.

    I would point out that saying:

    “the endgame for the anti-choice crowd is no abortions, end of story. Ask them; that’s what they’ll tell you. If you want to talk about an “argument killer,” that’s the place to start”

    is a bit unfair.

    It’s easy to take on the most radical views – because they are such crap. But please don’t throw all of us “anti-choicers” under that same bus. Many of us do in fact allow for a multitude of instances where abortions are both allowed and desirable.

    The difficulty in these issues lies in the gray areas. I think that most of us, though certainly not all, can rule out the extreme positions.

  173. John wrote: “In other news, it hasn’t escaped my notice that the majority of folks taking an anti-choice position here are men, while most of the women here are taking a pro-choice position.”

    I think that is probably because women usually have a better idea of the physical, emotional and financial costs of having a child. Being so closely connected to the process, women have a lot more at stake than a man does, regardless of how good a father he could be.

    And to the suggestion that its simply a matter of putting the baby up for adoption, let me assure you that is not an easy thing to do either, pregnancy and childbirth affect a woman’s body for life, not to mention the emotional costs, which are substantial.

    I’d also like to see a headcount of all the pro-life crowd who have adopted unwanted children of any race. And if you haven’t adopted but you feel so strongly about the issue, my question is…..Why not?????

    By the way, I was a pregnant single teenager who chose to have the baby, and I have been a better parent for having the choice.

  174. John wrote: “In other news, it hasn’t escaped my notice that the majority of folks taking an anti-choice position here are men, while most of the women here are taking a pro-choice position.”

    I think that is probably because women usually have a better idea of the physical, emotional and financial costs of having a child. Being so closely connected to the process, women have a lot more at stake than a man does, regardless of how good a father he could be.

    And to the suggestion that its simply a matter of putting the baby up for adoption, let me assure you that is not an easy thing to do either, pregnancy and childbirth affect a woman’s body for life, not to mention the emotional costs, which are substantial.

    I’d also like to see a headcount of all the pro-life crowd who have adopted unwanted children of any race. And if you haven’t adopted but you feel so strongly about the issue, my question is…..Why not?????

    By the way, I was a pregnant single teenager who chose to have the baby, and I have been a better parent for having the choice.

  175. Amitiva D:

    “I guess most pro-lifers would disagree with those parameters, at least in the rather singular case in which ‘what’s in it’ is another person.”

    Leaving aside the legal fact that a fetus is not a person, if anti-choice people don’t believe a woman’s right to control her body does not include the right to say what’s in it, then what they’re saying is, in fact, they don’t support a woman’s right to control her body. And again, we’re confronted with the absolute sophistry of the suggestion that anti-choice folks believe in the right of a woman to control her body, because it’s manifestly false.

    Lee Gray:

    “But please don’t throw all of us ‘anti-choicers’ under that same bus. Many of us do in fact allow for a multitude of instances where abortions are both allowed and desirable.”

    Fair enough. I will note, however, that I don’t see the most prominent anti-choice organizations and lobbyists — i.e., the ones driving the anti-choice legislative agenda — offering the same leeway. For example, I don’t seem to recall the National Right to Life suggesting that there are instances where abortions are both allowed and desirable.

  176. I even saw a post in a different forum (local paper discussion) from an anti-choice gentleman who went so far as to state that abortion should be considered reprehensible even when a woman’s life was in danger. After all, what good mother wouldn’t lay down her life for her child?

    The argument, if you could call it that, conveniently forgets that the child requires the mother’s living womb for viability in many cases.

  177. Scalzi writes:

    Fair enough. I will note, however, that I don’t see the most prominent anti-choice organizations and lobbyists — i.e., the ones driving the anti-choice legislative agenda — offering the same leeway. For example, I don’t seem to recall the National Right to Life suggesting that there are instances where abortions are both allowed and desirable.

    I think the debate is driven by the extremes on this issue even more than in other issues. For good or ill, the right to abortion was “constitutionalized” — which means for the last few decades, the debate has had only philosophical effect. Now that the SCOTUS is not reliably pro-choice, the political debate has real consequences. I’m hoping that means the National Right to Life-type groups have less influence.

    Witness South Dakota, where voters rejected a flat-out ban on all abortions. My dad, who was born there and still summers there, was confident it would pass, based on his perception how conservative that state is, but he was wrong. I like to think that when normal people actually had to stop and think about it, they rejected that extremist view.

    So what will emerge? My guess is it will piss off partisans on both sides and look something like this: abortions will be largely legal, but greatly restricted in the last trimester when the “ick factor” kicks in for most people, and that federal money won’t pay for any of them. And I guess that different states will varying degrees of restriction at first, converging over time as most things have.

    But I’m just guessing.

  178. “if anti-choice people don’t believe a woman’s right to control her body does not include the right to say what’s in it, then what they’re saying is, in fact, they don’t support a woman’s right to control her body.”

    Why need that be the case, presupposing as they do that the fetus is not part of a woman’s body?

  179. Amitava:

    I’ve already explained why, twice now, to you. No need to go over it again for the sake of listening to myself type.

    CJ-in-Weld:

    “So what will emerge? My guess is it will piss off partisans on both sides and look something like this: abortions will be largely legal, but greatly restricted in the last trimester when the ‘ick factor’ kicks in for most people, and that federal money won’t pay for any of them.”

    I suspect this would be largely correct, although it might take more than one electoral cycle to happen.

  180. So then the issue, I guess, is what constitutes a “woman’s body”? But then that again boils down to whether or not the fetus is a person.

  181. John Scalzi:

    I don’t deny anti-choice folks are perfectly sincere in their beliefs; the problem is that their belief runs flat up against the right of women to make choices about their own bodies. This really is an argument of whose rights are pre-eminent; those of a fetus, or those of the woman who is carrying it.
    True. But each side perceives the others argument as “running flat up against the rights” of their particular dog in the fight (the fetus or the woman carrying it). So using that inherent fact as a means to discredit the other side’s argument is not a recipe for any kind of positive discussion on the subject.
    My personal belief is that somewhere between conception and birth, a human life begins, and at some point along that timeline, it should be protected as such. The argument therefore becomes essentially a matter of when that protected status should occur (or how it should be phased in, weighed against the mother’s health and right to control of her body).
    I think I’m not alone, and that most people who look at it logically (not dogmatically) aren’t fully pro-choice or pro-life — at some point on that timeline they would allow abortion, at another point they would advocate what really amounts to “forced birth”. And I certainly believe that Roe v Wade is a good faith attempt at compromise. But it’s not sacrosanct, and rational people can argue against it as long as they are civil and respect the other side’s motives.
    (But Keith Richards is still a cannibal, and anyone who says otherwise is a brain dead ass face!)
    -Daniel B.

  182. I’d be more inclined to accept that the ‘pro-life’ group was campaigning for all of these laws because they believe that these ‘clumps of cells’ were human and therefore sancrosanct if I saw huge picket lines outside of fertility clinics, and impassioned discussions of the evil of in vitro fertilization. Given the huge number of embryos created during fertility and pregnancy treatments every year in this country, numbers which likely far outweigh the number of abortions, you would think that the ‘pro-life’ groups would find these types of treatments even more reprehensible than abortions, as the vast majority of these embryos are destined for destruction. One possible explanation for this marked incongruity is that the humanity of the clumps of cells is not the central motivating factor, but merely a convenient handle to achieve other goals.

  183. Daniel B:

    “But each side perceives the others argument as ‘running flat up against the rights’ of their particular dog in the fight (the fetus or the woman carrying it).”

    Personally, I’d suggest that when in doubt precedence should be given to the person who will actually be carrying the fetus and will be charged with its post-natal well-being. And when not in doubt, it’s still sensible to do the same thing.

    I agree that most people eventually want a (excuse the expression) “split the baby” approach that allows women total control early on and decreasing amounts of control the closer the fetus comes to birth.

    Amitava D.:

    “So then the issue, I guess, is what constitutes a ‘woman’s body’?”

    No, actually, that’s not an issue at all, and as already noted, legally a fetus is not a person. You’re doing the rhetorical maneuver of not actually paying attention to what’s being said and repeating your positions. You were just doing it and now you’re doing it again, just in a slightly different way. Please don’t do this; I find it annoying.

  184. I think that getting an abortion has to be the ultimate selfish act, although I know other people disagree. But really, folks, we knew this Supreme Court action would be coming down the pike. We elected Bush twice, thereby giving him plenty of time to stack the court in his direction. Given another fifty years, or maybe a hundred, it will go back the other way. It’s the swinging pendulum of politics.

  185. Everyone seems to start the conversation with the assumption that it’s immoral to kill a human being (and I’m not arguing that – well, maybe I am, although y’all ought to figure out a definition of immoral sometime).

    But then when we get down to cases, we find that it’s okay to kill a human in certain circumstances like war or ’cause said human is a serial killer. Then we back up, because the soldier or serial killer is somehow less bad to kill because they are over 18 years old. Then those who are pacifists will jump on their high horse and say, no, war and execution are never right, but they have fewer issues with killing a bear that has mauled a human. (What was that Heinlien said about pacifists?).

    Sooner or later we get down to Gandi and his crew, who don’t want to kill anything, down to bugs. Where do you draw the line – individually, you, not society. Do you really live that way? What makes a human more special then a mouse (taken secularly as bundles of cells or religiously as all gods creatures)when you’ve got a pest infestation in the attic?

    -just stirring the pot

  186. Everyone seems to start the conversation with the assumption that it’s immoral to kill a human being (and I’m not arguing that – well, maybe I am, although y’all ought to figure out a definition of immoral sometime).

    But then when we get down to cases, we find that it’s okay to kill a human in certain circumstances like war or ’cause said human is a serial killer. Then we back up, because the soldier or serial killer is somehow less bad to kill because they are over 18 years old. Then those who are pacifists will jump on their high horse and say, no, war and execution are never right, but they have fewer issues with killing a bear that has mauled a human. (What was that Heinlien said about pacifists?).

    Sooner or later we get down to Gandi and his crew, who don’t want to kill anything, down to bugs. Where do you draw the line – individually, you, not society. Do you really live that way? What makes a human more special then a mouse (taken secularly as bundles of cells or religiously as all gods creatures)when you’ve got a pest infestation in the attic?

    -just stirring the pot

  187. “Leaving aside the legal fact that a fetus is not a person, if anti-choice people don’t believe a woman’s right to control her body does not include the right to say what’s in it, then what they’re saying is, in fact, they don’t support a woman’s right to control her body. And again, we’re confronted with the absolute sophistry of the suggestion that anti-choice folks believe in the right of a woman to control her body, because it’s manifestly false.”

    This is exactly right. Fewer and fewer med. students are even -trained- to do abortions, and clinics are reticent about allowing them. As a consequence, women cannot even get access to care that may be medically necessary. And so their healthcare can’t be adequate. An ectopic pregnancy can kill rather quickly (and oh,yes, removing a twisted mass of ectopic cells is -also- an abortion). Women die of infection, stroke, heart attack, anneurism, blood clot, eclampsia, cancer, and on and on when not given access to proper medical care, which includes abortion.

    My -mother- could not force me to risk my life and the wellbeing of my children to save her life. I might do so, but it’s my choice. I think it’s best we keep it that way, unless you think it’s a good thing to have the government decide when you live, die, and procreate.

  188. I’ll ask again: what rights does a fetus have and when does it obtain them?

    Not all living things possess rights. Those living things that do possess rights do not necessarily possess equal rights. In most states, for instance, a parent has a legal right to use corporal punishment on his or her child, but no right to use corporal punishment on another adult.

    Furthermore, the existence of a “right to live” is dubious in the United States. It is not something found in the Constitution; at best it can be derived from some concept of natural law (a notion that many conservatives explicitly reject). The law does criminalize homicidal behavior as a disruption of the social contract… but also traditionally recognizes a right of self-defense that includes the right to use lethal force to meet lethal force under some circumstances. In other words, your right to live is only a consequence of a social duty others have to not kill you unless you have sufficiently provoked them.

    Obvious question: even if we were to assume that mothers or doctors have a duty not to kill their fetuses, wouldn’t it still logically follow that this duty ends when the fetus endangers another life–medical necessity being a logical equivalent of self-defense?

  189. John Scalzi:

    Personally, I’d suggest that when in doubt precedence should be given to the person who will actually be carrying the fetus and will be charged with its post-natal well-being. And when not in doubt, it’s still sensible to do the same thing.

    I’d agree if it was a matter of weighing one life against the other–give me a choice of the woman’s life or the fetus’s, I’ll take the woman every time throughout the entire gestation period, no questions asked.

    But the two parties (if you can allow calling the fetus a party) have differing stakes in a typical pregancy. Give me a choice of a woman forced to carry a 5 month old fetus to term weighed against the certainty of the fetus being killed, it becomes more gray.

    Ultimately, it really does depend on when along the time line that baby is, which is I think the standard belief (albeit with lots of dissension on the when).

    May I ask, John, where you stand on that time line? Where does the right to life of the fetus begin to supercede some “choice rights” of the mother, if ever? Is Roe V Wade a perfect fit or an overly restrictive compromise?

    -Daniel B.

  190. Daniel B:

    “May I ask, John, where you stand on that time line? Where does the right to life of the fetus begin to supercede some ‘choice rights’ of the mother, if ever?”

    Personally speaking? Eighth and ninth month is about when I start asking whether it might not make sense to deliver rather than abort. However, from what I know of the matter elective abortions that late in the term are very rare (and cf. DIX abortions, usually medically necessary), so most women at that stage intend to give birth anyway.

    On that note, I’m clamping off this thread: I think we’ve had an excellent and mostly substantive discussion here, but now I’m going to bed and I think this thread has gone where it was going to go. I may reopen it later. Until and unless: Thanks, folks.

    Update: Ehhh, on second thought, never mind. Talk away. However, I am bowing out of further discussion on the thread (it’s sucking away too much of my time, which is why I had the notion to close it off), so those who wanted to engage me more on the topic: Maybe next time.

    However, I will still be monitoring the thread. So, you know. Behave. Y’all been doing an admirable job of that so far.

  191. I just wrote about this last week in sort of a ramp up to this decision.

    “Stay Out Of My Uterus”

    http://twinklelittlestar.typepad.com/letter/2007/04/stay_out_of_my_.html

    To summerize, my opinion is that yes, a fetus is human and has rights. The mother is human and has rights. Sometimes, the mother’s rights are in conflict with the fetus’s for a variety of reasons. The mother plays the role of voluntary host for the fetus. In no other situation in life do we require or compell another person to “host” or otherwise provide biological services or products unless they do so voluntarily. We don’t require people to give up their organs, their blood, their life, whatever for another human. Even if a person is at fault for the other person’s need of biological products or services, i.e. a drunk driver is not required to give blood or organs to her injured victim. As unfortunate as it sometimes is that women find themselves with unwanted pregnancies for whatever reason…it is wrong to compel them to remain pregnant involuntarily.

    I know this has been said before, but I would love to see how this issue would change if men could become pregnant.

  192. The problem with partial birth abortion, even among those with pro-choice leanings, is that it is too similar to infanticide. When a child is removed, partially at least, from the uterus, it is no longer a purely “my body, my choice” argument. As partial birth abortion consists on inducing birth, then crushing/drilling the skull when outside the uterus, it seems, on the surface in any event, that a life is being taken, as opposed to the “bundle of cells” that have been discussed above.

    If a child can’t be killed when fully delivered, and the hospital is supposed to take action to preserve its life (and lacks the authority to outright kill it), then partial birth abortions would seem to occupy a middle ground fully warranting a 5-4 decision. It’s the grey area that could go either either way, and did in this case.

    As to the supposed hypocrisy of the pro-lifers who are in favor of the death penalty, I think this argument is somewhat shallow. A person is on death row (assuming not wrongfully convicted, which I concede happens) due to a conscious choice. In fact, to be on death row the convict must have committed a murder more heinous than a run of the mill murder (whatever that means). The worst of the worse. By contrast, an infant is not aborted due to any choice or act of its own, but due to the choice or actions of the mother.

    In the interests of full disclosure, I am pro-life. And I favor the death penalty as being an available consequence to heinous crimes. If that makes me a hypocrit, then I’ll gladly wallow in my hypocrisy.

  193. The problem with partial birth abortion, even among those with pro-choice leanings, is that it is too similar to infanticide. When a child is removed, partially at least, from the uterus, it is no longer a purely “my body, my choice” argument. As partial birth abortion consists on inducing birth, then crushing/drilling the skull when outside the uterus, it seems, on the surface in any event, that a life is being taken, as opposed to the “bundle of cells” that have been discussed above.

    If a child can’t be killed when fully delivered, and the hospital is supposed to take action to preserve its life (and lacks the authority to outright kill it), then partial birth abortions would seem to occupy a middle ground fully warranting a 5-4 decision. It’s the grey area that could go either either way, and did in this case.

    As to the supposed hypocrisy of the pro-lifers who are in favor of the death penalty, I think this argument is somewhat shallow. A person is on death row (assuming not wrongfully convicted, which I concede happens) due to a conscious choice. In fact, to be on death row the convict must have committed a murder more heinous than a run of the mill murder (whatever that means). The worst of the worse. By contrast, an infant is not aborted due to any choice or act of its own, but due to the choice or actions of the mother.

    In the interests of full disclosure, I am pro-life. And I favor the death penalty as being an available consequence to heinous crimes. If that makes me a hypocrit, then I’ll gladly wallow in my hypocrisy.

  194. Killed when fully delivered? stevem, I think you may misunderstand the circumstances under which the vast majority of D&X’s are performed. Here they are again…

    The main reasons that partial birth abortions are performed in this country are:

    1) The fetus is dead.

    2) The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would place the woman’s life in severe danger.

    3) The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would grievously damage the woman’s health and/or disable her.

    4) The fetus is so malformed that it can never gain consciousness and will die shortly after birth. Many which fall into this category have developed a very severe form of hydrocephalus.

    In which of these circumstances would you deny a woman the right to a ‘Partial Birth Abortion’? Amitava D.? If you see any of these circumstances as valid exceptions, then you should not support the law that was just upheld by SCOTUS…

  195. Steve Buchheit, you might want to update your knowledge of obstetrics. You’re arguing from the seventies. Check out VBAC; there are many women who deliver vaginally after c-sections, even if it’s a high risk birth and there are certain methods of induction that are inappropriate. (Myself, I intend to try.)

    Abortion can lead to uterine and cervical scarring, if they’re performed by incompetents who doesn’t know the value of removing as little tissue as possible. (My teacher used women from Russia, where abortion is common and other birth control methods are expensive, as an example.) This is one reason abortion needs to be legal and performed in sterile settings by people who have experience and knowledge. It’s very uncommon, though, and abortion certainly doesn’t take out any of the uterine wall. You need to read up on anatomy, too.

    Not to mention that the difference between c-sections and abortions is that c-section is major surgery, where you go through the abdominal wall and cut the uterus up, and abortions are performed through the cervix much like a miscarriage or birth. Minor surgery, and much like what happens in nature.

  196. Tor, nothing withing my post stated that a partial birth abortion resulted in a child being “Killed when fully delivered”. Please look at it again.

    As to your 4 scenarios, #1 is not a birth (or consequently, an abortion) as the child is dead already. #s 2-4 should not be permitted.

    Once delivered, partially or otherwise, an infant’s right to live trumps the mother’s right to chose. If she can’t decide to take the life of an infant that’s been removed from her body, then a logical extension of that is she can’t authorize the crushing of the infant’s skull when the skull is removed from her body (even if the rest of the body is still not delivered).

    And your last point, #4, doesn’t factor in at all. The law allows for abortions. The law does not allow the practice of infanticide in the name of eugenics by allowing a parent to kill an impaired child when fully delivered. The last two sentences I think you would agree is true. If so, then it is arguable that a partial birth abortion should likewise be prohibited (or allowed) as it falls between the two poles.

  197. Therese Norén, I’m certainly willing to be corrected. Friends who have had c-sections (2) have been told that any children they may have the future will also be c-section and that vaginal delivery would be to risky. So I’m going from former knowledge and that experience. I agree that abortion proceedures need to be taught and performed well, and standard first trimester abortion proceedures cause little complications. However, I think the proceedures discussed in this law and father upstream are all major surgery types. And while most early proceedures have small risks of damaging the uterine wall, there is still that risk. Which is why such proceedures should be rare, which was the original question. The other forms of birth control are much less invasive, cost less, and are widely available. I’m thinking mostly of condoms here. The pill and the (resurgence of the) IUD carry higher risks and costs.

  198. I’m only partway through the responses from when I left work, but this from Pete struck me:

    “If none of this sounds appealing, I suggest abstinence or masturbation.”

    I see. So all us uppity women who feel like we deserve to control the contents of our bodies, we should be punished either by not being permitted to have heterosexual intercourse or by being forced to go through pregnancy.

    I am so glad you aren’t a legislator, and your views make me sick. They really do.

  199. Also, I got snippy. Sorry about that. It is pre-morning-tea and that comment about how I could just go ahead and go masturbate was galling.

  200. [sigh]

    Tomorrow’s discussion will be “Gun control — do we need more or less?” followed on Saturday by “Which religion is the right one?” And don’t miss Sunday: “Why the PC is better than the Mac.”

  201. Once delivered, partially or otherwise, an infant’s right to live trumps the mother’s right to chose. If she can’t decide to take the life of an infant that’s been removed from her body, then a logical extension of that is she can’t authorize the crushing of the infant’s skull when the skull is removed from her body (even if the rest of the body is still not delivered).

    Actually, “partially delivered” means NOT delivered. It is a binary state, and until the fetus is all the way out, it doesn’t have rights, it isn’t a baby, and its life doesn’t trump the mother’s.

  202. stevem – you’ve got it reversed. The skull is crushed before removal from the uterus, because the skull is the largest part. If you want a specific set of reasoning for a specific type of case, then take hydrocephaly. The skull is filled with fluid rather than brain tissue, and is usually enormously enlarged as a result. The fetus can’t be delivered vaginally intact because the enlarged skull is too big to permit it. Delivering the rest of the body intact is preferable medically to sticking sharp pointy things in the mother’s uterus, which increases the chance of perforation or other damage to the mother. Supposedly (I can’t verify this one myself at this point), puncturing the skull within the uterus direct can also cause uterine rupture due to the sudden increase in fluid pressure (the fluid in the brain can be under considerable pressure, hence the skull enlargement). The choices for the mother are, at that point: a) The procedure you object to – deliver the body, breech, and drain and collapse the skull before delivery; b)cut up the fetus inside the mother and simply accept the increased chance of uterine damage; or c) perform a cesearean.

    There’s not much question which of those options is best medically for the mother. Ceseareans are major surgery and uterine rupture is no joke. Just how far are you willing to go to protect your sensibilities about a medically gruesome procedure on a live but non-viable fetus?

  203. Sam, “The PC is better than the Mac…I can right click with the PC DAMNIT.”

    Strange, I’ve been right clicking on my mac for five years now. I have it set up as a double click action (as compared to control-click). With my new iMac I can also set the squeeze buttons to different actions. So, in context, Macs have been shipping with four-button mouses for about three years.

  204. Steve Buchheit,

    Clearly I was joking, lighten up. On a more serious note though PC’s are better, except for when they crash. (more humor).

  205. Steve Buchheit,

    Clearly I was joking, lighten up. On a more serious note though PC’s are better, except for when they crash. (more humor).

  206. Teresa: I’ve gone back and forth with this one in my head and heart for a long time…and what I always come back to is: that clump of cells is a human being in its earliest stages of development. Granted, it’s not a fully-functioning, viable human being…but neither is a newborn baby. A newborn baby can breathe, sure, but it can’t feed itself or clothe itself, and if left to its own devices, it will die…

    Which is why I was careful in saying life requires survival outside the womb. It’s pretty safe to say that, at this point in time, if you detach a fetus from the womb it will not survive. There is nothing modern medicine can currently do to prevent that.

    A baby, on the other hand, (even one born prematurely) can survive — perhaps through extraordinary means, but still without being attached to the womb.

    Perhaps in the future science will find a way to allow an embryo to survive and develop completely outside the womb. One could also envision a procedure to safely transplant a fetus from natural womb to artificial womb. When that day arrives I might feel more comfortable with conferring human rights on a developing fetus — until then it’s just a clump of cells with the potential to become life.

  207. Steve Buchheit,

    Sorry ’bout the anonymous thing. Point conceded about you joking back. The problem with these forums is that you can’t hear inflection in peoples voices (obviously), everything is assumed on what the other person intents is/are, alot gets lost in the translation.

  208. Someone asked “Why not leave the abortion issue up to the states?” And my answer is, “Have you actually _lived_ in Mississippi?” I have, and it is a very scary place to be if you are under 18, poor and pregnant. A lot of people are laboring under the delusion that it’s easy and cheap to get an abortion anywhere in the U.S. It’s just not true, and if it was left up to Mississippi state legislators…I shudder to think.

    And to add another viewpoint for the folks who wonder why a woman who gets pregnant and doesn’t want to have a child would be unwilling to carry to term and adopt out–I “got talked into” having sex when I was 16. Now we’d probably call it date rape, as my boyfriend poured vodka into my soda pop without me knowing, and told me I was probably getting the flu and I should just go to his room and rest.
    Not only was I 16 and the daughter of hellfire-and-brimstone Baptists, I lived in a teeny tiny town. Continuing with that pregnancy would have cut me off irrevocably from my family, disgraced my parents, and I doubt that I would have been allowed to give the baby up for adoption.I would have been forced to marry my impregnator, exactly like my cousin was, 2 years later.
    I snuck off to New Orleans, and thank goodness for Planned Parenthood.

  209. Katherine:

    My point is that there would be a lot less animosity over abortion if it was left to the states. As I said, there might be unhappy pro-choicers in conservative states (which I guess would have been your case) and unhappy pro-lifers in liberal states, but I think the issue overall would die down.

  210. Amitava D.: Unfortunately, that was the very situation we had pre-Roe. It wasn’t a pretty picture. The reason abortion rights became such an issue leading up to that Supreme Court decision was because legislatures were doing such a lousy job in many states about providing for safe abortions.

  211. John H:
    I’m surprised that abortion was poorly performed in states where it was legal. Is that what you’re saying? If so, I doubt that would be the case today, should Roe v Wade be overturned. If a given state legalised abortion, I’d think there would be competent physicians who would do the job.

  212. Amitava said:

    As I said, there might be unhappy pro-choicers in conservative states

    Unhappy? No, if it were left up to the states, we would have infertile, badly injured, and dead women and young girls in conservative states.

    It isn’t a matter of being happy, it is a matter of being healthy.

  213. Amitava, could you explain what you mean by “less animosity over abortion?”

    And I’m a little shocked that you can characterize a desperate pregnant teenager as an “unhappy pro-choicer.”

  214. “Amitava, could you explain what you mean by “less animosity over abortion?” ”
    Sure; there are people who think abortion should be outlawed completely, and there are those who believe that there ought to be no restrictions on it at all. Let each state decides how it wants to deal with the issue, and I think that more (note, *not all*) people would then be satisfied with the legal status quo, no matter where they fall.
    Now, I support such a solution as a matter of pragmatism (if I were a true ideological pro-lifer, then I’d support a nationwide ban; but I oppose any Human Life Amendment the same way I oppose Roe v. Wade) You have to understand that to the pro-life mind, “abortion” is synonymous with “murder”. That may seem illogical to you, but there it stands. So making the argument that “abortions are going to happen, we may as well make them safe as possible” isn’t a very persuasive argument in this debate. A pro-lifer’s response will be that we don’t take murder for a given, we do everything we can to prevent it, up to and including legally proscribing it.

    Well, I’m going to have to make a concerted effort to stay away from this now, as our parasit final is imminently approaching. Cheers!

  215. Which, of couse, explains so well why many of the same people advocate against birth control, against comprehensive sex education, against Plan B (including spreading the idea that it’s an abortifacient, which it is not), sometimes even against things like HPV vaccination.

    The lowest abortion rates are found in countries that do all these things, yet have legal abortion, not the countries that outlaw abortion. So do they want to actually prevent the maximum number of abortions, or do they just want to entrench their philisophical opposition into law?

    I happen to prefer the former.

  216. I’m not going to stick my head up into the beaten zone on the moral issues in this one, but I do have two comments:

    1. Remember that the Court cheerfully suggested that the doc could kill the fetus by injection and then do the IDX because it would not be a living fetus; It also talked about dismembering the fetus in the womb and just hauling out the little parts. So unless there is evidence (not mentioned in the decision) that there is ever a requirement to keep the fetus alive until it passes the “anatomical benchmarks” that turn the procedure into IDX I don’t know that this law or ruling really has any impact at all. The Court said “Conviction requires that the Doc intend to partially deliver a living fetus to the statutory extent and then kill it – so kill it first, dummy!”

    2. Justice Thomas is right. This has nothing to do with the Commerce Clause and has no business being a federal law. However, particularly in this area of jurisprudence neither side is interested in nice clean decisions so they gerrymander the litigation to ensure that questions are not asked – which is why neither side in this case raised the issue. Our system is supposed to be one where the federal government is one with enumerated powers with everything else reserved to the states.

  217. I waited to weigh in a this debate for day or so, the let the predictable rehash of this subject run its course. Speaking as a male, and a male who is both clipped and therefor incapable (high probability anyway) of getting anybody pregnant, and is incapable of getting pregnant in the first place, I try to be as dispassionate about abortion as is humanly possible. It seems to me, based on the example of the above comment thread and similar debates over the years, that we will never come to any kind of consensus on this subject, ever. So, we must find a way to deal with the subject of abortion in a manner that we can all live with, maybe not be happy with, but live with as a nation and a people.

    I don’t have good numbers, they’re hard to pin down, but I suspect that the majority of abortions are NOT performed on pregnancies resulting from rape. And the number of late term abortions, for whatever reason, is relatively a low number of overall abortions. According to the numbers I can dig up (and they vary widely from state to state and collecting agency to agency and are therefor suspect), the majority of abortions are first trimester abortions performed to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

    With that said: in my opinion this debate is about the wrong thing, it’s about treating a symptom and not the root problem. I.e. no woman has ever gotten an abortion who was not pregnant. Period. If we put half a much energy into preventing unwanted pregnancy as we do dealing with it after the fact, the number of abortions in this country might be reduced to a level that becomes negligible or at least acceptable to to majority. And, yes, before somebody flames me – there are those who feel that even one abortion is one abortion too many. Life is sacred and all that crap. In 24 years in the military, I’ve seen far to many dead people, adults and children who have died in horrible ways to believe much in the actual sanctity of human life. Great ideal, but the real world says that the gods don’t give a shit. Back on topic, whereas it is unlikely that we will reach consensus on abortion, birth control doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all (Sorry Dr. Phil, I know that term is a sore subject with you). For example, I’d love to see some of the anti-abortion groups put some time and their money behind the effort to develop a cheap and effective male contraceptive instead of standing in front of the Woman’s Heath Clinic waving bibles and screaming hatred at woman who are just trying to get a dammed pap smear. Whatever the method, preventing unwanted pregnancy is something most of us can agree on, whatever our position on abortion. As, yes, again, I know there are those to whom birth control in any form is anathema. Too dammed bad – I don’t subscribe to the Roman Catholic Church or any other church. They’ll have to deal with that fact – this is America. Additionally, I would say to those folks, change your attitude towards unwed mothers, maybe then the unwanted pregnancy would become a wanted pregnancy and something to take joy in. Never ceases to disgust me how many of these church groups can encourage their congregations to adopt Chinese and Korean orphans while shunning their own daughters. Arrgh! Never mind, I’ll try to stay on topic.

    Anyway, in conclusion, seems to me that if we, as a people, embarked on this course with the caveat that all people (both male and female) have the absolute inalienable right to control their own bodies – then and only then would abortion become truly safe, available, and rare. Just as in right to die cases, only the people directly involved, i.e. in the case of abortion, the mother, can decide what’s right for her and the unborn bunch of cells in her uterus. The rest of the world needs to shut the fuck up, but most especially fundamental Christian men who seem to think women are nothing more than sin-filled breeding stock. I’d like to introduce some of these asshats to my wife, she’d make dammed sure none of them impregnated anybody, ever, again. (Grin) She’s the meanest person I know, and that’s why I love her so dammed much.

  218. I waited to weigh in a this debate for day or so, the let the predictable rehash of this subject run its course. Speaking as a male, and a male who is both clipped and therefor incapable (high probability anyway) of getting anybody pregnant, and is incapable of getting pregnant in the first place, I try to be as dispassionate about abortion as is humanly possible. It seems to me, based on the example of the above comment thread and similar debates over the years, that we will never come to any kind of consensus on this subject, ever. So, we must find a way to deal with the subject of abortion in a manner that we can all live with, maybe not be happy with, but live with as a nation and a people.

    I don’t have good numbers, they’re hard to pin down, but I suspect that the majority of abortions are NOT performed on pregnancies resulting from rape. And the number of late term abortions, for whatever reason, is relatively a low number of overall abortions. According to the numbers I can dig up (and they vary widely from state to state and collecting agency to agency and are therefor suspect), the majority of abortions are first trimester abortions performed to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

    With that said: in my opinion this debate is about the wrong thing, it’s about treating a symptom and not the root problem. I.e. no woman has ever gotten an abortion who was not pregnant. Period. If we put half a much energy into preventing unwanted pregnancy as we do dealing with it after the fact, the number of abortions in this country might be reduced to a level that becomes negligible or at least acceptable to to majority. And, yes, before somebody flames me – there are those who feel that even one abortion is one abortion too many. Life is sacred and all that crap. In 24 years in the military, I’ve seen far to many dead people, adults and children who have died in horrible ways to believe much in the actual sanctity of human life. Great ideal, but the real world says that the gods don’t give a shit. Back on topic, whereas it is unlikely that we will reach consensus on abortion, birth control doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all (Sorry Dr. Phil, I know that term is a sore subject with you). For example, I’d love to see some of the anti-abortion groups put some time and their money behind the effort to develop a cheap and effective male contraceptive instead of standing in front of the Woman’s Heath Clinic waving bibles and screaming hatred at woman who are just trying to get a dammed pap smear. Whatever the method, preventing unwanted pregnancy is something most of us can agree on, whatever our position on abortion. As, yes, again, I know there are those to whom birth control in any form is anathema. Too dammed bad – I don’t subscribe to the Roman Catholic Church or any other church. They’ll have to deal with that fact – this is America. Additionally, I would say to those folks, change your attitude towards unwed mothers, maybe then the unwanted pregnancy would become a wanted pregnancy and something to take joy in. Never ceases to disgust me how many of these church groups can encourage their congregations to adopt Chinese and Korean orphans while shunning their own daughters. Arrgh! Never mind, I’ll try to stay on topic.

    Anyway, in conclusion, seems to me that if we, as a people, embarked on this course with the caveat that all people (both male and female) have the absolute inalienable right to control their own bodies – then and only then would abortion become truly safe, available, and rare. Just as in right to die cases, only the people directly involved, i.e. in the case of abortion, the mother, can decide what’s right for her and the unborn bunch of cells in her uterus. The rest of the world needs to shut the fuck up, but most especially fundamental Christian men who seem to think women are nothing more than sin-filled breeding stock. I’d like to introduce some of these asshats to my wife, she’d make dammed sure none of them impregnated anybody, ever, again. (Grin) She’s the meanest person I know, and that’s why I love her so dammed much.

  219. I am confused by the federal government/state’s rights facet of this argument. If the states making up their own laws is better than the federal government doing so, doesn’t it follow that individual people making up their own minds is better than the states doing so?

  220. Missy: I just wanted to thank you for your thoughful posts and your enourmous patience. You stayed civil past the point I was typing angry responses and then deleting them before posting :)

  221. Jeepers, Rob Davies, are you nuts? We can’t have people deciding what’s best for themselves. It’s the government’s/church’s/action group’s job to decide what’s best for us. Good grief, man, you’re advocating for anarchy!

  222. To Old Jarhead: I see you too waited until you had Situational Awareness of the Battlespace before deciding on a Course of Action.

    Funny, how you can always spot the older military guys, isn’t it?

  223. I have thought about this issue for a long time. There is of course no answer that would satisfy both sides. The most practical solution would be to allow unrestricted abortions until the point of viability, and abortions only for the life and health of the mother after this point. This would eliminate most late term abortions as labor can usually be induced just as safely as an abortion by this point. In my plan the time of viability would be determined by the American college of Neonatologist and be revised every three years to accomadate advances in neonatal care.

  224. Old Jarhead: “It also talked about dismembering the fetus in the womb and just hauling out the little parts. ”

    The problem with that option is that it is generally regarded as less safe to haul out “the little parts”, as they can damage the internal goings-on (like a bone fragment piercing the uterine wall).

    This would have been the safer choice, but now it’s gone.

  225. I am confused by the federal government/state’s rights facet of this argument. If the states making up their own laws is better than the federal government doing so, doesn’t it follow that individual people making up their own minds is better than the states doing so?

    Perhaps. But that’s not what the Constitution is about. It’s about defining the powers of the Federal Government with the explicit presumption that powers not given (enumerated) to the Federal Government are relegated to the State.

    Citizens are barely mentioned in the Constitution and the only power given them is the power to elect members of the House of Representatives. What’s more, the Constitution doesn’t even grant everyone the right to vote.

    Because of this lack, it was thought that including the Bill of Rights would be a good idea. Others argued that by doing so, it might be interpreted that these were the only rights people had.

    Regardless, the Constitution only allows the Federal Government to make laws that affect the States when there is an inter-state issue regarding regulating commerce.

    Of course, the word “commerce” has a whole nuther meaning to members of Congress.

  226. John H:
    “Perhaps in the future science will find a way to allow an embryo to survive and develop completely outside the womb. One could also envision a procedure to safely transplant a fetus from natural womb to artificial womb. When that day arrives I might feel more comfortable with conferring human rights on a developing fetus — until then it’s just a clump of cells with the potential to become life.”

    Well, perhaps not outside any womb…but it can be implanted into a surrogate, can’t it? I honestly don’t know how this works, as I am so not the science brain, so if anyone does know, and can fill me in, I’d appreciate it.

  227. Jim Wright “Funny, how you can always spot the older military guys, isn’t it”

    I’m young. I’m still young. Strap a target to me and send me in, cap’n! Then again, I don’t have your two’s combat experience.

  228. Jim Wright “Funny, how you can always spot the older military guys, isn’t it”

    I’m young. I’m still young. Strap a target to me and send me in, cap’n! Then again, I don’t have your two’s combat experience.

  229. Discretion, Steve, is the better part of valor.

    As to the combat experience, truthfully I’m proud of my record but I’d rather not have it – all things being equal. Of course, I only had to deal with people shooting at me (a form of retroactive birth control, in keeping with the theme of this thread), you as I understand it deal with voters and procurement of public snow removal equipment. Bah, think I’ve got the better deal.

  230. Anyone curious as to what a country in which the anti-choice crowd has its victory can take a look at Nicaragua, El Salvador, and other Latin American countries. Countries in which women are actually arrested and jailed for having abortions, and have their bodies violated to search for “evidence” is suspected of having an abortion.

  231. I think Amitiva has it right. A state by state decision on whether to allow or not allow abortion would help tensions over the issue die down, not to mention be in keeping with our federalist system.

  232. I think Amitiva has it right. A state by state decision on whether to allow or not allow abortion would help tensions over the issue die down, not to mention be in keeping with our federalist system.

  233. Sigh. I am conflicted. I believe abortion is the taking of a human life, which is not right (not illegal, just not right). However, I am not too concerned when people I don’t like have abortions and, indeed, don’t procreate at all.

  234. Jim Wright: If you are ever down in the Seattle-Tacoma area from Alaska I’d love to buy you a frosty beverage of your choice – and Steve Buchheit can come along even if he is many years younger. After all, I actually dated Chesty Puller’s niece, am wonderful friends with one of his daughters, served under his son-in-law and had a couple of deep coversations with his late son. That makes me the OLD breed!!

  235. What is it with Marines and Scalzi’s blog? I was with VMFA-122, served in 1984-1988.

    Swing with the Wing, baby!

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