Home > Family Planning > Why Pro-Choice is Losing

Why Pro-Choice is Losing

April 6, 2010

Lately I’ve been troubled by how badly the pro-choice movement has been doing.   Here in South Carolina we are continuously dealing with legislation to limit access to abortion.  This year a 24 hour waiting period law was passed, and the state legislature is almost ready to sign in a law that prevents state funding for any abortion, even in cases of maternal jeopardy, rape and incest.   Nationwide, abortion is under attack in many states, and in some cases progress is being made to limit access.

One of the things that bothers me is that I don’t see this trend improving, at least not until some major changes are made in the pro-choice movement.  Right now, anti-choice is wiping the floor with pro-choice.  Pro-choice is always on the defensive, and never on the offensive.  Prochoice is tending goal and Prolife is always taking shots.  This can only go on so long before one gets in the net, and we’ve been seeing that happen lately.

Here’s the problems as I see it:

Pro-life has been very successful in merging two question that should be separated, and by doing so have taunted the pro-choice side into addressing the wrong one.  These questions are 1) is abortion unethical / immoral? and 2) should abortion be illegal? The vast majority of pro-life rhetoric is based on the belief that termination of pregnancy is immoral.  Pro-life is marketing very successfully that abortion is unethical, and through that they garner adequate public support for their agenda, leading to successful legislative efforts to limit access.

Pro-choice must separate these two questions. There is absolutely nothing to be gained in trying to convince people that abortion is a moral act.  The belief that it immoral is based that the fetus is an independent life form, and that it is a person.  If one accepts that belief, it is quite logical to then believe that abortion is murder.   To someone who believes that abortion is murder, no argument to the contrary will suffice.  These arguments only serves to separate the divide between the two sides.  While an argument for the morality of abortion is compelling to someone who is pro-choice, it is just meaningless to someone who already is against abortion.  To those who are undecided, it feels like somebody else telling them what is right or wrong, which also doesn’t work.   Pro-choice needs to win the hearts of these middle ground people, and arguing morality won’t do that.

Pro-choice needs to stop addressing the question of morality question all together. The only question that should be addressed is whether or not abortion should be legal, and the best way to do that is to clearly show the country what the effects of a ban on abortion would be.  Pro-choice needs to make sure that everyone in this country can  imagine the effects of an abortion ban on women, and is vividly reminded of what was going on in this country prior to Roe v Wade.  Prior to Roe v Wade hospitals had entire wards full of women injured or dying from illegal untrained abortion.  This is incredibly compelling, yet Pro-choice gives it a back seat to a pointless argument about morality.  Pro-choice needs to make it clear that despite the huge number of people that argue that abortion is wrong, the same people seek abortion when they need it just like those who believe that it is acceptable.  Despite their advertised belief, when the rubber hits the road many of them feel differently.  The country needs to understand this – that the moral objection to abortion is not the same thing as wanting to make abortion illegal.

There are other problems as well.

Pro-choice also needs to stop pretending that abortion is not destroying life. Pro-life argues that abortion is murder, and in response we hear from pro-choice is that it is not life, but a potential life.   This is not a compelling argument.   A fetus, from any scientific point of view, is alive.  Claiming that a fetus is not alive is inaccurate, and this somewhat vampiric idea paints Pro-choice in a bad light in the eyes of the middle ground population that might be convinced to support their cause.  Pro-choice must recognize that abortion is destruction of life, but is still a justified thing.  Parallels must be drawn between abortion and other justified destruction of life.   It is ironic that the conservatives who are the greatest detractors of abortion are often also the greatest supporters of war, and in so are the greatest supporters of killing.  To be a supporter of war and then to claim abortion cannot be justified because it is killing a life is a very bad argument, and the weakness in this position must be capitalized on.

Pro-choice is also losing because they are not aggressive enough in marketing. There are billboards all over the place promoting pro-life ideas.  I never see billboards promoting pro-choice ideas.  This is a problem.  I don’t know why this is, but I think it has something to do with pro-choice believing that their side is morally justified and does not need to be defended publicly.  I believe this is folly.  The position must be defended aggressively.   Pro-life is also very effective in promoting their cause through picketing of abortion clinics.  While they probably don’t scare off too many patients, their presence is a constant and vivid advertisement for their cause, and can draw support from the important middle ground.  Why isn’t pro-choice doing the same?  Every time there are picketers outside an abortion clinic, pro-choice supporters should have picketers out there peacefully promoting the opposite message.  Pro-choice should be picketing Crisis Pregnancy Centers EVERY DAY.

*****

When I was living in a very liberal state, I had the luxury of believing that my position was morally correct and that the opposition was incorrect.   When I moved to South Carolina I realized the folly in this position.   While I am as Pro-Choice I have ever been, I have met far too many wonderful intelligent caring people who happen to be Pro-Life to continue to believe that their position is fundamentally wrong.  Their beliefs are completely logical given the premises they learned as children.  The argument that abortion is justified is just as logical based on a different set of premises.

We need to stop fighting about these premises, as such a fight is a religious war.  We need to fight with facts, and if needed we need to fight a little dirtier.  Always taking the high ground hasn’t been working.

******

Thank you all for your comments on this post.

There have been a great many comments on this post, many of which were quite thoughtful.  That being said, in the past few days the comments have degenerated to being quite a bit less thoughtful, and full of ad hominem attack.  When people fail to recognize another’s right to have an opposing view and devalue them as a person for their views, they cease to be worthy of respect in my opinion, and lose the right to comment on my blog.

As this comment thread has moved this way, I’m going to go ahead and shut it down now.   Part of me is sorry to not keep the comments that ultimately caused me to shut down the thread, but at the same time I’m not interested in giving them a platform.

My original idea was that pro-choice is a little too casual about the issue of abortion rights.  Liberals (like me) feel pretty secure in our moral correctness on this issue, but the truth is that a lot of people disagree, and are passionately trying to push it the other way.  While pro-choice is willing to express outrage at this shift, we have failed to demonstrate the merits in our position with the same passion that the opposing side has shown, and over time the position has weakened.  The truth is that both sides have compelling arguments, and which side you go with depends on your point of view.   The problem is that our compelling arguments are not being pushed enough, and that we are being overpowered by a opposition that is far more zealous, and perhaps has a lot more time to fight.

I have wondered if the passion and sometimes zealotry of the pro-life side comes primary from the predominance of religion in that population.  As a non-religious person, I was not taught to try to convince others of my views.  While I am certainly interested in what other people think about something, it has never occurred to me to really want to change their mind.  Ultimately, they have the right to think whatever they like.  Those of a religious persuasion, in contrast, have been taught that they are doing something noble by trying to persuade others to believe as they do, that they are actually helping that person by doing this.  Perhaps this is why the Pro-Life side has been more effective in pushing their views.

I’d love to leave that idea up to comment, but I don’t think the thread can really be adequately contained for that.   So its just food for thought for now.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Now back to regular Academic OB/GYN programming, at least for a while.

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Categories: Family Planning
  1. April 6, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    I think your first two points are spot on. Anytime I debate with an anti I make it clear that the argument of life not valid, it doesn’t matter.

    However, I don’t think your third point is our fault. The majority of the billboards in the US are owned by Clear Chanel who won’t allow pro-choice billboards to be bought. I’m not sure what we can do to remedy this since it’s pretty much out of our control.

    • April 7, 2010 at 2:00 am

      That is an interesting problem. I wonder if there is some kind of “limitation of free speech” argument that could be made in court.

  2. JP
    April 6, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Well, this pro-lifer believes our country is center right and because of this, values life as do many others. Unfortunately this is a moral, religious, and has been federally funded for far too long. Even though the arguments are valid, the mandate stands even though 3 generations of aborted babies have been destroyed; think of the taxes that could reign in for this new health care plan. What do mean marketing is faulty? How can it get any better when children as young as 11 years can go w/o parents knowing about their kids going to get pregnancy test, abortions, etc. for free. I did when I was 16 and was brilliant in my 16 yo mind that I understood better about sexual health than my mother could have taught me. Thank goodness a pregnancy didn’t ensue. Also, we federally fund abortions in other countries; sick! For the billions of women who abort, I am so sad for b/c they are sad about the death of their child; which comes out in so many unhealthy ways. And then let’s not even talk about the multiple STDs as well as pelvic health of these women. Those who abort do have more problems with pregnancy as well as vaginal birth, correct? Or has that ever been addressed? If you give abortions regularly, are you the one who follows up with the woman after wards to see how she is doing physically, mentally, emotionally? Have you seen an abortion flushed? These are despicable, and for this not to be considered ethical, wow! That is amazing. How far we have fallen in 40 years. Amazing how the woman who took this case to the US Supreme court has changed her mind to pro-life. Could you please stay in the confines of your expertise of female health, not death topics!

    • Jenni
      April 6, 2010 at 7:51 pm

      JP, this is indeed a women’s health topic. Unwanted pregnancy and the right to reproductive self-determination (or lack thereof) . . . How is that not related to women’s health?

    • April 7, 2010 at 2:22 am

      I appreciate your comments. As I mentioned, the pro-life argument makes sense if you start with a different set of premises. I don’t really want to jump into a morality argument here, as that is exactly what we need to avoid.

      >> And then let’s not even talk about the multiple STDs as well as pelvic health of these women

      What does this have to do with abortion though? Women who have unprotected sex are exposed to STDs. This is why the country should support a very open policy on comprehensive sex education in schools. Countries that are very open about sexuality early in life have much lower teen pregnancy and STD rates.

      >> Those who abort do have more problems with pregnancy as well as vaginal birth, correct?

      Abortion is not associated with subsuquent adverse pregnancy outcomes, except in cases of severe complication. The data is somewhat mixed here, but the strongest and least biased data does not show an adverse effect.

      The ethics of abortion are up to interpretation. Different groups are in disagreement, and these disagreements usually spawn from fundamentally different world views. People who support the right to abort believe that it is up to a woman to decide if an abortion is the right choice for her. Personally I think for the government to limit access to abortion prior to viability is to promote one particular religious/ethical view over another, which is not the role of government. As the country’s population is not in agreement over what the ethics are, the most appropriate thing for government to do is to let individuals decide what is right for them. For a government to not do so is to force a particular ethical and religious view on an entire population, something that this country was founded to prevent.

      >> Could you please stay in the confines of your expertise of female health, not death topics

      I’m well within my expertise here, perhaps more so than many other topics I have posted on. I posted on this topic because I had something to say about it, and as it is my blog that’s reason enough. Choosing to not make the post would be doing exactly what I said pro-choice should not do, which is to remain quiet. I don’t consider this a “death” topic, nor do I even know what that means. It is an important part of the overall topic of women’s health, and an important topic for discourse.

      I assume you are here because you have found something valuable in some of the other things I have written, or the conversations that ensued. Here we see a good example of how someone that believes quite strongly in promoting women’s health can also believe strongly in the right to abort a pregnancy.

  3. Jenni
    April 6, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    I agree that the pro-choice movement needs to get off the defensive. The far Left has been saying that for years. For example, the whole “We can all agree on the need to reduce the number of abortions.” Really? By doing that, we are conceding that there is something wrong with abortion. What a wonderful gift to the anti-choicers.

    Another problem is the fact that most of the Left is still married to the Democratic Party. Whenever a Democrat is in office, it’s “Don’t rock the boat. Let ‘our’ president handle it.” Whenever a Republican is in office, it’s not “Take to the streets!” but “Wait until the next election and vote Democrat.” We need to stop relying on the ever-more-conservative corporate Democrats and build a movement that is not afraid to a) defend women’s right to reproductive freedom, and b) do so without apology.

    I disagree with your assertion that we need to stop pretending that abortion does not destroy life. That would be yet another concession to the anti-choicers, and anyway, we all know that a fetus is alive in the same way that egg and sperm cells are alive, plants are alive, etc. The issue is whether a fetus counts as a person. We will never convince most fundamentalist Christians that it doesn’t, and that’s ok. The majority of Americans are not fundamentalist Christians.

    • April 7, 2010 at 2:34 am

      >> For example, the whole “We can all agree on the need to reduce the number of abortions.”

      We should all agree that we need to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies for their own sake, not to prevent abortions.

      >> I disagree with your assertion that we need to stop pretending that abortion does not destroy life….a fetus is alive in the same way that egg and sperm cells are alive, plants are alive….The issue is whether a fetus counts as a person.

      We are saying the same thing I think. Living in a conservative state, I see how the “its not life” argument comes across to the middle ground people, and its not good. I think it undermines efforts and makes Pro-choice come across a little callous about the whole thing. A fetus is alive the same way a plant is alive the same way a born human is alive. Saying that it is not life dehumanizes Pro-choice, and hurts the cause I think.

      I was once asked by a state senator during a hearing “Doctor in your medical opinion, when does human life begin?” I answered “Sir I am so glad you asked that question. My answer is that I have no expertise in that question. You could ask every person in this room and get a different answer, and no one would be more right than anyone else. I have no more authority to answer it than the janitor cleaning the hall. It is a question of philosophy, not of science. When we do an abortion, living tissue ceases to live. The same happens when a hunter shoots a deer, when you step on an insect, or when a person dies at the end of their life.

      Some would say that human life starts at viability, but even this cannot be fairly said. Viability is defined not by some fundamental truth, but by the limits of our technology. Twenty years ago a 28 weeker could not survive, but today they routinely do well. Did the meaning of life change in the last 20 years?”

      • Gwen
        April 7, 2010 at 2:54 am

        The argument about whether a foetus is alive cannot be won, because “alive” and “human life” and “person” can mean anything you want it to mean depending on your particular persuasion.

        That’s not to say that morally compelling arguments can’t be found. Assume for a moment that a foetus is alive. How is it morally defensible that a mother can be forced against her will to use her body to sustain another life?

        Departing entirely from medical reality, assume for a moment that you need a blood transfusion to live. For whatever reason, the only person who can provide that blood is me. Donating the blood will not adversely affect my health in any way (which is more than can be said even for a healthy pregnancy). However, should I refuse to donate, however unreasonably, thereby causing you to die, I cannot believe that any rational person would say that I should be legally obliged to do so.

  4. April 6, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    I’m reading this in the UK, where the situation is different (I believe access to abortion providers is a bit easier, unless you are in Northern Ireland where there is none). But similar arguments against choice, etc. Agree with Jenni that the issue wis whether a foetus counts as a PERSON. This is crucial because it can become a rights of women vs rights of foetus issue. The pro-lifers try to make out that a foetus is an ‘unborn person’ – we have to counter that, even though that’s a reactive position.

    Also re. billboards, a large part of the issue is that the pro-life lobby have much larger funding sources than the pro-choice lobby, that’s why they can pay for the adverts.

    In sisterhood.

  5. April 7, 2010 at 1:22 am

    “Prior to Roe v Wade hospitals had entire wards full of women injured or dying from illegal untrained abortion. ” — cite your source, please.

    I’ve read this numerous times, but I have yet to find a reputable source for this saying. I have, however, found this which shows that 5,000-10,000 abortion deaths per year was fictional, and most abortion proponents who quoted it knew it was (but used it anyway, because it furthered their purpose of legalization). Deaths and injury from illegal abortion dropped, along with maternal mortality in general, with the introduction of antibiotics and improved obstetric techniques. Most illegal abortions were performed by doctors (about 90%). Mary Calderone, Medical Director of Planned Parenthood, said that about 260 women died in 1957 from all forms of abortion (including miscarriage, legal abortion and illegal abortion). If she were lying, it would be to increase, not decrease, the number of women dying from illegal abortion, as a sympathy plea to make abortion legal to save women’s lives.

    And I agree with some of your other commenters who say that the real issue is whether or not the fetus is a person. If it is, then women are not just making choices for their own bodies, but for somebody else’s body as well. If women resist having men tell them what to do with their own body, how can they turn around and then make death decisions for someone else’s body? The Supreme Court once decided that slaves were mere property, and we can all look back and say that that decision was incorrect. The Supreme Court has also decided that fetuses are mere property, to be disposed of as the woman will. I hope one day we can also look back and say that that decision was likewise incorrect.

    • April 7, 2010 at 2:47 am

      >> I’ve read this numerous times, but I have yet to find a reputable source for saying this.

      I don’t need a source – I have first hand knowledge. The very hospital where I trained once had an entire ward devoted to women with post abortal sepsis. Per several of my attendings who were there at that time, it was regularly full.

      • April 7, 2010 at 10:08 am

        Sorry, not good enough. On the “Science & Sensibility” blog you recently commented, “I really don’t think anyone in either community (medical or midwifery) has up to date or ACCURATE stats. about the actual rates.

        You are right of course – but we do have to work with the best stats we have, right?

        I have to wonder if there is any reporting bias in homebirth stats. It seems to me that there is a much greater opportunity for an adverse outcome to go unreported in a homebirth situation than in an in-hospital birth. Do any of the midwives have comment on this? What are the mechanisms to ensure that outcomes in homebirths are reported?”

        All of these things and more could be said about the abortion stats of that era. And today.

    • April 7, 2010 at 11:43 am

      I’m not sure how telling you the history of the hospital I work in can’t be good enough. The statement that my hospital had a ward of about 15 beds dedicated to the care of women injured from unsafe abortions and that this ward was full most of the time is a fact, not me quoting some statistics. You might argue that my hospital doesn’t represent the norm, which I would disagree with.

      We have to work with the best stats we have, and the best stats we have and our knowledge of history tells us that a lot of people were injured by unskilled abortion providers prior to the legalization of abortion. Its not like this is some ancient history thing. You can go ask any OB/GYN who practiced back then. There are lots around and are typically quite happy to share their experiences.

      • April 7, 2010 at 1:57 pm

        No, the best stats we have indicate that the problem with women being injured or killed by illegal abortion was exaggerated by abortion advocates then, and that skewed history is repeated by abortion advocates now. The overwhelming majority of abortions performed then were done by doctors — abortion advocates such as Mary Calderone said that at the time. If there was a problem with doctors performing abortions and causing sepsis before legalization, then there was a problem with doctors performing abortions and causing sepsis after legalization. Changing human law does not change natural laws governing the causes and cures of infection.

        If there are better stats than the ones I presented, you should be able to easily find them. However, to put it in perspective, the maternal death rate in 1950 (after the introduction of penicillin and safe blood transfusion but with abortion still very illegal) was 83.3/100,000 (p. 14); there were 3,632,000 births that year, for a total of just over 3000 maternal deaths for the entire country of all causes, from ectopic pregnancy to preeclampsia to postpartum hemorrhage and everything in between. There were about 10,000 maternal deaths total in 1940 for all reasons, not just unsafe abortion. As you go further back in time, maternal deaths were even higher, without even sulfa drugs, with overuse of unnecessary obstetric procedures (search for the White House report on maternal mortality in 1935), prior to safe blood transfusion, and with ignorance about many other maternal health matters (such as how to recognize and safely treat women with preeclampsia). You have to go back to 1925 & 1930 to find 17-18K maternal deaths from all reasons, which would be the only time-frame and maternal death rate that would reasonably accommodate 5-10K deaths due to unsafe abortion. Yet we dropped that high rate to a total of about 800 maternal deaths per year in 1970 for all reasons, while abortion was still illegal in almost all of the states (although I think Calif & NY were legal prior to Roe, maybe as early as ’67).

        You know as well as I do that anecdotal evidence can be skewed beyond recognition, as the “telephone game” is played, passing information from one person to another [for example, my friend's father cut off the tip of his finger one day, and by the time I got to school an hour or two later, the story was that he had died]; and memories can get fuzzy and skewed as well, with the passage of time. You ever hear about the fish that got away? Or your grandfather walking to school “uphill both ways, in the snow”?

      • April 9, 2010 at 7:55 am

        Assuming the 15 bed unit is an accurate memory…it also needs to be put into perspective of how large the hospital was (i.e. how many beds were there in the maternity unit?), and whether this was a hospital that was set up to take transfers from other hospitals on “post abortion” cases such that other hospitals would not house them at all, they would all be transferred to the hospital you are in.

        Kathy…standing ovation to you!

    • April 7, 2010 at 11:44 am

      And read “Cider House Rules”. Though it is a work of fiction, the setting it describes is quite accurate.

      • SaanenMother
        April 7, 2010 at 2:15 pm

        Yup-Cider House Rules is such a good look into this dichotomy.

    • April 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm

      Kathy – I don’t care to argue against your stats, though I doubt your source to some extent. I don’t think there were good stats kept back then. As you (and I) pointed out, unintended death from medical procedures is generally skewed towards under reporting.

      In 2008 1.2 million abortions were performed for a wide range of women in this country. Clearly abortion is something that is widely accepted from this number alone. Can we truly conceive of making something illegal that is done for 40% of women at some time in their life? Abortion is the single most common procedure performed for women worldwide.

      • April 8, 2010 at 6:19 am

        100% of children used to ride in cars without being buckled in, much less in specially designed car seats. I think that is now illegal in most if not all states (though the punishment is probably fairly light — a traffic ticket in most cases). Just because something is common doesn’t mean it is correct, best, or can’t be made illegal. Would you use that same line of reasoning to keep from outlawing female genital mutilation? Many intactivists are actually trying to pass legislation making male circumcision illegal, like female circ is illegal in the US (and many other countries; though it is common in many countries — Egypt has a 90%+ rate), though male circ is more common in our country than even abortion.

        And by your reasoning, we should no longer outlaw violent crime, since there are about 2 million violent crimes per year, so it’s obviously common and must then be widely accepted in our country. And the murders of tens of millions of people by Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, etc. were all A-OK, since it was so common and was done to so many people at some point in their life. I know you don’t believe that; and your reasoning would likely be that no matter how common it is, violent crime is wrong, so should remain illegal. If abortion is wrong (which it is, since it takes an innocent human life without just cause), then it should be illegal, just as murder, rape, burglary, embezzlement, etc. are illegal, no matter how common they is.

      • April 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm

        Kathy >> And by your reasoning, we should no longer outlaw violent crime, since there are about 2 million violent crimes per year, so it’s obviously common and must then be widely accepted in our country.

        Hmm. Doesn’t work for me. The entire country believes that violent crime is wrong, even the criminals. There are hundreds of millions of men and women in this country, and billions worldwide, who do not feel that abortion is wrong or violent.

        What is happening here is exactly what I pointed out in my post – two intelligent people making different conclusions because they have very different premises to base those conclusions on.

        Your comments on circumcision make me laugh :) Women who were circumcised look back at that as a negative experience in their life and see it as something they would want not to be done to other women. Men don’t feel that way about their circumcisions, at least not any I know, and certainly not me. Honestly I don’t know of a single man that feels that male circumcision is a problem, and ultimately if its anybody’s problem, its men’s.

      • SaanenMother
        April 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm

        A circumcision post would be good Doctor btw. I would love to see what men and doctors think about the movement of intactivists.

      • April 9, 2010 at 2:10 am

        Look up “Doctors Opposing Circumcision” as a good place to start for what *some* doctors think of circumcision.

      • April 9, 2010 at 2:09 am

        Many aborting women believe it is wrong, and many have regrets. Even many abortionists have come to the conclusion (sometimes after tens of thousands of abortions) that what they are doing is wrong.

        And, yes, I agree with you 100% that different premises inevitably lead to different conclusions.

        Not all women who were circumcised think it is a bad thing — you can see that in many societies where it is done, that it is circumcised mothers who bring their daughters to the circumcision, and women who do the cutting — either they do it reluctantly and under compulsion (perhaps because it is “the right thing to do” even though they hate it), or they don’t think it is so bad — much like you don’t think your circumcision was so bad. Some women and some men have no problems with circumcision, and you’ll find people of both sexes who think that it was a wonderful thing that happened to them; and some people of both sexes will say that it was a horrible experience — such as Alex above. Much of the trauma that women feel about their circumcision is that it is frequently performed when they are older children and remember it; most men are circ’d when they are too young to protest it or defend themselves, and blessedly do not remember it. Perhaps you just need to get out more, to find men who believe that male circ is a problem, and not just for men. In all your free time [yes, I'm being cheeky again] you can look up intactivist websites, such as Doctors Opposing Circumcision and NoCirc.org, search for “foreskin restoration” (one male intactivist who comments on my circ posts on my blog is called “Restoring Tally” — he’s posted on several other blogs, and you may be able to find such comments by Googling that name), etc.

      • April 9, 2010 at 9:44 am

        Well, actually, there are some women, including Dr. Christine Northrup (http://mensightmagazine.com/Articles/Northrup/lovecirc.htm), who argue that male circumcision impacts on the female sexual experience with men–resulting in many of the sexual complaints that women start having in their mid-late 30’s. You might consider reading the book “Sex as Nature Intended It” to learn more about this. If this theory is true, male circumcision is a woman’s problem too, and so yes, I feel a bit cheated that my husband is circumcized.

      • Amy
        April 13, 2010 at 2:13 pm

        Actually, my husband IS very angry that he was circumcised and he was seriously opposed to having our son circumcised. Not that I disagreed or anything. Why cut off healthy, functional tissue?

    • April 13, 2010 at 3:59 pm

      So I don’t get part of this argument.

      I say that prior to Roe V Wade lots of women were being injured by unsafe abortion procedures.

      You argue that my stats are off and that there really weren’t a lot of women getting hurt, and that doctors who performed abortions illegally prior to Roe V Wade were using proper technique.

      So what does this even mean?

      Lets assume that you are right on this (though I don’t believe you are)

      Does the proposed fact that women were able to get safe abortion prior to Roe V Wade then justify abortion being illegal? That seems to be what you are saying, which to me makes no sense.

      To me it means quite the opposite – which is that despite abortion being illegal a huge number of women were seeking abortion, and were provided that service outside of the law (safely or not.) This alone is strong evidence that the society, while being divided on the morality of abortion, tacitly agrees together that abortion access is something we want.

      Across this country, abortion clinics are filled with women from all types of backgrounds, and with all kinds of moral views on abortion. A substantial number of women getting abortions have previously stated that they were generally against abortion, but that this general feeling did not impact their view on whether or not they would seek abortion themselves.

      I have personally taken care of a number of women who protested outside the very abortion clinic where they were getting care the day before they had an abortion procedure. From a big picture point of view they were against abortion, but from a personal need point of view, they were glad they had the choice.

  6. Mike Gray
    April 7, 2010 at 2:06 am

    Nick,

    I disagree with your premise that it is a weak position to argue that killing in certain circumstances is justified while abortion is not.

    While I personally disagree that the Iraq war is a just war (though admittedly, I did support it initially), if you believe that there is a such thing as a just war, then killing in the name of that just cause is logically sound. For instance, we might say that WWII was a just war for a variety of reasons.

    And in the issue of the death penalty, I would argue that a person can do something so heinous that taking of that person’s life is just whether you want to say it’s for retribution or for the protection of society. But it can be argued that the person made poor choices knowing it might lead to the forfeiture of his own life.

    But in the case of a baby, there isn’t a moral justification because the baby has done nothing wrong. Some would argue that abortion should never be allowed, but I personally would allow it in the very narrow circumstance where the mother is at direct risk. In that case, it should be her choice whether she wishes to risk her own life to save the life of the child. It’s a terrible choice and I would not want to be the person making that decision. But I don’t think I should be able to make that decision as a bystander either.

    In fact, I think the reverse of your premise is true. If one argues that taking a life in war or in the name of justice is always wrong, then there cannot be a case where taking the life of a child is morally sound. If self defense/preservation, defense of others, and justice are not moral grounds for taking of life, then certainly taking of life on a whim cannot be just either.

    But, if one argues that taking of life in war or in justice can sometimes be morally sound, then I fail to see where taking a life via abortion meets the same kind of criteria to consider it justified (self-defense, punishment for crime, saving the lives of others, etc.), except in the narrow case that I mentioned.

    I certainly understand your point of arguing the legal aspect instead of the moral aspect in the sense of winning the fight. That sounds like a good strategy if winning the fight is the only goal. But I don’t get it from a logical moral standpoint. If a person thinks that abortion is moral, then proving that case should take care of the legal aspect by default. Surely, we wouldn’t ban acceptable moral behavior. And if a person thinks that abortion is immoral, then why would he support it in the first place? The bottom line is, if you can’t prove that abortion is moral, then you’re never going to change anyone’s mind, because that’s what the issue boils down to for those of us on the other side.

    • April 7, 2010 at 2:44 am

      >> The bottom line is, if you can’t prove that abortion is moral, then you’re never going to change anyone’s mind, because that’s what the issue boils down to for those of us on the other side.

      Can you ever “prove” something is moral? I would say not. Morality shifts over time as society develops. There are some fundamental moral ideas that have been consistent over time. Whether or not it is acceptable to end a pregnancy would not fall into that category, as large segments of the world population disagree on this point.

      I am not saying that war is fundamentally unjust. I am saying that as a human society, we have decided that there are acceptable reasons to destroy life. We make war to protect our future. A young woman who gets pregnant at 18 and has an abortion is protecting her future as well. If she continues her pregnancy she is far less likely to become educated and on the average will have a lower standard of living than if she delayed childearing to a later age.

      • Mike Gray
        April 7, 2010 at 7:03 am

        It’s fair to say that morality can’t be proven. Maybe a better word to use is “convince”. Convincing people would be a better way to put it.

        Personally, I would not call a war waged for the purpose of securing economic future a just war. Similarly, I would not consider the economic future of a mother to be a just reason for an abortion. That logic opens a whole host of examples where it would be just to kill another person to secure one’s own financial future.

        Waging a war in the name of self preservation, to me, would be a just war. Just like aborting a baby in the act of saving the mother could be considered a just reason.

      • Jennifer
        April 8, 2010 at 9:15 am

        So it’s okay for an 18 yr-old to kill a child in order to protect her own future? Do you not hear the lunacy in your own argument? It’s time to stop pretending the baby isn’t a person; a separate person, not an extension of the mother’s body. She’s permanently ending the future of another person. How is that acceptable by any standard of civilized society?

        It’s also time to stop referring to abortion as terminating a pregnancy, as though you can stop being pregnant without killing the baby. Pregnancy is simply the condition the results from the presence of a new human being having been created through sexual intercourse. Calling abortion “terminating a pregnancy” makes it sound so clinical, so medical, so reasonable and maybe helps people sleep at night, but let’s call it what it is: killing the child in the womb.

        That 18 year old needs to protect her future by keeping her pants on, using her brain instead of her hormones, and above all, having an accurate understanding of the consequences of sex. It’s not a recreational game. It can change your whole life, so if you’re motivated to guard your own future, then be smart.

    • April 7, 2010 at 7:51 am

      Mike – you’re making a excellent argument in support of why Pro-choice should not try to argue morality. You believe a fetus is a person, while most if not all pro-choice people do not. There is no point trying to convince you of otherwise, as this is part of your basic ethos. Thus there is no point of trying to “convince” you or anyone that the pro-choice argument is ethically sound, as such as argument is based on premises not shared by those with opposing views.

      Pro-choice people believe that it is just for a woman to have an abortion at any time prior to viability, for any reason. No justification is required.

      If Pro-choice as a group wants to further their (our) cause, efforts need to be focused on the practical repercussions of decreased or absent abortion access in this country.

  7. mommymichael
    April 7, 2010 at 4:00 am

    Coming from a conservative background, as well as being a Navy wife and rape survivor.. I’m pro-life.

    I don’t think it’s fair to say “well you support the war, but you don’t support abortion.”
    I understand our troops are over there. I don’t know what to believe in regards to why were their. But I do support my husband and our troops. And until a fetus starts spraying gunfire at the womb, I will support the troops and not abortion.

    I support life, but I support a woman’s right to choose — should the pregnancy be endangering her health. Who am I to say “you have no right to abort that child in order to live.”
    But in reality, what do the stats say? How many of these abortions are caused by medical necessity, or are caused because a woman was raped?

    I think most are because a woman doesn’t want to deal with the consequences of a bad decision. I suppose that’s her own right, but it’s sad that a baby has to die because of it.
    What about protecting life – and futures and supporting adoption?

    • April 7, 2010 at 4:25 am

      You are a great example of the middle ground that Pro-choice needs to speak to. You are generally against elective abortion without medical cause but also state that “I suppose that’s her right.”. If I understand you correctly you see abortion as a necessary evil. If people like yourself could be convinced of the negative effects that a nationwide abortion ban would have on this nation, we would have a lot more support in preventing such legislation, and in many cases expanding access in areas where it is not available.

    • April 7, 2010 at 1:03 pm

      Mommymic-You state that “I think most [abortions] are because a woman doesn’t want to deal with the consequences of a bad decision.”

      What about women who routinely practice safe sex, but the condom broke one night? Or a woman who forgot to take her birth control pill just once? Or women who become pregnant against all odds, with no apparent reason as to WHY her birth control failed, it just did?

      The world is not as black and white as your statement suggests. Subscribing to the idea that most abortions are just because irresponsible people want to escape consequences is very irresponsible on your part.

  8. mommymichael
    April 7, 2010 at 4:01 am

    meant to type “why we’re there.” Hard to focus when you have 3 little ones crawling in your lap. lol

    • April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

      Thanks for the comment.

      I think maybe I worded something poorly. My point about war is only to use it as an example of how we find destruction of life to be an ethical act in some cases, and how that undermines an argument against abortion purely because it is destroying life.

      I very much support our military and our troups, and do not want to communicate a different message. I’m not completely in support of our current foreign policy, but feel a deep appreciation for the individuals who have devoted and in some cases risked their life to executing that policy.

  9. April 7, 2010 at 4:39 am

    A woman does what she desires with her body.

  10. CountryMidwife
    April 7, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Kathy – adequate statistics did not exist prior to Roe v. Wade, for a number of confounding reasons. And if we’re honest about it, you won’t trust my statistics from UNFPA or IPPF (a woman dies from unsafe abortion worldwide every eight minutes) and I won’t trust your statistics from conservative think tank sources, right? So I’ll jump in with my anecdotal experience: if you don’t believe women are dying of unsafe abortion at tragic rates, I challenge you to volunteer in a maternal-child health program in a third world country for a month. Go to Haiti – there’s lots of opportunities right now. I lived and worked as a midwife in SE Asia for several years, in a country were abortion was illegal. Rich women had “D&E’s” or “menstrual extractions” left and right with their doctors. Poor women had unsafe abortions and died at rates far exceeding even unattended childbirth. I don’t know if the average American woman, in her privilege, can begin to comprehend the desperation of a poor woman in a developing nation, who has already born 10 babies and is 26, who has buried 3 or 4 in infancy, who can’t feed or find enough water for the children she still has, who risks orphaning those children with another birth… Abortion is, I concede, the lesser of two evils, and nobody wants it to have to happen. But even here, there’s more to the story. It’s a fallacy among pro-lifers that the women having the abortions in America are either thoughtless teenagers or serial aborters who use it as birth control. The average American woman undergoing an elective termination of pregnancy is married, poor, and a mother to several children already. Last word on my soapbox: what is the single biggest invention in human history? The wheel? Electricity? Airplane? Antibiotic? No – contraception. This world would be a very different place if every woman faced 18 pregnancies in her lifetime, and the related risk that presents. So if anything, pro-lifers, please please please just support the right to contraception information. There is a heck of a lot of data to support that abstinence education does not work.

    • April 8, 2010 at 7:27 am

      There were certainly problems collecting stats on illegal procedures, by the very nature that it was illegal; yet we have estimated statistics on how many rapes occur in the US, although that is illegal and many victims do not report the crime. But abortion mortality would have been fairly accurate, because a postmortem would certainly show a recent pregnancy (or a retained fetus), and probably also signs of an abortion attempt (lacerated cervix, perforated uterus, etc.) as the cause of death or a contributing factor. Some doctors may have hidden the death either because they were the abortionist, or to shield the woman’s family from learning that she had had an abortion, or the cause of death might have been attributed to something other than an abortion, so it’s possible these were under-reported, but likely not by much. Also, with abortion being illegal, finding that a woman died at the hands of an abortionist would have likely sparked an investigation, rather than just being swept under the rug.

      The average American woman who is undergoing an abortion is unmarried — the Guttmacher Institute says that 67% of aborting women have never been married [and another source notes that many other aborting women are divorced or widowed, so the percentage of women who are currently married and having abortions is well under 33%], although the other stats are correct — 61% have at least 1 child and 57% are economically disadvantaged, while just less than half (47%) are having their second or higher abortion.

      Making unsafe abortion legal does not make it safe — it merely makes unsafe abortion legal. There is an equivocation that tends to happen with pro-choice sources when it comes to the terms, safe, legal, unsafe, and illegal. They tend to say “safe and legal” as if those two terms are identical, while going on about “unsafe abortions” as if they were all illegal. In our country, we dramatically reduced the number of maternal deaths due to every cause including abortion, all while abortion was very illegal (contraception may have played a contributing factor in that, but it was more due to the increase in living standards and better health-care, which lowered the number of women dying of abortion and possibly lowered the number of women who “needed” an abortion to start with).

      The fact is that some of the highest maternal mortality rates occur in countries where abortion is legal for any reason and at any time, while some of the lowest maternal mortality rates occur in countries where abortion is illegal for almost any reason and at every stage of pregnancy [and vice versa]. It is possible for abortion to safe and illegal, just as it is possible for abortion to be unsafe and legal. Nepal has abortion legal for any reason and at any time, yet it has an estimated maternal mortality rate of 830/100,000. In Romania, abortion is legal and has been legal with few or no restrictions for probably 20 years; about half of all pregnancies end in abortion, and half of all maternal mortality is due to abortion — legal abortion. Ireland has abortion illegal for any reason except to save the life of the mother, yet it has the lowest MMR in the world.

      • Anon
        April 8, 2010 at 10:16 am

        Irish women go to other countries for abortions and it is extremely difficult to estimate the numbers. http://www.lenus.ie/hse/bitstream/10147/44433/1/zstatisticalreport2005.pdf

        It’s funny you should bring up Romania, as it’s a prime example of the horrendous situation that can arise when abortion and contraception are banned. Do you not remember the Romanian orphanages? Their maternal morbidity and mortality numbers were far higher when abortion was illegal, and this was well after the invention of antibiotics and aseptic procedures. The thing is that when abortion is illegal, (poor) women do not have access to those antibiotics or to aseptic procedure. It is Ireland’s great fortune that it’s a prosperous country with abortion access nearby, in countries where they can go to and return from over the course of a couple of days.

        http://www.expert-reviews.com/doi/full/10.1586/17474108.3.2.147?cookieSet=1 “Contribution of anti-abortion laws to maternal mortality in developing countries>”

      • SaanenMother
        April 8, 2010 at 4:30 pm

        When I write this Kathy- I don’t do so to rip apart your supporting points- but just as facts- Ireland is a horrible example of anything family and abortion/pregnancy related anything. It is such an impoverished country-that using them does not constitute any gold standard of maternal anything. They have an epidemic teen pregnancy that leads to generational poverty problem.

        Additionally, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia have some of the MOST deplorable living conditions of women, children and men- again- not a great example to use to support your argument. Women are treated by and large like chattel as are their children for the international sex trade.

        FGM is a problematic example as well- more research in that area would reveal that no matter how many laws are made that women still suffer-it will literally take a worldwide sanctioning effort against the powers that be in countries that practice FGM routinely to stop this practice. Until then less will be done as younger women have access to education, but until then- it will be a tragic status quo.

      • April 9, 2010 at 12:47 am

        Ok, is Ireland an impoverished country or a prosperous one? Two people gave two different answers. However, I would consider that having the lowest MMR in the world would be a good thing. Only Vatican City would have lower, and that’s because there are no mothers there at all!

        My point at bringing up FGM is to show that just because something is common doesn’t make it right.

  11. Aly
    April 7, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Infants and children die in war. It is unavoidable. Even though I’m pro-choice, I respect those who believe that a fetus/embryo is a human life and oppose destruction of life in all circumstances, including death penalty and war. You’re right, there is no arguing when life begins because everybody will have different answers. I do know a few people who are personally pro-life, but do not support legislation against because they understand that not everybody shares their religious/ethical principles. Most likely, you don’t see protesters/billboards etc because it’s already legal. It would be nice to see some activism in this area though.

    It is also interesting to me that some individuals/institutions support a woman’s right to chose an abortion but not her right to chose a vaginal birth/ avoid a cesarean. Fetus rights versus woman rights?

    I lived in S.C. for awhile, glad to be a Yank now.

  12. Jennifer
    April 8, 2010 at 6:15 am

    Nick,

    First, your argument that pro-choice (which is really pro-abortion) needs to capitalize on the parallels between abortion and war is ridiculous. How exactly can you compare the morality of defending your country against a terrorist enemy who is hell-bent on destroying you for absolutely no reason to the murder of a defenseless, tiny baby who cannot fight back? The child in the womb is innocent, silent, vulnerable, and utterly dependent; not an enemy, but a neighbor. There is no legitimate comparison there at all. I am whole-life, pro-life, yet I maintain there are justifiable reason for going to war to defend the safety of my country and its citizens. There is no justifiable reason for killing the child in the womb.

    There is no moral argument to be made in favor of abortion because it is an immoral act, always. Killing a child is no one’s “choice.” Women’s choices must be made long before the pregnancy test comes back positive. Our real choices are to exercise the control we already have over our bodies and not have sex when we do not wish to have a child. Yep, you heard me. The problem is not the baby; the problem is our society’s obsession with sex without consequences. We are a people who can’t fathom life without sex and anything that gets in the way of our limitless enjoyment of sex must be eliminated. Our problem is one of selfishness, immorality, a complete lack of self-control, an unwillingness to be responsible — in short, we need to grow up.

    Sex is a beautiful and holy thing that is meant to be the expression of a man and woman in marriage. It is good and made by God for our pleasure AND for the creation of children! The misuse of sex is at the root of all our troubles. When you abuse the gifts God has given us, especially sex, disastrous damage is inflicted. The cure for “unplanned” pregnancy is abstinence. The cure for the spread of STDs is abstinence and fidelity.

    Pie in the sky? Wishful thinking? No. Our society just doesn’t even bother with these ideas anymore. We are saturated with sex, and we can’t even imagine life without unconstrained, “free” sex. It IS possible to be abstinent, faithful, and chaste. It does not lead to a boring or unsatisfactory life. In fact, it leads to a life filled with rich blessings and none of the damage and trouble that comes from immoral, promiscuous sex. But we are such a stupid people, so self-centered and immature that we can’t even consider keeping our pants on.

    Pro-choice is losing because pro-choice is a fallacy. It is simply wrong. Abortion kills a child, and that is not a choice. It’s murder.

    • April 8, 2010 at 3:04 pm

      First – we obvioulsy have very different premises that we base our beliefs on. I do not think a fetus is a person, nor do most people that support abortion. A fetus is alive no doubt, but in my world view has not yet graduated to personhood. Embryos are created almost every month that a fertile man and woman have sex, and about 75% of them never continue to become a successful pregnancy. Of the ones that become a clinical pregnancy, almost 50% ultimately abort for one reason or another. Human fecundity is about 15% per cycle with a 100% fertile couple.

      The pro-life stance is that there is something different about a continuing pregnancy being aborted than a pregnancy naturally failing. This feeling is not shared by me, or any pro-choice person I am aware of.

      Personhood to me is in the relationships a person has with other people. That is what makes us people. Alone in the world we are just animals. A fetus, to my world view, has a one-way relationship to its mother and is completely dependent on her. If she chooses to end that relationship, for any reason, that is just fine with me.

      You want to call it murder, which is really a legal definition of a particular way of killing someone. Some killing is murder, some is manslaughter, some is self defense – these are legal definitions. As abortion is not defined as killing a person under any law of this land, it is, by definition, not murder.

      —–

      What I find fascinating about all of this is that the comments really are proving my point. I made the argument that Pro-life wants to merge the questions of abortion morality and abortion legality, and this is exactly what the pro-life commenters have done here. Similarly, myself and the pro-choice commenters have also engaged in this discussion, despite my original premise that such a discussion is fruitless and has no point.

      • Jennifer
        April 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm

        Nicholas,
        Your reluctance to call a fetus a person and your rationale for that position are revealing… they reveal a very sad and scary definition of a person. By your criteria, a one week-old infant is not a person, either. Neither would any child for several years, since they are all utterly dependent on their parents for survival. Is that really what makes a “person?” Independence? Shall we make it legal to kill your newborn? Or your one-year old?

        Is the disabled person still a person? The mentally-disabled? What if they cannot have meaningful relationships, by your definition? Do they no longer deserve to live? If they are not capable of giving back to others, should they not be alive? Are they a person?

        You are placing the rights of one living being over the rights of another based on a very arbitrary set of standards; the pro-life position says that all human life has intrinsic value because it is human, not based on how developed that life may be, or what that life is capable of doing or not doing. Your life had value the minute you came into being at conception, simply because you were you. You’ve only been becoming more yourself every day of your life, just as we all are. We all have potential to become more every day, but that has no bearing on the value of our existence.

        Human life is intrinsically valuable and precious, period. If you can devalue human life at one stage for some reason, you can devalue human life at any stage for any reason. When is YOUR life no longer valuable? Who gets to decide that? What if you’re not able to protest someone else’s choice over your life?

        Why does the fetus — a living human being — have no voice and no say over her own life? Just because she is dependent on her mother for a period of time? Guess what? We’re all dependent on each other at various points in time. That’s part of what makes us human, too. The strong are supposed to care for the weak, not destroy them because they can.

        Murder is the intentional killing of human being. That’s what abortion is. It is hardly the same thing as a miscarriage. I lost my first child in a miscarriage, and I assure you, there is no comparison between that and CHOOSING to end your child’s life.

        It is all about convenience in our society. We speak of children as being “unwanted” and “unplanned” because their presence is inconvenient to us. Never mind that we all know exactly how babies are made and we cannot feign surprise when sex accomplishes precisely what it’s intended to! Never mind our obligation to them because we helped create them. If we don’t want them, we simply kill them. Our “rights” supercede theirs, after all. Oh wait, I forgot. They have no rights.

        What selfish nonsense!

      • April 9, 2010 at 12:51 am

        100% of all humans die at some point or other, but the intentional taking of a human life without just cause is still murder in this country. Provided the child has made it out of the womb, of course. Just because everyone is eventually going to die at some point is not a good reason to kill him before his natural death. Can you just imagine the person having the following as his defense, “Well, yeah, judge, I killed my wife, but she was going to die anyway at some point, so it’s really no big deal”?

      • April 9, 2010 at 8:33 am

        Of course you don’t believe a fetus is a person…the cognitive dissonance would be HUGE!

        Let me see if I understand your stats on conception/pregnancy correctly…I believe you are saying that every time a fertile couple (that is, woman is suitably close to ovulation, and man has normal sperm) have sex, a conception occurs. Of those, you say that 75% do not result in pregnancy–which I’m assuming by that you mean than 75% do not implant in the uterus.

        Once implanted, you say that 50% of those will then miscarry.

        Is that right?

        Hmmm…well I’ve never looked up any stats on implantation failure…but 75% seems insanely high to me. And I’ve heard that the rate of spontaneous miscarriage after implantation is actually 20%, not 50%. Do you have any research studies to support the 75%/50% numbers?

        If your stats on natural pregnancy loss are accurate, my husband and I must be some sort of freaks of nature. Because I can tell you with absolutely no reservations that EVERY time we have had unprotected sex when I was fertile I wound up pregnant. And 2 times that we used birth control. That has meant 6 pregnancies in 12 years of marriage, with one miscarriage (keep in mind that in that 12 years I’ve been “infertile” for almost 4 years due to being pregnant, and infertile for another 3 years due to lactational amnorhhea).

        I chart my cycles…so I doubt I’m missing many “early pregnancy losses.” Because trust me…if my period is more than one day late, I’m peeing on a stick.

        You said:

        “The pro-life stance is that there is something different about a continuing pregnancy being aborted than a pregnancy naturally failing.”

        Yes. Just as we see that there is something “different” about allowing a person to continue living until they die of natural causes as opposed to putting a knife to their throat.

        You keep saying that you believe that for the pro-choice side to gain ground you need to remove the moral debate from the abortion arguement…but I haven’t seen where you have explained how to do that? It is so wrapped up in morals that I believe it is impossible to remove that moral side of things.

      • April 9, 2010 at 9:22 am

        Actually, not all “pro-choicers” believe that a fetus is not a person. You can check out the resident pro-abortion troll OC (previously SoMG, if you care to go back into the archives) here where he says (as he has said frequently in numerous other threads over the course of the past year or two), that he believes a fetus is a person and that abortion is homicide, but it is justifiable homicide because the fetus is within the woman and she wants it gone.

  13. CountryMidwife
    April 8, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    while some of the lowest maternal mortality rates occur in countries where abortion is illegal for almost any reason and at every stage of pregnancy

    No, these are the countries where morbidity and mortality statistics on illegal abortions simply do not exist.

    Jennifer, sorry, but :::snooze:::: Refer to Dr. Fogelson’s prior insight that your morality is not anothers. I know that’s hard to accept, but it’s a fact. Remember too that many, many women on this world do not have access to natural family planning information, do not have regular cycles which permit its use (or access to basal temp. thermometers nevermind a source of clean water) or partners willing to abstain for 11 days a month. She in a glass house….

    • April 9, 2010 at 8:58 am

      You don’t need to have access to a basal temp thermometer, clean water, or to abstain for 11 days a month to use natural family planning.

      Basal temp is a LAGGING indicator of fertility…and as such, it only tells a woman that she has ovulated after the fact. Not exactly helpful for prevention of pregnancy.

      Cervical mucous is a leading indicator of fertility, and is thus more reliable than basal temp. A woman only needs to abstain from intercourse (or utilize a barrier method of birth control) during the days when she has fertile mucous leading up to ovulation (typically this would be no more than 5-6 days–in older women it is less). Once ovulation occurs the fertile mucous dries up rather quickly, letting a woman know that it has happened. Some women also feel ovulation as a sharp cramping sensation that lasts for about 20-30 minutes. Then since the ova only lives for 12-24 hours after ovulation, abstinence is only needed for at most 2 days after ovulation.

      • April 13, 2010 at 4:19 pm

        >> Hmmm…well I’ve never looked up any stats on implantation failure…but 75% seems insanely high to me. And I’ve heard that the rate of spontaneous miscarriage after implantation is actually 20%, not 50%. Do you have any research studies to support the 75%/50% numbers?

        Ultimately we can never know exactly what the number is, as prior to implantation there is no detectable HCG to confirm a chemical pregnancy. So I do not know the exact percentage, but given the high fertilization rates of eggs exposed to sperm in culture, it is going to be pretty high.

        Post implantation failure rates are going to depend a lot on how you measure them. If you are checking serial serum beta hcgs (identifying chemical pregancies) you will identify far more pregnancies than if you wait for the menses to be late, and thus will find a higher early loss rate. The numbers don’t matter so much, and vary in different studies. The point is that the natural state of affairs if for lots of early pregnancies to fail naturally.

        You argue with this with:

        >>> Just as we see that there is something “different” about allowing a person to continue living until they die of natural causes as opposed to putting a knife to their throat.

        It seems quite different to me. A person is an independently living being, and an early pregnancy is completely dependent on its surroundings, not to mention a very complicated set of events that need to come together to complete early fetal development.

    • April 9, 2010 at 9:06 am

      And I’m wondering…why are you bringing natural family planning into this? Jennifer certainly didn’t. I don’t see her (or anyone else here) arguing that we should not allow birth control to be provided to people in lower income brackets.

      Though I will take this moment to point out that breastfeeding, in addition to being a way to save on health care costs via healthier babies…is also a good way to suppress fertility. When I see commercials about women in 3rd world countries who have babies one right after the other, I have to wonder how much marketting formula companies are doing in those areas to even allow conceptions to happen so close together.

  14. April 8, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    I think that a lot of folks have hung up on my use of war as it relates to abortion, and I think a lot of you misunderstand my meaning in this.

    My point was that as humans, we find destruction of life to be acceptable under certain circumstances, and as such claiming that abortion is somehow unacceptable because it is destroying life is a very weak argument. It comes down to the conditions under which we will consider destruction of life to be acceptable.

    To the pro-choice world, the destruction of a life that is parasitically dependent on one person is acceptable if it desired by that person. To say otherwise would be to completely devalue the life of that woman, and her autonomy to make decisions on our own.

  15. SaanenMother
    April 8, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    I have been watching this thread since it went up because I wanted to see where it went mostly- in the epic battle it usually becomes. Country Midwife I had the same reaction you did to Jennifer’s post- YAWN. I actually wrote recently on a different board that I did not see the purpose in climbing in a time machine and trying to argue why abortion is a sad and necessary reality won’t even call it an evil Dr. Nicholas because seriously what would we do instead, and what do pro-lifers propose instead?

    After this huge amount of thinking through the “abortion is akin to murder” argument with fetus rights being touted as defined before birth the two are absolutely not congruent. Although one who is ardently pro-life may argue that a fetus has a HUMAN RIGHT to be protected, under the law- they do not possess the unalienable rights that we are allowed as people so I wish they would stop writing/saying it is murder- it simply is not. We are talking about pregnancies and “products” of coneceptus that take months to reach the size of a literal apricot- we cannot assign rights to an organism that cannot advocate, and sustain itself. I look at the theoretical scenario that a person of pro-life persuasion could be extremely forgiving and carry a pregnancy to term that was the product of a violent crime or of incest, but I just don’t think that we have a right to tell people to continue their lives with such a blatantly painful hardship-because a percentage of a political population thinks abortion is wrong. That would have to be one remarkable person to live through that.
    In terms of your war analogy Dr. Fogelson I also pose to the pro-life folks on this thread:
    Do you think that parents who find out during routine testing that their “baby” will no doubt die shortly before or after birth because of staggering health problems such as Trisomy 19 should carry their pregnancies to term? Would the pro-life contingency like to see all involved with babies that will only live mere hours suffer because all life is precious? Many ardently RELIGIOUS people end their Trisomy pregnancies because of the basic fact that Trisomy babies seldom live very long and for that short while it is a death watch. They spare the suffering of these babies in favor of not promoting a painful and devastatingly short life. I respect the decision to end a pregnancy where there will be no personhood or quality of life for that person. There is the higher ethical versus moral issue of what constitutes a humane standard of living.
    How about an adult who decides long before hand that they would not allow extraordinary means to prolong their life if their quality of life will be permanently altered such as in a brain death, terminal illness- do we keep these patients in a state of medical status quo for the term of a natural life? I know they have achieved personhood- my point is- can pro-life hold the line that ALL life is precious, the brain dead, the death row inmate, the depraved who might get killed by a revenge murder- I think not. This quirk constitutes a departure from higher moral reasoning- it reminds me of an eight year old- who can’t get past: stealing is bad. I would steal if my life or the life of my husband or child was in jeopardy. I would end a pregnancy and I acknowledge it is life if the quality of that life was compromised to the extent that a “life” would not go forward.
    I think on the two question issues- it is too hard for the pro-choice movement to argue in the absolute because then we may have to concede when life begins. I think we spend a lot of time being “good girls and boys” because it is so easy to be accused of “murder.” I don’t need that permission from the right- I have evolved past the “stealing is bad” argument. I see safety and the prevention of “back alley” and sepsis deaths as far more important than having every single pregnancy end in a full term baby. Additionally, I suggest that people who cannot separate out that abortion needs to remain legal and safe as a public health and safety issue examine the issue of who is lobbying against abortion- the so called religious right. They are one of the most powerful and deep pocketed lobbying groups in Washington who would vote to end all of the social programs and funding that babies from unintended pregnancies would rely on for the duration of their lives. Think about that.

    • April 9, 2010 at 1:14 am

      SaanenMoth, I take extreme exception to your statement, “we cannot assign rights to an organism that cannot advocate, and sustain itself.” This would apply to all children up to at least the age of 3 and perhaps higher. It would also apply to anyone who lost his ability to advocate for himself and/or to sustain himself, including people with Alzheimer’s, those in a coma, and anyone else who needs help, or who has no voice. This would also apply to women who are not allowed to advocate for themselves nor sustain themselves in certain countries. And it would apply to all victims of genocide, including most famously, the Jews who were gassed in Hitler’s Germany — they were taken from their ability to sustain themselves and were not allowed the opportunity to advocate for themselves.

      In regards to your question on killing babies who have a genetic or other defect incompatible with life — no, I do not think these mothers should kill their babies before they’re born, just because they will die at some point. We all will die at some point. I understand the reasoning behind women who choose to abort such babies, but I disagree with it. You can check out Be Not Afraid for many stories of parents who chose life for their children, even though they were given death sentences, as well as some parents who thought they had no choice but to abort or induce early given the diagnosis, and only found out later what they really had done. Many of these parents embraced the pregnancy, knowing that it was likely the only opportunity they would have with the baby alive, and rejoiced over every fetal kick, every ultrasound, every movement. In some cases, these babies were born alive, and in others they were stillborn; in some cases, the babies lived much longer than doctors predicted — and it would have been murder for me to go into the delivery room and shoot the baby in the head right after birth, despite his lethal diagnosis.

      Many pro-lifers disagree with the death penalty along with all other forms of killing, so in one way they are thoroughly consistent. I support the death penalty because a just punishment for killing an innocent person is for the murderer to forfeit his right to live.

      Oh, and “back alley abortion” sounds so bad, and for years I envisioned that it was where abortions took place — in a dark, nasty alley, with smelly garbage cans not far away. What it really means is that a pregnant woman was let into a doctor’s office by means of the back door — the door leading into the back alley — so that she wouldn’t be seen. The abortion procedure was the same as legal abortions (such as, those done to save women’s lives in the pre-Roe days), and performed by doctors. If back-alley abortions were unsafe (which many were, w/o antibiotics — that’s just the nature of abortion, particularly in those days), then legalizing them would not have made them any safer.

      • SaanenMother
        April 9, 2010 at 8:41 am

        Kathy- well of course you take exception with my comments as they are not like yours. As I read through most of your comments I am actually starting to enjoy the emerging pattern of how your moral superiority would have us all living your way of life and how you mix God with health and politics. I think you should take a moment to check the voting record of your elected officials- I think you will be aghast to see how many politicians still vote in favor of keeping (and limiting) access to abortion. Our society realizes it is a right we need to uphold despite moral objections.
        Here are some points I ask you to respectfully consider:
        Circumcision is as old as biblical *laws* so I am finding this new movement toward banning/limiting/stopping this practice interesting considering the religiosity of its loudest and most vocal opponents.
        On FGM you have obviously only done cursory, and I use that term loosely, real loosely as a matter of fact research on the devastation and health problems created by this practice. Do some research about this from Muslim women’s and African women’s perspective it was not that they weren’t empowered- they have serious health problems and are cast out and ostracized and live the life of lepers in their respective communities- not because it wasn’t so bad.
        Infanticide was the proposed solution to unwanted babies in biblical laws as well- where the pro-life moralists here derive their religious pro-life views from. A gift of Allah, Mohammed and the Q’ran was the elimination of infanticide from accepted practice along with adding divorce and women’s inheritance rights. I would have to do some biblical research to see what ancient Judeo Christain books may have outlawed infanticide- but I don’t think they address it- they do however address the acceptance of women as virginal chattel to be traded and the acceptance of incest (Jeremiah) so maybe that’s why pro-lifers think we should limit access to abortions for these victims in society. I love that intactivists are so nasty to even religious people for whom circumcision in a non-negotiable- shows such an “I’m smarter than God” attitude while they say we pro-choicers are calling the shots of “God” when we advocate for a person’s option to choose to end a pregnancy or have their son’s foreskin removed.
        I also think it odd when pro-lifers jump to the Hitler principle-it usually happens when other people/posters shoot down the abortion is murder idea. (so is meat so I say if you are truly pro-life get some tofu. Yesterday I went to my farm and “x”ed out whose going to butcher- always sad, but reality.) The genocide/Hitler argument reveals the threadbare argument of abortion alongside genocide. Maybe we should bring in a McDonald’s/Burger King argument meat is murder too.
        Again Kathy and any ardent pro-lifers I ask you- please enumerate and point out all the social and social justice programs that take in the full term babies that are saved from abortions…I’ll wait. (cue Jeopardy theme) Additionally, how many Trisomy babies and families have you all taken in and paid their staggering medical bills, or provided after-care for as they heal after that tragic circumstance: 10-100-1000 one million? These save the baby programs must be super top secret because I have never heard of them. This btw is the main reason for “safe Haven” laws- because the pro-life movement would have us all save our babies- but good luck with that ninth/tenth month of pregnancy and who will pay for and help you create a stable environment for every baby saved from abortion. I am sure if these laws were not created there would be more discarded infants- so I guess there is one thing to point to as a good thing from the pro-life contingency.

        My point with Trisomy families was not to illuminate the families that carry the babies to term this I am very well acquainted with- it was to point out that even ardently religious people who are across the board pro-life terminate these pregnancies because of the other ethical, and moral issues that accompany this devastation-. It was an attempt to point to my basic argument that the peculiar twist of *some* pro-life proponents is that their argument never gets any higher than the moral reasoning of an eight year old: stealing is bad. Abortion is murder. Clearly though some posters here have showed their hand- it’s their way or the highway- their G-d says so- so therefore that’s it end of story. I try to be more accommodating to REAL LIFE circumstances, real life ethical and moral dilemmas. I do believe life begins at conception and as the Dr. has pointed out as did I believe the midwife that was here- pregnancies do not all go to term or even get past implantation- so assigning rights to every pregnancy/fetus is at best a leap out an open logic window 20 stories to the street below.
        Also- pardon my age for the “back alley” term. (born January 22, oh the irony) I was raised in the seventies so that is the verbiage I grew up knowing. We can call it what is is/was: clean sterile environments where doctors performed sterile and safe abortions that no one would see. I have no problem with that. My support for the need for abortion to exist is that I don’t want to see people who decide they have to end a pregnancy have to have dangerous health care because of the exception of a select group of fellow citizens. I don’t like to see women use it as contraception (I have seen this) I do think partial birth abortion is abhorrent BUT I know reality and that is that there is an infinitesimal chance that a fetus will survive at 22-28 weeks even with all technological advances in medicine today.

        I am definitely all over the place in my feelings about this- I admit that. I consider my own moral ambiguities pretty glaring. However Kathy- I consider yours hilarious!
        “Many pro-lifers disagree with the death penalty along with all other forms of killing, so in one way they are thoroughly consistent. I support the death penalty because a just punishment for killing an innocent person is for the murderer to forfeit his right to live.”

        ummm okay.Pro-life Hall of mirrors here I come.

      • Anon
        April 9, 2010 at 4:10 pm

        Godwin’s Law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies) is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1990 which has become an Internet adage. It states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”

        Proven again!

  16. April 8, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    What do the anti-choice people in this thread propose to do to women who choose to have an abortion in the event it is made illegal? How do they propose to determine what pregnancies were purposely aborted and which ones were not? Will they put a gun to a woman’s head, force feed her, turn her into a human incubator, and force her to give birth to a child against her will? What would that do to a child who discovered he/she was brought into the world in such a fashion?

    On a further note, I am circumcised and I wish that I wasn’t. In fact I feel extremely bitter against my parents every time I think about the fact that they chopped off a piece of my body against my will. I have a serious problem with the head of my now exposed penis chaffing against my clothing when playing sports or from too much joystick play. It is very uncomfortable for me and completely unnecessary. I had a piece of skin that protected what is apparently an unusually sensitive glans, but is now gone for absolutely no practical medical purpose. It is my body not my parents. What gave them the right to chop off a piece of my body against my will?

    • Mike Gray
      April 8, 2010 at 11:00 pm

      Interesting point, Alex. At least they didn’t decide to have you killed against your will instead.

      • April 13, 2010 at 4:22 pm

        Does a embryo have a will? Given the complete lack of neural differentiation in the embryo phase, we can pretty clearly say no. When a fetus develops consciousness is something we can argue about, but embryos aren’t doing any thinking.

    • April 9, 2010 at 1:38 am

      Alex,
      You seem to be anti-choice yourself, when it comes to circumcision. This is because you recognize that, even as a helpless one-day old baby who could not advocate for himself nor sustain himself, your parents did not have the right to do with your body what they wanted. In the same vein, I recognize that parents do not have the right to do with their fetuses’ bodies whatever they want. You lived to be “extremely bitter” against your parents for their actions which were not their right; aborted babies do not live to be able to be extremely bitter over their untimely deaths — do you think they would be? If you want to hear the position of aborted fetuses, you can look up Gianna Jessen & Melissa Ohden, who both survived being aborted. You might find that they have a similar response about their attempted murder that you have about your accomplished circumcision — what right did your parents have to do that to you?

      Now, as what to do with women — historically, it was abortionists who were prosecuted, usually in cases of maternal death or severe morbidity, in which the aborting women were viewed as victims.

      And if children who were “brought into the world in such a fashion” can’t live with the idea that they were not wanted at birth, I guess they can always commit suicide. If they don’t, then they are giving tacit approval to the idea that although the circumstances of their conception or birth may not have been ideal, they’d still rather live as not. In this paragraph, I’m being a little “cheeky” as the Brits might say because your language is a little over the top and invites such a response. I really don’t view it with such levity.

  17. April 8, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    To my pro-life / anti-abortion commenters who have said that a fetus is a person:

    What is the origin of this belief? Your religion? If so, where does your religion say that a embryo or fetus is a person? If not religion, then where?

    I was born in the same world as you, and yet I did not come to the same conclusion, so it must not be some genetic instinct we are born with. Therefore we learned it somewhere. So where did you learn it?

    ***

    I have to apologize to all about the comment system. Its hard to get your comment to appear where it should appear. Something is wrong with the WordPress system. I’m moving everything to Squarespace soon anyway.

    • Mike Gray
      April 8, 2010 at 11:17 pm

      My origin for that belief is not religious because I’m not a religious person. Instead, I look a a pregnancy in 5 minute chunks.

      I think even most pro-choice people would agree that delivering a baby, putting it in the mother’s arms, taking it back and shooting it in the head would be murder. So what changed in that 5 minutes to justify a partial-birth abortion? Cutting the umbilical cord? The baby has not developed to any measurable degree in that time.

      What about people that don’t agree with abortion at that late stage but are ok with it before the third trimester? The question still stands. What changed in that 5 minutes to make abortion ok in one instant, but not ok 5 minutes later?

      At some point, even most pro-choice people will declare a point when it’s too late. Well, what changed in that 5 minutes?

      Once conception takes place, if we do not take action, in most circumstances, a child will be born whether we want it to happen or not. Until someone can point me to the specific instant in time when status changes from organism to baby then I have no choice but to believe it happens at conception, despite the fact that biologically it looks nothing like a baby at that point.

      • April 13, 2010 at 4:24 pm

        >> At some point, even most pro-choice people will declare a point when it’s too late. Well, what changed in that 5 minutes?

        The judgement of society as a whole. Ethics are a construct of society, and evolve over time.

        I have often been surprised at an apparent lack of ethics in some physicians who are much older than I am, but I have to remember that at the in their life that they were developing their ethical constructs society had different thoughts about some of these things.

    • April 9, 2010 at 1:59 am

      In my case it’s a mixture of religion and reason. First, the “reason” side — if human life ought to be protected because it’s human, then we shouldn’t say that “these humans have the right to life, while those humans don’t,” simply because one set fits certain criteria while the others don’t — in this case, location and perhaps size. If human life ought not to be protected merely because it is human, then it makes no difference whether I shoot a dog, an adult, an infant, or a pre-born.

      Now, for the religious side — man is made in the image of God, which is the reason why human life is protected and more valuable and sacred than plants or animal. Also, “like begets like”; so, the offspring is of the same “stuff” as the parents from the point of conception — therefore, a fetus, embryo, zygote, or whatever names you choose to give us from the time of conception until birth, is human — which you accept. Abortion advocates have had to restructure the playing field numerous times as advances in science, medicine, and technology have forced previous positions to become untenable. Part of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Roe & Doe cases was that “we don’t know when life began.” You at least are more honest than them and the President, and say that, yes, the fetus is alive and has been from conception. However, you are now moving the goalposts, as it were, by saying, “Ok, ok, it’s human and alive, but it’s not a person, so we can do what we want with it.” Why? And who else will have their rights of personhood taken from them, so that they can be freely killed without recourse? That’s what happened in Hitler’s Germany, in which millions of Jews, blacks, homosexuals, mentally incompetent, physically deformed, dwarves, etc., were degraded as less than human “useless eaters” and fit only for death.

  18. Anon
    April 9, 2010 at 5:19 am

    @ Kathy, I’m unpersuaded even if I accept your premises. No person, no matter what size, has the right to live inside my body. This is not simply a matter of “location”.

    What if you found yourself hooked up to a dialysis-type machine to another person who needed to use your kidneys for 9 months while on the transplant waiting list. Let’s say this happened without your consent. If you disconnect the machine, this person will die. Do you have the right to disconnect? Why or why not? Pretend that a legal right is different from a moral obligation.

    Perhaps your argument from religion reveals the problem: man is made in the image of g-d. Men don’t become pregnant.

    • April 9, 2010 at 6:44 am

      But almost all women who abort do so with babies who were conceived during a willing act of sex — I don’t know the exact stats but something like fewer than 1% of abortions that take place in America do so for the stated reasons of rape, incest, or the life of the mother. A more apt analogy then would be, what if you gave somebody a kidney for nine months, and then a month later changed your mind and wanted it back. What then?

      Sorry, I was being old-fashioned I guess (using proper grammar and all), when I considered “man” to be a generic form of human, while “woman” is special. Perhaps you don’t think so, and I feel sorry for you. Let me rephrase it — “mankind” was made in the image of God — male *and* female. Yes, men don’t get pregnant, but you can whine and moan about that either to God or to blind chance — either way it doesn’t help matters to complain about it, because if God did it, then He’s smarter than you, just like human parents are smarter than their little children; and if evolution did it, then nothing means anything anyway — we’re just rearranged pond scum, and Hitler did nothing wrong with trying to kill those he considered to be less than human, because he was just getting rid of the weaker members of our species.

  19. April 9, 2010 at 9:21 am

    SaanenMother :… any ardent pro-lifers I ask you- please enumerate and point out all the social and social justice programs that take in the full term babies that are saved from abortions…I’ll wait. (cue Jeopardy theme) … These save the baby programs must be super top secret because I have never heard of them. This btw is the main reason for “safe Haven” laws- because the pro-life movement would have us all save our babies- but good luck with that ninth/tenth month of pregnancy and who will pay for and help you create a stable environment for every baby saved from abortion. I am sure if these laws were not created there would be more discarded infants- so I guess there is one thing to point to as a good thing from the pro-life contingency.

    While I will admit that there aren’t programs directly aimed at supporting the costs related to Trisomy babies (though I’ve known a few families over the years that did make a lifestyle choice to adopt handicapped children)…but there are programs aimed at helping women who would have aborted to support themselves and their babies. That is precisely what “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” do. They provide clothing, baby supplies, life-education (like how to grocery shop or keep a house clean), job training, assistance with finding jobs, and many provide temporary housing–private apartments–for women to live in while they are getting on their feet.

    Which is a lot more than Planned Parenthood does when they offer an abortion to “help” a woman who feels financially unable to take care of her baby, and then sends her right back into the life that left her feeling like she didn’t have any option other than to have an abortion.

    • SaanenMother
      April 9, 2010 at 9:52 am

      They give them clothes etc. in infancy- loads of help there– I say wanna impress me- bust out your checkbook and adopt a Mom and baby from 0 to 18 years and then pay for college for them. It is as I thought- (every year at Christmas time our family went to a birthday party for Jesus at church where we donated to these centers. When I was a teen I was like what- this is not enough! I wasn’t even through with high school and realized some baby clothes and diapers was not enough to support a baby. I couldn’t understand why they would.)
      I am sure that the assistance they offer as a good will gesture is coupled with aid to transitional assistance (sometimes called welfare, mandatory state’s health insurance, wic, food stamps, section 8 or even worse an apt. the projects) So nice going…. pro-lifers. what a fantastic quality of life for mother and baby. I know when I was little I looked in the mirror and said: I want to grow up and learn how to keep a house clean, live in poverty and get a work a day minimum wage job. YAY! As I mentioned yesterday check the voting record of your pro-life elected officials I can almost guarantee you they are cutting funding that works in conjunction with these centers. Pro-lifers put your tax $$$$$ where your money is.

      BTW knitted in the womb- Trisomy babies seldom live past two years their average lifespan is: stillborn, or a matter of hours, or at the very most- a medically managed life to two years again FANTASTIC! There is literally one child in America that I know of who is over the age of five- he is essentially immobile- his parents do and say and live his life for him- he cannot move. I do not begrudge them his life I marvel at their fortitude and gracious love. I just personally wonder what quality of humanity this is- he has no sensory input either out or ingoing. His mother writes a blog about his “life.”

      Funny remark about Planned Parenthood- not everyone is going to get contraception counseling- as I wrote I do know serial aborters (which makes me sad and I also think they have no concept that people die unexpectedly during abortions so they see it as a risk they are willing to take- dumb dumb dumb). Planned Parenthood’s main purpose is to educate people on their options for pregnancy including keeping a baby. Their other purpose is to help with educating people about contraception in an effort to stop their unwanted pregnancies. I think that is far more productive than counseling women on keeping a baby and being flung into years or a lifetime of poverty.

      • April 10, 2010 at 3:05 am

        This may come as a shock to you, but circumstances can change — just as Nicolas Cage, who was foreclosed on; or ask Chris Gardner (“Pursuit of Happyness”) who you probably would have said “should have been aborted” if you only watched him up through his teen years — possibly the product of rape, certainly the child of a single mom who already had another child, eventually the stepson of a violently abusive man who made life hell for the mother and all 4 of her children, even raped as a teenager; not to mention that he was homeless as a single father for a period of time. Yet he survived all that to become a millionaire.

        Planned Parenthood’s main purpose is to educate people on their options for pregnancy including keeping a baby.
        Not according to this report on “Induced Abortion and PTSD.” — you can do a tiny bit of searching and find the full text for free, but it’s only for personal use, so I can’t link directly to it. Among other things it says (Table 4), is that of American women choosing abortion
        -67% did not receive counseling beforehand,
        -52% needed more time to make decision,
        -79% were not counseled on alternatives,
        -64% felt pressured by others
        -50% thought abortion was morally wrong
        -84% did not receive adequate counseling beforehand
        -54% were not sure about the decision at the time
        -79% did not receive counseling afterwards

        Table 5 goes on to say that
        -54% felt badly
        -36% had thoughts of suicide
        -78% felt guilt
        -56% had feelings of sadness and loss
        -59% “felt part of me died”
        -62% were unable to forgive self

        I’ve linked to the “RealChoice” blog before — the blogger is pro-life because, among other things, she almost aborted her first child, her son Michael. She and her husband were newly married, barely scraping by, and couldn’t afford a baby (living in an unfurnished apartment and w/o money to buy furnishings, barely able to eat). Finally, she confided in a friend or acquaintance that she was pregnant and planning an abortion because she didn’t know what else to do. Instead of saying, “Oh, you poor dear, let me drive you to the clinic,” the friend actually *helped* the woman — found her a cheaper and furnished apartment, which was enough for them to finally get some traction going in their lives. This friend did not need to sign up for 22 years of supporting the child (18 years plus college) — they just needed a little boost in the right direction.

        Too bad you sneer at keeping a house clean and learning elements of baby care; it’s something I learned growing up, but not everybody has a good mother like I do, so may feel overwhelmed with the unknown, when in reality, they just need a little help — help that doesn’t involve scraping out their uterus. If a mother can be made to feel confident in her ability to handle this whole parenting thing, isn’t that a good thing? Doesn’t that empower her? If she can be taught how to feed herself and her child(ren) frugally, to save some money here and there so that she can have a better life — that sounds like a good thing, rather than something to be sneered at.

      • April 12, 2010 at 8:19 am

        SaanenMother :They give them clothes etc. in infancy- loads of help there– I say wanna impress me- bust out your checkbook and adopt a Mom and baby from 0 to 18 years and then pay for college for them.

        555,000 married couples in the US seek to adopt babies each year, and only somewhere around 30,000 are actually available for adoption. These babies COULD be provided for.

        I do not think that providing for a mother/baby pair for 18 years is a wise idea. The point of the job training that Crisis Pregnancy Centers provide is they are trying to teach women to work jobs that are *better* than minimum wage. And while you mock the idea of teaching women to grocery shop and clean…you need to understand that some of these women do not have any concept at all about healthy eating or how to clean a house. Some weren’t taught to wash their sheets regularly, or sweep the floor. These are life skills that they NEED in order to move out of the poverty lifestyle.

        I am sure that the assistance they offer as a good will gesture is coupled with aid to transitional assistance (sometimes called welfare, mandatory state’s health insurance, wic, food stamps, section 8 or even worse an apt. the projects) So nice going….

        Yes, Crisis pregnancy centers do typically help the women who come to them to sign up for government benefits for which they qualify. This is intended to be transitional, not a permanent life condition. The women are required to get jobs to continue in the program. The housing that is provided is NOT the typical “apt in the projects,” but rather apartments that have been renovated and furnished specifically by the Crisis Pregnancy Center.

        Trust me, since I have a sister who is learning disabled and thus gets government assistance, I know a LOT about how government programs can trap people into poverty. This is not what Crisis Pregnancy Centers are doing.

        Planned Parenthood’s main purpose is to educate people on their options for pregnancy including keeping a baby. Their other purpose is to help with educating people about contraception in an effort to stop their unwanted pregnancies.

        I do realize that PP does contraception counseling…but no one can honestly look at their financials and not realize that abortion is their bread & butter, and thus where they want to funnel women. They have been caught numerous times on camera lying to women about fetal development and discouraging women from continuing their pregnancies for adoption or raising the child themself. They have been even caught on camera ignoring situations of statuatory rape in their desire to get a young girl to sign up for an abortion.

  20. April 9, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Alex Barnes :What do the anti-choice people in this thread propose to do to women who choose to have an abortion in the event it is made illegal? … Will they put a gun to a woman’s head, force feed her, turn her into a human incubator, and force her to give birth to a child against her will? What would that do to a child who discovered he/she was brought into the world in such a fashion?

    Goodness. I don’t know.

    I suppose it might make that child intensely thankful to be alive and an ardent pro-life supporter.

    Buy hey, I’m only speaking “theoretically” here…seeing as my mother was seeking out an abortion in NY (yes, to the commentor who thought abortion was legal in NY prior to Roe V Wade, it was) when she found out she was pregnant with me in the spring of 1972…but then my father found out and forced her to continue the pregnancy to term…and then proceded to abuse me and allow my step-mother to abuse me until I left home when I was 16.

    Yep. I’m glad I’m here. Thanks Dad!

    And on a related question…where are the men’s rights in this? Why is a man a “dead beat dad” if he never wanted to have a baby in the first place, and thus doesn’t pay a dime of child support when the woman carries the baby to term…but in the reverse situation where the woman does not want the baby and the man does, the dad has no rights to have the woman carry the baby at least until viability so that he can raise the child?

    • April 12, 2010 at 8:42 am

      It is quite interesting (and perverse seeming to me) that you think that PP is the one that is being misleading, when Crisis Pregnancy Centers commonly list their services under abortion. When people call asking for an abortion, they typically make them an appointment as if they are going to get that service, only to then give them the hard sell not to abort once they get there. In my opinion Crisis Pregnancy Centers are terribly misleading, and do not honestly represent why they are there. They are not there to offer balanced pregnancy counseling – they are there to prevent abortion. That mission is acceptable, but their failure to make that mission clear is not.

      Your information on Planned Parenthood is incorrect. Though I cannot comment on any particular video you may have seen or heard about, I can tell you that many PPFA chapters do not offer abortion at all, and those that do typically get only 20% of their revenue from abortion services.

  21. April 9, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Kathy :Actually, not all “pro-choicers” believe that a fetus is not a person. You can check out the resident pro-abortion troll OC (previously SoMG, if you care to go back into the archives) here where he says (as he has said frequently in numerous other threads over the course of the past year or two), that he believes a fetus is a person and that abortion is homicide, but it is justifiable homicide because the fetus is within the woman and she wants it gone.

    Wow. Amazing…so I wonder if he would apply the same logic to con-joined twins…and if so, which twin gets priority?

    • April 10, 2010 at 2:43 am

      Not sure — the blogger has posted on conjoined twins, but I don’t remember what if anything OC said in response. You can click through to that link and ask him; he may respond.

  22. KMN
    April 9, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    It seems to me that the only difference between a baby (a living person) and a fetus (a potentially disposable cluster of cells or a parasite) is whether or not it is wanted.

  23. KMN
    April 9, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    I think you’re right…arguing on moral grounds is useless. No one is going to change anyone’s mind there.

    Personally, I do not think that abortion is *morally* acceptable. Period. However, life is seldom that black and white and that sometimes, some people would define abortion as the lesser of two evils. Outlawing abortion won’t stop it from happening and it could potentially become more physically dangerous for women. However, tighter regulations for (not prohibition of) abortion would not necessarily be a bad thing.

    PS I do not support the war, but I do support the people who are serving. Isn’t that what life is really about? Supporting and loving each other regardless of what we believe and striving to find middle ground?

  24. April 10, 2010 at 2:42 am

    On FGM you have obviously only done cursory, and I use that term loosely, real loosely as a matter of fact research on the devastation and health problems created by this practice.

    My comments were cursory, but I will give detail what I know of FGM. My first exposure to it was as a teenager when I read a “Reader’s Digest” story of a woman from Africa who was mutilated around the age of 5. The description was horrific, and I cringed the entire time reading the article. She ran away when she was old enough, rather than be married to some much older man, and I think went to England. Her description of having to take several minutes just to urinate because the hole was so small was mind-boggling; not to mention her description of menstrual “flow” (or rather, drip). Eventually, she tried to have surgery to reverse the circumcision but the male translator refused to translate for her because he was mad that she wanted not to be sewn up. Finally, she learned enough English to advocate for herself, and was operated on and got relief and the ability to urinate and menstruate normally; she eventually married and had at least two children, although she never had an orgasm, which bothered her husband about as much as it bothered her, but it couldn’t be helped.

    Occasionally in the past dozen years or so, I’ve had the topic come up again, and occasionally looked into it, as I tried to wrap my brain around how parents could do that to little girls. Recently, I wrote this blog post, and did more research into FGM. That’s when I came across several sickening pictures including one of a little girl (maybe 3 years old), standing there crying, with her mother pulling up her panties after the circumcision smiling like she’d just won a million bucks. You can click through the pictures on my post to see graphic pictures. Also in the course of that research, I came across several videos, articles, pictures, etc., in which women proclaimed that they were happy to be circumcised, that it looked better, was cleaner, they lost no sexual function or feeling, etc. [There are different levels of mutilation -- some rather mild, with others removing almost all external female genitalia.]

    Also, one of the midwives I know by email goes to Sierra Leone to help fight maternal and infant mortality there, by educating village women on how to properly look after pregnant and postpartum women and their babies. Among other things, I remember that she said that in one trip they eventually brought up to the women the subject of FGM, and how it is dangerous (not just when it is done, with the risk of infection, but also with risks during childbirth), and after the explanation, the lead woman promised that they would never cut any of their daughters again. The midwife was shocked that the women accepted this cultural reversal so easily, and was worried that the women would face ostracism or even bodily danger for their stance. The woman reiterated that they would stop the practice in their village, regardless of their personal safety or consequences.

    It is not an easy thing to stand up to social pressure and threats of danger; but when something is wrong, others need to stand up for those who cannot advocate for themselves — whether it is fetuses in utero or little girls who are about to be mutilated. I honor these women for their stand; if more women stood up like that, this practice would be quickly ended.

    Infanticide was the proposed solution to unwanted babies in biblical laws as well- where the pro-life moralists here derive their religious pro-life views from.
    Bull$#*t.
    I would have to do some biblical research to see what ancient Judeo Christain books may have outlawed infanticide- but I don’t think they address it-
    Um, that would be because infanticide would be covered under the topic of “murder.” You can read that with some frequency in the time of the Israelite kings after Solomon that idolatry was practiced, and one of the chief charges brought against Israel (and particularly her kings), was the practice of and acceptance of infant sacrifice — burning their children alive to Molech. Hardly condoned!

    And if you read early church history, you will find that many church leaders spoke out against both infanticide and abortion — calling both child murder. The Romans had a law that said that if a father didn’t want a child, he could cast it into an open field to perish. If he wanted the child, he placed it on his knees, which is where the term “genuine” comes from. On the contrary, it was a common practice among Christians to go to the field and rescue these babies.

    they do however address … acceptance of incest (Jeremiah) so maybe that’s why pro-lifers think we should limit access to abortions for these victims in society.
    Please give a chapter & verse, because it quite escapes me. The Jewish law was clear on what constituted incest — father-daughter, mother-son, uncle-niece, aunt-nephew, and brother-sister were all prohibited; also I think a man marrying sisters; and possibly some step-family as well, but I’d have to go back and check.

    I love that intactivists are so nasty to even religious people for whom circumcision in a non-negotiable- shows such an “I’m smarter than God” attitude while they say we pro-choicers are calling the shots of “God” when we advocate for a person’s option to choose to end a pregnancy or have their son’s foreskin removed.
    I, on the other hand, don’t like nastiness. Circumcision is not a Christian rite, if you actually read the New Testament — Paul in fact once called those who insisted that Christians be circumcised “mutilators of the flesh.” Plus, there is evidence to suggest that the Abrahamic circumcision was quite a bit milder than our current process, removing only the “redundant foreskin”, rather than removing all the skin that covers the glans. Since I believe the Jewish religion to have been done away with in Christ, circumcision is no longer valid, so I think should be done away with; however, I accept that parents have the right to do that to their children, although I think they ought not. I do *not* accept that the parents have the right to kill their children.

    I also think it odd when pro-lifers jump to the Hitler principle-it usually happens when other people/posters shoot down the abortion is murder idea. (so is meat so I say if you are truly pro-life get some tofu. Yesterday I went to my farm and “x”ed out whose going to butcher- always sad, but reality.)
    I read that some pro-life organization, I think “Feminists for Life” are vegetarian for that reason. However, this again points to both starting premises and the definition of murder. If we’re nothing more than rearranged pond scum, then Stalin’s murder of millions of political dissidents was no worse than when you spray bleach on the mold growing in your bathroom; and killing a cow is the same as killing a human. If, however, murder is the killing of humans (rather than animals, plants, or pond scum), then genocide or feticide is wrong.

    My point with Trisomy families was not to illuminate the families that carry the babies to term this I am very well acquainted with- it was to point out that even ardently religious people who are across the board pro-life terminate these pregnancies because of the other ethical, and moral issues that accompany this devastation.
    Yes, there are hypocrites in every corner; as well as people who agree that X is right, but still do Y.

    …BUT I know reality and that is that there is an infinitesimal chance that a fetus will survive at 22-28 weeks even with all technological advances in medicine today.
    The survival rate at 30 weeks is 90%; the survival rate at 24 weeks is about 50% — hardly “infinitesimal.”

  25. April 11, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I’m a woman who ended a wanted, planned pregnancy during the second trimester after my baby was diagnosed with an incompatible-with-life defect that was also causing potentially serious health issues with me. I was long-married and already had children at the time. In other words, I was not in a place where I thought abortion was something that could apply to me. Yet life gave me a set of circumstances where it eventually came to seem like the most merciful of several very crappy options. And so I ended my baby’s life.

    Honestly, I get your point about the problems with merging questions of morality and legality. But at the same time, here I am at the intersection of both those issues. I know some self-avowed anti-choice women who learn what happened in my second pregnancy and somehow don’t shun me or call me a murderer. Even if they wouldn’t make the same choice I did, learning about the stakes I faced in that pregnancy give them pause and makes them rethink those breezy bumper-sticker slogans.

    So I just wish there was room in this debate for me. Both sides want to deny people like me exist, for various reasons. I do think the left is shooting themselves in the foot by refusing to discuss morality at all.

  26. Amy
    April 13, 2010 at 6:52 am

    I agree that the pro-choice movement is getting pummeled. I think you make some good points on why this is happening.

    I think that women are in real danger of losing their right to choose when and if they want to have a baby, but also HOW they want to have a baby. Much of the public is not aware that women have been court-ordered to give birth via cesarean. It’s my opinion that in some of these cases, the baby’s life was seriously in jeopardy but not in every instance. In one case, a hospital tried to force a woman into a cesarean saying her baby was just too big (she’d already given birth vaginally to 6 babies, including large ones). The hospital got a court order for a “medically necessary cesarean” but the woman checked out and went to another hospital and gave birth vaginally, with no complications, to an 11 lb baby.

    http://www.advocatesforpregnantwomen.org/articles/forced_c-section.htm

  27. Anon
    April 13, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Kathy, I believe the New Testament includes the words of St. Paul, who said you, as a woman, need to be respectful and quiet before men, and while you’re at it, cover up your whorish hair. Aren’t you glad everything the Bible says isn’t made law? I sure am, no matter how fascinating I find the mythology.

  28. April 14, 2010 at 8:30 am

    This was my sermo post:

    Just came across this post. I sympathize, and am staunchly pro-choice myself, but I do not agree. I could not disagree more, in fact, which is odd; I had always thought I would have profound disagreements with the pro-lifers. But maybe I actually agree with them in presenting this as absoultely a moral issue

    I think the failure to cast the pro-choice position in strong and unabashed moral terms is what is hurting it.

    I fundamentally think FORCING women to go through unwanted pregnancies is wrong.

    I am a family man and would NO WAY force my daughter to go though an unwanted pregancy.

    I think having the government involved in personal medical decisions including this one is fundamentally wrong.

    Is it moral to force a woman to bear a child concieved by a rapist? If so, is not society acquiesent in, and an accomplish of, this crime of rape? If rape is an exception are we not condoning murder? After all, the fetus didn’t choose to be the product of a rapist.

    If we force a woman to go through a pregancy and she dies (which happens occasionally despite our best efforts) are we not guilty of taking life?

    As I read my bill of rights, we have a right to be secure in our PERSONS as well as our property against unreasonable seizure. Forcing a woman to be pregnant when she does not want to seems to me to be as fundamental a seizure as I can think of

    Finally there is a lot to the cliche that if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

    To treat a pregnant woman as cattle or chattel is just wrong, and I will never never never never never back down from that opinion or value. And somehow, I do not think ceding the moral high ground to the pro-lifers – i.e those who think that the rights of the fetus DO trump the rights of the woman – will win us any middle people at all

  1. April 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm
  2. April 11, 2010 at 6:03 am
  3. April 13, 2010 at 9:34 am
  4. April 15, 2010 at 5:00 am
  5. April 18, 2010 at 9:16 am
  6. April 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm
  7. October 13, 2013 at 11:39 am
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