Re: Pretzel logic.

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Your punishment: we will pray for you.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:15 AM
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That really is a very effective way of undermining the extremism of the "abortion is murder" rhetoric.

They seem like pretty nice folks, though, these anti-abortion activists. Maybe we should compromise with them. What do you think, Stras?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:28 AM
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They'll cotton on quickly enough and decide the party to punish isn't the woman but the doctor/agent who performs the abortion. It's supply side that the amendments and such are geared toward anyway.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:35 AM
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Ogged:

It is only murder, if it isnt rape or incest. Then, it is not quite murder because the baby is not quite alive.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:35 AM
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Since probably about 30% of their daughters have had abortions, it's unsurprising they don't want the women to be punished.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:36 AM
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Cala and Armsmasher get it right.

The doctor is the mean, bad person. The poor woman just doesn't know better. She needs to be educated. And prayed for. Don't forget the prayer.

Maybe her punishment should include Bible School.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:38 AM
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I imagine it's right that they'll have a talking point response to this soon enough.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:39 AM
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In any coherent moral scheme, if abortion is murder, then involving the doctor is if anything more morally culpable -- the equivalent of hiring a hitman. It's long been my belief, however, that "abortion == murder" cannot be incorporated into any coherent moral scheme.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:42 AM
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Women who have illegal abortions should be required to wear a big letter A at all times. That way, people would know to pity them and pray for their souls.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:44 AM
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Somewhat OT, but I have a question: Has it always been the case that Republican Presidential candidates are required to pledge to overturn Roe v. Wade?

I'm young, so my political memory doesn't go back very far. But I feel like this is a recent intensification of rhetoric, and platitudes used to suffice.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:44 AM
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They'll cotton on quickly enough and decide the party to punish isn't the woman but the doctor/agent who performs the abortion

The way we punish corporations who hire illegal immigrants, but not the immigrants, and pimps, but not prostitutes.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:47 AM
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They're kind of sympathetic, in that they don't bluff and readily admit that they haven't considered the issue.

They're kind of unsympathetic, in that it seems to never have crossed their mind that a woman is involved in an abortion.

The argument that abortion should be illegal but unpunished could make sense if they put some work into it, like arguments for making assisted suicide illegal. That wasn't an analogy, that was just a bunch of words I strung together.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:50 AM
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I think it would be relatively easy to make abortion illegal but unpunished but not if your justification for making abortion illegal is that it's murder.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:53 AM
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That wasn't an analogy, that was just a bunch of words I strung together.
I think you should also ban metaphor.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:54 AM
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Thanks for reminding me of this scary quote. This guy has brainwashed himself.

"There is no issue that matters more to most evangelicals than the issue of the life of the unborn," said Land about Romney.

Thanks for making our point, Land. The issue of the life of the unborn is an infinitely important issue and in a Christian country would be the government's #1 priority. Er, what about the life of people after they are born?

Who is Land? Very important man. "Trying to sell Mormonism as an acceptable orthodox Christian faith is a huge mistake. It's not going to work with evangelicals," said Richard Land, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:58 AM
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The doctor is the mean, bad person. The poor woman just doesn't know better. She needs to be educated. And prayed for. Don't forget the prayer.

Okay, I'm going to get all earnest and "spiritual" here. I think it would be genuinely good if the protesters genuinely prayed for the mean, bad doctors and the poor ignorant women. Because I think when people genuinely pray, it's really hard not to care (earnestly) about the individuals who are making very difficult choices under very trying circumstances. And it's hard to go around vilifying someone you've enabled yourself to care for.

Of course, it's easy (and not uncommon) to just "pray" along the lines of "Dear God, thank you for not making me as horrible a monster as those other people who I know will burn in hell." I don't count that as genuine prayer. But genuine prayer, I think is good.

Now I'll go ban myself until I'm good and ready to stop sounding so friggin' serious and preachy!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:59 AM
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I imagine it's right that they'll have a talking point response to this soon enough.
And until they have one to repeat, I'm glad someone is recording the silences and the puzzlement. I especially love that phrases come up like "between a woman and her god" and even "a woman and her conscience". I love that that their first impulse is to leave the woman alone. You're right though, it won't last.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:00 AM
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14: "It's a metaphor, Bob--a picture I painted using my words."


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:03 AM
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What Cala and 'smasher said, with the additional fillip that saying women shouldn't be punished for the awful thing the godless liberal abortion industry makes them do ties in perfectly with the view that women are not genuinely autonomous sexual agents. Silver Ring Thing represent!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:03 AM
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This is an interesting subject. I suspect that the significance of the lack of thought about the punishment is somewhat less than some are making it out to be.

Think back to when slavery was being banned, whether in the US or elsewhere. Nowadays, I think that if we found that someone was owning slaves, we'd feel that at the minimum a jail sentence was in order. But when lots and lots and lots of people owned slaves, even those who saw it as a moral wrong weren't really talking about punishing the slaveowners. In fact, I believe that there was talk of compensating them for their financial loss (in the UK if not the US).

So, abortions are ubiquitous. I think that it's just human nature to not want to punish people involved in a ubiquitous act, even if one does strongly feel that that act is immoral.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:04 AM
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I think that it's just human nature to not want to punish people involved in a ubiquitous act

Ah. U.S. anti-drug laws make perfect sense now.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:07 AM
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21: Heh, fair enough. On the other hand, those kind of crept in a little at a time. I don't think that if we reinstalled Prohibition right now, that people would go for 25 year minimum sentences for having a drink.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:10 AM
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human nature to not want to punish people involved in

...an act you might yourself need one day.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:10 AM
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Question for you who were alive pre-Roe: what was the punishment back in the day?


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:16 AM
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Yeah, I really don't believe that many people at all think of abortion as literally the same thing as murder.

There's a position that I think is not entirely incoherent, but is hard to argue, that abortion is morally wrong enough that it should be banned (or heavily regulated) even though it isn't murder, which is what I think most anti-abortion activists actually believe (that is, it seems to explain their actions), but don't feel comfortable arguing. It's a tricky argument, because there aren't strongly similar situations to work from.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:19 AM
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Most states gave women immunity from prosecution; the ones that didn't had very light penalties.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:19 AM
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It seems to me that they are likely to be lying when they say that they haven't considered the issue before. Punishment and plans for punishment are the light of the conservative heart.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:37 AM
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Too bad for all these anti-choice suckers. When the Dems carry '08, it's mandatory abortions for all!


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:37 AM
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20 gets it right.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:38 AM
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29: But doesn't that still depend on thinking that abortion and murder are two different things? I mean, no one gets squeamish about the impropriety of punishing murderers of adults harshly on the basis that women who get abortions go unpunished -- that rationale only works if you've got the two acts in entirely different mental categories.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:43 AM
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19 has it right. The question hasn't occurred to many of them probably because it's hard to admit or come to grips with female agency -- especially if one's own daughter has done it -- and far easier to blame the doctors and godless liberal feminists for being corrupting influences. The movement certainly has no shortage of views on how those people, especially the doctors, ought to be punished.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:43 AM
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I think the intuitive force of 20 comes from conflating *retroactive* punishments (e.g., for slaveowning before the end of legal slavery) and punishments for acts performed after the behavior is made illegal.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:43 AM
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The rhetoric you get in churches is definitely 'abortion is murder', terminating the life of a cute little baby. If I were being charitable, I'd say that it's possible to recognize mitigating circumstances generally for crimes, and given all of the stigma with being an unmarried mother, that abortion could be a crime that someone did feeling that they had no choice.

But that's hard to reconcile with actually thinking of abortion as murder in any kind of legal sense, so I suspect it's mostly rhetoric.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:49 AM
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The slavery analogy is a little flawed.

If you had asked an 18th century abolitionist what one should do to people who continued to own slaves even after they were offered compensation, the likely response would be to remove the slaves from their custody by force. In this way, even if slaveowners aren't punished, the illegality of owning slaves makes it possible for the state to actively reduce the number of people owned as slaves.

A better analogy would be to the anti-choice individual who reasoned that making abortion illegal would give the state the power to take certain measures (shutdown abortion clinics for instance) that would lead to fewer abortions.


Posted by: WillieStyle | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:54 AM
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I believe the thought is that abortion is something that doctors do to women. Which is probably where a lot of the "abortion is bad for women" rhetoric comes from, and why it gets some traction.

It's not so much that women _do_ make a "bad" choice, it's that they *can*.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:56 AM
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It would be interesting, in a trollish way, to do the same thing at a PETA convention. Find someone in a Meat is Murder t-shirt, and start asking about proposed sentences.

Trollish, but unenlightening.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:00 PM
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It seems to me that they are likely to be lying when they say that they haven't considered the issue before.

I think they're not lying. They're showing a huge weakness in the anti-abortion argument, a weakness that advocates for choice should exploit relentlessly. Of course there will be some talking-point response if the punishment question ever gains enough traction -- as it should have years ago -- but not one that's logically or morally coherent. Like all liberals, pro-choice activists need to learn to play offense.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:01 PM
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Anyone link to Scott Lemieux on this? He's been on this issue for a while.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:03 PM
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Find someone in a Meat is Murder t-shirt, and start asking about proposed sentences.

The responses you'd get might make even less sense, given that PETA promotes the "meat is murder" meme but is unduly fond of dubiously-justified animal euthanasia.

But I wouldn't say the video is "unenlightening." It would have been more enlightening if the follow-up question had been "and how should the doctors be punished," to which the responses would have been very different.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:04 PM
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On the other hand, those kind of crept in a little at a time. I don't think that if we reinstalled Prohibition right now, that people would go for 25 year minimum sentences for having a drink.

Drinking Mad Dog 20/20 maybe. The people who do that are just itching to go on a crime spree and drive their cars over children. Superpredators!!


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:05 PM
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I haven't thought about this carefully, but Scott's line is potent. Hard to make sense of why the state shouldn't punish the woman who sought out an abortion without an implicit view of women as less than full moral agents. Like DS, I was hoping for a follow-up about the doctors and a second follow-up about the (expected) discrepancy.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:10 PM
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I worry about this as a mode of attack, because I think the pro-choice reading of the genuine inconsistency is overblown. The pro-choice analysis I see is "Your position on punishment for women who get abortions reveals that you don't want to treat them like murderers. That means either that (1) you think women are not morally responsible for the things they do, or (2) you don't really think abortion is murder -- you don't care about abortion at all, you just want to control women's sexuality."

And I think that while you can use the fact that no one wants to punish women who get abortions as murderers to establish that pro-lifers don't (mostly) sincerely buy their "abortion=murder" rhetoric, that doesn't get you to establishing that they don't think think that abortion is importantly wrong -- they just haven't developed a more accurate way of talking about how they think it's wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:10 PM
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I seem to have developed a slight stammer. Whoops.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:14 PM
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I don't think having an abortion is morally different from killing a child under the age of two. I don't care whether you call both or neither "murder." But in most cases I don't think either one should land a woman in jail.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:15 PM
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Under the age of fucking two?!?!?!!!One!!111!Eleven1!!

Um, seriously?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:19 PM
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To expand on that, I've seen arguments for noncriminization of neonatal infanticide under the appropriate circumstances, which I'm not absolutely sure how I feel about. But that's not 'a woman' or 'most cases' or 'under the age of two'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:21 PM
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45: Yeah, well, there's not a very bright line there--I might be talked down to 18 months, but I think that's probably too conservative. Kids don't really develop a coherent sense of self before then. And they're extraordinarily needy and dependant.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:24 PM
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I don't think having an abortion is morally different from killing a child under the age of two.

What about killing a famous violinist?


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:24 PM
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Well, "most cases" didn't mean "most imaginable cases", but "most actual cases". If that helps clarify.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:25 PM
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49 to 46.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:25 PM
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47: But the person providing for their needs can be swapped out after birth. There's no way to switch gestators midway through a pregnancy.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:26 PM
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And again, I'm not saying it's okay, just that it isn't something I see incarceration as a particularly good tool to address.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:27 PM
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It is something doctors used to do as a matter of routine to sufficiently deformed babies. But that was something that worked because doctors worked largely outside the law and there were very different assumotpns about child mortality.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:27 PM
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They're showing a huge weakness in the anti-abortion argument, a loophole that will be closed shortly, just as soon as someone high up enough in the religious right calls this to committee. The thing to take away is not a tactic. The movement will respond by adopting a proposed penalty for doctors, and for a while FOX News and the WSJ op-ed page will ask very earnestly whether 20 years is two months too few or many; but the makeup and the appeal of the anti-choice movement won't change, because its base is indoctrinated, not convinced. The people in this video are asked to investigate their beliefs for possibly the first time, and to a one they come up blank but nevertheless adhere to their baseless belief that abortion is the same as murder in the eyes of God.

I don't find the people in the video sympathetic; I want to vomit all over the woman who can't answer a question about her own beliefs and responds by exhibiting another cherished belief of the right, that the media is liberal and perfidious and plays nasty, nasty tricks on her. The only one of them I respect whatsoever is the woman who follows her own logic through and decides that a woman who has an illegal abortion ought to be jailed. That girl comes bearing the sword; the rest don't even try appealing to dogma.

Fortunately, their children will go to our universities, where we will win their hearts and minds.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:28 PM
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47: And they're extraordinarily needy and dependant.

So were some of my ex-girlfriends. But that doesn't justify killing them.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:29 PM
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49: If you're saying PP psychosis should be a stronger defense to murder than it is now, I'd probably agree with you, and a similar defense for the "freaked out teen gives birth unattended in the coatcloset, smothers baby" situation, where I can see the argument but I'm not decided how I feel about it. But that's not about the moral status of the baby at all in either case; it's about the circumstances under which the killing happened, in which the killer was, arguably, not responsible for what they were doing. That sort of defense doesn't apply at all to most abortions, which are decisions made rationally and deliberately.

And I'm not seeing 2 at all for a line before which babies have lessened moral status. Maybe if you were saying something like four months or so, but a baby over six months has a clearly developed and well expressed individual personality.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:33 PM
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indoctrinated, not convinced

And they didn't realize there was a difference until just now.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:33 PM
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I worry about this as a mode of attack, because I think the pro-choice reading of the genuine inconsistency is overblown.

I agree with you insofar as I think this tactic is more useful as a starting point for a one-to-one conversation than a public debate or a series of "Gotchas."

There is some value in taking someone's rhetoric, extending to its next logical step, and asking them to consider the answer. If the bottom line for them is still "Abortion seems icky and I want to outlaw icky things" -- well, that may be. But at least it potentially opens the door for a bit of conversation about why the woman should/should not be punished.

N.b. I have not watched the video, and I expect there is little or no private conversation occurring in it.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:34 PM
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I don't find the people in the video sympathetic; I want to vomit all over the woman who can't answer a question about her own beliefs and responds by exhibiting another cherished belief of the right, that the media is liberal and perfidious and plays nasty, nasty tricks on her.

But if you throw out people who think this way, you're kinda getting rid of too many people. I sometimes feel like all I'm doing is echoing things I've heard that make sense on an emotional level.

I try to question my beliefs and I get bogged down and irritated and give up.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:36 PM
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you're kinda getting rid of too many people.

That I don't get. I have a fair bit of...sympathy?...for the anti-abortion folks, and I'd love to have them move to our side. But they really are the people that are never going to move. (Unless the Dems change their position, which I don't want.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:38 PM
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The movement will respond by adopting a proposed penalty for doctors,

I really do think it already has this, ranging from jail to the death penalty.

I think what the discrepancy exposes plainly, as Labs notes, is that by and large the movement doesn't see the women involved as moral agents. But I don't think most anti-abortionists will regard this as a problem; it's simply of a piece with a traditional conservative view of women.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:39 PM
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a baby over six months has a clearly developed and well expressed individual personality

Why does that matter?

I also question the extent to which most abortion-decisions are made "rationally and deliberately". Maybe in the legal sense, sure. But I think it's a decision motivated largely by fear as often as it's a cold, rational calculation.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:43 PM
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Is there a substantive difference between punishing doctors instead of women and punishing drug dealers instead of users?

Both, to me, seem to have the same motivation: punishing class of people X is ethically logical, but practically impossible or counterproductive. I see no reason why our laws and punishments can't be written according to such reasoning.

(I do not, by the way, believe that women or doctors should be punished for abortions.)


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:44 PM
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I have often thought that it's not that people aren't smarter that's frustrating---it's easy to think the bulk of people are dumb, but that's inaccurate. Most people are interesting, thoughtful, and curious. But only a small minority of people have coherent beliefs, or demand coherency from their beliefs. It is possible to be a coherently religious person, who thinks through to logical ends all one's priorities. But, from my experience of the church, few people do. I couldn't wrap my head around the pro-gun, pro-death-penalty, pro-life positions of my church when I was a teen, and not one person ever explained to me how that works. They didn't want to be asked.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:45 PM
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Brock, if I didn't know and trust you as a regular commenter, I'd think you were trolling.

First off: Who says fear can't be logical? This is a serious question. Sometimes fear is an extremely logical, wise response.

With regard to infanticide: What Cala said. You can get someone else to take care of a baby; you can't get them to carry a pregnancy you've already begun.

With regard to punishments: If you want to regard severe postpartum depression as a mitigating factor, resulting in a charge of manslaughter or something rather than murder, that's one thing. But it's quite different from saying it isn't murder to a kill a child until the age of 2.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:48 PM
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LB, overwhelmed and frustrated one sleepless night, a man or woman snaps the neck of his or her eight month old son. What societal interest is served by incarcerating that person? I really don't understand. Consider me highly skeptical that there's a strong deterrent effect.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:48 PM
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I would like to state, in the strongest possible terms, my opposition to both the killing of babies and the excusing of the killing of babies. Please direct any questions to my childhood collection of DC Comics.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:49 PM
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But only a small minority of people have coherent beliefs, or demand coherency from their beliefs.

This is even more frustrating when one is a philosopher.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:49 PM
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Are you defending child-slaughter for a reason, Brock? I've seen your kid. Very cute. DON'T DO IT.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:50 PM
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Killing children is fine, so long as you eat them afterwards. It's when it becomes mere sport/entertainment that the moral issues get thorny.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:52 PM
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Baby pics now make me want a baby. Stupid hormones.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:53 PM
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Stretch that placenta with a casserole the whole family can enjoy!


Posted by: Placenta Helper | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:53 PM
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Again, I'm not defending child-slaughter. I think it's wrong, wrong, wrong! I just don't see how prison helps here. The fact that I'm generally fairly strongly anti-incarceration probably colors my opinions on this.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:53 PM
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Seriously, Brock (and if you want to tell me to back off, go ahead. I'm poking at you because you're the prolifer we've got, but I don't want to create bad feeling, so 'I'd rather not talk about this' is a perfectly reasonable thing to say) was your 44 meant to assert that you think that from conception-to-24-months (or whatever exact age) a zygote-embryo-fetus-baby-toddler has one moral status, under which killing it is very wrong but not the sort of thing that should be punished like the murder of an adult, and after two it's a full person and murder is murder? Because that seems very weird to me - someone else kills my ten-month old child, and I want them punished the same as if they'd killed a ten-year-old. A ten-month-old has a personality and an identity, dependent or not.

Or, as I suggested in 56, were you talking about defenses for women who kill their own infants under circumstances under which they aren't fully responsible? Because while I can see what you're talking about for neonatal infanticide, I really don't think that's a situation that generalizes at all well to women rationally deciding to end a pregnancy, and conflating those situations does seem to slip into treating all women at all times as if they were less than fully morally responsible for their actions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:54 PM
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71: How much are you willing to pay? We could work something out.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:54 PM
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I'm fine with people who have strongly held anti-abortion beliefs -- I know many -- as long as they can provide some coherent rationale. (I'm not fine with people insisting that the state enshrine their beliefs in law.) But asking people to be coherent in public debate is not a 'gotcha' -- it's a serious question, and this particular debate seriously needs elevating. Otherwise I agree with 58; maybe I'm naïve, but I think that forcing the issue could peel off a significant number of Roe opponents.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:55 PM
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61: Is there a substantive difference between punishing doctors instead of women and punishing drug dealers instead of users?

If you could make a case that abortion is somehow an addictive habit or something that women are gulled into against their will, it might be substantively similar. No doubt this is how some anti-abortionist see it.

Most people are interesting, thoughtful, and curious.

Well... most people are interesting. In some way. Thoughtful and curious, not so much; the anti-abortionists movement is one of those, I think, whose core tends to thrive on a specific personality type characterized in part by incuriosity and difficulty with thinking things through.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:57 PM
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It sounded, though, Brock, as if your rationale for no prison time was that infanticide wasn't really murder. But if I understand you now, your rationale is independent of the moral status of the victim, but more like 'fuck if I know what to do with this crime.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:57 PM
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73: How would your example in 66 be different if you substitute "spouse" for "eight month old son"? Is your argument that the killer should not be jailed on the grounds that they are unlikely to become a repeat offender? Or are you arguing that eight-month-olds have less inherent worth than adults?

If you are generally anti-incarceration, I don't think this line of argument is helping your cause.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:57 PM
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It's when it becomes mere sport/entertainment that the moral issues get thorny.

I've always been of the opinion that once something stops being fun, one should stop doing it. So maybe we're on opposite sides of the spectrum.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:58 PM
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It kept striking me how the people in the video demurely say, "Well, I'm not a lawyer" or "The people will have to decide what the punishment should be," though they have no problem with telling lawmakers what to do and threatening people at their places of employment. If you want to get involved in lawmaking, you are taking the responsibility for the way it affects people's lives, dumbass. If you think only lawyers and lawmakers should get involved in it, then STFU.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:59 PM
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Whoops, I missed a couple of posts while I was writing that.

62: I hate to bring in personal experience, but I've been there, and people I know have as well. Rational decision describes it fairly well in my case -- I can't imagine any sort of diminished responsibility defense I'd be entitled to, if I thought abortion were wrong.

And the individual personality thing matters because it's a person, and killing people is wrong. I'm sure a blastocyst isn't a person -- it has no mind and no identity. Peter Singer thinks, and I'd have trouble arguing with him, that a newborn isn't a person by the same standard. I'm sure that a six-month old is a person, because I've met a bunch of them, and for that reason I want to treat newborns as people just to be sure.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 12:59 PM
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73: "How prison helps" whom or what? The criminal or the society that has its disapproval of baby-killing renewed and extended?

Also, not all murdered children are murdered by depressed, oppressed women of the academically sympathetic class.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:00 PM
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LB's right that it's about not seeing women as agents. I also think that it's very clearly about people not having the language to express the idea that something is wrong and shouldn't be done other than "it oughta be illegal." I see this video and think, okay, good, it's simply a matter of teaching people to differentiate between a moral objection and wanting the state to make something actually illegal.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:02 PM
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81: It kept striking me how the people in the video demurely say, "Well, I'm not a lawyer" or "The people will have to decide what the punishment should be," though they have no problem with telling lawmakers what to do and threatening people at their places of employment.

What this actually means, I suspect, is "well, I'll have to wait for my pastor to tell me what I think about this, and in the meantime I'll just keep picketing." It's a follower response.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:02 PM
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someone else kills my ten-month old child, and I want them punished the same as if they'd killed a ten-year-old.

If someone else intentionally killed child eight-months in utero, would you not feel the same way?

I suppose I was mostly thinking of defenses for parents (not just women - I'm not trying to deny women agency) who kill their own infants.

Regarding moral status, I think it's as reasonable to draw a line at two as at birth, let me say it that way. Again, children don't develop an independent sense of self before about that time. You can't kill your teenagers no matter how angry they make you.

I don't want you to "back off", but I may have to do so to get some work done. I'll try to do as little as possible, as always, but I thought I'd warn you so you don't think there's "bad feelings".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:03 PM
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Is your argument that the killer should not be jailed on the grounds that they are unlikely to become a repeat offender?

I would argue that for a huge number of people in jail. Including murderers.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:03 PM
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And 66: LB, overwhelmed and frustrated one sleepless night, a man or woman snaps the neck of his or her eight month old son. What societal interest is served by incarcerating that person? I really don't understand. Consider me highly skeptical that there's a strong deterrent effect.

You don't think there is? I can be sympathetic to much less incarceration generally, but I don't see that murdering an infant is particularly a special case in that regard (outside of diagnosed PPP, or immediately neonatal infanticide, where I can see something to talk about.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:03 PM
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87: I am curious what alternative punishment you would propose. I take it you agree that murderers should be punished in some way so as to provide a disincentive to murder.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:08 PM
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I don't think a lot of people on either side really think through their beliefs on abortion. Pro-life people are probably the more dogmatic side, but I don't think a lot of pro life people really think about their decisions all that much unless forced to.

I think there are people on the pro choice side that you could get a similarly non thought out response if you asked what the charges should be if you kicked a pregnant woman in the stomach and caused a miscarriage. Let us say it is early in the second trimester. Is that anything more than assault?

On preview kind of what Brock says in 86.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:08 PM
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Crossed again with your 86.

Regarding moral status, I think it's as reasonable to draw a line at two as at birth, let me say it that way. Again, children don't develop an independent sense of self before about that time.

What do you mean by independent sense of self? Is this some technical psych term like that bit about dolphins recognizing a spot of paint on themselves in a mirror? Because babies have very clear intentions, desires, and thoughts from about six months forward.

If someone else intentionally killed child eight-months in utero, would you not feel the same way?

Seriously, no. Sad, yes, angry, yes, but there's a difference to losing a person whose distinct identity you're aware of, and losing the potential of knowing such a person. Eight months is in that range where no one's seriously arguing about whimsical abortion at that point in a pregnancy, of course, but I'd still say that there's a huge psychological difference to the parents at birth.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:09 PM
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The first line of 86 should have said "intentionally killed your child..."

Missed a lot of comments while writing that. I'm guilty as charged of conflating several issues here. It probably doesn't help that I'm prolife -- arguing about the relative moral worths of an 14 month old child vs. a three year old vs. a six-month old fetus seems a little absurd to me, since I think they're all equal, in a moral sense. But if I'm grasping for legal distinctions, I can see good reason to punish someone who kills his three year old in ways that are different from those for killing his one year old.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:11 PM
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77: Yes, that is one reason to dislike punishing drug users, albeit one which does not apply to the cases in which we are most likely to advocate leniency towards users: soft drugs.

One could also prefer punishing dealers because there are very many users and very few dealers; because punishing dealers would be remarkably more effective; because users are more likely to be economically or socially distressed, and to have sympathetic reasons for using; and because dealers commit damage on a far greater scale than users. These are the reasons I was thinking of in my comparison.

I guess my point was that there seems to be a generally accepted best method to banning extremely popular practices, and that is to punish the few providers rather than the great mass of users. It's ethically inconsistent, but it's practical, and I don't see why we can't be ethically inconsistent but practical in our laws.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:12 PM
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92: That just seems bizarre to me. Assuming (based on other things you've said in the past) that you also don't have a bright line anywhere between conception and six-months gestation, you're saying that you can see good reason to put something with no brain in the same category as a toddler who can walk and talk and crack jokes, but distinguish the toddler from a slightly older preschooler.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:15 PM
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If someone else intentionally killed child eight-months in utero, would you not feel the same way?

This is one reason why I think playing "Gotcha" with the protesters, while delightful, won't have much of a practical effect. Our intuitions are really confused on this, because it doesn't seem right to describe killing the fetus as problematic only because doing so violated the woman's autonomy. But it's hard to describe, if you're pro-choice, what's wrong with killing the eight-month-old fetus that doesn't start to sound awfully like 'if she wanted the baby, it's murder, if not, it's not.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:16 PM
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On the other hand, those kind of crept in a little at a time. I don't think that if we reinstalled Prohibition right now, that people would go for 25 year minimum sentences for having a drink.

Drinking Mad Dog 20/20 maybe. The people who do that are just itching to go on a crime spree and drive their cars over children. Superpredators!!

Whereas people drinking microbrews are just having fun with the family, or just kids horsing around, and really should be let off with a warning.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:16 PM
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but there's a difference to losing a person whose distinct identity you're aware of

And you think this distinct identity develops when exactly--six months? So if someone deliberately killed your two-week old baby, would you want them punished as if they'd killed your ten year old? Why?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:16 PM
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Okay, I concede: if someone deliberately got pregnant and gave birth repeatedly, each time with the explicit intention of lighting the baby on fire on its first birthday, I would have a real problem with that. But I might recommend institutionalization rather than incarceration.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:21 PM
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not all murdered children are murdered by depressed, oppressed women of the academically sympathetic class.

Absolutely true.

But I understand what Brock's saying. I think anyone who has had a baby, and who is honest, will say that they suddenly have a *lot* more sympathy for abusive parents; it's very easy to imagine losing your temper on very little sleep, and I for one have done things I am ashamed of more than once. Historically and for all I know cross-culturally, infanticide is pretty common; it seems to be something we just do, and it's not hard to think (in an evo-pscyh sort of way, admittedly) that even the unsympathetic people who are so fucked up that they murder their kids are in the end damaging themselves more than "society" and sort of assuring in a fucked-up irrational way that inadequate parents don't raise kids.

All that said, of course I don't agree that it's cool to murder babies. I do agree, though, that the question of what rights children have is a damn tricky one.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:22 PM
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See, B gets it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:23 PM
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Whereas people drinking microbrews are just having fun with the family, or just kids horsing around, and really should be let off with a warning.

Yeah, you don't know what those dealers are cutting the cheap stuff with these days. It's one thing if someone has a bottle of wine that's been made the same for a century. He's not a danger to the community. But then you've got these marginal people who probably get their kicks by numbing themselves with methanol...well, as I said, superpredators.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:24 PM
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I fail to perceive the whether-it's-OK-to-murder value of a distinct identity, much less what you may be packing into the "identity" pocket of your trolling pants.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:24 PM
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I don't agree that it's cool to murder babies

The Mineshaft takes a surprising moral stand.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:25 PM
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This thread is officially creeping me out.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:25 PM
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I think this thread illustrates the wisdom of Justice Blackmun's majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, which sidestepped the issue of when life begins and instead focused on the age at which the fetus might be viable outside the womb as the line where the distinction is drawn.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:25 PM
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Is there anything more interesting that the sorites paradox going on here?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:28 PM
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Nah, the "might be viable" thing still falls prey to the "woman as mason jar" problem. The obvious "bright line" is birth, and it's the only one the law is capable of dealing with consistently.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:28 PM
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83. Also, not all murdered children are murdered by depressed, oppressed women of the academically sympathetic class.

No, probably most of them are murdered by depressed, oppressed women of the semiliterate lumpenproletariat. And your point is?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:28 PM
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What's the sorites paradox, Mr. Smarty pants?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:29 PM
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What was the phrase from my one token philosophy class? "Resolved that it is immoral to boil a baby in Coca-Cola for our own entertainment."


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:29 PM
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106: The classics stay that way.

Also, there is the crude deployment of bourgeois liberalism's various soul equivalents: identity, rights, solidarity. I find it enormously depressing, but others may find the crabs-in-a-bucket effect edifying.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:31 PM
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I think anyone who has had a baby, and who is honest, will say that they suddenly have a *lot* more sympathy for abusive parents

Really? I have a lot less. Speaking just for myself, of course, but when my daughters were born I was stunned by the visceral feeling that I would do anything to protect them.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:32 PM
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106: No. (See, for example, 107.)


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:32 PM
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102: doesn't this get at the question of why it is wrong to kill someone else?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:32 PM
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108: I was thinking that most murdered children and infants are murdered by men.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:34 PM
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The question becomes: if it is less wrong to kill a child under two than a child over two, is it also less wrong to rape a child under two than a child over two? I think the answer must be yes but I have trouble defending that. Is it wrong to rape a fetus? That's probably the question that must be answered first.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:35 PM
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And so the argument fails.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:36 PM
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Sorties paradox in the URL slot.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:37 PM
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Casuistry is a hell of a philosophical method, son.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:37 PM
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112: Yes, but I think intimacy is often tied to a sense of hurtability. I hold a baby and think "Holy crap, you are so little and hurtable! I will totally not hurt you, baby!" but there's also a little vertigo there. "What if I ... NO! What if I ... NO!"

I had a mentally ill boyfriend in college who I felt I had to stick around to protect from harm. One night, he leaned way out of the window to find out what was making a noise. I put my hands on his sides in case he got the sudden urge to leap out (which he sometimes did) and *I* suddenly thought, "God, I would barely have to touch him and --- whoosh!" Scared the shit out of me.

I wrote a play in college about a woman allowing one of her quadruplets to drown in a pool. It all seems very real and scary to me.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:37 PM
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The answer, Brock, is obviously "no". It's less wrong to kill a child under than over two because of the venerable principle "best of all is never to have been born, but second best is to die young". That has nothing to do with rape.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:37 PM
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Is it wrong to rape a fetus?

It's difficult, certainly.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:38 PM
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Is it wrong to rape a fetus? That's probably the question that must be answered first.

Brock, the proper forum for this question is here.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:38 PM
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95: What about "It's an incredibly brutal assault on the mother characterized by intentional emotional cruelty, in that it prevents the birth of a wanted child"? The wrongness doesn't depend on the classification of the eight-months fetus as a legal or moral person -- you'd feel that say, deliberate sabotage of someone's fertility treatments, even if it happened preconception, was terribly wrong for similar reasons.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:38 PM
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I add here that I'm not a psychopath, and that vertigo of hurtability ceased sometime when I was about 23.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:39 PM
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I join stras in noting that this thread is officially creeping me out.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:43 PM
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124: Would you equate sabotage of someone's fertility treatments with causing someone to lose an eight-month-old fetus, even assuming, for the sake of argument, the actual damage to the health of the mother was comparable?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:44 PM
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97: See, drawing the line at birth makes perfect sense to me (capable of survival independently for short periods of time, and not dependent on or contained within a specific caretaker). Drawing it at conception I can follow, although I disagree. Drawing it at any time after birth seems impossible, see FL's comment re: sorites paradox, and your particular line -- brainless concatenation of cells equals walking, talking toddler, but walking, talking toddler is different from preschooler -- seems absolutely bizarre.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:45 PM
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90.2: Well, if you believe that the fetus is not a person, obviously that's a case of assault. Whether there would be many pro-choicers that would have a problem with following that line of reasoning through is hard to tell, but my guess is that if you asked that question of a group of pro-choice picketers, you wouldn't get the degree of embarrassed hemming and hawing we see here.

I do tend to think a lot of pro-choice rhetoric is annoyingly uncomfortable with the notion of seeing abortion as an ethical choice rather than a neutral medical procedure, and leans too heavily by half on the "fetus is just a clump of cells" rationale, neither of which tendency is necessary to its position. But I'm not buying the equivalency angle.

93: I guess my point was that there seems to be a generally accepted best method to banning extremely popular practices, and that is to punish the few providers rather than the great mass of users.

Of course you first have to establish that the practice itself is genuinely objectionable. Also that there is some specific reason why a certain class of people related to the issue shouldn't be held responsible. In the case of drugs, you can make a case that addicts are victims of dealers; it's much harder to make a case that women are victims of abortion doctors, which anti-abortionism would need to do.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:45 PM
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What does 'equate' mean? The expectation of/emotional investment in the wanted birth is greater in the case of the eight-months fetus, so I'd think that would be worse, but the point is that you can think of it as wrong beyond the physical injury to the woman without regarding the fetus as a legal or moral person. (Again, I'd like to note that 'eight months fetus' arguments are shaky, given that there's very little constituency for the unfettered right to third-trimester abortion without medical reason.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:48 PM
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130 to 127.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:49 PM
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I was stunned by the visceral feeling that I would do anything to protect them.

Well yes of course, but surely you had moments where you were thinking JUST SHUT UP ALREADY DAMN YOU.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:49 PM
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115. You're right, although the chief discrepancy seems to be that a significant number of children are killed by men who are not their fathers, while very few are killed by women who are not their mothers. Between fathers and mothers, the gap is very narrow.

Still, sorry, I was wrong. I'm surprised, though, and I wonder if that would still be the case if the stats didn't use such a broad definition of infanticide (up to 5 years).


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:49 PM
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B, sorites paradox refers to a class of puzzles that you get when an apparently big change is made of up of infinitesimal change, so there seems to be no good place to draw a line. The classic example is comparing a bald person and a person with a full head of hair. Adding one single hair to a bald person's head doesn't make them not bald. Subtracting a single hair from my head doesn't make me bald, either. And we can repeat this, hair by hair by hair by hair by hair... and so it seems there's no principled way to distinguish between someone with hair and someone without hair. But clearly there's a difference, hence, paradox.

You get the same problem with trying to use consciousness or self-awareness as something that can ground, say infanticide or abortion. Drawing a line at, say, six months is arbitrary (what about one day before? what about the day before that?)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:51 PM
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127: I think that "for the sake of argument" is doing a hell of a lot of work, and I'm inclined to dismiss the thought experiment on the grounds that it's purely hypothetical. I see no way of terminating a pregnancy without putting a pregnant woman at *some* risk, whereas obviously you could fuck around with someone's frozen embryo without physically damaging them in any way.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:51 PM
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134: Ah, thank you. This is why I'm firmly in the "abortion at any point ought to be legal" camp.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:52 PM
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where you were thinking JUST SHUT UP ALREADY DAMN YOU

Sure, but they'll turn that around and think it of you all the way through their teen years.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:52 PM
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Teen years? Try as soon as they can talk.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:53 PM
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Maybe your kid. Mine love me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:54 PM
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135: Well, the point of it is that we've got a strong intuition that beating the crap out of a pregnant woman, who miscarries, is wronger than just beating the crap out of a non-pregnant woman. And the thought experiment was meant to indicate that that percieved additional wrongness can be explained as 'preventing the birth of a future wanted child' rather than 'murdering a baby'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:57 PM
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Apo, you don't own any teenagers yet, do you? Is Keegan that old?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:57 PM
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130: Call it not a voluntary abortion, to sidestep that. Call it a medical accident. Someone screwed up and is going to get sued. It's wrong beyond the physical injury. It's wrong because of the emotional damage. But the reason for the emotional damage seems to be that the woman valued the eight-month-old fetus... and the question is, if it's not because she valued it as a person, then what is she valuing? I'm inclined to think that the gut reaction a lot of people would have is 'They killed my baby', not 'They've done emotional damage to me based on the physical investment I have in the pregnancy.'

I think it's a little fuzzy, that's all. I have pregnant friends and most of them seem to think of the baby as a person sometime before they've actually given birth.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:57 PM
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129: I tried to provide reasons for such an exception in the other part of 93; if I had to pick one, I would say the extent of the damage done by dealers/abortionists would suffice. (We could even mask the doctor-woman distinction and say that the number of abortions is what counts: up to five is a misdemeanor, punishable only by a fine; beyond five is a felony, punishable by jail time. The end result should be fines for women, which pro-lifers can presumably stomach, and jail for doctors.)

And yes, this has been a disturbing exercise.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:57 PM
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141: Keegan's 10.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:58 PM
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135: I'm just arguing for the idea that people often think of their fetuses as persons and that we don't always think of them as crazy irrational people for doing so.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 1:59 PM
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Is there societal consensus on why it's wrong to kill another person? I don't think there is.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:00 PM
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And to answer to FL, I don't think the sorites paradox is implicated here at all, really.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:01 PM
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54: I want to vomit all over the woman who can't answer a question about her own beliefs

'Smasher, I sympathize with your anger. I've gotten up at 4 a.m. many, many times to beat the anti's to a clinic. I've hidden out in a strip mall restaurant with women who needed to have the 2nd part of a 2-day procedure (for 2nd trimester abortions) but couldn't get into the clinic. I've been around the likes of Joe Scheidler and Pat Mahoney and Randall Terry. They're scumbags, and I hate them.

But I don't think that philosophical or moral uncertainty is grounds for hurling on someone. If it is, several people on this thread had better duck.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:01 PM
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This thread is officially turning me on.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:02 PM
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54: the media is liberal and perfidious and plays nasty, nasty tricks on her

And not to keep picking on you, but I don't think it's fair to attribute this sentiment to that woman. If I were at a demonstration and someone walked up to me with a video camera and pressed me repeatedly on the same question -- which is a sure sign that the questioner has an agenda, liberal or not -- I'd probably do something similar. Not all of us have the suaveness of Ezra Klein in front of a camera. Me, I'm a deer in the headlights.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:04 PM
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149: So you like it rough, huh?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:04 PM
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149 -> 144.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:04 PM
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147: I don't think it is for someone who draws a line at birth, or at conception. Your 'two-year-old' line seems to me to bring in the sorites paradox in a big way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:07 PM
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139: Apo, apo. I congratulate you on having clever children, and pity you for being so gullible.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:07 PM
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I have pregnant friends and most of them seem to think of the baby as a person sometime before they've actually given birth.

Sure, and that isn't crazy. Just as it isn't crazy to love one's own children more than any other person on earth. It's just not something that we can legislate.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:10 PM
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(1) I think anyone who has had a baby, and who is honest, will say that they suddenly have a *lot* more sympathy for abusive parents

Well, I must be dishonest then, b/c I had exactly the opposite reaction. Anyone who hurts their kid, I imagine it being done to *my* sweet precious absolutely perfect baby, and I think, "you fucking pathetic motherfucker" and want to volunteer to personally shoot them on behalf of the State.

Or pathological? Was pathological an option, besides childless or dishonest? Maybe that's me.

(2) Sorry if I missed it above, but the redneck states already prosecute crack moms for harm done to their fetuses. I don't think they'll have any problem sending aborting moms to jail either.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:12 PM
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148: To be sure, my own beliefs are prescribed by circumstance and blood-alcohol content. I mean that I want to vomit on the person who can't answer questions about her beliefs even as she hopes to force them on others. Fine, God called you to be here—but did He have to call on you to be such a dumbass?

150: I beat Ezra Klein in the off-air male media hottie contest, you realize.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:13 PM
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145: Certainly, I'm sure I referred to the fetuses I gestated as 'babies' before they were born. I'd just argue that that's a forward-looking, anticipatory usage, that doesn't commit the speaker to the belief that the fetus so referred to is a baby. (Again, 'eight months' is a tricky period to talk about for sorites paradox reasons -- an eight-month fetus isn't all that different from a neonate. But I almost certainly referred to three-month fetuses as 'babies', and if I did so, that was absolutely an anticipatory usage, rather than a statement of belief that a three-month fetus is a person.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:13 PM
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143: if I had to pick one, I would say the extent of the damage done by dealers/abortionists would suffice.

Sure, just way trickier to demonstrate in the latter case than the former. (Not that it isn't tricky in the former case, either.)

148: I don't think it's fair to attribute this sentiment to that woman.

IIRC, the woman used kind of a giveaway NewsMax-sih sort of phrase which was a lot more particular than just saying "you're working an angle, stop talking to me." The "liberal media" rhetoric has a pretty specific tone to it that's readily identifiable.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:14 PM
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157: I've heard rumors the contest was fixed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:14 PM
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Ah, 112 got it well ahead of me. Dr. B. is just so compelling, I can't finish the thread before responding.

155: Agreed on the legislation, but I did also note that our 1st ultrasound left me officially creeped out by the whole abortion thing, tho I was cheerfully pro-choice before. Now I'm uncheerfully pro-choice.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:16 PM
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157: off-air

Exactly.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:16 PM
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Mmm. I disagree on whether it's entirely anticipatory, I think.

155: In case it's not clear, I'm not arguing for legal regulation, just that it's not much of a gotcha, practically speaking, that the abortion protester doesn't think that the woman should be prosecuted for murder. So the person's intuitions are confused. So's almost everyone's on abortion. (Hence why I want the state to back the fuck off.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:17 PM
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I'd just argue that that's a forward-looking, anticipatory usage, that doesn't commit the speaker to the belief that the fetus so referred to is a baby.

This reminds me of that classic moment in Gone with the Wind where Olivia de Haviland falls down the staircase, and everyone down below yells, "oh no! the fetus!"


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:18 PM
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I differ from LB in that I'm perfectly willing to accept that a fetus is a baby. I'm just not willing to say that that means it has rights that are superior to the rights of the woman carrying it. Sorry, but there are some biological realities to which abstract notions must bend.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:19 PM
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164: (Oops, Vivien Leigh of course.)


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:23 PM
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159: True. But I was never arguing that legislation which punished only doctors would be simple or easy, just that it isn't unreasonable or incoherent.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:23 PM
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Well, I'd say that I'm sure that it's in at least some usages for some speakers entirely anticipatory (e.g., me, three months along). The eight-months thing is a real problem for clarity of thinking -- I use 'birth' as a hard line for reasons of tradition and because it is such a clear line, but my actual ethical thinking is (1) first two trimesters -- no functioning brain, no ethical issue; (2) more than a couple months old, that's absolutely a full person; (3) third trimester and brandnew neonate -- I'm not 100% sure where the line's drawn, Peter Singer isn't completely insane to say new babies aren't people yet, but birth's the best place I can find to draw it so as to be reasonably overprotective on that end, and trust reasonable but not oppressive medical regulation and the fact that you'd have to be very unusual to have a pointless third trimester abortion to manage third-trimester fetuses.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:27 PM
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136: Okay, I have the unpleasant feeling I'm going to get piled on for this, but you don't think there's any difference between abortion in, say, the eighth or ninth month of a pregnancy and abortion in the second or third? It seems weird to me to make birth the bright line marking personhood, since personhood, I think, is determined by the properties of the person/potential person (viability, brain and nervous system development, etc.), not by the external events and conditions surrounding the person (whether they currently reside in a uterus or a bassinet).

I'm not arguing here, by the way, that post-viability abortions should be banned altogether, but I do think they should be more restricted than early abortions. I don't really think any regulations along these lines would make a huge deal anyway, since I imagine the overwhelming majority of such abortions are done for the sake of the health of the woman or for that of the fetus itself, but it just seems weird to treat a fetus that's a few weeks short of birth exactly the same as an undifferentiated clump of cells.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:27 PM
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When I say Peter Singer isn't completely insane, I don't mean to say I agree, just that there's an argument there I can follow.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:28 PM
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I tend to see birth as a practical, clear distinction for the law, but wholly irrelevant to worries about personhood.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:30 PM
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since I imagine the overwhelming majority of such abortions are done for the sake of the health of the woman or for that of the fetus itself

There are abortions done for the sake of the health of the fetus?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:31 PM
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It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:32 PM
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I think late-term abortions are self-restricting anyway. Scraping a clump of cells is a way different procedure for the woman than removing a viable fetus. But you have to keep late-term abortions legal for medical reasons---there are countless stories about women carrying late-term fetuses that are dead (or practically so) who can't find someone who can do the procedure, because the procedure itself is banned.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:34 PM
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172: One of those "alternative therapies" I hear about, I guess.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:35 PM
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I have no idea what makes a baby of more than a few months old "absolutely a full person", LB. What is a "person" to you? And what makes you sure your definition is correct (enough to legislate)?

Again, perhaps a final clarification: I don't think the two year line is necessarily correct, but there's an argument there and I can buy it as easily as birth.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:35 PM
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172: Yes, as in, "your baby is going to be born with his organs on the outside of his body and live in excruciating pain for a week before dying."


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:35 PM
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172: It's to save them from being raised Pentecostal.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:36 PM
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I know you said "personality" but again I'm not sure why that matters. Dogs have personality.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:36 PM
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169: This is the sort of thing that's more of a political than a philosophical problem, and it's really where the 'Do you trust women' argument comes in. Someone who wants an elective abortion wants it in the first trimester, maybe if something weird happens (for medical reasons she finds out late or whatever) in the second.

The odds that someone wants a third-trimester abortion for anything other than a medically or psychologically really compelling reason seem to me low enough that even though I'd agree that an eight-month fetus may have a different moral status from a two-week embryo, that I think the best way of handling those abortions that are necessary is to leave them up to the discretion of the woman involved and her doctor. Given her strong interest in her own bodily integrity, and the psychological unlikeliness of a frivolous decision delayed to that point, I can't see a better decisionmaker.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:36 PM
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Isn't it something like 81% of abortions are in the first trimester and something under a percent in the last trimester? Anti-abortion rhetoric always shows relatively late-term pics of the little baby, leading people to unreflectively think that late-term abortions are far more common than it is. They tend not to show the dead baby or the baby whose skull is abnormally bloated and lacking a brain.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:37 PM
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you don't think there's any difference between abortion in, say, the eighth or ninth month of a pregnancy and abortion in the second or third?

I didn't say that. *I* think there's a difference. I just don't think that difference can be consistently and justifiably legislated.

There are abortions done for the sake of the health of the fetus?

Brock, let me share with you something from this morning's email inbox:

At a kid's birthday party this summer, another mom told me (whom she didn't know) and another woman (whom she did) that she'd been pregnant with a very much wanted second child, a girl this time (her son is my kid's age). It turned out, though, that the fetus had severe anomalies. She and her husband were OK with the malformed or missing arm, but the fetus also had a mass in the lungs that was growing fast, damaging the fetus, and causing inoperable harm. This fetus had essentially no chance of being born alive and surviving a reparative surgery, and there was a significant risk of death in utero and potential risks to the woman. So she temporarily left her OB's group, affiliated with a Catholic hospital, and saw a doctor at Northwestern who performed a second-trimester abortion in April. She was lucky. The procedure went OK and she should have no problem getting pregnant again, and there were no genetic anomalies that could be a factor in subsequent pregnancies.

Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:40 PM
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178: Well, yes, if we include mental health of the fetus, then yes, we could see Britney Spears's next pregnancy's being aborted.

But instead of aborting babies, I think we should bring them all to term and then give them to Angelina Jolie.

181: Yeah, that's right, & it's one of the things that makes me wonder whether fighting for 3d-term abortions is really so clever, tactically. If they were outlawed except where the mother's health was in jeopardy, I'd be fine with that.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:41 PM
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176: You keep on saying that there's an argument for your two-year-old line, but you haven't made it.

My argument is based on the fact that I find interacting with a baby more than a few months old to be more similar to interacting with an adult human who doesn't speak English than with anything non-human -- IME, babies act like people. Year-old toddlers act absolutely like people.

If your question is "Why is killing people wrong at all?" I have to drop back on moral intuition. But if it's "Why is a six-month baby, or certainly a toddler, a person?" it's because they behave like people.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:41 PM
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182: Sure, but that's not for the sake of the fetus, unless euthanasia counts. But to my 183, sure, that's another reason why LB is probably right that 3d-term decisions should be left to the woman & her doc.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:43 PM
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180, 181: Well, yeah, that's why I said any regulation along those lines wouldn't be likely to have much of an effect. But I don't see why drawing the line at viability as opposed to birth is a problem then - if women aren't going to be inconvenienced by a standard that says you need a medical reason after Date X of a pregnancy, then what's the harm? And if a fetus after that date does have some moral value, then isn't it a good thing to have?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:43 PM
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Has the blockquote text always been in that ridiculous font?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:43 PM
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we could see Britney Spears's next pregnancy's being aborted.

Offensive.

makes me wonder whether fighting for 3d-term abortions is really so clever, tactically.

Depends on if you think the ultimate goal is to win, or whether the ultimate goal is to realize that women are people.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:44 PM
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181: Yeah, that's right, & it's one of the things that makes me wonder whether fighting for 3d-term abortions is really so clever, tactically. If they were outlawed except where the mother's health was in jeopardy, I'd be fine with that.

Jesus Christ this makes me want to drive my head through the wall. That's the law in basically every state right now, that's the Roe framework. There is no one devoting any political effort to removing bans on third-trimester abortion where the mother's health isn't in danger. There is no constituency for whimsical 39 week abortion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:44 PM
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I know this makes me a bad person, but I think even little babies are people.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:46 PM
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that's not for the sake of the fetus, unless euthanasia counts.

Says you. I rather doubt that this is what the parents making the decision thought.

if women aren't going to be inconvenienced by a standard that says you need a medical reason after Date X of a pregnancy, then what's the harm?

Nothing at all. Merely accepting the idea that women's moral right to bodily autonomy isn't a really big deal or nothin.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:46 PM
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If they were outlawed except where the mother's health was in jeopardy, I'd be fine with that.

This still has problems, though. How much of a risk must there be before the procedure is allowed? Who decides what the risk is? If it's just the doctor, can their judgment be questioned after the fact? Does a judge need to sign off on the doctor's recommendation? And so on...


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:46 PM
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And I say this even though B. is taking the 'totally unrestricted' position. B, seriously, would you actually be exercised about a ban on third trimester abortion in the absence of a threat to the health of the mother?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:46 PM
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I didn't say that. *I* think there's a difference. I just don't think that difference can be consistently and justifiably legislated.

Okay, this is a reasonable objection. For that matter, I can see how there would be plenty of room for bad faith law enforcement interference in even a good faith attempt at legislating this scheme.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:47 PM
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Not "more" peopley people than mothers or adults or even older kids, but I don't look at a 3-week-old and say "That thing's about as sentient as a banana!" But I don't say that about puppies either.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:47 PM
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185: Why shouldn't euthanasia count?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:47 PM
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That's the law in basically every state right now, that's the Roe framework

Sorry, I thought Roe *allowed* such laws but didn't require them.

188: Would it be less offensive if Britney were Pentecostal?


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:47 PM
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196: Actually, I guess it should. Not an argument one hears often, but ....


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:48 PM
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Arguments like those in 192 really aren't (I would argue, mostly) driven by a desire for the availability of abortion with no regulation in the third-trimester, they're driven by a fear of malicious abuse of any such regulations by abortion opponents. (Not to read your mind, Matt, and tell me if I'm wrong, but isn't that mostly the sort of thing you're thinking of?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:49 PM
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You have to admit that calling an abortion 'for the health of the fetus' klings a little strangely. It's a mercy kill, and done because of the health (or lack thereof) of the fetus, but certainly not to preserve the health of the fetus.

186: Because if I get pregnant and seven months in I have an emergency situation requiring the termination of the pregnancy, I don't want to have to prove that before I can have the procedure. I also want to have a qualified doctor performing the procedure which is harder to find if it's thought of as something illegal-unless-medically necessary. I also don't want a bunch of lawyers deciding what medical procedures are available to me.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:51 PM
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197: *allowed* such laws but didn't require them.

That's the constitutional position on laws against the murder of adults -- such laws are permissible, but not required. But such laws (banning third trimester abortion except where the mother's health is at risk) do in fact exist in almost every (maybe every?) state.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:51 PM
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199: Right. One can say that late-term abortions are legal when the mother's health is in jeopardy, but there could still be requirements that, for all intents and purposes, restrict even those cases.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:54 PM
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193: Depends what you mean by "exercised." I'm not out there shouting about laws that require late-term abortions to be "justified", primarily because I think that *in actual practice* abortion is always safer for a pregnant woman than pregnancy, and that docs realize this. But when this discussion happens, I'm not going to concede that women should be required to leave their right to self-determination up to the august bodies of the courts, the government, or the internet.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:55 PM
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Not even just de jure requirements, either. How many doctors would perform a late-term abortion if they thought there was a chance it would be seen as illegal?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:55 PM
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Nothing at all. Merely accepting the idea that women's moral right to bodily autonomy isn't a really big deal or nothin.

I don't understand this objection. How is it a serious violation of a woman's right to bodily autonomy to want a medical reason to abort an eight-month-old fetus - one that's viable, that's developed a working nervous system, a capacity to feel pain, that's just a couple weeks from being universally recognized as a person? Yes, of course a woman has a right to bodily autonomy, but, seriously, there comes a point where a fetus does actually develop moral value, and I don't think that conveniently arrives at the moment it exits the womb.

I agree with you that putting this into practice as law wouldn't be workable, but I don't agree with you that the premise that such a regulation would be based on represents a fundamental violation of rights.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:55 PM
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205: My body is required to sustain the life of a fetus until after it is born. Neither you nor anyone else has the moral right to tell me that I have to "justify" my refusal to do so.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 2:57 PM
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Put Strasmangelo's argument another way: you're on a state board that regulates doctors, and you're presented with the case of a doctor who's been performing an abnormally high number of 3d-term abortions where the supposed necessity thereof was not documented and in fact appears nonexistent. There's no indication that any ethical issues registered with the doctor in the abortion of 8 or 9-month fetuses, any more than if they'd been 1 or 2 months along towards birth.

Any problem disciplining the doctor?


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:00 PM
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My body is required to sustain the life of a fetus until after it is born

At some point though it isn't really required. Delivery could be induced and there would be a good chance the baby would survive outside your body just fine.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:00 PM
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But such laws (banning third trimester abortion except where the mother's health is at risk) do in fact exist in almost every (maybe every?) state.

And it is revealed that I know stunningly little about the legal state of affairs that I'm bloviating about. How does this tend to play out? Do these laws tend to create serious access problems, or legal nightmares along the lines Cala's talking about? Or is it kind of like writing a prescription for a controlled substance at a hospital, where a doctor jots down a note and someone else runs off and does a bunch of paperwork?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:01 PM
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It seems weird to me to make birth the bright line marking personhood, since personhood, I think, is determined by the properties of the person/potential person (viability, brain and nervous system development, etc.), not by the external events and conditions surrounding the person (whether they currently reside in a uterus or a bassinet).

I kind of think that being treated as a person by other people is at least somewhat relevant to personhood, so I don't have a problem with according a wanted pregnancy a different moral status than an unwanted pregnancy. But it's not really a thought-through position.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:01 PM
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205: This is where the 'violinist' argument comes in - are you going to require one person to devote their body to supporting another, even when the second person is inarguably fully human? And the strongest answer I think most people are going to come up with is "Mmmmaybe I am, let me weigh the specific circumstances." And once that's where you are, looking at the probabilities (what are the odds that someone is going to want to carry a pregnancy for eight months and then abort, unless they have a pretty goddamn solid reason for doing it) suggests that there's no one better placed to make that decision other than the woman involved.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:01 PM
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Pro-lifers have managed to sow lots of confusion about third-trimester abortions (and I think they're pretty confused about the facts themselves.) Third-trimester abortions performed when:

a) the fetus is dead
b) the fetus has something horrifically wrong with it (brain growing outside the head, for example).
c) the pregnant woman is likely to die or suffer severe internal injuries.
d) there are multiple fetuses in one womb, all of them are unlikely to survive, and aborting one makes it more likely that the others will survive.

Other than that, you'd be hard pressed to find a woman who would want one or a doctor who would do one.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:02 PM
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In point of fact, there are *very few* doctors in the US who can or will provide 3rd tri abortions. One clinic where that's done is in Wichita KS, and the docs there are constantly being harassed and threatened. You can find out a little more about this stuff at the ProKanDo site.

Delivery could be induced

Which would still require something to be done to my body, for which you would still need my consent.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:04 PM
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I kind of think that being treated as a person by other people is at least somewhat relevant to personhood

I think this premise causes all kinds of problems.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:04 PM
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I declare a moratorium on the fucking violinist argument.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:04 PM
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209: Not really. There are access problems for third-trimester abortions, but not (AFAIK) ones that are traceable to overzealous enforcement of legal restrictions mostly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:05 PM
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I WILL NOT LET YOU SIT THERE AND TELL ME THAT I CAN'T AFFORD A HEART TRANSPLANT FOR MY DOGGY. HE HAS BEEN THE OTHER MEMBER OF MY FAMILY FOR 12 YEARS NOW.


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:06 PM
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215: Well, the only thing it's good for is for saying "Even if the fetus is regarded as a full person, that doesn't settle it". But I think it is good for that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:06 PM
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211: Exactly. Which is also why I think that basing the right to abortion on the personhood (or lack thereof) of the fetus is morally (and strategically) wrong.

212: Third-tri abortions are also performed in cases where pregnancies are the result of extremely distressing circumstances--rape, incest--and it takes a woman that long to process the fact of the pregnancy and come to terms with needing an abortion. It's rare, but it happens.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:06 PM
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Has the blockquote text always been in that ridiculous font?

Only if...

a commenter ignores my many exhortations to use <p></p> tags around paragraphs within a blockquote

Otherwise it looks like this


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:06 PM
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I think this premise causes all kinds of problems.

As any number of high-school nerds will tell you.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:07 PM
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The violinist argument may be tired, but it seems to be the only way to get people to make that intuitive jump between "pregnant woman" and "autonomous human being."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:07 PM
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216: That honestly surprises me, really. Didn't some hideous moral mutant of a judge or district attorney in some deeply scarlet state start investigating ob/gyns a few years back to make sure they were all performing abortions for the "right" reasons?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:08 PM
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220: I consulted with Mr. w-lfs-n on the proper html command, thankyouverymuch.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:08 PM
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201: But such laws (banning third trimester abortion except where the mother's health is at risk) do in fact exist in almost every (maybe every?) state.

Actually. But look how many states would ban second trimester abortions if they could -- with no health of the woman exception.

And also.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:09 PM
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223: That was in Kansas. And the reason the da was doing it is obvious, given the existence of the Wichita Women's Health Clinic.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:09 PM
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214: Elaborate?


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:10 PM
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215: Agreed. Why isn't it a "cellist" argument? Or a "banjo player" argument? (Banjoiste?) Or a "playwright" argument?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:11 PM
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Didn't some hideous moral mutant of a judge or district attorney in some deeply scarlet state start investigating ob/gyns a few years back to make sure they were all performing abortions for the "right" reasons?

Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline.

As I remember his justification was that every time a girl under 18 went for reproductive health care there was a good chance that she had had sex that might have been a crime, so the Attorney General needed to know about it.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:11 PM
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217 TO 214


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:12 PM
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I'll repeat: my father was an MD in two small-town Catholic hospitals (St. Luke's and Our Lady of Mercy, Alexandria, Minnesota) during the 50s and 60s. The practice then, if the mother's life seemed to be in danger, was to assume that the baby was already dead. (Not "to find out whether the baby was already dead".)

So little fudging compromises which were possible back in the pious rural dark ages are on the way to being outlawed in the 21st century. Progress.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:13 PM
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Fuck the fucking violinist argument because there's an implicit promise to the violinist that isn't there to the fetus that fucks up the whole fucking analogy.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:13 PM
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Yes, that was Kansas. The thing is, though, that the vast majority of third trimester abortions are pretty damn sympathetic -- non-viable baby; woman will die otherwise; or truly extreme personal circumstances like the ones B. mentions in 219. So (or at least this is my impression) there's not much abortion opponents can do with the actual third-trimester abortions that take place -- the frivolous third-trimester abortions they'd need in order to effectively kick up a fuss about a specific instance don't actually happen.

Abortion opponents talk about third-trimester abortions to drum up support for banning first-trimester abortions; not because they're actually happening except when clearly necessary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:13 PM
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229: But a big part of the real reason behind it was to try to increase the pressure on the providers at the WWHC.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:13 PM
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Okay, my position on late-term abortion restrictions has now completely reversed within the space of a couple dozen comments.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:13 PM
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235: You're welcome.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:14 PM
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Yay, rational (albeit heated) discourse! Comity!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:15 PM
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236 IS SMUG

I HERETOFORE SWITCH MY POSITION TO WHATEVER STRASMANGELO'S POSITION USED TO BE, THEREFORE NULLIFYING YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENT


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:16 PM
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225: As I look more closely at NARAL's info, I see that it doesn't include a list of states that have banned 3rd trimester abortions (with or without exceptions), but those that have (unconstitutional) laws that go all the way to the 2nd trimester. Wonder why.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:17 PM
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219: I am pretty sympathetic to the vagueness argument for abortion rights -- i.e., "let us resolve to leave unresolved the question of fetal personhood, which would require the settlement of remedies according to the rights or lack thereof appertaining to such fetus, accordingly, in favor of the question of whether the all-encompassing State ought to usurp the moral power of women with respect to their own wombs, punishments to be named later" -- and have often wondered why self-styled conservatives don't find it more persuasive, or at least sympathetic enough to be worth engaging. I wonder whether it fails to warm the conservative heart because it defers the point, infinitely, and conservatives seek permanent resolution, or at least know that the promise of permanent resolution is simpler and more saleable to the voting public than the promise of years and years more of irritable disagreement.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:17 PM
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The link in 229 should have gone here, per house rules.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:18 PM
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and have often wondered why self-styled conservatives don't find it more persuasive, or at least sympathetic enough to be worth engaging.

I think conservatives are fine with that argument. But they find that pandering to people whose position is motivated by the Lord Jesus Christ is extremely effective and trumps whatever their own nuanced position would be.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:19 PM
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239: I should look up the data properly, but I'm pretty sure that basically all the states have a 'only when medically necessary after point [X]' ban. If it's universal, and NARAL's not lobbying to change it, why post the stats?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:20 PM
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I think I agree with stras. I would find third trimester abortions for the hell of it kind of bad, but I don't think it is actually something that is going to happen on any kind of scale that would require regulation. So comity I think.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:20 PM
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232: Wait, what? There's no implicit promise to the violinist. If there's a problem with the fucking violinist argument it's that it skirts the whole question of fucking.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:20 PM
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But Planned Parenthood comes through:

"Forty states and the District of Columbia already ban third-trimester abortions except when the life or health of the woman is at stake."

(See my nice formatting, apo?)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:21 PM
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Why isn't it a "cellist" argument?

Your average symphony orchestra has maybe eight cellists and at least two dozen violinists. It's pure supply and demand.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:21 PM
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238 can kiss my ass. If the worst that can be said about women having to "convince" men through calm rational argument that we're human beings same as men are, is that it's "smug" to acknowledge that doing that is a task, then you can shut the fuck up.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:22 PM
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247, see, all the more reason. Our cellists are precious. We must preserve our cellists. To say nothing of our banjoists.

Really, it should be the Bela Fleck argument.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:23 PM
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245: Didn't it begin by consenting to have the violinist hooked up to you? Been a while since I read that paper. I think most of my objection to it is that it made me want to pull out my hair.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:23 PM
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Empirically, the violinist question could be put on an empirical basis by comparing a tuba player, an accordion player, a heavy metal guitarist, a synth player, etc., until we knew what people really thought about these questions.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:23 PM
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246: Man, I'm way off. I was sure it was at least 48 or so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:23 PM
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I would find third trimester abortions for the hell of it kind of bad, but I don't think it is actually something that is going to happen on any kind of scale that would require regulation.

The question is do you think that women's rights should be contingent on whether or not you think that their actually exercising them would be "kind of bad" under certain circumstances?

If there's a problem with the fucking violinist argument it's that it skirts the whole question of fucking.

That's the beauty of the thing: it steps right around the visceral "punish the slut" reaction, which is one of the things that the woman=person realization requires people to be able to do.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:25 PM
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249: The moral dilemma of banjmogrification has been touched upon.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:25 PM
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Apo is blaming the victim. Unfogged's software sabotages the house rules. We try and we try out here, but we can't do anything right because the fiendish webmaster is sabotaging out efforts.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:25 PM
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250: Didn't it begin by consenting to have the violinist hooked up to you?

I think it was that the Society of Music Lovers had hooked a violinist up to you without your consent, and told you that it's your duty to keep him alive for as long as necessary.

251: until we knew what people really thought about these questions.

I'll bet you most of us would pull the plug on the French Horn players in a hearbeat. People are bastards.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:26 PM
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Come fucking on, LB. "Acting like" a person isn't the relevent criteria. You could build a robot that acted like a person.

What's wrong with awareness of personhood? I think, therefore I am, or something like that. It makes as much sense as anything else. In fact I think it makes substantially more sense than anything else. The only problem with it (and it's not a small problem) is that there isn't a bright line like birth. But we know it happens sometime around the age of two-ish. I'm comfortable with two as a prophylactic.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:26 PM
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244:

"The overwhelming majority of abortions are performed in the first trimester of pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 58 percent of legal abortions occur within the first eight weeks of gestation, and 88 percent are performed within the first 12 weeks (based on the most recent data from 2000). Just over 10 percent are performed between 13 and 20 weeks. Less than one-half-of-one percent occur after 24 weeks." Source.

So, comity.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:26 PM
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Didn't it begin by consenting to have the violinist hooked up to you?

No, the town does it to you while you're asleep/unconscious or something. You don't consent to the initial hooking up.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:27 PM
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254: Most excellent. Unfogged can always be counted on to tackle the important questions.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:28 PM
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No, the town does it to you while you're asleep/unconscious or something. You don't consent to the initial hooking up.

SOUNDS LIKE MY PROM NIGHT

ALSO, B, WHAT I MEANT WAS THAT SAYING "YOU'RE WELCOME" WHEN THE OTHER PERSON HAS NOT SAID "THANK YOU" IS SMUG.


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:29 PM
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257: You could build a robot that acted like a person.

No we can't. And if we could, I'd start worrying about whether it was entitled to be treated as one.

But we know it happens sometime around the age of two-ish.

You keep on saying this, but I don't know why you say it. Whatever 'awareness of personhood is', my interactions with older babies and toddlers seem to indicate to me that they've got it just as much as adults do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:29 PM
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242: Tell me about it. That Jesus stuff is like catnip to those Dietrich Bonhoeffer types, with their "love" this, "discipleship" that and "I think I'll write some stuff about Jesus while I wait to be executed by the Nazis" the other.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:30 PM
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it steps right around the visceral "punish the slut" reaction,

True dat.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:30 PM
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Well I don't have time to try and dig up links right now, so sorry. Maybe tonight.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:31 PM
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I have no idea what this violinist shit is you people keep talking about. Is it generally pro-violinist or anti-violinist? Because I'm always up for mocking violinists.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:33 PM
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Am I the only one tediously typing out all the tags every damn time? (All for you, apo.) Does everyone else (or the techno-nerds at least) have some groovy little macros that insert the tags?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:33 PM
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Suck it, violinists!


Posted by: Viola Section | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:33 PM
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I'll bet you most of us would pull the plug on the French Horn players in a hearbeat

I support abortion rights only in hopes of culling the surplus flutist population.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:34 PM
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I have no idea what this violinist shit is you people keep talking about

Famous Violinist.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:35 PM
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261: I understood that was what you meant. I contend that, first, it needn't be smug--it can be gracious, in fact--and that secondly, smug is a really venial sin in comparison with the moral obligation to be patient while explaining that one is as much of a person as the one you're talking to. So if someone needs to point out the smugness but takes issue with my pointing out that I've made quite an allowance by taking the time to explain such a thing, well then, that person can go fuck themselves.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:35 PM
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The question is do you think that women's rights should be contingent on whether or not you think that their actually exercising them would be "kind of bad" under certain circumstances?

My position is based on the fact that I think at some point a fetus is deserving of some subset of rights. So where I get hazy is where the rights of the fetus and the rights of the mother conflict. First trimester I am comfortable saying fetus has no rights so no conflict. Pre-viability mother's rights still predominate. Post viability it gets trickier for me. I really don't see birth as the bright line that you do and I don't think that we are going to agree on this.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:36 PM
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Oh, I didn't realize it was a famous violinist. That changes everything.

I oppose abortion on general principles for famous fetuses as well.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:37 PM
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270: Oh, I feel bad for the violinist now. My brothers are violinists. I hereby recuse myself from decisions involving the abortion of violinists.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:39 PM
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What do a violin and a lawsuit have in common?

Everyone's a lot happier when the case is closed.


Posted by: Famous Euphonium Player | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:40 PM
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272: Fair enough. I'm willing to agree to disagree on the question of balancing women's rights with the rights of a fetus, as long as it's explicitly acknowledged that what's being done there is presuming that women's rights are inherently more limited than the rights of men.

I'm not being sarcastic, by the way. I just want it out there that saying that a woman has an obligation to a late-term pregnancy that should be legally enforced is effectively a statement that women's legal rights to bodily integrity are contingent during pregnancy. I'm not okay with that, but I realize that some people are.

FWIW, I certainly think that both women and men have moral obligations to pregnancies and children.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:41 PM
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267: I type out the tags. Ogged once brought up the idea of having a few formatting buttons over the comment box and w-lfs-n had a big ol' hissy fit about it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:50 PM
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I suppose I'm alone in never having bought the violinist argument, b/c making somebody else DIE just so you won't feel lousy for a few months, always seemed pretty fucking ridiculous.

Then again, I never bought the ontological argument, either. I suppose I "lack a flair for metaphysics," as Walter Kaufmann put it.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 3:57 PM
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I suppose I'm alone in never having bought the violinist argument, b/c making somebody else DIE just so you won't feel lousy for a few months, always seemed pretty fucking ridiculous.

We'll be coming by for your kidney next week. You have two, right?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:00 PM
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Dibs on the kidney. I'm a famous kazooist.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:03 PM
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279: Try it with the fava beans.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:06 PM
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Jesus, it's "flautist". You can turn in your Music Critics Union card at the desk as you leave this venue forever.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:08 PM
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Huh. "Flautist" is pronouced "flawtist." I had no idea.

Cf. Fowler: "Flutist is more than 350 years old; flautist (from Italian flautista) dates only from the middle of the 19th c., and there seems no good reason why it should have prevailed over the others. But it has."

I think that a Pynchonesque secret society of flutist supporters may well walk the earth ... and even post at this very blog.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:13 PM
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I don't even want to speculate about the other activities of the "Flutist" clique, but I wouldn't be surprised if Lyndon LaRouche had a hand in this.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:15 PM
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284: Let's just say that the *real* reason for the Iraq War has not even remotely been guessed at.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:16 PM
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There are no coincidences.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:18 PM
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277: I hate w-lfs-n.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:20 PM
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The moral dilemma of banjmogrification has been touched upon.

This made me think that you were turning people in Banjo Paterson


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:23 PM
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i agree with brock


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:42 PM
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making somebody else DIE just so you won't feel lousy for a few months

Which is your right and obligation to decide. For yourself.

(Not even getting into the realities of things like, oh, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, childbirth, cesarean sections, permanent bodily changes, loss of bone mass, grocery bills, etc. Dismissing pregnancy as "feeling lousy for a few months" may be fair enough in most cases in the industrialized world, but often enough it's a damn sight more than that.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:44 PM
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oh wait, i'm not.

i just don't think babies should be given the same status as 'people', who i generally define as those able to talk with some complexity.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:49 PM
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calling a foetus a 'baby' is like talking about your car. The car you're going to buy as soon as you get a raise.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:55 PM
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No, it's not like talking about a car. What's with the child-as-commodity analogies here? Even if a fetus is not a human, it certainly is a physical part of a woman's body with all kinds of attendant phenomena, not something you go into a store and buy and suddenly have at your disposal.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:58 PM
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I would never have guessed that of all the people on this blog yoyo would be the one to spell "foetus" in the foppish/pedantic way.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:59 PM
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Anderson has my back, Emerson, but you can call them flautists if you want. As long as we agree that they're an annoyance.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:59 PM
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That is, compare it to a growth (with the potential for future sentience) if you want to. But comparing it to a consumer item just doesn't offer any moral parallels.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 4:59 PM
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Shouldn't it be fœtus?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:01 PM
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The proper comparison is to seamonkeys, obviously.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:02 PM
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I love seamonkeys. I used to keep them when I worked in a biochem lab and I would regularly catch the postdocs neglecting their work to watch the seamonkeys mate and flip around and stuff.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:04 PM
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292: I swear to god, it's things like this that want me to ban young penis owners from having opinions.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:04 PM
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I forgot that I'm supposed to check in on a story about a preserved human fetus buried somewhere in NE DC. I'm billing my hours today!


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:04 PM
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Have I posted Mr. B.'s fetus poem here, that he made up while PK was in utero?

Does it have a finger, does it have a toe?
No not yet, it's an em-bry-o
Soon it will be glad to meet us,
But for now it's just a fetus.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:05 PM
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Jesus, this is not an academic argument. You're dealing with the powerful Music Reviewer's Union. The East River is full of music reviewers wearing cement overshoes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:06 PM
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296: You're making a spurious complaint, that i'm saying a baby = a consumer good. So, compare it to "our baby", where the baby is the baby a couple plans to adopt in 5 years when they get their phds.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:09 PM
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Flutist, flautist, fetus, fœtus, let's call the whole thing off.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:12 PM
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The AWB and B's complaint is like when feminists complain about men thinking how to be better at dating is always a way of destroying the personhood of the datees of the plotting men.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:13 PM
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306: Yes, exactly like that.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:17 PM
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304 gets it right. I was going to say something like that myself, that the reference to the fetus as "my baby" is partially the woman projecting herself into the future and referring to the baby that doesn't exist yet but will soon be hers, if all goes well. 306, I don't know what that means.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:17 PM
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No mercy, McQueen. You're scabbing on the union. And it's "tomayto".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:18 PM
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308: 306 refers to their criticisms of de-uniquesnowflaking rhetoric i use.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:19 PM
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308: Hardly. The fetus does exist, and if she chooses to think of it and call it a baby, is that really any of your business?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:19 PM
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305: Put "flatus" and "afflatus" somewhere in there.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:20 PM
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310: Jesus, you can take a way a man's personhood, but don't touch his analogies! I just thought the analogy was clumsy and unhelpful, since it has like zero moral parallels with the situation we're discussing. Don't go getting your anti-feminist panties in a twist just because your rhetoric is criticized by a (female) rhetorician.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:25 PM
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311: no, it probably isn't my business. you should probably also mention its a free country and she has a right to call it her baby.'

313i wasn't really trying to explain anything, i was just free associating.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:28 PM
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Oh, see, in 310 you used the word "rhetoric," which implied that you weren't just free-associating for no reason having to do with argument.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:30 PM
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I don't like yoyo's hat. What do you have to say for yourself, yoyo?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:40 PM
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I have presupposed that yoyo has a hat. Now I must be punished. A hat is not a baby.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:41 PM
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You're right, text. I should assume that any comment that doesn't say "THIS IS PART OF THE ARGUMENT" is metaphysical poetry.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:43 PM
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Someone must pay. All must pay. A fetus is and is not a baby.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:43 PM
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317: How mielodorous is thy bel chant, O songbird, and how exqueezit thine after draught! Buccinate in Emenia tuba insigni volumnitatis tuae. But do you mean, O phausdheen phewn, from Pontoffbellek till the Kisslemerched our ledan triz will be? we gathered substantively whether furniture would or verdure varnish?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 5:47 PM
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say what?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 6:01 PM
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What clashes here of wills gen wonts, oystrygods gaggin fishy-gods! Brékkek Kékkek Kékkek Kékkek! Kóax Kóax Kóax! Ualu Ualu Ualu! Quaouauh!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 6:40 PM
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This is ridiculous LB--just google, it's there. I don't have time now. Perhaps someone better versed in this field can jump in and explain.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 6:42 PM
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I'm not deliberately trying to be obtuse, but googling isn't giving me an 'awareness of personhood' switch that flips at around 2. Is there anyone with a psych background who knows what Brock is talking about, or Brock, if you're around, could you give me some further terms to google on?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:07 PM
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Ehhhh.... enough of a cogsci background to be able to hand-wavily say that it's around eighteen months or so that toddlers begin to recognize those fleshy things that wander around and feed them and clean them and play with them as other persons. And this is a developmental milestone because the toddler is able to model the other person's feelings, which requires a certain amount of self-awareness because doing so requires the child to keep her sense of self separate from her sense of the other person's... the toddler can recognize that mommy is sad while knowing that she, the toddler, is happy.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:16 PM
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I think Brock's thinking of the Piaget model of childhood development.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:19 PM
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Are we talking about things like the false belief test to see if the kid has a theory of mind?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:19 PM
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I really don't see birth as the bright line that you do and I don't think that we are going to agree on this.

I'm not done reading this thread yet, but the most surprising aspect of it to me is the pro-infanticide contingent. Wow.

As moral reasoning, this seems every bit as clueless as the anti-abortionists - and for a similar reason: the failure to acknowledge the moral significance of the connection between a woman and a fetus.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:20 PM
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Here's something, LB--describing the shift from implicit to explicit self-awareness.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:22 PM
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But other research suggests that infants start showing some understanding of other people as intentional agents like themselves sometime around 9-12 months.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:22 PM
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Oh, no one's come out in favor of infanticide. I'm not following Brock with the utmost of clarity, but the position he's taking can't be described as 'pro-infanticide'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:23 PM
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Kids suck at false belief tests until they're around four. But eighteen-month-olds seem to be able to distinguish between trying to do something and pretending to do it -- I can get you citations tomorrow.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:24 PM
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this seems every bit as clueless as the anti-abortionists

Is cluelessness on both counts twice as clueless or is it like multiplying two negatives? I'd just like to know where I stand.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:25 PM
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Look, I could be convinced that two is the wrong line--maybe 18 months is better? Sure. I'm no expert. Better safe than sorry, right? My only point was that you can justify any of these lines as well as "birth".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:27 PM
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Brock, you can justify (aka rationalize) any kind of stupid shit you want to. But you've *had* a kid. You know birth isn't just some flippant little thing you toss between scare quotes like that. Up to that point if, god forbid, your wife had gone into cardiac arrest, I'm pretty sure you'd have told the docs to worry about her life before the baby's. Afterwards, *that choice doesn't have to be made* because the baby isn't physically connected to her.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:30 PM
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329: If what you meant is that 18 months is the age at which most kids can look at themselves in the mirror and react to the fact that someone's surreptitiously put a Post-it note on their heads, I will note that I asked if that was what you were talking about back in my 91. (Possibly in wording too flippant to be comprehensible, but that was what I was trying to ask.)

But why make that the line for full 'morally human' status, rather than, say, from that same link, the ability to carry on a responsive 'protoconversation' which shows up in the second month?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:31 PM
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Birth's the only one that severs the connection between the child and the mother-as-only-possible incubator.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:32 PM
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By 7 or 9 months old, babies will reliably follow the gaze of their caretakers (that is, they look to see what you're looking at). By the time they're a year old, and often a few months earlier, they start pointing at things to draw your attention.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:33 PM
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I suppose I'm alone in never having bought the violinist argument, b/c making somebody else DIE just so you won't feel lousy for a few months, always seemed pretty fucking ridiculous.

The violinist argument is not about whether you should help the violinist - it's abaout whether you should be compelled to help the violinist.

Politicians catch a lot of crap for saying that they are personally opposed to abortion but wouldn't legislate against it, but this position is entirely morally reasonable.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:33 PM
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Blah blah blah social cognition blah!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:33 PM
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I'd also say (and this is pure subjective reaction to babies I've met, as well as the ones I've had) that there appears to be a significant change in sentience a couple of months after birth -- a new baby goes from there being apparently not much of anyone home, to something that seems to me to be very much the same sort of thing as other people, albeit short on skills like speech and motor coordination, sometime in the first six months. That timing is close enough to birth that it makes sense to me to treat birth as a bright line on sentience as well as independence -- a conservatively early, but not wildly so, bright line.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:37 PM
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Cala raises the same point in 337 as she did in 51, and others have raised this point more elaborately. It's a long thread, and I haven't read it all, but I'm wondering if someone can identify in which post Brock or someone else has addressed Cala's point.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:41 PM
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By the way, I just watched the video. I think whoever it was upthread that said these people just don't know any way to express moral condemnation other than "illegal" was right. Most people aren't wanting to send women to jail for having an abortion. They're just wanting to express their deep-felt conviction that this is not *okay*, and probably don't really know another way to do that. (Other ways aren't exactly obvious.) I'm willing to speculate that while they may not be out on the streets protesting about it (although some of them probably are), many of these people would also say strip clubs should be illegal. But I likewise don't think they'd be interested in throwing dancers or patrons in jail. (Owners, maybe.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:43 PM
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but the position he's taking can't be described as 'pro-infanticide'.

I was imprecise. Would infanticide-tolerant be more accurate?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:45 PM
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How would you like me to address it, politicalfootball? I don't think I have but I'm happy to. What do you want to know?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:45 PM
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(Other ways aren't exactly obvious.)

How about the exact same demonstration, with the exact same pictures and the exact same attitude, without calling for a law to be passed. Do you seriously find it difficult to express disapproval without calling for a law to be passed?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:47 PM
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The calling for the law is about putting some finality on it. No one wants to stand on street corners in perpetuity.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:49 PM
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Yeah, I think a lot of people think of making something illegal along the lines of It should be stopped! People shouldn't be allowed! rather than And then what happens if they do it anyway?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:52 PM
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How would you like me to address it, politicalfootball?

Brock, in 44 you said:

I don't think having an abortion is morally different from killing a child under the age of two.

While other folks wanted to quibble over the exact age at which a baby's life achieves moral relevance, Cala cut straight to the real point and said:

But the person providing for their needs can be swapped out after birth. There's no way to switch gestators midway through a pregnancy.

Others echoed this point, but not as clearly and directly, and Cala repeated it in 337 - again quite directly.

So, Brock, to answer your question: You can address this in whatever fashion you choose - including explicitly saying that this isn't a point you think is worth addressing. But as I said (and as you ignored in your response) this reasoning seems every bit as clueless as the anti-abortionists in that it willfully ignores the moral significance of the connection between a woman and a fetus.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:55 PM
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No one wants to stand on street corners in perpetuity.

And they don't have to. But your point seems to be rebutted by empirical reality. People do, in fact, spend their entire lives objecting to things that they wouldn't make illegal, and specifically abortion demonstrators have been at it at least since Roe V. Wade.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 7:58 PM
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people just don't know any way to express moral condemnation other than "illegal" was right.

I think that's true for a lot of us, although it seems to pop up especially often with abortion issues. It's so, so easy to conflate "I wish all teenagers could talk to their parents before getting an abortion" or "It would be better if both parents discussed and agreed about the abortion beforehand" with "And therefore there should be A LAW!!"

I don't know any way to change this other than one by one. Again, the only way I have ever known people's beliefs on this to shift is through personal conversation in which assumptions get uncovered. Just saying "And who decides if an abortion is medically necessary? Should there be a committee? Who would be on it? How would that work?" in the context of a non-combative dialogue can make some people go Oohhhhhhhhh, riiiiight, just passing the law won't do it.

Not everybody, of course.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:00 PM
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343: They're just wanting to express their deep-felt conviction that this is not *okay*, and probably don't really know another way to do that.

Sounds awfully quaint but I don't buy it. This is near to the part of the ideological specturm that gave us Paul Hill. I don't think these are people just sort of nebulously trying to get their feelings out; they have quite specific goals, it's just that they don't care to focus on the moral choices of women as part of those goals.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:12 PM
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Paul Hill.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:12 PM
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349: politicalfootball, I think some of the confusion is arising because I'm dancing backwards in this thread. To clarify:

(1) I think abortion is wrong! bad! no! in all or almost all circumstances (health of the mother blah blah), because I think all human lives have equal moral worth. I don't know whether or not that means it should be illegal to provide them; I think that's a tough question, though I probably lean away from prohibition. I definitely don't think it should be illegal to receive them, for lots of different reasons.

(2) A fetus is a developing human life. A baby is a developing human life. One is more developed than the other. At what threshold of development are we going to grant independent moral worth to the developing life? Hell if I know... I'd start back at square one. But if we're picking other dates, birth doesn't necessarily have any special significance in terms of the development of the developing life. Maybe birth has significance in terms of moral worth, if moral worth is derived from something other than sufficient development of the developing life. This is related to Cala's point -- maybe birth isn't so much important as a developmental milestone, but as a moment when countervailing moral considerations are significantly reduced. Fine. Maybe that's right. Again, I think this is all a pretty shitty guessing game to play. But regardless, my point was that in terms of the development of the developing life itself, there are certainly milestones other than birth that seem significantly more related than birth to why we think it's wrong to kill another person -- in fact the two most logical would probably be roughly mid-gestation brain development and roughly age-of-two development of an awareness of self. One could certainly make a decent argument that the first of those is the milstone we in fact care about, but we don't want to outlaw abortions immediately after that event in part because we don't know when that event occurs (and it's not a "moment") and partly due to the aforementioned countervailing considerations. Fine. That's convenient timing, for sure. But other than that, I actually think the fetal brain development checkpoint is a little weak, and think if we're drawing arbitrary developmental lines the self-awareness line is just as good. Or at least arguably just as good.

(3) All of that was a little bit unrelated to the fact that I don't see how throwing someone in jail for killing his or her baby will do any good for anyone (including "society"), whether the kid is unborn or not. After roughly twoish it stops looking like "killing your baby" and starts looking like "killing another person" (again, in part because that's how your baby is now starting to think of himself), and that's the sort of thing for which I'm willing to send someone to jail.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:21 PM
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health of the mother blah blah

I'm sorry, dude: health of the mother "blah blah"? Seriously?

That's like a perfect counterpart of pro-choice "the fetus is a cancer" rhetoric. Fuck that's annoying.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:25 PM
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huh?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:26 PM
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Objecting, obviously, to a certain apparent flippancy in re: the whole "health of the mother" thing. May seem like a nitpick, but it just jumped out at me.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:28 PM
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Brock, you have to admit it's very weird to be concerned that abortion is wrong because it terminates the life of something that may be a person but deny that such reasoning applies in the case of a toddler.

(Though I otherwise agree with LB that newborns are pretty much human-shaped lumps that haven't figured out how their hands work. This is also why generally I think that consciousness arguments concerning moral responsibility are largely bullshit.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:29 PM
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Oh, not trying to be flippant, trying to not get bogged down in a detailed list of particular circumstances that may or may not justify an abortion, which I viewed as beside the main point of the already-long comment.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:31 PM
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358: it's very weird to be concerned that abortion is wrong because it terminates the life of something that may be a person but deny that such reasoning applies in the case of a toddler

Cala, no, I think it (arguably) applies equally well in both cases.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:34 PM
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Well, yeah, that's why it's weird that you're accepting it in one and denying it in the other case.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:36 PM
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361: Paragraph 2 of 354 has to be read in light of paragraph 1.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:38 PM
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Alright. In paragraphs two and three you seem to be tying moral worth to the... entity's status as a person. Not punishable via jail for murdering a toddler because a toddler is not yet a person (unlike the hypothetical ten-year-old.)

But surely the fetus has less of a claim to be a person than the toddler. Yet you think that abortion, but not infanticide is wrong wrong wrong, though you're willing to jail neither mother in either case.

So what I'm seeing is that it would make sense to be like Singer and think that birth was not really a bright line and that we could kill babies humanely up until 18 months or so; or it would make sense to count them all as equal moral worth. But I don't get how it makes sense to value the fetus more than the toddler (since you think abortion is wrong no bad, but toddler killing more excusable.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:43 PM
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Infanticide is wrong wrong wrong. Sorry if that was unclear.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:45 PM
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363: I read Brock to be saying they are of equal badness not that abortion is worse.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:45 PM
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And I see I am correct. Pwnd


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:46 PM
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I repeat comment 44: I don't think having an abortion is morally different from killing a child under the age of two. I don't care whether you call both or neither "murder." But in most cases I don't think either one should land a woman in jail.


Posted by: Brock La | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:46 PM
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In order to avoid being pwnd I will say that I interpret Brock's position as being the next thing that he says. Go ahead Brock.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:46 PM
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Gotcha. Now you're just Singer. I think Singer's wrong on this point, mostly for reasons previously stated (51, 337.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:47 PM
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I am Singer?? Maybe his mirror-image.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:49 PM
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Singer could probably be talked into it. But yeah, you're the inverse with the exact same logic.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 8:50 PM
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371, dare we say: Bizarro Singer.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 9:14 PM
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372: aka Prince


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 9:31 PM
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This is related to Cala's point -- maybe birth isn't so much important as a developmental milestone, but as a moment when countervailing moral considerations are significantly reduced. Fine. Maybe that's right. Again, I think this is all a pretty shitty guessing game to play.

And yet, we are compelled to play this shitty game if we are concerned about the politics or morality of abortion. I will say again that I am stunned by the infanticide-tolerant on this thread, for the reasons that Cala articulates and that you at least acknowledge here.

And regarding abortions:

I don't know whether or not that means it should be illegal to provide them; I think that's a tough question, though I probably lean away from prohibition. I definitely don't think it should be illegal to receive them, for lots of different reasons.

This post was all about the refusal of people to articulate those reasons. The people on the Youtube clip refused to comprehend that their vilification of abortion was incompatible with their tolerance of the carriers of fetuses. Why should someone who solicits the death of a fetus (or, god help us, an infant) be less morally culpable than the person who actually carries it out?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 9:34 PM
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Frankly, I strongly suspect that some of the people in this video are not quite as morally stupid as they are made out to be in this thread. They seek to ban abortion, but they don't favour a criminalization that would put women behind bars for having obtained the procedure that they seek to ban. A potentially perfectly reasonable position, which, admittedly, they don't articulate as well as they might. But then again, they obviously weren't expecting that guy with the camera to address them with his questions (and he's the one who insists on framing it as legal versus illegal, btw)...I mean, it's not as though they had been given the chance to prepare their talking points and etc.

If someone went to a pro-choice rally and did the same thing with a videocam, with someone asking, say, "Are you for or against abortion?", we would only hear responses that were well-reasoned and philosophically sound, right? I mean, we wouldn't hear any "pretzel logic" about how "we're not for abortion, we're just for choice." And who among us, living in this our consumer culture, in an era of apparently limitless possibilities and ever-expanding options, could possibly be against choice? So for choice, yeah. But for choice about what? Well, for choice about abortion, duh. So are you for or against abortion? Well, we're not against it, of course, or we wouldn't be at this rally, but then again, we're not exactly for it, either. We're just for choice.

But nobody would actually say that, of course.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 9:40 PM
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Well, Invisible Adjunct, for the sake of argument I'll accept that these poor people who have spent years pondering (and demonstrating !) about abortion were ambushed with an unreasonble question. I'll accept (again for argument's sake) that they shouldn't have been expected to have thought at all about how people they call murderers should be treated by the law.

Okay, okay. But after due consideration, what answer do you propose they would/should have provided? If abortion is murder, how should women who solicit abortions be treated by the law?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 9:51 PM
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I mean, it's not as though they had been given the chance to prepare their talking pointsmonths or years to think even casually about one of the most basic fucking questions that could possibly come up in relation to their enterprise

Fixed.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 9:58 PM
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And 375.2: I'm not for evangelical Christianity, but I'm in favour of people's freedom to choose it. Is that "pretzel logic"? WTF are you on about?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:01 PM
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Obviously, "pretzel logic" in this case refers to the pretzel's origins as a symbolic representation of hands clasped in prayer: the phrase simply calls attention to the importance of prayer to the thought processes of the humbly, godly folk protesting at clinics.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:05 PM
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Ah, it all makes sense now.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:09 PM
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How could we be 380 posts into a discussion of Pretzel Logic witout having mentioned Steely Dan?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:18 PM
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Total drive by, since I haven't read most of the thread, but 375 makes sense. They think that abortion is the killing of a child and they want it to be illegal, but because anti-abortion laws are always targeted at providers, they haven't thought in terms of "how should the woman be punished?" because that's not what they want, and not what would happen if abortion did become illegal. They are, in that sense, being tricked by being asked about penalties for the mother. (I, personally, am all for this "trick," but right now that's neither here nor there.) And if you think that you couldn't get people to say dumb things if you pushed jane-protester on the "are you for abortion?" question, I think you're being too sanguine about the folks on our side.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:21 PM
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I was surprised to see that myself.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:22 PM
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383->381


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:22 PM
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382: Oh, sure, and I think we've covered a lot of that earlier on. If we're going to make the point that people on our side could say dumb things, I'll grant it; I'd just like the illustrative example to actually be a dumb thing.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:24 PM
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382: Sure, you can always find somebody to look stupid on camera. But when people are out waving signs to make abortion illegal, the next question is obviously what the penalties should be. It's about as much of a trick as someone declaring they're hungry and then asking them where they want to eat.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:26 PM
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386: goddamit that one gets me every time. Sure, I should think of something ahead of time, but it's like bacon? Soup? Chicken friend steak? Aborted fetuses? My mind just goes blank.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:30 PM
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Although chicken friend does make a lovely steak.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:30 PM
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Yeah, but then you're stuck in the chicken friend zone, and you're probably never gonna get to hit that chicken.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:32 PM
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Whatever man, I get laid like an egg.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:34 PM
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376 was a response to both 375 and, apparently, to 382.

Granted, if the video was merely an example of ambushing people, then that's not very illuminating. But ogged, why doesn't someone - on this thread or anywhere else on the planet - provide us with the answer that the subjects of that video failed to provide? Again: If abortion is murder, what is the appropriate legal response to someone who solicits an abortion?

(I'd add: If abortion in this country is a moral wrong on the scale of the Holocaust, then why is it wrong to assassinate the politicians who support this country's abortion policies? Think about it for a month or a year or several decades before you answer, because apparently giving the entire anti-abortion movement only 35 years to answer these questions is unfair.)

And do you seriously think that nobody - here or elsewhere - has satisfactorily responded to the "are you for abortion" question? Heck, I posted on this exact question in 339 here, but I don't say that with any particular pride - my observation was very ordinary.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 10:36 PM
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Again: If abortion is murder, what is the appropriate legal response to someone who solicits an abortion?

I don't feel that abortion is the same thing as murder, but surely this is situationally dependent. There's already a large range in the sentences people get for killing someone else. Someone who leaves their newborn in a dumpster will usually get a couple years (?), and it's not inconsistent to say that this is reasonable for someone who gets a late-term abortion out of convenience.

I think that at some point there's going to be trouble in the US when we get into more eugenics-y stuff than we have now, like gender-selection but more so.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 08- 7-07 11:02 PM
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BROCK STOP TROLLING!!

seriously. your claim that bright lines as to when infanticide should be legal could be drawn with equal plausibility at 2 years as at birth is totally, 100% false. you are completely unable to make a case for that in this thread, on account of the MANIFEST FALSITY of the claim, ok? vague handwaving in the direction of when infants discover object permanence or a theory of mind is so, so not cutting it for you. no one is even remotely inclined to think, wow, Brock has made me question my support for abortion rights, because I'm unable to distinguish my support for abortion rights from support for murdering 20-month-olds! oh noes, a thousand times noes!!

further, the question of whether you personally support legal penalties for women who have had abortions or murdered their living children is profitlessly entangled with the previous claim (which, as I may not have mentioned, IS FALSE IN A TRIVIALLY OBVIOUS WAY). you may very well be: inclined to advocate lesser penalties for a whole range of crimes, based on your own beliefs about responsibility and likelihood of recidivism; willing to take seriously a defense for reduced responsibility in the case of a mother killing her newborn--or, because you are crazy--her 2-year-old; opposed to legal sanctions for abortion despite your belief that a zygote has the same moral status as a 18-month-old child. great. I'm sure that's awesome for you.

but I object to your tone and method of reasoning here, which seems to be fuelled by worry that you, like the people in the video, may not have a principled moral view on whether abortion really is murder, and further by a kind of resignation about our amorality--can't they even see that their own views are so evil as to entail sanctioning the murder of living children!! there are many abortion opponents who have heard some vague thing about Singer and have concluded that abortion rights supporters all think infanticide is jolly good fun. this is false in almost every single case, and questions about whether we might accept lesser legal penalties for a woman who has denied her pregnancy to herself and then kills her newborn after giving birth alone in NO WAY speaks to the question of whether someone other than a pregnant woman and her doctor should decide on a late-term abortion. this double-jujitsu bullshit in which you seem alternately to shock us with your apparent weakness for killing small children and to pull back the curtain to reveal...that zygotes were people all along!! is fucking pissing me off.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 2:31 AM
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Can I adopt Alameida's substantive reaction, while being less pissed off about it?

Brock, I do get the impression that your substantive chain of reasoning goes along the following lines:

I can refute the position that early abortion is morally unproblematic, because fetuses clearly aren't people, as follows:

First, everyone thinks infanticide is wrong. It's a strong intuition. So if early abortion is the same thing, morally, as infanticide, it's obviously wrong.

Second,if infanticide isn't the killing of a person, but only of something that may develop into a person, then it's wrong for the same reasons I think early abortion is wrong.

Third. Babies aren't people, because they don't demonstrate having a theory of mind by removing Post-it notes surreptitiously placed on their heads when they see them in mirrors.

QED: The common intuition that infanticide is wrong is based on a belief that killing something that may develop into a person is wrong; anyone holding such a belief should logically be committed to an anti-abortion stance.

Is this a fair representation of your thinking? Because if so, as Al says, I think this falls down on your step three, claiming that babies and toddlers don't have the moral stature of adult humans, which is just not a starting point that you're going to get a lot of people to join you at, as well as the manner in which it entirely ignores the rights of the woman involved to bodily autonomy. (Which, as the violinist argument shows, are powerful even when the countervailing need is that of an unquestionably full human being, rather than of something which is not yet one.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 5:30 AM
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If abortion in this country is a moral wrong on the scale of the Holocaust, then why is it wrong to assassinate the politicians who support this country's abortion policies? Think about it for a month or a year or several decades before you answer, because apparently giving the entire anti-abortion movement only 35 years to answer these questions is unfair.

For me, asking this question always reminds me of a dangerous game of Russian roulette. I think it is a perfectly legitimate question, but I hate raising it.

Also, I get pissed at people who assume it is so damn easy to get an abortion. Go see how many legitimate providers will do an abortion after 20 weeks.

We really need to start getting serious about training doctors to provide abortions. Second and third trimester abortions are not all fun and games. These are for legitimate medical purposes. Cutting off the supply leaves women in a very dangerous position.
We are talking about medical safety, not convenience. Damn it!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:25 AM
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Invisible Adjunct, as per usual, has the most thoughtful response to the clip that started this thread. Some people with whom we disagree are moral idiots, but most are not, and are just inarticulate.

But there seems to be a strong desire to see one's opponents as moral idiots, or ill-motivated, on this issue above all others. For this reason, it's more than a bit depressing to see Brock being called out as a troll on this thread.

On the merits, let me distinguish three points

1. What gives an entity a claim on life? (or on not being killed) One view is that the *only* thing worth considering here are the entity's capabilities (reason, self-awareness, whatever), another is that other factors (what the entity is, what capabilities the entity has the potential to acquire) play a role in establishing a claim on life. Brock, as I understand him, holds the second position, but has, for the sake of making a argument with shared premises, been stipulating the capabilities approach in his discussion here
2. Granting the capabilities view, we can then ask: what are these capabilities, are they the type of thing that are amenable to "bright line" tests, and when do they manifest in the course of human development? Again, as I understand Brock, he doesn't seem believe that these bright lines make a lot of sense, and that there's no obvious reason *on the basis of capabilities* to draw the line at birth. And indeed, I suspect he views this absence of a bright line as some support against a purely "capabilities-based" approach, although he has not said this.
3. Alameida and LB claim above that Brock is wrong to be dubious about birth as a bright line because two year olds aren't the same as infants. But this is not a reason to feel confident about birth as a bright line. Nor is it a reason to feel confident about the existence of bright lines. As I think I usually do on this topic, let me suggest that people look up Rosalind Hurthouse's essay "Abortion and Virtue Ethics" (she's pro-capability, anti-bright line, more or less)
4. This is all to one side of the question of whether a foetus or a baby's claim to life is so great that it trumps a woman's claims on her own body. You can grant everything Brock says about bright lines for capabilities, and still think that because birth is such an important bright line for *female autonomy* that it's still the right tipping point between those competing values.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 7:29 AM
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393/394: I haven't been saying anything that attempts to "refute the position that early abortion is morally unproblematic". I've been trying to explain why I would favor different legal penalities for people who kill their one-year-olds vs. their four-year-olds (for several reasons, including controversially the thought that it's a different kind of wrong). Which seemed at the time relevent to the thread, which was about "how can these protestors think abortion is 'murder' but not want to send all the women to jail"? But I'm sorry I brought it up.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 7:42 AM
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Further to 397, in fact I took pains in 354 to make clear that I understand there's a perfectly consistent pro-choice/anti-infanticide position even within the framework I was setting up (and one that several people in this thread seem to have adopted):

One could certainly make a decent argument that the first of those is the milstone we in fact care about, but we don't want to outlaw abortions immediately after that event in part because we don't know when that event occurs (and it's not a "moment") and partly due to the aforementioned countervailing considerations. Fine.

Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 7:48 AM
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Invisible Adjunct, as per usual, has the most thoughtful response to the clip that started this thread. Some people with whom we disagree are moral idiots, but most are not, and are just inarticulate.

Ahem: baa, ogged, I. Adjunct, etc. I'm still waiting for some kind of defense of this statement beyond the mere assertion of it. What would these inarticulate people say if given the proper amount of time to formulate a response? Again: If abortion is murder, what is the appropriate legal response to a woman who solicits an abortion?

If I'm trolling here, it's really not intentional. I think I'm making an obvious, central point, and yet nobody seems to be willing to acknowledge the existence of this point, much less respond to it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 7:54 AM
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396: Some people with whom we disagree are moral idiots, but most are not, and are just inarticulate.

Actually, I find this weak "defense" of the protesters ridiculous, and not an example of "thoughtfulness" at all. Someone who goes out to protest against McDonald's with no idea what specifically they're protesting against is revealing some pretty specific ideological blinders, or idiocy, or in some cases both. I doubt you'd mince around saying so, would you? And if not, why on Earth should we do so in this case?

it's more than a bit depressing to see Brock being called out as a troll on this thread.

Yeah, who would have thought dragging infanticide into the debate would be inflammatory? That was completely unforseeable.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 7:54 AM
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399: I think given the proper amount of time, the most common talking-point would probably be that the women are victims of medical and feminist propaganda, and that it's the doctors who deserve to be punished. That's the movement's tacit position, anyway.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:01 AM
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401 is right. It's tragic how the abortion mills use their propaganda to force women to do something that they'll regret for the rest of their life, and get breast cancer. We need more federal money for facilities in which pregnant women are fooled into thinking they'll receive care and guidance but instead get shown videos full of fetus limbs.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:06 AM
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Sir Kraab, I'm curious about what the practical import is of your second link (in 225) to the states with an unenforceable, near-total ban on abortions. I note that Vermont and Massachusetts are on that list. I don't know how many of those bans would continue to exist if Roe were overturned.

Until quite recently Massachusetts had a 17th-century law requiring some legal officer to arrest any American Indian who entered the city of Boston. It was never (in recent memory, that is) enforced, obviously, because it was clearly unconstitutional. And because it was clearly unconstitutional, nobody ever bothered to repeal it. I'm pretty sure that it was recently repealed, because some American Indians wanted to have a convention in Boston, and they didn't want to come to Boston as long as that law was on the books.

I'm pretty sure that Massachusetts would change its abortion laws as soon as they became constitutional. Massachusetts was never liberal about abortion in the way that New York was, but it is solidly pro-choice now. The same can not be said of Alabama, of course.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:07 AM
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And if you think that you couldn't get people to say dumb things if you pushed jane-protester on the "are you for abortion?" question, I think you're being too sanguine about the folks on our side.

I feel compelled to add something here. Unlike the question asked of the anti-abortion nuts in the youtube clip, the "are you for abortion" question has been chewed over at length by "jane-protester" types. Where does ogged think the term "pro-choice" came from?

And, as I mentioned previously, it's a perfectly morally respectable - and very ordinary - position to personally oppose abortion while supporting choice.

But I want to be clear that this isn't my view. I'm apparently the sort of person that ogged is warning about when he says us pro-choicers would say "dumb things." I'm for abortion. I think the world would be a worse place if the practice were eliminated. Not only should women have the right to abortion, but women are often right to choose abortion.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:10 AM
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I think given the proper amount of time, the most common talking-point would probably be that the women are victims of medical and feminist propaganda, and that it's the doctors who deserve to be punished.

Okay, let's run with that. I realize you're labelling this a "talking point," but is anyone else prepared to label this the morally sophisticated position that those poor ambushed souls on youtube were unable to articulate? Or is there some other answer out there?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:12 AM
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404.1: There are genuinely dumb memes to be had within the pro-choice movement, though I don't think it would be easy to pull a "gotcha" routine similar to what was done here -- e.g. I don't think an interviewer who ran around asking people "if abortion should be legal, is it okay to kill one-month-olds?" would run into much inarticulate-ness. However, it would probably be possible to bait someone, eventually, into comparing abortion to having a cancer or a parasite removed; that's pretty common.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:19 AM
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399: The thing is, it's a reasonable question, but we don't have a lot of pro-lifers to answer it. We have Brock, who has answered (in a manner that gave rise to a certain amount of heated discussion) and maybe baa, whose opinions in this regard I can't remember. Anyone else (I think. No intent to silence any other prolifers I haven't noticed participating) piping up would be speculating on behalf of people they disagree with, and there are good reasons that people are reluctant to do that enthusiastically.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:37 AM
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However, it would probably be possible to bait someone, eventually, into comparing abortion to having a cancer or a parasite removed; that's pretty common.

You're right that pro-abortion types, like anyone else on the planet, can be goaded into inarticulate responses, but I still await evidence that the youtube folks were inarticulate, as opposed to advocating a position that is intrinsically moronic.

Your comment, though, brings me even closer to the realization that I am ogged's archetypical Sayer of Dumb Things. It seems entirely appropriate to me that some women would find some abortions to be the rough equivalent of having a cancer or parasite removed.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:39 AM
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408: But you'd have more sense than to say that to someone who you knew disagreed with you unless you were intentionally trying to piss them off, right? It trips a switch in your head as "this kind of metaphor is probably going to be a hotbutton," right?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:49 AM
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407: LB: In fact, DS took a stab at it, and anybody else can do so. baa or I Adjunct or ogged may not agree with the morally sophisticated answer, but each has asserted without evidence that such an answer exists.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:49 AM
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And, way back in the beginning of the thread, I also took a stab at it, along the lines of "They really do think it's very wrong, they don't actually think it's the same thing as murder, so not wanting it to be punished as such isn't inconsistent." But I don't, and ogged and IA and baa don't, actually know what the specific people interviewed think, and a belief that they aren't just morons and do have some defensible belief, even if not fully articulated, doesn't have to be grounded in certainty as to what that belief is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:53 AM
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It trips a switch in your head as "this kind of metaphor is probably going to be a hotbutton," right?

Yes, I do get that. When I labelled myself ogged's Sayer of Dumb Things, I wasn't being ironic. I'm pretty sure you (and DS) are highlighting here what ogged meant when he mentioned Dumb Things.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:53 AM
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Argh, I want to defend Brock here, because it seems people are misinterpreting him.

He's prolife. However, on an almost unrelated topic, for reasons he has not articulated very much in this thread, he thinks jail is an unnecessary and inappropriate punishment for some things. He seems to be taking the view that jail time is/should be about (a) reform, or (b) keeping the criminal away from other potential victims. If so, giving infanticide the same jail sentence as murder is unnecessary because the kind of person who would kill their own infant is not likely to be shown the error of their ways by spending decades in jail, in regards to (a), and not a danger to others except (presumably their own other kids) in regards to (b).

He drew the legal distinction at two years because that is when he thought the mental development of the kid (and/or the relationship with the parent?) made it more like murder than infanticide-by-shaking-or-something-while-in-a-mentally-disturbed-state. He is saying that abortion, infanticide and murder are equally bad morally, but he thinks that legally the penalty for infanticide and murder should not be the same, because of a nonconventional view (not a crazy view, just one not currently reflected by society) about what jail is for.

Therefore, it may also be legitimate to favor a lesser punishment, or no punishment, for women who have abortions, even if abortion is morally as bad as murder. This requires not necessarily a dim view of the agency of women, but a view very different from the status quo about the role of legal punishments.

Maybe this is just restating 397; I decided to post after I saw 393. If so, consider me pwned by preview. OTOH, maybe I'm wrong. OTOOH, it seems to me there's a genuine confusion about what Brock is saying, so I felt I should try to summarize and rephrase the sticking point even if he has made another recent effort.

(My personal belief, for what it's worth, is that abortion should be legal in all three trimesters, and I haven't finished watching the video but I agree with politicalfootball et al. that the people in it would not make an argument as consistent or rational as Brock's.)


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:54 AM
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I think the heat directed at Brock is coming from comments like his 323: This is ridiculous LB--just google, it's [which I understood to mean a well accepted basis for his moral distinction between three-year-olds and one-year-olds] there. I don't have time now. Perhaps someone better versed in this field can jump in and explain.

Now, I'm not offended or mad at Brock, but that sort of thing, where you make a wild, bizarre claim and assert that it's so obviously true that someone asking you to justify it is being unreasonable, is going to get the conversation excited. And whenever a kid develops the selfconsciousness to take a surreptitiously applied Post-it note off their head when they see it in a mirror, a claim that killing a one year old is for that reason morally a lesser crime than killing a three year old is a wild, bizarre claim.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:10 AM
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Further, I think you've described his thinking on abortion and why women who get abortions shouldn't be punished pretty accurately, and that the 'morally important developmental stage at 2' bit is fairly peripheral to that argument. But people (including me) were engaging him from pretty early in the thread on the basis of a similar understanding of his main point, just separately arguing about the two-year-old bit as freaky. So I don't think he's been terribly misunderstood.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:15 AM
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406: The key distinction here is that the anti-abortion protesters are advocating a major change in the status quo, one that would have huge implications for any woman who might ever become pregnant, any man who might ever make a woman pregnant, any person who has a relative, friend, or acquaintance who might ever become pregnant--in short, outlawing abortion would affect just about everybody. Given that they are proposing something so significant, it is not too much to expect that they might have considered the implications of what they are advocating, that they might have pondered what, specifically, their ideal world would look like, and how that system would work.

Those on the pro-choice side, on the other hand, are in support of the status quo. "I like things the way they are" is a valid argument in support of the pro-choice position. One shouldn't have to make a strenuous argument in favor of maintaining rights that people currently have, but someone would have to make a pretty damn impressive and complete argument to demonstrate that taking away those rights would be in the best interests of society.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:15 AM
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[which I understood to mean a well accepted basis for his moral distinction between three-year-olds and one-year-olds]

Incorrect understanding--all I meant was the development of an awareness of an indepedant self. Of course that's not a "well accepted" basis for any sort of moral distinction, or we'd presumably allow infancticide. But I apologize for the unecessary and inappropriate sharp tone. It wasn't really directed at you so much as it was the result of my frustration over wasting a few minutes fruitlessly searching for something I've read before in a thousand different places, while being under the gun at work.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:17 AM
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Really not a problem -- all I meant is that I'm pretty sure that responding to that is where the 'troll' comments came from. If there's no hard feelings on your side, no hard feelings here.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:21 AM
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they don't actually think it's the same thing as murder

Well, pretty much the only point of the video was to highlight the ludicrous nature of equating abortion with murder. So, yes, if the demonstrators don't really think abortion is murder, their thinking isn't intrinsically ludicrous. Just their words.

But I gotta say, I have to take these folks at their word when they say what they believe - they've spent a lot of time thinking it over, and I think they have to be considered more reliable witnesses regarding their beliefs than you are. Seriously, do you really suppose that maybe some of these people went home and said, "Gosh, I've been demonstrating against abortion for years, but the obvious moral inconsistency in my position never occurred to me. I'm going to stop calling abortion 'murder' right away" ?



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:21 AM
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But people (including me) were engaging him from pretty early in the thread on the basis of a similar understanding of his main point, just separately arguing about the two-year-old bit as freaky

393 and 394 and other various comments read as if you thought my main point was that abortion is immoral, or something like that. And implied that I was arguing around that point dishonestly or in bad faith.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:24 AM
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Fuck, and I thought Emerson and I had killed this thread with our "flautist" b.s. Evidently however the thread had reached viability.

PF: The violinist argument is not about whether you should help the violinist - it's abaout whether you should be compelled to help the violinist.

Really? I mean, is that the only question about abortion -- whether it should be legally prohibited, as opposed to whether it's the right thing to do?


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:25 AM
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419: I'm not sure it's all that different that some anti-war protestors who think that warfare is murder. (Which I don't actually think is an unreasonable position, so long as "murder" is meant more rhetorically than legally -- just as it is for most anti-abortion protestors, as the video demonstrates.) Do you think such an anti-war protestor is committed to thinking all soldiers should be imprisoned?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:29 AM
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whether it should be legally prohibited, as opposed to whether it's the right thing to do?

You can decide for yourself what's right, that's the whole point.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:30 AM
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421: that's not the only question about abortion but I think that is the only question that the violinist argument is meant to help illuminate.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:31 AM
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I'm pretty sure that responding to that is where the 'troll' comments came from.

So 65 and 102 were just offered in anticipation of 323?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:34 AM
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420: Erm, here's where I confess having thought moderately ill of you, having misinterpreted your inability to keep up with yesterday's conversation due to work pressure. The thing is, figuring that Cyrus's summary of your thinking (which was essentially my understanding of your thinking) was accurate, I had the impression that you were sidestepping a number of attempts to engage on that basis, and coming back insistently to the importance of the 2 year old developmental stage.

Which left me theorizing about what your point might possibly have been (and is my 394 that far off from what you think, not to make any claims about your tactics? Because I think, and don't mean it to be offensive, that it's consistent with what you've said. If I'm wrong, please correct me.) But if it's just that the argument got confused, I apologize for thinking ill of you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:35 AM
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65 was a response to 44 and 47, already baldly making the same weird claim about the moral status of toddlers. And the same with 102.

It's not that it was that crazy offensive a thing to say, but when you say something that flat-out strange, and go on with the conversation without apparently recognizing how strange you're being, people are going to use the word troll.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:39 AM
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Or, in other words, the 'that' in my 418 was meant to refer, not solely to your 323, but generally to your apparent failure to acknowledge the oddness of the position you were taking with respect to toddlers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:41 AM
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Thoughtful imagined response: "Abortion is murder. We believe that. But we're not heartless, and we know that young women often find themselves in tough situations, and they live in a culture of death that tells them to value pleasure above all else and that if they get pregnant, there's an easy fix. She may not understand that abortion is murder in a world where we can buy abortion pills over the counter; that's why we're out here protesting. We need to save the women from this culture that has told her that the most precious thing in the world is a parasite.

So, no, I don't believe she should go to jail. But that doesn't make abortion anything less than killing an innocent human being. It just means that we can forgive women and recognize that they were overwhelmed by a culture of hedonism.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:43 AM
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I'm emailing 429 to NARAL right now.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:45 AM
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Oops, I meant NRLC. Sort of killed the joke.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:45 AM
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Do you think such an anti-war protestor is committed to thinking all soldiers should be imprisoned?

I seem to have some recollection of an unfogged policy related to analogies. Hmm.

Anyway, if an anti-war protester said that war should be made illegal because killing by a soldier is murder, yes, I would expect that protester to take the position that soldiers should be prosecuted and imprisoned for breaking that law. Isn't this obvious?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:49 AM
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429: Gosh, that's pretty good.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:57 AM
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Politicalfootball, I don't know what to say except that I think your expectation would not be fulfilled. I don't think that most people who hold placards (or post blogs) about the number of Iraqi civilians "murdered" by our military would advocate mass imprisonment of the soldiers. Maybe I'm wrong.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:57 AM
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429: "thoughtful" s/b "self-serving" or "opportunistic" or "evasive".

Murder is murder. Someone who commissions the murder of an adult is guilty of murder.

The blanket forgiveness of all women is implausible. Not all women can be assumed to be helpless, mindless victims of circumstance. Case by case, maybe some of them. But that kind of thing usually is allowed for in the sentencing stage, in the plea-bargaining stage, or in the determination of competency to stand trial.

It also strikes me as strictly political stancing to keep people from getting excited, because a lot of the anti-abortionists can be pretty viciously judgmental about loose women and welfare mothers.

See, I'm a feminist, at least so far as to agree that not all uterus-bearers are mentally incompetent.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:59 AM
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434: Well, yes, because most of the antiwar protesters - unlike the antiabortion protesters - are not asking that the war be made illegal. If, however, they were calling for the war to be made illegal, and it was made illegal, and soldiers continued to fight it anyway, of course these hypothetical protesters would call for the law to be enforced.

If an antiwar protester took the position that an antiabortion protester takes, that protester would be equally ludicrous. But your analogy falls down because antiwar protesters do not, in fact, take that position.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:02 AM
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421: Really? I mean, is that the only question about abortion -- whether it should be legally prohibited, as opposed to whether it's the right thing to do?

Well, legality is not the only argument to have, no, but it's the one that seems by far the most important, and it's the one for which IMO the anti-abortion arguments are weakest.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:18 AM
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Though there is an interesting philosophical question: if we assume for the sake of argument that all uterus-bearers are mentally incompetent, what is the case with someone who has had a hysterectomy? Is the mental incompetence removed with the uterus, or is a separate incompetence-removing operation needed?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:48 AM
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429 is spot on. Cala ought to be running seminars.

The parallel to illegality, war and attitudes to soldiers is imperfect but pretty good, in that I think there probably would be a fair number of people who protest the war but haven't really thought through these sorts of problems. If there's a flaw it's that in the soldiers' case the problem is genuinely a lot knottier, in that they're part of a chain of command in a way that women getting abortions aren't.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:49 AM
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There can be real problems involved with prosecuting low-ranking soldiers for war crimes. Many have been forced into virtual slavery and are controlled with the threat of death. The ones doing most of the dirty work are at the very bottom of the totem pole. Franz Fanon's "Wretched of the Earth" has something about this, and I've also read things to this effect coming out of Central America's dirty wars.

Eichmann said "I was only following orders" but he was very high on the totem pole and almost certainly could have demurred without risking his life.

American soldiers aren't slaves, but they're systematically misinformed, if only by Fox News.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:57 AM
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Cala's point has been the message from the anti-choice crowd for some time:

The poor women are tricked or not educated fully about abortion. Clearly, if we educated them, they would understand the horrors of what they do. [insert supersized picture of fetus fingers]

It doesn't make sense to punish someone who does not know better. The women need it explained to them. The doctors are just evil people trying to profit.

I've got the brochures, the death warrants, and the signs to show you if you doubt it.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:57 AM
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Emerson:

Who is getting prosecuted for abuses now? Any Generals? Torture isnt the General's fault. Only the privates.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:59 AM
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That's the problem, Will. Torture is actually systematic in the secret prisons, but the Abu Ghraib stuff was tolerated and probably encouraged.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 11:04 AM
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I'm going to marry Alameida and the two of us are going to have all of you who are tut-tutting about the uncongeniality of her tone BANNED.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 11:09 AM
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There's in general probably very little in the way of torture that isn't either tacitly encouraged or explicitly ordered from the top of the food chain (with the odd private being thrown into the maw of the court-martial process to preserve the appearance of propriety). Of course 440 is pretty much right about the rank and file; in the American instance the threat is reportedly mostly financial (many soldiers signed on because of poverty and genuinely couldn't support their families if their pay were docked). But starker threats are there, too; cf. Pat Tillman.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 11:10 AM
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444: Don't you know women create a negative impression when they get angry? There's a study about it and everything.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 11:12 AM
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there are many abortion opponents who have heard some vague thing about Singer and have concluded that abortion rights supporters all think infanticide is jolly good fun. this is false in almost every single case, and questions about whether we might accept lesser legal penalties for a woman who has denied her pregnancy to herself and then kills her newborn after giving birth alone in NO WAY speaks to the question of whether someone other than a pregnant woman and her doctor should decide on a late-term abortion. this double-jujitsu bullshit in which you seem alternately to shock us with your apparent weakness for killing small children and to pull back the curtain to reveal...that zygotes were people all along!! is fucking pissing me off.

I'm really happy to have Alameida on my team. You other guys can screw off! We spend way too much time allow the anti-choicers to define the terms of the debate.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 11:15 AM
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421: Evidently however the thread had reached viability.

It doesn't have a theory of mind yet, though. We can still kill it.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 11:18 AM
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Slack is banned. And Will better stop hitting on my girlfriend.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 11:18 AM
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And Will better stop hitting on my girlfriend.

So you are the only one who gets to share?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 11:20 AM
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You don't be telling me to screw off, Mr. Man.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 11:21 AM
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I never used the word "off."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 11:30 AM
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Upon reflection, LB, I think our difference of opinion about underlying beliefs is even more extensive than I originally thought.

You look at statements like the ones in the video and suppose that deep down, maybe these peoples' beliefs really are more humane than they let on.

I look at the video people - and especially the people who make somewhat more nuanced statements like Cala's in 429 - and I suppose that, deep down, these people are just trying to cover up their barbaric beliefs, and given the chance would start throwing women in jail.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 11:43 AM
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I haven't actually watched the video. My general belief is that most people haven't thought their opinions through very well, and are kind of mean, but that the content of their opinions isn't a great predictor of how well thought out they are. (IOW, that you can easily find a bunch of people being silly about something doesn't tell you that you couldn't find people being reasonable about the same thing.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 11:51 AM
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453: Me, I finally got around to watching the video, and I think that deep down, they're very anti-intellectual -- hell, anti-thinking -- individuals who seek scapegoats just to avoid dealing with any unpleasant consequences of their beliefs. Cala's 429, and those protesters who said something kinda sorta like it, represent eloquence or preparation, but not much more. (I'll play off Will's 441, since it's more succinct but I can't see much semantic difference): Should the doctors get 20 years to life, then, since they're the eager murderers? Do you know how much money they really make on abortions? Couldn't the "they don't know any better" schtick apply equally well to practically any crime? What is the reason you think women actually get abortions? Why do you think women who get abortions are so stupid?

As I watched the video, I kept kept wondering why the videographer didn't make the connection to murder explicit more often. Maybe it's just armchair quarterbacking or maybe the editing process hid a lot, but far from ambushing them with unfair questions, if anything I thought he was too kind to them.

/PZ

That's not incompatible with either of your interpretations or of LB's interpretation in her own words, for what it's worth, I just think they're kind of beside the point.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 2:31 PM
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Do you know how much money they really make on abortions?

In fact, I do.

Without an anesthesia, the woman pays $285.00.

With anesthesia, the woman pays $335.00.

So, they are getting rich, rich!!!! Because the abortion provider does not really have to security or many costs.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 2:48 PM
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455: Easy enough to spin, really, though I still haven't gotten the bad taste out of my mouth from 429, so I won't do it again.

The protesters can either back off the claim that it's murder but still hold that it's a grave sin that ends a human life, and insist that while they don't think that women are stupid, they think that they're a product of their environment, namely the horrible hedonistics blahdihoho society, and shouldn't be judged harshly for that, and surely liberals can understand that believing that someone is a product of an unfortunate environment and shouldn't be punished doesn't take away their autonomy. Plus, many women receiving abortions are teenagers, and while 'stupid' is probably harsh 'not very good at thinking through the long term consequences of their actions and wanting easy fixes' is probably fair.

And you'll probably get some of them arguing that women should be locked up. I don't think the protesters are right, but I don't think the 'gotcha' moment amounts to all that much. A slogan wasn't meant perfectly literally. I'm sure that's never happened before.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 2:49 PM
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The idea of having an abortion without at least a local anesthetic makes my cervix ache.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 2:51 PM
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I can't believe it's offered without anesthetic.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 2:53 PM
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I think the gotcha moment's completely relevant. If abortion's illegal, then women who have abortions are criminals. Whether or not you think they should go to jail, the fact that that isn't something people think through--especially people who go out and *act* on their political beliefs--is relevant.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 2:53 PM
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459: It's cheaper that way. And anesthetic isn't, strictly speaking, *necessary*.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 2:54 PM
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I can't believe it's offered without anesthetic.

Some women birth babies without drugs. Crazy.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 2:58 PM
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459: When I got one, I found out at the last minute that local wasn't an option; the place offered general, or none. With those as the options, I went for none, and while it was an uncomfortable minute and a half, I think I was better off than I would have been recovering from a general.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 2:58 PM
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462: Did that too. Not a masochist. Just edgy about unnecessary medical interventions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 2:59 PM
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460: The pro-life movement has gone on and on about pro-choice rhetoric about babies as parasites for years. They think babies -- babies! cute widdle babies! are parasites. Clearly, they can't mean it, or they would desire mandatory abortion and immunization against these parasites. Haven't they thought it through? Haven't they realized if people believed them the HUMAN RACE would end?

Pointing this out has not, to my knowledge, led to the pro-choice movement vanishing in puff of logic. Most people don't think through their beliefs.

It's telling, in the pro-life case, because it shows that most likely they don't think it's really murder, just something very serious, and that they don't trust women to always make the right decision. You find the latter to be a real gotcha; I, as noted before, am skeptical because I think that trusting people to always make the right decision for themselves is not generally a popular belief.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:01 PM
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462: Little different situation. Birth, among other things, generates a shitload of endorphins and adrenalin and other pain-masking goodies. It also opens up your cervix to maximum size.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:01 PM
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465: The parasite thing's a false something or other. A fetus *is* parasitic on its mother. A baby isn't, necessarily. And there's no logical inconsistentcy in saying that a fetus is parasitic and that nonetheless women want to have babies and are willing to use their bodies to do so.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:04 PM
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(I think technically something has to be unrelated to be a parasite. And pathogenic. And self-replicating. DO YOU BELIEVE BABIES ARE INFECTIONS?? etc.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:10 PM
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Bitch:

That is why you use laminaria.

Birth lasts a lot longer than an abortion.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:14 PM
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Ah, okay. Well, it's *parasitic*, then. And no, babies aren't infections, but a fetus is parasitic. And there are women whose bodies will reject the thing, which can create all sorts of problems. RH factors and all, y'know.

I just don't find the pro-life anti-parasite argument particularly flummoxing.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:17 PM
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Perhaps abortions without anesthesia could be the new compromise position.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:18 PM
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469: I realize that one uses laminaria and that abortion's quicker than birth. I also realize that the latter is, however difficult and painful, usually a happy event and that the former is, however easy and skillfully performed, usually associated with some stress.

Now, I've had 24 hours of unmedicated labor, and I haven't had an abortion. I have had brief gynecological procedures that I found extremely uncomfortable, though less painful than birth. And I've had menstrual cramps severe enough that I wanted to die. My point is that psychology matters, and *yes* I know why abortions are offered sans anesthetic, I'm just saying it fucking sucks to have to have one without. IMHO.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:20 PM
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And I am willing to bet they don't find the 'but they said it's murder!' objection particularly flummoxing. Well, it's *killing an innocent*, then. And no, it doesn't meet the legal definition of murder, but it still takes a life.

I find it interesting that more weren't willing to bite the bullet, but like IA, I'm not sure how articulate people are about their beliefs generally.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:20 PM
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Emerson's idea is perfectly consistent with the Supreme Court's most recent decision. "Who cares about putting the women at greater risk?"""

Actually, they want to give anesthesia to the fetus now.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:20 PM
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472 footnote: Actually not unmedicated, b/c it was induced. 24 hours of unanesthetized labor.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:21 PM
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All I know is that if you're yanking stuff out through my undilated cervix, you better gimme some drugs.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:22 PM
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473: It isn't the murder thing I'm pointing to: it's the problem of making abortion *illegal* without wanting to say that a woman who has one is a criminal.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:23 PM
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All the abortion without anesthesia sounds crappy comments: Abortion (at least early term) with anesthesia usually = a "cervical block" which means NEEDLES INJECTED IN TO THE FLESHY PART OF YOUR CERVIX. I cannot imagine that just being dilated without the NEEDLES INJECTED IN TO THE FLESHY PART OF YOUR CERVIX is much less pleasant. Okbyedonewithcervixtalk.


Posted by: Violet G. Beekeeper | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:24 PM
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476: Or even partially dilated with seaweed. Not to mention *scraping the inside of my uterus* jesuschristouch.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:25 PM
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An injection into a sensitive area is more scary than having someone prod it with blunt tools? Do you also want your teeth worked on without novocaine?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:26 PM
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480:

I'd rather have my teeth worked on without novocaine than get another injection in my cervix, I'll tell ya that.


Posted by: Violet G. Beekeeper | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:31 PM
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NOBODY TOUCH MY CERVIX EVER.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:33 PM
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Timely:

Dr. George Tiller, one of the few late-term abortion providers in the US, pleaded not guilty last Friday to 19 misdemeanor charges brought against him by the state of Kansas. The current charges against Dr. Tiller revolve around a Kansas law which requires that two legally and financially uninvolved physicians sign off on any late-term abortion procedure.

Via Feministing.

What the fuck is the matter with Kansas?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:36 PM
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So sensitive about your cervix. Jeez. Just let the men decide what medical procedures should be available to you.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:36 PM
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482: So you're saying that either shivbunny doesn't read the comments, or he's not insecure at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:47 PM
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So you're saying that either shivbunny doesn't read the comments, or he's not insecure at all.

I'm glad that someone thinks like I do.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:50 PM
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After all, it is a blog about cock jokes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:55 PM
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He has nothing to be insecure about. But everyone should be kind to cervixes.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:58 PM
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It is? I guess I really should read the archives one of these days. Naaaaa/


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 3:58 PM
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And I am willing to bet they don't find the 'but they said it's murder!' objection particularly flummoxing. Well, it's *killing an innocent*, then. And no, it doesn't meet the legal definition of murder, but it still takes a life.

I can't avoid feeling that people here have never actually *talked* to someone who opposes abortion. Many, many of these people (most? I think so) equate abortion explicitly with murder, and don't back down when confronted with the contradictions. (Just as happened in the video.)

And why should they back down? The intentional taking of a human life is murder. If you remove that rationale, you remove many peoples' entire reason for opposing abortion.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 4:16 PM
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And why should they back down? The intentional taking of a human life is murder. If you remove that rationale, you remove many peoples' entire reason for opposing abortion.

I do not really understand why they arent more aggressive if they believe it is murder of a human life.

If people were getting killed in a clinic, why would you stand passively outside a clinic?

It is one thing to ignore Rwanda happening thousands of miles away. It is entirely different to ignore the murder of 20 or 30 humans in a building that you are standing outside of.

Admit that a fetus is not the same as a human life.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 4:21 PM
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Wow. So I just caught up with all the comments, and I have the same reaction I had when Jill from Feministe wrote about it: IA/Cala/et al.'s reconstructed rejoinder is entirely reasonable, and this isn't any sort of gotcha at all. [Assuming one accepts the premises, which are crazy, etc.; I don't think fetuses have any rights.]

"Murder" just isn't as specific a concept as some are making it out to be. Maybe my linguistic intuitions are off, but to my ear there's just nothing incorrect with using the term to refer to any killing of a human where the immorality is at least as great as in the paradigm cases. The fact that they consider abortion to be such a dreadful killing in no way implies that they must deny that, *obviously*, it's distinct from poisoning someone for insurance money in really crucial ways.

Pretty much *every sort* of consideration we apply generally when considering the level of punishment pushes towards lenience here. And at the purely moral level of desert, the evil of the act is just not going to translate well into culpability or blame, because the latter *needs* to be tuned to the reasonableness of beliefs, &c; the 'culture of death' argument. And even pro-lifers can recognize in the violinist argument the very real autonomy rights that are being overridden, and conclude from this that it will often require extraordinary moral character to do the (objectively, always) right thing.

And: while seeing the law as a suitable vehicle for expressing the moral commitments of the community may not be a particularly liberal view, it's a *really, really* common one with a long history, and drawing a line to distinguish this sort of moralism from valid harms isn't as easy as Mill makes it look.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 4:28 PM
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I absolutely love the rhetorical move that claims that 'You must have never known anyone who protests at abortion clinics/anyone who is working class/any lawyers because you disagree with my opinion." In fact, I love it so much I'm just unable to type out of sheer glee.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 4:33 PM
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I do not really understand why they arent more aggressive if they believe it is murder of a human life.

Again, I think these folks are deeply wrong about their moral theories, but it's *really easy* to come up with an answer here: the ends don't justify the means! I didn't open a bible until college, but even I could find something Jesus-related about how using force isn't always the right way to deal with immorality. They may be hypocrites for not actually living a 'culture of life,' but there's a pretty well-worked out theory there.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 4:33 PM
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493: Cala wins all the prizes today.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 4:39 PM
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I absolutely love the rhetorical move that claims that 'You must have never known anyone who protests at abortion clinics/anyone who is working class/any lawyers because you disagree with my opinion." In fact, I love it so much I'm just unable to type out of sheer glee.

Pardon. Let me rephrase: I find it unaccountable that your experience in this is so far removed from mine. I'd be curious, though, to hear about your experiences.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 4:40 PM
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I have a sister who protests at abortion clinics. I grew up in a very pro-life church in a very pro-life town with very pro-life friends. I haven't disavowed all of my friends via political shibboleths like a good purist. And I find the potential response "Well, look, I didn't mean murder like in a courtroom and death row beyond reasonable doubt sense, but in the intentional taking of a human life sense. I don't think women should go to prison for it because so many of them just don't know what they're doing or are panicked. We can call it schmurder if it makes you feel better" quite plausible, just as I find B's theoretical "Well, we didn't mean parasite in the nematode sense, but in the dependent on support by an external organism sense" entirely plausible.

I have found the latter belief, that women don't fully understand what they're doing, especially pervasive. That's why they're protesting. That's why there's giant pictures of little baby fingers. They honestly think that some woman out there is going to be moved by the realization that she's killing her baby to stop. They don't think of women as fully responsible for it. We don't punish people for crimes if we can't show they're fully understanding the consequences. If women knew they were killing their little baby, they wouldn't do it.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 4:48 PM
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We don't punish people for crimes if we can't show they're fully understanding the consequences.

I'm absolutely not disagreeing with you in terms of describing what's going in the heads of anti-abortion types, I think you're completely right. But boy does this not work as a description of the criminal justice system.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 4:57 PM
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But boy does this not work as a description of the criminal justice system.

Sure, but if you restate it in less categorical terms -- we take into account understanding of the consequences, and level of duress involved, when assigning blame -- it's clearly a key -element- of the criminal law. Saying of a law that it punishes those who were not in a reasonable position to recognize their wrongdoing, and were moreover driven to act as they did by the prospect of real harm, is a devastating charge that, I think, uncontroversially demands some answer.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 5:13 PM
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We don't punish people for crimes if we can't show they're fully understanding the consequences.

Of course we do. In theory, we don't punish people if they are completely unable to understand, or to act on that understanding. But partial knowledge constitutes at least partial culpability anywhere.

Also, I don't get this: Well, look, I didn't mean murder like in a courtroom and death row beyond reasonable doubt sense, but in the intentional taking of a human life sense.

I mean, under what circumstances is the intentional taking of innocent human life not properly thought of as a crime? Your sister really says stuff like this?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 5:17 PM
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I mean, under what circumstances is the intentional taking of innocent human life not properly thought of as a crime?

Just off the top of my head: if it's the unavoidable collateral damage in a just war, subject to all the various restrictions on 'double effect', etc. This isn't insane! It's wrong, but not totally crazy!

What I don't get is why so many are insisting that abortion has to be morally -exactly like- something else, since it's like it in some respects. Well, no. It's pretty sui generis. And abortion important enough and pervasive enough that it's probably a mistake not to take seriously all of the ways in which it isn't like other things.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 5:22 PM
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I haven't asked my sister. But I suspect I'd get a "not murder LITERALLY" as one of a battery of responses along with a lot of 'love the sinner, hate the sin', ' just because we think it's doesn't mean we think incarceration is the best solution', 'women are lied to and told that it's just a parasite', 'I hadn't thought it through but maybe it's not just as serious as murder but is still close enough for government work', 'we have a better chance of rehabilitating the woman if we forgive her and try to help her to do better, 'the woman at most would be guilty of murder for hire if she were informed enough to understand what was going on' and 'I'm tired of your liberal responses trying to prove that you're smarter than me all the time.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 5:32 PM
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Saying of a law that it punishes those who were not in a reasonable position to recognize their wrongdoing, and were moreover driven to act as they did by the prospect of real harm, is a devastating charge that, I think, uncontroversially demands some answer.

Would that it were so.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 5:45 PM
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Glad to see Cala has continued to belabour-no-pun-intended the point that what's going on is an unwillingness to see women as responsible for their action.

The fetus as parasites argument is genuinely ridiculous (sorry, B, and I otherwise welcome our Angry Lesbian Overleaders), because by most definitions a parasite is not just something that's dependent on its host, but is harmful to it (not just potentially, but consistently). Also, your average parasite doesn't offer the prospect of developing into an independent members of your own species, whereas your average fetus does.

It's particularly ridiculous because aside from that basic error, it's not rocket science to note that colloquially "parasite" tends to denote something like a hookworm or a tapeworm, and thus using this rhetoric makes it reaally easy for your opponents to paint pro-choicers as nutcases who think babies are tapeworms. Indeed it's one of the truly dumb pro-choice memes IMO.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 5:53 PM
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because by most definitions a parasite is not just something that's dependent on its host, but is harmful to it (not just potentially, but consistently).

I'm not arguing with 'parasite' being bad rhetoric, but I don't think this is right. Parasites don't have to be harmful. (and really, if something rearranged your internal organs, raised your blood pressure, weakened your abdominal muscles, loosened all of your ligaments, etc., etc., in another context, wouldn't you call it harmful? For a wanted pregnancy, it's worth it, but it seems screwy to deny that pregnancy harms the pregnant woman. She usually recovers mostly, but usually with a lot more residual damage that you'd expect from most illnesses.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:10 PM
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I think, technically speaking, that a parasite is any organism that uses a host of a different species for all or part of its life cycle. There's a narrower definition of the word that limits it to harmful organisms that have cells-with-a-nucleus. (eukaryote?) There aren't any vertebrate parasites. By any non-colloquial definition, a fetus isn't a parasite.

But whether it is bad rhetoric is different from whether it's a gotcha. ("Those liberal women are COMMITTED to the idea that it's a parasite. That's why they abort them! If only they understood it was a baby....." Blah blah.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:15 PM
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Wikipedia notes the vampire fish of Brazil as a vertabrate ecto-parasite. But you're mostly right (and you may be completely right -- I've never heard of the vampire fish of Brazil and am not committed to believing that it exists), I was just pointing out that it's not all that bad an analogy (terrible rhetoric, but a pretty good analogy), mostly falling down on the 'same species' thing rather than anything else.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:20 PM
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I can, actually spell 'vertebrate'. Sometimes, I choose not to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:21 PM
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505: Well, I'm going by Merriam-Webster. Mileage may vary. But in any case, a picture of pregnancy that reduces it to mere parasitism even by a more relaxed definition is playing just as surely into the same trap. Aside from conferring the non-trivial benefit of being able to gestate a contributor to one's own species, pregnancy does not reduce simply to harm for the mother -- or at least I don't know huge numbers of people who'd be willing to dismiss it that starkly except in extreme circumstances.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:24 PM
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Oh, come on. Imagine something that distends your abdomen a foot out in front of you, and then balance it against, maybe, shinier hair. The harm really isn't ambigious. People don't put it in those terms because of the wonderful warm-and-fuzziness of having a *baby* at the end of those nine months, and talking about it would imply that you were holding a grudge. (Which, possible Sally and Newt reading in the future, I'm really not.)

But if you take your interest in the baby out of the equation, and just list the physical effects on the mother, the harm really isn't subtle. How many physical conditions from six years ago are you still walking around with visible scars from?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:32 PM
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507: Note that you didn't go 'my pro-choice worldview is shattered.' Which is my only reason for bringing it up: the larger point that the woman is responsible for the sole support of the developing fetus isn't touched.

My analogies are golden and ogged knows he can't ban me!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:33 PM
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I can also spell "ambiguous".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:34 PM
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Also, can some parent please talk my biological clock into not wanting a baby right now?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:34 PM
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or at least I don't know huge numbers of people who'd be willing to dismiss it that starkly except in extreme circumstances.

Hi, I would. Pregnancy damages the pregnant person, and by far the main tradeoff is that you get a baby.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:35 PM
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Um, how bad a time is it really? But you're not thirty yet, right? Loads of time.

Babies do smell nice, though. I spent the weekend with a very nice set of ten month old twins.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:36 PM
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510: But if you take your interest in the baby out of the equation

That being, I would think, the really big sticking point.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:37 PM
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It's bad because I just got married, my husband doesn't have his greencard, and if we got pregnant with twins I wouldn't make enough to prove to the State department that shivbunny won't become a public burden. And I'm 28 but babies are cuuuuuuuuute.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:38 PM
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What Liz said. It doesn't necessarily get any easier.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:39 PM
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I'm 32 but I need to finish my dissertation and go on the job market and and and arrgh!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:40 PM
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Oops, never mind. Get your husband into the country first. Unless you want to maybe move to Canada and set up an employment agency finding jobs for Unfogged commenters in the Vancouver area or something useful like that.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:40 PM
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Mmm, I could probably do that, but it would be in Alberta, which is like Texas, sans guns mit healthcare.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:56 PM
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Nope, sorry. Not good enough. More ocean, fewer oilmen.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 6:58 PM
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Not go all tourist brochure or anything, Alberta has mountains and lakes aplenty, and ocean in pretty easy reach by like, a days' worth of road trip. You can have all the benefits of Vancouver without the downside of having to live among actual Vancouverites. It's all good.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 7:03 PM
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(To any WC weenies reading: I kid because I love. No friction!)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 7:03 PM
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I like Alberta a lot. You can stand on a glacier and then drive for a bit and go stand on a cactus. It's really damn flat but the people are nice.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 7:04 PM
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BC is also no slouch in the mountains and lakes department. And a day's drive to the ocean is not "pretty easy reach"--the target number is more like 15 minutes or less. Also, Chinese food.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 7:06 PM
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526: Well, can't help you with the 15 minutes to the ocean thing, that's true. Though in terms of Chinese food we're surprisingly competitive.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 7:15 PM
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Actually, I could sort of imagine myself giving up ready access to saltwater if there are good lakes around, but BC is what I know and I like it a lot. Will be there in a week or so, in fact.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 7:17 PM
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I have found the latter belief, that women don't fully understand what they're doing, especially pervasive. That's why they're protesting. That's why there's giant pictures of little baby fingers. They honestly think that some woman out there is going to be moved by the realization that she's killing her baby to stop. They don't think of women as fully responsible for it. We don't punish people for crimes if we can't show they're fully understanding the consequences. If women knew they were killing their little baby, they wouldn't do it.

I agree. I hear this all the time. If only these women knew. ...

The doctors are the ones labeled evil, either as pure evil or as money-hungry. You think there arent a lot better ways to make money?!?!??!

These doctors could be making a lot more money doing something else. Without the death threats. Without their family's pictures on websites. Without nasty brochures placed on cars in their neighborhood.



Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 7:38 PM
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516: DS, that's stupid. We're talking about the effects of pregnancy, not the motivation for undergoing them despite the harm.

Look, come back when someone tells you: "Man, I picked up this weird parasite on vacation. First I was nauseated and incredibly sleepy for three months -- I couldn't keep food down. Then I started swelling up -- it was so bad I had to buy new clothes. My blood pressure went up, and I just kept on swelling -- not just my abdomen, but my arms and legs too. I couldn't sleep; my back went out; and I kept on getting abdominal cramps. Finally, after nine months of this shit, the cramps got worse, and worse, untill they were worse than the worst diarrheia you've ever imagined, and it lasted for hours. Then my genitals exploded." And you find yourself spontaneously reacting "At least it didn't do you any harm."

Honestly, are you even listening to yourself?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 7:50 PM
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530: I'm on my way out the door, but I find this bizarre. Bracketing out the idea of birth itself as a benefit and focusing only on the harmful stresses is a really artificual approach, right? That's why people don't describe birth as their "genitals exploding" in the normal run of things, right? I don't think it's terribly outlandish to say that, and to say that acknowledging that undermines the "parasitism" case. I don't see that I'm being deliberately obtuse or trying to pick a fight with you.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 7:56 PM
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Don't worry about her. LB is just being hormonal.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:01 PM
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You said that a fetus is different from a parasite in that a parasite harms the host. Any analysis of the relationship between a fetus and the pregnant woman that doesn't recognize that the pregnant woman is physically harmed by the relationship is deeply, deeply fucked up. If they want the baby, most people regard the harm as worth it. But that doesn't mean it's not real harm, and in the perfectly reasonable possibility that a pregnant woman doesn't want the baby (we are talking about abortion, after all), it's just harm, no compensation.

Work with me on this -- a disease or parasite that mimicked the physical effects of pregnancy, would be easily recognized as harmful.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:09 PM
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Possibly ogged is right about the analogy ban thing?


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:11 PM
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'm on my way out the door, but I find this bizarre. Bracketing out the idea of birth itself as a benefit and focusing only on the harmful stresses is a really artificual approach, right?

Huh, I don't think so. I sure wish that Snark could be the person to get pregnant instead of me. And while the actual words "my genitals exploded" indeed are probably very uncommon, I've read and heard a bunch of giving-birth stories, and the basic sentiment sounds perfectly within the norm. And if you don't even want a baby, how can you avoid "bracketing it out" as a good? That seems like the most natural thing in the world to me.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:16 PM
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This isn't even an analogy, dude. It's just a normal little jaunt into counterfactual comparison: "Imagine the exact same experience, but caused by something else."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:18 PM
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But we're not arguing about an analogy, we're talking about a core issue in abortion. One core issue is the moral status of the fetus, but the other is what right does a woman have to self-preservation.

And if DS is serious about refusing to recognize pregnancy as inflicting genuine physical harm, usually resulting in permanent damage (again, Sally, Newt, not holding a grudge here. Just making a point) because, I'm not sure, women are obliged to have babies, so the fact that it causes damage is unimportant? women don't mind the injuries, because of their overwhelming desire to reproduce? I don't know what the hell he's thinking -- that's going to explain why someone who agrees with him doesn't understand the that the right to self-defense underlies the right to abortion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:22 PM
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No, not an analogy exactly, but arguing about whether or not a fetus is basically a parasite is a little bit beside the point, and I think LB and DS basically agree on the substance of the issue (although I don't have a clear recollection of DS's past comments, so maybe I'm mistaken).


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:23 PM
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You know, I'm pretty sure he's pro-choice, but if he doesn't understand that what pregnancy and birth do to the body of the mother is real physical harm, he doesn't understand a big part of what makes the issue important.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:25 PM
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537: DS can speak for himself, but I didn't think that was what he was saying. I took him just to be arguing about the semantics, i.e., if you start from the premise that pregnancy = physical change + baby!, "harm" isn't the right word for that package. You're saying that "harm" is the right word for the physical change and that the physical change can reasonably be considered without factoring in baby!, which is true, but I don't think he's arguing with that except as to the semantics.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:29 PM
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Posts crossed, but I 540 to 539 as well as 537.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:30 PM
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Mostly, I think he's just not thinking about the issue. But it's a big, important issue, and not getting why 'parasite' is a meaningful analogy (I'll agree, it's not rhetoric that will convince the pro-life) means that he's not getting the self-defense issues involved.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:39 PM
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Eh, sometimes arguing about semantics is just arguing about semantics. If that's what he's doing. Or maybe I'm just filled with good feelings about his country at the moment and cutting him too much slack. I dunno.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:41 PM
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Oh, I'm not expecting him to come back and apologize: "My god, LB, I totally see that you're right!!" It's an argument about words, and we basically agree about the larger issues.

Mostly, I'm arguing for the record -- a woman who finds herself pregnant has a choice between an abortion, or suffering real, significant, lifelong, physical harm. It's worth it if you want kids, but for an uninvolved person to dismiss that as if the harm to the woman were unimportant is intolerable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:46 PM
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Agreed. Not to pull the "poor, poor men" thing or anything, but it's bad enough when you're just the one trying to track down the damn anesthesiologist at 3 am. And the vivid image of surgical scissors where surgical scissors have no business being hasn't faded much, either.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:50 PM
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Dsquared is quite the tearjerker talking about the lack of tea and comfortable shoes provided to laboring fathers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:53 PM
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DSquared is ever himself. But I do think it's possible to recognize that it's difficult to watch someone you love suffer without equating that difficulty to the actual suffering.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 8:56 PM
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Or perhaps better just to say that having participated in the process to the extent possible for one of my gender, I agree that it sucks.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:02 PM
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537:

the right to self-defense underlies the right to abortion.

I don't think I've ever heard it framed quite this way. Interesting.

That said, the analogy (sorry, it's really not quite just counterfactual) to parasitism is problematic. DaveL gets it right in 540.

But I'm coming to this thread very late, as may be obvious, and off again soon.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:23 PM
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On the whole parasite issue, the relevant question is not whether a fetus meets the technical definition of the word "parasite," but whether, in some significant subset of cases, women experience pregnancy as essentially parasitical.

ms. policticalfootball, who has carried two pregnancies to term, instructs me that this experience is quite like the scene in Alien that culminates in the eponymous critter bursting from the gut of a victim. ms. political football was entirely serious when she said this, and said this many times. This was not a joke, this was an objection to pregnancy stated before, during and after.

ms. politicalfootball correctly accuses me of lacking empathy and imagination, but I have no trouble whatsoever seeing her point on this.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:25 PM
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550: You seem to be giving the people on your side of the argument way more leeway then you are giving the opposing side.

If they say it is murder then they must think it is the same as shooting a person in cold blood. When they say a parasite they don't literally mean a parasite but the effects are kind of the same so don't get bogged down in the actual literal definition of parasite. This just seems like an extension of my enemies are always evil and stupid and my side is full of rainbows and unicorns.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:32 PM
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LB, I'm not sure I can put my finger on it, but I don't think, if I'm reading you correctly, that the only thing that separates a pregnancy from a parasitical condition is the desire for a child. And not to minimize how much pregnancy and delivery can suck (not that I've been through it, but shivbunny has a giant head and if our kids inherit that tendency i am screwed), but surely that can't be right.

We don't regard pregnancy as a disease not only because it gives us cute babies but because it isn't a disease, but a side effect of being a female human that is sexually active. Not that 'natural' is definitive, nor that every woman must have babies or any nonsense like that, but arguing that 'if it were some other condition that ruined your body we'd rightly recognize it as a disease' seems off. I don't want it treated like a disease. I'd have a pre-cursor to a pre-existing condition!

If I went on vacation and then suddenly started having knee pains and my boobs started growing and my skin started spotting, I'd be worried. But that doesn't make puberty a disease.

I don't think this much goes against the overall claim that the woman has to weigh her own health against that of the baby's, or that she's right to do so. But framing it like a disease makes it sound like a woman prone to difficult pregnancies has more of a right to an abortion than one who has easy pregnancies.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:50 PM
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If they say it is murder then they must think it is the same as shooting a person in cold blood.

There are actually those in the pro-life camp who see it pretty exactly like that. And since we're talking semantics, that's really kind of what "murder" means. For less culpable killings, we have lots of varied terms from reckless homicide to manslaughter to wrongful death to self-defense.

And I don't think trying to make the point that a fetus is essentially parasitic is terribly rainbows and unicorns. I mean, I'm pretty ignorant about any biological definitions of parasite. But I think the point that is being expressed, and which it seems a good many people have a hard time really grasping, is that pregnancy has a bigger effect on a woman's body than just getting fat for 9 months and then having to pee alot.

Seriously, however much you want the little critter, however much you feel all sentimental about the stretch marks, there's lasting damage beyond just a few extra baby pounds.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 9:57 PM
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553: I agree that some people on the pro-life side see it exactly that way. They bomb clinics and shoot doctors. I have a feeling there are some pro choice people that see pregnancy as nothing more then a parasite as well. It seemed like pf was being much more critical of people on the pro life side using words in a fuzzy manner then the pro choice side.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:03 PM
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You seem to be giving the people on your side of the argument way more leeway then you are giving the opposing side.

Exactly wrong, as I have stated at tiresome length. But let's try again.

If they say it is murder then they must think it is the same as shooting a person in cold blood.

No. Of course not. And of course I didn't say this. (Hint: use quotes when you attribute something to me, as I do with you.)

If they say abortion is murder, it's because abortion should carry many of the relevant moral consequences of murder (if they are talking about morality) or because it should carry many of the relevant legal consequences of murder (if they are talking about legality).

Involuntary manslaughter, to take a mild example, carries many of the same moral and legal consequences of murder. And yet, the people in the video are saying that abortion, though equivalent to murder, shouldn't carry the penalties of a drunken driving conviction, much less involuntary manslaughter.

When they say a parasite they don't literally mean a parasite but the effects are kind of the same so don't get bogged down in the actual literal definition of parasite.

Well, okay. But I am much stricter with the "parasite" people than I am with the "murder" people.

If the murder people actually think abortion-murder is the moral equivalent of, say, manslaughter or even embezzlement, I'll grant them a smidge of moral consistency. I primarily object only when they say that abortion is simultaneously murder and never a crime for the person who solicits this murder.

The only way I'll cut the parasite people any slack at all is if carrying a fetus is, in many important respects, indistinguishable from (or worse than) carrying a parasite.

This just seems like an extension of my enemies are always evil and stupid and my side is full of rainbows and unicorns.

I've been quite specific and clear on this. I propose that the next time you respond to posts of mine, you actually read them first.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:06 PM
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But framing it like a disease makes it sound like a woman prone to difficult pregnancies has more of a right to an abortion than one who has easy pregnancies.

"Easy pregnancies," are a myth. "Easier," maybe, compared to others. But even the best, most uncomplicated pregnancy just isn't "easy." Lying on the couch eating pizza and watching Scrubs is easy. Pregnancy? Hard work!

But I agree that framing it as a "disease" doesn't sit well. No one (mentally healthy) ever wants a disease. Diseases are nasty and contagious and bad.

Describing a fetus as a parasite doesn't seem inaccurate, based on a few web definitions I skimmed. From Answers.com: "An organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:10 PM
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530 out of context (like in an RSS feed) is incredibly startling. There's a parasite causes your genitals to explode? I'm never going on vacation again.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:15 PM
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Medically, "parasite" doesn't count organisms that are offspring of the same organism.

Anyhow, my only point with bringing up the whole parasite thing was to play around with IA's point. If I were to walk up to a protester with a sign that said 'Stop Parasitical Oppression' and ask her, since she thought that fetuses were parasites, if she would support efforts for mandatory sterilization to prevent this horrible nearly year-long parasitical infection that affects most women over the course of their lives, I doubt anyone would expect her to say yes. And I doubt we'd count it as a 'gotcha' moment if I crowed that she hadn't thought through the implications, ones that would lead to sterilization as the only answer to a pressing public health crisis and surely harping on this will open those pro-choicer's eyes and realize.... blah blah. You get the point.

The 'abortion is murder' sloganeer can either retreat and say that they think it's something very much like a parasite murder even if it's not a legal one; they can stand their ground and say that yes, prison would be consistent but they prefer to be compassionate; they can argue that women are victims and thus not the real criminals.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:19 PM
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If abortion is murder, what is the appropriate legal response to someone who solicits an abortion

If abortion is murder, how should women who solicit abortions be treated by the law?

Again: If abortion is murder, what is the appropriate legal response to a woman who solicits an abortion?

Why should someone who solicits the death of a fetus (or, god help us, an infant) be less morally culpable than the person who actually carries it out?

These seem to me to be all based on the fact that the people using the term murder must be using it in the technical legal definition of murder.

On the whole parasite issue, the relevant question is not whether a fetus meets the technical definition of the word "parasite," but whether, in some significant subset of cases, women experience pregnancy as essentially parasitical.

This seems like you are allowing a much more relaxed non technical definition.



Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:27 PM
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CJB, you're not on the side of rainbows and unicorns? What kind of sick fuck are you?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:27 PM
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If I were to walk up to a protester with a sign that said 'Stop Parasitical Oppression' and ask her, since she thought that fetuses were parasites, if she would support efforts for mandatory sterilization to prevent this horrible nearly year-long parasitical infection that affects most women over the course of their lives, I doubt anyone would expect her to say yes.

Well, that's not nearly the same, though. Even if we are talking parasites like in the form of a tapeworm or something, I would imagine most of us wouldn't support any sort of mandatory treatment. We leave it up to the patient to determine what course of action is in his/her interests.

The 'abortion is murder' sloganeer can either retreat and say that they think it's something very much like a parasite murder even if it's not a legal one; they can stand their ground and say that yes, prison would be consistent but they prefer to be compassionate; they can argue that women are victims and thus not the real criminals.

Here's the really shocking part where I confess that I would probably be pretty sympathetic to something pretty damn close to the rhetoric you just offered. I was essentially "pro-life" at one point and am still somewhat uneasily pro-choice. I do have a very hard time seeing a fetus as anything other than a human life with moral value. I do, in my gut, feel that abortion is a horrible thing.

But I have a great deal of empathy for any woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant -- for whatever reason -- and in need of an abortion. I don't think the fetus has a moral value greater than the potential mother/parasitical hostess and could never condemn any woman who made that choice for her mental and/or physical self-preservation. I can imagine circumstances in which it is a choice I myself would make.

But I guess at that point, I have a hard time seeing it as "compassionate" to harass women at clinics and lobby for prison terms or fines or whatever for doctors who perform the procedure. It seems to me compassion could be better used providing effective education about birth control, providing safe shelters for women with abusive boyfriends/husbands, and so forth -- minimizing abortions by addressing real needs.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:45 PM
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These seem to me to be all based on the fact that the people using the term murder must be using it in the technical legal definition of murder.

Not so. It means that people using the word murder specifically as a legal term should be describing a thing that has something in common with murder as a legal matter.

In context, I was responding to people who were contending that something should legally be "murder" and yet not carry the legal consequences of even burglary or embezzlement. Or illegal parking, for that matter.

With parasitism, I was demanding some pretty precise parallels. And, of course, those parralels exist for many women in a very precise way.

Yet you continue to contend that I was demanding more literalism from the "murder" folks than the "parasite" folks, when the exact opposite was the case.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:49 PM
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In context, I was responding to people who were contending that something should legally be "murder" and yet not carry the legal consequences of even burglary or embezzlement. Or illegal parking, for that matter.

See I don't think that most of pro-life people really think it should be legally murder. They use the word, but I don't think that is legally what they actually want. Now this is an inaccurate use of the word murder I will grant you. I think they do want criminal penalties just not for the mother. I think a lot would support penalties for the provider. I agree that I don't think this makes a lot of sense. In short I agree with Cala in 558.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 10:59 PM
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563 cont.

There is a parallel to be drawn to murder though. They do want it to be illegal, they do think it is the taking of a life, and they do want someone to be punished for it. That someone just isn't the mother. I don't know what they want as punishment, but imprisonment wouldn't surprise me.

And with that I am going to bed. I am just going to chalk up my disagreement with you pf to reader error on my part.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 8-07 11:10 PM
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There's the concept of "a murder but not a crime", which is somewhat relevant. You can admit the killing of a human while acknowledging circumstances of the perpetrator (e.g. serious emotional stress) or victim (e.g. terminally ill) that make it not worth punishing. There's also the concept of decriminalizing drug use, which is also somewhat relevant. You can not like the act and want it not to happen while thinking that imposing a harsh penalty on the perpetrator is going to so much more harm than good as to not be worth it.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 12:49 AM
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There's the concept of "a murder but not a crime", which is somewhat relevant.

Can you name some class of murders for which it is assumed in advance that there was no crime - i.e., if you kill a terminally ill patient, would you expect the law to be written in such a way that prosecution wouldn't be an option? Can you name some class of parking offenses that is treated this way?

This whole vein of conversation is an attempt to come up with some kind of intellectually colorable rationale for regarding abortion as a bad, bad thing under the law, and yet proposing no punishment for the people who initiate this thing. Do you think that goal has been accomplished in this discussion?

(Please note that I'm not asking whether you believe this rationale, but whether you really think that this sort of rationalization is anything other than ludicrous.)

I dunno. It seems perfectly obvious to me that talking points like this are created to shield people from admitting publicly the barbaric consequences of their beliefs.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 5:15 AM
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There's the concept of "a murder but not a crime", which is somewhat relevant.

Okay, maybe being a lawyer has irreparably ruined my ability to relate to the language of "normal" people, but I totally disagree that there's a concept of "murder" that is not a crime. "Murder" is a killing that is criminal. Killing that is not criminal is not called "murder." Am I really just caught up in the legal definition to think this? Do non-lawyers really read the word murder and think, "maybe wrongful, maybe not?"


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 5:27 AM
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Do non-lawyers really read the word murder and think, "maybe wrongful, maybe not?"

I'm with you. I can't think of any case where 'murder but not a crime' would be an appropriate usage.

I can think of cases of murder that might not be immoral, but that's a different question.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 5:37 AM
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Di is correct. Justifiable killings are not called murder. You do not hear Fox "News" reporting that US Soldiers murdered 8 members of the Taliban. They killed them.

The difference between murder and a justifiable killing is not something beyond the grasp of the average joe anti-choicer. An intruder was killed when he broke into the house. You would never hear them say the intruder was murdered by the homeowner.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 6:08 AM
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I'm still where I started this thread -- I don't think it's an effective 'gotcha' because I don't think anti-abortion activists really think abortion is murder, and I don't think they logically have to be morally opposed to it. Again, Brock's a prolifer right here in this thread, and regardless of the toddler weirdness has stated the position with reasonable clarity -- killing something that will develop into a person is wrong, but worthy of lesser punishment, possibly no judicial punishment depending on circumstances, than killing an adult.

Calling it 'murder' if you have beliefs like that, is a metaphor, but not a crazy one, and pushing at someone to admit that 'you don't literally mean it's "murder", really,' isn't going to get a point across to anyone who isn't trying hard to work with you. (Same thing with 'parasite' -- it's a metaphor, because the fetus isn't a member of a different species. But it's a pretty good metaphor, and where it fails isn't on lack of harm to the pregnant woman.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 6:17 AM
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The hard core people are going to be convinced. At best, you make moderates swing slightly your way.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 6:19 AM
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s/b a "never" in there.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 6:19 AM
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Honestly, I think you may be giving hard core activists a bit too much credit. I think they really do think it's murder. And I think making them think that through is helpful and making them shift their word choice even more so.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 6:29 AM
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Get with the talking points Di!

Hard Core anti-choicers don't actually think.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 6:30 AM
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570: LB, I'd argue that reasonable liberals like yourself have been losing the public policy debate in this country for decades, in part because of your willingness to sacrifice clarity for comity, and in part because your desire for comity provides a direct incentive for the nut-jobs to adopt more extreme rhetoric.

People who have no interest in reason aren't going to be persuaded to be reasonable if you, too, don't see any need for them to be. And if we must gear our rhetoric to avoid offending the bad guys, that increases the incentive for extremism from the bad guys - the further into nut-land they travel, the further you follow them.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 7:01 AM
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To clarify, I think a lot of hard core activists do think abortion is murder, and would support imprisoning women who get abortions. Probably several of the people in that video, even. But that's only once laws have been changed--once there are no more abortion clinics around. When it's no longer culturally accepted or viewed as viable or available option. When it socially treated with the same disapproval that killing one's newborn is today. THEN, I think many (most?) pro-life activists would say sure, a women who deliberately seeks out illegal means to kill her unborn baby should be charged with murder.

That's the question that was being asked on the video, but in the context it comes across too much like asking "what should happen to these women who are here at the clinic today?" or "what should happen to your friend from college who had an abortion last week?" That's admittedly not the question that was being asked but that's very likely the sort of thinking that was running through the protestors' minds.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 8:05 AM
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576: I'm sure there's a hard core of people who really think it's murder, but don't the vast majority of prolifers support, like, rape and incest exceptions? Those make no sense for someone who really believes "murder" -- the fetus didn't do anything wrong -- but fit the "Murder's the best metaphor I can come up with, but it's not quite right" pattern.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 8:13 AM
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The vast majority of prolifers aren't out on the picket lines.

Most "hardcore" prolifers I know support rape and incest exceptions as a political compromise that would eliminate most abortions. Among friends, they note, like you, that the fetus didn't do anything wrong.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 8:17 AM
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Further, though, I think one could easily believe that most all abortion is murder but that the trauma of rape or incest should constitute an exculpatory defense.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 8:19 AM
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I guess I'm talking about the prolife mushy middle, not the hard core.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 8:19 AM
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believe that most all abortion is murder

Not sure how that got there...


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 8:20 AM
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579: Yeah, but that would make sense as a defense to illegal abortion, not to allow a non-traumatized doctor to legally perform the abortion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 8:21 AM
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"killing something that will develop into a person is wrong, but worthy of lesser punishment, possibly no judicial punishment depending on circumstances, than killing an adult."

No, they can't say that. Their only choice is to repudiate their slogan and their entire pro-life lifestyle. Because every pro-lifer takes their slogans perfectly literally and the left got all the philosophers so no one's able to argue over there.

Seriously, political football? You really think that something like LB quoted isn't something a person can make sense of?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 8:22 AM
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Agreed. I'm sorry but I don't think I can posit a complete set of perfectly consistent beliefs for the "mushy middle". I suspect they're not entirely homogenous.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 8:24 AM
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584 to 583.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 8:24 AM
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584 should say add "other than those we've already been throwing about in this thread". I was only trying to highlight that I think quite a few prolifers do think really believe the murder rhetoric and would support jail terms, a fact that had been minimized in this thread.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 8:26 AM
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583: Damn it Cala why do you hate rainbows and unicorns?


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 8:27 AM
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dude, Brock thinks you should be able to kill unicorn foals until they are 2 years old. (Brock, I just wanted to say I don't bear any ill will despite the yelling.)


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 8:53 AM
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That's good to hear, alameida. I really wasn't trying to do that evil thing you thought.

It's funny, though, that I sort of go the impression that if I'd said 3 months instead of 2 years, there's have been a lot less shock and horror. People are weird.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 8:57 AM
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Um, yeah. I'd still have disagreed, but I wouldn't have thought you were flipped out insane. Two years is just a really really odd time to draw the line you said you were drawing -- I understand the Postit notes bit, but that doesn't (to me, or I think to most) seem morally important at all next to interacting with something that can talk, and hug you, and make intentional jokes, all of which an eighteenmonth old can do.

If you'd said three months -- there's a third-trimester fetus to neonate category where I'm not entirely sure what I think about the identity/stature of the fetus/baby. I handle that by thinking that once it's born, there's no countervailing interest so reasonable conservatism requires that it be treated as a person, and before it's born, all of the practical factors noted in the discussion of late term abortion above (unlikelihood of whimsical abortion, strong interests of the woman involved) suggest only reasonable medical regulation of abortion. But I wouldn't think you were being wildly out there insane for calling a neonate not quite a full person yet.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 9:11 AM
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590: yeah, I understand all that. "Can talk and hug you an dmake inentional jokes" just all seem like odd criteria for bestowing personhood on a genetically-human developing organism. Significantly more odd, to me, than an ability of that genetically-human developing organism to concieve of itself as an independent, individual entity, a person. But we've been through all that and I don't want to go there again. I realize I'm not in the mainstream here.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 9:20 AM
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Their only choice is to repudiate their slogan and their entire pro-life lifestyle.

On the contrary, pro-lifers could take a much more nuanced approach, and some do. Just not the ones in that video, who, (we all seem to agree), are worth discussing because they represent an important strain of thinking in the movement.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 9:25 AM
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593

Exactly.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 9:28 AM
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594

I'm always drawn to the fire in the fertility clinic example.

Do you save the 30 lives in the freezer or the one doctor?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 9:35 AM
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595

a parasite is not just something that's dependent on its host, but is harmful to it

Which a fetus is.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 9:46 AM
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537: Okay, yeah. Just popping back in to say that of course I wasn't denying that pregnancy involves harmful physical stresses, I was just arguing that because of other factors it doesn't reduce simply to "harm." Sorry I wasn't clearer about that.

OT, you know what's bad for you? Gin. Going away again now...


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 9:49 AM
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Brock's experience, as described in 576 and 578 is pretty much in accord with my own.

We see people here saying that because anti-abortionists hold contradictory beliefs, they are likely to a.) not really hold those beliefs or b.) be potentially willing to reconcile those beliefs in favor of the position we find reasonable. This is not in accord with my experience.

For example, I once had a chat with a good, moderate-minded, thoughtful Catholic pal of mine, in some detail and at some length about abortion. He characterized the current situation as equivalent to the Holocaust (not a particularly unusual belief, in my experience), and yet felt that violence in furtherance of ending this American Holocaust was pretty much always wrong.

I believe holding these two seemingly contradictory beliefs is quite common.

Anyway, I followed with the obvious, Godwin-baiting question to tease out the contradiction: Would the assassination of Hitler by a German have been appropriate as a response to the Holocaust?

He chewed this one over for a bit, made a few false starts, and ultimately reached the conclusion that no, for a German to kill Hitler to impede the Holocaust would have been morally wrong.

When people say they think abortion is murder, as they so often do, I think Brock's approach - believing them - is not only more accurate, but more respectful of their beliefs.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 9-07 10:08 AM
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