Trying to think like a pro-lifer

I’ve just been reading through the comments on this post. Clearly there are lots of people who believe abortion is murder. How can it not be, one commenter asks, if you’re destroying a person with brainwaves and a beating heart?

Well, what if you’re not?

According to Medline Plus, the heart doesn’t start beating until week 4 of gestation. So if a beating heart is the criterion, then some abortions, using this logic, are okay. But since no pro-life group supports contraception, on the off chance that a fertilized egg might be prevented from implanting, clearly they think life begins a little earlier than week 4.

So what’s with the beating heart and brainwaves argument? Is there really some subset of pro-lifers that would be okay with abortions up to week 4 of pregnancy? If not, why use that argument? Why not have a massive educational campaign for early detection of pregnancy so we can abort fetuses before they’re alive? We could prevent millions of murders that way!

The reason, of course, can be found in Justin’s comment: his disgust at middle-schooler’s suggestive dancing is what spurred him to become a pro-lifer. You see, he implies, the only reason for the lascivious behavior of these kids is the knowledge that if a girl gets knocked up, she can easily abort the baby. If only abortion were illegal, our urban youth would be models of decorum, just like they were in the good old days.

But if what we really want to prevent is the lascivious behavior, why not outlaw that directly? Don’t all the pro-lifers argue that we have no right to privacy anyway? We could just implant surveillance devices in every child, and if the central monitoring computer detected them getting too close together, it could administer a painful electric shock. After all, many sexual activities, such as oral or anal sex (not to mention homosexuality), offer no chance of conception. Vast quantities of sexual behavior are going unpunished! Isn’t this the real tragedy?

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38 Responses to Trying to think like a pro-lifer

  1. Mary says:

    “Is there really some subset of pro-lifers that would be okay with abortions up to week 4 of pregnancy?”

    Yeah, I guess I’d say I’m one. I was avoiding getting into my own beliefs on the last thread, but what the hell… Four weeks? Any other point (including birth or conception) is equally arbitrary. Four weeks to one month is a nice period because it gives the woman a chance to find out that she’s pregnant. (“Early detection” is a nice idea, but the home tests aren’t reliable until a day or two before your next period is due.) Any further delay once she knows, seems to me to carry serious moral risks. As this post points out, none of us really knows when “personhood” begins. But I’d like to play it as safe as possible, and not destroy any being who might be a baby.

    But, you know, I’ve more or less stopped eating meat on the off chance that the cows mind being eaten, so maybe I’m too careful about these things. Or maybe I’ve been brainwashed.

    As for those pro-lifers who don’t belong to this subset — it is probably true that these same people tend to be very opposed to lacivious behavior, but as you certainly know, correlation is not causation. Their opposition to lacivious behavior is not necessarily the reason for their opposition to abortion. Both are most likely consequences of their adherence to certain (historically popular) codes of morality.

  2. Michele says:

    Actually, I think the fault rests with all those loose-moraled teachers out there who don’t preach absinence while they’re teaching things like Math, Science and English Literature. And God save the French teachers, they’re the loosest of the bunch. All of that “Bonjour” this and “Merci” that — it’s practically a den of iniquity in those classrooms. One little “je parle français” falling from the lips of a teenage boy and my daughter wouldn’t be able to restrain himself! There ought to be a law!

  3. Michele says:

    Oops — I meant herself. Or maybe I meant that speaking French makes you gay, too.

    (I was going with your whole “thinking like a pro-lifer” thing — how did I do?)

  4. dave says:

    Mary, it would be interesting to take a poll of the pro-life community and see what portion held your views. My understanding of the demographics is that you’ve got about a third of america adamantly pro-life: no abortions, no hint of anything that might “prevent implantation.” A fertilized egg = a complete human, with a full slate of human rights. The next third is in the middle — they “don’t know,” like the post you cite. The final third is just fine with abortions up to the third trimester, at which point they start getting squeamish. Only a radical fringe supports, say, infanticide.

    I think, with a lot of education, we could probably convince the middle third that the first trimester was just fine. And, in fact, I think I’d be willing to accept a compromise where we allowed unconditional abortions up to the end of the first trimester, then abortions at any point thereafter for the health of the mother.

    I suppose what the pro-lifers figure is that their best chance of success is to convince the middle third that really there’s no difference between a fertilized egg and a second-trimester fetus, so we need to ban all abortion.

    Michele, what’s fascinating to me about the “teacher problem” is that the ultimate solution would be “home schooling for all!” But then what to do about those dastardly parents who do support comprehensive sex education? The radical right is reallyl in a bind — on the one hand, they want the government to regulate behavior, but on the other hand, they don’t trust government.

    Maybe it would be better to let religious institutions educate our children. But of course, there are lots of touchy-feely religions that don’t accept the literal truth of the Bible. So really what we need is an expansion of freedom of religion for everyone to choose their church, as long as it’s an Evangelical Christian one.

  5. Deep Thought says:

    I am afraid that you don’t do a good job in this post of thinking like a pro-lifer. Nor of understanding what someone else has written. When you go back and re-read the posting that you link to about the person who became socially conservative after seeing lascivious dancing, you might note that he did *not* become pro-life because of that. He ecame socially conservative and his pro-life stance came later.

    Yes, a number of pro-lifers draw parallels between lascivious actions and abortion, but not in a cause and effect way; they see them both as outgrowths of a disregard for human worth and dignity.

    Here’s a better idea than flailing around within your own misconceptions of how pro-lifers think – ask one. I am more than willing to discuss the details of what I think, how I reached my conclusions, etc.

  6. dave says:

    Okay, Deep Thought —

    What’s your take on the 4 weeks/fetal life question? Do you think brainwaves and a beating heart are the beginning of human life? Would you be willing to allow abortions up to 4 weeks? Why or why not?

    And why does lascivious dancing show a disregard for human worth and dignity? Even if it does, can’t we ban lascivious dancing in middle schools without censoring sex education and restricting access to birth control?

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  8. Deep Thought says:

    My opinion is that once the egg is fertilized, it is a human being – even before implantation. Yes, there are a number of things that can cause a spontaneous miscarriage. But the purposeful abortion of that fertilized egg is the killing of a human.
    The analogy I sometimes use is a man who is standing on the edge of the roof of a tall building who slips, falls, and is hanging on with one hand. If I am below on the ground and he slips and falls, I am an onserver. If I am standing on the roof but terrified the roof will give way or that his weight will pull me over, I may be neglectful, but I am not a murderer. If I walk over and pry his fingers off the roof I am a killer, even if I am certain he would have fallen on his own anyway.
    There are two main reasons that I believe life begins at conception. The first is that at that moment that egg is not only capable of becoming a fully-funtional adult, it is actively changing into an adult. There are things that may get in the way, or prevent it, but that is no different than a toddler dying of influenza, or a teen being killed in a traffic accident – neither action removes their right to live before hand, nor does the possiblity of death reduce reduce the rights of anyone except those not yet born.
    The other is a dual argument and much more selfish: Do some people have a greater right to live than others? and when do rights begin? I believe that a major tenet of any real civilization is that all people are equal in their right to live. A rich man cannot kill the poor for his own benefit, nor a leader the led, nor a father his own children. So I reject the concept of some people being more worthy of life than others; the Nazis may have believed it, but I do not. The second is – when do these rights begin? When we are fully-capable adults? No, that woulf leave out the handicapped, and they have a right to live. And it would leave out teenagers, too. How about, rights begin once I can speak? No, infants and toddlers are out. When I can pick my head up? etc., etc.
    A fetus is totally dependent on its mother – so is a 6 week old infant. So is an autistic child. The mother’s life is impacted by the presence of the fetus. Well, the mother’s life is also impacted by the actions of strangers, taxes, and natural disasters. But none of those give the mother the right to end the lives of others who impact on her life. Why is a fetus different? And since when did the convenience of one person trump the life of another?

  9. Deep Thought says:

    I will wait for your responses to the above post; you may have some questions.

    As far as the simulated sex some call dancing – do you really think that the kids doing that are displaying a high regard for the inherent worth of the other? I hope not. If I were to go up to a female co-worker, stand behind her, and mimic anal sex with her, I would be fired and probably sued. Why? well, sexual harrassment is a crime not because men do it to women, but because it is humiliating and degrading, so disrespectful of the other it is held to cause actual harm. Does that change all that much if she arches her back and mimics it, too? No, she is just participating now.

    such dancing is separate from sex ed and contraception access, I agree.

    As a father I can tell you the issues that many parents have with sex education and access to contraceptions – it is often a direct contradiction of what we are saying. I tell my children that yes, they can wait to have sex. Yes, they should wait to have sex. Then a teacher (authority figure) or a parent at a PTO meeting (also an authority figure) states that ‘kids are going to do it no matter what we tell them’ and makes sure that there are condoms and the pill readily available. So my children are getting the message from their teachers and other parents that they are expected to have sex – just like music, movies, and TV have been telling them, and that all the tools to do so are right here at hand.

    Kids in my state need parental permission to get their *ears pierced* or to go to a *tanning booth*, but can get free condoms at the schools, no questions asked. That seems a little… odd, to me. Tannign beds are controlled because of burns and skin cancer; ear piercings are controlled because of possibility of infection. Sex, however, can lead to STDs, cancer, and a child… but parents are expected to sorta’ hope for the best, I suppose.

  10. dave says:

    “Does that change all that much if she arches her back and mimics it, too? No, she is just participating now.”

    So you’re saying that consensual lascivious dancing is the same thing as sexual harrassment? O–kay…

    Personally, I don’t believe lascivious dancing is appropriate for middle schools or offices. But it’s not sexual harrassment. It’s certainly no reason to ban abortion.

    I also believe that free condoms, along with regulations on tanning beds and ear piercings, are good public health policy. I don’t see a contradiction there. Do you think condoms are what make kids want to have sex? If you don’t want your kids to have sex, you’re going to have to do a lot of monitoring — that’s really the only way to prevent it. You need to get back to the old days of chaperoned dates, that sort of thing. A teenage child is a sex machine, built to reproduce, with a natural instinct to mate. I wouldn’t say we need sex education because “kids will have sex anyway.” What I would say is that sex education isn’t going to make your kid have sex.

    If you want to stop kids from having sex, that’s a separate issue entirely. Stopping kids from having sex isn’t something you can teach in school — it requires dedicated parental involvement. Even then, if it works at all, it only works until they turn 18. Then they’re on their own, and I hope for their sake that they’ve had a good sex education by that point.

    I’m going to address your other comments in a separate blog post.

  11. Deep Thought says:

    Dave, you need to separate dirty dancing and abortion. The guy you quoted above didn’t equate them with each other, nor do I. Let it go.
    THe woman isn’t participating in sexual harrassment, she is participating in degrading behavior. If I slap you, that’s assault. Slapping me back doesn’t make it “not-assault”. Do buy it from me? As Feministe or Pandagon their opinions of the scenario above.
    A man is a killing machine, designed to hunt down and kill prey to provide for his family and tribe. Genetically, he is trained to seek out a mate and, if needed, force himself on her. Is it OK if I kill your dog for dinner and rape your daughter? Hell, no. the essence of civilization is control of impulse and use of reason.Telling kids again and again that they can’t help it, its natural, indulge is anathema to self-control, be it sex, drugs, violence, theft, you name it.
    You missed my point about condoms. Kids need permission to get earring and a fake tan – why don’t they need permission to get condoms? Heck, why is it that a daughter can have life-threatening surgery at 13 and I am not to be informed?

  12. dave says:

    Dave, you need to separate dirty dancing and abortion. The guy you quoted above didn’t equate them with each other, nor do I. Let it go.

    No, you need to let it go. I’m not the one who brought up dirty dancing in the context of the abortion debate. I’m saying if you don’t like dirty dancing, prohibit dirty dancing. Don’t act like it’s some prelude to abortion, or that it’s the equivalent of sexual harrassment. It isn’t.

    Telling kids again and again that they can’t help it, its natural, indulge is anathema to self-control

    This is what you think sex education is? Sex education is explaining what causes babies and STDs, accurately, and acknowledging that yes, most people will eventually have sex, so they should make sure that when that time comes, they have healthy sex. That doesn’t mean people can’t or shouldn’t control themselves. However, you’re naive if you think that telling kids to take “virginity pledges” has any effect on their sexual behavior, other than increasing anal and oral sex.

    And no, I didn’t miss your point about earrings, tanning booths, and condoms.

    They shouldn’t need permission to get condoms because the role of the parent is to make sure their kids don’t have sex when their children are too young. If the parent isn’t doing that job, then what the hell difference does it make whether or not the parent gives permission for them to get condoms? A law restricting access to condoms is only going to ensure that kids with crappy parents have more unprotected sex.

    Heck, why is it that a daughter can have life-threatening surgery at 13 and I am not to be informed?

    Well, for one thing, if you’re the sort of parent that doesn’t know where his 13-year-old daughter is, I’m not sure you’re qualified to make medical decisions on her behalf. I think you know the other arguments, so I won’t bother repeating them for you.

  13. Red 2 says:

    Responses to deep thoughts.

    Okay, once the egg is fertilized it is a human being. But it is completely at the whim of another human being for its survival. I appreciate your reduction ad absurdio but pregnancy is different than post-pregnancy. Now, once the baby is born if you kill it you are killing another human being. And you can make a strong argument that if you kill the child in utero that you are killing another human being, at least when it is against the wishes of the mother. But we rarely criminalize acts against our own bodies. You cannot be prosecuted for suicide. You won’t be punished for taking out a kidney. I doubt you would be prosecuted if you intentionally cut off your hand. I don’t think the complexity of that interrelationship between a mother and child is so easily reduced. A doctor will tell you pregnancy is a disease state. Look up your company maternity leave policy and it will tell you the same. The rights that are competing are not just the baby’s right to life but the mother’s right to her own physical integrity.

    I can use spurrious arguments myself. If you sacrifice a mother’s right to her bodily integrity, does she have a right to conrol herself during her pregnancy. Can she travel freely? Use alcohol, tobacco or drugs? Does she have the right to refuse her child a kidney if he or she requires it? And then, how can we know if women are pregnant. Should we monitor their behavior? If the right to the life of a fertilized egg is completely superior to a right to a woman’s bodiliy integrity shouldn’t we closely monitor their sexual activity?

    Your analogy is intersting. But try this one. Let’s suppose that you grab that man’s hand. You are the only one who can save him. But instead of letting go, you expire or because of fatigue or inability are unable to hold onto his hand. The man dies. How culpable are you?

    Here’s an interesting point for you. You mention that a fetus is no different than a toddler who may be killed by influenza or a traffic accident. And the law is being reshaped to allow parents to refuse to treat dying children based on their own religious preferences. So religion dictates a fetus must be allowed to live. But it also gives you the right to allow your born child to die.

    Do some people have more rights than others? No. And this is precisely the nature of the dilemma between a mother and child in competition. It’s tragic. But to always draw the line one way or another would be equally tragic. The right to bodily integrity is almost indistinguishable from the right to life. What would or could you do if you ceeded control over your body to society, or worse yet, to the state?

    I agree that a civilization must believe that people are equal in their right to live. I just don’t think this solves the issue. And civilization is premised on the idea theat murder is wrong. But abortion is by its nature different than murder. The mens rea is completely different No. 1. There is a special and distinct relationship between the mother and child. Just think if you could prosecute an infant for the murder of its mother in childbirth.

    Simulated sex some call dancing? And some would say all dancing is simulated sex. Others would argue, hey if its simulated, its not sex.

    I don’t understand what inherent worth is. This concept begs the idea that people are more than thinking animals. I don’t know how you can prove that without resort to religious reasoning. Man my job is humiliating and degrading. So is brushing my teeth, but I soldier on. Sexual harassment is a crime because it is unwanted not because it is degrading. You can degrade people all you want at work, typically with low pay, and that’s not illegal. You can also tell them they are a worthless worker. Not illegal. You can also sexually degrade your sex partner all you want and if they are into it, then not illegal.

    Hey teach your kids whatever you want. Hopefully you will get through to them. I hope you do. I hope I get through to my kid. Maybe they will listen to you. But suppose they don’t. Which is worse, having sex or dying? I’ll side with dying. I’d rather have protection available than a kid dying from an STD because they were too stupid to be careful.

    Finally, guys haven’t been killing machines in a long time. There’s a few things left over, instinct mabye, some evolutionary traits, but not much. And somewhere in there I thingk you have a good point. People are biologically programmed to have sex. Marriage on the other hand is not biologially programmed. Pair bonding maybe, but wouldn’t you agree that male behavior over the centuries has demonstrated that we have something of a sex drive that extends our urge to reproduce above and beyond pair bonding? As you point out its not okay to kill my dog and rape my daughter. But if she is of the age to consent, and consents, I’d have a hell of a hard time stopping you from trying to reproduce with her. I don’t know of any laws or action I could take against you other than to physically threaten you, and then I’d be the one in trouble.

    I disagree that the essence of civilization is the control of impulses. Civilization thrives on the reproductive impulse. We only discourage it when it is not granted knowlingly or willingly. Our concept of civilization is based on reason, focused hopefully in our pursuit of justice, but civilization itself is mired in entropy, and illogic much of the time.

    The reason that you are not informed about your child’s abortion is simple. Once they have conceived, they have crossed the last hurdle of adulthood. You are no longer making a decision about your daugther, but now making a decision about your granddaughter, that your child as a parent should make. In most states, once your child is a parent, they are considered an adult under the law. Now if they do carry through with an abortion, then perhaps you can make an argument that they come back under your authority. Punish your child then if you so choose.

  14. Jimm says:

    That person totally got you, Deep Thought.

    I’m an 18 year old student from Canada, and although I feel daunted to post on here in the fear of sounding stupid, I’ll do it anyway.

    First of all, is it not true that human beings have no distinct memory of life until the time that they’re about 3 years old? I’m not saying that memory is a direct measurement of cognitive ability, I’m just saying that, had someone killed me during that time, I wouldn’t have minded. I would have just continued to float on in the who-knows-what of pre-existence. Sometimes I think that might have been easier, but then again, all teenagers do.

    My friend got his girlfriend pregnant, recently, by accident. Being a devout catholic, abortion is (of course) out of the question. That means that until he’s 36 years old, he’s got to provide for a family. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with families in general… But he wanted to DO things with his life, that now he can’t. NOW he’s got to save money, and find a home, and find a way to live, and for the next xx years, do the boring things required by a father. I don’t really think that’s fair, but I guess “pro-life” doesn’t mean “pro-HAVING a life.” Whose life is made better in a case like this? And how will the kid feel if he/she ever finds out he was an “accident?” That they weren’t really wanted in the first place? I don’t know about you, but that would keep me awake a bit at night.

    I don’t really understand this whole argument, anyway. Why do people have to try and force their beliefs on others? I mean, yes, I believe that Pro-Life is a bit nonsensical and approaching cultism, but that’s fine with me. They can be fanatical all they like, as long as they don’t try to impose their unnatural such-and-such on ME. Oh, and by the way? That “lascivious dancing” stuff… that’s ridiculous. I’ve done that, and I’m still a virgin. Of course, I’m ashamed by it. Where were you pro-lifers during high-school? Were you the guy in the back of the classroom that would occasionally jump up and scream out a piece of scripture? That’s creepy as hell. No wonder you didn’t get any.

    So, I guess I’m going to Hell for saying all these things, huh? Yeah right. Notice how the firm believers in God and the Bible are the mean ones? I think it’s because they get big-headed about it. “Oh, since I read the Bible every day, I guess I can switch it around to however I want it, and God will love me all the more!” I guess you missed the line that says something akin to, “Yeah, try that and it’s off to the Pits of the Damned with ye, shrieking all the while!” Well, it doesn’t say EXACTLY that, of course. I for one, don’t want to go to Hell.

  15. Deep Thought says:

    I seem to have been unclear; the culture is telling young children to go ahead and have sex; [arents at PTO meetings reinforce this message, as do many who discuss it as saying it is inevitible – like you, above.

    So, I lose all parental rights if I don’t know everything going on? Then, dave, the requirement for my permission before *tanning* and *ear piercings* make no sense – if I don’t know she’s getting them, well, I suck, right? Of how about this tack – what of she was raped or molested and told her mother would be killed if she told? Now the denial of notification is aiding a felon, right? If rights ‘go away’ if you don’t ‘deserve’ them, then they are “alienable”. Ever smoke a cigarette? You have surrendered your right to life by your careless action, right? Ever speed? Ever walk in a dangerous neighborhood? Ever have a sister dress provocatively?

  16. Deep Thought says:

    Try again. The Jews in Aischwitz were completely at the whim of another human being for survival – did they have no right to live? A 1 week old is completely at the whim of another for survival – do you support the euthanazia of them? A person in a temporary coma after a traffic accident is completley at the whim of another for survival – should they be terminated with impunity? No, no, and no, right?

    Suicide and self-mutilation A) don’t cause the end of the life of another person and B) are the result of serious mental illness. So the analogy fails unless you want to claim women who get abortions are self-destructive. Try again.

    My HMO covers circumcision – is having a foreskin a disease? My HMO covers assisted living – is getting old a disease? Child birth can have medical complications for the mother or child, this does not make it a pathology. And only Western (i.e., English speaking Western) society treats childbirth as a pathology in any way. Very lame attempt, please try again.

    Since when does a “right to bodily integrity” exist and why would it trump the right to live? A woman who gains weight and has limited mobility for 4-6 months has not lost “body integrity”. And since when do the natural consequences of a voluntary act (consequences, I might add, that are very temporary) trump someone else’s life? Let me ask you this – ifthis is the case, shouldn’t you be able to go back and kill a tattoo artist if you cahnged your mind? after all, the changes to your body after a tattoo are far more long lasting than the effects of pregnancy. Try again.

    The analogy discussed a threat to the life of the person not in danger – it in general absolves you of criminal liability. The morals of failing to act in the face of a threat to your own life are more complicated – you may be prudent, or a coward, but its hard to say. And if you die in the attempt, well, you are not morally culpable.

    Laws allowing parents to refuse medical treatment are being rolled back, not expanded. And, in the meanitime, we are discussing morality, not law. Society has, in general, rejected the concept that a family has absolute rights over children. After all, how many children were taken away from abusive parents by HHS last year in, say, Houston? No, the life of minors is to some extent a matter of concern for society and its laws because they are minors, meaning unable to speak for or protect themselves. That’s why parents have rights to know what their children are doing when physically absent from their families.

    Society is not getting the woman pregnant – in the vast majority of cases, the woman’s own voluntary actions are the direct cause for her pregnancy (thus, the exceptions for rape/incest in many abortion laws). As the catholic Church states (and they have the most internally-consistent concept among pro-lifers) if you don’t want to get pregnant *ever* there is only one way to be sure. So, since we are discussing this in general, we will discuss voluntary actions. Pregnancy is unique in that it creates another person with rights. My right not to be bothered does not trump your right to live; my desire for a promotion does not allow me to kill my co-worker. Why would a woman’s right to not be bothered trump a child’s right to live?

    The difference between a child who’s birth resulted in the mother’s death and abortion is so obvious I am stunned I need to point it out; choice. The woman makes a conscious, rational choice to have an abortion. A child cannot choose not to be born. Intent and motivation.

    “Juvenile” means ‘too young to be responsible for their own actions or to make informed, rational decisions”. This doesn’t magically change if you have sex, or are molested, or raped. If so, a 12 year old could get pregnant, tell the judge she wanted to have sex with her uncle, and there would be no crime, right?

    Red, you seem well intentioned, but you need to reason this through longer.

  17. Deep Thought says:

    Your fears may have come true.

    So…. If I kill you in your sleep, is that OK? After all, you won’t feel a thing. An icepick through the eyesocket can erase all memories – after that, you won’t mind at all; is that OK, then? I had amnesia coupled with short-term memory loss for about 3 weeks: that would have been fine, too, right?

    Your friend did not get his girlfriend pregnant “by accident”, he got her pregnant by “having sex” with her. If your friend didn’t know that intercourse can lead to pregnancy, I suspect his girlfriend might have heard a rumor to that effect, somewhere. And if he is too devout a Catholic to get an abortion, WTF is he doing having sex outside of marriage??? “My unmarried girlfriend and I were using condoms every time we had pre-marital sex, but she got pregnant. But I’m Catholic, so abortion is out” is to me (a Catholic with a degree in Theology) one of the lamest things I get to hear.

    And again, if your little friend didn’t want to do all the “boring” things associated with *being* a father, he should have refrained from the fun that is associated with *becoming* a father. You know, I have a friend that liked to drink. One day he had a couple, drove home, and killed a 44 year old mother of 3. He’s in prison. He wanted to DO something with his life, but I guess that’s over. Stupid DUI laws….. No, hold it. He is experiencing the consequences of his actions. He knew about drunk driving and its risks. He took those risks and is now experiencing consequences. Just like that 44 year old woman did, involuntarily.

    Now, I am not associating getting someone pregnant with killing someone while DUI. BUT, you know the law says that the father of a child gets to pay support, right? Why is that? Because his voluntary actions makes him *responsible* for that person’s existence, that’s why. Don’t want the responsibility? Then don’t take the risk, pal.

    I have a nephew that was adopted. he’s grateful to be alive and an accident rather than dead, thanks.

    Jimm, that’s for admitting you feel shame from lascivious dancing. Where does shame come from?

    Jimm, stop projecting. I am a nice guy with many friends. I dated in high school and college, don’t shout scripture. I meet nice, secular people all the time and none of us consig each other to Hell.

    Why do we get involved in “your life”? Well, we don’t and we don’t want to. See, we think pro-choice types are ending the life of children for their own convenience. They aren’t interested in the ‘boring’ life of being parents and not ‘doing anything’ with their lives, so they kill a human being ( an unborn child) to avoid the consequences of their actions. If you want to go off and be a neo-pagan living in sin with 3 women, a transsexual, and a cow… Meh. As long as you are all adults capable of consent, whatever.

    But a child has no voice, has no capability of defending themselves, and they are (we sincerely belive) being murdered en masse. THOSE are the lives we are interested in.

    Oh, and Jimm – on a personal level. I have 5 kids, I will be “providing for a family’ until I am at least 51 years old, not this wimpy 36 stuff. I am saving money, getting a house, etc. And, uh, Jimm? Its great. More fun than you would ever believe. Sure, I don’t have a rolex anymore and I have a minivan and SUV instead of the z-car. But it is still much better. Its not like being buried in a porsche with a rolex on will make me happier, anyway.

  18. Deep Thought says:

    I missed some stuff, sorry.

    So you aren’t convinced men are more than ‘thinking animals’? well, then red – what is the difference between thinking and unthinking? And aren’t animal cruelty laws predicated on the concept that animals can be, yes, degraded? As PETA, they’ll tell you. And if you don’t think you have inherent worth… I am sorry for the life you must have led.

    So you feel badly being degraded at work? I am sorry, but did you know there are workplace harrasment laws? Much of what you describe may be, in fact, illegal. And it is almost certainly immoral.

    red, if my kids learn from me, they won’t get an STD – they will wait until they are in a monogamous marrige and are never at risk.

    Every society with any form of stability has marriage customs/laws. All of them. from Regency-era England to Warring State period China to the neolithic Quecha indians of the Amazon. The majority of social pressures in stable societies is on the control of impulses from violence to sex.

    As for the killing machine business, well – I was in the Army for 8 years and saw combat. We aren’t that far removed, trust me; we just have civilization. Just look where we don’t have civilization….

  19. Red 2 says:

    I agree with the examples that you give for those at the whim of another. And yet I think they are distinguishable as I mentioned above. Only in the case of a mother and child in the womb does one being’s own actions about themselves so directly impact another. We do not have to encroach on the physical, bodily rights of the Nazis, mother of a one year old or doctors treating a coma patient in order to save the lives of these individuals. Well perhaps we have to kill the Nazis to get to the Jews but that involves different issues.

    Suicide and self-mutilation do cause the end of another person’s life if that person is in the womb. And yes, in a way I do think women who get abortions are self-destructive. But I think people have some natural rights to be self-destructive.

    Well with regard to your specific question although having a foreskin is not a disease, it can lead to potentially higher rates of cancer. I don’t know enought about gerantology to know if old age is a disease state, so I will decline to answer. And the complications inherent in childbirth demonstrate that the mother and child have a tenuous physical relationship, one where much is asked of the mother not just at the moment of conception but throughout the pregnancy. I do think that some of the complications of pregnancy are not part of the bargain struck when the mother conceives. A constant reaffirmation of the child is necessarily part of the pregnancy.

    I don’t think you can really dispute a right to bodily integrity. It’s part of liberty isn’t it? What can you do without the right to control your own body. I mean from a utilitarian viewpoint if you are a donor match for bone marrow, shouldn’t we be able to extract it from you everytime someone needs some? Or can you say no. Can you agree once and does that waive your right to say no in the future? You are right that a woman who decides to stay pregnant has not compromised her bodily integrity, quite the opposite. But for a woman who no longer choses to be pregnant, you must force her to remain pregnant against her will in which case you have compromised her ability to control her own body. Does that trump someone’s right to live? I think that is an awful close call.

    And you talk about consequences of a voluntary act. The consequences of having sex are not pregnancy. Pregnancy is a possible consequence of sex not a necessary one. Also I don’t think you can ignore the fact that science has created an avenue where that possiblity can be eliminated.

    If you don’t like your tatoo, try having it removed or cutting it off your skin by hand. If this ends up killing the tattoo artist, then I would say you probably had the right to kill him. If it doesn’t then I would say no.

    As for the analogy, I thought it discussed a person who was in danger (the person dangling from the edge who will fall) and did not discuss a threat to the life of the person not in danger (the person who can act to save or pry lose the person who is about to die – I don’t know what the threat to them is). Perhaps I misunderstood.

    Laws allowing religious freedom are being strengthened. Look up RFRA and RLUIPA. And there is an outcry about the laws allowing parents to refuse medical treatment. If you have a cite you can point me to I will read up on how they are being rolled back. I would recommend Marci Hamilton’s book God and the Gavel and its cases cited for my knowledge on this point.

    Well there are lots of ways to ensure you don’t get pregnant. Not having sex is only one. We could suggest that people remove their reproductive organs or lock people in a room until they are ready to get pregnant, but we don’t do that. Catholic teaching is consistent, but it largely devalues the role of sex for activity other than procreation. I don’t think that is the end of the discussion. Biologically, sex’s primary purpose is for procreation, but it is not limited to that purpose.

    Pregnancy creates a person with rights. Because sex does not necessarily create a pregnancy, I can only assume that sex does not create a person with rights. And my main argument is that although the fetus has rights, when they are directly in competition with the rights of the mother, and the mother’s rights are as significant as a right to her bodily integrity, there can be no brightline rule.

    I don’t think we are talking about a right not to be bothered. That trivializes the situation. I think that displays a contempt for the mother. I don’t share that contempt nor am I contemptuous of the unborn, I recognize that there is no good answer to this problem.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if a child could chose not to be born.

    Well, the law generally recognizes that once you have a child of your own, you have legaly rights attendant. Now whether you are responsible enough or not is a separate issue. I know lots of adults who are not responsible enough to have children. My recollection is that incest is always a crime. Because consent is not considered freely given. “

    So that’s my reasoning. The rights of the mother and child are in conflict. The child depends on the mother for life in a way different than any analogy can capture. It is a unique problem. I would not decide against either the mother or child in every scenario, because to do so would strip them of an inalienable right.

    Sentience is the difference between thinking and unthinking. Awareness of one’s own existence. I have no idea what PETA thinks. But I know some animals are carnivores, some herbivores, and some omnivores. People are omnivores and I think animals are delicious.

    Inherent worth. I would say I have only what worth I ascribe to myself. That worth is not inherent. It is fashioned.

    Well I don’t really feel degraded at work, but I have in the past. None of the examples I gave would be actionable under workplace harassement laws. And telling someone they have no worth to the company and are not a good worker is not illegal. And in some sense if it is true, I don’t believe it is immoral either.

    So you feel badly being degraded at work? I am sorry, but did you know there are workplace harrasment laws? Much of what you describe may be, in fact, illegal. And it is almost certainly immoral.

    Good luck to your kids. I hope for all our sake’s none of our kids get an STD. And if they have a monogomous marriage, you’re right, they won’t be at risk. Unfortunately, you and they will have to completely rely on another human being for half of this bargain.

    I think you would agree that not every society has the same marriage customs, and certainly societies vary in how they treat sexuality. I think the control of impulses which you contemplate are unnecessarily harsh.

    Thanks for serving your country.

  20. Deep Thought says:

    We are down to the knap, now. You acknowledge that the real debate here, the underlying one, is rather simple. the rights of one human versus the rights of another human. A child, who cannot make any choice, against (in the caase) the mother, who can make a choice. The relevant rights are, an innocent human’s right to survive and an innocent human’s right to “bodily integrity” (whatever that is) or, more to the point, right to end another person’s life.

    That is, in the end, the debate. The right of a woman to have an uninterrupted career, or to not be hassled while completing a graduate degree, or to not gain too much wieight, or escape the economic burden of her own actions, is more important that another person’s life.

    Simple, elegant, and exactly what I thought.

    Driving drunk does not lead to accidental deaths inexorably. It is still a natural consequence of DUI. Firing a gun into a school is no guarantee that a child will be shot, but if that occurs, it will be a natural (and not too shocking) occurance. A result does not have to be necessary for it to be the natural result, nor does its improbibility reduce ressponsibility.

    Where do my rights end and another’s begin? You argue that a woman’s right to choose to control her body trumps the life of another; you even argue that if removing a tattoo you no longer like results in the death of the tattoo artist, well – too darn bad.

    And as for “compelling a woman to remain pregnant against her will”, how about the entire “cause a person to become DEAD against their will”? I compell no one to do anything; I wish to prohibit the purposeful murder of another. You know, like, say, with a gun. If you need to kill your mother to inherit her estate, does the prohibition against murder deprive you of your “right to financial integrity”, artifically “limit your choices”? eck, are the laws against murder aimed at potential murderers at all? No, they are aimed at protecting those whose lives are at risk.

    To a pro-life advocate discussing the rights of anyone but the child is misdirection – until the right to life of that child is discussed, its a straw man. And once it is, we had better be talking about someone else’s right to life (as in, without action death will result) or life trumps. There is no freedom without life, right?

  21. Red 2 says:

    There is no freedom without life. Freedom is insignificant if I do not contol my own body, for my body is all that I have. If control of my body means control only at some times, and others control when those times are, then I have no control. To me that means freedom survives after conception until birth, so long as the freedom of the body of the mother is at stake.

    About the tattoo thing. I can’t imagine a scenario where removing a tattoo would kill the tattoo artist.

    I think speaking about the right of a woman to have an uninterrupted career, or to not be hassled while completing a graduate degree, or to not gain too much wieight, or escape the economic burden of her own actions, trivializes the issue. But if it came down to that and a woman did not want to carry a child to term, I believe the consequences of a state enforcing her pregnancy must violate her rights, and essentially, her right to life.

    I can only keep stating there is a difference between the scenario between a mother and child in womb and two people whose internal organs are not connected. Plus, I don’t know that I believe in a right to financial integrity.

    I cannot just discuss the rights of the child. Sure the child has a right to life. Subject to the rights of the mother. If the rights of the child are not subject to the rights of the mother, and the rights of the mother are subject to the child, even if only during pregnancy, then how do we determine the rights of the child? By their guardian, who would be the mother? Or do we involve the father and the guardian ad litem? And then at what costs?

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  23. Deep Thought says:

    Again, without life there is no freedom. You advocate the taking of life (a permanent option) to assuage the temporary loss of control of another person. The loss of control is the natural result of a voluntary action.

    Your argument boils down to one person having their life ended (involuntarily) so that another person can avoid the relatively-trivial temporary results of a voluntary action.

    Is *your* right to life “subject” to the rights of someone else? If so, whom? If not, why not? Either a right to life is inalienable, or it is not. If it is, abortion is simple murder – not even a complex issue. Ifthe right to life is not inalienable, then we need to start worrying about exactly who *else* has their right to life “subject” to something.

    Interesting, isn’t it? Conservatives are more dedicated to human rights than liberals….

  24. Red 2 says:

    Well, I don’t think I advocate taking a life, but I understand it.

    Neither of us is going to convince the other, but clearly we have different values on this issue.

    Although I agree there is something inherently wrong with the solution. I believe the unintended consequences of deciding the matter always in the interests of the child will far outweigh any benefical intent, given the rights at stake.

    And not being hypocritical, I would say while I was in the womb my life was subject to the rights of my mother. The same goes for my child. But I understand your slippery slope argument, I just don’t agree with it.

    And yep, on this issue if you focus solely on the rights of the child, pro-lifers are far more dedicated to human rights. Unfortunately, a vigorous defense of those rights only up until the point of birth may miss the mark a little bit.

  25. Deep Thought says:

    A solution that you feel is ‘inherently wrong’ isn’t a solution.

    Ah, yes – the old “conservatives only care about children until they are born” straw man. What is the biggest charity on Earth? The Catholic Church. What is their primary focus? Children, especially poor and sick children. Most orphanages are run by religious groups, as are most food banks, poverty outreach programs, remote education programs, etc. Conservatives and conservtive groups do more than pay lip service to helping the poor and children, they actually do things about it. I know liberals who volunteer in soup kitchens, and outreach to poor kids in Appalachia, or have worked overseas with the Peace Corps, etc. You know what they all have in common? None of them repeat the ‘conservatives only care until you are born’ nonsense.

  26. Red 2 says:

    Well then there is no solution for me as I consider both solutions inherently wrong.

    I understand many conservative organizations do many wonderful things. My mom ran a food bank so I know a little bit about volunteering at those, every day after school. Heck I even went to Catholic school for 8 years, and dated a priest’s daughter for a while Wrap your head around that one. Catholic priest, by the way. Conservatives and liberals both, I tar with the same brush. We are not doing so hot with the problems we have now.

  27. Deep Thought says:

    Yeah, I know some married priests, myself. Not uncommon in certain parts of the world.

    Abortion was generally condemned by virtually all groups until the eugenics movement really got moving in the 1920’s. The ‘First Wave’ feminists opposed it with almost as much fervor as the Catholic Church. The concept of a “clash of rights” is very, very new – within our lifetimes, really. And as I (open blog flogging) discuss on my own blog, this acceptance of it is virtually doomed to end within 2 or 3 more lifetimes. At most.

  28. Red 2 says:

    Well opposition notwithstanding, abortion and even infantacide have been around forever and will probably stick around in some form or another.

    I have to believe that science is the best bet to end the debate, rather than religion. After all, there are still some Catholics who hold that even spilling your seed on the ground is sinful. Which of course would eliminate even family-planning as a method of birth control.

    And your blog is interesting, I posted on your thought process post already. So flog away.

  29. Deep Thought says:

    Thanks for the comment, red. I appreciate it.

    Guess what? I think that “spilling your seed” is sinful – *I* participate in family planning.

    No barrier methods, no pills, no foams, etc. Its not very difficult. Tracking a woman’s fertility is rather simple; when my wife is fertile and we aren’t ready for kids, we simply abstain.

  30. Jimm says:

    Deep Thought:

    If you’d like to kill me in my sleep, please feel free to attempt to do so. I live in Inwood, Manitoba, Canada, my phone number is (204) 278-3388, call before you decide on “ice-picking” me, so that you know whether I’m home or not, and I can give you directions. I have no fear of this dying nonsense. If it doesn’t hurt, how am I to know? If someone were to kill you in your sleep, how would you know? If you’re worried about death, then you’re not as Christian as you believe you are and need to re-think some things.

    You’re correct in that my good friend has some loose morals. Clearly, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, right? That’s pretty much what you said in your spiel? It’s a shame that you used an irrelevant analogy first off, though. I was going to have some fun with that ;) Although, I guess you win in this category; my friend IS a bloody idiot.

    Yeah, good work with Theology, that’s… that’s great stuff. I hope it gets you a fantastic job as… wait, what’s that degree good for, again? I don’t mean to make fun of you, but you’re just the type of person I’d make fun of. Sorry for that. Well, not really.

    Oh, so your cousin was adopted? Really! I guess that means his parents were unfit to keep him, huh? Or they didn’t want him? I thought you said something about consequences, a bit earlier? I guess that doesn’t hold up so much. So, what you’re saying is that the Pro-Life movement doesn’t care whether children are thrown about between families and such, foster homes, things like that, just as long as they add another number to our ever-growing population. Yeah, I like that state of mind! I thought this was about consequences, and yet you’re not worried at ALL about what happens to the ones that are born into horrible conditions. Praise the Lord!

    Oops, I made a grammatical error – I meant that I’m ashamed of the fact that I’m still a virgin. My bad.

    I’m really glad that you’re a nice guy. It warms my heart to know you had any friends in high school at all. Not that I’m making fun of you. :)

    So, why are you so interested in the lives of these unborn “children”, anyway? Did they ask you to be? Will you be their friend if they DO get born? Why, then, aren’t you interested in the countless millions of children that ARE born, each year? I think that you should go visit each and every one of them, and then, if you’ve got time left, worry about the ones that don’t exist.

    And that neo-pagan idea sounds hilarious! I need to make a movie about that. We’ll call the transsexual “Harold” and the cow will be named “Bluebell.” Sitcom-style, of course.

    Yes, yes. Children have no voice, you gotta stand up for them, blah blah blah. Grass doesn’t have a voice, and yet I’d imagine you REGULARLY torture your front/back yard! How dare you! Insects are dying as we speak, why aren’t you there saving them!!! And before you rant on about how, “human lives mean SO much more than insects or plants,” think about this: are you an insect, OR a plant? Of course not, unless you know something that I don’t. Which isn’t likely. SNAP!

    I’m kidding, you’re a great guy that knows a lot of stuff. I’d probably grin and say hi to you if we met on the street. I feel really sorry that you’ve got to deal with brats until that age, I know my mom is sick to death of it. She’s 59, though, and she’s got 3 years left to go with my little sis. None of that sissy 51 nonsense. You know, at this point I don’t really even want to argue anymore. I still don’t agree with you, of course, but I can understand your point of view and if you want to get all fanatical about it that’s your call. I think I’m going to go do something constructive, rather than arguing on the internet about an issue that hardly concerns me. I’ll watch for a reply, though ;)

  31. Deep Thought says:

    As I suspected, you are irrelevant. No mature thoughts, no coherent thoughts, no real ideology. Aware of many things but sure of nothing, you mistake information for knowledge and a flip word for intelligence. Dave is asking questions and paying attention, as is red. Discussion for the sake of learning is never wasted unless you refuse to learn, even if you don’t change your mind.

  32. Jimm says:

    Deep Thought,
    Now you’re just sinking to my level, and you don’t want that, do you? ;)

    You’re a complete jerk, and I’m done with you. May your children rebel and think for themselves.

    Have a nice day!

  33. dave says:

    Please people, let’s not stoop to personal attacks. You’re tottering on the brink of that right now. I’m reluctant to delete posts, but I will if I have to.

  34. Jimm says:

    ooops, sorry dave…

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