Balkinization  

Monday, January 21, 2008

Roe at 35; Death Toll at 50 Million

Michael Stokes Paulsen

We are a nation of holocaust-deniers.

Today, January 22, 2008 marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, one of the two or three most atrocious Supreme Court decisions of all time. Roe invented a constitutional right of pregnant women to kill their human embryos or fetuses, for essentially any reason or no reason at all, through all nine months of pregnancy. Since then, approximately fifty million abortions have been committed in the United States. Some of these would have occurred without Roe. But Roe is, in large measure, responsible for the magnitude of this human holocaust: Roe and its "progeny" struck down any and all state and federal laws prohibiting or restricting abortion. Perhaps worse, Roe established abortion as a "right," implying that abortion is right, or at least all right -- and thereby giving a green light to the abortion holocaust of the past thirty-five years.

"Holocaust" is a hot word. Many will deny, vehemently, its propriety here. But the simple, surely undeniable, fact is that abortion takes a human life. There is no denying that the human fetus is alive or that it is an independent life, having a separate biological existence and identity from the woman in whose womb the human fetus is developing. And there is, of course, no denying that this independent, living being is a human living being. Abortion kills a living human embryo or fetus. There is -- or should be --no denying this.

To be sure, this human life is at a very early stage in development. In addition, the human fetus often could not live on his or her own without the support of the mother's womb. These two facts are the one's most often cited for either denying the moral worth of the fetus (so that killing it is asserted to be an act of no moral consequence), or for justifying the killing (on the ground that the continuation of the human fetus's life interferes with the life of the mother). Often, these two points are employed in tandem. But often, they are not thought-through critically or seriously. (For many, there is no need to think through these issues; the Supreme Court has done the thinking for them. Roe v. Wade not only authorized a holocaust; it simultaneously made holocaust-denial easier and more common.)

Denying the moral worth of pre-natal human life is a dubious enterprise. Most who embrace this view do so by adopting some kind of a "sliding scale" analysis that mimics, even as it reverses, the old joke that one cannot be a "little bit" pregnant. The premise of the sliding-scale approach is that whether or not the human fetus should be treated as human life depends on "how pregnant" the mother is -- an intellectual error that would be comic were it not also so tragic. Thus (this argument goes) a human embryo's or fetus's moral entitlement to be regarded as human life changes with its stage of development. (This is the form of Roe's argument, too.)

The contention that the same independent living being is not entitled to the moral status otherwise accorded a member of his or her species, because of the stage in development of that independent life, makes no logical sense. It has a certain intuitive appeal, but that is a different matter. But if ever there was an intuition that required careful logical scrutiny, this is the one -- and it cannot withstand such examination.

The sliding-scale of humanity argument is also one that should be frightening to liberals and conservatives alike. Such a proposition was, at some level, part of the Nazis' justification for the moral permissibility of the mass murder of Jews. It was, at some level, the American argument for the moral permissibility of slavery. It is, at some level, the view of those who affirm the moral propriety of discrimination on the basis of race.

In the abortion context, the sliding-scale of humanity argument is often used as a rhetorical move to weaken the equities of the human fetus, in preparation for the real thrust: the (asserted) countervailing interests of the pregnant woman. Now, at some point, most everyone, even the most uncompromising of pro-life advocates, weights this interest heavily. A truly life-threating pregnancy presents the most tragic of choices. Few would blame the woman who decides for abortion of her child in order to save her own life.

The abortion-holocaust-defenders try to leverage this insight too far, however, embracing notions of the mother's "health" so expansive that they encompass any thoughts, emotions or social views the pregnant woman might have about having a baby. Do I exaggerate? Once again, this is Roe's argument, taken in combination with Roe's companion case, Doe v. Bolton. It is important to emphasize Roe's radicalism in this regard. Roe's trimester framework plus Doe's highly stylized, implausibly broad definition of "health" permits abortion for essentially any reason which the pregnant woman and abortionist deem adequate, and this prevails throughout all nine months of pregnancy. The pregnant woman's asserted interest -- any interest -- always trumps the life of the human fetus. (This feature of abortion law has remained remarkably stable in the thirty-five years since Roe. As I wrote last spring, Gonzales v. Carhart upheld the federal partial birth abortion ban only on the assumption that a woman could always obtain an abortion through another method.)

The interests-of-a-more-important-person-always-trumps-others'-rights-even-to-live argument is another one that should be frightening to liberals and conservatives alike. The rationalizations for the Nazi holocaust and for American slavery took this approach, too. The lives of some (Jews, black slaves) had to be subordinated to the asserted superior interests of others with supposedly stronger claims of moral entitlement to be free to do as they wished, without the inconvenience of other, lesser lives.

Most people who argue for the pro-choice position lean more on this argument (though without casting it in such terms, obviously). They generally do not deny that the human fetus is human life. To so claim would be either an act of ignorance or one of willful intellectual dishonesty. Rather, most defenders of abortion ultimately rest their position on the moral judgment that unborn human life is, at some or all stages of gestation, simply not morally worthy of protection against private violence at the hands of someone inconvenienced to a greater or lesser degree by that human life.

But if the human embryo or fetus properly has moral status as a member of the human family; and if that moral worth should not permit killing human fetuses for any reason that the pregnant woman might choose, then Roe's Reign is a human holocaust of massive proportions. Roe both rejects any independent moral status to the human fetus and permits their killings for any reason, at any stage in development. In America alone, the death toll following Roe has exceeded, by a factor of eight, authoritative estimates of the death toll from the Nazi holocaust. 50 million deaths, in a nation of 300 million, approaches one-sixth of the population. Abortion reportedlyhas killed one-fourth of the African-American population of the United States. "Holocaust" is not an extreme word for this phenomenon.

* * *

Is there anything in the language of the U.S. Constitution that supports Roe's holocaust-holding? Not remotely. No rule or principle supplied by a fair reading of the text of the Constitution; no rule or principle fairly derived from the Constitution's structure or internal logic or deducible from other clear propositions contained therein; no rule or principle traceable as a matter of history or intention to an authoritative decision reach by the people with respect to this issue, remotely supports the result reached in Roe. In short, nothing in the text, structure, history, or original understanding of the Constitution supports Roe's result.

Unless, that is, one decides to adopt a creative interpretive hermeneutic in order to reach the desired outcome. That, of course, is the project of modern liberal constitutional law. It is a project that today is driven, in large measure, by the desperate desire to validate Roe. Five years ago, about the same time "Balkinization" was being born, I participated in a conference (now a book) conceived by Jack Balkin for the thirtieth anniversary of Roe. ("What Roe v. Wade Should Have Said" NYU Press) Most of the participants' contributions were of the above description: imaginative attempts to justify Roe on some alternative ground, requiring an extraordinarily creative hermeneutic. (No serious scholar that I know seriously attempts to defend the decision on its own terms.) Jack recruited my contribution so that there would be at least one dissent on the "Balkin Court." My chapter/opinion dutifully plows through the assorted theories rigged up to rehabilitate Roe, flying under banners as varied as the Ninth Amendment, the Privileges or Immunities Clause, Substantive Due Process, Equal Protection, and a common-law unwritten constitutionalism founded on a system of judge-made precedent. I will not re-rehearse those arguments here. (I commend the entire volume to those who are interested in the details of my arguments, and those of the other participants.)

In my essay, I reserved my real fireworks for the conclusion -- an assessment of the moral implications of this almost incomparably lawless decision. What I continue to find more interesting (and more disturbing) than the legal arguments conjured for Roe is the relentless, passionate desire of the conjurers to sustain Roe in the first place -- to construct "constitutional law" around validating its outcome in a way that almost certainly none would to sustain a result they did not like. Such efforts seem Taney-esque, in every sense: willful and determined; transparently result-driven; sometimes intelligent and ingenious, but in a rather manipulative sense; dishonest, either intentionally or as a product of self-deception and the psychological need for validation.

Why? Here I can only speculate. Time, familiarity, acquaintance, intellectual (and moral) laziness, and social cowardice have combined to produce a desperate psychological need to validate, justify, or tolerate Roe. For if the view of its lawlessness and its consequences I have sketched above were thought right, it would almost be too much for the psyche to endure.

Time and repetition have numbed the senses to Roe. As thirty years rapidly have become thirty-five, Roe becomes increasingly entrenched, familiar, and accepted. Dred Scott was effectively gone in four years, popularly overruled by the election of Lincoln and interred, finally, by the Civil War and the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments. Senate candidate Lincoln had warned of the decision, however horribly wrong, becoming embedded in the law through repetition and popular acquiescence over a sustained period of time. Roe of course resembles Dred Scott greatly in methodology and morality, but Roe has been reaffirmed repeatedly by the Court and, to a large measure, acquiesced to by a largely complacent population that either embraces its result or cannot bear to face Roe's reality. Time, familiarity, and repetition have made Lincoln's warning about Dred Scott a reality for Roe v. Wade.

Then there are the friends and acquaintances who have had abortions. We deny Roe's holocaust because the cognitive dissonance of acknowledging it may simply be unbearable on this score. Some estimates have it that as many as one-third of the adult women in America have had an abortion. One-third! Add to this the number of people who know personally, as friends, neighbors, or family, women who have had abortions (and perhaps factor in also the number of couples for whom the experience of infertility, and the processes of assisted reproduction technologies, have shaped a world-view that would be shattered mightily by having to entertain the proposition that "discarded" human embryos might be independent human lives of moral value) and suddently there is a large swath of society with an enormous psychological stake in abortion holocaust denial.

* * *

As I wrote (for Jack's book) five years ago: "If my account of the law, set forth above is correct; and if it is true that the unborn human embryo or human fetus is a living human being, then what the majority [in Roe did was] create out of whole cloth a super-protected constitutional right of some human beings to kill other human beings, for essentially whatever reasons they may have for doing so, including caprice, spite, convenience, or the child's gender, race, or other physical characteristic."

Our society's considered, or unthinking (as the case may be) embrace of Roe calls into question -- no, it refutes -- the self-image we would like to have of our society's advanced moral development. The shallow sophistries used to rationalize slavery; the horrible lies people permitted themselves to believe to tolerate naziism -- harumph! We would have done better; we wouldn't have done such things; we wouldn't have believed it; we never would have supported it; we would not have tolerated it, or gone along. We would have been courageous in our condemnation, and in our resistance to, evil. Because we would have seen things as they were, called evil for what it was, and never, never rationalized it or accepted it.

Don't believe it. Roe v. Wade, on its awful thirty-fifth anniversary, calls into question -- or at least it should -- our supposed superior moral reasoning, our confidence in our rectitude, our certainty of our courage in the face of huge moral wrong.

We are a nation of holocaust-deniers.

Michael Stokes Paulsen
University of St. Thomas School of Law

Comments:

"[T]he (asserted) countervailing interests of the pregnant woman." Right, it's a mere smokescreen. There certainly aren't any troubling implications at all of the state commandeering women's bodies.

Good luck, Mike, with banning all abortions regardless of rape or incest, banning in vitro fertilization, and getting women charged with first degree murder for having an abortion.

What a silly post this is. It will convince exactly zero people who didn't share unstated precommitments long before they came across this screed.

Where did you find this guy, Jack? The "University of St. Thomas"? Were you on a cruise? Dial it back on the rum drinks next time you're down there, please.
 

Despite your polemics, I fundamentally agree with your underlying premise: No constitutional guarantee for abortion can be supported by the text itself.

I also agree that Roe v. Wade was among the worst Court decisions by virtue of its complete and total casuistry. It ranks with Dred Scot and Plessy, Gore v. Bush, Raich and New London, as incomprehensible decisions.

But your polemic ignores another feature. Assuming the "right to life" is implicitly guaranteed, so to is the "right to self-determination," a.k.a., "autonomy." But now we're in the realm of Article IX of the Bill of Rights, which the Courts ignore. And like all "rights," they conflict in the abortion issue.

The judicial and prudent decision would be to "split the baby," or Solomon's wisdom, except that is the question at hand. Instead, a political compromise, rather than judicial fiat, would take both rights into consideration. But the Courts usurped the political process with abortion, just as it inserted the political process against the Bill of Rights with New London. Logic and linguistic use are apparently not taught in law schools, nor required for admission. Court decisions reflect that omission.

A compromise would exact something like the following: During embryogenesis, the entire course of Darwinian evolution repeats itself in the womb over nine months. During the genesis, the human form becomes visible to imaging at Week 23. No one denies its human properties before, as the DNA confirms it. But, it has not attained to a separate existence from the womb, and therefore is not autonomous. The mother, however, is. "Splitting the difference" would allow unimpeded abortions until the 23rd week, and thereafter only for medical necessity.

Extremists on both sides will balk; that's what extremists do. But 70% of Americans are not extremists, have already "intuited" this policy as its compromise. But that would require political effort, banned by the Court. So, here we stand with few people happy. Sandy likes to claim the Senate is the most unDemocractic of institutions. Actually, the Court is. Where does one go to appeal bad decisions?
 

Are you really a law professor? I stopped reading after the first paragraph. I think you need to reread the case itself. And Casey as well. Not all federal/state laws restricting abortion are unconstitutional (in fact Casey only struck down a small portion of one statute), and post-viability, a woman cannot have an abortion for "any reason at all."

If you're going to criticize the Supreme Court abortion jurisprudence, at least do so in a context faithful to what the opinions actually hold.
 

You are entitled to your own opinion; you are not entitled to your own embryology.

Early-term fetuses (the real issue in Roe, contrary to your erroneous "through all nine months of pregnancy" histrionics) have no differentiated brain, no nervous system, no capacity to feel pain (or anything else), no consciousness.

To call that a "human being" and elevate its constitutional status to co-equality with the mother is preposterous, demeaning to all human life (and, as an aside, without basis in any sane theory of jurisprudence).
 

I subscribed to this blog's RSS feed until this claptrap came along. It's not that I think that abortion is a fun hobby for all to enjoy, it's that this analysis is only the most worked over bulltwinkies we've all heard over and over again, and dismissed over and over again.

At the very least, Roe foes need to address two issues:

1. Does your interpretation of the Constitution allow for Griswold?

2. If life begins at conception, rather than implantation, then, since over 60% of fertilized eggs are not implanted, we are now, and have always been, facing a very serious public health crisis. Why bother spending any money fixing disease or alleviating starvation, when we should instead be preventing quiet miscarriages?

I am not asking for these answers now; it is entirely too late for this blog entry. If you and your guest authors can't come up with new and interesting content, your readers will go elsewhere.
 

Good heavens. Someone puts a newborn chick and a newly laid chicken egg on the table. Your choice which to put in the pan to fry and eat. Which do you choose?

Yes, either choice "takes a chicken life," if you will. But what does that have to do with anything?
 

The problem with using rhetoric claiming above holocaust level mass murder is that in all the anti-abortion calls for justice against the supposed murderers there's never such a call for the chief henchmen in the murders; the prime evil in the mass murder; the woman. So your outrage over the holocaust would have us imprison and possibly execute the foot soldiers of the Nazi army but hold completely innocent Hitler, his inner circle, the SS, camp guards and all the others actively effecting the mass murder. I grant you, you perhaps would criminalize the person that pulled the lever that dropped the gas canisters.

Your high moral and religious standards don't bear close examination. You're a hypocrite of the highest order. If that's the standard of the God you believe in then it's a God unworthy of the slightest respect. Scorn would be more appropriate. But then this isn't about God, it's about control. The anti-abortion movement isn't a religious one. It's a political one. The Pharisees among us looking for people to nail to a cross in order to glorify themselves.
 

Because I am somewhat sympathetic to his argument, I sort of felt obligated to read this rather long post. Thankfully, however, Mr. Paulsen Goodwin's his argument in paragraph 6 or so.

One would think that a law professor would understand that comparing a wrong, no matter how wrong it is, to the Jewish Holocaust detracts from an argument.
 

This isn't Vatican City.

That said, if it could be -- if there were a real choice between the status quo and no abortion, no war, no death penalty, and new-testament social policy -- I'd go with the Pope, too.

There is no such choice.

In real life, Paulsen's apologetics function as cover for the US right wing -- a cover for death by war, death in prison and oppressions small and large to all and sundry.

It's a good thing there is no god, since if there were, Paulsen might be in for a spot of trouble when he hit hell.
 

I admit that my knee started jerking in response to the first couple of paragraphs. So I made myself take some deep breaths and continue reading.

Other posters have already raised the question of laws that would seriously embody the notion of full legal rights for aborted fetuses, including punishment for their killers that would be in any sense like the treatment given to other people we designate as murderers. So I'm going to skip that one. :) Instead, I'm going to point out other things that seem to me to indicate that people talking about the equal standing of the unborn aren't committed to their own rhetoric.

Where, for starters, are the calls to prosecute the vendors of food and medicine that may be unhealthy for growing fetuses as perpetrators of reckless endangerment? What legal sanctions is anyone asking for when it comes to businesses with environments that increase the risk of miscarriage? We know a lot about simple, often inexpensive measures that increase the health and well-being of both mother and child. Where's the push for these as matters of avoiding murder and manslaughter? If abortion is in fact murder, then surely homicidal negligence and other such crimes also apply in non-abortion-related fetal deaths. But we simply aren't seeing any effort to treat those similarly, which makes me think that this is more about the abortion than the death.
 

Are you for real?

I do not value lives based on their membership in my species. I value *minds*. A disembodied testicle attached to a life support system is a member of my species. It can even have children. Sorry but I have no moral regard for it. You can call me a Nazi all day. A zygote has the same status. On the other hand if it becomes possible to create brain simulators or artificial intelligences I suspect you will be the first to deny their humanity.
 

Oh my!

Professor Paulsen, where were you when I went to law school making the same arguments in front of unreceptive to openly hostile professors?

Are there many other professors like you out there?

In any case, I would only add to your fine argument the enormous demographic impact of this holocaust. Nearly every modern country which kills off a substantial number of its unborn children through abortion is literally dying off as their populations are no longer even replacing themselves. The United States is barely avoiding this fate.

Inside the United States, however, the secular liberals who support and practice abortion are dying off nearly as quickly as their secular liberal EU brethren. The only thing keeping the US reproduction rate at an even keel is the reproduction of immigrants and native social conservatives.

In short, where maladies like the Black Death and centuries of warfare have failed to depopulate places like Europe, the practice of killing one's own children through abortion seems to be doing the trick.

Apart from the abomination of mass murder, abortion is literally societal suicide.
 

Baghdad, do you have any stats to back up your bullshit?
 

bb:

Try the link, which leads to still more links.
 

Baghdad, the link takes me to your website. You might as well have provided a link to Krusty the Clown College.
 

But the simple, surely undeniable, fact is that abortion takes a human life. There is no denying that the human fetus is alive or that it is an independent life, having a separate biological existence and identity from the woman in whose womb the human fetus is developing. And there is, of course, no denying that this independent, living being is a human living being. Abortion kills a living human embryo or fetus. There is -- or should be --no denying this.

What a pantload. Not only is all of this crap easily denied, it's easily proven wrong. If you think a fetus is an independent life, place one on a bed and see how long it "lives".
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

The shallow sophistries used to rationalize slavery; the horrible lies people permitted themselves to believe to tolerate naziism -- harumph! We would have done better; we wouldn't have done such things; we wouldn't have believed it; we never would have supported it; we would not have tolerated it, or gone along. We would have been courageous in our condemnation, and in our resistance to, evil. Because we would have seen things as they were, called evil for what it was, and never, never rationalized it or accepted it.

I have no doubt that scum like Baghdad Bart would be the most likely to embrace a Nazi regime in this country, and yet he is one of the loudest harumphers on the abortion issue. How ironic.
 

For full-throated moral condemnation of abortion, what is needed is an account of the specialness of the biological category of homo sapiens. For myself, I would say that what is primarily valuable is personhood, not particular biological material, although some biological material may be instrumentally valuable because giving rise to persons. I.e., we might value the personhood potentiality of the embryo. But this would seem to be a weaker kind of valuation that could only support some weaker kinds of moral condemnation of abortion -- condemnation of abortion for purely frivilous reasons, for example. But I take it that the poster offers a stronger condemnation than this. It is unclear what moral principle sanctions this outrage, or what shared premises support the moral conclusion.

Although legally, I have no particular allegiance to Roe.
 

The Council of Conservative Citizens makes its stage debut:

"I would only add to your fine argument the enormous demographic impact of this holocaust...." [link and further explication of the coloured/Muslim/whatever 'peril' mercifully deleted]

Brought to you by the American Society For The Correct Taxonomic Classification Of Racist Rhetoric. No charge.

Cheers,
 

And then there is the moral dilemma of illegally extirpated teratomas. Things get sticky pretty quicky when you start looking real close....

Cheers,
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Regardless of where one sits on the abortion fence, this tirade is an example of what a lack of logic can do for an opinion, and for that reason I find it disappointing to see it featured as a post on this blog. I'm sure professor Balkin could have found a better reasoned opinion in opposition to abortion.


Michael Stokes Paulsen uses the term holocaust as little more than a cheap tool to invoke fear and loathing. Abortions are not carried out in a systematical way by a political group out of hate for another group but by individuals out of individual desperation. He would have us believe just the opposite by his use of the term. As such, his contribution won't serve to address the problem in any constructive way whatsoever. Perhaps he can explain how useful distortion is to accomplishing any kind of goal other than deception. He only reveals he lacks reasoned thought in his opposition to abortion. I would think that if people really wanted to do something about abortion itself, they'd welcome rational thinking.
 

Let's be honest here. Those of us who are pro-choice don't really give a crap about the moral status of the fetus. What we do give a crap about is the position of a woman who faces an unwanted pregnancy.

So, Professor Paulson, instead of giving us this Holocaust argument that we've heard 100 times before and aren't going to buy if you repeat it over and over again for the rest of your life, why don't you tell us, succinctly, why thousands of women should have to be forced out of their careers or educations or forced to stay in an abusive marriage or relationship because they have an unwanted pregnancy. Because that's the effect of banning abortion.

Do you (1) simply not give a damn about women in that situation, or (2) want to force a restoration of traditional gender roles?

Your choice.
 

I completely agree with the following conditional statement:

"If the human embryo or fetus properly has moral status as a member of the human family; and if that moral worth should not permit killing human fetuses for any reason that the pregnant woman might choose, then Roe's Reign is a human holocaust of massive proportions."

Unfortunately, there is no argument given to support the sufficient condition. Instead, it is merely asserted that it is "illogical" not the accept it - which is, of course, question begging since that is the issue in the first instance.

The post does not address the many persuasive arguments used to morally differentiate a fetus in its earliest stages from other examples of human life (e.g. moral status supervenes on certain levels of cognition that literally do not exist before about 22 weeks of gestation - this is in part the same reason it was morally acceptable to respect Terri Schiavo's previously expressed wishes and remove her feeding tube); nor does it actually address the Constitutional arguments for Roe (as others have pointed out, Griswold is not mentioned once).

I can only conclude that this post was meant as a mere polemic, not even the sketch of an argument, which is precisely what I hope not to read on generally well-argued blogs like Balkinization.
 

dilan said...

Let's be honest here. Those of us who are pro-choice don't really give a crap about the moral status of the fetus. What we do give a crap about is the position of a woman who faces an unwanted pregnancy.

Unless the child was conceived from a rape, no one forced a woman to conceive her child. Rape is such a miniscule part of abortion that this argument is a red herring.

bitswapper said...

Michael Stokes Paulsen uses the term holocaust as little more than a cheap tool to invoke fear and loathing. Abortions are not carried out in a systematical way by a political group out of hate for another group but by individuals out of individual desperation.

Professor Paulsen uses holocaust in its normally accepted meaning as a mass murder of human beings. The fact that we are killing our own children rather than some group of strangers we consider to be less than persons hardly argues that the term holocaust does not apply to abortion.

im_michael_young said...

It is unclear what moral principle sanctions this outrage, or what shared premises support the moral conclusion.

This is pretty simple.

1) Starting at conception, all of us were individual living human beings.

2) All human beings have a right to life unless they forfeit it by threatening the lives of others.
 

Bart, the problem with your demographic argument against abortion on demographic grounds is that the exact same result occurs whether the drop in birthrate is the result of contraception, abortion, or even abstinence. You have assured us in the past you have no moral objection to contraception, let alone abstinence. Surely if one wishes to the birthrate to rise, it would be better for the increase to be the result of wanted, rather than unwanted pregnancies.

In short, where maladies like the Black Death and centuries of warfare have failed to depopulate places like Europe, the practice of killing one's own children through abortion seems to be doing the trick.

Before we start panicking too much, keep in mind that Europe's so-alarmingly shrinking populuation is still vastly larger than at the time of all those wars and plagues. It is going to take a long time for reduced birthrates to lower Europe's population to 14th century levels. (Or even 19th century, for that matter). A lot can happen in that amount of time.
 

enlightened layperson said...

Bart, the problem with your demographic argument against abortion on demographic grounds is that the exact same result occurs whether the drop in birthrate is the result of contraception, abortion, or even abstinence.

For this limited purpose, you are correct. However, this is not an argument against contraception. If you assume the same patterns of contraception and abstinence, but bring back the 50 million children killed by abortion since Roe, the United States is still comfortably replacing and increasing its population.

As far as panicking over population decrease, I am not among the cultural groups dying out. I would think that thoughtful people on the secular left might be a bit concerned that they are dying out and what that says about the viability of their culture.
 

Unless the child was conceived from a rape, no one forced a woman to conceive her child. Rape is such a miniscule part of abortion that this argument is a red herring.

This argument only flies if you think the government has an interest in telling people when they can and can't have sex.

If we assume that women are entitled to be sexually active and also fully participate in society, then an argument that they have to be celibate and if they aren't, it's "their fault" if they get pregnant doesn't fly.

Indeed, it is an attempt to use pregnancy to PUNISH women for having sex that some people don't approve of. I.e., a restoration of traditional gender roles.

So we will put Bart in category 2-- he wants to bring back the old gender roles.

What I would like to hear, though, is what Prof. Paulsen thinks.
 

"Bart" DePalma:

[dilan]: Let's be honest here. Those of us who are pro-choice don't really give a crap about the moral status of the fetus. What we do give a crap about is the position of a woman who faces an unwanted pregnancy.

["Bart"]: Unless the child was conceived from a rape, no one forced a woman to conceive her child. Rape is such a miniscule part of abortion that this argument is a red herring.


OIC. Any woman that has sex under any circumstances except forcible rape "wants to get pregnant". Makes perfect sense to me ... but then again, I'm a moderately overachieving blastocyst....

[im_michael_young]: It is unclear what moral principle sanctions this outrage, or what shared premises support the moral conclusion.

["Bart"]: This is pretty simple.

1) Starting at conception, all of us were individual living human beings.


Well, if you define individual living human beings in such a manner. YMMV....

2) All human beings have a right to life unless they forfeit it by threatening the lives of others.

Hmmmm, and is this a "threat" to those of us that are, by supporting the right to choose, "threatening the lives of others"? Round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows. At least the doctrinaire Catholics avoid this conundrum by opposing the death penalty....

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma:

However, this is not an argument against contraception. If you assume the same patterns of contraception and abstinence, but bring back the 50 million children killed by abortion since Roe, the United States is still comfortably replacing and increasing its population.

And if you give a homeless man a million bucks, he'll be a millionaire. Just the same as if he'd earned it, nicht wahr?

But FWIW, the "United States is still comfortably replacing and increasing its population", despite "Bart"'s feverish paranoia that it is not. What bothers "Bart" so much is that those coloured folks, wetbacks, and slant-eyes, you know the types, might actually become a majority of the population in the United States as they were five centuries ago. Those Europeans (you know, the white kind) might be swamped. Holy Toledo, Batman, we've got a real problem if that happpens.

"Bart": This is not the first time you've spewed this racist garbage. No one liked it the first time. We still don't like it. And I'm sure I'm speaking for nearly everyone here when I say: Take your racism, and just put a sock in it. Once was more than enough. There was a reason you got banned by Greenwald, and just a little bit of IT help to the proprietors would help immensely here as well.

Cheers,
 

Sez the "28 percenter": As far as panicking over population decrease, I am not among the cultural groups dying out.

You're the one flapping his racist mouth.

You might surmise sumptin', if you had the smarts Gawd gave a gnat, and twigged from the fact that no one of the many smart people here is complaining or rending their hair in panic about your concerns, that they are not accepting your 'argument' ... and are certainly not making it. Thus it becomes yours here, and yours alone.

Cheers,
 

snore. another man talking about something he can never understand, nor ever control fully. how that must frighten him.

i assume, of course, the author has devoted a significant portion of his Highly Ethical and Moral personal wealth to the care and fostering, in his own home, to those unwanted children languishing in the nation's orphanages. I have no doubt that among these charges, there are several 'minority' and disabled children, as well. i am confident he has also taken at least one pregnant adolescent incest victim into his home, and succored her journey into blessed Motherhood.
 

dilan said...

BD: Unless the child was conceived from a rape, no one forced a woman to conceive her child. Rape is such a miniscule part of abortion that this argument is a red herring.

If we assume that women are entitled to be sexually active and also fully participate in society, then an argument that they have to be celibate and if they aren't, it's "their fault" if they get pregnant doesn't fly.


One of the characteristics of a free adult is to accept the responsibilities of one's actions and realize that life has tradeoffs. The natural result of sexual intercourse is the conception of children. If bearing children will interfere with one's other life goals, then you abstain from sex or make damn sure that you use contraception with the realization that you may bear children anyways. You cannot morally kill the children you voluntarily conceive to avoid responsibility for your actions.
 

wow, i can't believe you all let this guy post here. is this the same guy? if so, check out some of his other work:

Dead Man's Privilege: Vince Foster and the Demise of Legal Ethics, 68 Fordham L. Rev. 807 (1999).

and

Is Bill Clinton Unconstitutional? The Case for President Strom Thurmond, 13 Const. Comm. 217 (1996).


...i had kept this blog in my bookmarks for 'daily reading.' it's getting moved to 'when you have some time to kill and a phat blunt,' if this the sort of stuff i can expect. if i've mixed up two different people, my apologies.
 

If bearing children will interfere with one's other life goals, then you abstain from sex or make damn sure that you use contraception with the realization that you may bear children anyways.

no, you drive down to the local Rite-Aid and you buy the morning after pill, and have a normal, pain free period like any other month.

you must hate that, women having all that freedom and autonomy.

i just love people who think women should be punished for having sex. it's so...feudal! i assume you mean that every pregnant woman forced to term for her 'risky' and 'irresponsible' behaviors will be shackled by marriage and legally enforced financial support of the man who left his innocent, unknowing sperm in her vagina? after all, mandatory, taken directly out of your paycheck/forced liquidation of any asset you have if you're late making a payment child support is just as important as seeing the lil angels thru the birth canal successfully, right? or should Slutty the New Mom be solely responsible?
 

I'm sure this post was offered in the sense of "equal time" or some such, but it fails to be other than a partisan rant. This is the only real disappointment I've ever had with Balkinization. There can be no equating the right to not carry a fetus to term with what we did to the Mohicans or what the Nazis tried to do to the Jews. Shame on Paulson, and disappointment with our hosts.
 

One of the characteristics of a free adult is to accept the responsibilities of one's actions and realize that life has tradeoffs. The natural result of sexual intercourse is the conception of children.

It may be that conception of an embryo is the natural result of unprotected or imperfectly protected sexual intercourse, but it doesn't follow that THE CARRYING OF THE EMBRYO TO TERM is the natural result of such intercourse. They are two different things, unless one wants to use that pregnancy to reestablish traditional gender roles.

But again, we now know that Bart is in category 2 (wants to reestablish traditional gender roles). What about Professor Paulsen?
 

For this limited purpose, you are correct. However, this is not an argument against contraception. If you assume the same patterns of contraception and abstinence, but bring back the 50 million children killed by abortion since Roe, the United States is still comfortably replacing and increasing its population.

Sorry, but this is not convincing at all. Suppose every woman who had an abortion instead abstained or used (more reliable) contraception. The net population loss would be the same. It's one thing to argue that abortion is the murder of an innocent baby and should be forbidden as a matter of personal rights. It's another thing altogether to argue that since women are not voluntarily having enough babies, they should be forced to have more. (And that is what the demographic argument amounts to).

Just as an aside, Bart, perhaps one reason people are so convinced that your demographic arguments are racist is that you seem solely alarmed by falling birth rates in Europe. East Asian birth rates (China, Japan, South Korea) are even lower than Europe's, but I don't recall you ever expressing a word of concern about that.
 

"The contention that the same independent living being is not entitled to the moral status otherwise accorded a member of his or her species, because of the stage in development of that independent life, makes no logical sense."

What a facile argument! Sure its a human being but IT IS NOT A PERSON. It has no self-consciousness, no sense of self. It has no plans that could be thwarted or interests that could be harmed. For a significant part of its life, a fetus is nothing more than a bunch of organic goo.

Get over yourself, sophist.
 

dilan said...

BD: One of the characteristics of a free adult is to accept the responsibilities of one's actions and realize that life has tradeoffs. The natural result of sexual intercourse is the conception of children.

It may be that conception of an embryo is the natural result of unprotected or imperfectly protected sexual intercourse, but it doesn't follow that THE CARRYING OF THE EMBRYO TO TERM is the natural result of such intercourse.


Huh?

I presume you were told about the birds and the bees. Except in the unlikely event of a miscarriage or still birth, birth naturally follows conception.

What is decidedly unnatural is hiring an abortionist to kill the child before birth by poisoning or dismemberment.
 

@TheFool: You might like this:

A fetus is a woman's chattel until it draws it's first breath (respiration, inspiration, "receiving the spirit"...) whereupon it is a person. Anything less flies in the face of history, common sense and anything remotely resembling justice.

Original here. Peace.
 

Allow me to correct myself. I said, "For a significant part of its life, a fetus is nothing more than a bunch of organic goo." Actually, I should have said that for a significant part of its life a fetus is nothing more than a MICROSCOPIC SPECK of organic goo.

I understand where this guy is coming from because I used to be there. I was raised Catholic and I remember in a college speech class once maing the same argument he did. Like the sophist arguing here, my thought process started from the unexamined assumption that abortion is wrong. That's how you make dumb philosophical mistakes like treating membership in the human species as the morally relevant fact when it is actually personhood, not humanity, that matters.

This is why theists are so tiresome. Their views are preprogrammed and they will reach for anything that supports those programmed views. At bottom, theists are just frightened little children, afraid of reality.
 

the fool said...

"The contention that the same independent living being is not entitled to the moral status otherwise accorded a member of his or her species, because of the stage in development of that independent life, makes no logical sense."

What a facile argument! Sure its a human being but IT IS NOT A PERSON.


Under this logic, parents or the state should be able to kill any born human being who is not fully developed or is disabled because they are not really legal persons.

The absurdity of line drawing after conception is clear by simply examining the nearly unchanged status of the child before and after that line. Partial birth abortion is a perfect example of this absurdity. The reason the child is allowed to be only partially born with the crown of her head still in the mother is because the child in not a legal person while inside her mother and the abortionist can kill the child without sanction. However, if this very same child is allowed to completely leave her mother and the abortionist sucks her brains out until she dies, the abortionist has just committed a particularly heinous capital murder. Same child, same human being, same moral standing, one absurd exception to the law of murder.
 

Membership to a particular species is rather obviously neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for rights or moral standing to attach.

It is not a necessary condition: If Flipper or Klaatu existed, they would (or ought to) be accorded rights or moral standing. And if blacks, whites and Asians (to be grossly racial) were all discovered to be distinct species, they would (or ought to) be accorded rights or moral standing.

It is not a sufficient condition: Given the choice between gratuitously boiling a newly-hatched chick alive and gratuitously boiling a newly-laid chicken egg alive, no sane, healthy person would opt to boil the newly-hatched chick alive. This is evidence that the newly-hatched chick has in our eyes a higher degree of moral standing than the chicken embryo. More generally, it is an example of how in adopting moral attitudes toward organisms, we routinely consider their level of development.

The conclusion to draw seems to be that moral standing is grounded in certain characteristics that stand outside or transcend species categories. In particular, there is no a priori reason to suppose that human blastocysts have any such characteristics.
 

Michael Stokes Paulsen is by definition incompetent to argue the case either for or against medically-induced abortion, as Michael Stokes Paulsen is never going to be pregnant.

Michael Stokes Paulsen will never have to try to cope with life as a woman, never mind as a woman who is pregnant with a child by a rapist; a woman who is pregnant with a child diagnosed with a devastating genetic disorder; a woman who is pregnant with a child she has no means to feed, educate, clothe or shelter; a woman who is pregnant while still a child herself, at the age of 9 or 11 or 17 or 23; a woman whose life-partner does not want to be responsible for the child in her womb, for whatever reason that partner so decides.

The devastating vacuity of Michael Stokes Paulsen's arguments arise from the pious religiosity of his political stance, not from logic nor empathy either with the unborn or the parents.

His inhumanity screams from every bloodthirsty syllable of his rant: he wants all women to obey the dictates of his god.

Tough, Michael Stokes Paulsen. Ain't gonna happen, and you can't make it.

-- Hercules' Shadow
 

The natural result of sexual intercourse is the conception of children.

The "natural result" of driving a car on the freeway is getting splattered across the pavement by an out-of-control 18-wheeler. With, depending on driving skills, luck, and access to the birth control that is getting more difficult, pretty much a similar rate of occurrence. Which means that I must have driven with the intention of getting splatted. Thus, even if I manage to evade that by some manoeuvres for a while, it's incumbent on the gummint to have me shipped off and forcibly splatted regardless, so that I can appreciate the consequences of my foolish choices....

Cheers,
 

As for my comments on teratomas (link above), I found this little tid-bit:

"In the past, the teratoma (literally, "monster tumor") was considered to be a conceptus, and (according to an ancient Merck Manual I remember reading) the Roman Catholic Church required that teratomas be baptized (giving rise to interesting speculation about what the Teratoma Department in Heaven was like and who was in charge there--Saint Humpty Dumpty, perhaps?)"

Glad that ethical conundrum has been sorted out ... but I'm still refusing to bathe. ;-)

Cheers,
-- Arne, proud alumnus of the TDS School of Law
 

Bart writes:
Professor Paulsen uses holocaust in its normally accepted meaning as a mass murder of human beings. The fact that we are killing our own children rather than some group of strangers we consider to be less than persons hardly argues that the term holocaust does not apply to abortion.


Start a conversation with any genuinly random person about the holocaust and see if WWII doesn't at once enter the dialog (talking to yourself or your ideological clone doesn't count).

Unless you've been living under a rock your entire life, trying to pass off the term holocaust in complete ignorance of the 20th century insults the intelligence of everyone in this discussion, as well as many others.

Please note that I neither argue for or against the issue, but for intellectual honesty regarding the issue, like how the use of the term holocaust in an obvious tirade is focusing on fear rather than rationality. Please exhibit some intellectual honesty, as no open and useful forum can live by one viewpoint alone.

This was the reason for my reaction of disappointment at the inclusion of such a tirade by professor Balkin in his blog, as it is representative of an intrusion of blatant fear-mongering. That may very well be presumptuous of me, but that was what I saw. In the past, opposing viewpoints have been represented by what have been quite well thought-out positions, but not mr. Paulsen's.
 

In the past three posts, conceiving a child has been compared to a traffic accident, killing the child compared to boiling a chicken egg and called empathy, while saving the child from being killed was called inhumanity.

The defense of abortion could not be more revealing.
 

bitswapper:

Holocaust now has the generic meaning of mass slaughter. In addition to the Nazi mass murder of Jews, holocaust has been applied to other mass slaughters in Cambodia, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Bosnia.

The point is that all of those mass murders combined took far fewer lives than abortion in the United States.
 

Bart writes:
bb:

Try the link, which leads to still more links.


It should be noted that Bart is again trying to pass off his own blog as an authoritative source and simultaneously drive hits to it.

If the host of this blog wants to invite you as a guest blogger, he will.
 

Bart writes:
In addition to the Nazi mass murder of Jews, holocaust has been applied to other mass slaughters in Cambodia, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Bosnia.

The point is that all of those mass murders combined took far fewer lives than abortion in the United States.


The point is that Paulson is trying to come up with a definition of holocaust which is no longer common, and is invoking the fear and loathing of such mass group-on-group murders as opposed to to rational argument.
 

In an amasing intellectual tour de force (at least for him), "Bart" manages to divine what I was trying to convey:

In the past three posts, conceiving a child has been compared to a traffic accident,...

Telegram from Reality to "Bart": Yes, "Bart", yes. In many cases, pregnancies are indeed "accidental". They occur despite the best efforts of the people involved to avoid them, and despite any intent on their part that such a thing should happen.

Why such a fact was previously lost on you, and why it should be remarkable to have it stressed (outside of the mundane reason that the intended recipient of this information was previously clueless) is beyond me.

... killing the child compared to boiling a chicken egg and called empathy,...

No. Go read the analogy again. The comparison was between the fertilised egg and the newly hatched chick. This was analogised to the difference between early termination of pregnancy and the killing of a new-born (although not explicitly so by the proponent of the analogy). Analogies don't indicate identity (and in fact wouldn't work if the objects were identical), or even similarity of any particular feature of the objects analogised. They're to help one arrive at some of the essentials of a situation by moving to a corresponding place in a different situation where the questions might be a bit more easily resolved.

And it wasn't called "empathy". That is an outright lie, "Bart".

... while saving the child from being killed was called inhumanity.

Another lie. Sarah was quite specific as to what she thought inhumane about Paulsen's rant.

The defense of abortion could not be more revealing.

That you have to be deliberately obtuse, "Bart", and to even lie about what your fellow disputants have said, certainly doesn't augur well for the moral suasion of your actual 'arguments', such as they are.

So what do you think about baptising teratomas, "Bart"? Do you name yours? Or just flush them?

Cheers,
 

I presume you were told about the birds and the bees. Except in the unlikely event of a miscarriage or still birth, birth naturally follows conception.

What is decidedly unnatural is hiring an abortionist to kill the child before birth by poisoning or dismemberment.

If we care what is "natural", it is perfectly natural for a woman who does not wish to carry a fetus to term to have an abortion. Long before doctors performed abortions, women took concoctions or performed the procedure themselves. It wasn't very safe, but abortions go back thousands of years.

The point is, there's nothing more "natural" about carrying the fetus to term rather than not carrying the fetus to term. People who object to abortion are doing so because they see some utility in forcing the woman to do something she doesn't want to do.

Which again, puts you back in category 2-- you favor restoring traditional gender roles.

But the issue isn't Bart DePalma-- it's what Professor Palsen thinks about women.
 

I presume you were told about the birds and the bees. Except in the unlikely event of a miscarriage or still birth, birth naturally follows conception.

This seemingly deliberate eedjitcy really pisses me off. The sad part is that the maladministration would prefer that "Bart"-types disseminate this kind of crapola rather than honest doctors that tell you the facts. Woe to those poor women that come into the clutches of the likes of "Bart" and the rest of the "guilt squad". "Bart", you got any neat pictures of bloody foetuses to hand around to the women visiting ob-gyns? Now that would be a real "public service", wouldn't it?

Sincerely,
 

Lots of bad arguments in here on both sides. Bart DePalma as usual is a major offender. Just because there is a continuous development does not make it absurd to draw a line. There are clearly qualitative differences between a zygote and an adult human that matter.

Can I pinpoint an exact second when the qualitative change occurs? No, but the request is a stupid one. It doesn't occur at some discrete point in time. DePalma's argument is like saying all sounds are loud since I can turn my stereo knob from 0 to 10 without being able to point to s specific point, like 6.734445 where the sound became loud. Zygotes and first trimester fetuses are like stereos that don't even produce sound at all. Second trimester fetuses, to continue the stereo analogy, have their consciousness knobs turned up to about 0.1. If bart's argument were true, we would have to assign full moral standg to all sentient creatures. After all, there is no specific point on the phylogentic spectrum that definitively distiguishes intelligent from non-intelligent species.

Bart's point is far less practically momentous than he thinks. For the purposes of public policy you are forced to designate a point. Just err on the side of caution and pick a point a little earlier than you might think. I nominate some point after complete development of a functioning central nervous system. In reality I think you can make a case that even newborn infants aren't really self-conscious but surely no animal without a brain is. So abortions in the first trimester or two are completely uncontroversial. After that things are a bit less clear cut.

On the flip side, arguments like Sarah's that a man can't know yada, yada, yada are obscurantist nonsense. There is no philosophical moral knowledge imparted by becoming pregnant or merely having the capacity to become pregnant.

Other bad pro-choice arguments are arguments about a woman's body etc. Those aguments simply beg the question.
 

I'm going to quote another commenter here, just so that the idea doesn't get lost in the sea of (correctly applied) condemnation -
Dilan said:
"Why don't you tell us, succinctly, why thousands of women should have to be forced out of their careers or educations or forced to stay in an abusive marriage or relationship because they have an unwanted pregnancy."

I'm sorry Prof. but the right of a woman to choose when to conceive is absolute. If something happens be it vile like rape or just an accident, then who are you to tell her what she must do?

Further, life certainly does NOT begin 'at conception'. To accept such a statement you must then accept that neither sperm nor ova are living, which is, to paraphrase Wolfgang Pauli, "Not even wrong."

Your delusions, and they are delusions, make no mistake, are despicable, mean-hearted and dangerous.
 

1) Starting at conception, all of us were individual living human beings.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 2:47 PM


That simply is not true. All of us are individual living human beings at birth, not conception.

If you choose to believe otherwise, don't have an abortion.
 

the fool said...

Just because there is a continuous development does not make it absurd to draw a line. There are clearly qualitative differences between a zygote and an adult human that matter.

Can I pinpoint an exact second when the qualitative change occurs? No, but the request is a stupid one. It doesn't occur at some discrete point in time.


Thank you for your honesty. I could not have made the point better.

Of course there are qualitative differences between a zygote and an adult human as there are between a helpless newborn infant and an adult. Just as the law and ethics recognize that a helpless newborn infant and an adult are both legal and ethical persons because they are both human and not because they are qualitatively the same, the same reasoning should apply for your entire lifespan.

Moreover, you are one of the few abortion defenders to admit that it is practically impossible to draw qualitative lines during human development. The trimester and viability lines were completely fictional constructs based on the location and not the human quality of the child.
 

Moreover, you are one of the few abortion defenders to admit that it is practically impossible to draw qualitative lines during human development.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 9:05 AM


Bullshit. The line is birth.
 

bitswapper said...

Bart writes: Try the link, which leads to still more links.

It should be noted that Bart is again trying to pass off his own blog as an authoritative source and simultaneously drive hits to it.


I could care less if you traffic my blog. However, many of the posters demand links to the facts which they refuse to accept. I have previously written on the subject of demography with a series of links. Why redo all those links when I can just link to the links?
 

I could care less if you traffic my blog.

Considering that you regularly post links to your blog, this is a pretty blatant lie.

I have previously written on the subject of demography with a series of links. Why redo all those links when I can just link to the links?

# posted by Bart DePalma : 10:31 AM


Mostly because I don't feel like going on an Easter Egg hunt. If you have links that specifically support your claims here, include them. Otherwise, shut the fuck up.
 

Bart writes:
However, many of the posters demand links


Then provide them, if folks ask, which would be the respectful thing to do. Just sending people to your blog is called "linkjacking" and its definitely a lesser contribution. Yes europe has a decrease birth rate, but you can't seem to decide which is more to blame: homosexuality or abortions. At its best, such strained reasoning is a case of killing turkeys causing winter. Using that same kind of reasoning, caffine could as well be the culprit.


to the facts which they refuse to accept.

After constantly ignoring, spinning, politicking, and distorting in often the most shameless way, its hard to take that seriously from you.
 

bit:

It is indisputable that the EU and many other modern countries are not reproducing enough to replace their current populations.

There are three different possible causes:

1) A tiny percentage is unable to have children.

2) Healthy segments of the population are declining to conceive children because of contraception, abstinence or sodomy.

3) Healthy segments of the population are killing off the children they conceive.

In the United States, we have been at or just below replacement reproduction for a generation. Because we have killed 50 million of our children through abortions over that period, it is reasonable to assume that our failure to reproduce is due primarily to abortion. The situation is very likely the same in the EU.

In the US, this failure to reproduce is concentrated among the secular left side of our cultural divide. Given that most posters here are on that side of the cultural divide, I am amazed that this phenomenon does not even momentarily disturb them. Is this culture so fundamentally self absorbed that its members can care less if their culture and hereditary lines die out?
 

Baghdad, if you're so concerned about your cultural heritage, start having children, you racist piece of shit (or better yet, please don't). But don't, for one second, think that you have any moral authority to tell other people that they should be having more children.
 

By the way, it's pretty funny that you think "murderers" should be producing more children.
 

The Fool:

DePalma's argument is like saying all sounds are loud since I can turn my stereo knob from 0 to 10 without being able to point to s specific point, like 6.734445 where the sound became loud. Zygotes and first trimester fetuses are like stereos that don't even produce sound at all....

Oh, the humanity!!! The Fool is comparing killing a child to turning up the stereo!!! How craven. How inhumane.

Sarcasm aside, I agree with The Fool; there is obviously a continuum of change in foetal development, and very few clearly delineated points (and even these tend to get fizzier, the closer you look at them). Picking some arbitrary "clearly delineated" point (say, fertilization, implantation, heartbeat, viability, or birth) for convenience, no matter the actual significance of such, ignores the actual complexities of the situation, as any such sole criterion thus ignores (and belittles) the significance of even the other "clearly delineated" markers, not to mention the tons of less clearly delineated changes taking place, and avoids what should be the substantive discussion as to what's going on (and the moral consequences of such) for the purpose of achieving some thoughtless "bright line" decisional fiat.

I'd note that the much maligned Roe v. Wade understands this, and does begin to present a continuum of changing interests as foetal development progresses. Not so the absolute "fertilization begins at conception" diktat preferred by many of the anti-abortion crew.

"Remember, teratomas are people too!"

Cheers,
 

The trimester and viability lines were completely fictional constructs based on the location and not the human quality of the child.

Are we talking Kansas versus Florida here, or upper thoracic versus mid-lumbar? Guess I missed that distinction in Roe, but then again, I also missed the holding in Brown II; perhaps the lawyer "Bart" will enlighten me.

Cheers,
 

Bart writes
1) A tiny percentage is unable to have children.

2) Healthy segments of the population are declining to conceive children because of contraception, abstinence or sodomy.

3) Healthy segments of the population are killing off the children they conceive.


How small is that tiny percentage, just out of curiosity?


In the US, this failure to reproduce is concentrated among the secular left side of our cultural divide.

This looks like another example of "killing turkeys" reasoning - an oversimplified (in the form of a false dichotomy) explanation of a complex phenomenon. You do realize that statistics do validate the proposition that killing turkeys causes winter. As for the assertions by Brooks and others that liberals and their ilk don't reproduce as much and are therefore dying out, those seem to be current statistics trying to predicting long-term trends using an over-simplified extrapolation, and again look more like trolling for numbers to support politicking than questions aimed at practical solutions. This isn't to dispute raw findings as such, but you're treating speculation as foregone conclusion for what looks to be the sake of politicking.

Given that most posters here are on that side of the cultural divide, I am amazed that this phenomenon does not even momentarily disturb them. Is this culture so fundamentally self absorbed that its members can care less if their culture and hereditary lines die out?


Reminds me of idiocracy.
 

The racist "Bart" carries the Stars'n'Bars again:

[to bitswapper]: It is indisputable that the EU and many other modern countries are not reproducing enough to replace their current populations.

First off, only Eastern Europe has negative rates, and WTF cares if anyone's going down? It's not like we're in danger of running out of people....

There are three different possible causes:

1) A tiny percentage is unable to have children.

2) Healthy segments of the population are declining to conceive children because of contraception, abstinence or sodomy.

3) Healthy segments of the population are killing off the children they conceive.


WTF cares?!?!?

In the United States, we have been at or just below replacement reproduction for a generation.

The Unites States population is increasing. Only North Dakota lost population between 2000 and 2005.

Because we have killed 50 million of our children through abortions over that period, it is reasonable to assume that our failure to reproduce is due primarily to abortion....

Recall the pithy phrase about "assume". Why don't we just as "reasonably" assume that "Bart" is an a$$, and be done with it?

... The situation is very likely the same in the EU.

And WTF cares? Racists.

In the US, this failure to reproduce is concentrated among the secular left side of our cultural divide. Given that most posters here are on that side of the cultural divide, I am amazed that this phenomenon does not even momentarily disturb them....

Has it occurred to you that this is because we are not racists?!?!? Look who's screaming here. It ain't us, I tellya. Now please STFU and go away with your racist screeching.

... Is this culture so fundamentally self absorbed that its members can care less if their culture and hereditary lines die out?

One might ask who is the "self-absorbed" one here that's so worried about his "culture and heredity" (see, e.g., the "Council of Conservative Citizens" link I provided above....)

"Bart", you're generally an a$$hat, but on this thread you're one in spades.....

Cheers,
 

Bart DePalma: "The natural result of sexual intercourse is the conception of children. If bearing children will interfere with one's other life goals, then you abstain from sex or make damn sure that you use contraception with the realization that you may bear children anyways. You cannot morally kill the children you voluntarily conceive to avoid responsibility for your actions."

Hmmm...the natural result of starting my car and pulling out of the driveway would be to crash into my neighbor's dining room. To do so in the morning while he's at breakfast might effect his death. Unless I want to be morally responsible for said death, I have an obligation to use the steering wheel to direct my car onto the street instead of through my neighbor's yard. However, should I attempt to do so and my steering wheel should fail to operate (despite my having kept the car in excellent condition), am I still morally responsible for my neighbor's death? Did I consent for my neighbor to die? Certainly I'm physically responsible, but by what reasoning would I be morally or legally responsible?

If not, in what sense can a woman who has used contraception and experienced a failure of said contraceptive be said to be morally responsible for the resulting pregnancy? And absent moral responsibility (IOW, without consent), by what dictum should she be obligated to carry the child to term?

I'd be interested in a response to this; at least it's a civilized attempt to engage part of your argument...
 

In the United States, we have been at or just below replacement reproduction for a generation. Because we have killed 50 million of our children through abortions over that period, it is reasonable to assume that our failure to reproduce is due primarily to abortion.

This either/or, contraception or abortion is absurd. It seems probable that if contraceptives are unreliable, or if women use them inconsistently, both the birth rate and the abortion rate will rise. It also seems safe to assume that if contraception is extremely reliable and women use it consistently, both the abortion rate and the birth rate will fall. After all, most women who have abortions would have preferred to avoid getting pregnant in the first place.

So perhaps the question should be, so long as abortion is legal, which do you prefer? A high number of unwanted pregnancies with a resulting increase in both abortions and births, or a low number of unwanted pregnancies, with a resulting low number of abortions, but also a lower birth rate?
 

DePalma misinterpreted my argument so badly that I assume it was accidentally on purpose.

He said, "Of course there are qualitative differences between a zygote and an adult human as there are between a helpless newborn infant and an adult. Just as the law and ethics recognize that a helpless newborn infant and an adult are both legal and ethical persons because they are both human and not because they are qualitatively the same, the same reasoning should apply for your entire lifespan.

Moreover, you are one of the few abortion defenders to admit that it is practically impossible to draw qualitative lines during human development."

Uh, bart, the gist of my argument is that it is EASY to draw qualitative lines, not impossible. Just pick a reasonable point that corresponds to the qualitative level of development. To continue with the stereo volume analogy, if I want to create a legal definition of loud, I can safely say that my stereo is loud when it is 7 or higher and quiet when it is 3 or lower. Numbers between 3 and 7 are more debatable.

Where Bart goes wrong is in thinking that there is some definite answer to the question of when a human becomes self-conscious and thus a person. There is not a definite answer because it is not a definite question. As Quine said it is an essentially vague concept.

But there are limits to its vagueness that can be viewed as like the margin of error on a poll. Again using my volume analogy, I would say the margin of error on the development of consciousness is about a 1 on the 1-10 scale. So whereas I stipulated above that loud is over 8 and quiet is under 3, loud might reasonably be seen as over some threshhold between 6 and 8 while quiet is under between 4 and 2.

One thing is for sure, when my stereo is on 0, its quiet on any concpetion of quietness. This is the case of a fetus without a brain. Those fetuses can be aborted without a second thought.
 

Here's the other really weak part of DePalma's "argument".

Bart said, "Of course there are qualitative differences between a zygote and an adult human as there are between a helpless newborn infant and an adult. Just as the law and ethics recognize that a helpless newborn infant and an adult are both legal and ethical persons because they are both human and not because they are qualitatively the same, the same reasoning should apply for your entire lifespan."


So he recognizes the qualitative differences but then fails to reflect those differences in his theory instead simply asserting that our moral theory should take a cue from existing positive law.

That's some world class question begging, Bart. I have a better idea. Exisiting law should take a cue from moral theory rather than the other way around.
 

TheFool: "DePalma misinterpreted my argument so badly that I assume it was accidentally on purpose."

Indeed. The only way to get the better of a sophist is to not engage. Engaging known disingenuous sophists only ecourages them, where typically we desire the opposite. Much more valuable to feed what you love, and direct your comments, and energy, to those who reward it.
 

Robert Link: You're absolutely right. The only reason I engaged "he whose name shall not be spoken" (*cough*Bart*cough*) is because my remarks are simultaneously aimed at the guy who wrote the original post.
 

@ Robert Link and "Bart" DePalma:

OT, but on the subject of "fruitless" discussions:

Some more grist for an old mill:

"FLORENCE, Ariz. — Thomas Warziniack was born in Minnesota and grew up in Georgia, but immigration authorities pronounced him an illegal immigrant from Russia.

"Immigration and Customs Enforcement has held Warziniack for weeks in an Arizona detention facility with the aim of deporting him to a country he's never seen. His jailers shrugged off Warziniack's claims that he was an American citizen, even though they could have retrieved his Minnesota birth certificate in minutes and even though a Colorado court had concluded that he was a U.S. citizen a year before it shipped him to Arizona.

"During a deportation hearing Thursday morning, pleas by Warziniack's family and lawyer to release him, as well as a copy of his birth certificate proving his citizenship, did little to deter the government."

Does that change anyone's views as to whether U.S. citizens are subject to arbitrary and indefinite detention on the maladministration's say-so? Just wave your birth certificate, and walk out, right?

Cheers,
 

@Arne: Sheesh; talk about flogging the deceasd eqquine. What you report is a) no surprise to anyone who actually _read_ the MCA, b) not going to "count" for anyone comitted to the so-called "war" on "terror," from whom one can reasonably expect protestations such as, "But he deserved it," or "He has a funny name," or "He wasn't born here..."

Just stirrin' the pot, aren't ya? ;)

@TheFool: Arne is not so subtly pointing to a large body of rhetoric flung between Bart and myself. Try googling (advanced search) the balkin.blogspot.com domain for the words "cowardly lying cheat". I suspect you will enjoy. I know I did. But eventually I got a life and had better things to do, praise be.

Peace.
 

the fool said...

Uh, bart, the gist of my argument is that it is EASY to draw qualitative lines, not impossible. Just pick a reasonable point that corresponds to the qualitative level of development. To continue with the stereo volume analogy, if I want to create a legal definition of loud, I can safely say that my stereo is loud when it is 7 or higher and quiet when it is 3 or lower. Numbers between 3 and 7 are more debatable.

Where Bart goes wrong is in thinking that there is some definite answer to the question of when a human becomes self-conscious and thus a person. There is not a definite answer because it is not a definite question. As Quine said it is an essentially vague concept.


OK, let us assume your proposition that a human being without conscious human thought is worthless and can be ethically killed and that we can actually determine that line during gestation.

The problem is that your position equally applies to born human beings who through disability, disease or injury have lost their conscious thought. Under your "volume scale" of human unworthiness, the mentally disabled can be ethically killed by their parents or guardians "without a second thought."

Of course, the loss of conscious thought can be permanent or temporary. Under your "volume scale" of human unworthiness, it would seem that the permanently impaired are the most worthless and can be killed "without a second thought."

An unborn child at conception is more akin to a person suffering from a temporary coma which would lift in about 20 weeks. It would appear that the temporarily disabled would be a bit less worthless on your "volume scale." However, even though an unborn child at conception will soon gain conscious thought, you have still deemed her unworthy of life. Consequently, it logically follows that we can also kill people in temporary comas "without a second thought."

Our law and ethics protect human beings from being killed because human beings have intrinsic worth, not because of their physical or mental abilities.

Unfortunately, the analogies between abortion and the Nazi haolocaust are not merely limited to the number of human beings killed. When one starts down the road of determining who should live and die based on their abilities, you have travelled well down the road to the particularly malignant kind of eugenics practiced by SS officers deciding which Jews arriving at concentration camps should live or die based on their ability to serve the Reich.
 

Because Arne made me nostalgic...

Enjoy. Over and out on this thread.
 

SS officers deciding which Jews arriving at concentration camps should live or die based on their ability to serve the Reich.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 7:23 PM


A job description which I suspect has triggered many wet dreams for you.
 

The Godwin density in this thread is some''in' fierce.
 

Its an exercise in futility but let me try to help clarify your thinking Bart.

You said, 'The problem is that your position equally applies to born human beings who through disability, disease or injury have lost their conscious thought. Under your "volume scale" of human unworthiness, the mentally disabled can be ethically killed by their parents or guardians "without a second thought."

Of course, the loss of conscious thought can be permanent or temporary. Under your "volume scale" of human unworthiness, it would seem that the permanently impaired are the most worthless and can be killed "without a second thought."

You make some obvious mistakes but basically you're right. If someone has lost their conscious thought PERMANENTLY, then they're already gone. The impersonal meat can be disposed of. That is the moral of the Schiavo and Quinlan stories. Your meat is not what makes you, you, Bart. Once the spark of consciousness has been snuffed out, you no longer exist.

Your suggestions about what my view implies about people suffering temporary diabilities are obviously bullshit, as is the ridiculous Nazi comparison. I'm not deciding who lives and dies based on some measure of worth. The whole point of my argument, which you seem intellectually incapable of grasping, is that in the case of the miscroscopic blastocyst there is no WHO there to have any worth, intrinsic or otherwise. There's no one home Bart. Get it?

Finally, the difference between a fetus and a person in a coma that might lift is that the person in the coma is a PERSON already. They have existing hopes and dreams and plans and interests and (hopefully) people who love them. A fetus, that is a microscopic piece of organic stuff, has none of that. So obviously the cases are greatly different in a way that matters crucially. In the case of the fetus, there is nothing and no one to protect, so we don't need to protect that impersonal, miscroscopic stuff.

Your whole position is completely dependent upon the idea of intrinsic value bestowed, no doubt, by a soul upon quickening. If you can prove that, then you win. But I'll bet a large sum that you can't prove that. Until you can, you can keep your baseless religious dogma out of my politics.

You wingnuts are so funny when you pretend to be altruistic and that you care about other people's lives. In the real world, you expose yourselves on a daily basis as actually not having any respect for life at all and not really giving a shit how anyone else outside your own family is doing.

That's why there are between about 500,000 - 1,000,000 Iraqis who are dead right now that wouoldn't have been except for wingnut foreign policy. THAT, my friend, is the real culture of death.

You're so full of shit you stink of it, Bart.
 

I should also add that my position in no way justifies killing people with mental disabilities, as Bart so disingenously charges. The key word there being "mental". They are conscious persons, so they should be protected, unlike microscopic bits of impersonal protoplasm.
 

Proposition: Conservatives care about the abortion issue because they care deeply about the preservation of human life and human welfare.

Objection: But, conservatives are wanton in their willingness to kill people in other countries and are stingy and callous about helping others.

Therefore: conservatives do not care about life or huamn welfare, but only some lives under some circumstances*.

QED.

*primarily 1) when pretending to care about life affords them the opportunity to control other humans' behavior and 2) when it gives them rhetorical advantage
 

The Fool:

I'm addressing this to you and others, as I suspect that "Bart" has too few neurones to comprehend it:

Finally, the difference between a fetus and a person in a coma that might lift is that the person in the coma is a PERSON already. They have existing hopes and dreams and plans and interests and (hopefully) people who love them. A fetus, that is a microscopic piece of organic stuff, has none of that. So obviously the cases are greatly different in a way that matters crucially. In the case of the fetus, there is nothing and no one to protect, so we don't need to protect that impersonal, miscroscopic stuff.

I think you have the gist of it: There is no "legal person" there (or one that has achieved that status). Perhaps there may be in the future (and perhaps not), but there is not one now (and there hasn't been one that had any such status or rights). To illustrate, I can only think about another legal "bright line" and think of "Bart"'s demurrer about a foetus (nay, even a zygote) being "more akin to a person suffering from a temporary coma which would lift in about 20 weeks", and thus an entity that should be afforded at this time the full emoluments of "legal personhood". To wit:

I can see this philsophical "Bart" cruising the neighbourhoods, and enticing a fourth-grade girl into his nice big car with a lollipop. Off he goes to some flea-bag motel, and spirits her in the back entrance. Alerted by the cleaning staff, the police come, and "Bart" is taken away. On arraignment, our estimable lawyer "Bart" gets up and says, "Your Honour, in my defence, what I did was perfectly legal. The girl was a 'pre-born' adult of legal age. Just give nature a chance, wait eight years, and that girl would almost assuredly be an adult with full right to consent (or at the the very least, it's not rape of a child). Therefore, we ought to treat her as that right now. I move that the charges be dismissed."

Same 'argument'.

Cheers,
 

the fool said...

BD: 'The problem is that your position equally applies to born human beings who through disability, disease or injury have lost their conscious thought. Under your "volume scale" of human unworthiness, the mentally disabled can be ethically killed by their parents or guardians "without a second thought."

fool: Finally, the difference between a fetus and a person in a coma that might lift is that the person in the coma is a PERSON already. They have existing hopes and dreams and plans and interests and (hopefully) people who love them.


Someone in a coma has no conscious thought and therefore cannot have "hopes and dreams and plans and interests" for the duration of that condition. Under your "volume scale," they are no longer persons.

Your whole position is completely dependent upon the idea of intrinsic value bestowed, no doubt, by a soul upon quickening.

Science demonstrates that all people are individual living human beings from the point of conception. This does not require the addition of a soul.

Our discussion is whether all human beings are also legal persons entitled to a right to life or whether some human beings can be killed "without a second thought" because they have no value.

The problem with your volume scale requiring a human being to have conscious thought to be a legal person is that you are arbitrarily limiting your scale to the unborn and not to the similarly situated born.

Proposition: Conservatives care about the abortion issue because they care deeply about the preservation of human life and human welfare.

Objection: But, conservatives are wanton in their willingness to kill people in other countries and are stingy and callous about helping others.

Therefore: conservatives do not care about life or huamn welfare, but only some lives under some circumstances*.


You really do not want to step into this minefield.

It is correct that those on the right generally defend a right to life for unborn and human beings with physical and mental defects, but we will execute criminals and wage war against enemies who kill or threaten to kill us or deny our liberty.

It is also correct that those on the left generally take a diametrically opposite view, defending the right to life of criminals and wartime enemies who kill or threaten to kill us or deny our liberty, while arguing that it is proper to kill their own unborn or handicapped children.

The position of the right is that everyone starts with a right to life, but this right to life can be waived by those who threaten the lives and liberty of others. This position is consistent with a respect for innocent life.

The position of the left, on the other hand, is entirely inconsistent with a respect for a right to life. The left believes that it is OK to kill their own innocent unborn or disabled children because it is inconvenient to care for them. However, the left is for some reason willing to defend the lives of criminals and wartime enemies who take or threaten to take the lives and liberty of others.

I have no trouble with the philosophical underpinnings of my respect for the right to life. I cannot comprehend the incoherent opposite position of the left.
 

"Bart" DePalma:

It is also correct that those on the left generally take a diametrically opposite view, defending the right to life of criminals and wartime enemies who kill or threaten to kill us or deny our liberty, while arguing that it is proper to kill their own unborn or handicapped children.

Who has defended "kill[ing] ... handicapped children"? And don't say "Singer". That's one person only.

As for the "unborn", would that encompass every "unborn"? The Walking Dead? The glints in mother's eyes? To define abortion as "kill[ing] ... unborn" (or more usually, "pre-born") is to assume the conclusion.

"Bart", you need to address my last objection above.

The position of the right is that everyone starts with a right to life, but this right to life can be waived by those who threaten the lives and liberty of others....

You mean, like you? As I said, and as you ignored, "round and round it goes" ... and where it stops, nobody knows ... or wants to find out.

... This position is consistent with a respect for innocent life.

Assuming "life". Doesn't advance your argument, it begs it.

The position of the left, on the other hand, is entirely inconsistent with a respect for a right to life. The left believes that it is OK to kill their own innocent unborn or disabled children because it is inconvenient to care for them....

Huh? Who's saying that? Try arguing with positions people actually take here, rather thna makng up "straw men".

... However, the left is for some reason willing to defend the lives of criminals and wartime enemies who take or threaten to take the lives and liberty of others.

Here, we're more likely to argue for the rights of accused "criminals and wartime enemies". Some of us support the death penalty for those actually convicted of heinous crimes, I'm sure. Some don't, thinking that the death penalty is too severe and subject to abuses and/or horrible mistakes. None of us think that those actually guilty should get off scott-free.

So, "Bart" what did you name your teratoma? Is it cute?

Cheers,
 

Arne writes:
On arraignment, our estimable lawyer "Bart" gets up and says, "Your Honour, in my defence, what I did was perfectly legal. The girl was a 'pre-born' adult of legal age. Just give nature a chance, wait eight years, and that girl would almost assuredly be an adult with full right to consent (or at the the very least, it's not rape of a child). Therefore, we ought to treat her as that right now. I move that the charges be dismissed."


It would seem the reason that Bart ignores principals like the above and facts like the growth of the US population (right after he stated 'The only thing keeping the US reproduction rate at an even keel is the reproduction of immigrants and native social conservatives.') is that rather than arguing rational principals, he is arguing politics. While others take a principled approach, bart seeks to either insult a group he's politically opposed to, or tries to irrationally characterize them as dying off.

Even as a shallow politician, he's not making a very good showing. It would be interesting to see if he can make a good showing of his position rather than what he's doing now. I do think his position needs to be represented, just represented decently. I'd think if he really cared about his side, he'd at least try to do a good job.
 

bitswapper said...

It would seem the reason that Bart ignores principals like the above and facts like the growth of the US population (right after he stated 'The only thing keeping the US reproduction rate at an even keel is the reproduction of immigrants and native social conservatives.') is that rather than arguing rational principals, he is arguing politics.

The population of the United States is expanding because tens of millions of immigrants have come to our country.

However, we were not discussing immigration, we were discussing how the secular left in this country is dying out because they are killing off their children.

However, if you would like to move on to the new topic of the social consequences of immigrants replacing the dying native secular left in the United States, I would be glad to do so.
 

However, we were not discussing immigration, we were discussing how the secular left in this country is dying out because they are killing off their children.

Correction: No, "we" weren't. You were haranguing on this apparently shocking 'nightmare' (at least to one person here), and no one else here gives a sh*te.

However, if you would like to move on to the new topic of the social consequences of immigrants replacing the dying native secular left in the United States, I would be glad to do so.

No, please, no. Those that want to can go to the Council of Conservative Citizens page I linked to read up on the 'arguments' for why we should be fearing 'mongrelization' and the coloured hordes, and you, "Bart", can just go host a necktie party over at your own> friggin' blog for all your hooded buddies and discuss these 'perils' to your heart's content. Please go now.

Cheers,
 

The population of the United States is expanding because tens of millions of immigrants have come to our country.

And this is news?!?!? It's been true for quite some time ... and strangely enough, some of those were ... "Bart"'s ancestors (judging from his surname, I'd suspect that not everyne welcomed them, either). Now I see the peril.... ;-)

Side note to The Fool, Robert Link, bitswapper, and the rest: I don't think that "Bart" is usually dishonest or deliberately disingenuous. It seems to be more a psychopathology; a kind of mental scotoma that leaves him unable to see things that he doesn't want to (or can't) see. The RWA personality lives strongly in him, and his beliefs are immune to reason. Anything contrary must be ignored. Criticism must be dismissed as personal animus. When called on an obvious and provable mistake (such as his Brown II, SJ or Pentagon papers crapola), ignoring it "makes it go away"; if he doesn't look at it, it's not there. As for his "logic", it makes sense ... in his head. And because it's so self-obviously true, it can't be wrong.

Thus, being "right" and being "smart" (not to mention "logical"), he's immune to even ridicule and sarcasm. He doesn't see it, or it obviously is unjust and doesn't apply. As such, any semblance of useful dialogue is nigh impossible, and even the standard norms and checks of civilised behaviour and manners are ineffective in curbing his excesses. We saw that at Greenwald's blog, where the only relief to be had came from banning him.

Altemeyer should invite him in as a subject, a classic "double high"; maybe they ought to even do some PET scans.

Cheers,
 

Bart writes:
However, we were not discussing immigration, we were discussing how the secular left in this country is dying out because they are killing off their children.


The politician strikes again. This attempt to passively-aggressively characterize the 'secular left' as murders doesn't even pass as specious. There are plenty of people on the internet flinging insults. You don't have to be one of them, and you don't have to do it here.

'The only thing keeping the US reproduction rate at an even keel is the reproduction of immigrants and native social conservatives.'

From CIA.gov for the US:
Birth rate: 14.16 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 8.26 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Bart, you're not even trying to make a decent representation of your point of view.

However, if you would like to move on to the new topic of the social consequences of immigrants replacing the dying native secular left in the United States, I would be glad to do s

I'd want to switch topics if I were you too - you've made a tragic embarrassment of this one.
 

bit:

The immigrants coming into the United States are young and will be bearing children now and will not be dying for some decades. Thus, the higher number of babies being born than people dying.

Reproduction rates involve a completely different calculation and are the average number of children borne by a women in the United States. Each woman needs to bear approximately 2.1 children just to replace the population. (The additional 0.1 children are required because a small number will die off of natural causes before they can reach child bearing age and continue the cycle.)

The immigrants are reproducing at above replacement rates.

Religious conservatives are right around replacement rates.

The secular left are way below replacement rates as are most of the EU.

In my first post, I provided a link to one of my older posts with extensive links to this data. No matter how much you would like to disbelieve this data as "politics," it is a fact.
 

"Someone in a coma has no conscious thought and therefore cannot have "hopes and dreams and plans and interests" for the duration of that condition."

Bart, think about the town in which you were born. Are you thinking about it? Good.

But were you thinking about it just in the moment before I asked you to? Probably not.

Does that mean you "could not have had" a memory of the town in which you were born? Of course not -- after all, you remembered it.

Properties like memory or belief are in this way dispositional -- they don't' have to be active or occurrent for someone to "have" them. Persons (including unconscious persons) are among the sorts of things that can have such dispositions; blastocysts aren't.
 

Science demonstrates that all people are individual living human beings from the point of conception. This does not require the addition of a soul.

This is an abuse of science. There is, as far as I know, no peer reviewed scientific work that establishes this claim. And the reason is that it is a claim of moral philosophy, not emperics. All science says is that we have the same DNA from conception. Whether that makes us individual human persons from conception is beyond the remit of science.

Further, if one wishes to treat it as a scientific question, in truth, science would teach us that this statement is NOT true. Specifically, identical twins are clearly not individual human persons from the moment of conception. Indeed, identical twins maintain the same DNA throughout their lives (which is why having unique DNA cannot actually be the definition of individuality).

Again, though, we have already established that Bart wants to reestablish traditional gender roles. The question is does Professor Paulsen? His silence is deafening.
 

"Q" the Enchanter:

See my comment above. You're using reason and logic. Well done, but it won't alter the behaviour.

"Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest...."

So has it ever been with "Bart", but as you can see, I continue my duties in at least drawing chalk lines around the eedjitcy and illogic scattered on the sidewalk, and so should you as you see fit.

The song goes on:

"In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade,
And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down,
Or cut him til he cried out in his anger and his shame,
I am leaving, I am leaving.
But the fighter still remains....

Lie-lie-lie ..."

And so on....

Cheers,
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Arne, point taken. My thinking is that I'm giving Bart a chance either marginally to redeem himself or marginally to embarrass himself further. Either effect will be salutary.

(I appreciate the reference to "The Boxer," BTW.)
 

Dilan:

All science says is that we have the same DNA from conception.

Even this is a bit of a stretch; telomeres are snipped as the organism ages, and it is thought this is part of programmed cell death.

Then there's somatic cell mutations, and also selective inactivation/activation of genes, etc., which is of course why our skin cells normally don't act like stem cells or zygotes (which is, actually, a good thing, and why we're not blobs of goo). Thinking we're DNA only is rather simple. It would be like saying that Venter had synthesised a whole bacterium when what he's done is the DNA strands only; there's still a ways to go for complete de novo synthesis of life....

But pardon me for introducing actual science into a "Bart" screed....

Cheers,
 

Baghdad, you're really taking a beating here. Isn't it about time for you to run away like you usually do?
 

Bart writes:

In my first post, I provided a link to one of my older posts with extensive links to this data. No matter how much you would like to disbelieve this data as "politics," it is a fact.


Politician/denier strikes again - demonize/arginalize a group of people. How sad.

Bart's "facts":
The only thing keeping the US reproduction rate at an even keel is the reproduction of immigrants and native social conservatives.


Real facts:
From CIA.gov for the US:
Birth rate: 14.16 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 8.26 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

US Births 2006 (per 1K) 14.1
US Deaths 2006 (Per 1k) 8.3

US Births 2005 (per 1K) 14.1
US Deaths 2005 (Per 1k) 8.2

Source: Infoplease


Bart, your opinions are not facts. Simply stating that over and over again is an insult to the participants of this discussion. Do you realize that by mixing accurate with inaccurate data in so deliberate a way, you make yourself vulnerable in an unlimited fashion? Like the boy who cried wolf, you'll have difficulty passing anything after beating a logically false political horse so often. And, yes, its pretty clear at this point you're firing purely political ammo. I do believe that the conservative viewpoint is underrepresented in this forum, but you're not helping that at all.


However, one can't completely discount that the possibility exists that liberals may decrease in number as the generations pass, and conservatives may gain. And, as the now apparent conservative motto goes, "Quantity has a quality all its own".
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Bart writes:
The immigrants are reproducing at above replacement rates.


Due to your highly political agenda, substantiate please. If for no other reason than to demonstrate remedial integrity.

Religious conservatives are right around replacement rates.

Due to your highly political agenda, substantiate please. If for no other reason than to demonstrate remedial integrity.

In my first post, I provided a link to one of my older posts with extensive links to this data. No matter how much you would like to disbelieve this data as "politics," it is a fact.

You're stating your opinions in an unsubstantiated way. After having seen one insult after another and one denial after another, I'm not inclined to go through you own blog posts. The links you provided did not substantiate the difference between your original assertion - that US population growth was at "even keel" and the actual facts.

Prove that birth rates from conservatives (and prove they are religious BTW) and immigrants are 'making up the difference'.

Bear in mind that the difference we are talking about is only the one in your mind, since its between 'even keel reproduction rates' (which you imagine) and reality.

Please. stop represent your opinions as if they were real or substantive and pretending anyone will believe. If, on the other hand, you can formulate something well thought out, I'm sure everyone would welcome that.
 

bitswapper:

"Gotta whole lotta breeding' goin' on...."

However, one can't completely discount that the possibility exists that liberals may decrease in number as the generations pass, and conservatives may gain.

But in just the last couple of years, the number of conservatives has dropped quite a bit, and liberals have gained. Breeding like rabbits, those lib'ruls must be. And I'm missing out on the fun ... but then again, I'm 53 and my sweetie ... well, that I won't say.

Cheers,
 

I think there's two points Professor Paulsen is making: first, is Roe an example of "good" constitutional law or "bad" constitutional law, and second, should abortion be legal or illegal?

On the first point, I have a hard time disagreeing with Paulsen regardless of my opinion on the secon d point.

I won't reiterate Paulsen's points, but I think it is fairly clear that Roe is not a decision that is particularly tethered to text or precedent or even to the larger currents in American history at the time the case was decided.

On the second point, it's important to remember that a reversal of Roe and its progeny will not cause abortion to be outlawed in the United States. Instead, such a decision by the Supreme Court would simply return to states the latitude to prohibit it entirely, prohibit it sometimes, or allow it under all or most circumstances.

Now, certainly, some state legislatures would pass bills that would prohibit abortion entirely. Others would enact laws that guarantee its availability quite broadly.

But, even here, we're overlooking something: namely, the role of state constitutions. Just because an individual is found to have no federal constitutional right to do something does not mean that state court can't find that, in that state and under that state's constitution, he or she does.

Such may well end up being the situation in a post-Roe world. Some state courts, on the basis of the statements of rights contained in most state constitutions, may find a right to abortion in those states. Other state courts, of course, may hold differently.

In any case, we'd have a patchwork of regulation in the abortion arena if Roe and succeeding cases were overruled.

But is that such a bad thing, in the long run? First, if there is in deed a consensus in society that abortion should be legal in most circumstances, at least until a certain stage of fetal development, then presumably that consensus will be reflected in the political choices made by citizens at the ballot box. Legislators, at both the state and federal level, are loathe to offend a value held by a clear majority, particularly when it is "close to the heart."

If you doubt that, look at what really happens when abortion is a campaign issue. For thirty-five years the GOP has used it to motivate people who sincerely believe abortion is wrong to vote for their candidates. Yet the Republican party, despite having had several chances to secure an anti-Roe Supreme Court majority (1987, 1990) ended up with presidents of that party choosing justices that are, at a minimum, neutral on Roe (Kennedy, Souter). If either of those two men were clearly opposed to Roe, it would be history by now.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Republican party has cynically used abortion to build its religious voter base. Meanwhile, the party's elite and power brokers know that an actual ban on abortion would turn the nation against the Republicans because, right or wrong, most people apparently do believe that abortion should be kept legal in most cases.

We see the same phenomenon at the state level. In state after state dominated by the GOP, abortion bills have passed the legislature. But, if there actually were any real chance of those laws taking effect (Roe prevents that), I'm willing to bet they wouldn't pass in the first place.

I have scrupulously avoided indicating my view on abortion as a moral issue here. I definitely have a view, but the point I'm trying to make is that (1) the current availability of abortion probably wouldn't change much, at least over the medium term, if Roe were overruled, and (2) our political dialogue and political dynamics in this country might be improved if politicians were forced to be honest about this issue and were prevented from manipulating people who have strong and sincere beliefs about it.
 

HL, for my part, the problem with Paulson's post isn't that he thinks Roe is unsound. It's that he makes an extraordinarily strong moral charge -- viz., legal abortion is tantamount to Hitlerean slaughter -- while supporting it with weak arguments and shabby polemics. I've seen principled attempts to cast human blastocysts as full members of the moral community, but this isn't one of them.
 

HL:

So, do you think that Brown I is "good law"? Is it "tethered to text or precedent or even to the larger currents in American history at the time the case was decided"?

Cheers,
 

Arne, you ask a great question. And, yes, I do argue that Brown is, in fact, tethered to the text of the Constitution - namely, to the 13th amendment and the 14th amendment. Both were plainly intended to eliminate the vestiges of government-sponsored inequality among the races. School segregation was clearly inconsistent with that commitment of the reconstruction era amendments.
 

HL:

Arne, you ask a great question. And, yes, I do argue that Brown is, in fact, tethered to the text of the Constitution - namely, to the 13th amendment and the 14th amendment. Both were plainly intended to eliminate the vestiges of government-sponsored inequality among the races. School segregation was clearly inconsistent with that commitment of the reconstruction era amendments.

Oh, but why not just leave it to the states to deal with? Various states had sufficient provisions in their own constitutions, and I'm sure that things would have settled out all right in the shuffle. Of course, Bolling needed attention, being a federal issue, but Brown? If you wanted your kids to get an education, you could move to, say, Connecticut, where the right to an educations is guaranteed in the constitution.....

Cheers,
 

I didn't say the states should be left to deal with the abortion question. What I wrote was that, if Roe and progeny are overruled, that would be the outcome and it is possible, maybe even likely, that some state courts would find a right to abortion in their state constitutions. Other states might pass legislation granting women access to abortion.

I have been careful not to express any opinion about what should happen to Roe here. I have expressed some predictions about how states might react to a decision to overrule Roe and indicated my view that some in our political scene have insincerely exploited some people's genuine anti-Roe convictions for partisan gain. I don't think any of those comments are particularly controverial and I have a hard time believing they are all that readily disputed, either.
 

Science demonstrates that all people are individual living human beings from the point of conception.

This must be the same "science" that denies evolution... lol

Back here in the real world, however, you would be hard pressed to find even one true scientist who could and/or would make such a ridiculous claim. A zygote is a potential human being -- nothing more.

Attempts to masquerade one's religious ideology as "science" is akin to painting a stripe on a turd... you can call it a race car, but that don't make it so.
 

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