Balkinization  

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Pro-Life Movement After The Election-- And The Beginnings of Compromise

JB

The Washington Post reports on emerging ideas in the pro-life movement about how to reduce abortions without criminalizing them. Essentially, it involves increased support for social programs that will help poor women and families, under the reasoning that poor women without means are more likely to abort than women who are financially secure.

Since Obama's election means that Roe v. Wade will not likely be overturned in the near future, and since even if it were overturned many states would continue to protect abortion rights, some members of the pro-life movement have argued that the movement should focus on reducing abortion through support for pregnant women and social programs, i.e., through carrots, not sticks.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the pro-life movement is deeply divided over the strategy:
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said last week during a meeting of the conference that social-service spending is no substitute for legal protections for the unborn. He also questioned research showing that improvements in areas such as employment and health care can reduce the likelihood that a woman will want to end her pregnancy. "It's still to be proven what the connection is between poverty and abortion," he said.

Undeterred by critics, the activists are pushing for the passage of legislation that would increase funding for social services for pregnant women, such as low-cost health care and day care; provide grants at colleges for pregnant women and new mothers' education; and set up maternity group homes. Two House bills with backing from various groups are the Pregnant Women's Support Act, sponsored by Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.), and the Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act, sponsored by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who oppose abortion.

Those bills are largely opposed by antiabortion groups. "You don't work to limit the murder of innocent victims," said Judie Brown, president of the American Life League. "You work to stop it."

To preserve the coalition, activists have avoided taking positions on the more sensitive aspects of the issue, such as laws that restrict abortions, contraception, sex education and abstinence-only programs.

"There are certain things that we probably all can support, and then there are other things that we're going to disagree about, and you find common ground on what you can, and then you have a political battle on your other issues," said Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners.

Three things are worth noting here. First, opposition to abortion in the United States has never been purely about protection of unborn life at all costs. Rather, it has usually also been about support for traditional visions of motherhood, family formation and gender roles. That is why, for example, pro-life advocates rarely wish to punish women for abortions (as opposed to doctors), even though these women are hiring strangers to kill their children. It also explains why some pro-life advocates support exceptions for rape and incest, in which the fetuses involved are just as innocent. A focus on supporting women who choose the traditional path of motherhood-- as opposed to outright criminalization-- does not only seek to save lives, it also resonates with these elements of the pro-life movement.

Second, if you wanted to imagine how the U.S. would come to a durable compromise over abortion, it would probably look something like this new approach: Pro-life advocates continue to believe that abortion is immoral but agree that the criminal law is not the best way to solve the problem of protecting unborn life. Pro-choice advocates in turn agree to new social services and support for poor women that make it easier for them to choose to have children. (This is something that many pro-choice advocates will agree to because many of them also support expanded social welfare programs.) The result is a coalition of social justice pro-life advocates with traditional pro-choice liberals.

In understanding how this compromise would occur, you might make an (imperfect) comparison to changing views on contraception, premarital sex, and homosexuality. Many people believe (or believed) that each of these was deeply immoral, but increasingly came to accept that the criminal law was not the best solution to solve a moral problem. Abortion is different and will remain different because of concerns about unborn life, but if a compromise is to be found, it will likely be in this general direction.

Third, there will continue to be real problems with making any such compromise work. Pro-life advocates will still push for restrictions on abortion short of outright criminalization, restrictions which will often impact most heavily those poor women that the compromise seeks to protect. In addition, many pro-life advocates will resist changing their views on government programs providing increased access to contraception and sex education (other than abstinence programs), even though these reforms might significantly reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and hence the number of abortion. I think that pro-life advocates will have to give some ground on contraception and sex education if a durable compromise is to occur. At the same time, pro-choice advocates will have to give ground on some kinds of abortion restrictions. Such a compromise is somewhat closer to the compromise over abortion regulation that developed in European countries with well developed social welfare states.


Comments:

The idea of subsidy to encourage mothers not to kill their children and instead bring them to term is not a compromise where the the pro life community accepts abortion. Rather, the pro life community is looking for alternative ways to save lives while the pro abortion community is looking for a moral fig leaf along the lines of the canard "legal, safe and rare."

This idea itself is unlikely to make any substantive difference in lowering the roughly 1.3 million children killed in abortions each year. Except for the tiny number of therapeutic abortions meant to save the mother from death or serious bodily injury or the even smaller number meant to dispatch the children conceived through rape and incest, abortions are obtained to avoid the responsibilities of raising the children being killed. Unless the government is proposing to raise all children, a truly horrific idea, I doubt these peripheral subsides will change many minds.
 

Oh, if only the rest of us guys could be like little Lisa's bro and keep it in our pants, so "children" before birth wouldn't be aborted. But, hey, guys will be guys so that their deeds will just have to punish the gals and unwanted children. And let's punish the drug companies producing Viagra and the like abetting the situation. And then let's go after the masturbators so they won't take the law into their own hands. Meantime, let us sinners consider little Lisa's bro for sainthood.
 

Bart,

I don't think anywhere it is suggested this will cause pro-life people to "change their minds" or "accept abortion." It seems to me this is simply a suggestion to use somewhat different political agendas to accomplish social good. The two sides don't agree on what the "social good" actually is, but the hope is they both see the result as an improvement.

Incidentally, I don't think the pro-choice folks are looking for a "moral fig leaf." There are some who believe abortion is immoral, but that the state does not have the right to infringe on this course of action. Some people have similar views with respect to alcohol consumption, for example. They would presumably see this as govt programs to discourage immoral but legal behavior. Other people do not consider abortion immoral. They really don't care how many abortions occur, but see this as an opportunity to expand social services for poor mothers.
 

Professor Balkin,

I crave a boon: Do not call the woman-as-chattel/fetus-as-chattel extremists "pro life". Find some other term. Don't give these miscreants a spiked club of connotation with which to beat us about the ideological head and shoulders.

Pretty please.
 

michael:

m: I don't think anywhere it is suggested this will cause pro-life people to "change their minds" or "accept abortion."

JB: Pro-life advocates continue to believe that abortion is immoral but agree that the criminal law is not the best way to solve the problem of protecting unborn life.


By "accept abortion," I mean that Jack is suggesting that the pro life community accept that the government cannot take any affirmative action to stop abortion and simply agree to disagree on moral grounds.

The problem here is that there is no middle ground on this issue. After all the rhetoric is skimmed off, the debate over abortion boils down to one issue - is the unborn entity a human being.

If the unborn are human beings, then the unavoidable truth is that abortion is homicide. Apart from those few abortions that are committed in self defense to prevent the death of or substantial bodily injury to the mother, homicide is a fundamental evil about which there is no compromise. Perhaps the most fundamental duty of the state is to protect the lives of its citizens.

If the unborn are nothing more than "fertilized eggs" or "undifferentiated cellular matter," then abortion is no different from clipping one's fingernails and there is no need to compromise.
 

As always, Bart nails it! Compromise is impossible. Crazed leftists and their "sex education", "subsidized contraceptives" and "social programs" just want to prevent pregnancies in the first place. That's insane. Non-pregnant women don't have potentially-abortable fetuses. We couldn't be opposed to abortion if there weren't potentially-abortable fetuses out there!
 

everett, shag, et al:

My contention is simply that Jack's suggested compromise on abortion is impossible if one believes the science that we all begin our lives as genetically unique human beings at conception and that homicide is not a negotiable issue as do nearly all of the pro-life community.

I DO NOT WANT TO REHASH THE ARGUMENT FOR AND AGAINST ABORTION OR YOUR SNARKS.

However, if you disagree with my contention concerning Jack's suggested compromise, it would be interesting to see if someone can offer a viable "compromise" for those who believe that abortion is homicide.
 

Bart is right. There is no point in trying to find compromise with religious zealots.
 

LSR Bart wrote:-

"The problem here is that there is no middle ground on this issue....If the unborn are nothing more than "fertilized eggs" or "undifferentiated cellular matter," then abortion is no different from clipping one's fingernails and there is no need to compromise."

And the sub-text of the matter is that some groups of Christians and others wish to impose their particular convictions on these matters on others in a state which is officially secular.

There are many religions and sects who do not regard a foetus as even a potential human being until quickening and there is a very powerful argument for saying that it is no business of the state to restrict abortion in any way until at the earliest the time when the foetus is viable.

Knowing what I do about the psychological trauma that some women who have abortions suffer, I am very much in favour of all the social support necessary to enable a parent who wishes to keep a baby to do so.

But does Focus on the Family spend anything like the millions it spent on the California Proposition 8 campaign on providing homes for mothers to be, single young parents and the like?

I have looked through 2007 Focus on the Family Annual Report and it does not appear that any of the US$144 millions received that year went on such activities, nor indeed, on anything much other than propaganda.

So perhaps there is also an issue about practising what is preached.
 

Bart, you simply can't have it both ways. Years of vandalism, an insistence on drawing each and every conversation down into the mire, but on this folks are supposed to respect your wishes and desist? Feh.

Bart: "...our lives as genetically unique human beings at conception..."

Counselor, no one argues this point. The question is when do the inalienable rights of personhood vest. The greatest bulk of human history and practice argues that such rights vest with the first unassisted breath (e.g., "spirit" and "inspiration" share linguistic roots.) The ban on abortion was never, historically, about the potential person's rights, but rather the property rights of the chattel owning husband/father. Some of us are ready to move beyond the chattel view of woman and fetus. And some of you are sticking manfully to that view, under cover of nonsensical non-sequiturs such as the above quote, the abuse of which is perhaps the primary cause of the unrelenting snark directed at you.

Of course, you could always just filter and ignore those of us who annoy you too much. "Sauce for the goose...", and "if you can't stand the heat...", and all that.
 

Bart: "...our lives as genetically unique human beings at conception..."

Counselor, no one argues this point.


I do. If genetic uniqueness is what makes us valuable, I'd point to the recombination process that occurs in the production of our parents' gametes. Without that step, genetically unique human beings don't happen.

To protect the unborn genetically unique human being, we need to protect all gametes. Every sperm is sacred, y'all.

Taken to its logical conclusion, we need to have breeding programs and fertility monitors so that no gametes are wasted (and by wasted I mean killing the unborn genetically unique human beings).
 

mourad:

Whether the unborn are genetically unique human beings is an issue of science not of religious belief. I have never offered a religious argument to support my position that we are all genetically unique human beings from the point of conception. Indeed, the Bible, Talmud and Quran appear to be silent on this point.
 

This quote astonishes me:

""You don't work to limit the murder of innocent victims," said Judie Brown, president of the American Life League. "You work to stop it."

It strikes me that that is precisely what any moral society must do. Murders of "innocents" will always occur - at least, the historical record seems to indicate that. The questions are what you can do to make those murder less likely. Firefighters, police, and EMTs serve this purpose among others. Gun and drug regulation also tries to protect innocents. And there are social safety nets, like foodstamps, that keep people away from complete desperation.

To walk away from such tools, is like, well, throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Seems like a highly immoral position, to me.
 

Jack, this has long been a way forward, a way to common cause.

As Bill Clinton famously put it, abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. Most pro-choice folks would accept or enthusiastically support that formulation right now. If the anti-choice folks are ready to sign on, we have a way to move forward.

If the main concern of the pro-choice folks, moving forward, is safe and legal, then it's time to stop hounding doctors and harassing clinics.

If the main concern of the anti-choice folks -- and some of the pro-choice -- is rare, then it's time for widespread access to safe, effective, contraception, and support for social programs and pregnant women.

Safe, legal, and rare. I bet 90% of everyone could support that.
 

pms_chicago: "Every sperm is sacred, y'all."

You're not no one. I stand corrected (and raise a cyber-mug of Holy XXail from across the hall).
 

Bart writes:
I mean that Jack is suggesting that the pro life community accept that the government cannot take any affirmative action to stop abortion and simply agree to disagree on moral grounds


Actually, JB said:
Pro-life advocates continue to believe that abortion is immoral but agree that the criminal law is not the best way to solve the problem of protecting unborn life.

That's different than "government cannot take affirmative action". You seem to be trying to pigeon-hole him, which is a divisive stance. Its one thing not to compromise on principal, another to distort what others say. One is honest, the other dishonest.
 

jpk: "Safe, legal, and rare. I bet 90% of everyone could support that."

You present this as if reasoned discourse was an option any time in recent political history. What extremist Christian shills cannot admit, to themselves or others, is they have squeezed this issue through a reduction valve to make it a better wedge issue in the political arena. That's how we get nonsense like "life begins at conception", itself reliant on a generally anti-intellectual environment suitable to rhetoric of polarization. The extremist Christians are no more interested in solving problems than are the extremist Moslems. They'd rather throw bombs, ideological or otherwise.

With the election of an international interracial intellectual to the White House we have cause to hope for a reduction in that anti-intellectualism for at least the next four years, which in turn could well foster wider agreement over principles such as the one you offer. But I would remain wary of extremist Christians even if they seemed to be warming to some compromise. Based on personal experiences, here and elsewhere, I have misgivings about the ability of true believers to deal honestly.
 

@mourad,

Excellent work there, smartly spanking the SCCS with a "follow the money" argument.
 

Bart: "I have never offered a religious argument..."

I've often marveled at the extent to which extremist Christians disclaim religion as the basis for their various bigotries, be it woman-as-chattel stances on abortion or unjust discrimination against same-sex couples. There's an intellectual dishonesty that leaves me feeling soiled just from reading such.
 

bitswapper said...

Bart writes: I mean that Jack is suggesting that the pro life community accept that the government cannot take any affirmative action to stop abortion and simply agree to disagree on moral grounds

Actually, JB said: Pro-life advocates continue to believe that abortion is immoral but agree that the criminal law is not the best way to solve the problem of protecting unborn life.

That's different than "government cannot take affirmative action". You seem to be trying to pigeon-hole him, which is a divisive stance. Its one thing not to compromise on principal, another to distort what others say. One is honest, the other dishonest.


I believe my statement is accurate.

I am referring to the government taking affirmative action (criminal or civil) to stop abortionists from supplying abortions.

Jack's statement rules out government criminal action and I doubt that Jack supports taking civil action against abortionists.

The "compromise" to which Jack refers is attempting to use government subsidy to bribe women from seeking an abortion.
 

Overheard: "...government subsidy to bribe women from seeking an abortion."

Which one of you ordered the dish of inane, reductionist rhetoric, with a side of, "I don't want to rehash..."?
 

Does anyone here believe that it would be a legitimate compromise to allow a mother to lawfully kill her born minor child if the government would provide the mother with subsidies for her education and employment and her child's support and medical care to discourage the mother from killing her child?

I tend to doubt it.

If you apply the the science that we all begin our lives as unique human beings at conception, the above scenario is simply moved back from birth to conception and demonstrates why the pro-life community is unlikely to consider Jack's compromise to be legitimate.
 

as if reasoned discourse was an option

Heh. I know.

But imagine if unreasoned discourse, hysteria, and manipulators thereof became marginalized.

If 90% of us could live with safe, legal, and rare, then the 10% who want to rant, scream, and wedge, well, be our guest, but do it somewhere else, please.

And observe: I bet 90% of us are also fine with the goal that over time, rare becomes more and more so, eventually becoming very rare. If we accomplish that, those who would still scream will be even more marginalized.

Getting from polarized to consensus has its benefits. Civilized discourse may be a result of getting to consensus, not a cause.
 

Baghdad, you have made it quite clear that you see no room for compromise. That is a typical response for religious fanatics.
 

Bart: "...we all begin our lives as unique human beings at conception..."

Your relentlessness is matched only by your intellectual dishonesty. But it's slow here today, and I'm amused by your behavior, which is so very at odds with your plea that we not "rehash" this (and that we not snark at you).

pms_chicago has already pointed out the error of your position vis a vis "life begins at conception". Repeating your erroneous claims won't make them valid.
 

"Bart" DeBugblatter:

... the pro abortion community ...

No one is "pro-abortion". Essentially everyone thinks that abortion is at best the lesser of two poor choices. Please stop with this malign slur.

Sincerely,
 

we all begin our lives as unique human beings at conception

I suppose this makes identical twins problematic. But only if you insist on pretending that your opinions are validated by science, whether or not that's the case.

I could equally well argue that my life as a unique human being began with my parent's conceptions. I guarantee you mine depends on those. Likewise my grandparents'. How far back you want to go is arbitrary. We should never have executed Timothy McVeigh, as otherwise he might later have done something that resulted in unique human lives. Science says so.

Among the benefits of getting to consensus is general recognition that all such arguments are patent nonsense.
 

Do anti-intellectuals throw down "but science says!" because they think others will fall for it, or because they haven't the "sand" to distinguish a legitimate scientific claim from scientized propaganda? (Reminiscing the SCCS's confused reply to the "spirit/respiration" argument back in aught-six.)
 

bart depalma said:

…abortions are obtained to avoid the responsibilities of raising the children being killed. Unless the government is proposing to raise all children, a truly horrific idea, I doubt these peripheral subsides will change many minds.

And you find forcing people who do not want the responsibility of raising children to raise them anyway to be any less horrific?

How many unwanted children have you adopted, Bart? Unless the answer is > 0, I don't see how you any standing to be telling other people that they have to bear unwanted children.
 

Robert:

pms offered a red herring. The biological processes our parents go through in order to create our unique genetic structure at conception does not rebut the fact that we all begin our lives are unique human beings at conception. We do not begin our unique lives as sperm and/or eggs. Thus the argument that we need to protect sperm or eggs is a red herring.
 

hank gillette said...

bart depalma said: …abortions are obtained to avoid the responsibilities of raising the children being killed. Unless the government is proposing to raise all children, a truly horrific idea, I doubt these peripheral subsides will change many minds.

And you find forcing people who do not want the responsibility of raising children to raise them anyway to be any less horrific?


I see no ethical problem at all in compelling parents who voluntarily engaged in sexual intercourse to assume responsibility for the child they conceived as a result of that intercourse. Indeed, this would seem to be an ethical imperative to protect our children.

Rather, what is horrific is the idea that parents can kill their children to avoid their responsibilities and the corollary idea that unwanted children are better of dead.

No civilized person would even consider making such arguments if the child was born. One has to dehumanize the child prior to birth in order to make these arguments if the child was unborn.
 

Calling an assertion "a fact" does not actually make that assertion a fact, just as writing Q.E.D. does guarantee that which was to be demonstrated has in fact been demonstrated. But question begging is your long suit, and, like I said, it's slow today. Tell me again how your past N posts fit with your all-caps remark about rehashing and snark?

pms_chicago fairly and soundly showed the absurdity of your claim to "scientific" reasoning, if uniqueness is the criterion. If you insist on breach of the egg wall you will need to find another criterion on which to rest your argument. Why not man up and admit it's because Dobson tells you so? (or Coulter or Rush or ...)
 

Baghdad, you made your point about your fanatical refusal to compromise. You don't have to beat that poor horse any more.
 

Bart writes:
I believe my statement is accurate


That doesn't mean you're not distorting what JB is saying. You clearly are.

The "compromise" to which Jack refers is attempting to use government subsidy to bribe women from seeking an abortion.

Reading what he write, it doesn't look like that unless you really add to what he said.

Again, its one thing to simply stand against compromise based on principal, and another to add to what someone says in order to manufacture an argument. Doing the latter really undermines the former.
 

Hank,

Lie with the SCCS, rise with the fleas. Here's where he DePalma's a card: "...what is horrific is the idea that parents can kill their children to avoid their responsibilities..."

Now, that's a compelling statement with which most folks can agree. The cheat is with the words "children" and "responsibilities", and the technique is the SCCS's favorite, Homnomyny: "fetus" has been converted to "child" and "punishment for the sin of fornication" has been converted to "responsibilities". In the end it's the same old, "sex is a sin" and "women and children are property" line, just dressed up a bit for company.
 

"Bart" DeBugblatter drafts 'science' for a task that is beyond it:

My contention is simply that Jack's suggested compromise on abortion is impossible if one believes the science that we all begin our lives as genetically unique human beings at conception ...

Aside from the fact that science has little to say about whether an entity deserves legal protection as a "legal human being" (or how much and under what circumstances), he is simply wrong on the facts:

1). Identical twins are not "genetically unique".

2). Clones are not "genetically unique".

3). Your skin cells are as "genetically unique" as you (or the blastocyst you grew up from). Stop showering and save the lives of billions of innocents. And while you're at it, "Free Helen Lane!!!!"

4). Any random pair of gametes is as "genetically unique" as the zygote that would result from fertilization betwene these two. Cue Eric Idle: "Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is grand...."

5). A database containing the full sequencing of an individual is just as "genetically unique" as is the actual DNA.

6). Science doesn't say when "life begins".

Anonanon.....

Cheers,
 

Arne: ""Free Helen Lane!!!!""

Que?
 

Arne writes: (replying to bart) Please stop with this malign slur.

That takes away his only real argument.
 

On when we begin our life, science has little to say, as, from the standpoint of science, life began a long time ago, and we are all just manifestations of the process. There are stages, of course, as zygotes, blastocytes, and a stage that, to the biologically unaware, looks a lot like a red herring, I'm told. Then there's birth, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. After that comes old age and death, but that's not the end of life -- bacteria continue operating, in spite of the efforts of modern science.

In summary, science says a lot of things, and it never says them unequivocally. There's always some disagreement around the edges, and sometimes the experimental results are in question. But, in general, science has this to say about the subject: life goes on.

If you want to see the future of the abortion debate, look at the attitudes of the young. They don't even care much about it, by and large. I suspect that, by 2020, the single-issue voter who will be deciding based on abortion issues will be an endangered species.

I think, however, that talk of a compromise now is premature. I don't see the Democratic party powers taking a firm stand and risking the loss of voters for whom this is a deciding issue. What would they gain in return for the risk?
 

Robert Link: "...just as writing Q.E.D. does guarantee ..."

I swear there was a "not" before "guarantee" at one point. Sorry for this and any other typos.
 

identical twins are not "genetically unique".

And of course this fact isn't the problem. It's just a fact.

The problem is the crazed inference that therefore their lives as unique human beings have therefore not begun, which in turn somehow means that life begins at conception except of course for identical twins. Perhaps for them life begins later?

How one could even get trapped into such arrant nonsense is amazing albeit pathetic. When life begins we can all debate, but we must perhaps agree that life gets better when one stops believing that science validates one's preconceptions about life.
 

C2H5OH: "I think, however, that talk of a compromise now is premature."

Your notion that we've got time on our side sounds nice, but is it true? We have no guarantee that this election has ushered in some new golden age, and the folks that kept Clinton busy over a blow job are going to be all over Obama, doing whatever they can to regain power. So we might better, in some cases, make hay while the sun shines.

Also, I've heard similar thoughts about the same-sex-marriage issue: Time will bring things around. In that context the argument favors the extermist Christians, at least to any extent that it demotivates the current up swell of activism. (On the other hand, what activism there is is so poorly conceived and executed that maybe a delay intended to help the extremist Christians would help the LGBT get its act together. It's nothing short of stupid, strategy-wise, to rattle gates at churches.)
 

On when we begin our life, science has little to say, as, from the standpoint of science, life began a long time ago, and we are all just manifestations of the process.

Exactly.

As Samuel Butler used to say, a chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg. The full grasp of that little epigram is within the reach of any college freshman. The import is just as you note: science does not always validate the magical points in the process that some preconceive.

But that's the way it is. Science also does not validate a lot of preconceptions. We are not the center of the universe. There is not a hard line separating us from the other animals. Customs and cultures we practice are not the only ones practiced. The good news is, you will not sail off the edge of the earth.
 

Robert Link:

[Arne]: ""Free Helen Lane!!!!""

Que?


The poor Helen Lane lives on in laboratory dishes, principally for the sake of Cell Bio students nowadays, in the raiments of the HeLa cell line, immortalised in more ways than one.

While HeLa cells are quite "genetically unique", they contain polyploid chromosomes and not the normal complement for humans (although some humans such as Down's Syndrome children are also polyploid). But stem cells with a normal chromosomal complement also exist in culture, albeit probably subject absent intervention to the Hayflick limit WRT immortality. These stem cell lines are also "genetically unique", by "Bart"'s terminology, as are the skin cells you killed this morning....

Have you visited my "Civil Rights for Teratomas" page?

Cheers,
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

identical twins are not "genetically unique".

For the purposes of determining when our lives began, it is irrelevant that identical twins are genetically identical to one another, but rather that they are each genetically unique from their parents.

This fact is what puts the lie to arguments that unborn children are no different from a sperm or an egg and are thus simply a part of the mother's body to be disposed of as the mother sees fit.
 

::snort:: "SPAZBOTS" ::guffaw::

Now the rest of you have to go take a look.
 

The biological processes our parents go through in order to create our unique genetic structure at conception does not rebut the fact that we all begin our lives are unique human beings at conception.

Did an identical twin so begin his or her life? How about a chimera?
 

"Bart" DeBugblatter:

"identical twins are not 'genetically unique'."

For the purposes of determining when our lives began, it is irrelevant that identical twins are genetically identical to one another, ...


"... because I get to choose when some criterion applies and when it doesn't...."

... but rather that they are each genetically unique from their parents.

"... never mind that I am genetically unique from my sister and from Barack Obama. And that my sperm are 'genetically unique' from my somatic cells. And a host of other distinctions that could be drawn by that I'll ignore because they would detract from the 'significance' of the point I really, really want to make."

This fact is what puts the lie to arguments that unborn children are no different from a sperm or an egg and are thus simply a part of the mother's body to be disposed of as the mother sees fit.

But ... but ... but ... both the sperm, the ovum, and the zygote are all "genetically unique" compared to the mother's genetic complement. As are the Chlamydia and the Candida that are sometimes resident in her reproductive tract. Back to the drawing board.....

Cheers,
 

JB writes
Since Obama's election means that Roe v. Wade will not likely be overturned in the near future


Did the justices change? How, more specifically, does the Obama administration affect the agenda and likely ruling of the high court? Couldn't a state still pass a strict anti-abortion and try to push the issue up to the SCOTUS? Would they be more likely to passover such a case on Obama's account? (I may be missing something highly obvious, in which case feel free to throw beer bottles at me).
 

This fact is what puts the lie to arguments that unborn children are no different from a sperm or an egg and are thus simply a part of the mother's body to be disposed of as the mother sees fit.

I know where you're going with this, Bart, and I do appreciate the position. Of course, there's something special about a new mix of genetic materials.

The problem from an objective point of view is that if you hold that the sperm and the egg--which are genetically unique from the father and mother--are not independent living beings themselves, you have a problem with assigning that status to anything that comes thereafter up until the point of independent viability.

Extending legal rights (or "citizen" status, as you seem to be keen on doing) to said beings is problematic, as well. Obesity is known to correlate with spontaneous abortions; should we be forbidding women of child-bearing age from supersizing their fries at Mickey D's? Or should we codify the "no fat chicks" rule? Does the mens rea constitute malice, or is this "merely" involuntary manslaughter? Or is the death of the unborn citizen only a crime when a doctor is responsible?

When do our unborn citizens have rights? From conception? Really?

Given a live birth rate of 4.1 million in the US every year, and a 31% spontaneous abortion rate, that's 1.7 million citizens snuffed out--even more than were killed by doctors. Do they count? Shouldn't we be acting in their name, too?

I think there's plenty of room to compromise once "both" sides realize--perhaps after reading some long overdue Marcuse--that there are plenty of respectable positions between the two supposedly irreconcilable poles.
 

Robert,

I do not think that the demographics and sociology imply a "golden age". A byproduct of the trend toward narcissism is that caring about whether somebody else can get an abortion is not the obsession it might once have been. When people are convinced that the quality of life is going down the tubes, concern with moral issues fades.

For some discussion, see this.


This will be a statistical slide, barring catastrophes, but I think social and technological changes will render the question moot.

The result, again, is not going to be "golden." Everybody knows that golden ages can only occur in a past tense.
 

bart depalma said:

No civilized person would even consider making such arguments if the child was born. One has to dehumanize the child prior to birth in order to make these arguments if the child was unborn.

Or to turn things around, one has to equate a fertilized egg with a human being to be so eager to punish people for having sex.

Bart, suppose you were in a fertility clinic and there’s an explosion, starting a raging fire. On the floor is a doctor, knocked unconscious by the explosion. Next to the doctor is a sealed Dewar flask with 6 fertilized eggs. The eggs can survive for several hours in the flask, long enough to get them to another facility.

You have time to drag the doctor to safety, or to carry out the fertilized eggs, but not both. What do you do?
 

I think there's plenty of room to compromise once "both" sides realize -- perhaps after reading some long overdue Marcuse -- that there are plenty of respectable positions between the two supposedly irreconcilable poles.

I agree. Safe, legal, and rare is one such position. It accepts and even welcomes extremely rare. That should gladden the heart of both sides. And by now policy analysis and history have informed us on how you get there: safe, legal, widely available contraception, coupled with empowering women to control their reproductive decisions.
 

Bart: "The problem here is that there is no middle ground on this issue. After all the rhetoric is skimmed off, the debate over abortion boils down to one issue - is the unborn entity a human being."

While I agree with your previous claims, including that life begins at the moment of conception, I'm not quite sure this issue can be fought from the moral high ground at this time, but rather it must be fought on the pragmatic battleground, which is simply: "should the government act as a contraceptive device and should taxpayers shoulder the burden?"

Professor Balkin is right that both sides must compromise. We conservatives have got to give up something to expect a shift in public opinion and policymaking. I'm sad to say that as the last election has shown us, and given the current political climate, an all or nothing strategy may very well leave us empty handed.

Is abortion a public service? I think not, although it is arguable that unplanned pregnancies and unprepared parents can produce a future fetid cocktail for taxpayers to swallow, but whose responsibility is it when an accidental pregnancy occurs? Liberal political philosophy seems to dissociate the parties involved in acts from their consequences (whatever the topic of discussion). This is our challenge, not religion.

The legality and the "fairness," not the morality, is all that can be legislated. Our arguments of Judeo-Christian values are irrelevant when sitting down to a rational mediation with non-believers. Alternatively, these arguments can be made by religious organizations offering guidance to their flocks (so long as not outright support for a particular Party or Proposition from the pulpit. Pft!).

We should accept sex education in public school with additional instruction on the consequences of early pregnancy for the parties involved, having full legal and financial responsibility for their actions and no government intervention...and an extra Stretch Marks 101 segment and an "I Can't Go to the Movies Friday Because I Spent My Last Twenty on Pampers" video, as opposed to the current direction we're heading of unnecessary parental consent and avoidable disclosure for teen abortions.

For the next 4 years pro-lifers need to take baby steps. We've got to get off this argument of what's moral in exchange for the argument of what's equitable. You've heard this one before, and we've got to fight fire with fire.

The idea of subsidizing [even more] pregnancies (and especially abortions) is myopic. Although, I find it hilarious that mourad's analysis of FOF's annual budget concludes that the money would be better spent on housing for accidental mothers-to-be. Maybe they can call it the "Get Knocked Up, Win a House Program?"
 

Or we can just make it easier for mothers to abandon their unwanted infants without fear of legal (or moral) repercussions, therefore protecting the rights of the unborn by eliminating the fears associated with child abandonment.

Whether or not a baby becomes a real living being once it can sustain life on its own doesn't make much of an argument, either. It's arguable a 3 year old can't survive on its own. Is a paraplegic no longer a living being because he requires assistance from others to survive?
 

Additionally, would my wife & I also get a check for not aborting our expected son? Does everyone who doesn't have an abortion qualify?
 

Josh Mostyn wrote:-

"The idea of subsidizing [even more] pregnancies (and especially abortions) is myopic. Although, I find it hilarious that Mourad's analysis of FOF's annual budget concludes that the money would be better spent on housing for accidental mothers-to-be."

Josh:-

In the UK we also have the continuing debate between "pro-life" and "pro-choice" - with the significant difference that our abortion law is enshrined in legislation applicable nationally as is guidance for the school system.

One of the problems we have in the UK is a very high number of teenage (and repeat teenage) pregnancies. And yes, we do have a problem with a sub-culture among teenage girls at school experiencing problems with their parents which could be entitled "Get knocked up = get a house" - because that is factually true in the UK.

In the UK an unmarried pregnant teenage girl who decides at, say, age 16, to keep her baby and says to her local social services that she wants not to continue to live with her parents will get housing from the local authority (quality varies) but life on state social benefits will be pretty awful and social services support is "hit and miss". The prospects for this becoming a successful family unit are not good.

What is interesting in the UK debate, is that the Catholic Education Service is broadly supportive of the government's programme for reducing teenage pregnancies through appropriate sex and relationships education in schools while the Evangelicals are up in arms against it (the Catholic Church runs 2,000 schools within the state system, the Evangelicals very few).

Likewise, while the Catholics make an effort in the provision of voluntary support to supplement the minimal state support provision for pregnant teenagers, the Evangelicals do seem to put all their money into lobbying for "abstinence only" education and further restriction of abortion law.

And, yes, Josh, in Europe, families do get a cheque for not aborting their babies. In the UK the tax system provides a tax credit for every child and there are also family allowances paid. Nursery care for working mothers is also heavily subsidised.

It may be useful to look at the UK Education for Choice website and in particular their "Best Practice in Pregnancy Decision Making Support" booklet Download PDF here
 

Additionally, would my wife & I also get a check for not aborting our expected son?

I suggest that you refuse to claim tax exemptions for your children. It's a proactive way of letting the government know your position on supporting mothers. You could be like a modern-day Thoreau--just make sure your accountant isn't named Emerson...
 

Neither JB nor SFIK any commenter has mentioned the question of timing, surely an essential component of any compromise.

Should anybody object to efforts to ensure that any abortions are carried out as early as possible? Not even a supporter of the most extreme "fetuses are people" view, for whom their state of development makes no moral difference. (I suspect such people are in fact rare, as evidenced by strenuous efforts to lower cutoff dates, ban "partial-birth abortions", and so on. Perhaps these efforts are being made in bad faith, simply on presentational grounds to win over undecideds, but I doubt whether this is true in all cases.)

On the pro-choice side, advancing the date of abortions reduces the stress on the woman and on medical personnel, even if the fetus is given zero moral weight. And this latter position is also rare, as evidenced by the consensus that prevents third-term abortions.

The only coherent "pro-life" argument against enabling earlier abortions is that the measures required would make abortions overall easier to obtain (probably true) and increase their number (very doubtful).
 

@pms_chicago,

Hey now, Josh is the most even handed conservative voice I've seen here in ages, maybe ever. Don't go teasing him too hard until we've make him feel like part of the club, eh?

Aside from that, good point about extant support in the tax code for parent who don't abort.

Josh,

Bart's formulation is close, but the issue isn't the bright line of when a collection of cells become human, it is when shall the society vest in a collection of cells the inalienable rights of personhood? I've argued, as you've probably seen, that the traditional moment of the first unassisted breath is the best possible bright line. I appreciate your effort in articulating a conservative view here, and hope for a long and mutually edifying relationship.

Peace,

rl
 

james wimberly: "Perhaps these efforts are being made in bad faith, simply on presentational grounds to win over undecideds..."

That's one camp. The other camp is simply arguing from blind acceptance of authority, common in an anti-intellectual society. If only they were as rare as you think.

btw, the proper term is "dilate and extract" or "D&X", and the procedure was, according to at least one woman's reproductive rights activist, developed for women who were carrying a non-viable fetus, so as to give them something to bury and grieve over, which other methods would not provide. So an act of compassion gets spun by the woman-as-chattel ideology of extremist Christians into "Partial Birth Abortion" and the cause of actual equality and liberty for women takes another step back.
 

josh mostyn said...

Bart: "The problem here is that there is no middle ground on this issue. After all the rhetoric is skimmed off, the debate over abortion boils down to one issue - is the unborn entity a human being."

While I agree with your previous claims, including that life begins at the moment of conception, I'm not quite sure this issue can be fought from the moral high ground at this time, but rather it must be fought on the pragmatic battleground, which is simply: "should the government act as a contraceptive device and should taxpayers shoulder the burden?"

Professor Balkin is right that both sides must compromise. We conservatives have got to give up something to expect a shift in public opinion and policy making.


If your proposition is that Catholics and others may need to give way on contraception and other related issues in order to advance the core principle of life, I have no disagreement with you.

I have no problem in principle with state subsidy of the care of children or contraception. Indeed, when these measures almost certainly fail to make abortions "rare" or even appreciably reduce the current 1.3 million deaths per year, we have removed one more defense for this evil practice.

However, the pro life community cannot compromise on the central premise that life begins at conception and that all human life deserves protection. There can be no compromise here any more than we could accept compromise on human slavery. The idea that some people deserve life and freedom and that others do not is simply a non starter in a civilized society.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

james wimberley said...

Neither JB nor SFIK any commenter has mentioned the question of timing, surely an essential component of any compromise.

Should anybody object to efforts to ensure that any abortions are carried out as early as possible? Not even a supporter of the most extreme "fetuses are people" view, for whom their state of development makes no moral difference.


Actually, most of the pro life community believes just that.

Can you offer a principled bright line as to when a human being should become a legal person? I have yet to see such an effort that is not completely arbitrary, related to the mother instead of the child or would not also strip the born children and the disabled of their right to life.

Legislative attempts to divide unborn human beings into those who have a right to life and those who do not smacks of laws the United States enacted restricting slavery to Africans and then to African Americans as a means to forestall complete abolition.
 

The idea that some people deserve life and freedom and that others do not is simply a non starter in a civilized society.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 1:46 PM


Is abortion legal in Iraq? Maybe you could move there. It would solve all sorts of problems.
 

SCCS: "Can you offer a principled bright line as to when a human being should become a legal person?"

Asked and answered. Answered repeatedly. Note also the historical bright line of the first unassisted breath ("inflow of spirit"---"respiration") is not inherently woman-centric, even when wielded by proponents of equality and self-determination (i.e., liberty) for women. The "first breath" standard actually comes from the woman-as-chattel milieu.

Uh, is this another example of you "not wanting to rehash?" Methinks the lady doth protest too much, especially when you've got a losing hand from which your only recourse is to bluff and bluster.

(The "captcha" algorithm is increasingly humourous: I had to type "angst" to post this.)
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Can you offer a principled bright line as to when a human being should become a legal person?

Mine is basically the same as our legal criterion for death: higher brain function.

Someone who has been a living, breathing person but whose frontal cortex ceases to function is "brain dead." Similarly a fetus at less than 25 weeks gestation has not developed the nerve connections in the frontal cortex necessary for it to function, thus they are not yet a living human being.
 

@x-y-no: Yours is not an uncommon position, and it has some weight. I sometimes think it was the potential success of this kind of moderate approach which lead the extremist Christians to try to co-opt the "but Science says!" appeal to authority in lieu of reasoned argument.

Does the old "quickening" happen _after_ your standard?
 

Robert Link:

@x-y-no: Yours is not an uncommon position, and it has some weight. I sometimes think it was the potential success of this kind of moderate approach which lead the extremist Christians to try to co-opt the "but Science says!" appeal to authority in lieu of reasoned argument.

Does the old "quickening" happen _after_ your standard?


"Quickening" was foetal movement, and this requires nerve cell connectivity (and possibly brain function). But higher brain function may still be absent; the cerebral cortex matures later. And some people think that the death of cortical activity indicates "brain death" (i.e., PVS even with remanent brainstem activity such as breathing is nonetheless "brain death").

Cheers,
 

Bart wrote: "However, the pro life community cannot compromise on the central premise that life begins at conception and that all human life deserves protection. There can be no compromise here any more than we could accept compromise on human slavery."

I agree with you that our core values cannot be personally compromised; however, I'm not sure how several small legislative concessions now from the left don't help our case of pursuading the general public later to taking full responsibility for their own pregnancies, planned or unplanned.

What would you have us advocate? No abortions for any reason whatsoever? Not going to happen, ever. Abortions only in the case of rape and incest? I imagine the false claims of rape and the burden on the criminal justice system would create an even bigger problem for us...with relatively no affect on the abortion rate.

Abolition of slavery didn't occur overnight either...importation of slaves was first outlawed...and slavery was abolished in some regions before others by the Emancipation Proclamation (also see: Pennsylvania Assembly: "Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery" of 1780). Friend, be optimistic.

My point is that the focus of our debate needs to be more about personal responsibility. Until this virtue dominates the public landscape again we'll continue fighting uphill and never reduce the number of abortions.

I understand the concern of legitimizing the act by way of legal opinion (1973), but to counter it we need to first eliminate the legislative option of funding the abortions.

Mourad & PMS:

We already have a tax credit for dependent children, yes. Please remind me how this supports your assertion that tax credits will reduce the number of abortions. Is an additional $1,000 credit really going to pursuade potential parents that their economic decision to abort a foetus is misguided? $2,000? $10,000?

Again, who would qualify for this? Would either side conceide the ancillary effects this monetary incentive would have on the traditional family? Would any politician risk re-election?

Robert & X-Y-NO,

What's your stance on say...laws to prosecute someone who kicks a pregnant woman in the gut and kills her unborn child? Do you feel it should be treated as simple assault up to and including the 25th week of pregnancy and murder beginning the 26th?

Robert,

Thanks for the notice/head start...but I won't run. I'm sure my rational approach to conservative proliferation will haunt you as I slowly, yet methodically, destroy the liberal ideology one issue at a time. :P No need to pull any punches; I'm a big boy. Looking forward to the debate....
 

x-y-no said...

BD: Can you offer a principled bright line as to when a human being should become a legal person?

Mine is basically the same as our legal criterion for death: higher brain function.

Someone who has been a living, breathing person but whose frontal cortex ceases to function is "brain dead." Similarly a fetus at less than 25 weeks gestation has not developed the nerve connections in the frontal cortex necessary for it to function, thus they are not yet a living human being.


The distinction here is that, if a born person was diagnosed with a temporary loss of brain function with a 25 week duration, the law would not permit the disabled person's parents to kill her or even to withdraw artificial life support. Indeed, if the disabled person was a minor, the law would make her parents responsible for her medical care during those 25 weeks.

Why shouldn't the unborn be equally protected by the law?
 

Thanks, Arne. You confirm my understanding of things.

I have actually come to think my bright line is the best answer.

Here's an interesting frame: Abortion is illegal as a means of preventing abortion, about like prohibition made drinking illegal as a way to prevent drinking. Admittedly the matter of aborting a fetus is grave as compared with aborting a drinking spree, but the ineffectiveness of the prohibition on the general goal is quite similar.

We all agree, we all want zero abortions. Do we get there by anti-intellectual extremist Christian policies based on a belief that sex is a sin which must be punished? Or, do we get there by taking the stigma off of sex per se and wide spread education (celebration?) of safe sex practices?

Free condoms and encouragement to use them are a lot cheaper than the alternatives.
 

CSSC: "Why shouldn't the unborn be equally protected by the law?"

Because the inalienable rights of personhood shouldn't vest until that first breath. Until that first breath the fetus is part of the woman, no less than her teeth or toenails.
 

Josh: "What's your stance on say...laws to prosecute someone who kicks a pregnant woman in the gut and kills her unborn child? Do you feel it should be treated as simple assault up to and including the 25th week of pregnancy and murder beginning the 26th?"

Certainly not "simple assault". You a lawyer? Familiar, say, with the distinction between "simple assault" as compared with "mayhem"? Following from my argument that the fetus is part of the woman, like feet and fingernails, killing the fetus would arguably rise to the level of mayhem, don't you think? That would be the charge up until the thing stopped being the fetus and breathed its first breath. Only after that first breath, when the inalienable rights of personhood vest, could it be murder (or other forms of homocide).

And, hey, by way of cordial welcome, that's one _red_ tie you're wearing next to W. ;)
 

Josh: "Abolition of slavery..."

...is a red herring of the first water, qualifying as ToaC 29:

If you find that you are being worsted, you can make a diversion - that is, you can suddenly begin to talk of something else, as though it had a bearing on the matter in dispute, and afforded an argument against your opponent.

But it did inspire my prohibition argument.
 

robert link said...

BD: "Why shouldn't the unborn be equally protected by the law?"

Because the inalienable rights of personhood shouldn't vest until that first breath. Until that first breath the fetus is part of the woman, no less than her teeth or toenails.


What precisely happens when the child draws her first breath that makes her a person? Is that the point you believe that the soul enters her body?

A human being is equally alive and enjoys the same physical and mental faculties the moment before and after she draws that first breath. The only difference is that the child is receiving oxygen through a different process.
 

The distinction here is that, if a born person was diagnosed with a temporary loss of brain function with a 25 week duration, the law would not permit the disabled person's parents to kill her or even to withdraw artificial life support.

No, that's not a valid equivalence, because your example assumes a continuity of personhood. I could construct a hypothetical equivalence like this:

Suppose at some time in the future, it becomes possible to apply a therapy to brain-dead patients which reconstructs higher brain function with no trace of memory or personality related to the previous living human who had that body. Should it then be obligatory to bring such a new person to life, or should it still be legal as it is today to pull the plug?

I vote for the latter.
 

What's your stance on say...laws to prosecute someone who kicks a pregnant woman in the gut and kills her unborn child? Do you feel it should be treated as simple assault up to and including the 25th week of pregnancy and murder beginning the 26th?

There's no problem I can see with making the involuntary destruction of a woman's fetus a serious aggravating factor. I'm no lawyer but I'm pretty sure that, say, ripping a person's arm off is treated as a more serious crime than throwing a few punches.
 

Free condoms and encouragement to use them are a lot cheaper than the alternatives.

Yep. Coupled with a woman's power to require their use. There are societies and situations where all the free condoms in the world won't give a woman the power to say no to a man demanding unprotected sex.

Free condoms, other safe, legal, and available contraception, women's power over their sex lives, education, all beat the hell out of unwanted pregnancy, and all move the dial toward making abortion safe, legal, and rare.
 

Robert, I'm not a lawyer...but I am in the process of applying to law school. Did you see a picture of me on W's Facebook profile or something? Try Joshua Q. Mostyn.

The slavery red herring wasn't intended to be a distraction...only some optimism for my boy Bartholomew.

P.S. I'm not up to speed on my fallicies, but I'm pretty sure the mob won't be taking over the abortion business any time soon. So whichever one that is...
 

x-y-no said...

BD: The distinction here is that, if a born person was diagnosed with a temporary loss of brain function with a 25 week duration, the law would not permit the disabled person's parents to kill her or even to withdraw artificial life support.

No, that's not a valid equivalence, because your example assumes a continuity of personhood. I could construct a hypothetical equivalence like this:

Suppose at some time in the future, it becomes possible to apply a therapy to brain-dead patients which reconstructs higher brain function with no trace of memory or personality related to the previous living human who had that body. Should it then be obligatory to bring such a new person to life, or should it still be legal as it is today to pull the plug?


That is a very interesting and generally valid analogy. My only quibble is that abortion is affirmatively killing the unborn child and is not equivalent to withdrawing artificial life support.

Putting that issue aside, under the law, a person's right to life is generally not predicated upon the person retaining her memories and personality.

If that was the case, the parents of brain injured or mentally ill children who lost memories and changed personalities would be allowed to kill those children.
 

Mourad & PMS:

Please remind me how this supports your assertion that tax credits will reduce the number of abortions. Is an additional $1,000 credit really going to pursuade potential parents that their economic decision to abort a foetus is misguided? $2,000? $10,000?


First of all, I'd say there is a great difference between "increase[d] funding for social services for pregnant women...grants at colleges for pregnant women and new mothers' education...[and]..maternity group homes" and a redundant $1,000 tax credit.

Jack's point is that social programs may be able to assist in reducing numbers of abortions by complementing other indirect programs, such as contraception awarness, that seem to have had a measure of success in lowering the abortion rate in the US.

Given that 61% of women who obtain abortions give their reasons as "inadequate finances," "not ready for the responsibility," or "life would have changed too much," it makes perfect sense to address the underlying causes if one is trying to reduce the numbers of abortions. If this policy were sufficiently pleiotropic to address additionally the problems of young mothers who never considered abortion, so much the better. Supporting young families--even single parent families--is in society's best interest.

Optimally, a culture of responsibility would descend from the heavens and fill our minds, leaving us all responsible and careful adults. Unfortunately, we're required to make that culture ourselves. Given the fact that half of all abortions in the world occur in locations where the practice is banned, I'm not sanguine about the chances that an outright ban will work at all towards that end. What will?
 

The analogy to slavery is not a red herring.

There are certain fundamental and iinalienable natural rights including the right to life and freedom.

My analogy of abortion to slavery was limited to illustrating that, just as one does not compromise the fundamental right to liberty by condemning one segment of humanity to bondage, one does not compromise the fundamental right to life by killing off inconvenient children.
 

That is a very interesting and generally valid analogy. My only quibble is that abortion is affirmatively killing the unborn child and is not equivalent to withdrawing artificial life support.

Your use of "killing the unborn child" presumes your conclusion. My understanding is that without higher brain function, there is no person, hence no "child" to kill.


Putting that issue aside, under the law, a person's right to life is generally not predicated upon the person retaining her memories and personality.

If that was the case, the parents of brain injured or mentally ill children who lost memories and changed personalities would be allowed to kill those children.


Not the same thing at all, because while that child is arguably not the same person, they are nonetheless a person by dint of having higher brain function.
 

P.S. I'm not up to speed on my fallicies, but I'm pretty sure the mob won't be taking over the abortion business any time soon.

Josh, do you have ANY idea what it was like getting an abortion prior to its re-legalization in the 1960s?
 

My analogy of abortion to slavery was limited to illustrating that, just as one does not compromise the fundamental right to liberty by condemning one segment of humanity to bondage, one does not compromise the fundamental right to life by killing off inconvenient children.

I don't buy it, Bart. You wouldn't use the same analogy for habeas corpus, would you?
 

Bart DePalma opined:

…one does not compromise the fundamental right to life by killing off inconvenient children.

A fetus is not a child. That’s why we have different words for them. Calling a fetus a child does not make it so, no matter how many times it is repeated.

The process in which a fertilized egg becomes a person is a continuum. Anyone trying to define a magic moment when an egg and a sperm become a person is doomed to failure, because other people will find the point chosen to be ridiculous or outrageous.

There is a huge difference between an “abortion” caused by the use of birth control pills or an IUD and a late term abortion the day before the due date. It’s dishonest to pretend that they are the same.

Roe v. Wade, as maligned as it may be, at least recognized this difference. It may be a bad court decision, but it is in fact, a compromise. As such, I find it much more honest than the all or nothing positions taken by extremists on both sides.
 

PMS_Chicago said...

BD: My analogy of abortion to slavery was limited to illustrating that, just as one does not compromise the fundamental right to liberty by condemning one segment of humanity to bondage, one does not compromise the fundamental right to life by killing off inconvenient children.

I don't buy it, Bart. You wouldn't use the same analogy for habeas corpus, would you?


Sure I do.

American citizens enjoy fundamental rights to life and liberty, the latter of which is protected through the Great Writ.

Foreign wartime enemies enjoy neither the right to life or liberty.

Unborn children are not analogous to foreign wartime enemies in amy way, shape or form.
 

Oh come on ...

Unborn children are not analogous to foreign wartime enemies in amy way, shape or form.

Neither are they American citizens.
 

Hank Gillette said...

Bart DePalma opined: …one does not compromise the fundamental right to life by killing off inconvenient children.

A fetus is not a child. That’s why we have different words for them. Calling a fetus a child does not make it so, no matter how many times it is repeated.


A child is simply a human being who has not matured to adulthood. We are all human beings or living humans from the point of conception. Thus, we are all children from to point of conception until we reach adulthood.

The process in which a fertilized egg becomes a person is a continuum. Anyone trying to define a magic moment when an egg and a sperm become a person is doomed to failure, because other people will find the point chosen to be ridiculous or outrageous.

We all begin life as unique human beings at conception when we attain the genetic structure different from that of our parents that will guide our bodies for the remainder of our lives.

Regardless of whether someone supporting abortion finds the science to be "ridiculous or outrageous," conception is the only bright line point where we can legitimately argue that our lives began.

From conception, our unique genetic code guides our growth to adulthood. As you note, our growth and development starting at conception and ending at adulthood is a continuum.

To claim that we gain legal personhood and a right to life at some trimester, point of theoretical viability or at birth are purely arbitrary constructs because we are essentially the same human being before and after that moment in time. In contrast, we have no existence as unique human beings prior to conception. Therefore, logic argues that both our lives as human beings and our legal personhood should start at the point of conception.
 

If we're the same person from conception to adulthood, then fetuses should have the right to vote. And the little slackers should get a job, too.

Claiming others are picking an arbitrary point and claiming it makes all the difference -- and are wrong thereby -- is the height of hypocrisy, in light of the insistence that conception is the point at which everything changes.
 

Regardless of whether someone supporting abortion finds the science to be "ridiculous or outrageous," conception is the only bright line point where we can legitimately argue that our lives began.

So "Bart DePalma" makes a declaration ex cathedra and that's that. Right?

Sorry, but I don't recall your having been elected pope. And even if you were, I don't recognize papal infallibility.

I have given you an alternate bright line. Robert Link has offered another. Nothing whatsoever makes your bright line superior to either of ours.
 

"Bart" DeBugblatter:

The distinction here is that, if a born person was diagnosed with a temporary loss of brain function with a 25 week duration, ...

There is no "temporary loss of brain function" of any duration for a zygote or blastocyst. It doesn't have it, and never had it.

Cheers,
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Typo there:

"A human being is equally alive and enjoys the same physical and mental faculties the moment before and after she draws that first breath."

Should be:

"An ovum is equally alive and enjoys the same physical and mental faculties the moment before and after that lucky spermatozoum breaks through the zona pellucida."

There, all fixed up. No charge.

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DeDictator's new motto:

Sure I do.

American citizens enjoy fundamental rights to life and liberty, the latter of which is protected through the Great Writ.


Shorter "Bart": "Constitutional rights for citizens only!"

Hell, why stop there? How about "natural born citizens" ... or "citizens of high virtue"? The latter options find just as much support in the Constitution (and case law) as "Bart"'s first formulation.

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DeClueless needs 'bright lines':

Regardless of whether someone supporting abortion finds the science to be "ridiculous or outrageous," conception is the only bright line point where we can legitimately argue that our lives began.

This is what I thought when I was in my teens; a "bright line" is best; unambiguous and unarguable (leaving aside whether there truly is any true "bright line" there). Then I grew up, learned a lot, and came to the conclusion that precision and accuracy are not the same, and that precision that is inaccurate is worse that accuracy that is not precise (mostly for being intellectually dishonest in presenting the precision as an inherently good quality, when in fact such precision is generally useless).

We could say, for example, that death occurs when core body temperature goes below 80°F. This can be very precisely measured, and "time of death" determined to the nearest millisecond. That hardly makes such a precise rule particularly useful. It would be even worse if we were working with a miscalibrated thermometer that was quite capable of accurately determining a change of 0.01° but which was off by 15° across the board....

I've pointed this out to "Bart" previously. He's ignored it.

Cheers,
 

Foreign wartime enemies enjoy neither the right to life or liberty.

Aha! So "foreign wartime enemies" are not people. Logic says so, Bart, at least yours does.

Also, how do you know that a living, breathing human being is an enemy? How do you know you are not mistaken? And why does being "an enemy" destroy an "inalienable" right to life?

Oh yeah, here's another: Who has the right and the authority to label someone else an "enemy"?
 

PMS: "Josh, do you have ANY idea what it was like getting an abortion prior to its re-legalization in the 1960s?"

You're changing the subject to inadequate safety procedures of black market abortions? I wasn't arguing for the criminalization of the procedure...nor do I recall ever reading about territorial gang wars, bribery or extorsion conspiracies by 1960's abortionists pushing their unwanted services on the unsuspecting public. I know Chicago's rough, but goodness.

"Supporting young families--even single parent families--is in society's best interest."

How is this the responsibility of the federal government (read: taxpayer)? Where do you draw the line? How hard do I have to work to make sure everyone else gets a free ride? I thought we were discussing authentic, achievable compromise?

I'm an idealogue for believing in personal responsibility? What's that make you for arguing the government should pay for everything that's in society's best interest? Where's the accountability?
 

x-y-no: "Your use of "killing the unborn child" presumes your conclusion."

Pretty much anything the SCCS says falls into one or another of the tactics listed in Schopenhauer's "The Art of Controversy". This one, for exmple, is ToaC 6: Postulate What Has To Be Proved, a favorite of extremists everywhere, not just our local troll.

SCCS: "If that was the case, the parents of brain injured or mentally ill children who lost memories and changed personalities would be allowed to kill those children."

x-y-no: "Not the same thing at all, because while that child is arguably not the same person, they are nonetheless a person by dint of having higher brain function."

See ToaC 24: State a False Syllogism, of which the text says:

This trick consists in stating a false syllogism. Your opponent makes a proposition, and by false inference and distortion of his ideas you force from it other propositions which it does not contain and he does not in the least mean; nay, which are absurd or dangerous. It then looks as if his proposition gave rise to others which are inconsistent either with themselves or with some acknowledged truth, and so it appears to be in directly refuted. This is the diversion, and it is another application of the fallacy non causae ut causae.

I confess, I would like to reach the point where we a) ignore the troll, b) limit ourselves to the "shooting fish in a barrel" game of disputing the troll by reference, as in, "Oh, look, the SCCS has gone and given another ToaC24. You'd think he'd branch out a bit, just from boredom."

Who else could equate "zero brain activity" and "changed brain activity?" See ToaC 3: Generalize your Opponent's Specific Statements.

Might be fun to see how long it takes for the troll to hit all 38.
 

oh no Robert. I was starting to like you but you changed your argument from one of common sense and reason to a "logical" dissection for troll identification.

I believe this one's ad hominem.
 

I'm an idealogue for believing in personal responsibility? What's that make you for arguing the government should pay for everything that's in society's best interest? Where's the accountability?

Excuse me, but you're sloppy and inaccurate for attributing an argument that was not made. "Government should pay for everything that is in society's best interest."

Are you an ideologue? I don't know. But I do know this: it is possible to believe in personal responsibility and group responsibility. I rather think that if you fail to temper one with the other then your position is unbalanced at best.
 

Josh,

It was indeed a facebook page, but it belonged to a Josh Mostyn. Not you?

You wrote: "How hard do I have to work to make sure everyone else gets a free ride?"

Surely you are aware of the unspoken but quite arguable presuppositions of your word choice, yes? One might say your question is more prejudicial than probative, a standard with which you will become well acquainted if you do pursue law. If at some point you want to take a swing at these issues without the colorful, spin-art language, I'm all for it.

Personal responsibility? As in "I am only responsible for me"? As in, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Hmm? You were given a free ride just by winning the geography lotto and getting born in the US, the temporal lotto and getting born in the 20th century, the race lotto by being born white. (I stand open to correction on that last one if I'm in error.) So how much of your free ride are you morally required to share? Are you working to pull your camel through the eye of the needle? Aren't we instead supposed to be feeding the Master's lambs?

You posted while I was composing this one. I invite you to separate my relationship with Mr. DePalma from my relationship with you. You can choose to take it on faith or not, but he has well earned my enmity over the years. You, on the other hand, seem a swell fellow so far, and I have no objection to you or anyone else holding my posts to the level of scrutiny to which I hold Bart's. I believe strongly the general level of discourse would improve if all of us were conversant with and averse to the shoddy tricks of ToaC.

And on that note I'll leave the ball in your court, save that I will add an invitation to write me directly if you like, in furtherance of worthwhile discourse. You can get me at:
beau (at) oblios-cap (dot) com.

Peace.
 

I was asked, "Is that the point you believe that the soul enters her body?"

Me? Not hardly. Did you miss my argument about the memetic collective unconscious? Mine is a secular argument.

Odd that I don't recall you ever candidly revealing your religious affiliations, but perhaps not so odd considering you clearly think religious grounds are insufficient support for your opinions. Amusing, too, the way you and other extremist Christians, afraid to be caught arguing by the authority of some "Book", instead argue by the authority of "The Science", which, in turn, only shows that you and yours haven't the sand to understand the false god to which you kneel. Pity.
 

jpk wins the highly coveted "Best Comment of the Thread" award with: "Yep. Coupled with a woman's power to require their use." Word.
 

Overheard: "...one does not compromise the fundamental right to liberty by condemning one segment of humanity to bondage..."

Overheard elsewhere: "The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners."

Come again? Not that I really want to play, "How red is my herring?", but, well, I've enjoyed kicking you around the past couple of days.
 

Josh: "I'm pretty sure the mob won't be taking over the abortion business any time soon."

Josh: "...nor do I recall ever reading about territorial gang wars, bribery or extorsion conspiracies by 1960's abortionists pushing their unwanted services on the unsuspecting public."

Hmm. Looks like there's a flag on that play. Let's see, could it be a cheat using various connotations of "the mob", first invoked by Josh? I can never remember, is that extension or homonymy? Either way, it's a cheat. Remember, if abortions are outlawed only outlaws will have abortions. And, uh, the whole point of the conversation is that abortions are far from an "unwanted service". One can only speculate how many women died today from illegal, and thus unregulated incompetent, abortions, so badly they are wanted, needed. So, just as the mob gets to run the very wanted service of marijuana distribution (America's largest crop these days) you can bet organized crime will be looking for their cut of the illegal abortion trade, not in the least because every abortion offers the possibility of a nice black-mail revenue stream.

You were saying?
 

Bart DePalma pontificated:

A child is simply a human being who has not matured to adulthood.

And a monkey is simply a human being who has not yet evolved.

Therefore, logic argues that both our lives as human beings and our legal personhood should start at the point of conception.

So why won’t you answer my question about whether you’d chose to save one adult person or six embryo persons? Six to one, the answer ought to be pretty easy.
 

Arne, are you an undertaker by any chance? Have you been smoking the embalming fluid?
 

Apologies to Mattski. PMS didn't say that, did he? I played out the entire argument in my head for him. I won. A complete smackdown.

For the record, Robert: that's me. Hispanic/Caucasion. Google my full name, and you'll find your answer to my "personal responsibility" beliefs. Summarized: it isn't the government's job to force me to be philanthropic. Nor was it the government's responsibility to make me successful.

And now you're just being silly. I can't bring myself to respond to your mob tangent.
 

Josh Mostyn:

"Supporting young families--even single parent families--is in society's best interest."

How is this the responsibility of the federal government (read: taxpayer)? Where do you draw the line? How hard do I have to work to make sure everyone else gets a free ride?


Yes, shame on those little children for having the audacity to be born ... and born bastards even. We need to tell them they're welfare sops -- even "illegitimate" -- just so they don't forget it. The shame, I tellya. They should just have aborted themselves.....

Cheers,
 

Josh Mostyn:

oh no Robert. I was starting to like you but you changed your argument from one of common sense and reason to a "logical" dissection for troll identification.

I believe this one's ad hominem.


Here you're simply incorrect. Robert addresses (and ridicules) the 'argument' of our SCCS/LSR. Argumentum ad hominem is impugning the character or nature of one's disputant, and suggesting the false inference that because of the disputant's nature, the disputant's argument must be 'bad' as well (this is sometimes true but not logically required).

But that's not what Robert is doing.

Right now, I might be tempted to cast some aspersions on your forensics skills, but that would not be useful....

Cheers,
 

Josh Mostyn:

Arne, are you an undertaker by any chance? Have you been smoking the embalming fluid?

I'm the Blog Reaper; didn't anyone yell you?

Arne: "Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!"

Josh: "I'm feeling much better, really...."

<*Conk!!!*>

Cheers,
 

<&*Sheesh!*>

PMS didn't say that, did he? I played out the entire argument in my head for him. I won. A complete smackdown.

Not another freakin' "legend in his own mind".... Well, could be worse; could be another John Howard. Thank Gawd for little favours, I guess....

Cheers,
 

PMS didn't say that, did he?

I always assumed PMS was a woman?!

it isn't the government's job to force me to be philanthropic.

Well, that's a matter of opinion. It is beyond debate that we are rightly "forced" to pay the expenses of the State, which includes such basic services as the criminal justice system, the building and maintaining of infrastructure and national defense. The Constitution also mentions such Marxist Ideas as "insuring domestic tranquility and promoting the general welfare."

The million dollar question, as you have asked, is 'where do you draw the line?' The best lines are drawn after talking respectfully to people, lots of people. Especially people who do not necessarily share your assumptions.
 

I should add: It isn't a "line" we are drawing as much as a "process"--the democratic process--we are engaged in. Gov't policy ebbs and flows, if it were static we'd REALLY have something to worry about.
 

It may be inappropriate to josh about the libertarians popping up on this blog who do not seem to have libertine instincts. Sometime back I had posed the question of the difference between a libertian and a libertine which got this response:

"The libertine actually gets laid."

Passion conquers science, at least for the moment. (As a pre-teen back in the early 1940s, back in Boston, I learned: A stiff dick has no conscience.) Mistakes are made, often with suffering. When abstension fails, society must come up with solutions that are realistic, not throwing stones or starting a Trojan war.
 

Correction: "libertian" should be "libertarian." Sorry. No need to abort my prior comment.
 

Robert Link said...

Odd that I don't recall you ever candidly revealing your religious affiliations, but perhaps not so odd considering you clearly think religious grounds are insufficient support for your opinions.

What part did you not understand of my post that the Bible, Talmud and Quran are silent of when biologic human life begins.

This is an easy scientific question.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Hank Gillette said...

So why won’t you answer my question about whether you’d chose to save one adult person or six embryo persons? Six to one, the answer ought to be pretty easy.

In your case, I would have to allow the human embryos to die because under our law, it is highly unlikely they would ever be allowed to gestate and grow into adults. Most likely, they will be killed after I saved them.

This is a purely utilitarian decision and not one based upon their relative worth as human beings.

However, if the decision was between saving six pregnant mothers or the doctor, my choice would be for the unborn children even if the mothers were removed from the equation for the sake of the philosophical balancing.
 

However, if the decision was between saving six pregnant mothers or the doctor, my choice would be for the unborn children even if the mothers were removed from the equation for the sake of the philosophical balancing.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 9:22 AM


So you'd save the unborn "children" but leave the mothers to die in the fire?
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

In any case, I'm sure it comes to no one's surprise that you're taking the pregnant women "out of the equation".
 

Bart DePalma said:

What part did you not understand of my post that the Bible, Talmud and Quran are silent of when biologic human life begins.

This is an easy scientific question.


Of course, you’re the only one talking about this question, since the question of interest is when a fetus become a person, not when life starts. I don’t think science has an answer to that one.

Exodus, for one, clearly values a fetus less than a human being (of course, it also values a slave less than a human being).
 

I wasn't arguing for the criminalization of the procedure...nor do I recall ever reading about territorial gang wars, bribery or extorsion conspiracies by 1960's abortionists pushing their unwanted services on the unsuspecting public.

My apologies for reading other positions into yours. If you're a true fiscal conservative, we probably have more in common than you'd think. 1960s abortionists were, as you hint, actually quite decent for the most part, as they were doctors. They performed over a million abortions each year in flagrant violation of the law. Of course, some criminals take advantage of the people involved in their crime. Accounts from the pre-Roe v. Wade era are rife with stories of abortionists demanding sexual favors in return for their high-demand service. Regardless, that point argues against Mr. DePalma's all-or-nothing position, but I can see how it might not argue against yours.

If your point is that people shouldn't have to pay taxes to support other people they don't want to support, then conversation here is pretty much pointless. The point of society is to achieve collective goals that one can't achieve on their own; if we have no collective goals, there's no point in having a society at all. Thatcher is wrong: society is more than an aggregation of individuals.

If, however, we do have shared cultural values and related goals (such as reducing the amount of abortion), then working together is justified. Most Americans would agree that paying taxes is a great deal easier than volunteering time in clinics or joining the army, and given the loss of wages that they would incur in the latter situation, is a better economic choice overall.

The question becomes one of priorities: what deserves taxes and what doesn't? Can government programs reduce the number of abortions? Some programs have been terrible: abstinence training, as wonderful as the idea may be, has been a dud. Contraceptive awareness and availability, on the other hand, has made quite an impact.

I'm an idealogue for believing in personal responsibility? What's that make you for arguing the government should pay for everything that's in society's best interest? Where's the accountability?

First of all, I never called you an ideologue. Second, I never said that the government should pay for everything that's in society's best interest. That's simply the golden rule I use myself when evaluating government programs: is it in society's best interest? If so, I'm happier about handing over my hard-earned cash. Or is this a pet project designed to allow a few people to benefit at the expense of others? If that's the case, then no thank you, I'd rather my tax money not go in that direction.

Helping young mothers get their feet under them is always going to strike me as a good thing, as households are the backbone of the economy. They are the target of marketing, the inspiration for invention, and the consumer of production. I won't begrudge you your cumulative child-related tax credits that effectively negate my own tax contributions, because I understand that healthy families and households are critical to our nation's success.

If the presence of programs that support young mothers also serves to comfort those who are frightened by the prospect of carrying an unwanted baby to term, thereby resulting in a slight reduction in the number of abortions, then that seems like gravy to me.

Clearly, the best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. That may involve a different set of programs than the ones that the WaPo article mentions, but that doesn't in and of itself invalidate the results of the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good study.
 

The wretched Bart succeeded of course in hijacking the sub-issue that I actually raised. The question I asked was this.To repeat: accepting for the sake of argument the extreme pro-life view that all fetuses and conceptuses are of equal value to live babies, then what is the basis for objecting to making abortions earlier? He had of course no reply.

Jack: I suggest you ban Bart from the blog for consistent bad faith. Good-faith conservative responses to your fine posts would be worth reading, but as things stand he just gets in the way of the conversation. The analogy to Tim Lambert's Deltoid blog is invalid; this is intended as a polemical flytrap for scientific denialists.
 

Mr. Mostyn:

I'm having a hard time comprehending what you are hoping to achieve. On one hand, you seem to think it is time for compromise, that an all-or-nothing approach won't work, and that you want to reduce abortions. On the other hand, you seem to be against any government program to encourage women with unexpected or unwanted pregnancies to avoid abortion. What is your goal, and how do you propose to achieve it? Won't one of your principles (less abortions v. less government) have to give way to accomplish the other? Which do you choose?
 

"Bart" DeObtuse:

What part did you not understand of my post that the Bible, Talmud and Quran are silent of when biologic human life begins.

Ummmm, so is science.

I've said this before. You've ignored it (as you ignore every substantive objection to the crapola you keep shoveling).

And science has even less to say as to when "legal human personhood" should be conferred. If you disagree, feel free to devise an experiment that shows what you claim.

Cheers,
 

BTW, does anyone else find this amasing:

"... the Bible, Talmud and Quran are silent of when ..."

... that our "Bart" DeBugblatter is a Talumdic and Quranic scholar.

Will wonders never cease?

But "Bart": One thing has always piqued my curiosity WRT "the Bible": How many commmandements are there?

Cheers,
 

"Helping young mothers get their feet under them is always going to strike me as a good thing, as households are the backbone of the economy.

No. Productivity is the backbone. If all we had were a bunch of families sitting around collecting welfare checks...you do the math.

PMS: If your point is that people shouldn't have to pay taxes to support other people they don't want to support, then conversation here is pretty much pointless. The point of society is to achieve collective goals that one can't achieve on their own; if we have no collective goals, there's no point in having a society at all.

An interstate transporation system is a common good an individual cannot afford on his or her own. The national defense is a common good. A banking system is a common good. Single-mother housing? Federal grants to abort unwanted babies? This just pays people to get pregnant. These are called freebies.

nerpzillicus: On the other hand, you seem to be against any government program to encourage women with unexpected or unwanted pregnancies to avoid abortion.

What we need is a decent education system. Band-aids don't work on internal bleeding. Most social programs have "society's interest" at heart, but they're gross missapropriations of taxpayer funds. Get to the core issues and work on them.
 

James Wimberley said...

The wretched Bart succeeded of course in hijacking the sub-issue that I actually raised. The question I asked was this.To repeat: accepting for the sake of argument the extreme pro-life view that all fetuses and conceptuses are of equal value to live babies, then what is the basis for objecting to making abortions earlier? He had of course no reply.

Good heavens man! Didn't you just answer your own question?

If unborn children are the equivalent of born children, how can you possibly suggest a law that would allow parents to kill any of these children.

Are we supposed to applaud because you would prefer to kill only 500,000 children per year rather than the current annual death toll of 1.3 million?

As I posted the first time around, this is equivalent to claiming US laws that further restricted slavery from Africans to "only" African Americans represented a moral improvement which would make slavery acceptable.
 

No. Productivity is the backbone. If all we had were a bunch of families sitting around collecting welfare checks...you do the math.

Production means nothing without consumers. Check your own math.

An interstate transporation system is a common good an individual cannot afford on his or her own. The national defense is a common good. A banking system is a common good. Single-mother housing? Federal grants to abort unwanted babies? This just pays people to get pregnant. These are called freebies.


No one mentioned grants to abort unwanted babies.

Ensuring that every child has a roof above his/her head is at least as important as education in terms of the common good. In fact, it may be a prerequisite; stability at home leads to success in school. I've seen it time and time again in my own classes, and those are at the college level. I can only imagine that effect intensifies in earlier grades.

But why put money into the education system to reduce abortions? Can't you people just teach your own children and leave me and my tax money out of it?
 

James Wimberley: "I suggest you ban Bart from the blog for consistent bad faith."

James,

Our hosts have been quite clear that, even stipulating you are right about "bad faith", that simply isn't an offense for which they are willing to bounce people. I suppose it's a matter of principle, I'm just not sure which. One possible principle is that if we're not, as individuals, mature enough to simply ignore a troll as all net lore and literature suggests, then there is probably no point banning any given troll as there will always be another one along in time. That is a principle with which I would have to grudgingly agree. Another principle might be a sense of fostering discourse, a kind of affirmative action by which certain voices are cut more slack in order to keep a wide range of viewpoints. That is a principle with which I agree, but there is a difference between fostering a range of voices and turning a blind eye to vandalism, and in my mind this particular troll long since crossed that line. I think it would take truly vicious personal attacks to get someone bounced from this list. On that criterion Arne and I are probably closer to getting the boot that Bart. I have many times called Bart a cowardly, lying, cheat. (However, I did, on those occasions, have evidence of a) running away from fights, preferring new threads to ones where he was taking a beating, b) lying about what he and other people said, c) a consistent pattern of cheating ala ToaC. Perhaps that is why I wasn't booted at the time. More likely our hosts just have better thing to do with their time.)

Of course it remains that we each post here at our host's pleasure and whim. We have no rights whatsoever. balkin.blogspot.com is arguably Professor Balkin's private property "onto which we enter" on his terms. It isn't like a class room where students have certain rights to be heard and treated equally. It certainly isn't a governmentally sponsored public forum. Private property. Professor Balkin could certainly reserve the right to refuse service to anyone on any reason, and having been given the boot by one of the professor's peers (Bart was banned from Glen Greenwald's blog for calling Greenwald a liar once too often) would seem a perfectly justifiable reason. But our hosts clearly are satisfied to let the miscreant remain, and typically have expressed much more ire over requests to have the vandal bounced than at the vandal himself. Our only right in the matter is to not read or post here. The bootlessness of conversation so long as this dedicated, prolific, and skilled (giving the devil his due, he's good at keeping us all talking to or about him instead of each other or substantive issues) troll remains allowed to post here has caused me to take many long breaks from the joint.
 

Ensuring that every child has a roof above his/her head is at least as important as education in terms of the common good. In fact, it may be a prerequisite; stability at home leads to success in school.

I gave up on this thread too early.

There's an interesting article in last week's Science magazine discussing why human beings have more children than related species such as chimps, despite the fact that those other species mature faster and begin breeding at earlier ages. The current best answer is that human beings were able to provide family support groups which relieved mothers of some of the obligations of child rearing. This enabled humans to produce children roughly every 2.2 years versus chimps once every 4 years or so.

Turns out, it does take a village.
 

Bart evaded:

In your case, I would have to allow the human embryos to die because under our law, it is highly unlikely they would ever be allowed to gestate and grow into adults. Most likely, they will be killed after I saved them.


Did I not mention that the reason that you are at the fertility clinic is because six women desperate to have children asked you to pick up the fertilized eggs and to deliver them to the clinic on the other side of town?

Does that change your decision?
 

Production means nothing without consumers. Check your own math.

You suggest what? A third of us should labor, providing the other two-thirds with the cash to purchase the proverbial fruits? I've got a better idea. Google me and just send me your paychecks.

But why put money into the education system to reduce abortions? Can't you people just teach your own children and leave me and my tax money out of it?

I can teach my children. I can't teach my neighbors' children.

Teach a man to fish...and you can tax the catch. Does that cheer you up? It's time everyone starts paying their way around here.

We agree that we want productive families...not indefinite generations trapped in the welfare system, right? Let's not encourage any more 1st gen entrys.
 

PMS Chicago: Production means nothing without consumers. Check your own math.

josh mostyn: You suggest what? A third of us should labor, providing the other two-thirds with the cash to purchase the proverbial fruits?

I'm curious, josh, how you arrived at your putative interpretation of PMS's position? I see no evidence or causation, but rather your thought appears to me entirely pre-conceived, dogmatic and fanciful.
 

You suggest what? A third of us should labor, providing the other two-thirds with the cash to purchase the proverbial fruits?

I suggest nothing of the sort, and I (like Mattski) wonder how you arrived at such a nonsensical position. I'm only pointing out that all the productivity in the world does nothing for the economy if there aren't people to consume the products of labor. The household is the basic economic unit and the focus of most economic effort: thus, as I said, stable households promote a stable economy.

Be clear that when I say they're consumers, I'm not saying they don't work. In fact, if you reread Jack's post, you'll see that the programs being suggested are largely intended to make sure young mothers can still contribute to the economy: daycare so they can continue to work, and education so their careers don't need to end because of an unwanted pregnancy.

I can teach my children. I can't teach my neighbors' children.


Exactly my point. You need society to address larger issues. If you have an epidemic of abortion, you need to take action at the societal scale. Given that you aren't "arguing for the criminalization of the procedure," but are arguing against programs that have demonstrated success in reducing abortions in favor of "education," do you suggest we spend money on something that gets one result (reduced abortion) or something that gets multiple results (reduced abortion, healthier families, stable households)? That is to say, what is the opportunity cost of promoting an education-only agenda?
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

bah humbug .. the pro-lifers are only concerned with with abortion.. they almost never object to killing civilians in a "war zone" .. so they are mostly only "pro-life" on this one narrow issue ..

hyprocisy thy name is "pro-life" .. in terms of the abortion debate .. if you're never going to have one .. "mind your own business" .. no one in colorado springs has one whit of business involving themselves in the decisions made outside of one's immediate family .. just "mind your own business" .. it's as simple as that ..
 

Of course pro-lifers care about civilian deaths. We don't want to be in a war anymore than you do. Do you not care about people on the other side of the world suffering oppressive dictorships, like we do? You have a Darfur agenda, though, don't you? But Iraq's a Bush war...
 

Do you not care about people on the other side of the world suffering oppressive dictorships, like we do?

You lost me at "like we do".
 

How has this entire thread gone without a mention of Obama's support for the Freedom of Choice Act? That would seem to undermine these emerging ideas in the pro-life movement about abortion reduction.
 

no josh .. i DON'T care about people in far flung corners of the world suffering various maladies .. unless those maladies directly affect our national security .. we shouldn't engage american lives and american treasure unless our national security is at stake ..

war is a terrible thing sonny-boy .. it's not to be let out of it's box for mere neo-con wet dreams or slaking the fears of paranoia ..

go fight one.. on the front lines .. not from behind a desk at JAG .. and get back to us .. eh ..

which is merely an international version of "mind your bidness" ..
 

Jkat:

[to Josh Mostyn]: go fight one.. on the front lines .. not from behind a desk at JAG .. and get back to us .. eh ...

Josh is young (thinking of going to law school). He sounds just the right age to go enlist and do hos duty as his preznit sees fit....

Or maybe he's a Young Republican who knows how to fight wars ... and who should fight them and how....

Cheers,
 

Today President Obama stated . . . While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make . . .

If the pro-life movement really wants to reduce abortions without criminalizing them, it now has a President it can find common ground with. I suggest there is a big opportunity to dramatically decrease the number of abortions.
 

We all agree, we all want zero abortions.No, "we" do not all agree. I'm surprised that I even have to say this, but decisions about life and health issues ought to be the woman's prerogative. These issues cannot be legislated away.

Besides, to empower the state with the ability to decide whether or not each and every abortive act is legitimate, effectively relegates women to the status of chattel.

Prosecutors wishing to curry favor with pro-life zealots can begin harassing abortion providers to the point where no provider is willing to risk an abortion for any reason whatever.
 

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