Our First Area of Agreement: Nonviolence


In seeking to make sense of Dr. George Tiller’s murder, some have asked whether the current tenor of the abortion debate is at least partially to blame. In response to such criticism, opponents of legal abortion have been quick to distance themselves from the killing – with varying degrees of sincerity. Extremist organizations like Randal Terry’s Operation Rescue seem to suggest that the assassination was bad political strategy rather than just plain wrong, but more mainstream abortion foes highlight the obvious incompatibility between murder and an agenda billed as "pro-life." "We condemn this lawless act of violence," said the group Americans United for Life. "The foundational right to life that our work is dedicated to extends to everyone."

Abortion rights opponents often style the effort to end abortion after the Civil Rights Movement, in deference to what many believe is a moral equivalence between the two struggles. In this vein, some antiabortion advocates also seek to imitate – if not emulate – the nonviolent philosophy adopted by leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. As such, the antiabortion movement tends to use tactics that harken back to the fifties and sixties: marches on Washington, civil disobedience, and summers of mercy.

Whether or not one accepts this comparison as valid, Tiller’s death, or more specifically the angry war of words that preceded it, has raised the possibility that an essential piece of King’s nonviolent legacy has been absent from the abortion debate for some time: namely nonviolence itself. King’s vision of nonviolence went far beyond a mere call to refrain from physical attacks on one’s enemies. On the contrary, he believed that nonviolence is only truly possible if it is wholly manifest in all aspects of one’s action. So while King hated an unjust system, he refused to condemn his adversaries, preferring instead to treat them with charity and compassion. "Nonviolent resistance does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding," he wrote in his famous 1957 essay "Non-violence and Racial Justice." "It is evil we are seeking to defeat, not the persons victimized by evil."

Indeed, the struggle for racial equality adopted a much-different tone from the one which often characterizes the antiabortion movement of today. Whereas King called for a true social transformation in which hearts and minds were opened to new understandings, the abortion debate is more typically framed using the language of conflict, false dichotomy, scape-goating, and images of war. That which must be overcome is not a differing ideology, or even evil itself. More often it is "the liberals" – a mantra repeated ad nauseam on conservative talk radio – or some other personalized political demon. A "culture war" is afoot, we’re told, and the path to victory is less conversion than a snuffing out of countervailing thought through sheer political muscle.

Tiller’s assassination comes as many abortion rights opponents have ratcheted up a rhetorical war in the wake of President Obama’s election, prompting an uptick of verbal assaults on abortion rights proponents. Despite his efforts to bring all sides of the abortion debate to the table to discuss common ground – which should be universally construed as a monumental step forward for abortion politics – Obama is commonly referred to as "the most pro-abortion president ever." For his work, the late Dr. Tiller was known simply as "The Killer." But the rhetoric of violence is not confined to one end of the political spectrum. Abortion rights opponents are commonly called "enemies of choice" and "anti-woman" on the liberal blogs. Labels like these can do violence by dehumanizing and demonizing those who disagree. They extend a sword instead of an olive branch.

Let’s not forget that one of the hallmarks of war is that people get hurt. Another is that it leaves us in a state of perpetual impasse, fighting bitter struggles over seemingly unimportant real estate. So while the greatest danger of rhetorical violence may be the physical violence that it easily begets, we can’t lose sight of the fact that living in a state of constant conflict is profoundly unproductive. The Civil Rights Movement would not have succeeded if it had been known as the Civil Rights War.

I harbor no delusions that the highly charged atmosphere of modern politics provides any sort of fertile ground for the kind of nonviolence that King practiced and preached. Despite our best efforts, my own organization lapses into the rhetoric of anger and division from time to time, particularly when under fire from our political opponents. It’s occasions like these when it’s most difficult to remind ourselves that nonviolence is not the same as backing down. On the contrary, it is as much a moral principle as it is a means to an end – a way to win over those who disagree, and a way to find common ground.

Few would argue that the best responses to Dr. Tiller’s death should include guns and knives. But how many will tone down the rhetoric and call for love and kindness in the wake of this terrible act? According to Ghandi, himself one of King’s spiritual mentors, "courtesy towards opponents and eagerness to understand their viewpoint is the ABC of non-violence." As we begin this dialogue about common ground, it’s absolutely essential to model this comprehensive vision of nonviolence by working to bring a sense of civility to the abortion debate.

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  • jodi-jacobson

    for a thoughtful post.

    I agree that "nonviolence" would be an area of agreement.  But it seems to me that in talking about common ground, we are talking about many different things at once and these are not only not well-articulated, they are confusing. 

    The way we act and speak in interpersonal relationships is different from the way we characterize other people and their choices, and is different from the liberties we take in imposing our own moral and religious views on others, rather than living them for ourselves. 

    These are issues on which I think we may find common ground in one area and likely not another.  Another central area is the political realm.  It would be a good thing for example if we agreed to “nonviolence,” though I would characterize that more broadly than you might be comfortable doing, but I think that in the political realm, where real resources are concerned and where the access of real people to real services are in question, I am very skeptical about common ground because I believe that in fact when a “compromise” is found, it is most often the place policymakers stop, rather than the one from which we proceed.  I have seen this enough in my career to believe it to be a general principle.  Therefore, if we hear no outcry from those who oppose a woman’s right to choose abortion when Title X falls $300 million or more short of being fully funded, but pass a bill offering funding for “adoption services,” and leave it at that, we have not served women’s needs and I would bet we have not lowered either unintended pregnancies or abortions one bit.

    These are areas in which I think there is confusion when we speak about common ground and where being specific about what we are addressing would be helpful.

    1) The way we act and speak in direct communication about this issue.  That is something on which I believe people can agree, in principal and generally, though even as you point out:

        my own organization lapses into the rhetoric of anger and division from time to time, particularly when under fire from our political opponents. It’s occasions like these when it’s most difficult to remind ourselves that nonviolence is not the same as backing down. On the contrary, it is as much a moral principle as it is a means to an end – a way to win over those who disagree, and a way to find common ground.

    You, correctly, I feel, separate vigorous political debate from "violence." But how does this square with how you describe abortion?  I believe your own book with Alexia Kelley states that:

        "Each abortion constitutes a direct attack on human life, and so we have a special moral obligation to end or reduce the practice of abortion to the greatest extent possible."

    Doesn’t this type of language directly or indirectly support the high volume of rhetoric and the notion that “a direct attack on human life” is the justification of violence to protect it?

    2) Another area is characterization: The way we characterize the choice of abortion and even how we characterize women.  The way we characterize sex, contraception, sexuality, and so on.  How we speak about women’s rights, choices, and experiences.

    I am not so sure that we can find common ground here.  A central premise of anti-choice positions is that abortion is "bad," "immoral," "an attack on human life…". (It is also the central premise of the discussion of sex outside of marriage, sexual identity, gay rights and marriage and so on.)

    Another central premise/characterization is that "women suffer," they make "tragic choices," they are "conflicted" etc.  Yet another is that women have “abortions of convenience” whatever that means, and is a major story line even in some posts here.  I believe it is true that some women may suffer or feel conflicted about their own abortion, yet this does not stop them from making that choice. I simply do not believe–from both personal experience and the experiences of many women I know personally–that "suffering," "internal conflict," or other such descriptions are true of all women or even the majority.

    Certainly it is tragic for any woman, and her partner if there is one, to have to choose to end a *wanted* pregnancy, particularly late in the pregnancy, such as was the case of the women served by Dr. Tiller, many of whose stories have been told. But even these women made the best choice for them.  I felt it was tragic and was conflicted about having to sign a “Do Not Resuscitate” order for my father after he spent 9 months in the hospital with no chance of recovery.  But this was the best decision nonetheless.  We have conflicts we each resolve all the time every day. Abortion is a decision a woman makes based on her circumstances in a given point in time.

    However, the language of "tragedy," "morality" and suffering just is not accurate in many cases, for me, for many women I know personally, or for millions of women worldwide.  As someone who has traveled and worked in virtually every region and with women’s groups worldwide, I can tell you that in most cases the far more universal experience of abortion is relief, if in fact a woman can get access to safe services and/or survives an unsafe abortion.  I can tell you that women in every society, of every religion and at every time find ways to end unintended/unwanted pregnancies, whether or not it is legal. Indeed, as I am sure you know, complications of unsafe abortion are a leading killer of women through African, Asia, and Latin America, and in some countries, like Peru, *the* leading killer.  Yet I hear very little outcry about the profound lack of access by these women to essential preventive reproductive health services.

    I wrote about this in 1988 in a lengthy paper and virtually everything in that paper could be written today as we have not solved the issue of providing either effective prevention services nor safe abortion services.  Clearly, these women value their existing families, their own lives, and the moral consequences of bearing a child they can not support (and here I am not talking economics per se, i am talking about "support" in the lifelong emotional, physical, social and sociological sense as well as the economic sense).   They make their tradeoffs.  Who are we to characterize them?  This is an honest question and I believe a genuine source of anger and irritation among women in reacting to these discussions, especially when such characterizations are made by men.

    In fact, I would argue these characterizations of women’s choices are in themselves divisive and stigmatizing and completely deny the reality of women’s moral agency in balancing one set of principals against another.

    We can and should in fact listen, as Aspen argues, to women’s voices on this issue.  But in the end, the voice of any one woman in any one moment does not provide a guide for public policy that needs to be based first and foremost on the basic principal of women’s human rights because the next woman and the one after that may be faced with the need to choose abortion in yet another set of circumstances.  How I feel and react today in regard to my own circumstances should not be used to limit the choices of my sister or my neighbor or my friend.  Whether Jane Roe of 1973 changed her mind on her choices in retrospect is of no consequence to Jane Roe of 2009.

    3) Common ground on the imposition of faith in public policy?

    I am motivated by my faith to try to do good in the world.  I never have, however, and never will seek to impose my faith on others nor write the principals of my own faith into law.  This is a key area of confusion and lack of clarity in all of these discussions, I believe, and one that I am not sure we can resolve either.  We use the terms “moral” and “morality” as though there was a consensus on what this is or means, and there is not.  Could we agree to admit this and to stop using "morality" as though it were a singular concept?

    I won’t tell you how to practice your faith in your personal life.  I don’t want someone else, much less someone whose religious values I do not share, to tell me how I should behave or how I should feel, nor do I want them to impose their faith in law.

    This also goes again to how we treat women.  Is it necessary for those opposed to a woman’s right to choose to impose their own value system on everyone?  Is it possible for those who oppose abortion to say: "I am personally opposed to abortion, but I understand others are not, and even some that are opposed in principle themselves choose abortion when confronted with certain circumstances?"  Is it possible to concede the moral agency of others that is different from yours?  How can we reach more civility in this debate if my own moral choices and those of hundreds of millions of women worldwide literally are dismissed with no question?

    In short, I find it divisive to have other people of other faiths tell me what is moral, right, or ethical for me in an area of health and rights in which there is no religious, political or social consensus.  But I don’t see this ending because it would basically take the air out of the political tools used by those seeking to limit access to abortion to make their arguments.

    What are your thoughts on this?  Again, honest question.

    There are other areas of discussion on “common ground” that I think are key here, including how “common ground” leads to political compromises of the lowest common denominator, but this is an issue I will address in a post.

    For now, I would love to know more about how you see these issues.

    These are central, ongoing and unanswered questions for me in this new iteration of a "common ground" discourse that has been underway on women’s rights since at least the late eighties.

     

    Thank you,

    Jodi Jacobson

    • paul-bradford

      Jodi,

       

      You are such a thoughtful person, and your experience has given you such a breadth of understanding that you sometimes post entries that literally have too much grist for the mill!

       

      I’m going to overlook most of your post, not because it isn’t good, but because you’ve given us too much to handle.

       

      You say, "I am motivated by my faith to try to do good in the world.  I never have, however, and never will seek to impose my faith on others nor write the principals of my own faith into law.  This is a key area of confusion and lack of clarity in all of these discussions, I believe, and one that I am not sure we can resolve either."

       

      Speaking as a Catholic, I have discovered that it is absolutely counterproductive to bring Jesus, or God, or the Bible, or the pope or the catechism into a public discussion about the abortion issue.  It is enough to find common ground on the topics of human dignity and reproductive health without adding the burden of finding ‘common ground’ on religious disputes.

       

      I want to frame my discussions with non-Catholics around one single principle: "People have an obligation to treat other people fairly" and agree to leave all other ‘religious’ assertions out of the conversation.  You might say that I’m ‘imposing’ that faith principle on others and, if you do, then we really are at an impasse.  On the other hand, if we can agree to accept that principle we have a chance of finding common ground.

       

      I honestly believe that the vast bulk of my ‘faith’ is rooted in principles that even people outside of my faith can happily acknowledge as ingredients in their own ‘faith’.  What separates people into various sectarian divisions is oftentimes really fluff.  There actually is common ground — at least among people of good will.

       

      Paul Bradford

      Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    Jodi, are you suggesting that in matters about which there is no consensus (and what do you mean by this? 51%?) that we cannot enact public policy? We do not have consensus about whether or not homosexual should have the same rights as heterosexuals…are you comfortable following that argument where it leads? Also, ALL ethical first principles are theological in the sense that they are faith claims that cannot be proven. The claim that ‘a fetus is a person with a right to life’ is the same kind of claim that ‘a woman has the right to do what she wants with her body.’ There is no logical, deductive proof for either. Regardless of which public policy wins the say, someone will be imposing their faith claim.

    I think in order to have common ground we need to start with the idea that abortion is, in some way about which we likely not agree, a bad thing…and we should be trying to reduce them.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Dear Anonymous,

    Thanks for your note.

    You raise complex issues at the core of this debate about "common ground."

    First, I am not talking about a "poll-taking" consensus.  I do not believe polls should be used to determine what are fundamental and inalienable human rights, nor do I think polls should determine approaches to public health problems when the polls are contrary to all evidence, though unfortunately, we tend to do this.  We use politics in the place of public health and human rights all the time, to the detriment of real, living people. 

     

    Note the continued ban on needle exchange programs using federal funding, a completely political policy that contravenes all public health evidence–incontrovertible global evidence–that safe needle/syringe exchange prevents the spread of HIV among intra-venous drug users and between users and the general population.  Yet for completely ideological, religious and political reasons, we refuse to fund these programs. 

     

    Note also incontrovertible evidence that access to contraception–again global evidence–reduces unintended pregnancy and therefore the number of abortions overall.  But for political, religious, and ideological reasons we do not fully fund these programs here or abroad and continue to find ways to restrict them.

     

    We do not have a moral consensus, we do not have a religious consensus on these or other issues. Indeed even the public polls who that people don’t want to take the decision away from the individual woman, her family/partner, and her doctor.  This discussion, here is, primarily, right now, a religiously-based discussion, and comes from the perspective here right now of some religious views and even those only from institutional religious positions.  Clearly, while the Catholic Church as an institution has a position on contraception and abortion, it not only does not represent the majority of Americans, it does not represent the majority of Catholic women, who access contraception and abortion at the same rates as the rest of the population, even in Latin America. yet for some reason the position of the Catholic Church institutionally seems to dominate these discussions.  Why?

     

    There are different religious views within different religious denominations (as Debra Haffner’s post points out) on contraception and abortion, even within Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and so on.  There is no consensus on what is "moral" in this regard, as there is by contrast on the killing of a born person of any age.  Moreover, even the Catholic Church condoned abortion before "quickening" before it changed its own position.  Similarly, various countries in which Islam predominates have changed back and forth on whether contraception and abortion is moral or not (e.g. Iran and others).

     

    I believe there are incontrovertible human rights–and in these I include the rights of homosexual persons to marry, the rights of women to determine whether, when and with whom to have children–and these have basis in international agreements.  These rights are to me inalienable, and not to be subject to religious intrusion on a public policy scale nor imposition of one religious view on another.  I do not believe an embryo or a zygote or a fetus has the same rights as a woman, or any born person.  I understand others believe differently, and respect that, and also support vociferously their right to live their own rights according to those beliefs, but as i have said consistently do not feel they have the right to impose that belief via law, not only but in part because the vast wealth of public health evidence in view every single day of the year shows us that this will lead to the deaths of women on an even larger scale than we see now.

     

    And no, I can not support the claim that "abortion is a bad thing."  I am sorry. That is not for me to decide writ large for all women in all circumstances. That is exactly the stigmatization I am talking about.   I actually think it can be a good thing, the right thing, and I trust women to make that decision.  I feel unintended pregnancy is an unfortunate circumstance and one we know how and should act to prevent.  We know this.,  It is ideology that prevents us from doing it. 

     

    Preventing unintended pregnancy–all the evidence shows–will in turn result in a decline in abortions, which in turn are an unfortunate reality of unintended pregnancy just as surgery is sometimes the unfortunate reality of a medical condition. the fact that 90 percent of all abortions take place before 12 weeks tells me that women do their best to take action to end an unintended/unwanted pregnancy as early as possible, and that only laws and economics prevent them from doing so in other cases, notwithstanding other cases involving  later fetal anomalies and other issues.

     

    Finally, on the public policy question:  My point is this.  we can pass all the "feel good" legislation we want.  But unless it is legislation based on public health evidence and the real needs of real women, we won’t have solved any of the issues we are addressing here.  Morality won’t get us very far.  Good public health practice will.

    Thanks very much,

     

    Jodi

    • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com invalid-0

      Jodi,
      You write, I believe there are incontrovertible human rights–and in these I include the rights of homosexual persons to marry, the rights of women to determine whether, when and with whom to have children–and these have basis in international agreements. These rights are to me inalienable, and not to be subject to religious intrusion on a public policy scale nor imposition of one religious view on another.

      Where do you think these inalienable rights come from (since they don’t come from the government) and when do people obtain these rights?

  • amanda-marcotte

    Then we wouldn’t put "summer of mercy" onto the list of non-violent acts. Any and all attempts to bully and intimidate women trying to obtain abortion are not "non-violent", and I don’t care if you just pray at them.  You may convince yourself that you’re not being violent, but for the women thus assaulted, the hints of stalking and threats are taken as violent.  Threats are violence, and even if praying at and screaming at women is legally allowable threats, they have no relationship to non-violence.  

     

    Until abortion opponents who want to seek common ground denounce any and all attempts to use pressure, threats, privacy invasion, intimidation, or clinic door blockage, I’ll be skeptical that they’re non-violent.  As long as they maintain that women’s equal rights should be reduced, they should be ashamed of comparing themselves to the civil rights movement.

  • chris-korzen

    … that threatening and intimidating women does not qualify as non-violent.  Thanks for pointing that out.

  • invalid-0

    Regardless of which public policy wins the say, someone will be imposing their faith claim.

    Do you think it is at all equivalent to impose the claim “a fetus is a person with a right to life” as opposed to “a woman has the right to do what she wants with her body?”

    The latter allows room for those whose views differ to live their own lives in accordance with what they believe. The former does not—it forces everyone to live by that faith claim, with state power to back it up.

    I’d bet you’d be pretty pissed if Jews and Muslims decided to advocate for making pork products illegal.

  • invalid-0

    I think it will be difficult to find common ground if we can’t agree that abortions are ‘bad’ (again, perhaps for different reasons) and work together to try to reduce them.

    Let me respectfully continue to press this question: why is it OK to impose your faith-based claim about the rights of women but not OK for others to impose their faith-based claim on the rights of fetuses? The latter need not be connected to any faith claim of an institutional religion…though it is not clear to me that would make any difference if it were. Your ‘belief’ in certain rights being incontrovertible, from a true skeptic’s perspective, is just as irrational as a belief in a flying spaghetti monster.

    Also, I can’t help but challenge your assertion in the ‘incontrovertible’ (my ears always perk up when I see words like this) evidence that, essentially, more contraceptives = less unwanted pregnancies. In fact, there is evidence to suggest precisely the opposite is true. It is well established that using contraception gives people a false sense of security and they end up having risker sex with more partners and with those they have no intention of raising a child and with whom they will likely have an abortion. In addition, it perpetuates the idea that one is not responsible for the results of sex because ‘I was responsible’ and used a condom. Contraception also helps spur the mentality that children are tools of our will rather than gifts given to use with their own dignity which needs to be respected. Europe may have less surgical abortions than us, but this is largely because of the social structures in place for women and RU486…not because of promotion of a contraceptive mentality. Let’s focus on putting structures in place to help women and talking responsibility for one’s actions (for both sexes) instead of a mentality which will not lead to abortion reduction but in fact contributes to the attitude which makes abortion make sense.

    • jodi-jacobson

      Dear anon,

      You write:
      Your ‘belief’ in certain rights being incontrovertible, from a true skeptic’s perspective, is just as irrational as a belief in a flying spaghetti monster.

      Tooth fairy yes, flying spaghetti monster, no.

       

      Seriously….."rights" are not about "faith," or "belief" in the purest sense and my point is they need to be to some degree buffered from the vagaries of religious beliefs.  These are rights either clearly articulated and/or drawn from international covenants and agreements through extensive work with governments and through international bodies.  It is not a belief.  In fact, one basic human right is to be free of religious persecution and/or to be forced to practice a specific religion, into which category I would put the imposition of religious beliefs on women’s rights.  That in itself is a violation of basic human rights. 

      I would put gay rights into the same category.  Some religious institutions have a problem with same sex marriage.  No one and no law should force those institutions to marry same sex couples.  But by the same token, those institutions should not have the power to deny same sex couples civil rights in marriage or the right to marry under faith traditions that recognize gay rights, as do many.   The District Of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics courageously recognized this exact separation of church and state issue recently when it "denied a petition seeking
      a voter referendum to overturn a city law recognizing same-sex
      marriages from other jurisdictions, saying such a referendum would
      violate the city’s Human Rights Act."

       

      And we all have an ethical obligation, I believe, to use facts wisely.  So since I have extensively written about, linked and offered evidence throughout RH Reality Check on the links between contraceptive access and abortion trends, can you provide me/us with credible sources (and I mean a peer-reviewed credible sources) for your assertion of the following?

      It is well established that using contraception gives people a false
      sense of security and they end up having risker sex with more partners
      and with those they have no intention of raising a child and with whom
      they will likely have an abortion. In addition, it perpetuates the idea
      that one is not responsible for the results of sex because ‘I was
      responsible’ and used a condom.

      Thanks much, Jodi

       

  • invalid-0

    I think it will be difficult to find common ground if we can’t agree that abortions are ‘bad’

    We will agree that abortions are “bad” in the same way that open-heart surgery is “bad.” We will not agree that it is “bad” in the same way as murder, infanticide, or any other such criminal acts are bad.

    Let me respectfully continue to press this question: why is it OK to impose your faith-based claim about the rights of women but not OK for others to impose their faith-based claim on the rights of fetuses?

    Because you, and others who believe in the rights of fetuses, will continue to be free to follow those beliefs in your own lives. Your view ultimately comes down to restricting the choices of others, whereas ours is about letting everyone make their own choices in accordance with their own beliefs.

    It’s like with pork. If you’re a Muslim or a Jew (or a health nut), you are free to abstain from it. If you’re not, then you can eat as much as you want. Would it be better for Muslims/Jews to press for laws making pork illegal, so that no one can eat it?

    Also, I can’t help but challenge your assertion in the ‘incontrovertible’ (my ears always perk up when I see words like this) evidence that, essentially, more contraceptives = less unwanted pregnancies. In fact, there is evidence to suggest precisely the opposite is true. It is well established that using contraception gives people a false sense of security and they end up having risker sex with more partners and with those they have no intention of raising a child and with whom they will likely have an abortion.

    I take it, then, that you are in favor of removing seat belts from cars. After all, if people don’t feel that extra sense of safety, they’ll drive more carefully, and roadway deaths will drop.

    Removing guardrails from balconies will also reduce deaths from falls. People won’t hang precariously over the edge if they know there’s nothing holding them back—they’ll be a lot more careful.

    I’ll let Jodi address your assertion in a more informed matter. I’ll just say that, in the legal profession, this is what is charitably called “a novel argument.”

    • invalid-0

      I think this post is evidence that common ground, at least with someone like you, is a lost cause. You ignore the well established evidence that contraception does not reduce STDs and unwanted pregnancies and then simply insult those who disagree with you.

  • colleen

    You ignore the well established evidence that contraception does not reduce STDs and unwanted pregnancies

     

    This brings up one of the basic problems of dealing with the anti-abortion movement beyond their decades of terrorism, violence and criminality, namely the fabric of lies and distortions their movement rests on.

    FYI, There is no "well established evidence" that contraception does not reduce unwanted pregnancies. There is, however, OVERWHELMING evidence that contraceptives do quite the opposite and that is why women pay for and use contraceptives.

     

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.


    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • invalid-0

    Hey Jodi.

    Ah, so you have a contractual understanding of rights? Then it seems strange to call such rights ‘incontrovertible’ given that if we simply changed the contract those rights would vanish. Indeed, I’m not sure how you could appeal to gay marriage as a ‘right’ when the contract for a supposed right to marriage doesn’t exist and has never existed. Perhaps one could claim that a ‘right to marry the person you love’ is part of what it means to be a dignified human being (as I do)…but this, as you well know, is a faith claim.

    DC, one of the most contracepted places in the world, now as a higher rate of STDs than many places in Africa. The US has an abortion rate similar to that of Sweden. It seems that you can show some level of connection between abortion decline and contraceptive use…but aside from the complicated distinction between proximity and causality…the abortion rate seems to level off and continue strong even when contraception use has saturated a society. This is because, again, of the the failure rate of contraception, the riskier behaviors that people habitualize, the more partners they have, and the ‘thingification’ of children as mere tools of our will.

  • jodi-jacobson

    on those references.  Your data and the connections you draw are of your own creation–DC for example is a city of extremes of wealth and poverty and access to health care and STI and HIV rates are highest among the most marginalized, surprise, surprise, not to mention the ban on needle exchange that had been in place so long….but gee, let’s not bother with facts.  As for the rest of your arguments against contraception, I honestly don’t have time to deconstruct them and it is not worth it.

     

    This point however, is clear:

    the abortion rate seems to level off and continue strong even when contraception use has saturated a society.

    Indeed I never argued that we would eliminate abortion through contraception.  In fact, I have long argued quite the opposite.  I have always said, ands still maintain that there is no way to eliminate abortions.  There are only ways to make it more or less safe and accessible to women and more or less a huge contributor to death and disability among women.  No matter the law, women will seek to end unintended pregnancies to do what is best for them and their families.  There will always be lack of access, contraceptive failure, and other reasons for women to need access to safe abortion services, including fetal anomalies.  The issue and discussion here has been about "reducing the need for abortion."  Not eliminating abortion, which can not be done.

     

    And in regards to rights, you are invited to peruse any of the international human rights treaties, agreements, resolutions, and findings of international review panels on how human rights are constructed and recognized.

    Can’t do it for ya.

    I will say that just today the UN Human Rights Council passed a major resolution on maternal mortality and morbidity that speaks directly to that issue and about which I will be posting on RHRC.

    Would your initials be TG by any chance?  Or perhaps MG?

    Jodi

  • invalid-0

    This is because, again, of the the failure rate of contraception, the riskier behaviors that people habitualize, the more partners they have, and the ‘thingification’ of children as mere tools of our will.

    You are reiterating your views, and ignoring a direct request to provide evidence to back them up. In other words, you are talking out of your ass, and have nothing of value to contribute to this discussion.

    I suggest you turn off the computer, and go play a video game—it’ll be a more productive use of everyone’s time.

  • invalid-0

    Do either of you actually have a desire to reach common ground? Insults and dismissiveness are not the way to do this, right?

    As for backup for my views, I cite the pro-choice, pro-condom Harvard researcher Dr. Ed Green:

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=92702

    Sweden just upheld the right to sex selection abortions. They are saturated with contraception and have a similar rate of abortion to that of the United States. There is a huge gulf between having few abortions which, I agree, of which we will never rid ourselves and where we’d be even if we saturate ourselves to a similar degree. ‘More condoms’ is surely not the answer to attempt the traverse that gulf. But for many here (not saying you) the hidden agenda is just to promote a contraceptive mentality rather than actually come to common ground on reducing abortions.

    I take it you stand corrected about the ‘incontrovertible’ nature of rights then?

  • heather-corinna

    What’s a "contraceptive mentality?"

  • invalid-0

    Do either of you actually have a desire to reach common ground? Insults and dismissiveness are not the way to do this, right?

    You come on here claiming that contraceptives don’t do what they have been shown to do very effectively—lying about the facts, in other words—and you’re the one to tell us how a common-ground agenda can be achieved?

    As for backup for my views, I cite the pro-choice, pro-condom Harvard researcher Dr. Ed Green:

    He only backs up the view that an anti-AIDS program cannot consist solely of distributing condoms. Which we could have told you. The claims you made about contraception went far, far beyond that, and you’ve yet to offer a single shred of evidence in their favor.

    Sweden just upheld the right to sex selection abortions.

    They upheld the right to abortion, and rejected the argument that it was not permissible for this particular reason. Sex-selective abortion is not an abortion problem, it is a gender-role problem, and needs to be addressed at the level of cultural views on the relative value of boys versus girls.

    ‘More condoms’ is surely not the answer to attempt the traverse that gulf.

    The answer? No. Part of the answer? Hell yeah.

    But for many here (not saying you) the hidden agenda is just to promote a contraceptive mentality rather than actually come to common ground on reducing abortions.

    “Contraceptive mentality?” What is that supposed to mean? Does it mean the endorsement of using contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies that would then lead to fewer abortions? Because that sure sounds like a good common-ground strategy to me. Throw in some “comprehensive sex-ed mentality” as well, and we’re on a roll.

  • invalid-0

    The only “thingification” in the abortion debate is of women as nothing more than vessels – alive only to serve as “mere tools of our will.” If women have no access to contraceptives, have no right to say no to their partners when they demand sex, and have no right to abortion, they will be pregnant often leaving them with limited options for supporting themselves and their families. In every discussion, we must remember that there are TWO lives here to talk about. One a living, breathing human being (the woman) and another potential life that is only “alive” due to the living, breathing human being in whose body it is.

    From the anti-choice side of this debate it has nothing to do with saving “innocent children” and everything to do with controlling women. If the anti-choice movement was so interested in children, then they would actually care about what happens to the them once they are born too.

  • jodi-jacobson

    First, I suspected this was a "Ted Green" argument.

    Worldnet Daily is not to my knowledge a recognized peer-reviewed journal in which an article has been published on basic research with supported conclusions that are shared with and by other researchers.  Nor last time I looked was the Washington Post.

    Moreover, Ted Green supported the disastrous PEPFAR "non-prevention" policy under Bush, recently found by a Stanford University Study published in an actual journal to have failed to prevent new HIV infections and which, by extension, doomed untold numbers of women and girls to unnecessary HIV infection. That policy was, by the way, "common ground" of the Catholic Church and evangelical groups led by Rick Warren.

     

    Second, no, I do not stand corrected or retract my statements on basic human rights.  I don’t even know where you got that.  Sorry to disappoint.

    And Ted, if you are hiding behind anonymous, you might as well come out, so to speak.

    Jodi

  • colleen

     

    Worldnet Daily is not to my knowledge a recognized peer-reviewed
    journal in which an article has been published on basic research with
    supported conclusions that are shared with and by other researchers. 
    Nor last time I looked was the Washington Post.

     

    LOL! Jodi, you are WONDERFUL

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • invalid-0

    Jodi, that’s just a cheapshot…and not worthy of someone with a serious argument. I cited a well-established scholar who cites well-established studies to back up my claims. And, instead of debating what such academic arguments show, you take issue WITH THE LINK? Give me a break. Get back to me when you are interested in having a serious discussion.

    You retracted your claim that a right is ‘incontrovertible’ by claiming that all rights are simply the result of social convention. Once that convention changes, the rights get controverted.

    And, no, my name is not Ted.

  • invalid-0

    Is this the kind of rhetoric aimed at finding common ground? I don’t know any pro-lifers who are interested in controlling women. And I know a lot of them.

    It is possible to treat both women and their children as non-things. We can and should empower women to take responsibility for their actions…and to not engage in certain actions in the first place. We can improve adoption options. We can improve leave options. Improve options for getting resources from biological fathers.

  • colleen

    I don’t know any pro-lifers who are interested in controlling women.

     

     That’s odd because most ‘pro-life’ folks I know want to force women to carry to term children they do not want. And, as you can see from reading this thread, more than a few would deny women contraceptives. Many people, myself included, see this controlling behavior. 

    One of the main reasons i see little hope of finding common ground is because the religious right is so fond of denying reality.

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • invalid-0

    It’s honestly hard to know where to begin with this. I honestly came to this site hopeful that we could use rhetoric that would build charity and common ground. I’m NOT part of the religious right…nor are many, many opponents of abortion. Please leave your close-minded labels out of these discussions. I make the arguments I do because I think it actually ends up BENEFITING women…and, as feminists for life points out, this is what the social science backs up. Most of the leadership of pro-life organizations are women. More women than men are pro-life…which is not surprising given the wonderful tool that abortion and contraception are in continuing to exploit women sexually. Almost no pro-lifer wants to control anything a woman does…in fact, they want women to be totally and completely free to make sexual choices without male expectation or coercion. But then when the issue becomes one of civil rights, they will not sit back and watch anyone (man or woman) violate those rights.

  • invalid-0

    I cited a well-established scholar who cites well-established studies to back up my claims. And, instead of debating what such academic arguments show, you take issue WITH THE LINK?

    If this scholar and these studies were so “well-established,” they would appear in a reputable peer-reviewed publication. The fact that you seem to think this is superfluous shows that you’re really not interested in an evidence-based approach. I suggest you go to your local library, and learn how modern science is practiced, because right now you’ve got nothing to add to this discussion.

  • invalid-0

    That’s a disingenuous statement. Much of the pro-life position regarding woman’s reproductive choices is about controlling women’s behavior. That is the crux of the entire argument between the two positions. Your statement “woman…not engage in certain actions in the first place” says it all. Which actions would those be? Women having sex? Becoming unintentionally pregnant? Aborting? Birthing? These are moral and in many cases, religious values which should not be imposed upon everyone nor codified into law. Common ground must also include recognition that some woman will not simply not want to parent for whatever reason and they should have options. And that is when, in the case of an unwanted/unintentional pregnancy, abortion or adoption IS taking responsibility for their actions. You are absolutely right that we can treat woman as if they are non-things and instead as actual people with agency to make decisions (choices) based upon their lives and is the most qualified person to do so but we don’t when it comes to their reproductive choices, and until we can agree on that point, there is no common ground. Most of the ideas you cite are excellent ones but those ideas aren’t and have never been whole-heartedly or even half-heartedly supported by a good majority of pro-lifers. If they were, we’d already have better leave policies, resources for those who want to parent but can’t because of finances, guaranteed health care for mothers and children, and a host of other social policies the “pro-choice” side has been trying to obtain for everyone, not just women, for 30 years but which are usually rejected by the “pro-life” side.

  • invalid-0

    Part of what makes abortion such a complex topic is that there is no ‘crux of the entire argument between the two position.’ Indeed, people are often arguing about very different things. Pro-lifers, in general, see the fetus as the weakest and most vulnerable member of our species…one in need of special protection. They have no special desire at all to control the lives of women…they want to protect the lives of fetuses. Just as those fighting for the civil rights of blacks and women had no special desire to control businesses or schools. Indeed, many pro-lifers are conservatives and don’t want government control any more than necessary to preserve basic rights. Part of what is necessary to build common ground is to describe your opponents position with understanding and charity with fair-minded words. You are certainly not alone in this, but describing it as based on religion, as wanting to control women, etc. you create a strawman in order to ‘win’ rather than genuinely come together to find common ground.

  • invalid-0

    Its no less controlling to give the right to my body to a fetus than it is to give it to a man.

  • invalid-0

    Where do you think these inalienable rights come from (since they don’t come from the government) and when do people obtain these rights?

    Do you understand what “inalienable rights” are?

    These are rights that no one gives to you—you already have them, by virtue of being a human being. They can only be taken away by others (and often are, sadly).

  • jodi-jacobson

    Definition of incontrovertible: unable to be denied.

     

    Definition of inalienable: incapable of being repudiated or transferred to another; unforfeitable: not subject to forfeiture; "an unforfeitable right."

     

    Inalienable rights: "Natural rights (or inalienable rights) are rights which are not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs or a particular society or polity…."

     

    So no…your semantics are not correct.  inalienable human rights are just that, incontrovertible, inalienable, though often abused or abrogated by others seeking to limit rights according to their own ideology, as someone else here has already pointed out.

     

    Please see the body of law and policy, as i suggested earlier, that speaks to international agreements on the inalienability of human rights, including the rights of bodily integrity of persons already born, extant. 

     

    These rights do not change with social convention.  it is law or policy of governments or the practices of stigma and discrimination, inequity and denial of rights for one group by another that may violate rights…that makes them no less inalienable.  That, for example, certain countries limit the rights of free speech of their citizens does not call into question the right, it calls into question the level of accountability of governments and civil society to ensuring, promoting, and upholding those rights.

     

    And again, I believe, as I understand many others here do not, that it is the right of every woman to decide whether, when, and with whom to have children, language that is recognized in international conventions in existence for some time.

     

    Finally, no, I do not consider WorldNet or any other newspaper report a proof of scholarship.  Sorry.

    Thank you. Jodi

  • chris-korzen

    To echo Anonymous, I think it’s simply not true that those who identify as "pro-life" are of a common mind about abortion politics.  Take the recent Gallup survey, for instance.  51% of Americans identify as "pro-life," yet only 23% believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.  We can also infer from the data that a sizable chunk of those identifying as "pro-choice" support legal restrictions on abortion in some circumstances.  Similar results were found in previous Gallup surveys.

     

    Not only is this categorization of "pro-lifers" unfair, it’s really unstrategic – insofar as it creates a barrier to dialogue.

  • colleen

    We can also infer from the data that a sizable chunk of those
    identifying as "pro-choice" support legal restrictions on abortion in
    some circumstances.  Similar results were found in previous Gallup
    surveys.

     

     This brings us back to the issue of honesty and trust that someone is arguing in good faith. Polls taken at the same time as the Gallup poll and one in just the last few days reveal that an over 2/3rds of those surveyed don’t believe that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. I would be happy to provide a link upon request.

    My sense is that the lies surrounding late term abortions, namely that women can and do have late term abortions on a whim and for frivilous reasons and that the recently assassinated George Tiller performed such abortions have been accepted by far too many people and influence the results.

    Not only is this categorization of "pro-lifers" unfair, it’s really unstrategic – insofar as it creates a barrier to dialogue.

    Why is it our job to pretend to aspire to meaningful dialogue with
    someone who refuses to recognize that in putting the imagined needs of a
    zygote/fetus above the needs, desires, and freedom of conscience of
    individual women is intrinsically controlling and, for that matter,
    dehumanizing and deeply insulting?

     Likewise, I would like to see some acknowledgment from you that,  except for anomalies like Eric Rudolph who was an equal opportunity terrorist, the real violence has been entirely directed towards clinics and human beings who provide these reproductive services  to women. We, OTOH, haven’t blown up your churches nor do we stand outside your offices and spit on or, worse yet, ‘counsel’ the customers, we haven’t shot your leaders, we haven’t mailed fake anthrax to Priests for Life, we haven’t super glued your locks, we haven’t issued death threats,  we haven’t stalked…. we have not been violent. There is NO equivalency between the decades of violent and criminal acts of the anti-abortion movement and the pro-choice movement.  

     Why is it our job to pretend to aspire to meaningful dialogue with someone who refuses to recognize that  putting the imagined needs of a zygote or fetus above the needs, desires, and freedom of conscience of individual women is intrinsically controlling and, for that matter, deeply insulting? Abusive people and institutions  need to own and acknowledge their behavior.

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • invalid-0

    Colleen, you just revealed that you are not interested in meaningful dialogue. Why are you on this site?

  • invalid-0

    colleen has been a regular commenter on multiple threads on RHRC for well over a year. She doesn’t have to agree with you and has the right to hold her own opinion and to defend it.

  • colleen

    I’m sorry you misunderstood.

    In simpler form, I don’t believe that ‘meaningful dialogue’ is possible with those whose feigned denial is so great that they refuse to acknowledge simple and obvious realities. Two examples from this thread are the troll upthread claiming that contraceptives don’t prevent unwanted pregnancies and this present troll denying the abundantly obvious fact that forcing women to carry to term a child she does not want and/or denying  women access to contraceptives is controlling behavior.The only thing that comes from such right wing taunting and trolling is wasting other people’s time.

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • invalid-0

    Help me out. Why would someone hostile to finding common ground and engaging in meaningful dialogue be on a site designed to find common ground and engaging in meaningful dialogue?

  • invalid-0

    If you want to dialogue you cannot do things like question people’s motives, call them trolls, call them liars, and imply their stupidity for not understanding simple and obvious realities. You have to actually engage their arguments, presume their good will, and use fair-minded language. There are very smart, good, well-meaning people on both sides of this complex debate. A first step should be acknowledging this.

    If you cannot, you shouldn’t be on a common ground website.

  • invalid-0

    As a long timer myself, we get criticism of views and approaches expressed here all the time. She has the right to criticize common ground itself or anyone elses comments. If you find something violates the commenting policy you can flag it as such for the moderators.

  • invalid-0

    This website was not designed to find common ground. They have decided to dedicate a section of a reproductive health/reproductive justice site to the common ground strategy. People who otherwise are supportive of the website and their goals may agree or disagree that this strategy will work. I’m skeptical to say the least.

    Just because you may be new to the site doesn’t mean it’s here just for you and your purposes.

  • jodi-jacobson

    There are good and well-meaning people on both sides.

    But there is that saying by Oscar Wilde that "it is always with the best of intentions that the worst work is done."  (I may have it slightly wrong).  But you get the point. 

    One side feels they should tell everyone what is good, right, moral, proper, and in most cases "allowable."  In other words, how to behave, think, live their lives.  The other feels that there is a diversity of views, a mountain of evidence and an obligation to allow women particularly to act as their own moral agents. 

    These are divides.  I acknowledge the divide.  I acknowledge that good people believe that having an abortion is the wrong thing to do.  I do not acknowledge their right to tell me, my sister, daughter, friend, cousin, mother or great-grand daughter what to do, feel, think, believe.  That is the difference.  I acknowledge your right to live according to what you believe is right. 

    There is no scientific fact, for example as one poster claimed that a zygote or embryo is a human being.  That is a belief.  You are welcome to that belief.  I do not embrace it.

    The anti-choice side believes I should live according to what they feel is right, moral, sacred, etc.  I do not see a way around this.

     

    Here also is where I see at least one set of essential problems not really addressed in what you say about "acknowledgement," but inherent in what Colleen is saying:

     

    1) Solid public health evidence shows strongly, convincingly that access to contraceptive information and supplies averts unintended pregnancies and abortions.  I can and will post studies on this from reputable organizations.  Yet here we see people like Steve Waldman and others in the broader community on the "anti-choice" (I will explain my use of this term), constantly reiterating their "beliefs" about contraception and promiscuity without ever testing those "beliefs" apparently against the real public health evidence, and never answering questions about where their assertions come from.  we are each free to "believe" what we want for our personal selves but it is irresponsible, unethical and I would argue abrogates my right to freedom of religious beliefs for say Catholic or Evangelical Church institutions of conservative bent to impose their "beliefs" in law, especially when these run counter to evidence.  Yet the folks here on the anti-choice side mostly articulate beliefs, while the pro-choice side articulates evidence.  I have my own personal religious beliefs; I act in public policy on the evidence.

    Can the folks on this site who are not pro-choice acknowledge they are acting more out of belief most of the time than evidence?

     

    2) The issues of control of women are real and are indeed articulated here in many ways, both explicitly and implicitly….just run through some of the posts and see the "if we taught women to be responsible" comments that already are proliferating.  Many women and men rightly feel their sex lives are their own business, and their job is to be responsible to themselves and their partners, and defining responsiblity in regard to unintended pregnancy is their business, not the church’s, not my congress-person’s etc. I note for example that John Ensign, a Promise Keeper and Republican moralist of the highest order has just acknowledged an affair with a staffer married to another staffer.  I really could care less, except for the fact that the hypocrisy of his public moralizing and his private behavior is just one more daisy in the long chain of moralizers.

    We simply do not have a consensus here that women essentially are moral actors with moral rights that may or may not be in accord with the religious views of insitutional bodies or of male leaders who don’t even hold themselves to their own rules.

    Moreover, institutional religion is clearly not guiding women’s action.  Again, I state that women themselves, no matter their religious views, seek contraception and abortion at the same rates.  Fact.  Denying women access to these basic and fundamental services and methods is to create conditions in which more unintended pregnancies (not to mention other adverse outcomes) will occur.

    3) We don’t all think sex is "sacred" all the time, any time, or some of the time.  Diversity of views.  Each of us should decide what is sacred for ourselves and act accordingly and responsibly, with all due respect to David Gushee.

    4) In recent years, I have seen institutional religious bodies willingly put people at risk of illness and death, and also promote policies that have endangered women and girls so that they can get government funding to impose their ideology.  The USCCB for example secured a grant for trafficking work in Asia and then promptly cut out all the funding to NGOs there providing reproductive health services to victims of what was supposedly sexual trafficking.  We can no longer stand for this imposition of ideology through law and policy on women’s lives with no respect for evidence or fundamental human rights.  i could go on with other examples but won’t.

     

    These are profound and fundamental differences.

     

    I acknowledge the beliefs.  I do not accept them for myself nor to see them imposed on others.  Where do we go from there?

    Again, honest questions about the issues you have raised.

    sorry for the long post.

     

    Best wishes, Jodi

     

     

  • invalid-0

    “I don’t know any pro-lifers who are interested in controlling women.”

    Here’s one:
    “”To what end has this plague of abortion, this massacre of innocents, been directed? The pursuit of hedonistic pleasure? Women’s’ liberation? Liberation from what? So that a woman can engage in the pleasure of sexual intercourse without the demands of motherhood? No, this horrible slaughter has little to do with pleasure, but it has a great deal to do with the demands of motherhood. Radical feminists accurately see abortion as a women’s ultimate weapon in the battle to escape the control of men. The issue is of power, of having the power to call the shots. With abortion as an option, a woman can escape pregnancy. Abortion gives her the power to escape giving birth to a man’s child, a child she would otherwise be connected to for that child’s whole life, and who would likewise connect her to the child’s father.”
    Janet Crouse, Concerned Women For America, United Nations conference speech, 2005

    When people talk about ‘demands’, ‘ultimate weapon’, ‘escape’ and ‘control’ it’s pretty blatantly about controlling women.

  • invalid-0

    To make sure that those who actually might reach common ground don’t solve the problem by compromise, because the only solution they find acceptable is 100% all their own way. The 12% at each extreme can thereby prevent the 76% in the middle from moving forward, because in service of their they refuse all partial solutions and ignore the fact their rejection of actual workable solutions leaves real women in danger.

  • invalid-0

    “The issue is of power, of having the power to call the shots. With abortion as an option, a woman can escape pregnancy.”

    Janet must not have gotten the memo that she’s not supposed to talk about this openly. She’s supposed to worry about the poor, poor fetuses, and let the controlling-women agenda take care of itself.

    Crowepps, do you have good links to reference this? I found Michelle Goldberg’s article on the Gothamist, but are there any more direct accounts, maybe even a video somewhere?

  • colleen

    Radical feminists accurately see abortion as a women’s ultimate weapon in the battle to escape the control of men.

    crowepps, that is such a stunning example. How deeply deeply embarrassing for our country that such a woman was allowed to speak for us at the UN. I am horrified and appalled.

    Margaret Atwood was prescient.

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • invalid-0

    I, of course, don’t know this person…and this person certainly doesn’t speak for the pro-life movement (why our opponents pick the worst possible examples of our members and then make sweeping statements about the movement on that basis is yet more evidence that many of you refuse to play fair and honestly in these debates)…but even this quote is clearly motivated by the slaughter of fetuses. That’s what the author is motivated by. Again, are we really interested in common ground here? If so, then stop labeling whole tens of millions of people and and start speaking fairly about them.

  • invalid-0

    Jodi, your arguments could have been made about the slavery in the 19th century: “One side feels they should tell everyone what is good, right, moral, proper, and in most cases “allowable.” In other words, how to behave, think, live their lives. The other feels that there is a diversity of views, a mountain of evidence and an obligation to allow [business owners] particularly to act as their own moral agents.” When the issue is the moral status of members of our species we cannot retreat into privacy and choice. What happens in those situations is that the privileged and powerful dominate the marginalized and the weak. Like the good liberal I am, I will not sit by and let the powerful dominate the weak…I will attempt to use government power on those who would dominate in the name if justice. I actually think that the pro-abortion rights side is the one without science and facts on their side…indeed, they rarely engage the science and the facts because what they are arguing for doesn’t require engagement of such things. Regardless of what the science and facts say, we still retreat into a privacy framework. Pro-lifers on the ones showing the biological evidence of the fetus/embryo/infant, the sociological evidence of how paradoxically abortion ends up hurting women and make them less free, and the statistical evidence that STDs and unwanted pregnancies eventually RISE with contraception saturation in a society. The pro-abortion rights crowd (in general) doesn’t even engage these arguments because they just say (very republic/conservative) things like ‘stay out of my business.’ Another reason they don’t engage the arguments is because they have your mistaken view that pro-lifers don’t take the facts and science seriously…when, in fact, we take it far more seriously than those who revert to privacy-centered arguments. The key here is to actually listen to what people are saying, presume that they are not lying, refrain from ascribing to them hidden motives that serve your political agenda, and actually engage them with love, understanding, and an attempt to find common ground. I find the hate, judgment, dimissiveness, and outright slander in comments on a site this is supposedly building common ground absolutely remarkable. And utterly, utterly sad.

  • invalid-0

    Help me out again. A website named ‘on common ground’ isn’t trying to find common ground?

  • jodi-jacobson

    evidence of your claims.

    You say: "Pro-lifers on the ones showing

    • the biological evidence of the fetus/embryo/infant,
    • the sociological evidence of how paradoxically abortion ends up hurting women and make them less free,
    • and the statistical evidence that STDs and unwanted pregnancies eventually RISE with contraception saturation in a society.


    What biological evidence are we talking about here?  A blastocyst, embryo and even a fetus until after viability is not an "infant."  An infant is a born child.  Please provide scientific, biological facts from evidence-based publications because medical and scientific texts from reputable researchers and agencies do not engage the issue of "when life begins" in the way you define life, nor do they conflate these stages of development of an organism with a living breathing born person.  This is, once again, your belief, not fact.  You are entitled to your belief.

     

    What sociological evidence?  Please, I am dying to see this.  As a mother of two children who has indeed herself undergone an abortion earlier in life, I guarantee I am not only free, I am happy, not harmed, have had a good life, quite healthy and don’t harbor regrets of the decision I made 30 years ago.  Sorry.  There is no evidence–i have never seen such evidence–that the conditions you describe are verifiable conditions that describe the conditions of all women who seek and have abortions.  Individuals may feel regret, some may be bothered retroactively by their decision.  That is not a population level reality.

    and finally….

    the statistical evidence that STDs and unwanted pregnancies eventually RISE with contraception saturation in a society.

     

    What statistical evidence?  Where?  Not one person here has yet even linked to a single peer-reviewed study, not to mention a body of work showing this.  That the vast array of evidence in public health says the opposite (though I honestly have no clue and have never heard the term "contraception saturation,").  

    So I ask yet again: What evidence?

     

    If you don’t like contraceptives, don’t use them.  But having used them my entire adult life, having had but one contraceptive failure in 32 years of use, having avoided unwanted pregnancy for many years, and having had two bright healthy children planned exactly when I wanted them and was capable of raising them…..I really can’t even begin to understand what you are talking about.

    Jodi

     

  • invalid-0

    Jodi, your arguments could have been made about the slavery in the 19th century:

    Ah, yes, the abortion = slavery canard. Because forcing women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term is what freedom is all about.

    I actually think that the pro-abortion rights side is the one without science and facts on their side

    So you should have no problem providing reputable citations backing up said “science and facts” on your side, then.

    Pro-lifers on the ones showing the biological evidence of the fetus/embryo/infant

    Huh? Biological evidence? No one’s denying that there is a fetus or embryo there. Though technically, you don’t have an infant till after birth.

    the sociological evidence of how paradoxically abortion ends up hurting women and make them less free, and the statistical evidence that STDs and unwanted pregnancies eventually RISE with contraception saturation in a society.

    Sociological and statistical evidence for which you have yet to provide even a single reputable reference. Science doesn’t work like “The Secret,” okay? You have to provide actual evidence, based on actual studies. When you repeat falsehoods ad infinitum, you don’t make them true, you just annoy people and increase the noise level.

    Another reason they don’t engage the arguments is because they have your mistaken view that pro-lifers don’t take the facts and science seriously…when, in fact, we take it far more seriously than those who revert to privacy-centered arguments.

    Yes, you take it so seriously that you can’t even bother with anything resembling proof.

    The key here is to actually listen to what people are saying

    Yes, that would be a good start.

    I find the hate, judgment, dimissiveness, and outright slander in comments on a site this is supposedly building common ground absolutely remarkable. And utterly, utterly sad.

    I suggest you stop contributing to it, then.

  • invalid-0

    Well, apparently the writers participating are, but a lot of the commenters are here to sabotage it. :-)

  • invalid-0

    What do you mean ‘still waiting’? Some of those claims I just made. It’s this kind of nonsense that makes me question whether you have any interest in being fair-minded. Oh well, at least you appear to be interested in argument rather than a retreat into privacy and choice. If we take biology seriously (and, again, people interested in ‘choice’ generally aren’t…no matter what science says its still going to be a choice) then there is no distinction at all between the embryo/fetus/infant. They are all members of the species homo sapiens. This is a book that makes this argument without any appeal to religion at all: http://www.amazon.com/Embryo-Defense-Robert-P-George/dp/0385522827 See, you ask for evidence…but then appeal to your own personal experience as a counter-example? Surely you don’t mean that your own experience outweighs the scholars and studies I’ve already cited for you which says show that contraception, in general, promotes riskier sexual behaviors and the thingificaion of our children? Here is another scholarly work to back up what I’ve already cited: Jonathan Klick and Thomas Stratmann, “The Effect of Abortion Legalization on Sexual Behavior: Evidence from Sexually Transmitted Diseases”, Journal of Legal Studies (2003). Finally, look at Catharine MacKinnon’s essay ‘Privacy and Equality’ for the argument about how abortion choice actually ends up hurting women: http://www.amazon.com/Feminism-Unmodified-Discourses-Life-Law/dp/0674298748

  • jodi-jacobson

    And you are providing opinion.

     

    Robert P. George, about whom the book "Conservative Heavyweight," was written, has not analyzed nor produced public health data, tested and retested by others, showing any connections between contraception and riskier behavior.

    Nor have Klick and Stratmann, nor has McKinnon.

    These are conservative *legal* scholars, with their own biases.

    George, for example, is described as running:

    a kind of free-lemonade stand of advice for senators, congressmen, Catholic bishops, and evangelical leaders looking for effective arguments for defending, say, marriage as a heterosexual institution or the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.  If there really is a vast, right-wing conspiracy, its leaders probably meet in George’s basement.

    Not evidence, opinion.

    I have asked you for public health evidence of your contention that contraceptives lead to the behaviors you insist they do. The wealth of public health evidence says otherwise.

    Again, sorry, but this is exactly the problem.  These are his beliefs, interpretations of law, and his ideologies.

    If tomorrow I decide that standing next to a bed of tulips causes obesity, no one will believe me until I do the research, run the data, have it reviewed, publish it, duplicate it, examine and interpret it and it is tested and confirmed by others. 

    There is no such data for your claims.

    The notion of "common ground" must rest on agreement of the problem and the means of getting there.  Access to contraception has averted millions of unintended pregnancies and abortions over the past decade.

    The inability to understand and embrace this fact beyond ideology is  problematic from the vantage point of trying to agree on how to move forward because again, if you are interested in reducing unintended pregnancy and assisting women and men (including LGBT persons) in achieving healthy and safe sexual and reproductive lives, then we can all agree that there is evidence that shows us the way and enables us to move forward toward that end.

    Otherwise it is all about belief, and belief does not public health policy make.

    Best wishes, Jodi

     

     

  • invalid-0

    Jodi, here’s a novel idea: try reading the text. THEN make a judgment. Stop googling, start reading. The George text is 100% pure fact and argument. (Your judgments are so shallow and sweeping that you just did a little google research on George and then dismissed all the other authors…apparently missing that MacKinnon is a radical feminist!) You have asked for facts, scholarly arguments and statistics. I have provided them. Either because you are too lazy, too married to your own position to be willing to see an opposing view, or both, you have refused to engage them. And instead you have decided to make sweeping judgments based on what you have googled. You have proven what you are. And I will no longer engage with you until you read the arguments and have something intelligent to say in response.

  • invalid-0

    A website called RHRealityCheck that with the same exact commenting policy that applied to any other writers/collections they’ve run in the past.

  • invalid-0

    s/b ‘writers/series they’ve run in the past’

  • jodi-jacobson

    I am sorry to disappoint, but have read several of George’s writings, as I have read those of others in the conservative movement. I made this a habit long ago.

     

    And, also sorry to disappoint on this one, but I also know and have read MacKinnon’s work and it often is widely disputed by many feminists on several levels, but that is the point…we can agree to disagree without imposing our views on others.

     

    Still not public health evidence.

  • colleen

    You have proven what you are. And I will no longer engage with you
    until you read the arguments and have something intelligent to say in
    response.

    On the contrary, it is you who have proven what you are.

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • invalid-0

    I’ve read this site and other like it for months, now, but I’ve never been more hopeless that now reading about “Common Ground.” To some commenters here, common ground means they will allow women freedom, so long as it doesn’t violate the biological imperative of compulsory reproduction. It is shocking to me the shameful level of (willful?) ignorance about the real lives of women outside the rosy white and/or middle class Western culture filter, where women clearly do not have real choices as to their bodily integrity because they are desperately poor, uneducated, owned like property, bought and sold literally and figuratively like chattel, or are subject to cultural belief systems based on ancient bronze-era writings that put their putative eternity at risk if they don’t obey. Yet we’re worried that the small percentage of the world’s women who do have choices don’t choose to submit to their biological imperative?

    I’ve got a six year old daughter at home. Can somebody else please tell her she’s got something very, very special – half of several thousand potential “some ones” – buried deep inside so she’ll have to wait to be an astronaut or pilot or President until she hits menopause. I just don’t have the stomach to explain what “be all you can be” does and doesn’t mean right now. I mean, who is she to compete with half of several thousand potential “some ones”? Seriously. What a load to bear. Maybe she should stay home from kindergarten tomorrow and put her feet up… for the next 35 years.

  • invalid-0

    Of course, no one is forcing women to care for a child…or even arguing for this. No one wants to force women to have sex, nor to not give the child up for adoption. Even if you take your extreme situation of women presented above (which, of course, is not part of the situation in the United States…and this is the public policy argument we are having)…having the the choice for abortion is actually HARMFUL to women who don’t have control over their sexual lives because the person controlling them sexually will be able to control that aspect too and it won’t actually be a choice. Your argument actually cuts against the conclusion you want it to reach. Again, if you are going to engage your opponents, please be fair about what their position is. There is a monstrous biological different between the embryo/fetus/infant and ova. The former is an organism of the species homo sapiens with her own integrity, genetic code and interests…but the later is a gamete that belong to another organism. When you try to make your opponents sound silly by ascribing arguments to them that they don’t make, you undermine this attempt to find common ground.

  • invalid-0

    “Even if you take your extreme situation of women presented above (which, of course, is not part of the situation in the United States…and this is the public policy argument we are having”

    Yeah, because nobody in “this country” is poor, uneducated, or are subject to cultural belief systems based on ancient bronze-era writings.

    “Of course, no one is forcing women to care for a child…or even arguing for this. No one wants to force women to have sex, nor to not give the child up for adoption.”

    Of course no woman and certainly no children in “this country” are forced to have sex [/sarcasm]. Just if they do or have it done to them (wait, is that forced?), they they must not violate their biological destiny because, clearly, there is a “monstrous biological different between the embryo/fetus/infant and ova.” And I’ll just add for you since you forgot to mention – there’s a difference between embryo/fetus and alive, breathing, previously born infants, girls, and women.

  • jodi-jacobson

    If it is in fact true we all agree that non-violence is a shared construct/principle, then everyone here should be roundly and loudly condemning this action by a Republican Senator to obstruct the resolution condemning clinic violence, and advocating to each of their senators to remove this hold and to vote for this resolution.

     

    see here

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/06/19/anonymous-republican-senator-puts-hold-resolution-condemn-clinic-violence

  • invalid-0

    Hi Chris,

    As a person who is very involved in the Catholic social justice movement and knows Catholics United well, I must say that I was disappointed to see you use such nonviolent language in addressing your conflict with Catholics for Choice.

    I mean, I know we have all done nonviolence trainings and it seemed like all we learned was thrown out the window in your statement…I was going to copy and paste a sentence from your press release here, but it seems you have taken it down from your site.

    So, I guess I am trying to say that, yes, we all agree on nonviolence, but we need to practice what we preach — language and all. And, as you know, we can only take responsibility for our own actions.

    There is certainly room for disagreement and strong language in debates, but name-calling is a sure form of violence (no matter what the other side of the debate throws at you). I expected more from Catholics United. Perhaps you can explain your thought process in using this violent language?

    Thanks,

    Sarah

  • invalid-0

    I think the original point was that, if any rights are inalienable, then they came from a higher power and aren’t subject to the kind of moral relativism that allows some to look the other way when people choose to take away the inalienable right to life for the unborn. Any inalienable right is subsidiary to the right to life. You wouldn’t even have the right to choose (or the right to personal sovereignty) unless someone initially respected your right to life. Maybe we can quibble about where the government’s interest is in protecting these rights, but it’s hard to assert any right without allowing for the right to life.

  • invalid-0

    If rights are simply constructions, they can be deconstructed (i.e. not inalienable).

  • invalid-0

    Whereas King called for a true social transformation in which hearts and minds were opened to new understandings, the abortion debate is more typically framed using the language of conflict, false dichotomy, scape-goating, and images of war.

    It’s as if even religious organizations have adopted the wedge politics of Karl Rove, rather than focus on their own messages of reconciliation and redemption.

    Why do these faith-driven groups focus on salacious images of infants (living and/or dead), when, from a religious perspective, their real concern is (or seemingly should be) the souls of women and abortion providers, the broken relationship with God that abortion represents to people of faith, and the loss of hope in the future it implies.

    Why is it that the only obligation to end abortion implied by these groups is fulfilled in the voting booth, rather than in good works to make the world more hospitable to women and their children?

  • jodi-jacobson

    I have a question. Or two.

    You write:

    Why do these faith-driven groups focus on salacious images of infants (living and/or dead), when, from a religious perspective, their real concern is (or seemingly should be) the souls of women and abortion providers, the broken relationship with God that abortion represents to people of faith, and the loss of hope in the future it implies.

     

    I do not believe, nor does my religious faith teach me, that the souls of women and "abortion providers" are in danger nor that they have a "broken relationship with God."

     

    Nor does my faith teach that abortion represents a "loss of hope in the future…".

     

    Why is it that you see that I should live by a public policy position guided by your faith, one that I do not share?

     

    I have asked this question every which way and not gotten any answer from any one here:

     

    Why is it that so many people here and elsewhere concerned with abortion as a matter of faith, sin, morality (according to their own beliefs, to which they are entitled) seek to impose those beliefs on others, when we live in a pluralistic society in which freedom of religion is a
    founding principle, and in which our own constitutional law guarantees
    women the right to decide for themselves?

     

    Moreover, why is it that we are so focused on religion and beliefs when overwhelming public health evidence demonstrates that access to comprehensive reproductive health services reduces unintended pregnancy in the first place?

     

    Is there in fact anyone here from the faith community who opposes abortion willing to engage these two questions?

    Thank you.

  • chris-korzen

    These are good questions you pose, Sarah.  As I explained in
    my post, I don’t claim to be above the fray – and I recognize that
    it’s very difficult to maintain civility when others are launching
    unfounded attacks against against oneself and one’s friends. 
    Still, it’s important to try.

    I think it’s also important to recognize that sometimes there are
    no clear lines between using violence and using strong language. 
    There’s a time and a place to defend one’s position forcefully.

    Thanks for pointing this out.

  • invalid-0

    Because everyone’s ethics (including those of the pro-abortion rights crowd) are faith-based claims which cannot be proven. To exclude one groups faith claims from public policy, but accept another’s (especially given the huge regard for freedom of religion in our nation’s history) is blatant discrimination. Religion–and specifically Roman Catholicism–is very much interested in public health. Given that STD and unwanted pregnancies RISE when the mentality you want to endorse becomes saturated in a given culture, the Church is rightly suspect of it…not on dogmatic grounds. But on genuine public health considerations.

  • invalid-0

    Great, go to a catholic hospital, use catholic services if thats your belief.

  • invalid-0

    like the moral relativism of protecting life over anothers bodily integrity only when its a fetus and only when its a womans body used…any other right to life claim that requires anothers bodily integrity does not fall under the scope of “inalienable” protection.

  • http://www.cperryandcompany.com/openhouses/TX/Austin-TX-Open-Houses.asp invalid-0

    We are the first generation of Americans that appear to be more concerned about us than our ancestors. If you look back in history, God has only need to have a few real genius’s to move us to where we are now. The lives and situations of these people is all over the demographic map. Who knows how many of the people God had intended to be here to move our society foward have been killed in the interest of convenience to the mother / father that have decided to abort an unborn. It is very disconcerting.

  • invalid-0

    Who knows how many of the people God had intended to be here to move our society foward have been killed in the interest of convenience to the mother / father that have decided to abort an unborn.

    Who says these people would have moved our society forward? What if the next Charles Manson or John Dillinger never came to be because s/he was aborted?

    What about things other than abortion? What if the doctor who would solve all cancers in existence never came to be because his/her would-be parents decided to remain abstinent?