What Now? Colorado Groups Seek “Personhood” For Cells


A version of the anti-abortion initiative soundly defeated by Colorado voters in 2008 is making its way to the 2010 ballot, this time reworked as an “egg-as-a-person” initiative.

This new version would move the legal definition of a person further
back into the reproductive cycle, granting cells the full spectrum of
citizen rights. Opposition groups, including Colorado genetic and
fertilization researchers, say the law would have spiraling
consequences, that it would put women at risk and freeze current work
in medicine and reproduction.

zygote

Colorado Right to Life and Personhood USA, the groups behind proposed Initiative 25,
are undeterred by the fact that Coloradans voted against the test-run
amendment last year by a margin of three to one. The new amendment is
even farther reaching, moving the initial marker for the beginning of
life from “fertilization” to “the beginning of the biological
development of a human being.”

Personhood Colorado Director and the initiative proponent Gualberto Garcia Jones
told The Colorado Independent that the change was made “to be more
comprehensive in our definition of a person” and was not done to make
it more appealing to voters.

“It’s intended to account for human beings who may be created
through asexual reproduction in laboratories and used as raw material
for research, organs, or stem cells. Fertilization would not have
properly applied to asexually reproduced humans, but even asexually
reproduced human beings have a definite biological beginning,” Jones
explained.

“Over half-a-million Coloradans voted for the personhood initiative
in 2008,” Jones said in a press conference announcing the campaign.
“Their votes acknowledging the God-given right to life of the pre-born
revolutionizes the pro-life movement and encourage us toward victory. ”

Science stoppage

Johnathan Van Blerkom, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at the University of Colorado
in Boulder, said if the personhood initiative were passed and upheld,
it would have negative consequences for those not only involved in
embryonic stem cell research but also for individuals looking to
participate in in-vitro fertilization programs.

“To begin with [embryonic] stem cell research would stop,” Van
Blerkom said. “There would be no research in genetics in the causes of
the origins congenital diseases that occur in humans, how to fix them,
how to protect them early.”

“You would find in this state, myself included, that embryo research
would freeze. If there were criminal penalties or you were lumped
together with abortionists for looking at embryos that are discarded
because they are abnormal and you want to know why they are abnormal …
no one is going to do it.”

Van Blerkom who works at a fertilization clinic as well, said that
in-vitro fertilization would likely end in the state. He explained that
the very process of fertilization can kill the embryo if more than one
sperm gets into the egg. He said legal liability would loom over all
procedures.

“It’s criminal liability. So would any program want to freeze an
embryo in the state of Colorado? If the embryos die, as they frequently
do when they are thawed, is that your responsibility? Is it an act of
God? An act of science?”

Women’s rights

Monica McCafferty, media relations specialist for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said the slightly modified language does nothing to protect the rights and safety of mothers.

“The new initiative has the same goal [as Amendment 48], to ban all abortion even in the cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the woman is in danger.”

McCafferty said that the language is vague and misleading but the ramifications are clear. “This would have huge implications.”

The legislation would end women’s right to choose in Colorado but
would also hamper their ability to take many forms of birth control.
McCafferty said the law would create major government intrusions into
private lives.

“Coloradans have said time and again that they don’t want government
or the courts in their lives when it comes making these personal
private decisions.”

Jones frankly agreed. He said the goal of the amendment was to
provide a child in the womb with due process and equality of justice.

“If passed, the Personhood Amendment would regain the state’s right
to extend protections broader than those granted by the U.S.
Constitution, and it would help transform our current decadent culture
which currently values a person’s utility instead of their innate worth
as a human being.”

But Jones didn’t agree that the language was vague.

“We have proposed a very simple, level-headed definition of what a
person is. Namely, a person is a human being from the very beginning of
his or her biological development.”

During the 2008 debate over the personhood initiative, Jessica Berg, professor of law and bioethics at Case Western Reserve University,
told NPR that fertilized eggs in fertility clinics might need to be
counted on the census and that pregnant women presumably could use the
high-occupancy traffic lanes. There are absurdities that grow out of
this kind of thinking, she said.

“If you don’t know you’re pregnant and you drink or do something
dangerous — or you do something problematic very early on, and you’re
in Colorado or even passing through Colorado — have you committed child
abuse and endangerment?”

Power politics

Asked why voters did not support the initiative in the past Jones
told The Colorado Independent that the initiative fell victim to power
politics.

“We realize that there are very large political and corporate
interests that will do everything in their power to twist this simple
proposition into ludicrous scenarios. We’ll be more aggressive this
time around in addressing those scare tactics.”

He said that with groups such as Planned Parenthood heading up a
coalition of groups to oppose the initiative — last year’s coalition
was called Protect Families, Protect Choices — the “pro-abortionists have almost unlimited funds.”

“You see, killing babies pays. Saving babies doesn’t.”

Jones said Planned Parenthood had taken in more than $1 billion in 2008.

RH Reality Check recently reported, however, that anti-abortion rights groups are not hurting for funds.

Wendy Norris, former editor for The Colorado Independent, wrote that personhood groups have brought in almost $58 million in donations. The American Life League, an organization where Jones recently served as legislative director, has brought in more than $35 million since 2003.

National drive

Emilie Ailts, executive director of Denver-based NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado,
said that the initiatives are part of a nationwide attempt to advance
personhood legislation. She said that Personhood USA initially had
hoped to introduce legislation in 29 states but that Personhood USA now
seems ready to mount grassroots efforts in only nine states.

Aits said that the initiative would change the Colorado Constitution in 20,000 different places.

“People can not even prognosticate how once it was fully implemented
how it would affect peoples lives. It would impact so many laws.” She
said it would impact not only fertilization and stem cell research but
also access to many forms of birth control in the state.

NARAL, like Planned Parenthood and the Republican Majority for Choice banded together with the Colorado Bar Association and 90 other groups, many which do not normally deal with reproductive issues, to create Protect Families, Protect Choices, Aits said. Like last year, she expects the same groups to oppose the measure should it make its way onto the ballot.

“Everyone saw this as something so draconian in 2008 that it would
have very negative impacts on the lives of women and their families in
the state of Colorado.”

McCafferty said that while Protect Families, Protect Choices worked
diligently to oppose last years personhood initiative, it was the
Colorado voters who made the decision to reject the amendment.

Jones said he is confident his measure will pass.

“With so much money comes a lot of influence, earned and bought
media, and friends in high places. Against this, personhood only has
one thing, the truth. The amazing thing is that it is only a matter of
time before we prevail.”

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

  • brianh

    Hi Joseph,

     

    You may want to sit down for this. We have the lab results. We had them check and double check. We examined you very closely, but there’s no getting around it.

     

    All the lab techs found were cells.

     

    I know, I know. We were stunned too. I’m sorry Joseph, but you’re not a person. All you are are cells. A lot of cells mind you, but we don’t give person hood to cells. So if you’ll step into this incinerator over here it would make this very simple.

     

    Stop crying, I know that those are just cells too. Into the chamber now. Very good.

     

    Say goodbye!

  • prochoiceferret

    I suppose you think a pebble and a mountain are not meaningfully different, either.

  • rorschachalive

    wait until they figure out they outlawed all cancer treatments, if you can’t kill cell then you can’t kill cancer cells.

  • brianh

    I see.

     

    So you subscribe to the "more cells equals more important" theory of personhood? 

  • ahunt

    Well baldly, yeah. For example, the walking bag of cells that is an actual person is more "important" than a single-celled potential person.

  • prochoiceferret

    So you subscribe to the "more cells equals more important" theory of personhood?

    I subscribe to the theory that people who want to comment on complex and controversial topics like reproductive health, bodily autonomy and the legality of abortion will fully engage their brains and not make deliberately obtuse arguments. But alas, it has once again been disproven.

  • crowepps

    “Over half-a-million Coloradans voted for the personhood initiative in 2008,” Jones said in a press conference announcing the campaign. “Their votes acknowledging the God-given right to life of the pre-born revolutionizes the pro-life movement and encourage us toward victory. ”

    Too bad there were 1,605,978 voters who disagreed, huh? See, that’s the problem with this ‘let’s vote on it and see what Americans want’ meme — when the initiative is defeated it’s whack-a-mole — the prolifers just come back in the NEXT election with something very similar. Even thought they’ve never actually gotten one passed in actual LAW, their publicity of the efforts to do so keeps those contributions rolling in!

  • drdredd

    So, Joseph, does that mean that every time I get a blood test I am an accessory to murder?  There are cells in that.

  • paul-bradford

    A version of the anti-abortion initiative soundly defeated by Colorado voters in 2008 is making its way to the 2010 ballot, this time reworked as an “egg-as-a-person” initiative.

     

    For any of you who didn’t get a chance to read my responses to the last six or seven articles RHReality Check has published about various ‘personhood bills’ allow me to recap what I think are the salient points.

     

    1)  This is the most important thing!  These bills never should become law, they never will become law and they never can become law.  In keeping with their long record of counterproductive effort, conservatives within the Pro-Life movement have again overplayed their hand with the effect of whipping up frenzy on the ‘Choice’ side and raising money for Planned Parenthood.  With enemies like this you don’t need friends! 

     

    2) The hierarchy of my Catholic Church, which is more than capable of making political blunders, was on the right side of this debate in Colorado and it was on the right side of this debate in North Dakota.  I’m praying that all the bishops in all the states that takes this issue up will exercise sound judgment and oppose passage.

     

    3) The temptation on both sides to imagine scary scenarios and to accuse their opponents of being fools or devils makes it difficult for people to take their opponents’ passion seriously or get into productive discussions about these very important issues.  Not to worry!  I’m going to keep inviting people to engage in productive, respectful conversations.

     

    Looking forward to your comments ahunt (how could we have this discussion without you) and crowepps and colleen.  I hope we’ll be hearing from new people too. 

     

    Let me start the ball rolling by asking you whether it does any good to use a phrase like ‘egg as person’.  It’s almost as if you’re unwilling to draw a distinction between an unfertilized ovum and a fertilized ovum.  I’ve pointed this out before but I think it’s worth contemplating how much rarer fertilized eggs are than unfertilized eggs.  There are 500,000 living zygotes and blastocysts in our country.  There are 7,500,000,000,000 (7.5 trillion) unfertilized eggs.

     

    Even a Pro-Life zealot such as myself can see how absurd and unworkable it would be to treat the 7.5 trillion as if they were human beings.  Asking people to treat the 500,000 with the respect that all of us deserve is a perfectly reasonable request.  When you say "egg-as-person" you drum up absurd ideas.  To say "zygote-as-person" is to engage people around the real issues. 

     

    None of us have ever been an (unfertilized) egg.  None of us have ever been a sperm.  But we’ve all been zygotes and I think we ought to be capable of a little compassion for the people who are zygotes now.  They’re the artists, innovators and heroes of the future (they’re also the criminals, prostitutes and junkies of the future — but, hey, the goal is to respect all human life, even lives that are hard to respect.)

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • julie-watkins

    Let me start the ball rolling by asking you whether it does any good to use a phrase like ‘egg as person’.

    Because of legal effect. I think the people who want to pass this law want to make emergency contraception, for instance, illegal. But at that time there’s no way to tell the difference between a "fertalized egg" and an "unfertalized eggs". Hormonal birth control would also be at risk. The effect of these laws would be to treat all "eggs as persons" and block many effective methods of contraception, which would be a great hardship on women and poor families.

  • crowepps

    Let me start the ball rolling by asking you whether it does any good to use a phrase like ‘egg as person’. It’s almost as if you’re unwilling to draw a distinction between an unfertilized ovum and a fertilized ovum. I’ve pointed this out before but I think it’s worth contemplating how much rarer fertilized eggs are than unfertilized eggs. There are 500,000 living zygotes and blastocysts in our country. There are 7,500,000,000,000 (7.5 trillion) unfertilized eggs.

    Are you talking right at this moment? Where do you come up with these numbers? Do you just multiply ‘women in (supposed) fertile years’ times X divided by months? Divide number of pregnancies by days? How does inventing numbers in this manner help facilitate reasonable discussion?

    Even a Pro-Life zealot such as myself can see how absurd and unworkable it would be to treat the 7.5 trillion as if they were human beings. Asking people to treat the 500,000 with the respect that all of us deserve is a perfectly reasonable request. When you say “egg-as-person” you drum up absurd ideas. To say “zygote-as-person” is to engage people around the real issues.

    At the present state of medical knowledge, outside of a petri disk there’s no way to distinguish the zygotes from the unfertilized eggs, or for that matter the zygotes which have potentially ‘human’ DNA from those whose DNA is so flawed as to never be capable of qualifying.

    None of us have ever been an (unfertilized) egg. None of us have ever been a sperm. But we’ve all been zygotes

    As I understand the process, all of us have at one point ‘been an unfertilized egg’, and everyone except Christ himself was ‘a sperm’. Certainly insisting that every zygote is a ‘person’ make it absolutely logical to expand the definition so that ‘we’ve all been eggs’ or ‘we’ve all been sperm’ and I guess to take this passion for germ cells to its logical end next we have to insist that ALL of them be given every chance to combine and develop. The rallying call is obvious – “Chastity is Anti-Life”!

  • ahunt

    It doesn’t get anymore chickenshit, Paul.
    Answer the question. Do you expect people to mourn the flushing of a zygote the way we mourn our stillbirths?
    Full disclosure…two stillbirths, and I’m prepared to go for your jugular. I’ve had it with your sublime indifference to the reality of people’s lives.

  • emma

    There would have to be laws requiring all male persons to ensure all their sperm are in optimal condition, yeah? If we want to ensure that any potential zygotes to whose creation the sperm might contribute have the maximum possible chance of survival. So, like, men and boys could be required to wear only boxers (which are so much more attractive than briefs anyway), and they could be banned from wearing tight jeans. There could be random underwear checks to ensure compliance with the law. If the crazed extremists proposing all this personhood idiocy really aren’t misogynists, they should support equal limitations on mens’ freedom.

     

    See, Paul, to me, referring to a zygote as a ‘very young/small person’ is as ludicrous as you probably thing my proposed scenario is. I was a zygote once, true, but the cell that became me was made up of a sperm and an egg. Given that, people should have compassion for sperm and eggs, too. Since zygotes are people, they too should have compassion for sperm and eggs. If they don’t, well, they’re clearly zygotic psychopaths who are probably going to grow up to be serial killers.
    Plus, if The Undead Unborn have all the rights of people, they should be subject to all the same laws, yeah? So, if a woman dies in childbirth and the baby survives, the child should be charged with [wo]manslaughter at birth and immediately incarcerated. Otherwise, they’ll have more rights than everyone else.

     

    The potential scenarios are endless and actually rather fascinating.

  • paul-bradford

    Certainly insisting that every zygote is a ‘person’ makes it absolutely logical to expand the definition so that ‘we’ve all been eggs’ or ‘we’ve all been sperm’ and I guess to take this passion for germ cells to its logical end next we have to insist that ALL of them be given every chance to combine and develop.

     

    crowepps,

     

    Reductio ad absurdum.

     

    Why is it that, to me, it’s plainly obvious that a developing zygote is a living human body and yet you claim to have trouble noticing a significant dividing line between zygotes on the one hand and sperm and eggs on the other?

     

    Let’s turn it around.  Let’s say some Pro-Lifer (not me, obviously, I try hard to avoid making stupid arguments) said to you, "You don’t have any doubt that an infant is a person, do you?  Insisting that every infant is a ‘person’ makes it absolutely logical to expand the definition to include fetuses."  You would no doubt point out that something very significant happens between the time we’re fetuses and the time we’re infants and that very significant event is birth.  It’s a pretty clear dividing line.

     

    Well, conception is a pretty clear dividing line too.  There’s no danger that we’ll confuse zygotes with unfertilized ova just as there’s no danger that we’ll confuse an infant and a fetus.

     

    The difference is that conception is a much more important dividing line than birth is.  Anyone can see that the body of an infant is the same body that was a fetus, but we know that the body of a zygote ISN’T the same body as an unfertilized egg or a sperm.  Until conception there’s no human body.  After conception that one body develops through all the phases of human life. 

     

    When you complete the realization that a zbef is a living human body you can’t help but conclude that that body deserves to be treated with care.  If you can get yourself to deny that a zbef is a living human body then you can justify any sort of mistreatment.

     

    You’ll say, "The only people who have to exert care to sustain the lives of zbef’s are women.  Men don’t have to do anything!"  That is, of course, exactly true — I just can’t see why I should go from "zbef’s are people who have to rely upon a woman’s care" to "because zbef’s have to rely upon a woman’s care they aren’t people."

     

    Are you talking right at this moment? Where do you come up with these numbers?

     

    In any year there are 6 million pregnancies — 600,000 end in spontaneous abortion, 1.2 million end in procured abortion and 4.2 million survive to birth.  For there to be 6 million pregnancies there need to be 12 million blastocysts — since at least 50% fail to implant.  Some people say that the failure rate can be as high as 80%.  If you want to use that number you need 30 million blastocysts to produce 6 million pregnancies.

     

    We’re only in the zygote/blastocyst phase of development for two weeks, which is 3.836% of the year — so only 3.836% of the 12 million blastocysts that are formed this year are around at any one time.  3.836% x 12 million = 460,273.  I rounded up to 500,000.

     

    I often reflect on that 500,000 number when I want to contemplate how precious life is. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    The difference is that conception is a much more important dividing line than birth is.

    That has got to be the silliest thing I’ve ever seen you say. After a zygote has been formed a woman has a less than 50-50 chance of anything further happening at all. After birth there’s an actual BABY. I’m getting the impression that your insistence on moving ‘valuing life’ as close as it’s possible to get to the theoretical is because your contemplation is more about how precious YOU are than because of any intrinsic value to life itself.

  • crowepps

    I’ve seen the ‘insufficient uterine lining’ nonsense connected to IUDs as well, so by doing the hands are quicker than the eye, pick a card any card, soft-shoe shuffle, they can get rid of ALL of the most effective methods of unilaterally female birth control, AND simultaneously make being pregnant a minefield in which ALL women are presumed to be potential criminals inimicable to their zygotes. I think I’m going to start a non-profit to research ways to create uterus transplants into ProLife men so that they can ‘volunteer’ to tolerate a ‘little inconvenience’ by being hosts to Snowflake babies.

  • paul-bradford

    One stillbirth would be heartbreaking.  Two is hard to even imagine.

     

    You’re working yourself up into a violent fit simply because I point to the difference between a subjective and objective reality.  Your stillborn children were cherished and cared for by you.  You invested yourself in each of them and your loss was tremendous.  Assuming that you have, at one time or another, passed an expired blastocyst your experience was, no doubt, something that had no effect on you whatsoever.  You weren’t even aware of it.

     

    I can, and do, honor your subjective experience.  One experience was gut-wrenching, the other was nothing at all.  That is the "reality of people’s lives" — "people", in this case, being you.  The reality of your children who died at birth is that they were alive and then they died.  The reality of your children who failed to implant as blastocysts is that they were alive and then they died.  The ones who died at birth had a powerful impact on your emotions — but the fact that they had engaged your emotions isn’t what conferred upon them their value as human beings.  Their value as human beings existed as long as they WERE human beings — even before they engaged the subjective "reality" of your life.

     

    Justice isn’t about treating people according to how I see them, justice is about treating people according to how they actually are.  I get on your bad side simply by urging justice for people who aren’t cared about.  Do you honestly believe that people who are ‘cared about’ count more than people who aren’t?

     

    You have, as they say, "led with your chin" in this conversation.  I have no desire to pour salt into your wounds nor do I have any desire to allow you to claim that I’m insensitive to the "reality of people’s lives".  Your children deserved the best prenatal care and I sincerely hope that everything possible was done for them.  They would have deserved that care no matter what their mother’s feelings for them were.

     

    I may be many things, but I’m not ‘chickenshit’ — and I don’t appreciate your promise to go for my jugular.  I don’t get into these conversations with the thought of ripping people apart — my aim is always to show as much respect for people as I can.  If I can respect a blastocyst I can certainly respect you — and I hope you will return my respect. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    Answer the question, Paul.

  • emma

    I think I’m going to start a non-profit to research ways to create uterus transplants into ProLife men so that they can ‘volunteer’ to tolerate a ‘little inconvenience’ by being hosts to Snowflake babies.

    I’d so be happy to help you with that. I’m in Australia, so it could be an international non-profit. I’m sure the male anti-choicers here would be happy to carry the precious snowflake babies.

  • paul-bradford

    your contemplation is more about how precious YOU are than because of any intrinsic value to life itself.

     

    crowepps,

     

    You’re right in thinking that this is about how precious I am.  It’s also about how precious you are.  The preciousness I see in myself and in others would be occluded if I denied the intrinsic value of life.  It’s really just two sides to the same coin.

     

    I value you, crowepps, because you’re sharp and you’re fast and you’re passionate — but I also know that even if you lacked these engaging qualities you would be valuable simply for being alive.  No matter how much you adorn yourself with attractive features the very, very best thing about you is the fact that you’re alive.

     

    Some people think that the test of faith is a belief in the existence of God.  I believe that the test of faith is a belief in the existence of other human beings.  I’m constantly nurturing that faith because it would be very easy to lose it.  The moment I stop believing that there are other precious people out there is the moment I lose my faith in the intrinsic value of life. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • emma

    That’s nice, Paul, but a little anthropocentric for me. I don’t see why, for instance, humans have more intrinsic worth than, say, cats. Seriously, I don’t. Can you even give any reason for think humans are more intrinsically worthy than other animals other than that you really, really like humans?

     

    I’m not mocking, seriously. I’m just…not seeing it. I just am not seeing why a human zygote has more worth than a feline (for example) zygote just by virtue of the fact that its DNA happens to be human. I can value your life and my life and the life of a random Palestinian person or Latvian person or whatever. We’re here, we can think, love and be loved, we can suffer and hurt and so on and so forth. A zygote can’t do any of that. It’s just a microscopic organism that happens to have DNA.

     

    This is just such a fundamental disconnect, and it’s why this kind of legislation makes no sense to me. You seem to be of the view that having human DNA automatically confers superior value; I just can’t agree on that one.

  • paul-bradford

    That’s nice, Paul, but a little anthropocentric for me.

     

    Emma,

     

    I know you’re not mocking or joking, and I appreciate your willingness to speak openly and honestly.

     

    I suppose I’ve got two responses to you.  One is the religious response, and you can read my PLCC column of October 4 if you’re interested in looking at that angle.  

     

    The other response is the practical response.  Please appreciate that I’m very much in support of the humane treatment of animals and in environmental protection.  People who have taken up those causes are doing good work.  I do think, however, that we as a species have a special responsibility to get our own house in order and to improve our human-to-human relations.  Human-to-animal relations and human-to-plant relations obviously count for something but I honestly don’t think the mistreatment of cats is as pressing a concern as the mistreatment of humans — particularly the very young.

     

    We all have our calling, though, so I will repeat that I don’t mean to disparage the other concerns.

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • emma

    I have to fall into bed in the next few minutes – Ambien = tired Emma. :)

     

    I’ve bookmarked the link you sent me and will have a proper look at it tomorrow.

     

    Thanks for being willing to to discuss things, Paul.

  • anonymous99

    It’s amazing what some honest conversation and an open mind will do. I was fever pitch pro life when I first happened upon RHRC. No more. I still don’t believe in abortion and I think you feminists are too into yourselves, BUT I think you’re right about abortion. I have no doubt the right would go Taliban on American women if they ever got the chance. We can’t let that happen.

  • harry834

    The dream of having men (like me) be pregnant to level the playing field is a worthy one, but the chances of it becoming true may take hundreds of years, if ever.

    It would change the debate for the better, put anti-abortion males in their place, but only if the dream came true. Personally, I want flying cars first.

  • harry834

    over the centuries we’ve included more and more people in the circle of those we consider "human beings with human rights". Paul, you want to include zygotes, microscopic entities, in this circle. 

    The debate would not exist if these zygotes existed in thin air outside of other human bodies. But they do not. They exist in the bodies of people who have long since been presumed (though we’re still getting there) to exist in the circle of "human beings with human rights". One of those rights is the right to decide whether or not to be pregnant. 

    Do you debate whether or not humans have the right to decide whether or not they are pregnant? 

    Question again: And also I would ask whether or not one should mourn the washing out of a zygote with the same grief as the death of a stillborn.

     

  • crowepps

    I too would have thought this to be a real long shot, but having been assured by several ProLifers that there is no reasoin why an ectopic pregnancy shouldn’t be presumed to have a chance of success even though it isn’t in the uterus, making the uterus unnecessary to the process, apparently there are secrets about reproduction we don’t know. Apparently the placenta can attach to and highjack the body’s processes from the abdomen, and successfully develop a child with no uterus at all. I think their certainty that this is true justifies human experiments immediately. Let’s start with Randall Terry.

  • crowepps

    We are just aware that women are going to get them whether we ‘believe in’ them or not and whether they are legal or not and that in some cases they are absolutely essential to save women’s lives after reproductive tragedy has struck.

  • crowepps

    I believe that the test of faith is a belief in the existence of other human beings. I’m constantly nurturing that faith because it would be very easy to lose it. The moment I stop believing that there are other precious people out there is the moment I lose my faith in the intrinsic value of life.

    While it’s nice of you to include me in the ‘precious people’ along with yourself, I’m unable to join you in smug certainty that my existence is of infinite value to the universe. I’m too aware that there’s every possibility that I exist only as a support system for the four pounds of bacteria (with unique DNA!) that make me their home.

    In addition, “I’m important because I’m human” has a haunting similarity to the self-important certainty of those whose accomplishments at the Pearly Gates will be announced as “I qualify because I’m white”.

  • crowepps

    LOL — I’m trying to imagine an eensy-teensy little straightjacket –

  • crowepps

    Do you debate whether or not humans have the right to decide whether or not they are pregnant?

    If I understand Paul’s position correctly, and I’m sure he will correct me if I’m wrong, he believes that humans only have the right to decide whether they will have sex. If they decide in the affirmative and their precautions fail, the pregnancy is compulsory.

  • harry834

    if so what kinds? I’d like to know if he supports emergency contraception, but I feel the answer is "no"

    This type of inclusion into the circle of humans is beyond even vegatative state humans and premie-babies. We’re talking about microscopic entities here that just formed from sperm and egg. Are we really going to call these murder victims? To the point where the woman is forbidden from taking a pill or else she’ll be a murderer for these micro-victims?

     

  • ahunt

    Yes. Paul is a strong advocate of BC.

  • paul-bradford

    I’m unable to join you in smug certainty that my existence is of infinite value to the universe. I’m too aware that there’s every possibility that I exist only as a support system for the four pounds of bacteria (with unique DNA!) that make me their home.

     

    crowepps,

     

    As we’re getting to know each other better, I’m coming to the conclusion that our philosophical viewpoints differ in ways that go far beyond the technical question of when human life begins.  In fact, to ask the question "Must fetuses be treated as well as infants are?" is to merely scratch the surface of our contrasting ways of making sense of life.

     

    By now you shouldn’t be surprised when I tell you that I’m eager to acknowledge our differences and to search for common ground.  Please indulge my curiosity. 

     

    May I begin by looking at your phrase, "smug certainty"?  I’m wondering if you assume that faith is the absence of doubt (or, more likely, the denial of doubt).  This is something I think about a lot — and I’ve come to the conclusion that the more vibrant and robust your faith is, the more doubt you entertain.  You may remember Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame earlier this year.  My favorite line is, "But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt."

     

    The phrase ‘smug certainty’ raises, for me, the idea of someone who is terrified to even consider the possibility that her/his fundamental beliefs are flawed.  The less we trust our own ‘rope of faith’ the more tightly we hold on to it.

     

    I spoke about nurturing a faith that there are "other precious people out there".  Did I make clear what I meant by that?  Today, for example, I was attempting to make a difficult turn through traffic and someone generously commented that I was a "fuckin’ retard".  (Maybe he’s a regular visitor at RHReality Check).  My response wasn’t any more cheerful than the response someone else might give in a similar circumstance.  The commenter had simultaneously made me doubt his preciousness and my own.

     

    It seems to me, and I welcome your comments, that the same openness of heart and mind I use to connect myself to the belief that that gentleman is "of infinite value to the universe" is an openness that allows an attack of doubt when he acts as if I were something other than infinitely valuable.

     

    Like you, I’m capable of framing my experience along a conviction that my purpose in life is to be a support system for four pounds of bacteria.  But I’m also capable of framing my experience a different way.  I can choose to go one way, and I can choose to go another.

     

    Within that choice there is a degree of agency which may be as close to ‘infinite’ as I can imagine. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • harry834

    I’m happy for that.

  • harry834

    if a woman feels that the zygote inside her that just formed from sperm-egg fusion (conception) is as much a human being as anyone, and thus worth protecting through her continued pregnancy, then that is her choice, her belief, her pregnancy.

    This choice and belief cannot be forced on anyone, not with the burdens of pregnancy, parenthood or adoption, and the sacrifices that go along with those.

    It is true that the just-formed zygote is biologically similar to the newborn baby and both are biologically similar to the growing human. But, each are also biologically different from each other. We pro-choicers stand that the societal urge to protect the fetus should stop when the fetus is still part of the woman’s body. Some restrictions in the late-term may be OK (and those who seem late-term typically have medically-serious enough reasons to qualify for abortion at these late terms). 

    But we’re arguing about a zygote that just formed from sperm-egg fusion. That’s very biologically different than the late-term fetus and the just-born baby.

    Biology can only tell us about similarities and differences. WE people decide where to draw the line, informed by what the biological similiarities and differences are. I just described above where I think the lines should be drawn. So no, I don’t think only having 46 chromosomes is enough to qualify for murder-victim status in my book. Even preme babies and disabled people (to whom the "unborn" is often compared to) have a not more biological complexity than a just-formed zygote. Whether, where, and under what circumstances we choose to draw lines, informed by this biological knowledge and other facts and values, is what we people decide.

    I hope we decide in favor of where pro-choicers decide, because that is the path that most allows for a woman to decide for herself in the face of which burdens to undergo – and when or if to undergo them – as far as pregnancy, parenting, adoption, sacrifice, delayed dreams, etc. 

    One Catch: we may not know know if conception happened because, from what I understand, pregnancy tests only tell us about those fertilized eggs that implant on the uterine wall. We never know about the many fertilized eggs that wash away in a woman’s period. 

  • crowepps

    The phrase ‘smug certainty’ raises, for me, the idea of someone who is terrified to even consider the possibility that her/his fundamental beliefs are flawed.

    I agree.

    It seems to me, and I welcome your comments, that the same openness of heart and mind I use to connect myself to the belief that that gentleman is “of infinite value to the universe” is an openness that allows an attack of doubt when he acts as if I were something other than infinitely valuable.

    Surely these tests of faith, where you allow the incivility of others to let doubts arise in you about their ‘infinite value’, make it clear why you prefer to focus your idealism on the zygote, which can never disappoint you because it can never interact with you. In fact, its presence is entirely theoretical, in that you while you contemplate its ‘preciousness’ you can’t even be sure that in any particular instance it actually exists.

     

    Faith that the Universe has some sort of point must always be held in conjunction with the humbling acknowledgement that there’s no evidence that point is humanity. It actually takes a great deal MORE faith to imagine God taking pleasure from the unedifying sight of humanity overbreeding to the detriment of the habitat He created for us and pronounced ‘good’.

  • paul-bradford

    Question again: And also I would ask whether or not one should mourn the washing out of a zygote with the same grief as the death of a stillborn.

     

    There’s no need for me to give instructions to others about how much they should mourn.  They will mourn, or not mourn, based upon their own subjective experience.  I can imagine a situation where the death of a stillborn would evince a feeling of immense relief on the part of the mother.  I can also imagine a situation where the ‘washing out of a zygote’ (assuming we develop ways to know when this is happening) would cause great suffering.

     

    Some lives are valued, some are devalued.  We don’t have to look to the examples of the unborn to see this play itself out.  Look at me — my wife thinks I’m the most wonderful man in the world, and my daughter concurs.  My mother and sister give me similar grades.  I happen to be a man who is used to the affection and admiration of women.  Does this mean my intrinsic value is greater than that of some misogynistic creep masturbating at the bus stop?  If we counted the votes of my family I’d be rated as the more valuable one.  If we took a poll of the women here, the guy in the raincoat would win out.

     

    I bring this up to make the point that my value isn’t dependent upon someone else’s subjective experience of me.  I’m equally worthy of just treatment as anyone else.

     

    ahunt’s children deserved just treatment and they would have deserved this just treatment no matter how loving and sensitive a mother ahunt proved to me.  Those children deserved the best medical care possible — not because ahunt wanted to mother them, but because that was their right as human beings.  Similarly, blastocysts deserve quality care.  No blastocyst ought to be subjected to an assault of mifepristone.  It’s an assault to human dignity.

     

    We don’t yet have the technology to track how many blastocysts have failed as a result of the administration of certain drugs — but we’re starting to get some idea of what constitutes good medical care and what would constitute poor medical care.  People deserve good medical care whether they’re well loved or whether they’re not.

     

    So, the answer to your question is this — you will mourn the loss of people you love; but your love isn’t the foundation of their value. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    I’d add that the use of ‘late-term’ lends itself to extremely fuzziness. Certainly considering everything after 12 weeks ‘late’ is deliberate obfuscation, since at that point the woman is only one-third of the way through the pregnancy. Even 20 weeks is only halfway through. After 24 weeks seems more reasonable since that’s more certain viability (with massive handicapping complications possible for the infant), although I’d note it’s still in the SECOND trimester. There’s no evidence there’s ever been an abortion in the third trimester for any other reason than to remove a dead fetus, because of severe fetal abnormality or to save the woman’s life.

    A late-term abortion often refers to an induced abortion procedure that occurs after the 20th week of gestation. However, the exact point when a pregnancy becomes late-term is not clearly defined. Some sources define an abortion after 12 completed weeks’ gestation as “late”.[1][2] Some sources define an abortion after 16 weeks as “late”.[3][4] Three articles published in 1998 in the same issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association could not agree on the definition. Two of the JAMA articles chose the 20th week of gestation to be the point where an abortion procedure would be considered late-term.[5] The third JAMA article chose the third trimester, or 27th week of gestation.[6]

    The point at which an abortion becomes late-term is often related to the “viability” (ability to survive outside the uterus) of the fetus. Sometimes late-term abortions are referred to as post-viability abortions. However, viability varies greatly among pregnancies. Nearly all pregnancies are viable after the 27th week, and no pregnancies are viable before the 21st week. Everything in between is a “grey area”.[6]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late-term_abortion#Definition_of_.E2.80.9Clate-term.E2.80.9D

  • harry834

    Microscopic? Size of a pin-point? Size of an ant?

  • ahunt

    There’s no need for me to give instructions to others about how much
    they should mourn.  They will mourn, or not mourn, based upon their own
    subjective experience
    .

     

     Well gee Paul…hitherto…you have not hesitated to tell us all what we should think and feel about any given zygote. I am absolutely delighted that you NOW grant us the leeway to NOT think and feel as you would desire of us.

     

    PROGRESS!

  • paul-bradford

    that is her choice, her belief, her pregnancy.This choice and belief cannot be forced on anyone, not with the burdens of pregnancy, parenthood or adoption, and the sacrifices that go along with those.

     

    Harry,

     

    Enter into my world for a moment.  For a year I’ve been coming here and I’ve been interested in trying to get a conversation started about ways to protect the unborn and lower the rate of abortion that don’t involve forcing a woman to do anything — and yet I’m forever hearing from folks that it’s a terrible thing to coerce a woman.

     

    I have stated before, and I will state here again, that men have it in their power to almost entirely eliminate abortion.  Men could decide that, as a minimum standard of decent behavior, it would be wrong to have sex with a woman unless he and she had developed a workable plan to care for any child that results from their intimacies.  Men would decide that if they valued the lives of their own unborn children.

     

    I used to be constrained by the comment, "abortion is a woman’s issue".  Now I’m vociferous in pointing out that abortion is a men’s issue too. We have it in our power to protect the unborn.  Our children are at risk of dying in an abortion.  Abortion can mean heartache for us.  

     

    I say, over and over again, that if we, as a society, valued the unborn we could work out a thousand strategies for protecting them that don’t involve overriding a woman’s health care decisions, or violating her bodily autonomy, or forcing a pregnancy on her.

     

    We don’t even begin to discuss the idea of protecting our own children because there’s always a chorus of fear dredging up an image of the cold steely fist of fascism wrapped tightly around the uterus.  It’s such a scary, scary image that people forget the fact that the first thing you’ve got to do if you want to protect the unborn is to be good to their mothers.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    PROGRESS!

     

    ahunt,

     

    As we go along, you’re learning more about the way I say things — and I’m learning more about the way you hear things.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • colleen

    I would like to know the same thing Harry. Paul has said that when the world ‘evolves’ as he sees it, the use of mifeprestone would be “unthinkable”. A few weeks ago I asked if he would deny rape victims mifeprestone and he did not answer. As I understand Paul’s position he believes women should be allowed contraceptives but once there’s an unimplanted fertilized egg (and therefore a ‘person’) said female is out of luck. I could be wrong.

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • celticthistle

    I think I’m going to start a non-profit to research ways to create
    uterus transplants into ProLife men so that they can ‘volunteer’ to
    tolerate a ‘little inconvenience’ by being hosts to Snowflake babies.

     

    crowepps, I would absolutely support that research. I have to admit it really irks me when men like Paul try to assign worth to something that will affect women almost exclusively. I admire Paul for not coming in here, bad-grammar guns blazing, to call us all baby-murdering whores, but I still think he is clueless. Zygotes are zygotes, not babies. End of story.

  • celticthistle

    I think you feminists are too into yourselves

     

    So standing up for our own rights is a bad thing? Silliness. You clearly are still clinging to the notion that feminists are all baby-eating, man hating mean dykes, aren’t you.

  • paul-bradford

    I have no doubt the right would go Taliban on American women if they ever got the chance. We can’t let that happen.

     

    …and this from someone who was "fever pitch pro life"!  Evidence to support the claim that colleen’s rhetorical skills are superior to mine.

     

    I need a catchy tag line. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    Since zygotes are people, they too should have compassion for sperm and eggs. If they don’t, well, they’re clearly zygotic psychopaths

     

    Emma,

     

    You’re fast, funny and clever — attributes I admire in anyone, man or woman.

     

    I know lots and lots of people who value the life of a zygote.  I don’t know anyone who values the life of a sperm.  The only people who have trouble making a distinction between the two are the people who don’t value the lives of either.  Why should that be?

     

    Some of what I want seems ridiculous to you.  I want fewer zygotes conceived and a higher percentage of those zygotes developing into blastocysts and successfully implanting.  I certainly don’t care how many sperm are produced or how many are "wasted". 

     

    Some of what I want, I hope, seems reasonable to you.  I want us, as individuals and as a society, to do what we can to protect and preserve other people’s lives.

     

    Do you understand where I’m coming from when I say that we can’t all have our separate ideas about what the phrase ‘other people’ means? 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    “A blastocyst is a microscopic group of cells that is small enough to fit into Roosevelt’s eye on face of the US dime.”

    http://www.kumc.edu/stemcell/images/howbig.jpg

  • colleen

    No blastocyst ought to be subjected to an assault of mifepristone. It’s an assault to human dignity.

    I know you are fully aware that mifepristone is a drug given to rape victims. I take it that you agree with your church on the subject of denying rape victims emergency contraception?

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • paul-bradford

    A few weeks ago I asked if he would deny rape victims mifepristone and he did not answer.

     

    colleen,

     

    Let’s look at a similar question, "Should a rape victim with a six week old fetus be allowed to get an abortion?"   How about an eleven week old fetus?  How about a nineteen week old fetus?

     

    We all agree that women shouldn’t have to carry their rapists’ babies.  I’d go further and say that a woman shouldn’t have to carry any baby she doesn’t want.  Women should be protected from unwanted pregnancies.

     

    The question is about whether an unwanted pregnancy can be ‘remedied’.  The question is about whether an unwanted conception can be ‘remedied’.  The answer depends upon who we count as ‘people’.

     

    I want to ask you — because I’m really curious — how you go about deciding who get to be ‘people’.  It sometimes sounds to me that your idea is that you get to be a person if your existence isn’t too much of a hardship on someone else. 

     

    What a ghastly, horrible thing it would be to be raped.  What an incredible insult to add to that injury it would be to have to carry the rapist’s baby.  It’s hard to even contemplate a woman having to have to suffer that much.

     

    She ought to be provided with any remedy possible short of killing a person.  So, it all gets back to the question of who’s a person.

     

    Do not think that I came to the conclusion that zygotes are people because I wanted rape victims to suffer.  Can you demonstrate to me that you didn’t come to the conclusion that zygotes (and blastocysts, and embryos, and fetuses) aren’t people because you wanted to spare women suffering? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

     

    P.S.  For those who can’t add two plus two, I just told colleen that I would not administer mifepristone to a rape victim. 

  • ahunt

    Paul…would you object to a rape victim be immediately fitted with an IUD? (relax kids…hypothetical, here)

  • paul-bradford

    I take it that you agree with your church on the subject of denying rape victims emergency contraception?

     

    colleen,

     

    crowepps can run rings around me on this one, and I don’t want to end up showing too much of my ignorance about what is meant by ‘emergency contraception’.  If emergency contraception means mifepristone, and it works by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting, I agree with my church that the use of such a medicine is unjustifiable.  I’ve been told, at this ‘site, that EC refers to a medicine that prevents ovulation and has no effect on a woman who has already conceived (and, obviously, already ovulated).

     

    If EC has no deleterious effects on zygotes or blastocysts, (to put it another way, if EC has no deleterious effects on people) then I can see no reason to object to it.  As you know, my church objects to any kind of medical contraception so they would object no matter which way EC worked.  As you already know, I’m going to go to purgatory for a million years because I disagree with the Church about artificial contraception.  I hope you will pray for me. 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    Again Paul…be consistant. You would also have to object to a rape victim embarking immediately on an intensive regimen designed to raise internal body temperatures for extended periods, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and intentially dwelling on the rape in order to keep the adrenalin flowing and cortisol levels high.

  • heather-corinna

    To be clear, the morning-after pill (Plan B) is NOT mifepristone.  It is levonorgestrel, the same hormone in Depo-Provera, and works the same ways combined oral contraceptives used preventatively do.

     

    A copper IUD used as EC is also not mifepristone.

     

    But mifepristone is something else that CAN be used as EC for rape victims:  http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/16/1/72

  • colleen

    What a ghastly, horrible thing it would be to be raped. What an incredible insult to add to that injury it would be to have to carry the rapist’s baby. It’s hard to even contemplate a woman having to have to suffer that much.

    Spare me.

    Do not think that I came to the conclusion that zygotes are people because I wanted rape victims to suffer.

    I never said that you did, Paul. I’m sure that you and at least some of your church’s hierarchy do not desire the suffering of women as an end in and of itself. It’s more like an unfortunate and necessary consequence of being born with a vagina and a uterus. As you said, abortion isn’t about women.

    Can you demonstrate to me that you didn’t come to the conclusion that zygotes (and blastocysts, and embryos, and fetuses) aren’t people because you wanted to spare women suffering?

    I feel no need to justify to anyone my belief that rape victims should not be forced to carry to term the children of their rapist(s), least of all you.

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • ahunt

    Dagnabit Heather…I was trying to be all BIzitchy, and you have to go and play fair!

     

    Nevertheless, the teensiest possibility exists that the IUD might interfere with implantation. Still okay, Paul?

  • crowepps

    Do you understand where I’m coming from when I say that we can’t all have our separate ideas about what the phrase ‘other people’ means?

    Oh, I’d bet every woman on here has a real good idea what you mean, since it has only been recently that women have been given even provisional status as ‘people’. Of course, they aren’t actually a particularly VALUED group of people, as evidenced by the fact that if one man wants to insult another man he says the insultee acts like a girl. The funny thing is, most of the other ‘ethnic insult’ type jokes are now understood to be not respectable for civil people, but this one just keeps on seeping back. Especially if the despised woman actually ‘acts like a man’, that is, as an equal citizen with intelligence and agency in her own life.

  • ahunt

    Do you understand where I’m coming from when I say that we can’t all
    have our separate ideas about what the phrase ‘other people’ means?

     

    Perfectly. You want seperate classes of persons whereby the personhood of a zygote trumps the personhood of a woman.

  • crowepps

    In talking to a scientist or medical researcher, you can get them to admit that there is the teensiest possibility that the IUD (or anything else) might lead to elephants on your lawn Christmas morning. So far as science and medicine are concerned, ANYTHING is possible. If only those birth control methods are going to be allowed which have a 100% absolute guarantee, NONE of them will be okayed, including abstinence, since it failed the Blessed Mother.

  • crowepps

    How about the very Catholic idea “We can make men feel guilty enough to stop being promiscuous by making life intolerable for women.”

  • crowepps

    The type I was talking about which does NOT interfere with implantation is Plan B. It has a 15% failure rate.

    Mifepriston is a different drug, works differently and is much more effective. Mifepriston does not prevent an egg from implanting, it instead triggers the shedding of the uterine lining in which the egg might have implanted – a process otherwise known by the technical name ‘period’.

  • colleen

    Do you understand where I’m coming from when I say that we can’t all have our separate ideas about what the phrase ‘other people’ means?

    I’m pretty sure we all understand what you mean by that Paul.

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • ahunt

    Now crowepps, just let me find out the lengths to which Paul would insist that we go…on behalf of the zygote.

  • crowepps

    Let’s look at a similar question, “Should a rape victim with a six week old fetus be allowed to get an abortion?”

    Yes.

    How about an eleven week old fetus?

    Yes.

    How about a nineteen week old fetus?

    Yes.

    We all agree that women shouldn’t have to carry their rapists’ babies.

    Absolutely. Rapists should not only lose the right to that reproductive effort, in my opinion they should be required to have vasectomies. Repeat offenders should be castrated.

  • colleen

    I have no doubt the right would go Taliban on American women if they ever got the chance. We can’t let that happen.

    Thank you.

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • ahunt

    Heh…nitpickers are going to bitch about the "artificially induced period" rendering the uterus an inhospitable environment…and you know it. crowepps. Instigator!

  • princess-rot

    They tend to forget about little physical inconviences. Like the developing fetus crushing against other organs because I’m sure massive internal haemorrhage isn’t really that big a deal.

     

    When its happening to someone else.

     

    I’m in favor of developing a technique that utilizes excess space in an anti-choicer’s body to hold would-be aborted fetuses. All the personhood pushers – even the male ones – should be made to carry at least three to show how committed they are to really "saving babies".

    The anti-abortion movement would shut down overnight. Though we may have problems with the Quiverfulls.

  • emma

    Do you understand where I’m coming from when I say that we can’t all have our separate ideas about what the phrase ‘other people’ means?

    Then I guess we’ll have to agree that zygotes aren’t people.

  • emma

    So standing up for our own rights is a bad thing? Silliness. You clearly are still clinging to the notion that feminists are all baby-eating, man hating mean dykes, aren’t you.

    Well, I know I enjoy some stir-fried babies every now and then.

    (Kidding, all. I’m vegetarian.)

  • anonymous99

    Paul, Really, this "egg-as-person" stuff is scary as hell to me.  Talk about Big Brother.  Some people in America have gone off the deep end with this.  I DO NOT TRUST anyone who is spouting this ridiculous horseshit.  I don’t even want to imagine what things would be like in this country if "egg-as-person" people were running things in this country.  What a bunch of cooks!

  • anonymous99

    Rights are one thing, special priviledge is another.  There’s a difference.  I certainly don’t subscribe to the things you think I’m clearly clinging to except for the man-hating part.  I think there’s a lot of that going on.

  • prochoiceferret

    Rights are one thing, special priviledge is another. There’s a difference.

    Yep, isn’t feminism going too far these days?

    I certainly don’t subscribe to the things you think I’m clearly clinging to except for the man-hating part. I think there’s a lot of that going on.

    Yeah, why is that, anyway?

     

  • paul-bradford

    ahunt,

     

    Part of it, don’t you think, has to be connected to intention.  You brought up the issue of drinking coffee, or dwelling on upsetting thoughts, now you’re talking about the use of an IUD.  Coffee and upset are a normal part of life, and women manage to get pregnant and have babies even if they drink coffee or get upset.  These activities MIGHT (you’re more convinced of this than I am) have some effect on the probability of implantation but it would be unreasonable to expect someone to scrupulously avoid a normal part of life simply because there’s a teensy chance that said scruples would improve the success rate of their blastocyst child.  Who knows, worrying all the time about such things might be worse for your child!

     

    Same thing with an IUD, same thing with other forms of contraception that are designed to prevent conception (something I totally support when motherhood is not desired) but some people have suggested might adversely effect fertilized eggs.  Normal behavior absent the intention of harming another person (read: zygote/blastocyst) shouldn’t be obsessing you the way it is.

     

    I have no desire to disturb normal women doing normal things for normal reasons.  With regard to zygotes/blastocysts my interest is 1) in LEARNING if something more can be done for their health and safety and 2) in avoiding doing things that are DESIGNED to cause them harm.

     

    I want to make a personal plea:  You have it in your power to listen to what I say with the idea of actually UNDERSTANDING what I say instead of looking for an angle to make me look ridiculous.  No matter how hard you try to distort things I’m actually not a ridiculous person. 

     

    Don’t you think you can hold your own in a discussion with someone who wants to actually share ideas? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Evidence to support the claim that colleen’s rhetorical skills are superior to mine.

    Rhetorical skill isn’t sufficient to convince people – it’s also necessary to actually have a sound and sensible position.

  • crowepps

    You have it in your power to listen to what I say with the idea of actually UNDERSTANDING what I say instead of looking for an angle to make me look ridiculous.

    I know this is going to be difficult for you, but try to stretch your mind around it for just one minute. I do indeed understand exactly what your position is. My disagreement with you does not arise out of not UNDERSTANDING your position – it arises out of my reason telling me that your position is WRONG.

  • crowepps

    I have no desire to disturb normal women doing normal things for normal reasons.

    Don’t you think it’s just incredibly arrogant to abrogate to yourself the right to disturb ANY women, no matter what they’re doing? These women are total strangers to you and you are a total stranger to them. What could possibly elevate your personal philosophical beliefs to a status that would entitle you to go bother ANY of them?

     

    Do you really think any of those women are going to WANT to listen to some guy who shows up out of the blue and says, “I’m here to share with you my profound thoughts about the preciousness of the blastocyst that you MIGHT be carrying and how you should change your behavior to guard its health, just in case it actually is in there”? Pepper spray, Paul, pepper spray.

  • ahunt

    Actually Paul, I was just hoping to open your eyes to the enormity of your contempt for women. I usually avoid the "rape" scerario…simply because it is illogical to accept the right to abortion only in cases of rape.

     

    But you, Paul, deny raped women the right of self-defense by whatever means might work WHETHER OR NOT A ZYGOTE exists. In your view, a raped woman must do whatever is within her power to INSURE that the maybe-zygote implants. A raped woman may not even take steps to jump start her OWN MENSTRUAL PERIOD.

     

    Paul…you are not even defending an actual zygote here. You are demanding that women risk their own mental and physical health and well-being for a couple of cells that likely do not even exist!

     

    Misogyny…thy name is Paul.

     

     

     

     

  • emma

    I find it odd that Christian fundamentalists hate Islamic fundamentalists so much. I mean, sure, they have a few minor theological differences, but if they resolved those one would think they’d get along rather well.

  • anonymous99

    "I have no desire to disturb normal women doing normal things for normal reasons."  My God this is a scary statement Paul.  You think this is sharing ideas?  I take it you and your friends will decide what’s normal???

  • emma

    Zygotes don’t possess any subjectivity. They have about as much subjectivity as my desk. I still don’t see them as being intrinsically and cosmically significant just because they have human DNA. The idea that humans are the centre of the earth is essentially a religious one, I think, and I can’t get behind that.

     

    The bottom line, though, really, is that a zygote’s humanity is less important than the humanity of the woman in whose body it resides. It is still fundamentally unjust for women to be required to gestate an unwanted pregnancy. Seeing zygotes as people doesn’t require any effort on your part. It’s all very well to insist that zygotes are people whose lives are really, really important when those affected will only be other people. Aside from the fact that I disagree philosophically, your beliefs can only lead to injustice. Requiring sacrifice only from other people is unjust and unacceptable.

     

    In other words, I’m unconvinced, and honestly, the chances of my being converted to your viewpoint are smaller than a human zygote.

     

    ETA: This comment is horrifically written and I’m really dissatisfied with how I’ve expressed what I’m trying to say. Probably best to disregard.

  • harry834

    If you read my posts, you’ll see question concerning whether it is worth treating zygotes as people since they are microscopic or near-microscopic organisms. Paul never tried to directly answer, but he did say:

    “I want fewer zygotes conceived and a higher percentage of those zygotes developing into blastocysts and successfully implanting.”

    This seems to answer my question.

    I agree with Paul on one thing: this does depend on who one considers a person. But I’m opposed to the idea that microscopic or near-microscopic life should get the same consideration as the rest of us, including women.

    If you read my earlier posts, you’ll see that including zygotes in the realm of “people” (or at least people whose life we must not stop and do everything we can to allow to live until natural death) is a far greater extention than either comatose/vegatative people or premie babies in doctors care. Both these latter examples are often compared to the zygote because “the unborn is also unable to speak for itself”. And indeed there is biological similarity between the zygote, the premie baby, the healthy newborn, the vegative person, the awake person. BUT there is also biological DIFFERENCE between all these entities. That is all biology tells us – the similarities and the differences in terms of organismic complexity. It is WE who decide where to draw the line in terms of who we consider human.
    And I am glad that all the different forms of human from the oldest down to the newborn are considered the same for this purpose.

    But what about before birth? I’ve mentioned my thoughts on late-term fetuses and they’ve been covered an d discussed, by others. But we keep going further, or at least Paul’s people wants us to keep going further – all the way to a JUST-FORMED, MICROSCOPIC, ZYGOTE.

    To consider this micro-entity a “child” that a man has to think about as if it were his arm-cradled newborn is ridiculous. But not to Paul and those who agree with him. And we are never going to change their minds. And we have to accept that. I can accept that.

    All I can do is tell Paul and his fellow believers that many, many, many people don’t have the care about micro-human zyotes that he has. Yes it’s biologically similar enough to be biologically human. But if a bunch of zyogotes spilled from a test tube on the street, do you think that many would avoid walking on it for fear of committing murder the same way they crush an ant? Maybe Paul and his believers would walk and warn others that humans live in the white puddle of goo just spilled. If someone accidentally stepped on the goo-puddle, how much mourning would take place? How much should?

    The thing is, I think while there are those that share Paul’s view that these micro-entities are humans to be protected, there are many self-identitied “prolife” people who don’t really think like that. I think it is the THOUGHT of a “human being” being “terminated by man not nature” that gets people. I would simply tell them that hundreds of micro-zygotes fall away and you never notice them. Sure these are “acts of nature not man”, but if they are “people”. shouldn’t we call these “natural disasters”.

    Yes, that is ridiculous. We all agree to that. We don’t need to explain why we feel that absurdity in comparing the natural washing of zyogotes to a “natural disaster”. But then why should the man-made washing away cause us to EVEN THINK “murder”?

    One of these days, we need a demonstration where zyogotes are created and then spilled on the floor, or burned in petri dishes – THOUSANDS of petri dishes – in plain view, in TImes Square. Then we need to do this test tube/petri dish demonstration around the country at every town square. we need to show the world that MICROSCOPIC ORGANISMS ARE NOT MURDER VICTIMS, CHILDREN, “OUR” CHILDREN.

  • arium

    Same thing with an IUD, same thing with other forms of contraception that are designed to prevent conception
    (something I totally support when motherhood is not desired) but some people have suggested might adversely effect fertilized eggs.  Normal behavior absent the intention of harming another person (read:
    zygote/blastocyst) shouldn’t be obsessing you the way it is.

    Paul,

     

    Is this a change in position? I recall you having stated previously that you objected to forms of birth control that have even a theoretical secondary mechanism of preventing implantation.

  • colleen

    Evidence to support the claim that colleen’s rhetorical skills are superior to mine.

    On the contrary, my rhetorical skills are average and unremarkable. I’ve tried to tell you several times how conservative your beliefs are and what a limited and utterly dehumanizing effect they would have have on the individual and collective lives of women.

    As for a .sig, may I suggest: “Your uterine lining is my business.”

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    I understand the point you’re trying to make with your demonstration but it sounds pretty creepy to me, as well as a possible biohazard. Something similar happens all the time at fertility clinics, where efficiency and medical good sense leads to harvesting multiple eggs to create multiple blastocysts and then after the wanted number of successful pregnancies have been completed the excess supply is discarded. And, yes, there are people who protest this as ‘murder’ and insist that the unwanted blastocysts should be ‘available for adoption’ by others or stored forever as blastosicles.

    As I understand the psychology underlying this issue from other reading, and as evidenced by Paul’s focus on the word ‘intention’, the problem is not so much the blastocysts, thousands of which are lost naturally all the time, but instead outrage at the idea that women seize the agency to assert that they have a right to INTEND to avoid pregnancy and still have sex.

    As near as I can get into the mindset, it is that women should understand that FOR THEM sex is only a tolerable activity if pregnancy is possible because only the possibility of motherhood can sanctify a woman allowing her body to be polluted. In this worldview, there are only two possible reasons for a woman to have sex – because she wants to get pregnant or because she is depraved.

    Men, of course, are recognized to have urges that impel them towards sex, sometimes disastrously, urges which create temptations impossible for them to resist. Women, however, are believed to be free physiologically of any such urges and able to easily and absolutely control themselves so that the default position of girls/women is to stay forever chaste.

    On this biologically unlikely foundation is built the meme of the 13-year old girl’s ability to rationally ‘chose’ whether or not she has sex, since she is assumed to have no interest in sex herself and no urges leading her forward but that instead all the impulse to go ahead comes from outside, from some male who is ‘taking advantage of her’ by using power, the lure of possessions or psychological judo to coerce her into a behavior in which she would otherwise have no interest. From here it’s easier to understand those who insist that ‘all sex is rape’.

  • paul-bradford

    Zygotes don’t possess any subjectivity.

     

    Emma,

     

    Zygotes don’t possess any consciousness, or will, or intelligence, or sensation or emotion.  They do, however, have interests and it is in the interests of zygotes to live and to develop.  

     

    It is possible for the rest of us to take a zygote’s interests into consideration when we decide what we will do and it is also possible to disregard her/his interests and behave as if s/he were nothing more than ‘medical waste’.  When we legitimize the interests of a zygote we realize that her/his mother has a definite responsibility to support her/his care — but the mother isn’t the only one with responsibilities.  The rest of us have a responsibility as well to protect a zygote’s health and safety as s/he develops.  

     

    That’s why I’m a big supporter of universal health care.  Universal health care which includes comprehensive prenatal care is good for the very young and the better job we do of implementing it the more we will lower the abortion rate.  Another thing we can do is to pass laws that will compel fathers to support the care of their unborn children.  This will also serve to protect the interests of the very young.

     

    I still don’t see [zygotes] as being intrinsically and cosmically significant just because they have human DNA.

     

    I agree with you! My hemorrhoids have human DNA and I think we all understand that they have no ‘right to life’. My reason for thinking that a zygote is intrinsically valuable is that a zygote is a living human body — and living human bodies are significant.

     

    The idea that humans are the centre of the earth is essentially a religious one, I think, and I can’t get behind that.

     

    You do understand, I hope, that we as a society are going to have to come to some understanding about the value of human life whether we refer to religious ideas or come up with some other way of making that determination.  The question of the value of human life doesn’t go away when you unburden yourself of religious dogma.  

     

    a zygote’s humanity is less important than the humanity of the woman in whose body it resides.

     

    We both understand, don’t we, that every woman was, at one point in her life, a zygote.  I’m honestly curious about your thinking, Emma — what do you suppose happened along her development from zygote to biologically mature woman that enhanced her humanity? 

     

    It is still fundamentally unjust for women to be required to gestate an unwanted pregnancy.

     

    I’d go further than you, Emma.  I think it’s fundamentally unjust for a woman to commence an unwanted pregnancy.  I’m all for eliminating unwanted pregnancies and unwanted conceptions.  In fact, I think I’m more serious about this issue than you are because, from your point of view, an unwanted pregnancy can be remedied by abortion.

     

    For you, and unwanted pregnancy is an annoying nuisance.  For me it’s a precursor to an unwanted birth — and unwanted births take their toll on everyone. 

     

    Requiring sacrifice only from other people is unjust and unacceptable.

     

    Well, Emma, we certainly agree about that!  From my point of view, the mere existence of ‘other people’ requires sacrifice on my part.  I’d even go so far as to state that the ‘meaning of life’ is the realization that I can’t pursue my own interests without making the sacrifices necessary to take Emma’s interests into account.  As a matter of fact, that’s the only thing about ‘religion’ that I actually understand — the rest is a mystery to me.

     

    By the way, did you read my PLCC article?  I’d be curious to get your opinion of it. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • julie-watkins

    I like how you put that, thanks. Giving birth (giving life) must be a gift if a culture doesn’t want to treat women (& the poor) as second class … "Intention", indeed, is the thing. Since human biology is sexist don’t think it’s an ethical problem for a woman to intend sex and intend not to keep the pregnancy if her birth control fails. It’s a bigger ethical problem that societies take advantage of Nature’s sexism … especially as politicians and churches keep handwaving to explain how they’re not being unfair to women when they say it’s OK to make sexist laws or it’s OK to preach that women should besubservient.

  • dcardona

    Don’t forget that if you live in Colorado, you’ll be committing murder EVERY TIME you ejaculate.  Because – surprise – an egg inside a woman is not the only "biological beginning of a human," according to this law sperm must also be considered as such. Masturbation?  Killing millions.  Using a condom, a vasectomy or "pull out?"  Murder. And even if you fertilize one egg, what about the millions of other sperm that die?  You are an evil, evil killer.

  • dcardona

    Mr. Bradford, you can’t have it both ways. 

    I’d go further and say that a woman shouldn’t have to carry any baby she doesn’t want. The question is about whether an unwanted pregnancy can be ‘remedied’…She ought to be provided with any remedy possible short of killing a person. 

    You cannot say that women should not be forced to carry babies and then qualify it by saying as long as they aren’t "killing a person" if you are defining two conjoined reproductive cells as a baby/person. The two positions are mutually exclusive.  

  • paul-bradford

    dcardona,

     

    Once you get used to Mr. Bradford’s way of expressing himself, you’ll realize that when he says that "a woman shouldn’t have to carry any baby she doesn’t want" he means that "if a woman doesn’t want to be a mother she shouldn’t become a mother".  Similarly, he believes that if a man doesn’t want to be a father he shouldn’t become one. 

     

    It’s not just that women shouldn’t be forced to carry a baby ‘to term’ — women shouldn’t be forced to carry a baby even for the ‘moment of conception’.

     

    Every zygote should be a wanted zygote. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    Well gee Paul…hitherto…you have not hesitated to tell us all what we should think and feel about any given zygote.

     

    ahunt,

     

    I carried you around in my head, yesterday, while I was working.  We had quite an interesting conversation!  I honestly can’t tell whether you’ve been having trouble understanding me, or whether you just don’t want to understand me.

     

    That comment you made earlier about my being ‘chickenshit’ kind of got to me.  Not so much because I’m bothered by you calling me a name, but because I can’t help but think you were really hurting when you called me out.  If you were hurting it was because you were thinking that I was saying that the woman whose blastocyst fails to implant should feel as much loss as the woman who loses a baby late in pregnancy.  If that’s what you think, I’m not making myself clear.

     

    I have nothing to say about ‘feelings’.  I only want to talk about justice, and fairness.  I’m sure you realize that a person’s feelings don’t always give her/him a reliable idea about what is fair.

     

    Trouble yourself to read this illustrative story:

     

    Dr. Choice is an OB/GYN.  One morning he gets a call from Amber.  Amber has been married for five years.  All her life all she’s wanted was to be a mother.  Her husband has a good job and is more than capable of supporting a family.  Until a few months ago they had been frustrated by their inability to conceive — when she finally found out she was pregnant and she was beyond delighted.  Today she found that she was spotting and Dr. Choice called her in for an examination.

     

    Amber was in the process of miscarrying and even though Dr. Choice did everything he could to help, she lost the baby.  It was a difficult and unhappy morning.

     

    Then, in the afternoon, another patient, Pam, came in.  Pam is younger than Amber, she’s unmarried, she’s got a boyfriend but she’s not sure where that relationship is heading.  At any rate, she wants to finish college before she starts to think about starting a family.  Pam reports to Dr. Choice that after an evening of drinking, she and her boyfriend foolishly had unprotected sex.  What’s worse, they did it at the most fertile point in her period.  Dr. Choice administers a dose of mifepristone.  

     

    Two weeks later Amber is so distraught about losing the baby that she lashes out against Dr. Choice and hits him with an entirely unwarranted malpractice suit.  At the same time, Pam  gets her period.  Somewhere in her menstrual discharge, like a needle in a haystack, is the corpse of her blastocyst child.  Pam is so delighted by this course of events that she bakes Dr. Choice a batch of brownies.

     

    OK, ahunt, here’s the deal.  I don’t expect Pam to feel the same way about the loss of her child that Amber feels about the loss of hers.  Nor do I expect Amber to feel like Pam feels.  I don’t expect Dr. Choice to have the same feelings about the two children.  I don’t expect you to have the same feeling about them and, frankly, I don’t have the same feelings about them.  This story isn’t about feelings.  It’s about fairness.

     

    There are a couple of things that are similar about the two stories.  In neither situation was the mother’s health at risk and in both situations the child’s life hung in the balance.  In the case of Amber’s child, Dr. Choice did everything he could to keep her/him alive.  In the case of Pam’s child, he did everything he could to see that s/he died. 

     

    I say that both children deserved good care.  I say that an unwanted blastocyst is as deserving of good care as a wanted late-term fetus.  Not everyone evokes the same feelings in her/his mother — but everyone deserves to be treated fairly.

     

    That’s what I’ve been saying all along.  I don’t expect you to agree with me, but I don’t want you to think that I’m some sort of insensitive brute who doesn’t understand the first thing about a mother’s feelings. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • harry834

    And while I don’t agree with the moral conclusion (because I and many others don’t accept zygotes and blastcysts as anywhere near late-term fetuses, let alone newborns),

    I do find the story to be a good articulation of your point.

  • harry834
  • ahunt

    Here’s your problem, Paul. Pam has no way of knowing whether or not the zygote exists. You are demanding that Pam behave as if she has conceived when chances are excellent that she has not…(and if she has, odds are more than 50% implantation will fail) and when she has no desire to be pregnant.

    Paul…not only are you defending a figment of your own imagination…you require that fertile women everywhere respond to the figment of your imagination with utter self-abnegation.

     

    Un peu bizarre, non?

  • ahunt

    I tought about this for awhile…and offer up my own story.

     

    Sometime 2012, Amber is happily married to Steve and eager to start the family. She does everything right, down to the test that confirmed the pregnancy 24 hour after coitus. Amber and Steve, are overjoyed, and do everything in their power to insure baby zygote implants. Amber’s period comes on time.  Now repeat, and repeat, and repeat. In 2015, Amber finally gives birth to a baby girl.

     

    Meanwhile UoM party girl Rachel is enjoying playing the field. She’s careful about BC and and is regularly seeing Phil, a good guy, but not the one. The condom glitch is troubling, but Rachel used spermicide and the timing wasn’t bad. When Rachel’s period is late, she gets really nervous…parties harder, hot tubs twice a day to ease high tension, and drinks Blue Cohosh tea because she heard from a woo-woo dormmate that it stimulates menstrual flow. Rachel’s period comes three weeks late, and all is right with the world.

     

  • dcardona

    Then you should say what you mean. Any person’s way of expressing themselves should not obfuscate the issue.

     

    Namely, saying women shouldn’t create a baby and saying they shouldn’t be forced to carry a baby mean two different things, especially in a forum such as this.  And especially when not everyone agrees on what constitutes a baby in the first place. The former more accurately describes your position as you explained it (still, in vague terms because many people do not share your belief that carying a possible zygote makes them a "mother") while the latter implies access to emergency contraception, abortion and the like.

     

    The passage and enforcement of the propsed legal definition of personhood will strip personal rights from fully developed people.  Your faith leads you to belive that zygotes are peole, too, so I commend your earnest efforts to protect them.  However, I only wish you success in changing the hearts and minds of individual women and men who can then take action to ensure their zygotes are wanted because I find the idea of compelling a diverse citizenry to adhere to laws borne out of a specific religious belief such as this to be articularly odious.

  • paul-bradford

    I find the idea of compelling a diverse citizenry to adhere to laws borne out of a specific religious belief such as this to be articularly odious.

     

    dcarona,

     

    I’m no fan of laws myself.  I suggest that you read my post near the top of this thread.

     

    You talk about ‘a specific religious belief’.  My belief is that human beings have the power to establish a value for human life.  My belief is that it’s "in our hands".  My belief is that the value we place on human life has a tremendous impact on the quality of lives that we lead.  My belief is that history gives us many examples of societies that expanded the circle of what they considered ‘valuable human life’ and that those examples are examples of the kind of progress I want us to continue to make.

     

    I don’t see that anyone has to adhere to a specific religious belief in order to get into a productive discussion of the issues I just mentioned. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    I carried you around in my head, yesterday, while I was working. We had quite an interesting conversation! I honestly can’t tell whether you’ve been having trouble understanding me, or whether you just don’t want to understand me.

    If I am understanding this part of your comment correctly, you had an interesting conversation with ahunt in which you supplied all of her answers out of your own imagination. Considering that you were the one supplying both sides of the discussion, it’s problematic why she didn’t understand you. You might want to consider whether your habit of having long imaginary conversations in which you supply the other person’s words might be part of the reason why you are so boggled when in ACTUAL conversation the other party goes off script.

  • paul-bradford

    Un peu bizarre, non?

     

    ahunt,

     

    Here’s what I think is ‘funny’.  I think it’s funny that I have never once requested any sort of behavior on the part of fertile women that would, in any sense, qualify as ‘self abnegation’.  Never.  Never close.  Funny thing is, you keep bringing it up.

     

    It isn’t that hard.  You’re a thousand times smarter than you need to be in order to understand me so I have to think you’re being deliberately dense. 

     

    If somebody drops a bomb on my house, there’s a very good chance that nobody will be home.  And, since the bombardier has no way of finding out, he’s no more guilty of killing someone than Dr. Choice is.

     

    My request of women is that they not go out of their way to do something that would put the health or the safety of a zygote/blastocyst (that they may or may not be carrying — who knows?) at risk.  There are warnings on certain drugs that say "Do not handle if you’re pregnant or you may be pregnant".  Is that the kind of warning that requires ‘self abnegation’ on the part of women?

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Zygotes don’t possess any consciousness, or will, or intelligence, or sensation or emotion. They do, however, have interests and it is in the interests of zygotes to live and to develop.

    On what basis do you make this claim? Theoretically, it’s possible that the whole purpose of mankind’s existence is to produce the known majority – zygotes which exist for only a very short time and then die – all for some esoteric purpose known only to God, and therefore those zygotes which go on and develop all the way through to birth and personhood are the FAILURES and only necessary to God’s purposes in order to produce more short-term zygotes.

    You take for granted that your assumptions about the living and developing give you special insights into the value of zygotes but in doing so you consistently ignore your own bias.

    We both understand, don’t we, that every woman was, at one point in her life, a zygote. I’m honestly curious about your thinking, Emma — what do you suppose happened along her development from zygote to biologically mature woman that enhanced her humanity?

    She was born alive and grew up.

  • crowepps

    My belief is that human beings have the power to establish a value for human life. My belief is that it’s “in our hands”. My belief is that the value we place on human life has a tremendous impact on the quality of lives that we lead.

    I agree with you about all of these statements. The traditional value for human life did NOT include blastocysts and most people do not believe it is reasonable to include them now.

    Considering that you repeatedly admit that if you succeeded in changing the value to include speculative people things will become much more difficult for everyone, why do you continue to attempt to redefine normality for the rest of the universe according to your personal definition?

    If it’s “in our hands” why do you repeatedly slap away everyone else’s hands and insist that only your own are capable of carrying The Truth?

  • ahunt

    Paul…again…you are demanding the women completely alter their
    lives on the off chance that a zygote might exist. Do I really need to
    (again) compile a list of normal, everyday activities, work
    environments, and legal recreational activities that do in fact carry
    significant risk to the zygote?

     

    You cannot have it both ways. You cannot claim on one hand that all you are requesting of women is that they not go out of their way to do
    something that would put the health or the safety of a
    zygote/blastocyst (that they may or may not be carrying — who knows?)
    at risk…
    while simultaneously denying that you are not demanding that women subvert their lives to a figment of YOUR imagination….

     

    because…

     

    …the fact is that sexually active fertile women can never be completely certain that she is NOT pregnant. I know this well. We women bet on the odds, and go about our business.

  • crowepps

    My request of women is that they not go out of their way to do something that would put the health or the safety of a zygote/blastocyst (that they may or may not be carrying — who knows?) at risk. There are warnings on certain drugs that say “Do not handle if you’re pregnant or you may be pregnant”. Is that the kind of warning that requires ‘self abnegation’ on the part of women?

    Well, yes, Paul, it does, doesn’t it? Your ‘request’ of women is that they at all times act as though they are pregnant. If you are not aware of what that entails, that can only be because you have never explored the question.

     

    Just for a few examples, this would mean that women who are sexually active and who agree to “not go out of their way to do something that would put the health or the safety of a zygote/blastocyst” at risk would comply with the KNOWN warnings and never drink alcohol, avoid everything containing caffeine, give up saunas and hot tubs, give away their cats, avoid anything which might place them in a state of ‘stress’, avoid certain prescription medications, ibuprofen and eating peas, and take prenatal vitamins ‘just in case’.

     

    To me that sounds like self-abnegation indeed – ‘since I am sexually active my life must always be structured towards the possibility, however unlikely, that I may be the host of a zygote or blastocyst.’

     

    Of course, women could avoid all this in three ways: they could remain virgins for life, they could be sterilized at age 12, or they could remain blissfully illiterate so that they weren’t aware that these activities are ‘anti-blastocyst’ and live life to the full as equal citizens since their ignorance of the warnings would mean they wouldn’t be ‘intending’ to do the blastocyst any harm.

     

    There is a standard in law called “knowingly” that applies here: “A person acts knowingly with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a provision of law defining an offense when the person is aware that the conduct is of that nature or that the circumstance exists. When knowledge of the existence of a particular fact is an element of an offense, that knowledge is established if a person is aware of a substantial probability of its existence, unless the person actually believes it does not exist. A person who is unaware of conduct or a circumstance of which the person would have been aware had the person not been intoxicated acts knowingly with respect to that conduct or circumstance.”

     

    The problem with protesting that you haven’t “requested any sort of behavior…that would, in any sense, qualify as ‘self abnegation'” is that you cannot seem to grasp that in making such a global request about “intent” you include everything “when the person is aware that the conduct is of that nature”, in other words ALL of the currently known risks and any future risks not now known but which may be discovered in future.

     

    You seem to be unable to grasp that ‘women not going out of their way to harm the blastocyst’ would have to modify their behaviors in a way that conforms to all these admonitions as an inherent part of the process. This is a failure of your responsibility to be conscious of just what it is that you are requesting, not a strategy of being “deliberately dense” on the part of the people who are aware of and take into consideration the actual facts.

     

    Now that you are aware that “the circumstance exists”, if you want to have a fruitful discussion of your idea, you’re going to have to address how you see this actually working in the real world. Your protests to date seem to sum up that you wish to change the way that women THINK about blastocysts but it isn’t any responsibility of yours if as a result they then have to change what they DO.

  • ahunt

    And we can discuss employment…anything involving radiation or chemical exposure, or the high threat of exposure to infectious agents…

     

    …the list will grow as maternal science advances.

  • paul-bradford

    It seems to me that there’s got to be some room between ‘utter disregard’ and ‘scrupulous hyper-vigilance’.  It’s almost as if your argument boils down to the thought that it’s impossible to ask women to ‘take reasonable precautions’ without making them vulnerable to ‘unreasonable expectations’.

     

    The fact that you both refuse to envision a situation that’s ‘reasonable’ as opposed to ‘unreasonable’ makes me think that you’re more interested in making me look ridiculous than you are in getting a clear look at what a true respect for life would entail. 

     

    I could say this to either of you, but it seems to me that when I talk to ahunt we overlook what we agree about in order to clash where we disagree.

     

    This is what I mean:  We both agree that a woman’s life would be easier, and freer if she can justify treating her unborn child as if s/he were medical waste.  Conversely, we also agree that a woman’s life becomes more burdensome and more confining if she’s obligated to treat her unborn child as an actual human being.  What we end up arguing about — and I certainly wish we would stop — is exactly how burdensome and confining her life would become. 

     

    This is why the argument is silly:  You’re standing up for the freedom, and privacy and autonomy of women.  You’re certainly not going to say, "We’ll give away our freedom as long as we don’t have to give up too much of it."  I’m standing up for the right of people to live.  Do you think I’m going to say, "I suppose people forfeit their right to life when they become too much trouble for somebody else."?

     

    Anything that lies between the extremes (and that’s where reality lies) compels us to decide whether or not we’re going to acknowledge or deny the humanity of any particular young person.  Acknowledging that humanity will take a toll on that young person’s mother (it will also take a toll on the rest of us — but even though I say this again and again nobody seems to want to pick up on it).  There’s no reason to shy away from that fact.

     

    My claim (and I suppose this is where you get past the superficial issue of care for the unborn and move into the fundamental issue of the meaning of life) is that acknowledging someone else’s humanity always exacts a toll on us — the fact that our pursuit of happiness gets overturned by someone else’s needs is the reality that I say makes life meaningful.

     

    Women have been getting this message — the message that the secret to life is other people’s happiness — forever.  The fact that some people seem to think that this secret only applies to women and not to men, or that some of the people delivering this message are revolting hypocrites doesn’t alter the fact that the message is true. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    My claim (and I suppose this is where you get past the superficial
    issue of care for the unborn and move into the fundamental issue of the
    meaning of life) is that acknowledging someone else’s humanity
    always
    exacts a toll on us — the fact that our pursuit of happiness gets
    overturned by someone else’s needs is the reality that I say makes life
    meaningful.

    Pardon me if I don’t give a sailing shit about what YOU think makes MY life "meaningful, Paul.

     

    At least  we’re getting somewhere. 

     

    Tell us, Paul..what are the minimum reasonable precautions for women who WANT to be pregnant? Because this is your baseline, Paul, and you cannot wriggle out of it. You are requiring that women behave, at minimum, as if they WANT to be pregnant, whether or not such is the case.

     

    I have much more to say, but none of it is polite/respectful.

  • princess-rot

     …outrage at the idea that women seize the agency to assert that they
    have a right to INTEND to avoid pregnancy and still have sex.

    Its a lot of factors that fuel the anti mindset, most of which have roots in misogyny and morality.

    For females, self-denial and restriction have always been seen
    as healthier (even though its not) and "purer", whether the desire in
    question is food, sex, love or anything else you can think of. Its part
    of the eons-old equation that we’re not fully human, and for a
    non-human to participate in default human (male) acts is verboten. We
    are in the powerless position of being held responsible for everything
    to do with sex and reproduction (yes, anti-choicers, they are mutually
    exclusive) while getting no benefit out of it. What Stanek and her ilk don’t seem to get that if you push for women in general to be seen as shit, then girlfriend, you’re shit too.

    Some that aren’t based in the former but in general human fear and arrogance. One is fear of mortality, and the human assumption that we are more than a tiny pocket of life in a very big universe, on a world that is an evolutionary blip in the circle of life and not a super-special world created just for us precious snowflake creatures to use and abuse. If the Sun went supernova tomorrow, having a herd of children will not change anything. You’ll all be dead. Even one hundred years from now, the vast majority of people will be dead and forgotten. Having your genes in great-x4 grandchildren will mean nothing, really, because its only DNA. It doesn’t achieve anything. You can’t be immortal by proxy.

  • paul-bradford

    I have much more to say, but none of it is polite/respectful.

     

    ahunt,

     

    You’re wearing me down.  I keep thinking that I can get us to back away from disasterizations, and distortions, and disrespect but I’m learning that I can’t possibly get into a conversation with you if you keep insisting on having a shouting match.

     

    Pardon me if I don’t give a sailing shit about what YOU think makes MY life "meaningful", Paul.

     

    You’re wrong about this.  You actually do care about my opinion on the meaning of life and I care about yours.  That’s because, both of us being human, we have an effect on each other.  You definitely care about what large groups of people think about the meaning of life because those thoughts can fuel awful things like war and genocide and slightly less awful things like subjugation and discrimination.  On the other hand, if large groups of people have healthy thoughts about the meaning of life they can advance what we call ‘progress’.

     

     

    [T]his is your baseline, Paul, and you cannot wriggle out of it.

     

    As I said, it’s hard for me to expect a person to understand me if they’re determined to make an ass out of me, but I’ll give it another shot.

     

    Suppose I were to say, "We’ve got to do something about road and highway safety.  There are too many deaths, too many injuries, too many accidents.  Better public policies would mean more people staying alive."

     

    Suppose you responded, "Don’t you know how many things effect safety?  If we listen to you no one will be able to drive faster than ten miles an hour, no one will be allowed to listen to the radio or get into a conversation while they’re driving, there will be cops on every corner and we’d get traffic tickets for the tiniest violations."

     

    I would say, "ahunt, you’re being hysterical.  We can save lives without asking people to give up everything they enjoy."

     

    I’ve said this before but one hundred years ago the infant mortality rate (per cent of children who die in the first year after birth) was 11%.  Right now it’s slightly more than 1/2%  That’s gigantic progress — and we did it without chaining mothers and caregivers to their babies.

     

    We can improve the survival rate of the unborn.  We can lower the rate of procured abortion and we can lower the rate of spontaneous abortion.  We can save fetuses, embryos, blastocysts and zygotes.  I know we can, and I’m saying that we should. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Women have been getting this message — the message that the secret to life is other people’s happiness — forever. The fact that some people seem to think that this secret only applies to women and not to men, or that some of the people delivering this message are revolting hypocrites doesn’t alter the fact that the message is true.

    The message is true, in your opinion. In my opinion, it’s a con. After a lifetime of putting other people first and having their own happiness ignored, women lose faith in the ‘truth’ of your message. Funny how having women put other people first makes men really happy — could it perhaps be because the men don’t have to reciprocate?

     

    Actually, I’d say that most people seem to think that this secret only applies to women, so if you really want to spread your message, why aren’t you trying to sell it in the field where the most converts are available — to the men? Why are you here on a ProChoice blog insisting that life will improve if there is a propaganda push to encourage women to EXPAND the number of other ‘people’ on whose behalf they should be self-abnegating?

     

    The problem as I see it is not that we are identifying ‘super-scrupulosity’ and you are promoting ‘reasonable’ but instead that we prefer to leave decisions about “the meaning of life” to the individual women themselves and you think there should be a public policy campaign to brainwash everyone with the beliefs of your personal ‘blastocysts are people’ cult.

     

    Considering how many ProLife activists have come on here and bleated about how they have no problem at all with what they call the tiny percentage of medically necessary therapeutic abortions it might be instructive for you to read the other article on Reality Check about the radicals who are (hopefully not literally) bringing their guns to bear on the NEXT doctor who performs those exact types of abortions. You keep saying ‘nobody will be unreasonable about codifying and enforcing this’ but there are ProLife forces being widely tolerated NOW that are massively unreasonable about ectopic pregnancy, nonviable fetuses and saving women’s lives. Why should we ignore all the evidence of extremism that actually exists now and believe your assurances that somehow if these extortionists are given ‘blastocyst as people’ amendments, in the future these kooks will miraculously become reasonable?

  • crowepps

    You’re wrong about this. You actually do care about my opinion

    This is an incredibly patronizing statement. You might get further in trying to convince people to take your arguments seriously if you would stop telling other people what they think and how they feel.