Anti-choice Groups Denounce Nevada “Egg-As-Person” Amendment


Four conservative organizations blasted the latest effort to
promote zygote civil rights through a 2010 Nevada state ballot measure setting
up yet another schism between the local and national anti-choice movements.

In a statement that could only charitably be summed up as
"We’ve got things under control here. Butt out." Nevada Life, the
Nevada Eagle Forum and Nevada Families issued a statement that the
personhood petition language
is "so vague
and general that it may not even apply to abortion at all."

The trio was joined by the Nevada
Independent American Party, a political group formally affiliated with the
Christian paleoconservative Constitution Party. The latter of which has
attracted the likes of radical, absolutist anti-choice activists Matt Trewhella
and perennial political candidate Alan Keyes among other hard-liners.

Don Nelson of Nebraska Life complained, "This bill has no chance of ending abortion in America
or in Nevada. And the effect of this could add more precedence to supporting
Roe v. Wade."

The ultra-conservative stand off could pit tens of thousands
of ideologically-driven Nevadans against one another at the ballot box next
year.

Membership figures were not available for the anti-choice
groups but the Nevada IAP boasts 49,000 registered voters and reportedly
employs five lobbyists to represent its interests in the state legislature.

The surprise announcement, at least figuratively, joins the
groups on the side of Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union
of Nevada which filed a Nov. 12 lawsuit to block the petition process.

Similar to an unsuccessful Colorado Supreme Court lawsuit
intended to halt the first ever 2008 personhood state ballot measure, Planned
Parenthood and the ACLU argue that the Nevada petition violates the single
subject rule and is misleading to voters.

"It utterly fails not only to mention
it will ban all abortions — even in the case of rape and incest — that it
will prevent much fertility treatment and birth control, but that it conflicts
with a prior vote of the Nevada electorate and it conflicts with the U.S.
Supreme Court," said Lee Rowland of the ACLU of Nevada. "Voters need
to understand what a monumental change they would be making should they vote
for this initiative."

Predictably, Personhood Nevada backer Richard Ziser, a
colorful character in state politics and wielding a Masters Degree in Christian
Apologetics
, fired back.

He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that since the
plaintiffs understood what his measure intended voters would too.

A hearing has not yet been set by the Carson City district
court.

Unlike Colorado’s ballot supporters who were overwhelmingly
rejected 73-27 by voters, Ziser is no political neophyte.

In 2000, Ziser successfully headed a state initiative to
define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Though local
politicos grumbled the measure was simply designed to boost Ziser’s future
ambitions, he was resoundingly defeated 60-30 in his 2004 bid for U.S. Senate
against democratic incumbent and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The recently
launched multi-state personhood movement, with the backing of well-heeled
national groups
with millions of dollars at their disposal, signals his
political comeback.

But there’s still quite an uphill climb.

Besides the legal hoops, Nevada has a unique ballot
structure that requires two successive votes to change the state constitution.

According to the Las Vegas Sun: Ziser needs the signatures
of 97,002 voters to qualify for the 2010 election ballot. And if passed, the
ballot measure would have to be approved again by the voters in 2012.

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  • paul-bradford

    Four conservative organizations blasted the latest effort to promote zygote civil rights through a 2010 Nevada state ballot measure setting up yet another schism between the local and national anti-choice movements.

     

    Wendy,

     

    Schism, I think, is too strong a word; but there certainly is an extremely pointed dispute within the Pro-Life movement about the feasibility of a ‘Personhood Amendment’.  By the way, I’m glad there’s a dispute because we in the Pro-Life movement need to do some serious introspection if we want to be effective in the role of protecting the very young.  Right now there are a lot of things Pro-Lifers do that actually raise the abortion rate instead of lowering it. 

     

    You didn’t mention this, but there were disputes within the movement both in 2008 around the Colorado amendment and in 2009 in the North Dakota campaign.  The Catholic bishops in both states decided that the ‘personhood’ route was an unwise path to follow and in both states they declined to back the measures.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the bishops in Nevada follow suit.

     

    There is a huge difference between asserting that a zygote is a person (which is undeniably true) and in enshrining this principle into the penal code.  A respect for life from the moment of conception has to begin with a change in attitude, not a change in law.  What seems obvious to some of us is actually a hard concept for a lot of people to grasp.  Zygotes don’t look like our idea of what people are, they have no intelligence or volition or sensation or consciousness.  They are basically invisible to us and we have no way of knowing when they have come into being.  For that reason, a lot of people have genuine difficulty getting their heads around the concept that zygotes are people just like they are.  A personhood amendment would do more to calcify this difficulty than it would do to relieve it.

     

    To me, it seems silly to deny that zygotes and blastocysts are people if you’re going to assert that embryos and fetuses are.  Hell, to me it seems silly to deny that fetuses are people if you’re going to assert that infants are.  Just the same, though, most folks are a long way from realizing that a fertilized egg is a person.  Realizing that they’re people, however, is different than thinking that one can fashion a workable law to support their protection.

     

    By the way, Wendy, it’s misleading to use the phrase "Egg-As-Person" because only fertilized eggs, or zygotes, are persons.  The number of eggs that exist at any given time is enormous.  The number of zygotes is actually quite small (less than 100,000).  You could use the phrase "Conceptus-As-Person" to avoid confusion.  Also, the phrase ‘anti-choice’ is more derogatory than it is descriptive.  You might want to stop using that term if you actually intend to enter into productive and respectful discussions with the advocates of the unborn. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    There is a huge difference between asserting that a zygote is a person (which is undeniably true)

    I have no problem denying that statement because I am aware of the huge percentage of zygotes where the DNA is too scrambled or inadequate to form ‘a person’ and those molar pregnancies where there is certainly no ‘person’ ever possible. Just like any other Big Lie, constant repetition doesn’t make this statement any more true.

     

    Healthy changes in attitude are based in bringing people’s beliefs into line with the actual true facts as they exist. The inability to tolerate ambiguity may make conformity seem emotionally safer, but instead makes the situation much more fragile. Every outlier is a threat and it’s necessary to pile denial onto denial in order to maintain the myth.

  • colleen

    What seems obvious to some of us is actually a hard concept for a lot of people to grasp.

    I suggest that you stop pretending that those of us who disagree with your religious beliefs lack understanding, imagination or intelligence. A zygote is no more a ‘person’ than a pine cone is a ‘tree or a set of blue prints is a ‘building’.

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    Happened to dip into “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution” by Dawkins at the library, and he stated at one point that the DNA pattern in a conception should not be described as a blueprint but rather more accurately as a “recipe”. I found that an interesting distinction, because certainly it’s a better analogy in that the outcome will be unworkable if the recipe is garbled or various contaminants are present to ruin things, but it also seems to clarify that in humans, the woman has very little control over the process, has to provide the necessary ingredients and can’t be held responsible for the end product because she can’t actually read the recipe. When you’re working with blueprints, at least you know what it is you’re supposed to do.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Dear Paul,

    As you know, a zygote is a fertilized egg.  We use the term "egg-as-person" because we too feel language is critically important and that for too long mainstream media and others have simply adopted the language of the anti-choice movement without question.  A good example is the term "partial birth abortion," a procedure that actually does not exist, and yet which was politically elevated by the use of misleading language and misinformation to the point it was used to limit women’s rights in many states and nationally.

     

    Likewise, we use the term "anti-choice" consciously.  Many people, including me, consider themselves "pro-life" and pro-choice.  I am pro-life for born persons and against any forms of inequity or discrimination that deny opportunities for any born person.

     

    In 25 years in this field, I have never met anyone who was "pro-abortion," or any professional who did not understand that acess to safe, legal abortion services was but one small though critical aspect of access to a broader range of reproductive health services.  Rather, people in this community are pro-choice because they understand that people need and have a right to choices that best suit their own needs and stage of life.  Yet in the world of politics, anti-choice groups continue to use the term "pro-abortion" to mislead and distract from the broader agenda around denying women any sexual and reproductive health choices, as evidenced by threads elsewhere on the site regarding whether a woman should carry a brain-dead fetus to term.

     

    "Anti-choice" more accurately describes those who want to impose their own religious and politically ideology on others and who think they are "right" in determining what is good for all other people; those who do not believe women should have choices in whether or not to bear children, including the choice of and access to safe abortion services as part of a broader package of essential reproductive and sexual health services; and those who simultaneously seek to deny women access to contraceptive methods which they erroneously refer to as abortifacients. 

     

    As an example, according to accepted international medical terminology, no pregnancy exists until a fertilized ovum successfully implants in the woman. You argue strenuously here that every fertilized egg is a person with equal rights.  That terminology and definition is not only inaccurate medically and scientifically, but reflects an ideology that would rob women of virtually all choices in childbearing incompatible with an active sex life.

     

    The pro-choice community is exactly that: for the right of persons to make the choices they feel best for them can given their own circumstances.  Even Progo acknowledges here that while she would deny other women support for a troubled pregnancy, she is not 100 percent sure what she would do in such a circumstance.  She wants to be able to choose.  Everyone has that right.  Anti-choice politics seeks to remove those rights and choices.

     

    Jodi

     

  • paul-bradford

    I am aware of the huge percentage of zygotes where the DNA is too scrambled or inadequate to form ‘a person’ and those molar pregnancies where there is certainly no ‘person’ ever possible.

     

    crowepps,

     

    You and I both know that a lot of zygotes won’t develop much past the zygote phase, you and I both know that a lot of zygotes can’t develop much past the zygote phase.  These realities do not affect the way we ought to answer these questions:

     

    1) Is it justifiable to destroy a zygote for the purpose of birth control?

     

    2) Is it justifiable to use viable zygotes for scientific purposes?

     

    3) Is it justifiable to create zygotes outside of the natural environment?

     

    Those are the only questions I’m aware of that have a practical application in determining how we ought to treat zygotes.  It is entirely true that, due to genetic or other reasons, some zygotes are doomed to die before they can develop.  How does that information inform our decisions about how to treat zygotes in situations such as the ones I described above?

     

    We’ve discussed this before.  It makes no sense to me to withhold personhood until one is ‘out of the woods’, so to speak, and has good long-term prospects.  None of us are ever completely out of the woods.

     

    The inability to tolerate ambiguity may make conformity seem emotionally safer, but instead makes the situation much more fragile. Every outlier is a threat and it’s necessary to pile denial onto denial in order to maintain the myth.

     

    I should be giving you that lecture!  It seems to me that you’re having a hard time offering respect to someone given the ambiguity of having no assurance that that person has a long and healthy life ahead of her/him.  You think that personhood is dependent upon one’s likelihood of further development.  I don’t see how one thing has to do with the other.

     

    My contention is that it is profoundly immoral to take action that would deny a zygote the chance to develop normally.  You try to refute my contention by pointing out that a certain percentage of zygotes would never develop normally even if they had the chance.  I see no need to deny your scientifically accurate observation, but at the same time I have a lot of trouble seeing how that observation overturns my contention.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • julie-watkins

    My contention is that it is profoundly immoral to take action that would deny a zygote the chance to develop normally.

    It totally boggles my mind this mindset that it’s immoral to question the “rules of the game” when the rules are unfair. Nature is sexist. Most of the time society wants to enforce Nature’s Sexism, and further takes advantage to be classist as well. Giving birth (giving life) is a gift not an obligation and you’re being immoral by insisting you’re not treating women/poor people unfairly when you keep insisting that it is “undeniably true” that a zygote is a person and the “parents” have moral obligations.

  • colleen

    Nature is sexist.

    So are Paul and his Church. Their sexism is an integral ingredient of the twisted set of ideas about human sexuality and gender roles they try to sell as ‘morality’.

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • julie-watkins

    I don’t think I ever "believed" in an afterlife & all, … but it was when I started reading official statements about Gays and "instrinsically disordered" that I dug into official documents and found how anti-homosexual & anti-woman it was on top of the hierarchy … and I stopped calling myself "culturally Catholic". Yuck. Aweful. The phrase now is "former Catholic".
  • crowepps

    Is it justifiable to create zygotes outside of the natural environment?

    I don’t remember if you’ve ever stated a position on this issue – is this statement an indication that you are opposed to in vitro fertiliztion?

    I don’t feel compelled to “overturn” your contention. I just think it’s wrong-headed and disagree with it. So, no, the idea that a zygote is a “person” is NOT “undeniably true”. I deny it and I think it’s false. I’m sure that won’t change your mind, of course. You are too steeped in the idea that the proper way for a man to be moral is to exteriorize the costs of doing so by designating women as the morality pinch-hitters.

     

    The idea that there is some sort of “respect” due to a zygote that will develop into a molar pregnancy, or one that has DNA incompatible with further development, and that as a consequence then women of reproductive age have to be either virgins or if sexually active consider themselves pregnant unless proven otherwise, seems to me to profoundly ignore that this meme totally DISrespects women who want to do something with their lives besides contemplate their uterus.

  • paul-bradford

    "Anti-choice" more accurately describes those who want to impose their own religious and politically ideology on others and who think they are "right" in determining what is good for all other people

     

    Jodi,

     

    I really, truly want us to stop talking past each other.  I know you think you understand what I’m saying, but I think you don’t.  Please try to listen.

     

    If ‘choice’ means allowing a woman to make her own medical decisions with respect to her pregnancy, I am Pro-Choice.  If ‘choice’ means allowing people to opt out of parenthood if they don’t want to have children, I am Pro-Choice.  If the people on this board took the concept of ‘choice’ that far and no farther I would have no reason to argue.

     

    The trouble is that you take ‘choice’ to a place where you have no right to take choice.  You claim that a pregnant woman has the choice to determine whether or not the life inside her is a person or not.  That’s not choice, it’s hubris.

     

    I really do get apoplectic about this because it goes far beyond the abortion question and beyond what we typically think of as ‘political questions’.  It goes right to the heart of what it means to be alive.  The essence of ethical behavior is the idea that we are bound to confine our behavior in accordance with the rights of other people.  It’s very important to take some time to consider the term ‘other people’.

     

    I cannot choose who is included when we talk about ‘other people’.  I can’t make up my own mind whether women, or dark-skinned people, or foreigners or non-Catholics, or disabled people are people.  I am compelled by moral force to agree with the assertion that they are, in fact, people.  It’s not for me to decide — it’s for me to deal with.  The meaning of ‘personhood’ is imposed on me.  The meaning is forced down my throat, as it were.  We’re all stuck with the definition.

     

    If I had ‘choice’ about who gets to be ‘people’, other people would have choice about whether I get to be ‘people’.  The end result is that we’d all be agents of other people’s designs and, I predict, we’d all have short, miserable lives.

     

    The question "Are the unborn people" is a question whose answer we all have to accept.  What drives me bat-shit is the idea that women have the power to answer that question in their own way.  The answer to the question is beyond the limits of human authority.  It’s like the question "what is one plus one".  The answer is the same for all of us whether we like it or not. 

     

    If somebody disagrees with me about when people start being people, but they at least agree that there can only be one answer to the question, I don’t feel as if I’m being taken down the road to solipsism.  If someone were to say, "We’re not people until we’re born, so women who continue with their pregnancies without being ready to do a good job of mothering that child when s/he’s born are committing a crime against humanity."  I would have far more respect for their point of view than I have for the idea that every woman can make up her own mind.

     

    What I’m saying is that I think the pro-abortion point of view is closer to the truth than the pro-choice point of view (if you’re going to insist that ‘choice’ includes the choice to decide who gets to be a person.)  Let me repeat that for emphasis:

     

    I think the pro-abortion point of view is closer to the truth than the pro-choice point of view.

     

    I have more to say, but I want us to begin by understanding where we each are coming from on that issue. 

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • liberaldem

    I looked up the definition of zygote and the definition says nothing about the zygote as a person. Viewing the zygote as a person seems to me to be a matter of philosophical, personal and/or religious belief.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Paul,

    I do not think we can stop talking "past each other" as you say, because we are in fundamental disagreement, and you are in fundamental disagreement with the majority of the world’s religious traditions, human rights agreements, medical opinion and public health authorities.

     

    Your assertion that a zygote is a person is your assertion.  Period.  No more, no less.  You are free to accept this as the moral guidepost of your life and to act upon it.  I understand it comes out of very conservative Catholic interpretation which itself is fairly recent historically.

     

    However, the following is a claim with which millions of people and the various different professional and religious bodies noted above disagree with you vociferously.

    The trouble is that you take ‘choice’ to a place where you have no right to take choice. You claim that a pregnant woman has the choice to determine whether or not the life inside her is a person or not. That’s not choice, it’s hubris.

     

    We are bound to other "born" people.  The issue and question of "when life begins" and when one person’s life takes precedence over another is not only far from settled, there are many interpretations.  As others here have pointed out, you seek to impose your own sense of moral authority/superiority on others.

     

    This statement alone tells me alot:

    The meaning of ‘personhood’ is imposed on me. The meaning is forced
    down my throat, as it were. We’re all stuck with the definition.

    We are not all stuck with any definition, because no such universal agreement in this definition exists.  It is your faith tradition, your definition and one which you seek to impose on others because of your belief in the moral authority of what you choose to believe.

     

    Clearly you are either disinterested in understanding, reading or accepting that there are diverse faith traditions and diverse moral and ethical positions on this and both medical and public health considerations that outright contradict your sense of certainty.

     

    This is an issue on which there simply is no common ground.  If people are to live in relation to each other in a pluralistic society and world, then they have to accept other people’s religious traditions, moral beliefs and moral decisions.  It appears you can not because you need things to be black and white.  I am sorry.  I do not live and do not want to live in your monochrome world.

    Jodi

  • janine

    Since when is it automatically labelled *pro-abortion* if one believes that personhood starts at birth and that women should not bring pregnancies to term if they are unable to care for them?  There are people that fit that view who still respect the womans choice, respect the pregnant womans differing views on personhood where the pregnant woman answers that question herself with it beginning earlier, and consider themselves pro-choice.

  • paul-bradford

    Julie,

     

    I would very much like it if you would read my latest blog entry to the PLCC website.  It’s called, "Bodily Autonomy and Self Determination"

     

    Meanwhile, the power to decide whether a zygote is a person doesn’t rest in me nor does it rest in you.  A zygote is a person or it’s not, and the truth of a zygote’s personhood may very well be an example of Nature’s Sexism.  Please understand that I don’t say "a zygote is a person" because I want it to be true or because I’ve chosen for it to be true.  I say it because I believe it is true.

     

    Tell me what you think when I say this: "In order for humans to reproduce, a woman has to endure nine months of pain and discomfort followed by many hours of excruciating agony.  She, moreover, risks bodily harm and even death.  It’s also likely that she will suffer a terrible blow to her mental health in the weeks and months following childbirth.  Men, on the other hand, need only participate for a few minutes in sexually gratifying activity.  Women have no power whatsoever to change this state of affairs."

     

    My question to you is: "Are you mad at me for saying this?  Do you believe that if I cared more about women I would say something different, something kinder, something fairer?  Do you think I’m being immoral for stating what I believe to be a simple truth?"

     

    You won’t get an argument out of me when you say that Nature is unfair in the way she divides up the workload with respect to reproduction.  Now, imagine if I said, "Women carry babies half the time and men carry babies the other half."  Would that strike a blow against Nature’s Sexism?  Of course not!

     

    If I had a vote on this issue I would certainly take note of the fact that unborn personhood makes thing very sticky — not only for mothers — but for fathers, and families and the entire society since we all suffer in various ways when there’s an unwanted pregnancy.  If the unborn, instead of being people, were simply bits of unneeded flesh inside a woman’s body we would all be saved a heap of trouble because we could make it very clear to a woman that it would be immoral for her to bring a pregnancy to term unless she were entirely capable of doing a good job of caring for the child she gives birth to.

     

    Have you ever sat down to consider the fact that the great divide in society isn’t between men and women, isn’t between rich and poor, isn’t between black and white?  The great divide in society is between those of us who were raised by parents who were ready, willing and able to take care of children, and those of us who were raised by parents who took on the job without preparation or choice.  If the unborn weren’t people that wouldn’t have to be the case.  If the unborn weren’t people, we could make things much, much better for the born.

     

    Trouble is, Julie, that I don’t get to vote on the issue.  I can’t vote on how we reproduce and I can’t vote on when we become people.

     

    And neither can you. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    I’m not aware of anybody involved in these matters who is *pro-abortion* to the point of insisting that girls and women ought to be persuaded to get abortions even though they don’t want one.  Certainly doctors caring for women who are suffering complications that put them at extreme risk will accept the women’s decisions to continue the pregnancy anyway, and don’t go bolting to court to get injunctions or to try to have the women declared incompetent so that they can force an abortion.  Certainly there are some parents who strongly urge abortions on their daughters, just as there are some who would forbid their daughters from aborting, but that isn’t really the same thing as some sort of cabal of ‘pro-abortion activists’ who are focused on preventing everybody else from having kids.

  • paul-bradford

    Julie,

     

    I don’t let comments from you or from colleen pass without defending myself against the charge that I’m a sexist — but I would be fighting for a lost cause if I tried to defend the Church hierarchy against charges of misogyny and homophobia.  By now the problem is systemic.  Even if we got a super-duper Pope, his hands would be basically tied.  What we need is a miracle.

     

    I’m not a Catholic because I like the way the Church is run.  I’m a Catholic because I believe that we’re commanded to be church and that church-building isn’t so much about organizational reformation as it is about personal reconciliation.  I also believe in the efficacy of the Mass.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • arium

    Paul,

    Just when I thought you were at least starting to comprehend the viewpoints of other commenters on this blog, you drop this bomb:

    There is a huge difference between asserting that a zygote is a person (which is undeniably true) and in enshrining this principle into the penal code.

    I’ll play a word game, changing a few words to demonstrate problems with this statement:

    There is a huge difference between asserting that no god or gods exist (which is undeniably true) and in enshrining this principle into the penal code.

    If I were to make such a statement, I expect many people would take offense, feel that I was being dismissive of their beliefs, find my self-proclaimed magnanimity in not wishing to enforce my beliefs using law to be self-aggrandizing, etc.

    The question "Are the unborn people" is a question whose answer we all have to accept.  What drives me bat-shit is the idea that women have the power to answer that question in their own way.  The answer to the question is beyond the limits of human authority.  It’s like the question "what is one plus one".  The answer is the same for all of us whether we like it or not.

    I recall you having stated recently that you endeavor to avoid bringing religion into these discussions.  In this case I am at a loss as to how a question that is "beyond the limits of human authority" would be answered without invoking a non-human authority.
     
    I acknowledge that in the past we (society) have made deplorable missteps in determining who or what should or should not be counted as persons.  As a secular society, however, we have no practicable alternative to the use of general consensus and constitutional law in making such determinations.
     
    Of course, even if we developed a consensus to grant personhood to z/b/e/fs, this would remain separate from granting a person the legal (or even moral) right to attach/remain attached to another person for the purpose of life support without that person’s expressed consent.

    I think the pro-abortion point of view is closer to the truth than the pro-choice point of view.

    The key to your straw-man characterization of the "pro-abortion point of view" remains removal of the woman’s agency.  The "truth" is, you just don’t trust women, do you?

  • paul-bradford

    You are too steeped in the idea that the proper way for a man to be moral is to exteriorize the costs of doing so by designating women as the morality pinch-hitters.

     

    crowepps,

     

    By now, you should know me too well to toss that sort of slander around.  You know, for example, that all the steps I’ve ever recommended for the protection of the unborn place the burden on the society or on fathers — not on mothers.

     

    If you want to know my "idea of the proper way for a man to be moral" you might start by examining the targets of my charitable giving — Women’s education in the Third World, Women’s health in the Third World, Victims of Domestic Violence and Women’s work co-operatives in the Third World.  You also might take note of the fact that the reason I started a Pro-Life organization is because all the others I’d examined seemed anti-woman to me.

     

    I know the kind of man you’re talking about — but it ain’t me, babe.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    If somebody disagrees with me about when people start being people, but they at least agree that there can only be one answer to the question, I don’t feel as if I’m being taken down the road to solipsism.

    It isn’t solipsism to say that there isn’t “only…one answer to the question”. It’s a recognition of the fact that at the point the blastocyst becomes a blastocyst, a lot of people aren’t willing to agree that is the appropriate description. Your presumption seems to be that “having human DNA” is all that needs to be known to make the decision, that whether or not the zygote is capable of dividing and graduating to blastocyst is irrelevant, that whether the blastocyst is capable of implanting and graduating to embryo is irrelevant, that the very high proportion of conceptus that never make it to the stage of fetus is irrelevent, because everyone should ignore the scientific and physical facts and ASSUME that the fact a zygote is formed means there will be a healthy, live baby in 40 weeks and therefore human inattention or intervention anywhere along the process is the equivalent of killing a person.

     

    Accusing the people who disagree with your definition of egoistic self-absorption fails to recognize that your insistence everyone else has to accept your religiously based personal definition tends to reveal quite a lot of ego in itself.

    What drives me bat-shit is the idea that women have the power to answer that question in their own way. The answer to the question is beyond the limits of human authority.

    A question which is “beyond the limits of human authority” is one which you, as a human don’t have the information or the ability to decode and on which you certainly cannot give an authoritative answer. The reason why women get the power to answer that question in their own way is that THEY are the ones who are actually involved. If they believe personhood happens at 9 weeks or 12 weeks and their actions are based on that belief, your belief is totally irrelevant.

  • julie-watkins

    And your profile states you "joined PLCC" … so I’m wondering where the website for the organization is? I’ll read the blog entry later, but I’m wondering where the official PLCC website is.
  • crowepps

    we could make it very clear to a woman that it would be immoral for her to bring a pregnancy to term unless she were entirely capable of doing a good job of caring for the child she gives birth to.

     

    Why the obsession with making "very clear to women what you personally think is immoral?  Why is it so hard for you to understand that other people are allowed freedom of conscience and it isn’t your business to be judging them as inadequate on the basis of your own beliefs?   Why does it drive you ‘batshit’ that women don’t have to agree with your personal opinions or comply with your beliefs about reproduction?  Why the excessive need for CONTROL, Paul?

  • crowepps

    So the proper way for a man to be moral is to write checks?

    all the steps I’ve ever recommended for the protection of the unborn place the burden on the society or on fathers — not on mothers.

    Except, of course, for your insistence that women should be encouraged to voluntarily take on the burden of obsessively focusing on their reproductive organs and assume they are pre-pregnant just in case there are any zygotes around, even though those zygotes cannot be confirmed to exist, and rearrange their lives and habits to give those zygotes the best possible chance of implanting by following as yet unknown guidelines as outlined by research that hasn’t yet been done.

  • princess-rot

    The question “Are the unborn people” is a question whose answer we all have to accept. What drives me bat-shit is the idea that women have the power to answer that question in their own way. The answer to the question is beyond the limits of human authority.

    Ah. There’s the kernel of hard, sour truth in the middle of your candy. It has always amused me, in a droll sort of way, that for all your talk about how simply being human makes one unique and inviolable, you have absolutely no respect for individuality besides your own, and those whom you claim to speak for. As long as, you know, they can’t speak for themselves.

  • paul-bradford

    If people are to live in relation to each other in a pluralistic society and world, then they have to accept other people’s religious traditions, moral beliefs and moral decisions. It appears you can not because you need things to be black and white. I am sorry. I do not live and do not want to live in your monochrome world.

     

    Jodi,

     

    I appreciate the effort you took in responding to my post.  I wonder if it would be all right if — at least for a while — we overlooked the question of whether zygotes are persons and whether the unborn have rights and concentrated, instead, on the question of whether or not you want to live in "my monochrome world".

     

    I’m thinking you do.

     

    I’ll bet the house that it’s very important to you to be treated as a person instead of a thing, or a possession.  I’m betting that your insistence on being treated as a person is non-negotiable.  If some religious cult came along to assert that women don’t have souls, or that they must have strong male masters to keep them compliant, I’m guessing that you’re not going to be too "pluralistic" about accepting their "religious traditions".

     

    Ponder, for a moment, the principle of female equality.  Billions of people, for thousands of years have been taught, and have taught others, that women are inferior to men.  It was part of their religion, it was part of their legal code, it was part of their culture.  Every now and then somebody — almost always a woman — suggested that women were equal to men but these somebodies were always in "fundamental disagreement with the majority of the world’s religious traditions".

     

    At first these people were a teeny tiny minority.  Their assertion of female equality was "their assertion.  Period.  No more, no less".  Do you think?  I sure don’t!  I think the teeny tiny minority was right and everyone else was wrong.  I’m not talking "free to accept this principle and act upon it", I’m talking R-I-G-H-T and worthy to keep asserting the principle even when "millions of people and various different professional and religious bodies disagree with them vociferously."

     

    What was it with these people???   Obviously, they were "seeking to impose their own sense of moral authority/superiority on others".  And they struggled, and they suffered and they’re beginning to win in certain places around the world and in the long run the principle of female equality is going to be accepted everywhere.  It’s going to be imposed on everyone.  Forced down their throat, so to speak.  Everyone will have to accept that principle.

     

    You know, and I know, that my Church is nearly crippled by a priest shortage and even though we have scores of thousands of religious women who could alleviate that shortage we’re married to the idea of female inferiority.  The idea is killing us, but we’re unwilling to let it go.

     

    As you probably also know, I’m not the only person within the Church who longs for female ordination.  But I have the feeling that those of us on the inside need help from the outside.  The people who believe in the principle of female equality can’t be as mamby-pamby as they’ve been and willingly accept the idea of pluralism.  It’s not enough to say, "Well, I personally believe that women are equal to men but if some organization that I’m not a part of wants to operate on the idea that men are superior to women that’s certainly their right."   That’s not their right!  They’re wrong.  It’s black and white!

     

    My Church needs to be shamed into ordaining women.  It will be shamed when people stop falling for the idea of pluralism.  Then people will address the Church with the message, "You can’t keep making women inferior because it’s flat out wrong."  Justice isn’t pluralistic it’s — as you say — monochrome. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    The question "Are the unborn people" is a question whose answer we all
    have to accept. What drives me bat-shit is the idea that women have the
    power to answer that question in their own way.

     

    Yeah…here’s a thought: men have always appointed themselves the arbiters of life and death, and I do not see this appropriation of authority ending anytime soon. It is not surprising that people are squicked out over the idea that women are exercising similar power…t’ain’t their place.

  • paul-bradford

    Except, of course, for your insistence that women should be encouraged to voluntarily take on the burden of obsessively focusing on their reproductive organs and assume they are pre-pregnant just in case there are any zygotes around, even though those zygotes cannot be confirmed to exist, and rearrange their lives and habits to give those zygotes the best possible chance of implanting by following as yet unknown guidelines as outlined by research that hasn’t yet been done.

     

    crowepps,

     

    How does this happen?  I told ahunt that the blastocyst mortality rate could be lowered with research, with education and with effort.  She was the one who suggested "that women should be encouraged to voluntarily take on the burden of obsessively focusing on their reproductive organs and assume they are pre-pregnant just in case there are any zygotes around" 

     

    I was the one who said that those methods represented hysterical hyper-vigilance and would not be necessary.  I kept arguing that we could increase blastocyst survival without putting unreasonable burdens on women.  She kept ignoring my argument and insisted on painting a picture of a world where women were perpetually in chains.

     

    Now you’re blaming me for her paranoid fantasies. 

     

    I continue to believe that we can improve survival rates for the unborn at every stage of development without making life unlivable for women.  I’m not sure now what we’ll come up with, but I’m brimming with hope that we could find solutions if we looked for them. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    Excuse me, Paul…but you have left an easily followed trail. YOU were the one insisting that women should voluntarily conduct their lives as if they were perpetually pregnant…because, as you yourself finally acknowledged…conception can and does happen at anytime in the "cycle."

     

    And how is carrying your bizarre obsession with zygote welfare through to the entirely rational conclusions… paranoia?

     

     

  • paul-bradford

    There are people that fit that view who still respect the womans choice, respect the pregnant womans differing views on personhood where the pregnant woman answers that question herself with it beginning earlier, and consider themselves pro-choice.

     

    Janine,

     

    I don’t know if you’re someone who "believes that personhood starts at birth and that women should not bring pregnancies to term if they are unable to care for them".  I sure hope so, because I’d like to know how you can hold those views and be tolerant of a woman’s choice while you consider the fact that unintended pregnancies are the cause of hundreds of thousands of children being born into disadvantaged situations every year.

     

    Wouldn’t you at least want to promote an educational campaign to wise women up to the fact that some choices are better than others?  You certainly realize, I hope, that a child born into poverty isn’t simply a headache for the mother — s/he’s a headache for all of us. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    I consider it very gratifying that so many thoughtful and earnest people are willing to converse with me about these important topics.  At this point, though, there are more posts that I want to respond to than there is time to come up with a response.

     

    Please don’t think I’m deliberately ignoring anyone. 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • colleen

    By now, you should know me too well to toss that sort of slander around.

    I think it’s because we know you so well that that seems accurate and honest.

    You know, for example, that all the steps I’ve ever recommended for the protection of the unborn place the burden on the society or on fathers — not on mothers

    Here is what you say:

    I’m opposed to abortion in cases of rape; I’m opposed to abortion in cases of incest; I’m opposed to abortion in cases of fetal abnormality; I’m opposed to abortion when the mother is seriously disabled; I’m opposed to abortion when the mother already has more children than she can handle; I’m opposed to abortion in cases of extreme poverty; I’m opposed to abortion in regions where there is overpopulation; I’m opposed to abortion when the father is abusive.

    Now tell us again where you place the brunt of the burden.

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • janine

    Personally, not necessarily.  But not sure why its even relevant given that many believe in the womans bodily autonomy and would never want to coerce her into an abortion (or sterilization) regardless of where they draw the line in their own beliefs on personhood or what they believe she *should* do.  There is room to respect others deeply held beliefs.  I would not coerce a woman (or man) to be sterlized given the same arguments about unwanted children.  Same with contraception – we don’t need to elevate the unconceived to some sort of
    people status in order for women to have the right to not be sterlized or not be forced to use contraception.  Evidence based sex education is not only fine in my book – it should be more prevalent and I’m opposed to abstinence only education. 

  • colleen

    I kept arguing that we could increase blastocyst survival without putting unreasonable burdens on women.

    But then you’ve also argued that women who go to a hospital after they’re raped should not be allowed mifepristone. (as just one example) and never answered the obvious argument that ‘pro-life’ people (including yourself) do and say things constantly that seem unreasonable to someone who does not share your belief systems. Indeed I’ve had one of your ilk tell me that “manslaughter charges should be on the table” when a pregnant woman ’causes’ her miscarriage through strenuous exercise or too many saunas. The fact that you might not endorse such an idea does not mean that such an idea isn’t an obvious extension of your beliefs or that you wouldn’t celebrate if it became legally possible to “increase blastocyst survival” by severely limiting the roles and activities of all fertile women. Indeed I would bet good money that you would be as smug and obnoxious about such a precedent as you were about the Stupak amendment.

    Now you’re blaming me for her paranoid fantasies.

    I think you have failed to realise that you lost that argument with AHunt several times. You’re wrong, she made excellents points which you (characteristically) mock and denigrate. deal with it.

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    I continue to believe that we can improve survival rates for the unborn at every stage of development without making life unlivable for women. I’m not sure now what we’ll come up with, but I’m brimming with hope that we could find solutions if we looked for them.

    If I understand this statement correctly, what you’re saying is that society should emotionally commit to the idea that it is the moral responsibility of women to improve zygote survival rates. Is that right?

     

    So, to explicate, you have no idea what the solution is, you have no idea what research needs to be done, you have no idea what would be involved in implementing the results of the research, you have no idea how that implementation would impact women’s lives, you have no idea what the long-term effects would be to women’s life stories or in possibly increasing the number of deformed, genetically damaged, functionally impaired or cognitively handicapped infants who would need support from society, but, by golly, you’re brimming with hope that this would all be a great idea!

     

    So any girl or woman who reads your screeds about the sancity of zygotes and is convinced that you are correct is supposed to feel really, really guilty every time she has a period, because someday, somehow, at the end of the Yellow Brick Road in the Emerald City, the Wizard is going to make it possible for every single zygote to result in a healthy, live infant! Of course, this isn’t actually true NOW, and you certainly can’t forcast when it will happen,m but you believe it WILL be true, and so that means you have the right to mandate that girls and women consider themselves ‘mothers’ as soon as they have sex.

     

    The progression from “I really sincerely believe” through “in the future I hope” and “wouldn’t it be wonderful if” ending at “and therefore women should think/act as I want them to” is just getting way, WAY too Heaven’s Gate for me. I suppose there is a one in a quintrillion chance that you could be right, Paul, but once you’ve got all those women brainwashed emotionally and committed to ‘if any zygotes have been formed they are way more important than I can ever be’, what if the spaceship never comes to pick them up?

  • janine

    If the unborn, instead of being people, were simply bits of unneeded flesh inside a woman’s body we would all be saved a heap of trouble because we could make it very clear to a woman that it would be immoral for her to bring a pregnancy to term unless she were entirely capable of doing a good job of caring for the child she gives birth to.

    If I found I had a potentially terminal illness, say a tumor, yet had small children and my decision to not accept medical treatment and die would leave them destitute…you may think I’m an asshole by not accepting the treatment that would enable me to continue to live and provide for them but its my right to refuse medical treatment and you have no business in the decision. I can leave the tumor to grow in my body and don’t have to justify the continued presence of the tumor growing in my body by elevating it to a person.  Yet that decision (also regarding my bodily autonomy) would also been one where I was incapable of doing a good job of caring for my children.  Responded regarding the same on contraception/sterlization in my other comment.

  • janine

    "Personally, not necessarily.  But not sure why its even relevant given that…" is in reply to your first paragraph. "Evidence based…" for the second. 

  • gordon

    "As an example, according to accepted international medical terminology, no pregnancy exists until a fertilized ovum successfully implants in the woman. You argue strenuously here that every fertilized egg is a person with equal rights.  That terminology and definition is not only inaccurate medically and scientifically, but reflects an ideology that would rob women of virtually all choices in childbearing incompatible with an active sex life. "

     

    A few weeks ago, someone who identifies himself as Catholicman responded to my challenge that no medical textbooks stated as a biolocigal fact that life begins at conception by providing some referrences.  I started looking them up, but stopped after the first two because they said nothing of the kind.  In fact, his second citation, Human Embryology and Teratology, said the exact opposite, ably articulating my own long-held view:  ‘It needs to be emphasized that life is continuous, as is also human life, so the question "When does (human) life begin?" is meaningless in terms of ontogeny.’

     

    Are you there, Catholicman?  I would like to have a few words with you.

  • elisa

    Dawkins’ "Greatest Show on Earth" is an incredible book!  Just finished it myself … and it has SO many implications for this discussion.  For example, DNA persists and doesn’t "care" about alive or dead any more than a cookbook does. 

     

    I found it to be a profoundly hopeful and optimistic take on the grand sweep of life …there is certainly plenty of room for each of us to make our own moral, religious, and philisophical choices.  

  • crowepps

    Our view: Flawed initiative

    Obvious legal problems should sink ‘personhood’ proposal

    Published: December 3rd, 2009 12:21 AM

     

    Should a single-celled embryo or a fetus incapable of life outside the womb have the legal rights of a "person" in Alaska? The answer will be yes if a proposed ballot initiative survives legal challenge, gains sufficient signatures and is approved by a majority of Alaska voters.

     

    Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Passing the so-called "personhood" initiative would essentially assert state control over the bodies of pregnant women.

     

    Consider just a few of the bizarre questions that could arise if such an initiative were to pass. Would a rapist have the legal right to hire a lawyer to represent the embryo inside his victim, to ensure that the child is born? What potential lawsuit awaits the woman who smokes a cigarette or drinks alcohol during her pregnancy? Would the federal census count a woman pregnant with twins as three people? Would fertility clinics that store embryos for implantation be subject to regulation as orphanages?

     

    So what would justify the creation of such a legal quagmire?

     

    The initiative sponsor, Christopher Kurka, freely admits that "personhood" is an effort to stop legal abortion. His is a futile quest because abortion, with some limitations, is a constitutional right in the United States, and a state-level voter initiative can’t override the U.S. Constitution.

     

    For that reason alone, Alaska courts would be justified in stopping the initiative. This legal problem was so obvious, even the staunchly anti-abortion Parnell administration couldn’t overlook it. Attorney General Dan Sullivan suggested, and Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell agreed, to try to rescue the initiative by including language saying it wouldn’t affect state law on abortion, even though that’s why it exists.

     

    When a proposed initiative has to say upfront that it can’t accomplish what it’s intended to accomplish, and carries the prospect of personally invasive, unintended consequences for Alaska women, it doesn’t belong on any ballot.

     

    BOTTOM LINE: Whether life begins at conception is a question for individual conscience, not for the ballot box.

     

    http://www.adn.com/opinion/view/story/1038467.html