Let’s Read 101 Reasons Not To Have An Abortion


The ongoing struggle for the anti-choice movement is
covering up the vicious misogyny that compels the belief that women who
have sex should be punished with mandatory childbirth. In the past, most of the
focus was on trying to argue for fetal personhood to distract from this ugly
misogyny, but I suppose it became clear that erasing women from the equation
altogether doesn’t do much to convince people you don’t hate women. So now the
anti-choice focus is on arguing that they’re not misogynist, they just simply
believe women are too stupid to make their own decisions and have to be forced
away from abortion for their own good. Again, feminists tend to balk at the
idea that "women are fundamentally stupid" isn’t a misogynist argument, but I
can see that anti-choicers might feel it’s downright compassionate compared to
the "stupid sluts should have kept their legs shut" argument of old.

Unfortunately for anti-choicers, the "punish the sluts"
message may lose points for meanness, but it really gains points for being
straightforward and easy to understand. Feigning compassion for pregnant women
has introduced levels of complexity that render anti-choice arguments
increasingly incoherent. For instance, a feminist buddy emailed me a link to 101 Reasons Not To Have An Abortion, a
faux "concerned" guide full of the usual lies about abortion, assumptions that
women who have abortions are a separate category from mothers (most women who have
abortions are already mothers)
, and maudlin rhetoric implying that all
women want exactly the same thing and anyone who says otherwise is in denial. But
what really jumped out at me about this pamphlet was that it was incoherent. I
could barely read it, because the author Serena Gaefke gets so bent into a
pretzel trying to make arguments against women’s hopes, dreams, and futures
so she can sound pro-woman.

So, as a public service to anti-choicers, I thought I’d
model a clear-cut argument stating in my terms the real reasons you don’t want women
to have abortions. Sure, these arguments might sound meaner than the
nonsensical ranting you’ve gotten into feigning concern for women, but they
have the advantage of clarity. And in the world of politics, clarity matters
more than anything.

*************

Reasons Not To Have
An Abortion When You Have An Unwanted Pregnancy

Education is wasted
on women.
Hey, teenage girls with unintended pregnancies! I know you’re
thinking, "Gosh, I really don’t think I can go to college with a baby in tow
and very little help. It’s just too much." And you’re right; you can’t. But so
what? What are they going to teach you in college that you need to know? Getting
that education makes you start entertaining ideas like joining professions and
making your own money, instead of getting married and becoming dependent on a
man. Blegh, who wants to study anyway? It’s hard.

Unintended motherhood
isn’t a lot of fun.
You heard it from Bristol Palin — having a baby when
you’re not ready means watching your friends gallivant around, coming and going
and dating who they please, while you’re stuck at home changing diapers. Good! You
had it coming for thinking you could just have sex because you wanted to. Hope
you learned your lesson. And look on the bright side — having a baby around
means that you won’t be having nearly as much of that freedom and fun that
women weren’t meant to have anyway.

Hey, maybe he’ll
marry you.
Sure, you had all these fantasies about having a baby with a man
when both of you decided that you were sure of the time and sure of each other.
But that’s that desire for self-care and control that’s so unseemly in women. Having
your spouse determined for you by the accidental slip of a condom is a useful
reminder that your life doesn’t belong to you, and your job is to passively
accept the fate that’s handed to you.

And maybe he won’t.
Whoops! Too bad for you. But take heart in this — conservatives are working
round the clock to make sure that you don’t have much financial support outside
of that you can get through marriage. And that means that you’ll probably be in
a situation where you’ll have to take anyone who’ll have you, because you’ll be
desperate. That sounds unfair and cruel, but think of it from a man’s
perspective. Who wants to have to be a good man when artificially lowering
women’s standards works so much better?

Pain is what you
deserve.
Whether it’s the grief of giving a child up, the suffering of
marrying someone you didn’t really want, or even just they physical pain of
giving birth against your will, you have to ask yourself: Do you really think
you deserve better? You did, after all, have sex. Be grateful that unwanted
childbirth is all you’re getting, since stoning fornicators is the sort of
thing they did in less civilized eras.

No one cares what you
think.
You’re a woman, which means that you have a uterus, which means that
you need to stop thinking and start procreating. A woman not having a baby is
like the refrigerator spitting out the gallon of milk you just put in it. It’s
job is to chill milk! And your job is to gestate. You can no more turn than
down than a refrigerator can reject a gallon of milk.

***********

Of course, I have to point out at this point that
Gaefke’s rather incoherent pamphlet actually makes this last point, but in
obtuse, hard-to-understand language. She writes, " If
abortion is wrong… Then it’s the destruction of the family, the little child
and ultimately, women." Which is her attempt to say nicely that a woman not
having a baby is like a car that won’t drive, or a refrigerator that thinks it
gets to pick what food to contain. Except that she, in her attempts to make a
fundamentally misogynist idea sound better, ends up sounding dippy and
incoherent.

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Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • 10wonders

    These thoughts are ignorant. Of course we are responsible for what we do but demeaning women just because they got pregnant what the hell is that? Women are like refrigerators? this is all just ignorant

    • marielle

      Thank you for the Excellent article Amanda. I’m really dumbfounded by the fact that some ppl did not take the time to read it through properly, and then decided to post some of the stupidest comments I have ever seen!

       

  • progo35

    Hey, teenage girls with unintended pregnancies! I know you’re thinking, “Gosh, I really don’t think I can go to college with a baby in tow and very little help. It’s just too much.” And you’re right; you can’t. But so what?

    This is crap. Many pregnant women go to college. Moreover, Feminists for Life, for instance, specifically works to ensure that students do not have to choose between going to/finishing college and having a baby. What have you done to contribute to that cause, Amanda?

    Whether it’s the grief of giving a child up, the suffering of marrying someone you didn’t really want, or even just they physical pain of giving birth against your will, you have to ask yourself: Do you really think you deserve better? You did, after all, have sex. Be grateful that unwanted childbirth is all you’re getting, since stoning fornicators is the sort of thing they did in less civilized eras.

    Ah, I see, so abortion is the only way for teenage girls to avoid heartache. Keeping the baby and raising it or adopting it out aren’t feasible options…abortion is the way to go, baby! Once again, abortion is exalted as the ultimate cure all through the sage writings of AM.

  • amanda-marcotte

    But far many more avoid giving birth because going to college while having a baby is just too hard.  Expecting—nay, demanding—that all women do this is disingenuous.  You know and I know that very few can pull it off. 

     

    I would argue that’s the point.

     

    In fact, I know it.  The era before Roe?  Single mothers who wanted to go to college were often kicked out and their scholarships revoked.  That anti-choicers now pretend to support single mothers in college is a temporary pose they’re adopting as an argument against abortion.  But should they win, and get abortion banned and contraception severely restricted, let’s not pretend "morality clauses" to punish known fornicators aren’t quickly following.

  • amanda-marcotte

    I can’t tell an individual teenage girl what’s best.  I’ll cheerfully and happily admit that there are different strokes for different folks.  Some teenage girls do a great job being moms and that was the best choice for them!  That’s exceedingly rare, but it’s true.

     

    Unfortunately, you aren’t so generous, but in fact argue that one choice—motherhood 9 months after one’s sexual debut—is the only choice for everyone, full stop.

     

    I do find it funny that you admit that passivity and dehumanization are goals of the forced birth brigade, though.  

     

    I realize that satire is a difficult thing to understand, but let’s be clear: The reasons I’m offering are satirical.  I don’t think this.  I’m explaining the anti-choice reasoning in clear, concise language, becaues the disingenuous "concern" for women is very unbecoming for you all.  You can’t speak clearly and concisely when expressing "concern", because it’s unnatural for you and you don’t really believe it, and it you get all bent into logic pretzels.  Being straightforward in your misogyny, as I’ve modeled here, has the advantage of clarity.

  • leahbee

    Love it.

  • authoricrhetoric

    I can’t tell if this blog is sarcastic or not. I merely skimmed through it because I’m doing research. But if this isn’t in fact sarcastic…then from what I’ve read all you do is contradict what women have built for in society. “Stop thinking and procreate”? Are you kidding? You’re a women yourself aren’t you? This makes me sick. Way to go Susie Homemaker.

  • jgbeam

    Abortion ends a young, not yet born, life. No other reason is needed.

    Jim Grant, Pro-lifer

    • rebellious-grrl

      Your oversimplified answer does not suffice. You should read the article again.

    • amyc

      You’re a man. You will never ever have to make this decision. Even if you had gotten a girl pregnant in the past, and she decided to have an abortion, it would still have nothing to do with you. You will never have to make this kind of decision, so you have no right to comment on how a woman takes care of her own body and everything inside of it. I don’t go and comment on viagra websites, so don’t come on here acting like you know something.

  • liberaldem

    that’s your opinion.
    What alternatives do you offer to abortion?

  • littleblue

    What you wrote: “Whether it’s the grief of giving a child up, the suffering of marrying someone you didn’t really want, or even just they physical pain of giving birth against your will, you have to ask yourself: Do you really think you deserve better? You did, after all, have sex.”… has to be the most offensive thing you’ve written yet.

  • crowepps

    I can’t tell if this blog is sarcastic or not. I merely skimmed through it

    If you had the time to register and post a snarky comment, you had the time to REread the blog to decide whether it was satire — although it’s helpful to start your post with an admission that you’re commenting on something you’ve ‘merely skimmed’ – it helps people understand why the following comment is silly.

  • crowepps

    That statement is in the original satire — blockquote failed

  • colleen

    a

  • littleblue

    Apologies then to Progo.  My "page down" function must’ve missed that portion of the original article.

  • crowepps

    It is very difficult to read posts containing quotes when those quotes are not set off by blockquote or by quotation marks or even by extra spaces.  For those who are struggling when the comment box does not provide all the nifty shortcut buttons at the top, here is a link to HTML tags which can make the comments more readable:

    http://www.w3schools.com/tags/default.asp

  • jgbeam

    Birth.

     

    Jim Grant, Pro-lifer

    • princess-rot

      Simple wishful thinking should have gone the moment you stopped believing in Santa.

    • rebellious-grrl

      Again…Your oversimplified answer does not suffice. You should read the article again.

  • harry834

    of what you are reading. Some sentences may be quotes, or satires. Read each thing carefully.

  • crowepps

    Your simple answer doesn’t take into account complications of reproduction, complications of pregnancy or make any provision to save the lives or health of women negatively impacted.

     

    "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H.L. Mencken

     

  • ahunt

    Let us not forget real life issues like employment, education, familial relationships, insurance, personal goals, and the biggie…NOT NOW.

  • ahunt

    Well jeez, Jim…who knew it was that easy? Why didn’t we all think of that?

     

    Editing…dagnabit crowepps…you ever get tired of your swift right punch? 

  • crowepps

    A facile comment can be answered by reflex –

  • ahunt

    Yah…I got that knee jerk thing goin’ on too.

     

    And seriously annoyed that anyone thinks pregnancy is " facile."

     

     

  • prochoicegoth

    And if the woman finds out she has agressive cancer or an ectopic pregnancy or if she finds out her fetus is fatally ill? Is birth an alternative for them? 


    It’s pro-choice or
    NO choice.

  • colleen

    OTOH quotes are generally expressed with quotation marks and/or blockquotes.  Perhaps writers should write each thing carefully or, at the very least, learn to use the preview and edit function.

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    I agree that when a post is difficult to read, it tends to distract the reader from any interesting ideas that might be contained in it.

     

    There are posters here, though, who aren’t computer savvy, so perhaps we just need to struggle a little more to see if there is something to which we may want to respond.

     

    My personal observation has been that formatting errors, inarticulate wordiness and misspellings tend to indicate a post that doesn’t have much value after I’ve decoded it, but I continue to make the effort because sometimes the point behind the post is well worthwhile.  We were all newbies on here once – we should pass forward the tolerance and patience with which we were (hopefully) welcomed.

  • progo35

    Hey, it happens, little blue, and thanks, crowepps for pointing out that those were NOT my words. I do find it interesting that while AM must have clearly recognized HER OWN WORDS in the quote, she choose to deliberately spread the falsehood that I believed in "passivity and dehumanization." Not very honest at all. 

    As for those who feel that block quote is super important, let me say that I am one of those very stupid honors degree holding people that don’t know how to use that feature, and I honestly have better things to do. 

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    • princess-rot

      For those with, ahem… better things to do, there is a little add-on for firefox and safari called BBcode, which provides all types of message board code tags in a handy right-click menu, and it’ll put them in for you without needing rich text.

  • progo35

    Jim, that really isn’t very compelling. If you want to help women avoid abortion, than you ought to be able to have some better ideas of how to help them do that. How would you like it if you were pregnant and you said, "What can I do besides an abortion," and the person you were speaking to said, "Birth"? 

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • damer

    Ms.Serena Gaefke should get out of her Sunday best and into the real world. What if a woman or girl just doesn’t WANT to go through a pregnancy even if there is the option of “giving up the baby?”

    Has Ms. Gaefke never heard of teenage mothers who are crack addicted and not mentally equipped to be parents? Most of these girls are not even mentally equipped to go through with a pregnancy, let alone make a choice! Has she ever heard about abused and neglected children who were never wanted in the 1st place?

    Get real Serena Gaefke!

  • any

    Most of this sounds like a reason for not having sex,or making the choice to seriously use birth control. Tagging some of these reasons under aboration seem unrealistic to me.

    Education is your goal then a person must work to keep focus. Career is your goal then work to keep your focus. We all have feelings and the reality is we all make mistakes. I can not say this enough. Abortion is not birth control. There are moments when birth control does fail. There are medical complications that can demand a hard choice. Doctors have a right to give medical recommendations to thier patients and patients have a right to choose the medical care they desire even if they are a woman.

    Hugs to you.

    • katwa

       I can not say this enough. Abortion is not birth control. 

       

      Huh? Yes it is. It’s preventing a birth…. Not sure what you are trying to say here.

  • marysia

    I will read this “101 Reasons” thing myself and form my own assessment. Even if turns out to be as bad as you say, Amanda, I cannot simply accept your revelations about it through satire as gospel truth.

    Because you are, once again, expressing such certainty about what other people’s motives and intentions are.

    Simply because they disagree with you on this very complex matter of abortion that compassionate, thoughtful people can and do differ over.

    You just *know* that this author must, by definition, prima facie, be all about virulent misogyny, however paraded out in pseudofeminist rhetoric….The same way that some antiabortionists just *know* so certainly the falsehood that prochoicers are all about hating on kids, destroying the family and America, etc.

    Now, I don’t know anything–yet– about the person who wrote this “101 Reasons” guide. She might turn out to be a misogynist. Or she might not.

    I have encountered enough people who support and work for women’s rights–even in ways you could acknowledge–and who (!) identify as prolife–that I will give her a fair hearing.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • julie-watkins

    For people who think things happen for a reason being born female or poor instead of male or rich is a pretty large sign of what Nature (or God) wants for that woman and it’s understandable why people who think every pregnancy has a purpose might have expectations of how pregnant women should act. That doesn’t (in my opinion) make those expectations less sexist and classist. For people who are helping women in a way they want to be helped, that’s good support. If they try to coerce or legally force pregnant women to continue pregnancies then I consider those people motivated by misogyny — possibly unconcious. I disagree with such people, but I understand how they could sincerely hold opinions that might be sexist.

    I looked at the table of contents of that book …

    Reason 57: Why should God bless America when we kill His children?; #66: Every child deserves life; #67 You might be aborting a genius; #81: Abortion after rape is a double tragedy; #95 What if the timing is right but you just don’t know it.

    – this sure looks like trying to coerce gender roles. I didn’t see a chapter about "Get a second opinion", so the book seems to not acknowledge the validity of medical reasons for abortion — which (to me) is another red flag of misogyny.

  • sexstudent

    Oh my god! I downloaded and read the original "101 reasons not to have an abortion" and it was some of the most disturbing crap i have EVER read. I applaud you for writing this article which distills her junk into readable words. Your satire article is humorous and an excellent rebuttal to the ridiculous e-book written by Serena Gaefke.

    "In America, each person is entitled to their own opinion, but each person is NOT entitled to their own facts" Marty Klein

     

  • marysia

    Julie, I have encountered prochoicers who voice things I would identify as racist, sexist, and classist, and prolifers who do not. As well as prochoicers who don’t, and prolifers who do.

    All of us live inside systemic prejudicial systems, and it affects us all in different ways.

    From what I have heard so far, this “101 Reasons” book sounds–on the face of it– prejudicial.

    But that doesn’t explain *every* prolifer. Certainly not the ones I know who believe that both unborn and already born lives are all valuable and worthy of life, and who behave accordingly.

    There are reasons other than “God made all women to have as many kids as possible, whether they want to or not”!


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • crowepps

    Of course all ProLifers aren’t the same, just as not all ProChoicers are the same and not all women are the same and not all pregnancies are the same and not all zygotes are the same.

     

    Having stated that, however, there are some ProLifers who are virulently misogynistic and their propaganda reinforces the tendency already present in our culture to treat women as second class ’other’ and they should be called on that when their propaganda reveals it.  In addition, there are some ProLifers who are virulently anti-sex and sexist (deploring birth control and placing all the responsibility for sex on women as insufficiently vigilant gatekeepers) who insist that outdated gender roles should be resurrected and enforced and they too should be called on that when their propaganda reveals it.

     

    If we could avoid the bidextrous human tendency to assume that there always ‘two sides to the issue’ but never more than two, perhaps we could get somewhere living with the compromise which we reached in the past through Roe but which has been steadily eroding even though most Americans found it satisfactory and continue to find it satisfactory.

     

    Certainly there isn’t going to be anything constructive towards that end coming from those in the extremist fringe on either end who insist there should never be an abortion no matter what the circumstances or there should never be a restriction on abortion no matter what the circumstances.

  • julie-watkins
    If you believe
    both unborn and already born lives are all valuable and worthy of life,
    and tell a woman who doesn’t act the way you think she should that she made the wrong choice, I think that puts you on shakey ground. What are the others reasons that you consider not to be sexist or classist? Are you active in trying to have legislation passed?
  • marysia

    julie, my focus is on making abortion unnecessary, which at this time, when women are still so throughly disempowered in preventing unintended pregnancies, and getting through and beyond them with their children still living, seems the best way to affirm both women’s and unborn children’s lives.

    believing as i do (for secular/interfaith reasons, by the way), that both unborn and already-born are valuable, the task at hand is the utter responsibility of expanding and creating nonabortion reproductive choices.

    and this means addressing and relieving multiple, interrelated forms of systemic inequality that drive high abortion rates: sexism, classism, racism, ablism, LGBT phobia…

    if a woman is in a situation where her only or least crappy-seeming “choice” is to take the life of her unborn child–it’s highly likely that she and her child have been affected and backed against the wall by one or more of the above things.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • rebellious-grrl

    Amanda – Thanks for another outstanding article! I love your podcast too! I just opened an account on RHReality Check so I could weigh in on the discussions. Especially after reading the comments on this story, and especially the comments by Jim Grant. I find his comments and oversimplification disturbing. When he commented on “What alternatives do you offer to abortion?” and he said “Birth.” Are you kidding me? I can only hope that in his next life he comes back as a woman who has to deal with these issues for real and see how his “oversimplified” reactions and ideas suit him then.

  • catseye71352

    Forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is a _9-month RAPE!_ How is that NOT violence?

    Catseye  ( (|) )

  • progo35

    Catseye-maybe you didn’t READ what Marysia wrote. She wrote that she supported helping women make non abortion choices and empowering them to do so. She did not say anything about forcing a rape victim to carry a child for nine months.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • ks

    my focus is on making abortion unnecessary

     

    This cannot be done.  There will always be some women who, no matter their circumstances, will refuse to carry a pregnancy to term.  And since it is her body and her uterus, it is absolutely her right to make that decision.

     

    Take me, for instance.  I have two wanted, planned children, but now I’m done.  I absolutely will not have another child and I will not remain pregnant should my birth control fail, because I won’t put myself, my husband, or my already born and much loved children through the pain of adoption and I won’t subject a born child to the pain of being unwanted. 

     

    So unless someone comes up with 100% reversible and 100% effective, non invasive birth control (because abstinence is also not going to fly with most adults) with no/very few adverse side effects, there will always be at least some unwanted pregnancies and abortion will always be necessary to some women.

  • harry834

    we all have to consider the reality of what ks is saying. That unwanted pregnancies can be reduced, but never eliminated. And for those women who have apregnancy they don’t want, some sizeable number of them (we can argue about the number forever) will want to end those pregnancies. Of these women, how many will change their minds through persuasion? At some point, we have to use coersion – laws, spousal permission requirements, mandatory waiting periods…

    If you disagree, then how else do you stop a woman who wants an abortion and will not be persuaded? These women are not a hypothetical. They are real. They are commenting in this comment thread. KS is one of them.

    While Marysia may not want to try the coersion I speak of, others already do. Isn’t it time we accepted that abortion rates can only be reduced, not eliminated?

     

  • prochoicegoth

    if a woman is in a situation where her only or least crappy-seeming “choice” is to take the life of her unborn child–it’s highly likely that she and her child have been affected and backed against the wall by one or more of the above things.

    Pardon my french, but I call bullshit on this. Of all the women I know who abort, NONE of them were coerced into it. ALL of them KNEW it was the best choice for their situation. In fact, if not for her abortion, one of my friend would not be married to her wonderful husband and her beautiful one year old son would not exist. Everything happens for a reason, including abortions.

    Now I’m not saying that your scenario never happens, but to try to pass it off as the main reason why women abort is silly, unless I misinterpreted your post.


    It’s pro-choice or
    NO choice.

  • marysia

    i respectfully submit that we have never really tried on this planet, let alone on any wide enough scale, to systematically and thoroughly reduce the number of abortions through the provision of nonabortion options.

    it is paralyzing to any such effort to say “well, it can’t be done, this practice will always be necessary to some degree.” what if we assumed it *could* be done? and took it from there?

    of course no effort to abolish any practice is ever going to be 100% effective. but that’s not a reason to try to get the numbers down as small as they will go.

    although this has been a small minority of women i have tried my best to assist, i am well aware of women who will have abortions no matter how much i personally offer help finding and creating other alternatives.

    there is only so much i as one individual can do, in the current state of things. especially when there is not an allout effort to create more foolproof female controlled contraceptives, when there is a lack of safe places for women and girls to live and thrive, when there is no paid parental leave and universal health care, when there is rampant male irresponsiblity and violence, etc, etc, etc…..

    there is a collective responsiblity to change the social contexts in which abortions happen, so that continued survival and wellbeing of the unborn child and of the woman do not come to such odds. i try to change things at this collective level to, and as i do this i have the faces and voices of many women before me.

    i do suspect that as women are treated more as fully human, it will become more possible for more women to look upon their unborn children as fully human.

    as for coercion and abortion–well, in the US as well as globally, one in three women have experienced gender-based violence. this surely affects the outcomes of pregnancies, as i have learned from so many women’s stories.

    there is a growing recognition that contraceptive sabotage and battery during pregnancy, for example, are implicated in many more abortions than was previously thought.

    a right to abortion has long been held up as an essential freedom. but the conditions in which so many women have abortions are conditions of *lacking* freedom. i think we all tend to do our best when graplling with the constraints we have–but often the best we feel we can do in the situations we have, that still has serious costs to ourselves and others.

    i am not saying this as a matter of ideology, but from long listening to/trying to help with women’s stories of pregnancy. sometimes the constraints and coercion in their situations have been right on the surface, but just go a little below the surface with many others, and there the constraints are.

    this lack of freedom can be a very painful thing to face and grapple with. i think i can understand why prochoicers would rather see women on the whole as having abortions out of freedom. on the other hand…

    as for everything having a reason, including abortions, i do think human beings are enormously resilient and can create meaning and renewal out of practically anything.

    that is different from there being a reason for something. an analogy: i personally have created meaning and renewal out of being a victim of violence. but that doesn’t mean the violence happened for a reason–better that it didn’t happen to begin with, that i had lived in a culture which valued and affirmed me so much, such violence was unthinkable.

    abortion happens through human agency, both at the individual and societal levels, and thus, i don’t think it is as inevitable as some here indicate. why should women and unborn babies have to go through it, and so often, if we can find other ways?


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • crowepps

    Certainly idealists have always tried to promote justice, alleviate poverty, cure sickness, prevent violence, promote equality, etc., and will continue to do so in the future.

     

    The thing I find kind of weird personally, however, is using abortion as the base motivator to change these things.  Is there were no such thing as abortion and ending pregnancy was absolutely impossible then would be injustice, hunger, illness, victimization and intolerance be okay?

     

    I understand what you’re saying – solving the underlying social problems would lessen the situations in which women’s pregnancies are unwanted and therefore automatically lessen abortion – but it’s hard to use this argument without the inherent implication that ‘the poor will always be with you’ and that’s okay as long as their poverty doesn’t make them choose abortion, but when it does, by golly, THEN we’d better do something.

  • marysia

    crowepps–i do *not* by any means advocate that “poor will always be with you” sort of argument. not sure why you find this implication in the argument?

    prolifers are often critized for being “single-issue.” and fairly, because abortion cannot be addressed without equally caring about a multitude of other issues that require concern no matter what their connection or lack of it to abortion. but here i am trying to do just this, and somehow it doesn’t sound to you like it, for what reason i really cannot discern.

    in fact whenever professed christians refuse to take action on poverty “because jesus said the poor will always be with us,” i invite them to reread the christian bible and understand what jesus really says about poverty–starting with “feed the hungry.”

    these responsibilities exist at the heart of every world religion and in the best of secular thought.

    as a near-socialist, i look upon poverty not as inevitable, but a systematic product of human agency, of small groups of human beings unjustly dominating others. and it can and should be *undone* through human agency. undoing poverty is a monumental task, but one that human beings deserve.

    *all* harmful outcomes of poverty need to be addressed and healed, systematically as well as on the individual level.

    now, i *do* regard abortion as a particularly tragic outcome of poverty. there are many reasons why alleviating the root causes of abortion is my personal focus in activism, but indifference to all the other outcomes of inequality is not one of them!

    poverty is *not* somehow made okay if it doesn’t result in an abortion.

    same with every other form of oppression. issues like racism, domestic violence, lack of a living wage, etc., etc., all need to be taken care of, no matter what.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • crowepps

    I certainly agree with you that the way our society is set up ignores massive pain inherent in that structure, and that structual changes will need to be made in order to lessen it.

     

    The point I was trying to make is that structural problems have been known for thousands of years, and efforts to alleviate or combat them have been ongoing for thousands of years.  It isn’t that I ‘don’t like’ your focus on this issue, one that all decent humans should recognize and focus on, it’s just that I do not agree that efforts should be increased because abortion is a "particularly tragic outcome of poverty".

     

    The ways in which poverty warps the lives of ALL who suffer it is tragic, but I believe it is far more tragic for the babies whose bodies and brains are stunted by malnutrition and the children who fall behind in elementary school because they are homeless and/or hungry or the teens who live on the streets. 

  • marysia

    well, if you have a prochoice rather than a prolife view of abortion, that makes sense.

    but i look upon abortion as an unjust form of lifetaking–that’s what all the fuss is about. if for the sake of the discussion, you put yourself in those shoes for a minute, maybe it would be more understandable, even if in the end you still disagreed.

    i don’t see the interests, rights, and needs of unborn children as pitted against those of the already born. to me it’s not a matter of either/or, but both-and.

    unborn and already born children–as well as their mothers and other family members–benefit from so many of the same solutions, such as a clean environment, expanded maternal/child nutrition programs, community gardening in urban food deserts, free clothing including maternity clothes and diapers, living wage jobs, affordable housing, quality education, and prevention and healing of family and community violence.

    i am white but working poor much of my life and have lived most of my life in a majority-poor, majority black urban neighborhood, my family is interracial. i have been active however i can be in all of these issues, for the sake of the unborn and already-born alike.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • paul-bradford

    …Marysia posts the most sensible thoughts on the ‘site. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    i don’t see the interests, rights, and needs of unborn children as pitted against those of the already born. to me it’s not a matter of either/or, but both-and.

    While I will absolutely agree with you that solutions for the already born would also be positive in their effect on the unborn, the whole definition of ‘poor’ is not having enough resources to go around for the people present in the family.  Every additional mouth makes the share of food available for the mouths already there smaller, so in that sense the mother must make her decision about her pregnancy taking into consideration that continued development will be a detriment to her existing children.  I will absolutely agree with you that no woman should ever be in a position where her decision on abortion hinges on this type of economic reason, but that isn’t our present reality.

    i have been active however i can be in all of these issues, for the sake of the unborn and already-born alike.

    I think that’s great.  My intent wasn’t to disrespect your work, but to point out to you that some people are getting really tired of the important of such vital work hinging on the idea that it ‘saves the preborn’.  It would be absolutely worthwhile even if it ‘only’ saved the already born.  Hinging it on ‘saving the preborn’ means if abortion became illegal tomorrow, those persons who had ‘stop abortion’ as their only focus in doing this work could consider their goal accomplished and quit.

  • paul-bradford

    Amanda,

     

    Let’s spend some time looking at the things we agree about.

     

    The belief that women who have sex should be punished with mandatory childbirth.

     

    We both agree that women shouldn’t be punished for having sex.  I’m sure we also both agree that people shouldn’t be punished for getting into car accidents, especially when they’re not at fault.  There’s a difference between punishment and consequence.  One is intended, the other isn’t. 

     

    We can’t eliminate unhappy consequences — but we can minimize them.  Contraception minimizes the unhappy consequence of unwanted pregnancy.  Another way to minimize it (Man!  Am I going to catch hell for this!!) is to open your mind to the idea of finding sexual satisfaction and emotional intimacy with your partner without having intercourse.  Heterosexual coitus is not the only form of sex.  For some people, it’s not even their favorite form of sex.  I’ll give you folks another reason to think I’m a misogynist by making a sweeping statement about what makes women happy in bed — but female sexual gratification does not require the expulsion of semen.  That’s really a ‘guy thing’.

     

    now the anti-choice focus is on arguing that they’re not misogynist

     

    Ahhh!  I’ve given up  on that.  You can’t all be wrong.  I’m a misogynist.  (Just don’t tell all the women who actually like me.) 

     

     

    the idea that "women are fundamentally stupid" isn’t a misogynist argument, but I can see that anti-choicers might feel it’s downright compassionate compared to the "stupid sluts should have kept their legs shut" argument of old.

     

    Here’s some more stuff that we agree on: women are much ‘smarter’ than anyone else when it comes to figuring out what the option of childbirth will mean to their future happiness.  We also agree that women aren’t any ‘dumber’ than men when it comes to appreciating the value of the unborn.  Appreciation of the value of the unborn is completely unrelated to one’s gender. 

     

    Feigning compassion for pregnant women

     

    More stuff we agree on!  You and I have both figured out that there’s no more nauseating group of hypocrites than Pro-Life conservatives.  They’re constantly blocking programs that might make childbirth a legitimate option! 

     

    One thing you neglected to mention, however, that not all Pro-Lifers are conservative.  Progressive Pro-Lifers support all sorts of measures that support women and families (but, of course, part of the reason we’re doing it is to improve the futures of unborn children so it shouldn’t count for compassion of women.  There’s only so much compassion to go around, isn’t there, and we keep wasting it on the very young.  That’s GOT to be siphoning it away from women.)

     

    Education is wasted on women.

     

    More stuff that Ms. Marcotte and Mr. Bradford agree about!  By my lights, female education is the best way to combat poverty and overpopulation.  When I’m acclaimed king, I’ll insist that every country does as good a job of educating its girls and women as the US does — then I’ll insist that the US do a better job than it’s done!) 

     

    Pain is what you deserve.

     

    This is getting really annoying!  We both carry around the notion that women deserve to be happy and we’re both aware of the fact that a lot of women, particularly young women, are happier being childless.  Giving women the option of not becoming mothers is a high priority for both of us.

     

    Sad to say, I could go on.  But this is all the agreement I can stomach for now. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

     

  • marysia

    paul–thank you again.

    crowepps writes:–While I will absolutely agree with you that solutions for the already born would also be positive in their effect on the unborn, the whole definition of ‘poor’ is not having enough resources to go around for the people present in the family. Every additional mouth makes the share of food available for the mouths already there smaller, so in that sense the mother must make her decision about her pregnancy taking into consideration that continued development will be a detriment to her existing children.–

    that is true, i am well aware from personal experience about raising a child under severe financial constraints, and i think women have every right to prevent pregnancy through whatever voluntary means they choose. for those who cannot afford family planning, there is a public responsibility to make it fully available, and to ensure that women have the social power necessary to make it as effective as possible. (although our family later qualified for it) i personally battled with being not quite poor enough for medicaid, but being stuck with a private insurance plan that wouldn’t pay for the best method of contraception for me.

    there is also an inescpaable social responsibility to ensure that not all the responsibility of giving children the necessary resources falls upon the woman’s already quite overburdened shoulders. there are better solutions to this problem than backing women into corners where the only answer is abortion or ELSE. i am sure you would agree.

    –My intent wasn’t to disrespect your work, but to point out to you that some people are getting really tired of the important of such vital work hinging on the idea that it ‘saves the preborn’. It would be absolutely worthwhile even if it ‘only’ saved the already born. Hinging it on ‘saving the preborn’ means if abortion became illegal tomorrow, those persons who had ‘stop abortion’ as their only focus in doing this work could consider their goal accomplished and quit.–

    well, from a prolife (not merely antiabortion) perspective, work against poverty, racism, and other forms of inequality is necessary and important b/c it serves *both* the unborn and already-born–the two are not separated out. and i agree with you, if an action serves “only” the already born, it *is* absolutelty worthwhile.

    and i can assure you–of all those i know who are prolife (not merely antiabortion)–we all know our work is cut out for us, whatever does or doesn’t happen with the legal status of abortion. and the responsibility extends beyond this country to the whole world.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • ahunt

    Am I going to catch hell for this!!) is to open your mind to the idea
    of finding sexual satisfaction and emotional intimacy with your partner
    without having intercourse.  Heterosexual coitus is not the only form
    of sex.  For some people, it’s not even their favorite form of sex.
    I’ll give you folks another reason to think I’m a misogynist by making
    a sweeping statement about what makes women happy in bed — but female
    sexual gratification does not require the expulsion of semen.  That’s
    really a ‘guy thing’.

     

    Actually Paul…I’m not sure you will get heavily hammered…if you are suggesting that creativity in the sack is a good thing.

     

    I do wonder if women place a lot of value on masculine pleasure, and consider the "expulsion" as proof of pleasure. 

     

    Shoot…gotta run…more later.

  • crowepps

    female sexual gratification does not require the expulsion of semen

    Female sexual gratification doesn’t require the man either.

  • deb-r

    deb r
    Although I can agree with what some of the common ground pro-lifers such as Paul and Marysia say, I think that they need to be focusing on the anti-life/choice sites who hate the poor and women –why not spend more time writing on their sites to convince them of some of the compassionate ideas you have instead of this site–where no one is going to disagree with giving poor women more assitance so they can make a real choice? However you also seem to forget that pregnancy is not always a walk in the park–some of us never recover from birth–so adoption is not an option. Many years ago I was divorced and had 1 child and had some health problems I was dealing with–I fell in love for the first time after the divorce but he did not love me the same–I chose to have an abortion–I did not feel it would be good for me mentally, physically or financially to have a baby. yes, I could have had the baby and gave it up for adoption but I was not willing to risk my health especaily since I knew I wanted more children–with the right partner. Later when I was healthier I had 2 more kids–I am sure that the spirit came back to me with the next pregnancy when I was ready. This is my spiritual belief and since we are supposed to have separation of religion and state I have the right to my beliefs about when a fetus is fully human(when the spirit is connected with the body). And I have the right to make decsions about my body with out any interference from anyone else as should every other human being who is already here! I know my husband would consult with me if he had a life altering decision to make about his body and health but ultimately it would be his decision to make. Of course his decisions should not have to be based on wether or not we can afford it! Just like no woman should have to make a decision about pregnancy due to financial concerns–so yes we should all be on common ground and support universal health care for everyone and real welfare reform which would actually support a woman while she is going to school and provide child care so she can work or go to school. Helping pregnant women is much more than giving them baby clothes at a crisis center–we need an entire overhaul of the system and still we need to allow women to make their own decisions about their own bodies!

  • julie-watkins

    i look upon abortion as an unjust form of lifetaking–that’s what all the fuss is about. if for the sake of the discussion, you put yourself in those shoes for a minute, maybe it would be more understandable, even if in the end you still disagreed.


    i don’t see the interests, rights, and needs of unborn children as pitted against those of the already born. to me it’s not a matter of either/or, but both-and.

    The way some Pro-Lifers want legislation written, it’s impossible to address the "rights" of the unborn in a way that doesn’t take away rights from pregnant women. If your vision of "both-and" contains helping pregnant women the way they want to be helped rather than coerce or legally force certain choices, then I would conclude you don’t see pregnant women as second class. But since you call abortion "an unjust form of lifetaking" I think you and I will disagree.
    I think we have different world views. For people who think Things Happen For A Reason being born female instead of male is a pretty large sign of what Nature (or God) wants for you and it’s understandable why such people might have "traditional" expectations of how pregnant women should act if contraception fails. For people who think gender-at-birth is chance (such as myself), then Nature’s Sexism is an ethical problem. That’s why I think saying pregnant women are obligated is saying women (and poor people) are second class. To me, abortion a conditional "problem" — so long as the greater ethical problem of women’s oppression and classist oppression of the poor exist, the circumstance of an unwanted fetus ethically has to be decided by the woman and her chosen advisors. Or it’s added injustice to women and poor families.
    My personal view can be summed up: "Giving birth (giving life) has to be a gift or women and poor people don’t have equality." I don’t think my abortion after my IUD failed was being unjust to my fetus. I didn’t want to comit to a child, that’s why I was using birth control. Once I knew I was pregnant, I scheduled my abortion promptly … then got my tubes tied, since an IUD obviously wasn’t a good match for me. I’m not wanting to force abortions, but considering how overpopulated the world currently is I consider it unethical for anyone to attempt to bring any pregnancy to term unless it’s really wanted.
  • paul-bradford

    Hi Julie,

     

    I don’t know how you’ll take this, but I mean it sincerely — I always enjoy seeing your posts. 

     

    But since you call abortion "an unjust form of lifetaking" I think you and I will disagree.

     

    Please help me make sure I ‘get’ your point of view.  I don’t think you can disagree with me that a fetus is some sort of life, so we can start by agreeing that abortion is "a form of life taking" and then explore why some of us believe that it’s just and others of us believe that it’s unjust.  An example I’m pretty sure we can agree on for just life taking is an operation to have a cancerous tumor removed.  Tumors are a form of life, and a cancer operation ends that life.  It’s life taking, but it’s just life taking.  Do we agree that some kinds of life taking are just whereas other forms are unjust?

     

    Do you agree with me that it’s unjust to end the life of a complete, unequivocal human person?  My Pro-Life views are such that I take that pretty seriously.  I assert that it’s unjust to end the life of a convicted criminal or an enemy in wartime.  I also assert that it’s unjust to end the life of a person who is unable to express her/his wishes on the grounds that death is "for her/his own good".  I also assert that it’s unjust to end your own life.  What are your feelings about this? 

     

    If we agree that it’s unjust to end the life of a person, then we disagree about whether you’re a person in the days before you’re born.  I claim that you’re a person if you have a living human body.  You, perhaps, use some other standard to determine who is a person and who (what?) is not.  I’d be interested in your comments. 

     

    I’m not wanting to force abortions, but considering how overpopulated the world currently is I consider it unethical for anyone to attempt to bring any pregnancy to term unless it’s really wanted.

     

    It’s well established that I’m a lot more ‘anti-choice’ than a lot of posters to this ‘site, so perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn that if I could be convinced that unborn life was something other than and less than the life of a human person I would "force abortions".  I don’t believe any woman should have a child unless she’s ready, willing and able to provide for that child’s care.  Many pregnant women don’t come close to making good mothers and the odds that these women will produce unhappy, unproductive, unlawful, uneducated, unattractive children are pretty good.

     

    If you can convince me that unborn life is not the life of a human person, or that it’s just to end unborn life I would not become Pro-Choice.  I’d become Pro-Abortion.  What do you think of that? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • julie-watkins

    I don’t know how you’ll take this, but I mean it sincerely — I always enjoy seeing your posts. 

    It’s my hope that this time we have a more constructive conversation than usual. You write:

    If we agree that it’s unjust to end the life of a person, then we disagree about whether you’re a person in the days before you’re born.

    I already answered this in my original reply:

    To me, abortion a conditional "problem" — so long as the greater ethical problem of women’s oppression and classist oppression of the poor exist, the circumstance of an unwanted fetus ethically has to be decided by the woman and her chosen advisors. Or it’s added injustice to women and poor families.

    Comments?

  • julie-watkins
    Sorry I didn’t answer this earlier, I was out of town for 5 days.
    believing as i do (for secular/interfaith reasons, by the way), that both unborn and already-born are valuable, the task at hand is the utter responsibility of expanding and creating nonabortion reproductive choices.
    Unfortunately, this still seems (to me) to be increasing the burdens on women and poor people. I think it would be more empowering and increase equality if giving birth was considered a[n attempted] gift rather than an obligation. I don’t think you can "relieve" systemic sexism by insisting to continue Nature’s Sexism …
  • ack

    Thank you for sharing your story. Just wanted to say that.

  • ack

    there is a growing recognition that contraceptive sabotage and battery
    during pregnancy, for example, are implicated in many more abortions
    than was previously thought.>>>>

     

    Thank you for mentioning this. I think it’s a seriously overlooked factor in the abortion debate that 40% of pregnancies in abusive relationships are unplanned, vs 8% in non-abusive relationships. For women experiencing contraceptive coercion or control, abortion is a vital option.

     

  • emma

    as a near-socialist, i look upon poverty not as inevitable, but a systematic product of human agency, of small groups of human beings unjustly dominating others. and it can and should be *undone* through human agency. undoing poverty is a monumental task, but one that human beings deserve.

    Well, I agree with this, but just out of curiosity, why do you say ‘near-socialist’, if it’s ok to ask? I’m sorry if I’m being nitpicky; I’m just wondering, I guess, because I’m inclined to identify as an anarcho-socialist, and I’ve noticed that a lot of left-leaning people stop short of the dreaded socialism – this seems to be more of a Thing with Americans, I’ve noticed, although Australians are almost as bad. Anarchism seems to be even less popular and less understood.

     

    I mean, I’m with you on most of what you’ve said, other than the abortion thing. I think alleviating poverty and eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence, based on gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, class and so on and so forth, would be a worthy endeavour in and of itself.

     

    We have a major problem in the capitalist global economic system, and that needs to change if we’re ever going to successfully address inequality.
    Seeing global improvements in health, literacy, life expectancy, access to employment and education and a social safety net, and seeing women and girls -globally – able to access any reproductive health care (health care for any reason, actually) they require, would be something incredibly worthwhile in and of itself.

     

    Eliminating the vile human rights abuses governments carry out on their own citizens and citizens of other countries would also be a goal worth pursuing. I’m thinking specifically, I guess, of the US and (amongst other things) tortured child detainees; Sri Lanka; and Israel’s almost genocidal policies vis a vis the Palestinian inhabitants of the region.
    There’s just so much that needs to be so much done, so many changes made, before I’d even consider making foetuses my concern.

     

    We might even have some stuff in common, Marysia…

  • paul-bradford

    To me, abortion a conditional "problem" — so long as the greater ethical problem of women’s oppression and classist oppression of the poor exist, the circumstance of an unwanted fetus ethically has to be decided by the woman and her chosen advisors. Or it’s added injustice to women and poor families.

     

    Julie,

     

    My first comment is that your statement makes me feel incredibly sad and somewhat frustrated.  You talk about ‘the circumstance of an unwanted fetus’.  I gather that by ‘circumstance’ you mean whether the fetus is going to be a baby or whether s/he will become medical waste.  Please tell me that you believe that a fetus is something other than a human person.  Could you possibly justify a situation where a human person’s fate is completely controlled by the choice of another person?

     

    There are, of course, other situations.  There were about 100,000 Iraqis whose fate was completely controlled by the choice of G.W. Bush.  I figure he hasn’t lost any sleep over his choice so there goes the theory that anyone whose responsible for the death others will feel guilt and remorse.  Hell, Harry Truman never lost any sleep over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The human brain, apparently, is very well suited to protect us from pangs of conscience.

     

    We both are strongly convinced that the injustices of sexism and classism need to be addressed.  You’ve singled out one problem that has bedeviled women for as long as people have been around — the problem of unwanted pregnancy.  It is a huge problem for women (it’s also a huge problem for partners, families and societies) and it afflicts women regardless of their class or status.

     

    You should know that I become hopeful and excited over the prospect of preventing unwanted pregnancies and I become miserable over the thought of terminating unwanted pregnancies.  The difference, in my mind, between prevention and termination is so huge as to be practically absolute.

     

    You’ve added a new wrinkle.  You claim that the justification for termination is found in the fact that unwanted pregnancy afflicts women only and is, therefore, sexist.  Nature is sexist.  God is sexist.  Reality is sexist.  It’s not fair for women to suffer unwanted pregnancies therefore it is fair for them to abort.

     

    Julie, I don’t know where to begin to explain to you how warped that logic is.  You’re essentially saying that people who endure injustice are permitted to perpetrate injustice.  Two wrongs make a right.  In taking that stance you cut right through to the heart of my faith.  I believe that it’s counterproductive to combat injustice with injustice.  I believe that we are called to promote justice even as we’re being victimized by injustice.  When somebody dehumanizes me that’s actually MORE of a reason for me to humanize everyone around me.

     

    You will find that I’m an eager ally when you attempt to advance the well being of women.  I don’t believe that it helps women for us to tolerate abortion.  After all, every woman is a former fetus.  If she counts for something now, she counted for something then.

     

    I hope you will respond. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Do you agree with me that it’s unjust to end the life of a complete, unequivocal human person?

    That’s why there are restrictions on abortion after viability, 75% of the way through the pregnancy – the point at which the ‘human person’ is ‘complete’ is appoximately 30 weeks.  Fetuses born before 30 weeks often are not ‘finished’ and survive with handicaps because they are incomplete.

  • julie-watkins
    Please tell me that you believe that a fetus is something other than a human person.  
    My fetus wasn’t a person, I didn’t accept the pregnancy. I would rather my IUD had worked, but I didn’t want to give of myself to attempt to bring the pregnancy to term. As Crowepps already posted,
    That’s why there are restrictions on abortion after viability, 75% of the way through the pregnancy – the point at which the ‘human person’ is ‘complete’ is appoximately 30 weeks.
    There are problems with "viability" as "law" rather than "medical standards" because anti-abortion politicians use that a precident to do increasingly chip away at reproductive justice.
    Could you possibly justify a situation where a human person’s fate is completely controlled by the choice of another person?
    In the circumstance of a pregnant woman this situation only occurs when the fetus is defined as a "person" even before viability.
    You claim that the justification for termination is found in the fact that unwanted pregnancy afflicts women only and is, therefore, sexist.
    You’re "disappearing" women again. You skipped the part that a pregnancy brought to term puts much biologial stress and resources sucked from the woman in such large magnitute that it is only justice that the woman gets to choose if she wants to do the work, free from coercion or laws. Part of that freedom, of course, is that she receive support if she wants it; but the existence of better pre-natal programs shouldn’t be a reason to say it’s unjust for her to choose termination anyway. My complete riff is rather long, but obviously I can’t leave that aspect ("human females are biologically forced in a way human males are not") as implied. Let me correct your statement:
    Julie claims that the justification for termination is found in the fact that pregnancy is an extreme expense of biological resources for women and no woman should be forced or coerced into continue an unwanted pregnancy — or be denied the ability to change her mind if something goes wrong.
    It’s the extent of the unequality in what a female expends vs what a male expends that makes Nature Sexist, and that’s wanted as well as unwanted pregnancies. I don’t think I’m unethical for demanding an unfair rules be made more fair. We both think each other’s logic is warped. From my point of view, you’re essentially saying that it’s OK for people in power to define what "moral" is in such a way that they can make injustice systemic and preserve their power.
  • paul-bradford

    Julie,

     

    I wonder if you’d be willing, from time to time, to drop a few clues about yourself.  What you do for a living.  Where you live.  How old you are.  What your marital status is.  I ask these things because I don’t want either of us to lose sight of the fact that our opinions and passions on this matter are connected to honest-to-goodness human lives.  You certainly didn’t get this far into the conversation just to blow off steam!  And, of course, neither did I. 

     

    It’s the extent of the unequality in what a female expends vs what a male expends that makes Nature Sexist, and that’s wanted as well as unwanted pregnancies.

     

    The ‘extent of inequality’ is nearly absolute.  In order to be born we nearly sap our mothers dry but we require only the slightest exertion from our fathers.  After we’re born, hopefully, Dad starts to make a few contributions to our well-being; but from conception to birth it’s all Mom.

     

    You’ve heard it said, "It takes a village to raise a child."  I’m going to push the envelope a little and say, "It takes a village to bear and deliver a child."  Our reliance on Mom is 100% until we’re born, but while we’re relying on Mom, Mom is relying on the rest of humanity.  Isolated mothers simply can’t give birth.

     

    (This is where crowepps accuses me of puffery.)

     

    Gift or Obligation?  That’s an enormously pertinent question, and it relates not only to the gift/obligation that goes from mother to child during pregnancy but also to just about every example that exists of one person helping another.  We must help each other.  We choose to help each other.  Helping each other is the source of our joy.

     

    Those of us who aren’t pregnant have an ‘opportunity to give’/'burden of obligation’ to those who are.  Unpack the commandment, "Love your neighbor".  Is it a duty or an opportunity.  I look forward to continuing this conversation about an essential religious question.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • julie-watkins

    Hi, Paul. I think I’ve answered most of the are-you-married? questions previously, so I’ll just reinterate that I get my news from blogs (sometimes pointing me to mainstream media sites) and I don’t watch TV, which is over-loaded with oligarchy-sponsored messages. I don’t like how they try to brainwash me that my gender role is always to serve …

    "It takes a village to bear and deliver a child."

    … and that pregnant women are considered community property. I know

    We must help each other.  We choose to help each other.  Helping each other is the source of our joy.

    but I have observed through my decades (and in reading history) that women and poor people are expected (or legally forced) to do much more than their fair share, and the bosses take more than they give. I refuse to get on that band wagon. I help who I want to help, and I ask them how I may help rather than telling them what to do.

    religious question.

    do you really want me to go there? Thinking about what SaltyC
    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/comment/reply/12526/35695
    and others have written about the low percentage of fertilized eggs that result in a live birth in relation to what I say about Nature’s Sexism … in a way, Nature mitigates the burden of pregnancy. A ZBE is much more fragile than a F — a lot of things can prevent a pregnancy from progressing. IE, Nature does (somewhat) give pregnant women a choice. If it’s a really bad time (stress, not enough food, woman not healthy enough, bad genetic mix), the pregnancy ends in miscarriage. There’s an evolutionary aspect for this: since pregnancy does take such a high biological toll, having a mechanism (man made or from nature) to end a pregnancy that happens at a bad time means those resources are preserved for a better time where the mother and child are more likely to survive. So I think the principle of "[attempting to] give birth is a gift" has much a validity as being "natural" as "[attempting to] give birth is an obligation". Nature is OK with shades of grey, I wish Pro-Life people weren’t so rigid in their expectations.

  • paul-bradford

    Pregnant women are considered community property. I know.

     

    Julie,

     

    Let’s take a look at what just happened here.  I made the point that a woman needs and deserves the support of her partner, her family, and her society if she is to become a success at motherhood.  You responded — and correct me if I’m wrong — by resigning yourself to the woeful fact that Paul Bradford has no capacity or desire to respect the dignity and integrity of pregnant women.  Maybe I’m just being touchy, but that’s my read on your comment.

     

    I’ve written extensively about my conviction that pregnant women oftentimes get a raw deal and that abortions could be reduced if we didn’t leave these women ‘on their own’ as much as we do.  Of course, as long as you’re convinced that somebody wants to frustrate your life and make it worse than it already is you’re not going to believe them when they tell you they’re trying to help.  You might not even be willing to admit that you could use some help.

     

    As long as people all walk around with the attitude that they don’t need anybody’s help and that they just want to be left alone the vulnerable are going to suffer.  Why do you suppose the abortion rate in the US is twice what it is in Denmark?  I think it’s because we’re all cowboys and think independence is the greatest virtue.  Our perspective is that the Danes are a bunch of sissy Socialists.

     

    Your reply? 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • julie-watkins
    and something about a ZBEF & Obama.
    Why do you suppose the abortion rate in the US is twice what it is in Denmark?
    Do they refer to ZBEFs as "the very young" in Denmark? Does their Madison Avenue glorify pregnancy?
    I’ve written extensively about my conviction that pregnant women oftentimes get a raw deal
    I agree with that, but (since you speak so much about the unborn being at risk) I see your concern as more a means to an end. Especially as you insisted I was "a mother" before I had my abortion. You would make a better case if your approach was to focus on helping women who don’t want an abortion but don’t have the right kind of support to continue their pregnancies. When you refuse to accept that it is ethical for women to decide whether or not the ZBEF is (will be)(hopefully) a person you aren’t "respect[ing] the dignity and integrity of pregnant women" who don’t want to be pregnant. If you’re "for choice" your approval shouldn’t be conditional.
    PS, my tone. Please note this comment you wrote above:
    Julie, I don’t know where to begin to explain to you how warped that logic is.  
  • crowepps

    You’ve heard it said, "It takes a village to raise a child."  I’m going to push the envelope a little and say, "It takes a village to bear and deliver a child."  Our reliance on Mom is 100% until we’re born, but while we’re relying on Mom, Mom is relying on the rest of humanity.  Isolated mothers simply can’t give birth.

     

    (This is where crowepps accuses me of puffery.)

    Isolated mothers simply can’t give birth?  What do they do instead, Paul?  Wait until somebody happens to wanders by before they go into labor?  This isn’t puffery — it’s just silly.

    Unpack the commandment, "Love your neighbor".  Is it a duty or an opportunity.  I look forward to continuing this conversation about an essential religious question.

    Since I guess athiests never love other people or help anybody else, not having a God around to reward them for doing so or punish them for not doing so.  Sigh.

  • crowepps

     Why do you suppose the abortion rate in the US is twice what it is in Denmark?  

    Because a very high percentage of sexually active teenagers and single women in Denmark use contraceptives?  Correctly?

  • paul-bradford

    Since I guess athiests never love other people or help anybody else, not having a God around to reward them for doing so or punish them for not doing so. Sigh.

     

    crowepps,

     

    Once again you got me into a snit!  You do it so naturally.  All you have to do is misunderstand me and I twist up like a pretzel.

     

    I certainly don’t think — nor did I imagine you thought — that ‘religious’ questions are only pondered by those who believe in the existence of a god.  (By the way, I recommend Rebecca Goldstein’s latest, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction).  We both know people who are stupid enough to think that way, and I feel insulted that you could imagine I’m one of them.  Really insulted!

     

    Are we moved by choice, or are we moved by duty?  I called it a ‘religious’ question.  Sue me!  The religious tradition that takes that question up most thoroughly, from what I’ve learned, is the Hindu tradition.  I’m certainly not a Hindu — but I think about duty and choice.  So do you.  So does every thoughtful person.

     

    I’m also offended by your suggestion that the morality of believers is shaped by an expectation of favor or a dread of reprisal on the part of the Deity.  I don’t know what it is about the human heart that causes us to love justice, but that impulse is entirely separate from the fear of punishment or the hope of reward.  It is also entirely separate from speculations about the existence of God.

     

    I’ll let you in on a little secret: God doesn’t reward you for doing good.  Doing good is the reward. Rewards and punishments are for children.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    I certainly don’t think — nor did I imagine you thought — that ‘religious’ questions are only pondered by those who believe in the existence of a god.

    Well, yeah, because ‘religion’ is about a god.  Did you perhaps actually mean ‘ethical’ questions?  When you make a mistake like that and people take you up on it, perhaps you might want to consider how your inaccurate word choice let to the misunderstanding, instead of getting in a snit.

     

    You might find this interesting:

    The origins of religion : evolved adaptation or by-product?

    Ilkka Pyysiäinen1 and Marc Hauser2

    Abstract

    Considerable debate has surrounded the question of the origins and evolution of religion. One proposal views religion as an adaptation for cooperation, whereas an alternative proposal views religion as a by-product of evolved, non-religious, cognitive functions. We critically evaluate each approach, explore the link between religion and morality in particular, and argue that recent empirical work in moral psychology provides stronger support for the by-product approach. Specifically, despite differences in religious background, individuals show no difference in the pattern of their moral judgments for unfamiliar moral scenarios. These findings suggest that religion evolved from pre-existing cognitive functions, but that it may then have been subject to selection, creating an adaptively designed system for solving the problem of cooperation.

    Adaptation or by-product?

    Religious beliefs are ubiquitous across cultures and time, and understanding the origins and evolution of religion is a question that has attracted significant attention and debate. Some scholars claim that religion evolved as an adaptation to solve the problem of cooperation among genetically unrelated others [1,2]. Others propose that religion emerged as a by-product of pre-existing cognitive capacities [3,4,5], but then, through both biological and cultural evolution, might have evolved into a system that is well-designed to solve problems of cooperation (see [6,7]). Here, we review these alternative proposals, and then introduce a moral psychological perspective that, we argue, provides novel insight into this debate. Specifically, recent work in moral psychology supports the view that religion evolved as a cognitive by-product of pre-existing capacities that evolved for non-religious functions.

    From an evolutionary perspective, the fact that individuals often make sacrifices for the benefit of genetically unrelated others is a problem that calls for an explanation (see [8,9,10,11]). Given the extraordinary sacrifices that humans often make in the service of religion, several authors have argued that religion, especially god beliefs, has emerged as an adaptation designed to facilitate intra-group cooperation. This argument is presented in several slightly different forms (for a review, see [12]) and we discuss some of these below. Our central thesis is that the specific, high level of cooperation observed among human populations is only possible because we evolved moral intuitions about norm-consistent and inconsistent actions, and thus, intuitive judgments of right and wrong. This view forces a distinction between intuitive and explicit moral processes, in the same way that we must distinguish between intuitive religious beliefs and explicit ones. Thus, the question of how religion might have contributed to the evolution of cooperation can be asked at two different levels: intuitive beliefs about right and wrong and explicit norms and values of individuals and legal institutions, on the one hand, and intuitive religious beliefs and explicit doctrines and religious affiliations, on the other.

    Religion as originally evolved adaptation

    Bering [13] argues that there is a cognitive system, dedicated to form illusory representations of psychological immortality and symbolic meaning, which evolved as a response to the unique selective pressures of the human social environment. Although specific afterlife beliefs are not direct products of natural selection, an intuitive pattern of reasoning that does not hinge on the presence of explicit religious concepts has been selected for. Thus, the general idea of an afterlife is not so much implanted in people’s heads by way of exposure to counterintuitive tales, as it is already present in human cognitive structures ([14], p. 269]). Religion is a set of ideas that survives in cultural transmission because it effectively parasitizes other evolved cognitive structures. A representational bias for envisioning personal immortality has impacted the net genetic fitness of individual humans in ancestral environments ([13], p. 456). Thus, beliefs about ghosts and afterlife are generated by a mechanism producing illusory but adaptive beliefs. Although Bering [13,14] presents his view as an alternative for epidemiological by-product theories [3,4,5], it remains somewhat unclear where the difference actually lies (see [3]).

    Religion as by-product

    The view of religion as by-product is based on a two-step argument. First, religion is a vague category with no clear boundaries or essence; thus, it is difficult to determine whether a particular belief or action is religious or not [24]. This poses a problem for any explanation of religion as an entity-like whole. The by-product view avoids this problem by using religion as a heuristic term that refers to a fuzzy set of beliefs and behaviors without any clear boundaries [25]. It is not an explanation of religion but, rather, a denial of the claim that all aspects of religion emerged at once at some point in history [5].

    Second, although such concepts as God or life eternal are regarded as religious, no specifically religious cognitive mechanisms have been specified and nor would they be expected according to the by-product view [4,26,27]. For example, drawing inferences from the concept of God requires mindreading mechanisms that also mediate inferences about all agent concepts [28]. Thus, the concept of God is based on extending to non-embodied agents the standard capacity of attributing beliefs and desires to embodied agents [5].

    According to this view, religious beliefs are a by-product of evolved cognitive mechanisms. These cognitive mechanisms enable us to reason about the intentional states of others and to recursively embed intentional states within other intentional states, and make it possible for us to think what others think, including absent or even dead persons, fictional characters, and also supernatural agents. There is no need to invoke a set of dedicated, input-restricted mechanisms for religion, or for representing God [28].

    As to cooperation, there are numerous non-religious prosocial cognitive mechanisms in humans (Box 1). All of these evolved independently of supernatural or religious beliefs and operate in similar ways in people with or without such beliefs, including young children who have yet to be inculcated into a religion [29]. Such general, evolved cognitive mechanisms make it possible for us to represent supernatural agent concepts without invoking a separate evolutionary trajectory for religion. Here again, religion stands on the shoulders of cognitive giants, psychological mechanisms that evolved for solving more general problems of social interactions in large, genetically unrelated groups.

     

    [The rest, footnotes and charts available at:]

    http://www.cell.com/trends/cognitive-sciences/fulltext/S1364-6613%2809%2900289-7?large_figure=true

  • kristen-0

    I’ve changed my mind after watching The Silent Scream
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silent_Scream

  • paul-bradford

    Well, yeah, because ‘religion’ is about a god.

     

    What is the purpose of my life?

    Am I a person, and is that different than a thing?

    Are there other persons or am I alone?

    Do I have free will?

    What will happen to me after I die?

    Does it make sense for me to sacrifice what is good for me in order to provide what is good for others? 

     

    I suggest that these are questions that everyone asks whether they believe in the existence of a deity or not.  If they’re not ‘religious’ questions then ask me a few questions that are.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    You actually are mixing THREE different types of questions together. 

    Existential questions:

    What is the purpose of my life?

    Am I a person, and is that different than a thing?

    Are there other persons or am I alone?

    Religious questions:

    Do I have free will?

    What will happen to me after I die?

    I designated those two as ’religious’ questions because the idea of ‘free will’ is predicated on the belief that its opposite is a supernatural agency who knows everything you’re going to do in advance.  The second question is just fear of the individual consciousness disappearing when brain activity ceases, the obvious answer is ‘nothing’, and all other answers involve the belief there is a supernatural entity such as a soul or spirit that will continue to exist separate from the body.  To me, supernatural equals religious question.

    Ethical question:

    Does it make sense for me to sacrifice what is good for me in order to provide what is good for others? 

    The answer to this question is the only which actually has much affect on ‘society’.  The rest of them seem to be just ruminating over the importance of one’s own self and one’s own cogitations.

     

    It is quite possible to live a long and happy life without identifying ones ‘purpose’, while taking it for granted that other living creatures exist irrespective of whether they are ‘people’,  ignoring the supernatural, and balancing meeting one’s own needs against an obligation to others by taking turns so that one gives approximately the same amount that one receives.  The only reason that I can see that its important to identify ‘people’ is to identify a limited group which shouldn’t be exploited and brutalized while offering license to do exactly that to all the other living creatures.

  • paul-bradford

    PS, my tone. Please note this comment you wrote above:

     

    Julie,

     

    I was thinking of you while I was in line at Starbucks.  You have convinced me that my comment about ‘warped logic’ was too strong.  It certainly isn’t conducive to conversation and conversation is what I want.  I’m sorry I said it.  I should remember that I can disagree without being disagreeable.  I really want to become a better listener than I’ve been.

     

    I’m wondering if we have a disagreement that’s even more fundamental than our disagreement about the morality of abortion.  Please let me explore.  My belief is that there are certain laws which human beings can discover — but they can’t alter.  Scientific and mathematical laws fall into this category.  I also believe there are moral precepts which we can discover but can never change.  The Golden Rule is one such rule.

     

    Nature is sexist.  I agree with you even though I’m sure we both understand that there is nothing deliberate or intentional about the sexism.  Women bear all the pain and take all the risk of pregnancy, and men are free to go on about their business.  Not fair.  We agree.

     

    I would support a law that would pay women $5000 a month while they’re pregnant or post-partum.  That seems, to me, fair compensation for nature’s sexism and I support the idea.  I also would support a law that fined men $50,000 for impregnating a woman without authorization.  Certainly men have at least as much control over conception as women do.  Women "naturally" face the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy — we should add some consequences for men.  To me, that’s fair.  I’d be curious to hear your thoughts about that.

     

    I come up with these schemes because I’m pretty sure that you and I agree that people, and societies have it in their power to allocate financial compensations.  We have the power to compensate for the "injustices" of nature and I think we should.  But my thought, and this is where I lost my tongue and made those strong comments, is that it is beyond human power to alter moral laws.

     

    I can readily see that, in the circumstances you and I discuss, a woman might have to pay a very high price in order to meet her moral obligations to her child.  I’m all for doing everything possible in helping her meet those obligations — but I don’t think it’s right to imagine we can free her from those obligations.  It’s a law we can’t change — like the speed of light.  It is what it is.

     

    Do you agree with me that moral law is unchangeable?  The Golden Rule is the Golden Rule.  No one can ever repeal it.  The Golden Rule covers everybody, regardless of religion.  You can’t opt out of the Golden Rule by claiming you don’t believe in a god because God isn’t the one who enforces the Golden Rule.

     

    I haven’t figured out why I believe that we are all capable of appreciating what justice is, but I’m quite sure that no one has the power to rework it to their own specifications. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    crowepps,

     

    First of all, "Uncle!".  Religious Questions, Ethical Questions, Moral Questions, Philosophical Questions, Existential Questions …  You’re going to beat me at the ‘categorizing game’ so I shouldn’t even play.  I was struggling, in my limited way, to find some common ground and common language between people of different religions and people of no religion on the matter of distinguishing the good one can choose to do (charity) from the good one is obligated to do (justice). 

     

    My desire is to look at issues we all have to look at — not issues people can ‘opt out’ of on the grounds that they don’t share the same religion as the people who are dealing with those issues.  The dialectical tension between choice and obligation is something we all can experience.  It transcends religion.

     

    Do you agree with me that this is something everyone should discuss, that it’s unsatisfactory for us all to retire to our respective religious/philosophical cubbyholes and only communicate with people who read the same books we do?  To me there are life issues that affect everyone who experiences life.  I’m interested in those general questions. 

     

    The only reason that I can see that its important to identify ‘people’ is to identify a limited group which shouldn’t be exploited and brutalized while offering license to do exactly that to all the other living creatures.

     

    Why do we love dogs and eat pigs?  Why do we love little pink babies and exterminate big dirty rats?

     

    Your comment makes me think you’ve ‘thrown up your hands’ with respect to the evils of exploitation and brutalization.  Do you wish to propose a crowepps solution, or are you satisfied to make cynical and world-weary comments? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Do you agree with me that this is something everyone should discuss, that it’s unsatisfactory for us all to retire to our respective religious/philosophical cubbyholes and only communicate with people who read the same books we do?  To me there are life issues that affect everyone who experiences life.  I’m interested in those general questions.

    I have no problem with the idea that everyone WHO WISHES TO DO SO should have the ability to discuss questions like this.  That’s why I pasted in and gave you a referral to the extremely interesting article about the possible evolutionary drivers behind the development of human ideas of ‘fairness’, ‘ethics’, etc.  I realize it was tough reading because of the technical terms, but it is well worth struggling to get through because it DEFINES the basic questions.

    I was struggling, in my limited way, to find some common ground and common language between people of different religions and people of no religion on the matter of distinguishing the good one can choose to do (charity) from the good one is obligated to do (justice). 

    Paul, before you and I, or you and anyone else, can have any kind of productive discussion, I think it’s going to be necessary to understand that terms need to be defined.  You get very upset when I don’t understand what you meant, but in all fairness, you need to use appropriate vocabulary and watch out for mixing apples and oranges.  

     

    The last sentence in the block is an excellent example of why misunderstandings arise.  Charity is not the opposite of justice (which is instead injustice), and justice is not "the good one is obligated to do" at all.  Justice has a lot of definitions, but I think the idea behind the way you seem to be using it most of the time is defined as "the fair and equitable treatment of all individuals under the law".  The thing that the general populace is obligated to do, besides trying to construct laws which promote justice, is to avoid being UNfair and INequitable whether the results of that are ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

     

    Just as an example, if EVERYONE is treated exactly the same under the law, I don’t see any opportunity to carve out a special exception for the zygote and allow it alone access to the body of another person when there is no other situation in which any other ‘person’ is entitled to do anything of the kind.

    Why do we love dogs and eat pigs?  Why do we love little pink babies and exterminate big dirty rats?

     

    Your comment makes me think you’ve ‘thrown up your hands’ with respect to the evils of exploitation and brutalization.  Do you wish to propose a crowepps solution, or are you satisfied to make cynical and world-weary comments?

    Actually, those are extremely good questions.  Why do you think?  There are sects in India which believe it’s unethical to kill any animal or even to step on bugs.  Why do we grant dogs ‘provisional personhood’ and exclude pigs?

     

    For somebody who says he’s interested in ‘conversation’ about these issues, you sure do have a big problem with the idea that other people get to say stuff that you don’t agree with.  Instead of dismissing my comment as ‘cynical and world-weary’ why don’t you spend a few moments actually THINKING about why YOU believe identifying ‘persons’ is such a vital issue and how that identification or exclusion skews the resulting ethical system?

     

    Hint:  Strangers, ‘barbarians’, civilian populations of the losing country after a war,  Jews, the mentally ill, brown people, gays, the poor, ‘foreigners’, women, criminals and children have all been excluded from ‘personhood’ at one time and place or another for precisely the reason I stated - so they can be excluded from being treated ‘fairly and equitably’.

     

    If we’re going to have a ‘conversation’, it’s necessary to stretch your comfort zone and actually explain YOUR beliefs, not just criticize mine.

  • julie-watkins

    About tone, I know you mean to be sincere, as do I. So that keeps me in the conversation … with occasional reminders. I don’t expect you to change my mind. My purpose is more to answer your questions about why I have these non-negotiable hard borders.

     

    I also believe there are moral precepts which we can discover but can never change.  The Golden Rule is one such rule.

     

    My version of the golden rule: Do unto others as they would be done to, as you would have them do unto you as you would be done to. It’s not the standard wording, but I think it’s an improvement, since it emphasized the necessity of listening.

     

    I would support a law that would pay women $5000 a month while they’re pregnant or post-partum.  That seems, to me, fair compensation for nature’s sexism and I support the idea.  I also would support a law that fined men $50,000 for impregnating a woman without authorization.  Certainly men have at least as much control over conception as women do.  Women "naturally" face the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy — we should add some consequences for men.  To me, that’s fair.  I’d be curious to hear your thoughts about that. [emphasis added]

     

    A gilded cage is still a gilded cage. I am suspicious about the bolded phrasings, as that would lead to an expectation that a pregnant woman who doesn’t want to be a mother at that time could not ethically/legally ask for abortion if the offered support is considered "sufficient" by others (society or laws). I’m all for supporting pregnant women however they want to be supported (that includes access to abortion). Making her partner contribute to that support isn’t going to improve things, considering what I’ve read about abusive relationships. 

     

    I can readily see that, in the circumstances you and I discuss, a woman might have to pay a very high price in order to meet her moral obligations to her child.  I’m all for doing everything possible in helping her meet those obligations — but I don’t think it’s right to imagine we can free her from those obligations.  It’s a law we can’t change — like the speed of light.  It is what it is. [emphasis added]

    I don’t think it’s right to imagine an ethic whereby we disproportionally put obligations on part of a population to the advantage of the ruling oligarchy. The rulers have been massaging these ethics for thousands of years; they have the resources to support the theologians & philosophers who arrive at answers they like. I feel no obligation to sign on to millenia of misogyny, … especially when Nature is less stringent in her demands on women than society’s/law’s rigid gender roles.

     

    Do you agree with me that moral law is unchangeable?  

     

    No. The reason why theology and philosophy is a living field where new essays and research keeps getting written is that any precept is going to be a product of the culture & accumulated cultural blind spots.  

     

    The Golden Rule is the Golden Rule.  No one can ever repeal it.  The Golden Rule covers everybody, regardless of religion.  You can’t opt out of the Golden Rule by claiming you don’t believe in a god because God isn’t the one who enforces the Golden Rule.

     

    Depending on the agendas & cultural blindspots of people applying the rule, it’s often misapplied.  

     

    I haven’t figured out why I believe that we are all capable of appreciating what justice is, but I’m quite sure that no one has the power to rework it to their own specifications. 

     

    Systemic misogyny will have expectations of women’s choices that are unjust. That’s what I believe you are doing.

     

  • paul-bradford

    Wow!  You’re tough.

     

    My purpose is more to answer your questions about why I have these non-negotiable hard borders.

     

    And my purpose, Julie, is to listen to your answers.  From what I gather, you’re enormously suspicious of the motivations of those who comment on morality and philosophy.  Don’t you think there are people who care about the truth irrespective of the sacrifices they might have to make to properly acknowledge the truth?  You seem to be saying that a man would sell out the truth simply to get a financial/social/physical leg up on a woman.  That seems like a pretty lousy deal to me.

     

     

    Do unto others as they would be done to, as you would have them do unto you as you would be done to.

     

    Right.  I shouldn’t try to give you what I want, I should try to give you what you want.  Do you think that applies universally?  Are we obligated to give to others as they would want to receive or is it just a "nice thing to do" if you can get around to it?

     

    that would lead to an expectation that a pregnant woman who doesn’t want to be a mother at that time could not ethically/legally ask for abortion if the offered support is considered "sufficient" by others

     

    How this?  I don’t think our expectation of what a pregnant woman can ethically do or not do should be shaped by other people’s willingness to support her to do what’s right.  What’s right for her to do is right whether or not people are helping her do what’s right.

     

    I don’t think that pregnant women ought to be compensated as a bribe to get them to do right by their children.  I think pregnant women ought to be compensated because reproduction benefits the male as much as it benefits the female even though the female is doing all the work. 

     

    The rulers have been massaging these ethics for thousands of years; they have the resources to support the theologians & philosophers who arrive at answers they like. I feel no obligation to sign on to millenia of misogyny

     

    Is it your opinion that theology and philosophy have been so thoroughly tainted by corrupt and short-sighted leaders that it can’t serve anyone who actually cares about actual fairness? 

     

    The reason why theology and philosophy is a living field where new essays and research keeps getting written is that any precept is going to be a product of the culture & accumulated cultural blind spots.

     

    I’m sorry.  We agree that the search for truth is an ongoing enterprise and that our understanding of truth changes.  Do you agree with me that the truth itself is unchanging?  

     

    Systemic misogyny will have expectations of women’s choices that are unjust. That’s what I believe you are doing.

     

    Let me make sure I understand what you’re saying.  I’m not really interested in protecting the lives of sisters and brothers in the human family — what I really want is for women to be frustrated in their effort to achieve reproductive choice.  I never knew I was such a bastard!  What are my opinions regarding a man’s right to achieve reproductive choice (you do agree with me, don’t you, that reproduction is a hot issue for both men and women)? 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • colleen

     You responded — and correct me if I’m wrong — by resigning yourself
    to the woeful fact that Paul Bradford has no capacity or desire to
    respect the dignity and integrity of pregnant women.

     

     Believe me, we all resign ourselves to that. I wish that you had the courage to test your regurgitated dogma by talking to women you actually know (not the depressed women you say you ‘counsel’), but the pro-choice women in your ‘set’ that you fear to speak to openly. Were I you I would hesitate too because, particularly when you start obsessing and pretending that you’re the RH reality Priest and that we if we weren’t such foolish children we would all understand that we need your continual, dripping, unctuous ‘guidance’ because, after all, you really really care about those zygotes and, after all, God wants women to be soil.

    You don’t respect the dignity or integrity of women pregnant or not.

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    Don’t you think there are people who care about the truth irrespective of the sacrifices they might have to make to properly acknowledge the truth?

    Generally speaking, people who want the truth "acknowledged" aren’t planning on making any changes in their own lives but instead talking about getting OTHER people to make those sacrifices.

    You seem to be saying that a man would sell out the truth simply to get a financial/social/physical leg up on a woman.

    I think it’s more subtle than that — I think when people ‘contemplate’ the truth, they ‘recognize’ it as ‘the truth’ because it fits the pre-existing prejudices of their worldview.

    Is it your opinion that theology and philosophy have been so thoroughly tainted by corrupt and short-sighted leaders that it can’t serve anyone who actually cares about actual fairness?

    People who care about actual fairness look around at the shape the world is in and make the assumption that the current state of theology and philosophy hasn’t contributed much to providing fairness.

    We agree that the search for truth is an ongoing enterprise and that our understanding of truth changes.  Do you agree with me that the truth itself is unchanging?  

    Which ‘truth’?

     

    The current state of scientific knowledge of ‘the truth’ changes all the time as more is discovered and sometimes old truths are outright overthrown.

     

    The current set of truths about how society should function and who is entitled to be a part of it changes as more people are allowed equality and more diversity is tolerated.  They will probably change again as our economy becomes one of scarcity instead of wealth.

     

    If you mean moral ‘truths’ then, no, they are not unchanging.  Saying that they haven’t ‘really’ changed but instead we are just ‘changing our understanding of them’ seems to me like kind of a cop-out.  Where outside of the actual reality of people’s attempts to live together would this unchanging truth exist?

  • paul-bradford

    you really really care about those zygotes and, after all, God wants women to be soil.

     

    And God said, "Let the woman give birth all the days of her life.  She shall nurse, and burp, and diaper and rock from long before the man arises until long after he has lain down.  And she shall like it!"

     

    colleen,

     

    Let us take a moment to review some things that I deeply believe and have posted repeatedly on RHReality Check threads.

     

    1) Many women would lead happier lives if they don’t have children, and these women shouldn’t become mothers.

    2) Most women who would become good mothers ought to wait until they’ve completed their educations and started themselves in careers until they have kids.  It will be better for them and better for their children.

    3) A man who impregnates a woman against her will ought to be hit with a hefty fine.

    4) Birth control, and accurate birth control information ought to be easily accessible to anyone who has sex and to anyone who might have sex.

    5) We should support medical advances in reproductive health.  Ideally, a woman should have complete control over her process of ovulation and a man should have complete control over whether sperm are added to his semen.  Unwanted pregnancy should become a thing of the past.

    6) Overpopulation is the greatest danger facing humanity.  It is essential that we learn how to maintain a stable and sustainable birth rate.

    7) The greatest cause for human unhappiness is for a child to be born to parents who aren’t ready, willing and able to raise her/him properly.

    8) Men and women ought to be equal partners in child rearing.

     

    These are the things I believe.  I am as Pro-Choice as you are on the matter of women having the choice not to have a child and I am probably more Pro-Choice than you are on the matter of men having the choice not to have a child.

     

    I don’t mind discussing matters with you.  I enjoy your insights about my personality flaws and your suggestions of what I ought to do in my personal life.  I understand why you think I think I’m the assigned priest at this ‘site (although, to be accurate, I don’t consider myself a ‘priest’ so much as an ‘evangelist’.  A priest administers sacraments to the faithful.  An evangelist acts as a witness to the good news for the world.) 

     

    What I do mind is the fact that you seem unwilling to see me, and my beliefs, for what they are and prefer, instead, to argue with some phantom right-wing, Bible thumping, woman hating idiot who lives in your mind.  You and I actually agree on a great number of important issues.  Our disagreement is around one issue only — the human rights of the unborn.

     

    I do really, really, care about zygotes, and blastocysts, and embryos, and first trimester fetuses, and second trimester fetuses, and final trimester fetuses.  I think they’re all people and I think people ought to treat people like people.  I think that’s the soul of justice and justice is what I care about.  I also care about a great number of Social Justice issues that put me in alliance with liberals.  That’s why I don’t like the labels ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’.  I don’t fit in either group.

     

    You wish I would talk less about myself.  I wish you would talk more about yourself.  We differ in our ideas about how to present oneself in a discussion forum.  I’m always reconsidering my own ‘style’ to learn whether it enables me to do what I set out to do which is to engage people in respectful and productive conversations.

     

    I wish you would try harder to listen to me.  I really am trying to listen to you.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • julie-watkins

    And my purpose, Julie, is to listen to your answers.  From what I gather, you’re enormously suspicious of the motivations of those who comment on morality and philosophy. 

     

    Yes.

     

    Don’t you think there are people who care about the truth irrespective of the sacrifices they might have to make to properly acknowledge the truth?  You seem to be saying that a man would sell out the truth simply to get a financial/social/physical leg up on a woman.  That seems like a pretty lousy deal to me.

     

    Follow the money. People who are being evangelical about what women’s obligations are often get funding from others. That these others don’t sincerely believe the theology/philosophy/morals/ethics they are funding can be proven when you follow the money and find they are patrons of organizations that contradict each other. I had a great example, spent too much time searching, will make do with the example of Republicans making all this noise about abortion … then it turns out their insurance plan used to cover abortion. 

     

    Right.  I shouldn’t try to give you what I want, I should try to give you what you want.  Do you think that applies universally?  Are we obligated to give to others as they would want to receive or is it just a "nice thing to do" if you can get around to it?

     

    If people who have much more resources than I do don’t pay their fair share, I don’t have an obligation. I help when I want … and it’s a gift freely given. I listen to see how my gift is promised to be used, then I decide if I’ll give.

     

    that would lead to an expectation that a pregnant woman who doesn’t want to be a mother at that time could not ethically/legally ask for abortion if the offered support is considered "sufficient" by others

    How this?  I don’t think our expectation of what a pregnant woman can ethically do or not do should be shaped by other people’s willingness to support her to do what’s right.  What’s right for her to do is right whether or not people are helping her do what’s right.

     

    Below is a great riff by Jacqueline S. Homan, http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/comment/reply/12556/35812 I think, confronted with this reality, society isn’t behaving ethically toward women and women with children. I think much current theology (including Vatican’s) and Pro-Life Athiests are being unethical to tell pregnant women they have an obligation to continue any unintended pregnancy when the reality is, as Jacqueline puts it:

     

    Just being born female without taking into account the dynamics of race, you stand a 41% chance of ending up poor: thanks to job discrimination and lack of access to contraception and abortion, not to mention frequently getting cheated out of that child support check.

     

    Because it costs MONEY to support yourself, or yourself and a child.

     

    Although we are still paid less than men and still don’t get equal opportunities for the same jobs open to men, and we don’t get cut any breaks or discounts on what it costs for us to be able to live. We don’t get to pay less for that loaf of bread or that roof over our head than a man, yet we’re supposed to afford it all on so much less than any man would ever be expected to.

     

    So when you write

     

    I don’t think that pregnant women ought to be compensated as a bribe to get them to do right by their children. I think pregnant women ought to be compensated because reproduction benefits the male as much as it benefits the female even though the female is doing all the work.

     

    I’m confused. First you say women should get support, then you say it shouldn’t be a bribe. See the quote above.

     

    The rulers have been massaging these ethics for thousands of years; they have the resources to support the theologians & philosophers who arrive at answers they like. I feel no obligation to sign on to millenia of misogyny

    Is it your opinion that theology and philosophy have been so thoroughly tainted by corrupt and short-sighted leaders that it can’t serve anyone who actually cares about actual fairness?

     

    Any philosophy or theology needs to be examined if it is, indeed, fair. As a woman raised Catholic, for instance, I disagree with much of what I’ve found on Vatican website.


     

    I’m sorry.  We agree that the search for truth is an ongoing enterprise and that our understanding of truth changes.  Do you agree with me that the truth itself is unchanging? 

     

    No. It’s not a helpful world view that encourages black&White instead of shades of grey and diversity of goals.

     

    Systemic misogyny will have expectations of women’s choices that are unjust. That’s what I believe you are doing.


    Let me make sure I understand what you’re saying.  I’m not really interested in protecting the lives of sisters and brothers in the human family — what I really want is for women to be frustrated in their effort to achieve reproductive choice.  I never knew I was such a bastard! 

     

    Your misogyny is internalized. No one wants to be a bastard, unless they were trained to be a bully as a child and it’s a defense mechanism of some sort. However, when you keep writing what you do about ZBEFs and obligations, you are using your beliefs to justify Society’s Systemic Increase of Nature’s Sexism.

  • crowepps

    The reason that people do not take your own evaluation of your attitude toward women seriously is contained in your own statement:

    Our disagreement is around one issue only — the human rights of the unborn.

    This statement makes it clear that so far as you are concerned, the focus of the issue is the zygote, the only ‘person’ involved in the pregnancy with human rights.  Although it seems to consistently slip your mind, some  of us also disagree with you on the issue of the human rights of the woman herself.

    I’m always reconsidering my own ‘style’ to learn whether it enables me to do what I set out to do which is to engage people in respectful and productive conversations.

    During your reconsideration of your style you might want to consider some points which other people here have pointed out, repeatedly, are counterproductive to producing ‘respectful and productive conversations’. 

    I do really, really, care

    Your repeated statements about your emotional over-investment in the issue contribute nothing whatsoever.  The fact that you are a zealot is not persuasive, nor are your revelations that when people disagree with you it fills you with rage, or your protests that your feelings are really hurt by others statements.

     

    Emotionalism is not persuasive.

     

    Admissions of your inability to shelve your ego long enough to listen respectfully to the CONTENT of others posts are not persuasive.

     

    Insisting that you ‘respect’ women in conjunction with an admission that you feel yourself an ‘evangelist’ to them is not persuasive.

     

    Evangelists speak to those ignorant of the truth and no matter how you wriggle you cannot escape the circularity of the reasoning inherent there — an image of oneself as an evangelist carries within it a division of the listeners into saved/lost, informed/ignorant, moral/immoral on the basis of whether they convert to your opinions.

     

    True respect acknowledges that people have the right to disagree with you because your opinions are no more likely to be correct than their own just as true conversation is not a lecture from self-appointed authority to uninformed but instead an exchange of views between EQUAL speakers.

    You wish I would talk less about myself.  I wish you would talk more about yourself.  We differ in our ideas about how to present oneself in a discussion forum.

    Your statements about what a wonderful person you are in your own opinion and how lots of women think you’re terrific may be an indicator that to you the status of ‘good person’ confers inherent soundness to positions on public policy.  Your solicitations of people’s personal information and your replies to any such revelations that those people need to accept ‘the truth’, need counseling, need to ‘surrender to joy’,  need to FIX THEIR DEFECTS seem to indicate that the unconcious basis of your curiosity is to find sufficient evidence to dismiss those who disagree with you into the category of ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ and thus dismiss also their information and opinions.

    the very young, preborn, etc. etc.

    In addition, coining or using manipulative, emotionally laden vocabulary like ‘the very young’ or the ‘preborn’, etc., tends to put people off rather than persuade them, and comes across as disrespectful.

     

    ‘Boy, those women are just too selfish and stupid to acknowledge the humanity of the zygote and its superior claim to the use of their body, but if I call zygotes "the very young" maybe they’ll be fooled into thinking a zygote is a teensy weensy baby with a 100% guarantee of live birth.’

     

    None of the women posting here are STUPID, Paul.  They see the use of that type of language as an attempt to manipulate their emotions, and it does not make them feel ‘respected’.

     

    "The only thing all those conversations in which you are ‘misunderstood’ have in common is YOUR participation."

     

    If you really, truly are interested in considering why your involvement in these discussions doesn’t bring the response you were expecting, why you are consistently misunderstood, why nobody ‘gets your point’, why consistently ALMOST EVERY PERSON HERE draws the SAME wrong conclusions from what you say, instead of keying in the usual irate screed about your overwrought emotional reaction to this analysis, wait a day and reread this, and perhaps wait another day and reread it again.

     

    So far as I am concerned it doesn’t require any response at all.  Even posting it was probably a waste of my time — I’ve noticed whenever our discussions reach a point at which none of your usual distractions have been effective and you begin to feel backed into a corner you wander away and talk to somebody else – but just some thoughts for your consideration in the hopes that perhaps it might shortcircuit repeating the same cycle over and over and over.

  • colleen

    You and I actually agree on a great number of important issues.  Our
    disagreement is around one issue only — the human rights of the unborn.

     

    I assure you that this is not true. We do not agree on much at all and even areas of agreement are marred by deep, fundamental differences, not the least of which are your tendency to present mutually contradictory positions. 

     

     I think that’s the soul of justice and justice is what I care about.
    I also care about a great number of Social Justice issues that put me
    in alliance with liberals

     

    I have no interest in a political alliance with you, ‘Democrats for Life’, ‘Third Way’ Democrats or other neoliberals.

    I have no interest in an alliance with someone who says things like "abortion isn’t about women". 

     I wish you would talk more about yourself.

     

     I’ve watched the way that you abuse women here who do speak of their private lives and beliefs. I recall what happened several times when folks have spoken of religious or philosophical beliefs you disagreed with. (You  announced that people shouldn’t be allowed to believe any "horseshit" which was pretty rich coming from a guy who believes that zygotes are persons.You also referred to one church …the UU or the UCC, a "cult" which was pretty rich coming from a guy whose clergy was unable to prevent itself from institutionalizing child rape for generations.)  When one of us spoke of her abusive childhood (and not to you) you charged in and invented an "undoubted" connection between being a wanted child and being ‘pro-life’ (and thus valuing life) and being an unwanted or abused child and being pro-choice (and thus not valuing life) and bragged about how happy you are and how much your mother wanted you.

    Indeed it appears that we cannot even say something about politics you disagree with without you demonstrating your control freak tendencies and engaging in bizarre and pointless temper tantrams.

     

    Your problem isn’t ‘style’ or developing the proper spin. Your problem is that pro-choice women aren’t stupid enough to believe that what you’re trying to sell is good news

     

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    tendency to present mutually contradictory positions. 

    Well, there’s a big difference between ‘beliefs’ and ‘public policy’.  Beliefs can be mutually contradictory all over the place and continue to be held quite easily, especially when they are about what OTHER people should do and feel, but when it comes to public policy and law, solutions actually have to WORK in the real world.

  • niteowle

    The thought that anyone has formed any opinion on abortion based on a piece of debunked propaganda is quite frightening.

  • prochoicegoth

    The Silent Scream was bebunked as a hoax years after it was made by a board of medical professionals. If you believe ANYTHING in that video to be truth, then you are very gullible. A fetus cannot feel pain until 24-28 weeks. Proof of that can be found here

    http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/294/8/947

     

    Also, it doesn’t take a genius to see that the footage of the fetus was sped up and slowed down to make it appear to be writhing in pain or whatever they were TRYING to make it do.

     

    The rest of the video is full of utter bullshit. This pro-life quack knows nothing of fetal development or abortion procedures. Also, the pictures he showed were mostly faked or staged or they were stillbirths.

     

    Once again, if you believed that video, you are gullible. I wish I could find the analysis given by the board of medical professionals, but the original link doesn’t work.  


    It’s pro-choice or
    NO choice.

  • progo35

    "That’s why there are restrictions on abortion after viability, 75% of the way through the pregnancy – the point at which the ‘human person’ is ‘complete’ is appoximately 30 weeks."

     

    I don’t mean to butt into your conversation, but viability is not at thirty weeks. Even Planned Parenthood acknowledges that viability is at 24 weeks. My nephew was born at 25 weeks.

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • crowepps

    Thanks for pointing that out.  You’re right, I should not have confused things by using both terms, viability and complete.

     

    At 24 weeks, the fetus has a more likely than not, 50.1%, chance of survival.  That is not the same thing as ‘complete’.  Many fetuses born at that stage, for instance, have no retinas, or have lungs which are insufficiently developed.  In my opinion, having half a chance of surviving is a sensible place to set the threshhold of viability, but that isn’t the same thing as a guarantee.  Certainly nobody could talk me into doing something by reassuring me that 51% of the people who had tried before had lived through it and not many of the survivors were disabled.

     

    The extra couple of weeks of development until 26 to 27 weeks make it possible for 90% to survive, although there is still a high incidence of problems of prematurity.

     

    I was speaking of ‘complete’ at 30 weeks as the stage at which the fetus is likely to have finished its differentiation of the necessary physical forms and structure, tasks for which it needs the use of its mother’s biological support.  Once born and dependent on only its own resources all further differentiation stops.

  • progo35

    PCG-Bernard Nathanson used to perform abortions and was one of the co founders of NARAL. He knows about abortion procedures. Moreover, I’d like to know how you know that the people who made the video sped up and slowed down the ultrasound. Moreover, Abby Johnson, former director of a Planned Parenthood, has said that she changed her mind about abortion by viewing a similar procedure via ultrasound and the fetus’ reaction to the instruments used.
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • paul-bradford

    This statement makes it clear that so far as you are concerned, the focus of the issue is the zygote, the only ‘person’ involved in the pregnancy with human rights. Although it seems to consistently slip your mind, some of us also disagree with you on the issue of the human rights of the woman herself.

     

    crowepps,

     

    What is your opinion?  When a woman procures an abortion at, say, eight weeks do you suppose she is of the belief that the life she aborted is as fully a human person as she is, or does she believe that that life was something less than her life.

     

    All this time I have been under the impression that you and the other posters here take the attitude that an eight week old fetus is less ‘fully human’ than, say, a newborn.

     

    I take the position that 99% plus of women are far too decent and moral to even imagine aborting unless they assure themselves that what they’re aborting is of less moral value than the people they see all around them all the time.  I contend that abortion would be virtually impossible for a woman to stomach if she believed that the life she was aborting was as valuable as her own.

     

    Tell me where we disagree on these issues and why.  I truly, truly, truly want to listen to what you have to say. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    As I recollect, Paul, and I certainly don’t have time today to go back through the multitude of posts and track it down, at one point you were asserting that persons who joined you in your moral convictions were therefore ‘more fully human’ than others.

     

    Now all of a sudden you are asserting that it is outrageous that a woman doesn’t consider a developing cluster of cells, weighing a couple ounces and a couple inches long, as being as much of a ’fully human person’ as herself.

    I contend that abortion would be virtually impossible for a woman to stomach if she believed that the life she was aborting was as valuable as her own.

    See, that’s where the mistake is, Paul.  While men can afford to indulge themselves with this sort of excessive sentimentality, women are more practical.  This is just NOT how the majority of women think.

     

    First, if you’ll forgive a ‘girlie’ analogy, women recognize that while the occasional dish or meal may have to be discarded as inedible, the kitchen absolutely cannot continue to function without the cook.

     

    Second, women recognize the importance of timing.  They can see that the zygote or embryo or fetus being aborted in this particular pregnancy AT THIS PARTICULAR TIME (with no health care, job, education, etc.) actually has a poorer chance of a successful conclusion than the zygote/embryo/fetus which they could carry all the way through to birth later (with medical help, support, etc.).

     

    Generally speaking, women are not choosing between THEMSELVES and the zygote but instead choosing whether to invest in this zygote now or the different zygote likely to have a better chance in the future.  Those women who are already mothers have an even clearer choice: does the biological contribution this zygote now would require of her justify its clear disadvantage to her previous investment in those who have already been developed to term, been born alive and are now dependent on her for support.

  • saltyc

    Yeah, I feel the same way! Of course it’s birth control, it prevents birth. I say abortion is a positive thing because it lets women control their own fecundity, which is absolutely fundamental.