Oklahoma Anti-Choice Legislators Waste Tax Payer Money Over and Over Again


Anti-choice legislators in Oklahoma are experts on at least two things: waste and distraction. After repeatedly introducing laws – and having them overturned by the courts for being unconsitutional – that do nothing more than force government intrusion into the professional lives of physicians and the personal lives of women seeking reproductive health care, they continue to waste taxpayer time and money by ignoring constitutional rules.

Yesterday a bill that may be unconstitutional sailed through the OK House and is on its way to the Senate. It would force physicians performing abortions to narrate an ultrasound description to the pregnant woman on whom the ultrasound is being performed. This was one week after an Oklahoma district court ruled unconsitutional a 2009 law that created a public web site where doctors would be forced to publish personal information on women who have had abortions (including their names and the reason for their abortions). And now the Oklahoma Supreme Court confirmed the ruling of a lower court that mandatory viewing of ultrasounds is unconstitutional putting to rest a 2008 law that would have forced women to view the ultrasound of their pregnancy prior to receiving an abortion.

The 2009 law was oveturned in response to a case brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), and would have also banned sex-selective abortions, in addition to legislating other abortion-related issues as well.  The law was ruled unconstitutional because it dealt with too many issues simultaneously – violating Oklahoma’s constitution that laws must pertain to only a single subject.

In 2008, anti-choice legislators were able to get a law passed that would have legislated forced ultrasounds – including a specific description of the ultrasound image:

Under the guise of obtaining informed patient consent, this new law requires doctors to withhold pregnancy termination until an ultrasound is performed. The law states that either an abdominal or vaginal ultrasound, whichever gives the best image of the fetus, must be done. Neither the patient nor the doctor can decide which type of ultrasound to use, and the patient cannot opt out of the ultrasound and still have the procedure. In effect, then, the legislature has mandated that a woman have an instrument placed in her vagina for no medical benefit. The law makes no exception for victims of rape and incest.

Once again, however, CRR successfully had the law overturned in court using the same “single-issue” argument as the law attempted to both force the viewing of an ultrasound as well as compel the physician to describe the ultrasound “in detail.”

In a strongly worded “excoriation” of the Oklahoma state legislature, according to Stephanie Toti, a staff attorney at CRR, the Supreme Court ruling calls the passage of these laws “a continuous failure to abide by the Oklahoma constitution.”

The Supreme Court ruling released on March 2, 2010, confirmed the lower court ruling on SB 1878, the 2008 law requiring mandatory ultrasound viewing. This was part of a bill that included a veritable menu of other anti-choice provisions including mandaes for the posting of signs in abortion clinics stating that a person may not be coerced into having an abortion procedure and for the information physicians provided to their patients about RU-486. The ruling states:

“We are growing weary of admonishing the Legislature for so flagrantly violating the terms of the Oklahoma Constitution.”

The Oklahoma Supreme Court goes on to state that violating the OK Constitution over and over again in relation to the single-subject rule (“Over the last two decades we have addressed the single subject rule at least seven times”) is:

“…a waste of time for the Legislature and the Court, and a waste of taxpayer’s money.”

While this current bill before the Oklahoma legislature, HB 2780, does not force women to view the ultrasound, it does compel that the doctor describe the ultrasound image. For what it’s worth, ultrasounds are a standard part of abortion care already – in order for a doctor to perform an abortion procedure, she or he needs to view the embryo or fetus inside the womb to ensure that there are no signs of an ectopic pregnancy, for example.

At the clinic for which I worked, the offer to view the ultrasound was part of the care we provided to each woman. It was our philosophical belief that offering women the opportunity to receive more information while allowing her to make the ultimate decision, allowed for a more empowering experience. Laws that force women to view the ultrasound or to hear a description of the ultrasound being performed and therefore force physicians to perform or provide a medical service, infringe on the doctor/patient relationship in dangerous ways.

Astoundingly, the bill passed the OK House without a question or a discussion, despite this history of wasting taxpayer time and money by passing unconstitutional laws and then having them overturned. According to NewsOK:

House members didn’t ask questions or debate House Bill 2780. It passed 87-7 and now goes to the Senate.

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  • crowepps

    The law states that either an abdominal or vaginal ultrasound, whichever gives the best image of the fetus, must be done. Neither the patient nor the doctor can decide which type of ultrasound to use,

    If I understand this correctly, there are two ways to do the ultrasound, but nobody actually involved gets to decide which type to use.  Who then does make the decision?  Do they call the Speaker of the House and ask him to roll the dice?

     

    Using an uncomfortable and embarassing vaginal ultrasound as a diagnostic tool to determine whether bleeding associated with pregnancy is from an ectopic pregnancy (emergency) or an ordinary spontaneous miscarriage (yolk sack present in uterus) is necessary.  Having an ultrasound tech pushing instruments up your vagina while saying, ‘Look, you idiot, there’s an actual PLACENTA AND FETUS in there’ is just way, way over the line.  She KNOWS they’re in there.  That’s why she wants them an abortion.  She wants them OUT.

    “This legislation is about giving mothers as much information as possible in advance about this irrevocable, life-altering decision. We must do all we can to ensure every woman has all the facts so she can make the most informed decision possible,” said Billy, R-Purcell.

     

    “One of the most important roles of government is to protect those who cannot protect themselves,” said House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa. “This bill protects Oklahoma mothers from making a decision they may later regret.”

    http://www.okhouse.gov/OkhouseMedia/ShowStory.aspx?MediaNewsID=3461

    Oklahoma mothers?  Is this guy channeling Paul?

     

    ALL decisions are irrevocable and life-altering, so maybe there are a few more places where we need “all the facts” to protect us from our own impulses and ignorance.

     

    I wish they’d pass laws to mandate warning messages from the clerk at McDonald’s who would have to tell you the calorie count of your entire order, the guy at the liquor store who would have to tell you the percentage of people your age who become alcoholics, the guy at the Quickie Mart to make us understand buying into ths Oklahoma State Powerball is really stupid because it’s just a hidden tax, the used car salesman who would have to read you the warranty that expires after you drive 2 miles, and the credit card offerer, who would have to give you the REAL skinny on how your interest rate will zoom for the stratosphere and ruin your financial future — since, after all, the average citizen needs to be protected from REGRET about their decisions.

     

    Of course, actually what the guy is saying is that women aren’t SUPPOSED to be making ANY decisions.  Everybody knows that women just aren’t any good at that.

  • paul-bradford

    Oklahoma mothers? Is this guy channeling Paul?

     

    crowepps,

     

    There’s not a lot of evidence that an alarmingly high percentage of women procuring abortions regret them later.  Even among those women who do regret their decisions there’s no evidence that viewing an ultrasound would have changed anyone’s mind.  Perhaps you may think I’m unsensitive or unkind but I have never been particularly concerned about the issue of women regretting the decisions that they had every right to make in the first place (have you ever considerd the problem of women who have children and then regret that they didn’t have an abortion?)

     

    Almost universally, women who choose abortion do so because they have determined that abortion would be best for them.  I, for one, can’t imagine who would be in a better position to determine what’s best for them.

     

    My point has always been that abortion is never in the best interest of the child.  That is easy for anyone, man or woman, to figure out.  We live in a society that cares a great deal about some people, somewhat less for other people, and nothing at all for some.  Getting yourself to care about everyone requires a different quality than intelligence.

    • crowepps

      My point has always been that abortion is never in the best interest of the child. That is easy for anyone, man or woman, to figure out.

      Well, no, it isn’t true. If the fetus is grossly malformed, the further along it is in development before it is removed, the more pain it will feel. It’s my understanding that fetuses exhibit signs of stress during that birth that give evidence birth itself is painful. Faced with its inevitable death, its parents may decide its best interests are served by an abortion before it is capable of perceiving pain.

       

      I remember reading The Black Book many years ago, and feeling deep sadness at the stories of various women who were caught while attempting to flee slavery with their children, who when cornered and convinced they were unable to escape, strangled their children with their bare hands. The situation of living in slavery was so intolerable to them that they felt their children were better off dead than returned to it. Did this make them ‘evil’? I really don’t think so.

    • bj-survivor

      My point has always been that abortion is never in the best interest of the child. That is easy for anyone, man or woman, to figure out.

      You conjecture that every human being would choose mere existence regardless of how horrific it might very well turn out to be or how much of a burden their creation/rearing might be to their mothers. You may be that much of a megalomaniacal narcissist, but I assure you that I and many others are not. My life is a gift that my mother gave me, the seed for which was created by the union of my parents’ gametes. ‘Twas my mother’s body which built mine molecule by molecule, at considerable physiologic expense and with permanent disfigurement to her (pretty minor, in my mother’s case, but present nonetheless). My father contributed one cell and, while this was crucial to beginning the process, it is certainly not worthy of the aggrandizement mandatory motherhood proponents assign to it. Should my mother have been anything less than welcoming and joyous at the reality of my imminent creation and the many years of hard work thereafter, I would rather that I not ever have been born. Yes, I would rather that my creation process had been terminated rather then be born a burden to my mother or my family.

      I would rather my mother had aborted me than live the short and brutal life of Lisa Steinberg or any of the poor, helpless children summarized here and each and every day in newspapers and newscasts across the land.

      Can you honestly say that it was in Susan Smith’s or Andrea Yates’ childrens’ best interest to be created by them? Can you honestly say that it was in Lisa Steinberg’s best interest to be created and then given up for adoption to the monsters who tortured and killed her?

      As I see it, it is in no one’s best interest to force/coerce unwilling women to create unwanted children. Such a thing is cruel and quite contrary to the ideas of liberty, beneficience, and utility.

  • prochoicegoth

    There’s not a lot of evidence that an alarmingly high percentage of women procuring abortions regret them later.

    Do you have proof of this from the APA or another medical journal? And so what? People regret choices everyday. Doesn’t make said choices wrong.

    My point has always been that abortion is never in the best interest of the child.

    What child? Children are born humans, while a fetus or embryo is not. Abortions involve embryos/feoti. And in many cases, abortion IS in the best interest of the embryo/fetus.

  • paul-bradford

    Do you have proof of this from the APA or another medical journal?

     

    My point, Goth, was that the legislators in Oklahoma are taking the stand that they can protect a lot of women from the pain of regretting an abortion decision.  I don’t think that forcing women to view an ultrasound will protect them from anything.  I don’t think it will protect the unborn either.  I think it’s a stupid piece of legislation.  Were I a legislator in Oklahoma I would vote against the bill.

     

    Do I have proof that the percentage of women who end up regretting their decision to abort is low?  I wish I did.  Perhaps it is your opinion that the percentage is high.  I would be delighted if you could give me evidence to support that claim.  It would probably cause me to view the bill more favorably.  Of course, if you were to demonstrate to me that a high percentage of women regret aborting I would be terribly surprised.  In fact I would be shocked.

  • colleen

    the legislators in Oklahoma are taking the stand that they can protect a lot of women from the pain of regretting an abortion decision.

    their interest is in ‘protecting’ women I’ve a couple of bridges I want to sell you.

    • paul-bradford

      colleen,

       

      You’re not the first person to suggest that I’m naive.  What I know, and what I bring up again and again, is that the Pro-Life movement consistently does things that raise the abortion rate and rarely does anything that actually protects the unborn.  I tend to believe that this is because they’re a bunch of bumbling idiots who would be happy if someone (me?) showed them what they could do that would actually lower the abortion rate and protect the unborn.  (I’m not going to repeat my list of policy suggestions right now.)

       

      You’re far more cynical than I am.  Your idea is that people such as the Oklahoma legislators don’t give a crap about young children and are only using the “Pro-Life” brand as a smokescreen.  You haven’t convinced me, but I’m trying to keep an open mind to the thought that you’re on to something.

       

      You upset me, though, when you suggest that I don’t give a crap about young children and only use the “Pro-Life” brand as a smokescreen to make women’s lives harder.  If that were true, why would I say things like, “You can’t be good to the unborn unless, first of all, you are good to their mothers.”  In fact, I challenge you to name one single policy or law or bill or strategy I’ve supported that would make women’s lives harder.

  • prochoicegoth

    I didn’t see the “NOT” in your sentence. That’s what happens when you spend a few hours playing Dragon Age:Origins on XBOX360.

  • paul-bradford

    The situation of living in slavery was so intolerable to them that they felt their children were better off dead than returned to it. Did this make them ‘evil’? I really don’t think so.

     

    crowepps,

     

    OK, OK, you’ve convinced me!  There very well may be situations where mothers elected to abort their children because they had come to the conclusion that the child’s life would be one of unending suffering.  And, like you, I would be loathe to call such women ‘evil’.

     

    I said, “abortion is never in the best interest of the child.”  You obviously have a background in law because, instead of seeing that comment for what it was, you decided to be a stickler about the word ‘never’.  Very well, for your sake I will amend the statement.  “In virtually every situation where a mother decides to abort, she’s thinking about what’s in her best interest rather than what’s in the best interest of the child.”

     

    Feel better?

  • prochoicegoth

    “In virtually every situation where a mother decides to abort, she’s thinking about what’s in her best interest rather than what’s in the best interest of the child.”

    And you know this how? Have you spoken to women who have aborted? Have you asked them why they chose not to carry their pregnancies to term? Something tells me you have not. I have spoken to women who aborted and their reasons were that they KNEW that the resulting child would suffer if they carried to term. They had not the resources, nor the mentality to be a good mother at that point in time. They spared those potential children a life of possible resentment, neglect and poverty.

    Paul, just when I thought you MIGHT be a decent human being, you pull this….very disappointing.

  • crowepps

     I tend to believe that this is because they’re a bunch of bumbling idiots who would be happy if someone (me?) showed them what they could do that would actually lower the abortion rate and protect the unborn.  

    Now that really IS naive.  Your assumption is that if everything else stayed the same and abortion evaporated tomorrow, they would be content.  That does not seem to be the case, because as their own words testify over and over and over, what they really want is to end ‘women’s liberation’, and if you take them seriously enough to believe that they actually mean what they say, they want women back under the control of men.

     

    Consider this statement:

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

    Janice Crouse, Concerned Women For America
    http://gothamist.com/2006/06/16/michelle_goldbe_1.php

     

    To me what this says is that even if “women’s ultimate weapon” is removed from them, that will not satisfy them because they want to win the battle over “power, of having the power to call the shots.”  They want to take away abortion first, but then they will also go after every other weapon that women use to “escape”.

  • crowepps

     If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

     

    Your assumption that it’s okay to encourage her to do something that is NOT in her own best interest, and that if doing so makes her miserable that her misery isn’t going to spread so that it also affects the child adversely, seems unwarranted.  There isn’t anything about completing pregnancy and going through labor that causes a miraculous transformation of the woman’s psyche.  If she makes a best judgment that she’s going to loathe giving up everthing else and being ‘stuck with’ a kid she didn’t want, and that the child will lead a miserable existence, she’s probably right.

  • paul-bradford

    They spared those potential children a life of possible resentment, neglect and poverty.


    Goth,

     

    The only way your comment makes any sense at all is by putting the word ‘potential’ in the sentence.  I would agree with you that couples who are in a poor situation to become parents, and who are successful with contraception or who avoid sex altogether are protecting potential children from resentment, neglect and poverty.  This is, of course, very good and both of us, I’m sure, applaud such couples for being responsible.

     

    What doesn’t make sense to an ‘indecent’ human being such as myself is pretending that children who have already been conceived are still ‘potential’ children and ‘sparing’ such living children from the resentment of neglect and poverty by ending their lives.

     

    We agree, I hope you see, that there are a lot of kids out there whose parents had no business conceiving a child.  These kids are at a severe disadvantage for sure.  Are you seriously going to try and convince me that it’s an advantage for disadvantaged people to die?  We both know that some people are so miserable that they opt to commit suicide, but even these poor souls get to decide for themselves.  Can you imagine having somebody else decide for you that your life is too miserable to be lived?

     

    “If you lived long enough to decide about these things you’ll wish you were never born — so we’ll spare you having to make the decision.”  Is that what I’d believe if I were decent?

  • prochoicegoth

    DO NOT put words in my mouth Paul. I NEVER said that it’s an advantage for the disadvantaged to die. We are discussing abortion, NOT suicidal individuals nor disadvantaged individuals. Who the hell are you to say that a woman shouldn’t be able to judge whether or not she will be able to be a good mum, and upon that judgment decide whether or not to carry to term? You don’t know her situation, nor have you walked in her shoes. She knows what is best for that embryo or fetus, no one else.

     

    I’m starting to regret attempting to converse with you.

    • paul-bradford

      Who the hell are you to say that a woman shouldn’t be able to judge whether or not she will be able to be a good mum, and upon that judgment decide whether or not to carry to term?


      Goth,

       

      I’m not looking for a fight.  I’m looking for a conversation.

       

      Some mothers are much better than others and a lot of women have a pretty good idea, ahead of time, whether or not they’re going to be good at the job.  It’s far more likely that a woman will deceive herself into thinking she’ll be a better Mom than she actually can be than it is that a potentially good mother will underestimate her own capacities.  So, even though I’m not as confident as you are that every pregnant woman is a good judge of her own mothering ability, I pretty much agree that those women who predict that they will be poor mothers actually will be poor mothers.  I do not doubt for a moment that the women in this group are almost always right when they assert that abortion will be the best choice for them.

       

      Who the hell am I to say?  I happen to think that a child needs far more than a ‘good mum’ in order to reach adulthood in good shape.  I happen to think that it’s an advantage for children that other people, besides their mothers, take an interest in their well being.  I do not take the attitude that, “It’s her kid, she can do whatever she thinks is best.”  I want to live in a society where parents are held accountable for what they do.  I don’t think that mothers (or fathers, for that matter) “own” their children and ought to be made immune from other people’s concern.

       

      I’d be interested in hearing your response to my belief that our reproductive capacities are not for our own benefit.  They’re for the benefit of others.

  • colleen

    You’re far more cynical than I am.Your idea is that people such as the Oklahoma legislators don’t give a crap about young children and are only using the “Pro-Life” brand as a smokescreen.

    And once again you’re not listening. I commented on your own profoundly sexist and slightly nauseating statement. Specifically, the peculiar notion that these legislators were motivated by a desire to “protect women” with this law. If you believe that that was the motivation of those corrupt yahoos I do indeed have a couple of bridges to sell you.

  • crowepps

    What doesn’t make sense to an ‘indecent’ human being such as myself is pretending that children who have already been conceived are still ‘potential’ children and ‘sparing’ such living children from the resentment of neglect and poverty by ending their lives.

    Sorry, Paul, we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. A four week or eight week fetus is still a ‘potential’ child to me. There isn’t any ‘pretence’ involved – the woman’s can choose not to further invest in the pregnancy and no ‘child’ results. Certainly her living in poverty already makes it pretty clear where things are headed, and if she chooses not to make her own situation worse and at the same time inflict that on someone else, that’s her option.

     

    The fact that you would choose ‘disadvantage’ for the child and the mother both and ‘resentment’ for the child on the premise that any life, no matter how miserable, is better than none, may be a reflection of the fact that never having experienced either disadvantage or resentment, you underestimate just how intolerable it can be.

  • crowepps

    “CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.”   Ambrose Bierce

  • crowepps

     I NEVER said that it’s an advantage for the disadvantaged to die.

    No, you didn’t say that, but isn’t it startling how often they indeed do so?  From dumping toxic waste into their water to allow their neighbors to shoot them to tolerating the unihabitable buildings for which they pay rent to giving them insufficient food on which to survive to withholding medical care to allowing the cops to shoot them when they are uppity to the deporable educations that are the only thing available to them, there are enormous efforts to ignore the fact that their disadvantage comes from the situation into which they are born and which they are powerless to escape.

     

    Apparently killing them through abortion is ‘immoral’ but there’s no problem with allowing them to die through neglect.  The IMPORTANT thing is to not raise taxes!!

    • paul-bradford

      Apparently killing them through abortion is ‘immoral’ but there’s no problem with allowing them to die through neglect. The IMPORTANT thing is to not raise taxes!!

       

      crowepps,

       

      Your post demonstrates the folly of trying to be conservative and Pro-Life at the same time.

  • ch

    “What doesn’t make sense . . . is pretending that children who have already been conceived are still ‘potential’ children and ‘sparing’ such living children from the resentment of neglect and poverty by ending their lives.”

     

    This is when it becomes hard to take you the least bit seriously.  I became pregnant when my daughter was 2 years old in 1994.  Today, in 2010, I have only one child.  Because I miscarried.  Does that fully explain potential for you?  The inability to even take arguments to the most logical conclusion is astounding.  I mean really astounding.  Until you give birth to a LIVE baby, it is a potential life.  And since things can and do go wrong right up until the moment of actual birth, it is nonsensical to assign rights to potential people.  It is especially asinine to remove an actual person’s rights in favor of a potential person.  Do you really not see that?

     

    This bill, and others like it, are an utter waste of money because as a person with over 20 years worth of experience with abortion, I can categoricallly tell you that ultrasounds have been a standard industry-wide practice since the ’80s before the actual performance of an abortion.  Therefore, it does NOT stand to reason that enacting legislation, mandating a procedure that is already an industry standard, and then attempting to force women to view (when they have had the option all along) is a sound and logical reason to “save” women from their decisions.  These politicians use useless legislation to make anti-choicers really believe they are “DOING SOMETHING.”

     

    Given that women, at this point in time, are legally and financially obligated to care for the children they have and, according to you “pro-lifers,” morally obligated to care for the children they have, how dare you, or anyone else, question any woman who decides that she cannot make that commitment.  True pro-lifers who actually cared about a “culture of life” would support policies that make it possible for every single child to be cared for by their parents without having to worry about the basics.  You know, food, shelter, medical care, etc.  A real “culture of life” would support universal healthcare, cessation of armed conflict to resolve differences, and free, quality public education accessible to all.  And for the most part, none of you do.  You operate from a base that a “consequence” of sex (for women only!) is the pain and misery of childbirth and the consequent sacrifice involved in raising said child.  Because you, and others, absolutely do paint motherhood if not achieved in compliance of your weird little rules, as a punishment.  Cause actively picking a punishments and negative outcomes is what women do for shits and giggles. 

     

    And I am willing to even go here:  if a true “culture of life” really, really existed, adoption would be the rarest thing ever, something done only in circumstances of no other choice, no other family members, nothing.  Because a real “culture of life” would mean that no parents would ever give up their children because they could not care for them.  So go work on that and stop coming here with your tired rhetoric of “respect for the unborn” and your disingenious assertions that women JUST DON’T GET IT.  Women get it, that’s why women have abortions when they KNOW they just cannot do it.  Go worry about those that are here, the ones that ARE in extremis, the ones that ARE hungry, sick, uneducated, and oppressed.  Once you people ensure that every child in this country and the rest of the world have food to eat, access to medical care and at least basic education and stop blowing each other up, I’ll believe that you have women’s interests at heart because at the end of the day when EVERY child is a wanted child and will be cared for, we will truly begun to have embraced what you anti-choicers claim they want, respect for life and those pesky little “potentials” that apparently gets you so riled up.

     

     

       

     

  • bj-survivor

    Pro-lie panty-sniffing is just…absurd. Apparently, to be more “fully human” in Paul’s eyes, I, as a fertile, sexually active woman should be holding funerals and mourning over my tampons every month. ‘Cause, given that no contraceptive is 100% effective, not even tubal ligation, there could very well be a “very young human” tragically flushed out of my uterus and now laid to rest within one of the clots on my Kotex. Oh my murderous womb! How ever shall I live with myself knowing that I may have inadvertently destroyed those precious very young humans! *clutches pearls*

  • bj-survivor

    I am well aware that forced-birthers believe that there is a full-fledged person with special rights to commandeer women’s bodies at the moment of sperm magic fertilization that no other person has, and they are certainly entitled to that opinion. What they are not entitled to do is codify that misogynistic, undeservedly male-aggrandizing opinion into law or moral policy (as you, Paul, would have it). Besides that, the fact of the matter, the truth of it, is that they (and you) are dead wrong on this. A ZBEF is no more an actual child than an acorn is an oak tree. Both are merely potentials. It takes a whole heck of a lot more creating by women’s bodies, at considerable physiologic expense, discomfort, pain and permanent bodily damage to complete the creation of that child and birth it. A process that forced-birthers somehow either ignore or trivialize as mere “inconvenience.”

  • bj-survivor

    and everthing else is OPTIONAL. Or as George Carlin used to say, “if you’re pre-born, you’re fine. If you’re preschool, you’re fucked!;”

  • crowepps

    I want to live in a society where parents are held accountable for what they do.

    While we’re waiting around for everyone to reach a conclusion on how that would be a good idea, could we please start enforcing the laws that are SUPPOSED to hold accountable politicians, businessmen, bankers, stockbrokers, manufacturers, bosses, landlords, plumbers, educators, etc.?

    our reproductive capacities are not for our own benefit. They’re for the benefit of others.

    This is just silly. People have children because THEY want to have children. They are extremely fussy about making sure that their children are indoctrinated in the ‘family’ value system, religion and prejudices and trained in the behavior the parents personally find pleasing in children. Children who don’t cooperate by performing as required have it made clear to them that they are substandard, and those who dare after growing up to reject any of their parents ‘values’ are hounded unmercilessly to buckle under and shunned if they do not.

     

    People who have children that were unwanted neglect them or torment them in subtle ways while adhering to a standard of care of doing the absolute minimum that they can get away with to avoid having the neighbors call and report them to Children’s Protection.

     

    It hasn’t been my experience that parenting is a pure and altruistic giving of benefit to others. It’s far more common for people to use their reproductive systems selfishly as a source of pleasure with children an unwanted byproduct or as another manifestation of their narcissism.

  • bj-survivor

    I’d be interested in hearing your response to my belief that our reproductive capacities are not for our own benefit. They’re for the benefit of others.

    The fact that the brunt of this belief falls entirely upon women should not be lost upon you, so I can only conclude that you believe that women’s bodies are public property.

    My body, my reproductive capacity does not belong to the government, nor to some sadistic sky daddy, nor to some celibate man in a dress who lives in a gilded castle. I assure you that my reproductive capacity is for my benefit and my benefit alone, just as any man’s is.

    Now, should an individual choose to live their life by this belief, they have my blessing as a liberal, pro-choice individual. My only requirement is that they keep this beliefs out of this country’s secular laws.

  • prochoicegoth

    our reproductive capacities are not for our own benefit. They’re for the benefit of others.

    Um, what? My ability to POSSIBLY carry a pregnancy to term is for the benefit of total strangers? Are you on drugs? If I CHOOSE to carry a pregnancy to term, it’s because *I*, not you or any other oddball stranger, want to do it. It’s because *I* want to be a mother. Putting my body through permanent changes, going through painful labor and delivery is for the benefits of other people, HOW?

  • emma

    I happen to think that it’s an advantage for children that other people, besides their mothers, take an interest in their well being.

    Do you honestly not see why this becomes extremely problematic when you extend the definition of ‘child’ to a zygote or a foetus? The reason it’s problematic is that zygotes and foetuses happened to be inconveniently located inside people’s – women’s – bodies, and there is no way for ‘society’ to take an interest in the wellbeing of foetuses and zygotes and so forth without taking an interest in women’s bodies. Do you really, seriously not understand why this is inappropriately intrusive? It implies that women are public property. It implies that we are not actual people whose right to not have people obsessing over what’s going on in our bodies is actually, like, important.

     

    There’s also the fact that there’s no need to ‘pretend’ that a zygote isn’t an actual person; it’s the belief that personhood can be reduced to the fusion of two haploid cells that requires delusionality and a fair bit of magical thinking.

     

    Speaking of that, you’ve never really given an adequate explanation of why conception is so cosmically significant. It’s all revolved around ‘you’re afraid of love!/they have human DNA!/we were once zygotes!”, and so on and so forth. I’m utterly unpersuaded that a human zygote matters any more than a dustmite, and I’m also not interested in witnessing you bursting into song in response to that question.

     

    It’s nice that you don’t advocate legal coercion, although less nice that this is because you don’t think it benefits foetuses, not because women’s privacy is actually something that’s worth protecting in and of itself. My impression, however, is that in your ideal world, coercion wouldn’t be necessary because women would prioritise zygotes and foetuses above all else and would want other people endlessly contemplating the contents of our uteruses. We just don’t understand that this is what we should want. It is actually worrying, I think, that you really do not seem to be able to comprehend how problematic that is.

     

    I once thought you were a decent guy, Paul, and generally, I don’t want to think badly of people. I’ve come to the conclusion, though, that your beliefs are just as insidious as those of the crazed fundamentalists who advocate governmental coercion. What you’re advocating is that, ideally, women would value foetuses above our own interests, privacy, health and wellbeing, and would adjust our behaviour accordingly. Every sexually active woman would want to be conscious at every second of every day that we could possibly be pregnant, and we would want our lives and behaviour to revolve around that possibility. Am I correct?

     

    It is just not. going. to. happen. Nor should it. The reason so many of us* keep saying that the idea that a zygote is a person is (a) ridiculous; and (b) untenable is that it is both of those things. There is no way to live as if zygotes are people just like two-year-olds without women’s lives becoming subsumed by our reproductive systems. For a lot of us, that just isn’t worth it. A life dominated by endless foetocentricity would not be worth living, and the likelihood that you are going to talk significant numbers of women into believing otherwise is extremely minimal. There’s a reason for that, and if you can’t figure out that reason, then you’re pretty much a lost cause.

     

    *We are a lot more generous about the zygotes as teeny tiny ‘very young people’ thing than most, I think. Most would, I suspect, view it as too silly to engage with, and quite reasonably so.

  • paul-bradford

    The fact that the brunt of this belief falls entirely upon women should not be lost upon you

     

    BJ,

     

    I must not have made myself clear because it seems that you didn’t understand what I meant when I said our reproductive capacities are for the benefit of others.  This applies equally to men and women.  I draw three conclusions from my belief:

    1) Both women and men have a responsibility, if they decide to engage in heterosexual coitus, to develop a workable plan with their partners for the care of any children that might result from their intimacies.  I would expect, and encourage women to insist on a plan that is fair and doesn’t put all of the burden of child care on them.

    2) When a man decides to be a father, or a woman decides to be a mother it is not enough simply that you want to have a child.  It’s far more important that you be prepared to be the kind of person a child would want for a parent.  You’re responsible both to the child and to the society to provide a good childhood to your offspring.

    3) The society has a right, and a duty to regulate reproduction.  We’re all going to come around to believing this as population pressures mount.   Men have an interest in reproduction.  Women have an interest in reproduction.  But most of all, the society has an interest in reproduction.  To act as if everyone can make any reproductive decision s/he wants to make is to invite chaos.

     

    Feel free, of course, to propose a different point of view; but don’t keep believing that ‘responsibility to others’ is a burden that women bear alone.

  • paul-bradford

    Putting my body through permanent changes, going through painful labor and delivery is for the benefits of other people, HOW?

     

    Goth,

     

    The endurance of pregnancy and childbirth is the only way a woman can become a mother, and if a woman wishes to become a (biological) mother these ‘reproductive capacities’ need to be employed.  None of this, of course, would be possible without employing the reproductive capacities of her partner.  Pregnancy and childbirth are required for a man to become a father.  This is obviously something that is important to men, something that benefits men, and men need to do two things: 1) take responsibility for where their sperm go and 2) figure out a way to get a woman to willingly become the mother of his child.  There are plenty of things in this world that we want and need and require the assistance of others to get.  Reproduction is one of those things.

     

    Furthermore, pregnancy and childbirth are an essential need of the society.  When you bring another person into the world you’re giving great benefit to the society — or, depending upon what kind of parent you’re going to be, doing great harm to the society.

     

    Most of all, though, pregnancy and childbirth are a benefit to the fetus who’s being carried who develops into the child being birthed.  None of us would be alive but for the fact that somebody else endured pregnancy and childbirth.  If you think it’s a benefit to be alive then you must also think that somebody else’s reproductive capacities were used for your benefit.

  • colleen

    Who the hell am I to say?

    See the problem with this is that people have very different ideas about what a ‘child’ is and what is good for the children they are responsible for. You claim that zygotes are ‘children’ and that this belief stems from your superior morality. I believe that this notion is a bit of Catholic doctrine and was invented in order to punish and control women. I do not believe that it is a belief grounded in a concern for the welfare of children but, rather, is the invention of men whose notion of ‘love’ and ‘compassion’ is fundamentally twisted and sick.

    Likewise, I would never allow a young child I was responsible for to be influenced by anyone in the religious right (and I most certainly include Catholicism in this category) because I know from experience the damage that can do to a child’s emotional development.(indeed I would say that one has only to read the RR folks who post here for evidence of that claim) and yet much of the theoretical ‘interest’ in a child’s well being you seem determined to shove down our throats is directly tied to all of us conforming to some of the very worst and most objectionable aspects of Catholic doctrine.

  • crowepps

     I believe that this notion is a bit of Catholic doctrine and was invented in order to punish and control women.

     

    I don’t think this doctrine was invented in order to punish and control women.  I believe this doctrine is a logical outcome of two beliefs, the first that “only the soul matters” and the second that souls are doomed without baptism, which can only be done after birth.

     

    Certainly Catholic doctrine, taken to its extreme, historically punished and controlled MEN just as much as it did women.  The belief that kings and the aristrocracy and priests were “divinely appointed” to rule others, and that any pain or suffering they caused to their “inferiors” was unimportant because “only the soul mattered” and that the impulse to protest abuses was “evil” or “satanic” because it threatened the god-ordained heirarchal structure, left 99% of the Christian population groveling in the dirt while they were told that they should appreciate the opportunity to “offer their pain up to God”.

     

    As medicine advanced and the awareness that a pregnancy exists was nudged gradually earlier and earlier, to the point that now science can identify when a ripe egg is released, eggs which until quite recently no one even was aware existed, the assumptions about when the “soul” is created were also gradually moved earlier and earlier.  In early medieval times it was believed the “soul” entered the child with its first breath, and that stillborn children were stillborn because they didn’t receive one in the first place.  Then the soul was purported to arrive at quickening.  Some people nowadays insist that this magical moment is connected to the act of fertilization.

     

    If you start from the premise that “original sin” damns all humanity to eternal torment, further that baptism, a magical act by humans, is necessary to escape that damnation, and then add on the soul being created at fertilization, then any choice other than attempting in every way possible to get that fertilized egg to baptism is intolerable.

     

    The primary purpose of baptism was to wash away original sin and drive all evil from the newborn child. So important was this sacrament to the Catholic Church that the usual opposition to women performing sacerdotal duties was overcome for fear an infant might die unbaptized. Midwives were authorized to perform the rite if the child was unlikely to survive and there was no man nearby to do it. If the mother died in childbirth, the midwife was supposed to cut her open and extract the baby so that she could baptize it.

    http://historymedren.about.com/od/medievalchildren/a/child_entry_2.htm

     

    Of course, the very idea of a soul separate from the body/brain and capable of surviving death may be entirely delusional, but once that idea has been accepted, together with original sin and baptism, then it isn’t just that voluntary abortion stops the life of a body short, it ALSO dooms the soul attached to that life to eternal torment.

     

    On other boards, I have had people seriously argue exactly that point, and further that any pregnancy which is MISCARRIED results in exactly that.

    “The roads to hell are paved with the skulls of unbaptized infants.”  Jonathan Edwards “widely acknowledged to be America’s most important and original philosophical theologian”

    It’s a dark theology proceeding from a belief in a sadistic and thoroughly nasty supreme being, but then the Bible can be used to substantiate exactly that, if that’s the way a person’s mind is inclined in the first place.

  • crowepps

    The endurance of pregnancy and childbirth is the only way a woman can become a mother, and if a woman wishes to become a (biological) mother these ‘reproductive capacities’ need to be employed.

    This is true, and of course many, many women do indeed wish to become biological mothers.  Those who do not control their ‘reproductive capacities’ by using birth control or by having abortions.

     

    However, since lots of women want to have children and voluntarily complete pregnancies to have children, some of them women who have in the past had or will in the future have abortions, the idea that those same women should be prevented from terminating a minority of their pregnancies has to rest on something else besides the fact that children are a “great benefit to the society”.

     

    The pregnancies which are completed already provide an overabundance of children, far more than the number for which society as a whole seems to be able to provide decent lives.

     

    This is obviously something that is important to men, something that benefits men, and men need to do two things: 1) take responsibility for where their sperm go and 2) figure out a way to get a woman to willingly become the mother of his child.

    It’s interesting you would make this statement, since obviously one of the motivators behind SOME ProLife organizations is the knowledge that their concept of the duties of fatherhood and motherhood is so inherently unfair, so lopsided in its delegation of duties, that the only way they can ensure themselves progeny is to force women to have their children.  It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them that if they hadn’t confused matrimony and motherhood with slavery, women would more willingly become mothers.

  • crowepps

    I would expect, and encourage women to insist on a plan that is fair and doesn’t put all of the burden of child care on them.

    I know several women who insisted “on a plan that is fair” and that didn’t “pull all of the burden of child care on them”, to which the men pleading with them to complete the pregnancy agreed in advance. After the birth, having gotten what they wanted, the men did not comply with their obligations in terms of money, time, emotional support, housework or direct care for the child.

     

    Just out of curiosity, Paul, exactly how do you believe such an agreement could possibly be enforced? Once the man breaks the agreement, just how are the women supposed to send the child back?

  • prochoicegoth

    It takes two to tango Paul. In other words, if a man wants to be a father, he needs to be with a woman who shares his desire. A woman IS NOT obligated to provide a selfish BOY with a child because he wants one ooooh so badly. Communication PRIOR to any sexual activity should be made.

     

    Pregnancy and childbirth affects the woman and her partner and are done for THEIR benefit. Society DOES NOT belong in that moment.

    Also, there are alternative ways to be a parent. I consider my fiance’s cats to be my kids, so in a way I’m a mother to them because I feed them, hold them, make sure they are healthy, ect. Being a mother doesn’t always require pregnancy or birth, or even human entities.

  • angelbuns

    The reason that this is occurring is pretty simple. The idea is that if a woman is forced to view or listen to a description of her ultrasound she will be overcome with the realization that she’s got a living being growing inside of her and she will not want to terminate because apparently along with this realization also comes the sudden maternal instinct smacking her in her face. If this doesn’t happen, then obviously she’s cold-blooded and is worthy of scorn and contempt.

     

    Truthfully, some women might change their minds if they had to view an ultrasound or listen to a description or both. Just like for years it was not allowed for a woman to hold her child if she had decided, before giving birth, that she would give it up for adoption. The idea was that she would bond with the baby and not want to give it up. When my mother had a miscarriage, they wouldn’t let her even know the gender of the baby, let alone let her see it or hold it. For some women, this really may be an issue.

     

    But, not for all mothers. And, whether it would or not is a moot point. Nobody ought to be allowed to force a woman to do anything she does not want to do. There is no reason why a woman should be legally forced to look at an ultrasound or to hear a description of one in hopes that it will cause her to change her mind. This is rubbish.

     

    It doesn’t surprise me, given the OK Legislature’s track record, that they are trying to get another unconstitutional bill passed, regardless of how many they’ve already had overturned, and regardless of admonishments from the Supreme Court. I don’t see how this is stunning or astounding at all, because they’ve already demonstrated that they don’t CARE what the Supreme Court or the OK citizens have to say, they want their own way and they’re going to have it even if that means continuing this sort of thing until people get tired of fighting them on it or they somehow manage to find a successful loophole in the law.

  • princess-rot

    Really, you could trace all of that back to the days of appeasing blood gods with human sacrafices. The theology just got nastier and more complex as time went on, but it always basically boils down to sex, violence, and fear of death, the three ultimate human obsessions.

     

    Incidentally, I had forgotten about that nice little piece of Christian doctrine until I reread Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy out of curiosity because I was playing Dante’s Inferno. Toddlers with knives for arms… shudder.

     

    “Let us descend now into the blind world,”
    Began the Poet, pallid utterly; “I will be first, and thou shalt second be.”
    [...]
    Thus he went in, and thus he made me enter. The foremost circle that surrounds the abyss.
    There, as it seemed to me from listening,
    Were lamentations none, but only sighs,
    That tremble made the everlasting air.
    And this arose from sorrow without torment,
    Which the crowds had, that many were and great,
    Of infants and of women and of men.

     

    To me the Master good: “Thou dost not ask
    What spirits these, which thou beholdest, are?
    Now will I have thee know, ere thou go farther,
    That they sinned not; and if they merit had,
    ‘Tis not enough, because they had not baptism
    Which is the portal of the Faith thou holdest;

    And if they were before Christianity,
    In the right manner they adored not God;
    And among such as these am I myself.
    For such defects, and not for other guilt,
    Lost are we and are only so far punished,
    That without hope we live on in desire.”

  • paul-bradford

    I know several women who insisted “on a plan that is fair” and that didn’t “pull all of the burden of child care on them”, to which the men pleading with them to complete the pregnancy agreed in advance. After the birth, having gotten what they wanted, the men did not comply with their obligations in terms of money, time, emotional support, housework or direct care for the child.


    crowepps,

     

    I’d be interested to know whether these discussions took place after the couple learned there was a baby on the way, or before the couple had sex.  More to the point, did the lying SOB make these promises so that she’d agree to get busy with him or did he make these promises so that she’d agree not to go for an abortion?

     

    Of course, your question isn’t really about whether couples should make childcare plans before deciding to have sex, it’s about whether people can trust their partners to be truthful and honorable.  As you know, I support strengthening our laws to require equitable paternal support.  I also support the idea of expanding one’s criterion for selecting a sex partner to include more than hunkyness or bodaciousness.  That makes more sense to me than trying to find a way for a mother to send her six month old back.

  • bj-survivor

    I apologize for not replying right away, but I work full-time 12-hour night shifts and I’m a university student and on those days all I do is eat, sleep, work.

    1) Both women and men have a responsibility, if they decide to engage in heterosexual coitus, to develop a workable plan with their partners for the care of any children that might result from their intimacies. I would expect, and encourage women to insist on a plan that is fair and doesn’t put all of the burden of child care on them.

    Ideally, men and women would discuss the issue of what to do about an unplanned pregnancy before initiating coitus, but how on earth would you legislate such a policy? I’ve been doing this from day 1 of my sexual debut. I told potential lovers that I would terminate any pregnancy that managed to take hold despite our precautions. If they were not okay with that, I would have broken it off then and there. I would never have casual sex or a relationship with a forced birther. And, no, a child is not created the instant daddy ejaculates and his little wiggler hits the jackpot.

    Many women I know who were married to the men who fathered their children were left holding the bag, so to speak, when the marriages went sour. The men either paid very little or no child support (this despite laws and increased enforcement of child support payments by state governments) nor did they even bother to visit their children much and when they did, the kids were typically shuttled off to the grandparents or foisted off on the new girlfriend. If a man decides he doesn’t want to provide financial support for his children, he will find a way to get out of it. The same is also true of women who are ordered to pay child support. And even in situations where the man helps with childrearing and housework, the arrangement is so rarely 50/50 as to be nonexistent.

    2) When a man decides to be a father, or a woman decides to be a mother it is not enough simply that you want to have a child. It’s far more important that you be prepared to be the kind of person a child would want for a parent. You’re responsible both to the child and to the society to provide a good childhood to your offspring.

    I could not agree more, which is why I fail to see either utility or beneficence in the idea of forcing/coercing unwilling women to create children. In my perfect world, children would be educated regarding child development, parenting, responsible sexuality, and life skills from kindergarten through university (in age-appropriate fashion, obviously). Part of those life skills would entail self-assessment for suitability and readiness to parent a child, along with education that it is perfectly okay to not have children. If more people elected to not create children if they should realize they are not suited to the realities and responsibilities of parenthood, we would likely see far less incidence of child abuse and neglect.

    I don’t believe it is appropriate to “be the kind of person a child would want for a parent.” Most children would say they want a parent who lets them stay up as late as they want, play video games, watch whatever they want on television, play hooky from school, and eat junk food. I believe it is important to be the kind of person who has the patience, willingness, time, and joy of children necessary to raise them to be well-adjusted, happy, and responsible adults. I know I do not possess these qualities, so I have self-selected myself out of the gene pool. I fail to comprehend forced-birther “logic” that acting upon one’s self-knowledge of inability to be a good parent is selfish, when it is actually thoughtful and considerate. I believe that it is the height of irresponsibility to create children that one doesn’t want or hasn’t the capability to properly care for. I would rather regret a choice (abortion/childfreedom) than regret or resent a child.

    3) The society has a right, and a duty to regulate reproduction. We’re all going to come around to believing this as population pressures mount. Men have an interest in reproduction. Women have an interest in reproduction. But most of all, the society has an interest in reproduction. To act as if everyone can make any reproductive decision s/he wants to make is to invite chaos.

    We’re certainly headed that way and if history is any indication, it will again be women who will bear the brunt of these policies. It would be far more effective to sterilize males upon attainment of adolescence, since few females rape men whereas many men force/coerce women into sex, but I don’t see this happening. Additionally, we have a loud, powerful contingent of loons like you who want to force/coerce women into creating children they either don’t want or cannot properly care for.

    This is truly one of the more incompatible locutions to your protestations that you love women and regard them as equal persons, second only to the idea that fertilized eggs are “children.” Cognitive dissonance for the win!

    Feel free, of course, to propose a different point of view; but don’t keep believing that ‘responsibility to others’ is a burden that women bear alone.

    Just because you believe that the burden is equal does not make it so. I will continue to believe this, because it is not only what I’ve witnessed empirically, but study after study bears this out. You can Google it or you can start here (The Third Shift: Employment, Housework, and Now Informal Healthcare).

  • crowepps

    Just because you believe that the burden is equal does not make it so.

    He didn’t actually say that the burden was equal, or even that it could be made equal, but instead just that people SHOULD come to an agreement on equally sharing the burden and having done so, should keep it.

     

    The problem that is impossible to overcome in discussing this with Paul is that he insists on talking about this issue as through it were a philosophy question and the rest of us tend to rebutt him with actual reality which he doesn’t want to discuss because that’s not the way things SHOULD be.

     

    He agrees that people are not particularly mindful about sex, but says they should be, he agrees that some of those zygotes are flawed from their creation, but says they shouldn’t be, agrees that miscarriages happen but says they shouldn’t, agrees that fetuses can be nonviable but argues that shouldn’t happen, acknowledges people neglect and abuse their children but insists society can somehow, at some later time, prevent that, and THEN wants us all to agree that IF humans acted entirely differently than they actually do about sex, and reproduction worked in an entirely different way than it is actually does, and if parents were different than they actually are, THEN can’t we all agree that abortion would THEN be just a terrible tragedy.

     

    His philosophical argument depends on so many ‘should’ hypotheticals (if only all those grey areas and confusing realities of humanity could be tidied up into black and white dichotomy sufficiently) that the ‘could’ he eventually reachs has no substance.  It is so speculative and depends on so much future scientific discovery that you might as well be discussing ‘what would be moral’ if science discovered a way to change human biology so that humans spawned like salmon.

     

    Discussing philosophy is a very enjoyable activity, because just so long as no one actually tests any of it in reality, all the members of the discussion can believe themselves absolutely brilliant.  At the point where obnoxious people keep bringing in actual inconvenient FACTS, however, the philosophers tend to get kind of testy.  After all, they are not talking about the messiness and dysfunctionality of actual people, they are talking about how things SHOULD be run among a perfected humanity.

    “The society which scorns excellence in Plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an
    exalted activity will have neither good Plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.” –
    John William Gardner 10/8/1912

  • princess-rot

    Since his philosophizing is almost entirely hypothetical, it is rendered meaningless speculating in a forum like this. The personal is inevitably political in discussions of reproductive rights, and you cannot simply wish that away. Human nature is, to put it bluntly, a huge effing mess, and it will get in the way. This outright denial of human fallibility – or the belief that people would be perfect according to some arbitary set of standards if slip-ups are visibly punished enough – is an outgrowth of the “magical thinking” phenomenon that seems to infect even the most intelligent of pro-lifers, and is one of the reasons why I gave up replying to Paul. It just irks me too much to have to keep explaining that women’s lived experiences are not binary. 

  • crowepps

    Happened to be rereading “Mapping Human History” and ran across this sentence:

    “The quest to identify these forces has long attracted scholars…many of whom have fallen prey to the desire for simple, concise explanations of exceedingly complex events.”  Steve Olson

    I think we see this demonstrated over and over in many controversies, but particularly in areas dealing with sexuality where the way people actually behave has a large disconnect with the way ‘society’ wants to BELIEVE they behave.  Lots of people are really vested in the idea that if we could just identify and understand the simple cause of ‘the problem’, then there would be a simple solution.