The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Don’t Ask, Don’t Care

December 9, 2005 | 60 Comments

“Being pro-choice,” cautions Debbie Nathan, “is a morality that takes you morally out of the picture.”

The words of a pro-life advocate decrying the abortion culture’s abandonment of any pretext of principle? In fact, Ms. Nathan is a proud volunteer for the Haven Coalition, an organization that provides overnight housing for women who flock to New York for elective, late second-trimester abortions. Its clients come from states lacking clinics capable of stomaching the procedure — and Ms. Nathan’s statement is a celebration of her own indifference to the practice, or more specifically, her ability to fully recognize it as evil without really caring.

The New York Magazine article which glorifies Ms. Nathan’s work with Haven spotlights her stint as hostess to “Adeena,” a Pennsylvania refugee who is is 24 years old and 24 weeks pregnant. Adeena has, in Nathan’sown words, a “disturbingly” large belly. Disturbing, as Nathan concedes, because “[l]ate-term abortion is serious, hard-core”:

This afternoon, sticks made of seaweed were inserted into her cervix, and a drug that causes fetal heart failure was injected into her belly. Now the seaweed is getting moist and swelling, and Adeena no longer feels movement in her womb. By tomorrow the swelling will have opened her cervix a few centimeters, allowing a doctor to extract the dead fetus with surgical tools and a vacuum machine.

Nothing about this procedure is so disturbing, serious or hardcore, however, that Haven’s helpers would ever consider discouraging Adeena from undergoing it. The volunteers understand that there are side effects and that “some complications go beyond the medical,” but Adeena’s state of mind, like their morality, is out of the picture. “I don’t know how much Adeena knows about these details,” confesses Nathan. Indeed, nothing about their clients’ circumstances seems to provoke enough curiosity for the simplest of inquiries. “Why did she wait so long? we all wonder. We never ask.

Don’t ask, don’t care. Never mind that sometimes after hosting a guest Nathan has “bad dreams about sick babies.” She simply reminds herself that “my dreams are just dreams, and that they’re less important than my guests’ realities.” But what are her guests’ realities? Don’t ask. At one point Adeena seems on the verge of volunteering her reasons — while watching a video about a girl who aborts to further her boyfriend’s basketball career only to discover that he decided to support the baby — “[b]ut the movie credits are rolling and she asks for lights out . . . I set the alarm, fluff the quilt, and tuck her in.” No need to know. To Nathan, all that matters is that in a few hours, Adeena will “be back on a bus to Philadelphia, free to do her thing, whatever that may be.

Unclear, too, is why Nathan’s dreams are “just dreams” and not “realities.” As Nathan admits, “[a]t 24 weeks, a fetus is at the same stage of development as those gruesome images shown on pro-lifers’ protest placards.” And one volunteer, Jennifer, reported that a client showed her a sonogram and pointed out that the fetus was a boy: “God! I didn’t know what to say.”

So just as they ask no questions, they have no answers. Occasionally, however, enough is learned about a case to be certain that there is no reason for the abortion. And so while Nathan frets that her “worst story is really no story at all” — she then showcases it as a triumph for choice for the sake of mere choice:

The first woman [Haven volunteer] Levine ever hosted was here having a late-term abortion because she had simply “put off” dealing with her pregnancy until it was almost too late. The delay certainly didn’t seem to be for financial reasons: “She had a late-model pickup truck that was better than my car,” remembers Levine, “and I wondered, Why am I the one paying for dinner?”

Levine rolled out the red carpet anyway. “I had to tell myself, ‘Every abortion is the choice of the woman having the abortion'”.

Judgment, nevertheless, is not withheld with respect to some of the clients’ lesser choices. “[S]ome Havenites insist that their guests eat ‘healthy’ food — fresh fish, for instance, or vegetarian.” And Nathan is “annoyed” at her guests’ “crude manners” at a cozy Dominican restaurant. A patient who wanted to go out dancing to 2 a.m. is condemned for “shocking obliviousness.” Silent on the ethics of the procedure that brought Adeena to her home, the bedtime issue makes Nathan “all chatty and gingerbready and just a little bossy. (Now, honey, no staying up too late. We’ve got to get up bright and early to go to the clinic tomorrow!)

Entitled “The New Underground Railroad,” the New York article lacks the courage to devote a single word to justifying the comparison with Miss Tubman’s enterprise. It does summon the effrontry to reframe the entire issue in terms of class. In aid of this cynical diversion we learn that “[m]ost Haven hosts are white, Jewish, well schooled, and political” while “most of the women helped by Haven are black and Latina, with GEDs or less, low literacy skills, and not much civic moxie.” The relevance of any of this to the moral question of abortion question is never explained. What’s important is that Nathan’s tastes run to Film Forum, Cuban bolero and Yiddish theater, so she finds Adeena’s aforementioned video selection, Coach Carter, to be as unsubtle as Adeena finds her hostess’s own CD collection to be “uncool.”

This conceit, which pervades the article, itself has all the subtlety of most Hollywood interracial buddy movies. As Nathan said of Coach Carter, “the plot is so thin it’s obvious they’ll all be hugging by the end.” At the clinic goodbye scene, Adeena thanks Nathan for making her feel “just like you was my moms.” The hugging is made easier than when they first met by the intervening extraction of swollen seaweed sticks and a dead fetus with surgical tools and a vacuum machine — details which, as noted, Nathan’s sense of noblesse oblige for some reason never compelled her to disclose.

Haven volunteer Katha Pollitt preciously ponders whether she is patronizing her charges by offering them People Magazine. “Maybe they’d rather read The Nicomachean Ethics,” she muses. The reader is then patronized by the suggestion every serious moral issue raised can be explained in terms of class differences. “Sometimes, bridging the divide is just impossible: One patient walked into a volunteer’s home, looked around, said she was going out for a smoke, and never came back,” writes Nathan. Perhaps if these poor, desperate, immature women would only develop a taste for Bolero, Yiddish theater and Aristotle, they’d more fully appreciate Mademoiselle Nathan’s gift of abortion.

Nathan’s white woman’s burden, however, is not shared by all of her race. One day outside the clinic another “white, well dressed” woman scolds a young Latina about “killing your baby.” Although this is precisely how, for all intents and purposes, Nathan views the “serious, hardcore” act, the protester’s willingness to articulate it — to actually care — now somehow renders her “birdlike,” i.e., birdbrained, flighty, inhuman. And despite her presumed illiteracy and lack of civic moxie, for the purpose of the anecdote the young patient is suddenly transformed into a fully informed, empowered moral agent who deflects her detractor with a blast of urban sass: “Get the hell outta my way what business is it of yours fuckin’ goddamned puta bitch!

In short, the Haven Coalition exploits the powerlessness, ignorance and trust of impoverished minority strangers to insure that they kill their unborn children without a second thought. Its volunteers do not bother to discover or understand their clients’ individual circumstances, nor do they care what they are. Their sole mission is to encourage conduct they consider reprehensible for no better reason than the lack of any reason at all.

[Note: This post is a slightly revised version of an essay I first published at The Dawn Patrol yesterday. In the comments there, Jill of Feministe disputes my implication that Haven volunteers are ever in a position to influence their clients’ abortion decision, asserting the first half the procedure is performed before the parties are introduced. I have responded to that comment.]


60 Responses to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Care”

  1. AK
    December 9th, 2005 @ 11:34 am

    RA, being against abortion and wanting to restrict the rights of women to even choose to have abortions are two different things.

    When you talk of “discouraging” abortions, I wonder to what degree? Do you want the clinic to give the woman emotional appeals like “you should love your baby! dont kill it!” or maybe dire warnings of sky-is-falling consequences like “you can get cancer and youll never be able to carry again”?

    Or what if the clinic simply tells the woman the realistic, normal risks associated with the procedure itself? Isnt that discouragement enough?

    Well, they already do that. They already tell women about the risks associated with the procedure. And to do anything else, or more, would be dishonest and coercive.

    Im curious RA… obviously you dont like abortion, but do you think that women should or should not have the right to get an abortion if they want to?

  2. Lily
    December 9th, 2005 @ 12:12 pm

    RA: Your response to Jill was simply wonderful. I honestly don’t think it could have been improved upon.

    AK: you would be surprised how many women know very little about their options (other than abortion). You would also be surprised how few know anything about fetal development and are horrified that what they thought was a blob of tissue is recognizably a baby. This is true already at 7 weeks. As the weeks pass, the idea of chopping the baby up is something that only a very callous person could condone. Whoever has the courage or, at least, the intellectual honesty to go look, can find developmental pictures here:

  3. Eileen R
    December 9th, 2005 @ 12:41 pm

    While I also agree that Jill’s intentions seem good, it should be noted that a woman could decide not to go through with the actual abortion after the first part of the procedure, and in fact, it happens from time to time.

  4. Eileen R
    December 9th, 2005 @ 12:42 pm

    Ah, and here’s a reference to laminaria removal.

  5. Jason Malloy
    December 9th, 2005 @ 12:44 pm
  6. Joe
    December 9th, 2005 @ 12:44 pm

    RA, you should really rename your site Raving Pro-Lifer……………your site has become monotonous in your constant diatribes on abortion. Personally, I don’t think you should say a thing on the subject, same as me. Being men we will never be on the receiving end of one so we should both keep our traps shut.

    Anyway, this will be my last visit to your site…

    For those who don’t regularly check it out, I would recommend The Evangelical Atheist’s site. Solid atheist content on a regulary basis.


  7. Jason Malloy
    December 9th, 2005 @ 12:47 pm

    “I don’t think you should say a thing on the subject, same as me. Being men we will never be on the receiving end of one so we should both keep our traps shut.”

    Wow, what kind of bullshit is that?

  8. tarkovsky
    December 9th, 2005 @ 1:14 pm

    As an atheist, pardon me for the bluntness, but we are just a bunch of mammals. If we want to start killing our unborn, fine.

    So the issue is really moral, right, and morality is all about what is considered appropriate behaviour for the human species’ survival strategy.

    Is it a “good” idea to encourage this sort of behaviour (abortion)? The unborn itself is certainly not in a position to complain. So it is a social issue, a consensus issue, a cultural issue, not an atheism-related issue.

    I side with the pro-lifers on this one. Not because God and the soul don’t exist, but because from a survival strategy perspective, I feel it is better that the parents care for their children than they be forced to raise them.

    As a father of two, I can vouch that there exists out there such a thing as resentful parents, and it produces bad bad bad results. But then again, maybe my analysis based on “survival strategy” needs to be revisited; perhaps it is better to have resentful parents, for then the kids have to become fighters to survive?

    And maybe society has to apply some social pressure, and this would produce a better “gene pool” ?

    Or is it better that women have the right to choose because that gives them better living conditions that improve the chances of a better “gene pool” ?

    When talking about abortion, we rarely hear this sort of arguments, because most of the time we get stuck on judeo-christian inherited ideas about good and evil. Maybe Nietzsche was right after all.

  9. tarkovsky
    December 9th, 2005 @ 1:16 pm

    I side with the pro-lifers on this one.

    Did I smoke crack or what? I side with pro-choice of course. (The typo of the year. Sorry folks.)

  10. Sam
    December 9th, 2005 @ 2:28 pm

    RA, perhaps you would feel even more righteous if you came to my house and collected the genetic material that I throw away almost twice a week. My wife’s eggs are also wastefully discarded on a monthly basis. Shouldn’t you be saving these potential citizens? After all, it is YOUR decision isn’t it?

  11. StarJones
    December 9th, 2005 @ 2:32 pm

    Love all the scorn being heaped on RA here. Bye-bye Joe don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  12. "Q" the Enchanter
    December 9th, 2005 @ 3:20 pm

    RA, I share your quesiness with late-term abortion and believe it raises a set of moral issues distinct from those attending abortion in the earliest stages, but with all due respect your opening salvo is misleading. Your excerpt makes it sound as if Debbie Nathan is saying morality tout court just goes out the window when your a prochoicer, when it seems clear from the context that she means to make the much narrower claim that qua prochoicer one has to recognize that one’s own moral view toward abortion has no claim on the body of another.

    You might disagree with her decision to abjure all moral engagement with pregnant mothers–her decision may even be morally wrong–but I don’t think it’s fair to cast her as a morally frivolous person.

  13. Mookie
    December 9th, 2005 @ 4:56 pm

    I have a dog. Her name is Penny. What does this have to do with atheism? Nothing.

  14. Mister Swill
    December 9th, 2005 @ 6:01 pm

    A very interesting story about a specific group of people. It’s interesting to note that supporting a concept, such as “abortion is a right and should be available to anyone regardless of class” is much simpler in the abstract than actually getting down into the trenches and having to deal with everything from class anxiety to the ugly realities of the procedure of abortion itself. Kind of similar to the way that supporting the concept of “abortion is murder” is much easier in the abstract than dealing with the ugly realities of attempting to legislate the procedure, something you have yet to devote a single word to more than a year after I first brought it up.

    But that’s not my point. And I, of all people, am in no position to criticize anyone’s punctuality. My point is that I doubt you see this as a specific story. I’m sure you see this as another example of the way everyone who is opposed to making abortion illegal feels: Cold, heartless, somehow in favor of death. Yep, still have that ridiculous “Culture of Death” slogan on your sub-masthead.

    You have argued that the idea of pro-choice not being pro-abortion is largely a myth. Well, you know, there’s this one guy. I saw a clip of him on a talk show a couple of weeks ago and he was talking about how he did not believe in abortion but he also believed that making it illegal would be the wrong thing to do. He’s a pretty famous humanitarian and he once held a pretty high office in the United States government. Maybe you’ve heard of him. His name is Jimmy Carter. Oh, then there was that other guy who had the same job in the government who always used to say that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” Bill Clinton or something. But a lot of people don’t take what that guy says at face value, so you can judge for yourself.

    Final point: We cannot legislate based on morality alone because MORALITY IS, BY ITS NATURE, SUBJECTIVE. No matter how logically one’s moral system is constructed, it can always be traced back to a subjective value judgement. A judgement that is going to differ from person to person. Theist Mort Coyle called this “the logical conclusion of Atheism,” but I would go further than that and call it the logical conclusion of any belief system capable of logical conclusions.

  15. Lily
    December 9th, 2005 @ 6:19 pm

    All law legislates morality. Abortion is certainly something that people can disagree about. But had the Supreme Court left it up to the states to decide, states that wanted to ban it, could; those that wanted to make it legal could. Instead, by taking it out of the hands of citizens, we have had 35 years of strife.

    The “safe, legal, rare” mantra that some moral morons spout (mostly those in political positions where they don’t want to have to come down on either side of the issue) begs the question of why abortion should be rare. If it is so simple, so easy and completely up to individuals who make decisions based on their circumstances, why should it be rare?

    Culture of death is as accurate as any other slogan. One of my early messages went into cyberhell. In it I pointed to a web site that has some of the most spectacular pictures of fetal development I have ever seen– well, of course the technology keeps getting better and better. I defy anyone to look at those pictures and tell me that dismembering any one of those babies doesn’t make him just a tiny bit uneasy. Just 40 years ago, they would have, I feel reasonably certain, prevented the legalization of abortion. But we feel differently these days… We don’t mind choosing death for others.

  16. Christina
    December 9th, 2005 @ 7:30 pm

    RA, you’re really being taken to the woodshed on this one! I think you struck a nerve!

  17. Lucy Muff
    December 9th, 2005 @ 9:53 pm

    why are yous all so desperate to be lkillin babies? RA may be goin gto hell but at least when he gets there he won’t have to pay for murderting kids you sicko peoples. IF you hate childrens so much why not just give them up after birth? Just coz you be too lazy to bring up baby aint no good reason for killin it! It makes no sense, and God will surely puinish you fors this.

    RA, you are bad heathen man, but good luck in this no kill of baby campain.

    However, war on Christmas is REAL and yous all know it coz it be done by you.

  18. Graham
    December 10th, 2005 @ 9:56 am

    “We cannot legislate based on morality”

    Actually, we can, and do, legislate on the basis of morality, as just about all laws stem from some earlier moral principles. Drug laws, for instance, seem based on a moral principle, and infidelity is a legally recognized condition in divorse cases.

    If we can’t legislate based on morality, does this mean that robbery and murder become legal? I’m sure you’re answer to that would be “no” because these acts hurt other people. And this is the crux of RA’s argument against abortion: that it harms another person (the fetus/baby).

    The argument that “if you don’t like abortion – then don’t have one”, is ridiculous. Someone else on this site stated in a retort that “if you don’t like SLAVERY – then don’t own slaves”, which I fully intend to steal and use in every abortion conversation I have from this point forward!

    To me, the only point of contention is the “person-hood” of the fetus. If it’s a person, then abortion should be illegal; if not, then abortion should be allowed. I’m OK with anyone who wants to contend that a fetus isn’t a person. There are ways we can debate this, but just telling pro-lifers to “mind their own business” is utterly ridiculous.

  19. Jody Tresidder
    December 10th, 2005 @ 4:01 pm

    For anyone interested – “Lucy Muff” is a piss poor troll who pops up from time to time hoping folks will be fooled by his/her voice of authentic hoppin’ mad stupidity. Take the bait if you want: he/she eventually comes clean and claims it was a witty experiment (hence the porny surname). Yawn.

  20. Ilkka Kokkarinen
    December 10th, 2005 @ 9:53 pm

    This whole concept of “Underground Railroad” reminds me of an idea I once had. I am pro-choice myself, but I can’t understand why the American pro-lifers don’t realize how they could easily have a perfect weapon to influence the public opinion:

    Start a foundation that finances abortions for black women, but black women only and any black woman. Go for maximum media publicity, which can be easily gained even if the foundation actually intends to finance only a handful of abortions, just to make a point. Then just sit back and let the pro-choicers explain why exactly this foundation is somehow “bad”.

    When this foundation quickly becomes a target of accusations of racism and eugenics, they could use feelgood arguments such as “We support free choice for everyone, but the black women are the ones worst off in our society, so we focus our money to help only them to equalize things”. Of course, also use the term “underground railroad” a lot.

  21. mark
    December 11th, 2005 @ 10:46 am

    I disagree with the majority of comments here as I do not see the link between being an aetheist and being against late-term abortions.

    I suspect that many of the commenters are just reacting to the extreme position of the religious right which says we must always protect the potentiality of life. By doing so, they are ignoring the fact that we should protect actual life. In most European countries, where there is no vocal religious lobby, the abortion age has been lowered to take into account the wealth of scientific data which indicates that a fetus is a human being at a relatively early age. The maximum limit for abortion on demand in France and Germany is 10 and 12 weeks respectively.

    Aetheism is not a faith, it is about accepting reason. If reason tells us that a fetus is a human life then we should seek to protect that life.

  22. leon
    December 11th, 2005 @ 11:44 am

    If there wasn’t so much sabotage in preventing abortions around the country there would be no need for a woman to delay ending the unwanted growth at 24 weeks.

  23. Gathercole
    December 12th, 2005 @ 3:07 am

    The Raving Atheist asserts that all human lives are equally valuable. This may have a nice, cliched ring to it, but many institutions make distinctions in the value of life that most of us agree with. The draft, for instance, takes single men before it takes married men with families. Is this because the lives of married men are more valuable? I don’t know how else it could be put. We have an intuition that it is a greater injustice to kill someone who is loved and depended on by many people, than one who isn’t. This is the reason, which the Raving Atheist was looking for, why no pro-choice people believe it’s okay to kill an adult in his sleep: it doesn’t just hurt the victim, but everyone who has a meaningul personal relationship with him. All such people would be personally traumatized and overwhelmed with grief. The abortion of a fetus personally traumatizes only its parents, and that is why the decision properly rests with them.

  24. Mark
    December 12th, 2005 @ 3:12 am

    “This is the reason, which the Raving Atheist was looking for, why no pro-choice people believe it’s okay to kill an adult in his sleep: it doesn’t just hurt the victim, but everyone who has a meaningul personal relationship with him. All such people would be personally traumatized and overwhelmed with grief.”

    So it’s OK to kill an adult who has no meaningful personal relationships, right?

  25. Sean
    December 12th, 2005 @ 12:30 pm

    If it is true that crime has gone down as a result of Roe vs Wade, then I must change my pro-life stance to pro-choice. If pro-choice lessens the number of degenerates in society, then it can’t be all that bad.

  26. Lucy Muff
    December 12th, 2005 @ 6:54 pm

    In dumbass book by econymists there is claim of less crime from abortion of poor peoples. This is maybe is true but if offset by big crime of killing baby. Therefore there is increase in crimes so it still be bad.

  27. Gathercole
    December 12th, 2005 @ 8:31 pm

    Mark: Of course it’s not “okay” in the sense that it’s okay to do it for no reason. Even a bastard’s life isn’t worth nothing. But people do ascribe less value to the life of a miserly bastard than they do to a loving father.

    Abortion, even when it illegal in the US, was never punished as first-degree murder. In countries where it is still illegal, mostly theocracies and totalitarian regimes, it isn’t punished like that either. Why do most people, whether pro- or anti- abortion, feel that abortion and premeditated murder should not be punished equally? In a country where abortion is illegal, why would a person who stabs their neighbor’s dog to death probably get a harsher sentence than a woman who has an abortion? I think this reveals something about the way people’s moral intuitions work.

  28. Tony
    December 12th, 2005 @ 11:20 pm

    As a practicing Catholic, I going to take a decidedly secularist reason as to why abortion is bad, and is expecially bad for pro-choicers.

    We are seeing in Germany and much of Europe, that birth rates due to contraception and abortion are falling to dangerous (social) levels.

    The level of births remains low, at 1.4 children per woman. Birth rates are in decline among foreign mothers, but remain higher than those of German mothers (1.8 as against 1.3 children per woman).

    Life expectancy has continued to increase among men and women. This includes an ongoing trend towards closing the gap between Western and Eastern Germany. [Source]

    So currently, you have three workers for every retired worker. In about 10 years, the prediction is going to be 2 workers for every retired worker. This means even more confiscatory tax rates than are already suffered in Europe. This is a serious social problem here. And something that might be interesting to you atheists, the population in Germany is being replaced by Muslims. You think the “religious right” is bad?

    Following on that ideological note, the young parents in my Catholic church have an average of 4 children. A small number have 2 (and many are just starting out), a couple have 5 and are still cranking them out.

    These people go to church every Sunday and holy day of obligation, and this is how their children are being brought up. We, like the orthodox Jews, many conservative Christians and Muslims that contraception is wrong, and abortion is evil. These people accept children from God lovingly and they accept lots of them. And get this. These people grow up to vote.

    So I believe that the “pro-choice” position is going to be self limiting in a generation or so simply because of social Darwinism. The Democrats are seeing this. They saw it in the last election. Watch the 2008 candidate for president drop the pro-choicers like a hot potato. And I wouldn’t be suprised if the entire plank was removed from the Democrat platform.

    Now, add to that an “intellectual” element. Abortions are being performed (at least in the US) at higher levels on people in higher education and class levels (read that “smart people”). So to bring it to basics, the smart people are killing their young, the dumb people are not. Figure it out.

  29. Mister Swill
    December 12th, 2005 @ 11:34 pm

    Graham and Lily, you have misrepresented my argument by truncating an important word: We cannot legislate based on morality ALONE. Still don’t believe me? Try it: Imagine you’re writing all the laws for a new country. Whatever is wrong is against the law and whatever is right is not. You see the problem already, right? How do you figure out what right and wrong are? Everyone’s opinion differs. Even if you believe that God decides what is right and wrong, there’s still the problem that no two people agree precisely on just what God’s opinion is. So there have to be other considerations than morality alone.

    Then you have the practical concerns of legislation. You’re writing laws, not magically changing people’s behavior. So you have to create a system of law enforcement, punishment, rehabilitation, and whatnot. That opens up a whole new set of moral issues: What should and should not the legal system be allowed to do? Incarcerate criminals? Torture them? Kill them? What do we allow and not allow law enforcement officers to do? Where does the system have jurisdiction? As you can see, the actions of the legal system itself become a consideration apart from the original question of what is right and wrong.

    If you can understand that you can begin to understand why many, many reasonable people have issues with the morality of abortion but do not support the criminalization of it. Personally, I do have some moral problems with abortion, mainly during later stages of pregnancy. (No, there’s no clear dividing line. Nature didn’t make this one easy.) But I also feel that legislating abortion is oppressive, since it essentially says that the law has jurisdiction over an individual’s body. Plus, the abortions that do happen will be the dangerous, back-alley kind, just as the prohibition of most drugs means the drugs that are available are more dangerous.

    There are plenty of non-oppressive ways to prevent abortions (that’s the reason for making abortion illegal, right?): Better availability of contraception (including Plan B which does not terminate pregnancy but prevents conception); better education on how to correctly use that contraception; more legal, financial, and medical support for poorer pregnant women; on and on and on.

  30. Christopher
    December 13th, 2005 @ 1:36 am

    Graham said, “To me, the only point of contention is the “person-hood” of the fetus. If it’s a person, then abortion should be illegal; if not, then abortion should be allowed.”

    Nonono. This way of looking at abortion just clouds the issue. It raises two very diffcult questions:

    1. What exactly qualifies a person for “person-hood”? It’s not intelligence, obviously, because a grown ape is smarter then a human fetus. Is it potential to become a person? Well, if so, then how can we logically exclude sperm and eggs from having personhood status?

    2. Why should the murder of “persons” be a more heinous crime then the murder of “nono-persons”? Pain and stifling of potential, the two reasons that immediately spring to my mind, also give animals and sperm and eggs personhood.

    Ultimately, agreeing on what makes a person a person is a very subjective determination, that doesn’t lend itself to easy answers.

    To me, a more fruitful inquiry is the question of how much a society can reasonably expect a person to sacrifice for the sake of other members of that society.

    The reason people support abortion but not infanticide has nothing, really, to do with sympathy towards children or fetuses, but has to do with the mother’s bodily integrity.

    Basically, a mother has to sacrifice her own body while pregnant, as a little parasite grows inside her and drains nutrients from her.

    After she is pregnant, taking care of the child no longer requires direct bodily sacrifice.

    Our society tends to balk at insisting that people sacrifice their own body for the sake of others. This is why we have organisations like OSHA, and why organ donation isn’t necessary.

    Is a man who does not donate one of his kidneys while alive immoral? After all, witholding the kidney could well mean the death of somebody.

    Abortion is the same; it’s about a woman deciding that she doesn’t want to sacrifice her own body for the sake on another.

    Now, is there a reason why women should be forced to give up their bodies in this occasion, but not in others?

  31. Christopher
    December 13th, 2005 @ 1:43 am

    And Lily- The reason abortion should be safe, legal, and rare is the same reason that amputations of gangrenous limbs should be safe, legal and rare.

    Abortion is a medical procedure to correct a bodily irregularity. Ideally, the irregularity would not arise in the first place. Just like ideally, your limb wouldn’t become gangrenous in the first place.

    And much like gangrene, there are plenty of measures we can take to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place, thus making abortion more superfluous. And no matter how fucking easy abortion gets, it’ll still be harder then not getting pregnant. At the very least it’ll take up time that could be used to do something else.

    Good lord, saying abortionists should want abortions to be common is just as stupid as the slogan “Don’t like abortions? Then don’t have one!”

  32. Lily
    December 13th, 2005 @ 10:01 am


    You are young aren’t you? As in, under 35? Only someone who has grown up in this hedonistic, death culture could actually believe that a pregnancy is a bodily irregularity. What a bizarre, repellant notion! Let me spell it out for you: pregnancy is natural. It is what women’s bodies were designed for. Abortion is unnatural and a violent interruption of a natural process.

    This has medical implications. Despite the shrieks of rage and denial from the pro-aborts, there is a definite link between an increased risk of breast cancer and abortion. But so entrenched is the pro-abortion point of view, that we can’t even get an honest discussion of those kinds of risks in medical circles, much less in the general population.

  33. Jody Tresidder
    December 13th, 2005 @ 2:14 pm

    Lily wrote: “Despite the shrieks of rage and denial from the pro-aborts, there is a definite link between an increased risk of breast cancer and abortion. But so entrenched is the pro-abortion point of view, that we can’t even get an honest discussion of those kinds of risks in medical circles, much less in the general population.”

    Then how do YOU know about potential links between breast cancer risks and abortion, if the pro-abortionists have so successfully stifled “honest discussion”?

    It is risible when people use these arguments about secret facts not generally known and squeal about “honest discussion” having been prevented. All you mean, Lily, is that every time you see abortion mentioned, you’d like BREAST CANCER LINK POSSIBLE!! scarily sprayed about in capital letters to further your “culture of death” agenda.

    And I’d REALLY like to know what sort of “medical circles” you mix in where craven dishonesty prevails over data-based knowledge and theory…

  34. Lily
    December 13th, 2005 @ 2:38 pm

    You are kidding aren’t you, Jody? Do you remember AIDS? The most politicized disease in history and the most dishonestly treated in medical circles? Of course scienctists are as partisan and corruptible as anyone else. Sheesh, can that really be a revelation to you?

    There is nothing secret about my knowledge. Of course, I regularly read British and German papers and scientific literature. Maybe that is the difference.

    Tell you what. If you do an honest search of Google and can’t come up with the same information I have, let me know and I will do your homework for you.

  35. Jody Tresidder
    December 13th, 2005 @ 5:01 pm

    You offered. Go ahead, Lily.
    Show me the peer-reviewed literature that proves scientists have muffled the link between breast cancer risks and abortion because of pro-abortion activitism.

    And what’s with telling Christopher he’s grown up in a “hedonistic death culture”? Are you accusing him of being an Aztec?

  36. Mister Swill
    December 13th, 2005 @ 5:15 pm

    Jody Tresidder: And what’s with telling Christopher he’s grown up in a “hedonistic death culture”? Are you accusing him of being an Aztec?


  37. Lily
    December 13th, 2005 @ 6:50 pm

    Well, I doubt that you did any search of Google, which was my condition, or any medical database. But since it is quite easy for me to do the research, I did your work for you.

    I won’t, however, do your thinking. You all are curiously resistant to having your pet opinions challenged. I’d like to wager serious money, however, that you won’t follow up by reading a single one of these. I got them from an online full text database. If you do not have access to them online or in print, your local public library can obtain the articles for you:

    1. Angela Lanfranchi Women Have a Right to Know: Testimony before the Massachusetts Joint Health Care Committee*. Issues in Law & Medicine [serial online]. 2003;19:163-167.

    2. Hila J Spear Said Another Way. Nursing Forum [serial online]. 2004;39:34-35.

    3. Jill R Dietz Induced abortion, miscarriage, and breast cancer risk of young women. Women’s Oncology Review [serial online]. 2003;3:249-250.

    4. AAPLOG statement on induced abortion and the subsequent risk of breast cancer. Issues in Law & Medicine [serial online]. 2002;18:191-194.

    5. Valerie Beral, Diana Bull, Richard Doll, Richard Peto, Gillian
    Reeves. Breast cancer and abortion: collaborative reanalysis of data from 53 epidemiological studies, including 83 000 women with breast cancer from 16 countries. The Lancet [serial online]. 2004;363:1007-1016.

  38. Jody Tresidder
    December 13th, 2005 @ 11:51 pm

    Well, well, well, Lily.

    The only surprise here is that I should be surprised by such outrageously underhand garbage.
    And you lot wonder why we don’t trust you?

    You’ve just lost your serious money wager.
    Not only did I read most of the articles you cited – I did a little additional checking.

    Let’s take #5 on your list. The Lancet article titled:Breast cancer and abortion: collaborative reanalysis of data from 53 epidemiological studies, including 83,000 women with breast cancer from 16 countries.

    Did YOU actually read the detailed findings?

    Because they say the OPPOSITE of what you claim.

    The interpretation of this paper? As quoted in the abstract?
    Here goes the key quote from the paper:”Pregnancies that end as a spontaneous or induced abortion do not increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.”

    Got that?

    This scientific paper looked at studies that suggested a link between breast cancer risk and abortions and found these studies FLAWED.

    Let’s look at #1 on your list. Angela Lafranchi, the breast cancer surgeon who is convinced there IS a proven link between abortions and breast cancer risk (in spite of the opposite stated in the paper just quoted above).

    Not only are Dr Lafranchi’s theories disputed over and over and over by leading experts.

    Not only is she the main, angrily outspoken source of all this “conspiracy of silence” stuff.

    But Dr Lafranchi has some dogmatic views about the disgusting nature of abortion that long predate her cancer studies. Here’s how she remembered learning about abortion at medical school: “When the mother didn’t want the child, no consideration would be given to the unborn’s humanity. It was no longer a child but a blob of tissue, a “product of conception,” a parasitic entity or whatever the mother chose to call “it.” “.

    That’s from a talk she gave in 2002 about Roe Vs Wade and its impact on her medical training.

    No wonder there is doubt about her theories. There are serious questions about her data AND she started as an extreme anti-abortionist.

    So we turn to #2 on your list. One Hila J Spear.
    Who is Hila J Spear?
    Turns out she’s Director of Nursing at Liberty University in Virginia.
    Like to guess who is the Founder and Director of Liberty University in Virginia?
    One Rev Jerry Falwell – the very same Jerry Falwell who blamed 9/11 on “abortionists” and “gays”, as you may recall.

    Need I go on?

    Really, the only question is: who are you trying to fool?

    Flinging about hysterical anti-abortion propaganda inevitably backfires. Maybe there is a part of you that genuinely fears for women who suffer harm to their “souls” or their health by ignorantly having an abortion. I can’t tell.
    Maybe you think by boasting about “research” and an “online full text database” people will be too trusting or lazy to check your scientific sources. Again, I can’t say.

    But I definitely think I’ve wasted enough time on this.

  39. Lily
    December 14th, 2005 @ 4:07 am

    You didn’t bother to hear what they had to say, did you? You decided they didn’t meet your standard based on your dogmatic assumptions about them. What is hilarious about that is that I didn’t know a thing about their backgrounds. It never occured to me to look. I merely chose the first 5 articles that came up in a quick search of a medical database that spoke to the issue.

    I am aware of what the last article says. You need to go back and read it again. It talks very clearly about the link not being proven but not being one that can be dismissed. I included it for the sake of honesty. Do you know what the word means? But don’t allow your prejudices to get in the way of your arrogance.

  40. Jody Tresidder
    December 14th, 2005 @ 7:52 am

    Lily wrote: “What is hilarious about that is that I didn’t know a thing about their backgrounds. It never occured to me to look. I merely chose the first 5 articles that came up in a quick search of a medical database that spoke to the issue. ”

    Boy oh boy, this takes the biscuit.

    You know why some experts HATE amateurs crashing around in their field on the web and formulating self-serving scientific theories?
    Because it never occurs to them to check the provenance of the information, which you seem to think is a point in your favor!

    You accuse ME of arrogance for daring to check your sources?

    You know what my starting point was?

    It was a red flag going up over the fact that Angela Lafranchi’s results WERE NOT BEING DUPLICATED BY THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY.
    So either she was a persecuted lone voice in the wilderness – a Galileo of breast cancer and abortion in the medical firmament, if you like – or she was blindly dismissing contrary studies because of a personal agenda.

    And guess what? Her agenda is blatant. Her pre-existing anti-abortion prejudice is explicit and you don’t ned to be a cynic to suspect that something is up when an “expert” is being eagerly touted as correct by groups with variations of “catholic” and “pro life” in their titles.
    Then YOU throw in that Lancet reference – the 53 studies involving 83,000 women from 16 countries – on the grounds, you claim, “for the sake of honesty”. Yeah, I checked that too. The paper is authored by the world’s leading researchers. And, yes, after concluding there is NO link between abortions and the risk of breast cancer, they point out that they can’t dismiss any such link ever existing.
    Because they can’t go back and check all the raw data which they suspect is crucially flawed. Unlike Lafranchi, their agenda is based on being absolutely scrupulous.

    SHE is the one not being scrupulous.

    I don’t see how you can accuse me of having dogmatic assumptions.

    Any researcher worth his or her salt checks credentials.
    Otherwise why wouldn’t you accept a theory being put out by one man and his dog from a shed at the bottom of a garden rather than, say, a report co-authored by half a dozen leading university research departments?

    How come you conveniently believe all the partisan and corrupt scientists MUST be the ones who don’t agree with you? How come you haven’t even addressed how one of your five experts is a shill for Jerry Falwell?

    Oh, I forget. I know the answer to that one: it was because it doesn’t strike you that it has any relevance! Perhaps you also think it’s “hilarious” too?

  41. Jody Tresidder
    December 14th, 2005 @ 8:11 am

    While this is fresh in my brain, I’ll go one step further.
    Reading (again) what you wrote, I can’t quite dismiss the idea that you WANT there to be a link between abortion and breast cancer risk.
    Prove me wrong – and I hope I am mistaken – but I wouldn’t be surprised if you view any such causal relationship as being some sort of cosmic payback for these faceless jezebels.
    It was the bit you wrote about women’s bodies being designed for childbirth. Three guesses who you think Did the Designing?
    If there is any part of you that supposes it’s really quite nifty that ridding herself of a fetus puts a woman in greater danger of a potentially fatal, horrible disease later in life – well, you do know that’s truly disgusting?
    As I said, prove me totally wrong. Just say so. I’ll believe you.

  42. Lily
    December 14th, 2005 @ 8:36 am

    I will try to forgive you for that hideous, ugly and utterly unfounded accusation. People I love, like my own sister, have had abortions. How dare you suppose that because I object to chopping up babies that I would wish a horrible disease on anyone? You are beneath contempt.

  43. Jody Tresidder
    December 14th, 2005 @ 9:31 am

    No, I’m not beneath contempt.
    I framed my question to you bluntly. There were no rhetorical traps. I asked you to make something clear because I couldn’t “quite dismiss the idea” based on your general tone. Consider it dismissed. I said I hoped I was wrong, and I am happy I am.
    YOU are the one who described abortion as something “only a callous person could condone”
    YOU are the one who added accusations of intellectual dishonesty and cowardice and “moral morons”to the callous charge. Along with “bizarre, repellant notions” and “hedonistic death culture”.

    So there’s no need to get prissy and righteous.
    And, by the way, I think you owe me some money regarding your wager?

  44. Lily
    December 14th, 2005 @ 10:42 am

    You didn’t take the bet, unless you want to claim that you sent me your acceptance via mental telepathy. I am also not at all certain that you read the articles. You had plenty to say about the backgrounds of a couple of the authors but nothing to say about their concerns.

    Reading comprehension remains a problem on this site. “moral morons” was my description of politicians who twist and dodge taking a position one way or another on the issue of abortion.

    Do you not have a problem with calling pregnancy a bodily irregularity? I do. It is bizarre and repellant. Even if you object to my using the word “designed” will you deny that women’s bodies have evolved to make pregnancy possible?

    Intellectual dishonesty? Everywhere on this board. There is not a single one of you, so far as I can determine, that is honest. It used to amuse me to read the idiotic rantings and misuses of scripture on this board. No more. I hope to heaven that there are no literature majors here because not one of you displays enough reading comprehension to come to class prepared to discuss Old Yeller.

  45. Jody Tresidder
    December 14th, 2005 @ 11:15 am

    Okay, Lily.
    I wrote: “Show me the peer-reviewed literature that proves scientists have muffled the link between breast cancer risks and abortion because of pro-abortion activitism.”
    You wrote: “I’d like to wager serious money, however, that you won’t follow up by reading a single one of these. ”
    Now, suddenly, it’s “the articles”. PLURAL?
    Oh well.
    Not to mention that the important peer-reviewed article in The Lancet blew your point out of the water, while adding a scrupulous caveat.
    You say, with spirit, that it used to amuse you to read the idiotic ramblings and misuses of scripture on this board?
    And what on earth do you call YOUR abuse of citation? A writer yoked to JERRY FALWELL?? A doctor who spits venom at the idea of abortion who subsequently made her life’s work “proving” a deleterious long term medical effect?

    Do you not grasp the harm these people do? By putting their “work” into the peer-evaluating public arena and getting it debunked, they raise immediate doubts about the NEXT study that comes along. Doesn’t matter if the next study is, in fact, sound. Jane Public already thinks the conclusions are a crock.

    And why the heck WOULD literature majors want to study “Old Yeller”?
    You have very peculiar taste.

  46. Lily
    December 14th, 2005 @ 11:36 am

    You still didn’t address their concerns, which I take it, I am supposed to believe they pulled out of thin air.

    No, I don’t grasp the harm they do. I do grasp the harm that you and your ilk do by dismissing them on ideological grounds rather than scientific ones. And don’t give me that crap about the next “sound” study being ignored because of them. God and 40 of his angels testifying before Congress about the horror of abortion and its link to future ills wouldn’t give your kind pause much less cause you to change your minds.

  47. Jody Tresidder
    December 14th, 2005 @ 1:24 pm

    For crying out loud Lily,
    The damn 2004 Lancet article finds no proven validity in the link between breast cancer risk and abortion based on 53 epidemiological studies, including 83,000 women with breast cancer from 16 countries.
    The Lancet very properly implicitly reserves the intellectual right not to dismiss the possibility there may be such a link if and when studies with satisfactory data emerge.


    Furthermore, you are refusing to understand – or pretending to refuse to understand – that studies that are enthusiastically promoted by people proudly trailing deep ideological roots tend, at best, to be selective and one-sided. (Ever heard of Lysenko?). At worst, they’re self-serving drivel.

    I think I’ll draw a polite veil over the bit about God and his angels testifying before Congress.

  48. jahrta
    December 14th, 2005 @ 3:13 pm

    “God and 40 of his angels testifying before Congress about the horror of abortion and its link to future ills wouldn’t give your kind pause much less cause you to change your minds.”

    …are you fucking kidding me?

  49. Mister Swill
    December 15th, 2005 @ 4:55 am

    A tip of the hat and a round of applause to Jody Tresidder for her diligence, patience, and persistence. I don’t know if I’ve ever read an online exchange in which one participant responds so fast for so long and stays so civil the whole time.

    Still, this exchange is a good reminder that one can only reason with reasonable people. The rest are set so stubbornly in their beliefs that no argument will be able to get them even to question the rightness of their opinions. The problem with discussing abortion is that the debate in this country has been thoroughly framed (on both sides) by the latter type of person. Someone really needs to hit the reset switch on the abortion debate.

    By the way, my jaw dropped when I read the following statement: “I do grasp the harm that you and your ilk do by dismissing them on ideological grounds rather than scientific ones.” Wow. That was almost as funny as the time that someone asked the self-righteous, anti-communist Christian why capitalism was the only moral system and he responded “read Ayn Rand.”

  50. Jody Tresidder
    December 15th, 2005 @ 7:33 am

    Thank you very, very much for that Mister Swill!

  51. Lily
    December 15th, 2005 @ 8:20 am

    Pick your jaw up, Swill. All you have accomplished is to confirm in Jody’s mind that it is ok to ignore those with whom she disagrees. For example, the doctor who testified in Mass. is no crank. She is a well-regarded surgeon, a specialist in breast diseases, a faculty member at a medical school and so on. Jody never bothered to acknowledge, much less respond, to the concerns this MD testified about.

    Likewise she dismissed Hila Spear because she works at Liberty U but ignores that the short article I cited has some 15 footnotes citing such well-known godidiot journals like the Journal of of Epidemiology and Community Health., Lancet Oncology, Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey, International Journal of Cancer, etc.

    Now, I cannot weigh them as to their scientific merits. It would be helpful if Jody would state why she dismisses them without acknowledgement.

    So you were more accurate than you suspected when you wrote: Still, this exchange is a good reminder that one can only reason with reasonable people. The rest are set so stubbornly in their beliefs that no argument will be able to get them even to question the rightness of their opinions.

  52. Jody Tresidder
    December 15th, 2005 @ 9:12 am

    I’ve tried to access the Hila Spear article every way I can with no luck. You say it’s “short” – can you cut and paste it here?

    BTW, why do you keep ignoring the huge Lancet article – except to bleat that it doesn’t rule out the possibility of one day some further studies showing something else – since you cited it yourself?
    That’s what I find confounding.

  53. Lily
    December 15th, 2005 @ 10:14 am

    I cited the Lancet article for two reasons. 1) to provide balance (as I stated before, though I should not have had to– I don’t want to see anyone develop a horrible disease. 2) The article was interesting to me because it pointed to flaws that plague this kind of research and made an effort to correct them.

    Yes, the Spear article is pretty short. It will be a bit much for the comments box and I am not sure it is legal for me to cut and paste it which amounts to republishing it here but I will see what I can do…. If I can stop bleating long enough.

  54. Jody Tresidder
    December 15th, 2005 @ 12:49 pm

    I get weekend/some evening institutional access to better databases. If you want to hang on – I’ll have another go (totally agree about stuffing up comment boxes/republishing anxieties – I probably don’t err enough on the safe side.)

  55. Lily
    December 15th, 2005 @ 1:11 pm

    Do you have access to one of these databases? Proquest Nursing Journals, CINAHL with full text, or Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition? Doing a search on “Breast cancer and abortion” I think the spears article was the first that came up in PNJ. In CINAHL it was #7 (but I reversed the terms which shouldn’t make a difference) and in HS it was #2. I limited all searches to full text and peer reviewed to cut down on irrelevant stuff.

  56. Robert
    December 15th, 2005 @ 2:51 pm

    I’ve got a better idea.

  57. Jody Tresidder
    December 16th, 2005 @ 8:49 am

    Typical, The one time I’m relying on access – nothing until early next week.

    Perhaps we should agree to neutrally disagree for now about Hila J. Spear? (I’d probably just amuse myself making up filthy secularist anagrams with her name, anyway).

    The whole (obvious) point about holding people with discernible ideological affiliations at arm’s length is the likely selectivity of their data.
    As I understand it – and it’s incredibly complicated for me -, a further particular problem with breast cancer risk and abortion hinges on whether women used in the studies were consistently frankly owning up to abortions or not. Some researchers suspected that if a woman developed breast cancer, she was more likely to admit to the procedure in her past. And if she didn’t develop breast cancer, she might not mention an abortion at all. (I even read one study which suggested abortion confers some protection against breast cancer – which the researchers were quick to slap a huge warning on. Yes, the numbers said one thing: but the sample was troubling for various reasons and – at the very least – not worth a flurry of pro-abortion headlines followed by uneasy retractions.)
    YOU insist Lanfranchi (I misspelled her name earlier, curses) is no “crank” and I agree her resume looks good. But, by her own admission, she held violently negative opinions about abortion long before her “independent” research confirmed her intuitive disgust PLUS one can’t ignore the fact many mainstream cancer bodies have abruptly denied her interpretations.
    Science can be incredibly political, granted: but there is a meritocracy of ideas and elegant research that operates as well. It wouldn’t matter if Lanfranchi was a screaming fruitcake and out of step with all her peers if her clinical data and theories were being duplicated across the board. Which, at present, they are not.

  58. Annie Banno
    December 16th, 2005 @ 4:30 pm

    (sigh)…RA, I bet you’ve just been WAITING till I slogged into this mud and added my two cents to the $1,000 already offered by the most capable and patient Lily who’s earned my undying admiration as a fine handler of Jody, Swill, et. al., eh?


    Ok, if you insist telepathically…

    Jody Tresidder said:

    “Not only are Dr Lafranchi’s theories disputed over and over and over by leading experts.”

    Not ALL “leading experts” dispute her theories. The following people, journal articles, organizations have found the A/BC link to be true, to varying degrees:

    1. American Cancer Society’s own brochure “Cancer Facts and Figures, 1996”

    2. Phyllis Wingo (a CDC researcher prior to working for American Cancer Society and then doing an about-face), and three other epidemiologists (including Bruce Stadel, National Institutes of Health)

    3. Pro-choice Dr. Janet Daling in who in the 1994 NCI Journal wrote: “If politics gets involved in science, it will really hold back the progress we make. I have three sisters with breast cancer, and I resent people messing with the scientific data to further their own agenda, be they pro-choice or pro-life. I would have loved to have found no association between breast cancer and abortion, but our research is rock solid, and our data is accurate. It’s not a matter of believing. It’s a matter of what is.”

    Daling is ex-NCI but now blacklisted by them because of HER about-face. Funny, the “choice” given to scientists: toe the no-link line and be rewarded like Wingo, or don’t toe it and be shat upon like Daling. Wow.

    4. Dr. Clark Heath, even while he was a Vice President for the American Cancer Society,

    5. Dr. Joel Brind, Baruch College endocrinologist, president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute,

    6. New England Journal of Medicine article by Katrina Armstrong,

    7. Harvard’s Dr. Brian MacMahon, Dr. Dimitrios Trichopoulos, et al.; International Journal of Cancer,

    8. Dr. Lynn Rosenberg, a Boston University Medical School epidemiologist,

    9. Dr. Jane Orient, M.D., executive director, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons,

    10. National Physicians Center for Family Resources,

    11. American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

    To name a few.

    And as a longtime, successful breast cancer surgeon and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, NJ, I kind of doubt Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, M.D., F.A.C.S. would have retained either job if she was such an ideological nutcase as you contend, Jody.

    Tell me, do you think Dr. Daling is also bonkers?

    Guess Lanfranchi ISN’T the “only” or even the “main, angrily outspoken source of all this “conspiracy of silence” stuff,” after all.

    On to the next bubble to burst.

    You also said,
    “Show me the peer-reviewed literature that proves scientists have muffled the link between breast cancer risks and abortion because of pro-abortion activitism.”

    Ok. I will. Admittedly, it’s a loaded gauntlet, impossible to REALLY prove since no scientists would be caught dead muffling the A/BC link solely because of outright “pro-abortion activitism [sic]”, but they certainly have done so regardless (as shown above in items # 1, 2 and 4) and are continuing to do so at the NCI.

    I uncovered this interesting, most recent “muffling” and posted it this past July:

    Seems there was a 2000 China abortion/breast cancer study that National Cancer Institute itself funded that found at least in part that there is an increased risk in certain circumstances.

    But they’ve worked very successfully to make sure no one knows about it.

    After you’ve read that entire story, then feel free to froth away.

    I may not respond, though, because I realize sadly that nothing—but nothing—will change your mind anyway.

  59. Annie Banno
    December 16th, 2005 @ 5:05 pm

    RE: Valerie Beral, Diana Bull, Richard Doll, Richard Peto, Gillian
    Reeves. Breast cancer and abortion: collaborative reanalysis of data from 53 epidemiological studies, including 83 000 women with breast cancer from 16 countries. The Lancet [serial online]. 2004;363:1007-1016.

    Note how the American Cancer Society depends on the above study so much now. In this article in particular it is one of the ones they cite:

    Please provide a link to the above study, I can’t seem to find one right now, and I’ll happily explore its footnotes too, but for now:

    The ACS also says this, STILL!:

    “The largest, and probably the most reliable, single study of this topic was conducted during the 1990s in Denmark, a country with very detailed medical records on all its citizens. In that study, all Danish women born between 1935 and 1978 (1.5 million women) were linked with the National Registry of Induced Abortions and with the Danish Cancer Registry. So all information about their abortions and their breast cancer came from registries, was very complete, and was not influenced by recall bias.

    “After adjusting for known breast cancer risk factors, the researchers found that induced abortion(s) had no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer.”

    For the reference: that study is Melbye et al., “Induced Abortion and the Risk of Breast Cancer,” 336 New England J. Med. at 83 (1997).

    Why the American Cancer Society continues to rely on the 1997 Melbye study (also known as the Danish study), is quite beyond me, because it has been severely criticized, in the New England Journal of Medicine, for its errors of misclassification and data adjustment. [Joel Brind & Vernon Chinchilli, Letter, ” Induced Abortion and the Risk of Breast Cancer,” 336 New England Journal of Medicine (1997) 1834-35].

    Are five reasons why, good enough for you?

    1) the researchers followed non-abortive women more than twice as long as the women who did have elective abortions.

    2) They compared a smaller group of younger women (280,691) who had had abortions to a far larger number of older women (1,248,541) who hadn’t procured abortions. The difficulty with this practice is obvious. Women who live longer have a greater chance of developing breast cancer.

    3) Its researchers started counting the incidence of the disease — recorded during a 5 year period — before counting abortions, the cause of the disease.


    5) Even Melbye reported that for each week of gestation a 3 percent increased risk was found, so that after the 18th week there was a statistically significant 89% increased risk for women choosing an abortion.

    The New England Journal of Medicine, which published the Melbye study about 9 years ago, also quietly published an article by Katrina Armstrong in February of 2000 in which abortion was included as one of breast cancer’s “risk factors.”

    Did this review get fanfare like the Melbye study? Is it “still being depended on” by the ACS or anyone in the prochoice arena the way the Melbye study is? Is it even acknowledged for God’s sake?


    In reviewing risk factors for breast cancer Armstrong’s published paper stated, “Other risk factors have been less consistently associated with breast cancer (such as diet, use of oral contraceptives, lactation, and abortion).” [Armstrong (2000) NEJM 342:564-71].

    If the whole “there’s no A/BC link” house of cards hinges on even. ONE. badly. flawed. and. discredited. study or review of studies such as it does with Melbye, then ALL of what “the establishment” holds is true now MUST BE CALLED INTO QUESTION.

    I don’t say the above totally negates some valid studies showing no link. I say that there is a coverup because it has been shown to exist by numerous respected scientists and surgeons. Your house of cards depends on claptrap like the Melbye study, because “the ACS says it’s true.”

    That reminds me of comedian/actor Bob Saget’s old joke:

    It’s true! I read it!…I wrote it down…and then I read it!

  60. Lily
    December 16th, 2005 @ 7:41 pm

    Annie: Thanks so much for the kind words (though even my best friend would not use patient to describe me). But I am even more thankful for more information. I will follow up your link and try to inform myself better.

    Jody: I think your reading of the Lancet study pretty much is the same as mine. I think I understand it to be saying that it is hard to be sure of your outcomes/results, if some important pieces of your data come from the self-reporting of the sample. That seems self-evident to me, as I think it does to you.

    On another topic you wrote: The whole (obvious) point about holding people with discernible ideological affiliations at arm’s length is the likely selectivity of their data. Yes, it is obvious, isn’t it? So why do you believe that the pro-abortion crowd is any less biased than the anti-abortion crowd? It is not self-evident that their evidence is likely to be selective. At least not more so than that of researchers holding the popular opinion.

    You must know that scientists are not disinterested saints wanting only to uncover pure truth. The amount of outright lying and fudging of data in scientific studies that has been uncovered just in the last 5 years is staggering. Just today I read that the stem cell research of Hwang Woo-suk has been seriously challenged. While he denies fraud, he has agreed to retract the article he published last May because of a “critical error”. Examples can be multiplied endlessly.

    I honestly don’t mind your scepticism regarding the research of the pro-life crowd, just as long as you regard the research of the pro-choice crowd with more scepticism, since it is the position you agree with.

  • Basic Assumptions

    First, there is a God.

    Continue Reading...

  • Search

  • Quote of the Day

    • Fifty Random Links

      See them all on the links page.

      • No Blogroll Links