The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Holiday Appeal

December 1, 2005 | 88 Comments

December, again, and Christmas memories from a distant, innocent childhood haunt this atheist’s aching, empty heart.

When this spirit seizes me, I can see past the dogma, forgive the misguided messengers, and grasp the essential meaning of Christ’s birth. Before the feeling deserts me, I’d like to ask my readers, believers and skeptics alike, to come together for an important cause. Take a few minutes off from your shopping and forget the about the Xboxes and Ipods. Instead, look deep into your hearts and deeper into your wallets to do what Jesus would do:

Please give generously to Jill of Feministe’s holiday drive to finance elective second-trimester abortions.

Unfortunately, Santa’s bag isn’t full of forceps and none of his reindeer are named Dilation or Extraction. It’s up to you. I know I’ve been down on abortion in the past, but my objections concerned only the first and third trimester procedures. At four to six months, the fetus is neither too chewy nor too crunchy but, like Mama bear’s porridge, just right. Maybe my line-drawing seems a bit arbitrary to you, but of course it’s all arbitrary, mind-dependent and up to the conscience of every person.

So max out your Amex and give a present that you’ll never have to wrap (it gets red-bagged). And keep in mind, as Jill points out, “[t]he right to choose is meaningless if only middle and upper-income women, or women in the bluest states, have access to it.” Just as it’s hard to enjoy the pile of toys under the tree knowing that so many children are going without, well-off women find their second-trimester abortions unfulfilling unless they know the poor are also going without children. It’s all about the quality of life, and the quality suffers if the children of those people suddenly start swarming into your neighborhood.

Take care not to give too much, however. The right to choose also becomes meaningless if life is one of the choices. Putting these women in an economic position to keep the child is coercion. And it’s hopeless, anyway: as Jill notes, most of these women have “spent every penny they have on transportation, the procedure itself, and often childcare for their kids, who they have to leave at home.” So they have no money, which means no more food — ever — and even their existing children will be dead from starvation in two weeks. And even if they manage to eke out a living, they’re better off dead than experiencing the misery of childhood poverty in broken homes like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

So limit your contribution to around $2,000, the amount of the abortionist’s fee. If that’s too much, remember that no gift is too small. A mere $20 is enough to pluck off a tiny arm for the Little Drummer Boy if his own gets tired and he needs a spare.

And don’t let the Grinches steal Christmas! Jill links to an article containing this passage so you’ll know what they look like:

As we entered Parkmed Eastern Women’s Center, a scary nun and toothless old man divebombed Desiree, surrounding her like autograph-seekers, begging her not to kill her baby.

Ghouls! You’d think this was Halloween, not Christmas. As the article also notes, “[r]eal men and women raised with Roe have complex responses to abortion” — who needs fake men and women (with poor dental hygiene, no less) adding to the complexity by articulating the very issues that make it complex? In any event, you can rest assured that the clinic staff itself takes the decision very seriously and will provide thorough, non-judgmental counseling to make sure the woman really wants the abortion. Believe me –they’ll make sure she really wants it.

Comments

88 Responses to “Holiday Appeal”

  1. DHR
    December 1st, 2005 @ 3:44 am

    I seems the man has no part in the debate.

  2. Bill
    December 1st, 2005 @ 7:39 am

    I know that you hold some strong objections to abortion. Your ‘rant’ however leaves me none the wiser as to your precise position. I imagine that we would agree that it is a very complex and difficult issue. Each case where a woman may find herself with an unplanned child will have a unique set of circumstances. Here in the UK, where we have a national health service (such as it is), there remains a social divide in the choices made by women. The women from the higher earning/middle-class backgrounds are always much more likely to opt for an abortion than those from more socially deprived groups.
    Aspirations, as well as the ability to rationalise their actions, probably play a huge role in determining whether a woman chooses to have a baby or not and probably supplying money for abortions for lower income group women will ease the suffering of those choosing to have an abortion. Women from lower income groups, from my own experience here, do tend to view abortion as a last resort and often have great difficulty coming to terms with ‘what they’ve done’.
    I have always felt that abortion is a highly complex issue and it is very difficult to generalise. Women have a right to determine what happens to their own bodies. The problem is: At what point does the foetus also have a right to the woman’s body?
    I think some cases have to be viewed on an individual basis but how can you do that when the clock is ticking?
    It is a very difficult issue and causes a great deal of pain for some women but an outright ban is the worst option.

  3. Graham
    December 1st, 2005 @ 8:13 am

    Hehe…….satire at it’s finest, RA.

  4. SteveG
    December 1st, 2005 @ 8:16 am

    TRA,
    By far you greatest post ever!

    Bill:
    It’s really not that difficult, and the one to whom the greatest deal of pain is metted out is the unborn. Just take a look in your own backyard to see what’s going on….

    Times-Fifty babies a year are alive after abortion

    ….note that the article mentions that some 18 week old babies are born breathing and crying and survive the attempt on their life. But I thought 24 weeks was the outside limit for viabiltiy? At least that’s what most of the folks here assured me. The only thing complicated remaining is the contortions needed to justify this barbaric practice as science, medicine and technology show us more and more clearly WHO it is in the womb and continues to push the evnelope of viability further and further back.

  5. Bill
    December 1st, 2005 @ 8:48 am

    Steve G: I wouldn’t suggest that the practise of abortion is science. The issue is social (moral if you like) but not scientific. I only say the issue is full of problems. The one thing that we can be sure of is that while we live in a world where the spritual leader for 1.1 billion people says birth control is a mortal sin then we’re going to continue to see a lot of unwanted pregnancies (and aids/HIV sufferers). What do you suggest we do with the unwanted children that cannot or will not be cared for by their natural mothers?
    Please understand I am only seeking other opinions here, I have never been able to take a clear position on this issue due to the difficulties it poses.
    I once read a boook (unfortunately I cannot remember which one), writen in context of about 150 years ago, where a female ‘doctor’ was left to make the decision whether to save the mother or the breached, unborn child. The feeling of the father and mother was that the child should be saved because it was an innocent life but the father could not absolutely condemn his wife to death.
    The doctor chose to save the woman.
    The was a sense of relief in myself and within the characters of the book. The child was spared an upbringing without a mother and without the implied guilt of being responsible for her death. The husband still had his belived wife and they could go on to raise a family together.
    Who would you choose to save?
    As I said, I find the issue complex and difficult.

  6. JUST_ANOTHER_PRIMATE
    December 1st, 2005 @ 8:57 am

    UGH – commentaries like this will drive many of us to spend our time at other atheist/skeptic websites. Tired of abortion being legal in the US? Work on changing the laws.

  7. Rufus
    December 1st, 2005 @ 9:19 am

    Sorry, but I only donate to good causes when I’m promised something in return, like a limerick with my name in it.

  8. severalspecies
    December 1st, 2005 @ 9:22 am

    I smell strawman and/or false dichotomy here.

  9. SteveG
    December 1st, 2005 @ 9:47 am

    Steve G: I wouldn’t suggest that the practise of abortion is science. The issue is social (moral if you like) but not scientific.

    I don’t think I said that, or at least didn’t intend it. When I referred to science, I meant the scientific, and technical advances that continue to shed light on what that IT is that’s inside the womb (I am think in of things like recent innovations in sonogram technology, etc.) and continue to make abortion more and more indefensible.

    Several groups are already working on artificial wombs. When viability becomes an obsolete question, what then will be the justification?ne of the ones who ACTUALLY follow the Church’s teaching on contraception.

    The proscription on birth control is NOT causing unwanted pregnancies, or leading to abortions. Among Catholics estimates range from 4 to 25% who are actually following the teaching on contraception.

    Catholics in that group who take their faith seriously enough to actually follow this teaching aren’t usually if ever having ‘unwanted’ pregnancies. There’s a vastly different outlook for such folks. They generally welcome children as a blessing.

    Certainly, Catholics serious enough to follow this teaching aren’t aborting their babies. The two issues are not in the least ways related in the way you are trying to link them.

    What do you suggest we do with the unwanted children that cannot or will not be cared for by their natural mothers?

    This is a hard question, and needs a real answer. But regardless of the answer, the question is no different than asking what we are to do with the unwanted children not being cared for by their natural mothers who have already been born. The answer, whatever it is (and it’s not an easy one) is not to kill them because of the difficulty and inconvenience to society that they represent.

    Please understand I am only seeking other opinions here, I have never been able to take a clear position on this issue due to the difficulties it poses.

    I know I’ll take heat for this (as I always do), but this just doesn’t seem all that difficult to me. There is ONE, and only one question. Is the unborn person a human being or not. If it is, it’s right to life trumps the mothers right to terminate that life. If it’s not, then there’s no problem with abortion. It’s always seems rather simple to me.

    The was a sense of relief in myself and within the characters of the book. The child was spared an upbringing without a mother and without the implied guilt of being responsible for her death. The husband still had his belived wife and they could go on to raise a family together.

    See, this seems strange to me. ‘Spared’ from an upbringing without a mother? I wonder if people whose mother died in childbirth but have gone on to live happy, productive lives would have likewise wanted to be spared.

    It’s like saying that we are sparing the handicapped unborn baby from a life of limitations by aborting him/her. I’ve always wondered how that sounded to someone with a handicap.

    And if the day ever comes when a gene is identified that causes homosexuality, I wonder if the gay community will accept the rationale of a some religious nut who aborts a gay unborn child to ‘spare’ them from a homosexual life.

    This kind of logic seems to put a predetermined value (less value) on certain lives that is just begging to be abused.

    Who would you choose to save?

    Not having been in such a difficult situation, I can’t say with any assurance, but if pressed I suppose that I’d have to say my wife (assuming of course her wishes were not to the contrary, and assuming that it was I who had to make the choice). No one can be compelled to die for another person, even their own child. But that is vastly different, and by far the exception when talking about the actual reasons for abortion.

  10. Bill
    December 1st, 2005 @ 10:28 am

    SteveG: (Thanks for wading through the typos!) Interesting comments and I think they still leave some issues unanswered and I’ll still claim it to be a difficult, almost insoluable issue. (BTW the ‘spared’ comment was more a reflection of the slant of the novel than anything. Although I agreed)
    All the arguments you present are, of course, wholly valid and I think it only goes to demonstrate the complexities surrounding this issue. I don’t disagree with you. but…
    “Several groups are already working on artificial wombs. When viability becomes an obsolete question, what then will be the justification?ne of the ones who ACTUALLY follow the Church’s teaching on contraception” – I have been reading ‘Brave New World’ of late. Is that our future?
    I just don’t know. One big problem is that it is women that ‘pay the price’ of the unwanted pregnancy. There is a very problematic gender issue of achieving true equality. The current situation suggests that it will almost always be the woman left “holding the baby”. What do you say to a impoverished woman with poor prospects in life who has become pregnant by simply giving in to lust one evening? Remember the man has disappeared following this one night stand. Do you track him down through his DNA and have the child spend its life witnessing his/her parents blaming each other for its existence?
    This issue has always had me spinning in circles and I can’t say there is a ‘best’ outcome.
    There’s one thing I do believe though, we would be a lot further down the line to a solution if it wasn’t for the perpetual interference of sexually repressed, authoritarian theists.

  11. jahrta
    December 1st, 2005 @ 10:29 am

    For me it’s a no-brainer: I would always choose to save my wife over an unborn child or child whose pending birth threatened her life. Sure we’d grieve and there might be hard feelings, but eventually we’d get over it and try again. I don’t care if it’s not “PC” but my wife would mean a LOT more to me than a child that wasn’t even born yet. That’s not me being callous, but merely a function of my humanity: I’ve spent almost a decade in my wife’s company and love her dearly. It’s not the same kind of love you can have for a clump of cells or even a viable child that has just entered the world. That’s not to say I wouldn’t care about sacrificing it, but rather the choice would be clear to me. It would be like tossing away an internally flawless diamond in lieu of an uncut stone in the rough.

  12. franky
    December 1st, 2005 @ 11:04 am

    Has anyone here actually had to make a choice about abortion? What qualifies you to be making these claims (including you TRA). As someone who has actually had to grapple with this kind of decision I find it offensive that others can just up and discuss this situation. It’s all clear cut when you’re dealing with hypotheticals and what have you, but actually living through it is something else. I implore those who have actually been in that situation to speak up. Everyone else is just pissing in the wind and it’s aggravating.

  13. SteveG
    December 1st, 2005 @ 11:05 am

    “Several groups are already working on artificial wombs. When viability becomes an obsolete question, what then will be the justification?ne of the ones who ACTUALLY follow the Church’s teaching on contraception”

    Weird, this part of the comment got chopped up. I don’t think anything overly significant got lost other than the fact that I said that I was one of those 1.1 billion Catholics, and that I was one of the minority of that 1.1 billion who actually follows the Church’s teaching on contraception. Just wanted to clarify the messy comment.

    I have been reading ‘Brave New World’ of late. Is that our future?

    Good book, just finished it a few months back. I’d say that if we aren’t very careful to recognize the inherent value of every human life, but continue to commoditize (is that a word?) people for their parts, and value them based on their usefulness to society, that, or something like it is most assuredly where we are headed. The seeds for it have already been sown.

    I just don’t know. One big problem is that it is women that ‘pay the price’ of the unwanted pregnancy.

    Please remember, that except in the case of rape, the choice before the pregnancy occurs to engage in sex (the primary biological purpose of which is reproduction) comes with a certain amount of risk (even with contraception) that pregnancy could happen. If you REALLY don’t want to get pregnant, one can make the choice not to engage. Is that a hard choice, certainly, but is it harder then choosing to kill a human being?

    What do you say to a impoverished woman with poor prospects in life who has become pregnant by simply giving in to lust one evening?

    The same thing I’d say to the woman who already has a child for the same reason. I feel for you, I will help in any way I can, we as a society owe you and your child help to make it through your difficulty, etc., etc.

    What I won’t say is that she has anymore right to kill her unborn child than the woman I mention has a right to kill her born child.

    Do you track him down through his DNA and have the child spend its life witnessing his/her parents blaming each other for its existence?

    Look, I am not saying, nor can anyone promise that the un-aborted child will have a perfect and rosy life with no difficulties. Indeed they may face severe difficulties. This is a fact of life. We ALL face difficulties.

    But it is not our right to judge that these difficulties make that life unworthy of living. It IS a fundamental human right (upon which all other rights stem) that even that person born to a poor woman with no dad gets a shot at making a go of things.

    Many in those very circumstance have done just that, and risen far beyond expectations.

  14. SteveG
    December 1st, 2005 @ 11:11 am

    For me it’s a no-brainer: I would always choose to save my wife over an unborn child or child whose pending birth threatened her life.
    J
    Do you have kids? I ask because there’s some subtlety to this issue that you won’t be able to fully understand until you do. Mother’s usually by nature love and protect their children very fiercely. What if your wife told you in such a situation that she WANTED to save the child? Then what would you do? If it was purely my choice, it would probably be a no brainer, but a real life scenario is usually not that cut and dry.

  15. SteveG
    December 1st, 2005 @ 11:17 am

    Has anyone here actually had to make a choice about abortion? What qualifies you to be making these claims (including you TRA). As someone who has actually had to grapple with this kind of decision I find it offensive that others can just up and discuss this situation. It’s all clear cut when you’re dealing with hypotheticals and what have you, but actually living through it is something else.

    I find this kind of garbage the most empty of rhetoric. Most of us have not been raped, or murderd either. Shall we refrain from talking about the morality of those issues? This claim that only those ‘affected’ (however one defines that) can talk about an issue is nonsense.

    In addition, we ALL have been involved in such situations. The fact that we’ve ALL had to pass through the stage at which we could have been aborted gives us as much right to talk about this as the woman who has chosen to abort.

    I implore those who have actually been in that situation to speak up. Everyone else is just pissing in the wind and it’s aggravating.

    How do you define having ‘been in this situation’? My wife and I have had three pregnancies so far. Do I pass muster? Does she (she chose under you definition of choice, it’s just that she chose not to abort)? Or is it only women who have chosen to have an abortion who get to speak? What are the rules here that you want followed.

  16. franky
    December 1st, 2005 @ 11:36 am

    SteveG,
    Nothing stops you from opining on the morality of murders, rapes, etc. Nothing stops you from opining on the morality of abortions either. My “empty rhetoric” is a pet peeve with reagards to abortion because I have been in a situation where I had to decide whether or not to pursue that option. I was 19, in college and was in a situation where abortion was a “viable solution”. I feel that as someone who has actually had to wrestle with that issue, that I am more qualified to be opining on abortion.

    Your wife and you have had three pregnancies and that’s great. But were they at the most opportune times? Did you have a job? Was abortion an option for you or not? Was adoption an alternative?

    For the record, my wife and I decided not to get an abortion, but it was not a decision that we came to overnight.

    I didn’t mean that only women that have had abortions can speak about it, I mean women who have been in a situation with an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy and who at that time seriously contemplated having an abortion. Maybe they decided to have an abortion, maybe they decided to give the child up for adoption, or maybe in the end she kept the child. What about the fathers who have had to wrestle with that situation as well? What are they’re thoughts on the matter?

    I can’t enforce any rules SteveG, I was just airing my grievances, that’s all.

  17. SteveG
    December 1st, 2005 @ 11:51 am

    My “empty rhetoric” is a pet peeve with reagards to abortion because I have been in a situation where I had to decide whether or not to pursue that option. I was 19, in college and was in a situation where abortion was a “viable solution”. I feel that as someone who has actually had to wrestle with that issue, that I am more qualified to be opining on abortion.

    Anyone who has had children understands the daunting task that looms before them and the overwhelming responsibility that the situation imposes.

    There are folks who I know personally who were in almost the same situation you describe (my brother) when they got pregnant and they never consider abortion for an instant. Does that make them less qualified to speak on the topic?

    Are you suggesting that only those in tough circumstances who actually consider abortion are qualified to speak? Do you not see how ridiculous that is? It may be a pet peeve, but it’s an awfully silly one.

    For the record, my wife and I decided not to get an abortion, but it was not a decision that we came to overnight.

    That’s wonderful! And how old is your child now? I hate to hit so hard, but have you connected the dots and realized that what you were considering was the literal killing of that one and the same child whom you now know and love? The clump of cells was not a different being, but the same one at an earlier stage in the continuum of their life.

    I didn’t mean that only women that have had abortions can speak about it, I mean women who have been in a situation with an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy and who at that time seriously contemplated having an abortion.

    That’s lunacy. Again using the earlier analogy are only those who’ve seriously consider raping a woman qualified to speak about it’s morality? That’s the equivalent of what you are saying.

    If anything, the person who’s considered abortion, or had an abortion in some respects is the least qualified to speak on it. They have too much bias at that point to objectively consider the morality of it.

  18. franky
    December 1st, 2005 @ 12:06 pm

    SteveG,
    If anything, the person who’s considered abortion, or had an abortion in some respects is the least qualified to speak on it. They have too much bias at that point to objectively consider the morality of it.
    Not necessarily. Some of the most outspoken critics of abortions that I’ve seen have come from people who have had one and regret it. Hearing their reasons why always hit close to home for me at least.

    I hate to hit so hard, but have you connected the dots and realized that what you were considering was the literal killing of that one and the same child whom you now know and love?

    There is a lot of emotional rhetoric on both sides of this issue, i.e. that quote above. And yes, I have connected the dots. But at the same time, what my wife and I did was extremely difficult and without the proper resources, many children would not have ended up as well adjusted as my kids are (not that we were perfect parents, far from it, , but at the very least they had food, shelter and etc). So I do in fact still am for abortion in ceratin limited cases.

    Also, your analogy is flawed with regards to rape. But I will admit that asking only those affected by it is too narrow and counter-productive. It’s just that with my own personal experience with the issue I get emotionally involved and as such say the first thing on my mind. Thanks for the discourse however, this has been very informative.

  19. Jennifer
    December 1st, 2005 @ 12:30 pm

    Holy Shit! I can’t breath!

  20. franky
    December 1st, 2005 @ 12:34 pm

    Jennifer,
    huh?

  21. SteveG
    December 1st, 2005 @ 12:46 pm

    She’s hyperventilating because she detests my position on abortion so deeply.

  22. franky
    December 1st, 2005 @ 12:48 pm

    Oh, I see.

  23. SteveG
    December 1st, 2005 @ 12:58 pm

    Then again, it could be TRA post itself, but it boils down to the same thing.

  24. jahrta
    December 1st, 2005 @ 2:03 pm

    Hello Steve

    If my wife asked me to choose the life of an unborn child over her own, I would not even entertain the notion of complying with that request, given the circumstances put forth in the scenario mentioned earlier, as I would not let her kill herself under any other circumstances (with the possible exception of the prospect of a prolonged battle with a terminal illness).

    My wife has told me on numerous occasions that she would not want an abortion (under normal circumstances), but when pressed with questions such as “what if we knew there was something wrong with it at an early stage in its development,” I am met with “it depends.” I can only hope that if she knew that a pregnancy posed a clear and present danger to her well-being that she’d come to her senses and abort it. It would not be an act of my insensitivity to her needs to go against her wishes in the scenario above as much as I would be acting in her best interest, safeguarding her well-being.

  25. SteveG
    December 1st, 2005 @ 2:50 pm

    I see, so it’s freedom of choice as long as she chooses as you’d like her to. How very paternal of you. ;-)

  26. hermesten
    December 1st, 2005 @ 4:38 pm

    “I see, so it’s freedom of choice as long as she chooses as you’d like her to. How very paternal of you. ;-)”

    What a hypocritical and petty trivialization of what Jahrta had to say. And then there’s this:

    “If anything, the person who’s considered abortion, or had an abortion in some respects is the least qualified to speak on it.”

    And almost all you guys come here wondering why we atheists have such animosity to Christians and Christianity. Just listen to yourself: nasty AND irrational. This may be a deviation from your usual tone, but it’s representative of what we expect, and usually get, from Christians.

  27. SteveG
    December 1st, 2005 @ 4:48 pm

    herm,
    Really, calm down. Why so sensitive?

    I probably wasn’t clear, but I was countering the claim that franky was making by offering something equally ridiculous. I wasn’t seriously suggesting that as something I support. I think everybody has every right to spout off about these issue regardless of their experience.

    And as for my response to jahrta, what exactly is hypocritical about the comment? You may not like it, fine. But it’s true as far as it goes. He flat out said, he’d go against his wife’s choice to save the baby if he had to. What is petty, or incorrect about pointing that out?

  28. Jody Tresidder
    December 1st, 2005 @ 4:59 pm

    SteveG,
    Jahrta clearly stated that, when pressed, his wife had not given a complete answer to the question of whether her life should be saved in preference to that of their hyopthetical unborn child in the hypothetical situation. Therefore, his decision would be his honest response to her ambiguously expressed preference in a terrible situation.
    Therefore, your summary of his words was indeed petty. Also stupid, rude and provocative. And therefore pretty much on the same level as RA’s original festive post.

  29. SteveG
    December 1st, 2005 @ 5:05 pm

    Jody,
    You might want to actually read the exchange. I asked him a specific question regarding what he would do if his wife specifically told him she WANTED to save the child instead (post #14). He answered that he’d contradict her choice. His answer is very clear on that, and it was in response to my question (I assume), not the hypothetical.

    Sorry that some of you seem to be unable to handle a few people touching your sacred cow of abortion.

  30. Sternwallow
    December 1st, 2005 @ 5:26 pm

    While the questions posed above are very difficult and complicated, one of the main components of them represents an unnecessary confounding addition. The notion that an unborn child or fetus or blastula is a human and so has the same rights as a newborn is not supported by those who advocate this position. They point to the non-existent line between a child one minute old and a child one minute before birth. They claim, with much reason, that there is no logical distinction between the rights of the two children. By simple induction, the argument passes backward all to way to conception. However, and this is the key to rejecting this approach to the issue of human rights for the unborn, they do not actually believe the argument. This is shown by the telling absence of tiny funerals for, not only the deliberate abortions, but the many times more frequent natural abortions (roughly 80% of conceptions abort naturally, a great many of them without the mother even knowing it has happened). Are these cell clusters, yet unborn, humans or not?
    A related question, what about the rights of the unconceived? How should we decide between the lucky few who grabbed the brass ring and the thousands more who reached for it and missed? I sometimes wonder what my sister would have been like. It seems unfair that she never had a chance at life just because I was conceived instead of her.

  31. Jody Tresidder
    December 1st, 2005 @ 5:44 pm

    SteveG,
    So at #11 jahrta said it was a “no brainer” to save his wife rather than his child.
    So you asked at #14: what if your wife said save the child, not me?
    So at #25 jahrta restates his wife always comes first ALSO BECAUSE she has never properly answered the question. In other words, he is making two statements. You chose to mock one.

    Frankly, sacred cows CAN generally stand a good kicking. But it should be done with some skill.

  32. SteveG
    December 1st, 2005 @ 9:13 pm

    Jody:
    In #11 Jahrta answered no brainer to one hypothetical posed by bill.
    In #14 I flat out asked him another, more specific question.
    In #25 he answered in part 1 very clearly that he would NOT respect her choice.
    In #25 he set up a new hypothetical and spoke on that.

    I ‘mocked’, as you say, the answer to my question in part 1 because I find it worthy of such.

    It’s simply amazing to me the dedication shown to ‘choice’, except in this case when the choice (in MY hypothetical, not his) is not what one approves of. I point that out and its considered mean, stupid, rude, and provocative?

    Why its’ stupid (it’s a statement of fact), or rude (I did’t say it in a particularly nasty manner) is beyond me.

    Why you find it provocative I understand. Because it’s true, and you don’t like it being held up to the light.

    You can continue to play this game of trying to import more ill will on my part than was ever intended, or you can just admit that you were wrong in this and misread and misinterpreted the exchange (which I am even willing to admit I might bear partial responsibility for), but I am finished defending myself on this particular item because of your hypersensitivity on the subject.

  33. darwinfish
    December 1st, 2005 @ 10:26 pm

    can I have your abortion?

  34. Waiting to Adopt
    December 1st, 2005 @ 10:39 pm

    Why has no one mentioned adoption here as a solution to the problem of caring for unwanted children? Just because a woman gives birth does not mean she needs to feel compelled to parent. Adoption is not a perfect solution, but it’s one that both pro-choice and pro-life advocates fail to mention. And with one in six U.S. couples being infertile, there’s a large number of prospective adoptive families out there.

    In the situation where the birthfather disappeared after a one-night stand, in many states as long as due diligence is followed to locate him (by name if the birthmother knows it, by checking a putative father registry, which many states have, etc.), his rights can be terminated. An unknown birthfather means more hoops have to be jumped through, but it’s not a barrier to adoption.

  35. Debbie
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 12:07 am

    Another tiresome anti-abortion post from RA. He miss-characterizes the views of those who disagree with him and then mocks their imagined ‘position’.

    When he stared doing this many months ago a number of posters listed specific scenarios for him to address that were a consequence of his oft stated position that life begins at conception and thus any intervention would be murder no different to killing an adult. He compared those who disagree with him as valuing a fetus in the same way as someone trimming their fingernails.

    Although he has often promised to respond to the serious issues on this subject, all we get is the same old crap.

  36. PhalsePhrophet
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 1:25 am

    I cannot fathom any way in hell that any person, god, or government could force me to carry a pregnancy to term against my will. I alone will choose whether or not the fetus is a cause for celebration or a call for pest control.
    And though I said it once before, it bears repeating: Until a female has the choice to drop off an unwanted parasite/zygote/fetus/unborn child/potential life with life’s potential at the unwanted parasite/zygote/fetus/unborn child/potential life with life’s potential reception center with no questions asked, abortion is a necessary tool. Of course this choice must involve a painless, no risk procedure to extract, house, nourish and protect the now wanted un-aborted; all at no cost to the woman. If criminal repercussions were involved, how could she logically not choose this procedure over an abortion?
    While contraception, abstinence, and even legislation are sometimes useful tools in the un-wanted pregnancy battle, it is ludicrous to think that every single female, in every country, under all circumstances, will be able to avoid becoming pregnant. Un-wanted pregnancies are going to happen. When they do happen, regardless of our opinion, only the pregnant have the ultimate authority to decide. I say we let them.

  37. bill
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 7:24 am

    SteveG, looking at some of the more recent posts from female visitors, do you see what I mean about this being a complex issue? One of the biggest difficulties is that abortion issues have always been determined by men in a patriachal society. I feel that, as a man, I cannot be so arrogant as to presume I can lead the debate on this issue. I believe women have first rights to determine what happens to their own bodies, don’t you?
    Woman’s rights have always taken second place throughout human history, mostly as a result of religious ‘morals’. So how can I as a man say to a woman she has to carry, give birth to and then look after an unwanted child? To give up any future she may have been working towards because of a momentary ‘mistake’?
    Also you made the common argument of suggesting that by aborting a foetus we are killing off the potential of another human being that may go on to be a great person leading a frutful life. What about the pregnant woman’s life? Giving birth to an unwanted child, more often than not resigns that woman to giving up on any kind of career or education. Again, who’s life do you choose?

  38. SteveG
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 8:37 am

    SteveG, looking at some of the more recent posts from female visitors, do you see what I mean about this being a complex issue?

    I freely admit that it is an emotionally charged issue, and that certainly complicates the discussion. However, at the heart of the matter, no I don’t see that it’s any more complex in reality.

    The fundamental question remains whether it is a human being in the womb or not.

    If it is, no amount of emotional appeals to circumstance need apply as justification. If it is a human being, such justifications are no more valid than trying to justify the taking of the life of any other born innocent person.

    If it’s not a human being in the womb, then no amount of emotional pleading is needed, because there is no moral issue at that point.

    I feel that, as a man, I cannot be so arrogant as to presume I can lead the debate on this issue.

    It’s not about arrogance, nor about gender. As a human being who has traveled the same continuum as the being we are talking about ‘disposing of’, I feel compelled to speak out against what I believe to be the taking of another human beings life.

    I remain utterly unmoved by such appeals as this that I should keep silent on this issue because I am a man. I am a human being as well and therefore will speak on the human condition when it warrants.

    I believe women have first rights to determine what happens to their own bodies, don’t you?

    I don’t have a problem with that proposition generically speaking. The problem is when their body is defined to include another separate human entity. I could just as easily ask ‘The unborn child has first rights to determine what happens to THEIR own bodies, don’t you?’

    Also you made the common argument of suggesting that by aborting a foetus we are killing off the potential of another human being that may go on to be a great person leading a frutful life. What about the pregnant woman’s life? Giving birth to an unwanted child, more often than not resigns that woman to giving up on any kind of career or education. Again, who’s life do you choose?

    Again, apply your same questions to a born child in the same circumstances as the unborn child (poverty, unwanted, etc.). Here, I’ll do it for you….

    What about the mother’s life? Taking care of an unwanted child more often than not resigns that woman to giving up on any kind of career or education.

    …OK, now let me ask if your solution of terminating the unborn life is something we should also give to mother’s of born children as an option? Should she be able to terminate the born child’s life? Do you see how shallow and hollow those justifications sound when we are able to more easily recognize the stakes?

    The mother’s career and educational opportunities are not insignificant things; however, when weighed against the value of another human life, they are miniscule and I have no compunction about saying they simply have no place in the discussion of whether killing an unborn child is justifiable or not.

    It may seem that I am casting aside her prospects. But I’d do the same if someone tried to persuade me that a father should be allowed to kill off his children so that he could fulfill his career and educational goals. It just rings so hollow.

    In addition, you posit this as an either or situation. Somebody has already mentioned adoption as one alternative. I am sure that there are other possibilities that a compassionate society could come up with if it valued human life enough to do so. It isn’t necessarily a choice between the child and the mother’s future as you frame it.

  39. bill
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 9:39 am

    SteveG: “I could just as easily ask ‘The unborn child has first rights to determine what happens to THEIR own bodies, don’t you?”
    I have to disagree here, its not the same. The foetus is dependant on the mother for its life support. It is not independent. This is central to the issue.
    And you also said – “…OK, now let me ask if your solution of terminating the unborn life is something we should also give to mother’s of born children as an option? Should she be able to terminate the born child’s life? Do you see how shallow and hollow those justifications sound when we are able to more easily recognize the stakes?”
    In answer please see my comments above, you cannot so simply equate an independent life with that of a foetus..
    I appreciate your other comments and that they clarify your position.
    As I have stated before I have great difficulty determing exactly how I feel about this issue. I do not wholly advocate abortion but I cannot say that a woman does not have the right to remove the life support her body provides for an unborn child either.
    I think I will always remain torn on this issue.

  40. Jody Tresidder
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 9:47 am

    SteveG wrote: “It’s not about arrogance, nor about gender. As a human being who has traveled the same continuum as the being we are talking about ‘disposing of’, I feel compelled to speak out against what I believe to be the taking of another human beings life. ”

    And I acknowledge your compulsion, your right to speak and I grasp the contours of your argument – while rejecting your premise. But the biological fact that you are incapable of personally facing the possibility of abortion is not trivial. You will never be more than theoretically – or dogmatically, if you prefer – sure of your position.

  41. bill
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 9:54 am

    SteveG: I had also meant to query why you have avoided tackling the gender politics involved. It is most definitely not a side issue and has to be addressed.
    Also I didn’t say men had to be silent, I only suggested that men should not presume to lead the debate – a very different point. In fact I only really spoke for myself, as a man.
    I appreciate you feel passionately about this issue, I am only trying to clarify to you my difficulty in being absolutist about it.

  42. Thorngod
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 10:22 am

    I pose a problem for the faint of heart: Of the next thousand humans to be injected into the world, half will endure extreme hardship throughout their lives, several dozen will be born with severe mental and physical handicaps, as many others will starve to death, and about fifty of them will be tortured, either by a parent or some other feind, throughout their childhoods, some tortured to death. Suppose the choice were yours to either admit this thousand beings into existence or to leave them uncreated. And you understand, I trust, that since these thousand beings do not yet exist, they cannot care either way. … Now, you will justifiably point out to me that your concern is with a living fetus and not a non-existent entity. Granted. And my question to you who are atheists, and so do not believe in “souls,” is this: Why, given the facts presented in my opening, would you object to abortion–at least before the third trimester? The gory images evoked by objectors are mostly exaggerated, and, in any case, the effect on the viewer’s emotions has no correspondence to the actual experience of the embryo. Does any one of you imagine that in the brain of a human embryo there is any concept of love or loyalty, that the embryo entertains ambitions of any sort, or that it has any idea of the meaning of “death”? Do you truly think that the pain of death experienced by the aborted embryo is greater than the fear/pain of a measles vaccination to a 5-year-old? … Is your objection rather the cancellation of a life that will now not be realized? Do you also lament the non-realization of the countless possible lives from pairings of sperm and ova that might have occurred but did not? Had Einstein, Gandhi, Jesus or Genghis Kahn never been born, the world would not have cared. There is no reality, and no meaningfulness, in “what might have been.” … But I think your discomfort concerning abortion is probably more visceral. And that visceral repulsion to the idea of eliminating a human life is one that all worthy humans have. We should not take abortion lightly. I am sure that most women who have abortions do not. But what is the moral weight of the killing of a relatively insensate fetus as against the human trauma caused by so many fools who ignore traffic stop lights and highway speed limits? Why are so many people so intensely opposed to eliminating entities that have virtually no mind, no personality, and no human sensibilities, when nurturing them into childhood will condemn so many of them to suffer such cruel existences? … I do not like abortion. I do not like killing mice, either. But I like far less the fact that millions of children endure life-long hunger and abuse, and that at least five million of them starve to death every year. Measured agains that inhumanity, the practice of abortion is almost a frivolity.

  43. kmisho
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 10:33 am

    My problem with anti-abortion is the misuse of ‘life’ language. I have never met an anti-abortionist whose real concern is ‘life’ but every one I have ever met says it is about ‘life.’ This is cheesy, unclear rhetoric and a dirty trick.

    If it was really about ‘life’ then you shouldn’t kill flies or spiders or mice or rats in your house. They are alive, after all. You can’t eat either, no one can, not even self-righteous vegetarians. Lettuce and peanuts are also alive. Vegetarians simply reveal a prejudice against plant-‘life’.

    Considering this, once reject that it is about life, then what is it about? It’s about a preference for certain types of life. You can be an anti-abortionist of human life. I as an atheist cannot entertain this position as valid. Humans are not more important than other types of life. We are important to ourselves, but so are other lifeforms among themslves. As SJ Gould said, “Treefrogs think other treefrogs are the bee’s knees.”

    Next, you can interject an Ayn Randian element and be an anti-abortionist of sentient life. This makes more sense, but how many people seriously argue that dolphins and bonobos and parrots should not be allowed abortions but other animals should? Ultimately, this kind of anti-abotionism suffers from the same subjective prejudice or preference that anti-human-abortion suffers from.

    It’s very difficult to go past this without getting to the ‘no one is allowed to eat because everything we eat is/was alive’ argument. Go A little farther and we’re back to plant-prejudice. Reject plant-prejudice and we’re stuck with a moral obligation to kill nothing.

    Considering all these schemes, which are clearly from atheistic perspective, I find myself unable to defend anti-abortionism.

  44. SteveG
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 10:47 am

    Jody,
    But the biological fact that you are incapable of personally facing the possibility of abortion is not trivial. You will never be more than theoretically – or dogmatically, if you prefer – sure of your position.
    I think there is some truth in describing it this way, but I am not sure it has any bearing or validity of the argument.
    I’d also like to ask a couple question to draw this out because I find it interesting.
    Since I am a father, does that give me ANY more standing? I have been part of the creation of the new life. It’s true that I won’t sustain it for the nine months, but doesn’t my contribution give me ‘some’ stake beyond a simple theoretical one? Certainly, society thinks the father has a stake once the child is born and rightly requires at a minimum child support, and hopefully more from a father whether he wanted the child or not.
    Would you likewise say that an infertile woman is in the same position as I am with regard to being only theoretically sure?
    Is a woman who hasn’t yet become pregnant any better off than I am? While she has the possibility of becoming pregnant, until that happens, she can only imagine it. Is that woman in the same position as I am?
    It’s not by choice that I can’t bear children. It’s simply what nature, God, or whatever you call it has thrust on me. I can say with as much honesty as my ‘theoretical’ position will allow, that if I could save one unborn baby from an abortion by being able to carry it in my body, I’d do it without a second thought.

  45. SteveG
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 10:58 am

    I have to disagree here, its not the same. The foetus is dependant on the mother for its life support. It is not independent. This is central to the issue.

    I am not sure how this is central. All children are dependent on outside sources for life support. There is no difference in that fact, only in the fact of who that caregiver is or can be.

    In answer please see my comments above, you cannot so simply equate an independent life with that of a foetus.

    It can be regarded as independent as the newborn, two minute old baby. Because the umbilical cord has been cut, the baby is no more cable of surviving independently than the foetus. If the baby was left to fend for itself, society would rightly say, who is responsible here? Someone, pick that baby up and feed it, cover it, change it and clean it. In that case, we as a society can intervene when the mother, or the hospital, etc. fail to take up the charge. It is not the fault of the child that during gestation the only person who can provide for it is the mother.

  46. kmisho
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 11:00 am

    As Raving Atheist ever explained his position regarding anti-abortion here?

    I’d like to see a non-religious person explain why human life is valuable over other life, excluding the self-important assumption that ‘things like ME are valuable.’

    (In reality, this is the crux of the religious arguments as well. Replace ‘God’ with ‘I’.)

  47. SteveG
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 11:01 am

    SteveG: I had also meant to query why you have avoided tackling the gender politics involved. It is most definitely not a side issue and has to be addressed.

    I don’t think I’ve been avoiding it. I understand it, but as I indicated to Jody in my last response, I just think the relevance of it may be quite overblown.

    I appreciate you feel passionately about this issue, I am only trying to clarify to you my difficulty in being absolutist about it.

    I understand that as well, and even sympathize. Likewise, I am only trying to clarify my own position and why I am absolutist about it.

  48. SteveG
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 11:31 am

    Kmisho:
    It’s a nice semantics game you are trying to play. Actually, no it’s not, it’s a silly semantics game. When pro-life people use the term, the ‘human’ part is implied, because believe it or not, we do see a human life as being of greater value than other forms of life. I think that fundamental premise a rather common sense one that even a good atheist can embrace (putting aside abortion for a minute).

    Considering this, once reject that it is about life, then what is it about? It’s about a preference for certain types of life.

    And so what? If materialism is right, it is the most natural thing in the world to prefer the type of life of which one is a species over all others. Why is that a bad thing, whether it stems from a religious or non-religious source?

    You can be an anti-abortionist of human life.

    Again, this is patently obvious in the discussion to apparently everyone but you. I have no idea why you wasted 3 paragraphs explaining this to everyone.

    I as an atheist cannot entertain this position as valid. Humans are not more important than other types of life.

    And with this I can not argue. If you REALLY believe this, then there is not a lot that can be said. At this point we are living in utterly different
    universes.

    We are important to ourselves, but so are other lifeforms among themslves. As SJ Gould said, “Treefrogs think other treefrogs are the bee’s knees.”

    And that’s enough. If a tree frog can think other treefrogs more valuable than all the rest, I don’t find it odd that a human can find other human beings more valuable. And on that basis it’s totally sensible to talk about what constitutes a human life and how/if that should be protected (regardless of who’s correct in this particular case).

    suffers from the same subjective prejudice or preference that anti-human-abortion suffers from.

    Please tell me that most atheist here don’t think that preferring human life (forget abortion for a minute) is a ‘prejudice’ on humanities part in the sense meant here? Please, please tell me we all at least live on the same planet.

  49. hermesten
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 11:45 am

    “Sorry that some of you seem to be unable to handle a few people touching your sacred cow of abortion.”

    I guess maybe it feels good to believe this, but abortion isn’t a sacred cow to me. I generally support it, with restrictions, but other than as an aspect of the principle of personal autonomy and justice, as they say down south: “I don’t have a dog in this fight.”

    Personally, if all abortion in the US was made illegal today, it would have no affect on me and mine, whatsoever. I can afford to send anyone I personally care about out of the country to get an abortion, and the likelihood that this would ever be a necessary or chosen alternative is remote in the extreme, since I would counsel and assist any loved one in this situation to not have an abortion.

    Frankly, I haven’t entered into this discussion because I’m already bored with it, and it’s pointless anyway. No one is going to be persuaded to change their minds by anything said here on this subject. Most people have a tendency to support only those rights for which they can imagine an interest for themselves. They are indifferent, or even happy, to abrogate the rights of other people.

    This is one of the reasons why we have drug laws, flag desecration laws, and constitutional amendments against homosexual marriage: these involve minority rights the majority can do without. Abortion is legal because there is no large or clear majority to make it illegal, since many people may be affected by unwanted pregnancies or concerns about serious birth defects.

  50. EclecticGuru
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 11:52 am

    Drawing the line at “conception” is a convenient choice for men, as it relieves them of having the State taking control of their body when it comes to reproductive issues.

    Some people believe that masturbation is immoral, and arguably so, as each sperm has the potential to become an integral, needed “ingredient” in an individual human life .. equal to, if not more so, than the presence of a woman’s womb.

    Seriously, if this issue was about a man’s right to masturbate, would you really be so quick to turn control over your own bodies to the State?

    Because that is essentially what this debate is about. Giving the State control over someone’s body. You may disagree that a fetus is not a part of someone’s body — but what happens when someone disagrees with you about your sperm?

    There is no way I am going to sit back and give the State the right to control my sperm. I would be a hypocrite if I did not at least acknowledge the validity of a woman’s desire to control her body in a similar way.

    I would be horrified if someone mocked me for my desire to keep the State out of regulating what I did or didn’t do with my body. It would make me very angry, in the first place, that people wanted to meddle in my personal business to such an extent, and I would be pissed off if they made it the central moral issue in politics.

    When it comes to questions of whether to give rights to the State or to give rights to the individual, I will choose to err on the side of the individuals. And I understand that part of the anti-abortion argument is that the fetus is an “individual” that needs the State to protect it. That is a debatable point.

    It is also debatable that the state has interest in preserving my sperm.

    I choose to uphold the right of a person over his own body, over the imperative of the State to protect things/people that some/many people believe have full or partial rights as a human being.

    This is my personal political and philosophical decision, and if you want to convince or sway me to change my views on abortion, you should stop worrying so much about where the “line” is drawn between a fetus and a child, and address where the line is drawn between a State’s interest versus an individual’s rights.

  51. bill
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 11:58 am

    SteveG: I have found the discussions informative but I am concerned that you do not view the rights of women as central to the issue.
    You say “I don’t think I’ve been avoiding it. I understand it, but as I indicated to Jody in my last response, I just think the relevance of it may be quite overblown.”
    How far do you think it is overblown? At what point do you think it appropriate to dictate to a woman what she may or may not do with her own body? At the point of conception? During the first three months of pregnancy? Or does it go right back to her manner of dress? Her deference to her male betters throughout her life? Must she remain a virgin until married off to a suitable husband? At what point does the woman get to control her own life? Does she ever get to control her own life?
    I fear that by relegating gender to being a secondary issue you are failing to acknowledge something that I think is in fact fundamental to the debate. I think that as a religious man it is very convenient for you to ignore it.
    I pursue this issue because I feel very strongly that, throughout history, women have been abused by men and treated shamefully, without regard to their own right to self-determination. Much of this abuse has been supported and driven by religious ideology and I am not sure that the current debate is not more about the control of women and fertility than it is about the sanctity of the unborn child. I feel the woman is yet again being placed second to the (male) ideologies at work here.

  52. Jody Tresidder
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 12:09 pm

    SteveG,
    I also find this part of the debate interesting – because biology cannot be produced as a trump card ON ITS OWN (two statements in one there, Steve, which is important).
    I accept you are entirely sincere when you write:”I can say with as much honesty as my ‘theoretical’ position will allow, that if I could save one unborn baby from an abortion by being able to carry it in my body, I’d do it without a second thought.”
    However, to quote Christine Keeler (cliche from the UK Profumo scandal) “he would say that, wouldn’t he?”.
    Your status as an involved father certainly informs your position – no question – but it cannot change the fact that God/Nature has made you physically ineligible to be at the sharp end of your profoundly held belief.
    Your comments suggest you view the pregnant woman as a divided self? My non-trivial point about gender in the abortion debate is that a woman may start from a different position by virtue of her biology.
    And, yes, an infertile or never-been-pregnant woman is still a biologically different kettle of fish compared to a man.
    (That last sentence is so awful I’ve become fond of it!)

  53. SteveG
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 12:17 pm

    I guess maybe it feels good to believe this, but abortion isn’t a sacred cow to me.

    It wasn’t about feeling good. I made a comment that was interpreted a lot more harshly than it was intended and I got an extremely strong reaction from a couple folks (you included), and it seemed strange to me.

    No one is going to be persuaded to change their minds by anything said here on this subject.

    I think that’s both true and untrue. No one here, today is going to be moved off their position, but people learn new things, hear new ideas, etc. and change their mind on issues all the time. It usually doesn’t happen in the course of a conversation that’s for sure, but it’s a good thing (in my estimation) if all our ideas are put into the crucible to burn of the weaknesses.

  54. jahrta
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 12:38 pm

    Seems I missed quite a bit over the past few days.

    SteveG, for what it’s worth, your comments didn’t offend overtly, nor do I think they were meant to. One thing I can say with absolute certainty, however, is that I answered honestly, no matter how unpleasant it may have sounded. If you think I was being unclear or misleading in my answer, let me know why and in what respect, and I will clarify my position.

    Like most people, I find abortion an undesireable option, but one which is necessary and defensible to say the least, especially in extreme cases such as rape, incest, or where the health of the mother is endangered. If that right is taken away from women then we may as well tell them they can’t vote anymore, and that they should stay home and cook dinner for the menfolk.

  55. Abby
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 12:53 pm

    I won’t weigh in on the issue of abortion directly because SteveG is doing that ably. But I do want to speak to the point Bill made about men not leading the debate.

    Let me state plainly that I am a woman, lest there be any doubt. I abhor the argument that men cannot be certain about their position on abortion or any other “woman’s issue”. Jody wrote:

    “But the biological fact that you are incapable of personally facing the possibility of abortion is not trivial. You will never be more than theoretically – or dogmatically, if you prefer – sure of your position.”

    This is simply not true just as the converse is not true. There is more than one pro-abortion woman walking on this planet who, when faced with her own unwanted pregnancy, decided not to abort.

    Steve can be sure of his position. What he cannot be sure of is how hard it might be to stay true to it, if faced with some horrendously ill-timed pregnancy. That is true of me, of course too. What I am as certain of, as it is humanly possible to be, is that I would not abort. It might cost me misery and sorrow and all sorts of missed oportunities but so what? How does that stack up against a baby’s life?

    I also hate the argument that Bill put forth that while men don’t have to be silent, they should not lead in this discussion and, presumably, others of “women’s issues”. Men are full and equal members of the human race and have as much stake in children and what is best for them and for society as women do. Our laws have largely succeeded in making fathers expendable in children’s lives, which is why men come off so badly in custody cases and can, via the courts, be removed completely from their lives, so easily. We need to stop this for all our sakes.

  56. Jody Tresidder
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 1:15 pm

    SteveG,
    I’m still waiting for RA’s approval for my comment to your previous.

  57. Viole
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 1:34 pm

    “There is more than one pro-abortion woman walking on this planet who, when faced with her own unwanted pregnancy, decided not to abort.”

    Why Abby, I do believe you just called women who support abortion rights, but don’t get abortions themselves, hypocrites.

  58. Abby
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 1:40 pm

    LOL! Good one, Viole. For those who don’t get the joke– nobody supposes that every female supporter of abortion is obliged to abort every pregnancy of her own. Thank heavens.

  59. hermesten
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 2:25 pm

    Viole, most people, and it would seem, especially conservatives, simply cannot conceive of, or accept, the concept that there are people who act on principle, even when it does not further their own self-interest, or injures it.

    Hence, if you are against the war on drugs, you must be a long-haired pot-smoking liberal who wants cheaper marijuana. If you’re for homosexual marriage, you must be a homosexual, or some liberal prevert out to subvert Amerika. If you’re against random police searches, vehicle stops, etc, you must have something to hide. If you’re against the war in Iraq, you must support Saddam. And the people who are, say, libertarians, are people who do drugs and have perverted sex while watching pornography.

  60. kmisho
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 3:24 pm

    Kmisho:
    It’s a nice semantics game you are trying to play. Actually, no it’s not, it’s a silly semantics game. When pro-life people use the term, the ‘human’ part is implied, because believe it or not, we do see a human life as being of greater value than other forms of life. I think that fundamental premise a rather common sense one that even a good atheist can embrace (putting aside abortion for a minute).

    My obvious contention is that those who always talk about ‘life’ but NEVER say it is about HUMAN life are the ones playing the semantics game. That was my whole point. To say that human is implied is ‘patently obvious’ is just an trick to muddy the waters by never really talking about what you are talking about. It is a horrible tactic seen a lot these days to assume we are all talking aboutt he same thing. Another example is ‘drugs.’ The anti-drug people are not really talking about drugs. They are talking about specific drugs about which they have a prejudice (whether justified or not…but this specification AND justification is exactly what I want to hear). Anti-drug people use this tactic of obfuscation to trick people into thinking of pot and crack as the same thing and equally bad. It is a political ploy and a semantics game. I am trying to EXPOSE the game and force it to be either explained in detail or dismantled

    Considering this, once reject that it is about life, then what is it about? It’s about a preference for certain types of life.

    And so what? If materialism is right, it is the most natural thing in the world to prefer the type of life of which one is a species over all others. Why is that a bad thing, whether it stems from a religious or non-religious source?

    I did not say it was a bad thing, but I am implying that we need to understand that there is no REAL reason to prefer human life over other life other than self-centeredness.

    You can be an anti-abortionist of human life.

    Again, this is patently obvious in the discussion to apparently everyone but you. I have no idea why you wasted 3 paragraphs explaining this to everyone.

    Again to NOT specify is a deliberate rhetorical and political ploy. And I am simply exposing it.

    I as an atheist cannot entertain this position as valid. Humans are not more important than other types of life.

    And with this I can not argue. If you REALLY believe this, then there is not a lot that can be said. At this point we are living in utterly different
    universes.

    Remember in one place I did say prejudice OR preference. I am not using these words in a charged manner. That is why I used the word preference in one instance.

    We are important to ourselves, but so are other lifeforms among themslves. As SJ Gould said, “Treefrogs think other treefrogs are the bee’s knees.”

    And that’s enough. If a tree frog can think other treefrogs more valuable than all the rest, I don’t find it odd that a human can find other human beings more valuable. And on that basis it’s totally sensible to talk about what constitutes a human life and how/if that should be protected (regardless of who’s correct in this particular case).

    It’s not only not odd, it would be odd if it were not true that we prefer ourselves. We simply need to realize that that is what it is: a preference. There is no cosmic dollar sign to be attached here. It’s just me preferring me and things like me.

    suffers from the same subjective prejudice or preference that anti-human-abortion suffers from.

    Please tell me that most atheist here don’t think that preferring human life (forget abortion for a minute) is a ‘prejudice’ on humanities part in the sense meant here? Please, please tell me we all at least live on the same planet.

    Hey, I got into this knowing that in many important ways we don’t live on the same planet.

  61. hermesten
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 3:41 pm

    “…but it’s a good thing (in my estimation) if all our ideas are put into the crucible to burn of the weaknesses.”

    This may be the only, or at least the primary, reason for posting anything here. I’m not seeing anything new in this debate though, and I don’t think most people are capable of effectively evaluating their own weaknesses.

  62. Tony
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 4:29 pm

    Oh my, Raving Atheist. My best efforts to pigeonhole you are for naught. Every time I think I have you stuffed in one, you manage to wiggle out.

    Darn you! I had to make a whole new link category to put you in.

  63. Tony
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 4:30 pm

    Oh my, Raving Atheist. My best efforts to pigeonhole you are for naught. Every time I think I have you stuffed in one, you manage to wiggle out.

    Darn you! I had to make a whole new link category to put you in.

  64. Tony
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 4:33 pm

    The one thing that we can be sure of is that while we live in a world where the spritual leader for 1.1 billion people says birth control is a mortal sin then we’re going to continue to see a lot of unwanted pregnancies (and aids/HIV sufferers).

    I’m sorry, Bill. This is just silly. “Oooohhhh… I want to fornicate!!! I’d better not slip on this rubber because it’s a sin!”

    I guess there will be people who will ignore the big sins in favor of not committing the small ones, but I don’t see that happening on a wide scale.

  65. hermesten
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 5:36 pm

    “I’m sorry, Bill. This is just silly. “Oooohhhh… I want to fornicate!!! I’d better not slip on this rubber because it’s a sin!”

    Silly? I know educated Catholics who take the birth-control prohibition very seriously. In fact, so they claim at least, they don’t use rubbers. And since they have 6-8 kids, I tend to believe them.

  66. Jannia
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 6:39 pm

    SteveG said:
    “The fundamental question remains whether it is a human being in the womb or not.”

    No. The fundamental question is whether or not one human being has a right to force another human being to keep them alive by using the resources of their own body, at their own risk and expense.

    We don’t mandate blood donation. We don’t mandate kidney donation. We don’t mandate bone marrow donation. We don’t mandate partial liver donation. These are all items for which we could force people to provide the resources of their body to preserve the life of others. But we have said no, that the life of the one who needs said resource is not justification for forcing the other living person to provide it.

    By exactly the same reasoning, the fact that the unborn child cannot live outside it’s mother’s womb is insufficient justification for forcing the woman to donate her body to ensure it’s survival. An unborn child is no more or less special than any other living human being. There is justification for applauding a choice not to abort, and we should do what we can to encourage and enable it, but in the same way we should encourage and enable other life-preserving tissue/organ donations.

    “…OK, now let me ask if your solution of terminating the unborn life is something we should also give to mother’s of born children as an option? Should she be able to terminate the born child’s life?”

    If you honestly can’t see the difference between an unborn child – whose survival is dependant on one specific person – and a born child – whose survival can be ensured by the actions of any number of people who chose to care for it, there isn’t a point to having this discussion. If you can, then you’re trolling, even if this is your board.

  67. SteveG
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 8:43 pm

    Herm,
    I think Tom’s point was similar to one I made earlier. Folks who don’t use contraception and actually follow church teaching likely are not considering abortion under almost any circumstances. Conversely, folks who are using likely to consider aborting are likely not listening to the chruch on contraception. Bill earlier suggest that there was a link between the teaching on contraception and that leading to abortion. Both Tom and I were pointing out that this is unlikely.

  68. SteveG
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 8:48 pm

    We don’t mandate blood donation. We don’t mandate kidney donation. We don’t mandate bone marrow donation. We don’t mandate partial liver donation. These are all items for which we could force people to provide the resources of their body to preserve the life of others. But we have said no, that the life of the one who needs said resource is not justification for forcing the other living person to provide it.

    Sorry, but we’ve been down this path pretty often, and I have no inconsistency here. If the ONLY alternative for saving somoone’s life was mandated blood donation, you’d not even have to force me. I’d be first in line.

    If you honestly can’t see the difference between an unborn child – whose survival is dependant on one specific person – and a born child – whose survival can be ensured by the actions of any number of people who chose to care for it, there isn’t a point to having this discussion. If you can, then you’re trolling, even if this is your board.

    Yes, I am trolling *rolls eyes*. I see the difference from the woman’s perspective. I don’t see a difference from the child’s perspective. The child didn’t choose to impose itself on the mother, and it has no alternative. There ARE two perpectives after all, because there are two individuals. It’s you who refuse to aknowledge the perspective of the second person.

  69. qedpro
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 9:01 pm

    I don’t understand the abortion debate at all since to me it is clearly a display of the inability of people to prioritize things that really matter. Now before you go jumping up and down all over me. Let me finish. according to statistics a child dies of starvation every 3 seconds??? I think thats the number. Now somebody please tell me “x” seconds for a child dying of an abortion. I’m pretty sure its much less. the resources expended to stop abortion far ourweight its benefit. If people actually did something to prove to me that a childs life was actually valuable, i.e. reduce the starvation rate to below that of the abortion rate, then I’d be concerned about this debate. Right now, all it proves to me is that somebody wants to control what i do.

  70. Kafkaesquí
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 11:24 pm

    SteveG said:
    The child didn’t choose to impose itself on the mother, and it has no alternative.

    Then you’re for abortion in the case of rape, correct? You must be, because it would be a horrible thing to claim there was a choice in the case of the mother.

  71. SteveG
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 11:37 pm

    The child still didn’t choose to impose itself even in the case of rape.

  72. Kafkaesquí
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 11:52 pm

    And neither did the woman choose to put herself in a position where she might get pregnant. So to clarify: In the case of pregnancy through rape, you have no problem with a law that forces the woman to have the child?

  73. SteveG
    December 2nd, 2005 @ 11:57 pm

    I understand that. But the life of the child still outweighs even such a horrible tragedy. I don’t know if I’d say I have NO PROBLEM with such a law as it’s admittedly a bitter pill to swallow, yet the life of the baby is what it is despite even the most horrid of circumstances. And how exactly does destroying the unborn person suppossedly solve the problem?

  74. Kafkaesquí
    December 3rd, 2005 @ 1:55 am

    Being pro-abortion, as well as believing women should not be treated as the moral equivalent of a pet, the problem in my eyes is the rape itself. Period. If it lead to pregnancy, a woman has the legal and personal right to terminate the fetus.

    So your question doesn’t concern me, at least in how you’re trying to shape it.

  75. allonym
    December 3rd, 2005 @ 10:51 am

    I haven’t much participated in the debate on abortion & choice. After reading all of these posts, though, I find myself intrigued by a question it has raised in me. As atheists, how do we best define the point at which an egg cell, blastocyst, fetus, etc. achieves human status and is therefore deserving of all the rights thereof? I see two arguments here; there may be others:

    1. Genetic. Once the chromosomes have paired and a unique human DNA is created, a human life is brought into existence. This indicates that humanity beginns at (or just after) conception.

    The flaw in this argument is that it seems tantamout to declaring that any living cell with human DNA is therefore human, which would include any single cell in (for instance) a grown person’s body. We’d be hypocrites if we didn’t mourn the ‘death’ of a sliced-off piece of skin were this the case.

    2. Functional. The human brain is an intricate, mysterious (though less and less so), and fascinating organ. It is the source of our emotion, our cognizance, and our reason. Its billions of electrochemical reactions each second are what allow us to experience thoughts and feelings, and operates all of the body mechanics that help to make us aware of our own existence (namely the senses). In short, it is what gives us all of the things without which we could not be human. Because the brain is nonexistent in a fetus of 2-3 weeks’ development, it cannot be said to be human. Furthermore, as the brain does not begin to significantly develop until the fetus is nearly 6 months into term, it is dubious to call it human until then.

    This argument is interesting to me, and I would like to see it commented on. A flaw, as I see it, is that humanity is not ignorant to the concept of potential, and it may not be a leap to infer that the human potential of a fetus of less than 3 weeks should carry equal weight with the actual humanity of a newborn child.

    Anyway, I’m just thinking out loud rather than responding to/arguing against any previous posts. I thought it might be refreshing for folks ’round here to partake of a bit of atheist philosophy that doesn’t attempt to argue against, put down, build up, or otherwise associate itself with religion, period. I know, it seems strange doesn’t it? :o)

  76. allonym
    December 3rd, 2005 @ 11:04 am

    One more thought, and then I’m done for now (promise!)

    Kafkaesqui,
    I find it interesting when people refer to themselves as “pro-abortion.” It almost implies that one is anti-birth, favoring abortion whenever possible. I know that’s not your position (at least I hope!), but that’s just what comes to mind when I hear the phrase. A lot of people prefer the term pro-choice, as that’s what is really being promoted. Rather than “Abortions for all!”, it’s “Abortion for those who decide it is the best thing for them and their life!”. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting you down. Pro-choice just sounds more palatable* to me.

    *bad word choice? I promise I don’t eat babies, aborted or otherwise ;)

  77. rev_holy_fire
    December 3rd, 2005 @ 2:14 pm

    EVOLUTON IS BULLSHIT.

    CHOOSE LIFE, YOUR MOTHER DID.

  78. SteveG
    December 3rd, 2005 @ 3:15 pm

    allonym:

    I confess that I am a religious person, but I think that most folks here will agree that I at least ATTEMPT to make my arguments without using religion (because frankly I think it’s pointless to discuss these issues with non-believers as if they were believers).

    That being said, recently another very smart guy (A different Tim) and I went through this very issue in some depth in a comment discussion here…

    Permutations

    ..In which I tried to take the at conception position from a non-religious standpoint, and he took the ‘development’ position. You might find it interesting and it covers most of the issues in pretty decent depth. The main discussion on this runs to comment #149, and then Jody and I took off on a related but separate topic (that’s interesting as well, but I’ll confess that on that second topic I got my head handed to me in the end). ;-)

  79. Mookie
    December 3rd, 2005 @ 5:59 pm

    It is interesting to see different people with different views on abortion. Everyone is both wrong and right, to varying degrees. When we get the whole “is”/”ought” thing going, then it becomes difficult to reach an agreement. That’s why I leave it up to the female, she is the caregiver and the vessel for the child – her body, her health, her choice.

    Some people think that abortion is murder. Would attempted abortion be considered attempted murder? If so, then all pregnant women should be charged with attempted murder. The placenta acts as a barrier, keeping out the mother’s macrophages and other foreign-body-killers which would otherwise dismantle the “parasite”. From its very inception, the mother is trying to kill the baby.

    The idea that life is sacred and that all children deserve a chance is not rooted in biology, but in our minds. What we “ought” to do, therefore, is leave it up to the woman to choose.

  80. TRA Imposter
    December 3rd, 2005 @ 6:10 pm

    Just to make my position clear.

    Yes, I believe that the moment a woman gets pregnant she belongs to the State. She must not drink, smoke, or do anything to harm the fetus which belongs to the great United States of America. Once the baby is born she must either put it up for abortion or raise it to be a contributing member of the USA. Nine months of pregnancy is a small price in order to protect all of our citizens.

    We have birth control, we have histerectomies, we have abstinence, all in case a woman does not want to get pregnant.

    Also, while it does take two to tango, I think it is entirely fair for us to only punish the woman with 9 months of pregnancy and completely absolve the man from this indiscretion.

  81. Seldonster
    December 3rd, 2005 @ 6:18 pm

    I think it would be OK for the goverment to ban abortions, as long as each woman who is denied one gets to name the father who in turn must pay her 1 year’s wages, gain 40 pounds, and stick a coconut up his asshole.

  82. simbol
    December 3rd, 2005 @ 8:21 pm

    “Once the baby is born she must either put it up for abortion or raise it to be a contributing member of the USA”

    Abortion or adoption?

    Lapsus menti?

  83. Kafkaesquí
    December 3rd, 2005 @ 9:20 pm

    allonym, I chose to use pro-abortion because many in the anti-abortion crowd, including TRA, use it as an insulting epithet against those who believe abortion should always be a legal option. They do this because they think we’re afraid of the A word, hence the use of the more palatable “pro-choice.” They also think that by labeling us so, we’re seen in the very light you note and fear, painting us as wanting nothing more than to hand out abortions to every good (and bad) little girl at Christmas. Sane people would laugh at such a characterization, but this topic rarely gives way to sanity.

    In any case, pro-abortion, in summary, well describes my political view: the support of legalized abortion. Seasoning it with softer terminology for more sensible palates only sanitizes a difficult issue. It also lets anti-abortionists control the language of the debate, and that’s something I’d never do.

  84. Jody Tresidder
    December 4th, 2005 @ 11:06 am

    SteveG,
    Clearly, my reply to you (about abortion always being a theoretical construct for men because of biology) never made it through RA’s “pending” limbo. No idea why.
    I said that, yes, your role as a father certainly informs your understanding of the issue but that your statement: “I can say with as much honesty as my ‘theoretical’ position will allow, that if I could save one unborn baby from an abortion by being able to carry it in my body, I’d do it without a second thought” STILL invites the “well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” (a cliche from the Uk “Profumo” scandal). In other words, you are simply restating your position firmly and sincerely but not advancing a new thought.
    I actually found myself uncertain what special pleading rights biology should give the woman (while being certain that somehow it MUST make a difference that men can never personally experience abortion). Also, I felt extremely dubious about awarding men parity of opinion only if they agreed with me. Somehow that seemed worryingly self-serving!. I can only offer the fuzzy thought that women initially physically experience early pregnancy less as a division between self and fetus than a man – with only his abstract notions – can ever do – and from this so many other assumptions flow. (We leave the law, of course, to make its informed but arbitrary ruling over when this division matters.)
    I know you try to be scrupulous not letting your religious beliefs dictate your argument. Trust me, I am trying to stop mentally trussing and roasting RA for his “holiday appeal” satire…

  85. Mary
    December 4th, 2005 @ 5:44 pm

    No. The fundamental question is whether or not one human being has a right to force another human being to keep them alive by using the resources of their own body, at their own risk and expense.

    We don’t mandate blood donation. We don’t mandate kidney donation. We don’t mandate bone marrow donation. We don’t mandate partial liver donation. These are all items for which we could force people to provide the resources of their body to preserve the life of others. But we have said no, that the life of the one who needs said resource is not justification for forcing the other living person to provide it.

    If I had a magic wand and waved it over a pregnant woman and over a woman whom other people were trying to forcibly get a kidney from, so that both women were transported to a deserted island, and preserved from all force that could be used against them — if I waved the magic wand to bring them back in a year, the woman threated with a forcible organ donation would have her kidney, and the woman with the pregnancy would have her baby. No force involved. It is exactly the exclusion of force which means that the woman would have the baby.

    In forcible organ donation, force is used against the organ donor. In abortion, the woman is using force, through an agent, against the baby.

    The fundamental question is, does one human being have the right to insist on an operation being performed on a second, unconsenting human being for the first human’s benefit? If you maintain that you have no right to slice open someone to take their kidney out, you certainly have no right to tear them limb from limb.

  86. Tony
    December 4th, 2005 @ 11:09 pm

    The flaw in this argument is that it seems tantamout to declaring that any living cell with human DNA is therefore human, which would include any single cell in (for instance) a grown person’s body. We’d be hypocrites if we didn’t mourn the ‘death’ of a sliced-off piece of skin were this the case.

    Allonym, this would be true if the embryo had the same DNA as the mother. Then the “it’s her body” argument would make sense. Problem is, we have technology to uniquely identify if a cell is “part of the mother”. I say if it is, (such as the case of an appendix), the mother can do what she wants with it. In the case of an embryo, it’s not her body, and she should not have the right to kill it.

  87. Bill
    December 5th, 2005 @ 5:10 am

    Tony: “I’m sorry, Bill. This is just silly. “Oooohhhh… I want to fornicate!!! I’d better not slip on this rubber because it’s a sin!”
    Yeah? Great! So catholics have stopped listening to the pope? They are all atheists then. Yipee!
    Or were you just having a pop ‘cos you felt insulted and under threat?
    C’mon mate, either the pope’s right or its bullshit. Which is it? Or do you just pick and choose the bits you like?
    I’m glad there’s no god in my universe, I’d hate to you, facing an eternity in pugatory.
    Think it through. But then if you believe in sky fairy’s logic isn’t your strong point is it?

  88. Annie Banno
    December 12th, 2005 @ 1:26 pm

    A brilliant piece, RA. Genius. Bravo! “…the quality suffers if the children of those people suddenly start swarming into your neighborhood.”

    Nail on the head.

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