Monday, March 06, 2006

The Latest in the Abortion Wars

Thinking outside the box on the abortion debate:

There will always be abortions. But when you look at the trends—more foolproof contraception, more access to morning-after pills, earlier and fewer abortions—you can begin to envision a gradual, voluntary exodus from at least half the time frame protected by Roe. That's the half the public doesn't support. Maybe that six-month window made more sense in 1973 than it does today. Maybe, if we spend the next 10 years helping women avoid second-trimester abortions, we won't have to spend the next 20 or 40 years defending them. Maybe the best way to end the assault on Roe is to make it irrelevant.

Wishful thinking. I can imagine pro-choicers agreeing to more restrictive abortion laws much more easily than I can imagine pro-lifers agreeing to stop there. But irrespective of what I can imagine, so many of the players in the debate have invested all their moral capital into their positions, that finding a reasonable midddle ground would be like trying to fit a camel through a needle's eye.


Blogger sexyretard said...


There's no doubt that both sides are represented by interest groups with "winner take all" mindsets; the idea of a compromise is anathema to all involved.

Including me, so you have me pegged, also. Jeff regularly points out that the worst thing to happen for the Republicans would be to have Roe v Wade overturned. The WCTU sure did disappear once prohibition was passed.

Somewhat unrelatedly, I keep meeting pro-choice Republicans. At the moment, outside of my church (where I assume 90% of the people are Republicans) I would say that I know more pro-choice Republicans than pro-life ones. That suggests to me that either the Republicans are more tolerant of dissent, or that they are better able to get some people who disagree on some issues into their fold. To paraphrase the great South Park treatise, some people dislike the Republicans but they damn hate the Democrats.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"I would say that I know more pro-choice Republicans than pro-life ones. That suggests to me that either the Republicans are more tolerant of dissent, or that they are better able to get some people who disagree on some issues into their fold."

It may also just reflect the fact that there are more Americans who are comfortable with some form of abortion than there are Americans who are total abolitionists. I would say that there are many planks of the parties' platforms that their respective rank and file voters would disagree with/be unaware of. You also live in a pretty liberal area (Chicagoland).

Btw, what's your response to the following thought experiment:

"If a fire breaks out in a fertility clinic and you can only save a petri dish with five blastulae or a two-year old child, which do you save?"

I go for the two-year old every time. My opposition to abortion (and it's not absolute) is essentially an intellectual one, because I don't feel sick thinking about the aborted fetuses in the same way, for example, I feel sick when thinking about 9/11 victims or dead Iraqi civilians. I think such a disparity between the two reactions is just a natural product of the way that humans conceptualize other humans. So, I'm curious what the Christian answer to such a question is. I just can't imagine ever feeling sick about the loss of five blastulae.

12:40 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...


That's an excellent question. I also go for the 2 year old.

It's entirely likely that any given one of the 5 was not going to make it, or more than one, through the journey anyway.

I do believe that life begins at conception, and even human life, but I do think we need to take into account things like the ability to feel pain, the existence of brain activity, a seperate heartbeat, that sort of thing. For such reasons, I would certainly keep abortion legal in cases of rape and incest, through the first trimester, even though I believe a human life is ending (really, one already has). I would hope that the mother would choose to bring the baby to term, but I would not mandate this legally.

I absolutely support the morning after pill for rape victims, and I even hedge a little as to whether it should be an option for everyone. If it meant eliminating surgical abortions, I'd be all for making it available, because in some cases it won't be an abortifacient, and even when it is it would be a painless one for the child, who may or may not have spontaneously aborted anyway.

But peripheral issues like blastulae or embryonic stem cells, while pertinent, are not what makes me a pro-lifer. I look at the practice of destroying creatures with human DNA, a human heartbeat, human brain activity, and I see genocide of the poor and the black. Incidentally, I became a Christian at 17, but I've always believed abortion to be murder, so I'm not parroting what my handlers have directed.

I would also hasten to add that when Catholics oppose birth control, they really encourage abortion, albeit unintentionally. Part of limiting the number of abortions, of course, has to be limiting the number of unintended pregnancies.

Katie is currently carrying a second child, Thomas John, or Alison Elizabeth. Are we in the best situation to have a second child? Hells no (although he/she is very wanted). Does that make her/him less of a human? No. We could use the same reasoning to suppose it OK to kill retarded kids or bastards.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"Katie is currently carrying a second child, Thomas John, or Alison Elizabeth."

Dude, Congratulations! That's great news!

10:03 AM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

SexyRetard makes the moral case against abortion, as he has before. He even handles the shaky ground of the 2-year-old vs the 5 blastulae pretty well; brain activity, ability to feel pain, and heart activity, while not indicators of being alive (that's conception), certainly make an entity more valuable for saving from a burning building.

So it's immoral. This has been eloquently established by Retard and others who share the sentiment.

What's problematic is that pro-lifers aren't out to prove to the world that abortion is immoral; they're looking to make it illegal. As Jeff's other post (the Tweety interview with Santorum Jr.) demonstrates, even the most eloquent and influential pro-lifers either can't explain or avoid explaining why and how it should be against the law.

Overturning Roe v. Wade may not be inevitable, but it's far more possible now than it has been for a long time. If abortion were made illegal, it would certainly reduce the number of abortions; but it wouldn't eliminate them, and we'd have the sticky problem of jails filling up with doctors and once-pregnant women.

As I alluded in my post, the pro-lifers (and the politicians who pander to them) are all-or-nothing about this, and they won't stop until it's all "illegal." If you believe these fetuses and blastulae are little human lives you're saving, and you also believe that saving them is the most important thing to do, you must have a highly developed sense of social responsibility. But missing from that side of the debate is any acknowledgement of this responsibility as regards society post-Roe.

You can believe that the consequences of criminalized abortion - back-alley abortions, jailed (executed?) doctors and mothers, etc - are outweighed by the positive consequences of all those aborted lives saved. But you still have to acknowledge responsibility for these consequences.

Personally, I think it's logically consistent to be both "pro-life" - in that you find abortion morally unacceptable - and "pro-choice" - in that you do not advocate making having or providing an abortion a criminal act.

1:31 PM  

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