Michael Wolraich's picture

    Human is Human

    I'll say one thing for Todd Akin. He's consistent. Or rather, he's less inconsistent than his fellow abortion opponents.

    Most abortion opponents share a core principle: Life begins at conception.

    If you believe that a fetus is a person and entitled to the same human rights as the rest of us air-breathing old fogies, then nothing else really matters--not a woman's choice, not a child's future. You can't sacrifice a baby because his mother doesn't want him. You can't euthanize a child because she has down syndrome. Human is human.

    So far so good for abortion opponents.

    But here the trouble starts. You also can't kill a baby because his mother was raped. You can't even kill a baby to save a mother's life. You cannot legally, morally, knowingly kill an innocent human being. Period.

    So if you're an intellectually honest abortion opponent who truly believes that life, human life, begins at conception, you have a little bit of a problem when it comes to rape, incest, and health risks to the mother. Either you admit that whatever the status of a fetus, it is not a full human being. Or you oppose abortion in all cases.

    But that's an ugly position to endorse, and most mainstream abortion opponents won't do it. They stick to their contradictory principles.

    Todd Akin rejects that contradiction. He accepts the full logical implications of his belief that life begins at conception.


    Even Akin has trouble forcing rape victims to give birth to babies. It's too cruel. So how does he resolve his psychological (and political) discomfort? He convinces himself that rape does not actually make babies. Problem solved.

    Except for one little hitch. Rape does actually make babies.

    But Akin is much too clever to be derailed by the foibles of human biology. In his cunning little brain, he adds a semantic twist: "Legitimate" rape does not actually make babies. If a rape victim gets pregnant, it means that she wasn't really raped after all. Problem solved.

    Well, at least until you become a national pariah.

    In any case, the moral of this story is that no matter how you slice it, human is human. And if your human heart tells you that in some cases human is not quite completely human, it might suggest that maybe your human brain doesn't really understand what it means to be human after all.

    Michael Wolraich is the author of Blowing Smoke: Why the Right Keeps Serving Up Whack-Job Fantasies about the Plot to Euthanize Grandma, Outlaw Christmas, and Turn Junior into a Raging Homosexual



    Sometimes, as I listen to these comments, I wonder if new forms of "human" aren't being discovered almost every day, right here in these United States of America.

    Then I wonder how I could not have been aware of them all this time. Have I really been living such a circumscribed human life that I didn't notice these other forms living alongside me, passing me in the street, all this time?

    Maybe so.

    One is tempted to say, "We're not in Kansas, anymore," but truth is that we ARE in Kansas and Iowa and Indiana, now perhaps for the first time.

    One thing I'm always left wondering about when I hear self-identified pro-lifers talk about their view that life begins at conception is whether they believe that life ends at birth.  They're terribly concerned that every fetus is carried to term no matter what, but after that they seem to adopt a radically different attitude toward human life.  They're quite often the same people who support war.  They're quite often the same people who support the death penalty - despite being Christian, no matter how weird that is.  They're quite often people who support war, but want to end programs that help the needy with health and other human services.  But life from conception to birth is apparently sacrosanct to them.

    Of course, Carlin said it much better than I:

    I don't have a problem understanding the thinking, not that I agree with it.

    It's about innocent human life, really about feeling a need to protect innocence, not human life in general. To  most people who think this way, soon after you're born, you start sinning, and that makes you less a human an innocent.

    I remember reading years ago in the Science Section of the Times, some study on this gut reaction to protect innocent young life (from not just bad weather and lions and tigers and bears, but once again, nasty grownup sinning humans that might hurt them,) and how some people have it much much more than others. And apparently this whatever it is trait, it doesn't just apply to human babies, anything with big eyes, like a puppy, Tweety Bird, triggers the protective reaction in many folks. (Not to mention E.T.. the movie star with some of those properties.) The researchers thought it clearly seems to be there in order to perpetuate the species, and wondered why some have it  so strongly across "species" and some don't get a rise at all from Tweety Bird batting his eyelashes at them..

    I bet a lot of staunch anti-abortion types are also the type who mostly prefer the company of dogs and perhaps other animals like horses and pandas to sinning grown-up humans, and sometimes feel the lives of the former are worth more effort saving and providing for than the lives of the latter, once again, because they are "innocent,"

    Likewise the fervor of these types to protect the extreme mentally disabled, i..e.,Terry Schiavo..

    You can italicize the word innocent, but that doesn't mean that it's thinking to be understood necessarily.  Yes, we're wired to find babies and puppies and things with big cute eyes adorable, but a fetus doesn't even have an outward physical appearance to us.  If "innocence" here is just the flip-side of the perverse Christian notion of sin, then it's dogma rather than thinking.

    It's an interesting distinction.   I wonder, though, whether that protection instinct has more to do with purity of potential than with simple innocence.  I think there's an idea out there that some entity which has not yet experienced anything has a certain potential to be great which wizened, damaged, experienced humans lack. Fetuses are not particularly "cute" -- but than again, from an evolutionary biology perspective, aren't mean to be "seen" until much later.  And pre-fetal materials aren't cute, either -- but that doesn't mean some people don't object to birth control, on the grounds that some of those pre-fetal materials could develop into a fetus, and then into a child?

    And, of course, protecting babies is key to the survival of the species and/or tribe.  I suspect a great deal of the dogma around abortion (and birth control) is really codified tribal preservation rules, from back when more people automatically meant better odds of surviving the next war, natural disaster, or illness epidemic. 

    Yeah, Carlin puts us all to shame.

    I'm no theologian, but I think that the Christian notion of the sanctity of life is mitigated by God's justice. If you sin against God, your life is no longer sacred.

    How does that square with the notion of Original Sin?  I suppose that probably depends on exactly what flavor of Christian we're talking about, but in my experience the people who flog the sanctity of life are usually the same people trafficking in the most strict interpretation of this issue as well.  Does that count or does one have to personally sin?

    We're getting out of my comfort zone, but I don't think that the strict Calvinist notion of original sin in which the newborns literally inherit the sin is very common these days.

    In any case, it's a little beside the point. If you can consistently believe that the life of a newborn is sacred but the life of a murderer is not, then you can consistently believe that the life of a fetus is sacred but the life of a murderer is not.

    That's all well and good.  Of course, my comment and Carlin's are about the rest of us foul creatures and the regard we receive from the sanctity crowd, not about whether they need to respect the lives of murderers to appear ideologically consistent.

      It isn't really inconsistent to oppose abortion while supporting the death penalty and supporting some wars. They would say that the fetus is an innocent child, and you can't kill the innocent, but that murderers have it coming. War is trickier, but it is sometimes possible to value human life without being a pacifist. (I actually think the right wing hawks don't have much regard for life, but they could say something like "the war is regrettable, but we must stand up to evil, we have no choice" etc. etc.)

    IMO Akin has no psychological discomfort in making a woman carry to term a human resulting from rape---but, knowing that he and his ilk can't yet sell a constitutional amendment to end all abortion, they continually work the margins, for example, the parsing of rape---forcible, etc..

    But they are also hoping for a complete victory by introducing personhood bills, hoping humans will be asleep and not realize that what is being voted on is a total ban on abortion.

    It's like my investment strategy. I buy stocks in casinos hoping for a little gain here or there. But I spend $20 a week trying to win the lottery. 

    Akin is of the same tribe whose 'cunning little brains' supported GWB in his illegal war of aggression in Iraq, killing tens of thousands, back-to this day-torture by the US, supported lynching of blacks and others up until around 1948,  backed poll taxes and current political moves to suppress voting and democracy. It is also a near certainty that Akin would not bat an eye if one of his granddaughters or other kin sought an abortion, he might even help pay for it. It's called hypocrisy. Their 'core principle' is they think they have a right to run your life.

    'Semantic twists' have also been used for very bad ends, like condemning the 'inferior' or 'parasitic' to genocide. A basic trait of a sociopath is the lack of compassion for others. Akin lacks that human trait of compassion, in this case for raped women.

    Akin and his ilk do not have 'intellectual honesty', his 'human heart' seems little different than that of Conrad's Mr. Kurtz in the classic book Heart of Darkness.  They are the type that like to play God.

    'Human is human', and there are many humans who should never be in a position to run other people's lives, dictate the options for their health care, or represent the nation in a leadership position.

    Nice work Genghis.  I don't know any politician who takes the position that because abortion is murder anyone who participates or abets an abortion--pregnant woman, doctor, nurse, friend or family member who drives the woman to the clinic, etc.--should be prosecuted for the crime of intentional murder.  Maybe there are some folks who take that position, but it seems to me that that is the position one has to take if he or she believes that life, human life, begins at conception.

    A good point. Imagine the consequences if those doctors and friends conspired to slaughter a living child.

    I assume that few people really believe that a first-term fetus is morally equivalent to a child. There are so many differences in our emotional response and social practices. Even among religious believers, funerals are seldom thrown for miscarriages. People don't establish memorials or send condolence cards. A miscarriage is certainly a tragedy, it may even be like the death of the child, but it is not the same as the death of a child, and I suspect that on some level, everyone realizes it.

    But once you go that far and acknowledge that even if a fetus is sacred, it is not the moral equivalent of a child, the whole situation becomes much mistier. How sacred is a fetus? How great must the burden be to justify an abortion? We can answer these questions in our personal lives, but legislating them as a society is impossible. So much easier to stick with the easy equation, fetus = human, even if you don't quite believe it.

    I've argued along these lines with some pro-lifers.

    That is, even if you say that a fetus is a human being, almost no one acts as if that were true. (So, as you say, funerals aren't held. In some cultures, in fact, children aren't even named after they're born until it's clear they're going to survive.)

    Most important, though, is that virtually no one is proposing the death penalty or life incarceration for a woman who has an abortion. They're pleased as punch to pile on the doctor, but the person who initiates the act with malice aforethought gets nothing but sympathy.

    In fact, quixotically I think, they treat the woman as the other victim. I guess there's some kind of reasoning behind this, but the cynic in me thinks that it's just because NO ONE would support such a proposal, and their cause would die a sorry death if they became serious about it.

    One fellow, who went to great lengths to show that it was murder, said that he wasn't proposing death or incarceration because "we," presumably society, hadn't yet agreed that abortion was murder. I thought this admission supported my point.


    Like bslev said: Nice work Genghis. Really, it's more and more apparent that that philosophy degree you mentioned a while back on another thread wasn't a waste at all.

    Thanks, AA, but I don't think that logic requires a philosophy degree.

    although a philosophy degree can help one to better articulate the flow of a logical thought stream.

    Or to better obscure it

    True that.

    Yet sometimes, the obscurity itself can be purposively used to reveal another truth beneath the logic, or rather, embedded in or woven into the logic.  But that is another story.

    Thanks for continuing to write with clarity and compassion!  I can't read vitriol any more, no matter how much I agree with the perspective of the author -- but pieces like this are digestible.  Geared toward opening a discussion, rather than shutting one down -- and that without compromising your convictions.  Ah, reasonable discourse, why are you in such scarce supply in our society?

    Any trace of compassion that you might have noticed was unintentional. I blame my human lineage.

    Either you admit that whatever the status of a fetus, it is not a full human being. Or you oppose abortion in all cases.

    But that's an ugly position to endorse, and most mainstream abortion opponents won't do it. They stick to their contradictory principles.

    It’s because these idiots are trying to placate

    You can be against abortion but you don’t need to deny it.

    Abortion is legal says Roe vs Wade

    The government’s directive is to raise taxes, for defense and to promote the general welfare, the common good

    Abortions are not a general welfare issue or common good; it is a private issue, between a woman and her doctor.

    You want it; find your own church or congregation of like-minded believers, to support your ideology, pass the collection plate.  

    As far as I know, that’s not against the law. It would also go a long ways to calm the religious right. They are not forced to pay and God will sort it out later .

    Now, the extreme religious right, having seen, that to give an inch, leads to trouble, would rather go back to defense only, forget about social issues, because to give an inch on other social issues, means accepting the unacceptable.

    You want the religious right to help feed the poor; I can find a scripture for support.

    I cant find a supporting scripture for abortions, to satisfy the religious right

    BTW:   Genghis you’re pretty sharp with history, who paid for the Underground Railway during the American abolitionist movement; the government or private donations? 

    Congratulations Resistance.

    When you are sincere you can make a contribution here.

    I live my life with authenticity. "to stay true to oneself'"

    As opposed to bad faith or perfidy.

    With politicians, deception is never far from their lips or hands; but they are not the only ones, lacking authenticity.

    Private donations. Course, provide donations are also bankrolling Todd Akin. That's the trouble with private donations, you can never tell what they're up to.

    Its the nature of the beast.

    If you want to take your millions$ , from your book sales, who am I to tell you how you can spend your money.

    Who am I to tell George Soros or any of the other rich donors of the Democratic party, buying influence, supporting armies to gain control  

    As I also agree with those opposed, to the public financing of displaying the Ten Commandments in State Houses.

    If people want religious art hanging in the halls of public buildings  or they want a Christmas tree in the public spaces, then use private money, no public funding.

    In return, we shouldn't have public funding of anti Christian values either. (Abortions)

    End the divisiveness, get down to the peoples business for the general welfare, the common good.

    Put the assault on Roe vs Wade to an end forever.

    Your god may not be my God.

    Freedom to choose. Freedom to choose ideology, Freedom from coercions.

    If you believe that a fetus is a person and entitled to the same human rights as the rest of us air-breathing old fogies, then nothing else really matters--not a woman's choice, not a child's future.

    I'm not sure I would agree with this.  A pregnancy is not the same thing as just inviting another person into your home, in which you are required to treat that person in accordance with their rights considered in abstraction from their biological relationship with others.  A pregnancy is an organic fusion, at a fairly deep level, of a mother's life with the life developing within her.  I'm inclined to think that being pregnant and continuing a pregnancy is always, for the mother, a supererogatory act - independently of the further question of the moral status of the fetus itself.  In other words, continuing with a pregnancy is always, for the mother, a sort of gift to humanity, an act of grace, and never something she is required to do.

    Dan, I really like the way you have worded this.  I'm going to have to forward it to a few people.

    No one is suggesting that a mother has a social obligation to carry a fetus to term. Rather, abortion opponents argue that the mother has a moral obligation to her "unborn child."

    Consider parenting. IMO, child-rearing is a much greater gift to society than child-bearing, but parents are nonetheless morally obligated to protect the welfare of their children and legally culpable if they fail to do so.

    So if a fetus is morally equivalent to a human child, then carrying a pregnancy to term is not supererogatory; the mother is duty-bound to protect the welfare of the fetus.

    I think there are important disanalogies Genghis.  A child living in a parent's home is not literally circulating that parent's own blood through its body, growing inside and expanding the parents' own uterus, drawing its nutrition from the contents of the parents' own intestines, stretching the muscles and ligaments of the parents' own body, sitting on top of the parent's bowels, bladder and spine while squeezing and distending other organs, taxing the parent's own immune systems, and presenting an ongoing risk of various kinds of catastrophic organic damage, toxicity and even death if something goes badly wrong.  We all have duties of all kinds to other people, but it seems to me that we should recognize a kind of absolute moral and political sovereignty over the processes that take place inside a person's own body.  Even if the fetus is a person with a life of its own, that life is process that is a literal organic part of another life, and I'm not comfortable saying that a mother has any kind of obligation at all to see to it that her internal life processes, particularly those that threaten harm to her, progress in some particular way.

    Abortion opponents certainly are saying that a mother has an obligation to continue to carry her fetus.  There are only two choices for the mother here: at any time during her pregnancy, either she chooses the continuation of the pregnancy or she chooses to terminate it.  So logically, saying that it is wrong for her to terminate the pregnancy is equivalent to saying she is obligated to continue it.   But maybe I don't understand the distinction you are drawing here between social obligations and moral obligations.

    Personally, I have never understood how a hard-line, "sanctity of life" argument cannot ultimately show deference to the viable, living, breathing people who are already here.  You know, like the woman carrying the baby.  I guess there's been some vague stuff about sin and innocence thrown around in this thread and some awards handed out for ideological consistency.  I guess that's important.  What about the actual well-being of people who exist on this planet, not in theory, but in reality - right now?

    John McCain, who was nominated by the GOP to be President, openly scoffed at this kind of deference.  That was the point of my comment above and the point of posting Carlin.  All kidding aside, this isn't some strawman notion.  Genghis wants to give them points for ideological consistency on the other side of the birth canal.  That's fine as far it goes, but what about this side?

    Honestly, re-reading G's last sentence, I am at something of a loss as to what exactly the moral of the story is here.

    What this fails to address and where the whole debate between all the sides breaks down is the question of the "soul."  As long as an individual believes the fetus has a soul independent of the mother, the extent of an organic fusion taking place becomes meaningless.

    Yes, but in most theological discussions of this that I've heard, ensouling takes place later. Augustine thought, for example.

    A good example of why the debate on abortion in this country never gets anywhere: even within the "fetus has soul - no abortion" camp there are factions arguing over when the soul actually makes it appearance. 

    I firmly believe that if the Republican party were to have a pro-choice platform and the Democratic party a pro-life platform, within a year or two about half of the pro-lifers would be pro-choice and about half of the pro-choicers would be pro-life. Within 10 years, possibly as many as 3/4 would have switched positions. Many (maybe less than half) church pastors would have changed positions. Call me cynical, but I think most people haven't really thought about it that hard. (I gather this opinion from talking to people I know who don't typically talk about things like this.) Due to selection bias, this assertion is unlikely to apply to people discussing the issue here or on a similar forum over at RedState.

    As a woman, I have to say, I think you are wrong, if the republican party were pro-choice and liberal, that is what I would be. So I think you are wrong. And republicans had a chance in the early 70's to steer away from being the party that attracted kneejerk idiots who just hate, but they didn't do it, in fact they went all in to attract those people. I would be more inclined to vote for them if they thought women were smart enough to make choices for their own bodies, I mean I don't hear those men every saying men should be more responsible with their bodies, nope not ever. There used to be a number of Republicans, liberal, pro-choice from the NE and from other northern states who believed truly that women could make decisions for their bodies like men get to. One of the primary reason I am not a republican is because republicans don't seem to believe women are smart enough to make our own choices, while of course men can. It's disgusting. If the tables were turned, and if Democrats had a pro-life platform, I am out and I believe I am speaking for a majority of my sisters.

    I'm sure you (and most people commenting on this thread) would not change your opinion on this matter just because the party you support changed theirs. I just happen to think that this is a self-selecting minority. Also, note that I'm not suggesting that if the Republican party were pro-choice and liberal, but that if the Republican party were pro-choice but in every other way the same (anti-union, anti-environment, etc.), and similarly with the Democratic party. I know that if the Democratic party were pro-life but in every other way the same, I'd probably still tend to vote Democratic, but it'd be a harder choice. That doesn't mean I'd agree with them on that particular issue, just like I (and many others here) don't agree with them on other issues. I just feel that the majority of people are more of the type "my team can't be wrong, so if they believe X, I believe X". Maybe I'm not being fair to the average person. I'll grant you that.

    But you've created your own reality, one that doesn't actually exist.  But I'll tell you what, if the Democratic party were not Pro-Choice I would not be a Democrat.  And if there were not Pro-Choice they wouldn't be any of the other things you mentioned. It is work that doesn't exists and a proposition that only creates a reality that doesn't exist. Bottom line, I'd be a member of the Green Party, they don't have my vote if they don't stand up for my rights.

    I'm clearly postulating a counter-factual, I agree with you on that. Which means that we have no way of judging if I'm right. But trust me, I am. wink

    My main point is just that I don't think the majority of people who consider themselves pro-life or pro-choice have really thought that hard about it.

    My main point is just that I don't think the majority of people who consider themselves pro-life or pro-choice have really thought that hard about it.

    I believe Todd Akin thought hard about it, and when he came upon something gray, he had to make up a "fact" for himself to keep everything black and white.

    What you're talking about takes it to the level of one of my pet peeves, what I think having a two-party system does. Nuance and grays are trouble, you've got to stick to the black and whites, you're either for or against something, passionately. (Note that the GOP powers-that-be didn't like him bringing up this gray area with no real black and whites on offer, only made up ones. Got people thinking!)

    It has often struck me that the fervor for or against whatever it is is a big kabuki show that is also a waste of time, passion and money, and when the time, passion and money is spent, there is no one and nothing left willing to deal with the grays of reality.

    That said, I'm not that fervent/passionate about about this problem except for my long-time registration as an Independent, I just feel guilty about being interested in campaigns, political partisanship and horse race issues. cheeky

    Your postulatingg that people don't have long held philosophical beliefs, like Choice, but that they are tied to party only.

    I believe that is wrong. I also find it completely useless, in the real world to propose the "What If" scenario, one set up entirely to prove that people don't stand on their own long held, deeply formed philosophies. I believe the opposite and I don't live a world of "What If's".  I actually live in a world where my rights over my body, and that of my daughters are under assault from one party. I am here to say this as a woman, that the if and only if's you proposed would cause me to leave the Democratic Party immediately. It isn't a joke to me at all, the truth of the matter is, our rights are under assault and you have no idea what that is like, our health is always used as a political football, I consider that to be beyond insulting. As an adult I don't need your help or anyones to tell me what I should do with it, unless and until we women get to make rules for men.

    Just a note: the Republican party had their chance with me a very long time ago, when they were much more liberal, and then what did they do, they went batshit crazy over what I can do with my body among other things. Earl Warren was a Republican. He was the most admirable man in America if you thought at all about civil liberties. He stood up for us. I think most women would agree with me, they could have had me, they dropped the ball.

    Your scenario discounts, almost degrades human beings as purely political with no real defined beliefs except for what their party defines for them, and I don't believe that, and I never will. Our complexity as humans is not limited to political beliefs only. 

    Keep it in your pants

     I mean I don't hear those men every saying men should be more responsible with their bodies, nope not ever.

    I don't think theres a man or boy alive, that hasn't been taught "keep it in your pants"

    For many years the term rape encompassed more.

    When a fathers daughter of 15 or 16, would sneak out with her boyfriend and had sex.

    We as a society frowned, upon such activities. We might have even charged the boy with statutory Rape.  Not anymore though.

    Our moral values have become so watered down.

    So now society says to one another, everybody does it. "Don't be too hard on the boy"

    "Sex is such a natural thing"

    If the boy had done it centuries ago, society would have stoned the rapist to death. Sending a strong message.  

    "Keep it in your pants" or else.

    You never make any sense.


    This is simply not true. I know you believe it because it fits in your fantasy of a golden age of morality and your myth of the decline of morality in modern times. Your analysis of rape throughout history in this and other posts is incorrect.

    Until very recently society played the major role in silencing the victim. Even now as we begin to change that culture of silence most rapes are not reported. As little as 60 years ago a women was ruined if she was raped. In a culture with no economic options for women but marriage admitting you had been raped was choosing a life of penury. For already married women admitting you had been raped was choosing a life of social ostracism. Without power, options, or meaningful legal recourse women didn't report rapes and prayed they didn't get caught being raped.

    In most cultures pre 19th century most rape accusations were solved with the victim marrying the rapist or some payment to the victim's "owner" ie the father or husband. Not with standing the harsh penalties in the law if you'd take anytime to read info from the legal records of the time you'd discover that death or castration were almost never applied. By far the vast majority of reported rapes in the middle ages were rapes of children because this was the only type of rape considered a serious crime.

    The problem with discussing issues with you is I don't have time to search the internet for links to information I read in books years ago. But the reality is you posting history is the equivalent of me posting about rap music. The difference is I know I'm completely ignorant about rap music and would never comment about it.

    Maybe to blind to realize; rap music is not your only weakness?

    Doesn't sound blind on topic to me, sounds very well-informed. One thing I would have added if I was him was that children, both the born and in-utero kind,  in general weren't valued as much as adult life in the Western world pre-18th century.. They died too often, so it wasn't worth investing much emotion in them. until they at least well developed physically. Also, the in-utero kind often killed their mothers in the process of trying to get out. Midwives did what's called partial birth abortion now all the time in efforts to save the mother to birth another one another day. No sense chopping up a full-grown fertile female in order to deliver a baby with low chances of survival.

    In most cultures pre 19th century most rape accusations were solved with the victim marrying the rapist.

    Pre 19th century? Would you care to narrow it down say 19th to say the 16th  

    I can't help it if society during the range of centuries you so broadly include, became lax on rapists.

    Among Moses' or Abrahams contemporaries, Rapists didn't marry anybody, they were stoned to death.

    Don't blame modern societies (Pre 19th?)  lack of enforcement against the heinous crime of rape, on the high moral values of the contemporary period of Moses.

    The real problem occurred, when the high moral standards became watered down. 

    Society didn't want the strict laws, so society suffers..... SURPRISE SURPRISE  

    So crying to me about what woman have to endure, absent high moral standards. What did you expect?

    Lax on rapists, that's funny. For all the sins of this age, relatively speaking, this is the age of morality, not your age of Moses. How many times does god, even speaking through the mouth of Moses, tell his people to kill all the men, married women, and boys in a town? One dozen times, two dozen, more? Spare only the young virgin women and take them as your wives. Surely you're not going to claim these young virgins consented? That they were happy to marry the men who killed their father, mother, married aunts, male cousins, and brothers?

    At least in this age we don't drag off all the young virgins of the lands we conquer to be forced into marriage and raped. Our generals actually make some feeble attempts to stop the soldiers from raping the people of the lands we conquer.

    As you said before, we will never find common ground. You think your old testament is the golden age of morality and I think it is one of the most immoral ages in history. You think we live in an age of immorality and while I don't think its a golden age, I think its the most moral time we've ever had.

    At least in this age we don't drag off all the young virgins of the lands we conquer to be forced into marriage and raped.

    Evidently you are unfamiliar (to put it kindly).

    At least in this age we don't drag off all the young virgins of the lands we conquer to be forced into marriage and raped.

    NO!!!  They just rape and torture them and when the modern day soldier is finished, they kill them..... NO marriage.

    At least during Moses day, the virgins lives were spared, to be taken as wives.

    I don't know about them being raped? 

    I'm beginning to wonder, Is rape a deep seated fantasy of yours? You talk about it so much.

    Now come back from fantasy land; Please take the foot from your mouth and

    Tell me of any other advancing armies, who cared to spare anybody?

    Tell me how American soldiers acted so much more better?  


    Tell us what you know, of the atrocities of American soldiers raping and murdering their captive Japanese woman. Woman so afraid of American soldiers; they cradled their children and jumped off the cliffs, only to smash upon the rocks below, to their deaths, to avoid American soldiers. They weren't offered marriage.

    But I suppose with your "No one is worse than Moses" bias, you would even turn a blind eye, believing they had it coming, as a pay back, for what the Japanese soldiers did to the Chinese women?


    I'd suggest some of your comments here are too personal. Akins made the rape discussions topical - we're not trying to psychoanalyze anyone's sexuality here.

    As to your points, yes, the US committed rapes in WWII plus the use of say 100,000 comfort women in Japan (like the empoverished women of a war-destroyed nation had a choice in "prostitution"); the Russians were extremely extremely brutal about gang rapes in WWII in Europe and Manchuria, plus in Afghanistan during the 80's. in the Congo, the gang rapes & murder of women was & is well established. The rape of Nanking by the Japanese was horrific. And on and on.

    As for anything related to Moses, we pretty well know that the number 600,000 fleeing Egypt was invented* - likely for numerological purposes - and that the Sinai couldn't have supported any such large exodus, much less 40 years, much less without any archaelogical remants. Snd we probably know little about how rape was actually treated in practice then or whether anyone actually reported it (then as now likely the rapists were known by the women and most rapes are based on threats than violence - reporting these rapes would put women in more danger, and as common, they're not believed when they do report that "nice friend" or "Uncle" did something to them. In short, it's a fairly useless tale for anything but theological purposes, mystical symbolism and the occasional movie.


    *okay, since the 600,000 was only "numbered men" (not even including the young & elderly or non-Jews or Levites), some haunted souls can believe in 2.5-3.5 million Jews - roughly Israel's 1970 settled population - wandering around the Sinai for 40 years but not leaving a cracked pot or evidence of settlement in the arid sand. No limit to human contrivance and faith in the face of logic and reason. Guess God wheeled out hot dog stands in the desert to keep them going. Wonder why kibbutzes and irrigation were necessary when it's so easy to survive en masse in the desert.


    I'm beginning to wonder, Is rape a deep seated fantasy of yours? You talk about it so much.

    Really? You truly believe this? You think this is a convincing argument? You think this is sufficient evidence? Then you should count the number of posts in this thread about rape by me and the number of posts by you.

    Anyway, I'm done with this thread. There's a limit to the amount of time I'm willing to spend pushing back against nonsense.

    I don't know - I think we're all fairly ignorant on these topics, and while I also go looking for background info, I'm quite aware that a few Wikipedia pages are typically only the tip of the iceberg for any complicated subject, such as "what did they used to do about rape?"

    In this case, it depends on different culutures - British, European, Islamic, elsewhere - and different periods - e.g. Victorian times, Middle Ages, Roman age, etc.. "Most cultures" is a huge statement.

    There's some basic info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_rape

    It appears the Romans called rape as we know it stuprum, while abduction or elopement was the closer raptus. (Interesting that the slang Yiddish term "shtup" - to fuck - is considered to come from German 'stupsen' when the root/sound might suggest Latin origins)

    Under Roman law the girl would not be ruined - she would be blameless, with the raper subject to execution. Even Augustine defended the unwilling victim as still chaste at heart. It appears that Constantine started the shaming by disinheriting the victim (under the auspices of the Church).

    How this evolved across the Middle Ages and modern times, through all the lands of Europe, probably takes more than a paragraph to summarize.

    Under Islamic law there appears to be no shame for the victim - hard penalties for the perpetrator.

    In India until 1983, the woman had to prove she had not given consent. The "finger" test seems to still be in use to find out if the girl is literally a "loose" woman. Likely there's a whole set of issues around family shame that I don't have exact details on.

    Re: Middle Ages, I have seen discussion recently that premarital sex was much more common and accepted than we give credence to, including plague time when strictures were ignored. The point being, our impressions from 2012 are often colored by a few high profile data items among a wide variety of data sources. (of course women didn't write many books in the Middle Ages, so our chance of getting their view on the standards for rape are slim)


    Some of us, who have worked at Sexual Assault Centers are no ignorant on this topic, you however, are very uninformed on this topic. But I think you should keep posting your drivel, it does show that there are people out there so misinformed but so sure they are correct.

    Yes Resistance, women are so awful and they definitely cause their own rapes. You've posited that a young girls could use rape as an excuse, that they sleep around because they aren't chaste and moral, and it's all their fault, well buddy you are a perfect example of the very reason the majority of rape victims never say anything. 

    More of your drivel

    Too Much Crystal, hindering your thoughts?

    a perfect example of the very reason the majority of rape victims never say anything.

    Because the rapists, are not stoned to death or severely punished.  DOH!

    Todays, lost, immoral, Society doesn't punish the perpetrators as severely as they did in the days of old.

    Rapists get away with rape, and murderers get away with murder.

    Society now, doesn't want a strict law code and it's clear, innocent victims carry the burden.

    Please explain clearly what your meaning is in this statement:

    Too Much Crystal, hindering your thoughts?

    Again talking without facts.

    2/3 of murders are solved each year, and yes, lots of people go to jail.

    Average sentence for rape is 10 years, average time served is 5 years. Pretty severe. Under federal law, can be a lifetime sentence if severe.

    Innocent victimes carry the burden because often times the rapist is someone they know, and it's hard for the victim to speak out without retribution or being sure they'll be convicted (it's often he said-she said without court-admitted physical evidence)

    You really don't need to invoke Old Testament vs. Modern Times to figure this stuff out - simple reason is easier.

    yesYou really don't need to invoke Old Testament vs. Modern Times to figure this stuff out - simple reason is easier.enlightened

    How do you reason with those who reject reason, such as yourself; can I force you to agree with my reason or that I should shun yours?

    We establish rules that apply to all, even those who want to act unreasonably.

    What do you do, to a member of society, that says "screw the law" "each man/woman  do what they like"?   

    When Moses led an entire National group from Egypt, he had to establish law and order.

    Why shouldn't we benefit from his experience? 

    We don't have to reinvent the wheel, every time someone has a brain fart and thinks, they have a better idea.

    History records, Moses DID lead a Nation.  What have you done that we should listen to you?

    Take some "Gas X"  and get back with me.

    Resistance, you've been repeatedly warned in the past about personal attacks, and there are several more in this thread. Per the terms of service, I am temporarily suspending your account until further notice.

    It's so interesting that even tho' I was quoting PP's response to you, you chose to utilize disrespectful and negating terms directed at me, such as;

    Take some "Gas X" and get back with me.

    Yet, your responses to PP were very respectful and without the slings and arrows.

    You usually deflect and/or ignore specific queries - and your choice of any preaching on sexual morality is usually only targeted towards the female being a harlot, etc.

    As I stated on another thread, 'What I am asserting is that, to date, these 'laws' have been  (insert wrongly and unfairly) invoked by a majority of males. That is the core of my stance.' 

    That's all folks!

    I invoke a  common book, used for centuries as a guide book that was relied upon as wise counsel.  

    The Laws and principles of the Holy Scriptures of the Bible applied to all, rich or poor or whatever status in life. making it far more superior than the

    "Code of Hammurabi"

    "The Code consists of 282 laws, with scaled punishments, adjusting "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" (lex talionis)[1] as graded depending on social status, of slave versus free man."


    Would you agree PP;  common sense is not too common?

    That unreasonable men must also obey and follow the law?

    Sigh. Enjoy your break.

    Might I recommend "The Great Game" by Peter Hopkirk to take you far away from all this stuff? (and a fun read at that)

    I'm glad I wasn't stoned when my high school girlfriend and I used to have sex.  That was something I'm glad I remember!  We are talking about drugs, right?  Not stoning people for having consensual sex and calling it moral...

    You wouldn't have to be stoned, and it's not really about morals, but still, you ruined that girl! So that someone like Resistance would never marry her! Afterwards, as an object, it meant dishonor for her family as long as she was around, so she should have been gotten rid of somehow, maybe stoning, maybe something else, and then you should have given them your Honda as recompense.

    What about her honor? If it could be proven that she too was complicit in having underage sex. Taking all the risk inherit with having sex, with no real thought of marriage.  

    Doh! Doesn't the girl know babies are made this way? Or did she assume society will assume the responsibility and fix the mess?

    In todays modern world, forget the Honda.

    The girl could have multiple sex partners; get pregnant by all the men, go down to the local welfare office, apply for all sorts of assistance.

    She could then lay around the house, collecting child support and welfare, thanks to all you suckers, going to work day in and day out supporting her. 

    But don't question her honor?

    No;  I wouldn't marry such a girl.

    I don't see how either of us did anything dishonorable.

    Immorality, hahaha... it's funny that he is willing to judge everyone, (in particular those young, lying, loose women/girls)uses the crazy bible as his only source, but never employs the Judge Not, tenet.  Hmmm kind of a convenient pick and choose style Christianity, I don't know that Jesus would approve. Jesus himself loved a woman who slept around, as I understand it.

    Uh, babies *might be* made that way, just as 40-car pileups are caused by someone who got behind the wheel of a car with gas in it. Which doesn't mean sex is guaranteed to cause a baby or most driving is likely to cause a 40-car pileup. We've got the science down better than that these days.

    "all the risk" sounds scary. Humans have survived thousands and thousands of years with all that risk, and oddly still having "sex" despite the scare quotes.

    The girl could go in for ritual piercing, recite Aleister Crowley incantations, get a job as receptionist for Google, and go to cello lessons in her spare time. Meaning absolutely nothing. With millions of teens making personal choices, their-mileage-may-vary, but overall, there's no big rush to self-destruction.

    (note that humans unlike cats can't get pregnant from 2 fathers at same time, and with 9 month gestation plus some recovery time, there's some logistical limits to your concerns)

    And whether *you* would marry her is also irrelevant, as the odds state almost 100% that someone will marry her. There are "perfect" Brangelina couples notorious for pasts relationships, offcast Abby Sciuto couples with goth pierced-tongue hacker styles and other shared interests, a hot Adriana Lima lingerie model who saved herself for marriage with basketball star, a trailer park couple who share the same community values, etc.

    There's really no big crisis at this point, so don't know why you're panicking.

    Back in those days, who was going to raise the kid (s)?

    Today it's clear, society as a whole will take care of your "bastard" kids

    bastard: A person born of parents not married to each other.

    Back in the day, they didn't have a deficit creating welfare program, so who did the little harlot, THINK, was going to care for them, with no father around?


    Synonyms: call girl, concubine, courtesan, fallen woman, floozy, hooker, hussy, lady of the evening, loose woman, nymphomaniac, painted woman, slut, streetwalker, strumpet, tramp, whore


    No, it's not clear that society as a whole will take care of "bastard" kids.

    First, many "bastards" are born to unmarried couples who live together - you lose #1.

    Second, many "bastards" are taken care of by normal child support and visits from dad - you lose #2.

    Third, more laws have been passed recently to make it easier to garnish wages for child support in arrears - you lose #3.

    Fourth, your "synonyms" for harlot are not actual synonyms - there's a commonly accepted distinction between a "harlot" and a "slut" or "nympho", which is that the former takes money for sex as a job - possibly not enjoying the sex and possibly being foreced into it,  while the latter just enjoy lots of sex of their own choosing. And concubine is a still different category. You lose #4.

    Fifth, most prostitutes aren't putting bastards on the government's dime or even letting pregnancy go full term - and they mostly are using contraception . Or they use the morning-after pill, or at least get abortions long before the zygote has a chance to get a nervous system - you lose #5.

    Sixth - you offer no statistics for anything you say, and it's obvious you're wrong on much. Try this - only 1/3 of single parents are single. 45% are divorced or separated, 1% are widowed, 19% married (often re-married). So most of the issue is not pre-marital sex - :"sluts" or "harlots" as you put it -  it's marriages that don't work out. (Jessica Simpson saved herself for marriage - and was divorced within 3 years. Thanks for playing) - you lose #6


    However, 25% of children are being raised by a single parent, and 72% of black children are being raised be a single parent - trends that I don't think are terribly healthy even for basic economics - single families have less money than married families, and single female parents make 2/3 of what a single male parent makes:



    (about 4/5 of single familes are woman-led, and 1/4 of single male familes are in poverty, 2/5 of female-led single families are)

    In any case, your dogmatism and primal labeling of things as "harlot" and the like, all stern old testament terms or at least fitting of Victorian Age, have me averse to digging into this any more with you.

    I suggest chilling out, as I have before. The crisis is not where you seem to think it is, and overall, your conversational tone is note very polite (well, as if I should talk, but....)

    Rgds, PP


    What about the male's involved? Where is their 'honor'?  If you have addressed this issue, I must have missed it.  Please reiterate your stance on the males who are active participants in the act that creates 'life'.

    The male would be charged as a rapist and stoned to death; Unless the girl married him.  

    Which she probably would marry him, if it was her boyfriend all along. Being married she wouldn't be labeled a loose woman by the rest of society.

    Not a forced marriage either. Why would the innocent girl care, if the monster that raped her, got stoned to death?

    What about the unmarried male who chooses to 'lay' with a woman and the result is a pregnancy?  Would you assign him the same 'harlot' term?  What consequences as far as the pregnancy are his to 'bear'?

    In another thread you wrote

    Pretty sure that if it was up to women the law would now be that all pedophiles and rapists be castrated!)

    If you are not married and your actions produce a child; you've got one of two choices. be charged as a rapist or marry.

    and then you might ask the young girl, "why did you have sex and never consider you might conceive."

    It is not societies responsibility, to support you and the kids, when the responsibility to consider the ramifications, of your personal choices were made. 

    No one asked me to be there at conception, why am I called upon to do something now.

    Who is the responsible parties?

    Not me, I warned them not to have sex outside the marriage arrangement. 

    and then you might ask the young girl, "why did you have sex and never consider you might conceive."

    But, shouldn't the query be directed to the male and female?

    What Aunt Sam said.

    Though as males in society usually instigate sex, how about make them responsible for contraception? Men are more sluts than women.

    And since zygotes that aren't implanted in the uterine wall are quite common and not viable, why not support the morning-after pill - non-implanted zygotes are not life because they have no support system. Problem solved.

    Hey, try this:

    "I warned my kids not to do anything bad, and they did anyway. Am I responsible?"

    As someone who firmly supports a purely secular government, I'm not willing to entertain the notion, the discussion or legislation predicated on the same.  If your argument hinges upon purely metaphysical notions, it is, in my view, automatically disqualified from a discussion about what our laws shall be.

    A scenario in which you and a Akin supporter attempt to discuss abortion (or politics in general) is a perfect example of the political stalemate we are currently in.

    I'm not sure it's a political stalemate, but you're right that there's absolutely no chance of me yielding on that position.  I see it as a philosophical problem for them.  They choose to believe something for which there is no proof.  With that, I have no problem.  What I will not countenance is that this belief serves as justification for law.  And I have the First Amendment on my side.  They do not.

    Each of us comes to some determination as to what sources of understanding we allow to inform our decisions.  In a purely secular government, how does one come to decision on whether there should or should not be the death penalty, and if one does allow for it, where does draw the line on such as issues as to how old does the person need to be, what crimes and circumstances are punishable by death (Harold Ford on Morning Joe today blurted out he thinks rapists should get the death penalty).

    And when one comes down to it, where is your proof that we have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  Either one believes these rights are inalienable based on something metaphysical or we have to admit we just pulling these rights out of a hat because they make for a more civilized and humane society.  If anything nature shows us, no one or no creature has to right to live, let alone pursue happiness.

    And one could argue that in a country that embraces the principle of democracy, seeking legislation that is aligned with one's morality or one's ethics is part of the free exercise of one's religion. It's just that his or her neighbor has the same right as well.  The religious view against all abortions is not a strictly Christian belief nor of any one particular denomination's belief.  So establishing a prohibition against all abortions is not necessarily the government establishing a particular religion. 

    For me, the death penalty is easy.  If one person does not have the authority to take the life of another, then people collectively do not have that right.  We recognize that our system cannot be perfect, which is why we presume the innocence of the accused.  How many have been exonerated after serving partial life sentences?  The answer is too many to have confidence in a system that would have killed them otherwise.

    I don't have to believe any such thing vis a vis rights.  Rights are asserted and exist inasmuch as they can be protected.  That's it.  There is no metaphysical justification necessary.  You can say that you have the right not to have your head kicked in, but that right only exists if you can actually prevent people from kicking your head in.  The metaphysics of it is so much Enlightenment hangover.

    People are allowed to believe whatever they want.  I expect them to pursue their values.  That doesn't mean their views or arguments are valid.  Abortion need not be prohibited on a strictly religious basis - though I say this must be acknowledged as the reality we're dealing with.

    The justification must still have a basis.  If the basis is not religious, then what is it?

    Personally, I don't believe in any metaphysical basis for any right or authority.  But most people are not comfortable with the notion that we just create what rights and authority exist, which also means we can just turn around decide such and such right and such and such authority doesn't exist anymore.  Things such as "Will of the People" can take on metaphysical properties as much as a God blessing us with the right to freedom.   The end result of taking away the metaphysical facet, and thus the inalienable and absoluteness, of rights is that one is left with nothing solid to stand on.  It just becomes one's belief vs. another's belief - and just as you can easily say the other's person's views and arguments are invalid, they can say the same about yours.  Any assertion of a right become simply an opinion, subject to debate.

    If one takes out the religious/spiritual facet from the basis of law, what is the basis for a prohibition of one neighbor killing another neighbor because they can't agree on where the property line goes?  Might makes right.  Don't let your mouth start an argument your fists can't finish.  Generally speaking we allow for an individual to kill another individual if the former reasonably believes that the latter is presenting an imminent threat to his or her own life. We allow for the defense to claim Battered Wife Syndrome - but such was not always the case.  And so on.  We draw lines, and then we modify those lines. 

    It's not belief versus belief.  Again, belief is not required here.  What's left to stand on is all there every really was, which is to attempt at reasoning with the facts.  To pose this as a lack of foundation in contrast to whatever ad hoc system of metaphysics might be the alternative is silly to me.  And yes, any assertion is subject to debate.

    The point is that the debate should be based on fact, not metaphysical conjecture.  Opinions are fine.  People can and should reason and draw them, but we should demand that they not inject their own "facts."  Metaphysical claims that cannot be bolstered with real evidence are not admissible.  That which can be asserted without evidence can likewise be dismissed.

    The basis for prohibition of, say, killing is obvious and pragmatic.  It requires no metaphysical basis, only for people to mutually realize and agree upon the notion that prohibiting murder is better than not.  There is a simple, sound and logical argument for this.

    Not all arguments for rules are so simple, nor are agreements so easily reached, but that doesn't change the fact that the process maintains.  We don't throw out the scientific method because discoveries become harder to make on the margin, just as we needn't abandon a debate grounded in fact and reason simply because agreement is harder to reach on some issues.

    The line from the Brothers Karamazov is frequently brought up: Without God anything is permissible (paraphrased).

    But this is only because we are the recipients of long-standing tradition. Who knows what really happened on Mt. Sinai, but the tradition says that God gave Moses the 10 commandments.

    But maybe he culled and redacted them from existing traditions. Or maybe the people were destroying themselves and he decided they needed a few simple rules. Don't kill your neighbor. Don't steal from him. Don't go after his wife or leer at her. And so on.

    And then, because he commanded great respect as a leader, he came down from the mountain and "said" God had revealed these rules to him. The people believed him, but were mostly grateful because they knew they were destroying themselves.

    Similarly with the Founders. How did they come to enumerate certain things as rights, inalienable because they came from God? They don't claim (as far as I know) that God revealed to them this list of rights.

    I think we have to say that, at bottom, they talked about them, discussed them, and decided that certain things were fundamental rights at some deep level that is most easily conveyed by ascribing their provenance to God.

    Frequently a distinction is made between legislation that is voted on...and rights that aren't subject to a vote. But the difference isn't quite as fundamental as is often portrayed. The Founders discussed which rights were "rights" and not subject to the vagaries of majority opinion and which ones weren't.


    from the declaration of independence:

    that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    looks like a little religious or metaphysics to me.


    But my point is that THEY, the Founders, all human beings, wrote these words and had to AGREE to them (just as we have to agree to legislation).

    That is, they could have agreed to other wording, right? They didn't, but they could have. Why not?

    As with regular legislation, God didn't reveal them on Mt. Sinai, and that's just not me talking. I don't think the Founders ever claimed they had a revelation from God.

    Soul, schmole. The baby-in-utero is alive, outside it is dead. Ergo, we killed the baby. Lamentable, but alternative legal structures are worse.

    I have no disagreement with that, except to note that a blastocyst and a born child are not the same thing.

    Why?  Conservatives of all kinds have traditionally held that there are various circumstances in which we are permitted to dispatch a human life from its mortal coil, even though that life has a soul.  They think state leaders, for example, are entitled to dispatch great quantities of ensouled human beings in other countries for various reasons.  So why shouldn't they accept that the unique and unequaled entanglement of the fetus's life with its mother's life gives the mother a kind of sovereign right and privilege over the processes taking place in her body, soul or no soul?

    I think at bottom here, the abortion debate is about the social power struggle between men and women.   If you take the line I have been taking, the result is that women have a kind of collective discretionary authority over the future existence of humanity that men are uncomfortable in ceding to them.

    ,.....the result is that women have a kind of collective discretionary authority over the future existence of humanity that men are uncomfortable in ceding to them.

    Can't imagine it could be stated better.  Thank you.

    the abortion debate is about the social power struggle between men and women.

    I would agree that this is woven into the debate, in the same manner that this power struggle is woven into any debate related to social issues. 

    But as discussed by others, there is the issue of innocent souls and sinning souls, etc.  I bring up the topic of souls because this is point of reference from which many of pro-lifers begin their debate.  It is how they perceive the parameters of the discussion, which has nothing to do with the extent to which in reality the gender wars are being fought out in the subtext.

    In other words, the next time you get into a debate with a pro-lifer, stop them and explain to them that they are really just participating in a reiteration of the discourse through which the power of the patriarchy is created and maintained.

    Well, I don't get into debates with pro-lifers, so I probably won't get the chance to try it out.

    I'm just giving my views on what I think is often motivating them, not offering useful bullet points for a debate.

    I think we're getting a little closer to home here, Dan.  On some level, this is really all about patriarchy.

    I think we all should consider the 'human is human' rationale. 

    The theory is very easy to support - a fetus in most instances, like any other life form, begins it's journey as a small particle of yes, life.

    However, human also applies to the woman whose body is the vessel that provides the shelter and is responsible for the nourishment of this small life form. 

    I believe in the sanctity of the life form, but that's my choice and mine alone.  Just as it should be for any woman no matter her stance,

    Perhaps I am being overly sensitive and/or dealing with residual anger/frustration due to the fact that males have had the audacity and yes, damn it, the power, to 'decide' the laws of the land in this matter.

    No male, even sensitive and caring ones, can begin to truly understand how pregnancy impacts a woman, physically, emotionally and mentally.  For men, a discussion or even offering up of processes on 'how it should be' is either an exercise in fine tuning their philosophical renderings or another form of blathering on about something that really never 'touches' their physical being up close and personal. 

    If it were possible, sadly at this time it is not, men should not have any sway in the decision making regarding this topic. 

    Human is Human - might it better serve us all better to discuss humanity - since that's something that we can all experience and share the responsibility, pains and gains equally.

    Men do tend to predominate these discussions, philosophizing and rationalizing a choice they will never personally have to make unless they decide to forcibly abort some woman's fetus.

    Still I am not ready to shut them out of the legal decision making.  That would too easily let them off the hook for the role that society-at-large plays in a woman's choice. 

    I would, however, prefer that the men (and women) on the current pro-choice side stop pretending or deluding themselves that a fetus is not human life.  

    Because we do not live in a perfect world, abortion will always be a choice, legal or not, but it should never be an easy one and never based on specious rationales or inhumane social conventions.



    A fetus that cannot survive outside the womb on its own is not the same as a born child.  If it was, there would likely be no debate.  The reality is that there is no clear bright line as to when life truly begins.  We can say it happens at conception, as this is the easiest and clearest call to make, but there are obvious problems with this.  If all fetuses are equal to all other lives, why do we not hold funerals when women miscarry?  It's because they aren't people in the sense that all the other people we know are.  We have never spoken to them or seen them.  They have no resonance in our life in the way that the people around us do.

    At some point in pregnancy and prior to birth, the fetus will reach the point of viability outside of the womb.  This is probably the easiest point at which we can say that it would be equivalent to killing a born child.  Prior to this, there are various other developments, heart beats and brain waves, etc,, where we could try to draw other lines, but to pretend that any of them jump out as clear, bright lines is to pretend that we can even begin to explain our own consciousness.  It is to ignore both what we know and do not know.

    What I would like is for people to stop trying to draw the hard lines, to acknowledge the complexity of the issue and that there probably isn't a simple, bumper-sticker-ready answer.

    Come to think of it, maybe conception isn't such a clear, bright line after all:

    Sorites paradox supercharged by morality

    Indeed.  I understand the desire for a clear moral answer here, but it drives us too often toward untenable absolutes.

    You can consider a fetus fully human and still easily justify an abortion. If the mother does not want it, the fetus becomes an intruder inside her. If it is not welcome, it is stealing resources from the mother (oxygen, nutrients) and essentially assaulting her from the inside. While it may not be aware of its transgression or have much choice, any human doing that to another would be stopped.

    In the case of rape, the fetus continues the assault that started with the rape.

    Assault may be met with force to stop it, with the only effective force being abortion. If there were a lesser way to stop the continuing theft and assault, that would probably more appropriate. But there isn't.




    This sounds very close to Murray Rothbard's views:

    Okay, let's parse words and split hairs.

    You are using 'viable' in the more recent and limited gynecological sense.  In the broader biological sense viable means 'capable of normal growth and development'.  

    Using that definition, consider a pre-fetus, an embryo that is conceived in a Petri dish, flash frozen and held at sub-zero for a decade or so before being implanted into a surrogate who carries it to a successful live birth.  It was most definitely capable of normal growth and development even under extremely abnormal circumstances.  If that is not viable, I do not know what would be.

    But even using your more limited definition, is a newborn really more capable of surviving just by because it outside the womb?  No. It still needs the mother or a surrogate.  Doctors and other gynecologists only use the term's limited definition as convenient professional jargon.

    What I would like is for people to stop trying to draw the hard lines, to acknowledge the complexity of the issue and that there probably isn't a simple, bumper-sticker-ready answer.

    ​​I cannot believe you are insinuating that you are better acknowledging the complexity of the issue by erasing humanity and life from a single stage of development.  Abortion is a life or death decision and lines do not get harder or brighter than that.  And no, there is no simple, bumper-sticker-ready answers.  Better to realize that before rather than after having one.

    Come to think of it, maybe conception isn't such a clear, bright line after all:

    ​I was trying to remember whether you were a he or she.  Embedding Monty Python's Every Sperm is Sacred skit inclines me to think you are male.  But maybe not.  Sins of Onan are good for laughs, cheap adolescent ones anyway.

    ​Have you ever really thought about conception?  How the synergy from the combination of two microscopic cells produces enough energy to grow, with remarkably little additional fuel, an adult human being and live for almost a century.  Absolutely mind boggling.

    In case it was not clear and for the record, I am pro-choice but not under false premises.

    You are using 'viable' in the more recent and limited gynecological sense.  In the broader biological sense viable means 'capable of normal growth and development'.

    Commencing the parsing and splitting... engage.

    If you prefer this definition, then let's kick your little hypothetical to the curb and acknowledge a couple of things about reality.  One, not all zygotes become blastocysts and not all blastocysts become fetuses. Let's take this moment to acknowledge you reached for a strained hypothetical and declined to address my very real point about how we respond to miscarriages, which is the body telling us that particular collection of cells was not going to make it.  This is an obvious cultural touchstone that reveals a deep truth about what our real human relationship is to these entities, but it does not seem to support your argument here.

    I agree that newborn children also cannot survive on their own (I'm actually rather fond of pointing this out to self-styled rugged individualists.. those little freeloading bastards! Why can't they lift themselves up by their bootstraps!).  But this seems to provide less clarity, not more.  The zygote in your hypothetical cannot survive without a laboratory.  Even babies born normally but prematurely frequently require time in the ICU.  I did.  Had I been born a century earlier, I simply would have died.  Technology made it possible for me to live.  Without it, I would not have been viable in any definition you might prefer.  Compare this to a born child, who can survive with the care of only a single person with no special tools, training or equipment.  You want to say all of the stages are the same, but it's obvious they aren't.

    I am truly sorry that you cannot find any humor in Monty Python.  Truly.  Zygotes are sacred.  No love for gametes I guess.

    Have you ever really thought about conception?  How the synergy from the combination of two microscopic cells produces enough energy to grow, with remarkably little additional fuel, an adult human being and live for almost a century.  Absolutely mind boggling.

    Emma, this comment is so stupid and condescending that I can hardly believe I'm reading it.  Have I ever really thought about conception?  No, I've only sat through countless hours of sex education in primary, secondary and post-secondary school, but I wasn't paying attention at all.  I only deploy terms like zygote and blastocyst because I think they  sound cool, not because I have any actual understanding of the subject or ever really thought about it.  Usually when someone reaches this point in the debate, they have completely run out of substance.

    Furthermore, your condescending comment displays a certain ignorance.  You write as if the spark of life touches off and needs nothing more for it to thrive for nearly century.  This is profoundly ignorant.  Do you know how may calories a baby consumes in the womb?  By the third trimester a mother needs to consume 25% more calories than normal in order to birth a child that won't even be one tenth her mass.  After that, it'll only cost another $200k or so in resources to get the child to adulthood - far short of the century you've cited.  FWIW, that's far more than the fuel cost of a mid-sized SUV over the same 18 year term.  But you say it all happens somewhat magically with "little additional fuel."  Fancy that.

    Your position is not so ponderous as you seem to think.  It's fit for a bumper-sticker ("A fetus is a human life!") and does not hold up to scrutiny in my view.

    You are using 'viable' in the more recent and limited gynecological sense.  In the broader biological sense viable means 'capable of normal growth and development'.  

    Using that definition, consider a pre-fetus, an embryo that is conceived in a Petri dish, flash frozen and held at sub-zero for a decade or so before being implanted into a surrogate who carries it to a successful live birth.  It was most definitely capable of normal growth and development even under extremely abnormal circumstances.  If that is not viable, I do not know what would be.

    But even using your more limited definition, is a newborn really more capable of surviving just by because it outside the womb?  No. It still needs the mother or a surrogate.  Doctors and other gynecologists only use the term's limited definition as convenient professional jargon.

    Interesting points, but not sure I can agree.

    I think viable means capable of living outside of the mother regardless of any support provided. Capable of living "on its own" in that sense--not that it doesn't need any support of any kind.

    Using the broader definition would mean that virtually all fetuses are viable, which would make the distinction meaningless--because then we'd have to define "normal" growth and development. There are all kinds of people whom we'd all agree can't live without support and whose killing we'd all call murder.

    The flash-frozen embryo is not viable. It needs the freezing. It needs the implantation. It can't live "on its own." On its own life force.

    Your last paragraph is interesting, and I've heard it before, but I don't think it washes. Yes, the baby needs caring, but it no longer needs the mother's body to survive. The addition of "surrogate" changes things, because the baby no longer needs its mother, is no longer a part of the mother in that sense.

    I think this is a clear distinction, and not just "convenient professional jargon."



    After reading this thread and others like it here and around the blogosphere, I am now convinced that I was wrong and you were right.  It would be better if men stayed away from the issue.



    It's not that I think they should 'stay away' from the issue, after all without their contribution there would not be a need for any debate.  I do feel that if their participation in the act created the pregnancy then of course they have a voice in that specific instance (unless of course the pregnancy is a result of rape).

    But, as far as having sway in any laws/regulations - I fervently object.  Males cannot begin to understand or truly relate to what and how a woman endures and experiences from  even the fear of rape, much less personally being a victim of rape and/or the travails of pregnancy.  Not to mention the physical, mental and emotional repercussions from rape and pregnancy.  

    Any input by the male is based not on any personal experience or fear of consequences, but an exercise mired in only philosophical and/or judgmental processes.  IMO, their 'sitting in judgment' is the epitome of hubris.  (How about women dominate and decide if men should or shouldn't have vasectomies or be circumcised? Pretty sure that if it was up to women the law would now be that all pedophiles and rapists be castrated!)

    It's interesting that there is so little, if any, content regarding the male's role not only in the actions that created either or both results, but also the aftermath. 

    Human is human, but within the human species, there are two very different and unique groups of beings.

    Yeah, no male has ever been butt-raped or had the fear of entering a place where they were guaranteed be beaten and molested repeatedly, or be made to be someone's personal bitch slave doing degrading favors for years at a time with the threat of violence over even death hanging over their head. So they should just STFU, the slackers.

    Until they can become pregnant as a result of the rape, then as far as any laws regarding a pregnancy, then yeah, STFU.

    From your comment above:

    "Males cannot begin to understand or truly relate to what and how a woman endures and experiences from  even the fear of rape, much less personally being a victim of rape and/or the travails of pregnancy.  Not to mention the physical, mental and emotional repercussions from rape and pregnancy."

    Having someone close to me basically destroyed psychologically by prison rape, and in the end committing suicide, perhaps I'm a bit tuned in to the issue, but someone I thought you might acknowledge you overstepped.

    But I guess females cannot begin to understand or truly relate blah blah blah...

    Somehow I think I have more capacity to understand rape and the traumas of subsequent pregnancy than you have to understand males at all, or at least more than you're willing to display.

    And as I've pointed out before, there are issues about pregnancy and birth that affect society as a whole - such as abortions the day before full-term for personal whims - and the idea that late late-term decision is only something concerning the lady and her doctor is flawed.



    As I've stated before, I would not presume to contribute to the analysis or assign to a male rape victim any 'right or wrong' paths, emotions, et al.  I would strongly advocate for the strongest consequences possible for the rapist. 

    I do believe there is a whole set of emotional, mental and physical ramifications for male victims that women are incapable of really grasping, much less experiencing - and vice versa. 


    I have more faith in the empathetic abilities of humans to get past their own experience in understanding problems and experiences elsewhere that they don't have 1st-hand knowledge of.

    But, as far as having sway in any laws/regulations - I fervently object. Males cannot begin to understand or truly relate to what and how a woman endures and experiences from  even the fear of rape, much less personally being a victim of rape and/or the travails of pregnancy.

    How would that work, exactly?

    But even if we could make it work, there seem to be a fair number of pro-life women, some number of whom might not want to make exceptions even for incest or rape or might want to restrict access to abortion in other ways.

    If it came down to voting on referenda or legislation or approving justices, wouldn't you want some pro-choice males to heavy up your side?

    I say this as someone with a fair amount of sympathy for this position.

    Of course.  What I am asserting is that, to date, these 'laws' have been invoked by a majority of males.  That is the core of my stance.

    Okay. I don't actually understand what you're saying here, but maybe it's because I'm depressed (truly).

    This whole thread is bizarre and has managed to depress me more than I was depressed on my own.

    'Don't worry, Be Happy!'  smiley  There is much to celebrate about life, liberty and now go pursue happiness! 

    Daggers, the fact is there have always been abortions, and there will always be abortions.

    That's not metaphysical or opinion, it is fact.

    Neither Mr. Akin, Mr. Ryan, the GOP nor uterus police can stop desperate women from seeking abortions and getting them.

    The question is will terminating a pregnancy be safe and legal, or will women die in back alleys. I don't think women should die to end an unwanted pregnancy. I also think women should have every chance to prevent needing one with parental planning and birth control, for which the GOP also wants to throw up barriers or eliminate funding.

    Everything you wrote made sense. 

    So start the "Church of Abortion Advocates" made up of like minded congregants who believe in the teachings of the "Church of Abortion Advocates". and pass around your own collection plate.

    Those opposed to abortions, for all the reasons you've heard and read; should not have to pay to support the "Church of Abortion Advocates"

    My Church teaches, life is sacred.  

    The governments role in taxation is for Defense and we collect taxes for the common good such as police and fire; the case for the CDC is brought under the umbrella of defense.

    For some people abortion is a right, The government has ruled, abortion is legal,

    Exercise your right to an abortion,  but realize, it is not the responsibility of those opposed to the taking of life, paying for your choice.

    Just because driving is a right privilege,, doesn't mean we have to buy you a car.

    The case can be made, for those opposed to war, are still responsible to pay taxes, for the common good.

    (For those who think the unrecognized fetus is a blob. We don't need to have the government paying, for everyone, to have a new tooth brush, no matter that we know for personal hygiene it is highly recommended.)  

    Those of you who disagree with the Congregations of  pro- lifers,  Start passing around your own collection plate, to support your teachings, of abortions virtues.

    How all you members of the "Congregation of the Church of Abortion Advocates"  figures out the financing mechanism, is your choice. 

    The government can stay out of your business. 

    The  government should not, help promote or support your Congregation. other than protecting those who exercise their perceived right, against charges of murder.

    Ramona,  this may offer a solution.

    Those who want to pay for abortions can opt into a system.

    But absolutely, NO government assistance; the money should come from supporters of abortions not from those who oppose.

    Our Government should not be agents for Baal.

    Why was there so much uproar over government funding of Planned Parenthood?

    Get the government out of the business of promoting Baal over all other faiths.

    Resistance, that solution is already in place.  Read the link I provided.  But how about this?  Stop judging all women by some thin, archaic, hard-nosed measure and start trying to understand that there are some things about women's bodies that are none of your business.

    I have no problem with YOU minding your business, just don't expect us to pay for your decisions.

    I don't want the never ending divisive abortion issue, to be the cause the right wing is looking for, to eliminate all other safety net issues. We have limited resources,

    I am commanded by my faith, to care for widows and orphans, and we include acts of love and kindness by feeding and caring for the less fortunate. ...Do you agree? If so, we have a common ground, a General welfare for one another.  

    For the common good, for the general welfare, is the basis for government intrusion.

    Your personal choices to end life, is not ours; so common ground will never be reached.

    If you want to bear children or not, how you conceived, thats your business and gods, if you have one.

    Don't bring me into the decision, and don't expect me to pay either way.  

    If you want eight kids thats your business, but don't come crying to me when you cant provide. Or never gave it a thought when you conceived.  

    Take the pill I don't care, wear a condom I don't care, don't wear one I don't care have kids I don't care, thats your business, not mine

    When you contact STDs dont make it my business, when you get pregnant dont make it my business, if you don't intend to carry the child full term,


    If you want me, a lover of life, to help nurture the child, with prenatal care, then we have a common ground. You want my help,  I'll gladly do what is not in opposition to MY business or personal beliefs.

    You mind YOUR business.    

    I have no problem with YOU minding your business, just don't expect us to pay for your decisions.

    Agreed. If you want to build a church to push your propaganda I have no problem with it. Just pay taxes on the property like every other person. If you want to run a school to brainwash your children with psuedoscience and myths, go ahead. Just don't expect us to pay for it with tax policies or vouchers. You want to give money to support your religion, fine. But don't expect us to help you pay for it through the tax code.

    Excellent point. But remember, Republicans have different rules--they only object to government support for things they don't like. If they like it, of course it's worthy of government support.

    Don't bring me into the decision, and don't expect me to pay either way.

    Having read through this and other threads, Resistance, I think I understand your position on this issue.

    But I don't think the above works as a principle in a democracy in which almost every government decision that involves action, inaction, and money for either choice has its strong detractors and supporters.

    The obvious example is the decision to go to war. Even as an objector to the invasion of Iraq, I was "brought into the decision," even, you could say, against my will. America invaded Iraq, not just those who agreed with the decision.

    Back when we had a draft, we had COs. We also had tax resisters, who refused to pay for war. But even though these were personal decisions, they were still made to have an impact on America's conduct.

    You could say that these people were personally opting out of a national decision to conduct war in Vietnam. But I think it's more accurate to say that these people bore witness to an action, taken on behalf of all Americans including them, that they felt was immoral.

    They were not saying, I would submit, "Do as you want, but leave me out of it and don't ask me to pay for it."

    This whole idea is ridiculous. The government spends money. Each individual has some  program they object to.Why single this one out. I'll agree with your objection if you agree with mine. No government funding for abortion if there is no government funding for christian education or social service programs and the ending of all tax exempt provision for religious organizations. I don't want the government spending any money to promote the illiterate and hate filled christian agenda.

    I've already stated above, start your own church of the Congregation of Abortion Advocates.

    Take advantage of a system that allows deductions.

    Eliminate the deductions I dont care. But I can assure you the charities will suffer.

    The government needs to get out of the business of picking winners and losers.

    Read what I wrote to Ramona above.

    Get the government out of our lives, except to raise taxes for defense, or the Common good.

    I am against abortions and evidently you are for,


    Abortion advocates, need to start their own church. Pass the plate amongst yourselves,  It's not my business, send your kids to schools  that'll  teach abortion is acceptable, it's not my business.

    You know, I will put nothing on that plate, so don't force me to.

    You want to feed the poor, put money or food in the basket we pass around.

    You have never paid a dime for anyone's abortion and you never will.  Your whole point here is to repeat, repeat, repeat how you feel about abortion.  We know how you feel.  You know how we feel.

    Let's move on.

    You have never paid a dime for anyone's abortion and you never will.

    I asked you above about Planned Parenthood.

    Was public money used, to promote abortions or contraceptives or did they do as accused ?

    Because one of you; is not telling the Truth.

    "Every year Planned Parenthood receives hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding. Along with the strong majority of Americans who oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, we find this situation completely unacceptable. Not only is Planned Parenthood the largest killer of innocent unborn human life in America, but it has also been repeatedly found to violate basic laws designed to protect the safety of our underage children. In addition, Planned Parenthood regularly posts large profits."


    genghis wrote

    But that's an ugly position to endorse, and most mainstream abortion opponents won't do it. They stick to their contradictory principles.

    I guess I am not mainstream.

    But I do offer a solution.

    Now if only these placating politicians would listen and had a spine to implement.

    No government money received by Planned Parenthood goes for abortions.  None.  But government money aids PP in helping women who might not get ob/gyn help otherwise.  Got a problem with that?

    The only problem I have...... is finding the truth.

    The following is a list of useful abortion statistics .....

    All abortion numbers are derived from pro-abortion sources courtesy of The Alan Guttmacher Institute and

    Planned Parenthood's Family Planning Perspectives.


    Number of abortions per year: Approximately 42 Million
    Number of abortions per day: Approximately 115,000


    Number of abortions per year: 1.37 Million (1996)
    Number of abortions per day: Approximately 3,700

    Who's having abortions (age)?
    52% of women obtaining abortions in the U.S. are younger than 25: Women aged 20-24 obtain 32% of all abortions; Teenagers obtain 20% and girls under 15 account for 1.2%.

    Who's having abortions (income)?
    Women with family incomes less than $15,000 obtain 28.7% of all abortions; Women with family incomes between $15,000 and $29,999 obtain 19.5%; Women with family incomes between $30,000 and $59,999 obtain 38.0%; Women with family incomes over $60,000 obtain 13.8%.

    Why women have abortions
    1% of all abortions occur because of rape or incest; 6% of abortions occur because of potential health problems regarding either the mother or child, and 93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient).

    Abortion coverage:
    ......About 14% of all abortions in the United States are paid for with public funds, .........


    And yet you have no problem finding resources that shore up your own beliefs.  The truth is out there.  Many of us have provided links to sites that show clearly the lines drawn over Planned Parenthood funding but you apparently chose not to read them.  They're out there.  If you really want to find them, you will.

    Apparently it never crossed your mind that I really didn't see them, not that I chose not to read them? It fits your meme to suggest otherwise? 


    Yes, we will never find common ground. Eventually one side will win and the other will lose. Its not just this issue. its much more than that. You think you hold the high moral ground and I think you occupy the low moral ground. Its a fundamental philosophical and ethical disagreement about how we see the world and what compassion  means.

    No ocean kat it can be a win/ win for the Democrats.

    The Democratic train has many mountains to climb, time to unload some of the baggage.

    As I noted, some on this blog referred to the fetus as bioblastic(?) material or we seem to get into deep discussion as to when life begins.

    Who cares, I have my opinion and they have theirs.

    No matter how intellectual the conversation with the right wing; you can explain how it’s a woman's right to choose, till you're blue in the face.

    All the Right and those of faith hears is, blah, blah, blah, blah, and all the while they think to themselves "the Democrats are the party that kills babies".

    Eliminate that thorny issue. Make sure the perception that government money supports the party, which kills babies…….. Is False.... it’s a lie

    You have your right to choose, a win.

    If ..... There is not a tinge of government money involved.

    Take away the reasons why, they shouldn't vote for a Democrat.

    It’s legal for abortions, …..Women won

    We dont have to highlight or draw attention to the Democratic Party as accomplices.

    You've won already.

    What individual members of either party do with their private lives is neither parties business.

    The opening for a Supreme court reconsideration of abortion, is how abortion will be funded. Eliminate the possibility for a review.

    Support the woman’s right to abortions with Private money, or; truly eliminate the perception, that the Democrats in power, will use taxpayer money to support abortions.

    No back door deception or it undermines the Democrats.

    How many humans is human?

    It is argued that a fertilized egg is a human being because if left untouched and assuming no difficulties with implantation and other pregnancy milestones it will develop into a full fledged breathing, thinking, conscious being that will be unquestionably human.

    This is also true of stem cells.

    Some somewhat readily available molecular biology tricks and voila,  a mini me. And then another one and another one and so on ad infinitum. Thus, abortion is not just murder - its genocide.

    It would be quite consistent for the anti-abortion advocates to believe in human cloning. Cannot let all those potentially human stem cells go to waste. 


    Also, this is some interesting genetic data concerning the probability of conception after rape:

    "We have identified a Y-chromosomal lineage with several unusual features. It was found in 16 populations throughout a large region of Asia, stretching from the Pacific to the Caspian Sea, and was present at high frequency: ∼8% of the men in this region carry it, and it thus makes up ∼0.5% of the world total. The pattern of variation within the lineage suggested that it originated in Mongolia ∼1,000 years ago. Such a rapid spread cannot have occurred by chance; it must have been a result of selection. The lineage is carried by likely male-line descendants of Genghis
    Khan, and we therefore propose that it has spread by a novel form of social selection resulting from their behavior."

    Taken from:

    Zerjal et al, American Journal of Human Genetics, 2003.

    Either Genghis Khan was one handsome devil or approximately 0.5% of the world's male population owes it's existence to rape. By a single individual.

    It is very unlikely that in all of history Genghis Khan was the only powerful figure to indulge in a little raping. Thus, I think that it would not be a stretch to say that that most humans in existence today have some act of rape to thank for their existence.


    I wonder if those rapes were legitimate





    No relation, just for the record.

    On second thought, I suppose that there could be some relation, given his fecundity. How does one get tested for Genghis Khan lineage?

    Fancy a nice bowl of warm mare's milk? Then you might just be descended, etc., etc.

    Maybe it's time for the children of Genghis Khan to finally discover their true identity and come together.

    "We are the 0.5%!"

    Pariah; A social outcast, one who doesn't fit in with the morals of society

    Well, at least until you become a national pariah.

    Some people don’t care if they are pariahs, but I don’t see that in Akins slipup.

    I think folks were pretty hard on Akin for being Human.

    At the risk of offending many I consider friends, allow me to play devil's advocate:

    It's not just a binary choice that a fetus is either a "full human" or is not. One could also say that it's unknown (I'll avoid using a quantum superposition analogy, for now). We can then look at the "evidence". Different levels of evidence might be required to allow a woman to abort her fetus based off the situation. For example, if we're 80% confident that a fetus is a "full human", then we might forbid abortion in all cases except the life of the mother. If we're only 1% confident, then we might allow it in all cases except "forgot to use birth control". (Again, consider if this was a "full human". We don't tend to take risks with our own lives that have a 1% chance of death. Except for possibly Jolly.) I think it's also logical to posit that the confidence we have in a fetus being a "full human" could be a function of how long s/he has gestated.

    As I said in the intro, I'm playing devil's advocate, and I have no desire to limit a woman's reproductive rights. I do, however, think there's some validity to these arguments, and think that we have an ethical responsibility to consider the possibilities that we could be killing a "full human", and I personally do think that the confidence is a non-decreasing function of gestational time (starting at 0%). Getting the government involved is a whole other story, as I have a close friend who was forced to terminate a pregnancy near viability because the fetus was causing her immense pain (it had an abnormal growth that kept getting bigger and was pressing on her internal organs), and it was already horrible enough for her without having to go through the hoops that government regulation might have caused had she lived in another state.

    forgot to use birth control.

    I like your thinking on this.

    That puts the burden and responsibility, solely on the person.  

    Their forgetfulness or carelessness, should not be an excuse to end life.

    For those opposed to contraception, they should assume their responsibility too.

    What do we need to do, to inform people how babies are made?  

    The other day I was reminded that we care more for migratory birds. If you start a marsh, where birds, other animals and tadpoles gather;  you cant stop the water so as to stop or kill the marshland inhabitants. 

    Nice to see you, atheist. It's certainly possible for us to conclude that a fetus is not "fully" human but still merits legal protection, as is the case for some animals. So you could be a consistent abortion opponent who does not believe that life begins at conception.

    But I don't think there are too many of those. Once you get into the question of how human is it, then you've already lost the argument for banning first trimester abortions. To most of us, "how human is an early stage fetus" has a pretty obvious answer: Not very. As the fetus develops, that question becomes harder to answer, but we've more or less settled on 24 weeks a getting pretty close to humanness. Closer to term, we're all abortion opponents.

    But there's some ambiguity in your comment because you also suggested that a fetus's humanity might be unknowable, so we could use some kind of probabilistic calculation. That's frankly the weirdest answer I've ever heard. A fetus does not have an eigenvalue. How would you measure its probable humanness? What does that even mean?

    A fetus does not have an eigenvalue.


    Although I could easily justify my answer in terms of quantum superpositions (until we observe the fetus, the fetus is in a superposition of being fully human and being not fully human) or eigenstates, what I really have in mind is more of something borrowed from the legal profession (where my knowledge is admittedly lacking): preponderance of evidence. In reality most statements in a court of law are either true or not true, but juries (in civil cases) are asked to judge if the plaintiff's case is supported by the preponderance of evidence. If you want to go more rigorous, consider a criminal case of murder. Either the defendant murdered the victim or s/he didn't. But, the jury has to decide if s/he's guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which to me is very much a probabilistic calculation (if a somewhat vague one).

    You do also raise an interesting alternative argument about the fetus not being "fully human" but still having limited rights. I'm glad that you recognize the difference between that argument and the one I proposed, as I don't hear the one I propose mentioned by others. (The two arguments can overlap, of course.)

    Edit to add: Lest I leave any ambiguity, I absolutely believe that the humanity of a fetus as a function of time is unknowable. First, the concept of humanity or being fully human is imprecise and different people implicitly use different working definitions. Second, the implicit definition that most people use is of something unmeasurable (whether it's having a soul or having a consciousness, etc).

    Ill-defined is different from unknowable. In your analogy, you describe a fact of the matter that the judge or jury is unable to determine with insufficent evidence.

    But unless you go for theology, there is no "fact of the matter" when it comes to attributions of humanity. Humanity is what we humans define humanity to be. Unfortunately, we're not all employing exactly the same criteria, so we have this dispute.

    Because the dispute is essentially semantic rather than empirical, it makes no sense to speak of probability. Probability is an empirical concept.

    I think this is a good point, G.  Even if we pick an empirical criterion with which to draw the line, it's still only semantically tied to "human."

    For me, given my own personal ill-defined definition of "being human", the ambiguity is both semantic and empirical. As I try to narrow down the semantics, whether it's "has consciousness"->"has gamma wave activity in a proto-brain" or "has enough active neurons to generate emergent behaviors" (you see my research bias leaking through again), the empirical ambiguities replace the semantic ambiguities. If we're considering gamma wave activity, do we adjust for the reduced number of neurons à la mice and rats, or do we only consider human-scale gamma waves. I don't know for certain, but I'm fairly sure that young children have the same gamma waves as adults, but I'm less certain about newborns, and I don't know if any studies have been done on it. If we're considering "enough active neurons to generate emergent behaviors", well that's also ambiguous as what's an emergent behavior, and of course we can't apply that across the board because mice and rats also have enough neurons to generate emergent behaviors (which they have, of course).

    If we could agree on a semantic meaning, it's possible that we could greatly reduce the empirical uncertainties, but I'm quite convinced we couldn't eliminate them, as they are not just empirical but also philosophical à la Theseus' ship or the sorites paradox. I don't believe there's a point in the womb where the fetus suddenly switches from being "not-fully-human" to being "fully-human", or that passing through the birth canal causes that magical switch either. This is a hard question, even if we could all consider it 100% rationally.

    I'm using "semantic" in a loaded way to encompass more than just definitions. A better word might be "conceptual." All of our concepts get a bit fuzzy around the edges. When does a heap of sand become a heap? We don't have an answer. Often, people disagree--as when two people argue about whether a blue-green shirt is really blue or really green.

    In fact, all our concepts go fuzzy at the edges, even those we think are precise, but we never notice because we seldom experience ambiguous cases for most of our concepts. For example, it seems like we've got a pretty clear notion of "mammal"--a hairy, milk-secreting, warm-blooded vertebrate. The concept neatly designates every living creature in the world as either a mammal or not a mammal. But the concept only seems precise because we've never met a proto-mammal. Somewhere along the evolutionary line lived a creature that was sort-of-but-not-really a mammal. Call it Sorites' Monster.

    Most of the time, the ambiguous cases don't matter very much. Worst comes to worst, we change textbooks: Sorry kids, guess Pluto isn't a planet after all.

    But in some cases, moral implications hang from the judgment. "Human" is obviously a difficult concept, but there are many others like "premeditated," "insane," "brain-dead," "performance enhancing," and so on. We can't just ignore these. In ethics, law, philosophy, theology, medicine, and science, we spend a lot of time trying to come up with satisfying rationales for placing ambiguous cases into convenient buckets. We formulate more precise measures like fetal viability, gamma wave activity, or the existence of a soul. But these are just the ways that we try to come to a consensus on difficult cases for which no clear consensus exists.

    First of all, meet Sorites' Monstercool

    Secondly, I think we're pretty much in alignment here. The tricky thing is that the moral implications hanging from this judgment can't easily be dismissed (as with the others you mentioned). That's exactly why I alluded to borrowing a concept from the legal profession (as you do with some of your other excellent additional examples). What makes this issue particularly tricky is that the "heap of sand" gets a new grain added to it on a continuous basis, so unless you believe that a single-celled fertilized egg is a "full human", you're left with two choices: either there's a (fuzzy) black/white point at which a non-full human becomes a full human, or there's this (fuzzy) continuum from non-full-humanness to full-humanness. Personally, I think the latter one makes more sense, even if it's no less fuzzy.

    But even if you turn human-ness into a sliding scale, it doesn't solve the moral dilemma. At some point between conception and birth, the fetus's right to life trumps the mother's freedom of choice.

    So even if abortion opponents employed your sliding-scale notion of humanity, they still could not have it both ways on the rape question. To defend exceptions for rape and incest, they would have to argue that a first-trimester fetus is only human enough to trump the mother's freedom of choice if it was not conceived by rape or in incest. But a fetus's rights cannot depend on how it was conceived.

    If one had perfect knowledge about the science, and if the science were knowable, perhaps you'd be right. However, it goes back to what burden of proof do we require in what situation. If, given the current scientific knowledge, I think a particular fetus at a particular stage is more likely "human" than not (and this is assuming we can come to some sort of semantic/philosophical agreement on what that means), then perhaps it makes sense to say that an abortion should not be allowed, unless there's something that's even more certain to result in death. This is mixing some logical arguments with some legal arguments (and the two don't always mix well), but if, for example, I can say that I'm 70% certain that the fetus is now in a "human" state, but that I'm 95% certain that the mother would die unless we abort the fetus, then…

    Oh, wait, I see you're not mentioning the life of the mother, but rape and incest. In that case, you're right, it gets a whole lot trickier. How do we weigh the burden of carrying the product of rape/incest against the innocent product itself, if we make the conclusion that the "product" is actually "human"? Well, and I'm really just arguing to argue here (i.e., don't read too much into this), we do have actuarial tables for things like that. Automobile companies (et al.) are expected to keep risks "as low as reasonably practicable" (ALARP), but "reasonably practicable" requires one to put some sort of value on human life. Why are speed limits not set to 15 mph across the globe when that would probably save lives? (No, I don't feel on especially solid ground here.)

    The fuzziness of a lot of concepts is not only a result of difficulties that crop up while deciding what or who is included in a classification but from the way models get used for different purposes than what they were built to do in their initial formation.

    For instance, the pro-life position that bans the use of contraceptives is not captured completely by the "human is human" either/or you present because it is centered on the potential of a future human, not on whether an actual human is present at a particular point in time. Having a model that stresses not interfering with the future puts backward pressure on what choice will mean in relation to any sexual conduct that could lead to procreation. The expression "back when you were a gleam in your father's eye" comes to mind.

    From the perspective of keeping complete fidelity to the model, the Catholic idea that bans contraceptives along with capital punishment is closer to the mark than any parsing of what is human and what is not. Planning the future per se is what at issue.

    I hope you don’t mind my asking.

    Coming from a religious perspective; Under the Mosaic Law; if two men were quarreling during which a fight broke out; the pregnant woman was injured and lost her unborn baby. It was considered murder.

    How would the secular government rule? “Go away woman, you lost nothing of value”

    According to Mosaic Law, witches, idolaters, parent-cursers, and goat-fuckers get the death penalty. But human-trafficking your daughter is cool. Go figure.

    So lessee, if the lost child was female, you could seek recompense for potential encounters/clients over lifetime. Yes, that could be a very expensive argument.

    And seems Lot's daughters didn't suffer from Akin's Condition when raping their father - we owe the lands of Ammon & Moab to them, and those giant Emims walking around pretending they're Rephaim, the posers,

    What a great source of wisdom and literal guidelines that book. Just the parenting instructions and examples are worth the price of admission.

    As for the goat, if he says anything about me - he's lying.


    Doesn't look anything like me, nothing t'all.

    I just sent an email to Maury.


    I suggest you be like Lance Armstrong and admit no contest.

    Easier to plead freak lab accident.

    "There I was, generously donating my virility to frozen cryogenic science and a one-way shot to the stars..."

    Your funny ....at times.

    Be safe, It's Friday night, and I'm heading out.

    Please don't kill me. I swear to god I thought it was a sheep.

    Be careful, there are wolves in sheep clothing.

    With big teeth.

    I wouldn't consider it murder, but it's also not nothing of value. By our current laws, even if an adult was accidently killed in this quarrel, it wouldn't be murder but involuntary manslaughter.

    Consider a different scenario: if two men were quarreling during which a fight broke out and a non-pregnant woman wanting to conceive was injured and lost her ability to conceive, would we say "go away woman, you lost nothing of value"? Surely not. Suggesting that the options are of murder or nothing is a true false dilemma.

    I do very, very much recognize that an unborn fetus has value, even if the fetus is only 2 weeks in utero (and despite my analogy above, I put that value above simply the theoretical potential to have a baby). I don't feel that it's my place to tell a woman what value she should place on that fetus.

    Oh my, more inconvenient grays! Don't need no fancy manmade sins like manslaughter, all ya gotta do is hang up a copy of Moses' God's Ten Commandments in back of the judge and you're set with the perfect society.  No thinking, no juries, no deliberation needed or required. (Forget that guy that came later and tried to change the rules to nuance like love thy neighbor as thyself and he who without sin cast the first stone, too confusing, requires too much thinking.)

    Most abortion opponents share a core principle: Life begins at conception.

    The thought popped into my head when the discussion on this thread brought up sheep. I thought of Dolly. She was most definitely a sheep and most definitely alive. What could one call her moment of conception? When did her life start? And I thought that if humans were cloned, would anti-abortion people consider them not human? Because they didn't have a regular old-fashioned conception? Lots of them don't have any qualms about cultivating human stem cells that don't come from a conception, does that mean they wouldn't have qualms about using body parts from a cloned human?

    There's more food for thought in a guest Op-Ed in today's New York Times to take people away from the same old same old arguments:

    Men, Who Needs Them?

    Greg Hampikian is a professor of biology and criminal justice at Boise State University and the director of the Idaho Innocence Project.


    [....]women are both necessary and sufficient for reproduction, and men are neither. From the production of the first cell (egg) to the development of the fetus and the birth and breast-feeding of the child, fathers can be absent. They can be at work, at home, in prison or at war, living or dead [....]

    Ultimately the question is, does “mankind” really need men? With human cloning technology just around the corner and enough frozen sperm in the world to already populate many generations, perhaps we should perform a cost-benefit analysis [....]

    Recently, the geneticist J. Craig Venter showed that the entire genetic material of an organism can be synthesized by a machine and then put into what he called an “artificial cell.” This was actually a bit of press-release hyperbole: Mr. Venter started with a fully functional cell, then swapped out its DNA. In doing so, he unwittingly demonstrated that the female component of sexual reproduction, the egg cell, cannot be manufactured, but the male can.

    When I explained this to a female colleague and asked her if she thought that there was yet anything irreplaceable about men, she answered, “They’re entertaining.”

    It says Eve was created from Adams rib bone.

    Without sperm, can the egg create life?

    Without sperm, can the egg create life?

    Yes, unless you believe the cloned Dolly (and those cloned animals that followed her) was not really alive and walking around like any other sheep for 6 years, or you believe a live clone is not a life equal to other lives.

    As my wikipedia link explains, Dolly was created by taking the nucleus out of a cell of an adult female's mammary and implanting it in an unfertilized egg cell of another female which had its nucleus removed. No sperm involved, the DNA came from a female. No male involved; the division process was started via electric shock.  Once a blastocyst, it was implanted in a third female to act as surrogate mother.

    She was born in 1996, not paying attention to any news then?

    Good points AA. Reminded me of an NPR show where a guest showed how 'abortion opponents core principle' would work in a real life situation. From Genghis:

    Most abortion opponents share a core principle: Life begins at conception.

    You, a pro-lifer, are scouting out an vitro fertilization clinic. A fire breaks out suddenly with lots of flame and smoke.

    There are 4 test tube embryos on the counter. There is one infant all alone in a baby seat. Do you rescue the 'life begins at conception' test tubes, or do you rescue the now screaming infant? You cannot do both.

    You grab the four test tubes of course, as you are saving 4 lives! You let the terrified baby fry, lose one life to save 4, they are all equal, are they not? If you instead rescue the baby, then you don't believe the above 'core principle'.

    The fact is in vitro fertilization involves grading of embryos after fertilization and 'conception', and throwing away the bad ones. Ryan is against in vitro fertilization, and apparently one of Romney grandkids was a product of the procedure.


    That is so ridiculous. Just because life begins at conception, doesn't mean the baby dies. 

    "A bird in the hand, is better than 4 in the Petri dish".

    If you believe life starts at conception, then you're also saying here that the older it is, the more priority its life gets ? If you believe life begins at conception, you're basically saying here that a 2 year old should be saved before a 1 year old. Extrapolating, that would also give a 25-year old mother a lot more value over a blastocyst, just sayin'.

    Once that egg is fertilized, it's life Resistance, no matter where it is, test tube or uterus, and according to Republicans, it is 100% human with all the human rights of Americans.

    Yet I suppose if it was you in that clinic, what with your predisposition to protecting your wallet, you would have one hand on it in your pocket, and one hand pushing open that door to get out.

    No room for test tubes or baby. Not your kin or your responsibility anyway, like those promiscuous women you talked about. Likely no fire department either in libertarian land, cause government is mostly for the military defense.

     Likely no fire department either in libertarian land, cause government is mostly for the military defense.

    Are you really that clueless?

    As for what is in my wallet.  

    You always come across as bitter.  Are you envious, are you coveting, are you jealous?  

    Because I have told you before, I was severely injured and what money I have, is for support and yet you begrudge me for what's in my wallet?

    Seek counseling NCD,

    Before you turn green with envy; it makes you look ugly.

    What *is* up with the wallet bit?

    Aren't rhetorical questions about priorities in survival sufficient for the subject at hand?

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