One Mormon’s opinions, on abortion in the United States

IMPORTANT NOTE: these are my views and my views alone. I do not claim to speak for anyone else but me, and I do not claim to speak from any sort of religious or temporal position of authority. I write this as a Latter-Day Saint (aka: Mormon) who has thought long and hard about these questions over many years, and continues to think about them. It is entirely possibly I may change my mind in the future, based either on evidence, or persuasion, or by the prompting of my own heart.

EDIT TO ADD: this is a Gallup poll highlighting the strong division on what is a strongly-emotional issue. Take a look at it before you read further. I think it says something about the current state of the debate, and about how truly polarized things are.

Now…

As often happens, things that get posted here on my blog first begin life as sentiments on other peoples’ blogs. Eventually they get so large and complex that others’ comment threads are no longer an appropriate forum. And so it was with today’s discussion at John Scalzi’s blog, regarding the de-funding of Planned Parenthood by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation.

Without simply repeating what I wrote there, I want to try to better encapsulate my own views.

For as long as I have been an adult, I have been very careful about how I approached the subject of abortion in America. When I look at the two “sides” of this thing, and see and hear the strident militarism of the opposed factions, I shake my head and sigh. I can’t say I’m on one side or the other. I think both the pro-choice and the pro-life people each make good points.

If I may, I’d like to attempt to boil down the opposed platforms, as I understand them…

Pro-choice: the fundamental assertion of the pro-choice ideology is that women and women only are authorized — on an individual basis — to decide what is best for their bodies, to include whether or not they should bring a conceived embryo to term. It is not the state’s job to deny them this, nor is it the job of moral crusaders to confiscate the right in the name of protecting the fetus — moral crusaders being more concerned with controlling women than with defending the lives of babies.

Pro-life: the fundamental assertion of the pro-life ideology is that a woman is in charge of her own body, yes, but that once conception takes place, it’s not just her body that’s at stake anymore. It’s her body, plus the body of the unborn baby growing slowly in her womb. That this baby is every bit as human as his/her mother, and deserves all the same rights and protections of the newborn, freshly delivered. The state has no right to abridge or ignore the baby’s rights, and moral crusaders have no right to abridge or ignore the baby’s rights either — moral crusaders being more concerned with consequence-free sexual freedoms than womens’ health.

Doubtless many might quibble with me on the finer points, but I do think these two paragraphs sum up the “doctrines” of the opposed camps.

Now, to my own moral and ethical considerations. I approach the subject as a member of a religion that is highly conservative, when it comes to abortion. Very much pro-life.

And yet, I wonder. What’s the core concern? Loss of unborn life, or loss of womens’ freedom to choose what happens to their bodies?

According to LDS doctrine, in the pre-existence there was a division amongst the Host of Heaven. On the one side you had Christ the Lord. Jesus favored a plan that had free agency as its keystone. Men and women would go to Earth and be free to choose good or ill, righteousness or evil, with all glory to God the Father regardless. Lucifer — Christ’s spirit brother, and opposite in the matter — promised a plan of rigorous and absolute conformity to the Lord’s law — all would obey without question — but the glory would be to Lucifer himself.

And thus Lucifer was cast out, and with him a third of the Host, and Christ was allowed to go forth with His plan — and so all of us as the embodied children of God now enjoy in our temporal lives the gift of agency. To choose. To say for ourselves, we will or will not do a thing. Liberty.

This would seem to indicate that preservation of agency — the freedom to choose — is paramount. It is absolutely essential to Christ’s plan. Wars both ancient and modern have been fought to preserve and strengthen agency, both at the national and the personal levels.

Still, there is the commandment: thou shalt not commit murder! It’s a commandment shared across the traditions of the bulk of the world’s population. For LDS people murder is the most evil of all the proscribed sins, save denial of the Christ after a man or a woman has witnessed of Him in his or her heart. And is it not murder to cancel the budding life of the fetus — the unborn child — before its had a chance to draw its first breath? Why do we pretend that the unborn aren’t human, while a child freshly delivered from its mother’s belly suddenly enjoys legal status?

Thus the conundrum. To revoke abortion and criminalize it is to revoke the agency of the woman.

To condone and legalize abortion, likewise, revokes the humanity and legal rights of the unborn.

Two seemingly equal moral imperatives, slamming headlong into each other.

No wonder abortion continues to be a moral, ethical, legal, and political tornado, all these years after Roe v. Wade. There is much validity to both sides and depending on your natural ideological predisposition, you may be inclined to slew one way, or the other. In some cases, you may slew hard, and go so far to one camp (or its opposite) that the ideas and positions of the people on the other side not only seem strange, but downright heinous, morally repugnant, or evil.

Pro-choice: the pro-lifers hate women!

Pro-life: the pro-choicers kill babies!

I hate neither women nor do I like to kill babies. What is my option?

Personally, I believe very much that the time for choice — real choice — comes prior to conception, not after. I believe America as a whole is still caught up in a backlash against Puritanism, which ultimately resulted in the so-called Sexual Revolution. And while it’s been liberating to embrace sex as healthy and vital — not evil and nasty — it’s disheartening to see people take it too far and assume that sex should be care-free, consequence-free, and without strings attached. It is not, nor do I believe it has it ever been, and I think the keyword that gets avoided in a lot of pro-choice discussions is responsibility. It is irresponsible — to say the least — to engage in sex without protection or a plan for the care of children in the event of pregnancy. And I wish more men and women both would carefully consider the ramifications of their sexual conduct, because whether pro-choice folk will admit it or not, abortion is very often used as retroactive birth control, thus the unborn pay the price for the choices of their parents.

But does this mean I think abortion should be outlawed?

No, I say to you. I do not think it should be. But why?

Again, I point back to the foundational doctrine of my faith: Christ came down on the side of agency, so that all men and women would bear the burden of their own choices; their own sins. If we decide to remove agency on the part of women to do what they choose with their own bodies, it seems a violation of that foundational doctrine. Thus I cannot support it.

But how to condemn abortion — thou shalt not murder — without revoking freedom?

Here is where I think women themselves bear the brunt of the question. I believe the biological link between a mother and her unborn baby is so special and so precious, that only God Himself is authoritatively equipped with the wisdom to judge. I may feel that abortion-as-birth-control is heinous and that the loss of life is cruel and heedless. But I think it is a matter that must be settled at the judgment seat. Women must be free to choose this option, despite how strongly opposed to it I may be, and women must be prepared to face their Maker on this matter.

I realize that this may sound hysterical or crazy to secular folk, or to those not acquainted with Latter-Day Saint doctrine. If that’s the case then I’m clearly losing my audience, and my apologies for getting churchy on you if you’re disinclined to understand any argument or precept that is based on religious teachings such as I subscribe to.

But there it is.

I am pro-choice — agency! — while also being pro-life — no murder!

And in precisely that order, too.

The pro-life side is want to question this stance as being spineless or somehow meritless, in a theological sense. I’m not inclined to agree. I think you can oppose abortion, just not with a court room. The battle has to be fought in the hearts of women across the land. If we educate our daughters — I am a father, this matter concerns me thus — about the responsibilities of their biology, this can include the moral and ethical argument that abortion-as-birth-control is not only irresponsible, it is morally repugnant and a terrible sin against God. Even if we take God out of it entirely, and look at it from a humanistic stance, we can argue that life once conceived should not be terminated arbitrarily under the guise of “medical procedure.” A woman convinced of this rationale will not elect to abort her unborn child, thus not only is the child’s life saved, but the woman’s agency is preserved.

Of course, plenty of women won’t ever get the message, and even if they do, they will ignore it. There are strong, fundamental sociological forces which encourage abortion, to include population control, environmental preservation, sexual libertarianism, et cetera. These forces seem to grow stronger every year while the “old fashioned” morality of Judeo-Christendom falls into disfavor. Thus it seems silly — to the mind of the secular pro-choice person — that anyone could approach abortion from anything other than a thoroughly secular and pragmatic standpoint that is entirely focused on the agency of women.

I think this is simply a cross that must be borne, no pun intended. If agency really is the crux of our affairs on Earth — and I believe it is, based on all that I have read and learned of my doctrine — then agency must be protected. Even if it means protecting abortion. Because the sin of abortion is the lesser sin — to my mind — than the sin of enforced morality.

Pro-life: but what about the poor babies?!?!

Speaking religiously, I think God provides for the aborted unborn. Either by “recycling” the soul into a new body with a new mother, or simply by shuffling the unborn off to their estate, in the same manner as babies who die in infancy. I have no scripture nor doctrine to base that on. It is merely my gut hunch. I believe in a just and righteous God who is wise in all things which we men are perpetually unwise. I think He knows what to do, and I think all of the aborted unborn are given a fair shake. Whatever that shake may be.

None of this means that being a middle-of-the-road man is easy.

Far from it. The one thing the two strident camps seem to despise most are moderates — because moderates are an uncomfortable reminder that maybe The Enemy has a valid point, and that The Enemy is human too, and deserving of consideration.

I would like to see fewer women abort — not out of coercion, but out of persuasion for the well-being of their unborn and their own selves.

I would also like to see the pro-life camp come to terms with the fact that in some cases, yes, abortion is not only a good idea, it is the only ethical and moral thing to do. Where is the morality in forcing a victim of rape, molestation, or incest to carry the child to term? Where also is the morality in forcing a mother with complications to risk her own life if the developing child poses too great a risk?

Here again, if we are honest as monotheists of the old (and new) traditions, I think we can admit that God is wise in all the ways men are unwise, and that He will provide a dispensation for such circumstances. If we try to meddle, we arrogate the judgment seat — becoming His “enforcers” on Earth. And isn’t that just the sort of thing Christ was against in the first place? Conformity to the law without agency?

About Brad R. Torgersen

Science Fiction & Fantasy Author - Hugo, Nebula, and Campbell award nominee
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45 Responses to One Mormon’s opinions, on abortion in the United States

  1. HOW? How do you have time to do all that commenting on Scalzi’s blog then come over here and write this. ARE YOU MADE OF TIME?????

  2. Daveon says:

    So, this begs the first question… What if we are non-theist? Your essay and the comments that drew an lot of ire on John Scalzi’s blog were based, it seemed, on the assumption of a deity. I don’t much believe in God nor Gods myself which makes me struggle with parts of our answer which, for the most part matches many of my own views. However, I can’t really accept arguments which require an external arbiter of human morality when I don’t think one exists.

    There are people, no more no less.

    Frankly, the American obsession with the topic befuddles me completely…

  3. I understand that for non-theists, any and all arguments couched in a theistic perspective are not acceptable. Perhaps even not understandable?

    If I may go back and touch on the humanistic aspect: assuming there is no god nor any theological underpinning to anything, there is still a question. And the question is, “When does a person become a person?” Add in abortion and the question gets complex: “Is a fetus a person, and do the rights of this person supercede the rights of the person who carries the fetus?”

    I am not sure I can provide any non-theological reasoning which might sufficiently answer these questions. Because so much seems arbitrary. I do think that as science and medicine draw down the weeks at which a fetus is viable outside the womb, the abortion debate will intensify because the question of personhood will have been magnified — not from a theological or religious standpoint — but from a scientific standpoint. Science being the ally of the pro-choice movement, but only to a certain point. Things might turn if science and medicine begin to make it possible for even very young fetuses to be brought to term ex-utero.

    My science fictional mind runs wild with the implications of such a development. I will doubtless develop a story on this premise, and probably sell it to Analog. (g)

    As for why America obssesses on issues like religion, I think it goes all the way back to the Mayflower. The country was begun by people for whom questions of religion and religious agency were paramount. The United States is still focused very much on questions of religion and religious agency. My own church was begun amidst questions of Belief, and Mormons feel these questions keenly whenever they come up on a national scale. It is central to the American identify, not only for Believers, but also for the atheistic and the agnostic who must put up with Believers, and vice versa. I am not sure we’ll ever see it calm down any. Especially not with secularism rising and Belief declining.

  4. He he he, no, not really. I’ve just been sacrificing sleep during my weekdays, both for fiction, and for some blog pugilism. I catch up on weekends, when my time goes towards family and other things. But when the whole house is asleep, and my wordcount is done for the day, there’s usually time for stuff like this. I find these exercises interesting and instructive. Even the people who lambast me usually provide insight and unless they’re being complete pricks about it, I usually come away with something new I hadn’t seen nor thought of before. I guess it’s why I still do it. Who wants to sit around in a room with people who always agree all the time? Which is not to say I am crossing my fingers behind my back. I am not! I am sincere in what I say. But I think there is value in going to the hostile room, and experiencing the alternate view, while strongly expressing my own. Always outnumbered, never outgunned? (g)

  5. htom says:

    I’ve thought about this since it was the National High School Debate Topic in the early 1960′s. My partner and I argued both sides, and frequently won. Someday maybe I’ll ask her what her personal opinion is; I don’t know. I wasn’t sure then what mine was. Life has led me to this one.

    The pregnant woman (and man, if medical practice eventually extends that far) gets to decide. She may consult with anyone she wants to who is willing and able to speak with her about her decision. No one has a right to impose such a discussion on her; there is to be no compulsion or coersion. Assuming that she has asked for my thoughts or support, It is my duty to honestly provide such, whether or not I agree with her eventual decision. If she has not asked, it is my duty to mind my own business — and if necessary and asked, to remind others to do the same.

    The State has no business in this decision. Women are not baby-factories for the State. I can see the State having concerns about the safety to the woman of the procedures of abortion, in an attempt to preserve the woman’s potential (not right) for future pregnancy.

    The unbelievably arrogant presumption that a conception automagicly becomes a living baby is a bitter blow to those who’ve suffered through stillbirths and miscarriages. Repetitions of such in many cases, and some churches (not yours, if I understand correctly) are more than a little harsh about the disposal of those remains. It’s called the “miracle of birth” for a reason. There’s a bright pink line there on autopsy if it’s done correctly; the lungs change when the infant is born alive and breathes. No guessing as to dates required.

    I’m happy for you that you managed to go ten years without an unintended conception. I don’t think you understand just how lucky you were. Expecting others to have such precision, self-control, skill, and luck is absurd.

    I grew up in the time when the placards carried at marches had images of wire clothes hangers dripping blood; now they show fetuses. Whatever blood moves your cause, I suppose. I helped classmates take sudden trips to New York, and emergency vacations in Europe, where abortion was safe and legal then. No, I wasn’t responsible for those pregnancies. I (and my partners then), as careful as we were, were responsible for more than a few missed periods, though. Different kind of luck.

  6. mythago says:

    These forces seem to grow stronger every year while the “old fashioned” morality of Judeo-Christendom falls into disfavor

    Oh, Brad.

    I really did give you the benefit of the doubt over on Scalzi’s thread. I assume that you meant this without thinking and no malice. Having twice explained how offensive it is to hear a Christian appropriate my faith and obliterate the differences – treating Judaism as the old cruft that exists only to show the hallowed lineage of the One True Faith – and having you roll your eyes and then pretend the conversation never happened, I get it. You’re not particularly interested in a good-faith and respectful discussion, merely in the appearance of one.

  7. Not a whole lot to disagree with in your statement, htom. If I’ve been too glib about my own experience — ten years, no accidental conception for us — perhaps I simply haven’t met enough people who’ve experienced real trouble with birth control methods? I do know couples who have had miscarriages and in each instance those couples (all LDS) treated the event more or less the way they might have treated the death of an infant, albeit without the formalized funeral. I don’t know how the remains were disposed of, and didn’t consider it my business to ask. As Scalzi once said on a different thread, how couples and families process their grief over these kinds of things is individual choice, and I am not going to judge them on it. As it seems you don’t either.

    I will make this point, however: for my money it’s one thing for a pregnancy to terminate of its own accord, and another thing for it to be terminated via medical procedure. The former is an accident of natural processes, the latter a deliberate intervention. I think it’s possible to believe in life-and-personhood-at-conception without getting tangled up in the weeds of a debate about miscarriages or stillbirths. For some families, these ‘children’ are every bit as real to them as the ones who made it all the way to 9 months and emerged whole and healthy.

  8. Mythago, I said on Scalzi’s thread that I wasn’t going to use the aphorism again on Scalzi’s thread, and I didn’t, did I? I kept my promise. I made no such promise not to use the aphorism on my own space.

    Malice?? (rubs bridge of nose, pushing glasses up forehead)

    I think you’re working so hard to find offense at something which is so minor to this whole discussion, I kinda have to ask if you’re not just getting mad at me for the sake of getting mad at me? As aphorisms go, it’s about as widely accepted and harmless as they get. Yes, you personally might find the aphorism problematic, but the world is not obliged to hew to your (narrow) view on the matter, now, is it?

    In fact, now that you’re here, I find your high-dudgeon fixation on my use of the aphorism to be somewhat manipulative, in that you’re basically saying, “I will remain offended by this one particular thing and until you appease me on this one particular thing I shall accuse you of being a Not Nice Man, so you’d better do what I want or I’m going to remain vexed with you.”

    There are times when I will bend to get along. This isn’t one of them. And I am sorry if this upsets you still further. But I am only willing to own your state of vexation to a point — beyond that, it’s your issue to get over, not mine.

  9. htom says:

    :facepalm:
    Brad, take your glasses completely off, remove the beam from your eye, and put your glasses back on. As an aphorism, it’s horrible. There is little — other than Jesus’s practice of the Jewish faith — that connects the two groups of religions. Most of what are considered “Christian” these days have several great chasms separating their current beliefs and practices from those of Jesus. Only as a vast generality that is mostly “Monotheism” is there any reality in it. (And there are some groups of Christians that I’m not sure -are- monotheists!)

  10. htom says:

    If they choose to believe that, fine and good; I can understand that. I can even understand their desire to impose that belief of theirs on others. I cannot accept their doing so. If she says it’s a clump of cells, it’s a clump of cells, up until it’s born and breathing. Before that, it’s a matter of opinion, and hers is supreme; it is not our place to replace her opinion with ours..

  11. htom, I’m still going to disagree. Largely because in my ‘faith tradition’ the line that connects Christians and Jews is not a thread, it’s a hawser. And because we are now clearly arguing about how we’re arguing, I’m going to politely redirect us back to the actual topic of the thread, as opposed to tenderizing the issue of “Judeo-Christian” any further. I get it. You and Mythago don’t like it. I get it. Let’s move on. Or if you simply cannot move on from this diversion, let’s cease the discussion?

  12. mythago says:

    Brad, I would like you to consider for a moment how you feel when somebody misrepresents or insults your faith. Think about your reaction when you read someone lumping the LDS church in with Warren Jeffs and his followers, or saying as if it were fact that Mormons really aren’t Christians.

    Now imagine that you tried to point out to this person that, actually, Mormons don’t believe or do any such thing, and in response, you got the usual string of shutdowns: I wasn’t trying to be rude! Man, are you ever touchy! How dare you tell me what I can or can’t say, Mister Sensitive! Nobody cares about insulting Mormons but you, so get over it!

    Would you assume that such a person had the least interest in understanding why you were bothered by their ignorant comments, or that they were willing to consider for a moment that they were capable of being wrong on any subject, or for that matter, that they might pause long enough to say “Hm, this guy is a Mormon and he’s telling me what I said is wrong about Mormons and kinda hurtful. Maybe I should consider whether he’s right, instead of telling him to STFU and grow a thicker skin”?

    Yeah. I wouldn’t either.

  13. mythago says:

    Oh, I’m happy to discuss the central issue from Scalzi’s blog, but I get the sense you won’t like that much better.

    First, I recommend you discard the Golden Mean argument you keep making. The argument that people ‘hate a fence-sitter’ is simply more of the same; everybody else is an extremist and on the wrong pole, and here I am, the saintly, wise martyr in the middle, reviled by all because I don’t share their passion and craziness. It’s neither persuasive nor, in fact, accurate.

    There are not (as you posit) two equally opposed and eternally conflicting ‘pro-choice’ and ‘pro-life’ camps. People have a range of views on abortion, its morality, its legality and where those should intersect. There are people who believe abortion should be entirely legal, but a woman should have to meet certain requirements to obtain one. There are people who believe abortion should be legal to a certain number of weeks’ gestation and illegal thereafter. Are these people pro-life? Pro-choice? If you ask that question of someone who says “All abortion is murder, even to save the mother’s life,” you will get a different response than if you ask someone who says “There should be no legal restrictions on abortion whatsoever”.

    While I agree with you that sex education is very, very important, I find it sad that you think the key to preventing abortion falls entirely and only on women. It’s very hard for a woman to use condoms if her husband refuses, for example. It also makes responsible sexual behavior and choices much more difficult if we teach men – even by implication – that it’s not their job to be adults, and if you get a girl knocked up, well, that’s her problem amirite?

  14. Did I mention I really, really don’t like how this particular wordpress theme threads discussions?

  15. When did I say the burden falls entirely on women? I never said that. I’ve said several times, at Scalzi’s blog and on this blog, that I fault men and women alike for not being more serious in their reproductive activities and their reproductive responsibilities, pre-conception. I never loaded it all on the woman. Can you quote for me the sentence or paragraph where I loaded it all on the woman??

  16. mythago says:

    Brad, I would agree with htom that you are being….well, I wouldn’t say “glib”, just illogical. You argue, in essence, that because you and your wife were able to avoid any unplanned pregnancies that you know of for ten years that a) this is entirely the result of your careful planning, b) anyone who also is careful with their contraception will not have unwanted pregnancies even over the course of a decade and c) therefore, anyone who experienced an unwanted pregnancy probably was unjustifiably careless. I know you don’t need me to walk you through the logical holes in this approach.

    BTW, I say “that you know of” because a sizeable number of nonviable pregnancies terminate in miscarriage very early, and the mother may never know more than that her period was a little late or she had unusually heavy discharge.

  17. One final thought and then I am evicting myself from my own blog for a few hours, in order to get some sleep. Mythago complains about the black/white polar comparison. While I agree with her that there is a “fuzzy” spectrum between the poles — I am on it, albeit just a tick over to the side of pro-choice — I do think it’s accurate to state that the far margins of the spectrum are a) very strong and b) absolutely hate The Other Side with a passion and c) consider anyone who slides to the middle or concedes points to The Enemy to be traitorous, if not morally and ethically insane.

    Look at the rabid nature of the national debate. Many pro-choice drum-beaters don’t just disagree with pro-lifers, they want to crush pro-lifers entirely out of the public sphere of conversation. Many pro-lifers likewise want to criminalize pro-choicers and make them into proxy hangmen for baby murder.

    These are the poles, and though they are far apart, they are loud, they frame and control much of the conversation, and it’s these poles I find myself at opposites with; not the guy next to me who is just a few ticks one way or the other, on the dial.

  18. mythago says:

    “The extremes on [issue] are really extreme and hate each other and are mirror-images ” is probably true to some degree on any issue you care to name, and isn’t a particularly useful observation about [issue].But on this issue, it’s actually not symmetrical. There is no organized movement of pro-choicers physically blocking the doors of Catholic churches. There are no religious groups calling down imprecatory prayer on pro-lifers. There have been no incidents of fanatic pro-choicers shooting doctors who refuse to perform abortions, or web sites begging their readers to off the head of National Right to Life. There have not been epidemics of acid or glue being sprayed into adoption agencies.

  19. mythago says:

    On that, at least, we agree.

    Brad, I was looking at your comment about how to end abortion: “educating our daughters” about “the responsibilities of their biology”. Indeed, you do elsewhere suggest that men as well as women need to be responsible – but that portion of your argument really seems to imply that if only women started taking abortion seriously, they’d be more vigilant about birth control and wouldn’t need it.

    By the way, I’m going to call BS on your escalating arguments about women “lightly” using abortion – which have gone from “many” women to “very often”. What does “very often” mean, please? Most abortions? Some abortions? Ten percent? Fifty? When called on this on Whatever, you accused those who disagree with you of claiming abortion therefore is “never done lightly”. This is a pretty obvious and not particularly complicated rhetorical ploy: if you don’t agree with me that many Xs are Y, then clearly you mean that no Xs are Y, which we can plainly see is wrong, therefore I am right and need not provide a shred of evidence of my assertion!

    Are there women who are careless, who have multiple abortions, or who rely on abortion as backup birth control? Indeed, they exist. Are they “many” of the women who have abortions, or is this “very often” the scenario for abortion? Well, [citation needed], I’m afraid.

    Anecdotally, one of my oldest friends worked for a time as a counselor in a women’s clinic that also performed abortions. The vast majority of their patients had used contraception and had it fail, and by “contraception” include “he told me he was sterile”, “my sister said if you do it standing up you can’t get pregnant”, “I borrowed my friend’s Pill” uttered by confused young girls who were baffled that it didn’t work. Did they get women who came in for multiple abortions and never lifted a finger to prevent a pregnancy? Yes, they did get a few of those. As my friend put it, those were the very last women you wanted in charge of an infant. Not because they were Abortion-Getting Jezebels, but because they were very damaged, dysfunctional women whose ability to get along in life was so impaired that they couldn’t manage a sober, thoughtful “yo, maybe if I tell him to wear a condom, I won’t have to have anybody put surgical tools in my uterus.”

  20. Mythago, I think there is a big difference between saying, “We need to educate our daughters about their reproductive responsibilities,” and saying, “It’s all the woman’s fault and the man has nothing to do with it.” Up-thread you provides some examples — “he told me he was sterile”, “my sister said if you do it standing up you can’t get pregnant”, “I borrowed my friend’s Pill” uttered by confused young girls who were baffled that it didn’t work. — these appear primarily to be educational failures, and while the men involved most certainly carry 50% of the burden and the responsibility on their end as well, I think our daughters need to be just that much more aware of the hazards and repercussions. Probably because it’s the daughters who often get ran out on by their boyfriends when the pregnancy piper comes calling. This too is part of the education — that as much as we’d like for other boys and men to be responsible and own their share, often they do not, so you can’t necessarily rely on them. So be extra-careful, please?

    And no, it’s not fair. And if I had sons — which I do not — you can be pretty sure that I’d be hammering them on their reproductive roles and how if they ever get a woman pregnant they’d better damn well take care of their end of he bargain and ‘man up.’ Of course, if I had boys I’d be singing the same song to them, as to my daughter: nothing is as sure as abstinence, and while I can’t control what you do with your body outside of my home, nor when you’re grown and gone, your responsibility — your utter and sacred responsibility — never stops. Never.

    As to the continued rancor over “nonchalant abortions” — Xopher appears positively livid about it — I think I’ve (maybe?) figured out where the extreme offense is coming from. When my wife worked in DV she noticed very quickly that the mantra in the shelters was, never blame the victim. Superficially this is a good idea, but what drove my wife nuts was the fact that “never blame the victim” was often taken to mean, “women have no responsibility whatsoever for their own contributory and often complicating behaviors which worsen or perpetuate their problems, and shame on anyone who says otherwise!” My wife fought a losing battle to change this mentality among her fellow ‘helpers’ and eventually got out of DV work altogether — being somewhat exhausted with the whole thing.

    I suspect that when I say, “Some women are nonchalant about their abortions and its the nonchalance that is part of the problem,” I’m tripping over the BLAMING THE VICTIM buzzer and therefore touching off a whole chain reaction of emotional arguments about how it’s not the woman’s fault, how cany any compassionate person claim that any woman getting an abortion could be anything less than deeply emotional about it, how dare I even suggest that many women might be getting abortions in a not-so-serious fashion, how dare I blame the victim, and so on and so forth.

    I honestly have no answer for it, other than to say that I think attitudes count for a lot. Are the nonchalant women the majority? I don’t know. Some people at Scalzi’s blog were outraged that I was suggesting they even exist at all. I do think the nonchalant percentage is larger than some pro-choicers would like to believe, and I think its this nonchalance that really sticks in the craw of pro-lifers because for some of them the life of the unborn is a super-charged, highly-emotional topic and when they perceive nonchalance or the, “It’s nothing more serious than a pap smear or breast exam,” attitude, they go into orbit.

  21. mythago says:

    Brad, at the risk of overwhelming your blog with tiny little TSA icons, I had an insight which I think may explain one reason you are getting a lot of flak on places like Whatever – not merely on this, but many issues. It’s not simply your political or religious perspective. It’s that you seem to apply a very specific template argument to many issues, by which I don’t mean “Brad will say something conservative” or “Brad will agree with the Republicans on this”; I mean that the form of your argument tends to fall into a specific pattern which goes like this:

    “On this issue, there are a lot of angry extremists who don’t listen to anything not their own belief system and get angry at anyone who doesn’t agree with them – like me, because I am a moderate, above-the-fray, thoughtful person who has the rare ability to look at both ‘sides’ and the equal and opposite flaws of each. I have concluded that in most if not all cases, $PROBLEM is the result of people not taking sufficient care and personal responsibility for their actions, as they would have in the less-degenerate, more moral days of our parents and grandparents. I know this because my wife and I were able to avoid $PROBLEM/remedy $PROBLEM by the simple application of personal responsibility.”

    Now, if people are getting pissed at you for that argument, I submit that it’s not because everybody hates a fence-sitter, everybody on Scalzi’s blog is a bomb-throwing liberal, or everybody secretly knows you’re right. It’s because the form of your argument is one that aggrandizes you personally, rather than merely displaying that your perspective is correct, and indulgences in nostalgia, finger-wagging and often in defensive attribution. If the message you are trying to convey is “Oh, you silly, bickering children, let me explain to you the way to straighten up and fly right,” then, no problem. If the message you are trying to convey is “This particular position on $ISSUE is correct,” it’s getting in the way.

    This is not, I should note, meant to be a ‘tone’ argument: the problem is not that you are being too conservative or too religious or saying things about $ISSUE that you should phrase hesitantly (“Perhaps maybe you might want to consider….”) Only that I think the form of your arguments routinely falls into a pattern that may actually be counterproductive to what you are actually trying to achieve.

  22. mCat says:

    Great commentary Brad. And while I agree with you on virtually every point, I approach the matter from a more personal viewpoint. When my former daughter-in-law got pregnant the first time with my son’s baby. She, and her mother, went to Planned Parenthood, aborted the child and then lied to my son about it. For several weeks, he and our family was led to believe that she simply miscarried. When the truth came out, we were all devastated. My son would have gladly raised the child, we would have gladly supported him and she could have walked away with no strings attached. My son – as the father of the child- had no say, no voice, no option, no choice in the matter. What would have been a mere 9 months out of her life of inconvenience would have been over but a beautiful child would have been raised in a loving home surrounded by family who would see to its every need. Eventually, as my son as remarried, the child would also be enjoying a two parent home.

    That aside, even if my son were not capable of nor had the support of family, that child could have been placed for adoption with a couple that is desperate to be parents but are sticken with infertility. I guess what I am getting at, is that I don’t believe the choice should be left up to the mother herself. Two people were required in creating that child, and two people should have a say in the outcome. I realize that it is the womans body, and unless there are life threatening complications, 9 months is a small sacrifice for the life of a human being.

    We are free to make our choices, but we are not free to choose their consequences. I am of the believe that unless the pregnancy is a dire threat to life of the mother, regardless of the circumstances, the child should be brought to full term and then allowed a future life on earth. Even in cases of rape or incest, there are loving couples all around the world willing to parent that child.

    Yes, I also believe that an unborn spirit child of God will somehow be allowed another opportunity or given the privilege to progess on.

    It’s clearly a moral issue for me, and based on my moral compass and deply imbedded belief, as well as my own personal experience, I can’t in good conscience support pro-choice. That may seem in direct conflict with our mutual association with the same theology, but I come back to, you are free to make your own choices, but you are not free to choose the consequences. For those that find they are pegnant through no choice of their own, I believe now need to assume the choice for the child within, and allow them the same right to an earthly life that they were given.

    And a final note, I have been a woman who suffered a miscarriage. I know the pain it is to stuggle with infertility and then lose a child early in the prenatal process. I feel I speak with both sides of the brain open and experienced.

    That being said, I am sure I will get hammered in future comments

  23. htom says:

    None of the women I know who’ve had abortions were nonchalant about them, but I have only a small sample, less than a dozen. “Time to put on my brave face”, as one said, as we turned the corner and I escorted her through the chanting mob. She broke down sobbing once the door closed between them and us. I’m sure the crowd thought she was nonchalant. Fortunately, I’ve not recently been asked to do that. I no longer trust myself to paste a smile, bite my tongue, and hold my punch for the old padded sofa in the waiting room. If I’m asked again, I don’t know how I’ll answer. I don’t know how those who do this for strangers can cope with it. Better men (and women) than I am.

  24. mythago says:

    Brad, there is a difference, but ‘we need to educate our daughters’ rather than ‘….our daughters and sons’ sounds as if it has the same pregnancy-is-woman’s-burden attitude, and that’s what I was picking up on.

    You’re not just tripping over a blame-the-victim buzzer. You’re also stomping very hard on a particular set of attitudes about abortion: that women who obtain abortions are thoughtless, irresponsible sluts who think no more of dropping into the clinic to have their twentieth free abortion than they do of having their nails done before going out and having casual sex. (Interesting, isn’t it, how moral opprobrium always uses the same terms: casual, lightly, nonchalant.)

    And no, it isn’t correct that people were angry at you for saying they exist. People were angry at you for saying they are a significant portion of women who get abortions, so significant that it doesn’t much bear talking about the rest of them. If you “don’t know” then why are you speculating?

  25. mythago says:

    I am genuinely sorry for your pain and your loss.

    I am certainly not going to hammer you, but as a mother, I would urge you to reconsider hurling terms like “inconvenient”. That language minimizes the very hard work and danger of pregnancy and childbearing, which I know you are familiar with. It’s one thing to urge women to carry a child to term. It’s quite another to minimize the process as a mere “inconvenience”, as if pregnancy and childbirth were on the level of a parking ticket or a run in your pantyhose.

  26. htom says:

    I, too, am sorry for your loss, and your son’s and daughter-in-law’s.

    Speaking of pregnancy as “inconvenient”, as it was a nine month bout of diarrhea, is dismissive, and I’m always surprised when I hear a woman refer to it as such. (For men, it’s not so surprising, but it’s just as dismissive.)

  27. mCat, I am soooooooooooo glad you contributed these comments. Because it’s your position — stated well, I might add — that doesn’t often get heard or expressed on the pro-choice side of the fence. I spend a lot of time talking to science fiction people and science fiction people tend to be quite liberal and/or progressive in their views, such that I often feel like I am some kind of lonely weirdo voicing the conservative opinion on things, and in those instances especially when I am genuinely sitting on the fence I risk alienating my liberal associates and my conservative associates in one fell swoop.

    In the specific case of your son’s GF aborting — and then she and her family lying to you and your family about it — I think that’s quite wrong, actually. And it’s these sorts of examples that (in part) continue to drive the pro-life side of the debate, and I do not think these kinds of examples can be brushed aside or ignored by the pro-choice side. I think that the father’s wishes and desires count too, much as the pro-choice side sees it purely as a woman’s issue, which I am not sure that it is. Not entirely.

    I guess where we differ is that I think the right course is to exhort women to be responsible. Not deny them the procedure via court edict.

    Because I suspect the pro-choice side is correct, in that outlawing abortion won’t stop it. We’ll simply go back to the old days of underground abortions and ‘wire hanger’ horror stories. I do not think this is any better than what we have now. I think we — who value the child based on our religious foundations — should try as hard as we can to persuade and call forth with pleas of forebearance, on behalf of those little lives in their mothers’ wombs. Because a woman who is bound and determined to end her pregnancy will find a way. Outlawing it won’t stop her. Only she can stop herself, or at least that’s the way I’ve always thought about it.

    Even so, you and I share overlap on this at about 90% and I agree with you whole-heartedly that women who abort should strongly consider not only the wishes and the desires of the father, and the father’s family, but also the rights and desires of the child itself — even if it’s not equipped to breathe air and speak on its own behalf. Adoption is far, far preferably (to my mind) than abortion. And as much as I understand the pro-choice argument that pregnancy carries its own risks, I hope that as religious people we can try over time to impress upon our society that there are some risks worth taking, for a higher cause — beyond expediency.

    Again, love your comments. Thank you so much. You are my friend and I miss you!

  28. I don’t think I ever said women who get abortions are sluts. And I don’t think I ever said that the “casual aborter” was the norm. I did say that there are very strong, loud voices in the pro-choice camp who push the idea that abortion is no more or less morally or ethically problematic than a pap smear. There are pro-choicers who imbibe this and propagate it as truth, and there are enough women who go along with it that this entire mindset disturbs to me on an ethical and a moral level. And I am not alone. See my friend mCat’s comments for an example of a strong woman stating the pro-life case.

    Which does not change my stance that abortion should remain legal. I reluctantly, hesitantly, sour-facedly think it should be.

    So I find it somewhat absurd that some of Scalzi’s commenters are calling me out on what essentially amounts to ‘tone’ issues. Ergo, I basically agree with them on the key point — keep it legal — but they’re angry with me because I’m not using words and language that make them happy? I’m being mean to women when I state that I think nonchalance about abortion is wrong and I wish more women and men alike would take better care of their reproductive responsibilities?

  29. madrocketscientist says:

    IMHO, a child has rights once that child can survive outside the mother. The current state of the art can allow for pre-term delivery of a child at about 28 weeks & give that child a chance at living a normal life. As we get better at medicine, that number will go down, until we are finally at the point where we have Uterine Replicators & we have the option of decanting our kids, instead of birthing them.

  30. Hmmmm, everything you just described sounds like ‘tone’ to me, however it cannot be denied that I am participating in a well-worn pattern at Scalzi’s blog. The same kinds of disagreements with the same people, over and over. And it often does seem to boil down to arguing-about-the-argument which defeats the power of persuasion entirely and loses the point.

    Okay, you have my attention on this thing specifically. If I am replicating a haughty or otherwise inaccessible template, then it’s “fail” for me and I am going to probably spend a lot more time parsing and re-parsing my own posts at Scalzi’s blog — before I ever click the button.

    Yes, I love to argue from anecdote. I sometimes think anecdote is all any of us have because so much else is taken on faith — faith that the statistics and the ‘facts’ being told to us by other people are both true and accurate. And I’ve become rather suspicious of this in the last ten years because too often what has been told to me from “true and accurate” sources has turned out to be slanted, biased, untrue, or otherwise cherry-picked to make a point or move forward with a specific agenda. So, I lapse back into my own experience and the experiences of those close to me, because I can touch and feel and observe them and have direct access to the “data” as it were.

    Which of course never works at Scalzi’s place because John cultivates an atmsophere of link-citing and prove-it-or-lose-it discourse that frowns on anecdote. Many of Scalzi’s regulars appear to be fantastic internet researchers who can spring up any number of links and authoratative sources to bolster their own arguments, and on this end I just kind of deflate and say, well, I could spend the next five hours digging through link after link after link of my own, to post on the thread — only to be refuted again, by more links — or I can just not bother and leave the discussion, or move on to something else.

    I’ve said it before and I meant it: I do not think I am a good fit for Scalzi’s blog. Wrong personality, wrong politics. I am very seriously considering enforcing a self perma-ban from the place, because I’ve already exhausted countless hours over the last three years arguing in John’s space — often with the same people about the same things. It’s really starting to feel like a hamster wheel, and as much as I like intellectual pugilism there are times when I want to just put my gloves down and walk away.

    But I thank you for taking the time to explain to me — from your exterior view — a recurrent failure mode on my part, where debating with Scalzi’s blog denizens is concerned. You’ve certainly observed me enough in the last few years, both at Scalzi’s blog and at Making Light, to have picked up on the pattern. I could ignore it and say you’re wrong, but I don’t think you’re wrong. I am obviously doing something counterproductive. And as stubborn as I am about my opinions, I am not so stubborn as to think my mode does not need alteration if it’s obvious somethings just not right.

  31. Daveon says:

    Well, a few responses and my apologies for any incoherence, as a Brit, several other Brits and I have been in the pub this afternoon…

    Firstly, my opinions on abortion align, actually, quite closely with yours. But as I said at Scalzi’s, that’s not what got you the ire you faced.

    Historically the idea of personhood and when that happened to a fetus was a pretty random thing based on the “quickening” – when the mother could feel the fetus move. The reality is, if personhood starts at conception and there is a god, then he/she/it has a pretty low opinion of people given the rate of spontaneous miscarriage prior to the end of the first trimester.

    A part of my incredulity on this is I find that Britain has a more logical approach. Abortion is legal to the point of viability of the fetus, although, frankly, as I understand it, it’s pretty damn difficult to get an abortion for medical reasons in the 20s of weeks. Before that you need to have 2 physicians agree. It’s tad proforma but I find it a logically consistent position to hold. IIRC the British parliament just pulled back the acceptable, except for medical emergency, period to 24 weeks because people are delivering viable fetuses at 26/28 weeks.

    I think Charlie Stross made an interesting point recently that if you want to get into “real” discussions of personhood, then you might draw the line at which the hipocampus starts processing logical stimulae as an individual (i.e. you start to figure out you’re an individual and you can lie etc…) which happens between 3 and 5… but even I think we shouldn’t go there ;)

    It’s a horrible decision I have never had to be a part of, I’ve been careful, in ways that my former Church object to, but I don’t feel remotely bad about. But I accept it might be the only option. I certainly don’t think that most people will have found it easy or trivial a decision to make.

    All that aside: I still find myself fascinated by the concept of being religious and thinking about religion in anything other than secular or humanist terms. It might be that I had a team of competent Jesuits who spent many of my formative years pointing out all the logical flaws in such a position which made me the unbeliever I am today….

  32. Daveon says:

    I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I really see to much of a difference myself. Both my sister and sister in law lost children they wanted to ‘natural’ terminations and they were heart broken – in one case, I suspect, it cost the marriage.

    That’s nothing like a decision taken by rational actors who can.

  33. Daveon says:

    So, why do people say Judeo-Islamic-Christian faiths? They’re all Abrahamic religions that run from the same monotheistic tradition and god?

    It seems strange to be to draw one line and not the other.

  34. Daveon says:

    The issue here is the lie, not the abortion.

    While the father should have been consulted. I am with the others, there really is nothing trivial, inconvenient nor simple about carrying a baby to term. It’s as big a myth as the idea that “you’ll love the baby the moment you hold it” – which belittles post-partem depression enormously.

  35. Vanth says:

    I’m disturbed that you consider abortion as killing, but then make the rationalization that it’s okay in the case of rape and incest. If it’s an innocent life, it’s an innocent life. Why is a woman’s judgment only valuable and valid at an extremely vulnerable point of her life? The only thing I can think of is that it has to do with a moral judgment to punish a woman for having any other type of sex outside of marriage. That’s why people are hearing you tacitly calling women sluts.

    And in the cases of rape and incest, how is this to be proven? What if the accused says the sex was consensual and he wants the woman to have his child? What if the incest is contested? Would you subject a woman to that? Court of law takes years because rape is a serious accusation with sentencing attached. Or you’re making a loop hole where a woman could just say “Oh, I was raped.”

    A woman with a good rapport with her doctor could get a ‘get out of pregnancy free’ card by having him sign off on it being detrimental to her health; physical or mental. Because we both know this goes on all the time in specialized places. Oh, but no one screeches, not a squeak from the moral majority or any religious organization on what goes on in In Vitro Fertilization. Instead the focus is on abortions that take place primarily amongst the working class and poor. In IVF, selective abortion is common to keep the mother from becoming an OctoMom delivering litters of children. (Think that woman was vilified for NOT aborting several of the fetuses.) And even more ‘Gattaca’, and far more repulsive to me, to keep the sex desired of the offspring. And if life starts at conception, that industry ‘murders’ many lives just through ‘neglect’. (If the eggs aren’t implanted, they will eventually become ‘unviable’.) If you think life begins at conception, there are eggs that are fertilized, but don’t implant, see IVF again, and those are ‘conceived’, but just waste product at the next menstruation.

    But IVF isn’t every considered morally repugnant, nor do I see churches setting up protests outside of IVF clinics to yell and harass those women. I guess it’s because it’s good middle class couples in a million dollar industry, as opposed to that unworthy mother who decides she’s got three kids already and can’t afford to take the time off work for the medical visits nor feed another one.

    For the record, I’m Pro-Choice. Every woman is different and every woman should have the right to decide what she personally can handle mentally and physically. I applaud Tim Tebow’s mother, she’s a better woman than I could ever be, but I do believe the CHOICE is what matters. Yes, sometimes peer pressure may make a woman keep or not keep a child.

    The human condition is not perfect.

  36. mCat says:

    Daveon,
    Speaking as a woman who had 4 pregnanies, 3 resulting in full term babies, 2 of which were difficutl, high-risk and led to several weeks of bedrest in the final months, my resume for pregnancies is quite solid. As I’ve been formulating my response, I questioned my use of the word “inconvenient” but after great thought, I feel no need to retract or apologize for what others interpret as “trivial”. At the time, the pregnancies were inconvenient. Loss of work, inability to care for my other children, general stress upon my body and family, HOWEVER, now at 45 years old and looking back, those times were blips on the radar of my life. In fact, in all honesty they were the easiest part of having a child. Indeed, I am going to stick by my verbiage.

    As to someone ( I forget which commenter) stated that “it was the lying” that was the problem, correct me I;m wrong but are you mCat? Nope. So I find it offensive that you state what the problem was.
    The problem was the abortion. Plain and simple. The fact that there is no law protecting the rights of the father in these cases, I find reprehensible. It takes two to create life An egg cannot be fertilized without a sperm, a sperm can not fertilize something that is not an egg. Once those two components join and fertilize a zygote (term use before fetus), human life has begun. That human life is entitled to the same rights inside the womb as outside. Since he/she cannot speak for itself, it is up to the parties who created that life to speak for it. A woman choosing an abortion has taken away the rights which for any person outside the womb, is illegal. The fact that the womb is the difference is of not validity.

    Again, addressing those women whose bodies resulted with a pregnancy due to rape or incest, their choices were taken from them the minute those vile acts were committed against them. They are eligible for any legal action available to them. The child that resulted from those acts is also afforded the ame rights. Without a physical voice inside the womb it is up to those outside to protect their rights and prvde for their reasonable care. I will point back to adoption as a viable answer for these situations.

    Finally, during my career in the medical field, I spent several years as a medical assistant in a multiple physician ob-gyn practice. I saw first hand countless pregnancies, with a variety of women and circumstances. With the exception of ONE patient, every pregnancy had full reason to continue until birth regardless whether the mother of the child opted to keep and raise said child. I saw young teenage girlsl, college aged students, single mothers with several children in addition, and couples who hadn’t planned on children then or in the future. A full term pregnancy was viable, and the result of a human life was ensured. Some of them ran the risk of a child born with disabilities, however, that is NOT their right to end that life without consulting the human being him or herself.

  37. mCat says:

    Please note that I also suffered post partum depression after my first child. Bad enough that I couldn’t work and spent several months in therapy. There is no minimalization on my part, and I apologize if my comments came across that way.

  38. mythago says:

    I have never, ever heard someone say “Judeo-Islamic-Christian”. “Abrahamic”, sure. And when talking generally about things those faiths actually do share – such as a monotheistic god – it’s a perfectly appropriate term to use.

  39. mythago says:

    Brad, I hate your blog theme.

    I don’t think I ever said women who get abortions are sluts. And I don’t think I ever said that the “casual aborter” was the norm.

    No no no. Your wife pointed out that you unintentionally tripped over the ‘victim blaming’ stumbling block; that doesn’t mean you were saying “Victims are to blame.” And when you use terms like ‘lightly’ or suggest that women are just having abortions thoughtlessly or with no care whatsoever, you are (however unintentionally) tripping over the anti-abortion meme that abortion is something done only by women who are sexually immoral and irresponsible and give no more thought to abortion than to changing their lipstick.

    So no, people were not, as you persist in believing, angry at you because you suggested such women even exist; it’s because you brought the Drive-By-Abortionista meme into the discussion as a serious and significant issue.

    BTW, another fun thing about ‘casual’ (in relationship to sex, abortion, whatever) is that it’s always relative: if you would do X with less consideration or restrictions than I would, you are insufficiently careful.

    Let me give you an analogy here. I am sure it is the case that a very tiny minority of LDS missionaries abuse their authority – stealing from homes into which they are invited, or having illicit sexual relationships with members of the community they’re supposed to be converting. Imagine that in a discussion of LDS missionaries over on Scalzi’s blog that somebody told anecdotes about a Mormon missionary who tried to grope his teenage daughter, or pointed to news reports of missionaries who peeped in windows as they were going around neighborhoods; and that the poster then argued that “many” LDS missionaries behave this way, that “too often” they rely on people’s goodwill or mutual Christianity or the skills they were taught by the church abusively. When you confront this poster, she pretends that you have argued such missionaries do not exist and such things never happen, and then proceeds with a rant about organized religion and sexual exploitation of women.

    You (and I hope others!) would rightly point out that this person was blowing up a small and unquantified sample to make a point, that she was dishonestly claiming that if you don’t agree that it’s ‘many’ or ‘too many’ then you are denying such things exist, and that her real point seems not to be genuine concern about a tiny and reprehensible minority, or even whether this minority represents a real problem, but in using that minority to beat the LDS church over the head.

  40. mythago says:

    Brad, I appreciate your willingness to think about this. May I also suggest that you consider why you used the phrase “intellectual pugilism”. Are you seeking to persuade others, or just to fight with liberals? If the former, then yes, please consider your framing. If the latter, hey, that’s fine, but then you can’t really complain if the other guy has a better right cross than you do.

    (Also, let’s face it, there are some people on Whatever who are not interested in reason or discussion or anything other than picking a fight. You just have to kind of install a mental bozo filter and wait for them to make such asses of themselves that they get the Mallet.)

    It’s not a ‘tone’ argument, unless by that you include any argument whatsoever that does not go to the factual underpinnings of an argument. “Tone argument”, as is generally used in these kinds of discussions, refers to a derailing tactic; the best way I’ve heard it put is ‘I step on your foot, and then refuse to get off because you didn’t ask me nicely enough.’ When Scalzi tells somebody not to use the term Rethugs or to lay off the personal attacks he’s not making a tone argument. If I were to tell you to soft-pedal your religious beliefs that would be a tone argument.

    Anecdotes: are facts. They are data points. In some situations anecdotes are very useful and informative, even more useful than studies or reams of numbers. But they are not always useful or informative, they are subjective, and there are an awful lot of situations where they are not only misleading but flat-out wrong. I find it a little baffling that you are saying you prefer anecdotes because people can slant or misrepresent the facts: well, sure, just as they do with anecdotes. That’s a reason to be skeptical and to consider both the source of the facts and their applicability, not to discard all evidence other than your personal observations – which, just as with all of us, are subjective and subject to self-selection and confirmation bias. (By the way, I don’t think most Whateverites put much more effort into research than Googling.)

    Also, bluntly, it’s not “anecdote” to argue from emotion or opinion. When you say that people our age have forgotten their parents’ and grandparents’ lessons on frugality, that is not even anecdote; that’s nostalgia, and nostalgia isn’t evidence of anything except your own emotional state. When people challenge you on this and you react with anger, you’re being unfair: asking others to accept a feeling as fact, and then reacting to a challenge as though they were improperly attacking your feelings. It’s as if I tell you that my kid is objectively the smartest kid ever, and then get pissed when you say “Wow, what’s her IQ?”

  41. mythago says:

    LET ME RESTATE HOW MUCH I HATE THIS BLOG TEMPLATE.

    mCat, the one thing you and your son could not do is to physically carry the child and give birth. And so however reprehensible or selfish or hurtful her actions, the law does not – and cannot – give the father the right to force her to continue with a pregnancy against her will. Consider how badly such a right could and would be abused by men less well-intentioned and loving than your son.

    If abortion should be illegal because it kills another human being, then that’s all we need to consider. We would never say “If a mother wants to throw her two-year-old out a window, that’s perfectly OK as long as she gets the father’s permission first.”

    Respectfully, I am going to continue to find the term ‘inconvenient’ minimizing and hurtful. As you know from your own medical background, pregnancy can have serious health consequences up to and including death. Is pregnancy the least difficult part of childrearing? For many, that is true. Is it far outweighed by the right of the unborn child to life? For many, that is is also a true thing. But “inconvenient” is not a careful weighing of the difficulty or importance of pregnancy. It is a sneer. Having to wait in a long line at the Post Office is inconvenient. Breaking a fingernail is inconvenient. Getting up early in the morning to deal with a conference call on the wrong coast is inconvenient. Carrying a child to term and giving birth is not “inconvenient.”

  42. htom says:

    I quite agree that this threading is a pain. I’ve used other board software where such threading exists, and it was convenient, but somehow this instance of it is very frustrating. Those that worked kept flags for each user and would jump to a new post or the post before a new post (and you could then scroll up and down.) Having only the scroll really … might have been a good idea. Doesn’t work well.

  43. Natalia says:

    Mcat, even if a embryo is a person a woman that was raped should still have the right to an abortion. To say the uterus is irrelevant is disingenous. The embryo is infringing on her body and using resources it has no right to take. The rape victim has no obligation to the embryo and has the right to protect herself from serious injury, including pregnancy.

    You can’t use a persons body without their consent. No one can. Not a rapist, not a person in need of a kidney, blood, bone marrow and certainly not a rapist. I’d say that in the case of rape, the abortion is self defense.

    Adoption won’t undue 9 months of humiliation, trauma and the lifelong knowledge that you’re now apart of your rapists biological legacy. To say that a pregnancy as a result if rape isn’t “that bad” because she can put it up for adoption is like saying rape isn’t that bad because she can take a shower afterwards. They’re both wrong, for the same reasons.

  44. Natalia says:

    *typo

    I meant to say and certainly not a embryo

  45. Michelle says:

    Just so you know the position in English Law, a termination is available up to 24 weeks without medical reasons. For medical reasons (non-viability of the baby or likely harm to the mother i.e. risk of death/serious harm) you can have a termination approved well beyond 24 weeks.

    I had a termination for medical reasons and I am proud to say I prevented my baby from a slow and painful death. Is that God’s doing? I hope not because I see no justification for a supposedly good God to punish an innocent baby in such a way. We were Catholic and our priest wouldn’t even bless her afterwards. Needless to say we don’t recognise with a religion that blames a baby for its parents actions. Surely that is no different than blaming a murder victim for their own death, if a termination is indeed a murder? If I was stabbed to death by someone in the street I assume I’d still be blessed and given the peaceful funeral I deserve. My baby was refused that, and why? Because of me? Because I couldn’t let my baby suffer in the name of God? Why do we even say that it is God’s will!? Everything else bad gets credited to the devil but if you’re having a child, severely disabled or not, it is God’s doing. If my baby dying slow and painfully was going to be God’s doing then I’d rather defy God and protect my child from that. Clearly God is no better than the Devil.

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