Thursday, February 2, 2012

The religion of sex without consequences

An interesting piece today from Get Religion (Hat tip: Rod Dreher):

Earlier this week, I noted the surprisingly restrained coverage of the Obama Administration’s mandate that religious institutions provide health insurance that includes subsidized contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if that coverage would violate their religious beliefs and consciences. Even when Catholic bishops came out en masse against the Health and Human Service’s regulation, the coverage was pretty subdued, if it was even found.

Turns out that the media restraint wasn’t due to lack of interest in abortion or related issues (you probably already knew that). See, on Tuesday, Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced a new policy about which groups it would fund. The prominent breast cancer charity is one of the best funded and most popular charities out there and it has raised and distributed nearly $2 billion in funds for breast cancer research, education, advocacy and health services. [...]

It’s just so interesting to me that when millions of Catholics were read letters from their bishops about the HHS mandate targeting Catholic groups, it took days for a few stories to trickle out. When Susan G. Komen announces that roughly $700,000 in grants will be targeted to groups other than Planned Parenthood next year, it couldn’t be bigger news. There are thousands of stories already written. It says something about what the media prioritizes as well as what it considers sacred. There’s an almost religious fervor at play here. Looking at which stories capture that frenzy and fervor are interesting, no?

And commenter "Matt" at Rod's blog writes:

All groups of people have their churches, and the church of secular liberals is the Planned Parenthood office. Don’t you know — Jesus didn’t heal anyone because he wasn’t “magical,” but Planned Parenthood heals lots of women and men by getting them contraception and by providing abortions.

It’s a fundamental tenet of liberalism today that all people have the right to sex without the consequence of pregnancy. That is a fundamental right. Not just a “negative right” (like the kind in the Bill of Rights) to be free from government interference when it comes to sex (“Congress shall make no law…” or “keep your laws off my body”) but a positive right — *provided* by society — to sex without pregnancy (or, in the case of gay sex, a positive right to demand from the government a solution to HIV — see ACT UP).

Nothing could be more appealing to adolescents than this pitch, and thus liberalism gets a steady influx of new adherents and shock troops every year.

I think "Matt" is on to something, here, especially when he writes: "It’s a fundamental tenet of liberalism today that all people have the right to sex without the consequence of pregnancy. That is a fundamental right." Nothing but such a viewpoint could possibly explain why we've gone from "The government doesn't have the right to outlaw contraception because using it is a private sexual decision made by a man and a woman in their own bedroom," to "The government must force the Catholic Church to pay for birth control pills and devices and surgical sterilizations and abortifacients in the name of freedom," except such an extreme and radical notion that people have some sort of fundamental right to recreational sex.

And to hold that radical notion one must accept as if it were a religious article the idea that there is no purpose to sex other than pleasure. That's all it is, according to the religion of Sex Without Consequences, and all the old moral hangups about a man and a woman needing to make a public commitment to each other and then engage in sex with only that one other person are just silly. As the Planned Parenthood/Girl Scouts sex pamphlet put it, "There is no right or wrong way to have sex. Just have fun, explore and be yourself!”

Now, if a respectable religious group put out a pamphlet for young girls teaching them about abstinence, chastity, modesty, and morality, such a pamphlet would be called "proselytizing." It's about time we admitted that when the religion of Sex Without Consequences teaches young girls (and young boys) to be sexually active and exploratory, and to reject any notion that there's any place for the words "right" or "wrong" when we're talking about sex, that is also a form of proselytizing. The religion of Sex Without Consequences is made up of people who believe earnestly and against biology that sex is for fun, period. That it can also make new people is seen as a regrettable side-effect which ought to be targeted with pills and prophylactics, and slogans about how sterile sex is safe sex (complete with smiley-face balloon/condom animations).

In the church of Sex Without Consequences, children would ideally be grown in laboratories or in the wombs of third-world women who are being paid for their services as human incubators. That way, no pesky limitations of reproduction would ever interfere with the holy and sacred fundamental human right people have to as many orgasms as possible. Until that glorious day of freedom comes, though, the church of Sex Without Consequences demands that its religious beliefs in the primacy of non-reproductive sex be taught in every school and facilitated by every birth control manufacturer and abortion clinic in the nation.

At the present time in America, it would seem that a majority of the population is a de facto member of the church of Sex Without Consequences. Those of us who are dissenters are clearly told that we have no rights: no right to visit doctors who don't abort, no right to buy insurance plans that don't cover Happy Fun Contraceptive Pills (tm), no right to offer to public school children our minority view that there is more to life than sexual pleasure, etc. Of course, the church of Sex Without Consequences gets away with having its views mandated by the federal government by pretending it's not a religion at all, even though it has disciples, adherents, temples of sacrifice, donors, and missionaries, just like any religion. Rather, the church of Sex Without Consequences pretends that it is just common sense to view the activity which evolution designed to bring together a human male and a human female in such a way that a new human being could be created as if the whole "reproductive" aspect was just an unfortunate cosmic mistake when everybody knows the only purpose of this activity is to a) have fun and b) avoid pregnancy and disease while doing "a."

It's not a scientific view of sexual intercourse. It's not a particularly logical view. It's not a humanizing view; it's definitely a reductive view. But its subscribers cling to it with religious fervor; there is probably nothing in their whole, entire lives more important to them than the sacred mystery of being able to have as much sex as possible without ending up parents.


Magister Christianus said...

Outstanding! Very well said.

Anonymous said...

This is a refreshing way to think of the issue, in the sense that the argument is very well-put, and does not diminish the aspect of the conjugal human activities that rather depend on/require human maturity. In considering one's own sanctity, and sense of purposefulness, sex with others without consequences cannot exist; and attempting to achieve that denies an innate sense of individual being of each involved. We do not exist to provide pleasure.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

Matt is being foolish. Does he really think so little of religion, that he equates whatever infatuation is currently mesmerizing the liberals with the faith he so clearly reveres?

My faith does not follow the same canon as his, but I certainly prize what I can glimpse of the divine far above the petty political squabbles of the day.

Red Cardigan said...

Yes, well, Siarlys, some of us think that the Divine Image is present in all human beings from conception to natural death, and that He isn't pleased with the ultimate iconoclasm that is abortion. You, of course, think that God approves smilingly of women killing their unborn infants--and that's only true if the God you truly worship is Moloch. Enough said.

Barbara C. said...

His point is not that this is an actual religion, but the concept is treated with a religious zealousness by liberals. Their answer to every social problem is to just throw contraception at it with this blind faith that the statistics, science, and the reality of human nature just do not uphold.

The combined user/method failure rates for contraception are much higher than most people realize because the dominant cultural message being preached from the liberal pulpit is not that "sex makes babies" but that "sex without contraception makes babies" and "abstinence until marriage is for losers, chumps, and religious zealots" because "no rational person would pass up the joys of sex for unfounded worries about disease or pregnancy".

Don't you know that "contraception prevents abortions" (even though more than half the people who get abortions were using contraception when they conceived)? And "contraception eradicates poverty" (because poor people get pregnant only because they don't have contraception to use, not because their contraception failed and then the father split to avoid the consequences of his good time)?

And yet many of these same liberals will mock religious people for holding beliefs that they consider "inconsistent with science or facts" when their own beliefs are often based on unsubstantiated rhetoric that they have been spoon fed and just accept without logical thought or research.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

An unworthy argument Erin... because, even if true, it has nothing to do with Matt's misuse of the word "religion." Everything that someone is passionate about does not qualify as a "religion." The liberals Matt described do not have sufficient faith to WORSHIP at the altar of Moloch.

For some reason, we were created with biological systems that randomly allow some fertilized zygotes to drift right out of the womb without ever implanting, dying horrible deaths in the sewers, while others bounce against the uterine lining and find a cozy home to begin growing. Why, oh why, doesn't their divine Creator shepherd each and every one of them to the proper landing zone?

A woman's natural biology will also SOMETIMES spontaneously reject a developing fetus that has something badly wrong with its genes... but not always. Maybe it is our duty, being made in the image of God, charged with taking dominion over the earth, to help perfect this process?

I don't ask you to embrace what I've just said, and I would be a fool if I did. But the questions might give you pause about how well any of us know EXACTLY what God intended.

We all agree that babies are cute and cuddly and deserve a loving home. Let's hold onto what we have in common, even if we continue to quibble about a period of nine months, before which there is nothing, and during which, something new is certainly growing.

Anonymous said...

This is a mess of random thoughts, but here goes...

Yes, you and Matt are right on. This is a religion just like any other. It is not just the absence of religion. In fact, that is an oxymoron. Everything has a religion.

Take public schools. Public schools are not free from religion, there is a religion being taught, it is secular humanism. But not one buck can go to a "religious" school. Uh huh.

Next random thought...this Komen thing is scary the heck out of me. This is a mob scene, with the one goal of bringing down Komen entirely. Now I really don't care about Komen per se, but I think we are seeing a glimpse of the future here. It's not that the left really cares about poor people, Komen's crimes is that they dared to touch the holy sacrament of the left, abortion. I'm convinced abortion is the thing that the left would never sell out, ever. Scary stuff.

Ann Marie

Scott W. said...

And this religion brooks no backsliding. See the Komen foundation knuckle under the pressure after deviating one millimeter from the approved text:

Donna said...

>For some reason, we were created >with biological systems that >randomly allow some fertilized >zygotes to drift right out of the >womb without ever implanting, >dying horrible deaths in the >sewers, while others bounce >against the uterine lining and >find a cozy home to begin >growing. Why, oh why, doesn't >their divine Creator shepherd >each and every one of them to the >proper landing zone?

The difference is that God, as creator, has ultimate control over every human life, whether it ends in the womb or 100 years later. When we do that to our fellow human beings, we are overreaching.

Lots of people die when they are 80. That does not make it right for, say, a daughter to kill her 80-something mother because she finds caring for Mom burdensome and would rather inherit her legacy.

Anonymous said...

There is a sense of disagreement of the misuse of terminology.

To think of advocating sex without consequences as a religious dogma is an interesting idea, as it rather turns the idea of the importance of the traditional family unit in bringing new life into the world as less important than that of the individual, but there is more to particular religions than merely serving as a consistent body of beliefs as basis for human activity on this blue marble.

Sex without consequences rather goes for the jugular, living in space colonies, and robots enjoying 'human/android' existence.

Secular humanism is not a religion, nor is it taught in the public schools.

Siarlys is completely correct that our Good Lord is the mightiest abortionist here on this earth, if we want to personify the issue in this way.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

Ann Marie, you do your own faith no service by exalting "secular humanism" to the status of a "religion." Further, you backhandedly use the word "religion" as an insult. I have for some time lampooned atheists who seem to devote an inordinate amount of time and energy to talking about something they don't believe exists. You are now offering the flip side of the same coin.

Everyone doesn't have a religion. Some have a big empty hole full of nothing. C.S. Lewis wrote in "The Screwtape Letters" that God is one "without whom nothing is strong," and Screwtape added "Nothing can be very strong indeed." Albert Einstein once demolished a professor's argument that God must have created evil, by pointing out that evil is merely the absence of what we call God.

"Secular humanism," whatever that is, offers nothing to worship, no rituals or adoration, and no sense of anything transcendent. If you think that smug pretentiousness, hubris, and narcissism are the essence of "religion," what does that say about your own faith?

Anonymous said...

Siarlys, I won't be engaging with you. I enjoy discussing, but the tone of your comment sounds a bit aggressive and rude. IMHO.

Ann Marie

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Recognizing that something I said has made you very sensitive, I still have to ask, how so? How is it rude? I haven't called you names, nor questioned your intelligence. I have suggested that your choice of words is more than unfortunate. I may be a bit keyed up, because I already made the same observation about Matt's similar use of words. A few posts back, someone said the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names. Religion strikes me as not the right name for the brand of liberalism you seek to criticize -- there may be better words that would make a more effective point.

Rebecca in ID said...

Seems like nature allows for many people to die horrible deaths by illness and natural catastrophe. We could also perfect that process, couldn't we. Kind of streamline it.

Barbara C. said...

"Siarlys is completely correct that our Good Lord is the mightiest abortionist here on this earth". Seriously??

God's just up there zapping babies in the womb. "Bam! You're dead!" Or is He just allowing the natural processes that He instituted to take their course?

It's not quite the same thing. Just like there is a difference between someone naturally passing away from illness or old age as opposed to someone coming and shooting them in the head with a gun. Either way God is not hacking unborn babies into little pieces, like an abortionist does.

"Maybe it is our duty, being made in the image of God, charged with taking dominion over the earth, to help perfect this process?"

Just because we are made in the image of God, with free will and some intelligence, that does NOT mean that we are equal to God. That is the root of all sin starting with Adam and Eve: believing that we can and should ever be as all-knowing and all-powerful as God (effectively making gods of ourselves).

Our dominion is over the plants and animals of the earth. It is an injunction to treat the resources we have been given with respect, not to take them for granted or abuse them. And our dominion does not include domination over our fellow human beings, especially those that are most vulnerable.

The good steward does his best to manage the estate while the master is away according to the master's dictates. He does not for a moment pretend that he is the master and over-reach his authority.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I think I would be risking some valuable friendships if I try to respond to each point above. We all know that, bottom line, the highly emotional charges and counter-charges revolve around one fundamental -- VERY fundamental -- disagreement: some start with the understanding that a new person exists from the moment of conception, and some don't. We're not going to win each other over any time soon, not by fair words nor foul.

I will try to briefly distinguish between helping along the process of fatal automobile accidents, and helping along the process of aborting the gestation process.

Auto accidents, falls off of cliffs, salmomella poisoning, small pox, polio, are not part of the "natural process" internal to human biology. They are random events from outside.

My point about spontaneous abortions was that they are NOT random external processes. They are part and parcel of the complex biological processes that, when all is well, generate the biochemistry of a human baby. When one part of the process breaks down, often another part will also, so as to terminate the entire process. It is almost as if God (or evolution -- not everyone who reads here is a theist) designed it that way.

God did not, as far as we know or can surmise, design auto accidents, nor do they specifically target people who are a danger to themselves and others -- quite the contrary, people who are a danger tend to perpetrate auto accidents on the innocent.

I agree that we are not equal to God. I'm not sure how well any of us understand what the master's dictates are, although we are expected to try. There was a time when vaccination against smallpox was opposed because if God visited smallpox upon us, it was for our own good. Pregnancy is not analogous to smallpox, but the question of not interfering with divine intentions has many slippery slopes.

Anonymous said...

Good points, Barb.

But I am serious when mentioning that a majority of fertilized eggs die before a woman learns she is pregnant.

Whether we are taught each product of conception has a soul and was living being until it died is not a matter for the fecundity monitors.

It's an individual moral issue of whether females of child-bearing age choose to live out their lives as potential child-bearers at any instant when engaging in sex without contraceptives.

The day a woman can only be truly sure her body is not involved in a fetal demise is when we women are all hooked up to daily HCG testing equipment.

I have no difficulty in diverging from dogma that promotes that all products of conception must be salvaged at all costs especially if their is questionable fitness of the womb involved.

Abortion, miscarriage, fetal death; a significant number of fertilized eggs die and abort spontaneously usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. There is precious little time to choose to nourish life to the fullest before the fetus is viable, but it is still the woman's right to choose. I am quite serious.

Death is death. Life is life. Choose to support life, person by person, individual by individual.

But, contraception is not abortion, and killing of or allowing viable fetuses to die is still killing or allowing viable human beings to die.

There is still debate on fetal viability, until it can survive on its own separate from the life of its mother.


Rebecca in ID said...

Siarlys I don't think anyone's argument rests on certainty that personhood is fully present at the moment of conception. What is true is that the burden of proof is on you to show that this is definitely not a human being. If you're thinking about tossing a grenade into a room, it is the moral equivalent of murder not to check and see if there is someone in the room, when there very well might be. When we're talking about life and death, we ought to err on the side of caution, and that ought to be obvious.

Zircon, where are you getting your info that *most* fertilized eggs die? I mean, apart from the widespread use of abortifacient hormones? I've just never heard that. I'd love some links to the science supporting that. It certainly is surprising to me, because in my experience every time I am fertile this has resulted in a viable pregnancy.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca, more good points, and the need to find a human physiology text.

Oocytes, zygotes, embryogenesis, blastocytes, implantation. Now, it's all coming back to me.

Internet PubMed citations date show up quickly from the '80s when I use keywords such as, 'how early pregnancy is determined', 'human fertility', human fertilization rates', 'human fetal losses in from early fertilization', 'early pregnancy markers for detecting fetal loss'.

Here's something from an abstract published in 'Mitochondrion' from Sept. 2011 (which probably means the research has been around for at least 5 years); "At present, the ability of mitochondria to balance ATP supply and demand is considered the most critical factor with respect to fertilization competence for the oocyte and developmental competence for the embryo." Quoting that does not mean I've read the article. That will have to wait for a future time when I have access to Ovid, or the reference article.

Look at the PubMed citations for yourself with regard to fetal demise and pre-implantation deaths of zygotes, but the numbers I see are in the range of 25 - 40%. Please, verify for yourself.

As to the statement about every fertility resulting in viable pregnancy, perhaps what is meant is that every time intercourse occurs during the time of ovulation i.e. 1-2 days before menstruation up to several days later before sloughing of the uterine lining, so that the semen that live long enough to fertilize the egg in its 24 hour long life-journey allows conception to take place.

The typical 'pill' functions to decrease implantation rate and dysregulate periodicity of the menstrual cycle through varying the amount of estrogens and progestins that tissues of reproduction are exposed. It is NOT an abortifacient like the slippery elm young women used in the 1600s, nor misoprostal which MIGHT be used as an abortifacient, a prostaglandin used to hasten the birth process along when laboring too long after membranes rupture and sometimes used to decrease post-birth bleeding time, as well as placental delivery (afterbirth), but when used before baby is ready for birth, stimulates the whole process of childbirth prematurely.

I used to laugh when I passed the billboard on the way Indianapolis. Its message posted by the March of Dimes was "Premature births kills" (Help giver every baby its nine months) because I knew support of the MOD was for adequate prenatal care--in the county where I work, it's not totally uncommon for a woman to be admitted for childbirth to the hospital in her mid 'teens and there and then have her first vaginal exam, i.e. not any prenatal care at all! Smoking, alcohol, on crack, on opiates, etc..

Disclaimer: I work in the medical field and learned all this information outside of home. I doubt my mother was aware of this despite seven successful pregnancies and her BS and MS in early childhood education. She used to say that 'hers (her job in life) was not to question why, but to do or die.

What do one does with the correct information that the 'pill' is not an abortifacient, but a contraceptive is one's own business, but knowing the facts, mean all that much more about living our Catholic faith.


Anonymous said...

Very well said Red. It's becoming obvious to me that the ONLY freedom that really counts to some (not all) liberals is freedom to have sex any time and any way you want without any consequences.

Now imagine if they treated the appetite for food the same way, and insisted that everyone must have the right to eat whatever they want, and as much as they want, without any consequences such as obesity or diabetes or heart disease.

Why not insist, for instance, that all insurance plans cover diet pills, amphetamines, fad diets, and bariatric or cosmetic surgery 100% at no cost to the insured? Why not abolish nearly all regulation of bariatric or cosmetic surgery and allow people to go to storefront clinics and pay cash for quickie weight-loss surgery or liposuction... after all, if a woman (or man) doesn't have the right to look thin what rights does she have?

Why not insist that all grocery stores, including kosher or halal (Muslim) markets, sell pork, shellfish, and all manner of meat or fish because hey, we can't impinge on anyone's right to eat that stuff!

For that matter, why not remove anorexia, bulimia, and all eating disorders from the DSM, and blacklist any counselors who make any effort to cure them, because after all, they aren't "disorders" but lifestyle choices? (There actually are "pro-ana" websites and forums which embrace exactly this point of view -- that it's their body and their choice and no one has the right to judge it.)

If anything I think one could make a stronger argument in favor of guaranteeing the right to unlimited food indulgence, than to the right to unlimited sexual indulgence, on the grounds that food indulgence, only affects DIRECTLY the person doing it. No innocent third parties will die as a result of liposuction, binging/purging, OD'ing on diet pills or similar measures.


Rebecca in ID said...

zircon, I still don't quite get it...does the 25 to 40 percent take into account the great many women who are on the pill, or not?

And yes, I would definitely call the pill an "abortifacient" if it prevents implantation. Regardless of the recent change of terminology meant to make the pill more accessible.

Yes I did mean intercourse during the fertile period precisely defined as you outline. For me, every time has resulted in a viable pregnancy, so the rate surprises me if we're talking about people who aren't messing up their hormones. Seems like it would be difficult to find a sufficient pool of such people in order to determine what really naturally happens biologically.

Anonymous said...

Boy, oh boy, are these questions interesting because they result in further questions. And, there is not end in attempting to try to understand it all.

Just putting in the question of 'does ovulation occur on birth control' results in all sorts of academic, medically trustworthy websites.

Apparently there are many types of contraception other than the 'pill' and apparently the major effect of the 'pill' is to prevent ovulation, with prevention of implantation as a secondary effect.

To answer the question of whether the 'pill' prevents implantation IF ovulation occurs; yes, if the ovary releases egg(s) while on the 'pill', implantation may be prevented due to effect of the hormonal content of the 'pill' as its effects, among many other complex reactions that correspond to hormonal readying the womb for biological support of an embryo (implanted zygote).

As to the question of sexual intercourse, the question is getting all snarled around in some confusing issues. A female once experiencing menarche and undergoing periodic menstrual cycles and not under the effects of hormonal and other factors, is biologically fertile during each cycle in which the healthy ovary releases the healthy egg with usual accompanying healthy changes to womb and other tissues important to support a healthy pregnancy.

All sorts of normal and natural physiological processes/events may occur to affect the zygotic chances for development to result in a healthy live birth such as the health status and diseases of the mother. High maternal blood levels of sugar affect growth of nourishing blood vessels and oxygenation energy. Infection with cytomegalovirus may 'cause' sterility among other viral illnesses. The age of the mother is factor--since all the 'eggs' are present in a female from her birth in some form, there is a lifetime of the 'egg' to exposure from radiation, varying amounts of alcohol, medications which can affect the health of the ovum. Other considerations include nutritional status, and presence of healthy birth-resulting hormonal factors. When my 17 year old sister with anorexia (severely malnourished) and actively exercising all the time, she did not experience a monthly cycle, and neither did I when breastfeeding my children.

Of course if sexual intercourse occurred during a time I was not expecting ovulation and resulted in a zygote, there would be very little time to make a choice to continue the embryonic development and risk a deliberately manipulated miscarriage, but it still would be MY human right, not the Church, not the State, not my married partner, nor the the choice of anyone else except my own. It's a fundamental right of humans to call their body their own.

People that make the choice, whether deliberately or not, when presented with the opportunity to grow a life had better do everything in their disposal to support that life.

When my husband and I wished to grow a child, I made it my business to eat, exercise, take adequate prenatal medical care advice, provide nourishment within my capability.

The 20-40% figure corresponds to implantation of the normal zygote.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Rebecca, why would I throw a grenade into a room unless I fully intended to kill anyone who was present? That is what grenades are for. If I don't intend to kill, I shouldn't be throwing one.

Further, why isn't the burden of proof on you to show that a zygote is a person? It certainly isn't physically recognizable as a baby. You wouldn't even know that a "moment of conception" exists without microscopes and a good deal of very technical biology.

Finally, if it is NOT a person, what reason would you have for describing its removal from the womb as murder? What argument would you have for establishing criminal penalties?

I respect the fact that IF we are talking about a person, THEN you win, hands down. There could be no further question. But you seem to be saying that is not the only reason...

Elaine... that halal/kosher argument has been run so many times, and debunked so many times, by me and many others, here and at Rod Dreher's site, that I'm not going to waste space repeating it all. Take a look around.

Bulemia is an illness... neither pregnancy nor sexual intercourse are, per se, illnesses. Analogies are not proof of anything. Please, try to offer some substance instead of a serious of what ifs and vague comparisons.

Anonymous said...

The previous post with regard to the natural biological difficulties to eventual childbearing outcome was written by Zircon; there was less than 15 seconds left on library computer before hitting the send button. Every second counts.

Rebecca in ID said...

um, so zircon, all that is very interesting, but in a previous post you seemed to be saying that most fertilizations don't end in viable it's 20 to 40 percent...and I'm trying to get it clear, are we talking about 20 to 40 percent of non-hormone-taking women?

Oh, and I disagree with you that my babies are my body. But according to you, at what point does the baby become not my body?

Siarlys, a couple of points. Yeah, you wouldn't throw the grenade for fun. My point is that you can't say, "oh, I can kill this thing, not sure of its personhood status, but since you can't prove it's a person, I can go ahead and kill it". Maybe it would help if I used a different sort of example-you're target practicing in the woods and see something with a human-looking form; you can't target practice on it just because someone can't prove to you right now that it's not just a dummy. You need to be cautious.

Please let's set aside the question of criminal penalties; I have never brought that up and it confuses the question being discussed. I am saying that people have known for a long time that abortion, even early abortion, is gravely wrong, apart from claiming that personhood begins with conception. If personhood does not begin at conception, then no, it is not murder before a person is present, but it is very gravely wrong. I do think that science points more and more to the recognition of the young human as very human, very early on, with a heartbeat detected at fourteen days. Yes, of course the burden of proof is on the person who wants to kill rather than the person who would protect that life.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

We are coming a little closer Rebecca. When people cry to overturn Roe v. Wade, or say that a person with full entitlement to legal protection exists from the moment of conception, it always seems to me that they MUST be intending to restore some sort of criminal penalties. If not, why bother to overturn Roe v. Wade? You can assert that abortion is the WRONG choice to make now, without changing the law.

As long as no force or coercion is applied, I am perfectly willing to speak up for the right of people with pro-life convictions to state forthrightly to any pregnant woman who will listen, that she SHOULD NOT destroy her baby. (I may not agree with your choice of words, but you are the one speaking, that's what you sincerely believe, and you have a right to communicate it, in your own words.)

Whenever I say that abortion is not a decision to be taken lightly, someone who is more interested in scoring brownie points than in arriving at a conclusion asks "Well, if its not murder, why should it be rare?" or something like that.

It is the interruption of a natural process. This process WILL result in a live birth, if not interrupted. It is invasive surgery. It is not light, painless, easy, certain, and it may be the cause of regret, depression, even remorse. It may, in my seldom humble opinion, sometimes be for the best.

I would even say, the more callous a woman is about choosing abortion, the better it is that she abort, because she will likely be a very destructive mother. The more a woman agonizes over "my baby," the more likely it is that she really should not abort, and the more likely that she will be a conscientious mother. On the other hand, a woman might abort, on one set of facts, and be a very good mother after a later pregnancy.

An orthodox Jewish rabbi told me once that in his understanding, abortion is not murder, but it is bloodshed, and therefore it is prohibited, even to gentiles. (If the mother's life is in danger, abortion is MANDATORY in Jewish teaching. The fetus is in that case called a "destroyer.")

I for one don't consider a heartbeat proof of humanity. Tadpoles have hearbeats. We are talking about a continuum: at one end, we have a single cell, with a unique genetic pattern. At the other end, we have a baby. In between? I consider that the burden of proof in between rests with those who are NOT carrying it in their own body, and want to intervene in what a woman IS carrying inside her own body.

Anonymous said...

From this line of questioning, Rebecca, it seems doubtful that there is a search for objective information in the line of questioning being pursued.

I just did a Medline search on "comparison of in vivo human fertilization to spontaneous abortion and early pregnancy loss" through Ovid search engine and found more than 10,000 references to this topic, with greater incidence of fertilization NOT reaching viable fetus.

A lot of the research is approached from the angle of specific conditions that affect in vitro fertilization, but the basic physiological science is out there. Much remains to be learned, but it's a miracle that babies ARE born which behooves us women to do all we can to nurture new life.

As to the issue at hand, there seems to be an immeasurable list of reasons why a single fertilized egg would not eventually develop into a child.

For example, one study portrayed the associated risk of women to experience spontaneous abortion and early pregnancy loss if drinking alcohol during her period of fertility as 2-3 x greater than women not drinking alcohol. If the male was drinking, the risk of spontaneous abortion was 2-5 x greater than not drinking.

Red Cardigan said...

Zircon, I'm assuming the anonymous above is you again, right? :)

Rebecca in ID said...

I'm sorry Zircon if I am not being a very good conversation partner. There are two issues I addressed, one was your claim that my babies are my body, and I said I disagree with that. The other is the interesting question of whether most fertilized human ova reach viability. I asked a very direct question which maybe you think you've answered, and maybe I'm just not used to your style, but I just haven't seen you spell it out, whether we're talking about women messing with their hormones or not. Maybe you're saying to me, "I don't know, go and do the research yourself"? If you're saying that, that is fine, I just couldn't figure out whether you were trying to answer that question or not. The question is of interest to me, because knowing that every one of my fertilized ova has resulted in a viable pregnancy, and knowing that the women I know who do not use birth control, tend to become pregnant if they have intercourse during a fertile time, unless there is something really wrong, like fibroids--it would surprise me if it were the case. It doesn't really have much moral bearing, however--just as it wouldn't make human lives less valuable if it so happened that half of the population were wiped out by pandemics every so often. That wouldn't make human beings less valuable to me.

Rebecca in ID said...

Siarlys, then you are saying that in a matter of life and death, if there is even a shadow of a doubt about the full humanity of the victim, the default is to the convenience of those who are stronger? It seems to me that you can only possibly be holding this if you are certain there is not a human person in there. You must have some secret certainty, otherwise the reasoning is monstrous. Can I ask you once again, at what point are you certain there *is* a human person there? I would like better to understand the certainty about this line of demarcation.

Anonymous said...

The topic we're discussing, sex without consequences as a way to 'run the ship' so to speak, or design a religion, a way to look at the big picture of humanity. And, it is very interesting to got to the extreme fringe of belied to think of humans disengaged from a higher purpose in propagating the species, and how that would play out such as how one might imagine Alexander the Greek and his idle rich contemporaries would have survived in a culture if freely sexually transmitted disease, if penicillin, azithromycin, and ceftriaxone (and don't forget the silver nitrate), antivirals, antifungals, etc. had been widely available.

Growing a responsible society requires mores and actions that affirm life and survival of the species.

On the tangent of discussing one's fecundity, the logic is that if one knows with certainty of one's own 'fertility' then obviously there is ongoing 'fertility awareness', and probably active participation in abstaining from sexual intercourse when one 'chooses' not to become pregnant.

Discussing one's fecundity in attempting to actively bear more children is not quite the same kettle of fish in discussing interrupting natural processes to prevent pregnancies.

Unwanted or undesired babies are not the only 'consequence'
of sexual intercourse in uncommited relationships.

Many of those of childbearing potential are unaware of how their own bodies function or have a
'working knowledge' of an approved method of the approved method of sexual abstinence for birth control in the the Catholic Church, which is why NFP often has to be taught as a method by an instructor with special training.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

Rebecca, I draw the line based on two criteria:

1) Could what is growing inside the womb be removed, and have a reasonable chance of living, breathing, circulating, eating, living, on its own, without resort to heart-lung equipment or other extraordinary measures?

2) Is there a functional central nervous system which creates a presumption of self-awareness as a distinct and willful organism?

I think it would be best to push the line of "viability," which was based on medical knowledge in 1973, back to about the 20th week.

If a woman hasn't made up her mind in twenty weeks to remove what is growing inside her, then unless her life or her long-term health are in danger from a specific, diagnosed condition, she's committed to carrying her pregnancy to term.

At the moment of conception, I have no qualms at all. One day, or one week, or one month, before delivery, there is obviously a baby inside her. In between, what I've just said is where I draw the line.