Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Deadly whims and hostile wombs

A federal judge has said that Arizona's ban on abortions after twenty weeks of gestation is perfectly fine:
— Arizona's ban on abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy is poised to take effect this week as scheduled after a federal judge ruled Monday that the new law is constitutional.
U.S. District Judge James Teilborg said the statute may prompt a few pregnant women who are considering abortion to make the decision earlier. But he said the law is constitutional because it doesn't prohibit any women from making the decision to end their pregnancies.
The judge also wrote that the state provided "substantial and well-documented" evidence that an unborn child has the capacity to feel pain during an abortion by at least 20 weeks.
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure into law in April, making Arizona one of 10 states to enact types of 20-week bans.
Arizona's ban, set to take effect Thursday, prohibits abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy except in medical emergencies. That is a change from the state's current ban at viability, which is the ability to survive outside the womb and which generally is considered to be about 24 weeks. A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks.
Of course, the pro-choice side will appeal the ruling, because apparently anything that keeps a mother from ordering her child killed up to the moment when the child's head emerges from the mother's birth canal is an infringement on women's freedom.

It's getting harder and harder for pro-choice people to make that argument, though. Which is why I absolutely love this new pro-life initiative (and which I've seen on several sites today so I can't offer a specific hat tip except to say: keep sharing this one, everybody!): One Tiny Life, a new pro-life effort by an artist who sculpted that beautiful resin model, above, of a typical unborn human fetus at 12 weeks of gestation. The artist is selling copies of the model at a very reasonable price to aid in pro-life ministries; be sure to visit her page to see the careful way she used scientific images and even a heartbreaking picture of a 12-week miscarried baby to create the lovely model linked to above.

My question is: why should it be legal to kill a tiny baby that age, 12 weeks, and then illegal to kill her eight weeks later?

Pro-choice people say it should be legal to kill the 20-week old fetus exactly like it is legal to kill the 12 week one because neither one can, as yet, survive on her own outside the womb. Some three or four weeks later, at 23 or 24 weeks, the fetus might survive, but even then some pro-choice people think her mom should get to kill her for any reason at all. Other pro-choice people say no, at viability mom should only get to kill the fetus if the fetus is handicapped (which leads to the question: should it then be legal to kill handicapped newborns, especially if the handicap wasn't discovered until birth? Or is it only legal to kill people when they're still living in the mother's womb, whether they are viable or not?).

But as a pro-life person, I can't imagine thinking it's fine to kill a fetus the age of that resin model at all. She's clearly human, even if she's a small pre-born human who still needs her mother in order to breathe. And her mother has already had three months--twelve weeks--to decide to kill her; just how long a time should the mother get to spend in the death sentence hearing phase of pregnancy, anyway?

I sincerely hope that the Arizona ban on abortions after 20 weeks will continue to stand, and that one day soon that ban will stretch down to 12 weeks, and then perhaps to 10...

Pro-life Americans may one day have to target our efforts on convincing women in earlier stages of pregnancy not to kill their little ones, but that would be okay if more and more unborn children are protected by the law from the deadly whims and hostile wombs of their mothers.


L. said...

I have no clue why that resin model is supposed to make a difference one way or another. If you go by "clearly human," then you're implying it's somehow worse than killing a zygote.

And to lots of people, it doesn't make a difference, just like seeing a heartbeat isn't a magical moment that makes a woman love her unwanted child and not wish it dead.

Jesus-in-the-city said...


What a powerful picture and post! Thank you!

I would love to add to this conversation as, both, a pro-life Christian and a woman whom, before I was a Christian, had two abortions.

On the positive note, I totally agree with your post. Even 20 weeks makes me sad (any thought of killing a baby, born or unborn at any time, makes me sad...) because due to heavy bleeding at 14 weeks of my pregnancy with my daughter (who is now 13 months old) I had to have an emergency sonogram and was, shocked, to see this little baby image kicking around in my belly! It looked, although in black and white x-ray form, much like the baby that is modeled in the photograph, but in full movement. I became pro life when I was saved a little over a year before that, but that experience really helped seal in my heart that there is a little life in there, no matter how young it is, extremely human looking, that wanted to live and needed me to live. It was a beautiful gift from God, and thank God she was just fine.

On the other side, I did have a few cringe worthy moments with your post. Particularly, the idea that a woman sits for three months and more planning to kill her baby, for my own personal experience, my first abortion at 21 years old, I was a daily pot smoker and drinker and also anorexic, so I hadn't noticed missing my period or thought there was anything to it, I just thought maybe it was from not eating, when I found out I was pregnant at 11 weeks and was told by PP that I would need to have an abortion before 13 weeks, or something like that, this was 10 years ago, I scrambled to get it done as soon as I could. I wasn't planning it out for 12 weeks and I also wasn't scheming to murder my baby. I was raised in a pro choice home with a mother whose first job ever was for planned parenthood and raised me that it was important to have my independence, I cringe now and I know it was wrong, God knows it was wrong and has for given me after my repentance. I just thought that the tone of your argument was a bit sanctimonious (for lack of a better word, it's 6:30am) , imagining that you know what is in the hearts of women in these situations. I'm saying this with all love, because my husband who has been a Chrsitian since childhood and never been in a situation like this, has the tendency to do the same thing.

Since most women don't believe or know that this IS In fact a life inside them, I don't think it's fair to think of them as murderers and baby death plotters. They are murdering, but the heart of the argument is that they don't believe it's a life in the first place. I was never shown an ultra sound or given any argument to the contrary of needing to have an abortion. If I had seen what I had seen recently with my daughter in the womb, I feel that I wouldn't have aborted my baby. I don't know for sure, but that's what I would like to think, and I think that's why renderings like this and maybe even a law saying that a woman has to have an ultra sound before they receive an abortion would be really helpful.

Anyway, these are just my opinions. I just try to see these things with a little more compassion because I think with that love we are more able to get our point across to people who are about to make a terrible choice.


Magister Christianus said...

Excellent post, Red. Abortion is about murder by locality. If you live in Detroit, you are safe, but if you live in Indianapolis, we can kill you with impunity. No one would accept such an absurd proposition as this, yet we have legalized murder by saying if you live outside the womb you are safe, but if you live inside the womb, we can kill you with impunity.

Red Cardigan said...

You're right, Aja, and I apologize for that tone. I tend to think of the pro-choice rhetoric about women needing a full nine months to decide if they really want to give birth to a live child, and it makes me angry. But I know that one of the tragedies of abortion is that young women sometimes don't realize they are pregnant and then panic when they do.

God bless you for sharing your experience here! His mercy is so great, and His love unfailing. I need the reminder to walk gently with the women who have suffered the tragedy of abortion, so thank you for giving it to me here. :)

Jesus-in-the-city said...

No problem, Red!

Thank you for accepting it with grace :) I was worried you might be offended.

Sometimes I think all of us Christians can make the mistake of seeing men walking as trees, like the blind man Christ healed, instead of really seeing men through the eyes and heart of God.

It's easy to take the new life, the True sight and value of life that God has given us for granted or to critically judge those who don't have it when, really, but for the grace of God, we would be blind as well.

I know that during the times of both my abortions I was very fearful, and felt very alone and hopeless. These are feelings that the love of Jesus is waiting to right and heal. It is the Truth in love and compassion of Jesus working through the Christian that will best point the non-believer in the right direction, not the yelling accuser with a dead baby on a sign marching outside planned parenthood (not that I'm at all saying that's you, just trying to make a point, I guess).

As I said before, my husband and I often get into this argument so I know it can be a difficult view to understand if you haven't been there yourself, but thank you for trying.

And thanks again for the post!

Turmarion said...

I need the reminder to walk gently with the women who have suffered the tragedy of abortion.

In charity, Red, I think you need the reminder to walk gently with with gays and with other people who don't share your views. One should speak the truth as one sees it; but the terms you've been using over at Rod's blog, and that you've used in the past here are awfully nasty, as I am not the only one to have noted. Whatever one's views of homosexuality, many gay people have had a difficult time, and tossing around words such as "sodomite" isn't going to bring anyone home.

Red Cardigan said...

Have I used that word at Rod's during this present discussion, Turmarion? I don't think I have.

vera said...

This is a very lovely blog. Thank you. To pitch in with this discussion, I agree with the 20 week limit that Arizona enacted. And I agree with the folks here that killing the unborn is always a tragedy.

However, I cannot support the stealth campaign suggested here to lower the legal abortion "week limit" down and out (12 weeks, 10 weeks etc). I absolutely have no desire to return to the day of the back alley abortionists (or here out west, the border Mexican abortionists), a system also exemplified by Ceaucescu's Rumania. And it is this issue your article ignores...

I am both pro-choice and pro-life. In the first half of pregnancy, it is between the woman and her conscience and her God. In the second half of pregnancy, it behooves a civilized society to stand up for the unborn, and the women who would be harmed by late abortions. But it has nothing to do with survival outside of the womb.

It has to do with creating a society where the state does not overstep its bounds and take the woman's decision away as though she were not a moral being. And it's to do with the fact that a society where abortions are persecuted become ugly. I have a friend who resorted to a Mexican abortionist back in the day. When she came back, she found out he stuffed her uterus full of gauze and she was still pregnant. Miraculously, both she and the baby lived, unharmed... in Rumania, she would have probably died (along with the baby) because women who did this were treated as criminals and refused medical care.

Rebecca in ID said...

vera, more women die or are injured by legal abortion than ever did with back-alley abortions. And however much we'd like to believe that abortion rates are the same or lower now because they are legal, the rates are much, much higher. There are many, many more children dying after Roe v. Wade. You say things get ugly in places where abortion is prosecuted? And you think things *aren't* looking ugly here, with tremendous amounts of rape/incest being covered up, with black women being targeted for abortions, with so many young girls being shuttled off to PP by their school counselors...if that isn't ugly, I'm not sure what is.

vera said...

Rebecca, thank you for responding. How would anyone know if the rates of damage and death are higher? Cases like my friend's never were reported, or not reported honestly.

Sigh. Yes, there is ugly on the other side too. But you know what's really ugly? The two embattled sides being utterly intransigent and never ending this war, so that we could as a society move on. I have laid this war to rest, and I invite others to join me. The dream is abortion-free world, of course. Let us join forces and make it happen -- but not via some dictatorial, state-enforced methods that end up raping a person's free will along with her access to proper medical care and contraception.

Lay down your weapons! A war is never a solution!

Rebecca in ID said...

Vera, I don't think war is a good solution, either. I think that educating and helping people one at a time is a better solution. But. The state has a duty to protect the innocent, period. There are certain things I won't compromise on, and that is one. I don't call it a rape of my free will that I don't legally have the option of hitting one of my kids over the head, and it is not a rape of anyone's choice to protect children from conception. To say that the state's protecting children in the womb is a violation of women is a false dichotomy; what hurts children hurts women and men as well. If the state decided to start allowing people to kill their children before the age of two, and I protested that, would you say I was being overly belligerent and should allow people the dignity of that choice, and just be content to protect children over two years of age? Please understand that what this boils down to is whether there is a human being there which deserves to be protected from being killed. There either is, or isn't.

Rebecca in ID said...

on the topic of rates of death and damage--likewise, the injuries related to abortions are underreported. What we *do* know is that some who gave official testimony at Roe v. Wade have since admitted to lying and making up numbers. Specifically, they made up a number in the thousands, of women who have died because of illegal abortions. They knew it was nowhere near the truth. But my main point is that now that abortion is quite legal, many, many many more women are getting abortions than before it was legal. Proportionate to that huge increase in numbers, is an increase in numbers of death or other injury resulting in permanent damage such as sterility, miscarriage, and cancer. Abortion has not made the world a safer place for women, and it has certainly not made it a safer place for children.

Rebecca in ID said...

L., you really have no clue why that resin model is supposed to make a difference? You really don't get that many women go in there scared sick, not thinking about the child except as perhaps a blob of tissue, and for many of those women, just seeing what the child looks like, how big it is, might make all the difference? Here is one example of a woman for whom it probably would have made the difference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJyJu3exz_U&feature=related

vera said...

Rebecca: hello again. I am not trying to convince you that my way of looking at things is better. I am speaking of ending this endless war so that we women can come together in that old fashioned sisterhood, and band against such things as rape/incest that you mentioned. Rape and incest were swept under the rug before abortion became legal, and are still swept under the rug. The more we are divided, the less effectively we can deal with such evils.

I will not go back to a society where women are persecuted for contraception, or for early abortion. Never. Regardless of how the numbers stack up, I never want even one woman to be the victim of a back-alley abortionist or die from self-induced abortion injuries. Sometimes, we differ. The question is, are we willing to come together despite our differences, and work together to make a better world? Are you?

I am willing. I grew up in a culture when the “responsible” girl who got into trouble got an abortion. I have come a long way from there. I agree that the embryo and fetus are alive and human, and that they are deserving of protection. I think that the way we protect them is a continuum... on one end, a pinhead-sized embryo is not deserving of being called a ‘child’ or a 'person’ nor be given the legal protection of a child/person. A 5-month fetus is coming closer to being a child or person, imo. And I will stand with all of you who want to protect it so. It would be nice if people on the far end of the pro-life spectrum were willing to come along and make similar concessions, not morally, but socially -- we inhabit the same society and the point is not to be right, but to successfully coexist so that we have the societal energy to protect life in many of its permutations. For example, another way to protect the future generations is not to saddle them with trillions of debts by financiers-gone-bad, or to leave them a badly damaged world where making a life as an adult is a nightmare of scrabbling. But as long as we women bicker, we won’t have the umph to challenge a culture gone insane.

Your analogy with killing kids under the age of two is a false analogy. The point here is: let us end this endless war by approaching each other as social beings willing to make concessions and rapproachments. People like me will never agree that a day old embryo should be legally (coercively) protected, no matter the rhetoric, and thankfully, the majority is on my side. Other than that, I will support you in any efforts to protect that embryo through voluntary efforts (and I agree with you that the figure of the 12-week old fetus is one way to do this). Is it more important to you to be right, or is it more important to coexist in a civil commonwealth? You tell me. Because if the former, then I am wasting my breath here. What are you willing to offer to the other side?

Rebecca in ID said...

just wrote a lengthy response, vera, and lost it...my apologies and I will try again tomorrow.

L. said...

Rebecca, since I'm pro-abortion myself, I honestly had no clue why a resin model would make a difference to anyone.

However, comments from Jesus-in-the-city above enlightened me and I realized that yes, indeed, the model would make a difference to some people some of the time, which I'm sure is the hope and motivation of the model's maker.

vera said...

I am bummed. Blogger has eaten more of my comments than I can count. I always try to save it before trying to post but often forget anyway. They built an evil gremlin into it...

Rebecca in ID said...

Okay, I'll try again, this time I'm going to try to be more brief. In short: I'm not sure I totally understand your position and probably need to ask a few clarifying questions. First, do you think it is morally wrong to kill a baby at every stage of conception, or is there a line you draw somewhere, before which you consider the fetus not a person? Second, your language of "coercion" struck me--I am wondering, if we lived in a place where regardless of law, no doctor would perform an abortion and no company would produce abortifacient drugs, what would you consider the position of women to be? Would you consider them coerced, or free? 3) I didn't understand your comment about a 5-month fetus...that fetus pictured in Red's post is 12 weeks; does that not appear human to you? In what world can someone not think that is a real, human baby? Or did I misunderstand you? Thanks in advance for answering.

Now I just want to clarify my position in light of what you have said so far: I do want to work with others so that we can all coexist peacefully. If someone disagrees with me on contraception or whatever, that is not going to stop me from working with them to provide supplies for pregnant women in crisis, etc., or trying to pass good economic laws. I hope I am clear on that. On the other hand, I will not concede the murder of innocents and the destruction of women even a little bit, in order for there to be a surface "peace". Because such peace is not peace at all--as long as even a small number of babies are being torn limb from limb in their mother's wombs, with state approval, that is not peace but violence. Just as you say you do not want there to be even one back alley botched abortion, I do not want there to be even one legal successful abortion (meaning one
baby torn apart limb from limb), one dead woman in a PP clinic (http://www.lifenews.com/2012/08/07/planned-parenthood-ignored-instruction-to-call-911-in-abortion-death/), one woman pressured into making such a self-destructive decision.

Rebecca in ID said...

Okay, so my other point would be that I understand that law, in practice, cannot necessarily perfectly correspond to the moral law, hence you cannot outlaw everything that is immoral, for the reason that many laws would be unenforceable without encroaching upon basic privacy and freedoms. I am with you there. Because of this I do not envision as good a society which goes after women for contraception and abortion--just as I think it is fruitless to go after women for prostitution. Women are so often the victims and in very difficult and confusing and pressuring circumstances. It is the pimps and the abortionists who should be prosecuted. Making abortion legal may *seem* to be the compassionate thing, but it is not, and this is why--once society formally approves of something, it then seems as though that thing should be entertained as a viable alternative. This is crazy-making for girls and women in crisis situations--if abortion is fine to do, then maybe they should do it, because of the burden they might be creating if they don't, etc. This is true as well of offering it as a viable alternative for old people to kill themselves--it sends the message that if your body has given out on you and you are now burdensome for someone else, it may be the best thing to do, to take yourself out. A good society would never insult its respected elderly with such an "option", which is really a pressure, but would insist that such people deserve the highest level of care and respect. Likewise we as a society should insist on taking the greatest care of pregnant women and specifically women in crisis. It is *crazymaking* for society to suggest that the best thing *may* be to put a child out of society's misery. Such a society becomes all around cruel, and all the other layers you mention, such as economic ones, will be affected by the hardness of heart which results from society killing its most vulnerable and doing this violence to women, who should be valued and protected.

Having said all this, I would ask for clarification from you, about what it is that is essential for me to concede. Is it essential for you that I concede that an embryo/fetus before a certain time is not a person or should not be treated as such? If so, how do you determine that time, that moment when personhood kicks in? If not, what is it you think it is essential for me to concede or compromise on?

vera said...

I’ll gladly explain, as long as we remain civil. It’s a pleasure speaking with you.
Yes, I personally think it is morally wrong to kill, at any stage. No, I don’t consider an embryo a person. (Do you? Why?) In fact, I don’t even consider a born baby a person... I think personhood kicks in somewhere around two years of age. I support legal protection for the half-term fetus regardless of personhood.

A place where there are no doctors or drugs that do abortion is called an old fashioned tribe. They used plants or, rather gruesomely, a plank of wood to push the fetus out in later pregnancy. Or they resorted to infanticide. Whether they were coerced or free depends on whether, for example, the male clan head demanded that the baby be gotten rid of or else, or if the woman chooses according to her conscience. I am not sure what this has to do with anything, so if I am babbling, please forgive me.

The line I draw is midline in pregnancy regarding the law, and regarding my own principled cooperation with social strictures. Why? Well, because of quickening, mostly; I admit it’s a bit imprecise and all that, but that is where I draw it. It’s gratifying to see some states moving in that direction as well. It has nothing to do with personhood. And in terms of my responsibility toward the human commonwealth, it seems that backing down on second half of pregnancy elective abortions (which I never would have supported if I had known the details, but I did support them once) and expecting the other side making a similar concession seems to me a start of a fruitful dialogue.

Yes, of course the 12 week old fetus is human, and looks human. That is why I think it’s a potent message to young women to not make such a decision lightly.

You ask what I think you should concede. That is of course for you to decide. Have you so far conceded anything? But since you ask, I would that you let the women decide in the first half of pregnancy, not you for them. I know that it goes against your values, but it is their life, and not yours. And in a democracy, you are not entitled to get all morally puffed up and demand the whole country dances the way you command, whether they agree with you or not. In other words, no jackboots please. Keep the cops worrying about murderers, not women in crisis and the health professionals who help them.

Rebecca in ID said...

Okay, I've never talked with someone who doesn't think a born baby is a person, so that's new for me. I don't think it would be all that helpful to quibble about what exactly "person" means. I wonder if we can agree that it is a terrible, violent injustice to kill a baby? That's where I'm coming from. What I am aiming for is that this crime and injustice never happen and that women in crisis not be brought into complicity with such a thing, ever. I don't yet know what it is you are aiming for. You seem to agree that a 12-week old is a human being whose life should be valued, and yet you also seem to think the state should never protect this life, at this early stage of gestation, by law. I am also getting that you place a lot of importance on what the majority of people think, because you have brought up several times that you perceive me to be wanting to inflict my private will on the rest of society. Still, I feel a little dumb for not quite being able to grasp what it is you think, the big picture of it. What would you think if the great majority of people held that abortion is violent and murderous, and that it harms women, and then passed laws to protect people from this? Would that be an okay situation, or would you still consider it "coercive" to the few women who really want an abortion? That was kind of what I was getting at with the question of what if no doctors would perform an abortion. If what you are saying is that the laws aren't going to really be able to be passed or to stick until the majority of Americans are on board with the dignity of human life at all stages, then yes, I am with you there. I can concede taking things step by step. For example, the laws passed recently concerning fetal pain--they do not allow abortion past 20 weeks, which means abortion before 20 weeks is still legal--but I support such laws because they are increasing awareness. But if you're saying that it can never be just for the law to protect life from conception, even with the agreement of the majority, then I don't understand, unless you are holding that it can be known for certain that there is nothing present that is worthy of life until "quickening" (I assume you mean when one can feel the baby moving?). If you are certain of that, and you think that is a certitude that everyone can agree on as true, I would like to know how you could have such certitude. If it is just that you think we must all agree on this for practical purposes, you've lost me. To me, that reminds me of the people at the time of slavery who were content that slavery should not extend beyond southern borders into the north, but insisted that southern slavery laws should be respected and kept in place--not just for now, but indefinitely, because they just couldn't envision people all actually agreeing not to enslave black people. But there is a truth there, whether or not we happen to agree on it at present, which is whether people whatever their race should be free and not enslaved to others, and the right to life itself is even more basic and important. It could very well be that I am misunderstanding you at points, but I'm just trying to pin down just where it is we agree and where we disagree.

vera said...

Well, we have a fair amount of agreement. No, I don’t think it’s useful to quibble about personhood. And of course there are moral stances that a person who holds them must stick by, whether it’s slavery or protecting the life of the unborn. And we agree that it’s a terrible, violent tragedy to kill anyone... anyone at all (or do you support the killing of criminals?).

But you see, you are barking at the wrong tree, imo. You want to make sure that women are never “brought into complicity” with such a thing. But that is not for you to decide, that is for them to decide. It is their complicity, and they as a moral human being must decide which way they want to go -- and bear the consequences. They have free will, and they must use it. That’s one of the main things this earthly life is about, isn’t it? And yet you would make the state take it away from them, as though they were children and you had to make decisions on their behalf.

I am sorry I am not being as clear as you’d wish. This is hard to write about. Let me see... I think that as citizens, we are not free to unleash our private morality on the rest of the people. For example, I myself believe that adult incest is morally very wrong, yet I am not willing to be an agent of a state that persecutes people who do it consensually. I think if the state did do that, it would create more evil than it solved.

I believe that slavery was very wrong, yet I also believe that the Civil War was a terrible wrong that damaged America in inumerable ways, and the wounds still fester. Where the people were unable to speak with one another and work things out, the state cracked down and killed and pillaged and “reconstructed” all the way to hell and back.

It’s not so much that I think the majority’s view should be respected. Sometimes, the majority is wrong. It’s more that I think we have a strong obligation as social beings and citizens to create better agreements voluntarily, and avoid reaching for the heavy hand of the government in issues where the citizens need to work with each other (as we are here) to create a better understanding, and a better solution.

You see, using the heavy hand of the state... it recoils on you. Unless we are all very very careful about resorting to that, then we will live in a state of perpetual war where nothing gets resolved, and resentments pile on resentments. And if you are allowed to force the issue and coerce women to never have access to contraception or early legal abortion, then next time there is a hard issue where the wind blows against you, they will come down on you with a heavy boot. A democracy is about working things out among ourselves.

I did not say that early fetal life is not worth protecting. It is, but on a voluntary basis, lest other evils be unleashed among us. And I do not believe we need to have an agreement on everything in order to be able to work with each other to make this human world of ours work. We just need to be able to get along. If I may? I would like to say you conceding to work slowly to have your way is not much of a concession. It makes the other side suspicious that you are just lying in wait to spring the jaws of the state and will not stop until all contraception is taken away -- presumably by a dictator (how else?) -- and so this stance gets in the way of cooperation. Do you see that?

Rebecca in ID said...

Thanks for bearing with me, Vera, and I hope you don't mind my asking for further clarification. What I don't understand is your position that a law protecting an innocent person equals taking away the free will of another person. Are you saying that you do not think there should be any laws protecting anyone from anyone else? Do you think that it takes away my free will if I cannot legally poison my husband, for example? I don't understand what you are finally getting at. Does a Democratic form of government mean a government under which there are no laws and no penalties? What about incest between an adult and a young child? Does it take away the freedom of the adult if it is unlawful for him to live out his fantasies on his children? I can't believe you think so, but I'm missing what essential distinction there is that would render it coercive to have laws about protecting babies in the womb? I also don't understand why you keep speaking as though this is all about me getting "my way"...do you speak that way about abolitionists who worked incrementally to abolish all slavery? This is about doing my part to protect innocent babies and vulnerable women; it is not about me getting "my way". Maybe it would help me if you explained to me more why you think my principles are self-centered?
Oh, you were curious about criminals...no I do not think criminals should be killed.

vera said...

You ask a lot of questions, Rebecca, but avoid responding to my challenges. I thought we agreed to skip the stuff about personhood? Here is my question to you: how do you propose to take away women’s access to contraception without resorting to dictatorial methods, and if so, how do you justify the use of such methods in a civil commonwealth?

Rebecca in ID said...

Vera, I didn't try to define personhood, what I asked you is why you consider it *necessarily coercive* to establish laws protecting babies in the womb. So if you don't consider a one-year-old a "person", okay, but you do agree that there should be laws against killing one-year-olds, right? I'm still trying to grasp what it is we agree on, and I don't understand your language of coercion. Law is to some extent "coercive" always, I suppose, but I imagine you do agree with some laws, so I'm just asking you why this point of coercion keeps arising.

Contraception is pretty tricky, and I suppose we could talk about it, but maybe if for now we could stick to abortifacient drugs? I would consider it good law to prohibit the sale of abortifacient drugs or the administering of abortifacients by health professionals, and I would tend to think that there should be no laws or penalties concerning a woman who herself ingests abortifacient drugs or herbs.

vera said...

Yes, I imagine you would find a discussion of contraception tricky, if your idea is to hoist "your way" on everybody. Ducking? ;-)

There are, imo, no secular laws "against" killing anybody. There are only laws that specify that certain punishments be meted out to people who do certain things. Too late for that one year old, if the person in question hadn't internalized limits on aggression.

A society whose members have only poorly internalized such limits relies on laws, and if you look at the prisons and wayward teens houses, they are bursting at the seams... well, it does not seem a very successful strategy in this day and age, eh? Laws are there when civility has already failed.

Anyways, I am meandering. To answer your question, the issue of coercion keeps arising because I am unable to imagine how anyone could think they would be able to bring American women or world's women to a point of voluntarily abandoning contraception (whether the kind that prevents implantation or gets rid of the embryo post implantation). So, please help me out here. How do you propose to do it without a crackdown?

Rebecca in ID said...

Wow, so you really don't think there should be laws...I'm kind of amazed. Do you know of a good society where there were no laws? I'm not much of a historian and I haven't heard of one, but that doesn't mean there wasn't one. But at least you are being consistent in your position--you think there should not be penalties for people killing each other, period, and abortion is not an exception.

I'm asking that we not talk about contraception because we already are having a difficult enough time understanding one another's position here, and the issue here is abortion. I'd just like to stay on topic, and then maybe when we thoroughly understand each other we could move on to contraception. Does that make sense?

You are right, if at this point one were to try to impose penalties for selling, producing, administering abortifacients, that would require a "crackdown". I don't think that would have been true forty years ago, but it is true now because of the redefinition of pregnancy and because society has become used to these drugs as something acceptable. In other words we've dug a pretty deep hole and it will take thought and care to extricate ourselves. So, as I said, I believe we need to do what we can to educate and to move towards abortion-limiting legislation that people *can* now accept, and believe and hope that eventually people will look back on horror at what was approved and aided by the state during this time. Much as we look back in horror on slavery, though at the time I'm sure it seemed impossible that there would ever be any kind of significant consensus on that. Legislation will be ineffective in this country without people's wills and hearts changing.

vera said...

Actually, not quite. I see I have been too oblique. I don’t mind there being laws in areas that most everybody accepts as useful.

But yes, there existed many good societies that did not codify laws but used customs -- tribal societies. North American was once full of them, but we... well, our society mostly killed them off. But some peoples, apart from the Indians, still exist in the country who do not rely on laws, and where crime of any kind rarely happens. The Amish. They rely on traditional customs called Ordnung to govern themselves with, and it works very very well. They don’t believe in using the courts and cops and lawyers to fix things either.

See -- we have another area of agreement: legislation is ineffective without wills and hearts changing. Once they do, then legislation (of the good kind) simply puts a stamp on something people already understand and do not wish to do -- like killing a one year old.

Btw, if you made it known to the other side that you will not try to legislate what their wills and hearts do not accept, this would go a long way towards building goodwill among the two sides.

Nicely done, if I may say so, and thank you for the pleasant exchange. If there is something unfinished, please don’t hesitate to speak to it.