January 22, 1973: Roe v. Wade

Norma McCorvey, the titular plaintiff "Jane Roe." Source: AP

Today marks the 38th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion on demand in the United States.

The Wikipedia entry summarizes the facts of the case leading to the Supreme Court’s decision: Norma McCorvey (known as “Jane Roe”) discovered she was pregnant in June 1969. In an attempt to circumvent Texas law, which then allowed abortion in the case of rape, she first falsely claimed she was raped. That false claim failed because there was no police report.

In 1970, attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington filed suit in a U.S. District Court in Texas. … The defendant in the case was Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade, representing the State of Texas. …

The district court ruled in McCorvey’s favor on the merits, and declined to grant an injunction against the enforcement of the laws barring abortion [Note: McCorvey has since become an anti-abortion advocate]. The district court’s decision was based upon the Ninth Amendment, and the court relied upon a concurring opinion by Justice Arthur Goldberg in the 1965 Supreme Court case of Griswold v. Connecticut, regarding a right to use contraceptives. Few state laws proscribed contraceptives in 1965 when the Griswold case was decided, whereas abortion was widely proscribed by state laws in the early 1970s.

Roe v. Wade ultimately reached the U.S. Supreme Court on appeal.

…The court issued its decision on January 22, 1973, with a 7-to-2 majority vote in favor of Roe. [White and Rehnquist dissenting.]

I’m always ready to channel my inner Boehner, so here’s the text of the Ninth Amendment. (I’m reading it out loud, I swear, but I refuse to include an audio file link so you’ll just have to imagine it.)

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

As I understand it, SCOTUS inferred a “right to privacy” in Griswold v. Connecticut (regarding the use of contraceptives), then extended that to first-trimester abortions in Roe v. Wade. I’m not a Constitutional Law expert, so I will leave the appropriateness of that interpretation to the discussion section below.

However, I do have some experience in human development and medicine, so I would like to construct a springboard for our discussion on that basis as well.

A normal pregnancy is 40 weeks. Roe v. Wade divided this period (called gestation), from conception (union of sperm and egg) to parturition (childbirth), into thirds, called trimesters. The first trimester, then, would be the first 13 weeks; the second trimester, weeks 14–26, and the third trimester, weeks 27–40.

At the time of the Roe v. Wade decision, not much was known about development in utero, and premature babies were non-viable at an earlier developmental stage.

I have done a non-exhaustive search for information on viability (in grams, or weeks gestation) and found not much. If anyone finds more information and wants to add it to the comment thread, that would be welcome. I do have a 1993 paper by Luke, et al. which says that almost 20 years ago, about half of infants classified as “very low birth weight” (VLBW) were viable. That threshold is 1,500 grams or about three pounds, and is reached at about 30 weeks gestation, or about three quarters of a normal pregnancy. I’m certain that the viability threshold has shifted, and that most experts would consider a gestational age of 23–24 weeks to be viable. At the time of Roe v. Wade, I would assume that the viability threshold was still well into the third trimester.

Gallup Polling: Abortion should be (always, never, sometimes) legal. Source: Gallup.com

Public opinion regarding abortion has remained remarkably stable in the face of all these scientific and medical innovations. Gallup polling since 1975 has asked whether abortion should be legal under all circumstances (“always legal”), legal under no circumstances (“always illegal”), or legal under some circumstances (“sometimes legal”). “Always legal” has polled at 21–34% in each and every poll since 1975. “Always illegal” has polled at 12–23% during that same period, and “sometimes legal” has always been the clear choice of a plurality or majority favoring it, at 48–61%. My interpretation of this is that public opinion is relatively refractory to scientific facts or progress. Support for, or opposition to, abortion seems to be an emotional decision rather than a rational one.

Gallup polling: Do you consider yourself "pro-life" or "pro-choice"? Source: Gallup.com

This view is bolstered by the graph above, which is difficult to square with the more nuanced three-part analysis (sometimes/never/always legal). In June 2010, a minority of people in the U.S. (45%) considered themselves “pro-choice” even though 78% (54% + 24%, respectively) considered abortion to be legal under some or all circumstances, which to me is the very definition of “pro-choice.” I would submit that, like the label “liberal,” the label “pro-choice” has become so tainted that some people will not self-identify even when it’s accurate. Speaker Boehner, for example, has used the anniversary to announce his opposition to all abortions, even though that position is held by only 19% of Americans in the most recent (May, 2010) Gallup polling. He says “the decision denigrated the respect we must have for life at all stages, especially the innocent unborn.” His statement that “a ban is the will of the people and ought to be the law of the land” is not supported by the facts.

Another approach has been to try to define “life” as beginning when the fetus can feel pain. This was the charge to the U.K. House of Lords’ Commission of Inquiry into Fetal Sentience, which concluded that although pain receptors may be present as early as 6-7 weeks post-conception, that those receptors are not wired into cerebral cortex (and therefore, the fetus cannot “feel pain” by any typical definition) until about 23 to 24 weeks post-conception. (To draw an analogy, while under general anesthesia, you still have pain receptors but because they are chemically disconnected from the cerebral cortex, you do not “feel pain.” A U.K. pro-life group led by physiologist Peter McCullagh which looked at the same data defined the earliest point at which fetal sentience is possible at 11 weeks.

As a scientist, I would appeal for a new way of thinking about human life to celebrate this 38th anniversary. Rather than a Manichean, black-or-white view of human life, I would submit that human life is a continuum with an individual sperm and egg being “not alive” and the viable infant being “alive.” Even conception is an event in cell physiology of no greater or lesser importance than, say, gastrulation.

It is not birth, marriage, or death, but gastrulation which is truly the most important time in your life.

Lewis Wolpert, English embryologist, 1986.

In between the creation of sperm and egg cells, and the birth of the human, there is slow, steady progress toward life, but no bright shining line that can be drawn to mark the border between “not-life” and “life.”

The same is true of the other end of life: death as a process, not an event. My aunt’s death last month illustrates this. She suffered from Alzheimer dementia which took her mind years ago. My father and I then became her legal guardians, and therefore her agents for all aspects of her life. The law recognized her as a non-autonomous person at that point. Years after her initial diagnosis, the bacterium Clostridium difficile took her life away by the legal, technical definition.

A majority of Americans already believe that “abortion should be legal under some circumstances.” I believe this is because they have an innate understanding that the creation of life is a process, not an event. I would argue that we should adopt a new way of thinking about life, and therefore a new way of approaching the abortion debate.


About Monotreme

Monotreme is an unabashedly liberal dog lover, writer, and former scientist who now teaches at a University in an almost-square state out West somewhere. http://www.logarchism.com | http://www.sevendeadlysynapses.com
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122 Responses to January 22, 1973: Roe v. Wade

  1. Mr. Universe says:

    Treme’s chart dividing support for/against abortion into three segments illustrates what I have always thought in that it is possible to be both Pro-choice and Pro-life, just not the other way around. Which begs the observation (sorry mclever) that perhaps there should be three distinct categories in this debate, Pro-choice, Pro-life, and Anti-abortion. Those seem to jibe well with the poll making those who think abortion is allowable under certain circumstances Pro-lifers. But as Treme also points out, by definition this sort of makes them Pro-choice by default.

    I could just be splitting hairs.

  2. Number Seven says:

    Good point. I think many of us would qualify to be under at least two catagories then.

  3. shiloh says:

    hmm, another abortion thread …

    Everyone is pro-life, except cheney/bush etc. but the question is should a woman have a right to choose re: her own body. Answer, of course a woman should make her own personal decision regarding her own welfare ie life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

    carry on as again abortion discussions, as a rule, end up going nowhere because evangelical wingers don’t believe in the separation of church and state.

    take care, blessings

  4. mclever says:

    Of course, there are many of us who feel strongly that we personally would never choose an abortion ourselves, but we would not wish to deprive any woman of that choice for herself. As such, we are strongly pro-choice, especially during that first trimester when the fetus clearly isn’t viable outside the womb, but pro-life in our personal decisions.

    Muddled yet?

  5. mclever says:

    In the Gallup poll, the question of whether abortion should be legal in all cases or some cases doesn’t clarify whether those who think it should only be legal in some cases make that distinction due to length of pregnancy or “rape and incest only” or for some other reason. This clearly isn’t a simple, two-dimensional debate.

    There’s the viability of the fetus. The continuum between fertilized egg through embryo and fetus to infant doesn’t have sharp clear lines, especially as science expands the bounds of viability. Do those who say abortion is ok in all instances really support abortions of a viable child? What about a marginally viable one? Where or how do we draw that line?

    There’s the circumstances of conception. Rape, incest, one-night stands, married monogamy, or failed contraceptives? Do we define the acceptability of an abortion based on these circumstances? OK for rape or incest, but not after consensual sex? Does it matter how conception occurred? Isn’t that an invasion of privacy to even ask the question?

    There’s the condition of the fetus itself. Does it have a known birth defect that threatens its survival? Is it deformed? Is it male or female? Do we allow abortions past the “viable” line if a significant birth defect is discovered later? If abortions should only be allowable in some circumstances, then what conditions qualify?

    There’s the health of the mother. Is this a risky pregnancy? Is the fetus causing health problems for the mother? Is her life at risk? Or merely her mental health? Those who only want abortions to be allowable in some circumstances often make a health of the mother exemption. What constitutes a sufficient threat to the mother’s well-being?

    That’s why some people fall into the ‘allowable in all cases’ category, because these questions are difficult. Drawing clear lines in the sand at 13 weeks or 20 weeks makes it much simpler than trying to parse all of the nuances of viability, conception circumstances, congenital defects, or maternal well-being.

  6. Mr. Universe says:

    Do doctors who perform abortions have a standard of when they walk away from the procedure or is it a matter of preference?

  7. Monotreme says:

    @Mr. U:
    Do doctors who perform abortions have a standard of when they walk away from the procedure or is it a matter of preference?

    As far as I know, it is neither ethical, nor in most jurisdictions legal, to abort a viable fetus unless the life of the mother is in danger. In that case, the baby is generally delivered by Caesarian section.

    A method that would kill the fetus (such as the so-called “partial birth abortion”) is used only as a last resort when, in the judgment of a physician, there is a choice between the life of the mother and the life of the baby.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5168163

    This is my understanding. I’d be happy to have others point out specific, documented counter-examples if they exist.

  8. Number Seven says:

    I am anti abortion, yet pro life. I feel there are better options then abortion, yet I value life.

    Let’s look at this from a public con perspective. I would be anti abortion, but when you are alive, you are on your own because I want to defund all programs that help the poor.

  9. Mr. Universe says:

    One chart I found interesting in the Wiki article were the opinion polls based on trimester. Now that is interesting. It would appear there is some consensus over when abortions should not be performed in public opinion. [I don’t know if the formatting will survive after posting comment or not. Apologies in advance]

    ————————2003 Poll———-2000 Poll———–1996 Poll
    ———————-Legal / Illegal——Legal / Illegal—–Legal / Illegal
    1st trimester——66% / 29%——-66% / 31%———-64% / 30%
    2nd trimester—–25% / 68%——-24% / 69%———26% / 65%
    3rd trimester—–10% / 84%——–8% / 86%———13% / 82%

  10. Jean says:

    It’s more complex than that, Mr U. Young women today, like my daughter born in 1976, are pro-life from the stand-point that they may not choose abortion as a FIRST option, depending on their own individual circumstances, but it is an choice that they have always had and do not want to lose.

    Especially for those of us who grew up pre Roe v Wade, it is very important to recognise that there is an entire generation of women who are not even aware that there was a time in the not very distant past when women did not have any choice.

    So asked on any poll if they are pro-life or not, my daughter and her friends would say that they are pro-life, which to them is NOT at all the same thing as being anti-abortion. Women today are both pro-life and pro-choice. And that’s a good thing.

    The right-wing evangelicals, however, are interpreting any polls showing a tilt towards “pro-life” to mean “anti-abortion”, and that is not the case according to my daughter and her friends.

  11. Mr. Universe says:

    I was also curious about public opinion since 1973. A cursory searched turned up remarkably consistent results:
    (again apologies for loss of formatting)

    1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, 2005, 2006, & 2007 Respectively (Percent)

    Favor—–52, 47, 54, 60, 52, 49, 56
    Oppose—41, 44, 39, 37, 47, 47, 40
    Not sure—7,–8,–7,—3,—1,—4,—4

    This seems to suggest that there is a slight rise in opposition to abortion over time because the undecideds have finally decided.

    Harris Survey conducted by Louis Harris & Associates. February 23-March 4, 1976. N for 2007 = 1,520 adults nationwide. N = approximately same for each prior poll.

    Although I can’t say why the eighties and nineties were not polled.

  12. Mr. Universe says:

    Here’s an interesting tidbit from Gallup:

    Most Americans correctly perceive that the public at large takes the middle position on abortion, although the percentage who perceive this is larger than the actual percentage who take the middle position. At the same time, rather than view themselves as in the beleaguered minority, they tend to overestimate the proportion of Americans who share their own view, and underestimate the percentage who hold the most divergent view from their own.

  13. Mr. Universe says:

    And check out these trends in abortion since 1973 from a presentation at the Guttmacher Institute just this month.

    Abortion trends since 1973

    Some of the highlights:

    Annual number of abortions increased in the 70’s, leveled off in the eighties, dropped in the nineties and have remained stable since.

    Maternal deaths declined dramatically after Roe vs Wade

    More than 80% of abortions are from unmarried women

    Nearly 90% of abortions occur in the first trimester

  14. Bart DePalma says:

    Some numbers to contemplate…

    Appropriately contained in their morbidity and mortality weekly report, the CDC documents the abortion death toll of nearly 40 million since Roe.

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/ss/ss5511.pdf

    Abortion currently kills around 1.3 million a year.

    As points of comparison…

    The Civil War killed 618,000.

    The Iraq War killed 4,287 Americans.

    Absent Roe, our population would be 12% larger.

    “When you kill one person it’s a tragedy, when you kill ten thousand people it a statistic” Joseph Stalin

  15. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    And absent other medical and agricultural advances, the population would be far lower than it is today, due to disease, famine, stillbirths and war.

    I’ll remind you for the nth time that, until an embryo is viable outside the womb, it has only a virtual existence.

    I have to point out that Americans were not the only ones killed by the Iraq War.

    Did anyone else read the story of the illicit abortion provider in Philadelphia and suffer deja vu? I remember when abortions were illegal, and women and girls too poor to go somewhere to get decent medical treatment died as a result of back-room abortions. Thanks to the social conservatives, poor people in many areas cannot get decent abortions and are turning to quacks like the guy in Philly. And it looks to get worse, thanks to the idiots the teapers elected under the guise of “fiscal conservative”.

  16. Bart DePalma says:

    SC: And absent other medical and agricultural advances, the population would be far lower than it is today, due to disease, famine, stillbirths and war.

    Good comparisons to abortion, except we inflict abortion on our own children.

  17. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    They’re not children. No more than the millions of embryos that are lost to miscarriages.

    Speaking of “inflicting” — we also “inflict” lower opportunities for success and a life well spent on children who do not have the fortune to be born to wealth. Yet this is not only not a cause for guilt — for you — but is a goal that you wish to actively further.

    And that’s just American-born, oops, I mean “American-born to American citizens”, as your teaper co-conspirators want to eliminate birthright citizenship. What about all the Iraqi children you’ve condemned to death or life in a refugee village?

    So don’t speak of “inflicting” — you lack the moral stature to speak on this regard.

  18. Bart DePalma says:

    As the abortion charnel house in Phili gruesomely demonstrates, there us nothing “virtual” about abortion. Of course, abortionists only fault their collegue for poor technique.

    http://healthland.time.com/2011/01/21/philly-abortion-horrors-what-matters-is-how-and-not-when-an-abortion-is-done-says-expert/

  19. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    There is nothing virtual about the life that is ruined by a forced pregnancy either. Personally, I would support a woman, girl, or family on whatever decision they make in such difficult circumstances, and I guess I exhibit some libertarian tendencies by saying I do not want a “one-size-fits-all” government-imposed recipe for the choice. Leave it to the individual and their doctor, before the embryo is viable.

    What the Philly example shows is that, thanks to the idiot social conservatives, we’ve already gone too far in restricting abortions for poor people. The insane attempt to legislate morality has produced the nightmare in Philly, in a throwback to the days before Roe V Wade.

  20. Bart DePalma says:

    SC:

    Miscarriages? You mean the miscarriages where hopeful mothers grieve the loss of their baby and often have memorials to their lost child? Miscarriages are almost universally considered to be a tragic loss of life.

    The difference between miscarriages and abortions is that miscarriages are natural health problem which we seek to avoid while we willingly inflict abortion on our children.

  21. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    Dishonest to the end, I see. Still blatantly misusing the term “children” when it does not apply. And any person who mourns as much for an embryo lost to miscarriage today is as hopelessly befuddled and insane as the parent of long ago who mourned a still-birth or infant death as much as the loss of a child of 10.

  22. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    How many adopted children does Bart and his wife currently have under their roof?

  23. shiloh says:

    Max How many adopted children does Bart and his wife currently have under their roof?

    ‘nuf said!

  24. mclever says:

    Bart,

    You’re just parsing words. A miscarriage is a spontaneous abortion, whether the mother is happy about it or not. It’s your subjective supposition that the few who hold memorials represent every miscarriage, which is far from true.

  25. Bart DePalma says:

    SC: And any person who mourns as much for an embryo lost to miscarriage today is as hopelessly befuddled and insane as the parent of long ago who mourned a still-birth or infant death as much as the loss of a child of 10.

    Savaging grieving mothers now? How charming.

    Go youtube “miscarriage memorial” and go watch the “hopelessly befuddled and insane” grieving parents.

  26. shortchain says:

    Bart,

    I can’t decide if the fallacy of pretending I was “savaging grieving mothers” is more of a straw man, non-sequitur, or just your inability to understand plain, written English. Whatever, your reply bears no relationship to my comment, which remains true: people who mourn the loss of that which never existed as much as if it did, in fact, exist, are insane.

    Also, what mclever said.

  27. filistro says:

    @Bart Go youtube “miscarriage memorial

    LOL… Bart is now using the emotions of people suffering miscarriages as an argument against legal abortion!

    Hey Bart… why don’t you go to “gay marriage ceremonies” and watch all the people celebrating the joy of being granted equal rights in their own country? Those displays of pure emotion will definitely persuade you to grant such rights to actual adult human beings who are your countrymen, since you are so touchingly concerned about people’s emotions (and the “rights” of minuscule cell clumps.)

  28. filistro says:

    What’s more… a miscarriage is (if one embraces a religious ethos) simply “God’s way” of dispensing with a fetus that is defective in some way. Or, if you wish, nature’s way of keeping the species strong. Either way, any sane person (as shortchain points out) accepts this as a natural physical incident, feels a sense of loss for the baby they had pictured and hoped for, and then carries on and looks for a better outcome next time.

    Those who would publicly “mourn” a fetus and erect “memorials” are … well, kind of creepy.

  29. Bart DePalma says:

    Fili:

    You are a mother.

    When you were pregnant, did you honestly think of your unborn as a human child or simply an unimportant “undifferentiated collection of cells?”

    Would you have treated a miscarriage of your unborn as nothing more significant than a bad case of food poisoning – unfortunate, but no big deal?

    I have never known a pregnant mother who wanted the unborn that did not think she was carrying her baby.

    It is only when the pregnant mother does not want the unborn that the unborn becomes something less than human.

    This is a very human response. Most people with a conscience dehumanize the people they are about to kill.

  30. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Bart has NO MORAL ARGUMENT to make if he has not put his “morality” where his mouth is, and adopted.

    Better use another line of argument, old son.

  31. filistro says:

    Bart, you don’t know anything, and you have no desire to learn anything..

    But since you ask, I will answer.

    When you were pregnant, did you honestly think of your unborn as a human child or simply an unimportant “undifferentiated collection of cells?”

    I thought the latter. Every woman does, instinctively. It is a protective device as much as anything. We’ve almost all experienced early miscarriages, and so have our friends and relatives. Something deep within us keeps us from bonding until the pregnancy is “safe”… and our instinct tells us that safety point is reached sometime after the first trimester, when we know the fetus is firmly established and likely to stay there. That’s when we cautiously allow ourselves to stop thinking of the fetus as “something inside me” and begin to wrap ourselves warmly around the glowing, delicious idea of “my baby.”

    Women don’t start talking about babies, knitting tiny garments and buying nursery furnishings until about the fourth month. Up to that point they KNOW their fetus is just an undifferentiated collection of cells” that can be arbitrarily flushed from their body at any time, and they are braced for that possibility.

  32. Jean says:

    Bart, are you familiar with the right wing’s “crisis pregnancy centers”. All my right-wing evangelical siblings are strong supporters of these CPCs.

    Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are usually run by religious organizations with a staunch opposition to both abortion and contraception. Additionally, many are opposed to single women becoming mothers and tend to use their resources to coerce women into signing adoption papers.

    CPCs are fake clinics that use deceptive tactics to lure vulnerable women into their doors. Once inside, women are subjected to an array of false and misleading information regarding their reproductive options. With over 4000 CPCs operational in the U.S., it’s likely tens of thousands of women have, through no fault of their own, fallen victim to one of the most dangerous threats to reproductive freedom today. ”

    CPCs harass, humiliate, and scare women to stop them from choosing abortion. Many provide little to no assistance for pregnant women planning on becoming single mothers, or women who have revoked consent for adoption. “No CPC we have investigated gave out any information about WIC or other programs designed to help single mothers. CPCs have been described to us by community activists as “adoption rings.”

    Read some of the women’s experiences with CPCs on the CPC Watch website listed below.

    http://cpcwatch.org/index.php

  33. dcpetterson says:

    Bart, whenever a woman has a “spontaneous” miscarriage, why is she not investigated on suspicion of murder? Wouldn’t we have to do that if embryos and fetuses are considered people?

    If a pregnant woman smokes or drinks alcohol, don’t we need to prosecute her on charges of child abuse? And if she insists on continuing such behavior, should Protective Services seize her fetus? Or perhaps put her in prison, so they can isolate her from bad behaviors?

    What about mothers who don’t take their pre-natal vitamins? Should we fine them or jail them, because they are malnurishing their embryos? Perhaps strap them into hospital beds, and force-feed the vitamins through IV’s?

    How far are you willing to go to eliminate the freedoms and individual rights of women who happen to be pregnant?

  34. mclever says:

    Indeed, filistro.

    For the many mothers I know, you are absolutely correct. I would posit that those women who suffer the most grief from losing a pregnancy are those who are past (or nearly past) the first trimester, because for most women that’s when they start to become more invested in it.

  35. Mr. Universe says:

    I would urge everyone that entering into a debate over the morality of abortion with someone who has no moral high ground but fanatically believes he does is entering into a mobius loop. It will waste valuable time in your day. I promise. Feel free to discuss the merits of this article. But I caution you not to succumb to the lure of converting the closed minded.

  36. mclever says:

    dcpetterson,

    And what do we do about those women who are told that an occasional drink is better for fetal development than absolute abstinence. Do we then prosecute the teetotalers for failing to drink a glass of wine every two weeks?

    😉

  37. mclever says:

    Ah, Mr. U, but sometimes it’s fun to poke at the Mobius loop. 😉

  38. mclever says:

    @Jean

    Especially for those of us who grew up pre Roe v Wade, it is very important to recognise that there is an entire generation of women who are not even aware that there was a time in the not very distant past when women did not have any choice.

    I agree completely. RvW has been the law of the land for as long as I can remember, which distorts perspective. Like your daughter, I’m “pro-life” in that I value and support life, but I’m pro-choice because of the horror stories I heard from my aunt and her “crazy” friends. Without having heard those first- and second-hand stories, I doubt I would have the same strength of conviction about the importance of keeping CHOICE available to all women in all circumstances. Even so, it’s hard to conceive of how fragile a woman’s rights really are.

  39. Bartbuster says:

    Mr. U, telling people not to hammer Baghdad is as much of a waste of time as “debating” him.

  40. dcpetterson says:

    It will be interesting to see what happens in the courts when Teaper state governments begin passing anti-choice laws. When these are overturned, will the conservatives go nuts? Since a clear majority wants abortions to be legal in at least some circumstances, will we hear noises about “tyranny” when governments impose restrictions that go father than The People want?

  41. dcpetterson says:

    @mclever
    Even so, it’s hard to conceive of how fragile a woman’s rights really are.

    I’m old enough to remember pre-Roe days. A few of my contemporaries had illegal abortions, or had to travel to other states to get a legal one.

    If anything will re-energize young people in favor of progressive candidates, the assault on the rights of women should do it.

  42. Mr. Universe says:

    @BB

    I’m really tired of this whole conversation being about arguing with one particular person rather than discussing the topic at hand. You, for example, seem to only have an opinion on a topic if it directly clashes with him. I frankly have no desire to expend energy providing a platform for flame wars.

    In my wildest dreams, I wish people would present arguments FOR something, not AGAINST someone.

    You’ve already declared your position just by your moniker. I am not re-naming this site ‘Beat up Bart’. Please stop making it about him and contribute something that you feel is relevant to the conversation.

    I mean, seriously, if I publish an article tomorrow about climate change we know what the comment section will look like. We’ll get a bunch of entrenched bullshit that offers no useful contributions to the discussion. And everybody will say, “dude, you’re an idiot”. Nobody will stop to contemplate or research the effects humankind is having on the environment.

    I’m just saying rise above it. Sure be critical. Just be critical of the argument, not the person.

  43. Bartbuster says:

    I’m really tired of this whole conversation being about arguing with one particular person rather than discussing the topic at hand.

    The fact that you haven’t figured out by now that that isn’t going to happen as long as Baghdad is posting here is pretty astounding. You can’t be very bright.

  44. Mr. Universe says:

    Your comments, as provocative as those whom you seek to provoke, will always welcome, BartBuster.

  45. shiloh says:

    Bart enjoys being buried and we enjoy burying him …

    As such, 538’s conundrum.

    The yin and yang of Bartles as 538 is better than sex for him … or something 😛

    His 24/7 Obama fetish/obsession is quite endearing.

    >

    btw, it is interesting the Hot Fudge thread turned into an abortion thread also as once folk start talking about abortion it’s all-consuming.

  46. Bartbuster says:

    Trust me, if you ban everyone who responds to Baghdad’s idiocy, pretty soon he will be the only one left posting. If you ban Baghdad the level of discourse will improve dramatically. If you’re not going to do either, at least you could stop whining.

  47. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Mr U

    As one who delightedly hammers Bart for the simple reason that I believe an unchallenged assertion stands as fact, may I suggest:

    Mr DePalma is welcome here as long as he either avoids false and misleading assertions or provides independent citations to support his opinions. Trollish behavior on his part gets one warning, after which a second occurrence gets a 14 day ban. After which the game begins again.

    Beyond that, that same rule may apply to any of us here.

  48. NotImpressed says:

    From the article:
    Support for, or opposition to, abortion seems to be an emotional decision rather than a rational one.

    I think this is true. And it’s probably true of most political issues. I suspect people tend to decide how they feel about an issue, and then go looking for justifications. Sometimes this leads to inconsistent positions. But humans often are not consistent.

  49. Jean says:

    Max,

    re: Mr DePalma is welcome here as long as he either avoids false and misleading assertions or provides independent citations to support his opinions.

    Agreed. To date, most of Bart’s assertions are merely Bart disasterbating.

  50. shortchain says:

    There’s no need for access to abortion to be an emotional issue, nor for people to be inconsistent about it — provided that one has a modicum of empathy and humility.

    Empathy requires one to feel for the mother. I’m so empathic that I couldn’t even imagine a career as a rancher, doctor or nurse, let alone a lawyer — but I’m simply incapable of empathy for an embryo. What anti-abortion folks feel for the embryo is a reflection of abstract religious fervor — which is to say an irrational belief in something for which there is no evidence outside their tangled neuronal connections.

    I’m not saying the feeling is not “real”. But it’s not based on reality.

    Where does humility come into it, you ask? The humble person does not presume to make life-or-death decisions for others.

    It’s really as simple as that. People who are anti-choice are, underneath the false humility that the “faithful” often don like a sun hat, arrogant and lacking in empathy.

  51. mclever says:

    Puh-leeze, Bartbuster, Max, and others. The point isn’t that anyone wants to ban anyone or censor anyone’s posts. We’re all just being asked to exercise a little self-restraint and to concentrate on the issues rather than personalities. I don’t think that’s too much to ask on a site where the administrators have expressed a desire for reasonable discourse.

    It behooves all of us once in a while to accept a gentle reminder to stay on the topic at hand rather than allowing ourselves to be sidetracked by trollish behavior from either side.

  52. NotImpressed says:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    I’d think the Ninth should be enough to put to rest the complaints of conservatives that there is no “right to privacy.” It’s too bad the Ninth doesn’t get the same attention as the Second. Or even the Tenth.

  53. shortchain says:

    I should add that there are also many who have been told, by people who know better, that an embryo is a child — and these poor, deluded people are therefore confused into thinking that terminating a pregnancy, while a hideous — and to me, unthinkable — choice to have to make, is also “murder”. Which it isn’t.

    These “anti-abortion” folks are merely the naive victims of the unscrupulous manipulators who are often, like the Republicans who oppose abortion rights for electoral benefit, not believers themselves.

  54. NotImpressed says:

    I think you’re right, shortchain. Too many things are now just political footballs. Rather than consider what is best for the nation, or best for people, these issues have become simply ways to get elected.

    Some same people think government shouldn’t help make sure we can get healthcare, because that somehow intrudes on our “liberties” (don’t as me how). Yes these same people think it’s okay for the government to control what a woman can do with her own body.

    The only government officials standing between Americans and their doctors are the ones who interfere with the right of choice.

  55. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    What about the IIIrd!

    NObody ever mentions Amendment III!!!!

  56. Bartbuster says:

    We’re all just being asked to exercise a little self-restraint and to concentrate on the issues rather than personalities.

    No, we’re being asked to show restraint while a warmongering POS liar like Baghdad posts whatever the F he wants. Screw that. If you allow a POS like Baghdad to spew wingnut propaganda on your blog, you get what you deserve.

  57. Bartbuster says:

    Puh-leeze, Bartbuster, Max, and others. The point isn’t that anyone wants to ban anyone or censor anyone’s posts

    By the way, I didn’t say that Baghdad should be banned, I just said that when you allow scum like Baghdad to post, it’s pretty idiotic to expect reasonable discourse.

  58. shortchain says:

    BB

    So you believe that two wrongs make a right?

  59. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Actually THREE lefts do equal 1 right!

    Try it in your car sometime.

  60. Bartbuster says:

    So you believe that two wrongs make a right?

    No, I believe that warmongering scum should be confronted whenever they open their ignorant mouths.

  61. dcpetterson says:

    It’s a difficult balance. On the one hand, we want to explore certain topics — that’s why we bloggers on this site write particular articles. When a comment thread shifts markedly from that topic — particularly when it shifts because particular commenters keep repeating the same inane talking points — that detracts from the discussion of the topic at hand.

    On the other hand, topic drift is a way of life, and we want to encourage exploration of American politics in all its nuances and implications. And we don’t want to censor. We want to encourage everyone who wants to comment to make their comments.

    Similarly, as Bartbuster says, inane and absurd comments sometimes need an answer. You wouldn't think they would, because obviously insane inanity should be laughed out of court as a matter of course, even without response. But so much of our current political discourse is dominated by this nonsense — and so many people give every indication of actually believing it — that many of us feel compelled to answer the lies and the spin.

    But on the other hand, this often means we allow one or two bomb-throwers to dominate a conversation that really should be had on something else.

    There is no clear or easy solution to these questions. Perhaps we should have a thread to discuss it….

  62. dcpetterson says:

    shortchain, re: “So you believe that two wrongs make a right?”

    For every vengeance, there is an equal and opposite revengeance. Don’t bother with it. It’s too much like work.

    The Books of Raoul

  63. shortchain says:

    Mr. U.,

    If you have a thread on the topic of thread-rot, I’ll be there. There may yet be a way to allow all to have a good time without having the threads degenerate into mindless and futile expressions of antagonism — speaking as someone who has all too often participated in exactly the kind of Möbius logic exercises you describe.

    Self-restraint is a lot easier to recommend than to practice.

  64. Bart DePalma says:

    U:

    BB is my personal cyberstalker. This person has been following me around the web for the better part of a decade attempting to make any blog on which I post unreadable. Over time, he will completely lose it and descend into incoherent cursing and spamming tirades.

    His internet name pretty much reflects his fixation with me.

    From what I can tell, bb is all spam and no bite. I ignore him unless he posts something which serves my needs.

    I am truly sorry if this person is bothering the rest of you.

  65. shortchain says:

    Is anybody else thinking:

    “So, naturalists observe, a flea
    Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
    And these have smaller still to bite ’em;
    And so proceed ad infinitum.”

    J. Swift.

    eh?

  66. Mainer says:

    No shortchain but I like it.

  67. Bartbuster says:

    I am truly sorry if this person is bothering the rest of you.

    Your self-delusion appears to have no limits.

  68. Mule Rider says:

    Personally, I think this site has completely gone off the rails. The blind and destructive ideology that forms the core belief set of the majority of posters here is upsetting enough but is at least manageable, but the incessant flame wars and antagonistic behavior make it nearly intolerable to visit anymore. This behavior is personified by the two biggest clowns on the internet – De Palma and his weasly little stalker, Bartbuster. I don’t know what the deal is with those two and frankly I don’t care. One is a delusional moron who supposedly speaks for “libertarian conservatism” – a label I sometimes (and informally) attach to myself – but there is often very little overlap between Bart’s beliefs and my own. Then you’ve got the other nimrod who is arguable one of the angriest and nastiest trolls on the internet who argues from such a hatefully far-left (and anti-conservative viewpoint), you seriously have to wonder if he’s one of those nutjobs who just might come unhinged one day and fell a few people at the local post office or grocery store. Disturbing.

    Anyway, I’ve toned it down from the old days back at the original 538 and plan on keeping it toned down, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be coming around very often, if at all. If the riff-raff and antagonstic behavior continues, you sure won’t be seeing me. If it cleans up a bit, I’ll consider coming around a little more often.

  69. Bartbuster says:

    Mule Rider, you threatened to kill people. You have probably threatened everyone in here. Don’t try to pretend that you’re suddenly the voice of reason.

  70. Mule Rider says:

    “Mule Rider, you threatened to kill people.”

    Regrettably, I have. I was never serious about it (not excusing it) but just resorting to awkward outbursts towards people with which I disagreed.

    “You have probably threatened everyone in here.”

    Highly doubtful. While I’ve been known to have a few outbursts, I think only the most extreme (those with violent imagery) were directed at just a handful. Again, any/all of that behavior was reprehensible and regrettable.

    “Don’t try to pretend that you’re suddenly the voice of reason.”

    And you are?

    I can only think of one or two people I’ve come across on these blogs that have been as vile, mean, nasty, etc. as you. You hardly ever put together a coherent thought defending a position and seem to be more interesteed in personal attacks and take-downs, name-calling, and vitriol.

    While I may have said some regrettable things on the internet the past couple of years, I’m at least sorry for them. You’re unrepentant for the hateful bile you spew.

  71. Bartbuster says:

    I can only think of one or two people I’ve come across on these blogs that have been as vile, mean, nasty, etc. as you.

    And since YOU are one of those people, you should probably just shut the F up.

    Mule Rider, when I threaten someone you might have reason to say something. Until then nothing I post will come close to the hateful bile you have posted.

    Besides, nothing I have said is all that bad. Calling Baghdad a warmongering scumbag is pretty accurate. Saying that it’s idiotic to block Shiloh’s posts while letting Baghdad post whatever he wants is also accurate. Where is the hateful bile?

  72. Mule Rider says:

    That’s about the kind of response I expected from you….deflection and “who me?” type stuff. And while I can’t recall you ever threatening anyone directly, I can distinctly remember you wishing that millions of people who don’t think or act like you were dead. Real classy there, hoss.

    “Where is the hateful bile?”

    Fortunately for you, because Nate whitewashed the comments section from the old fivethirtyeight.com when he moved to the NYT, most of your best (worst?) work is now gone or is very hard to find….only lingering on internet caches or other snapshots of those old webpages. I don’t have the time or motivation to go digging them up, though nearly anyone who is familiar with you knows exactly the disgusting things you’ve said. And your obsession with De Palma – while he’s an idiot and needs to be called out for his lies, distortions, and outright fantasies – is sickening. That, and your moniker as the anti-Bart, tells me you’re only interested in standing against or in opposition to something than actually for anything.

    The only thing I can tell you is….

    get a life!

  73. Bartbuster says:

    That’s what I figured. You got nothing.

  74. Bart DePalma says:

    Muley:

    Arguing with my stalker only encourages him.

    Fili:

    I am not going to post here anymore on abortion. It only upsets everyone involved. We know where each other stands on this one.

  75. shiloh says:

    Tying up loose ends re: disingenuous Bartles …

    Re: he and Bartbuster and Citizen Pamphleteer ie

    There are two simple rules which must be followed to have a comment posted:

    1) No cursing or name calling.

    2) The comment must address the topic of the thread.

    Thanks in advance!

    Can only speak for myself as I made 4/5 posts at his site which followed the above (2) simple rules that never saw the light of day! Soooo

    1) Bart is a hypocrite! :::shocking:::

    2) Bart does not in any way, shape or form believe in freedom of speech!

    btw, Bart said this to me a couple mos. after I arrived at 538: then there will be no more further discussion between the two of us. Period.

    >

    Re: internet discussion in general:

    At Joker’s a reality tv site, the discussion would many times get more intense in the Big Brother reality tv show forum as many posters would get soooo intense in their hatred for a particular contestant, they would become incoherent in their rage 😛 than it would in the political forum, which was kinda amusing. Suffice it to say, whether arguing sports, reality tv, politics, whatever on the net, human nature, being what it is, people become unglued!

    >

    Did I mention Bart said to me a couple years ago ~ then there will be no more further discussion between the two of us. Period.

    Bart, you get the last word!

  76. Mule Rider says:

    “That’s what I figured. You got nothing.”

    I couldn’t have said it better (to you) myself.

    Thanks!

  77. shortchain says:

    Having an acrimonious dispute over acrimonious dispute is just so … self-referential. And after Mr. U., just above in this very same thread spoke of empty, flat arguments with only one edge. And at such a high level of wit and originality, too:

    “That’s what I figured. You got nothing.”

    “I couldn’t have said it better (to you) myself.”

    Impressive.

  78. Bartbuster says:

    Impressive.

    Likewise.

  79. Mule Rider says:

    “Impressive.”

    I can’t speak for the others here, but I’m NOT trying to find the wittiest, most clever way of tearing down the people I disagree with.

    It doesn’t really further the idea of “reasonable discourse,” in my opinion.

    YMMV, though.

    Let the flame war resume…

  80. Bartbuster says:

    I can’t speak for the others here, but I’m NOT trying to find the wittiest, most clever way of tearing down the people I disagree with.

    You just threaten them.

  81. mclever says:

    Obviously we need a new topic…

    How ’bout Rahm being DQ’d from the Chicago Mayoral race?

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/48061.html

    Does anyone care? Good thing? Bad thing? Should his candidacy have been allowed, since he’s a long time Chicago resident who maintained property there even though he physically relocated to DC for 2 years? Or, did the appellate court get it right. He’s a DC carpetbagger who got what he deserved?

    Or the Moscow terrorist attack at the airport that killed 30+ and injured 160+?

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110124/ap_on_re_eu/eu_russia_airport_blast

    Any speculation as to who or why? Chechens? If not, then who else? Likely motivations? (I’ve heard some wild “anti-FIFA” speculations from rabid soccer fans.)

  82. mclever says:

    Or, we could venture back to the putative topic of this thread…

    If we assume that abortions should be legal in at least some circumstances, and given the slippery definition of when “life” begins, then how should we decide the legal line for when an abortion is or is not permissible?

    Is there a way to do this? Or should it always be “between the woman and her doctor”?

  83. shiloh says:

    mclever, are you trying to save Bartles by changin’ the subject ?!?

    :::chuckles:::

    take care

  84. mclever says:

    @shiloh,

    No one but Bart can save himself, if that were possible. I’m just trying to get a topic that someone besides Bartbuster is interested in carrying forward.

  85. Mule Rider says:

    “Does anyone care?”

    Not really. I don’t, anyway. Which renders the remaining questions about Rahm vis a vis Chicago’s mayorship moot.

    “Or the Moscow terrorist attack at the airport that killed 30+ and injured 160+?”

    Very sad. Don’t have thoughts/words to do this tragedy justice, so I won’t even try.

    Speaking of “other” topics, I’m surprised nothing has come up on here about the recent MSNBC-Olbermann split.

  86. mclever says:

    Mule,

    There’ve been a smattering of MSNBC-KO comments, though no official posts on the subject. Usually the comments have been pretty far down the thread.

    I voiced my opinions on the subject pretty plainly over on the Hot Fudge Sunday thread…

  87. Monotreme says:

    I’m sure that others are working on main posts.

    In the meantime, I appreciate mclever’s efforts to get us back on track.

    What I was really hoping for in this thread, as mclever indicated, is to discuss two (related) points, using reasoned argument to make a case:

    1) Is there, or is there not, a “bright line” which can be drawn between “alive” and “not alive”?

    2) Given the answer to #1 above, what is a public policy approach that would encompass your preferred answer?

    I know that abortion arguments tend to be emotional and nasty. I was just hoping that once, since we had someone in the room who supposedly knows Con Law, that we could discuss the Ninth Amendment. Or something.

  88. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Mono,

    Perhaps the question is not “alive” vs “not alive”, but should be (and I think IS) “viable human” vs “non-viable human”.

    Factually, society (none otherwise of which I am aware) sets the date of birth as the beginning point for human rights and responsibilities, not the date of conception. Otherwise, we’d have a 9 month head start on “legal age” requirements. Nobody argues THAT point! Maybe because of the fact that viability is thus proved for all to see.

    Just a thought.

  89. mclever says:

    Monotreme,

    For what it’s worth, I don’t believe there is a “bright line,” or at least not one that will be universally accepted, or even majority accepted. I figure science will some day find ways around any such lines we might draw anyway. That said, I also think there are several reasonable lines that could be drawn at any point between conception all the way up to the moment of birth. (And in some cultures, the baby isn’t considered a person until it reaches it’s first year…)

    I also think that the line may vary from case to case, from mother to mother, depending on circumstances. However, vague sometimes-sorta-almost-maybes don’t make for good laws. Laws need to be clear and enforceable. As far as I know, no fetus younger than 20 weeks is possibly viable outside of the mother’s womb. You cited the point at which the fetus can possibly feel pain at around 23 weeks, or the earliest possible sentience at 11 weeks. I’m sure there are other developmental milestones that could be cited, but none of these really defines “life.” In light of the variables, I have no objection with making an arbitrary line somewhere between 12 and 20 weeks and just saying: OK, before that we won’t ask questions. After that, there must be extenuating ‘life threat to the mother’ types of circumstances, until the fetus is viable enough to survive early delivery. It seems a reasonable compromise for society to make. It allows choice for those whose morality allows them to choose it while still offering some protection to the fetus to avoid arbitrary termination as it nears the point of viability.

    So, now we just need some folks to come tell me how wrong I am and why.

    🙂

  90. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Maybe someone better versed in current neonatal medicine can answer:

    What is the current “record” low, post-conception “delivery” age for a premature fetus/baby that survived with no congenital defects primarily due to the early “delivery”?

  91. NotImpressed says:

    Perhaps the question is not “alive” vs “not alive”, but should be (and I think IS) “viable human” vs “non-viable human”.

    I think that’s reasonable. Certainly in first trimester, a fetus is not viable. Whether it is “human” or “alive” then becomes irrelevant.

    Personally, I think that if abortions are outlawed, everyone opposed to abortion should be required to adopt an unwanted child. Maybe three of them. Except that would be cruel to the children. But then so is being born into a family where you’re not wanted. So I’m not sure a forced adoption would be worse.

  92. Number Seven says:

    Re: Rahm

    I laughed out loud when I heard about it. Why did Obama pick this nitwit to be in his admin in the first place??? And now, this jack hole Immelt???

    I know a lot of you are big fans of Obama but seriously??? Immelt???

    The dems are now the pubs and the pubs are just crazy. I don’t know about you guys but I am finding a third party to vote for. Enough of this living example of a South Park episode.

  93. shiloh says:

    Barted ~ I am not going to post here anymore on abortion. It only upsets everyone involved.

    Bart, you have never upset me, only amused. So the next time an abortion thread is started it will be Bart free! and “we” can only be grateful lol

    Bart, feel free to bug out on other controversial political subjects as well 😛

    solo estoy diciendo

  94. NotImpressed says:

    Best political joke I’ve heard in a while (except for the entire Republican party. They’re a political joke if ever there was one.)

    So, this Illinois Democrat died the other day. His last wish was to be buried in a Chicago cemetery, so he could remain active in the Party.

    I used to live in Chicago. I’m a devout Democrat. That joke is only funny because it’s true 🙂

  95. mclever says:

    @NotImpressed

    I wish it would be as simple as requiring people to adopt the children that they force women to carry to term. If we could make men become surrogates for the unwanted fetus, make them carry it for several months and suffer through childbirth, then maybe. A pregnancy has affects on a woman’s life long before the child is born, and a woman should have a choice about whether or not she wants to put her body through all of that.

  96. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    mclever,

    Shouldn’t a woman consider that BEFORE making the decision to have unprotected sex during her fertile portion of her cycle? Once she makes THAT decision, then, as it took two to tango so to speak, should not a decision to abort then become as mutual as the decision to HAVE sex? Did she not give up the right to sole choice as that fetus is now the product of TWO people in a mutual decision?

  97. dcpetterson says:

    @mclever
    If we could make men become surrogates for the unwanted fetus, make them carry it for several months and suffer through childbirth, then maybe.

    Being a man, I feel a need to respond. In point of fact, the polls I’ve seen (which may be out of date — feel free to correct me) show roughly the same percentage of men and women both supportive of the right to choice. Roughly the same percentage of women and men are opposed to abortion rights.

    To my mind, this should not be billed as a “women’s issue.” It should be a human rights issue. If right-wing religious nuts can infringe on the rights of one segment of our citizens, they can curtail the rights of anyone.

    This is about allowing a particular religious dogma to dominate our social policy. I oppose that. So should every thinking citizen. I am opposed to religious tyranny, even if I am not the victim of it.

    By presenting this as an issue of men against women, half of the likely supporters of the right to choice are unreasonably placed on the wrong side of the issue. It’s not about men versus women. It’s about freedom versus tyranny. It’s about the Constitution versus religious dictatorship. It’s about religious dogma versus rationality.

    I’m not opposed to religion. I’m opposed to religion being enshrined in law, in contradiction to the Constitution. And so should be we all.

  98. NotImpressed says:

    mclever, “I wish it would be as simple as requiring people to adopt the children that they force women to carry to term.”

    I wish it was that simple, too. People who claim to be concerned about money should put their money where their mouth is. Republicans depict everything in terms of money. Except when they want to control other people’s private acts. Screw that. Make it hit Republicans where they feel pain. In their pocketbooks. Require them to pay for their obscene attempts to deny me my rights.

  99. mclever says:

    @dcpetterson

    I apologize if you thought I was trying to cast this as a “man vs. woman” case. Chalk it up to poor wording on my part.

    My point was that even if we had a perfect solution for what to do with every unwanted child after it was born, there would still be the very real issue of forcing someone else to carry a child to term against their will. (Following the vein of the forced adoption hypothetical, we might be able to require female anti-abortionists to carry others’ children via transplantation, but the men would still get off easy.)

    I didn’t want the months of pregnancy to be overlooked or treated as if they had no impact. Not every woman is physically, mentally, or emotionally capable of carrying a child all the way to term, and it misses that point if we pretend like the only problem with an unwanted, problematic, or difficult pregnancy is what happens after the child is born.

  100. mclever says:

    @NotImpressed

    Let’s see, the average cost of raising a child to 18 is what, $150K or thereabouts? So, everyone who opposes abortion should be required every year to contribute $150K to a pregnant woman who is denied the right to abortion, plus any medical costs or opportunity costs (employment/education) that are incurred in the process of carrying the child to term. Probably close to $200K or $250K by the time it’s done, and that assumes there were no significant complications.

    You’re right. Those who want to take someone’s rights away should have to pay for that privilege.

    (Yes, this is tongue in cheek. No, I am not proposing this as a serious policy proposal. But I do think the real dollars involved are illustrative to those who think they should be able force their views on someone else.)

  101. Mr. Universe says:

    If men had to carry pregnancies this wouldn’t even be a topic of discussion. Sad, huh?

  102. mclever says:

    Max,

    I’ll admit that I don’t have a good answer to that question. It’s possible to be responsible about birth control and still fall in that 0,01% chance that gets you pregnant. It’s also possible to be stupid and irresponsible and get pregnant, too. I don’t like abortion. I wish there was a way to ensure that only those who were ready and eager to be good parents would get pregnant with perfect, healthy babies. But the world isn’t perfect. And I don’t feel that it’s my right to impose upon another person the requirement that one moment of stupidity, one lapse in judgment in a non-criminal act, result in a lifetime sentence to something they don’t want. Unless you want to criminalize all unprotected sex where a child is not the desired outcome?

    And, while I appreciate the desire to give the father input, it is an undeniable fact that the vast majority of the burden of pregnancy and childbirth falls on the mother. The costs in education and career earnings also fall disproportionately on the mother, even if she takes the bare minimum of time off during her pregnancy, and that assumes that her chosen career path isn’t adversely impacted by physical limitations during the later part of her pregnancy or any complications that may result.

    So, the decision to go through all of that falls primarily on the woman’s shoulders. It’s *her* life that’s going to be the most dramatically impacted.

  103. mclever says:

    @Mr. U: Sadly true…

  104. Monotreme says:

    Well done, all. I am tempted to speculate on why we’re suddenly able to discuss things like adults, but I’ll just say I think mclever got us back on track.

    Max asks:

    What is the current “record” low, post-conception “delivery” age for a premature fetus/baby that survived with no congenital defects primarily due to the early “delivery”?

    It’s hard to find this data because of a small database (i.e. small N) but the answer seems to be somewhere in the 23 week range, a limit that has not moved very much in the last few years. I suspect that we could set the midpoint of normal gestation (40 weeks / 2 = 20 weeks) as a technical, immutable limit for the foreseeable future and be pretty close to right.

    I have to admit, I like the original SCOTUS formulation (now abandoned), maybe with some tweaking of dates. That is, as mclever suggests, a range in which you can abort a fetus, no questions asked; a period in which you need some sort of compelling reason; and a period where it must be a clear choice between the baby’s life and the mother’s. Given the available data on viability and fetal pain, if I were King of the Known Universe, I would start the last period (call it a “self-defense” period) at 20 weeks, but that’s the sort of thing I had hoped to discuss.

    http://www.bmj.com/content/314/7074/0.4.full

  105. Number Seven says:

    Never before have I seen so many words spent on so little change.

    Sorry for the snark but think about this:

    If the Public Cons really were able to make ALL abortions illeagal, what then would they campaign on? That is why they did not make abortions illeagal when they had their chance.

    This is like the same mcguffins that the Demo Cant’s run on. (Gun control, health care, etc.) If the Demo Cant’s actually made reasonable gun control and a single payer system for all, what would they run on?

    Neither party wants to solve the problems they proclaim they want to solve. If they solved these problems, what then would they run on?

    Frank Herbert had some great quotes on the issue of goverments and religion, but then, you would have to take the time to read Dune to understand them, and who has time anymore to actually read a 400 page book.

    Folks, we have one solution and one only. Take to the streets. I know, it sucks, to get up off our asses and actually express our anger. And to risk getting gassed or worse for it.

    Voting is a usless way to change things. Just watch the episode of ‘The Prisoner’ named ‘Free For All’.

    Six of one and a half dozen of the other….

    Be Seeing You 😉

  106. mclever says:

    Now, hasn’t this been fun! An on-topic, engaging conversation with differing opinions and no name calling.

    Amazing!

    😉

  107. Max,

    Shouldn’t a woman consider that BEFORE making the decision to have unprotected sex during her fertile portion of her cycle?

    This question presumes:
    1) That the sex was unprotected
    2) That the woman actually made the decision

    I’m aware of many pregnancies for which at least one of those two presumptions were false.

  108. mclever says:

    @Number Seven

    There may be some resistance to solving the problems, but much of that is an inherent conservatism within our multi-tiered constitutional system rather than a nefarious refusal to work on the problems that candidates say they want to work on.

    Oh, and I’ve read all of Frank Herbert’s Dune books, plus a few by Brian. Science fiction is fun, because it has the advantage of projecting the author’s ideals without the constraints of reality. Makes for fun reading, even if each book is 400+ pages…

    🙂

  109. #7,
    I can’t speak for any politicians in particular, but I, for one, would gladly welcome a whole new set of issues to fix, if it meant that we were able to solve the exising ones to get there. And I have little doubt that if all of these current issues were addressed, a whole new set would show up to take its place.

    Did abolition of slavery eliminate a political party? Did the fall of the Soviet Union? Or women’s suffrage? We just move on.

  110. Oh, DC, I just noticed this:

    This is about allowing a particular religious dogma to dominate our social policy.

    I think you’re mistaken here. I know of plenty of people who are opposed to abortion being legal, and who are not religious at all. If one starts with the belief that life begins at or around the time of conception, then it’s hardly a stretch to extend that to a belief that abortion is murder.

    One does not need to be a religious fundamentalist to believe that live begins at or around the time of conception.

    Many of the other arguments in favor of legal abortions have to do with practical concerns about risks to various lives. But we are, as a society, unwilling to apply those same practical arguments to those who are already born.

    One does not need to be a religious fundamentalist to recognize the hypocricy in those practical arguments.

    I’m not saying that I share any or all of the above opinions. Rather, I’m saying that placing those who do in the hyperreligious box is both facile and condescending. Having a meaningful dialog on this topic requires an ability to truly empathize with all involved parties. Reductionism doesn’t help anyone.

  111. Number Seven says:

    Mclever, you rock.

    I have Franks, and his son Brians autograph on a second edition hardcover of ‘Children of Dune’, lol., Yes I am bragging, lol.

    IMHO, I think you are wrong about what our government has become. They could easily solve many of our current problems if they were not such whores to the corporations who fund them.

    Like I mentioned, if they (both parties) solved the problems they have had so much time to solve, they would have to make up more problems to solve.

    Speaking of Dune, the Harkonnen vs Atreides. At one point, the Harkonnens were the heros and the Atreides the traitors….

    A few thousand years passes and the roles are reversed….

    That was why it took a being who lived three thousand years (Leto II) to create such a cruel universe that they finally realized who was their real enemy… (Omnius)

  112. Number Seven says:

    Excellent points Michael, and thus brings me back to the point Frank Herbert made in a quote I can’t quite recall…

    Governments were created to pretend to solve problems they created….

    It was probably the Bene Gesirit who said this, it certainly wasn’t CHOAM….

  113. Mr. Universe says:

    I wish there was a way to ensure that only those who were ready and eager to be good parents would get pregnant with perfect, healthy babies. But the world isn’t perfect

    Nature doesn’t really care what we desire. It only cares that we successfully make copies of ourselves. Once that’s accomplished, the rest is well…up to us.

  114. shiloh says:

    #7 ~ If the Public Cons really were able to make ALL abortions illeagal, what then would they campaign on?

    Again, wingers don’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade because it’s a cash cow for Reps ie fund raising and have been taking evangelicals for a ride for quite some time on this issue. Your basic teabagger dog and pony show.

    >

    Re: Now, hasn’t this been fun! An on-topic, engaging conversation with differing opinions and no name calling.

    Amazing!

    Again ~ Barted ~ I am not going to post here anymore on abortion. It only upsets everyone involved. Soooo, you had a discussion minus Bartles 😛

    solo estoy diciendo

    Amazing indeed as once again an abortion discussion has solved the abortion issue/problem …

    take care

  115. Bartbuster says:

    Now, hasn’t this been fun! An on-topic, engaging conversation with differing opinions and no name calling.

    Amazing!

    Not amazing at all, actually. I can even point to the exact moment when civility was given a chance.

  116. shortchain says:

    Michael,

    I have met very few opponents of access to abortion who are not religious. Not only religious, but either Catholic or fundamentalist in their religion.

    Do we have any statistics on this?

  117. dcpetterson says:

    If we’re talking science fiction, is this a good time to plug my novel? (No mention of abortion in the book, so it’s off-topic…)

  118. mclever says:

    Do you have a new one, dcpetterson?

  119. dcpetterson says:

    mclever, still just Still Life, though the sequel is in the works.

  120. mclever says:

    dc, lemme just say that writing a good story is hard work…

    🙂

    I eagerly await your next installment!

  121. Pingback: Roe v. Wade Saves Lives and Liberties of Women. « Beneath the Tin Foil Hat

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