Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Pro-abortion poster

Posted in abortion by Kathy on May 19, 2008

I just saw a picture of a woman (presumably in the UK, since that’s what the blog post was about) holding a poster reading, “Every child a wanted child; every mother a willing mother.” My first thought,

She certainly was “willing” when she had sex!

Take some responsibility, people, before you make a baby, and then you’ll have to take a lot less responsibility afterwards.

(Oh, and just to make it clear, I’m not saying that rape victims are willing. But since only .3% of all abortions are done in the event of a rape [according to Planned Parenthood’s Guttmacher Institute, which would hardly pretend the number is lower than it really is], I’m talking to the 99.7% of women who get abortions for reasons other than rape.)

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32 Responses

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  1. edinburghlook said, on May 20, 2008 at 7:58 am

    I’m not a believer in requiring heterosexuals to restrict their love-life to occasions when they intend to conceive a baby. You, I take it, believe otherwise, and that’s your right: but not to impose your restrictions on when you’re prepared to permit yourself to have sex on others.

    Contraception fails. Men are idiots about not wanting to use condoms. Sure, if both partners in hetero intercourse always used barrier contraception, each time, every time, it would reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and therefore abortions, enormously. But, if a woman gets pregnant but doesn’t want to have a baby, her responsible choice is to have an abortion.

    For the vast majority of people, deciding to have sex is not the equivalent of deciding to have a baby.

  2. Kathy said, on May 20, 2008 at 11:33 am

    No, actually, I don’t require people to restrict their sexual activity to intentional conception — though I know there are some who do.

    However, your comment is exactly proving my point — contraception fails (which is how I got my husband and I got our first child); some couples don’t want to use contraception even when they know they can conceive. But it is irresponsible of them to have sex in those times. Since 99.7% of all abortions are due to babies being conceived through consensual sex, I say those people were being irresponsible, but they’re making the innocent baby pay the price.

    I’m not saying that deciding to have sex is not the equivalent of deciding to have a baby. I *am* saying that deciding to have sex is deciding to participate in the activity that may make a baby. And the people involved ought to take responsibility beforehand.

    To me, it’s like a person getting drunk and getting behind the wheel of the car, and then saying, “But I didn’t *intend* to have a wreck and kill that person.” Well, duh, nobody *intends* to commit vehicular homicide; but that person is dead just the same, and the drunk driver is just as much at fault. Just the same, a couple who are not infertile who have sex are engaging in an act which possibly may create a child. If they refuse to use contraception, then they ought to take responsibility for their actions, and raise the child, not murder it in the womb.

    Contraception fails — yes! I myself am a baby that was conceived despite contraception. As was my next-older sister. My oldest sister and my brother were not planned pregnancies, but my parents did not use contraception. After 4 kids in 6 years, my mom got her tubes tied, because she realized they were just plain *fertile*. Yeah, it was hard for her to have and raise us. But it was the responsible thing to do.

    Look, if you drive drunk, you gotta accept the possibility that you may get in a wreck and kill somebody. If you have sex, you gotta accept the possibility that you may conceive a baby. If you don’t want to accept that responsibility, then DON’T FREAKIN’ HAVE SEX! If you do have sex, then FREAKIN’ ACCEPT THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTIONS. That’s responsibility — not abortion.

    Fwiw, my husband and I are actively trying NOT to conceive. My younger son is 2 years old, and so far, so good. But if we were to conceive despite our precautions, it would never enter my mind to have an abortion. Do I want to have a baby? No. Do I want to have sex? Yes. Are we doing what we can not to conceive? Yes. Might it fail? Yes. And in that case, abortion would not be “the responsible choice.” Because by the time the baby is made, the choice (responsible or irresponsible) has been made; and the only thing to do is to accept responsibility for your actions and raise the baby or give it up for adoption.

    Have you never heard the saying, “You made your bed, now lie in it”?

  3. enjoybirth said, on May 21, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Driving home from school on Monday my 7 year old said, “Some kids were talking about pregnant moms who kill their babies while they are in their stomach.”

    So then I have a discussion about abortion with my 7 and 10 year old. They first off, didn’t even believe it. Then when they did believe it, they said, “It must be against the law.” Then I had to say, “no, it is legal” “But mom, that is murder!”

    Straight from the mouth of a 10 year old child. It doesn’t get any clearer than this.

    I talked to them about free agency and how maybe the women are scared. But I agreed, it is very, very sad. My 7 yo said, “That baby is even more scared and sad.”

    Really not a discussion I wanted to have with them at this age.

  4. edinburghlook said, on May 21, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    I *am* saying that deciding to have sex is deciding to participate in the activity that may make a baby.

    No, it’s not. The activity that may make a baby is pregnancy – 9 months of it. Fertilising an egg isn’t “making a baby”: a fertilised egg is not a baby. Neither is a fetus a baby, not even a fetus sufficiently developed to potentially survive if prematurally born – which doesn’t apply to pre-24 week fetuses, as we’ve just had laboriously demonstrated to Parliament.

    A woman who decides she doesn’t want to “make a baby” can and should make the responsible choice of terminating her pregnancy as early as possible.

    Have you never heard the saying, “You made your bed, now lie in it”?

    Yes: do you see how it applies to a hypothetical woman who decides to have a baby she does not want and does not intend to care for? To decide to abandon a baby to the care of strangers is hardly responsible: adoption is a solution for children who cannot be cared for by their biological mothers, not a reason to create children who will be abandoned at birth, as you advocate.

    enjoybirth: Really not a discussion I wanted to have with them at this age.

    Not a good idea to lie to children at any age, actually. Certainly not a good idea to lie to children that mothers “kill their babies in the womb”: you should really have explained the plain facts to them, rather than scaring and disgusting them with anti-choice propaganda. It’s a horrible thing to deliberately do to your children, and your faux-regrets over doing it are more than slightly sickening.

  5. Kathy said, on May 22, 2008 at 12:49 am

    No, Edinburgh, what is “more than slightly sickening” is this. What is “a horrible thing to deliberately do to your children” is to kill them in the womb.

    You say that it takes 9 months of pregnancy to make a baby? What about the babies that are born (and survive) at 24 weeks, 23 weeks, 22 weeks, and even at 21 weeks? Are these just “post-born fetuses” since they didn’t have “9 months of pregnancy,” or are they babies?.

    You say that sex doesn’t make a baby? What’s inside a woman? — a cat?? No, it’s a genetically unique, living human being.

    I suppose when you talk about “creating children who will be abandoned at birth,” you really meant to say, “abandoning a child at the moment of its creation” — since you say that it is only at birth that a child is created.

    I do not pretend that giving a baby up for adoption is easy. If a woman truly does not intend to care for her child, though, she should give it up for adoption, rather than killing it (before or after it is born, by outright murder or through starvation or neglect). However, if a mother “does not intend to care for” her child, then it is as if she cannot care for him or her — she is lacking in empathy if nothing else.

    And to decide to give a baby a chance at a life, and to give a baby a home, and to give a baby to (yes) strangers, but strangers who will love and care for that child to the best of their ability, and second only to the biological mother, is not abandoning the child at birth, nor is it irresponsible. What you advocate would be to have killed two of my cousins, my sister-in-law, and the children of several of my friends. All of whom are adopted; none of whom regret being born. As a woman who knows several couples who have not been able to have their own children, it disgusts me that you so cavalierly speak of murdering their adoptive babies before they had a chance to be born.

    It is best is women only conceive babies that they will be able to raise; but to have an abortion is not “second-best” — it’s worst!

  6. edinburghlook said, on May 22, 2008 at 11:47 am

    No, Edinburgh, what is “more than slightly sickening” is this.

    I refer you to Over Their Dead Bodies: Denial of Access to Emergency Obstetric Care and Therapeutic Abortion in Nicaragua where a ban on abortion has already led to many deaths. I refer you also to The public health consequences of restricted induced abortion – lessons from Romania which discusses how access to safe legal abortion reduces maternal mortality and morbidity. I refer you also to a blog post discussing the Forensic Vagina Inspectors of El Salvador, which has a similar law to Nicaragua. Women dying when a simple operation could save them are as sickening to me as dead fetuses are to you: and FWIW, when a pregnant woman dies, her fetus dies too, though admittedly, inside the pregnant woman, where you won’t have to look at it or think about it.

    What is “a horrible thing to deliberately do to your children” is to kill them in the womb.

    Would be if it ever happened, but by simple biology, it can’t. A child isn’t a fetus. We are not discussing “killing children” but, if you insist, “killing fetuses” (though early abortions, of course, do not kill the fetus: merely remove it from the uterus. Of course without the woman providing her bodily resources to keep the fetus alive and growing to become a baby, the fetus dies… but as it doesn’t then have a cerebral cortex (which develops only in the 2nd trimester, well after most abortions take place) it never could know it was alive.

    You say that sex doesn’t make a baby? What’s inside a woman? — a cat??

    A fetus. Didn’t you know?

    No, it’s a genetically unique, living human being.

    No: it’s a fertilised egg which may become a baby, if the pregnant woman chooses to invest her time, her health, her effort, and her bodily resources, into making that fertilised egg into a human being.

    I suppose when you talk about “creating children who will be abandoned at birth,” you really meant to say, “abandoning a child at the moment of its creation” — since you say that it is only at birth that a child is created.

    No, I didn’t say that. Pregnancy takes nine months, and birth doesn’t take “a moment”. A baby is created by nine months of hard labour on the part of a pregnant woman.

    When I talk about “creating children who will be abandoned at birth” I did, actually and literally, mean what I said: it’s thoroughly irresponsible of a woman who knows she doesn’t want to have a baby to have one anyway and turn him or her over to strangers. Fortunately, this isn’t common: but it’s also thoroughly irresponsible to advocate this.

    What you advocate would be to have killed two of my cousins, my sister-in-law, and the children of several of my friends. All of whom are adopted; none of whom regret being born.

    How many of them are now in touch with the biological mother who abandoned them at birth? How many of them regard their biological mother as their real mother, who laboured to make them and to give birth to them? Have any of them discussed with you how they feel about knowing that the woman who gave birth to them abandoned them in infancy?

    I don’t know a single woman who had to give up her child to adoption who didn’t regret it for the rest of her life – even when, in adulthood, the grown child got back in touch with her. Losing a baby you spent nine months making and giving birth to is so traumatic, so awful a thing, that to advocate it – rather than the woman simply having an abortion – is just wrong.

    I don’t regret being born either; who does? Nor does a woman I know who was conceived a couple of months after her mother aborted a fetus with Downs Syndrome. Do you think she ought to regret her own existence?

    but to have an abortion is not “second-best” — it’s worst!

    “Worst”, huh? So it’s better for pregnant women to die with the fetus inside them?

  7. enjoybirth said, on May 23, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    I just have to say, I am not the one who said moms kill the babies in their tummy, the other children at school said that.

    I must say that I personally would never have an abortion and at the same time I feel that it is not my position to make a choice for someone else, but feel very sad for women who feel so scared of having a baby, that they choose an abortion. So I can’t say if I am pro-choice or pro-life, I don’t really fit in either camp. I think abortion is sad and wrong, but I feel women have the free agency to make this choice.

    So, this was a tough talk to have with my boys, because I don’t know what the ‘right’ answer is.

    I had to address the issue. I talk openly with my boys about how babies are made, birth, breastfeeding, etc as I am a childbirth educator. So I said something along the lines of, “Sometimes when a woman gets pregnant, she is scared to have a baby, so she will get a surgery to remove the baby from her.”

    My innocent children who have no political affiliations are the ones who ON THEIR OWN were shocked and called it murder. I agreed it was a very sad choice, but I did not judge the mothers or the act, rather again, explained that these moms were scared.

    As a childbirth educator I encourage moms not to make decisions about birth based on fear, I would make the same encouragement to pregnant moms who are afraid to have an unplanned baby. Is fear motivating their choices?

  8. Kathy said, on May 24, 2008 at 3:36 am

    I did not refer to women who would die without an abortion — those I would obviously exempt because in this case, an abortion would spare the life of one, when the lack of an abortion would take the life of two.

    As far as the reduction of maternal mortality goes, saying abortion (other than to save the life of the mother) has a large effect on it is post-hoc fallacy. As a natural-birth proponent who has had two home births herself, I am well versed in maternal mortality in the US. It may surprise you to know that the Maternal Mortality Rate was high in 1915 — 607.9/100,000 (the first year I have been able to find statistics — p.14), but it went higher as hospital birth became the norm — poorly trained doctors taking the place of proficient but unlicensed midwives, high rates of infection because of a large number of people (and therefore a large number of germs) at the hospital attending the birth, and other unnatural birth practices (such as cutting generous episiotomies and pulling the babies out with forceps) also contributed to this.

    The MMR peaked in 1918 at 916.4; the following 2 years it was in the 700s, then stayed in the 600s until 1934. Since blood typing was non-existent at the time, a woman could easily bleed to death while doctors were helpless. Since antibiotics were unknown, a woman could become infected with a simple infection and die while doctors were helpless. Once these practices became widespread, two major causes of maternal mortality slowly were eliminated, as more hospitals acquired the necessary techniques and technology. It stayed in the 500s for 3 years, then in the 400s for 3 years, then dropped to the 200s for 4 years. The year after WWII ended, it got to the 100s for the first time since statistics were kept. And abortion had nothing to do with this. From 1949-1972, the MMR dropped from 90.3 to 18.8 — the biggest drops happened the earliest — some years saw drops anywhere from 3-7 points — before any state liberalized abortion rules, so these large drops cannot be considered in any way due to “safe, legal abortions.” The MMR continued to fall, but more slowly; and it fluctuated around 7-8/100,000 from 1981-1998, with the lowest being 6.6 in 1987. As of 2003, it went back up into double digits for the first time since 1977, and is climbing.

    While I think that current birth practices use too many interventions, the judicious use of interventions (C-sections and medications) saves women’s lives, and directly contributes to the lowering of the maternal mortality rate — without abortion. Past a certain point (which I believe we’ve reached, as is evidenced by the increasing MMR), interventions cause more problems than they cure. I say all that to show that there are many reasons for a woman to die due to pregnancy-related causes — including abortion itself. To compare 3rd-world countries with a high MMR and no legal abortion to the United States or any other Western country, with modern health care and modern medicines is a straw man. Electricity and modern plumbing, not to mention sterilized instruments, disposable instruments, and modern medicine are all major factors in our current low maternal mortality — factors which do not necessarily apply to Nicaragua, Romania, and El Salvador.

    “Fetus” is merely a preborn baby. But it is still a baby.

    You said, “though early abortions, of course, do not kill the fetus: merely remove it from the uterus.” Um, yeah, and if I held your head underwater, it wouldn’t kill you; it would simply remove you from an oxygenated environment. It’s the lack of oxygen that kills you; it’s not murder. Give me a break! And what of partial-birth abortions? Abortions in which the baby is killed before he or she is suctioned out of the uterus? Abortions in which the baby cannot fit in one piece into the vacuum, so is suctioned out in pieces? What of abortions in which the baby is killed before the abortion procedure takes place to ensure that he or she is not accidentally born alive? What of the babies that are born alive, and left to die or are intentionally murdered *after* they are no longer fetuses?

    Oh, yeah, when I was looking for the above link, I came across this story, too. When abortions are done for causes of incest, how many of the victims are removed from their attackers? That’s the question for the people who insist on “incest” being a “good reason” for abortions. Most often, the females are not complicit in the sexual act, but how many times are they given an abortion, and returned with their attacker, who was their father, who brought them to the abortion clinic in the first place, to cover up his continued crime against his daughter?

    But, actually, birth does take “a moment.” It’s called the time of birth. For my first son, it was 5:03 a.m., which was when the last of his body exited my body, and was several minutes after the crown of his head was first visible from my vagina, and even a few minutes from the time his head was out until his body was out. It’s why partial-birth abortion is legal in some places — because the baby is considered a fetus until its “complete expulsion or extraction” from the mother. Oh, yes, birth takes time; pregnancy takes time. It takes time to grow a baby to maturity; but a premature baby is still a baby. Or does a premature baby remain a fetus until his or her due date, even though it was born at 23 weeks?

    And here’s another question — if a baby can’t feel pain until the 3rd trimester, why is it that they are handled so carefully? Not even their moms are allowed to hold them, sometimes — although “kangaroo care” has been shown to have wonderful benefits to these smallest of babies.

    “Creation” takes a moment; “growing” takes 9 months.

    As far as the people I mentioned above who are adopted — none of them are in contact with their biological mothers. However, most of them are still children. But I asked my SIL one time, and she said she had no desire to meet her birth mother. The older of the two cousins I mentioned is now 20, and she does not yet want to meet her birth mother. The others are still children, including one that is just a few weeks younger than my younger son, and whom I pumped breastmilk for, because his adoptive mother wanted to have the best start for him, and couldn’t nurse him herself.

    Adoption may be a regrettable choice to the mothers who did it. As a mother, I don’t shrink from saying that giving up a baby would be a tremendously difficult thing to do. But I have read enough women who have regretted their abortions — some of whom committing suicide. So much for “simply having an abortion.”

    And, fwiw, I know of several people who owe their existence to tragic accidental deaths — one being my friend’s youngest brother, who was conceived after his brother died at 3 weeks of age from a congenital heart defect; another one being the youngest of 12, who was conceived after the death of the 11th child, who also tragically died of congenital causes in the first few days of life. Tragic deaths are one thing; intentional deaths are quite another.

    Also in my research, I came across this quote (page 47) from former Planned Parenthood Director Dr. Alan Guttmacher, “Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukaemia, and if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save her life.” This was in 1967, when the MMR was more than double what it is today. Yet we have one of the strongest abortion proponents saying that abortion doesn’t save women’s lives. I wonder he didn’t include ectopic pregnancies in this.

  9. edinburghlook said, on May 24, 2008 at 11:02 am

    enjoybirth, I apologize for “drive-by parenting” comments and thank you for clarifying how it happened.

    I appreciate what a difficult job parenting is, and how hard it can be to handle unexpected questions from small children. (I don’t have children of my own: I have in the past worked as a childminder, and I have several nieces/nephews.) The last thing you need is a total stranger telling you “hey, you got it wrong!”

    It’s just that your answer, talking about women being “frightened”, and “surgery to remove the baby”, didn’t actually provide your children with the facts they needed to understand why women have late-term abortions, nor, it appeared, did it reassure them at all.

    It might have been clearer for them to understand if you’d told them the truth: that sometimes in late pregnancy things can go awfully wrong, and a woman will need to end the pregnancy too early for the fetus to survive birth. It would also, I think, probably have helped if you’d explained to them that this isn’t a baby but a fetus, and and a fetus can’t actually be scared or hurt: even after the cerebral cortex develops, the low oxygen levels mean the fetus is unconscious – effectively, asleep till birth.

    I’m offering this genuinely because I think it might help your children, and you – I do think it’s difficult when children suddenly up and brace you with these kind of questions based on their misunderstanding of what they heard on the news, but it doesn’t sound like your answer helped them much.

  10. edinburghlook said, on May 24, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Kathy: I did not refer to women who would die without an abortion — those I would obviously exempt because in this case, an abortion would spare the life of one, when the lack of an abortion would take the life of two.

    So abortions for a woman’s health are OK? Because if a doctor has to refrain from providing a necessary abortion until the moment the woman will die without one, it’s probably going to be too late to save her life, and she may well suffer permanent damage to her health.

    Also, of course, there are instances where the woman’s life is not at risk but there’s a clear risk to her long-term health: Alicja Tysiac, mother of two, was denied an abortion even though it was clear having a third pregnancy could permanently damage her eyesight: she is now virtually blind and unable to work. You feel it’s better for her to be blind and struggling to care for three children than to have her sight and be able to work and care for two?

    To compare 3rd-world countries with a high MMR and no legal abortion to the United States or any other Western country, with modern health care and modern medicines is a straw man.

    Abortion was illegal for decades in Romania, which had far higher maternal mortality and morbidity rates than neighboring countries with equivalent standards of health care/modern medicine. When, after the fall of Ceausescu, abortion was legalized, maternal mortality/morbidity rates fell rapidly, and soon became equivalent to other Eastern European countries. When you think about it, it’s obvious why this is so: in countries where women have the right to decide how many children to have, are in legal control of their own body at all times during pregnancy, women and doctors get to make decisions with the pregnant woman’s health foremost – and after all, the only way of producing a healthy baby is via a healthy pregnant woman!

    Whereas in countries where doctors are legally bound not to provide full medical advice about pregnancy, nor to provide full health care for a woman, but are instead required to force a woman through pregnancy even if there’s a serious risk that may kill her and a certainty that this will permanently damage her health – well, not only will women risk death/damage in unsafe/illegal abortions to get rid of unwanted pregnancies, but women who have wanted pregnancies will be at a higher risk of death or damage too.

    Advances in medicine are not the solution. Good health care in pregnancy means taking care of pregnant women and children – and a necessary part of that is respecting a pregnant woman’s right to make decisions about her own life and her own body. (I think enjoybirth and I are not far off agreeing: we might disagree over whether or not women should make some choices, or be unhappy about the choices made, but we are in agreement that it’s the pregnant woman, with the advice of her doctor, who has to make the decision.)

    But I have read enough women who have regretted their abortions — some of whom committing suicide. So much for “simply having an abortion.”

    About 200000 women each year have an abortion in the UK. About 1375 women each year commit suicide. Women aged 15-44 – the years in which women are most likely to have abortions – have had the lowest suicide rates throughout 1991-2006. (from National Statistics Online).

    It is tragic and awful when people commit suicide. A friends’ friend – that is, I knew several people who knew her well – killed herself a few years ago, so I do speak from some experience: it is the worst thing that a person can do to their friends. It is clear, however, from the bare statistics, that the vast majorityt women who have abortions do not commit suicide: and it’s certainly not showing up as a correlation that women who kill themselves in the 15-44 age group do so because they have had an abortion. Suicide is a mental health problem: abortion does not cause mental health problems, though women with mental health problems may well fasten them on an abortion, especially if they have been taught that they should.

    And here’s another question — if a baby can’t feel pain until the 3rd trimester, why is it that they are handled so carefully?

    I think you’ve got slightly confused here. A baby can feel pain: by the time a fetus is sufficiently developed to survive birth, the cerebral cortex has developed – we’re assuming normal development, and not a fetus that will be born with no brain and die shortly after birth. But until birth, a fetus is unconscious – in fact, never-conscious. As I noted to enjoybirth, the low oxygen levels in the fetal brain mean that you can’t talk of a fetus being “scared” or “hurt”: the capacity doesn’t exist. A fetus is not a “pre-born baby” any more than a baby is a “post-birth fetus”.

    As far as the people I mentioned above who are adopted — none of them are in contact with their biological mothers. However, most of them are still children. But I asked my SIL one time, and she said she had no desire to meet her birth mother. The older of the two cousins I mentioned is now 20, and she does not yet want to meet her birth mother.

    Understandable. I’m not arguing that adopted children ought to be made to feel they ought to meet their biological mothers. It is an awful thing for a woman to lose her children: it is an awful thing for a child to understand that their mother was compelled by outside forces beyond her control (and probably beyond a child’s understanding) to surrender her children to strangers. Adoption of a child is a last-resort resolution – not a first-resort, making use of women on a low income to produce babies for better-off families to adopt.

  11. Kathy said, on May 26, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Edinburgh,

    Maybe you’ll change your mind about fetal development if you ever grow a baby inside of you, but I can attest that a fetus is not unconscious or effectively “asleep until birth.” Fetuses have periods of wakefulness (when they kick, turn, move, spin, punch kidneys and bladders, etc.) which those who are unconscious do not have. They also have times of sleep. Fetuses startle at loud noises — in fact, one of the tests of fetal well-being is to ring a loud buzzer and see if the fetal heart-rate speeds up. (But if it doesn’t happen, the usual reason is that the baby is asleep and didn’t hear it.) Also, I didn’t get to hear my first baby’s heartbeat until 15 weeks of pregnancy, because he swam away from the waves of the Doppler ultrasound device at 13 weeks. And then it was just a few seconds because he swam away again. As he got bigger, he couldn’t run and hide, but he always kicked at it. Then, when I was in labor and pushing, the two times they used the Doppler, he reacted to it — once it felt like he spun his head all the way around, and once he moved back up my vagina. Hardly unconscious or asleep.

    Also, newborn babies recognize their mothers’ and their fathers’ voices, from hearing them in the womb.

    As far as babies and fetuses feeling pain, you say that the low oxygen levels keep them from feeling pain — yet when they operate on fetuses, they administer anesthesia so that they will not feel pain.

    It was common practice up through the 1980s to assume that newborns and especially prematurely-born babies could not feel pain. I read something that turned my stomach years ago, about how this practice was finally stopped — some parents of a premature baby found out that their child was operated on while he was conscious, having been given drugs only to paralyze him so he couldn’t move, but not drugs to put him out, and (iirc) the baby died from the stress and trauma. They went public, and the practice was stopped — and neonatal deaths went down, obviously because there were a lot of babies who could not survive such trauma and live. But the assumption used to be that even full-term newborns couldn’t feel pain; then it was assumed that premature infants couldn’t feel pain (because of what was known about the fetal brain and nervous system development); now it is known and widely accepted that fetuses at 24 weeks can feel pain, and there is the probability that they can feel pain at 20 weeks, and there is some evidence to suggest that they can feel pain at 11 weeks or even at 7-8 weeks. I refer you to The South Dakota Task Force Report on Abortion, beginning at p. 56.

    Abortion for a woman’s “health” is too broad a category. Would I go so far as to say that a woman must already have a burst fallopian tube before she can have an abortion? — no. If it is obvious that continuing the pregnancy will kill her, then it doesn’t have to get to the point of her life actually being threatened. When a baby implants in the fallopian tube, it cannot survive to the age of viability, so it will die regardless. (Although I did hear of a woman who had twin girls in her uterus and a boy who grew outside her uterus. They were delivered via C-section at 7 months of gestation, and all survived. The boy was technically “ectopic” since he implanted outside of the uterus; however, his placenta attached to the outside of the uterine wall, burrowed through, and had sufficient sustenance, which cannot occur in a tubal pregnancy.) However, I have heard of a lot of pretty flimsy “health reasons” for an abortion that are not reasons at all, but merely excuses.

    The way I look at the questions of severe problems with maternal health you posed above is the following: If someone told me I had to choose between the live of one of my children and my sight, I’d choose to let my child live. I know you don’t understand that, because you think there is a vast gulf between a fetus and a baby, but it’s really just a matter of time and placement. A fetus is a pre-born baby who resides in its mother’s womb; a baby is a post-born fetus who resides in its mother’s arms. The only difference is one is visible and the other is hidden; one draws total sustenance through the umbilical cord, the other draws total sustenance from the mother’s breasts. You said above “a fetus is not a pre-born baby any more than a baby is a post-birth fetus.” I argue the exact opposite. They are the same organism, the same creature, the same genetics, the same life. “Fetus” is just the designation of the time-line of this human organism, that starts at conception, and goes through various stages: zygote, embryo, fetus, newborn, infant, toddler, pre-schooler, etc. But it’s all the same creature. If a fetus is not a pre-born baby, then what is it?

    But back to the “health” question. In the above examples, I do sympathize with the women who had to make such a choice. I know it can’t have been easy — either way they chose. However, if I knew that pregnancy could incapacitate me, I’d get my tubes tied, so I wouldn’t have to worry about “what if I got pregnant.”

    As far as Romania and maternal mortality, what is obvious to me is that abortions killed a lot of women. You do realize that “maternal mortality” is counted as the death of a woman due to pregnancy or birth within a specified amount of time (some countries have it at 6 weeks, others extend the time up to 1 year) — whether the pregnancy ended with a live birth, stillbirth, miscarriage, or induced abortion. These women didn’t die in childbirth — they died at the hands of abortionists. (Here’s a link to a powerpoint file. While it seems to be promoting legalizing abortion, it included a graph of maternal mortality, divided into deaths due to obstetric causes and deaths due to abortion-related causes. The obstetric-caused maternal deaths fluctuated but were fairly constant all throughout the graph.) According to the World Health Organization, from 1998-2002, almost half of the women who died from “maternal mortality” died because of abortions. And they’re legal now up until the 14th week, which is statistically the safest time for the mother to undergo an abortion.

    I agree with you that healthy women are required to produce healthy babies; what I disagree on, however, is that it takes abortion to make women healthy.

    The reality is that when an obstetrician undertakes the care of a pregnant woman, he is caring for two lives. He will not prescribe a drug that knowingly will harm the baby, unless the mother’s health is so bad that her ill health is adversely affecting the baby’s health worse than the potential effects of the medication that may cure her. This is, of course, unless the mother wants to kill the baby. (The Task Force Report I linked to above also mentions this odd dichotomy — OBs switching from preserving to taking the fetus’s life.) I submit that the woman has the control of her own body; but when she has an abortion, she is taking control of another person’s body — that of her fetal son or daughter within her.

    Suicide — granted, females are less likely to commit suicide than males. However, this study from Finland shows a correlation between induced abortion and suicide. This study from New Zealand showed that “abortion in young women may be associated with increased risks of mental health problems.”

    I never said nor implied that adoption should be a “first resort, making use of women on a low income to produce babies for better-off families to adopt.” Raising the child herself is the first resort. If she is unable or unwilling to do that, and she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, adoption is second, and abortion is last — dead last. You make it sound like I am supporting baby trafficking — intentionally getting pregnant with the thought of selling the baby. That’s not what I’m doing. What I am saying is that because a fetus is a genetically unique human life, it deserves to be as protected as any other human life.

    You keep bringing up all these exceptions to a “no abortions” rule — exceptions that would probably at most account for only 5% of all abortions done today — yet you seem to be advocating abortion up until the moment of birth. We could go back and forth about the 5% of abortions that would be done to preserve a mother’s life or serious health problem, or those done for rape or incest. What about the other 95%? What about those done for no medical reason whatsoever? What about the thousands of “repeat abortions” — including women who have had more than 4 abortions?

    Does it not bother you that these women are likely being used by men for easy sex, and then leaving them when they get pregnant? That’s the thing that I don’t understand about feminism — they promote sexual promiscuity in the name of “freedom” and then when they get it, they get mad at the men who most willingly accepted their sexual favors. Because in the end, the men were just using the women, when the women thought they were so smart.

  12. edinburghlook said, on May 26, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Maybe you’ll change your mind about fetal development if you ever grow a baby inside of you, but I can attest that a fetus is not unconscious or effectively “asleep until birth.”

    You’ve checked the oxygen levels in the cerebral cortex?

    Fetuses have periods of wakefulness

    No: “activity” would be a better word.

    (when they kick, turn, move, spin, punch kidneys and bladders, etc.) which those who are unconscious do not have.

    Er… yes, they do. People who are mentally unconscious have got up and walked, for heaven’s sake. Low levels of oxygen in the cerebral cortex physically prevent consciousness: they do not prevent physical reaction. A notorious example is Terri Schiavo, who had no cerebral cortex at all, but had some involuntary physical reactions.

    People who are mentally unconcious can react to noises they heard in their sleep: but whether a baby can distinguish the fluid-muffled noises carried to the unconscious fetus, is still under debate. (I suspect not: no one has ever suggested that babies adopted at birth miss their biological mother and her partner to that extent.)

    I never said nor implied that adoption should be a “first resort, making use of women on a low income to produce babies for better-off families to adopt.”

    Good: so you appreciate that if a woman knows she can’t care for a child, she should terminate the pregnancy at once. Knowingly producing an unwanted baby would be wrong.

    You make it sound like I am supporting baby trafficking — intentionally getting pregnant with the thought of selling the baby.

    You are supporting baby trafficking: you are advocating the birth of unwanted babies with the intent that they should be made available for adoption to better-off couples who want children.

    What about those done for no medical reason whatsoever?

    What about them? If a woman gets pregnant and knows she doesn’t want to have a baby, she should have an abortion as soon as possible. Even people who argue that abortion is wrong because the fetus can “feel pain” can’t argue that of an abortion done before 15 weeks.

    What about the thousands of “repeat abortions” — including women who have had more than 4 abortions?

    They need better access to contraception, and better advice about using it. But a woman who gets pregnant and doesn’t want to have a baby, should have an abortion, not a baby.

    Does it not bother you that these women are likely being used by men for easy sex, and then leaving them when they get pregnant?

    Assuming your assessment is correct, how on earth would it help anyone if a woman who had been “used by a man for easy sex” was then used by the government to breed a baby she didn’t want? The spectre of Ceausescu’s Romania is before us: this is what happens when women are forced against their will to breed children they don’t want.

  13. Kathy said, on May 27, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    As far as the oxygen levels in the fetal brain, let me tell you about my sons’ births. Both of them didn’t breathe right away, so they were going on just as much oxygen after birth as they had before birth. For probably at least the first minute or two, they did not take a breath, but were still getting oxygen through the umbilical cord. They were not unconscious — they were looking around, focusing on my eyes and face, etc.

    You may not be aware of research done into fetuses and newborns, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist; and even if there haven’t been studies done, it doesn’t mean that a certain thing isn’t so — simply that it hasn’t been studied. However, I have heard years ago of this research, and my current experiences in pregnancy and childbirth (as a childbirth educator) confirms this. What I said about the baby distinguishing his mother’s voice from all other voices is not merely my opinion.

    Also, if you’ll read the link to the South Dakota Task Force Report I linked to before, you’ll see that on p. 61, they discuss children born with anencephaly (without a cerebral cortex), and how they respond to stimuli just like normal children.

    Besides, even if you’re right (which I highly doubt) unconsciousness is not a good reason for a person’s right to life to be declared null and void.

    When you show that you can read and logically respond to what I have said, then I may continue this discussion with you. I previously defined “baby trafficking” as intentionally becoming pregnant with the idea of selling the baby; this is *not* the same as accidentally becoming pregnant, and then giving the baby up for adoption. I am advocating the birth of babies because they are living human beings who deserve the opportunity to live just as much as you do, not *so that* they can be made available for adoption. Until you can see the difference, we have no more to discuss on this issue.

    I don’t argue that abortion is wrong because the fetus can feel pain (although the Task Force Report says that evidence exists to show that fetuses can possibly feel pain even at 7 weeks); I argue that abortion is wrong because it takes the life of an innocent human being.

  14. edinburghlook said, on May 28, 2008 at 6:33 am

    Kathy, I don’t mean to decry your personal experience – I’m honestly the last person who would say when a new mother is going “Oh look, she’s smiling at me!” with “It’s gas”. So I’ll just ignore that part where you try to make your personal experience override the scientific evidence, okay?

    You’re obviously not aware of the scientific research done into fetuses and newborn babies and baby development: or rather, aware of it or not, you choose not to believe it, because it’s important to you to want to believe that a fetus could be conscious.

    You linked to a pro-life anti-science report earlier: I didn’t get as far as page 61, but I admit that I’m unsurprised they tried to argue that a baby born without a cerebral cortex can “react”.

    . I am advocating the birth of babies because they are living human beings who deserve the opportunity to live just as much as you do, not *so that* they can be made available for adoption.

    So you are advocating that women should be forced through months of pregnancy and childbirth, against their will, because it’s important to you that every fertilized egg shall be given the nourishment and environment required to make that egg into a baby? Regardless of whether the baby will receive the care a baby requires to grow and develop normally?

    I oppose the Romanian orphanages as a human rights disaster on all sorts of levels. You appear to think that they are just fine.

  15. Kathy said, on May 28, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Edinburgh,

    My personal experience is not merely mine alone, but that of a lot of other women, whose birth stories I have heard and read. If you have some scientific evidence you’d like to link to, feel free and I will read it. This topic always intrigues me.

    However, my position against abortion is not because of the state of consciousness (or lack thereof) of the fetus. If abortion is okay because the fetus is unconscious, then any unconscious person is fair game. Recently I had a conversation with a man who said that abortion isn’t wrong because the fetus isn’t “self-aware.” He was thoroughly consistent, however, in that he believed that infanticide up until the age of “self-awareness” (about 18 months) was perfectly fine. I pointed out that this may be the first age at which children can *demonstrate* that they are “self-aware” but that does not follow that it is the first time that they *are* self-aware. Besides, that seems a flimsy excuse for murder.

    As far as the anencephalic infants, since you won’t read it from the link, I will post what was said here, with complete references (from scientific and medical journals, so I’m not quite sure why you say the Report is anti-science):
    “Many behaviors characteristic of newborns are clearly present in children with
    anencephaly36(children born without a developed cerebral cortex).37 Prior to this observation, these behaviors had erroneously been ascribed to cerebral cortex activity[emphasis mine].38 After birth, anencephalic newborns breathe spontaneously, exhibit a grasp response,39 and respond to noxious stimuli known to cause pain by avoidance, withdrawal and crying.40 They also breathe, cough, hiccup, smile, grimace, yawn, and suck. In a recent study of twelve anencephalic infants, all twelve responded to pain, had an exaggerated sustained response to touch, evidenced spontaneous movement, and breathed spontaneously.41 Seven of the twelve responded to a stimulation of their mouth area by turning towards the stimulus and sucking.42 These behaviors are also present in the normal fetus between 6 to 11 weeks gestation. Spontaneous movement in the normal fetus begins between six and seven and one-half weeks gestation.43 Stimulation of the mouth area resulting in a response towards the stimulus is seen at 9 weeks gestation and sucking at 11 weeks.44 The fetus of 6 to 11 weeks gestation is neurologically developed at least equivalent to the twelve anencephalic children described above which are capable of experiencing pain.”

    36The Medical Task Force on Anencephaly, (Stumph, D.A., et al.) “The Infant with Anencephaly” N Eng J
    Med 322 (1990): 669-674.
    37Shewmon, D.A., et als., “The Use of Anencephalic Infants as Organ Sources: A Critique,” JAMA261
    (1989): 1773-1781.
    38The Medical Task Force on Anencephaly, supra.
    39Ashwal, S., et als., “Anencephaly: Clinical Determination of Brain Death and Neuropathologic Studies,”
    Pediatr Neurol 6(1990); 233-239.
    40Stumpf, D.A., Med Task Force on Anencephaly, “The Infant with Anencephaly,” N Eng J Med
    322(1990): 669-674. Shewmon, D.A., et als., “The Use of Anencephalic Infants as Organ Sources: A Critique,”
    JAMA261 (1989): 1773-1781. Van Assche, F.A. “Anencephalics as Organ Donors,” Am J Obstet Gynecol
    163(1990): 599-600; Ashwal, S., et als., “Anencephaly: Clinical Determination of Brain Death and Neuropathologic
    Studies,” Pediatr Neurol 6(1990); 233-239.

    This papernoted the same thing, although it is apparently an attempt to promote the removal of healthy organs from living anencephalic children, so its statements on their responses could hardly be called into question.

    Forgive another “personal experience overriding scientific evidence” but I remember a story I read years ago in which a baby was diagnosed with anencephaly, and was given no hope. For some reason, the doctors inserted a shunt in her skull to draw off some of the spinal fluid that was filling her skull. The mother operated that shunt ceaselessly; and within a period of time (a few weeks, I think, but can’t remember at all), noticed more responses from her daughter. Some time after that, there was obviously more responses — much more than what the doctors had ever predicted as being remotely possible. They did another scan of her skull, and you know what they found? A brain. Apparently the fluid had compressed her brain so that it was not seen previously. With the removal of the fluid, her brain expanded to fill the skull. This child was not completely normal, but she was certainly not a vegetable, which is what the doctors had predicted. Doctors don’t know everything. And here’s a story of a man and a woman who were both declared brain dead and woke up. The woman had no brain waves for 17 hours. But she was still alive. The man supposedly had no blood flowing to his brain. But he was still alive. Doctors don’t know everything.

    Just because something can’t be measured doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    I don’t think that the Romanian orphanages were “just fine” — they were horrible places, and that shouldn’t have happened. But it is not the necessary outcome of abortion restriction. However, I do think that the current rate of abortion is a human rights disaster on all sorts of levels, and you appear to think it is just fine.

    Do you support any restrictions on abortion whatsoever? Or do you think it should be completely legal up until the moment of birth for any reason whatsoever (or even for no reason whatsoever)?

  16. edinburghlook said, on May 29, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    My personal experience is not merely mine alone, but that of a lot of other women, whose birth stories I have heard and read.

    The plural of anecdote is not data.

    If you have some scientific evidence you’d like to link to, feel free and I will read it. This topic always intrigues me.

    A lot of the material discussing normal oxygen levels in the fetal cerebral cortex is on password protected sites, but there’s a recent (2005) multidisciplinary review available here. You aren’t going to like what it has to say, though.

    With the removal of the fluid, her brain expanded to fill the skull. This child was not completely normal, but she was certainly not a vegetable, which is what the doctors had predicted. Doctors don’t know everything.

    No. Doctors are human beings who can make mistakes. I do not recall ever arguing otherwise.

    But a body without a cerebral cortex is a nonfunctional body. The cerebral cortex is the part of the brain which processes all sensory input and which creates a coherent picture of the world from that input; and which controls all voluntary movements, from swallowing to raising an eyebrow.

    It is possible for a test confirming presence or absence of a cerebral cortex to be wrong; Terri Schiavo’s sad case demonstrated how long it is possible to keep a body alive in the absence of a cerebral cortex.

    I don’t think that the Romanian orphanages were “just fine” — they were horrible places, and that shouldn’t have happened. But it is not the necessary outcome of abortion restriction

    Forcing women through pregnancy against their will (what you call “abortion restriction”) has three inevitable outcomes. One, the maternal mortality rate will rise: more women will die. Two, the maternal morbidity rate will rise: more women will suffer permanent damage to their health. Three, though women will still access illegal abortions even when their access to legal abortion is restricted, more unwanted children will be born – and will end up in places like the Romanian orphanages.

    Adoption is a last-resort solution for children whose parents cannot or are unfit to care for them. Even in countries where there is access to legal contraception and abortion, there are still, always, more children who need parents than there are adults willing and able to care for them. The more unwanted babies whom women on a low income are forced to give birth to (since, always, the more money a person has, the easier it becomes for her to get a safe abortion), the easier it becomes for middle-class couples to pick and choose for adoption – while the babies no one wants remain neglected and uncared for. If this is not what you want, then I would urge you to reconsider your support for forcing women to produce babies they don’t want – no matter that you sanitise this into “restricted abortion”.

    I do think that the current rate of abortion is a human rights disaster on all sorts of levels, and you appear to think it is just fine.

    It would be a human rights disaster if, instead of allowing women free access to abortion, all the women with unwanted conceptions were forced to give birth.

    It is not a human rights disaster that women are not forced to give birth.

    It is a public health failure that so many people fail to access or to make proper use of contraception. Men who try to have penetrative sex without condoms ought to be shamed amd shunned like drunk drivers. Parents who try to stop their daughters having access to decent sex education and free access to contraception, ought to be regarded as abusive parents – as they are.

    And no woman ought to be made to feel ashamed or awkward about using contraception, or have it made difficult for her to access it, no matter what her age, no matter what her circumstances. And it ought to be illegal for any pharmacist or hospital dispensary to deny emergency contraception to a woman who needs it.

    I’ve never encountered a pro-lifer who actively supported free provision of contraceptives to all. I’ve encountered several who actually argue that contraception ought to be made more difficult to access – Cardinal O’Connor, for example, who bloviates about the abortion rate while advocating denial of contraception at the hospital of which he is patron.

    I’ve never encountered a pro-lifer who was for all children of school age having access to informative and unbiased sex education, to which their parents should not be allowed to deny them access.

    Yet all of these things would decrease the abortion rate. Judging by the success in the Netherlands, free access to contraception and good sex education could decrease the abortion rate enormously – yet pro-lifers, for the most part, just do not want to do so.

    Can you say why? If you feel that the present abortion rate is a catastrophe, what would you feel about introducing means of decreasing it? Why do you feel that so many pro-lifers do oppose methods of reducing the abortion rate that are proven to actually work?

    Do you support any restrictions on abortion whatsoever? Or do you think it should be completely legal up until the moment of birth for any reason whatsoever (or even for no reason whatsoever)?

    I think that a woman ought to have the legal right to make medical decisions for herself at any time, yes – including any point of pregnancy. I think that objections to women being able to decide for themselves whether they want to have a child, whether they want to continue a pregnancy, and what should happen if the pregnancy goes wrong, are all sourced in the (false) belief that women are incapable of making good decisions.

    I read a news story about an American woman a few years ago – I’m sorry I can’t link to it. This woman was told, when she was halfway through her pregnancy, that the fetus was ancephalous and seriously deformed – that if she continued the pregnancy, the fetus might well die before birth; the baby would probably die at birth: that at most, it would live for a few hours after it was born.

    The woman chose to continue the pregnancy, because, she said, she wanted to be able to say goodbye to her child properly. With immense courage, she chose to go through months of pregnancy knowing that at the end of it there would be only tragedy. The baby was born and lived a few hours.

    Here’s what I have against pro-lifers: I admire that woman for the courageous choice she made. I would have equally respected her right to have an abortion, but I cannot deny that she made an extraordinary choice.

    You, and others like you, want to take that choice away from her. You want her not to have the right to make the choice of her own free will. You want her to be legally compelled to do what she did – to remove all cause for admiration, all her grace, all her courage, and replace it with the iron weight of your conviction that women can’t be permitted the right to make their own decisions.

    (Sorry if this is repeated: getting an error message. Please delete duplicates.)

  17. Kathy said, on May 31, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    The document you linked to did not impress me. They seemed determined to dismiss any evidence of fetal pain as being due to other causes. “Oh, that wasn’t pain — it was merely reaction to a stimulus.” “That wasn’t pain, even though the stress levels rise just like what happens when adults are in pain.” This discussion seems to focus on the necessity of a fully-formed cerebral cortex in order for a creature to feel pain. Let me ask you this — do animals feel pain? They don’t have a cerebral cortex nearly as developed as humans do, but if I kick a dog and it goes off howling, would you expect me to say, “Oh, it’s not hurt — it’s merely exhibiting a stress response”? Ludicrous. As far as the repeated statements on the link about neonates (esp. preterm newborns and fetuses in the 2nd trimester) exhibiting the same responses (elevated levels of stress hormones, etc.) in response to “non-noxious” and “noxious” stimuli (e.g., swabbing the heel vs. the actual injection), did it never cross your mind that the skin/fetus/baby is so sensitive that the baby feels *everything* as pain? You’ve never had a baby, so maybe this isn’t second-nature or “common knowledge” to you, but it is to me: when a baby is born, parents are urged to treat them with the tenderest and gentlest of care — that’s why they buy the softest clothes, wash those clothes in mild cleansers, and use only mild cleansers on their skin. When a premature baby is born, even more care is given — the baby is put in an isolette and barely touched at all, to minimize the stress levels caused by pain from touching (although there is evidence to show that “kangaroo care,” in which the mother holds the baby skin-to-skin on her chest is beneficial and does not set off the same stress response). This common practice belies everything that the paper you linked to said. It also reminded me of something I read many years ago (I believe I alluded to it previously, when I discussed that doctors used to perform surgery on premature infants without anesthesia or analgesia) — the assumption by doctors that full-term newborns can’t feel pain. They actually did a study in which they pricked babies with pins and noted their “stress responses” or “primal reflexes” or whatever the term was. When it was obvious to anybody in the room that didn’t have the preconceived notion that “newborns can’t feel pain” that these “primal responses” (you know, crying, screaming, jerking away from the pin) were evidences of pain. Just like what was in the paper you linked to. These doctors, just like the doctors of the 50s or 60s, are saying, “Well, it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck, but we can’t really determine that it *is* a duck.”

    What I was showing about the previous comment on the baby who was diagnosed with anencephaly but who actually had a brain, is that perhaps these other cases of enencephalic children are similar — it is just assumed that nothing can be done for them, so nothing is done for them, when in fact perhaps something *can* be done for them. And I think it’s tragic that these babies and millions of others are never even given a chance, but are just discarded like so much medical waste. When people with mental and physical disabilities were targeted by Hitler (he didn’t kill just Jews, you know — children with any obvious malformation, such as Down Syndrome or dwarfism, or any seeming learning disability were declared unfit to live), it was regarded as a crime against humanity. Why is it so different to have these same types of people executed before they are born?

    Women who choose to get pregnant and then end their pregnancies through illegal and unsafe abortion will have a higher risk of death than those who do not have unsafe abortions; but this is because of the abortion, not because of the pregnancy.

    I have an historic argument — in years of the past, there was little or no abortion available, yet we do not see descriptions of ancient orphanages. Why? Because children were considered blessings, not curses. Also, in more recent history, though there was still little access to abortion, orphanages were primarily only for those children who had lost one or both parents. Why? Because families took care of their children; and extended families took care of their own.

    Another historic argument — there was little or no “sex education” yet the rate of unwed sex and unwed pregnancies was exceedingly low. Why? Because children were taught (by precept or example) that sex was to be reserved for marriage. Also, unmarried couples were chaperoned, so that it was difficult or impossible for them to have sex. It is for these reasons that I don’t quite buy the argument that all we need is more sex education. What we need is more education on self-control and more chaperoning of children and adolescents. What we *don’t* need is more emphasis on sex, because that serves more to titillate the younger folks than to educate them. Our culture is such that sex is prevalent on every billboard and street corner and TV show. Little girls are wearing mature clothes, T-shirts that say “I’m sexy”, and there are even thongs for 5-year-olds. That’s just sick! And we don’t need more of this. Giving kids condoms while telling them “don’t have sex” is sending a mixed message, and is a reason to oppose free contraception — because giving it out free encourages the risky behavior.

    But, again, we’re now coming back full circle to the point of my original post — that of personal responsibility prior to conceiving a baby. People who are pro-abortion tend to say, “We can’t keep teenagers from having sex, so let’s just keep them from making a baby and getting a disease.” People who are pro-life tend to be of the religious sort (myself included) who say, “We can keep teenagers from having sex, so let’s focus on *that* and then they won’t have to make a choice about contraception or abortion, nor will they be faced with getting a sexually transmitted disease.” Totally different mindset. And when you look at the full package of what comes with sex (the risk of pregnancy and disease, the loss of innocence, the increased incidence of depression and suicide [read Dr. Meg Meeker’s book, “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters”], etc.), I wonder that more adults aren’t up in arms about the marketing of sex and the pushing of sex on their children.

    I, for one, will stand against it — not merely for the moral problems of abortion (because it takes a human life — and as an aside, most pro-abortion people are anti-death-penalty, which makes me wonder why they are *for* the prenatal killing of innocent humans, when they are so against the post-natal killing of guilty humans), but for all the reasons why not to have sex outside of marriage.

    And, yes, I do want to take away the choice of killing a baby away from women. You may phrase it in terms of “doing what she wants with her body” but in doing so you ignore the fact that she is in actuality doing what she wants with someone else’s body as well. And since about half of the babies conceived are male, that fact cannot be controverted.

    I do not believe that “women are incapable of making good decisions.” That is an emotional statement, designed to raise hackles, and has no basis in reality. There are laws against such behaviors as prostitution and bank robbery, and no one says that these laws exist because “people are incapable of making good decisions.” These laws exist because some people do make bad decisions, and this helps to prevent them from acting on these decisions (for the good of themselves and/or society), and provides a means of punishment should they follow through with their bad decision to sell their bodies or rob a bank.

  18. edinburghlook said, on May 31, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Kathy: The document you linked to did not impress me. They seemed determined to dismiss any evidence of fetal pain as being due to other causes.

    I didn’t think you’d like the scientific evidence. But there you go.

    Let me ask you this — do animals feel pain? They don’t have a cerebral cortex nearly as developed as humans do

    But an adult dog or cat – or even a just-born kitten or a puppy! – does have a cerebral cortex more developed than a human fetus. That’s just a biological fact: a human infant does a lot of neurological development after birth. (Kittens and puppies learn to see and to move around a lot faster than human babies do, you may remember if you’ve ever had to do with newborn pets…)

    did it never cross your mind that the skin/fetus/baby is so sensitive that the baby feels *everything* as pain?

    I go with the scientific evidence, thanks. Which I cited.

    but it is to me: when a baby is born, parents are urged to treat them with the tenderest and gentlest of care — that’s why they buy the softest clothes, wash those clothes in mild cleansers, and use only mild cleansers on their skin.

    And why are you bringing up newborn babies, when we’re discussing fetuses? A baby is not a post-born fetus any more than a fetus is a pre-birth baby.

    Women who choose to get pregnant and then end their pregnancies through illegal and unsafe abortion will have a higher risk of death than those who do not have unsafe abortions; but this is because of the abortion, not because of the pregnancy.

    Actually, the death rate from pregnancy is significantly higher than the death rate from illegal abortion, but yes, illegal abortion is less safe than legal abortion, which is why, of course, abortion must remain legal.

    I have an historic argument — in years of the past, there was little or no abortion available, yet we do not see descriptions of ancient orphanages. Why?

    Because instead of women who were pregnant having early abortions, unwanted babies were abandoned. Most of them died. Bear in mind that the records we have were of babies abandoned at hospices or workhouses or equivalent, where they had a chance of staying alive: the only records of babies simply abandoned to die are of the infant bones found in potters’ fields, where the corpses of babies left on the streets were simply shovelled in.

    I’ll list you conditions in various countries in separate comments, but there’s a general overview here:

    During the Middle Ages when the infant death-rate was very high, child neglect was common, most often arising out of ignorance of the child’s needs. Harsh treatment of children became even more severe at age seven, for it was believed that childhood ceased at that age. There is little evidence of organised care for poor and deprived children, and where this did happen it tended to be in ‘hospitals’ (places of hospitality) and for short periods only. Children were recognised for their economic worth and many were exploited for their labour; child stealing for this purpose was not uncommon.

    (In the 18th and 19th century, children were also “valued for their economic labour”, and thanks to the Parliamentary papers from indefatigable leftists determined to prevent employers from using these “treasures” to death, we have detailed accounts of how children were “valued” – you can read about some of them here.)

    Also, in more recent history, though there was still little access to abortion, orphanages were primarily only for those children who had lost one or both parents. Why? Because families took care of their children; and extended families took care of their own.

    No, not true: never true, in fact. (I’m not sure which country you’re speaking from, but I think it’s the US? If so, you should know that American “orphanages” were in fact rarely for actual “orphans”.)

    Another historic argument — there was little or no “sex education” yet the rate of unwed sex and unwed pregnancies was exceedingly low.

    No, not true – never true, in fact. Prostitution is a never-failing fact of life in every country: men were routinely assumed to visit prostitutes before marriage, and most such prostitutes were women. Unwed sex was – and always has been – perfectly common and perfectly taken for granted. Were you seriously unaware of this?

    That in many countries the definition of a “respectable woman” was, for all practical intents and purposes, one who found out what “the facts of life” were the night before her marriage when her mother told her as much as it was considered good for a girl to know, never meant that women didn’t have sex before marriage: but it is in the 20th century that it has become taken for granted that a woman has as much right as a man to have sex with who pleases her, without losing anyone’s respect worth having. (For example, a man who loses respect for a woman because she had sex with him without wanting to marry him, is by definition a man whose respect it is not worth having.)

    Also, unmarried couples were chaperoned, so that it was difficult or impossible for them to have sex.

    It might have been “difficult or impossible” for them to have sex with each other – though not if they actually wanted to – the prevalence of “first babies” that arrived after, apparently, six to eight months gestation demonstrates that it was perfectly possible for an engaged couple to have sex with each other if they both wanted to, having no effect but to definitely set the marriage date as soon as possible after the bride-to-be knew she was pregnant.)

    And again: an unwed man was always able to have sex. Venereal diseases were more common in the 19th and early 20th century than they are today. (And medical records establish that many “respectable married women” contracted a disease from the only man they had had sex with – in the days when condoms were unreliable or inaccessible, there was no known cure for syphilis, and public health consisted exclusively of regular roundups of female prostitutes (not their clients) and mandated medical examinations to establish they did not yet have a venereal disease.

    People who are pro-abortion tend to say, “We can’t keep teenagers from having sex, so let’s just keep them from making a baby and getting a disease.”

    Well, yes. And your problem with making sure teenagers decide when to have sex, who to have sex with, and know how to have sex safely is…?

    People who are pro-life tend to be of the religious sort (myself included) who say, “We can keep teenagers from having sex, so let’s focus on *that*

    I’m a little bemused by your claim that you can “keep teenagers from having sex”. If you can, why don’t you? Teenagers who have been prevented from having any kind of sex education except “don’t do it!” tend to have sex at about the same age as other kids, but are far more likely to do so unprotected, to get pregnant, or to transmit STDs. Your assertion that you can keep teenagers from having sex seems wildly unsupported by any factual evidence.

    And when you look at the full package of what comes with sex (the risk of pregnancy and disease, the loss of innocence, the increased incidence of depression and suicide

    Well, there is certainly a risk of pregnancy and disease if you keep teenagers in ignorance of how to have sex safely, and if you prefer that teenagers are not taught that it’s up to them to decide when and who with to have sex – as teenagers in the Netherlands are taught – yes, such kids tend to have sex younger and are more likely to be coerced – thus risking depression and low self-esteem.

    Why, again, do you feel this is a desirable outcome? If your claim is that you can prevent teenagers from having sex, what on earth are you basing this claim on? Thus far the only American religious group which did seem to prevent teenagers from having sex were the Shakers – and they did it by living communal, entirely celibate lives in which no one had sex, and new members of the sect were added by adoption.

    Continuing next comments with examples of historic baby disposal.

  19. edinburghlook said, on May 31, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    In France:

    The Condition of the Hospices: The physical environment was cold, dirty, and overcrowded. The conditions within the hospices were not good. The authorities for the most part were more concerned with finance than the welfare of the children. For example, in 1830 in St. Vincent-de-Paul, there were three sister and eleven nurse’s aids in the nursery for anywhere between eighty and one hundred and fifty infants. In theory, each wet nurse cared only for one newborn. However due to the lack of wet nurse, there were usually four or five newborns to each wet nurse while in the hospice. This was one of the reasons ,many of the babies did not receive breast milk at all or on a regular basis. The other reasons included the fear that the majority of the infants carried syphilis. To deal with this problem, the authorities along with doctors developed a means of artificially feeding them. This consisted of cows and goats milk. However, the milk often sat out in the open with no lid for days on end; thus obtaining a large amount of germ and bacteria. Dr. Hutinel described this after a visit to a hospice as, ” contained in large jars, exposed to all dust, rested in an office situated in the center of the rooms, where from morning to night, it was contaminated by germs that dry sweeping would raise up several times a day” ( Fuchs 137). Due to the unsanitary conditions, one half of the infants died in the hospice before their first year.

  20. edinburghlook said, on May 31, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    In the US:

    Conditions varied, but tended not to be good. Many orphanages were highly regimented, especially early in the century. Children marched to meals, which they ate in silence. They wore uniforms and sometimes had their heads shaved. Corporal punishment was common, with inmates routinely beaten across the hands with leather straps. The diet tended to be poor. Says Crenson, “Inmates, as adults, recalled that they were hungry all the time.” He found accounts of the kids in a Cleveland orphanage breaking out to raid a nearby bakery; he came across another story about Jewish kids saying kaddish for their orphanage’s wretched cook–in the hope that she would die.

    Orphanages often were dangerous. The mortality rate was not much better than on the streets. Older, bigger, tougher kids preyed mercilessly on younger, smaller inmates. Says Crenson, “As hard as it was to leave kids at the mercy of some adults, it was much worse to leave them at the mercy of 100 kids. Living in an orphanage meant either being a predator or a victim.” He found accounts of older boys sodomizing younger ones. There were institutions that were well-run by compassionate people, but in general an inmate’s life was a tough one.

    Inmates placed-out by institutions didn’t fare much better. It was common for foster families to send them back, or give them away to another family. During the Civil War, Crenson says, some people enlisted older, bigger boys in the army and pocketed the enlistment bonuses. He found a heart-wrenching story about a little girl in Albany who had been placed with a family. The woman of the house beat the girl, and when an orphanage supervisor found out, he took the girl back and searched for a prosperous family to take her in. He thought he’d found one, and placed the girl as a domestic servant. She said, on entering this new situation, that what she most looked forward to was the opportunity to attend Sunday school. Later the supervisor found out that the new family refused to take her to church with them because her face was pockmarked; even worse, the family had tried to pawn her off on another household because she was, in their view, too ugly.

  21. edinburghlook said, on May 31, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    In the UK:

    From the first days the number of children being brought to the Hospital greatly exceeded the number of places available. Frequently, with each regular admission limited to 20 children, the gates were opened on 100 hopeful mothers, who in the Eighteenth Century were mostly domestic servants and daughters of humble tradesmen and farmers. Occasionally they would be from fairly well-to-do families. To decide the admissions, a system of balloting was used at one time.

    Even so, by 1756 the Hospital had admitted a total of 1,384 children, whose keep was beyond their means. So the Governors appealed to Parliament for help – in what was probably the first ever grant-aid application by a charity for Central Government funding – but with dire results. In return for an annual grant of £10,000, Parliament required the Hospital to admit every child offered who was below a certain age – at first two months and later twelve months.

    Thus began the four years of ‘indiscriminate admission’. Up until then the Hospital’s annual intake had averaged only 100 children but, with the introduction of the new system, the Governors were obliged to accept every child brought to their door. In expectation of the likely result, a basket was placed outside the gate, in which mothers would deposit their babies and ring the bell to alert the porter. 117 children were placed in the basket on the first day and 425 in the first month, but this was just the beginning.

    It was impossible to accommodate these numbers with foster parents and .in the Hospital in London and it became necessary to open Country Hospitals at Barnet, Aylesbury, Westerham, Shrewsbury, Ackworth and Chester. But still the children came. With the medical check gone, the death rate rose to more than two in three, but that was still better than that among children in many workhouses which saw the Foundling Hospital as a means to reduce the burden of Poor Law payments in their locality.

    The cost grew too and by 1760 it had reached £500,000. After nearly four years of indiscriminate admission, which had seen no less than 14,934 children accepted (of whom 10,204 died), Parliament. finally called a halt, though until 1771 it continued at least some contribution towards the keep of the children who had been admitted at its suggestion. The Country Hospitals were gradually closed, Shrewsbury and Ackworth later becoming famous schools, and the number of children on the books dropped from over 6,000 to 400.

    Bear in mind, too, that the reason the Foundling Hospital was considered an improvement on the local workhouses was that the workhouses had a 90% death rate – London’s Foundling Hospital generally did better than that.

  22. edinburghlook said, on May 31, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    And, yes, I do want to take away the choice of killing a baby away from women. You may phrase it in terms of “doing what she wants with her body” but in doing so you ignore the fact that she is in actuality doing what she wants with someone else’s body as well.

    Well, yes. But then, as a pro-lifer, you want to do what you want with someone else’s body too – that of all pregnant women, in fact. Giving a pregnant woman the right to decide what to do with the fetus she is carrying, means the person who knows most about the situation both for prospective mother and prospective baby, is the person who gets to make the decisions. Pro-lifers argue that they have the right to make decisions for other people – people they don’t even know and whose personal circumstances they are unaware of.

    I do not believe that “women are incapable of making good decisions.”

    Why, then, do you feel that women must be legally prevented from it?

    That is an emotional statement, designed to raise hackles, and has no basis in reality.

    Then why, again, do you think that no woman ought to be allowed to make decisions for herself in pregnancy? If you think that women are capable of making good decisions, why not trust each pregnant woman to make the decision that she considers to be the best decision for herself, the fetus she carries, her other children, and her – and their – future life?

    That’s my position.

    There are laws against such behaviors as prostitution

    Oh goodness, I never noticed that. So you are aware of prostiution, and therefore know that sex outside marriage is commonplace?

    and bank robbery, and no one says that these laws exist because “people are incapable of making good decisions.”

    There is no law mandating provision of blood to hospitals; no law mandating provision of skin for skin grafts, spare kidneys for people on dialysis, half-livers from people dying of liver failure. The law instead mandates that each individual shall have the absolute right, while they are alive, to decide for themselves whether they will give up a pint of blood, or bone marrow, or a kidney, or half a liver – even when that individual is the only possible donor, and the recipient will die without the donation. The law says: a person’s body is their own, and it’s up to them to decide what to do with it.

    I support that, too. I don’t see any reason to decide that, of all the organs in the human body, the uterus is the only one which shall be regulated by the government – that a woman shall be able to choose to give blood or not, give up a kidney or not, give up half a liver or skin or bone marrow entirely of her own volition, no matter how badly the recipient needs the woman’s blood and body to stay alive – but that a woman shall not be allowed to decide for herself whether or not to use her uterus to keep a fetus alive.

    You think that use of the uterus ought to be regulated by government? I oppose that.

    These laws exist because some people do make bad decisions, and this helps to prevent them from acting on these decisions (for the good of themselves and/or society), and provides a means of punishment should they follow through with their bad decision to sell their bodies or rob a bank.

    It’s interesting that you think it’s a “bad decision” for a woman to give up the use of her body for sex to a man for pay (I’d agree – sex work is a dangerous, dirty job). But you make no reference to men who make the worse decision to make use of a prostitute for sex. Women for the most part, when they choose to do sex work, do so because they need the money. Men make use of sex workers because they want to have sex without any emotional attachment – without any need to have mutual sexual gratification. Which is why sex work is dangerous – because the men who use sex workers are doing so without any regard for the people they are making use of. Where is your condemnation for the men?

    Yet, with all that, you don’t appear to have any difficulty with women’s bodies being made use of by the government via “restrictions” on abortion to produce children they don’t want – which is also dangerous, as I think I’ve amply demonstrated upthread.

  23. edinburghlook said, on May 31, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Okay. I split my response into multiple comments hoping they’d (a) be easier to read (b) avoid going into moderation. Only one has, and of course it’s the first comment I made.

  24. Kathy said, on June 2, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    “I didn’t think you’d like the scientific evidence. But there you go.”

    I don’t have a problem with the *evidence* but with the *interpretation* thereof. The actual evidence showed that fetuses have the same responses to painful stimuli that newborns have… it was just the doctors who couldn’t figure out if that meant the fetus felt pain or not.

    But the discussion has been side-tracked by whether or not a fetus is conscious or whether or not a fetus feels pain. When top scientists can’t even agree, I don’t expect for you and I to, either. However, considering the stress responses that the fetus demonstrates, and the fact that fetuses can hear, smell, and taste while still in utero, I still affirm the evidence is on my side.

    Regardless — from other comments you’ve made, it would not matter if you knew that the fetus was conscious or did feel pain, you’d still affirm that the woman should have the right to kill that fetus up until the moment of birth.

    A fetus is a pre-born baby, just as much as a fertilized chicken egg is a pre-hatched chick; and a baby is a post-birth fetus. They are the same creature, the same organism… only one is inside the woman and one is outside. I refer to “babies” in the generic sense (fetuses and newborns); and I group fetuses and newborns together because the only real difference is that one is inside and one is outside; one is breathing through the umbilical cord and the other is breathing room air. But the age of viability in the West has been effectively lowered to 24 weeks (and babies born as early as 21 weeks have survived). It makes zero sense that on one floor of the hospital, doctors will be valiantly trying to save the life of a post-born premature fetus who was accidentally born too soon, while on another floor of the same hospital, they will be taking the life of a pre-born premature fetus — at the same level of gestation. No, abortion is the taking of the life of an innocent human, which is murder.

    In regards to the wretched conditions of orphanages — I don’t deny that many children died as a result of the “care” they received. However, I merely point out that abortion merely moves the time of death to (as you previously put it) “inside the pregnant woman, where you won’t have to look at it or think about it.”

    You’re wrong about the death rate from pregnancy vs. that of abortion — legal or illegal. I’ve previously cited statistics from Romania that showed that maternal death due to illegal abortion was extremely high (I’m not going to look it up again, but I’d say that it appeared visually to be at least 5x that of all other causes of maternal mortality. Also, when abortion became legal again (the year following that statistic), over half of the deaths were due to abortion, although there were quite a lot of abortions performed. And more recent statistics (also already cited) showed that 46% of maternal mortality in Romania is due to abortion, and approximately that same percentage of pregnancies end in abortion. One problem I’ve encountered w/most abortion advocates is that they do not understand that “maternal mortality” includes deaths caused by abortions. It is not just women dying of childbirth — it’s women dying of abortions, too. Maternal mortality is the death (due to pregnancy in some way) of a woman within 6 weeks or 1 year (depending on the country) of the end of a pregnancy, whether abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth, or live birth.

    “Then why, again, do you think that no woman ought to be allowed to make decisions for herself in pregnancy?”

    I’ve never said that no woman ought to be allowed to make decisions for herself in pregnancy. In fact, if you read my other blog you’ll see that quite a few of my posts are centered on this very idea. But abortion is not merely making a decision “for herself” during pregnancy, but making a decision to murder another person during pregnancy.

    To demonstrate what it is that I am saying (although I know you know it all too well, you are just talking in circles to try to avoid the point), let me ask a rhetorical question: why are there laws against rape and murder? These people who would rape and murder are merely “doing what they want with their bodies” — what’s so wrong about that? The obvious answer is, that they are not just doing what they want with their bodies — someone else is involved too. The rights of this innocent person not to be victimized must be upheld, even if that means that the “rights” of the would-be rapist or murderer to “do what they want with their bodies” are subordinate.

    I referred specifically to prostitution because it is primarily women who are involved in it (although men can be prostitutes too) — women who are merely “doing what they want with their bodies.” [I didn’t talk about the “Johns” who pay for sex, because I cannot possibly talk about every potential ramification of everything under discussion — these posts are already too long as it is. Just so there’s no doubt, I think they’re scum and despicable.] In most countries, there are laws that make prostitution illegal — why? “It’s just women doing what they want with their own bodies.” And the men who use prostitutes are just “doing what they want with their own bodies.” Drug users are also doing what they want with their own bodies, yet drug use is illegal in most countries.

    Many laws exist to protect the rights of people from those who would trample down their rights. These laws include laws against drunk driving, prostitution (both against the hookers and their johns), drug dealing, bank robbery, and murder. However, in all of these cases, the criminal is just “doing what he wants with his own body.” Why is it only with laws against abortion that it is all of a sudden horrible for a nation to decide what should and should not be legal for someone to do with his own body?

  25. edinburghlook said, on June 3, 2008 at 8:46 am

    <I.Regardless — from other comments you’ve made, it would not matter if you knew that the fetus was conscious or did feel pain, you’d still affirm that the woman should have the right to kill that fetus up until the moment of birth.

    Nowhere did I say that.

    I said that the pregnant woman is the only person able to make decisions for herself and the fetus she is carrying up until the fetus is a baby – post birth (which, as you ought to know, is not a “moment”).

    A fetus is a pre-born baby, just as much as a fertilized chicken egg is a pre-hatched chick; and a baby is a post-birth fetus. They are the same creature, the same organism…

    Except for being biologically extremely different. A fertilised egg will take nine months to become a baby – if a woman decides to provide the necessary labour and resources. The fertilised egg goes through massive changes in those nine months, and one final change – from fetus to baby. An acorn is not an oak, a chicken egg is not a chicken, and a fetus is not a baby.

    I referred specifically to prostitution because it is primarily women who are involved in it

    Actually, no: the vast majority of people involved in prostitution are men. The customers – the vast majority of whom are male – are as much “involved in prostitution” as the sex workers themselves, and the customers outnumber the sex workers.

    In regards to the wretched conditions of orphanages — I don’t deny that many children died as a result of the “care” they received. However, I merely point out that abortion merely moves the time of death to (as you previously put it) “inside the pregnant woman, where you won’t have to look at it or think about it.”

    So you’d actually rather the unwanted babies were born to suffer and die, rather than the unwanted fetuses are removed early in the first trimester when there is no biological possibility whatsoever that they can suffer in any way at all?

    I don’t understand that. Why do you feel it’s better for there to be more suffering, rather than less?

    I understand that you think that the death of a six-week fetus is morally identical to the death of a six-week baby. But a six-week -old baby is conscious: can feel pain: can be aware on a very basic level that she or he is dying of neglect. I think it’s profoundly wrong to force a woman through nine months of pregnancy in order to produce a baby to be neglected to death, yet your argument seems to be that this is somehow morally better than a woman getting an abortion at six weeks… because it involves more suffering?

    One problem I’ve encountered w/most abortion advocates is that they do not understand that “maternal mortality” includes deaths caused by abortions. It is not just women dying of childbirth — it’s women dying of abortions, too.

    Yes, that’s true. One problem I have with “pro-life” advocates is that they have no difficulty advocating for more illegal abortions – as you have yourself repeatedly argued for abortion to be made illegal, and you are evidently fully aware that this means so many women will then die because they have no access to safe, legal abortion.

    Why do you feel it’s better that women die in illegal abortion (the fetus also dies) than that women who are pregnant and don’t want to be can abort safely and legally? Why do you feel it’s better for both woman and fetus to die, than for only the fetus to die and the woman survive?

    Why is it only with laws against abortion that it is all of a sudden horrible for a nation to decide what should and should not be legal for someone to do with his own body?

    So you would support laws that force people to give up parts of their body against their will? For example, in China, criminals condemned to death have their organs removed and used for life-saving organ transplants: this is on the same lines as your idea that a woman’s uterus can be used against her will to keep a fetus alive for nine months. Do you feel that China is on the right lines – that it’s not okay for a person who is healthy and has two kidneys to deny use of one kidney to someone who will die without it? Does it strike you as “horrible” that in this country, even blood is regarded as a purely voluntary donation – there is no law mandating people provide a pint of blood every couple of months?

  26. Kathy said, on June 4, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I said that the pregnant woman is the only person able to make decisions for herself and the fetus she is carrying up until the fetus is a baby – post birth (which, as you ought to know, is not a “moment”).

    Which logically means that your position is that women should be able to terminate the life of the fetus as long as he or she is a fetus, which is up until the moment of birth. And as I already said previously, that is a moment — the “time of birth” that is put on birth announcements. Labor takes some time (although C-sections take as little as 5 minutes from incision to removal of the baby), pushing takes some time, but the actual medical/legal change from “fetus” to “newborn” is when the baby’s body is completely out of the mother’s body. Which is a moment.

    To clarify — “involved in prostitution” meaning those involved in the selling of their bodies for sex.

    About babies who will be born, suffer and die — doesn’t everybody? Doesn’t all life have some element of suffering to it? And everything that lives eventually dies. Let me rephrase the argument — should all displaced persons in refugee camps, all of whom are suffering, and some of whom may die of starvation or disease (whether they are there because of war, earthquake, tsunami, or some other cause) — should all of these people be killed, so as to lessen their suffering? There is a third option, that of alleviating the suffering.

    “Why do you feel it’s better that women die in illegal abortion (the fetus also dies) than that women who are pregnant and don’t want to be can abort safely and legally? Why do you feel it’s better for both woman and fetus to die, than for only the fetus to die and the woman survive?”

    Sigh… because 100% of fetuses who undergo abortion die, whereas only a small percentage of women who undergo abortion (legal or illegal) die. Having an abortion is a choice — on the part of the woman, anyway (except for the many cases of women who feel coerced by their boyfriends into having an abortion so that they [the men] don’t have to take responsibility, or were coerced by their sexual predator into having an abortion to cover up their [the men’s] crime). Which brings me back full circle to my original point — personal responsibility. You act as if I am somehow forcing women into dying by advocating restrictions on abortion, without realizing that they are making the choice to undergo a dangerous and possibly lethal procedure. Besides, we see that when something is legal, it becomes much more common. Which means that not only will 100% of fetuses who undergo abortion die, but that more women will choose abortion (who would otherwise give birth) simply because there is the stamp of governmental approval in the form of legalized abortion. So, while a few more women would end up dying as a result of illegal abortion, many more babies would end up living because abortion is illegal. So even if the death toll to women from illegal abortions went up dramatically, the death toll to babies would go down even more dramatically.

    So you would support laws that force people to give up parts of their body against their will? For example, in China, criminals condemned to death have their organs removed and used for life-saving organ transplants: this is on the same lines as your idea that a woman’s uterus can be used against her will to keep a fetus alive for nine months.

    No, this is entirely different. In your example, you are likening the wrong two things. It is the natural course of things for pregnancy to end in the birth of a baby — abortion is the life-ending intervention. It is the natural course of things for some people to die without blood donation or organ transplants — transplants and transfusions are the life-giving intervention. You are not likening the two interventions — you are comparing the intervention with the non-intervention, which won’t work.

    In a previous post, you said that abstinence education doesn’t work. Would you mind providing some evidence for that? Here is a link to some evidence that supports my side.

  27. edinburghlook said, on June 4, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Which logically means that your position is that women should be able to terminate the life of the fetus as long as he or she is a fetus, which is up until the moment of birth.

    You do seem to be quite keen on this scenario, don’t you? And yet, if you think about it, the number of women in the 40th week of pregnancy who would go to their doctor and say “I want an abortion, do it now” is, so far, completely zero.

    If you think about it a bit harder, there may come a point in any pregnancy where medical decisions have to be made that will affect the health or the life of the pregnant woman. I take the position that those are decisions she, and she alone, gets to have the final say on, with medical advice from her doctor.

    And sometimes, yes, that will mean a woman who has the horrible decision to make whether to risk her life or risk the life of the fetus she is carrying, will come down in favor of her own life. You seem to think that’s always bad and that women shouldn’t be allowed ever to do that: I don’t see why. In any case, the pregnant woman is the one most involved, the one with awareness of all the factors, and the one whose life or health is at risk: she’s got to be the one who makes the decision, since someone will have to.

    Your belief that the government should make the decisions? Well, I’m not a libertarian, but I do think there are some areas where a person has a right to decide without government interference, and medical decisions about their own body is one of those areas.

    About babies who will be born, suffer and die — doesn’t everybody?

    Well, that kind of destroys your argument that any abortions are bad. An early abortion (first trimester), where the fetus is simply removed from the uterus and dies without the woman’s life support, is merely the fetus being sort-of “born”, not suffering, and dying. If you don’t have a problem with a six-week-old baby being born and then neglected to death, why would you have a problem with a six-week fetus being removed from the uterus and then dying without any suffering at all?

    Let me rephrase the argument — should all displaced persons in refugee camps, all of whom are suffering, and some of whom may die of starvation or disease (whether they are there because of war, earthquake, tsunami, or some other cause) — should all of these people be killed, so as to lessen their suffering?

    Of course not, Kathy. You are the one arguing for more deaths and more suffering, not me. You are the one arguing that it’s better to force a woman through pregnancy and childbirth at risk of her life, and then have the baby die anyway, or have her risk death in an illegal abortion, not me.

    There is a third option, that of alleviating the suffering.

    Yes, there is, but you appear to be unalterably opposed to that third option.

    because 100% of fetuses who undergo abortion die, whereas only a small percentage of women who undergo abortion (legal or illegal) die.

    Legal abortion is far safer than illegal abortion is far safer than pregnancy/childbirth. If you’re okay with having the unwanted babies die after they’re born, as you’ve just said, what is your problem with alleviating suffering and saving lives by a safe, legal, early abortion?

    You act as if I am somehow forcing women into dying by advocating restrictions on abortion, without realizing that they are making the choice to undergo a dangerous and possibly lethal procedure.

    As noted above: childbirth is a dangerous and possibly lethal procedure. You are presumably aware of this, and you are evidently also aware that when women do not have access to safe legal abortion they risk their lives in unsafe illegal abortion. To argue that you are not responsible for women dying in illegal abortions if you are responsible for making it so that the only abortions women can access are illegal, is really not logical. If you’re okay with some women dying in illegal abortions as the price of having some unwanted babies survive to be born and then die of neglect, then you could at least acknowledge that.

    Besides, we see that when something is legal, it becomes much more common.

    Actually, all research has shown that if something is necessary, and you make it illegal, it doesn’t become less common: it just becomes more dangerous to obtain. The abortion rates in different countries round the world don’t change much whether abortion is legal or illegal: in the Netherlands, where abortion is legal and easy to obtain, the abortion rate is the lowest in the world.

    So, while a few more women would end up dying as a result of illegal abortion, many more babies would end up living because abortion is illegal.

    This has not been shown to be the case in any country in the world. And as you yourself admitted, you don’t care if the babies live or not – just so long as they’re born.

    t is the natural course of things for pregnancy to end in the birth of a baby — abortion is the life-ending intervention.

    Actually, it’s the natural course of things for human pregnancy to end in miscarriage: approximately 50% of fertilised eggs, it’s now thought, fail to attach to the uterus wall and the woman miscarries. It’s also in the natural course of things for pregnancy to end in death of both pregnant woman and fetus. And back in the days before women could control how many children they had, and when, it was in the natural course of things for many children to die before they reached their 5th birthday.

    You appear indifferent to the mass deaths of children and the deaths of women, showing concern only for the deaths of fetuses. Why then are you not far more concerned over the high human miscarriage rate? Far more fetuses die via miscarriage than by abortion.

    It’s also in the natural course of things for my dad to have died of pleurisy last month: but thanks to medical advances, he got antibiotics, and lived. I personally have no problem at all with a woman having only the children she knows she can care for, and living to see her children’s grandchildren – even though that’s not in the natural course of things.

    You are not likening the two interventions — you are comparing the intervention with the non-intervention, which won’t work.

    If the government decides to compel a woman through pregnancy and childbirth against her will, that is a life-ending intervention. As discussed above: it means women will suffer and die and babies will suffer and die. To argue that it’s not an “intervention” to prevent a woman from having a safe legal abortion, is illogical…

    In a previous post, you said that abstinence education doesn’t work. Would you mind providing some evidence for that?

    Sure. The report commissioned by Congress on the effects of abstinence education is here. The specific report is here (PDF file). It’s fairly long, but the net result is: teenagers who were given “abstinence education” (who were denied any information about how to have sex safely, and just told not to) are likely to have sex for the first time at the same age as teenagers who were given more informative education about safe sex and contraception. (Though, from the report, it doesn’t sound as if even the better-informed teenagers got a very good grounding.)

    However, states where more money has been spent on abstinence-education are states with much higher teenage pregnancy rates – Texas is the prize, of course – strongly indicating that the girls who are only told not to have sex, have no knowledge of how to protect themselves against becoming pregnant.

    If no abstinence education program can be shown to have “worked” in that it stops teenagers from having sex, and given that the Netherlands has shown that a good sex education program in state schools can cut teenage pregnancies – and therefore teenage abortions! – down to 1/7th of the US rate, why do you want to support “abstinence education” rather than a lower abortion rate? Incidentally, the average age at which teenagers first have sex in the US is 14.9: the average age at which teenagers first have sex in the Netherlands is 16.7. Seems pretty proven that strongly encouraging teenagers only to have sex when they want to, and to be responsible and careful when they do, works better than the method of telling them as little as possible and ordering them not to have sex at all.

    Surely we can both agree that it’s really bad when a teenage girl gets pregnant? You may feel she should then be forced through childbirth against her will and regardless of the damage to her health, but we can at least both agree that it would be better if she didn’t get pregnant at all?

    The effective method of ensuring that teenage girls don’t get pregnant is to make sure, at minimum, that they have free access to contraception, and that they – and teenage boys – are solidly encouraged that if they decide to have sex, it should be because they both want to and the boy should use a condom.

    How would you like to cut the abortion rate in the US to one-seventh of the current rate?

  28. Kathy said, on June 5, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Regarding late-term abortions — I daresay these are always unnecessary to save the life of the mother. Since viability is currently about 24 weeks in the West, any woman can have be induced or given a C-section pre-term in order to save her life *and* the life of her baby, should she have any situations arise that would threaten her health.

    And, no, I’m not arguing for more deaths — you are — in the form of feticide!

    Taking the life of an innocent human is murder. I’m tired of this circular argument that is getting nowhere. But here’s a blog that answers very well this argument that making abortion illegal causes women to die.

    I didn’t say I don’t care if babies live or not; the question is one of morality and ethics — is it moral and/or ethical to take an innocent human life? There is a difference between deliberately killing someone and his unfortunate demise from natural causes — just as there is a difference between abortion and miscarriage. One is deliberate, the other is accidental and is also frequently a lamented event. Oh, and infant and childhood mortality rates were reduced in large part due to improved sanitation, food supply, water supply, etc.

    It is hardly illogical to call a procedure which artificially dilates a woman’s cervix, and then introduces a vacuum aspirator into her uterus to suck out the contents of that uterus anything other than an “intervention”.

    You’re right — that pdf file is very long. I’m working my way through it and am commenting as I’m reading it, so it’s fresh on my mind. You said that the avg age at which US teens first have sex is 14.9. I’m assuming you’re getting that from this report? It says, “This age is seemingly young, but recall that the outcome is defined only for youth who reported having had sex and the average age of the evaluation sample was less than 17.” These groups were also “at risk” for sexual behavior. So this is not an accurate sampling of US students, since it did not include those who were still virgins.

    Also, on page 24/164, it says that peer support is a big factor in whether or not children remain abstinent; and it notes that many students who attend the same elementary or middle school may go on to attend a variety of high schools (not able to go to school with the friends who also received abstinence-only education), or contrariwise, that many different elementary or middle schools may feed into the same large high school, thus mixing the AOE kids in with the “comprehensive” sex ed kids, and diluting the network of AO friends).

    Ok, just finished the report, and I will note again that these are kids at high risk for sexual behavior, and most of them are in single-parent (usually single-mom) households. According to this report, one course of abstinence education in elementary and high school does not statistically keep children from having sex as they grow older, but the report said a couple of times that this does not mean that continuing abstinence education through high school has no benefit. I would point out that AOE (as you put it, “denying information on how to have sex safely”) did not put these kids at any greater risk of actually having unsafe sex, getting pregnant, or contracting an STD.

    As far as Texas goes, I read the study, and was shocked to find that it concluded that AEO didn’t help when they didn’t even have a control group. That’s research? Hah! Here’s a critique. Also, I would note that Texas borders Mexico, and there is a high rate of illegal immigration. In fact, many women (and probably teenage girls) cross the border into Texas to have their babies in US hospitals, because of the Constitutional provision that any child born in the US is automatically a citizen of this great country. Also, it’s extremely likely that many teens have not actually received AOE, because they are illegal immigrants and are not actually in school, or perhaps don’t have the information given to them in Spanish. Does that not factor into any of this?

    And since you didn’t look at the links I provided to research that showed that AEO works, I will post them again. Here, and here and here and here.

    Yes, I agree that it’s bad when teenage girls get pregnant. Which is why I support abstinence-only education.

  29. edinburghlook said, on June 6, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Kathy, just a quick note, since I honestly think we have now done this to death: in the Netherlands, the teenage pregnancy rate is a world low. They have the lowest abortion rate in the world.

    And they did it with freely-available legal abortion, freely-available contraception, and comprehensive sex education mandatory for all children.

    If you genuinely, truly want to prevent teenage pregnancy and lower the abortion rate, why are you turning your back on the methods that have been shown to achieve this goal you claim you want?

    It is arguments like this, when pro-lifers repeatedly argue that it doesn’t matter women die in illegal abortions and babies die after they’re born, because the important thing is making sure women can’t have safe legal abortions, that have long ago convinced me that pro-lifers are indifferent to the value of human life and do not actually care about babies. A baby’s death is a terrible thing to me:

    It is arguments like this, when pro-lifers repeatedly argue that it doesn’t matter how prevalent teenage pregnancy and teenage STDs are in states which promote abstinence-only education, or how high the abortion rates are, that have long ago convinced me that pro-lifers do not actually care about protecting teenage girls from pregnancy, or protecting teenagers from STD: they care only about promoting the idea that teenagers shouldn’t have sex.

    Also, it’s extremely likely that many teens have not actually received AOE, because they are illegal immigrants and are not actually in school, or perhaps don’t have the information given to them in Spanish. Does that not factor into any of this?

    I am not surprised that the state of Texas is so indifferent to children that teenagers whose parents have brought them into the country illegally are not receiving education.

    But I am surprised that you say the promoters of abstinence-only education don’t provide information in Spanish, even in Texas. I guess racism trumps everything: abstinence-only education is only for white Anglophone girls, who need to be kept “pure”. I knew that was the ideal on which abstinence-only education was based, but I hadn’t realized that its enforcement was so racist that AOE materials are not even provided in Spanish.

  30. Kathy said, on June 6, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    First let me clear something up — I didn’t say that AOE curriculum is not available in Spanish — I said “perhaps”. I am not in Texas, so I just don’t know. I think it quite likely that in areas that have a high Spanish-speaking population, that most materials would be available in both English and Spanish. I also think that most school districts do provide (at no cost to those who are in our country illegally, I might add) education to children who are in our country illegally — if those children are in school. It would not surprise me to find that many children are made to work instead of go to school — after all, their parents are in violation of immigration laws simply by virtue of being in this country, so why should they worry about violating child labor laws? What I’m saying is that these may be factors in the question of one type of sex ed over another.

    In regards to your drumbeat of support for the Netherlands, I’ll refer you to this blog which discusses worldwide abortion rates and other salient factors.

    We come from two different philosophical viewpoints — I believe that sex should be reserved for marriage; you do not. I believe that abortion is murder; you do not. Don’t ask me to bend my views and say “well, abortion is murder, but it’s okay.” Because I think that killing innocent humans is wrong, does not mean that I think that it is okay to promote suffering. We can work to eliminate abortion *and* work to stop suffering. It is not an “either-or” proposition.

    I will admit that if people choose to have sex outside of marriage, they should take steps to avoid conception. But the best is to only have sex within marriage. You may mock what I have to say about history (that as a society we kept premarital sex and premarital pregnancy low, without “comprehensive sex education” but just because that was the societal standard), but the fact is that in the US in the 40s, the percentage of births to unwed mothers was around 4%; by the 90s it was about 30%. The low birth rate was achieved without “comprehensive sex education” or legal abortion and the higher birth rate happened even though schools began to teach “comprehensive sex education” and abortion was made legal.

  31. edinburghlook said, on June 6, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    . It would not surprise me to find that many children are made to work instead of go to school — after all, their parents are in violation of immigration laws simply by virtue of being in this country, so why should they worry about violating child labor laws?

    It would surprise me enormously, but then I’m not a racist kind of person. The people who are violating the labor laws in the US are the people who hire illegal immigrants, knowing that they can then pay them less and subject them to worse working conditions without complaint: there’s a grand tradition in the US of people coming to America to make a better life for themselves and their children, and in my experience of immigrants, if they can get their children into school, they will. They’ve already made enormous sacrifices to get into the US – all the more, if they entered illegally, and only a very racist person would think that they wouldn’t then want the best for their children – if, of course, the local education authorities will educate their children – you yourself suggested that educational materials might not be made available in Spanish.

    In regards to your drumbeat of support for the Netherlands, I’ll refer you to this blog which discusses worldwide abortion rates and other salient factors

    Not a very relevant blog article, as it doesn’t discuss the Netherlands’ achievement at all.

    Don’t ask me to bend my views and say “well, abortion is murder, but it’s okay.” Because I think that killing innocent humans is wrong, does not mean that I think that it is okay to promote suffering. We can work to eliminate abortion *and* work to stop suffering. It is not an “either-or” proposition.

    Certainly it’s not: the Netherlands has managed to do both, and abortion rates are still falling. But you don’t appear to be interested in that achievement, so it’s hard for me to believe that you do actually want to eliminate abortion or work to stop suffering. In fact, frankly, it’s impossible for me to believe it. You’re just not convincing.

    I can’t figure out what it is you do want, since you are apparently quite happy with the current abortion rate in the US and have no wish to emulate the Netherlands.

    You’ve emphatically argued for keeping young people ignorant of how to have sex safely and for forcing women who get pregnant through pregnancy and childbirth. I conclude that those are your important goals – ignorance and forced pregnancy.

    Preventing abortions doesn’t even seem to be on your wish-list – which is odd, since you claim to believe that “abortion is murder”, and yet you don’t want to prevent these “murders”?

  32. edinburghlook said, on June 6, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Oh, two final points.

    I don’t mock your citations from history. I merely point out that your historical information is seriously incomplete. You cite without reference that “in the 1940s” the percentage of births to unwed mothers was “around 4%” – leaving no clue as to whether that rate includes or excludes women who abandoned their babies to be cared for by the state, due to the horrific societal penalties on women who were caring for children outside marriage.

    As you note, there was no legal abortion: but as you are aware, the illegality of abortion does not affect abortion rate, it affects the maternal mortality rate. For example, in 1931 the Children’s Bureau carried out a survey and found that illegal abortion was responsible for at least fourteen percent of maternal mortality in the US. cite

    The difference between the 1930s and the 1990s is of course that a woman who gets pregnant, if she decides to have an abortion, will not risk death and will not risk her future fertility: and if she decides to have the baby, she can take care of the baby herself without the extreme societal stigma of sixty years ago.

    Finally, since I know I have been extremely critical of your opinions in these comments: I appreciate the fact that you have let this discussion play out to the end, though I do feel that we have come to an end of useful discussion. And I do sympathize with your belief that sex ought to be for married couples only. You’re right that I don’t agree – I think only people who care about each other and desire each other should have sex, that’s my morality – but I sympathise with it.

    Because if you truly believe that “abortion is murder” – and I’ve said I find it hard to believe that you do – you have to decide whether you want to hold to your beliefs about no sex outside marriage, or if it’s more important to you to prevent these “murders”: by comprehensive sex education, by free provision of contraception and encouragement to use it, and by comprehensive state and societal support of mothers, single, partnered, or married.

    Which is more important to you? To try to turn back the clock to an era where women risked death in illegal abortion, had difficulty accessing contraception, and could not support children: but where people who had sex before marriage or outside marriage had to be covert and discreet about it? (The number of prostitutes in the US in the 1930s and 1940s says that sex before/outside marriage was perfectly common then.)


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