The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Monday, June 01, 2009

A Hell of a Ride

The murder of the abortion doctor Tiller is a tragedy. I do have to say that a lot of the comments from the outraged suggest that they don't believe anti-abortion activists really think abortion is murder. From their perspective, it is something to be discussed and legislated. Got it. But if I really, truly believed it was murder, and it was legal, I might have to do something drastic. If I believed my next-door neighbor was murdering his children one at a time, and no one would stop it...wow. I feel that what we have here is a tragic social schism, with tons of misunderstanding on both sides. Don't get me wrong: I back a woman's right to choice right up until that baby could survive outside her body on its own. That's where I draw the line. But while this action was purely criminal and murderous...I'm not sure people aren't deliberately pretending not to understand that it really is possible to have a difference of opinion about when life starts--anti-abortion folks aren't all pretending about that.

It really bugs me when I disagree with someone, and they assume that I must be pretending just to irritate them because, ya know, no sensible person could hold a different point of view from theirs.

#

That being said, it's fascinating to note that violence against abortion clinics was up during Clinton, went to almost nothing during Bush, and now it's back again. That's fear at work. When people feel like they're winning, they are less likely to feel threatened enough to launch into violence. We've definitely got a culture war going, and it won't get better before it gets worse. The trouble is that there has been one way of doing things, for all of living memory. And those who are used to the world having a particular shape are going to be frightened as the changes come: whether they have to do with race, gender, class, sexual orientation, or the dominance of nation-states. Stay balanced, folks, and roll with the punches--it's going to be a hell of a ride.

##

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/31/spike-tv-awards-brad-pitt_n_209477.html

The headline says a "Halle Berry Butt Grab." I guess it was at the MTV movie awards. Halle was being given the "a decade of hotness" award by Jamie Foxx. He grabbed her butt, and she...well, look for yourself. My, my. At least it wasn't Adrian Brody again.

47 comments:

Scott said...

"I back a woman's right to choice right up until that baby could survive outside her body on its own. That's where I draw the line."

I'm with you.

But it's a *moving* line; technology is pushing it back; uterine replicators bringing fertilized eggs to term aren't here yet, but they're coming. Right now I figure first trimester abortion is not murder, 3rd trimester is, and 2nd trimester is too hard a question for me to answer.

DebGrabien said...

"I'm not sure people aren't deliberately pretending not to understand that it really is possible to have a difference of opinion about when life starts--anti-abortion folks aren't all pretending about that."

No, they aren't. But since we're discussing the murder of a doctor by a member of Operation Rescue, I find this particular sentiment, as expressed, rather naive and misleading.

Also, when you talk about "drawing the line" on someone else's body, it lessens my own sense of a possible reasonable discourse. Draw the line how? Are you planning on pulling a gun on me?

There are as many takes on what constitutes life as there are people to have those takes. Mine is that I am a living breathing XX chromosome life form, with a personality and a history and a life that I will personally defend from other peoples' attempts to diminish or dehumanise with everything I've got.

Marty S said...

The position I back up a woman's right to choice right up until the baby can survive outside the body on its own is interesting.

1) It seems to acknowledge that we are dealing with a baby(i.e not fully developed human) rather than something else.

2)It says the baby's right to life does not trump the mother's right to choice because it cannot survive on its own. This raises the question if a child has a disability and cannot survive without nursing care does this mean the mother has the right to terminate the child's life. If not what is the difference between the two situations.

Christian M. Howell said...

We've definitely got a culture war going, and it won't get better before it gets worse.

You're right about that. Except it's the culture of the lazy lotto people vs the hard working metrosexual crowd.


As far as Halle Berry, she should expect stuff like that after Monster's Ball. Though I would have to slap Jamie Foxx for that because it's TACKY. Halle isn't a video chick though she has definitely shown more.


The abortion doctor murder is screwed up but it shows that there are a lot of problems that need to be addressed in this country.

I say we enact martial law and death squads but that's just me.
From what I see on the subway everyday, the only way to change the pathetic direction is to "waste" some people in public forums.

Hell, they can pick from about 100,000 white or black underachieving bums in NYC.

Anonymous said...

Concerning fetus/baby status, I agree with Ann Druyan and the late Carl Sagan, as expressed in Billions of Billions,i.e. when the fetal brain displays cortical activity indicative of primate sentience (capacity for abstraction), it's an infant and merits de jure human status. Till then,it's a POTENTIAL person, as are eggs and sperm. Men aren't prosecuted for the untold billions effectively aborted through masturbation; nor should women be prosecuted for pregnancy termination.

I DO take the professed moral revulsion of anti-abortion activists seriously. The assassin who gunned down Tillich believed with very ethical fiber that he was saving lives and executing justice. So too with the 9/11 hijackers, who sincerely believed they were punishing ungodly American arrogance and executing Allah's will. To me as an Atheist, Tillich's murder is yet another depraved atrocity committed by religious zealots bend on forcing all to conform to their delusional "morality". I actually find Abortion Prover murder MORE egregious than Jihad since at least the latter's mandated by the Koran. NOWHERE does the Bible even mention abortion! Professed Christians who oppose abortion or murder its providers out of religious conviction are unhinged IDIOTS who've eschewed the Bible for the ignorant ravings of Televangelists.

Dan Moran said...

Very few Christians really believe that life begins at conception. I think better of them than that: I think they're hypocrites in this area, not the worst cowards the world has ever seen.

If someone in my town was killing babies, I'd do something about it. So would they. The fact that so few of them do speaks volumes about what they really believe.

I once sat in a room with a bunch of Operation Rescue people and watched them embrace a woman who'd once had an abortion. She'd seen the error of her ways, and now understood that what she'd done was wrong ....

Remember Susan Smith? She drove her kids into a lake. Can you picture these same people embracing her? Because I can't, and they wouldn't have.

Marty S said...

The person who murdered the abortion doctor is irrelevant in a pro choice vs pro life discussion. Condemning a whole group for the acts of a few is exactly what bigots do with minorities. As to the potential life argument I wonder how an environmentalist would react to the argument that its okay to destroy the habitat of an endangered species as long as we save all the currently alive members of the species because future members of the species that would require the habitat are only potential members of the endangered species.

Brian Dunbar said...

Remember Susan Smith? She drove her kids into a lake. Can you picture these same people embracing her? Because I can't, and they wouldn't haveI have seen Christians embrace all kinds of people who have erred and professed to have seen the light. Everything from ministry in prison to comforting those on Death Row.

It happens. Redemption is the bedrock of Christian Belief.

Dan Moran said...

If Susan Smith were to be paroled, I'm pretty sure Christians wouldn't pay for her to travel the country telling people about her unfortunate decision to murder her children. But the agonized woman-with-an-abortion is a standard feature of pro-life gatherings.

Tell me you see no difference between Susan Smith and a woman who has an abortion at four weeks ...

Anonymous said...

In my earlier post, I erred in grossly over simplifying the Christian antiabortion movement. Far from being monolithic, the movement's bifurcated into distinct Catholic and Protestant strains. Of these, the Catholics appear more "rational" and civilly tolerable. Although the Bible is silent on abortion, the Papacy abhors abortion, and papal infallibility is Catholic doctrine. Catholics also seem largely content with fighting abortion through legal means. By contrast, Protestants lack ANY doctrinal justification to oppose abortion, and their ranks appear to harbor the lawless and downright murderous elements of the movement (Operation Rescue, Tiller, et cetera).

Ethiopian_Infidel

Anonymous said...

Huge gaff on my part. Tiller was the VICTIM of antiabortion homicide. I of course meant to refer to the killer as among the lawless and murderous, and predominantly Protestant, elements of the Antiabortion Movement.

Ethiopian_Infidel

Lobo said...

*NOWHERE does the Bible even mention abortion!*

Not entirely true. There's a section where the god of Abraham told the Isrealites to exterminate some tribe and specifically told them to cut the babies from the wombs of the pregnant women.

To paraphrase Carlin, "'Thou shall not kill' has always been negotiable."

What is being overlooked here is that when life begins is a matter of opinion. Each and every one of us is entitled to their opinion on the matter. None of us are entitled to force that opinion on anyone else (You're rights end where another person's begin.) Where you think human life begins is irrelevant. What matters is where the person having an abortion thinks life begins and it's their burden to bear. All lines drawn before birth are necessarily arbitrary.

I disagree that these people are hypocrites. I think they really truly believe what they are saying. I also believe that they are restrained by a nominally civilized society. After all, this guy who actually did pull the trigger wasn't exactly the most stable fellow to ever walk the planet. He reportedly had his fingers in just about every far-right paranoiac pie this side of the Montana Freemen. The guy was obviously a great big steaming pile of psychosis looking for a place to unload. It doesn't help when you've got 'pro-life' goons enabling their illness with rhetoric that is meant to drive the tenuous off the cliff into outright murderous insanity.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

The guy was obviously a great big steaming pile of psychosis looking for a place to unload.The guy was obviously an extremist; it's not obvious to me at all that he was psychotic. Terrorists are sometimes quite sane in DSM-IV terms, while most people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are actually no more violent than anyone else (psychosis is actually more of a risk factor in being a victim of violence than in being a perpetrator).

Mike Ralls said...

>To paraphrase Carlin, "'Thou shall not kill' has always been negotiable."<

A better translation from the original text would actually be, "Thou shall not murder." Which has very different connotations from "Thou shall not kill."

Mike Ralls said...

Personally I think that the relatively small number of attacks on abortion doctors is mainly due to the strong legitimacy the American people view the US system and that most Americans just aren't willing to launch violent attacks for political ends unless there is an organized state force behind them or at the State is at least willing to wink at them (Note; This is a _VERY_ good thing).

There are historical parallels after all. Before the Civil War millions of Americans thought that slavery was a horrible evil but guys like John Brown, who were actually willing to act on their convictions and use violence to try and effect things, were very rare. Most people who opposed it just shook there head, said, "It's a darn shame," and lived their life as people are wont to do.

Now if there were some States that were willing to wink at killing abortion doctors the way they used to wink at lynching Blacks, I'd bet we'd see them be a fairly regular occurrence. But ([broad generation here] people are tribal creatures and if they feel the tribe will punish them for something they tend to not be willing to risk their neck for no personal gain even if they regard such an act as just and right. That's my take on human nature anyways.

Anonymous said...

"A better translation from the original text would actually be, "Thou shall not murder." Which has very different connotations from "Thou shall not kill.""

Most interesting. Assuming the Mosaic Code's definition of Murder parallels that of modern jurisprudence (a rational assumption, given the heavy influence of Biblical Law on Western legality), Antiabortionists aren't alone in falsely justifying personal convictions through vacuous "Christian" arguments. Since Murder is a LEGAL term specifying the violation of injunctions against killing fellow citizens sans capital proscription, the "scripture-based" arguments of Quakers and others against War, Capital Punishment or legal Euthanasia are as null and void as those of the so-called Right-To-Lifers. I suspect the source of confusion is the miss-translation of the Hebrew term for Murder into nonlegal words such as Kill in English, which denotes general slaughter.

Elisa said...

It's a delicate topic but whether it's murder or not, it doesn't give anybody the right to kill the man!

Marty S said...

As I said in a previous post our laws let you shoot someone in self-defense. But if someone robs you, and runs away and you go to a safe, get your gun, chase them two blocks, and shoot them its clearly not self-defense and you can and should be charged with murder even if you may have done society a favor.
So society draws lines for us. If we live in a society we don't all get to choose the lines for ourselves. If we live in a free society with freedom of speech, we all have the right to speak out on where we believe the lines belong. In fact, if we believe a line has been incorrectly drawn we have the duty to speak out for a change. On the other hand we don't have the right to take any sort of violent action to because we disagree with a particular law.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

I think people who say abortion is murder because it's killing babies don't think about the implications. If they did, they'd support pre-natal help with nutrition and medical care. (It's a common complaint that most anti-abortion people don't.) What's more, they'd support research into preventing miscarriages, a very common cause of pre-birth mortality.

Christian, we wouldn't have the financial crisis if some of the people in the financial industry hadn't been working so hard at the wrong things.

Ethiopian_Infidel, Papal infallibility is a much less general doctrine than you think. The Pope is only infallible when he says he is, and that power has only been used a few times-- it seems to always be about doctrines like the assumption of the Virgin Mary which don't affect daily life.

Catholic doctrines about abortion do *not* involve Papal infallibility.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

About the 101 days: After Steve seemed to imply that anyone could sign up for it, I did. However, there's been a Murphy attack: the links don't show up my emails. My application for the forum is being held for moderation.

Now, there might be an occult aspect, and I might as well be honest. I'm very interested in how the 101 days is going for other people. On the other hand, I don't have enough trust in IF to try it without more information (including failure modes), and I can't seem to imagine big goals for myself-- and I've definitely tried.

I have been doing the Tibetans, and consider them quite valuable.

So, I'd like to be in the forum, but I'm not sure whether I qualify.

Steven Barnes said...

Deb:
Naive and misleading? I "draw the line" meaning I no longer agree. But I'm not willing to tell a woman what to do with her body: that's between her and God, as far as I'm concerned. The fact I believe that's when life begins doesn't mean I "know I'm right." It means that's what I believe. I fail to see how that's naive.

Steven Barnes said...

Nancy--
You should be approved within a day or so.
##
Marty S.--I consider life to start when the baby can survive outside the body. Before then, it gets really murky. After birth? Frankly, a handicapped child is still a child--but I understand why Spartans exposed the weak. Don't think we should do it, but I understand.
I am NOT willing to tell women what to do with their bodies. As I've said many times, I'd be perfectly happy to get out of the discussion and let women work it out for themselves.
##
Christian: why do you blame Jamie Foxx for grabbing her butt, but not blame Halle for grabbing Jamie's crotch? You have some odd ways of distributing blame, Dude. Sauce for the Goose--what she did was worse, in my mind. I've never seen a man grope a woman's crotch in public. What the hell makes it better if a woman does it?

Travis said...

Hey Nancy,

My thoughts on the 101 program. I love it. I was (am?) part of the original 101 beta test although I haven't kept up with it as well as I ought to, although I have recently started back in.

Your concerns, in order of appearance.

'Occult aspect'? I think that depends on your definition of occult. I would say that it doesn't though it can/ will change your mental and emotional states. Not sure why you raise this question, but I would think it is a non-issue for most people.

IF. Works great. I'm not completly sure what you mean by 'faliure modes'. I think your asking 'what happens if you don't stick to it. You keep working. It's a growth process, not an "I did it or I didn't"

Here's a couple of things to consider about IF. 1)There are number of articles which can be found online discussing the physiological impacts far better then I could. 2)Lots of people report good results with IF. LOTS of people. In fact, I don't know anyone who has tried it and not felt it was beneficial. They don't all stick with it but I haven't talked to anyone who said, 'Pshaw! I tried it, didn't do anything for me'. 3) While Steve still calls them 'fasting days' and you certainly can do a full fast the minimum standards is to eat only fresh, preferably raw, fruit and vegetables on the 'fast' days. Work within your comfort level. If you're doing a full fast the first couple days can be tough but it gets better once you break some of the sugar/insulin cycle roller coaster of the typical American eater. IF/fast days are a tool to learn to control your diet, rather then having your diet control you.

Goals- this is the area I spent the most time on. goal setting skills get better with practice. The ability to imagine goals gets better with practice. And, at least for me, laying in the foundation with the reinforcement of exercise/diet/5MM has cemented the development in pretty good.

The two things I like most about Steve's program are that it is efficient that the changes (appear) to be lasting.

I could go on but that should help address your concerns. And here's the thing. Just try it. Embrace the system as a whole. It's designed to have a minimal impact on your daily life, a minimal time investment, and high rewards. What do you have to risk? A couple of minutes a day? What can you gain?...

Marty S said...

Steve: If a woman is not pregnant one can make a reasonable statement that she is entitled to do anything she wants with her body including smoking, drinking, taking drugs or overeating. However, when a woman is pregnant one may reasonably argue that the fetus is a separate life which is residing within the mother's body and which can not speak for itself. Once children are born we recognize they need special protection and have laws to give them that protection. It seems reasonable that society therefore also has the right to extend protection to the fetus if it so chooses. It also therefore seems that any member of the society has the right to support such protections.

Steve Perry said...

Marty --

Not reasonable, save by religious fiat -- "when" is the question, and it's a thin line from "conception" to either the sperm or egg, isn't it? Should masturbation be a crime? Given that the sperm wasted (Onan-like) could, under the right circumstances, create a human life?

Onan spilled his seed rather than sleep with his sister-in-law and God smote him for it.

It all comes back to that, no matter how you slice it. Enforcing your religious views on people who might not agree with them.

Would allowing women to have menstrual periods instead of becoming pregnant become a crime? The egg's potential and all? Not that big a reach.

We draw the line in different places, and "fetus" is usually not even applied until eight weeks or so. At thirty-nine weeks, a fetus could survive birth. At nine weeks? Not yet.

Abortion stops a beating heart. So does eating fried chicken. At eight or ten weeks, it isn't a functioning human being, it's a tadpole that might or might not survive. People deserve protection under the law. Potential people? How potential?

Virtually everybody who considers that human life begins at conception does so from religious reasons.
Last time I looked, religion wasn't science.

What goes on in a woman's womb is her business until she delivers a viable child. Not yours.

Christian M. Howell said...

Christian: why do you blame Jamie Foxx for grabbing her butt, but not blame Halle for grabbing Jamie's crotch? You have some odd ways of distributing blame, Dude. Sauce for the Goose--what she did was worse, in my mind. I've never seen a man grope a woman's crotch in public. What the hell makes it better if a woman does it?

I think I berated them both, but a man who would embarrass himself on National TV should be slapped.

Halle is a woman and Jamie could overpower her like H'Wood. That's why. A man who respected himself and ALL women would not have done that even if she initiated it.

I mean, I accidentally whipped out a chick's tit in the club and was embarrassed but made sure that no one saw anything else. And boy was there more.

But national TV is not a dark club. He even showed his lack of class by being casually dressed for the Red Carpet. Did you go to the Image Awards in torn jeans looking like a refugee from a shelter?

If so, send me a picture. I need a laugh.

Lynn said...

I think that some - okay, probably a lot - of anti-abortion people honestly believe that abortion is murder but I think that there are even more people who are against abortion because they do not believe that people should have sex outside of marriage and they think that the risk of pregnancy will stop women from having sex.

A controversial opinion, I know, but that's what I have observed living in the Bible Belt

thrrrnbush said...

My biggest concern with allowing a man to sue for custody of a fetus is time. Too many of the women I've known that have chosen abortion have done so as part of a leap from a bad relationship. I could write volumes on the sadness of women finding the relationships tolerable for themselves and only seeing the ugliness when confronted with the idea of bringing an innocent child in to suffer the dysfunction. How they got there isn't the point though. It's my concern that the fetus, whether in a natural or artificial womb, is growing more and more into itself while the judicial system has to sort out which, if any, of the parents are suitable to raise the poor thing. If a pregnancy is going to be terminated, the sooner the better, and suing for custody of the fetus doesn't seem conducive to that. Voluntary surrender of custody is another matter, I suppose.

It's so complicated an issue there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Which is why I support choice as passionately as I do. I'm certainly not a fan of abortion, but I can't decide for another woman what her best option is.

Marty S said...

Steve Perry: Lets look at some of your arguments. My first quibble is with the use of the term potential people. When a child is born it has the potential to be an artist, a scientist, a talk show host, etc. The unborn child whatever name you give it fetus, embryo etc. if there is no abortion and no miscarriage will 100% become a human being, not a dog or cat or anything else. Therefore it is more accurate to refer to it as a future human being then a potential person. As for comparing masturbation to abortion. A sperm cell by itself has zero potential of becoming a human being. Rarely if ever does masturbation take place when a fertile woman is available. Even if sperm cells are released into a woman at the height of her fertility any given sperm cell becoming part of a future human is of low probability so the comparison is just not reasonable.

As for the not reasonable except by religious fiat.

1) I am not particularly religious.
2) I am definitely not Christian.

I just happen to be very pro child.
When my son took a position in Bloomington, Illinois I sold my house in New York and moved to be near my grandson. When the position didn't work out and he moved back to Dutchess County, New York I sold my house in Bloomington and moved to Dutchess County to be near my now two grandchildren. When my children were young I spent all the time with them I could. So my position is part personal morality and mostly the feeling that children are the most precious thing in the world and has nothing to do with God or religion.

Dan Moran said...

Therefore it is more accurate to refer to it as a future human being then a potential person..
No it isn't?

Winning your argument by defining your terms is one way to get it done, I suppose. No entity the size of my thumb, with no self-awareness or sense of its own existence, is a person with the rights of a person. That's just my take, but I'm pretty comfortable with it.

I'm going to have to go with "potential" person myself.

Anonymous said...

Marty S,

A high proportion of pregnancies miscarry, i.e. the body "aborts" the fetuses, no doctor required. Many such spontaneous abortions occur soon after conception, the potential Mom never realizing she was pregnant. Few decry the loss of these "Pre-people". IMHO, spontaneous abortion bolsters the case for Steve's demarcation between Fetus and child. When the pregnancy has passed beyond the gestational period during which natural termination is frequent, its a PERSON. Prior to that, it's a POTENTIAL which, like sperm, eggs or Sertoli cells, may or may not win personhold in the great biochemical chaps stakes. Till it does, it merits ZERO RIGHTS or consideration legally or ethically. Potential people are NOT children. Actual thinking, speaking, productive citizens (i.e. pregnant women) have the ABSOLUTE AND INCONTESTABLE RIGHT to dispose of their bodies as they wish.

Ethiopian_Infidel

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Steve, thanks.

Travis, the "occult aspect" was a semi-joke. Steve's mentioned in the blog that sometimes weird obstacles turn up when people attempt serious change. On the much smaller scale, I sign up for 101days, and I get email with mentions of links that aren't there and no access to the forum.

In re IF: I'm not terribly trusting these days. I never would have thought Alexander Technique (of all innocuous-looking things) could go wrong, but it can. I've made similar mistakes with it, and if I hadn't been fairly lucky, I might still be screwing myself up.

This is not a general attack on the Alexander Technique-- it's very valuable if done well. It isn't so good if you do it addictively.

Additionally, I've read enough fat-acceptance stuff to know that even what's considered ordinary standard dieting can make people's lives noticeably worse. I realize IF isn't a standard diet and it sounds as though there are good tools for keeping track of how it's affecting your life, but I want more information than you're able to give me.

Anonymous said...

The problem I see is that you all are trying to argue as if morals were objective facts, like E=MC^2. They are not. Morals are on the same level as saying "Star Wars is better than Star Trek" or "Fried chicken tastes better than broccoli." They may have bigger real world results, but they are just opinions none the less.

Morals are the result of one's conditioning in childhood combined with the historical development of the society one is socialized in (plus some genetics - maybe, the tests are still out on that one). People treat them as if they are objective fact for very good evolutionary reasons; we are designed to live in small tribes were pretty much all members of the tribe have very similar morals and norms and if you come across someone with very different morals chances are they are The Other and should be feared and hated. But that doesn't mean they are objective facts anymore than the situation where most people desire to eat lots and lots of sweet and fatty foods means their bodies needs lots and lots of sweet and fatty foods.

Trying to prove that "Fetus ought to be protected" or "Fetus ought not be protected" is NOT possible because you can not prove what "ought" to be.

Marty S said...

Ethiopian Infidel: This whole right to privacy garbage is just that. It was the best of the weak excuses that a set of justices determined to legalize abortion could find. If women have the "ABSOLUTE AND INCONTESTABLE RIGHT to dispose of their bodies as they wish.", how come we haven't struck down as unconstitutional all the ridiculous prostitution laws that restrict a woman from doing what she wishes with her body.

Dan: We've found something we agree on. Winning your argument by defining your terms is one way of getting it done. Define a fetus as a potential person or anything other than a human being is what a pro choice person has to do to live with themselves. If they couldn't do that and feel comfortable about doing it they wouldn't be pro choice.
I and others who tend toward the pro life position on the other hand don't feel comfortable with that definition.
By the way I really don't expect to change any minds on the subject. I also don't condemn pro choicers as evil people. I am merely trying present the other side of issue so as to achieve an understanding of the pro life point of view.

P.S. There are some circumstances under which I definitely believe the mother has the right to choose an abortion and others circumstances where I feel a little itchy about it but lean toward the choice point of view.

Lobo said...

*A better translation from the original text would actually be, "Thou shall not murder." Which has very different connotations from "Thou shall not kill."*

Thanks for proving my point for me, Mike.

Anonymous said...

"If women have the "ABSOLUTE AND INCONTESTABLE RIGHT to dispose of their bodies as they wish.", how come we haven't struck down as unconstitutional all the ridiculous prostitution laws that restrict a woman from doing what she wishes with her body."

I hold that anti-prostitution laws should be scraped. Further, I'm in favor of voiding the entire ill-conceived corpus of "vice laws". INDIVIDUALS should enjoy the ABSOLUTE AND INCONTESTABLE RIGHT to dispose of their bodies as they wish, be it aborting unwanted fetuses, selling sex, shooting up, or scraping life entirely. To me, attempts to legislate actions done to one's own body such as abortion, "vice" or suicide/euthanasia are religion-inspired efforts to eradicate "sin", and have zero place in secular law.

Marty S said...

Anonymous: Okay we both agree that prostitution laws are bad laws. However, at this point in time they are the laws of the society in many states and if we live in one of those states as members of society we are obligated to obey those laws or we are left with chaos. So while if a referendum were held on the legality of prostitution I would vote to make it legal, if I were on a jury and and a woman had been charged with prostitution and the evidence clearly showed she was guilty I would vote to convict.

suzanne said...

if I were on a jury and and a woman had been charged with prostitution and the evidence clearly showed she was guilty I would vote to convict.

meanwhile the guy who uses her
erm, her services,
is probably scot-free
and on the jury. . .

yu sure see the world in
that old bugaboo of black/white

a simplistic perspective
that doesn't take into account
the complexities of life

while there are women
who use abortion as a m ethodd of birth control
I suspect the number is same
and late term abortions
ARE NOT common
and are not a "convenience"

go read some of the letters at Andrew Sullivan's blog
(the daily dish)
from folks with personal experience
of abortions
or talk to the folks you know
who've been party to having them

my take:
embryos and fetuses
are NOT persons
there are as many reasons
for having an abortion
as there are wmen
who've had them
one size law does not fit all women
or couples
faced with the decision

way too much specious "reasoning"
is offered up
for denying women control
over their reproductive systems

Marty S said...

Suzanne: You completely missed the point of my post. For a society to exist there must be structure which everyone agrees to follow. When enough people decide they don't have to follow the agreed structure the society falls apart. As a juror if somebody fails to follow the law and I arbitrarily decide that this shouldn't be a crime so I am going to vote not guilty, I am committing a crime worse than the defendant by contributing to the downfall of the society. Lets look at a different example. A man loses his job and can't feed his family. He goes to rich neighborhood and robs a house. He is caught and I am a juror. If the evidence clearly shows he is guilty I must vote guilty. even if I sympathize greatly, because he broke the law and I am not entitled to make up my mind that the law applies to one person and not the other. On the other hand if I were the judge my role gives me discretion as to the degree of punishment. Depending upon my evaluation of the likelihood of him repeating the offense I might give him a very light sentence and even suspend the sentence.

Steve Perry said...

Lot of people are missing your point, Marty, and that's because you can't really make it. Every sperm is potentially a person, as is every egg, under the right circumstances.

A sperm is "alive". So is an egg.

Every fetus won't come to term. Some of them that are born will do so dead, or will die shortly thereafter. Some will be severely disabled to the point that they will essentially be vegetables, with little "human" experience past breathing. Some will be born without most of their head and no brain function past the autonomic.

Where to draw the line? That's tough -- but, having worked in a place where some of these not-quite-persons were warehoused, I can tell you that from where I sit, it would have been a blessing to everybody concerned had they not been born.

They are people only in the strictest technical sense, and have no more consciousness, some of them, than a house plant.

I wouldn't wish that on anybody.

All life is not equal and most of us are killers -- if you ever ate a hamburger or bacon or lamb chops, you already acknowledge that. All people are not off equal value. I'd swap ten Hitlers for a Gandhi every time.

If you endow two joined cells with the status of person, then you have mangled the definition beyond recognition. The reason you are having trouble convincing folks is because we know better.

I have two children and five grandsons, two of whom are developmentally disabled and I love them. But both of them are people, and have the potential to live productive and happy lives.

A clump of cells the size a pinhead is not a person. It might be someday -- that's what potential means. You trying to change the definition won't do the trick. If your cat has kittens in the oven that doesn't make them biscuits.

You can believe that the moon is made of green cheese if you want, but all the smoke and mirrors in the world ain't gonna help prove it.

Marty S said...

Dan: What is the definition of a person. Ask a hundred individuals you will probably get a hundred different answers. You have a definition that says a fetus is not a person. To me what counts is that 1) its alive and 2) its DNA is human so its human. There is no guarantee that the fetus will survive, but there is also a relatively high death rate during the first year after birth. Also by the standards many people would use for being "a person" rather than simply of the human species children under age one lack many of those qualities too. Dan: Your entitled to your definitions that you are comfortable with and the fact that they don't agree with mine doesn't mean your irrational or evil. But, if you believe absolutely that anyone who doesn't agree with your definitions is at least one of irrational or evil then you are being a little bit of an egotist. Oh and by the way I absolutely believe that if DNA testing show the child has a major abnormality such as Downs Syndrome the mother who doesn't abort is displaying poor judgment and I would never vote for Sarah Palin.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Marty, society needs structure, but the law is not the only source of structure. It's probably not the most important source of structure.

It's no longer current practice in the US, but it's possible to have juries judge the law as well as the case, and this doesn't make things fall apart. It's a way of making the legal system not be much worse or better than the populace.

Dan Moran said...

Marty,

For a society to exist there must be structure which everyone agrees to follow.

Nope. Society exists fine with people violating the law as suits them. Lot of stupid laws out there. Prostitution, drugs, speed limits --while you can make the case in specific instances for laws in any of those areas, you can also find perfectly good people who visit prostitutes or provide prostitution as a service, who use drugs, and who violate the speed limits. (And, of course, perfectly good people who do none of those things.)

I have never agreed to abide by laws passed by men and women of limited intellect and morals, the great majority of whom I never voted for. I'll abide by those that suit me, and ignore those that don't. So do almost all of us, if they're honest enough to admit it.

You have a definition that says a fetus is not a person.

Never said any such thing. I said that no creature the size of my thumb, with no self-awareness, is a human. A fetus occurs at the 9th week of a pregnancy, at which point the average fetus is still smaller than one inch, and yeah, not a human being.

Embryos, which are what you get before fetuses, are not human beings. Fetuses become human over the course of that period between the 9th week and delivery. When does this happen exactly? Well, not being religious, I can't give you a defining moment, except to say that what seems reasonable to most people seems reasonable to me: no one should be having abortions for casual reasons after the first trimester, and no one should be having abortions without extraordinarily good reasons in the third trimester. (Fact is, some women do have abortions for casual reasons in the first trimester: and I am completely OK with it. "It was inconvenient" is good enough for me in the first trimester.)

But all that's merely opinion. If I were a woman, I think those are the criteria I'd use to guide my own conduct. Since I'm not, my best understanding is that women should be permitted to make those decisions for themselves, by the criteria they deem appropriate. If only women could vote on abortion laws, they'd look a lot different from what a bunch of men would (and did) produce.

To me what counts is that 1) its alive and 2) its DNA is human so its human.

You could detach my thumb, connect it to a blood supply, feed it with nutrients, and keep it alive indefinitely. It would be alive, its DNA would be human, but I still wouldn't permit it to vote.

Dan: Your entitled to your definitions that you are comfortable with and the fact that they don't agree with mine doesn't mean your irrational or evil. But, if you believe absolutely that anyone who doesn't agree with your definitions is at least one of irrational or evil then you are being a little bit of an egotist.

Are you getting that from me? I hope not, it's not how I feel at all. Some very good people disagree with me about extremely fundamental things. I don't care a whole bunch what people believe -- the correlation between "what people believe" and whether they're good or bad people seems close to irrelevant to me. Anyone who hasn't known good and bad religious people and good and bad atheists, good and bad liberals and good and bad conservatives, isn't getting out enough.

Steve Perry said...

It's always where one chooses to draw the line, Marty.

My grandson Nate, who is almost three, is Down Syndrome. My daughter-in-law had the test and knew he did, and elected to have him anyway.

The child laughs, plays, doesn't talk much, but can sign, and shows every evidence of developing enough intellect to eventually live on his own.

He's the only one of the grandsons who has ever cried when I left his house, because he didn't want me to go.

What you or I or anybody else would have done is moot. She was the one carrying the fetus, and she was the one -- along with my son -- who made that choice.

Pro-choice means just that -- not necessarily pro-abortion. But on the other side, the pro-life moment tends to think that the limits should be severe -- in some cases, such as South Dakota, there would be no exception in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother's life, if they could get the law passed.

Or that it's okay to murder doctors who don't agree with them. Pro-lifers tend to support the death penalty, if you look at the surveys. Something of a disconnect there ...

If Jehovah appears over New York City tomorrow and allows that life begins at conception, then you might have an argument. Right now, the only thing you have is a belief, and no evidence that such is the case.

Pro-lifer want to impose their singular belief on everybody. Pro-choicers offer the option.

You can see how folks who aren't big on the Judeo-Christian notion about this subject might not feel you have made your case, can't you?

Dan Moran said...

I wrote:

the correlation between "what people believe" and whether they're good or bad people seems close to irrelevant to me.

Within certain broad guidelines, to be sure. "I believe whites in genreal are inferior to blacks" -- fine by me. So is "blacks in general are inferior to whites." Do you treat individuals decently and fairly?

A lot of people I know think I'm going to burn in hell for all of eternity. But as long as they're not stacking firewood around my house to get the process started, I won't get my feelings hurt. I think they and I are probably going to get eaten by worms, but as long as I don't start thinking their nutrient value for worms surpasses the calorie count of keeping them alive, I don't see they have room to bitch either.

Marty S said...

Dan: I guess in this world it takes all types. I knew a guy who made in the high six figures. He went back to school evenings to study tax law so he could minimize the taxes he payed. One year the government amended his return and gave him a bigger refund than he expected. He checked their amendment decided they were wrong, sent them a letter explaining why they were wrong and a check for the difference because it was his duty as a citizen to pay in taxes what he owed. I don't believe that I would have done the same but I wish I could say I would have.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Oh and by the way I absolutely believe that if DNA testing show the child has a major abnormality such as Downs Syndrome the mother who doesn't abort is displaying poor judgment and I would never vote for Sarah Palin.

Marty, Dr. Tiller's third trimester abortion practice? Was made up of women who had discovered that they were carrying children with conditions incompatible with life. Such as anencephaly, or Trisomy 13 and 18 (which kill children within the first month), or twins conjoined in such a way that separating them will cause one to die right away and the other to just die more slowly. Here are some examples: http://www.aheartbreakingchoice.com/kansasstories.html.

Honestly, I'm not sure what I think of abortion in general. But I do know that the abortions that happen at the creepier time in pregnancy tend to be for the graver reasons (third trimester abortions, in fact, are legally restricted to such reasons, as well they should be).