Speech is action

I’m torn between being sad1 and angry1 about the news I’ve been catching up on since yesterday.

In case anyone thought we needed reminding, the death of one George Tiller, a doctor who performed late-term abortions in cases of clear need, will serve as a tragic marker for the connection between speech and action.

Scott Roeder, the lead suspect, was a fringe follower with links deep into self-described “pro-life” groups. Roeder was present for the acquittal when Tiller was accused of violating state abortion laws. (Tiller was harassed with lawsuits by pro-life groups) He followed websites that tracked Dr. Tiller, listed his home address, place of work, church address, businesses he frequented, and more. He, like many of his friends at his pro-life website, even compared Dr. Tiller to Mengele.

Combine this stalking behaviour with speech from all sorts of prominent anti-abortion campaigners comparing doctors performing abortions not only to murderers, but also to famous genocides, and the outcry from some groups that they don’t condone violence rings hollow- not necessarily because they do condone violence, but because their “strong peaceful protest” has likely enabled not just this killing, but also previous attempts (both successful and not) on the lives of doctors around the U.S.A., and even previous attempts on the life of Doctor Tiller.

Now we see the sad justification for the U.S. government watching for terror threats from extreme right-wing groups. If pro-choice groups attempted to capture and/or enslave men, or rape women with the aim to forcibly impregnate them, we’d be entering the same realm as we have now for conservative anti-abortion groups in the U.S.A. Here’s what the founder of the site Roeder followed had to say on this incident:

George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama administration will use Tiller’s killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name: murder.

Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches.

If yelling “fire” in a crowded room is incitement to disturbing the peace, what is yelling “genocide!” to an inflamed mob? I wish he had more to be worried about than just his crocodile tears over not being able to use “effective2 rhetoric” against abortion.

Comments like this go beyond the point where anyone can be expected to agree to disagree, as much as I am a fan of that policy. This is advocating domestic terrorism and political violence, and is never appropriate. In an ideal world these groups that advocate extreme violence would be treated like the terrorists they are wherever on the political spectrum they fell, but the political double-standard for American conservatives is apparently still in full force.

Still, at least I can credit the social conservatives in our own fair country with not being murdering crazies3.

1 Read: “crying” and “cursing”. 😉
2 I.e.: dangerous and irresponsible.
3Except of course the “Sensible Sentencing Trust”, who think it is appropriate to murder taggers. Damn. Guess that bit of patriotism backfired 😛

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20 Responses

  1. Okay so we all know the killer was somewhat of a nut. He is a murderer. But what about George? Is he a murderer as well? According to his own words he had performed 60,000 abortions (seems a bit high to me – maybe he was gloating). As mentioned in your quote “Abortion is still murder. “. I say both should rot in hell. Murder is wrong and there are no two ways about it.

  2. Sorry, part of my previous comment was misleading. It should have said “As mentioned in the quote you provided”, not “As mentioned in your quote” which would imply you said it. My apologies.

    Now back to Tiller. You said that Tiller was a “a doctor who performed late-term abortions in cases of clear need”. Are you sure of this? How do you define “clear need”? As I read he was only one of 3 doctors in the US who performed abortions after 21 weeks. Do you know what a foetus looks like after 21 weeks. Here is an image for you: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2006/05/fetusL290506_228x247.jpg

    Now tell me that Tiller wasn’t a murderer.

  3. Many on the left purport that they join a party that “measures a society on how they treat their most vulnerable”…or words to that affect (feel free to correct me). So isn’t it ironic that most leftists support the pro-choice camp? Because our unborn have to be our most vulnerable. And they are also a minority (17,000 per annum – a big minority at that!). Now I can understand that if the mother’s life is in GENUINE physical danger that an abortion might be necessary – but putting aside that small percentage of actual genuine abortions – why is it that the left continue to damn society’s most vulnerable? Why? Please tell me. It’s this sort of contradiction that changed me from voting left in three elections to then right (don’t ask me why it took so long to see through the hypocrisy!). I find it genuinely sad that society is prepared to accept abortion in its current form (and to be honest most mainstream parties won’t do a damn thing about it). What does that say about us as a society? As a culture?

  4. While I don’t like the idea of people choosing* abortion, I don’t think it’s equatable with the murder of say, a fully-grown adult. There are just too many questions it’s impossible to definitively answer about the moral status of abortion.

    Even if we accepted that aborting a normal late-term pregnancy was equivalent to killing a grown adult, (which I remain highly skeptical of) Tiller often performed abortions in pregnancies with extreme complications that threatened the health or life of the mother. That’s much more akin to, say, performing a separation procedure on Siamese twins that’s almost certain to kill one but to save the life of the other.

    Frankly, discussing whether Tiller was “wrong” is irrelevant: He is not a genocide and people who compared him to one were irresponsibly inflaming the type of extremists who eventually killed a man who had done nothing illegal, and something that he believed passionately was helping the lives of women whose pregnancies had gone disastrously wrong. Murder can never be excused for that kind of disagreement.

    *But I still accept that it is their choice not mine.

  5. “I don’t think it’s equatable with the murder of say, a fully-grown adult.” – what about comparing the murder of a 21 year old vs a 71 year old. Is it equitable? If so, how does this compare with killing children before they are born (and the 50 year difference in my example is vastly greater than nine months). And what about the scenario where a person is convicted of double-homicide when they murder a pregnant woman?

    Re 2nd paragraph – I already pointed out the scenario of where there is a genuine physical danger to the life of the mother, so we don’t disagree here. Not sure why you bothered to bring it up though.

    Yes, ‘genocide’ is probably not technically correct. ‘Infantcide’ is probably a bit closer. You grasp onto the straw that he has done nothing illegal. But is that the point here? Of course it isn’t. If you think that is the answer to the conflict then you are missing the point by massive proportions. Now like I said, murdering Tiller is also wrong but my point is that abortions are also wrong. You talk of people disageeing with abortion as “inflaming the type of extremists who eventually killed a man”. I disagree. Tillers action inflamed him as you so eloquently described in your post. And you yourself are also guilty of inflammation – you say “Tiller was harassed with lawsuits by pro-life groups” – but isn’t this a peaceful means?. And just because a couple of nutters go too far, why do you group all anti-abortionists like this? Then you refer to “extreme right-wing groups”. Where does right-wing come from? Don’t you mean “extreme anti-abortion groups”? Then you rage on about “advocating domestic terrorism and political violence”. As far as I’m concerned you’ve taken a one-sided view just like the nutters you complain about. If anything you´re fanning the flames at your own end to some extent., but this time you have the law on your side. In the 60’s and earlier it was legal to discriminate against Black people in the US, but that didn’t make it right, did it?

  6. Re 2nd paragraph – I already pointed out the scenario of where there is a genuine physical danger to the life of the mother, so we don’t disagree here. Not sure why you bothered to bring it up though.

    Because as I remember, the specific person I was talking about only performed abortions of fetuses that endangered their mothers and/or were so severely deformed that they would most likely not have lived if carried to term anyway.

    Yes, ‘genocide’ is probably not technically correct. ‘Infantcide’ is probably a bit closer.

    I don’t agree. There are two main issues with this view:

    1) A fetus isn’t an independent person. It relies on being able to live off its mother, and can often endanger her health. Killing an infant after pregnancy that merely needed to be left alone to survive is very defferent from being forced to euthanise a fetus that we cannot say for sure is even a human being in order to save the life of a mother.

    2) This strays into “sentient cat injection” territory. If any abortion at all is infanticide, even cases where you’re choosing to save a mother when you might well have lost both her and the fetus, then we’re saying that potential life is just as valuable (if not more) than current life. Putting that into perspective, there’s a famous arguement about an imaginary vaccine that made cats sentient, and how we’d have a duty to inject every last cat under this sort of framework- if you believe that potential life is so important, you should be just as adamant about helping other animals advance to sentience. 😉

    I don’t think mothers have any sort of moral “duty” to give birth, especially not in situations where it is unlikely to result in life anyway.

    You grasp onto the straw that he has done nothing illegal. But is that the point here? Of course it isn’t. If you think that is the answer to the conflict then you are missing the point by massive proportions.

    The legality issue has some relevance to his treatment, because he’s been treated like he was found guilty of murder rather than made a decision to help many women that was legally sanctioned even if it was morally contentious. While I don’t think the law makes moral decisions, I do think we shouldn’t be killing people because we think it has disasterous consequences. I’m not trying to strawman you.

    Tillers action inflamed him as you so eloquently described in your post. And you yourself are also guilty of inflammation – you say “Tiller was harassed with lawsuits by pro-life groups” – but isn’t this a peaceful means?. And just because a couple of nutters go too far, why do you group all anti-abortionists like this?

    I wasn’t talking about Tiller’s actions at all. This man did not become inflamed through hearing about Tiller’s actions, he became inflamed viewing them through a filter that likened Tiller’s actions to massacre, genocide, and medical monstrosity, all of which ARE crimes, and people have previously claimed they killed to prevent them. That is the key factor here- the implicit assumption that someone needs to take moral right into their hands and do something drastic.

    I am not inflaming anyone that way by saying the good doctor was harassed. And no, I don’t think harassment is peaceful protest. I think it is psychological violence, especially when taken to the level the specific anti-abortion group that opposed Tiller took their harassment: There’s anecdotes in news stories that his colleagues had to shred pizza menus so that businesses weren’t intimidated into not serving them, that nurses at his clinic had their neighborhoods mailbombed with pictures of dead fetuses begging their neighbors to make them change jobs, that houses were blockaded, etc…

    I’m not saying that this sort of action needs to be prevented, but I think condemning it as morally wrong and “harassment” is pretty mild.

    hen you refer to “extreme right-wing groups”. Where does right-wing come from? Don’t you mean “extreme anti-abortion groups”?

    Nope. Did my research. The specific group, and many others like it, that are taking such drastic measures are Christian social conservatives through and through, and often they would meet in churches, or go to their meetings straight after church. While it’s certainly possible to be pro-life and left-wing, the groups I refer to are all right-wing groups.

    In the 60’s and earlier it was legal to discriminate against Black people in the US, but that didn’t make it right, did it?

    But that’s not what I’m saying. A better analogy would be to say it would be wrong for people who supported black civil rights to go out and kill racists. And I think you’ll agree that it is wrong to do that- because we shouldn’t kill people to make political points, or speak like it’s okay to do that. And that’s ALL this post is about. It’s not about villainising the right-wing as a whole, (Because they’re not all extremists) it’s not even about defending access to abortion. It’s about political violence, and this specific example of it.

  7. And I asked the question earlier in response #2. If you believe all of his abortions fit into this category, then I should not carry on. Either you are right and I therefore agree, or you are wrong and extremely gullible.

    Why not? So you think the term “genocide” is a bit closer? Okay, happy to leave it at that.

    Re “The legality issue” – I think I already said “the killer was somewhat of a nut. He is a murderer”, so don’t presume I am defending him. I think my point here is that the legal defence for abortion doesn’t really wash it in this situation.

    Re “inflammation” – talk about splitting hairs! (first para) and you didn’t address my point on lawsuits and grouping (2nd para).

    Re “right-wing”: So then don’t you mean “extreme Christian social conservative groups”?

    Re “civil rights comparison”. I guess I was responding to your earlier comment “who eventually killed a man who had done nothing illegal” but I understand this point you make here now (though not so sure it was captured as such in the initial post…).

  8. And I asked the question earlier in response #2. If you believe all of his abortions fit into this category, then I should not carry on. Either you are right and I therefore agree, or you are wrong and extremely gullible.

    Yeah, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one, especially given I’ve read a decent amount about some of his patients’ stories.

    Why not? So you think the term “genocide” is a bit closer? Okay, happy to leave it at that.

    Nope, I believe both words are irresponsible and implicitly calling for people performing any abortions you label this way to be treated like the worst of killers. That is not appropriate, especially in a country with the death penalty.

    Re “The legality issue” – I think I already said “the killer was somewhat of a nut. He is a murderer”, so don’t presume I am defending him. I think my point here is that the legal defence for abortion doesn’t really wash it in this situation.

    I don’t think you’re defending him. The legality point is more along the lines of “proving it’s completely out of line to talk about killing doctors”.

    Re “inflammation” – talk about splitting hairs! (first para) and you didn’t address my point on lawsuits and grouping (2nd para).

    On lawsuits? I’d heard they were extremely frivolous and it was clear they were going to be dismissed, they just filed them to eat up time and money. That sounds like harassment rather than legitimate protest to me- the difference being that harassment aims to defeat a person, protest aims to defeat (or advance) a cause.

    Re “right-wing”: So then don’t you mean “extreme Christian social conservative groups”?

    Given that social conservatives are almost always on the right wing of politics, no, I don’t. 😉 Many of these groups were also citing fears of gun control, which is a largely right-wing topic in the USA too. I don’t recall any other specifics, but it was certainly enough to satisfy me we weren’t talking harmless pro-life groups that span all demographics and often help out mothers to deliver- we were talking narrow-minded radicals with a lot of hate to go around driving trucks with images of aborted fetuses on the side intimidating friends, colleagues, and even local businesses that in any way supported the clinic. I think that’s a bridge too far on its own, let alone the rhetoric that encouraged the killer into such an extreme worldview.

  9. Just as a note- I found that a couple of your older comments were in the approval trap. I’ve released them for you, but I hadn’t read them previously so sorry if I failed to address anything in them.

  10. 60,000 benefits of the doubt?

    All I said was one term fitted it better than the other. Technically both could be wrong or right, depending on your point of view. I don’t don’t really care about the semantics though, at the end of the day the vast majority of abortion is killing and it’s just plain wrong.

    You language suggested I did. And you keep bringing him up in your arguments against me. I find both wrong, you seem to find only one wrong.

    Your initial context was that those groups were violent. My point being that lawsuits (an example you gave) aren’t.

    Very, very wrong, and again you are stereotyping (possibly along US lines). My parents are very anti-abortion but it would be a cold day in hell before my Dad votes right. There is a huge chunk of the electorate that vote left and are anti-abortion (here and abroad). And I’ll tell you another thing, there is a huge chunk of the electorate that are pro-abortion and vote right. This black and white mentality annoys me about blogosphere. I guess as blogosphere evolves and becomes more popular we may see a more measured approach to issues than some of the extremes that dominate the comments these days.

    I hadn’t noticed any missing, but thanks.

  11. 60,000 benefits of the doubt?

    Yes, given that I read about this from several sources whose accuracy I trust.

    I don’t don’t really care about the semantics though, at the end of the day the vast majority of abortion is killing and it’s just plain wrong.

    I think you’re certainly entitled to think it’s wrong, but we don’t talk the way we do about abortion doctors for professions where there is definite killing of fully-realised people, like in the case of the death penalty, or soldiers, or even police officers. If abortion doctors are “killers”, so are all of these people, and they should be met with even worse rhetoric than the doctors, as their crimes are more definite, and their mitigating circumstances often less clear.

    I’m willing to accept it’s possible that there is killing involved in some cases of abortion, but that doesn’t mean:

    1) That every case of abortion must necessarily involve a killing. I think everyone who’s more liberal on conception than say, a strict catholic, can acknowledge that there are points after conception where “life” may have begun, but “personhood” has not. While I support animal rights, I’d never say a pig has a right to live, for instance. I think it’s better to encourage people to stick to options that ensure the good treatment of fetuses in general, rather than banning abortion.

    2) That even cases that involve killing something you are willing to concede is a “person” and can meaningfully be said to be killed are always wrong. You were willing to concede that Tiller would have been justified if he stuck to abortions of malformed fetuses or in cases of severe health risk. In reality nobody is completely “pro-choice” or “pro-life”- this is why I think “safe, free, and rare” is a good model.

    You language suggested I did. And you keep bringing him up in your arguments against me. I find both wrong, you seem to find only one wrong.

    You challenged me on legality, I answered. I apologize if I didn’t interpret you the way you wanted to be interpreted, but I am only human. 🙂

    Your initial context was that those groups were violent. My point being that lawsuits (an example you gave) aren’t.

    The fringe of these groups are violent, which is encouraged by the harassment and lack of respect for the humanity of their opponents by the core of these groups. I don’t think they can completely disown yourself of the actions of the radical fringe when they are themselves crossing considerable ethical lines.

    Very, very wrong, and again you are stereotyping (possibly along US lines). My parents are very anti-abortion but it would be a cold day in hell before my Dad votes right. There is a huge chunk of the electorate that vote left and are anti-abortion (here and abroad). And I’ll tell you another thing, there is a huge chunk of the electorate that are pro-abortion and vote right. This black and white mentality annoys me about blogosphere. I guess as blogosphere evolves and becomes more popular we may see a more measured approach to issues than some of the extremes that dominate the comments these days.

    I suppose it could be possible they’re pro-life evangelical christian leftists worried about gun control, if I hadn’t also remembered there hadn’t been comments about voting in some of the stuff I read. Seriously, just because something is a stereotype doesn’t mean it’s never true.

    I never said that there aren’t pro-life leftists. I said that this specific group of people were a right-wing radical organization. I can name them if you like, but I’d prefer not to because I don’t want to give them any incidental promotion.

    And I’ll tell you another thing, there is a huge chunk of the electorate that are pro-abortion and vote right.

    Pro-abortion? I don’t think there are many people who think abortions are super-awesome on their own. They just think that because there’s a woman attached to said fetus, she might have some rights too. 😉 But yeah, there are pro-choice righties, bless their socks. 😉

    I think I confused you somehow into thinking I was talking about all pro-life organisations rather than specific radical ones. Rest assured, there are actually a couple pro-life organisation I don’t object to and whose work I would support. (I’m thinking specifically of ones that provide help to women who choose to keep their babies when they might have aborted. This is the cool thing about being pro-choice- you support either choice. 😉 )

  12. Re 60,000: A bit gullible don’t you think? That’s a bit number.

    Re Talking about abortion doctors: I think you’ll find that the anti-abortion side want it talked about in the same manner. That’s the point. It isn’t, so your point holds somewhat. Sadly. At least the state (re death penalty), soldiers and police are killing those who had a choice in defence of themselves or the populace they represent. I don’t necessarily always agree with their right (to kill, though mostly in defence supposedly) but it is a HUGE difference to killing those who had no choice nor chance.

    Who defines the line between life and “personhood” and is it really relevant when “personhood” (what a horrible differentiation!) always eventuates, which is the point. Actually, what is “personhood” and who coined that term?!

    I don’t think I mentioned an out-clause on malformed foetuses (I haven’t read back but I am certain I didn’t), though I did mention the scenario where the mothers life was in genuine danger.

    Yes the violent actions of fringe groups are also wrong, but I was specifically referring to your point on lawsuits, which isn’t a violent action (regardless of who initiates the lawsuit).

    Yes there’s always an element of truth in most stereotypes, those anyway that are garnered over a long period of time. BUT why do you look at the stereotypical US example only (mention of gun control blah blah). Why not look at a more mainstream view, closer to home (which also applies to the US). Try to think less of the vociferous lobby groups and more of the average voter, poised with a choice every 3-5 years. (I even gave my own (left-leaning-middle-of-the-road) parents as an example). Lets leave behind the crazy creationist evangelicals and hairy arm-pitted lefty feminists and look at somebody closer to the middle…my point is left and right do not (even closely) relate to pro- and anti-abortion. If someone is anti-abortion, you can’t assume they vote right. So don’t say so unless you name the group, and that they clearly claim to be right-wing (and if so state this in your initial post instead of upsetting readers like me :-))

    In your final two paragraphs you hide behind semantics and wordings. A method used by those pro-abortion/pro-choice to assuage their guilt 😉 I am anti-abortion (both negative terms?) and pro-life (both positive terms?). I don’t care for the label used to suit the moment, I know what I believe in. Do you?

    You had come across reasonably at least in your above reply (despite my above counter-replies!) but you really let me down with the final sentence. Immediately prior to that I was dishing out kudos (to “I’m thinking specifically of ones that provide help to women who choose to keep their babies when they might have aborted” – this I wish to promote, more so to look at the option of adoption) but in what book does the label “pro-choice” consider those who have no choice? In this label the “choice” only refers to the choice of the mother. To imply it includes the choice of the life-inside seems a desperate attempt to feel less guilty. Again, I don’t mean to be patronising, and maybe the smiley face at the end meant you were deliberately having me on, but if so, it didn’t seem in line with the rest of your response.

    PS Sorry I haven’t mastered the block tags but hopefully you can follow my replies to you lengthy earlier replies!!

  13. Re 60,000: A bit gullible don’t you think? That’s a bit number.

    The clinic has been in operation for a while.

    Re Talking about abortion doctors: I think you’ll find that the anti-abortion side want it talked about in the same manner. That’s the point. It isn’t, so your point holds somewhat. Sadly. At least the state (re death penalty), soldiers and police are killing those who had a choice in defence of themselves or the populace they represent. I don’t necessarily always agree with their right (to kill, though mostly in defence supposedly) but it is a HUGE difference to killing those who had no choice nor chance.

    If I pick a flower, am I a killer? A flower is much more complexly “alive” than a zygote is at conception. A flower has no choice nor chance to avoid being picked. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to pick flowers.

    (To be clear: I’m not saying that at all points infants or whatever in utero are able to be aborted without moral complications, I’m just saying the opposite is clearly untrue, and there are cases where there is no worry, and it’s very difficult to legislatively point out when or what will be which type of case. In the case of doubt, there remains a separate moral constant: The state should not force a woman to maintain a pregnancy.)

    Who defines the line between life and “personhood” and is it really relevant when “personhood” (what a horrible differentiation!) always eventuates, which is the point. Actually, what is “personhood” and who coined that term?!

    There’s some complex thought behind my position. Bear with me if you’re interested. 🙂 Much of it is original, and I didn’t consciously take the word personhood from anyone, although it is used in pro-choice literature elsewhere. Personhood was actually a concept of mine reading science-fiction: We’re humans, but we’re part of a wider category of “people”, which includes any sentient social animal. (or perhaps a plant if that’s possible :P)

    Bacteria is life. Viruses are life. Plants, insects, mammals, reptiles: It’s all life. The question is, what is life that we can say has a guaranteed right not to be killed? Some people would answer any animal. Those people have a consistent argument against very late abortions, but they better be living in a place where the street is swept free of cockroaches and the like. 😉

    I say the distinction is when life becomes a fully-fledged person- a sentient being with characteristics a personality and capable of planning into the future, complex logical thoughts, language, and the imposition of second-order desires over first-order desires. Asking for all of those at once is a bit much though, so I’m willing to extend the community of people to include anyone of a species that typically matures into personhood, so long as they’re born. Being born is the arbitrary but important line: We measure age from birth, we consider birth the point by which a person should have a permanent set of names, we start using clothes and cover for infants at birth, we can interact with them, and whether or not we yet realise it, we begin to treat infants as full or partial people after birth. From a character-building perspective, thinking of infants and young children as full people with things to learn is useful. From a physical and safety perspective, I would hope anyone treats children and young infants as partial people who are still weak, do not have their full senses, may be lacking cognitive skills. (for instance, very young children don’t have much of a concept of “later”. They know events change, but they only really think in terms of the present)

    In actuality I suspect infanticide is no crueler than a comparable killing of an animal for meat. (Although I know of several very inhumane practises carried out in that fashion, so I’d rather not see infanticide) I’m actually compromising what I logically think for the community of human emotions- which are powerful and need recognising to some degree. Infants are people not because they immediately display every chacteristic of a person, but because their learning of those characteristics and their vulnerability resonate with us so much.

    But- and here’s the big thing- not much learning goes on in the womb. If you resonate so much with that you insist it’s life, I respect that, but I just can’t say that’s enough for me to permit anyone to force a woman to carry a pregnancy anymore. Sorry. 🙂

    this I wish to promote, more so to look at the option of adoption) but in what book does the label “pro-choice” consider those who have no choice? In this label the “choice” only refers to the choice of the mother. To imply it includes the choice of the life-inside seems a desperate attempt to feel less guilty. Again, I don’t mean to be patronising, and maybe the smiley face at the end meant you were deliberately having me on, but if so, it didn’t seem in line with the rest of your response.

    I think you’ve read something there that I didn’t mean when I was writing again 🙂

    I don’t think the ability to choose even develops until very late in the womb, if then. A lot of the cognitive abilities we as adults take for granted as part of a “choice” take years after birth to develop. This is why I refer to unknowns: We can’t entirely know what goes on in the brain of a young child seeing we all forget by the time we’ve learned to express ourselves. Maybe when we can read by magical in-utero brainscans or something.

    But regardless, not being a person, they don’t have the ability to interact with us and tell us. If they feel anything about death, there is no way for them to let us know, and no way for us to reliably read it. You get my point here? If there is any choice, it is not one comprehensible in the world of people. I can’t accept that they have a right to life based on who they MIGHT become. The same logic would make birth control evil, and overpopulation a moral necessity- both things that just don’t make any sense to me.

    I don’t think that a zygote/fetus/whatever is involved in any way in choosing to abort or not, so I agree with you that we’re only talking about the choice of the mother. I do, however, think that not aborting is a good choice whenever the mother feels like she can manage it, and gets the support she needs to make that choice if she wants to. That is why I said I support pro-life organisations that actually help people who do not want to abort: Because they’re acting on pro-choice principles, too, and this is the point at which I think any reasonable person should agree on what to do. They’re giving the mother a real and meaningful choice to keep her baby to delivery, and the choice to be a parent should be as sacred as the choice to avoid pregnancy or impregnation, in my book.

    I’ll be more explicit than before: I don’t think anyone who doesn’t think that delivery is a choice for some women can reasonably call themselves “pro-choice”. People like that ARE pro-abortion. To be “pro-choice” you have to believe that there are situations where either call will make sense to women, and that she is the best person to judge, not you or I from our armchairs.

  14. If you believe that 60,000 mothers were genuinely in danger of losing their own life then….oh dear, and we are talking about 60,000 from one abortionist right?

    Re flower analogy. What does a flower amount to? Where did you come from? A flower or a zygote?

    “The state should not force a woman to maintain a pregnancy.” Nice turnaround. So what should the state (or we, as a society) say about about those who are conceived yet not yet born? That goes to the heart of the debate. I agree that the health of the woman should be considered, but I think we’ve moved on from that scenario. You seem to fail to look at the unborn. This is where we differ. You are pro-convenience, I am pro-inconvenience. (New labels?!?!)

    Re personhood response. Well if you agree bacteria is life then surely a zygote is. I guess they bigger question is what we can morally kill as a society, and what we can’t. Obviously we differ on the lines here.

    Re “But- and here’s the big thing- “. Okay I guess here is where we differ (again). For me life is defined by the reasonable potential (to become a human being at birth). For you there is a line to be drawn on what the mother prefers. Is this accurate, or have I misrepresented you? My definition of life may not be enough to convince you to force a women to continue with her pregnancy. Okay, maybe so, but where did the decision initially come from? From the life inside? Or from the decision of the woman? As foolish as it may have been…? And when I say “woman” here I am really referring to the mother and father. I’m not blaming the woman solely here, usually it is one or the other or both, but never that of the one inside. Hence why I have chosen my stand.

    I am glad you support groups who promote alternatives to abortion, but why should this be limited to pro-life groups. Shouldn’t – if it is such a meritable idea – also extend to the state (as representative of us , as a fair society)? Why not we find common ground here and promote this on a grader scale?

    You talk about the unborn as not being able to convey their own thoughts – and I agree with this in that they cannot – but why make the decision for them if you don’t know? Especially a decision from only the mother, as you put it. As I said earlier, why cannot society defend these no-voice victims based on what we know what they will become (people). Something we know to be certain (that they will be born as humans, or ‘persons’ as you prefer).

    In your final statement you become more explicit and I appreciate that, You mention that the the woman is the best person to judge, I disagree. There are 3 people CRITICALLY involved here. The no-voice unborn, the mother, and of course, the father, When all 3 agree to abort, I will join your side. Otherwise, I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt! Believe it or not, the mother is not the most negatively impacted here!!

    And of course I’ve put you in an impossible decision since one of the three has no voice. But I guess that’s my point at the end of the day. Why kill on the advice of one when there are others with vested interests?

  15. This is where we differ. You are pro-convenience, I am pro-inconvenience.

    Pretty much. I think you can’t see there’s even a choice if you start making it terribly inconvenient, and that inconvenience starts prompting women to take measures into their own hands.

    (And by the by, one of the most popular searches for this site from the US is “coathangar abortion”. I hope that reinforces my point somewhat- if a woman is that determined to have an abortion, the only impact that the state will have is whether it’s a safe one)

    For me life is defined by the reasonable potential (to become a human being at birth)

    This is one of those positions that comes with really big consequences. Basically if you believe potential life warrants a right to life, you not only have to condemn any and all forms of contraception, (and support incredible overpopulation of the planet) you ALSO have a moral obligation to advance any capable form of life to sentience. Arguments from potential really only gel with a orthodox Catholic “pro-life” perspective, (and even then the argument from potential necessitates views about animal rights that orthodox Catholics just do not hold) which I find seriously problematic.

    My definition of life may not be enough to convince you to force a women to continue with her pregnancy. Okay, maybe so, but where did the decision initially come from? From the life inside? Or from the decision of the woman? As foolish as it may have been…? And when I say “woman” here I am really referring to the mother and father. I’m not blaming the woman solely here, usually it is one or the other or both, but never that of the one inside. Hence why I have chosen my stand.

    I’m sorry? As the woman is the only person who is actually pregnant, she’s the one who has the ultimate decision about whether she wants to keep incubating this human life she’s growing. Many woman never decide to keep at all but get an early abortion after realising late that they are pregnant.

    The father only comes into it in certain circumstances. Sure, his feelings matter if he wants to be involved in her life or wants to be a parent, but he is not directly affected by the pregnancy and he does not have ultimate control over it.

    I am glad you support groups who promote alternatives to abortion, but why should this be limited to pro-life groups. Shouldn’t – if it is such a meritable idea – also extend to the state (as representative of us , as a fair society)? Why not we find common ground here and promote this on a grader scale?

    I don’t think it should be limited to pro-life groups or even just mothers who might otherwise abort. More support for new parents in general from society at large would be super awesome. Parenting and community groups would be a good place to start, and I think the government should be offering more financial support in some cases, too.

    You talk about the unborn as not being able to convey their own thoughts – and I agree with this in that they cannot – but why make the decision for them if you don’t know? Especially a decision from only the mother, as you put it. As I said earlier, why cannot society defend these no-voice victims based on what we know what they will become (people). Something we know to be certain (that they will be born as humans, or ‘persons’ as you prefer).

    Because the unborn whatever is not the only one with anything at stake here. A person has a right to control their own body. That comes into conflict with the fact that sometimes it can be considered more ethical to take a pregnancy to term. Which moral principle is stronger? I’m not sure. That’s why I think it has to be left to women to decide.

    There are 3 people CRITICALLY involved here. The no-voice unborn, the mother, and of course, the father, When all 3 agree to abort, I will join your side. Otherwise, I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt! Believe it or not, the mother is not the most negatively impacted here!!

    I don’t think you can include someone who can’t talk in a decision nor expect them to be consulted. Perhaps that’s injust, but it is the world we live in and we have to deal with that.

    I don’t think the father has a right to make a decision. I’d encourage a woman to consult any potential father that was still part of her life, but I don’t think he has to agree. Likewise, a woman doesn’t get to veto my desire to use contraception during sex or whatever else I might do to exercise control over my own body, even if it indirectly effects her.

  16. By the by, on the whole “Whoah, 60,000” front, I found a link into this post today that has a good rebuttal of the numbers argument. In short: Only 5% of total third-trimester abortions are due to being left too late, and it’s entirely possible that Tiller was turning down more than one in twenty anyway, meaning that anyone who got past his criteria was probably honest error.

  17. ‘inconvenience’ is a fact of life, and as for selfish women taking matters into their own hands, well aren’t they already? That’s the point!

    Re coathanger comment – maybe then you should focus on your previous comment on giving women non-abortion options than, rather than using this “evidence” to support your views.

    “As the woman is the only person who is actually pregnant,” – this is true based on nature but is she the only parent? Interesting that you say the father “only comes into it in certain circumstances” and “is not directly affected by the pregnancy”. What planet are you from again? Sorry for that mocking response but FFS, I think you know the whole matter extends well beyond physical aspects.

    “More support for new parents in general from society at large would be super awesome. Parenting and community groups would be a good place to start, and I think the government should be offering more financial support in some cases, too.”
    – we agree.

    Interesting difference here: “Because the unborn whatever is not the only one with anything at stake here. A person has a right to control their own body.” – so therefore the unborn does have something at stake? DO they have a say then? This is really my point. Why ONLY the mother? Does the unborn child have a right to control their own body, and it’s no fine line between ‘control’ and death.

    “but it is the world we live in and we have to deal with that.” – exactly!! that’s why many people defend the no-voice!

    If the father has no right to a say, then what is fatherhood? Should a divorced father pay child support to a mother who looks after the children? Even if they are no longer part of the mother’s life they must still have a say in what is also their responsibility. Sorry Ari, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    Re the 60K number. So you agree now that not all 60,000 were genuine?

  18. Re coathanger comment – maybe then you should focus on your previous comment on giving women non-abortion options than, rather than using this “evidence” to support your views.

    Umm, I’m so passionate about that stuff that it was some of the first things on this blog. I can post more about it if you like, but writing new things is easier for me when I’m trying to manage opinion writing, fiction writing, coding, and real life at the same time. 🙂

    I don’t recall you being in any disagreement with me over non-abortion options, and even though we do okay in New Zealand, there’s still room for improvement, like the previous government showed.

    “As the woman is the only person who is actually pregnant,” – this is true based on nature but is she the only parent? Interesting that you say the father “only comes into it in certain circumstances” and “is not directly affected by the pregnancy”. What planet are you from again? Sorry for that mocking response but FFS, I think you know the whole matter extends well beyond physical aspects.

    I am from the planet where men don’t immediately gain the ability to veto decisions that effect their partners more than them. 🙂 Like I said, the father’s opinion can be important- assuming he’s around and actually engaged with the mother’s life in any way- but he doesn’t get to decide for her. She’s ultimately the one who it directly effects, so she’ll decide just how much he matters to her decision.

    I’m not saying men are only sperm donors, but I am saying some men act like they want to be only sperm donors, and if they suddenly appear out of nowhere after months of not being there for the potential mother, what right have they earned to have any involvement in the decision at all? Unlike the majority of cases with motherhood, fatherhood is- at least to me- something you earn with your devotion to a family, not just something that’s thrust on you. Essentially, I say you’re a father because you’re willing to adopt a child- naturally yours or not- as part of your family, and care and protect them. There is nothing physical about the act of fatherhood, so when we’re talking about the physical act of motherhood, we have a big handicap in understanding it fully even if talking about a perfect relationship where both parties are absolutely sickeningly cute for each other. 😉

    so therefore the unborn does have something at stake? DO they have a say then? This is really my point. Why ONLY the mother? Does the unborn child have a right to control their own body, and it’s no fine line between ‘control’ and death.

    Having something at stake (a potential future) does not equate to a right to life. I agree that of course the mother should be considering the zygote/fetus/unborn whatever, but I don’t agree that her right to health, her right to life, and her right to control her own body are subsumed by this little one’s mere potential to grow up as a person. Arguments for the right to life from potential, as I pointed out above, tend to be inconsistent with the orthodox views of both pro-life and pro-choice camps, in that they require being incredibly anti-violent, pro-animal rights, and anti-birth control.

    If the father has no right to a say, then what is fatherhood? Should a divorced father pay child support to a mother who looks after the children? Even if they are no longer part of the mother’s life they must still have a say in what is also their responsibility. Sorry Ari, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    I think paying child support should generally give you some degree of entitlement to co-parenting, yes, assuming you aren’t into beating up your family or anything like that. I do think child support, like democracy, isn’t ideal, but it’s better than anything else we’ve bloody well tried. 😉

    You can see my posts on male birth control if you want some idea of what I think about men not having so much choice as women in terms fathering things, but I think it probably ought to be our responsibility to have as safe sex as we can if we don’t want to be fathers. Or non-vaginal sex. 🙂

    Re the 60K number. So you agree now that not all 60,000 were genuine?

    Are you skimming my replies or something? I admit the possibility that cases that couldn’t be told from a genuine case might have got through. Statistics are statistics, you have 60,000 people cross the road and some of them will die. 😦 The question is: Do I think that everything reasonable was done to prevent cases that failed a “sanity check” from going ahead? And the answer to that is yes.

    I don’t think there would be very many such cases, as the 5% figure is national for the U.S.A., and is probably mostly accounted for by clinics without medical criteria on late term abortions.

  19. “I don’t recall you being in any disagreement with me over non-abortion options” – correct.

    “there’s still room for improvement, like the previous government showed.” – I’m intrigued….

    And where did I say men have a veto? It is about not virtually ignoring them which you implied with ““only comes into it in certain circumstances”” – Please stick to line of debate. If you mean some men, then say some men. Don’t take an almost absolute view if you don’t mean it.

    “mere”?? – Life is mere? ‘Personhood’ is mere? That is where we differ. As I said earlier, you are pro-convenience. I see this as blindly selfish, backed by – at best – shaky arguments. You know what an unborn child becomes, so I can’t see how any dodgy justification for abortion justifies it’s death.

    “Are you skimming my replies or something?” – possibly, your replies are long!! Of course the sanity check thing is a red herring, but – as I have said earlier – genuine abortion is where there is genuine risk to the mother’s life and I trust a fair doctor with that decision. But I can’t think of much more than that to define as ‘genuine’ in a reasonable sense. As I am sure you know, the majority of abortions are performed because they are inconvenient to the mother (and/or father) and that is why the current situation is referred to “abortion-on-demand”. Sad, but true.

  20. And where did I say men have a veto? It is about not virtually ignoring them which you implied with ““only comes into it in certain circumstances”” – Please stick to line of debate. If you mean some men, then say some men. Don’t take an almost absolute view if you don’t mean it.

    I was talking about those two things separately. As in- sometimes men aren’t around or involved. And when they are, they only get input, not a veto. If you think about a joint decision, the most common way to make a joint decision when both people are in equal positions is for both people to have a veto. In this decision men have to take second fiddle. 🙂

    Life is mere? ‘Personhood’ is mere?

    No, potential is mere. Potential is common, because on its own it cannot justify rights or entitlements. It’s the ability to suffer and to participate in society and to assert your rights that define rights and entitlements.

    Life isn’t mere, but as I’ve repeatedly said above, there are very few people who can claim the consistent belief that life alone justifies the right to life.

    You know what an unborn child becomes, so I can’t see how any dodgy justification for abortion justifies it’s death.

    Draw me a picture of a non-contradictory viewpoint that justifies a right to life for a pre-birth life, and then we’ll talk.

    But I can’t think of much more than that to define as ‘genuine’ in a reasonable sense. As I am sure you know, the majority of abortions are performed because they are inconvenient to the mother (and/or father) and that is why the current situation is referred to “abortion-on-demand”. Sad, but true.

    I think you ought to have a better proposal that doesn’t exclude medical causes if you want further restrictions. And frankly, I think outside of groups like Right to Life, nobody really wants to revisit the law here because largely speaking it works. The “limited gatekeeper” or “sanity check” we have is the closest thing to a filter for “genuine” you’re likely to get.

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