The Problem With The Abortion Debate

Posted on July 28, 2011. Filed under: Abortion, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Canadian Politics, Internet Etiquette, Politics, Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Religion, Social Justice |

Ed.-Read Pt.2 of The Problem With The Abortion Debate here.

Perhaps it is that me and my beautiful wife are going to be welcoming another member to our already large family this December (#5- if you’re counting)-lately I have been really getting annoyed with the tone of the debate over abortion.  There are the “pro-life” people- forever calling people who disagree “anti-life”, “pro-abortion”, “abortion advocates”, and the like.  There are those on the “pro-choice” side forever bringing up abortion clinic bombings as though every “pro-lifer” is a domestic terrorist– or the constant and droning use of the term misogynist at the drop of a hat.

There are words flying across both sides of the fence that make any reasonable treatment of the topic impossible.  It boils down to two very important and very reasonable positions.  On the one hand, we have the pro-choice camp who believe women need to have ultimate control over their bodies and be given the same opportunities as men.  This seems quite reasonable.  On the other side of the fence lies a group of people who believe in the primacy of existence- that once you create life there is no return policy.  Quite reasonable as well.  Both miss the point when boiled down to this kind of generalization.  Both miss the point when staring down the opposing position.

As  a Pro-Choice advocate, I am most familiar with what frustrates me when trying to explain my

This Graphic: Kind of True....Not Very Helpful.

position to people who have a laundry list of preconceptions, misleading talking points and bad logic regarding what it means to be an “abortion advocate”.  I know some Pro-Life people, and I can sympathize with their feeling that they are generalized and marginalized as well.  This post is meant as a treatment of what frustrates me most when discussing abortion- how I feel that my position is mistreated and misunderstood by the Pro-Life camp.  They surely feel the same, and I’m happy to make room for that conversation as well.

Conversation stopper #1:”You are anti-life”

I am not oblivious to the human cost of abortion.  I do not objectify human lives.  I am a father to four young children.  I have a fifth miracle on the way.  I cannot look into my children’s eyes, or stare at the ultrasound picture hanging on my fridge, or touch my beautiful wife’s bulging belly without being reminded that a pregnancy is a human being.  It is a unique and special person waiting to meet the world.  I don’t diminish the value of that miracle. It is the reason this debate is so rightfully charged with emotion.  We are talking about a human life- a life that deserves to be realized.  I cannot stress this enough- I know what is at stake, and I know that if others saw a pregnancy through the eyes of a loving parent, abortion would be much less common practice.

I also know the sacrifices I happily made to make those four lives a reality, and will continue to make in the future.  I know the sacrifices my wife made- greater than my own- physically, mentally, and financially to bring our children into this world.  Parenthood is not without its costs, but it is a job with infinite rewards.  I value each of those lives I have been entrusted with completely.  I am far from anti-life.

Conversation Stopper #2: “You only care about a woman’s right to murder her fetus.”

Being pro-choice does not mean that I only want women to have the choice to abort or not abort.  Being pro-choice means valuing the ability to make choices.  It means advocating for policies that make the choice to carry a child to term easy, realistic, and reasonable.  We are talking about a choice- with abortion- with the ultimate consequence.  We are talking about a choice- to bring a child into the world- with a mountain of costs: physical, mental, financial, social, emotional.  If we assume, as I do, that most if not all women are cognizant of the gravity of the choice that faces them, the best way to make the choice clear is to give them a sense that there are few reasons not to choose life.

For women contemplating putting a child up for adoption, making financial and social resources available is key.  The cost of prenatal vitamins, medical check-ups, ultrasounds, nutrition, time off work, and delivery can make adoption an unrealistic choice for an expectant woman.  Add to this the additional health effects of pregnancy and the emotional burden of carrying a child, and choosing to carry a child to term only to put that child up for adoption can seem like a choice akin to climbing Mount Everest on your hands or on your elbows.  Neither less painful, reasonable, or daunting.  This is no simple choice.

For a young woman planning her future around a University degree, giving real choice means having a support network at her disposal.  Flexible class schedules, blended campus and distance education, institutional daycare, and government financial assistance would turn a choice between two futures of lost potential into a reasonable choice to bring a life into this world.  As it stands, the demands of higher education on finances and time make pregnancy and parenthood a sacrifice of lifelong proportions.  This is not a simple choice.

For people living paycheck to paycheck, one unbudgeted expense away from no electricity, bankruptcy, or homelessness- an unexpected pregnancy is impossible and irresponsible to manage.  We are giving these people an impossibly difficult choice.

If we truly value life, if we want to impart on people how much society values a human life- we

This Caption: Also Kind of True.....Also Not Very Helpful

should be willing to attach real value to that potential life.  The pro-life movement could drastically reduce the amount of women choosing abortion simply by committing ideologically to the true meaning of its creed- that human life has infinite value.  It could, in a sense, put an end to the idea of “pro-choice”- it could truly and irreparably take the concept of choice away from pregnant women by making the choice so easy as to be absurd.  Like choosing between having your fingernails pulled out or having a manicure.

Conversation Stopper #3: “You don’t believe there are any bad reasons to have an abortion.”

To an average Pro-Life advocate, Pro-Choice means that you think abortion is reasonable under almost all circumstances.  This is absolutely absurd.  To almost every pro-choice person I know there are very few circumstances that we would consider “good reasons” to have an abortion.  Most of us would never consider abortion an option for ourselves.  If any of my friends approached me for counsel about having an abortion you can be damn sure I would give them a million good reasons to keep a child- at the very least carry the pregnancy to term.

From a moral standpoint, abortion is not a morally ambiguous act.  It is inherently a moral wrong.  As such, there are no “good reasons” and “bad reasons” to have an abortion.  There are reasons all right- each one loaded with a powder keg of negative consequences.

What we need to ask is are there invalid reasons to have an abortion.  The answer to that question is a bit more nuanced and difficult than simply “good reasons” and “bad reasons”.   Are  there reasons we might consider “invalid”- ones that show that it is wrong to give someone the choice to govern their reproductive system?
If you are asking me if it might be alright for our society to limit abortions to a set amount of “good reasons” and refuse for “bad reasons”- quite honestly- I have to begrudgingly say “No.”

I don’t make that statement lightly, and I am not oblivious to how callous the ramifications are- but I stand by it nonetheless. The reasons women choose to have an abortion, “good” or “bad” as they might be- are valid in the context of their lives.  There are real financial, physical, and emotional responsibilities that accompany pregnancy and parenthood.  For better or for worse, we live in a society that almost makes the choice for the potential mother.  We lack the will and the resources to give women the ability to choose adoption, or choose to become unexpected parents- but some of us feel it entirely reasonable to take the one choice that we do give women away.

I’m not standing here prepared to argue that abortion is a victimless act- my personal beliefs are clear on this issue.  I cannot stare at the ultrasound picture on my fridge right now and say in good conscience that I don’t value the life that my wife and I are bringing into this world- or that I don’t see that little person as being human.  This is not an easy stand for me to take.  This is why I get so angry when “pro-life” people argue from ignorance and assume that I and others are heartless assholes who flippantly devalue human life without any care at all.  It is decidedly not the case with me, and certainly not for many others either.

The way to stop women from making “bad choices” is education.  It is taking the time and resources to prepare them to be healthy sexually active adults.  It is making birth control inexpensive and accessible, and teaching people to use it.  It is proactively targeting money and resources to give women more choices when they are faced with an impossible decision.  It is meaning it when we say we are “pro-life”- making that word mean more than just “until you come out of the womb”.

I’m not telling you that we can end abortion.  I’m telling you that we can take away many of the “bad reasons”, the bulk of the objections- and give women a real choice.

I’m saying we can all be Pro-Life, and all be Pro-Choice.

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67 Responses to “The Problem With The Abortion Debate”

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being pro-choice is being pro-life – because it’s not ignoring the quality and value of living

Let me first admit that as I am responding to this I have not read past the first paragdtaph. Not because I think I know what you’re already saying but for time constraints but I will

Let me clarify what I mean when I say “abortion advocate” or “pro-abortion”. I do not mean that I consider someone who would claim the pro-choice position to want every pregnancy, or even a good amount of pregnancies, or even any pregnancy to end in abortion. What I mean is the person supports the right for a woman to secure an abortion. I realize if I were to use the prefeted term “pro-choice” you would know exactly what I mean. But I honestly believe the terms pro-life and pro-choice soften the issue and wash away what exactly the issue is. I think it is significant because sometimes the significance of an issue can be lost in the terms.

For example if instead of slavery we talked about a mandatory worker program would it carry with it the same imagty of the hell blacks experienced in early America? I don’t think so.

I also believe the desire to distance one’s self from the term abortion is a signal being sent by one’s conscience. I mean, why xo we refer to the abortion issue as pro-choice, describing the fact that there is a decision? Why aren’t other issues referred to like that? Why isn’t someone who believes there should be choices for public schools called pro-choice? Or the person who supports being able to choose your own religious system, or lack of called pro-choice? I think it is telling that all language describing what the choice leads to is attempted to be removed by those on the pro-choice side, as if mentioning what the choice is illegitimate.

I’ll respond to your comments later, after you have read the whole post. I agree that terms mean everything, as Random mentions in her brief comment. I would argue that “Anti-Choice” is the better term for abortion activists.

Might I also propose to you that we can coin a new internet meme: Barron’s Law- The longer George and John debate a given topic, the probability of a reference to American slavery approaches 1.

I’m fine with the term anti choice, I’ll take it. I am definitely anti that choice.

I would actually like to see the word choice removed from the abortion issue. Id prefer pro abortion and anti abortion. But for the reasons above.

Its funny about the slavery thing. I was going to use an ethnic cleansing referemce but I didn’t want people to think I was linking the two.

Ps, I did not pose the last post because I think those on the prochoice side do not believe there are bad reasons. I just wanted to hear some. I have always heard prochoicers say they aren’t for all out abortion but have never heard any reasons actually given, it was always a generalization. No more no less.

Correct me if I’m wrong but your position seems to be that abortion is inherently morally wrong because it ends the life of a human being yet every reason a woman uses to choose abortion is valid?

I guess I’ll correct you then. Yes, I believe abortion is inherently morally wrong. No, I do not believe that every reason a woman uses to choose abortion is valid. Does that clear things up?

Ok, then could you clarify what this means:

“The reasons women choose to have an abortion, “good” or “bad” as they might be- are valid in the context of their lives. ”

What reasons for abortion would you say are invalid and why? Are you then in favor of making abortion illegal when a woman’s reason is invalid?

I’m glad, JivinJ, that you have taken the time to actually engage in dialogue.
When I make that comment, I hope that the reader takes it at face value and does not load it with the preconceptions they have of my position.
I think, logically, we can say that a reason that is valid in the context of someone’s life is not necessarily objectively valid. It is valid to the person who holds it, or at least that much should seem self-evident. I’m not arguing that women can give any reason and it would be objectively valid, I’m saying that the reasons women give for terminating their pregnancy are valid to them, and the best way to end abortion is to understand and address their reasons. I am advocating “meeting people where they are”.
Just like we don’t cure cancer by stopping the symptoms, we don’t cure abortion by legislating an end to the practice. We need to address the causes, not the symptoms.

As to your other questions, you can see the responses to the first question in my responses to John’s post (link at top), and I answered the second question in the post you are commenting on. I don’t come by that position easily, but in the absence of any rational alternative choices, I think we are left making that decision (whether to permit abortion) in a vacuum.

Thanks for clarifying that comment makes more sense now.

I’m not sure cancer is a apt comparison to abortion, or at least I think there are more apt comparisons in other issues, especially if we agree that abortion is inherently morally wrong.

For example, if someone beats their wife, we don’t say “The reason they beat their wife is valid in the context of their life. We’re not going to cure spousal abuse by making spousal abuse illegal. We need to address the causes, not the symptoms.”

Sure, I think working to eliminate the reasons why women choose abortion is a worthy goal but I don’t think it’s an either/or. Also, I think one of the reasons so many women choose abortion is because they don’t really see abortion as taking the life of a child – it’s legal so therefore it couldn’t really be that bad, right?

Every now and then we hear about a mother who kills her born children because of economic or social circumstances but it’s nowhere near the 1.2 million abortions a year.

In your comment in John’s post, you write “So unless I am willing to offer free childcare, financial support, free tuition, medical benefits, and the like…I really do not feel equipped to force my preferences on others. ”

If abortion is inherently morally wrong (like spousal abuse) you don’t have to support the child to support abortion being illegal in the same way I don’t need to marry and support someone else’s wife to support a law against spousal abuse. I’m assuming you’re in favor of forcing your non-wife-beating preferences on wife beaters.

Now JivinJ,
Surely as someone who took the time to dissect and show the fallacy in several Pro-Choice analogies you must understand better than most that no analogy will work in the abortion debate. This is not an issue that lends itself to analogy.
I can sympathize with the extension of logic in your spousal abuse analogy but I cannot see the ultimate logic of the comparison. Even you must understand what I am driving at here, as you seem so brilliantly equipped to dissect the analogies of others.

In the case of abortion, we are ultimately talking about competing moral goods (or evils), and thus spousal abuse cannot work as an analogy. I value human life immensely; and this certainly causes me some difficulty when we talk about abortion. I think human life has value- so much so that I am willing to support social programs on my own dime that help to realize the inherent value of human life. I value life more than my freedom from taxation to support others.
Ultimately you and I both value life more than liberty. You in that you reasonably believe that women do not deserve liberty and control over their body when another human life is involved; and I in that I believe that life is more valuable than my liberty and freedom to have ultimate control over my hard earned money.

When I speak about “preferences”, I’m speaking about the battle between the moral good of a human life vs. the moral good of freedom. Just because some people cannot put any value on freedom to control our person does not mean that it has no value. Surely you must be capable of understanding this position since yours is the reciprocal. The key to ending abortion is to take away all the causes and not the symptoms. If we end abortion in a vacuum, all we do is show that we don’t support abortion- not show that we value human lives. You are advocating a “war on abortion” akin to the “war on Drugs”, where the end goal is valuable but ultimately unattainable and unrealistic.

My personal feelings on this issue are something I’d like to parse carefully at this point- I am aware that the fullness of my position will “poison the well” in the same way those of the hard Pro-Lifer’s and Pro-Choicer’s do. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll continue to address your questions and answer honestly- I just want this to remain as divorced from the emotional baggage as is possible given the gravity of the topic at hand.
I see you advocate for the same as a device for arguing with “abortionists”.


If abortion is inherently morally wrong (like spousal abuse) you don’t have to support the child to support abortion being illegal in the same way I don’t need to marry and support someone else’s wife to support a law against spousal abuse. I’m assuming you’re in favor of forcing your non-wife-beating preferences on wife beaters.

A more apt comparison would be to say you don’t have to be willing to support government funding for marital counseling or women’s shelters to support a law against marital abuse. If you really want to help lower the amount of women being abused by their husbands, you’ll support ways to prevent that abuse from happening in the first place, or help those women escape their abusers. In the same way, if you really want to stop abortion, there have to be other support systems in place to help prevent unwanted pregnancy or help pregnant women obtain the means that will assist them through the pregnancy and help those children that result get the basics they’ll need early in their lives (whether the child is put up for adoption or kept by the mother).

Either way, there’s one word I like to use for people who wish to deny others an avenue to alleviate their suffering while being unwilling to support other ways for those afflicted persons to receive assistance: “assholes”.

Aside: I haven’t seen it posted here, since we’re mostly reasonable people and I’d like to assume that it goes unsaid, but I’m guessing that all individuals here have no problems with abortion in cases where the mother’s life is at serious risk if the pregnancy continues. Am I correct with that assumption?

Some people are against abortion for any reason (including in rape/incest cases).

Some people are against abortion for any reason other than mental and physical health (so rape/incest or threat to mother’s life okay, mutation/illness in the child, but nothing else)

These are usually deemed the “good” reasons – so anything that anyone for choice would accept are good reasons.

and reasons that smaller and smaller groups would accept descend into “bad” reasons – that is usually things like gender selection or projected appearance of the kid (eye colour, hair, attributes)

me, I go for no restriction at all on the reasons, the reason matters not a bit when the woman has the choice – choice cannot be restricted, otherwise, it’s an infringement of the woman’s personal sovereignty.

What I’ve argued here is that we wouldn’t need restrictions if we tried to remove all the social obstacles facing pregnant women- I’m saying that women choose abortion because our society makes that choice almost necessary for some women.

Can people please stop referring to children as miracles. The process of human conception and birth is well known and documented and is not a miracle.

I didn’t say conception was a miracle. I didn’t say childbirth was a miracle. I said my children were miracles. Last I checked, each of them was not separately ubiquitous or common. In the case of my three boys, the part of me that hates cleaning the floor around my toilet is thankful this is an established fact.
Thanks for the comment….

Could we allow for metaphorical miracles? Can we allow the speaker a little poetic license?

I saw the sunrise, today, soft and gentle and golden, a miraculous presage of another miraculous day…

Is that okay, so long as I acknowledge that the sun does not actually “rise,” is not actually made of gold and it is a miracle only metaphorically speaking? If so, I’d like that option.

Just sayin’…

Hi Dan, good to hear from you. I’d be interested to read your response to my criticism below.

As for the “miracle” terminology, just like my reply to George, it’s all about the often implied supernatural connotation.

One can still marvel at the beauty of a sunrise and gaze upon its wonder on another awe-inspiring day…

Words can be wonderful, but so easily misunderstood. ; )

Well, just speaking for myself, I’m okay with a little mystery and a little poetry in my life, but I’m also okay with natural explanations where appropriate.

And I know a bit about words being misunderstood, as well as misunderstanding…

When your life in on the block you don’t want a debate, you want to live period. Debate over a sandwich, what car to drive, or color to paint your house. Sane people don’t debate over life. As unspeakably hideous, and monstrous as all the wars fought in the history of earth, the death toll amounts to a pale 390,000.000 compared to the 50,000.000 anually slaughtered helpless babies each year; by monsters who walk this earth as people. I keep wondering if they have mirrors in their houses. What did they do to deserve this butchery. People like to sanitize their misdeeds; some pretend the holocaust didn’t happen…. that there wasn’t 200 years of slavery obliterating the consciousness of the whole race in this country. Why don’t we try picking on people who can fight back—we always go for the most helpless vulnerable, voiceless.

The Negroes, you could hear their groans, and nightly inconsolable sobbings for their anguish by day: see their distressed visages by the light of day, so that ended in one of the ugliest, most bitter civil wars ever fought by a nation against itself. There were witnesses the maddening cruelty metted out to Jew in the concentration camps of Germany. Their audio and visual flares of distress were not lost on the heartless onlookers. That bloodletting came to an end as well. When the safest place in all of creation has turned into the greatest killing field imagined, who can pity the human race anymore, whether they who do the deed or they who feign ignorance to what is transpiring. We think we have never have been more enlightened, but never have we plummed deeper, darker subterranean depths of depravity. Never more educated, yet never more ignorant, or ever the savage. I know there are people who take pleasure in killing not just animals, but specifically humans…. they like killing people. It gives them a rush. I had no clule there were so many of them.

It’s no wonder liberals generally object to wars. There’s one prevailing reality on any battlefield. You get to see your enemies, you engage in a contest, it requires stomach. Does someone want to tell me that 50 million women find their lilves threatened by those horrid little babies who want to be born each year. I actually find that hard to believe it. And if it’s just for fun, that is even more perverse. Though I were numbered among the casualties, yet would I not feel sorry for myself were nature to lift up its might and overthrow the world entire for this unremitting bloodbath against the last sanctuary of angelic innocence.

We shall never find a sufficiently potent euphemism to scour away the blemish of this dark record upon humanity. I wonder that the sun can still shine upon such a hideous lot as we’ve become. I look at my kids, and don’t care how dependent they are on me for support, I accord them every right as a full grown adult human being. I may have some authority over them but never to undress them of their humanity.

To do murder is wrong in any light you contemplate it. To murder the unborn is wrong magnified a million times because at that stage of growth mankind is: 1.) in his most vulnerable, helpless, harmless, angelic state you may ever find him. He is never closer to heaven 2) he is in the place where if no other place in the universe be a safe place, the sacred place of the chamber of life—the mother’s womb should be safe. It should be the moral and humane sanctuary of amnesty against violence; yet it is turned into a darkest most cruel chamber of death ever devised; where the greatest betrayal since Judas’s played his treacherous hand is played out by those who should be the guardians of these deserving helpless lives. Without these elements of naked aggression, and savage violence against the very embodiment of innocence, and purity Hollywood can have no horror film. These are the very core theme elements of what makes for the Hollywood blockbuster horror movies, but here actors need not apply, for all, is all sadly too real.

I respect your emotional investment in this issue, and I agree that abortion is a scourge on our society.
Though I disagree with the conversation cancer that you use to defend your strong (and I think not entirely unreasonable) position, I’m sure your strong vocal advocacy for the unborn extends to the kinds of actions I mentioned here that would save millions of lives every year- like government subsidy of nutrition for expectant mothers, free medical visits, ultrasounds and delivery, better workplace and educational provisions for pregnant women, free or affordable childcare and the like. It is a pleasure to meet someone who works tirelessly for the rights of infants and the unborn to live in a world where they are given all the necessary benefits and advantages that the inherent value of their lives demands.
Even though I think your rhetoric is damaging to the cause of saving the millions of lives that are at risk every year, I am sympathetic to the rage that you feel that others don’t see the issue as clear cut as you do. I am sure that your strong social advocacy for the kinds of social programs that would turn the tide against the feeling of being trapped and forced into terminating a pregnancy make up for your unhelpfully (but understandably) emotional diatribes.
I must point out that your response illustrated quite clearly all three conversation stoppers I mentioned in the post. Almost like you didn’t read it.


You are definitely capable of crafting some very pretty prose. However, I’m not very good at writing, so I’m just going to say this:

Go fuck yourself.

I’m willing to wager you hold no illusions as to why I might say that. Now, if you’ll be so kind as to actually READ George’s post and comment on the subject at hand instead of spewing out a well-crafted diatribe that provides multiple examples of exactly what George was trying to start a discussion about, I’m sure we can have a thought-provoking conversation.

(disclaimer: I haven’t actually read the comments past Newgenesisres’s first comment yet, and I see there are already over 30 comments in this thread. I just can’t pass up a perfect opportunity to be a prick!)


Z, I’m with you on that One.

My! Such hostilities! Yo Princess, how’s it go’n wit you man? Y’know, you feel’n aiiiite? I mean, is everything all good with you? Yeah! You did forgive your parents for dropping you on your head, Right? A’meein, stats say, a little disaffection can be overcome. Y’know, cause a’just plum ain’t fell’n the love. Eannnnn’ if’n I was you, I wouldn’t be mak’n no run at be’n no prevaricator, cause your disclamer; it got neither wings to fly, nor leg to walk.… hell boy, it drop like a leeaad balloon. I could see right through you. If’n there ever was a shin-kicker that’s what you is bouy—you a honest to goodness, real live shin-kicker….you got you a career there. That’s yo mieal ticket.

Anyway, whiles you comm’n up in here ring’n ma biell. You look’n you some porse, buoy? Cause’n I got you some prose right here. All dis drama! What? You some kind’a prima donna, deva, drama queen? Dat what you is? Why don’t jus you go close the front door! Got too much draff happn’n up in here a’ready. You know, I think you gonna be a’right though. Cause you got it goin’on, babe. A’mean, Y’gonna be aiiite. You gonna be good meein. Yeah! Anytime you feel like bring’n it, feel free….caus’n I got you some mo prose. Yeah!

I said I’d bring it, when I bring it, so why don’t you just take a chill pill.

Yo George, Somebody done hurt my sensitive feelings, Yeah; but I’ll get over it.

Disclamer: { All meant in good fun}

Do not adjust your perception; it is laser-like in discernment. I could not get beyond the first couple paragraphs of your treatise before crafting a response. I respect your setting rules of conduct on this forum. Rules are important, and I understand if you choose o block my response in light of the fact that I’m probably going to violate them again. This time my breaking your stated rule is done to make a statement. What you are seeking to do is tame an animal that by it’s nature can’t be tamed. Some subjects do not lend themselves well to a studied response; but the gutteral. A glass falling perilously from the edge of a table within your reach, you do not study; but out of the primacy of some involuntary reflex you engage with immediacy to intervene. In some cases a disengaged studied response can be as offensive to one’s sensibilities as a strange obscenity that walks, breathes and has the gift of speech. I never wish to have my senses to this subject so clinically sanitized of the very human element that informs our humanity….. to feel, to empathize, to act.

Men sent to hold Outpost Harry in the Korean War reportedly had to spray insect repelant into you’re their nostrils to endure the offense presented by the sheer staggering human carnage around them. The rotting decomp of bodies piled four deep assailed their senses. Some people will not have morphine to dull the pain that lashes them to any vestige of humanity they can still know, though the knowing is painful. Were your hands held to the flame, would you smoke a cigar and have a polite conversation? I can see this is not a forum for my participation. When an old man on the main streets of America, crossing that main street to get a bottle of milk is mowed down, and motorists stream by unperturbed as well the pedestrians pass him by unaided as though he were no more than a heap of disheveled cardboard; we took a wrong turn somewhere. I could tell you about 150,000 conversation stoppers that happened today in the abortion resorts across America but, …….that might end that conversation as abruptly as their lives were ended.

“If Alexander Gardner, the famous Civil War photographer has not brought bodies of the the dead at Antietam, and laid them in our door-yards and along streets, he has done something very like it.”—Matthew Brady. America knew little of the real casualties of the civil war until Alexander Gardner featured them in the Dead at Antietam photography exhibit. We say to look at the carnage of the current incivil social war is poor taste, but that’s only because we don’t see them when we strengthen our’s and the hands of those who do such demoniacal deeds and would seek the shelter of all manner of euphemisms for those deeds. Men who do these things should not be stroked but shaken by the lapel. You say my comment is diatribe. Would that I could find the diatribe of those who issued them against the enslavers of my fore-parents; I would frame and hang them on my walls; they helped extricate them from egregious bondage. So often our primal response is the correct one and if we dull our senses to it a great evil can be accommodated and walk among us.

There is a reason people do not carry a violin, or flutes or harps into battle; but a trumpet, to cry alarm, for what is done is alarming. That in time when we say there is peace more human lives are eviscerated than all the carnage of wars fought by men and demons have destroyed. This is alarming and cannot be discussed with cool detached placid equanimity for I feel and wish to feel the loss of every life so taken. Were I falling into a pit, cool detachment is not the kind of aid I could appreciate or welcome, but a man who knew the viscous terror of my eminent demise, reaching with animation to secure my welfare. Such a man I would know; such aid I would welcome. The true peril of lepers is their compromised sensory functions that no longer informs them of such perils that they navigate; so they loose their limbs, and before long their lives.

I do apologize for operating in ignorance of your rules; sincerely appreciate your patience in even responding. I just feel horribly compromised by moderating my views on these things. I cannot do so and be at all frank with you or any else.

You have not violated any rules on my blog. There are very few of those.
I implore you to read the entirety of the post I wrote, and not merely post a guttural response without understanding my position. You would also realize that I am not talking about “blog rules” but “dialogue suggestions”. I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I can eradicate abortion by changing the debate, but I am saying that there are things that you and I can both do that would save lives. Impassioned insistence that you need not listen to or understand my position is exactly the reason nothing ever gets accomplished, nothing gets done to save those children you so desperately plea for.
Rest assured that I am as committed as you to ending the murder of children, I just see the importance of understanding and addressing the objections of those who stand on the other side of the fence. Passion is commendable, but being proactive is what is necessary.

George, Understand why your position on abortion is so troubling/wince inducing. You claim abortion is a scourge, it shouldnt be, etc. yet you think women should be able to abort. Imagine if someone said “I think men who beat their wives are wrong, it is a scourge, but I think they have their reasons and we should make sure they have the ability to beat their wives.”

Or to cite the Barron Law, “personally I am opposed to slavery, but I think white people should have the right to own slaves”

Now, the question is why on earth, if you acknowledge–as does medical biology, that at the point of conception, there is a new wholly unique living human being created; and that abortion–as a point of fact, all rhetoric aside–kills an innocent (again as a point of fact, they are innocent because they have committed no crimes) human being?

You have to understand how utterly misguided that is. And when I see people oppose language in the debate that brings out what abortion actually does because ‘it’s unfair’, it makes me fairly certain that it is an effort to suppress their conscience.

You need not explain the difficulties with my position. I understand all too well that we are talking about human lives. I understand the difficulties with my argument, and I understand the difficulties with your argument.

I am saying that abortion is a fact- it happens, it will continue to happen, and there is nothing we can do to eradicate it. So what are we left with? We are left with the ability to change our society in ways that demonstrate the primacy of life. We can attack the cause, instead of focusing on its most grotesque and disheartening symptom.

Listen, we permit war, and I don’t think you can reasonably argue that the reason that this is different is because the casualties are not innocent. We permit war because we value other things equally with innocent human life. Things like freedom, liberty, and ultimately the lives of others. I don’t want to get into a convoluted dissection of metaphor, I understand that babies are not enemy combatants. This is not about “innocence”- this is about human lives. There are those who hold certain rights wrongly above the primacy of life, and then there are those who hold certain rights wrongly above the primacy of life and refuse to admit it.

So we are clear, I acknowledge that abortion kills babies. I’m not going to dance around that issue. I’m glad that you agree with me on at least that much, though I’m rather disappointed that you only value life just enough to hold a very strong opinion about it.

I agree with Darric on the usage of the word “miracle”. The biological process of reproduction is not a miracle and the uniqueness of an animal, human or otherwise, does not make it a miracle either. If we refer to the uniqueness of everything that exists as a miracle, it sort of makes the meaning irrelevant. After all, you are unique, just like everybody else.

As far as morality is concerned, if those on each side of the abortion issue agree that it is inherently wrong regardless of the reason, how do we justify the nature of unsuccessful pregnancies? The quantity of unsuccessful pregnancies far outnumbers the quantity terminated by humans. How could we possible excuse a deity for such a result without concluding that the deity itself is morally wrong?

That being said, theists, please don’t make the lame excuse that it’s just part of god’s plan and we’re not to know it, or that we’re not to apply human morality to god.

I think those who promote the position that a fertilized egg is a human being worthy of legal protection as a “new wholly unique human being” do so with an emotional bias. It’s a zygote and has the potential to develop into a fully formed animal. Nature is not just emotional about the process. The self-important nature of man often concludes that humans are superior to all other animals on the planet just because we wrote a book that says so.

Ultimately, I agree with George’s conclusion in the post about providing the proper education regarding the responsibility and consequences of sexual behavior. Unfortunately, there is much stigma associated with human reproduction. Maybe a change in the attitude to the subject can better prevent the need for abortion in the first place.

I guess we can continue to argue about what constitutes a miracle all day. Speaking as a father, my children are miraculous to me, and I don’t particularly care if anyone agrees with me. I understand why that might come across as flippant, but I intended the term to be more emotional and less literal.

The keys to solving this issue are about talking honestly and making realistic solutions. Like sex education, birth control, social programs; meaning it when we say we are “pro-life”.

I can respect your emotional viewpoint towards you children, George, and can accept a definition synonymous with that of wonder or marvel, but all too often the word “miracle” invokes the involvement with the supernatural. (

I find it interesting that there seems to be much disagreement in the interpretation of words and expressions… maybe something I’ll write about after this discussion has had a chance to develop.

I’d like to ask the question that beggs a voice (does anyone think for a minute that the supernatural is uninvolved here?) but the answer almost seems self evident. What man has accomplished on the function of less than 10% of the potential capacity of his brain is simply amazing. To think however that we somehow have prevailed to dispose of the mystery of life is something of a reach beyond our grasp.

We may know, even understand the bio-physiological conditions that sustain life, but that is not to say we understand life. The conditions for life is natural, but life is supernatural. Life is God. A couple thousand years ago he tried to explain that, but I think we may have been otherwise occupied. The explanation he offered was frankly himself, and then proceeded to do the miraculous. He said, I am life, life is light… literally; which by demonstration he showed by transfiguration—shining brighter in candlepower than the sun itself, and my father is the Almighty…(like energy…electricity) which is all the same thing. When you slow light down you get matter—the stuff of which stuff is made, when you accelerate matter you get light or pure energy—electromagnetic radiation. He said all things are made of my Father and they are made by me.

Light being electromagnetic radiation, the brain’s biological function converts chemicals into electricity, and magnetism. From the first electric spark of life’s conception until our demise this symphony of electric impulses regulate our biological entity and informing our thought life by so many millions of electrical charges coursing through various zones throughout the brain. Feel free to test this by putting a magnet the strength of 1.5 teslas or greater next to your head the next time you want to have a coherent thought and judge the result, or have someone judge it for you. That magnet will disrupt the electric impulses which streams your thoughts, and you will not be able to think.

The elusive quantity of life is that and much more. As our congenital response is one of aversion to the knowledge of God, he considers our relationship to him one of alienation. For all intensive purposes God is an alien, by virtue of our estrangement to him, though he considers us the same kind of life that he is—light.

Wow – Deepak, is that you?

This rambling is so far off tangent and insulting to anything related to science I really don’t know where to begin. I supposed it all began at “life is supernatural”.

I’m not sure where you got the notion that we said we have “prevailed” over anything…
Have you even read anything on this page?

If you reach beyond your grasp you probably won’t understand what you pull in.

Tony (I checked out you blog and found your name),
First, let me say that I don’t begrudge you your faith.
You are a gifted writer and have a way of saying things that is entertaining and easy to read. I don’t loose much sleep over off topic comments, and I understand and feel for your position that God is never off-topic to you. Fair enough.
This post is about abortion and the state of that debate- as well as trying to offer solutions to what is a horrible part of our modern society. Your last comment, though poetically expressed, really does nothing to forward the spirit or goal of my post. I won’t remove it, but I will ask you to try to respond to the post as though you are speaking with people who don’t share your spiritual convictions.
The truth of the matter is many of us do not share your faith. I am an atheist, as is Z, as are several others who comment here. Many of us do not share your belief that there is anything supernatural about our existence. I would also say that though this feeling of spirituality is deeply meaningful to you, it is not necessary to the topic at hand. If we cannot come to a sense of value for human life outside of a Christian God, I fear that we will accomplish nothing.

You know, I was kinda hoping you’d give more credit for being capable of a more clandestine maneuver if I wanted to conceal my identity. Did you think I commented using my blog name to remain anonymous? Some of my most valued friends are atheists, and most admired persons I know, for their integrity. I say that only because you mention the demographic dispositin of your bloggers. Frankly I was really laboring under the misapprehension that I was commenting on a question raised regarding subject of the miraculous or the supernatural with respect mechanics of human life conception.
With all fairness I should say I much admire your fair-handedness at refereeing your comment contributers. So saying you will admit my first couple comments were limited to the wider question of abortion until the intrigue of this other….. well you call it “off topic” question was pursued, upon which I took the liberty to chime in. No intention on being a gate-crashing disruptor.

Much resgard to you and your colleagues.

I need to kick myself for not congratulating you on your fifth miracle…….um….uuummmhh, I mean your fifth child that is on the way. You have my undying respect bordering on naked fear. I have only two with no regrets, but I am somewhat acquainted with financial and human toll involved, although I’m not sure its fair to quantify the value or children by those markers.

happy blogging.

I apologize that my last comment seemed passive aggressive. I was not accusing you of pseudo-anonymity, only trying to tell you where I got your name as to not arouse suspicion that I was being a crazy internet stalker.
Please forgive my lack of clarity.
I didn’t realize the point of your comment until you mentioned it just now. It wasn’t labelled “in response to ZQTX”, and since I read and respond to comments from my dashboard, I missed the obvious connection. My apologies. I also wish to apologize for singling you out for off topic remarks without doing the same for the others.
It irks me when others do that (I’m looking at you JBJ) and here I stand guilty of the same.
I hope this is not the last time you comment here, I think- after reading your blog- that your style and voice would be welcome here. I’m sure you and I might have some fascinating discussions.
Oh, and thank you for your well wishes. My wife and I are quite excited and proud (not to mention busy!).
All my best.

You know, you just keep baiting me when you say those things, and I can’t help myself. Well you’ve placed yourself in pretty respectable company. Albert Einstein maintained that view, but couldn’t quite understand why he wasn’t making more progress beyond his heretofore galactic contributions. The world and nature is more unintuitive than we are wont to think. It is at the same time however plenty big enough for varying opinions, I for one respect yours, but make no assumptions that you agree with the one I entertain.

mutual respect

Absoultely no appologies necessary. Didn’t mean to confuse you as to what or whom I was directing my comments to. I’v just been at this blog thing for not quite 3 month and stil working a what appears to be a steep learning curve. Believe me this wont be the last time I confuse in this way.

No offense at all was taken in all the exchanges. You Guys are a soft sell compared to the “American Heathen” forum. After them, I’m good with everybody. Hey a little necessary roughness is needed to maintain some dynamism is the discourse.

Appreciate all the understanding you’ve extended so far.

Happy parenting. I’m still scared of you. I had 12 brothers and sisters, and the most any of us managed to was the magic number of 3 children. You must be a millionaire of something.

Now that we have dispensed with niceties, did you read the whole post?
I’m sure you don’t agree with me, but I’d be happy to discuss it. This is an issue that needs to be talked about…and as civilly and purposefully as possible.
I have read a few posts on your blog, but find them daunting to comment on, as they don’t really enter into my universe. I don’t see me as your target audience. In time, perhaps, you will have a more topical post that I can sink my teeth into.

George, first let me say hi, and sorry for taking so long getting back. Needed the time to squirrel away enough blog posts to last for the duration of my upcoming vacation. Now I can just post them daily, instead of worrying about composing them.

I know your interest is in garnishing helpful insights for the worthwhile cause of mending fences between what seems irreconcilably opposing sides. I’m going to cast the first vote for you getting the Nobel Prize, and humanitarian of the year award package.

Some things need be said, may not be agreeable, but ought to be said. I’ll try to tone down the rhetoric so as not gender conversation disconnects. I somewhat disagree with staging of elements of the argument which this forum is seeking remedial treatment for. You can only euphemize this subject so much before it becomes misrepresentational. If you’re exploring for a solution, you can’t forget for what problem that solution is that you’re seeking. I think one of the major obstacles that has to be addressed in an issenistivity to life…particularly the unborn, but not to the exclusion of the mother’s welfare. We’re awash in a culture of violence, almost seems to a point of no return.

Marked by our predisposition to curiosity, we’re not generally receptive to restraints, like so many nets cast about our liberties to explore the nature of our world, or to pursue the intrigue of philosophy. We are ever striving to cross or redefine such boundaries we encounters. I think as parents, or those fortunate enough to be afforded by proxy the observation of the maturing process in children from earliest infancy to adulthood, we are rewarded with an unexpected benefit. Like an unlooked for letting in of daylight, or fresh air into a room dank, and jade-heavy with overtones of sometimes crass sarcasms; children point the way back to such a place whence we have come, perhaps arguably drifted. If receptive, they without the motive of forethought, may offer to us perhaps our last best chance to revisit a place long lost to us, and with no little regret.

However fashioned, we are equipped with sensory endowments to aid us in exploring our world, whether of philosophy, or nature. One needn’t make any over cogent arguments to the reasonable minds, that our proclivity for exploration has unveiled for our benefit some of the grandest inventions, and pointed out many hopeful vistas of potential roads ahead for us; but we cannot with credulous candor deny that it has also opened vexing boxes of Pandora to us…witness this debate to stem this incalculable human toll. That the question of taking an innocent life could come to be debated is one of those boxes. One of our philosophers have noted that, you peer into the abyss, and it returns the favor; I might well add, it may not just look into you—it may very well suck you right into it. Bear with me a moment longer, I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic. At this point let me say….. SHUT-UP Z, I know exactly what you’re thinking. Anyway….it’s been argued that discretion (and probably a healthy dose of just the naked fear of evil) is the better part of valor. Sometimes the best advise we can offer is simply the first line of response, if we have one, that is…the un-pretended recoil of a shudder at the thought that something could possibly be contemplated. Call it “knee jerk” reaction if you want, but sometimes that’s just what’s called for….the only realistic response is horror. For the subject at hand though, that might be too late. We have handled that subject over long, and become all too familiar with accommodating the ugly consequences. We look too long into dark things, we get sucked in when our eyes become adjusted to the dark, and we are no longer repulsed. Uninterrupted, this process can continue till we arrive at utter darkness that can be touched. Aldous Huxley once wrote that “No man can concentrate his attention upon evil, or even upon the idea of evil, and remain unaffected . . . . The effects which follow too constant and intense a concentration upon evil are always disastrous.”

Soldiers are required to surrender enough of their humanity in order to be efficient at taking lives on the frontlines of battle, but making the readjustment is a tough sell. Once the mind becomes acclimated, coming back home is has a big question mark over it. So we explore, and little attention is given to the benefit, or potential curse of the sensory adaptation till it become confirmed as the curse of sensory deprivation. You wonder that a well refined, and cultured man of urbane trappings steeped in erudition might sit at table befitting his taste, sipping exotic tea from uncommon china, his children playing about his feet; …………wonder also that the camera might pan across the globe to a scene of ghastly contrast. Here a man has his throat cut by a machete, his executioners catch the victim’s blood, which his children are forced to drink, then summarily in turn they are hacked to pieces themselves. Would this were idle imaginings, but this is a specter played out not in the backyard of our refined gentleman, but more remote, and no less real places these days. The kind of mind that appropriately on the battle frontlines handles with remoteness and objectivity the immeasurably precious mortality of man with such unceremonious finality, has been assimilated into general peacetime global population, and I fear under the guise of enlightening our curiosity through knowledge, beginning in the medical community fist and then ubiquitously shifting from that context to less noble ends. The more transparent the previously obscure issues of life sustaining biophysics become the less sensitive we’ve become it’s tenuous nature, and the less sensitively we handle it.

O.K……ENOUGH ALREADY! So here is my objection…….

Men are not regularly confronted with pregnancies, nor gestational terms and child-birthing. It’s not clear to me just how women can complain that they do not receive equal treatment regarding the rights over their bodies as men receive. One body is not better than the other, they are inherently different. Furthermore as to what disparity in treatment of one sex over the other is meted out, I am to no one’s surprise unaware. I can understand one gender preferring the accommodations of the other gender’s physiological endowment as opposed to their’s, but to say you desire equal treatment is preposterous, because they are not equal. How can you render equal treatment, or desire it for things that are not equal but just simply different?

Other thing is, you can’t legalize the fun out of people. Sex is fun, and they do it by the proverbial side of the road, risking exposure, cause there’s all the thrill too to boot too. Why do you think bungee jumping isn’t fading, or those amusement parks where risks are packaged in two dollar packages per ride. People want risk, but you can only outrun the odds for so long before you have to man-up.

In the long run, and sort, I thik a mindset that accommodating to this preceedure that takes a life, and this denial about the viability of life before birth seriously has to be clarified. Depending on which venue we are discussing the solution will take a different shape. In china the reasons are an institutional provision more so than I think in the US although we do not have an admirable track record in listening to the better “angels” of our nature with respect to good will for our fellow man.

I think is just a real challenge to remain hopeful about a agreeable solution in the near future, as far as it rests with man.

I’ve written this thing cross-eyed with sleep deprivation so you might have to excuse so many typos in it.

I have to say that I am at the very least impressed by the fact that you can acknowledge that this is a question of competing (even if not equally weighted) moral goods.
Most pro-Life people have a very hard time opening their eyes big enough to see both sides of the fence.
You and I might disagree on this issue, but my position is that if we realize that this issue comes down to two sides arguing for a noble outcome with an unarguably heavy cost, then the issue becomes that both deserve protection at the least possible expense to the other. There are things I honestly think can be done to make this as much a reality as possible, and I have for the most part laid them out here. I do not think that the answer is black or white. I think that we need to look at laws and policies that save lives while respecting the reasons women choose to terminate a pregnancy. I’d like to see reasonable restrictions on abortion, but not at the expense of all other factors. I cannot and will not support laws to make abortion illegal under any circumstances unless there is something being done to help those who are most affected by that law. I don’t like that we do virtually nothing at present to prevent an abortion, and I would like to see us doing more, but I don’t see making abortion illegal as being a solution to the problem- unless we agreed to do it on principle and strip all authority to enforce it, like we do with other laws at present.


Sorry about not writing a response sooner. I was away from my computer and didn’t really feel like typing everything I’m about to say on my phone.

Ultimately, this issue revolves around choice, not life. I love the idea you and John were discussing about changing terms as it is quite apparent that “pro-life” is a blatant attempt to skew the perception of the discussants. Furthermore, while I am pro-choice, I often do find myself encouraging people to see the pregnancy come to fruition. Why? Because, ultimately, I do think that a baby is a wondrous – miraculous – thing. Having said this, it should be readily evident that there are those who would not be able to truly care for a child, whether it be due to immaturity, financial situation, etc. I do support your assertion that, in order to cut down on the number of superfluous abortions, we must provide sex education, education in order to comprehend the gravity of the situation, affordable birth control, etc.

Here’s where I disagree with you, George: as you are well aware, there is absolutely no justification for an abortion if abortion is an innate moral wrong. How could there be? There is no philosophical justification in your advocating something that you think is morally wrong. Irrespective if you believe that a woman has a fundamental right of choice, this still does not permit the violation of a moral good. [Insert Barron’s Law here] It is incoherent to promote abortion if you think abortion is morally wrong.

I am pro-choice because I do not think a fetus is a “person”. If I thought that a fetus was anything more, I could not reasonably justify an advocacy of taking that life. I do not wish – in any way, shape, or form – to denigrate your children, please understand this. I do not doubt for a moment that your connection to your children, even from the time your wife was pregnant, was/is a truly beautiful one. Likewise, I do not doubt that expectant mothers who chose to keep have a similar experience. But this experience is not with the fetus. This experience is with the expected baby, with the expected treasured moments that will be had, with the knowledge that you will soon become a father. Any emotional attachment is not with the fetus, but with the impending relationship that will ensue.

Because I do not think that the fetus is a “person”, I think your assertion of abortion being a moral wrong is false. It is morally neutral. This claim hinges on whether or not the fetus is a “person”. Yes, it may be “human”, but is it a “person”? How do we define “person”? Surely when we conceive of person-hood in our mind, we do not attribute the quality with genetics, with physiology. We attribute person-hood with experience (at least the capacity to experience), with consciousness, with emotions. We do not think of a cluster of cells as a person. A cluster of cells does not feel, does not have consciousness, does not even have the capacity to experience – it is merely a cluster of cells. Cells do not have fundamental rights. As Harris would say, “Every time we scratched our noses, we would be committing a mass genocide.” We could not advocate stem-cell research as this would be morally equivalent to human experimentation. [Insert Godwin’s Law here]. It is wholly because I do not consider a fetus to be a “person”, that I am pro-choice. While I do think a woman has a right to choose and to have control over her body, this would not be applicable if the fetus were considered a person. How could one justify the death of a child on the mere capricious predilections of humans? This does not seem like a very salient position to hold. Because I do not believe a fetus is a person, this is why I think this issue is a matter of choice.

George I welcome your invitation to review the issue as laid out, and comment within the specified parameters of the issue as you’ve defined it for debate. Right now I’m trying to play catch-up on a number of fronts, but within the next day or so I will do my utmost to review the issue posted, and render as much a well reasoned comment as I can fashion.

I’m really inspired by the focused energy you bring to the task at hand, and owe you the courtesy of my very best contribution. As you were so forthright in challenging me for a comment I didn’t want the lengthy delay between now and then, for the reason I’ve disclosed to be interpreted as lack of interest.

Will soon reply.

Here I was, wondering where the hell you’ve been the last six weeks, George, and finally you come out with a new post. About abortion, no less. And it’s already garnered over thirty comments. There’s certainly no accusing you of wallowing in lightweight subjects or avoiding controversy.

I’m intrigued to find that you consider abortion to be a scourge, yet support a woman’s right to procure one, although I’m not surprised. Yours is a position I can find myself agreeing with for the most part, and sounds similar to the opinion that I have adopted, which boils down to: “If you don’t like abortion, make it obsolete.” My original opinion, which was spawned by the rhetoric of the evangelical church I attended in my youth, was a near-“Operation Rescue” kind of anti-abortion insanity. I remember commenting that, while I didn’t support violence against doctors who perform abortions, I could understand why some people my resort to such terrorism (although I certainly never considered it “terrorism”). Where I used to think that abortion should be 100% illegal in all cases, I now see that women obtain abortions for a number of reasons. Instead of just attempting to scare people into not having sex, I now recognize the best way to stop the amount of abortions happening are to give thorough and accurate sex education, easy access to contraceptives, proper health care, and social support to help the parent(s) after the child is born.

One of the more unfortunate aspects common to a number of the more extreme anti-abortion activist groups is that they are also anti-sex. I have had conversations with people who, with no sense of irony, will claim that supporting abortion cheapens the value of pregnancy, and, with the same breath, state that pregnancy is a punishment for fornication. There is very little that can be done to reason with people like that, much as it would be difficult to convince a woman that access to abortion is not a right.

[…] The Problem With The Abortion Debate ( […]

[…] I was hoping to achieve was to get respondents to see the inconsistency in their position.  One blogger has the intellectual honesty to admit in the comment section of his own post on the abortion […]

[…] to achieve was to get respondents to see what I believe is an inconsistency in their view. As one blogger had the intellectual honesty to admit in the comment section of his own post on the abortion […]


I’m a bit disappointed that you have not yet responded to my comment. Did you not want my feedback on this post?

Sorry to not have addressed you sooner, it has been a busy weekend and computer time was limited. I took 20 minutes to address JivinJ to keep him in the debate, thinking that you could wait till Tuesday- since Monday was a Statutory Holiday in Ontario and I had family functions to attend.

Anyhow, I disagree with your stand on abortion being morally ambiguous and I think ultimately it is a less tenable position than my own. I struggle to see how anyone could consider abortion to be a inherently neutral act. There seems to be nothing neutral about it- you are taking the life of a human being- whether it be an almost certain one (as you, I hope, claim) or definitely one (as I claim). My argument is that abortion is a question of competing moral goods or evils, and as such, can be net morally neutral to the person doing it or to society in general. My personal feeling is that there is no truly neutral abortion, save perhaps when the mother’s life is at risk. Yet I can see the ultimate issue being that I cannot force my values on others if their values lie within an objectively defensible moral framework- and I see abortion as being this sort of case. That is not relative morality- it is objective morality that is absent of arrogance.

My position on abortion is formed entirely from my views on morality- that morality is objective with competing interests. Call it Economic Morality, if you wish. It is not utilitarian- if it were then I would by rights be pro-life. I can’t possibly bring myself to accept abortion as a morally neutral action-unless we only talk about abortion in the first few days after conception. This, too, is unrealistic- though I have no statistics on this (John or JivinJ?), I would guess greater than 90% of abortions occur well after the point that a fertilized egg has become an imminent human being-or more than just a small collection of human cells. Your position on this seems intellectually dishonest- a child in the womb is more than just a “cluster of cells” far sooner than the vast majority of abortions ever take place. Your concept of experience too, begs the question- what constitutes being “aware” or “conscious”?
You may find significant thing wanting in my defense of abortion, and I would say I find several things wanting in yours. The fact remains that abortion is not an issue that lends itself to analogy so every one we present will be woefully inaccurate. My position is that a fetus is a life and that abortion is acceptable only because we as humans value things equally or greater than we value life- if this were not a fact I would say abortion is always wrong- but it is a fact and I am left with only my personal feeling that I could not support an abortion but I can’t stop someone else from giving reasonable value to things other than the life inside them.
I’m interested to see why you disagree….


My b. Didn’t mean to come off like a douche if I did.

I do not deny at all that, for lack of better phrasing, “life begins at conception.” Where we diverge, however, is how we ground our objective morality – and this is key.

You Economic Morality (I really like this term, by the way 🙂 ) seems, at least to me, arbitrarily anthropocentric. While I agree that humans should be valued above animals, we arrive at this conclusion from different perspectives and it is on how you arrive at this conclusion where your argument seems to be less-than-tenable. You say, “There seems to be nothing neutral about [abortion]- you are taking the life of a human being.” From this can I conclude that you think that human life is inherently good? If so, then why should human life be valued above, say, animal life? Certainly you would agree that most animals are more self-aware than a fetus, animals have the capacity to experience more than a fetus, animals have agency, etc. So why place favor on the human? Because you yourself are human? Again, I return to my assertion that this seems arbitrarily anthropocentric. This is why I do not base my belief of an objective morality on “life”, but rather on “personhood”. To be more accurate, I would say that it is grounded on “states of consciousness”, but I’ll return to that.

On a more fundamental level, I don’t think your position of an Economic Morality is justifiable as a general base. I’ll use an example to help illustrate (forgive the depraved vulgarity of the scenario – it’s intentional). Under your position, it would seem that any action can be acceptable if it is sufficiently justifiable (correct me if I’m wrong). Let us then take the scenario in which a man molests a toddler. Morally reprehensible, I’m sure you would agree. Yet, for the sake of argument, suppose further that there was a sufficiently justifiable reason for this molestation. Whether or not such a reason exists in reality is besides the point, simply suppose that there is a reason. Would your position then not dictate that the man is in the clear? While I, you, and most other people would rather die than perform the act, this still does not take away from the fact that your moral stance allows for this act to be performed under certain circumstances, given sufficient justification. This scenario seems wholly unsatisfactory.

Now, to return to the defense of my position, I would agree with you that my position is untenable were I predicating objective morality on “life”, but I don’t view it like that. I wholly concur with you that a fetus is a human life irrespective of age. Yet, this fact is completely besides the point when it comes to the basis of morality. If we predicate morality on “states of consciousness”, we could get a better philosophy for morality. Now, I don’t mean consciousness in the sense that one who is ‘conscious’ has more moral standing than one who is ‘not conscious’. I suppose you could think of “states of consciousness” as a sort of hierarchy in which sentient beings with less capacity for conscious experiences (i.e. self-awareness, agency, etc.) would be lower on the scale and those with more capacity would be higher. In this respect, a fetus would not have the same moral tenets as an expectant mother. More specifically, a fetus would not have much moral standing at all given that, depending on the age, the fetus does not have much capacity for any sense of consciousness.

I intend to eventually write a few posts about my conception of morality, Oscar, because I think it deserves a more specific treatment.
First I don’t think my conception of morality is arbitrarily anthropocentric. In fact, I would argue that it is far less so than most. The basis for my conception of morality is evolutionary and biological, and as such must by rights be anthropocentric to some degree. I am a big proponent of the logical and moral extension of instinct, and that there really are no “ought” statements if we believe in objective morality. These are all very intricate arguments, and deserve deeper treatment than I can offer in a comment.
To address your specific, I think that my strong commitment to determinism forbids me from considering a life without considering the potential of a life- and conception seems like to most logical starting point of the potential of a human life. Though I will capitulate to your argument that a fetus is less conscious than a living dolphin, for example, I would argue that in the view of all possible realities, the dolphin has less potential for consciousness than a human fetus. I also don’t like the idea of the primacy of sentience in that it appears to give a false moral hierarchy to the lives of living things. Certainly there are things more important than the capacity to interact with the world at the heart of the value of a life. If this is not so then a dolphin has more value than a family pet, for example. I value human life because of the potential of it, and its capacity to affect the future. Ultimately though, my worldview looks at all life as inherently of worth, and I consider it wrong (but not equally so) to kill a spider as well as a cow as well as a human.

I also think that you misinterpret my overarching view on morality. I am not saying that abortion is right, so I am not by extension saying that things are right if they are sufficiently justifiable, I am saying that they are wrong but ultimately necessary for moral consistency. Does that sound harsh? Maybe. Is it ultimately true? I would argue yes. In your example of the molested child- and I am trying to hunt down a really good example I once read that is similar- I think we have to look at the totality of the example at hand. Since, thankfully, I don’t exist in a world where any good can come from child molestation- we can only talk about this theoretically. What reason might someone have that might be a competing good with personal integrity and the protection of children from harm? I think given the correct scenario someone might be morally guilty but not necessarily morally culpable, and this is what I am driving at. Utilitarianism is the idea that moral good or bad is assessed by the outcome of the action- and I disagree. Something is morally wrong because it is objectively wrong to do it- nothing on earth will make it morally right. Some factors might make a moral wrong subjectively just, or net beneficial, or logically consistent, or necessary- but nothing makes a moral wrong a moral right. I don’t consider women who have abortions to be entirely blameless or not culpable, I consider all of society culpable.

When I track down the example I mentioned earlier, I will explain further. Feel free to ask questions in the meantime…

I’m going to completely disrespect the time it took to write this post by writing the following:

How is the abortion debate a debate? You sure did waste your ever-lovin’ time typing all this bullshit out, didn’t you?

Don’t you feel like you wasted your time?

I know some hardcore, right-wing, crazy-ass conservative Christians who — when spoken as a human being — say, “Well, yeah, you’re right. There are reasons why a woman or little girl might need an abortion.”

“Then we’re on the same page?” I ask.


“A resounding yes?” I ask.

“A resounding yes.”

We hug. I pull back and say, “Then why the fuck are there so many of you who aren’t on the same page?”

And then the outspoken, bullshit artists win the day and ride off into the sunset with their “Anti-choice” messaging.

Golly goodness almighty jeebus, no decent thinking, compassionate human being believes in no abortion all the time.

Not one.

And don’t get me on no atheist rant about the almighty god lovin’ him some baby killin’ … because that mother fucker is the Rambo of baby killin’.

That would be off topic.

BTW: Anyone who takes the first three sentences of ball-busting seriously, needs to take their woobie and hang him/herself with it.


Yes, Jeremy, quite eloquently said.

The abortion debate is usually pointless. So many different definitions. So many different opinions. So many different exceptions. Is your exception really a good reason? Why?

“But what about the innocent human being?” pro-lifers cry.

What about all the others we’ve already got?

Besides, theists, take comfort in your belief that they’re with your god and shut it.
… and just keep ignoring that baby killin’ rant as well.

[…] This is a continuation of my thoughts on the abortion debate.  Part 1 can be found here. […]

[…] start with the most common analogy I have encountered thus far. Spousal abuse.  The analogy goes that spousal abuse is wrong, we all […]

I think it’s appalling that there is even a public debate – this is not anything that is anyone’s business other than the people who are directly involved.

At a minimum, the pregnant woman and at most, her and the father.

There is simply no one else who as the authority – legally or morally speaking – who should have any say and especially not decision capability.

In a society where the individual is the social unit of consequence – as opposed to cultures where it is the family or tribal unit – there is simply no way for an unconnected person to make such personal sovereignty decisions for other people – and this should not remotely be tolerated – no matter which side of the debate

wait, there is no one demanding abortions be had – so, really, it’s the people who would deny the option are the ones who need the smack down to shut up and realize that they can choose for themselves and influence those they are connected to – but they have no place deciding what strangers and people who do not take their views into account get to do.

[…] Grace, George has provided some interesting thoughts on the abortion choice public debate: Part 1 and Part […]

I am still racking my brain trying to figure out a social situation where I would feel a need to kill my children.

well, as long as there is climate change deniers, vaccine deniers, and science/medical deniers, – who vote as blocks and cause bad government policy – there will always be socially acceptable killing of children of all ages, genders, ethnicity and social-economic standing.

so why not allow people who don’t want kids to deal with that honestly and simply not bring more children into a world where children are not valuable anyway.

at least, not valuable enough to apply the campground rule to the whole of the earth.

You should watch a video of an abortion then come back and say withholding vaccines and denying climate change are the same.

At least I can say you’re consistent with your worldview. I’ll give you that.

The pulpit parrot John Barron knows his stuff, Nina.

He’s seen that abortion video they show at churches. I’ve seen it too. You know the one? It features that hose sucking up baby bits, and snagging on a couple larger parts.

It’s awful.

Apparently John Barron missed the “children dying of whooping cough” video and the “Jesus told me to drown my children video,” as well as the “God told me to invade country X, rape their children and women and kill the rest.”

Oh yeah, the last video wasn’t produced because there weren’t video cameras in Biblical times.

The video for global warming hasn’t finished yet, but I hear it’s going to make the church abortion video look like Bambi on Ice.

it’s not hard to not fall for pleas to emotionalism

they have no logic or rationality to them

and are the last resort for a person with no planks in their platform

Why are you assuming that I haven’t seen a video of an abortion?

I think that children dying – when they have an understanding of death – is far more horrifying than what an unborn fetus may or may not experience, and have no comprehension of.

Thousands of children die every day from preventable causes – often malnourishment and diseases.

That Carson gal who got DDT banned has been responsible for every mosquito caused death since the 1960’s. That is the cost of bad science and being blinded to a narrow data set and opinion.

So my concern with with those who are already living – and if the whole species is going to survive, there needs to be a lot less of us. The way we live now is not sustainable – and this religious driven save life at any cost is costing us.

We are breeding enough to maintain a viable population, we need to stop wasting hospital resources on vegetative neo-morts and apply triage principals to put resources to viable patients who we can restore or return to a quality of life.

I find it not at all curious that it’s white people who are the most anti-abortion, and from that and conversations with anti-choicers, the conclusion that I have drawn is the the anti-abortion movement is largely motivated by racism – the fear of being out-bred by non-whites.

The reality is that we are all from Africa and there’s less than 1% genetic difference between any two people from anywhere on the globe.

We need to focus on the living, not the unborn and dying.



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