Can Abortion Become a Non-Issue?

October 24th, 2011 at 9:03 am David Frum | 191 Comments |

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In my column for CNN, I discuss the possibility that abortion might one day become a non-issue in politics:

And yet — incredible as it sounds now — there is reason to expect that the abortion issue may someday just vanish from national politics. After all, that’s what happened to the last great moral issue to rattle the American party system: alcohol prohibition.

For 70 years from the end of the Civil War to the Great Depression, a human lifetime, the “drys” and the “wets” mustered all the passion, commitment, and moralism of the pro-life and pro-choice movements of our day.

“It is my opinion that the saloonkeeper is worse than a thief and a murderer. The ordinary thief steals only your money, but the saloonkeeper steals your honor and your character. The ordinary murderer takes your life, but the saloonkeeper murders your soul.”

That’s from the famous “booze sermon” of Billy Sunday, the great popular preacher of the 1910s and 1920s. Thousands of such passionate speeches — millions more passionate words — were uttered by names now brown with history: William Jennings Bryan, Carrie Nation, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It was not all talk. Ferocious legislative battles were bought to prohibit alcohol at the county, state and then ultimately national level. The great scholar of American politics, Judith Shklar, estimated to her graduate students that through the long run of American history, more elections at more levels of government have turned on alcohol than any other issue, including slavery.

Politicians hated the alcohol issue for the same reason they now dislike the abortion issue: It sliced apart the existing party structure.

The Republicans could not win a national majority without the support of Protestant immigrants from Germany in cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis. The Democrats could not win without the enthusiastic support of Irish Catholics in New York and New England. City-dwelling Germans and Irish intensely resented attempts of their country-dwelling neighbors to regulate their behavior for them.

“If they don’t feel like takin’ a glass of beer on Sunday, we must abstain,” a contemporary Irish-American politician bitterly complained. “If they have not got any amusements up in their backwoods, we mustn’t have none.”

National politicians responded to Prohibition then in the same way they respond to abortion now: by looking for ways to avoid and de-escalate a destabilizing issue. “Questions based upon temperance, religion, morality, in all their multiplied forms, ought not to be the basis of politics,” declared Senator John Sherman of Ohio in 1873. “We don’t want to alienate anybody!” complained a Michigan Republican leader of the 1880s as quoted in a contemporary newspaper.

As Richard Jensen observes in his classic history, “The Winning of the Midwest”, “Very few prominent Republican politicians were abstainers … The politicians were not less likely to be churchgoers (many voters, after all, attended church), but they had developed their own standards of personal morality.” Then as now!

And yet a century later … the issue is dead. Vanished. Forgotten. What happened?

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191 Comments so far ↓

  • ottovbvs

    You should live that long Frum. It obviously remains a MAJOR issue on the christian right and woe betide the Republican candidate for president who forgets it. Numerous red states are trying to chip away at women’s rights in this matter (despite the claim they want the govt out of people’s live ho ho) so abortion is going to remain a major political battlefield for the forseeable future. Interesting you mention Prohibition which was the last successful conservative constitutional amendment initiative (the 18th I think) based on completely wishful thinking and how did that turn out? And although it attracted some Southern Democratic conservative support it was really a Republican issue (particularly Republican women) that even as its disastrous consequences became apparent successive Republican presidents did nothing to repeal. This was left to FDR.

  • Carney

    Frum leaves unaddressed a major reason for the bitterness of the abortion debate: the fact that no actual debate on the core issue at hand is possible since the Supreme Court interjected itself and imposed its own policy preferences on all 50 states, with ZERO constitutional justification or legitimacy. This issue has been removed from the purview of the people to debate and decide amongst ourselves; we lack the power in our purported system of representative self-government to persuade our fellow citizens and alter public policy accordingly.

    Not only has this intensely controversial issue been made more political by the ham-fisted attempt to remove it from politics, it has been made more bitter by dishonesty.

    Honest pro-choicers like Frum admit that while they would vote for abortion becoming or remaining legal if they were legislators, the fact remains that Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton were bad constitutional law. Too many pro-choicers defend those decisions by reciting reasons to support legalized abortion legislatively, and no wonder: there is no evidence in favor, and abundant evidence against, the farcical proposition that the authors and ratifiers of the original Constitution or any of the amendments ever remotely intended their words to be later twisted into a mandate that the entire nation be permanently force-fed the Western world’s most extreme and permissive abortion regime.

    It’s one thing to lose fair and square. But to be convinced you have been deliberately cheated rankles, and rankles deep.

    Few Mondale supporters nurse a grudge over the 1984 defeat, as catastrophic as it was. Yet most 2000 Gore supporters, and some 2004 Kerry supporters, are convinced those elections were stolen, and that contributed to a sharp decline in civility and respectful treatment of President Bush.

    You want Americans to calm down about abortion? Overturn Roe and the false post-Roe house of cards. Contrary to ignorant opinion, that does not automatically ban all abortions. It merely returns to the people, where it belongs, the right to decide amongst ourselves what our laws on this issue should be, as it already is on many life-and-death issues such as the death penalty and more. At that point a rough modus vivendi will likely be worked out. Will it ever satisfy die-hards on either side? No, but it will be LEGITIMATE.

    • willard landreth

      “This issue has been removed from the purview of the people to debate and decide amongst ourselves”

      I disagree. Nobody is forced to get an abortion. What other decision do we need to be made?

    • ottovbvs

      “You want Americans to calm down about abortion? Overturn Roe and the false post-Roe house of cards.”

      Only someone with Carney’s sense of political reality could think overturning Roe would cause Americans to calm down about abortion. The consequence would somewhat similar to lighting a match in a gas filled room. Anyone who could write this clearly has no sense whatever of either political process or reality:

      “It merely returns to the people, where it belongs, the right to decide amongst ourselves what our laws on this issue should be, as it already is on many life-and-death issues such as the death penalty and more.”

      • Houndentenor

        Bring it! Overturning Roe would be the best gift the right-wing Justices could give the Democrats. Watch all those moderate women voters who only vote GOP for lower taxes turn red states blue overnight.

    • balconesfault

      the fact remains that Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton were bad constitutional law.

      I disagree. I believe that Roe v Wade properly places a woman’s right to privacy over a state’s right to abrogate that privacy, until a point in the pregnancy where the state can demonstrate compelling interest.

      That said, I think Frum’s piece is pretty lightweight, because it ignores two fundamental differences between the two issues.

      1) the Catholic Church opposed prohibition, and in a backdoor way facilitated continued distribution of alcohol throughout the Prohibition Era. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church not only opposes abortion, but it opposes contraception, and it opposes extra-marital sex. That’s a big tilt in the balance of power on those issues.

      2) Men like to drink. Men don’t need abortions.

      • kuri3460

        Carney,

        The constituation grants a right to free speech. That means you and I can say whatever we want, short of shouting fire in a crowded room, without fear of punishment or incarceration from the government. Unfortunately, it also means that the Ku Klux Klan can say whatever it wants too.

        That’s the problem with freedom – it allows others to do or say things that you don’t like, but outlawing them based on a personal preference is the antithesis of that freedom.

        The Supreme Court decide Roe v. Wade based on an implied right to privacy held within the Constituation, and this was not the only case where this right was cited:

        1925 – Pierce v. Society of Sisters – Supreme Court rules that sending children to parochial school is constituational
        1965 – Griswold v. Connecticut – Supreme Court rules that possession and use of contraception is constitutional
        1990 – Cruzan v. Missouri Dept of Health – Supreme Court rules that patients have the right to refuse medical treatment at the end of their lives.

        If there is no right to privacy in the Constituation, and hence Roe v. Wade must be overturned, then what about these cases? After all, based on your logic, the authors of the Constitution could have never envisioned the day where you could put a piece of latex over your penis to avoid getting your wife or mistress pregnant, nor could they see the day where breathing machines could keep people alive long after their bodies had ceased to function.

        Furthermore, the popular vote is a poor means of enforcing Constituationally-granted rights – see the history of the South from 1865-1965. Frankly, if it had been left to a popular vote, black people still may not have the right to vote in certain areas of the South.

        • overshoot

          “Frankly, if it had been left to a popular vote, black people still may not have the right to vote in certain areas of the South.”

          One thing at a time, Kuri.

        • Primrose

          +10 Kuri

    • Watusie

      Carney, you think that Roe vs. Wade and the SC butting into the issue is the cause of rancor.

      What about IVF? If you believe that life begins at the moment of conception and abortion is evil, then you’ve got to believe that the practices at your typical IVF are evil as well.

      And there is no equivalent of Roe vs. Wade protecting the right to IVF. So why don’t Republicans when they are in power move swiftly to prevent this evil? The answer, of course, is that there are no votes to be had there.

      The rancor in the abortion debate is entirely due to Republicans demagoging the issue, and not wanting to make any progress, ever. If they were to somehow succeed in banning abortion they’d be bereft, because then they’d no longer have the issue to flog.

    • overshoot

      Don’t forget to overturn Griswold too, Carney. Same legal basis as Roe v. Wade, and it’s also on the agenda with the boilerplate “personhood amendments.”

    • Houndentenor

      No one disputes that Mondale lost to Reagan. But Gore got more votes than Bush and Florida had questionable election results. Kerry probably won Ohio. The Ohio Secretary of State destroyed the ballots making a recount impossible. Republicans would be equally bitter under the circumstances. In fact, I remember right wingers bitter for 8 years that Clinton hadn’t gotten a majority and questioning whether or not Obama was born in the US. This isn’t just about liberals angry at the 2000 and 2004 results. I doubt the other side is going to accept defeat in 2012, no matter which side that is. That does not bode well for getting anything done in Washington.

    • Primrose

      Actually Carney, the right belongs with the person choosing between having an abortion or being a parent, the person whose body is going to be used to carry this pregnancy, the person whose going to take on all the legal, emotional and moral obligations of being a parent. Fathers can disappear from the scene with no repercussions.

      Women can not. Even if they give the child up for adoption, their name still appears on an original birth certificate. And laws on adoption are getting looser every day.

      You simply don’t get to have a say in what happens to somebody else’s body.

      And since you are male Carney, it is sheer arrogance to think you could make such a decision for another. This would never happen to you. Ever. For you it is an intellectual exercise. Not so the women involved.

      That is all the court did, keep the decision where it belongs, with the pregnant woman.

      • Carney

        Typically, you totally missed the point of my post.

        You totally ignore whether the Constitution and its amendments, as written, ratified, and intended, actually mandate your preferred policy to be set in place.

        Instead you focus only on what you see as compelling arguments in favor of your preferred policy. That’s an argument to be had in Congress or a state legislature, not the court system.

        Contrary to popular belief among the ignorant, the Constitution is not a guarantee of good public policy. Just because you want a given policy, NO MATTER HOW STRONGLY, does not make it Constitutionally mandatory. And just because you oppose a given policy, NO MATTER HOW STRONGLY, it does not make it Constitutionally banned.

        • Watusie

          Simple question: if Roe v Wade is so obviously unconstitutional, and given that the Republican Party is dead set against abortion, and given that the Republican Party is very powerful, and given that a majority of SC justices are Republican appointees, why hasn’t a case been brought forward for the purpose of overturning this decision?

        • Carney

          Because Republicans have done a much poorer job than Democrats at making sure the judges and justices they get on the bench are reliable expositors of their judicial philosophy. Quick: name a “conservative” judge or justice appointed by a Democrat. Can’t do it since Byron White appointed by JFK. Whereas Anthony Kennedy, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter, and a horde of others at lower levels exemplify how until very recently the GOP brought its B game into the judicial nomination process while the Dems brought their A game every time.

        • Watusie

          But you said Roe v Wade was obviously unconstitutional. So, therefore, the current court, with its majority of justices appointed by Republicans, will over turn it. Story. End. Of.

          Unless, perhaps, it is NOT so obviously unconstitutional….

        • overshoot

          Quick: name a “conservative” judge or justice appointed by a Democrat.

          Sonia Sotomayor. At least as poor a sample of “liberal” jurisprudence as O’Connor was of “conservative” jurisprudence.

        • indy

          I hate to break the news to you Carney but only very recently has the Republican party been overrun by ‘conservatives’. Prior to that, it was merely a reliable voting block who were made promises that were only rarely delivered. The supreme court was just one of the carrots.

        • torourke

          Because one of those Republican appointees, Anthony Kennedy, provided the crucial swing vote on Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which means there are five reliable pro-Roe votes on the current court. Any attempt to challenge Roe right now would fail as the court is currently constructed.

        • indy

          You totally ignore whether the Constitution and its amendments, as written, ratified, and intended, actually mandate your preferred policy to be set in place.

          You mean, of course, except those troublesome lines: ‘The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court….The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution’

          I’ve searched for the part that allows laymen to override them whenever they disagree with a decision…but darn if I can find it.

          Just because you oppose a court decision, NO MATTER HOW STRONGLY, it does not make it Constitutionally wrong. By the plain words of the Constitution their every decision IS Constitutional, no matter what the decision is.

        • Carney

          Straw man. I never asserted that anyone can override the Court. What I did at least implicitly assert is that that Court has been, is now, and can in the future be wrong in some of its decisions. To deny that is to claim a degree of infallibility for the Court that not even the Catholic Church does for the Pope.

        • indy

          Strawman? You didn’t write this:

          the fact that no actual debate on the core issue at hand is possible since the Supreme Court interjected itself and imposed its own policy preferences on all 50 states, with ZERO constitutional justification or legitimacy.

          My emphasis. Are you aware of what legitimacy even means?

        • Carney

          A Court makes an illegitimate decision when it over-reaches its legal authority to make a decision it has no right to make. Unfortunately, we lack any immediate recourse – we cannot disobey that decision since that would be a further illegal act and the Court is the highest legal arbiter. All we can do in response is obey that wrong decision as if it were legitimate until such time as it is overturned either via a subsequent correct court decision or a ratified constitutional amendment. In the meantime we are free to use our free speech rights to point out the error, falsehood, and intellectual, moral, and legal bankruptcy of the decision.

        • Chris Balsz

          “Just because you oppose a court decision, NO MATTER HOW STRONGLY, it does not make it Constitutionally wrong. ”

          Right. It’s the decision itself that is constitutional or unconstitutional, regardless of what I think about it.

          “By the plain words of the Constitution their every decision IS Constitutional, no matter what the decision is.”

          Really? So the Court was right both times on segregation -when it upheld it and when it outlawed it?

          How about concentration camps for citizens based on ethnicity? The only Court decision we have on that, Korematsu v US, upholds the idea. Do you accept that as settled law?

        • indy

          Really? So the Court was right both times on segregation -when it upheld it and when it outlawed it?

          Legally and Constitutionally…absolutely. Carney is claiming they acted illegally…not immorally. They were not acting either illegally or ‘illegitimately’ in either ruling. They were simply doing what they are CONSTITUTIONALLY obligated to do. Reviewing matters of law.

        • torourke

          indy,

          You’re still missing the point. Roe v. Wade is illegitimate because it doesn’t even come close to showing that the framers of the 14th amendment meant to create an untrammeled right to abortion. This is not even a close call. The legal and academic left have thrown in the towel trying to defend the decision on the merits. Laurence Tribe, Edward Lazarus, John Hart Ely, Benjamin Wittes, and more. Edward Lazarus clerked for Justice Blackmun–the author of Roe–and wrote in 2002 that as a Constitutional matter, Roe “borders on the indefensible” and that no one had been able to provide a convincing defense of the decision on the merits.

          Benjamin Wittes wrote this essay in the Atlantic Monthly:

          http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/01/letting-go-of-i-roe-i/3695/

          In short, no serious person thinks the Constitution contains a right to abortion on demand, and Roe simply imposed the extreme views of one side of the debate on the entire country in an entirely undemocratic manner. This is what pro-lifers, and even honest pro-choicers like Benjamin Wittes mean when they call Roe illegitimate.

        • zephae

          torourke,

          I don’t think he misunderstands that at all, but rather says that it’s a completely irrelevant argument and has no bearing on the actual constitutional “legitimacy” because the Constitution grants the Supreme Court that kind of authority. If you oppose Roe, fine, there are several remedies you can take including impeachment, mounting another court challenge, and Constitutional amendment – choose one and go after it, but claims of “illegitimacy” are frankly absurd. If you want to claim that, you have to show where in the Constitution they are expressedly forbidden from making their decision (ex. if they were to claim original jurisdiction in a case where the Constitution provides only appellate jurisdiction).

        • torourke

          zephae,

          Both you and indy are conflating “binding” and “legitimate”. No one is disputing that the Supreme Court can make decisions that are binding on the public. indy is simply knocking down a strawman here (and he did not refer to the SC’s ruling on Roe as “illegal”). The question is whether the SC rules in a manner that is consistent with a plausible reading of the Constitution. And no one thinks Roe is a plausible interpretation of the 14th amendment. Laurence Tribe is the most influential liberal legal theorist in the land, and he acknowledged that Roe was a terrible opinion. It is virtually impossible to find someone who will defend the decision as a legitimate, reasonable interpretation of the Constitution. Blackmun and his comrades simply made up a right to abortion on demand and imposed it on the American people. That is an illegitimate power-grab, one that has done more than anything to inflame the culture wars. It also reveals the undemocratic, authoritarian nature of the left that they continue to use this decision as a litmus test.

        • indy

          The question is whether the SC rules in a manner that is consistent with a plausible reading of the Constitution.

          There is only one legal authority granted with the power in the Constitution with making a ‘plausible reading’ of the Constitution. That is the Supreme Court. What everyone else thinks is a ‘plausible reading’ is an opinion. That includes Benjamin Wittes, me, you, Carney, and everyone else. Had Carney simply said that in his opinion they misinterpreted the Constitution (and if that is what he meant) then I have no issue with that. Everybody is entitled to an opinion and I learned long ago that everyone considers themselves better equipped to interpret the Constitution than the members of the Supreme Court, especially when it crosses swords with their vision of morality.

          However, when he says: ‘A Court makes an illegitimate decision when it over-reaches its legal authority to make a decision it has no right to make.’ it seems pretty clear what he means doesn’t it? On what Constitutional basis does he make this claim? Where in the Constitution does it limit the Supreme Courts’ legal authority? It doesn’t and quite the contrary, the Constitution grants the Supreme Court exclusive, unlimited, and unreviewable authority in matters of law and EQUITY. So how can they overreach?

          In English common law, Equity means wiggle room when strict application of the law would be overly harsh. The Supreme Court is not limited to making rulings based on strict interpretations of the Constitution. They are granted the right, under the Constitution, to use discretion in pursuit of justice.

          If you aren’t happy with the use of that discretion then, as zephae says, there are remedies afforded you. Simply pursue them. If everyone has ‘thrown in the towel’ on Roe, then it should be a simple matter to use one of the remedies to take care of it, no? That is what they are there for.

        • torourke

          “However, when he says: ‘A Court makes an illegitimate decision when it over-reaches its legal authority to make a decision it has no right to make.’ it seems pretty clear what he means doesn’t it? On what Constitutional basis does he make this claim?”

          It’s clear to me, but it’s still not clear to you apparently. As a matter of “raw, judicial power” the Supreme Court can make any ruling they want, that is binding until the ruling is overturned or superseded by an amendment. Let’s pretend two years ago that Congress passed and Obama signed a law outlawing waterboarding, but then the SC struck down the ruling in a 5-4 decision where Scalia creates a right to waterboarding that no one had ever discovered until that point. Now let’s pretend that even conservatives who support waterboarding as a policy found Scalia’s attempt to ground the “right” to waterboarding in the Constitution embarrassingly bad, and admitted en masse the Scalia overstepped his bounds as a jurist and simply made up the right out of thin air so that his preferred policy preferences would win the day. Would such a ruling be binding as a matter of law? Yes. Would the ruling be legitimate? No, it would not. The Constitution says nothing about waterboarding, and striking down laws proscribing this act under the guise of a right that no one can find in the actual Constitution is an illegitimate form of jurisprudence. The SC took on a legislative power in Roe in deciding what the abortion license will be in every state that the Constitution as written and intended simply does not give them. That’s what Benjamin Wittes, who supports abortion as a policy matter, means when he writes that Roe is illegitimate. That’s what Carney means when he says that the SC had no “right” to rule in the way they did. And the legal and academic left has admitted as much.

        • indy

          Let’s pretend two years ago that Congress passed and Obama signed a law outlawing waterboarding, but then the SC struck down the ruling in a 5-4 decision where Scalia creates a right to waterboarding that no one had ever discovered until that point. Now let’s pretend that even conservatives who support waterboarding as a policy found Scalia’s attempt to ground the “right” to waterboarding in the Constitution embarrassingly bad, and admitted en masse the Scalia overstepped his bounds as a jurist and simply made up the right out of thin air so that his preferred policy preferences would win the day. Would such a ruling be binding as a matter of law? Yes. Would the ruling be legitimate? No, it would not.

          This seems like a lot of argument over a word but, yes, it would be legitimate and, yes, it is their right to interpret the law and the Constitution in ANY way they see fit. Again, the Constitution clearly confers that ‘right’ to them. Nowhere in the Constitution can you find language that makes a distinction between ‘binding’ law and ‘legitimate’ law. You are making up a distinction to support your opinion where none exists. There is one law and the Supreme Court makes all decisions concerning it and when they do it is always legitimate. They can make their decisions well and they can make them poorly (and when they do we have the power to fix them) but they are undoubtedly granted the exclusive Constitutional right to do it either way.

          I think Gore v. Bush was poorly done and poorly argued. But I don’t claim it is ‘illegitimate’ because there is no such legal concept. When the left claims that decision was ‘illegitimate’ I tell them they are full of it too.

          [I also think that the Roe majority opinion was poorly written and that plenty of legal basis exists for it, but that still doesn't make it 'illegitimate'.]

        • torourke

          indy,

          I agree that we are reaching the point of diminishing returns, as this debate seems to be more of a semantic one than anything else. I think you’re being a bit, um, lawyerly in how you define the word legitimate. As I wrote before, the SC certainly has the “right” to rule in any way they see fit, and those rulings are binding. But for the ruling to obtain legitimacy, as in, for people to give their general assent to the ruling and abide by it even if they disagree with it, the ruling should, at the very least, be a defensible interpretation of the Constitution. But it isn’t. Blackmun’s own law clerk admitted as much. The reason that Roe lacks legitimacy in the sense I’m describing is that even after 38 years it has never been broadly accepted–which goes beyond the fact that millions of people oppose abortion. Even people who think abortion should be allowed recognize–including you–that Roe was a bad opinion that removed a contentious issue from the democratic process. If the 14th amendment actually mentioned something along the lines of women being able to have an abortion, then no one would question Roe’s legitimacy, even if many people continued to oppose abortion.

          You should really read the Wittes article I linked to above. He is a top-notch liberal legal theorist, and he acknowledges the illegitimacy of Roe as pro-lifers describe it.

        • indy

          But for the ruling to obtain legitimacy, as in, for people to give their general assent to the ruling and abide by it even if they disagree with it, the ruling should, at the very least, be a defensible interpretation of the Constitution.

          So general assent is the means by which we decide rulings are legitimate? Great, let’s go back in time and install Gore as President, since by ‘general assent’ he was elected, wasn’t he?

          Again there is no requirement that rulings be a defensible interpretation of the Constitution. It is custom and I agree it is desirable for a lot of reasons but that is all it is.

          I think the vast majority of Americans view the ruling as legitimate but that the minority would like to persuade the majority that the Supreme Court ‘cheated’ and did something they weren’t allowed to by using words like ‘illegitimate’. They didn’t but knock yourself out.

        • Primrose

          Typically? Really Carney? Do you need to take that tone? I think I have addressed at length the constitutional basis for the right to have an abortion, which is not, actually the right to abortion. It is the right to bodily integrity, which the court may call privacy, but I find it an imprecise and confusing term, so don’t.

          But I will discuss it again, for you Carney. This time listen.

          A person has the right to decide to what uses his or her body is put. This is infused throughout the constitution, in the great majority of our rights, and laws.

          As I have said before, if technology is created to permit us to harvest and embryo later, and it (as well as storage) is safe and cheap, then abortion may be banned, though who would bother?. At this point, a women would not have to do anything to maintain the life of the embryo then walk into her local embryo transfer clinic and have it transferred.

          I have also outlined scenarios where the state has a compelling interest in abrogating the right to bodily integrity on a temporary basis, as it does during a draft. So the aliens have made contact and were not friendly, they wiped out most of the human race until Will Smith and Jeff Goldberg were able to insert a simple virus and completely destroy their computer systems.

          So we are alive, but down to maybe 30K. We need more to survive. At that point the government, a world government by that time I presume, has an interest in preventing abortion, except for health or life of the mother, assuming there are not enough volunteers. But at that point, the government would be taking care of mother’s health, no doubt paying her and covering all her needs. Society would also be honoring and praising mothers then. In such a scenario, I think the only social obstacle a women would face is getting through a crowd without having her belly caressed.

          But right now the government has not compelling interest. The planet is about to have 7 billion people and the US is safely in the replacement rate. Pregnant women are not covered by the benefits that soldiers are. Pregnancy remains the only way for a woman to maintain the life of an embryo that has decided to live inside her.

          So the right of bodily integrity still includes the right to have an abortion. That’s dealing with the constitutional issues, as did my last post., so cut the attitude. This is not something that would happen to you. Before you try to make decisions on my (and my fellow women’s) behalf, maybe you should try to listen, instead of heaping scorn. If you are not willing to do that, then you’re not qualified to make these decisions in any event.

        • Chris Balsz

          Sorry, you’re stuck with mere equality.

          By the way, how come the fullest celebration of personal choice obligates some other adult to pay child support? Isn’t that silly?

        • Primrose

          Well, first of all, I think that legally if a man severs his parental rights, he doesn’t have to pay child support anymore. I won’t bet the farm on that but I think it is true in most states.

          Theoretically, of course you are right Chris. If a man doesn’t want a child, and offered to pay for an abortion, why pay child support?

          And if I had the least little trust in men not just using this as yet another excuse for irresponsible behavior, I’d back you on that one. Getting men to use, and keep on, condoms even in the age of AIDS is enough of an obstacle. If they thought all they had to do was offer to pay for an abortion…

          So I’ll have to take refuge in the idea that it is again about bodily integrity, and forcing a woman to have an abortion is just as heinous as forcing her to carry to term.

          But I admit it is shaky ground on the father side , so if you accept a woman’s right to choose, but insist that then a father who wanted an abortion doesn’t have to pay child support, I can (with reservations) accept that argument, assuming of course, he severs his parental rights.

    • think4yourself

      @ Carney: “…Gore supporters, and some 2004 Kerry supporters, are convinced those elections were stolen, and that contributed to a sharp decline in civility and respectful treatment of President Bush.”

      Carney, I know this wasn’t the main thrust of your post but I had to comment. First, you argue that the Supreme Court inserted itself incorrectly and with a wrong decision into the abortion issue – and then talk about the 2000 election and don’t acknowledge that the losers of that lost due to a Supreme Court decision that was 5-4 ideologically split? That’s rich.

      Second, you comment that these disaffected Gore & Bush supporters contributed to the sharp decline and civility and respectful treatment of President Bush. I would argue that there are many reasons for people’s treatment of President Bush of which this was just one small piece. For example:

      1. The GOP’s treatment of President Clinton (Whitewater, Vince Foster, impeachment procedings over activities that did not have to do with Presidental policies, etc.). The GOP waged a scortched earth war against Clinton and then cry when the Dems do the same thing in retaliation (which I don’t support, but is what happened).
      2. Bush policies. From the beginning in office, the Bush/Cheney White House, felt that Presidential power had been diluted under Clinton and they were determined to exercise it for the benefit of Conservatives. The early examples deal with energy policy (Cheney invites the energy companies to meet with him to develop policies in their favor), environmental policies (rejection of the Kyoto treaty signed under Clinton) and EPA reversals, along with canceling other Democratic leaning proposals.
      3. Bush war actions and political consequences. Bush War actions. Pivoting to force a war in Iraq when Afghanistan was not resolved. Reasons and lack of them for the Iraq war. Using any politician’s questioning of Bush policies as an opportunity by Karl Rove to attack those individuals as “unAmerican”. The outing of Valerie Plame.

      While Dems certainly were never in support of GWB, the incident you site was only one very small piece of that.

      • Carney

        No, you miss the fact that Bush being seen as illegitimately installed in office simultaneously amplified Democratic irritation over already contentious policy choices, and also liberated Dems from normal constraints in their tone and criticism. That was different in kind, not just in degree, over past partisan wrangling.

        Also, many of your points are incoherent or mistaken.

        On 2, it’s quite true that Bush and especially Cheney were committed to swinging the pendulum back toward presidential power. However, Cheney meeting with energy industry figures as part of crafting energy policy was not part of that – Hillary Clinton did the same in health care as First Lady. It was resisting congressional demands for attendee lists, transcripts, etc, that was part of Cheney’s defense of what he saw as executive prerogatives.

        Rejecting Kyoto was certainly part of a conservative-leaning policy agenda, but it was not specifically part of reclaiming executive power. In the first place, Kyoto had never been ratified anyway – the Clinton-Gore administration never submitted it to the Senate for ratification after the Senate passed a 95-0 resolution in effect rejecting it.

        The Plame issue was a classic example of the MSM’s ability to mountainize molehills (it also molehill-izes mountains, but that’s a separate issue). Almost everything the Left thinks it knows about that situation (spoonfed by the MSM) is factually, easily proven false. Plame was not a covert operative whose life was at risk. She was a desk jockey in Who’s Who. Her “outing” was not a retaliation by “pro-war” elements, but done by “anti-war” men, primarily Richard Armitage and Robert Novak, and not as retaliation, but as a fact point meant to expose Joe Wilson as being less than the respected, go-to-guy he portrayed himself as – since it was his wife who had recommended him. Finally the “outing” was not illegal.

        • balconesfault

          No, you miss the fact that Bush being seen as illegitimately installed in office simultaneously amplified Democratic irritation over already contentious policy choices, and also liberated Dems from normal constraints in their tone and criticism.

          Really? After the GOP treatment of Clinton from the moment he took office, you’re going to treat the comparatively mild attacks on Bush as significant?

          Last I checked, there were Dems willing to cross party lines to vote with Bush on his tax increases. There were Dems willing to negotiate with Bush on his education and Medicaid proposals, and to vote for the resulting bills. There was never a concerted Democratic effort to block everything Bush wanted to do, and thus make him a 1-term President.

        • AnBr

          More false equivalency from so called “conservatives”. It was a coordinated attack on Clinton by congressional Republicans, the Republican hierarchy and the right wing media, ultimately to drum up reasons to impeach him. The extreme reactions to Bush were mostly from the centrist and liberal electorate. Yes, there were congressional reactions to the disturbing actions of that administration, such as the illegal torture and other misdeeds, but there was no concerted effort from congressional Democrats to try to impeach him come hell or high water.

    • Lonewolf

      Unmitigated garbage. Undeserving of a response, much less a thread like this.

  • willard landreth

    Frum would be better to argue against the southern strategy than abortion. The party sold its soul and will forever pay the price to the christian devil. For republicans it doesn’t matter what whore you bed with if it gives you power over principal.

    Unfortunately, (or not) christians will never develop their own party b/c they’ve no soul themselves and republicans have been unscrupulous enough to tacitly accept their theories in order to win. Now however, they’re paying the price. Somehow somewhere this is really going to come back and bite them in their well deserved asses.

    • TJ Parker

      I don’t think that you really meant for “well-deserved” to modify “asses”, tho as written “well deserved asses” is a cute euphemism for Dick Santorum and Dick Perry and Dick Bachmann. Although personally I’d adjust the anatomical reference.

  • Graychin

    Someday abortion will be a non-issue like divorce is. And like gay marriage and gays in the military soon will be.

    The culture warriors on the right are losing, but it takes several generations for them to recognize the futility of continuing their battles. It hasn’t helped that one of our major political parties decided in the 1980s to align itself with the culture warriors. Whatever gains that party made as a result, the bills for them are coming due soon. Very soon.

  • overshoot

    DF seems to think that improving contraceptives will moot the issue, but the Right has already moved from banning abortion to banning contraception as well. Abortion isn’t the central issue, sex is. And sex isn’t going away.

    • torourke

      Which Republicans are trying to ban contraception?

      • balconesfault

        From “The Nation”, this week:

        Mississippians will be voting next month on Ballot Initiative #26, which would amend the state Constitution by redefining “person” to “include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof.” If passed, the amendment would ban all abortion, possibly even to save the woman’s life. It could also ban
in vitro fertilization and the most popular and effective methods of birth control: some forms of the Pill and the IUD, as well as the morning-after pill. Never mind that as many as half of all fertilized eggs never implant in the womb (implantation is the actual medical definition of pregnancy, although you’d never know it these days). Hold on, blastocysts! In a few short weeks, you may be Mississippians, bona fide citizens of the state with the highest rate of unplanned pregnancy in the country.

  • Ray_Harwick

    What happened?

    The Hate Industrial Complex shifted. Each age has it’s own cottage industry of preachers who demand obedience to their product, which they call “morality” and as long as their is an identity politics, capitalism will will follow it and, you know, capitalize on it. The prohibitionists of today are Maggie Gallagher (NOM), Brian Fischer (American Family Association), Tony Perkins (Family “Research” Council), and that 70% of evangelical ministers cited by 1st Baptist Church of Dallas senior pastor, the Rev. Jeffries, who believes the Mormon Church is a cult. Even the kooks with a fax machine and a Twitter feed are reaping profits on the backs of gays and the abortion issue. It’s like the war on drugs; the more you fight back, the bigger it grows.

    There’s only one way to fight back. Perhaps FrumForum should consider doing what Joe Gervis does on his itty-bitty blog – hold up a mirror like this one:

    The Week In Holy Crimes (week of Oct. 16, 2011)

    Over the last seven days…

    Nevada: Father Kevin McAuliffe confesses to stealing $650K to support his gambling habit.
    Texas: Pastor Francisco Antonio Hernandez arrested for molesting at least four girls, including three who were sisters.
    Tennessee: Pastor Rickey Alan Reed arrested for burglarizing the home of a parishioner.
    Oklahoma: Pastor Joe Cheater arrested for molestation and child rape of four girls.
    New York: Reverend Victor Rosa arrested for fraudulently cashing pension checks of long-deceased neighbor.
    New York: Father Brady arrested on two counts of child molestation.
    Kansas: Pastor Birger Draget charged with 21 counts of sex crimes against a child.
    Texas: Mistress of Pastor Tracy Burleson convicted in his plot to pay his son to murder his wife.
    Georgia: Pastor Joshua Drucker convicted on two counts of murder.
    Ontario: Father Jose Silva resigns after sexual assault charges.
    London: Father Laurence Soper has gone on the lam after being accused of multiple counts of child abuse. Soper is 80.
    Ontario: Father Linus Bastien charged with two counts of indecent assault.
    Illinois: Imprisoned felon sues the Pope for childhood sexual abuse by his priest.

    Week of June 5th, 2011

    xBelgium: Brussels Archdiocese promises to compensate 500 victims of molestation by church workers. At least 13 suicides are thought to have resulted from the attacks.
    North Carolina: Pastor John Jackson charged with additional felony counts of embezzling from his church. Last month Jackson was charged with using church funds to insure his five Cadillacs.
    Ontario: Pastor Emmanual Animodi charged with sexual assault on a parishioner.
    Alabama: Pastor James Hunter and his wife charged with dealing morphine.
    New York: Rabbi Saul Kassin let off with two years probation in massive $50M international bank fraud scheme.
    New Mexico: Pastor Steven Perez charged with child molestation.
    California: Father William Myers placed on leave after following a minor boy into the changing room at a department store.
    Texas: Pastor Theodore Baines sued by congregation for threatening them, abusing alcohol, and making lewd comments to young female parishioners.
    Minnesota: Pastor David Radtke charged with molesting a foreign exchange student staying in his home.
    Missouri: Diocese of Kansas City sued for covering up the actions of Father Shawn Ratigan, who is accused of taking photos of a nude underage girl.
    California: Pastor Carlton Hammonds sentenced to four years in prison for child molestation.
    Iowa: Pastor Patrick Eduoard charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse.
    New York: Molestation trial of Pastor Joe Flowers delayed due to revelation of a second victim.

    This Week’s Winner
    New Jersey: Members of the Walking With Christ sect have pleaded not guilty of causing the death of an eight year-old girl after forcing the child to fast in order to achieve holiness. Pastor Emanyel Kris told followers that even to swallow one’s own saliva was a “sin” and a violation of his fasting edict. The victim’s mother is charged with aggravated manslaughter. Pastor Kris has not been charged with anything.

    • overshoot

      Totally irrelevant, since they’re not true Scottsmen.

    • Carney

      This is a nation of 300 million. A certain rate of scandal is inevitable.

      Granting for the sake of argument the (WRONG) presumption that hypocrisy disproves the truth or validity of the principle violated by the hypocrite, and that such hypocrite-hunting is thus relevant, a more informative datum than a mere list of fallen leaders for public pillorying is the answer to a simple question:

      What is the rate of misconduct among conservative clergy compared to the population as a whole, or among the “anything goes” lifestyle left?

      • Lonewolf

        The hypocrisy is not irrelevant. It is the very ROOT of the evil that infests much (though not all) of the religious right. And it is the shining red light to the rest of us that these people are dangerous when put in power.

        • Carney

          “Much though not all” is a cop out. If hypocrisy is relevant, than answer the challenge question I asked in the last sentence of my prior post.

          Unless conservative clergy are MORE likely than the “anything goes” lifestyle left, or even the general population, to engage in such behavior, than the basic premise of the hypocrisy-hunters collapses, because then conservative clergy are at worst no more likely than the rest of us, and may well be LESS likely than the rest of us (thus being more moral).

          That’s why a mere string of anecdotal evidence without overall figures can be deeply misleading. Like a list of elderly women of Japanese descent who have been arrested for violent crime, as a justification for heaping opprobrium on that group as a supposed menace to the public deserving widespread shunning.

      • AnBr

        What is the rate of misconduct among conservative clergy compared to the population as a whole, or among the “anything goes” lifestyle left?

        Unnecessary and illogical dig at those that do not goose step with you. The Religious Left is about the same size as the Religious Right, they just aren’t as vocal or politically active as the right (perhaps because they believe in separation of church and state or rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and rendering unto God what is God’s?) which would imply that the right is not necessarily more Godly than anyone else.

        http://pewforum.org/Politics-and-Elections/Assessing-a-More-Prominent-Religious-Left.aspx#how

      • Ray_Harwick

        Well, if you didn’t think of it, I’ll remind you where the ministers hang out every Sunday. They stand in front of enormous congregations of people teaching them about the evils of abortion, how marriage is being “redefined”, how government is the enemy of good. This is just two weeks worth of holy crimes and the guy who collects this information has been lazy this year. Last year he averaged documenting 8 individual crimes per *week*. That’s just the ministers, priests, rabbis and imans. Another guy collects the crimes of youth ministers exclusively and he usually rounds up a dozen a month.

        The undeniable irony is that these are the leaders of the religious right who command the allegiance of millions. That’s just the ones who commit acts that are illegal. Then there is the really powerful group who bless handkerchiefs for a mere $1,000.00 a pop and deliver messages straight from the lips of God Almighty. You’ve probably seen Pat Robertson’s show. He has a segment in it where tells some unnamed person that God told him this or that cancer will be cured and he’s channeling God words ***immediately as God gives them to him***. You might ask why God does’t just speak to the person rather than to Pat Robertson during live airtime. In fact, one Roberstson’s ghost writers remarked about this channeling segment. He watched as Robertson told (for example) “Mildred in West Memphis, Arkansas, that God was telling him her gout would disappear. As the writer watched this from off stage, he noted that the stage manager started counting down the seconds until the commercial break and, wouldn’t you know. Dear old God, must have been watching the stage manager, too, because he stopped feeding Pat with news for Mildred *exactly* on the stage manager’s countdown from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0. So, Pat Robertson, multi-millionaire, has God responding to the cues of his stage manager.

        A chorus begins to sing in the background and the camera turns to the 700 Club phone bank who are “taking prayer requests” and names, addresses, phone numbers and credit card numbers. And we haven’t’ even gotten to the 700 Club News Hour yet.

        Nothing criminal there, right? Yet Robertson is among those thousands of ministers trying to criminalize the bedroom behavior of consenting adults, both married and not so married. As David Frum pointed out today in his sequel to this very article, when you start seeking to criminalized what is legal, you cease to be talking about a moral issue. Now you’re into a political issue and, well, as you can see, the people teaching morals and pushing criminalization aren’t exactly qualified to do their job.

  • Houndentenor

    Abortion is a settled issue for the vast majority of Americans. The best way to reduce the number of abortions would be to convince those not trying to get pregnant to use birth control. Of course there are many on the right (Santorum made a comment recently) who oppose birth control too. But that would be the a better way to reduce the number of abortions, rather than turning desperate women into criminals for trying to terminate their pregnancy.

    Here’s my question for those who want abortion to be illegal: what do you think the criminal penalty should be for a woman who has an abortion?

    • Watusie

      And if personhood begins with conception:
      1) how are we going to register each conception
      2) how are we going to police each pregnant woman to make sure she carries to term
      3) what is going to be the procedure for investigating each miscarriage and ruling on whether it was natural or induced

    • Michigan Outsider

      Before Roe was decided, what were the potential criminal penalties for a woman having an abortion in a state where it was illegal?

      Before Roe was decided, how many women were actually subjected to criminal prosecution for having an abortion? How many were convicted? What was the sentence imposed upon them?

      • Watusie

        Before Roe v Wade we did not have one of our two major political parties espousing the position that life begins at conception and abortion is murder. In order to demagog the issue the Republicans have raised the stakes, and so you don’t get to weasel out and say well really we’ll just go back to the way it used to be.

        • Michigan Outsider

          Sure, let’s just ignore historical facts so that we can focus on your strawmen?

        • Houndentenor

          It’s a question, not a strawman. If abortion will be illegal, shouldn’t I assume that women who have abortions will be penalized in some way? If not, why bother making it illegal? In the days before Roe I assume they mostly targeted doctors but now that you can terminate a pregnancy by taking a pill, the doctor is not always necessary.

          I have yet to find someone who is anti-abortion answer this question. What are the pro-lifers afraid of? That the practicality of making abortion illegal again will turn off even more people from their point of view?

        • Primrose

          The answer most anti-choice people make is that it is the doctors compelling women to have abortions, the wicked abortion doctors are who will be penalized, leaving women with no body but actually wicked quacks. Thus there is a penalty Watutsi, it’s death, like in the old days.

        • torourke

          You’re right, we had two, including the Democratic Party. Ted Kennedy himself wrote a letter in the early 1970′s stating that he thought abortion was wrong:

          ““While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life,”

          “Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which much be recognized–the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old,” wrote Kennedy.

      • Demosthenes

        +1

    • Graychin

      “What do you think the criminal penalty should be for a woman who has an abortion?”

      Good luck getting any “pro-life” politician to answer that question.

      • medinnus

        I’m pretty sure Bachmann would answer it.

      • Primrose

        Actually, there are countries (in Central America I believe) where women, even mothers are put in prison for having abortions. So don’t assume it wouldn’t happen.

    • balconesfault

      Personally, I’m looking forward to “stings” where police entrap pregnant women seeking a back-alley abortion, lock them up, and force them to carry to term.

      • Watusie

        After which they’ll be sent a bill, becasue, as we all know, there is no right to health care.

    • overshoot

      “Here’s my question for those who want abortion to be illegal: what do you think the criminal penalty should be for a woman who has an abortion?”

      For tactical reasons, they’re not proposing sanctions against the women, just the for the MDs. And they’re not being real clear about the actual sanctions — although the way that the “personhood” amendments are drawn, it would be premeditated murder.

      • Primrose

        Isn’t there already a law in one of the southern states requiring all miscarriages be identified and judged whether they are abortions or not?

        Given the high rate of miscarriages in regular pregnancy, that should be fun for women.

        • overshoot

          Isn’t there already a law in one of the southern states requiring all miscarriages be identified and judged whether they are abortions or not?

          Proposed in Georgia, but not yet law.

          As for the insane burden on the good (*cough* white *cough*) women of Georgia, well, there might be a bit of prosecutorial discretion required.

    • Chris Balsz

      What is the number of this “vast majority”?

  • MattP

    Can Abortion Become a Non-Issue? Perhaps – if the Democratic Party actually attempted to live up to its purported mission of standing up for the most vulnerable classes of people in our society. After all, the right to life is the most basic of social safety nets in a civilized society – and standing up for the rights of the unborn would actually fit in quite nicely with what are considered traditional Democratic Party principles (if you actually believe that the party cares about the least among us). However, single women vote while unborn children do not – so I don’t see abortion becoming a non-issue anytime soon.

    • Watusie

      OK, MattP, tell us about these “rights of the unborn”.

      And while you are at it, you can flesh out your argument for why single women voting is bad. Shall we restrict women’s suffrage to just married ladies? Do they have to be of a certain station, or will any old wreck of a husband do? What about men – universal suffrage for them? Or do you want status requirements placed on them as well.

      • MattP

        “OK, MattP, tell us about these “rights of the unborn”.”

        We could start with the right to life. I think that is a thing.

        “And while you are at it, you can flesh out your argument for why single women voting is bad. Shall we restrict women’s suffrage to just married ladies?”

        Huh? How did you come up with that? This is what is called “reaching for an argument”. I thought that any rational-thinking person would understand the point I was making by saying “single women vote while unborn children do not” – but then again I am a political science guy. It looks like wileedog below here understands. Let me put it this way: according to recent CDC stats, 84% of abortions that took place in 2007 were performed on unmarried women. In 2008, Democrats received 70% of the unmarried female vote.

        • Watusie

          define “right to life” and to whom it attaches.

          Explain to me why widows voting for Democrats is a cause for alarm.

          Did you also know that the majority of women who get abortions in America are already mothers? So shall we start looking into the voting patterns of this suspect class as well?

    • Primrose

      The right to life has never included the right to use another’s body against their will. People can die without donating their organs even though that means many others will die too. When the so-called pro-life movement forces people to donate their kidneys, or blood or even take away the right to deny organ donation, then they can talk about the right to life.

      • MattP

        “The right to life has never included the right to use another’s body against their will.”

        Re-read this. You are basically making the same argument that a pro-lifer would make to promote their position.

        As for not being able to call yourself pro-life unless you support compulsory organ donation…who comes up with these arguments?

        • Primrose

          I do Matt. Because otherwise you are saying that everyone has the right to bodily integrity except women of reproductive age.

        • Crime Dog

          A mother can easily survive without a fetus growing inside her. The opposite is not true.

        • Primrose

          Which is why I use the example of organ donations. Refusing to donate your organs is refusing to maintain the life of somebody who needs it to live. Thus the state makes it clear that bodily integrity is more important than the right to life.

      • overshoot

        “The right to life has never included the right to use another’s body against their will. ”

        Since this is FRUM forum, look up the word “rodef.”

        • Primrose

          Having dutifully looked it up, I’m not sure the point exactly, unless you are making the case that killing doctors who provide abortions is OK under the rodef law. In that case it doesn’t respond to my post but the one on punishment of women who have abortions.

        • overshoot

          Halachically, a fetus which is a threat (and generally “threat” is pretty broadly defined) to the woman is treated as a rodef.

        • Primrose

          Ah, now I understand, thanks for explaining.

      • Demosthenes

        Because an unborn fetus inside an expectant mother, and a stranger unrelated to a putative forced organ donor, have the same relationship…

        • Watusie

          Can I force a father to donate a kidney, bone marrow, or blood to his biological child?

        • Demosthenes

          No, but if that father refuses to take his leukemic kid to the hospital then Social Services will throw the deadbeat in jail and make sure the kid gets treated. False equivalence.

        • Primrose

          Yes Demosthenes. They do. My children were strangers to me until they were born, genetically compatible strangers, but only by half their DNA.

        • Primrose

          As I might add, my biological mother is to me, a stranger. The thought Demosthenes, as I’ve expressed before, that she would have been forced to have me, upsets me. That would turn my creation/birth into a kind of a rape and that is not how I wish to start out a moral life.

        • MattP

          “My children were strangers to me until they were born…”

          “The thought…that she would have been forced to have me, upsets me. That would turn my creation/birth into a kind of a rape…”

          I really want to be nice here, but you are freakin nuts lady.

        • Primrose

          Once again Matt, I ask, have you ever been pregnant?

        • Dex

          MattP, Primrose is extremely polite and decorous. You, on the other hand, at a loss for a reasoned response, just showed yourself to be an ass.

        • Primrose

          Thanks Dex.

    • wileedog

      Conversely Matt, the government telling a woman what she can or cannot do with her own body should be a complete anathema to a true conservative.

      Well, unless you need the votes…

      • overshoot

        “unless you need the votes.”

        It all depends on whose ox is gored.

        DF desperately wants the abortion issue to go away because it’s on of the key wedge issues between the Republican Party as it really is and the Republican Party that he gave his lifelong loyalty to. Well, if wishes were fishes …

      • MattP

        “the government telling a woman what she can or cannot do with her own body should be a complete anathema to a true conservative.”

        The thing is, I don’t want to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her own body. If local/state laws allow for legal tattooing, I have no problem with a woman getting one. Breast enhancement/reduction? Go for it. Manicure or pedicure? Have fun. But it is not logical to equate the termination of a seperate human life (or, if you don’t believe life begins at conception, a fetus that will become nothing but a human life) with what a woman may choose to do to her body on any given day based on her own personal freedoms.

        • Demosthenes

          But it is not logical to equate the termination of a separate human life (or, if you don’t believe life begins at conception, a fetus that will become nothing but a human life) with what a woman may choose to do to her body on any given day based on her own personal freedoms.

          +1

        • Watusie

          “But it is not logical to equate the termination of a seperate human life (or, if you don’t believe life begins at conception, a fetus that will become nothing but a human life) with what a woman may choose to do to her body on any given day based on her own personal freedoms.”

          Ah yes – “on any given day”…that’s the problem, isn’t it? Those horrible single women have abortions on a whim.

          I have no problem with the logic that a woman is entitled to make her own decisions and that state has no business forcing her to bring a fetus to term.

        • balconesfault

          But it is not logical to equate the termination of a seperate human life (or, if you don’t believe life begins at conception, a fetus that will become nothing but a human life) with what a woman may choose to do to her body on any given day based on her own personal freedoms.

          The question imo is – when does the state have a legal right to define a “separate human life” without regards to the intention of the mother.

          At the very least, I would think that any conservative with a regard for property rights would agree that the state has no right to execute their compelling interest until the point where the state is ready to take responsibility for the consequences of that removal of the woman’s right to her own property (body).

          In other words, if the state is ready to compensate a woman who does not want her property (body) deformed through the process of carrying and delivering a fetus, perhaps it may make a claim.

          Personally, I’d draw the line at the point where the state is ready to take possession and responsibility for the fetus if induced at the moment the woman decides she no longer wants to carry it. I would agree that it could be deemed criminal to go for an abortion at a time when the state would be willing to take responsibility for inducing, delivering, and raising the newborn – just as we don’t want mothers leaving their newborns behind dumpsters.

        • Demosthenes

          OK, I can see your logic here. But

          a) Do you really want to define bodies as “property” in the same way that houses or cars are “property”?

          b) A day-old zygote could theoretically be placed in e.g. one of Frumple’s artificial wombs, and “induced, delivered, and raised” by a state that affirmed the principle that life begins at conception.

          c) How do you define “life” in such a way that a day-old zygote is not “alive” but a four-month-old fetus — about the current minimum age that has been successfully delivered — is “alive”?

          d) Are you claiming that an unborn fetus is the “property” of its mother? (Honest question, here, just trying to make sure I follow your argument).

        • balconesfault

          Do you really want to define bodies as “property” in the same way that houses or cars are “property”?

          Actually, I personally have less problem with the state, say, requiring someone to add new emissions controls to their vehicles or keep them off the road, or with condemning a home in order to build a new freeway … than with the state telling a woman what she must do with her body. In that sense I’d say that one’s body is kind of a superior form of property to external assets.

          A day-old zygote could theoretically be placed in e.g. one of Frumple’s artificial wombs, and “induced, delivered, and raised” by a state that affirmed the principle that life begins at conception.

          Yep. And I have no problem with the state, in this instance, mandating that the woman undergo an induced delivery of this day-old zygote instead of a surgical abortion, if the state is ready to pay for the whole process.

          OK – let me caveat that. From a moral and legal perspective I have no problem with it – since the state is taking responsibility for their definition of the zygote as a “person” and not saddling the woman with being an unwilling incubation chamber for this independent person.

          As a taxpayer I have significant problems with it ;)

          c) How do you define “life” in such a way that a day-old zygote is not “alive” but a four-month-old fetus — about the current minimum age that has been successfully delivered — is “alive”?

          See above. Problem solved. And the question with respect to the law isn’t “life”, but “personhood”. There are plenty of things which are alive which the law doesn’t protect.

          d) Are you claiming that an unborn fetus is the “property” of its mother? (Honest question, here, just trying to make sure I follow your argument).

          No. I am saying that the unborn fetus does not have superior rights to how the body of the woman is used versus the rights of the woman herself. Rather, I believe that the woman has close to an absolute right in this case.

          “Close to”, because as I note I would allow for her being directed to a procedure to induce delivery instead of aborting a fetus, and I really wouldn’t have problems with it being a finable offense for a pregnant woman who has decided to carry a fetus to term to smoke or drink heavily.

        • Primrose

          Have either of you Matt Demosthenes been pregnant?

  • Michigan Outsider

    I agree that overturning Roe v Wade and, more importantly, subsequent decisions would rather quickly get this issue out of national politics fairly quickly. There are three significant advantages to consigning Roe to the dustbin of history.

    First, a significant majority of Americans agree that abortion should be prohibited after the first trimester. Some of that majority wants to ban more abortions. Some does not. Similarly, most Americans want the same rights of parental consent that they have if one of their kids wants to get their ears pierced. A compromise that would be uncontroversial in many states would be to bar all third trimester abortions and to have real parental consent. While Roe might allow that compromise, subsequent decisions do not. Overturning Roe and the rest of the Supreme Court abortions cases and turning the issues back to the states would lead to many states adopting this compromise and probably being done with this issue for quite a long time.

    Second, because this has been decided by the federal courts, you have a one size fits all rule. A majority of some states would not accept the compromise described above. For example, California and Utah would probably come to different views regarding the right level of abortion regulation. Overturning Roe and the subsequent decisions would allow California and Utah to enact different solutions. If you don’t like one set of restrictions, or lack thereof, you could then vote with your feet.

    Third, when the courts resolve disputes, the winner takes all. Legislatures can resolve disputes with a messy, inconsistent, yet pragmatic, compromise. Personally, I entirely agree that IVF presents the same moral problem as first trimester abortions. In fact, it’s one of the many reasons why we adopted instead of doing IVF. If I could wave a magic wand and eliminate the morally objectionable aspects of IVF, I would. But, I can’t and I also recognize that a majority does not support the sorts of restrictions that I would like placed on IVF. Because I am a citizen in a democracy, not a king, I have to live with that inconsistency. This country would be a lot better off if we were forced to work out solutions to moral problems through the legislative process instead of having them resolved in the courts.

    • Watusie

      In what other areas do you object to “one size fits all” rules? Voting rights? Free speech? Equal pay for equal work?

      • Michigan Outsider

        I don’t think that all states need to have identical qualifications for voting for state office. If some states want to have different minimum ages for voting, that’s fine with me. If some states want to let illegal immigrants vote, I think that the decision would be foolish, but also that states should be allowed to enact such foolishness.

        With respect to the regulation of pay, I have never understood why we have a national minimum wage given how much the cost of living varies across the country. A minimum wage high enough to have an effect in places like New York city is going to cause tremendous job loss in areas where the cost of living is much lower.

        I think that the Supreme Court recognizes local variances in the definition of obscenity in free speech cases.

        • Watusie

          But you don’t dispute that people have a right to vote, and that race and gender based discrimination is wrong, even if localities tinker around the edges with enforcement? So in what what has Roe v Wade imposed a one size fits all regime that is intolerable whereas other SC decisions in other areas which uphold fundamental rights have not?

    • balconesfault

      I agree that overturning Roe v Wade and, more importantly, subsequent decisions would rather quickly get this issue out of national politics fairly quickly.

      Seriously? You don’t expect there would be perpetual efforts at the Federal level to wholly outlaw abortion, or to make crossing of state lines to have an abortion prosecutable? You really haven’t been paying much attention to the gay marriage issue, have you?

      First, a significant majority of Americans agree that abortion should be prohibited after the first trimester.

      I’ve not seen the polling to support that. References, please.

      Similarly, most Americans want the same rights of parental consent that they have if one of their kids wants to get their ears pierced.

      By that token, I suspect most Americans would want the right to demand parental consent before any of their children engaged in sex of any form.

      A compromise that would be uncontroversial in many states would be to bar all third trimester abortions

      So you would bar a third trimester abortion if the health of the mother was endangered?

      Overturning Roe and the rest of the Supreme Court abortions cases and turning the issues back to the states would lead to many states adopting this compromise and probably being done with this issue for quite a long time.

      You’re living in a fairy land that doesn’t exist.

      • Michigan Outsider

        I agree that both sides would try at the federal level, but also think that both sides would ultimately fail, at least in part due to the Senate filibuster rules. When both sides realized that they were not doing anything except symbolic votes, they would probably focus their attention on the states. Even if they did not, the House and Senate have lots of symbolic votes that don’t really change anything so if they continued to hold such votes, it would not really matter.

        Most polls are divided into several categories: (a) no abortions at all, (b) abortions only for rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, (c) abortions only during the first trimester, (d) no restrictions on abortions at all. If you add up the percentages of (a) and (c), you usually get 65 to 75%, depending upon the poll and how the questions are asked. You also get about 65 to 75% if you add up (c) and (d). So, in most places, without Roe, you would end up with abortion being legal, but more restricted than it is now.

        I do not think that we should prohibit abortions to end a pregnancy that is actually causing a significant risk to the life of the mother. I do not know if that means the same thing as you do by “the health of the mother is endangered.” Every pregnancy carries health risks with it so your language could be interpreted to mean allowing all abortions at any time.

        • balconesfault

          I agree that both sides would try at the federal level, but also think that both sides would ultimately fail, at least in part due to the Senate filibuster rules. When both sides realized that they were not doing anything except symbolic votes, they would probably focus their attention on the states.

          The anti-abortion movement is massively well funded, and without question would continue their battle at both the Federal and State levels, no matter how “symbolic” the efforts would be in some cases. And massive amounts of money would be spent on both sides specifically on this issue, without respect to many of the much more significant issues that our country must deal with. Personally, I see it as a pathway to creating a new generation of abortion “carpetbaggers”.

          Most polls are divided into several categories: (a) no abortions at all, (b) abortions only for rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, (c) abortions only during the first trimester, (d) no restrictions on abortions at all. If you add up the percentages of (a) and (c), you usually get 65 to 75%, depending upon the poll and how the questions are asked.

          I did ask for a reference, not for a recollection.

          I do not think that we should prohibit abortions to end a pregnancy that is actually causing a significant risk to the life of the mother. I do not know if that means the same thing as you do by “the health of the mother is endangered.” Every pregnancy carries health risks with it so your language could be interpreted to mean allowing all abortions at any time.

          Would you allow for the state to be sued for a case where the woman died or suffered significant health impacts during childbirth after seeking an abortion and being denied?

    • TerryF98

      Your “solution” would only end up with activists going from Iowa to California to kill doctors who practice a completely legal procedure. No solution at all.

    • JohnMcC

      My Michigan friend, you write: “This country would be a lot better off if we were forced to work out solutions to moral problems through the legislative process rather than having them resolved in the courts.”

      Perhaps if you look at that sentence closely you will see why there is so much push-back to your position. First, what to you is a moral problem is completely different from the moral problem that Ms Primrose has clearly stated, that she has a moral right to the integrity of her body. Second, do you personally find your state legislators more capable of morally binding decisions than…well…than you are? Frankly, I trust the Federal Judiciary only somewhat but that is light years more than I trust my state legislature.

      I recognize that you ‘feel’ that the pregnancy of total strangers is somehow your concern. But factually, I deny it is. And to me, you are intruding into someone else’s affairs by presuming to sponsor laws that control your neighbors in situations that you do not know or understand. It ‘feels’ to me that you are the immoral one here.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    you think we got issues now, just wait a hundred years when we have artificial wombs in which to grow our designer babies. This issue of ever younger fetal viability is something that pro choicers will one day have to address as will the concept of when life begins and what legal rights such fetuses will possess, so fundamentally I think is off 180 degrees on this.

    • Demosthenes

      I agree. There is no logical or clearly-defined point at which there is a qualitative difference (in terms of “being alive”) between zygote, embryo, fetus, and newborn. And the slippery, sloped grey areas continue to proliferate as our technology advances.

      Watusie: defining life at conception does not mean “investigating” every miscarriage. That is a straw man. Nobody is advocating that.

      • Ray_Harwick

        Well, Rick Santorum spoke last week on the need to prohibit contraceptives. That level of prohibition implicates the desire to account for every sperm cell and egg as if contraception were a criminal act. I know Santorum is not alone in this view. He gives it a tap with his rubber mallet every chance he gets but he’s speaking the official view of the Catholic hierarchy which wields a sledge hammer.

        Paranoid. I know. But even the bucket and saucer method of birth control registers as murder to the Santorumites.

        • Demosthenes

          Yes, it’s unfortunate the RCC has taken such a hard-line stance, particularly as regards Catholic politicians. It is abundantly clear that the best way to prevent abortions is to prevent unintended pregnancies. A pro-active stance on contraception (and sex education) would go a long way toward reducing the prevalence of unintended pregnancies and, accordingly, abortions.

          The way I see it, protecting the right to life of the unborn falls within the duties of the state. There are good secular reasons to limit the practice of abortion. I see no similarly secular reasons for limiting access to contraceptives, while at the same time there are many different reasons why ready access to contraceptives is a public health necessity (to say nothing of the role of contraceptives in preventing unintended pregnancies and thus abortions).

      • Primrose

        So a women who doesn’t want her child and wants to give it up for adoption can induce a birth at 24 weeks? Since it is viable.

      • valkayec

        …defining life at conception does not mean “investigating” every miscarriage. That is a straw man. Nobody is advocating that.

        Actually, several Southern state legislators are advocating that exactly. One state legislator wanted to criminalize every miscarriage because it might have been an abortion. Another wanted to outlaw certain birth control pills because they would prevent implantation. The list of laws goes on and on.

        As to when “life” begins or is viable, the Court – not even the Bible – has decided this issue because people, thus far, have not been able to agree on it, although generally it’s accepted as “quickening.” Buddhists, for example, say life does not begun until the soul has entered the body and that doesn’t occur until just prior to birth. Catholics now say it’s at conception although throughout Catholic history that has not been the case. Jewish history allowed for contraception and abortions until quickening.

        I wonder what men would say about abortion, birth control, and pregnancy if they were the ones forced to carry a child and pay all the bills too? I have to admit I get mighty tired of men arguing this issue when they’re the ones let off scot-free from any responsibility and don’t have to physically deal with the issue. As I woman, I have to say keep your hands off my body; it belongs to me and not to the state or anyone else. As a woman, I say let me decide when I want to become pregnant and have a child. I’m not a child; I don’t need someone else making decisions for me; I’m perfectly capable of making good decisions for myself. In addition, male arguments tend to sound more like fear of women and thus the desire to control women than any logical argument about human life.

        • Primrose

          Amen Valkayec. Amen.

          I like to be fair and don’t wish to shut people down with, you don’t understand; and then they get going in their argument, with no humility, no trust in our (women) judgement or moral capacity or even understanding of the nitty gritty of the process, and I am completely frustrated. The idea that a women 7 months pregnant is just looking for a loophole to abort the child, particularly galls me. As if she had forgotten, bimbo that she was, she was pregnant until that time.

          Since I know from previous references that you have grown children, I was interested in your opinion on Demosthenes insistence that mothers and babies are not strangers.

          When my children were born, they seemed like total strangers, albeit ones that I was prepared to fall in love with. All I could do was stare and stare at them, trying to get to know them. This was true even of my daughter, whose sex I knew and thus whose name I used before she was born, so more projection was involved. She still seemed a stranger. It seemed very important to touch both my babies a lot to in order to learn who they were as well.

        • Traveler

          valkayek (and Primrose)

          Very interesting take on the Buddhist aspect (which illuminates much of Demosthene’s perspectives). According to that school of thought, I understand the soul becomes embodied at the moment of conception, apparently fascinated by the act. Of course, if you were really bad and were only entitled to return as a bug, would you be be attracted only to locust copulation? (Seems about as flawed as the concept of aborted fetus’ souls being treated to an eternal stint in heaven.) But maybe I am completely wrong and admit such. So Demo can you enlighten me? I sure don’t agree with many of your posts, but I respect your journey.

          The concept of soul thus suffers from formidable inconsistency when examined logically. No wonder so many of us are atheists, or agnostic. Fact is, there ain’t even a jury on this one, and there never will be. So we all get to call it the way we see it, and try our best to convince the rest of us.

          At any rate, that detail doesn’t matter, it’s the theological issue of when the soul, whatever that might be, becomes vested in the body. Demo’s take is that it happens at the gitgo, yours is that happens before parturition. But the key thing is that most of us seem to agree that something happens.

          As to the stranger thing, I am surprised. You were the mother, not me, so I cannot understand. For me, my daughter’s birth was like getting reacquainted. I guess I am lucky. (teenage years were a challenge though.)

          Sorry for the metaphysics, but I do think it matters. My stepdaughter gave her baby to adoptive parents, The kid turned out to be quite cool. So I am quite proud of her. Abortion is not always the answer. It is not cut and dry though.

        • Primrose

          As an adopted child, I obviously am not against adoption but I am very much against it being treated as a simple matter without a choice. I don’t know how your step-daughter feels, but it seems to me that there is a vast deal of difference between choosing to go through a pregnancy and having the child adopted and being forced into a pregnancy.

          The one may be difficult but it is an act of love, whether for the child, or simply life itself. Being forced is not only difficult but bears all the emotional scars of force.

          As to how you felt about your daughter. How Buddhist of you! I like it.

          I would never presume to tell someone how they were supposed to feel about such an event. This is what I particularly object to about Demosthenes point. He is insisting on prescribed emotional connections based on what? Similar DNA. I don’t share any DNA with my mother, who I would term, (in opposition to common usage) my real mother. Meanwhile, my connection with my biological mother is intellectual at best. If we should meet, I’m sure it would be emotional; Hollywood certainly tells me so, but then what? Will I have the same deep connection? Not judging from the people I know who have found their mothers.

          I’ve been trying to find the Gabriel Garcia Marquez quote about our loving our children not because they are ours but the friendship we make raising them. Alas, I can’t find it, but the sentiment, poorly quoted as I have, still stands.

          Or to put it another way, blood may be thicker than water but what makes it “blood” not water isn’t genetics.

        • balconesfault

          I love this dialogue.

        • valkayec

          My daughters are both mine from biology. My grandson is adopted…and I love him dearly. I’d give my life for him. But here’s the point that needs to be made: pregnancy is expensive and socially time consuming. When a woman is pregnant she can expect thousands of dollars in medical bills that she may not be able to pay; she may expect thousands of dollars in care for a child she really did not want. Men can run away with all kinds of excuses – see Rep Johnson of IL – but women can’t as easily.

          My daughter, who adopted my wonderful grandson was lucky. She couldn’t maintain a pregnancy and found a woman who, thanks to being in the military, was able to carry her pregnancy forward to birth and give him up to a loving home. But that’s not the case with all pregnancies.

          Pregnancy should not be within the public domain, but within the domain of woman and doctor. I know of no woman who choose abortion because she was an emotional twit, but rather because she weighed the pros and cons and made her decision based upon what was best economically, religiously, and psychologically for herself and her family. Aborting a child is not an easy decision, regardless of what some may say. It’s difficult and heart rending as every woman who had been through it knows. It is also something no man will ever understand or appreciate.

          Moreover, I continue to believe that fewer abortions will occur when the economic consequences of pregnancy devolve far less on females alone. I know. I’ve been there and had to make the choice of deciding between caring or my existing children or continuing a pregnancy that required foregoing the income that kept my children housed, fed, and clothed to pay the bills another pregnancy required. It was the most difficult decision I ever had to make. But in the end my existing, beloved children took precedence.

          I don’t absolutely know when a “soul” enters a new human body. God hasn’t come down personally to enlighten me. But I choose to believe in Buddhism for a variety of reasons that make more intellectual sense than traditional Christianity. That’s my choice; and thus my choice to believe in when the human spirit inhabits a human body. That may not be anyone else’s belief system, but it’s mine and no one has the superior knowledge and right to say its wrong. None of us is God or an all-knowing being.

        • Demosthenes

          valkayec, I want to say two things. First, thank you for sharing, not only your personal history, but also your Buddhist faith. And second, that I sincerely hope you didn’t take offense at any of my characterizations of Buddhism or Buddhist beliefs. I know that more and more Americans are identifying as Buddhist, which is one of the reasons why I try to include a Buddhist perspective in my articulation of various positions. Please do not hesitate (not that you would!) to let me know if you think I have said something that is inconsistent with Buddhism as you have received or understood it. Part of my graduate research was on the phenomenon of “Modern Buddhism,” as it has sometimes been called, which some have distinguished from contemporary globalized Tibetan Buddhism — the kind of Buddhism with which I am personally most familiar. Which is just to say, this isn’t about who is the “True Scotsman,” and I apologize if it ever appears that way.

        • Primrose

          Valkayec, I know you most likely won’t get this because we’ve moved to new threads, but just in case, I wanted to thank you for your honesty. I think it is courageous.

          And this gets down to it, I trust women to make this decision. I know being a mother is not always about baking cookies for cute little cherubs. Even single woman know this. As your case proves, making this decision sometimes means you take the issue more not less seriously.

          I sometimes wonder if women who have had abortions all came out once, whether it might change things.

    • drdredel

      100 years?! I’d say 25 is a fairly conservative number. And don’t forget that in around the same time period we will have solved cell death, and anyone who can afford it will be able to live (effectively) for ever.

      The human race is on the verge of a massive, and wholly artificial, or self tailored if you prefer, evolutionary jump. Bypassing millions of years of natural selection (which would almost certainly never come about anyway, since we no longer select procreativity, based purely on biological desires). So… what to do with all this then? If you think the religious Right is up in arms now, just wait till they get wind of all this! They’ll be begging for us to go back to simply aborting fetuses. :)

    • overshoot

      you think we got issues now, just wait a hundred years when we have artificial wombs in which to grow our designer babies.

      Designer babies, bah. Bear in mind that we can produce pluripotent stem cells from somatic cells now, and there’s no prima facie reason why pluripotent stem cells can’t be induced to grow into a full human body.

      Which means that every cell in your body is just as much a potential voter as a zygote. So where do we draw the line?

  • medinnus

    What the Pro-Life side consistently ignores (while its terrorist fringe assassinate doctors and bomb abortion clinics) is that once upon a time, abortion was illegal in the United States.

    The Rich had their private doctors attend to the matter.

    The Middle Class had their daughters take a two-week vacation in Mexico or Cuba, where there were medical facilities who performed the procedure.

    The Poor died from botched operations and/or secondary infections. Or gave birth to even more unwanted children, which in turn… well, do the math.

    So, aside from killing the Poor, and making the Middle Class and the Rich take unexpected “vacations”… meanwhile, yet another legal inroad on government control over your bodies.

    • overshoot

      So, aside from killing the Poor, and making the Middle Class and the Rich take unexpected “vacations”… meanwhile, yet another legal inroad on government control over your bodies.

      Where’s the downside?

    • Michigan Outsider

      And when slavery was legal,

      Some of the rich had a lot of slaves, who did all the hard work, and let the rich live in luxury.

      Some of the more middle class may have had a few slaves to reduce the burdens of their lives and let them live longer and easier lives.

      The poor worked themselves into an early grave.

      Despite this, our solution was not to provide everyone with a slave, but to eliminate slavery.

      • balconesfault

        Despite this, our solution was not to provide everyone with a slave, but to eliminate slavery.

        And yet here you are, functionally ready to make a woman a slave to the state for the period of an unwanted pregnancy.

        • valkayec

          …and saddle her with thousands of dollars worth of medical bills.

        • Primrose

          To be specific 5K for a normal birth, not counting hospital costs and any anethesisa and 10K for the increasingly imperative Caesarean, again not counting hospital costs. Or at least that was the cost 6 years ago when my daughter was born. It may be more expensive now.

        • Michigan Outsider

          If the human being that she helped conceive is truly unwanted or she lacks the financial resources to pay for it, then she could place her child for adoption. It is not uncommon for children who are adopted to have older siblings who were not placed for adoption. There are plenty of potential parents who would be more than willing to pay all of the medical costs associated with her pregnancy and to devote themselves for the rest of their lives to raising, loving and supporting that child.

        • balconesfault

          That’s very nice. And you’re happy with forcing by law a woman to carry a fetus to term so that these well-off people can have a child?

        • Crime Dog

          Not if the child is the offspring of an inner-city (read: non-white) drug addict.

        • Watusie

          The majority of women who have abortions are already mothers. So don’t be surprised if they get back to you with the information that they place a higher priority on caring for their existing family than they do in providing a child for someone else to raise.

        • Primrose

          Once again Michigan Outsider, it is not a pleasant thought to have come into this world through force, i.e. the mother. I would not do that to my biological mother. Nor does adoption means one forgoes the rigors of pregnancy, which can be quite serious and make rearing the children you do have more difficult. That you act as if pregnancy is as of nothing makes me fairly sure you have never done it.

  • Watusie

    So, the state has no ability to force a man to go through the quick, nearly painless, and totally safe procedure of blood donation to save the life of his biological child.

    However, the state should force women to go through a full-term pregnancy, with all its attendant stresses, strains, dangers and costs.

    What can be concluded?

    Either fetuses enjoy a superior set of rights than children, or men enjoy a superior right to bodily integrity than women, or both.

    • Demosthenes

      The reduction of citizens and societies to associations of “rights holders” is not limited to issues of the First or Second Amendment. The attitude on display in the post above is just that a woman has no obligation to the child she carries. As though expectant mothers and their unborn children are nothing but strangers to one another, an unwelcome parasitic growth inhabiting an unwilling host. As though families are reducible to individual “rights holders” whose rights are pitted against each other. To the victor goes the spoils, every man and woman and child (and fetus) for him- or herself.

      The accusations of sexism are absurd. Worse than absurd. Ad hominem, non sequitur, straw men.

      • drdredel

        I don’t follow. If you examine the hypothetical, on its face, where is the ad hominem or straw man? A mother has a responsibility to her fetus, a father has a responsibility to his 1 day old infant. Let’s extend the hypothetical slightly further. Let’s say this is a genetic disorder for which the only possible donor is the father. Is it your position that the State can/should have the right to compel the father to donate his blood? Or if we make the analogy even more aligned, what if it wasn’t blood but some procedure that carried the same health risks as carrying and delivering a baby?
        You can’t dismiss this as irrelevant just because it happens to not be a biological reality because the moral argument remains. At what point does an individual’s responsibility to her offspring become a matter for the State, and to what extent? And further, if the State does get involved in requiring a woman to have the child (or a father to donate his organs to keep it alive), is it not then responsible for providing that child with a life of average opportunity and prosperity?

        • Primrose

          Demosthenes problem is that he or she is firmly attached to the sentimental concept of motherhood, not the reality.

          Why does a mother who does not want to carry a child have an obligation to do so if she does not wish it?

        • Traveler

          drdredel,

          I appreciate the way you frame it so elegantly. Sauce for geese and ganders indeed. Quite impressive logic.

      • balconesfault

        As though expectant mothers and their unborn children are nothing but strangers to one another, an unwelcome parasitic growth inhabiting an unwilling host.

        In fact – yes. If the woman is unwilling, then the fetus is a parasitic growth.

        The bond between becomes mother and child becomes spiritually significant via the desire of a woman to bear the child. Divorced from that desire, we are talking about simply a biological process, a parasite if you will.

        The law cannot legislate the desire of the woman. You are demanding that the law legislate the biological function, independent of the desire of the woman – which makes it purely biological, and makes her simply an incubator commandeered by the state.

        • Primrose

          +1 Balcone’s fault.

        • Watusie

          61% of abortions in America are obtained by women who already have one or more children.

          I think they know all about the choice they are making.

        • Primrose

          Watusie (sorry for spelling your name wrong elsewhere) where could I find those stats? I’m not challenging you but would like reference them myself.

        • drdredel

          “…an unwelcome parasitic growth inhabiting an unwilling host.” indeed… this is a tremendous red herring. The State can’t possibly have any influence about how anyone feels about anything. In general, “feelings” have no business in this conversation at all. Some women think they’re carrying a parasite and others don’t even know they’re pregnant, while still others think that maybe they’re carrying the next messiah. The fact is that this is immaterial.
          It’s an unfortunate (and at this point temporary) reality that the only way that people are made is through the process of pregnancy. But as long as that remains true, women obviously get to decide if the fetus gets to exist or not. Anything else would be a preposterous tyranny.

      • Primrose

        Without choice, without willing sacrifice, that’s what you are reducing families too, Demosthenes, not I.

        What is beautiful about parental love occurs when a parent willingly takes on the task of parenthood. You can not legislate love and devotion.

  • ottovbvs

    This is an entirely sterile argument since the likelihood of Roe being overturned legislatively by either party is negligible to non existent. The Democrats while not entirely happy can live with it while Republicans (or at least the legislating class of Republicans) have enough savvy to realize that if they did overturn it they would be handing the Democrats the (if you’ll excuse the term) the mother of all issues. This leaves low level skirmishing at the state level which usually gets settled in the direction of women’s rights by the courts and where it doesn’t it tends to turn into a cause celebre which harms Republicans with women voters. Either way it’s a loser for Republicans despite the endless parsing and casuistry by conservatives like Carney who along with the rest of them is obviously completely detached from the reality of how in my experience most women feel about this (even churchgoers). They simply think it’s a completely unwarranted intrusion into a private medical matter. But go ahead conservatives knock yourselves out if that’s what you want to do.

    • indy

      It does offer a pretty good insight into what gays are going to have to go through when they are allowed to marry. They will be fighting these exact same sorts of low level legal skirmishes for decades.

      • ottovbvs

        Yes probably another two decades by which time we’ll have reached the demographic tipping point. This is ultimately another loser issue for the Republicans but they are trapped by the prejudices of the base. Couldn’t happen to nicer people.

      • drdredel

        I don’t think you’re right. Seeing as how there is no fundamental controversy as it pertains to gays (akin to “murder”, as it pertains to abortion). I think gay marriage is going to to be much more like the indecency laws of the 50s and 60s. We’ll simply outgrow them, and no one will give a crap. If we’re lucky it won’t take 30 years.

        • indy

          I think I’m right by virtue of the fact that I live in the very red and very rural part of the land and have been observing how things operate in these parts for quite some time.

          You are right, however, some segments of the country will adapt quickly. Others—not so much.

  • Primrose

    “A day-old zygote could theoretically be placed in e.g. one of Frumple’s artificial wombs, and “induced, delivered, and raised” by a state that affirmed the principle that life begins at conception.”

    Yes what’s the problem with that Demosthenes?

    • drdredel

      I don’t see any reason to compel a woman to undergo any medical procedure, even one as relatively un-traumatic as having a day old zygote extracted.

      Really… what problem are we trying to solve? fetuses can be terminated without any suffering. we have enough people on the planet (7 billion on Oct 31! TRICK OR TREAT!!). Even if you believe in souls (which I don’t) you can work into your mythology some mechanism for the soul of this child to go and be born in some other. Someone help me out here… where’s the issue?

      • Watusie

        The pope says no.

      • Primrose

        I think the state can ask a person to go to some mild inconvenience to protect the right to life of another, stop signs , safety regulations etc. I’m not coming up with anything that deals with one’s body off the top of my head but I’m sure they are out there.

        Thus, it is perfectly reasonable for the state to say that a good compromise between the idea of a fetus life and that of a woman’s right to bodily integrity would be for her have the zygote taken out and raised in an artificial womb, though of course it would really be a several week old embryo by the time the woman found out. That’s why we can’t freeze unwanted embryo’s now, it’s too late.

        I think most woman would be cool with it as well, unless they were raised by the state and found it horrific. Personally, a transfer program for woman who can’t have them seems more likely. Or freezing for later use by the women. Or perhaps for transport to Mars. Good wombs are hard to make and I think the technology is much farther away than you all do.

        • valkayec

          Once a zygote is implanted into the uterine wall, it would take major, invasive surgery to remove it without killing the zygote…and even then it might not live.

        • Primrose

          Well we “flush” cow embryos without harm or much invasion.

          According to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension service:

          “To collect the embryos nonsurgically, a small synthetic
          rubber catheter is inserted through the cervix of the donor cow,
          and a special medium is flushed into and out of the uterus to
          harvest the embryos seven or eight days after estrus. This
          collection procedure is relatively simple and can be completed
          in 30 minutes or less without harm to the cow.”

          So it we really just have to learn how to do it later in time. It doesn’t require extensive abilities or technical skills, though some people have a knack for it and others don’t. So when I’m thinking of embryo transfer, that’s what I’m thinking of. (Well, OK in a more sterile environment than a cow barn and with personal trained more than a couple of weeks.)

  • think4yourself

    I watched a little bit of Ken Burns “Prohibition” and clearly the passions of the day were as strident and as complex as those regarding abortion of today. So, I’m guessing that if that issue could die down as a national event, so can abortion. But I don’t see it happening.

    I think it does make a difference that abortion only affects a small number of people, while alcohol touched almost everyone (either positively or negatively).

    Being the moderate that I am, I would much rather see all the influencing parties work together to find solutions to continue to lower the rates of abortion rather than work to use the issue for political and monetary gain.

    Abortion is complicated. Unlike what pro-life folks often state, the (mostly) young women who have abortions aren’t callous, sluts who got knocked up and got an abortion for the 3rd time just to get rid of an inconvenience. It’s often people in disparate situation faced with incredibly difficult choices. And unlike what many pro-choice people think, those who are against abortion truly believe that what is growing inside that woman’s body is in fact a person and terminating that pregnancy is in fact murder.

    How better off would we be if instead of using this as a wedge issue, we worked together for solutions to ensure that young women were not in the position of having to make that decision?

    • Primrose

      I think most pro-choice people would take their belief seriously if they didn’t block birth control, and expected the government to provide actual help to these single mothers. But as soon as money is required, it is all of a sudden a choice.

      • Demosthenes

        On this board and elsewhere I have advocated ready access to contraceptives as part of a sane and comprehensive pro-life policy. And I liked Mike Huckabee in 2008 because he called it right: prenatal care, postnatal care, a functioning education system (particularly at the primary level), and in general respect for human life at every stage of development are all necessary corollaries of a sane and comprehensive pro-life policy.

  • indy

    A Court makes an illegitimate decision when it over-reaches its legal authority to make a decision it has no right to make.

    Comprehension problems? The passage I quoted from the constitution places SOLE legal authority of laws and equity in the hands of the supreme court. How can they act beyond their legal authority since they ARE the only legal authority on what constitutes their legal authority?

    • Lonewolf

      Sigh. As usual, the poster quoted assumes secular, legal authority and their own personal moral code are one and the same thing. Yet people who think this way inevitably have the nerve to accuse ME of moral relativism.

  • Lonewolf

    Any political philosophy that forces a desperate woman to replace a competent physician with a coat hanger is fundamentally evil.

  • indy

    Do you accept that as settled law?

    No, no matters of law are ever ‘settled’. What does that have to do with whether or not the SC is acting within the scope of their powers as set forth in the constitution?

  • LocalGroup

    The elimination of infants inside or outside the mother’s womb has been practiced for over 5000 years and probably for much longer than that. Our civilization today looks the way it does because of that practice. In the last couple hundred years, religous man in his hubris, modern man with his inflated conception of himself, has decided that the Holy Moly he worships has, after all these years, declared a prohibition on a woman’s right to chose.

    This very same religious dogma slaughtered hosts of Muslims during the Crusades, and native Central Americans during the exploration of the New World. Now, to make up for the myriad lives they took in the past, they have decided to save lives by preventing women from having abortions.

    Give me a break.

    “The first recorded evidence of induced abortion, is from the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus in 1550 BCE.[3] A Chinese record documents the number of royal concubines who had abortions in China between the years 515 and 500 BCE.[4] According to Chinese folklore, the legendary Emperor Shennong prescribed the use of mercury to induce abortions nearly 5000 years ago.[5] Many of the methods employed in early and primitive cultures were non-surgical. Physical activities like strenuous labor, climbing, paddling, weightlifting, or diving were a common technique. Others included the use of irritant leaves, fasting, bloodletting, pouring hot water onto the abdomen, and lying on a heated coconut shell.” [Wikipedia]

    And let’s not forget ‘infant exposure’:

    “…throughout history infanticide has been common. Anthropologist Laila Williamson notes that “Infanticide has been practiced on every continent and by people on every level of cultural complexity, from hunter gatherers to high civilizations, including our own ancestors. Rather than being an exception, then, it has been the rule.”[2]
    A frequent method of infanticide in ancient Europe and Asia was simply to abandon the infant, leaving it to die by exposure (i.e. hypothermia, hunger, thirst, or animal attack).[3][4] Infant abandonment still occurs in modern societies.[5]” [Wikipedia]

    Fast forward to the 21st Century and the greatest Democracy in the History of Man. A Democracy founded by forebears who came across the ocean to find religious freedom. The right to practice their own religion without the interference of other, perhaps less tolerant, religions.

    Now some of the progeny of America’s early settlers are now trying to shove their view of God up the butts of everyone else. And if they don’t believe in havings abortions, thgan no one else can have them.

    In their hypocrisy or self-righteousness they want to throw the baby of religious freedom out with the bathwater of their stunted beliefs.

    Whom the Gods would destroy, they first infect with self-righteous Christians.

  • LocalGroup

    .

  • Primrose

    “Sorry, you’re stuck with mere equality.”

    That is all I ever asked for Chris.

    Now, if the aliens attack and I am forced to have at least 10 more children in order to do my bit to save the human race, I may feel differently. But I think we can both agree, that were such a scenario to occur, we’d all lose core beliefs.

  • Demosthenes

    Traveler, it depends on the kind of Buddhism you’re talking about, but yes, in general, all Asian Buddhist traditions recognize that life begins at conception. Even in the earliest Pali literature there is reference to distinct stages of development in the womb (my personal favorite is the “yogurt splat” phase), but from the beginning it is clear that the Buddhist tradition maintained the continuum of an individual human life begins at conception. The particular teaching in Tibet is that those who will be men are attracted to the mother, and those who will be women to the father, at the moment of conception. The thing about being born as a cockroach or whatever is that, while one is in the period between lives (bar do), the force of your prior intentions and habitual tendencies — most especially and particularly the results of your past positive and negative actions — propels you to one of the “Six Realms” of cyclic existence. And I do realize that this is extremely difficult for Westerners to accept, but reincarnation is not a theory or a belief, it is a fact.

    Primrose, first of all, thank you for sharing more of your story. It does help me to understand your attitude toward adoption and abortion. The way I see it, unrestricted access to abortion might well have left you without ever being born. We don’t know anything about your biological mother, and your anger (or apathy) towards her is of course understandable. But think how many unborn children in your exact same situation will never get to experience life the way that you have experienced life, because they will never be brought to term. They could be adopted, instead they will be aborted. It’s curious to me that you feel the way you do, I have had several adopted friends over the course of my life, and even while their politics have been quite left-leaning in general they are to a person staunchly pro-life.

    valkayec, I am curious exactly when in Catholic history abortion was OK? St. Paul condemns the practice in his letters. Of course that provides more historical evidence that the practice did exist even in the earliest Church, but existing is not the same thing as being seen as legitimate or OK. It’s not just the Catholics, btw, the teaching that life begins at conception is universal to Nicene Christianity. Eastern Orthodox, if anything, are even more staunch in maintaining that life begins at conception.

    In general, I would like to say two things. First, this has been a remarkably civil discussion given the subject matter, so thank you to everyone. Second, it would probably help the pro-choicers’ cause if they backed away from embracing the language of calling unwanted embryos “parasites”, ditto making reference to “‘flushing’ cow embryos” as part of some kind of argument with reference to human abortion.

    • valkayec

      @Dem – I find some of the language you mentioned to be despicable in part because it makes women – and humans in general – less than moral beings.

      Nevertheless, I disagree with you in a couple of aspects.

      First, abortions have been done and accepted throughout much of Christianity. The Holy See may not have approved, but at the local and noble level it was quite common and few had any difficulty with the practice. In the Medieval era, abortion was quite common and accepted, perhaps because the Church’s negative attitude towards women. It may have been St Augustine, I forget now, who said men should remain celibate and single unless they wished to have children. If children was the goal, then it was okay to marry but otherwise men should never deal with women. Of course, that was a common theme within the Church hierarchy during the Medieval era and lasted well into the Renaissance. The Early Modern era began to see a change in that attitude with the advent of Humanism. Nevertheless, abortions continued to be quite common amongst women (see abolition of women as nurses and midwives as Witches) which generally the Church turned a blind eye towards.

      Second, I’ve studied Tibetan Buddhism myself. I actually own and have read (as much as I’m capable of given the language barrier) the Tibetan Book of the Dead and several of the Dalai Lama’s books. I disagree with your thesis that in Tibetan Buddhism the soul attaches to the fetus at conception. While conception may draw an unattached soul, the soul does not enter a firm bond until just before birth. Moreover, a soul, should it recognize a fatal lack in the life force of fetus, may withdraw altogether. In addition, those souls that remain with an impaired and/or short lived child often do so to gain or impart knowledge. But should the mother choose to abort the fetus or zygote pre-quickening, no extreme bond breaking of the soul and child occurs as the soul has not completely bonded with the fetus. Nor is the mother condemned to some lessening of her soul unless she does so out of some moral degradation. The record of each person’s choice on every decision is forever written for each soul to determine his or her worthiness to climb to Nirvana or descend and try again: the ultimate in personal responsibility.

      Generally, I enjoy reading and agree with your comments. On this one, however, I believe you are wrong. Perhaps because of your religion. Perhaps because of your gender. But until you walk in the shoes of a female you cannot understand what she feels and thinks. You simply must trust her to make the most difficult decision of her life.

      • Demosthenes

        But until you walk in the shoes of a female you cannot understand what she feels and thinks. You simply must trust her to make the most difficult decision of her life.

        At the end of the day, I think this is one of the main hinges on which the question turns. And as a man, I find it frustrating that my gender is being used to prevent my input. Of course having one’s gender used against oneself in order to discredit one’s point of view is not new in the history of civilization. But while I would certainly never condemn anyone who sought an abortion — her reasons will always ultimately be her own and no one else’s — still I think there is a moral imperative to limit the procedure as far as possible. I don’t fundamentally disagree with “Safe, Legal, and Rare” but I do think there is more, as a society, that we can do to make the procedure more rare. Socializing obstetric care (possibly as part of a single-payer system) would doubtless go a long way toward meeting that goal.

        As for Buddhism, could you gloss “soul”? My understanding is that, while individual beings do very much experience the results of their own past actions, they nevertheless do not possess a “soul” in the sense of an ultimately-existing or transcendent “Self”, which sounds kind of like what you’re talking about. I am referring of course to the concept of anatman.

    • Primrose

      Just for the record, what I actually said before everyone started freaking out is, “In any other situation we would call the embryo a parasite” which makes it clear we don’t here. But I suppose it is much more fun to use this as an excuse to call people baby hating, self-loathing nihlists than actually read or speak with honesty.

    • Primrose

      For the record,Demosthenes, I have neither anger nor apathy toward my biological mother, only empathy. That is my point.

      You want to foist your adoption narrative on my life instead of actually listening. But it really is possible to be simply and purely grateful for one’s life. I can’t be angry because I am grateful. I have wonderful parents. The bad parts of my childhood had nothing to do with them. (Well, OK, the really annoying laugh my father has in the morning is their fault, but into each life some rain must fall.) I really truly don’t get where people get off thinking they’ve been abandoned as if they were left behind a dumpster.

      ”By thinking perhaps of what she might have felt, I can’t be apatheticI was a young woman once. I can only imagine. She had to drop out of school. She loved school apparently. She tried to hide it from her religious parents so not to hurt them. And at some point couldn’t. Was it because the pregnancy was too difficult like mine? Did she go through all that I did with no prize at the end? How lonely she must have been.

      If I heard this story about any other woman, I would feel empathy. I would feel her pain, but because she gave birth to me, because I owe her my life, I should instead feel nothing, unless it be anger?

      I find your view of life astounding.

      Stop talking about things with which you have zero knowledge of, and if that pastime is too difficult at least restrain yourself when you are speaking of my feelings and my soul.

  • Demosthenes

    @drdredel

    Let’s say this is a genetic disorder for which the only possible donor is the father. Is it your position that the State can/should have the right to compel the father to donate his blood? Or if we make the analogy even more aligned, what if it wasn’t blood but some procedure that carried the same health risks as carrying and delivering a baby?

    My position is that a child has the right to life, and the right to such medical care as is necessary for that right to life to be actionable, and that the state has the authority to enforce that right to life, over and above any putative negligence or maltreatment on the part of that child’s parents.

    Given that modern medical technology has made childbearing quite safe except in the case of ectopic pregnancies, if there were a hypothetical case where the only way for a child to survive would be to require that child’s father to undergo medical treatment carrying the exact same risks as a contemporary non-ectopic pregnancy, then yes, I would say it is within the state’s authority to mandate this hypothetical medical treatment. I would also say that fathers should be honored to make the sacrifice, and the fact that we as a society are becoming increasingly fractured — even within an individual “nuclear” family — as groups of “rights holders” instead of citizens and kinsmen to each other, bodes extremely ill for our nation’s future. Again, it is not simply the practice of abortion that is in question, for myself it is even moreso the idea that parents and children are strangers to each other but for a few errant strands of DNA.

    At what point does an individual’s responsibility to her offspring become a matter for the State, and to what extent?

    At the point where an individual’s child sees his or her rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness threatened by the individual in question. To the extent that the state serves as the protector of its citizens’ rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, most especially the right to life.

    And further, if the State does get involved in requiring a woman to have the child (or a father to donate his organs to keep it alive), is it not then responsible for providing that child with a life of average opportunity and prosperity?

    Yes, it most certainly is. As I said above (and elsewhere), the state’s responsibility to its citizens does not end once they leave their mothers’ wombs. Pre-natal care, post-natal care, support for child care, education, and in general respect for all human life at every stage of development are the necessary correlates of a sane and comprehensive pro-life policy.

  • Mo fo sho

    If you will allow an outsider to comment on your Culture War, I think the question behind abortion rights is a profound one, namely: “When does human life begin?” and perhaps even more deeply, “Is potential life worthy of the same rights as life?”.

    Can a clump of cells really be considered a human being with rights and privileges if it has no heartbeat, no brain function, no ability to survive outside the mother, but has the potential to one day be a fully formed human being?

    What I don’t understand is why Americans believe this mystery can be solved in the courts of law. No amount of legislation can change a person’s mind about something so deep; it may control their actions but it cannot alter their thoughts on the matter.

  • Churl

    Is Mr. Frum really convinced that there is a close logical equivalence between the consequences of buying a bottle of Jim Beam and those of aborting a fetus?

    Argue about abortion as you will and conclude as you see fit, but this is as thinly stretched an analogy as I’ve seen lately.

    • valkayec

      Churl, you failed to understand what Frum argues: can society legislate human morality effectively?

      If you saw any of the PBS Prohibition series, you’d understand the argument being made. When some group attempts to legislate morality, whether alcohol consumption or abortion, the object of the prohibition becomes more attractive or an underground, extra-legal market occurs to service the desire for that service or object. Thus, more crime occurs and consumption increases. Once the legal bonds of prohibition end, both crime and consumption decrease as people find new ways to deal with a vexing issue.

      • Churl

        Actually, I read the book Last Call by Daniel Okrent, on which the series was largely based. There was nothing in the book to indicate that drinking alcohol and aborting fetuses are in any way moral equivalents. Many people believe very deeply that an aborted fetus is, in fact, a dead baby and, before the abortion question goes the way of prohibition, these people will have to be convinced otherwise.

        Good luck with that.

      • nhthinker

        “When some group attempts to legislate morality, whether alcohol consumption or abortion, the object of the prohibition becomes more attractive or an underground, extra-legal market occurs to service the desire for that service or object. Thus, more crime occurs and consumption increases.”

        On it’s face, that argument is idiotic.
        Would you like to explain how it should apply to groups that believe in pedophilia or rape or violent bigotry? I suppose some people will try to argue that pedophilia, rape and violent bigotry are not legislated morality..

        The argument only applies if the “immorality” is not considered outrageous enough by an overwhelming majority of the population.

        Thus, drinking to a stupor is not illegal; but drinking and driving is.
        There is not an overwhelming majority that believe that behaviors and decisions that lead to killing a healthy fetus is as bad as the behaviors and decisions that lead to driving drunk.