Public university sued for refusal to bring in anti-abortion speaker

This was inevitable given a U.S. campus climate that demonizes conservative speakers and ideas, and sometimes de-platforms them or shouts them down. According to Friday’s Washington Post, students at a California state university are suing because they were prevented from bringing in a speaker espousing a taboo idea—abortion is morally wrong—while at the same time the university readily funds pro-abortion speakers.

From the Post (my emphasis):

Students for Life at California State University at San Marcos filed a complaint in U.S. District Court, saying the college wouldn’t give them funding to bring an antiabortion speaker to campus. They claim they’re being treated unfairly by a public university that has hosted speakers on controversial topics, including a lecturer who favors abortion rights and a professional sexologist who led “a discussion of BDSM and Kink which included prizes and participation in an interactive workshop.”

The antiabortion group wanted to bring conservative columnist Mike Adams on campus to speak. Adams once referred to abortion rights activists as “animals” that “needed to be caged,” and his controversial statements about abortion and other topics led students to start a petition to get him kicked out of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where he is a professor of criminology.

Nathan Apodaca, the antiabortion group’s president, said other, more liberal groups had received funding for speakers from the mandatory student activity fees at CSUSM, which is near San Diego.

“Some of the speakers that were being brought in had speaking expenses that were the exact same amount that we had been asking for and they were getting funding but we were not,” Apodaca said in a video statement.

The state school is violating the antiabortion group’s constitutional rights, the federal lawsuit says, by forcing its members to “subsidize speech with which they disagree without affording them the opportunity to respond by bringing in their own speakers.”

The case is being handled largely by attorneys for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit that has launched court battles — including several against universities — on behalf of antiabortion or religious groups.

In the CSUSM case, the ADF’s argument is simple, said Casey Mattox, senior counsel for the group: Students should have equal access to the benefits of their fees, regardless of political stance.

“The Supreme Court has said that these kinds of fees can only be collected by schools if they guarantee that the money is handed out in a neutral way,” he said. “You have students who are forced to pay this money every semester that are paying to hear the other side’s perspectives, but not being able to use the money to bring speakers in who represent their views.”

The lawsuit asks the court to declare that CSUSM’s student fee policy violates the constitutional rights of students in the antiabortion group. The lawsuit also asks the court to make CSUSM pay the antiabortion group $500 and refund its student activity fees.

And here’s the inevitable “we like free speech BUT. . ” statement from the university itself.

Margaret Chantung, a spokeswoman for CSUSM, said the university could not comment extensively because of the pending lawsuit.

But she said in a brief statement: “Cal State San Marcos is committed to fostering a campus environment where diverse ideas and views can be presented and discussed. In addition, we take student complaints and concerns very seriously.”

I favor nearly unrestricted abortion—in fact, I agree with Peter Singer that children born with irreparable and life-destroying diseases or defects should be allowed to be euthanized soon after birth. But you simply can’t reinforce a Leftist pro-abortion sentiment on campus by not letting students hear the other side.

I’m currently rereading John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, a short, wonderful book that everyone needs to read, as it’s especially germane in these days when free speech is under assault. (It was, by the way. published in 1859, the same year as On the Origin of Species—a banner year for liberating the human mind.) Mill gives several reasons why no speech except for that promoting immediate harm should be banned. Even if the sentiments in a speech go against popular morality and ideology, as does antiabortion views on most campuses, hearing your opponent’s arguments still gives you a chance to examine and hone your own arguments. It prevents your ideology from going stale by remaining unchallenged, undefended, and then hardening into a mantra whose devotees no longer know the reasons they hold it—beyond observing that it’s the proper liberal view to have. I doubt that many students, for instance, could explain why abortion should be permitted beyond saying “it’s a woman’s right” (that is not an argument) or “women should have control over their own bodies” (but many disagree, including the religious).  Could they argue their case against someone like, say, Ben Shapiro? They should be able to make a case for abortion like this one.

Liberals and progressives need to listen to smart conservatives on the other side, lest we become purveyors of a creed supported not by thought but by conformity.

If you allow liberals to speak, you must allow conservatives to speak. If you allow Israel haters to speak, you must allow Israel supporters.  None of these speakers, once invited, should be deplatformed, disinvited, or forced to cancel their talks for fear of violence or student demonstration. San Marcos should give the students money for the antiabortion talk.


  1. GM
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    students at a Texas state university (one at which I’ve spoken)

    I think you meant a California state university there

    • Teresa Carson
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      Or Texas State University, which is also in San Marcos.

    • Posted May 30, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Yes, it’s California’s San Marcos; I’ve fixed it, thanks.

  2. Sastra
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    There’s an old adage which goes “You can’t understand your own position until you understand the other side” — or words to that effect. Adams admittedly sounds like a piece of work, but he’s likely to make his argument clear, since he knows he’s speaking to a largely hostile audience.

    I really hope those trying to prevent him from speaking reconsider. I especially hope they’re not using the usually fatuous excuse that he’s “trying to deny our humanity.”

    • Peter
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      I believe de Tocqueville said the same about one’s own country, that you can’t really understand it without comparing it to other countries.

    • Posted May 30, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Yes — with this issue more than, perhaps, any other, I don’t see how one can even build an argument based on ethical reasoning without thinking it through from many different points, and starting with extreme perspectives.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        + 1.

  3. Peter
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Fully agree with PCC(E) stance’s on free speech without buts.
    Another reason for free speech, quoting the Italian economist from a recent blog post of his:
    “nothing helps bad arguments more than the impression that they can’t be talked about, most likely because of some dark forces which are suppressing the debate”

  4. jay
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I hope that suit succeeds. We need open discussion, though sadly probably only true believers attend the pro or anti speakers.

    This is one of those subjects that has no scientifically ‘correct’ answer.

    Personally as I’ve gotten older and observed children and grandchildren, I’ve become much less comfortable with the concept other than early term or medical necessity. I’ve also tired of the extremists on both sides.

    • Peter
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Jay, a fetus is not at all like a child (though it will become one if you let it develop).

      • Posted May 30, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        That is way too broad of a statement. You can claim and defend that a fetus in the early stages of development is not at all like a child. But it is hard to defend that a fetus close to birth is “not at all like a child.” The placement of the threshold, of course, is highly personal.

    • Posted May 30, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Yes, the expression “pro-abortion” baffles me. It must be short for “pro-abortion rights”. No medical professional, ever, has said that abortion is good for your health. And only very few ladies claim to be happy and “empowered” by abortion. Women I know to have had an abortion definitely were not happy.

      Unfortunately, the anti-abortion speakers help little to bring a change to make abortion less necessary. Instead, they tell me that I should “take responsibility about my behavior” and not abort. Oh Ceiling Cat, I am taking responsibility, this is exactly why I am aborting!

      • steve oberski
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        Mortality rates for early term (legal) abortion are lower than those of women that go to full term. Especially in the US which has the highest mortality rate for full term delivery among the developed countries.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 31, 2017 at 1:55 am | Permalink

          You beat me to it.

        • Posted May 31, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

          Of course, as pregnancy advances and the placenta develops more and more, pregnancy termination becomes more difficult and hazardous. Shame on those who deliberately put legal hurdles to slow the abortion procedure!

          • Diane G.
            Posted May 31, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

            I may have misread Steve’s comment. I thought he was saying that early abortions are statistically less dangerous that childbirth, which is true. Of course, your comment is true as well, but there are very, very few really late-term abortions. As you know, of course.

    • steve oberski
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Have you become less comfortable with the concept of the mothers of your children and grandchildren having complete autonomy over their bodies?

      • Diane G.
        Posted May 31, 2017 at 1:55 am | Permalink

        Very good question.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      “… I’ve become much less comfortable with the concept other than early term or medical necessity.”

      That’s an excellent reason not to have an abortion yourself and not to encourage a pregnant partner from having one. It’s no reason at all for anyone to foist their views on another by legally prohibiting her from having an abortion.

  5. Posted May 30, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    We have to have equal access to the podium, but on the other hand, I am not sure that referring to one’s opponents as “animals” needing to be caged is productive rhetoric. Neither is the behavior of students who have pitched a riot at Evergreen State Univ. in response to the principled objections to their ideas by a biology professor.

    Sadly, speech lately often deteriorates to who can shout the loudest or fling gratuitous insults. I am not sure the signal to noise ratio of some of these speakers is fitting a university or college environment but still, if student activity fees are to be disbursed fairly, it has to be the student government and its clubs who decide who to invite. Heckler’s veto cannot be allowed.

    • eric
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      Whether Mike Adams is a quality speaker or hack is mostly irrelevant (though it sounds like you agree with me on that).

      The thing about this case that’s got me scratching my head is the school considering the pro-life stance as controversial or beyond the pale. It’s incredibly mainstream. Has been since the early 1980s. The GOP adopted it as a formal platform in 1980. Like it or not, this is a moral debate America is having…regularly.

      • Posted May 31, 2017 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        ” the pro-life stance as controversial or beyond the pale. It’s incredibly mainstream. Has been since the early 1980s.”

        I would say: It’s been mainstream since Roe v. Wade.

        I disagree with it; but it is mainstream.

  6. Posted May 30, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I’m fairly sick and tired of the entire abortion debate which has been going on it seems my entire life. Since the debate seems to be religiously fueled in the main, I don’t see debate having much effect on either side.

    But, having said that, I fully support the rights of both side to be heard. I, too, hope the suit succeeds and that the speaker is able to speak. You can’t fight bad ideas without knowing what they are and how they are made. That’s why I subject myself to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and others of their ilk at times. How do you craft your argument without understanding points against it? And sometimes, as on this issue, the other side has a point.

    • BJ
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Funny thing: I know quite a few people (mostly women) who are against abortion and not religious at all. They just honestly believe that life starts at conception. I think they’re wrong, but I respect that they truly believe it and believe babies are being killed. I always try to see things from the perspectives of others (it promotes empathy for them and hones one’s own arguments — occasionally, it even changes one’s mind!), and I can see why people who think millions of babies are being killed each year would be extremist about it.

      Weirdest part is there are more women than men who are against abortion.

      • Peter
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        I suspect that many people who believe that life starts at conception have not thought this through (obviously some life starts at conception, but it ain’t human life). The same way that many people adopt religious beliefs without much thought (never mind that they say their personal salvation depends on getting these beliefs right). Consider for instance homosexuality. Many conservatives deem it wrong and/or wicked until one of their own kids turns out to be gay which puts them in the situation where suddenly the correctness of this belief actually matters. Before it was just something that you do to other people. Now you have to decide: do you cut your kid loose or do you continue to love it.

        • BJ
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

          Well, the facts are (1) most people aren’t smart, or smart would just be average, and (2) I know plenty of intelligent people who have thought it through and believe it. Just because someone disagrees with a deeply held belief of mine doesn’t mean I think they’re stupid or just haven’t thought about it long enough. There’s still a debate about the question of where, exactly, life begins. To me, it begins at the point of viability outside the womb. Others think it isn’t life until it’s born. Others think it’s when it has a heartbeat. Others think it’s when it starts to look something like a human. I don’t think there’s a naturally correct scientific answer to this question beyond “it can’t be before the sperm fertilizes the egg.”

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        I would say that that’s fine, and their beliefs should be respected. But that doesn’t mean that they then have the right to impose their views on others. I would surmise that your non-religious anti-abortion friends wouldn’t defend, say, the bombing of abortion clinics…would they?

        • BJ
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

          No, they would not defend that. But, if the majority of the country or it’s elected officials (decided by that majority) decided against abortion rights, then your argument would have to go the other way: we can’t impose our will on them.

          • Bruce Gorton
            Posted May 31, 2017 at 2:35 am | Permalink

            Really? And if the majority of the country, and its elected officials, figured that forcing children to pray to the Christian God in schools was a good thing to do would you say we couldn’t “impose” secularism by fighting against that?

            In countries where atheism is illegal, and you can be sentenced to death for being an atheist, the majority of the people there support such laws. Would it be imposing our values on them to say that we as atheists have the right to live?

            There is a fundamental difference between you getting to choose what to do with your body, and you getting to decide what other people do with theirs. Even if you are a majority, you do not get the right to the latter.

            As to the whole whether a foetus is a person or not, it is largely moot. Nobody has the right to be in a woman without her consent. She gets to decide what she does with her body, nobody else gets to decide for her.

            • BJ
              Posted May 31, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

              Well, we already have rulings against that. That’s how precedent works, and why our Constitution works so well with our courts.

            • chris
              Posted June 1, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

              As to the whole whether a foetus is a person or not, it is largely moot. Nobody has the right to be in a woman without her consent. She gets to decide what she does with her body, nobody else gets to decide for her.

              The problem that I see with that argument is that the issue isn’t what a woman does with her body so much as what she has the right to demand that someone else (i.e. a doctor) do to her body. I’ve noticed that many of the anti-abortion laws passed in the US over the past few years explicitly state that it isn’t against those laws for a woman to get an abortion; it’s against those laws for a doctor to perform it.

    • Posted May 31, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      When were you born? The debate got going with the Roe v. Wade decision (1973).

      Before that, abortions were pretty just illegal (in the USA).

      • Posted May 31, 2017 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        Well aware. Eisenhower was president when I was born. But like other intractable problems such as the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, debate seems pretty futile. It’s not going to get solved.

        • Posted May 31, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

          Fully agree (not getting solved). It’s been moving in the wrong direction for awhile now … (state restriction laws).

          I missed Ike by a couple of months! 🙂

          And, yes, it seems like it’s been going for my whole life too.

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 1, 2017 at 2:59 am | Permalink

        Depending on where you lived. I had a pre-Woe v. Wade abortion; thank goodness I was living in New York at the time.

  7. Richard Bond
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I wholeheartedly endorse Mill’s On Liberty as a highly recommended book. My copy is combined in one volume with his The Subjection of Woman, also deserving of a read. Mill was way ahead of his time.

  8. Posted May 30, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I did two courses (one in CEGEP and one as an undergraduate) where discussing abortion permissibility was on the curriculum. I wonder what that’s like now.

  9. Posted May 30, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Abortion should be legal and acceptable in society. The restrictions should start at the point when the embryo turns into a foetus

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 31, 2017 at 2:07 am | Permalink

      Which is by some definitions the 8th week of pregnancy. Considering that the beginning of a pregnancy is usually defined as the first date of the last menstrual period, this is extremely early; many women do not even realize they’re pregnant by the 8 week mark.

  10. Tom Waddell
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    This is my take on abortion and the claim that abortion “kills babies”.

    Some people believe, without any medical or scientific evidence, that a fertilized egg, a zygote, IS a person. Mike Pence and the Christian evangelical crowd believe this to be true. At one time Pence sponsored a bill to require all biological material removed from a woman during an abortion, including those performed as a D&E, be named and buried or cremated in the same way that a person who was born is because that biological material contains a dead person. I agree. Here in America we treat dead people with respect and don’t just flush dead people down the toilet.

    It logically follows that if a zygote IS a person; every time a fertile and sexually active woman has her monthly cycle that biological material expelled might contain a “person” and therefore should be named and buried as a dead person, according to Pence’s logic. Fertilized eggs, a zygote, are created by the thousands every day. To develop that zygote needs to attach itself to the uterine wall and thousands of zygotes fail to do that every day. As a result thousands of zygotes (“people”) are expelled every day in a woman’s monthly cycle.

    This is where Pence’s bat-shit-crazy “logic” leads us to and he is on track to do just that. Don’t take my word for it. Look up what Pence says about “life” and how he thinks we should protect it. Furthermore, almost all researchers who study human development agree that human life begins when electrical signals from the fetuses’ cerebral cortex that shows conscious awareness are detected. That doesn’t happen until after 24 weeks, well past the limit for most abortions. So no, first trimester abortions, the most common period when abortions are done, NEVER “kill babies”. Claiming that abortions “kill babies” is just pro-birth rhetoric designed to elicit an emotional and visceral reaction from the uninformed that results in them supporting the pro-birth movement. They use these tactics because there are no medical or scientific data that supports their position.

  11. BJ
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    GOOOD. I may agree with abortion rights (up to the point of outside-the-womb viability), but it’s time to start taking these jerks to court.

  12. Randy schenck
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    What I am tired of more than anything is listening to males on either side of the argument tell me in detail how it should be. I’m sick of it. I say, only listen to females on this issue and we will still hear plenty.

    • BJ
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Well, then you’ll find abortion outlawed. More women are against it than men.

      • Andy
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        According to Pew (via Wikipedia):
        Men: Legal 51%; Illegal: 43%
        Women: Legal 55%; Illegal: 40%
        Seems to directly contradict, “More women are against it than men”.

        • BJ
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

          Well, look at Pew itself, not Wikipedia.

          The numbers are identical as to whether it should be legal. But when it comes to morality, they’re *almost* identical, but not quite, with women thinking it’s worse than men:

          That link uses link to Gallup (in case you don’t believe the numbers in the article) to show you. Like I said, the difference between men and women in their views is almost non-existent — until you get to the absolutists. There are significantly more absolutist no abortion women than men.
          “What about the no exceptions position? The percentage of women who thought abortions should be illegal in all circumstances ranged from 15% to 21%, while the share of men who took the no exceptions pro-life view varied from 13% to 19%. In 2009, 21% of women and 16% of men took the no exceptions position.

          Bottom line: Men and women hold very similar views on abortion and under which circumstances it should be available. Women are slightly more likely to hold an absolutist view — either that abortion should be “legal in all circumstances” or “illegal in all circumstances.””

          • Andy
            Posted May 30, 2017 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

            I don’t think your link(s) actually support your claim. You claimed “Well, then you’ll find abortion outlawed. More women are against it than men.”
            The article you linked says, “But polls have consistently shown little difference between the abortion views of men and women.”
            Beyond that, you can quibble about noise between different surveys but for, example, it also says, “A 2003 ABC/Washington Post poll found 58% of women and 54% of men felt abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances.”

            • Diane G.
              Posted May 31, 2017 at 2:11 am | Permalink

              + 1

            • BJ
              Posted May 31, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

              I might have gone overboard with the outlaws part, but significantly more women support outlawing it than men. That was really my point. I should not have used hyperbole. Otherwise, the article, as I cited in the quotations, does support my ultimate point.

    • BJ
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Although the numbers are very close. I don’t want to mislead you by making you think they’re not. And regardless, while more women think it’s wrong, men and women about equally (and in the majority) think it should be allowed in some form.

      Again, just didn’t want to be misleading to you.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        And don’t let me mislead you either. I wasn’t asking for a vote. Whether or not to have a procedure to terminate a pregnancy should be with the person who is pregnant and her doctor. Not men, not politicians and not you. As I said — heard all the debates and all the stuff. Don’t need anymore. They can certainly go to the schools or wherever and talk until they are blue, I don’t care. I won’t be going.

        • Peter
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          If abortion is murder than you can’t leave it up to the woman. I’m not saying that it is murder, just that one needs to answer this claim with arguments instead of just stating one’s opinion.

          • Randy schenck
            Posted May 30, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

            This is an approach that is beyond my understanding. “If abortion is murder”? Why do we have Roe V Wade. Why do all the lawyers get together and attempt to establish this stuff state by state. I am not a lawyer but what little I know tells me you cannot murder someone until they are born. If you know something different please bring forth the evidence. But making the comment “if it is Murder”…..please.

            • BJ
              Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

              Because different people have different beliefs as to when life begins. A court saying something doesn’t make it true or false, it just gives it the force of law.

              By the way, while Roe v. Wade was the decision that ultimately gave women abortion rights in this country, it is one of the most poorly written and thought out decisions in history. Read up on why some time. It’s very interesting, legally. I’m not making any argument in this paragraph, just bringing up some very intriguing reading for anyone who is interested. They came to the right decision/the decision they wanted for the people through awful reasoning.

            • Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

              “I am not a lawyer but what little I know tells me you cannot murder someone until they are born.” Yeah, I can tell you aren’t a criminal justice guy either. If you kill a pregnant woman, you can get charged with double homicide.

              Check out the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act”. This is a federal statute and about 38 states have punishments codified as well.

              • BJ
                Posted May 31, 2017 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

                I will, thanks~!

        • BJ
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

          Since this is a democracy, and since about 50% of its citizens believe abortion is the literal murder of children, all people should be able to engage in the debate. It’s how democracy works.

          • Randy schenck
            Posted May 30, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

            How many other definitions of murder do you know, where they took a vote to figure it out? Please….I would like to hear them.

            • BJ
              Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

              It. Doesn’t. Matter. It doesn’t change that people don’t agree with you about when someone becomes a person. Take votes all you want. The fundamental question is when is someone a living human being and when are they not, and it’s not a question easily decided.

              • Randy schenck
                Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

                The threat here was about free speech and we turned it into some kind of debate on abortion. I said and will maintain that a woman and her doctor are the only people involved in this decision. You can turn it into some moral or religious discussion all you want but that is just smoke. If you have a heart problem and are trying to determine what type of operation to have do you want the public or the lawyers to decide any of this for your. No. You and your doctors will decide it, right? A woman should have the same power in her decision and she does not need your help. After all, in this abortion mess we are really only talking about govt. funded verses paying your own way. So then it is a debate between rich and poor. You and the moralist will screw the poor woman and the rich one can do as she likes.

              • BJ
                Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

                You’re turning it into something else. I’m saying everyone has a right to debate this because it’s much more complex than every other example you gave. Why? Because as I said in a comment before: “There’s still a debate about the question of where, exactly, life begins. To me, it begins at the point of viability outside the womb. Others think it isn’t life until it’s born. Others think it’s when it has a heartbeat. Others think it’s when it starts to look something like a human. I don’t think there’s a naturally correct scientific answer to this question beyond ‘it can’t be before the sperm fertilizes the egg.'”

              • Randall Schenck
                Posted May 30, 2017 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

                You just don’t listen. I already said, far as I am concerned you don’t get a vote and you don’t get to make the decision for someone else. You can debate with yourself on when something is or is not a human being medically or religiously. I do not care. It is not your call. Free speech sir. Keep talking to others or to the students but as I said – it is not your call.

              • BJ
                Posted May 31, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

                You say I don’t listen, but you’re the one who doesn’t want people to be able to have a debate about whether there should be a debate. I’m done with this conversation. Goodbye.

          • Gordon
            Posted May 30, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

            Well it’s how majoritarianism works. Not necessarily the same thing and often along way from it.

            • BJ
              Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

              Well, no, that would be if the majority always got their way. All I said was that everyone gets to have their say, whether some people want them to or not.

              • Gordon
                Posted May 30, 2017 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

                Apologies, indeed you did – I probably extrapolated a bit from what you said without reading more carefully. However the point that if the majority wants X it should not necessarily be entitled to it in a democracy still holds.

              • BJ
                Posted May 31, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

                No problem, we all do it from time to time 🙂

        • eric
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

          Did you, a man, just do what you said you were sick and tired of men doing? 🙂

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 31, 2017 at 2:21 am | Permalink

          I agree with you, Randall. I just take exception to the so-common-we-say-it-by-rote-now, “up to the woman and her doctor.”

          The idea that “her doctor”‘s opinion is necessary always strikes me as just more paternalistic meddling in what should just be up to the woman herself. Certainly, in the case of medically compromised fetuses a doctor’s advice might help with the decision-making but otherwise the decision should rest firmly with the woman; in some cases, with input from lovers or family members when they can be helpful if desired, but otherwise the woman should be her own agent.

          I’d bet the vast majority of early abortions eliminate the family physician; they are most likely to move from the pregnancy test to Planned Parenthood, where indeed, a doctor eventually performs the procedure but the pre-abortion counselors are never MD’s.

    • Kevin
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      I am baffled by women though. 100% of them should be for abortion, but they are not. Even worse, I have never heard a good argument for pro-life. All the more reason to let any pro-life person try to make their case.

      At present, there is nothing to be afraid of listening to a religious fanatic describe the sanctity of an immaterial soul residing in handful of gooey ill-developed tissues.

      • Posted May 30, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        “I have never heard a good argument for pro-life.”

        There are good arguments for banning abortions in late stage pregnancy except for health of the mother. Where that stage is, is very difficult to come to agreement on.

        FTR (to head off assumptions), I am very much pro-choice.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 31, 2017 at 2:29 am | Permalink

          “There are good arguments for banning abortions in late stage pregnancy except for health of the mother. Where that stage is, is very difficult to come to agreement on.”

          Say some. There’s no way to determine scientifically whose views are correct and whose are faulty. As long as late-term abortions can be performed with little trauma to the fetus (and that’s a big qualification; I’ve not heard of any administration of anesthesia to the fetus pre-procedure, which to my mind should be an ethical consideration here), I don’t see how the non-self-aware fetus’s rights supersede those of the adult human’s.

          • BJ
            Posted May 31, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

            A very good argument is when the baby can survive on its own outside the womb. Abortion should not be allowed after that point. I think about six months is long enough for someone to be allowed to come to the decision to have one or not.

      • Chris
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        I think the arguments by women against abortion are possibly more emotional than rational. Many women feel very strongly about having children – that there’s something special about carrying one (or in many cases, not being able to carry one). For women who feel that way killing a fetus just seems wrong.

        • BJ
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          The women I know simply believe that life begins at conception, and therefore snuffing out that “life” is murder of a helpless child. You can’t really argue with it because I don’t think anyone has come up with an ironclad conception (pardon the pun) of when, exactly, life begins.

          I don’t find it baffling, and I think it’s insulting to say that they must be acting on emotion instead of rationality.

          • nicky
            Posted May 30, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

            Life does not begin (well it did, some billions of years ago) but goes on. A sperm or egg are life too, and human life at that in case of humans.
            Conception is but a first step in a process that can sometimes result in a human person. I think the idea of gradually making abortion more strict over the period of foetal growth makes sense.
            I mean, abortion on demand until, say 12 weeks (yes this is of course arbitrary), for socio-economic, psychological, etc. reasons until -arbitrarily again- say 16 weeks, in case of e.g. rape until 20 weeks and after that only for severe malformation of the foetus or danger to the mother’s life.
            I do not say it is perfect or that one could not argue about the ‘stages’, but it takes into account that forming a little human is a gradual process.
            Also note that in traditional Christianity (and Judaism, IIRC) a pregnancy was only considered as carrying a little human being at the’quickening’, the moment a prospective mother could feel the foetus move. This ‘full-human-person-at-conception’ thing is -at least in protestantism- quite a recent development, I think.

            • BJ
              Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

              I agree with a lot of what you said. A progressive (not in the political sense) approach is best. I basically support abortion up until the point of viability outside the womb. Knowing that most others don’t support this, a system more like yours would probably be better. We’d have to hone it quite a bit from what you laid out, though (as you humbly noted).

              • nicky
                Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

                It is not really ‘my’ system, it was the approach of the first democracies legalising abortions (such as the Netherlands and Denmark) and has been adopted by many others, including South Africa. The number of weeks in the proposed arbitrary ‘stages’ actually are the ones in SA’n law. I think it is a good and sensible, but not perfect, law.

              • Posted May 31, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

                Viability is technology (or craft, in nonscientific contexts) dependent, though. Eventually perhaps even all ova will be viable from (perhaps) puberty. So what happens then?

                (This is in my view a *correct* [though cautious] use of a slippery slope argument, which I could spell out more if necessary.)

              • BJ
                Posted May 31, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

                That’s a great point, Keith. I guess I mean viability with minimal interference. Most babies born at 8 months need some kind of technological support.

          • colnago80
            Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

            The people who maintain that life begins at conception are, apparently, unaware of the fact that 1/2 of all fertilized fail to implant and are expelled in the next menstrual cycle while 10% of the fertilized eggs that do implant are spontaneously aborted and are expelled in the next cycle. Thus, this makes god the worlds’ greatest abortionist.

            • Denise
              Posted May 30, 2017 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

              He works in mysterious ways.

            • chris
              Posted May 30, 2017 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

              I think many of the people who maintain that life begins at conception are aware that a large fraction of all fertilized eggs fail to implant but see a huge difference between deliberately killing a zygote/fetus/whatever and having it die spontaneously.

          • Diane G.
            Posted May 31, 2017 at 2:39 am | Permalink

            Seriously, BJ? All the women you know? Have you had this conversation with all of them? While the “one-out-of-three” contention (percent of pregnant women who have abortions) has come under attack (never mind that it was true for the statistics in 2008), and the abortion rate has been declining (a significant amount due to the morning-after pill), the number of pregnancies that end in abortion is still much higher than most people realize.

            • BJ
              Posted May 31, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

              No, I said all the women I know who believe this.

      • Posted May 31, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        In both the courses I took where abortion was debated, there was what amounted to “slut shaming” (and encouraged abstinence as the “answer”) on the part of some women against others. It was appalling – until that happened (the first time) I didn’t expect it either.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 31, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

          There may be a pretty good chance that those sorts of courses attract evangelicals and others who enroll for that very purpose.

          • Posted June 1, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

            In the case of the McGill course, “Contemporary Moral Issues” it is one of several alternatives for what is called “baby ethics” – a philosophy program requirement. Nevertheless, yes, it might attract “trolls”. Especially now that there is an “Ethics and Western Religions” program as well.

            However, the CEGEP course was a required one for various disciplines (all programs required some ethics course or other) so in that case, the fundies and Catholics (I remember that one of the biggest “slutshamer” was a self-identified Catholic) were not self selected.

    • Posted May 30, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      I’ve only one question.

      What opinions am I allowed to have?

      • BJ
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        Exactly. This is like identity politics. You’re only allowed to have an opinion if you’re a specific sex? What about transgender women? What about women who can’t conceive? Do they get to have opinions or join the debate?

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 31, 2017 at 2:40 am | Permalink

          Really? You two seem to be the first ones to bring this up on this thread. Who’s preventing you from expressing your opinions?

          • mikeyc
            Posted May 31, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

            It’s right here, Diane; “What I am tired of more than anything is listening to males on either side of the argument tell me in detail how it should be. I’m sick of it. I say, only listen to females on this issue and we will still hear plenty”.

    • Posted May 31, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      I can sort of agree with you, except men are directly involved as well.

      Among other things, they are fathers of these fetuses (and subsequent children) and, if the child is born, legally/financially responsible for them.

      This makes the issue pertinent to men as well.

      Of course I am not saying the man’s opinion should decide over the woman’s opinion. But they are involved.

      (I fully support as liberal of abortion rights as are legally possible in the USA.)

      • BJ
        Posted May 31, 2017 at 10:27 pm | Permalink


  13. Posted May 30, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m also on Peter Singers side on this topic.
    Here’s another paper in defense of abortion similar to Judith Jarvis Thompson’s:

  14. Alric
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    You can’t just nilly will allow any nut job to speak at any setting. There must be some ground rules of proficiency, or academic achievement.

    It takes 5 mins to conclude Mike Adams is nut job that has no place in an academic setting.

    Isn’t there someone with academic accomplishments with a pro-life perspective that they can invite? Maybe they can’t because the position is intellectually indefensible.

    • Alric
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Apparently it’s a different Mike Adams. Not a quack nut job, but a religious nut job.

    • BJ
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      We already know your views about free speech and how we can somehow “objectively” figure out what speech should and should not be allowed. Though you’ve still never answered the question of who you would appoint/trust (besides yourself) to decide such things, or how we can be sure it’s “objective.”

      • Alric
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

        I’ve said many times we can do it exactly like we deciden any other kind of rule and law. Or do you disagree with laws in general?

        • BJ
          Posted May 31, 2017 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

          No, we cannot, Every0jne has biases, and we power changes hands. How would you feel if Trump and his adninistration were making te these decisions. Not to good, I bet. Plus, , you csn’t have objective decisions. It’s not possible. Furthermore, Furthermore, you need 2/3 of states to agree to a change in he Conatitution. Never gonna happen, thank the universe! Regreessives would destroy our civil rights, as you have clearly shown. You always think you know what’s best for the people and the country.

    • eric
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      You can’t just nilly will allow any nut job to speak at any setting.

      Subject to reasonable time place and manner restrictions, why not? If a student group wants to waste their dues inviting Bozo the clown to speak, let them invite Bozo.

      Its not like it’s the Uni endorsing the speaker. Its not even like a professor bringing him in to speak in class. Student groups hold all sorts of silly and immature events, and if they want to bring in an unserious speaker, why not let them?

    • Jim Smith
      Posted May 31, 2017 at 12:22 am | Permalink

      It’s a hall, or room. You rent it. You advertise that a speech will be given there by whoever. People come or don’t. What the hell do you care mr./ms busybody? When busybodies decided a certain type of person should not vote they created jim crow laws. You are doing nothing otherwise. It’s called democracy. Get over it.

  15. nicky
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    I propose we make 1859, the year of the Origin and Liberty, the year 0. So now we live in the year 158!
    I know the French Revolutionaries started something of the kind, something I always found fascinating, (they also invented new months and a decimal week) but it didn’t stick. I think it was Napoleon who -litterally- turned the clock back.

    • Posted May 31, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      The French revolutionaries had a hard time – as an exercise in a grade 8 science class I tried my own hand at creating a base 10 clock and calendar. It is *remarkably* difficult to do without gutting matters completely.

  16. nicky
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Another detail (I might have mentioned it before) is that the abortion-is-murder crowd are first in line to demand abortion if they get inconveniently pregnant themselves or inconveniently impregnated their maid-servant. I’ve done abortions a lifetime ago, so I know what I’m talking about. And they are the least thankful and the most aggressive about medical secret too.
    I’ve seen the hypocrisy and am not really impressed.
    That being said, I think Jerry is right that the pro-life hypocrites should not be muzzled, but fought with arguments.

    • BJ
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      I think you’re painting a broad group of tens of millions with the brush of a few dozen.

      • nicky
        Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I do.
        But I’m talking from experience.
        It is even the other way round: if there was a very demanding and rude patient or ‘partner’ you could bet a few bucks on her/him being anti-abortion.
        Also, I am not alone, although I doubt there are any statistics about this, all (well I guess I should say virtually all) abortionists will tell you the same.

        • BJ
          Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

          I don’t understand your point. Yes, people can be hypocrites. Anthony Weiner acted like an upstanding progressive who loved his wife, but was sexting with other women (at least one of them underage). Many other politicians and people on both sides of the isle have done this. Just because a few have doesn’t mean tens of millions are hypocrites in their beliefs.

          • nicky
            Posted June 1, 2017 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

            Well, I should have said ‘the vociferous abortion-is-murder crowd’, the activist moral crusaders.

            This phenomenon, the hypocrisy, the ‘my situation is different’ I described is well known among those carrying out abortions,

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