Andrew Sullivan comes out as pro-choice, including third-trimester abortions

In his column in this week’s New York Magazine, Andrew Sullivan continues his shift to the Left. First, he takes up the problem of climate change and suggests that we need immediate intervention, suggesting we scale up the production of energy in nuclear power plants—something that, I believe, the Green New Deal abhors.

In the second part of his trifecta, he adds some ammunition to his indictment of the Vatican for its hypocrisy, damning homosexual activity while its high officials and cardinals engaged in homosexual activities with prostitutes and covered it up. (See my post from last week.)

It was Sullivan’s third bit, on abortion, that interested me the most. When he was younger, he opposed abortion, but he’s come around—and even farther than the Supreme Court or many liberals, and certainly farther than his Catholic Church. He thinks that there should be no restriction on abortions, all the while (like Hitchens) being personally opposed to them. This is an admirable stand: putting your own views second to those of the polity and, even more admirable, changing your mind in public—all out of empathy for others. There’s an interesting anecdote at the start of the segment (read it for yourselves), and then this ending.

And so I’m a little reticent on the subject; but if I were forced to offer the view I’ve come to take, it would be this awkward mess. I believe both that abortion is the taking of a human life, and that in a free society, rooted in property rights, an individual has complete autonomy over her body — autonomy which the state cannot violate. And so I used to believe that late-term abortion was particularly awful, as close to infanticide as one can get. One day, on my blog, I said as much, and then a flood of emails came in.

As this topic has come up again, I just want to add that, after reading and listening to the women who had had such abortions, whose testimonies are grueling and mind-expanding, I came to the conclusion that late-term abortions are actually the least objectionable. No woman waits till late in her third trimester to arbitrarily end her child’s life. Almost all of them were cases in which the child was desperately wanted, and in which some awful abnormality had emerged late in the pregnancy that essentially guaranteed that the child would be stillborn, or born and live only a short amount of time. For all the women involved, this was unimaginably painful. I urge you to take a second and read some of the accounts we posted at the Dish. They tore at my heart and soul and revealed just how abstract truths can become tangible agonies, once you see what is really at stake.

There is nothing to celebrate about such horrible choices, which is why I found lighting up One World Trade Center in pink to commemorate their full legalization under the Reproductive Health Act in New York State deeply inappropriate. But no one — no one — should have any say in that moment but the mother and her physician. Every case is unique. Every case is heartrending. And although I find much of the rhetoric on the far left on this subject too insouciant and glib about the profound moral dimensions of abortion, the slick and easy accusations from the right about “child killing” are simply inexcusable. I used to think that way. The women who actually went through such experiences changed my mind. They’ll change yours too.

See you next Friday.

I will, Andrew. And good on you, mate. Is it churlish of me to mention that you’ve parted ways with Catholicism in almost every possible direction, and yet you’re still a Catholic. If you must remain religious, what about becoming a Reform Jew, about as close to atheism as you can get?

h/t: Simon

173 Comments

  1. TJR
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Abortion is one of those things like drugs and sex work where most of the evidence suggests that making it illegal makes the problems worse.

    Hence, even if you are personally opposed to any or all of these things, it still makes sense to support their legalisation.

    • Posted March 1, 2019 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      So, the best solution to the opioid addiction epidemic would be for Walmart to run Blue Light specials on oxy?

      • Michael
        Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        No, but to legalize it like in switzerland, where you can go to special clinics and they give you heroin (along with a job and education program to help these people).

        • Posted March 2, 2019 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

          Heroin and a job don’t play well together.

      • Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        Good non sequitur, Matt.

        • Posted March 2, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

          Legalizing hard drugs would also mean legalizing their commercial sale. It follows directly from the proposal.

          • GBJames
            Posted March 2, 2019 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

            If heroin, for instance, is available free at clinics, why would there be a market for commercial sale?

            • Posted March 2, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

              Since my initial comment, the proposal has been amended to apply (exclusively?) to clinics with participation in treatment as a quid pro quo. I’m amenable to exploring that, but still firmly reject any libertarian/anarchist calls for fully free access to hard drugs.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        Strawman…

        cr

        • Posted March 2, 2019 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

          Where is the strawman? If I understand the proposal correctly, it includes free access to purchase hard drugs.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted March 3, 2019 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

            I think BJ answered that in the comment just below. In much more detail than I could.

            cr

      • BJ
        Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

        No, it would be a controlled but legalized program like they tried and had radical success with in Switzerland: heroin addicts can go to a clinic every day where they can get pure heroin from the state in any dosage they need (so long as it won’t kill them), shoot up there with a clean needle, etc. But the place also offers them support for getting jobs and therapy and other ways to reintegrate into society, but they don’t push it. Still, most of the users eventually come around.

        Most people don’t want to be addicted to opiates. Give them a place where they can get it and use it safely, and get support if they want it, and it turns out that it reduces the problem drastically. This is the exact opposite of what we’re doing in this country and most others, which is pushing addicts further and further from society and increasing their desire to block out how horrible their lives are.

        • Mark R.
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

          Portugal also succeeded on this front.

        • Posted March 2, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

          Or, we could do something about how horrible their lives are. Enabling addiction is not a viable answer.

          • BJ
            Posted March 2, 2019 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

            Every study and all the statistics from these programs say otherwise. Probably because they’re not “enabling” the addiction. It’s not as if these people won’t get their heroin elsewhere if we suddenly shuttered these programs. How do you think they were getting them before the programs started?

            • Posted March 3, 2019 at 9:40 am | Permalink

              I will read with interest any material on the efficacy of such programs. I’ll leave this tangent by noting that providing a controlled substance as part of a treatment program does not necessitate decontrolling the substance.

              • BJ
                Posted March 3, 2019 at 10:53 am | Permalink

                It does necessitate decontrolling it if you’re to run the clinics in the way the Swiss have successfully done it. Controlled substances can only be obtained via prescription. This is not the case in the programs I’m discussing.

                When the US moves to decontrol marijuana at the federal level, that still won’t mean random people can sell it on the street. Licensing for dispensaries, means of manufacture, and distribution will all be under the umbrella of government, as they are in states that have already legalized (and there may be other standards required to manufacture/sell it legally). Decontrolling a substance does not necessarily mean allowing it to be legal in any and all contexts. Even Theraflu or Aspirin has significant restrictions, but they are not controlled substances.

                Regarding the Swiss model, here are two articles on the model and its success in reducing use/providing successful treatment, and reducing crime.

                https://www.thenation.com/article/switzerland-addiction-prescribed-heroin/

                https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-02-12/us-can-learn-lot-zurich-about-how-fight-its-heroin-crisis

                (note: when they say “prescribed,” it doesn’t really mean the same thing as it does here in the US. The patients at these clinics can simply walk in and get the “prescription.” They don’t need to go to a doctor first)

                Since I can’t post more than two links without incurring the wrath of the auto-moderator, I encourage you to also seek out Joe Rogan’s recent conversation with Johann Harri. It’s called “The Solution to the Opioid Crisis | Joe Rogan & Johann Hari” and can be found on Youtube. This is probably the best conversation you can find on the reasons for opiate addiction and the solution used by the Swiss.

        • Asa
          Posted March 4, 2019 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

          Germany tried this same model with a huge study 15 years ago. I was employed in it for 2 years interviewing people both in the treatment and control groups. I think they did a good job in showing the complexity of this strategy in the reports. And yes, there were people who used heroin every day and still had jobs. But most people in the study didn’t manage to stick to jobs because they were abusing heroin for 10-15 years at least (to qualify to the study), so the main hurdle was that their whole social life took place mainly with other addicts.

      • rickflick
        Posted March 2, 2019 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        I think it was K-Mart that had blue light specials.

  2. Frank
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    There’s an old saying among Catholics, namely that if men could become pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. Andrew is right, it’s such a subjective decision.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      The version I know is “if men had periods, menstruation would be a sacrament”. But the point stands, either way.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      If men could become pregnant, abortions would be performed at the Downtown Athletic Club, in a booth between the shoeshine and towel concessions.

      • Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        Wasn’t that a scene in Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life” that didn’t make the final cut?

  3. kurtzs
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Re suggesting Andrew consider Reform Judaism: If anyone can evidence *anything* non-physical (to worship, fear, etc), they’d likely soon win a Nobel Prize. Why bother revering imaginary things when nature is available?

  4. Greg
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m an atheist. I don’t believe we are made in the image of God. But I simply cannot support abortion. It’s the one thing I am fundamentally opposed to the Democratic party on.

    Someone please explain to me: if we as a society express moral outrage at Nazis euthanizing the handicapped or the mentally retarded, or at a mother who kills her two week old baby because she’s decided having a child is too much of a hassle, or she’s noticed it’s got some kind of defect, how can we logically justify abortion, especially late term?

    I’m not a hardliner — I believe there may be times when the drastic action of ending a child’s life in the womb is the only viable option, and I don’t believe a woman who has experienced rape or incest should be forced to carry such a child to term, but I’ve simply never understood the liberal cart blanche pro-choice position. In my view it completely undermines whatever moral high ground liberals think they have.

    • Posted March 1, 2019 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      You equate a zygote, an embryo, a fetus with a baby and even grown adults. Explain your rational for doing so.

      • Greg
        Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        You (apparently) equate a zygote, an embryo, a fetus with an inanimate piece of matter that is not destined to become a baby and eventually a grown adult. Explain your rationale for doing so.

        • Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          You made the assertion; the onus is upon you to support it. So please provide some scientific basis for your equation of ‘potential’ pieces of animate matter with full persons, and for extending the legal protections afforded the latter to the former.

          • Greg
            Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

            What horrifies me about your position, and those who take this path, is that it is the exact same reasoning the Nazis used to justify killing invalids, the mentally retarded, and the handicapped, not to mention others such as gay people and Jews and Poles, etc. They’re not really “fully human”. They’re “deficient” in some way. “We’re going to decide that you don’t deserve to live.” I know you probably don’t see it like that, but that’s exactly how I see it.

            What scientific basis do I have for equating potential pieces of animate matter with full persons? How about the universal observation and experience that when people have sex, they often conceive, and that process eventually leads to a human life. If a man and woman have come together consensually and conceived a child, the least they can do is allow it the dignity of coming into the world.

            • Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

              Really? Based on your logic, we should avoid any decision that involves a continuum for fear that we’ll quickly slide to its extreme. It’s always been a false argument.

            • BJ
              Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

              “What horrifies me about your position, and those who take this path, is that it is the exact same reasoning the Nazis used to justify killing invalids, the mentally retarded, and the handicapped, not to mention others such as gay people and Jews and Poles, etc. They’re not really “fully human”. ”

              Except they were applying that to people who were, in fact, fully human. Unless you can provide evidence that a clump of cells that doesn’t even have the form of a single human organ is a “human,” or even a life form in any way (considering it cannot actually exist as such), your argument is complete BS. You can’t just say, “but Nazis!” and expect people to accept your argument.

              By the way, I don’t support abortion once the fetus is viable exactly because I think that’s when one can consider it human: when it can survive on its own, as a human being.

              • Greg
                Posted March 1, 2019 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

                Ah, but who are you to decide what is “fully human”? That’s my point, really. In materialistic evolutionary theory, even full-grown adults are really nothing more than a clump of cells, albeit more organized, and of course fully conscious. If we don’t defend life from its very origins, knowing that it will, if Nature is allowed to take its course, result in an adult human, how can we defend life rationally at any stage of its development?

                I’m not just throwing around the Nazis because it’s convenient, but because they are a very real world example of human beings deciding that a particular group or class of people was not deserving of life, for some of the very reasons I see people here arguing for abortion. It’s either about some perceived “deficiency” or one class of people’s perceived rights outweighing the other’s. These arguments just don’t work for me.

              • BJ
                Posted March 1, 2019 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

                “…I’m not just throwing around the Nazis because it’s convenient, but because they are a very real world example of human beings deciding that a particular group or class of people was not deserving of life, for some of the very reasons I see people here arguing for abortion.”

                And once again, you prove my point. They were deciding that actual human beings, actual organisms living and breathing and whatnot, weren’t deserving of life. You say your point is “Ah, but who are you to decide what is “fully human?” This makes no sense. If this is your point, it can be extended to literally anything. After all, the chair I’m sitting on is a clump of cells. Is it conscious? No. Is it alive? No. Is a zygote? No. You might make an argument that a fetus with a brain is an organism that is simply not yet at the point of being able to live on its own, and I would accept that as a valid point of argument. But that’s NOT the argument you’re making. Your argument is a general “but anything that can one day become human is human because we can’t decide it’s not, because the Nazis did that somehow, even though they most definitely didn’t.”

                You’re making a poor effort of trying to make this into some kind of philosophical debate, but your philosophical point makes no sense. If we can’t decide what is alive and what isn’t, then we have no right to use any molecule, in any way, ever. There is a cut-off regarding what is and isn’t alive. There is a cut-off regarding what is and isn’t an organism. There is a cut-off regarding what does and does not have consciousness. And, if there are to be any rights at all, there must be a cut-off for how those rights are conferred with regard to whether or not there is a live, conscious human being, and when. There is no argument on this, and the Nazis didn’t have a discussion about this, and the Nazis didn’t give a damn about any of the questions you’re posing. The Nazis decided certain people didn’t deserve to live not because they weren’t human, but because they didn’t like those humans. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything you’re bringing up regarding genocide, bigotry, etc.

              • BJ
                Posted March 1, 2019 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

                Also, do not conflate my arguments with those of others here saying people should have the right to euthanize babies who are deformed. I have stated elsewhere that I believe abortion should be illegal at the point of viability. I have made no mention of anything you brought up in your last post regarding such things. All I have talked about is abortions before viability. And those are questions of science, not philosophy. I do not agree with people who think parents should have the right to euthanize a child who is born severely deformed because they don’t want to be burdened with it, or think the child will be miserable, etc. That is a philosophical debate.

              • Posted March 2, 2019 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

                BJ:

                I don’t support abortion once the fetus is viable exactly because I think that’s when one can consider it human: when it can survive on its own, as a human being.

                Greg:

                Ah, but who are you to decide what is “fully human”? That’s my point, really.

                Who are you?

                Solipsism. We obviously need to apply some criterion or other. BJ has offered a sound one, based on embryology, worth considering. Once again: what is yours?

              • rickflick
                Posted March 2, 2019 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

                Don’t forget boys and girls, every sperm is sacred.

            • Nicolaas Stempels
              Posted March 2, 2019 at 9:33 am | Permalink

              Ever heard about Godwin’s law? Reductio ad Hitlerum, or Naziorum which is basically the same.
              I also note that Nazi’s were staunch pro-lifers as far as ‘Arische Edelgermane’ were concerned.

            • Posted March 2, 2019 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

              …it is the exact same reasoning the Nazis used to justify killing invalids, the mentally retarded, and the handicapped, not to mention others ….

              No, it was based on demonstrably pseudo-scientific beliefs about race & genetics, plus an aggressive, callous eugenic agenda. Anyone with one heart and half a brain can debunk the nazis’ reasoning.

              We are still waiting for your science-based reasoning for classifying zygotes, et al. as persons identical to grown adults.

        • Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

          It’s not destined to become a human adult. It has the potential to become a human adult. It certainly isn’t conscious and can’t suffer as a zygote or early fetus. Does it have any sentience in utero? I think not.

          I don’t think this is an easy issue.

          I mean no insult: But I think your description of the defense of the woman’s control of her reproduction and her body as carte blanche isn’t quite fair. I’ve known many women who have had abortions and none of them were cavalier about it. It was a very difficult and painful decision. The Left defends the right because, if they didn’t, the GOP would whisk it away in a heartbeat. The right would prefer to have women dying regardless of the viability of the fetus*. And they are continuing, every day, to try to limit a woman’s access (for instance with the ridiculous admitting requirement laws).

          There is a clear threshold between born and unborn. (I recommend looking up what happens to the large blood vessels around the heart during/just after birth.) Until a child is born, it only a potential child. I felt this very forcefully as my son developed inside my wife and then was born. This transition was visceral for me.

          (* As the cliche goes: The Right cares about people before they are born and after they die. But in between: No so much.)

          • Greg
            Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

            We can play semantics — okay so it “has the potential” to become a human life. But it’s certainly not going to become a rock, a blade of grass, or a fish. Right? IF all goes as planned, it WILL become a human adult — eventually. If a man and a woman enter into a sexual union consensually and conceive such potential, why should they, or anyone else for that matter, have a right to terminate that potential life unless there’s a damn good reason — such as the mother’s life being in danger if she takes it to term?

            I don’t find these arguments distinguishing potential from actual, and conscious from unconscious, as particularly helpful. One might argue that someone who is severely mentally disabled cannot really feel pain, or “know” what’s happening to them if we just decided to kill them to take them out of their misery. I don’t think that justifies the action at all.

            We simply can’t know what lives we are bringing or are not bringing into the world when we choose to have a child or to abort a child. It could be the next Ted Bundy or Joseph Stalin, sure, but it could also be the person that cures cancer or that writes the greatest symphony of all time. We just don’t know. And maybe in hindsight it would have been good for Hitler’s mother to have gotten an abortion. But it’s not something we can know beforehand. So I say err on the side of life.

            • GBJames
              Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

              “IF all goes as planned…”

              Huh? Who’s making this plan? You?

              • Greg
                Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

                Nature. Have you heard of it?

              • GBJames
                Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

                Nature doesn’t make plans.

              • Posted March 2, 2019 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

                2/3 of pregnancies spontaneously abort. Also part of The Plan™, I guess.

                Also: Teleology. FAIL.

            • Kelly
              Posted March 2, 2019 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

              Potential is not actual.

              If potential was actual, then society could treat people as the walking dead, bury them and raid their estates because ‘the potential to be dead’ would be equal to ACTUALLY being dead. And according to nature’s ‘plan’ which you so eloquently referred to, all humans have the potential to die of old age.

              If potential was actual, then I should be able to get a job modeling for Vogue magazine as a 90lb supermodel even though I weigh 180lbs.

              Faulty logic.

              Also, personhood is centred in the brain, not the body. You know what happens to beating heart cadavers? (those bodies are routinely disconnected from any life support and no one is charged with murder) Those are the bodies that are living but the person is gone because the brain is dead. An embryo is for all intents and purposes the equivalent of a beating heart braindead corpse, and it may or may not ever achieve the capacity for sentience.

        • Adam M.
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          An embryo destined to become a baby and eventually an adult is still not yet either of those things. An embryo demands the moral consideration due an embryo; if it becomes an adult, then it gets the moral consideration due an adult, but not before.

          So the question is, does an embryo deserve the same moral consideration we give an adult? I say “no”. Killing an adult that’s conscious, self-aware, and has dreams, hopes, and friends & family that love and depend on him, etc. has a significant negative impact in terms of suffering and well-being on the individual and those around him. An embryo is not conscious or self-aware, has no thoughts let alone dreams or hopes, has nobody depending on it, and is unlikely to have anybody who loves or cares about it besides its parents – the ones who’d be making the decision and thus bear responsibility for whatever personal suffering they endure.

          And there are positives to abortion. Having an unwanted child can ruin the lives of people not prepared for it, and what child should have to grow up with parents that didn’t want and resent being forced to it?

          Now, there is an inconsistency regarding newborns. Newborn babies are likely not conscious, self-aware, etc. either so why should they be protected when a fetus in the womb is not? I resolve this conflict by saying they should not be protected either. The arguments that justify abortion also justify infanticide up to a certain age.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

          How about the poor little sperm then? Isn’t a condom just as bad?

          Yours is the very essence of a slippery slope argument.

          No, not everything is like everything else. A foetus is not a baby.

          cr

          • Jenny Haniver
            Posted March 2, 2019 at 10:14 am | Permalink

            I was thinking the same thing — one must not do anything whatsoever to prevent those little sperms from pursuing their natural course because of the bogus teleology that all should go as planned.

    • Mark
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      “I don’t believe a woman who has experienced rape or incest should be forced to carry such a child to term, but I’ve simply never understood the liberal cart blanche pro-choice position. In my view it completely undermines whatever moral high ground liberals think they have.”

      Fails to see the irony of the comment.

      • Greg
        Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        And you apparently fail to see the larger point. There are obviously times when abortion will be the lesser of the two evils, but nonetheless justified because of the particular circumstance. Rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s health are examples. But I simply fail to see how some people can equate those situations with a willy-nilly “I think I’ll go have an abortion today because I don’t want to be inconvenienced by having a child.” Maybe you’re not one that thinks that way, but I’ve talked to plenty of people who do.

        • Mark
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          “And you apparently fail to see the larger point.”

          Being that abortion is OK when you want want it, but not when others do.

          “justified (ending a child’s life in the womb) because…Rape, incest”

          How do you know you weren’t conceived in that way? And if you were?

          • Rita Prangle
            Posted March 1, 2019 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

            If I were conceived in that way and then aborted, I wouldn’t know it, would I?

        • JezGrove
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

          Really? “Willy-nilly”? I know several women who have had to make hard choices, but none who made them casually – indeed, they all did so with a great deal of heartache. The fathers of the putative offspring? Who knows, they didn’t care enough to face up to their responsibilities.

        • Nicolaas Stempels
          Posted March 2, 2019 at 9:44 am | Permalink

          The fact that good sexual education and easy availability of contraceptives substantially (and I mean substantially, to a small fraction of situations without) reduces the number of abortions, points to women tending not to have abortions “willy-nilly”. I think that is an unconscionable slur.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 2, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

            Indeed – willy nilly – not only is abortion a touch decision, but it can be dangerous and it can affect fertility in the future. I’ve never met a woman who aborted a fetus with the same attitude as she takes her birth control.

        • Kelly
          Posted March 2, 2019 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

          If you believe that abortion is justified in the case of rape or incest then this shows that you really do not believe that an embryo has any sort of INTRINSIC worth since you are judging its right to life based on the ACTIONS of a third party.

          Inrinsic value and rights are not dependent upon the choices made by third parties. Either an embryo is the equivalent of a living, breathing, thinking human being or it is not. You wouldnt’ advise that society start murdering the 40 year old children born of rape would you? If you truly believe that children created through rape have no right to life, and that an embryo is the moral equivalent of a thinking, feeling 40 year old, then murdering either should not be a crime.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Matt – a cytoplast, zygote, fetus, and baby are very different yet you’re putting them all together as the same.

      • Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        We’ve already gotten a hint of the hackneyed ‘potential life’ argument; the ‘unique genetic combination’ trope is sure to follow.

        I have a date tonight and plan on ‘murdering’ untold thousands of my ‘potential persons’ with their myriad ‘unique genetics’, so I’ll check back in the morning for Greg’s defense of his position.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

          Lucky you

          😎

          cr

        • BJ
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          +1

          Can’t believe I just upvoted a Nazi!

    • GBJames
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      “I’m not a hardliner”

      Yes you are. Did you even read Sullivan’s thoughts on this?

    • Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Greg,

      When I was very young, I was against abortion because I identified with the fetus. Then I changed my opinion to support the right to abortion, though personally I would be horrified to have one, and I organized my life during my reproductive years to minimize the chance of any event that would make me resort to an abortion.

      To explain why I changed my mind, I’d better take not abortion but “natural” birth. Imagine a woman who is about to give birth, but for some reason, Caesarean section is needed to bring out the baby alive and healthy. However, she has been brainwashed against CS and refuses it. Imagine how the medical team feels, as the beautiful healthy baby dies or becomes severely disabled in front of their eyes, preventably, just because of his mother’s idiocy.

      Yet they could not and should not intervene. Not without the mother’s consent. Her bodily autonomy takes precedent.

      (The situation I described is not really imagined – it has happened, multiple times.)

      • Greg
        Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        maya, I completely sympathize with your position. That’s a reasonable position to take.

        And I understand your argument using the example you did.

        Let me try to put things in perspective, in terms of where I’m coming from. My wife is a NICU nurse, and every day she sees terrible, tragic situations where babies are born with all sorts of ailments, maladies, handicaps, etc. You name it, she’s seen it. Yet whose right is it to determine that someone else’s life is not worth living? I’m sure many people would see some of these babies she deals with as unviable — perhaps they should’ve been aborted. And honestly, I do understand the concern for minimizing suffering. But what one person may determine is a life not worth living, is for the person living it worth everything.

        I am not religious, in the least. I don’t believe God injected an eternal soul in there at the moment of conception, but to dismiss what that thing is — a potential human life — as just a blob of meaningless matter is for me just as horrifying as the Nazis dehumanizing the disabled.

        • Adam M.
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think the only choices are ‘human with full rights and protections’ versus “blob of meaningless matter”. I don’t think anyone considers it meaningless matter in the same sense they would a ball of dust under the bed.

          The thing is, though, that those crippled newborns aren’t independent entities. Somebody has to raise them, and depending on the disability it can be a tremendous amount of work. When you read of elderly parents still diapering their 40-year-old adult child who can’t care for himself, being regularly beaten and injured whenever the child throws a tantrum, unable to ever leave the house… you can see how their lives have been destroyed. Who has the right to inflict that on them? Even a healthy child imposes a huge, life-changing burden on people – and I just had one so I know.

          I don’t see opponents of abortion volunteering to raise these children, especially the most damaged and demanding ones. So when the choice comes down to destroying the life of a mindless (but not meaningless!) fetus or straining (at best) and ruining (at worst) the lives of two grown adults, why shouldn’t it be resolved in favor of the adults, who can actually think and feel and care about their situation? A moment of pain (or likely none) for a fetus versus decades of potential suffering for the adults? It hardly seems a difficult choice to make.

          (As for rights… there’s really no such thing, strictly speaking. Rights are just privileges more strongly enshrined legally and culturally than other privileges, and they’re subject to reinterpretation and revision by society, as much as we may hate it in some cases. A religious person can claim certain rights derive from God, but what grounding does a non-religious person have for rights?)

          • Greg
            Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

            Well you make a great point in your last paragraph. Maybe Dostoevsky was right after all, “Without God, everything is permissible.” As an atheist, I root my views in the intrinsic value of human life based on an extraordinary evolutionary journey and this “miracle” of consciousness we experience. I extend to others the rights I’d like extended to me. One of those is existence itself, whether said entity is fully aware or not. But maybe it is just subjective. Without some objective grounding for things like rights and values and even the concept of life itself, maybe social consensus is the best we can hope for. But if this is what we’re saying, then we have no objective grounds for vilifying a Nazi soldier tearing a Jewish baby from its mother’s arms and putting a bullet in its head. It may have been a “hard choice” even for him, something he didn’t really want to have to do, but knew duty to nation and the betterment of his folk demanded it. They were at war after all.

            • Adam M.
              Posted March 1, 2019 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

              It’s definitely interesting to think about. If there’s no god and humans are just an evolved species then it’s hard to see where a universal morality could come from. (There’s a lot of “evil” in nature.) But the extraordinary evolutionary journey of humans thankfully seems to include some rough agreement on fairness, reciprocity, etc. that can serve as the basis of a shared morality. Unfortunately, we can squabble endlessly over the details.

              But it’s tricky. We want to be able to say that Nazis were wrong and slavery is wrong, not just that we agree to forcefully reject genocide and slavery as a personal and social preference. But for myself I can’t think of what else it comes down to. The most I can hope for is that no topic or question is taboo and we can discuss and argue freely and fairly, in hopes of arriving at a good enough consensus/compromise that works well for most people. Unfortunately, certain topics and beliefs are taboo. Anyway, nice talkin’ to ya.

            • Posted March 2, 2019 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

              If consciousness is your criterion for personhood, then:
              a) many animals are ‘persons’;
              b) embryos are not.

          • BJ
            Posted March 1, 2019 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

            “The thing is, though, that those crippled newborns aren’t independent entities. Somebody has to raise them, and depending on the disability it can be a tremendous amount of work. When you read of elderly parents still diapering their 40-year-old adult child who can’t care for himself, being regularly beaten and injured whenever the child throws a tantrum, unable to ever leave the house… you can see how their lives have been destroyed. Who has the right to inflict that on them? Even a healthy child imposes a huge, life-changing burden on people – and I just had one so I know.”

            I find this to be a very frightening position. This can be just as easily applied to euthanizing the elderly once they become too difficult to care for, or someone who has suffered severe head trauma, etc.

            • Adam M.
              Posted March 1, 2019 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

              It can be applied to killing the elderly, but for them there are other considerations: Does anyone love or depend on them? How much would they and other people suffer? How sentient are they? If an elderly person was truly in the position of a fetus, then I don’t see why he would deserve greater moral consideration than a fetus.

              But the fact is that few elderly people are in such a position and even those that are rarely burden people as much as a parent would be burdened, or burden society as a badly deformed baby would. Care workers are being paid, and can quit. Parents can’t. The lifetime cost to society of caring for an elderly person is less because their remaining life is much shorter. So even in the rare cases where the negatives of killing them would be the same, the positives would still be less.

              So while there is some applicability of the argument to adults, in my opinion, I don’t think it directly leads to a conclusion that we should start killing adults.

              There are a few different groundings for abortion: autonomy of the woman (but I think this argument is based on a false premise), overriding benefit to society (but the argument also justifies infanticide), the unborn deserve no moral consideration (ditto, usually). I go with some combination of the latter two. Pick your poison. 🙂

              • BJ
                Posted March 1, 2019 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

                “If an elderly person was truly in the position of a fetus…”

                In the comment to which I was responding, you clearly stated, “The thing is, though, that those crippled newborns aren’t independent entities.” Talking about a fetus and a newborn are two very different things. If you believe the same about a newborn, why did you change the argument in your response here to a fetus?

              • Adam M.
                Posted March 1, 2019 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

                Oh, just because of the hours between when I wrote them and a bad habit of skimming over my own writing. 🙂

                I’d still ask the same questions. “Does anyone love or depend on them? How much would they and other people suffer? How sentient are they?” Basically, what would be lost and what would be gained?

                Compared to a fetus, a newborn is slightly more sentient and more people might be starting to love it (though if it’s deformed badly enough to be a candidate for infanticide, maybe not). In the cost/benefit comparison, I still think it’s rare that the costs for killing an old person would be equally low and the benefits equally high as for killing a newborn.

                I always enjoy reading your comments, though. What do you think truly separates a fetus from a newborn, or a newborn from a pig, such we can kill the pig and fetus but not the newborn? Is it something fundamental, or just fear of a slippery slope?

              • BJ
                Posted March 2, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

                “I always enjoy reading your comments, though”!

                Thank you! Back atcha.

                I think the difference between a fetus and a newborn is that, if we are to have “human rights” as a society (and I think we can all agree that we need to and that those principles need to be agreed upon as a moral good), then the application of those principles must start at some cut-off point. I think that cut-off point is when one becomes a human being. If we go with your argument, we then have to deal with a new question: is the cut-off point for when you have the rights we give to people not at birth? If not, when is it? And, most importantly, to the mentally and physically handicapped have fewer or no rights, and what is the cut-off for the handicap at which the person loses those rights?

                I almost always value a utilitarian perspective, so I definitely see where you’re coming from, but, while it might sound like my argument is a question of philosophy and morals, it’s actually utilitarian. The utility of not going with your plan is that we maintain our current respect for human rights and don’t begin to bring up these questions because I think bringing up these questions could have some very nasty effects and potentially change society for the worse.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          “My wife is a NICU nurse, and every day she sees terrible, tragic situations where babies are born with all sorts of ailments, maladies, handicaps, etc. You name it, she’s seen it.”

          Whose right is it to inflict a lifetime of suffering (however short) on the infant and a disabled child on the parents? Yours? You’re not the one being faced with looking after a deformed child for the rest of its life. How dare you decide to impose that on anybody.

          These are NOT natural births. They are achieved by artificial means. In the past those babies would not have survived childbirth. So an unnatural result is being achieved ‘because we can’. This is as much playing God as abortion is. More so, if the parents don’t want it.

          cr

          • Greg
            Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

            If you don’t want to be burdened with such a responsibility, fine. No one’s forcing you to. Give it up for adoption in that case. THAT’S the choice anyone and everyone should be allowed to make, not life or death for the child itself.

            As for playing God, of course humans play God. We have to, because we’re forced to do so. My advice: always err on the side of life. You never know what potential a “deficient” life may have.

            I really think in reading some of these comments that it’s quite possible that decades or centuries from now the culture of abortion in this country may be seen as no better than the Nazis.

            • Kelly
              Posted March 2, 2019 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

              “”that it’s quite possible that decades or centuries from now the culture of abortion in this country may be seen as no better than the Nazis.”

              When the Nazis dehumanized thinking, feeling people, they denied that these people had very real human thoughts and feelings. They didnt’ deny that the Jews and Slavs and other groups targeted for extermination were HUMAN, but they denied their capacity as EQUALS, they denied their capacity as thinking, feeling humans with hopes and dreams.

              I don’t see anyone denying that an embryo is human. In fact, everyone knows that human embryos are composed of human DNA. So, no dehumanization here. And an embryo doesn’t have thoughts or feelings, it only has a vague potential with may or may not be realized, so kindly explain where the dehumanization is going on here that is the equivalent of what the Nazis did to the groups that were targeted.

              An embryo is mindless. And embryo doesn’t have thoughts or feelings. This is a matter of fact.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted March 3, 2019 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

              “If you don’t want to be burdened with such a responsibility, fine. No one’s forcing you to. Give it up for adoption in that case.”

              That is one of the most contemptible disingenuous non-answers I’ve seen.

              How many people are queuing up to adopt deformed retarded crippled unwanted kids?

              cr

              • Posted March 4, 2019 at 11:45 am | Permalink

                Also, it ignores the fact that pregnancy always risks the mother (and her existing social system to a lesser degree). When and how do we force people to accept that risk? Note that the social system itself is in a way “all of us” to various degrees!

                Note: “viability” is relative to the state of the art, so paradoxically it may result in no danger to the mother but danger to all of us to because it would entail all ova once mature (at menarche?) to be immediately harvested and forced to divide (or to be subject to ordinary fertilization). (Yes, another slippery slope, but a more plausible one – unless of course we decide to change the criteria to be “viable and …”.)

        • Kelly
          Posted March 2, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

          “” Yet whose right is it to determine that someone else’s life is not worth living?””

          You apparently seem to think that YOU have that right if the child is created through rape.

          Do tell, what qualities does an embryo that is created through rape lack that an embryo created through consensual sex has? Why does one have the right to life and the other not? Is an embryo created through rape less human than one created through consensual sex? Does it lack potential? Or are you basing your decision on the actions of the pregnant person whilst disregarding the intrinsic worth of a tiny human being?

          Why do you deem one to be more valuable than the other, yet blithely state that an embryo has the identical moral worth to a thinking, feeling adult of any age?

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Arguing that abortion is immoral is not the same thing as arguing that it should be illegal. There are numerous things generally considered to be immoral that are nevertheless still legal. Cheating on your spouse, for instance.

      Are there reasons not to make abortion illegal, even if it is immoral? Why yes there are.

      It doesn’t stop abortion, for one thing, it just makes it messy and creates medical issues. Prohibition didn’t work either. The year before Roe v. Wade, there were 500,000 emergency room admissions for women under 45 with septicemia or severe abdominal hemorrhaging. They couldn’t be reported as botched abortions because abortion was illegal. Cost paid by taxpayers as well.

      Second, it would difficult and expensive to enforce and prosecute, and it is not clear who should be charged or what sort of penalties should be imposed. Nor is it clear if it is local, state, or federal agencies who should do the enforcing, and pay the costs of enforcing it.

      Third, it always depends on a medical evaluation whether a given case is the moral or immoral version of an abortion, a decision best left to medical professionals. That is not nearly as feasible if it is illegal.

      By all means recommend that people not get abortions, if that is how you see it. But don’t adopt the view that all things immoral should also be illegal. It is simply not the case.

    • Roo
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      Greg – out of genuine curiosity, since you come to this position as an atheist and not as an axiom of religion – do you take a hardline stance on animal rights and killing animals for our benefit? It seems to me that this would be the logical conclusion of holding life sacrosanct in the absence of a “man is made in the image of God” argument – i.e., if life is sacrosanct then all life is sacrosanct, and certainly the life of a very intelligent pig who lives in torturous conditions to be turned into a mass produced bottle of cheap Bacon Bits would land pretty high up on the concern hierarchy. The pig, after all, is fully capable of having an experience of happiness and suffering and very much alive and autonomous.

      Is this in fact your stance? If so, I think this logically follows… if not, what is your rationale in placing very rudimentary human life above fully developed and sentient animal life? In then absence of a religious framework, I’m curious as to what your intuitions on that hierarchy of sentience are.

      • Posted March 2, 2019 at 12:00 am | Permalink

        And bacteria. Don’t forget all the bacteria we kill every time we brush our teeth or wash our hands.

        -Ryan

      • Greg
        Posted March 2, 2019 at 12:09 am | Permalink

        Roo, I’m for minimizing suffering among all sentient creatures. I value all life. I’m the kind of person who, upon finding even a mere insect in his home, will catch and release in the backyard rather than kill.

        I am not opposed to humans using animals for food, however; but I do not like the fact that pigs, chickens, cows, and other creatures live a miserable life of pain and suffering merely for our dietary benefit.

        I’ve been ridiculed by some here for suggesting that the very fact that a human fetus has the POTENTIAL to be a full grown, adult human being is in and of itself a valid argument for opposing abortion. I don’t share such cynicism.

        Look, I didn’t create the world. I simply find myself in it. If God exists, he’s got a lot to answer for in terms of the gratuitous evil, pain, and suffering that he put into motion and has allowed. I don’t claim to have a fully worked out philosophical system, and even if I did, some joker would undoubtedly poke holes in it anyway. My modus operandi is that we should err on the side of life, and a corollary is we should minimize pain and suffering as much as possible. Everyone has to ultimately follow his or her conscience, and my conscience tells me I should err on the side of life, and minimize pain and suffering. I can’t speak for anyone else. If they want to kill their unborn child, and think it’s justified, I have no control over that. All I can hope for is that as a society, as a civilization, we can form a consensus that it is better to promote life than take life away. That goes for humans and it goes for animals as well.

        • Roo
          Posted March 2, 2019 at 9:24 am | Permalink

          Greg, my guess, just based on what you’ve said here, is that your intuition is that humans have some sort of spirit / soul / essence that is uniquely human, at least from the time of conception. I think if you see it as a matter of preventing suffering alone, then a pig in a factory farm would actually be a much bigger concern than a 4 or 5 week old fetus that is not close to being identifiably human or even identifiably mammalian. I think for it to logically follow that the most rudimentary human life is more important than more fully developed animal life, your intuition has to be that some sort of human spirit is already present in that life.

          From a strictly logical perspective, I think the best case pro-life advocates can make is that of female infanticide that happens globally. To me that is proof that human attitudes can shift towards the dangerously callous given the right circumstances and conditions, and that we should want at least some kind of bulwark against that (I also think viewing each human life as sacrosanct likely helps to form our intuitions about human rights, which are also incredibly important.) I don’t think that’s a case for making abortion fully illegal – the harm that comes from allowing a pregnant woman with severe complications to die; or even for a college student’s life to be ruined or for her to continue in a cycle of generational poverty due to an unplanned pregnancy is also incredibly significant. (For those who are pro-life for religious reasons – I understand the intuition, but if you believe in God, I actually think answering to God for either of the above would be incredibly difficult as well, I don’t think it’s right to assume you would get automatic kudos for saving a 5 or 6 week old fetus and ruining a life.) But, I do think it’s a matter we should treat with a lot of gravity and consideration.

    • Posted March 1, 2019 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

      Does Godwin’s law apply on this site?

      -Ryan

      • Posted March 1, 2019 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

        Adding to that, your use of the phrase “materialistic evolution” later on is quite suspicious.

        Further, if you see all stages of a fertilized egg as equal to humans, what about fertilized eggs that fail to implant?

        -Ryan

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 2, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        Posted about Godwin’s law, before I came to your post.
        Highly pertinent.

  5. Barry Lyons
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    But why does Sullivan remain a Catholic? I asked a friend about this. His reply was succinct: “Sullivan is a moron.” That works.

    • Posted March 1, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      He is moving and changing, based on facts as they make themselves known to him. I find that changing ones’ mind on that basis is a rare form of intelligence.

      • Curt Nelson
        Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        I think so, too. And the accusation that a politician is a flip-flopper for changing positions should be considered a compliment.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      I hope he changes his mind on that too. I asked the same of one of my friends given her liberal feelings on many social issues. She couldn’t answer me satisfactorily. Another Catholic friend is Catholic simply because her family is – she doesn’t strike me as someone how believes anything the church preaches.

    • Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      I cannot agree that he is a moron.
      No moron can write like that.

      I think he is just skilled in maintaining contradictory ideas in his head. Many people are good at this.

      I recommend reading the debates between AS and Sam Harris on Sam’s site.

    • Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think the verdict is just.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    From Sullivan’s piece, about the anti-abortion sermon he heard while attending Mass with Rose Kennedy at the family’s Hyannisport compound:

    “As I sat there, listening, I couldn’t help but note that he hadn’t picked exactly a relevant audience for his particular topic. Here was a woman in her 90s, a nun, and a young homo.”

    That one really did make me laugh out loud.

  7. Historian
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    “I believe both that abortion is the taking of a human life, and that in a free society, rooted in property rights, an individual has complete autonomy over her body — autonomy which the state cannot violate.”

    This still seems to be Sullivan’s view of abortion, even though later in the piece he confusingly talks about the moral aspect. Notice the bind that Sullivan gets himself into. What is the rationale he uses to justify abortion? The answer is property rights. In other words, owning something, in this case the woman’s body gives her the right to do whatever she wants to it, including murdering a human being (as abortion opponents would argue) – the fetus. The implications of this philosophy, based on the sanctity of property rights, the bedrock of conservative ideology, is staggering. For example, if a person owns a body of water, such as a lake, he can do anything he wants to it, including polluting it and everything that implies, because property rights allow him to do so. I suppose that as a philosophical conservative Sullivan had no problem in invoking property rights.

    Getting into a debate on abortion is a morass a person finds usually difficult to get out of. My position on third semester abortions is that even if one defines the fetus as a “person,” the woman has a right to abort not out of her property rights, but out of morality – the decision to bring the child to term would doom it to a probable very short life, characterized by horrifying suffering.

    • BJ
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      ” For example, if a person owns a body of water, such as a lake, he can do anything he wants to it, including polluting it and everything that implies, because property rights allow him to do so.”

      Only if that person owned the entire lake, and the pollution didn’t affect any property that wasn’t his or hers, which is impossible.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      I disagree there, Historian.

      I strongly agree that ‘private property’ as applied to, e.g. land or lakes, is not absolute. Nobody has the right to ruin it for future generations.

      Private property as applied to e.g. my computer is different. It’s mine, I paid for it, I can put what I like on it, it has no impact an anybody else (so long as I don’t spread viruses).

      Even more private property is my own body. I control it (insofar as nature lets me), I decide whether I’m going to have an operation or not, I can even cut off my finger if I want (I hope someone would dissuade me but legally they can’t stop me). And the same applies to any unwanted growth and that includes pregnancy. If I choose to let it be born (were I female of course) *then* it acquires rights.

      I also agree with your practical grounds on the issue of third-term abortion for impaired foetuses (you didn’t say ‘impaired’ but I guess from the context that’s what you meant).

      cr

    • Adam M.
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

      I have a hard time seeing that people actually do have “complete autonomy over [their bodies]”, especially “autonomy that the state cannot violate”. I don’t think such a situation has prevailed under any state at any time in history. While we may be trending in that direction, it’s still the case in the US that the government can tell you what substances you can eat, drink, or smoke; restrict what you can and can’t wear; or draft you to die in some war. Most other governments control what you can say and where you can say it. And outside the West, there are restrictions on how and with whom you can have sex, whom you can marry, what you must believe and profess, and all kinds of other things. (Many of those restrictions existed in the US as well until fairly recently.)

      The state has long controlled intimate aspects of people’s bodies and continues to do so. So saying there’s some right of autonomy just isn’t true, however much we may wish it. I’ve always thought this was one of the weakest arguments for abortion.

      • BJ
        Posted March 2, 2019 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        You are, of course, correct, in that any time there is a state, or even an organized society that enforces social laws through force, people don’t have bodily autonomy. Most importantly (beyond what you already mentioned), the state must have the power of force behind it if it’s to be a state at all and enforce its laws. All states have the power to use force against the bodies of its citizens to prevent them from breaking the law. The state, simply by existing, negates the idea of full bodily autonomy.

        However, I do think as much autonomy as possible is a goal for which we should strive.

  8. Posted March 1, 2019 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    The Cultural Catholic movement is proceeding well. May they join the Secular Jews.

    I know of many Catholics who wish to reform their own religion from within until it is nearly indistinguishable from a personal spirituality project. These efforts, paradoxically, undermine the foundation of Catholicism. Like watching them sink their own ship.

    • GBJames
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      The question I have for such Catholics is “What would you do if push came to shove and you were threatened with excommunication for failing to comply with the Church’s demands?”

      • Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        The Vatican is a lot like the NFL.

        NFL has concussions and kneeling, both are real, unavoidable, and sensitive topics. NFL has to tread lightly about avoiding an exodus of players and/or fans. Don’t stand for the anthem…some fans will love it, some fans will burn their teams shirts. Confess head injuries and mothers will put their sons into other sports….supply problem.

        Vatican is also stuck in the middle. Stay too close to doctrine and they lose the educated, appease the progressives and the latin-is-our-mass fans will abandon ship.

        A most deserved satire.

        • GBJames
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

          I do not understand your point. My question is to be directed at Catholics like Sullivan.

          • Posted March 1, 2019 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

            I doubt the Catholic Church would excommunicate Sullivan. I doubt Sullivan fears excommunication. He is free to say what he wants and the church is unlikely to admonish its professed followers.

            • GBJames
              Posted March 2, 2019 at 8:28 am | Permalink

              It doesn’t matter if the Church would actually excommunicate Sullivan or not. They have the power to do so. The question is still valid whether or not it ever comes to it. “In the event…” places the burden on the participant to confront the limits of their commitment to rationality (or irrationality as the case may be).

  9. GBJames
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    sub

  10. yazikus
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I came to the conclusion that late-term abortions are actually the least objectionable.

    While being firmly pro-choice, I agree with this sentiment. Well said, Sullivan!

    • Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      <1% of abortions occur in 3rd trimester, nearly universally for the extreme circumstances Sullivan enumerates. Late-term abortion for such reasons is protected by Roe — and even by some of the ‘pro-life’ legislation proposed at the state level.

      To focus the debate on late-term abortions, just to satisfy some theoretical argument about ‘women’s bodily autonomy’, is highly counter-productive to pro-choice advocacy, risks a status quo that is extremely favorable to pro-choice, and about as unpragmatic & foolish as the People’s Front of Judea’s defense of Stan’s right to have babies.

      • JezGrove
        Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        Nicely put!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        “risks a status quo that is extremely favorable to pro-choice,”

        Did you mean UNfavourable?

        cr

        • Posted March 2, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

          What don’t you like about Roe? It protects unrestricted access for >90% of abortions.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted March 3, 2019 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

            So you’re saying the status quo IS favourable? What about all the various state laws intended to make getting abortions more difficult or expensive?

            I wasn’t sure if you meant ‘puts at risk an existing status quo’ or ’causes a risk of establishing a status quo that is unfavourable…’

            cr

            • Posted March 3, 2019 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

              Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey is the status quo.

              * > 90% of abortions occur in the 1st trimester — within the first few weeks, in fact. The status quo ensures full access with no governmental hindrance or restriction prior to fetal viability;

              * The remainder are almost always due to risk to the pregnant woman’s health, which is also protected.

              All pro-choice advocacy energy should be directed at protecting this status quo, which 2/3 of Americans support. Instead, radical leftist agitators — with the Dems now meekly following, are risking it all to win the right to abort a viable fetus, theoretically up to seconds before birth. Something most Americans, including myself, strongly oppose and even find horrifying & sadistic.

  11. E C Siegel
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    A true story about a late term abortion. A woman, 36 or 37 years old, was pregnant. This was before there were tests of the maternal blood that could indicate a chromosomal abnormality. There was no amniocentesis at week 16 as was usual for women of that age because abortion was unacceptable for religious reasons. Ultrasound began to show problems and amniocentesis ordered to clarify the situation. It revealed trisomy 9, always lethal to the fetus. An abortion was recommended for the mother’s health, but it was too late in the pregnancy to have the procedure in her home state.The woman had to go to Kansas, and the doctor there who performed the abortion might have been George Tiller who was later murdered by an antiabortion terrorist.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    There’s definite squick factor regarding abortion, and the later the abortion is in a woman’s pregnancy, the greater the squick factor tends to be — similar (though not identical) to the squick factor that causes most people to reject eating “bush meat” made from our fellow great apes.

    But to believe that an un-implanted zygote, or a recently implanted zygote composed of undifferentiated cells, is ontologically equivalent to a live human being — well, that usually requires a metaphysical presupposition regarding ensoulment.

    The only atheist I’ve ever heard argue to the contrary is C. Hitchens (although the Hitch still favored abortion rights), and I never found his argument in this regard all that persuasive.

    • Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      I agree.

      Personally, I would never advocate for an abortion unless it was one of those situations that Mr. Sullivan describes, which are tragic.

      But I am as hard over for a woman’s choice as you can imagine.

      All that said, I don’t think Sullivan is quite right in completely cutting off the father of the child for consideration in the issue.

      I/we were lucky: We’ve got two healthy sons. But my wife spontaneously aborted (miscarried) quite a few times (fairly- to very-early), which we both consider her body “doing the right thing” with a non-viable fetus.

      • Filippo
        Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

        Would you care to specify how much consideration the father should have?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          If I may interject – I think, legally, none**. In practice, the father will have some influence over the mother’s decision, varying from very considerable (if married) to virtually none (if it was a one-night stand) – and I think that’s probably about the right extent. But it must be the mother’s choice.

          This is based on the consideration that the mother is the one who does all the ‘work’.

          (**Except – I also think that all aspects should be consensual and ‘opt-in’. Which leads me to conclude that if the pregnancy was the unexpected result of a casual encounter, and the woman decides to ‘keep the baby’ against the wishes of the father, his liability for child support should be minimal. He doesn’t get to dictate an abortion but he does not get saddled with the costs of fatherhood that he didn’t want. I may get some disagreement on this 🙂

          cr

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Yes, well said Ken. In Canada, there are no limits on abortion. The rationale is that this is a decision between a woman and her physician not a woman and the state. As Matt suggested above, very few abortions occur late in pregnancies; often there is a danger to the woman if they performed late but sometimes they are necessary and worth the risk. Again – this is a medical decision not a state decision.

      Prior to 1969, all abortions were illegal. Many women died getting back alley abortions. It as through the bravery of Doctor Morgentaler that we owe the change to the law – he went to jail to fight this. Of course, people attacked him (I think mostly because he was a Jew) and even today there is the occasional push to reopen the abortion discussion. In the 80s, there were attempts to make some sort of law around it but it ultimately failed. I think it works well in Canada, despite some protesting it – you’ll always have people who will disagree.

      • Posted March 4, 2019 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        I attended a memorial that some local humanist groups put on for Morgentaler (to show solidarity for the principles he was famous for – I never knew him) and it was pretty clear that there was antisemitism involved, but also “residual Catholicism” and other things. The event played a documentary about his life and work, including a lot of stuff about his motivation.

    • Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      “But to believe that an un-implanted zygote, or a recently implanted zygote composed of undifferentiated cells, is ontologically equivalent to a live human being — well, that usually requires a metaphysical presupposition regarding ensoulment.”

      Very well said.

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Anyone truly opposed to abortion should spend their effort advocating for better access to contraception and better sex education. These have been shown by hard numbers to be much more effective at reducing abortion rates than making abortion illegal is.

  13. tubby
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    No, Sullivan, it’s worth celebrating the fact that even that terrible, unwanted choice is the woman’s, not the state’s, to make. You can only find it innappropriate because you will never be in a position where the state makes you carry a stillborn fetus to term with all the risks that entails.

    • Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      True. But after reading numerous published accounts of women about how empowered they feel by their abortions, and how the abortion was no more bothering than a diarrhoea, I understand where Sullivan is coming from.

      • Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        I’ve spoken to women about their abortions and all of them felt pretty bad (but relieved!) about them. Everyone’s different, and I’m sure some feel the way you describe.

        • Posted March 4, 2019 at 11:53 am | Permalink

          At CMU we worked on software to explore the topic as part of an “applied ethics” approach. One factor which the creators included was interviews with women who had decided each way and so on. I think that’s a very valuable teaching style, myself. It is easy to be caught either way in anecdotes or “gut feelings” without confronting the real lives involved – all of them. Especially for us who will never be pregnant.

  14. Posted March 1, 2019 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I would suggest anyone who has questions about this topic should read Dr. Jen Gunter’s blog. It’s on WordPress. She is an expert and very informative.

  15. Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    “If you must remain religious, what about becoming a Reform Jew, about as close to atheism as you can get?”

    Good one Jerry!

    I’ve had lots of Jewish friends and colleagues (in the USA). I’m not sure any of them were actually religious (I really think they liked bacon, crab, and lobster too much!). But they certainly identified as Jewish. As you often say, it is cultural and team loyalty, I think.

    But, a question: Can one become a Jew (if one is not born or married into the religion)? I thought that was familial only (??).

    • Frank Bath
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      I once asked a secular Jewish friend this and he said I could. It was a matter of going to the right body of Jews as I recall.

    • Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Yes, one can convert to Judaism and so become a Jew.

      • Posted March 1, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        OK, now I’m talking tongue-in-cheek; but I am circumcised (not for religious reasons), so maybe I can now just self-identify as a Jew? 🙂

        • JezGrove
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

          Or a Muslim! Strange that the more similar you are, the more you have to emphasize the differences.

          • Posted March 4, 2019 at 11:54 am | Permalink

            In a way that *is* how one becomes a Muslim – one makes the appropriate declaration.

        • Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          I am afraid that many Jewish bodies (including the one in my country) will make you study and pass some sort of exam!

        • BJ
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

          Judaism is actually comparatively difficult to convert to, unless you get a fairly secular Rabbi (and, even then, he’ll make you take some sort of education/study and ensure you really do have a desire to convert to the religion). Jews don’t proselytize and, if one wants to convert, any conversion process will require study of the religion before the person is allowed to convert.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        “es, one can convert to Judaism and so become a Jew.”

        Just ask the great Walter Sobchak 🙂 :

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Seriously, why would anyone want to become a Jew? When you can be an atheist with less hassle and no pointless religious rules?

      cr

      • JezGrove
        Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        But then wouldn’t you miss out on ruling the world, having all the wealth, and knowing the truth about a global conspiracy? (In case it needs saying, I’m not being serious. Though Jeremy Corbyn would probably stand by me without the caveat.)

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

          I suppose you could always become ‘woke’ and join A+ over at Pharyngula [vbeg]

          cr

    • BJ
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      For me, it’s not team loyalty. I don’t live my life or carry out my beliefs in any way that is Jewish, but I am genetically Jewish and I enjoy celebrating the holidays of my people with my family and friends.

      Being a Jew (unless by conversion) is different than being a Catholic, or Muslim, or Buddhist. The vast majority of Jews are ethnically Jewish, so there’s no dissonance between not believing in even a bit of the religion but still considering yourself Jewish because you still are Jewish (unless, again, you became Jewish by conversion).

  16. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Good on Andrew Sullivan for finally concluding that nobody** has an abortion for the heck of it.

    (** To a first approximation)

    Re nuclear power plants, I also agree with him. I don’t like nuclear much – too many risks, but in the short term – and I’m talking decades here – it’s far preferable to burning gas, oil and coal unnecessarily. There’s absolutely no point in driving an electric car if the power comes from a fossil-fuel plant anyway.

    Also, of course, coal and particularly oil are finite resources, and have many other uses as chemical feedstock rather than just burning it. It’s like burning dollar bills (except the government can always print more dollars). Future generations may come to curse the abandon with which we made oil scarce.

    cr

    • JezGrove
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Good point. Wasting fossil fuels by burning them inefficiently in power stations, and losing huge quantities of their energy in the process, is one thing. Utilizing their chemicals in other ways is something else.

  17. BJ
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    The only abortion I’m against is abortion after the point of viability. Before that, I don’t see any logical argument for considering a gamete, zygote, fetus, whatever a living being, to say nothing of a “human.”

    Any “Green New Deal” or other sweeping environmental legislation meant to help reduce global warming and pollution that is opposed to nuclear power is completely asinine. In France, 71.6% of their electricity is produced by nuclear power. So long as plants are properly placed and run, the only issue is disposal of nuclear waste, which also isn’t that difficult an issue if properly done.

    The Left’s decades-long campaign against nuclear power has seriously damaged one of the best solutions to global warming, pollution, and other environmental issues, and it’s absolutely infuriating to me.

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      Pinker makes that point about the need for nuclear power in Enlightenment Now.

      It is sad but true that nuclear has a bad reputation, and is perceived as very risky – not because of how likely an accident is, but because of how devastating an accident could be. If only the safety measures had been in place earlier, and the accidents that have already occurred had not. At this point, I don’t think its reputation can be salvaged, but we shall see.

      • BJ
        Posted March 1, 2019 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        At this point, I think it’s far less about the accidents of the past and far more about how much campaigning anti-nuclear activists and organizations have successfully committed. The only serious incident since Chernobyl is Fukushima, and the US doesn’t have the same weather issues that Japan does (nor does most of the world. Japan is pretty extraordinary when it comes to their weather. Just as the Mongols…). Before Fukushima, most people I know still thought nuclear power was somehow bad for the environment and/or dangerous, though they could never articulate why beyond “what if something bad happens” and “but where do you put the waste.”

        • BJ
          Posted March 1, 2019 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

          *Just ask the Mongols

        • Posted March 1, 2019 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

          My understanding is that tsunamis can occur on any shoreline. Fukushima really had nothing to do with Japan’s weather but an earthquake. Although Japan is particularly prone to earthquakes, earthquakes can occur anywhere in the world and tsunamis can also be caused by underwater avalanches.

          Nuclear reactors were built near the ocean (and rivers) for convenient access to cooling water. In future, I’m sure they won’t be built so close to the ocean.

          It’s sad really that nuclear power has gotten such a bad reputation. I believe I once saw a statistic relating accidental deaths to power produced for nuclear and non-nuclear generation and it favored nuclear. I’m not sure where I saw that though.

          • BJ
            Posted March 1, 2019 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

            That’s a good correction. Thank you.

            Though it does put a damper on my joke about the Mongols 😦

          • BJ
            Posted March 1, 2019 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

            Also, I haven’t seen the statistic you mention, but it seems like common sense to me. People who work in nuclear power plants generally sit behind a desk, but all the things that go into the production of fossil fuels are very hazardous. Being an oil rig worker is a very dangerous job. How many miles are driven every year to transport oil, gas, propane, etc.? Car accidents alone that happen to include a truck that’s transporting a fossil fuel would probably outnumber deaths caused by nuclear power by an enormous margin.

          • Adam M.
            Posted March 1, 2019 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

            Some search results for those safety statistics.

            I think the bigger problem is that Fukushima was still using a design from the 1960s or so, which didn’t have passive safety. Unfortunately, many (most?) nuclear reactors are ancient and are being operated far beyond their design life. We apparently haven’t the will (or infrastructure money) to build a modern reactor, but we can’t turn the old ones off because we need the power. It’s a recipe for disaster…

            • Posted March 1, 2019 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

              It’s a little bit like airline disasters. Each one is bad but the improvements made by the airlines, air traffic control, and airplane makers make it safer and safer even as the passenger volume increases. I expect something similar has been happening with nuclear reactors though the fact that they last so long makes it take longer.

            • Posted March 1, 2019 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

              Thanks. This one seems pretty readable. Nuclear, especially if restricted to the US comes out way ahead.

              Energy Source Mortality Rate (deaths/trillionkWhr)

              Coal – global average 100,000 (41% global electricity)

              Coal – China 170,000 (75% China’s electricity)

              Coal – U.S. 10,000 (32% U.S. electricity)

              Oil 36,000 (33% of energy, 8% of electricity)

              Natural Gas 4,000 (22% global electricity)

              Biofuel/Biomass 24,000 (21% global energy)

              Solar (rooftop) 440 (< 1% global electricity)

              Wind 150 (2% global electricity)

              Hydro – global average 1,400 (16% global electricity)

              Hydro – U.S. 5 (6% U.S. electricity)

              Nuclear – global average 90 (11% global electricity w/Chern&Fukush)

              Nuclear – U.S. 0.1 (19% U.S. electricity)

            • BJ
              Posted March 2, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

              So, that’s really a perfect encapsulation of what we’ve been saying: if we move to nuclear now and properly maintain it, we should have no problems. All the plants we’d build would have the most up-to-date safety features. I can’t believe Fukushima didn’t even have a passive safety…

              • Posted March 2, 2019 at 11:00 am | Permalink

                I thought it did have all kinds of safety features but it was just not prepared for a large tsunami. I think the world has come to realize in the last few decades that tsunamis are something to be worried about. Their existence was known but other threats seemed more realistic. If I remember correctly, they have a sea wall at Fukushima that was intended to deal with threats from the sea but it was no match for what happened.

              • BJ
                Posted March 2, 2019 at 11:15 am | Permalink

                Now that you mention it, it would surprise me greatly if the Japanese, of all people, weren’t keeping such an important power plant up to date. I’ll have to look further into this, but I’m inclined to go with your perspective.

                Though Adam M. is not wrong regarding many other plants in other countries. I have a plant somewhere nearby that has not been maintained well and lacks certain safety features, as it was built in the 70’s. My state has been forcing them in recent years to update their facility.

    • Adam M.
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      I totally agree about nuclear power. As for the waste, look at integral fast reactors, which can extract about 99.5% of the energy from the fuel rather than 0.65%, producing much less and less dangerous waste. In fact, they can consume the still-energy-rich waste from traditional nuclear reactors as fuel, so they can help solve the existing waste problem while providing energy. High passive safety, too. A bit dangerous from a nuclear weapons proliferation standpoint, though.

      The technology is proven to work at small to medium scales. They never finished extending it to large scales. The project got killed for apparently political reasons. The opposition to nuclear power is really unfortunate. It’s true that a lot of the old 60s designs were unsafe*, but the response should be safer designs, not to abandon the technology entirely.

      * Even so they’re still the safest generation technology by far (in deaths per unit of energy). When nuclear goes wrong, few people die. Even when coal goes right, millions of people die every year. Even just counting radiation, people are exposed to far more of it from fly ash than nuclear power plants…

  18. Posted March 1, 2019 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Regarding abortion, from my digital scrapbook:

    You can’t use a corpse’s organs without the owner’s consent, even after death, even if someone will die without that heart or lung. But [abortion opponents] believe they should be able to force a woman to stay pregnant and give birth against her will. We give corpses more bodily autonomy than these people think women should have.

    — comment by “drst” on Pharyngula, February 4, 2015

    • BJ
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      Even though I disagree with people who aren’t pro-choice, the argument you’ve reproduced here is deeply disingenuous. The people who oppose abortion do so on the grounds that abortion is violating the rights of a living human being. For them, it doesn’t have anything to do with the mother’s autonomy, but the autonomy of what they believe is another human.

      • Kelly
        Posted March 2, 2019 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        A braindead corpse is a living human being. The body can survive even if the brain is dead in some cases. Full death is only achieved when the heart stops beating.

        • BJ
          Posted March 2, 2019 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          And we’ve seen these same people oppose pulling the plug on such cases. Remember Terry Schiavo?

          • Kelly
            Posted March 2, 2019 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

            Yes I do. The argument to keep beating heart cadavers alive is purely emotional. I once witnessed a pro-lifer go into hysterics because it was explained to him that it would not be murder to use the organs of anencephalic babies (these are babies who are born without a cerebral cortex, which means they will NEVER achieve basic sentience) to save the lives of other sick babies.

            As long as something has a cute face, hysterical pro-lifers will want to save it. Interestingly they don’t seem to care about the lives of parasitic twins, which have the same capacity for sentience as Terri Schiavo and anencephalic fetuses (ie NONE). But parasitic twins aren’t cute, so according to pro-lifers, their lives are worthless.

            • BJ
              Posted March 2, 2019 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

              I agree it’s purely emotional and that the whole thing was ridiculous and that they were wrong. Still, none of what’s been said here contradicts my argument that the original comment reproduced above is a disingenuous attempt to pretend that people who oppose abortion care less about a woman’s autonomy than a cadaver’s.

              • Kelly
                Posted March 3, 2019 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

                It’s not at all disingenuous because it depends on the pro-lifer. Pro-lifers are not a monolith. Some truly worship the fetus and believe in ‘life at all costs’ whereas others get off on feeling morally superior whilst others feel the need to control the sexuality of women.

                Also, if the pro-lifer in question believes that abortion is justified in the case of rape or incest, then they are essentially stating that women have the right to bodily autononomy if and only if they have the ‘right’ kind of sex that the pro-lifer approves of.

                Related, and very interesting, is the fact that more women than men support anti-abortion laws (interestingly, more Muslim women support the hijab and FGM than men).

                Ever wonder why this might be?

                “”Yet despite the way it is portrayed, polls consistently show that more men than women are in favour of legal abortions, both in Britain and in America. In this country 59 per cent of women want to reduce the legal limit from 24 weeks, compared to just 35 per cent of men. In fact, 10 per cent of British women would ban abortion outright.””

                It’s called “intrasexual competition”

                “‘Yet intrasexual competition explains a lot. For example, more men than women oppose the horrible practice of female genital mutilation, while more women than men support mandatory hijab-wearing in Iran. This matches research in the West, where it is women who show most hostility to other women wearing revealing clothes – ‘slut-shaming’ – and where the majority of misogynistic abuse online is done by females.””

                https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/01/female-culture-war-begun/

                If women can control the sexual behaviour of the competition, the price of sex goes up, and they can not only stand a better chance of securing a mate, but can hold onto that mate without him being seduced by young hotties. Illegal abortion, the hijab and FGM all serve the purpose of keeping the competition in check.

                https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/01/female-culture-war-begun/

                I learned about intrasexual competition from evolutionary psychologist @RealYeyoza on Twitter, whose article on sexual dimorphism is cited by PCC in this post: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/09/28/a-new-critique-of-cordelia-fines-testosterone-rex/

                So, you are correct that pro-life is about the right to life of the fetus. But it’s also about controlling female sexuality, which is about denying women bodily autonomy to prevent and punish sexual promiscuity.

              • BJ
                Posted March 3, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

                What you’re arguing is that, for certain pro-life people, it is about controlling women’s sexual autonomy. So, this does make the original comment disingenuous for many, if not most, pro-life people. Furthermore, you base this argument not on the statements of the pro-lifers, but on the theory of intrasexual competition, and on polls that show only a slight margin of women over men supporting the pro-life position. This argument is tenuous. I’m of a mind that I we should take people at their word with regard to why they believe what they believe, rather than imputing our own (and incidentally convenient) explanations. Finally, I didn’t think we were talking about other issues or even the issue of abortion in other countries, especially Islamic theocracies.

                Even if you want to use other theories to explain what you’ve brought up, you could use plenty of other theories. For example, we know that women tend to make decisions based on emotion more often; we know that women tend to be more religious than men; etc.

  19. Bruce Swanney
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure what a man being “personally opposed” to abortion means. It sounds like an oxy-moron or non-sequitur or one of those things.

    • BJ
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      Unless we’re being really uncharitable, it means he’s morally opposed to it but believes it shouldn’t be his decision whether women have the right to do it. Most people who are vegetarians for reasons of animal rights probably don’t want the eating of meat to be outlawed for other people, but they’re still morally opposed to eating it.

  20. openidname
    Posted March 1, 2019 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m a Conservative Jew who attends a Reform shul, so I had to laugh.

    Seriously, though, I think the Unitarians or the Quakers are closer to atheism.

    • Posted March 2, 2019 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Unitarians accep atheists as members. That is pretty close.

  21. Posted March 4, 2019 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Not that this is about religion, but an interesting thing to note is that pro choice or pro life has no correlation with religion. 😛 A pro lifer actually made this statement in a youtube clip I was watching recently, it was the only thing I actually agreed on like 100% without thought or question. 🙂

    As a pro choice woman (Atheist if it matters :P) I do question my views around abortion sometimes and I think both sides pro life and pro choice (if you ignore the brainwashed sheep) have valid points and I think both sides truly want what is best for humanity. I think both can have their hearts in the right place. If that makes sense.

    All I am going to comment is though I am pro choice, I am against women getting abortions passed a certain time into their pregnancy. I think 3rd trimester is cutting it a bit close. I think it should be illegalized to get one that late in the game in all states (since I now live in the states. I am Canadian though) and in Canada imo. I strongly feel there needs to be stricter laws around abortion. Abortion is NOT a form of birth control and it should not be treated as such. Most women can have babies and choose not to because they made a bad choice and now want to be selfish. These women make me cringe actually. We need to make it easier to support women/couples in their pregnancy as a society and abortion should be one of the last options. Raoe victims however should never be questioned for choosing abortion. It also should not just be a woman’s choice. Ultimately it should be, but this decision should always be discussed with your partner or babys father and take their feelings into serious consideration before you make your choice. I have seen it tare apart relationships and men becoming very emotionally scarred because women just terminate their child without question. (some more than once) like married couples and the father is like dude wtf is wrong with you? You have aborted like two of my kids already :/

    As for the pro life side…We need to make our world more ‘pro life’ before we give birth to more babies we cannot support. Our world is currently not equipped to support every breathing thing on this planet.

    I have been envolved in many discussions around abortion as of late, and sometimes repeating my beliefs can become tiresome so I will just leave it at I am pro choice, but within reason. I do not support planned parenthood or a lot of laws surrounding abortion. I think both sides need to be more educated, and because I think both sides make validate efforts to do good and do make very fair points, maybe in some dream land we will come together for real solutions that will morally benefit humanity, instead of fighting one another. I probably stand somewhere between pro life and pro choice spectrum if there was one. 🙂


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