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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Comments

little fighter

Dear Julie and others,
I don't believe that my ideas were correctly expressed. Before that posting i also sent another comment that obviously was incorrectly sent on my part. I apologise for anyone that this posting did offend especially because in honesty I am for legalizing abortion. The posting that did make it up was actually an apploogy for the harshness of the things that i said in my last comment(that wasn't seen). Now my "for legal abortion"(not pro-abortion) comment went some thing like this...
I belive that it is a woman's choice what happens to her body. For years and years women fought to get rights and not it seems like we are going in reverse. Don't get me wrong here, I love kids. I atually am striving to be a teacher. I right now work in child care. I care about kids. And that is my other point. Not everyone cares for children as i do. Did you know that the top cause of deathing people under the age of 18 is suicide and murder? It's appalling. Did you know that there is actuall, scientifically proven data, that says if a baby is changed and cleaned and feed, but never held that baby can die? That absence of love and want in a child's life is more important then some realize. To force a child to be brought into this world who we know will go unloved, should not be acceptable.
In a perfect world all children would be cared for and taken care of no matter who their parents are. But we all know that is is not a perfect world.
Please comment.
I would love to know what you are thinking.
NO matter your veiw it, is important to me.

Julie

calm down, little fighter. I don't remember being born either, and I doubt anyone ever has. My personal belief is in reincarnation, so even that fetus who is aborted will get another chance.

little fighter

to have a child is imaginablly one of the most amazing experiences of a lifetime. I can not remember what it was like, first being born, first seeining the world free and beautiful. This is for all unborn that will never know these feelings.

nicole

I am 8.5 weeks pregnant with a REAL baby. I'm not sure how anyone can say other wise. My BABY has eyes, a mouth, arms, legs, and a beating heart. All of the same things anyone on here has. My question is this. When would my child be a real child to those how don't believe he already is? When did you become a real person? How big does a person have to be before you can give them the right to live? How lucky we all are that our mothers and fathers didn't see us as just a clump of cells, but as REAL Humans, wether 5 days old in the womb, or 45 years old.

ol cranky

Hey Bon, the Our Truths has released it's premier issue - you can find it at http://www.ourtruths.org/zine-no01/index2.htm

Leah

Soren, I totally agree with you that the person who believes it is okay to abort on the basis of how the child was conceived (such as rape or incest), then I can't see that that person has grounds to disallow other grounds for abortion. How the child was conceived has no bearings on whether or not its life should be spared.

I've never held the opinion that abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest, so can't speak for those that do, but my guess is that they pity women who have been victimized in this way (as I do!) and don't feel right about "forcing" them to carry a child that they had no choice in helping to conceive, as they had no choice in the sex act (I guess here I'm assuming the incest involved statutory rape). Perhaps they feel that the pregnancy would be a continuation of the woman's victimization. Perhaps they agree to these rape and incest exceptions out of political expediency (in which case I'd agree that it's better to save the majority of children who aren't conceived in this way than none at all).

But I believe that treating a woman as though she was a victim not only of rape, but of pregnancy, send the wrong message. The woman is not a receptacle for the rapist's seed: that child is her child too. Her pregnancy didn't make her body something dirty that needs to be cleaned by an abortion. And an abortion, no matter how compassionate the motives, can't "unrape" her. Also, we cannot punish the child for the sins of his/her parents (in this case the rapist father). And following one act of violence (rape) with another (abortion) can leave the woman feeling even more the victim. One testimony: http://www.afterabortion.org/case_na.html

I agree that this is basically a question of human rights. When we're talking about abortion, though, the rights at jeopardy for the mother and child are very different. As you point out, having a child has a huge impact on a woman's life, and depending on the circumstances can effect her relationships, employment status, her health, etc. I don't mean to minimize the impact having a child has on a woman, but I have to point out that an abortion affects the child much more profoundly than pregnancy and childbirth affects the mother (the exception would be the rare maternal death: compare that to the 100% mortality rate of abortion). When you state that those who are affected by pregnancy should have the choice, who does the choice of abortion affect more: the woman or her child?

But an abortion can also have a traumatic effect (physical and emotional) on a woman's life, and, regardless how how one feels personally about the morality of abortion, to deny the pain many post-abortive women go through is wrong.

I agree that we as a society have not agreed upon the humanity of the human at the different stages of human development. What makes a person? Why should human life be protected? These are quite profound questions - philosophical, even theological, but NOT scientific questions. Biologically, the stage of development does not change the species of the organism. Science cannot give us the criteria by which we are to understand personhood.

I'd like to think that we all agree that human life must be protected and that we disagree only on what makes us "human". Perhaps I'm wrong, and some of us reading this blog believe that only those lives that meet our standards for worthiness deserve protection. Or perhaps it's the same thing, that we reserve the right to set standards by which one may be judged as human and therefore worthwhile. I can think of many instances in the past where people were considered sub-human - with horrendous results.

But suppose one night you you hear a noise in your pitch-black kitchen. Maybe it's a burglar, maybe a rapist or a serial-killer. Maybe there are even people with your that swear it's a serial-killer and others that tell you it's your two-year old. You really don't think it's your child - do you shoot? I wouldn't if there was the chance it could by my toddler.

Soren K

Hi Leah

I think we have basically hit the lakmus test of the abortion issue. You say "Now it's the woman's choice: what's that in your womb, a child or a parasite? Shall the doctor care for this child or treat it as a tumor to be removed?"

Some insist that from the second the egg and sperm meets its a human being and must have all rights granted to humans.

Others disagree. Even pro-lifers disagree on this - which can be seen on the attitude of many pro-lifers against abortion in the case of incest or rape.

If the issue is solely on the humanity of the blastocyte, fetus etc. then how it was conceived should make absolutely no difference!

So my claim is that if you will allow abortion under some circumstances, you must allow it in every .

(If you only allow it when the life of the mother is in danger then this would not hold, only if you look at how the child was conceived)

Now evidence shows that many women, today and throughout history, do not view an unwanted pregnancy as a human deserving full human rights. Besides that the situation is unique, even if we view it as fully human the rights of the product of conception are in clear violation of the womans rights. It is the woman who will be handicapped (in a sense) for the 9 months of pregnancy. Her relationsships might suffer, she might loose her job, and she might get permanent damage as a result of the pregnancy.

My take is very simply this. I acknowledge that some people think of every stage of human development as deserving full human rights, but the issue is by no means settled or simple. Since this issue goes to the core of the rights of what we all acknowledge as human beings, it should be the ones affected by pregnancy that should be given the choice.

/Soren

Leah

Hi, Soren, thanks for your response. I'm really glad that we can take this forum to hear where each of us is coming from - something that's not always easy. I guess what I'd like to say is that whether we talk about pregnancy as a disease or even a biological state or personal situation, we're losing sight of what's right in front of us.

Pregnancy always involves two people. Until recently, doctors understood that when they cared for pregnant women, they always had two patients: the woman and her child. Now it's the woman's choice: what's that in your womb, a child or a parasite? Shall the doctor care for this child or treat it as a tumor to be removed?

I would argue that it is this concept of "choice" in this situation that is the fallacy. Do I have the right to choose what the quadratic equation is? Would an algebra teacher be dismissed as conservative or an ideologue were he/she to disallow me that choice? Then why must we allow pregnant women the right to choose what that is that they are carrying in their wombs?

My heart goes out to pregnant women who face impossible situations. We have a responsibility to them, as we do all vulnerable members of our society. Everyone has a right to be able to secure food, shelter, medical care, and other necessities of life. I believe in freedom, diversity, and tolerance - all rightly understood. I do not believe people should have the freedom to decide whether or not to stop at red lights. I don't think people should have the right to choose to own slaves. And I don't think people should have the right to choose to kill their children, no matter at what stage of development their children are in. Do my views make me intolerant or anti-choice? Would you accuse people who wanted to abolish slavery anti-choice?

I honestly believe that an unborn child is a real person. (That brings us back to the "how are babies made?" question because, of course, people begin as babies.) If someone wanted the right to choose to kill you, I'd be against that, too.

Soren K

Hi Leah

You make a good point, but I disagree.

Regardless of the reason they get pregnant, some women decide during pregnancy that they do not want to go through their pregnancy.

We have a relatively safe and simple procedure to help these women. this is not the "natural" state of affairs, but we cannot make judgements based on what is "natural" this would be a fallacy.

Other women wish to go through their pregnancy - or just do not wish to get an abortion. their choice is different, and some of them might even get a C-section, or get an epidural during birth, even though these things are not "natural" and even though a pregnancy is not a disease.

Different people, different choices.

Now some people want to disallow some choices because they are "unnatural" but want to allow other "unnatural" choices. I think the fairest idea is to allow everyone to make their own choices - dont you?

/Soren

Leah

Responding to Anne et al. regarding sex and the risk of pregnancy: isn't it strange that we're talking about having children as though they were diseases (or referring to them as parasites, as other posters have done)? Have we forgotten that birds and the bees discussion? "How are babies made?" "Well, dear, sometimes when two people are enjoying themselves together, there's this accidental side effect..."

I agree with those posters who have talked about how important the language we use is not only to expressing our points of view but also forming them. We treat pregancy as a disease with several medical treatments available. But pregnancy is not a malfunction (I'm hearing #5 from Short Circuit: "Life is not a malfunction!") - that's how men and women's bodies are supposed to work. Pregnancy is the result of good health!

A line from a homily in one of Garrison Keillor's tales from Lake Woebegone: "If you didn't want to go to Minneapolis, what were you doing on the train?" We have lost track of the fact that sex is how people make babies. Pretty funny, huh?

It's my point of view that as long as our society denies the link between sex and having babies, focusing instead on contraception and abortion as remedies for this disease we call being with child, women won't have the support they need to be able to welcome children into the world. If pregnancy is a disease, then it's her problem and she needs to deal with it. If, on the other hand, we get over our denial, then people who don't want to make babies might think twice before engaging in the "risky behavior" that in healthy people, in certain times during the month, can have that result.

Here's another parallel: would anyone argue that it's a good thing to eat something for the pleasure of eating, to satisfy a craving, and then throw it up? Sure, we have the capability to do it - we have the technique to thwart the natural process of digestion so that the eater need not suffer the natural effects of eating too much cake. But we understand that, even though we get pleasure from eating, it's unhealthy and unnatural to separate that pleasure from the biological function eating serves. That's losing sight of the whole very fundamental reason to eat. But if bulimia were to become widespread and the pharmaceutical companies could figure out how to profit by it, I'm sure that it'd become widely accepted. Guaranteed.

AnnMarie

I had an abortion at 9 weeks. It was a baby. Definitly not a clump of cells. Iv seen the pictures, only too late.

Ol Cranky

Anne:

I have to agree with Soren on this one. When you get in a car and drive somewhere you take risks (the default risks you assign to someone who engages in sexual activity). A responsible person tries to minimize those risks by wearing a seat-belt and driving carefully. If that person's car is hit by another driver and ejected from the car due to a mechanical failure of the seat-belt, did that person really partially culpable to the point they must not try to alter any of the consequences because they took the risk of getting into their car in the first place?

Meepers

Just found this blog. I wanted to thank you for putting yourselves out there to host these sensitive discussions. I agree that women need to talk about their reproductive experiences, regardless of the outcome, so that we can all learn from and have a better understanding of what it means to be "reproductive". I am excited about the link you provided about that new zine and will definitely be checking it out.

Soren K

Hi Anne

You say "When one smokes, they run the risk of developing cancer. So, if one chooses to engage in sexual intercourse, they are by default accepting the risks associated with that action."

Yes and if you develop cancer you might opt to fight the cancer.

If you have intercourse and your contraception fails you might choose emergency contraception or later on abortion, adoption or just having the child.

Either way - you must face your consequences - so I guess we agree on that point

/Soren

Anne Basso

That's a REALLY good argument 'Ol Cranky. I thought about it and came up with my counter. In life there are actions and risks. If one steals a car, one risks being put into jail. When one smokes, they run the risk of developing cancer. So, if one chooses to engage in sexual intercourse, they are by default accepting the risks associated with that action. If they are unwilling to allow themselves to be used as an incubator for a few months, then they have a responsibiltiy to not engage in behavior that carries that risk.

I think my greatest wish, however, is that parents would take greater responsibility for their children. If they would raise them personally, give them the love and care that they need, fill them with the knowledge that they are valuable and worth waiting for, perhaps this would be a tiny issue instead of a huge one.

Ol Cranky

"Hi, 'Ol Cranky, we had a lovely Easter, thank you. Things are getting back to normal in a sense. But in a sense not. I know that doesn't make sense."

Actually, it makes perfect sense.


"The point that I was making, however, was that genetically it is human at conception. But then it gets into what defines personhood? That's such a slippery argument, and one of the reasons that both sides of this issue have trouble coming to an agreement."

Genetically, the germ cells are human but as you point out, the crux of the argument is personhood. My freshman year of college, my philosophy professor assigned specific assignments for our final paper. He made me write a paper justifying abortion with an assumption that "life begins at conception" - it was very odd position for me (I think the basis of my personal argument was that "life" begins at conception and I was a virgin who could not imagine ever being pregnant, let alone consider an abortion). I wish I kept the paper, my arguments were much more cogent then than I'm capable of concentrating enough to make now - I used the argument that you do not have the right to demand the use of another's body (or body part they don't need) even if their risk is minimal and you need their help to survive. I still don't believe that personhood begins at conception or early development, but that didn't stop me from talking to "it" when I was pregnant and trying to decide what to do; it still doesn't stop me from playing with my friend's babies that are due over the next few months staring in fascination at the ultrasound of my nephew to be.

It's very personal/subjective and, since life isn't meant to be easy, there always seems to be a new shade of gray. I think our best bet to make a positive difference and decrease the # of abortions is to decrease the # of unwanted pregnancies (and that a broad prophylactic focus is necessary for that). We will, however, probably always disagree on how to best address late term pregnancies in the face of significant health issues.

Anne Basso

Hi, 'Ol Cranky, we had a lovely Easter, thank you. Things are getting back to normal in a sense. But in a sense not. I know that doesn't make sense. The point that I was making, however, was that genetically it is human at conception. But then it gets into what defines personhood? That's such a slippery argument, and one of the reasons that both sides of this issue have trouble coming to an agreement.

I know that some people consider what I had an abortion. But it just wasn't. At least not in my eyes. It was an induction, for the physical safety of the mother, and for a child who was terminal regardless of gestational age. But I appreciate your argument very much, and of course all of your support.

And to Grace ~ While I wouldn't call a 9 week old fetus a child, I would call it a baby. I think it would be very strange to go around talking about the excitement over my "fetus". Don't you? I hear what you're saying about the magical moment being birth. It's certainly been magical for me. But if you consider a full-term baby being born, aside from a few changes in the cardiovascular system when they take their first breath, not much changes about them when they're born. I don't think they're any less a human just by virtue of being contained in a uterus. Certainly, it's different at 9 weeks gestation. But at 9 weeks there is allready a beating heart and measurable brain waves. You are correct that a mother can and will choose what to do with her own body. But genetically the body of the fetus is not hers, it is totally seperate. Even the placenta is something that it has formed to gain nutrients.

I think people on my side worry about a whole shift in thinking that values life less. I know that everyone that I have met truly has the best interests of the mother at heart. And I hope that my comments are coming across the way I intend them. Honest disagreement, while still respecting you and your motives.

Grace

I'm sorry, but I cannot agree that "9-week-old child" is an acceptable definition for the fetus/embryo/whatever involved in a pregnancy at 9 weeks. I am twenty-six years and five months old, not twenty-seven years and two months; how "old" you are dates from BIRTH, not conception. A 9-week-old child is what my friend's newborn will be in eight weeks, NOT what it was seven and a half months ago. I teach English; this irresponsible and insidious abuse of language pisses me off. We have perfectly good terms for what a baby is called within the womb. I can't remember the exact medical definition of when an embryo becomes a fetus, but that doesn't mean that either an embryo or a fetus is equivalent to a child. Both embryo and fetus have in common that they are contained within the body of an existing human life, the mother, who can determine what to do with her body before, during and after gestation.

"They are the same organism; there is no magic moment that divides one from the other. It's only a matter of age and environment."

There is a "magic moment". It's called BIRTH. It is really an insult to the work and experience and labor of the mother to pretend that there's no difference between the child within her body and the child outside it.

Ol Cranky

"Ol Cranky ~ Hi. :-) I don't think anyone was trying to put forth the "sentient" being thing. I don't think anyone can attest to when an embryo (or at 9 weeks a fetus) becomes sentient. Of course I'm sure your degree has taught you that at 9 weeks gestation the fetus is human, complete genetically, growing, and alive. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong though. ;-)"

Hey Anne, I hope you, Dominic and the kids had a nice Easter and things are starting to get back to a semblance of normalcy for you. My education doesn't lead me to believe an embryo or fetus is a human being, it supports a belief that it is something that has the potential to develop into a human being.

I hate to say this to you, because I know how you were torn about the decision to have an early induction, the definitive bad outcome for your daughter and how you were attacked by other pro-lifers for your decision, but there are many who view an induction at 22 weeks as the equivalent to abortion. The biggest reason I am pro-choice is because I know full well that reasons I consider acceptable to terminate are considered unconscionable by those who call themselves pro-life and that there are reasons I find unconscionable. I could not go to term to deliver a baby that had Patau's, I personally think that is cruel and inhumane and that termination as early as the diagnosis is made is much more humane. I would terminate for anencephaly rather than induce early or go to term. But I would not force someone into a termination or early induction any more than I would prevent them from making the decision to go to term, regardless of my personal opinion. I believe in G-d and know He doesn't make mistakes, but I also know that His reasons for putting us through certain experiences and the lessons we're to learn from them aren't necessarily the ones we think they are. The adage "G-d works in mysterious ways" is quite applicable.

[Naaman, the fact that non-scientists may not be able to tell the difference doesn't support your position; not recognizing that you have CHF or HTN doesn't mean you don't have them; not being able to differentiate between the Olsen twins doesn't make MaryKate Ashley because you could swear it was Ashley you saw. You're interpretation of science as "fact" to support you are right and anyone (scientist or not) who disagrees with you is wrong or cannot understand science as well as you.]

Anne Basso

C ~ I didn't have an abortion. I had an induction. My baby was allowed to be birthed whole into the world. What makes my situation different is that A) My child was terminal, most abortions are elective with perfectly healthy babies involved and B) My health was HUGELY at risk many times more than carrying a healthy baby to term. Still I refused to allow anyone to cut her into pieces. She deserved more.

Ol Cranky ~ Hi. :-) I don't think anyone was trying to put forth the "sentient" being thing. I don't think anyone can attest to when an embryo (or at 9 weeks a fetus) becomes sentient. Of course I'm sure your degree has taught you that at 9 weeks gestation the fetus is human, complete genetically, growing, and alive. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong though. ;-)

Sarah ~ I'm sorry if you have felt attacked for your position or decision. First of all I'd like to say that I have ABSOLUTELY no judgement. I aborted a baby at 11 weeks. I just had no idea how developed my baby was. No matter what I thought about it didn't change what it was. At 9 weeks we can say that your baby was forming into what would actually look like a tiny oddly shaped baby. Here's what "Your Pregnancy Week by Week" says:

"Your baby's arms and legs are longer. Hands are flexed at the wrist and meet over the heart area. They continue to extend in front of the body. Fingers are longer, and the tips are slightly enlarged where touch pads are developing. The feet are approaching the midline of the body and may be long enough to meet in front of the torso. The head is more erect, and the neck is more developed. The eyelids almost cover the eyes. Up to this time, the eyes have been uncovered. External ears are evident and well formed. Your baby now moves its body and limbs. This movement may be seen during an ultrasound exam. The baby looks more recognizable as a human being, although it is still extremely small. It is probably impossible to distinguish a male from a female. External organs (external genitalia) of the male and female appear very similar and will not be distinguishable for another few weeks."

Eyelids, fingers, toes, arms, legs. Hardly undifferentiated cells. When my Sarah was born at just 22 weeks, and even with all of her problems, she was perfectly formed. Eyelids, ears, long fingers, big feet. She was a baby, only very tiny.

Naaman

"I'll give you that a 8 week embryo is recognizably mammalian, but if we lined pictures like this up with no captions how many non-biologists would be able to recognize the human one?"

The ability of non-experts to tell the difference is not really the point. If I showed my mother an IDE hard drive and a SCSI hard drive side-by-side, she wouldn't be able to tell the difference between them. The point is that the experts can recognize a human in all of his/her stages of development, from conception through (and after) death. Sometimes, a visual examination is sufficient; sometimes, more-detailed study is required. That doesn't change the underlying reality of the human being.

My point is about reality. Reality is what it is, regardless of our perceptions or emotions. We can argue about the morality of abortion until the end of time, but the scientific facts about the unborn child are pretty clear and getting clearer all the time.

I also wanted to make a specific point about the 9-week-old fetus/child being "a clump of undifferentiated cells." This statement is absolutely false. Cells begin to differentiate well before the ninth week of gestation.

Naaman

"A '9-week-old child' is an infant 9 weeks after birth. What you refer to is an embryo at 9 weeks gestation."

See, this is another terminology mistake. At 9 weeks' gestation, the embryo becomes a fetus. Anyway, every dictionary definition that I could find for "child" included the possibility of an unborn human being. I use the term to avoid the whole zygote/embryo/fetus confusion, and to emphasize that there is a continuity between the 9-week-old fetus and a clever four-year-old who is happy to show me his new "trick" on our swingset. They are the same organism; there is no magic moment that divides one from the other. It's only a matter of age and environment.

Look up "child" for yourself:
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=child

Ol Cranky

Naaman:

My post-graduate education in genetics and developmental biology direct contradicts your statement that an embryo is living, sentient human being worthy of rights that supercede the body it needs to develop to a point at which it can support it's own most basic physiological needs without direct use of the body of another. It is, at best, a symbiote and at worse a parasite.

If you choose to think of it otherwise, ensure you only procreate with a woman with similar beliefs and that you raise your children in accordance with them (though, that is no guarantee that they will always agree with you and/or live in accordance to your beliefs).

Grace

Naaman,

A "9-week-old child" is an infant 9 weeks after birth. What you refer to is an embryo at 9 weeks gestation. There is a difference.

Sarah

Again, this is all a matter of interpretation. I don't think it's "recognizably human". Compare your link to these

Kangaroo
http://www.thebestlinks.com/images/thumb/f/f4/250px-Joey_in_pouch.jpg
http://www.abc.net.au/nature/island/ep6/img/film/62big.jpg

Here is Dog and Human side by side, I cant tell the difference honestly...
http://www.algonet.se/~tourtel/hovind_seminar/part4a_images/Image146.gif

This one is a cat
http://www.visualsunlimited.com/images/watermarked/369/36944.jpg

I'll give you that a 8 week embryo is recognizably mammalian, but if we lined pictures like this up with no captions how many non-biologists would be able to recognize the human one?

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