Thursday, September 4, 2008

McCain/Palin Would Remove Abortion Rights for Women

Over at Hullabaloo, Tristero has posted an article entitled "Teen Marriages," which cites the New York Times at some length. Their point is that teen marriages don't fare very well statistically. The chances of ending in divorce, and often very quickly, are much higher for teenagers than for older folks who get married. I don't think we needed the NY Times to tell us that. It sounds like common sense to me.

The real problem as Tristero explains it is if the Republicans have their way and Roe is overturned, it's the poor and underprivileged who will suffer.

Wealthy, well-connected families will always have access to safe reproductive choices including accurate information, effective contraception, and several abortion choices. If McCain is elected, the poor and lower middle class will not.

Wealthy, well-connected families will always have ways to support a child who becomes pregnant and chooses to take the pregnancy the term. The poor and lower middle class often do not. A vote to continue the repellent ideology of Bushism, a vote cast for McCain to extend the hateful policies of the current administration is a vote to repeal Roe and eviscerate necessary social services. A vote for McCain is a vote to continue the class war against the poor and blue collar workers.

Now, I'm certainly no one to argue with Tristero, who is one of the experts I go to for information and analysis. But, although I always find this argument compelling, I don't think it's the best reason. The fact that lower and middle class women will suffer while the upper class will not, many of whom are among the McCain/Palin and Christian Right throngs, is not the primary reason to safeguard women's rights to reproductive services. The primary reason is because it's a basic human right. If women are free citizens of the Republic, with all the attendant rights and privileges, then no one should tell them what they can or cannot do with their own bodies, not a husband, a father, a minister or certainly not the State.

This argument is not unlike the one we often have about capital punishment. It is discriminatory. A disproportionate number of blacks and poor are put to death. But that's not the reason to abolish it. The reason to abolish it is because it's morally unacceptable in a civilized society to do state sanctioned killings.

I'm pro-choice for women and anti-capital punishment for everyone.

What about you? What do you think?


  1. at the risk of sounding like an AOL user, i agree with your conclusion.

    also, i'm having serious trouble leaving comments on blogger posts; the captcha image seldom loads for me. so, it's not that i've not wanted to argue with your more right-wing commenters, it's that i've been largely unable to.

  2. They've been talking about this shit since Roe v. Wade. Nothing has changed since then, I call fear-mongering.

    Better yet, we have this neat-o 3 branches of Govenment (you know the ones that people ignore so they can rag on the political opposition)

    So even if they DID get some political traction on this issue (Which I honestly can't picture in this day and age) They'd have to get congress to aprove of it too, and it could be challenged in the supreme court.

    I really can't get to excited about the issue. For above reasons, and for the fact that I'm pro-choice (Because prohibitions do nothing but generate crime and troubles.....kinda like what I've been saying on the gun issue, and drugs issue too!)

    But I personally view abortion as infanticide, plain and simple.

  3. Nomen, I'll try to remove that requirement for commenting. Supposedly it's to filter spam, but we'll see what happens. Because, let's face it, I need all the help I can get with these guys.

  4. Same and same.

    Pro-choice and anti-capital punishment. Some people see that as hypocrisy because if I'm against the government killing people why wouldn't I be against unborn babies being killed? It's a fine line.

    I'm pro-choice because I think there are exceptions to every rule. I'm horrified by women who use abortion as form of birth control, but I wouldn't want to outlaw it for other reasons. And like weer'd beard said, prohibitions can sometimes suck.

    Except for gun control, of course. :)

  5. "nothing has changed since Roe"?

    try reading some feminist blogs for a while, weerd. i'm not a feminist myself (they don't let us males into their treehouse) and i don't exactly want to be, but they're usually very on the ball about this. there are tons more stuff written on this subject than will fit in any single comment box; go read the back archives of feministe, amptoons, or even shakesville (although they tend to be wackaloon crazy at shakesville, they do have points) to catch up.

    heck, just the "partial birth abortion" insanity alone could fill volumes, the amounts of lies and misogyny that went into that scam. the repeated state- and local-level harrassment of anything even vaguely connected with the "a" word, it's shameful. the way Planned Parenthood keeps catching nonsensical flack for providing basic health care to women who can't afford to pay for it, it's... well, it goes on like this. and on and ON...

    the most recent debacle, Bush's secretary of health and human services trying to rewrite HHS internal rules in ways that would reclassify the birth control pill as "abortion", has been written about all over the damn blogosphere. that might still actually happen, it's not at all certain anybody will manage to stop it yet.

    oh, and saying congress or the SCOTUS will stop it even if the executive tries to push it through? are you listening to yourself? that's basically arguing that voting somebody with bugfuck crazy political agendas into office is just peachy, because somebody else will surely be sane enough to not let them get away with anything too damaging.

    who, and why, weerd? the SCOTUS is damn near packed with bugfuck crazy extremists already, and one of the main arguments GOP shills use to get out the vote is that another GOP administration will be able to put it over the edge. congress has got fuck-all done, because there's still enough republicans in there to play the obstructionist game and filibuster the dems from passing any bills that would actually change anything. who, in that kind of government, would play the sane and sensible savior and put their careers on the line to keep the bugfuck nuts folks from ramming their extremist bills through?

    (yeah, i said bugfuck crazy extremists on the SCOTUS. scalia's barely effing human. he may have reached the correct decision in Heller, but his arguments for it were execrable, and it's still only one decision out of a long career of dangerous legal extremism. alito's just as bad if not worse. we do not want another GOP administration to put up even more like those two. they would, too; 'twas republicans who had the insane gall to nominate Miers and Bork, and thank heavens we managed to stop THOSE two!)

    b.e. earl... i keep hearing about these horrible, awful women who use abortion as birth control, but nobody ever names any of their names. do they actually exist?

  6. Mike,

    First, a point about this comment:

    is not the primary reason to safeguard women's rights to reproductive services.

    No one has a right to another person's services. To say so makes the person providing that service a slave. It may be more accurate to say women have a right to reproductive choices, wouldn't you agree?

    The primary reason is because it's a basic human right.

    So, your argument is that as long as a embryo/fetus/child is within the mother's body, the mother has a state sanctioned right to murder it?
    What about the father's rights? A consensual act (not rape, incest, etc)that results in a pregnancy requires to people, but in this scenario the father has absolutely no rights. The father does have responsibilities to the embryo/fetus/child. Does the mother have any responsibility to the father?

    What responsibility does the mother have to society? What message does killing an embryo/fetus/child send? Shouldn't we as a society say we are beyond killing the innocent?

    I'll be honest and admit I don't know the answers.

  7. bob, you're either being deliberately obtuse or unforgivably ignorant, i can't tell which. either way, correct yourself.

    "rights to reproductive services" refers to the right to access reproductive healthcare, ob/gyn services, birth control, and --- yes --- abortion. it doesn't mean any "right" to steal services or enslave people, it means the right to go to a doctor and get the services needed in return for payment.

    it means the right to have such services available without having to jump through unreasonable bureaucratic hoops or overcome unreasonable logistical hurdles. if you don't know this use of the terminology, then you don't have enough background in this debate to usefully participate and would be better served to sit back and listen.

    similarly, the mere fact that an embryo/fetus is located parasitically within a woman's body should not give it any claim on the use of that woman's biology, organs, or health. she should have the right to evict such an entity. once it develops into something we could realistically call a "child", matters do get a lot more complicated; this is why abortions should be performed as early on as possible.

    exactly where you draw this line is part of the neverending debate, and if you wish to participate the best thing you could do is to be very explicit about where you wish it drawn and why you'd rather have it there as opposed to anywhere else.

    myself, i draw the line at fetal viability. if it can survive outside the womb, it's a child; before then, it's not. i put it there because an ability to survive as an independent individual, at least potentially or in principle, is important to my definition of a "person". if it has to live as a parasite on somebody else's body, it's not a person. (see also Thomson's "famous violinist" hypothetical, with which i agree.)

    you could read the Roe decision as one big attempt to translate that whole debate into legal terms. if you do, i think it really comes out as a pretty darn good compromise; it's one of the better modern SCOTUS rulings, for what it is.

    father's rights? he's got the right to wear a condom. his rights are considerably lesser than the woman's because the risks he runs and the responsibilities he's forced to shoulder are so much lesser than the risks and responsibilities of both pregnancy and delivery. biology itself places a disproportionate burden on the woman, so it is both fitting and necessary that we give her disproportionate legal rights and powers with which to handle that imbalance of biology. life's not fair, fathers get to just deal with it.

    "killing the innocent" is a buzzword that comes with a great deal of unspoken baggage. animals are pretty much by definition innocent, yet nobody much objects to us killing the innocent calves to make veal for our tables. what you mean is we shouldn't be killing innocent people, and i agree with that --- i just don't think embryos and fetuses count as "people", that is to say, legal persons. even more to the point, i don't think they count more than their mothers do --- the women involved have rights also, to include the right to not be (or not remain) pregnant if they do not wish it.

  8. Nomen,

    I chose my wording very carefully to reflect what Mike said. Read it again. I also agreed that if we meant reproductive rights, I could support that.

    It may be more accurate to say women have a right to reproductive choices, wouldn't you agree?

    Unfortunately, there are too many people in this world who do feel they have a right to "services". Services they shouldn't have to pay for. People forget the flip side of rights are responsibilities.

    the mere fact that an embryo/fetus is located parasitically within a woman's body should not give it any claim on the use of that woman's biology, organs, or health. she should have the right to evict such an entity

    I would inclined to support this position if it was a result of circumstances beyond the control of the person. It's not a parasite, its the consequence of a decision, act, or yes, even a failure of a birth control method. The consequences of an action or decision are not always the ones we would choose. To treat the embryo/fetus/child as only disease or infection weakens society. I am not saying a woman doesn't have a right to choose, but that choice should be made in the consideration of taking a life, not removing a "parasite".

    I'm going to have to study the "famous violinist" issue in greater detail, but consider that no action of the person hooked up cause the condition of the violinist. That is a key difference in my mind. There is a direct action on the part of a woman considering abortion that resulted in the embryo/fetus/child's condition. Does that make a difference?

    I'm not arguing that father's burden is the same as the mother's just that it also needs to be considered in the discussion.

    As far as the "killing the innocent" that was deliberate. I wanted to highlight the difference between abortion and the death penalty. I'm not sure where I would draw the line. I think viability may be the only acceptable definition but that creates problems of its own.

    Surely as a society, if we can keep the "guilty" alive for their natural life, shouldn't we be able to keep the "innocent" alive? Find homes for them if the mothers don't want to keep the child, etc. I recognize that if a pregnancy endangers the life of a mother, that is a different situation.

    But if we decide as a society that killing people is wrong(death penalty), isn't it wrong at any time?

  9. To treat the embryo/fetus/child as only disease or infection weakens society.


    consider that no action of the person hooked up cause the condition of the violinist. That is a key difference in my mind.

    have you ever heard a pro-choice person say anti-choicers believe pregnancy should be a punishment for women choosing to have sex? your sort of thinking there, and elsewhere in your comment, is why they read you that way. frankly, it's hard to read that sort of thinking any other way.

    killing people is wrong, all the time. but fetuses are not people. demanding that real people --- even if they are women --- take considerable risks, and give up considerable time, health, energy, opportunity, and money, for the sake of something that is not a person, is unreasonable.

  10. Nomen,

    I think that it weakens society by lowering the value of life. When we treat the potential of life, the actuality of a child as nothing more then a disease, it gets easier for people to see other children as being of no worth. I wonder if there has been an increase in violence against children, shaken baby syndrome and other forms of child abuse that can be correlated with causation to increase in abortion.
    What I mean, is does our willingness to end the most helpless of lives lead us to demeaning all life?

    have you ever heard a pro-choice person say anti-choicers believe pregnancy should be a punishment for women choosing to have sex

    I have heard it and don't agree with it. It is not a punishment and shouldn't be viewed as that way. It can be a consequence of having sex and that is how I view it

    demanding that real people --- even if they are women --- take considerable risks, and give up considerable time, health, energy, opportunity, and money, for the sake of something that is not a person, is unreasonable.

    Is it unreasonable to ask people to accept the consequences of their actions?
    If I enter into a risky activity knowing the I could possibly be injured doing it, don't I accept the risk? Perhaps part of the issue is we've gotten so focused on our rights, our pleasures, our freedoms that we forget or minimize the consequences.

    fetuses are not people.
    I've stated before I'm not sure where the transition is from fetus to people. But it happens. I could could convince, through persuasion, everyone in the world to give up abortion, I would. I would never though consider forcing my view on someone else.

  11. talking about the "value of life" in the abstract is meaningless, because there are all kinds of life we do not value. you mean to say "the value of living human persons", at which point we're back to drawing lines between persons and non-persons again, as we will see at the end of this comment.

    valuing the mere potential of life --- or personhood, whichever --- is silly. you could easily say i give that a potential value, but not any real, actual value. moreover, such very abstract talk might make us lose sight of what the real, actual consequences would be if the current legal situation were to change. we're really talking about making certain specific medical procedures illegal, and sending the people who have them performed on themselves to jail for it. now, maybe sentencing J. Random Female to X years in the pen for having had an abortion would somehow increase the abstract value society places on generalized babies, but i don't see the connection.

    asking that people deal with consequences that could be easily, safely, and cheaply avoided, without allowing them to so avoid them, is indeed unreasonable. we don't ban seat belts and demand that drivers just "deal with the consequences" of being in a car crash, when they could have easily chosen to not ride a car that day, or at all. "accepting the risks" and outlawing the means of coping with the risks are two different things.'s deliciously ironic, by the way, to hear a pro-gunner use the rhetoric of the anti-gun camp. could we not quit focusing on our right to keep and bear arms, our pleasure in target shooting, our freedom to keep whatever property we wish, and instead minimize the consequences of an armed populace by banning firearms?...

    it's true enough that there's a transition between "fetus" and "person", and it's also true that there is no real bright line between the two either; there's a continuous grey zone of development between them. yet clearly the transition does occur, because it's not workable nor reasonable to claim zygotes have a right to life, yet a newborn just as surely does. so, for the purposes of law, we must draw an arbitrary line somewhere in that grey zone. Roe v. Wade tries mightily, with its language about trimesters and so on; i mentioned i think it a good attempt. i personally do it at the point of viability, which you might notice is not all that bright a line in itself; it's not a perfect spot to draw it, but no spot is perfect.

  12. I already wrote this before so I'm going to plagiarize myself here:

    If, by some MIRACLE, Roe v. Wade was overturned, I'd think it would be better both for abortion proponents and those against. There needs to be some sort of statutory definition of when life begins, not this weird mish-mash of laws we have right now where a woman who mismanages her body somehow (drugs, alcohol, diet, etc) and damages her fetus/child can be criminally charged with the harm of another (her fetus), yet it's OK to abort the fetus.

    My personal views are that, barring strong medical reasons and rapes, abortions shouldn't be almost recommended as a way to solve the result of improper behavior if one isn't want to have a child. There are plenty of effective forms of contraception available. As a friend said on a related behavioral topic when asked how he managed to quit over-drinking without AA, he said "I stopped spending all day pouring alcohol in my mouth." If a person wants to have reckless sex but not be responsible for the outcome, be it babies or fatal STDS, maybe the problem is personal behavior, not whether or not abortion should be legal or not?

    Either way, Roe v. Wade is horrible case law. Right to privacy doesn't protect me from murdering my neighbor in my kitchen. Since a fetus is often adjudicated to be a human in charging pregnant women/mothers with chemical related sins, why does that "Right To Privacy" not apply there as well?

    I'm disinclined towards abortion and pro-death penalty. People have said they think think that it's untenable to hold both of these views at the same time, but it makes perfect logic to me. Give the fetus a chance and if it turns out to be a sociopath monster, go get a rope or needle or what have you. I'm in favor of lifetime retro-active abortion if the person has proven him/herself to be a permanent danger to others in a free society. In the womb, well, it's too early to judge if you've got a Patriot or a Psychopath.

  13. You make a good point, one I agree with. My point is that making reproductive choice illegal (and it is the goal of the anti-sex crowd to do exactly that) exacts a disproportionate burden of suffering on those least able to pay. Yes, it is a basic human right. Supporting reproductive choice also indicates basic human compassion.

  14. Wow, what a great debate here. Seriously Mike, your blog ROCKS!

    Nomen, I gotta love your cranky angle, you and Thomas make great political bookends : ]

    Ok lets get down to it: I do actully read feminist blogs, and shakesville is one of my faves.

    Overall I understand that Roe v. Wade is under THREAT, but its been under Threat for decades now with no change to the leagle structure....if not grants to the permissive side (not like you could get an abortion at 16 without a parrent or guardian having to give consent a few decades ago)

    As for women using abortion as birth control...its a little bit of a skewed term. I know several women who have aborted pregnancies, and I know of through friends experiences several more. All of them were terminating unwanted pregnancies due to unprotected sex.

    I don't chastise their behavior, as I was of the pointy-headed type that decided I was going to abstain from all of that (Odly I recived standard sex education from both school and parents, it was a value I came across on my own)

    Of course I see abstinance the same way I see non-violence (almost) in that you can practice it all you want, but for god sake don't go out without protection. I speak from experience, my first sexual encounter was unprotected and unplanned, and I'm damn lucky the only conciquence from that was me feeling like a damn fool for not protecting myself.

    The Famous Violinist analogy is somewhat a flawed one, as it involves a person being taken against their will....that would work for a violent rape pregnancy (of which I infer from all my research is fairly uncommon). If I had to analogise, I would add not an intruding mob that does the connecting, but the signing of a contract with a clause "in event of illness".

    We all know where babies come from, and I'd be hard pressed to find anybody in the general population that can't name a few good methods to keep them FROM happening. (Hell all the people I know who have had unplanned pregnancies KNEW how not to get pregnant, they didn't didn't bother to impliment it....note that I used a gender neutral pronoun there. This is BOTH man and woman's job)

    Of course I'm going on and on how I don't like abortion....but its not like we can ever put that genie back in the bottle. The younger the infant/featus, the easier it is to kill, and concealing an abortion is easy enugh that it knows no socio-economic boundries. Ban it, and it just goes underground where heath standards can't be regulated, and data can't be collected.

    Finally Thomas' point about where life begins is a good one. You can say "When the baby can survive without the mother" I was born severl months early. Back then I was touch-and-go for a month or so. Definetly nearly died a few times. Today a baby of my size has almost the same chance of survival as a full term. They keep saving smaller and smaller babies, eventually they'll perfect invitro BIRTH, then what?

    Also we need to understand the cultural aspect of it. If a Pregnant woman is killed in a car accident, why is it the news agencies and people retelling the story never leave out that detail?

    They may leave out the race of the woman, or the age (Unless she's really young or really old) or the type of car. but never the pregnancy.

    We all feel in that instance two lives were snuffed out rather than one.

  15. well, weerd, a few decades ago you couldn't legally get an abortion at all in most of this country... i have to assume the abortions you could get back then wouldn't have been too concerned with parental consent.

    as for "when life begins", that's another meaningless thing to say. life began about three thousand million years ago, and has been replicating ever since. eggs and sperm are both alive, after all... it still always comes down to when personhood begins, and that's a much less obvious question!

    and you're right, my own line in the sand at viability does mean my position is going to keep shifting as medical technology and skills improve. i accept that. once in vitro gestation and birth is perfected, i'll be campaigning and arguing for making that sort of technology economically accessible for at least the vast majority of the people, not just the ultra-rich; and once we have that, i'll be fully on board with banning abortion. i don't expect to live to see that day, but i would be ecstatically happy if i were to be proven wrong about that.

    the cultural thing... i could argue that, what with birth control (and abortion, though to a much lesser extent) being so widely available, it's reasonably safe to assume a woman who's pregnant wants to be. so assuming the double tragedy is usually a good bet. if the clock was turned back to pre-Griswold days, so birth control was banned (and don't you think there aren't plenty of lunatics who'd love to try that!) then that assumption would no longer be a safe one. i wonder if the culture would change, and if so, how quickly. i'm betting the usual conservative suspects would fight any such change tooth and nail.

  16. "once in vitro gestation and birth is perfected, i'll be campaigning and arguing for making that sort of technology economically accessible for at least the vast majority of the people, not just the ultra-rich; and once we have that, i'll be fully on board with banning abortion."

    Heh, I think we can all agree on that....well unless you raise my taxes to pay off the sexual mistakes of others..... ; ] I jest.

    I'm sure adoptive family would be more than willing to defur some of the cost anyway.

  17. by way of last comment, a reference to somebody who said it far better than i ever will:

    reproductive rights are for women who choose not to abort, also.