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Anti-choicers arguing against me in absentia

Some Christian named Scott Klusendorf responded to my interview on Issues, etc., largely by distorting my position, misunderstanding what I said, and pretending to be a better authority on developmental biology than I am. I’ve copied a quick and sloppy transcript of parts of it from another Christian.

I guess I have to get used to the idea that if you give an interview to Christians, whether it’s the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church or Ray Comfort, they’re going to use it as an opportunity to make an incomprehending hash of whatever you say. (Apparently, they’re milking me hard: they had another 2 hour interview in which a theologian argues against me, but I haven’t bothered to listen.)

Myers: I could imagine a culture where a child doesn’t have the right to life until they are 5-years old

Mod: Myers is an atheist. He believes that standards of conduct are variable depending on what is dominant in a culture. Since cultures vary by time and place, and none is objectively right or wrong, then a 5-year limit for personhood is as valid as any other standard that might evolve. There is no way to judge between cultures against some objective standard

That’s correct. There is no magic objective standard to say when an organism is a person. We rely entirely on cultural perspectives to define when we grant that organism the rights and privileges of a full member of the culture. This does not imply that I personally approve of societies that treat a newborn as expendable, only that it’s clear that there is no objective or scientific boundary. We always rely on an arbitrary definition.

Mod (to Klus): Myers says that the unborn is a “piece of meat”. It’s not a person until well after birth. Do only atheists believe this?

Klus: No others hold them. But what is more interesting is that he just asserts his views, he never argues for them. He says that pro-lifers lie when debating this issue

Yes, anti-choicers lie. I didn’t go into detail on that because it was a short interview, but here’s one plain example: they claim life begins at conception. That’s nonsense no matter how you look at it. There is continuity of life for about 4 billion years; every human life comes from living gametes. The fertilized zygote cannot be legitimately called a “person” — it has none of the attributes of a conscious being, like awareness. As I have said repeatedly, personhood, consciousness, humanity, whatever you want to call it, emerges gradually over the course of development; it is not a magic zap that occurs instantaneously and allows you to say one moment, it’s not alive/human, the next moment it is.

Mod: (to Myers) What is the unborn?

Myers: It’s a piece of tissue that will develop into a human being over time

Mod: (to Myers) What is it 5 minutes before it’s born?

Myers: It’s fetus, it’s not a baby

Klus: The development stages of a human are all stages of development of the same entity, as even Peter Singer and David Boonin admit

Mod: He made a distinction between before birth and after birth

Klus: Yes, and that contradicts what he says later when he says there are no sharp boundaries

No it does not contradict my statements. Development is a continuous process of change. Continuous. A conceptus is different than a 3 month old embry is different from an 8 month fetus is different from a teenager, even if they are the same developing organism. The boundaries we confer on this process are arbitrary.

Klus: Myers is confusing parts with wholes. The skin cells on my hand are part of a larger human being. The embryo is not part of a larger human being, they are a whole human being, directing its own development

Klus: Myers also makes the claim that embryos are constructed piece by piece from the outside. But the science of embryology is clear – the embryo develops itself.

Say what? I have never claimed any such thing. There are autonomous processes in development; in mammals like us, however, there is also an extended dependency on the parent. You can’t say either of those things: embryos are not externally constructed, and they also do not develop entirely on their own.

It’s like these people have a pathological need to slice everything into absolutely rigid boundaries and are incapable of comprehending a gradual process.

Mod (to Myers): Is the unborn a person?

Myers: Personhood develops gradually. A newborn baby is not a person. A baby’s brain is still forming so it’s not a person. There is no specific moment when a baby becomes a person. It is culturally determined. Our society says it’s birth. Some people say viability. Either of those are acceptable to me

Mod: (to Myers): So drawing the line between unborn and born is arbitrary?

Myers: Yes it is

These guys have a really rough time grasping this simple idea. Yes, it’s arbitrary. Different cultures draw the line in different ways. Would it help them to read their Bibles, in which inducing an abortion is not regarded in the same way as committing murder? Even their own religious tradition draws a different line than they do!

Let’s watch their argument get really offensive:

Klus: He is separating human beings into classes: persons and non-persons. This has resulted in injustices, historically speaking. E.g. – with American Indians

Klus: He says that a human being becomes a person when their brain is fully developed, but even teens don’t have fully developed brains

Klus: Look at this scientific evidence from PBS about NIH research which shows that brains still developing in teens and it causes them to make poor decisions

Klus: If development gives us value, then those with more of it have more of a right to life than those with less

Klus: This point was made by Lincoln in his debates about slavery, when he warned his opponent that someone with lighter skin could enslave him

Wait. So if we decide that a blastula is not a fully developed human being, then that can be used to legitimize enslaving black people? Why? Are they making the implication that they are less fully developed than white people? Who is walking around with “more development” than other people?

Look, if you’ve made the cultural decision that newborn babies have a right to live, you’re done: you cannot now say that American Indians or black people or teenagers are lesser than a newborn white baby. There is no difference in the developmental status of different human races. How do these people even make such an argument without realizing the fundamental racism of their assumptions?

Mod (to Myers): How do you decide these life issues?

Myers: We use the notion of “greater good”

Mod (to Myers): that’s a culturally determined notion?

Myers: Yes. The greater good here is that we maximize the security and happiness of most people in the society. Women are persons, so we favor their rights.

Klus: His response begs the question. He is assuming that the unborn are not human persons. He talks about the need for women’s rights. Are unborn women included in those who have rights?

You know, they did this constantly through the show, using this bizarre phrase, “Unborn X”. There are no unborn women. It’s as nonsensical as looking at a tree and saying it is an unbuilt house, or calling a cow an uncooked hamburger. A house is not a tree and a cow is not a meat patty; we give them different names to reflect their very different state.

We should give “unborn women” all the deference and protections we provide for nonexistent women, or imaginary women, or fantasy women, that is, none. Perhaps if these fellows were more respectful of the rights of real women, they wouldn’t be saying these stupid things.

I also have to add another thing to my statements. It’s not just the notion of greater good, but also of empathy. I can see that women and teenagers black people and babies and kids with Down syndrome and other adult men have an inner world, goals and ideas, and I can empathize with them — I no more want harm to come to them than I do to myself. I want to live in a society that defends them, because I want to live in a society that defends me.

An embryo has none of those elements of self-awareness that make it a relatable conscious being. I do not want to live in a society that fetishizes a gastrula over my wife or daughter.

Klus: If cultures decide who is and who is not a person, then he cannot oppose cultures that say that Jews are not persons, or that women are not persons

Klus: He admits that he cannot oppose cultures that think that children of age 5 are not persons, and can be killed

Really? I did? I don’t think so. Hey, look, there’s an example of a “pro-lifer” lying!

I said I could imagine cultures that defer granting personhood until a baby reaches a certain age. That’s actually fairly common; Victorian Europe, for instance, exhibited a marked reticence about the status of newborns, with individuals often waiting a year or more to give them a name, because infant mortality was so high. I can easily imagine a culture that thinks Jews are not persons — I just have to crack a history book.

And I certainly can oppose infant mortality and Nazis. I can recognize that those are symptoms of an unhealthy society that I would not want to live in, and that they do great harm to conscious, living persons.

Mod (to Myers): You call that kind of society “brutal”, why do you say that?

Myers: It’s my personal preference because I like my own kids

Mod (to Klus): Respond to that

Klus: He has no argument, just his own opinion. He cannot oppose any society that things that it is OK to traffic, kill, etc. 5-year-olds

Klus: He says that he has a personal preference. That is an interesting fact about his psychology, but he has no argument

I was not making an argument there. I did not think I had to — I assumed the interviewer and the audience would all share my personal views that kids are good people.

If I’d been asked a little more, like about why I like my kids, I could have gone deeper. My kids were not possessions. They were not things I liked like my iPad or my fluffy pillow — they were people I respected because they had personalities and interests of their own, and one of the things you quickly appreciate (if you’re not a psychopathic quiverful Christian who sees children as tools to deploy) is that they really are thinking, reacting, learning, growing human beings. Again with the empathy! They deserve protection because they do have attributes like autonomy and curiosity and affection and many others that are of human value.

Klus: In an atheistic worldview, human beings at any stage are cosmic accidents

Klus: How do we get any kind of intrinsic value and human rights out of an atheist worldview? I don’t see how you can

At last, something they get right, sort of. You can’t derive intrinsic human rights from an atheist view. There aren’t any. Values and rights are emergent properties of communities of people. Note: that does not say that values and rights don’t exist, it says that they are generated by the interactions of individuals in a group, and not imposed from above.

Klus: Even a woman’s absolute right to an abortion is not grounded by atheism

That’s actually an interesting and complex point. It’s true; atheism in and of itself says nothing about how human beings should treat other human beings. The absence of a caretaker god does not say you couldn’t build a patriarchal atheistic society that held women and other races as chattel. Or a Libertarian atheist society built on Ayn Rand’s hideous values. Or an inward-looking nationalistic and secular society that had no problem with maintaining its security by raining bombs down on every other nation on earth.

Atheism is only the start; it frees you from destructive traditions and throws off the shackles of dogma. The next part is the hard part: you have to think consciously about how you want civilization to operate, and you have to make commitments to other values, like humanism.

Atheism does not tell me women have rights. That I can look at women with eyes unfogged by superstitious nonsense and see that they are my equals tells me that women have rights.

Mod (to Myers): What do you think of the pro-life movement?

Myers: I’m a developmental biologist. The pro-life movement is lying to people. An embryo is not a person. “Personhood implies much more than being a piece of meat with the right number of chromosomes in it”. The primary issue in abortion is women’s autonomy. It is entirely the woman’s decision

Klusendorf: You have to present arguments to prove that pro-lifers are lying. There are pro-abortion scholars who have arguments, he isn’t one. He only has assertions, opinions and preferences.

Klusendorf: What if a woman gets pregnant solely in order to take a drug during pregnancy in order to have a deformed child. Myers has no argument against that

“Pro-lifers” consciously make claims that are false, and yes, I have made arguments against the anti-choice position, many times. That Klusendorf thinks a brief wide-ranging interview contains the entirety of my position is his problem.

As I said at that link,

We don’t have to revere every block of rough marble because another Michaelangelo could come along and sculpt it into something as wonderful as his David; we don’t have to treasure every scrap of canvas because the next Picasso is going to use it for a masterpiece. The value isn’t in the raw materials, but in the pattern, the skill, the art put into it. Similarly, those cells are simply the raw clay that the process and time will sculpt into something that is worth love and care.

Which is more important, the pigments or the painting? Even worse, do you think the pigments are the painting?

And speaking of non-existent arguments, the transcriber cut off a lot of the absurd details Klusendorf made up at the end. He went on at painful length: what if a woman got pregnant just so she could take a drug that made the fetus limbless? What if she refused to give birth by taking drugs that kept the fetus small and held it inside for 70 years?

Yeah, you’re damn right I have no argument against that. Because they’re the bizarre hypotheticals of a bigoted ideologue who’s incapable of recognizing women as conscious moral agents on their own, and is reduced to fighting against nonexistent, imaginary women who do random freakish things during their pregnancy for no reason at all.

But then, I guess that’s what you’d expect of a guy who believes in “unborn women” — no attachment to reality at all.

Comments

  1. dianne says

    Do I believe there is a difference in morality between deliberately infecting an unimmunized child with measles or whooping cough (performing an action) and failing to immunize them (not performing an action)?

    Slight non-sequitor here, but…people do that too. You can buy blankets or lollipops that have been used by a child with chickenpox, rubella, and other diseases to deliberately expose your child to it and provoke “natural” immunity. I hope we all agree that this is icky and dumb, regardless of our position on abortion, but it is, apparently, legal. (Though how sending a frigging biohazard through the mail can possibly be legal, I don’t know…Maybe it’s just selectively ignored.)

  2. says

    Anri

    Do I believe there is a difference in morality between deliberately infecting an unimmunized child with measles or whooping cough (performing an action) and failing to immunize them (not performing an action)?
    Yes, yes I do.
    I believe there is a difference between letting bad things happen and making bad things happen.
    Do you?

    That was not my comparison, but just for the sake of the argument:
    One is assault, the other one playing Russian Roulette.
    As for the child who comes down with measles, the difference is completely irrelevant.
    If you think the moral goal is reduction of harm and increase of wellbeing than one causes just as much harm as the other.
    It’s the fallacy of thinking that choosing not to do something means that there are no consequences. The foresseable consequences of your inaction are morally the same as the forseeable consequences of your actions.

    Ok, I kinda thought I didn’t have to stipulate conscious actions… unless you believe a woman can’t gestate while she’s asleep…
    But, really, I think you knew that distinction already. Why you are attempting to appear as if you didn’t I can’t say.

    Because your “action vs. inaction” stick plays nicely into the “you just have to wait for 9 months what’s the matter” trope. Pregnancy is not “just not doing anything”. It also means consciously doing a lot of things, especially if your goal is that you and the fetus survive it with minimal damage.

  3. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Frowntown the loudmouth

    My comments are directed to those who believe that the bodily rights argument works even *if* the fetus is a person (that is, even if the fetus deserves equal rights to born people.) I’m not particularly interested in discussing (at this moment) why human beings deserve rights. I said as much earlier, but answered just for the record. Sorry.

    Your lack of arguments are directed those who don’t believe in evidenced argument, which we do here. Evidence presented by you: ZERO. You have no arguments, just your inane presuppositions.

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Joshua the godbot

    What piece of data or information do you have of Scott Klusendorf that entitles you to call him “backward and unlearned on the [abortion] topic” (apart from the fact that he must be because he disagrees with you, I mean)?

    The fact that he is at odds with science, law, and even his own babble. He has nothing but presuppositions, just like you. Whereas we have evidence.

  5. Amphiox says

    From diane @501;

    Do I believe there is a difference in morality between deliberately infecting an unimmunized child with measles or whooping cough (performing an action) and failing to immunize them (not performing an action)?

    There are experiments which suggest that human psychology is hardwired to think there is a difference, that there is a difference between actively inflicting harm and failing to prevent the same harm when you know that you can.

    But it remains an open question as to whether or not that is a “real” difference, or if it is just an evolved quirk of human psychology.

  6. dianne says

    But it remains an open question as to whether or not that is a “real” difference, or if it is just an evolved quirk of human psychology.

    I don’t think it is, personally. If you stand aside and don’t make any attempt to push someone off the rail road track when you can clearly see a train coming and about to run them over, you’ve caused their death just as much as if you pushed them on when they were off. The only way the former is any more excusable, IMHO, is that people (along with other mammals) sometimes freeze in emergencies and you may simply have not been capable of making the move. But if the decision to not intervene is made in cold blood (as in, “I’m not going to bother to donate my bone marrow…what’s it to me if some stranger dies of leukemia?” or “I won’t vaccinate my child because I don’t like needles”)…why is it not the same?

  7. Rey Fox says

    Would you like to see a debate between Scott and PZ?

    I asked this to the other bloviator: Why are you so hung up on debate? What is wrong with written back-and-forth, on blogs or otherwise?

  8. alwayscurious says

    @Joshua 499

    As I said in my original post, given the fact that Scott is one of the foremost Christian apologists writing and speaking on the subject of abortion, it seems to me that someone who is going to attack two positions simultaneously — that of Christianity and pro-life — as irrational, illogical, etc. (as PZ Myers has done now) would have been acquainted with their actual arguments and points of view.

    Thanks for the link, but that just reinforces my original search results: he’s published 1 book (2 was what my shopping results turned up) & untold quantities of articles in 3 Christian magazines. And you call him one of the foremost writers on the subject? He may very well be educated & have many things to say on the topic, but he’s not widely published according to Life Training Institute. A brief Google search has only reinforced in my mind that Scott is a godbot, spouting the same tired polemics the pro-life use as bread & butter.

    Your mischaracterization of the reaction of people to Christian missionaries is self-serving, I know. But anyone who reads that accounts of people like Hudson Taylor, Thomas Barclay, and others, they would see that there were so many people open and welcome to advancements and alterations to their cultures and traditions.

    Thanks for the references on the missionaries too. I was not familiar with those individuals and the way you listed things originally made it sound as though all those events had happened all over the place. The biographies make much more clear the specific locations & timelines involved.

  9. says

    As I said in my original post, given the fact that Scott is one of the foremost Christian apologists writing and speaking on the subject of abortion, it seems to me that someone who is going to attack two positions simultaneously — that of Christianity and pro-life — as irrational, illogical, etc. (as PZ Myers has done now) would have been acquainted with their actual arguments and points of view.

    Do you think there is a shortage of white Christian patriarchs, that Scott is one of the few remaining ones? No, you’re mostly knockoffs of each other, and there are dozens of patriarchs – some are much better circulated than this one. You call him ‘foremost’ because you think he sounds smart, not because he’s actually achieved any sort of name recognition. It’s not like with Judy Jarvith Thompson, where people actually crib her arguments (because they’re really very good arguments) without knowing her name.

  10. says

    Are you very familiar with Chinese history? I have to wonder because no-one who read into it from one of the many myriads of voices would come away thinking that the Chinese have, historically, been the type of society that ever, at least in recent memory, been bothered with any sort of genuine altruism.

    Actually, my waifu has, in fact, studied that. Conferring with her, to make sure I remember her lectures to me confirms that there aren’t any bloody grounds to say this whatsoever – at least, not ones that don’t apply to Christians. Genuine altruism is part of being human.

    Your mischaracterization of the reaction of people to Christian missionaries is self-serving, I know. But anyone who reads that accounts of people like Hudson Taylor, Thomas Barclay, and others, they would see that there were so many people open and welcome to advancements and alterations to their cultures and traditions.

    It’s true, and not all voices were against changes for good reasons. But you know, for a guy trying to characterize Christianity as having been progressive on women… they were nowhere near as progressive as, you know, feminists. And I mean the ones in China. In point of fact, they were only less patriarchal (shocker) – the Christians.

    and that’s putting aside that if you want to know who *actually* helped women in China, the people who had serious effects on the bulk of women (rather than sometimes helping some women with specific things), that’d be the Communists and the increasingly secular pseudo-communist YWCA. Yes, I know what that stands for – I also know they were predominantly secular in this era and place. Missionaries were less patriarchal than the current dynasty, but more patriarchal than the people who replaced them. And no, Christians don’t get credit for making the communist party of china more decent than their predecessors.

  11. frowntown says

    Artificial womb research is still ongoing. It hasn’t stopped, and they are making advances. I believe you when you say that a particular research project has halted, but that doesn’t mean that all of them have.

    This is something I feel strongly about. I support artificial womb technology despite some folk’s moral qualms or concerns. That doesn’t mean that I can’t also oppose abortion.

    The same goes for opposition to any negative effect in our society. People can oppose a particular form of cancer, and feel really strongly about it, raising awareness and funds, even if it kills relatively less people than some other form of cancer. One isn’t being hypocritical if they don’t send every penny and spend every ounce of effort on one particular approach to alleviating a problem. Some people are drawn to certain specific causes, some folks to others.

    Consider, too, gun violence. Even though gun violence kills less people than heart disease, people still spend considerable time and energy combatting gun violence. Does that mean that they don’t really care about the people who are being killed? That all they really care about is getting rid of guns? Because if they *really* cared about people dying, they’d *only* support research into defeating heart disease? Of course not o_O

    Since I believe that elective abortion is an injustice that has been codified in law, it makes sense to oppose it for the same reason that people spend time and resources opposing any other injustice that is codified in law (e.g., convicted rapists being granted parental rights… that is a terrible injustice, and one worth throwing money at, even though rape is, itself, an even worst injustice.)

    And thanks again for yet another gratuitous attempt at divining my motives. I was getting frustrated by it at first, but then I remembered that this is just a tactic to try and get people to STFU. At least now I can chuckle it off ;-)

  12. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, nothing of factual citation from Frowntown. Sophistry is not factual (evidential) argument, but rather argument from OPINION. Your opinion on abortion stinks.

  13. dianne says

    Artificial womb research is still ongoing. It hasn’t stopped, and they are making advances.

    References? Pubmed doesn’t list many publications in the area…

    It’s not a really difficult problem, technically. Just not a lot of money going into it. There’s no NIH institute for prevention of miscarriage or artificial gestation of embryos or anything else. In fact, there are no calls for grants on the subject at all. It’s not that more money is being spent on heart disease, but that literally no public money is being spent on the development of an artificial uterus. (In fact, there appear to be no calls on the keyword “miscarriage” either. Or “abortion”, spontaneous or otherwise.) Almost as if it’s not as high a priority to society as, say, treating cancer or heart disease. Or rare diseases of the newborn. Or prevention of gun violence. The “pro-life” lobby does not seem to be working the NIH for funding to try to save the up to 80% of embryos that miscarry. But then you never really believed that an embryo was a person, did you?

  14. Arawhon, a Strawberry Margarita says

    So frowntown really only cares about the fetuses. His rationalizations over protecting the “pwecious babies” is more important than the bodily autonomy and personhood of women. He also doesn’t seem to understand that making abortion illegal will just drive it back into the alleyways and homes, thus we will go back to the time when there were a great many women dying of sepsis from botched self abortions. He wants women to die and to be slaves to fetuses. Fuck you frowntown. You’re just like every shitty man who only thinks of women as things to be used, be they incubators, house cleaners, food makers, and such.

  15. Nightjar says

    frowntown, #494:

    I already discussed (at least a bit) the conditions under which I’d be open to legislation that would force people to violate their bodily autonomy.

    [...]

    if people routinely exposed their children to benzene, thus causing a fatal condition, and this lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands or even a million children per year, then yes, I’d support legislation stating that parents had to care for their children, even if doing so meant a painful procedure, for example, ongoing bone marrow transplants.

    [...]

    P walks up to his daughter, V, and whirls about with a metal tube, because it’s fun and improves his health (perhaps it’s a great new way to exercise.) This metal tube ends up lodged inside both V’s and P’s stomach. Doctors tell P that he will be locally anesthetized so he doesn’t feel horrific pain (but he will feel some intense pain, especially once it’s finally removed), and that they can rebuild V’s tissue if he stays connected for a few months. In the meantime, his daughter V will die if they disconnect them.

    Notice how all the scenarios you come up with in which you would be fine with violating a person’s bodily autonomy involve that person first violating the bodily integrity and autonomy of other already existing persons who were doing just fine on their own, happily living without depending on someone else’s internal organs?

    Notice how having sex that could possibly lead to conception (unlike benzene poisoning and stomach stabbing with metal tubes) does not?

    Right. You see, it’s not like fetuses exist in the aether happily going on about their lives right up until someone with a uterus has a certain type of sex and by doing so entraps a poor fetus-person, causing it to be wholly dependent on that person’s internal organs from that point on. If that happened, you would maybe have a case up there. Maybe*. But pregnant persons aren’t responsible for putting a fetus in a “needy, endangered, and connected” state. Fetuses don’t exist in any other states (unlike children, who can exist in both poisoned/stabbed and non-poisoned/non-stabbed states). At best, they are responsible for generating a fetus, to which they may or may not want to give a chance of getting out of fetus-status by ceding access to their internal organs. This is not a “you were fine and I harmed you, but I can help you being fine again, or not” type of situation. It’s a “you didn’t exist and you won’t ever exist if let on your own, but I can keep on slowly bringing you into existence, or not” situation.

    ___
    *In case you’re wondering: No, I don’t want a state that denies people their bodily autonomy as a form of punishment, as your talk of “being responsible for” and “causing” seems to suggest. “You did bad things so now we will do to your body as we please and you have no say in the matter” is scary as hell. I don’t care how many contrived hypotheticals you come up with: in the real world, it’s dangerous and scary.

  16. alwayscurious says

    People can oppose a particular form of cancer, and feel really strongly about it, raising awareness and funds, even if it kills relatively less people than some other form of cancer. One isn’t being hypocritical if they don’t send every penny and spend every ounce of effort on one particular approach to alleviating a problem.

    Frowntown, this is another fail argument. For three reasons:

    1) Cancer research & reducing gun violence saves people’s lives–this is a public good. Saving unwanted blastocysts? Not a public good.

    2) Cancer research (and reducing gun violence) is a cross-pollinating field. Research efforts spent fighting one type of cancer contribute to fighting other types of cancer. Heck, AZT was originally developed as an anti-cancer drug (got shelved before human use) and it became one of the earliest available HIV treatments. So the benefits of medical research are far reaching beyond the point where funds are actually injected. I can’t think of any similar advantages to anti-abortion legislation–I’ll leave that as an exercise for frowntown.

    3) Cancer research & gun violence produce few negatives. Sure, cancer patients are more expensive than they were 100 years ago and gun owners have to get background checks before buying from a limited selection. But those are minor relative to the benefits. Anti-abortion efforts move hand in hand with many other unsavory efforts such as restricting access to birth control, cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, cutting funding to stem cell research and slashing safety net programs.

  17. alwayscurious says

    “Anti-abortion efforts move hand in hand with many other unsavory efforts such as restricting access to birth control, cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, cutting funding to stem cell research and slashing safety net programs.”

    And this links to you too Joshua: this is another reason Scott is underwhelming. If he were pro-life AND simultaneously engaging on these related fields to say something radical or constructive like “How do we best assist needy mothers whose situations are compromised by the forced addition to their family?” OR
    “We need to aggressively market condoms to high schoolers” OR “We need to think seriously what this means for gene therapy, stem cell research & human cloning” BUT……….none of that as far as the eye can see. Just more empty, undeveloped & unsubstantiated statements.

  18. Anri says

    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-:

    That was not my comparison, but just for the sake of the argument:
    One is assault, the other one playing Russian Roulette.
    As for the child who comes down with measles, the difference is completely irrelevant.
    If you think the moral goal is reduction of harm and increase of wellbeing than one causes just as much harm as the other.
    It’s the fallacy of thinking that choosing not to do something means that there are no consequences. The foresseable consequences of your inaction are morally the same as the forseeable consequences of your actions.

    So, if someone murders someone else at a party, all of the partygoers are murderers since there is no moral difference between their failure to stop the murder and the killer’s pulling the trigger?

    Because your “action vs. inaction” stick plays nicely into the “you just have to wait for 9 months what’s the matter” trope. Pregnancy is not “just not doing anything”. It also means consciously doing a lot of things, especially if your goal is that you and the fetus survive it with minimal damage.

    “…plays nicely into…”, rather than “actually means”, of course, as the latter would not be honest. But ok, let’s continue to pretend you’re too stupid to get what I’m saying (you’re not, but as long as you’re acting that way):
    Pregnancy can be aided and eased by being proactive and conscious of the process. It can also continue without any understanding or conscious decisions. We know this because non-sentient creatures can and do successfully get pregnant and give birth all the time.
    Putting forth effort can be, but need not be, the same as making a conscious choice.

  19. Anri says

    *sigh*

    In rereading what I wrote, I have been unnecessarily insulting and nasty. My apologies, Giliell.

    I assure you I’m not trying to minimize the awesome effort involved in being pregnant, merely drawing a contrast between a process that can occur automatically as opposed to one that is an active intervention.
    What I wrote could be construed to mean the former rather than the latter, and I apologize for that, and for assuming malice in your reading of it that way.

  20. says

    It’s just that, every time someone paints pregnancy as an unconscious process, they’re erasing the fact that women CAN now choose to NOT BE PREGNANT. The fact that you have to make an appointment to be not-pregnant anymore doesn’t change the fact that choosing to remain pregnant is choosing to commit to a LOT more effort than becoming not-pregnant entails.

  21. kittehserf says

    Nightjar @516:

    Right. You see, it’s not like fetuses exist in the aether happily going on about their lives right up until someone with a uterus has a certain type of sex and by doing so entraps a poor fetus-person, causing it to be wholly dependent on that person’s internal organs from that point on. If that happened, you would maybe have a case up there. Maybe*.

    Even if that situation could exist, who’s to say the ethereal fetii wouldn’t look on the harm as being sucked into someone’s uterus and maybe forced into an earthly life? They might be relieved to be freed early.

  22. Anri says

    SallyStrange:

    It’s just that, every time someone paints pregnancy as an unconscious process, they’re erasing the fact that women CAN now choose to NOT BE PREGNANT. The fact that you have to make an appointment to be not-pregnant anymore doesn’t change the fact that choosing to remain pregnant is choosing to commit to a LOT more effort than becoming not-pregnant entails.

    But the point has often been made that consenting to sex is not the same thing as consenting to be pregnant – that’s the argument that deflates the whole ‘take responsibility/punishment for your sinful actions’ the pro-lifers like to trot out. Therefore, saying that becoming pregnant is necessarily a conscious decision simply isn’t true. Likewise, it is possible to continue to be pregnant without any conscious effort on the part of the pregnant person.

    It is, of course, possible to accidentally lose a pregnancy – it happens frequently, often tragically. But choosing to end a pregnancy is a conscious act, by definition. Remaining pregnant, with all of the difficulties, risks and effort that entails, does not have to be a conscious decision. It can be, and often is, and certainly (in this will-never-be-pregnant person’s perhaps unwarranted opinion) should be, but need not be.

  23. says

    Remaining pregnant, with all of the difficulties, risks and effort that entails, does not have to be a conscious decision.

    It’s really unnecessary to point this out, especially not to fertile uterus-having-people, especially in an atmosphere where there are LOTS of people who would like for it to NEVER be a conscious decision. Remaining pregnant SHOULD always be a conscious decision. The fact that it isn’t always is a problem. Nobody here is under any illusions about the degree of conscious control we have over the actual process of gestation. You’re really not helping.

  24. Anri says

    SallyStrange:

    It’s really unnecessary to point this out, especially not to fertile uterus-having-people, especially in an atmosphere where there are LOTS of people who would like for it to NEVER be a conscious decision.

    And yet, that distinction did have to be made, apparently. I had taken it for granted that people knew this, but conflation still occurred.

    Remaining pregnant SHOULD always be a conscious decision. The fact that it isn’t always is a problem.

    I agree, and said so, explicitly.

    Nobody here is under any illusions about the degree of conscious control we have over the actual process of gestation.

    But some people were willing to conflate it with actively making a conscious chose. I thought they were wrong, and said so.

    You’re really not helping.

    I will take your word for this and shut up about it.

  25. salg13 says

    I just listened to this interview last night. Thank you for representing atheism so lucidly and thoughtfully. Sometimes in this medium I hear other atheists say things that make me cringe and I felt that you avoided having those types of moments well.