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Don’t tell people how to feel about abortion

Stephanie Zvan quotes Massimo Pigliucci:

To decide to get an abortion is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step, precisely because it has significant ethical consequences.

Why? Philosopher, examine your assumptions.

There is no particular reason abortion should be difficult; it’s certainly less fraught than pregnancy. I could see saying that getting pregnant ought to be a difficult and emotional step — lots of commitment and responsibility involved — and that if you’ve made that decision, ending a wanted pregnancy is rightly a very difficult step. But one you don’t want? That is going to be an obstacle to living your life well? That ought to be an easy decision, except, of course, for the weight of tradition and guilt artificially imposed on us.

So don’t try to dictate how women ought to feel about abortion. The hysterics lining the walkways in front of family planning clinics, waving their bloody signs, are not representative. The patients can be casual and unconcerned as is possible for a simple outpatient procedure. Or they can be distraught and hesitant. Those are their feelings.

And what, exactly, are the significant ethical consequences? I missed that one, too.

By a conservative estimate, 40% of conceptions end in spontaneous abortions. Should we feel concerned? Is this something to ponder as a crime against humanity? What kind of moral compromise must a woman commit in order to be rid of an undesirable pregnancy? Should we be discouraging women from getting abortions, or telling them to be ashamed for their ethical lapse?

Man, that one sentence sure contains a lot of presumption that needs to be unpacked. Maybe we need a philosopher to puzzle it all out.

Comments

  1. ChasCPeterson says

    Philosopher, examine your assumptions.

    As far as I can tell, the only assumption is that ethical issues are raised whenever something gets killed.
    Ethical issues are not raised by failure to implant any more than ethical issues are raised by somebody getting struck by lightning.
    Ethical issues are raised by somebody killing a puppy with a brick.
    To some people, abortion seems more like somebpdy killing a puppy than somebody getting hit by lightning.
    You can discount that attitude as based on ‘feelings’, but so is its opposite.

    Dr. Dr. Dr. Pigliucci is explicit that he thinks that “logical, science-based, and rational arguments against abortion [are] ultimately unconvincing, or countered by better arguments”.

    Yeah, he prescribes correct feellings, with use of “ought”. If that’s your beef, than OK. He shouldn’t tell women how to feel.
    (Nobody reading this has any problem prescribing correct feelings about other issues, though. Puppy-bricking, e.g.)

  2. anteprepro says

    Well it looks Chas is already at it. Great. A guarantee that this is going to turn into yet another ugly thread. I hope the handwringing was worth it.

  3. Amphiox says

    Chas, your number is true only for a particular definition of the word “like” which you have chosen to use because you feel like it.

    In many aspects a teratoma is more like a fetus than a fetus is like an adult human.

  4. says

    To decide to get an abortion is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step: that is an assumption. He doesn’t have any evidence for it. There isn’t even a logical reason why that should be true.

  5. says

    Is the decision to not harvest a kidney from a randomly selected healthy person to give to somebody with terminal kidney failure always a difficult and emotional decision? It is killing somebody, after all.

  6. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    By a conservative estimate, 40% of conceptions end in spontaneous abortions. Should we feel concerned? Is this something to ponder as a crime against humanity?

    That to me says either god is tried and found guilty with every miscarriage, or abortion on demand is ignored by all concerned. Let’s be consistent, with god as guilty as any woman…..

  7. frog says

    I expect most women would at least feel emotional and nervous because an abortion is a medical procedure, and like most medical procedures, there are some risks.

    Fewer risks than pregnancy, of course.

  8. vaiyt says

    Wow, Chas, you could wait until the stink from your last turd came away before dropping more turds.

  9. Graculus says

    the only assumption is that ethical issues are raised whenever something gets killed.

    how much ethical consideration do you take over killing a lettuce?

  10. vaiyt says

    Ethical issues are raised by somebody killing a puppy with a brick.

    Is said puppy inside another person, using their organs to survive? Do we force people to put their life on the line for puppies now? Are you going to stop being a dishonest shitstain?

    By all means rattle on about your precious freeze peach and handwave logical arguments in favor of forced incubation, Chas. It’s all you have.

  11. echidna says

    (Nobody reading this has any problem prescribing correct feelings about other issues, though. Puppy-bricking, e.g.)

    It’s not so clear cut.

    Fly swatting?
    Fishing to eat?
    Fishing to remove invasive species?

    Killing possums in Australia (where they are native)?
    Killing possums in New Zealand (where they are a pest)?

  12. Muz says

    Chas does have a valid point in there. We do direct one another ethically all the time, from a variety of philosophical bases. Just because if you do a historic accountancy of guilt and shame surrounding abortion it has been heaped on women to absurdity, correcting that would not in itself remove the act from moral quandary status. That would require further philosophising.

    I think even in an ideal scenario too much of our lives and cultures is centred upon reproduction for it to be ever free of emotional conflict. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing. As sentimental creatures we do assign emotional and ethical responses to possibilities that hinge on specific choices (even though they based on poor information and reasoning a lot of the time). Even though the whole ‘potential humans’ and rights at conception argument is a morass of crap I don’t see that conflict going anywhere. The best to be done is reduce it to an individual level.

    What we need to ask Pigliucci is how general he is being. Is he saying that women who don’t feel conflicted are in some way reprehensible? That would be taking it too far, for sure.

  13. screechymonkey says

    Ahh, women. Y’all can never express emotion at the appropriate Dudebro-approved times.

    “Hi! Let’s discuss whether or not you have the right to control your own body! Wait, are you angry? You’re so emotional. What’s wrong with you?”

    “What? You’ve made a rational, calm decision to exercise a right that I claim to fully support? Geez, why so logical? Let’s see some tears! What’s wrong with you?”

  14. atheistblog says

    There is no presumption behind that sentence. Its direct proclamation that somehow abortion must be considered as immoral or unethical. I say BS. Why it should be ? Every bite of meat you eat out to be difficult and emotional step, have you ever felt that way while you gobbling those meat ? I did, so I quit eating meat, so can I force all the meat gobbling humans to feel ashamed that they are unethical and immoral creatures ? What a moronic claim ?
    If my parents decided to abort me, if my mother took that decision, well I wouldn’t be here replying to these nonsense, so what ? I love learning science, enjoying arts, cherishing adventurous sports, would I have had chance to enjoy those if I was aborted. No So what ? Because I am privileged to feel so makes abortion unethical ? All these I can say only after I lived such nice life, otherwise I wouldn’t even think about those, I wouldn’t even know any of those, did the Universe evolve for me ? Am I any different than billions born and died before ? Am I any special than all those tortured and butchered animals ?
    It is just like humans thinking this Universe is made for humans, evolution occurs to create humans.
    Nope. Who was I before I was born, how did I feel before I was born, if I was aborted would I have been any different ?
    Abortion is a fundamental human right. Abortion is not like bunch of people decided to kill another self consciousness life. In this country when compared to the rest of the world, slaughtering self conscious humans through capital punishment, that’s not an issue need a reconsideration, but somehow a human who decided to abort a fetus which has no self consciousness or does feel anything, any suffering out to feel ashamed ?
    Grow up people.
    Abortion is an ethical and moral decision.

  15. atheistblog says

    To some people, abortion seems more like somebpdy killing a puppy than somebody getting hit by lightning.
    You can discount that attitude as based on ‘feelings’, but so is its opposite.

    Nope, its not ‘feelings’, it is culturally, particularly christian culture, manufactured ‘feelings’. The rest of the contemporary world doesn’t have ‘feelings’ ? Somehow how convenient it is to think that way ? Empty arrogance of christian culture. Being grow up in christian culture is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step, precisely because it has significant unethical consequences.
    Or in short, if you grow up in christian culture you should be ashamed. How that feels for a change ?
    Outraged ? BS

  16. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    oh, in b4 ‘a fetus is like a tumor’.
    It’s really not.

    Anyone else remember Caledonian?

    Just sayin’.

  17. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @1 Chas

    He shouldn’t tell women how to feel.
    (Nobody reading this has any problem prescribing correct feelings about other issues, though. Puppy-bricking, e.g.)

    Bullshit. Pure, unadulterated bullshit. Anybody telling another person to feel about events happening to them and to their body would take some shit here. There’s a difference between telling someone they’re wrong about certain facts and telling someone how to feel. But then expecting you to not be a disingenuous, sloppy thinking asshat is generally an exercise in futility.

  18. screechymonkey says

    I nominate Chas as a volunteer to host the world’s tapeworms.

    Well really, anyone who eats meat has implicitly consented to be a permanent host to tapeworms, right? I mean, they know that it’s a possible consequence, so no matter how careful they are and what precautions they take, if there’s an accidental tapeworm infestation they’re obviously obligated to host the poor innocent creatures.

    Or at least to feel really, really, bad about getting rid of them, right Pigliucci?

  19. yubal says

    To decide to get an abortion is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step

    I think we can all agree that the words in brackets are totally out of line. This “should always” is morally highly objectionable and logically a failure.

    Let me provide my own logically fallacy here: I know women who had no difficulties when deciding on an abortion. In fact, most of them had children before and after those abortions. They just went to a clinic, had that abortion and went on with their life.You see? My argument doesn’t make sense either. I can’t extrapolate from a few number of known cases where abortion does not pose a difficult decision to other cases where it does. And yes, in some cases it IS a very hard decision to make.

    Every personal situation is individual and no general concept applies. And that is the point.

  20. yubal says

    And what, exactly, are the “significant ethical consequences”? I missed that one, too.

    I was just about to say something about that but FtB displays an ad on the side bar next to my comment box that reads “Take a class with Dr. Daniel Fincke. Learn ethics, Nietzsche, or Philosophy for Atheists [...]”

    I feel offended. I can’t talk ethics when I have Nietzsche staring at me and what the *&#% is Philosophy for Atheists supposed to be?

  21. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Chas,

    oh, in b4 ‘a fetus is like a tumor’.
    It’s really not.

    You’re a repulsive douche.

  22. yubal says

    @ PZ

    And what, exactly, are the “significant ethical consequences”? I missed that one, too.

    On a serious note: You might want to look up stories of women who had an abortion and, in retrospect, think it was a bad idea. That research should give you the answerer to your question. And yes, you won’t find anything that gives a general guideline here. It is all individual history of individual choices. It’s called ethics, it ain’t a law.

    After all, neither you nor me have a uterus. It’s like having an opinion on how it feels to be “black” (and all the issues that derive from being less sensitive to UV A/B radiation in the current society) while not being “black”. Just read/listen to what the people who are affected by this say and consider it. You can’t do much more than that.

  23. says

    Actually, the thread should be over with screechmonkey’s #20

    +++

    To decide to get an abortion is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step, precisely because it has significant ethical consequences.

    In other words: women, suffer!
    As other’s have mentioned, going through a pregnancy has far MORE significant ethical consequences, because it will most likely result in an actual person, who can actually suffer, who has an actual life that can be very fucked up. There are several people on Pharyngula who were born because their mothers couldn’t get an abortion and who have suffered greatly because of this.
    Why do all the dudebros think that we are unable to make these decisions rationally and calmly? Oh, right, we need to suffer. If we are brazen enough to deny the suffering of pregnancy and childbirth, we should at least suffer for having an abortion. So they can turn around and tell us that abortions are bad for us (look how they suffer) and that therefore we should be stopped from having them for our own good.

    Here’s a list of reasons when I personally find abortion heartbreaking:
    -The woman wants to be pregnant and needs an abortion because something has gone very wrong with either herself or the fetus*.
    -The woman would love to remain pregnant and become a mother, but she lives in a society where bringing a child into this world would ruin everything for both of them.

    *Actually, the abortion was not the heartbreaking part. The decision was made in the blink of an eye. I don’t regret that I got fucking adequate medical care.

  24. A. Noyd says

    For fuck’s sake. Do people spend anywhere near this much time considering the ethical consequences of bringing a new person into the world? Giving birth is far more significant than killing a mindless organism before it can experience and interact with the world. Now that we can control whether or not we make more people, we should consider any form of preventing birth to be ethically null and save our philosophical agonizing for the alternative and its aftermath.

  25. jefrir says

    Chas, #1

    As far as I can tell, the only assumption is that ethical issues are raised whenever something gets killed.
    Ethical issues are not raised by failure to implant any more than ethical issues are raised by somebody getting struck by lightning.
    Ethical issues are raised by somebody killing a puppy with a brick.

    And of course the comparison is to a puppy, and not to a cow or a rat or a cockroach or a plant, or any of the other organisms that people routinely kill without any moral qualms at all. And most of which have a higher level of consciousness than a fetus. Nope, got to compare it to something cute.
    And got to add “with a brick” to add to the level of barbarity, because that’s totes comparable to a medical procedure which causes no distress to the fetus.

  26. Maureen Brian says

    Please, frog @ 11, don’t treat all women as if they were timid little flowers with no life experience at all. It pisses us off.

    Get out there and talk to some women – women who have had good pregnancies, women who have had terrible or failed pregnancies, women who have had abortions. There’s no shortage of us.

    And then look into the concept of learned helplessness, work out why women tend to reject it and learn, too, not to listen to any creature – man, woman or centaur – which imagines it can sum up the entire experience of abortion in one sentence. I mean, it would be stupid to think that, wouldn’t it?

  27. Stacy says

    As far as I can tell, the only assumption is that ethical issues are raised whenever something gets killed.
    Ethical issues are not raised by failure to implant any more than ethical issues are raised by somebody getting struck by lightning

    Who says ethical issues are not raised by failure to implant? If some people think zefs deserve moral consideration, shouldn’t they try to fix that? Why the hell don’t they demand medical science be given the resources to figure out why implantation fails so often and find a cure for this profligate loss of life?

    It’s not like we say “ho-hum” when people (or puppies!) die of natural causes and feel no ethical imperative to try to cure diseases and extend lifespans.

  28. gillyc says

    Chas, why are you equating miscarriage with ‘failure to implant’ anyway? Both of mine happened well after implantation. The second one was about 18 weeks and the fetus looked a lot like those pictures that anti-abortionists love to use. If I did believe in god I’d be seriously pissed off at him over that one; though of course you could argue that those souls went straight to heaven. And if you’re going to say that, you’d have to say exactly the same about the souls of aborted fetuses, which would make abortion the most ethical thing anyone could do – save a soul before it risks corruption and eternity in hell. Consistency, please!

  29. Maureen Brian says

    yubal @ 36,

    All around you there are women, regulars here, known to have a full set of marbles, who have had abortions and, as Giliell says, women whose mothers couldn’t get abortions. They can recount to you a variety of experiences and feelings at the time and a variety of feelings about that abortion now, perhaps decades later.

    What we need are proper lateral and longitudinal studies. Like we have for other social phenomena. You know, almost as if women were people. All the ones I see have two problems – n = 36 at most and they are sponsored by someone with an agenda.

    People regret all sorts of things – their marriage, which university they chose or could get into, having children at all. We don’t try to pare those down into a single issue suitable for a short pronouncement based on no research at all.

    We ask why and we accept that, for each, there will be many possible reasons and many reactions later in life. Is it too much to ask that abortion be treated as slightly more than a single black and white issue where the presumed morality of someone it’s not happening to over-rides the facts?

  30. says

    Chas

    As far as I can tell, the only assumption is that ethical issues are raised whenever something gets killed.
    Ethical issues are not raised by failure to implant any more than ethical issues are raised by somebody getting struck by lightning.
    Ethical issues are raised by somebody killing a puppy with a brick

    So, having a D&E at week 8, or taking RU486 or even having a dreaded “partial birth abortion” is somehow equivalent to killing an independent creature by inflicting massive amounts of pain?
    If I weren’t already convinced that you’re an utter asshole I’d surely be so now.

  31. Charles Sullivan says

    As a philosopher, I didn’t like how Professor Pigliucci described abortion as needing to be emotional. But that the decision should be thoughtful if it is near the end term, where a fully developed fetus bears striking similarities to a newborn infant, then I agree that there is a moral concern present.

    Do I think it must override the pregnant woman’s interests? No.

    Following Bentham on behalf of nonhuman animals:

    “But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”

    So, that’s the question. Can the fetus suffer? Early term. Probably not. Late term: Probably.

  32. Cinzia La Strega says

    I’m not a philosopher or a scientist, but I’m a former counselor at an abortion clinic. For a lot of the clients I talked to, the decision to abort their pregnancies was an ethical choice. It was the choice to prioritize the survival and well-being of the children they already had

  33. praestans says

    “And what, exactly, are the “significant ethical consequences”? I missed that one, too.”

    You don’t say, PZ.

    Might I proffer a primer:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/abortion/

    “By a conservative estimate, 40% of conceptions end in spontaneous abortions. Should we feel concerned?”

    In the UK there’re 4,100 stillbirths a year is ten times higher than the annual toll of cot deaths, at around 300. Ought we not to be concerned?

  34. A. Noyd says

    Giliell (#45)

    So, having a D&E at week 8, or taking RU486 or even having a dreaded “partial birth abortion” is somehow equivalent to killing an independent creature by inflicting massive amounts of pain?

    Right. And can we please not forget that death is inevitable? That you’re basically killing a person by giving them life in the first place? They might end up with a painless death. They might end up not minding to die. Or they could die like a puppy smashed with a brick. Or like that kid in The Dollmaker. I somehow caught that scene twice when it was on TV when I was a kid. Scared the shit out of me. But that’s a fate that people possibly face when they’re born.

  35. blinncombs says

    Did anybody read the original post? It certainly doesn’t appear so. The reactive post from which the quote is taken is a total non sequitor to Pigliucci’s, but here we have PZ using this thinnest of gruel to accuse the MP of, ahem, failing to examine his assumptions. Oh sweet irony….

  36. says

    praestans

    In the UK there’re 4,100 stillbirths a year is ten times higher than the annual toll of cot deaths, at around 300. Ought we not to be concerned?

    Yes, we ought. But somehow all those people who feel the urgent need to debate about or fight against the humanity of women hardly ever seem to lift a finger in favour of better prenatal care and research on miscarriages and stillbirths suffered by women who actually want a baby.

  37. Al Dente says

    blinncombs @50

    Did anybody read the original post? It certainly doesn’t appear so. The reactive post from which the quote is taken is a total non sequitor to Pigliucci’s, but here we have PZ using this thinnest of gruel to accuse the MP of, ahem, failing to examine his assumptions.

    I read Pigliucci’s whine about how nobody appreciates Dave Silverman, that Steve Ahlquist is an absolute rotter for not appreciating Dave Silverman, and conservatives can be atheists. It’s good that you recognize Pigliucci’s non sequitur as being a non sequitur. It’s too bad that you didn’t notice that PZ was responding only to the non sequitur and not to the rest of Massimo’s claim to be better than all us nasty atheists who give a damn about women.

  38. Stacy says

    The reactive post from which the quote is taken is a total non sequitor to Pigliucci’s

    You know what’s a non sequitur? Your opinion of Stephanie’s post. Even if it were true that her post is a “non sequitor [sic] to Pigliucci’s,” your objection would be irrelevant. The quote is Pigliucci’s. PZ is challenging the assumption in those words of Pigliucci’s.

    but here we have PZ using this thinnest of gruel

    How is a direct quote “thin gruel”?

    to accuse the MP of, ahem, failing to examine his assumptions.Oh sweet irony…

    Yes. The assumption that

    To decide to get an abortion is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step

    Is what PZ takes issue with.

    PZ’s argument with Pigliucci is quite clear, blinncombs. You need to work on your ability to analyze and evaluate arguments. Or your reading comprehension. Or both.

  39. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    But that the decision should be thoughtful if it is near the end term, where a fully developed fetus bears striking similarities to a newborn infant, then I agree that there is a moral concern present.

    Yet another pronouncement from the ivory tower which completely fails to recognize that, in the real world, very late term elective abortions really are not much of a thing and, to the extent that they are a thing at all it’s because of a lack of access and not because someone just changes their mind 30+ weeks into a pregnancy. On the extremely rare occasion that a late term abortion is not, in fact, a birth, it’s because there’s no other available option.

  40. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    36
    yubal

    On a serious note: You might want to look up stories of women who had an abortion and, in retrospect, think it was a bad idea. That research should give you the answerer to your question. And yes, you won’t find anything that gives a general guideline here. It is all individual history of individual choices. It’s called ethics, it ain’t a law.

    After all, neither you nor me have a uterus. It’s like having an opinion on how it feels to be “black” (and all the issues that derive from being less sensitive to UV A/B radiation in the current society) while not being “black”. Just read/listen to what the people who are affected by this say and consider it. You can’t do much more than that.

    Why only the women whose feelings coincide with how society thinks one ought to feel? I’m Not Sorry

  41. ludicrous says

    Julia Galef could make “Rationally Speaking” a really great podcast without Massimo and his stupid sexual comments and overbearing attitude. The show is an example of a really competent and engaging female having to put up with a pompous ass.

  42. carlie says

    The first part of this is reposted from what I wrote at Stephanie’s:

    It just occurred to me that in the supporting documentation with my IUD, it says that if a pregnancy occurs, it should be removed but that can cause a miscarriage, and if it stays it may cause congenital defects, and therefore abortion is recommended. I remember specifically thinking when I got it that at least if I got pregnant, no doctor could refuse to give me an abortion under those medically necessary circumstances. It was a big sense of relief, not a huge ethical decision.

    So I guess Pigliucci would say I’m a monster?

    There is also another big assumption he makes – that this is a rare event, needing to be thought out so very carefully as if it has never been considered before. Does he not understand uterine biology? This happens every month. Some women might not think about it too often even so, but there are others for whom it’s a more prominent issue. If I go through my family tree on my mother’s side, most of the children have been unplanned, several having been conceived while on birth control. We are fertile like you would not believe. We are the proverbial “look at us wrong and we’ll get pregnant” family. Thinking about possible pregnancy is not a rare special event for us, it is a constant fear, regardless of the steps we take to prevent it from happening. I can assure him that by the time I was 25 I had thought about it a lot more than he ever has, and that if I were to get pregnant now, I wouldn’t need to revisit all of those thoughts.

  43. Holms says

    #1
    As far as I can tell, the only assumption is that ethical issues are raised whenever something gets killed.

    Nope, the quoted passage quite clearly says that abortions are necessarily emotional and so forth. It’s right there in plain text and somehow you managed to miss it! …Unless of course you were merely arguing in bad faith again.

    oh, in b4 ‘a fetus is like a tumor’.

    Yep, I’m going with the bad faith idea.

    #30
    Well really, anyone who eats meat has implicitly consented to be a permanent host to tapeworms, right? I mean, they know that it’s a possible consequence, so no matter how careful they are and what precautions they take, if there’s an accidental tapeworm infestation they’re obviously obligated to host the poor innocent creatures.

    Or at least to feel really, really, bad about getting rid of them, right Pigliucci?

    A winner is you.

  44. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Chas @1:

    As far as I can tell, the only assumption is that ethical issues are raised whenever something gets killed.

    So the bone drilled out of my tibia so the MCL and patellar tendon could be relocated, living bone with living cells in the matrix, should have/could have been an ethical issue on a par with the created issue of abortion? When Wife had a tumor removed, a mass of living cells, the cells in the tumor were killed, weren’t they? Yet no one assumes that removing a benign tumor raises ethical questions. So I disagree with your precis.

    But I am an historian, so . . .

  45. says

    I did read Pigliucci’s article, and there was a lot I could criticize. He focuses almost entirely on the bogus hair-splitting claim that there are secular arguments against abortion — which nobody has disagree with. As I pointed out, there are secular arguments for wearing underpants on your head. We don’t usually take them seriously, though.

    He also claims that the only issue atheists should be concerned about is the separation of church and state, because apparently, rejecting belief in god has no logical antecedents or consequences (you know, if he wants to tell us that abortion must have ethical implications, it seems to me that atheism ought to have even more).

    It was a remarkably stupid, shallow article, and I could have spent an hour tearing into everything I disagreed with in it, but I decided it wasn’t worth it and just focused on the one particularly goofy claim.

  46. mnb0 says

    “That ought to be an easy decision”
    You left it to Angelina Jolie to tell how easy or difficult the decision was to have breast surgery was. Now you are the one telling women how to feel about abortion. This issue should be left to those people who actually had one or plan to have one (so totally not Pigliucci either). Last time I checked your photo I had the impression you don’t belong to that category.

  47. says

    It took me no time at all to ponder whether to use contraception at all. According to this asshole, shouldn’t I have been in knots for days weighing all the ethical implications? What about all those baybeez I was preventing from being brought forth*?!? There was also no great soul searching, no mental or emotional rack dragged out, when in about 10 seconds I decided to take Plan B when a condom once failed to provide adequate protection. Now, if I were to get pregnant, I’d certainly be giving some serious consideration, including weighing the ethics involved–but the null, ethically neutral position would be to maintain the status quo by having an abortion. Fucking condescending, patronising, sexist asshole. When he has to decide whether to have an abortion or proceed with a pregnancy he can do all the moralising and self-shaming he wants.

    *the woman (i.e. self) erasure in this phrasing is deliberate–I being the one to blame, but not the person actually taking the risks and doing the work–because that’s how these fuckers think

  48. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    The only issues that atheists should be concerned about, according to these men who are our celebrities of atheism are the issues that happen to have an impact on their already privileged lives? I for one am shocked….not really. Of course the movement wants my support for the edification of the dudes, but they don’t want to offer even the merest shred of support for my rights in return. Tough. No, I don’t appreciate Silverman or the dudes like him who just cannot be bothered to see me as a person worthy of the same rights and respect they are.

    As to how I ‘d feel if I needed an abortion today: I’d be afraid of not being able to get the abortion. That would be my only fear, because I know that I do not want to be pregnant or have another child. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would choose to abort. That decision is easy. I feel fine about having made that choice. There is no need for me to feel guilty or disappointed by removing something from my body that I do not want there. I’d sleep fine the night before. I’d walk into the clinic grateful and leave relieved and glad that under the law where I live, I’m still considered a human being. If one of my friends or my kids asked me to drive them the 6 hours to the closest clinic in my state, I’d do so in a heartbeat and I’d be happy to do it. All the shame and self-doubt that certain people wish I would feel? They can keep them and the implication that goes with them.

  49. Amphiox says

    Yet another pronouncement from the ivory tower which completely fails to recognize that, in the real world, very late term elective abortions really are not much of a thing and, to the extent that they are a thing at all it’s because of a lack of access and not because someone just changes their mind 30+ weeks into a pregnancy. On the extremely rare occasion that a late term abortion is not, in fact, a birth, it’s because there’s no other available option.

    I admit that I have no personal or secondary experience of a late-term abortion that was not an emotionally wrenching experience, and it may be reasonable to suppose that late-term abortions will be much more likely to be emotionally wrenching decisions than earlier-term abortions, but the source of the emotional turmoil is rarely over the decision to abort itself, it is over the circumstances that made the decision to abort necessary.

  50. says

    Azkyroth @25:

    Anyone else remember Caledonian?

    Just sayin’.

    Mistakenly believing that Caledonian spoke for the horde (back when this blog had fairly recently made the move to ScienceBlogs) kept me from participating in comments for years. In recent years, I’ve become largely convinced that that’s what the middle C stands for.

  51. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @64 Amphiox

    Not sure whether you’re agreeing or disagreeing or somewhere in between…

    I’ll go ahead and clarify, just in case: I didn’t mean it wouldn’t be emotionally wrenching; in fact of course it would be because there’s nearly a 100% chance that it was a wanted pregnancy. I was responding to the claim that there’s a greater moral concern at that stage because the fetus is more similar to a baby when the reality is that medical necessity is making the decision for you in those situations.

  52. ledasmom says

    While many of you have already had excellent points to make about ChasCPeterson’s #1, I must comment on:

    If that’s your beef, than OK. He shouldn’t tell women how to feel.
    (Nobody reading this has any problem prescribing correct feelings about other issues, though. Puppy-bricking, e.g.)

    Please do tell me the positive side of puppy-bricking. I am sure there is a sufficiently-improbable circumstance for which it may be seen as the least of available evils; feel free to claim that this makes it an appropriate analogy for abortion.
    I find myself failing to appreciate the dismissal as minor of Pigliucci’s policing of women’s emotions. Why should the decision to abort be very difficult or emotional? Because, he says, it has serious ethical consequences. But is this not a case of his assuming his conclusion?
    I should say that I’m not sure if I have technically had an abortion; I had a D&C several months after what turned out to be an incomplete miscarriage (it is interesting to note that you do not need to be bleeding much to become significantly anemic, if you are bleeding every day for long enough). The odd thing is that this was a wanted pregnancy (in between the two successful ones); I even had a sonogram while the heart was still beating, and a later one to confirm death (a transvaginal ultrasound does provide the neatest images. I was fascinated). But while the miscarriage was proceeding I had the oddest feelings of euphoria. Undoubtedly it was somehow hormonal in nature; it would have been nice to talk about it, but there really aren’t many places one can talk about one’s miscarriage-related euphoria.
    Policing of emotions – bah. People are not so uniform as all that. Even if women generally took abortion as a grave matter requiring much thought and anguish (and I do not think they necessarily do), it would still be wrong for Pigliucci to say they always should.

  53. says

    BTW, NOT reading the whole thing is doing Pigliucci a favour.
    Because, did you know there can be arguments to deny women fundamental human rights that are NOT grounded on misogyny?
    And that he himself is totes 100% not misogynist and anti-feminist?
    Why?
    Because he said so, ad he’s a totally cool rational guy philosopher!

  54. Amphiox says

    Not sure whether you’re agreeing or disagreeing or somewhere in between…

    I’ll go ahead and clarify, just in case

    No need to clarify. The comment was not intended as either agreement nor disagreement, but an extension of the idea with a tie back to the OP’s focus on emotion.

    For the record I am in 100% agreement with your original post. In fact I cannot conceive of any reasonable way that a well-informed person of good will could not be anything but in agreement with what you wrote.

  55. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    Chas,
    If you think a woman having an abortion is remotely like bashing a puppy to death with a brick, I think you can stop pretending to be an ally to women now. Nobody is buying it anymore anyway.

  56. Amphiox says

    Chas,
    If you think a woman having an abortion is remotely like bashing a puppy to death with a brick, I think you can stop pretending to be an ally to women now. Nobody is buying it anymore anyway.

    Those two have less similarity than a tumor has to a pre-viability fetus.

    And of course the comparison is to a puppy, and not to a cow or a rat or a cockroach or a plant, or any of the other organisms that people routinely kill without any moral qualms at all. And most of which have a higher level of consciousness than a fetus. Nope, got to compare it to something cute.
    And got to add “with a brick” to add to the level of barbarity, because that’s totes comparable to a medical procedure which causes no distress to the fetus.

    Yes indeed.

    And when creationist and libertarian trolls similarly use such selective application of definitions and such transparently manipulative use of inappropriate analogies, no one hesitates to call them out on their crass intellectual dishonesty.

    Chas does not deserve an exception from the same just for being a Pharyngula regular.

  57. ledasmom says

    If it helps, I promise not to kill my uterus puppies with bricks.
    Note: This commenter does not actually have uterus puppies. This commenter is sad about this, because that would be an excellent thing to spring on one’s ob-gyn. Also, if they were large, dangerous-looking puppies, one could threaten people with them: “Drop that gun, or I release the Uterus Rottweilers! (Drops pants. Squats. Leans back.) “Grrrr!”
    “Release the uterus Rottweilers!” may be my go-to for shouting at other drivers, now (from inside my car with the windows down, because I do have some sense and politeness, little though they be).

  58. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    And of course the comparison is to a puppy, and not to a cow or a rat or a cockroach or a plant, or any of the other organisms that people routinely kill without any moral qualms at all. And most of which have a higher level of consciousness than a fetus. Nope, got to compare it to something cute.
    And got to add “with a brick” to add to the level of barbarity, because that’s totes comparable to a medical procedure which causes no distress to the fetus.

    This sort of argument is, in my experience, always made by a meat eater who doesn’t really care at all about the pain, suffering and death of sentient creatures that they cause to have a snack their bodies can function perfectly without. That’s their right, just ask them. They can torture (or pay other’s to) and kill for some jerky or a cheese stick. No one should take it from them. But put a fetus in me that has no capacity for feeling pain, attachment or fear and suddenly life is precious and I should feel horrible for terminating a pregnancy that might eventually lead to a being as sentient as the one they ate for breakfast without giving it a second thought. The callousness of that double standard disgusts me.

  59. Al Dente says

    Pigliucci’s pronouncement reminds me of those theists and faitheists who get upset that atheists do not feel angst about not believing in gods. He’s basically saying that he would find having an abortion to be a difficult and emotional step and, since he is the most intelligent, most rational, most mostest person he knows, his feelings are the ideal to which everyone else should strive for.

  60. loopyj says

    As a person who’s actually had an abortion, I can tell you that my decision wasn’t fraught with inner turmoil over the ethical consequences of removing the products of unplanned conception from my body. I used contraception and it failed, and I neither wanted to be pregnant nor have a baby. As I live in a major urban centre in Canada, my access to abortion services is fast, easy, and covered by the provincial health insurance program. My abortion was one of the least traumatic, least painful (hooray for fentanyl!) medical procedures I’ve ever experienced. Everyone is entitled to feel exactly how she wants to about her own abortion, and telling women what they should feel is just another attempt at policing and shaming them.

  61. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Yet another thread Chas manages to turn into all about his asshole self. At the expense of women, naturally. Why the fuck is he still around?

  62. Imbecile Heureux says

    Has the original Pilgliucci post been edited? It now seems to read:

    “To decide to get certain types of abortion (say, last trimester) is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step…”

    Of course, the criticism may well still stand, but it’s (at least now) a somewhat different claim.

  63. tdxdave says

    Massimo edited the statement in response to a comment

    http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2014/03/david-silverman-and-scope-of-atheism.html?showComment=1394892761151#c3662195340554333983

    “To decide to get certain types of abortion (say, last trimester) is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step, precisely because it has significant ethical consequences. ”

    Does this change anything? It seems to have been a complete waste of words, he is responding to a claim noone made.

  64. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    No, the stealth edit changes nothing. It highlights his continued inability to see women as sentient actors and his baked-in projection of what they ought to feel.

  65. nrdo says

    PZ, the quote above actually seems to be a bit of a misquote, since the original post says: ‘To decide to get certain types of abortion (say, last trimester) is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step”

    Those familiar with the abortion issue understand that late trimester abortions are rare and almost always due to a medical problem that has ruled out a promising future for the mother and/or baby. But in the interests of fair discussion, we have to make it a point to go by what he actually said.

    Personally, I don’t think the moral/philosophical gravity of an abortion has anything to do with when (in the pregnancy) it is used but in what context it is used, i.e. when the choice to abort is “imposed” on the woman by factors like poverty, domestic abuse or religious/cultural shaming. Those are the situations in which, arguably, freedom of choice of a human person has been infringed and thus we should work to reduce them.

  66. nrdo says

    Yeah, wow, I just got fooled by his stealth edit. Please disregard my first paragraph. Turns out he was sloppier than I thought . . .

  67. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    nrdo,
    You want to have a fair discussion about men projecting on to women the feelings they think they should have? How exactly do you think that can be done?

    Let me guess, we need to put my humanity aside again for the sake of the discussion?

    We need to assume hypotheticals that might, if we stretch them, make the man’s foolish and sexist assertions that are being discussed here seem less shitty while we do that, right?

    Not interested.

  68. Al Dente says

    The amendment to his previous non sequitur doesn’t make it any less of a non sequitur.

  69. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Very integrity. Much honest, Massimo.

    This is the mindset you’re dealing with, nrdo. Massimo has demonstrated he does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. Understand this.

  70. nrdo says

    @ Jackie, all dressed in black

    I thought PZ was misquoting Massimo, as it turns out, Massimo edited his post, so my first paragraph is nonsensical my apologies.

    But in general, of course, demanding that women have a certain response is ridiculous and insensitive, even more so in the context of late-term abortions where, as I said, the woman’s hand is often being forced.

  71. blinncombs says

    53, 60: Actually, PZ (and Stacy), you focused on Ms. Zvan’s blatant *misquotation* of Pigliucci’s post. Here’s the original:

    “[S]ince abortion involves more than one life, and there is a marked difference in the consequences of a given decision for the two parties, the issue is thornier than others, and it ought to be so for secularists also. To decide to get certain types of abortion (say, last trimester) is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step, precisely because it has significant ethical consequences. There is no equivalent to that in, say, deciding whether to allow gay couples to marry or not, as a moment’s reflection should make clear.”

    When you actually read Pigliucci’s post (you know, rather than just sniping at somebody else’s misquotation), it’s quite obvious that Zvan’s reply simply has nothing to do with Pigliucci’s original. Worse, it’s pretty clear that her post has precious little to do with any specific decision to have an abortion, and everything to do with a *possible* future complication of taking a drug for the treatment of migraines (which, she admits, probably doesn’t actually affect fetal development). So she agrees that, if she were to get pregnant while on propranolol, she would have an abortion.

    In this vein, her remarks are quite revealing, because they unwittingly make Piglicucci’s point. She goes through a litany of the types of things that ethical people think about when considering matters of reproduction. This just proves that she agrees with Massimo that the “decision to abort” should be “the subject of serious consideration.” She shows her agreement by illustrating that very deliberation.

  72. says

    blinncombs, I await your apology, both for accusing me of misquoting something that was later edited and for your clear elision of “emotional” when saying I illustrate Pigliucci’s point.

  73. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    blinncombs:

    Pigliucci edited his own post. See # 79. This thread.

  74. nrdo says

    @ blinncombs two points –

    1 – You’ve been caught by a stealth edit. Massimo changed his post; the original is not a misquote

    2 – Both versions of Massimo’s statement betray a general lack of knowledge/insensitivity, for different reasons. To say that women should feel a certain way about aborting a pregnancy without accounting for the context under which the decision is made is both bad philosophy and bad judgment.

  75. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Intellectual honesty demands you acknowledge this, blinncombs. Not “but my point still stands.” No, it doesn’t. You accused Stephanie of something that never happened and formed a twisted critique based on that. You understand, I hope, that it’s OK to say, “Actually, since that didn’t happen, there’s no reason for me to make this accusation and I’m sorry.”?

  76. anteprepro says

    Wow, and Pagliacci’s silent edits have already had their desired effects. Twice. The power of dishonesty!

  77. says

    I said this in the comments of my blog, but I’ll repeat it here as well. No, changing the context of the statement to the third trimester helps nothing with regard to him saying it has to be an emotional step. He is simply assigning me emotions as payment for the fact that there are consequences to my decision. That’s calling for punishment whether or not the decision is ethical, and that is not just paternalistic, but also really crappy philosophy.

  78. Amphiox says

    In this vein, her remarks are quite revealing, because they unwittingly make Piglicucci’s point. She goes through a litany of the types of things that ethical people think about when considering matters of reproduction. This just proves that she agrees with Massimo that the “decision to abort” should be “the subject of serious consideration.” She shows her agreement by illustrating that very deliberation.

    No she doesn’t. Her and our problem is the word “should” and all its coercive implications. If someone should CHOOSE to regard it as the subject of “serious consideration” then that is their right, and Stephanie (and us) have chosen to exercise that right. But others need not, and may CHOOSE not to subject the issue to consideration, serious or otherwise, and that is also their right.

    And that is our point.

    The decision to abort MAY be subject to serious consideration IF the INDIVIDUAL making the decision wishes to so subject it. There is no “should” here that is appropriate.

  79. blinncombs says

    OK, so it looks like Pigliucci edited the original. He really needn’t have done so, since his point was the totally uncontroversial one that the decision to have an abortion is ethically complex. I know this is a sensitive topic (and so does everybody else here). That doesn’t entail that every specific decision to abort is hard and emotionally fraught. But, to the extent that it isn’t, that’s because the decider has engaged in deliberations about it.

    There is a constant (and really unseemly) confusion here between (1) the process of engaging in rational deliberation and (2) the choice to stand by the fruits of one’s deliberations once a conclusion has been reached. Given that that’s pretty much what any minimal rationality entails, I’d hope that the distinction would at least be noticed.

  80. Amphiox says

    blinncombs:

    Pigliucci edited his own post. See # 79. This thread.

    It is rather telling of blinncombs’ own intellectual rigor/honesty that he would make that “mistake” even AFTER it had been pointed out earlier in this thread.

    This thread hasn’t even hit triple digits yet, and he didn’t bother to read it all before blabbing away.

    Who was it who said “stay silent and be thought a fool, open your mouth and remove all doubt”?

  81. Amphiox says

    OK, so it looks like Pigliucci edited the original. He really needn’t have done so, since his point was the totally uncontroversial one that the decision to have an abortion is ethically complex

    Let’s look at the original quote again, shall we?

    To decide to get an abortion is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step, precisely because it has significant ethical consequences.

    His main point was NOT merely that it is ethically complex. It was that because it is ethically complex it SHOULD ALWAYS be difficult and emotional. (Note how this is the clause that appears first in the sentence structure, hilighting its primary importance over the secondary clause of “ethically complex”?

    THAT is what is in dispute, both that it “should” be “always” difficult and emotional, AND that just because something is ethically complex it must be emotional.

    blinnscombs, is your reading comprehension really this poor? Or are you indeed deliberately omitting the important details and therefore flat out lying?

    You now owe Stephanie TWO apologies, since you’ve now elided the critical word “emotional” TWICE, the second time AFTER she had already pointed it out to you.

  82. screechymonkey says

    blinnscombs, you wrote that

    When you actually read Pigliucci’s post (you know, rather than just sniping at somebody else’s misquotation), it’s quite obvious that Zvan’s reply simply has nothing to do with Pigliucci’s original.

    implying that Stephanie’s supposed “blatant misquotation” was a material modification of Pigliucci’s post. Now you want to pretend that it didn’t matter at all because the underlying point is the same? And you haven’t even bothered to apologize for your false accusation?

    That tells me all I need to know about you.

  83. Amphiox says

    That doesn’t entail that every specific decision to abort is hard and emotionally fraught.

    And yet that is EXACTLY what Pigliucci originally said. Shall I quote it AGAIN for you? Here you go:

    To decide to get an abortion is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step, precisely because it has significant ethical consequences.

    So how does your second statement even square at all with your feeble defence of Pigliucci in your first statement?

    It is almost as if you are lamely trying to weasel out of the flagrant intellectual laziness/dishonesty you’ve got caught in, in failing to notice/pretending that Pigliucci’s edit was actually the original statement despite that having already been pointed out earlier in the thread, before you made your ridiculous comment.

    Not only does it appear that you are too lazy to read the earlier posts in the thread before commenting, you don’t even seem to read the first half of your OWN posts before writing the second!

  84. screechymonkey says

    Final Exam, Intro to Philosophy With Dr. Dr. Dr. Pigliucci:

    Question 1. You’re standing beside a set of trolley tracks. blah blah blah blah blah….. Should you
    (a) throw the switch and divert the trolley so it kills one person
    (b) not throw the switch and leave the trolley on its original course where it will kill five people
    (c) throw the switch, but feel really really bad and tortured about it?

  85. operabuff says

    When I defend abortion rights I am all too often told that abortion is no different from taking an actual person off life support. Of course, that argument is very easy to refute: people on life support are not dependent on another person’s organs, nor do they pose any risks to another person’s health, life or future fertility.
    Bearing that in mind, I’d like to turn the argument around and ask abortion opponents this: if the only way to keep a person on life support were to connect that person to another person’s organs, putting the supplier of life support at some degree of risk, should the person whose organs are being used have the right to terminate the support he or she provides?

  86. ChasCPeterson says

    yikes
    Would it be wrong to characterize this as a thread mostly devoted to telling me how to feel about abortion?
    Which, again: I am 100% pro-choice; for me the bodily autonomy argument trumps all other considerations. (The same, btw, goes for Pigliucci, and for Silverman. We are not your political enemies. I find it interesting and instructive sometimes to think about and discuss what other people think, even about issues related to women’s health and reproductive rights. If that’s anathema to you, by all means JUST SCROLL PAST.)

    I have limited time today, and stuff to do, and I lack the will to respond to everybody anyway, so forgive me for scrolling up from the bottom and quitting when I run out of coffee. There’s no particular reason why you should care what I think anyway.

    If you think a woman having an abortion is remotely like bashing a puppy to death with a brick, I think you can stop pretending to be an ally to women now. Nobody is buying it anymore anyway.

    Those two have less similarity than a tumor has to a pre-viability fetus.

    And so it is Pronounced, Ex Cathedra. A bare statement of opinion like that (floosh!, eh, Nerd?) carries no more weight than the exact opposite statement.
    But so yes, I do think that abortions and puppy-bricking are remorely similar, and I thought I had already enumerated a couple of the similarities:
    – in both cases something (more specifically, a mammalian organism) is killed
    – some people impart ethical consideration to the thing that’s killed.
    And of course there’s a third, astutely noted by whichever commenter said this:

    of course the comparison is to a puppy, and not to a cow or a rat or a cockroach or a plant, or any of the other organisms that people routinely kill without any moral qualms at all. And most of which have a higher level of consciousness than a fetus. Nope, got to compare it to something cute.

    You gotcha’d me! I chose a puppy instead of a tumbleweed on purpose!
    And that purpose was to illustrate the fact that decisions–decisions each of us make as individuals–about which organisms deserve ethical consideration are always based at least in part on irrational factors like emotion.
    And yeah, I threw the brick thing in there just to be sure I had an example that everybody could agree was unquestionably heinous. Because some people have no ethical problem killing a puppy with a shot of pentobarbitol. Some do. Some people, it’s true, kill cows without moral qualms, many others could not. Pretty much nobody (except Jains) would feel bad about smashing a big cockroach with a brick in your kitchen, but I have to say that I’d have a problem with that in the middle of a relatively pristine rainforest.
    That’s the point. People who impart ethical consideration to a human fetus are simply performing a different set of largely subconscious and emotionally informed ethical calculations than people who do not.

    So how about the fetus/tumor thing? Sure, there are some ways that they are similar:
    – inside a woman’s body
    – leeching (or leaching) nutrients from a woman’s bloodstream
    – composed of living human cells
    (so far, fetuses are like tumors are like thyroid glands are like uteruses are like lungs)
    – people often want to kill them, or if you prefer, have them removed
    …and I think that’s about it.
    How are they different? Lots of ways, but the only one that matters to people for whom it matters:
    – one has the potential to kill a person, the other has the potential to be a person.

    Oh, we could play the same game with comparing fetuses to tapeworms and staphylococcus to puppies and tumors to tumbleweeds, but it’s stupid. (Equally stupid, Jackie, is thinking that someone saying ‘X is like Y’ (like, for example, abortion is like puppy-bricking or nursing is like gestation) means that they think X is exactly like Y in every detail. More often, I think you’ll find, a particular similarity is being highlighted because it’s relevant to the argument being illustrated. Protip.)

    So Pigliucci thinks X about the ethical consideration due a human fetus, and further thinks that everybody else “should” think the same.
    How is that different from you? Was my point.
    Nobody’s ethical opinion about fetuses–they are opinions–is going to get changed by name-calline, tone-trolling, sloganeering, or accdusing them of being Satanist Child-Murderers or Evil Enemies of Women. In very few cases are rational arguments even going to have much effect because (with the arguable exception of people like Singer who can identify and hold on to a single over-riding criterion (i.e. suffering)) the opinion has little to do with reason in the first place.

    So quit with the policing of opinions, is my advice to all, and accept your political allies as such.

    And I’m way out of coffee.

    Chas does not deserve an exception from the same just for being a Pharyngula regular.

    LOL. Did somebody actually suggest this? Because I have never ever received, nor asked for, nor desired, any such exception.
    I do take umbrage at your charge of intellectual dishonesty, though. If I say “some people think and say X”, and it’s a fact that some people do think and say X, there is absolutely nothing dishonest about it, regardless of what I actually think.

  87. blinncombs says

    So, just to recap, I see Massimo changed the post. (I hadn’t seen that part of the thread before my post because I had opened up the comment box before it had appeared). I offer Ms. Zvan and PZ my humblest apologies for the accusation of misquotation.

    The second matter, of emotion, strikes me as something of a tempest in a teapot. Zvan’s comments from the original post give the game away:

    “I couldn’t have decided whether and how children fit into my life. I couldn’t have figured out whether my genes should be carried on. I couldn’t have figured out whether I would be a good parent, particularly not after having grown up with an abusive one.
    I couldn’t have contemplated the possibility of birth control failing me sometime in the twenty years I’d been having sex at that point. I couldn’t have chosen birth control with the understanding of how I go about having sex and what that means for the odds of failure. I couldn’t have made contingency plans already and reassessed them as my life circumstances changed.”

    Those are, quite obviously, highly emotional considerations. And that you find yourself compelled to mention them, in the context of contemplating, not an actual abortion, but a possible future abortion, just illustrates your agreement with Massimo. Decisions about abortion (like all ethical decisions!) have emotional content.

    Again, there is this strange tendency going on here to rip quotations from their context, and then go on to invent fanciful interpretations of them for some odd kind of amusement. Nobody who, you know, *read* either the original or the edited version of Pigliucci’s post could honestly maintain that it implies somehow that women making the decision to abort lack powers of rational deliberation. Exactly the opposite.

  88. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    Chas,
    I’m not reading another screed of yours. Feel however you like. Just fuck off.

  89. ChasCPeterson says

    Yet another thread Chas manages to turn into all about his asshole self.

    Excuse me? I made it about myself?
    unbelievable.

    At the expense of women, naturally.

    I think you’ll find that not a single woman was harmed in any way by my comments. Naturally.

    Why the fuck is he still around?

    hmm. That is a puzzler.

  90. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    blinncombs,
    Are you now actually telling Stephanie that she is in error about her own emotions and considerations and are you really going to try to set her straight about her experiences in a strained attempt to defend your defense of a man telling women how they ought to feel about abortion?

    Wow.

    Tempest in a teapot? Great gaslighting, Batman!

  91. ChasCPeterson says

    Feel however you like.

    Gosh, thanks!

    Just fuck off.

    From your blog? OK.
    Here?
    um…same to you?

  92. says

    ChasCPeterson #104

    Potential personhood? Really?

    I do take umbrage at your charge of intellectual dishonesty, though. If I say “some people think and say X”, and it’s a fact that some people do think and say X, there is absolutely nothing dishonest about it, regardless of what I actually think.

    You really think you needed to explain to us that some people think these things?

    Fuck off.

  93. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    The first rule of Smug Guy Debate Club: never stop talking about Smug Guy Debate Club.

    Second rule: When non-member of Smug Guy Debate Club calls out a lazy assertion you’ve made, repeatedly insist you never made said assertion, in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

  94. says

    I’m not even reading that bullshit, Chas. Just shut the fuck up. Shut up. Shut up forever about abortion. And women in general. Stop talking about us. Talk about science all you want but leave us the fuck alone.

  95. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    Chas,
    Why don’t you asked the women here if they feel harmed rather than assuming you know when you’ve harmed us. Intent is not magic and frankly, I’m not even buying your intent anymore. You know you’re triggering women with your “just like beating a puppy to death with a brick” nonsense.

    That’s right. I forgot. We don’t matter one bit to you, so long as you are amused.

    Chas, you are not an ally. You’re an asshole.

  96. says

    We don’t matter one bit to you, so long as you are amused.

    Exactly.

    Just because you don’t believe us bitches women when we say you’re doing harm, Chas, doesn’t mean the harm doesn’t exist.

  97. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    Fine Chas. Hang out and make this thread another poisoned place where I can’t stand to be. I’ll leave.

    Why oh why aren’t women more interested in atheism?

    *spits*

  98. Amphiox says

    I do take umbrage at your charge of intellectual dishonesty, though. If I say “some people think and say X”, and it’s a fact that some people do think and say X, there is absolutely nothing dishonest about it, regardless of what I actually think.

    But that is NOT what I charge you with intellectual dishonesty about.

    And a response like this, dissembling about what the original critique actually was, is ANOTHER thing that is routinely called out for intellectual dishonesty when committed by the creobots and libertarians.

  99. says

    Silly ladies. If Chas SAYS he’s not hurting you then by god, he’s not hurting you! If you weren’t so silly and emotional you’d see how right he is.

  100. anteprepro says

    I find it entertaining and obstructive sometimes to wank on about what other people think, especially and disproportionately about issues related to women’s health and reproductive rights.

    Fixed it for ya, Chass.

    SallyStrange:

    I’m not even reading that bullshit, Chas. Just shut the fuck up. Shut up. Shut up forever about abortion. And women in general. Stop talking about us. Talk about science all you want but leave us the fuck alone.

    Jackie:

    Chas,
    Why don’t you asked the women here if they feel harmed rather than assuming you know when you’ve harmed us. Intent is not magic and frankly, I’m not even buying your intent anymore. You know you’re triggering women with your “just like beating a puppy to death with a brick” nonsense.

    That’s right. I forgot. We don’t matter one bit to you, so long as you are amused.

    Chas, you are not an ally. You’re an asshole

    I think the above says all that need to be said, really.

  101. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    Oh look! Another Chas – Screw the real women harmed by this shit, let’s vulcanize! show.

    Giliell totally called it in the underpants thread, at least as it relates to abortion threads this month:

    It’s not ignorance since it happens every. single. time.

    blinncombs

    Decisions about abortion (like all ethical decisions!) have emotional content.

    Well that’s completely true, in the trivial sense at least. I mean, overwhelming relief sure is an emotion. Somehow I don’t think that’s what the good philosopher meant, though.

  102. nellwebbish says

    > Decisions about abortion (like all ethical decisions!) have emotional content.

    Wrong.

    Some do. Many do not. As was my point in the comments section of Massimo’s blog, which acknowledged as being correct and amended the original sentence in the blog post.

    Presumably mine was one of several comments he received with regards to the baseless assertion that abortion, or any moral question, MUST or SHOULD be difficult and emotional.

  103. Amphiox says

    Those are, quite obviously, highly emotional considerations. And that you find yourself compelled to mention them, in the context of contemplating, not an actual abortion, but a possible future abortion, just illustrates your agreement with Massimo.

    No it doesn’t. Just because she should CHOOSE to have an emotional consideration (and who the hell do you think you are to tell Stephanie what she is or is not emotional about?) does not mean that EVERY woman SHOULD or MUST have it be emotional, as Pigliucci claimed in his original statement.

    You now owe Stephanie THREE apologies.

    And since my general policy is three strikes before I withdraw the “incompetence before malignancy” consideration. From this point on I will no longer be allowing for the possibility that you simply made a mistake or were intellectually lazy. You are, and will be, as far as all future replies or referrals to you by me go, a deliberately dishonest POS, from this point onwards, until proven otherwise.

  104. Amphiox says

    Well that’s completely true, in the trivial sense at least. I mean, overwhelming relief sure is an emotion. Somehow I don’t think that’s what the good philosopher meant, though.

    Mild satisfaction and bored disinterest are also emotions….

  105. says

    Getting back to the OP, Massimo’s edit doesn’t improve the message any. He’s only trying to dictate to women how they SHOULD feel about late-term abortions. Now, late-term abortions generally happen for one of two reasons: either something has gone horribly wrong with a wanted pregnancy, in which case Massimo is simply being incredibly patronizing and condescending, or there is a woman who wanted an abortion earlier in her pregnancy but was unable to get it, in which case he’s just being cruel.

  106. says

    blinncombs

    Those are, quite obviously, highly emotional considerations.

    No, those are quite obviously rational considerations.
    Do I want children?
    Is it wise for me to have biological children?
    Is NOW the right time for having children?
    If “no” to any of the above, what would be my best method of contraception?
    If my contraception fails, what will I do then?
    The emotional part? “Shit, I need an abortion and now I’ll have to deal withn all the misogynists who think I’m unable to think about these matters and try to keep me from making my own medical decisions. I don’t want to.”

    +++
    Actually, the edited quote shows very well how much of an uneducated, unqualified mansplaining philosodude he is.
    Second trimester abortions of unwanted pregnancies are rare. When they happen, they most often happen because people block women’s access to abortion and they have to jump hoops, scrape by some money, travel long distances and so on.
    Third trimester abortions of unwanted pregnancies are virtually unheard of. What weR’e dealing with at that point are the painful abortions women who desperately want to be pregnant need to undergo. Yes, he’s shitting on women who did their best during the last 6 months, who already painted a nursery, wh have tiny onesies and cuddly animals at home, who sent out invitations for baby showers. And he’s telling them how they should feel?
    What an utter asshole.

  107. nellwebbish says

    ChasCPeterson:

    _As far as I can tell, the only assumption is that ethical issues are raised whenever something gets killed_

    That is an incomplete understanding of the original comment. First, an assertion was made, not an assumption.

    Secondly the assertions were that abortion is and/or should be “very difficult and emotional” and that the ethical consequences are “significant”.

    Those are the portions of the original comment that were being objected to.

    Since the original posting, Dr. Pigliucci acknowledged that the assertion was incorrect and amended it in his blog post.

  108. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @Chas

    Would it be wrong to characterize this as a thread mostly devoted to telling me how to feel about abortion?

    You fucking equivocating piece of shit. There is a difference between your opinion on a human rights issue and how you should FEEL about something that is happening TO YOU. There is a difference between my opinion on reproductive rights and how I would FEEL when presented with the choice to have an abortion or not. You can’t even produce a SINGLE. FUCKING. SENTENCE. without being a disengenuous shitstain.

    The answer to your question, by the way, is yes it would be wrong because, despite your best efforts this thread is, in fact, NOT ABOUT YOU. Jesus fuck you’re vile.

  109. anteprepro says

    Use emotion to guide your reasoning? Irrational wimmens amirite!
    Make a decision in which you are not sufficiently crippled by the emotional consequences? Evul beyotch, amirite!

    I’m just glad that testicles grant people the power to have exactly the right amount of emotion for any given circumstance.

  110. says

    Would it be wrong to characterize this as a thread mostly devoted to telling me how to feel about abortion?

    Yes.

    You can feel however you want about your abortion — you can be heedless and unconcerned, or you can be deeply emotionally troubled — and no one’s going to deny your right to feel that way.

    You might read the OP. The objection is to a man telling everyone else that they must regard abortion as a difficult and emotional step. No, they don’t have to. It is not required.

  111. Rey Fox says

    So quit with the policing of opinions, is my advice to all, and accept your political allies as such.

    No.

  112. nellwebbish says

    yubal:

    _You might want to look up stories of women who had an abortion and, in retrospect, think it was a bad idea._

    The vast majority of women report having no regrets with regards to their abortions.

    More important, feeling regrets is orthogonal to the moral or ethical significance of an act and should not be confused as being the same.

  113. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    So we still have Massimo Pigliucci telling women how they should feel if they choose to abort a pregnancy. And we now have (at least) two commenters also telling women how they should feel if they choose to abort a pregnancy. When did we decide women are not capable having their own feelings?

    Oh.

    Right.

    Thousands of years ago.

    Sorry.

    Same shit.

  114. says

    Chas, how about if you just stay out of any abortion thread altogether? And just to be fair, how about if Nerd of Redhead never, ever uses the word “OPINION” ever again?

  115. blinncombs says

    nellwebbish,

    I’m sure that anybody here can pretty easily come up with a dozen or more hypothetical scenarios under which the decision to terminate a pregnancy is a relative no-brainer. (Certainly nothing Massimo said contested that.) What I object to is that the idea that this somehow removes the emotional or decisional content of the choice. We make ethical decisions precisely by contemplating our desires and their attendant emotional content.

    Now, I suppose it’s possible for someone to think that decisions to terminate pregnancies *should* have no emotional content, or perhaps deny that there is even any ethical component to the decision. That might be a statement of somebody’s preference. But the fact remains that (purely descriptively) it’s not a good characterization of how most people *do* view the decision, and (in terms of ethical deliberation) it has precious little to recommend it for how they *ought* to view it.

    And just to be clear, there’s no necessary connotation of either punishment or coercion in the use of “ought,” as even a very superficial review of cases suffices to show. Normative expressions (of the sort that pepper threads like this) need do no more than pick out the objects of one person’s reflective endorsement so as to recommend them to others. In fact, discussion alone can do no more.

  116. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    (Certainly nothing Massimo said contested that.)

    So “always” on your planet actually means something more like “kind of a lot of the time but not actually always?”

  117. says

    I’m sure that anybody here can pretty easily come up with a dozen or more hypothetical scenarios under which the decision to terminate a pregnancy is a relative no-brainer.

    They’re not hypothetical.

    They are our lived experiences.

    More apologies are due.

  118. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    Blinncombs

    Yes yes, emotional content of the choice. You haven’t explained yet why “overwhelming relief” or “mild satisfaction” as mentioned by Amphiox in 126 doesn’t fit your definition of “emotional content”.

  119. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    To clarify my 141:

    The reason people are up in arms about what he said is because it
    a.) Implies that women can’t regulate their own feelings
    b.) Presupposes that some form of guilt and angst is mandatory or else the woman involved is a monster

    These are two shitty presuppositions.

  120. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    I suppose it’s possible for someone to think that decisions to terminate pregnancies *should* have no emotional content

    What the hell is it with people insisting that that they have the right to dictate whether or not a woman should have emotional content? I know women who have had abortions. No way in hell am I going to tell them that yes, they should have an emotional reaction to this or, conversely, that they should not.

  121. Rey Fox says

    Yes, Pigliucci just meant that abortion is a decision that involves emotional consideration. No, he certainly didn’t imply anything about what emotions should be involved, or what reasons one needs to abort. Nope, just dry Vulcan pontificating, no implications of any sort, perish the thought.

    Bullshit.

  122. blinncombs says

    Seven, Gen,

    The existence of countervailing emotions and desires does nothing to diminish the other side. Deliberations of this sort inevitably involves comparing different as-of-yet unrealized possibilities. Because, in this context, at least one of those possible futures involves the life of another human being (and species isn’t all-important here, but it would be utterly bizarre to deny that it is important), most people tend to think (and I’d tend to agree) that the decision to foreclose that particular possibility should be approached thoughtfully.

    I’d also think it’s fair to say that a whole lot of this thread is a testament to that. What people seem to be really irate at Massimo about is, after all, his recommending any limits on the decision autonomy of pregnant women. It’s just that that’s a deeply uncharitable characterization of his statement in either its original or its edited form.

    So while we’re tossing around apology obligations, I’d say that quite a few of you owe him one. I won’t hold my breath on that one, though.

  123. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Daz:

    How difficult is it to understand that different people will have a range of emotional reactions to any given circumstance, and that this is, and should be, no exception?

    Oh, no. We have to tell the women that they must be emotional about it. And even what kind of emotion to have. We can’t let them make their own decisions.

    (intended as humour)

  124. yubal says

    # 44 Maureen Brian

    All around you there are women, regulars here, known to have a full set of marbles, who have had abortions and, as Giliell says, women whose mothers couldn’t get abortions. They can recount to you a variety of experiences and feelings at the time and a variety of feelings about that abortion now, perhaps decades later.

    You can add me to that pool. I was a medically recommended abortion (“this pregnancy is suicide”) and my mother chose to ignore her doctors advice and go for the gamble.

    (She is still alive and her health is just fine for her age.)

    # 135 nellwebbish

    The vast majority of women report having no regrets with regards to their abortions.

    argumentum ad numerum. Seriously?

    FYI: I said what I wanted to say earlier and I do not intend to discuss here or to go down the road nellwebbish opened with the last sentence in #135. Therefore, I am out of here.

  125. says

    yubal #140

    The vast majority of women report having no regrets with regards to their abortions.

    argumentum ad numerum. Seriously?

    When the topic is women’s emotional reactions to their abortions, noting that most women have no adverse reactions is obviously bloody pertinent.

  126. says

    most people tend to think (and I’d tend to agree) that the decision to foreclose that particular possibility should be approached thoughtfully.

    Golly gosh. We ought to be thoughtful about getting abortions.

    Thank goodness you and Massimo and the literally millions of other non-uterus-havers were here to pontificate about it, because us uterus-having-people are always forgetting to, you know, THINK about the ethical implications of getting an abortion.

  127. says

    Aww, blinncombs has decided to pretend that I don’t exist anymore so they don’t have to address my points that:

    1. The possibility of pregnancy and considerations regarding that pregnancy are the background of a woman’s life, such that those decisions are often made in the background without much emotion and without being any the less informed or considered for that.

    2. Getting “emotional” about someone telling me how to feel while making a decision is not the same thing as getting emotional about the decision.

    Of course, pretending I don’t exist is par for the course when people want to pontificate about the “shoulds” of abortion.

  128. screechymonkey says

    blinncombs @147:

    Because, in this context, at least one of those possible futures involves the life of another human being (and species isn’t all-important here, but it would be utterly bizarre to deny that it is important), most people tend to think (and I’d tend to agree) that the decision to foreclose that particular possibility should be approached thoughtfully.

    So, should there be a “thoughtful decision” with “emotional content” each time someone puts on a condom? Or turns down an offer of sex? After all, each time we do so, we are foreclosing a possible human life. How solemn and sad must we be?

    What about masturbation by men? Each of those sperm cells could have helped create a potential human life that has now been foreclosed! Every sperm is saaacre — oops, almost forgot, need to keep it “secular”!

  129. says

    blinncombs

    most people tend to think (and I’d tend to agree) that the decision to foreclose that particular possibility should be approached thoughtfully.

    Holy cupcake, what on earth makes you think that this is not actually happening each and every time a woman chooses to have an abortion?
    I’m pretty sure that often more thoughtful consideration goes into the decision to have an abortion than into the decision to have a child.
    And even if there’s this flimsy woman who doesn’t put more thought into her reproductive choices than in her breakfast choices: I’d be really glad if she didn’t inflict her careless self on a fetus that grows into a baby.

    +++
    As for women who regretted thier abortions: Yes, I met some of them. They usually regretted their abortions very much because they ran into reproductive troubles later in life. What they regretted was not so much “OMG I killed my child” but that they thought they’d given away their one and only chance (not that there was any indication that this one pregnancy they aborted at 8 weeks would have developed past the 10 or 12 weeks when all their other pregnancies failed…)

  130. says

    What people seem to be really irate at Massimo about is, after all, his recommending any limits on the decision autonomy of pregnant women. It’s just that that’s a deeply uncharitable characterization of his statement in either its original or its edited form.

    What the hell?

    Pigliucci made it quite clear that he’s liberal, pro-choice, all that…he just appears to think it unseemly that women can make a decision without being all broken up about it. And that’s what this thread is about.

  131. Amphiox says

    I’d also think it’s fair to say that a whole lot of this thread is a testament to that. What people seem to be really irate at Massimo about is, after all, his recommending any limits on the decision autonomy of pregnant women.

    Another pathetic dishonest lie from you, blinncombs? Quelle surprise.

    People are irate at Pugliucci because he is trying to dictate to other people how they are “supposed” to “always” feel.

    Though if his recommendation of limits on the bodily autonomy of people who are not him is certainly something that he DESERVES to have people irate at him about.

    Truly your intellectual dishonesty is pitiful, fapwit.

  132. blinncombs says

    Ms. Zvan,

    Your (1), as I’ve already explained, is fully consistent with Massimo’s point. You have also, throughout, traded on an ambiguity of the term “emotional” according to which it must imply some failure of rational deliberation. (I’m pretty sure that that goes under the (pejorative?) label “vulcanizing” here.) Of course, it need not, but without projecting that particularly inapt usage on Massimo, your display couldn’t have gotten off the ground.

  133. blinncombs says

    PZ, the whole thread is a vent about Massimo dictating the terms of what women should feel. In what universe isn’t that fairly construed as a complaint about limiting women’s decisional autonomy?

    I think it’s a nonsensical complaint based on a wholly uncharitable reading, but it’s still the dominant complaint.

  134. says

    There’s no ambiguity in “emotional”, blinncombs. If there were, you wouldn’t have been at pains to elide the term in your comments. It is only now, when people have pointed out how dishonest it is to act as though that weren’t what Pigliucci said, how dishonest it is to pretend that wasn’t PZ’s objection when you’re commenting on a post with “feel” in the title, that you resort to claiming there’s any kind of ambiguity in it.

    Do you really think you’re dealing with people who can’t read and have never had an argument before?

  135. Desert Son, OM says

    Open letter to cis-gender, heterosexual, white men inclined to mental masturbation about the abstracts of abortion and reacting with defensiveness, gaslighting, goal-post relocation, or other forms of hostility when called out for failing to grapple with the reality of diverse experience and autonomous personhood of women:

    I identify as a cis-gender, heterosexual, white man. I’ve got some other biases as well, of course, but I’m noting those specifically in an attempt to reach recognition amongst those with similar. On occasion, I, too, like to mentally plumb—to the extent that I’m able and to varying degrees of success—abstract philosophical questions about a variety of things.

    Here’s the thing, though: In the case of abortion, there is no abstraction that can even remotely equate to the reality experienced, every day by women the world over, not only in the circumstance of abortion, but in all the circumstances that surround it as both a medical procedure and socio-cultural component.

    That means that grappling with the abstractions of abortion can be harmful when aired as if worthy of equal consideration to the actual experience of women who have had the procedure, who may have the procedure, who may not have the procedure, and all of whom live in a world that, at every turn—genuinely at every turn—is intent on dictating terms to women about their autonomy. This dictation takes many forms, from physical violence to legislation to “Well, but what about . . . ?”

    You may want to debate these things publicly from the very best intentions, from a desire to better your own understanding, from a desire to connect with a community, from a desire to help others understand, from a desire to raise attention to abuses against women.

    But that impulse to grapple with the abstract ultimately discards, discredits, or simply ignores the actual, real, varied, complex, and dynamic feelings, thoughts, understanding, and experiences of women and abortion.

    Almost two years ago, during a Pharyngula discussion about harassment policies at conventions, a fairly typical group of white, cis-gender, heterosexual men showed up in comments and playing the abstract “But what about?” game, which includes a tremendous amount of not paying attention to what women are saying in the very thread about issues facing women.

    So, I called attention to one of those posts as a person of significant privilege identifying another of privilege, and I invited that commenter to join me on the Bench of Shut The Fuck Up.

    And then I went and sat on the Bench of Shut The Fuck Up for about a year and a half. I would occasionally lurk, read posts, read comments during that time, but I didn’t post comments, until I returned back in November. There were several reasons that I did that, including a health issue, as well as other things going on in my life. But one of the reasons was that I was concerned I wasn’t doing a very good job paying attention in my privilege. Sometimes we need to go back to some basics and relearn a little bit about paying attention.

    So, to any of the particular cis-gender, white, heterosexual men who don’t seem to be doing a very good job paying attention to what Stephanie Zvan, SallyStrange, Giliell, Gen, and many other important people with important voices are saying in this and other threads about abortion, I am inviting you to voluntarily go spend some time sitting on the Bench of Shut The Fuck Up.

    There’s tons of room. Tons.

    It’s a little uncomfortable at first. After all, systems of privilege keeps wanting to hear from the privileged at the expense of those who don’t share those same privileges. But one of the features of the Bench of Shut The Fuck Up is that you can spend a lot of time paying attention, listening, and thinking about what you hear. Because it’s quiet.

    And there is power in quiet, when people of privilege embrace quiet so that others can get loud.

    Thanks for reading.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  136. Rey Fox says

    Do people spend anywhere near this much time considering the ethical consequences of bringing a new person into the world? Giving birth is far more significant than killing a mindless organism before it can experience and interact with the world. Now that we can control whether or not we make more people, we should consider any form of preventing birth to be ethically null and save our philosophical agonizing for the alternative and its aftermath.

    Quoted for great truth.

  137. blinncombs says

    One’s feelings, their expression, and the role they play in one’s deliberations are all (important!) aspects of decisional autonomy. The complaint is that Massimo is telling women how they should feel. Were that true, that would at least function to advocate a limit on women’s (ethical) decisional autonomy.

    And in answer to your question, Ms. Zvan, increasingly, yes.

  138. says

    No one is saying that emotion plays no part in decision-making. What is being said is that no one bothers to make that a “should” until they talk about women making decisions about their lady bits. See screechymonkey back at #101.

  139. screechymonkey says

    So what’s behind this notion of “I support your right to have an abortion, but you have to feel really really bad about it”?

    Is it some expression that “well, I’m pro-choice, but barely. I think this is a really really close call morally, and I demand that you recognize that”?

    Is it about making a big show of one’s own moral seriousness? “Well, I would never have an abortion, but I’ll allow you to make a different decision. But if you don’t at least act very sad about it I’ll think you’re a monster.”

    Is it about punishing the slutty slut sluts who have sex? “Ok, making you carry a fetus to term and raise or support a child for 18 years is a little harsh, but you deserve some punishment.”?

    Or something else? Or all of the above?

  140. says

    PZ @68:

    What, you thought Caledonian represented the commentariat here? I despised that guy. I think most everyone here did.

    I was young and naïve; I got better. Last I saw, he was still a gaping asshole.

  141. Maureen Brian says

    Hi, yubal!

    I’m glad that both you and your mother are here and are fine. Really.

    But for some of the people on this thread the first, sensible step would be to consider the experience of the women whose thinking they understand and of whose lives they know something.

    Whether or not to have an abortion is, first and foremost, a practical decision and matter of risk assessment. It’s one which has to be taken fairly quickly without resort to philosophy textbooks. In many cases, though, it will be taken on the basis of several millennia of having abortions, not having abortions and passing on knowledge.

    Like the others, I have limited patience with those who want to treat this as a new and completely unexamined question which, of course, requires some authority figure to write a couple of books about it. Women who need abortions haven’t got that much time to wait. Nor is there any sign that the book-writing and pontificating gets us any further on.

    As you got caught in the whiplash of my being this pissed off, I apologise.

  142. blinncombs says

    Ms. Zvan, again, that’s just false. Just to get a baseline, I’d invite you to do a quick google search of the phrase “should feel.” You’ll find that out discussions about how we ought to feel litter virtually every domain of lived experience. In fact, they’re a constant part of the displays that go on in this thread and ones like it. They’re recommendations that others feel guilt, pride, shame and the like for their different modes of comportment, and recommendations that those reactions are the proper reactions of rational and self-reflective people. By themselves, they obviously carry no weight, which is precisely why people offer up additional reasons in favor of their preferred reactions, which others are free to accept or reject for reasons they’re equally free to announce or keep to themselves.

    You’ve said nothing, though, to convince me that your remarks actually conflicted with Massimo’s post, or to convince me that your initial interpretation of that post was either correct or fair.

  143. says

    Of course nothing has convinced you, blinncombs. You, on the other hand, have convinced everyone here, from what I can tell, that nothing will convince you.

  144. screechymonkey says

    blinncombs @171:

    Please, you can’t possibly be so stupid as to think that the point under discussion is whether it’s ever appropriate to pass moral judgments, on any subject ever. You can’t possibly be that idiotic.

  145. says

    Let me tell you, if I found out that I was pregnant today, I’d be on the phone with Planned Parenthood on Monday to schedule an abortion. And no, I wouldn’t feel anything other than annoyance that my birth control had failed. I don’t see why I should torture myself about it– I don’t want to be pregnant and I do not want another kid, which are exactly the same reasons why I use hormonal birth control pills.

    I am such a monster.

  146. Maureen Brian says

    And do you not think, blinncombs, that one person saying “should” about what another person “feels” is in itself an attack on autonomy?

    Even if we were not all painfully aware, by experience, of how much such an assault is based on unsubstantiated bullshit about the supposed intellectual ability of women? A silly supposition which you can see disproved in this space every day of the week but then you don’t seem to want to see it.

    This is exactly the situation in which Desert Son elegantly recommends silence.

  147. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    So, that’s the question. Can the fetus suffer? Early term. Probably not. Late term: Probably.

    This may have been addressed already, but the oxygen levels in a pre-birth fetus’ brain are such as are known to be incompatible with consciousness in born humans. There is no particular reason to suppose an aborted fetus suffers.

    Ignoring, of course, the fact that late term abortions are a red herring for the reasons people have repeatedly stated and people who claim to be “pro-choice” should stop bringing them up.

  148. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I do take umbrage at your charge of intellectual dishonesty, though. If I say “some people think and say X”, and it’s a fact that some people do think and say X, there is absolutely nothing dishonest about it, regardless of what I actually think.

    It is still intellectually dishonest if this point is 1) made as if in response to another party’s argument and 2) obviously irrelevant to it, like here.

  149. says

    screechymonkey #167
    C by way of A, I’m pretty sure. They feel very morally conflicted about abortion because sluts should suffer, dammit, but they like to feel like worthwhile people instead of controlling misogynistic assholes, so they compromise on allowing it as long as those slutty slut sluts at least feel like they’re being punished.

    Desert Son #163
    Hear, hear!

    Blinncombs, Chas
    Disingenuous asshole is disingenuous. Also incredibly tedious, boorish and boring.

  150. A. Noyd says

    Azkyroth (#176)

    There is no particular reason to suppose an aborted fetus suffers.

    And even if one wants to suppose it, there is no reason to avoid comparing that supposed suffering to the inevitable suffering of the child the fetus will become without abortion.

    “In order to protect you from this one instance of suffering, I exposed you to a lifetime of it. You’re welcome.”

  151. Amphiox says

    The condescension in b-combs’ last couple of responses to Stephanie Zvan is thick enough to preserve fossils. Simply stomach turning.

  152. Louis says

    Screechymonkey wins the thread, the topic, and these biscuits all by comment #20. What more needs be said?

    Well, other than Chas needs to follow up on his hinting that he’ll actually, finally, achingly fuck most directly off. Oh wait, that can’t happen. Who else will bravely ride into battle, opposing the dominant hegemony of ideas here? Especially when those ideas touch on women being proper people with, like the ability to make their own decisions and shit…but wait! He’s totally pro women! He just thinks there are excellent, beard strokingly worthy arguments that they’re not fully human we’re not considering.

    Just remember, ladies, that when you’re killing puppies with your hysterical vaginas always use the correct Man Approved emotions with your appropriately argued uterus of important dehumanising claims. Or something.

    Louis

  153. lostintime says

    #176 Azkyroth

    This may have been addressed already, but the oxygen levels in a pre-birth fetus’ brain are such as are known to be incompatible with consciousness in born humans. There is no particular reason to suppose an aborted fetus suffers.

    I would err on the side of caution, that’s what doctors used to believe about new born infants.

    #170 A. Noyd

    And even if one wants to suppose it, there is no reason to avoid comparing that supposed suffering to the inevitable suffering of the child the fetus will become without abortion.

    Yes, and abortion also prevents the agony of child birth, so it prevents a great deal of suffering to the mother and possibly the fetus.

  154. Kroos Control says

    I think PZ fails to distinguish between death of people from natural causes and death from killing by someone else with his thing about spontaneous natural abortion .
    If a baby died of natural causes after being born , its sad , but not an ethical problem. If a baby died because someone killed it , it would be an ethical problem.

  155. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If a baby died because someone killed it , it would be an ethical problem.

    And KC, no babies are killed during abortions, except in your delusional presuppositional mind. Babies are born. A fetus isn’t and never will be baby under the normal definition of the word. Quit your lying and bullshitting.

  156. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Good thing we have Kroos Control around to tell us all what’s really going on. *koff*

  157. anteprepro says

    Slowclap for Kroos and his needless pedantry. I wonder if Kroos managed to crib that comment from billcraig also. Earning your fundie wings, ain’t ya, Kroos Con?

  158. Amphiox says

    We’re not talking about babies in this thread, KC. Your post is a waste of electrons.

  159. dianne says

    If abortion is a difficult moral decision, what are we to think about our society’s refusal to fund research into the causes and treatment of miscarriage? As many as 80% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. If abortion-any abortion including in the first few weeks of pregnancy when most occur- is a moral dilemma because of the “life” or “baby” being “killed”, then surely the miscarriage rate is a pandemic of horrific proportion. And we’re ignoring it. If we take the “pro-life” assumptions as true then EIGHT PERCENT of BABIES are dying in the first few weeks of life. What sort of monsters wouldn’t try to do something about that? Yet the best I’ve ever gotten a “pro-life” person to say is, “Yeah, wouldn’t it be nice if we could do something about that.” No “Right–abortion/murder may be morally worse, but this is where most of the deaths are–it’s no more right to ignore them than to ignore the black plague because murder hasn’t been ended. I’m forming the Committee to Prevent Miscarriage right now and starting to lobby congress for a new NIH division (or equivalent in other countries) tomorrow. ” Nope. Never. Doesn’t happen. Heck, they could still say they’re fighting abortion–spontaneous abortion. But, no. No interest at all. This to me demonstrates more clearly than anything else how much the “pro-life” movement is simply about controlling women and that at least the leaders of the “pro-life” movement have no interest in fetuses, embryos, or babies at all.

    Also, full disclosure: For me, in my current situation, abortion would be no dilemma at all. I don’t want to die and leave my partner, real living, breathing, thinking child, and 2 dogs without me. Certainly not in order to protect an embryo with no more brain cells than a tumor. (Actually, a well formed teratoma might have more brain cells than, say, a 5 week embryo…)

  160. dianne says

    @184: If a baby died of natural causes after being born , its sad , but not an ethical problem.

    Not a problem, huh? Then why did we waste all this money on curing childhood cancers (and a lot of them are curable now, as opposed to essentially none 50 years ago), preventing SIDS, developing vaccines, etc? Maybe because normal people with actual ethics think that it is a problem when babies and children die, even of “natural causes”? If you see no ethical problem there that says a lot about your morals and none of it good.

  161. dianne says

    Also, “sad”? It’s sad when a pet goldfish dies. When a baby dies it’s tragic! It’s amply clear that the “pro-life” movement is about controlling women, not saving “babies” but frankly I’d be terrified of the anti-choicers even if I believed that they respected the rights of the mother as much as the rights of the “child”–look how little they think of the fetus: they demonstrate no desire to protect it from even the simplest medical issues (just let the sick ones die-nice eugenic sentiment there) and dismiss the death with a little shrug and say it’s just “sad”.

  162. randay says

    Pro-Life is anti-woman. If men got pregnant, there would be no debate. If abortion becomes illegal, there will still be abortions and many women will be killed. Anti-abortionists are the behind the scenes killers, the accessories to murder. But if it concerns them, it is different as the case of pro-lifer congressman Scott Dejarlais:
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2012/10/scott-desjarlais-recorded-abortion-call-with-mistress.html

    He insisted that his mistress get an abortion, “You told me you’d have an abortion, and now we’re getting too far along without one,” DesJarlais tells the woman, according to a transcript of the recording obtained by HuffPo. “This is not fair to me. I don’t want you in my life,” the woman says. “Well, I didn’t want to be in your life either, but you lied to me about something that caused us to be in this situation, and that’s not my fault, that’s yours,” DesJarlais responds. The woman counters, “Well, it’s [your] fault for sleeping with your patient.”

    Would he be sentenced the same as his mistress if abortion were illegal. Not likely. Pro-lifers are low-life misogynists and totally hypocritical.

  163. says

    To decide to get an abortion is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step, precisely because it has significant ethical consequences.

    Oh bullshit. Why should it be difficult? Why should it be angst filled? Mine was so easy, quick, no hassle, no trouble. All I felt was relief. Went out to a nice lunch, then to the beach after mine.

  164. opposablethumbs says

    Right there with you, Inaji. Only strong emotions involved were a little anxiety beforehand for everything to go smoothly, which it did (being such a routine minor procedure and all), and HUGE relief afterwards. It felt great, in fact, to get my own body and life back.

  165. vaiyt says

    @192: It’s much like the anti-porn and anti-prostitution brigades. They don’t want to end either of those practices, they just want to push the working conditions down so women feel properly miserable while participating in them. Likewise, “pro-lifers” are not concerned about children (as evidenced by their callous disregard to their well-being after birth) OR want to prevent abortions, they just want the experience to be as hurtful as possible.

  166. anteprepro says

    randay:

    But if it concerns them, it is different as the case of pro-lifer congressman Scott Dejarlais:

    The Only Moral Abortion Is The Abortion I Force My Mistress To Have.

    At least they are consistently against women having choice. Because…yay, consistency…

  167. Wylann says

    blinncombs, I don’t know if you’re aware, but there are a couple of ‘tells’ in your posts. You explicitly left out the ‘emotional’ bit of the PM quote, and you continued to ignore it for quite some time while responding to other points, and even after responding, you finally address it by telling those who feel it is an important point that (and this is kind of important, and supportive of PZ’s and Stephanie’s point in the whole) that it is not important.

    Bullshit, the ‘emotion’ part is kinda the whole fucking point. You are committing the same error, and being a condescending twit to boot, by telling others what isn’t important, when it clearly is to them, and apparently enough for PM to explicitly mention it.

    You don’t get to tell others what is or isn’t important to them, anymore than PM does. Fuck, I’m beginning to think you’re a PM sock.

    Also, Stephanie’s point conflicts 100% with what PM is saying. The fact that you keep going on bleating that she really agrees with him shows you’re either hard of thinking, or lying. I will use me and my wife as an example:

    Way back when, my (then girlfriend) and I had a discussion about this. Neither of us wanted kids (ever). It was one of the things that attracted us to each other. We used birth control (on occasion, multiple types) and took precautions, but we both agreed up front that if she became pregnant, she would have an abortion. Actually, she said she would before we ever even started dating, and wouldn’t sleep with me unless I was ok with it, anyway. And no, it wasn’t ‘blackmail’, so you can derail that thought trolley right now. We had the discussion long before we even started dating.

    The point is, we agreed to that course of action, in advance, to eliminate or reduce the emotional aspect of it, which runs 100% counter to what you, and PM, are asserting. That is a very important (and not very subtle, I would think) point that you continually seem to be missing.

    Desert Son, I’m agree that most of us (cis, male, regardless of race) should be sitting on the bench paying attention. Unfortunately, many of the hard of thinking here refuse to listen to the wimmens becuase…reasons probably having to do with pink fluffy ladybrains….unless someone they recognize as an “authority” speaks. They don’t even recognize their own blindness in that respect.

    Now I’m going to try and sit on the BoSTFU (great analogy, BTW) and not punch some well deserving dudebros…

  168. blinncombs says

    “Reading comprehension” is a phrase that gets bandied around here quite a bit, but part of reading comprehension involves the ability to discriminate between different possible interpretations of other people’s remarks, and especially when interpretive charity is warranted. I’ve attempted to show that MP’s single quoted remark is, in the context of his longer post, most charitably interpreted as stating no more than that judgments about abortion are (and should be) complex and involve complex emotional considerations. His writing (in that one particular sentence) was sloppy, and he has admitted as much.

    But of course, the claim was not charitably construed, and the brunt of the post was ignored entirely. Instead, we have an accusation that MP was really “try(ing) to dictate how women ought to feel about abortion.” Problematically, a brief perusal of the original post should have been sufficient to dispel this notion, which was set in motion by Ms. Zvan’s post, which was in turn both deeply uncharitable and intellectually sloppy.

    Of course, the problem with such intellectually shallow approaches isn’t just that they tend to misrepresent what others are saying. Much worse, it’s that they destroy civil dialogue. But of course anybody can have their fun with such games. So when PZ claims that ending an unwanted pregnancy “ught to be an easy decision, except, of course, for the weight of tradition and guilt artificially imposed on us,” is he rightly construed as “try(ing) to dictate how women ought to feel about abortion?” When he says that “getting pregnant ought to be a difficult and emotional step” is he similarly dictating the terms of woman’s feelings? Of course not. Do his comments about “tradition and guilt” demonstrate that he is either lying about or wilfully misrepresenting well-known secular arguments against the morality of (to say nothing of the political right to) abortion? It would be utterly uncharitable to read him that way (but of course, there’s nothing preventing some twit from doing so).

    But of course, there are aspects to his post that one can both charitably interpret and criticize. So for example, he could only miss MP’s (admittedly brief) discussion of the significant ethical consequences” of abortion by not actually reading the post. And the comment about spontaneous abortion is a non-sequitur, for the obvious reason that spontaneous abortions aren’t in any obvious way the product of human decisions. (Whether or not we find them ethically significant is just a separate issue.)

    Finally, as to the supposed condescension of my posts, I hope that is only a reflection of my attempt to be fully explicit about what I am claiming and why. I realize that quite a bit of the talk here is fast, loose, and generally insulting. But the prevalence of bad habits is not a good argument in their favor.

  169. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Of course, the problem with such intellectually shallow approaches isn’t just that they tend to misrepresent what others are saying. Much worse, it’s that they destroy civil dialogue.

    Then why don’t you rectify the situation by quoting the relevant passages that show MP isn’t dictating how women should feel, rather than reiterating “read the original”. Not everybody here has time to read everything, and you do your argument a benefit with the appropriate quotes.
    Also, tone trolling by saying civil discourse is discouraged here. The discourse will be what it is, and often “civil discourse” means Vulcanize everything and treat it as an intellectual exercise, instead of recognizing an emotional response to being condescended to is not out of line.

  170. Amphiox says

    Much worse, it’s that they destroy civil dialogue.

    The thing that destroys discourse more than any other is the insistence that it must remain civil, even when the subject matter is such that incivility is perfectly appropriate.

    You blather about “civil discourse”. Which part is more important to you, pray tell, the “civil” part, or the “discourse”?

    Finally, as to the supposed condescension of my posts, I hope that is only a reflection of my attempt to be fully explicit about what I am claiming and why.

    Instead of “hoping”, perhaps you should make some actual effort to stop being so condescending? Because @198 sure doesn’t suggest that you are bothering to try all that hard.

  171. Al Dente says

    blinncombs @

    Finally, as to the supposed condescension of my posts, I hope that is only a reflection of my attempt to be fully explicit about what I am claiming and why. I realize that quite a bit of the talk here is fast, loose, and generally insulting. But the prevalence of bad habits is not a good argument in their favor.

    There’s nothing “supposed” about your condescension. You make it quite plain, even in the paragraph quoted above, that you feel superior to the Pharyngula regulars. The interesting thing is we feel superior to you because you’re tone trolling. You might want to stop your own bad habits before you complain about ours.

  172. blinncombs says

    Nerd, the relevant paragraph, of which the offending original sentence has been edited:

    ” Are these arguments sufficient to justify forceful state interventions on women’s bodily integrity, under any circumstances? Very likely not. But plenty of countries (including the US) do already regulate, for instance, late term abortion, noting the ethical complexity of the issue and of course making room for a number of special circumstances, usually having to do with the health of the mother. Morally, should the decision to abort not be the subject of serious consideration, at the least on the part of the mother? After all, Dave didn’t say anything about legislation, he simply stated that the case of abortion is ethically more complicated than that of minority rights or Church-State separation. Seems to me that this is a no brainer: since abortion involves more than one life, and there is a marked difference in the consequences of a given decision for the two parties, the issue is thornier than others, and it ought to be so for secularists also. To decide to get certain types of abortion* (say, last trimester) is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step, precisely because it has significant ethical consequences. There is no equivalent to that in, say, deciding whether to allow gay couples to marry or not, as a moment’s reflection should make clear.”

    Even with the original sentence restored, it’s clear that he’s making a claim about the relative complexity of different kinds of moral judgment. Of course, it’s possible to disagree, but it’s just silly to say that his real goal is to dictate the terms of how women feel about abortion.

  173. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Seems to me that this is a no brainer: since abortion involves more than one life, and there is a marked difference in the consequences of a given decision for the two parties, the issue is thornier than others, and it ought to be so for secularists also.

    Prima facie evidence of condescending attitude. It is not up to him to tell others what they must think about. But rather shut the fuck up and back their decisions without question.

  174. blinncombs says

    “It is not up to him to tell others what they must think about. But rather shut the fuck up and back their decisions without question.”

    An excellent mantra for the freethought movement….

  175. chigau (違う) says

    Wait
    now there is a “freethought movement”?
    I didn’t get the memo.
    So many Movements™, so little time.

  176. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Notice lurkers how Blinn#205 defines “freethought” as agreeing with them and their idiocy using an authoritarian style argument. I use the definition of “freethought” that eschews “authority” (Blinns, MPs, and PZs), focuses on the evidence, and what I conclude based on the evidence. Freethought is not listening to alleged authorities and bowing down to their wishes, but making my own mind up. Why is that so hard for some alleged skeptics to understand and accept????

  177. omnicrom says

    Why is that so hard for some alleged skeptics to understand and accept????

    Oh that one’s easy, when you uncritically assume you’re unilaterally correct in every way the only possible remaining explanations for disagreement is that it comes either from unthinking sheeple marching in lockstep or idiots who can’t comprehend your majesty. It’s like theists who claim that everyone actually secretly knows their religion is the correct and just religion but choose consciously to rebel against their god. When you start from the position that you are absolutely, self-evidently right and cannot possibly be wrong it’s easy to sneer when people at “Freethought Blogs” disagree with you.