This is the fourth, and I hope the final, part of a multi-part answer to Andrew Haslam’s post Ten Questions For Pro-Choice People. Part 1 is here and will link to the other parts (they’re also written sequentially so you can just click ‘Next Post’ each time to read them in order). Without wishing to be hidebound by convention, I would recommend starting with Part 1 as it explains some key points about why I hold my beliefs.
The questions are in reverse order; I hope to cover 3, 2 and 1 in this post.
One other issue. I’ve spent a lot of time in these posts so far referring to pregnant women, or to women affected by these laws. Which might seem obvious to you… except that transgender people exist, and some of these are trans men or genderqueer people who have uteruses and ovaries and hence can get pregnant, which means that, when I talk about pregnant people as ‘women’, I’m ignoring groups of people who are also part of the debate. I was aware that this is a problem, but was ignoring it for the not very good reason that I didn’t want to deal with a lot of argument about it in the comments. Given that I literally still have a post up on my ‘recent posts’ sidebar about the importance of transgender visibility, this was hypocritical of me. I apologise.
So, for this post, I have tried to use gender-neutral terms to describe people who are pregnant. And I still don’t want to deal with a lot of argument about it in the comments. So: transphobia will be deleted, whinging about political-correctness-gone-mad or anything along that line will be deleted, and what does or doesn’t fall into those categories will be at my discretion. Genuine questions (that is, not questions that are thinly-disguised point-scoring/JAQing-off attempts) on the subject should be OK, but I’d prefer it if we didn’t get too far off the original topic.
3. Why are abortion laws based on viability outside the womb?
As ‘background history of time limits in UK abortion law’ is one of the rather small list of Obscure Subjects About Which I Actually Know Something, I seized on this question with glee and wrote a whole essay on how it was that our abortion time limits came to be based on viability. As interesting as I found this, it was rather lengthy for something that isn’t really addressing what you meant by your question, so eventually I saved it elsewhere in case I wanted to use it in the future and cut it out of this post. You’re welcome.
What you’re actually asking here, of course, isn’t what the backstory is of how the limit was chosen, but why we have a limit that is, as you put it, ‘blurry and arbitrary’. This is something I covered in the last part of my answer to question 9; time limits typically are based on reasons that are blurry and arbitrary because development rarely presents us with clear-cut and obvious points, but that doesn’t mean that we throw time limits out of the window altogether.
You’re not objecting to the viability time limit because you want to propose one that you think is better. You’re not objecting because you want to do away with time limits altogether and declare abortion legal at any stage of the pregnancy. You’re objecting because you’re against abortion at any stage of the pregnancy. I’ve already explained why that belief is one with which I can’t agree.
2. Why do we fight to save the lives of disabled and premature babies?
While I do not like to put words in people’s mouths, I’m going to go out on a limb here and deduce that this is not actually your question. You’re not questioning why we fight to save the lives of babies. You’re questioning why we don’t apply that same reason to fetuses of similar gestation.
Again, this goes back to my reply to question 10 (same link as above). When we fight to save the lives of babies – or people of any age – we don’t do so by expecting one particular person to make prolonged use of their own internal organs to do so regardless of the impact that that’s going to have on their health and circumstances. Most of us don’t believe that doing so would be OK. (When someone volunteers to be an organ donor, that’s wonderful; but it’s not something we think it right to force unwilling people to do, even to save lives.)
While on the subject of abortions taking place this close to the viability limit, it’s always worth remembering how serious some of the reasons for these abortions can be. Andreas Avester, on this site, has just written a lengthy post about the impacts that hardline ‘pro-life’ stances can have on people in terrible situations, and, while it does not make easy reading – the stories described are truly distressing – it is well worth reading for anyone who wants to understand more about why pro-choicers have a problem with the aims of the pro-life movement.
1. Why is there a double standard at work here, in which we stay quiet about abortion while mourning miscarriage?
Because of the impact of pro-life reactions to abortion discussions. Firstly, abortion is heavily stigmatised; it’s hard to talk about having had an abortion when you never know (or know all too well) who’s going to consider you a child murderer. Secondly, there’s the problem I described in my reply to question 5; pro-lifers have a long history of using people’s reactions to their abortions, whether positive or negative, as fuel for anti-abortion arguments, and many people do not want their experiences used in this way.
I would love a situation where this was different, where people who had had abortions could talk freely about their experiences without stigma or shame or fear, where people who were devastated by the experience yet still felt it to have been the right choice could talk openly about their pain and receive sympathy for it without receiving criticism or seeing their experience warped to fit an anti-abortion narrative, where people who were pleased or relieved to have been able to abort an unwanted pregnancy could speak openly about this without being branded as selfish or unfeeling or cold-hearted. Sadly, that isn’t the world we live in.
Last year we had the tragic experience of losing a little boy at 15 weeks. […] Anyone who has felt sadness about a miscarriage feels that way precisely because it is the loss of life.
I’m very sorry for your loss, and understand that this is likely to be a difficult topic for you. Please understand that, when I disagree with you, it is in no way because I wish to dismiss your or your wife’s feelings about your own loss or your own grief.
I do, however, think that this is about more than just ‘a loss of life’. Miscarriage of a wanted pregnancy typically means the loss of the parents’ dream of having this baby, and that is also a powerful reason for grief. When an infertile person who has never been pregnant/fathered a pregnancy grieves the loss of their dream of parenthood, is their grief any less because no loss of life was involved?
I’ll never forget the woman who attended our emergency clinic during my gynaecology attachment with suspected miscarriage; she’d started bleeding after thinking she had a positive pregnancy test after a long period of trying unsuccessfully to conceive. But the ultrasound scan showed no sign of the uterine thickening that would be typical after even an early miscarriage, and we had to gently break it to her that there was no sign of her having been pregnant in the first place. To this day I can remember her face crumpling, the way she struggled to say something but then turned and fled. I don’t think that that woman went home that night feeling that her shattered dream wasn’t a problem because no actual loss of life was involved.
Finally, of course, there is the question of people who don’t feel sadness about a miscarriage. Many people feel deeply relieved by miscarriage of an unwanted pregnancy. It seems problematic to me to treat reactions to miscarriage as some sort of barometer of objective fetal worth.
Anyway… that’s it. Ten questions, ten answers, for what they’re worth. I’ll add the links of the later posts to the first post I made, and e-mail Andrew Haslam to let him know the discussion exists. Thank you to all those of you who read and who joined in.
As usual typing very late in my night / early morn and probly running low on patience a bit here.
They are? Are they?
My understanding is they are – or should be – based on something quite different :
The right to bodily autonomy of people who all have the right to control what happens to their bodies inside and out. Including whether they can be forced to be pregnant and give birth against their wishes or not.
Viability of the zygote / embryo / fetus is really irrelevant to that.
Again an irrelevance and, again, a misuse of words to frame the anti-legal abortyon (Forced Birther) narative.
You keep on using the word “baby” I do not think it means what you think it means. / Inigo Montoya voice.
Because these are totally different things that have only their age demographuic in common and there is thus no double standard. Not any more than there is with, say, adult hospital patients with a terminal illness seeking euthanasia or pallitive care versus ones with cureable illnesses or injuries seeking to be saved and cured from those. The questioner here is trying to compare apples with firetrucks.
Feel free to send him my responses in these comments and please do edit them to fix the worst of my typos if you don’t mind. I am somewhat morbidly curious to his replies.
I also wonder how he would answer 10 such similar reverse questions if we were to put them in our framing for him?
Like, oh, say these – and feel free to add / consider more :
1) Do you accept that all people including women and trans men have the full right to bodily autonomy – in other words to decide what happens to their bodies including inside their bodies?
2) Does anyone ever have the right to compel others to remain preganant and be forced to give birth against their wishes and, if so, a) who, b) why and c) on what basis precisely?
3) If unwanted children are born that aren’t wanted sometimes at the cost of the life if the person giving birth to them, what will you personally do and b) what do you think realistically will happen to them during the remainder of their entire lives IOW after the births; c) do you take any responsibilty or care for the victims of your policies and the multitide of potential negative consequences for the children and parents alike caused by the lack of abortions?
4) Given the past history of abortion being illegal and its deadly consequences and lack of an end to actual abortion, do you see that abortion is better done legalised and under proper supervision rather than illegally with a greater loss of life as a result? (b) How can you call your side “pro-life” when what you advocate for would based on history and reality result in more death and suffering not less?
5) Are there any circumstances in which you accept abortion is the right choice – for instance i) a dead or doomed unviable fetus, ii) a child pregant by rape, a medical emergency in which the parents life is jeopardy, iii) a hypothetical time traveller who is aware the future baby literally will become a new Trump, Bin Laden, Fred Phelps or equally destructive exemplar of evil, etc ..
6) Do you understand the basic biology of human reproduction and that can you then define for us in your own words what the difference is between a zygote , embryo, fetus and baby are and at which point in a preganancy it is appropriate to use each of these terms respectively?
7) Which Bible / Torah / Quaran (or significant religious text of choice) verses specifically refer to abortion directly and who actually wrote them? (b) Given the context of those past times with their technoogical and scientific ignorance versus ours why should we look to them as a guide to our present circumstances?
8) Choice. What part of that word do you not understand? If you would obect to our choices being imposed on you then what do youthink gives you the right to impose your choices upon others? (‘Do unto others ringing no metaphorical bells here?)
9) If men could get pregnant would you truly still oppose abortion and how can you make that decision being unqualified in understanding the experiential reality of being potentially or actually pregnant. If you, personally, were in the positions of others; say the ones referred to in question (5) here do you really think you would reject or not be tempted by the prospect of having a termination? b) If no, how can you know and how can demonstrate that you are serious about such answers?
10) How does he (& other anti-legal abortion people) respond to the points and Bible verses raised by Betty Bowers in her clip here :
Admittedly that last one (okay & a lot of the others too!) probably should count as a lot more than just one question and I ‘spose they may find it offensive but still .. Aggressive, no holds barred questions there really I’ll admit but it would be interesting to see if Haslam or others would make genuine attempts at answering those.
PS. About question 1 – the one Haslam asked here :
We “stay quiet?” We ..do .. what now!? Really? Oh if only that were so and there weren’t y’know all those anti-choice people including many powerful leaders and law-makers doing anything but “stay quiet” and actively trying to return abortion to its illegal backalley days. Just .. wow. Again the way these questions are framed .. Sheesh.
“We” who I guess? I presume he means pro-choice people as if not possible for them (us & everyone) to both mourn miscarriages and abortions alike or feel relief or any mixture of emotions at each of those, again, very different things.
Andreas Avester says
In Latvia elective abortion is legal for the first 12 weeks. Abortion for health reasons (with doctor’s approval) is legal between 12th and 22nd week.
When a pregnancy loss occurs naturally, the term “spontaneous abortion” is used only up until the 22nd week. After that, the term “premature delivery” is used instead.
Here’s the interesting part: If a pregnancy must be terminated by doctors for health reasons after 22nd week or if the fetus weighs at least 500 grams, then it is legally classified as a premature delivery and the child is classified as “stillborn.” Thus, according to statistics, in Latvia there are no abortions after 22nd week. In reality, of course, a pregnancy can turn out to be non-viable and the fetus can die at any point. If continuing a pregnancy is dangerous for the pregnant person’s health or if the fetus turns out to be incompatible with life, inducing a premature delivery is legally allowed.
I actually like how in Latvia the word “abortion” isn’t used when talking about advanced pregnancies that must be terminated for health reasons. The phrase “late-term abortion” has plenty of negative connotations. I suspect that grieving parents who just lost their child probably feel better if they can instead talk about their experience with terms that are used for stillbirths. Moreover, this way uneducated pro-life advocates cannot talk nonsense about how perfectly healthy babies are getting murdered even after 22nd week for no good reason.
Also, when it comes to inevitable and incomplete miscarriages, in Latvia doctors treat those rationally. They accept that the fetus is doomed and fetal heartbeat cannot be a reason for denying appropriate medical care for the pregnant person. Local abortion laws and their limitations about when an abortion is legally allowed do not get applied to such cases. Thus even if doctors artificially remove a fetus that still has a heartbeat after an incomplete miscarriage, legally this is still classified as a miscarriage and not an abortion.
Did… did question 2 just group disabled offspring and premature births with UNWANTED pregnancies?
This is not a serious question. This is a reckless mix-up of different heavy subjects made in a cheap attempt to bait pro-choicers into making some vague hypocrisy.
@ ^ Orion : Yes, yes it did and well spotted.
One extra question for the list of return ten (plus) questions back to the anti-legal abortion side (maybe replacing my previous question 8 if needs be since that’s kinda implictly covered in some of the other questions & perhaps excessively hostile in tone?) :
What penalties do you think are appropriate for women who have abortions and do you agree with those on the anti-legal abortion side who actually go as far as calling for the death penalty for women and Doctors who perform terminations. Like, in actual proposed new legal bills even :
Note a seconds google search finds a similar bill in Texas proposed by Republican Rep. Tony Tinderholt in January 2019 which also at least in principle allows women ewhohave abortions to be executed. Pro life huh? (NBC news online /texas-lawmakers-consider-death-penalty-women-who-get-abortions-n993171 by Dartunorro Clark published April 11, 2019, 5:40 AM ACST by Dartunorro Clark.)
Apologies if I’m hogging the thread here but think that one is worth adding as well.
Let me again thank you for your insights, they challenge my thinking. I would like to think I am one of your pro-life exceptions rather than fit your stereotype. Do those harmful attitudes you’ve mentioned exist within the pro-life movement? Yes, although from my perspective, there are not as many as you think. I also think it’s unfair when people vilify pregnancy counseling centers for the work they have done. Why wouldn’t they try to advise pregnant mothers of the wrongs that they see and point to the benefits of having a baby. Abortion rates have been dropping in the US from as high as 1,364,000 in 1996 to 850,000 in 2017 (last available stat). Why? Who gets credit for that?
Can we recognize the issues of women who are pregnant, yes and we should all do a better job at that. I’ve seen a lot of the reasons listed for why women want an abortion. But all of those reasons existed even before the woman got pregnant. There is still an innocent life present that comes as a result of intercourse and conception. You can argue and debate all you want about when it becomes human but the medical and scientific fact remains that life begins at conception. We’ve changed to a legal definition in order to justify abortion, but medically and scientifically speaking, life begins at conception. If you don’t want to get pregnant, then couples need to alter their behavior or make sure conception doesn’t happen.
I want to dwell on this issue of guilt and shame that you bring up. You have pointed out many of the faults on the pro-life side. Are we guilty of those things? If the shoe fits, yes and we should own up to it. Now we have a multitude of laws in our country and if we violate those laws, we are guilty and need to own up to it. If we say “it’s bad to make us feel guilty about something we’ve done wrong” then what’s the point of having a law. So, what we now do is to work to change laws to make things that were wrong now ok. We saw alcohol as bad and prohibited it, but we legalized consumption so now it’s ok and we are reaping a host of physical health, mental health and traffic issues connected with the irresponsible use of it. We’ve seen pornography as bad but let them hide behind the first amendment and now it has become rampant and is a root cause to many of the sexual crimes as well as personal and marital relationship problems we face today. We’ve seen marijuana as bad but some states have reversed their laws to allow it and we are seeing consequences of that. Unfortunately, our culture keeps pushing promiscuous sexuality further and further, in music, movies, novels and especially over the internet. From a man’s perspective, would you say that 80-90% of where a man learns about sex is from pornography? I would. Unfortunately, that’s where I learned about it. I love my dad, but he never sat me down and instructed me as I should have been. So, we saw abortion as wrong but then changed the law to allow it and we have seen 60 million abortions since 1973 and tell women and men that it is ok not to feel guilty about that.
Throughout all of the issues you bring up, most prevalent is the character of sin. We are all broken, you, me, all of your followers. And we are people living in a broken world, that is not going to change. I have my issues and faults as well. Being in the teaching and coaching profession as long as I have, I have come to realize that although the majority may have approved of how I did my job, there were those who did not and may have even resented me or hated me. I did the best job with my career as I could and I enjoyed everything I did. But I wasn’t perfect by any means
However, the good news is that despite all the bad happening, God helps us with our guilt by forgiving our sins. God doesn’t change the laws, but he pays for the penalty of violating those laws through his son: Jesus. That’s the hope that we can grab ahold of. And I’m talking about a real God and an historically accurate Jesus. Enough evidence to convince me and many others and yet, lacking just enough for me to just put my faith in what I see. You can point out all of the “fallen saints you like, but that doesn’t change the character of who Jesus is. Don’t judge a worldview by its followers or it’s abuse, judge it by its founder, Jesus
Christians need to do a better job at educating and helping women (and men) understand their roles and responsibilities. Changing the culture and the concerns of women needs to be done from the bottom up and not the top down. If you don’t like what you see in the pro-life movement, don’t abandon it, work to change it.
Then on the other hand, how about China’s policy of forced abortions after one child. This is a direction I see that western cultures could also go in order to “save the earth”.
A. Noyd says
You’re nowhere close to an exception.
“but the medical and scientific fact remains that life begins at conception” ← typical forced-birther lie
“If you don’t want to get pregnant, then couples need to alter their behavior or make sure conception doesn’t happen.” ← typical forced-birther sex shaming
“our culture keeps pushing promiscuous sexuality further and further” ← more typical forced-birther sex shaming
“we saw abortion as wrong but then changed the law to allow it and we have seen 60 million abortions since 1973” ← typical forced-birther refusal to accept that criminalizing abortion doesn’t prevent it
And then there’s this:
As a religious concept, sin should have no place in telling me what I, an atheist, can and can’t do with my own body. Let it inform your own behavior if you wish, but keep your weird superstitions about crimes against your non-existent god away from me.
You’re just straight up proselytizing here. Sorry, but Jesus isn’t out here enforcing his worldview on pregnant people; his followers are. We’ll judge them accordingly.
Why are the abortion stats dropping in the USA? Part of the credit goes to the emergency contraception that keeps an egg from being fertilized. This is the pill that anti-choicers have been fighting to keep women from getting–even 9-year-old victims of gang rape are told to just suck it up, if they get pregnant, it’s God’s will for them, and if the pregnancy kills them, it’s too-bad, so-sad for them. (Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, said much the same thing–if endless pregnancies weaken and kill a woman, so what? It’s what she’s there for. So much for the term “pro-life”.)
Another reason the stats are dropping is that anti-choice people have blown up a number of clinics and legislatively closed others. The Jezebel article has been quoted many times here, about women with pregnancies incompatible with life, who have to fly thousands of miles and spend tens of thousands of dollars to seek help. The few people who can help them work at risk of their very lives.
The “crisis pregnancy centers” are infamous for lying to women about how far along they are in their pregnancy, for lying to women about the effects of pregnancy on the body, for lying to women about the support they’re willing to provide the woman to financially afford a pregnancy and ensuing child (usually none). I’m confused as to why anyone would be proud to support a group that does nothing but lie and manipulate women, but apparently you are.
As for a blastocyst/zygote/embryo/fetus being “innocent”; it’s can’t be innocent and it can’t be guilty. It can’t be anything, because it lacks the brain and nervous system to be anything. It can’t be “innocent” any more than an acorn or a bag of flour can be innocent. Even a newborn baby can’t be innocent or guilty of anything. Calling it such is just manipulative.
Also, you seem to be under the impression that the particular type of deity you choose to worship is the deity that everyone chooses to worship. It’s not. Even in your own bible, your deity claims it’s jealous and demands nobody who follows it, follows any other deities. Your deity’s laws apply to you for as long as you choose, but you can’t use your deity’s rules to apply to everyone. Were you even aware that your diety provides a recipe for abortions and encourages men to force these abortions on their wives if the men are jealous? Are you aware that any number of times, your deity instruction its followers to kill entire villages of people, even the children and “suckling babes”? It doesn’t sound like your diety has any particular care about “innocent” lives.
Followers of your diety are infamous for bombing women’s health care clinics and harassing women seeking care–even women going for cancer screenings and assistance in conceiving risk their health and their life from your deity’s followers who hurl abuse and pipe bombs indiscriminately. Pregnant women seeking routine pregnancy care have been maimed and killed by your tribe, who then go on to wail about the sanctity of the “innocent” they just obliterated.
Yannoupoika seems to be under the impression that abortion never existed until 1973, when the US passed Roe Vs. Wade. Abortion has existed for as long as people understood what a pregnancy was. It existed in every culture and every time the world has ever seen. The Puritans who came to America were perfectly fine with a woman aborting until “the time of quickening”. The only sin was having a baby outside of marriage, which of course only reflected badly on the woman and never on the man. I suspect one of the things that outrages the anti-choice people is that if a woman aborts, there is no baby as punishment for sex.
In addition to a lack of knowledge of US history, Yannoupoika seems woefully uneducated about world history and cultures. The reason the USA leads the developed world in unwanted pregnancies is the fundamentalist-informed legal strategies of withholding sex education and access to safe contraception.
What happens to society when pregnancy is forced is obvious in Ceaucescu’s Romania, where actual, living children by the thousands were abandoned by their overwhelmed families to orphanages that were so underfunded and poorly staffed that the results were unspeakable and an entire generation of human beings were left permanently, horrifically stunted both physically and mentally…deprived of food, love, and attention.
To yannoupoika @7:
Reasons for drop in abortions over time: – better birth control; – better awareness and access to birth control; – better sex education; – the generation of young people is doing better on many parameters – lower crime, lower drug use, later initiation of sexual activity, more consistent use of contraception – it is a generation with better judgment than the previous several ones (while being more secular than any previous generation). Whether that’s because education is better, lead exposure in childhood has lessened or because many of the kids who would have grown up to be less responsible were aborted I have no idea. Probably a combination of multiple reasons.
BTW on the one hand you speak of ‘innocent life’ and on the other you speak of how ‘broken’ all humans are. How about you make up your mind?
Andreas Avester says
Well, a very generous interpretation of this quote could be that yannoupoika recommends people to use birth control. Granted, I am not naïve, and I sort of assume that this is not what they meant.
Obviously, birth control exists and it would be better if people who do not want children used contraceptives. Unfortunately, hardly any birth control method is 100% effective. On average, among fertile people who use birth control and regularly have sex, about 5% will get pregnant within the first 12 months. Never mind that some people get pregnant after rape or when their abusive partner sabotages their contraceptives.
Even people who are careful and try to use contraceptives sometimes need an abortion.
Personally, I have known that I want to remain childfree for a very long time, I already knew it on the day when I had sex for the first time. Christians typically tell people like me to choose between lifelong abstinence or mandatory parenthood. Both would be terrible.
1. Lifelong abstinence would really suck. Firstly, a person cannot choose to become asexual. Secondly, Christians have a tendency to discriminate people who actually are asexual anyway. Besides, some people who want to remain childfree choose to get married. A marriage between two straight non-asexual people both of whom want sex and no kids would be really weird if they had to practice abstinence. They’d probably have to stick to oral sex. Or maybe also anal sex if they were super careful about making sure that no sperm ever spills anywhere near the vagina.
2. Mandatory parenthood would be just as terrible. Personally, I don’t like to spend time with children until they are old enough for intellectual conversations. A small child would suffer if they had to live with a parent who hates being in the same room with their child. Given my personality, it would be irresponsible for a person like me to create children knowing that I would be a terrible parent.
In the country where I happen to live, sterilization surgeries are legal for everybody who is at least 25 years old with their written consent. As soon as I turned 25, I scheduled an appointment with a surgeon. Only to get kicked out of her office. I spent two years talking with a bunch of surgeons until I finally found one who agreed to sterilize me. It’s thanks to Christian activism that so many doctors refused me the surgery I needed.
Any rational person who truly wants to reduce the number of abortions would agree that people who want to sterilize themselves should be able to access this procedure. Now that some of my internal reproductive organs have been surgically removed, I cannot create biological children. Thus I will never have an abortion in my life. Pro-life activists should be happy about what I chose to do with my body—after all, I will never abort any fetus. But no, they are the ones who oppose sterilization procedures or even non-permanent birth control.
“Let’s save the babies” is just an excuse for pro-life advocates. In reality, instead of caring about children, they want to police other people’s sex lives.
Re: Question #3:
Laws vary between countries. In Israel, where I grew up and lived until my mid-30s, the law allows abortions on the same grounds whether early or late in pregnancy. Fewer hospitals are allowed to perform abortions past the 24th week of pregnancy, but then demand for pregnancies that late is also low. BTW while the number of abortions performed per year in Israel remains roughly constant (despite an increasing population) the number of hospitals that perform abortions has increased over the last few decades, including the number of hospitals that perform abortions past the 24th week.
@ 7. yannoupoika : You seem to be ignoring my earlier reply to you here. To be (very?) charitable perhaps you didn’t see it but if you are still commenting here as it seems then I would like your thought and answers to my questions here :
1) What context exactly changes the actual meaning of the words and verses specifically cited in the Betty Bowers abortion video and how precisely?
2) When you say “chaste” what exactly do you mean by that? Do you really support the whole idea of abstinence policies and that approach because that’s been tried and the stats and verdict on that is decisively in. Pr/Teaching abstinence /”chasteness” doesn’t work and only makes things worse.
3) What do you mean by “sexual morals are so loose ..” precisely? It seems to me that sexual morals have improved and are continuing to improve at least in many countries and cultures influenced positively by Feminism to the extent that women are now no longer treated as property and the emphasis has shifted to consenting adults which is more ethical and less toxic and harmful isn’t it?
Now addressing your comment here, yannoupoika :
To be honest, so far no you’re no exception at all – although I am glad that you are finding your thinking challenged and hope you grapple with the questions raised with you here honestly.
i think # 9 Katydid above answers that one very well & will just second that reply.
Er, having an unviable fetus / embryo that is either doomed or poses a threat to parent’s safety or both? I don’t think that reason existed before pregnancy and other reasons eg financial and emotional issues for raising a child can develop as cirumstances change incl. after a pregnancy. So, no.
Couples need to? Revealing word choice once more. You assume (& judge) too much there. Rape being an obvious counter example as well as cases where precautions are taken but for whatever reason fail.
Because The Prohibition was a disaster and made things much worse. Do you not know about that?
You then refer to the use of cannabis and other unrelated issues grouping in a lot of irelevant topics simply because you judge them somehow to prove something about abortion which, no I really don’t think they do. But if they did; if you really want to draw a long bow using analogies, then we can say that just as making alcohol illegal was a failure and didn’t fix things so too for abortion which if you look at history on this subject you’ll see that having abortion made illegal neither stops it happening nor helps things generally.
And rightly so. Women and men should NOT be made to feel guilty for having abortions if they need them. Also, your argument is similar to saying :
“So, we saw same sex marriage as wrong but then changed the law to allow it and we have seen a lot of happy same sex couples finally get equal rights, no harm done to anyone and now tell women and men that it is ok not to feel guilty about that.”
So, we (specifically some rich and powerful elite eg the pre & during Confederate era South) saw
abortionslavery as wrongright but then later we learnt better and changed the law to allowabolish it and we saw the US Civil War fought to end it and have since started to understand how evil slavery was.
Do you see what I’m getting at here? Just because people in the past thought something was wrong – or right – don’t make it so. Usually, the people in the past were acting based on ideas and beliefs we now know weren’t right esp when it comes to ethics. Indeed, as recently as the 1970’s marital rape was legal and Indigenous children were being taken from their famiiles in Australia so what people then thought about abortion is really NOT that relevant or likely to be accurate or ethical.
Sin is a nonsense concept limited to Christanity which is not relevant here or real at all. Ethics is another thing entirely. As I understand it, you probly see swearing especially using religious terms as a sin and yet I put it to you that it’s a minor ethical offence if any at all. Blasphemy is a huge “sin” yet hurts literally no one so is quite ethical. But whole other issue really.
So we might as well all give up now then? Or, y’know, regardless of how “broken” we all (?) are we could maybe try to make the world better – fairer, more just & happier with more real opportunities and respect for everyone or at least for as many people as possible instead? (What would it look like if we were all “fixed” in your worldview anyhow I wonder?)
Um, you do know this is an athiest blog? Most of us me included do NOT share your .. (is very restrained and polite) .. religion here nor welcome your proselytising. If you want to argue for your specific religion or sect thereof, well this thread is NOT the best place for it. Suffice to say that no, I do not agree with any of that paragraph and it is irrelevant to the issue at hand anyhow. Which, I note you are actually not specifically engaging with here.
Like respecting consent and peoples choices and everyone’s right to bodily autonomy? BTW constrictive, outdated gender roles and the traditional patriarchial system are NOT good things.
Also why Christians specifically and not everyone. Who makes Christians specifically the arbiters of everything and not say Muslims or Jains or Humanists or ____(insert groups here)? How about everyone regardless of religion or other factor needs to understand the simple fact that other people are also people and then respect and treat them accordingly? How about they also respect the planet we all live on and are part of and depend upon? (A handful of individuals currently aboard the International Space Station temporaily excepted for that first” live upon” part only.) How about Christians decide to do that whole being humble thing and that “Do not judge” thing and let others be? How about the Christians accept that if their religion determines their choices for themselves then equally other people’s religions – and lack of religions – should equally be respected?
You don’t want an abortion because of your faith? Cool. Don’t have one. Don’t want to get gay married because of your faith? Don’t. Fine.
Tell someone else that they can’t have an abortion or get married etc .. because of your faith? No, NOT okay.
For reasons pointed out earlier, incl. in my #1 & 6 here, the term “pro-life”is very clearly a misnomer if not an outright oxymoron. I presume you mean the anti-legal abortion movement which is attempting to force its dictates on everyone else against their wishes and compel people to give birth without their consent; often destroying their futures, risking their lives and even killing them in some cases. That is something I consider utterly tyrrannical and abhorrent. So, no I won’t “abandon” the anti-choice movement (which I was never part of like probly most here BTW) I will oppose the anti-legal-abortion movement for as long as they try to impose their views on everyone else. Because they are wrong and they are harming real actual people. Not clumps of cells.
And so, yannoupoika, you trail off with another non-sequiteur (verging on the China-phobic at that) that shows again you do not get the idea of choice and consent and an individual’s right to bodily autonomy as the main key principles here. Its pretty basic, people should NOT be forced to have abortions against their will nor should they be denied abortions against their will. Choice. What part of that don’t you grok?
Side-jacking of the last bit of StevoR’s great response: China and the one-child policy. There’s a documentary on American public television done by a Chinese woman who left China in her mid-to-late 20s, came to the USA, married, and then had a baby. The documentary involves her trip back to China and her exploration of the generation-long policy of one (or two in the rural areas) children per family. It’s an interesting and eye-opening watch for anyone who can see it.
Part of the problem in China was the traditional devaluation of women. Just like in many parts of the world even today–including fundamentalist sects of Christianity–women in China had been seen as baby-producing factories to create endless amounts of male heirs for their owners…uh, husbands. In addition to doing all the household work, farm work, and caring for her husband’s extended family, a woman was expected to continually produce male babies. It was reaching a point where it became obvious that the sheer amount of the people would overwhelm China’s resources, so the top levels decided the answer was to limit the amount of children each couple could have. We think of China as being densely-populated and ecologically a disaster now, but if there had been 38 million (the figure quoted in the documentary) more people in China, the whole plant’s ecology would have collapsed. People resort to “bush meat” and wet markets now because there’s not enough farmland and food to feed them; imagine the strain on the world with millions more?
In China (as well as in India and other patriarchal places) this led to infanticide of female infants, a black-market on overseas adoptions of female infants (particularly to rich Americans and fundamentalist Christians who were on a mission to adopt all the non-white babies and raise them in their sect for extra points with their sect), and (as it became available) prenatal scans to determine a baby’s sex and abort the non-male and non-healthy fetuses.
This all came from the devaluation of women in the society. Women were stripped of power to make decisions about their own pregnancies.
And anti-choice people in the USA want to strip the power from women in the USA by deciding for them what women can and can’t do with their bodies.
One reason most of the developed world has far fewer abortions than the USA is that the people are given fact-based sexual education and provided access to contraceptives. As Andreas pointed out, even that is not 100% effective, but it’s far more effective than depriving people of knowledge or ways to prevent pregnancy and then shaming any woman who gets pregnant (but never their partners, hmmm, isn’t that odd?)
Even here, in this blog, we get yannoupoika carrying on about how women should be controlled so that they don’t abort, and reference made to “loose morals” nowadays on the part of the women, as if people have not been having sex since time began. What’s changed in the past 50 years is that there are more supports for women and children so women aren’t forced into abject poverty if the father of their children chooses not to provide for his own children. I suspect THAT is what galls anti-choicers the most; that more women can support themselves on their own.
Dr Sarah says
Thanks for coming back; I know it can be daunting when everyone piles in to disagree with you! (And, yes, having said that, I’m going to pile in and disagree with you. But don’t take it personally.)
‘Do those harmful attitudes you’ve mentioned exist within the pro-life movement? Yes, although from my perspective, there are not as many as you think.’
That’s an odd conclusion to jump to when I’ve said nothing about how many I think there are. (For the record, I don’t have a number in mind; I know from what I’ve seen that there are a lot of ‘pro-lifers’ who hold these attitudes, a lot who don’t, and a lot who hold some but not all of them.)
‘I also think it’s unfair when people vilify pregnancy counseling centers for the work they have done.’
People are vilifying pregnancy counselling centres for deliberately lying to pregnant people about the risks of abortion in order to scare people out of having abortions. Why do you feel it unfair to vilify people for lying?
‘Abortion rates have been dropping in the US from as high as 1,364,000 in 1996 to 850,000 in 2017 (last available stat). Why? Who gets credit for that?’
Glad you asked, because, interestingly, it looks as though it might be largely pro-choicers. During this time abortion rates dropped substantially more under Democrat presidents than under Republican presidents. https://qz.com/857273/the-sharpest-drops-in-abortion-rates-in-america-have-been-under-democratic-presidents/.
Of course, it’s more complicated than that; the Constitution is set up so that the President doesn’t run everything in the USA, and there are a lot of different anti-choice and pro-choice manoeuvres going on at any time regardless of who’s president. Pro-lifers certainly contest those figures, pointing to laws in that time period that made abortion more difficult and that could account for some or all of the decrease. However… we do know that making contraception more easily available helps prevent unwanted pregnancies, and that better policies on childcare/maternity leave/available healthcare make unplanned pregnancies more likely to be manageable rather than a disaster, and that, in the USA, Democrats are the party who try to do all these things (look at Obamacare in particular). And those are great ways of trying to cut the abortion rate that I can get behind, in contrast to laws making it more difficult for people to get abortions and forcing them into the position of unwillingly continuing unwanted pregnancies despite their wishes.
‘I’ve seen a lot of the reasons listed for why women want an abortion. But all of those reasons existed even before the woman got pregnant.’
That’s neither accurate nor relevant. Whether a reason for abortion existed before the person got pregnant or not, it’s still a problem that that person has to deal with.
‘There is still an innocent life present that comes as a result of intercourse and conception.’
There are innocent lives out there who suffer from renal failure or bone marrow failure and desperately need a life-saving transplant, but they don’t get to make other people be organ donors. People can’t legally be forced to use their organs even if that’s the only way to keep someone else alive. In fact, that particular rule is so strong that a person’s organs can’t even be used after death unless they’ve given explicit consent for that to be done. I don’t know whether or not you agree with that law, but it’s still the law. Yet people with uteruses are expected to use their organs to keep fetuses alive… no matter how many harmful effects this is going to have.
‘If you don’t want to get pregnant, then couples need to alter their behavior or make sure conception doesn’t happen.’
I think it’s an excellent idea for anyone who doesn’t want to get pregnant, or doesn’t want to cause a pregnancy, or is potentially at risk of causing a pregnancy in someone who doesn’t want to get pregnant, to give a lot of thought to what sort of contraceptive plans will be suitable and effective and put those into practice. That would make a big difference to the abortion rate. But there’ll always be some people who don’t do that, some people who suffer contraceptive failure, some people who are raped without contraception, and some people whose circumstances change horribly during pregnancy, so there will still be a need for abortion even then.
‘I want to dwell on this issue of guilt and shame that you bring up.’
I didn’t bring it up; Andrew Haslam did.
‘If we say “it’s bad to make us feel guilty about something we’ve done wrong” then what’s the point of having a law.’
Since I’m not saying anything of the sort, I’m not sure whether you’re misunderstanding what I was saying or just going off on a tangent.
‘We saw alcohol as bad and prohibited it, but we legalized consumption so now it’s ok and we are reaping a host of physical health, mental health and traffic issues connected with the irresponsible use of it.’
You do realise that the reason your country stopped Prohibition was because of the massive problems – including health problems – that stemmed from trying to make alcohol illegal? Yes, it prevented some people from drinking; but it also encouraged widespread use of much more dangerous unregulated products, plus underage drinking due to the lack of legal controls, plus heavier drinking when people did drink. All of this was associated with huge loss of taxation, corruption, and extra legal costs; that might well have been worth it if it actually had had the net health and social benefits that were originally hoped for, but it didn’t. Prohibition wasn’t ended because people didn’t want to feel guilty; it was ended because the overall effects were disastrous.
I could be misunderstanding your argument, but the impression I get is that you’re claiming that we change laws just to avoid feeling guilty about breaking the law. In fact, typically people change laws either because not everyone agrees on whether a particular action is right or wrong (as with pornography or abortion), or because the consequences of outlawing a particular action are worse than the consequences of the action (as with alcohol and, possibly, with marijuana).
‘Unfortunately, our culture keeps pushing promiscuous sexuality further and further’
‘Further’ I’ll go for – we’re obviously living in quite a different world from the one we lived in in, say, the ’50s – but ‘keeps pushing further and further’? How do you feel that ‘promiscuous sexuality’ is currently notably different or being pushed further than, say, 10 or 20 years ago?
‘From a man’s perspective, would you say that 80-90% of where a man learns about sex is from pornography?’
I have no idea, but I’m certainly in favour of people of all genders receiving comprehensive education on healthy relationships and consensual and well-protected sex. However, I suspect you and I would have different ideas on what should be taught.
‘Don’t judge a worldview by its followers or it’s abuse, judge it by its founder, Jesus’
Seriously? From the accounts of him in the gospels, Jesus harshly criticised his followers for not being good enough for him, threw a tantrum over a fig tree not giving fruit out of season, and told a woman who was desperate for help with her child that she and her child were dogs who didn’t get to be helped. Believe me, if I had judged Christianity by Jesus I would have given up on investigating the truth of it years earlier than I did.
‘Christians need to do a better job at educating and helping women (and men) understand their roles and responsibilities.’
Or possibly accept that other people (including some other Christians, for that matter) genuinely have different ideas from you about roles and responsibilities.
‘If you don’t like what you see in the pro-life movement, don’t abandon it, work to change it.’
I didn’t become pro-choice because of not liking the actions of the pro-life movement, but because I felt I could no longer defend the idea of making women remain unwillingly pregnant.
‘Then on the other hand, how about China’s policy of forced abortions after one child. This is a direction I see that western cultures could also go in order to “save the earth”. ‘
Doubt it very much. That idea would get vehement opposition from just about everyone on either side of the abortion or political debate.
Dr. Sarah I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about people who fantasize about a golden time when “things were perfect”. Usually American people think of that little slice of time right after WWII, when businesses were booming, the economy was so wonderful that even high-school dropouts could find a job that would support an entire family, and the government was busy building schools, roads, and other infrastructure to support the mass-built, low-cost family bungalows that were popping up in former farm fields. That sure was a great time to be alive…for a certain subset of the population (that would be uneducated white men). For the rest of society it wasn’t at all great. Women were drugged en masse so they could tolerate being locked up in suburbia with no car and a passel of children (Valium, or “Mother’s LIttle Helper”, was a popular drug). Minorities were still the victims of discrimination and outright violence that led to the Civil Rights marches in the late 1960s/early 1970s, and to the women’s movement of that same time, when women stood up for the right to be real, actual human beings with rights to their own bank accounts and credit cards and jobs.
There’s a fantasy that society is becoming more promiscuous, but in fact, women and girls are much safer now from male sexual violence than they’ve ever been. A pregnant 8-year-old is now seen as the victim of assault rather than a wanton slut who brought it on herself–except on the part of religious conservatives, who believe Eve-who-ate-an-apple brought eternal shame and sexual promiscuity to all women forevermore.
A cable tv channel recently aired the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter, the true story of a woman (Loretta Lynn) who was married off at 14 to an older man and later became a famous country singer. That “wonderful life” that conservatives imagine in the 1950s was full of stories of child-brides, and nobody cared what their lives were like. The middle-class were locked at home, the lower-middle-class and the working class did as they always did–worked themselves to an early death.
Now, 70 years later, thanks to Democratic presidents, there’s the FMLA Act where any worker (male or female) in a company of more than (50? 99?) employees is entitled to take time off to care for a new baby or a sick family member. Remember, the USA is one of the only countries in the world that does not have any maternity care whatsoever. The FMLA allows up to 12 weeks of completely unpaid leave, but it’s a start. A Democratic president also pushed for better medical care for the American people–including access to contraception–but religious conservatives are fighting back on that hard, insisting that they have the right to refuse a woman employee of theirs to have access to any contraception whatsoever. It’s no coincidence that the USA leads the developed world in maternal and fetal deaths.
‘Don’t judge a worldview by its followers or it’s abuse, judge it by its founder, Jesus’
Can you guess what Jesus had to say about abortion? NOTHING, that’s what. You’d think if he’d minded, he would have said something about it.
In any event, if there was a Jesus, what he might or might not have had to say is completely irrelevant in the USA, a country whose laws the Founding Fathers made a point of NOT basing on religion, having seen the problems of the theocracies in the Old World.
When I got a degree in microbiology I became dissuaded with the idea human life begins at conception, we just don’t value haploid human life. On ova is both human and alive, and if allowed to capture a sperm cell will continue to develop into a haploid form which you value. Yet too many people will shame someone who has a child out of wedlock.
A. Noyd says
Dr Sarah (#16)
Yes, this. Not to mention, Christian beliefs have changed considerably over time, too. Somehow, a lot of traditions for repressing women have stuck around, but the justifications have changed. Where women were once considered perpetually horny sex-fiends, now the stereotype is that women prefer romance and have to be coaxed into sex by perpetually horny men.
Wow. I’m feeling the love here. I knew what I was getting into when I wrote my comments. I am not angry, nor will I try to make too many specific replies to previous commentators. There are no lies in my statements. The facts of embryology are pretty well established and accepted by the medical community. The whole issue of abortion was to change the legal definition of life, not a biological definition. Whether those facts are accepted or not is another matter.
Yes, better birth control can result in fewer abortions but giving birth control to 9 year old girls to prevent pregnancy from rape just doesn’t strike me as right.
And please don’t say that Betty Bowers is accurate with her “interpretation” of the Bible and abortions. She is a satirist, not a believer in Jesus and cannot be relied upon for an accurate, Biblical view. I am sorry for all commentators here who have had bad experiences with Christianity while growing up or with “dry and ineffective” congregations. There is so much misinformation given about the Bible without reading it for what it is and without seeing it in its proper context. With regards to your comment about ‘Don’t judge a worldview by its followers or it’s abuse, judge it by its founder, Jesus’, Jesus was sharply critical in many instances for not being good enough (because of sin), but not of being good enough for Him. He proclaimed that He was holy and that He and God were One. We are not. The story of the Canaanite woman was that she wanted healing for her daughter. Jesus didn’t call her a dog, He said he came for the Jews. She insisted that “even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the masters table”. She was rewarded for her persistent faith (even greater than the Jews he came for) and her daughter was healed. No one was good enough for God, that’s why he came, to pay the penalty of our sins. Proper examination of Bible may reveal entirely different result that what you think you know.
Same is true with the pro-life position. Are we all biased, bigoted, misogynists. No, not all and not most. Do Crises Pregnancy Centers lie to women. No, not all and not most. They may use what you call “scare tactics” to drive home a point but that is a common technique to help drive home a point. If you have children and try to teach them about the dangers of playing in the street or learning not to touch a stove, you may use this tactic. There are exceptions and examples to this but they are not the rule or reflect the majority on the pro-Life (not an oxymoron). “Focus on the Family” has pregnancy counselors who are very caring, courteous and helpful and may not fit into your perception of pregnancy counseling. And probably the best website I know of for examining the pro-life side is found: https://www.lifesitenews.com/resources/abortion/pro-life-101-the-ultimate-guide-to-why-abortion-is-wrong-and-how-to-fight-for-life
Understanding God in this for some of you is like an optical illusion, what I see clearly is not seen by another. Careful study and analysis can reveal the illusion to the looker and become clear. I encourage Free-Thinkers to be _re_-thinkers. Thank you again Dr. Sarah for the opportunity to share my views.
And seriously robertbaden, a haploid egg or sperm cell is not alive. they are viable for a short time until fertilization occurs, then it’s alive and properly programmed to develop.
Of course they are. They are living cells as long as they are metabolically active.
yannoupoika, you may want to think of yourself as a person who is not misogynistic, but by adopting the pro-life position you become inherently misogynistic. It is a position that places living, breathing women lower than corpses in how much consideration one grants to their wishes.
@21. yannoupoika :
I specifically asked you to answer my questions in #14 and the previous part 1 thread of this. To ignore that & direct requests to address points you keep overlooking seems fairly rude to me & I notice you have again failed to answer most of my questions.
Such as? Examples please? Again, what specific context – its one thing to you can keep shouting “context!”” but quite another to actually provide that context and say what for instance
– changes the literal meaning of leviticus 27.6 where lif ebegisn at one monthold outof thewomb?
– makes the recipe for a magic abortion potion cited in Numbers 5:15-22 not an arbortefactant and implying that Yahweh himself performs abortions of unborn children for the “sin”” of adultery.
– Indeed, why does God himself personally kill King David’s first child born to Bathsheba (a.k.a. Uriah’s wife – because describing women by their husband as if they were property rather than their own names is quite common in the Bible) for the fathers “sins” (which included adultery and murder) in 2 Samuel 12:16 “Yahweh struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David.” Source : http://www.bricktestament.com/king_david/god_kills_a_baby/2s12_16.html I mean that’s an actual baby and the Christian god is murdering it becuase of its parents have done so, huh, imagine if Judges applied that in our society? If we gave out capital punishment to NOT the perpetrators* of serious crimes but instead their infant kids? What context makes that ethical precisely? Serious question, please answer.
Where is Betty Bowers wrong or inaccurate? What specific context changes the meaning of what she’s said and the verses she’s cited? Satire is a useful way of telling truths here I think. Incidentally when it comes to context and how it is used by Christians you may want to reflect on this clip :
If the many of the same verses in the Bible were in a different book instead – even another religions holy text – would you really go so far out of your way to ignore their literal meaning and strive so hard to find some, any, context which somehow makes them okay?
Pretty sure most 9 year old girls are pre-pubescent and thus not capable of becoming pregnancy although too many of them are raped – often by priests who, of course rape boys as well. The rape is clearly the issue here not the pill. Obviously, birth control pills are not the main and only cure to a culture where rape is tolerated and misogyny and bigotry are rife.
FYI a lot of commentators here and alot of atheists generally have indeed read the Bible and heard a lot of sophisticated apologetics defending it already. Me for one. That sentence incidentally applies to yourself as well if say, you take the “proper examination” part as removing your metaphorical rose coloured glasses of always trying to find a context that excuses the actual words and somehow makes the events and lessons intended to be drawn something other than what they actually are. I am glad you are participating here and thinking on these issues even though at this stage we clearly strongly disagree. Confronting one’s own beliefs is hard in many ways and can be very painful – and yes, I’m talking from personal experience here. It’s possible I’m wrong, though i try not to be. I have been wrong before and no doubt will be again. This applies to everyone, me, you, all people. So I look at and think about the evidence and the logic and reasoning behind them and try to udnerstand and decide based on facts and doing the maths (metaphorically as well as literally) as well as emotions which are also important.
I’m sure most of them don’t see themselves that way. It doesn’t mean they aren’t. Everyone has some biases – that’s just reality, there’s no such thing as a completely objective person especially on these issues which are so culturally heated and controversial. There is such a thing as internalised misogyny and a lot of the anti-legal-abortion side I think do have that. maybe not all but certainly a very sizeable percentage indeed.
Its one thing to use “scare tactics” it is another diffferntone to outright lie. You have the right to your own opinion but NOt toyour own facts.
As this article among many others explains :
So yes, they lie. Saying otherwise is just factually inaccurate.
You assume we aren’t all doing this already? We are – well, I am anyhow.
* Of course, that’s NOT the only “punishment” for King David who is also divinely “punished” for his actions incl murder by having his concubines publicly raped and his family disintegrate after one of his sons (Absalom) kills another of his sons (Amnon) after Amnon rapes one of his (David’s that is) daughters (Tamar) although King David personally dies of old age many years later after restoring his royal power – and getting another very young wife. (Abishag.) Oh and after locking up his raped concubines for the remainder of their lives presumably becuase they “allowed themselves” to be raped or something? So .. Divine justice? Any justice? Amazing soap opera ~esque story (like The Odyssey which also has a seriously nasty twist in the fate of some of the women post Odyusseus’s return to Ithaca btw) and perhaps based on real history sure but a good guide to ethics? I don’t think so.
Yanno purposes misconstrues the argument when he writes: Yes, better birth control can result in fewer abortions but giving birth control to 9 year old girls to prevent pregnancy from rape just doesn’t strike me as right.
What I wrote, and what you chose to conveniently misread is that people of your convictions would refuse an emergency pill *for the 9-year-old who has been raped. If the pill is taken within a few hours of the assault, the egg is released without the possibility of fertilization, and that is what you seem to be fighting against. Is it that you can’t stand to see a woman go unpunished for sex, even if it was utterly and completely against her will? Or is it that to you, a woman’s consent is so irrelevant that you don’t even consider it?
@StevoR: it’s not entirely unheard of for girls as young as 9 to already be menstruating and capable of becoming pregnant. It’s at the young end of the spectrum, but it’s entirely within the realm of possibility.
@ ^ Katydid : Thanks, I stand corrected.
Indeed, there’s this horrific real life case which WARNING (& I will deliberately not quote excerpts from it because potentially highly upsetting material) involves the rape and pointless and sadistic Forced Birth imposed on a girl just two years older than that :
Plus similar ones that actually happen in reality. FWIW if memory serves 9 was also the age at which Aisha’s marriage to 50+ year old Mohammad was “consumated” though that raises a whole other metaphorical can of worms, is problematic given its abuse by Islamophobes and may hopefully have been exaggerated.
On a less horrendous note, it seems that if some Christians doctrine of “Original Sin” is right then there’s actually no such thing as “innocent babies” at any stage because by definition even feti /embryoes etc .. ar esinenrs by virtue of existing and so they really need to pick just one out of those mutually incompatible ideas.
^ . Typo fix : ” ..are sinners.. ”
PS. Youngest mothers list on Wikipedia – Yikes. 😮
WARNING Child abuse and rape references.
Dr Sarah says
@yannoupoika, #21: Hi again! Thanks for coming back.
I note that one commenter has expressed the preference that you not use this thread to proselytise/argue for your religion. I think that’s a reasonable request on his part, so, if you wish to continue the discussion about Christianity, let me know and I’ll be happy to set up a different thread for that discussion to take place.
Meanwhile, responding here to a couple of other points from your comment:
‘Yes, better birth control can result in fewer abortions but giving birth control to 9 year old girls to prevent pregnancy from rape just doesn’t strike me as right.’
Not quite sure whether or not we’re on the same page here: Katydid’s comment was not about giving regular birth control to all girls in case they get raped, but about giving emergency hormonal contraception after a rape. Many pro-lifers are against this because of the theoretical possibility that these types of contraceptives could work after fertilisation as well as before. If a child old enough to have started her periods is raped – I know this is a horrible thing to think about, but it happens, and refusing to think about it won’t stop it happening to children – and someone finds out straight away and can arrange for that child to get emergency hormonal contraception to at least prevent the added horror of a pregnancy on top of the rape, would you be against that, knowing there is a small chance the hormones might have their effect shortly after a sperm and egg meet rather than shortly before? Would the possibility of destroying a ball of cells with no sentient awareness be more or less important to you than the risk of potentially making a terrified, traumatised child go through a pregnancy after rape? Why or why not?
‘Same is true with the pro-life position. Are we all biased, bigoted, misogynists. No, not all and not most.’
Since I’ve put considerable efforts in one of the previous threads into a) making it clear that I do not believe all pro-lifers to be biased, bigoted or misogynists, and b) giving explicit reasons and examples of how many pro-lifers – not just a few bad apples, but very many key and important figures in the pro-life movement – do indeed fit those or other unflattering descriptions, I’m not sure how you’re hoping to advance the discussion by reiterating this.
‘Do Crises Pregnancy Centers lie to women. No, not all and not most.’
In fact, a sampling of CPCs in the UK found that the majority of centres visited were either misleading women, or using some form of emotional manipulation, or both. https://legacy.brook.org.uk/press-releases/new-report-finds-crisis-pregnancy-centres-spreading-misinformation-about-ab%20
‘They may use what you call “scare tactics” to drive home a point but that is a common technique to help drive home a point.’
What ‘scare tactics’ do you think they’re using that are actually honest? Abortion in the first half of pregnancy is physically lower risk than giving birth, so it’s hard to see how the centres could be using scare tactics about physical risk if they’re being honest about the options. Some people do bitterly regret having abortions, but some people do bitterly regret having children, so, again, it’s hard to see how clinics can manage to combine scare tactics with being honest about all options.
‘If you have children and try to teach them about the dangers of playing in the street or learning not to touch a stove, you may use this tactic.’
But why would I misrepresent facts in order to do so? Playing in the street really is dangerous, because you can get hit by a car. Touching a stove when it’s hot is going to hurt. Those aren’t ‘scare tactics’; they’re genuine reasons. What I’m not going to do is try to scare a teenager or adult out of crossing the road with unrealistic horror stories about worst-case scenarios; if I did, it would be weird and inappropriate and controlling. But that’s the approach that a lot of CPCs take to try to prevent people from having abortions.
‘There are exceptions and examples to this but they are not the rule or reflect the majority on the pro-Life (not an oxymoron).’
Yannoupoika, they may well not be the majority of pro-lifers, but they’re far more than just ‘exceptions’. Please understand that this is not aimed at you personally. I don’t know what your personal actions are and have no intention of aiming accusations at anyone purely because they are pro-life. I brought the whole subject up not because I wish to attack pro-lifers in general but because a pro-lifer asked directly about it in his question list. However, your attempts to defend the pro-life movement overall are not making me believe that the bad examples of anti-abortionists that I listed at some length in a previous post don’t exist or are somehow less numerous than we have already seen them to be.
‘And probably the best website I know of for examining the pro-life side is found: https://www.lifesitenews.com/resources/abortion/pro-life-101-the-ultimate-guide-to-why-abortion-is-wrong-and-how-to-fight-for-life’
If you think there are any particular points there that weren’t covered in the posts I’ve made already, let me know and I’ll try to get to them.
(#22) ‘And seriously robertbaden, a haploid egg or sperm cell is not alive. they are viable for a short time until fertilization occurs, then it’s alive and properly programmed to develop.’
I don’t know where you learned biology, but, yes, single cells are alive, including egg and sperm cells.
Dr Sarah says
‘Yanno purposes misconstrues the argument […]
What I wrote, and what you chose to conveniently misread […]’
I actually think it more likely that he genuinely doesn’t know enough about emergency contraception to recognise what you were talking about. This is the chap who’s just said egg and sperm cells aren’t alive; I think it’s clear he’s got some significant gaps in his knowledge.
Dr. Sarah, I respect your position regarding yannopoika, but I have met far too many anti-choicers IRL who pretend to know less than they do in order to wear down their debate partner. For a less-emotional example, the equivalent would be like debating with someone who starts out by insisting “two plus three equals eleventy,” and furthermore that anyone who says differently is a crime against humanity and should be locked away. You can start off by explaining that “eleventy” isn’t actually a real number. You can demonstrate two plus three equals five using your fingers, then pencils, pieces of chalk, apples, etc. You can show your debate partner a preschool elementary math book where it demonstrates that two plus three equals five. Finally, you can bring in educated guests who also explain in a number of different ways and at a number of levels that two plus three equals five…and your debate partner still insists that two plus three equals eleventy, and knows this because it was in an old joke book he picked up somewhere, and if you don’t believe the same thing, well, you are an abomination.
@StevoR: Thank you for the appalling Wikipedia page. That is just the tip of the iceberg for very-young girls being impregnated. At one time in the 1970s, the Guiness World Book had a British (I think? Maybe she was American?) girl listed as the world’s youngest mother, at the age of 5. Clearly men sexually abusing young girls is by no means a rare occurrence, and yet those who are anti-choice would condemn these young children to death or to a life of permanent disability because these anti-choicers value the fetus the girls are carrying above the lives of the girls who are impacted. There have been huge, ugly battles in the USA about the availability of emergency contraception for girls such as this.
Up until fairly recent times, in the rural parts of the USA, it was considered so normal as to be a joke that a girl child in a family would have to run faster than her brothers and her male relatives to avoid being raped. Many historical records and stories include the fact of very-young girls being married to much older men as young as 10 or 11, leading to the running joke in the tv series The Simpsons that Bart’s 13-year-old girlfriend was an “old maid” and expected by her family to marry quickly. Old movies in the 1950s show early pregnancy as a way to make a young teen docile and obedient by saddling her with the sole responsibility of a baby.
It’s only in the last few decades, after women’s liberation and a concerted effort by women’s groups to introduce basic women’s rights to all women that more rural women became educated that they were better than simply baby-making machines. There’s been huge and ugly battles against teaching women how their bodies work, how to prevent conception, and what opportunities are available for women who have an education.
Christian fundamentalists have fought back against this, including the (phony) men known as Duck Dynasty, who were actually wealthy country-club members until they realized they could get their own television show and talk circuit for embracing fundamentalist Christian values. Until their cover was blown, they made quite a fortune lecturing approving audiences of fundamentalist Christians that the “best” women were the ones married off at 15 and contantly pregnant. They were quite open that such women didn’t know their rights and had no idea who they were as people, so saddling them with adult responsibilities and an ever-growing horde of children would keep them uneducated and dependent and under the man’s control.
There’s an entire fundamentalist Christian movement in the USA that insists on homeschooling and “stay-at-home daughters” who go from their father’s control to their husbands, often with very little education. The fundamentalist Christians align with the fundamentalist Mormons, the leader of which was jailed not long ago for marrying girls as young as 12 to grown men, moving girls around and hiding them from authorities. The fundamentalist Mormons also don’t believe in education, so their members know nothing but their religion.
A. Noyd says
The facts of embryology may be very well established, but you remain ignorant of them, leading you to repeat lies. For example, it’s wrong to say that “the medical and scientific fact remains that life begins at conception.” As others have told you, sex cells are already alive before they meet. And you can’t even say a unique human life begins at conception without accounting for identical twins or chimerism, which arise from later phenomena.
Also, when you say “we saw abortion as wrong but then changed the law to allow it and we have seen 60 million abortions since 1973” you are implying that legalization caused the abortions that came after, but we know for a fact that legalization has no effect on abortion rates. Legalization, however, has huge positive impacts on women’s health and help can mitigate generational poverty.
“If you don’t believe the same as me, you’re just not looking at things properly!” does not put your religion into a good a light as you seem to think it does.
There is a certain segment of the Christian population, the “liars for Jesus”, whose desire to control other human beings is so strong that they’ll knowingly and happily lie in their faces. I’m wondering if we see this in yanno, since he’s been told over and over and over again that what he says is true is not, and yet that doesn’t stop him from continuing the lies.
Furthermore, he’s shown that he’s perfectly willing to lie to women about practically everything in order to maintain control over them. The excuses he uses show him for who he is. He sees it as perfectly acceptable to lie to children about the dangers of a hot stove or running out in the street than to educate them with the truth (e.g. “stoves are hot and could burn you” or “a car might not see you and hit you if you run into the street”).
Another trait of the “liars for Jesus” also seems to be their belief in a fantasy world where everything was perfect, possibly the 1950s. This is another conservative fantasy despite the people who lived through the 1950s and remember it quite well. It was not a good time to be anything but a middle-class white man in the 1950s; probably why middle class white men cling to the delusion that everything was perfect; after all, it was for them. Spousal and child abuse was simply not talked about, minorities were kept “in their place”, and the government handed bucketloads of money to white men in the form of free college and subsidized houses and infrastructure…so white men were happy.
Women aborted in the 1950s…and the 1850s, and the 1450s. Abortion has always existed. The woman risked her life to abort, whereas with modern medicine it’s now much safer…and it seems that’s what galls some people.
Dr. Sarah, if you wish to decline the posting of these comments, I will understand. I am commenting to the request of StevoR who “demands” I reply to his request. This is your blog and not his. I would like to reply to his request:
1st, I won’t argue that you don’t refer to pre-born life as a baby. But is it human; that is, did it come from human beings? Is it a genetically unique individual? Is it alive and growing? If the answers are yes, then “it” is in fact a “he” or “she,” a living person, possessing rights and deserving of legal protection.
Dictionaries still define person as a “human being,” “human individual,” or “member of the human race.” What makes a dog a dog is that he came from dogs. His father was a dog and his mother was a dog, and therefore he is a dog. What makes a human a human is that he came from humans. His father was a human person and his mother was a human person, so he can be nothing other than a human person.
Pro-choice advocates often point out that a child aborted in the first trimester may be less than an inch or two in size, or less than an ounce or two in weight. But is size really a good measure of personhood? Is a professional basketball player more of a person than someone half his size? If a two-hundred-pound man loses fifty pounds, does he lose one fourth of his personhood? Scales and rulers are no measurement of human nature or worth. Intuitively, we all understand the truth put so simply by Dr. Seuss in Horton Hears a Who: “Because, after all, a person is a person, no matter how small.”
There is only one objective point of origin for any human being, only one point at which there was not a person a moment ago, and there is now. That point is conception—the point that science clearly shows is the moment when a new, utterly unique human being (a person) comes into existence. All of the 40-week gestation is necessary and part of life.
2nd, What do I mean when I say sex morals are loose? Just look around at culture today, movies, television, music, novels, levels and volume of pornography, sexual activity outside of marriage, rising levels of sexual assault and rape, rising levels of sex trafficking. In the U.S. the lowest level of rape was recorded in 2013, they have gone up every year since then. Feminism may have made some inroads but todays culture is not like my parents’ generation.
3rd, I looked at your columbia.edu site. In the Abstract: “Adolescent sexual and reproductive health promotion should be based on scientific evidence and understanding, public health principles, and human rights,” says Santelli. “Abstinence-only-until-marriage as a basis for health policy and programs should be abandoned.” “Abstinence from sexual intercourse can be a healthy choice for adolescents, particularly if an adolescent is not ready to engage in sex. However, government programs exclusively promoting abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) are problematic from scientific and ethical viewpoints.” Of course, it’s going to be ineffective…it’s a government program. I’d say concerned, loving parents are ultimately responsible for their children’s’ education. When we depend on the government or Planned Parenthood to do what parents should do, it will be a disaster. I have raised three children and am helping my three grandchildren understand that there should be no sexual activity until marriage.
Lastly, let me try to be clear about Numbers 5:15-22. This is an account about unfaithfulness within the bonds of marriage. Marriage is the institution that God designed as a way to explain and demonstrate the relationship between Himself and mankind. The definition of what adultery amounts to and what the effects and consequences are for adultery (stoning for man or woman), are placed in the Torah (Old Testament Law) to protect the God ordained institution of marriage. But these same effects and consequences (caused by adultery) upon a human marriage between a man and a woman also paint a picture of what happens when we commit adultery against God. The Biblical term we see used in Numbers 5 (and elsewhere in the Bible) is “breaking faith”. Adultery in a human marriage is the breaking of faith between the husband and wife. Over and over again we are told in the Bible that we break faith with God when we worship other gods, when we choose the way of the world over the way of the Lord, when we decide to dedicate ourselves to religious doctrines and nice sounding traditions instead of to the actual Word of God as laid down in Scripture, and when we violate His laws and commands. Consequences of adultery today would likely end in divorce and hardly seems like a serious offense. Now in the Numbers 5 account, it shows what should happen if the parties go to the priest (not the civil authorities). The priest makes this solution of holy water (from the laver), dust from the temple floor and ink that was used to write JHVH, then washed off into the liquid. Do you really think this could cause a miscarriage? This was a ritual performed to determine the truth of a possible infidelity. God is the one who would ultimately see the truth of the matter. This custom was actually in practice until about 70 AD, then it was abandoned because adultery among the Jews became so commonplace. A better example of how this changed is in the Book of John chapter 8:1-11. (Please check this out Dr. Sarah regarding Jesus actions and true attitude toward women and issues of sin. Also consider Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:1-30 and 39-42).
There is much more detail that one could give about this but we are told in the Word that God is faithful. He NEVER breaks faith with us. He never changes; He always is just and loving. IF God ever were to be unfaithful towards us it would basically invalidate the entire biblical concept of adultery and breaking faith; without the faithfulness of one of the partners, adultery has no meaning. If God is unfaithful to us, then it is not POSSIBLE for us to be unfaithful to Him. God is Holy and Righteous in all that he does. We are the ones who were disobedient and we still demonstrate that today. But his love and forgiveness supersedes his wrath to those who look to His Son.
Yanno, you cite Dr. Suess who said “a person’s a person no matter how small.” However, a zygote/embryo/fetus is not a person. There are phsyiological differences between an embryo and a human being. Even hours before birth, a fetus survives on blood, not air, and the heart has a gaping hole that only closes after birth. HOWEVER, in your zeal to protect “the pre-born” (an anti-choice term), you completely ignore the humanity of the woman whose very body is being sapped to care for the life.
Know what else is human tissue? Cancer. And like cancer, a zygote/embryo/fetus can kill or permanently damage the body of the host its parasitically using. Why is it that you have shown nothing but scorn and disdain for the only part in the situation that is completely and unarguably a human being?
As for the faith you claim you follow, you have not actually read it even though you keep claiming to quote from it. That’s obvious because you deny the very book you claim you follow is very clear In Numbers that after drinking the abortifacient made from rotted grain, “22 and this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, and make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to fall away’; and the woman shall say: ‘Amen, Amen.'”. Maybe you would find it helpful to actually read the book you’re preaching from?
Here’s an interesting read about what your bible says about abortion: https://ffrf.org/component/k2/item/18514-what-does-the-bible-say-about-abortion
Finally, you are trying to control other people based on a book that you may follow, oblivious to the fact that the majority of the world does not believe that book is sacred.
TL:dr summary: Yanno seems to have a very unique interpretation of the Christian bible which doesn’t match what many of us reading these blogs were taught. That’s obvious in the way he keeps assuring us that the words don’t mean what they mean; they mean something completely different.
Additionally, Yanno’s sole objection to abortion comes from his interpretation of the book he says he follows. But those views simply don’t matter, any more than the views of those in Rivendell in Lord of the Rings matter or the views of Martians in John Carter of Mars matter.
There’s a new documentary out on “Jane Roe” and how she was paid by the anti-choicers to lie:
Are two sources.
@35. yannoupoika :
Thanks for replying, though could do without the passive aggressive whine over the basic discussion etiquette that when someone asks you questions you generally answer them. Also Dr Sarah has made it clear – as have I – that we appreciate your participation here so why you feel like you’d be rejected I’m not sure. yes, we disagree with you but no, that doesn’t mean we don’t think you comment here.(Speaking personally of course. I’m just one of the many commenters here.Dr Sarah can and will speak for herself.)
No, The answer is that the cells, the zygote, embryo, fetus etc .. is human but that is insufficient to make it a person. That I think is one fundamental mistake those opposed to legal abortion make. A person is a conscious independent human individual with a mind & life of its own. Individual body parts are human, egg and sperm cells are human but that does not make them people. Likewise cancer cells, tissue, donated organs, etc .. Yes, the zygote/ embryo / fetus may develop into a person but it is NOT one yet. Just as individual egg and sperm cells may eventually develop into people but aren’t yet.
No, what makes and defines a dog as a dog are certain specific zoologically distinguishing features that separate dogs as belonging to the species Canis lupus familiaris rather than being other members of the Canid genus like coyotes, jackals and wolves. (Foxes if you are curious belong to the similar but separate vulpes genus. Afraid I’m not enough of a zoologist to be able to explain why. Dingo’es – Canis lupus dingo are an interesting intermediate case.) As for the what makes ahuman an human agreed but see abiove as tothedifefrence between human as in human DNA, human cells etc .. and a person which is a different thing. It mighjt be worth remembering here that we may one day find intellignet non-human life that will be people but not human eg Spock, Doctor Who etc . as imagined in fiction.
This also raises another question for you here, yannoupoika : Do you oppose abortion in animals (or indeed their neutering as is common practice with dogs) or just in people? Dont know if that creates any particular new perspetive for you but could be something to contemplate.
Your paragraphs about size and personhood has been covered above but to sum up – yes a person is a person regardless of size but no a fetus is not yet a person.
Nope. I disagree there as already noted. The objects here :
are not people and claiming they are is as silly as claiming a sperm is. (Ever heard Monty Python’s ‘Every Sperm is sacred’ song BTW? If not feel free to google it, I’d link to it here but don’t want to go into moderation for too many links.)
The gestation period of lifeforms varies very greatly and some lifeforms reproduce very differently (eg cellular mitosis in single celled organisms, egg laying in birds reptiles, monotremes, the strange birth and infanthood cycle of many marsupials etc ..) so that’s a very human-centric rather than strictly scientific and factual approach. However, it is interesting that you note this as it would seem to undermine your argument. Because if developing for a full gestation period is necessary to become a human life then clearkly tehers no personhood until after that period has conclued ie in birth. Thus terminating a pregnacy before that necessary gestation period is up is indeed NOT ending a “person” actually. So, um, thanks for mentioning that I guess?
PS. I’m going to break this up to avoid being in the “TL,DR / Wall of text” category ie for readability and clarity, hope this is okay.
D’oh. Posted too soon. Sorry. Fixes for clarity :
Yes, we disagree with you Yannoupoika, but no, that doesn’t mean we don’t think you should comment here.
As for the what makes a human a human agreed but see above as to the difference between human as in human DNA, human cells etc .. and a person which is a different thing.
Aside : If you want to quote people & text generally which helps in these blog comments yannoupoika; the method to do so is using the word blockquote in the “Greater than” / “Lesser than”” symbol brackets > and < & then /blockquote i.e. same word with a / backslash symbol. Same brackets / symbols with the letter i & /i inside give you italics & b & / b makes bold for emphasis. Not sure if you were previously aware of this or not and I hope that helps. Its pretty easy when you get used to it which doesn’t take long.
^ Arrgh! That first fix is intended as “shouldn’t comment” of course. Or, in other words : Despite that we disagree with you, we are still happy to have you comment and argue your cae, express your views, etc.. here.
Sigh. The number of times I see what I meant to type instead of what I actually have.. 🙁
Part II @35. yannoupoika :
Okay. Look around at what precisely though. That’s still pretty vague and rape and trafficking refers to criminal activity rather than “sexual morals”” so I think we’re sort of talking about very different things. Rape has always been around and we do indeed have a huge issue with rape culture but rape isn’t sex. Or indeed moral. Rape is a form of criminal bodily assault though there is overlap I guess but anyhow.
For me, when we talk about “sex morals” – which I’d phrase as “sexual ethics” – we’re talking about consensual intimacy with equal adult partners and things like the increasing understanding of the need for Crystal Clear enthusiastic Consent (See : https://freethoughtblogs.com/pervertjustice/2020/02/14/caine-left-us-a-gift/ ) respecting intimate partners and also respecting people as people and their choices (hmm. Common motif here.) in terms of accepting other people’s sexual orientations, genders and kinks as different and equally as legitimate eg the diminishing of homophobia, opposing slut-shaming, kink-shaming and, for that matter, prude shaming too. IOW having respect for others and their wishes and limits and accepting people for who and what they are without dehumanising or blaming them for being who they are.
My guess here – and do correct me if I’m mistaken – is that you are seeing the rise in aceptance of LGBTQUIA people, the rise in acknowledged and accepted pre-martial sex, the increasing acceptance of divorced and non-traditional non-patriachal relationships as a bad thing and as “loose sex morals” here whereas I really don’t. Yes pornography and hyper and over-sexualisation of things can be problematic at times and inappropriate at times e.g. with children. But no, people being consentingly open about their sex lives and promiscuous and in non-heteronormative relationships etc .. is NOT a bad thing. Its complex and different and there are things that won’t “float your boat” (or mine) metaphorically speaking but as long as there are consenting adults of sound mind involved, let’s be open and respecting of others.
Oh and if you’re concerned about the volume of pornography then you can always turn the sound down! 😉
Seriously though, when it comes to porn I think that it’s not the fact of it – porn has has always existed although, yes, it has now has become much more widely accessible and commonplace – but the types of it and the number of problematic unhealthy and exploitative varieties, genres and techniques commonly pushed in it that are the issue. (Eg non condem use, excessively rough and brutal sex acts, boarderline issues around showing continual clear consent from all parties.)
It seems to me (again I could be mistaken) that you have a very sex-negative traditional repressed view rather than a sex-positive view that sees sex as a natural part of life that should be appreciated and not repressed and condemned but practiced appropriately and with a focus on mutual respect and consent as well as mutual pleasure.
Also, of course “todays culture is not like my parents’ generation.” Culture is always evolving and shfting and changing and the pace of this is especially faster than formerly due to modern technology such as the internet, mobile phones and medical advances such as in birth control allowing the “sexual liberation” (and yes at times dubious exploitation) of the 1960’s era. Cultural change will keep happening and is a constant thing and we need to work to make it for the better rather than the worse.
So you’re blaming the government and ignoring the reality that its a lot of ideolgically Christian parents driving and enforcing that Abstinance program? I disagree. First, I’ll note govt programs aren’t necessarily ineffective because, after all, look at the Apollo Moon landing progam which was a very effective and successful government public sector effort to name one example of many.
Secondly, not every child will have living parents plural around and sadly not all parents are loving. What about children in those circumstances? You and I may well be very fortunate in this regard but many others aren’t and its better to have realistic and non-judgemental sex education for everyone rather than for many kids to pick up their knowledge of sex by rumours, pornography, etc .. Its also better that people are armed with knowledge and understanding rather than kept in ignorance or sexually repressed and taught that sex is a “dirty / nasty” negative awful, mysterious thing.
Not all parents are good at communicating and educating children and those with the talent to best explain sexual development, sexual ethics (i.e. not just the A goes into B, X gendered body has Y parts, etc .. mechanics of sex but the “morality” of it and intimate relationships and how to avoid eg abusive sexual relationships and undue pressures to have intercourse younger than the age of consent, etc) and yes, sexual options eg soem peopel are gay, trans, intersex, etc.. & that’s also natural and okay.. Specially trained and well informed educators are ,well, by definition really, best suited to explain these to children delivering the right amount of material at the right age appropriate levels and ensuring that childrne without parenst or with bad parents don’t miss out or indeed get exploited & harmed. As such, proper school based sex ed can also work as a means of detecting and stopping sexual abuse incl by parents and family members.
To just leave everything up to parents is actaully the recipe for failure here I think; far more than having a reasonable government education program that empowers children with knowledge and understanding of sexuality in all its forms and aspects.
On whether or not there should be no sex before marriage, well you can (& have) raise your children as you please but I fundamentally disagree for many reasons though that’s a whole other topic. I would note though that marriage is NOT for everyone, is an evolving and diverse institution (Mae West’s famous quote about not being ready to be an institution springs to mind here! 😉 ) and that denying people who aren’t married a sex life is neither realistic nor just. I’d also highly recommend Betty Bower’s youtube video on what makes a Biblical / traditional marriage here becuase I suspect tehBible doesn’t actaully say what you think it does or maybe says a lot more than you think it does in this area. (See also 1 Samuel 20:42 with Prince Jonathan’s pledge to King-to-be David.)
A. Noyd says
Dude, I literally just said this 2 comments before yours: And you can’t even say a unique human life begins at conception without accounting for identical twins or chimerism, which arise from later phenomena.
@ Part III @35. yannoupoika :
Er, no, it’s not really. Let’s look at the actual words (verse numbers removed) :
Source : wikipedia page /wiki/Ordeal_of_the_bitter_water
Or according to the New International Version* of the Bible to Numbers 5:31.
Source : https://biblehub.com/numbers/5-15.htm NB note many different versions have slightly differing wordings here.
* Capitalisation original & presumably referring to the Christian diety and not an actual aristocrat with that official title.
Reading that then, imagining watching it being done in practice, this is clearly not “.. an account about unfaithfulness within the bonds of marriage..” but a ritual ordeal for a woman accused of committing adultery. It is clearly misogynist in that it is the woman not the man who is getting the blame and being forced to drink Gods grimy, inky, abortion inducing and sterlising and cursing cocktail. It clearly states that the potion if performed on an adultress causes miscarriage i.e. abortion plus worse making her unable to have children and turning her into a “curse” presumably also likely to mean she gets put to death given that was the Biblical penalty for adultery. (Leviticus 20:10)
The literal, actual words from that passage show that Betty Bowers was correct but also it was even worse than what she described. It also occurs to me that in reality it would be easy to rig depending on the priests wishes and that the dust could contain various toxic or non-toxic chemicals depending on what the priest puts there and how often the tabernacle is cleaned and with what and that the performace of the ritual with the priests emphasises and body language and the power of suggestion, the mental impact of what is being said and done, could alter the outcome.
An “account about unfaithfulness within the bonds of marriage” on the other hand (OTOH) would involve a narrative about that and not in essence a trial about the aftermath or suspicion of that.
What this amounts to really is a Biblical methodiolgy fro determining whetehr or not adultery has taken place which is 1) misogynistic, 2) unreliable & 3) unjust.
1) The woman alone is punished and put through an ordeal whether she is guilty of not. The man gets nothing other than shame at how “his property” (Yeech, I know but how he probly would have considered her) was unreliable to him. There seems no similar ordeal or test available to a wife who feels her partner has cheated on her.
2) Aside from the mental power of suggestion, formula of the ink and possible skullduggery I cannot see how this would work to actually determine innocence or guilt. There’s no physical, scientific reason why this would work to either cause or not cause an abortion with consequent apparent sterilisation and likely execution or not on a woman who is innocent or guilty. It seems to ignore many better alternatives when it comes to determining guilt and innocence such as asking and talking to the accused and others. Seeing how the child if born difffers from the husband and more closely ressembles or not the supposed lover etc ..
3) It seems quite likely that an innocent woman could be induced to miscarry in this way and be murdered or that a guilty one could endure the ordeal without doing so. It does not seem to involve anything like actual evidence unless we’re talking about inducing a confession through intimidation. Confessions obtained in this fashion (eg mental torture) being known to be unreliable. Plus, again, it is also punishing only one of the three parties involved here; the accused woman vs the definitely jealous and possessive husband – who may well be at fault in the marriage problems leading to the adultery or suspicions thereof and the supposed lover.
It strikes me that the context here is, in essence, a sort of Biblical Agony Aunt / Uncle idea. A person seeking advice from the Bible on what to do if they suspect their partner of being unfaithful to them and cheating with someone else. Now, I’m not and never have been or studied to be an Agony Uncle / Aunt, but I’d imagine a reasonable response would be to acknowledge a troubled relationship and likely communication and trust issues. To ask and be honest with your partner striving to have them reciprocate in kind then either to admit defeat and end that relationship as amicably as possible or accept their innocence and learn to be more trusting of them and less jealous and communicate better. All depending on the individuals involved and tehspecifics of their relationship(s).
An Agony Uncle / Aunt who replied to the question of “I suspect my partner is cheating on me” with “Ok, drag them before a priest, force them to drink a magic abortion potion made of dust and these words written in ink which if theyare guilty will cause them to miscarry then be sterile and cursed for the rest of their lives! If they’re innocent nothing willhappen and, well now you know but will have a seriously cheesed off partner.” would likely and deservedly be fired and condemned for such a bizarre, unfair, cruel and toxic response. Yet because it is in the Bible people seem to accept it and seek to find some sort of context where that sort of “answer” and that way of treating people is somehow okay when, sorry, it really isn’t.
So that’s your context justifying this? It relies on the asumption of believing in your diety which I and most here do not. It evades the actual disgusting, cruel and dubiosuly effective nature of the ordeal here and the key point in question namely that it causes an abortion on an unwilling person. (Also begging the question of what if the accused woman did committ adultery but didn’t become pregnant from it.) Thanks for your reply, yannoupoika but I find it extremely unconvincing.
Yes. Divorce is common and part of many people’s lives sadly. It is NOT nor should it be considered a crime at all.
I don’t know. As noted above it depends on a lot of possible factors. It doesn’t seem relibale as eitehran abortefactant or a way fo determing truth.
But if there’s no god as there probably isn’t? (Even if there was a god would it necessarily be yours and necessarily wish to act on personal private human relationships that neither help or harm it? Why would a being capable of creating the entire cosmos obsess over the details of the relationships and fidelity of one species on one planet out of the more than trillions in the cosmos?) Also, I don’t the this ritual ordeal would have really worked in determing truth accurately.
I hope this ritual wasn’t practiced and certainly Ihope itwa spractice dmuchles soften than abortion because, well, you’ve read everything above I hope. I am curious to where your knowledge of when this ceased and why came from. It seems likely that if this ritual was practiced it was abandoned because people learnt and thought better both of its efficacy and its ethics.
That all appears to be off topic religious proseltyising that does NOT add context or seem particualrly relevant here. Sorry. I’m happy to have you comment and discuss things personally but pushing your religion here is not soemthing that I thinkis productive or good use of our time.
Typical. Me & typos. One day, I’ll actually post something that isn’t full of typographical flaws. Sigh. For clarity onthe worst ones :
It seems to ignore many better alternatives when it comes to determining guilt and innocence such as asking and talking to the accused and others, seeing how the child if one is born difffers from the husband and more closely ressembles the supposed lover, etc..
It doesn’t seem reliable as either an abortefactant or a way of determining truth.
I hope this ritual wasn’t practiced much if at all and I certainly hope it was practiced much less often than safe modern legal abortions because, well, you’ve read everything above I hope.
Yes. Divorce is common and part of many people’s lives sadly. Or, actually, not so sadly as its better than people being stuck in miserably unhappy and destructive or violent relationships as happens. Divorce can be the better and happier and even a life-saving option too and ist good that we have it made more accessible and easy now.
@38. Katydid : Thanks for those links.
@ All here. Apologies for the lengthy and multiple comments here. Not quite sure how best to do this but hope this way works and isn’t hogging the thread too much. There’s just an awful lot that needs figuratively unpacking and deconstructing and discussing here.
One more note for the sake of fairness here from my #43 :
The man (the jealous and suspicious husband of the accused adulter) does also lose some grain – “a tenth of an ephah of barley flour.. “ specifically.
Some of which gets burnt as “a grain offering for jealousy” and I ‘spose some of which goes to the priest.
Potentially giving the priest a motivation to encourage this ritual I guess?
I’m not sure whether that’s a mere insignificant token or a more serious and major sacrifice in the time and haven’t looked up exactly how much an ephah is but, well, it is more than only the shame of having to do this ritual and might be a disincentive for the husband wishing to do this against his wife.
The supposed male adulter OTOH isn’t even referenced at all although I imagine any such ritual and especially one with a negative result could have later grave implications for (probly usually) him given the ancient Israelite era & context and human nature. Also given human nature and the era I hate to think what both the wife and husbands lives would be like after such a traumatic and likely public ordeal.
I really dont think there’s anything much to recommend this ordeal in any way and yet there are people who claim the Bible is literally “good” and “wise” and worth following – this part not explicitly excluded along with so many other horrifically problematic verses* also not explicitly excluded so .. yeah.
* Eg those noted inthis youtube series WARNING : Swearing : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxuq1wGYaxY&t=28s
@StevoR: thanks for your patience in answering the endless proselytizing. It gives me a headache and basically boils down to someone insisting their unique interpretation of a written-down collection of Stone Age myths floating all over the middle east should of course be inflicted on everyone. You will notice that women in the bible (which just means “book”, by the way) are treated as chattel and there are tons and tons of examples of women being raped. This article: https://www.cbeinternational.org/resource/article/mutuality-blog-magazine/we-cant-ignore-rape-bible-not-if-we-want-end-sexual describes the ubiquity and complete nonchalance with with rape is carried out against women, and is treated as a triviality. Methinks what upsets Yanno is that women in the past 60 years are more free to consent to sex.
Know what the NT Jesus had to say about abortion? The same thing he had to say about homosexuality: nothing. The OT is not the same thing as the Torah. Nobody in the USA is held to anything that anyone might say about anything in those religious texts because the framers of the Constitution of the United States make clear that the United States are in no way bound by them.
You did a great job discussing what adults consentually do among themselves. Nobody here is demanding that Yanno do anything against his will and consent…but Yanno feels he has the right to demand that perfect strangers on the internet obey his demands and conform to the definitely-unique interpretation of what his chosen book says, and has no problem inventing (or parroting other people’s invented) reasons why he’s right.
Yet another voice (longtime evangelical, deconverted now but still wise in the ways of her former cult) on Norma McCorvey: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rolltodisbelieve/2020/05/19/jane-roes-deathbed-confession-and-the-long-list-of-anti-abortion-crusaders-lies/
Summary: the anti-choice lie that all women regret their abortions probably began when they started paying “Roe” to say she did. But she didn’t, and on her deathbed stated that women needed to do what was best for them.
Additional interesting point; evangelicals really didn’t care about abortion until they found out they could use it as a club.
A. Noyd says
Looks like it wasn’t much: about 2.2 liters or slightly over half a gallon. So maybe a couple loaves of bread worth.
Anyone who doubts this should see The ‘biblical view’ that’s younger than the Happy Meal
Dr Sarah says
Entirely OT, but you have the distinction of having just written my 1000th comment!
I’m quite excited about this. I feel like you ought to be able to claim a prize, but I don’t have a prize, so you’re out of luck there. But I’m pleased to have made it to 1000 comments. 🙂
@ ^ Dr Sarah : Congrats and thanks. May the next thousand comments come quicker and this blog continue to get the new fans and readings it deserves. Which is plenty more and looking forward to reading more! 🙂
@ 46. Katydid : I guess you already know the story inthe “good book” of what happened after that? The genocide against one Israelite group- the Benjamintes by almost all the rest followed by more repeated rape, mass murder and blatant hateful misogyny?
If folks don’t then click and flip through Next story: Remorse then Another Massacre there plus the Next story: Girls of Shiloh Abducted because wiping out one town brutally just wasn’t enough. But WARNING: Extreme brutal violence, rape, genocide. All illustrated with lego figurines but still horrific to imagine and see and contemplate.
A couple more thoughts on the Ritual of Bitter Waters / Woemn have to drink a magic involuntary cursing-sterilising abortion potion as a test for adultery thing. Depicted in lego form here :
First, what is the deal with Numbers 5:18-19 where “The priest will unbind the woman’s hair,..” which kinda gets lost amid the disgusting, misogyny of the est of it allbut isn’t taht just extraordinarily creey and werid and Eeww. Why can’t she do it herself and not have it done to her, why is this a specific thing in the ritual,what difefence does it make having hair bound or not here and just generally, what the...?
Secondly, what if the Priest here is the one who has committed adultery with her? Or what if the wife is the priests wife? Hmm.. There’s probly a potential historical horror story or two in that if anyone cares to write it. (I’m also surpised the whole Israelite King David and his life and family hasn’t been made into an ‘I Claudius’ style historical soap opera ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKwaCTfa1EE) but then again, given its religious element and the likely controversy if people knew the actual twists and turns of it maybe not-so -surprising.)
@StevoR; yes, thank you for the links.
I think a huge mistake the Christian evangelicals make is in thinking that nobody in the USA has ever heard of or read the Bible, when the vast majority of USAians were raised in mainstream Christian homes and likely went to Sunday school and bible study classes throughout their childhood. Many Atheists got their start when they actually read their bibles and thought about what was actually being said. On the other hand, evangelicals and fundamentalists tend to repeat only passages that were carefully spoon-fed to them by their pastors.
Now, about the hair…I recommend watching Unorthodox (Netflix), which is based on the book written by a woman who was raised Orthodox Jewish and left as an adult. One of the many atrocities committed against her as a woman in the Orthodox faith is the shaving of her head once she becomes a bride–a woman’s hair is considered a huge shameful fact that must be hidden away and therefore most Orthodox married women wear wigs, and the ones who don’t wear headscarves that hide their hair. Mostly, though the point is that the woman in the Numbers story has absolutely no agency at all. She might as well be an animal or an inanimate object the way she’s treated. The HUSBAND is jealous and therefore the HUSBAND and the PRIEST force her to drink the bitter waters, which might render her ill, force her to miscarry, and render her sterile. The woman is not able to voice her opinion in the matter. Whether the woman is innocent or guilty is completely irrelevant; the men will do with her as they want.
THIS is the society Yanno and his ilk want.
Dr Sarah says
Hi there, friedfish2718! Your comment has been held in moderation due to blatant violation of the ‘keep it polite and respectful’ rule I set out in the first post. You may still contribute to the discussion if you can manage to keep to that rule, although repeated violations will lead to you being banned. If you do decide to come back, then please check out StevoR’s questions for pro-lifers in comments #1 and #6 of this thread, as no-one has answered them yet and I’d be interested to see someone have a go.
Dr Sarah says
Hey there, everyone! As you know, there’s been a bit of an issue over proselytisation attempts in this thread. Because I actually like having those sorts of discussions but appreciate that most people don’t feel the same way, what I’ve done is set up a new comment thread just for that: https://freethoughtblogs.com/geekyhumanist/2020/05/23/the-proselytising-thread/. Yannoupoika, I’ve replied to the religion-related parts of your comments there. Anyone who wants to continue the religious part of the discussion, or start a new one, can do so in that post (please read the rules and guidelines first). Anyone who doesn’t want to, which I’m guessing is most of you, can now ignore it. I do wish all life’s problems were that easy to solve, but at least that’s that one dealt with!
Meanwhile, a quick shot at replying to some of the comments here. Sorry I’ve been so far behind on this, and sorry I’m not replying to everyone; a) time precludes and b) it would add up to a heck of a lot of ‘Good point, I agree’, which isn’t thrilling reading. But thank you to all of you for joining in and making some great contributions to the debate.
@AndreasAvester, #12: Thank you for your responsible approach to this, which I wish far more people would emulate. This might seem like an odd thing for me to say, but… thank you on behalf of the children you had enough foresight not to have, who will avoid the pain of a miserable childhood.
Also, interesting information in #3. I hadn’t thought of classing late abortions for health reasons as stillbirths, but it does make sense.
@A. Noyd, #20: Hey, good point; never thought of it that way. You’re right.
@Katydid, #31: Sadly, you’re absolutely right that far too many people like this exist. However, I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt on this point where I can. If I try to explain facts to someone who then turns out to be of the two-plus-three-equals-eleventy brigade, then, yes, it hasn’t made a difference to them, but then nothing else would either; meanwhile, someone else might be listening or reading. If I assume someone’s a two-plus-three-equals-eleventy when actually they would have listened to counterarguments, then I’ve misjudged them and missed a chance to let them hear a different POV.
@StevoR, various: You’re not hogging the thread, and thanks for some great contributions! But I’m not fixing your typos for you. Sorry. 🙂
@ ^ Dr Sarah : Thanks and no worries! 🙂
I’ll try not to make so many typos but, well, I wish I could guarantee that I wouldn’t but can’t. I figure the main thing is that peopel understand what I’m saying and typos often don’t change that but where they do, I’ll try to clarify. Huamn minds do work in funny ways and it’s so easy to see what I meant to type rather than what I have.
BTW. Did you send Andrew Haslam your responses ( & my or your?) questions in response and has he replied by any chance?
Dr Sarah says
@StevoR, #55: Just wondering: have you ever been tested for dyslexia? (In case it wasn’t clear, this isn’t snark or a dig but a genuine question.)
I did e-mail Andrew Haslam to say I’d answered his questions and to give him the link to the first post, but I never heard back from him. I didn’t give him the link to your questions; figured if he responded at all then I could tell him then. Still don’t know whether he just hasn’t had time to reply (perfectly reasonable; he’s a pastor in London, which means he’s going to be very busy in the pandemic) or whether I got caught in his spam filter, but I don’t really want to send further e-mails in case it’s the former. But by all means e-mail him yourself; the e-mail is in his original post, in the word ‘respond’ in the first paragraph.
@ ^ Dr Sarah : No, I don’t recall ever being tested for that though I might’ve been when I was really young. (Under 10 or so?) I was diagnosed with a form of Autism – Aspergers specifically FWIW – and had a, well, interesting and very much non-mainstream childhood. I don’t think I’m dyslexic but not 100% sure. I just just to post late at night / early morn and thus when tired and with the words in my head racing far ahead of my rather cumsy fingers.
Thanks for the update re : communicating with Andrew Haslam. Please let us know if he does reply and respond.
Raging Bee says
I just had a look at Haslam’s post, and there seems to be no place for anyone to post any answers to his questions in either of the article’s locations. So, strike one for intellectual dishonesty and cowardice.
1. Why is there a double standard at work here, in which we stay quiet about abortion while mourning miscarriage?
First, what the hell does he mean by “stay quiet about abortion?” That’s a pretty loaded phrase that implies some sort of shameful cover-up. And second, how does “mourning miscarriage” make anything a “double standard?” Strike two and three for yet more intellectual dishonesty and obvious manipulation. Thanks for wading through all that sewage so we won’t have to, but screw that Haslam guy; he’s just another Christian bigot trying to sound mature and rational. Oh, and screw yannoupoika too, for the same reason.
Raging Bee says
I did e-mail Andrew Haslam to say I’d answered his questions and to give him the link to the first post, but I never heard back from him.
Wow, what a surprise that turned out not to be.
Still don’t know whether he just hasn’t had time to reply (perfectly reasonable; he’s a pastor in London, which means he’s going to be very busy in the pandemic)…
If he wasn’t too busy to write that article with all those oh-so-cleverly-written questions, then he’s not too busy to respond to the answers he said he wanted. He has no excuse here.
And here’s the first paragraph of his article:
Let me state my purpose up front: I’m a pro-lifer with ten genuine questions aimed at pro-choice people, and I’m hoping that you (dear reader) will keep on reading to the end. But I’m also realistic. The chance of keeping your attention on such a matter of deep division is not going to be easy, not least because you may well imagine me to be misogynistic and backward.
Aaaand, strike four for pre-emptive whiny martyrbation.