Comments: Somebody's Gotta Say It

Sorry, Key, I have to call you on this.

So, government shouldn't intervene to save the lives of old people but they should tell women what to do with themselves and their bodies and the potential life inside their bodies.

So, what other judgments should the government make?

Who should decide what judgments the government should make?

Why don't we punish the parents who choose not to teach their kids about sex, and the kids have children themselves before they have even turned 18?

The list of things released by opening the Padora's box you propose staggers the mind.

The world is filled with bloody, crying shames, including innumerable children ALREADY here and ALREADY alive that are unwanted. BEFORE we say "bear all children" we MUST COMMIT to taking care of those ALREADY here.

That's not going to happen.

posted by Jack on December 22, 2004 09:33 PM

Whoooooaaaa, reread my third paragraph.

I humbly ask that the doctors do everything they can to bring the child into the world alive.

If a baby that weighs 8 ounces can be brought into the world alive, many aborted babies can as well...if they are not killed before given a chance.

Choosing to end a pregnancy is one thing, demanding the child die is quite another.

posted by Key on December 22, 2004 10:17 PM

And yes, we must commit to taking care of those who are already here.

I'm doing my part, or as much as I can anyway.

(Meanwhile, there is a 3 to 5 year waiting list for newborn adoptions.)

posted by Key on December 22, 2004 10:21 PM

Funny thing about the clarification in your "Whooooaaaa" comment: That's sort of the impression I got when I read the original statement, and I had to go back and re-read it to see what you were clarifying. I get your drift, though I somehow just inferred it when I first read.

Anyway, two things occur to me, so I'll blurt them out:

I've never heard anyone request or suggest logical separation between ending a pregnancy and ending a life. The idea that doctors should seek to save a life during pregnancy termination is both obvious and a bit profound. Obvious because, well, it's obvious, now that you mention it. Profound because, well, it had never occurred to me. The case you use as your example makes the point, and a good point it is.

And yes, I do believe life exists before delivery, just as I believe that there's a big difference between some guy (me, for instance) telling a woman not to get an abortion and me telling my neighbor not to, say, kill his uncle. Conflicted? Oh yeah.

As for the second thing: My mother was a staunch (staunch!) Catholic, and the day she essentially said that "a mother should have the right to request a child be removed from her person at any point" you could have knocked me over with a feather. It certainly changed the dynamic by which I view abortion. But perhaps not as much as the revelation contained in my first point, above.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

posted by Patton on December 22, 2004 11:40 PM

Your last sentence took the wind out of your third paragraph, so that's what I was responding to.


At the risk of sounding even more cold-bloodedly harsh than you accuse yourself of being when you discuss Social Security reform, we are already breeding ourselves for more premature babies and deformities by the extraordinary measures we take to "save every baby", thereby ensuring that the genes that cause premature births, birth defects, and other characteristics we do not wish on anyone are preserved and eventually propagated.

Am I advocating euthanasia or deliberate baby killing of babies with birth defects as has been done in the past of our human race? Nope, but I AM saying we need to look at the long term consequences of our actions, including making decisions fraught with a huge emotional component.

As a counterpoint to your proposal, I suggest that any baby that cannot survive outside the womb without heroic intervention should be allowed to die as painlessly as possible, otherwise we are on the path to breeding for MORE premature births, MORE birth defects, and MORE people who consistently make BAD decisions.

Cold-blooded? Yes. Heartless? Possibly. But, so is deciding to go to war and sending hundreds of people to their deaths, and changing the lives of thousands for the worse in ways that are rarely recognized and even more rarely recompensed. Yet we are willing to make those decisions because it is "the right thing for our nation" or "the right thing for the human race".

Which decision has the larger, long term consequences?

posted by Jack on December 22, 2004 11:42 PM

Jack, I'm so thrilled to have you in my time zone.

I threw an update out there, but I doubt it will bring us any closer together. ; )

None-the-less, I shall be happy to continue the dance, once well-rested...

(Something to chew on, I'd lay down my life for the life of an infant. So yeah, maybe I do value young life over old. Do we not grieve our children over our parents? This is natural, n'est-ce pas?)

Patton: "Thought-provoking" is high praise. Thank you.

posted by Key on December 23, 2004 12:26 AM

You've only got me here in this time zone for about 11 more days, so enjoy it while it lasts!!!

You are correct that your update doesn't bring us any closer together, because you do not address my point of how we are breeding ourselves towards MORE premature births and MORE defects. So, my relating abortion, heroic measures taken to save premature babies, and your proposal to the decision to go to war does not really say "young life over old", it is an example of how we make decisions on death for the larger good of our culture and many times we say for humanity at large.

So, are we doing humanity at large any favors by allowing the genes that relate to birth defects and premature births to propogate? I say we are not, it is just most don't have the intestinal fortitude to do something about it, yet they have the temerity to lecture those who don't agree with them that every baby still in the womb is precious and should be preserved at any and all costs. Valuing potential life over life that is already in existence (and in my argument relating it to decisions to go to or support a war, "old" can be anything from 18 to 65) is driven by emotion and, dare I say, instict, not what is rational for the survival and success of the species. Nor is it morally consistent.

Rest up, I want to see your counter-argument.

Patton's praise of "thought-provoking" is well deserved, as you can see I have put more verbiage in your comments than in my own blog today.

posted by Jack on December 23, 2004 01:17 AM

Jack, one flaw in your argument is that, as we made advances in the field of medicine, there are fewer and fewer premie-related birth defects. Seriously premie babies are living full, healthy lives these days with little or even no side effects from their early arrival. Yes, it is not perfect, but it is getting better and better as time goes on.

Another flaw in your argument is that promoting premature birth instead of abortion will propogate certain genes ( your quote: "So, are we doing humanity at large any favors by allowing the genes that relate to birth defects and premature births to propogate?") Unless I am completely misreading this, you're confusing the issue. By promoting these particular premie births, you're not allowing the propogation of those genes because this is an induced procedure, not a natural process. There is no genetics involved. Any birth defects would be truly a defect due to early birth, not a gene code defect. Same goes with the tendency to deliver early- unless there is a genetic propensity to seek an abortion.

posted by Beth on December 23, 2004 12:34 PM

*groan, whine*

Jaaack, you're making me work on my day off...

Okay, fine.

I'm not THAT insensitive on SSI. I think next year's 18 year old should have the choice between letting the US Treas handle their 15% or putting in an IRA. And I disagree with you in your fear of a bottom, because no matter how versatile the stock market, it ain't gonna diminish a return like good 'ol Uncle Sam will.

No, I don't like handouts. If you're able-bodied enough to walk out to the mailbox and retrieve a check, you're able-bodied enough to do something for a living.

Please tell me you do not have more sympathy for one of these scenarios than you do fully developed baby being legally killed because it's on the wrong side of the womb.

Part of this is a disgust that partial birth abortions EVER took place. I will always mourn those deaths. They were murdered. The doctors EASILY could have brought them in alive. They had rights. They didn't need her to live on their own. They were murdered.

Why not give the child a chance? And I'm not discussing the rarity that seeks a late abortion because she has discovered that the child has severe defects. Even the doctors will refer to that as an "optional medical procedure" rather than using the term "abortion" in that sensitive situation.

When I say "abortion," I mean it to define the removal of perfectly healthy child from someone's uterus cuz they don't want it there, and can't even handle it hanging out a few months until it can grow, thrive and be adopted out.

In which case, why isn't it our practice to try to save the child, premature though it may be. If the adoptive parents are willing to put up with minor developmental delays and hefty medical bills, which many would, then why not?

I stand by my statement that even if a woman has a right to choose to end her pregnancy, she should NOT have the right to insist the child be killed in the process.

Having said that, glad I got ya thinking. We haven't danced in a while. ; )

And Beth, I appreciate you weighing in as well.

posted by Key on December 23, 2004 03:13 PM

Jack, your comment about abortion being legitimate because there are already unwanted children in the world is an exercise in reductio ad absurdum. That's like saying we should not build automobiles because Pintos exploded. They are completely separate issues. To even think along the lines of "If I kill you before you are born I may spare you the possibility of neglect or abuse or hunger down the road" is absurd. There are better arguments than that.

Also: I am not saying that abortion kills a child. But SOMETHING dies. Please explain what that something is.

Thanks, V (aka the Devil's Advocate)

And, yes, I am breaking my rule. For Key, because I wanted her to clarify her remarks.

posted by Velociman on December 23, 2004 10:30 PM


Good question: What, if not a child, dies? There are stages in life, and we give them names. Newborn, infant, toddler, child, pre-teen, pain-in-my-damn-ass, adult. You get the idea.

"Fetus", while nice and medical sounding, seems a clinical way to avoid the recognition that SOMETHING dies, but that it's not a something that matters. Not that I think this is what you're saying, by the way - you're carefully avoiding saying too much at all, for reasons I think I can understand. You're just asking, is all.

I'll grant that there's a legitimate argument that "the point of conception" isn't personhood, but it's also not, as Key crisply points out, simply a matter of which side of the womb one happens to inhabit at a given moment in time, either. Partial birth abortion (as opposed to "optional medical procedure"), for instance, seems indistinguishable from murder, in my mind, particularly given the adoption alternative.

Per your last comment on the matter over at your place:

"I basically withhold opinion on the matter. It is extremely personal, and I don't have a uterus."

Spoken like a man who's admitted to having "funded". I agree completely and can directly relate, to my (and nobody else's - it's me judging ME, not her, not you, not anyone else) continued regret.

It seems like there had to have been a better way, but making demands of someone's uterus other than my own wasn't something I was able to pull off. Still can't. It's a hard, hard problem.

posted by Patton on December 24, 2004 01:00 AM

As a person who was born extremely premature and with a very low birth weight (more than three months early, and under one pound), this is a very difficult issue for me to tackle without emotion. I could extremely easily have been an abortion instead of a premature birth, but here I am today, without any mental or physical handicaps. I realize I'm an exception to the rule (I'm one of less than a dozen born in similar circumstances in the last twenty-five years to be both living and without any form of handicap), but there's a reason for it--I was born prematurely. I was not aborted because my mother didn't want me in there anymore. And when I was born, I was a healthy baby. Many premature births are really miscarriages that survive--the body naturally aborts them because there's something wrong with the baby, and your (and all other animals) body is programmed to not waste time, energy, and strength on carrying a child that won't survive. So many of the difficulties that arise with caring for a premature baby won't apply to an aborted baby.

I agree with you, Key, in that a woman should have the right to have a fetus/baby removed from her body at any point. But into the second trimester, efforts should be made to save the baby and adopt it out. I, for one, would be proud to adopt any child, and I know I'm far from alone.

Further, I feel like I'm some sort of living proof that if a child is removed from its mother's body even relatively early in the pregnancy, if the child is healthy, then it can survive with little to know side-effects from the early birth.

If it matters in any way in this debate, I only required medical help for two weeks before I was sent home, and even then I only required oxygen and heat for that time.

posted by Samira on December 26, 2004 06:19 PM

Thank you Samira. I really appreciate your personal testimony. It's a tough subject, and you KNOW I had to be rather frustrated to go there!

The pic of that baby that went home during Christmas week was the motivation that kicked this rant out of my head and into the forum.

posted by Key on December 27, 2004 11:53 AM

(Advance apologies for extraneous noise)

The discussion's likely over for this issue here, at least for now, but I thought I'd drop a link to what seems like an intelligent discussion of what our country's approach to abortion could be, from George Will's Jan 2, 2005 column. It fairly encapsulates the political, legislative, and judicial aspects of the matter, and draws a stark line between pro-choice and anti-life.

Speaking of Sarah Blustain's article in December's issue of "The American Prospect", Will says:

"She, like increasing numbers of thoughtful supporters of abortion rights, finds the way some pro-choice people talk about abortion -- entirely in a defiant and even celebratory language of rights -- to be insufficiently nuanced."

Sounds about right to me, and might be descriptive of folks on both sides of this difficult issue. But it struck me hard enough to come back and pass it along, should you or your readers find it of value.

posted by Patton on January 2, 2005 04:58 AM

Thank you Patton. I, for one, appreciate you passing the information along.

posted by Key on January 3, 2005 12:47 PM
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