Give Me Half A Pound Of Soul

An ambulance crew brings in a shooting victim; one shot to the chest, one to the head.  There was a lot of blood loss from the chest wound, and the victim is in immense cardiopulmonary distress.

The head wound missed the medulla, at the brain stem, the part that controls the heart and breathing and the rest of the body’s automatic functions (and, for most of the Minnesota Progressive Project staff, their writing as well) – so the victim didn’t die instantly.  But the victim seems to be non-responsive; there are indications his brain functions are badly damaged; he may be in a coma, or worse.

So the doctors give up and administer a massive overdose of morphine to kill the patient, because it’s all over anyway and why drag it on?

Well, no.  They don’t. They stabilize the patient as best they can.  They check further to see if the brain is really shut down; if it’s not, they do what they can to restore function.

When in doubt, they err on the side of saving lives [1].

Now, I don’t write a lot about abortion.  I’m opposed to it, of course; I’m personally pro-life.  I find most of the arguments in favor of “choice” to be self-indulgent and childish.  I’m going to skip most of them – it’s nothing I haven’t written about in some depth, of course.

With that in mind, the argument about the “viability” – the idea that a fetus isn’t really all that terribly human until it’s “viable”, or capable of living on its own – is perhaps less stupid than most.  It’s wrong, of course; after three kids, I can say with authority that a “fetus” isn’t “viable” until it can get a job and pay its own rent.

More seriously?  I believe that since a fertilized egg, left to its own devices (no medical intervention for or against its existence – just like in our great-great-grandparents’ time) will gestate for nine months 75% of the time, and those who get that far will be born alive two out of three times (those stats are from primitive cultures like 1890-era rural Minnesota), it’s fairly clear that whatever the physics and physiology and metaphysics behind the process, the whole thing is intended to create living, breathing human beings.  Beyond that?  I think it’s fairly clear that since preemies have been successfully brought along to fairly normal lives as early as 22 weeks into gestation, that the idea that a “fetus” isn’t “human” until a 40-week fetus’ umbilical is cut is a self-indulgent, illogical absurdity.

None of the above, by the way, touches on spirituality at any level.  It’s nothing but logic, so far.

But I’m a Christian.  I believe  that every person (except Ryan Seacrest) has a soul.

“When?”

We don’t know.

Souls are not measurable.  There’s no place in human physiology that’s been identified as a “soul fill valve”, leading to a “soul tank” where the ephemeral concept is kept.  It’s not like a brain wave, much less synonymous with it, and if it were, the gunshot victim in the example above would be out of luck.  Not everyone agrees that there is such a thing; atheists all bet the “under” on Pascal’s Wager.    No matter – if you assume there is no soul, and are motivated by anything other than naked self-interest, it actually makes the question harder to resolve.  We’ll come back to that.

So the question – part of it, anyway – is “when does a fetus get a soul?”

Dog Gone at Penigma writes a very long treatise that says, essentially,  we don’t know because spirutual authorities have never agreed on the subject:

I have read widely on the subject of our human soul and spirituality, and listened to many different voices pontificating ther dogma on the subject in the course of satisfying my own curiosity…This breadth of recognition might suggest some sort of consensus, some unanimity of understanding, a clarity and agreement on definition, right?

Of course, not.  Ecclesiastical bodies have fought long, bloody wars over the subject; when two of the great Christian denominations have been split for almost a thousand years over the Nicene Creed and the job description for saints, when Presbyterian congregations fall into epic near-blood-feuds over applause in church, to say nothing of gay marriage, looking for general consensus on the nature of the Soul is hopelessly optimistic.

There is no consensus across history or across the geography of our planet on any single specific aspect of that essence we name souls. We don’t agree on what it is; we don’t agree on when it is inside of us; we don’t agree on the origins. We don’t even fully agree on whether or not the soul is immortal or eternal; some believe that the soul can die, others that it grows as the body grows, with experience. We don’t agree on how, where, and from whom our souls derive. We don’t agree on who or what possesses a soul.

DG goes on to note that even within Christian tradition, the idea of the genesis of the soul has knocked around a bit:

The Christian tradition is contradictory. The roots of early Judaism posited that animals, at least some animals, had souls, as do other religious and spiritual traditions. In Islam, the belief is that the soul enters the body of a fetus in utero after 40 days. Not 90 or 180 days, not 30 minutes, and not at conception; they are quite definite on the 40 day figure. But then, in the Islamic faith, not only humans have souls either. Djinn and angels also have souls in that faith’s traditions. In the Druidic tradition, and in many other traditions (the many irreverent verses of “Give me that old time religion” are playing in my head) so do some trees and other inanimate objects.

Right.  But then, traditional religion from the dawn of time until pretty recently believed all sorts of stuff we find crazy today; insert boilerplate here about burning witches and kosher laws and selling indulgences and human sacrifice and stoning gays (oops; one religion still does that).

Of course, in that era people couldn’t tell with any certainty that the crop they planted in April wouldn’t be eaten to the ground by bugs in July or blown away by a sudden storm in August; people never connected “taking a dump upstream from where you get your drinking water” and the hacking, fever-ridden wave of deaths that would periodically befall the village; in a village where the people had raised vegetables and sheep for uncounted generations, humans were born the same way the animals were; the way nature had left the process.  And it was an ugly process; 1/3 of babies (of the 3/4 that weren’t miscarried earlier) were stillborn or died of complications during delivery, as did 10% of the mothers (with each birth); and that was even before infant mortality set in.

So given the exceedingly crude nature of “science” back when years had three digits and the world’s major religious leaders were half a generation removed from raising keff and goats, especially the understanding of human physiology and development at the time, the question “when exactly does the soul inhabit the body” was purely academic; like “what will I wear on my third date with Scarlett Johannson”, it might be fun to think about, but the practical application is pretty minimal.

But today, the vast majority of “fetuses”, barring pseudomedical interference and, of course, miscarriage, survive until birth and beyond.  Not only that, but as noted above “fetuses” born just past half-term go on to live normal lives – utterly unthinkable even a generation ago (which, if logic rather than politics reigned, would make most non-health-related third-term abortions murder).  We don’t know when life is viable, but the boundaries keep getting pushed back.

The objective boundaries, anyway.

And since, unlike my third date with Scarlett Johannson, the essense of life is actually a valid, testable question these days, the question “when does viable, human life begin” isn’t an academic question.

100 years ago, the gunshot victim in the first paragraph might have been given up for dead without bothering with a trip to a hospital.  Today, science can find out if there really is a brain function in there that can be nursed back into control of the body.  People what would have been give up for dead fifty years ago walk among us today.

And definitions of “when does a human become human” written a thousand years ago by people for whom it was an utterly academic question are no more informative to us today than surgery textbooks from 1700 are to the Mayo today.

Leaving aside the fact that the concept of “the soul” is ephemeral and unmeasurable in any way; even the fairly objective measurement of “when life begins” is, paradoxically, more difficult than ever, since science has made the instrumentation and criteria so much finer than before.

And so the paradox is, if you care about the intangibles that make humans human, the more we know about how life works, the less meaningful the attempts to put an arbitrary, “objective” limit on them.  How do you put a number on something that gets less measurable, the better able to measure it you theoretically are?

Since we don’t know – and, unlike the rabbis of the Old Testament and the druids and popes and mullahs of 1000 years ago, we know what we don’t know – then if you believe that human life has any intangible but real value (call it a “soul” if you want, or “worth as a human life” if you don’t), then the only logical response, as with the gunshot victim above, is to err on the side of life.  If we don’t know life to be absent in an organism that is intended to live, then you assume it – he or she – is alive.

And you can tell Pope Pius II I said so.

[1] Although with Obamacare in place, they’ll have to check with a committee of government accountants and lawyers for medical advice, first.

37 thoughts on “Give Me Half A Pound Of Soul

  1. Whenever the conversation is about abortion, and the person I’m talking to is “Pro-Choice”, an early question I have for them is exactly what is their birth date? When they respond I will tell them that just a short gestation period prior to that time the wrong choice had been made. Because had the decision been to abort, their demise would have saved some countless other “souls” from the butchers hand.

    “I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.” ~Ronald Reagan

  2. Not quite so much a treatise, Mitch, as an account of my own exploration of the subject, LOL, under the title ‘soul searching’. (Long? Ahem, dear friend, you’ve written more than a few things a LOT longer!)

    Given that SitD is the first blog I read, a bit over a year ago, and that reading SitD led me to start blogging on Penigma about six months ago (and being invited to write on two more blogs after that), it is a sort of milestone for me to have you respond to something I’ve written — so thank you. Even if you don’t agree with me.

    When Mitch writes: ” we know what we don’t know – then if you believe that human life has any intangible but real value (call it a “soul” if you want, or “worth as a human life” if you don’t), then the only logical response, as with the gunshot victim above, is to err on the side of life. If we don’t know life to be absent in an organism that is intended to live, then you assume it – he or she – is alive.”

    What Mitch leaves out that was the core thought of Soul Searching is exactly that “we don’t know”, that our beliefs are not knowledge, and that this is an area of very deep spiritual conscience for each person, one which should not, in the name of erring on any side, be taken away from each person to decide for themselves. And that to enforce your beliefs, or the beliefs of others who oppose abortion on those who believe in choice is to impose your own religion, with an arrogance that insists your morality is superior to everyone else’s who disagrees with you.

    Iwould argue with you that it is ultimately NOT an equivalent example or valid analogy to compare how we treat a person who may or may not be brain dead but who at some point clearly was alive by all of our criteria in comparison to fetal tissue which may or may not survive and which arguably has not advanced to being a full and separate human being.

    What IS true is that how we manage the instance of possible brain death is determined by one thing and one thing only – the wishes of the individual as to Do not revive./ do not resuscitate orders, or absent a known expressed wish, the decision of immediate family or their designated person for these decisions. It is NOT automatic, or absolute, by any stretch ethically that the decision will be to intervene to stabilize or continue life.

    If you must follow this analogy, then likewise it is the decision of those who are most closelly involved in the potential life of an embryo, the parents, who properly make the decision about life or death. It is not an automatic slam dunk that the decision must be that the embryo should continue to develop.

    A very Merry Christmas to you, la belle Bun, and Zam!

  3. Nothing light tackling a light subject for a Monday.

    I noticed you didn’t mention the doctors praying to save the gunshot victim, which would probably be the most effective medical treatment if what I’m told is correct.

  4. “after three kids, I can say with authority that a “fetus” isn’t “viable” until it can get a job and pay its own rent.”

    Mitch, I can say the same. When they claim they are adults I respond with, “Then start acting like one.”, and then I start talking about a job and rent… they tend to get really quiet really quickly.

    …. …. …. ….

    As for abortion, a soul has no part in the discussion of abortion laws.

    The logic part of Mitch’s point is spot on.

    Quite frankly it is a simple debate that is easily won against pro-abortion people like DG/Peevee et al.

    Because,
    1) Living human cells. Yes, it is indeed a human life. DG, it doesn’t have the “potential” to be alive because it IS alive!!!!! Please tell us that you don’t think this is about aborting an already dead baby/fetus/embryo, please.
    2) Different DNA than the mother.
    3) It is the responsibility of government to protect innocent lives.

    Therefore, at what point is the government responsible for protecting human lives?

    a) 18 Minutes
    b) 18 Hours
    c) 18 Days
    d) 18 Weeks
    e) 18 Months
    f) 18 Years
    g) 18 decades
    h) 18 scores

  5. Wow, Scott. I bet that approach changes a lot of minds.

    In come cultures, the high rate of infant mortality led (and perhaps still leads) to the practice of not naming a child until it’s a year old. While that practice might tell us something about when that cultural group believes personhood comes into being, it doesn’t suggest that infanticide would be okay.

    So I’m not putting much stock in the fact that various religious traditions don’t agree on when the soul forms.

    A fetus is a human life. Or perhaps a potential human life. We don’t let people include a fetus as a dependent on their tax returns, however.

  6. I agree that is ridiculous to say that a fetus magically becomes a person as soon as the umbilical cord is cut. But I think it’s just as ridiculous to say a fetus magically becomes a person as soon as that first cell divides. I’m guessing the “personness” sets in sometime during the second trimester.

    [And Scott, be honest: you don’t say that to people to make a point, you say it to piss off people that don’t agree with you.]

  7. DG – but doesn’t a “pro-choice” person force his or her beliefs on the baby when they choose an abortion? Call it an embryo if you want to be technical and oh-so-clinical, but that collection of cells and tissue is not random. A genetic code was imparted, and blood was created, when the sperm and egg got together. Left to itself and barring any fatal genetic errors, that mass will not become a guppy or a puppy but a human. Granted, not one with a lot of hopes, dreams and aspirations at that point but one that 4D imaging and fiber-optic cameras have proven to be remarkably complex and reactive as National Geographic showed it its “In the Womb” documentary (last I checked, NG wasn’t part of the SBS network).

    When a baby is born with critical life-threatening problems it is, indeed, up to the parents to make the difficult decisions about heroic measures regarding the child’s life and possible death. Similarly, in utero, they have the same responsibility with a struggling “fetus”. I have been very near those agonizing situations in my life. In neither case, however, do I think parents have a right or responsibility to terminate an otherwise healthy life. To be sure, according to the laws of this land, this restriction applies only if the child lives long enough to be born. Further, I don’t think it is a religious distinction – “to err on the side of life” is human.

  8. “1) Living human cells. Yes, it is indeed a human life. DG, it doesn’t have the “potential” to be alive because it IS alive!!!!!”

    I’m sorry KY, but a cell is not a human life. It has no conciousness, it has no perception, it has no thought, it has no capacity for cause and effect, it has no capacity for learning: in short, it has no capacity for anything that would be rightly called a human being.

    The definition of what makes a living human being is debatable, but a cell does not qualify. Having the DNA makeup of a human being doesn’t make you a person, it makes you a DNA. I don’t see the Catholics of the world holding candelight vigils for dandruff or demanding that their tax dollars not be spent on organ transplants.

  9. NW – The syllogism against abortion goes as such. “It is wrong to take an innocent human life. A fetus is an innocent human life. Therefore, it is wrong to abort a fetus.” This is a valid argument. The counter to this is that the syllogism is only correct if it states: “It is wrong to take the life of an innocent human being. A fetus is not a human being. Therefore it can be acceptable to take the life of a fetus.”

    The error in the first syllogism is that using “human life” interchangeably with “human being” is equivocation. There is a difference between the two terms that need to be addressed before an honest debate regarding abortion can commence.

  10. Night Writer says”DG – but doesn’t a “pro-choice” person force his or her beliefs on the baby when they choose an abortion?”

    No more so than when an individual or those designated to act for him or her make a decision not to continue life with enforcing a DNR order. We recognize the right to make decisions about continuing life – or not.

    We accept that there are ethical and moral decisions about ending life that are up to the individual, or when an individual is incapable, of those nearest relatives.

    Can you demonstrate to me that an embryo has beliefs?

    What Mitch didn’t include that was covered in soul searching is defining what makes us human, including examining when humans (more or less) prehistorically appear to have developed a belief in a deity or deities, and by inference of burial customs, our souls. Raising the question were neanderthal and cro-magnon ‘man’ as human as we are for purposes of this discussion, or were they NOT the special beings we believe ourselves to be, distinct in that regard (essentially having a soul) from other animal life?

    I’m so very sorry NW that you found yourself having to deal with those agonizing decisions about heroic measures. I have been in a similar situation with regard to decisions about heroic measures, in the context of parents who were ill. It is a unique pain.

    What you propose is essentially to remove the maximum degree of choice from those most directly concerned, over riding that choice with your beliefs. I can’t condone that.

    My answer to you NW is that it is not reasonable, moral or ethical to assign equivalent rights to a few cells comparable to those we assign to fully developed human beings. They are not the same. Further, they do not have an absolute claim to a right to life that supercedes the rights of the parents who conceive the embryo (I would accord equal rights to both parents). I don’t believe any of us can fairly anticipate all of the possible situations where someone might appropriately consider abortion as an option. I certainly do not assume that it is a decision arrived at lightly by anyone.

    KR, I addressed the questions you raise in soul searching, and see no value in repeating them here. If you are really that interested, as much as I prefer not to engage in any discussion with you until such time as you apologize for calling me a bitch, I would be willing to email you the post so you can read my answer since you cannot access Penigma while banned.

  11. apathyboy Says: [And Scott, be honest: you don’t say that to people to make a point, you say it to piss off people that don’t agree with you.]

    Honest disclosure………I don’t hold to the notion that it’s my problem or fault if the discussion pisses someone off.

    Most of the abortions performed are done as birth control. Why don’t we allow the practice to take place anytime during gestation? Maybe 1 day in, or 100 days in, or 200 days in , or even 270 days in? Beyond the legal niceties, the reason is we have methods to view the unborn very early on, and darn if they don’t look like human life early in the gestation process. Many who have had abortions have remorse after the deed is done and seek counselling to ease their remorse/grief/depression.

  12. AB wrote (nice blog you have btw AB – I visited it for the first time earlier today) “I’m sorry KY, but a cell is not a human life. It has no conciousness, it has no perception, it has no thought, it has no capacity for cause and effect, it has no capacity for learning: in short, it has no capacity for anything that would be rightly called a human being. ”

    Precisely. Did you read what I wrote on Penigma/

    It is possible to create a viable embryo able to mature to an age suitable for implantation into a host woman’s womb from skin cells.

    That doesn’t make the hangnail I just got rid of capable of being an independent life.

    We can freeze semen, ova, embryos, foreskins from which skin cells are grown. But we cannot freeze mature individuals and thaw them out again alive. Which is yet another argument that embryos up to a certain level of development are tissue, not full and equal individuals.

  13. No, AB, I think saying that there is a difference between a human life and a human being is an equivocation. Life, as in a heartbeat, functioning organs, staying above room temperature. Saying something looks like a human but isn’t a human is accurate if you’re talking about a Barbie Doll, not a living being. While decisions may be made to end someone’s suffering (and even that may be hard to determine), what is the basis for terminating someone (“something”) that isn’t suffering? Sentience? REM sleep has been observed in the womb, as has response to stimuli. Even if you assign only a low-level sentience to such demonstrations, is there really a question that – if left to develop – the little life in the womb won’t become even more sentient?

    Look, I used to be pro-choice. It was “logical” and didn’t impinge on my life-style. And then I saw the 2D ultrasound of my daughter at just 8 weeks of development (since my wife had had her tubes tied – and not untied – the ob-gyn thought she might have an ectopic pregnancy) and clearly saw a head and arms I changed my belief. Religious or not, if you believe there is a soul and that you, yourself, have one, needlessly terminating a life would have to scar it.

  14. “And that to enforce your beliefs, or the beliefs of others who oppose abortion on those who believe in choice is to impose your own religion, with an arrogance that insists your morality is superior to everyone else’s who disagrees with you.”

    If you have ever seen pictures of an abortion and it’s aftermath, and you are not rocked back in horror, you have no morality to measure; end of conversation.

    Whether you proclaim a faith or not matters not a whit. I don’t need God or the Pope to tell me the basics of human decency…it came pre-programmed.

  15. DG – it is agonizing to make a decision in the best interests of a terminally ill parent or a profoundly disabled child (perinatal or neonatal). With an adult you can have sense of their desires and also know there is no “getting better”. To some extent, the same with an infant. I would say, however, it is the family member’s responsibility, not right, to make a decision in the other’s best interests, agonizing as it is. Pregnancy also brings a parental responsibility, not a right. You have a right to decide not to become pregnant; once pregnant you have a responsibility – whether asked for or not. (Some might even say that being able to think of something outside of ourselves and our own needs is a large part of what makes us human). If there is no profoundly life-limiting reason to terminate an infant’s life then why do it? Because it’s inconvenient? Because one can’t afford it? Because there really is a fate worse than death? Oh, what a glorious, evolved, fully-developed people we have become!

  16. Global warming is such a dire threat that although we can’t prove it exists, we must act now to save the planet.

    This logic appeals to Progressives. When the science is in doubt, we should take the safest, most conservative approach, right?

    Loss of human life is such a dire threat that although we can’t prove when it begins, we should act to preserve life by banning abortion except in extreme circumstances.

    So why doesn’t that logic also resonate with them in this arena?

    If you can’t prove it’s NOT a human being, then shouldn’t we assume it IS a human being?

    I acknowledge that doesn’t end the discussion. Certain human beings are entitled to government protection and others are not (convicted murderers may be put to death, enemy combatants slaughtered, etc).

    But it’d be a lot more honest to say “Sure, the unborn child is a human being, but it’s not entitled to government protection. It’s a second-class human like African Americans were in the last century or Jews in Muslim countries. Humans can be killed only for necessity but sub-humans can be killed for convenience.”

    Personally, I do not believe that to be true. And I don’t know anybody who’d come right out and argue it. But that seems to be the underlying rationale of their arguments, veiled in legalese and shrouded in doubt.
    .

  17. NW, one of the assumptions which I would challenge is that abortions are routinely done simply because a pregnancy is inconvenient. While I cannot argue that this never happens, I would respectfully argue that this is a comparatively rare occurrence compared to the other more legitimate reasons for abortions.

    In a recent mailing from Physician for Reproductive Choice and Health, they address an example of this in the context of a larger discussion of reproductive health care reforrm.

    They note for example almost two-thirds of wome receiving abortions are already mothers (which would argue against the assumption that this is a matter simply of convenience or lacking valueing life). The letter goes on to describe an example of when a woman considers the option of abortion, describing a 24 year old married woman who is the mother of a 7 month old son when she has an unplanned pregnancy.

    She and her husband are initially excited at the prospect of another child, then they discover they are having twins…..still happy. Then they discover both of the twins have a severe fetal abnormality. There is a very high risk of stillbirth, and if they survive birth, it would only be for a matter of minutes. Her current insurance will only pay for the much more expensive option of carrying to term, while an abortion would be both far less expensive and shorten the period of this tragedy and grief for both the parents. Paying out of pocket for an abortion of this kind with extra risks requiring hopsitalization would bankrupt the family.

    Likewise the late Dr. Tiller in Kansas who was shot by an anti-abortion extremist, frequently performed late term abortions where the fetus was dead, but where due to technical interpretations of language, to remove the dead fetus was abortion, not covered by insurance, and not accessible in many hospitals.

    I am arguing that people of principle should not make assumptions about the morals and ethics (or lack thereof) of couples who find themselves in situations like the one I just described. People who are adversely affected by some of the proppsed versions that are very limiting to reproductive health care in the Health Care Reform proposals in Congress.

    If the concern is legitimately about abortions for convenience, then support comprehensive sex ed that promotes BOTH abstinence AND contraceptive information. Expand, not cut, the options of financial support to women who find themselves pregnant to make it more reasonable to chose to continue a pregnancy where there is difficulty.

    Lastly, as I argued in some of the comment area of soul searching, I would suggest most strongly to you that too often women who become pregnant have not at all consented to that condition, that sex resulting in pregnancy occurs that is short of out right rape but still coercive and far from entirely consensual and clearly not where the woman is willing to become pregnant. I would emphatically assert that no woman should have to be pregnant against her will, that to force that situation to exist is as immoral as any rape. That before abortion was widely legal, women died horribly or were harmed for life, either by attempting to perform the procedure unsafely themselves, or at the hands of back street abortionists.
    No woman would contemplate that if the situation they faced was not horrific, and devoid of reasonable alternatives. I don’t want to see us ever, ever ever return to that status quo.

  18. Swiftee wrote: “If you have ever seen pictures of an abortion and it’s aftermath, and you are not rocked back in horror, you have no morality to measure; end of conversation. ”

    I have been present at an actual abortion Swiftee, a procedure called menstrual extraction, essentially a version of a D&C (dilation and curettage), and witnessed first hand what was removed from the uterus. Much more real than mere photos, and no, I did not recoil in horror. Before that, my high school biology teacher who taught us very comprehensive sex ed, he was a PhD, had a variety of preserved specimens in our science class, including fetuses at different stages of development in glass containers of formaldehyde. Also much more real than photos, and very effective in persuading us to practice intelligent contraception when we were ready to become sexually active – which he discouraged aggressively until we were mature adults. I’m sure you’re perfectly willing to damn not only myself, and my teacher, but also my classmates to hell, but that doesn’t make you right to do so.

    I repudiate you as a judge of my morality.

  19. “but a cell is not a human life”

    ApathticBoy, I said “Living human cells.”, not the one cell from your strawman.

    Most logical people (you and DG aren’t) realize the fact that it takes two cells, alive, not dead.

    You two really aren’t that smart if you don’t think a baby/fetus is alive.

    ….

    DogNAGit, I understand your reluctance to debate the issue. You addressed nothing; your strawmen are quite thin. Maybe you aren’t as much of a coward as Peevish Boy, but, as they say, “Water seeks its own level.”
    I suggest you stop acting like a whining sniveling baby, if your skin were any more thin you would have a reservoir tip on your head.

    …. ….

    Scott, NW, nate: all solid points, well thought out, logical.

    …. ….

    Why is it so hard for moon bats to answer the question?

    At what point is the government responsible for protecting human lives?

  20. Dog Gone, your moral calculus balances the life of a human being against the difficulty of raising a third child, the expense of a special needs child, or the lack of blameworthiness of mother in getting pregnant, and finds the human life wanting in all cases.

    In each case, you’d prohibit the government from protecting the innocent human being’s life, not only in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother, but especially in cases where it’d be inconvenient for mother to put up with the burden of having that child right now.

    Not raising the child, mind you – it’s perfectly legal to give birth and give the child up for adoption. The ease or difficulty of placement casts no burden on the mother – she’s off the hook. We’re strictly talking about protecting the child’s life or killing it, and you favor Option B.

    That rational has been used before to justify exterminating inconvenient human beings – your intellectual comrades in Rwanda and Darfur spring to mind. I wonder if you relish their company?

    Perhaps you’d like to enlighten us further? In your world view, who else’s lives aren’t worth protecting: Blacks, as the Klan said? Women, as some Asian and Muslim cultures seem to believe? People over 70, fat people, Republicans – who else is on your death list?

    .

  21. nate, good question, I wonder how long is DG’s death list.

    DogNAGit, are you really that ignorant to claim it is “rare” for people to have abortions because the pregnancy is inconvenient?

    And that 24 year old pregnant strawman. Please stop.

    And as for your morality, sounds a lot like your Obamassiah’s view of sin; it’s not a sin if he doesn’t consider it a sin, eh.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

  22. Nate wrote: “That rational has been used before to justify exterminating inconvenient human beings – your intellectual comrades in Rwanda and Darfur spring to mind. I wonder if you relish their company?

    Perhaps you’d like to enlighten us further? In your world view, who else’s lives aren’t worth protecting: Blacks, as the Klan said? Women, as some Asian and Muslim cultures seem to believe? People over 70, fat people, Republicans – who else is on your death list? ”

    I think if you would rationally look at my statements, you would find that I am advocating a position that is protective of women, Nate. That you would posit I have a ‘death list’ is not only not warranted, it is as offensive as it is unjustified.

    The clearest thing that has emerged from this discussion so far as I can see is that you would rather believe that women are sluts who can’t be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies and who lack the morality to value life, than to look at the actual complexities of the topic. I don’t consider the 24 year old to be a straw man argument; quite the opposite. It vividly represents an example of real life choices about abortion, ones that are not about convenience by people who are in fact very moral.

    The other observation that occurs to me is that I seem to know more about sex in general, and a number of aspects of this subject specifically than most of the men commenting here. I don’t need to rely on television programs or sensationally captioned photos in anti-abortion literature for an informed opinion for my knowledge of conception and gestation.

    I know KR can’t read the original post from which Mitch has included excerpts, but I rather doubt some of the rest of you have bothered to consider the content with anything resembling an open mind or respect for another viewpoint.

    While you are congratulating yourself KR for coming up with a condom metaphor, do by all means pat yourself on the back as well for being a hypocrite who advocates abstinence only while not having yourself practiced abstinence (if you were truthful earlier and not simply engaging in dishonest bragging about your sexual exploits).

  23. “ApathticBoy, I said “Living human cells.”, not the one cell from your strawman.”

    “And that 24 year old pregnant strawman. Please stop.”

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    [an aside: how is this thread not 50 comments by now?]

  24. “I am advocating a position that is protective of women,”

    Well, well, well, how sexist of you, abort that baby if it has a penis!!!!

    …. …. ….

    Please stop with the strawmen, one human cell or health issues or rape or incest or otherwise.
    No one is claiming there won’t be ANY exceptions.

    …. …. ….

    “I seem to know more about sex in general,”

    followed by:

    “by all means pat yourself on the back as well”

    DogNAGit, what were you saying about “being a hypocrite”.

    😆 😆 😆

    …. …. ….

    “…who advocates abstinence only…”

    DogGone, put up or STFU. When specifically have I advocated that?
    Just because I disagree with you about the Federal government teaching young children how to have sex/safe anal sex/safe fisting doesn’t give you the right to make sh*t up. Please stop.

    …. …. ….

    “…while not having yourself practiced abstinence…”

    So what, that doesn’t change the fact that abstinence is 100% effective and I have never had an unwanted pregnancy. (afaik) (j/k)

    …. …. ….

    btw, I’m not the first to use the metaphor, but, like I said, if your skin were any thinner you would have a reservoir tip on your head.

    …. …. ….

    AB, regarding your aside, peevee/deegee have lots and lots and lots of words in their comments, they neither add substantive content nor do they add extra to the comment count.

  25. so much heat, so little light. If there’s anything that bugs me more than pro-choicers (I am Catholic), it is really dumb pro-lifers.

  26. “I have been present at an actual abortion Swiftee”

    You get to hold the legs, or did you strap ‘er down?

    “Before that, my high school biology teacher who taught us very comprehensive sex ed, he was a PhD”

    Oh shit…a PhD you say. Well, that’s different, then.

    “had a variety of preserved specimens in our science class, including fetuses at different stages of development in glass containers of formaldehyde…and very effective in persuading us to practice intelligent contraception”

    What better, more noble use for one’s progeny than sitting on a shelf in a slimy, foul smelling embalming solution to discourage a room full of texting teen age kids from getting horizontal. You make a real strong case for human dignity there, DG.

    “I repudiate you as a judge of my morality.”

    Well, I suppose I should be happy you’re not in a position to throw your D&C (dilation and curettage) souvenirs at me…so I’ve got that going for me.

  27. Swiftee wrote: ““I have been present at an actual abortion Swiftee”

    You get to hold the legs, or did you strap ‘er down?

    Neither, I was holding the hand of a friend making a very difficult decision, an experience which impressed me very much that this was not a decision women make lightly for convenience.

    “Before that, my high school biology teacher who taught us very comprehensive sex ed, he was a PhD”

    Oh shit…a PhD you say. Well, that’s different, then.

    Yes, Swiftee, having the benefit of the depth of knowledge of this particular PhD WAS a bit different than the quality of biology teaching in many schools, coupled with this particular teacher’s background growing up the son of a Christian missionary doctor in India. He had quite a lot to share with his students.

    “had a variety of preserved specimens in our science class, including fetuses at different stages of development in glass containers of formaldehyde…and very effective in persuading us to practice intelligent contraception”

    What better, more noble use for one’s progeny than sitting on a shelf in a slimy, foul smelling embalming solution to discourage a room full of texting teen age kids from getting horizontal. You make a real strong case for human dignity there, DG.

    Intersting assumptions YOU make Swiftee.

    One of the topics of discussion in our class happened to be the medical ethics, pro and con, of having those and other specimens, including balancing their scientific and educational value with the sanctity of life and the respect for specimens, not only those fetuses, but also cadavers used in medical school, etc. He did what teachers at their best do for their students, he taught, he caused students to think not just slide through the class.

    But you would prefer to leap to other conclusions. t makes it so much easier for you to be a judgmental self righteous jerk who cannot conceive of anyone else in the world being moral other than yourself or someone who holds exactly your own views.

    “I repudiate you as a judge of my morality.”

    Well, I suppose I should be happy you’re not in a position to throw your D&C (dilation and curettage) souvenirs at me…so I’ve got that going for me.

    D&C souvenirs? And YOU presume to talk about dignity?

  28. “Neither, I was holding the hand of a friend making a very difficult decision…”

    Yeah, well. I’m guessing it wasn’t as half as difficult for her as it was for the kid she was scragging. Just sayin’

    “Yes, Swiftee, having the benefit of the depth of knowledge of this particular PhD WAS a bit different than the quality of biology teaching in many schools, coupled with this particular teacher’s background growing up the son of a Christian missionary doctor in India. He had quite a lot to share with his students.”

    Oh, so he shared the benefits of his Christian upbringing? In a public school? Who are you trying to bullshit, lady. Did he quote Matthew 19:14?

    Some of the most ignorant, useless people I’ve ever run across have letters of learning taped to their names; with apologies to Angela Davis, it doesn’t mean much to me…sorry.

    “One of the topics of discussion in our class happened to be the medical ethics, pro and con, of having those and other specimens, including balancing their scientific and educational value with the sanctity of life and the respect for specimens, not only those fetuses, but also cadavers used in medical school, etc. He did what teachers at their best do for their students, he taught, he caused students to think not just slide through the class.”

    Oh. I am sorry. There’s nothing I’d rather have my children do than float in a jar and have a class debate whether it was right or not for me to be doing so. Pardon me.

    BTW. Cadavers are collected after they have lived and died…I’m pretty sure that the former owners donated their corpses; the unborn? Not so much.

    “But you would prefer to leap to other conclusions. t makes it so much easier for you to be a judgmental self righteous jerk who cannot conceive of anyone else in the world being moral other than yourself or someone who holds exactly your own views.”

    No lady. Nothing that complicated; I just know right from wrong…yup, it sucks for you scary smart liberals to realize, I know, but it really is just that easy.

    And, sorry, but in the case of infanticide I do find it awfully easy to stand in judgment of those who advocate it. It’s beneath contempt.

  29. swiftee wrote:
    “BTW. Cadavers are collected after they have lived and died…I’m pretty sure that the former owners donated their corpses; the unborn? Not so much.”

    There are also fetal cadavers Swiftee. You made the unfounded leap that these fetuses weren’t; they were. But instead of asking, you prefer to go for the worst possible interpretation in order to support your position.

    It would be a lot more believable that you have this deep respect for human life if you behaved towards your fellow humans a bit better.

    Swiftee wrote”
    “No lady. Nothing that complicated; I just know right from wrong…yup, it sucks for you scary smart liberals to realize, I know, but it really is just that easy. ”

    You make assumptions, failing to identify them for what they are – beliefs, not KNOWLEDGE.

    You skate over that there is no agreement on this issue, that religions, ethicists, medical and research personnel, and philosophers are far from being as certain as you blindly choose to be. This is far from a clear cut or easy determination about right from wrong, and it is not simple.

    However you do rather illustrate the folly of discussion with the closed minded, and the mysoginistic.

    Mitch writes” the fact is most abortions are, in fact, elective contraceptive procedures. ” The case of the 24 year old wife and mother I described above (an actual case with the name redacted) would by many of the ways of counting these choices be considered an elective, contraceptive abortion as well? Whereas it is far from simple, clear, non-therapeutic by many standards, or a matter of convenience.

    Those who would deny women the right to make decisions about their bodies and presume to second guess them without access to or consideration for the reasons for their making a decision. That is hubris, that is arrogance. It acts as if anyone who has a different opinion must be acting wrongly, for the wost possible reasons – much like the assumptions Swiftee makes consistently.

    While I find Swiftee to be a misogynist, I don’t fault you for that Mitch. Perhaps I would think differently if I knew Swiftee as you do outside the limitations of blog communication. I do think you Mitch genuinely care about both women and children, nor do you seem either as closed minded or as arrogant while holding a passionate view point. You don’t present those views with accompanying insults.

    Maybe there is still some hope for a meeting of minds and mutual understanding. T’is the season.

    Peace, gentlemen, to men of good will.

  30. Mitch, the “life of the mother” canard pretty much died at the turn of the 18th Century. Pregnancies can and do go wrong, but that is as rare an occurrence as finding a lefty with an intact moral compass.

    The vast, overwhelming majority of the pro-infanticide crew are protecting their right to party on without consequence.

    If you think about it, the lack of morality and decency may be a defensive measure. I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on how many abortions are regretted later….”What might he/she be today if I hadn’t been so fucking selfish and stupid?”

    Man, that has got to be a terrible burden to carry.

  31. “There are also fetal cadavers Swiftee. You made the unfounded leap that these fetuses weren’t; they were. But instead of asking, you prefer to go for the worst possible interpretation in order to support your position.”

    Pardon me, but fuck you DG. You made the inference, and did so without explaination to support your indefensible position. That crap might work at Kos, but we’re on to you.

    “It would be a lot more believable that you have this deep respect for human life if you behaved towards your fellow humans a bit better.”

    Oh, by all means do honor amuse us by expounding on that a bit, won’t you?

    “You make assumptions, failing to identify them for what they are – beliefs, not KNOWLEDGE.”

    No, hon….those are little bodies, shredded beyond all recognition.

    “You skate over that there is no agreement on this issue, that religions, ethicists, medical and research personnel, and philosophers are far from being as certain as you blindly choose to be. This is far from a clear cut or easy determination about right from wrong, and it is not simple.”

    I didn’t skate over anything. I’m sure there you and your ilk wax eloquent on the subject all the time. Doesn’t change the fact that ripping a child from the womb limb from limb is just about as horrible an act as a human being can possibly be capable of.

    You scrubs are free to discuss over wine spritzers long into the night….murdering unborn kids is an open and shut case to decent people.

    “However you do rather illustrate the folly of discussion with the closed minded, and the mysoginistic.”

    Fuck you, lady. When men are given the opportunity to take the responsibility to stop some murdering, self-serving feminist from killing his offspring, and does not, we’ll talk.

    “It acts as if anyone who has a different opinion must be acting wrongly, for the wost possible reasons”

    That ain’t an opinion Dr. Frankenstein is flushing down the sink, lady…that’s a baby. Where you and your ilk ever came to miss that I’ll never understand.

    A lot of my online personality is crafted just for fun, but when it comes to the murder of the innocents, trust me here, what you see is what you get.

  32. Think about this one, DG.

    How would you go about explaining to your daughter or son that she would have had a brother or sister…”except the timing just wasn’t right for me”?

    How would you do that?

    Enlighten us.

  33. I wrote “not only those fetuses, but also cadavers used in medical school, ”
    That suggests a discussion of cadavers Swiftee.

    You were the one who made a wrong assumption about the source.

    You Swiftee also trash a man’s credentials whom you do not know, and by extension his character, when you write: “Oh, so he shared the benefits of his Christian upbringing? In a public school? Who are you trying to bullshit, lady. Did he quote Matthew 19:14?

    Some of the most ignorant, useless people I’ve ever run across have letters of learning taped to their names; with apologies to Angela Davis, it doesn’t mean much to me…sorry.”

    He shared with us a lot of stories about his missionary childhood. He taught biology not religion, but he did address topics where relgion intersected with science. He was given pretty much carte blanche actually to teach anything in his classes he wanted; I never heard of any complaints.

    You also assume, as the justification for your trashing a teacher I respected, that by having fetal cadavers he used for educational purposes, he must have had an identical point of view to my own (or, presumably that I took my pov from him). Which to me is yet one more instance of a conservative trashing educational credential if someone doesn’t agree with them, or is even just suspected of not agreeing with them, without any other justification for challenging their knowledge whatsoever.

    Your comments about women in this context, including your lack of apparent compassion for the married 24 year old mother of a 7 month old with a problem pregnancy of twins, is another. Your treatment of other people with whom you disagree – the recent vile exchange with AC comes to mind, (not that he needs or wants my defense, he gives it back as much as he initiates it). Your assumption that abortion is simply to permit partying, and the complete lack of awareness of the comparative degrees of coercion that can be part of when women find themselves pregnant involuntarily that are still involuntary, but less than the definition of rape.

    You write, Swiftee “How would you go about explaining to your daughter or son that she would have had a brother or sister…”except the timing just wasn’t right for me?”

    Do you think it was much easier to be told that as an adopted child I have an older brother somewhere that I will never know because of the laws regarding a closed adoption? The words to explain the reason for an abortion are as varied as the reasons someone made that decision. I have not had to find those words. But I can tell you as an adopted child who subsequently, as a volunteer and activist in an organization that worked for changes to standardize Minnesota adoption law, that I feel a great deal of pain on behalf of many of the women who in the past did not have a safe alternative option, particularly those who were deceived in giving up their children or who were coerced into doing so.

    Stuff your crickets Swiftee. You cannot acuse me of ignorance on the topic, and send me to pictures. I made the effort to become educated on the subject, apparently more directly than you have.

    Nor have you demonstrated that an embryo at the earlier stages of development is definitively an equal being to a developed human, or in Mitch’s own words ‘Since we don’t know . I can admit when I do not know. I can respect that other people are also capable of making moral decisions for themselves, and that government should respect those decisions rather than intruding on a woman’s medical decisions, or matters best determined with her husband or partner, a doctor and any religious advisor they choose.

  34. Sorry DG, you’re not going to find a rational defense for the indefensible by diving deeper into the rabbit hole.

    “He shared with us a lot of stories about his missionary childhood. He taught biology not religion, but he did address topics where relgion intersected with science. He was given pretty much carte blanche actually to teach anything in his classes he wanted; I never heard of any complaints.”

    Whew..what a load of meaningless pap. Just what the hell does “he did address topics where relgion intersected with science” mean? I don’t speak moonbat parsee.

    You made the point of bringing up this guy’s Christian upbringing…what, exactly did that have to do with his teaching? Did he mention anything about “Thou Shalt NOT KILL”? It’s a little something his missionary parents might have heard of and passed along.

    “You also assume, as the justification for your trashing a teacher I respected, that by having fetal cadavers he used for educational purposes, he must have had an identical point of view to my own..”

    Oh, I see. So who brought those fetus’ into his classroom…the cadaver fairy?

    “Your comments about women in this context, including your lack of apparent compassion for the married 24 year old mother of a 7 month old with a problem pregnancy of twins, is another.”

    I didn’t address that at all. But since you put so much store in it, I’ll tell you…”Thou Shalt Not Kill Thy Babies”…if they do not survive their birth, so be it, they have a tough enough row to hoe without bringing Dr. Frankenstein into the picture.

    What is “severe”? My wife’s aunt just passed away last year. She was 62 years old when she died, and had spent every minute of those years in a wheel chair. She couldn’t speak, and couldn’t control her arms enough to feed herself. Cerebral palsy…severe cerebral palsy.

    But she had a blast when we took her to Vegas to see an Elvis impersonator. She laughed till she cried when we’d tease her about cheating at “Hearts”. Her mother and sisters loved her with all their hearts and souldn’t have missed a moment of her company for the world.

    No wonder you people hate Sarah Palin so much

    “…and the complete lack of awareness of the comparative degrees of coercion that can be part of when women find themselves pregnant involuntarily that are still involuntary, but less than the definition of rape.”

    WTF? So if a woman gets drunk, drops her panties and ends up pregnant, it’s time to call Dr. Frankenstein and get to butchering. Right? God, you are messed up, lady.

    “Do you think it was much easier to be told that as an adopted child I have an older brother somewhere that I will never know because of the laws regarding a closed adoption?”

    Hey, let me sooth your angst. Your brother is ALIVE, lady. He didn’t end up flushed down the sink after having been torn limb from limb….don’t you feel better now?

    Give it up. If you think it’s acceptable to murder babies, there is something fundamentally wrong with you…end of story.

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