Posts Tagged Abortion

Abolitionists Still on the March

Couple feet of snow coming, and yet, the March for Life still goes on. Previous estimates are as high as 800,000 people, for the most part ignored by the news. 

After 43 years of legal abortion, we have lost between 50 and 58 million children. 58,000,000. And so, we march. And we are not discouraged.

On the contrary, the number of abortions done in the US has dropped every year since 1990. We see record low numbers today, as well as great changes in public opinion. 

Look up the case of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, one of the original founders of NARAL, who performed tens of thousands of abortions–then became an outspoken pro-life advocate after the development of ultrasound technology allowed him to see the child in the womb for the first time. Or Abby Johnson, Planned Parenthood clinic director who had a similar experience and is now a pro-life speaker and writer. Or more recently, Sara Winter, FEMEN leader and angry-topless-protest organizer turned pro-life. 

We have much reason to be encouraged. 43 years? So it takes time. The abolitionists faced worse. Still, slavery ended. The civil rights movement took longer. Still, segregation ended. 

One day, this protest will be obsolete as well. Until then, we march. 

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Bill Nye completely misunderstands life

You might have seen this:

I have always had a certain amount of respect for Bill Nye in the past, even when I disagree with him. I just appreciate his calm, rational approach. This video disturbs that greatly, because it demonstrates a truly shocking level of irrationality and ignorance on the topic he’s arguing about. Let’s look at some of the claims he makes.

The first sentence in the video states that “many, many, many, many more eggs are fertilized than become humans,” but that after conception, the embryo must attach to the uterine wall (presumably, before it becomes human–though he leaves the statement unfinished).

Right off the bat, we run in to trouble. First off, Nye is equivocating on the word “human,” or else the statement is total nonsense. If you’re going to stand on science, then from a biological, scientific point of view, the zygote (newly fertilized egg) is a human at the moment of conception. Every egg that is fertilized is, at that moment, human. It’s not anything else. Conception is the textbook beginning of the human life cycle. Scientifically speaking, that’s the moment a new human comes into being. That’s just biology, baby. Or, baby biology, as the case may be.

So again, if Nye is resting his argument on science, he must not actually mean that a human embryo is not human. Rather, he’s playing a little loose with the technical meaning of the word–presumably when he says “human” here, he means something closer to “person” or implies “human-with-rights” or something along those lines. This is the only meaning I can find in this sentence without it being self-contradictory. But doing that means he’s not talking about science. Defining “personhood” or assigning rights to one or another class of humans isn’t a scientific question, it’s an ethical, philosophical one. So immediately, the idea that this is a scientific argument is missing its foundation. Let’s move on.

“If you’re going to say when an egg is fertilized it therefore has the same rights as an individual, then whom are you going to sue? Whom are you going to imprison? Every woman who’s had a fertilized egg pass through her? Every guy whose sperm has fertilized an egg and then it didn’t become a human?”

So, it gets worse. This is total nonsense no matter how you look at it. When a woman miscarries, the embryo dies of what we would call natural causes. So, while we have laws against killing adult humans (presumably for some kind of bible-thumping reason), we don’t sue or imprison people every time a person dies of natural causes. This statement implies to me that Nye has, possibly, never given even a moment’s serious thought to the issue he’s arguing.

Further, different individuals have different “rights” at times. Affirming that a baby is a human doesn’t mean treating it like an adult any more than affirming my two-year-old’s humanity means we have to let him vote.

In a statement directly to those in the pro-life movement, Nye then says you “literally don’t know what you’re talking about.” Ironically, it’s followed by this:

“You have a lot of men of European descent passing these extraordinary laws based on ignorance… Your interpretation of a book written five thousand years ago, fifty centuries ago, makes you think that when a man and a woman have sexual intercourse, they always have a baby, that’s wrong, and so to pass laws based on that belief is inconsistent with nature.”

This… I don’t even know where to begin with this. Nobody… ever… anywhere… has ever made anything resembling such a claim. For the record, nothing in the Bible implies anything like this. But also, for the record, I’ve been in a lot… a lot… of abortion debates, with a lot of different people, and I pretty much never, ever bring up the Bible. I knew to expect to disagree with Nye’s conclusions, but I never would have expected such a wild, irresponsible, and truly ignorant statement from him. I don’t even know where such a nonsensical claim comes from. If this kind of statement is why Bill Nye is pro-choice, his opinion is truly based in utter ignorance.

“You wouldn’t know how big a human egg was if it weren’t for microscopes, if it weren’t for scientists, for medical researchers looking diligently….”

Jumping from this to “therefore abortion is okay” is the definition of non sequitur….

“I know people are now critical of the expression ‘fact-based,’ but what’s wrong with that?”

Finally, we have some pretentious looking down at anyone who would disagree. I’ve never actually heard anyone criticize facts either, for that matter, but this is the point of the video, of course- not to persuade someone who holds pro-life beliefs, but to tell those who are pro-choice that there’s no reason to ever bother seriously thinking about the question, because science. You can continue to look down on the pro-life movement because they are dumb because science and science-y words and bow ties so don’t think about it. This is what the video boils down to.

This video is four minutes and thirty-six seconds of awful logic and ludicrously nonsensical assertions coated in a pretense of science and delivered by a man whom you can trust because he put the word “Science” in his name. If you watched the video and thought Nye made great points, you are not paying attention.

I knew there must have been a reason I was always a Beakman kid.

UPDATE:

Trent Horn over at Strange Notions has a much more thorough response.

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The New Abolitionists

Every fifty years or so since the founding of our Republic, there seems to be a major societal revolution.

The founding itself took place in a revolution, and our nation was built on revolutionary ideas (such as a constitutional government which rested on natural law and popular sovereignty) which today are taken for granted. A little more than a half century later, we fought a bloody civil war, and a revolutionary idea, equal protection under the law, began to be put into practice. In the beginning of the 20th century, the country was split over giving women the right to vote; again, justice prevailed. Almost fifty years later, segregation’s time was up, and a revolution in civil rights took place once again.

We look back today at the men and women who fought these battles–the abolitionists, the suffragettes, the civil rights activists–as the heroes that they are. Their courage and actions changed the world. In each case, they were defending a vulnerable group against injustice from those in power. In each case, as the arc of history bent towards justice, they were the benders. And their heroism lies in no small part due to the fact that in each case, they faced a culture that was split around the issue; by standing up for what they knew to be right, they faced widespread public derision, possible rejection by their own family and friends, even violence.

If the pattern holds, we’re due for another of these cultural shifts.

We also look back today at 41 years of legal abortion, and at 56 million dead children. Again the country is split. And again, an abolitionist movement is gaining strength.

It amazes me how the pro-choice arguments mirror so closely the old pro-slavery arguments. “They’re not people. You can’t give them the same rights as real people.” “They’re really better off this way. What kind of life would they have if you got your way?” In any event, the slave owners and their supporters were simply trying to protect their freedom to choose to own slaves. That is, if you don’t like slavery, then don’t own slaves. But how dare you take away someone else’s right to choose based on your beliefs! Right?

I don’t want to belabor this too much. It doesn’t need it. This is a simple issue (don’t kill kids) and momentum is already on the side of justice. Just allow me one little harangue. Look to the examples I listed above. We are in our revolution. It is taking place now. We are today’s abolitionists. History will look back at today and see either courage, or cowardice. People will look back at us and admire those who stood up to protect the vulnerable from the powerful, just as we look back with admiration for those who have fought this battle before. They fought on different battlegrounds, but justice is the same today as it was yesterday; and it makes the same demand whether the victim is a slave or an infant.

"Thousands" gather for the 2013 March For Life*

“Thousands” gather for the 2013 March For Life*

So to my harangue. Be the person today that you will look back at with pride, knowing that you stood up when it was hard to do. Don’t be silent. Remember that “don’t kill kids” will one day be as obvious as “don’t make people slaves” is to us today. Don’t be afraid. The tide has already turned. Speak up. Most Americans are with you, even if the news won’t report it.


*Image stolen without asking from http://martinfamilymoments.blogspot.com/2013/01/bits-of-tid-tuesday.html. Yes, I used a 2013 picture despite today being the 2014 March For Life. This is just such a fantastic picture. Today’s pictures are all full of snow.

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Moving On

I’ll say it, so I can move on to more productive things. Okay. I’m disappointed.

There’s a ton of post-election analysis out there, but I don’t want to get in to that too much. I will say that I don’t think this is a sign that America is lost, or found, or anything. This does not mean that America has rejected conservative values or that Republicans will never win the White House again, any more than 2010 meant that America had rejected liberalism, or that 2006/08 meant that America had rejected conservatism, or that 2004 meant that America had rejected liberalism… hopefully you see my point. This is how it goes.

I also don’t think that this is a sign that Romney and the GOP went too far towards radical right-wing extremism, or anything of the sort. People are saying that the Republican party needs to give up on social issues, that Republicans lost because the party went hard-line and embraced people like Todd Akin. These people are wrong; the Republicans rejected Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, not the swing voters.

Romney carried Indiana by almost 11%, but Mourdock lost Indiana by over five points. Romney won Missouri by around 9%, and Akin lost the same state by over 15%. It was Republicans that voted against these guys. Commentators are claiming that the GOP needs to learn from this election that the “independent voters” will reject them unless they moderate on social issues. Nonsense. Mourdock’s opponent was a staunchly pro-life Democrat who even co-sponsored the controversial “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act” which defined the now-infamous term “forcible rape.” Indiana wanted a pro-life Senator. Mourdock wasn’t rejected for being pro-life, and he wasn’t rejected by the moderate swing voters. He was rejected by conservative Republicans for saying something deeply stupid which made us all look bad.

Which is my point. Romney didn’t lose because people rejected conservatism. Romney lost because people don’t know what conservatism is. Romney lost because a lot of people thought things about conservatives that aren’t true. Romney also lost because he said and did some very stupid things himself (I’m looking at you, DREAM act), but that’s not the central issue, because all politicians say stupid things here and there. President Obama successfully convinced a lot of groups that, if you’re a part of X group, you’re betraying people if you don’t vote Democrat. Women have to vote Democrat because Democrats care about women, and Republicans don’t. Same for various minority groups, ethnicities, industries. Young people think that Democrats “get” them and Republicans just don’t care about them. Whereas Romney and the Republicans didn’t talk to groups or ethnicities or genders as if we are all fighting each other. They preached a message of caring about, and doing what’s best for, all Americans–all of us together, since we’re all in this together–but people didn’t hear. America was unconvinced.

But where others see an obstacle, I see an opportunity. That’s the point of this blog. Conservatives have been awful at communicating why conservative policies help everyone, regardless of color or class, and far too many people really believe we’re all in groups and classes that have to fight and take from each other in order to get ahead.

So I’m working on a new series: Conservative Myth vs Fact. I want to take on these fallacies. I want to discuss like adults why the right sees things the way we do, things like public sector unions, taxing the rich, education reform, social security reform, and others. And I do hope for a real discussion. I know many of my readers disagree with my point of view, and I hope you will join in. If you have a specific topic in mind you’d like to bring up, post it in the comments here. And I look forward to the process.

Onward and upward!

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Don’t Overcomplicate Abortion

20w ultrasoundThis is a picture of my son from a couple months ago. He still has a month or two to go now. Specifically, his gestational age is just over 20 weeks in this picture.

You can see that he’s already got all his parts at this point. He spent his time in the ultrasound room running in place, stretching, rolling around, and basically dancing around non-stop.

Many of the recent state laws that have come up in the abortion debate have centered on banning abortions after the 20-22 week range. Advocates for abortion rights have lost their minds over the very idea that someone would want to restrict a woman’s right to terminate her 22-week old fetus–how dare anyone, any MAN, tell a woman what she can do with her body!

Look again at my 20 week old son. Really look at him.

There is another body involved. Another living human being.

My son is not a lump of undifferentiated cells. If you saw him move (and according to my wife, it seems like he never stops moving), you would not say that he’s not alive.

If you support abortion rights, do you really look at that picture and not see a human child? Do you really believe that if his mother wants to kill him, that’s nobody’s business but hers?

The burden of proof is not on the pro-life camp here. This argument isn’t based on some out of context quote from the book of Leviticus. This isn’t about controlling people, or men telling women what to do with their bodies. The argument is based on the fact that my son is a living human baby, and should not be killed. Abortion defenders argue that, if we feel like it, we should have the right to ask a doctor to reach in with a knife and suction tube and, living, cut him to pieces.

Look at my son again and tell me if you would be okay with that. I’m completely serious. Look at my son right now, and picture that procedure. I’ll wait. Now tell yourself that’s perfectly fine, if that’s what you think.

If you can’t do that, you might need to spend some time considering your position.

My son’s humanity does not depend on his level of brain activity or whether or not he happens to be inside a uterus at the moment. He’s a human being by the fact of his very DNA and the fact that he is alive and growing.

The pro-life argument is very simple. All it comes down to is that it’s not okay to kill a baby. The opposition screams a thousand insults; I am called a misogynist, a fundamentalist, a theocrat, a hypocrite. I am called hateful, judgmental; I may lose friends over this.

And still, all I have said and all I am saying is that it’s not okay to kill a baby.

That’s really the extent of the pro-life argument.

I truly believe that the reason the pro-abortion side gets so blindingly fanatical, so irrational in these arguments is because on some level, they know that killing a child is unjustifiable. I believe that much of the rage and hatred against pro-life arguments and pro-life supporters find their unconscious source in a need to justify to oneself that one is still a good person despite arguing for the right to kill children.

If this were not the case, you would hear different arguments in favor of abortion. But very few argue that abortion is okay. The argument is almost always some form of, “it’s a woman’s right to choose,” with the implied follow-up, “(regardless of whether it’s right or wrong.)” President Clinton pontificated that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. But if it should be rare… why?

Why assent that it should be rare? If it’s morally acceptable, who cares how widespread it is?

But if you think it ought to be rare because you know it’s killing a child, that’s an issue that overrides some of our individual liberties. Freedom and government noninterference doesn’t go as far as allowing murder.

If you agree that abortion ought to be rare, think about that. Meditate on why you think so.

Look one last time at my son. The pro-abortion argument says that the right to end his life is a matter of equal rights for women.

All I’m saying is that it’s not okay to kill a baby.

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GOP and Women

From my recent article at Kendall County YR:

The May 10th editorial by Tony Scott in the Kendall County Record claims that the GOP needs to stop alienating women with backwards social issues like abortion and birth control. Scott goes so far as to claim that “most Republican candidates support limits on… birth control.” This is made up. It’s false. Scott wants the uninformed to assume that these dangerous Republicans are coming to ban sex and make women wear burkas. In fact, the issue of birth control has only been brought up by Democrats recently, in attempts to force religious institutions to provide free contraception for their employees. Even the staunch social conservative Rick Santorum stated that, though he morally disagreed with contraception, he had no interest in restricting anyone’s access to it. If you remember all the way back to January of this year, when the issue was first artificially injected into the campaign by former Democratic advisor George Stephanopoulos at a debate, every single Republican on stage was variously bemused and/or annoyed at the waste of time. Stephanopoulos spent over four minutes repeatedly asking each candidate, in so many words, come on… you want to ban the pill, right? Tell me you want to ban the pill.

The Republican audience got so fed up with the absurdity of the line of questioning that they started to yell and boo. Romney summed up the general sentiment: “George, I — I don’t know whether a state has a right to ban contraception. No state wants to. I mean, the idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do that no — no state wants to do and asking me whether they could do it or not is kind of a silly thing, I think.”

Scott correctly reports that 77% of those recently polled thought birth control “should not be part of the national political debate.” Republicans agree. They’re not interested in it either, despite attempts to characterize the GOP as the party of “extremism and gender inequity.”

Also brought up is the issue of abortion. Republicans need to back off abortion, goes the claim, because 53% of Americans support it! Polls on abortion are tricky. They change. A lot. Constantly. Pew did report last month that 53% of those polled were in favor of keeping it mostly legal, but that number, in its pendulous swings over the past few decades, keeps slowly swinging in a pro-life direction. And swing it does. Between October 2008 and April 2009, support swung from 57% to 46%—eleven points in eight months. There was a three point change between two polls conducted in the same month in 2008. Even six months ago, only 51% of those polled supported abortion. This number moves a lot, but the big picture is a trend towards protecting the lives of our unborn children.

Here’s the bigger picture still. These social issues make for good press and loud arguments, but when asked what issues will determine their vote this November, people list abortion, contraception, and gay marriage low on the list (39%, 34%, and 28%, respectively, answer these issues are “very important”). The top of the list? The economy (86%) and jobs (84%). Our current President is running on a failed record on those issues, against a man who’s spent his life demonstrating a spectacular ability to turn financial failures into successes, in both the public and private spheres. Which of those two men do you think Americans should trust with our economy?

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