Thursday, October 23, 2008

100 Times

I will not publish things written very late at night when my brain is not necessarily fully functional before I have edited them in the cold light of morning.
I will not publish things written very late at night when my brain is not necessarily fully functional before I have edited them in the cold light of morning.
I will not publish things written very late at night when my brain is not necessarily fully functional before I have edited them in the cold light of morning.
I will not...

Um, upon rereading, what seemed like a brilliantly hilarious and thought provokingly serious piece of work turns out to just be kinda weird. Sorry, I was being silly and then I went off on a tangent and I should have made that into two separate posts. I wasn't trying to trivialize the issue.

Speaking of which, does no one (besides Laura) have anything to say?? I guess I should be glad that I didn't start a flame war. I just kinda thought that maybe my readers were capable of honest discussion on a subject that inspires so much vitriol on both sides that very few people seem to actually think about the issue anymore. Cause youse guys are, y'know, special.

Real speshul.

Ok, fine, I was just desperately trolling for comments again. Whatever. Quick- I'm thinking of a number between one and ten, who can tell me what it is???


litabug said...

Since I never bring up controversial topics on my own blog, it wouldn't be fair to drag them over here, but you started it, and practically begged for comments so... raspberries. :) I did hear an interesting discussion between a philosophy student and law student about the ethics of the medical necessity situation, revolving around the issue of intent. They said that there are almost never situations in which an abortion itself is directly necessary to preserve a woman's life. However, there may be situations in which a medical procedure necessary to the mother's survival would almost certainly result in her baby's death. In a case like the latter, the direct intent is saving the mother's life and the unfortunate side effect is the death of the baby, which is ethically more acceptable than the other way around (where the direct intent is the aborting of the baby and the fortunate side effect is the survival of the mother). But I guess that distinction is only helpful to the mothers who find themselves in that situation and to the doctors who are grappling with their responsibility to "do no harm." It doesn't really do much for those in the political/legal position. :)
Ok, so here's something fun you can start a firestorm with: As feminists, are we accepting the biggest exploitation of women ever conceived when we proclaim the "right" of our daughters to have abortions on demand?

Sus said...

Um..... SEVEN!

Anonymous said...

Ugh, here you go, you comment-troller.

I, of course, grew up in a very similar household to you.
I am a mother.
I am the mother of a very-much-wanted-and-loved baby who died.
I don't have a lot of patience for people who want to argue that a woman should have the right to kill her baby.
BUT, my biggest problem with the abortion to save a mother's life vs. abortion because (fill in the blank--it's inconvenient, I don't want another baby, whatever) is that women who might need to abort a baby to save their life (and of course that's subjective--I'd go through hell & back to make sure that the baby came out okay, but that's me) are almost always already under the care of a doctor, in the hospital, needing medical attention, etc.
While a woman who wants an abortion for non-medical reasons is not.
AUGHH I'm not explaining myself well here.
I'm sure that deciding to have an abortion for non-medical reason is gut-wrenching and agonizing decision. But you can put a baby up for adoption. Maybe I'm assuming that most of the women that have abortions actually wanted to have the sex that made the baby (I know that some did not), but I think that they made their bed, and they should deal with it in a way that preserves the child's life.
I don't know where the line is of How threatened a mother's life has to be before an abortion is warranted? I hate the whole "stay out of my uterus" argument, because obviously, left to themselves, millions of Americans will kill babies, whether they feel badly about it afterward or not.
I probably am not making sense, but as someone who really, really, really wanted her baby, it really burns me that people will consider babies as disposable (I'm NOT saying that everyone feels that way who has an abortion--God, I hate having to qualify every statement), but I don't believe that a baby is just a bunch of cells, and good for you, you can get on with your life, and thank God that kid isn't around to mess up your plans.
If you don't want to have a baby--KEEP YOUR LEGS SHUT.
Okay, I'm going now, and I hope you know now why I didn't comment on the last post.

jess said...

Yes, Sus! you're right. You win the prize....uh, my undying adoration.

Thanks for the comments Lita & Manda. What I'm wondering is if either of you read the posts I linked to in the original email? One of them specifically talked about a her experience with a pregnancy (one dead twin, one living but not yet viable) that, if things had gone badly, would have required terminating the pregnancy to save her life. It didn't, and she has a much hoped for baby now.

My point was that there are situations like this and they're just not acknowledged by the pro-life community. The only stories you hear about are the ones where the mother decided to forgo treatment in hope that she and the baby could be saved and it worked against all odds.

Anyway, you're all right, it was probably a bad idea to bring it up. :) I don't promise I won't do it again, but thanks for expressing your viewpoints.

Anonymous said...

Jess, I did read both of the posts you linked. Obviously, those situations don't fit in the typical "anti-abortion" scenario.

Take, for instance, an ectopic pregnancy. Would I ever encourage a woman to continue with that pregnancy? NO. The baby will die regardless, and if Fallopian tubes burst, the mom can die, too. The baby isn't viable.

I guess I feel that there should be exceptions, but where does that end? I think that's the scary part--where does it end? How many what if's? and what abouts? do you legislate? Do you make a law for every possible situation?

I'd rather err on the side of less babies dying.


jess said...

Okay, I wanted to leave this alone but I don't want my silence to be taken for tacit agreement. I'm not yelling at you, Amanda, I'm just choosing to respond to your points because they're the same ones that are always made and I'm familiar with both the arguments, and the experience of coming to doubt that they are valid after being someone who defended them myself. Also, you gave me the most to work with. ;)

1)That whole "keep your legs shut" mentality makes me flinch just reading it. It's a big part of the reason that most non-Christians are (justifiably) baffled by this group of people who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus and love everyone without judging. Yeah, Jesus wasn't a model church member. In fact he hung out with the 1st century Jewish equivalent of transvestites and terrorists. He didn't go around telling people what to do and he didn't interfere with the government (even though Rome had more than a few policies that we would consider "not ethical" today). If you believe abortion is wrong, go ahead. I agree, I think it's ending a life (or a potential life) and it's a horrible thing for anyone to have to go through. I don't think many people would argue differently. [Yes, there are people who would argue that a fetus is a parasite and there's no reason not to get rid of it. There are also people who shoot abortion doctors, do they define your cause?] The point isn't the moral issue, its that individuals should have the right to decide on moral issues like this. It's not the government or the church's job to tell people how to live.

2)What IS a "typical" scenario? Because I can tell you that I've heard many more stories, like those in my links, of risky pregnancies where the child was not viable but to delay a termination might well have killed the mother. If you don't want a pregnancy it's a hell of a lot easier to terminate it early on than wait until the last minute. It seems highly unlikely to me that most of the people requesting late-term abortions are just using abortion as birth control, although I know that does happen too.

3)Does erring on the side of babies mean you're okay with women dying, if it comes down to that? What if they have other children and the chances are that the pregnancy won't be carried to term anyway? Is it always more important to save the unborn child?

4)It's claimed on the pro-life side that outlawing abortion won't affect medical situations like this (at least, when McCain isn't rolling his eyes at the whole idea that abortion could be medically necessary) but think about it: If the religious right had its way and abortion was illegal and strictly monitored, would a doctor think twice about ruling that his patient needed an abortion to save her life? What if he was wrong and she pulls through? Will he be prosecuted? Lose his license? Doctors aren't God, they don't always know what the right thing to do is and sometimes they have to make a guess based on the information they have and hope for the best. I can't tell you what I would do if was in the hospital with a septic pregnancy and I was too weak to deliver or undergo a c-section and the doctor told me that it was unlikely my body could bring the pregnancy to term, but I can tell you this: I don't think it's anyone else's job to decide for me.

5)Many of these women and their spouses are parents who wanted children badly and fought hard to have them, (it's frequently women who have struggled with infertility or miscarriages that end up in these life-threatening situations since they're more likely to be older and/or have used IVF or other procedures). It's ridiculously insulting, incredibly, horribly cruel, and just plain wrong for the pro-lifers to paint them as people who don't care about life, or go around killing babies for kicks.

Sorry for the rant. I hope I haven't offended anyone but if I did, I'm sorry. I think ideally there should be no need for abortion, but since we live in a broken world (rape, incest, sickness, unplanned pregnancy, poverty, mental illness, non-supportive families, men who don't take responsibility for their actions, etc) it IS something people are going to choose. If the church put half as much energy into making it a better world to live in (that IS supposed to be our job after all) as it does into trying to reverse Roe v. Wade, what would happen?

jess said...

Lita, in response to your medical student, I think I'd disagree about the extreme infrequency of abortion being the necessary option to save a patient, but I don't have the facts on the subject. It seems to me that in any number of situations, a woman could be ill enough that her body is not able to support both her life and an unborn child. Often in this situation the baby's survival is jeopardized no matter what course of action is taken.

litabug said...

Ack. I wrote a brilliant response a few hours ago and Blogger ate it! Of course, since Blogger ate it you'll never know whether it was actually brilliant or not. Can I get the benefit of the doubt? :) Anyway, let me 'splain. No, let me sum up:

So... I did read their posts and I totally agree with them about the McCain's flippant, uneducated, and sarcastic comment (and about his health care issues - sheesh).

It's tough to discuss the medical necessity issue without any statistics. (So where do we look for those? I'd love to know what the actual numbers are.) I agree that patients and doctors should be free to make a judgment call in those situations, using carefully thought out ethical criteria, which is what made me bring up that discussion about intent. Obviously, that's not something that can be legislated by a government.

I didn't grow up in a "Rush-loving-clinic-picketing" household so I haven't been inundated with those types of arguments. Plus, I married a debater, so I tend to see things from two sides, without becoming emotionally attached (except in my own personal choices, which is a separate realm from politics). It frustrates me that both sides have become so wrapped up in shouting the party line that they can no longer discuss the issue reasonably.
But I guess it makes sense. We have a whole spectrum of emotional situations tied up in the issue, so it's tough to sort through the facts without thinking about "so-and-so who has tried for years to have children and can't" or "so-and-so whose boyfriend got her pregnant and then left her with no job and no family support" or a zillion others.

There are two things that concern me about the potential future of abortion, and though neither of them has to do with the medical necessity discussion, I still think they're worth mentioning:
1) Abortion is a difficult experience for a woman, physically and emotionally, and it does result in death. I don't think most women want to see the day come when abortion is so commonplace that it becomes expected of us (by a selfish boyfriend or disapproving parent or possessive employer). If it needs to happen, then it should remain a regrettable thing (like war, which, oddly enough, even extreme pro-lifers seem to have no trouble with).
2) In the history of mankind, every time one group of people has decided to diminish or redefine the humanity of another, bad things eventually happen (slavery, the holocaust). That's not a path we'll want to start down carelessly. And in this case, it's much easier to get away with, since the group in question can't produce its own MLK Jr. or Carl Lutz.

Anonymous said...

Jess, I'm exhausted, and my stomach hurts after reading your post.

My issue is with ELECTIVE abortions. People deciding that they don't want to carry a baby to term with no medical reason to NOT do so.

I don't want moms dying, and I do think that decision should be between them and their doctors. I don't know how you would legislate that.

I also didn't say that I hate people who have abortions or pre-marital sex, but I do believe that there are CONSEQUENCES for actions, and people should be prepared to LIVE with those consequences before they participate in activities that could lead to them. Last time I checked, while Jesus loved (and LOVES) the sinner, the Bible says that pre-marital sex is wrong. If you're not ready to be a parent, don't have sex--because abstinance is the ONLY way to prevent that.
I object to abortion being used as birth control, and you know that is is used as that in some cases.

Anyway, what the hell do I know? Maybe 90% of abortions are to save mothers' lives. I haven't done the research. In that case, keep it legal, make sure everyone can make that choice for themselves.


l i s a said...


thanks for your thoughtful post. and for being willing to have a hard discussion.

litabug said...

Yeah (in agreement with Lisa). And you've handled the discussion well. Maybe with more LOLcats than I would have, but hey. :)

I know you're ready to move on, but I wanted to say, since my last comment was just a re-statement of a comment I'd failed to make before your responses, I didn't really respond to what you said in your responses (whoa - does that make any sense?). Wasn't trying to be rude, I was just in a hurry, and trying to remember what the original lost comment had said.

So basically: I think you're right about separating the ethics and the politics. This just isn't the kind of thing that can be legislated fairly. Even in criminal law (let's say murder for example) there are totally acceptable exceptions (accident, self-defense, mental problems). Surely in something like abortion (in which the moral lines are FAR less clear) it should be harder to take a rigid stance, especially one that would be imposed on the entire country. And as far as the church putting energy into politics, I agree there, too. The early church wasn't about politics, why do people feel compelled to make it that way today?

So yeah, back to the LOLCats... :D

jess said...

Thanks, Lita. I had lost track of all the points that were being argued by the time I read your comment so I didn't even notice. :)

I hate it when I write a long comment and then it disappears!!!! Obviously blogger has been infiltrated by the liberal media. ;-)