June 18, 2013

"What's so 'ugly' about the mockery?"

Asks grinder, in the comments to the post — "Texas Congressman: Masturbating Fetuses Prove Need for Abortion Ban" — about pro-abortion-rights bloggers mocking the statement of Rep. Michael Burgess, a former OB/GYN, who commented on the "purposeful" motions of 15-week-old unborns who may "stroke their face" and "have their hand between their legs."

I answered in the comments:
The Congressman described the fetus's humanity: It does something that we are invited to recognize as part of our shared human condition and therefore to appreciate its reality and to feel empathy.

The mockers are taking this delicately stated image of the fetus touching or holding its genitals and turning it into a picture of a baby masturbating — "jerking off," "spanking the monkey" — and asking us to laugh at it, even as we are expected to accept its being killed. The very thing that the Congressman used to call us to think of it as human, they would laugh at before killing it.

If you are going to take it into your hands to kill a human being, you don't diminish it and laugh at it first. For example, an execution — assuming it is permitted at all, as it is in the United States — is carried out with somber respect. Even as this human being will be killed, we must demonstrate that we understand the profundity of what we are doing.

Picture executions where the condemned person is subjected to mockery first. (That was done to Jesus, by the way.) Some would say any death penalty is wrong, just as some would say that any abortion is wrong. But few would say that ridiculing the condemned being — dehumanizing him — is acceptable.

In their eagerness to deny that the fetus is a person, abortion rights proponents — some of them — are making sport of it.

This reminds me of Kermit Gosnell joking about a large fetus, saying that it was big enough to walk to the bus stop. Think about why that was considered shocking by many people.
Let's remember that, under the law, the abortion right — in the Supreme Court's idealized image — is based on the idea of the woman's entitlement to define her own concept of "the mystery of human life." This is a "philosophic exercise" that "originate[s] within the zone of conscience and belief." This is a deeply serious matter — to the Court. But who believes it? Abortion opponents resist the idea either because they are sure the fetus is a human being or because they wouldn't trust the woman to base her decision whether to abort on sincere conscientious beliefs about the humanity of the unborn. Those who support abortion rights seem — for the most part — to have forgotten the nature of the decision that is reserved, under the law, for the woman. Laughing at the unborn is egregious evidence of this forgetting.

Here's an idea for an abortion regulation that I've never heard anyone else discuss, but which occurred to me as I've read and reread the Supreme Court cases. A woman seeking an abortion must sign a statement: I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not kill a human being.

109 comments:

TML said...

Excellent. Just excellent.

TML said...

This almost reads like the impossible-to-attain start of the mythical reasonable discussion on abortion. At least it's a sober, non-fanatical, reasoned "on ramp" to talking about. Very, very nice. If what you wrote makes anyone go into asshole rant mode rather than "Hmmmmm" mode, they can be jettisoned as unreasonable and crazed.

TML said...

[IMHO]

jr565 said...

"Let's remember that, under the law, the abortion right — in the Supreme Court's idealized image — is based on the idea of the woman's entitlement to define her own concept of "the mystery of human life"


But that's just stupid. And at any rate, wouldn't saying you can't have an abortion after a baby is viable contradict the whole idea of woman being entitled to define her own concept of the mystery of life.

And by the way, there is no mystery of life here. You have sex, you sometimes get knocked up. And when you do the baby goes through various stages of development whether the woman wants to have her own concept of the mystery of life or not.

ThomasD said...

That the pro-abortion crowd includes the cruel, crudely thoughtless, and conscienceless comes as no great surprise.

That a Venn diagram between abortion supporter and Obama voter would demonstrate significant overlap is not exactly a coincidence either.

AJ Lynch said...

Libs will view that statement as a potential criminal confession so it is a non-starter.

edutcher said...

They could have used the same defense at Nuremburg.

Meade said...

Perhaps Regina Marcia Benjamin should suggest teaching pro-abortion-rights bloggers that masturbation is part of human sexuality.

YoungHegelian said...

There is in Japan what is to my eyes a beautiful ceremony called Mizuko Kuyu, the memorial service for the "Water Babies".

This ceremony is performed by the mothers to propitiate the spirits of stillborn, miscarried, or aborted babies.

Japan has never had any problems with abortion. Hell, Japan has often not had any problems with infanticide under any name. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is understood as a cardinal sin in Japanese culture. Even if you're a fetus.

But, nevertheless, for the mother the death of her child for whatever reason does not sever her from her familiar obligations towards it. Its spirit must be propitiated so that it can find rest, and she is required to do all that is in her power to attain that end.

For both those who see the embryo/fetus as a collection of cells & those who see a person from conception (as I do), the idea of a "Water Baby" is an interesting Via Media to think about.

FleetUSA said...

A powerful and simple proposal from the distinguished Professor.

Mary Martha said...

The mockery is ugly because it is a way of making the fetus the 'other' and 'not human'.

It is ugly when any group of humans robs another group of humans of their membership in the human club.

It was ugly when whites mocked blacks and Africans and said they were not human and therefor it was 'ok' to keep them as slaves and treat them as lesser.

It would be ugly if the 'in crowd' would decide that everyone over the age of 75 is no longer 'human' and free to be mocked and killed at will. After all, if it is A-ok to mock and kill the very young then why not the very old?

bagoh20 said...

I guess I'm missing some obvious point, but why isn't the statement rather this?

I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it may kill a human being or potential human, but I choose to do it anyway of my own free choice.

Isn't that more honest?

bagoh20 said...

This is like arguing that it's immoral for cannibals to eat meat on Friday.

traditionalguy said...

There is a religious idea of value worth legal protection in ensouled human bodies. That idea will not go away easily.

So paganism is needed to find value in killing the sacrificial babies.

Why not ask the women seeking an abortion killing to go double or nothing?

Michael K said...

"The mockery is ugly because it is a way of making the fetus the 'other' and 'not human'."

I'm not sure I agree. They seem to be mocking the fetus as a human being and about to be killed.

I keep going back to that obscene NYT article by the writer whose girlfriend was going to have an abortion the next morning. She declined wine with dinner because "It might hurt the baby."

I just can't get over that.

And I'm pro-choice and have done abortions.

Ann Althouse said...

"Libs will view that statement as a potential criminal confession so it is a non-starter."

No, the refusal to sign the statement would be more of a confession if the abortion were then performed.

The legal problem would be blocking the abortion if the woman won't sign, so that abortions are now only open to women who believe (or lie and say they believe) that the entity to be destroyed isn't a person.

I think this position is defensible under the case law, but the argument will be made that the right to have an abortion does not depend on the sincere belief that what is destroyed is not a person.

harrogate said...

By all means, it is time to roll out laws and regulations like this one proposed by the truckload.

Relatedly, we also need to be more attentive to the plight of people like Congressman Burgess,who really are being bullied and oppressed simply for their religious and moral views . It really is time to end not just the mockery, but also the madness.

Ann Althouse said...

"t is ugly when any group of humans robs another group of humans of their membership in the human club. It was ugly when whites mocked blacks and Africans and said they were not human and therefor it was 'ok' to keep them as slaves and treat them as lesser. It would be ugly if the 'in crowd' would decide that everyone over the age of 75 is no longer 'human' and free to be mocked and killed at will. After all, if it is A-ok to mock and kill the very young then why not the very old?"

Yes, exactly. And in war, we might portray the enemy as subhuman. I think the present-day American view is that it was wrong to portray the Japanese the way we did in WWII.

Mockery is an important part of human communication, but when you are mocking what you are killing...

I would also say that it is morally wrong to mock an nonhuman animal in a prelude to killing it. If I ran a slaughterhouse, I would expect employees to treat the animals with respect and not to make their job easier by coming up with ways to ridicule them.

At the ASPCA they euthanize many dogs and cats. I've seen films of dogs being piled up for gassing, but I've never heard the workers making fun of the animals as they did that. I'll bet nearly all of that would find that reprehensible. Don't you expect the ASPCA to have a rule about not laughing at the animals and mocking them on the way to killing them?

Ann Althouse said...

"Isn't that more honest?"

If that is the truth -- and it does seem to be what's going on -- then the reasoning in the Supreme Court cases is wrong.

bagoh20 said...

Oh, I see. The lawyer wants the paperwork in order, then you can do what you want.

It's like a EULA - Easy eUgenics Licensing Agreement, but TLDR = Too Late Didn't Resist.

Lydia said...

That "water baby" stuff sounds rather creepy. I can see it in the case of a miscarriage or stillbirth but not for the deliberate killing of abortion -- looks to be putting a gloss on the whole thing.

Something similar is keeping footprints of aborted babies, a practice offered by some abortion clinics here in the U.S.

Blue@9 said...

I guess I'm with some others here who think abortion is killing but it shouldn't necessarily be illegal. There are categories of justifiable homicide, etc. To a large extent I agree with Achilles. The issue persists because it's a sparring ground for moral preeners. The politicization of it just polarizes and polarizes.

Someone in the other thread mentioned that he thought a fetus was human, but not 'a human' because a fetus isn't broadly accepted as a human in our society. It seems off to me that 'a human' is just a majoritarian construct, but it is somewhat correct, right? Many societies have limited "personhood" in various ways, whether it's by sex, race, or religion.

But you have to wonder, have people chosen to define it this way because of self-interest? Not too many slave owners were eager to say that blacks were human, or fully human. (Before you get your panties in a twist, I'm not saying pro-choicers are equivalent to slaveowners--simply saying that society's definition of "a human" may not be some untainted Roussean conception of humanness).

A big problem here, of course, is that fetuses can't speak or lead rallies. Unlike blacks, Jews, women, or gays, they can't get up on television and recite Shakespeare:

If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die?

Personally speaking, a fetus seems more like a person than not. I can go the Aristotelian way: (1) it's a living organism, (2) composed human genes and tissue, or I can go the touchy-feely way: When I interact with a pregnant woman I'm not thinking wow, that's a big clump of cells in her belly, wonder if she'll get it removed soon.

chuck said...

I used to donate to Planned Parenthood, but stopped when they became overtly political. About the same time the argument that abortion was sometimes necessary, became an argument that abortion was a good thing in its own right, something that some would celebrate. We have ended up with a spooky movement pushing child sacrifice. Its profoundly weird.

Jay Vogt said...

It's as tragic as it is simple; "you mock what you do not understand"

Andy Freeman said...

Why not flip the question?

Until the mother signs an affidavit saying that the fetus is a human, it has the same legal status as an "undifferentiated mass of cells" that can be removed with little risk to the mother. In other words, a fetus starts out as just what the pro-choice crowd says it is.

Until the affidavit is signed, the mother is free to abort the fetus at will. Moreover, if said fetus comes to harm as a result of someone else's action, we treat that act as little more than simple assault on the mother. Remember, it's just an undifferentiated mass of cells that can be removed with little risk.

When the mother signs the affidavit, things change. The mother's options are restricted and she's responsible for its well-being. Moreover, if someone causes the fetus to die, we treat that act as something akin to murder.

This approach places no restrictions on a woman's right to choose. She doesn't have to sign anything to get an abortion. She merely has to refuse to sign the affidavit before hand.

Andy Freeman said...

Of course, society may decide that it has no interest in promoting the well-being of an undifferentiated mass of cells.

bagoh20 said...

I'm gonna try one more time to get this right.

The fact that it's a potential human is indisputable. That's the point of the ultrasound requirement - to make sure we all understand that before killing it.

I also think that understanding is what Pro Choice people really object to about the ultrasound. Not the invasion of her privates, since the abortion procedure does even worse. They prefer women not know the truth, or at least have plausible deniability. The left loves that stuff.

Blue@9 said...

"undifferentiated mass of cells"

I always find it funny when people resort to "framing" buzzwords and jargon (latest example: "white privilege"). Man, even the "undifferentiated" part is largely inaccurate past the very early part of the pregnancy--oops, I mean "parasitic infestation." Why not just call it a fetus like the rest of us "differentiated clumps of cells"?

Carol said...

I think a woman wanting an abortion will sign the statement in the sincerest of bad faith. Because I want it, Now, because shut up.

slarrow said...

I wonder how the 1850s version would have read...

"I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to perform, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not transfer ownership of a human being to another."

Mark said...

What is odd is the mockery of Muslims by many in the commentariat here while our troops occupy and kill in our name overseas.

Quite a few commentators here shed tears for a fetus they won't for an adult of the wrong faith.

If pro-life people were really pro-all-human-life I would listen more. But pro-war and anti-abortion don't jive.

exhelodrvr1 said...

So women who can't read the statement can't get an abortion. Isn't that racist?

Mark said...

Given there are exceptions in current bills for rape and incest, I assume you would not force them to sign this statement ... or would you?

Would it be legal to exempt rape and incest victims?

dbp said...

It is really hard to judge what percentage of women will:

1. Sign truthfully

2. Sign even though they do not believe it to be true.

3. Back out of the abortion because they feel honor-bound to not lie.

The beauty of the proposal is that it directly confronts the potential mother with the gravity of what she is about to do. I think for most women it is a somber choice, this assures us that it is so.

jr565 said...

Let's remember that, under the law, the abortion right — in the Supreme Court's idealized image — is based on the idea of the woman's entitlement to define her own concept of "the mystery of human life." This is a "philosophic exercise" that "originate[s] within the zone of conscience and belief."

With this idea of women entitlement to define her own concept of life, I see the reluctance to use ultrasounds. Because that then would inject "Reality" into the womans' concept of life.
In response to the suggestion by Anne:
"Here's an idea for an abortion regulation that I've never heard anyone else discuss, but which occurred to me as I've read and reread the Supreme Court cases. A woman seeking an abortion must sign a statement: I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not kill a human being."
I would show the ultrasound and say:
"Heres an ultrasound that proves you wrong".
If a woman can attest the former, why would it be improper for the state to show the latter?

slarrow said...

And incidentally, I would support the Professor's suggestion. But that's because I'm pro-life, and I think such a statement exposes the fundamental injustice at the heart of abortion that has a common basis with slavery, namely:

Is it proper for the question of whether a being is a human being (with all rights pertaining thereto) or property (which may be disposed of as desired without penalty) to be determined by someone with a direct interest, economic or otherwise, in the outcome?

Put another way, is one's humanity discovered (that is, inherent and then recognized) or decided (i.e., based on the will of another or others)?

Clearly, the modern schema has decreed that such questions are decided and that the fetus is property unless you happen to think otherwise, so I applaud Althouse for making that explicit. I suppose it was also useful to get people on the record saying that black slaves weren't real people, too--although they didn't seem nearly as ashamed to say that as moderns do about what is actually being aborted.

hombre said...

An e-mail from CatholicVote.org: "A March poll conducted by The Poling Company showed that 64% of Americans would support a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, when science and medicine can prove the unborn child experiences pain."

The remaining 36% are sociopathic Democrats and/or feminist morons.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think a woman wanting an abortion will sign the statement in the sincerest of bad faith. Because I want it, Now, because shut up."

Yes, but it's like someone avoiding the draft by saying what you have to say to be a conscientious objector.

Ann Althouse said...

The fact that it's easy to get past is an argument for why it is constitutional.

Ann Althouse said...

But abortion rights people would fight it anyway, and we'd have a good discussion of the nature of the right.

I would like to see the discussion.

Ann Althouse said...

"With this idea of women entitlement to define her own concept of life, I see the reluctance to use ultrasounds. Because that then would inject "Reality" into the womans' concept of life."

Planned Parenthood v. Casey (the case linked in the post) is clear that the people have a right to communicate with the woman and try to persuade her as she makes what is her decision.

elkh1 said...

YoungHegelian said...

"Its spirit must be propitiated so that it can find rest," or it'll return to take revenge on the living.

In eastern beliefs, babies are sent by god (the honcho spirit?) to either help or take revenge on the parents. Good babies if the parents were good in their previous lives... What do you think the spirits will do when the mother killed the baby?

Liberalmann said...

ONLY AND ALL REPULIKKKLAN BABIES SHOULD BE ABORTED!

Ann Althouse said...

Here's the part of Casey that my last comment refers to:

"Though the woman has a right to choose to terminate or continue her pregnancy before viability, it does not at all follow that the State is prohibited from taking steps to ensure that this choice is thoughtful and informed. Even in the earliest stages of pregnancy, the State may enact rules and regulations designed to encourage her to know that there are philosophic and social arguments of great weight that can be brought to bear in favor of continuing the pregnancy to full term, and that there are procedures and institutions to allow adoption of unwanted children as well as a certain degree of state assistance if the mother chooses to raise the child herself."

Ann Althouse said...

My proposal is designed to be something that the state does "to ensure that this choice is thoughtful and informed" and to "encourage her to know that there are philosophic and social arguments of great weight."

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I like it. The woman who is about to undergo abortion should have reflected on what is actually going to happen. By signing your statement "I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not kill a human being." the woman will have had to at least reflect a small bit. Whether she lies or not is another issue. But. The concept that the baby growing inside her body IS another human being must be considered. She is allowed to dismiss the concept. But in your scenario, she must at least think about it.

Smilin' Jack said...

The Congressman described the fetus's humanity: It does something that we are invited to recognize as part of our shared human condition and therefore to appreciate its reality and to feel empathy....The very thing that the Congressman used to call us to think of it as human, they would laugh at before killing it.

Monkeys masturbate. I'm pretty sure monkey fetuses do too.

A woman seeking an abortion must sign a statement: I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not kill a human being.

Then they should show the signed copy to the fetus, so it won't mind being aborted.

And there's no reason to stop at abortion...a woman familiar with Peter Singer's writings might well feel that infanticide does not kill a human being.

Liberalmann said...

I'LL ONLY BE WITH A WOMAN WHOS HAD AN ABORTION. THIS PROVES SHE ENLIGHTENED AND EVOLVED.

hombre said...

Mark wrote: "If pro-life people were really pro-all-human-life I would listen more. But pro-war and anti-abortion don't jive."

First, people aren't "pro-war" like people are "pro-abortion."

Second, war doesn't set out to kill the innocent. Abortion does.

Third, most pro-aborts oppose the death penalty for convicted first-degree murderers does their inconsistency prevent you from listening to them?

I could go on, but I suspect it is pointless. Your comment is illogical.

Btw, I think the word you are looking for is "jibe," not "jive."

Saint Croix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blue@9 said...

If pro-life people were really pro-all-human-life I would listen more.

Is that what the movement is called, "pro-all-human-life"?

This is a shitty strawman. Plenty of people oppose abortion and support the death penalty. Inconsistent? Only if you think due process and moral fitness are at all relevant.

As for enemies killed in war overseas, I don't support dehumanizing mockery, but I don't cry when we kill them. Also, I don't consider it mockery when we speak the truth about how terrorists dehumanize themselves.

Saint Croix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
way2opinionated said...

Think about how much time so-called "Progressives" spend dehumanizing their political opponents, undesirables (in their eyes), and 'enemies of the state' (non-Obama worshipers). Would the statement above become an affirmative defense for political assassination by the Left?

rcocean said...

Oh, its constitutional eh professor?

Sez, you.

I think Breyer, Ginzberg, The wise Latina, and Kagan think differently.

Just get Drama Queen Kennedy on-board and suddenly your "idea" is Unconstitutional.

n.n said...

It would be helpful to begin the discussion with the terms and circumstances of reality, as they are, and not as we would have them be. The discussion should be focused on the normal and not the exceptional (or normalized). Various special interests routinely and intentionally derail discussing facts in order to serve their personal interests, not the least of which are motivated by money and control.

Ann Althouse said...

"Oh, its constitutional eh professor?"

I really don't know. I'd like to see the argument. I think it would help people.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

YoungHegelian,

Re: "water babies," there was this famous Naomi Wolf piece in the New Republic. I don't think that's all of it, but it was the best I could turn up in two minutes. As I remember the whole thing, it amounted to "Yes, the fetus is a living human being, and yet I'm right to kill it, because these are my circumstances. And I ought decorously to mourn the dead baby, because it's sorrowful that it isn't alive. But I did the right thing in killing it."

rcocean said...

Just remember the constitution is what five SCOTUS judges say it is.

Sodomy, abortion, and the right not to hear a prayer in school are now Constitutional rights. Because, well, just because five SCOTUS Judges say so.

IMO, had the Judicary stayed out, the Abortion issue would've been settled on a state by state with everyone except a few extremists satistified. However, Harvard, DC, and Manhattan decided to impose their view on the rest of the country through Judicial fiat.

'cause its in the constitution, don't ya know.

rcocean said...

I would argue that it isn't a constitutional issue, one way or the other. That in fact, the Constitution is SILENT on the issue and that the people through their elected representatives should decide.

But my view is considered c-r-a-z-y in 2013 America. So yes, let's see what our 5 Philosopher Kings says. Thumbs up, or Thumbs down, Justice Kennedy? How do you feel about Althouse's idea this morning?

n.n said...

Statement of Request to Commit Premeditated Murder
(an act which has consequences for the individual, society, and humanity)

I, , resident in the City of ____________________, County of ____________________, State of ____________________, being of sound mind and disposing memory and not acting under duress or undue influence, and fully understanding the terms and circumstances of reality, do hereby make, publish, and declare this document to be my request to commit premeditated murder of a developing human life within my womb.

This request does not come lightly, but fully acknowledges that a human life evolves from conception to grave, and that committing abortion is, in fact, an act of premeditated murder.

The request is submitted with cause and for the following reasons:

________________________________

Mark said...

Blue@9 - I also am for calling terrorists as the scum they are.

But you get a good helping of Muslim mocking on this blog from those commenting, portraying all Muslims as terrorists.

There's a pretty clear line I have seen crossed many times, and thus I find this an interesting set of threads as the duplicity goes unremarked.

chrisnavin.com said...

Thanks for the thinking on this, Althouse.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Mark:But you get a good helping of Muslim mocking on this blog from those commenting, portraying all Muslims as terrorists.

Cite please. kthxbye

jr565 said...

If this were slavery, the argument would be we can allow slaves if the slaveowner says "I truly believe that blacks are subhuman and 3/5ths of a man and thus not fit to be anything but a slave"

Saint Croix said...

I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not kill a human being.

I think Althouse is honestly trying to get people to be more pro-life. At the same time, she has no interest in forcing a woman to stay pregnant if she doesn't want to. There are actually a lot of pro-lifers who feel this way, that the only solution to abortion is love, not the authority of law.

So in that spirit Althouse often publicizes abortion atrocities (something other pro-choice people constantly repress or deny). She often uses the "baby" word. And she's forever patient with me and other pro-lifers who talk about infanticide whenever this subject comes up.

I think Althouse's proposed legislation is likely to reduce the number of abortions. Thus I hereby bite my tongue and support her proposal.

Saint Croix said...

I would also request that every woman be informed that we have laws on the books in regard to when people die, and the law is the same in all 50 states--total brain death. And brain activity begins 6 weeks after conception, and 8 weeks after the last menstrual period.

I would like to see an oath informed by actual knowledge in regard to what our laws say about human death.

RecChief said...

I'm jsut wondering, if they knew the fetus (baby) that they want to abort was gay, would they still fight to abort it?

Saint Croix said...

Aborting women should also sign an oath that indicates they have seen an ultrasound of their baby.

The standard of law for all these regulations, by the way, is the infamous "undue burden" test.

There could be theoretical free speech issues with requiring people to swear an oath. Although we require oaths in other contexts, for instance serving on a jury, or becoming an attorney or a doctor. Aborting a pregnancy is just as serious a matter, I would think.

MadisonMan said...

When the mother signs the affidavit, things change. The mother's options are restricted and she's responsible for its well-being.

What if she drinks after signing the affidavit? Or does something else with a drug that crosses the placenta and causes the baby harm?

My own opinion is that the less Govt intrusion, the better.

bagoh20 said...

"My proposal is designed to be something that the state does "to ensure that this choice is thoughtful and informed..."

Then we need some proof that signing the document did include learning what the choice actually was. It would need at the least a series of realistic photos or renderings that show fetal development and indicate where her fetus is on that continuum.

I don't know how anyone could object to that. It's just the simplest of truth about the matter.

bagoh20 said...

The statement alone seems to be more just simply providing a ready made excuse for why it was OK to do it.

Greg said...

Ann, there you have it -- for the pro-abortion extremists, dehumanizing the child in the womb is a necessary element to convincing themselves and others that abortion is morally acceptable. It isn't too different to what was done by the Nazis in Germany or the slaveholders of the South -- once you make the victim less than human and therefore less than worthy of human rights, inflicting unspeakable cruelty and even death isn't that big of a stretch. Indeed, with abortion it becomes necessary to even devalue the fact that there is life -- after all, if the things inflicted as part of the abortion process were inflicted upon cats dogs or farm animals, many of the same folks who support in utero infanticide would be demanding long jail sentences for the perpetrators.

Writ Small said...

I like it. If a mother truly believes she's killing a human being, she shouldn't have an abortion.

What about a woman prone to miscarriages? Is her doctor obligated to get her to sign that before she can have unprotected sex? That's a little. . . creepy.

jr565 said...

Writ Small wrote:
"I like it. If a mother truly believes she's killing a human being, she shouldn't have an abortion".

But this just restates the prochoice position. How is it any different than what pro choicers say now? If people believed that they were killing a human being when having an abortion, then they wouldn't have an abortion (unless they have no problem killing a human being).
Also, if we are true believers in the pro choice position then it shouldn't matter if the woman does think she is killing a human being. It's just an embryo and is her choice.
What if she instead signed something that says "Yes I recognize that I have a growing human embryo in my womb and fully recognize that it's human and alive, but I don't give a shit because it's my womb and I don't want a (fag,black,girl boy, harelipped, retarded) baby.Or even a perfectly healthy baby. I just don't want to give birth to it. So fuck you"

Marty said...

The infallible identifier for liberals is how full of hate they are for everyone else.


Note, I wrote "liberals," not "Democrats." And I'm addressing current liberals, not New Dealers.

Illuninati said...

Althouse said:
"If you are going to take it into your hands to kill a human being, you don't diminish it and laugh at it first. For example, an execution — assuming it is permitted at all, as it is in the United States — is carried out with somber respect. Even as this human being will be killed, we must demonstrate that we understand the profundity of what we are doing"

This is a profoundly sensitive and moral observation. What you have observed is the moral black hole which exists at the core of many on the left. When Stalin murdered millions of Russian people the American left dismissed it because "you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet."

Big Mike said...

Thought-provoking, Professor. But please bear in mind that sometimes it makes sense to abort -- kill -- even if you do know that you're taking the life of a human being. Go look up Tay-Sachs disease in Wikipedia or somewhere else. Bad as the description is in wiki, the reality of a beautiful child dying slowly in agony over a four year period is something no parent would subject their child to. There are other syndromes and diseases nearly as bad. There are times -- very rare times -- when abortion is a mercy. It should be safe and legal for those times.

Dante said...

Yes, exactly. And in war, we might portray the enemy as subhuman. I think the present-day American view is that it was wrong to portray the Japanese the way we did in WWII.

Stats on Tarawa (how can you capture the carnage):

Of the 3,636 Japanese that made up the garrison, only one officer and sixteen enlisted men were willing to surrender. And of the 1,200 Korean laborers that had been brought to Tarawa to construct the defenses, only 129 survived. All told, 4,690 of the island's defenders were killed.[13] The 2nd Marine Division suffered 894 killed in action, 48 officers and 846 enlisted men, with another 84 of the survivors later succumbing to their wounds, of whom 8 were officers and 76 were enlisted men.

At the Wikipedia Entry, there is an interesting description of a "Neap Tide," and how that small (engineering) miscalculation cost lives.

Also, the Japanese have an exclusive haploid group:

Haplogroup N9b - found in Japan.

BTW, Bagoh, if you are interested, here is the Wikipedia link. Note, Haploid group "N" is a subgroup of "L3." L3 is rare in Africa, leading to the idea that the entire L3 chain was founded outside of Africa, or shortly before migration from Africa.

There, I think I just placed my first Althouse Amazon purchase, for The Seven Daughters of Eve. At least I hope so.

Cheers, Meade, I hope you get some beer, and not Mead form it =) With respect (all due respect seems to me to be presumptuous).

gadfly said...

Lawyers' minds are often murky. What legal purpose would the Althouse "solution" serve?

Only the signer and her God will know whether she lied. And babies will continue to be killed.

Dante said...

BTW, I noticed this:

The 2nd Marine Division suffered 894 killed in action, 48 officers and 846 enlisted men, with another 84 of the survivors later succumbing to their wounds, of whom 8 were officers and 76 were enlisted men.

The separation of those who died in battle vs. later is interesting. It reminds me of the old Testament, in which it was punishable to beat a slave to death, but if he died a couple weeks later it was not punishable.

Dante said...

Gadfly:

What legal purpose would the Althouse "solution" serve?

Only the signer and her God will know whether she lied. And babies will continue to be killed.


Why does Ann have to be defined by her title? Is she not also a human being?

The purpose is obvious: "You are making an enormous decision. Treat it as such."

Of course, people in my experience often view their own particular situation as the most pressing, but it might work with women.

Michael said...

Professor. Thank you for this very thoughtful essay. Greatly appreciated.

Writ Small said...

Also, if we are true believers in the pro choice position then it shouldn't matter if the woman does think she is killing a human being.

I can imagine a situation where a pregnant woman who believes life begins at conception is being pressured to get an abortion. She could be messed up for a long time if she goes through with it despite her beliefs. What she believes is paramount. It's irrelevant that a "true believer" thinks you don't attain personhood without brain activity.

R. Chatt said...

How about the government forcing people who engage in heterosexual sex sign a form that they recognize the true purpose of intercourse is human reproduction and therefore the sex act done simply for the sake of pleasuring oneself with a partner is immoral? If you don't sign you pay a tax.

That is, if we want the government to start imposing morality on people and defining with exactitude what constitutes a human being.

Obviously a 14 year old girl might have a different opinion than a 45 year woman or a 65 year old man about what a human being is.

I don't get into the abortion debate because I don't believe I have the right to make those kinds of decisions for other people. I personally was rather phobic about having an unwanted pregnancy and opted out of having sex when there was a chance of that. Not because I was against abortion but because that was not a decision I wanted to have to make. But for a lot of woman the choice about having sex is not entirely a free choice depending on the man they are with.

Steve Koch said...

Althouse said:

"Here's an idea for an abortion regulation that I've never heard anyone else discuss, but which occurred to me as I've read and reread the Supreme Court cases. A woman seeking an abortion must sign a statement: I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not kill a human being."

In general, we don't permit individuals to decide who is human and who is not human. When this has happened in history, such as when Hitler decided that Jews were subhuman or in the USA when blacks and indians were treated as subhumans, it was horrifically wrong.

In general, a woman should not be able to decide whether her not yet born baby will be executed. The supreme court was grossly activist and unconstitutional in defining a right to abortion. Rights of not yet born babies must be defined by the normal legislative process.

The main reason that the USA has slaughtered so many millions of babies is cuz the dems realize that women vote and babies don't.

The Althouse view that not yet born babies are people but their mothers still have the right to kill them is insane. In general, abortion would be acceptable only if not yet born babies are not human. Since the trade off is between the death of the baby and the convenience of the host, the burden of proof has to be on the abortion rights people to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that not yet born babies are not human. That seems like a very difficult challenge since we know that the normal process is that baby will be recognized as human within a few months if it is not murdered.

Abortion is not a religious issue, it is a human rights issue.

Steve Koch said...

Saint Croix said...
"I would also request that every woman be informed that we have laws on the books in regard to when people die, and the law is the same in all 50 states--total brain death. And brain activity begins 6 weeks after conception"

Great point. Plus even the babies who are too young to have brain activity are not brain dead, their brain just hasn't started working yet but will start working in a few weeks.

Steve Koch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Koch said...

Althouse said:
"If you are going to take it into your hands to kill a human being, you don't diminish it and laugh at it first. For example, an execution — assuming it is permitted at all, as it is in the United States — is carried out with somber respect. Even as this human being will be killed, we must demonstrate that we understand the profundity of what we are doing"

But normal, sane people who abort babies don't think they are killing a human being, they think abortion is like removing a tumor. Ridiculing and laughing at tumors is fine. Normal people realize that it is not OK to kill human beings just cuz that human being is an inconvenience. This is why abortion rights supporters define not yet born babies as not human (moral problem solved). The percentage of people who think that aborting human beings in general is OK is quite small.

Unknown said...

Lydia said...

That "water baby" stuff sounds rather creepy. I can see it in the case of a miscarriage or stillbirth but not for the deliberate killing of abortion -- looks to be putting a gloss on the whole thing.

Something similar is keeping footprints of aborted babies, a practice offered by some abortion clinics here in the U.S.


Maybe this will help. Three years ago to the day, I held the body of my (deliberately killed, then delivered) son. We took photos and we made imprints of his feet. For part of the time, our parents were there, as were our pastors. Mostly, my wife and I were alone with him.

I hated, and still hate, what we had done, as I hated the devastating birth defect he was diagnosed with two months before. Not a day has gone by that I have not thought of him, and the little clay square with his footprints that sits on our dresser serves as a focal point for that remembering. I am not glad it is there, but I want it there. I would regret not having it. I have had no wish or need to look at the photos from that day, but I would regret not having those as well.

My feelings about everything that happened in our family during those months, and our eventual decision to end our son's life, are fluid. I do not attempt, in this post or otherwise, to justify that action. I do not believe it was "the right thing to do"--quite the opposite. Neither can I convince myself that the life that faced him--and yes, his family--would have been right. For the moment, I can only say that we chose between two incredibly painful options, and that there is a small but real consolation in knowing that for all I have suffered, my son never did.

I understand that this still might not make sense to you. I sincerely hope that it never does. I only ask that you acknowledge that for some of us, killing an unborn baby does not automatically imply that we want to forget him.

Steve Koch said...

"I understand that this still might not make sense to you. I sincerely hope that it never does. I only ask that you acknowledge that for some of us, killing an unborn baby does not automatically imply that we want to forget him."

Maybe a similar situation is where a husband or wife kills their spouse cuz their life is so agonizing and hopeless.

Another similar situation might be where a person commits suicide cuz their life is so agonizing and hopeless.

It is possible to imagine situations where abortion might be morally justified but those mercy killings are a small minority of abortions. The vast majority of abortions are not mercy killings but are about reducing inconvenience for the women killing their babies.

Rusty said...

MadisonMan said...
When the mother signs the affidavit, things change. The mother's options are restricted and she's responsible for its well-being.

What if she drinks after signing the affidavit? Or does something else with a drug that crosses the placenta and causes the baby harm?

My own opinion is that the less Govt intrusion, the better.

I agree.
However if the fetus is determined to be a human being then the state must step in to preserve that human beings rights. If only to remind the mother that what she carries is a human being.

Steve Koch said...

MadisonMan said...
"When the mother signs the affidavit, things change. The mother's options are restricted and she's responsible for its well-being.

What if she drinks after signing the affidavit? Or does something else with a drug that crosses the placenta and causes the baby harm?"

So the humanity of the baby depends on how the mom feels? Absolutely ridiculous. The intrinsic humanity of the baby has nothing to do with the mother's opinion and it is absurd to give women the right to decide who lives and dies. Everywhere else in our society, legal killing requires a tremendous amount of reflection by multiple people before the decision is made. For example, when a murderer is executed by the state, it is only after a thorough trial and many appeals that usually take several years. When we go to war, the constitutional process is for the prez to get the agreement of the legislative branch to go to war. So why would it be OK to give all women the right to kill their babies? It makes no sense except that women can vote and babies can't.



"My own opinion is that the less Govt intrusion, the better."

Yeah, wouldn't want government intrusion to prevent murder.

Richard Fagin said...

Prof., how does your proposal square with the right of unemancipated minors to get an abortion without parental consent? We don't let underage people engage in contracts, among other things because we've decided as a society that they lack the judgment to make such decisions. Why would they have the judgment to sign your suggested statement.

Locomotive Breath said...

So if you can take the advice of Joycelyn Elders then you're not human?

Jquip said...

Easiest way to change viewpoints on abortion is to fully accept that it is, rightly or wrongly, currently legal.

But if the life of the child is *solely* her choice, then it is *solely* her responsibility. A father can have to 'Right' to the child as the child is solely the woman's fault. And no father can be attached for child support or maintenance of the woman's exclusive choice, fault, and property.

Acknowledge the full consequences of abortion fully in law. Do it properly, and with sanity. And watch single mother become instantly pro-life to keep the rent paid. And there are a lot of single mothers.

Naut Right said...

"Let's remember that, under the law, the abortion right — in the Supreme Court's idealized image — is based on the idea of the woman's entitlement to define her own concept of "the mystery of human life."
Not really. The court decided when living tissue became a living person. The woman only has a legal choice to abort tissue and not to decide if it is and when it changes. Abortion law is as out of date as the natal science that formed it. Since the science was critical to the decision, the court case, Roe v Wade should be held moot and abortion rights relitigated.

Allen and Tonya Hunt said...

We have to clear up the concept that the fetus is defined solely by the mother. How can a person be sent to prison for murder for punching a woman in the stomach and killing her unborn child but the mom can do down the street to clinic and kill it with no consequences! As long as abortion is legal a man should be able to opt out of child support should the mother keep the child against his wishes.

FrankN said...

Why not apply the same calm legal standards for the end of life to the start?

Life ends when the EEG says nothing's there. The EEG says something's there around the 5th week of gestation. Before EEGs, life ends when the heart stops. The heart starts beating also around the 5th week. The law uniquely identifies someone by their DNA. The baby, under the same law, is a different person than the mother, since the DNA is different. Before DNA, fingerprints uniquely identified individuals. Baby and mother have different fingerprints. Blood types and Rh factors often differ. Color of hair and eyes often differ. Sex differs 50% of the time. By any criteria we use to distinguish between two lives, baby and mother are two different lives.

And for the people who live their lives believing that he/she who interferes with nature does so at his/her own peril, what greater interference is there than inserting a vacuum into the uterus to tear apart what is described above? What process has nature been perfecting for millions of years that Planned Parenthood interferes with for profit?

Stop pretending otherwise.

submandave said...

Young Hegelian, et. al.

Having family in Japan I feel I need to speak a bit on Japan, abortion, and Mizu Kuyo-. While abortion is readily available in Japan and post conception birth control is not uncommon, even in Japan unrestricted elective abortion is only legal in the first trimester. My Japanese wife was in disbelief when she learned the standard pro-choice position, commenting that there was no question that late-term abortion was murder. With regard to abortion and Mizu Kuyo-, most Japanese I have spoken to clearly acknowledge that abortion is killing the baby (none of that "lump of cells" rationalization BS). But most Japanese also believe in some form of reincarnation. So, while that baby's soul will have another chance to live, the Mizu Kuyo- is often meant to comfort the spirit and apologize to it for not giving it the chance to live at that time.

submandave said...

"Why not apply the same calm legal standards for the end of life to the start?"

Frank, I, too, have asked that question. As I though more on it, though, I've come to recognize that there is a significant difference between the two situations.

While a person who looses brain function at end-of-life is very unlikely to spontaneously regain it, a person at start-of-life does not have brain function but in the vast majority of cases it will spontaneously begin.

A better mental exercise, I think, is to imagine what if those who slip into brain death at end-of-life were likely to suddenly and spontaneously regain function. I would think that there would be a hew and cry for legislation to prevent someone from executing a DNR or directing final disposal of a body until they were damn sure the fellow was really and permanently dead.

Ed Bradley said...

Ann,

In regard to your idea "A woman seeking an abortion must sign a statement: I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not kill a human being." why limit that to abortion? Some could argue that being human requires rational thought and that a 6 month old baby is not capable of such. Should a woman be able to say or sign the same thing and kill a 6 month old? How about a "rabid feminist" (While I often disagree with you I do not consider you such) who felt men are not human, could she sign the same thing and thus kill any man?

Now obviously I am coming at this from the opposite perspective then you as I believe that life begins at conception. My understanding is that each state defines the penalty for murder, there is not a federal law for it (I am not a lawyer or a law student).

Why not define abortion as murder one, it is premeditated after all, but allow each state to decide wether there is any punishment or even if it is legal to murder under a certain age be it 3 months after conception, 8 months after conception or 2 years after birth.

Ken said...

Ann,

But few would say that ridiculing the condemned being — dehumanizing him — is acceptable.

This is the point. People who support abortion do not believe a fetus is alive. Any attempt to show otherwise must be met with dehumanizing mockery. Otherwise these people have to face up to the fact that they are responsible for roughly 50,000,000 deaths since Roe v. Wade.

Ken said...

Let's remember that, under the law, the abortion right — in the Supreme Court's idealized image — is based on the idea of the woman's entitlement to define her own concept of "the mystery of human life."

This is indeed ridiculous. A fetus is considered human life based solely on the feelings of the mother? Seriously?

Is there any other act in any penal code that rests solely on the feelings of the beliefs of the perpetrator? Are thieves not considered thieves because they believed what they were stealing wasn't valuable to the original owner?

Unknown said...

Steve Koch said...

Maybe a similar situation is where a husband or wife kills their spouse cuz their life is so agonizing and hopeless.

Another similar situation might be where a person commits suicide cuz their life is so agonizing and hopeless.


There are some parallels, yes. Your phrasing suggests you aren't discussing them seriously. Again, I hope you are never forced to.

The vast majority of abortions are not mercy killings but are about reducing inconvenience for the women killing their babies.

I agree, and it's monstrous.

Ken said...

Yes, but it's like someone avoiding the draft by saying what you have to say to be a conscientious objector.

The draft has been abolished. Let me know when it strikes back up, then this argument might actually be an argument.

Steve Koch said...

"Maybe a similar situation is where a husband or wife kills their spouse cuz their life is so agonizing and hopeless.

Another similar situation might be where a person commits suicide cuz their life is so agonizing and hopeless."

Unknown said:
"There are some parallels, yes. Your phrasing suggests you aren't discussing them seriously."

You are wrong, wonder why you made that mistake?

"Again, I hope you are never forced to."

Like everybody else, there is a significant chance that before I die there will be a period of intense agony that I could avoid by suicide. At that point I will have to decide whether to be or not to be.

NikFromNYC said...

Did you just take DMT? That's a starkly sincere compliment.

Micha Elyi said...

"Libs will view that statement as a potential criminal confession so it is a non-starter."
--AJ Lynch

Has anybody noticed yet that anyone who signs the Althouse statement has confessed to ignorance of basic biological science?

Chris Mooney projects more than a 16-screen cineplex. The Left has made war on Science since before one of their own plastered the label 'scientific' onto their socialism. Today the Left carries on their war on science with their political sock puppet, the Democrat Party.

Micha Elyi said...

"why limit (the Althouse statement) to abortion? ... Should a woman be able to say or sign the same thing and kill a 6 month old? How about a "rabid feminist""
--Ed Bradley

Killing a 6-month old person? No. That would be wrong.

The "rabid feminist"? Well, Ed Bradley, as you know the madness called feminism will only end when women take responsibility.