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I got into it a little bit with a commenter at MyDD who used DemocratsForLife as his URL. I wound up making about the same points.

I *do* think that the Democrats will have more success with a larger anti-busybody message; they simply have to have the spine to include retaining safe and unKafkaed abortion under that rubric.

I am an agnostic toward the atheist end of the line. I don't, to use your own, er, *vivid* literary style, kiss any cleric's arse. I only point this out to disabuse you of the fixed idea that you seem to possess, that it requires religiosity to make you anti-abortion.

Actually, all it requires is some concentrated thinking on complicated moral and biological propositions; and then, you come to a conclusion that, if you are sensible, you recognise as provisional. At the same time, you treat those who come to a different conclusion with courtesy and tolerance, even if they have a tendency to screech a bit about dead women in hotel rooms.

I agree whole-heartedly with you here, eR. Abortion has too often been a sticky issue for us to frame, politically, and there is no doubt that we need to adjust the way we talk about it. Saying "I'm against abortion because it is murder but for abortion because I don't want to tell a woman what to do with her body" makes us middle of the road and dreaded flip-floppers.

Hi David :) I suppose mentioning the link between illegal abortion and women dying from botched, unregulated procedures can sound like screeching to someone who doesn't run the risk of dying himself in one of those rooms.

Certainly someone can be opposed to abortion and not be religious, or at least not a single-issue voter. I think that's what the Dems are counting on. But then Jerome says we should abandon "choice" and try to refit "pro-life." Thanks to brilliant branding from the right, that term is tied to religion. If we're going to go down that road and stay with "life," (an idea I support) then we have to define what life we mean. If we mean the life of the woman, and we must, then that means keeping abortion safe for all women. I'm not sure from what I'm reading that they are prepared to make that case or stick to it. If we want to talk about the real world where the corporate media shapes the agenda, "I'm opposed to abortion but I don't want the gov't poking into our business" isn't going to pass the smell test anymore. That's why the anti-choicers have worked so hard to link abortion with slavery.

PW: Women must be punished for the crime of sex. When are we going to get over that idea?

I should know better by now, but there's no fool like an old fool. Allow me to consider some elements of your comment, but please keep in mind that I have come to the conclusion, because so far no-one has produced a convincing counter-argument, that life is a process. It begins at conception and ends with death. I view with the greatest amusement (tinged with infinite sadness) the efforts of some people to convince the world that the life process does not actually begin until ... days/months (please fill in whatever figure, depending on which 'expert' you are using.)

Begining with your first paragraph, no, the tone of screeching is screeching irrespective of the subject matter.

I am delighted to agree that religiosity is neither a necessary nor a sufficient reason to be against terminating the life process. I share your deep suspicions of what appears to be a monstrous sophistry on the part of some of your politicians, but it was ever thus!

Paraphrasing you (I hope accurately) you ask rhetorically that 'life' be defined, but then provide your own answer, always the woman's life. There is no getting round it, I disagree, profoundly, but then I would *starting from where I start*. But now I am curious and must pose you a question. In the scales of (for lack of a better phrase) the right to life, do you give no weight at all to the unborn?

Your final two sentences addressed to PW made me think. I don't wish to put words in your keyboard, but are you, in effect, stating that women should bear absolutely no responsibility for beginning a life process in furtherence of their pleasures?

The need of people like Mr. Duff to go forth and try to shame women, liberals, and anyone not with the anti-choice game plan will never cease to amaze me. And Mr. Duff's head-shaking profound sadness at the deplorable state of ignorance of all of those people is just one of those classic rhetorical tropes that the shamers use, as is:
* the use of "unborn" to describe a blob of cells that biology discards more often than humans ever could; and
* the assumption that *women* should carry, bear, and raise a child as the consequence of the "furtherance of their pleasures" (hey, how about a big red 'A' while we're here) no matter how badly that might turn out for the child or the woman.

And of course, you can't overlook the inherent misogyny in the use of the word "screeching". I mean he might as well call eRob a "screeching harpy" and complete the phrase.

I view with the greatest amusement (tinged with infinite sadness) the falsely pious attempts to impose absolutist beliefs in areas where they have no stake, all for the sake of their own need to control women. If only we would all till our own gardens. I'm shaking my head and sighing in a melancholy fashion right now. *sigh* *shake* *sigh*

'paperwight', a "straight white lawyer" (his words), accuses me of trying to shame women (and liberals - some hope!)

"I would be much obliged, m'lud, if you would direct m'learned friend to point to any passage in the offending document that in any way shames women". (For the benefit of American readers, lawyers in England are just as much rubbish as they are in the US, but they talk like that to kid you into thinking they're a class act, and thus, hopefully, to avoid you vomiting on their Persian carpets when you see the size of their fees. "First, let's hang all the lawyers", said Shakespeare .... but I digress.)

Even so, with the best will in the world, I cannot respond to paperwight's accusation until he can point out where and how I 'shamed' women.

However, I can 'fess up (see, I can do American as well!) to a slight infelicity of expression when I wrote, "tinged with infinite sadness" which paperwight took as referring to the "ignorance" of some people. A more sensitive reader might have picked up that my sadness was directed towards the waste of human potential that would result.

Some people are just determined to be offended now matter how hard you try. I deliberately used the word "unborn" as a safe, neutral term to avoid the more loaded word 'baby'. But paperwight is obviously a man who likes 'to tell it the way it is', so he refers to a human foetus as a "blob of cells". He leaves me with no alternative but to ask him a question: exactly when does that "blob of cells" cease to be a blob and become a human? What happens, and when, and how can you tell? (Thank God I'm not paying for his answer, if I ever get one!)

Despite my 'infinite sadness', I allowed myself a small smile at this phrase used to compare with abortion: "... no matter how badly it might turn out for the child.." You mean, death is better!

I don't think paperwight has, to use another English legal expression, 'quite mastered his brief'. He accuses me of piety, when I specifically stated that I am an agnostic; and of absolutist opinions when I also stated clearly that any conclusions arrived at on this topic must be "provisional".

Apparently I am a mysogynist for gently pointing out the 'screeching' tone of our hostess who, to her credit, took it in good part. What word sums up the tone of our "straight, white lawyer"? Of course, 'histrionics'!

"Giving women access to real sex-ed and birth control and safe abortions when we want them is the real pro-life position. It saves our lives." Precisely, Robin, but I doubt that David Duff will go along with this. It never ceases to amaze me how people who want to recriminalise abortion are also opposed to sex education and easy access to contraceptives. After all, the Netherlands have the lowest number of abortions in the world and they follow precisely this path.

I feel the need to slap everyone in this discussion around a bit. Because you're all wrong, and I'm right. :)

If Duff isn't religious and still believes this idiocy about life beginning at conception then there's no hope for him. No doubt he measures his age from the point of conception and not the point of birth as everyone else does. Unless this whole thing is just an excuse for getting into the pubs and learning to drive nine months early I question his intelligence.

On the question of claiming to be pro-life yet supporting abortion rights, I agree this is silly, or dishonest, but it's no more so than calling the pro-choice side "choice" as if that were the main consideration, or even any consideration at all.

The moral question is about the status of the foetus, which is indeed "just a blob of cells" more or less. Choice doesn't come into it.

But if it did, then all the arguments feminists use could be used to prove men ought to have reproductive choice too -- which feminists are usually completely against. Feminists will argue a woman should be free to chose if she is ready to become a parent -- but men should not have the same consideration. Feminists will say "woman's body, woman's choice" but men are denied the same consideration. In fact nothing brings pro-life and feminists together faster than men's rights. Feminists quickly take up the exact same arguments pro-"life" uses (eg "shouldn't have had sex if you didn't want a baby").

Robin's attempt to say women's lives are in danger from a ban on abortion is silly. They are only in danger if women choose to break the law and attempt to kill a human (from the perspective of the pro-lifers). You should be only as sympathetic to such a woman as to a man in the present day who takes a baseball bat to his unborn child's mother's stomach in an attempt to induce an illegal abortion.

And although I am sympathetic to such a man -- since he lacks any power over his own life and his only possible way to prevent becoming a parent is assault -- I doubt many feminists would have sympathy for the "backstreet abortions" that their own policies have forced into existence.


I liked Helga's comment though. How come if pro-life is all about saving foetuses we don't hear more from them about why abortion is up under Republican presidents and up in Red states? It's almost as if all the talk about saving foetuses wasn't the real point of it all.

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