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Rethinking the liberal/conservative divide

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

June 9th, 2011

The Public Religion Research Institute has released its latest survey, Millennial Generation Committed to Availability, Conflicted about Morality of Abortion. While this poll is focused primarily on opinions about abortion, for comparative purposes it also asked questions about same-sex marriage. Their conclusions are fascinating and probably much more news-worthy than anything they had to say about abortion.

While after reading their report their observations seem obvious, they run counter to what we have become conditioned to believe.

We have, for decades, bought into the idea that opinions about homosexuality and same-sex marriage are part and parcel of the liberal/conservative divide. That growing leniency on “social issues” meantgreater sympathy for immigrants, a greater respect for a woman’s right to choose whether to carry a fetus to term, greater desire for racial inclusion, and greater tolerance for gay people, including their right to full marriage rights. This has been the theory which has driven coalition politics and created alliances between organizations with little in common other than those who opposed their objectives.

And those who daily strive to return America to some Golden Age of Heterosexual Supremacy have also labored under the same assumptions. Labeling themselves as “pro-family”, they broke society into two camps: liberals who wanted unfettered abortion, polygamy, perversion, and the destruction of Western Civilization by means of gay marriage; and conservatives who love America, family, and God. (This mindset even explains GOProud, the very tiny organization of gays who oppose gay rights because they perceive that opposing equality is part of being “conservative”).

But it seems that we all were wrong. It seems that for at least the two issues of abortion and marriage equality, Americans (and especially younger Americans) see these as distinct and separate issues not irrevocably linked by a sense of liberal or conservative identity.

In recent election cycles the so-called “values voter” agenda has often been distilled to abortion and same-sex marriage. Yet these two controversial topics are no longer necessarily linked in the minds of Americans. The gap is particularly notable among the Millennial generation, who support rights for gay and lesbian Americans at rates much higher than their parents but whose generally supportive views on the legality of abortion do not deviate significantly from their parents or the general public.

[Our investigation of Rekers’ “Kraig” and the story of his alterego Kirk Murphy resulted in a significant increase in traffic. The resulting required change in servers has us a little in-between, and consequently we can’t upload new images. There are some informative graphics in the report, starting on Page 8. Please view them there, as I cannot yet provide them here. Thanks, Timothy]

It also appears that the disconnect between abortion and marriage as identity-driven social issues is highly dependent on age. This disparity is likely to increase over time as Millennials (those born in the 80’s) and younger enter society and take their place in politics. While abortion positions do not waver significantly by age, younger Americans are dramatically more supportive of same-sex marriage than are older Americans.

This will prove a challenge to many in our community and its political leadership. Those who view the gay community as a subset of the Democratic Party and a coalition partner in a progressive political alliance may come to find that this approach hinders their abilities in approaching the growing number of conservative, religious, or Republican gay allies.

If they are unable or unwilling to change to meet the new realities, others will rise up who will.

Comments

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Thorne Cassidy
June 9th, 2011 | LINK

I’ve been saying this for a while. It’s really frustrating to always hear the gay rights ally speak of abortion in the very same breath every time. Some of us believe that it is murder. To defend equality, I shouldn’t also have to march in lock step with a gay movement that is a mere extention of the Democratic Party and intolerant, male-bashing feminism–I shouldn’t have to be okay with murdering, late-term, defenseless, unborn babies.

Sarah
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Both you and the report say that the two topics are not “necessarily linked” in the minds of Millennials. To support this, the report states that Millennials support abortion at about the same amount that older generations do and are much more likely to support same-sex marriage than previous generations.

It’s getting late, so I may be missing things, but I do not see how that evidence supports the conclusion.

Based on the charts and graphs in the report, it looks like the Millennials now support same-sex relationships at about the same rates as they support abortion.

I would be more likely to conclude that the Millennials are the first generation to fully link the two together, and I think it would be premature to claim that Republicans will soon have to deal with hordes of same-sex marriage supporting young Republicans. (Young Independents OtOH…)

MKYLL
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

I think abortion is an awful thing (though I am pro-choice). I believe in strict immigration laws. I’m pro-feminist to a resonable extent, but despise the man-bashing extreme feminists (a la Shakesville). And I am 100 percent ferociously for gay and lesbian equality. Unfortunately, my first three stances make gay rights “activists” reject me as an ally. Their loss.

chiMaxx
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Thorne:

I don’t know which gay rights allies you are listening to, but they are certainly different from the ones I am listening to. While I don’t doubt that among the most prominent pro-gay voices support for abortion rights is higher than among the general public–and moreso now than a decade ago (the leadership has changed more slowly than the public), I don’t recall EVER hearing a gay rights ally speak of abortion “in the same breath” as gay right–much less “every time.”

I’ve always leaned toward the notion that causes should be decoupled–I thought it was silly that organizers of the 1993 March on Washington for Gay rights thought it was even appropriate to have an official stance on “English-Only” laws. Even though I personally agreed with the organizers’ opposition to such laws, I thought including it in the March on Washington made the message less clear. Heck, I don’t think there is a singular GLBTG community, and that we’d actually accomplish more if we officially decoupled and formed strategic alliances on common issues.

That said, as you read through the whole report, it becomes clear that while gay rights leaders and allies have to decouple the issue from others to meet the new broader coalition, that coalition–and people like you–are going to also have to accept that other people supportive of gay rights are not all going to share your views on abortion either. And, indeed that your view–that abortion is murder and thus should be illegal in all cases–is an will remain a very small minority view, no matter what group you are in.

“Majorities of Americans simultaneously say abortion is morally wrong (52%) and that it should be legal in all or most cases (56%)” writes the report. And if you take retirees out of the equation, the support for legality rises to 59%.

Sure, same-sex marriage advocates have to be mindful of the fact that the people responsive to their message about same-sex marriage are more likely to be conflicted on abortion–to reflect the population’s 20 point gap between the belief that abortion is moral (40%) and that at least some health practitioners should provide legal abortion services in their area (58%)–but the overlap between those who will actively support same-sex marriage rights and who would actively work toward a blanket legal ban on all abortions is and will remain a very tiny minority.

chiMaxx
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

MKYLL: I think “activist” is the key word. “Activists” tend to be outspoken on a group of issues. And while the population tends to hold mixed views like yours, activists tend to clump into two largely coherent groups. I tend to agree with you on abortion, as I understand it. I think it’s generally a bad thing, but I don’t like the law drawing a black-white distinction (which is what the law does) on something that is always a complex decision based on a myriad of factors. In most circumstances, I would counsel a friend against abortion, but I wouldn’t want a policeman or judge telling her she can’t.

I disagree with your stance on immigration (as much as possible, I prefer to see our economy importing workers rather than exporting jobs and industries), but as long as your stance on immigration has a place for American citizens to sponsor their same-sex partners, I’d be happy to agree to disagree and focus on the issues where we have common goals.

Frankly, though, I have no idea what your third one means in any sense that would affect issues and policy. You find the attitude of a few people insufferable: Fine. I think everyone has some people they dislike. But are there issues they stand for that you disagree with?

Désirée
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

In a broader sense, I see this as the problem of social issues being tied to economic issues in a left/right divide. I think support for things like gay rights from the right is coming more from a libertarian/economic standpoint. That is, it makes fiscal sense to have gay rights, so one can be “republican” in that one supports smaller government, less taxes, etc and also be in favor of gay rights.

Ultimately, the problem is “left” & “right” simply aren’t enough choices for all the bundled issues out there. When you have to choose one or the other, inevitably the one you choose is going to support issues you oppose and vice versa.

Amicus
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

[It’s off topic, but they could be linked, in a way: no gay couple has ever had an abortion that I know about. Q.E.D.]

Amicus
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Apologies for that horrible phrasing. Just erase “that I know about”. Y’all get what I meant, which was “to my knowledge”.

MKYLL
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Hi ChiMaxx : Thank you for your answer. Even if we disagree on the immigration issues, I still would accept you as an ally on the same-sex-issues front. Which I’m trying to point out is the difference between me (or at least the difference I strive for) and the gay community in general. Because you asked about the “third” point: the Shakesville crowd insists our best allies (statistically)- young Caucasian heterosexual males- are inherently evil. Thus, just for instance, any claim of rape against them must automatically be assumed to be true. Instant arrest. No trial, no questions asked. Etc. It’s both (to me) morally unacceptable and stupid common-sense-wise : why insist white heterosexual men HAVE to be the enemy of homosexuals just because a certain group of male-haters want it that way?

enough already
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Isn’t it one of the strengths of the Republicans that, regardless of whether their candidates are 100% to their own personal liking, they vote for them?
Hasn’t it been well-documented over many decades that Democrats tend to only vote when they feel their candidate addresses, directly, those issues, topic, problems and salient points which speak to them, the voter?

This is why it is easier for the Republicans to put their haters and gay-bashers and total fools into office.

The only solution for those of us who are not lock-step on the far, far, wing-nut right, is to accept that we are never going to be able to vote for someone, only against someone worse.

Until we can reach agreement on that, there is no hope for progress. When I was younger, we liberals used to comfort ourselves by saying “that Republican candidate is so (fill in the blanks, stupid, fascist, hateful, racist, illiterate, whatever) there is no possible way they will be elected.

After nearly 30 years of them being elected, anyway, why are we still saying there is no way? I think it is quite possible – especially if the Democrats are stupid enough to push gun control in 2012 and fail to take the offense on jobs – that we will end up with a President Palin. Or worse.
(If such is possible).

Side question on Desiree: (sorry, this phone won’t let me do accents),given that the next president will either cement or change the Supreme Court leanings to the far right, are our civil rights still just one of many little variables in your decisions?

Timothy (TRiG)
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

MYKLL,

Please stop lying about Shakesville. It doesn’t make you look good.

I’ve read a fair bit of feminist literature, and have yet to see any “man hating” at all, on Shakesville, Shapely Prose, or any other feminist blog. It’s certainly not an overriding theme.

***

Thorne Cassidy,

It’s really frustrating to always hear the gay rights ally speak of abortion in the very same breath every time.

Huh? When does this happen?

Some of us believe that it is murder.

If you said abortion was morally equivalent to murder, I’d disagree, but you would at least be comprehensible. When you say it is murder, you are simply wrong. Murder is a legal term, defined by the legislature and the courts. I am not aware of any jurisdiction in which abortion is murder.

And, as I said to MYKLL, “intolerant, male-bashing feminism” does not, as far as I’m aware, exist.

TRiG.

Matt
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Yes, gay rights activists link gay rights to abortion rights in the same breath all the time. Ever been to a college campus GLBTQIA meeting? Ever read Dan Savage’s blog or Towleroad or Joe Jervis’ blog or Pam Spaulding’s blog?

Donny D.
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

This “we” that Timothy Kincaid talked about in his post doesn’t include me, though perhaps that’s because I’m over 50. For me, it’s a relatively recent thing (starting with the 1992 Republican National Convention) that conservatives/Republicans become identified with the anti-gay position, and gay conservatives/Republicans found themselves in a precarious position within the community. Before that, gay Republicans belonged, and they believed in anti-discrimination legislation like all of us (except the libertarians) did.

One thing we could see is a de-coupling of specific gay rights positions, and perhaps we are already seeing that. Open military service and gay marriage, positions that wealthy conservatives can support, are moving in a positive direction, while employment and housing anti-discrimination legislation, positions wealthy people might not like, seem to be stalled.

I think it’s important that there be gay conservatives, because they are the only chance that we’ll have to have any influence with straight conservatives. For that and other reasons, we need to stop verbally abusing gay conservatives. (I make a distinction here between temperate, thoughtful criticism and spewing bile. Verbal abuse is the latter.)

As for abortion, I’ve run into few gay men who are against it, and no lesbians. (My sense is that all lesbians, including conservative ones, are staunchly feminist.) The LGBT community might have a much different mix of opinions on abortion than does the country as a whole, and may skew heavily in favor of the right to have access to it.

chiMaxx
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Matt writes:

>>Yes, gay rights activists link gay rights to abortion rights in the same breath all the time. Ever been to a college campus GLBTQIA meeting? Ever read Dan Savage’s blog or Towleroad or Joe Jervis’ blog or Pam Spaulding’s blog?<<

Matt: I don't buy it. I'll admit I haven't been to a campus GLBTQIA meeting in 30 years. But I read Dan Savage and JoeMyGod daily, and I read the other two occasionally. I've never seen these issues linked by them in the way you describe, and if you want us to buy that they do this "all the time" you need to present us with a couple of examples of them doing so in the past six months (And pointing out that the most rabid opponents of gay rights–e.g., Bryan Fischer and others who would routinely get LaBarbera awards on this site–also oppose not merely abortion but birth control and access to pornography and would attempt to make premarital and extramarital sex illegal does *not* count as positively linking gay rights and abortion in the same breath).

Thorne Cassidy
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Hey TRiG,

Please don’t take this as spiteful, but you are demonstrating exactly what this article is commenting on–by regarding “murder” as a mere legal concept. There was murder before the u.s., rome, or Moses defined it.

Right and wrong are not the province of American law–rather govt and law are sold as a tool to achieve justice. Unfortunately, the Left and right in this country are two wings of the same party: the Democratublican, big statist party. Both of you leverage govt to force others to live how you want them to, both tax and use stolen money to impose on those they took the money from. Both urge that govt’l sanction makes right or wrong.

I believe what this article is uncovering is that the next generation is more libertarian–and not the would-be-libertarian-but-really-Republican sort. The issue is indeed not left/right, but big govt,/ minimal govt. The next generation refuses to fall neatly into this left/right divide.

BTW every major GLBT blog – joe my god, Dan Savage’s blog, Towleroad, Lezgetreal, or Pam Spaulding’s blog-always accuse those in the news who oppose abortion of intolerance/ignorance/hatred of women etcetera. I oppose the murder of late-term, viable, unborn babies for the same moral reasons that I support gay equality. Understand me before you judge me.

fannie
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

MKYLL claimed:

“the Shakesville crowd insists our best allies (statistically)- young Caucasian heterosexual males- are inherently evil. Thus, just for instance, any claim of rape against them must automatically be assumed to be true. Instant arrest. No trial, no questions asked.”

That is so wrong, it’s laughable as anyone who actually reads Shakesville knows. If you’re going to make such a bold libel I wonder if you could back that up.

Like, who, specifically, is promoting this alleged idea that “young Caucasian heterosexual males” are inherently evil?

If that’s your understanding of what goes on there, I seriously question your understanding of anything written at that blog.

TampaZeke
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

I think the reason that a lot of gay people are pro-choice is because of the overwhelming preponderance of anti-gay, “pro-life” people. From what I’ve seen, “pro-life” activists are almost to a man/woman anti-gay. Many gay people fear that if they give in on the issue of choice/life that our rights will be even more targeted and even more vulnerable. I’m one of those people even though I agree with most (but not all) of the things that MKYLL and Thorne Cassidy have said; and I’m a screaming liberal.

I only put “pro-life” in quotes because it seems that pro-life people are only pro-life BEFORE birth. After birth too many of them shift into pro-death mode supporting war, the death penalty and the fatal neglect of the world’s most vulnerable.

chiMaxx
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Thorne:

Pointing out that the evidence shows that making abortion illegal doesn’t reduce the number of abortions but just makes them more dangerous to women doesn’t make one pro abortion: http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2009/10/13/banning-abortion

Yes, this fact makes those who persist in wanting to use the blunt instrument of the law to prohibit all abortion either ignorant, intolerant or women haters, but pointing that out doesn’t mean you think abortion is a good thing.

fannie
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Donny D said:

“As for abortion, I’ve run into few gay men who are against it, and no lesbians. (My sense is that all lesbians, including conservative ones, are staunchly feminist.)”

Lulz. Not that we’re stereotyping or anything.

As an actual lesbian with Many Lesbian Friends, I know lots of lesbians who aren’t feminists. A lesbian’s support of reproductive rights might actually have something to do with her capacity to potentially become pregnant (via rape or otherwise) and, thus, more directly affected by laws restricting abortion than, say, a gay man.

But, of course, lesbians aren’t monolithic and have many varied reasons for support or opposition to abortion rights.

I’m going to also add here that I’ve seen several references to anti-choicers being framed as woman-hating bigots. I don’t think all people who are opposed to abortion hate women and are genuinely uncomfortable with “the murder of unborn babies.”

If we’re truly interested here in breaking down stereotypes and gross, inaccurate, and demonizing generalizations, can we get some concession here that women and feminist communities might be feminists for reasons that have nothing to do with hating men?

By the way several of you are speaking and stereotyping, I’m pretty convinced that some of you aren’t even familiar enough with modern feminism to be able to render an accurate critique of it. Address it and rebut it on its merits and argumentation, don’t just shoot it down with baseless accusations that certain blog communities frame “heterosexual white men” as “inherently evil.” That’s the oldest tactic in the anti-feminist playbook and only further polarizes.

Thorne Cassidy
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

chiMaxx

You keep saying that I want to prohibit all abortion–and using govt to do it–because I don’t want to support it. You aren’t even listening–just waiting to insert left talking points. *sigh*

Timothy Kincaid
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

The language around abortion is unfortunate.

I’m pro-choice, but anti-abortion.

This is a decision that I cannot fathom ever being one I will have to make. And truly such decisions are best made by the couple involved according to their values and faith (or, depending on the circumstances, just the woman). So I am pro-choice in the sense that I have no right to butt in and tell anyone what to do.

But were some woman so deluded as to think my opinion was worth inquiring about, I would – in most cases – counsel against abortion. My values (and my observations of others) do no see this as an acceptable response to an unplanned pregnancy.

My personal opinions – anti-abortion; my political stance – pro-choice.

Sadly, while I suspect that a huge chunk of the populace thinks as I do, there just isn’t a clear place for us in the pro-choice/pro-life dichotomy.

chiMaxx
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Thorne:

Maybe if you actually said what you believe–as Timothy does above–rather than reducing the views of four bloggers to a caricature of their real and complex views and then pretending that they somehow represent some consensus gay view–I’d be less likely to misunderstand what you say. You write “I oppose the murder of late-term, viable, unborn babies for the same moral reasons that I support gay equality.” What are those moral reasons? And how and how far would you translate your moral opprobrium into law, if you had free rein to do so? I’d be much less likely to misinterpret your position if you actually stated it.

Thorne Cassidy
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

fannie

I agree with most of what you said, and admittedly the arguments against the over-reach of feminism haven’t been adequately laid out in the limited medium–it unfortunately is a syptom of post-modern condition.

First I’m three courses shy of a triple major in philosophy, history, Spanish lit with a minor in classical studies– I’m fairly fluent in feminist ideology.

A man accused of rape in this country will sit in jail while his accuser is automatically granted the title of “victim” and the police and colleges etc will proceeed on the notion that he’s guilty. Straight men don’t have the option of waking up the next morning after some bad choices and claiming rape–or falsely charging it out of anger for something else–or to screw him incustody hearings by claiming abuse. Women who do falsely charge rape btw are rarely charged.

Fathers almost invariably lose in custody hearings regardless of the mother’s suitability, she chooses to have baby or not–she can even trick him to get pregnant (lie about pills, holes in condoms) and he’ll be legally on the hook. Hell, even the sexting that Rep Weiner did is being passed off a degrading women, or as exploitative–the immature feminism expoused by many can only see male sexuality as violent.

There’s plenty more, but where’s the space LOL As a gay man, I have little personal interest either way. Balance and justice is all that I’m asking for. In that respect and as a father of two young women, I would regard myself as part of a more-mature feminist movement that doesn’t depend on govtl paternalism. Just plain old justice heared before a jury of your peers.

Jarred
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

A man accused of rape in this country will sit in jail while his accuser is automatically granted the title of “victim” and the police and colleges etc will proceeed on the notion that he’s guilty.

Um, no.

Straight men don’t have the option of waking up the next morning after some bad choices and claiming rape–or falsely charging it out of anger for something else–or to screw him incustody hearings by claiming abuse. Women who do falsely charge rape btw are rarely charged.

Also, no.

Thorne Cassidy
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

ChiMaxx

Fair enough. I fight against the injustices against a murdered, unborn, viable baby in the same way that I oppose the discrimination against gays. It is simply a matter of justice. Of course there are extenuating circumstances in some late-term abortions–and I should have been clearer–esp since I was suggesting that others hadn’t been entirely thorough. This is unforgivable because the whole point I intended to make was that these extremes are themselves the problem. Take care.

chiMaxx
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Thorne:

Further: Those bloggers–at least the two I read regularly–don’t accuse those who are morally conflicted about abortion of “intolerance/ignorance/hatred of women.” They deploy those sorts of arguments against anti-abortion activists who kill abortion doctors or pass or advocate laws strictly limiting abortion. If that’s not you, then you’re not being attacked.

And the fact that you persist in using the term “murder” is probably another reason why I–and perhaps others–misunderstand your stance. Not every taking of a human life is “murder.” By insisting on the term “murder,” you’re much harder to find common ground with those who have moral discomfort around abortion and even believe that a human has been killed but don’t don’t think the best answer involves the blunt force of the law carting women and doctors off to prison or death row (which is what we do to people convicted of murder).

chiMaxx
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Thorne:

You write: “Of course there are extenuating circumstances in some late-term abortions.” But there are no extenuating circumstances that excuse a murder. If there are significant extenuating circumstances surrounding a killing, then we no longer consider or treat it as murder.

And you say the following as if it is self-evident, but it isn’t. It relies on a whole bunch of unstated assumptions and leaps of logic that are not at all obvious to someone who doesn’t already agree with you: “Fair enough. I fight against the injustices against a murdered, unborn, viable baby in the same way that I oppose the discrimination against gays. It is simply a matter of justice”

And you still haven’t answered the question: how would you change the law around abortion, if you could. The increase in *justice* for gays and lesbians has come through the writing of new laws to support our rights and the overturning of laws that suppressed us. How wold your stance on *justice* around abortion look if enacted into law?

You also kept harping on a handful of bloggers. And yes, Joe and Dan, at least, sometimes attack those who stake out extreme prohibitionist stances on abortion. But when asked about the issue more generally, their stances tend to fall into the mushy middle ground described by Timothy, That is clear in this interview with Dan Savage http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QQTlqxEluw and this memoir by Joe of JoeMyGod: http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2005/03/day-i-helped-kill-baby.html

fannie
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Thorne:

“First I’m three courses shy of a triple major in philosophy, history, Spanish lit with a minor in classical studies– I’m fairly fluent in feminist ideology.”

Without knowing the specifics of that course of study, I’m not sure how that triple major makes you “fairly fluent” in “feminist ideology.” I think a more accurate benchmark for fluency would be one’s familiarity with both modern and classic feminist works, including the phenomenon of internet feminism. I’d also remind folks that “feminist ideology” isn’t a monolithic thing.

Anyway, I’m a practicing attorney who studied Feminist Jurisprudence and as such I would also strongly question your assumptions about what happens to men accused of rape.

There is indeed “plenty” to say about your assumptions about what happens to men and women in the real world, but I agree that this limited forum isn’t the place to hash those out. I want to be respectful of the fact that this is someone else’s internet space.

More relevantly, Timothy Kincaid wrote a blog post that aptly recognized that politics, especially about moral issues, are nuanced. That it’s inaccruate to make assumptions and generalizations. So, I found it ironic that a couple commenters quickly stereotyped “all” lesbians as being pro-choice and an entire feminist blog community of viewing “heterosexual white men” as “inherently evil.”

I questioned how informed those critics are of both lesbians and the blogging community in question, because that hasn’t been my experience in life or at Shakesville at all.

If MKYLL (or anyone else) wants to back up his/her accusation, maybe they can let us know which part of this post frames “heterosexual white men” as “inherently evil”?

Thorne Cassidy
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Wow ChiMaxx

I’m not sure that the long answers that you’re exacting would be welcome in this forum.

You are mischaracterizing the way abortion opponents are talked about on these blogs–blogs that I am in all other ways a fan of. They don’t only bemoan “extremist” abortion positions, but rather include opponent leaders among the intolerant right along-side gay bashers. To say otherwise is to argue in bad faith, and to belie your other points as anyone here will plainly see, if they somehow haven’t seen before, the very next time they do it.

The ancient axiom would seem to be obvious: Do (or do not) to others… (Confucius, Jesus, Buddha) It informs all major systems of morality. If you wouldn’t want someone to tell you that you cant marry because of who you are… If you would like to be murdered while your defenseless…

Correct. There are no extenuating circumstances in murder (that I know of, I’d have to give it some thought). I was refering to the impeachable murder of late-term, viable, unborn babies. Where there are extenuating circumstances we call these things something else–in this case, they’re called abortions.

A sociopath (even if he is addressed as “doctor”) that helps murder, cut-up and leave to finish dying in a medical waste bin, any late-term, medically viable baby should be recognized in law for the criminal that he is. Notice that his criminality PRECEEDS the law.

Now I know this wont satisfy you and that you’re prepared to expand your demands, but in this forum, I fear, long-winded, non-liberal answers may not be so welcome. I’m not aiming to be the “troll” here. LOL I’d like to be able to come back. So… You win! Feel better?

fannie
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

“The ancient axiom would seem to be obvious: Do (or do not) to others… (Confucius, Jesus, Buddha) It informs all major systems of morality. If you wouldn’t want someone to tell you that you cant marry because of who you are… If you would like to be murdered while your defenseless…”

If you wouldn’t like to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term if your health were in danger, you were pregnant because you were raped, or you were unable to support the resulting child….

Let’s not invisiblize the adult human being who is also implicated in your Golden Rule scenario, Thorne. A fetus doesn’t magically spring forth of its own volition from the aether.

Thorne Cassidy
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

fannie

A lawyer who skipped over the details of my “extenuating circumstances” clause (rape/threat to mother’s life)LOL I empathize though, liberal bias has that effect–just kidding So, bad analogy: “If you wouldn’t like to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term if your health… raped…” But the “inability to support” is license to murder?!

An unborn baby doesn’t spring forth from the ether–but from the decisions of adults–males aren’t the only ones that the law should require to be adults…

BTW a decent liberal arts education isn’t possible without some familiarity with feminism as it is infused in most courses taught by the feminists who make up the majority of the staffs. And that’s not counting required feminist courses in each discipline. One should not have to be an expert on feminism itself and completely invested to suggest that there are harms visited upon the society at large. Indeed, I would argue that those who come at feminism from the indirect vantage of other and many disciplines actually have the advantage.

Thorne Cassidy
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

fannie

Please allow me this correction: I meant that aaan immature, male-bashing feminism visits harm onto society–not a genuine, independent feminism that isn’t dependednt on govtl paternalism.

chiMaxx
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Thorne:

No expansion of demands. But you have shown that, apart from the vague term “late term” that you insert, I fairly characterized your stance earlier. You would pass and enforce laws criminalizing the provision of abortion.

And no, his “criminality” does not precede the law. Law is what we use to define criminality. An act can be horrendous, immoral and sinful, but it is not criminal until there is a law making it a crime.

I think it is you who is mischaracterizing joeMyGod and Savage. I can’t speak to the other two because I read them infrequently. But this claim doesn’t make any sense: “They don’t only bemoan “extremist” abortion positions, but rather include opponent leaders among the intolerant right along-side gay bashers.” Almost by definition opponent leaders are going to take the most extreme positions, so you’re talking about one group here and pretending it’s two.

Timothy Kincaid
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

this is an interesting discussion…

Just a thought: often these discussion revolve (and devolve) around the extremes: rape, imminent threat to the mother’s health, etc.

I wonder if we would not all benefit from identifying our commonalities.

Would it not be accurate and fair to agree that:

1. It is neither physically or psychologically beneficial to a woman for her to treat abortion as a form of repetitive birth control.

2. It is abhorrent to unnecessarily terminate the life of a viable fetus.

3. In situations in which either the mother, the fetus or both are certain to die, abortion is not the moral equivalent of murder.

If we start from our shared values, I think that many of us just are not all that far apart. Politics and “sides” and liberal/conservative identity seem to be far bigger factors in disagreement than where we each draw the line.

Thorne Cassidy
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Tim K:

I’m on board and agree with all three points

Thorne Cassidy
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

ChiMaxx
I would criminalize murder of an unborn, viable baby, yes. One of the very few legitimate functions of the govt is to keep the powerful from infringing on rights of the weak. I would not criminalize an early abortion or a late-term abortion of a viable baby if the mother’s life were in danger, or any other of these extreme situations. Govt should enforce contracts, defend liberties, keep the peace–it’s reasonable to have laws to protect the defenseless child who can’t cry out for help from a monster that would murder her own child.

Thorne Cassidy
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

ChiMaxx

“law is what we use to to define criminality”

Read the declaration of indep “All men are created equal, endowed by their creator w/ certn unalienable rights…” Our Constitution and subsequent laws do not “give” rights, rather it attempts to articulate what already exists… One who would transgress such rights is a criminal with or without constitution and law.

Now, being a member of the left-fringe of the Democratublican, Big-Govt Party, you start from a different premise: that govt grants rights and even assigns moral value–like making the murder of an unborn okay, for instance. You and I do not agree on principles, and can therefore not begin to have a real discussion. Perhaps, Tim K above has a point. We might begin again with what we have in common. But honestly, I’m finding it a little difficult too.

fannie
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Thorne says:

“One should not have to be an expert on feminism itself and completely invested to suggest that there are harms visited upon the society at large. Indeed, I would argue that those who come at feminism from the indirect vantage of other and many disciplines actually have the advantage.”

Even with your subsequent clarification, it’s not entirely clear what your argument here is, although it sounds like it has something to do with how the Feminazis Are Ruining Everything And Are Incredibly Powerful In Academia.

Again, I’d like to reiterate that this isn’t the most appropriate forum for me to address that rather large can of worms.

I’m also curious as to what you mean by “those who come at feminism from the indirect vantage of other and many disciplines actually have the advantage.” An advantage at what, exactly?

As someone who didn’t major in feminism or women’s studies in undergrad, I’m very curious as to what your actual argument is.

Thorne Cassidy
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

fannie

Sorry I mis-read above. For some reason I thought your major was women’s studies and from there you went on to law–where did I get that? I’m not usually this sloppy.

No, I hold no animus towards feminists in academe–I merely pointed out that they are well-represented. Indeed, I regard myself as one–from a libertarian mold, rather than a mere extension of the dmocratic party. (That’s not necessarily aimed at you) I suspect that you have some preconceptions of me as well… Perhaps you and I should both stop trying to read into the others comments our biases

I have avoided the fascist label here because it is over-worked, and nolonger affects big-govt, statist folks left or right. But I do not believe that this label should be leveled against feminism in general.

chiMaxx
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Thorne: You need to read the NEXT sentence of the Declaration: “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” It is these just powers arising from the consent of the governed that gives the government the sole and exclusive right to define what is criminal.

The “unalienable rights” defines unjust government by standing in opposition. It does not define criminality. Governments just or unjust do that. The broad principles of unalienable endowed rights may help us define whether a system of government or of laws are just or unjust, but only the laws themselves define criminality.

What makes abortion always such a thorny issue is that you have two fundamental rights issues in conflict: The liberty interest of the pregnant woman versus the life interest of the fetus.

When it is the life interest of the mother versus the life interest of the fetus (wen carrying the baby to term would cause the mother’s death), almost everyone puts the life interest of the mother first.

When it is life versus liberty, at what point and under what circumstances do you give priority to potential life over actual liberty.

I cannot be as absolute as you, though I tend toward liberty, and would rather see mechanisms that make it easier for those faced with a dilemma to choose life as often as possible rather than using the coercive power of imprisonment.

fannie
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

No problem, Thorne. It wouldn’t be, like, a way-off assumption to assume a feminist might have majored in women’s studies. But I didn’t. :-) I actually used to be quite into Ayn Rand and objectivism immediately after college. Sigh.

“Read the declaration of indep ‘All men [sic] are created equal, endowed by their creator w/ certn unalienable rights…’ Our Constitution and subsequent laws do not “give” rights, rather it attempts to articulate what already exists…”

You seem to be asserting a natural law theory of morality here, Thorne. And, well, I put that [sic] in your quote, because however endowed we are with certain inalienable rights, there’s always going to be a problem with flawed humans interpreting what those rights are.

The Declaration you cited, of course, was signed by quite a few slave-owning men who, totally straight-faced, asserted that all men are created equal. You know, except for some men. And, like, all women.

So, when I hear someone say that something is absolutely wrong, I bristle. There’s a lot of gray, as Tim’s questions demonstrate. And, we overlap probably more than we think.

fannie
June 10th, 2011 | LINK

Tim’s questions:

1) I’m not sure what to make of this question, really, because I’m not sure what it means for a woman to “treat abortion as a repetitive form of birth control.” Like, and I’m going to be blunt here, did the condom break and now she’s pregnant? Did the pill not work? Did he not pull out when he said he would? Was nothing at all used during sex?

I’d also add that, because women aren’t a monolithic group, it would be better to add a “some” before the women. For some women, abortion is going to beneficial, for others, it might be harmful.

2) What does “unnecessarily” mean? That the woman’s life/health is in danger? In general, I am opposed to abortion after viability, unless the women’s life is in danger.

3) I agree.

I would add:

4) For some women, it can be physically or psychologically harmful for the state to force them to give birth to a child that they are not ready to have, that they cannot afford to support, that they created with an abusive partner, and/or that they created with a partner who is unavailable to help with raising the child.

Feel free to break that one into parts.

Donny D.
June 11th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid wrote:

I wonder if we would not all benefit from identifying our commonalities.

Would it not be accurate and fair to agree that:

1. It is neither physically or psychologically beneficial to a woman for her to treat abortion as a form of repetitive birth control.

2. It is abhorrent to unnecessarily terminate the life of a viable fetus.

3. In situations in which either the mother, the fetus or both are certain to die, abortion is not the moral equivalent of murder.

#2 is a value judgement (“abhorrent”) based on another value judgement (“necessarily”), so no, it isn’t objectively accurate. As to fairness, who gets to decide when an abortion is necessary or not?

In #1, I have to wonder what’s going wrong in a woman’s life if she has to resort to the physical rigors and expense of multiple abortions. If a woman would subject herself to that, there have to be reasons.

Personally, I think that talking about how we feel about abortion is a waste of time until we each answer the following questions: “Are you in favor of a woman having unrestricted access to abortion whenever she feels she needs one? If no, do you think that women should have access to abortion, but with restrictions, and what should those restrictions be?”

Myself, I’m in favor of women having unrestricted access to abortion; and in places where women are denied that due to prohibitive expense, the local lack of interest in providing abortion services by private medicine or where would be abortion providers have been intimidated into not being providers, I believe that government’s role is to ensure women have access.

Having answered those questions, I think that, generally speaking, a fetus that would be viable outside the womb should be saved if that can be done without harm to the mother, but I’m not willing to see that enshrined in law.

Anyone disputing, much less attacking, what I’ve written in the previous two paragraphs should also give his/her answers to the questions three paragraphs above.

Thorne Cassidy
June 11th, 2011 | LINK

fannie

I completely agree with your response to me, but with no part of your 4th point/addition to Tim’s suggested common areas–again you’re ignoring the innocent child that shouldn’t die because the mother is broke or made poor relationship choices.

ChiMaxx

It doesn’t necessarily follow that the consent of the governed grant such unbridled authority–particularly moral authority. For instance, you would likely argue that a majority of americans should not be able to vote away gay rights or a wife’s right to deny sex to her husband…

Our declaration makes it perfectly clear that it is the right of the people to throw off illegitimate usurpations by govt. To fall back on a technical definition of “criminality” is to play semantics. One can’t murder without govt? Are you trying to argue in good faith?

Thorne Cassidy
June 11th, 2011 | LINK

Notice how anyone that is okay with killing an unborn, viable, late-term baby always calls it a “fetus”? Like those who assault equality for gays use the term “homosexual,” so that we aren’t seen as people, but rather a sex act? A procedure and a fetus–not killing a baby? Semantics.

chiMaxx
June 11th, 2011 | LINK

Thorne:

You write: “It doesn’t necessarily follow that the consent of the governed grant such unbridled authority–particularly moral authority.” I said nothing about moral authority. Criminal is a legal term, not a moral one, thus it falls fully within the government to define. The people can push back against laws they find to be unjust, but it is the law itself that defines what is criminal. Even if everyone you know agrees “there oughta be a law,” an action–even one that “everyone” agrees is morally reprehensible–isn’t illegal or criminal until there actually is law against it.

BTW: A wife didn’t have the right to deny sex to her husband in America until the mid 19th century. Neither the Constitution when signed nor the laws nor the Declaration of Independence nor the common understanding of unalienable rights gave her that right. It took the efforts of Susan B. Anthony and the feminists of the mid- to early 1800s to have that right recognized here. And a right that no one recognizes is not a right in practice at all. Many women in other nations and cultures still don’t have that right.

No, one cannot murder without government. Words have meanings, and try to find a definition of murder that doesn’t say that murder is the illegal taking of a human life with malice aforethought. What is legal and illegal is determined by laws, so that the killing of a soldier on the battlefield is not murder, even though it is done with clear planning and intent. And that is why, no matter how man times you say it, abortion is *not* murder. Is there a killing, yes: A life is ended. But it is not illegal so it is not murder. You may argue that it *should* be murder, but you cannot argue that is *is* murder if you want to live in a world where words have meanings.

And a fetus is not a baby any more than a baby is a teenager or a teenager is a senior citizen. Each of those stages of life has a goalpost that must be reached–turning 65, turning 13, being born.

BTW: I am as impatient with those who would argue that a fetus is not a life as with those who would argue that a fetus is a baby. Abortion is not just a procedure on a lump of cells: A life is ended. But it is also not murder.

It is you who wants to play Alice in Wonderland games, calling things what they are not.

Again, the questions we must answer at each stage is how much we weigh the liberty interest of the pregnant woman against the interest in its life of the fetus inside her, and how much we want to use the blunt force of the law to show our disapproval of her actions (even though evidence shows that harsh abortion laws don’t actually reduce the number of abortions but just lead to more dead young women) versus using moral suasion, peer pressure and social support to make sure that other alternatives (adoption, raising the child herself) are seen as real, workable choices.

chiMaxx
June 11th, 2011 | LINK

I have the same problem with Timothy’s list that a lot of others do–a lot of abstract loaded terms that don’t reflect reality.

Would it not be accurate and fair to agree that:

1. It is neither physically or psychologically beneficial to a woman for her to treat abortion as a form of repetitive birth control.

Lots of loaded terms here when “both first timers and repeaters overwhelmingly reject the premise that abortion is a primary or even a back-up birth control method.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1619322/

I don’t think anyone sees even one abortion as abstractly beneficial (“I need a “me” day: Should I save up and go to a spa? Or get pregnant and have a relaxing afternoon at the abortion clinic?”), just a better alternative than not. Repetition doesn’t change that.

2. It is abhorrent to unnecessarily terminate the life of a viable fetus.

“Unnecessarily” is doing way too much work here. And abhorrent is not an absolute. Do we abhor it more than an ugly shirt and less than the conscious targeting of civilians in a war zone? And I guess I put more weight on the liberty interest of the pregnant mother than you. I want her to choose life, all things being equal, but I respect her liberty to weigh the options and consequences and make the choice, and I will not abhor her for weighing those things differently than I would.

3. In situations in which either the mother, the fetus or both are certain to die, abortion is not the moral equivalent of murder.

I agree but think the condition is too narrow.

Donny D.
June 11th, 2011 | LINK

chiMaxx wrote

I want her to choose life

This planet is grossly overpopulated by our species and it’s getting worse by the hour. If we are against compulsory heterosexuality and breeding as the ideal, then why are “we” in favor of a woman giving birth whenever possible, even if she has a safe option not to?

It’s as though some of you who support the availability of abortion feel you have justify that by making a big deal about how mournful and tragic abortion always is, and how morally awful and wrong it is in your own eyes, even though you would never, ever lay that on a woman who was trying to decide if she should have an abortion, though you would be hoping all the while she was making her decision that she’d decide against the abortion, though of course you would want her to do what was best for her….

Thorne Cassidy
June 11th, 2011 | LINK

ChiMaxx

Semantics

chiMaxx
June 11th, 2011 | LINK

Thorne:

Words have meaning.

Eric in Oakland
June 12th, 2011 | LINK

Isn’t it more than a little dishonest to frame the abortion debate as being about “killing viable late term fetuses”? If so, there wouldn’t be much of a debate since the majority of moderates and maybe even leftists are not fighting for this. It is just a strawman created by the far right. What is actually being attempted by right wing politicians is much more extreme. Recent examples include defunding Planned Parenthood, withholding funds from medical schools that teach abortion procedures, requiring criminal investigations of miscarriages, and forcing women to pay for an ultrasound before any abortion no matter how early.

Amicus
June 12th, 2011 | LINK

Tim (and Eric), It does seem that the reason popular discussions of the morality of abortion “devolves” so often the way it does is testament to the success that the right wing political industry on the topic has so thoroughly set the terms of the debate.

Loki
June 12th, 2011 | LINK

I believe what this article is uncovering is that the next generation is more libertarian

The idea that the Millennial generation is more libertarian is laughable. 44% of Millennial identify as liberal or progressive, and only 28% consider themselves conservative or libertarian. The presidency of George W Bush was an all around disaster for the Republicans, one which ensured that the largest ever American generation would soundly reject conservatism. Millennials are not particularly fond of Democrats, but they hate Republicans.

fannie
June 13th, 2011 | LINK

Thorne said:

“I completely agree with your response to me, but with no part of your 4th point/addition to Tim’s suggested common areas–again you’re ignoring the innocent child that shouldn’t die because the mother is broke or made poor relationship choices.”

I strongly encourage you to re-read my 4th point. I said:

“For some women, it can be physically or psychologically harmful for the state to force them to give birth to a child that they are not ready to have, that they cannot afford to support, that they created with an abusive partner, and/or that they created with a partner who is unavailable to help with raising the child.”

I didn’t ask you whether you supported abortion in these cases, just whether you agreed that the statement is true for some women. So, when you said you disagreed with my statement, you’re saying that no woman on the planet is harmed when a state forces her to give birth against her will.

I’m not sure that’s what you intended to argue.

But if so… um, wow.

Since this is the second time in our conversation that you’ve failed to read closely and have made inaccurate assumptions, I encourage you to be more careful.

fannie
June 13th, 2011 | LINK

I also see that none of the shakesville/feminist bashers have re-appeared to back up their bold statements with, you know, actual evidence.

Duly noted.

Timothy Kincaid
June 13th, 2011 | LINK

fannie,

In Point 1, the key words are a form of repetitive birth control. I’m trying to get the extremes off the table up front. So no, this isn’t a ‘condom broke’ example – that is a debatable and arguable example, not a “we can all agree” example.

Your Point 4: I personally think everything you said is true and relevant to the debate. But I think it differs from my points in that this point starts to argue the middle, it’s an argument to “win” on where to place the line.

everyone,

I’m just trying to get common ground and eliminate the extremes. I think so much yelling and screaming is spent on late-term abortions and on rape of a young girl to prove the other side extreme when there really are few people who would not allow a rape victim some peace or who favors abortion in the ninth month. It’s mostly strawmen and not worthy of a good argument of the merits.

I”m not terribly informed on the subject, but it is my impression that the vast overwhelming number of abortions (or those considering abortion) are women who unexpectedly got pregnant, are not in a life position that seems to be conducive to being a parent to the child, and who respond very early on in the pregnancy. For some bizarre reason, no one ever wants to talk about that (though fannie’s point 4 did). Instead it’s mostly screaming about the tiny tiny percentage who are crack whores or raped virgins.

Obviously, I wasn’t very successful at my effort to eliminate extremes because others found “loaded terms” and some apparently think it is not abhorrent to unnecessarily terminate the life of a viable fetus. So much for common ground.

I’m sad that this debate truly is one in which winning is defined as the total destruction of “the other side”. Concede nothing ever, anytime, no matter how reasonable.

When I think that really, most folks really just differ by a narrow range. (And if I can guess from the above comments, fannie and Thorne – despite their political differences – would probably draw the line not too too far from the same place).

(And sorry, ChiMaxx…. but I don’t buy that you really are as cavalier about terminating the live of a viable fetus as you pretend. Or I really hope not. Surely that’s an area we can find agreement?)

Désirée
June 13th, 2011 | LINK

While I applaud you Timothy on trying to find common ground, I highly doubt such a landmass can be found. Just as a person is either pregnant or not, abortion is either killing or it isn’t. Some people may try to “find a middle point” but saying anything up to [insert some time between 1 and 9 months] is acceptable, such as “any time up to brain wave activity is ok, after that, it’s a person” but to those opposed, this is just an arbitrary line – if it’s a person after that moment, then it was a person before that moment. The anti-abortion crowd just can’t afford to give any ground. If they do, then they have lost since their whole point is that life begins at conception. The pro-choice people try to offer concessions involving the time frame (no late term abortions, etc) but I fear this is a debate that will never have any winners since the divide is one of base philosophy (a fetus is a living person deserving of rights or it isn’t).

Timothy Kincaid
June 13th, 2011 | LINK

Desiree…

I agree that the placard waving folks have no middle ground. But check out the report. I think you’ll find that the chart on page 12 illustrates that most folk don’t have a “It’s murder or it isn’t” perspective.

And I truly don’t think that frowning on late term abortions is a concession. That sounds like pro-choice folk favor late-term abortions and I very much doubt that many do (the polls show that hardly anyone supports LTAs – other than for the health of the mother, so there’s a lot of pro-choice folks that want to protect a woman’s rights… but not that right, per se). I think that LTA is just something that everyone can mostly agree on.

fannie
June 14th, 2011 | LINK

At the end of your post, Tim, you state:

“Those who view the gay community as a subset of the Democratic Party and a coalition partner in a progressive political alliance may come to find that this approach hinders their abilities in approaching the growing number of conservative, religious, or Republican gay allies.”

Here, you seem to be suggesting that some withing “the gay community” will rise up and be willing to ally with conservative, etc, allies who are anti-choice if these people support same-sex marriage. I’m not sure who you mean by “gay community” (gay men only? or LGBT?), but either way I think a gay/LGBT alliance with those who are anti-choice would further fragment the LGBT community.

For me, marriage equality, rather than being my end-goal, is but one policy I support under a broader rubric of personal choice, privacy, liberation from gender stereotypes, and bodily autonomy for adults.

I think many in the LGBT community feel similarly and wouldn’t be willing to undercut these broader goals for the sake of winning one battle. They also won’t appreciate those who throw some people’s rights under the bus while obtaining their own.

chiMaxx
June 14th, 2011 | LINK

Sorry if I sounded cavalier, Timothy. That was not my intention. In the abstract, sure, late-term abortion of viable pregnancies is abhorrent. But things don’t happen in the abstract: They happen to real people who have to make real decisions. I just remember reading the powerful series of testimonials on late-term abortion on Andrew Sullivan’s blog in 2009 — http://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2009/06/its-so-personal-a-round-up/200913/ . And reading all these very personal stories, I don’t trust any third party–including myself–to decide for the people who had to make what were often heart-wrenching decisions what is abhorrent or not, what is necessary or unnecessary.

fannie
June 14th, 2011 | LINK

“Your Point 4: I personally think everything you said is true and relevant to the debate. But I think it differs from my points in that this point starts to argue the middle, it’s an argument to ‘win’ on where to place the line.”

I’m not sure I follow what you’re saying here. My statement rested on the assumption that most people wouldn’t find it controversial, arguable, or extreme that it might be harmful to “some women” to be forced to give birth against their will.

Given my qualifiers, it seems like a reasonable and honest concession for those opposed to abortion to admit, even if they ultimately give more weight to the harm suffered by the fetus.

Timothy Kincaid
June 14th, 2011 | LINK

fannie,

if you have no interest in finding common ground, then there isn’t much purpose in me continuing that line of thought, is there?

chiMaxx
June 14th, 2011 | LINK

I mean, Timothy: Say you have a mother of three who is the primary breadwinner for the family. Late in her fourth pregnancy it becomes clear that the baby will be born alive with a condition that has a 90% chance of killing it within a few months of birth, but that may live to the age of three–but they would be three very expensive years in terms of health care (expensive enough that it would substantially affect the health care and higher education choices of the older children). And giving birth will damage the woman’s health. Do you want to be the one to decide what is necessary for this woman and her supportive but disabled husband? Having the abortion at this stage makes it unlikely that she will be able to get pregnant again, and she and her husband wanted a large family. How is abstractly declaring late-term abortion of a viable fetus abhorrent (or not) helpful to her, her husband, her doctor and her other trusted advisors as they make this decision? Should the couple choose abortion, who would you want to second-guess their view as to its necessity? Do you want to?

The *only* thing I know is that I want her to be the one to decide, with the guidance of whoever she trusts–not some judge or legislator–because she and the rest of her family are the ones who will have to live with the consequences of the decision, and the lifetime of doubt over whether they made the right choice.

In last night’s Republican presidential nominee debate, Michele Bachmann dismissed victims of rape and incest as outliers who too often cloud the debate–but I see this as an issue where nearly everyone is an outlier in some way or other, with personal circumstances that make generalized statements about abhorrence and necessity pretty much beside the point.

Timothy Kincaid
June 14th, 2011 | LINK

chiMaxx,

You aren’t wanting to find areas of agreement. You are looking for areas of argument.

I have no interest whatsoever in playing the “but what if” game.

You can play the extremes all you like. But eventually me and the 80% or so in the middle will tune out your extremely rare and bizarre examples. I almost never agree with Michelle Bachman, but if she said that the debate shouldn’t be over the outliers then she’s right.

Richard Rush
June 14th, 2011 | LINK

While I do not follow the abortion issue in much detail, my understanding is that the VAST number of late-term abortions occur after gut-wrenching decisions due to complications with the fetus and/or the mother. Andrew Sullivan published a series of personal stories. Here is a compilation (but it is not all of them):

http://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2009/06/its-so-personal-a-round-up/200913/

chiMaxx’s hypothetical scenario may be extreme, but it seems closer to the rule, rather than the exception, for late-term abortions. My opinion is that the mother should always be making the final decision.

chiMaxx
June 14th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy:

Looking at your response to fannie, I’d say it’s you who isn’t willing to find areas of agreement. Arguing that whatever harm might come to “some women” to be forced to give birth against their will is less important than the harm to the fetus would be a respectable position with which other might disagree. Pretending that there would be no harm to an women in that situation makes you the one unwilling ot find common ground.

I can’t read all the testimony on Sullivan’s blog linked to above, posted in the wake of the assassination of George Tiller, read of the real decisions faced by real people, and think anything other than that any set of laws we make are too procrustean for the real choices that people have to make.

And the survey offers strong support for my stance, because even those who thought that there should be some restrictions on abortion believed overwhelmingly “at least some health care professionals in their communities should provide legal abortions.”

But our differences actually undermine one of the key findings in the survey: “Having a situationalist rather than a principle-based approach to morality has a positive impact on support for the legality of abortion.”

Timothy Kincaid
June 14th, 2011 | LINK

I think I need to revise my assumptions. Based on this thread, I now believe:

1) those interested in debating the issue have exactly zero interest in common ground,

2) the vast majority of us have already found our common ground… which is to step out of the way and let the small percentage on either side battle each other.

So I’ll step out of the battle zone. Have fun.

chiMaxx
June 14th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy:

I think your beliefs are mistaken. Rather, I think we have reached the point of the Backfire Effect: http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/

You want to believe that workable absolute rules (moral lines and perhaps laws) can be drawn around at least parts of this issue, and you’re willing to jettison or ignore the individual stories of individual people–and the available evidence about who actually has late-term abortions and why–in order to draw them.

Where is my backfire effect happening? Not sure; It’s always easier to see where the other person is ignoring evidence that contradicts his theory.

How about this for a different common ground starting point (drawn from this interview with Dan Savage and Amy Richards: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QQTlqxEluw ):

No matter what we think about legal restrictions on abortion, we need to bolster supportive services for adoption and for mothers who decide to keep their baby so that no pregnant woman ever believes that abortion is the only viable choice for her.

Donny D.
June 15th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid wrote,

everyone,

I’m just trying to get common ground and eliminate the extremes.

You’ve won me over to the idea that this would be a valuable thing to do in this discussion. More on that later.

I think so much yelling and screaming is spent on late-term abortions and on rape of a young girl to prove the other side extreme when there really are few people who would not allow a rape victim some peace or who favors abortion in the ninth month. It’s mostly strawmen and not worthy of a good argument of the merits.

Based on what I’ve seen out in the world, part of this isn’t correct. My understanding is that a state legislature or two recently have passed anti-abortion legislation that have no exceptions for rape. Over the course of years we keep hearing from politicians who are against rape exceptions. I’m also told that some politicians have implemented anti-abortion laws with problematic rape exceptions, written in such a way as to make it difficult or impossible for many women to qualify for them.

Obviously, I wasn’t very successful at my effort to eliminate extremes because others found “loaded terms”

If three of the four people who commented on your 2nd point found loaded terms in it, don’t you think it’s possible that it did contain loaded terms?

and some apparently think it is not abhorrent to unnecessarily terminate the life of a viable fetus.

The three of us who had problems with your 2nd point all had problems with its phrasing, and all of us specifically had a problem with your use of the word “necessarily”.

Are you not able to at least consider that the question may have been phrased poorly?

So much for common ground.

Timothy, you posted a single list of three possible “common ground” statements, and some of us had problems with some of the phrasings — and those who commented mostly had different takes on your statements. And your response to that is “So much for common ground”?

I think you’re being way too quick in dismissing our responses, which didn’t seem to me antagonistic or combative. Coming up with a list of common ground statements is something that might easily not happen on a first draft with a traditionally contentious issue. But it’s almost as though you were ready early on to react this way to anything other than complete agreement.

I’m sad that this debate truly is one in which winning is defined as the total destruction of “the other side”.

This seems to me to be a discussion rather than a debate. I think the other participants have already accepted that we aren’t going to win anyone else over to our individual ways of thinking.

Concede nothing ever, anytime, no matter how reasonable.

If something is reasonable to you and not someone else, or vice versa, you and they haven’t found common ground. Reasonableness is subjective.

Donny D.
June 15th, 2011 | LINK

My approach to posting possible gommon ground statements will be to only be concerned with commenters here on Box Turtle Bulletin, and to work inward from what I think everyone here would NOT agree with. Here’s my present list:

1) All of us value human life. None of us worships a war god, favors human sacrifice, think it’s great when the strong kill the weak, or think that murder or mass death are good things. But within that, our views on valuing human life might differ in some important particulars.

2) None of us are fascists, genocidal chauvinists or fans of eugenics. None of us want to see abortion used to reduce the numbers of or eliminate marginalized groups of people.

3) None of us are doctrinaire procreationists. None of us are opposed to contraception.

4) All of us are in favor of the availability of abortion for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

5) All of us believe that successfully preventing pregnancy with contraception is generally better than having an abortion. This does not mean that any of us believes that the availability of contraception justifies restrictions on abortion, though some of us may.

6) All of us believes aborting a fetus that would be viable outside the womb is generally to be avoided. This does not mean that we agree on when such an abortion couldn’t be avoided, except for the following case:

7) All of us believe that abortion of a fetus gestated for any length of time is preferable to the death of the mother.

I post this list with the understanding that with the blog item passing from the current page of the blog, it might not be read by anyone. :)

But if anyone has, I’d like your input, ESPECIALLY if you believe any of these points is invalid for anyone posting here.

Timothy (TRiG)
June 15th, 2011 | LINK

Donny D.

I’d agree with all your points, and I strongly suspect everyone else would too.

It looks like Timothy Kincaid wasn’t actually interested in finding “common ground”. He posted an attempt at it, people tried to refine that, and he threw his hands in the air and had a hissy fit.

Odd. He’s usually better than that.

TRiG.

Priya Lynn
June 15th, 2011 | LINK

A lot of people think some women use abortion as a form of repetitive birth control but that’s a myth. There’s no woman out there who’s going to conciously choose a regular invasive major procedure for birth control over swallowing a little pill every day. Please, let’s drop this absurd idea that any woman conciously uses abortion as a form of ongoing birth control.

Timothy Kincaid
June 15th, 2011 | LINK

Donny D,

I don’t find any fault with your list. Perhaps I falsely assumed that the BTB crowd was a bit more in the center than was actually the case.

(Though, on Point 3 I think you might be mistaken. I would not be surprised to find that some BTB readers do not favor contraception.

And it’s possible that some may disagree on Point 7. Some, if given a mother v. child choice, may not automatically and always choose the life of the mother. Interestingly, in previous centuries, there was often an automatic assumption in favor of the child.)

I wish you luck with your list of points. I hope that it will not be heavily scrutinized to find the one word or inflection for which some bizarro example can be created to defeat your effort.

If you can find common ground, I’ll champion your list.

Timothy Kincaid
June 15th, 2011 | LINK

chiMaxx

Despite all the “you want to believe” strawman nonsense, I think that you did find another point on which we should all be able to agree:

No matter what we think about legal restrictions on abortion, we need to bolster supportive services for adoption and for mothers who decide to keep their baby so that no pregnant woman ever believes that abortion is the only viable choice for her.

chiMaxx
June 15th, 2011 | LINK

Exactly. Saying “Let’s find common ground. Do You agree to this?” And then throwing up your hands and saying “Well, obviously you aren’t looking to find common ground” the minute someone objects to one of your proposed points means that you aren’t looking for common ground but trying to get everyone to agree with you.

And usually Timothy Kincaid is better than that.

But this issue tends to bring out the Backfire Effect fairly quickly in people.

Priya Lynn: Human behavior is weird enough that I try to avoid saying something never happens. In a world where a woman has years of plastic surgery to make her look like a lion, almost anything is possible. But your general point is correct. In the study I linked to above none of the women accessing abortion services were using it in that way ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1619322/ ). If this happens, it is extremely rare, and making it part of the policy/morality/legality discussion is like including the stunt-riding of Evel Knievel in a traffic study meant to determine whether your village needs more traffic lights or speed bumps.

Timothy Kincaid
June 15th, 2011 | LINK

If this happens, it is extremely rare, and making it part of the policy/morality/legality discussion is like including the stunt-riding of Evel Knievel in a traffic study meant to determine whether your village needs more traffic lights or speed bumps.

To which there are two responses:

1) we can say, “Okay, we all agree that we should not drive through town like Evil Knievel. So let’s move on to the real issue”

2) we can say, “But Evil Knievel doesn’t live here. Why are you bringing him here? You’re just trying to skew the report. And what about the handicapped person who uses special equipment in her vehicle. Let’s talk about her. Let’s have her test out the traffic bumps.”

Which response do you think leads to a solution? Which one just exacerbates the process?

chiMaxx
June 15th, 2011 | LINK

Donny D: I like your list, though I’d probably want to soften #7

7) All of us believe that if abortion is necessary to save the expectant mother’s life, choosing the mother’s life over the fetus’s is never wrong.

There are in fact some people–including some expectant mothers–who would value their unborn child’s life over the life of the expectant mother. I would never want their conviction in this to become the default for public policy, but I would also not want to take away an individual woman’s option to freely make that choice.

chiMaxx
June 15th, 2011 | LINK

Definitely the second. Because handicapped issues around speed bumps are real. And the first approach is just a license for more nonserious people to further skew the debate with additional and more outlandish frivolous issues. Okay, fine: We’ll also specify that alien spacecraft must obey our traffic signals, and we’ll add some money into the budget to transmit the laws into space in Morse code on the proper frequencies so the aliens can’t claim ignorance of the law. Next issue?

chiMaxx
June 15th, 2011 | LINK

The first approach also lets professional fearmongers continue to spread the myth that the town really does have an Evel Knievel problem, because hey, the city council wouldn’t be including it in the report if it wasn’t a real problem. Eventually, the traffic experts have to write reports about whether the Evel Knievel problem is getting better or worse because no one listens to them when they say that there is no Evel Knievel problem.

chiMaxx
June 15th, 2011 | LINK

I mean, c’mon Timothy. It seems to me that one of the founding missions of this site was to not allow people to continue to go unchallenged when they try to framethe debate around fake issues, false assumption and bad or misinterpreted data. Why should that not also be the case when the issue is abortion rather than same-sex marriage?

chiMaxx
June 29th, 2011 | LINK

This thread is long off the front page, but I think it’s an appropriate place to point to the Pro-Choice Pledge — http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2011/06/28/a-new-and-improved-pro-choice-pledge — and suggest that its point number 4 would be a good place to start building *real* common ground on this issue:
“4. I will support universal access to affordable contraception and accurate sex education, with the full knowledge that it is easier and safer to prevent an unwanted pregnancy than to end one.”

Timothy Kincaid
June 29th, 2011 | LINK

chiMaxx,

If “universal access to affordable contraception” equals taxpayer funding of contraception, you are not going to find that this is common ground. I suspect you already know this.

If one truly wants common ground, one starts with the points with which all sides agree, not the points with which one thinks all sides should agree.

chiMaxx
June 30th, 2011 | LINK

I was actually more focused on the second part of the statement “it is easier and safer to prevent an unwanted pregnancy than to end one” as something everyone could agree to. Nor does “universal access to affordable contraception” necessarily equal taxpayer funding of contraception. (If gay bars could routinely offer fishbowls full of free condoms on the bar for more than a decade, there’s no reason that straight bars can’t do the same.)

Chastising *me* for trying to pass off “points with which one thinks all sides should agree” as points with which all sides can agree…that’s rich, coming from the man who bristled at any criticism of his proposed points of common ground.

So, am I correct that most people would agree that “it is easier and safer to prevent an unwanted pregnancy than to end one” and that we should structure public policy, education and messaging in ways that encourage the former rather than the latter? If we agree on that, how would you suggest restructuring the first half of the sentence?

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